When we sold our house in the U.S. we were told to:
Remove anything personal;
Pack away all decorative stuff;
Replace anything obviously worn;
And, in general to 'tart it up a bit' and keep it looking as good as possible.
The philosophy here, apparently, is: When you can no longer find the floor through the clutter and the sink is hidden under mounds of mold, close the shutters and put it on the market.
Do not, I repeat, do not clean it first…or ever again! Sell it and let the new owners handle all that. I mean, why would one want to clean someone else's house?
We looked at 8 properties with 2 agents… or, at least tried to.
Day 1; Agent 1:
House 1: Not bad. Hadn't been lived in for about 5 years but still had food in the cupboards. It was stuffed to the gills with furniture.
Only three bedrooms, but filled with 6 or 7 big, antique beds and some huge, gorgeous old armoires and sideboards. I have no idea how they got some of the furniture into the house, and have a sneaking suspicion the intention is to not try to get any of it out…. Windows only on one side.
House 2: Agent couldn't get the key to work. But, from the outside, we had a hard time trying to figure out what was house and what was the neighbor's barn. We passed.
House 3: This was a long barn that had been divided into three sections. We only had a key that worked in the first section which was the 'main' house, consisting of 3 small rooms. It hadn't been lived in (we were told) in years, but there was a pile of (very) dirty laundry in the corner as well as miscellaneous bits laying around. There was no bathroom, but a toilet, bidet and sink in the bedroom You had to step over and around them, carefully, to get to the bed which had the thickest duvet on it I've ever seen in my life. Something told me that the fireplace was not the most efficient heat source come winter. Only 2 windows.
But it had a bread oven outside….
House 4: Agent didn't have the key.
Day 2; Agent 2:
House 1: Big house, high ceilings, windows on three sides, empty and almost completely cleaned out…. Which allowed us to see the rotten floorboards. Equally rotten staircase in the attached barn led to a second floor tobacco storage loft. Gorgeous beams, solid barn, good roof… No kitchen and the ugliest , most dysfunctional bathroom in the galaxy….. Possible… Possible…. Thinking….
House 2: Perfectly nice house. Where's the fun in that? Oh, and the neighbor's house, while not attached, was less than 12" (30cm) away. Only windows on one side.
House 3: One of the most interesting houses I've been in. 2-story entry with a balcony going around 2 sides and bedrooms off the balcony. A huge 'French farm' kitchen, with curtains rather than doors on the 2 cabinets. A loft with a ladder going up for the main bedroom and bathroom. Lovely bathroom with huge tub and shower – that they hadn't bothered to actually hook-up to the septic system. It just drained into the back garden… as did the toilet. And the front garden? That didn't belong to the house, only driveway rights.
Interesting…but don't think so….
House 4: Perfectly nice house. Perfectly nice garden. Completely ready to move in and live. Only about 50 years old. I repeat: Where's the fun in that?
That took 2 full days: leaving at 5 on Thursday morning and getting back at 8 Friday night.
I might add that, after looking at tons of stuff on the internet, we have learned: thanks to digital cameras, wide angle lenses and photoshop, what one sees on the internet bears only the vaguest resemblance to what it actually looks like.
Ninety-five percent of the time, reality is very disappointing.
If the photos actually reflected reality, no one would every buy anything….
And they would have to clean them up…. The houses, I mean.
Maybe that's why we had trouble finding keys….
Amazingly, I found asparagus last week, three whole weeks after I thought the season had ended.
Green asparagus; the nicest I found all year!
For one last hurrah, in case you get lucky (with asparagus), here are two of my favorite ways of fixing it.
Asparagus has been enjoyed for over 2,000 years, as both a food and medicine source. It's full of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins K, C, and A, and Folate.
For those of us who love it… Asparagus season is always worthy of celebration.
Roasted Asparagus Balsamic
16oz (500gr) asparagus
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
Snap off ends of asparagus. If white use vegetable peeler and peel bottom half of stalk. In small bowl whisk olive oil, soy sauce and vinegar. Pour it onto a plate or the baking sheet and roll the asparagus in it, thoroughly coating (use your fingers!). Grill, using a pan, over indirect heat for 8 – 10 minutes, until lightly browned or roast in 400F (200C), oven for 15 minutes. Remove and serve.
Chinese Asparagus Salad
3/4 lb green asparagus
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
Snap off ends of asparagus. Roll cut asparagus in 1 inch (2.5 cm) lengths. Fill large saucepan half full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling drop in asparagus and parboil for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water. Spread them on paper towels and pat dry. In a bowl big enough to nicely hold the asparagus mix soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Add asparagus and toss lightly to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve. Best if allowed to sit for 15 – 30 minutes.
Oh, and only 1 out of the 8 houses had a lawn that had been mowed in the last 12 months.