* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are usually in favor of whatever makes it a beautiful day in our neighborhood, particularly during the holidays. Which of course is the whole mission of your friendly homeowners association.

A Letter From Your Friendly Homeowners Association

By: Melissa Darcey

Dear Smith Family,

Your friendly Homeowners Association would like to welcome you, the newest residents of Apple Orchard Estates, to the community. Three months have passed since you first moved in and we see you have settled in quite comfortably. We understand that, as new residents, you possibly aren’t aware of the rules and standards that we have set in place to help maintain the class of Apple Orchards Estates and to distinguish it from, say, a trailer park or bohemian nudist colony.

Over the past few months, we’ve noticed some occurrences that do not adhere to our rules. As this is your first warning, you will have two weeks to make appropriate changes. A second warning will result in a fine and suspension from the clubhouse. If a third warning is sent, we will enforce martial law and do what we please with your property (as an example, see the Apple Orchard Dog Park on lot 42).

Below is a list of documented issues that do not adhere to our policies:

1. Last week, the grass on your lawn was three inches high. All grass must be two inches high. Grass taller or shorter ruins the synchronization of everyone’s lawns. We wish to maintain a peaceful flow and you’d be shocked at how an inch can disrupt an entire community!

2. It appears you have an apple tree growing in your back yard. May we remind you that while our community is called Apple Orchard Estates, we do not allow fruit trees of any kind. You must understand that we do not wish our community to resemble a farm or labor field. Our residents are respected lawyers, doctors, and architects — not apple pickers or gardeners. We have a lovely Whole Foods down the road where you can purchase fruit.

3. Your front door is currently a deep mahogany brown. Based on the sample we scraped a few weeks ago, the paint appears to be Valspar #302. If you refer to the handbook, it states that front doors must only be painted Valspar #301 or #300. You’d be shocked at how one slightly darker shade can dampen the spirits of community members!

4. Last month, a neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous heard The Beatles playing loudly from your house at 11:32 p.m. Perhaps you forgot that on page 22 of the handbook it states that no music should be played after 8 p.m. and rock music shouldn’t be played after 4 p.m. (although you’ll find that most residents don’t need the cacophony of banging instruments to enjoy their day). While we cannot stop you from listening to music quietly or with headphones, we do not encourage it.

5. Two weekends ago, your young child was heard “giggling” (as it was described) while at the community pool. However gleeful he may be, our community members do not appreciate voices of a high pitch at the clubhouse. This includes the children’s pool and playground. We would also prefer he leave the inflatable arm floats at home. If he can’t swim without them, perhaps his time in the water should be limited to the bathtub.

6. For two weeks in December, a decorated pine tree was clearly visible in your front window. We do not tolerate any forms of bigotry and ask that you do not force the Christian holiday on anyone in the community. Appropriate holiday decorations include non-religious wreaths on the front door or two poinsettia plants by the front entrance. Please do not do both. No decorations can include mythical creatures like snowmen with faces, Santa Claus, or reindeer with red noses.

7. On December 30, there was a four-inch circle of oil left on your driveway for 17 minutes. While we appreciate your removing it, page 59 of the handbook clearly states that no oil should drop on any roads or surfaces within the community. The best way to avoid this is to invest in a new vehicle (please contact us a for a list of recommended models and colors).

8. Speaking of vehicles, the green Toyota Corolla must go (it’s a 2011, so we assume that you are already planning on upgrading). We strongly suggest only American-made vehicles (sedans and crossovers only, please — we feel there is no need for SUVs, trucks, or vans, and you shouldn’t need eight seats as we have a limit on how many people can occupy a home). While your vehicle does not have to be a specific color (we do allow some individuality, after all!), there is a permit required for vehicles that aren’t either black or pearl. The permit is $89 a month and is not tax deductible.

9. As animal lovers ourselves, we regret to inform you that your Siberian husky is not on the list of permitted dogs. Regardless of where you purchased the dog, we do not allow pets from certain Eastern regions, including, but not limited to, Russia, Mongolia, Ukraine, Belarus and any country that ends in “stan.” There is a wonderful animal shelter located just a few miles away.

10. We understand the pleasures of a home-cooked meal, but we’ve been notified that you have cooked red meat on an outdoor grill at least three times. Many of our residents are vegans and we would like you to respect their lifestyle choices. While you may not take issue with eating something that was once a free, living being, we ask you to be courteous enough not to make your neighbors an accessory to murder. Please cook all meats indoors. If you wish to grill outside, may we suggest portobello mushrooms? They’re quite divine. Trader Joe’s also has an excellent meatless chicken.

11. Finally, is the Mrs. of the house of an exotic descent? We’re concerned about the volume and density of curls in her hair that appear, unfortunately, to be natural. Our board’s Style Consultant believes the look is outdated and reflective of the chaotic 1980s. While we believe in self-acceptance, a hair straightening treatment would greatly improve her overall appearance. While she is free to choose any salon of her choice, we highly suggest she select one from our list (see page 112 of the handbook).

We look forward to seeing your changes! If you have any questions, do no hesitate to reach out to us. Please know that by making the appropriate changes, not only are you benefiting your own property and life choices, but you are also helping the entire community.


Apple Orchards Estates Homeowners Association

P.S. The china set you were looking at yesterday on the Pottery Barn website would look much better in ivory than azure. We updated the color selection in your wishlist.