Category Archives: Life

Next Day Delivery

Next Day DeliveryI’m sure last night’s snow over the top of our ice has created a number of falls for people today.  I personally heard of three, so can you imagine how many more there were throughout the City?  And of course with this afternoon’s snow, made for all the more treacherous driving.  I noticed two separate one car accidents just as I was driving home this evening, and one of them must’ve really lost control after seeing it straddled motionless across a set of railroad tracks.   I’m certainly in the crowd with all those many others who’re wishing winter was over yesterday.

Most of my day was spent keeping up with sale files that are moving towards their closings.  As much as I appreciate modern technology, today was my day of exceptional frustration with office machines not working correctly, as well as the internet being funked up.  One of my clients was at the office while I was trying to get one of them to work, and I think she got a few giggles over the comedy of it all.   As far as I’m concerned, we have far too many machines and gadgets that have touch screens.  For example, my nearly new microwave at the office decided it was going to add one more minute to whatever time I touch-screened in.  Now today it’s working fine.  Go figure!

After telling a personal story to one of my client/customers today about someone who’s been very abusive to another, I said, “You know, after what I just read, I think I’m going to need some help with finding the perfect noun to brand that person.”  He then said, “Oh, I have a Thesaurus I can borrow if you’d like.”  I had to decline the offer because I doubt there’d be an appropriate name contained within because I’m certain it doesn’t provide names one would ever be calling a human who’s that low.

While waiting for the hour to arrive for showings I had scheduled, I picked up this week’s Economist magazine and started reading an article regarding the technology race between the United States and China.  Only being part way thru it, I’m already thinking we’ve got some serious long-term security problems in our world.

It wasn’t just a day ago when I read an article about how China has implemented an Orwellian form of control/surveillance over their far western province where there are  over 20 million ethnic Muslims.  I can’t imagine how horrible those people’s lives must be with having to endure face recognition cameras everywhere in public, a Chinese military policeman standing at nearly every corner, forced DNA coding, and 24 hour internet and cell phone monitoring.

What was the most scary about that article was that the author believes China is already starting to slowly implement those tried and true practices throughout their country, as well as ready to sell such technologies to other totalitarian governments.  Now if that’s not a global attack on Democracy, I’d like to know what is.

Absolute power being held by a select few in any country/government body is a recipe for generational abuse of its citizens.  Yet those few embrace and promote their iniquitous standards of government control as being “good for all”.  Since we humans fell out of our trees, it’s always been about greed, power, and absolute control. Yes, I do believe we are on a “next day” delivery to a not so far away, 21st century Dark Ages.

A Sterling Sunset

A Sterling SunsetOh how I wish the temps would rise above freezing so to be rid of this exceptionally dangerous ice.  Today it seemed even worse than yesterday with it now getting all the more slippery which is likely due to the wind and sun having an effect on it.

After receiving a phone call this afternoon, I bristled when discovering one of the homes I was scheduled to show tomorrow just happened to get sold last night.  As I mentioned to one who’s not been in the business as long as I have, “We’ll be seeing a noticeable change in the way real estate offices market their new listings.”

I remember a time a very many years ago when there was a shortage of homes on the market and whenever a new listing would appear, it was as if by some magical happing, it had already been sold by either the listing agent, or another agent in their office.  Magic?  Not likely.  It was the old “hold off” on getting a listing contract signed until an office’s agents had time to call all their prospective buyers.  I actually challenged a broker once on their questionable methods, and the answer I got nearly floored me when suddenly God’s Will was included in that broker’s weak excuses.  It’s very interesting how the greed of some can be so easily justified–especially in God’s name.  Some day I’ll have to share a few more stories of people using the Divine as their excuse for doing some of the most unfair and in-equitable things while being perfectly comfortable about it.

One of my showings today went pretty well to where I won’t be surprised if I get a call for a second viewing.  After I got back to the office, I did call the seller and ask that he make a few more cheap-fix repairs that were glaringly visible.  I came to realize many years ago that if I see something wrong, the buyers do too, but they normally don’t comment on it, but rather mentally chalk it up as a larger than need be negative on the home.  Even if buyers live like piggies, they’re just as fussy as clean freaks about the maintenance and cleanliness of homes they’re viewing.  I’ve always considered them to be people in possession of double standards.

Speaking of double standards, I personally know a handful of people who live like hoarding hermits inside their unkempt homes, but when they’re visiting others, they put on the ritz and consider even the smallest of dust bunnies to be life threatening.  I had to chuckle to myself when seeing how two similar people were acting while visiting their  elder relative.  In my opinion, all that fussing and fretting was just for show.

While at the Dollar Store check-out late this afternoon, I certainly got my eyes, ears, and nose full from a very young and by the way, pregnant couple who were buying discounted Valentine’s Day candy. Oh Mercy!  I actually had to stand back about ten steps from them because of their reeking odor.  Their smell reminded me of something akin to sour beer.   His clothes were filthy from head to toe, and she had on a long flowing dress that was dragging on the floor.  But the worst was when they said something between themselves which caused each of them to laugh.  Oh how much I reel whenever seeing people with such greenish-yellow teeth that look like they hadn’t been brushed in months.  And remember, that young woman looked to be about eight months pregnant.  How in Heaven’s name are those two going to be able to provide their child on the way a safe, sound, and secure home environment?

Tonight’s photo is one I took last night which I freely name, “A Sterling Sunset”.  Living on the Plains does provide us with some of the most fabulous sunrises and sunsets. Now see, living in North Iowa does have its positives.

Bucket O’Chiles

Bucket O'ChilesIt was a blessing I managed to get to work this morning before the drizzle turned to sleet.  At least the City was good about spreading sand on the streets so to keep from there being any more fender benders from happening.  I was quick to get that chicken grit spread out in front of my office.  The most unfortunate was hearing that we’re supposed to get more of it starting around 5:00 am tomorrow.

The bulk of my morning was spent working at keeping several sales files moving in the right direction.  As I’ve said a hundred times before, “A home isn’t sold until it’s closed.”  Perhaps I’m a little more prudent than other Realtors with advice I give to sellers to where I go over the normal chain of events from the time they sign their purchase contracts, and up to and thru closings.  In these times, around two thirds of our buyers request inspections on the homes they purchase, and invariably there’s always something coming out of their reports that have to be addressed.

Once past that hurdle comes the appraisal.  Thank goodness I normally don’t have problems with them due to my having done my own market analysis which is similar to an appraisal before a given home is listed with my office.  Unfortunately, during the busy season, we can be waiting weeks for the appraiser to show up.  They’re all given a drop dead time frame, but still they’re late as far as I’m concerned.

All the while these things are going on, the banks are gathering requested documents from the buyers, and that too can be an extended waiting period where landlords and/or employers are not returning verifications of employment along with rent verifications.  Just recently one of my sales fell thru because I suspect the buyer changed jobs during the approval process. Then of course there are also those buyers who believe it’s also time to change vehicles.  Oops.  I’ve seen loans get turned down because a buyer without thinking, got plugged into a much higher car payment which sent the debt to income ratios over their limit which resulted in a loan denial.

It’s too bad we can’t have a system where buyers can get homes they want to purchase inspected prior to making offers, and also sellers getting their homes appraised by bank approved appraisers which in turn can be used by whomever purchases those homes.

And finally, wouldn’t it be nice if a bank would allow buyers to get all their employment and residency information approved beforehand?  I believe it would be possible as long as every buyer makes absolutely no changes in debt load, residency, and employment.  With all these things done ahead of time, we would be experiencing some extra worry-free home sales.  This almost sounds like a beautiful cash sale with no inspections.

You wouldn’t believe it, but I actually made a drive over to Hancock County to show an acreage today.  The roads weren’t as bad as I thought, but still dangerous.  Oh Mercy!  Driving up that lane and walking to that house was so slippery to where I must’ve looked like a 100 year old man trying to keep his baby-step balance.  On my way back into the City I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t believe you went out in this today.”

Between phone calls and appointments, I worked at stripping the hot peppers off plants that’ve been hanging to dry in the basement of my office which have been down there since October.  Having in the past done it enough times, I’ve pretty much got my mechanical methods established.  While stripping them off their dried plants, fond memories of my youth came rushing back.  Yes, I’ve been familiar with nearly all types of hot peppers for a very many years.

The above photo is of what I stripped off today.  I have four more plants to take down and strip, and then comes my next job, which is removing their green stems before they’re all ground.  For sure I’ll have more than enough of my wonderful ground chile peppers to share with whomever would like a small bottle.  It really is quite good, but unless you’re used to it, you must use it sparingly because the heat in mine has a way of creeping up on you.  It’s even good sprinkled on ice cream.  It gives you that creepy cool hot/cold feeling.

What do you think of my bucket o’chiles?

Sun Breaking

Sun Breaking-1Not much was happening on my side of the fence the fence today, and with the weather the way it was, I wasn’t able to get something done that I’d set aside time to do, simply because of it being yet another windy day in North Iowa.  After looking at the weather forecast for tomorrow, I wasn’t a bit happy reading we’re to get sleet at two different intervals over the next 30+ hours, and it’s supposed to start this evening.  I hope everyone will be all the more careful when out on the streets and sidewalks tomorrow.

Early this morning I made a quick trip to one of my favorite out-of-town church services.  While on my way, I happened to notice how there were two layers of clouds in the sky.  One small fast moving group which was hanging very low, and the other being very high.  One stretch of those upper ones had the look of a wide band of a jet trail.  For sure, I’d never seen anything like that before.  I had my camera with me, so I pulled off several times to take a few of the sun and clouds.  North Iowa does possess some of the most striking rural landscapes.

Speaking of rural, I couldn’t help remembering how many of those old farmsteads there used to be in North Iowa, and now so very few of them remaining.  Seems everyone wants to save old barns, but what about those century old homes that seem to be vanishing all the faster.  As far as I’m concerned, there are too few farming families left.  Much of the land is either corporate owned or part of a family’s holdings which I’m sure have also been incorporated.  Yes, I do understand that the margins for profit on smaller farms isn’t enough to make a decent living, but why do nearly all the farmers have to plant corn or beans?  With our soil being some of the richest in the world, one would think an number of our remaining farmers would branch out and begin planting specialty crops.

You’d never believe me if I just threw it out there, but I actually read in a very old farming book that was printed back in the 1870′s that listed the types of crops most Iowans planted during that time.  You’d never guess that wheat was the major crop back then.  Soybeans are relatively new to Iowa farmers, and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not so sure if they started planting it back in the 1960′s.  I’ll have to investigate.

Now just think what would happen if for some reason we had to become self-sufficient in say a year’s time.  We certainly don’t have enough farmers who’re willing to switch from row cropping to livestock.  There are even all the fewer city dwellers who haven’t a clue how to raise animals and certainly ignorant to the ways of processing them.  I’m hoping this 75 year migration of those children from farm families to city life isn’t going to come back and haunt us some day.  I’d like to see a return of a more balanced way of life in our fair State, and then be true to our slogan, “Iowa. A place to grow.”

Tomorrow morning I’m going to have make a stern phone call to a Realtor who left the front door unlocked on one of my listings.  I cringe every time when getting a call from a seller regarding a door standing unlocked or lights left on.  No matter how much I remind agents, they still don’t seem to understand the importance of making sure a home remains in the same state, just as it was before they opened the front door.  I’m convinced much of it is from being distracted by buyers, which is why I nearly always go back and make sure all lights are off and doors locked.

The above photo is one of those I took while on my way to church this morning.  I hope you like it as much as I do. I’m naming it “Sun Breaking”.

Hurried Monday

Hurried Monday-1How in the world did that snowstorm manage to come upon us today without warning?  All I’d been hearing was that our weather was supposed to be pleasant this weekend.  But, while out checking my open house signs earlier and not to my liking, I noticed the  skies were looking far too gray and heavy, and wouldn’t you know it, about a half hour later it started snowing.

One of my appointments this morning was in Nora Springs, so I figured I’d stop and pay a visit to an dear classmate of mine who lives there.  He was only in my class school for one year, but during that time, we must’ve made a memorable impression on each other because a very many years later and after his recent divorce, he decided to move back to Mason City, and actually called me to sell him a home in the area.

My reason for stopping for about a half hour before heading to my appointment, was to just play catch-up since I’d not seen or spoken to him for at least two years.  He’s continuing to make improvements on his home to where it really is quite charming as well as comfortable.  Seemed he wanted to talk more about our old days rather than the here and now which was OK with me.  We did get a few more laughs when talking about some of the crazy things that went on back in our “stone age” days of school.

He must’ve prepared himself for my visit because while there, he pulled out from under his chair an old yearbook.  When I saw it, I immediately said, “Oh no! Here comes another embarrassing moment!”  He went to a page, and handed the book over to me and said, “Can you find yourself?”  Way down towards the end of the page I found a young gentleman whom I guessed to be me because I’d never seen that photo before.  I said him, “My gosh! I didn’t realize I had such a mouthful of teeth and an even wider smile that year.”  I think it was one of those years where my face wasn’t growing fast enough to keep up with my teeth and lips.  We did get a good laugh out of it.   Some have told me in the past how much I’d changed after reaching my 21st year, and after seeing that photo today, I’m in total agreement.

On my way back from Nora Springs after my showing, my fears were confirmed about those reckless drivers on the highway when seeing several cars in the ditch.  While driving over, there were people likely angry with me because I wasn’t going the speed limit, but I didn’t care because I could “feel” how slippery the roadway was from that wet snow.  Oh well, we all must live and learn.

My public open house at 422 S. Tennessee Place was a great success today.  Those in attendance were all showing very good interest.  In fact one of them, when looking at the price must’ve been even more surprised because of the way she was acting after seeing it.  One of the potential buyers that was there whom I’ve known on and off over the years is also showing interest, and as far as I’m concerned she’d be the perfect fit for it.  I’m hoping she’s the one who ends up buying it because if anyone deserves such a great value, it’s her.

Let’s all hope tomorrow’s temps will be above freezing and get our streets melted off before another hurried Monday morning arrives.

Better With Age

Better With AgeWith the wind blowing out of the north today, certainly kept the temps low enough to where we didn’t have any more snowmelt.  At least the sun was shining brightly which always helps.  One of my dear friends who lives out of State mentioned how extra-gloomy her winter has been due to the excessive number of over-cast days they’ve been having.  One of my dear clients fully agreed with me while talking about how we seem to be experiencing all the more wind than we’ve had in years past.  For her, each year it seems to be all the more windy.  I couldn’t agree more fully, yet I still don’t understand why our meteorologists haven’t talked about these changes.  Just think how many tall trees in our area that’ve been either topped-off or completely blown down from the winds these past years.  Those straight-liners coming out of the west have been the most destructive.

The hours of my day went flying by quite quickly with all my scheduled errands around the City.  One of my stops was at a home so to get some exterior and interior photos taken.  What an exceptionally comfortable home!  After finishing up with my room shots, I told the owner it was no surprise it sold before I could even my get photos taken.

Now if some if these homebuilders would use that floor plan as a new construction, it would certainly sell because it wouldn’t be like any of those monster homes that some builders think to be still in style.  They need to get it in their heads that tastes are changing–especially with our younger crowd.  In spite of what some believe, we don’t have that many people living in North Iowa with incomes high enough to support such monstrous monthly mortgage payments.

One of my clients whom I’ve done business with for at least 15 years or more stopped by for a chat, and while talking about this and that, we somehow got on the subjects of respect and trust.  Oh Mercy!  That was quite the debate regarding how and when respect and trust is a given, and when in most cases in today’s society it must be earned.  Every society has mores, or should I say hard-coded traditions regarding interactions within families, along with the general public.  In the old days, we were taught to respect all our elders, but what happens when we’re fully aware of many whose own failures within their families as well as society, far exceed that which even those having ever-forgiving liberal mindsets would consider forgivable, and or acceptable?

These past years I’ve grown to understand, as well as embracing the concept that in most cases, respect along with trust is something that must be hard-earned.  Writing this just now, reminded me of that old Smith-Barney commercial where that old gentleman says, “We make our money the old-fashioned way, because we earn it.”  In these fire-storm times, we must be all the more careful whenever blindly considering someone trustworthy as well as worthy of respect.  What I believe is the driving force of these changes, is the devil-may-care attitude of all those many regarding the acquisition of wealth.  It’s unfortunate that most are now re-aligning their generations-old beliefs regarding family/social mores, but times have changed, and adaptation is all the more necessary for survival.

Since having several hours free this afternoon, I decided it was time to give the wooden floors in my office a good scrub.  It took a bit longer than normal due to the extra work needed to get that tracked in and then dried-on snowmelt junk removed.  After they were dry, I stood back with admiration and was again reminded how those 120+ year old floors can still glow with such a deeply rich beauty which could never be copied with today’s flooring technologies.  I’m ever-thankful I made the decision years ago to have them re-finished.  Some things really do get better with age, don’t you think?

Covered All Sides

Covered All Sides-1Alas the warmer weather is starting to take hold in North Iowa so we can get rid of much of our lingering ice and snow.  I’m sure once the old stuff is melted, any additional snow here on out will be short lived.

I had another “soft landing” closing today on a home which had a number of offers on it over the months, but couldn’t seem to get together on price.  I’m just happy the sellers are content with what it sold for so they can now move on with their lives.  Since the ground is still frozen solid, after about 20 minutes of work, I did manage to get my sold sign out of their yard before going to closing.

While waiting for the buyers to finish up with their side, the sellers and I happened to get on the subject of the recent school shootings in Florida.  It seems these incidents are becoming all the more frequent across the United States to where I’m convinced there’s something very wrong with the way in which children are being reared.  Yes, there have always been those “bad seeds” throughout history, but in these times, there appears to be all those many more of them.

What creeped me out a bit was the seller saying she believes there are one possibly two students in our City’s school system who have that type of evil lurking within, while saying it’s almost as though you can see that devilment in their eyes along with they way they carry themselves.  Now think about it and tell the truth when I ask, “Have you ever had an exceptionally uncomfortable feeling about a small few when crossing paths with them?”  It’s almost as though they radiate evil.

On the flip side, I just happened to hear several days ago about recent happenings in the life of a young man.  Not so many years ago I encountered him at a closing of a home I had listed. Just sitting there and casually noticing his demeanor, I soon discovered he to be one of society’s “radiators”.  At the time while driving away from the bank, I thought to myself, “He’s going to be a magnet for some chosen young lady out of the crowd and reel her in by hook, line, and sinker.”  Without making any more clarifications on his present situation, all I can say is that he married VERY well.  Don’t ask me why I believed he possess that ability from one casual encounter, other than I’d say he had that “look” and mannerism of a gold digger.  Hearing about his recent rise in socio-economic status, I couldn’t help but remember what an old Jewish businessman once said to me which went something like, “Be sure to marry for money, because you’ll always learn to love them.”

Since since hearing the weather is supposed to be markedly warmer this weekend, I do hope you all are spreading the word about the open house I’ll be having on Saturday at 422 S. Tennessee Place here in Mason City.  It’s really a great buy.

Late this afternoon I ran into a young man who has a full time job, but also does freelance writing on the side.  He announced that he’s getting more work and hopes some day to be a full-time journalist.  I congratulated him, but also shook my finger at him while telling him that if he’s going to get into reporting news, he must pretend as though his subject is in the middle of a four-way intersection, and be sure to visit all four “corners”, then knowing he’s covered all sides of the subject before sending his findings to print.  He actually thanked me for my advise, and I could tell that when I said it, there was a sort of illumination that was taking place within.  So glad I had the opportunity to visit with him and relay my encouragements.