November 30th, 2010
Each year at holiday time most of us gather with friends and family. While these are largely happy times, it can be a real eye-opener for adult children with parents who are getting on in the years.
Spending extended time together, you may notice changes in your parents behavior. The holiday season plays havoc with all of our behaviors, and changes are not all bad …but how do you rationally and constructively handle this?
Paula Meighan knows. As an RN and LMSW, she worked with seniors as a visiting nurse, in hospice, and then as a geriatic care manager. She then became one of the founding partners of Changing Places LLC, a Stamford CT-based senior transitioning firm. Members of NASMM and Certified Relocation and Transition Specialists (CRTS)-they specialize in assisting seniors-and their families-first navigate these emotionally charged issues, then providing peace of mind as they facillitate changes on their behalf.
Paula recommends using this opportunity to observe any changes that may be a signal that the time is approaching, or has come, to suggest resources to make life easier for them. Some solutions might be an aging in place organization, a geriatric care manager, additional help in the home or beginning to look at alternatives such as a move to independent or assisted living.
Here are a few things to consider:
Household - Can they food shop on their own? Are they able to pay their bills? Is the laundry done? Are dishes clean? Is there excess garbage or spoiled food in the refrigerator?
Hygiene– Are they wearing clean clothes? Are there any smells on their person?
Health – Can they keep track of their medications and take them properly? Have they made and kept medical and dental appointments? Do you see any signs of memory problems?
Socialization – Are they isolated or still getting out and about?
Safety – How is their walking? Bathing? Dressing? If driving, take a ride with them and observe their reaction time. Note if the car has dents and scratches.
Once you and any siblings have gathered information, which may include speaking with neighbors and friends, you might start a conversation about their thoughts for the future. Do they want to stay where they are? Would they consider having someone check in with them on a regular basis? Do they think a residential facility would make life easier for them?
These can be difficult conversations and we need to remember it is a process that will take place over time, unless of course you sense an immediate issue that needs resolution. There are so many options available, just opening the door can be a major step. Good luck!
November 28th, 2010
Newspapers cause me great concern.
Obvious reasons (like content) aside, I love knowledge, and being more aware of what is going on in the world; hate to see so much paper used in such a fleeting manner. Recycling newspapers before I read-or at least perused-them feels very bad. Sure, it’s not new news, but I will still know more than before I read it….
I am a fan of the NY Times, their softer sides in particular. Articles with a unique and sometime quirky point, and the story about the interesting people behind them. Makes me feel like a wiser and kinder citizen. But because of the afore-mentioned points, newspapers-like buying brownies- sometimes there are things just best not brought into the house.
All these odd points converge in the persons of my neighbors-Len and Katherine next door, and Mary Jane downstairs.
Len gets weekend delivery, Fri-Sun. A few years ago, I asked Len if he could leave me his Real Estate sections after he was done with them. Nothing of the instant there, but trends/info that I could read a week late without the world coming to an end. It’s worked out so well that my welcome mat has now become his recycling bin, and I now get the benefit of his subscription, angst-free.
The Home Section is published on Thursday though. I approached Mary Jane. Now, when she comes upstairs in search of Hugo, her Russian Blue Point with a wanderlust and a crush on my dog Bella-she also drops off the most recent edition of that section.
I used to leave rolls of quarters (for laundry) for my pals, but now everyone has their own pay-card, I reciprocate with gift cards for their favorite places instead…it works out very nicely.
All of which brings me to an article I just read, and wanted to share. Novelist Rick Moody penned The Hazel Effect, a look at how Hazel, his 18 month old daughter has helped him to see new meanings of home, and community.
HEY-it’s a long weekend, give yourself these 10 minutes, read it and enjoy.
November 26th, 2010
Have written about belonging to ActiveRain before, the nationwide online community of Real Estate professionals, almost 197K strong.
As a Stager, it’s a great place to be-these are some of the smartest people in the business, and the more I understand what Realtors think about and why, the better I am at my job.
About every 3rd or 4th day a Realtor writes a featured post about getting a house ready for sale: how important it is, what it entails and why. INEVITABLY agents from all corners respond, YES! OF COURSE! IMPERATIVE!!
These responses make me crazy.
OK< I admit, my inital, gut level response is why the heck are none of these vocal, pro-staging agents located in my state, or even my time zone??
Then-frustration. It is the same (small-ish) pool of people. Saying the same thing.
The reality is there is a big disconnect most Realtors have between Staging as a good thing in principle, vs. Staging that actually puts money in their pocket. The few and the vocal are preaching to the choir, the rest view Staging as an intellectual pursuit.
Investing time energy and some funds in putting a house’s best foot forward is something that needs to be spoken of at the first meeting, directly and confidently. You get confident about something by doing it.
I find it absolutely stunning that new agents are indoctrinated on presentation scripts, but not this. That experienced agents take less-than-desirable listings, thinking the buyer’s agent will work the magic. Or brokers allow dated, out of focus, under-lit and otherwise odd/unhelpful to abysmal photos be shown on their listings. .
I understand the plethora of challenges you all face, but if you, your seller, fellow agents or agents you supervise/mentor are not getting the results you want, might it not be time to change things up a bit?
Being pro-Staging does not mean you talk about it when it is easy and the sellers are amenable. It does not mean you talk about it in the third person, as in you’ve seen it done in other homes, or on all the HGTV shows.
Instead, you need to find a local professional Stager that you like, and start the conversation BEFORE the house goes on the market. BEFORE you meet your next listing call. BEFORE you start thinking about the next/newest techno-way to bump up your business. BEFORE you plan the next price reduction.
Invest the time NOW. To that end, I am declaring December to be Start the Conversation month.
To any now-enthused Owner-Broker, Mentor, or Office Manager reading this: Call me.
If your office is within a 25 mile radius of White Plains, I will come to your office for a 1/2 day during the month of December and run a workshop for your INTERESTED agents, for free. REALLY.
November 25th, 2010
This coming weekend is probably the busiest weekend of the year for high school reunions. You may even be holding onto an invitation to one!
You know where it is-in the top drawer…or tacked to the bulletin board. It’s been there for weeks…can’t bring yourself to toss it…or commit to going.
For the record: I was not a joiner, and definitely NOT one of those rah-rah, let’s-s-get-the-old-gang-together types.
I knew ‘of’ ‘ a lot of people back then, but there was no ‘old gang’ for me; the first 20-something years after high school I had kept in touch with 2 people, sporadically at best.
Something happened at around year 25. For purely selfish reasons (walking in, I wanted to have people to talk to) I volunteered to help.
They wanted me to find people. &@ %#*!!! I’m a decorator, put me in charge of flowers or something….but n-o-o-o-o-o.
OK, gave it a shot. First person I ‘found’ was Colleen. We had been in some classes back then, so I knew who she was. Back then she was, well, tough. Tough, kind of angry, and not seeming to be headed in a good direction.
It’s a wonderful long story, but short story is that Colleen was now an ordained minister, head of an outreach mission. I was hooked. Reconnected with 2 friends, and brought in one of my two originals, and we four ran a successful #30, and now planning #35 for next year.
Reunions have a way of bringing back the mindset of those awkward years in a nanosecond. They are not for everyone, and the room can get crowded in a hurry, all those hopes and dreams, old loves, past snubs and dramas under one roof…
But there are good stories, ‘new’ people to meet, and interesting experiences to be had.
As the years pass, life sends us reminders of exactly how precious time is, and if we are lucky, the stupid stuff often falls away. If you have the opportunity, stop thinking about it and just GO! (Even if just for the evening, it’s fun to be in a room full of other 18 year-olds again!!)
November 23rd, 2010
One of the things we all love about this time of year is getting together, seeing friends and catching up; your teens are no exception.
Laws vary by state, but to drink alcohol in New York, ‘legal’ means 21, no ifs and or buts, and that doesn’t mean just in public facilities. If your teen wants to have friends over, there is no more important time for parents to “be” parents.
Everyone wants their kids to have fun and ‘fit in’, so there may be the temptation to look the other way, have a very minimal presence during a gathering in the home, or make the rationalization of ‘well, at least I’ll know where they are’. Perhaps your teen might even revert to some emotional blackmail, and try to align their behavior with your behavior as an adult. WRONG.
Michael Greenspan is a partner at the law firm of Greenspan & Greenspan in White Plains who concentrates his practice in personal injury and criminal defense. Michael wrote about an important decision handed down by New York’s highest Court last week regarding the liability of party-hosting parents. He has these words of caution for parents hosting a teen party:
Preparation is key- first, set rules as a condition of having a party, prior to word getting out. Let your teen know what to expect, and that these rules will be enforced. Check all bags coming into the house, Bulky coats can conceal a lot, taking coats and putting them in another room gets the word out quick.
Supervise; even invite some other parents over for support. Walk around your property, to make sure nothing is hidden outside, or being brought in through another window/entrance.
What to do if alcohol is discovered? End the party right then and there. Have each guest call their parent and ask to be taken home. Do not let teens leave your home until their parents arrive.
What if a minor is intoxicated? You call the minor’s parents. If the minor is vomiting, passed out or otherwise unresponsive, call 911 immediately. Their health and safety is paramount. Do not let any minor leave the property until their parent arrives.
What if a guest is injured on your property? Call 911, then the guest’s parents. You also need to be prepared to defend and protect yourself. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you can, once you have contacted 911 and the injured teen’s parent or guardian, and notify your homeowners insurance company as well
www.MADD.org is also a great source of prevention tips. Not fun stuff, but please-don’t let your inaction lay the groundwork for a real tragedy.
November 19th, 2010
Earlier this week I was in NYC at the Design and Decoration (D&D) building to straighten out a wallpaper dyelot and labeling “situation” (yes, that will definitely be food for another post).
Took the elevator up, but leaving I took the stairs…what a surprise it was to open that door and see this clever way of dressing up the regulation, ordinary poured concrete safety stairs.
Painted like a bordered installed carpet, it was a great way for the project to come in on budget, but it was lovely and well, whimsical.
Good design can make you smile, and details make all the difference. For a few hours of labor and a couple of rolls of painters’ tape, a utilitarian non-space was transformed into a delightful focal point. Well done, D&D!
November 18th, 2010
In addition to this blog, I also post on Active Rain, the online community for Real Estate Professionals, 196K strong. Because what I do is so localized, my posts usually start here, and then get edited to fit their wider audience, but this time it’s the other way around.
I would characterize the AR membership as comprised of forward-thinking, busy and successful professionals that share, challenge and support each other, in their lives and communities, as well as their profession.
Last week I read a post that moved me greatly, Operation Christmas Child. It was originally writen by an agent in Georgia, then passed on by another in Oregon, here is the link to it all: http://activerain.com/blogsview/1969208/paying-it-forward-with-what-will-fit-in-a-shoe-box
I’m reading and thinking-this is a worthwhile and easy enough entity, but Georgia? Oregon? Out of curiousity, I clicked to find the nearest collection point. Guess what? The Master’s Vineyard Christian Fellowship in PLEASANTVILLE!! Yes, like 8 miles from where I live, right on 117 by Pace.
Went there Monday and met Evans Sabwami. He is an Assistant Pastor at the Fellowship, and has been co-ordinating these drives here since 1999. Walking in, it was hard not to notice the 53′ long trailer in the parking lot. I know how much furniture fits in one of those trailers, so thinking that was an optimistic goal with shoeboxes, I knocked on the door.
Imagine my surprise when I found out last year this collection point collected 22,000 shoeboxes, and that this was the first of TWO trailers they were anticipating filling.
Wait, there’s more.
Do you know what these kids want/need/so appreciate? Crayons. Paper. Pencils. Books. Small toiletries. YUP< school supplies, small toys and arts and crafts things are big…the sort of stuff we would just put in our shopping cart at the supermarket, and not give a second thought to, the stuff we would pick up at the Dollar Store.
Collection week is thru this Monday, November 22nd, 4 more days. Last year 8 million kids were so lovingly gifted, could you add to that number this year?
Click on here for details inc. hours, directions, and how to pack a box.
November 14th, 2010
OK< house is ready-nice listing photos, everyone is remembering to keep the house neat, there are good showings.
YAY! There is an acceptable offer!!
DOUBLE YAY!! Buyer financials are looking good, and since your agent priced it accordingly (I know, sorry, that’s a whole other post), inspection and appraisal should go right through, right?
As a seller you may be thinking hoo-rah, but agents know better. Ownership of your property needs to be easily and readily transferrable.
Properties that have had work done without the proper permit and inspection process can get derailed in the blink of an eye. When caught by an appraiser, inspector or title company, everyone in the sale is notified, and no one is happy.
It comes up most often when houses have had one owner for a long time, but ownership means responsibility, so newer sellers can be on the hook for past owners’ oversights/misdeeds as well. Things that may have been missed/misfiled in in the busy/crazy markets past now have..shall we say… very dedicated…people looking at them.
Key is understanding the process so you are prepared. Architect Steven Secon AIA, friend, colleague and principle of Steven Secon Architect in Dobbs Ferry NY explains it best:
“Many home and builing improvements require building permits. Before a project begins, an application is submitted to the municipality that the property is located in. When issued, the permit indicates the project has been reviewed and approved for conformance with the building code and zoning regulations; this is when the work can actually start.
“There are inspections throughout the process, and when the project is complete, a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) is issued, and municipality records are updated. Having accurate and completed COs on file is a valuable asset; it tells appraisers, attorneys, title agents and buyers that all work was done in accordance with local regulations.
It is against the law to make most non-cosmetic improvements without these approvals or permits, period. Bringing work without prior, necessary permits/approvals into conformance is called legalization-it’s completing the approval process after the work is done.
No matter what you may think of the permit process (and yes, I do know) the bottom line is if you want to sell your property it needs to be compliant, or else it will cost you-time, money, and yes, even the deal. Often there are penalties, and perhaps some additional work will be needed to make it legal… NOT what buyers or lenders want to hear, especially when there are a lot of other properties out there.
Steve sums it up: “Moral of the story-whether you are re-financing or just doing some updates to get your property ready for sale- do your homework. Check with the municipality, take the time to get project approvals in order- or make sure the property is legalized before you get it on the market.”
November 13th, 2010
…at Alice’s Res-tau-rant“ Come on, admit it, you know the words..probably have that damn tune stuck in your head now, too…
As long as I have been an adult, I crave listening to this Arlo Guthrie classic every fall. Folk music is generally not my favorite genre, but it’s different when Arlo sings. The urge starts early November, and goes thru Thanksgiving weekend. Never before Halloween, or after Thanksgiving weekend. And this year, he will be riding in the Macy’s parade!
A number of years back, Doug and I started going to his annual Carnegie Hall concerts, always held the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The rest of the cast varies, but usually several generations of friends and family, talented musicians all.
He can weave a story and a song together like no one else. Like a child who is enthralled and comforted by the ritual, long after they know the story by heart, I never get tired of listening.
The play list varies, but he almost always ends with “This Land is My Land”, and encores with“‘Goodnight Irene”-my middle name, I remember it being sung to me when I was growing up.
ANYWAY-some years back, on the 30th anniversary of ‘the event’ he sang another version,” the massacre revisited”. New ending, it’s clever and really funny.
The only YouTube versions come with bad video and in 3 parts- kind of disruptive, but worth it, give it a shot. There is also a site where you really can get anything you want…
Meantime, sit back and enjoy the original http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_7C0QGkiVo.
“With feeling”, a big thank you to Arlo and the whole Guthrie family , and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!
November 12th, 2010
Jacob Burns Theater, Pleasantville’s gem of an art house has done it again.
Now, thru Nov. 24th you can see some of Bogey’s finest classic characters on the big screen: included are Sam Spade The Maltese Falcon; as the workaholic tycoon who falls for the chauffeur’s daughter (Audrey Hepburn) in Sabrina, and tough as nails detective Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep.
Even if you know the story or have seen the movie before-if you have not experienced the pleasure of seeing a classic B&W movie on the big screen-GO! The storyline envelops you, the characters speak to you, heck, even the popcorn tastes better! I promise, you will be delighted.
November 10th, 2010
HEY-Pass it on! Hot Deal on Old Coolers…Con Edison Launches Refrigerator Recycling
Con Edison customers can cash in by recycling their old, energy-wasting “second” refrigerator, have it removed for free and get $30.
The new program is part of the company commitment to help customers save on their electric bills while helping the environment. Older refrigerators can cost twice as much to run as newer, more efficient models. “Old refrigerators account for nearly 20 percent of the energy used by the average New York household,” said Cristina Coltro, Manager for residential energy efficiency programs at Con Edison.
Con Edison residential electric customers in one-to-four family homes are eligible for the incentives. The company will remove regular-sized second, or extra, refrigerators, which are often kept in garages and basements, at no charge. Con Edison will arrange to safely dismantle and recycle the energy-guzzling appliance.
At the time of your refrigerator pick-up, the company will also collect and recycle old, inefficient window or wall air conditioners. Con Edison customers will receive $30 for second refrigerators, $35 for window air conditioners and $100 for wall A/C units.
The program covers the removal of up to two appliances per type per household. Appliances must be in working condition in order to be picked-up and recycled. To schedule a pick-up or inquire about eligibility, visit http://www.coned.com/energyefficiency/residential_bounty_program.asp or call1-800-430-9505.
Con Edison has an energy efficiency program available for almost everyone. For more information, visit www.conEd.com/energyefficiency or call Con Edison’s “Green Team” at 1-877-870-6118.
November 9th, 2010
Fluffy bunny…rattlesnake…you might guess how a situation like this would play out.
Guess again! Elizabeth Arduian, a Realtor from Lubbock, Texas found a different ending-AND- a great metaphor for almost any field or situation you can think of.
In a recent blog post on ActiveRain, the online Real Estate community, she used a great YouTube clip and asked us to look at how we react when things don’t go our way, how do we handle challenges?
We all have days that get the better of us, it’s part of being human. But we can also choose to let those be the minority. If you are not happy where you are-wherever that may be-you have options. Challenge what is expected, don’t passively accept the status quo.
The current ecomony, as well as the recent elections have left many of us feeling stuck, powerless and off-track. I say: change the channel, get in touch with you inner bunny, and move forward!!
A founding belief here at the refreshed home is that if you are in charge of your space, you will be in charge of your life. Taking action will free up space in your head, and let you get on with your life, REALLY.
GO, bunny, GO!! (And thanks again, Elizabeth!!)
November 5th, 2010
Am I the only one, 72 hours out, still feeling bruised, bullied, even dirtied from all the political campaigns?
Regardless of your affiliation, it was hard to escape the rancor or this electoral season, harder to imagine this not carrying over, or the sessions to follow accomplishing anything of importance with this bad attitude.
Personally and professionally, I have always felt dealing with people directly, and with respect is how to get things done. ”Incivility” is a word I first read in an op-ed piece in the NY Times about the message our preoccupation with our electronic devices really sends; loved it.
Very fortuitously, just as the dust is settling and the posturing is starting, I found a short essay, with a simple suggestion that I would call brilliant.
Joe Reeder is a former assistant secretary of the Army, and a lawyer in Washington. In a piece written earlier this year, he describes a quick, easy, no-cost, no downside way to help neutralize partisan nonsense so all our elected officials can really focus on the task at hand. http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-05-2010/break_up_political_parties.html.
If you want your elected officials to walk that walk, please consider sharing this with them. Common courtesy and professional respect, now THAT would be a refreshed house we could all get behind!!