What I don’t miss about my old house

I looked back to the first of September 2019 to see what I was up to in my life. It was before COVID hit us — and we had no idea what the year 2020 would be like. I was curious what my big concerns were way back then.

What I discovered was I was dealing with a homeless man who would haunt me for the remainder of the time we lived in our old house. He magically appeared in our yard whenever we left town — I’d spot him on our Nest cameras. Or, he’d bring his belongings and sleep on our steps at night. I felt like he was stalking us. He’d write us random notes and leave them on our gate or cars — saying he’d force us out of the house and that he’d contacted the FBI. No, I don’t miss him at all. I welcome my new intruders: the two coyotes I spotted on my morning walk, the bunnies, deer, bobcat and javelina.

In September 2020, I wrote this:

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:

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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.

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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.

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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?

How do I get rid of an unwanted guest?

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A surprise left in our yard.

He’s not really a guest. In fact, he’s a homeless intruder who thinks he lives at our house. We called the cops on him in October. I wrote about him here.

Today, my husband came home from work and said, “What’s a barbecue doing in our front yard?”

“What?” I asked.

After seeing the barbecue inside our gate, I went straight to the computer to review my security video. Unfortunately, the homeless guy returned while we were enjoying Arizona sunsets over the long weekend.

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Arizona sunset.

I am now waiting for the police to show up, for the third time, to report the intruder. I have him on video over the weekend trespassing, peeking in our bedroom window, and trying to break through the garage door. I don’t know what else to do.

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Here’s the homeless man who thinks he owns our house.

Do you have any suggestions on how to get rid of unwanted guests?

 

“But, it’s a dry heat.”

Palm Springs Aquatic Center where my kids spent their youth.How many of my fellow Palm Springers have had that comment thrown at you, when you complain that it’s hot?

My daughter is in Utah and she said she’s getting tired of hearing how hot it is in Salt Lake City. “It’s perfect!” she says. At 84 degrees with sunny blue skies, that does sound nice.

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A view from my morning walk.

My son came home from Santa Barbara for a few days he was dying! He couldn’t believe how he’s no longer able to cope with the heat.

To be fair, it has been unusually hot week for mid-June. All week long it’s been over 110 degrees. I hear it’s going to be 118 tomorrow.

So tell me that at 115 degrees or more that it’s a “dry heat.” What does that mean?

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A hot day of 115 degrees, looking at the Big Bear fire.

It means that you can’t touch door knobs, steering wheels, or do anything outside after 9 a.m. — except for one thing: swim!

I remember my first summer in the desert. I told my husband that I missed my mom. I decided to get out of the desert and visit her in the Pacific Northwest—for weeks and weeks! I don’t think my husband liked that too much. But, it may have been better for him than having me miserable.

Since I began swimming with Piranha Swim Team’s Masters at the Palm Springs City Pool in April, I realize what a life saver that has been! It feels so good to jump in the pool and get some exercise.  I also walk several miles every day, and if I get out an hour or two earlier than my usual morning walk, and stick to the shady street sides, I’m okay.

I also find that I have to get all my errands done early in the day, rather than late afternoons like I used to.

The best way to handle the heat is to escape to the beach!

Sunset at the beach.

Sunset at the beach.

From Play-Dates to Play-Groups, Just Let the Kids Play!

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I saw a blogger on TV talk about “banishing the play-date.”  You can read his post here.

I reminisced about my childhood. I played in and out of neighbors’ backyards, rode bikes from dawn to dusk — with no adults bothering me.

imgres-2When I had kids, I found they didn’t have freedom like we did.

I went to Mommy and Me with my son Robert at the Palm Springs Pavilion. We learned to sing songs together and play “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “I’m a Little Teapot” with a dozen other moms and babies that apparently needed the coaching.  Each week, we took turns bringing snacks of grapes or string cheese. I look back at this as a training ground for the proverbial play-date.images-5

Play-dates developed from the Mommy and Me group. We had a park day, which was actually fun and healthy. Moms sat together on quilts on the grass and talked for hours while our kids played on the now-banned steel playground equipment — a super tall, steep slide, a merry-go-round, and a stagecoach that they could climb into, on top of and jump off of. Sometime during their early childhood years, our city tore out the dated, dangerous equipment and put in rubber ground and safe equipment. My kids never liked to play on the brightly-colored equipment and our park play-dates vanished.images

One day, I got a phone call from a friend. She homeschooled her daughter and hand-picked her friends for a weekly Friday Play-Date. She hired a teacher to run play-group, and each week included a lesson, a theme, craft and snack, followed by 10 minutes of unsupervised play on her backyard swing set.imgres-1

I felt honored to be in the select group. My kids had made their mark. Months later, she took me to lunch at CPK and told me she had some big news. She was uninviting one of the boys. I hardly saw this is earth shattering, but perhaps there was more to this luncheon. Maybe it was a warning!

imgresYears later, when my kids were in high school, they reconnected with friends from play-group. NOTE: This wasn’t just a play-date, it was play-group. They remembered it as if they were fellow Mouseketeers, having survived a bizarre childhood experience.

By 7th grade, I was homeschooling my daughter. Every Wednesday, I picked up her best friend from school, and brought her to my house to play until her mom got off work. This was another sort of play-date. We moms thought it was an ideal way to keep their friendship going. Since my daughter loved arts and crafts — homeschooling allowed her to try ceramics, mosaics, and quilting — I said that the two girls could do an art project each week.

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But that didn’t happen. I was tired from supervising my daughter’s activities to the half hour, and my daughter just wanted to hang out with her friend. So, I retired to my room and left them alone. After a few weeks, the friend didn’t want to come over anymore. She said she was promised an art activity and she was disappointed that they weren’t doing anything.

That makes me think about our kids and their overly structured lives. I love having quiet time. I hope my kids do, too. We need to unplug, unschedule, and let our kids regain their creativity and inner peace. They need us to leave them alone and let them be kids.DSCN0116

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood…

images-6I was taking care of my dad who had a shoulder replacement when it happened. We weren’t home from the hospital for one hour when I needed help. Somehow, he ended up sliding onto the floor and he couldn’t get up. I sure couldn’t get him up — and we had to keep his shoulder immobilized.

I didn’t think any of my neighbors would be able to help — except for the crazy guy down the street who brings his dog over to do his business on my lawn. But, after he called my daughter, who was 13 years old at the time, the B word and the C word — I try to avoid him.

images-2Besides the crazy guy who I don’t speak to, I realize I don’t know my neighbors. I recognize them and I wave as I drive by. But, I don’t really know them.

images-3It’s not like we’re new to the neighborhood. We moved into our home in 1992. The two neighbors I knew on a first-name basis — Vera and Betty — well, they died at least five years ago.

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I remember how it was different when I was young. We lived in a small house in a town of 5,000 residents. We knew everyone on the block — actually everyone in the whole town. During the summer, we weaved our way through each yard and kitchen in our neighborhood. We were offered an occasional cookie or popsicle. There was one house we avoided — Mr. Funk’s house. He’s the one with the cat trap in his back yard. I wrote about him in My Son Tried to Give Away the Cat on Facebook.

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Why don’t we associate with our neighbors, anymore? My mom and dad leaned over the fences and talked about their tomatoes with the next door and back door neighbors.

imgres-1We played work-up in the middle of the street after dinner until it got too dark to play.

imgres-4I miss those days.

If you’re wondering what happened to my dad, who had slipped to the floor in my living room, I called my husband who was at the beach with my daughter and her friend — a mere two hours away. He gave me a couple of choices. First, call 911. Second, wait two hours for their return. Or, my daughter piped in — call Karl.  Karl is a friend’s husband. I wrote about this friend in Alpha Moms and the Cupcake Wars. They don’t live in my neighborhood, but close by — and we’ve been friends for 12 years — fellow swim team, Catholic school, high school and NCL parents. Karl came over immediately and saved the day. 

images-4I guess we create our own neighborhoods with our interests and connections.

I have a question for you. Do you know your neighbors? Is this a phenomenon that is particular to my neighborhood that we aren’t very neighborly? Or is it a trend of today?

imagesSome of these photos are from my home town Snohomish, WA. Two are from my current neighborhood, the Old Movie Colony.