Category Archives: Mason CIty

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.

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?

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.

The Hungry Heifer

The Hungry Heifer-1Last night’s snowfall was likely the greatest amount we’ve received from one storm so far this year.  Thank goodness it wasn’t that heavy wet stuff.  For sure I was out at my front sidewalks long before the pedestrians started packing it.  By the looks of it, I think my walks are the cleanest in the Downtown.  I even made sure to create a walkway out to the street thru the snowbank the City plows created.  I absolutely couldn’t believe there to be not one business on my block that created an opening other than me.

While out there again this afternoon sweeping the snow away that had fallen from my building’s parapets, some heavy-set guy was walking towards my office and began saying, “You need to create a path to the street.”  I looked up at him as he drew closer and pointed while saying, “There is one here.”  I guess he was really itching to chide someone for there not being openings created.  There sure are those that really have the “eggs” to speak before they either think or look.

Even the beer truck was hauling cases of giggle water thru my opening down a half block to that tavern.  It annoyed me greatly seeing his cart had made two white tracks of snow down my section of sidewalk, so back out I went after he left to sweep those marks off.  I’m sure when I arrive at my office tomorrow morning, I’ll be seeing many “cat tracks” created by that bar’s patrons around that opening, and down the sidewalk in that direction.

I’m hoping my public open house at 122 – 11th St. SW is going to be a success tomorrow to where there’ll be an interested buyer.  It’s definitely time for it to be sold with our days getting longer, and hopefully the temps rising.  The above photo is of its exterior.  I just love the double-decker porch it offers.  What wonderful views there must be from up above during our pleasant months.

While driving home, I was reminded it was Friday night when noticing all the cars in the parking lot of the Knights of Columbus.  This is the evening where they have their all you can eat fish and chicken fry. I just don’t get it with people going to such places.  What type of enjoyment does anyone get out of shoveling dump truck loads of food down their pie holes?

This business of all you can eat has become a dirty habit for many North Iowans, and those businesses are booming because of it.  I don’t know how many people have told me how I really must dine at Pizza Ranch or China Buffet because you can eat all you want of nearly everything in their trough lines.  And we wonder why so many Americans have serious weight problems.

Over the years, I think I’ve been in them maybe two or three times, and went only because I was pressured into going by those who absolutely wouldn’t take a strong negative hint.  Oh well, those were experiences that’ll remain embedded in my memory.  Those are the eateries that are high on content but low on quality.  I’m sorry, I still prefer smaller, yet wholesome portions of food over those, “everything tastes the same” greasy quantities.

Speaking about these places tonight has caused me to remember that weekly television show “Cheers” which aired a great many years ago.  I can’t remember all the names of the characters, but there would be times when they’d be talking about one of those very same “all you can eat” food bars where several of them would go and pig out.  If my memory serves me, I believe it was called, “The Hungry Heifer”.

Now please, don’t any of you get any ideas of opening one here in Mason City. We have more than enough.  By the way, did you know “The Good Life” has returned in our Historic Downtown under new ownership after so very many years?  I’ll have to stop there some early evening just to have a look.

Severe Disciplining

I certainly wasn’t a happy camper finding it -11 degrees while leaving for work this morning.  Those minuses were supposed to be left in January’s bin, but instead, I believe Mother Nature has forgotten that it’s already the 6th of February.  Oh well, it looks like we’re going to have a colder than normal week ahead.  I’m hoping that once we reach the 21st of February, the sun will have grown high enough to at least warm our daylight hours above freezing.

I guess I shouldn’t complain after reading this morning how bad the weather was south of us yesterday.  That 50+ car pile-up they had near Ames on Interstate 35 must’ve been quite the nightmare for everyone involved.  I can’t imagine what sort of mayhem took place after the crashing stopped.

Severe-DiscipliningIt was pretty quiet in the real estate department today, which didn’t surprise me due to the snow and cold.  I did have a stop to make at a customer’s home to pick up some papers, and when asking how her day was, she proceeded to tell me about some serious problems she’s been having with our school system regarding what she believes to be the negligence of that school’s administration to keep other children in their school from physically hurting her son.  After hearing her tell of just one recent incident, I was beginning see red in regards to something I absolutely abhor to the core of my existence, which is: the bullying that takes place in schools.  All I could advise her was to stay strong and never weaken in regards to protecting her son’s physical and mental health.

I’ve been reading in the news all the more about how schools are taking pro-active steps against bullying, but I know they’ve only been chipping away at the tip-top of a very large iceberg.  And by the way, icebergs are usually much larger below the water line than above, which should remind us there’s far too many abuses that’ve gone un-reported by fearful students along with school administrators who have their heads fearfully buried in the sand.

That nonsense has been going on for over 50 years in our City’s public schools, and still they can’t seem to get a handle on it.  I personally thank my lucky stars that I was fortunate enough to be sent to a private school during my formative years.  Back in those days at my school,  there were strict rules regarding a student’s behavior, even to the point of one student in-appropriately touching another.  Back then, truancy was mostly something students only dreamt about due to those daily calls and notes required from parents.  I sometimes believed my school thought you had to be approaching a deathbed sickness before given permission to be out of class.

Sassing a teacher would send you to the office, along with being caught smoking, chewing gum, non-approved attire, and the list would go on.  I suppose if I’d think about all the restrictions my school had at the time, I’d have quite the long list.  But, there’s one thing I’m exceptionally thankful for, and that was there being near absolute order which afforded all those many of us students an opportunity to learn without the near constant distractions that most students have to endure in our classrooms of today.  Don’t you think there really is something wrong with our society as well as our school systems?  There’s far too much freedom given to students which is usually borne out of the fear teachers and administrators have of our State and Federal regulations that pretty much hold them bound to their in-effective rules and regulations.

Of course, there’s always the wrath coming from parents of their little so-called princes and princesses who do absolutely no wrong, when in fact they’re likely the ones belonging to a given school’s herd of bullies.

Sorry about my ranting, but that woman’s story about her son getting continually picked on at school, really got my blood to boil.  As far as I’m concerned, even the “smell” of a student being bullied in a school should be fully investigated, and if discovered to be so, those responsible should be subjected to severe disciplining without exception.

Making Iowa Greatly

Making Iowa GreatlyMy day was pretty much a mix of duties from the moment I arrived at the office.  I guess it’s just OK to consider oneself a jack all trades with a multi-tasking overlay.  You likely would’ve considered me an overlapping Jack if having followed me around this particular day.  And of course, the cold temperatures weren’t helping me with my duties.

One of my customers stopped by to drop off a check early this afternoon.  He must’ve had some extra time to kill because of his extended stay.  Since we were seated up near the front window, he happened to notice a couple with several young children walking past my office.  I think that must’ve been his cue to bring up the subject of how differently children of today are being reared by their parents.

Evidently that change must be a great sore spot for him because he continued to bring up reasons why there are all the more of our young who’re being over-exposed to the evils of adulthood at very early ages to where they’ve become polluted or jaded far too soon before their minds are fully developed, which in turn creates future social issues for them when they’ve finally reached adulthood.

I agreed with him on nearly all his points, including how I believe many of the parents of those fractured children should be equally blamed for not providing their own insulation against all the many bad ideas and ways which always seem to be within easy reach of our young.  We can also blame the social medias for freely providing information on nearly anything and everything one could possibly consider.  Just remember, children are naturally curious, and when that curiosity drifts into forbidden territories, that’s when the drawbridges should be immediately pulled up by their caring parents–without exception.  Before he left, we both agreed that getting our society back into balance, will likely take years, and possibly even more than a generation or two.

Please don’t forget about my public open house I’m hosting tomorrow that’s located at 1034 Park Lane here in Mason City.  Now that the owner has moved everything out, it now looks all the more open and spacious, and I won’t be a bit surprised if there’ll be some solid interest tomorrow as long as we don’t get any more snow.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s priced right, considering it’s a newer 3+ bedroom ranch in one of our more desirable districts which also offers a double attached garage, a useable basement with a 3/4 bath, and a larger than normal fenced rear yard.  Please tell any of your friends and relatives who’re considering a change to stop on by.

I took a photo this morning of the above three flags flying over our County Courthouse.  The faint early sunlight made them appear to be glowing.  While looking at them it reminded me of that “Make America Great” slogan we’ve been seeing so much of this past year, which caused me to consider branding my own slogan that’s closer to home which is, “Let’s start making Iowa greatly better.”  You all know our work ethic is stellar, our natural resources are endless, and our educational systems are top drawer, so all we need do, is to all the more continually remind ourselves that the sky’s the limit with opportunities awaiting in our great State.