We Need to Support the Committee Structure at The Cloister


When we bought our Cloister home we were handed a huge folder of papers that accumulated starting at the time when this development was being built, the owners were the first purchasers of our current Cloister home, we were the second.

Things appeared to be done by homeowner/volunteers who contributed their efforts where needed and where they had an interest. Today The Cloister is very fortunate to have a wonderful group of committee volunteers but many have been doing what they do for a long time and I feel they can use the support of we newer residents.

I served on the HOA Board and was Chairperson of the committee to schedule the volunteer podiatrist who visits the clubhouse every second month and provides foot inspection and toenail trimming for $30 for a session. After several years I gave that job up to another volunteer and decided I would volunteer my efforts to publish a hopefully useful blog website of use to the community.

The last two Chairpersons of the “Grounds and Beautification” Committee were not very happy troopers. Neither stayed in that position after they realized the utter difficulty of changing anything or getting anything done that did not make some group of residents unhappy, I was told by both of them that neither could take any significant action without strict oversight by the elected board President who authorized all committees and selected the committee chairpersons and members. The Grounds and Beautification Committee is now merged with the ARMS (Architectural Review and Maintenance) committee. Maybe we need a resurrected Grounds and Beautification Committee consisting of several people who were willing to put in the effort and put up with the hassle because they will not be able to satisify everyone!!!!

See my previous post on The Cloister Committee structure: https://cloisterliving.wordpress.com/2011/12/27/cloister-home-owners-association-standing-committees-contribute-to-the-cloister-experience/

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A Response to A Need to Consider Other Values at the Cloister

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Careful readers of the contributions of John Eley will notice several extreme assumptions regarding decisions taken by several HOA Board members. Mr Eley’s statements are in RED

There is nothing to support the following statement…..

Mr. Eley: a perspective that regards  low  cost maintenance as the supreme value and objective of the Cloister Board.

We see no indication that any other values are regarded as legitimate or worthy of serious consideration.

I think “fixation” and “obsession” are extreme descriptors and tend to shut off any dialog and don’t fit in any problem solving mode.

Mr. Eley: It is not at all clear that Cloister owners share this single mindedness.To many owners this fixation, or as some call it “obsession” with less expensive maintenance produces planting rules that sacrifice too many important values.

There is room for serious differences in the judgement of what is beautiful,   preservation vs renewal, and some remote impression regards health benefits of plants and trees,and considering stubby tree trunks sticking out of the ground with  all major limbs amputated considered beautiful

Mr. Eley: Many owners have expressed grave reservations about a mind set that does not include the value of beauty, the preservation of nature, the health benefits of plants and trees, and the joy that gardening and being surrounded by beautiful trees brings to the hearts of residents, especially those who have come to the Cloister after years of dedicated efforts to develop and preserve the natural environments around their homes.

The above statements remind me of the extremeism of the tree-huggers of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Some of them would “spike trees” which would threaten the safety of working loggers. They sometimes won. The rabid of those bought homes in the wilderness and now watch as overgrowth and old growth decayed trees fuel wild fires that are consuming their homes.

Let’s tone these things down a bit!

Stealth Inflation….Hidden Price Increases


Sometimes inflation and food costs will sneak up on us. This is what is happening with reduced amounts in packaged products….

Product Old Size New Size % Difference
Hebrew National franks 12 oz. 11 oz. -8.3%
Classico pesto 10 oz  8.1 oz  -19%
Chicken of the Sea salmon 3 oz. 2.6 oz. -13.3%
Lanacane first aid spray 113 grams 99 grams -12.4%
Scott toilet tissue 115.2 sq. ft. 104.8 sq. ft.  -9%
Häagen-Dazs ice cream 16 oz. 14 oz  -12.5%
Kirkland Signature (Costco) paper towels 96.2 sq. ft. 85 sq. ft. -11.6%
Kraft American cheese 24 slices 22 slices -8.3%
Tropicana orange juice 64 oz. 59 oz. -7.8%
Ivory dish detergent 30 oz. 24 oz. -20%

Bonney and I have tried a number of things to reduce food cost, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t……

We Buy some things in bulk. First we check the unit price. How much per ounce, roll, sheet, etc. We have discovered that sometimes the bigger package does not save us money. And with only two of us we find that if we buy too much of fresh food products the food will spoil.

We Shop at warehouse clubs. Though it might require a bit of money up front (up to $50 a year), warehouse clubs offer per-unit prices that are lower than at most supermarkets. Have memberships at Sams and Costco and we buy mostly dry goods, cleaning, and paper products. Sometimes we buy chicken and pork in bulk and repackage using zip-lock bags and freeze them. We have discovered that beef does not freeze well. Single? Maybe live-alone neighbors can split the cost of a membership and split large items that might spoil before they have time to eat them. If you just can’t afford a membership, ask friends and neighbors if you can tag along when they go. Most clubs allow members to bring a friend.

We Read labels–and not just for the calories. Those labels on store shelves tell you more than the retail price; they also allow you to compare prices. Look for the unit price, which is often smaller and in the corner. It will tell you how much the item costs per ounce, pound, etc. Usually, the price is lower per unit for larger boxes.

We Buy mostly off brands. We splurge on name brands for a few favorite products, and buy store brands for the rest.

We Shop elsewhere. Farmers markets, and stores such as Aldi, and Dollar General  selling a private line at cheap prices. We find that Aldi canned foods contain almost all product while private label goods at Kroger contain a lot of liquid instead of product. I have heard people brag on value of Dollar General private label canned vegetables and fruits.

And we use in-store and manufacturers’ coupons, credit cards that offer cash back or perks, and in-store discounts for loyal customers.

We try to stay with fresh foods, usually the less processing a product has, the lower the cost, regardless of the package size. Bonney and I love a heaping spoonful of chuncky peanut butter with a sugar-free chocolate syrup coating rather than a candy bar. Both calories and carbs are lower along with a lower cost!

A Great Pot Luck Dinner on Tuesday

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What a great Pot Luck Get-together! Attendance was so large that chairs had to be set up at the ends of tables to seat everybody. Our Pot Luck committee announced they will have to set up more tables next time.

We had two resident musicians playing piano in the background. Many of our new residents don’t know of a number of world famous residents at The Cloister. One of the extraordinary pianists entertaining us was Dr. Matthew Kennedy, former Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the choir at Nashville’s Fisk University that was formed in the 1860’s and continues to today. His fingers fly over the keys and he knows by heart almost any song you can request.

Dr. Kennedy

There is a modest $4 per person charge to cover expenses and cost of the main entree, fried chicken and roast pork this time. If you haven’t done so….try the next pot luck.

Blood Pressure and what the Readings Mean?


At one time Mary Eng, a resident, retired nurse and neighbor, would station herself at the clubhouse every week or so and do blood pressure readings for her Cloister neighbors. She doesn’t do that any more but inexpensive devices are available that allow us to take our own blood pressure. The big problem for me is knowing exactly what the pressure readings mean? When others take my blood pressure I will usually get the comment; “good”, “high”, or “low” along with two numbers. There is a chart that has been very useful to me.

In my experience when two people measure my blood pressure they will come up with different results. I measure my blood pressure at home using a wrist device sold by Walgreens, even then, if I move the wrist cuff even slightly I will come up with different results each time I measure my blood pressure.  We have two blood pressures: the systolic that measures blood pressure in you artery when your heart contracts, and the much lower diastolic reading that measures the pressure when your heart relaxes.

I have used arm cuff meters in the past but the wrist meter is more convenient altho the pressure reading varies somewhat depending the position of the cuff on the wrist. As a result there can be a range of values depending on who measures and what with. I measure every day or two while the meter holds many day’s worth of values so I can scan past results. I also compare to what they read at the Dr.s office or the readings done at the TGIT event at the Jewish Community Center next door.

Here is a Blood Pressure Chart. If you are perfectly “Normal” your blood pressure is 115/75. The chart gives us an idea where each of us stand regarding blood pressure.