Category Archives: Life

Filthy Pennies

Filthy PenniesThe activity on Prairie Place on 1st is gaining momentum to where I believe we’ll be seeing some purchase agreements written soon.  The more I’m there and becoming familiar with all the little extras being offered, the more the general public over 55 years of age absolutely MUST realize those condominiums are the best to be had in North Iowa.

One thing I did discover today which is yet another example of how technology has gone to the next level, is whenever there’s a visitor at the front entry which has a computerized entry system for residents, that’s all the guest of say, “John Doe” has to do, is scroll to John’s name and push a fully displayed button that has the symbol of a phone on it.  When the owner of the unit answers their home or cell phone and wants the door unlocked for that person, that’s all he or she has to do is press “9″ on their phone and the front door unlocks automatically.  Now that’s a welcome break from intercoms!

While picking up some paper towels at Fareway over the lunch hour, I looked for that rack of Sterzing potato chips and it was gone.  I thought, “Oh No! They’re not selling them anymore.”  But then I went on a hunt knowing full well they wouldn’t have pulled them for lack of interest.  Luckily I did find them and they’re now located at the end of the produce section near the “employee only” entrance.

While looking at them, I thought of someone Downtown whom I figured would appreciate them so I grabbed a bag, and later dropped them off at her office saying, “I’m sure you’ll be as amazed by these chips as I’ve been.”  I couldn’t believe she already knew about them from someone she knows along with saying, “He’s raved about them for years.”  I’m glad there are others in our City who appreciate good taste.

The above photo is of the first page of a very old abstract of title I spoke about several days ago.  Just looking at the dates entered takes my thoughts back to days of no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and no centralized heating or cooling systems–especially refrigeration.  It would be fun to be transported back in a time machine to those years and spend maybe a week or more and participate in a sort of “time transported learning vacation” to where all the little things we take for granted in our lives are suddenly gone.  I think most would be freaked out when seeing how foods along with meats were preserved for winter use.

Realizing I was needing a few supplies from our “Save Big Money At…” store, I made a quick in, grabbed what I needed, and then to the checkout.  Now please don’t think me wicked, but that young lady was standing there looking half dazed and chewing the biggest wad of gum in a fashion resembling a goat.  I kept thinking to myself, “Don’t look or you may say something you’ll regret.”  I paid with cash and when she handed me my change, the most disgustingly filthy penny was in with it.  I handed it back to her and said, “I don’t do filthy pennies.” and walked out.

I’m sure that at least made her stop that goat grinding with that wad of gum for at least a moment or two.  I’m still ever thankful for being enrolled in a  school system I attended for having a hard and fast rule of no gum chewing during school hours.  Watching and listening to some with their mouths full of gum can grow exceptionally irritating.  I’m still wondering what that clerk did with that filthy penny.

Humility and Charity

Humility and CharityFrom early this morning, yours truly was on a near non-stop timetable of appointments an errands.  The appointments went well, and my two public open houses had more visitors than I’d expected.  After thinking about it, the two that were open which was 107 S. Rhode Island, and 2040 Hunters Ridge Drive, are both priced to sell and in great neighborhoods.  I may be sounding overly confident, but I’m looking to have them sold before the end of this week.

Yesterday I was thinking about a past customer of mine whom I run into from time to time, and always seems to get me to smile and laugh when giving his opinion on random topics.  He doesn’t know that I fully understand the struggles he’s having after his recent divorce and now forced to balance shared custody of children.  I give him credit for staying outwardly “up” with his added responsibility along with greater financial burdens now there’s only one another bread winner in the household.  Since I’ve known him for a number of years, I can sense there are inward fears building.

The next time we cross paths, I’ll likely be ready to repeat something my Grandmother used to say which goes:


If you keep your nose to the grindstone rough,

And keep it down there long enough,

In time you will forget there are such things,

As brooks that babble and birds that sing;

And only three things will all your world compose:

Yourself, the grindstone, and your poor old nose.


Those words will be a positive and laughable way to tell him to stop worrying about his new burdens and re-open his hatches to happiness.  I know too well how split families with children can be filled with anxiety and more sooner than later transfer onto their children.  I do wish the best for him while continuing to hope he and his children will be all the better going forward in their lives.

Since I did have some time after my last appointment, I decided to take a long drive to one of my favorite churches in North Iowa.  While driving there I couldn’t help but notice all the more Queen Anne’s Lace and wild parsley in ditches and pastures. There’s no question the green areas of our Counties are becoming over-run by those nasty plants.  Not only are we at battle with European Buckthorn, but now there are two more battle fronts being opened by those invasive plants that don’t belong here.

There was a new minister at my favorite church who gave a thought provoking sermon regarding humility and charity.  He was quick to mention how true humility has no negative connotations, but closer to someone who is willing to serve, teachable, and lowly of heart.

His take on charity was similar to mine in that  true charity has no strings attached and given in a quiet and non-prideful manner.  Just think about how many along with familiar organizations in North Iowa who set themselves out as being charitable, but ever-quick to let everyone know what they’ve really not so freely done because they’re driving attention to themselves and their businesses.  More than once I’ve sent “thank you” notes to be passed on to anonymous donors at area churches and charities.

My drive may have been long, but it was worth being re-introduced to those two nearly forgotten words–humility and charity.  I believe they are words all parents of young children must work at learning, understanding, and sharing within their households.

Games of Numbers

Games of NumbersCertainly you all must agree that it was an absolutely beautiful day in North Iowa. There were likely a few who considered the north wind being a bit too cool and breezy, but for me, it was near perfect to the point of considering our City to be the last northern outpost of paradise.

While driving to work this morning, I looked up at the western sky and noticed the near full moon still visible.  It made me think of a comment one of my customers made recently about how much he likes being outdoors at night during the time of the full moon.  If the location is right, being outside and looking up at a full moon can be hauntingly beautiful.  According to some in law enforcement, as well as those working at all night convenience stores, the public seem to be all that much more intense.

My early morning took me to Clear Lake to show a home to a customer who’s been looking for months now for what he considers to be the “right fit”.  Since I’ve shown him so many, I’m pretty much up to speed regarding what type of home the right fit will be.  He’s never far from my thoughts whenever I see a new listing come on the market.  Hopefully there’ll be more continuity in the pricing of homes when Fall arrives, because as far as I’m concerned, the prices have been all over the map since Winter ended.

Every morning I brace myself before I open up the online news in fear one more crazy thing having happened in our world–especially if it concerns North Korea or Russia. The more I look at the whole picture of our world’s current events, I’m seeing democracy falling more out of fashion and dictatorships along with totalitarian regimes becoming more widespread.  Even in Europe we’re seeing more right-wing movements in Poland and Hungary to where they’re being scrutinized by their “sister” States in the EU.

While on a short lunch break yesterday, I happened to read a chilling article about how many of our younger professionals and semi-professions are leaning towards scary alt-right wing mentalities.  Some think it’s laughable, but I don’t because if we allow the number “alt” mentalities continue to grow on both sides of the spectrum, the moderates won’t have enough votes to keep them under control.  It’s too scary to even consider what end results we could possibly be seeing in a future that’s in spitting range.

Just these past six months, I’ve been getting some phone calls from local numbers, and when I answer, it’s usually a woman saying something like, “Hi. This is Melanie from the rewards center…”.  Of course I hang up after a second or two.  But then just yesterday, an elderly lady called my office saying, “I just received a call from your number.  What did you want?”  I couldn’t help but say and I’m sure she didn’t believe me, “I’m sorry I didn’t call you.”  But what creeped me out all the more was late this afternoon when getting a call from a landline number I recognized and when I picked up, it was another “Melanie” telemarketer.

There’s no question in my mind the computers are getting far too sophisticated to where somehow, they’re piggy-backing on real numbers when calling.  These games of numbers the spammers and telemarketers are using is getting far too out of hand to where it’s high time the FTC steps in and puts a complete halt to their practices.  Can you imagine how many of our innocent elderly are getting duped by their calls?

Onions and Potatoes

Onions and Potatoes-1It was a rewarding day for another buyer who just purchased a home thru my office. I’m not sure who was the most excited–her or me. Moments like this morning’s are what keep me happy about being a Realtor in spite of dealing with all the extra paperwork and of course the omnipresent competition. Long ago I realized that as soon as one of my competitors retired, another one would sprout up in its place. That’s when I realized it was just one of the hard-coded modus operandi facts of life for a real estate broker, and then was OK with it.

I’m finding all the more buyers this year wanting to be located on acreages or bodies of water. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a signal telling us they’re wanting to get back to the basics. Acreages provide distance from , and water creates a primeval urge going back to mankind’s beginnings, and I fully understand where they’re coming from.

Just take a look at the people with real money and the amount they spend on building their fiefdom-size acreage settings. I’ve seen some real monsters being built out in the countryside these past 10 – 15 years. Of course we can’t forget the number of giant lakeshore homes in Clear Lake that have been built during those same years. What’s all the more crazy, is that they’re buying existing half million dollar or more existing homes and then scraping them off to make room for their waterfront castles.

Some day I hope to have a charming cottage-style home located on a body of water. I’m not considering anything monster-sized, but rather something exceptionally well built, tastefully designed, and above all, comfortable. I’m not part of that “look at what I have” circle, and hope to never be. Too many people live in homes just for the “show” of it all without considering practicality or basic comfort.

On the flip side, I also know many who live in homes where they do the absolute minimum of maintenance, and yet have suitcases full of cash they’re hoarding for some unexplainable reason. They are the ones who believe their money they will give them extended years of life, while for others it’s all about legacy. Whenever I get pulled into a conversation by someone wanting to talk about their legacy, I desperately try to tune them out and think of something else until they’re finished with their tedious and time consuming tales of their monetary legacies.

A dear one happened to pop into my office this afternoon to tell me about her garden. From the sound of it, she’s harvesting wonderful potatoes and onions. I gave her a heads up in how to create a real meal using only fresh potatoes, onions, and bacon. I told her to boil and mash the potatoes, dice the onions and fry them until they’re honey gold, and then fry some strips of really good bacon, and then cut them into small button-sized pieces. Add enough real butter, salt, and pepper to taste to the potatoes, and then fold in the onions and bacon. My preferred accompanying beverage is a cold glass of sweet buttermilk compliments of Anderson Erickson.

I hope she tries it because I’m already getting hungry while writing about it. It’s a simple yet tasty option for someone to create a hearty evening meal when in possession of an abundance of fresh onions and potatoes.

All the More Incentive

All the More Incentive-1As we’re marching into the month of August, I’m already finding people subtly preparing for the arrival of our yearly time of cold and darkness.  I’ve been hearing a few whispers from some regarding what they’re going to be doing next summer.  Wow!  I understand looking towards the future, but wouldn’t it to be all the more in one’s best interest to enjoy each day to its absolute fullest?  Yes I do understand, because at certain times of the day recently, the angle of the sunlight appears more Fallish.

You do remember just recently my speaking about choosing to not enter a drive-thru and subsequently stopping it because my experiment was over?  Today I entered the drive-thru at a bank and I could see the familiar teller being a bit different than she normally would be while doing my walk-in visit.  I was waiting for her to say something like, “So you don’t like walking in to see us anymore?”  I’m sure she had her own thoughts as to why I suddenly started entering the “cattle stalls” again.

Not being completely healed from my fifteen flea bites from over a week ago, I did some investigating on my own and found the reason I had such bit welts appear, is that I’m allergic to flea saliva which those devils pump in to human’s skin to keep their host’s blood from coagulating.   Without doing anymore research, I’m convinced it’s also a genetic pre-disposition that gets passed on by parents to their children.  I know for a fact that some of my siblings along along with other blood relatives have similar allergic reactions to those high-jumping vampires.  It was another great lesson of mine to be learned over these past 10 days.

The market seems to be still cranking along for my office.  I personally sold a home over the weekend and now showing prospective customers homes in yet another price range.  As far as I’m concerned, Holtz Realty has some very nice value-priced homes for sale at the time, and I’m doing everything I can to get them sold more sooner than later.

We’ve recently been finding a few more financially weak buyers in our market who are trying to get homes purchased without visiting with a bank or two and obtaining letters of credit pre-approvals. It’s very frustrating for us Realtors along with the sellers, and certainly those buyers who in the end, find they can’t afford to buy the homes they’ve decided to purchase.  There’s too much easy credit out there and not enough counseling.  When are people going to learn that debt doesn’t go away as easy as it’s obtained?

One of the customers I’ve been working with lately intimated to me that he has absolutely no debt.  How many people do you know who has their home paid off, their vehicles paid off, and no revolving credit?  I said to him, “You should be a case study for credit counselors, and set out as a role model for our younger generation who seem to want everything now.”

What struck me as being different with him is that he wasn’t proud about being debt free, but simply comfortable with his achievement.  “Good job!” I exclaimed while patting him on the back.  As a footnote, he’s causally looking for a 2nd home.   And remember, don’t ever hesitate to compliment someone for doing a noticeably good job because it gives them all the more incentive.

Ignorance is NOT Bliss

Ignorance is NOT BlissNow that I’ve finished a whirlwind week, I was able to get caught up on a number of things that were crying for my attention. After about three hours of non-stop focus, I did manage to get the bulk of my administrative chores finished. It’s always a relief to be able to walk away from fully completed files and hopefully never have to look back.

A great number of years ago I worked under a broker who seemed to enjoy working in chaos. She’d have un-closed files piled everywhere which created a scenario to where which ever transaction was the hottest, would be the one that would be found and focused upon. The most unfortunate thing for me was that there was nearly always an open door between us, and if a customer of mine would walk in my door and happen to look thru hers, there’d always be a questioning look towards me. It’s amazing how in such greatly different ways, some people manage to get their work completed.

Last week someone was telling me an unfortunate story about one of their family members having unknowingly been exposed to the juice/sap of wild parsnip and now suffering topical burns from it. I can only imagine the pain that poor individual is going thru as I speak.

Now I’ll bring you up to speed with wild parsnip “burns”. Wild parsnips contain chemicals called psoralens which causes what dermatologists refer to as, “phyto-photo-dermatitis”, which mean an inflammation of the skin induced by a plant with the help of the sun. When these psoralens are absorbed by the skin, they’re energized by ultraviolet light which is present during both sunny and cloudy days. The UV light causes them to bind with nuclear DNA and cell membranes. This whole process which takes a little time to create visible damage, but when fully kicked-in, destroys cell and skin tissue giving us the end result of full-fledged burns.

Over these past 5 – 10 years, I’ve noticed how widespread/invasive wild parsnip has been. There’ve been numerous warnings by me to people who’re out weed-whacking and mowing areas which may contain either or both wild parsnip and Queen Anne’s lace, which can create the same type of burn but in a lesser degree.

While driving this past week down 12th St. NW out near Eisenhower Ave., I noticed huge stretches of wild parsnip in the ditch on the left side of the road, and another long stretch of Queen Anne’s lace on the right side. It’s even growing right under our noses in our Historic Downtown! I did manage to get rid of the Queen Anne’s lace that was quietly propagating in my office block back at the Commercial Alley side. So please, learn to recognized both of them, and diligently, but carefully get rid of them. Both are considered an invasive plant by our great State of Iowa.

For as long as I live, I’ll never forget the permanent scars I saw on a man’s arms and legs which were caused by burns while he was innocently weed-whacking a patch of wild parsnips growing on his acreage. Unfortunately he was wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts, so his legs and arms bore the brunt of being juiced up by thoseweed-whacked plants.

Isn’t this but one more example of how ignorance is NOT bliss? The above photo is one I took of Queen Anne’s lace in bloom some time ago.

Third and Final Notice

Third and Final NoticeFor sure today was a wild ride in real estate due to the tight time frames in which I was confined so to make every pre-scheduled appointment.  I usually arrive at the office early, but was forced to get there even earlier because there were a number of documents I had to get prepared and emailed out.  Fifteen minutes before I was to be at my first showing at 8:00 a.m., all the docs were completed and emailed out to the parties.  Now that was a close call because there wouldn’t have been no time to get back to them until after my second public open house, and by then it would’ve been too late.

Many times over the years whenever encountering someone stressing over timelines or deadlines I would say, “Just go sit a spell, and in your mind, walk yourself thru the whole project that’s facing you, and if your focus is clear enough, you’ll be able to turn yourself into a bit of an automaton and get it finished quickly, quietly and seamlessly.”  Sometimes it’s worked for them, and others not.

For many years I’ve known that being halfway finished with a job, is just after it’s been started.  I look around our City and see far too many houses that are screaming to be maintained, but I rarely if ever see anyone outside even making an attempt.  The occupants are likely inside with their noses in front of their TVs or smart phones, slurping cheap beer before 11:00 a.m., and intermittently complaining about all the work they’ve got to get done, and how the world has dealt them such a cruel hand of poker.

Every time I see someone drinking giggle water before Noon I think of my witty grandmother whimsically saying, “If you drink before 11:00 you’ll never get to heaven.”  Speaking of her now, it was just this week I found myself on the subject of her witty remarks while sharing but a small handful of them with one of my customers.  He was making me laugh when listening to his belly laughs.  I finally had to stop because he was turning overly red after I began cracking terribly witty, yet wicked jokes about a man whom we both know who’s been excessively promiscuous for a great many years.   Yes it was my fault for getting him started, but it was also a bit his for egging me on with his genuine laughter.

At least I’m not like some people who’re just downright mean-spirited when looking for an audience.  Just today I said to a customer, “The subject matter of conversations are crossing borders that wouldn’t have never even been discussed behind closed doors and shuttered windows when I was young.”  So much for the direction our world is taking.

At this time I’m happy to announce I managed to find a home for the retirees who’ll be relocating here from the West Coast.  They’re exceptionally happy which makes me all the happier.  Their flight back is tomorrow morning, and as we parted company I said, “Tell friends and bring relatives to our City!”

The above photo is one I took of the back side of a postcard someone living in North Iowa mailed to an older client of mine.  I’ve blocked out my client’s address as well as the number she was to call.  There’s no question in my mind there are growing numbers of people out there that are attempting to prey on the unwary and far too trusting elderly.  I’d like to get in the faces of those people and say, “Why don’t you go and get a real job and honestly earn your keep!”  What made my client laugh the most was the caption, “Third and final notice!” Seems they’re thinking of every kind of ruse to get our elderly to be taken hook, line and sinker which sickens me.