Secrets

secrets

I love secrets.  I know quite a few. We all have a couple tucked away in our memory bank.

Maybe it’s about a family member, a co-worker, a friend who turned to you and trusted you enough to share.  Then, we have to decide–are we keepers or ones who like to share?

Some things start out as secrets, but in time, we all find out.  Putting years between us and the uglier truths seem to make it OK to share.

I recently was privy to the story behind the Christa compound.  Now a religious broadcast facility, senior housing and the home of King’s Schools in Shoreline, Washington,  it once was a tuberculosis hospital.  What’s even better is that there are a series of tunnels underneath which were used to remove the bodies of people who died from the disease.  It sounds like a great urban myth, but actually true.

However, I was not prepared for a story I heard recently and because of its nature and the fact that the person involved is still living, I have to be a bit vague.

The woman who shared this powerful truth swears it’s true.  Now, I should point out that she is a life-long Democrat. Say the “R” word and she’ll get a stern look. Her daughter will be among the first to tell you that her 90+ year mom loves to pass along her stories.  But this one is a real shocker.

As I sat at the table next to her, she began by asking, “You know how President Roosevelt died, don’t you?”   Wanting to show off my knowledge of her generation, I matched her matter-of-fact manner and said, “Sure.  He was sitting at his desk, uttered the words, ‘I have a terrific headache’, had a stroke and died.”

“That’s not what really happened,” she replied.

FDR

According to her, she was working that day at the “Georgia White House.”  It was where FDR got away and relaxed, along with his girlfriend.  Our storyteller said she had been brought in as a staff member and that she was no more than 3-feet away from the president when he ended his life.

The president’s health was not good and he was confined to bed.  That day, a secret service agent removed his gun, and put it down by a bedside table.  Why?  Unknown. But she said she watched as the president quickly reached over for it and before anyone could stop him, shot himself in the side of the head.

Everyone was in shock.  The head of staff told those present to pack up their bags and prepare to leave and ordered that no one was to tell anyone what had taken place.

Now, I’ll be honest–I had never heard this theory before.  But she told it to me like it was God’s truth.  Remember, this is a dyed-in-the-wood Democrat, so why would she want to tarnish the memory of one of the great D-presidents of all time?  Now, hop on Google and you’ll see lots of other similar stories that are circulating about this rumored suicide.  Noting the times and the fact that FDR was not allowed to be photographed in his wheelchair, it wouldn’t surprise me that a presidential suicide would be swept under the rug.

So, that’s the secret.  I’m hoping to interview her soon, so that some day I can share with you the passion and detail with which she told her story.  Otherwise, you’ll probably have to wait another generation or two before finding out what actually happened that day.

Until then, now you know the secret.

Are you a keeper or one who likes to share?

Tim Hunter

One of Life’s Little Lessons

lessons-in-life

So, as I begin to detach myself from the Bothell home I’m in the process of selling, I noticed that the garage door opener had a pretty loose button.  It worked, but it was obvious that it wasn’t long for this world.

On page 284 of the “Nice Guy” manual, it says that I should probably get a replacement for it.  I went to Smile.Amazon.com (the charity arm of their website–they offer the same stuff, but if you order there, a portion of your purchase goes to the charity of your choice!  See, you’ll actually learn two things in this blog) and saw that a couple of replacements would set me back $20.  Done deal.

When they arrived, I popped them open to set the code to the same one as the worn-out remote.  That’s when I made the discovery–during the entire 9 years I owned the home, the garage door opener code was the same as the default code from the factory.  The two new ones were already set to “up-down-up-down….etc.”

The lesson here:  if you inherited your garage door openers from a previous owner or just used them the way they came, any burglar could drive along your street holding a button down and open your garage door.

I should have known better.  I’ve often told the story of my old Bothell neighborhood, where we had an ongoing problem with a garage door that just opened randomly.  I’d come home from work and it was open.  I’d be out washing the car and it would close on it’s own.

Then one day, I happened to be at the right angle.  As our door began to close by itself, I looked up and saw our neighbor pulling into his driveway as his garage door was opening up.  I grabbed my remote, walked down to his house and hit the button.  Sure enough, his door started closing.  It seems we had BOTH left it on the default code.

So, now I’ve given your brain another wrinkle and provided some wisdom when it comes to garage door openers.  I also may have inspired would-be burglars, but that’s the risk you take in a free society.

Don’t do it.

Tim Hunter

Anybody Seen My Old Friend Jon

I only hung out with Jon Lemler for three or four years.

Actually, I’ve known Jon a total of 40+ years. But the time we spent together at Torrance High School amounted to no more than a max of three years. Back in those days, you went to elementary school, then high school. Grades 1-8 and then off to grades 9-12. I had heard the terms “middle school” and “junior high”, but they didn’t apply to my world.

With that big of a jolt, 9th grade for me was mostly spent getting used to this whole new existence. After all, I had only been in public schools two years, after attending a Lutheran school my first six grades. Being a new kid means getting picked on, laughed at and even the occasional threat of being beaten up. Ironically, it was my sense of humor that saved me several times and eventually, the bullies came to like me. I discovered that comedy was a great way to win people over.

With something like 5 elementary schools all contributing to Torrance High School, there were a lot of new faces and personalities. Somewhere along the way I met this white kid wearing an Afro-style haircut named Jon Lemler. If I remember it right, I became good friends with a couple of guys who attended the same elementary school as Jon, so  eventually we all started hanging out together.

I don’t think Jon was a jock or played music. He may have been in choir or the chess club, I just don’t know. All I remember is him being a little quirky, sorta funny and that he had mastered a talent of which I was highly envious—he could play music with his hands.

Now that we’re over 40 years removed from those high school days, actual memories are pretty limited. But one that almost everyone who knew Jon will likely remember is that evening at “Senior Talent Night.” Being a class president, I thought it would be fun to have a talent show and so, Jon took the stage and tore the house down with his version of “Pop Goes the Weasel” on his hands.

That skill came up every five or ten years when we managed to gather again for a class reunion. I have to say that Jon and I probably became better friends after high school than during.

Eventually, Jon took those magic hands and wandered into Chiropractic care and naturopathic medicine. Every reunion, while the rest of us continued our outward expansion, Jon continued looking pretty good. Down right healthy.

So, when another classmate started an email this week with the words, “I have some sad news to pass along”, Jon’s name was the last one I expected to see.   It seems he was attending a convention in Las Vegas earlier this month, when he suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack, at age 60.

I know Jon meant a lot to so many people—his family, his patients, his classmates. But he also played a big part in the life of my wife, Victoria, who felt compelled to write down her thoughts earlier today:

To The Friends & Family of Dr. Jonathan Lemler:

I met Dr. Lemler at a Torrance High School reunion as he was a classmate of my husband, Tim Hunter.  I believe this was the summer of 2008.  We began talking about our lives and the subject of me having been diagnosed with a kidney disease came up in our conversation. On one hand he was not very optimistic for me, but the more he thought about it, and he thought about it after the reunion as well, he emailed my husband and suggested a treatment for my liver, mushroom in origin, that would help my liver so it could support my kidneys. Up until this time my stats were not moving much in the positive direction. Once I started this treatment the numbers began to improve.  With a combination of this treatment, my naturopath and nephrologist, my kidneys slowly edged toward remission.  By 2011, my numbers were normal again. I will never forgot how much he cared, how hard he worked to help save my life because in fact, that is what he did.

He will be missed and I am extremely grateful to have known him.

Victoria Hunter

Seattle, WA

What more can I say other than I wish to God I could have had one more chance to say thanks for all you did, for Victoria and myself. God’s peace.

And for those who didn’t see it earlier on Facebook, here’s a clip of Jon from our 20-year reunion.

Too soon, man. Too soon.

Tim Hunter

Yes, It’s Hot in February

Here we go!

Here we go!

I’ll be honest. When I heard the news stories talking about this being “a seller’s market”, I was thinking when it came to my involvement that would mean a “Peter Sellers market.”

After all, when I bought my Bothell home back in 2006, I was watching house prices escalate at a phenomenal rate. Part of my inspiration to buy was the feeling that if I didn’t buy now, it wouldn’t be long until I wouldn’t be able to afford a house in Seattle.

So, when my real estate dude Bruce Fulton found this little 3-bedroom home backed up against a greenbelt in Bothell, I made a run at it. And, to make sure we got it, I gave them an offer $3,000 over the asking price of $367,000.

It was right after the ink dried on that contract that the signal was given for the economy to crash and the housing industry to bust unlike it had done in the last 100 years.

But, no worries. I was in this for the long haul.  Eventually house values would come back up.  I would just sit on the back deck, listen to the birds chirping, watch the rabbits dash through the yard and just take it easy.

Then I met a girl, fell in love, and we decided that little home wasn’t big enough for my new family configuration, so we bought the closer-to-Seattle home where we now live. I turned the Bothell residence into a rental. I only enjoyed living there for a year.

Luck was on my side, as I managed to get two great renters over the past 8 years. When the latest renter informed me she was no longer interested in buying the home and was moving south, it was time to make a run at selling it.

As poorly timed as the purchase was, the selling apparently was the complete opposite. Bruce said we should have no problem getting $369,000 for it. That was much welcomed news, especially since Zillow had two “values” posted for the home, the highest only $323,000. (just this week, there was an online news story about Zillow and their unreasonably lower values)

To make sure that it sold as soon as possible, I pulled out all the stops. Tweaked the inside to perfection with new carpeting and touched-up the painting. Put in a gravel path on the side yard, re-stained the deck on the two dry days in January. I had already put on a new roof this past year, repaired the garage door, replaced the front porch. Around $4,000 of freshening up later and the house was ready.

Oh wait—the smart money suggested “staging” the house. You’d think that wide-open rooms would look big, but having the right furniture in them makes all the difference and helps buyers with limited imaginations see how the house could look.

Now THAT'S staged!

Now THAT’S staged!

 

Another $1,700. (estimates were as high as $2500)  OK, now we’re ready.

Day 1:  On Thursday, the home’s first day on the market, one of the first people in the house made an offer–at full price, but they wanted me to cover the $5K in closing costs. With an open house scheduled for Sunday, we decided to wait and see what happened.

Smart move.

Day 4:  30 couples came through Sunday afternoon, between 1-4pm. At the end of the day, there were 3 offers on the table, two above asking price. We looked at each of the buyers and when all was said and done, I was signing documents Sunday night at 8 for a $378,000 real estate deal. Yep–$9,000 over asking price.

It’s been a long road and I still won’t recover what I put in, but the journey is almost over. There’s a couple that is going to get a great house they’ll enjoy for years to come and that part of my life is now about to close.

As much as I enjoyed Peter Sellers, I’m glad it has become a good old-fashioned seller’s market. If you’ve even thought about selling in the near future, current market conditions and the low interest rates pretty much say, “Do it now!”

Tim Hunter

Musings of a Depressed Seahawks Fan

Yeah, it's how I feel

Yeah, it’s how I feel

Ever since that final play of Super Bowl 49, I haven’t stopped thinking about the game, how it could have been SO different, why we decided to “snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory”, etc.

So, throughout the week, as my brain continues to work overtime, I’m just going to assemble a collection of my thoughts so I can press them in my scrapbook of Seahawk memories.

1) For baseball fans who don’t follow the Seahawks, Sunday’s Super Bowl loss was like the Mariners going to the 7th game of the World Series, having a one-run lead in the bottom of the 9th, then, with the bases loaded, walking in the tying and winning runs.
I guess the good news is, in football, you get it over with a lot faster.

2) A survey says that 14% of all Baby Boomers are being treated for depression. Most of those, Seahawk fans.

3) Even Johnny Weir was asking, “Why did they pass instead of giving that Skittles guy the oblong ball thing?”

4) The Scientology commercial that ran in the Super Bowl promised “the Age of Answers.” Can we start with that last play call?

5) That’s it! Seattle’s offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is NOT getting a Valentine from this guy this year.

6) Seahawk Sam poked his head out of the rubble in his living room, saw it wasn’t just a bad dream & that means 6 more weeks of depression.

7)  (I channeled Marshawn Lynch on Facebook with this one) “I’m only here so I won’t get depressed.”

8) Every time I try to rerun that last play in my head, I pass instead and it gets intercepted.

9) It’s “Groundhog’s Day”, that day when you live life over and over until you get it right. Where was this day when we could have used it yesterday?

10) Congrats to Hank Wackstrom, Pee Wee football coach from Twisp, Washington. Hank was the winner of the Seahawks “You call the play” contest, where Hank got to call the Hawks final offensive play in the Super Bowl. Way to go, Hank!
Only way I can explain it.

11) Now I know what the Green Bay Packers fans felt like. Is this where I say, “The better team lost?”

12) There was the picture of the seagull with the Seahawks logo on the chest and the caption I put above him, where he’s saying, “Hey, even with my brain that was a bad call.  Just sayin’…”

13) The Seahawks last call really soured me on the entire game.  It reminded me of my bar days.  I always hated the last call.

14)  Hey, Atlanta–how about if we keep Dan Quinn and you get Darrell Bevell?

15) We finished 2nd.  If we have a parade, shouldn’t the team parade be on 2nd Avenue?

16) I heard Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell wants the parade to go over the mountains on I-90 because he prefers the pass.

17) Ironically, after that Super Bowl loss, it’s the Seahawks that are feeling deflated.

18) I mean, it was crazy: one minute I’m watching the Seahawks in the Super Bowl and then it turned into a Cougar game! (WSU friends, insert ‘Husky’ here)

 conspiracy

 (my brain went here–history will decide if I’m right)

Why did the Seahawks pass instead of giving Marshawn Lynch a couple of tries of running it less than a yard?

Theory 1–The Seahawks wanted quarterback Russell Wilson to be the hero, not the crotch-grabbing, few-on-words Marshawn Lynch.

Theory 2–The Seahawks came up with a difficult play that made it impossible for Wilson to complete, thus making it appear as if he blew the game.  Then, when end-of-the-season contract negotiations are underway, he can be reminded of it and be offered millions less.

How did a rookie defender anticipate an a slant pass in a definite run situation?  The only way a play like that could have worked was to incorporate the element of surprise.

Theory 1–The New England Patriots intercepted the play call as Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell talked to Pete Carroll on their radio connection.  The information was passed to the New England defense, who knew exactly how to defend this unlikely play.

Theory 2–Because of everything the Patriots and the NFL went through for Deflate-gate, the league decided the Patriots needed to win.  Russell Wilson threw it directly into the arms of a New England Patriot player from 15 feet away with the promise that the Seahawks would be allowed to win it next year.

Oliver Stone, eat your heart out.

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

The Home That Got Away

Shooting the Penguin Windows commercial at the house

Shooting the Penguin Windows commercial at the house

On February 4th, I’m putting a little piece of me up for sale.

It’s the home I bought back in 2006, when I was starting life anew.  I found this little rambler in Bothell, backed up against a greenbelt, with a huge deck and fenced yard.  I was watching house prices skyrocket out of control and figured if I didn’t hurry up and buy right then, I’d never be able to afford to buy a home in the Puget Sound area.

That was the thinking.  I had $60K as the result of a divorce that I was going to invest somewhere and this seemed like the perfect little place. 3 bedrooms, large master bedroom.  I even allowed the company I worked for at the time to use it to install Penguin triple-pane windows and film it for a TV commercial.

I remember a great summer backyard open house out on the deck and what fun it was.  A deer once wandered through the neighborhood.  Being in the back of the development, only people who lived there would drive by.  There were the neighbors, Dana & Tammy, Norm & Susie and several others whose names I’ve forgotten.

Then, less than a year after buying it, I met a woman too amazing to let get away.  My little rambler was too far from downtown to make it ‘our’ home, so we ended up buying a different home and I planned to sell off the Bothell residence.

But you may have notice the key phrase, 2006, above.  I bought at the absolute peak of the housing market and the crash that followed prevented me from selling.  So, for the next 8 years, I rented it out.  I had never planned to be a landlord, but I found myself in that position–having to fix garage doors, replace a water heater, re-roof, etc.  Combine that along with the fact that rent was hundreds under the payment and it was basically a financial stone around my neck.

However, I got lucky, with two dream tenants who treated the home as if it was their own.  When the most recent tenant decided to move south to be closer to family and with the market recovering, it just seemed like the right time to make my move.

Ten years from now it would be the perfect place to be.  We’re just not at that stage yet.

What I’d like to share with you–with all the preparations that have gone into getting it ready to sell, it’s a really awesome house.  More awesome than it ever was when I lived there.  That made me realize what a shame it is to live in your home and never enjoy its potential.  I’ve become even more resolved, once this adventure is over, to get our Seattle home to where we imagine it could be.  To get it ready to sell, and then… just live there.

If you know someone looking for a home, you might pass this link along to them. It gives a snapshot of what the house is all about, but I’ve got to tell you: it now looks even better.  Just send a note to tim@wackyweek.com and I’ll hook you up with my real estate guy.

I look forward to being an ex-landlord, but at the same time, I’m going to miss that little place.

Tim Hunter

A Rare Opportunity

12 logo

Recently, I blogged about Christmas, encouraging everyone to absorb what was around them and enjoy all that the season offers. It can be such a magical time of year if we just allow it. But, as they say, Christmas comes but once a year, always making its annual arrival at Costco, sometime in August.

Right now, Seattle Seahawks fans have one of the rarest of opportunities available to any sports fans. To follow a team that generations will look back on as one of the greatest N.F.L. teams in history.

In my near 60 years on earth, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to cheer for a championship team or two. There were the 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers, that swept the New York Yankees in the World Series, four games to none. Two years later, they blew the first two games of the World Series, only to come back and beat the Minnesota Twins in seven games. Two championships in three years!  That was back in the days when World Series games were played during the day and the cool teachers were the ones who brought in a TV so we could watch during school.

Always while growing up, I got to experience an NBA championship.  However, it was after years of the Los Angeles Lakers losing to either the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks (I think the league made them take turns).

When I moved to the championship desert of Seattle in the early 1970s, I began my conversion to the local sports teams. That worked out well with the Sonics, as they won the N.B.A. championship in 1979.

And then, the great dark period began.

The Mariners came close.  OK, our W.N.B.A. team, the Storm won a title. The UW Husky Football team won a co-National Championship in ’91. But our professional baseball, football and even our soccer teams would only flirt with greatness: a playoff game or two, then done.

When the Seahawks actually won the Super Bowl last year, you know what it was like. 12 flags all over town, jerseys everywhere. People not normally sports fanatics were talking about them. Then, upwards of 700,000 people took to downtown Seattle in the frigid cold for a victory parade. Amazingly, not a single arrest.

It was a special time that the pundits said was highly unlikely to repeat. And it’s happening. A win this Sunday and we have a chance at winning our second N.F.L. championship in a row.

I believe we can do it. Yes, you risk a serious heart-break if you allow yourself to get caught up in the madness and we fall short.  But first, don’t think that way.  Secondly, if we win—we get to experience sports nirvana. This team is special. The owner, the architects of the club, the talented, colorful and talented players, are the special concoction that every team in the league is trying to mix up. We’ve got it.

I hope you’re going in deep. That you believe. That you’re ready to experience something very few cities ever see. The beginning of a sports dynasty.

And brace yourself—because we just may have to do this all over again next year.

Let’s just focus on winning Sunday, then the re-Pete.  Then, the 3-Pete next year. Go Hawks!

Tim Hunter