Category Archives: Life

Much Worse

Much Worse-1Without a doubt, my two public open houses were a success today.  There were people coming and going nearly the entire time and as well as some staying a while.  I believe the general buying public is starting to realize those two homes are in great neighborhoods and certainly priced to sell.

Expecting to have a day off tomorrow to get some much needed work done, I found myself being called upon to show homes to two different sets of buyers.  Both have schedules that make it near impossible to look during the week.  Oh well, there goes my planned menial day of labor.

My first order of tomorrow is to play the organ for St. Paul Lutheran Church’s Service here in Mason City which begins at 9:00 am.  As chance would have it, I had an opportunity to meet their new interim pastor who is a delightful person and certainly should be well received by the congregation.  Some day I may have myself up to speed with their order of service as well as being comfortable with their vintage pipe organ.  Practice makes perfect. Right?

I couldn’t help but get a good teasing in today with a person whom I sold he and his wife their previous home a number of years ago.  More than once they had me over to their home to give them tips on getting it primed for the market.  Not but a month or two later, I became quite irked to find they’d listed it with another agent.  He intimated today that there were favors owed that particular agent which prompted their turning away from listing it with me.  At least I did get my two cents worth in and perhaps he did walk away with one small feeling of guilt.

In between my open homes today, I decided to call a dear friend who recently lost a close relative.  After listening to him speak of his great loss and the way in which the surviving spouse is acting, I said, “Don’t be a bit surprised if a year or two from now the surviving spouse will be re-writing the history of their long term relationship to where the decedent did nothing to help build the wealth that now remains.  I’ve seen it happen many times, and most likely there’ll be a new “special” friend with benefits arrive on the scene.”  I’m glad I said what I did because he admitted feeling the same way about what’ll happen and is very angry about it. At least he now knows I empathize with him.

After reading the news today about what’s taking place in Florida, my heart goes out to those millions who’re likely facing the worst catastrophes of their lives.  When thinking about all that’s been happening in our Country as well as the world, I’ve come to the frightening conclusion there’s something very wrong at work.  It’s almost as if some invisible force is affecting humans as well as Nature in a very bad way. In spite of how bad we think our lives are at present, we must always remember it could be much worse.  I’ve already chided myself for over-reacting about having to spend over $5,000.00 this year with tree removals due to these wicked storms we’ve been having this year.  I’m working all the more at keeping in perspective all of life’s bumps in the road so to be ready when and if something all the more cataclysmic takes place.

An Illusion

cafe-wall-bigHopefully everyone is enjoying these last days of summer to where they’re seizing each day to it’s fullest.  As a matter of fact, the last days of summer from years gone by hold for me some of the most precious of memories.  Speaking of them now bring back visions of the gathering of produce from our gardens.  These were the days when the raspberries were growing heaving with fruit and buckets of them picked to be sold to waiting buyers.  It was always the race against time to get as many picked before the frosts arrived.  Some years were bountiful while others not.

Whenever out picking with another, there’d be jokes told, stories weaved, and crazy songs being sung. Whomever worked those rows during those years still have vivid memories of the light, the sights, the sounds, and smells. We always had the company of the honey bees going from flower to flower and paying absolutely no attention to a human’s hand or arm.  Truth be told, no one was ever stung by one of them. It may have been tedious and time consuming, but there was always the essence of something special taking place while out there.  Perhaps it was due to being as close as one could get to having a real communion with our Mother Nature.

Please don’t forget to check out the two public open houses I’ll be hosting tomorrow.  The first one is a charming 3 bedroom bungalow located at 107 S. Rhode Island which just today received a price reduction.  It’s a beautiful home in a great neighborhood.  Even the appliances are included.

My second open house is located at 1031 – 10th St. NE which is a one owner 3 bedroom ranch with a main floor den with a gas fireplace. It also has a big 2 car attached garage with a large storage room attached.  If anyone loves nature, this is the place to be.  It’s located on a very quiet street with great views of a green space across the street.  You won’t find any better than this.

We have another purchase contract signed on Prairie Place on 1st this week which should give a signal to everyone over 55 years old that this is the “Place” to be.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s not just a great place to call home, but an investment that’ll continue to grow in value.  If you’re having even the slightest of interest, please give me a call and I’ll schedule a private tour of the complex.  There’s no question in my mind that after they’re all sold out, there’ll be seniors in North Iowa who’ll be kicking themselves for not buying one.

Just recently I visited with a person who seems to believe the world is out to get him.  There’s likely not a day that passes where another question is raised and a suspected conspiracy taking place in his midst.  For some time I refused to listen to his innuendos regarding people in his family and/or those in the general public.  Not long into the conversation I said, “You’re well over 70 years of age and I believe it’s time to stop this craziness.”  I know he didn’t like hearing that, but sometimes people like him need to wake up and realize the world is not out to get them.  It’s all an illusion they’ve created in their minds.  Now please, if I start acting like him, I want someone to give me a good slapping back to reality for which I’ll later be gladly thankful.

Blinding Sun

Blinding Sun-1It scared me a bit when stepping outside this morning and finding it in the low 40s with it being only the 7th of September.  At least it warmed up nicely after the sun climbed high in the sky.  It’s amazing how the seasons can so quickly change to where it’s almost as if there’s an invisible switch that gets flipped.  Even when driving out of town today, I noticed how the soybean fields have nearly overnight started turning yellow.

Now is the time when we begin internalizing over what’s the most important to be done before our first hard frost arrives.  Of course there’s the yard and garden clean-up from summer’s growth, the storing away of lawn and deck furniture, along with all the other spring/summer associated items which are no longer fit this season.

There’ll be short vacations being taken to the more forested areas of our State and surrounding as the leaves start turning.  I like seeing fall colors, but not to the point where days would be spent following their turnings.  There are a number of people I know who consider Fall their favorite season of the year, but mine has always been Summer.  Yes, there’s the heat, humidity, and the battalions of flying/biting insects to endure, but when stepping back and looking at the whole picture, there’s no better season.

While driving around town just these past weeks, I’ve been noticing some pretty sickly oak trees.  I’m wondering if the oak blight is still taking its toll on our oldies.  I was in a grove of ancient oaks today and said to those walking with me, “If only these granddaddies could speak, they’d have us all captivated for hours.”  That particular grove looked to be one of the most un-touched by civilization I’ve walked in a very long time. Of course I did notice some nasty European Buckthorns growing under their canopies.  It would be great if our general public would become more aggressive in helping to eradicate them once and for all along with a few other invasive plants growing in North Iowa.

Another by-product of a 3 day holiday is the more quick arrival of  the following weekend.  I nearly forgot to get my public open houses for Saturday posted online before their deadline.  Today was supposed to be Wednesday.  Right?  In spite it being a short week, there’s been quite a bit of activity on my listings.  Perhaps there’s a primeval “knowing” that’s been triggered in the minds of wanna-be home owners that they’d best get themselves looking and purchasing so to be in before the arrival of our annual “Ice Age”.

The most important reminder I want to mention to everyone, is that we’re now approaching our autumnal equinox, and visibility for drivers in the early morning and evening is going to be more limited due to the sun shining in our eyes whenever driving due east in the morning or due west in the evening. Thanks to our fore-fathers laying out our roads and streets on near compass-perfect  grids, we must be all the more watchful in and around the 22nd of September.  I’m already getting a taste of that full blinding sun in the morning.  Be more watchful and stay safe.

Something Troubling

Something Troubling-1I’m hoping tomorrow will be a little less dis-jointed than today was.  Seems every time I have a rental posted, the phone never seems to stop ringing.  While someone was sitting across the desk from me yesterday, the phone rang, I excused myself and I picked it up knowing full well it was another rental inquiry.  When I hung up, my client laughed and said, “Isn’t it hilarious when finding people who continue to ask questions, and when you attempt to answer even the first, they’re on to the next one.”  That caller’s voice was so loud, I think the entire office could’ve heard her.  She was being so rude that I finally had to wait until she stopped talking before I gave any sort of answer.  My client certainly had something to talk about after overhearing her conversation with me.  Oh Mercy!

During my lunch hour I had to stop and pick up some supplies at a store, and while turning down an aisle, I noticed a man likely somewhere around 60 years of age in search of something.  When he turned to face me, I was shocked to see him “wearing” a braided goatee that hung down at least eight inches from his chin.  I was shocked to the point of having to turn away.  As I was walking back towards the checkout with items in hand, there he was asking the cashier where something was located. She pointed pointed towards the corner of the store and off he scurried with his shopping cart.

The first thing I said while placing my items on the counter was, “I’m not sure if it’ll be three lives going forward or possibly three alternate-universe past lives where you’ll see me growing and then braiding a goatee like his!”  She giggled a little and whispered, “It sure takes all kinds.”  I then replied, “I know God loves us all great and small, but why don’t people try to look their best anymore–especially when out in public?”  She just shrugged her shoulders and nodded an acknowledgement.

While driving back to the office I couldn’t stop thinking about how ragged looking our population has become.  I’m sure many of you remember a generation or so ago how rarely you’d ever see someone dressed in a “trampish” style.  I remember once when very young and seated in the back seat of our Mercury station wagon and hearing my mother while driving calling out, “Just look at that tramp!”  Having heard what a tramp looked like but never before seeing one, I jumped in my seat to get a good look at one.  There he was, wearing sagging clothes that looked like they’d not been washed in weeks, disheveled long hair, and a face long unshaved.  Now speed dial my visual forward and you likely see one or two a day without even looking for one.  It’s sad but true, and I’m still wondering when the pendulum is going to swing back.

One of my dear clients whom I’ve known for many years stopped today to share her frustration after coming from the Courthouse to pay her real estate taxes.  “My tax bill was 10% higher this year than it was the last!” she exclaimed.  She then said something that really got me to thinking by saying, “You know I take very good care of my home and I’m now beginning to think I’m being punished for keeping it in such good shape.  I think the people who really need to be heavily taxed are those who allow their homes to deteriorate so their taxes go down.  If our taxing structure would be reversed, then maybe people would take better care of their homes so to be afforded property tax relief.”  All I could say was, “It’s just another example of how our system becomes punitive towards those who take care of what they own, and benevolent towards those who don’t.”    I think she felt better when leaving by knowing I also agree there’s something troubling about our tax system.  I’m also wondering how some of our European neighbors across the big pond assess and calculate their property taxation.  If I have time, I’ll certainly investigate.

Soft Transitions

Soft Transitions-1If one would ask me what work days I dread the most, I’d say the Tuesdays following a three day holiday weekend.  Today was likely one of the worst due to not only sales calls coming in, but also calls for rentals.  Some of the callers for rentals can get almost belligerent with their questioning which causes me to bristle all the more.  There’s no question in my mind that the numbers are rising in our general public who have exceptionally weak phone skills as well as manners.  Perhaps all the voice activated answering systems many of the corporations have in place are creating people who treat real-life phone answers like machines.

Yesterday I spoke about a handful of offers that seem to be going nowhere.  After the close of today’s business, I see possibly one of them coming together on price while the rest of them will quietly fade away as missed opportunities, and later be looked back by those involved saying, “I should have, could have, and would have.”  Just today someone mentioned something about a missed opportunity he had about five years ago, and still kicks himself for not buying the home.

People really do get bent out of shape over amounts without looking at the entirety of the purchase price vs asking price.   For example if you use the rounded amount of say $100,000.00 and a particular buyer and seller are at what appears to be a great distance apart when stuck at say a $10,000.00 price difference between what’s being offered and what the seller is willing to take, that amount is only 10% more the buyer would have to pay, and 10% less the seller would have to take to get the deal done.  When you look at it in such a light, what’s the big issue over 10%?  Whenever we go shopping for bargains, we see items selling at 20%, 30% and even 50% less than the original prices.  Too many are stuck on numbers instead of percentages–especially when it comes to housing.

Oh Mercy!  Did I ever have a real eye-opening experience today when visiting an apartment where a young couple is living who’re expecting.  First off, they can’t be any older than maybe 19 or 20.  The apartment appeared as something you’d see in a television documentary about life in a 3rd world country.  There in the corner was a raw mattress on the floor with no sheets or blankets on it along with no pillow case covers.  I shuttered even trying to imagine sleeping on something like that.  I don’t believe there was even a couch or upholstered chair in the unit.  All I could see were clothes on the floor, that mattress, a TV blaring, and dirty dishes in the kitchen sink.  And to think there’s baby coming!  I have a feeling I’m going to have a nightmare tonight.

On a positive note, I showed one of our historic homes today and decided I’m falling all the more in like with it’s charming staircase.  I’ve always been a pushover for open staircases.   They always seem to set the mood of a home when walking in, as well as creating a pleasant transition between the general living floor and the nighttime floor.

If you think about it, there are a multitude of reasons why builders over the centuries created open staircases.  I consider their primary jobs to be ones creating soft transitions.

Damper on It

Damper on ItI hope everyone has been enjoying their Labor Day weekend these past three days.  The weather has certainly been pleasant enough for outdoor barbecues and backyard get togethers.  Several of my neighbors were busy partying with their relatives and friends.  I’m just glad everyone had time to relax or have time work on their personal projects.

Since I’m still plugging away at a project of my own, this free Monday gave me all the more time to focus on getting it all the closer to being finished.  I’ve been trying to believe over this hectic summer that I’m over the hump with it, but after today’s workout, I’m convinced the project is well over halfway complete which will cause it to start moving along all the faster.

I’m really not sure what has been going on with North Iowa’s buyers and sellers these past five days.  I wrote another offer today on one of my listings which is far too low for the sellers to even consider.  I nearly had a jaw-drop when the buyer told me how much he wanted to offer, but with it being my listing, I had to remain the “order taker”.  Perhaps there’s some sort of negative effect on the general population due to a possible bad configuration of the moon, sun, and stars.  Hopefully the rest of this workweek will be more productive.

Late this morning I ran into the most delightful young couple whom I sold a home to last year.  We played catch up on what’s been happening in each other’s lives.  I was shocked to hear how they’ve been having problems with a family in their neighborhood who seem to think they can do just about anything they want and expect everyone to look the other way.  I asked where they live and what their names were.  After mentioning their names and where their home is located, all I could do was say, “I know of them and if I were you, I’d create real boundaries and stand your ground.”

After hearing what those naughty neighbors have been up to, I was once again reminded how it sometimes only takes one bad family to create a toxic neighborhood to where people hesitate to buy or rent anywhere in its vicinity.  Some years ago there was a family that lived here who created a similar situation in a different neighborhood.  They became so notoriously well known in our City, that the next evening after they drove off with their moving van, there was a great deal of quiet celebrating going on by nearly everyone that crossed their paths.  Yes, I personally even said, “Good riddance to bad rubbish!”  On my way home tonight, I made a point to drive by the home my customers were speaking of, and sure enough, the entirety of that property appeared to be in a state of “cluster dysfunction”.  And to think they have children living in that pig stye.

As chance would have it, I found a little treasure buried today which I tried to get cleaned up enough so to share the above photo of it with you.  It is a damper that would’ve been part of a wood cookstove stovepipe assembly.  It would’ve been inside the exhaust pipe which would have released the smoke from a fire  to the exterior.  Wood and coal furnaces had a similar damper assembly, but only much larger.  This one is certainly much over 100 years old and was either part of a parlor stove or a kitchen range back when in operation since it was made for a 6″ stovepipe opening.

The purpose of these dampers was to let more or less smoke out of the chimney pipes.  The more open the dampers would be, the faster burning, and hotter the fires would be.  After closing it down so to speak, they would force the fires to burn more slowly due to the fire’s diminished exhaust ability.  When all the way open, there would be a greater draw or “draft” of smoke going out, and below, there’d be a roaring hot fires.  Understand?

Now you’ve all heard someone say, “Put a damper on it.”  That thought was created by connecting the idea or “memory” of slowing, or quieting something down like in the old days when parlor and kitchen cookstoves were in use.   So the next time someone is a little out of control, say to him or her, “Put a damper on it.”, and then ask if they know from where the “damper” originated.

Leather is Better

Leather is BetterThis was the first Sunday in a very long time that I didn’t have at least one real estate related appointment, so I decided from the time I got up, there would be long over-due menial chores to be completed.

My first order was to get the grass mowed behind my office and pull a few weeds in and around the alley that were starting to go to seed.  It’s becoming all the more evident that whomever was cleaning out the public flower beds in our Historic District of Downtown didn’t know the difference between weeds and flowers, as well as rogue trees that are getting all the taller in and amongst the bushes.  What I did notice earlier in the Spring, was someone using a chain saw to cut back the bushes. I think they should have made sure there were not tree seedlings growing before they started sawing.  You don’t cut tree seedlings because they just grow right back. One must pull them out by the roots so to bring them to their end.

My next order of the day was to get some office furniture moved around. It took me quite a bit longer than I expected, but at least it’s a more comfortable arrangement.  We’ll see how quickly I grow accustomed to my newly altered work area.  One of the big changes was getting rid of my personal desk chair to make room for a new replacement.  Hopefully it will be just as comfortable if not more so than my previous.  My old chair was a Christmas gift to me not long after I started working for Holtz Realty as an associate broker.  It has served me well for more years than I would’ve imagined.  It just goes to show how well built items out-last what’s now being offered in our big box stores.  My new one has far more adjustments on it which I’ll have to investigate further.

After reading an email sent to me yesterday by a contractor who’s been late getting an agreed-to project completed, I started seeing red when realizing he hadn’t even looked at the project until he went over to get started on it.  He’s insisting I get more prep-work done before he begins.  Unfortunately for him, I do remember what he said he would and wouldn’t do, and what he now wants me to do, is what was he agreed by phone, but not in his written bid. In the beginning I believed his bid to be exceptionally high,  but I’ve now found him to be a bit of a liar along with being lazy bugger.  I’m going to work very hard at finding a replacement for him and his “weak” company.  North Iowa has too few fairly priced and reputable companies from which to choose, and if I have anything to say about it,  their numbers will increase in time.

One of my chores today was to do some heavy duty weed pulling.  The ones that most people shy away from are the thistles and others of the like which have either prickly leaves or stems, or even both.  About a month ago I ordered a very good pair of real leather garden gloves which I thought to be expensive at the time, but soon discovered they certainly did the trick, which is all that matters.  Most don’t realize that if you cut a thistle off at the ground, it will grow all the more, and even spread by sending out more shoots underground.  With our soil still being moist, I was able to pull nearly all of them up by their roots.  Yeah!

The above photo is of my well used pair of thorn-resistant gloves.  I think every active gardener deserves a pair just because real leather is better.