Category Archives: Life

Hurried Monday

Hurried Monday-1How in the world did that snowstorm manage to come upon us today without warning?  All I’d been hearing was that our weather was supposed to be pleasant this weekend.  But, while out checking my open house signs earlier and not to my liking, I noticed the  skies were looking far too gray and heavy, and wouldn’t you know it, about a half hour later it started snowing.

One of my appointments this morning was in Nora Springs, so I figured I’d stop and pay a visit to an dear classmate of mine who lives there.  He was only in my class school for one year, but during that time, we must’ve made a memorable impression on each other because a very many years later and after his recent divorce, he decided to move back to Mason City, and actually called me to sell him a home in the area.

My reason for stopping for about a half hour before heading to my appointment, was to just play catch-up since I’d not seen or spoken to him for at least two years.  He’s continuing to make improvements on his home to where it really is quite charming as well as comfortable.  Seemed he wanted to talk more about our old days rather than the here and now which was OK with me.  We did get a few more laughs when talking about some of the crazy things that went on back in our “stone age” days of school.

He must’ve prepared himself for my visit because while there, he pulled out from under his chair an old yearbook.  When I saw it, I immediately said, “Oh no! Here comes another embarrassing moment!”  He went to a page, and handed the book over to me and said, “Can you find yourself?”  Way down towards the end of the page I found a young gentleman whom I guessed to be me because I’d never seen that photo before.  I said him, “My gosh! I didn’t realize I had such a mouthful of teeth and an even wider smile that year.”  I think it was one of those years where my face wasn’t growing fast enough to keep up with my teeth and lips.  We did get a good laugh out of it.   Some have told me in the past how much I’d changed after reaching my 21st year, and after seeing that photo today, I’m in total agreement.

On my way back from Nora Springs after my showing, my fears were confirmed about those reckless drivers on the highway when seeing several cars in the ditch.  While driving over, there were people likely angry with me because I wasn’t going the speed limit, but I didn’t care because I could “feel” how slippery the roadway was from that wet snow.  Oh well, we all must live and learn.

My public open house at 422 S. Tennessee Place was a great success today.  Those in attendance were all showing very good interest.  In fact one of them, when looking at the price must’ve been even more surprised because of the way she was acting after seeing it.  One of the potential buyers that was there whom I’ve known on and off over the years is also showing interest, and as far as I’m concerned she’d be the perfect fit for it.  I’m hoping she’s the one who ends up buying it because if anyone deserves such a great value, it’s her.

Let’s all hope tomorrow’s temps will be above freezing and get our streets melted off before another hurried Monday morning arrives.

Better With Age

Better With AgeWith the wind blowing out of the north today, certainly kept the temps low enough to where we didn’t have any more snowmelt.  At least the sun was shining brightly which always helps.  One of my dear friends who lives out of State mentioned how extra-gloomy her winter has been due to the excessive number of over-cast days they’ve been having.  One of my dear clients fully agreed with me while talking about how we seem to be experiencing all the more wind than we’ve had in years past.  For her, each year it seems to be all the more windy.  I couldn’t agree more fully, yet I still don’t understand why our meteorologists haven’t talked about these changes.  Just think how many tall trees in our area that’ve been either topped-off or completely blown down from the winds these past years.  Those straight-liners coming out of the west have been the most destructive.

The hours of my day went flying by quite quickly with all my scheduled errands around the City.  One of my stops was at a home so to get some exterior and interior photos taken.  What an exceptionally comfortable home!  After finishing up with my room shots, I told the owner it was no surprise it sold before I could even my get photos taken.

Now if some if these homebuilders would use that floor plan as a new construction, it would certainly sell because it wouldn’t be like any of those monster homes that some builders think to be still in style.  They need to get it in their heads that tastes are changing–especially with our younger crowd.  In spite of what some believe, we don’t have that many people living in North Iowa with incomes high enough to support such monstrous monthly mortgage payments.

One of my clients whom I’ve done business with for at least 15 years or more stopped by for a chat, and while talking about this and that, we somehow got on the subjects of respect and trust.  Oh Mercy!  That was quite the debate regarding how and when respect and trust is a given, and when in most cases in today’s society it must be earned.  Every society has mores, or should I say hard-coded traditions regarding interactions within families, along with the general public.  In the old days, we were taught to respect all our elders, but what happens when we’re fully aware of many whose own failures within their families as well as society, far exceed that which even those having ever-forgiving liberal mindsets would consider forgivable, and or acceptable?

These past years I’ve grown to understand, as well as embracing the concept that in most cases, respect along with trust is something that must be hard-earned.  Writing this just now, reminded me of that old Smith-Barney commercial where that old gentleman says, “We make our money the old-fashioned way, because we earn it.”  In these fire-storm times, we must be all the more careful whenever blindly considering someone trustworthy as well as worthy of respect.  What I believe is the driving force of these changes, is the devil-may-care attitude of all those many regarding the acquisition of wealth.  It’s unfortunate that most are now re-aligning their generations-old beliefs regarding family/social mores, but times have changed, and adaptation is all the more necessary for survival.

Since having several hours free this afternoon, I decided it was time to give the wooden floors in my office a good scrub.  It took a bit longer than normal due to the extra work needed to get that tracked in and then dried-on snowmelt junk removed.  After they were dry, I stood back with admiration and was again reminded how those 120+ year old floors can still glow with such a deeply rich beauty which could never be copied with today’s flooring technologies.  I’m ever-thankful I made the decision years ago to have them re-finished.  Some things really do get better with age, don’t you think?

Covered All Sides

Covered All Sides-1Alas the warmer weather is starting to take hold in North Iowa so we can get rid of much of our lingering ice and snow.  I’m sure once the old stuff is melted, any additional snow here on out will be short lived.

I had another “soft landing” closing today on a home which had a number of offers on it over the months, but couldn’t seem to get together on price.  I’m just happy the sellers are content with what it sold for so they can now move on with their lives.  Since the ground is still frozen solid, after about 20 minutes of work, I did manage to get my sold sign out of their yard before going to closing.

While waiting for the buyers to finish up with their side, the sellers and I happened to get on the subject of the recent school shootings in Florida.  It seems these incidents are becoming all the more frequent across the United States to where I’m convinced there’s something very wrong with the way in which children are being reared.  Yes, there have always been those “bad seeds” throughout history, but in these times, there appears to be all those many more of them.

What creeped me out a bit was the seller saying she believes there are one possibly two students in our City’s school system who have that type of evil lurking within, while saying it’s almost as though you can see that devilment in their eyes along with they way they carry themselves.  Now think about it and tell the truth when I ask, “Have you ever had an exceptionally uncomfortable feeling about a small few when crossing paths with them?”  It’s almost as though they radiate evil.

On the flip side, I just happened to hear several days ago about recent happenings in the life of a young man.  Not so many years ago I encountered him at a closing of a home I had listed. Just sitting there and casually noticing his demeanor, I soon discovered he to be one of society’s “radiators”.  At the time while driving away from the bank, I thought to myself, “He’s going to be a magnet for some chosen young lady out of the crowd and reel her in by hook, line, and sinker.”  Without making any more clarifications on his present situation, all I can say is that he married VERY well.  Don’t ask me why I believed he possess that ability from one casual encounter, other than I’d say he had that “look” and mannerism of a gold digger.  Hearing about his recent rise in socio-economic status, I couldn’t help but remember what an old Jewish businessman once said to me which went something like, “Be sure to marry for money, because you’ll always learn to love them.”

Since since hearing the weather is supposed to be markedly warmer this weekend, I do hope you all are spreading the word about the open house I’ll be having on Saturday at 422 S. Tennessee Place here in Mason City.  It’s really a great buy.

Late this afternoon I ran into a young man who has a full time job, but also does freelance writing on the side.  He announced that he’s getting more work and hopes some day to be a full-time journalist.  I congratulated him, but also shook my finger at him while telling him that if he’s going to get into reporting news, he must pretend as though his subject is in the middle of a four-way intersection, and be sure to visit all four “corners”, then knowing he’s covered all sides of the subject before sending his findings to print.  He actually thanked me for my advise, and I could tell that when I said it, there was a sort of illumination that was taking place within.  So glad I had the opportunity to visit with him and relay my encouragements.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine's DaySo glad to see the sun out today along with the temps rising above freezing.  I’m sure we’re all getting tired of these seemingly endless days of winter.  Speaking of sunlight, this year I’ve been watching closely when even the shortest of rays of sunlight will filter into the windows at the back of my office for our year 2018.  For the first time in around 112 days, the sun finally came peeking thru one of those windows for an ever-short period of time. Yes, there’s always light coming in those windows, but today I discovered there are all the more days without than I’d figured.  Now you likely think me a bit strange to even care about such things, but I’m personally glad there’s still a vein of curiosity still alive within.

I’m now working at getting a few more listings on board since many of my office’s homes have sold.  Hopefully I’ll be getting a call from several sellers I’ve recently visited with about selling their homes.  I’m still wishing some of the first-time buyers would lower their sights on the price range of homes they’ve been viewing.  I’m really not a negative-minded person, but no matter what we want to believe, there’ll always be bumps in the roads of our futures.

After reading an article several days ago, the retirement futures for our millennials is not looking bright.  The author went on to speak about how so many of them have loaded themselves up with high and long term debt to where they can’t save on a monthly basis for any future “bumps”.  No matter what anyone wants to believe, I’m convinced that no matter how their lives appear, they’re living on the edge of a very deep ditch, and if they should happen to stumble and fall within, they’ll be stuck down there for many years.  Far too many immediately want the lifestyles their parents worked for many years to achieve.  I’m still blaming most of this on those parents who continued to enable their precious offspring to where those impressionable children created in their minds what our “real world” isn’t, and then reality hits when out there fighting for their financial survival.  So sad.

I’m scheduling an public open house for this Saturday at 422 S. Tennessee Place here in Mason City, and in hopes that this will be the month that it gets sold.  It truly is a great buy and hopefully there’ll be a professional or semi-professional looking to buy who’ll be in attendance and realize that it really has been under the radar of value.  With there being only four units in that building, makes for a less-stressful environment for its resident owners.  I’ve always thought that if you can’t get along with three other owners in a building, then likely the problem lies with you.  Spread the word!

With it being Valentine’s Day, I decided to dig out my envelope of vintage Valentine’s Day cards and find yet another to share a bit of the past.  Since I had to drive to a familiar office and pick up some documents, I decided to show them to their secretary who enjoys such memorabilia.  She actually liked them better than I’d expected to the point when she looked up at me and said, “Now why can’t today’s Valentine’s Day cards be like these?”  I fully agreed and while walking out I turned and said, “I’m glad I lifted your spirits by showing my precious cards.”  The above photo is but one of my many favorites from that envelope.  I’m hoping you and your Valentine are having a delightful Valentine’s Day.

Fake News

Fake News-1When looking at the calendar today, I was very surprised to find that Valentine’s Days is on the same day as Ash Wednesday, and if you remember me mentioning several days ago, Easter Sunday falls on the 1st of April which is April Fool’s Day.  Now that’s what I call a real coincidence.  Seems we’re finding all the more creepy and sometimes curious happenstances in today’s world.  I hope it’s not some sort of omen warning us that the days and months ahead are going to be any more turbulent.

Most of my free time today was spent finishing up on my yearly accounting, and certainly glad to be over with it for another year.  Once again, I was reminded of a few snide comments made to me over the years about how cheap and easy it is to run a real estate office.  After reviewing all of last year’s expenses, I dare say those same people would have jaw-drops if ever having seen them.  And of course, most have no idea how many hours in a week an active full-time agent racks up over the course of a year.  Since Realtors don’t charge by the hour, there’ve been a few times when working with buyers where I’d say after walking away from the closing table of the homes they purchased,  I’d dare not begin counting the number of hours spent with them for fear I’d be in the  negative.  Ok maybe to be on the positive side, we’ll go with $2.00 an hour without counting mileage.  Again, I’m not complaining, but rather being perfectly frank about having my chosen profession to that of being a Realtor.

Just to see what’s available in today’s market in North Iowa, I went into my MLS program and did a few price range searches.  Just as I’d suspected, there’s definitely a real shortage of homes in key price ranges.  I also noticed of late that there are all the more rental barons purchasing lower priced homes.  Now if the stock market continues to be as volatile as it has been, we’ll be seeing people taking cash out of their portfolios and investing in safer bets like real estate.  I’m still surprised some of our rental barons don’t let loose of their better properties in these times because they’d fetch a pretty good return on equity for them.  Just remember, there’s a great difference between being needy and greedy.  As my dear mother would say, “For some, enough is never enough.”, and believe me, I know the names of those “never enough” people living in our midst.

About a week ago, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some crackers so to have something to munch on during these cold days.  On the shelf with all the other boxes and brands, I found one called “Annie’s” that spoke about being all natural with all kinds of folksy down-home sayings on it, so I figured I give them a try.

When I got back to the office and opened the box for a taste, I wasn’t the least bit impressed considering they were supposed to be all natural and made by a woman who started that company out of her kitchen, or so it appeared.  Over these days, I finally forced myself to finish them, and when looking closer at the finer print on the box, I found that it was packaged in California.  Of course curious me went online to do a little digging.

After spending about ten minutes of crawling around their website, I found written in a very inconspicuous area, “General Mills”.  It appears that company sold out to corporate, and General Mills was clever enough to keep their folksy branding.  Now I know why those crackers tasted like every other cracker I’ve eaten.

After seeing that, I’m now all the more wary of food items that are being touted as “all natural”.  When thinking about it, I’m wondering just how regulated and inspected foods we’re buying really are.  You can imagine all the baiting and switching that companies have opportunities to do without some “all natural”  inspector looking over their shoulders?  And believe me, there’s a whole lot more money to be made when selling something being marketed as “All Natural”.  It makes me just a wee bit angry just thinking about how many millions of Americans are being duped by all those many company’s false advertisement. Naughty, naughty monkeys!

Along with false advertising and fake news, we now have cloaked branding.  What next?

Past Histories

Past HistoriesAfter reading today that our weather is similar to our winter of 2014, I begged to differ a little since there’s no doubt this winter has been far windier than I can honestly remember.  Thinking it was finally going to be a calm day, I was proven wrong when noticing it beginning to blow again once the sun came up, while continuing on until it began to set.  I’m sure our meteorologists have their own reasons as to why we’ve had so much more wind this winter, but keep in mind, when it’s cold out to begin with, the wind chill is what really makes us all the colder.  In spite of what they’ll say, I’m still betting on it being the fault of the Russians and/or Chinese.  We’ve recently read that whatever country comes up with real honest to goodness artificial intelligence will rule the world, but I’m more convinced that whomever discovers a way to control our world’s weather patterns will indeed rule our world.

With there not being many calls today, along with no scheduled appointments outside my office other than a run to the bank and Post Office, I found myself busied again with my year-end accounting.  When finally realizing it was time for me to stop, I discovered I’m nearly finished with my annual annoyance.  I really don’t mind performing accounting tasks, but I’d rather be given those that take about an hour or so from start to finish, instead of something requiring all those many hours.  Yes, we all have personal jobs we intensely dislike, but the secret, is to just get started and keep at them until they’re finished instead of leaving them to stare at you each and every day.

One of my calls today was to one of the people I met with on Saturday who live out of town.  After going over with him the things I was calling about, I couldn’t help but change the subject and say, “I do hope you don’t think me to be the type who goes around bashing people on a regular basis, because I thought about our conversation while driving back to the office and thinking I’d crossed the line when sharing a bit too much with you.”  He laughed and then said, “Not to worry because it looks like we’re both good judges of character.”  In spite of his comment, I’m still glad I clarified myself as not being one who’s always bashing someone.  I was also wishing I’d not started speaking of that particular family because it resurrected all the more personal bad memories.

If any of you know of someone within a 20 – 25 minute drive of Mason City who owns an acreage, please let me know because I have a couple who’s looking for something in the country.  It doesn’t have to be a “gentleman’s” acreage because these folks are fully capable of turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse.  The big requirement is that it not be on anymore than a 1/2 mile of gravel.  There’s one acreage within their preferred driving distance that would’ve fit their bill, but there’s more than a 1/2 mile of gravel, and the house that’s still standing is beyond the point of restoration due to poor re-modelings over the years, and all the worse maintenance and upkeep.

When I showed it to them several months ago, even jaded me was a bit creeped out by that house.  It continued to feel “icky” the entire time I was there.  Even my buyers were ready to bolt before we were finished.  Now that’s a country home which contains walls that if could speak, would likely tell some hair-raising stories.  I now remember as I was getting into my car when leaving and saying to myself, “Now this is one acreage that reeks of great sadness and discord.”  I hope to never cross paths with anyone who’s lived there in the past, for fear they’ll tell me something about it I really don’t care to know.  Sometimes, it’s just best we remain silent to dysfunctional past histories of certain homesites.

On a much lighter side, the above photo is one I took early this morning of Mason City’s eastern sky.  Quite pleasing to the eye, don’t you think.

When the Snow’s Gone

When the Snow's Gone-1The first and foremost job I had today was to go over to St. Paul Lutheran Church and play for their 9:00 a.m. service.  I went early enough so to have time to run thru all the music I was to play.  I chided myself after playing the first piece for not getting over there sometime last week to re-familiarize myself with their piano.  Unless one is exceptionally gifted on a keyboard, each and every instrument requires some getting used to before being able to comfortably play it.  In spite of my having an upright piano I use for practicing, it’s enough different,  just as every other make and model of pianos are.  It’s sort of like stepping into someone else’s vehicle and driving it off to the grocery store.  You know you can drive it, but it’s just enough different.

All went relatively well with the exception of my not paying close enough attention to the order of their service.  I found that I’d nearly forgotten to play a song when it’s time arrived.  Believe me, I jumped out of my pew and over to their piano like greased lightening.  What made me all the more angry with myself was that I’d started it in a different key signature.  Thank goodness I migrated over to the appropriate key without having to stop and start all over.   I definitely learned several lessons today that are now permanently hard-coded into my memory.

They really are a delightful group of people over at St. Paul, and I certainly don’t have a problem playing for them from time to time.  What I’ve found to be touching, is that they’re all so personable.  One of them mentioned before their services began how surprised she was to see how early Easter will arrive this this year.  I mentioned that I figured as much since Ash Wednesday is this week.  I can’t ever remember Easter Sunday being on April Fool’s Day.  Do you? Seeing how our winter weather doesn’t seem to want to warm a little, it wouldn’t surprise me if we still have snow on the ground that day.

I’m sure many of you are watching the Olympic Games which recently started.  I normally watch them, but as I said before, I’m not going to pay any attention to it this time around due to all the political maneuverings that are taking place this time around.  If it’s not the Russians, its the North Koreans.  I’m still very disappointed with the Olympic Committee for allowing the Russians to play considering all the doping they did with their athletes at the last Olympic Games held in Sochi.  Looks like it’s all about money and power instead of fairness.  Many believe the Russian athletes are getting a bad rap, but why aren’t people talking about all those many athletes from around the world who played fairly last time and lost because the winning “decks” were stacked against them by the Russians?  If I were one of those Russian athletes who won unfairly, I’d be exceptionally ashamed of myself all the way into perpetuity.

While working this afternoon on another project, I wasn’t surprised to receive several calls from Realtors asking about the availability of several of my listings.  Both times I had to say, “Sorry, it’s sold.”

Before St. Paul’s services started, a gentleman whom I know mentioned that he and his wife are causally looking to “bump up” in housing, but can’t seem to find anything in their price range.  He’s finding that selling his home won’t be a problem, but finding one they like in their price range is going to be the hard part.  It looks like there’s going to be another shortage this year with homes in certain price ranges.  Let’s just hope the market starts opening up when the snow’s gone. Do have a pleasant evening.