“What? Is somebody trying to kill the builder?” you ask.
‘They’ might be thinking about it. As in, more than one person is annoyed.
Here’s what is happening. When we moved in, the neighborhood was full of wooded lots. Even the properties with houses already there, had plenty of trees at the edges, along the fences, or next to the houses. Some were mature trees that had been left on the otherwise cleared lots before construction had begun. Property owners added flowering trees as time passed. Wildlife flourishes in this residential neighborhood of 1/4 and 1/3 acre lots. We’re not out in the country, but these are not zero-lot homes either.
Phases 1 and 2 of the larger housing development have long been completed. Phase 3 was finished three years ago, the original trees are beautiful, and the owners are adding new fruit/flowering trees each year.
Enter Phase 4. The original developer had a few lots left and found a builder to buy them. That builder wanted the lots cleared before finalizing the deal. That’s when we, the neighbors, discovered that some of the grassy/lightly-wooded areas between existing homes were actually unsold lots.
ALL of the trees from those lots are being cleared, lots of red dirt remains, and now mudslides into neighboring backyards are expected with the next heavy rain.
The developer in charge of the work told me on the phone that the lots are not wide enough to have left the trees in place. The one in the photos is 60 feet wide. Years ago, I lived in a house surrounded by maples and evergreens. That lot was 50×100. IMO, this guy simply did not want to take the time to leave a couple of trees to shade the house and protect the wildlife on the lot.
The neighbors to the left and right of the bulldozer photo were concerned enough to have the City Inspector come out to assess the situation. Note the dirt to the left appears to be in a pile that crosses the property line and would be the most likely to slide into the neighbor’s yard in the rain.
The builder’s solution was to place sand barrier ‘fencing’ on the property line. The bulldozer operator moved the dirt up against it.
Other lots have similar problems with soil grading and tree removal.
Heated conversations have been held. The neighborhood grapevine is operating at peak efficiency. Town council meetings are scheduled on the topic.
In case you doubt that neighbors and builders would actually get angry over something like this, read on.
Existing homeowners in Colorado were upset with new builders in the neighborhood who appeared to be putting in homes that did not conform to the look of the development, thereby lowering everyone’s property values. Building was delayed while plans were reviewed. Board members who were in charge of approving the designs (but didn’t) were removed from their positions and new people replaced them.
When developers with big money at stake and disgruntled homeowners with possible deflated property values are at odds, tempers can flare, injunctions can occur, and nothing good happens. If the builder complies with city ordinances, there is little recourse for the neighbors who don’t care for the look of the newer houses, or how the new homes will affect them.
City codes exist for a reason. Check yours out. You might be surprised at what is NOT included in some communities, such as: building setbacks, curbing pets, rules about garbage, home swimming pool regulations, livestock allowed in the city limits, etc.
We haven’t seen any bodies in the remaining woods yet, but it is still early in the process. Kidding. Tempers are high, but so far, everybody is just at the yelling stage. Let’s hope that reason prevails and the builder corrects the problems he has created, then doesn’t produce any new ones.
*Photos by Patti Phillips
It’s no secret that we’ve been doing a LOT of digging in the gardens this summer. The work can get hot and steamy, so we tend to start early in the morning. It’s not as humid and the bugs aren’t swarming in full force yet. Yesterday, I was delayed getting out there, so before I realized it, the sun was high in the sky, it was 95 degrees, I was really hot, and I was sweating something fierce.
And, suddenly thirsty. I was even a little dizzy and felt a headache coming on. As soon as I figured out what was happening, I dropped the tools and got myself inside. Sheila saw me ditch the shovel and headed in as well. I grabbed a cold, wet towel for my neck and she handed me some water. There was some scowling, but the crisis was averted.
What had happened? The heat got too much for me and I needed a tall, cool glass of water. I had left my golf cap inside, along with my bottle of water and my golf bandana, and I was paying for it. It didn’t get as far as heatstroke, but if I’d been at the golf course or the beach, and not 15 seconds from help, it could have.
The Mayo Clinic defines heatstroke:
“Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment.”
In the summertime, when temperatures reach in the high 90s on a regular basis, we will normally feel hot outdoors, so how do we know that there is a problem? Athletes, moms, dads, dogs, babies – everyone is vulnerable to heat stroke and we need to be aware of the symptoms.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Nobody I know carries around a thermometer, so aside from the high body core temp, symptoms can include:
How do we prevent things from getting to that point? Especially if you or your friends are planning to be out hiking, working, or camping in the heat, far away from speedy help?
Preventing Heat Stroke
People die from heat stroke. That’s why we are warned not to leave children and pets in hot cars. When it’s hot outside, the heat in the car gets magnified by the windows, resulting in temperatures that can be 30 degrees hotter inside the car – a disaster waiting to happen.
Sporting events are times where people get caught up in the competition and forget to hydrate, sometimes with tragic consequences. At the time the article below was published, the softball player’s death was unexplained, but later pointed to heatstroke. What do you think?
I always pack a bandana or ‘cold collar’ in my golf bag, wear a hat on the course, and take plenty of water with me. I got careless at the house, but that won’t happen again.
For additional information:
*Photos by Patti Phillips
Charlie and I took a road trip to Texas recently and checked into a reputable long-stay chain hotel for a few days. The hotel featured free hot breakfast (with ‘robust’ coffee) and a few dinners, so as Charlie would say, “What’s not to like?” Near the end of the week, we were taking our time planning the day, so I volunteered to go down to the breakfast room for refills on the coffee.
I got on the elevator with a nice young man from another floor; we exchanged smiles as the door closed and the car descended. And stopped abruptly. Our eardrums were suddenly blasted by the hideous sound of shrieking sirens and horns. An elevator is a small space and the sound bounced off the walls and assaulted our bodies for several long minutes. It was actually painful.
We covered our ears, without much success, and shouted to each other, wondering what was going on. The noise finally stopped, to our great relief, but the doors did not open and we realized that we were stuck.
We introduced ourselves – his name was Daniel – and started poking buttons on the control panel. Nothing worked. Open/close, floor buttons, nothing. We tried using the elevator intercom to call for help, but nobody answered right away. Neither of us had a cellphone, and my pockets were empty of everything except my room key card.
Daniel poked the intercom button again, this time shouting into it. The voice at the other end took a while to respond.
“Hello, are you okay?”
“Yes, but the elevator is stuck between floors.”
“Which elevator are you in?” Huh? Couldn’t they tell?
We had a chat with ‘the voice’ about where we had entered the elevator and she figured out that we were in the front elevator.
“The fire department will be here in a few minutes to get you out.”
I happened to know the locations of the firehouses since I had lived in the area for a number of years, and knew that it would be more than a few minutes. But, we were curious…why the screeching siren?
So we called the front desk again – and by the way, we had to yell to be heard – not very reassuring if trying to get and give information.
“What was the screeching siren?”
“There was a fire in someone’s room and when the room alarm went off, the entire elevator system shut down. We don’t know why you were not returned to the first floor.”
Hmmmm. The small fire was out, but somebody needed an elevator repair guy to make a visit after the firemen ‘rescued’ us. While we waited, Daniel and I shared our stories – Daniel was there with his family to support his older brother in a competition being held at the local university. I told him I was a writer. He asked if I was going to write about our experience and I laughed, “Definitely!”
I wondered aloud about pulling a MacGyver – Daniel was too young to know about the TV hero from the late 1980s – but then, neither of us had a Swiss Army knife or duct tape on hand. However, Daniel was tall enough to reach up and move ceiling panels aside as we investigated our options. Could we escape through the access panel as seen so often on TV and in the movies? Could we hot-wire anything?
Not in this elevator. The so-called ‘escape hatch’ could not be accessed unless you carried a hex key socket wrench in your pocket to release the bolts. Even then, maybe I could have fit through the space, but not broad-shouldered Daniel. I wondered what they actually use that panel for, since it clearly is not for people removal. As for hot-wiring? There was nothing accessible to us at all.
We exchanged a few more questions and reassurances from the front desk voice and Daniel’s dad, and at long last, the car finished the trip to the lobby and the firemen greeted us as the doors slid open.
When I asked about getting out of the elevator through the ceiling, the wrenches needed and the size of the escape hatch, one of the guys said, “Well, you don’t have to worry about any of that because the elevator comes back to the first floor and you just walk out the front.”
We were never in danger and were only one and a half floors up, so if cables had snapped, we would not have fallen far. Was I scared? Not really and I don’t think Daniel was either. He handled himself well and was good company. We had lots of air to share, since there were only two of us and we were both calm about the situation.
The people at the front desk mentioned that it would never happen again, but I found out later that it had just the night before to another guest. I might have taken the stairs if I had known that.
Charlie said that next time, he’s going to make the coffee run.
Elevators have long been the setting for action, comedy and even love, in movies and TV. And, why not?
There is a built-in constraint of space and time.
The punch line has to be delivered in the time it takes to get from one floor to another.
People who love (or hate) each other are placed into ‘must act’ situations.
Heists are pulled off successfully when the con men escape through the REALLY large ceiling hatches.
The audience is led to believe that nobody standing outside the elevator can hear the plots being hatched or the secrets being shared.
There is lots of potential for great entertainment.
But, in real life, people sometimes get stuck for hours and occasionally die in elevators. I researched elevator stories and these popped up:
Tragically, a young man saved a friend from an elevator death, but lost his own life in the process:
An elevator mechanic was electrocuted while repairing the elevator and working with exposed wires.
That same month, a woman was horribly dragged to her death when elevator shot up while she tried to enter through the open doors.
*Note from Patti Phillips:
My extra long stay on the elevator (as Patti Phillips) really did happen earlier this month, but there are hundreds of thousands of safe elevator rides taken every year.
Thanks to Daniel Gray for sharing the ride in Texas. 🙂