Category Archives: Story

Waiting for the Day

Waiting for the DayAfter finding a light coat of snow on the ground this morning, with great dis-pleasure I went into the storeroom and pulled out the snow shovel which I’d hoped would remain there for a few more weeks.  It’s amazing how quickly we forget those many muscles that go un-used when shoveling until it comes time to do it again.  I’m sure I’ll be having a few aches and pains when I awaken tomorrow morning.

The home I was working on getting sold to a buyer these past several days, finally came together, so it looks like I’ve possibly made my last sale of the year.  There’s no question that in time, the buyer will transform it into quite the comfortable home.  As chance would have it, I sold that home about 10 years ago for an older couple who decided it was time to sell.  It’s happened many times over the years where I’ve sold the same home twice or three times.  There’s one in particular that was either purchased or sold thru Holtz Realty four times, and each and every owner thoroughly enjoyed living there.

One of my dear past customers stopped by the office today to drop off a Christmas gift for me.  When I opened the box, I was delighted to find a vintage tie clip with a design that’s most appropriate for my profession.  I’ll be sure to have it set out often so to wear it when showing homes.  Over time, it’ll likely become my talked about article of conversation.

It looks like the listing I have on 20 – 9th St. NE is coming back on the market Tuesday unless the selling agent can pull a rabbit out of a hat.  With that said, if any of you know someone who’s looking for an entry-level home that offers more that you’d expect for a home listed under $40K, this one fits the bill.  It even has a brand new $8,000 roof on it.  When doing the math, you’d find the monthly payment far less that what you’d be paying for rent, and if you’re an investor,  the rent received would provide you with a hefty rate of return.  If I were looking for either a first-time home or an investment property, I’d be all over this one.  It should’ve been sold right out of the gates, but just happened to get listed when our market started slowing before winter.

The rest of my day was spent returning emails and getting bills paid before the year’s end.  I’m still wondering where the year went.  Seems the days and months were moving all the faster this year, which was likely caused by me being exceptionally busy. But keep in mind, I’m not complaining.

There was an article in Time magazine today about the flu season that’s upon us and how much more difficult it has been for science to keep up with the evolving strains of the “bug”.  As I suspected years ago, those flu shots are a crap shoot when trying to guess which strain is going to affect the general public the most.  If you have time, look for that article.  It’s very interesting, but also a bit scary.

Starting tomorrow, it’ll be the count-down for yet another year for us to enjoy the company of friends and relatives.  Looks like a few of us are just quietly waiting for the day to arrive–especially those table scraps.

I Don’t Have To

I Don't Have To-1With Christmas Eve bearing down on us once again, I’ve found myself taking a different approach to the Season after all those many years of performing the same old rituals.  After looking more closely at the whole picture, my sudden change was likely caused by the unexpected evolution of my thinking.  Whether we want to admit it or not, we humans are in a constant state of change.  When we think of change,  most think it to be something of a geographical, financial,  employment, or physical nature.  The one form of change which is often overlooked and likely dismissed, is mental.

Several months ago I was given the great honor of marketing the remaining available condos at Prairie Place on 1st.  After much studying and familiarizing myself with their senior living concept, the time came for me to climb on board so to get them listed and sold.  My visits to the offices of Good Shepherd have been frequent since they hired me, and that’s been a good thing because I’m more familiarized with the concept of eldercare.

From my first time walking into the entrance of Good Shepherd where there are a number of seniors who are either in wheelchairs, putzing along with walkers, or seated somewhere in sight, I’ve always made sure to acknowledge each and every one of them who’ve made eye contact with me.  That simple little “Hi, how are you?” certainly brightens their day.  Too many of the younger ones don’t realize that even though the elderly have wasting bodies, most of them have razor sharp minds filled with heartfelt stories of prior generations.

One day while I was walking down a hall, I noticed not far enough ahead of me, a delivery person who was paying absolutely no attention to the residents he was walking past.  There just happened to be a woman slowly pushing her wheelchair towards him with her eyes focused on him.  He didn’t even bother to look down as he walked past, but the look she gave him was a piercing glare which likely would’ve translated as, “You just wait.  You’ll be NEXT more sooner than you think!”  You know, I didn’t blame her a bit for her visual chastising because he passed her off as a non-entity; just an old robot steering a wheelchair.  Seeing that made me all the more sensitive to the feelings of our seniors.  I wonder how many others who’ve been insensitive and/or dismissive to our confined seniors and recipients of those prophetic “you’re next” looks.

Some time ago, while on a quick stop at a client’s home, I happened to notice a nurse who was supposed to be “elder-tuned” a bit roughly examining the dearest oldster and not listening to one word being said.  A momentary thought crossed my mind that she must’ve been having a very bad day, or was in it for only the money, because there was absolutely no sign she was treating that senior with dignity or respect.  I’d say it appeared as though she was going thru the motions with one of those life-sized dolls they use in classroom nurse’s training.

So now back to change which is the subject of tonight’s thoughts.  The Christmas Season for me this year has been all about giving freely without any hooks or strings attached.  I’ve decided to give only to those who’re in need, along with others deserving of an acknowledgement of sorts for what they’ve done this past year.

I got a good laugh when one of those recipients said, “You really didn’t have to give me anything.”  I sternly replied with a smile, “I don’t HAVE TO do anything except pay taxes and die.”  Yes, I believe my gifting this year to those deserving is going to give me far warmer feelings, than had I given to those who’ve always be expecting.

Druid Priest

Druid PriestIf only we could have days like today up until the first of the year, and then start warming up.  Sounds a bit scary when considering the official 1st day of winter doesn’t start until the 22nd of this month.  At least we haven’t had any of that evil white stuff to contend with thus far.

One of my late morning appointments took me out to a home that’s a bank foreclosure.  When I arrived, I warned the buyer as we were walking up the sidewalk that from what was told me by a neighbor, the home had been vacant for more that a few years.  Empty homes that are continually sealed for a long time, tend to have build-ups of mold and mildew–especially when the utilities have been cut.

Well it happened.  When I opened the storm door to get into the lock box, I could already smell mold, and made a knee-jerk comment about it to my buyer standing behind me.  When I finally got the door unlocked, I was shocked to find furniture and personal belongings still there.  The first thing I noticed was a leather chair in the living room that was covered with mold.  Yuck!  We then noticed that the roof must’ve been leaking in the dining room for a very long time because the ceiling plaster and insulation was on the floor.

If you could only imagine the smells that house was saturated with from top to bottom.  The creepiest were the dressers, chests of drawers, bedding, clothes, and all the other items one would consider very personal still there.  It certainly gave us the impression that the owner simply vanished, and nobody payed any attention until the bank took it back for non-payment.

While driving away, I was thinking how fortunate I was that one of the neighbors alerted me about it many months ago.  Whomever ends up buying it, is going to either camouflage all the mold and mildew that’s likely entered every crack and corner, or they’ll be doing some major tear-out of flooring and plaster.  Today’s experience was another example of what I teasingly refer to as “Realtor abuse.”

Looks like I’m going to have a long day tomorrow with late afternoon showings.  Not that I’m complaining, but I’ve always thought it interesting when people want to look at homes long after the sun has set.  If there’d be any bad first impressions, I’d say looking at something in the cold and darkness would certainly be a “top of the list” candidate.  Oh well, we just do what we have to do and move forward.

I’m very surprised 1415 – 9th St. SE hasn’t sold yet.  We’ve had one offer in it, but couldn’t come together on price.  I know it’s the Season, but considering the shortage we have of newer ranch homes, it should’ve been sold by now.  Tell friends and relatives!

One of my dear friends who was teasing me today about things I should do to get more home sales under my belt, mentioned something about gifting religious articles.  I bristled and said, “Before doing that, I’d rather be considered an apostate who’s looking into becoming a Druid priest.”  I think he got the general drift of my thoughts regarding such a suggestion.  In these times, many in marketing are looking all the more for gimmicks, and it seems religion is making its way into the arenas of their marketing.

Carved in Italy

Carved in ItalyThe first and foremost little job for me today was to play for St. Paul Lutheran Church’s Service.  Before I arrived there a little after 8:00 am, I ran thru the pieces they selected for me play just one more time on the piano at my office.  When I arrived, I was glad the church was heating up because me fingers were exceptionally cold, and as most keyboardist know, when your fingers are cold, it’s all the harder to play, especially when there are pieces that move quickly.

I managed to get myself limbered up while running thru the service music and hymns again.  There was one particular piece that I’d never heard played before, and even after looking online and still not finding it, I was at a loss whether I was playing it up to speed  or not since the pages were not marked for tempo.  Fortunately there was an early arrival, so I went down and asked her if it sounded Ok.  Thank goodness she said I was playing it correctly.

Since I was downstairs, we spoke about the need for more youth in aging congregations, along with how standard and easily sung liturgical music is important for churches because it’s brings everyone all the more together.  By that time, another had arrived and joined in our conversation.  I went on to say how it’s terribly important for musicians and vocalists to remember when selecting pieces to be played, that most people–especially the older ones, don’t have very broad vocal ranges along with weak sight reading skills.

I most soulfully mentioned how over the years when accompanying different singers, there’d be times when I’d remind them that they’re not there to give performances, but rather as leaders of the congregation in song.  If I would start thinking back, I could name many instrumentalist along with vocalists who reveled in their so-called performances. If I found the vocalists I played for disregarding my advice numerous times, I would simply refuse to accompany them any longer.

Not long ago I mentioned something to a well known regarding some sacred music I happened to listen to at an area church which was being played by a newbie to our area.  I think she was a bit shocked when I mentioned how the keyboardist was adding too many “extras” to the music that was being played.  I not only noticed those little add-ons, but also a very noticeable and overly sweeping style.  I’m now wondering if that person would finally get the message if everyone in that church would turn around, look up, and start clapping after finishing one of those little “look at me” liturgical performances.

After the Service finished, I went walking thru the nave with one of St. Paul’s members and when I grew near their beautiful wooden cross hanging in its sanctuary I said, “Every time I see your beautiful carving of Christ, a great feeling of reverence comes over me.”  She smiled while saying, “It was added back in the 1960′s when there was some re-modeling done, and just so you know, it was carved in Italy.”  I quickly replied while looking up at it, “Whomever created it was a gifted woodcarver and likely filled with the Spirit while carving it.”  The above photo is one I took of it.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Christmas Vacation

Christmas VacationBeing unable to put my finger on it, I’ve come to the conclusion that today was just one of those strange ones that arrive at random without rhyme or reason creating quirky, yet memorable happenings as I’m living thru them.

Thank goodness the snow flurries were just that, and left nearly as quickly as they arrived.  Certainly without complaints, I’d say the longer the snow stays away, the shorter our winter will seem.  Each year, I’m seeing more clearly the signs of our growing Zone have been changed from 4 to 5.  With that said, we should be experiencing two weeks warmer weather on both ends of Winter–a later Fall and an earlier Spring.

My public open house at 1415 – 9th St. SE had a good turnout today with not much of a down time while there.  There’s been a greater than normal number of people circling that home with there being 2nd and 3rd showings to the same buyers, but there seems nobody ready to pull a trigger and make an offer.  I think part of the problem is our being in the midst of our Holiday porthole which is creating too many other important things on people’s plates.  Whatever the reason for it not being sold as of yet, someone’s going to get a great home for the money.  I absolutely love its main floor family room which includes a gas log fireplace.

Speaking of fireplaces, most people have no clue how expensive it is to have a good one professionally installed.  Even if you’re doing a gas insert on an existing wood fireplace, the prices normally start in the thousands.  Of course they’re worth it if you spend more time at home during winter’s early mornings and extended evenings.  There’s nothing better than a gas log to take the chill out of a home which quickly creates an added ambiance.

With my late afternoon being free, I decided to run off to a church service out of town. The experience I had there was just another episode of the funky day I was handed.  The sermon was flat, the readers hadn’t practiced, and the church was a bit chilly.

There was a young man with an OK voice up front leading the congregation in song.  I’m sure he was wondering why so few people were singing which included me, because whomever picked the bulk of their sung music must’ve did a random pick-thru of Advent music.  Oh Mercy!  The syncopation and exceptionally wide voice ranges abounded to where I think their song leader was the only person in church that was actually singing all the lines.  I felt like I was in some sort of wanna-be new age church where you’re supposed to feel like getting up and rocking in the aisles.  You may think all ages are capable of freely singing such music, when actually it takes practice, practice and more practice to get it comfortably right.  And that’s if they have seasoned voices capable of singing such pieces.

Oh I have to share with you the funniest sight I had last night.  Just as I was walking to my car out at Hy-Vee West, I noticed three people attempting to place a real Christmas tree atop their low-slung newer vehicle.  The Hy-Vee worker was saying something to them as he was backing away after helping them with it’s hoisting.  Believe it or not, there those two were getting in their car with that tree just sitting on its rooftop with absolutely nothing holding it down.  Now you know where my thoughts were going.  A quick stop would send that tree flying forward and possibly hitting another car.  A rapid acceleration would send it careening in the opposite direction and possibly going thru the windshield of a following vehicle.  And lastly, even the slightest of turns would give it a good roll off and into a ditch or curbside.  Now just think how many hundreds of scratches there’ll be on the roof of their nearly new vehicle when they finally notice them.

That whole visual was reminding me of several episodes when watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  I’m still wondering how many times that Christmas tree hit the ground before they got it home.

Smeared with Color

Smeared with ColorAfter I arrived at my office this morning, I noticed that it wasn’t getting warmer, but rather colder during our first daylight hours.  While on my way out to a breakfast invite with several clients, I noticed my car’s thermometer had dipped below 10 degrees due to the wind having started up again.  Since I normally don’t eat that much for breakfast, I found myself being all hungrier and ordering more.  My body must’ve been quietly telling me, “Eat more! I’m running out of fuel to keep your machine working!”

About 11:00 am I received a text from a tenant frantically saying his furnace was out and his home was getting cold fast.  I picked up the phone and called him, and from what I gathered, it sounded like one of those electronic components having gone bad.  I immediately called the furnace company I normally use and scheduled an ASAP service call.  Still wondering what could’ve possibly happened, I went over to the tenant’s house, and just as I walked in, he said the furnace finally kicked on.  From what he was telling me, the batteries in the thermostat went dead so he changed them, but the furnace still wouldn’t start. It wasn’t until he shut it off, waited a moment or two and then turned it on again, and at that moment it finally started.  I did mention to him that some furnaces have to be shut off in such cases so to re-start their cycles.  I couldn’t have been happier all was back to normal.

Not long after that incident, I was on the phone with a well known saying situations like a furnace not working in weather like this is but one more reason why I intensely dis-like winter.  I become very concerned about heat plants not working and pipes freezing during these times.  It’s also a reminder of how helpless we would be if our electricity would go out and all our electronically controlled furnaces not being able to heat.  That’s a pretty scary thought isn’t it?  We must remind ourselves once in a while of how many assumed “they’re always there working” peripherals we have in our lives of which we take for granted.

One of my appointments today was with a client who recently sold his inexpensive home.  My meeting with him concerned the buyer of his home requesting a money concession for things not being of his liking or possible expectations.  After considering all options, my client decided to make a goodwill gesture by offering his buyer a token amount just to keep the sale moving forward.

After he left, I couldn’t help but think how so very many people refuse to keep buying a used home in perspective–especially when it’s in a lower price range.  You can’t expect a home under $50K to be of the caliber of say one that’s $250K because it’s all relative.  In every tier of home pricing, you get what you get within those ranges without the expectation of something far greater.

After taking a quick peek in my gifted book which I spoke about last evening, I found another word I’ll certainly be placing into use.  My new word for tonight is: mottled, which means something that’s either spotted or smeared with color.  Thank goodness I found it because whenever describing something that’s blotched with color, I normally refer to it possessing spots, or being spotted, but in reality, they’re normally not spots, but smears of color.  Think of all of those many cats and dogs that we’ve known which really don’t have spots, but rather being blessed with smears of color.  With my new word, I can’t wait to consider someone’s pretty little pussy as being mottled, rather than spotted or blotched with color.

Stay warm and keep those furnace filters clean and thermostat batteries charged.

Sweeping Temperatures

Sweeping Temperatures-1There’s no question I was out of the office more than in today with it being the first of the month as well as a Monday.  At least I did get everything accomplished including having one of my listings sold.  Looks like December is going to be an active one.

One of my personal chores today was to go over to the bank and have some debit cards created for Christmas gifts I’ll be giving to a select few individuals who I believe are deserving.  I’d rather give money because unless you know exactly what someone wants, it turns into nothing but a crap shoot.

Since my mother’s passing over a year ago, I’m still not yet up to speed with holidays.  In these times, I’m perfectly happy with the “fly overs” I make when public celebrations arrive throughout the year.  I just find something else to do and call it just another day. Of course I’ll be sure to attend a Christmas Service at an area church.  It’s interesting how two deaths in a family can create rippling effects of change that reach out farther than one would’ve ever expected, but life must go on after realizing there’s not much else we can do other than move forward with the present while looking to our futures.

Tomorrow is the day our run-off elections take place for two vacating seats on our City Council.  I hope everyone has done as much research on those candidates as possible before going to the polls.  I have some mixed emotions along with “bad gut” feelings regarding several of them.  After doing some extra reading this past week, I’m now certain which one I’ll be voting for in my Ward tomorrow.  I smile while thinking about an old German saying which translates as, “New brooms sweep clean.”  But you know what we have when someone lights a match to a new broom?  You have a new broom creating a major fire hazard in the room.

These next days I’ll be sure to contact Travis Hickey for remaining steadfast with his beliefs during that special Council Meeting last Tuesday.  We need more people like him in our government who refuse to be swayed by loud-mouthed special interest groups. It was amazing how calm and collected he remained during those three grueling hours while most others were spinning and squirming.  Several days later someone said, “I’m so glad our City managed to dodge a bullet.”  I quickly replied, “In time, our citizens will realize it was more the size of a Scud Missile.”

Tonight was the second time I noticed a City bus driver not being more careful with his/her driving.  About a month ago, I noticed a female bus driver drive right thru that 4-way stop at the corner of S. Pierce and 6th St. SW.  Tonight, as I was waiting for the arrow light to turn green when at the corner of S. Monroe and Hwy 122 so I could turn left onto the highway, it turned green and while I was beginning to turn, another City bus started crossing the highway and heading north on S. Monroe.  I had to slam on my brakes so I wouldn’t turn into him/her.  I laid on my horn, but that bus continued to freely sail past me.  Don’t those drivers understand 4-way stop signs and green turning arrows?

I was actually happy to be outdoors most of our early afternoon.  Can you imagine it was 65 degrees at 2:00 pm today?  It felt like September returned for but a few hours.  Now look at it!  The temps have dropped about 30 degrees and the wind is picking up.  I’ll certainly remember this day as yet another example of how North Iowa can experience wide sweeping temperatures.  I can hear the wind howling all the more out there, so stay indoors where it’s warm and safe.