IntrepidWoman's Journey

Posts Tagged ‘condo living

When I was young (I was going to write younger, but that is not accurate), life was full of drama. It seemed like one traumatic event right after another and some overlapping to keep me in a state of stress and frustration. I always felt like everything around me controlled me and I controlled very little (except maybe what was on the menu for the next meal and not even that very often was under my control.)Finances were out of control. My jobs were draining, never paying enough, and they kept me away from home too much. There was no such thing as free time or time for myself. Such is the life of a parent and more so for a single parent. The responsibility to do it all ‘right’ was overwhelming for all those years.

To those of the next generation who understand what I am saying, take notice! It actually does pass. You miss the joyful parts of those years after they are gone, but you finally get to stop and smell the flowers. It takes a long time to think of yourself first, but it eventually happens. I actually felt guilty If I ‘wasted time’ reading a book when I should have been doing something else like worrying about all the ‘what ifs’ when I was young.

For some reason (not sure why), I always put my job too high on the list of important things. I did my best and brought the rest home to think about after hours. I was still doing this until my second bout of cancer over a year ago. A health crisis really makes you come to a halt and examine the quality of your life. Best test – ask yourself this: “If I was to die today, would I be happy with where I am right now in my life?” The answer helps to put some things in perspective.

I currently work with an awesome team of women who are dedicated and passionate but work way too hard and way too much. I watch people putting their work ahead of their families and know I did that myself when my boys were growing up. I wonder why we do this.

This week, we lost a staff member who was laid off due to budget constraints. It was a shock. She worked hard and will be missed. Our team dynamic will not be the same. It made me very sad when I found out, but she will move on and so will our work team.

For me, it confirmed what I have been feeling rather strongly for the last year. A person is not their job. Your job is not your life. Your job should not define you.

When my sons were pre-teens I went to a teachers’ convention, and in one session we were asked to write down 10 things we did for fun. I sat there, looking at my blank paper and feeling a sense of guilt. I finally asked for a clarification. “What do you mean?” I queried. The presenter replied, “Things you do in your spare time for fun, just for you.”  I was devastated. There was not one thing I could think of. My days consisted of working long hours, coming home to cook, clean, chauffer, etc. etc. and fall into bed exhausted, only to begin again the next day. Weekends were catch-up for laundry, shopping, marking school work…

Even though this was hard to accept, there was nothing I could do about it. My circumstances controlled my life. When the boys all left home, I had an identity crisis. I could not figure out who I was. I was not a mother if they were grown and did not rely on me, and when I took early retirement from teaching, I was not a teacher anymore, but who was I? What was I? I struggled with that for a long time.

Now that I am old, and I say this ‘old’ word with great satisfaction, I realize that like all women, I am one with many hats. I have juggled hats since I turned 20 and got married at such a young age. Now I realize I do not have to wear a name tag and do not have to keep the same hat on.

Now that I am old, I can proclaim that my current job is awesome – totally satisfying, challenging and often overwhelming, but it is not who I am.

Now that I am old, I can decide to say ‘yes’ to requests and also say ‘no’ with only a bit of guilt when I am tired and need time to myself.

I live in ‘the home’ and it is lovely and serene. Each day I come home, turn the key in the lock, walk in, survey my oasis and thank God for my blessings. Each and every day since I moved in here I have been doing that.

When I have a week at work that knocks the stuffing out of me, I take a day of my weekend and stay in my jammies. I nap, read, knit, cook a little, watch a little “Big Bang Theory” and nap again. After 24 hours I feel rested, de-stressed and ready to tackle a few home chores. Or not.

Now that I am old, it is all about me. I am working on giving myself some nice things like massages and manicures. At least I think about it. I haven’t quite got there yet, but I am getting closer.

Life in the home continues, thank goodness. The ‘what ifs’ down the road do not matter at the moment. My contentment lies within each day, feeling grateful and keeping things in perspective.

There are lots of things I could worry about, but if I could get all the time back that I worried about things that never happened in my youth, it would amount to years. I know that does not mean that life is never going to throw another curve ball my way or bring pain and sorrow. There will be more valleys and more mountain tops. My goal is to stay in the now and be grateful for whatever comes my way.

I am old, but I still have dreams and plans for when I retire in a year and a half. I have learned that my plans may fly out the window and my dreams may disappear because of life’s curve balls, but I will not worry about that now.

Right now, I am old and content. My life is what I make it. I expect tomorrow to be a good day and if it is not so much, then I will rejoice at its’ end and look forward to the day after.

And there is always Bailey’s and ice. In a tall glass.


Living in ‘the home’ has turned into a most interesting phase of my life. I have always lived in large, old houses with some seclusion involved and walked around picturing what they would look like if I could fix them up, which I could never afford to do. I spent a lot of years living an enjoyable fantasy.

For 3 months now I have lived in a nearly new and very compact condo with other ‘over 50s’ and find it fascinating.

My unit is probably the last one a body would pick for purchase because it is on the main level, near the front entrance with visitor parking right out front, near my patio with a small lawn area between. I do believe that is why the rent is lower than the average in here. It is a good revenue property and I love renting it. I am not paying the condo fee and taxes, etc. Watching people come and go and feeling like I’m in ‘Hotel Silver-Haired’ is just great right now for me.

I do have a concern however. I seem to be turning into my grandma. She was a dear lady who lived her later years in a lovely, older residential area of Calgary and she people-watched. I remember going for tea (6 bags in the pot; she was English), and she would tell us all about the neighbors. She knew their comings and goings and general habits, even though she had never met any of them. I used to wonder about that, but now I understand.

I am not here all that much with working full-time, but when I am home, it is easy, with my big windows, ahem, to watch the comings and goings and recognize the routines. There is the lady who walks at least once and often twice a day who completely covers up from the sun: broad-brimmed hat, dark glasses, long sleeves, long pants, and away she goes.

There is the gentleman who leaves at 6:30 in the morning and does not return until very late in the day. He always has a coffee in his hand and looks too old to be working full-time. He has a slight hunch and is quick to a brief conversation.

There is the man who paces the foyer and the hallways and is eager for a verbal interlude.

There are the card players who come out from all three buildings at the same time on the same evenings and head to the club house. They join together as they meet on the way down the communal road.

The odd things include the skateboarders who are young and ride through the complex, over the speed bumps after 11 pm, ignoring the signs, “Private Property” and don’t seem to know or care that they wake people up.

And lately, there has been a cat who comes into the complex area, which is unusual because it is totally pet free. You cannot even visit with a pet, as there are signs everywhere. He seems to enjoy running around the area after dark and perching on the edge of patios before disappearing into the night. He either can’t read or is a bit of a rebel.

But last night was really intriguing. I was unable to sleep, as sometimes happens, so at 1:15 a.m. I was at the computer, researching RVs (don’t ask), when a white half-ton parked right out front and two younger-than-fifty people came into my building. Did they ring to get in or have the special security key? Strange time to arrive for a visit.

An hour later, they were driving away with what looked like a recliner chair and some other items in the back. I only looked because it was stranger still to hear someone leaving in the middle of the night. This is a quiet place where the residents are in bed very early. Yikes! I have become my grandmother! At least now I understand her.

So my challenge to you, dear reader, is to complete the story.

“x and x arrived at the seniors’ condo, precisely at 1:15 a.m. Slamming the truck doors, they both walked to the entrance and . . . “

Dear Friends,

Intrepid Woman has moved to ‘the home’. It has been 31 days now. Not sure why I am counting because it is not a life sentence. It is likely a two-year time of living the good life surrounded by middle to upper class silver-haired, retired, but not tired seniors.

This was a big move up. I am on the main floor now, but used to be in the basement. Is that how one gets to heaven? One floor at a time? I sure hope there is an elevator or at the very least, an escalator at some point in this trip as it is going to be a long one…

So, back to ‘the home’. It is awesome. After 40 years of living in “old, with character”, I am finally living in new, and I am the character. Nice.

After 26 months in the hole, not knowing what the weather was like, not being able to open a window, having a dark green carpet and always having the lights on, I have been promoted to three BIG windows that slide open with massive screens, brand new, light-colored carpet, a full glass door to a balcony… Bliss, baby, pure bliss! You take fresh air for granted until you live in a basement suite without windows that open. Granted, it was cozy and clean, and the landlords were the nicest people, which is partly why I stayed so long. The new landlord is another story.


Life in the Home –

is interesting and different. The complex has 3 buildings facing each other at angles so you do not see directly into anyone’s windows. Someone was thinking when they planned that. It was not the same guy who designed the kitchen however. The kitchen has tons of cupboards and is laid out in the classic U of convenience, but it is walled in with a little pass through to the main room. It should have been wide open to the rest with a breakfast bar so you would not have to turn on the light every time you enter, and there would be the illusion of a larger space.

Ah, but I am not complaining, just explaining. The condo is awesome and the only place it has that hospital smell is in the foyer by the elevator, could be the cleaning products that are used. I love that the hallway to my unit is hotel-typical and the number on my door is a shiny circle of imitation brass. Hotel living at its best, but much less expensive.

Other perks include: in-floor heat, underground parking, dishwasher, stacking washer/dryer hidden in kitchen, storage room in suite and another near parking space….

The landlord is another story – the male counterpart to the team of owners is the “Mr. Fixit” of the investment properties. He comes with a big tool bag and is a personable fellow, but his fix- it skills are nil. I am not sure if this is on purpose to scare me so I never call again or what.

Case in point: day one – no hot water at all in the tub. He tried several things, called a friend, and finally had it half fixed, saying he was out of tape and would return to fix now-loose faucet. Never returned.

I mentioned that a warped lid to the  dispenser in the dishwasher should be added to ‘damages in suite’ list. I also mentioned that it must have touched the heat element but it was still totally in working order. Instead of adding it to list, Mr. Fix-it took it with him. I have never seen it or a replacement since. Sigh!

Next: toilet handle stuck when flushed. I thought this was minor to fix. The F Man was here for several hours, ended up with water everywhere and left a toilet that ran non-stop and leaked from the tank to the floor as a bonus. And he never came back. After waiting two weeks, I emailed and asked if they could call a certified plumber. Have not heard back. But he IS a really personable fellow. I just wish his current choice of careers was manager. If he could manage to call a plumber, I would appreciate it.


A Moving Day….

Move-in day was… there are no words to describe it, at least not briefly. I hired a guy off Kijiji for the big move. He said ‘one price, no surprises’ and gave me a quote. I replied that it was too low and added 50%.

On the day of the move, he said he might not be able to move it all in one trip. I said two trips then. He said he only did one unless we re-negotiate the price. I said, right – negotiate back to the original amount! He said he was a family man. I said I was a senior….

Of course it all fit in his trailer with room for lots more and we headed to the condo complex. BTW – he was 26.

Kijiji Man said he was going to move everything over the balcony into the unit. Out comes Condo KOP (Keeper of Policies) to tell him, “Not! Against condo rules!”

K-Man yells some profanities and C-KOP says, “Not open for discussion. Against the rules!”  Intrepid Woman takes K-Man aside and says, “Sorry, must follow rules. I know they suck, but I have to live here”; then takes C-KOP aside and says, “Sorry! I found this crazy guy on Kijiji!”

K-Man moved my belongings in so fast, through the front door, that I was running behind him, picking up the things that were falling out of boxes. AND I had to deal with the meeters and  greeters who lined up to watch all my earthly possessions being moved in. It is ‘An Occasion’ for residents. They were dressed in their Sunday best, (it was Sunday,) and they watched each piece of furniture move through the doors. I was introduced and shook hands and will never remember who any of them were as I was hot and sweaty and attempting to keep K-Man away from C-KOP.

For the first time in my life, I questioned my lack of interest in material possessions. As my white princess dresser from when I was 15 and my metal bed frame that I took out of a friend’s garbage 30 years ago passed through the line of seniors, I was a bit embarrassed. Then came the flowered sofa from the Sears catalogue about 30 years ago. Everyone was quiet until K-Man walked through with my saddle.

“Nice saddle!” one woman said. “Yes, nice saddle!”, said another. Then C-KOP asked, “Do you have a horse?”  “Uh, no…”  Later, I decided it is time to donate my saddle to a ranch where they have kids’ camps, near Longview. Freckles would like that.

K-Man finished in record time and headed into the condo. I side-tracked him out to the front sidewalk. We stood there. He said, “You know it’s cash, eh?”

“Yes,” I said as I pulled out a pile of neatly folded twenties from my pocket. He left and I walked very briskly into my new domain and locked the door.

Later that day, a sheaf of papers was slipped under my door – ”Rules from the Condo Board.”  Condo KOP stopped me a day later to mention the two stained glass pieces I had propped in my windows. “Not allowed” she said. “Did you read the rules I left under your door?”   “No”, I replied. “I have been busy moving.”

Did I mention – I LOVE my new place. Really.


I thank my ex-husband for . . .

4 things. No, Jim, David and Dean do not have a sister I never mention. (It is MY sister I never mention.)

On my list of fave things from my ex is #4 – the egg in the hole.

This culinary delight was explained to me by a 20-year-old, red-haired and freckled boy scout leader who had cooked many of these over open fires at numerous scout camps. If you have not had one, you are missing a great wonder of the world. I have been a fan since 1968.

Since moving into ‘the home’, I have been craving an ‘egg in the hole’.  Because it is very light and bright at 5 am and I do not have room darkening curtains, I am up prowling around for a few hours before work every day. Today is a holiday, so I made some Tim Horton’s coffee, added a little chocolate and started thinking about an egg in the hole.

With great excitement and giddy anticipation, I realized that I could actually cook one, have it for breakfast and not run out the door to work. So I did it. In my wonderful U-shaped kitchen of convenience, I got out the teflon fry pan, a small glass, margarine (made from olive oil), one slice of bread, a knife and an egg. Life is good when you live in ‘the home’! I added Adam Lambert as a garnish.

Recipe for those who’ve never been a boy scout: butter the bread lightly on both sides. Use glass to cut a circle out of the middle of the bread. Lay slice in heated pan with cut out right next to it. Break egg gently into the hole in the slice. Cook for a few minutes and then flip both slice and cut out. It is up to you whether you want it over-easy, sunny-runny or cooked firm. Remove to plate and cut into bite size pieces. If you feel really adventurous, add jam to all or just to the round cutout for a sweet treat.

Add juice or coffee to the place mat, “Jeramiah was a Bullfrog” for ambiance and enjoy! I forgot to mention that the knife is useful to pull the cutout of bread out of the glass after you have forced it in there….

Historically Speaking

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