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It  seems like this might be the perfect time for bird or dove hunting, no? And you know a beautiful, not too far away place to go for that?

Albany, Texas.  Albany is about two and a half hours west of Preston Hollow, the center of my universe. The new visitors center at Fort Griffin is open, a fine football team brings a lot energy with their Friday night lights, the local historic theater is busy with classic movies, live music touring acts and a couple of plays. Oh and there are three new exhibitions opened at the Old Jail Art Center. We told you about this magical place last June, and we think you may want to take a look-see again now. I’m told the Albany homecoming parade was good, so the people planning the Christmas parade have a tough act to follow…   it’s a good, solid, energetic town where nothing but good stuff happens, kind of like Pleasantville. And right about now, Pleasantville sounds divine!

 

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Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking the ‘burbs and the boonies are looking mighty fine right about now. No worries of Ebola out there in the country, right?

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(Maybe. Recall you can only get it from the body fluids of an infected person. Or monkeys.) (more…)

Rats on Patricia (1)

This is a guest post by Cassie Evans. We love having her as a guest blogger. She is a busy attorney who practices commercial/business litigation as well as real estate law (yes, she’s brilliant!). She lives in charming Hollywood Heights Santa Monica with her hubby and ever-changing menagerie of rescue and foster pets, some not so welcome. I do know that critter problems exist all over this city, including (shockers) Highland Drive, in Highland park, where one critter catcher once told me he saw the worst infestation of roof rats ever!

Now that Dallas has been very cold for the THIRD time this winter (that is my version of meteorology – just go with it), I am happy to report that some of my least favorite cold-weather house guests are gone. Gonzo. For good. Like if they come back, I just call a number, and someone comes over to evict them. There is even a “good riddance” guarantee that attaches this service to our house for life, should we sell. Every landlord should be so lucky.

I’m talking about my former house guests, roof rats.

When the temperatures dropped, apparently a newsflash went out in the Lakewood Roof Rat Times to come on over to our house. No bueno.  You see, roof rats thrive from November to May in the South when temps are cooler and they can tootle around comfortably. Although rats are common throughout all parts of the U.S., roof rats can be found mostly in the Southern states and along the west and east coasts. Roof rats eat mostly grains, seeds, fruit, and garbage so you are likely to find roof rats anywhere there is a human population. And though they are active during twilight and nighttime hours, they like to have a command center from which they venture out 200-300 feet to run their little rat errands. Like acrobats,they can walk up and down the sides of houses, jump from tree limbs, or travel along power lines and vines. INTO YOUR HOME.

Somehow, our attic became The Command Center.

We didn’t know it was The Command Center right away. That’s the thing about these tricky creatures – they make you second guess yourself. They can sneak in through any opening the size of a nickel or larger. I know a lot of people don’t use change anymore. But if you recall what a nickel looks like, it ain’t big. So they get in pretty much almost anywhere in a house built in 1938. Or one built in 2000 — my parents had rats after a squirrel took their home’s virginity.

Our house is in amazing shape thanks to the seller we bought it from. (Selling agent: Todd Terry.) He was a decorator who completely re-did the (tiny) interior – all updated to perfection – yet retained the charm of the exterior, which is the biggest draw of this neighborhood. It’s modeled after a New Orleans cottage. These must be Cajun rats – they fell in love with it.

One night, while laying in bed, I heard something above us. I thought it was in the attic, but had never heard any noise up there before. Our attic is very small and only used for insulation. It’s not a storage attic – thank God. I looked to Husband, “did you hear that?”

“No, I didn’t hear anything.”

Of course he didn’t. I must be making this up in my head. There is nothing up there. It was probably a stick on the roof or a Lakewood owl out on the hunt. Something plausible.

The next night I heard it again – around the same time. At this point I thought maybe I needed to check myself in somewhere. An adult camp. For the crazy. Get a brain and ear tune up. Again, Husband heard nothing. I saw NO reaction from his face. I looked at our pack of dogs for a reaction. They were all lying in our bed on their plush dog blanket, relaxing after a hard day of nothing. They were not concerned with mommy’s hallucinations.

So I did what any normal homeowner would do. I looked to our rescue cat for advice. Right? Aren’t they good at this sort of thing? I went and got his precious highness off the ottoman in the living room where he lays in a tray (yes, I have trained him to lay in a tray instead of on my furniture) and looks out a front window. I buttered him up, telling him how much I loved him, how I wanted to snuggle. Put him in our bed. Pet him. Heard a noise. BAM, he looks straight up at the ceiling above our heads. HALLELUJAH! I’m NOT crazy! The cat has confirmed it! I go to bed and set my alarm. The minute I woke the next morning, I called Critter Control. Due to the icy weather, they could not reach a client who lived far away, but could come to me. Thank goodness. We have enough pets right now. We were not looking to take in stray roof rats. A trapper was chez Evans-Decker within 2.5 hours.

Not sure I was fully prepared for what happened next. After checking my attic, quietly, Mr. Trapper informed me that there were too many “critters” to trap. No, it wasn’t hundreds, but more than like 8-10, and, like bratty teens,  they had become difficult suckers to trap. And then he told me what they were doing up there: POOPING. HAVING SEX! Roof rat scat, urine and x-rated activities in my pristine attic? Our Seller had just put in brand new, snow-white insulation a few years ago.

Oh, it’s no longer snow white, I was told.

Apparently, that type of fluffy, fun insulation is like roof rat crack. They LOVED it. The Critter Control rep took pics with his cell phone in the attic and showed me. I stayed grounded, no way I was going up there. Nor, actually, was the cat. He was back on his tray.

The Critter Catcher showed me photos of huge holes made in the insulation. He said they were really big tunnels for rats. Apparently, these rats weren’t just tunneling for warmth up there, peeing pooping and having sex. There was a roof rat frat gig going on with Hurricane Harbor slides.

Take it all out, I said, freaking, take everything.

I totally forgot there is important stuff up there. Like, oh, all the electrical wiring. And our surround sound speakers that are in every room. These freeloading guests could be causing THOUSANDS of dollars of damage and possibly cause an electrical fire. And I don’t know if you’ve checked your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy lately, but almost all contain an exclusion for rodents and rodent-related damage.

(But not for fire. And that’s all I’m saying on this topic.)

The rats had to be evicted, and this had to be a rush job.

I begged Critter Control to bump me up on the priority list. I had visions of a home we had owned for 5 months becoming infested and condemned by the City in two weeks. And it’s scary. Your home is generally your biggest investment to date, next to possibly student loans. Certainly ours was, or is.

Lucky for me, they took pity on our 13.5 year old Cavalier King Charles, Polly, who has congestive heart failure and just enough dementia to be adorable to strangers. Critter Catchers would save her from the rats. Apparently, rat poop and urine can spread some serious diseases to both humans and pets, including Rat-Bite Fever (good luck telling anyone you had that) and Leptospirosis. And they carry fleas, which carry a host of diseases.

They had to go. I was starting to google “blow torch”.

We chose Critter Control because it’s a national company and they provide a lifetime guarantee against further infestation that remains with the property – i.e. it’s a selling point, especially in areas that are prone to wildlife. They can pretty much handle ANY animal/critter. So the next time I see a spider, all I have to do is call them –kidding. But if we do have a snake, a possum, whatever, trespass, they will come to this home for free and humanely remove and re-home it. Truly is a good selling point.

Rats on Patricia (2) Rats on Patricia (7) Rats on Patricia (8) Rats on Patricia (11)So the weekend after Thanksgiving, Team Critter Control arrived for Operation Roof Rat Removal Day. There were so many men. They all wore the protective gear and masks and headed into my once pristine, now rat poop central attic. They sucked out the rats (some had left for their daily errands, but some were fast asleep), vacuumed out all of the insulation with these amazing, powerful vacuums (which they also used to kindly vacuum our landscaping and suck up all the leftover fall leaves – very handy), cleaned the entire attic space with hospital-grade germicidal cleaner, checked all electrical wires for nibbles and fixed any that needed repairing, and then blew all new insulation into our attic that rats do not like – cellulose based insulation coated in boric acid.

We are no longer providing them their dream environment.

Oh, it didn’t stop there. The rest of the Team was outside and scanning below the house, finding every point of entry for the unwanted animals, to ensure the elimination of recurrent wildlife invasions. Screens were vented, all eaves sealed, the chimney capped for rodents, under-house venting checked and all entry holes closed off. They also checked every single air duct to make sure no shenanigans had occurred in them and that there was no damage. All of this was included in one price.

So yeah, we now live in an impenetrable FORTRESS.

30 days post roof-rats, they came to check the traps in the attic. Not only were they empty and none of the bait touched, there wasn’t so much as a paw print in the brand new insulation.

Seriously, fortress.

When Icepocalypse 2013 hit, we really got to see how well insulated our home is. When it started warming up outside and everyone’s roofs were dripping water, our roof retained an even layer of snow and ice across it, gradually warming, but slower than every house on the block. Ok, we don’t just live in a fortress. We live in a Hot Pocket. This bad boy is about as green as you can get for a 1938 home with the new roof (thank you hail storm of 2012) and rodent free cellulose insulation. If I ever hear that noise again…. I just have to call Critter Control!

Rats on Patricia (19)And by the way, the reason Husband never heard it – he sleeps with ear plugs due to the menagerie of dog snores. Perhaps I’m not that crazy after all….

As a side note, I was shocked by how many people with small children – like crawling on the ground-age small children – confessed to having had rodent infestation issues but put out poison and do not do removal/professional clean up to “keep costs down.” I’m sorry – you want to keep costs down so you let your kiddo crawl around near rat poison, urine, and feces, and are fine with that?Cassie

YIKES. I have nothing else to say in print but, yikes!

 

Rats on Patricia (1)

This is a guest post by Cassie Evans. We love having her as a guest blogger. She is a busy attorney who practices commercial/business litigation as well as real estate law (yes, she’s brilliant!). She lives in charming Hollywood Heights Santa Monica with her hubby and ever-changing menagerie of rescue and foster pets, some not so welcome. I do know that critter problems exist all over this city, including (shockers) Highland Drive, in Highland park, where one critter catcher once told me he saw the worst infestation of roof rats ever!

Now that Dallas has been very cold for the THIRD time this winter (that is my version of meteorology – just go with it), I am happy to report that some of my least favorite cold-weather house guests are gone. Gonzo. For good. Like if they come back, I just call a number, and someone comes over to evict them. There is even a “good riddance” guarantee that attaches this service to our house for life, should we sell. Every landlord should be so lucky.

I’m talking about my former house guests, roof rats.

When the temperatures dropped, apparently a newsflash went out in the Lakewood Roof Rat Times to come on over to our house. No bueno.  You see, roof rats thrive from November to May in the South when temps are cooler and they can tootle around comfortably. Although rats are common throughout all parts of the U.S., roof rats can be found mostly in the Southern states and along the west and east coasts. Roof rats eat mostly grains, seeds, fruit, and garbage so you are likely to find roof rats anywhere there is a human population. And though they are active during twilight and nighttime hours, they like to have a command center from which they venture out 200-300 feet to run their little rat errands. Like acrobats,they can walk up and down the sides of houses, jump from tree limbs, or travel along power lines and vines. INTO YOUR HOME.

Somehow, our attic became The Command Center.

We didn’t know it was The Command Center right away. That’s the thing about these tricky creatures – they make you second guess yourself. They can sneak in through any opening the size of a nickel or larger. I know a lot of people don’t use change anymore. But if you recall what a nickel looks like, it ain’t big. So they get in pretty much almost anywhere in a house built in 1938. Or one built in 2000 — my parents had rats after a squirrel took their home’s virginity.

Our house is in amazing shape thanks to the seller we bought it from. (Selling agent: Todd Terry.) He was a decorator who completely re-did the (tiny) interior – all updated to perfection – yet retained the charm of the exterior, which is the biggest draw of this neighborhood. It’s modeled after a New Orleans cottage. These must be Cajun rats – they fell in love with it.

One night, while laying in bed, I heard something above us. I thought it was in the attic, but had never heard any noise up there before. Our attic is very small and only used for insulation. It’s not a storage attic – thank God. I looked to Husband, “did you hear that?”

“No, I didn’t hear anything.”

Of course he didn’t. I must be making this up in my head. There is nothing up there. It was probably a stick on the roof or a Lakewood owl out on the hunt. Something plausible.

The next night I heard it again – around the same time. At this point I thought maybe I needed to check myself in somewhere. An adult camp. For the crazy. Get a brain and ear tune up. Again, Husband heard nothing. I saw NO reaction from his face. I looked at our pack of dogs for a reaction. They were all lying in our bed on their plush dog blanket, relaxing after a hard day of nothing. They were not concerned with mommy’s hallucinations.

So I did what any normal homeowner would do. I looked to our rescue cat for advice. Right? Aren’t they good at this sort of thing? I went and got his precious highness off the ottoman in the living room where he lays in a tray (yes, I have trained him to lay in a tray instead of on my furniture) and looks out a front window. I buttered him up, telling him how much I loved him, how I wanted to snuggle. Put him in our bed. Pet him. Heard a noise. BAM, he looks straight up at the ceiling above our heads. HALLELUJAH! I’m NOT crazy! The cat has confirmed it! I go to bed and set my alarm. The minute I woke the next morning, I called Critter Control. Due to the icy weather, they could not reach a client who lived far away, but could come to me. Thank goodness. We have enough pets right now. We were not looking to take in stray roof rats. A trapper was chez Evans-Decker within 2.5 hours.

Not sure I was fully prepared for what happened next. After checking my attic, quietly, Mr. Trapper informed me that there were too many “critters” to trap. No, it wasn’t hundreds, but more than like 8-10, and, like bratty teens,  they had become difficult suckers to trap. And then he told me what they were doing up there: POOPING. HAVING SEX! Roof rat scat, urine and x-rated activities in my pristine attic? Our Seller had just put in brand new, snow-white insulation a few years ago.

Oh, it’s no longer snow white, I was told.

Apparently, that type of fluffy, fun insulation is like roof rat crack. They LOVED it. The Critter Control rep took pics with his cell phone in the attic and showed me. I stayed grounded, no way I was going up there. Nor, actually, was the cat. He was back on his tray.

The Critter Catcher showed me photos of huge holes made in the insulation. He said they were really big tunnels for rats. Apparently, these rats weren’t just tunneling for warmth up there, peeing pooping and having sex. There was a roof rat frat gig going on with Hurricane Harbor slides.

Take it all out, I said, freaking, take everything.

I totally forgot there is important stuff up there. Like, oh, all the electrical wiring. And our surround sound speakers that are in every room. These freeloading guests could be causing THOUSANDS of dollars of damage and possibly cause an electrical fire. And I don’t know if you’ve checked your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy lately, but almost all contain an exclusion for rodents and rodent-related damage.

(But not for fire. And that’s all I’m saying on this topic.)

The rats had to be evicted, and this had to be a rush job.

I begged Critter Control to bump me up on the priority list. I had visions of a home we had owned for 5 months becoming infested and condemned by the City in two weeks. And it’s scary. Your home is generally your biggest investment to date, next to possibly student loans. Certainly ours was, or is.

Lucky for me, they took pity on our 13.5 year old Cavalier King Charles, Polly, who has congestive heart failure and just enough dementia to be adorable to strangers. Critter Catchers would save her from the rats. Apparently, rat poop and urine can spread some serious diseases to both humans and pets, including Rat-Bite Fever (good luck telling anyone you had that) and Leptospirosis. And they carry fleas, which carry a host of diseases.

They had to go. I was starting to google “blow torch”.

We chose Critter Control because it’s a national company and they provide a lifetime guarantee against further infestation that remains with the property – i.e. it’s a selling point, especially in areas that are prone to wildlife. They can pretty much handle ANY animal/critter. So the next time I see a spider, all I have to do is call them –kidding. But if we do have a snake, a possum, whatever, trespass, they will come to this home for free and humanely remove and re-home it. Truly is a good selling point.

Rats on Patricia (2) Rats on Patricia (7) Rats on Patricia (8) Rats on Patricia (11)So the weekend after Thanksgiving, Team Critter Control arrived for Operation Roof Rat Removal Day. There were so many men. They all wore the protective gear and masks and headed into my once pristine, now rat poop central attic. They sucked out the rats (some had left for their daily errands, but some were fast asleep), vacuumed out all of the insulation with these amazing, powerful vacuums (which they also used to kindly vacuum our landscaping and suck up all the leftover fall leaves – very handy), cleaned the entire attic space with hospital-grade germicidal cleaner, checked all electrical wires for nibbles and fixed any that needed repairing, and then blew all new insulation into our attic that rats do not like – cellulose based insulation coated in boric acid.

We are no longer providing them their dream environment.

Oh, it didn’t stop there. The rest of the Team was outside and scanning below the house, finding every point of entry for the unwanted animals, to ensure the elimination of recurrent wildlife invasions. Screens were vented, all eaves sealed, the chimney capped for rodents, under-house venting checked and all entry holes closed off. They also checked every single air duct to make sure no shenanigans had occurred in them and that there was no damage. All of this was included in one price.

So yeah, we now live in an impenetrable FORTRESS.

30 days post roof-rats, they came to check the traps in the attic. Not only were they empty and none of the bait touched, there wasn’t so much as a paw print in the brand new insulation.

Seriously, fortress.

When Icepocalypse 2013 hit, we really got to see how well insulated our home is. When it started warming up outside and everyone’s roofs were dripping water, our roof retained an even layer of snow and ice across it, gradually warming, but slower than every house on the block. Ok, we don’t just live in a fortress. We live in a Hot Pocket. This bad boy is about as green as you can get for a 1938 home with the new roof (thank you hail storm of 2012) and rodent free cellulose insulation. If I ever hear that noise again…. I just have to call Critter Control!

Rats on Patricia (19)And by the way, the reason Husband never heard it – he sleeps with ear plugs due to the menagerie of dog snores. Perhaps I’m not that crazy after all….

As a side note, I was shocked by how many people with small children – like crawling on the ground-age small children – confessed to having had rodent infestation issues but put out poison and do not do removal/professional clean up to “keep costs down.” I’m sorry – you want to keep costs down so you let your kiddo crawl around near rat poison, urine, and feces, and are fine with that?Cassie

YIKES. I have nothing else to say in print but, yikes!

 

mineola-small-23Ola — wanted to introduce you to one of our shining new expert contributors on SecondShelters.com… 

As a quick intro, my name is Dallas Addison, and my passion is real estate.  I’m trained as a lawyer and have helped many clients throughout the country buy, sell, develop and manage all types of  real estate over the years, with a  particular focus on recreational and hospitality-based real estate,  such as golf courses, resorts, ranches, second homes, etc.  I’m also a founding principal of Preservation Land Company, which has created several incredible (if I may say so) conservation-based recreational ranches near Dallas and worked on projects in Montana,  Hawaii and New Mexico.  On the educational side, I’m a long-time member of the Recreation Development Council  of the Urban Land Institute, a  global organization of leaders in the  real estate industry  whose mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.

So  why am I boring you with a bio?  Because I want to share with you interesting things that are going on in recreational real estate (which we’ll broadly define) and we think it’s important to know that your source is not only reliable but actually 100% involved in the industry.

I also have a personal interest in how sustainability concepts are applied in recreational real estate.   While completely overused, the concept of sustainability still has merit.   Locally, it’s darn hot here and by the looks of our rapidly dropping lakes, we’re using lots of water.  Plus, our area is quickly growing, one way or the other, putting even more stress on our resources.  We should be looking to make choices that create better and more livable communities.  So, where I see interesting and innovative sustainability practices being applied, I want to share those as well.

Finally, how  did I connect with Candy?  Well, interestingly, her husband unexpectedly delivered our first daughter, but that’s not actually how we met.  We bumped into each other years ago as we share a passion for real estate. She came out to visit one of our projects, Cross Pines Ranch near Mineola.  We’ve had many interesting conversations about what’s going on in this space and we thought others might want to listen in on the conversation.

Stick around,  and I think you’ll  enjoy the ride. I’ll be posting on SecondShelters.com, the sister site for vacation properties, but we will be sure and let you know when we post by including a teaser here on CandysDirt.

Next up—the Aspen report (just in time for ski season) and Cross Pines Ranch... over on SecondShelters.com.

 

 

Woman tied up in pickup screen shotHave you seen this? Thank God, it’s not an actual woman tied up in the back of a pick-up truck, it’s an ad for a company in Waco, Texas that makes decals for trucks. They thought it would be a good move to make a super realistic decal depicting a woman tied up in the back of a pickup truck. According to Business Insider it was intended to be an experiment to show off the company’s decal-making capabilities. Instead, some people are making 911 calls, thinking the image is real.

The “lifelike”decal is the work of Hornet Signs, a Waco marketing and advertising company business owned by Brad Kolb. Kolb told KWTX that his business has received “an influx in tailgate decal orders since the sticker has hit the streets a month ago.

“I wasn’t expecting the reactions we got, nor do we condone this by any means,” Kolb added. But apparently he condones it enough to use an image of violence against women to represent his business. A female company employee even posed for it!

Kolb said it was something he wanted to “put out there, to see who notices it.”

Well guess what, people are noticing and wondering if it is horse manure or fertilizer that has seeped into your head. I cannot even imagine what kind of decals he might come up with for a real estate company!

 

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