Tag Archives: community

Watching the wheels turn, literally

I’m an unlikely fan, albeit a very casual one, of skateboarding. I’ve never been on a skateboard nor do I have any desire to be. But of the few people I follow on Facebook, Shaun White is one. He’s an obvious choice and frankly, I’m not sure I can name any other famous skateboarder other than Tony Hawk (I think that’s his name). I follow Shaun because he amazes the hell out of me; to stay so dominant for so long is quite a feat with so many youngin’s nipping at his wheels. He snowboards too. The funny thing about him is he kind of presents like a typical Californian – this is a guy who played “air guitar” on the podium one year while the National Anthem was being played at the Olympics – and yet he is clearly so driven and skilled. He posts unbelievable photos of himself in action – how is a human being doing that?! – and is funny and charismatic as well in his comments. (He also is the “Zelig” of the sports world; he seems to be everywhere and know everyone. I would not be surprised to see him in a photo op with the pope, doing “rabbit ears” over the man’s head.)

Back in high school I liked a guy who skateboarded. The skateboard was incidental. I just mention it because that’s really my only personal acquaintance with skateboarding in general. I don’t even remember watching him skateboard. I did know he was a member of the skateboarding club at school but I couldn’t even tell you what the guys in the club actually did. Did have they have competitions? Merely get together and try to learn new tricks? I couldn’t say. The main reason I remember that at all is because there was a photo in the high school yearbook of the club, where they were all holding their skateboards and one of the guys (not the guy I liked) was giving the finger to the camera (while smiling of course). I knew who that guy was and I’m sure it was deliberate. How the picture was allowed to be printed in the yearbook I don’t know. Here we go. It’s not the clearest but still.

IMG_20170605_145135_kindlephoto-2717710

Tasteful no?

My community built a skateboard park ten years ago. It’s a nice looking spread with a “low bowl” and a “deep bowl.” It attracts an assortment of people including little kids, tough looking guys, and even adults. They held a fancy skateboarding exhibition way back when it opened and I went. There were talented guys plus there was free pizza. That part I remember well. I’ve mentioned this before but I once read that if a cat jumps up on a counter and finds food by happenstance, it’ll jump up on the counter a hundred more times on the off-chance it finds food again. I can appreciate this. Although it’s ten years on, I remember getting free pizza.

The park stays in my mind for another event too. I don’t remember this event as well but it was another kind of exhibition and I stopped by. A woman I knew showed up and sat with me while we watched. Then a guy I also knew sat down on the other side of me. Although they may have previously exchanged a word that day, I introduced them properly. Well, next thing you know, they are kind of having a conversation “over” me; like he was asking her questions and such. It wasn’t quite like I wasn’t there but if I’d gotten up and left I don’t think anybody would have minded. I mention this because afterward they started dating and in time got married. The funny thing was I wasn’t match-making (not that I matchmake ever) and wouldn’t have put the two together. So what do I know?!

So this past weekend the park had an anniversary exhibition and free pizza was advertised yet again. Yay! I would have wanted to go anyway but a little extra incentive can’t hurt right? It was billed as a two hour event but apparently most of the show took place in the first hour so I didn’t see too much when I showed up at the second hour. The event wasn’t well attended and there was a lot of pizza so I got lunch out of it. It was delicious – I make my own pizza and very rarely eat any other because frankly mine is damned good and healthy to boot – but this was a novelty. I was so content. The weather was fine; I had food to eat and skateboarders to watch. Just the relaxation I needed.

I don’t watch football, basketball, or baseball but I sure like watching skateboarders. The wheels make an appealing whirring sound too which I’m not I sure I realized/or remembered. (Whereas the sound of kids slamming their boards up and down in a parking lot and bouncing off curbs – which they do here despite the park in spitting distance – is irritating.) Enjoying the skaters at the exhibition I was thinking how much of the sport is in the knees; lordy they must take such a pounding.

A woman passed by me with her young granddaughter who was asking about the skaters and how you could get like that. The grandmother responded, “Practice, practice, practice.” I didn’t say it out loud but I thought, “Or you can eat pizza and watch.”

Advertisements

Karma?

This story is interesting. One to puzzle over. I have no direct involvement in the situation – I’m just one of the (semi) outside, curious observers.

In my community, someone who was fairly well known was accused of a theft, an ongoing theft actually. The accusations were documented, not off-the-cuff or with no evidence. In fact there was video footage. I did not see the footage – nor was there any reason I would – but a number of people saw it and all who did agreed on what was on it. I know some of those individuals and have no reason to doubt what they reported. If they say they saw a theft on the footage, multiple thefts, I believe them.

Curiously, despite the evidence and the “eye witnesses” many people doubted that a theft occurred, and yet another contingent essentially said, well if it DID happen, it was justified. That fascinated me. The person at the center was a somewhat controversial figure to start with – the opinions held about this individual were mixed. This person wasn’t universally loved prior to the theft accusation. That’s important to mention because the incident seemed to serve to further polarize people in their views; many used the situation to justify opinions they already held. Perhaps some changed their thoughts, but most of those talking publicly – online – stuck to their guns be it for or against.

Although the police were consulted and their advice taken in gathering evidence, the central players decided not to take legal action but essentially to cut ties: Let’s just go our separate ways, we’ll all move on and this will be over.

That might have been the end of it but for a new weird twist. The person accused of the theft won a bunch of money, a substantial amount. Oh my gracious. Now some people were saying this event was karma. The win was taken as EVIDENCE of something. The person accused of the theft had been badly treated, they thought, by being accused and cast out, so in their minds the universe was righting a wrong. (No doubt others were thinking, “Great, now they can pay back the money! The thought certainly crossed my mind.)

I found this all very strange. I mean on the one hand, stealing is an act, a choice someone makes (independent of what their reasons are and/or whether or not anybody else might find them valid or excusable in some fashion). Winning money on the other hand, is random. However, because the two events happened so close together, a group of people were inclined to find them related even when there was no evidence one had anything to do with the other. I wonder how much time between the two events would have to have passed to make them unrelated in most people’s minds? 6 months? A year? 5 years?

And – too often people apply the theory of karma only when it suits them. But it seems to me if you’re going to believe in karma you’d have to apply it more universally (and even to bad things and EVEN to bad things that happen to you).

It isn’t that I don’t ever use the word karma or don’t think it is at work at times. But I can’t buy in wholesale. For example, innocent children get abused and sometimes killed by their guardians or parents; how on earth could karma be found there? (The child brought it on themselves somehow?? Their ancestors screwed up and this is karmic justice? No way.)

Yet another twist to this story has occurred. The person accused of the wrongdoing has gone into business, one which will be direct competition for the original group that decided to cut ties and not pursue legal action. I really don’t know what to think about this.  Very strange indeed.

Door to door to door

This past year I delivered a slightly-more-than-monthly newsletter in my community. I was asked to do it by the coordinator. It has what I believe would be referred to as nominal pay, or a stipend, or some other word that says “a little something for your trouble.” You don’t do this for the money. I didn’t realize it immediately but mine is the biggest route of the several that cover the area. After I took it on, it became more or less obvious why that particular route, with almost 200 houses, was up for grabs. It’s a bit of a task. A lot of walking and short steps to climb & descend at each home. And like the mail, it gets delivered independent of weather conditions. Snow, hot, cold, etcetera. You have to be in good shape or else it would take a lot longer to get the job done (or maybe you’d do it over the course of 2-3 days).

I never had a newspaper route or anything I consistently delivered as a child or later on in life. I’ve done the occasional one-time-only delivery of one thing or another; at least I think I have. Let’s say if I did, it was long ago. I never sold anything door-to-door. My mother wouldn’t have allowed it when I was a kid or teenager and I was disinclined to do anything like that for work, ever. Merely dropping off a newsletter is different. It’s supposed to be hung on the doorknob, inside the storm door if there is one. (I’ve noticed that not all the carriers follow that particular directive but I’m a goody-two shoes girl who follows instructions so I do.)

I now have NO IDEA how mail carriers can stand the tedium and repetitiveness of their work, let alone dealing with whatever weather conditions are afoot, quite literally at times. And I say this as someone assigned to delivery way, way, way less often. The bags they carry packed with annual reports, catalogues, and packages are heavy, unlike the slim newsletters I carry. It’s a good thing mail carriers earn a decent living. In recent years I’ve seen a few local mail carriers blabbing away on cell phones while they deliver the mail, no doubt to make the time pass quicker, but I can’t help but think they probably mess up their deliveries more often when they are distracted like that.

I started when Christmas lights and decorations were still up from 2014 and that was nice, getting to see what people had done in their yards or to spruce up their doors. It was festive and I like festive.

Typically delivering during the day, I don’t often run into people which is fine because I’m making tracks, baby. No time to dawdle. Certain things struck me. Since I think photos would be an invasion of privacy, I’ll do my best to describe a few of the notables.

I love the house with the gunmetal/silver oval shaped doorknob. Oval! I just had never seen such a thing. I thought door knobs had to be round. Oval seems fanciful. I dunno, like something from Alice in Wonderland.

One house has rickety steps leading to a rickety tiny front porch that, peculiarly, has white interlocked tiles set on top of the wood planks, except that they’re not really interlocked and slide about. What the??? I can’t make heads or tails of this set-up. Are the tiles meant to cover up rotting wood? And exactly how would that help anyway? When it was winter and icy, I gingerly stepped up onto the porch, hoping not to plummet through or slide off. As I turned to leave, I took hold of the wood support beam at the corner of the porch to steady myself, only to find that it swung freely! It wasn’t attached to the porch at the base.

Dogs are naturally part of my delivery experience. At one house I thought the barking dogs sounded awfully loud as I approached. I had quite a surprise when I swung open the storm door and saw two livid, barking, growling dog heads thrusting out the main door. All the glass was missing from the window panes on the top half of the door so the dogs could stick their heads right through.

IMG_20151130_132528

They were not at all pleased to be receiving their newsletter. From one delivery to the next monthly one, I would forget little details about the route, but not this one, not this one. I didn’t open that door again. (“What’s behind Door Number 3? Let’s not find out!”) I am happy to say eventually the door was replaced with a solid one….

Handwritten notes appear on some doors. These are interesting. One advises NOT to ring the doorbell. I guess the dogs inside (which I hear/see) about lose their minds when the doorbell chimes. Another asks the mail carrier not to use the mail slot in the door as their dogs routinely chew up the mail. I bet that was a real treat to regularly come home to find bills, greeting cards, and checks shredded about the floor. Another homeowner substituted a box for mail while birds temporarily nested in their mailbox, with a sign posted to that effect. Yet another home’s note strongly insisted that workmen not enter when the resident is not present. I’m pleased to say that I can’t recall any particular fire-n-brimstone notes (I’m thinking of an old neighbor of my own who had a handwritten note on his door mentioning the four horsemen and the Apocalypse).

There is a real intimacy to coming so close to people’s homes. I am enchanted to visit the house that has all the pretty chimes hanging from its large front porch roof. It seems so friendly and inviting, although I do wonder if the neighbors love all those chimes the way I, effectively a passer-by, do.

I don’t like the white-painted “ghost bike” chained to the front fence of another house. If I was a neighbor, I would not like having to look at it every day either. Not sure what it accomplishes. Memorials to dead loved ones have their place but I don’t think that’s one of them, i.e., in your front yard, permanently.

A life-size dachshund statue with realistic eyes stands sentry at one house. I have to say the fellow gave me a start the first couple times we met but now I remember he’s there. My kind of dog. Quiet, mannerly.

P_20151130_132358

There weren’t that many vegetable gardens this past summer. Perhaps more of them were in the back yards where I wouldn’t have seen them, and then again, the many full grown trees are counter-productive to raising sun-loving vegetables. And if you work full-time and/or are raising a family, a vegetable garden probably seems like too much work/trouble. I thought about this because I live in a pro-nature community and would have expected to see more food-producing yards.

Since I’m swinging open storm doors if they are present, I often smell different things emanating from inside the houses. Sometimes it’s cooking scents. Occasionally they are delicious! Not always. Stale cigarette smoke greets me in a couple homes. Or pet aromas.

I startled both myself and homeowners on two occasions when I swung open the storm door expecting to hang my newsletter on the inner main door only to find that door was open and I was staring into the home at a resident! Ooops. Each time I apologized and hurriedly closed the storm door, leaving the newsletter on the outside.

A pet owner leaves their door open for the cat that I’ve seen leashed out front a few times. I scare it even when I don’t mean to and it runs fearfully back inside, dragging its rope leash behind it.

One house seems abandoned except I’m pretty sure I saw some people headed toward it once. It looks creepy, unkempt and overgrown on the outside and even odder, when I approach the front door, I can see clear through the house to the wooded area behind it because either there IS no back door or it’s been left wide open. Don’t wildlife tend to come inside when a door is left open for a long time?? I don’t know the story on this place but I’m sure there is one. If I ever turn up missing on my rounds, that’s the house that should be checked first.

I love, love, love “the breakfast nook.” This house has a small, three-sided addition on the front, with windows on all sides. In it is a round light-colored wood table and chairs. It’s adorable. I can so see myself sitting in there having coffee and reading the paper, perhaps having a chat with a friend, whiling away the morning. It’s just big enough for the table and chairs setup but the three sides of windows make it open and airy, not claustrophobic. I have never looked in and seen anyone in there (nor evidence of coffee cups or newspapers) but I like to imagine the scenario. Did whoever had it built have that in mind too?

One storm door is the old-fashioned, glass-slatted kind I associate with beach houses (which these are most certainly not). For that reason, I feel fondly toward it. It’s rare, among the standard, run-of-the-mill storm doors. I think this type has a crank which allows you to open or close the glass slats. (I’m not sure why they’d be a beach thing except perhaps glass is less inclined toward rotting in the salt air than is wood?)

Certain of the storm doors I encounter are locked and I make a game trying to remember which ones they are from one month to the next. One house I thought had a locked storm door doesn’t in fact; I just need to use a lot of strength to yank it open. I can’t help but think it must be very irritating to its owners, trying to wrestle into their own home every time they come home. Another home is missing a door knob on its storm door and in its place is a string to pull, which I gamely do.

A couple houses have so much crap piled up in front of their doors and along the walks leading to them that yet again I consider the poor mail carrier or other delivery people who have to wend their way through all this stuff to reach the mailbox or porch. The temptation to kick some of it must be great (or is that just me?!). I am nimble and have yet to knock over a clay pot or smash a figurine that’s blocking egress. But I want to ask the homeowners: What are you thinking? Why is all this crap out here? Can’t you move it so delivery people can get through?

P_20151130_132337

I don’t typically encounter homeowners but when I do they are usually friendly. Only one was kinda unpleasant, snarling about deliveries. And another let her unleashed growling dog block my way, even after I took pains to go around it. I did wonder about one fellow who, for a time seemed to almost be waiting for my monthly delivery, popping out of his house with a grinning hello like clockwork as I passed. I didn’t know him. I am friendly but keep moving. As I say, there is an intimacy to this delivery business but a respectful distance is in order too. I try not to look inside people’s homes for more than a glance. It seems too personal. Homes reveal a lot.

I’ve thought about how I feel when the shoe is on the other foot. I cannot stand any kind of door-to-door canvassing, politicking, selling, or proselytizing. I feel quite different about people delivering mail, packages, or information I’m expecting or want. If I happen to encounter said deliverers I say hello and thank you. There’s an awkwardness to unexpectedly meeting one another that a bit of friendliness can ease. Funnily enough though, I don’t feel all that awkward or imposing when I’m delivering my newsletter because I’m supposed to be there. I’m expected, however infrequently.