An Excerpt from Living The American Dream, One Cupcake at a Time, by Chris Plante "This property is Energy Star rated," she said with a smile and a wink. We had met Nanette at the winery at one of our weekend retreat wine tasting extravaganzas. Penny had talked Fortuna into booking one of these events as often as she could. (I’ll bring you up to date on these two as time goes on). "You will have all kinds of personalities there," she assured Fortuna. Apollo set out right away to renovate the lanai that Gomer had built for Venus many years before. (And I’ll let you in on these characters as time goes on, too). He constructed, out of rock, an outdoor hibachi surrounded by a mahogany bar top lined with a polished emerald marble edge. He found small Japanese characters of women lounging in long silk dresses thinly cut out of pearl and other exotic stones on eBay and set them into the mahogany counters. When guests spill their Saki the pearl women glisten under the brew. It's pretty cool to watch. Nanette Anders, wearing a "Designated Green Realtor" pin that broadcast to the world that she was certified to sell energy efficient and sustainable homes, had just finished flailing her hands around in a way that somehow to her animated the physicality of an energy efficient structure. "The builder had a sense to curb global warming while keeping curb appeal high in this development," she went on. I silently wondered how long she had worked to develop that statement. "She must have borrowed that from one of those green real estate agent business development websites," I recanted to Maggie later. "And it's kind of hard to believe," I began in a sarcastic tirade, one of which Maggie was all too familiar with, "that Nanette is some kind of green person. She has too much hairspray in that dew of hers and her four door-four wheel drive elongated SUV with the electric step ladder and the really big gas engine is not something an eco-friendly person would roll in." "But her husband needs it to tow his jet boat to the river on weekends," Maggie shot back in an equally sarcastic defense. "Good thing they have a five car garage in that six-thousand square foot house they have with the twenty foot high ceilings and the super-sized pool. They need two car lengths just to park his ride. " Nanette had driven us by her house earlier that day after her husband had frantically called her in a stressed out panic that he had forgotten to lock the motorhome and store the guns in the gun safe. The guns were still in the motorhome so we had to help her carry them, two at a time, up the spiral staircase, "these handrails are carved from exotic wood found in the Amazon forest," she boasted, to a walk in safe in a room far down a hall next to the master suite. "We paneled the bedroom and both the master baths with the same exotic woods!" she added in an energetic huff. The energy star house looked no different than any other tract house in any other newish development in any other section of decade old developments that Maggie and I had passed by on the way to Nanette's office, a large stucco covered box set on one side of a commercial retail center comprised of large stucco covered boxes all blending together and sporting fake mission style roof carvings along the roof edges, which, except for the asphalt parking lot in front, lack of landscaping, a few signs showing the large faces of agents who could fork over the money to have their faces enlarged, and an obviously fake roof of which I mentioned already, looked surprisingly similar to this particular house, which of course looked similar to all the other houses.
What made this house "Energy Star" efficient, Maggie discovered first while she and I sipped tea and searched environmentally friendly blogs on the lanai back at Fortuna's winery and clandestine pot farm, was not the selection of materials used in building the project, which was just standard formaldehyde injected, resin sealed woods covered by compressed chemically treated dust particle sheeting, nor the nonexistence of recycled floorings, counters, or even non-toxic paint, no, what made the house an "Energy Star" house was the fee the builder paid to the city after the structure was completed for the star sticker that graced the lower right corner of the window on the right side of the tall entrance door. But Maggie and I were not looking for a designated "Energy Star" home, we were in search for a well thought out structure formed to shelter us from the forces of Mother Nature while using few of her resources. We wished for a home that let us be one with Her, that let us feel the outside while cozy together, reading our paperless books on our solar charged tablets while reclined on our comfortable chairs made from recycled products. We did not want halls lined with exotic woods from the Amazons, nor did we want expansive amounts of space in which to rattle around in. We wished for simple. We wished for less. Less walls, more windows. Less rooms, more open space. No carpet. No stucco. No synthetics. Only flooring and paneling made from renewable resources. We had bought into the environmentally conscious frame of mind that had permeated young and old alike in our great state of California.
It was then that we mutually agreed to fire our realtor, Nanette, whom Maggie pegged as a "Non-Environmentally Conscious Resource Glutton," and first immerse ourselves in the study of developing the perfect efficient home for our Northern California climate. © 2013 Chris Plante