Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. I think this was the best one ever. It’s the morning after and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my 81 year old father and his new iPod. There was some anxiety in the family over whether or not Dad would accept the iPod; he can be resistant to new technology (can’t we all). But he has taken to this like a fish out of water; says he’ll never again be without his iPod. He’s just begun to figure out all the ways he can use it.

Dad with his new iPod

Dad with his new iPod

His first thought was that it would be great on his walks. Then he figured out it would be great on his pontoon boat. Dad lives on the Kankakee River in Illinois and in the summer he takes the boat out almost every day. Sometimes he sits out on the water until late in the evening, just drifting along and fishing; he says the only thing the boat is missing is music and now that problem is solved. I think I’ve even convinced him that he should get a Transpod for the car.

One of my favorite things to do is to get Dad talking about the past. Normally that’s hard to do, but for some reason the iPod got him going. First he was aggravated:

“How long have these iPods been around?” he asked.

“I don’t know, maybe four or five years. Why?” I said. Read More

It’s the time of the year for family gatherings and as usual when our clan gathers, there’s been a toilet crisis. My sister, Linda, her husband, Steve, their daughters, Tori and Gina, plus Gina’s fiance, Tony, are here at Dad’s house. The bunch arrived at noon and within the hour Dad’s toilet was plugged up. This is not uncommon in our family; the last time Steve and Linda visited me in the Outer Banks, MY toilets stopped working. I never had a problem with my plumbing until Steve arrived. But apparently, this is something that has happened before because he was able to fix the problem in no time. A week later, as they were departing, Steve handed me a large gift-wrapped package: a plunger. Hmmmm.

No one is taking responsibility for Dad’s plumbing woes today but there is a lot of finger-pointing going on.

“It wasn’t me,” said Linda, “I purposely used VERY little paper, probably 4 squares.”

“Not me”, added Steve. “I only went number one.”

“Well, who else was in there?” I asked.

“Gina was in there right after me,” said Steve.

…frantic search for Gina…finally found her in the upstairs bedroom…confrontation about her recent bathroom use… Read More

It’s something about being around my family. One minute I was typing away and the next I found myself standing in front of the open refrigerator door, staring vacantly at its contents. I KNOW this is an exercise in futility. The closest thing to nutritious food in the Midwest is lunchmeat, iceberg lettuce, and white bread. And yet I persist. I actually have no memory of getting here, where I find myself rooted to the floor, clutching the door handle, panic rising as I scan the available choices. I can’t believe I just ate two slices of processed cheese food.

Since I’m leaving real estate and no longer need a large SUV to carry clients I sold my GMC Yukon to one of the agents in my RE/MAX office two days ago, then flew down to Sarasota to pick up my new Toyota Rav4. Yesterday morning I left Sarasota and drove to Illinois to visit my family over the Christmas holiday. Twelve hundred miles later I can honestly say that I love my Rav4! It’s much smaller than the Yukon but still roomy inside; the rear cargo area is even large enough for me to stretch out and sleep in when I camp. This vehicle is so solidly built that I have to keep checking to make sure the doors are securely shut because they close so noiselessly. The controls are in different locations than they were on the Yukon and that took some getting used to, but it wasn’t long before I adapted to the changes; nothing like a long road trip the first day you own a new vehicle. Much of the trip was spent Read More

Yesterday evening RE/MAX Ocean Realty had their annual Christmas party. Over the past eleven years we’ve had some awesome parties because, whatever else you can say about a bunch of real estate agents, we know how to enjoy ourselves, especially when it involves free food and drink. But for me the occasion was bittersweet because my retirement date is fast approaching and I am sad to be leaving. I had hoped to get through the evening without tears but that was not to be. The owner of the company, John Stubbings, chose this occasion to say a few words about me. John lavished praise on me to the point of embarrassment, saying that I had done so much for the company and for him personally, following which the agents gave me a standing ovation. As the evening progressed, one agent after another came up to me and thanked me for everything I had done for them, telling me that they attribute their success in some way to the assistance I have provided over the years. To me, the assistance I provided was just part of my job; I was happy to help. But it became apparent to me that it meant much more than that to the people I helped.

One agent told me he was in a bad way when his marriage failed, and that I walked into his office and asked if he was OK and offered to listen if he needed to talk. He described it as the beginning of his being able to open up. Another associate reminded me how I had helped her learn Photoshop so she could manage her real estate web site. Several reminded me how I had patiently walked them through the decision to become a REMAX agent. Yet another reminded me how I had helped him study for his real estate exam. I had no idea. I really had no idea. I was astonished and humbled. And it really made me realize Read More

I’m what they refer to as a “short timer” now. Today, in preparation for my departure at the end of this month, I was replaced as Broker-In-Charge of my real estate firm. Feels weird. Up ’til now, I don’t think folks believed I was actually going to leave – everyone figured I’d change my mind. Now that it’s apparent I really am moving to Florida, everyone has started talking about how strange it is going to be not having me around. I’ve already had several goodbye lunches with friends and coworkers and every day gets just a little harder. Leaving the Outer Banks will not be especially difficult but leaving the people is another thing entirely. I have made such wonderful friends here during the past 11 years and I will miss everyone so much.

Late this afternoon, Colleen, a fellow agent who used to be my real estate assistant and is now a successful Broker in her own right, rushed into my office, plunked a shopping bag down on my desk, then rushed out saying she couldn’t watch me open it because she would cry. Instead, I sat all alone in the deserted building and dug through wads of multi-colored tissue paper to find a wall plaque containing the following verse: Read More