Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Fire Trucks and Rule Breakers

 

A fire engine just went by on the main street, horns blasting they way they do when little boys grow up to do a man’s work. I can barely see them now that the trees have given birth to their summer foliage. The woods that separates the main street from the campus is maybe two-three hundred feet wide so the blue, black, white and red vehicles that travel that street are just flashes of color tracking behind the tree trunks. The fire station is just around the corner----less than two blocks away by foot---which is handy given the nature of our private road that’s lined with an assisted living, an independent living apartment building and twelve town houses, a memory care facility, Hospice and an activities building. 

The fire engine is here at my apartment building three to five times a month. One time someone’s toast got caught in the toaster causing the smoke alarm to ring down at the fire house. Any time a smoke detector is activated on campus it can only be turned off by the fire department so waving smoke away from your detector does no good. Another time the fire department came out because someone put a pot of water on to boil and she claims the steam set off the alarm. Twice a couple burned the steak they were cooking and as a result they strong-armed the CEO into buying a “community grill” to use outside but it sits by their door, too inconvenient for 98% people living here. They seem to get a lot of special privileges like spreading their lawn ornaments and chairs ten feet out into the public areas which our rules book says is a no-no. It’s not in my wheelhouse to snitch on rule breakers but if I was I’d start by reporting the guy who is feeding birds. He thinks because he’s using seed cakes instead of loose seeds in a feeder it doesn’t count. He’s on the second floor and the birds going to and from his deck are dropping do-do where the public lounge chairs are located for viewing the lake. It’s just a matter of time before someone gets poop on their head. It should be noted that it's my jealously talking here because I miss my birds, but I'm not brazen enough to break the no bird feeders rule. I catalogued 26 variations of birds at my old house. Here, I haven't even started a list. Hand me a tissue, I think I'm going to cry.

The fire department is the first on the scene for medical emergencies, too, and when everyone living in a place is over 65 you’re going to get to know their procedures. I’ve gotten good at telling which kind of call they’re coming to when I see the guys hop off the engine. I love guys in suspenders even if they are holding up turn-out gear for fighting fires. For fire calls, all the guys and gals on the truck will have their turn-out pants and boots on but only the lead guy will go in with a jacket, helmet and tank of something strapped on his back. Once that guy does an assessment, the next person to go into the building will have a box box fan and someone else will be charge of turning off the alarm. I’m assuming if there was a ‘real’ fire, the entire crew of six would be throwing on their jackets and helmets and the alarm would stay on like it did during our fire drill. 

We haven’t had a big fire here but if they do I’ve got a hydrant literally two foot off my deck and right under my bedroom window so I won’t miss any of the action. As long as I’m not the source of the fire I’m good with that. The building has a sprinkler system so I don't expect a fire could get out of hand. I do worry, though, about living with so many older people. My neighbor admits to putting a roast on the stove and running off to the church. On purpose. "What if you got in a little fender bender on your way home or you got distracted and went out for coffee with an old friend?" I asked, "Your apartment would set off the alarm when that roast runs dry!" "I hadn't thought of that," she replied. Why is common sense so uncommon? 

Tuesday we had our monthly “Dialogue” with the CEO otherwise known as a ‘Pitch and Bitch’ meeting where we residence listen to an upbeat spin on various issues and where some residences are more than willing to hold management’s feet under the fire for promises not fulfilled or answered with their classic phrase, “We’re working on it.” We’ve wanted a way to recycle from the beginning and just this month the management finally came through with containers in our trash rooms. Six months. It took four months to get our screen doors, too, but few of us cared in the middle of the winter. I was one of the first to order one (back in January) so I got my screen installed just in time for warmest temperatures of the season to pop. Others will be waiting until summer is almost over because apparently some people thought they'd magically appear when needed. And let that be a lesson to you: Learn to use apps and email daily because life in places like this is peachy-keen if you do. Otherwise you're getting your information like the old party-line telephone game where you sit in circle and whisper a secret in the next person's ear.

I would hate being in charge of the people who live here and our CEO is in charge of our sister campus as well where there are twice as many of us old people to keep happy. He can’t walk anywhere without someone putting a bug in his ear about something they think needs changing from smudges on their shower door the cleaner left behind to why can't maintenance just kill the geese? It’s interesting to watch a few people here who once-upon-upon-a-time had high powered jobs try to bulldoze someone who now has a high powered job and is standing in their way of getting what they think they're entitled to. 

And last but not least, here is my public service announcement for anyone who doesn't think they'd like politics and gossip that takes place on a continuum care campus. You become one of those prairie dogs I wrote about last week. Easy-peasy. For me, it's entertaining blog fodder and lest you think that's all I do is gather fodder you'd be wrong. I average an hour or two a day to interact with others and that includes a lecture and Mahjong once a week. The rest of my time is usually spent by myself. By the way, I've won twice at Mahjong out of the five times we've played. I'm enjoying the challenge of learning something new. ©

49 comments:

  1. Learning something new can be Fun, I have an Antique Mahjong Set, the Game Pieces are so Beautiful, aren't they? Our Fire Dept. is close by too and I like it since response times in the City could be longer if the Station were further from your Home and traffic were heavy. When we lived Rural in Subdivision Hell, they only had Rural Metro, extorted Money every Month for Service, and only had one Ambulance and Fire Truck to serve thousands of Homes, so if you were Caller No. 2, take a number and wait I guess? I'd not want to be the CEO of a CCC since I'd know having a lot of mostly affluent elderly people to keep happy would be a tall order. I find it quite interesting that in poor communities there is far less complaining when they have ever so much more to complain about and don't.

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    1. The only poorer version of where I'm living that I've have inside knowledge of got their fair share of complaining (one my husband's mother was in for 7 years). But the complaints were of a different nature more along the lines of trying to improve conditions for heath and welfare.

      My mom died in part because of the ambulance service in a rural area. It actually caught on fire on the way to the hospital and they had to call another one---took an 1 1/2 hour for a 1/2 trip and she died 10 minutes after getting there. The hospital told us to sue the ambulance company and that they could have saved her if they'd had more time to work on her. Come to find out it wasn't the first time that ambulance had caused delays.

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    2. I was so saddened to hear of why your Mom died, due to time delays in Emergency Response. That was a huge consideration when we were choosing a Forever Home, Response time and proximity to Emergency Services/Hospitals/well everything! *LOL* Yes, the Poor usually are trying to find Solutions to REAL Problems within the Communities they reside in, so any Complaints are usually coupled with Activism from whoever leads the Cause, since, mostly The System in place for the less privileged could care less about them and they know it... so their Change has to be activated from within.

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    3. It's all about money. Who has it and who controls it the communities.

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  2. Jean, I'm glad to hear that the fire department is so close to you--also, that you nearly have your own hydrant, lol. We take a lot for granted until we need help. Ever since I was taken by ambulance for emergency surgery, I can't praise those workers enough. It was over an hour ride, and they kept me comfortable and their kindness was amazing.

    Some of the residents of the ccc sound like they feel they're entitled. It's irritating. I mean, they must have known the rules when they bought into the place. Some folks really enjoy pushing the limits, though. Like the guy feeding the birds. I love birds, but we know a man who had a bird fly overhead, do it's thing, and he ended up with it dripping into one of his eyes. He has nearly lost sight in that eye. I'm sure it doesn't happen too often, but I sure don't want to be the person whose sight is at stake!

    It's always fun to read what's going on, Jean!

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    1. I learned my lesson with feeding birds off my deck. Come winter the mice moved in and it took moving the feeders out away from the house to stop that chain of events from happening again and again. I'm on the ground floor here so having birdseed falling close by my apartment doors and foundation is not something I'd welcome. I miss my wind chimes, too, but I do understand that not everyone likes them. We accept rules for the greater good, don't we, even if we don't agree with them.

      But to answer your question, most of us DIDN'T know the rules when we bought into this place because it was a big open space with no buildings and just a plan on the wall of an office building. We didn't get a book of rules until we moved in because they hadn't been written. The only rules they advertised before then was no guns and no smoking.

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    2. Oh gosh, I never thought about mice eating the birdseed. I see lots of squirrels eating it. No way do we need to deal with mice!! I was really surprised that there weren't rules in place before you all signed on. That is very interesting!

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    3. The first time I connected the bird feeders to mice in my basement I found a stash of sunflower seeds stored in a box in my basement. Then I read up on placing birdfeeders and learned that have to be x-number of feet away from a house to keep mice from moving in come fall. After moving mine, and trapping the food hoarder I didn't have any signs of mice again.

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  3. What are praise dogs? I thought I was up-to-date on your posts, but I missed that.

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    1. LoL A Praise Dog is a misspelled Prairie Dog from my May 10th post.

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  4. The people watching at your new abode sounds next level! Common sense is very uncommon, I have found. Not everyone can think ahead to the “what-ifs”, it seems. There are a lot of older people on this island and sometimes they do indeed have a real sense of entitlement - the rules (even the rules of the road) do not apply to them anymore. I hope I never get that way…but hell, I think in some respects I have ALWAYS been that way…I mean, I obey traffic rules for sure…but I am a more “spirit of the law” than “letter of the law” person in most things in life. Oh dear…

    Deb

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    1. I've always been a rule follower due to fear of mom when I was a kid and because in college I got an over-dose of Plato's Republic and believe in rules for the greater good.

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  5. Forgot you had a fire station that close.That's a good thing! And an interesting rule that they come whenever a smoke alarm is activated. Probably a good rule, though. When I was young and pregnant with my third, I had an elderly neighbor living alone and she needed to be in assisted living. I used to go next door and help her get dressed in the morning when she called me because she could no longer fasten her tight girdle over her adult diaper (true story). She melted her teapot onto her electric burner one day, and still her family didn't react. When I told her I was going into the hospital to have the baby in a couple weeks, she asked if she could come with me. At that point, I called her family and told them point blank she needed care and I was about to have my hands too full to help anymore. It's a miracle she didn't burn her house down before they finally moved her to assisted living. (In fairness, her husband and only child had died, and her caretakers were her former son-in-law and his new wife, who had their hands full with their own lives.)

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    1. I don't really know it all apartment places have their smoke detectors directly wired into the fire departments or just our, but I suspect the former. The year we were building our house we moved into large apartment on the south side and in that year the fire department was there 4-5 times, three of them from a cat knocking over candles. God, I hate cats and candles mixed together. I wish we had a no candles rule here.

      You were a good neighbor!

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    2. My aunt lives in a ccc and they have a "no candle" rule. She was ticked when the maintenance man reported her for her very realistic battery operated candles.

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    3. I can see how that can happen. Some of them really look real.

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  6. One has to have an easy-going nature to do well in a group environment like that I think. You mix and mingle but take time for yourself. Sounds like a good balance.

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    1. I can see where those who mingle more than I do are actually making good friends and that's paying off in terms of helping each other out---picking stuff up at the store, offering rides, etc.

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  7. Just thank your lucky stars that you don't have to put up with what happens around here occasionally: some kid takes a dare, or gets bored, or just for kicks and giggles pulls one of our building's fire alarms, and away we go. Noise, neighbors chatting it up in bathrobes in the middle of the night, and dogs howling at the sound of the alarms until the fire department shows up and settles everything down. On the other hand, if you have external "pull this in case of fire" alarms, your day may be coming!

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    1. We do have those "pull this in case of fire.." alarms in the halls but you need a key fob to get into the halls and no kids live here. We had a fire drill at 7 AM once so I know exactly what that looks like. Not fun at all.

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  8. I think at some point within the next five years I will be selling this house and moving to a place here in Western MA. similar to where you are living.
    Reading your posts about daily life in a community such as this has given me a great deal to think about. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I would imagine they all will have similar management issues and social activities available. People being people, I don't think we're inventing the wheel here. Five years is an ideal time frame to start investigating the options and costs in your area. Go on their tours, ask questions about things you care about. It also gives you a good idea of how much you'll need to downsize when you see the square footage of places like this. I knew 2 years before moving what my floorplan would be so I could downsize accordingly.

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  9. I'm thrilled to hear that you've won twice at mahjong. Once you understand the basics of learning the tiles, suits and which dragons go with which suits, it's easier to choose-and-play hands from the card! The game is a challenge to the brain, and it's just you against the other players. Much better than bridge!! Kudos to you for sticking with it. Any men players?

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    1. No men so far. We have a core of three of us who haven't missed a single lesson/game and four others who are hit and miss. It's really more fun when those of us who are catching on play together than when a newbie shows up. We're hoping to build up to having two tables of regular players. I think that's possible.

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  10. I love your adventures and stories. I think you really should write a book! You have it partly done already. It's comforting having a fire department close at hand. Pity about the birds but the rule makes sense when you think about those sitting beneath!

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    1. All the rules make sense, even the ones I don't like. LoL

      I would never try to write more than a few blog posts about this place. I could hurt too many feelings and more importantly a book needs a plot and there is none here.

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  11. Kind of like that you have your own personal hydrant. Comforting.
    Well that is really an entertaining place you live in and as long as you can look at it as entertaining, blog fodder and not get caught up, it sounds fun. Think you have found a good balance. Keep those stories comeing.

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    1. I've been trying to cut back on the stories I share... at least be more careful in the telling so if I am caught the people I write about are less identifiable. I was able to write about the senior hall for several years with no one discovering me and there I was always jotting down notes.

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  12. šŸ˜ŠšŸ‘

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  13. Your CCC has thought of almost everything! Smoke alarms tied directly tied from home to Fire Station. And isn't there always ONE household that gets something special (outdoor grill that is not very convenient for anyone else). Our place still runs at the whim of the longest serving Board member ... our guest suite can be rented for up to a week .... unless you are friends of hers and then you can get three FREE weeks .....

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    1. I don't really know this for sure but I'm guessing that the smoke alarms that tie into the fire station are part of the building codes for multi-dwelling and hotels.

      We don't have a guest suite. I've looked at places that did but I guess they decided we have plenty of hotels close by and don't need it. There are only two apartments that have easy access to the grill. Ohers have to walk through our main lobby to get to it plus down their hall and maybe use the elevator. I will give them credit for using it often but it still isn't right.

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  14. "Learn to use apps and email daily because life in places like this is peachy-keen if you do." Made me smile with that line. As someone who want to live a peachy-keen life wherever I may find myself, your advice is sound and inspirational.

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  15. Each time I read your blog, I'm amazed at how much is happening in your life. Or maybe you're just observant.

    I'm not a bird watcher in the formal sense, but I love watching birds. Unfortunately they're messy eaters. The food they spill from a bird feeder attracts rats in our neighborhood. People are careful with their garbage, but we have a small creek and a little woods around it. I think we have roof rats not Norway rats. Roof rats make their nests in not only in trees but also in attics. I had some under my roof in the insulation. They're gone now, but I don't want to replace the insulation again.

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    1. Not all that much happening in my life. I've just gotten good at filling half a blog post with a ten minute conversation. And paying attention to details when I know I'm going to write about something later.

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  16. I didn't realize, when I moved into a newer house, that all the smoke alarms are wired together so all 5 go off if one goes off. That happened 4 times before I figured out it was happening because of the dander my African Grey parrot sheds. Also didn't know how to find the originating alarm to shut them off and had to endure an hour of the alarms going off, with all the doors and windows open each time so I took down the smoke alarms I can reach and put up one battery operated at the end of my hall. It's never woken me in a panic in the middle of the night and is far enough away from the bird to go off.
    Guess who learned to imitate the smoke alarm sound?

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    1. I used to have that kind in my old house and I hated them. I finally had them removed and put in single ones in their place with 10 year batteries in them. I hated changing batteries in smoke alarms. In some areas I heard it was illegal to do what I did.

      A parrot alarm? I hope he/she doesn't "go off" at will.

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    2. I wonder if it's fire code now. Our new house has all the smoke alarms hard wired together. It went off once -- from a candle that started smoking a bit. I had no idea why they went off, but the automated voice saying, "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!" about stopped my heart. I ran all over the house before I figured out it was the candle. Now I'm a big fan of the battery operated version and have found some that look very realistic.

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    3. Okay, I just looked up the fire code for MI and the smoke detectors do have to be physically interconnected unless "wireless alarms are installed and all alarms sound upon activation of 1 alarm." I'll bet the set of alarms I bought would do that. I doubt the big box stores could sell an illegal set of alarms. I changed them because every year I'd have to hire someone to change the batteries and if I didn't they all beeped until they were all changed. I was in year 6 of my 10 year batteries and I left that date and the box insert with the new owners.

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  17. You've got successfully living in LTC down pat. Love the observation you've made of the once-in-charge high-powered folks now having to deal with their ilk there. Must be interesting. Good for you apparently having mastered Mahjong. Is there something more that's new to you there in which you're interested? Remember, important to undertake new things to stimulate those brain cells, otherwise you're just causing those once new ones you've created to get better.

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    1. I don't think I'll ever really master Mahjong but I've been lucky in my tile draws...last time I played I got 5 of the 8 jokers. Another time I was able to put together one of the highest value lines on the score cards...all consecutive pairs in the same suit which our instructor said is extremely rare to see and that time I was forced to discard 3 jokers I couldn't use with pairs.

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    2. Wonder if Euchre is still a popular game around that part of the country as it was in Ohio?

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    3. Someone brought that game up recently. So far I have not seen it on the schedule but they play bridge several times a week.

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  18. So she put a roast on the stove not a crock pot and left the house? OMG. If sense were really common more people would have it my husband says! I agree.

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    1. Yup, that's exactly what she did---on top of the stove. We had another fire truck here today for a fire call, haven't heard yet what caused the smoke alarm this time.

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  19. If there is a good reason for the rule (the birds pooping), I'm all about following it. My HOA has some pretty wonky regulations though and I don't always follow them. I don't keep my front lawn green in the summer for example. The fire department must get quite a work out! I find it's a tricky balance between accepting situations and advocating for changes. I feel like I accept too much and don't fight hard enough.

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    1. As far as I'm concerned there aren't any rules in our booklet that aren't reasonable. The one about no guns and no birdfeeders are the only ones I've heard push back on. We're supposed to be a smoke-free campus but I've heard there is a rule breaker on that one but everyone is looking the other way.

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    2. I always feel like I'm right there beside you when you describe the daily goings-on at the CCC. I'm so glad you found that place and seem to be settled in contentedly observing....and blogging!

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