The Summer Kitchen

It looked like Ash Wednesday started off on a good footing this morning, but when it suddenly started snowing large flakes, I began to wonder. In spite of it only lasting about five minutes or so, the size of those flakes reminded me of pieces of ash floating to the ground, which for the creepiest of reasons, made me think of the concentration camps that were burning the bodies of all those people who were either killed or died of starvation. I guess those old movies I watched which showed tall chimneys spewing ash, must’ve stamped a lasting visual memory in my mind.

For the most part, my day was filled with enough things to do where the minutes rapidly turned to hours, and once again, I found myself out of the office more than within. When looking at what Saturday’s temps were supposed to be, I decided to have a public open house at 1 Briarstone Court that afternoon, and remain hopeful there’ll be an interested buyer showing up because that home is over-due a sold sign. Now that it’s been drastically reduced, there’s no reason for it to be passed over any longer. The one marketing issue I’ve had with it, is it appearing to be much smaller from the street than it actually is, and most likely because of its dark color. Now if it were painted white, you’d swear it being one of those monster ranch homes.

I had a good showing on 12 S. Willowgreen Court today, and more than likely, the buyer will be calling for a second look. I doubt there’s another townhouse on the market with a kitchen as well constructed and meticulously designed as that one. The buyer was there long enough to see everything needed, while yours truly made sure all its features were fully disclosed.

While on the phone with a client, a near stranger dropped by my office un-announced, and proceeded to barrage me with umpteen questions regarding a home he has a vested interest in. As much as I appreciate researching homes for prospective clients, I found it a bit more than annoying when being placed on the spot and not backing down from wanting “immediate” results. I managed to pull as much information as I could, but you can be certain, today’s hammering for answers, was just the beginning. You can’t imagine how thankful a scheduled appointment arrived earlier than expected, because that was his queue to leave.

Please don’t think me wicked because I’m not, but what does make me a little “issy” is when people in the general public “think” they know all the ins and outs of preparing a home for sale, marketing it, and knowing exactly what it’s worth. I reminded my visitor today that a home’s valuation is not a perfect science because it’s only worth the amount a bona-fide buyer is willing to pay, which would be agreeable to a title-holding seller.
This business of calculating price per-square footage, is only the starting point of creating an estimate of value, but you can be sure all those number-crunching sellers who think they’re market savvy, are always the first to challenge an expert’s opinion.

The meeting with my client this afternoon was a good one, and I believe she’s fully up to speed on the whole process of getting the sale of her home finalized. Thank goodness she just recently went thru another home sale, which will hopefully make today’s all the more streamlined.

One of my customers mentioned something about how she enjoyed playing in her grandmother’s cookhouse which was located on her farm. I couldn’t believe hearing someone speaking about one, because it’s been years since I’ve heard anyone make mention of them. Of course I couldn’t help sharing with her that in my old family, they were considered summer kitchens.

The more we spoke of our summer kitchen experiences, the more I remembered those I’d been in, and one in particular, still in use on a farm owned by one of my grandmother’s cousins. I was likely ten years old when there, yet I can still remember the wonderful “smells” that emanated from its interior. My grandmother’s cousin just happened to be firing up a cookstove that was out there, and readying it for some canning she was preparing to do that day. Oh what a wonderful stepping back in time that day was.

She must’ve been considered conservatively well-off, because she also had a wood-fired cookstove in her regular kitchen, and that too was busy baking that week’s loaves of bread. You can imagine how curious I was about the whole process of cooking on those giant stoves with their hot water reservoirs, stove pipes, and firewood storage boxes.

For sure it wasn’t a hot day because she wouldn’t have had her kitchen range going because the main reason for having those summer kitchens, was to help keep their vintage farm homes from getting unbearably hot. Believe it or not, there still are a few converted summer kitchens on old homesteads around North Iowa, but unfortunately most of them have been turned into storage sheds, but if you’re willing to take the time, check to see if there is, or once was, a brick chimney with a stovepipe hole, and if it’s there, you can be sure it was originally built as a “cookhouse”.

When you think about it, people living back in the horse and buggy days, did everything they could to make their lives reasonably comfortable, considering how primitive their ways would be branded in our “convenience-oriented” times. Now tell me, wouldn’t you like to spend a full day or two living their lives in some retro-farmstead? I can assure you, upon return, you’d have a greater respect for those who helped build our Country.

Tonight’s one-liner is: Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the nearest cornfield.

Related Property:
12 S. Willowgreen Court – Mason City
Joe Chodur

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