Category Archives: Story

Tropical Blossom

Tropical BlossomMore than just a few people have been mentioning how unseasonably cool our days and nights have been this past week.  I couldn’t help but agree more when a delivery person arrived today and mentioned how cold it was last year on the 4th of July.  We both confirmed that winters aren’t winter anymore as well as summers not being summers.  In recent years, the temperatures have seemed to bounce up and down more erratically.

I met with a gentleman today on a business matter, but while there we ended up talking about Australia.  Seems he lived there for a number of years while working for an American company.  I certainly learned a few things about that country I’d never heard before.  One thing that was the most disturbing is the chronic problem they have with flies.  He said no matter where you go or what you do while outdoors, the flies are there pestering you in a great big way.

I cringed when he told me they’re not so much the biting flies, but rather the ones that seem to be searching for moisture and matter in all body crevices.  He said they’d be trying to get in your eyes, up your nose, in your mouth, and even in your ears.  He said the constant waving away of flies from their faces gave way for it to be coined “An Australian goodbye.”  He must’ve thought I didn’t get enough shivers when telling me about the flies, so he he went on to share with me the number of poisonous creatures in the sea as well as on land, including some giant lizards which have absolutely no fear of man and have great big bites. I’m glad we moved on to another subject regarding how his parents met.

His father was stationed in Germany where he met a German national whom he found to be the love of his life.  They got married and later returned to the States where he decided to build a home for his new wife and growing family.  Before the home was finished, he was called up to be stationed in Korea, and leaving his wife who understood very little English, to fend for herself while he was gone.  I couldn’t help but comment on how much harder life was in those years, as well as telling his story about his parents, which was a classic example of how much more difficult it was for the war brides coming here from Europe and Asia who had to learn a new language along with acclimating themselves to a new culture.

The closing I had today with my “angel” client went very well, but I was growing a bit teary-eyed after it was over.  I insisted we stay in touch by saying, “If you write to me, I will write back.”  I told her daughter how unfortunate it was that I didn’t know her years before.  It would be a great thing if more women who’re growing older would seek her out and hold her up as a perfect example of a woman growing old gracefully.

My last meeting today was with a client who’s going to be selling his deceased mother’s home.  I was quite taken by some of the stories he told about her love of gardening and quilting.  We even talked about a rare oriental tree that’s growing exceptionally well in her yard.  I praised her gardening ability by saying, “One rarely sees those in this area, so I guess she must’ve babied it along until it grew strong and sturdy.”  My suspicions were confirmed when he said, “Oh yes.  She was always out making sure her trees and plants were given all the water and nutrients they needed.”

The above photo is of a plant that is now starting to bloom.  It’s got a stark and somewhat prehistoric looking tropical blossom on it. Wouldn’t you agree?

Iron Blue Heron

Iron Blue HeronThe public open house I had at 721 N. Delaware had more visitors than I’d expected on such a glorious Sunday afternoon.  I have a “feeling” it’s going to be selling soon.  With all the homes recently sold around Mason City and North Iowa, there’s bound to be a buyer who’ll understand its real value as well as realizing the price is far below market.  I took a book with me and I didn’t even have time to read but a single page. It’s always a good thing to have prospective buyers coming and going. I really don’t like having time heavy on my hands for two hours.

Prior to going to my public open, I spent about four hours back at my on-going project.  Seems I’m getting closer to being at the crest of the hump, and when that happens, it’ll be all downhill from there.  Someone was visiting with me several days ago about how much work he’s doing on a home he recently purchased.  From the sounds of it, he’s spending more time talking about it than he’s working on it.  The improvements he’s making should have been done months ago.  I internally smile to myself when people make small projects look like elephant eating ordeals.  I’m convinced far too many people simply loose interest to where their well-intentioned projects remain unfinished eyesores.

This coming week will be another busy one for me, but I’m not complaining.  As they used to say, “You gotta make hay while the sun’s shining.”  My closing tomorrow is with one of the sweetest elderly ladies who is moving out of town.  She’s been an absolute joy to work with, and I only wish I’d been lucky enough to have know her years earlier.  There’ll be yet another one of our angels leaving Mason City, and I do hope the powers that be is replacing her after she leaves.  We have an over-supply of naughty monkeys in North Iowa who need to be counter-balanced by real-life angels.

Several days ago I promised to share in sections, a short story one of my clients dropped off for me to read and share if they seemed worthy enough. I read both of them and they’re good reads.  The name of the following first story is:  String of Prayers.

There were many old-fashioned farms circling the small Ohio town of Marion to where they seemed magically positioned on the horizon creating balance between earth and sky.  The white clapboard houses contained over-sized windows which created never-ending stares at their vast horizons of farms and fields.  One couldn’t help but notice all those giant red barns with their shiny tin roofs which appeared like mirrors being held up to the sun.  Mr. and Mrs.Thaddeus Windsom were the parents of fourteen who just happened to live on one of those picturesque farms.

Thick rows of tall white pines created a green barrier against those biting winter winds just north of the farmhouse.  There was also a buffer of ancient oaks at the southerly end of the barn which provided enough shade for the animals when summer’s blistering heat arrived.  Beyond the barnyard, lay 150 acres of tabletop flat fields.  The farmland in the region was so level that when it rained, the water was evenly dispersed across its black soil, and whenever the rains were particularly heavy, the soil turned into a thick mud, and remained that way for nearly a day.  To be contd.

Yesterday I made sure to get to my open house at 1202 – 2nd St. NE early enough so to take a few photos of the Winnebago River that’s just a stone’s throw from my listing.  I do hope you like it, because that iron blue heron looked quite real.  Don’t you think?

At Face Value

At Face Value-1Most of my day was spent out of the office with clients and customers, and certainly happy to be driving in light rain.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we would have just a nice light shower every day without thunder, lightening, and strong winds?  It’s finally now starting to feel like summer and here we are at the turning point of the sun’s return journey to the south.  Just when we’re really starting to enjoy it, Mother Nature pulls the slow drain plug on it all by shortening our our daylight hours.

After arriving at a home of one of my clients, I had an unexpected surprise when finding one of her visiting relatives to be a schoolmate of mine I hadn’t seen in a great many years.  I’m sure he was as surprised to see me as I him.  The more we talked, the more the memories came rushing back out of the darkness of long ago archived happenings whose volumes it thought to have disintegrated with time and disuse.  Evidently I must have placed them in a mentally humidity and temperature controlled environment to where the book worms couldn’t even penetrate.

Some time during our fourth grade, we parted company with our shifting of schools.  I internally blushed a bit when he talked about how nearly everyone in our class thought me to be the pleasantly studious kid who didn’t get in trouble.  He challenged me to remember something that had happened which was memorable to him about me.  At this time I don’t recall, but perhaps after sleeping on it tonight, I will have it remembered come morning.

I blushed again when he mentioned how I was also remembered by many as being such a fast runner.  I then shared with him the story I’d heard many years later from my father’s brothers and their sons.  Just recently one of my cousins on my father’s side said, “When your father would come to help us on our farm, he used to brag about you by saying, “He can run like a jackrabbit and swim like a fish.”  I then told the gentleman today how running and swimming were my only two strong points in the arena of sports.

As I was driving away in the direction of my next appointment, I became a little teary-eyed remembering how much simpler life was back then.  Yes, there were hardships and disappointments, but at least there weren’t those constant information overloadings which today’s young are continually processing.  Yes, I’m sure if we could reel back time, nearly all of us would be canceling choices we made back then  that’ve continued to haunt us to this day.  In spite of there having been an opening of a long ago closed book, I’m exceptionally happy our paths crossed once again.

One of my late appointments was the showing of a home to a mother and her son.  Somehow her son and I got on the topic of modern science.  I soon discovered him to be very well read for his young age of eighteen.  We ended up debating quantum physics and how some everyday happenings without realizing,  are its manifestations.  My last question to him was, “Do you believe alternate realities exist?”  I couldn’t get a clear answer out of him so I said to him before they left, “We’ll pick up where we left off when I see you again, and hopefully by then you’ll be prepared to give me your answer.”  I admire any and all of our young people who refuse to accept given facts at face value.  I’m still continuing to believe there is hope for our young.

Belly Laugh

Belly LaughIt was nearly another perfect day today in North Iowa to where I said to someone who’s nearly always crabby, “How can we not keep from smiling while in the midst of such a beautiful day?”  I almost left her speechless until she finally said, “Yeah I guess so but we’ll see how long this weather lasts when we wake up one day and find winter breathing down our necks.”  Isn’t it sad to find such souls in our midst who are always taking everything to the negative side?

An extended closing with one of the most charming young couples took place today.  If only they could be cloned,  I’d planting them all across North Iowa.  The husband just recently had his birthday and I almost said to him, “What better a belated birthday present to yourself could you ever get after closing on your very first home?”  I just about said it, but then simply congratulated and thanked them for working with me.   I believe the seller was also glad about it all after seeing the buyers and their children.

Certainly you’ve all heard that old saying, “Oil and water doesn’t mix.”  Well, that thought came back to mind recently when finding myself back in a situation with an individual who seems to get jollies out of making my job all the more difficult.  Trying to be a hero at the expense of others is very annoying because it doesn’t just stop with me, because it also fans out and affects others.  This person also doesn’t know boundaries to where a conversation with this human always ends up becoming a beadie-eyed in your face encounter.  Oh well, that’s part of our job when working with the general public. Right? But one of these days I’m going to say, “Are you hard of hearing?”  And if the answer is “No.”  I’ll then say, “So why then do you always have to be in someone’s face when your speaking to them?”

One of my customers caused me have a much needed hearty laugh this afternoon.  Because he owned his own business here many years ago, we spoke about how so many here in Mason City always seem to expect something extra for nothing.  What shocked me was when he mentioned the fact that when he had businesses in other cities, there would rarely if ever be someone who’d say, “So if I buy this, what are you going to give me for free?”

Perhaps that’s why many of the banks, real estate companies, insurance agencies, along with countless other business have learned it’s an expectation to give free stuff to their customers so to keep them happy.  My take on it is if you have to give someone something for free, it’s sort of saying, “I didn’t do my absolute best for you, so here, take this pen, calendar, cookies, coffee, cake, door knocker, and whatever else I can think of as an acknowledgement of my failings.”  I couldn’t help but bring up my experience when young and helping my mother sell fruits and vegetables to the general public.  I said to him, “It didn’t take me long to know who the chiselers were.”  I then went on to say, “When selling by the quart or bushel, it wasn’t good enough to have a more than healthy and fresh quart or bushel of whatever was being sold, but rather there were those who expected to be getting heaping quarts or bushels.”

After the chiselers would leave, there’d be not the most pleasant words about them to my mother, just as I’m sure many business people here in our City likely do after their greedy/chiseling customers walk out their doors.   I’ve always believed that if a product or service is superior and fairly priced, there should never even be a thought to discount.  But on the flip side, if a product or service is inferior, then most certainly it deserves to be discounted.

Not but an hour later after hearing someone squeal about a bad job they’d had done,  I said, “Why would you pick a mule or “ass” to win your race when you already knew that a race horse that was in the next stall would’ve done the job?”  He looked at me and said, “Mr. Chodur, sometimes you have such clever ways of telling someone they intentionally “funked” up.”  Yes, I’m glad I got my much needed belly laugh today.

The Crow King

The Crow KingMy day passed quickly, and both closings scheduled took place without the slightest of hitches.  One of my dear clients gave me a gift that I’ll have to take a photo of and share with you all another day.

Both closings were bittersweet because I got to know the sellers and re-familiarize myself with the buyers whom I’ve worked with in the past.  After today’s closings, I told them all we really must stay in touch.  For both transactions it seemed as though the sales and purchases were plainly meant to be.  Isn’t it funny how a home can be on the market at the right time, be in the right place, and someone who’s really not looking, takes notice and buys it to where you wonder, “The timing of this happening was just a bit too creepy cool.”  I would say both of today’s closings had the hand of fate involved.

Did I ever get my eyes widened by a true story told by one of my long-time clients today.  It all started when I was talking about there being a time many years ago when a bounty was offered on crows, and if you’d manage to kill one, that’s all you had to do was supply its feet to get something like 50 cents.  I went on to say our North Iowa Counties should reinstate paying a bounty on them because of how their numbers have increased every year. When I finished, he in turn, told his story.

He proceeded to tell me his brother who did quite a bit of traveling for his work encountered a man with the nickname, “Kenny the crow king”.  Kenny lived on a farm somewhere in southern Iowa, and had a part-time job as a paid guide for crow hunters who would sign up for one of his tours when crow hunting season opened. Keep in mind, I’m leaving some of his story out because if I didn’t, I’d be writing pages, so I’m just narrating the highlights of his story.

One Fall day a friend of his brother’s called and begged for his accompaniment on one of Kenny’s guided hunts.  He was a bit hesitant about it all, but finally agreed.  After arriving at Kenny’s dooryard, the handful of hunters followed Kenny’s instructions and geared up with their best hunting camouflage along with shotguns in hand and boxes of shells under their arms.  After Kenny’s meticulous inspection, they were driven off to a remote wooded region in Southern Iowa.

When they arrived, and started setting up their positions, Kenny pulled out of his trunk an electronic contraption and placed it where it couldn’t be seen from above.  He then turned and said to everyone, “Take your positions boys.”, and walked over to that instrument and flipped its switch.

The sound coming out of it was a loud and repeating call of an injured horned owl. Keep in mind, most don’t know that crows have an intense hatred of owls and will gang up on them and torment them mercilessly.  After about 15 minutes, in the distance came flying towards them four crows.  Kenny sternly whispered, “Don’t move and don’t shoot.  They’re just the scouts.”  The four crows circled a few times and flew off.  They all looked at each other and likely thought, “Does this guy really know what he’s doing?”  After about ten minutes had passed, the sound of many crows in the distance began growing louder.  Kenny then barked with the voice of a general’s, “Get ready boys! Here they come!”

Now keep in mind, I’m only relaying what happened next.  The crows arrived in numbers reminiscent of the movie “The Birds” and continued to come to where there were hundreds diving, circling, and perching on branches as close they could get to that loud bird voice coming from Kenny’s box.

What surprised me, was the fact that every hunter had gone thru every box they had of shotgun shells to where as a group, they bagged at least a hundred of them.  He even said their dead bodies were even hitting the hunters as they were dropping from the sky.  I said to him, “I would’ve never believed there to be crows so determined to get at that “horned owl” to where they would be loosing their lives in such numbers.”

Thinking about it after he left, I began to wonder if those four scouts must’ve planted something in their flock’s brain with their crow chatter to where the rank and file were willing to loose their lives.

What an amazing story of Kenny the crow king!  Seeing the number of crows we have in North Iowa and how they are growing, I think we need to find someone like Kenny so to reduce the number of those nasty birds in a great big way.

The above photo is one I took before dawn this past winter of trees in our Downtown blackened with perched crows.  Let’s get busy and find another Kenny the crow king!

1601 S. Winnebago St.

1601 S. Winnebago St-1From early morning, it seemed as though I was running in high gear since before I even reached the front door of my office.  The early days of the week were quieter, but these last days have been full speed ahead.

We all were hoping for far more rain than we received today.  I’m not sure what direction our summer is headed, but if we don’t get more moisture, we’re going to have some pretty water-starved flowers and vegetables.  I can’t believe how quickly the soil has dried.  This afternoon while walking a small portion of a field, I noticed an interesting rock, so I picked it up so to examine it.  Wow!  It was almost too hot to hold from the heat it had absorbed from the sun.  It caused me to think I was walking on scorched earth. The stone was interesting enough to where I decided to keep it and add it to my little collection of odd looking rocks.

Just before I left for my late morning appointment, I happened to notice a youngish woman across the street walking down the sidewalk with a cell phone glued to her ear.  I was forced to look twice because of my disbelief of what I had noticed.  Oh Mercy!  That woman must’ve wanted every man either driving by, or walking past, to see the beyond skin-tight leotard-looking long-legged stretch pants she had on.  To make matters worse, she was wearing a rather revealing sleeveless top that only came down to her waist.  She left nothing for one’s imagination. That spectacle brought back to mind the time I was walking in a desert and happened up camel tracks.  After confirming what I thought I saw, I shook my head and walked away with another confirmation that we are indeed living in the generation of “look at me”.

I’m beginning to wonder when the general public is going to stop riding this wave of sensationalism.  Facebook, along with all the other social medias continue to fuel this craze.  Every time I see where someone has snapped a “selfie” and posts it all over the internet, I think, “Do you really have so little self respect that you have to degrade yourself to such levels and share it with millions?”  Seems far too many are doing anything they can to get noticed–even if it’s in a bad light.

Part of my day was spent listing an acreage just outside Lake Mills. It’s located at 1601 S. Winnebago Street and is a one-owner over-sized 4 bedroom ranch that’s had some good updates including a Fieldstone kitchen.  What I found the most appealing about it was the fact that all four bedrooms, laundry room and half bath are on the main floor.  The basement has a rec room, a office/den, and a shower room.  There’s an over-sized storage building at the rear which could be a place to raise chickens or a few goats.  There are some very nice hardwood trees on the site which help to give the site more of a country ambiance.  I’ll make a great home for a young couple with children.  The above photo is one of the exterior shots.  Click on the following link to view more.

1601 S. Winnebago Street

Please be sure to make a note of my public open house tomorrow that’s located at 2831 – 4th St. NW here in Mason City.  It is definitely the pride of the Sunrise Ridge area, and if you’re up for a short drive, take a road trip to my new listing at 1601 S. Winnebago St. in Lake Mills.  And by the way, it’s only a very short distance from Rice Lake.

2831 – 4th St. NW Mason City

Bubba

bubbaNearly my entire morning was spent with a customer looking for a cheap home that would fit a single workingman’s basic needs.  Once again, I was brought up to speed on how picked over the cheaper homes have become to where there’s really nothing out there with good bones that a man with a strong back can bring back to life.

We saw bad foundations, rotten windows, hollow core doors that were as weak as cardboard, and mounds of deferred maintenance.  Since it’s my duty to point out flaws which the general public would normally miss, I couldn’t help but interject, “I’m not trying to keep you from buying these homes, but rather telling you these things because it’s my job.”  He laughed and said, “You’ve got quite the eye for seeing things I missed.”  I did remind him that I’ve been selling homes since before many of our trees were planted.

One of my appointments took me out to a house where I had to meet several contractors who’re going to be doing some work for its owners.  I wasn’t paying much attention to what they were saying until I heard one of them being called “Bubba”.  I perked up and asked, “Did I just hear one of you call the other Bubba?”  “Yeah, I did.”  answered one of them.  The memories of Bubba who was my childhood friend came rushing back out of those deep recesses of my memory bank.  I couldn’t help but share my story about Bubba with those two.

Bubba was a blond-haired and blue-eyed young man who suddenly arrived at our school and ended up in my third grade class.  He was terribly shy and a bit on the frightened  side as most would be at that age in a new school and strange city.  Playgrounds are always where you get the rest of the scoop, so by the time we were back in our classroom, I learned that his father was sent here from Tupelo Mississippi to be the manager of one of our factories which has long since closed.

You talk about a southern accent!  Whenever we played together, I couldn’t help but laugh at the way he pronounced certain words along with the strange new words I’d never heard before.  For some reason, we became the best of friends in a very short period of time.  We told secrets to each other, we built a private fort together, and we shared cookies snitched from our mother’s cookie jars.

One sunny Saturday morning Bubba came a knocking at our back door.  I went out and found him crying his eyes out.  I was fearful something terrible had happened at home.  Between his sobs he blurted, “My Dad says his boss is making us move back to Tupelo.”  I was heartbroken.  During his last month in Mason City we made promises to write to each other and visit when old enough to drive.

As their moving van was pulling out of their driveway, there I stood hollering at him and waving my endless goodbyes as the tears streamed down my face.  Hearing the name Bubba today reminded me of my failure of not staying in touch with him as well as how precious and memorable relationships can be even when so very young.  Perhaps deep down, that happening so long ago, made me all the more sensitive to how special real friendships are, as well as how we must work at maintaining them. Yes, we’ve walked down our roads of life and failed miserably at keeping in touch with those with whom we’ve bonded.

I’m glad his name was resurrected today because I can now see Bubba standing there looking at me with those bright blue mischievous eyes of his and saying in his Southern accent, “Let’s go farther than we did yesterday!”