It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. (thank you, Dan, and of course Victor). We had just moved to California. (See my last post.) Last is the operative word here. I have just found nothing remotely amusing to write about…and it’s been two years. However, I was relating this story to a friend, bemoaning how my writing had totally dried up. Nothing, nada, zip. And he said, “Write about that!”

So, here goes. My first post since then.

California!! Land of sunshine, bikinis, Beach Boys, Do You Know the Way to San Jose?, and Annette Funicello. I couldn’t wait. Finally! I was going to the land of my teenage dreams. We had bought a condo, one of twelve in a complex. (Finally, got into that fantastical California real estate market.) The condo was on a lake in northern California.  A seasonal lake. A lake that is literally completely drained every 7 years. And with our impeccable sense of timing, we chose the 7th year. In this complex there was one other person living full time. A woman and her 85-year-old mother. We moved there in November. My son, (this is the best of times part), also had a house on the lake and used it as a getaway from home life in the East Bay area. So, if he and his family came we knew someone. But that was it. Our lady neighbors and our son, about once every two months.

Hold on! I forgot someone! Right after moving there my husband wrote a note of appreciation (as he is want to do) to the HOA, and addressed it to the president. He was commending the work of our landscaper/gofer (who turned out to be a thief). He then received a phone call from the president. It seems this man and his wife also were full time homeowners in another part of the residential complex. Oh goody! More friends!

So, now, we have four “friends”.  I decided to have a party! Well, if you call inviting 4 people to your house for black eyed peas and ham hocks on New Year’s Day, a party. I don’t think any of these people had ever experienced black eyed peas, let alone ham hocks. I decided to throw in a little corn bread for variety.

They all arrived. Keep in mind we have never met the president of the HOA and his wife. And as we greeted them at our front door, the first thing his wife said, the very first thing was, “Are you Democrat or Republican?” We are not in Kansas anymore. And it was pretty much downhill from then on out. Thankfully, the State of Jefferson, which was also prominent in that area, did not enter into the conversation.

And then there were the taxes. And the rules and regs. Coming from the lawless shoot ‘em up west, ie Rio Arriba County in New Mexico, this was somewhat of a shock.

Whaddya mean your dog can’t swim in the lake? And you have to buy a permit for using the boat ramp? And buy a permit for storing your RV? And you have to register your car for exorbitant costs? And you are paying $500 a month for HOA fees and changing the lightbulbs and painting your outside railing yourself? And you have to replace every appliance in your house? (However, It was rather fascinating to watch them haul a new air conditioner to the top of the condo with a humongous crane.)

We lasted a year, actually a year and two months. And did you know Annette Funnicello is dead? Another reason to leave the land of fruits and nuts.