Friday, November 23, 2007

Racoons in the Trash

There is a racoon living on our property–actually, a family of racoons. We thought this was pretty cool a few months ago when we decided to buy a timeworn, if not stately, house on the utmost western tip of the Chicago city limits. Our property virtually abuts a forest preserve to the north and a Metra commuter train stop to the south–a line whose tracks are also shared by Amtrak and what remains of the Illinois Central Railroad (the latter would be freight trains btw). Note to self: Spend an entire night in the next house I buy before cutting the final earnest money check for escrow. It’s all good, though.

There are also deer, I shat you not. Now I don’t eat venison, nor do I hunt, but if one more forest preserve denizen bolts in front of my BMW on my way to or from civilization, then I’m picking up a freezer at Costco and a red plaid jacket like every other husband in the neighborhood, if you get my meaning (hey guys, it’s Chicagohello?). Racoons, deer, and plaid are everywhere around here. Trains, too. This place is lousy with trains.

Deep breath…

But as usual, I overstate. If I didn’t find myself in such a hurry all the time and if I didn’t fancy myself as one of the few ’on call’ realtors in this new, ‘always open’ real estate millennium, I might actually be able to kick back and enjoy the implicit Americana of it all; the romantic clanging of the conductors’ bells (yes, I can see real live train conductors right out the window of my library–an actual little front room parlor with french doors at one entrance, a pocket door at the other, and a massive picture window looking out over the plantation columned veranda and beyond), the oversized city parcels ripe with foilage and wildlife, and the 1890s Victorian architecture that dots the streets and lanes of this unlikely whistle stop community. And even as I write, a Currier and Ives snowfall dusts this postcard setting known as Forest Glen, which, unlike the Classics of Lakeview Condominiums from where my wife and I just moved (neither classic nor anywhere near a view of the lake), boasts both a forest and a glen...of sorts. But it’s the racoons that are bothering me today.

They remind me of those people who dabble, or aspire to dabble, in foreclosures–the tablescraps left over from the main course that didn’t make it into the refrigerator. And since I’m pretty much dialed into REWeb 2.0, these folks are on both my website and my blog almost daily.

“What do you know about foreclosures?” they usually inquire (a question, by the way, any expert in the field has yet to ever pose to me) in response to my ‘Thank you for registering on my site /I am unable to locate my iphone at this time’ Auto-Reply.

“I know more than you,” I want to respond, “and I don’t go near them.”

Which is really to say, ’Leave that mess up to the experts/If you have to ask, then…/Stop watching late night cable/Get a real estate license, complete your CE credits, and pay your MLS dues like the rest of us so called professionals…’

In other words, I’m not a fan of this volatile housing market trend or most of the amateur quick money investors who hope to exploit it. There are a handful of pros in this town who dominate the entire foreclosure sector and whatever properties remain after they are done passing the basket (back and forth to each other, mostly) are not worth sinking a nickle into, in my opinion. What’s left is generally garbage, barely worth its landfill value.

Q. How does a racoon, with his head stuck in the trash, react when a greater force of nature sneaks up upon him?

A. Like a deer in headlights. BAM! (Hey, it’s this realtor’s attempt at a scavenger/roadkill allegory, if not apologue.) Anyway…

I was laying awake late the other evening, counting boxcars; 47, 48, 49… and staring at the dancing shadows on my bedroom ceiling. Beneath the rumble I swore I heard a distant howl. I looked over at the silhouette outline of my sleeping wife laying across the bed; back facing me, cat between us, eyemask on, ear plugs in. I reached over and tapped her shoulder as I sensed the caboose (car number 67 or so, and still no closer to dreamland for me) nearing. It was quiet now.

“I think I just heard a coyote.”

She rustled for a second and I’m pretty sure I heard her reply, half asleep and offering it out to the Universe in general from her own dreamland, most likely ….

“Darling I love you but give me Park Avenue…”

Geno Petro

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