Sharing our happiness

#481 in a series of true experiences in real estate
February 2005, Hills Newspapers

Following is a medley of happy experiences and discoveries we’ve recently had.
The sewer line backed up at our listing. That was the bad part, but after that, all sorts of rosy things happened.

The house was vacant and water had overflowed into the house. One of our helpers stopped by the house at the perfect time. She was mopping up water before any of it could run onto the beautiful, just-refinished hardwood floors.

And she called us. We happened to be in the car not far from the house so we started driving there. As we drove, we called Paul Croxton, Central Plumbing & Rooter, on his cell phone. Unbelievably, he was in his truck only a few blocks from us, so he drove to the house too.

Very quickly, Paul stopped the flow, assured us we were dealing with rain water, not sewage, and gave us a bid and date for further repairs. We mopped some more, no damage was done to the house, a happy ending.

On another day, we went to Galvin Appliance to look at dishwashers. For another listing, a marvelous house built in 1927, we were hoping to add a dishwasher. We had measured the depth of the original old yellow tile counter at a mere 21 inches. Dishwashers, we knew, are generally 24 inches deep.

Still, we were hopeful, because at another listing sometime before, our seller had himself installed a dishwasher in his original old, tiled, shallow-depth counter – a beautiful Bosch dishwasher just like the one I have in my own kitchen.

So, we went to Galvin, and were greeted by Ken Barta, the beginning of other happy experiences. Ken knows dishwashers – sizes, features, costs. He was sure that a Bosch would indeed fit into the space. It was simply a matter of choosing which model.

Ken is articulate and efficient. In a matter of minutes he’d told us everything we needed to know, printed out a spec sheet on the model of our choice and walked us to the door. He is our kind of salesman!

Next we talked to our contractor Shaun O’Quinn who would be attending to the installation. We were trying to figure what would have to come out in order to make an opening sufficient for the dishwasher. Two sets of drawers, equal in width, were in the space to the left of the sink. Neither set was quite wide enough.

We admire old kitchen cabinetry, sturdy and well joined as it is, and whenever possible, we vote to keep it.

Shaun is a miracle. He removed one drawer set and then, to get the extra width necessary, he moved one side of the under-the-sink space an inch, taking another bit from the upright between the sets of drawers. Hey, happy dishwashing!

We love sushi. Lately we’ve been going to Serika in Orinda, set among the shops next door to the theater. We can’t seem to get enough, and have gone as many as 3 times in one week. The miso soup at Serika is the best we’ve ever had. Anet always says as she sips and swallows that wonderful hot brew, “Doesn’t it just make you feel healed and good?”

The green tea, too, is delicious. We wish we could make this same tea at home but we don’t know where to find it. Sushi, sashimi, tempura, all are perfection. A very happy discovery for us.

We were at Smith & Hawken in Berkeley, had picked out some things we wanted, including a new falling-flower-form of hydrangea. Anet handed the clerk a gift card a client had once sent to us. The clerk ran the number through the computer.

“Sorry,” she nicely told us, “There is no money on this card.” She called accounting on the phone. “No record,” she was told. Anet got on the phone and was asked for the zip code of the person who gave us the card, then her name, and finally her credit card number.

We do not, of course, know our client’s credit card number, and we were not about to call her to ask about the gift. Meanwhile, another clerk was listening to what was going on. He took it on himself to make another phone call, this one to customer service.

And he actually did it, got our gift card “reinstated.” As we thanked him for service above and beyond, he told us that he had recently started his own business, and he agreed with us. He, too, would be uncomfortable asking a client for more info on a gift she’d sent.

What sort of business is Adam Stein doing outside his hours at Smith & Hawken? Catering. With his two sisters, Three Pears Catering serves San Francisco and the East Bay.

Would Adam like to make sandwiches for our next agent open house? Absolutely. And so, on the spot, we hired him. Adam is professional and thoughtful. His sandwiches were tasty and a big hit – roast beef with mango chutney, and vegetarian grilled onions and mushrooms with goat cheese.

While I’m talking of food and happy events, I must tell of the miniature wedding cake made for us for another open house. Our theme for this small one-bedroom house in Albany was June wedding.

It came to me that we had to have a wedding cake, a small one. I briefly considered baking one myself, thought better of it and called Spun Sugar, a baking supply and candy store in Berkeley which, I knew, also offers cake decorating classes.

When I called, I was referred to Sonya, to whom I described my vision. I knew I’d found the right person when she said, “This sounds like fun.” Sonya baked and decorated the most perfect cake I’ve ever seen, 3 layers, ten, eight and six inch rounds. All white frosting with lacy white piping on the sides. We set the cake on a doily-covered plate and decorated it with baby pink rosebuds.

I enjoyed seeing that cake, then cutting and serving teeny pieces to agents more than it is possible to tell. It was like the ultimate tea party, and very happy.

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