Category Archives: Story

Sagging Branches

Sagging BranchesOh what a kicking-back to winter we had today!  To top it all off, I had to take a necessary trip up to Northwood.  That wind was so strong, I had keep a tight grip on my steering wheel due to those gusts making my car want to cross the center line.  Oh well, I made it up there and back without much of a hitch.

While driving back, I decided to take a small detour and drive down a blacktop I’ve not been on for about five years.  The main reason I went, was to see an old farmstead one of my relatives lived on for too many years.  It appeared after the death of the remaining parent, nearly all signs of there ever being a home and buildings on that place were gone, with the exception of a machine shed that for some reason, still remains standing.

I was a little creeped out when seeing it still standing as likely some sort of silent sentinel of the past, but clearly remembering one of their young children was accidentally electrocuted while climbing around int that very building. Such sad thoughts came rolling into my memory while looking at it from afar.  To this day, even though I was likely only six or seven years old, I vividly remember being with my parents while in attendance of that child’s funeral.  For a youngster, it was a shocking event for me as I watched and listened to all those many people who were in attendance and crying their eyes out.

Some day, if I should cross paths with one of the children of those now buried relatives of mine, I’ll be sure to ask why they left that building standing, because if it were me, that would have been the first to get scraped off.   I suspect there were some who believed it should remain standing as a grim reminder of what happened, and continue on with their mindsets of guilt and blame.  I vaguely remember a set of my grandparents quietly speaking about that child’s death, along with their own naming and blaming of those who should have, or could have kept it from happening.

Most in the general public have no idea how dangerous it was to be living on those old “working” farms where there were plethoras of animals big and small.  You could easily have a foot broken by a cow’s step, you could get your fingers caught is a piece of machinery and get them either mangled or snapped off, or falling out of un-latched upper barn door from great heights, and even getting bitten or horned by one of the larger animals.  And lastly, an accidental fire capable of killing man and beast, along with either the dwelling or building housing them.

Yes, it’s surprising how farm children eventually learned to be more alert to the dangers lurking in barnyards.  Unfortunately, those lessons were usually learned the hard way after seeing nasty accidents happen to others.  For me, the absolute worst one I witnessed was when in a split second, seeing a man’s upper leg getting flayed open by a defective Skil saw that didn’t release it’s guard when it should have.  That was my granddaddy of an accident which afterwards triggered a few hellacious nightmares.

Thank goodness the overly-wet snow has stopped.  I always worry about the branches on our trees when seeing so much having accumulated over a short periods of time.  While driving home, I noticed a good number of their sagging branches.  It looks like we’re to get more if it tomorrow, so do stay safe and closer to home.

As Sharp as Nut Picks

As Sharp as Nut PicksIn spite of the strong wind, I’m hoping everyone has been enjoying the outdoors today with it being well above freezing.  Having noticed all the ice had melted at the curbside of my office, I got busy with getting all the sand and grit swept off the sidewalks.  I likely now have one of the cleanest in the Downtown.

I managed to make it to one of our City’s early church services this morning.  The sermon was a little flat, but we can’t always expect stellar sermons on a weekly basis considering we live in North Iowa.  Saying this now, reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my favorite pastors in the area.  His sermons are always off the cuff which I’ve always found enjoyable, but the delivery of his words make his sermons all the more meaningful. During one conversation with him, I said, “You do know you possess quite the ability to deliver very meaningful sermons, but why can’t other people of the cloth in our area at least attempt to be more like you?”  It  shocked me when he said, “Mr. Chodur, in these times, and above all out here in the hinterland, you just gotta accept the idea that you get what you get and live with it.”  At first it struck me as being a rather cynical remark, but after thinking about it, he’s absolutely right.  We get what we get, and just learn to live with it.

Late last night I happened to read an article about something that has always raised eyebrows whenever mentioned over these many years.  It shocked me to read that many of the hybrid and/or far-right leaning communities of faith are speaking about the rapture. For likely a very many hundreds of years, those ideas were dismissed as bordering on fanaticism.  Yes, the Book of Revelation speaks of it, but we all must remember that John’s writings were symbolic.  When in my late teens, I took several classes given by a religious scholar who centered his presentations on the Book of Revelation.

I’m afraid there are all the more child-like minds in the world who take those symbolic words contained within and create their own modern-day meanings.  I know it’s never a good idea to speak of religion with the general public, but I can’t help but say that anyone who takes biblical writings that’ve been translated numerous times to be the absolute word-for-word gospel truth, really must take a few lessons in what those underlying truths really are.  For me, and hopefully many others, the Bible should be used as a Divinely inspired general guide for becoming a better person, and that’s it.

I happened to be in a garage today that was taken over last Fall by a squirrel or two.  I couldn’t believe the number of walnut shells they’d strewn all over the floor.  Curious me picked up one and closely examined it.  Having never looked at the way they get at the nut meats, I was shocked to see how clever they are in getting them out.  The tooth marks on those hard shells was yet another reminder of how sharp their teeth are, as well as their visibly strong jaws.  Ouch!  I’d hate all the more to get bitten by one of them.

I brought a handful of those empty shells home for tonight’s photo.  When looking at them again, those vile creatures must have serrated tongues that are as sharp as nut picks.  How else do you think they get every morsel of those meats out those rock-hard shells?  Like I’ve said before, squirrels to me are nothing more than rats with bushy tails.

If they wouldn’t make such a mess when they’re eating, and clean up after themselves, and stay away from bird feeders, stop digging in flower and vegetable gardens, stop trying to get into attics of homes, garages, and buildings, I’d at least consider them weakly tolerable.

Get ready for the rain and snow tomorrow, and above all, stay safe.

Squeeze a Buffalo

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Every time I pick up a current events magazine, or read any of the international online news, I grow all the more concerned about the direction the governments of our world’s countries are moving.

With it being a little slow at my open house today which was likely due it being extra warm and sunny, I decided to take a peek at one of the recent editions of The Economist.  Its main article was about a socio-political powder keg that’s about ready to explode in the Congo.  Having not forgotten the last time that country went into civil war, I certainly remember that after the shedding of blood stopped, there were an estimated five million non-military people murdered.  Their troubles now, stems from their leader not willing to hold long-overdue elections.  His weak reasoning is because there are tensions in part of the country which is more than likely being exacerbated by his unwillingness to hold elections.  Kleptocracy seems to be the name of the game when it comes to ruling a country.

Africa is riddled with kleptocrats along with Europe, Asia, and the Americas.  Of course the big daddy of kleptocracy is Russia, and those in power seem hell-bent on getting every country possible infected with its form of government.  Perhaps the countries that are now following suit, are providing a sick form of justification for their own manipulations within Russia, or should we say, The New Soviet Union.  It’s all part of their “tribal” mentalities. It’s my belief the bear should be all the more focusing its attention on the ever-growing larger dragon living next door.

There’s no doubt in my mind, there is far more meddling in the affairs of other governments than most could possibly consider.  The token elections of those one-rule countries provide nothing more than a confirmation of what fear, power, and intimidation can do to keep their citizens quietly afraid of government reprisals.  Those who live in fear are forced to embrace what they know in their souls to be darkness.  And to think, it’s always about money, control, and power.

While visiting with a customer about this subject yesterday, I couldn’t help but say, “How could anyone be so evil to where they give a nod to kill innocent people–especially their own country’s children?”  No matter how much I try to understand their reasoning, I can’t begin to fathom having a conscience so corrupt.   I’ve heard and read of late where there’s the belief that democracy as we know it, is under siege throughout the world.  Unfortunately, I’m all the more believing it’s happening.

On the lighter and brighter side of my day.  While working on my little/big project this morning, I decided to do some really deep-dig cleaning under mopboards and quarter-rounds.  Since I do become a bit possessed when digging for dirt, I decided to use a thin but relatively stiff wire to get under the trim boards.

While poking away, something made a metal “clinking” sound, so I got down and looked to see what it was.  I suspected it was likely another penny, but when I finally got it out, I picked it up and knew immediately it was a nickel, but it was about as black as coal.

After wiping it off enough to see what it was, to my delight I discovered it was a Buffalo Nickel that was minted in 1916.  Wow!  What a find!  When I was young, I managed to find a few worn Buffalo nickels which were so well-used, one could barely make out their dates.  Today’s find must’ve been under there since shortly after 1916 due to its dis-use.

I brought it home and cleaned it up enough to take a photo of its front and back, which I’ve posted above.  When looking at it, I was reminded while in the state of being young and innocent, of something a few people used to say about others who were penny-pinching misers.  I remember someone saying once about a stingy old man that went, “He’s so tight, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s able to squeeze a Buffalo so hard that it would make it shite!” Keep in mind, that was a reference to a Buffalo Nickel.  Now remember, I’m not being naughty, but rather simply relaying what was once said by another.

After looking online, it appears my find is worth between fifteen and twenty dollars.  I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend.

White Shite Tonight

White Shite TonightBefore leaving on an appointment today to show a home, I thought it best to get there a few minutes earlier so to make sure the walks were shoveled and the lockbox working properly.  When I pulled up, sure enough, the walks and driveway weren’t shoveled, so I parked, got out and started walking up the driveway.  Oh Mercy!  That ice was wickedly slippery, so I went back down and got in my car and pulled up in front of the driveway so to hopefully keep the buyers from coming up it.

I walked up the not so slick sidewalk and got the house unlocked as well as turning on as many lights I could find.  But while doing that, I hadn’t realized the buyers had already arrived and were making their way in the direction of the driveway.  Before I got the front door opened, the husband had already slipped and nearly fallen.  I quickly called after them not to use the driveway because I’d nearly fallen myself.  The showing went well, but all the while, in the back of my mind I kept thinking about that ice-covered driveway.   We all managed to get back to our vehicles without falling, but I was just a wee bit angered with that home’s owners for not keeping their driveway and sidewalks more clear.

I was aghast when hearing the number of patients Mercy Hospital’s emergency room had admitted during a recent 48 hour period.  You can be sure a great number of them were ice-related falls.  Even today a dear client had mentioned how he’d fallen flat on his back while outdoors several days ago, and luckily didn’t land on concrete which certainly must’ve kept him from breaking any bones.

My public open house was an exceptional success considering the weather.  I thought for sure I’d be stuck there reading a magazine I’d taken with me just in case there’d be only a few if any in attendance.  There were at least three couples there who were closely looking the home over.  I mentioned to each and every one how I believed it to be the best buy in today’s market.  We’ll see what comes of it this next week.  Just for your information, the magazine I took with me was “The Economist” which as far as I’m concerned, is one of the best weekly magazines available for anyone wanting to be informed on a wide variety of current world events. That’s one subscription I’m happy to have ordered.

Before the weather started getting bad, I decided to make a quick run out-of-town to a church service.  The pastor gave one of the world’s shortest sermons so to get everyone back home before the roads got worse.  Afterwards, while walking down the sidewalk towards my car, I noticed someone’s massive male Pit Bull must’ve got loose and was randomly following people to their cars.  Just to look at that breed of dog causes me to cringe.  I kept saying in my mind, “Now don’t you start following me to my car Mr. Pit!”  Luckily he must’ve smelled something in the back yard of a home down the street, and there he remained until I got in my vehicle.  For me, the best view of a Pit Bull is seeing one in my rear view mirror while rapidly driving in the opposite direction.

If there’s one positive out-come of this winter when finally over, is that there’ll certainly be all the more people deciding it’s time to throw away their snow shovels and ice worries and get themselves safely situated in senior housing, and of course the best that’s available in North Iowa, is Prairie Place on 1st here in Mason City which still has 13 units available.  If I were one of them, I’d be getting one purchased now before there are fewer from which to choose come Spring.

Do take extra care with your driving tomorrow because it looks like we’re in for more  than a dusting of that white shite tonight, and it looks all the more wet and heavy too!

Absolute Laziness

Absolute LazinessYet another “Ground Hog Day” with this snow and ice.  I wasn’t a bit happy finding there was a combination of sleet and snow having fallen overnight.  It was more than a struggle getting it off the front sidewalk at my office today.  After the sun came around and warmed up the pavement enough to get it melting, I finally got it all off, and happy for that after hearing we’re supposed to get another larger dumping of snow tomorrow.

Please don’t forget about my public open house tomorrow that’s located at 1034 Park Lane here in Mason City.  I’ll be there from 1:00 – 3:00 PM, so do tell everyone because it really is a very well built home in a much sought after district of our City.  As far as I’m concerned, it should’ve been sold right out of the gates, but I have to remember it did come on the market during the Holidays along with our exceptionally cold weather, for sure hasn’t been the least bit helpful in getting it sold.

Another one of my listings sold today which came as no surprise to me simply because of its condition.  There’s no question in my mind it’s one of the very few homes on the market so close to being spotlessly clean and maintenance free.  The real bonus for its future owners, is that the sellers have taken great care in making sure all their home’s mechanicals were updated and in tip-top working condition.  Even the agent that sold it mentioned how spotless the home was when showing it.  I couldn’t help but saying, “Now you know why I was insistent that you and your buyers remove your shoes before viewing it.”  The sellers are happy now, and so am I.

With the official 1st day of Spring less than a month away, I’m hoping all of you who’ve been thinking about having a garden this year, begin making plans now.  Since we live in an area where our growing season is shorter, it’s best to get ready for starting your tomato and pepper seeds indoors so they’ll be able to provide you with more fruit before the frost arrives this coming Fall.  When growing vegetables on a much larger scale when young, we used to start tomatoes, peppers, onions, cabbage and broccoli in what’s called a cold frame.  I’m sure if you do your own research online as to what they are, along with their purpose, you’ll find it a simple, yet very effective way to start seedlings.  The real plus of doing the cold frame method, is that the plants are more accustomed to whatever your soil type is and less likely to go into transplant shock when planting.

Oh I have to share another story that was told me today by my favorite “storyteller”.  She proceeded to tell me about a neighbor of hers named Vera who lived across the road from her when she lived on an acreage many years ago.  Just one particular incident she mentioned about Vera, who by the way lived in a home that had absolutely no upkeep or repairs having been done for years.  Vera’s personal hygiene was near non-existent to where she rarely if every bathed, would not clean her home and whenever eating something packaged, she’d discard the packages and wrappers on the floor to where there were mounds of it thru-out her house. Oh, and the mentioning of mice and rats nearly sent me reeling.  One day, Vera call my friend to ask that she be taken to the hospital because of a severe bowel problem she was having.

Since my storyteller was a young mother at the time, she had to bring her pre-schooler with her before picking up Vera.  Out came Vera in her ragged clothes, and when she got in the car, she must’ve dosed herself up with the cheapest perfume so to mask her body odor.

All the way to the hospital she prayed that her child wouldn’t cry out, “Mommy.  Something in this car really stinks!”  She got her to the hospital where they cleaned her up, got her bowel problem corrected, and back home to her squalid living arrangements she was delivered.

With my storyteller’s ability to create visuals, I was not only seeing Vera’s environment, but also remembering others I’d encountered over the years.  I’m still unable to understand how some people choose to live their lives way they do in their home environments.  It must a combination of denial, self-punishment, and absolute laziness.  What do you think?

1853 Springview Drive

1853 Springview Drive-19The highlight of my day was taking a new listing located a 1853 Springview Drive here in Mason City.  The photo above is the exterior shot, but if you want to see all the rest of the others I took, click on the address and you’ll see for yourselves how absolutely gorgeous this home really is.  It’s about as clean and maintenance free as one could ever imagine.

First off, the kitchen/dining area to the back of the home offers abundant natural lighting and fabulous views of the outdoors due to there being no homes behind it.  I’ve always liked homes with that feature because it offers more privacy both outside and within.

The master bedroom has a 1/2 bath off, and all the windows were recently replaced by triple-pane thermals with a lifetime warranty on them.  All the mechanicals are up to date as well, along with there being a recently added 3/4 bath in the lower level.

The home could easily be considered a “legal” four bedroom if someone would add an egress window in the lower level since there’s a room already set up for guests down there.  I was surprised by the size of that room, along with its closets. I was surprised to see how close the 3/4 bath is to that guest room.  There’s also a very large rec room in the lower with a bar in the corner.

At the rear of the home there’s a nearly new deck and a charming gazebo. With the back yard being fenced, anyone with small children or dogs, won’t have to be looking at fence installation so to keep their loved ones contained.

Yes, this home is about as move-in ready as you’d ever expect, which always makes it nice when new buyers who usually have full-time jobs and busy lives.  I would consider it more a home “sanctuary” where one spends needed time to relax and rejuvenate.  I’ll wager it’s going to sell quickly.

Another interesting happening took place today.  The mail person delivered an abstract on a property which contained all the original hand-written entries going all the way back to 1854 when that parcel’s patent was issued. Every time I’m given the opportunity to read an abstract’s cursive entries, my thoughts are carried back to those times.

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Can you possibly imagine how much work it was in those days before typewriters?  Those poor stenographers must’ve been fit to be tied while trying to transcribe legal notes during very cold and very hot weather.  Just remember, there was no central heating, fans, or air conditioners.  And of course just think of the more formal clothing both men and women had to wear. There were no “Freedom Fridays” in those times, and it’s no wonder white shirts had collars that could be removed from their bodies.  I’m convinced those shirts were likely worn more than a day or two between washings, but their collars were likely washed, ironed, and starched on a daily basis.  Sounds like something that should be done in our times so to save our precious water and energy. Don’t you think?

The above photo is one of the sheets I found in that package which is an affidavit signed by an Iowa Notary Public. After adjusting my brain to reading 1891 cursive handwriting, I was able to read it clearly, but couldn’t make out the exact spelling of the last names.

It’s not so far in our future where our young won’t be able to read writing like this.  There’ll likely be specialist who’ll have to be paid to transcribe handwritten, soon to be “ancient” documents.  Just one more example of how our world is rapidly changing.

Half Empty

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Hopefully everyone has arrived safely where they needed to be the day after Christmas.

One can only imagine all the left-overs that were being re-invented for today’s meal and possibly a few more forward.  Some meats actually taste better twice warmed.  I’m sure you’ve all had left-over turkey and standing rib roast sandwiches the following days.  Just now thinking about standing rib roast and how long it’s been since I’ve had it, that or leg of lamb will likely be my meat of choice when our next major holiday arrives.

It was a struggle for me when preparing to leave for the office this morning with it being -12 degrees outside.  Oh how I do hate our weather when it gets so cold.  When it’s that cold, it has a freezing sting of a thousand mosquitos.  In spite of the sun shining brightly, just walking that 1/2 block to the Post Office around noon wasn’t the least bit pleasant.

Most of my day was spent paying year-end bills along with sending out correspondence.  As these last days of 2017 approach, I’m beginning to wonder where those previous twelve months have gone.  Yes, I did have a productive year, but still wondering what happened to the time.  I’m still convinced some entity, ever so secretly, stole Summer from us.  Perhaps 2018 will bring us an even earlier Spring and later Fall.

As I’d feared, the sale of my listing at 20 – 9th St. NE  unfortunately fell thru the cracks today because the selling Realtor wasn’t able to get his buyer fully financed.  It’s too bad because all their inspections were done along with the appraisal.  It was the first time in very many months I’ve had something like this happen with one of my listings.  If any of you know someone looking for an entry level 3 bedroom home priced below 40K, then this one is certainly at the top of the list in its price range.  The most upsetting thing about this failed sale, is that I would have likely had it sold to another interested buyer during those weeks it was tied up.  Oh well, we just have to pick up where we left off before that Realtor arrived with offer in hand.

One of my clients told me a funny story today about her growing puppy having suddenly discovered a full length mirror in her closet.  Sounds like her overly-curious canine believes there’s a usurper living in her closet waiting to take its place in her household.  Since that happening, her puppy continues to growl and bark whenever near her closet door.  I told her she should be a little wicked and take a piece of good smelling meat, let her puppy smell it and quickly walk into her closet, then eat it before walking out again.  For sure her animal will be all the more convinced she’s hiding another who’s not only in competition for affection, but now for food!  Too funny!

I’m sure many of you over the years have noticed “Boxing Day” marked on certain calendars.  Well, it all began with the British aristocracy who had to be waited on hand and foot on Christmas Day, so therefore they decided they’d give their servants the following day off while rewarding them with bonuses, boxes of left-over food, and other items of thankfulness.  Sounds like the makings of another Thomas Hardy novel doesn’t it?

In these times, Boxing Day has been transformed into something similar to Black Friday here in the States.  It’s another day off where all the major retailers in Canada and Great Britain cut prices so to move their after Christmas inventories.  It looks like the Crown and her subject Canada now have two major shopping days–Black Friday and Boxing Day.

Once again, please put the word out to friends, co-workers, and relatives that Holtz Realty is on a burn to get 20 – 9th St. NE re-sold in a “yesterday” fashion.  And do stay warm during these blistering cold days and nights!

By the way, is my wintery photo I’ve posted tonight of our current Moon being one you’d call a half full Moon, or a half empty Moon?  Gotcha!