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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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.

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.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TurkishTowelStore?ref=l2-shopheader-name

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.  🙂

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A nameless Turk modelling in his natural environment. .  .

The Gazebo and Kitchen Garden on the Poplar Street side.

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This rather stunning photo is of a winterscape at Hidcote Castle.  It is in England–where they take gardening pretty seriously.

In case you were wondering, the strong geometric influence behind the twin gazebos–one of which you can walk through to reach the other if you were to approach from the side–is a group of pleached Hornbeams.

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Pleaching.  A task outside my vision, and one I am sure would not excite Rick, who often gets the “heavy labor” side of inspiration.  Still, it is an interesting effect.

We got our square and circular effects in a slightly less labor-intensive manner.  (This was of course by cheating: copying the already nifty architecture on our corner.)

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I ran across the formal Hidecote garden while looking for design ideas for the Odell House gazebo and kitchen garden. We’ve had plans to build something for years, but just got ’round to of late.  We also wanted to enclose the space and on the side of the house that, well, originally had the central kitchen.  The Poplar Street and south face.  But we didn’t want to create an eyesore–which can be a problem when the uneducated (us)  plop something down in the middle of the work of people who did know what they were doing.  Our answer?  Careful research and hiring someone who could build on site in the manner of the original carpenters.

And that would be Dave:

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One of Dave’s gates.

On to the Gazebo!

A small structure in a garden is not a new idea by any means.  Below, the little kitchen garden pavilion at Monticello–the home of Thomas Jefferson, who experimented expensively with horticulture in the Colonial days of America–a lot of the focus was in growing vegetables.

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Of course, by “cultivators of the earth” Jefferson is referring in 1790 to his 118 slaves who actually did the work in the garden.

Their plot is of course a lot more elaborate than ours. . .

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Back in Spokane, we decided to have fun with the Gazebo roof structure, mimicking the Odell House roof lines, attempting to give it a feeling of “always there.”  This is also a common hope that the smaller “outer house” will mimic some features of the larger one

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(Practical note: A more recent photo of the same area: below to the right of the gazebo we installed a gas grill. This is common space–please go cook whatever you cook. That area over the lawn is also a good place in nice weather to smoke–which  is not allowed within 50 feet of an opening window or door of the main house.  The advantage of course–assuming it is not raining is that one need not sweep up ash.  Small flower pots make ash trays–please to not transport any of these items into the house or house trash cans.  The general refuse area is just behind the parked cars. )

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Here is the gazebo creator, our carpenter Dave, on the job, if notoriously camera shy.

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You will note no construction debris.

This is because every single day when Dave left, the place was neat as a pin.  (Part of his day is cleanup.)  And so he would go off in the evening, taking with him yet another chair for regluing, appearing again in due time to tackle another phase.   And in the garage I would find the repaired chair, and on returning it to its mates, pick another for a trip to “Dr. Dave’s”.

(There are few things more wonderful for beefing up maintenance than having a dedicated cabinet maker regularly on the place.)

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We painted the interior one of our lesser used trim colors–Templeton Grey.  It makes the interior recede a bit.  The door with circular window was a chance find at an architectural salvage place.  We like how it mirrors the main house details.  The second little landing deck makes the step up less severe, and is offering another place to grow food instead of lawn.

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Back to Dave and the details of the project.  People actually stop to take photos of the fence all the time.  Not that it is fancy. It is very simple, made out of cedar and simple 2×4 inch rectangular woven wire.

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But like everything Dave does it is well crafted and every detail thought out and executed with care.

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The self closing “cannon ball” gates were his idea.

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The clenched fist hitching posts (there are a pair) were popular c. late 1800 when there were actually equines to be tied up.

The gazebo soffits (under the roof line) are antique bead board–just like the main house.

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Dave created trim to match the house as well.

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The siding is cedar, identical to the original.

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The decks are redwood to resist rot.

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We think it fits nicely.

Looking across the kitchen garden to the Wakefield.

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So why a gazebo?

Sitting outside, with just a little protection is wonderful.  Part of our nature.

But the the apartments on the south side of the house have no porch.

Attempting to share the main porch, if you have not rented apartment A or B means you are sitting right next to the current residents bedroom.  That just doesn’t work.

Seeing the need across multiple tenants, I wanted a common space that was easy to access for everybody, but not connected to any one unit.  I wanted something that took advantage of the beautiful view north to the Wakefield and bluff.  A place to take shelter from either the sun, or the prevailing wind, depending on the day and season.

Thanks Dave!

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Above, our version, lacking several hundred “employees,” of a raised bed–the straw bale garden.  If you want to read more about that please see:

https://odellhouselodging.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/be-there-and-get-square-straw-bale-garden-seminar-april-26-may-24/

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Oh, and PS, (don’t tell Rick,) thought daunted by tree pleaching, I am somewhat interested in topiary. . .

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For pretty relaxed folks you’re very rigid about your booking procedures. How come?

Here is the short version about booking and check in: (stories further down if you want them.)

We do not have a front desk–nor any employees. 

It’s just Rick and Dale and the other friendly people who live and stay here.

Official check in time?  3PM 

Check out time? 11AM

That said, we are actually very relaxed abut these times. 

If we can make a schedule work better for you, either coming or going, we are happy to do so.  Just let us know.

(Unannounced late check outs are very stressful for us and we do charge if people surprise us by not asking first–and that is a practicality.  If we work our day around getting ready for a three PM arrival and find the previous guest’s belongings still in the unit at one, that makes us really nervous–and inclined to call the other partner off whatever job they are on, to help in a hurry!)

We are very relaxed about your arrival because we are are in fact pretty rigid about communicating booking and check in information.  Mistakes happen–but they are rare.  We consider it an emergency if we think you do not know where to park, what door to use, where your keys are, what the Internet codes are–without us being there.

As policy we do not hold reservations for more than twenty-four hours without billing information, and you MUST get check in instructions well before arrival.  Communication is key.  We probably will not be visible when you arrive because by that time our job–getting ready for you–has been completed.  We are here if you need us.  Let’s not make check in an emergency.

That’s the message of this post, and the rest is a story or two, which you can read if you like.

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To illustrate this I’ll give you a story–maybe two–and a half with the final update. 🙂

I had a moment to write this waiting on a guest scheduled to arrive with an incomplete reservation–about the middle of April.

It is noon and I should be at the barn–I have another job, I train horses and teach riding almost every day.  But not today: the last moment guest guests who booked recently wrote and said they would be arriving at noon, would that be convenient for me?  Visiting from Canada, they did not want to use their phones–just email.  I had emailed back that noon was fine BUT I needed billing information before I could send them check in instructions.  I have not heard back.  And so I am waiting, lessons cancelled.

These particular guests have been slightly problematic.  They arrived through Trip Advisor which can be fine, but in this case meant they did not have a lot of the information one can get from fishing around in our website and blog.  Trip Advisor has some very basic information, but not what you can get in the details of the website and blog.  And the link on TA  can be subtle.

Several emails began the process.  They were going to stay three days.  I quoted them the discount for that, and asked them to get back to me with billing information.

That is the order of things.

Why so rigid?

Mainly because one part of the process leads to the other, the end goal that when guests arrive they will be sure of the following things:

What apartment they have booked, the correct night,  and at what price.

The correct address.

Where to park.

Door codes and or key locations.

Internet codes.

When we make a reservation, including an email address, a note gets sent automatically containing some links to our blog posts on places to eat, neighborhood information and contact information.  It also outlines cancellation policies, check in times, etc. Guests need to know these things.  They have a window to ask questions and can cancel without penalty if something looks amiss.

Q. Why can’t guests just give billing information when they arrive?

A. Because we don’t have a front desk and we can’t send out check in information without knowing how to bill.

In fact, we will 100% not give check in instructions without billing instructions.

And this brings me to the second part of my story which explains how this came to be.

One Sunday, a number of years ago in a desperately slow March just after the financial downturn of 2009, I got a call from a man saying he was a minister of a local church and needed help.  They had an inspirational speaker coming into town who had had his wallet stolen in the airport after security.  The man was traveling without cash or ID and of course all of his credit cards had been cancelled.  The pastor said he himself was on a retreat in Kellogg but would be home Wednesday and would come and write us a check for the good man’s lodging.

Would we please take him in?

A thrill of do-goodedness filled me as I told the man the price and said it would be fine to pay us on Wednesday.

I told Rick, Isn’t it great to have a business where you can make decisions like this?  NO chain could do this!

Rick looked patient, if not entirely convinced.

The local minister left us a cell number, but warned us that his was out of range where the retreat was happening. He told me the speaker’s name and when he would arrive.

The appointed hour arrived and down the street from the bus stop came limping a disheveled middle-aged man, dress shoes lightly scuffed, shirt partly untucked, leading a rolling bag down the side-walk.  He looked totally stressed.  I led him around the unit–our nicest one at the time, offered him a glass of water and showed him a few supplies I had stocked his refrigerator with.  He was totally grateful, recounted what a stressful day he had experienced.

I gave him the keys and left, feeling like I was doing the right–and nobly trusting–thing.

Wednesday rolled around, and towards five when I had not heard from the original booker of the unit, who now of course was supposed to be home from his retreat, I made a call.  No answer.  I left a message.

Thursday came and went.

I left another message.

On Friday I decided I’d need to go into the unit.  Rick and I did this together.  It was empty–probably since Wednesday.  Reeking of cigarette smoke, piles of half eaten frozen dinners and partially opened cans littered every surface.  The couch had soup spilled over it, the bed side table had been burned by the lit matches cast onto it.

The toilet was unflushed, the sink literally overflowing with dishes and sodden food scraps.

The place reeked. 😦

To the side of the bed was a pamphlet from the local church.  After several desperate preliminary trips with garbage to the dumpster, I called the pastor of that church.  I told him the story and he asked me to describe the man.  I did and he said that was very odd, as a man matching that description, claiming to be a pilot moving to Spokane had complained of a broken down car, needing money for repairs.  The pastor had given hims $200 and some food from their food bank.

 

Same guy–the food from the food bank strewn around, every package open, mashed, but not really eaten.  Hundreds of dollars of food, partially consumed pizzas, mixed with cigarette ashes.  A loaf of bread floating with the dishes in the sink.

 

And as Rick and I figured by tracing phone numbers, the original call had not been from the local minster on retreat, but from the man himself, setting up the situation as though asking for help for a known friend.

 

I called the police, reported the incident.  It took us two weeks to put the place to right.  $600 worth of sheets and duvet covers were discarded for burn holes.

I’m just glad the house survived.

And that, fellow travelers, is why we insist on names, phone numbers, email addresses and credit card numbers before we give out check in information.

My Canadian travelers?  It is closing in on 2:00 and they have not arrived.

I cannot send them check in information–we have no billing information.

If I leave they will not know which door to come to, where to park, or how to get in.

 

And if they did arrive, without these clues–they have a reservation!–they would probably knock on all doors reachable, disturbing innocent guests, or stand forlornly on the porch with their useless phones, wondering at the lack of service we provide.

 

I will stay until 2:00

 

You’ll notice there are no pictures in this post.

Oh here is one for you,

Miss Marley practicing a down stay in the unit the minister trashed in 2009.IMG_0348

 

And one of me on a walk with my cat.IMG_0196

Which is what I think I am going to go do now.  He does not get too far. . .I can still see the porch.

Update 4:13PM my guests call from a pay phone!

We’ll be there in twenty minutes! But we are at a pay phone, we can’t call when we arrive.

I answer, Okay, I’ll wait and watch for you. . .

Update 5:24  PM after waiting more than an hour  in a brisk spring wind on the porch I gave up and wrote a note to be taped to the door recommending the other B&B who I see has vacancies and is only three blocks away–$45 a night more expensive than us, but they have employees–and that is what it costs per guest if you do.

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As I walk upstairs, discouraged after almost six hours of waiting, a stunningly beautiful blonde woman walks up to the door.

I go to meet her, retrieve the note, check them in, saying, I am so happy you have arrived, I have waited for hours! 

She corrects me, taking off her shoes at the door: “I only said we would be in town at noon, not that we wanted to check in then. . . ”

The moral of the story?

Please, please PLEASE understand that we are trying to make life predictable and easy for everyone by following a certain order of business.  And if you travel without a phone it is fine–really, we were in business before cell phones were even common–but if that is the case you must help us to make your arrival seamless by obtaining information before it is an emergency–and you yourself are left standing in a brisk wind on the porch with no clue what to do next.

In short, if you have communication problems please attempt to be sure that they only have to do with the electronics. . . .

Update 10AM following morning.

Guests departed having done own dishes–much appreciated–but tell me what is wrong with this picture?

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The huge fan will give it away I am sure, but please note in old houses with claw foot tubs it is advisable to bring the shower curtain to the inside of the tub when taking a shower.  It is only left to the outside for a cleaner look, and because nothing is better than a 5 foot claw foot tub for a bath–except a six foot one. . .

Anyway, we arrived in the morning to clean up and found they had flooded the bathroom floor–squishy wet!  Thus the fan and abject apologies to the next guest who we upgraded to another unit.

There is a code that you might not know about in the business; that is the stealthy addition of the simple letters “DNRB” behind a guest’s name in the electronic file.  It is rare to earn this title from a hotel, and what it means is that the damage inflicted by the practices of a particular guest make it a liability to accept reservations from them.

Do Not Re Book.

Just forgetting to put the shower curtain in will not earn you  this badge–as you can see it takes a concerted, in fact dedicated, effort! 🙂

As always, if you have questions, ask!!!

Public Transportation to and from the airport.

People ask about airport transportation without a car pretty often.

(This is either going to be the most boring or most useful post of your booking experience.  Personally, I like to know what to expect when I venture off on public transportation in a strange place.  Nothing like getting off the bus at dusk and walking in the completely wrong direction!)

Getting to and from the airport  IS VERY EASY HERE. Though keep in mind this is not the case for Spokane as a whole.

You can take a cab for about $20 from or to the Spokane airport, (GEG),

105 South Poplar Street, and 2325 West First are the two Odell House house addresses.  Wakefield is 2828 West First. Zip code for all is 99201.

There are almost always cabs at the airport, but if you would like to call one the most common service seems to be City Cab 509-455-3333

But I also hear very good things about Felix’s cab service (509) 995-3905  (Yes, owned by Felix who must have taxed sleeping hours as he is open from 3AM to midnight)

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We are a very walkable neighborhood, so if you you like to walk, are a reasonably light packer, and don’t want to rent a car, you really don’t have to.  Rick also offers a bike loan program in suitable weather.

But, back to the airport,  you can also hop on the bus!

(And you would be like a lot of people recently who do: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/10/us/use-of-public-transit-in-us-reaches-highest-level-since-1956-advocates-report.html?_r=1)

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If you don’t want a cab, or would like to save the roughly $40 here and back–which is pretty comparable to a 24 hour economy car rental–there is also city bus line with a stop three blocks from the Odell House.  The current schedule is every half hour on the weekdays and every hour on the weekends to and from the airport.  The cost is currently $1.50 per trip.  They accept cash but not credit cards and cannot give change.

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The ride takes 11 minutes, the walk to the house 3-5 minutes.

Be sure to check the link below and confirm bus times, particularly if you are traveling very early or late.  It is not a 24 hour service, and more limited on Sundays than Saturdays. An early morning Sunday or Holiday departure would be problematic.

This is a link that gives you a larger version of the map below and current time table of route 60, airport, Browne’s Addition
http://www.spokanetransit.com/routes-schedules/route/60-airport-brownes-addition

The advice from their website is as follows

  • Be sure you are visible to the bus operator as the bus approaches. Stand as close to the sign or shelter as possible.
  • As you board, ask the bus operator for a 2-hour pass (transfer) if you need one.  (Which you will not if you intend to come to the Odell House, there are no changes necessary)
  • If you don’t know which stop is the one closest to your destination, ask the bus operator for help. When you are one block away from your stop, either push the yellow strip or pull the overhead bell cord. The operator will let you off at the next bus stop.

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Your general destination is Browne’s Addition.  Bus Route 60.  The easiest stop is the corner of 2nd and Spruce.

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On the map above, your stop would be by the little 2–Second and Spruce St.  (The Odell House would sit roughly under the  little 2.)

Rick and I took a trip to the airport this morning via bus to show you what it’s like.

Not the prettiest season–March in Spokane–but you can see things well without the trees.

Here’s our little visual tour from the airport and back:

From the Spokane airport there are two bus pick up locations:

Outside the C concourse near C baggage claim:

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That’s to the “entering traffic” side of the one way route under the walkway,

and another at the end of the A-B Concourse–to the “leaving traffic” side of the A-B baggage claim.

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They both have one of these little glass shelters with seats.  This one is just before the car rental places on beyond the A-B concourse baggage claim–the door to the left is easiest:

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Bus arriving to  the A-B concourse stop:

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The trip from the airport to our area takes 11 minutes.  You will cross a major bridge and turn left (right by our favorite espresso joint which also has a bus stop by it for route 60,) and left again where the houses will look more residential–large older homes converted to apartment.  In a couple of blocks you’ll begin to circle clockwise around a large park.  (The park by the way is called Coeur dAlene park and it is the site for a lot of fun things like Art Fest in early June, and concerts every Thursday night in the summer.)  Sadly it no longer has the fountain,

Coeur D'Alene Park Spokane, WA

The trees are present and accounted for, and so is the gazebo.

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Really, Browne’s Addition is lovely in the summer.  But back to the bus!

You’ve circled around the park on two sides to the Spruce and Second stop: (Be sure to ring the bell there by the park if you have not told the driver where you are going.)

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Photo taken of the park drop off location.

Here’s the the view across 2nd as you get off the bus in the park.

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Walking from the stop to the Odell House: 

You are now on Second and Spruce, one block east and two blocks south of your destination at the corner of First and Poplar.

(Keep in mind that though you’d intuitively expect to find First Avenue one street over from Second Avenue, in reality Pacific runs between them.) 

On exiting the bus, you’d walk away from the park, one block north on Spruce,  toward the large red/brown clinker brick building in the left (built circa 1902).

(It’s really detailed on the front, but you can’t see that yet.)

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(Front)

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Here’s the other nice half timber house on Spruce and Pacific that you’ll be walking towards:

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a gray and white half timber duplex (circa 1901) ,

Go left (west) on Pacific for one block

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and then you would find Poplar St. to the right. 

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This yellow house sits on the corner of Poplar and Pacific–sister house to Odell House, very similar architecture.  You’d be turning right now, you can see the red roof of the Wakefield House at the corner.

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Turn right, north on Poplar Street one block and you’ll find the Odell house on the internal corner of First and Poplar. (With thee large Poplar Trees flanking that yard–go figure.)

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This is the Poplar Street face of the house, showing the diagonal parking lot off Poplar Street–the second photo in summer just after we finished the little gazebo.

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This is the Poplar entry, the other entries are from  First Ave, around the corner.

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On the map above, Coeur D’Alene park is on the middle left side, above the arrow.  The top left of the park is the bus stop.   The Odell House is the little red star above the park.

So now you want to go back to the airport:

(We hope you have had a wonderful time.)

Get yourself back to Spruce and Second–you know the way now.

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Pick up the #60 bus (NOT the 61 or you’ll end up in Airway heights,) from the corner of Spruce and Second.  The stop is not on the park, but diagonally across the street from where you arrived:

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Back up the hill for an 11 minute ride:

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I think there is only one drop off at the airport, at the C concourse, as that is actually very close to the check in of the A-B concourse too.

Have a nice trip home, we hope we’ll see you again soon.

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