Saturday, December 9, 2017

Cookie Swap and For the Troops

Online at 11:35 PM last night, I was startled out of my socks when it felt like a giant had picked up my building, then quickly dropped it back down.
EARTHQUAKE!!! I’d posted on facebook.
I must have been the only one up and online, because usually there’s a flurry of back-and-forth postings. Instead, there was nothing – not even today.
Measured at 2.8, it felt a lot stronger, but I guess coming off the fire alerts and looking at all the devastation in other areas, an earthquake is now considered no-big deal, not worth mention.
Barring any unforeseen Mother Nature circumstances, we’re slated to have a Cookie Swap here in the Community Room on Tuesday. Simultaneously, the Baker is hosting an ugly sweater cookie decorating event and collecting Cookies for the Troops.
Of course, the cookies for the troops have to be packaged, not personally baked.
Decorating ugly sweater cookies is my kinda thing, and would be fun, but what to do with the cookies after?
This time last year, I attended the Residents Christmas Party at the multi-family complex next door, as granddaughter was working in the leasing office and invited me. She's since working on her degree and has relocated to Newport. At any rate, that was my first introduction to decorating ugly sweater cookies, after which I devoured the cookies because they were shortbread -- my favorite. 
What a difference a year makes, because cookie decorating kits are now big business -- kits of every kind everywhere, and now cookies have been added to the list of what I cannot eat without a violent gut reaction so, not wanting to be tempted, I’ll probably not get involved with those cookies, but I do have a Pike’s Place Gingerbread CafĂ© kit I picked up in Long Beach to assemble.

I’ve never attempted a gingerbread house of any kind before, but it’s a kit – everything is pre-made and provided, so how difficult can it be for my inexperienced self?
Also, while out and about Friday, I ran across the Danish Butter Cookies I use to be so fond of at Christmas, only now, instead of the 12-ounce tins, which I had no problem polishing off in the past, I found they’re being offered in 4-ounce single serving tins.
Perfect for the troops and, priced at 2 tins for $2.00, or 1 tin at $1.39, it behooved me to gather up a couple sets of two.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The New Normal

Waking up to fire trucks once again racing down the street this morning, it occurred to me I’d better stay prepared because, though the trucks are not now for my immediate area, that this is my new normal.
We’re always on the alert for fires on Little Mountain during the periods of heat waves, but this is the first time the Santa Ana’s have brought threat of fire with it, and this time it was way too close for comfort.

Red area is location of fire, and I’m just on the other side of the mountain in the black circled area.
My archeologist friend, living on one side of me, didn’t have to evacuate, but was getting phone alerts to stand by.
A former coworker friend, living on the other side of me, had officers driving down her street, with bullhorns, shouting for everyone to “get out now!”
It was just an insane day.
I stayed prepared by piling up what I thought I’d need to take to the car by the door, sleeping partially dressed so all I’d need to do was slip on pants, bra, shoes and not wanting to risk having to rush out the door with a bare face, folks seeing me without makeup, I slept with my makeup on.
It’s vain I know, but some things should never be seen.
At any rate, once the threat was declared over, I returned what I’d piled up to its proper place but later, watching a program on the Discovery Channel, wherein a fleeing criminal rushed by a location he'd prepared in advance to pick up a “Go Bag”, containing money, fake IDs, etc., the thought occurred that since this is my new normal a go-bag would be a great idea.
I’m in the process of putting one together containing clothes and toiletry for a few days in the car or at a hotel. My important papers are already located in one place, in something I can easily grab as I head out the door with my go-bag.
This additional step of preparedness will give me time to focus on saving the Creative Memory photo albums.
Winds seem to have died down for now so, with no fear of the wind huffing and puffing and blowing my little Saturn off the freeway, on tap for today is heading to the Amazon Locker to pick up a delivery of butter coffee and shirataki noodles, with a stop by the mall to pick up a delivery at one of the boutiques. I order so much and so often that I can’t keep track. What I’ll be picking up at the mall will come as a complete surprise.
I’m a good shopper, frugal even, so I’m sure whatever it is that I got a good deal and the item is necessary.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

All is Chaos

The Santa Ana winds kept me indoors all-day yesterday. 
Safely tucked indoors, it sounded like the end of the world was happening outside as the wind raced through the quad, sounding like a freight train, prompting me to periodically check to make sure patio Christmas decorations hadn’t gone with the wind.
Everything was still on the porch when I checked again this morning, only not in the neat configuration I’d positioned them.

Seems the Santa Ana’s get stronger each and every year, but looking at the wildfire devastation (Thomas Fire, Creek Fire), if all we have to worry about are decorations being upended, we’re very fortunate, I thought to myself.
My heart went out to one woman interviewed on the news who said, “It’s ironic. Four hours ago, I was sitting in my house, doing what I normally do. Now I don’t have that house anymore”.
A reminder how it is that life can change in an instant.
As I went on with my day, I noted what little damage the wind had done in this area.
The tree underneath my window is history.
Tree Before

Tree After

The maintenance men corralled a door flying down the street.

Head Maintenance Man, back from his bout with illness, saw it flying down the street, ran, managed to grab it before injury was done to person or property, and the wind was so hard that he had had to call Assistant Maintenance Man over to assist.
First time I’ve ever seen Head Maintenance Man rush/hurry/run and showing initiative.
The leasing sign at the multi-complex next door is destroyed.

We figure next door is also where that flying door came from.
Certain the heavy winds had brought down the side of the H Building, previously damaged by the U-Haul, I walked over and found, lo and behold, repair work has begun.

It’s a Christmas Miracle!
I also observed an unusual number of fire trucks travelling up and down the street.
Why? thought I. We’re nowhere near Ventura.
Then I saw on the news the trucks were for the fire practically at my back door – Little Mountain by the golf course, three miles away.
Did I say life can change in an instant?
Evacuations are in play, but not us, not yet. We’re told to “be ready”.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Rolling the Dice

Just call me The Bounce Back Kid, because I was up and about, fully recovered from the gut episode and hacking cough by this morning.
Even though I have no faith in the drug dealing medical profession, preferring holistic methods instead, I did contact the doctor’s office. After an over-the-phone evaluation, it was determined I was having an “Influenza Confrontation”, which sounded very much to me like a fancy name for the flu, even though I’d had the flu shot.
Advised that “because of your age”, I needed to be seen immediately, but unable to get an appointment in the doctor’s office until December 21, I was further advised to walk into Urgent Care.
That seemed an awful waste of time and energy. Like what could they do about the flu except suggest what I was already doing -- bed rest and plenty of liquids.
I decided to roll the dice, listen to my inner physician instead -- which was leading me to more pau d’arco healing tea, and take my chances I would bounce back.
With the gut episode now over and only an occasional cough, on Saturday I made my way to the scrapbook store for paper and ideas for the Thanksgiving photo layout.
Staff was dressed as cute little elves.

So fun! I love Christmas -- the decorations, mall Santas, random elves.
By Sunday, the cough had completely dissolved. However, inasmuch as I’m still fatigued, with no hopes of participating in any of the 5Ks coming my way, I’ll keep the appointment on the 21st, but I already know what the doctor’s going to say … “Lose weight, take these pills”.
I’ve been resisting taking the cholesterol medication she's been trying to push on me, but I might do so this time just to see if the tiredness and dizzy spells are high cholesterol related.
No word on how the funeral for deceased sister’s youngest son went on Friday, except his sister’s facebook page indicates he chose cremation. 
Looking at the cryptic messages she also posted, I’m not in trouble for not attending the funeral, but her remaining brother, my deceased sister’s eldest is.
He’s taken no interest in his sister, or his now deceased brother, since 1991 -- because both looked to him to care for them after my mom, their grandmother passed away. It was my mom who enabled my sister -- she'd have a baby, drop it off with my mom, mom would accept responsibility. Consequently, thus enabled, sister repeated the process twice more and rather than growing up and taking care of her kids after mom died, she went on with her party life style.
Not wanting to pick up the slack and live my mother's life, eldest son split and made quite a good life for himself – several gold records, his rap group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I can’t fault him for not wanting to be stuck with doing what should have been his mom’s responsibility all along, and though he was not close to his brother or sister, he’s chose to be close to my girls (his cousins) – probably because they don’t weigh him down like his brother and sister would have. And oddly enough, he remained close to his mom until the day she died, seemingly unaware of her years of neglect.
True to form, after sister became old, sick, and her eldest became somewhat famous, she then showed up.
At any rate, my deceased sister’s daughter is now happily married and though she’ll miss the deceased brother, who practically raised her -- and him just a child himself, she's said she’s keeping the urn with his ashes, and hopefully she’ll soon move on and away from desiring a relationship with the elder brother, a relationship he doesn’t want.
Lastly, sick as I was, I made an effort and did attend last week’s Safety Meeting. In attendance were two police officers and a liaison. They were here to present Community Manager with a certificate and plaques designing this complex “Crime Free Program in Force”.
I seriously doubt those plaques are going to keep those with bad intent from jumping over the back fence and coming onto our property, which the officers suggested management raise the height of the fence.
Ha! If they haven’t yet repaired the damage done by the U-Haul to the H Building, I don’t imagine they’ll spend money protecting us by raising the height of the back fence.
Before leaving, the officers were observed in Community Manager’s Office looking at the video of Friday’s pervert. Hopefully, they printed out his photo, from the waist up, and the officer they said would be patrolling our area, as part of that program, will see him out and about and nab his nasty butt.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

If Only

If I weren’t going through a period where I’m feeling every year of my age, with no idea if and when I'll get a second wind and back out there on the 5K circuit, and if I weren’t still recovering from whatever this is I came down with a few days after returning from Long Beach that not only set off a gut reaction, but had me coughing so much and so hard that my throat was raw and my ribs sore, I’d be packing my bags right now to head to San Diego for the Santa Run 5K.

This looks so fun, especially since the race organizers provide the costume.
Funny thing is – well not funny ha ha, but funny interesting is, week before the trip, I’d been thinking how lucky I was that, other than IBS, I don’t get sick. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a cold or the flu, and I’m talking years back. Then WHAM, I was flat on my back, boosting my immune system with gallons of Pau d’Arco tea.
I’m struggling to figure out how I opened myself up for sick to come in, but the worst of it seems to be over.
I was really craving soup today.
In the old days, when I could eat like a normal human, I’d pick up a few cans of Progresso Soup and be done with it. Instead, I had to research what safe soups I could throw together and found a recipe for Shirataki Ramen Noodle soup.
I had shirataki on hand but, needing chicken broth, off I go to the market.
Waiting at the check out stand, I over heard a conversation between two gentlemen where one said, “I don’t carry dead presidents, only Benjamins”.
That slang so peeked my interest that, as soon as I returned to the unit, I googled both terms.
If you already knew this, you’re way ahead of me, but in case you didn’t know, and you’re a contestant on Jeopardy and need an answer:
Dead presidents -- $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 bills. Used because most American bills have deceased former U.S. Presidents on the front.
Benjamins -- $100-dollar bill.
Other than being under the weather and managing to expand my vocabulary, not much going on here at the complex since last Friday’s chaotic day … or at least as far as I know.
I did hear our Head Maintenance Man has been out “sick” all week. My response to that was “sick in more ways than one”, but hopefully my being sick the same time as Head Maintenance Guy isn’t me spiritually connecting with and empathing his illness.
Just in case you’re wondering, I do love shirataki noodles, but the soup recipe tasted nothing even remotely close to a ramen dish. It wasn’t totally awful, so I managed to down a few bites for lunch and I’m currently in the process of adding shrimp and turning the remainder into a stir-fry for dinner.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Santa Ready

My little senior unit is ready for Santa.

Front door looks very festive and, feeling unwell since returning from Long Beach, I could have left it at that, especially since I was expecting to find Christmas decorations all smelly and moldy from having stored damp last year after heavy rains and insufficient sun to dry out. Instead, I struggled, took frequent rest periods, found no water damage, except to the cardboard box containing the drum set, and managed to get the patio done.

Patio Left
Patio Middle
Patio Right
Levi denim boot stocking is up.

Horseshoe tree is up.

Instead of elf-on-a-shelf, I have Santa on-a-shelf and partnered him with a Starbuck Christmas Cup ornament.

Nothing to do now but pat myself on the back, lay back and enjoy.
Heading to the market this morning, I ran into neighbor around the corner whose sister and brother-in-law were in that accident outside our gate. Inquiring about their health, I’m told they are home now. Nothing was broken, just banged up.
I hope they know how fortunate they are. The same thing happened two months ago at the multi-family complex next door, where a car turning into the complex driveway failed to yield to cross traffic. Everyone in both cars died.
Friday’s encounter with the pervert showed up on tape. Evidently, there’s a camera overlooking the mailbox area. When staff returned from the Thanksgiving holiday, and learned of the encounter, Complex Manager reviewed the tape and, according to Assistant Maintenance Man, was shaken when she saw what happened and could have happened had I not been so quick to get out of the tight space and out into the open.
Assistant Maintenance Man took it personal when he saw the tape. He actually came to my unit to make sure I was okay. Of course, his buddy, the Head Maintenance Man wasn’t with him. ROFLMAO! That guy’s going to be upset for like forever that I outwitted and outplayed him.
At any rate, Assistant Maintenance Man really wants to catch this pervert. 
Problem is, no one knows who the guy is and where he’s coming from. Assistant Maintenance Man said, the guy is not the person the police said they’d been called out on several times before. That family had been forced to move because of their mentally challenged son's behavior some time ago. The pervert is a new crazy, has been observed on the property previously by others, and Assistant Maintenance Man suspects he’s been jumping the fence onto our property from the multi-family complex next door.
The encounter has made me paranoid. Heading out the door and down the stairs, I find myself cautiously looking around. Once outside, I’m looking right, left, behind me and always have my hand in my pocket, fingers on the taser. I was going to start carrying a can of wasp spray, but just read that, as a self-defense device is a myth, that pepper spray is better.
I’m really not liking this feeling paranoid, but suffer it to be so for now.

Saturday, November 25, 2017


Reentry back into the Community has been chaotic.
Waking up this morning, I wasn’t even sure where I was – am I still in Long Beach or am I home? thought I as I lie awake, not yet ready to open my eyes. It wasn’t until I finally opened my eyes and didn't see the Queen Mary that reality hit … Oh yes, no longer in the hotel.
The chaos began yesterday, shortly after I pulled into the complex around 8:45 a.m.
Going up and down the stairs, removing luggage, shoes, clothes, new purchases (I went shopping) from the car, getting things upstairs, I took a break and went to the mailbox where I became the unlucky recipient of a perverted young man’s display of his manhood. 
Of course, the stun gun was still in the car and, caught off guard, I didn’t think to use the pepper spray. I just hurried out of the mailbox area, waved my arms and called out to Apache as though I’d seen him and was calling him over, and the pervert took off. 
That was quick smart thinking on my part, especially since Apache isn’t even here. He’s in the hospital having knee surgery, but the pervert didn’t know that.
The police got involved – I called, as did two or three other residents who’d spotted him elsewhere still on the property “looking out-of-place and acting suspiciously”, so that was a big to do and ate up a huge chunk of my day.
Turns out the guy has mental problems, is here from time-to-time because his parents live on the premises, and the police said this isn’t the first, second, third or fourth time they’ve been called out on him. I don’t think it was for the same reason I called, but they wouldn’t say.
At any rate, inasmuch as it’s in the lease agreement that residents are responsible for actions of their visitors, it doesn’t look good for the parents remaining tenants here. Especially since management just completed training and received certification designating this a crime-free community. They’ll lose their certification if residents have to keep calling the police on this guy, so I expect management will have no mercy on the parents after this last escapade of his.
Then, when I was still carting things out of the car (stun gun in hand this time), the Baker caught up with me and invited me down to the Community Room for a birthday party for two of our residents.
I took photos of that event, hung out for a while, posted photos to the Residents Volunteer Activity Committee’s facebook page, headed back upstairs to settle in, unpack, but never got around to settling in or unpacking because I heard a loud crash that seemed to be coming from the parking area.
Concerned we’d had another U-Haul incident and that my parking area might be involved, I headed out and found it was a traffic accident just outside the gate.

The sister and brother-in-law of a resident in my building, coming to visit him, had failed to yield to cross traffic before turning into our driveway. Young driver of the other car was uninjured, but brother and sister-in-law were unable to move. People tried to lift them out, but they were in too much pain and had to wait for the EMTs to safely extract them.
By the time everything was cleared, it was the end of the day and I’d accomplished nothing, except I did finally get everything out of the car and back upstairs. Bags remained unpacked until late this afternoon.
Tomorrow, I hope to get started on decorating for Christmas.
While chitchatting with folks at yesterday’s birthday party, I asked “How did the Thanksgiving Potluck go”.
What I got was raised eyebrows and folks laughing.
Evidently, there was high drama at the potluck, so high that staff had to come in, referee a squabble and give a speech about how there will be no bullying.
I didn’t recognize the name of the bullying individual, did not recognize the name of the victim, and couldn’t get a straight story about what happened and why it happened, other than it had something to do with "water". Guess I’ll have to go to the next RVA meeting and the Residents/Management meeting, as I’m sure the bullying episode will be addressed at one or both events. I’d also better attend this Tuesday’s Safety Meeting, where I’m sure management will be queried as to what’s being done about yesterday’s pervert.