ONE FOR HUMANITY…AND MY NEIGHBORS!

March 28, 2015

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I will keep this short and sweet because that is exactly how it went down.  When we last left the dramatic saga of my wife and me vs. the Homeowners’ Association regarding our refusal to add a third color to the paint scheme of our house (see previous posting), the Board of Directors decided they did not want to deal with the matter during its monthly meeting the other night.  The Board, instead, delegated the entire case over to the new board member who replaced the one we pissed off.  They instructed him to go forth and figure it out.

Well, Saturday afternoon the phone rings and it’s the new board guy—I’ll call him “H”—and H wants to know when he can drop by to discuss the paint issue.  We agree to meet within minutes.

When he arrives H is a very pleasant sort of fellow and we stand outside in front of our house as my wife and I plead our case.  We point out that we have no problem following the mandated selection of colors but we felt that demanding THREE colors beyond the usual two was excessive, given how much money we spent on upgrading the outside of our house and also the fact that there are 16 other homes in our community painted exactly the same way—some for five years or more.  We even said we would be willing to use a third color if it were one that was compatible with the other two.  We simply did not like the third color that was selected to go with the other two in our particular palette.  He turned around and looked across the street, about three house down and said,”That house is painted identical to yours isn’t it?”  I told H it was and that it was painted that way about five years ago.  H says, “Well you painted your garage the same color as the trim on your house and it looks fine to me; and that house is the same so I don’t see why we are even discussing it further.  Enjoy your new paint job and have a great day.”  H got in his car and drove off.

But but but….I had all this legal stuff I had compiled:  pictures of the other 16 houses painted just like ours; highlighted paragraphs in the Association’s bylaws which indicated the homeowners should have been notified of the new 3-paint rule being considered BEFORE it was considered; and a few more things.  I never got to have my Perry Mason moment.  Ah Gee….but it sure was nice to win one.   I ran to my Bartlett’s to find something profound said about all this.  Horace Mann had the perfect quotation.  He said it in a commencement speech.  Mann was a politician and noted progressive educator from Massachusetts, even a U.S. Congressman in the mid 1800s.  My buddy Horace said it all: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”   I deserve ice cream.

*****

 


WHEN NOTHING HAPPENS IS A GOOD THING!

March 26, 2015

LipsSealedBack in February my wife and I committed an unconscionable offense to the community in which we’ve lived for over 18 years.  Blame it on our senility I guess.  Old people simply can’t be held responsible for their actions.  So what is it we did?  We painted our house with only two colors and not the three required by the Homeowners Association.  If you need more background, check out the February 5th posting for this blog.

In short, the Association passed a new collection of approved colors that homeowners may choose from when it’s time to paint the outside of their homes.  Some of the colors have been “standard” for many years.  The “twist” in the new selection is that they hired some foo foo decorator and she decided each house should have the standard two-color palette consisting of a wall color and a trim color, PLUS A THIRD “accent” color for the garage and front doors.  Even this we don’t have much of a problem with, except we do not like the accent color dictated for the palette we chose…so we simply did what was done in the past, we painted the two doors the same as the trim color.  It took about a week and the official letter citing us for violating the rules arrived in our white color-compliant mailbox.

I wrote back a letter stating our case that we did not like the accent color, that there are plenty of houses in the community that have the identical two colors that we now have (they were “grandfathered” in and excepted from the new rule) and that since we had invested thousands of dollars in upgrading the outside of the house we should at least be able to pass on the awful color we didn’t want on the garage door.  We thought this would be acceptable since we used a wall and trim combination approved for tons of other houses over the past five or more years.  We got an e-mail back that said our case would be taken up by the Board at the next meeting.  That was tonight.  Rosemarie and I went and joined a handful of other couples sitting in the audience section of the room.

The board went through a pile of tasks.  It discussed budgets and trees and streets and fertilizer and a bunch of other stuff.  We sat quietly through it all. Then, toward the end, one of the members stated there were several homeowner issues to deal with.  The chairman suggested that these should be handed off to the management company that takes care of day-to-day “stuff.”  Note:  it was the management company that sent the stack of homeowner issues to the board in the first place.

We figured our case would not be discussed tonight.  But then one member said, “There is one we should discuss…has to do with a house painting.”  There followed several comments back and forth while everyone on the board tried to locate the case in their piles of papers, each speculating what it was about.  Seems that the board’s paint guy we originally dealt with had resigned.  We last saw him getting back in his car in our driveway, flailing his arms in the air in disgust after we told him we did not want to use the third accent color.  One of the board members mentioned that this guy was upset by this particular case which was –“Ah ha! Here’s the letter” he says—it’s from an address which he reads out loud.  Yes, it was our address.

So we apparently made the paint committee chairman so angry he resigned his position on the board.  Rosemarie and I sat in silence.  I was not about to argue with a group of people who made a rule several months ago which I broke, but none of them was familiar with the case and none had read my letter which was perfectly and very persuasively written…but you already know that.

lonerangerWhile Rosemarie and I sat with lips zipped, they dumped the whole enchilada on the new guy who replaced the upset guy who quit and told the new guy to follow-up and see if he can resolve the issue.

Yepperie, I rather deal with one guy than four, so Rosemarie and I quietly got up and left.  I thought maybe I heard one of the board members ask, “Who was that masked couple anyway?” as the door closed behind me.  Hi Yo Silver Away! …to live another day in community sin.  Tonto would be proud that homeowner couple kept mouth shut.

 *****


CHECK TIME

March 22, 2015

When I finally got him home and he went to sleep I loved every minute of his restless sleep.aybillsMy wife and I have been recycled back to the time when we first got married and began raising a family.  Back then we did not make a lot of money so we were always very frugal and constantly making sacrifices.  It was especially depressing not being able to buy something simply because you could not afford it, even though it really wasn’t a luxury.  And the death of a major appliance or a costly car repair stacked up the balance on a credit card beyond belief.

Those days are back now that both of us are out of work and living off Social Security and using our savings to supplement the monthly payouts.  Before, the savings were replenished as we continued to work and our income rose.  Now the meager stockpile of funds drains like a rusty bucket with a hole in the bottom.

It’s easy to tell that I just went through a stack of bills this morning, isn’t it?  Somehow, this process always puts me in this negative funk.  I wasn’t in it long, however, thanks to a friend’s story I read on Facebook a few moments ago.

Her husband was in an accident resulting in an ambulance ride to the hospital with some impressive lumps and bruises.  She went through the horrible phone call no one ever wants to get; the frantic rush to the hospital all the while thinking the worse; she also made the panicky calls to her children to have them hurry and join her there.

Once the worst fears were eradicated and the hospital was done putting him back together again, she transported her wounded partner back home and put him to bed.  “When I finally got him home,” she wrote, “and he went to sleep, I loved every minute of his restless sleep.”

These are the experiences, especially as we age, that keep material things like my stack of bills in check. They tell you not to waste time worrying about the things you can’t or don’t have.  Instead, they give you a good whack on the side of the head and remind you to enjoy and cherish the things you do have…especially your priceless loved ones.

 *****

 


THE UNCANNY SIMILARITIES IN THE PROCESSES of DIETING AND DIVORCE

March 18, 2015

cartoon“So how’s the diet going?” you ask.  Well, I’ve been thinking about it a lot.  And for those who follow this blog regularly, you know when I get to thinking that’s when things get weird.  This time is no different.  So, let’s begin.

I have decided that dieting is like a good marriage gone bad.  Now, stick with me here and I will explain…although you must consider the source—me—and the fact that I’ve been on my first diet ever and I’ve had a good marriage for 47 years.  Hence, I am no authority on dieting or bad marriages.  But I’ve been to the movies, watched some TV, read a few books and I know a few folks who have divorced.  That makes me a qualified observer on the two subjects at hand and I have discovered that the double-D process of dieting and divorce have much in common.

One begins a diet with utmost optimism, hope and energy, not to mention solid commitment.  At first, one sticks to the diet like gorilla glue.  You follow every day’s menu, you read and abide by the rules and oath you swore to regarding what you put in your body, plus you make frequent trips to the mirror and the scale to observe any early stage of success that may occur.

The initial stages of marriage are similar.  At first you stick to your spouse like gorilla glue.  When you are not forced to be separated by work you spend every moment spouse-side.  You do everything together and follow the menu happily, especially dessert once you learn the 50 shades of jello.  You also make frequent trips to the mirror to observe your appearance, making sure you look your best and are ready for any opportunity that may enhance the mission.

Moving on, now we’re a few weeks into the diet; maybe a few years into the marriage.  The routine is getting too routine.  The menu has become a little boring. There’s no excitement left in what was originally adventurous recipes and concoctions of exotic ingredients.  Other, new temptations that come within range begin to look interesting, enticing and downright teasing  But you remain disciplined because you know you need to stay loyal; you can’t give up….you’ve got too much invested and all the hunger and unfulfilled cravings cannot be in vain.  You must carry on for the sake of all that you’ve given up.

Time, hunger and desire march on.  It’s at about this time that you begin having trouble remembering exactly what week it was that you began this ridiculous trek and how much longer you can continue on.  You haven’t had the success you anticipated and all those weeks of dedication were for what?—a few flirtatious flings with a belt notch you were never able to tolerate before.  In fact the tighter belt is…is…well, it’s getting downright restrictive dammit.  You’re tired of being held in and forced to continue passing up a McDonald’s mocha frappe or a Dairy Queen dipped in chocolate or a slug of that chocolate cake the guy at the next table is eating.  Yeah, the fat guy with the big lippy smile, but does he care?  He looks happy…free!  And what are you as you sip your plant-based protein powder smoothie that taste like rancid sawdust?

The marriage, meanwhile, has reached a numbing stage.  It’s become a big shot of Novocane leaving you feeling nothing physical except pressure.  Meanwhile, you look over and the fat guy at the next table is now sucking away at a pile of babybacks gooey with barbecue sauce as the Jennifers Lawrence, Lopez, Aniston and Love-Hewitt laugh at his every joke while sensuously hand feeding him warm rolls drooling with butter. You want what he’s having.  But you can’t.  Tonight is poached chicken with quinoa and brussels sprouts boiled in olive oil.  Events that you shared with your spouse, the ones that used to be intensified with curious new novelties and abandoned exploration, have turned traditional and  now celebrated like commemorative government holidays with laborious shopping trips to the mall.  You don’t even watch Survivor together anymore.

The diet, by now, has become a forbidden topic.  You no longer want to talk about it (or blog about it, for that matter).  You are just hanging on by your nail-bitten fingertips while those pants you wore two years ago and have fantasized getting back into are now once again folded and shoved in the bottom drawer where fantasies that don’t fit go to fade away.

And then, with absolutely no shame or embarrassment, you slowly begin to cheat.  Ah, yes, there are other offerings that call out to you like Sirens on the rocks.    First it’s little  innocent things:  an Oreo cookie someone left exposed in the rip-top package…then maybe you spoon  a pint of the new core Ben and Jerry’s that someone put in the freezer and now you sense it beckoning for someone—anyone—to sample its innovative mixture of caramel sin and fat-laden cream.  You begin to hoard things, safely hiding them in the closet upstairs in the event your spouse comes home unexpectedly.  And after a while, you almost wish she would, maybe even catching you with a Dunkin’ Donut Apple ‘n Spice clenched half-way between your teeth as she cries “that’s it” and packs a carry-on for the next flight home to mother.  It’s over.

So there you have it…my observations on dieting and marriages gone bad.  There are questions yet to be answered, of course:  will you marry again?  …will you be fat again?   Time will tell I suppose.  In any case, if you must know, I have modified my diet a bit.  I have adopted an ongoing commitment to boycotting certain foods and attempting to eat a lot less than I used to.  I take it one day at a time and I am still sticking to my goal of being able to rest my chin on throat and see between my feet.  I’m not there yet, but my toes are coming into view.  And, oh yeah, my wife?  That’s a given.  True, Rosemarie continues watching Survivor without me, but we both remain committed to surviving together…regardless of how big my belly is.

 *****

 


March 11, 2015

veggiecubTitle

So how goes the diet?  It’s beginning to wear on me a bit.  I can just imagine how awful the process must be for those who do it regularly or have to do it forever.  I’m good for a while more, but I have reached a plateau and that has dampened my enthusiasm.  As a result, since I was away most of last weekend and not in my “dieting environment” I cheated a little…not much, but enough to make me feel marginally guilty.  Fortunately, it had no effect on my weight.  I had this nightmare that I’d gain back a couple pounds.  But I’m still where I was three days ago, maybe a tad less.

I have made adjustment to the “program” as outlined in the book, Zero Belly Diet. I’m off the menu, although I’m still on the food.  I just don’t stick to the schedule and sometimes may even repeat a dinner two nights in a row.  But I stay with the ingredients the author endorses, with one exception: the daily “beverage.”   I put that in quotes because it’s liquid poison or at least tastes like it.  Every beverage is a smootie-type drink with a scoop of plant-based protein powder in it.  It’s this powder I can’t deal with.  I threw the first can out and went to GNC and asked the guy to give me a similar product but one that customers said tasted okay.  Either he lied or the customers did.  The new stuff I bought was much better than the old, but it still can’t be disguised with anything but arsenic.  I know it must be a major protein part of the daily program, but I can’t stand it.  I may experiment one more time but drinking a bottle of Guerilla Glue each day might taste better.  So the gig is not up yet and I shall continue on until my belly has zero fat, or close to it…just as long as I can once again place my chin on my throat and see between the feet below–that is the goal.  So it shall be written; so it shall be done!

In a completely different turn of events, I want to officially announce that I am now a serious, devoted Chicago Cubs fan.  No, I don’t live in Chicago and no I have absolutely no tie to the team whatsoever.  In fact I have no knowledge of any players on the team, or any other team for that matter, because I simply do not follow baseball.   Here’s the deal…I asked my baseball-fanatic friend, Ron, to suggest a team that I could root for.  I just thought it might be fun if I joined the rest of America and get behind a team.  I know I should have chosen the Marlins because they are my local team, but I do not like the organization and how it operates so I nixed that idea.  I told Ron I wanted a team that wasn’t a total failure and wasn’t a total success either—but one that was decent and maybe even had a chance to make it at least to the playoffs. He picked the Cubs.  So this baseball season I will attempt to listen and watch the cubs play and get to know and root for the team.  This is so totally out of character for me that it will have my wife wondering if the age thing is finally kicking in and maybe it’s time for assisted living–whatever.  I thought it’d be cool if I was following a team this year just for grins, plus it’ll  keep my mind a little active in a whole new direction.  If not, maybe the assisted living thing would be a good alternative.  Well, anyway, I’m sure I will be sharing my new baseball fanaticism with you, more than likely less from a sports perspective and more from an irreverent one.  That’d be my guess.  In the meantime…play ball!

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MY DEAD FROG

March 7, 2015

F&F

I don’t know from where it came or why, but somewhere in my mental travels this afternoon I thought about my frog…my dead frog.  Stay with me on this; there’s a little here to chew on.

When I was in junior high (what they call middle school today) in one of the grades in science class all the students got to dissect a frog.  It was a big deal.  The girls, of course, were “cultured” to be squeamish about the whole thing while we boys couldn’t wait to take scalpel in hand and slice the little croaker apart.

Everyone got their very own frog and a slab of thin wood on which to mount him with pins when the job was completed.  Those who wanted to, could get a jar of formaldehyde, drop the frog in, screw the top on tight and take it home to share with the family.  I did exactly that.

I thought it was cool, seeing the innards of an animal and how all the parts were in place and worked together to process the various functions of the body.  Yep, it was a proud moment when I took my dead dissected frog-in-a-jar home to show my mom and dad.

We had a stairway that led from the back of the kitchen to the basement.  The wall on the one side of the stairs was recessed about eight inches, leaving just enough depth for a triangular unit of shelves lengthwise along the stairs without inhibiting passage up and down.  My father, being the engineering genius that he was, installed said shelves—about half a dozen of them—and they became our cupboard.  That’s where all our boxes and cans of food were stored.  There was a slight design flaw that affected me only.  I was the short one in the family and the farther away a can of beans sat on the shelf, the further down the steps I had to go to get to where it was.  But by then I was too low on the stairs to reach high enough to retrieve the beans.  Once I grew another foot or so, the problem went away.  But I digress.

Somehow, and I have no idea how, my dead frog wound up stored on the shelf right at the top of the stairs.  If you started downstairs or if you were at the top of the stairs getting something from the shelves, you could not miss seeing my dead frog, lungs peacefully dangling in their jar of juice right there on the top shelf.  Indeed, I do remember several guests being startled by the sight…something I suppose they did not expect to see on a cupboard shelf next to the box of Cheerios.

I remember definitely that the frog didn’t move from that spot for over ten years.  It was just part of the scene.  No one in the family thought anything of it.  I’m sure if it had revolted my mother it would have been gone immediately.  But she was cool.  It was my school project and like the gazillion pieces of artwork posted on the fridge door and the plaster of Paris impression of my hand that hung on her bedroom wall, the frog was destined to be displayed and the top shelf of the cupboard was as good a spot as any.

Okay, so this is what I spent a few minutes daydreaming about today.  And the only reason I can justify why it came out of nowhere was simply to remind me to never forget what cool (translation GREAT) parents I had.  How lucky to have a mother and father whose whimsy had no problem honoring their son’s obnoxious science project sitting proudly on display between the can of chicken noodle and the jar of Welch’s.  How innocently insane.  I wish my folks were here today to share the quiet laugh I had.

As I said, just a little to chew on…but for sure a not-so-meaningless happy memory of what the good life is all about.

*****

For you diet watchers, yes, I am still on it, though the scale is slow to respond and it is a bit of a struggle to keep at it every day.  I am determined to stay with it for a while more and I will update you next time.


BUSY BUSY…

February 28, 2015

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Marc’s Blog has been a little neglected this week.  I’ve been busy.  I know that sounds a little weird since I am retired and I should have lots of excess time to do just about anything…but that is not the case.  It is good, however, to be active and busy.  So here is a this-n-that of things that have been going on, not that you have any particular interest in the mundane activities in my life…whatever.

My wife has taken up the hobby of making jewelry for the past year or so.  She sells her crafts on Etsy.com.  You have to search “jewelrybyrosemarie” (all one word) to see her particular site.  Right now is not a good time to go there because I am about to double the inventory so it appears a little empty currently.  This is what has been taking up my time.  I am her official photographer and webmaster so I’ve been busy trying to compile all the pictures and related info.  I hope to have everything done in the next day or so.

But the big gig is her first public show and that comes up next weekend.  For local neighbors, friends, relatives and lovers it’ll be at Volunteer Park in Plantation.  That’s on the south side of Sunrise about a quarter mile east of Flamingo.  There is a farmers market there every Saturday that you may be familiar with.  The show is official titled the 7th Annual Festival of Treasures, March 7-8, 10a-4p.  There will be all kinds of crafts and custom-made jewelry both outside in tents and inside the main building.  Rosemarie will be inside; look for the nice signage and other elaborations I’ve prepared to make her look good.  Of course, Rosemarie always looks good on her own, but I made the display presentable.

So I’ve been busy helping her get ready for the big show.  I’ve also been sidetracked by the painting of the house which was discussed earlier in another posting.  I explained that the Community Association controls the color selections offered to residents and that I had no issue with that.  Except this year they’ve put in a new three-color mix for each house and you are not allowed to deviated.  Rosemarie and I have deviated.  We did not like the third, dark and mismatched color they insist we paint our garage door and front door.  We painted these doors the same color as the other trim areas on the house, as we have for the 18  years we’ve lived here.  There are at least a dozen or more houses painted with precisely the same two colors as our, but the new three-color rule was not in effect at that time.  So we are challenging the rule, especially since the residents were not told about it before it was put into effect.   We’ve already gotten our official notice of violation from the Association and I’ve replied with our position and why we wish not to follow the rule.  I kept my initial response letter succinct and to the point.  I have much more ammunition for expanding my argument should they turn me down, which I am sure they will.  When have you ever heard of a home owners associations granting reasonable response to a resident’s challenge.  So I shall put on my best lawyer hat and pursue the matter as far as it evolves.  Maybe we can have a shoot out-using paint guns.

And finally, some of you may be wondering goes the Zero Belly Diet.  It’s still on.  I have, however, deviated a little.  I have abandoned the daily “smoothie” because the protein powder included in each has just become too unbearable.  It is disgusting.  I am going to GNC today to see if there is something else that serves the same function to the diet but at least tastes like a subtle poison that I may be able to tolerate.  I have also abandoned the menu plan in the book.  It is too demanding of prep time and since all the recipes are for multiple portions I wind up freezing the extra meals and recycling them every few days.  This isn’t difficult since most of the meals are pretty good.

I’ve added a few ad-lib meals to the mix too.  I still use only the ingredients the book endorses for the diet so that’s keeping it “pure” more or less.  I even found brown rice pasta (can’t have wheat in this diet) which wasn’t as bad as I anticipated.  I plan to continue on with the diet even though it’s a lot of work and I am hungry all the time.  But I was hungry all the time before the diet…it’s just that then I went and got something to eat, hence the large belly.  Now I have to muster up a lot more discipline.  But it appears to be working.  I’ve lost about 6-7 pounds in the two weeks I’ve been on it.  The cover of the book says “lose up to 16 pounds in two weeks,” but I never believed that in the first play.  I wasn’t losing much at all when I was relying only on 4-5 weekly workouts at the gym since October.  So this is a major happening to see the bathroom scale scaling down.  Again, my goal isn’t so much the weight; it’s where it is.  I need to reduce my belly.  The goal is to be able to place my chin on my throat, look down and see the space between my feet.  Currently, all I see is belly.  So for now it’s “carry on…and stick to the diet and exercise.”   This may take a few more weeks…then once there, how do I stay there????

 *****

 


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