Why does our garage door open randomly?

archway gate

Olive the cat sitting at our archway gate.

We’ve had something very weird going on lately. Our garage gate, which is powered by Liftmaster, keeps opening and closing on its own.

I went outside to take out the trash, and the gate closed behind me — effectively locking me out of the house. Thank goodness I had my phone in my pocket. I called my husband and asked him to open the gate. I blamed him for locking me out. He looked confused.

I came back from my walk this morning and the gate was partially open. I swear I closed it. I start to doubt myself though when this happens over and over. The other night I woke up in the middle of the night and saw our gate was wide open and the kitchen door wasn’t locked. I was scared and couldn’t fall back to sleep.

My worries have been that our homeless man who thinks he own our house somehow got a hold of one of our remotes and he’s messing with us. We’ve been missing one remote since shelter in place began. The other evening, he walked by our house and threw a shoe box, complete with tennis shoes, over our wall. I feared he was stalking us and watching as we come and go — which he’s been known to do. Or, maybe our house is haunted? Or is Olive the cat messing with us and walking on our lost remote?

homeless man caught on camera

Here’s a picture I captured from our camera of our homeless guy.

But then I had the brilliant idea of reprogramming our remotes so if someone has one, it will no longer work. So I googled our brand of gate and this popped up:

screen shot how to fix gate

Problem solved I hope.

So, I’ve changed the batteries of the remotes and we’ll see what happens. All that worry and weirdness for nothing. I guess the lesson is if something is going haywire around the house, use the internet to figure out what is going on. There’s plenty of helpful information out there. Unfortunately I let my imagination go wild.

metal garage door

Here is our rogue gate. I hope it behaves thanks to the new battery!

What weird things have you seen happen in your house? How did you solve the problems?

 

 

When will 2020 be a distant memory?

Palm trees in Palm Springs

View from my neighborhood in Palm Springs

I ran across a poem in an email from a club I belong to. It hit a nerve with how I’m feeling lately. I’m not able to sleep through the night. I’m worried for my children’s health and lives. It’s been a strange year to say the least for everyone around the world. I can’t wait for 2020 to be a distant memory.

It may seem odd to belong to a “woman’s club.” It sounds downright archaic. But it’s an interesting group of about 150 women. We are mostly empty nesters and range in age from mid 40s to early 100’s. We have a clubhouse that we maintain and rent out to various people and organizations for things like weddings to theater. The main purpose of our club is to raise funds for scholarships from graduating high school seniors. We give them four-year scholarships for college.

The club website states our purpose:

Intellectual Improvement – Social Enjoyment – Helpfulness in the Community
​​​Serving the Community since 1938

It’s a great club because you aren’t expected to do anything. Or, you can be as involved as you wish and head a committee or project. I know many of the women from my years as a mom of school-aged children. When I joined the club, I saw many familiar faces of women who were always the ones active and involved in their children’s activities and schools. They are the ones to count on to get things done.

Then there are the older women, generations older than me. I value their perspectives and interesting histories. I don’t think I’d have built friendships with these women unless they lived next door. But thanks to our club, we all sit together for lunch or tea, and learn from guest speakers about our town’s history or other topics. I’m sorry we won’t be meeting this year in person, but I look forward to the day when 2020 and the global pandemic is behind us.

Here’s the poem I received today from the Palm Springs Woman’s Club:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me

And I wake in the night at the least sound

In fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

Rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

Who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

 I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

Waiting with their light.  For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

                                   Wendell Berry

picture of woman's club meeting place

Exterior of the clubhouse.

Looking back: Day One and 21 Shelter in Place

2020 has been one heck of a year. Today, at day 190 or so of COVID-19 staying at home and not back to normal, I wanted to look back on my feelings on Day ONE. I seemed pretty positive and was happy our daughter decided to come shelter in place with us:

Mt. San Jacinto at sunrise

Views from my neighborhood park.

I was pretty shaken up yesterday, but I’m pleased to report that I’m doing better today. I got my full walk in around the park and neighborhood before the rain started. I got to see a favorite neighbor of mine and chat while standing six feet apart. He said, “We’ll get through this.”

I got assigned a couple magazine stories by an editor and I think that helped me the most. I have a tight deadline and had to get busy. That kept me from turning on the news, watching the DOW, and reading all the headlines on the web rather than writing.

Life is pretty much the same for me as it is most days. I walk and then work from home. It’s nice to know my daughter is in the guest room working from home, too, right down the hall. My son is in the Bay Area and he’s under the same orders to shelter in place. He’s calling everyday to let me know he’s okay. I really appreciate that.

We will get through this. We have so many uncertainties ahead of us. That’s what gets me anxious. I try work through all the possibilities of what COULD happen and it gets me scared. It’s much better to stay busy at home while we are “sheltering in place.”

Ugly pug with snaggle tooth

This cutie pie came home with my daughter. He and the cat are practicing social distancing.

THEN CAME DAY 21:

palm trees and clouds

One of my favorite streets on my morning walk.

21 Days. Isn’t that something? My daughter came home a few days before we got the order. I’m so glad she made it here. She’s been a joy to have around along with her fur baby Waffles. We have plenty of room to have my husband, me and my daughter all working from home — together — yet apart.

Here’s a few thoughts I have about these strange days:

ONE
I go from super calm and productive to anxiety ridden from day to day.

TWO
I’m losing track of the days and the time. Twice I have woken up thinking it’s 6 a.m. and started the coffee only to look at the clock in the kitchen that reads 11:40 p.m.

THREE
My routine of daily three pages of writing, my three mile walk and Bible readings to start my day are more important than ever. All three help me stay grounded.

FOUR
I’m reading lots of good books. Sitting in my back yard in the sun reading is one of my favorite things to do.

FIVE
10,000 people have died in our country. My heart goes out to all the people suffering and losing loved ones.

SIX
We are now told to wear masks when we leave the house. I’m using a make-shift one from my quilting supplies. It’s hard to breathe during my morning walks, though, and my glasses fog up.

SEVEN
My writing jobs are completed and turned in and now I’m in uncharted territory without every minute of my day focused on meeting deadlines.

EIGHT
My daughter and I cleaned and organized the food cupboards and the laundry room. It feels good to have clean spaces.

NINE
I’m reaching out to family via phone and email. It’s important to stay in touch with your loved ones.

COVID-19 mask

My new morning walk look.

What are your thoughts about sheltering in place during the pandemic? Has your experience changed over time?

 

Day 181: Power is Out!

It’s day 181 since our county was told to shelter in place. What a strange day it is. We have a planned power outage and the temperature is supposed to hit 103 degrees. I had the AC on blast this morning to keep the house cool. I was planning ahead. But then we forgot the obvious. We didn’t open the garage or pull a car out to the street. We are seriously on lock down now! I hope our old house stays cool. I’m using my iphone as a personal “hotspot” to post this. So I’m keeping it short.

I am going to share something positive and beautiful today. It’s a video of gorgeous music by  my son’s girlfriend’s sisters. My daughter shot the video. It brings me joy to watch it, I’ll probably play it several times today as I sit in our house without electricity — that is until my phone’s battery dies.

 

So much stuff and how to let go

looking to my backyard

The view from where I work. The home we’ve lived in for 28 years.

We have lived in our house for close to three decades. During that time, we’ve acquired a lot of stuff. We had our babies here, raised them and sent them off to school and adulthood. They left most of their stuff behind in their bedrooms. It’s time to declutter!

We are in the process of clearing out junk, getting the yard cleaned up, and fixing the house up. We’re talking about moving. Whether or not that happens will be seen, but we’re cleaning out our clutter, painting and fixing things up as though we’re going to do it.

It’s a difficult process and I have so much trouble letting go of things. When we moved in we brought all our junk with us from our prior house. Then we got keepsakes from our parents, not to mention years of swim meet medals, school awards and assorted keepsakes from our children — and our own honors, awards and baubles. Then there’s the photos albums, camping gear, beach stuff, artwork, manuscripts, etc.

Today I called my son and told him I made a trip to our local thrift shop Angel View, that supports crippled children’s homes. I had trouble parting with two caps he used to wear. I finally tossed them in the “to go” pile

baseball caps

My son’s caps filled me with nostalgia.

and both kids told me, “Oh no!” One was from Guide Dogs of the Desert from when my son raised money for the charity rather than accept birthday presents in the second grade.(I wrote a story for the LA Times about that and wrote about it here.) The other was from Olympic Trials in Long Beach where he got Olympic swimmers to sign his cap as well as his teammates. I am fighting the urge to go back to Angel View and buy the two caps!

Here’s excerpt from an article from NPR with tips by Emma Bowen called ‘But Do I Love You?’: Tips For Homebound Declutterers

Where to start

The sheer volume of possessions accumulated through generations, compounded by any associated sentimental value, can create what might seem like an insurmountable task when it comes to the weeding-out process.

Overcoming those challenges, Hall said, starts with having the right mindset.

“You have to be really brutally honest with yourself. What do you want? If you want to thin out, if you want to downsize your home and get rid of some of this clutter, you have to want it,” she said.

From there, she recommends recruiting friends or family members to help discard or donate items. Cabinets and closets are always a good place to begin chipping away at the mess, she said.

Hall’s approach to tackling these heaps echoes the philosophy of tidying expert Marie Kondo, who asks her declutterers to dispose of items that don’t “spark joy” for its owner.

“For me, the key has always been to make peace with the items I’m letting go of,” Hall said. “I hold it, and I look at it and I say, ‘Do I like you? Yes, I do, but do I love you? No, I don’t.’ And if I don’t absolutely love it and cherish it, I take a picture of it and I let it go.”

sunset and palm tree view from my yard

Sunset view at home.

Have you decluttered during the pandemic or made a move? How do you handle the stress of deciding to let go of your worldly possessions?

Day 170: Will there be an end to this?

Me in my COVID-19 walking attire.

What a strange year this is thanks to the global pandemic known as COVID-19. It’s been 170 days since we were told to stay home and shelter in place. During that time, my husband has converted our master bedroom into his office. I’ve moved into my son’s empty room to work. My daughter was working in the guest room, until she got furloughed. Then she got called back for a few weeks. And then laid off. Then she decided it was time to leave the nest and go back to the Bay Area to look for work and be with her brother.

Remember the early days of the Coronavirus? Runs on toilet paper. Limits on meats. I was a daily fixture in the grocery store, probably because it was the only place I could go to. I often bought my one or two allotted packages of protein such as chicken, hamburger, steaks, pork chops — you name it. I wasn’t sure what the future would bring and I was afraid we wouldn’t have meat.

Now I’m dealing with my freezer that literally throws packages of chops at me whenever I open the door.

Time to defrost and cook. Today is a good day to turn on the oven. We’re only going to reach a high of 96 degrees which is a welcome change after three days in a row topping out at 120 degrees. When it’s hot here in the desert, we rely on microwave meals. Otherwise the kitchen heats up the house.

Sunrise at our park. When it’s 120 degrees I have to rise before dawn to get my walk in.

Anyone have suggestions for pork chops? I’m open to new recipes and ideas!

 

The Intruder is Back!

I looked back to last September to see what I was up to in my life. It’s been such a strange year, hasn’t it? Well, last September I was dealing with a homeless man who thinks he lives at our house. It’s been a year and he hasn’t gone away!

While we were on our working vacation at the beach in August, I had a friend’s daughter taking care of Olive the cat and staying at our house. One of her first times over here, our big wooden gates were shut and after opening them, she found a pile of blankets behind our trash cans! UGH! I looked through my video feed and found him at midnight, opening and closing our gates, peering through our bedroom window and jumping over our wall into the backyard. I don’t blame our house sitter at all, but she was no longer comfortable staying here! She made daily stops, but didn’t want to spend the night.

We called our neighbors who promised to keep an eye out for us, plus the police, who said they’d patrol our house carefully while we were out of town. They promised to arrest him if they found him trespassing. We returned and I haven’t seen him again. But, I did notice he stole our lock to the gate!

Here’s what I wrote about our intruder September 2019:

IMG_4427

Sunset from the back yard.

Last week I wrote about how I was minding my own business at home waiting for eye surgery and discovered on our Google Nest security feed that we had an intruder trespassing on our property nightly. We started locking the big wooden gates that open onto the street. We also have a garage door and an archway gate that are locked. On the camera feed, I saw the stranger rattling our gates, peering in through our bedroom windows, climbing over the wall into the backyard — and taking an object to smash the lock on our archway gate. I was terrified. Then I went for my morning walk on Thursday like any normal day:

I went for my morning walk today as usual. I almost skipped it because I didn’t want to leave our house with the big wooden gates open (they lock from the inside.) During my walk, I constantly checked the Nest app on my iPhone for activity. When I was a block from home, I looked at the app and the guy was there! He had returned!

I couldn’t stop shaking and when I got home, the gate was closed! I yelled and said I was calling the cops so get out! I checked my app again. The intruder had left three minutes before I arrived home. I called the cops and waited, not stepping foot on our property, but feeling safer in the middle of the street. The policeman came right away and said he’d look for the guy, he was probably close-by. He also suggested we get a lock for the outside of our big wooden gates or hire a security firm. I’m thinking Rottie. We had one before and this never happened.

IMG_4327

A present to myself from our beach vacation. The wind chimes are soothing and help me relax

Friday morning the nightmare continued. I woke up at 5 a.m. to my husband yelling from outside the house to call the cops! I grabbed my glasses, my phone and my hands shook as I tried to dial 911. My husband kept the guy at bay on our steps while we waited for the police to arrive. The 911 operator kept me on the phone and asked me to narrate what was going on.

A few minutes later which felt like an eternity, a half dozen police arrived. They said, “Marco! What are you doing here?” to our intruder.

Marco answered, “I live here. I bought this house.”

“No you don’t. You said that about the house down the street,” a policeman answered.

They handcuffed the intruder and drove him away. Both my husband and I were shaking with fear, anger and tried to lower our adrenaline levels to have a normal day. It didn’t happen. We both struggled.

I find myself waking up in the night, looking at my Nest app, listening for any little noise. I’m hoping each day it gets a little better. This person turns out to be well-known, a Palm Springs native and harmless. Of course, we had no idea of that with his erratic behavior and his trespassing from Saturday night through Friday morning. It brings our homeless problem right in my yard, not some abstract issue I read about in the newspaper.

IMG_4433

Olive is more relaxed now that the intruder has been arrested.

Have you had an intruder at your home? What happened and did you get over your fear?