Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What is that snake in my sunroom?

It was a pretty quiet Memorial Day weekend, except for Saturday night, when I heard a commotion in my sunroom, home of my Spanish Timbrado canaries. Intrigued, I came downstairs and turned on the light and was taken aback to see my orange tiger cat, Neil, proudly keeping watch over a coiled pile of a snake--a pretty long snake at that!

Horrified, I could see that Neil had apparently been playing with the then-unidentified snake, which seemed woozy and unhappy to be the object of the cat's attention.

I hurriedly scooped the snake onto a magazine and brought it out so that it could sidle into the bushes.

I have no idea how the snake got into my home, but I thought it would be interesting to find out what kind of snake it was. I was delighted to find a fabulous online resource on Snakes of Massachusetts, compiled by U. Mass Amherst. It offers a species-by-species guide to the snakes found here in the Commonwealth, and I was able to identify my visitor as an Eastern Ribbon Snake, a harmless snake that frequents ponds and wetlands, like those in my backyard.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Home of the Week in Carlisle!

Here's the view from the front porch of this expanded contemporary farmhouse, overlooking glorious open fields on Curve St., one of Carlisle's most scenic country roads.

On 2 acres, this appealing 4-bedroom home is loaded with extras, including an au pair suite, two laundries, a large 2nd floor studio, and a 3-car garage. It offers over 4300 sq. ft. of very livable space.

Originally listed at $975,000, this light, bright, open-concept home is currently priced at $939,000. It's listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Concord, and I'd be happy to arrange an appointment, or send more information, if it piques your fancy!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Siggy Needs a Home

This is Siggy, a beautiful black and white springer spaniel who needs a new home, now.

I met Siggy as part of my work for the New England English Springer Spaniel Rescue, an all-volunteer group of people throughout the Northeast who love Springers and spend a lot of their spare time trying to place needy ones in new loving homes.

We haven't been able to find a home for Siggy, and he's running out of time.

Siggy just turned 14 years old, but looks more like he's 10. He's healthy and friendly, and does not deserve the fate his owners are contemplating--to be put to sleep because he sometimes barks when they leave him at their summer cottage. Siggy has a lot of love to give, and a lot of life left.

He gets along well with other dogs and cats, and is very attached to his people. My feeling is that if he were in a home with other dogs, he wouldn't be so lonely.

If you'd like more information about Siggy, please contact me. Time is running out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Using Feng Shui to Buy, Sell, and Move In to a Home

I am a trained Feng Shui practitioner, and often use the principles of this ancient art of energy flow to assist my buyer and seller clients in assessing or enhancing the merits of the homes they may be purchasing or selling. I know that when Feng Shui techniques are used appropriately, and with a sincere and focused intention, they act as powerful tools to transform an environment.

Barbara Madding and Peg Donahue, who are colleagues and good friends of mine, and together offer Feng Shui analytical services through Feng Shui Connections, have founded the New England Center for Feng Shui and Intuitive Arts, which offers seminars and workshops on a multitude of fascinating topics including Feng Shui, dowsing, geopathic stress, and architectural psychology.

For the next three weeks, they will be offering Thursday evening teleclasses of particular interest to those who are in the process of buying, selling, or moving into a new home.

On Thursday, March 16th, the focus will be Using Feng Shui to Attract the Perfect Buyer for Your Home, which will outline how you can prepare both the interior and exterior of your home for sale, and highlight the strongest areas of your property to maximize its appeal.

On Thursday, March 23rd, Barbara and Peg will provide Feng Shui Tips for Purchasing Your Home, a discussion of which shapes, sites, and qualities are likely to be supportive to the lives of a home's inhabitants and which could create unwelcome challenges.

On Thursday, March 30th, the series comes full circle, with a workhop on Moving into a New Home and Settling Your Chi, which will describe simple space clearing techniques to rid your new home of old energies from the past occupants, and instill fresh life force that is harmonized to support your highest good.

You don't even have to leave the comfort of your own home to participate in these teleclasses, which will be conducted from 7:30-9pm on a conference call line. You can register online at the NECFS website; the fee is $35 per teleclass, or $90 for the series. If you're interested in participating but can't be present for the live teleclass, no worries! The classes will be taped and will be available for listening for 60 days after the event.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Sale of Fernside

Well, it's finally a done deal.

After 899 days on the market, Princeton's beloved Fernside has been sold, for $1.9 million.

The majestic 19th century mansion will undergo a transformation from a Bed & Breakfast Inn to a residential treatment center, affiliated with McLean Hospital in Belmont, according to published reports.

Monday, January 23, 2006

New Federal Standards for Arsenic in Water

Homeowners in New England, where there are about 2.3 million private wells, should be aware that as of January 23, 2006, the EPA has greatly reduced the allowable amount of arsenic that can be present in drinking water, in order for it to be considered safe or "potable," from 50 parts per million to 10 parts per million (Maximum Contaminant Level = 0.010ppm).

It is estimated that up to 15% of all private wells in New Hampshire may not meet this standard.

Though the regulation was promulgated in January 2001, it did not take effect until today. If you purchased your home during the last several years, and would like to retest your water to ensure that it complies with the new standards, you can find a list of Massachusetts DEP-certified labs online.

If you rely on well water and are considering selling your home, it would be advisable to investigate the arsenic level now, and take remedial action, if necessary, for your protection and to forestall problems once your home goes under agreement.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Boston Home Show

Whether you're buying a home, redoing a room, or just dreaming about the possibilities, The Boston Home Show, opening on Friday, January 13th and running through Sunday, January 15th at the Bayside Expo, offers a wealth of information.

Attendees can also enter to win a $10,000 kitchen makeover from Kitchen Magic, a $15,000 home theater from New England Home Theater, or a day of around-the-house fix-up services from the Handy Man Network.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Flora in Winter!

If you can't wait until the New England Spring Flower Show for a fix of wonderful plants and flowers, treat yourself to a visit to the upcoming Flora in Winter exhibition, an "art and floral extravaganza" that will be on display at both the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston and the Worcester Art Museum from January 26-29, 2006.

Events at Tower Hill during the four-day feast for the senses include a luncheon and lecture/demonstration on Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, and a Mozart Piano Candlelight Concert, in honor of the venerable composer's 250th birthday.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Harvard General Store is for Sale!

All of the agents in my office were surprised and saddened this week to see that Harvard's beloved General Store (home of Harvard Camera) has come on the market.

The distinguished 19th century building, a revered landmark on Harvard's historic common, has almost 8000 square feet on three levels, with hardwood floors and original moldings. It is being offered for sale as either a residential or a commercial property, for $995,000.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Home Design Portfolio

If you're thinking of updating or redesigning a room in your current home, or possibly planning a custom build, HomePortfolio is a great resource.

It's a website that enables you to search for home design products by category, and create your own private folder so you can save them online, and connect directly to the Internet portals of the manufacturers.

You can also search for local interior designers, and sign up for Home Design Update newsletters, with information on the hottest products and trends, and news of upcoming home design events and sneak preview opportunities in the greater Boston area.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Listings in Harvard

Realtors checkingMLSPIN, the Multiple Listing Service that covers most of Massachusetts, found that the market started showing signs of activity again today, after a long winter's nap that began in the weeks before Christmas.

Agents in my office listed two homes today, at opposite ends of the market. One is a 1984 colonial in the established Candleberry neighborhood. With almost 4000 square feet of living space (including a finished lower level), this home offers central air, three fireplaces, a screened porch and a fenced yard, at an asking price of $869,900.

Perhaps the more intriguing of the two is the eagerly awaited 2-bedroom Victorian cottage with fabulous westerly views in the Village of Still River, within walking distance to the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. I haven't seen it yet, but it looks adorable, and it's a sure bet that it will be scooped up quickly, at the attractive price of $375,000, including a new septic system.

If you'd like more information about either of these homes, I'd be happy to help.

Bye-bye Burning Bush

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources has announced that as of January 1st, 2006, it will begin to prohibit the sale and importation of 140 species of plants and bushes that it has identified as being "invasive" or "noxious."

Among the outlawed flora is the ubiquitous "Burning Bush" (Euonymus alata), a source of dramatic fall color in many local gardens (including mine!). It can be sold until July 1, 2006, so if you have been thinking of adding this fiery feature to your landscape, do it this spring, while you can still find specimens in local nurseries.

And don't worry, the state has no intention of forming local posses to remove the banned plants, trees, and shrubs that are ensconced on private property!

Other common species targeted by the ban include purple loosestrife, the Norway Maple, and the orangey Oriental bittersweet, which is much sought after for autumn decorative flourishes.

The complete Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List can be found here.