Newton Custom Interiors

And then today….

I took some time to check out and marvel at my niece’s website.  She’s right in line and ready to fill the shoes of Martha Stewart when she retires.

Jann has been creating exquisite custom window treatments for clients (many in central Illinois where I grew up) for years and I’ve loved seeing her posts on Facebook.  Now I realize by looking at her  newtoncustominteriors.com  website, I’ve discovered a wonderland of ideas and tutorials and recipes for creating a better home life!

Jann’s information will, of course, be beneficial to those involved in a real estate transaction–both buyers and sellers!  Her staging skills are evident in the videos she shares of her own home decorating!

I have seen Jann’s workspace and she practices what she preaches.  When I was creating my soft sculpture “people”, my work space was a mess!  That’s who I am, I guess.  Jann is organized and disciplined and very creative–and all while being exceptionally neat!   I want to be like Jann when I grow up!

 

 

 

ROLLER COASTER LIFE OF A REALTOR

And then today…

as I begin my 30th year in real estate sales, I realize I am one of the luckiest realtors in the world!  And, of course, there are stories I could tell…but I won’t!

I began my real estate career quite by accident.  I was renting studio space in Clarendon Hills to continue my artwork while we renovated our home.  The realtor, Lid Baird, who owned the building twisted my arm (as realtors do) and talked me into getting my license.

For a while I had a nice balance of doing both art and real estate sales.  The above photo shows how I incorporated one of my soft sculpture butlers to help at an open house.

However, the housing market boom caused me to devote more and more of my time to real estate.  A friend said to me that I “would probably make more money selling real estate but it wouldn’t be as much fun” and she was right.  Legal contracts and big money and moving issues can combine for top level stress and sleepless nights!

Reflections and records show I am closing in on about 300 transactions.  Just looking at an address I can remember the story for each and every property!  Over half of my business has come from my immediate neighborhood and I’m also grateful for many referrals.

I use to travel far and wide (north to Grayslake and Cary for relatives, south to Tinley Park and Mokeena, and west to Naperville and Aurora), but most of my work has been in the Hinsdale area.

A few real estate observations along the way:

  1.  Selling?   Clean, clean, clean and unclutter, unclutter, unclutter.  Stagers provide a valuable service.
  2. Buying?   Do your homework.  The internet provides valuable information of a location’s amenities, schools, and government.  Also, if you are serious about a particular property, I encourage buyers to talk to potential neighbors out walking their dog or washing a car.  It can make a big difference in the comfort level.
  3. The public in general is skeptical of realtors–again the big money issue.  I enjoyed a level of trust with my artwork that I constantly had to prove with real estate sales.
  4. Sorry, fellas, but I usually find that women are more honest and open about change of location situations and financial issues.  Truth and trust can often cut to the chase and result in a quicker, more efficient transaction.
  5. I’ve been impressed with and am appreciative of all the positive professionals I’ve worked with along the way–realtors, lenders, attorneys, inspectors, stagers.  I’m proud to have been associated with two fine offices–Prudential with Tina Porterfield and RE/MAX with Linda Feinstein.
  6. Patience is a virtue!  A background in psychology is a plus!  Hang in there as things have a way of working out and everyone can win!

In a nutshell, as I look back I am very grateful and as I look forward I am also very grateful.  Being a realtor has been very, very good to me!  (Now I think I’ll take a nap.)

Thanks to all, martha

 

 

 

WALKING IN THIS WORLD

And then today…

Finally!  A new year, a new resolution, a new burst of energy, a new priority list and A NEW RECKONING!

This will be the year of my  75th birthday and I know I’m running out of time to do all the things I want to do and to accomplish my goal of peace in the world!  It is a hard pill to swallow along with the daily cocktail of blood pressure and other medications (more explanation on “other” another day) but the reality check is causing me to get back to work!

Earlier I wrote of THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron class I took at Mayslake.  I considered it to be my specialized twelve step, twelve chapter adventure into a new way of thinking and courage to get out of my comfort zone.  In a nutshell, it involved weekly meetings, writing morning papers and an artist date.

Soon I will begin a new twelve week follow up with WALKING IN THIS WORLD by the same author.  I look forward to a new burst of creativity as well as the energy surge.

I am presently taking an art journal class and writing the layers of memories of my fifteen years creating and selling soft sculpture “people” under my business name of Marli Originals.  Because the public was eager for my nudes, I often call it my “soft porn” years.

I now am looking like these ladies myself!

I am finishing up my continuing education classes for selling real estate for at least another year, maybe two.  Last year was a successful year in real estate transactions over 3 million.  More important than the money is the trust and satisfaction in  helping friends and neighbors through trying times.

I look forward to a new Goofy year.  Time is running out….

Unusual Pets

 

I recently saw on television a family (didn’t get the whole story, but I did catch the video) with a pet bison freely lumbering into and out of their home.  I found it fascinating as I, too, love all kinds of animals.

We presently have one medium sized dog and two birds, a talking African Grey and a beautiful Plum-headed parakeet.  In the past we’ve had three other dogs, a bunny,a Guinea pig, and various parakeets and a canary.  All give us joy!

Of course there’s the heartache of losing them, but the love is worth the finality of the loss.  Memories last forever and we honor Sasha, Sparky, Kersee, Bailey, Ruby & Oreo, often with plants in the garden.

Animals have a way of sensing your mood and adapting to it.  They deserve love and respect in return.

“The purity of a person’s heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals.”

Women’s March Chicago–Activism?

Ouch!  I haven’t been keeping up with this blog.

 

Our new POTUS with one insulting tweet after another,  one alternate truth (big lie) after another, one disruptive and destructive executive order after another….so I’ve now become an activist!

I posted these photos on Facebook and I am still hearing repercussions from conservative family and friends.  I live in one of the most Republican counties in the United States.   Most of my extended family supported Trump.  They were quite negative to Hillary.  Why?  It has to be life experiences.

Now the question is, do I really care?   I’ve been wrestling with this every day.  I watch the new members of the congress and I’m worried.  I hear family say “give him a chance” over and over and then I see Trump’s actions and hear his words.  This is hard.  I have difficulty being around some people whom I use to respect.  I’ve dug deep for the return of my sense of humor.

I guess all this is a form of grief.  I’ve only reached the anger stage.  What will tomorrow bring?

Hillary & Leonard Cohen–Tough News Week!

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And then today….

I’m sad.  I’m scared.

Hillary’s loss was unexpected, yet always feared.

Leonard’s death was not unexpected, yet always feared.

Thank you Saturday Night Live for the pitch perfect combo of Hillary (Kate McKinnon) thoughtfully singing Leonard’s masterpiece, Hallelujah.  It has helped me put things in perspective.

Other ways I’ve been trying to stay positive and regain some sort of sense of humor include:

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  • Covering an old guitar with photos of concerts I’ve seen including Leonard on the front side
  • Offering an extra Ben & Jerry’s “Schweddy Balls” empty carton on eBay
  • Having my hair dresser spray a purple streak in my hair after today’s cut
  • Taking photos of the super moon (and laughing at Kimmel’s joke about California’s continual frequency of super moons with the Kardashians around).
  • Eating a warmed gooey cinnamon pecan roll (it’s been years)
  • Starting my Christmas letter early (never before)
  • Receiving the 5 Cubs World Series locker room caps I ordered
  • Buying glitzy sequin leggings for our youngest granddaughter
  • Hand writing a letter of thanks to Hillary

I’m not giving up and neither should you!

Heartbroken

I am dealing with deep disappointment that Hillary will not be the next president.  I share a letter forwarded to me from a friend:

Dear Friends and Board Members,

Having earlier watched Hillary Clinton’s deeply moving concession speech, I am having trouble putting into words the mixture of emotions that have roiled me today. I find myself tossed from shock to sadness to anxiety to grief. Shock that the country made the decision it did, sadness and grief over the loss of what could have been, anxiety for what the future will bring.

However, I will not allow myself to be overcome by fear and anger. The outcome last night was driven, I believe, in many ways, by a mixture of these emotions.

I am never more convinced of the importance of the work of the Chicago Center and of our work as stewards of the Center. Education – and, more precisely, the type of first voice educational experience the Center offers – is the antidote to what has divided our country and deeply fractured our government.

I am reminded of the words of the great thinker Jane Jacobs, who, in comments to the New York Times concerning civil disobedience in the time of the Vietnam War, said, “Merely by happening, civil disobedience affirms that outside the corridors of power are men and women who make judgements, possess courage, form intentions, captain their souls, and act on their own.”

Never before has the educational process itself felt like such a vital act of civil disobedience. Learning – about ourselves, those like us, and, especially, those completely different from us – is the most profound way I know for all of us to build courage, to engage one another with good intentions, and to captain our own souls.

Let us then redouble our efforts in our work with the Chicago Center. Now is the time to do good work in everything we do.

All best,
Zach.

I’m PROUDLY With Her!

And then today, I’m finally back writing and I’m hoping to find the right words.

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This election has been quite difficult for me.  I’ve absorbed so much trying to be “truthfully” informed through reading reliable newspapers, watching reliable tv news shows and watching all the debates and both conventions.

Maya Angelou said “When someone shows you who they are believe them: the first time.”

Both candidates have clearly shown us who they are!

What’s happened to our country?  I’m 73 and I’ve been through many elections.  I’ve voted for Republicans and I’ve voted for Democrats.  But never do I remember such negative, dark insults and cruel actions on the part of the voters. I’ve witnessed this first hand from family and friends I have always considered kind and compassionate people.  I hear it and see it in public places from loud strangers.  I just don’t get it.

Is it social media ?–probably.  Is it racist?–probably.  Is it sexist?–probably.  Is it ignorance?–definitely.  Is it lack of courage on the part of most of the Republican party?–very definitely.

Tomorrow I will proudly support Hillary Clinton and cast my vote for the first woman president.  Her years of public service and working hard to help families and children and all factions of our country are well documented.

This election journey has not been easy or fair for her in so many ways.  May she win (please, please) and the electorate and congress “grow up” and give her a chance to do the good work this country needs and deserves.

 

 

 

Chenoa Memories–Changing Times

And then today….

I was once again drawn to a Facebook group page named “You Know Ur From CHENOA, IL…

Yesterday I got caught up checking out posts and pictures a number of Chenoa fans have been publishing, and I enjoyed a warm, fuzzy flashback to my childhood.  Chenoa is a small town (population just over 1700 when I grew up there and probably still just 1700) in central Illinois at the “Crossroads of Opportunity”–Routes 66 & 24.  Old Route 66 still exists there for local traffic, but I-55 has replaced it as a super highway.

My childhood was in a family of six children on a livestock farm (milk cows, chickens, sometimes sheep and mostly pigs.  That’s a memory for another time.  We lived just 2 miles from town.  (I’ve lived in a western suburb of Chicago for the last 40 years.)

My memories as I wrote on Facebook included a description of my 1950’s Chenoa downtown with two grocery stores, two drugstores, restaurants, a dimestore, furniture, hardware and other businesses which offered us everything we needed.  We felt like we had it all and supported our local shops.  Now the downtown is mostly vacant and I believe only one drugstore remains.  Good for Shuirman’s, now Chenoa Pharmacy, for hanging in there so locals can at least get prescriptions and other necessities.

I waitressed at a small restaurant on Route 66 where the owner favored truck drivers and saved a large table reserved just for them.  (I discovered years later, while pulling out my yearbooks to take to a reunion, that I must have put my yearbook on their table, as I have two pages filled with their notes.)  Both locals and highway traffic frequented the restaurant, so it was a positive “slice of life” in the fifties.

One sad commentary, however, is that a sign was posted “We reserve the right to seat and serve our customers” which allowed the owners to discriminate in their treatment and service to African Americans.  They were never allowed to sit at the counter and they always would get their food to go.  Again, the civil rights movement is a memory for another time.  I could write books about it now, reflecting back over my lifetime and what I’ve experienced and learned.

The basis of my Facebook paragraph was my appreciation of the people of Chenoa and gratitude for the small town values I’ve carried with me for a lifetime.  Seems like none of us had much money, but we didn’t know it.  We had everything we needed including respect and support from each other.

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Chenoa High School had a population of 200 with my graduating class being 42.  Now the schools have been consolidated and the students bus approximately 15 miles away.  More change….

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Our favorite hang-out with the best cheeseburgers is long gone, although I do believe the building still exists.

One thing that does remain the same is the Chenoa Cemetery, just outside of town.  In recent months I’ve been to the cemetery three times for burials.  Of course, it’s larger and filling with headstones of names I haven’t thought of in years.  The visits offer layers of emotion and reality.

But one of the best things that I take away from the Facebook experience is the outpouring of comments and “likes” from generations of Chenoa residents.  Many express their pride of having been part of Chenoa’s history and relationships they continue to cherish.

I find this particularly rewarding.  Also, Thank God, it means some things never change.  Good people continue to be good people.

 

 

 

 

Graue Mill Underground Railroad Journey

And then today…

Graue Mill in Fullerburg Woods Forest Preserve will again present at 6:30 and 8:15  their program  Journey on the Underground Railroad.

We took part in last night’s presentation and have been talking about it ever since.  The brochure described it as;

“Children and adults can experience what it was like to be a passenger on the Underground Railroad. This theatrical experience begins with a skit in which passengers will meet the legendary Harriet Tubman.”

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Graue Mill has recently been restored and it’s history as part of the Underground Railroad have been documented carefully.  The basement (with an outside access) holds the archived information and photos.

The program last night was story telling, songs, and an outing in the woods to duplicate the experience Freedom Seekers might have had.  There were children there (always good) and elderly (descendents of slaves) and those of us seeking a better understanding.

The talented participants soon had us joining in the singing as we got more comfortable with the story.  Several of the participants have written books about the Underground Railroad.

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Thank you, Graue Mill and these participants, for a very memorable journey.