St. Joseph must be busy elsewhere.

The statue.
Supposedly if you bury a St. Joseph statue in your front yard it's supposed to bring buyers to the house you're selling. I received two as a gift from a lovely woman, and I did bury one in the spot once occupied by a real estate agent's For Sale sign. That was last spring. So far, he has brought people to the house, but none has made any offer. Not one.

Feedback? Ha!
It's been 22 months of keeping the house clean and decluttered. It's been exhausting for me and very disruptive to my trying to generate any income. Only one of the three agents brought a couple to the house. There were other agents, representing buyers who "kicked me out of the house" and showed it to people who never came back. I wasn't getting any feedback, other than, "The house is well-maintained." So why didn't you make an offer?

Didn't they abolish slavery?
I "fired" all 3 agents who seemed to be doing less work than I was doing. I took all the photos of the house, I was doing all the house cleaning, decluttering, staging, and yard work. I was at their beck-and-call, having to abort all my plans whenever an agent wanted to bring clients by on short notice. I felt as though I were working for THEM so they could make money. I took over the showings, just to get some feedback. On Zillow I posted a FSBO house listing, reduced the price and added lots of extras. Still nothing.

I'm now at the point where I don't want to be bothered showing the house to non-buyers. I have set some boundaries, that so far, nobody is respecting. II must get tougher.

The boundaries? I ask for a
digitized letter showing pre-approval of lender financing or cash in the bank to cover the entire price of the house before they can see the house. People have said they can show me their letter but they show up without it. That stops today. If they show up without showing me proof of financial capability in advance there is a $50 per person fee to pay me for the time and effort to make the house presentable for them. This requires 4-6 hours of cleaning, moving many boxes, hiding anything personal, cleaning windows, vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing kitchen and bathroom, mowing the lawn, weeding, etc.

Moving on.
I've decided to turn my attention away from house showings and on to more productive things:
Selling stuff I don't need: jewelry, china, furniture, linens, clothes, books, dishes, appliances, family heirlooms, wedding presents, artwork, etc.
Dealing with business I had to put aside while attending to my father's health issues, financial matters, tax problems, etc.
Revising on websites to try to bring in some income.
• Turning my bedroom into a
guest room and then registering with AirBandB.
Painting the bungalow across the street to turn it into a guest house for authors.... or into a house I can move to temporarily if mine sells.
Offering classes in the house.
Promoting the Home Giveaway Essay Contest.
Purging hundreds of boxes of files, little by little.
Finding money to buy and store food for the weeks in winter when I'll be housebound.
You can help.
• Enter my
home giveaway essay contest and win my house or something else of value.
• Buy something from
my estate sale. New items will appear weekly.
• Buy some of
my books.
• Book a
stay in my home.


You don't have $99 to enter the Home Giveaway?

"I don't have $99 to enter your Home Giveaway Essay Contest."


1. Stop eating out in restaurants and buying take-out for 10 weeks. (Andrea did.)

2. Give up cable TV. (Andrea did.)

3. Stop buying stuff you don't need at yard sales and online garage sales. (Andrea did.)

4. Stop buying any more electronic phones or toys. (Andrea did.)

5. Switch to prepaid, low cost TracFone. (Andrea did; only $100 a year.)

6. Stop buying coffee and doughnuts to snack on. (Andrea did.)

7. Stop going out drinking with the gang. (Andrea did.)

8. Stop buying beer, wine, alcohol. (Andrea did.)

9. Stop buying tobacco products. (Andrea did in 1973.)

10. Sell stuff you have in your closet, cabinet, basement, garage that nobody uses, and raise $10 a week. (Andrea does. See:

If Andrea can do it, you can do it.

Put the money aside that you have saved. Once you have $99 send in your entry form. You won't lose. Even if you don't win the house, you'll receive second prize, depending on what good deed you ask for, which could have a value of more than $99. OR, if you prefer, you can have $198 worth of my eBooks.

Join the Facebook community page:

On to Plan B

My PLAN A was to sell both houses for as much as possible and leave Erie as soon as my "daughter duties" were finished. That was two years ago. Back in September 2008, I had planned to be in Erie for only one year, two at the most, and here I still am... 8 years later.

Erie is my least favorite place in the world to be. (And I've stayed in many places: London, Paris, Toronto, Vancouver, Buenos Aires, etc.) I have never fit in Erie. My teachers disliked me because I was a creative thinker and I challenged conventional wisdom. I tried new things and was ridiculed by kids and adults alike. I was a poor student because I felt distracted. And I was unpopular. I didn't get invited to parties, and the cool kids ignored me.

1952Helene copy
As a toddler, sitting on my aunt's lap at 618 Hilltop Road.

My parents were divorced when I was a toddler and both remarried when I was in grade school. They had new families and I didn't fit into either family. I was, literally, the red-headed stepchild. My mother and father disliked me because I reminded each of them of the other parent whom they hated. I was their scapegoat. My home life was pretty awful; I was physically beaten often and I had all the housework to do while my mother disappeared and carried on affairs, which meant my school homework often didn't get done. I looked forward to the day when I could leave home at age 18 and go to college.

When I left Erie in 1967 to start college (Hiram, and then Kent State) in Ohio, everything changed for me. Suddenly I was getting good grades and I was popular. I had friends, I had dates, I was invited to join a sorority.

Later when I was almost ready to graduate college, I returned to my high school to do a two-week teaching observation. On talking to my old guidance counselor I knew that my IQ was tested many years before, but nobody told me my IQ was about 140, in the gifted range. So why did my parents and teachers always treat me as if I were less intelligent than my peers?

I think I know. When I was in grade school there was a scandal involving my mother and a prominent man in Erie. It was in both newspapers. It may be that my teachers wanted to express their distaste of my mother, but as they couldn't attack her I became their scapegoat as well. By moving to another state at age 18, where my mother's past and mine were not known, my life was suddenly very different. I was accepted as the intelligent, interesting person I was. I experienced that again when I lived in England and again when I emigrated to Canada.

You could win this house.

Back to Plan B.
My house hasn't sold in 21 months, not by my own promotion and not by the 3 agents I retained. Buyers liked the house, and complimented me on how well-maintained it is, but not a single person made an offer. All my savings are tied up in both unsold houses. I can't leave Erie until they are both sold, so that I have money to live on. Plus, the expenses to maintain two houses exceed my tiny pension income.

I've tried everything to obtain freelance editing, writing and speaking work here. I've also experienced rejection after rejection from hotels, stores, real estate brokers, service businesses, etc., because:
a. I'm considered an outsider,
b. I have no US work history past 1972 (my last Erie job was 1968),
c. I've been self-employed since 1977 and have no employer references to put on an application.
d. Nobody here needs or wants to hire a speaker agent, book editor, home stager, female house painter.

Also, I haven't had anyone willing to rent my house for enough money to cover the expense of that house plus provide enough to make up the deficit of my living expenses while living in Erie. It makes more sense for me to stay in the house and turn the smaller house (bungalow) into a
guest house that potentially will provide more income that a full-time tenant can.

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Authors Guest House

I have quietly launched (another) home giveaway essay contest, this time with a $99 entry fee and a different "essay". This one is designed to do two things:
1. Get entrants thinking about what
someone else could do for them (good deeds) that would make their life better in some way; and
2. Actually give every non-winner an opportunity to have their wish fulfilled while I'm on my Good Deeds Tour. Not all "wishes" will be do-able, but with some creativity and help from other sources I may be able to do something.

It will likely take a year to receive 1,000 valid entries. I've learned from experience that many entries will be invalid because not everyone will read and follow the rules.

This next year will give me time to liquidate all my belongings and empty the house, complete the bungalow renovations to make it sellable, and tie up all loose ends here. I'd still like to generate editing and writing assignments and book some paid speaking engagements for the future. If your company would like to sponsor me for any of these, please
contact me.

Will you be a Patron or Sponsor?

There are people in my town who want to enter the home giveaway contest, but say they can't afford the $99 entry fee. It would be a kind and generous gesture if you wanted to help one or more people enter the contest. Not only would they have a chance to win a 3-bedroom house, but if they don't win first prize, they will have their choice of second prizes. They may request a "good deed" from me that has a value that exceeds $99 or they can have $198 of my eBooks which are designed to help people increase their incomes and lives. See, everybody wins!

If you are in a financial position to make a contribution of any amount, it could help subsidize one or more entries, or even just a part of one entry. And it will decrease the amount necessary to give away the house, which will support my
Good Deeds Tour.

I'll let each recipient know they had a secret benefactor; but I'll also give you credit on my
Patron page.... with your company name. If there are multiple patrons, the recipient won't necessarily know who their benefactor is.

You may also consider being a
Sponsor of the Tour. I'll be considering corporate sponsors who will benefit by specific promotional benefits we can discuss. I have a background in marketing and public relations so I would love to be a "spokesperson" for your company on my Good Deeds Tour.

If you choose not to be a Patron or Sponsor, you are welcome to:
• purchase some of
my books,
• purchase some of my
household and personal goods,
• invite me to speak to your group or organization,
• book a week at my
Authors Guest House, opening in November.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sold this week: Sept. 2, 2016

In addition to a window screen, I sold King bedding (quilt, shams, sheets, pillows, comforters); Queen bedding (down duvet); Twin bedding (down duvet, sheets, comforters); and four sets of towels. The income will cover some important bills. More....


Interesting that some of my best customers are contacting me from out of state, not locally, so I am happy to ship smaller items.

You're welcome to browse my "store":

All sold: King bed frame, quilt, shams, sheets, pillows, dust ruffle, night stands.

What will you do with this house if you win it?

Here's my thinking about your options:


1. Move into it and live in it as your primary residence.

2. Sell it for as much as you can get - $75,000? - and enjoy your $74,900 profit.

3. Use it as your summer home.

4. Rent it out to corporations as an executive guest house.

5. Rent it out as a vacation rental. Think Airbnb.

6. Rent it to tenants.

7. Give it to charity.

8. Turn it into a community center.

9. Turn it into a neighborhood clubhouse and playground.

10. Turn it into a woman's shelter.

What are your thoughts? Tell me:

Enter to win here: