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hoa = evil
rene = eviler

on the afternoon of wednesday february 5, 2014, i received the following email from our homeowner's assocation:

Good Afternoon Maristone Residents,
I completed my inspection this morning of the neighborhood. I noticed that just about every house had a newspaper in the driveway or in the yard, sometimes even out in the street. Some homes had mulitple newspapers others only had one. I would greatly appreciate it if everyone could pick those up and dispose of them. I understand the weather conditions do not make it ideal, but the wetter it gets, the harder it gets to clean up. Especially once it breaks through the plastic and explodes. I did not want to send a violation letter to each household for this, especially if this was something that was sent as a courtesy and owners are not paying for the service. If this is the case, I would recommend that you contact the newspaper company and let them know you do not want anything dropped off. Next month, if they are out in the road, driveway, or yard a violation letter will be issued. Please feel free to contact me in regards to this matter if you have any questions or concerns. If know of anyone not registered on the website that may not get this message, please pass it along to them.
Sincerely,
Jessica M, CAM
Managing Agent for Maristone HOA

this is not the first time we received something asinine and trivial like this. the notices we have received have been about the lawn grass being too long, the trash cans being out on the road for too long or having the wrong kind of mulch. so, i figuratively took a page out of david thorne's book and wrote a reply:

Hi Jessica,
We've never met, but I can already tell that we are going to get along famously. I really like how you dedicate so much time and effort to help the Maristone neighborhoods look as pleasing to the eye as possible. A lot of people tend to ignore curb appeal or dismiss it out of laziness. Not you, so to receive your email regarding newspapers left out in the driveway or front yard was a highlight in my otherwise dreary day.
And while I agree that the recent weather conditions were not ideal (as you said), I believe residents could have made good use of the snow. They could have done what I did after the unusually large snow fall for our normally hot and humid climate. I enthused my kids by having them help me build a sled-accessible snow ramp from our front door to the street curb. I will have you know that the reason behind this was two-fold:
1) they were active outside, having fun in and with the snow (because really, this may not happen again for a few years);
2) they were able to learn a valuable lesson in responsibility by bringing the mail and the paper from the driveway on their way back after sledding down to the curb.
I pride myself on being resourceful in turning a possible excuse for just leaving the morning paper out there into something that was fun for the entire family. Of course, I cannot speak for my neighbors and their resourcefulness, or lack thereof, so maybe this is something you could put in the next newsletter as a way of avoiding a similar situation. Truthfully, I make this suggestion so you will not have to relive this jarring experience another time on your inspection routes.
This unfortunate event also prompted me to do some basic arithmetic: this oh-so necessary inspection costs every household $8.11. Each month. Now, I can't speak for my fellow neighborhoodians, but on an annual basis this adds up. To $97.32. I can think of better uses of available funds, and I trust that you can too. I'm sure that you and I can also think of better ways to spend one's time. For instance, I may need some assistance in finding a solution to picking up the newspaper on days it's raining, because to be honest, with the rain these last few days, I have been struggling to come up with ideas for successful and fun retrieval of the mail and morning paper as well putting out the garbage and recycle bins.
Of course, to bring you up to speed on the daily and weekly mores of our lovely and quiet subdivision, the newspapers you witnessed on Wednesday morning, the local rag Forsyth Herald, were delivered Tuesday morning. Torrential downpours may have discouraged some residents from braving the wild outdoors to move the newspaper from their driveway to their trash can.
Since my aim is not to disappoint you or, more importantly, disappoint my fellow Maristone residents, I was wondering if you have any tips & tricks for navigating the treacherously slick driveway in the rain wearing my flip flops and bathrobe? I appreciate any help you can offer me. In the meantime I will stay vigilant and look for a way to defuse possibly exploding newspaper bags. Who knows, someday, that help is needed.
Regards,
Rene

so far, i have not yet received a reply …
and, since i have not yet received a reply since, i thought it would be good to check in with jessica …

Hi Jessica,
Since you have not yet replied to my previous email, I was wondering if you were alright, especially with the dangerously inclemenent weather we've been having lately?!
Yet another winter storm is blowing through our cozy nook in the suburban countryside. Apropos, thank you for the winter readiness email, the tips therein were quite useful indeed. What I missed, however, were tips about on how to navigate our dangerously sloping driveway. Moreover, since this morning a veritable blizzard covered our weekly "newspaper", the Forsyth Herald, I would have appreciated any and all useful tips for how to pick up this riveting read and rid of it properly.

As you can see from attached image the situation was akin to an orange TSA terror alert. But, and I think you will be proud of me, I managed to scale the driveway downhill and uphill safely. In my bathrobe and flipflops no less. I risked life and limb to protect our lovely Maristone neighborhood from mysteriously, but viciously and deviously exploding newspaper bags. A beautiful coincidence is that I will not have to lay awake night after night, fighting off sweat-soaked nightmares about receiving a much dreaded violation letter. At least until next Tuesday.
My wife, bless her heart, is sometimes at the brink of exhaustion from having to deal with keeping up appearances. As you might understand, being on edge constantly, perhaps unnecessarily, is wreaking havoc in our otherwise simple and quiet life. I understand the need for those violation letters, but I am assuming you would only ever mete those out for the severest of policy violations. Right? Right?
Anyway, hope this email finds you well. I will be out front using my forehead to reflect available sunlight across the front yard to help with melting off the remaining snow.
Regards,
Rene

Hi Jessica,
Firstly, I hope you can find it in your heart to accept my sincerest apologies, for four things specifically:
1. For not attending the annual HOA meeting, a meeting both me and my wife were looking forward to attending. Unfortunately we came back from a week in California (mixing business and pleasure) the Sunday before and on the morning of that fateful Monday March 3, my wife woke up with a severe case of pink eye. We thought you might appreciate it that we decided, in everybody's interest really, not to spread this beyond our home.
2. As a direct result of the above, I regret not meeting you in person, but perhaps this missed chance was also a blessing in disguise. Not for what you might think, though … the next day I myself came down with pink eye. In both eyes! ZOMG! On top of that, the Monday after the annual HOA meeting, both my wife and I as well as our youngest son developed a case of strep, for which I'm sure you know the incubation period is ten days. While we are dismayed, still, we couldn't make it to the meeting, I'd like to believe that further disaster was averted! Can't be too careful, you know, with exploding newspapers in the neighborhood and all.
3. For taking so long to inform you about the goings on in our little home on the range, but from the above you can easily deduce that we have been out of commission for 3 weeks. This was all right after having to endure and survive, count them, not one but two snowpocalypses. Things have been in quite the turmoil as you can imagine and while making sure to maintain our standing in the community by living up to the HOA's standards is in the top of the list of our priorities there were, sadly, other things that needed our attention. I'm sure you understand.
4. Much less trivial, I made a horrible typographical error in my previous email; I still cannot believe that I typed “inclemenent” instead of “inclement”! (Perhaps I should use spellcheck …)
Secondly, I certainly do hope that my relatively innocent correspondence is not resulting in increased personal attention, because I don't think our relationship is ready to be in an exclusive kind of place, yet. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we will never be able to reach that point, but I think, for the sake of the both of us, it's still a little bit too early for these kinds of shenanigans.
Thirdly, please find attached a citation. A citation you might ask? Yes, a citation, happy happy joy joy. Earlier today, my wife was mowing the front lawn with our energy efficient electric lawnmower, you know as per Section 5.2 of the Covenant, when she noticed your red inspection pickup truck turning into the neighborhood. My wife turned to face the oncoming vehicle which in turn sped up dramatically while the driver did not look in her direction. It was almost as if the inspector acted like he (or was it a she, maybe?) was caught in the act. For your information, it goes without saying that I expect to not receive a courtesy notice dated March 25, 2014, because there is no way the inspector could have inspected anything on our side of the street.

Fourthly and lastly, before my medicine head gets the best of me, I want to run the following by you: in lieu of seasonal allergies (weeds, grass, flowers, trees, mould) my wife and I are thinking of replacing the front lawn, including the sides of the house, with either concrete slabs or blacktop. Do you think this is reasonable or could it be the Benadryl and Dayquil/Nyquil talking? The way we see it, removing the grass basically negates the need for spraying it for weeds, (sometimes quasi-illegal) irrigating during the summer months, regular mowing and, most importantly, the need for you to send us courtesy notices. If there's anything I like, it is killing two or more birds with one stone. Figuratively, not literally. I'm not a monster!
Anyhoo, something tells me it is time for my meds … what?!
Regards,
Rene

JESSICA REPLIED, JESSICA REPLIED, JESSICA REPLIED!!!!

Rene,
I am very sorry to hear about the health issues that have been taking place in your home and do hope everyone is getting better and making a quick recovery. As for the red truck, I'm afraid that was not me nor was it anyone from our office. I myself drive a blue car, and our maintenance department has trucks, but they are white and have the Associa On Call logo on them. I wish I could assist you in this matter and help you determine who this vehicle belongs to, but I'm afraid I cannot. Because the speed limit is governed by the police and local authorities, they would be the ones that would need to be notified regarding this matter. There is nothing in the governing documents that states what speed someone can drive in the community, therefore I cannot enforce anything. The next time you see this vehicle I would recommend contacting the police so they can come out and speak with the owner of the vehicle.
If you would like to remove the grass in your front yard and put down concrete or pavement, then you would need to fill out the attached form and get approval first, as this is an exterior modification. I have attached the form for your records. Please feel free to contact me if there is anything else I can do or if you have any other questions.
Thank you and have a wonderful day!!!
Jessica M, CAM

oh my, unlimited and unexpected possibilities …

Hi Jessica,
Thank you for your kind words and encouragement for all of us to get better. Fortunately we are now moving into allergy season so three of us will only be miserable for another 6 months or so. I would ask you if you could do something about the ridiculously high pollen count, but I am quite certain that there is not much you can do, or can you?!
Therefore our plan to replace the tree and grass of the front and the sides of the house with poured concrete, or blacktop, or slabs, is really starting to cement (pun not intended). Just as a precaution, but also as a measure of full transparency, find attached the application for modification I've prepared to be sent to the Architectural Review Board.
APPLICATION FOR MODIFICATION- maristone 2012 (arb 30)_completed.pdf
Would you be so kind to look this over, please, as well as the attachments as detailed below?
Naturally, filling out the application made me critically evaluate the logic and ramifications of this request and I found some potential concerns that I am confident I have addressed adequately below.
Firstly, I can certainly understand that having blacktop, seemingly around the house, may be confusing because the gray would contrast sharply with the green of our neighboring houses' grass. I can also understand that having blacktop may pose a safety concern for the drivers on our neighborhood's road, since they could possibly confuse our front yard with the actual road. Asking law enforcement assistance is out of the question, because I have the distinct impression that the Cumming Police Department already has my phone number blocked after us contacting them every time a vehicle was recklessly speeding through our neighborhood. To mitigate any risk, though, I have settled on stamping. As it so happens, I know someone who can stamp the concrete after it has been put in place and although it has not been done, or requested, before it is possible to have stamping done with any design. See attached photo of a stamped concrete driveway.
Exhibit A.pdf
It goes without saying that I am looking to have the stamp design be that of grass. Grass cut at precisely the HOA's requirements and without weeds. The upside of stamped grass is that our yard will have beautiful green grass year-round. I suppose, from the neighbors' point of view, this could also be viewed as a downside …
Secondly, since every house has at least one tree on their property, removing the young oak tree from our front yard may look aesthetically unpleasing, and will sadly displace a bird of indeterminate breed's family, yet all things considered a hologram tree would be quite the attractive replacement, not to mention a nice salute to the many neighborhood families who earn their income in the (high) technology industry. See attached photo of the hologram tree I have selected for our front yard.
Exhibit B.pdf
A beautiful upside of having a hologram tree could be to have a permanent Christmas tree; just think of how festive it would look! The obvious downside is that the displaced bird family would not be able to rebuild their nest in it, although them trying to rebuild will offer comic relief for young and old.
There is one other concern, but frankly it is not something that is on the forefront of mind: we are planning to relocate two years from now, when our daughter has graduated high school. It's not easy walking away from a considerable investment in home improvement, although I am sure we will have no issues attracting interested buyers for possible beachfront property, or riverfront property, or woodland property (there is nothing concrete stamping and holograms can't do). And hey, plenty of parking!
In any case, got to take a shower now, because my wife just cut the grass and it's throwing, like, a lot of pollen in the air.
Looking forward to your attentive reply, as always.
Regards,
Rene

JESSICA REPLIED, JESSICA REPLIED, JESSICA REPLIED!!!!

Rene,
Thank you for sending over the information below. I have copied Lynn G on this email as she is the one that processed the applications. I have reviewed everything you sent in, however the application is not signed on the last page, therefore it cannot be processed until this has been completed. Once you get it signed, please return it to us and we will make sure this goes before the board to be reviewed. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to assist you or if you have any other questions.
Have a wonderful day!!!!
Jessica M, CAM

well … it gets better, even Lynn G replied, via snail mail on official letterhead ...*grin*


RE: INCOMPLETE MODIFICATION REQUEST -Maristone Homeowners Association, Inc
For: address/Modification Request: Other
Dear Rene Wirtz:
Please be advised that we are in receipt of your Application For Modification request(s). However, this request is pending subject to the following missing information: Sod removal/Hologram tree. Please sign the 3rd page of the application and return for processing.
This application is being returned and action is deferred until your application is completed and the requested information is received by this office. Until approval is granted, please note that any modification performed on the property is considered a violation of your covenants.
If this office does not receive the required information within twenty (20) days from the date of this letter, your application will be withdrawn.
Thank you for your cooperation, and if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact our office.
Sincerely.
Lynn G
ACC Coordinator

i feel like Christoper Titus when he receives information with which he can blackmail Papa Titus *grin*
of course, I could not resist, even though I waited a little longer to respond this time around …

Hi Jessica,
Let me start by offering my sincerest apologies for being remiss in our communications, but as you undoubtedly know life can be hectic sometimes with all the composing emails, doing legal research, dangerous liaising and other not so unimportant job requirements. And then there's all the social stuff! Sometimes the fun never ends …
In light of recent developments with the veritable jungle that apparently is our front yard I have spent many a sleepless night researching possible solutions. Naturally, because the internet is a very strange place, I got distracted numerous times, but hey, who doesn't want to see the world's tallest midget or the world's shortest giant?! But I digress …
Here are some solutions to our persistent weed problem with its downsides and upsides.
1. blacktopping and stamping (as previously considered)
2. drone strike with a mixture of dichlorophenoxyacetic acid trichlorophenoxyacetic acid
Downsides to the above solutions:
1. cost, obviously, since I may need to squirrel funds away to pay for supposably unavoidable assessments and fines and liens and whatnot
2. time, since building a drone can be done with available technology, but 3D printing each component and multiple trial runs may take days, weeks, months, so perhaps all this cannot even be accomplished before our imminent departure from this lovely neighborhood
3. cost, because as a direct result of the previous two downsides, copious amounts of Dutch courage may very well be a requirement
4. cost and time, since as a direct result from the above thee downsides long-term physical therapy and psychological treatment may be a necessity
5. specifically a drone strike may cause "innocent bystanders" to get some possibly unwanted weed treatment; irregardless I certainly don't mind sharing the wealth
Upsides to the above solutions:
1. both are pretty much permanent and long-lasting (however, if it lasts shorter than 4 years we'll consult a specialist)
2. kill two birds, or a lot more flora and fauna, with one drone-delivered enhanced chemical treatment
Given that I blissfully missed the deadline of the application for modification and given that I also don't feel like preparing another application (paperwork is sooo overrated anyways, better just to forge ahead at full power) I am strongly favoring the solution behind door number 2. The biggest upshot of this choice is that it can be considered regular, albeit a little bit extraordinary and a lot bit unusual, lawn maintenance so no upfront approval is needed from the ever so elusive Board, which will save both you and me precious time. You're welcome!
Naturally this means that some of my previous plans will need to be mothballed. This leaves me a little sad, but it is what it is what it is. And who knows, maybe someday these plans will come to fruition.
In the meantime, we will hack through our front yard jungle on a weekly basis while applying over-the-counter weed & seed on a quarterly basis. Maybe, one day, if everyone, including the common areas, will keep weeds under control our front lawn may look like the football field in Manaus where Team USA is about to play Portugal in #WorldCup2014.
Regards,
Rene

and now we have received two courtesy notices from the new managing agent, so i decided to finally breaking her in!

Hi Noreen,
Firstly let me bid you a warm welcome to the healthy & loving community that is Maristone. I should have done this sooner but there just has not been the right opportunity for it.
Secondly let me ask you to give my regards to your wonderful predecessor, Jessica, who I hope is enjoying whatever it is she is doing now, whether it is managing one of the other communities in Associa's large portfolio or whether it is learning the fine art of origami, or crosspoint stitching, or underwater basket weaving.
Thirdly, let us ruminate on the wonderful missives which our household is excited to receive from time to time. Typically they start out with a reference to courtesy notice and I must admit that this rarely fails to set an unrealistic precedent. Messrs Merriam and Webster teach us that courtesy is defined as 'polite behavior that shows respect for other people' or 'something that you do because it is polite, kind, etc.' whereas notice is defined as 'information that tells you or warns you about something that is going to happen' or 'a statement telling someone that an agreement, job, etc., will end soon'. Now, these notices are rarely courteous and while they do serve as a warning I do not get the impression that they are going to come to an end soon. You may posit that the aforementioned job is part of Section 5.2 owner's responsibility, to which I can assert that I am merely 56/360th owner of the homesite. Taking this into account, I think it is fair to say we are going well above and beyond any expectations.
Fourthly, let me share that I have observed at least one inspection being done before 7am, in October, before Fall Backwards, from a car with tinted windows, which not only seems counter-intuitive but cannot possibly yield any usable evidence of violations whatsoever. The logical conclusion must be that this car is FLIR-equipped, which in turn would explain getting cited for the risqué violation of not having manscaped our bushes and lawns, or made our bed. Some things should be beholden to the privacy of our home.
Fifthly, this stealth vehicle must have also recently missed the obvious caution sign right next to the mailbox proudly holding our house number. I have attached a resized version of a 20.2 MP photograph I took while laying down on the road, effectively risking my life for the cause.

Sixthly, let us agree that personal preferences of aesthetics are wholly subjective and that while you may not particularly care for our 'out-of-control jungle-style rose bushes', they are maintained and have been consistently; the beautiful flowers that are blooming at this very moment are proof of them being groomed to near-perfection.
Seventhly, l will take a break from incessant whining and instead surprise you to let you know I was able to Bing some remedial actions I can take to "treat to kill and remove all the weeds" and you could never guess what it is. I am not the type of person to maintain long periods of suspense, because while pleasure delaying can be very enjoyable, in a professional setting I prefer to be as forthcoming as I am allowed to be. This is not to say, of course, that there are no exceptions to this self-imposed rule and one could argue that this is certainly a suitable candidate. Fair warning, though, do not be surprised to see scrap cars parked on our front lawn for, as it turns out, dispensing used motor oil is a brilliantly effective method of weed control. What it will come down to is to corralling the wreckers strategically to cover any spots with excessive weeds. As far as the costs go, our son has a unique way of bricking cars, which means that we can take his heartaches & headaches and turn them into something for everyone to enjoy.
Eighthly, let us also agree that reckless budget spending is not good business practice, meaning putting in long hours of personal yardstick inspections and snail mailing letters of threat could be construed as less constructive than paying bottom dollar for sub par waste retrieval. Being intimately familiar with budgeting I fully realize a budget can only be spent one time, preferrably in full as to solidfy next year's budget increase. So invest wisely, which is precisely what we do by recycling used cars.
Tenthly, whatever happened to ninthly?
Eleventhly, to freedom!
Twelfthly, once TRUGREEN has finished 10 treatments our lawn should look like a golf course. Granted, with the cars all over it it may look more like a hillbilly's version of midget golf, but those are just minor details.
Thirteenthly, just to round it up to a baker's dozen.
Happy Friday!
Regards,
Rene

the font i used in my email, which the recipient sadly will not be able to see (but knowing i have used it makes up for it), is arial sarcastic (sadly defunct now, but i still have a copy if anyone is interested!), seriously! basically, it is italics, but leaning the other way.

so, the new & improved jessica, let's call her noreen, is either a glutton for punishment, or she is itching for more correspondence, or she is somewhat dense, or she is all of the above, because she/the HOA have sent us a 2nd Notice for Covenants Violation/Warning of Fine!

since we now no longer own our house at 4995 maristone landing way, cumming, ga 30040, and because the hoa decided to be a little bitch i decided to send them one last email, after the close of the sale occurred and after we had left the state. enjoy!

below the email i will send the day after we close on our house and we know we are out of the grip of the evil hoa, but posting this now for everyone to start gloating ...

Dearest Noreen (and errybody else at Homeside Properties/Maristone HOA),
It is with a heavy heart and sadness in my soul that I am writing to you one last time.
As you undoubtedly know, since after all you are consummate professionals, we have sold our home in Maristone 2 (which is, like, the best neighborhood, ever), packed up our belongings, and we are currently on our way west to settle somewhere at the end of the Oregon trail.
However, we will always cherish our time in the Maristone neighborhood with its perfect curb appeal and flawlessly maintained common and private grounds. I believe this can all be traced back to your unrelenting efforts to keep our lovely neighborhoods in pristine condition with both kindness and a strong hand.
An example of the former would be the multitude of safety prevention tips, for example who could forget the urgent suggestion to bring in newspapers as soon as they are delivered in order to thwart exploding bags, especially in winter time?!
An example of the latter would be the numerous violation citations we were delighted to receive, because who can keep track of pest control better than someone from the HOA patrolling the 'hood to measure every front lawn's grass length and illegal growths against an agreed upon common yardstick?! Certainly not pest control or lawn maintenance companies who leave little warning signs all over the yard! And let's not even talk about who should keep tabs on the mulch: its location, its color, its density!
In the end, though, we were thrilled to be on the receiving end of one last success story in preparation for closing on the sale of our temporary forever home: the HOA account statement. The standard community association disclosure stipulates that the seller, me, pays for this even though you explicitly told our listing agent that the Maristone HOA would not require this, over the phone, all the while being courteous and gracious. While I could have opted for the low tech solution of simple taking a screengrab from the HOA's website, we opted for something far more resourceful: have the closing lawyer request a copy with rush delivery to the closing lawyer directly, for the small price of $135.00. Now, I never saw this statement while at the signature ceremony, but I am positive that it was not a Ctrl+P of the online statement, but rather a ledger handwritten with calligraphic quality penmanship, 'cause that's how y'all roll.

To be fair, of course we will miss the Maristone HOA in our new home, where we are also bound to an HOA. But, rather than just using the homeowners as a revenue stream, they have the audacity to do useful things with their budget; like automatic sprinklers in the front yard, a community center, tennis courts, basketball courts, a park, a pool, seasonal events, garbage & recycling collection and whatnot. To top it all off: they charge less! I mean, the nerve of these people?!
Anyway, now the time has come to part ways, say adieu, fare thee well. Know that while we may be out of sight, you will always be in our hearts. Please ensure that you keep doing what you do because it brings limitless joy to those who desperately need it.
With much love, bless your heart!
Rene

thursday february 6thursday february 13tuesday march 25sunday march 30saturday april 12monday april 14monday april 21sunday june 22saturday october 11, 2014thursday april 30monday june 1, 2015monday june 13, 2016

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