Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, April 3, 2015

Are We There Yet?

Jay Edwards

I’m writing this on Wednesday morning, the beginning of the second quarter. Spring done sprung and my Zoysia bleeds weeds. If you are blessed with the same emergence, be sure and read April’s early April column on how to fix that.

Which reminds me of a Realtor I had when we lived in the great northwest, also known as Fayetteville, Arkansas. We found a house, in a cul-de-sac, with a circular drive and a couple of bay windows. The five-acre pond behind the back yard didn’t hurt either, and when the flock of Great Northerns, as if on cue, broke the shiny surface on a late September afternoon, it felt like home. 

I was worried about the fireplaces though, being a two-cord a winter guy. The house was three years old, and while the builder added some great features, he decided to skimp on the fireplaces, putting in something called “ventless gas.” They looked pretty good when they weren’t on, but really no different when they were, with a small pitiful blue and yellow flame that flickered between the two ceramic logs. They reminded me of my grandmother’s stove, in her little kitchen in the house on Hunter Street, just north of the Hendrix campus in Conway. It was a good memory, like any of my grandmother are, but it was no substitute for blazing red oak on a frigid night. 

“What’s with these fireplaces?” I asked Betty Lou-Broach Grimes, my Realtor. 

She walked over and knelt before the one in the family room, with her back to me, in silence. I thought she was praying for an answer. She reached under the front log and pulled out some white paper. “Here are the instructions,” she proudly grinned up at me, handing the thick booklet of fireplace do’s and don’ts to me. 

“Can we turn it on?” I asked her. She did a pretty good job of disguising her displeasure with the request and said, “Of course, do you have a match?”

“It says here there is an ignitor. No matches needed. It also says to open some windows when in use.” That kind of seemed to defeat the purpose. The only windows in the room overlooked the pond, and the wind in the Ozarks never seems to stop howling.

“I’ve always had a wood-burning fireplace,” I told her, as she got the pitiful flame to glow. 

“We can fix that,” Betty Lou-Broach Grimes uttered, that same phrase I would hear from her a hundred or so times over the next few days.

“Well, there aren’t any chimneys.”

“We can fix that.”

“So you’re a bricklayer in your free time?” I thought to myself.

Long story short, we bought the house. Betty Lou-Broach Grimes never got around to installing those masonry vented fireplaces and over the next five years, of our time in the house on Lancelot Lane, I never once turned the fireplaces on.

When it was time to move back home, to Little Rock, we called Betty Lou-Broach Grimes, to list our house. We gave her four months before firing her, saying, “We think it’s time to move in a different direction,” those ten words Realtors, and coaches all hate to hear. 

I made the call and as I said goodbye to Betty Lou-Broach Grimes, for the tenth time, I could hear her pleas of “We can fix that!” as I hung up the phone.

The next day I was out of town and KM called.

“Guess who paid me a visit today? She asked.

“Betty Lou-Broach Grimes.”

“You got it.”

“What did she say?”

“I never answered the door. She knocked and rang and then tried to get in for about twenty minutes before driving away.”

“Oh well, some things you just can’t fix.”

 Jay Edwards is editor-in-chief of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist. Contact him at jedwards@dailydata.com.