The upside is that the utility bills at Rick Graham's place have dipped slightly.
The downside is that the rather nice hot tub that was in the dentist's backyard, off Sonoma Mountain Road between Bennett Valley and Rohnert Park, isn't there anymore.
Graham noticed one evening that the hot tub's concrete pad was bare. His dismay flipped to perplexity as he examined the pad and found debris of fiberglass and wood.
Had his hot tub been demolished and the remains carted off?
"On a hunch," Graham said, he checked with a neighbor who lives up the private road and has an address similar to his own. Graham lives at 2860, the neighbor at 2680.
Graham phoned and asked if by chance he'd arranged to have a hot tub broken up and hauled off. As a matter of fact, the surprised neighbor replied, he'd just arranged with a landscaping contractor to do that very thing.
Graham asked, did the job happen? The neighbor asked him to hold the line and went to check. Son of a gun, he told Graham, his worn-out hot tub was still sitting there.
Graham said, Say, could I get the name and number of that contractor?
He has since spoken to both the contractor and the junk-hauler who was hired by the contractor to remove a hot tub from 2680 but instead went to 2860. Neither has shown much interest in replacing Graham's tub.
And about now he really could use a nice, soothing soak.
VALENTINE'S DAY is closer than you think. Tell me if you've heard of a sweeter gift for one's beloved than this.
A Chihuahua and chocolates.
Wait, wait. Your lover gets the chocolates -#8212; and a card and stuffed, toy Chihuahua -#8212; and a real, rescued
Chihuahua gets a home. In Minnesota.
Christi and Moncho Camblor and the crew at the Santa Rosa-based dog rescue agency Compassion Without Borders made a golden discovery:
There is a such an overabundance of Chihuahuas in much of California, especially in the Central Valley, that many of the little dogs are put down at shelters. But in parts of Minnesota, there's a waiting list of people seeking to adopt a Chihuahua.
So Compassion Without Borders seeks the money it takes -#8212; about $100 per dog -#8212; to pick up young Chihuahuas in Fresno and fly them to a Humane Society shelter in Minneapolis. The Camblors are collecting donations to save and ship 25Chihuahuas this month.
A $100 gift brings a donor's sweetheart a "Chihuahuas - Chocolates" gift package. Who said chocolate was bad for dogs?
CHOCOLATES - SMOKE, on the other hand, aren't at all a good match.
Regina Rolland and Libby Miller discovered that last fall, when a fire struck their gelato and hand-crafted chocolates shop at VJB Winery in Kenwood.
It appears a turkey vulture landed on a power line and caused a flicker that exposed an electrical flaw in the former gelato case and ignited flames. Fire sprinklers quickly doused them, but not quickly enough to prevent the smoking of Rolland and Miller's extraordinary artisan chocolates.
They had to throw out more than 800pieces. I'd have eaten them.
The partners now have their year-old Wine Truffle Boutique spotless and fully stocked, in time for a chocolate shop's favorite day of the year.