Fool’s gold

I was working in the stock market in 2001 when the dot com bomb took place. Back then people were saying you just couldn’t lose in the stock market. Then the worm turned and it was ugly. A friend of mine had a client who was heavily invested in Level 3. He was a minor executive and a true believer. He had all of his money in Level 3 stock and had margined it to build a house. He rode Level 3 all the way into the ground, and then they let him go. The talk on the street was buy precious metals. Gold was $300 an ounce. I thought it was a questionable investment strategy. Could I have predicted that terrorist would destroy the very building I had worked in that May? Could I have predicted that our government would spend what it has spent (rather than what it has) to not catch the guys who did this? Could I have predicted we would invade Iraq and be stuck there for now four years, probably much longer? Could I have predicted the mortgage meltdown, the foreclosure problem or the credit crunch? No, I couldn’t predict any of that. No one could. So no one could have predicted that gold would be $1010.80 an ounce today. Will it keep going up? Not forever. It will cycle like everything else.

There were some warning signs that the statement “It’ll just keep going up” was not an absolute in the housing market. The housing market has adjusted seriously at the beginning of the last four decades. 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001? Oops, we missed a year. We kept missing that adjustment for six years. It was not going to keep going up. Business is cyclical. Would real estate continue to be a sound investment? With good investment principles absolutely yes. Those principles include buying in a solid area with a good infrastructure. Buying with a solid down payment allowing for a reasonable cash flow after five to seven years. Buying with the intent of holding. Flipping, while exciting is just as dangerous as day trading. If you’re a thrillseeker and can afford to monitor the market like that…knock yourself out. The average investor doesn’t have that sort of time. So it’s important to find a home that’s right for your family. It doesn’t matter what the market is doing, if the house works for your family and the principles are in place, your investment will be sound. In 1991 a lot of people bought at the top of the market. The market plunged and many walked away. The ones who toughed it out, found that in 1998 they had made up all the money they lost in the early 1990’s and then some. So choose for your family and the rest will follow.

Morning buzz

I stopped by Navlet’s in Pleasant Hill on Saturday.  There were two representatives from the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District working a table.  I stopped by just out of curiousity.  These guys deal with mosquitoes, which equals West Nile Virus, rats and mice, yellow jackets, ticks and bees.  (Bees are the good guys).  I had a friend who worked for them who used to come and pull down the yellow jacket nests for me at my old house.  Once you get them under control, it’s easy to knock them down when they’re little.  It’s the massive nests that are a problem.  I asked them if they were the people you called for dead birds and they gave me the Dead Bird Hotline number.  (1-866-537-BIRD)  Then I asked about squirrels.  I hate squirrels, they torment my dogs, I think that they are just cute rats with bushy tails.  In actuality, they are now seeing West Nile Virus in dead squirrels too and they should be reported as well. 

With the rains coming to an end, it’s time to find all the sitting water around the house and dump it out.  That’s where mosquitos lay their eggs and the larva live.  Besides carrying a plethora of diseases, mosquitos can also infect your dog with heartworm.  They are now seeing cases pretty regularly in this area.  Protect your family and your pets by making your home unwelcoming for mosquitos.

Life’s just better with fresh vegetables

Here’s a listing of the farmer’s markets occurring this and every weekend in our area.

SATURDAY

Market Location Times Months Open
Danville Certified Farmers Market Railroad and Prospect 9AM-1PM Year Round
El Cerrito Certified Farmers Market El Cerrito Plaza 9AM-1PM Year Round
Orinda Certified Farmers Market Avenida de Orinda and Orinda Way 9AM-1PM May-Nov.
Pinole Certified Farmers Market Civic Center P. Lot/ Plum and Prune 9AM-1PM May-Nov.
Pittsburg Certified Farmers Market Railroad and 6th 9AM-1PM May-Nov
Pleasant Hill Certified Farmers Market 100 Gregory Lane 10AM-2PM May-Oct.

SUNDAY

Market Location Times Months Open
Crockett Certified Farmers Market Pomona St and 2nd Ave 10AM-2PM April-Nov.
Kensington Certified Farmers Market Arlington and Amherst 10AM-2PM Year Round
Martinez Certified Farmers Market 600 Block Main St. 10AM-2PM May-Oct.
Moraga Certified Farmers Market Moraga Rd. and Moraga Way 9AM-1PM Year Round
Walnut Creek Certified Farmers Market Broadway and Lincoln 8AM-1PM Year Round

When it rains…

It’s a great time to catch a movie or see an exhibit.  There are a couple of great exhibits in the City right now.  I’m a huge Annie Leibovitz fan.  They have a large exhibit of her work at the Legion of Honor, through May 25th.  Few have photographed more influential people of our era.

queenalms0505_468x453.jpg

I don’t know if the Queen will be there, I just liked the example.

The San Francisco Museum of Art has an exhibit of the work of Friedlander from 1950 forward going on right now too.  This exhibit runs through May 18th.

And my pick if you just have to get outside this weekend the Kayak Surf Festival in Santa Cruz.

image20.jpgCowabunga baby!

And the tasteless pick of the weekend, a Peter Bogdanovich tribute at the Castro Theatre…fear not, you won’t be sitting through the Last Picture Show or  Paper Moon or What’s up Doc or Mask.  Nope, they’re showing movies that he didn’t even know were still available.  Read all about it here.  He will be there as will Miss Shepherd who will wind up her one woman show this weekend.  Sounds like a hoot.

Green in Contra Costa

I just ran across this article about the greenest Cities in America.   Of the top fifty in the nation, seven of them are in the Bay Area.  Number 43 is our very own Concord.  Say what?  Out of all the cities in this country, that’s quite an accomplishment.  San Francisco was number two, not surprising considering their very aggressive recycling program, rooftop solar initiatives, and hybrid busses.  Oakland comes in at number four with a lot a credit going to their hydrogen busses and the Berkeley comes in at number eight.

The San Francisco Chronicle had an interesting article on going green yesterday.  It really is about consuming less.  We have to ask ourselves, do we need to put these three oranges into a plastic bag so that the clerk can put it into a paper bag?  Or can they just go into the cart loose?  Pre-cycling is just as important as re-cycling.

Habitat for Humanity’s Women’s Crew

Habitat for Humanity has a Women’s Crew and the orientation is the first Tuesday of each month.  Next one will be April 1st.  Women’s Crew days are the 2nd Saturday of each month and each site.  The Women’s Crew sponsored on of the new condos that was built on Ellis in Concord in 2001.  Last year Judie Foudy and Miko Marks joined them.  The Women’s Crew has sponsorship from Lowe’s.

To Join the Women’s Crew

How cool is that?

Paws on Parade

Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation is having their annual Paws on Parade May 18, 2008 at Broadway Plaza. They’re an awesome organization. It all started with a cat named Magic. Here’s the link for the event. Come on down and join in the fun. I worked a booth for them at this event a couple of years ago. It’s great to see all the folks you see around town with their dogs. Set up your own fundraising webpage and help out an amazing organization.

Blind red blend tasting

This event looks like a lot of fun for the wanna be sommeliers in the crowd.  I like this cute little unassuming place.  I’ve been a little under the weather, but if my palette returns, I’m going to try my hand at a blind tasting.

Just in time for summer

As the weather is finally turning the corner, it’s that time of year when we all start thinking about ending our hibernation and getting in a bit better shape. Alavie Fitness (formerly Bay Area Boot Camp) is starting classes up in Heather Farms next week. That’s right! First class is St. Patty’s Day. I may take this class myself. Friends of mine have taken it and say “it’s tough but worth it”. That’s my kind of ringing endorsement. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Welcome!

Welcome to valeriecrowell.com. As you might imagine, I’m Valerie Crowell. I’ll be your tour guide for this little jaunt around Mt. Diablo.

I’m in the real estate industry. I’ve been working in Northern California most of my life. The basis for every metes and bounds description up here is Mt. Diablo base and meridian. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal until I moved out into her shadow. She is an majestic mountain. She looms large over this whole area. A friend says “if you get lost, just drive towards Mt. Diablo and you’ll find your way”. I did and I have. You can too.