‘Lifestyle & Community’


Rarely have I considered myself to be ahead of the times. In fact, I pride myself more on being behind-the-times.  And I’m not trying to be smarter than anyone else, it’s more a matter of what I can handle.  Couldn’t handle Facebook. Can’t afford apple phones, (I know, iphones) It’s the old k.i.s.s. theory; keep it simple stupid.


But then last week I find myself in a class about Instagram. Have been told lately that it’s going to be all the rage with the younger people moving forward. Feel like it’s important to at least try and keep up with some of these platforms, I am in business after all. So I’m sitting there in this room with quite a few older people, as well as a smattering of younger people.  Guy starts talking “branding,” and “color schemes” and then goes into all the apps that a person can use to manipulate photos and pictures and such.  Lost me.


But about half way through, the whole dialogue turns to “Lifestyle and Community.” “Instead of just posting listings he says, try and talk more about lifestyle and community happenings where you live.” I sit back, kind of look around the room, people are nodding their heads in agreement. He then proceeds to spend the next 45 minutes re-iterating the same point.


The whole time I’m thinking to myself, ‘We’ve been doing this for years here at the 032, starting way-back with My friend Josh. Been talking about chickens, trucks, restaurants, church events, vacation spots, camping trailers, Mittens the mountain lion, home maintenance and on and on. 67 posts worth. So, maybe for once I’m ahead of the game?’


But I’m not ahead of the game. Never will be. Have to remember who we are in these moments. It’s confirming to think that the Lifestyle & Community concept is gaining traction in social media. Just always seemed like a good idea to me.  Also thought this was a good way to tell people about what I do while not making it out to be a resume.


The concept of adapting to another platform however, seems almost disingenuous at this point. Like, I might loose some street-cred if I start getting techie. Shouldn’t even be talking about Instagram.


Instagram is probably going to be the platform of the future. It’s more ambiguous and creative and for the younger generation, easy. The blog is story telling with words (some funny pictures too!). I enjoy the writing and for myself prefer to read stuff on the world-wide-web as opposed to watching videos.  Call me old school, call me crazy, but I’ll stick with what I’m doing.  Always wanted to be a writer, now I am… kind of?  Ain’t giving that up. So for now, we’ll just keep on, keeping on.


Big Happenings


Guess I’m what you call resilient, only took me a little over a month to finally get over the trauma of the Purple’s collapse in the NFC Championship.  Oh well, next year, eh? Thought I would soak my disappointment in the hot tub I found on the side of the road, but I haven’t been able to get it up and going yet.  Guys that helped me move it on to the property apparently don’t know how to do electrical work.  Hard to find good help these days.


Aside from all that fun, business continues to churn here in the desert. Last month, the owner of my real estate brokerage, Dominion Fine Homes, texts me early one morning and say’s, “Need to see you asap. It’s of urgency and importance.”  So I go meet with her and say, “Don’t tell me your closing up shop and moving over to the evil empire? (Rhymes with Buss Ryon)?”  ‘Yup’ she says, “But hey do you want to buy the company?”  ‘What?’


Decided that it was go time, this is my shot. Though it hadn’t been on my radar in any way, Dominion Fine Homes is now headquartered out of my garage over here at 63rd Place. We have 16 seasoned agents ready and able to help you with all your real estate needs.  And with an already strong foothold in the Cave Creek / Carefree area we’ll be looking to expand and grow into other markets as we move forward.  If anyone knows of a good agent who is shopping their license, tell’em to give me a call and we can talk some shop.

Newest 3-1-18

So what’s going to happen to Son Volt Properties?  The plan is to continue providing concierge/residential services to my existing clients.  If the right situation(s) arise, I’ll consider taking on more properties.


Last thought. Feels like everything is always going one way while I’m going in the opposite direction.  Recognized this a long time ago, but man or woman, a person’s just got to be who they are. It can be tiring though. But I think about ol’ Ray Crock, the McDonald’s guy, selling those milk shake mixers out of the back of his trunk into his early 50’s.  Why would he keep doing that? He had already found some moderate success in life; at 50, why not slow down? But he knew he was laying ground work for something bigger, he just didn’t know what it was yet. Then he found McDonald’s and he knew exactly what he had been looking for.


Aside from working as a Realtor, I’ve also spent a lot of years now working off the back of the truck, filling every property need that came my way.  Yeah concierge is a nice title, but peal off the shiny label and it’s more janitorial work than anything. How many times I said to myself, ‘Keep going, there has to be value in this.’  Think ol’ Ray Crock was thinking the same thing when he was lugging those mixers around.


Ready for take off?


‘Haven’t I seen you before?’


Have a theory that winter in Phoenix starts at the beginning of December, three weeks before the winter solstice and ends about middle of January, three weeks after the solstice.  Generally it’s in that time we’ll get some winter rain and possibly a freeze, then it’s over and skies are sunny again. Love it. Really, the only thing that makes it still feel like winter is the NFL Playoffs. cropped_2017-10-10T040605Z_145046058_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NFL-MINNESOTA-VIKINGS-AT-CHICAGO-BEARS

Speaking of which, remember the show Friday Night Lights? If you don’t know it, it was a show about a high school football team set in the fictional town of Dillan Texas. It was based on HG Bissinger’s book of the same name from 1990 that chronicled the 1988 season of Permian High from Odessa Texas. It ran on NBC from 2006-2011.

Great show. Did you ever wonder what happened to QB #1 Matt Saracen? He was that scrappy, undersized kid everybody wanted to replace, but all he did was win.  A little engine that could type. Can’t say I have thought about him much, but then this year he showed up as the starting QB for the Minnesota Vikings. Only he’s changed his name to Case Keenum. Can’t fool me though, I’d know that diminutive little QB anywhere.

Funny thing, Keenum is actually a kid from Texas who’s bio is not a whole lot different from the Saracen character. Keenum too led his HS team to a Texas state championship. And while he did nothing but win, like the Saracen character, none of the big colleges were interested in him because of his size. Yet, years later here’s Keenum in the NFL, not only starting, but successfully guiding my favorite purple warriors from the north to a division title. Won’t say how far he is going to take them in the playoffs, it’s been a heartbreaking history eh? But I like our chances.

Vikings Carter 1995

Keep praying Cris!

Lastly, my friend Mittens has gone missing. He was last seen being dragged away by police. Hope he got out of that one. image000000

If he shows up on your doorstep, watch out, he bites.


Am I going to have to feed them?


Was recently convinced it would be a good idea to build a chicken coup and get some chickens.  “Oh, the fresh eggs are wonderful and the kids will love it” I was told.  Okay, fresh eggs sound good. So using mainly scraps stored around the property I constructed a first class coup.  (Coup before chicken). Then loaded up the little turkeys and took them down to the Western Ranchman Store in the 032 and picked out 3 chicks. We now have Chirpy-Burpee, Luna and Hawk residing in the back yard.

Will say, thus far the experience has been enjoyable and… really fun for the kids. For the most part the chickens are pretty funny.  They almost never leave each others side, always walking in some sort of circle because three chickens walking in a straight line is seemingly impossible.  Then the other night the chicks started chirping like crazy; thought something was eating their heads.  I go out to see what the commotion is about and there’s an owl just sitting in a tree about 50 yards away watching them.  Was a bit surprised the chickens were even aware of the owl, but they were.  So for now, until they get a little bigger, we are bringing them in for the evening. We now have chickens residing in the house.  Where are my eggs?


Want to talk a little more about the Western Ranchmans Store where we bought the chicks.  Maybe driven by this place a couple hundred times.  It sits just south of Bell on 32nd St; has the horse out front painted with the Arizona flag.  It’s interesting because they have been there since 1966, (had no idea?) and has been family owned the whole time. The property consists of at least an acre, it’s huge.  Behind the store they have every type of feed, including dog food, a person would want.  And is’t neat because they have little building facades in front of the feed barns, so its like a little western town.


The store itself is really cool too.  All the practical items like tools, saddles, hats, as well some vintage cowboy suff, ie spurs and buckles and bracelets.  It’s the kind of store you’d want to stop and checkout even if it didn’t seem like it was for you. Attached link below.  They have a really good website and have more info about their history.  Check it out!



Have an anecdote about the amount of horse property that still exists in North Phoenix and Cave Creek but I’ll save it for next time.  My last thought is about this dry spell we are in  right now.  Most of us in the North Valley haven’t had rain since the end of the monsoon in August. I’m not complaining, like that sun shining everyday.  But air quality really becomes a problem and a good rain would help freshen it up, at least temporarily. That said, we are at .35 less of inch from the annual average ytd.  That’s pretty close to normal. Guess it was all that rain last spring.

Season:1 6.47 in
6.82 in
Diff from Avg:11
Under 0.35 in for the year 0.35 in




“Time to move on. Time to get going. What lies ahead I have no way of knowing.”

                                                                                                                        RIP Tom Petty

It’s been an odd fall.  Lot-o-change (I don’t like change) beginning with the last of my 3 of my little turkeys starting kindergarten full time. It’s hard to believe they are growing up so fast!?! With that, life got a little quieter, at least some of the time. Still, it can be hard to move on.

imagesNVTTMIUCSpeaking of moving on… to compound that feeling, one of the big properties I manage sold this summer and the new owners are not need of my services.  Had that property for almost 4 years. Still mange a couple others in that community, so I do a drive-by about once a week (not weird at all).

348sTo commiserate I found myself drowning my sorrows at a place called “Burritoholics” in Cave Creek.  Think they may have the best burritos in all of Phoenix. As my friend Corey in the 331 says, “They’re so good!” If you happen up that way, stop in and have one… even if you don’t have sorrows to drown .

Fast forward to last week. We got the band back together. My kids were on fall break and we took a couple day trip to Tucson. A chance to bond and reconnect. After some hiking and swimming at our hotel, The Westward Look Resort (very underrated old place), we went to the Pima Air and Space Museum.  It was pretty cool; very well run, loto planes, not too expensive, overall pretty good action.


The Westward is in that northern corridor of Tuscon that butts up the Catalina Mountains as is the little more fancy Lowes Ventana. Been that way a few times now.  It’s not the “painted desert,” though it is pretty.  But it’s Tucson, a U-turn town if there ever was one. Make me nuts eh?


Finally we returned in time for the weekend and to cap things off we had some friends and friends of friends over for grilling, fish-fry, chicken tacos and tortilla soup.  Sort of a celebration for no reason.  The kids played and laughed and the parents relaxed and had fun. It was a great end to the week. Think I’ll be able to lay off the burritos for awhile.

mom20and20me-page-001-e1508865924595.jpgLastly want to give a shout out to my wonderful Mother who turned 75 this month.  She’s the toughest, most resilient person I know. I also give her credit for encouraging my craziness.  Wouldn’t be who I am with out her. Happy Birthday Mom! I love you.




Miss Mini

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Have a different type of post today.  One of the properties I manage sold last month. In it sat an awesome little 2007 Mini Cooper.  The owner called her “Miss Mini” and because I would drive the car, at their request, while they were not here, my kids picked up on the name. So Miss Mini it is.

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My now former clients were from Manhattan and when the house closed they offered to sell me Miss Mini because they no longer had any use for a car.  Did think about keeping it because the mileage is so low, but it does not seat three growing children, nor does it haul tools, supplies or whatever other stuff I always seem to be loaded up with. Though it is fun to drive.

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Will say, there was always a thought in my head that I may have a chance to buy Miss Mini one day.  Because of this, I made sure she was serviced and maintained.  Even had the fluids changed out at one point because they were old.  That, along with the low miles makes this a really good used car.

Let me know if you are interested in buying.  Have it listed on CarGurus.com


The Founder

200153Could be I’m just getting old, but my general barometer for a good movie these days is if I stay awake. “The Founder,” which came out this past spring certainly kept me awake.  My favorite “Mr Mom,” Michael Keaton, stars as McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc.  In a nut shell, the film chronicles McDonald’s rise from small burger joint in California to the franchise juggernaut it is today.  The story is told primarily from the perspective of Kroc who stumbles upon the McDonald brothers and their San Bernardino restaurant in 1955. He witnesses their attention to detail and the incredible “Speedy System” the brothers have created for their kitchen. Kroc then sells them on the idea of franchising and the rest as they say, is history.

I remember reading a review of the film when it was released. It gave me the impression that Kroc was some sort of monster who stole the McDonald’s from the McDonald brothers. At the time,  I thought, ‘I’ll pass on that one.’ But a few weeks ago I came across the film at Red Box. (Yes, we still use Red Box. What’s Netflix?)

To my surprise, I found “The Founder” to be really interesting and excellent story telling . And while Kroc is vilified for his ruthless drive, I found myself inspired by his grit and tenaciousness and ‘persistence.’ In spite of everyone, including the McDonald brothers, telling him, “Franchising can’t be done.” He did it.  And even more interesting, he was not a young man at this point in his life, he was in his early 50’s, an age when most men are looking to slow down or have slowed down.  How many people have their greatest success after 50?

'Let's face it.  We can't agree on anything.'After watching it twice, I tell my wife, “You got to see this movie. Ray Kroc is my new hero.” (I tend to live in hyperbole). So we sit down and watch and when it’s over, she tells me she thinks Ray Kroc is an awful man. ‘What!?!’ Got me thinking though.

The idea here at the 032 is to stay light and leave politics and other hot button issues to other people. But we live in an extremely divisive age.  Like a lot of people, my values have been challenged by the politics playing out before us.  Maybe when I was younger, before I was married and had kids, I would have been more offended by Kroc and his business practices. Maybe I would have felt worse for the McDonald brothers for having their life’s work swooped out from underneath them. But I don’t. If the McDonald brothers simply wanted to keep their one location and operate it the rest of their lives, they should have kicked Ray Kroc to the curb when he proposed franchising.  Moreover, the McDonald brothers were smart guys, they should have looked out for themselves. They were grown men too.

democrat-socialism-cartoon-102308We’re sitting here in this day and age where government continually argues about how it’s going to take care of everyone.  Give everyone healthcare, give everyone social security, allow the refugees throughout the world to come here.  It sounds good. But guess what? There ain’t enough to go around. Part of the United States ability to play Mother Theresa to the world is partly because of the successes of the Ray Kroc’s. Strong capitalism with economically stable upper and middle classes, and a shrunken lower class. That’s the only way socialistic policies work.

419635_337139943005684_244753448911001_958656_659601414_nIn reality, I relate more to the McDonald brothers. I like systems. I like working on a small scale. The idea of having one restaurant and running it very well is appealing.  But that’s probably why I’ll always be small time. Nothing wrong with that. But it doesn’t drive tax dollars, and without some big-time movers and shakers out there, I can’t operate my boutique, mom and pop business. So I’m ok overlooking some ruthlessness. Because to give it away, you first have to have it. And this is how we got it.

I’m not blind, I can see where my wife and reviewers of the film thought Kroc was over the top. He could have, should have, honored his “hand shake” deal with the brothers. Believe people can be successful in business and still be honest. No question. But seeing this portrayal of a guy working his tail-off, selling milk-shake mixers out of the back of his car before finding his greatest success should be nothing more than inspiring and motivating to everyone.  And that’s that.


“The Duce”


This is the long sought after Part II of my last post, “You want new?” In that post we discussed ‘what’ type of home people people are looking for. In Part II we’ll look more closely at ‘where’ people want to live in the Valley.

MI0002115431Think we can all agree that the draw of Phoenix is undeniable. Being that we now have the 5th largest population in the country sort of confirms this point.  And with all these people spilling in here, Phoenician culture continues to evolve and grow. Even my favorite band Son Volt came this spring. (See Crescent Ball Room). We have arrived.

Believe the cultural growth is rooted in the next gereration growing up here and not being from somewhere else. Gives certain neighborhoods a deeper identity. Communities like Central Phx, Arcadia and North Phx are now more distinctive than they have been in the past. There’s just a more mature selection of restaurants and stores. And with Downtown booming with great musical venues, theater and sports, these neighborhoods provide easy access.

funny-picture-house-window-grill-engineerBut here’s the thing.  Somewhere in this Valley; there is something for everyone. And there are plenty of people who prefer the outskirts of the Valley.  In fact the outskirts of the west and east valley’s have always been a sort of a haven for new residents. Why? Cheap new housing. Can’t argue with that.  Generally the developments accompany new infrastructure such as the 303 or something like Mesa Gateway Airport that now makes the area viable. Much of the time this will also attract a lot of young first-time home buyers that are looking to grow their families with community around them. It can also be quite scenic out that’er way. But good luck on those freeways eh? 70c5797a8e2fc909ab4429d1f12e8c41And yeah, you better like Chilis and other chain restaurants. (Aint nothing wrong with Chilis.

The opportunity to buy new within the city becomes a little more complicated. As I’m sure most Phoenicians have seen, because of the sprawl, over the years many ‘interior plots’ of land were skipped over.  A builder looks at a plot that has a good location, but he can’t build enough homes on it to make a buck.  So he finds something a little further out that he can do some volume on.  Now years later there have been pockets within the belt-way that are sort of screaming for development.  (Looks weird to have big empty spaces in densely populated areas).  But builders weren’t make any money unless they built multi-level condos. And after the great recession they have. They sell for 200k+ and hey, they go fast. But if someone wants ‘new’ and still be close to Downtown, a condo is probably the way to go.

6ad2474926abba5dce37be1fae8ee6c3--sanford-and-son-morning-memesUp in Cave Creek is a little different. Development isn’t quite as far along.  And the remaining plots of land that have been skipped over are larger than down in the city. Because of this the builders are still putting houses on them.  But this isn’t like 25 years ago when they would build 2500 homes over 4 square miles.  The new developments are 60-100 homes packed in whatever space they have, zero lot lines. And sometimes, these new developments don’t always mesh with the existing landscape.  You may end up with Sanford and Son living across from the entry of your new development. (Sanford couldn’t be bought out). And we’re not talking entry level pricing here either, these places start at 400k and run up to a million+ in various sub-divisions (rhymes with Boll Truthers).

873cc9fccc724f6721b9a5535934e849--funny-shit-funny-stuffWhy pay such a premium? For those that are past the starter home phase or looking to get out of the rat race.  Cave Creek is the place to be.  Along with having a really cool cowboy town near by, it also has good access to Scottsdale, North Phx and the West Valley.  But the main thing that has always been a no brainer about Cave Creek is the fact that it butts up to Tonto National Forrest. This is great if you love boating and the outdoors because the access is right there. But from a real estate perspective it also caps the development moving north.  If you go east, west or south in the Valley, sprawl goes on and on.  One minute your living at the end of civilization with views of forever, next thing you know your property values have just taken a dive because they started a new housing development across the street and the houses are bigger, but cheaper. Not cool.

3c9efc7724774233813bcb7736494f67--real-estate-humor-real-estate-tipsUltimately there are a multitude of great places to live in the Valley.  Have even heard people rave about how great Maricopa (the city) is.  Will take their word for it, I’ve never been to Maricopa and wouldn’t try to sell anyone on living there. Think for buyers, having these conversations with a Realtor can be very productive and informative.  To arrive in this vast valley and think, “I’ll just look everywhere” is probably a little naïve.  A person will probably just become more confused by the process. But hey, looking for a home should be fun. Just need to do some homework eh?