The Learning Curve

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A beautiful December up in our meadow

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a few weeks thanks to one more island re-charge and then the fact my brain is full.

I have learned so much these past couple of months having active offers representing both a buyer and a seller in the real estate world! It has kept me guessing and it has kept me drinking red wine.

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Aloha!

But first, the island re-charge!

Its true, we were just on Kauai for my annual veterinary conference at the end of October. It might seem a bit extravagant to return to Hawaii a couple of weeks later but it was the best decision.

We flew to the Big Island for a 5-night stay at the Hilton Waikoloa (“Dirty Disney”) on an all-inclusive holiday. It was truly a holiday because it was the first time since starting to go to Hawaii that neither of us had a conference.

No agenda.

No need to be anywhere at any specific time.

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Island Al, our first morning

Except the golf courses.

The breakfast buffet was terrific, although it was teeming with families with young children. I hadn’t thought much about it being Thanksgiving week when we booked this trip a year ago but, wow. That was the most kids we’ve ever seen at one time at any resort on the islands.

They weren’t at the golf courses, at least.

We played the Kings Course, Makalei, Waikoloa, Hupana and the Beach Course.

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Makalei. Up the volcano, then down the volcano. And repeat.

The weather was perfect, the meals were terrific, the courses weren’t crowded, the evenings on our lanai with martinis and wine overlooking the dolphins and ocean were magical and we are completely full of Aloha.

Dirty Disney is a pretty cool place to go. Its such a vast resort that it actually has its own  monorail and boat system to get around between the towers.

It is also where I spent a heartbroken week during last year’s veterinary conference while Alistair stayed home so he could be with UB when he died from suddenly-diagnosed lung cancer.

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Sweet UB. I miss you so much.

We toasted our little Bostonocker Sperrier during our recharge to the Big Island and I’m a little overwhelmed by his memory right now.

Alas..

Onto the uptick in my already upticked learning curve!

One of the two transactions I was involved in was just way too easy.

No, really, it was sooooo smooth. I kept waiting for something ridiculous to happen but it didn’t.

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My first listing ever and now my first closed transaction!!!

It was that adorable house in town I listed for a friend who had been a great veterinary client. My first listing ever as well as my first Open House! I love that house and, without any issues, the buyers are in and the transaction closed on Nov.30th!

(Well, the poor buyer locked herself out on the chilly morning of closing- in her jammies- and had to make her way to our office where a colleague could give her a code to get into the lockbox and I wasn’t checking my phone where her frantic husband-in-North-Dakota had been texting me because, geez, I was going to meet my seller in Missoula for the closing where my seller told me, for the first time, that there were spare keys to the side door under the mat in front of it.)

So perhaps there was a bit of a glitch after all…

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Bye-bye, super cute house!

The second transaction, where I represented a buyer from Missoula who I had met working the floor this summer, wasn’t quite the same.

We were getting into a lake house on a private, gated lake near my own house and the home inspection came back with a few issues.

The issues led to some work that had to be done including radon mitigation and pumping of the septic tank and a few little things here & there. We were also set to close on Nov.30th but the one main thing I’ve learned since joining my realty team is that nothing is closed until its closed.

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“Mummy, are you telling them about the issues at Big Sky Lake?”

We had negotiations about electrical panels that went somewhere until they went nowhere and caused some frustration and perhaps even anger to the seller and confusion to the buyer and myself and the other realtor involved, Greg, had to step in a bit to make things right.

(Another thing I have learned is that realtors are often “stepping in” to make things right.)

So Nov.29th, when the radon mitigation was being finished up and my buyer and her two sons drove up for a walk-through, it was discovered that nobody could find the septic tank despite there being 3 septic permits associated with the property.

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At this point my brain took me back to my happy place from the week prior…

I actually drove home that night thinking that the sale was going to fall through and nothing would close.

And I was actually okay with that.

Because life is too short to wrap yourself up in shit you can’t control. And, believe me, I could not control this one. Nor could I negotiate a fix for it all.

I could, however, support Greg, who is a former veterinary client and friend, who assembled a team for the following Monday. The team included the local septic guy, his son, an excavator and a guy to work it, another septic guy with a camera to find the tank and us agents.

Party at the lake house!

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Working on the septic issue….

The camera-guy found the tank! Yippie! Okay, everyone, lets unearth it, get it cleaned and close this deal!

Oop, wait, not so much….

You see, as kind of shown above, we all realized that the tank was brilliantly buried beneath concreate.

Yeah. Concrete.

There was, perhaps, half an hour where Greg and I and everyone else had no clue what we were going to do.

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Oh, goodie… we found the tank….

Again, images of the signed papers floating off into the sky crossed my mind but Norm, the local septic guy just started digging.

And digging.

And the excavator guy got going in his machine again and half of a wood pile had to be moved and texts were flying between Greg and his seller and I watched and waited and wondered aloud if this was going to turn into one of those, “Hey, who is the littlest person here? You, there… in the hat… you’re going in” situations and we all laughed then we laughed again when someone said, “No shit! Literally!” to a comment and damn it, Norm got to the tank and was able to pump the thing!

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Not the best view but I’m behind the half-removed wood pile, standing on the treads of the excavator.

And the next day Greg and the excavator guy got some pressure-treated posts under the ground and they beefed up the support for the biffy that’s in the little out-building there and my buyer is happy.

And we closed! We closed in Missoula on the 7th and I celebrated with a hair cut and color to hide the greys that accumulated this past week at an exponential rate and life is good.

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In the car wash post closing, coloring & cutting… no “steadily depressing, low down, mind-messing” car was blues for this realtor!

I’m moving on right away to clients who are looking at listings all day with me tomorrow so they can relocate for the husband’s new job in Seeley Lake.

And I am chomping at the bit to get going on my fourth book.

And I had an all-day bling-thing yesterday at the local steakhouse with several other local small business owners.

And the cute little ice rink in town is actually coming together and people have already asked about skating lessons.

And there’s a few pets in town due for their vaccines.

And I did another Rouxbe cooking school lesson that led to me basting my first ever eggs this morning and I’m going to try a fabulous-looking new chicken and mushroom dish tonight!

And we adopted a new cat who adopted Alistair in Bismarck (Higgins!) and there could be even more Fyfe critters because, come on, who actually believed it was all going to end with Attrition?

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Ahhhhhh

And because of the potential for insanity in the weeks ahead I’ve gone ahead and already booked our next trip back to Dirty Disney in a few months although this time it is for a conference.

Neither of us cares.

We’re going to need it!

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Good times!

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Hiking around the Hilton

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Where do you want to look at the ocean and dormant volcanoes and play golf today, Honey?

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Mummy and our new, adorable, friendly, loving, purr-ball stray, Higgins!!!!

 

 

 

 

 


 

Aloha, Baby

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Beautiful plumeria trees with their subtle sweet fragrance

As I’m listening to the rain come crashing down outside knowing it will turn to snow overnight, I’m not all that concerned.

I don’t mind the mud and the puddles and the cold and the wood splitting and the need to dress in layers because I’m buoyed by our most recent trip to the islands.

Hawaii Island, specifically.

Aloha.

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Waikoloa Beach Marriott, where we stayed

We have been in love with the Hawaiian islands since our first trip there in 2009. We both try to arrange conferences there on an annual basis.

The veterinary dermatology conference I’ve attended 5 times now rotates between Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. That’s what took us over there last week.

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Sunset on the island of Maui at last fall’s veterinary conference

The flight from Seattle to Kona wasn’t without some excitement. Not turbulence or anything frightening like that.

No, this was excitement on the human front.

Our plane was being held for some passengers who were in the airport but couldn’t be located.

Eventually they  came thundering down the aisle with two little kids, enormous bags of diapers, every use of the F-word imaginable, all while slurring their words and swirling their take-out cups.

Guess they had been in the bar.

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Bird sanctuary on the east coast of Kauai, January 2014

Wife sat behind Alistair and proceeded to grab onto the back of his chair for balance (because you are so off balance when seated, right?)

She was extremely vocal about her dismay over the lack of cup holders.

As if we were on a flying minivan.

Their 2-year old kicked my chair most of the flight and wailed non-stop when both parents eventually passed out.

When Wife woke up (more F-words) she spilled 3 drinks in succession. With even more F-words.

At first it was orange juice but a couple of hours into the flight over the Pacific they somehow allowed them to have a Mai Tai. (Sploosh) (F-word). And another. (Sploosh, again….)

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Finally playing golf in Hawaii! We loved it.

We eventually landed in Kona where it was dark but beautiful.

The airport there is open-air and made up of tiki-type huts.

Its pretty awesome.

We have a system where I run to rent the car and Alistair retrieves our luggage. Worked like a charm.

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The Ali’i Lavender Farm on the slopes of Maui’s dormant volcano, Haleakala

While our room wasn’t what we’d requested and the view of the pools, lounge and enormous tree out front meant for less time on the lanai at night, we began to embrace the Hawaiian way and got into our island groove in no time.

Hawaiians are adaptable, friendly people.

They adapt slowly because everything and everyone moves slowly in Hawaii.

The sun takes its time descending into the ocean in the evening.

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Sunset from the fishponds by our Marriott last week

Why rush it?

The well-managed feral cat colonies are in no hurry to go anywhere.

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Feral cat colony by the Marriott on the Big Island- I counted 20 kitties at one time.

If food and water are provided, and your furry companions are there, and your ears are notched because you are altered and there is funky lava all around you to lounge on, why not hang out and chill with your buddies?

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Very photogenic Big Island feral cat

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In the islands, these kitties do it ‘island style’

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More feline aloha.

Most of the restaurants move a bit slower but that’s cool.

Who needs to be in a hurry when you’re looking out towards the palm trees listening to the ocean waves come upon shore?

The famous Mai Tai adult bevvie is almost designed to help you move a bit slower as well.

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Big Island Mai Tai last week- guaranteed to help anyone chill

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Maui Mai Tai from last year’s conference

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Island Barbie with her Mai Tai on Maui in 2010

Now that we consider ourselves sort of, kind of, in a way, not really golfers, we booked tee times and went for it!

We laughed, we made par, we got lost (my fault on that one!), we learned that rocky lava does a number on golf balls, we stared at the beauty around us, we laughed some more, we drove balls into lakes, we observed golf course goats, we got rained on and we got sun tans even while wearing SPF 70.

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Alistair at the Waikoloa Kings golf course with a dormant volcano in the background

We played in the golf tournament hosted annually at this conference. We had never signed up before but I know we will do it again.

A bunch of eager, happy vets headed out bright and early on the Waikoloa Beach par 70 course in a parade of golf carts.

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Golf cart parade! We were the merry leaders!

We were teamed up with Dr.Brock and Ron, who was 83 years young and knew how to hit the heck out of a golf ball.

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Coolest team in the tournament on the signature hole at the Waikoloa Beach golf course

Granted, around the 15th hole he looked pasty and white and Brock was kind of helping him stand up.

It was a hot day for anyone, let alone an 83 year old who hadn’t played 18 holes in a few years.

And yet he rallied to finish and enjoyed the humungous hamburgers and beer with everyone else during the luncheon.

Our team shot 70.

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Waikoloa’s Beach course signature hole…. jaw droppingly beautiful with crashing ocean waves all around.

The conference was great- we got to reconnect with friends we have met over the years (Dave, Cathy, Alan, Amanda, Erica, Pam) and make new friends as well (Brock, Ron, Bruce and Quinn).

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Dr.Brock, from Indiana, joined us for more golf… even when the electrical system went haywire and nobody could control the sprinklers we approached it Island Style and played on through. Aloha! Fore!

The only time things sped up for us last week was when we boarded the Blue Hawaiian Eco-Star helicopter for the Big Island Spectacular 2 hour tour.

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AWESOME trip yet again with Blue Hawaiian!

It totally lived up to its name and I don’t mind shamelessly promoting this company for their exceptional pilots and tours.

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Up close and personal with the current eruption on Kilauea via Blue Hawaiian helicopter tours

The only way to see some amazing parts of the Hawaiian islands is by air and we’ve got every penny’s worth each time we’ve flown with Blue.

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Watching the planet being created as fresh lava marched towards the ocean destroying everything in its path

Our pilot, Shane was enjoying the trip as much as the rest of us and added on an extra 30 minutes to the tour. We had incredible timing with the lava flow, the weather and the clouds.

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Cascade waterfalls along the eastern coast of the Big Island

I can never get enough of the waterfalls and rugged coastlines and I want time to move even more slowly.

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Wind-whipped eastern coast of the Big Island seen from the air in our front seats of the helicopter

Its even more cool when you get to sit up front, which we did. I was the co-pilot.

I clapped my hands and grinned like the village idiot when Shane asked me if I wanted to shut the helicopter off.

Something about the islands brings out the little kid in me.

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Lanai views from the Marriott… not our room, though. We got to Linger Longer here for 12 hours which was long enough to enjoy the palms and the ocean.

And I am once again filled to the brim with aloha and love and sunshine and a spiritual type of re-awakening.

A true appreciation of what it means to be alive in a land that is still forming in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

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Alistair and I on our last day on the Big Island

The weather report says we’re heading for 14 degrees Fahrenheit in 2 days and we got the wood stove going when we landed back in Montana 2 days ago.

And I’m totally cool with this because I know the islands are still there… waiting for us to return someday.

With outstanding seafood, refreshing Mai Tais, romantic sunsets, spectacular helicopter rides, tropical flowers and morons on airplanes who get wasted without thinking of anyone but themselves and who spill their drink and swear like sailors but even that doesn’t matter because of the adventures ahead and the ones behind.

Mahalo, Hawaii.

Until next time.

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Saying goodbye with the hula statue at Kona International airport a few nights ago

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Ahhhhh…..