Before well-meaning botanists write in, I know this common garden weed is technically, "oxalis," but for the sake of poetry, perhaps you'll give me some literary latitude ("over" doesn't rhyme with "oxalis").
The point is that these prolific 4-leaf clovers keep sprouting up all over my newly-planted yard and it doesn't help that my neighbors aren't nearly so diligent (or neurotic) about keeping their beds clear, which leaves me all alone out there fighting Mother Nature. (She's got her nerve.)
So I've taken to spending about 10 minutes each morning, right after my walk around Lake Merritt, glancing over the beds and vigorously attacking any new leaf that emerges. There's something both perverse and entirely satisfying about this task - like pulling a grey hair (What grey hair?) - that keeps me going at it day after day, even though it's a fight I will never entirely win, no matter how many hours I dedicate to the pursuit of a weed-free garden.
In any case, weeding has become my daily active-meditation practice as I mindfully cultivate my garden, and ignore the barking Portuguese Water Dogs next door lunging at me through the windows. (They're a little crazy if you ask me.)
For those of you house hunting this spring, it's likely that you'll be doing the same thing. No, not ignoring the crazy dogs next door, but certainly "weeding" down your choices as you define what's really important to you and your family.
It's all well and good to create a wish list that includes a chef's kitchen, pantry, wood-burning fireplace, home office, hardwood floors, 2-car garage, walk-in closets, en suite master bedroom, French doors, and BIG back yard, but once you actually enter the marketplace and begin competing with others (who, not surprisingly, have a list that's often fairly similar to yours),you're going to need to start quantifying and qualifying what exactly you can live without. In other words, what's your value proposition? (It's different for everybody.)
Unless you are building your dream home from scratch and have unlimited amounts of CASH(!), it's going to be impossible to get absolutely everything your heart desires. Even then, you're likely to find that you overlooked something you now wish you had given more attention to. (For me, it's a laundry room. What was I thinking?)
In truth, I've yet to sell the "perfect" home and I've been at this game a fair number of years. Whether a Buyer has five million or $500,000 to spend, chances are, there are certain elements on the wish list that you'll be forced to let go of. (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.)
Views? Public schools? Playground? Location? Privacy? Natural light? Family room? Storage? What's your pleasure? And as importantly, what is your partner's? AND how will the characteristics you covet the most right now need to evolve as your life takes shape?
For example, that sexy, vertical, uber-modern Contemporary on the hill, may not be so fantastic once a baby comes along . . . and on the other end of the spectrum, all-level living is certainly going to be more attractive to us Boomers as we age out of stairs and 2-story living. These considerations are at least worth a passing thought if you plan to stay in the home for the long term.
Not that I'm complaining, mind you; it's life's transitions that keep us Realtors actively employed, (Thank you very much.) but as I prod, pull, tug, nay, PUSH you into the stark reality about what your budget actually affords, here's an exercise I'd like you to try that's designed to bring a little more clarity.
List ALL of the elements you desire in a home and then give them a numerical value between 1-10. If there are two of you making the decision, you should assign the values separately and then bring them together to see where they overlap and agree. The unanimous high scores will be the easy "yeses;" while the others lower down on the scale, will be up for interpretation and vigorous debate. But either way, you'll quickly see what's truly important to you both and where you need to set your compass. Make sense? (I hope so.) And if you're still speaking to one another once you've accomplished this exercise, try placing everything onto a Venn Diagram just for fun and see what overlaps.
Let's remember that although this is homework, (pun intended), it's worth a few minutes of your time to help you attain your goals which, in turn, "helps me, help you." (That's how the garden grows.) None of us is going to get everything we want, but when you truly define what's nonnegotiable, it makes the hunt, if not easier, certainly more directed.
Now where are my garden gloves; weeds wait for no man (or woman) . . .
How can I help you?
Check out my Instagram at: piedmontrealtorgirl
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.