21

Homeowners’ Association Monthly Meeting

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Forest Glenn is an upper middle class subdivision with a diverse multi-species population. Before moving in, residents must sign a contract agreeing to be governed by the decisions of the Homeowners’ Association.

Please find below the minutes from the August 1, Forest Glenn Homeowners’ Association Monthly Meeting.

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm. Approximately 30 homes were represented at the meeting.

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Horace Hogg, president of the Association, reminded everyone that the pool would be closed for the season following the annual Labor Day party. He wants everyone to be courteous in the dish they bring to the event. We do not want a repeat of last year when one of the guests saw a relative being eaten by other guests.

Halloween is coming. A reminder to residents: no decorations are allowed that flash, light up, or are offensive to other residents. Therefore, witches and pumpkins are acceptable, but no negative portrayals of cats or bats.

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Decorations are limited to the porch and front of the house. Real blood is prohibited due to health concerns.

There have been violations of several Association policies during the past month. If residents have not corrected the problem by the end of August, fees will be assessed.

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Grass must be no higher than 1 inch – Beau Bison, Shelley Sheep. Lack of appetite is not an acceptable reason for non-compliance.

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No lawn ornaments – Dolly Deer, Joe Jaguar, Bob Beaver. Lawn ornaments include (but are not limited to) gnomes, flamingos, and wooden “Welcome” signs.

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No buildings except a house and garage – Alan Aardvark. Buildings include sheds, tree houses and permanent play houses for your children.

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One flag may be displayed per house and no flags larger than 2 feet by 3 feet displayed from the front of the house – Edgar Eagle, Larry Lion. Flags include national flags, state flags, school flags, college flags, and club membership flags. Homemade flags are discouraged. Flagpoles are prohibited.

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Political signs are not allowed on lawns – Delilah Donkey, Edgar Elephant. These signs are considered lawn ornaments, and particularly tacky ones. No one cares who you are voting for.

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Only shrub fences – Tommy Tortoise. Any other material would ruin the natural beauty of the subdivision. If residents were allowed to use materials of their choosing, we would be faced with the possibility of something cheap and tacky. You know we can’t trust everyone’s taste.

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Quiet time between midnight and 6 am – Billy Bat, Harold Hyena. Nocturnal animals are welcome in the neighborhood, but must abide by association rules. Additionally, parties which last past midnight must be moved into the home. Vehicles with loud engines may not be used during the quiet period.

Some reminders for fall:

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Do not burn your leaves. They may be used for mulch or saved in the backyard for burrowing relatives to use during the winter. The Association will collect unwanted leaves for the less fortunate.

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All plants must be trimmed back to no more than a foot tall before the snow falls. You are welcome to eat them yourselves or share with a friend. We will provide names of plant trimmers upon request. You may add small branches to your mulch or leaf pile if you wish.

If you are expecting relatives for the winter, fees are due to be paid no later than October 15. As usual, group rates are available.

The meeting adjourned at 9 pm. The next meeting will be September 5.

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2

The Return of the Evil Tree Spirits

My love affair with the trees begins anew every spring. The buds arrive just in time to keep me from going crazy from the ice and snow (most years). All summer long, leaves sit on the ends of the tree branches, looking beautiful and giving shade. At the end of the summer, they are stunning in their different colors. Then the evil tree spirits arrive and turn them into nasty, spiteful dead leaves.

With some leaves, it starts while they are still on the trees. Those are the leaves that never turn a bright shade of yellow; they’re sickly yellow with brown spots. When the rain and high winds come, they attack the roads and cars. The roads get slippery. They hang onto the cars and need to be pulled off, one by one.

The others make it to the ground, still looking festive. If you rake them quickly, they even make attractive piles. They crunch under foot and remind us of cider and football. These leaves may be more evil than the others because they lull us into thinking that even on the ground, they are beautiful.

Then you try to rake them. You pull all of them into a pile, look around, and realize that you have missed a few. You rake those few and notice that another part of the lawn has leaves on it. You put those leaves out back for mulch or winter dens for the critters or whatever. You go in the house feeling satisfied at a job well done. Then look out the window and see more leaves. Some meticulous homeowners rake every day, generally during their first year of home ownership.

One year, you decide to wait until all the leaves are down before raking. This option does not work. They are never all down. Or by the time the rain takes down the last of them, you have lost all interest in going out into the cold to rake leaves. You are getting the snowblower ready. Besides, how much damage could they do if you leave them until spring? Hint: if you leave a lot of foliage on your grass over the winter, you may not need the mower in the spring. You may need sod.

We don’t have many neighbors here, but back when we lived in the city there was the problem of the mysterious appearance of leaves on the lawn after raking. A lot of leaves. More leaves than any of our trees could have possibly shed. We were left with unpleasant thoughts about our neighbors: they were dumping their leaves on us. In their defense, it was usually a case of raking on different days and the wind moving the leaves.

But I have heard stories of blower wars, with no one willing to actually rake up or mulch the leaves. More evil tree spirit mischief. I’m sure the spirits were laying the groundwork for the snow spirits that make snow appear on the walk after it has been shoveled.

The final indignity is the few leaves that remain on the tree, blowing in the wind all winter. They are reminders of the love affair gone sour. And I know they are laughing at me.

10

Who? What? How? Why?

Am I the only person who thinks it’s weird that so many breakfast cereals now come in chocolate versions? No one should start their days with such a pale imitation of a beautiful food like chocolate.

Why would I know what type of cheese the man’s wife buys for snacks? It’s round he says. A cheeseball? No. Actually little squares? No, it’s round. String cheese? No. If you don’t have it, I’ll have to go to another store. Sorry, I don’t know what it could be. Oh, I guess it is string cheese.

Why does it make me feel so good when someone who cuts me off in traffic gets stuck at the same traffic light?

Do I need to serve Nosferatu beer and Haunted wine (red and white) at my Halloween party to be a success? What about 4 Witches and Dragon’s Breath beer? Deviled eggs? Tarantula dip?

Why do they always put one kind of icky candy in with the good stuff in those Halloween bags of candy?

When we are trying not to run into someone while walking, why do we both move in a direction to get in the other’s way? Sometimes more than once?

I pass through two school districts to get to work. Why is it that if I get behind a bus in one district, I also get behind a bus in the other district?

I go to a discount hair salon. Why would people pay $5 every two weeks to get their bangs trimmed if they are going to that salon  to save money in the first place?

Why would I need a four-pack of wine stoppers? I thought the point was to finish one bottle before I began the next. Even hosting a dinner, it would only be one red and one white at a time. Maybe I should start hosting wine tastings?

What is the point of those tiny ice cube trays? My little kitties or doggies would be melted before anyone could tell how cute they were. Besides, it seems a little tacky to ask people to guess what is floating in their drinks.

Why are some traffic lights synchronized with each other but not with the speed limit?

Why are there professional hockey teams in places that can’t keep the ice hard enough for part of the season because the weather’s too hot?

Why is the person who works the least in my department the one who got someone to assist him?

Why can I pronounce some words in private, but mangle them when I get in front of people?

Why can I lift 35 pounds of cheese but 35 pounds of salami feels too heavy?

What is the gracious way to tell the 250-lb woman that she really shouldn’t sit on the counter because it wasn’t made to support that much weight?

What is the right wine to recommend to someone who wants “a good wine that will make them drunk”?

What is the correct response when you find out that the person you share an interest in sports with roots for all the teams you hate?

Is fall so pretty so we get sucked into forgetting that we have to rake up all those formerly beautiful dead leaves?

Why do some people appreciate this type of questioning and some think I need more to occupy my mind?

2

Nothing Says Last Day of Summer Like Trim-a-Tree

According to my calculations (which should be double-checked), there are 95 days until Christmas. It’s almost time to start nagging my family for suggestions, so I get them by December15th if I’m lucky. Otherwise, it’s fall to me. Our burning bushes have just begun to burn, the weather’s getting cooler, and we have less roadkill because the genetic pool of the animal world has finally been downsized to those who understand why their parents told them not to play in the road.

Not so in the retail world. A point of pride at Ralph’s is that we are always the first with new merchandise for the season. I’m not sure how it’s tallied, so I’m guessing that’s like being the most famous. Statistics can be used to prove anything, but should be limited to those who know how to use them safely. For example, last year summer got an early start. So we opened our garden center two weeks early. (I know this because it was part of a presentation later in the year.) It’s that kind of thinking makes Ralph rich. Of course, this year summer decided to visit us on it’s vacation from other spots, so we had an end-of-season sale like you wouldn’t believe.

Halloween candy has been out for weeks. Of course, everyone knows that’s just a cover for us to buy it for ourselves now and buy the “real” Halloween candy on October 30. It’s the beginning of “The Holidays” when we’re allowed to eat what we want because it’s only once a year. The Holidays used to be between Christmas and New Year’s, then we pushed the start back to Thanksgiving. Now we’re moving in on Halloween. Maybe we could do like the bears – eat everything in sight for a couple of months then sleep it off til spring. It would beat slogging around in the ice and snow. I bet I’m not the only one who wished they could lose a couple of pounds overnight.

But everything pales in comparison with Christmas. I know some of you still associate Christmas with the Nativity, but you probably still give thanks on Thanksgiving too. It was over 80 degrees and humid yesterday, but as I walked through the back end of the store on my way out, there it was… the first Trim-a-Tree box (artificial tree with its own decorations). I had been expecting something since the big toy sale a couple of weeks ago. By Monday, there will be more. Pretty soon it will be an invasion waiting for Halloween.

The small stuff will start sneaking in soon. Things like cards and ribbon. Sparklely sweaters and Santa boxers. On November 1, the big stuff will make its appearance. We’ll have trees, door decorations, fake greenery, blow-up Santas, tinsel, and all that other stuff the Whos put up in Whoville. Part-time Christmas music between Halloween and Thanksgiving then All Christmas All the Time. People will complain it’s too early, but they’ll start looking and slowly start buying. Those people who have everything up by the middle of November must have bought it somewhere.

The big sales were traditionally the day after Thanksgiving. It’s still a big day, but unless you want to stand in line and fight for the 5 HDTVs that will be available at 4a, you might as well sleep in. December has become one huge rotating sale. Best of all, the stuff that we convinced you was must-have at the beginning of November is on sale in the middle of December. By a couple of days before Christmas, almost everything has been marked down. (No, this does not give you permission to wait until December 23 to remember you have to give your wife a present without a cord.)

My advice? Eat as much Halloween candy as possible. With a little luck, you’ll hibernate until the whole thing is over.