Friday, August 19, 2005

Reflections on selling a house

So how anxious was I to seal the deal?
Anxious enough that the first offer, representing, as my economist pal figured out, 93% of the asking price, was accepted with a sigh of relief. Fact is, we were about to lower the asking price.

In the last three days, the house had more showings than in the entire preceding 6 weeks. What made the difference? It appears that the words “motivated seller,” plugged in just three days ago, pushed it into the suddenly desirable category.

I do not get people. Most sellers are motivated! If you’re not motivated, you don’t pound a “for sale” sign into your lawn.

How hard is it for all of us, my daughters especially, to let go of this family home? Hard. Trust me, hard.

Is there a bright side? Oh yes, definitely. Many. Too many to list here. But here’s one I kept thinking about today as I stared at the vine climbing along the back wall of the house. It had become infested with some bug or other and I predict that within two weeks the entire two-story wall will be covered by wilted brown leaves instead of the lush green ones that nature intended.

On the other hand, note what’s happening around the back and side walls of the warehouse apartments. THEY are planting perennials. THEY are responsible for their health and well being. THEY will weed, prune, mulch them. Not me. Not me.

Madison Aug 05 301

in one hour: a tornado and a new family on the block

The lead story on CNN is about the tornado that touched down yesterday evening in Stoughton, just outside Madison.

Oh, how well I know that storm! It was one of the rare times where I could not seek shelter during a warning. Between the house showing and the need to get down to the loft a.s.a.p., I just could not do it. And so I rode it out, plowing my van through the torrential rains.

Nothing happened here on the west side of Madison. Or, nothing bad happened. In the course of the tornado, a family with two little children purchased our house.

I was sitting in the van, watching the children of the prospective buyers run around the front yard just minutes before the storm struck. I thought -- how perfect! My neighbors had been arguing over the gender of the next kids on the block: there was a strong lobby for more girls. But the boys wanted playmates too. In the end, each will get one.

Me -- I just want to say that selling this house has been one huge nightmare. The sale isn't final yet, but it's a solid offer. The storm chased off a period of high uncertainty. How fitting that it should have cleared the air so violently, so completely.

So fitting: amidst storms and turmoil, there is always the calming presence of Katy

It could not have been crazier. The minute I finished posting on the blog yesterday, the avalanche intensified: one car stalled, without power. One house showing cancelled, another on for early evening. Must finish straightening and tidying (it has to sell! The house has to sell! Hurry up and sell!). About done now. Crap! – the AC breaks down (we were never friends, the air conditioning and I but does it have to fail me completely now? I am trying to sell the house! I have another showing tomorrow! It is so damn muggy!)

Quickly, open the windows. Create a breeze. Leave the premises, the showing is about to begin.

The sirens go off. Tornado warning. Radio reports: touch down in Spring Green, just west of here, ten minutes away. Return to close the windows. Have to wait. Showing in progress. Finally, the people leave (did you write out an offer? No? What’s the matter with you – the house is perfect!).

Close the windows, head downtown. I do not care about sirens. So lift me up and swirl me in your funnel clouds! I know all about storms – I am not going to be freaked by this one!

There sure is a lot of water around me. Don’t stall, trusty-but-almost-dead-van, do not stall! SO much water. I wade through puddles, I feel the pouring rain on my bare arms.

And then – screw it all. I go to dine with

Katy is leaving town and as her last parting gift, she takes her blog partner and me out to l’Etoile.

Oh, l'Etoile, l'Etoile! I knew you when you were just a baby. You too have seen me through a quarter of a century of changes. I ate here through the events that have rocked the world, I cooked here during my most turbulent years. And so it is fitting to sit here now, with these two bloggers, these two friends, and to let go of the storms around me and indulge in the foods and services of this stellar place.

Tory, chef and proprietor, hovers.

Madison Aug 05 279

We are winding down. I'm still reeeling over the charentais melon carpaccio with prosciutto-wrapped goat cheese and crazy jim's cucumbers, cippolini onions and baby arugula (in a honey-rice wine vinaigrette).

Madison Aug 05 284

We stare at the dessert menus, but not for long. They are snatched away. We are not allowed to choose. Tory makes us all of them and suddenly, our table is filled with sweetness.

Madison Aug 05 291 Katy

We linger. The evening cannot end.

Oh, but we are downtown! The loft! Of course. It is so easy to finish each evening at the loft. My daughters, elsewhere downtown this night, join us. The night is quiet except for the train that goes by outside the window. No storms now. Have a safe trip south, Katy.

Madison Aug 05 297