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Our old house is definitely NOT ready for its close-up
December 1, 2017
Article originally sourced from: Observer Reporter
"The whole town knows we will be selling our house soon. The signs have been everywhere: the scaffolding finally came down after almost two years of the farmer painting; we haul random furniture to the curb every week; we’ve started the move to the new place. There’s no “For Sale” sign in the yard yet, but people know the house will soon be up for grabs.
And so, we weren’t really surprised when a neighborhood real estate agent called to say she had a prospect, a mature couple who are looking to buy a grand old house in our neighborhood. They wanted to tour the house the next day.
“It’s nowhere near in shape to show,” I said.
“They understand that,” she said.
“No, really,” I said. “It looks like we brought a bulldozer in to shove all of our stuff into one room.” Fraternity houses on Sunday morning look more buyer-reader than ours right now.
“I’ll explain that,” she said. I was inclined to decline, but she made a case for showing the house, since the prospective buyers would be in town only for a few days. It was a bird-in-hand situation. And so, as if I had only two brain cells still up and running, I agreed.
Because we are downsizing, we’ve peeled off much of what we own – moving some of it to the new house and giving or tossing away most of the rest. What’s left is a three-story house that looks like a bunch of squirrels took over, abandoning half the rooms and storing all their nuts in just a few others.
The shuffling about was necessary to accommodate workers who put in new wooden floors and new carpets. You never realize how much stuff you own until you have to move all of it from five bedrooms into one bathroom.
This called for triage. In medical terms, triage is how doctors decide which patient to treat first. In my house-cleaning scenario, it meant trying to anticipate what these strangers might forgive, overlook or be horrified by.
I started at the beginning, clearing the front porch of leaves and the tired, old desk chair that had inexplicably been sitting on it all summer. I dragged it to the curb. Next, the foyer: the new hardwood helps, but too bad we already moved the piano out. If they turn left into the living room, we’re doomed. It’s empty but for a tall, wooden cabinet that is too large for the new house but too nice to give away. It stands in the middle of the room like the fat lady singing alone on stage. We can’t move it until we get coasters to protect the new floor.
Dining room? Without a table under it, the chandelier is at noggin height. Let’s hope this couple is no taller than four feet ten. Kitchen? Let’s hope they like dogs, because that’s where Howard, Lucy and Smoothie will be. I asked my very tall farmer to please remove the wooden rooster from the space above the cabinets. It’s too knick-knacky. He said to leave it, so I hope they like wooden roosters. Master bathroom? It’s holding furniture from three bedrooms. I hope the real estate agent confirms that there is a toilet, in fact, behind all of that, and also a whirlpool tub, in case they’re interested.
That’s the problem with getting a house ready to show. You can drive yourself crazy trying to anticipate the tastes of the people who tour it. Walking through the rooms, I cringed thinking that people would be seeing all this. I wish I could follow behind them saying “Work in Progress,” over and over again.
Turns out the couple canceled. Did they find another house? Maybe. That’s OK, because for now, ours can’t compete anyway."