Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, December 4, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page 9

Mountain Views News Saturday, December 4, 2021 


What inspires you? A brilliant, orange-pink 
sunset settling over the Pacific Ocean? Hearing 

Happy Tails 

a flock of fun-loving birds chattering in the tree

tops during a morning stroll? The warmth of the 

by Chris Leclerc sun on a cool day? Silent meditation in a dim-
lit room? If any of these strike a cord, I’m right 

there with you. I seek out any source of inspi

ration I can find and fortunately for me I don’t 

have to look far because each day I am surrounded by a pack of sweet inspirers, just a leash-length away. 

Most of the time, I find inspiration in God’s creations - mainly the animals, and I feel very fortunate that I 
get to spend time with lots and lots of animals. The pets I hang out with are very happy for the most part. 
Although I try never to assume it or take it for granted, because I figure dogs can have their days too, right? 
I mean you can’t expect them to be happy all the time. 

In spite of what my common sense might imply, I find that dogs do tend to maintain an up-beat and encouraging 
attitude no matter what is going on around them. Regardless of the weather (although I know a few 
who don’t care much for rain), and no matter what’s happening in the news (presumably & hopefully, they 
are unaware), and even if they don’t get their way on any given day (Lord knows that can throw this human 
off her tracks) my canine companions just keep on keeping on, tail wagging and sloppy lips smiling! 

One particular four-legged fur ball who inspires me more than most, is actually the inspiration for this very 
article. She hasn’t a clue as to how cute she is. And I’ll bet even if she knew, she wouldn’t show it. To the 
degree that a canine is capable of humility, this little sweetheart has it completely under her belt. Though I’m 
guessing she secretly uses her ‘unbeknownst’ cuteness to get what she wants, at times. Her name is Katie and 
I am so very privileged to say that I am her friend, her dog walker and her pet sitter. 

You know what I find interesting about the true gems in this world? It’s the way they go about living as if they 
are just plain ordinary folks, exhibiting no desire to take credit for the positive power they project. I believe 
many are somehow disguised in a way that only the wise-eyed enlightened can recognize and see them. I 
know this all sounds kind of ridiculous to some folks, considering I am talking about a rescued pup. How in 
the world could an adopted dog be so special, as to inspire such deep interpersonal emotions? 

Well, let me try to explain why little miss Katie (or Katie Lady as I like to call her) has had such an enormous, 
positive impact on this humble human. I only hope I can do her story justice in the process. There aren’t 
many individuals who have caused me to pause and reflect on my own attitude and behavior, much less to 
write about them. But this little pumpkin definitely got my creative juices flowing. 

Katie belongs to a couple of the best pet owners I‘ve ever met, Rod and Joan Spears. She joined their family 
2 years ago at age 7, after being taken in by a non-profit called “A Purposeful Rescue“. The good folks at the 
rescue took awesome care of Katie. But before she arrived there, she’d been shuffled about to a few different 
homes. Sadly, the last owners were dealing with dementia and had been unwittingly over-feeding her, forgetting 
that she’d already been fed. It was no one’s fault. But the results were grim. Katie got very obese, putting 
her at risk for a variety of health issues, particularly for such a small dog. 

In spite of her condition, Katie proved to be a ’star student’ for the volunteers at the rescue. She stuck to the 
regimen and began to loose weight. By all accounts, she was a joy to be around and when the Spears met the 
bubbly little bundle, they fell in love with her. Rod often jokes that what convinced him, was the fact that she 
could run up their stairs lickety-split! She would not be needing help getting to the second floor, because she 
was an independent little spitfire! Once Katie got settled in, Rod and Joan were amazed at how quickly she 
made herself at home. As it turned out, it’s a match made in heaven. 

As a side note, I will say that a lot of the time, when potential pet adopters are told that a dog has had a few 
different homes, they assume it’s due to something the dog must have done to cause the people to return to 
the shelter. Not the Spears. They assume all the best about the pet they consider for adoption. That’s one of 
the things I love about them. They just want to share their home with a pet who needs lots of TLC. That’s it. 

Okay, so back to why I’m so inspired by this unassuming little pup whom I have come to love so much.
Here’s why; I have what you might call “body issues”. No matter how fit or how thin I’ve been over the years, 
I’ve always felt fat. And when I feel that way, I don’t want to interact, much less go out. I’ve learned this stems 
from having a low self-esteem, and I’ve acquired some skills to work through it. Most valuable to me, is the 
time I spend with the animals. Without going deep into the details, suffice to say, on any given day I’ve had 
a history of letting how I feel about my body affect the way I manage my emotions as I navigate through life. 
I’m better than before, but I’ve got work to do. Progress, not perfection! 

Katie, on the other hand, has no time for silly insecurities. With all the previous people-drama she has had 

to endure, she’s never let it get her down or put her in a bad mood. You can ask anyone who has met Katie 

on the street during our walks. She cheers them all up! She is the encourager. She is the little ray of sunshine. 

She’s the strong one inside a less-than-perfect body, who knows she’s doing the best she can and refuses to 

let things upset her. She doesn’t hear the rude comments of shallow people who don’t know her story. She is 

my dear friend. She is my inspiration and I love her so much. Who knew all that could come from a chubby, 

shuffled-about little rescue pup? Love and let live. 


Many years ago when my wife and I 

moved into our first home together, 

it was the most run-down house 

in the hilly Northeast Los Angeles 

neighborhood. But it was home, 

and we both had the ideals of “living 

lightly in the city,” so we set about 

transforming our 50 by 150 foot lot 

into an example of urban self-sufficient 
living – to the extent possible. And, in case you were 
wondering, we purchased the most run-down house in the 
neighborhood because that’s all we could afford. Which 
meant we didn’t have a lot of surplus capital to just buy stuff 
to create a dream home. Everything we did was thought-
out very carefully, and we did it with mostly our own labor, 
at the lowest possible layout of capital.
In our first few days, we set up our compost system, which 
was an area in the “upper” back yard, about 5 x 5 feet which 
we framed with old timbers. We had to do this immediately, 
because every household has kitchen scraps, and we 
didn’t believe in just tossing these in the garbage. Our 
kitchen scraps became next season’s garden soil. We added 
some redworms to the compost area, and kept an old carpet 
over it to keep vermin away. 

In the first few weeks, we removed the dishwasher and gave 
it to a recycler who extracted metal from it. We always 
found that dishwashers were one of those modern devices 
that we really don’t need. They use too much electricity and 
water, in our opinion. We always washed our dishes in a 
pan, and then, when done, we took the pan outside and water 
all the fruit trees that we began planting. 

We also removed the garbage disposal, which are – in our 
opinion – a waste of electricity and water. We were com-
posters anyway, and a garbage disposal seemed like just another 
reason to have to hire plumbers. I removed it easily 
and tossed it into the metal recycling bin. 

Our “front lawn” area was used for years as a place to park 
cars, so it was about as compact as a brick. In our first 
month, we allowed a tree pruned to dump his entire load 
of chipped tree prunings onto this once-lawn area. That 
saved him a fee of about $60 at the local dump, and it slowly 
transformed the brick-hard soil into fertile soil. As the heat 
from the decomposing wood cooled down, we planted several 
fruit trees, and squash, and other vegetables. Neighbors 
took note that something different was happening on 
this lawn, and began to talk to us about it. 

Both of us had done greywater recycling at various places 
we’d lived at, and it was an easy job to disconnect our washing 
machine’s outlet from the sewer, and to run a swimming 
pool hose from the back of the washing machine all the way 
to the front yard. Of course, we used only laundry detergents 
that would not harm the soil, like Seventh Generation, 
and our recycled laundry water was always sufficient 
to water that area for the 20 years we lived there. 

Remember, we did all this little by little with little budget. 
We began to cut down all the trees in the yard that were not 
food producers, and replaced them with citrus and avocado 
and apple and nut trees. Very soon, we built a chicken coop 
with mostly recycled lumber and had two dozen Welpline 
chickens which provided us with food every day. 

We began our winter rain water collecting by using trash 
can – not a great choice, but functional. We simply put the 
plastic buckets under the downspouts where they filled up 
quickly during a storm. We used the water for watering our 
trees and garden, and sometimes washing our dogs. 

The roof of our “new” home was terrible, and we couldn’t 
afford a new roof. We discovered a liquid rubber product 
from the local building supply center which was designed 

to make it cooler 
in the summer in a 
mobile home with a 
metal roof. The liquid 
rubber product was 
brushed on like paint, 
and it was bright 
white. In our case, 
this product sealed 
all the little leaks in 
our roof, and made 
the house about 15 
degrees cooler in the 
summer when the 
house had otherwise 
been unbearable. 

The white roof cost 
us about $100, compared 
to about $3000 
for an entirely new 

roof, and the result was that our house was naturally cooler 
in the summer, and – since this was essentially a rubberized 
roof – the roof cleaned off quickly after a rain, and our rain 
was so clean that we began to use it to make our soup and 

Our home and property became an on-going experiment 
in self-reliant living, and in taking personal responsibility 
to create a livable sustainable zone in the city, even if it was 
“only” our little house lot. 

We eventually also added some beehives outback, and this 
was an easy addition with recycled supers. We also had a 
goose, and occasional other animals. 

In time, we installed a solar water heater. The system we 
installed is what is called a passive pre-heater system, where 
a tank is on the roof, and a panel just below the tank heats 
the water all day. Water for our home was plumbed so that 
the water went first into the solar system, and then through 
the gas heater. This meant that if the sun kept the water hot 
enough, the gas heater would never kick on. As it turned 
out, our gas bill dropped over half after we installed the solar 
system, and felt very good about paying $250 and ending 
up with a workable solar water heating system. 

Though we could not afford the cost of a complete solar 
electrical system for the entire house, we did find a deal for 
a stand-alone solar voltaic system which powered our office 
and provided backup electricity in the event of a blackout. 
The system included two solar panels, two batteries, and the 
inverter which changed the 12V direct current from the solar 
panels into the 110V alternating current that our house 
used. We paid about $1000 for this system, and it gave us 
peace of mind. 

After a few years, we were producing much of our own 
food, in part because we also allowed the edible weeds to 
grow, and we used them in soup and salads. We grew the 
plants that did well in our area, and which required minimal 
work. For example, we grew lots of squash, New Zealand 
spinach (edible raw or cooked), tomatoes, peas, Jerusalem 
artichokes (edible tubers), potatoes, onions, and whatever 
would grow with minimal work. 

Note: Dolores and I documented much of what we did in 
our book “Extreme Simplicity: Homesteading in the City,” 
published by Dover and available wherever books are sold 
and from the Store at We 
produced a follow-up book about urban self-reliance where 
we interviewed many of our neighbors who were doing likewise. 
That book is “Self-Sufficient Home: Going Green and 
Saving Money,” published by Stackpole books, and available 
from the same sources. Dolores passed away in 2008. 


These two will capture 

your heart! They are 

handsome boys and are 

very sweet and playful. 

Bobby is a tuxedo, with 

just the cutest white 

whiskers and paws, 

while Billy is all shiny 

and sleek black. 

Both are "great, energetic, fun, affectionate, and 
healthy." They are chill and es-pecially love to be petted. 
They'll be adopted together, because they are besties 
and always have each other to play with. Both boys love 
to play with toys. Bobby likes to hide the toys, and Billy 
sometimes plays fetch. 

Purr-ty please consider adopting this purr-fect pair! 
Just submit your application at Lifeline for Pets: https://

Pet of the Week

 Don’t let Missy’s grumpy expression foolyou – she’s so friendly! She even greets newpeople who approach her kennel. Missy iseight years old, and very mellow and well-
behaved. She enjoys being pet, but will 
also pose for you if you want to snap a fewphotos. This sweet girl has such calmingvibes, and will be a great companion to herfuture adopter!

 The adoption fee for cats is $100. Allcat adoptions include spay or neuter,
microchip, and age-appropriate vaccines.

New adopters will receive a complimentary health-and-wellness exam from VCA 
Animal Hospitals, as well as a goody bag filled with information about how to care for 
your pet. 
View photos of adoptable pets and schedule an adoption appointment at pasadenahumane.
org. Adoptions are by appointment only, and new adoption appointments are availableevery Sunday and Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

 Pets may not be available for adoption and cannot be held for potential adopters byphone calls or email. 

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