Category Archives: Life

Remembrances of Faith

Remembrances of Faith-1The weather has suddenly turned for the worse beginning this morning.  I was shocked to find it getting colder instead of warmer as the day progressed.  I understand it’s supposed to get down in the 20′s later this week, so I guess just about everything green will be soon turning brown.  I’m not looking forward to the days of cold and darkness again.  Those who work inside most of the year really don’t have that much to worry about during the Winter months other than getting from home to work, but the other poor devils that have to be out in it are those I pity.

Without looking to see what the weather was going to be like, I soon found I hadn’t dressed warm enough for the day.  Fortunately, most of my day was spent in the office doing some much needed sorting and arranging of files.  It’s amazing how quickly papers can pile up to where they cause annoying clutter.  After about five hours of sorting, filing, shredding and cleaning, I’d say I’ve got pretty much all of it back under control.

All of these signs I’m seeing around town with “vote yes” on them, and knowing many who live in those homes, is just another confirmation that this “vote yes” business is being pushed by a very select group of people in our community.  I keep thinking to myself, “What’s really in it for them?”  I’m wondering if they’re being pressured by high-up business associates. What do you think?

What I’m very thankful for, is being able to go to several key people in our City who know the rest of a given story, or possess the missing pieces to a mental puzzles.  They usually don’t hesitate to share information because I similarly share mine with them.  It’s nearly always funny whenever we speak about a given person or subject because there’s almost always something we both bring to the table that wasn’t known by the other which creates an even more clear picture of a given person or situation.  For me it’s a great example of genuine people wanting the best for each other along with a willingness to help whenever possible. With those few, there’s never been that “What’s in it for me?” whenever giving or gathering information.

Late this afternoon there was quite the creepiest of happenings.  While I was busy with gleaning in my office of needless paper, a young man stopped by to drop something off that belonged to his father who passed about 6 years ago.  The item really wasn’t much, but he thought the person that purchased his father’s home would want it since it was part of the house. The kicker of this story is that not but 10 minutes earlier, I’d found a file containing funeral pamphlets.  I flipped thru them and noticed one which I felt compelled to re-read regarding the deceased father of today’s visitor.  Now that was a very creepy coincidence wouldn’t you say?  I made sure to tell my visitor what had happened not but 10 minutes earlier. Sometimes things happen that defy the laws of chance to where you say, “What the heck was that all about?”

Several people called me today to say how much they liked yesterday’s article about St. Paul Lutheran Church here in Mason City.  Rest assured, my comments and observations were agenda-free.  It really is a wonderful community of Faith and hopefully more people will take the time to pay St. Paul a visit some Sunday morning in the near future.

During one of those conversations today, I intimately shared my feelings about the beautiful carved wooden Cross that hangs in St. Paul’s Sanctuary.  It’s not only a great work of art, but also invokes in me a great sense of reverence to where I’m always compelled to bow my head a bit and bless myself whenever walking past it.  Don’t you think places of worship should always contain “best-work” artistic remembrances of faith?  Believe me, that Cross was someone’s best, and likely meant to be hanging in St. Paul’s Sanctuary.

Naughty Monkey Businesspeople

Oh that warm southerly wind we had today really made me feel more like it was late August instead of the 20th of October.  I guess we’ll continue to have grass to mow until the hard frost arrives.  Believe me, I’m completely OK with that.

Both of my closings today had soft landings in spite one of them having to be postponed for about four hours due to my buyer’s funds arriving later than expected.  I shake my head all the more often these years when finding other professionals dropping the ball on important as well as time sensitive tasks.  It’s no wonder why many people in certain fields have jokes made about them and freely passed around.  The professional that dropped the ball today was associated with an insurance company.  It just reminded me again why I never had the desire to work in the insurance field.

Later this afternoon I had a very good showing at Prairie Place on 1st which is the Senior housing complex which still has available units I’m working at getting sold.  To date, I’ve been very lucky in getting as many sold since coming on board.  I’m hoping the trend will continue.  The gentleman I showed today would be yet another great fit for that growing community of delightful people.

An unfortunate story was told to me today by another elderly person who lives in Clear Lake.  He told me about a particular tree service he hired to trim some high-hanging branches off a tree in his yard.  With his hands he showed me about how big around they were and said, “How much do you think I was charged?”  Knowing by then it must’ve been more than I would’ve paid so I said, “Probably $2,000.00″.   He rolled his eyes and said, “I only wish that was what I paid.”  He proceeded to tell me, and when he said the amount I nearly choked.  I grew very stern and said, “The amount you paid was not just a sin, but open-air thievery.”  He agreed and said, “I’ve been sure to tell all my friends and relatives how badly I was hosed.”  This is yet another example of what I’ve spoken about in the past.  There are many elderly people with money who live in our midst, but they’re afraid to have repairs and improvements done for fear of being royally screwed by shyster service people.  I’m glad he told me what company it was so I can to add it to my list of naughty monkey businesspeople.

Don’t forget about my public open house at 418 – 7th St. SE tomorrow which I’ll have open from 1 – 3 PM.  Anyone looking for a clean 4 bedroom home with a half bath on the main floor, this one should be considered a keeper.  Several calls that came in today were from sellers looking to get their homes listed, so hopefully I’ll have several more listings from which to choose for our buying public.

I’m hoping every sentient soul in North Iowa spends some free time outdoors this weekend so to enjoy this wonderful weather we’re having the last half of October.

Onto the Stage

Onto the StageLikely I’m sounding redundant with once again speaking of how beautiful a day it was.  Just remember, the more days we have like this, the closer we are to Spring and the fewer cold one we’ll have to endure this Winter.  One of my friends planted some carrots later than normally this Summer and mentioned today how he hopes he’ll have carrots before the hard frost.  I did say how lucky he’ll be if they make it to a good size because late Fall carrots are my favorite.  They’re much sweeter than the Spring ones and they don’t have even the slightest bitter taste.  A way to make them even sweeter, is covering them with leaves after the hard frost and digging them up when needed.  I’ve heard of people having them in the ground even up to the first of the year because they’ve been well insulated with leaves.  The trick is to put the leaves back after digging what’s needed.  The wider the “blanket” of leaves, the less likely any of them will freeze.

Several hours were spent cleaning up the online folders of some of my current listings.  There’s always updating to do so to keep the general public well informed of changes.  I have two closings tomorrow and hopefully both of them will have soft landings.  The closing files are all finished so all I have to do is to show up for the transactions.

Earlier this week I ordered some concrete sidewalks to be replaced and to my surprise, the gentlemen arrived that day to starting working on them.  As of this afternoon, they’re completely finished and they look great.  Far too many people are getting negligent with the the upkeep of their homes.  As I’ve said a hundred times or more over the years, “If you take care of a good house, it’ll take even better care of you.”  I try my best to educate many of the young regarding home maintenance and improvements.  My belief is that most aren’t as lazy as believed, but rather ignorant to the whole process of making repairs which in turn cripples them with the fear of making some unfixable mistake.  I always tell them to start with small projects and then work into the big ones. There’s a great sense of self-worth when able to learn something well enough that you can do a better job than another who does it for a living.

Having found I was lacking a few supplies today, I ran over to Fareway and picked up what I needed.  While there, I noticed something I’ve never seen to such a degree before.  Since there were more people there than usual, the check-outs were getting backed up to where I was just standing there watching and waiting my turn.  Believe it or not, I noticed between three aisles, four ladies likely in their 80′s paying with either debit or credit cards.  Now that was a surprise, as well as a confirmation that even our elderly are now up to speed with the methods of electronic payment.

So what is that telling us?  I’d say we’re moving all the faster away from cash transactions and perhaps in a dark way, approaching the time when there’ll be micro-chips implanted in everyone with all our information contained to where there’ll be no paper or plastic–everything will be controlled by that chip and some sort of hand-held device.  Sounds scary doesn’t it?  As I said before, the rapid evolution of computers is pushing us, kicking and screaming onto the stage of a brave new world.  Are you ready for it?

Still on Track

Still on TrackWhat an absolutely beautiful day it was today!   Believe me, I was savoring every moment I could while outdoors.  I’m going to be a little sad when I have to go and dig up my row of geraniums and hang them back up for the Winter in the basement of my office.  If they could speak they’d be saying, “Why do you have to hang us in that chilly darkness along with being upside-down like bats for so many months?”  If they only knew I’m giving them their much needed period of rest so they can grow all the bigger and stronger next year.  Those particular geraniums are a more vibrant red which you don’t normally find.  Most of them you see around town are of the reddish-orange type.

Hopefully I’ll have my new listing signed up tomorrow and it’ll get sold more sooner than later due to there being a shortage of moderately priced homes in our City.  In these recent years there’ve been invisible lines drawn by buyers who’ve decided they’d rather not live in certain districts.   The first-time buyers are becoming all the more savvy about doing plenty of research on given neighborhoods before even looking.  The internet has volumes of statistics such as number of police calls, home ownership versus investor owned, and the list goes on.  They’re even all the more cautious if they have young children who want to run out and play with other neighborhood kiddies.

As it was approaching lunchtime, I decided to stop at one of our Downtown coffee shops to grab a cup of coffee to take back to the office.  When I walked in I noticed a professional couple I knew seated having coffee, so instead of heading back to the office, I decided to play catch up with the two of them.  We touched on nearly every subject, and by the time we were getting ready to leave, I thanked them immensely for including me.  They were clients and customers of mine a very long time ago and are still living in that grand home I sold them back when I was very much younger.

One thing we talked about was in the back of my mind the remainder of the day which was regarding true friends being all the harder to find these days.  It seems a rarity to find related as well as non-related people remaining true to each other for many years.  It seems in these times, the first time there’s a bump in the road with one, the other will bolt and be off looking for another fair weather friend.  I did mention today how special a very long term friendship is because they’ve shared highs and lows, joys and sorrows, and even the meta-physical evolution that takes place over the years.  My take on real friends are those who selflessly accept each other for who they are, wish each other the absolute best, speak truthfully to each other, and above all, maintain their relationship without any invisible strings or hooks attached.  That’s my definition of a genuine friendship.  Now tell me. What’s yours?

I bumped into a familiar today whom I’ve always considered to be one of likely five of the most intelligent people I personally know.  We visited for a bit about this and that, when suddenly he said while looking around, “I’ve been noticing all the more people in our City who are of a lower socio-economic level than I’ve ever seen in all the years I’ve lived here.”  He went on to ask if it was just Mason City, or if it’s also a State and National problem.  All I dared say was, “Do your due diligence, and afterwards, you may be all the more concerned.”

Having those conversations today was not just a lifting up for me, but also a confirmation that some of us are still on track with reality.

The First Frost

The First FrostUnfortunately we got hit with our first frost early this morning.  The roofs of homes around the Downtown were frosted and it made me a little sad knowing we’ve now entered the realm of Jack Frost.  At least it was a light enough to where more protected gardens were spared.  I also have to remind myself that this is actually late for a first frost compared to say 20 years ago when we’d nearly always have one in mid to late September, and it’s all due to global warming.

A news article that appeared online today should’ve caused many to take notice and work all the harder to slow this world’s man-made warming.  The piece was about how the permafrost is melting at a faster than expected in Alaska, Canada, and Siberia to where homes and building foundations are being compromised.  The most frightening was the fact that if that thawing continues at its current speed, there will be huge amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere which will escalate the rate of global warming all the more, and not to mention the pathogens that’ve remained frozen for thousands of years.  I’m sure we can only imagine what unknown bacterias and viruses are likely now thawing of which we have no immunity.  Each year, it looks all the more like we’re at the threshold of a brave and uncharted new world.

Two pre-listing appointments today kept me quite busy to where the hours seemed to fly by.  One of the homes is a diamond in the rough, while the other is a mid-century ranch which will likely sell quickly if we can price it right.  On Wednesday, I have an appointment to list a home I looked at months ago.  The seller called this afternoon and said he’s ready to list.  I’m glad of it because my office inventory has dwindled due to the number of sales these past months.

The owner of 422  S. Tennessee Place is growing all the more anxious to get it sold.  I still can’t believe that condo is still on the market.  There’s been a recent drastic price reduction along with it being located in a very popular district.  As far as I’m concerned, some lucky soul is going to get one heck of a buy.  Perhaps now that every real estate office is running short on listings, buyers will finally take notice.  If I were a professional getting transplanted to our City, I’d jump at the change to own it so to be able to focus on my career rather than the daily chores that come with owning a single family residence.  Since there’s only four units in that building, there’s a less likelihood of having a troublesome neighbor.  When buying a condo, less owners makes an available unit all the more desirable.

As though I really need anything, a client just happened to stop by my office this afternoon to show me a photo,  and while walking out with him he opened up the back of his van.  There sat a small and exceptionally old wooden humpback trunk.  I was so delighted to see it, I couldn’t help but say, “How much do you want for it?”  Looking at me and then back to the trunk he blurted out a price I couldn’t refuse.  We carried it back into my office and that was that.  It needs a real good cleaning both inside and out, but while inspecting it closer, it reminded me all the more of a trunk that belonged to my great-grandparents.  For sure that trunk arrived at the shores of our Country on a sailing ship from Northern Europe. It even has areas where mice or likely ship rats were gnawing.

Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day for all of us after we’ve accepted the fact that we did have our first frost and winter’s just around the corner.

Back in the 1850′s

Back in the 1850'sNearly the last minute this morning, I decided to go to one of the local churches and managed to get there just as their Service was beginning.  When looking for a spare seat in the rear, I slipped in next to an IPERS pensioner whom I believe worked in some capacity in the school system for a number of years.  Looking at how he’s aged, reminded me again how quickly the years pass.

Not realizing it until starting looking around, I discovered a couple seated a row ahead of me and down several seats to my right.  I’ve never had any dealings with them in real estate, but our paths have crossed on occasion over these many years.  My first and lasting impression of them wasn’t the best due to the both of them having a weird sort of condescending demeanor.  At that time I thought, “Hmm.  You people don’t even know me and you act like this?”  I did mention to someone who was all the more familiar with them how they treated me the first time we met, and he said not to pay any attention because they’re that way with nearly everyone they consider below them. I laughed and said, “Don’t you think someone should remind them that we’re not living in India within a caste system?”  He chuckled and said, “I dare you to say that to them the next time you see them.”  Well today was neither the time or place, so I just pretended they weren’t even there.

The service as a whole was pretty weak–especially the short sermon that was given. What bothered me the most was the keyboardist and lead singer who were upstairs trying to get the congregation to sing music that certainly wasn’t meant for an aging crowd.  Wow!  I can’t remember the last time I was in a church where all the hymns being played were filled with syncopation and excessively broad vocal ranges.  It’s no wonder nearly no one was singing.  The young male lead singer was even stumbling a time or two.  As I was walking out, I was tempted to go upstairs and soulfully give them my opinion regarding today’s music choices.  Nearly all the churches in North Iowa are pushing the idea of “inclusion for all”.  How can they possibly think they’re including everyone when most don’t have music backgrounds along with wide vocal ranges?  Oh well, perhaps some day they’ll more fully understand the concept of inclusion.

My day was split between doing some real estate work along with being back at my little big project. Every hour that’s spent on it brings me all the closer to my personal finish line.  I’ve discovered after these many days how I’ve grown all the more proficient.  Now you see. Practice does bring nearly everyone closer to perfection.  After looking at the weather, I’m hoping along with saying a little prayer we don’t have a light frost in the lowlands of North Iowa which would include much of Mason City since the bulk of it’s in the bottom of a “bowl”.  After tonight, we should have a very pleasant week ahead.  Yes, I’m being selfish in wanting to see our flowers continue blooming.

The above photo is of one of the last remaining historic Pioneer homes within our City limits.  Every time I drive past it, I become all the more saddened in knowing that it’s now likely beyond repair.  The family that owns it should’ve been a little more conscientious regarding its historic significance.  Isn’t it a sad sight? Oh if only those stone walls could speak.  If possible, they’d certainly be telling some hair-raising stories about how hard life was back in the 1850′s.

Well it was Free!

Well it was Free!For a Saturday, it seemed almost surrealistic with the way the weather was all day, along with not having my nearly every Saturday public open house.  It’s likely a good thing I didn’t considering the way the weather has been.  That misty rain was beginning to get a bit annoying to where I was ready to look to the heavens and say, “Would you just either rain, or get over it!”

The comic book store down the street was having some sort of anniversary celebration and by the looks of it, there weren’t nearly as many people as they were likely expecting.  There were comic book vehicles and characters outside, but only about a handful of people milling around.  I’m sure many parents decided not to have their children out in the rain.  There’s one thing we always have to consider when living in North Iowa, and that’s where the weather and temperatures can change quickly and drastically.  Planning something outside this late in the year is a crap shoot as far as I’m concerned.

Yours truly did manage to keep himself busy nearly the entire day.  As I mentioned before, when working at a menial task in some quiet space without any distractions, one can really get some deep thinking done.  I was delighted to find how much work I’d completed along with a great deal of much needed thinking.

One of the topics of thought was recalling the number of times over these long years the many people and/or entities who received gifts or grants of money.  I’ve known for a very long time how often whenever money is given to a person, municipality, or a charity, the willful waste and thoughtlessness begins.  Nearly all of them go on spending sprees to where you step back and think, “I believe that gift was the worst idea because those people didn’t have a clue regarding how to first think and plan before opening their checkbooks.”  Believe me, I’ve known many over the years who’ve squandered hundreds of thousands and all because it was free. Now it they had to work for decades to accumulate it, that would be an entirely different story. I see it on nearly a daily basis.

Those thoughts led me to the business of this so-called “much needed” ice arena.  Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in people being sports minded, but there are always those that take it to the extreme.  About 18 years ago I was quite familiar with a family who had two young boys who were head-over-heels about hockey.  Unfortunately their parents left them both to believe they’d become hockey stars.  Hockey was all consuming within that family to where there wasn’t much talked about besides their aspiring hockey playing sons.

Fast forwarding to the present.  Unfortunately most don’t realize becoming a professional in any sport has nearly the odds of winning the lottery.  Well, those two boys are grown men now and because they didn’t focus on more attainable career paths while in high school, they soon fell behind and ended up with blue collar jobs, married, and now with children.  About six months ago one of them called me just to say  “Hey”.  After hanging up from him I was saddened when I began thinking about all of those missed opportunities he and his brother had while in junior high and high school.  If they’d only kept their sport-mindedness in perspective.  As nearly always, when young, you believe you’re never going to grow old.   Now back to thoughtless waste. I want you to think about how many times you’ve seen willful waste and later heard someone say, “Well it was free!”

The above photo is one I took of the misty rain over Clear Lake.  Kinda creepy isn’t it?