Category Archives: Life

Ground Foragers

DSC_0504With it being such a bright and sunny day, I decided to get some errands run before tomorrow’s storm hit.  Not realizing the time, I discovered I’d been away from the office for nearly three hours.  It would’ve been a very pleasant day had the northwest wind not been spewing more cold air on North Iowa.  I still go into a bit of shock every time I see tall mounds of snow piled around our City for this time of year.

I happened to read a local article today regarding the plight of our robins where they’re not getting enough to eat due to our snow cover. It appears the weaker ones are dying of starvation.  It’s no surprise it’s happening because I distinctly remember those days weeks ago where they were eating all the dried fruits from the flowering trees in our City.  I thought it was strange to see them arrive so early–especially considering how cold it was and the amount of snow remaining on the ground.

I know I’m sounding horrible by saying this, but perhaps the deer population won’t be increasing as rapidly as they have been year-over-year due to those pregnant females soon to be giving birth without the normal amount of green cover to hide their fauns, which will make them all the more visible to their natural predators.  Most don’t realize a doe can go into heat as early as six months after being born, and can birth from 1 – 3 fauns.  Now that’s a recipe for a population explosion in a very short period of time. It’s no wonder people have been seeing herds numbering upwards of 50 at the outskirts of our City.  On average, a single deer can eat around 2,000 lbs of forage a year.  If you do the math, you’ll see how much destruction a herd of say 10 – 12 can do in a given neighborhood.

I’ve been working with a buyer who’s planning on moving to Mason City from a Metro area. He mentioned that just over these past seven to ten years how greatly the quality of life has changed where he lives.  From the traffic jams, to the cost of housing, it sounds like some place I’d rather not live.  I was shocked when he mentioned his metro area reports on an average of 35,000 car break-ins a year.  He also said the thieves can easily spot rental cars belonging to tourists, which are prime targets because they keep their valuables in their cars instead of their hotel rooms while out sight-seeing.  Those vacation nightmares are likely being swept under the rug by their law enforcement so not to create bad impressions for future tourists.

You many think me sounding like a broken record, but it’s high time our City starts focusing more on attracting out-of-State retirees who’re actively seeking quieter and simpler lifestyles for their golden years.  When my client was telling me how it’s been just in these recent years that he’s despised driving on freeways, I couldn’t help but interject by saying, “I’ve always hated freeway driving–especially in large metro areas.”  Just watching some of those crazy drivers zig-zagging between lanes during rush hour, would be enough to make me want to head for the nearest exit ramp.

Several of the homes I showed today were exceptionally dirty to where I thought, “Didn’t anyone say something to the owners about them?”  Two of them had room colors I never would’ve chosen.  Blood red walls in a bedroom would be enough to give anyone raging nightmares.  I have no clue where owners get such crazy decorating ideas.

The above photo is one I took today of some little ground foragers feeding.

My one-liner for tonight is:  Children are the hope of the future.

Bracing for another Dumping

Bracing for another Dumping-1I’m sure everyone wasn’t a bit happy about waking up to this morning’s 18 degree temperature.  This abnormal weather we’ve been having has come to the point of being laughable.  I guess when something gets as bad as this, you either start crying or laughing. Wouldn’t we all prefer to get a few giggles out of it before it’s finally over?

One of my appointments was with a young gentleman to finish up with his lease on a property I helped one of my dear clients get rented.   After meeting with him again this morning, I’m all the more confident he’ll be just fine when it comes to taking care of the property and paying his rent on time.  I’m noticing all the more polarizing with certain districts in our City where there are all the more prospective tenants who refuse to live in those areas.

I’ve found it to be an unfortunate evolution that’s been slowly taking place over these last 25 years.  But you know, we as a City allowed it to happen due to our own “not in my backyard” mentalities.  It all goes back to the real lack of bi-partisan community mindedness.  Yes, there are a number of our young who really want to make a difference, but they’re handicapped by the immensity of the problem,  as well as the amount of money and re-educating it’s going to take to get the texture of our City’s blighted districts back to acceptable levels.

I just happened to get this week’s edition of “The Economist” in the mail today, and on the front cover, and noticed their feature article being named something like,  “Germany nice”.  I paged to their feature section and skimmed through it before my appointment arrived.  It looks like Germany is coming all the more into its own within the European Union.  From what little I read, it sounds like they’ve really got their act together.  I’ve always known Deutschland to be the financial powerhouse of Europe, but I didn’t realize how much their socio-economic arenas have grown and expanded.  I had to laugh to myself about how they spoke of the German mentality when speaking of it being a country of people who pride themselves in the near absolute perfect quality of their work, along with how they seem to always think things thru before moving forward with any significant changes.  When I have time, I’ll be sure to read the article in its entirety.

In hopefully a day or two, my listing at 801 W. Main in Fertile will be back on the open market.  Another Realtor’s buyers were not able to perform due to some lending issues they’re having.  I’m very dis-appointed with that great big waste of time for my sellers, but I’m putting it behind me and moving forward with other prospective buyers for their wonderful in-town acreage.  I’ll be phoning some agents who called on it during the time it was still under contract, just to make sure the general public knows it’s still available.

While driving around the City today, I noticed how the water levels of our creeks and river have risen.  There’ve been people mentioning how their sump pumps have been working overtime.  Our sub-soils must be very saturated from all the rain and snow we’ve had.  I was sad to hear one area of our City was without power and some finished basements ended up taking in water.  After hearing the news today, it sounds like we’ll be bracing for another dumping of snow tomorrow night, and it’s not going to be a light dusting.

My one-liner for tonight is:  Children are the cruelest of all.

And as a footnote.  Far too often we find adults continuing to nurture the very same mentalities they had during their adolescent years, to where some even revel in their naughty monkey behaviors.

My Good Deed

My Good Deed-1Without even thinking twice, I’m sure many of you were doing the same thing I was this morning–shoveling snow. After seeing how many driveways and sidewalks were still un-shoveled after finishing up mine, caused me to wonder if many were just waiting for it to melt off, or decided to stay inside until the afternoon arrived.  Of course always,  my main concern is keeping the sidewalk in front of my office cleared away as early as possible, and thank goodness I had already shoveled it once before going home last night, so at least I didn’t have that heavy stuff  from yesterday at the bottom to contend with.

As we all know, no matter how we plan our weekends, there are times when there has to be those intervening circumstances that cause plan changes, and this snow was what kept me from spending most of my weekend at work on a project.  So instead of getting a full day out of both yesterday and today, I could only do half days for both, but at least I made visible progress.

There was a curious happening for me today which I certainly didn’t expect.  While I was finishing up with the shoveling of a front sidewalk, I could hear someone across the street hollering after me.  I looked, and there stood a young man likely in his early twenties.  Since he was attempting to ask me something, but too far away, I walked to the curbside and asked him to repeat himself.  To my surprise, he was asking if I would borrow him my shovel because his car got buried by a snow plow this morning.  I asked where his car was parked, and he pointed about a 200 ft down the street.

Since I never let anyone use my well-oiled vintage coal shovel which works wonders with heavy snow like this weekend’s, I said to him, “I’ll not loan it to you, but I’ll go and help you get out.”  So off I went with shovel in hand to freely perform my hopefully successful act of kindness.

His car was one of those low-slung mid-sized models that really aren’t meant for driving in North Iowa’s winters.  I looked over the situation and could already see where and how much snow needed to be removed.  Since he was standing there watching me I figured I might just as well engage him in conversation.

My first question was, “Why are you in such a big hurry to get shoveled out?”  He quickly answered, “Because I have to go to church.”  I stopped for a moment and looked at him while sternly saying, “I’m sure under your circumstances, God will forgive you for missing a Service.”  He then insisted by saying, “Oh no, I have to go because my parents are waiting for me and they’re expecting me to be there.”  I guess that was about as good of an excuse considering it being Sunday morning.

I had a good portion of the snow shoveled away, but before I could finish he insisted, “That’s enough. I’m sure I’ll be able to get out.”  After looking at the snow and back at his car, I knew he wouldn’t, but sometimes people must learn.  Sure enough, there he sat spinning his tires while trying to rock his car back and forth enough to gain traction while his front wheels were turned too much outward.

After about five minutes of watching his futile effort, I loudly said, “Just wait until I get enough snow out of the way of your low-slung light-weight front-wheel drive POS.”  It was then my turn, and thus I began barking orders regarding how much he could turn his wheels, how not to make his tires spin too much, and how far he was to back up before he could get enough traction to “give’er the gun” and drive away.

Before I finished up, and him driving happily on his way to his “church service”, I found out he’s lived here for six months, he decided to move here because his now deceased father was near death at the time, he’s originally from a city north of Los Angeles, and he’s seriously thinking of moving back because he can’t get used living in our cold environment.

I did try to ease his worries by telling him that this winter has been one of our longest.  I also couldn’t help but say, “Oh, you poor baby.” when he was whining about how he misses all those many warm California days.  I couldn’t help but say, “Sometimes the winds of Fate blow us in directions for reasons which we don’t understand at the time, but years on, they’re alas finally revealed, and only then, we finally understand.”

I’m sure he was telling his mother and step-father about a stranger offering to shovel him out with his well-oiled vintage coal shovel, along with the content our conversation.  Yes, I did my good deed for the day, and happy for it.

Tonight’s one-liner is:  Change is valuable when the oppressed become tyrants.

The 14th Day of April 2018

The 14th Day of April 2018The first thing I had to do this morning was to go searching for some homeowner’s association documents having to do with the condo I have listed at 422 S. Tennessee Place here in Mason City.  I did manage to find most of them, but what I was missing were their rules and regulations, so I placed a call to the owner asking if she had her copy.  Thank goodness she did, so I ran out and grabbed it, drove to the office, made a copy, and then back out to her unit and return it.

While there, we had a very good chat about the way in which our world is changing.  We were pretty much in agreement that far too many are overly-centered on themselves and their money-making careers.  We talked about how people are quick to justify their not so good intentions, simply to get a nose or two ahead of others.

The ranks of those who continue to think only about “me” instead of “us” are on the rise.  While driving back my to my office, I remembered a conversation I had several weeks ago with a well known.  Since I haven’t talked to him that much of late due to his belief that nearly everyone else has more money than he, to where he’s now finding it necessary to do anything he can so to acquire enough money and live out the remainder of his golden years in well-earned and deserved comfort.

I’m normally empathetic towards those who are down and out, but I couldn’t seem to connect with him due to my knowing how much money he freely squandered away these recent years.  The big difference between people like him and myself, is that if I’d gone on a spending spree and later found myself financially running on fumes, I certainly wouldn’t direct my resentments towards others, but rather blame myself.  Being resentful and envious of others does nothing to fix their own problems.  I believe the best cure for such people, is to take complete ownership of their own failings, and then get back to work at rebuilding their financial houses which they themselves laid to waste.  Before I bid him adieu, I soulfully wished him the best during his trying days and months ahead.

While out shoveling at my office this afternoon, I wasn’t paying enough attention to my surroundings to where I was startled when suddenly hearing a voice behind me saying, “Hey Mister”.  When I turned to him he blurted out, “Hey Mr., would you give me $1.15 so I can go and buy a can of pop?”  When finally noticing he was from one of our inner-city Transition Centers, I flatly said, “No”, and turned back to my shoveling.  Thinking he was going to continue moving on, he came right back at me with, “You don’t have $1.15 to give me?”  I turned back to him again while all more bluntly replying, “No, I don’t.”   He gave me the dirtiest of looks before he started walking down the sidewalk and mumbling something which I certainly didn’t want to hear because it was likely about me.

Now please don’t get me wrong.  I’m always willing to help someone in need, but certainly not into enabling.  If he’d asked for a glass of water out of thirst, I would’ve given it to him, but wanting me to pay for a can of pop?  Not a chance.  I’m just hoping he’s not going to be wandering up and down the sidewalks in our Historic Downtown come Spring because I had more than enough of another from his group who freely panhandled myself with me, as well as other pedestrians.  I don’t know what happened to him, but I think he must’ve been assigned to another building farther from our City’s center, and likely due to the complaints from others.

We’re one day short of being a week away from April 22nd while still getting sleet and snow.  I clearly remember our most recent 22nd’s of April, and I’d say we’re a far cry from being even close to having similar weather.  I heard we’re supposed to get more sleet and snow the rest of this weekend.

The above photo is one I took today as a reminder for us all that we’re at the 14th day of April 2018.

Tonight’s one-liner is:  Boredom makes you do crazy things.

Mortgage their Children

Mortgage their Children-1This wind and rain today was enough to keep nearly everyone inside, but there are always those few brave souls who defy such weather and carry on as if it’s just another normal day in North Iowa. As wacky as this weather has been this winter, I’d say if and when it does get back to normal for this time of year, people will consider it be abnormal. Many of the snowbirds are holding off their returning from Florida, or our Southwestern States just so to make sure the cold and snow is over for good.

There’ll certainly be an even shorter window of time for people to get their yards cleaned up before the grass starts growing. Just these past weeks, I’ve been appalled by the number of people living in Mason City who did absolutely no yard clean-up before winter hit. There’ll be some big messes to clean up, unless they’re so lazy that they’ll try to grind their leaves and sticks up with their lawnmowers. I was at a home today and noticed on one side of the house a large pine tree. When I looked down at the ground, there was at least a four or five inch deep layer of pine needles that hadn’t been removed for years. Now that’s what I call super-lazy. For certain, once those needles are removed, there’ll be absolutely not even a blade of grass to be found.

I did manage to get one of my client’s homes rented for him today. Most have no clue how much more time consuming it is in these times to market rentals. There’s the advertising, the showings, and some of which are scheduled but then “no shows”, and then the verifying of the information given on the applications because as we all know, some people are prone to lie. Invariably, there are always those who after they look at an opening will say, “We want it.”, and think it’s automatically theirs just because they’ve chosen it. Several years ago a young lady got really angry with me for not renting a home to her to where she promised she’d tell everyone what a horrible person I was. The sad part about it was, her income and employment history was much weaker than the person who was given the green light to rent it. It’s amazing how some can be sugar and spice, but when they don’t get what they want, they turn into wicked-mouthed monsters.

In spite of today’s rain and wind, I kept my out-of-town appointment to show a home. Thank goodness neither the buyer nor myself had any issues while driving there. I couldn’t help but mention while there, “Now if it looks good to you today, it’ll look all the better when the warm sun is shining and our winter’s dirt is washed away.” I’m pretty confident she’ll be giving me a call next week for a second look. While driving back to Mason City, I nearly got rear-ended by a young lady who wasn’t watching the road–likely because she was playing with her smart phone. As chance would have it, there was along line of cars at a railroad crossing which I noticed and stopped, but she almost didn’t notice me in enough time to the point of me bracing myself for a certain hit. Thank goodness she noticed me just in time. When our weather is bad, it’s best to keep our eyes on the road and both hands on our steering wheels.

A couple whom I sold a home to here last summer stopped to visit before I had to head off to an appointment. They moved here from the Seattle area and today announced that the home they sold last year which they considered a fixer-upper, just sold yesterday with multiple offers on it for over $900K. All I could say to them was, “I can’t even envision myself trying to service a debt like that along with keeping up on the taxes, insurance and maintenance.” One of their factors for moving here was to lower their cost of living. I did mention that this past winter has been something like I’ve not seen in decades, and not to worry about every winter being like this past one.

I do wish the powers that be in our City government would work all the harder at promoting Mason City and North Iowa in those many high cost metro areas around our Country. Who in the world would want to face retirement with such debt loads? I kiddingly said to them, “Maybe those buyers of your old home had to mortgage their children to afford it.”

My one-liner for tonight is: Being happy is far more important than anything else.

Cunningly Fomenting

Cunningly FomentingHere we are at the 12th of April, and the snowbanks in the Manor’s parking lot across the street from my office, are still around six feet tall.  Just so you get a better picture of how creepy our weather has been, we are 112 days past the winter solstice which was back on the 21st of December 2017.  But, what’s all the more shocking is finding that after counting 112 days backwards from December 21st of 2017, we would arrive at the date of August 31st.  Now, if we do get another snowstorm on Sunday, that would be akin to having snow in late August.  I think you’re now getting the picture why people are all the more stir-crazy, and this extended snow and cold has a great deal to do with it.

Yesterday I read an article about what’s now happening with our ocean’s cyclical currents which are key components in sustaining all life..  Researchers believe that due to the rapid ice cap melt-offs, those currents are being affected in a bad way which could trigger all the more hellacious climate changes.  It was mentioned that we could be experiencing something far less severe than what was presented in the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow” which was released back in 2004.  I personally watched it a number of years ago, but I think it’s time for me to go back for another viewing.  If you think about it, some of those futuristic films from years ago make us to wonder if a few of those screenwriters were clairvoyantly looking into our planet’s future.

I’m still trying to keep the sale of one of my listings held together, but it looks like things aren’t going well for the selling Realtor’s buyers, and their time to perform is rapidly running out. This situation is getting all the more under my skin because my sellers are two of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.  I’ll do whatever I have can to keep that sale together, but there will come a time when there’ll be a “cutting-loose” of that agent’s buyers so we can move forward and offer it to other willing and able prospects.

My closing this afternoon was another “soft landing” for my senior sellers.  The only reason they decided to move was that the Mr. couldn’t take care of those endless winter and summer exterior chores.  I was compelled to give the Mrs. a big hug because she’s such a dear one.  We both promised to keep in touch because there’s a great goodness that lives within the both of them.  I mentioned to the buyers how lucky they were to get it purchased more sooner than later because we had many calls on their home from the time their purchase contract was signed.

I showed one of my client’s rental today to a young man who’s looking for a larger home for his growing family.  I visited with him a little before he left and found out his girlfriend is expecting her 5th child. I think he was expecting me to be shocked when hearing it, but all I could say was, “I come from a large farm family, and certainly don’t have a problem with couples having more than the average as long as they take active steps in promoting their children’s health and welfare.”  He really didn’t show much of an acknowledgment, so I figured he must not have considered my comment to his liking.  Oh well, that’s my belief and I’m still sticking to it.

With all this heightened saber-rattling that’s going on in Syria and the Middle East after another confirmed chemical attack on innocent men, women, and children, and along with Israel’s bombing of a Syrian military installation, I’m growing all the more fearful we’re moving to some very serious military show-downs.  One international leader I blame the most is Czar Putin because for years, he’s been cunningly fomenting hatred and discord all across the Middle East, Europe, and even here in our Americas. And to think he wants to re-wind the past and restore his world to the status of the old Soviet Union.  Has anyone ever got in his face and soulfully said, “The past is dead.”?

I believe tonight’s one-liner the most appropriate, which is:  Awful punishment awaits really bad people.

Thinking the World

Thinking the WorldFor whatever reason, our supposed warm temps really didn’t feel so mild today due to the dampness in our air and the cold wind ever-blowing from the north.  I was surprised to find the City workers clearing snow away from the curbsides in the Downtown today.  I think they held off on doing it until they realized it wasn’t melting off fast enough–especially on the east/west streets.  I’m glad they were getting rid of it since those snow mounds were becoming all the more hardened and dangerously slippery.

Since my office is still running exceptionally low on active listings, I’ve become all the more pro-active in going after potentials.  Several recently reported sold homes raised a few eyebrows after discovering what they went for–especially one that I was fully familiar with since I’d shown it several times before it sold.  Wow!  I feel sorry for the poor devil/devils who purchased it because as far as I’m concerned they paid way too much for it.  It appears there are desperate buyers ready to buy nearly anything just to say they now own a home.  I pray our market doesn’t crash like it did in 2007/2008 because if it does, there’ll be an great number of “upside-down” toxic mortgages in Mason City and North Iowa.

At one time or another, we find ourselves on a mission to find an item which may no longer exist, yet refusing to go “on-line” to buy it from an internet seller like Amazon, I continued with my search.  All I was looking for, was a claw-foot bath tub drain stopper that would fit an opening of one belonging to a client.  The one that was there, was too small, so anyone wanting to take a bath would have to do it quickly because the water would continue to be slowly draining past that overly-small plug.

In having a little free time yesterday, I drove out to Menards and then over to FleetFarm, and to my surprise, neither of them had them in stock.  Thank goodness while I was out on the east-side of our City on an appointment today, I happened to notice Kramer Ace Hardware on Illinois Ave., so I figured I might as well give them a try.

As I walked in, the gentleman at the counter asked if he could help me find something.  I told him what I was looking for, and wouldn’t you know it, he said they had them in stock and was even good enough to walk me down to where they were in an aisle.  Remembering the size that was too small being 1 1/2 inches, I was delighted to find they sold 1 5/8 inch stoppers.  I guessed it to be the correct one, so decided to purchased it, and then drove to the home in need of it.  I was elated to find it was a perfect fit.  Yeah! I found my personal needle in a haystack.

That find has given me a very good reason to put in a great big “plug” tonight for Kramer Ace Hardware here in Mason City and Clear Lake.  They’re not like the monster do-it yourself stores, but they certainly offer a little of a whole lot, and above all, they’re locally owned.  Believe it our not, they even have all natural, and made in the USA dog chew bones.  Once in a while, I buy one for my dear old client’s dog who goes crazy when seeing me drive up, and only because he knows he’s in for another treat.

The highlight of my day was spending some quality time with several newly arrived residents of Prairie Place on 1st.  I asked how their Easter was, and they said since their family had been there weeks before, they had a pretty quiet day of it with the exception of going to church Services and then to their weekly Sunday dinner at Good Shepherd.  I smiled and said, “You would have seen me there had I not changed my mind at the last minute.”   I was endearingly informed that I’ll be getting a call in the near future to join them for their weekly Sunday dinner.  Most times I turn down dinner invites, but I’d say they’ll be an exception due to my belief  they’re the most precious of of our City’s elder residents, and I’ll likely never stop thinking the world of the both of them now, as well as my going forward in time.  Don’t you think that’s what is considered a real relationship?

My one-liner for tonight is:  “Any surplus is immoral”