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Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category

I’m an observant person. I notice things around me. Recently I was in a small town to the west of Minneapolis. I saw two homes that have what I refer to as “exterior trimming”. It’s along the vein of tree trimming during the Christmas holiday in that it’s decorative. Some might say these are whimsical or displaying someone’s personality. They caught my eye and made me wonder about the owners and their reasoning for displaying these items, particularly the mirror and its placement above the garage.

A mirror above a garage

A mirror above a garage

Exterior trimming

Exterior trimming

No doubt my eyes will be on the lookout for more of these unusual trimmings. Does your home have any atypical exterior trim?

 

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Magnolia Cottage

I saw this sign on the front of a house during one of my travels. It was a charming house. A white brick exterior with black wood shutters, window boxes and front door. The shutters featured a black iron curlicue along the bottom, detailing that stood out against the white background.

Magnolia Cottage Window

A white picket fence wrapped around the house, and the gate opened onto a gently curving flagstone walking path that led to the front door.  A mix of green shrubbery sat along the foundation of the house. Everything was neat and tidy and appealing.

Magnolia Cottage Ext

Many of the homes on Captiva Island have names. I always take pleasure in reading what people have chosen to name their homes. Unfortunately, you rarely see a lot of the homes on Captiva due to the long driveways and tremendous tropical growth. The homes are well hidden from the road.

The signs are all on the road. Each one is individually created. I often wonder what the homes are like, and what the owners are like. Does the sign personality mirror the house and occupants?  Does the name say something about one occupant and the artwork about another? Who came up with the name? Do owners who buy these named homes keep the names or create a new one or pull the sign up out of the ground and go without? One thing I know. Of the homes that had been named and could be seen, all were well-kept and maintained. It makes me think there is something in a name: a sense of pride, a little more love, an embracing of home as part of the family.

Have you named your home? I’d love to hear the name and what it means to you. In the meantime, I’m going to think about a name for my own home. Stay tuned.

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Photo of the Day
May 11, 2012

This was a fun way to start my day last Friday. I drove up next to this antique car with the penny-farthing on the back. The car was perhaps a Model A or a Model T. I positioned myself behind it once the road went to two-lanes. At that point, I remembered I had my cell phone and snapped a few photos. I loved seeing this car and bike and traveling down the road with it. I only wish I’d had my other camera with the zoom lens. Happy Friday everyone!

Note: Click on the photo to see it larger.

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Photo of the Day
March 18, 2011

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.
~Ivy Baker Priest

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Photo of the Day: Dream

February 6, 2011

Lately I have been talking with people who are expressing feeling stuck, uninspired, unmotivated, unable to focus, and generally feeling a bit off from their normal selves. They are in a state of unease and/or depression due to these feelings.

Perhaps it is good to realize that all things are temporary. The universe and we inhabitants are always in a state of flux and change. Your life will be different in the future–different in a minute, an hour, a month, a year, and all other future time frames. If you’re experiencing some of the feelings described above, consider the fact that today, now, is one brief moment in a lifetime. Focus on what you want. Take a moment to dream and be inspired.

Here then, some inspirational quotes on dreams to start the week:

Dream and give yourself permission to envision a You that you choose to be.
–Joy Page

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
–Harriet Tubman

I tell people I’m too stupid to know what’s impossible. I have ridiculously large dreams, and half the time they come true.
–Debi Thomas

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.
–Henry David Thoreau

If you take responsibility for yourself you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams.
–Les Brown

No one should negotiate their dreams. Dreams must be free to fly high. No government, no legislature, has a right to limit your dreams. You should never agree to surrender your dreams.
–Jesse Jackson

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.
–Gloria Steinem

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
–Eleanor Roosevelt

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.
–Sarah Ban Breathnach

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.
–Anatole France

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What Are They Thinking?

What would be your caption for this photo?

Pets bring great energy to a home. They are always happy to see their owners (and sometimes everybody else who comes to visit!), gladly follow you around from room to room so you’ll never be alone (or is it that they won’t be alone?), come with their own amusing set of antics which will make you smile and laugh, watch over the house and it’s occupants, play with you, snuggle with you, and provide unconditional love every day of the year. They’re definitely good people–er, pets.

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This post is courtesy of one of the lenders I utilize, Kate Wilson, of Fairway Independent Mortgage. She and her team work with all buyers and are especially knowledgeable about first-time buyer programs.
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Guest Author: Kate Wilson of Fairway Independent Mortgage

We have a magazine rack for our clients in our lobby. I was really hesitant to put out the September 6th edition of Time Magazine because the front cover read: Rethinking Homeownership: Why Owning a Home May no Longer Make Economic Sense.
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I can think of a lot of things that don’t make much economic sense but I sure wouldn’t put buying a house in that category. I have some pretty strong convictions about why homeownership is important and a lot of them start with common sense. I take the long-term view:
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There are tax advantages to homeownership that you don’t get when you rent. Once you have a fixed rate mortgage, the principal and interest payment will not change over time. Your rent will and you have no control over just how much those rent increases might be. Both the interest and the property taxes are deductible but only your landlord gets to deduct them when you rent.
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At the end of the day, a house is a forced savings account. If you pay all of the payments, at the end of the loan term, you own the asset. You can save yourself a lot of interest and get there faster by making one extra Principal and Interest Payment a year. It’ll take about 7 years off of a 30 year loan. If you pay rent for 30 years, your landlord will own the asset and use it to pay for his Long Term Care, not yours.
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Your mortgage should not outlive your retirement age even if you’re buying up. Mortgages come in terms of 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years. Consider this: If you’re buying up, keep your mortgage in sync with your overall financial plan and objectives. If you’re considering a move, take the age you want to retire and subtract from it your current age and see how much you’ll qualify for using that amortization period. There’s no prepayment penalty for first mortgages these days so even if you take out a 30-year mortgage to protect against a ‘what if’ scenario, figure out how much extra principal it takes to repay it according to your retirement timeline and just do it.
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Home equity lines of credit for vacations or the purchase of cars are a bad idea. You’ll be paying for that vacation long after the memories have faded. The car started to depreciate the minute you drove it off the lot and you’ll be paying for the old one even after it’s eligible for vintage plates.  In the meantime, you will probably have to buy another car and pay for it while you’re still paying for the trade in.
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The most common sense reason I can think of for homeownership has nothing to do with it making economic sense. When you own your home, you are free to make it fit your lifestyle and a reflection of who you are. Landlords call such changes ‘damages’ and keep your deposit or kick you out. If the landlord decides to sell and you have to move, you can lose years of accumulated emotional net worth.

Other than graduating from college, having my kids, and marrying my sweetheart, I can’t think of a better decision I’ve made in my life than becoming a home owner. Your thoughts?

Kate Wilson

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I agree with what Kate has written here which is why I asked her if she was agreeable to my posting her thoughts here. We’d both be interested to know your thoughts. Share them by adding a comment below. (The typeface color for Leave a Comment is green so it doesn’t stand out immediately but it’s at the end of the list of tag words at the bottom of this entry.)

Learn more about Kate Wilson and her team here: www.katewilson.com

Kate Walsh
REALTOR®
Lakes Area Realty
612.220.3309
info@designhouse9.com
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What signs are you seeing these days?

These signs were all seen in one afternoon in Southwest Minneapolis.

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A sign of bench preservation.

An unusual sign above the garage door.
A safety sign to the side of the garage door.

A request for mutual harmony among people and nations.

A follow-up statement to the Peace sign (located in the same garden).

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H E A V E N ~ O N ~ E A R T H

Today I came across a blog with a writer’s workshop. Instructions:

Post a picture and a description that fits into this quote for you:
“How far to heaven? Just open your eyes and look. You are in heaven” -Shankar

I find heavenly people, places and more all around me each day. Still, one place came to mind for me when I read about this workshop exercise. Oahu. More specifically, The Byodi-In Temple at the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. The photo above shows the temple, set amidst the trees and hills to the side and the mountain to the back. Water flows in front of the temple.  This is an ideal setting in Feng Shui. The mountain at the back and the hills to the sides represent protection. The water in front brings prosperity and abundance. I felt an incredible peace here.

The Magnificent Byodo-In Temple translates to “Temple of Equality — not to discriminate” and is home to Amida, a golden Buddha unique to the entire world.

This Buddha is thought to be the largest figure carved since ancient times. It towers more than 18 feet and is an original work of art carved by the famous Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui.

The Bell House, above, contains a five-foot high, three-ton brass bell called bon-sho (sacred bell). It closely resembles the bell hanging in an identical Bell House at the Uji Byodo-In. The tone of the bell sounds a message of deep calm and peace and is said to cleanse the mind of evil and temptation. The resonant sound of the bell travels for some distance so one hears it while walking through the temple and along the grounds. The bell is customarily rung before one enters the temple to spread the eternal teachings of Buddha. I made a short video of the bell being rung when I visited and I listen to it with regularity.

The Byodo-In was built entirely without nails and is a scale replica of a temple at Uji Japan that was constructed over 900 years ago. It is built to represent the mystical phoenix with its wings upheld by pillars of stone. Folklore tells of the phoenix arising from the ashes to reflect promises of hope and renewal. Isn’t that a heavenly thought?
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Architectural example of building with no nails.

This is the view from inside the temple with the water in front.

This is a meditation space on the grounds.

A view from the meditation area.

This, then, was one experience I had of heaven on earth.
It was all too short a visit. I’d return in a heartbeat.

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More on the Writer’s Workshop:

Mama's Losin' It

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Bastille Day holds a special place in my heart. It was on Bastille Day in 1955 that my older brother was born. He loved celebrating Bastille Day on his birthday. And why not? Our family loves the French people, the country, the French food and wine, the culture, the history, the architecture, the gardens, the monuments, and the French way of life. Amour de la vie Française!

My brother was a photographer. He spent time in Europe learning the craft and continued to enjoy it throughout his life. Photography and Bastille Day celebrations were both passions for him.

I almost missed seeing the sky tonight. I spontaneously ventured outside at 9:00 p.m. to run an errand. The evening sky was ethereal and I thought of my brother. Perhaps, I thought, he is looking down upon our family, providing a brilliant evening sky to let us know he’s doing fine.

There is a poem that has brought me comfort in times of death. It’s often attributed to Mary Elizabeth Frye although the origin has been disputed over the years.  Abigail Van Buren, the newspaper columnist known as Dear Abby, confirmed Frye’s authorship after researching the subject. There is more than one version of this poem floating around on cards and the internet. I share this one, the first version I read:

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

—Mary Elizabeth Frye

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Rest in peace, Richard. See you on the other side someday.

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St. Anthony Parkway Bridge in Northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota

St. Anthony Parkway Bridge

I imagine that plenty of people would look at this bridge and see nothing very attractive. I invite you to drive, walk or bike over it and see if your perception of it changes. I crossed over it earlier this evening and was immediately struck by its design and its rustic, artistic beauty. I admit that the visually historic aspect also brought me delight. Yes, I can be a sucker for old stuff. And for preserving parts of our architectural heritage.

This bridge is a five-span, Warren through truss bridge measuring 533.6 feet in length. It was built in 1925 and passes over 24 tracks of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Rail yard. The bridge currently provides one lane of traffic in each direction and a sidewalk on the south side.

While I was photographing the bridge, I saw a gentleman standing on the sidewalk admiring the view of the trains, the tracks and the downtown skyline in the distance. I wonder if he is aware of the future of this bridge. Is he enjoying it while he can?

At this time, it appears to be nearly the end of the road for this bridge. A new bridge, known as the North Town Bridge, is slated to be built in its place during 2011-2012. The construction project for the new bridge will also include approach roadways (St. Anthony Parkway, California St NE and possibly Main St NE) and separate bike lanes.

The current bridge has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It’s also part of the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board “Grand Rounds—National Scenic Byway”. Should this bridge be placed on the National Register of Historic Places so that it can become a permanent part of the National Scenic Byway? Is this a bridge you’d enjoy biking and walking over as part of your trip around the cities?

Should this bridge be saved or replaced?

I’d love to know your thoughts.
Feel free to share them by clicking on Leave a Comment below.
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Or take the poll:

 


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More on biking, the scenic Grand Rounds, and things to do and see in the Twin Cities:

Soak up the scenery on the beautiful Grand Rounds—Biking in Minneapolis

Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway Home Page—MinneapolisParks.org

National Scenic Byways Program—Grand Rounds Scenic Byway Information

 

List of Truss Types

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Rainbow at Day's End 2

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Garage sales are both opportunities to make money and to find a bargain and/or a bibelot. A bibelot is defined as “a small object of curiosity, beauty, or rarity”. Here is one of my garage sale bibelot finds:
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Astor Paris Tray

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The color and glazing on this small tray is really beautiful. There is a French name stamped on the backside, leading me to believe its first home was Paris, France. Perhaps there was a hotel named Astor at one time in the “City of Light” and this tray formerly resided there.

Many Parisians live in charming yet modest apartments with small spaces and few closets. They often don’t have room for a lot of stuff and pare down to the essentials and a few bibelots and antiques. Still, if a person finds a treasure at a garage sale, flea market, or antique shop, he or she will likely find room for it.

Here’s another example of someone else’s cast-off that became one of my finds. I treasure these “coins” for their Feng Shui symbolism, detailing and colors.
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More unusual pieces found at a garage sale.

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Here in America we have plenty of big homes and lots of stuff. Garage sales can be a great way to get rid of clutter — and earn a little extra cash — anytime but especially before you sell your home. Getting rid of clutter is one part of staging a home. Just make sure the timing is right.

Conducting a garage sale takes a lot of time and energy. These sales can take on a life of their own, and it might not be the best use of your energy right before putting your home on the market. If you’re planning a garage sale at your home, on your block or in your neighborhood, use these tips for a successful sale:

1. Don’t wait until the last minute. You don’t want to be scrambling to hold a garage sale the week before an open house. Depending on how long you’ve lived in the home and how much stuff you have to sell, planning a garage sale can demand a lot of time and energy.

2. Get a permit. Most municipalities will require you to obtain a special permit or license in order to hold a garage sale. The permits are often free or very inexpensive, but still require you to register with the city.

3. See if neighbors want to join in. You can turn your garage sale into a block-wide event and lure more shoppers if you team up with neighbors. However, a permit may be necessary for each home owner, even if it’s a group event.

4. Schedule the sale. Sales on Saturdays and Sundays will generate the most traffic, especially if the weather cooperates. Start the sale early, 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. is best, and be prepared for early birds.

5. Advertise. Place an ad in free classified papers and Web sites, and in your local newspapers. Include the dates, time, and address. Let the public know if certain types of items will be sold, such as baby clothes, furniture, or weightlifting equipment. On the day of the sale, balloons and signs with prominent arrows will help to grab the attention of passersby.

6. Price your goods. Lay out everything that you plan to sell, and attach prices with removable stickers. Remember, garage sales are supposed to be bargains, so try to be objective as you set prices. Assign simple prices to your goods: 50 cents, 3 for $1, $5, $10, etc.

7. If it’s really junk, don’t sell it. Decide what’s worth selling and what’s not. If it’s really garbage, then throw it away. Broken appliances, for example, should be tossed. (Know where a nearby electrical outlet is, in case a customer wants to make sure something works.)

8. Check for mistakes. Make sure that items you want to keep don’t accidentally end up in the garage sale pile.

9. Create an organized display. Lay out your items by category, and display neatly so customers don’t have to dig through boxes.

10. Stock up on bags and newspapers. People who buy many small items will appreciate a bag to carry their goods. Newspapers are handy for wrapping fragile items.

11. Manage your money. Make a trip to the bank to get ample change for your cash box. Throughout the sale, keep a close eye on your cash; never leave the cash box unattended. It’s smart to have one person who manages the money throughout the day, keeping a tally of what was purchased and for how much. Keep a calculator nearby.

12. Prepare for your home sale. Donate the remaining stuff or sell it to a resale shop. Now that all of your clutter is cleared out, it’s time to focus on preparing your house for a successful sale!

Download this list of tips here:  12 Tips on How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale

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Bonus Tip: Consider having a refreshment available for your visitors. If you have children, they could set up their own money-making enterprise with a lemonade stand. People enjoying a cool drink are more likely to linger at your sale and find things they might otherwise have overlooked. Here’s a post on how to make your own fresh lemonade:

Cool Lemonade for a Hot Day
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Kate Walsh, Realtor
Lakes Area Realty
612.220.3309

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Where there’s art, there’s beauty.

Where there’s beauty, there’s contemplation.
Where there’s contemplation, there’s inner knowing.
—Kate Walsh

"Contemplation Man"

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Sunday morning seems quieter than the other days of the week. Perhaps it’s all the sipping of coffee and tea and reading the Sunday papers that creates this peaceful tranquility that extends beyond daybreak.

Here’s a man who finds time to contemplate each and every day, Sunday and otherwise. There’s something calming about seeing him, sitting perched up above the stone retaining walls in a grove of trees. What are you contemplating today? What inner knowing is taking place for you?

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Minneapolis sculpture is of a man sitting in quiet contemplation.

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“The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why.”
— Albert Einstein

“That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the most elevating and the most intense, is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the beautiful.” —Edgar Allan Poe

“Art is contemplation. It is the pleasure of the mind which searches into nature and which there divines the spirit of which nature herself is animated.” —Auguste Rodin

“Contemplation seems to be about the only luxury that costs nothing.” —Dodie Smith

“I feel like I’m stepping into a place of spiritual contemplation every time I enter a studio; it’s always had a certain magic to me that has never worn off with familiarity.” —David Knopfler

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These two photos were taken within seconds of one another.

Blue Bike

Earlier today I was out looking at a couple of condos in Wayzata. Afterwards, I walked near this shop. The blue bike caught my attention. It’s old-fashioned styling seemed to fit in perfectly with the vintage shop. The blue was a welcome splash of color in an otherwise rainy and overcast day.

Blue Bike and Energy

I used my cell phone camera to take these shots. I find the blurred half of this photo rather intriguing. Did I move while taking the picture? Only half the photograph is blurred. If I moved, shouldn’t the entire photo be blurry? It makes me think of sci-fi and action movies. What just went by at high-speed?

In the study of Feng Shui, we discuss that everything is energy. The right half of the photo appears to have a stronger energy field than the left side. What else could have been in the space while I was there? Hmm…

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Let’s declare Wednesday “Bridge Day”

Wednesday. This is the day people refer to as “hump day”. It’s the middle of the work week. Two days already behind and two days to go before another weekend. We in real estate don’t think of our week this way since we often work on weekends as well as during the week.

I recently viewed a photo of a bridge that took me to another place, mentally if not physically. As I looked at other photos of bridges, I found myself having a different reaction and experience to each one.

I’m posting some of them here for your pleasure. For all of you working today, Wednesday, and thinking about your upcoming weekend, I say enjoy this virtual trip around the world. Use the comment section below to let others know what reaction and/or experience you have from seeing these images.

Hump day is thought about as something to get over or beyond, a challenge, and another day of struggle before the slide into the weekend and its freedom from work and fun. I now like to think of Wednesday as “Bridge Day”.  No challenge, no struggle–simply a picturesque means of getting from one place to another with infinite ways of enjoying the journey.

Bike trail with covered bridge

I’d love to be riding a bike along this trail. How about you? Would you also be riding a bike? Maybe a horse. Walking or running perhaps? You decide.
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Rome

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Charles Bridge in Prague

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Chilkoot Bridge

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Where are you now?

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Where does your mind go when you view this scene?

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Allerford

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Avignon, France

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Photos courtesy of http://www.morguefile.com

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