Not bad for a fat girl


Random Stuff My Dad Used to Say

My Dad was an unusual man. He had many interests and would plunge into projects and hobbies full force, sometimes to the dismay of my ever tolerant mother. He built a greenhouse out of lumber and plexiglass in our backyard, and he set up a firing range for pistols in our basement. He was not your typical medical doctor next door in the suburbs. He was made of slightly different stuff. He was well educated and quirky and truly one of a kind.

My dad had so many sayings it would be impossible to compile them all here, but I want to share a few of them in honor of Father’s Day. Some of these make me laugh, others make me cringe, but they all passed my father’s lips many many times.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

I like that one. I didn’t really get it at first, but he patiently explained to me that just wishing for something won’t make it so. Anyone can wish, but you have to act on those wishes in order for them to come true. Oh… you mean, like, work? Yep. Work.

typography-quotes-inspiration-027A  journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Ok, so this one isn’t his. Apparently Lao Tzu said it about a billion years ago, but it stuck with my dad and now it sticks with me. It’s much like the one about eating an elephant, but Dad never said that one. He would be opposed to eating elephants. Anyway, this saying is another one about working toward your goals. No matter how big our dreams are, we will only reach them if we begin to follow the path that leads to them. Suck it up, take chances, and go for it. That last part is mine, not Dad’s.

Give time time.

Huh? In the later years of his life, my dad became very ill, primarily with Parkinson’s but he had other health issues as well. This became his go to quote during his declining years. I guess it means slow down. He had to slow down (he was never speedy to begin with), so maybe this quote was to remind himself that it’s ok not to rush. It’s ok to take the time you need to accomplish what you’re attempting. I’m still not sure about this one. Maybe with time I’ll understand it better.

Buy only what you need.

And we have just entered the land of irony. If “need” means 23 miniature brass cannons, 74 glass paperweights, and 6 garden hoses, then he nailed it. This man who preached a frugal lifestyle had a penchant for collecting things. As I mentioned earlier, he had varied interests, so he had varied collections to match. He was a regular in the gift shops of the art and science museums, and after his retirement he became a darling of the local estate sale agents. They would even put items aside for him. An entire bookcase full of antique family Bibles is one result of that particular obsession.

Bibles weren’t the only books he was passionate about. He had a huge library and he read every word of every book that he brought home. He would sit up in bed and underline passages and make notations in the margins and add in newspaper articles about the author or the topic. Each of his books on art, history, religion, philosophy, botany, nature, and politics received similar treatment. He loved the Time Life books, subscribing to several series including one on the Old West and another on Anthropology. At dinner he would share his learning with us, and challenge us with “penny questions” both about his topic, and about current events. My brother and I wanted those pennies! They were like gold coming from my dad.

My dad was one of a kind, and he taught me many lessons, both formally and through his example. He could be charming or irritating, suave or abrupt, cuddly or prickly. He was complex, multi-faceted, and exceptionally intelligent. He was a lot of things, but above all, he was my Dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I miss you.





OMG, HOA Enforce Your C,C, and Rs Please

Welcome to alphabet soup. I’m sure many of you understood that title completely, and a few of you may even be nodding in agreement, but for the uninitiated, let me explain.

First, HOA stands for Homeowner’s Association. Around here most of the communities built within the past twenty years have them, and many older areas do as well. The idea is that everyone in the community pays an HOA fee on a regular basis (mine is monthly, my last neighborhood had quarterly dues), and in turn the HOA sees to it that the community is kept nice. One way they do this is by maintaining common areas like green belts, bike paths, play areas, and even community pools. My neighborhood has none of those features.

A beautifully maintained greenbelt, which my community doesn't have.

A beautifully maintained greenbelt, which my community doesn’t have.

The other thing the HOA does is enforce the community’s C,C, & Rs. What are those, you ask. Why, the codes, covenants, and restrictions, of course. Before you take ownership of your house, you have to sign on the dotted line verifying that you have received, read, understand, and agree to abide by the C,C, & Rs. If you don’t, you have to look for another house. It sounds awful, and in some circumstances it can be, but there are advantages too.

Many years ago my parents found a little patio home as a vacation home. They purchased the place and happily paid the HOA fees because they took care of all landscaping, all exterior maintenance, and care and upkeep of the community pool. Unfortunately they also got the HOA president from hell for a while. Some people need hobbies other than making their neighbors’ lives miserable.

Toward the end of my father’s life he was mostly wheelchair bound, as a result of Parkinson’s Disease. He still got great pleasure out of being in the sunshine and the water of the swimming pool provided welcome relief for his failing body. My mother hired a physical therapist to come work with him on occasion in the generally unused community pool. This was about twenty years after purchasing the home. They knew everyone in the community, and were friendly with them all.

That’s why it came as such a surprise when the president of the HOA told my mother that my father could no longer use the pool with his therapist. She dug up the C,C, & R’s and found some bit in there that they were violating. Maybe it was because the therapist was being paid or maybe because it was being used for something other than pure recreation, I don’t recall. I do recall that my mother was in shock. Who’s property value were they hurting? Who’s quality of life were they diminishing? It was inexplicable and heartless. I think his illness and frailty just made someone feel uncomfortable.

Where I grew up we didn’t have an HOA. What we had were neighbors who spoke to one another. In most cases they got along great, but sometimes there were disagreements. I’ll never forgot the time my father painted our new stockade fence a hideous rusty red color. The neighbor across the road came over and made it clear to my father that another coat of paint, in a slightly less garish color, would be in order. My father complied, and they continued to get along after that incident.

In extreme cases, people would call the town. There were ordinances about things like how tall your grass could grow and what you could keep on your driveway. Overall, people kept their property nice, in spite of not having an HOA.

Fast forward to today. I drove down my street and noticed how tired and worn down it looked. Lots of the houses are in need of a coat of paint, and many yards are filled with weeds. Lots of cars are parked in driveways and in the street, indicating that people are using their garages for storage. We need a good clean up in this neighborhood.

Why does this bug me? Two reasons. First, when I moved in here I got a letter from the HOA within the first few days, telling me that my weeds had better get pulled. Ok, ok, I thought, I just moved in. Still, I did it, and so did everyone else in the neighborhood. It looked good. Second, I’m trying to sell my house. I don’t want a potential buyer to see a tired, run down street. I want them to see what I saw when I moved in. I don’t think that’s asking too much, especially since the HOA fee has gone up since then.

So here’s the thing. I would like my HOA to get my neighbors to clean up their yards and take care of their properties, but I would also like them to remember that communities are made of people, and people deserve compassion.