Category Archives: Mason CIty

Always Brings us Woe

Always Brings us WoeToday, whenever the opportunity would arise, I would ask people who’re considerably older than me if they ever remember a Spring like this.  They all emphatically replied, “No”.  Nearly all would say they recalled one-time dumps of snow in April, but never the near weekly storms we’ve had since mid-March.  I read again where if there’s an extended cold in Spring, it’ll be followed by a sizzlingly hot summer.  We’ll see what May and June holds in store for us.

Another “soft landing” closing took place this morning with one of my listings.  Everyone seemed exceptionally happy which made me all the more glad it was a good match-up with buyers and sellers.  That’s another home I wish I had twenty more listing just like it, because they’d all be sold before high summer arrives.  The inventory of homes available in Mason City and North Iowa is growing all the shorter to where I’m afraid our market is going to dry up if we don’t get more good homes in desirable neighborhoods listed.

I was deeply saddened after hearing about Younkers closing its doors in June, because generations of my family shopped there for years.  They always offered a good selection along with fair prices. It just added itself to that heaping bucket of Iowa-born companies that could no longer survive in our digital age.  The loss of both Penny’s, and now Younkers, will certainly make Southbridge Mall another modern-day dinosaur that’ll be falling all the more into dis-repair.

A client mentioned something today about how he does a great deal of his shopping thru Amazon.  I normally keep still about people buying online rather than existing brick and mortar stores in our area, but after hearing about the closing of Younkers, I decided to no longer be still and be more opinionated regarding Amazon and the likes of them.

Just think forward about ten years from now.  How long do you believe our North Iowa merchants will be able to keep their doors open while Amazon continues to lay waste to all those many home-grown businesses which have served us for generations?

I’m now all the more determined to never purchase anything online unless I absolutely have to, as well as checking if something’s “Made in China”,  because if it is, I put it back and continue searching for something similar.  Why must we continue to feed monsters while knowing full well, they’re ruining our cities and towns, and most of all, our Country.

For years I’ve said, “If you have to comparative-price to save a few nickels or dollars, then you really can’t afford to be buying it.”  Our society has long been duped by corporations into believing that newer is better.  Just remember, consumerism cannot sustain itself.  Now don’t get me wrong, because I believe people who’ve worked very hard for what they have, should reward themselves for their efforts, but not to the point of buying something just for the sake of showing the world they’re big spenders.

I did my days forward-and-back calculation again today.  As of tomorrow morning, we will be 119 days forward from the winter solstice.  So after counting backwards 119 days before the solstice, we would return ourselves to the date of August 25th.  I’m sure many of you can remember how warm and wonderful that last week of August can be, and certainly in possession of fond memories to prove it.  Unfortunately for me, three years ago on that date, I was deeply insulted by several who’d always been considered to be full of sugar, spice, and everything nice.  After counting back those days today, those memories of 08/25/15, of which I’d sent down nearly three years ago, were once again resurrected and back into my memory.

I took the above photo this afternoon from the front door of my office.  It’s quite the sight isn’t it?   I’m in full agreement that an April snow always brings us woe–especially when we have to shovel such heavy stuff.

My one-liner tonight is:  Confusing yourself is a way to stay honest.

Ground Foragers

DSC_0504With it being such a bright and sunny day, I decided to get some errands run before tomorrow’s storm hit.  Not realizing the time, I discovered I’d been away from the office for nearly three hours.  It would’ve been a very pleasant day had the northwest wind not been spewing more cold air on North Iowa.  I still go into a bit of shock every time I see tall mounds of snow piled around our City for this time of year.

I happened to read a local article today regarding the plight of our robins where they’re not getting enough to eat due to our snow cover. It appears the weaker ones are dying of starvation.  It’s no surprise it’s happening because I distinctly remember those days weeks ago where they were eating all the dried fruits from the flowering trees in our City.  I thought it was strange to see them arrive so early–especially considering how cold it was and the amount of snow remaining on the ground.

I know I’m sounding horrible by saying this, but perhaps the deer population won’t be increasing as rapidly as they have been year-over-year due to those pregnant females soon to be giving birth without the normal amount of green cover to hide their fauns, which will make them all the more visible to their natural predators.  Most don’t realize a doe can go into heat as early as six months after being born, and can birth from 1 – 3 fauns.  Now that’s a recipe for a population explosion in a very short period of time. It’s no wonder people have been seeing herds numbering upwards of 50 at the outskirts of our City.  On average, a single deer can eat around 2,000 lbs of forage a year.  If you do the math, you’ll see how much destruction a herd of say 10 – 12 can do in a given neighborhood.

I’ve been working with a buyer who’s planning on moving to Mason City from a Metro area. He mentioned that just over these past seven to ten years how greatly the quality of life has changed where he lives.  From the traffic jams, to the cost of housing, it sounds like some place I’d rather not live.  I was shocked when he mentioned his metro area reports on an average of 35,000 car break-ins a year.  He also said the thieves can easily spot rental cars belonging to tourists, which are prime targets because they keep their valuables in their cars instead of their hotel rooms while out sight-seeing.  Those vacation nightmares are likely being swept under the rug by their law enforcement so not to create bad impressions for future tourists.

You many think me sounding like a broken record, but it’s high time our City starts focusing more on attracting out-of-State retirees who’re actively seeking quieter and simpler lifestyles for their golden years.  When my client was telling me how it’s been just in these recent years that he’s despised driving on freeways, I couldn’t help but interject by saying, “I’ve always hated freeway driving–especially in large metro areas.”  Just watching some of those crazy drivers zig-zagging between lanes during rush hour, would be enough to make me want to head for the nearest exit ramp.

Several of the homes I showed today were exceptionally dirty to where I thought, “Didn’t anyone say something to the owners about them?”  Two of them had room colors I never would’ve chosen.  Blood red walls in a bedroom would be enough to give anyone raging nightmares.  I have no clue where owners get such crazy decorating ideas.

The above photo is one I took today of some little ground foragers feeding.

My one-liner for tonight is:  Children are the hope of the future.

Bracing for another Dumping

Bracing for another Dumping-1I’m sure everyone wasn’t a bit happy about waking up to this morning’s 18 degree temperature.  This abnormal weather we’ve been having has come to the point of being laughable.  I guess when something gets as bad as this, you either start crying or laughing. Wouldn’t we all prefer to get a few giggles out of it before it’s finally over?

One of my appointments was with a young gentleman to finish up with his lease on a property I helped one of my dear clients get rented.   After meeting with him again this morning, I’m all the more confident he’ll be just fine when it comes to taking care of the property and paying his rent on time.  I’m noticing all the more polarizing with certain districts in our City where there are all the more prospective tenants who refuse to live in those areas.

I’ve found it to be an unfortunate evolution that’s been slowly taking place over these last 25 years.  But you know, we as a City allowed it to happen due to our own “not in my backyard” mentalities.  It all goes back to the real lack of bi-partisan community mindedness.  Yes, there are a number of our young who really want to make a difference, but they’re handicapped by the immensity of the problem,  as well as the amount of money and re-educating it’s going to take to get the texture of our City’s blighted districts back to acceptable levels.

I just happened to get this week’s edition of “The Economist” in the mail today, and on the front cover, and noticed their feature article being named something like,  “Germany nice”.  I paged to their feature section and skimmed through it before my appointment arrived.  It looks like Germany is coming all the more into its own within the European Union.  From what little I read, it sounds like they’ve really got their act together.  I’ve always known Deutschland to be the financial powerhouse of Europe, but I didn’t realize how much their socio-economic arenas have grown and expanded.  I had to laugh to myself about how they spoke of the German mentality when speaking of it being a country of people who pride themselves in the near absolute perfect quality of their work, along with how they seem to always think things thru before moving forward with any significant changes.  When I have time, I’ll be sure to read the article in its entirety.

In hopefully a day or two, my listing at 801 W. Main in Fertile will be back on the open market.  Another Realtor’s buyers were not able to perform due to some lending issues they’re having.  I’m very dis-appointed with that great big waste of time for my sellers, but I’m putting it behind me and moving forward with other prospective buyers for their wonderful in-town acreage.  I’ll be phoning some agents who called on it during the time it was still under contract, just to make sure the general public knows it’s still available.

While driving around the City today, I noticed how the water levels of our creeks and river have risen.  There’ve been people mentioning how their sump pumps have been working overtime.  Our sub-soils must be very saturated from all the rain and snow we’ve had.  I was sad to hear one area of our City was without power and some finished basements ended up taking in water.  After hearing the news today, it sounds like we’ll be bracing for another dumping of snow tomorrow night, and it’s not going to be a light dusting.

My one-liner for tonight is:  Children are the cruelest of all.

And as a footnote.  Far too often we find adults continuing to nurture the very same mentalities they had during their adolescent years, to where some even revel in their naughty monkey behaviors.

The 14th Day of April 2018

The 14th Day of April 2018The first thing I had to do this morning was to go searching for some homeowner’s association documents having to do with the condo I have listed at 422 S. Tennessee Place here in Mason City.  I did manage to find most of them, but what I was missing were their rules and regulations, so I placed a call to the owner asking if she had her copy.  Thank goodness she did, so I ran out and grabbed it, drove to the office, made a copy, and then back out to her unit and return it.

While there, we had a very good chat about the way in which our world is changing.  We were pretty much in agreement that far too many are overly-centered on themselves and their money-making careers.  We talked about how people are quick to justify their not so good intentions, simply to get a nose or two ahead of others.

The ranks of those who continue to think only about “me” instead of “us” are on the rise.  While driving back my to my office, I remembered a conversation I had several weeks ago with a well known.  Since I haven’t talked to him that much of late due to his belief that nearly everyone else has more money than he, to where he’s now finding it necessary to do anything he can so to acquire enough money and live out the remainder of his golden years in well-earned and deserved comfort.

I’m normally empathetic towards those who are down and out, but I couldn’t seem to connect with him due to my knowing how much money he freely squandered away these recent years.  The big difference between people like him and myself, is that if I’d gone on a spending spree and later found myself financially running on fumes, I certainly wouldn’t direct my resentments towards others, but rather blame myself.  Being resentful and envious of others does nothing to fix their own problems.  I believe the best cure for such people, is to take complete ownership of their own failings, and then get back to work at rebuilding their financial houses which they themselves laid to waste.  Before I bid him adieu, I soulfully wished him the best during his trying days and months ahead.

While out shoveling at my office this afternoon, I wasn’t paying enough attention to my surroundings to where I was startled when suddenly hearing a voice behind me saying, “Hey Mister”.  When I turned to him he blurted out, “Hey Mr., would you give me $1.15 so I can go and buy a can of pop?”  When finally noticing he was from one of our inner-city Transition Centers, I flatly said, “No”, and turned back to my shoveling.  Thinking he was going to continue moving on, he came right back at me with, “You don’t have $1.15 to give me?”  I turned back to him again while all more bluntly replying, “No, I don’t.”   He gave me the dirtiest of looks before he started walking down the sidewalk and mumbling something which I certainly didn’t want to hear because it was likely about me.

Now please don’t get me wrong.  I’m always willing to help someone in need, but certainly not into enabling.  If he’d asked for a glass of water out of thirst, I would’ve given it to him, but wanting me to pay for a can of pop?  Not a chance.  I’m just hoping he’s not going to be wandering up and down the sidewalks in our Historic Downtown come Spring because I had more than enough of another from his group who freely panhandled myself with me, as well as other pedestrians.  I don’t know what happened to him, but I think he must’ve been assigned to another building farther from our City’s center, and likely due to the complaints from others.

We’re one day short of being a week away from April 22nd while still getting sleet and snow.  I clearly remember our most recent 22nd’s of April, and I’d say we’re a far cry from being even close to having similar weather.  I heard we’re supposed to get more sleet and snow the rest of this weekend.

The above photo is one I took today as a reminder for us all that we’re at the 14th day of April 2018.

Tonight’s one-liner is:  Boredom makes you do crazy things.

Mortgage their Children

Mortgage their Children-1This wind and rain today was enough to keep nearly everyone inside, but there are always those few brave souls who defy such weather and carry on as if it’s just another normal day in North Iowa. As wacky as this weather has been this winter, I’d say if and when it does get back to normal for this time of year, people will consider it be abnormal. Many of the snowbirds are holding off their returning from Florida, or our Southwestern States just so to make sure the cold and snow is over for good.

There’ll certainly be an even shorter window of time for people to get their yards cleaned up before the grass starts growing. Just these past weeks, I’ve been appalled by the number of people living in Mason City who did absolutely no yard clean-up before winter hit. There’ll be some big messes to clean up, unless they’re so lazy that they’ll try to grind their leaves and sticks up with their lawnmowers. I was at a home today and noticed on one side of the house a large pine tree. When I looked down at the ground, there was at least a four or five inch deep layer of pine needles that hadn’t been removed for years. Now that’s what I call super-lazy. For certain, once those needles are removed, there’ll be absolutely not even a blade of grass to be found.

I did manage to get one of my client’s homes rented for him today. Most have no clue how much more time consuming it is in these times to market rentals. There’s the advertising, the showings, and some of which are scheduled but then “no shows”, and then the verifying of the information given on the applications because as we all know, some people are prone to lie. Invariably, there are always those who after they look at an opening will say, “We want it.”, and think it’s automatically theirs just because they’ve chosen it. Several years ago a young lady got really angry with me for not renting a home to her to where she promised she’d tell everyone what a horrible person I was. The sad part about it was, her income and employment history was much weaker than the person who was given the green light to rent it. It’s amazing how some can be sugar and spice, but when they don’t get what they want, they turn into wicked-mouthed monsters.

In spite of today’s rain and wind, I kept my out-of-town appointment to show a home. Thank goodness neither the buyer nor myself had any issues while driving there. I couldn’t help but mention while there, “Now if it looks good to you today, it’ll look all the better when the warm sun is shining and our winter’s dirt is washed away.” I’m pretty confident she’ll be giving me a call next week for a second look. While driving back to Mason City, I nearly got rear-ended by a young lady who wasn’t watching the road–likely because she was playing with her smart phone. As chance would have it, there was along line of cars at a railroad crossing which I noticed and stopped, but she almost didn’t notice me in enough time to the point of me bracing myself for a certain hit. Thank goodness she noticed me just in time. When our weather is bad, it’s best to keep our eyes on the road and both hands on our steering wheels.

A couple whom I sold a home to here last summer stopped to visit before I had to head off to an appointment. They moved here from the Seattle area and today announced that the home they sold last year which they considered a fixer-upper, just sold yesterday with multiple offers on it for over $900K. All I could say to them was, “I can’t even envision myself trying to service a debt like that along with keeping up on the taxes, insurance and maintenance.” One of their factors for moving here was to lower their cost of living. I did mention that this past winter has been something like I’ve not seen in decades, and not to worry about every winter being like this past one.

I do wish the powers that be in our City government would work all the harder at promoting Mason City and North Iowa in those many high cost metro areas around our Country. Who in the world would want to face retirement with such debt loads? I kiddingly said to them, “Maybe those buyers of your old home had to mortgage their children to afford it.”

My one-liner for tonight is: Being happy is far more important than anything else.

Corporate Monarchy

Corporate MonarchyThere’s one particular sale file I’ve been working on for the past two weeks that’s just about got me fit to be tied.  I’d say every year or two there’s at least one quirky transaction that becomes exceptionally stressful and time consuming, and it’s almost always with a listing of mine having been sold by another real estate agency.  The most memorable recent toxic transaction was with an out-of-town brokerage, and believe me, I’ll never forget the name of that horrible buyer.  I purposely saved a voice mail from that buyer just as a reminder of how downright cunningly evil some humans can be.

I got a good laugh out of a call today from a dear client of mine who rarely ever speaks ill of anyone. I’d nearly forgotten how funny it sounds whenever someone refers to another as “Bat shite crazy”.  Without a doubt, I’d say it’s been a good number of years since hearing that out of the mouth of another.  After my good laugh I couldn’t help but respond, “Yes, and there’s all the more of them flying around North Iowa.”

After placing a few calls today regarding the recent showings of Prairie Place on 1st, it sounds like there’s a great deal of interest building again.  The current residents have been exceptionally helpful with getting the word out about how wonderful it is to live there.  As I said before, I’m just hoping there’ll continue to be those good “fits” within their existing community.

The above photo is one I took of our rapidly deteriorating pavers that were recently installed which were a part of our Main Street Mason City project about 5 years ago.  It makes me very upset to see them each year crumbling all the more to where there’s no question in my mind they’ll have to be replaced more sooner than later.  And to think all those many thousands of dollars that we paid Country Landscape in Clear Lake to create something that was meant to last.  Since the sidewalk out in front of my office was part of it, I was keen to watch Country Landscape’s process of installing them.

The first thing I noticed which seemed to fall on deaf ears was my mentioning how porous those pavers appeared to be. Knowing how our climate’s freezing and thawing can wreck havoc on porous aggregates, I questioned one of the workers about it, and he dismissed me with our favorite, “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.”  Well, take a long walk up one side of the street and back down the other of Federal Avenue here in our Downtown, and you’ll see for yourselves what freezing, thawing, and above all the use of snow melt has done to those pavers in less than five years.  I have a great deal of cracking of them out front, but because I don’t use snow melt, they’re not as decomposed as they are outside other storefronts.  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised of those pavers were manufactured in China.

Speaking of China, I”m exceptionally happy that our President is ratcheting up on his placing of tariffs on goods from China.  Over these past months, I’ve been keen to look at everything I purchase, along with working all the harder at not buying “Made in China” products.  China is growing all the more powerful due to their government’s push on building an empire.  Whenever there’s a government controlled by one person who’s installed for life, becomes an opportunity it to State sponsor economic wars on other weaker sovereign nations.  What we are now seeing,  is China raising itself to its next level which is on the fast track of becoming a corporate monarchy which is now beginning to mirror Czar Putin’s circle of corporate oligarchs.

My one-liner for tonight which I find most appropriate is:  “An elite is inevitable.”

This 8th Day of April, 2018

This 8th Day of April, 2018The first and foremost job for me this morning was to drive to my office and get myself prepared for my scheduled playing of the organ and piano for the Sunday morning Service at St. Paul Lutheran Church here in Mason City.  I normally try to arrive there early enough so to run thru all their hymns and service music before congregants begin arriving.

The list of hymns that were given me last week didn’t contain even one I was familiar with, so I went over to their church office and made copies so I’d be able to learn them during my free time.   As chance would have it, there was one that even YouTube didn’t have as a video.  The only reason I look there on occasion, is that it helps me to be certain I’m playing a given piece up to tempo since most don’t have meter listed on their pages.

After attempting to play it a half dozen times, I grew frustrated, determined, dis-appointed, and even a bit angry with myself for not being able to get it to where it felt rhythmically comfortable.  Alas, after playing it about twenty times, I got it.  So this morning, I was pretty proud of myself for having learned it, and all was going to be good, but wouldn’t you know it, about 10 minutes before their Service started, I was informed that the difficult piece I spent so much time learning, was incorrectly given.  Instead of that one, there was another they wanted played.

One of the clergy gave me the number of what he wanted, so off I went to run thru it.  Never having heard that one as well,  my fear factor started burning within. Thank goodness, I was able to run thru it several times and believe it or not, it sounded just fine.  I think my not so perfect sight reading skills kicked into over-drive due to my being overly pressed for time.

After their Service was over, several from the congregation came upstairs to thank me for playing and mentioned how well all the music sounded.  I couldn’t help but reply, “Well, I got a good lesson in complacency today, because I didn’t think I had it in me to play something I’d never heard or played before, but found myself able to crack it within a ten minute or less time frame.”  I drove away reminding myself that it’s good for us all to be challenged on occasion because that’s what kicks us into gear to become all the better.  But on the flip side of my belief, is that when too many challenges are given, most will normally lose heart and walk away for good.

One of my clients wanted me to stop by a rental he owns so to give him some pointers on things he could improve to make it more rentable.  When I got there, he was busy cleaning oven racks from the kitchen stove.  I could tell he was not the least bit happy.  Looking at those racks, I couldn’t help but say, “Did your tenants think those racks were to be used like grills of an outdoor barbecue?”  Excluding a few raw words, he said,  “I’m finding all the more younger people placing frozen pizzas on these racks without using pizza stones or tins, and when they heat up, they drip down on racks like these and  get all the more baked on after continued mis-use.”  I couldn’t help but say, “The parents of those young ones should have their ears chewed on as well.”  Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if all the more have been raised by wolves.

Our predicted snowstorm arrived today at nearly the precise hour, and here we have well over 5 inches and it’s still snowing.  They say this is going to be our last, but we’ll see.  Remember the heavy snow we received in May about three years ago?  We’ve got quite the winter landscape on this 8th day of April, 2018.

My one-liner tonight is, “Action causes more trouble than thought.”