The first flowers of spring

Siberian Squill, a type of scilla start to bloom shortly after the snow melts. Here in South Eastern Minnesota. I love the color of these little flowers. They are small and tend to grow in clumps which makes them easy to spot. 

Siberian Squill
Siberian Squill

we should start to see them soon . . . if the snow ever melts. There are buds on some of the trees and I can see some crocus and iris poking up.   

Three years ago today St. Paul was under an emergency order

It is March again and I am remembering March 16, 2020, which was a Monday.  That is the day the “stay at home” orders went into effect in St. Paul.  Here is what I wrote on the day:

“The Mayor of St. Paul declared a state of local emergency to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  The schools are closed and so are the libraries and the zoo. Water shutoffs will be suspended for 30 days and permits will not be issued for gatherings of more than 50 people.

Social distancing is recommended and that means putting some space between yourself and others. Six feet is recommended.”


I think the pandemic was life-changing for all of us but I don’t think everyone realizes it.  I went grocery shopping without wearing a mask for the first time in three years this past February. No one in my household or immediate family got Covid-19. I am the only member of my family who was never tested for Covid-19.

No one in my household has had a cold or the flu either.  We all got the vaccinations and boosters as soon as we could.

We did not celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with family in 2020. We had a family gathering for Thanksgiving in 2021 but none for Christmas. In 2022 we had family gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

While people were traveling last summer we stayed home. I know many people who contracted Covid after traveling or attending an event.

My income went way down because of the pandemic and my reluctance to become infected or to bring the virus into my house. Our household spending went way down and is not going back up.

Cash offers and closing costs

coinsThere are always closing costs when buying real estate. Most closing costs are related to the loan. There are origination fees and the buyer pays for the appraisal. In Minnesota, there is a mortgage registration tax. There is a fee for the buyer’s credit report and more.

Home buyers with financing will get a good faith estimate and will know what the closing costs will be. Generally, the buyer can expect to pay closing costs that will add up 3% of the sale price. Sometimes buyers ask the seller to help pay the closing costs.

When the buyer is paying cash they will still pay for title insurance, a closing fee, a title search, and a few more fees. Prorated taxes and HOA fees. There is no good faith estimate. The best way to find out what the closing costs will be is to get an estimate from the title company that will do the title work and the closing.

The closing costs for an all-cash offer are much lower than what they are when the purchase is being financed.

With a cash offer, the buyer needs to make sure they have enough cash to pay for the real estate and the closing costs. Asking the seller to pay the closing costs is exactly the same as paying less. Sellers do not like to pay the buyers closing costs.

When the purchase is being financed we understand that the buyer may not have enough cash for downpayment and closing costs.

People who are offering cash should get an estimate of what the closing costs will be and make sure that they have enough cash to buy the property and pay the closing costs.

Buying real estate always costs more than the sale price.

Some folks are freaking out over electric lawmowers

There is a bill in the Minnesota House: HF 1715 authored by Rep. Jerry Newton, DFL-Coon Rapids, and Rep. Heather Edelson, DFL-Edina, would require all new lawn and garden equipment sold in the state to be fully electric by Jan. 1, 2025, including leaf blowers, chainsaws, brush cutters, lawn edgers and more.

I have a gas mower. I have seen the newest battery-operated electric mowers and am looking forward to buying one when my mower dies.  The old electric mowers were pretty bad. They had cords which made them hard to use.

The newer electric lawnmowers have batteries that are fairly small.  They make a low less noise than gas mowers and they don’t need gas. They start with the push of a button. Upper body strength is not required. There is no carburetor to get all gummed up. I would rather not have a grass lawn at all.

I can only imagine the kerfuffle, and the pearl-clutching it would cause if gas mowers were no longer sold in Minnesota.

Some folks are really upset over the idea of gas stoves instead of electric. At this point, I am replacing gas appliances with electric. Yes, I love cooking on my gas stove but I am willing to give it up for cleaner air and for energy efficiency and maybe even save a buck or two on the utility bills. I like the idea of an on-demand electric water heater too.

They take up less space and there isn’t a big tank with water that can leak or rupture. They don’t have pilot lights and there is no danger of a gas leak.

I do think that anyone who wants one should be able to have a gas stove in their home. Stoves are indoors and they are not noisy like a lawn mower.

alfalfa and grass
Alfalfa and grasses