“Now we enter the silly season” candidate Barack Obama April 2008

The most recent HOA meeting at Del Boca started on a somber note. A woman living in the other building passed away. There was the expected moment of silence. Which after a moment got awkward. Finally someone said “Her nephew told me once that she’d had that rage issue ever since she was a child. You wouldn’t see it coming then BANG!”  A lot of murmuring and agreeing with more than one resident  saying   “Yea, she could get mad.” Then another person offered up “But she did fly with the WASPS and learned French to work with the Resistance. She was pretty brave. She didn’t have to volunteer.” 

Kind of sorry I never met her. 

After that we turned to more colorful matters. Color swatches that is. The building is being painted and we are voting between two paint schemes. That look exactly alike. 

After much discussion it was suggested that two people volunteer to have their decks and outside walls painted so we could see the colors in the real light and vote for the best combination. There was some talk about how that would be an imposition since there is a 50/50 chance your deck would have to be painted twice. I quickly raised my hand, said my name loudly and clearly and offered to have ours painted. 

Then came the time for the candidates for the HOA board positions to introduce themselves and make a brief statement. There are three openings and five candidates. Four candidates are women. After our names were read one of the outgoing members said “It’s nice to finally have the chances for board members who are good looking! I’m sorry my tenure is up! Any of these gals would bring a lot to the table they know how to make a dollar stretch at the grocery. I’m tickled.” The second awkward silence of the meeting. 

Each of us had the chance to give a quick synopsis of our qualifications. One of the other women running recently retired as the head of a national non profit the other has an MBA. Neither chose to highlight her ability to shop for bargains and clip coupons. 

When it came time for me to give my CV I heard some people say “Isn’t she the one who offered to have her deck painted?” The “she didn’t have to volunteer” subtext was obvious. Not all heros fly planes. And you no longer need to speak French to be part of the Resistance. 

The fourth women had a long list of qualifications including: her daughter was one of the youngest Seafair Princesses ever and her son works forGoldman Sachs.   If elected she promised to bring cutting edge technology to the condo to solve some of our day to day problems. 

Anticipating “jet packs to replace the aging elevators” emerging as a possible campaign talking point. Getting my pivot statement ready in case it does. 

Gregoire has assured me that an unqualified braggert with ties to Goldman is not going to win an election. 

I’ve had this rage issue since I was a child. 

Spread your tiny wings and fly away . . . 

We have reached the point in the year where a quiet falls over Del Boca Sunset. 

The elevators and cubbies, usually a great place to pick up some gossip (“Did anyone else notice that Buick Riveria was in visitor parking late last night and early this morning? 🤔”) have been unusually empty. 

We’ve reached the time of year in the retiree calendar when those that can go to their “Winter Place”. The snowbirds have flown. 

On our hallway of six condos we are the only people in situ. Which gives it a bit of a Scooby Doo abandoned amusement park vibe. 

But not everyone in Del Boca is retired, or even older. The most popular person in both buildings is Skylar. By his very name he sets himself apart from the Martins, Olafs, Orvs and Barneys that populate the our halls.  But his name isn’t all. Imagine a 35 year old blonde EMT. Are you picturing a sideways smile and dimple? What about a slightly crooked front tooth so he doesn’t look too perfect? Yeah.  That’s him. 

At every party Skylar is surrounded by ladies asking him for help hanging a picture, or changing a light bulb or my favorite “get the winter linens down from a high shelf”. It all sounds a little like the story line to a DVD you aren’t allowed to rent unless you’re 18. 

Late winter does bring a buzz to the halls for the few of us still here. The Home Owners Association Board elections are around the corner and the rumor is two seats will be opening up. (cue Evita overture). 

One of the current board members told me that I should think of running. “Women are really wanting to vote for a woman now. I bet you’d get all of the women and maybe even some of the men!”


Gnome place like home for the holidays 

The holidays have arrived at Del Boca Sunset with a cheery note in each cubbie letting us know that trees would be set up in the lobby of each floor and boxes of ornaments would be available for residents to hang. We were reminded that live trees are not allowed in the building and that the checks for the employee gift fund were being accepted in the office.

A long time resident gave me the heads up: the amount of the check written to the employee fund can go a long way towards forgiveness if you get tattled on for rule breaking; such as not taking a soapy shower before getting in the hot tub. 

A dollar invested in December might payoff in August. 


My across the hall neighbor, Mary Lou decided that in addition to the sanctioned decorations she’d add some of her own.(As an aside, Mary Lou is exactly who you hope you would be when you’re in your 70’s – funny, interesting, interested). As you can imagine we pretty much run the show on floor 2 building A.

The elevator on each floor opens to a floor to ceiling mirror with a long table in front of it. Mary Lou added some greenery and  five cavorting ceramic gnomes. From Norway. 

I know they are from Norway because they have “Norge” stickers on them. It is physically impossible for a Scandinavian to bring back something from the Old Country and remove the sticker. $1000 Orrefors bowl from Sweden? Sticker. Limited edition Iittalla bird from Finland? Sticker. 

So fun fact about living in the Scandinavian ghetto of Ballard — people take their gnomes/elves/trolls very seriously. And their country of origin. Those of us who aren’t Scandinavian see it all as one big place full of blondes telemarking towards their jobs at Volvo or the butter cookie factory but if you are one you know the difference. 

At the (artificial) tree decorating party someone motions towards the gnomes “I see we are going with a Norwegian theme. I’m Swedish.”

“Uh oh” I’m thinking “the S is about to get real.” “Why you think those are Norwegian”. The rest of us mutter “Read the stickers”. 

Mary Lou pulled up to her full 5 feet 3 inches and said “I brought Swedish meatballs to make you feel included too.” 

Can’t we all just get along?

The Rules Edition

Last week we all received  in our cubbie the new edition of “Welcome to Del Boca Sunset” (in the great circle of life, Handsome Husband  and I once again have cubbies. They are next to the mail boxes and are used to leave notes for fellow residents. Fingers crossed everyone buys classroom packs at Valentine’s Day!)

The Welcome book had helpful information like the Move In rules – which at first seemed like an odd choice since if you have a cubbie you’ve obviously moved in. Then I realized you can’t call out a new neighbor for violating the move in rules if you don’t have a copy of them. Well played, Del Boca Sunset, well played.

The handbook also had emergency preparedness tips written in Comic Sans font. Which, as everyone knows, is only to be used for scoldy notes in shared office kitchens. So color me unprepared because I won’t read it. Also the Downton Abbey mug in the sink at work – I’m letting it soak.

Handsome Husband and I decided to go sit in the hot tub around 9 last night. When we got there, we noticed a sign “Friendly Reminder: Please Abide by The rules Thank you”.  Yes that ransom note random capitalization was used and let’s face it there is so much wrong with that:

The reminder is anything but friendly. Someone has witnessed a rule breaker.

Just say it.

If you are a rule breaker, you aren’t going to rethink your thug life because of a note.

After our soapy showers (Page 7 Welcome to DBS) I went to turn on the bubbles and by mistake hit the “Emergency Shut Off” which not only shuts off the bubbles but sets off an alarm. So while Handsome Husband sprinted to the guard house to figure out how to turn off the waa waa noise and  I frantically tried to figure out where the speaker was located. I could see lights coming on in the condos facing the pool.

Once I found the speaker, I covered it with my beach towel and then saw someone come into the pool area. I must have done a pretty good job of muffling the waa waa noise because she got into the hot tub about five feet away from where I was standing without hesitating.

At this point I’m in a black bathing suit, standing in the bushes steps away from her holding a towel against the speaker and she hasn’t noticed me!

I realize that I have a very limited time before this goes from awkward to weird,. so I cough. She jumps up and screams. More lights go on in the condos facing the pool.

Handsome Husband arrives with the guard (picture Don Knotts from that haunted house movie but in John Stockton length shorts) We get the alarm turned of and sit down in the hot tub.

Our neighbor (who Handsome Husband thinks may in fact be Elke Sommer) asked us if we’d taken a soapy shower (we had) then explained that she had taken one back in her condo before she came downstairs but was concerned that she might get in trouble. Apparently there is a neighbor with a pool facing condo who, upon hearing the pool door open,will watch and see if people follow the shower rules. If she doesn’t see you shower she will REPORT YOU TO THE CONDO OFFICE! And they come to your door to remind you about the rules!

After some discussion where I tried to figure out who on earth was the tattletale, Elke Sommer said “You might remember her from the HOA meeting. She had a problem with the ducklings.”

Oh yes.

The Travel Edition

One of the great things about living in a condo is that you can travel without worrying about who’s going to pick up the mail, mow the lawn etc. We are accompanying my mother in law to her hometown of Newton, Iowa for a family wedding. But travel these days is not without travails:

 Our itinerary is SEA ORD DSM  

At O’Hare, since we are traveling with Handsome Husband’s 83 year mother we are met with what I call a “beep beep cart” those carts that take you from one gate to the next and honk their tinny horn at the poor suckers walking. Our beep beep cart driver was in a word, “fast”.

 To mix a number of movie references here’s a recap: 

We were FLYING along the concourse at O’Hare. So fast my hair is blowing back in the wind. Remember the scene from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” when they are in that boat towards the end? Like that. Especially because the United terminal has all those neon lights.

 We are heading right towards an Arrivals/Departures board at a full speed. I’m thinking this better be a Platform 9 3/4 situation because otherwise we’re in trouble when the driver makes a Crazy Ivan 90 degree right turn into an elevator, gets us down to the next concourse and we arrive at our gate.

 We then board the smallest plane I have ever been on. Like it should have a Playmobile sticker and assembly directions with it. But it’s not so small that it doesn’t have a First Class section — consisting of four people.

 While the rest of us slobs got “water service” which is room temperature water in plastic glasses, those four guys got wine in glass goblets. The struggle is real. #feeltheBern #nonotreally

 Our next episode: watch us freeze when confronted with a single garbage can in the breakfast room of the Best Western. Our plates clearly hold paper, plastic and compostables yet we are unable to figure out where to put them.

A Smaller Footprint – Accent on the Foot

Going from 3015 square feet (which makes the house sound big but includes an unfinished basement which is where you put everything anyway so should be included) to 1096 square feet has advantages and disadvantages.

 Advantages: it only takes about an hour to really clean your place the whole mop/vacuum/Windex/dust deal.  

A bit of a straw man since let’s face it, that’s really more theoretical than practical.

 Yes, I could spend about an hour cleaning the place but those DVR’d episodes of Outlander aren’t going to watch themselves.

 Also we have a remote I can talk to!

 I just hold the button, say what I want to watch and it comes on! This throws a spanner in the works when it comes to the whole cleaning thing.

 Also after a glass or two of wine I mess up and call the remote “Siri” and then, because we are living in 1096 square feet, my phone hears me and she starts chirping “Gretchen, I don’t see Jamie Frasier in your contacts”

 Disadvantage of a smaller place : Inventory management. 

We agreed when we moved here that for everything that came in, something would have to go out.  

Which was fine until I read the fine print and realized this agreement includes shoes (which is ridiculous, without shoes you risk everything from ringworm to tetanus) unlike say quarter zip fleece vests with embroidered golf logos which offer no public health benefits at all.  

I was lucky enough to win a pair of shoes in a drawing at Market Street Shoes! And I had just purchased two pairs of shoes. Which I really needed (see ringworm and tetanus) Also we are going to a wedding and needed a pair of shoes to go with my dress.  So in 24 hours I gained 4 pairs of shoes. This sounds like a lot, but do the math. That’s only a pair every 8 hours.  

So out go a pair of toxic Keds, a pair of pinchy but gorgeous black pumps, and two pairs of running shoes (like new. Really: Like. New.)

Exciting news!

 I have been accepted for membership on the Social Committee of Del Boca Sunset!

 Which I found out traditionally meets Wednesdays at either 10 am or 3:30 pm.

 Which works with my schedule except during the week. Which is when Wednesdays traditionally occur.

Pools Open!

The pool and hot tub are not only duckling free but open for use!

 The pool rules are posted in the mail room and in case those were overlooked, we also received notice in our cubbie style mailboxes reminding us of them.

 Of the ten pool rules 33.3 % involve hygiene:  

Swimmers are required to take a soapy shower before going into the pool.  

Swimmers are required to take a soapy shower before going into the hot tub. Swimmers are required to take a soapy shower before going into the hot tub or pool after applying sunscreen.


And a note at the bottom: if you take a soapy shower before swimming you can go to the hot tub without taking an additional soapy shower if you have not applied sunscreen in between.

 Just a bet but I think there might be some retired litigators in the stacks

The Narc Edition

New phrase for your vocabulary “stack living”  

In a condo, you are part of a stack. All of the units directly above and below you share a common water line. If someone needs to have the water turned off to have something repaired or replaced, they may turn off all of the water for that stack.

We are in the ’05 stack of Building A. 205A,305A,405A you get the picture. Seems like this designation would only be used in the rare event that water is turned off but often when people ask where you live, they ask which stack.  

Kind of like we are at Hogwarts.

 Sometimes when I say we are in ’05, people are a little too quick to assure me it’s a nice stack.

Concern mounting that ’05 might be Hufflepuffs.

Stack living requires rules since what you do and when you do it affects other people. You can’t nail pictures at night; if you are having loud repairs like tile being pulled up you need to notify your neighbors etc. And as Handsome Husband points out rules are the only thing that separates us from the animals. 

Washing your deck or doing heavy duty plant watering for instance can cause problems. Each deck has little drain holes so that the rain can run out. At the last HOA meeting we were reminded that if you are going to mop your deck or do heavy watering you need to plug up the drain holes then go get the wet dry shop vac and vacuum up the water. This is to avoid pouring water onto the head of your neighbor downstairs who might have chosen that very moment be sunning themselves.

 Mental note made: plug up drain holes and get wet vac. BUT we are above the bike room and don’t have downstairs neighbors so that mental note was more of the dry erase variety.

 This morning in a rare burst of domesticity, I decided to mop the deck. As I did, the water started to drain out.

 I toyed with idea of plugging the drain holes by fashioning a plug of my own design made from wine corks and tin foil but figured that would send me down a Pinterest rabbit hole so abandoned it in favor of a small transgression.

 In my defense, I knew it wasn’t going get someone wet while they were sitting on their deck and it was just draining into the nearly empty parking lot.

The water drained into the parking lot and ran into an empty parking space. An empty parking space that moments after I finished mopping became occupied. Literally the one space in the lot with the evidence of my rule breaking and a car drives up and parks in it.  

The guy got out of the car and looked at the water in his space and followed the trail across the lot to below the 05 stack then looked at me standing on my deck. (I had had the presence of mind to drop the mop out of sight as soon as I heard the car but figured running inside was a little too obvious.)

 “Looks like there’s some water coming from a deck in your stack”

 Me looking skyward to the condos above me with my Hufflepuffiest face: “Huh, seems like a funny day to be watering plants….it’s supposed to rain.”

* obfuscation: direct suspicion towards a rogue plant waterer not a deck mopper

 “Well, if you see who’s doing it, be sure to remind them to use the shop vac. They could get fined.”

Passive meet aggressive.

And I looked it up. I can’t get fined.

Excuse me but are you Jack Klompus?

Annual Homeowners Association meeting — Or I’m living in the “Del Boca Vista (Phase Two)” Seinfeld Episode.

 For those of you who have lived through a sorority house Monday chapter meeting, an HOA annual meeting will have an eerie familiarity. A façade of an agenda highlighted by passive aggressive digs at fellow members err homeowners.

 Call to order: our HOA president is a dead ringer for Joe Biden! Complete with brighter teeth, more hair and a Harley!

First order of business: the condo complex is now in a designated flood zone. Apparently people “back East” made this decision. For context, the USGS (aka people back East) reviews flood maps every ten years and flood zones move. There are 4 minutes of discussion about calling your insurance agent then we move on to other pressing business.

 Um Wait — I’m on the second floor can we revisit this whole flood thing?

Apparently not because:

Cardboard boxes are not being broken down properly. I repeat: residents of Del Boca Sunset are not breaking down their boxes correctly for the recycling container. There will be a letter put into mailboxes outlining the correct way to do it (spoiler alert – exactly how you think you break down a box)

 Also don’t bother tearing your address label off the unbroken down boxes because “we know who you are. We note who gets packages “. Hmm maybe having those Toys in Babeland deliveries sent home wasn’t the best plan after all. Time elapsed 20 minutes.

 Watery death = 4 minutes

 Unflattened boxes = 20 minutes


 The pool and the hot tub are scheduled to open this weekend but there is a mama duck, a daddy duck and ten ducklings living in the pool area. (the fact that there were ten baby ducklings within 20 yards of the meeting nearly cleared the room)

 A resident raised her hand to remind the board that she likes to swim early in the morning. By the look on Joe Biden’s face, this was not breaking news. She is concerned that she and the duck family will be sharing the same water. Our Plant Operations Manager (basically the MacGyver of Del Boca Sunset) pointed out that if she had ever gone for a swim in a lake she was “swimming where fish spawn”.

Um eww. Obviously not MacGyver’s first discussion on the subject with this resident.

 Drama at the pool: earlier in the day the baby ducklings got into the hot tub but were too little to get out and were swimming around and around with Mama quacking up a storm. So MacGyver put a plank in there as a ramp for easy egress. In his words “We will continue to work with the ducks.” Take that early swimmer.

 With that the meeting adjourned. Cookies and coffee were served.


The importance of oral hygiene and a morning routine

The first couple of days we were here we were surprised at how quiet it was.

Most of our neighbors are retired — in fact I heard one of the guards at the front gate refer to us as “That nice young couple that moved into the A building”. Zing!

All was quiet until our upstairs neighbors returned from whereever they had been. Their first night home Handsome Husband  and I were lying in bed and he said “Is it just me or can you hear someone brushing their teeth?”  

Yes, we could. Also they apparently floss. Luckily it’s with the waxed floss so not as loud as the unwaxed.  

I’ve taken a couple of early morning walks along the marina. The marina has a large number of people who live aboard their boats year round. I noticed a couple of guys going back to their boats, leaving a small concrete building with newspapers under their arms and coffee mugs in hand. Figuring that I’d found a coffee shop I started towards it only to see it was in fact the public Men’s Room.

I suppose some people can’t get going without a sit down and the paper.


The giant ship is currently boarding passengers. All the crew are wearing RED tee shirts. Coincidence? сомневаюсь!

 On the docket for today “HOA Welcome Spring” cocktail party from 4-6.

 The complex has a lot of social happenings. Handsome Husband  has not yet joined the Men’s Club. Which meets every Tuesday.  At 9:30 am.