Category Archives: Life

The Drip Pan

The Drip PanThere wasn’t much of anything noteworthy that took place this morning other than just running a few errands and a slow continuation of getting my office in order for this year’s market.  Believe me, I’m enjoying every day this week that’s above freezing.

One of my clients called late this morning asking if I would have time to meet with one of his customers who is in need of some real estate advice.  With an hour or two to kill, I told him to send him down if he had time.  About 15 minutes later, a tall elderly gentleman walked into my office asking for me.  We did our introductions and then walked back into my office.

It took about a half hour or so to get the answers to his questions written down with some notations.  I then went on to give him possible options for resolving his real estate dilemma.  When finished, he thanked me immensely and then asked if I had time to hear a few of his life stories.  I said, “Sure.”, and so the stories began.

After listening to him for well over an hour, I was once again reminded how many exceptionally intelligent and well traveled people we have living under the radar in our small city.  While sharing, he’d stop himself once in a while and say, “Now remember, I’m not making these stories up. They’re real.”  Without a doubt, I was “wowed”!

Being well enough read over these years, I didn’t question the authenticity of his life stories, because unbeknownst to him, one of his travels and occupations was during a time in history which I did a great deal of reading about afterwards.  When he got up and started walking out he said, “I hope I didn’t take up too much of your time today.”  I told him to stop back any time if ever in the mood to continue on with his life experiences.  After he left I had a distinct “feeling” our paths would be crossing again and again, and I think that’ll be just OK.

My late afternoon appointment took me out to preview a vacant home.  While walking thru that 1920′s bungalow, I was quite impressed by the condition and beauty of its never-been-painted oak woodwork.  It marvels me at times to see how homes that are a 100+- years old managed to survive the 1940′s, 1950′s, and 1960′s where the owners were hell-bent on painting their woodwork so to make them appear more “modern”.  I’ve done more stripping of sinfully painted old growth hardwoods over the years than I’ll ever want to start remembering or sharing.

While walking down the back entry on my way to the basement, to my delight I noticed the home’s original wooden icebox still intact.  Now that was a sight worth me taking a photo and sharing.  Very rarely anymore do we find them still in place, and if there is one, nearly every buyer in these times have no idea what they are.

Back before electric refrigeration, people would have a block of ice delivered thru an outside hatch door into that unit so they could keep their fresh veggies and meats from spoiling.  I opened the ice box doors and noticed even the wire racks were still there.  Of course the back hatch had been sealed off and extra styrofoam insulation had been inserted at its bottom.  There’s a long narrow hinged door at the below which when opened, was where the drip pan was kept. Of course, that pan was no longer there.

Now, you believe you have it so hard in these times?  Just think how many times you’d have to empty a drip pan that was continually being filled by the dripping of water from those endless melting blocks of ice over a year’s time.  And people think that housewives in those days didn’t have just as big or bigger jobs than their working husbands. Do the math! Remembering to empty their drip pans was just one small job of all the many on-going duties that had to be performed along with countless others that no longer exist today due to our modern technologies.  The above photo is of that icebox which was manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa, and most certainly worthy of social conversation.

The Gorilla Glue

DSC_5229Oh what a delight it was to be able to go outside without covering nearly every square inch of one’s body just to keep from getting frostbite.  I normally have to cover my nose and mouth so to keep that really cold air from making me cough.  It has a near strangling effect on me which is likely one more genetic predisposition some of us have to endure.

Early this morning I had a quick chat with one of my well knowns who was making me laugh about a gag gift he received several days ago.  The more we talked about possible uses for it, the more we laughed. It’s always good to get as many good belly laughs as possible in these times.  It helps to keep us from turning all the more inward.

DSC_5234Having my afternoon free, I spent nearly five hours working on two menial jobs, and one of which is my on-going little-big project.  It’s amazing how quickly time goes by when in a mild state of hyper-focus.  That’s one thing I discovered about myself a very long time ago when someone nearly caused me to fall off a ladder because I wasn’t paying the least bit of attention to my surroundings.  A very naughty monkey Realtor who’s now retired thought he was funny by grabbing my leg which caused me to bolt.  People can do the craziest things to others which they believe to be funny, but had I fallen on the pavement, I would’ve likely broken something.  I wonder how many unreported accidents are caused by someone trying to be cute, but never reported.

With this being my Sunday to play for St. Paul Lutheran Church, I made sure to get over there about an hour before their Services started.  This was their Holy Communion Sunday which has more Liturgical music to be played, and thank goodness I was comfortable enough playing those extra pieces.

DSC_5233Another reason I went early was to have time before the church started filling so to take some photos of its interior while not interrupting any of their early arrivals.  There are always those communities of faith who have members who prefer to pray quietly alone before their Services begin, and I can fully relate to that.

The main photo I wanted to take was of the Cross that hangs in their Sanctuary which I’ve always considered a beautiful work of religious art.   The person who created it did a beautiful job with the representation of the Risen Christ which I believe gives more meaning to the concept of eternal life.

The three windows behind the altar are also captivating because below them is written, Faith, Hope, and Charity.  What a wonderful triad of inspiration for everyone to see.  The other set of windows I took a photo of are located in the right hand transept.  Being a real fan of art contained in stained glass windows, I’d say whomever created them was a master. And lastly, the “big” window is the one filling the back of the gallery.

DSC_5232-EditSince nearly all my time at St. Paul’s is spent up in that gallery, I have a bird’s eye view of the movements below.  With that said, I’m convinced their congregation is a great example of a Community of Faith who’ve freely made a commitment to be there each and every Sunday.  Faith is not going thru one’s religious motions once a week and calling it good, but rather being a time when everyone’s faith comes alive and subsequently shared with each and every one in attendance.  Now that’s what I call a living and breathing spirituality!

This is why I’m a firm believer that everyone should be a part of some religious community whether it’s big or small, because a community of faith is the gorilla glue that binds a city or town’s secular components so they continue moving in an upward and moral direction. Am I making sense?

I hope you all enjoy these few photos of St. Paul Lutheran Church’s interior, and I’m not exaggerating by saying it’s a charming church belonging to noticeably wholesome members.  Wishing you all a delightful day tomorrow.

Some Good Reads

Some Good ReadsAs suspected, my day was a busy one with appointments before and after my public open house. In spite of it being exceptionally cold out again this morning, it did finally start warming up to at least being above zero.  But of course, the winds have started again, so even though tomorrow is supposed to be 30 degrees for a high, I’d say it won’t feel like it if we are still having today’s gusts.

I absolutely could not believe how two people were dressed when arriving at a home they wanted to see.  Oh mercy!  They both appeared to have put back on the same dirty clothes they’d been wearing for at least this last week.  Since it was relatively early in the morning, they couldn’t have possibly got that dirty before the hour.  Seeing them, I was once again reminded how so many humans could care less how they appear in public.

Being brought up in a relatively strict and conservative household,  I’ll likely never get used to seeing some people dressing as they do while out and about.  Why in the world would anyone want to look as bad as possible to others?  Is it to invoke pity?  Is it laziness?  Or maybe it’s a reflection of how they inwardly feel about themselves.  My dear grandmother used to say, “We should always work at looking our best each and every day because it helps to maintain our self-esteem.”  I’ve also seen my share of grannies and gramps trying to dress trampy like some of our rebel teens.  It really isn’t a pretty sight.

Judging by the numbers in attendance, I’d say my public open house at 1034 Park Lane was a great success.  There were more than just one or two looking it over pretty closely.  It won’t surprise me if it’s sold before this next week is out.  I was sure to mention all the expensive recent updates that were made by the current owner.  There were even several people arriving about five minutes before closing time.

One of my scheduled duties tomorrow is to be St. Paul Lutheran’s accompanist for their morning Service.  I’ve pretty much got all the music they want played down pat, so hopefully all will go well.  I mustn’t forget my camera this time because I want to take a few more photos of their church’s interior–especially one or two of their beautifully carved wooden cross signifying the Risen Christ.

I received a touching thank you card from one of the people I sent a gift card to over the Holidays.  As I mentioned before, I only gave gifts to those few whom I considered deserving and/or needing.  The person who wrote the note is noticeably well read along with being one who’s done much for many in very quiet ways.

My first issue of “The Economist” arrived today which I ordered before Christmas as a gift to myself.  Just leafing thru it, I’m already thinking it’ll be one of the more useful gifts I’ve given myself.  I’ll have to leave the old issues up at the front table of my office for anyone in need of someone looking for a good read.  Here’s wishing your day tomorrow to be warm enough to freely venture out after enduring many days of dangerous temperatures.


Outdoorsy-1I’m sure many of you are happy it’s the end of our short, yet brutally cold work week and now able to keep closer to home and out of the chill of it.  It sounds like for the first time in weeks, it’ll be hovering around freezing on Sunday.   Hopefully, it won’t be so cold out tomorrow for my public open house located at 1034 Park Lane here in Mason City which is scheduled between 1:00 – 3:00 pm.

If 1034 Park Lane had been listed before winter hit, I’m sure it would’ve been sold right out of the gates simply because of its location,  being a newer 3bedroom ranch with a double attached garage, and its pricing.  There were a number of similar homes that sold this past year which were in the same range which sold within days of being listed.  Hopefully the buyers will be out in full force tomorrow and it’ll get sold.

While working on some accounting entries, a gentleman I hadn’t seen for quite a number of months arrived with a few inquiries about rentals.  After answering his questions, we had a good chat about a number of recent happenings.  I’m finding all the more of our residents doing a sort of hunkering down by not being as normally interactive with our community.  I only wish there’d be more of our recently retired seniors actively seeking charity work so to get themselves out of their houses and putting their minds and bodies to work on civic-minded projects.

Once in a while I happen to drive past a home occupied by a couple who recently retired, and just recently I noticed they’d installed the most monstrous television that’s mounted on their living room wall which has been on whenever I happen to be driving down their street.  I guess they’re just another one of the statistics where couples retire, hole themselves up in their homes, sit around watching television while waiting for God.  It’s creep scary as far as I’m concerned, because I’d be ready to climb the walls if trapped inside my home all day with a monster TV continuously playing.  There are some I know who have to have a television on in their bedrooms all night just so they can sleep.  Now how did that get started?

Early this afternoon I went out to a clients home to go over a few items.  I was glad she called because I hadn’t personally seen her since announcing her pregnancy, and carrying twins mind you!  After we went over what was needed, I soulfully said to her, “Because I know you well enough, I’m convinced you’ll be a great mother.”   I couldn’t help but share a story with her about one of my dear sisters who chose not to have children in spite my badgering her when young regarding my belief she’d make a wonderful mother because of knowing how kind and gentle she was towards nearly every living thing.  I actually became a little teary-eyed while making comparisons.

After looking at my appointments scheduled for tomorrow, I’ll likely be a busy bee nearly the entire day.  That’s just fine by me because I’d rather be active during these cold and dark days rather than having the weights of time heavy on my hands.  Since I’m not one of those winter outdoorsy people, I have to find things to do within.  Wishing you all a warmly pleasant weekend!

Core of Consumerism

Core of ConsumerismWith it only being four days into our new year, I’m already nearly back to normal with the my job/art of living.  It’s been more fully illuminated to me this past year how too often we look at our lives as mundane jobs of living; especially when being faced with near constant change, chaos, and strife.

It seems that once a given person has been challenged from all sides for an extended period of time, there’s a mindsets that begin to form.  Each and every one of us are given to either take their well traveled “job” roads of life-living, or raise our sights to the other lessor most chosen option of stepping off our near life-long familiar paths and follow those “art” roads of living which are so often blocked by over-growth due to disuse. “Hey Buddy. You got a spare hatchet?”

In spite of our now being in the cold and darkness of January, I’ve made my choice, and I hope there’ll be others who also decide it’s time to walk a more artful path of living.  We really don’t have to allow ourselves to be burdened with fears that are mostly likely self-induced.

Several meetings I had with clients and customers today were part of my normal job, but I worked all the harder to make them light and memorable.  There’s nothing that loosens the ties that bind us more quickly than to either share a heartfelt story with someone, or listen to one being told by another.  Listening to, or sharing one’s own story, is permanently imbedded in our memory.  A very many of them are forgotten, but they’re still there in our subconscious where they’re remembered and resourced when necessary.

A dear one shared both happy and sad stories with me today.  They were life experiences that triggered similar memories of my own which I in turn spoke about. When I went to leave, I had a great sense that something uplifting and long-lasting just happened with the both of us. While driving back to my office I couldn’t help but wonder how many others there are living in our midst and around the world who’re silently crying out for someone to hear their life stories.

One of my long time client/customers mentioned today told how so very many of our  churches here in North Iowa’s are desperately in need of keyboardists.  The more communities of faith she mentioned that are lacking, all the more I became concerned about their needs.  I did mention to her my take on why this is happening.  I went on to say how I’ve noticed over these 20+ years a moving away of youngsters from music, and all the more choosing sports instead; and that trend is continuing to accelerate.

It all goes back to parents with children and their lack of encouragement towards something that does take much more time in training, but all the more rewarding for years to come. I’m sure our financially strapped parents are unwilling to fork out any more money than they already have in the rearings.  But it shouldn’t be that way because far too many have more gadgets that began going out of style shortly after they were removed from their packages. You must know, the core of consumerism is the encouraged mindlessness of spending.

I think it’s time we all start re-examining our priorities in life.  Do stay warm and a bit quiet, because you just might begin to hear the ringing of some far-off silver sleigh bells.

Three Ways

Three WaysAt least it wasn’t as cold out today, but that wind was back at it again.  As the by-product  of last night’s blowing light snow, we were all facing very slick roads this morning.  Even the die-hard drivers were slowing down.  When the road ahead has a sheen, it’s my cue to slow down and be all the more careful when stopping at intersections.

The sellers of my listing located at 1415 – 9th St. SE decided to lower their asking price so to get it sold more quickly, and I think it’s working because there’s already another showing scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.  For sure, it’s not your average cookie-cutter ranch home. Its extra roomy main floor family room with gas-log fireplace is a real bonus which pulls it far about the others in its price range.  Actually, now’s a good time to buy so you’re not having to compete with all the more numerous buyers that’ll be out once cabin fever hits North Iowa come February and March.

After looking at the national weather this morning, I was shocked to see what the Eastern Seaboard is going to be facing starting tomorrow.  I even heard that Florida for the first time in over 20 years, has already received a measurable amount of snow.  And here I was making fun our our snow birdies yesterday.  Shame on me.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be doing my first walk-thru of a home that I’ll be getting listed in the near future.  I’m excited about it because knowing the seller, I’m sure it’s in exceptionally good condition.  I truly enjoy listing spotlessly clean and well maintained homes.  They always seem to sell themselves.

After laboring a number of hours at getting a rental back up to speed, I’d say those that’ve already seen it before I started working on it would be amazed at what a good cleaning and minor repairs has done to it’s overall appeal.  Not to worry, yours truly is going to be compensated for those hours spent by that exited tenant who learned little if anything about preserving someone else’s property.  Too many tenants take un-authorized liberties while dis-regarding tenant/landlord rules.

While having a small job done today, one of the workers whom I’ve known for some time, proceeded to tell me about an inspirational video he watched over his lunch hour today.  He went on to say that the host was cutting to the quick when speaking about the millennials and their juniors.  He said nearly all the un-necessary problems they’re having are the parents’ fault because they spoiled them.  Everyone expects their child to get some sort of prize for weak participation.  Those cell phones that they’re glued to on a daily basis are more addictive than smoking, alcohol, and most recreational drugs.  I was adding my comments while he was relaying the host’s message to where he stopped and said, “You’ve already seen it haven’t you?”  I smiled and replied, “Those are facts I’ve been well aware of for quite some time.”  What I did add was all the more thought provoking for him by saying, “Now just think what our world will be like after their children are grown.”  I don’t even want to consider what society will be like unless there are some big societal changes made.

As chance would have it, I read a quote from Fred Rogers which made me smile inside which goes, “There are three ways to ultimate success.  The first way is to be kind.  The second way is to be kind.  The third way is to be kind.”  Coming from the man who captivated millions of our young with his television program, I’d say he was very much on track to ultimate success.  It’s unfortunate today’s world is very much lacking in kindness.  Keep warm and remember how a little kindness can melt even deeply frozen hearts.

First Day Back

First Day Back-1Perhaps I am starting to sound like a broken record, but I can’t help but be a little vocal about how cold it was this morning. I actually had to cover my mouth because it was so cold.  Whenever the temps reach such negative digits, it becomes chokingly cold.  Thank goodness the wind changed directions and now getting a little warmer.  I teasingly said to someone today, ” Oh great!  Now the direction of the wind has changed and blowing that cold air back in our faces again.”

With this frigid spell hanging on so long, I’m becoming all the more envious of our little snow birdies who’re likely sipping margaritas out around pools somewhere in Florida or Arizona while checking their smart phones to see how cold it is here so to give them all the more reason for leaving North Iowa.  In spite of that, I’m still not to the point of wanting to buy in those areas due to weather issues those States have to endure at other times of the year, and their giant bugs. I’ve always thought it nice to be able to be gone for at least two or three weeks during the brutally cold weeks.

Since it’s supposed to be warmer this coming Saturday, our office decided to have two public open houses that day from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.  There’ll be one at 103 – 27th St. SW, and another at 1034 Park Lane.  Both are priced to sell so make sure to stop by and have a look.  When seeing how low our real estate inventories are in North Iowa, it won’t surprise me if we’re going to have a real shortage once Spring arrives.  Perhaps some of the rental barons will decide to sell some of their better houses since prices are still strong. There sure have been all the more first-time investors entering our market lately.  As much as I’d rather see it go to an owner-occupant, 20 – 9th St. NE is priced so low that it’s now in reach of what investors would pay.

One of my well-knowns from out of State called this morning to wish me a Happy New Year.  We brought each other up to speed regarding happenings in each other’s lives, and we somehow ended up on the subject of tribalism which is becoming more talked about on television.  We both agreed how the extremes of tribal mentality would send the world back into the dark ages where there’d be un-ending wars, closed borders, and mini fiefdoms dotting our countries. I’d say Chechnya is a prime example of what’s in store for us if this mentality doesn’t stop.  Seeing all the more unrest on nearly every continent, it’s not surprising to see how many societies are regressing.  Isn’t it strange how people can change their thinking in the midst of our age of information overload?  Whatever happened to all those reasonable minds that kept the masses from killing each other?

In truth, the bulk of my day was spent trying to keep warm along with those normal first of the month duties.  Having believed I’d prepared myself before the New Year arrived for entries to be made come 2018, I somehow forgot to have another journal created which I’ve placed into use each and every year.  So far, that was the only thing I’d over-looked.

With it being my first day back to work in our new year, I’d say business should now start getting back to normal.  I’ll wager nearly everyone’s glad the Holidays are now over and the job of normal living has returned.