The Studio Gallery, Unit A and the house thermostat

The house thermostat!
The house has one central thermostat that runs the boiler that serves all the apartment radiators.   Originally it was in apartment B, but the previous owners deemed that unit A was a better choice.   (Probably largely because they lived there on a part time basis.)
In the summer the thermostat is not an issue at all, the boiler is off, but in the winter if you intend to stay in the Gallery please read the following:
(So what?  You may ask. . . possibly not living yourself with a hundred year old boiler-driven radiator system.)
And on this note, experts all agree, radiant heat is among the healthiest and most efficient forms of heating–no ducts, no shared air, no mold, no drafts or smells.  But, a central-boiler hot water system is not easily “tweakable”.  It takes hours to heat up properly–and hours to cool down.
Simple really, but the thermostat has to be somewhere, and in the Gallery is it,  so anything that affects the heat of the Gallery affects the whole house.  Cool the Gallery, heat the rest of the house, heat the Gallery cool the rest of the house.  That’s how a thermostat works.  And it has worked well for years–with a few cautions and stories to tell, as you will see below.

The Gallery tends to run cool and many people like that as the house as a whole tends to run warm.   And though on occasion we attempt to mitigate this coolness for a specific client–being at a comfortable temperature is important and people have different thermostats themselves–whatever we do in the Gallery affects the whole house–a lot–so we also adjust the thermostat to take this into account.  Ask and it shall be done.  Just please don’t do it on your own, because like the thermostat you have no way of knowing what is going on in the rest of the house.

You can stop at this point, knowing that staying in the Gallery you must be careful (and communicative) about heat and cold when the furnace is on, but if you are interested, let me tell you a quick story to illustrate the point–the saga of Curt and the thermostat in November, 1999.
In that period, the house thermostat in unit A was “open.”  Unlocked that is, because the owners of the house traditionally occupied that space.
Now it is in a locked box, and you will see why in a moment.
Many, many years ago we had a tenant, call him Curt, who developed a terrible problem with alcohol.
:(( Sad!
He lived for a time with his girlfriend in  Apartment C, eventually leaving on fairly good terms to go back to the coast in the fall.   Several months later during  a chilly November, he asked to spend a night in the Gallery.  He had some business to attend to here in Spokane.

We said sure!  It is pretty common for past tenants to visit.  He went about his business and we did not see much of him that night, just noted that he had arrived.  The next morning I got a call from one of the other tenants, Anthony, who lived in F, at the top of the house.

“Something is wrong with the house!” Anthony informed me.
“What’s the issue?”
“It’s boiling!  All the radiators are starting to melt things near them.”
Anthony met me at the door of A, which we found ominously open in a bracing 42 degree wind.
Through the open door we saw Curt on the bed, sprawled in an unconscious state.  Anthony tended to Curt, and I headed for the thermostat. The situation became clear almost immediately.
Curt had arrived home, drunk, some time in the night or early morning, and presumably he felt chilly.  Seeing the house thermostat available, he cranked it up from just below 70 where it normally sits, to a bit over 80.  Then he fell asleep.
Some time later he was hot, or sick, or whatever, and he opened the front door for some ventilation, allowing a chilly breeze to flow over the raised thermostat.
So, you know the story, the house boiler–which is huge and circulates many hundreds of gallons of hot water through the paired labyrinth of pipes and radiators–had reverse feedback.
The thermostat, from a single room, carelessly mishandled, was giving the boiler feedback: “TOO COLD! Bring heat!”  And the boiler was doing that.  Running full tilt bringing the whole house to over ninety degrees, except the Gallery with the door open could not sense this.
The moral of the story, almost as sobering as Curt’s hangover, is that even small changes in unit A make a huge difference to the heating feedback loop of the house.
So when the suggestion is made from the Gallery, I’m a bit chilly, can you give me a space heater?  I run a bit cold and nervous–as should the other tenants in the building!  Just like Curt’s open November door could boil the house, one guest making themselves at home by turning up the space heater can shut the boiler down for the whole house.
So in the winter we sometimes DO put an extra heater in the Gallery.  There are lots of windows and even with insulated blinds it runs cool in there.  But, it really is for everyone’s mutual good that the heater has tape on it!
(The heater must stay in that location–away from the house thermostat–and on that plug, which is a modern dedicated circuit.)  Some of them are still the old style.  Please don’t experiment.  We put that one in just for this purpose.
If we provide a heater to slightly boost the Gallery temperature, we have also adjusted the temperature of the house thermostat, so please communicate with us if you want to turn your heater off.  Generally during bed time that would be okay–but you have to turn it back on in the morning or the adjusted thermostat will make everybody else really too warm.
We run the boiler by agreement and consensus of all the guests, so we need feedback. Typically there are complaints of too hot rather than too cold, particularly during the “shoulder months” when Spokane weather it can be a nippy 30 degrees in a morning and very probably 70 by the afternoon.
Anyway, please keep this softly in mind if you staying the Gallery.  We are all depending on you!
(Rick relates–its like sitting in the emergency exit row of an airplane.  If you are not prepared to care for the emergency door–please don’t sit there!  There are many other nice offerings to choose from.)

The Odell House Ballroom Unit F

The Ballroom takes up the entire third floor of the Odell House.  It is the largest of the apartments and looks out in all directions from the dormer windows.  It has two porches, the north face is open and has a small sitting area.

The Ballroom is typically not rented for shorter stays because, frankly, people don’t like to climb the stairs with all their belongings for a very short stay.  And it makes such a nice secure spot for a permanent resident that we encourage that.


It is a crow’s nest, and if the fit is good people tend to stick there.  Most say it is the nicest unit in the house.  I’ll say more about the positives and negatives at the base of this post.

The south face is a lovely small sun room that can serve as an extra bedroom.  (It currently contains a twin couch with futon mattress.)

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The Ballroom apartment’s large main living room on the other end also mimics the shape of the arched roof line.  It is rumored that dances were held there “back in the day.”  The ceiling is 14 feet at the middle.  And that room alone is a generous 300 square feet.



The bedroom has slanted ceilings and sits to the west side under the eves.

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Dining room is in the center–the shot below looking to bedroom–this older picture shows the dining area with painted woodwork.  It was all stripped in 2005.



The dining room has a matched pair of Art Deco brown tip slip shade chandeliers.




The furniture has varied over time, but the small glass table is a good fit for the dining room’s size.


The original bath and toilet are in a small room under the eves.  The claw foot tub is a five foot luxury item.


But the guys complained about no proper stand up shower.

So we pilfered the closet across the hall and made a large shower area with tiled seat.



The kitchen has had some updates as well.

The tile floor has radiant heat on its own thermostat.

An apartment sized Bosch dishwasher, and Electrolux under cabinet refrigerator.  There is also a tiny condiment fridge with freezer to the right, and a chest freezer in the entry.

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This older photo shows the stove and counter as is.  The portable dishwasher was replaced by the built in that took over the drawers to the left of the sink.

The good points:

On the third floor and good for your fitness.

Warm.  Nicely heated in winter, we most often keep the radiators turned down or off.

Very well updated with new electrical panel, lots of plugs and modern appliances.

A very charming and comfortable space.  Both cave-like and tree house-like.

The bad points:

On the third floor and you must if you forget your keys go back and get them.

Warm.  In the summer it is well supplied with air conditioners and sun blocking curtains, but certain areas of the roof make some of the eves hot–not all, but enough to make you pay attention.

On the third floor–you really must not mind climbing the stairs!


This post is actually written for my son Nick.

(But you can read it too if you want.  It’s about the peppers I’m sending him–because the guests just don’t seem to eat enough of them!)


Hi Nick!

He’s back east without a garden, dogging his doctorate in Econ, so I’m sending him some of “our” peppers.

Background: Nick as a twenty-something, exhibiting typical Forbes social skills, put himself “into training” to be able to eat very hot raw peppers with a flat affect.  The purpose of the “skill” was tempting his “friends” on the debate team to partake as well.   A sort of culinary, come on in, the water is fine. . .”

Of course this tempted me to try to grow something that even Nick could not eat.

(The apple does not fall very far from the tree.)

So, here’s what’s on the “pepper menu” here at the Odell House.

To the right of the Poplar Street door.

The pepper Chenzo,


A feisty ornamental, developed in England, that we planted last year in a pot.  It looked too pretty in the fall to let freeze, so we overwintering it in somewhat rugged conditions in unit 2.  Lots of heat, but little water and almost no care.  Lots of sun.

And it came back at us this spring with a perfect vengeance of peppers.

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Which remain almost unmolested.

Really, they do get almost sweet when they turn red. . .honestly.

Near them on the steps is an interesting little number, still green at present, called Hinkelhats.

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In our climate they may never look like they are supposed to above, red, but are so incredibly hot that Nick may be the only one to make a report on their flavor.


For those of you that must know “Hinkelhatz” is Pennsylvania Dutch for “Chicken heart” and they have been grown since the 1880s, according to Seed Savers Exchange, “Traditionally used for pickling and making pepper vinegar. Small fruits (¾” wide by 1-2″ long) ripen from green to glossy red. 80-90 days from transplant. HOT.”

Chicken hearts–they do kind of look like that.

To the left of the door, a lovely and prolific pepper that I have made more than one meal totally inedible by not taking out the seeds.  It is innocently called “Lemon Drop”

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Rare Seeds reports “Seasoning pepper from Peru ripens to a clear lemon yellow, sometimes with a dark purple blush. The flavor is a very clean, uncomplicated, slightly citrus-y heat. 2-foot plants are covered with the thin-walled, conical fruits which reach 2-3 inches in length, with very few seeds”

Our advice?  Even if it has just one measly seed, take it out.  Left of the door, eat all you can. Take some home.  (Prolific).

Then on the other side of the house there is a stash in our private area



These are Hungarian Wax and Sweet Banana.  (Nothing sweet about them.)

And some which you are quite free to ask for if you are in the mood to really hurt yourself.




The upward facing longer ones (1.5 inches or less) are, as they report, Super Chili.

The middle a somewhat intimidating “Vietnamese Tear-Jerker”.

The ones to the right of there, (up in the picture below,) the very small ones, are described as “tiny slivers of fire”.


Or by the very short Hmong woman that I bought the plants from this spring at the farmers market,

“Very hot.”  (Sly smile.)

One seed source identifies them as “Chinese Ornamental”  Later saying they are great for containers.

My question, containers of what? 

I have been too frightened to touch them–except when I packed up a couple of handfuls for Nick. . .


So there you have it!  If you want some left in your unit now is the time to ask!



Noun: decorum

Behavior in keeping with good taste and propriety.
“you exhibit remarkable modesty and decorum.”
And of course “good taste and propriety” depend entirely on where you are.
When traveling in India it is an unthinkable insult to touch someone with your left hand.
Yet in some circles if you do not offer that same arm, it is rude.

A surprising number of people report worrying about how one acts at a “Bed and Breakfast.”

What are the rules?

We at the Odell House are of course the classic introvert’s  B&B, offering perfectly private, self contained apartments for shorter and longer term stay.  Breakfast with the neighbors is of course an option.  But you’ll have to find some neighbors and cook for them. . .

Anyway, how do you act?  Well, just like in any communal living situation, with consideration for others and realizing some requests and actions must happen at certain times.  For example, we do not undertake housekeeping with loud vacuums at ten at night.  We do housekeeping during the day, and hopefully at a time when people will not be bothered. Same with construction.  We attempt to plan around our guests.

Likewise, not every moment that we are on site are we automatically available for guest requests in person.  Just because you can see us does not mean we are not occupied–with another task or family need or just plain not at work.  Its a fact of life with no employees and living on site.

But, (and you pessimists about human nature will be surprised,)  it is not much of an issue, because, well, we have the most wonderful guests!


Every day I am impressed with their behavior and decorum.  (This young gentleman’s parents asked if he could enter the private area that also encloses the chicken coop.  That was great because we could advise them if a guest was in residence with a dog for instance, or someone who preferred privacy in their own area.)

The people we meet here are by in large considerate, polite, socially appropriate, and just plain great.


I see this on a daily basis.  The Odell House has lots of spaces.  Some of these spaces are private to their specific unit–all the porches.  Some of them are public for everyone to use–the gazebo yard with gas grill and common garden area.

Our guests are sensitive to both space and time.

For example, only one single time has anyone knocked at our door at  9PM wanting a better internet connection.

Most guests discuss which wireless system (there are four) will work best for them, and read the check in note to the very end.  (All the codes are given–some are so blastedly alpha-numeric that they are impossible to remember without electronics.)

We have some loaner bikes and support bicycle commuting.  Knowing we don’t even have a front desk, never mind a staff waiting to assist with recreational activities, most people understand that they must make an appointment with the expert  (Rick) to be helped with a bike.  They call him and set up a time.


Guests rarely interrupt us when we are working.  They know that while I am ironing  in the basement with the door open,


attempting to make things flat,


I am also working on the plot for my next book. . .

Never mind the thing (a mangle) takes a while to heat up, is tricky to gauge temperature after shut off–and quite possibly dangerous to leave running unattended.

We actually have three of these via the largess of Craigslist and Rick’s good friend Lew The Picker.


I have on occasion offered enthusiastically to show people how to use them, because it really is fun.  So far no takers.

(And people think I am not social?   This reminds me of a story Rick told from his days as a therapist, illustrating to help a OCD patient, you must first join them.  His example was a colleague, who having a man in treatment claiming to be Jesus, suggested the following:  I hear you have a background in carpentry. . .)

Back to the normal!  Our guests call when they want something, or email, rather than rattling the door they suspect we are hiding behind.


(We are introverts and quite clear about it–it says so in all the advertising.)

Rick below, faking it.


Our guests know that before or after eight we might be asleep, so really only make night contact in an emergency.

And that is of course fine.

They are uniformly patient if they catch Rick or I going to work (yes we have jobs) on a horse or bike.


They trust that if we can’t make a booking or help immediately, we will get back to them promptly.


“On hold” does not exist for us, but busy or not near the computer certainly does.


Re emergencies: they know an actual emergency is far different than a momentary inconvenience.

If a guest is locked out we handle it as an actual emergency.

We always have a set of spare keys stashed and can describe if need be how to access them.

Guests also tend to know the difference in service provided for a nightly stay and one for a month or longer.


We fill both roles and it is natural for example that a nightly guest who wants the tires pumped up on their bike, and has forgotten their own pump, will ask to borrow Rick’s.  That’s fine.  If a semi-permanent resident demanded such service daily, that would be invasive.  Here for a night is different than here for a month.   Different contract, different price, different cleaning expectations.

Our guests are by in large very smart people, who exhibit sensible behavior and good judgement.  They are remarkably clear abut their roles and needs.  They are adept at understanding sharing space, resources and time.



I have yet to have a guest ask me for more towels when I they spotted me walking the cat–they seem to intuitively know he has been looking forward to this all day, and does not understand being hustled back inside on a stranger’s whim.
Our guests know the towels will come.
And that this moment is very important to the cat. . .

Spokane Farmers Market

We have a rather nice farmers market here in Spokane.



Several in fact, but the one I usually use is open Wednesdays and Saturdays eight AM to 1 PM.

Mid May to Mid October on Saturdays and Wednesdays, about a month at either end only Saturdays.


It is located off the Division Exit of I-90.  Just to the south of the highway.  5th and Division, 5th and Brown.  There is a small field there that you can see from the highway.

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Why this particular market?  Well, loyalty for one thing because we were involved for a number of years selling hand spun yarn from our sheep and goats up at the farm.  Finally we just got too busy and had to cut back on that activity.  (Though I still spin on occasion and the carding equipment exists in the basement.)

Locally-produced food is undoubtedly better tasting and better for you and the planet.

Alice Waters from the Wall Street Journal

“This movement [valuing local food] poses a threat to fast-food businesses and industrial food companies, both of which I predict will continue to shape-shift and co-opt their values for profit. As long as their products continue to be supported by government subsidies, they will be successful. The reality is that the sustainable-food movement’s reach will grow only to a point and ultimately will be limited to those with access, means and education—unless legislators dramatically change food and agriculture policy.

I think that those in government will come back to their senses in the coming years and begin to subsidize farms instead of factories. As access to real food becomes increasingly divided between the haves and the have-nots, food security will become even more of a social-justice issue.”

(A good example oF corporate interest shape-shifting was the Starbuck’s infamous series of field trips to actual local coffee bars to see what ideas they could come up with to seem more “real.”  Apparently they took up a lot of space for a time and bought no competitor’s coffee.)

Here by the way is one of our favorite coffee roasters:


(Great coffee–you’ll find some and a grinder in your unit, but visit them too–right across the river in Kendall Yards)

The Farmers Market sadly offers no coffee, but makes up for it with several great bakers, cheese makers, organic meat (Beef, goat, pork, chicken)  seedlings, flowers, wonderful fruits and vegetables in season, and eggs.

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On weekends, when our little flock cannot possibly keep up with demand, we sometimes supplement our egg production with other home-kept chicken’s offerings.


Anyhow, the market is easy to find and not five minutes away by car, or an easy bike ride.  Go east on the Highway to Division St exit, bear right, go right at the light and it is there to your right.  Or wend your way through town, under the highway and follow 5th east until you run into the market field.

Late July foraging in the garden



The round Zucchini in the bales are very tender,


and the pole beans (two colors–purple and green–) need to be picked every day.  Please do so




In the Gazebo yard some green Walla Walla sweet onions are ready to uproot. I have planted upland cress under them. You’ll see lots of sprouts soon.




There are some interesting peppers are forming in the pots.  The black ones by the door–turning red in some cases–are very hot. (Very.)


The green ones less so–right now anyway.  The yellow generally down facing peppers are Hot Banana–but not too hot.  The yellow generally up facing at Hungarian Wax, and those will definitely get your attention. . .


On the other side, by the chickens we have some new snow peas planted–I ripped out the old ones as the heat had stopped production.  (Peas like cool weather and it has been anything but here of late.  (left below the ones that were taking over the world.)

There are some interesting greens with Tai Chili peppers in front of them to the right.  They are doing well and should be eaten.  The beet greens to the left of there need to stay on to nourish the beat crop.


Same for the shallots.  They will be better allowed to mature in the other raised bed.

Across the way are some bunching onions that need to be picked as green onions and some Swiss Chard that thinks it is too hot for a cold season vegetable. I have planted more of that too for the fall.

You will also find basil in the area shown above and to the left of the steps on Poplar Street. (Black oval pot on walk)

That thing in the bathroom–a Turkish Towel

A Turkish towel is a fine thing.

I discovered them hunting for “all cotton towels”–which as you can imagine we use a good number of, and replace pretty frequently. (They get washed a lot).

Up popped Turkish Towel.

And now we have some.

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Until recently, I didn’t know that a Turkish towel is a cotton or linen flat weave (no loops like terry) cloth that is soft, very absorbent and quick drying.  I found some on Amazon and some on Etsy.

Nervous at first about having things shipped from Turkey I was hesitant to go to the source with Etsy.

But after a while I got over it, lured by the deep colored ones above.  I found a very nice and communicative Turkish shop who in due time (about a week) shipped me the best ones I have come across.

Here they are.

All the towels are nice, and all are cotton and/or a linen blend, but these are thicker, came out of the bag smelling faintly (and nicely) of goat rather than petroleum.  I wash everything anyway, but there was no doubt in my mind that a bit of goat was a lot better for the weaver–and there is no doubt these are hand woven–than whatever else was being applied.

They are excellent for drying yourself after a bath, wrap and dry hair very effectively.  They are also easier on energy as they dry very well on their own, can be line dried without getting crunchy, and take less both washer and dryer space if you use the machines.

Never mind, in use they add a certain flair to the user–better illustrated than described.  :)


A nameless Turk modelling in his natural environment. .  .