Friday, April 27, 2012

Advantages of Condo Living

There is much to be said for condo living. Let me name a few positive aspects:

1/ Security
You’re not alone in a house, and vulnerable to burglars; you have neighbors close at hand. Many condo associations provide guards and locked gates for extra security. Of course, you still need to take normal precautions—lock your doors, prevent wide-open windows on the ground level and not leave your wallet by the pool. Condominiums often provide special cages for bicycles and boats, or storage areas that can be rented.

2/ Minimal Maintenance
You need no longer mow the lawn or rake the leaves. Nor do you have to fix the roof or paint the house. Of course, you’re still in charge of you interior condo space, which you can paint and decorate to your heart’s content. When it comes to structural changes, however, or replacing windows and porch lighting, or anything that affects the outside appearance, you’ll need the Board’s approval. Condos are required to have CC&Rs that specify what owners can and cannot do.

3/ More Amenities
Condo amenities are often a great plus. Many condos have pools, large gardens, exercise rooms, tennis courts, and a clubhouse that can also be rented for private events.  Our condo pool is heated year round to a comfortable 84ยบ, the clubhouse has an excellent kitchen and Barbeque area, a room for Ping Pong and another one for games. In the living room you’ll find a fireplace, library and wide-screen TV. It also has a wood shop with superb machinery for expert craftsmen.

4/ Free to Travel
Condo living makes it easy to travel. You lock the door and leave. No worry about telltale signs that you’re gone, no throwaway papers, no unkempt lawn.

5/ Location
Condos are often built in desirable locations, near a beach, lake, golf course, or park. You find them downtown close to employment and shopping. It’s wise to rent a condo first to see if it’s to your liking.

6/ Neighbors
Having a good neighbor can be a blessing in a million ways.  After all, we are primarily a sociable species. Good relations with your neighbors are especially important when only a wall separates you. On the other hand, if your neighbor causes you frequent annoyance and nightmares, then the proximity of others can becomes a definite con.

We’ll get to the CONS on Tuesday.

Rosi McIntosh

Monday, April 23, 2012

Considering Condo Living

Live in a condo?

Banish the thought, I used to think. I like a garden and lots of space to plant fruit trees, flowers and vegetables.

I did get a garden and planted strawberries, yams and apricot trees. They were just about to bear fruit when the unexpected happened; I injured my foot and was on crutches.

After six months on sticks and still no end in sight my daughters suggested that I move to a condo. Those 28 steps to my front door and all the gardening were getting me down.

To my surprise, I liked condo living; there was an elevator, a manager to make repairs, and gardeners to mow and blow. My children were grown, but by the warm pool I could laugh with the kids of other residents. Best of all, the condo had extensive grounds. I’ve counted over a 100 trees—decorative trees—and hundreds of bushes and flowers that I didn't have to take care of.

Before long, someone nominated me to be on the board; five volunteers manage the complex of 200+ units. Having received much kindness and help at one time or another, it seemed like a good idea. It’s gratifying to give, more so than to receive.

The first meeting of the new directors was to assign the five positions—president, treasurer, secretary, V.P. of buildings, and V.P. of grounds. Nothing easier; or so I thought. But a kind neighbor warned me that it might be a long night.

So I decided to take some sewing along. Keeping my hands busy works better than a pacifier or a tranquilizer; besides, it puts me in a happy frame of mind to know I'm getting something done.

It turned out to be a lively meeting! Two members were determined to be president and two vied to be treasurer, all four were talking at the same time. I quietly sowed, blessing my neighbor for warning me, when one of the ladies noticed my presence and asked, “Ros, which position do you NOT want?” “Gardening might be a bit tough,” I replied, pointing to my crutches. And the debate continued.

After an hour and a half they reached a consensus, and the same lady turned to me matter-of-factly and said, “Ros, you’ll be V.P of Grounds.” At a loss for words I simply nodded and packed away my sewing.

This was many years ago. I’m no longer on crutches and am still V.P. of Grounds, the only resident entitled to putter around in the garden. Yes, I do like condo living!

Rosi McIntosh

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chew & Stay Slim

Ah, the joys of good food! I rejoice at the mere thought of a delicious meal and eat five times a day, but thanks to Mother’s wise council I never gain weight.

I grew up in Germany during World War II when food was severely rationed and we children were always hungry, especially after our tiny meals. I still remember Christmas dinner, a year and a half after the war, as a very happy and special event because we were allowed to eat all the potatoes with salt we wanted.

It must have been torture for Mother not to be able to feed her kids. So she came up with a Golden Rule: we had to eat everything with utmost awareness and great gratitude. “Take smaller bites,” she would admonish us, “and chew each bite at least thirty times on each tooth!” And we did.

Mother’s plan worked well; the food on our plate lasted longer and we felt less hungry when we got up from a meal. Her Golden Rule may well rank as one of the best ways to enjoy food and stay slim.

Doctors will tell us today that there are two good reasons for eating slowly:
   1/ Many vitamins and minerals are absorbed right in the mouth, and
   2/ it takes about ten minutes for food to reach the stomach and signal to the brain that it’s full. Eating slowly cuts down considerably on the amount we eat.

Early habit rarely change. I am still a very slow eater. And so is my brother. While others are on their third helping, we’re about halfway through with our first. We both love food, never diet and rarely gain weight.

The food shortages continued for many years after the war. When our school served us a bowl of noodle soup at lunchtime thanks to the wonderful American Marshall Plan, school became downright tolerable.

Sometimes I wonder whether it was the lack of cigarettes and the scarcity of food that kept people relatively healthy—sugar and fat, meat and diary products were practically unobtainable, and big meals were unheard of. Or perhaps it was just the lack of doctors during and after the war that we didn’t see a doctor for years.

Mother’s Golden Rule may be simple, but it certainly works: Take small bites and chew each one 30 times on each tooth.

Happy mealtimes,
Rosi McIntosh

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Outwitting Old Man Trouble

Old Man Trouble often lurks where we least expect him — like yesterday. My friends were all set for a barbeque, when a sudden gust carried everything except the meat to their neighbors—Old Man Trouble!  Nonetheless, with everyone pitching in we had a delightful meal and much laughter.

The phrase, Outwitting Old Man Trouble, was coined by my son-in-law’s grandfather, Charlie Stuart, a spirited and wise old man with a great deal of wit. I’m better at forestalling troubles deliberately, which I did for 25 years as a Risk Management consultant with Warren/McVeigh, writing also their worldwide handbook, Practical Risk Management that deals with all sorts of mundane troubles—warehouses burning down, employees suing for sexual harassment, underwater pipes spouting oil… The handbook was subscribed to in 34 countries.

When I didn’t have to write for bread and butter anymore, I wrote books. The first one, Live, Laugh & Learn, illustrates my adventures coming to this glorious country thanks to a scholarship from thoughtful Senator Fulbright. In The Madman and His Mistress I wrote about my childhood; I grew up under Hitler, who used to promote himself as sent by God to lead the world. Thank heaven he never succeeded!

He proclaimed a 1,000-year Reich, but it lasted only twelve, which, if you ask me, was by far too many! 

I barely began writing my memoirs when I discovered that I knew next to nothing about Hitler, the man who controlled everything we did or couldn’t do, what we said or couldn’t say, even what we were to think or not to think.

So I spent two years researching his life that was painfully pieced together after the war, a most bizarre story, much of it still little known today; Hitler was a master at spinning tales! The Madman and His Mistress (The Madman being Hitler, and his Mistress the German people) rose to 4th place among’s historical novels.

America has changed much since I arrived on its shores. 
Still, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! 

More soon,
Rosi McIntosh

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Who’s going to win the next election? We won’t know for several months.

The outcome matters a lot, though often in imperceptible, unpredictable and long-range ways.
In Germany, dramatic and traumatic changes came about with Hindenburg’s election in 1932. Paul von Hindenburg, the beloved former field marshal and the second president of the young German Republic, had been persuaded to run for reelection. It was a reassuring choice for the voters. He was conservative and well known, but he was 84 and in poor health. Consequently, his advisors urged him to seek the support of Germany’s strongest party.
Whether we are 25 or 85, it’s usually quite desirable to get all the support we can get. So Hindenburg made a deal with the party— in exchange for their support, he’d take their spokesman into the Chancellery. The party was the German Nationalsozialisten; their spokesman was Adolf Hitler.
Did Hindenburg’s advisors ever take a good look at Hitler? Why weren’t they concerned about his bigoted speeches and his questionable background?
Did they know about his lack of education, his abysmal grades and dropping out of school? He stayed home with his mom, slept until noon and lived off her small pension.
Did they know about his false claim to be a student at the Vienna Academy of Art in order to get an orphan’s pension, even though the Academy had rejected him?
In the Hindenburg advisors’ defense I must admit that Hitler had kept all these unpalatable facts of his past carefully concealed. Today we know that he even had murdered those who knew—it was still the Dark Age before Google.
At the time, Hitler was known solely for his hypnotic speeches and for promising what most people desperately needed—work, bread and security. Germany was deeply in debt, the government had collapsed, and over a third of the population suffered stark unemployment and starvation. The rest is history.
More later this week.
Rosi (Roswitha) McIntosh