Wakefield Apartment 3 The Painter’s Perch

We have used apartment 3 of the Wakefield on and off for the last ten years as a furnished unit.  Not very many people have stayed there, because it has a tendency to have its renters move in and just not move out.

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It has its own entry, tucked into the back of the house.IMG_1369

The back right corner–you can sort of see the steps.

Here is the front face of the house:

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If you looked right towards the bluff and river here are some of the views:

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This one taken from the picture window in the living/dining room. The light through the trees is the Spokane River, down the bluff and an easy–though steep–walk through the museum grounds next door.

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The one above is standing on the stairs looking north.

The kitchen is very workable–newly paintedIMG_1380 IMG_1362

By George.

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Whose attention to detail is something you don’t hear very often coupled with “rental unit.”

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The living room is spacious:IMG_1379 IMG_1378 IMG_1423

And leads to the bedroom.

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The bedroom has a little sitting area, access the the bath, and a tiny sun room, which is actually nice for opening in the summer nights to increase the airflow.  The view of course is beyond beautiful.

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It’s a nice space.

It’s called the Painter’s Perch because a famous local landscape artist once had his studio there.  He now paints just down the hill.

Long term guests. Check out cleaning.

This information about how a unit is to be left is not applicable to short-term, nightly or weekly stays. Short-term guests have already paid to have their units cleaned for them–it is included in the rate.

Renting a furnished unit long-term, that is month to month at a steeply reduced rate, involves a partially refundable cleaning fee.

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If you want some of the cleaning fee back at the end of your stay, that can be accomplished.  But, we are also perfectly happy to clean your unit for you after you depart.

If you’d like us to do the cleaning, and most people do, please let us know the week before so we can schedule both help and time in between tenants.

What does it cost and how long does it take? A checkout clean will easily take up the total of your deposited cleaning funds.  If you do it yourself please make sure you allocate roughly six or more hours to effectively clean your unit.  Really.  That is how long it takes.  We don’t expect to just wipe down your unit before the next guest arrives.  It has to be dismantled and really thoroughly cleaned.

I tell a story below, but for those who’d just like to know what is expected (and not expected), here is a list.

To get all but about $30 of your cleaning money back you should make sure the following have been done.

Pots and pans, dishes cabinets: Dishes should be squeaky clean, cabinets wiped out.  If you suspect a pan has worn out please leave it on the counter.  We will donate or discard it.

Leftover food: please either discard (or leave in a bag for us to sort for the chickens) any opened containers.  The exceptions to this are salt, pepper, sugar, flour and the teas and supplies your unit came equipped with.  Do NOT leave partially used items “for the next tenant.”  We know it makes no sense, but they will not use them.  Trust us.

Bath soap: Please do not throw away our containers for the organic soaps.  We refill them.

Linens and towels: please do not bother to make the beds.  We will be washing everything. Used towels should go in the bathtub.  (This service is where the partially refundable comes in.)

Appliances: The microwave, coffee pot, toaster, refrigerator and stove should be clean. The drip pans should be cleaned and covered with new tin foil–or replaced. (Roughly $15)

Carpets:   If your stay has exceeded six months or you have had pets in residence we will have the carpets cleaned.  We use a black light to make sure any problem areas are dealt with.

The hardwood floors and most woodwork have a polyurethane finish. Do not use any oil base soaps (for example Murphy’s) as it makes them impossible to re-coat as needed  Please vacuum, sweep and wipe down hard surfaces lightly with water, or glass cleaner (vinegar). Damp rag, not wet.

Bathroom: If you don’t think you could happily eat off of every surface in the bathroom, it is not clean enough. If the next guest sees one hair in the bathroom the assumption will be that it has not been cleaned.  This is not easy to do and not something you would ever have to do in your own home.

You are not responsible for the following: replacing the shower curtain, cleaning the chandeliers, the blinds, the baseboard, moving major furniture to clean behind it or under it.  And as stated, we always do the linens for the next guest.

The law on damage deposits is the landlord has two weeks to assess and actually clean/repair the unit to reach a total documented damage deposit refund, but there is no such rule on the optional refund of cleaning fees.  That is truly at our discretion.  If you are concerned or have questions after reading the list above, please ask. And certainly, if you find something amiss on your check in let us know.  That is not complaining, it is information we need.

Now the story:

The purpose of a checkout cleaning is to make the just lived in unit “as new as possible” for the next guest.  A totally clean slate.

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And that, my friends and clients, is not something that is just like tidying up for a casual visitor.  Things must be more orderly than “normal”.  This is complicated by furniture that is antique, and the extreme variance in people’s perception of “normal”.

And the attachment to the idea that slight effort will result in  “good enough” for the next tenant has its problems.

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Nice floor!

People “read” the situation carefully when they arrive.  And if they find a hair in the tub, a spot on the refrigerator, crumbs in the pans, fingerprints on the windows–all normal unnoticed things that happen in the course of living in a place–they notice.  And not in a nice or comfortable way.

An economist would call leaving a unit needing work (that would be resented if it was paid for) an “externality.” That is a cost that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost.  The tenant in the future does not want to pay for the maintenance required by the actions of their predecessor.  And they should not have to.  Most people are orderly, but sometimes even if orderly, they are busy and pressed for time.  We know this.

That is why we do not charge equally for everyone–because it is not fair.  The living habits on one set of guests may take three hours to erase, for others, six times that.  A $500 difference in resources expended.  In our opinion that should not be spread between all guests.  Simply, we have a policy of cleaning funds being set aside because we like to keep our rates as low as possible and do not like to charge the tenant in X for the cleaning of Y.  Time required is ridiculously variable and the cleaning funds, though present are relatively minor.

We also know that tidiness has nothing to do with the character of a particular guest.

How people approach the cleaning funds on deposit, public comment after the fact and behavior while on site, really are character issues.  Grime is not.  I don’t care what your mother said!

Oh, and it also does not matter what people self-report.

So, though we really don’t care if a guest cleans or not, the unit must be close to perfect for the next guest, so we like to know in advance so we can schedule appropriate time both for the cleaning, and not booking the unit too closely.

Indulge me in telling you a story that may make this more clear, and ask yourself in the window of between an 11 AM check out and a 3PM check in if the cleaning I describe below could have happened?  Hint: it involved three workers, two trips to the hardware store, a makeshift repair, and about a day and a half.  The tenant was great–just busy and not a slavish housekeeper.  No problem.

If you like, here’s the story, with pictures, and keep in mind when you look at them that the more updated, more expensive units are MUCH easier to take care of.  Smooth, shiny, hard, surfaces are a lot easier to deal with.

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This unit (D of the Odell) recently had about a $40,000 upgrade having to do with surfaces.  Tile floors, new fridge, induction cook top, dishwasher, self cleaning oven.  These things make life easier.  We understand this. The furniture is still antique.

We once had an individual stay with us  in a different apartment who was memorable in wit, education, and charm.  This person was communicative, but not invasive, smart, funny, clear and reasonable in every request.  A really delightful individual.  The rent was negotiated to the lowest possible point in the oldest and smallest apartment of the Wakefield House, but paid 100% on time and in full. This individual was truly a great guest–and we think so to this day.  We would invite this guest back in a second, and give a glowing recommendation to any other landlord.

Even though we retained the cleaning fee.

It is our job to make sure the units are clean for the next guest, and sure, we sometimes get paid to take care of that.

On the appointed hour of departure, the guest cheerfully related,  “It should be good to go.  I left some things for the next tenant.”

This kind of statement tends to make me nervous–because it can mean anything.  As you will soon see.

I took a quick look around the unit.

At first our littlest apartment, the tiny Hobbit Hole unit, appeared pretty orderly.  The counters were clean.  The rug and floor had been vacuumed.  The things, as my own cleaning helper says, that make it “look” clean–like the faucets wiped off–had been done.

We have learned however, over time, that things can’t just look clean on the surface, they have to actually be clean.  And in a place where people can and do cook and live deeply, that can be a project.

First there were some dishes to do.

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Not an abusive pile, but when I started to wash them I found every cup and glass had a slight film of grease.  All the pots and pans were sticky or had crumbs.  Trying to remedy this, I discovered that the replacement dish soap the guest had bought mid-stay would not cut any grease,  The dishes had been washed, yes, but they were not clean.  Troublesome!

So I loaded all the cups and plates and cookware into a wheel barrow and took them to my apartment to run through the dishwasher, returning with some better soap to stock the unit.

I inspected a bit deeper.  Found a grocery bag worth of stale and mostly used food in the fridge.  Into the trash, it went and in doing so I noted that the trash can was both broken and dirty.  Note to replace. $20.

The handle of the freezer had been broken.

I expected this because a few hours before the guest had told me about it, stating it appeared to have been glued in the past.  I looked at it and took down the serial number to order a part, attempted to re-glue it and made a note to apologize to the next tenant–scheduled to move in almost immediately.  No time to order a part before arrival.  This kind of thing makes us look disorganized.  I wish the tenant had told me about it so I could have had it fixed in time.

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(The tape is to secure the glue which may or may not be effective.

Then I looked at the stove.  It is a self cleaning model that the tenant had noted cleaning.

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That was of course true.

Would you like to be the next guest?

I noted this was going to take several hours and another purchase.  New rings for the stove because  grease had been baked through the tin foil covering. Not bad. Easy to fix $15 and a trip to the hardware store.  Given that one can spend hours attempting to clean these things, it is often better to just replace them.

I moved on to the bathroom.  There was a weird stain in the tub.  (Later I began to think dye had been used–either hair or clothing.)

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The stain is there for good. (I know, I worked on it for over an hour.)  The other dirt washed out.

I have ordered one of these: a commercial adhesive anti-slip mat.

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http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006OB5TK0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

$20.  It won’t fix the tub, but they do work well as long as you are careful applying them.  A good thing to have and know about for older tubs. Sadly, I can’t get it in before the next tenant arrives.

Then I checked the toilet.

And I have to admit, this will take a bit of explaining.

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Never mind the “ewwww” factor, on closer examination I found the guest had, for some reason, made a failed attempt to flush half a pot roast down the toilet.

This, though a classic example of “cutting out the middle man”, was not a good idea.  I went back to get my disposable gloves.

Below is how it should look when a guest checks in.

As noted above, if you don’t want to do all or any of this we don’t mind.  Just be clear with yourself.  If you have not cleaned the oven and refrigerator don’t worry about vacuuming.  We’ll have to do it again anyway after we get done with the actual cleaning.

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Microwave clean, soap on counter, appliances clean, counters and sink clean, clean dish towels set out.  Pot holders washed and dried.

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Pots and pans orderly and clean.

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Trash can empty, cleaned and with new liner.  Note the floor is not really clean in this picture.  That comes last, after all the other cleaning is done.

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Oven clean, new drip pans if needed.

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Refrigerator empty and clean.  The only things that can be left in the fridge are baking soda and non perishable condiments–no mayo.  People will generally not use open containers.  If it is not something you would find on a breakfast table eating out, it can’t be left.  (We do collect things for charity and the chickens, but it is not a favor to us to not decide yourself what should be done with leftovers–of all types.)

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Here are things we try to do between every stay which we don’t expect departing long term guests to do.

Clean the windows and blinds.

Install new shower curtains

Iron the doilies

Clean the light fixtures

We do the these things because in an old house with inevitable wear they shout: “We care about how you found the place!”

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Please tell us well in advance if there is a problem that we will need to deal with between guests–not as your hand is on the door knob–well in advance.  That is not complaining, that is just keeping us up to date, and we really, really appreciate the information.

Everyone deserves a clean, fresh start to their stay.  That said, the apartments are probably not perfect when every guest checks in. For instance, we do not clean the older ovens between every short stay because it takes chemicals to do so.  It smells bad and sometimes there is no time to let things air out.  The ovens do get cleaned at the end of long stays–we schedule time for this.  Likewise, we do not move all the furniture and clean behind it on every stay.  Nor do we expect clients to do this.  In fact we hate it when the furniture is moved!

In conclusion: In the example cleaning above, after over ten hours of extra cleaning, a check written to my helper for $120, two trips to the hardware, store, possibly $100 in parts needing to be replaced, how do you think I feel about withholding any cleaning funds for the effort–which it takes no imagination to see was over the total deposited amount of $200.

So how do I feel?  Very nervous.

Ever note the one-star and five-star dichotomy of our reviews?  People either seem to love us or they really, really hate us.

Here’s the truth.

We make mistakes, but we actually do a pretty good job.  And people tend to forgive small mistakes–just like we forgive them in turn.  The only virulently negative public comments we have ever gotten after the fact were from people have who left the units in total disrepair.  The cleaning I describe above was not terrible at all.  Just kind of normal, with a few odd twists. The departing guest was charming and fun which makes a lot of difference in how we feel about tidying up after.

The visitors writing terrible reviews of us?  They shared in common, late rent, quarreling, chronically barking dogs, abusive treatment of spouses.  And on departure, hours or days of effort from us cleaning up the disasters they left.  These were people we had to set limits with during stays.

Review sites are complicated.  The person with a grudge is very motivated to write about their “mistreatment.” And under the rules of free speech they are entitled to any published opinion they care to have–made up or not.

In case you have not worked with “the public” of late, I will sadly relate that people do not like having limits set on their behavior.  And frankly, a certain set is used to bullying the staff–either in person or online.  This does not work very well when the owner of the house is the staff. Our long term view is a few bad reviews online are less harmful than actual bad behavior on site which we simply do not tolerate.  We have limits.

And that is what a partially refundable cleaning fee is–a gentle limit on how much time, effort and money a departing long term guest leaves the collective house economy with.  It is not a value judgement or a character issue.  No one gets a perfect score. Everyone gets some help for free.

Rick and I have talked about it many times, and we persist that we will not raise rates on everyone in order to accommodate potentially expensive checkout cleaning for long term guests.

Here are some pictures of a very clean check out that happened this morning.

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The unit was better than when this client moved in–I’m going to have to ask what she used on the bathroom floor.

Talk about perfect!

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Wow.  What a great job. Nice surfaces, sure, but way better looking now than when she checked in.

I walked downstairs with the laundry and refunded the whole deposit.

If that’s not you, then my advice is, don’t sweat it. There’s no shame in having someone tune up things for you.  And we won’t think better or worse of your character over this.

End note: I found the formerly-abused spider plant

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in the Odell House unit D (the one pictured above) in glowing good health.

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New leaves, perfectly moist soil, positioned carefully in just the right light.

(Remembering tipping it over with the vacuum cleaner cord last summer, and hurriedly sweeping it back in the pot in frantic moment between guests, I was beginning to feel, well, inadequate.)

Poor plant.

Nice mommy gone, evil mommy back in charge.

When I called my tenant to thank her for her checkout, she asked if I had noticed it.

Yes. . .

I begged her to come back and rescue it!

She advised,  “Oh, just water it now and then and it will be fine.”

“It’s not like that, I leave them there with the guests, and then I can’t get into the units.  People sometimes put them on the radiators!”

The response was appropriate shock.

This client still has to drop off the keys, and I am hoping, when I go up to make the bed tomorrow, that the plant will have made its escape.

Though obviously slow to make value judgements about guests based on cleaning habits, I actually do notice if they kill the houseplant.  You’ll note almost all of the units have one.   If you grow fond of yours, I am sure we can come to some arrangement.  :)

The Studio Gallery, Unit A and the house heat system

Last summer a guest staying a night in The Gallery asked me from the porch:  What have you done to your home!  Imagining of course I had demolished the entire house to rent out apartments
I had to laugh, as it would never cross my mind to occupy a house of this size solo, and my mother was not yet alive when the Odell House became apartments.
There have been many renovations and updates over the years, yet the boiler and radiant heat system are original to the house, and have gone largely unchanged.
Why?
Because they work so very well.
The house thermostat is another issue entirely.
The thermostat, controlling the massive boiler in the basement, used to be in The Gallery–the front apartment on the ground floor, facing First Avenue.
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We recently rewired and replaced the thermostat, moving it to a more protected area of the basement–a place not influenced by the opening of doors, or the use of the small space heaters we provide for the various unit.
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(Those of you who have stayed in The Gallery in the winter may be glad to hear this!)
With all those windows The Gallery runs cooler than some of the other apartments, and its nice to be able to tweak the heat a bit at will.
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The house has had, from the time the boiler was converted from coal to gas, one central thermostat regulating the supply of hot water to all the apartment radiators.
There are little trails of confusingly-abandoned thermostats around the house.  None functioning currently, but the one that does function–in the basement.  Originally the thermostat 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.)  But unit A was a problem because unit A both runs cold and is used for short term guests–many of whom did not understand why we locked the thermostat: for the good of ALL the guests!
This “whole house service” means that heat levels have to be decided by consensus of the residents.  General agreement rules. Cooler at night is appreciated, and temperature increases timed to make use of the inevitable spikes that one gets with this sort of system.
But people, particularly new guests who are not familiar with the heating pattern of the house, often want things a bit different when they arrive–even just for a little while.
So rather than explain, “Just wait a bit,” which modern folk unanimously interpret as “bad service,” we have a series of  dedicated plugs, served by their own circuits, for small auxiliary heaters, as well as the air conditioning units in the summer.  These were never meant to be the primary heat sources of the building.  And, the heaters, when used, have to stay exactly where placed.  Our engineers insist!  Please don’t move the heaters to any other plugs, or fiddle with the voltage. 
(We are not engineers, we try to do as told. . . .)
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(I think what “those in the know” are giving caution about the variably-aged electrical circuits in most older buildings.  It is important to use only new, dedicated circuits for high voltage items that did not exist when these buildings were constructed.  But it is also sensible to keep the load down in general.  Quick is not necessary with heat–steady is.)
Speaking of construction and the physical plant of these huge old homes, Browne’s Addition was a very progressive neighborhood right from the start.  The mansions had carriage houses, not barns.  (Barns meant flies and manure.  Horses were considered a source of pollution–before the car took over that role) .  So livery, “rental horses” were called for from town and arrived with a driver to be hitched to the owner’s carriages.)  For heat, all the homes had coal boilers at first, but both gas and electric were run in the original construction, used for lighting and small tasks.
And there were of course telephones from the very start.  How else to call for your horses to be delivered?
It was all very modern.
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That scene lasted a scant thirty years.
With the twenties, came a nation-wide depression, a dip in the price of silver, and a slowing of construction.  Silver, lead, lumber, Spokane staples of wealth, all plummeted, and Spokane’s great luxury building boom was over.  But, there was government money for conversion of large private homes to much-needed apartments.  Most of the large local houses were purchased and transformed.
So the buildings were originally and correctly wired in the last part of the 1890s, and then gradually updated as things changed within them.  But even into the seventies, people had little idea of the numbers of electrical items that would eventually be in common use.  So sensible electric consumption is still indicated.  Even a modern house will trip breakers if, while making toast, you plug in your hair dryer to the same circuit your microwave is warming your coffee!  It is all about load and that is why we have circuit breakers.
The boiler-fed gas heat system  is a much more elegant and efficient system than the slight electric “tune up” heaters we provide.
Why have them at all?
As one guest cleverly said: “To accommodate various thyroid levels.” 
Some (most) of the old radiators are gorgeous.
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You can see how the water would flow in on one side and out on the other.
The hot water boiler system is a very clean, healthy and efficient way to heat.  It consists of a huge system of paired pipes filled with hot water (outflow and return to the boiler). It is a circulating loop.  There are no dusty air ducts or shared air flow between the apartments.
I grew up with boilers in New England and obviously like them.
(Many fusty New Englanders, traditionally felt creepy about central air heat, calling it the “instant hot and instant cold” method.
Never mind, “Particles of ‘who knows what’ blowing all about”, my grandmother used to fuss.)
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(This is the barn of my great grandfathers summer home which sadly had no boiler (nor insulation!) as it was always shut down in the winter.)
Not so in Browne’s Addition.  These houses were built for the cold.   Radiant heat–now all the rage in concrete floors–was here from the start.
But, though a wonderful system, radiant heat is not fast or easily customizable on a moment to moment basis.  The boiler is either actively running hot water, or it is not.  Like the more modern floors,  radiators are designed to store heat and give it off gradually.  There will be moments when they are quite hot to the touch.  Moments when they are cooler.  This is the nature of the system.  It does not mean that it is “off,”  just not running at that moment.
The radiators have valves that can crudely shut them on and off by not allowing the hot water to run through them. Shutting individual ones down–something the boiler hates–has nothing  to do with if hot water is flowing through the system–the thermostat controls that.
Over the course of time there have been many more complaints that the house is too hot than too cold.  And if it is routinely so for you, then we can shut off one of the several apartment radiators–and leave it off.  (That way we can anticipate the water pressure needed in the system.)
The worst heating season is not the dead of winter.  Ten degrees outside?  No problem.
The house boiler (AKA The Beast In The Basement) is more than up to that.  The trouble arises in the shoulder seasons when it does not get quite cold enough in the morning to trip the boiler on, and folks are a bit chilly come 8 AM.   And then, like the saying, “We would all be worse off if God said “yes” to all our prayers,”  it gets just cold enough to make hot water start circulating.  The radiators get nice and warm–and then the sun comes out and it goes to 80 degrees outside.  (This is Spokane, after all!)  And then all that hot water has to cool . . .  Trust me, it is better to err on the side of a little too cool in those situations than to inspire the Beast in The Basement to go to work on a day expecting high temperatures.
Anyway, we discourage turning the radiators off and on for two reasons: first, the valves are inclined to leak and need tightening if used much–please tell us right away if you see this.  Second, randomly turning them on and off isolates the apartment from the main heat source. In some cases it is actually better to open a window for a moment–and tell us you had to because it was too warm–than to try to influence the system by shutting yourself out of it.   Because it is very likely you will on the next day be too cold!
I’m going to repeat myself here, this is Spokane, land of boom and bust in more than just the economy.  Last month (November 2014) had a period of daytime high of -5 degrees.  Yesterday, (December 2014) I think the high was 62 degrees.  This makes a four month range of, let’s see, since August, (105 degrees) November ( -5 degrees0. . . . er. . .  110 degrees F.
That said, if you visit Spokane, “layering” is a clothing strategy we live by, and if you live here long term we can pretty easily customize your heat to suit you–though possibly not like the union rep who worked here many years ago during an election season.  The young activist complained pathetically of cold in unit F–the top floor.  When I came to check his radiators I found him lounging in front of his computer in a swim suit, watching the snow fall.
Correct dressing for the basic climate aside, there are a couple of units that do get too hot and turning off one of the radiators on a more or less permanent basis can help with this. (The bedroom in F and the hall of D are examples of this).  Units A and E tend to run cool, and that’s not too surprising as they both face north and have huge banks of bay windows.  Units C and B are practically perfect in every way–show offs!
So if you are too hot or too cold please tell us–there is a lot we can do to help with either situation that has nothing to do with the central boiler–though with proper feedback that is also possible.
(Obviously it does no good to turn up the house heat if for whatever reason the radiators in a particular unit  have been turned off!)
Just let us know how its going–or beforehand if you know you tend to be cold or hot–and we will help you stay at the right temperature for you.
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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

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

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

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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.

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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!

Peppers!

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!)

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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,

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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.

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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

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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.

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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”.

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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. . .

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

de·co·rum

de·co·rum

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.
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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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attempting to make things flat,

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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.

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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.

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

Rick below, faking it.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.
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And that this moment is very important to the cat. . .

Spokane Farmers Market

We have a rather nice farmers market here in Spokane.

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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.

http://www.spokanefarmersmarket.org/

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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

http://online.wsj.com/articles/alice-waters-says-the-future-of-food-is-sustainable-and-locally-sourced-1404763421

“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:

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http://www.indabacoffee.com/

(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.

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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.