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!

The 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

But really, I visited her on occasion and her unit actually looked very orderly almost every day.  She did not cook much.  (Grease on walls is time consuming to remove.)  It probably took only an hour or two to make it “as was.”

If that’s not you, you cook a lot, are busy with other stuff and not tidy every single day, 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 a few crumbs under the table or the fridge not squeaky clean–we’ll just clean it up and charge you appropriately.

We do take it rather more personally if you have not emptied the trash or recycled the whole time you have been in residence. . .

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Fondly, we hope,

Dale and Rick

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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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!

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. .  .

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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Composting and recycleing. Here’s how to do it here.

It’s no secret to anyone that the hotel industry is not the world leader in green living.

And we’re happy to announce we have been awarded the 2013, 14, 15, 16 (you get the idea) Tripadvisor  Green Leaders Gold award.

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This means our property meets many of the highest standards of energy efficiency and recycling known in the industry.  (Not bad for a building over 100 years old!)

Anyway, waste disposal is part of our program.

We handle recycling, and the inevitable food waste that traveling entails, as part of a larger system of on site composting and gardening.

Most people know that up to 40% of the landfill volume is in household waste that could have been recycled or composted.

Here is an interesting blog post about food waste: http://www.sustainableamerica.org/blog/what-is-food-waste-and-why-does-it-matterwhat-is-food-waste-and-what-can-we-do-about-it/ 

(There are rumors that the hospitality/travel industries create more than double the normal waste, through disposable items, and travelers without the resources to compost, travel with food or feed the pet dog or chicken.)

Where all that waste goes unless we redirect it: landfills.

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Spokane does have several land fills, and a history of them in the past until this creature arrived:

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The Spokane Waste to Energy Plant.  Its just west of downtown, near the airport.  It burns trash, and produces a concentrated ash which is not as concentrated as you might think. 65% reduction in weight.

Here are the stats.

Ash Quantity:  65% reduction by weight of original MSW weight.
Ash Disposal: Rabanco Regional Landfill, Klickitat County (near Roosevelt, WA).
Ash Transport: Container capacity 15 tons. Configuration: two containers per load, 30 tons per truck, 8-10 truckloads/day. Intermodal train container, 25-28 ton capacity.
Iron recovery: 2.5% of original weight of MSW. Iron is not recovered with traditional landfilling.

So in our area it’s not so bad if you fail to recycle newspapers–though nice if you do–but it really is an issue if more solid, nonflammable items get dumped in the hopper.  If it is not magnetic–like aluminium or glass–it is going to go for eternity to the Rabanco Regional Landfill.  Until that fills up.

Anyway, people who are normally happy to compost and recycle at home may not know how to do it away from home, or what kinds of things are locally acceptable. And because guest cannot do it themselves they must depend on systems in place where they stay.

So here is the straight dope–more on the chickens later.

All the units have a trash can or two, and all have a stash of extra paper bags (usually in a drawer or cabinet very close to the kitchen trash can), for recycling.

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If you want to recycle,  Spokane accepts unsorted:

tin cans (rinsed)

aluminium cans (rinsed)

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glass of all types

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Plastics 1-7 of the variety you find in milk jugs and yogurt containers

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Paper of non waxed and non-greasy varieties (clean but no greasy pizza boxes)

cardboard

Junk mail.

Newspapers

egg cartons

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You can’t recycle, in the single stream containers:

Garbage/food waste (that goes in the compost crock)
Plastic Bags
Styrofoam
Food Contaminated Items
Microwave Trays
Ceramics & Dishes
Light Bulbs
Window Glass & Mirrors
Hazardous Waste Containers
Syringes
Un-Numbered Plastics
Lids
Sharp Metal
Shredded Paper
Coated & Laminated Paper Products
Electronics
Batteries

We will empty the recycling bag for you, but if you feel like it, the eventual destination looks like this:

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These other receptacles are for things we do not want to compost–like branches, they go in the green waste bin to the left–and that cannot be recycled, these go in the dumpster.

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But now the fun part!

The apartments (of late) also have something that looks like this–or a stainless model:

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This is a compost crock.  It is lined with a compostable bag made of corn starch which will last a few days when wet–possibly up to a week.  The crock has a charcoal filter in the top and we wash them after every visit.  In it you can put:

Coffee grounds

tea bags

fruit/vegetable peelings or remains

food scraps of all types

(Yes, with our system small amounts of meat or bone will be okay.  (We are trying to make this easy.) But if you have a tasty bit of something that you have to leave and is not quite garbage please consider how happy it would make the chickens.  They will eat anything that you can (with good nutritional conscience!), with the exception of raw onions, potato peels or very very salty things .  A cheery call of “Chook–chook–chook” will get you a lot of attention on the south east side of the garage.  :))

If you leave compostable materials in your crock, we will put them here:

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The one on the left is an insulated, rodent-proof container that operates year round.  To the right are the sources of brown energy–straw and leaves.

Here is where the compost, when it is dirt, ends up–with plans of growing Swiss Chard, tomatoes and squash that you can use the next time you visit in summer:

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There are six of these container planters stashed around the property–they each hold 55 gallons of soil made from the organic leavings of our organic yard care program–leaves and grass clippings.  And in the summer they will of course look a lot more interesting.

Behind the set pictured above is our new addition–the chicken coop!

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Please see:

https://odellhouselodging.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/the-chicken-came-first/

They are here on the composting part of the page to hint that they like treats. . . .IMG_1769

Henny Penny says: Quick!!!!! 

 

Our pet policy.

Yes, we accept pets.

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Some of them.

In some units.

In general, well-behaved dogs belonging to very responsible humans are welcome.  We’ve been pet friendly for fifteen years and rarely have a problem, but please read seriously the notes below and decide to stay some place else if you cannot abide by them.  And some people can’t.  We know this.  There are other places to stay that are less rigid and probably less expensive.

They look like this–corner of Walnut and Second.)

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 If you prefer a nice yard and a lovely, quiet setting, please remember, you, and your visiting pet, are part of it.

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Here are the rules:

We charge extra for pets, at least on the first visit, and after that it is somewhat negotiable–based on our experience cleaning up.

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Pets must not impact other guests or neighbors in ANY way.  That means no barking, no scratching, no visible signs of their toilet behavior. 

Visiting dogs must be attended at all times in the house, and on a leash when out–even in the yard.

Please take them away from the door for urination, and clean up any solid material immediately.

We offer pet friendly units because many responsible people own pets and like to travel with them.

And how do we know that complete strangers are responsible pet owners according to our quite rigid standards? 

We don’t.  The good news is that it is very, very rare that we have to say anything at all.  And if we do give a pet owner a report it will be at first informational–your dog started barking when you left.  And with that information–even if it was just for a moment–we expect the guest’s  behavior to be as responding to an emergency. No pouting, sulking or nasty public notes.  Come home, integrate the information and don’t let it happen again.

We no more allow barking or destructive dogs than we tolerate loud voices or domestic violence.  We have the rest of the house to think of–and we do.

Now, you have the important message–please act accordingly.

On to animal stories only if you feel like it.

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Some of the rules stated above are for our guests and the woodwork, and some for our own pets.IMG_0348

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Yes, cats can walk on a leash–and enjoy rolling in the dirt–but prefer not to be eaten by the visiting Pit Bull when they go out their door.

(Keep in mind to a cat

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this is a Pit Bull.)

While I understand that some people do not share my views, I’m going to ‘fess up right here I am an animal lover.  Raised on a farm, a professional horse trainer for many years (including the ones we are now in), I can’t help myself.

And because of this I have done many (many) economically  and otherwise foolish  things having to do with animals.

(The latest was scaling the Odell House roof, up to the base of the chimney

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to retrieve the feline to the right

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Who thought it was a good idea to camp out at the base of the chimney, having escaped from our upper deck balcony.

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There is a nice safe little ledge there, which I have to admit can look attractive, given the alternative of coming down face first.  (If you make it to the base of the post I’ll give you my advice on how to do this manoeuver–the descent  of steep incline with a nervous cat.)

Anyhow, I have a long and checkered relationship with animals–and so can appreciate others weaknesses in this regard.

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(Please see The Dressage Snob Blog   http://dressagesnob.wordpress.com/  where the argument for “economically foolish” and “Dressage” as synonyms is proposed rather frequently.)

So, how do pets work in an upscale lodging establishment?

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Well, we have some units in which you can keep your dog (or contained bird).  We charge for one additional (if hairy) guest and clean like crazy after the fact.  We wash everything anyway, but we really really wash when there has been an animal in residence.  Everybody understands shedding.  No one wants to see evidence of the last guest.  It is a fact of hotel management.

House rules are the dogs must be quiet and not disturb other guests.  They must not be left to themselves, and you are responsible for all of their  behavior beyond shedding.  Spokane has leash laws and there are a lot of other walkers, some with their own dogs, and many bicyclists and cars who do not expect loose dogs.  Visiting dogs MUST be on a leash–even in our fenced yard.  (How come?  We have dogs too, and other guests expect to be able to walk through the yards without necessarily communicating with a strange dog–or seeing any signs of one.  If your dog poops in the yard, please clean it up immediately–the yard belongs to everyone.)

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There is a very nice dog park down about half a block to the west on Pacific–one block total, if you would like room for loose play please take your dog (and cleanup equipment) down the block.

Inside? Accidents can happen.  For simple ones we don’t get very upset, but we really need to know because we have an arsenal of pet cleaning products that you probably don’t carry with you on vacation.

That’s the deal. Total honesty.  We won’t lecture or hold it against you.

There are two units where you can have a dog and every single other one is pet free.

Don’t even think about bringing an animal unannounced.  It’s just not fair to the other guests–they really do have allergies!

How about other animals besides dogs?

Other house pets?

You mean, of course ducks!

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Well, once I raised a group or orphan ducklings in my bathtub at home.  (Cost–$135 to have the drain run after I mistakenly washed grain down it in an effort to keep up with the fantastic mess they made).  Truly there is nothing cuter than a small flock of baby ducks bonded to you and peeping around the yard when they get old enough.  That said, never, never, never do this.  It is a very bad idea.  Find them a mommy duck.

Besides, in the end they look like this:

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Oh, you mean one of these?

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They also look like this:

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I love my cats.  They are fantastic friends.  Though very, very expensive.  (So far my two cats have cost me about $5,000 in purchase and vet bills. (One has three legs from a misadventure outside, and losing a leg will cost you a bit.  I have cared for horses that were less taxing.)

But, unlike other problems with my equine friends, the kitties have also cost me about $3,500 in upholstery–and that’s just in my house.  (Rick and I have four pieces of destroyable furniture.)

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Scratching.  It is part of their nature.  Like bears with trees.  Polite kitty behavior involves rubbing chins and scratching things to make things feel “homey”.  There are of course other alternatives. . .

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Anyway, I am not home all the time to train and lecture.  And when the cats die off, I will just get my stuff  upholstered  again.  I don’t mind.  Truly.  I love my kitties.  Or, maybe I’ll just get another cat.  It’s my furniture and my house.

BUT, in the Odell House it is your furniture.

And it is their cat, who they undoubtedly love better than your furniture.

(Cute, furry cuddly thing vs. inanimate object?  There is no contest.)

(History: my optimism with the foreign kitties is really limited: in the Odell House I once had to completely re-carpet a unit with already-new carpeting because the guest kitty sadly developed a bladder infection in the two month stay.  $8,500.  The owner was apologetic–but did not offer assistance above that.  And every single visiting cat has destroyed at least one piece of antique upholstered  furniture, which as you no doubt know is very, very, very expensive to have redone.)

And since I will not have furniture that looks like the sad chair  above in a place where you are coming to stay, and because SO many people have allergies to kitties, the kitties must stay home.

The only exception would be with a very, very very large deposit.  Which, when I have suggested to people with “utterly harmless” animals, they never seem too enthusiastic about actually guaranteeing the utter lack of harm.

So be it.

Enough said, most pets who have stayed with us have been wonderful, as have their owners

I noted once to a client how quiet his dog was.

He told me, Really he is not quiet, he gets stressed if he’s alone.  I just know he barks when I go out and so I never leave him in that situation when we travel.

Well said!  It’s not the dog or the size, it’s the owner that matters.

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A further note about bringing the pooch.  In winter they are usually quite comfortable alone in their own den–which looks exactly  like your car–not a strange apartment with unfamiliar noises.  In the warmer seasons every single one of our public Browne’s Addition eateries and coffee shops has an outside patio where dogs are welcome.  One Pug we knew had a standing order for a bowl of water and the buttered noodles off the children’s menu at The Elk.  In Europe dogs are welcome in pubs–the interior–and while not quite there yet, we are close.  Dinner out?  What a great opportunity to practice your pup’s extended “Down-Stay.”

The locals are usually very dog-friendly in Browne’s Addition.

Oh, the cat.  Okay, here’s the prize at the end of the long story–how to get the cat off the roof.

I left him there a few hours and he made some attempts at the valley, but could not make it more than five or so feet.

Determining that I wanted to not worry about it all night, and that rescue was necessary, but probably safer from the east face of the house (roof of wrap around porch as base camp) I got out the ladders and enlisted help steadying them.  I scrambled up the valley of the roof, and sat next to the chimney and of course Pasha came over.

Keep in mind this is the Siberian cat that I walk on a leash and he is used to me reeling him in and grabbing him when things get tense–dogs and such.  And he knows I am stubborn about insisting on coming back home–eventually.

In other words, he is both quite tame and quite brave about being handled.

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So, up on the roof I tied my shirt at the base and unbuttoned it enough to stuff the cat down the front, buttoning it back up again to the neck.  This gave both me both hands free, and the cat still well-secured.  And then I scooted down the valley to the second ladder from the porch roof.  Viola!  Cat back to ground level.

It took two hours of stress trying to make the cat do it,  five minutes of ladder adjustment and three minutes of. . . lets just say. . .physical activity.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station: Bring your Tesla (or Volt!) to Spokane. . .

The Odell House Lodging, operated as a B&B, offers furnished apartments for both short and longer stays.

http://www.theodellhouse.com/

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Built in 1898, on the Registry of Historic Places, the house has a history of cutting edge technology: telephone, gas, electric and public sewer from its inception–it now has an electric vehicle charging station.

(Never mind laying hens and an organic vegetable garden for guest use. And a very comfortable Gazebo to sit in and read or check your mail;)

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What do you need to charge your EV here at the Odell House?

First, we need to know you are coming so the right area for your car will be clear and ready.

Call us 8 AM to 8PM and ask if it is available.  (It probably is.) 509 879-4619

Or, you can reserve the charger yourself:  https://reservations.frontdeskanywhere.net/odellhouse/

(We put a default cost of $10 on the reservation form.  Charging is free to our guests and they will not be billed.  We really do appreciate donations from folks who just drop by to charge.  Power is pretty inexpensive here, but as you probably know, it costs over a thousand dollars just to install these chargers. Amusingly, the only “drop-in” charger who did not generously assist our cause of helping their travels, was a pair of “investigative journalists” who arrived in a donated Tesla model S, sporting a large dent. 😦  They were promoting their new movie about fracking.  We gave them a pass on cheapness, not being particular fans of fracking ourselves, but are still entertained by the memory.)

What’s the equipment like?

40 amp 240 volt (NEMA 6-50P) plug, supplying GE Watt Station charger.

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Our design was for overnight guests, who in less than the time it takes to get a decent sleep, can have a fully-charged car for travel the next day.

Where are we located?

On the map below, left side at the star, just west of downtown Spokane.   The nearest exit from I-90 is Maple/Walnut WA I-90 EXIT #280  We are only ten blocks from the highway: north on Walnut, left on Second,  right on Cannon and cutting over two streets north will get you to First.

The circle on the map (5,6,7,8,9)  below is where the very nice places to eat are at at Cannon and Pacific.  The MAC museum would be #4 on our map. The corner of Spruce and Second by the Coeur d’Alene Park is the bus stop both to downtown and the airport. Route 60.

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We are a very convenient place to stay: ten blocks from the highway, twenty from downtown Spokane, a superb walking neighborhood.

That said, people now do sometimes drop in for an electric top-up to reach the new Tesla super chargers in Ritzville, or Ellensburg:

From “running on empty” in a Tesla, you only “need” two hours at the Odell House to gain 62 miles fuel to get to Ritzville

(I’d want a little cushion on that distance on a highway, particularly traveling from the west to east where there is a bit of a climb.)

Of course if you have stayed overnight with us and drive thoughtfully, you’ll have more than enough to skip Ritzville and refuel in Ellensburg

We are not ready to talk yet about travel more than 100 miles east of here. Right now (September 2014) the nearest super charger to the east is 540 miles away in Billings.  Billings, MT I-90 exit 443 Billings Big Horn Resort

(Lots of welders and RV parks in the meantime.)

And keep in mind that there are very little, if any, fast charging opportunities in Pullman, so plan accordingly. (If any one knows differently please let us know!)

 

More on equipment: we have a “normal” 240 V 30 amp level 2 fast charger, that works directly with the Leaf or Volt needing no adapters.  Teslas seem to come regularly with the right ones–even on maiden voyages.

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The picture above was taken during installation–you will note there is a plug hanging down to the left side of the charging unit.  A few hours later there was a 240 v 40 amp “welding type” outlet just to the left of it.

(NEMA 6-50P)

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You CAN unplug our charger to use proprietary Tesla adapters to get the full 40 amps.

If you want to access the 40 amps that the wall plug provides, you will need a male adapter that would work with this type of set up–and of course a long enough cord to reach the car.

In reality, using the provided charging station seems to deliver the roughly 30 miles of juice per hour that is promised from these welding type of plugs.  People have done it both ways–30 amps and 40 amps.

Using the equipment as provided at 30 amps seems the most reliable.  The Watt Station sometimes takes a couple of resets to come back on after being unlpugged, so if you do unplug it, make sure you’ve got the right cords!

 

Where to park? Two options. We sit on a corner and have two drives that can access the charger.

Option #1 2325 West First drive.

A Tesla, charging on the left rear, is easiest to charge by backing into the 2325 West First Avenue gated drive. This is the dedicated drive for unit B.

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This is an example of the correct parking placement for the Tesla–quite close to the porch and garden wall. There is enough cord for this–but not a lot to spare.

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Option #2 the 105 South Poplar Street Drive

Volt below, charging on the right rear is easiest in the 105 South Poplar Street location.

 

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As is the Leaf, which can pull in easily forward in the Poplar drive.

If you rent unit C, or no one is parking in the space for unit C–where the dark blue or black car is shown below–it is possible to back a Tesla in close enough to access the cord.  But it is close.   First Ave is the easier location, near unit B.

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 Why do you want to charge your car here–or stay?

If we do say so ourselves, we are a great place to charge your EV.  (And actually, other people have said this, though secretly wishing for an even faster and covered service. )

Why so great a charging place?

To charge, one has of course to leave the car plugged in.  While that car is plugged in you will be within three  blocks of public transportation, walking distance to places to eat and shop, and across the street from a museum.  https://odellhouselodging.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/local-places-to-eat-and-drink/

Getting to downtown or the airport is easy.  Some individuals have actually left cars here to charge while away for the weekend on flights from the Spokane Airport.

If you visit in summer there is also a play ground in the nearby park with a fun water feature for your shorter friends.

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Rick and I have a Leaf (Nissan all-electric vehicle) which in real practice has a range of about 75-80 miles–given typical Spokane terrain and weather.  We admire the cross country trekkers who appear every now and then with an  EV.  We hope you will be one.

 

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Ten blocks from the highway, on the most western edge downtown of Spokane–and all slightly down hill. . .  🙂

(We understand range anxiety. . . .)