Category Archives: Life

Living Example

SET_0229I may be sounding like a broken record, but these windy days are enough to make a person wanna spit, but dare not because it would likely end up back in my face.  Late this morning as I was getting out of my car at Diamond Vogel, the wind would’ve certainly taken my car door off if I hadn’t had a good grip on it.  Although, it did get me out of my car quicker than normal.

Speaking of Diamond Vogel.  I hadn’t shopped there for quite some time due to one of their employees who no longer works there always directing wise cracks about my “perceived” wealth whenever I would shop there.  There were two items in particular I was needing which Sherwin Williams, Fleet Farm, and Menards no longer carried, so I thought I’d see it they had them.

When I walked in, I was pleasantly surprised by the recent remodeling they’d done which very pleasing to the eye. As far as I’m concerned, they’re now light years ahead of Sherwin Williams with their goods and services.  They did carry what I was looking for, which was even better made than what I’d normally purchased elsewhere and at a lower price.  I did tell the clerk he’ll be seeing me shopping there far more often than before. Since they’re an Iowa based company, it makes all the more sense to give them my business.  They were actually offering free homemade chile to their customers today.  I didn’t have time to stay, but did tell them that it smelled good and an appropriate gesture on such a cold and windy day.  It made me smile while driving away and being reminded that Wendy’s is right next door to them offering their own famous chile.

Just after lunch, I realized I needed to walk down to Dollar General to pick up a few items.  With it being only a block north of my office, I found it quite the struggle to get there while walking against the wind down that wind tunnel.  When reaching their front door, I found the wind frantically trying to keep me from getting it open.

After I finally got in, I noticed a very dear and quite elderly lady who’s been not only a past customer, but also a dear friend standing there at the check-out counter.  I greeted her along with giving her a gentle hug.  The guy standing behind the counter said, “Would you mind walking her to her car so I don’t have to close the register to do it?”  I quickly responded, “Why sure! I’d be delighted.”  He went on to say that she nearly fell from the wind pushing her while trying to get inside.

With her bag of purchases in one hand and her arm under another arm, I walked her safely to her car. As we were walking she said, “You know Joe, I was just thinking about you the other day and making a point to call you soon.”  I smiled and said, “That usually happens doesn’t it?  You think of someone and then they appear.”

Believe it or not, that little walk with my dear one from the store to her car was the highlight of my day, because I’ve always considered her another one of our resident angels who is a living example of selflessness.  Considering her age, she still has it all together.  Just so you know, I’ll wager she’s well into her nineties.

Fake News

Fake News-1Ouch!  The cold was pretty darned biting early this morning while on my way to work.  Just 10 more days left, and the sun will have finished with its march south and then slowing working itself back north again.  I’ll be glad of that because I absolutely hate going to work in the dark as well as coming home in the dark.

One of my dear clients stopped by my office this morning with some absolutely yummy Christmas cookies and candy.  Since the phones weren’t ringing off the wall, we were able to have a good long chat.  It’s alway refreshing to converse with like-minded people who have broad knowledge and willing to freely share.  One subject upon which we visited, was about the growing numbers of corporate hog confinements that are being built all over Iowa.  Our State government really must put a stop to that or we’ll soon be finding our water sources depleted, our streams and rivers polluted, and our soil contaminated with trace chemicals which they’re either injecting the hogs with, or feeding them.  Not long ago a young man who works on one told me about a very scary injection they give hogs a few days before they’re sent to the slaughter house.  And to think the FDA gave it a green light knowing what it does to those animals–and we’re eating their meat!

About two weeks ago Aldi’s was offering for sale small packets of somewhat expensive pre-sliced sausage which was imported from I believe Spain.  Since I normally don’t buy hard sausage because it tastes “funny” to me, I figured I’d give what Aldi’s was selling a try.  I made myself the most wonderful little sandwiches consisting of that sausage, a very sharp white all-natural cheddar cheese, a leaf of organic Romaine lettuce, and locally baked hard rye bread.  Just speaking that epicurean experience at that time just now, is making my mouth water.  No wonder everything tastes “funny” anymore because most of it is neither naturally grown nor chemical free.  I think my friend today was right when saying, “Because of all the rampant greed and hatred in our world, God is allowing us to slowly kill ourselves.”

Another subject we were on today was the growing demand for Downtown apartments above our few remaining historic storefronts.  I fully agreed with her because I personally know there are people waiting in line for those few good ones.  Our young professionals are very much into living Downtown, and willing to pay a hefty price per square foot premium to live in one.  I’ve personally seen plans of some that would knock most tenants socks off if there were ever to be built.

Late this afternoon I placed a call to a familiar regarding the direction our local media has been turning of late along with how I’m hearing all the more people saying how they don’t even bother to pay much attention to locally reported news.  The half truths, the bashings, the personally bias thinking, and that ever present wallowing in the miseries of others has grown beyond sickening.  I was quite surprised to find my words being mirrored with her very thoughts and beliefs.  If I were “the power that be” with reporters and editors, I’d be demanding they get back to those long ago established reporting standards and stop trying to create feeding frenzies with our half-informed and gullible general public. Without a doubt, fake news is alive and well in Iowa’s last outpost before entering the borders of the Peoples Republic of Minnesota.

13 Days and Counting

13 Days and Counting-1Here we are again with another day of wind.  I’m beginning to believe this year will go down as being our windiest on record.  While I was back at my menial project for over four hours yesterday, my mind was wandering from subject to subject until I started thinking about these near endless days of wind.  It popped into my mind that perhaps besides global warming, there could be other causes for these noticeable changes in our weather.  Do you think all those giant wind turbines that are sprouting up nearly everywhere in the upper Midwest are having an effect?  Or could it be something more sinister and far-reaching like the rapidly retreating permanent ice sheets that are melting at an alarming rate on our polar caps?  Whatever it is, or combination thereof, is creating a cause for alarm.

I didn’t have any home showings scheduled today, so I busied myself with current sales and bill paying.  One of the bills I paid today has given me all the more reason to believe we need more good and reputable companies that service appliances.  This past month has been a near comedy of errors with one of our local appliance companies.  Two different times they were called to make repairs and when they arrived, they didn’t follow instructions, and subsequently creating another service call.  I wasn’t the most pleasant while on the phone with one of their clerks this afternoon.  I truly understand planned obsolescence, but for something that’s only two years old breaking down is a bit much.

This coming Sunday, I’ve decided to have another public open house at Prairie Place on 1st.  We had a good turnout last month, so perhaps there’ll be another group of interested buyers.  I’ve found the best form of advertising on those units has been the current residents telling friends and relatives.  Last week, I sent several copies of listings to relatives of mine whom I believe would be ready for something better in their golden years.  Just recently I sent a birthday card to a near retirement age colleague saying, “Every age has its beauty as long as we look for it and then reach for it, because I ain’t gonna go backwards.”  We must all come to that stark realization that our past is dead, and in our ultimate best interest, to just keep moving forward.

One of my well knows called me early this morning just to ask how I was doing since we’d last spoken.  I was touched by the call because that person rarely if ever takes the initiative to personally inquire.  It’s nice to know there are those in my life who really do care rather than the with their nasty cob-weby strings attached.  Perhaps out in our general public there’s the beginnings of an awakening to where many are now realizing that we must place more concern on each other instead of ourselves.

After today, I believe all my Christmas shopping for this year is finished.  There are those select few in my life now who I give something tangible.  The gift I’m giving one will likely bring tears of joy, but isn’t that supposed to be one of the Sprits of Christmas–freely giving to those in need?  After looking at the calendar today, we’ve got 13 days and counting remaining until that special day arrives.

Made in China

made-in-chinaAlas it got above freezing this afternoon which with the sun shining brightly which made the day feel almost tolerable.  I’ve been noticing some really bad driving lately by people who’ve likely forgotten that Winter is upon us, and there are, and will be more patches of ice in the future which will place reckless drivers in dangerous positions with others on our roadways who’re all the more prudent.  Seems we’ve had a rash of really bad accidents in North Iowa of late, and I’m hoping it’s over for a long while.

Most of my day was again spent working on files that are moving down the pipeline of closing, along with getting my monthly accounting wrapped up for another 30 days.  A recent hire at a bank was making me antsy by taking so long to post a few transactions for me.  The teller I normally go to was gone when I walked in, but while I was waiting for the teller to finish up, she arrived back at her station. I said to her, “I felt abandoned when finding you gone today.”  She laughed and said, “Sorry no.  I had an early lunch today.”  For sure the next time I’m there, I’ll be sharing my opinions of that “slower than a ten year itch” teller who waited on me today.  Having worked at a bank so very many years ago, I quickly learned that most customers did not like being made to wait any longer than necessary.

When I arrived back at the office, I figured it was time to make sure all statements and transactions for everything looked acceptable.  Oh Mercy!  Back on the phone I went after discovering an error that was made with another account which just happens be one from a nationwide financial institution whose name is likely a household word.  When I finally got thru to customer service,  the young man waiting on me wasn’t able to give me the reason why the error was made.  Not long after he put me on hold so to likely get his supervisor’s take on what happened, I managed to follow the chain of transactions and see what entries had triggered their accounting error.  After he finally returned and likely ready to give me some weak excuse, I walked thru the transactions with him so he would understand.  Looks like I have to wait until sometime Monday for a call back because he couldn’t explain why his institution made those entries.  Keep in mind, I wasn’t screaming or yelling like many do, I was just exceptionally firm and to the point.  Computers.  What are we going to do with them?

While out shopping for several hours today, I decided to look for a new battery driven clock to replace one that finally died on me after many years of service.  Since I’ve become all the more sensitive to buying all I can that’s made in the USA, I almost always look to see where something’s been made.  With that said, I’ll wager I looked at possibly 25 clocks in three different stores, and every single one of them said, “Made in China”.  Urgh!  So it looks like the Chinese even have control of our time!

Just before closing the office today, one of our City’s prominent businesspeople stopped by to wish me Happy Holidays.  Without my even mentioning a word about my struggles with finding a clock made in USA, he said, “You know, it’s always good to have local connections to goods and services.”  I couldn’t have agreed more because local businesses know that if their goods and services can’t be stood behind, they’re on a similar par with everything else that’s either farmed-out or shipped in from another country.

Looks like I’ll be doing a little searching online for a quality wall clock because after today, I’m done looking at multiple boxed clocks with “Made in China” stamped on areas of their cartons where most people don’t even bother noticing.

Swinton’s Word Book

Swinton's Word BookOh Mercy!  The wind was back at it again today to where I really didn’t want to go outdoors any more than I had to, so I made sure to consolidate my errands into two runs.  I certainly wasn’t happy to see the snow flurries, but after looking at the weather forecast, there shouldn’t be much if any accumulation to worry about.

I was wrestling with the idea of having a public open house this weekend due to the weather, but in the end, I caved and decided to have one at 1415 – 9th St. SE this coming Saturday from 1 – 3 pm.  With all the activity we’ve been getting on it, I’ll not be surprised if it gets sold before my showing starts. Given the amount of activity in our market, the likelihood is definitely there.

I spent several hours showing commercial properties this afternoon to a gentleman looking for a spot that’ll fit his needs.  It can certainly be a little creepy when out in large vacant buildings where the wind is howling outside and the inside temperatures are very low.  There was some definite interest in one of them, so perhaps those frigid hours weren’t a waste.

My late afternoon was spent showing several units over at Prairie Place on 1st to an out of town buyer.  He did mention that the complex offered much more than he was expecting–especially its quality of construction.  When I got back to the office after showing it, I made a note to write to a woman about those units who lost her husband about three years ago and still living alone out in the country.  I know for certain she can well afford purchasing one.  I’ll never come to an understanding of why so many of our elderly in North Iowa who have such large amounts of excess cash, continue to live embarrassingly modest lives only for the sake of holding on to their assets for their so-called legacies.

Having about a half hour free, I decided to take a break and run thru some Christmas music on the piano at my office.  I think it helped to get me kick-started into the Holiday spirit.  There’s only about 18 more days before it happens, so it was either now or never.

One of my dear clients who knows how much I enjoy old books, gifted me a delightful one several days ago.  The last copyright was in the year 1900 and the first being 1872.  After paging thru it, I came to a real understanding of how much our English language has evolved over these 117+ years.  There were words in use at the time which I’ve never heard of before, and perhaps I’ll have to bring a few back to life for good measure.

One word I found which piqued my interest was sobriquet.  Without making you look it up, it means nickname.  After reading it, many of the sobriquets I remembered from my youth came to mind like, Bubba, Cricket, Poke Eye, Slash, Dark Cloud, Grasshopper, Tricksy, Babe, Tweetie, Toodles, Oreo, and the list goes on.  I’ll have to share a few more words with you all in the future from that wonderful book gifted to me by my client.  The above photo is one I took of Swinton’s Word Book.

Downright Pathetic

Downright PatheticWhat a change in weather!  I was hoping Mother Nature would’ve eased us into Winter a little more soulfully considering how warm it was yesterday, but it appeared not the case when finding today being beastly cold, and made worse by that north wind blowing so hard.

When I walked over early this morning to the Courthouse which is only one block from my office, I was half frozen by the time I got there.  Just as I was leaving, there stood a gentleman handing me my “I Voted” sticker.  He mentioned I happened to be the second voter to arrive.  I couldn’t help but say, “So I don’t get my trophy for at least participating?”  I guess the others in the room found my remark funny enough to laugh.  I would surmise they’ve also been in situations where everyone wants to be a winner.

Believe it or not, I sold another home today to some long-term clients.  I’m exceptionally happy for them because I know by the time they’re finished with it, it’ll be one more grand home that’s been saved from the long arms and deep pockets of our rental barons. After it closes, I’ll have to make sure to stop by once in a while to see their progress along with sharing a few helpful suggestions.  The flow of its floor plan was well thought-out when it was designed a 100+ years ago.

Speaking of older homes, one of my customers stopped by for a chat this afternoon, and we somehow ended up on the subject of older versus newer homes.  I guess he’s definitely in the crowd of preferring the older ones.  He went on to talk about how nearly everything you buy at Menards now is either fabricated materials that are made to look like real wood, or plastic that is supposed to appear to be the real thing.

Being on the subject of wood, I went on to share with him some of the old ways of finish carpentry.  Did you know that those seasoned and highly sought after carpenters would actually hand select each piece of lumber that was to be used in custom homes they were building from the ground up?  Some would pick thru large piles of hardwoods that were to be used for those gorgeous built-ins, staircases, and mouldings just so to help create balance in grain and color. He actually didn’t realize there was that much care given when choosing components of those turn-of-the-century homes.  I laughed and said, “Now you understand why they’re still standing because they were built to last for generations.”

After reading an article recently written by one the Globe-Gazette staffers, I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that nearly every person that’s writing articles for our area news sources have all been bitten by the same monkey.  There nearly always has to be some negative inference that’s being made about someone using weak facts so to “hook” their readers into being pulled down dark paths of thought.  Most don’t pay that much attention to styles of reporting/writing, but if you really pay close enough attention, you’ll understand.

Just spend a little time comparing the reporting of our area journalists, and you’ll soon come to the conclusion that their articles border on tabloid trash of which I never waste my time reading.  Are the medias in our City hurting that bad for subscribers that they have to resort to the sensationalism of the tabloids so they can at least meet their payrolls along with keeping their light bills paid?  It’s beyond being sad to where it’s downright pathetic.

Your Soul Whispering

Your Soul WhisperingWith our Sunday starting off with delightful weather, it looks like we’re headed for a great rest of the week.  Perhaps many will be able to get a few more outside projects finished before the temps dip back down.  When looking at our extended weather outlook, I read they’re indicating now that we’ll have normal to above normal temps these next thirty days.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a Christmas without a blizzard or heavy snowfall?  Yes, everyone wants it white during that time, but let’s not be too hopeful for fear we’ll have tall and long-lingering snowbanks.

I believe it was the winter of 2013/2014 that had me nearly fit to be tied by the amount of snow I had to shovel on a near daily basis.  Since my mother’s home was located on a corner lot, yours truly really got his workout keeping those long sidewalks and driveway cleared.  The snowbanks had grown to be so tall, I had to use a smaller shovel so I’d be able to “throw” that heavy snow atop those snow-filled mountains.

The near two hours today I was with potential buyers of a Prairie Place on 1st condo who’re hailing from Cedar Rapids, were exceptionally impressed with its whole concept.  I was confident they would be happy with what they were looking at since they’ve already inspected other complexes.  Thank goodness we had a near perfect day for their detailed inspection.

Yesterday I listed an absolutely charming 3 bedroom 1 1/2 bath home located at 122 – 11th St. SW here in Mason City.  First off, it’s positioned directly across the street from a child-friendly neighborhood park.  If there’s a growing family still out there looking, this home will certainly fit their needs.  I absolutely love it’s beautiful new oak kitchen, the big main floor laundry room, and most certainly the 3rd floor bedroom that would make a perfect bedroom for a growing child.  It offers permanent siding, thermal windows, central air, all the appliances, and a big 2 car garage. Someone’s going to get all of this for only $94,500!  Seeing is believing, so be sure to tell friends and relatives to call Holtz Realty for a viewing.

Early this morning I had to drive down to Rockwell on an appointment to show a home that’s listed there at my buyer’s request.  We weren’t there very long due to its location and overall size not of their liking.  The sad thing about working with them, is that I know pretty much what they’re looking for, but there’s nothing available right now.  Every day I check the new listings in hopes there’ll be just that one all of us have been waiting for.

Several days ago I ran into a gentleman whom I’ve known for some time. We chatted a bit, but then he paused and said, “I want you to be the first in the general public to know I’m quitting my job and going into professional training to help the handicapped.”  I was nearly brought to tears by the way in which he was telling me how much he’s always wanted to help others who have mental and physical limitations.

I congratulated him immensely for taking a path that’s been as he said, “My deep calling in life.”  I patted him on the back and shook his hand while saying, “It appears you’re one of the rare ones in our times who’ve been able to quiet down enough so to hear your soul whispering to you what you’ve been afraid to hear because nearly everyone’s been programmed to believe that self-worth must always have dollar signs attached. With that said, there’s no doubt you’ll finally find yourself being fulfilled when seeing all the great and lasting differences you’ll make with those you’ve chosen freely to help.”  I had a very warm feeling about his new-found career, and near certain he’ll be a great fit for his newfound calling.

The above photo is one I took of our evening half moon.  Every time I see a half moon, I think of the Half Moon Inn that used to be so very popular all the many years ago.