Harper Valley H.O.A.

Divorced, with an empty nest and a restless soul, in 2008 i bought a condominium in God’s Waiting Room*. A lovely home, two car garage with a deck and a lower patio, with landscaping, lawn mowing, and snow shoveling included. Use of a pool, tennis courts, shuffleboard, and clubhouse!

The price for this convenience is a monthly fee, paid to a Home Owners Association (H.O.A.) – led by residents serving on a board of directors.

Last August i rented the clubhouse to host the summer picnic for my former work colleagues and their families. Paid my $25, and wrote a check for another $25 as a security deposit, filled out paperwork, and set to organizing a party for about 50 people.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, we hired a caterer and everyone in attendance had a chance to eat, relax, swim, and play outdoor games.

About a week later i received a letter in the mail from the H.O.A. “You have violated the occupancy of the clubhouse, and you let your guests use the pool, pool deck, lawn area, and tennis courts, which is not included in the clubhouse rental.”  The letter went on to state that as punishment, i would be fined $200, forbidden from using the clubhouse for 18 months, and that my security deposit would be withheld.

i. was. livid.

i requested a hearing. i had never seen anything limiting the number of guests at an event. i’d hosted my own 50th birthday party there, and easily had as many people there! A $200 fine for throwing a party? A party that lasted from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm on a Thursday afternoon?

Between my travel schedule, and that of the board, it took us a few months to get the hearing scheduled. i used the time to dig into rules, regulations, declarations, and as much information as i could. i prepared detailed notes, with a list of questions for the H.O.A. board.

i became quite familiar with the minutia of the rules and regulations. As i walked the dog every day, i documented several dozen violations – even catching one board member leaving his car parked at the clubhouse overnight without the required resident ID on the dashboard!

Last week it was finally time for the hearing – three months later i was still choking back anger. Studley came with me as my paralegal, with the job of taking notes and preventing me from getting stabby. i only had 15 minutes and didn’t want to waste it throwing punches.

Six men. One is a known rational, thoughtful, “pick up the phone, or stop by to chat” man. One is a retired military officer, with a haircut you can set your watch to, and is a stickler for abiding by rules. Another i know through our dogs – he has an elder doggo, and Mr. Pickles used to steal her toys on doggie splash day – nice enough man, but probably pushing 80 years old. The other three? Unknowns.

The H.O.A. chairman informed me of the rules of the hearing. A large man, with a Big Booming Voice, i immediately disliked him. “You have fifteen minutes to have your say. We may have things to say, too. We may ask questions, you may ask questions. After the hearing, we will make a decision in executive session, and you will be informed of our findings.”

“Got it. Thanks.” My standard “pinch off” line.

My first question was a genuine mystery. “i’ve looked through the regs, looked on the walls, searched records, but i can’t find the actual occupancy limit for this building. What IS the limit for the clubhouse?”

They squirmed a little. One of the Unknowns said “That is something we’re trying to lock down. It seems neither the Fire Department and the City have that information on file…”

My. Jaw. Unhinged.

i looked at H.O.A. Chairman and the Rules and Regs guy. “Let me make sure i understand this – you’ve charged me with violating an occupancy limit that doesn’t exist? Did i hear that right?”

More squirming. More discomfort. Once again, i said “Got it. Thanks.” and rolled into the next questions. i had been prepared to provide documentation on the actual number of people attending, but that clearly wasn’t going to be necessary.

For the next 10 minutes or so, i poked holes in their position. “In your own list of rules, dated October, 2015, you state that the H.O.A. board has the option to levy fines for violations of the rules, up to $50 per infraction. Why am i being fined $200?”

Rules and Regs: “That’s for each violation – you had people using the pool, pool deck, tennis courts and lawn area.”

“Got it. Thanks. [eyeroll] You also withheld my deposit of $25. That deposit was for the stated purpose (in your own regulations) of covering any damages, or cleaning deficiencies. There was no mention in your letter that i failed to clean, or left damages, so this is clearly punitive – amounting to an additional $25 fine.”

H.O.A. Board – [crickets, fumbling with notes]

So you state that clubhouse reservation doesn’t allow guests to use the pool, deck, etc. – but as a resident, i’m allowed to bring as many guests to the pool so long as i’m with them? i was with my guests all afternoon Isn’t that inconsistent?”

Rules and Regs: “We’re in the process of updating some of our rules and regulations…”

daisyfae: “Obviously.  That’s all i have. Thanks for your time.”

The rational board member gave me a grin and a wink and said “Daisyfae, now that you’re retired, i wish you’d consider joining the board!”

“Sugar, i’m not around much these days…”, smiled back at him, and put away my notes, while choking back a gigantic pile of rage.

i didn’t think it was possible for me to leave that hearing even angrier than i was when i walked in the door! What a bunch of incompetent bullies! Studley had to talk me off the ledge. i slept poorly, thinking that when those turdbags came back with their findings, i was going to contact my attorney and crunch more cherries!

By noon the next day, i received an email:

The Board appreciated your appearance at the hearing on November 27th, 2017. 

You made a strong case in pointing out the ambiguities currently present in the rules and regulations concerning rental of the clubhouse and usage of the pool.

Because of that the Board has decided to rescind all the penalties that were placed upon you and to refund your $25.00 deposit or I can simply credit your account $25.00. 

Although relieved, the anger hasn’t subsided much. If i weren’t going to be gone so much? i almost want to run for the board. Even if you can beat ’em, sometimes you should still join ’em.

Harper Valley PTA
* Not the actual name of the development, but as christened by The Boy. i am one of the younger residents – demographic of “Active Senior Citizens”, but with many not-so-active. Lately, we’ve had a run of younger people move in, and even a few with small children. Impact of this change in demographic? Probably just means more fecal matter in the community pool…

Squashin’ the bugs…

A funny story from the road…

Traveling this week. Conferencing, to be specific. That means a seemingly endless number of side meetings, while attempting to get my science on. i was invited to a lunch meeting on the top floor of the conference hotel, in Monterey, California.

It was me, with six men… i work in Sausage Land, also known as the Technology Sector, and am often the sole female at the table. With amazing views from the balcony, i suggested we lunch on the patio – but one of the men, James, (vice president of some sort) said “I need to avoid the sun”, so i went out to move the large, stone-topped table so there would be sufficient shade.

the motherfucking view

Mark (CEO of an organization i work with, and James’ boss) said “Hey, we’ve got menfolk. Don’t hurt yourself” as i went to lift it. Dan (another attendee) and i, kept going. Others joined to help. i lifted my end of the table, but they thought the table was bolted to the patio and gave up. Dan and i kept going, and within another minute, un-wedged the table and got it moved to provide shade.

i walked back into the suite and told the others we fixed the table, and could lunch outside, while taking in the incredible view. James thanked me and i said “Mark means well, bless his heart…. but i can probably bench press more than he can!” which got a HUGE laugh! i told James “Be sure to tell Mark i said that…” and we proceeded to have lunch.

squash all the bugs

There’s more than one way to squash a well-intentioned, yet patriarchal bug…


Given the choice, i would not collect turds in a plastic bag.  But i do this twice a day. i own a dog, and live in an area with shared green space.  There is no choice.

It came as quite a shock last week to receive a letter from Ms. Butkus, the managing agent for my condominium association, stating that a written complaint had been received regarding my diligence in turd recovery.  After a brief phone call to Ms. Butkus, i learned that my dog was also accused of shitting in the street.  Furthermore, the letter stated that the offended neighbor collected the street turds on my behalf, and was further offended when i refused to accept them.

Looking back, i had almost predicted this scenario back in 2009 as Mr. Pickles and i got settled into our new home.  Needless to say, i was somewhere between royally pissed off and amused when the shit hit the mailbox last week.  Ms. Butkus recommended that i provide a written rebuttal.  i was delighted to comply.


Dear Ms. Butkus,

On September 18th, I received your letter regarding an alleged violation of the God’s Waiting Room Condominium Association (GWRCA) rules.  In that letter, you stated the following:

It has been reported that you do not always leash your dog and are not picking up after it. Please note the association rules state that dogs must be on a leash and the owner must immediately clean up after it.  Thank you for your attention to this.

During our conversation today, you provided additional detail regarding an alleged incident on August 4, 2013. I am writing to formally refute this allegation.  Not only was my dog not running loose that day, I did not participate in a rude exchange with a neighbor regarding a bag of feces.  I wish to enter the following four items into the official record:

1) My dog, Mr. Pickles, has a mental deficit.  At my previous residence, he learned to tunnel under the fence in the yard.  While in the streets he demonstrated no concern for his own safety.  As this was a significant hazard for an impaired animal without “street smarts”, I have ALWAYS kept him leashed since joining the God’s Waiting Room community in August, 2008.  Whether it is for a longer walk, or a brief ‘mercy break’ late in the evening, I consider it unsafe to allow him outside under any circumstances without a leash.  If accused of allowing my dog to roam unleashed, perhaps the complainant should provide a description of the free-range dog in question.

2) I walk Mr. Pickles twice each day (7:30 am and 4:30 pm).  I immediately collect his feces in plastic bags, as required by the GWRCA regulations.  The bags are knotted, and stowed in a sanitary trash bin in my garage, until Sunday night when the trash bin is emptied, and these bags are placed in the dumpster and taken to the curb.  On Sunday evenings, there are at least 14 such bags in my trash bin.  If there is a need to provide proof that I am diligently cleaning up his feces, I would be delighted to allow any concerned neighbors to view the weekly collection.  It is quite impressive.

3) On our walks, I see dog droppings along the street – Mr. Pickles is rather adept at finding them for me!  He is a Chocolate Lab, weighing approximately 90 pounds.  His feces scale accordingly.  The roadside feces piles we find are quite small.  Although I am not a zoologist, veterinarian or trained professional, I suspect that the dogs that leave these are substantially smaller than my dog.

4) As further indication of Mr. Pickles’ mental deficit, he has the habit of walking in a counter-clockwise spiral as he evacuates his digestive tract.  This results in a unique fecal signature.  Rather than resort to more elaborate means of testing, such as the “DNA PooPrint” recently in the news, it would be quite simple for a concerned neighbor to capture photographic evidence of my alleged disregard for GWRCA regulations.

I enjoy living in God’s Waiting Room, and try to be a good neighbor.  I am insulted and disturbed that another resident has indicted my behavior without due diligence, thus bringing my integrity into question.

In the United States, a citizen is innocent until proven guilty.  This must certainly hold true for the residents of God’s Waiting Room – yet anyone can report a neighbor for the mere suspicion of performing unauthorized landscaping, harboring illegal tenants, running a brothel, or operating a meth lab without documentation?   I respectfully request that if there are additional reports that I have violated GWRCA regulations, the individual reporting said violation should be required to provide some form of proof – as a minimum, a description of my dog.  In the age of ubiquitous cell phone cameras, even a clandestine photo of the alleged violation wouldn’t be unreasonable.

Thank you for allowing the opportunity to refute these accusations.  At no time on August 4, 2013 did my dog run in the street.  At no time on August 4, 2013 did my dog defecate in the street.  At no time on August 4 , 2013 did I refuse to accept a bag of dog feces offered to me by a neighbor.  In closing, I paraphrase the words of the late Johnny Cochran, Esq.  “If the poo doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” 


Daisyfae Harper


$5, 5 Years, and 5,000 Miles

Lavender tassels graced the handlebars of my ancient Trek hybrid bicycle for the last five years.  Studley picked them up on a whim, and presented them to me as part of a birthday present, thinking they would be a fine addition to my goofy-assed ride.

And they were perfect.  A reminder that it is dangerous to take oneself too seriously.  For me, and those i have encountered as i become increasingly visible as a cycling advocate in my little corner of Earth.

Conversation starters at monthly community rides, those cheap plastic streamers were my small means of making bicycling accessible to those who were intimidated by the spandex-clad racing crowd.

My constant cycling companions, the little purple streamers would sometimes wrap around my wrists when we’d encounter a tough headwind.  Caressing me, as if to say “There, there, darlin’… Every little thing, gonna be alright!”

me and my tassels

We had just finished a tasty breakfast at a favorite summer haunt, and were returning to the bike rack when i noticed something wrong.

daisyfae:  What the fuck?  Do you see it?

Studley:  What?

daisyfae:  Do you see it?  My bike?  DO YOU SEE IT?

Studley:  Yeah.  What?  The tassels…. SHIT!

daisyfae:  They’re gone!  Someone took them… SOMEONE STOLE MY TASSELS!

fuck you

Gone.  In the hour that it took for us to grab lunch, someone passing apparently decided that the tassels no longer belonged on my bicycle, and removed them.  Five dollars worth of plastic that simply could not be ignored.  Not the bike computer.  Not my crazy frame-based lighting peripherals. Not the tool kit in the trunk. My god damned tassels.

Over the course of the past five years, and five thousand miles, i have left that bike all over this fair city.  Chained to bike racks, in “bad” neighborhoods.  Attached to the car late at night.  The tassels have been ignored.  Until this day…

Seeing my de-tasseled bicycle, i was over-powered by a disproportionate degree of rage.  Who would do this?  Why would someone do this?  Would the thief love the tassels, or simply play with them for a moment and discard them?

Hitting the trail and heading home, i was overcome by tears and anger.  i gave into the beast and hammered the ride home…

Studley:  I know you’re pissed — go on, i’ll catch up at some point.  Besides, I’ve got the keys to the car!  You’ll have to wait!


Eventually i succumbed to the heat and exhaustion and slowed down.  Still angry, bewildered, and in no small way heartbroken.  Caught myself looking along the path for a glimpse of my beloved flair – possibly toyed with and discarded.

Allowing myself to be consumed by anger only for the ride home, i had decided that there would be new tassels.  i made plans for a stop at the discount store on my way out for the evening.

Howling with indignation as we completed the ride…

You can steal my tassels, but you shall NOT quench my whimsy, you thieving motherfucker!

Because i couldn’t slap him from 2,000 miles away…

A former protegé is back in town, after living overseas for a few years.  As he is getting re-acquainted with our small-town vibe, i’ve been inviting him along on my recent adventures – and he was at the masquerade ball last weekend.

He’s incredibly bright, but occasionally a bit… brash.  Last night, i was eating my favorite beverage, a fine Fin du Monde ale (9% abv) while suffering through watching the final presidential debate.  For some reason, my Bullshit Tolerance Factor was surprisingly low.

This exchange on the book of faces happened in nearly real-time… While my young ‘un was on a business trip to Colorado…

G-Man:  It’s nice to be back in a state with thin/fit people.

daisyfae:  Screw you!  Us midwestern “Fluffies” are just full of candy corn and peanuts this time of year…

G-Man: LOL

daisyfae: Oh, and “Screw You**2” — this 50-year-old fat chick out-danced you Saturday night.  Word.

G-Man:  How are you fat?

daisyfae:  Makin’ with the sweet-talkin’ now?  i drink my weight in Jack Daniels and can eat my way through a Hibachi Buffet leaving a trail of flaming chopsticks…  THAT’S how i’m fat…

G-Man:  I was referring to this map…Relax.

daisyfae:  You can’t grow corn or raise pigs on a mountain.  Those scrawny-ass Coloradians need Doritos and bacon!

G-Man:  Mmmm….Doritos and bacon. ::drool::

There Are No Answers – Again…

Well… i guess i’m not quite done with this blog thing quite yet. Seems i still have a few things i need to say. And tonight’s message?

Don’t kill yourself, ok? Seriously. Don’t do this.

This is like walking out during the first five minutes of a shit movie. You know it won’t last. There’s always the slightest glimmer of hope that it might get better.  Or at least you’ll be able to entertain your friends by telling them about the shittiest movie you’ve ever seen….

There are no answers when a young man decides to check out.  Whether he’s 16 or 37.  The common thread, at least from my point of view on this particular night, is the herd of numb, bewildered and heartbroken humans… Shocked.  Angry.  Confused.  Comforting each other as best they can…

Scotch and kleenex.

i am an extrovert, and have an extensive collection of friends and acquaintances.  i never meet a stranger.  Truth is, i have very few close friends.  Last week, i would have put that number at seven.

Today?  Six.


Pool Snark

Local temperature:  hotterthanfuckinghell for the past few days.  i’d managed to ditch work, and get poolside by 4pm.  Silence.  Between baking in the heat, and dipping in the cool, chlorinated water, i was enjoying a fine decompression cycle.

Fifteen minutes into my human laundry operation, i heard a gaggle* of boyz descending upon the communal facility.  Five of them, ranging in age from about eight to twelve years old.  Equipped with squirt guns, they barreled through the gate, and dive-bombed the water as i was relaxing on a lounge chair…

Their mother/keeper and a friend settled in a few minutes later on their chairs, a few yards away from me.  As the boisterous boyz played a noisy game of “Capture, Drown and Torture”, their mom said “Watch out that you don’t get other people wet with those, okay?”

i was the only ‘other people’ there, so i appreciated that she was attempting to manage the chaos.

Within minutes, however, it was clear she was going to SUCK at managing the chaos.

Running on the concrete, taking one of the metal pipes apart, and very nearly drowning the youngest.  “Don’t squirt water in his face!  You hear me?”  They were having a blast on a hot day.  “I said you need to stop running, okay?”  The noise didn’t bother me, as they were having fun.

It was when i got hosed with the squirt gun unexpectedly that i started to get a bit miffed.

Mom:  Boys!  Be careful with those!  And stop running!  [to me] Sorry!

i waved it off.  Went back to dunk in the pool again to re-soak my body and swimsuit.  As i walked down the steps into the pool, one of the kids ran past Mom (who was now back to yakking with her friend), and then cannonballed himself into the pool nearly on top of me.

Mom hollered some more ineffective parental-sounding statements, and the boyz went back to their chaotic play.

It wasn’t the noise, or even the splashing, that finally got me to leave.  It was having to listen to one of those milque-toasty, door-matty, victim-moms pretending to be an adult, while a herd of kids run her over like a sailcat on hot asphalt.

Started to pack up my gear.  Put the towel around my waist, slipped on my sandals and headed toward the gate.

Mom:  Sorry they’re so loud!

daisyfae [cheerfully]:  Well, being sorry and actually doing something about it are apparently two different things!  But hey, enjoy the rest of your day!

pic found here, along with a nicely written post on wimpy-ass parenting.


* What’s the collective noun for a group of boyz?  In this case, i’d have to go with “A Feral of Boyz”.  For crunchy, middle-aged broads like me?  Pretty sure it’s a “Snark”…

Check your ovaries at the door…

There have been many moments when i question whether i earn my paycheck.

This has NOT been that week.  But as ugly as it is for me to fire someone, it is far uglier for the guy i am firing.  So i will not whine.

Trying to salvage the human, as well as the work effort, in a difficult situation, i was at a table with four scientists.  Brainstorming options.  Ivan, my senior physicist who was born, raised and trained in Russia, is rather emotionally engaged in the issue at hand.  The success of his project is tied to our efforts to keep his post-doctoral research assistant engaged on the job.

As the Management-Like-Object at the table, i threw out a very blunt, painful, and realistic assessment of our options.  Explaining that this is not an ideal circumstance.  Explaining that it was going to smell.  Explaining that we were going to have to “Nut up or shut up” to make it happen.

Ivan:  Look.  We are all on the same page.  There are no women at this table…

To my left was Taylor.  He is my “young ‘un”.  Masters degree in Physics, and new to the team.  Oh, and he happens to be an ethnic minority in the field of science and engineering… And we’ve had several discussions regarding achieving “equality” – through the insidious tactic of “infiltrate and excel”.

i felt him flinch at Ivan’s comment.

daisyfae:  Yes.  We are on the same page.  And thank you for your comment.  If i’ve checked my ovaries at the door then i have succeeded.  Gender irrelevance is the goal… Now…  Back to the post doc position….

With the current state of affairs in the United States where conservative lawmakers are crawling inside the vaginas * of citizens, it was extraordinarily refreshing to experience a moment of gender-neutrailty.  And we moved on…

Gender.  When it matters?  i know it.

Unfortunately, that is not universal.  There are elected officials in the United States of America who believe that it is their responsibility to inspect our uteruses to make sure that we can make informed decisions about our reproductive health care.


Black Fried-day

The biggest shopping day of the year.  Called “Black Friday” because it isn’t until late November that most retail businesses are profitable for the year – go “into the Black”.

Incessant chatter leads up to the big day – bargains here, bargains there!  Don’t miss it!  Even the “news media” pushes this – noting the hype, and how retailers are pulling out all the stops to garner our precious cash!  But at the same time, they spew newsphlegm about how important it is for us consumers to get out there and spend money to save our decrepit economy.

Shopping is Patriotic!

Not to say that i don’t have my weaknesses* when it comes to “stuff”.  Nor would i say that i go out of my way to spend more on things than i need to by waiting until they are not on sale…But the corporate-fueled feeding frenzy that is “Black Friday” is just a big steaming pile of rancid horseshit.

Spending money you don’t have on shit you don’t need.  America – FUCK YEAH!

Christmas shopping?  i used to do this.  i spent an astonishing amount of time putting together happy little gift baskets for all of the admin folks at work.  Curly ribbons to tie up sparkly cellophane wrapped baskets.  Smelly lotions and potions, gift cards to their favorite stores.  Homemade cookies and treats.  Candles.  Cutesy little gift items and whatnots.

Same for teachers.  For friends.  Family.

i enjoyed showing appreciation.  Trying to find something that was ‘just right’ for so-and-so.  Something to bring a smile.  Something useful.  Took some degree of pride in the selection of gifts, as well as wrapping them – pretty and frilly and sparkly.

Over the past few years, something in my brain snapped.  i just stopped doing it.  i still bought gifts for my kids.  A gift for my mom.  If i got a baking bug up my ass**, i’d spend some time in the kitchen making biscotti and sharing with friends.  But i flat out quit partaking of the crass consumerist buffet of the holiday season.

And you know what happened?

No one fucking cares.  No one misses it.  No one has suffered because i didn’t buy that bacon-scented gnome candle and wrap it in a festive bag.  i have lost exactly ZERO friends because i stopped giving Christmas presents.  i have been abandoned by exactly ZERO members of my family*** since i gave this shit up.

Remarkably, my degree of stress during the holidays bottomed out.  i have fuzzy memories of staying up late at night in Decembers past, trying to “get it all done”.  Making list after list of things to do.  Things to buy.  Cookies to bake.  Gifts to wrap.

i now spend that time sleeping.  Farting around with friends.  Hanging out with my kids.  Drinking.  Watching movies.

And wondering why the fuck someone would stand in line for two days to save $200 on a giant-assed TV?

image found here

* Office supply stores and any place that sells camping or backpacking gear.  This shit is like crack to me…

** Treatable with pesticides.

*** Damn it…

Doctor, Doctor!

Patient:  Doctor, Doctor!  It hurts when I do this [raising arm]

Doctor:  Then don’t do that.

And on a completely unrelated note…

Please refrain from whining incessantly about troubles you bring upon yourself.  Not only does it make you look like an imbecile, but it annoys the fuck out of the rest of us…

The Only Consistent Feature of All of Your Dissatisfying Relationships is You

Thank you.

i’ll go back to the futile search for my estranged estrogen now….