Doing some housecleaning today in the kitchen and the room next to it. The room next to our kitchen is kind of a warming room, at least that is how I look at it, but we also call it the library annex since it is next to the library and will, most likely, contain a number of bookshelves and lots of books.
The room’s most distinguishing feature is the mantle and fireplace. It is gorgeous. They literally do not make them like this anymore.
I can’t wait until the day I am able to make a small fire in there, and enjoy the space by sitting with Kelly while having a glass of port or Madeira and maybe some of the furkids warm themselves in front of it too.
As we had mentioned earlier, we had been looking for a house in Vermont for some time. We had been looking for months, and then a few days before Christmas last year, we put in an offer on this house. That offer was not accepted for a good while. That’s a long story.
Well. It has been a long, long time since either of us posted here. But to be honest, we really had a lot going on. After all, we packed up all our stuff, put it in storage, moved to a long-term hotel, found someone who could board both of our cats, cleaned out and fixed up the house in Winthrop, sold that house, looked endlessly for another house in Vermont, finally found it, put in an offer, waited for it to be accepted while we struggled to find others, got our offer accepted, then had to threaten to take the seller to court after he had signed the purchase and sale agreement and then changed his mind, moved to another hotel, finally closed on the house six months after our initial offer, found contractors, struggled to get them scheduled in a timely fashion, looked for new jobs, changed hotels again, found new jobs, started new jobs, moved into the basement of the house, got Vermont identification and car registration, and waited for all the contractors to finish their work so we could figure out when we could actually move into the actual house and not have to sleep on Army cots in the basement anymore.
And if you think that’s a lot, that’s really just the abridged version. We also lost our beloved Scratch Fury, who suddenly threw a clot, became paralyzed while boarding, and then rapidly deteriorated, so we had to quickly go see him while we still could.
Oh yeah, and I also had my left knee replaced, and had to undergo the surgery, recovery, and physical therapy while all this other crap was going on. Like I said, busy.
So anyway. We finally found the sort of house we wanted, in the village of Bellows Falls in the town of Rockingham in Windham County, nestled in the southeast corner of the state. This beautiful old Victorian was built in 1904, and came with a first-generation garage that was built sometime in the 1920’s. Both the house and the garage are part of the Bellows Falls Historic District.
So there have been a LOT of projects here since we closed on the house in June. The first was replacing the roof on both the house and the garage. We also repaired (inside) and replaced (above the roof) the chimney.
We also had the entire electrical system rewired, as it was largely still knob and tube, and while the electricians did that they also wired parts of the house for ethernet and for speakers. They even replaced some of the fixtures with pretty ones that Kelly and I had found on craigslist.org. Some were cheap, and some were free. Much shopping Kung fu on Kelly’s part.
Also also wik, we had all the wallpaper taken down and we picked some lovely (and historically appropriate) colors for the walls. They really turned out beautifully.
There were also some other improvements made to the house, such as improving the half bathroom next to the kitchen and making some other adjustments and improvements to the plumbing in the basement. We also got a brand-new dryer (the old one died a sudden death, after popping the breaker a few times) and as of this weekend, we will also have a new kitchen refrigerator. The old basement fridge died within 48 hours of the dryer dying, and so we had the contractors move the old kitchen fridge to the basement to take its place. We also added a security system, which is nice for seeing when packages get dropped off. Seriously, it works GREAT for that. And we had gutters added to the house, because it didn’t have any for some reason. We also had to make some adjustments to the fence in the back yard, after Nymeria proved she was more than a match for it on several occasions.
So I will make a point of doing some follow-up posts to show you our progress.
Kelly and I took Dash and Nymeria with us to southeastern Vermont this past weekend. The weather was mostly sunny and actually got quite hot for Vermont. But the dogs generally enjoyed themselves, as did we.
We have become particularly fond of that part of Vermont, basically between Springfield and Brattleboro, and are doing a lot of sightseeing and antique shopping in it. It’s amazing how much greenery there is. I can imagine why so many people come here in autumn.
Some years ago, my Neurologist said to me, “You sing, right?” And the rest, as they say, is history. I’m not sure how many years it has been since that fateful question, but this Plague Year is the first year since then that I’ve not been a part of the WhenPatientsHealYou annual concert. COVID kind of got in the way of that.
Considering how dangerously close we had gotten to World War III during the Cuban Missile Crisis the previous October, this treaty was a long step towards a permanent solution to the dangers of nuclear war. I am old enough to remember the last few times we really had to worry about nuclear war, like back in 1983. That was the year the TV movie “The Day After” came out, and also happened to be the year we had a couple of close calls of which the American public was blissfully unaware.
Today is the 82nd anniversary of the day the “Long Island Express” came ashore on Long Island, New York. This is the storm that my grandparents’ generation always talked about when they talked about how bad hurricanes in New England could get.
It is hard for me to write in general these days, because there is so much going on that depresses me and things just continually seem to get worse. It constantly feels like things are on the precipice of getting completely out of hand, and our national leadership seems intent on saying and doing things that generally don’t help and sometimes actually make things worse.
I suppose that compared to a deadly global pandemic, economic disaster, and widespread civil unrest across the country, the loss of a single statue in Madison, Wisconsin, is not that big a deal. But I still can’t help but feel a little affected by the destruction of the statue of Colonel Hans Christian Heg last night.
After filling out many applications for many different dogs, Kelly and I were finally approved for adoption of a lovely little girl.
Everyone, meet The Baroness Nymeria Frieda von Hopkins-Michael. Her friends call her Nymeria. She is a short-haired dapple red boar mini-dachshund weighing about 8 pounds with startling blue eyes. She came from a rescue called Out of the Woods Rescue.
Dash and Nymeria enjoy a sunbeam together in our kitchen near the door to the deck.
Like her dearly missed older sister, Thumbelina, she is a puppy mill rescue. Nymeria comes from Pennsylvania, in Amish country. She did not even have a name, just a tag that said “11”.
She was born in September 2016 so she is about 3 1/2 years old. So she is by far the baby of the household now, which is kind of ironic since she has had a litter of puppies every heat since she was able. This poor little girl lived in a rabbit hutch with a wire floor for pretty much her entire life, until she was rescued.
Still, she seems to be in pretty good shape considering all she has been through. She has her appointment with our vet scheduled this next weekend, but her foster mom, Chrissy, and the good folks at Out of the Woods did an amazing job with her initial shots, her spay, and her dental in which she lost17 teeth!
She is full of energy and has a great sense of curiosity. So far she gets along well with all the other animals. Just this weekend she touched noses with Violet, which was a huge and pleasant surprise. There were cats in her foster hom who she apparently ignored, but Violet was very concerned upon her arrival. But she doesn’t seem interested in chasing them, and so far she has only had a passing interest in them at all.
She and Dash LOVE to play together, and it’s great because now he will be worn out enough to go to bed without much fuss, the way he would after a long day of walking around at Brimfield.
She is named after Nymeria, one of the direwolves from ASOIAF/Game of Thrones, and after Frieda, a character from Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.
The good folks at Out of the Woods Rescue sent us home with food, medicine, toys, and so much more. I can’t tell you how thankful we were for their treatment of our still scared but wonderful little girl. If you are so inclined, please celebrate with us by making a donation so they can continue their excellent work.
I’ll be honest, I have been dreading writing this since the day I realized I’d have to do it. I know that when we take an animal into our home we get the better end of the deal. We provide them with food, shelter, medical care, and love and in exchange they give us everything – absolute love, cuddles, comic relief – in short their whole entire selves. The hardest part of the bargain is that we have to help them leave this world when they’re ready to go.
Rarely are we gifted with an animal that falls asleep and doesn’t wake up. We live in a world where we have veterinary medicine that keeps them healthy through ailments that once would have killed them. We owe them this considering their domestication, the jobs they do for us, and their overpopulation – a problem we’ve created.
But it doesn’t make it any less heart rending to hold them and release them from their pain when the end is finally here. And, after 18 years, that’s what we had to do for Thumbelina yesterday. It was time.
Thumbelina came into my life through the now defunct PuppymillRescue.com (PMR). They got dogs out of puppy mills, mostly in Missouri and other high mill states, and got them into foster care and then good homes. I had always wanted a dachshund and after some terrible trauma in my early 20’s I was ready for a dog of my own. I did a lot of research. I checked a lot of dachshund specific rescues. But then I came across PMR and found Thumbelina’s page. I wasn’t particularly looking for a puppy, but there she was. Tiny, recently rescued from a broker after being nearly starved to death because it was “cheaper than shooting her,” and in her photo, proudly sitting on a Beanie Baby dachshund looking as though she’d subdued it. Yes.
That was my dog.
I filled out the application, submitted the references, notified my vet that someone would be calling, and had a home visit. There was also a phone interview and then the waiting. And the waiting. I was sure Thumbelina and I were meant to be together.
And I was right, I got a call that I’d been selected as her forever home. It was a matter of making arrangements to go get her in Missouri where she was in her foster home. That was one of the happiest days of my life.
I flew out to get her, brought her back on her first flight of many over the years, and Thumbelina became a Boston dog, all in one day.
Over the years she would become a foster sister to two other PMR dachshunds who went on to forever homes of their own, appear on stage in Gypsy at Suffolk University, on Chronicle, in newsprint, on Boston.com, appear in a marketing film at a former employer, win awards for obedience and tricks, and be responsible for me meeting not only some of my closest friends, but Geoff as well.
I’m in my 40’s and Thumbelina was with me since my 20’s. In all that time she cuddled up under the covers with me every night except for maybe two-three weeks in total. She was my constant companion and a very real extension of me. She was my best friend, my little clown, my stubborn little life saver, and so much more that I can’t even articulate right now. Not having her here as I write this feels as if a limb has gone to sleep and I can’t wake it up.
She was more intelligent and intuitive than many/most humans I know and it is absolutely without hyperbole that I tell you that I would not be here to write this if it were not for her tiny little 9lb cuddles, her sniff of consternation, her comic relief, her head butting, and her anticipating my needs. She was a once in a lifetime dog, and I am better for having had her in my life. Thank you, baby girl.
She is preceded to the bridge by her elder brothers Rerun, Bucky, and Smoky and by so many canine, feline, and human friends and family. Donations in her memory may be made to the MSPCA, where both she and Rerun crossed the bridge.
Rest well my darling, someday I will see you again.
I’d be remiss not to add a special thank you to Dr. Barbara Bower at the South Bay Veterinary Group who has been Thumbelina’s primary doctor for I don’t know how many years now. She’s been kind, steady, compassionate, and generous with her care, presence, and heart all through Thumbelina’s golden years. I’ve been bringing animals to South Bay for more than 20 years and it is because of vets like her that I will continue to do so. My life and the lives of the animals in it are enriched immeasurably by her and the care of the staff there.
Or Holiday/Yule/Festivus/Kwanzaa/New Year/Whatever card. You do you. You have choices between three photos this year, pick the one that best suits you. Or go for all/none of them, we’re ecumenical here at Casa Dachshund.