Nose Reacquainted With Grindstone / Happy New Year!

Where DID all the time go?

Was it just me, or did everybody’s 2016 year end come racing into 2017 like its feet were on fire and its pants were catching?!  All of of sudden, here it is the middle of January — what?!  Where did all the time go?

We had a wonderful if a bit frantic holiday here in Austin.  We had family in from Seattle and France for lengthy stays, and seemingly some sort of social event every other night!  It was fun and chaotic, with lots of friends and family around, great food, plenty of wine, Christmas lights, cookies galore, presents, curiously-stuffed stockings, and best of all, lots of laughter.

Oh, and my pretty tree!  We spent a few happy hours drinking eggnog and listening to French rap while decorating the tree.  Because, you know, nothing says Christmas like MC Solaar.

christmas-tree-16

But now that the holidays have passed, the tree is down and all the Christmas lights, associated decor and Christmas baking accouterments have been put away — and my husband’s and my own early-January birthdays have gone likewise by — it’s finally time to get back to work!  I’ve been particularly slow this year to ramp back up to full speed, but my grind is now firmly planted on the old nose-stone and it’s off to the races!

Happy New Year, y’all!

Giving Back/Small Kindnesses

A lovely reminder that kindness is not lost

This past weekend I had the privilege of volunteering at the Austin Junior League’s Coats for Kids drive, which is an annual event designed to get warm coats to kids in need of them whose families can’t necessarily afford to buy them.  Traditionally, we don’t have a lot of cold weather here in Central Texas, but for the 6 weeks or so that we do, we really do!  We are all about weather extremes in our neck of the woods!

For years JB Goodwin Realtors (where I happily work) has been a big participant in this charity event, donating coats, time, and money.  And although I’ve donated coats in the past, this was the first year that I’ve also been part of the on-site crew helping families “shop” for coats.

It was a rewarding experience, as you might imagine.  It can be a lot of work: the coats are for ages 0 – 18, so there is an endless variety of sizes and styles to sort through.  But everybody is grateful: the parents are thrilled and the kids are so excited to be getting a new coat.  And it’s wonderful for the volunteers too.  It is honestly humbling to be part of an event where you can really connect with people, even for a short time.  I’ve been very blessed; it was a great feeling to be able to give back to those in the community less fortunate, as cliché as that might sound.

Of all the lovely, human moments throughout the day there was one in particular that stood out for me.  I had a Muslim family I was paired with to help search the racks for coats for their three boys.  The boys — aged 10, 11 and 13 — were very friendly and polite, but the oldest boy, Muhammad by name, I was especially taken with.  His manner was quite sweet, and he was outgoing and chatty.  He found a coat he liked in short order, then turned his attention to his brothers.  He was great with the two younger boys, offering fashion advice as well prompting them to search for sizes they wouldn’t grow out of too soon.  He was very mature for his age (though he did at one point put the middle brother in a playful headlock when the boy suggested he had stinky armpits, demonstrating he still also knew how to just be a 13-year old boy).

While the boys were trying on various coats, their mother happened to see a very nice long coat that looked to be her size.  She just sort of idly tried it on and it actually fit her beautifully.  She seemed almost surprised by how nice it looked on her.  She asked me if there was any way she could get the coat for herself and I unfortunately had to tell her no, as we could only give them the 3 coats they were allotted.  She was gracious and said of course she understood, but I couldn’t help but see that she was a bit disappointed.

Muhammad noticed as well.  So when he thought his mother was out of earshot he came up to me and asked if he could give back his coat so that she could keep the one she had tried on.  Before I could even answer — I was honestly gobsmacked for a moment — his mother, employing her preternaturally keen mom ears, immediately rushed over and said, “No, baby.  I won’t let you do that.  But thank you.”  In that moment her look said everything about how touched she was, and how proud of her boy.

Like his mother, I was also touched by the kind and selfless gesture of this young man.  It was a small thing, I guess, but also huge.  And for me it was a lovely reminder that kindness is not lost, and that the desire to give back and to make someone else’s day a little brighter (or a little warmer, in this case) isn’t just limited to those with the apparent means to do so.

 

 

Sign of the Times

That 250-count check order is way more than a lifetime supply now

Here’s something kinda startling I’ve recently noticed about younger buyers (the dread Millennials!): they don’t have checks for their checking accounts.

Like, none.  As in they never ordered them from the get-go.

I have to believe I’m not alone in my wonderment here, that for folks from my generation it just seems weird to NOT have checks for your checking account.  Even as we’ve switched to paying all our bills online and using our debit cards for virtually everything else.

While the need for checks has dwindled and all but died away, I still always have checks in my desk drawer for the 1-2 of them I might write a year.  (It’s funny how that 250-count check order — the minimum — is way more than a lifetime supply now!)  I keep those checks because…well, by God, it’s a CHECKING ACCOUNT!

But Millennials don’t, or at least the ones I’ve been in contact with recently don’t.  (Discovery made upon requesting earnest money from a couple of different Millennial buyers.)

My interior voice:  Wait — you have to get a money order?!  You don’t have any checks?! *Slaps interior forehead*

Truth be told, this does actually make sense to me.  Why waste money and trees for something you will literally never use.  So I get it, even if it does make me feel a wee bit antiquated.  But this does also beg the question: do Millenials know how to write out a check, or is that a skill which has died out like cursive handwriting and punctuation?  They’d probably struggle with a rotary phone too.  I’m mildly curious (and perhaps a wee bit nostalgic).

Ah, the times they are a changin’…

Lessons Learned at Open House

“Um…no. There should only be chocolate chip.”

At my open house over the weekend a delightful family came through — mom, dad, and two ridiculously cute little blonde, curly-headed girls.

They were all very friendly and chatty, and seemed to love the house.  The girls especially, who were quite taken with the outdoor spiral staircase leading to the upstairs lanai.  Seriously, those girls must have made at least 10 trips up and down, giggling all the while!  (Ah, to be possessed again of youthful knees and boundless energy that make one actually relish repeated stair-climbing, and not just in an attempt to combat a sagging posterior!)

The girls also loved the sunken living room, upstairs laundry chute, the brass dinner bell affixed to the kitchen wall (which only got about 4 loud clangs before mom stepped in with the “Okay, that’s plenty, honey!” directive) as well as the now non-functioning but still awesome intercom feature, with AM/FM radio options. (The house was built in the 1970s, if you hadn’t already figured that out.)

Yes, had the girls been granted sole decision making authority, I feel fairly confident I would have gotten them under contract on the spot.  Or at least I would have until my MASSIVE FAUX PAS was discovered on the cookie tray, which then called into question my judgement.

As delighted little eyes were taking in and little hands were hovering over the temptingly arranged tray, the eldest daughter, Molly, squealed in delightful anticipation of what she thought were fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies…only to have her little hopes dashed by my announcement that those were actually oatmeal raisin cookies.

Her hand paused mid-air, her features composed themselves into a mask of incredulity/dejection as she asked politely but still plaintively, “They’re NOT chocolate chip?!”

Me: “Oh no — sorry, sweetheart! You don’t like oatmeal raisin cookies?  Well, what about these ginger chewies?  I thought everybody would like those!”

Molly: “Um…no.  There should only be chocolate chip.”

Oops.  My bad.

With this pronouncement she gave me a polite smile to let let me know we were still friends, but I could see in her eyes her estimation of me had gone down substantially.  It was plain to see my lack of discernment about what should properly go on a cookie tray and what should not didn’t sit well with her.

So, lesson learned.  I am holding the same house open again this coming weekend and you better believe there will be chocolate chip cookies — and nothing but! — on that cookie tray.

You can thank Molly for that.

Austin by Night

Out after dark

My friend Glen, who is an amazing photographer and a bit of a night owl, sent me some really beautiful nighttime shots he took around the city that I have to share.

So without further ado…

Check out this shot of the Austin skyline.  It was taken on the shores of Town Lake, with the South 1st Street Bridge in the near distance.  I love the lights, and the color of the sky:

This is our State Capitol building in downtown Austin:

And one of my all time favorites is this shot of the statue of Austin’s own musical legend Stevie Ray Vaughn (may he rest in peace) at Auditorium Shores on Town Lake:

And there’s this one, highlighting some of the more colorful places on 6th Street, a part of downtown Austin known for its drinking establishments and live music venues as well as body piercing/tattoo shops, which can be an often under-appreciated side effect of  a night of serious drinking:

And finally, a local landmark known for its hipster (way before it was hip) style, phallic-shaped neon sign, and its amusing and oft-changing readerboard — the Austin Motel on South Congress:

Austin is an extremely photogenic city.  It’s a cityscape photographer’s dream, especially when viewed during the hours when most folks are still tucked away at home in their jammies.

I love seeing my city in a way I almost never do, and I hope y’all enjoyed as well.  Thanks, Glen!

Photography credits:
Glen Thuncher
Thuncher Photography

Veterans Day

Our humble thanks

November 11 is the day we honor the US armed forces for their military service.  Considering that we currently have about 1.4 million active service members serving in the five branches of the military — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard — out of a population of around 324.9 million (at this writing), I am especially grateful to the very small fraction of people who are shouldering the burden of our national security.

So… to all our military members, active or retired, let me share my heartfelt thanks to you for all that you do, and all that you sacrifice. (Also, a shout out to the military family members who have experienced or continue to live with the unique burdens of carrying on a quasi-normal life while your loved ones are off doing their duty.  I know that ain’t easy.)  We owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.

A few things for veterans around Austin, in no particular order:

Veterans Day Deals & Freebies

Austin Veterans Day Parade

Veterans Day Giving Back Programs

Veterans Services in Travis County

Also, not in Austin but a really cool place to check out even if only online:   the Veterans Memorial in Anthem, Arizona.  It features 5 staggered-size pillars with ellipses (representing the 5 military branches) which, at precisely 11:11 am each Veterans Day, the sun’s rays will pass through “to form a perfect solar spotlight over a mosaic of The Great Seal of the United States.”  Cool, right?  It’s some amazing engineering, and quite lovely to behold!  You can watch a time lapse of it it here if you can’t get out to see it in person.

A final note, for any active or retired military who are considering buying a home and would like information on VA loans, please feel free contact me.  I work with an excellent team of folks at Premier Nationwide Lending; they are extremely knowledgeable and caring, and have programs designed for service personnel and their unique situations.  Together we’d love to work with you to get you and your family into a new home — or if nothing else, a chance to say thank you in person.

Happy Veterans Day!

thank-you-veterans

Democracy/Armageddon

“What’s that aboot, eh?”

So…finally…the ELECTION is TOMORROW!!

And depending on how it turns out, I’m expecting that at least some of you might just decide to make good on that threat to pack up and leave the country!

If you fall in that category and need to sell your home in a big fat hurry, no need to fret:  just call me, your friendly neighborhood Realtor.  We’ll get that thing on the market lickety-split and you can start packing your wooly socks and practice saying, “What’s that aboot, eh?”

🙂

i-voted