Monthly Archives: July 2014

Kindness Angle

Killin' 'em with kindness...

Killin’ ’em with kindness…

I’ve started seeking the people out who complain about us. I dropped some sweets and a card off at The Count’s unit. His wife (the personableness polar opposite of The Count, she is really sweet) called and thanked me perfusely. Unfortunately, The Count still refuses to acknowledge my existence unless he wants to yell at me.

A sample conversation:
Al: Good morning, [The Count]! (I say his real name)
The Count: …
Al: How are you doing today?
The Count: …

For I.T. John, I dropped off cookies and a card with a red sports car. I haven’t heard anything from him. So I just keep smiling and waving eagerly.

I jump to my feet and say hello and ask about the upcoming wedding, the recent cataract surgery, etc whenever I see the couple who complained about our using the pool area at the same time as them on Memorial Day. They seem to be warming up. He came in and used the pool while we were there last week. I hoped that was a good sign. Goose, gander … right?

In my dreams?

In my dreams?

Since I can’t help driving all of them crazy, my best bet is to make it so they can’t stay mad at me for long. Either I’m killing them (literally?) with kindness or they think I am simple in the head. Either way, life is more peaceful.

Ever Alert

The stress takes its toll.

The stress takes its toll.

When you live in God’s Waiting Room, every groan, crash, slam and sneeze is cause for concern. Since we moved in here, I’ve noticed that I am ever alert for sounds of distress.

When I hear someone holler “Oh no!” at the t.v. I wait to make sure they really are watching the t.v. and not wedged between a bureau and a wall with their medic alert necklace two inches out of reach.

Maybe it’s because I’m a mother that I can think of 16 reasons each resident might be in danger at any moment. This must be how Hospice nurses feel, except they probably feel relieved when their patients are no longer in pain.

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Shh, I hear a siren.

Nobody has died over the past year that we have been here. But I still can’t help feeling we are on borrowed time. Even Mrs. Bloomer, our beloved next door neighbor, sets out on each trip with “If I come back…”

I freeze like a lizard on a hiking trail every time I hear a siren. And then I wait and wait until the siren either fades or passes.

A few times the emergency vehicles have gone to The Wrigley Mansion across the street. And once the firemen were just doing drills or testing power lines or something. Those are the days that I needed a little lie down.

I’ve lost count of how many times I have been jogging along S Orange Grove and passed a gurney being wheeled from a complex to a flashing ambulance. I don’t know why we are so lucky in this complex. When is the other shoe going to drop?

40 seems old to a lot of people, especially in LA, but I feel way to young to be dealing with these issues on a daily basis.

Starchildren

Crazy with grief over losing the Starchildren. Accidentally scaring people at Target.

Crazy with grief over losing the Starchildren. Accidentally scaring people at Target.

Late last week, we met the most wonderful young family that was staying in HOA John’s unit for a week. We all just clicked and had a great week together. All three Garwoods are sad that they had to leave today. I know my son is sad, Reed is disappointed and I am devastated.

It was AMAZING to have another young family here, especially such a great one. The mom’s email addy has “Starchild” in it. Maiden name? No matter, it is the perfect name for them. The kids ran back and forth between our units willy nilly. They watched my son for a while, and then I watched their daughter for a while. It was calm, relaxed, pleasant and fun.

I miss you, Starchildren. Siiiiiiggggghhhhhh….

Okay now, since scoldings are biweekly around here the Starchildren were initiated. They were here for a week! They got yelled at by The Count for having too many people at the pool on Monday (been there!). Friday, they were yelled at for accidentally leaving one of the seven thousand keys residents must carry in the pool lock. They seemed shaken (been there!) and jumpy from not knowing when they would get yelled at again next (always there!).

So sad.

So sad.

Poor them. I told them that everyone yells at everyone around here. A woman who lives here brought her grandchildren to the pool and told me that she deals with the fuss person by person. That mindset helped me to let things roll off my back a little more easily. One fuss at a time.

Hopefully people like The Count will not scare the Starchildren from coming back to visit. We already invited ourselves to stay with them in Holland. Hopefully that will not scare them from coming back to visit…

We Scratched The Camero

I don't know how this kid manages to sneak in at night! I digress...

I don’t know how this kid manages to sneak in at night! I digress…

Sunday. 8:07 am.

DOO DOO DEE DOODEEDOOOO DOODOO DOO DOOO DEE DOOO (to the tune of My Country Tis Of Thee)

(Have I mentioned our unit has a doorbell that plays 5 different songs? And that my son has found the little button to change the songs? And that he constantly changes the songs for the front and back doors so that we never know which one to answer?)

My husband slowly gets out of bed. He picks the front door and shuffles to answer it. The conversation as I was able to hear it from under my pillow:

Angry Old Man: Sharsh mark free facken my car!
Reed: We did?
Angry Old Man: Frak fromen shrick shrong plenty of space!
Reed: Oh. I’m sorry.
Angry Old Man: Gel whickle pickle wrong froggen BE MORE CAREFUL!!
Reed: Okay, um, bye then.

We were due for one of our biweekly scoldings. It has been 3 days since the last one.

Background:

Fact 1: Johns
There are two Johns in the complex: the head of the HOA and the guy who works in I.T. We refer to them as HOA John and I.T. John.

Fact 2: Parking

Parking...

Parking…

Our unit has two assigned parking spaces: the farthest space that nobody wants in the covered parking, and the farthest space that nobody wants in the garage parking. We share a two car garage with I.T. John. I.T. John keeps all of his many many many many many tools and wires in there along with his precious, beloved, better-not-breathe-on-her Camero.

Back to the story…

Allison: What was that about?
Reed: I.T. John is mad. Either we parked too close or we scratched the Camero. Maybe both. I’m not sure.
(VRRROOOM!!! VRAVRAVRA VROOOOOOOOM!!!!)
Allison: Sounds like he’s pretty mad out there.
(VROOOM!! VRUBVRUBVRUB SCREEEEECH VROOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!! VROOOOOM!!!!!! VAARrrrooommm) (the sound fades in the distance).
Allison & Reed: (giggles)

The next day, I bump into I.T. John:

Allison: Hi John. I know you came by and talked to Reed yesterday. We are a little confused about what happened. Did we cause some damage?
I.T. John: YES!! Yes you did! You need to be more careful!
Allison: Oh no, I’m so sorry. What did we do?
I.T. John: Well I had it buffed out this morning. But you need to be more careful! I’ve been really nice to you!
Allison: You definitely have been nice to us. And of course we would never cause damage on purpose. We try to be really caref—
I.T. John: You need to be more careful! You parked way too close! This is a community and we all have to live together.
Allison: I totally agree. And I’m so sorry tha—
I.T. John: I opened the garage and I saw that you parked your car really close to mine. Then I looked down and I saw this little area where the dust had been wiped away like someone was looking at the damage they knew they caused. Like this. (I.T. John bends over to run his finger along a small area wiping dust away.)

NOTE: when I say dust, I’m talking about fine particles that are visible only because the car is black. This is the most spotless perfectly adored Camero in the Western Hemisphere.

Allison: I am definitely not disagreeing with you on the damage, but we would always tell you if we knew about it. Please don’t think that w–
I.T. John: Do you want to see a picture?!
Allison: No, I believe you that we caused damage, but the rub must have happened during the damage, not after. We would never try to hide something like that from you.
I.T. John: Do you want to see a picture?!
Allison: I believe you. I want to pay for the buffing. I just don’t want you to think that we would hide it from you.
I.T. John: Do you want to see a picture?!
Allison: Um, ok. Yes.
I.T. John: Aw hell, the sun’s too bright. You can’t see it. But I’ll show it to you later. I took pictures!
Allison: I am very sorry. I would like to pay for the buffing.
I.T. John: You don’t need to do that. I mean it was only fifty three dollars and sixty one cents.
Allison: Well I will definitely get the money to you. I’m so sorry. Please know this was an accident. We would never try to hide something like this from you.
I.T. John: What makes me mad is that you didn’t tell me. I’ve been really nice to you.
Allison: You have been really nice. Please believe me that we would always tell if you if we knew we’d caused damage.
I.T. John: I’m not trying to tell you what you should do, but you should rearrange your side of the garage. You aren’t organizing your space efficiently.
Allison: You are absolutely right. Would you be willing to give us some tips? Your side is so meticulous.
I.T. John: I’m not trying to tell you what to do … but you really need to reorganize your side.
Allison: Absolutely. We are on it. We will do that as soon as we can.
I.T. John: Ok.
Allison: Again, I’m so sorry. I’ll get that $50 to you right away.

Then I get home, tell Reed, and it turns out he is 100% guilty! He smacked the car door into the Camero, wiped the dust away with his finger to look at the damage, decided it was no big deal, and then didn’t tell anyone including me! What the?!?! Grrroooaaannnn.

Hopefully chocolate chip cookies and a card with a sports car on it will help smooth things over … not to mention the $53.61 I tucked inside. Hey big spender!

Dead vs. Not Dead

My son scratching Wilma's tummy.

My son scratching Wilma’s tummy.

Mrs. Bloomer, our next door neighbor, is awesome. She used to have an equally awesome dog named Wilma. When we moved in, Wilma was already quite old and we had to be gentle with her. Wilma and my son absolutely loved to play together.

One afternoon, I heard barking. At first I tuned it out, but then I realized it had to be coming from Mrs. Bloomer’s condo. With shaking hands and dry mouth, I called her while ringing the doorbell repeatedly. I could hear that the barking was coming from Wilma inside. A sobbing Mrs. Bloomer answered the door. I was so relieved that she was okay that the news of Wilma’s seizure didn’t register at first.

Fortunately, in Southern California, people are pet “caretakers” rather than owners. So it was easy for Mrs. Bloomer to find and call a dog emergency room. A hugely sympathetic vet rushed over to take Wilma in for testing. He comforted Mrs. Bloomer, told me the truth, and whisked an exhausted Wilma away.

Sadly periodic seizures became a way of life for several months. Eventually, Wilma endured one that lasted the entire night. Mrs. Bloomer made the hard decision to put Wilma down. It was a sad day. Everyone loves Mrs. Bloomer and everyone loved Wilma.

The new "System"

The new “System”

And that would be that if I lived in a community of my peers. But I live in a retirement community. Residents started thinking about their mortality. Ed heard Wilma whimpering one day and at first thought it was Mrs. Bloomer. What if?

Everyone agreed it would be a great idea to implement a card system. Each unit would receive a card. Each morning the residents should turn the card to “I’m awake!” so that everyone knows that everyone else is (wait for it…) alive. It was unanimously thought to be a stellar idea. Preparations were made. I asked if, being 40, we could pass. No of course not!

In the end, the system was not implemented. My theory is that there was resistance from the residents who think the “Slow” sign in the driveway cheapens the complex.

So when you are at home thinking about your neighbor’s fence being over the property line, that is what we are thinking about over here in God’s Waiting Room…

Life at the Pool

Mother and son heading to the pool.

Mother and son heading to the pool.

Yesterday afternoon, my son and I headed to the pool for some Baseball Dragon Tag (a complicated swimming version of baseball that I cannot explain without diagrams and video). As we neared the pool, we heard voices. Lots of voices. Sure enough there was a group of people under retirement age and A CHILD!!

“Who are you?” I asked incredulously, “Do you live here? Who are you with?”

It turns out the head of the HOA participates in a home swap website with a family in Amsterdam. They are here for the week. Paul, Maya, and a name that starts with S are staying in Jon’s unit and he is staying with his daughter. The family had invited some cousins and grandmothers and they were a lot of fun. How many of them were there? I’d have to ask Mr. Bishop (the grouchy people counter) but definitely more than 6. Hmmm it seems the rules apply less to others than they do to the Garwoods.

Life ... actual life! ... at the pool.

Life … actual life! … at the pool.

Anyhoo, we swam and talked and played with the family for hours. I ended up bringing our dinner out to the pool and we ate Sprouted patties and salad (I try and try to keep us vegan) while they ate pizza. Husband and son gladly helped themselves to some of their pizza when offered. It was so nice to stumble upon life and play and get to know new people.

Toward the end of the evening, I received a call from another resident whose niece wants to bring her family to the pool tomorrow. She wanted to know if we would be using it. I told her we had planned on swimming and asked if she wanted the pool to herself. She said she worried about too many people being at the pool. She was going to tell her niece no until we realized that the timing would work out so that they would have the pool to themselves.

I don’t get it. It reminds me of when Luc would hoard his bouncy balls. I told him over and over that balls are specifically for sharing, that’s the point. They are fun when shared, and boring when clutched.

I don’t understand the clutch mentality.

8:47 AM

I'm smiling while I commandeer your laundry time.

I’m smiling while I commandeer your laundry time.

“Did you brush your teeth?”
“Ummm…”
“Get your shoes and wait on the porch when you are ready.”
“I’m almost done with his lunch!”
“Daddy where are your shoes?”
“Who didn’t eat their breakfast?”
“Are you playing or getting ready?”
“Do you know why I’m so strong? I have 640 muscles.”
“Porch!”
“Are you going to the bank today?”
“I have meetings. I’ll go tomorrow.”
“Knock knock?”
“Who said that? Is somebody at the door?”
“Hi! It’s Jon. I know it’s your laundry time, but I need the machines for an hour this morning. Okay?”
Stunned silence.
“Sure, okay.”
“Thanks! Buy guys.”

Wait wait wait wait. Wait. What? The exact same guy who refused to let me change my laundry time to non-business hours while I was working has just commandeered my laundry time?

I need a minute.

The Rules: Laundry

5am Stealth Laundry

5am Stealth Laundry

There is a strict laundry room schedule here. I was not allowed to participate in the making of the schedule, but I am required to adhere to it OR ELSE! The scheduled laundry times for our unit are:

Mondays and Wednesdays: 8:00 am – 10:00 am

If that is insufficient for my family of 3 including two exercising adults and a 6 year old boy, I am permitted to hope for the best during the free times:

  • Monday
    4:00pm-6:00pm
  • Tuesday
    8:00am-10:00am
  • Wednesday
    10:00am-12:00pm
  • Thursday
    8:00am-2:00pm
  • Friday
    tough luck!
  • Saturday
    10:00am-6:00pm
  • Sunday
    10:00am-6:00pm

So, the ONLY people in the complex who are NOT retired and have little league games are permitted to do laundry when? During business hours or little league games.

Early on, in my naive days, I asked if we could change the schedule to accomodate a working family with a small child.  Nope! Please? Nope! Okay, so I started waking myself up at 5am to do our laundry. And they yelled at me.

Fortunately, I am nothing if not sleuthy … and unemployed. Through careful deduction, I have learned that there is a secret, dare I say scandalous! gap in the laundry schedule. Somehow Carlos managed to wrangle loads (pun intended) of laundry slots even though (wait for iiiiit) he has laundry machines in his unit!! Bam! So, I mentally added all of his times to my schedule. Problem solved?

Well, one shady day, I was covertly taking care of my laundry when someone showed up! The very person who had refused to adjust my laundry schedule: the head of the HOA. Evidently he also knew about the Laundry Loophole.  We have silently agreed to accomodate each other during the Carlos Hours. At least I think we have…