Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Ornamentation and Rules Enforcement

Note: This is a reprint of a post I made last week on my personal blog.

To my fellow residents and the Board of Directors of Sherwood Glen:

By now I'm sure you've seen the notice recently posted on the bulletin boards, asking residents to inspect their property and determine if it is in compliance with the rules and regulations. The notice also has check boxes dealing with modifications that might have been made without proper forms or permission.

There was one item checked on my form, but I don’t want this to be just about me. For now I want to talk to you about lawn ornamentation in general.

Oh, hell no! Actually, I don’t want to talk to you about ornamentation. In fact, I can probably think of about 100 other problems facing society today, that we could discuss or a 100 things I would rather do than write this letter. The idea that I even have to write this saddens me. However, for whatever reason, lawn ornamentation is front and center right now here at Sherwood Glen.

So where do I start? Should I talk from my experience as a board member and past president? Should I start from the perspective of a long time (relative term) resident of Locksley Lane? Should I start from the perspective of someone totally outside the community? I guess it will be a mix, but for now, I think the logical place to start is with the rules. Please take a moment and read this section.

Outdoor Ornamentation:

1. Outdoor ornamentation within the grass areas is prohibited.
2. Ornamentation must blend with landscaping and the buildings, and may not contain spinners, propellers, or other moving parts.
3. The Board requires the removal of all ornamentation from all areas by November 15.
4. The Board reserves the right to review and request the removal of ornamentation it deems inappropriate.
Now that you have read the four sentences, let’s interpret the sentences one at a time. Some of the rules can be interpreted simply and others are subject to a high degree of subjectivity.
1) SIMPLE… NO ornamentation within the grass areas.
2) SUBJECTIVE… Defining what blends with landscaping could be argued all day.
SIMPLE… If the ornament is wind driven, it is not allowed.
3) SIMPLE… What goes out in the spring, must be removed by November 15.
4) SUBJECTIVE… The board can deem an ornament inappropriate.

I would strongly encourage the board to vigorously enforce items 1 and 3. That leaves us with items 2 and 4, which are not as clear cut.

With respect to items 2 and 4, parts are crystal clear, and I would encourage the board to vigorously enforce a prohibition on wind driven ornamentation. On the other hand, defining and acting on whether an ornament blends in, is an entirely different situation.

In order to deal with what is and what isn’t appropriate, let’s start with something that is not specifically stated, but is perfectly clear. You CAN have ornamentation in the berms.

Ask yourself, why would motivate anyone put anything in the berms? To me that answer is two-fold. I think people do it to increase the beauty of the area and to put a little bit of individuality on display. That is certainly our motivation.

Some people may say that some folks have gone overboard. That’s would be the case of items that are clearly prohibited by the rules. However, in terms of the subjective determination of what should or should not be on display. Who is to say how much is too much?

I’ve heard people talking about ornamentation as if driving through Sherwood Glen looked like this.

I think we could all agree that this lawn ornamentation would clearly be out of sync with the community landscaping and deemed inappropriate, but as I walk our development, I see no clutter, no pink flamingos, no wind driven washer women, no six-foot inflatable characters, and nothing that remotely resembles this.

Personally, I see no problem with ornamentation that exists here at Sherwood Glen. I understand that people have a different opinion and I respect that. All I will do is express my view and ask you to consider it as you form your own opinion. It is not for me to say that my ornamentation is right and yours is wrong. Nor is it your job to tell me mine is wrong.

As I walk the development, I see absolutely nothing in the berms that offends me or that I feel is inappropriate. Then again, people will have issue with my tolerance of personal expression. The things I see are placed there to enhance the area and as a personal expression of those within that unit. It’s one of the things that drew me to Sherwood Glen and that I have enjoyed since moving in.
I get that there are people who want total uniformity and rules enforced to the max, but I don’t think that is a commonly held value here in Sherwood Glen. I also know our state motto is NOT, Live free and conform!

I ask you to drive through this development as I did on May 22, 2015, and look at it through the eyes of someone who has never been here

What do you think will stick with them? Will it be the beauty of the landscaping or will it be inappropriate lawn ornamentation? I bet you a thousand dollars, if a hundred people drove through here and were asked to comment on what they saw, there would be precious few who point to lawn ornamentation as a problem.

I think it is pretty clear the board wants to reign in some of the ornamentation that is clearly prohibited, and act to prevent people from being run over by a stampede of plastic flamingos. On the other hand, I hope they aren’t trying to turn the community into the visuals for a Judy Collins music video of Boxes, Little Boxes.

A balance must be struck. In my humble opinion, if the rules CLEARLY prohibit something, the board should deal with it and address that issue according to the rules. There is a clear process in place. Use it.

We have always had and ENCOURAGED, tasteful ornamentation. Therein lies part of the problem. As they say, there’s no accounting for taste, and beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. When it comes to ornamentation that is not excessive and specifically prohibited NO ONE INDIVIDUAL OR SMALL GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS, should dictate who I am or how I express my individuality.
To the board, I say, thank you for acting to maintain order. Please enforce those rules that are clearly being violated and avoid acting on the words of a vocal few. Your challenge is to come up with a criteria by which residents can determines what defines inappropriate. If I have an ornament I want to put out on the berm, I should be able to look at the rules and determine if the ornament is a violation. 

Yes, there have been rules that have been stretched, but clearly there are violations that can identified by clear language in the rules. The board must implement a fair and equitable solution to the issues at hand, and to strike a balance that conforms to community standards.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Power of Water

Think about a pinhole in a pipe seven feet below the surface of the road. Is it significant? Is it noticeable? Does it even matter? The answer is YES, YES, and YES.

The evidence is the steady stream of water that bubbled out of the driveway this past weekend and the pictures you see here, which reveal the source of the water and the forces of nature working over time.

It all started with a pin hole leak in a coupling seven feet below the surface of the road. As I looked at the coupling, I couldn't help but think of a Taoist teaching that has guided me since college.  It advises up to strive to be like water. Water doesn't compete or confront.  It flows around obstacles. The seeks the lowest level, but it wears down mountains, or in this case, copper pipe.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring, a Grape Arobor, and a Kayak

Today, Jessie, Rachel, and Art build a natural grape arbor to train the wild grapes growing on the pond trail.  Once things begin to green up, the vines will be guided to grow up through the vertical branches. The question remains as to whether the vines will bear fruit and whether they will fill the bellies of birds or a mason jar or two.  Time will tell.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the lower pond, Jeff was taking Rachel's Kayak out for its maiden voyage.  I guess it is safe to say spring is officially upon us.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fitness for Seniors

During my first 40 years on this planet, I was pretty active physically, I played a number of sports and was lucky enough to land a wresting scholarship while attending Temple University in the 60's.  After graduating, I coached wrestling and track in high school.

By age 45 my coaching days were over.  While I still enjoyed the outdoors, I started getting "soft".  In my 50's I decided to get back in shape, but my mind was younger than my body and it seemed that each time I tried to get serious about getting into better shape, I managed to hurt myself.  It seemed as if I was taking one step forward and two steps backward.  This patterned repeated itself more times than I would like to admit.

Then, three years ago things changed. I attended a workshop put on by Peter and Nona Hubbard.  Peter and Nona are long time residents of Sherwood Glen who have annually shared generously of their time and knowledge with their neighbors.

Thanks to their efforts, a reality check on my part, and a little dedication I feel like I am in better shape now, than I was 20 years ago. 

Last week with the assistance of Nicole Hurley and Jennifer Crosby, they conducted a two more workshops for residents.

I filmed the workshops and since I'm now doing volunteer work for RCTV, I turned it into about a half hour program that Peter and Nona have agreed to share with the community.  It will air this week and will be available at the RCTV streaming video site online.  I've also uploaded it to YouTube and embedded it below. I hope it can help others the way it helped me.

Please check it out, and before you begin any program or exercise, make sure you consult your doctor to make sure you are fit enough to begin.  Take things slow and let your body be your guide.

Air times on RCTV CHANNEL 13
Wed. 7:30 AM and 3:00 PM
Thurs: 5:30 AM
Fri. 9:30 AM
Sat. 1:30 PM
Sun. 5:30 PM
It will also be available 24/7 at