catskills, country life, farm, Real estate, upstateny

Of Ants and Grasshoppers

Remember that old story about the ant and the grasshopper? The ant worked while the grasshopper played. And the grasshopper scoffed all summer, telling the ant he was wasting time that could be better spent enjoying himself. Winter was a different story, and the ant was warm and dry while the grasshopper shivered in the snow.

I’m trying to be like the ant.

We live in the real country now. Not suburbia. Out on a country road, twenty minutes from a supermarket (yes, you veteran country dwellers, I know you’re scoffing but that’s not the one mile walk I was accustomed to), and a healthy hill or a small mountain to get over in any direction.

We got our roof replaced. It needed it. I may have cried a little as we paid the bill, but it’s the kind of repair that will pay us back for the rest of our lives.

We got a generator. Our power went out all the time at the last house. But that short walk to a store and a mighty wood stove kept us going. The power was never out more than three days, as I recall. I suspect if it goes out here, it could be awhile before the power company gets to us.

We stocked ourselves with wood for the wood stove, got the furnaces cleaned, even had extra insulation put into the attic.

The snowblower is serviced, the salt is ready for the walkways.

We’re as ready as we’re likely to be.

It’s already snowed here, just a little. I’m not sure if I’m excited or nervous about the first real snowfall. This is the Catskills. It snows here. It can snow a lot.

What will I do to entertain myself once winter arrives?

I’ll be working. That’s a sure bet. Real estate may slow down in the winter, but it doesn’t stop.

I’ve been taping the sheetrock in my partner’s music studio. It’s a skill I’ve always wanted to have and it’s satisfying to put some work into the job. I’ve put in four or five full days so far, and the control room is, I think, ready to sand. I started taping in the live room today. It’s small and it’s going to go faster. That’s fine by me.

Once he’s back to work in his own space, there is paneling I could remove in the house….boy, is there paneling. But I have a book to write, too. Maybe I’ll take a break from construction this winter and focus on that.

Come spring, there’s a garden to expand, some painting to touch up outside, and we’ll be back to mowing that lawn that takes a full day, even with a riding mower to help with the meadow.

It feels different, this life in the country. The weather matters more. We watch the forecast and plan our activities around it. And people matter more, too. I’m loving the new neighbors, my new town.

This is what I always hope for my clients — finding the place that feels like home.

I got lucky. I found mine.

Real estate, Uncategorized

That Golden Rule

photo displays person holding ball with reflection of horizon
Photo by Sindre Strøm on

Sometimes business becomes personal. And sometimes it goes wrong.  But sometimes, that gives me an opportunity to decide if I am really the person I want to be.

That happened today.

Former clients, people I worked with for a long time and really liked, just disappeared one day. This wasn’t just business. We’d become friends. They swore there was no way they’d ever want to work with anyone else. Then they did. They didn’t say goodbye. They didn’t explain. They vanished.

I hadn’t seen it coming. I’ll be honest — it hurt. I felt like I got dumped at the dance.

Fast forward a couple of years and suddenly I got an email from them. They were having trouble with a real estate transaction and they wondered if I could help them understand what they should do.

I paused. I wondered if the better thing to do was to simply not respond. We no longer had any relationship and any communication with them had to be very clear, as they have another agent and I do not want to, indeed cannot, by the code of ethics, interfere.

But I decided ignoring them was not the right answer. I’d liked them, I’d done my best for them, and I knew I’d feel better about myself if I continued to do that.

I dropped them an email, asked for a clearer explanation, then made a phone call to someone involved in their transaction to get the full story. Once done, I let them know it made sense to me, that if they needed further explanation, they could call me.

“Do your clients and co-workers know how lucky they are to have you?” they wrote.

No. Of course they don’t. Just like these clients didn’t realize how hard I’d worked on their behalf until they moved on. Just like I sometimes take it for granted when I know I can count on someone.

Trust is hard to win. And it hurts when it’s lost. But I did my best, before and afterwards.

I treated them the way I’d hope to be treated. That’s all I can do. But that’s a lot.