Category Archives: Story

Back on their Menu

SEA_5735This month has certainly re-affirmed the nickname Mason City was given a number of years ago by being, “The Windy City of the North”.  Seems there hasn’t been a day it hasn’t been blowing.

My morning took me over to Clear Lake again on an errand, so on my way back, I stopped Downtown at Cabin Coffee and grabbed a take-away cup of their run-of-the-mill.  I’m still not into “designer” coffee because it’s either too strong, or masked with other flavors.  I guess I’m a little old fashioned where if I’m thirsting for cup of coffee, I want it to taste like coffee–not a hot desert that’s been loaded up with sugars and fats.

Just as I was finishing up on preparing myself for today’s public open house at 1415 – 9th St. SE, a client of mine whom I’ve been negotiating on the purchase of some appliances he’s decided to sell, text me saying he’d sell them and be delivering them in about 20 minutes.  I had to race and make room for them along with reminding him he’d have to hurry so I don’t make myself late for my open house.

He made it on time and with my help, we got them off his truck and into storage.  I handed him his check, we visited a little bit, and just before he climbed back into his truck I said, “Are you ready for another one of my dark jokes?”  He rolled his eyes and said, “Sure. Why not?” With a newscaster’s voice I announced, “It’s interesting how different nations have their dogs make different sounds.  An American dog goes “Woof Woof”, a Czech dog goes “Haf Haf”, a Dutch dog goes, “Blaf Blaf”, and a Chinese dog goes “Sizzle Sizzle”‘  Yup, I got a good laugh out of him and his helper.  I’m confident he’ll remember it and share because he really does NOT like dogs of any kind.  His two cats are quite the characters–especially the younger one.  He takes better care of them than most people do their children.

My public open house was a far greater success than I’d imagined. There were people coming and going the entire time I was there.  I made sure to bring my trusty broom with me after having noticed leaves on its front stoop while placing my tent sign out front early this morning.  It was a good thing I did, because the other Realtors that showed it most recently had even tracked them into the house.  At least I got everything swept out and ready before the first group of lookers arrived.

Just as I was getting into my car and go out to place those signs this morning, I noticed three huge crows at the back of the building next to mine.  It looked like they were hurriedly eating something, so curious me got back out of my car and walked over as they flew up and perched themselves on a parapet while greedily staring down at me. I walked over and got a good look at what they were eating.  Now tell me, what’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever seen three crows eat?  I won’t say exactly what it was, but you can certainly draw your  own conclusions.  Let’s say there was someone at the bar down the street last night that must’ve loaded up on pizza and giggle water, and likely had too much of both, because that pile of this morning’s “crow food” looked like it came from a big boy’s stomach.

Feeling a bit wicked-ish, I went back into my office and grabbed my camera so to get a photo if those crows should be back down gorging on that chunky, greasy, sticky, and slimy pile of upchuck.  Sure enough they were back with yet another one of their friends having arrived. The larger of them were getting the bigger chunks, while the smaller had to suffer their their “pecking order” turn.  Since crows are very clever creatures, three of them flew back up on their perches, while leaving one of the smaller, free to eat its fill.  The above photo is of that little dirtie birdie helping itself to some poor devil’s gastrointestinal mis-fortune last evening.  When I arrived back at my office after my open house, I walked over to that  late night  scene of pain, and wouldn’t you know it, the entire area had been cleared of any and all evidence.  Now that’s what I call a crow’s drive to eat every available morsel and drop.

While on their early morning scout, I’m sure they were delighted to discover that meat was once again back on their menu.

Before and After

Before and AfterMy morning and late afternoon was spent showing rentals here in Mason City as well as Clear Lake.  Judging by the number of inquiries, there’s certainly a shortage of good housing between our two towns.  I had to laugh when one of the prospective tenants actually said, “I’ll be happy to rent it, but you’ll have to buy new carpet for us.”  Questioningly I asked, “Why new carpet? You can see there’s nothing wrong with it.” Oh Mercy!  The reason they wanted new carpet is because the color wouldn’t go with their furnishings.  I almost said to them, “If you want a different color of carpeting, then you can pay for it including the cost of installation as long as it’s the same quality that’s here right now.”   That sort of request was a first for me.

It amazes me when finding people coming from other parts of the Country having such high expectations from our area landlords.  Perhaps they consider us hicks and willing to bend over backwards because they’re “city slick”.  What I really don’t “get”, is knowing how much cheaper the rents are here compared to where they’re coming from, yet they expect all the more for less.

The first hour of my public open house at 103 – 28th St. SW was dead, but when 2:00 pm arrived, there was a stream of visitors up to and after 3:00 pm.  I do hope today’s showing made a big enough splash with the buyers still out there to where we’ll be seeing more activity and the subsequent sale of it.  At its current price, there’s not another in Mason City that can compete with all the extras it offers.

While chatting about this and that with one of the attendees, he mentioned something about a very bad accident he was in not so many years ago. My curiosity invoked the question, “What happened?”  The more he told me about his car accident, the more I began having non-stop goose bumps. After telling me the number of breaks and punctures he received all over his body, I couldn’t help but say, “There’s definitely a reason yet to be revealed as to why you survived.”

What impressed me the most was his up-beat attitude as well as appearing about as normal a man could be for his age without any thoughts of something over-the-top life-threatening having happened to him.  He did mention the number of doctors who believed him to be something of a real-life character out of that popular movie, “Unbreakable”.

With a few hours to spare late this afternoon, I decided to attend an area church that wasn’t far away to where I happened to find myself close to the beginnings of Services.  The readings were meaningful and the music was fine, but what made me thankful for attending, was seeing an elderly lady whom I’ve known for a long time, but haven’t talked to for as many years.

When their Services finished, I made sure to catch her walking out.  After asking about her general well being, and where she’s now living, I was delighted to hear her two children purchased a twin home for her about 12 years ago, and she absolutely loves it.  Knowing what her job was while in the workforce and how hard she worked, I couldn’t help but say, “You absolutely deserved it, and your children are going to be twice blessed for doing it for you.”

Now, how many semi-wealthy children of elderly parents do you know that would do something like that for a parent or parents?  What I normally see are their aging children doing everything they can to get what little their parents have before, along with after their deaths.  Unfortunately it’s the sign of our times, and growing all the worse. If you should happen to hear or read something after someone’s parent passing, “Check please!”, don’t pay any attention, because it’s just the ways of our times.

Saying No is Far Harder

Saying No is Far HarderI’m just making sure you all know about my two public open houses tomorrow. One is in the morning, and the other starts at 1:00 pm.  The first one would be a perfect fit for a first time buyer wanting to get away from high rents and situationally deaf landlords who are only concerned about getting their rents every month and caring less about glaring maintenance and repairs.  This charming 3 bedroom home is located at 20 – 9th St. NE here in Mason City and has been a great home for the seller who decided it was time to get something all on one floor.  It offers a brand new roof, main floor laundry, a workroom off the kitchen that could be converted back to a single attached garage or continue to be used as an office or family room.  It also offers one of the most charming open staircases.  I did some calculations and was shocked to find that even if someone would pay asking price, the full monthly payment would be under $375.00 a month.  Now if it were a rental unit, it would command over $500.00 per month.  Just think about how much a current tenant would save by buying instead of throwing their money down a rat hole and get nothing in return.  My open house is scheduled between 10:00 am and Noon.  Be sure to stop by.

My second open house is located at 1415 – 9th St. SE here in Mason City.  It is very much larger than it appears from the street because of the main floor family room that’s to the rear.  This beauty offers 3 bedrooms, a master bath, open floor plan, gas fireplace, double attached garage and more. The owners were just transferred, but mentioned how much they loved their home along with it being conveniently located near all three schools and east-side shopping.  It also offers even more opportunities for a 4th bedroom and 3rd bath in the basement.  When doing my walk-thru before listing it, I reminded the sellers there are plumbing stub-ins on the basement for a 3/4 bath.  Since they’ve never had any water problems down there, the possibilities for expanded living areas are endless.  Make sure you stop between 1:00 – 3:00 pm tomorrow.

As chance would have it, I had an opportunity to have a good visit with a man of letters this afternoon.  The bulk of our conversation was about the upcoming elections next week and the two big items also on the ballot.  I was certainly brought up to speed with it after hearing his take on some questionable and not talked about red flags surrounding the proposed build-out of that ice area, hotel, and convention center.  It’s been in the news more than once about how the new owner of Southbridge Mall has a huge tax bill that’s unpaid.  I fear history will be repeating itself if that gets built and not so many years later, we the taxpayers end up bailing it out like our City did once before, but this time there are many more millions involved.

I’m also concerned over the noticeable amount of distorted facts and fake news that’s been fed to our City’s general population.  I got a bit of a chill when in ending he said, “Whenever people push and pound the public so hard, that’s all the more reason for them to believe it’s even more of a bad idea.”  After he said that, I remembered times when salespeople would hammer on me to buy something until I finally learned to simply say, “If you don’t stop pressuring me, I’m walking out of here right now!”  Very few learned, but most didn’t.  With that said, I’ve come to discover over these long years that a good product or idea sells itself…so why all the hoopla?  Just remember, saying “No” is far harder than saying “Yes”.  Now think about the times you’ve said “Yes”, but wanted to say “No”, and then you’ll certainly understand.

Pan-fried or Barbecued

Pan-fried or Barbecued-1From about 7:30 this morning, I was either on the phone, helping walk-ins, or responding to emails and texts. Somehow it felt like Monday all over again.  After the day was done, I left the office knowing I’d accomplished many little things, but nothing big.

After it grew light enough, I went out and took new photos of several of my listings that’ve been improved since being listed.  At one of them, the “yell” was almost scared out of me while walking thru the service door of its detached garage.   I’m sure you all know how much I despise squirrels. Well, you’ll need only one guess to know what went running past me and then out a hole it had chewed thru.  Oh Mercy! I couldn’t believe the mess it had made in such a short time.  I did notify the owners and for sure they’ve already been there to get it cleaned up and the hole fixed.

There should be a year-round season for those vile creatures in North Iowa.  I don’t even want to “go there” in sharing the number of homes I’ve shown over the years that suffered great damage from those bushy-tailed rats.  Every time I see someone feeding them, I remember the horror stories told by those who fed them and later discovering their cute little half-tamed friends didn’t want to wait to be fed, thus deciding to chew their way into their servants’ attached garages and help themselves.  I’m sure you didn’t know they’re able to chew thru thick plastic storage bins if they believe something edible is contained.  My mantra has always been, “The only squirrel I like has to be either pan-fried or barbecued.”

There was a bit of a stir Downtown today over a pussy that managed to get itself at the bottom of a deep exterior window well.  I heard several City workers had to use a long ladder so they could get down to a likely starving pussy.  From what I understood, it was tame, fully grown, and wanting a hug.  I asked if someone reported it missing, but evidently not.  Most likely someone grew tired of it and dumped it off in the Downtown.  It’s just another example of how some who believe they want a pet, more sooner than later grow tired of it and dump it far enough away from their home or apartment so to make sure it wouldn’t find its way home.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s one of the most inhumane things to do to an unwanted pet–especially if it’s a pussy.

Later this afternoon I listed a real “diamond in the rough” located at 21 – 11th St. NE here in Mason City.  I’ve got it posted everywhere, but without photos due to the owner still working on getting it cleaned out enough so I can take photos.  If anyone is looking for free stuff, there’s now plenty to choose from at the curbside.

The home is a very well built 2 story which offers gorgeous oak woodwork, built-ins, and floors.  There’s an open staircase leading up to 3 large bedrooms and a bath.  Yes, it needs many hours of restoration, but it’ll be a rock solid long-term investment when finished.  I was in it many years ago and I can tell you it was quite the beauty back then.  There’s also a newer roof, and the wiring is circuit breaker. I was delightfully surprised nearly all the woodwork is un-painted and in exceptionally good shape.  Hopefully by the first of next week, I’ll have photos to share. It’s worthy of at least a drive-by.

A Bowl of Chili

A Bowl of ChiliHaving finally dressed for the weather, I wasn’t nearly as chilled as yesterday.  That relentless wind felt like one of winter’s Alberta Clippers moving thru.  Good thing we didn’t have snow or we would’ve been having white-outs.  Just get yourselves prepared for the end of this week because it’s gonna be well below freezing.  I think Daylight Saving Time will be coming to an end in a couple of weeks which I’m not happy about, but what can we do other than bear down and endure it?  I’m already envisioning the short days and dreadfully long nights. But remember, once we get past November and December, the sun will be quietly marching back north.

Having been out of my office on appointments most of the day, it was a welcome relief to be in while the sun was shining brightly thru my office windows.  While at my office, a colleague asked me several days ago how I liked working in my office building.  I truthfully said, “Of all the offices I’ve worked in which included several banks, I’d say without a doubt my current office is my favorite.”  He then asked why.  My condensed response was, “Its layout, the abundance of wood, and above all, the bushels of natural light that filters thru the tall windows at both ends.”  After saying that, he took a closer look around and said, “I’d have to agree with you. You’ve got a lot of natural light going on here.”

One of my well knowns stopped by for a chat late this afternoon just to bring me up to speed on where she is in her life.  She’s one of those quiet people whom you’d walk past in Walmart and not have even the slightest clue of the depth of her intelligence she has contained.  It’s always a delight visiting with her because of her broad understanding of nearly everything.  Having known her for a very many years, I’m all the more convinced that far too many people get promotions based more on their chassis’ than what’s between their ears.  There’ve been more times than I dare recall the number of both male and female employees who were raised up due to their “eye candy” exteriors.  Yours truly have so badly at times wanted to say, “Oh I see you’ve given “eye candy” a promotion, but you forgot to replace the cotton candy between those ears.”  Yes, I being a little wicked, but it happens more than anyone would dare admit.

Several of my new listings are getting showings already which is telling me the buyers are still out there, but being a little more choosey.  If only there’d be one who’ll take a look at 422 S. Tennessee Place.  The owner of that condo is highly motivated an wants it sold before winter arrives.  So please, spread the word and help me get it sold.

Early this morning I delivered to my office some chili pepper plants that I pulled up last night so to hang them upside-down and naturally dry in my basement.  It’ll take about three months before they’re fully dried and subsequently coarsely ground.  There are a number of my clients and customers who are always delighted to get a small jar of my naturally grown and ground chili peppers.

The above photo is one I took of those that had fallen off their plants, so I’ll have to dry them separately.  You are now seeing a bowl of chili peppers which may someday be part of someone’s spiced up bowl of chili.  As Julia Child would say, “Bon appetit!”

The Flu Season

The Flu Season-1Alas the rains have stopped for a few days.  I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever see the sun again.  I’m sure there were a number of people who’ve discovered water in their basements after these two day rains have finally stopped.  After looking at the 10 day forecast, we may be experiencing another wet Fall.  The farmers will have to be working all the faster to get their beans and corn out.  This new hurricane that’s supposed to hit the Gulf States starting tomorrow will most likely create a spill-over effect in our area.  Don’t be surprised if our long-term weather forecast gets changed come mid-week.

Many of you won’t be working Monday due to Columbus Day so please take the time and do something fun.  Hopefully it won’t be raining so perhaps you should think about taking a day trip over to Northeast Iowa to see the leaves, and if time permits, head on over into Wisconsin and grab yourselves some craft cheese and home grown apples.

I’ve taken those trips in the past and have enjoyed them immensely.  Another idea would be for you to visit Effigy Mounds which is located above the Mississippi in Allamakee County.  The memory that was forever burned into my mind after the first time I walked out onto its look-out point. Those panoramic views of the Mississippi River are breathtaking. After seeing such beauty, one can’t help but believe there is a Higher Power.  It’s no wonder those pre-historic indians chose that particular area to build their mounds. I’m still convinced those mounds were meant to be viewed from far above.

My public open house today was a disaster with there being no visitors due to the non-stop rain we had.  I usually take something with me to read, but after a while, that gets old, so I started watching all the squirrels in the area gathering and burying walnuts that had dropped from trees.  One particular squirrel decided it was lunchtime so decided to grab a small nut and perch itself on a limb outside a window.  I tell you what, I’d hate to get bitten by one of those bushy-tailed rats after seeing how quickly and easily they’re able to chew thru those rock-hard shells.  Their teeth must be tungsten steel hard with jaws as strong as a vise. It had that walnut completely meat-less in less than 10 minutes!

I’m still wondering why the bigger squirrels are so afraid of the jack squirrels.  There was one of them out there chasing one of the bigger “rats” which reminded me someone told me once that the reason they’re afraid of them is that they’re so fast that if they can catch up to larger males from behind,  they’ll bite their scrotums and likely render them impotent.  Ouch!  If they indeed defend their turfs in such a fashion, I’d be heading for the hills yesterday.

Late this afternoon I heard an unfortunate story about how a man in his 50′s managed to catch a hybridized form of the flu last winter that he couldn’t seem to shake.  He had it for over six weeks, and while recuperating, he felt there was something else wrong so back to his doctor he went.  Well, six months later, he’s now recovering from a necessary heart valve replacement.  He said the doctors told him the problem with his heart valve was caused by that flu virus he wasn’t able to ward off.  He’s now all the more careful about being in public when shaking hands, sharing kisses and hugs along with every other form of contact with our general population.  I guess we all can’t be too careful when the flu season arrives in North Iowa.

Piano Man

Piano ManIt seems the market is continuing to move at a brisk pace this week to where two more of my office listings were sold and possibly two more offers coming in tomorrow on other ones.  Every time I hear someone say, “Oh, I’m not sure if it’s the right time to sell.”  My reply has been, “In our market, any time is the right time.”  In these times I just want everyone to be happy about their buying and selling experiences.   This past month has been a real test for me in keeping quirky little happenings from turning into roadblocks or land mines.

Several days ago it came to my attention that someone had written something negative about my office on one of the social medias.  When the person telling me finished describing what was said by that person, I said, “That person has never done any business with Holtz Realty, so what in heaven’s name would incite such writing?”  I guess we all have people out there who harbor dark thoughts about us and we don’t even realize it until something shows up on a social media platform.

An appointment has been set to meet with some sellers I’ve met with several times, and it looks like I’ll have another listing coming on board late tomorrow or early Saturday morning.  I do believe it will sell because of the number of bedrooms and baths it has along with the size of its yard.  Anyone with children would certainly want to have such a home.  They’ve agreed to list it at a price I recommended which should put it in great competition with other homes currently listed.

It seems Prairie Place on 1st is really getting the attention these past two weeks.  Two of them are sold and it looks like another will be under contract before Monday arrives.  As many people I,ve spoken with about that complex, nearly all of them didn’t realize it has underground parking.  I think I’m going to have to really get the word out about that over-looked feature.  One stall is included with the purchase, and a second stall can be rented for $50.00 per month.  Now that’s a real plus.

While out at a home today with a buyer and contractor who was called to give an estimate for some changes to the home, we ended up chatting about this and that after the measurements were done.  To my surprise, the buyer mentioned how she enjoys knitting in her spare time, while the contractor then informed us that his wife also knits.

I shared with them how much I truly admire anything that’s been created by hand.  As far as I’m concerned anything made by hand is entirely unique to the world, and should be respected and admired as such.  If only the younger crowd would understand this and begin learning how to create beauty for themselves instead of buying junk that has thousands of other manufactured copies.

After getting the measurements I needed on a unit at Prairie Place on 1st, I sat down at the player piano that’s in the music/library located on the main floor.  There was a piece of music someone left there so I went ahead and played it.  Wow!  That piano has had some very good care considering how old it is.  The above photo is of that piano which borders on being a beautiful piece of furniture.  While playing it, my thoughts went back to one of my favorite songs written by Billie Joel called “Piano Man”.  I do have the sheet music for it, so maybe I’ll stop over there some day and play it for several of the residents who’ve asked me to play something.  Here’s the link to “Piano Man”.

Piano Man