Fruit Loops but not fruit

In most cases, eating out regularly is not good for you.  Arguments?  (I hear none)

This post is actually not about eating out.  Really it is about eating in when you are not at home.  This should be possible–and is–but not as easily as before here at the Odell House–and I am sorry about that.

No big deal , we will all get over it, but I can’t go shopping for you any more.

And because it is going to make some changes in what we can offer our guests–subtle and probably only slightly annoying, but still changes–I thought I’d tell you about it.

Currently morphing from a scuffle to a genuine kerfuffle.

Kerfuffle: “A social imbroglio or brouhaha. An organizational misunderstanding leading to accusations and defensiveness.”  From The Urban Dictionary–many thanks.  (Of British Scottish origins.)

New update: with today’s news, the description gets more and more appropriate!  See below that the owner of a very big, (ornate, and utterly beleaguered) B&B a little east of us is really miffed at the perceived theft of its business by smaller “illegal” offerings.

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Not that I am right, but I think they are all wrong: the taped complainer above, the gal running a code violation fest in her back yard, and the city official (s) who have no doubt opened a can of worms that are eager to escape the can.

Word has it now that even though a hornet’s nest has been kicked over for hosts and guests of Air BnB (etc all), no action will be taken against the hosts for “X” amount of time.  Rumor has it anyway–and it is just that because to date there has been no follow up on the cease and desist of March 31. Which leaves everybody in an uncomfortable limbo.  You really want to book a date in June with that kind of uncertainty?  Bad move all around.  The wag of the finger is starting to point more and more to the city.  You don’t like how its working but its okay to keep doing it because its so popular–even though it could be stopped with three weeks notice–and MIGHT be.

Like many things about an anonymous complaint–no one knows.

And that is unfair.  (To hosts, guests, legitimate and unlicensed.)

But heck, we all make mistakes–lots of them!  (Imagine photo of shooting self in foot.)

(Keep in mind this picture below is the horse barn at my great grandfather’s summer home–er, island–and shabby elegance was a sought after quality–I think most particularly after the money started to dwindle and the reality of shingling something like this firmly set in.)


The point is gaudy has no attraction for me, it just takes a lot of work to keep an old house going.  No doubt about it. But so does keeping ANY house running and as said before I don’t back the “must be on the historic registry to keep an overnight guest.  That should be up to the guest!

In my book it is okay to offer different options–as long as you make yourself aware of the rules, and obey them.

In Spokane currently to be legal for short term guests, you have to live on site (good idea) and be part of a historic district or on the Historic Registry.  (Why?)

But why not fast and loose?

Because “level” is what a level playing field is all about. No “ifs ands or buts.”  It’s important.  And, never mind how one might feel about either party in the video above, the gal with the business plan is right: she should not be suddenly undercut after investing hundreds of thousands of dollars thinking she knew how many “alternative” rooms were–or likely could be–for sale in Spokane.

But, as I’ve said before, I think the real culprit does not live here in Spokane.  The problem/opportunity exists all over the countryht_airbnb_vandalized_nt_110728_wmain

So anyway,  back to the Health Department and the complaint everybody got–legal or not. I used to go grocery shopping for people.  (Not cook for them, I don’t have an inspected kitchen.)  Just shop.  Now I can’t.

Really?  Why ever not?  It made their lives easier.  It was friendly.


Allowing (and supporting) guests to eat as they choose is why we supply kitchens!  It is what we do!

This “gift” is not because we are too lazy or incompetent to cook breakfast.  Far from it.  It is because nutritionally every day is not Christmas morning, and a lifetime of most host’s “treats” may shorten your life considerably.

Here’s what we would cook for you–except we can’t.  Almost every bit of it would break the law.


None of this can be served to the public in a private manner: from eggs laid on site, to home-made cheese, to the butcher block they are sitting on. None of that would be allowed.  Fortunately, if you stay with us you can do it yourself.  Your choice.  And that’s the point

Frankly, when I stay at a B&B (which I have done a lot of over the years) I never stay for breakfast.  Several reasons.  Usually I am on a mission, and they serve it too late.  (That and I really don’t like having breakfast with strangers. Honestly, how many times do you want to answer “Oh, where are YOU from?” at 8:30 in the morning?)  Anyway, when I travel I usually have a horse to ride and leave early.

images                    1439513296_gladys_kravitz_nosey_neighbor_100179375_l_xlarge

(I just could not decide which picture I liked better–but you get the point.  When I’m out-of-town there is a reason I’m out-of-town!  I assume this is true of you as well.)

Don’t misinterpret me, I’m not down on Bed and Breakfast service per se.  I’ve used B&Bs all over the world, but I AM against the “everybody must do it the same,” largely provincial, atmosphere that I have experienced in my sixteen years of operating here in Spokane among the B&B community.  There, right on the table.  If you don’t fit that profile, you don’t have to be offended, it’s not you I am talking about.

It is true that in the last five to seven years roughly 50% of the B&Bs in Spokane have gone out of business, or gotten tired, or whatever causes people to close the doors.  Maybe it is undue competition.  And maybe the average traveler can no longer afford a full staff dressed in white to serve a breakfast for one?  (Could they ever?  It is a business model appropriate to time when the horse barn pictured above above was considered practical–and right off the island was moored the Americas Cup yacht.)

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“The Puritan” 1885 winner of the Americas Cup, and owned by my great-grandfather.  (Not that he knew anything about sailing a yacht particularly, though HIS father did do a good bit of junketing about in China circa 1865. . . )  Note the man, up from the helm in the final picture, giving dangerous-looking directions to servants, was also an employee of JM Forbes. . . .

The point is that just having a great place, or idea, does not keep one in business.

My other great-grandfather is the family cautionary tale of this.  Having discovered the process for refining crude oil (in a New Bedford outbuilding, after he had given up on the project, he set the glass jar on his sunny windowsill and then noticed the heat made it separate into layers) he gave it back to the scalawags from Pennsylvania who’d asked him to figure out what to do with it, and said something to the effect of:

“Sure, heat will do it, but no, keep your patent, this is filthy stuff!”


“Now, nice, clean whale oil, that is the thing of the future. . . ”

Banner American Whaling page KWM434_pg310


Modern try pots if you will. . .


So anyway, stories and business model problems aside,

I like to cook and distrust the cooking of “most people.”  Particularly many of those in it for profit.

And cooking is an activity which is notorious for needing equipment.  Fancy stuff–like a stove and something to put on it.  And in the course of my travels I have often chosen small furnished places with humble kitchens over somewhat fancier places without.  That is my experience, and the basis of our “business model”, if you will.

It pleases me to offer our guests a choice:

IMG_1952 vs ml_rm_ilib_rm_2cc_l_e

And I think my belief that eating out–which a standard B&B counts for–is usually bad for you is largely true.

Plain fact, real, home cooked food, made out of actual food–nothing your grandmother would not recognize–is generally best for you. Why?  A no-brainer.  You would never include the amount of fat, sugar and salt that normal restaurants, (B&Bs  included) or fast food places do.  At least we hope not.  And you do not need to have food last a millennium, as is profitable for processed food manufacturers.

You probably also do not consider every meal to be a”treat.”  So you probably do not make deep-fried french toast with huckleberry sauce and a lot of whipped cream every morning.  But you might make it, as your signature meal to get people’s attention if you were in the business.  Never mind wreck the rest of their day with blood sugar issues.  People do not need assistance with eating unwisely.

Sure, there are exceptions to the “don’t eat out” rule–establishments exist that valiantly go above and beyond to give you real food.  (I’ll give you a list below.)

And, true, even given a kitchen, some people do not purchase or consume healthy alternatives for themselves.  (We know.  We empty the trash.)  But increasingly people DO pay more attention to what they eat–both at home and while on the road.

So, back to current events.   While we still want you to cook and enjoy eating any food that appeals to you in your own kitchen here at the Odell House, we can no longer buy groceries for you.

(This used to be a regular question:  “Can I pick up anything for you at the store?”  Seems a logical, friendly sort of question. At least I thought so.)

How come no more grocery shopping?  If you’ve been following the recent Air BnB local scandal, you’ll know that “someone” in Spokane filed a complaint against local Spokane hosts–it was pretty broad brush, I know because I got one too.  Never mind having a license.

And, like I said, yesterday I got another broad brush note, this time from the Health Department.   It was pretty general, not to us specifically.  It began,  “Dear Bed and Breakfast Owner”. . .  and related that if we served food we’d need to be inspected and permitted for that.  I know that.  But I still called them up, asked some questions and gave some answers.

No, we do not serve food–and it turns out it is a good thing, because if we did it would not be just installing stainless counter tops, we’d have to meet certain standards–standards that have nothing to do with preserving the quality of food in its natural state.  Essentially, if you provide food “to the public”–and public is the critical distinction–you must comply with rules that minimally keep fast food “safe”.

Anyway, I explained to the nice man from the Health Department that we don’t serve food, but if we are given a shopping list we will pre-stock a kitchen to make it easier for our guests to cook real food.  That would be okay, he explained back, except we are not allowed to buy them real food.  We can shop, as long as everything we purchased for our guests was prepackaged and in no case needing refrigeration.

Really?  Nothing that needs refrigeration?

“Only for ‘quality.’ not for safety.” He informed me.

Prepackaged was a word that came up frequently in the conversation.

(Note here, prepackaged produce–the kind of lettuce that is cut up for you already and is sold in a sealed bag–is one of the biggest offenders in produce-related contamination.  Just thought you’d like to know, though we can’t buy that for you either.)

So now we can’t provide “real” organic dairy products–and, as I understand it, fruit, vegetables, and any bakery bread are also out.

Rule is, if it is intended for consumption and we have any hand in it, food must be from “the middle isles” of the grocery store.  That is a place I do not frequent as all the produce and dairy and fun stuff lives at the edges.  In fact, except the wine aisle, I try to avoid the middle of the store.  (If you don’t buy it you won’t eat it.)

So now, according to the Health Department,  I can buy you Fruit Loops


but not fruit.


We are not even going to talk about the garden we have planned this summer.  I did not mention this garden idea to the truly nice man from the Health Department. I figured that question was not going to help either his, my, or your day.


I also did not mention our composting program:


What compost?

Please ignore the container on your counter, ah also please only eat from the paper plates and plastic forks–the others are only there for decoration!  (I kid you not–it’s a rule.)


No locally produced vegetables or half and half for you!  I’m allowed to provide “creamers” or irradiated cream in those little containers that don’t need refrigeration.  (Don’t need refrigeration and have no spoilage date?  Cream?  What?)

Ditto, “butter substitutes” in little packages.  I can give you those.

Eggs from the real chickens that live on the place and eat scraps of real food and spend the day digging around looking for grubs?


No!  No eggs at all in fact.

(They are wrong about this by the way as per Mother Jones

fresh eggs do not actually NEED refrigeration, and it is best if you do not wash them as they have a natural protective covering to keep bacteria out.  They will last a very long time just kept in a cool place–obviously not on your dashboard for weeks, but let’s be sensible . . .)

Oh, the “S” word.

Well, speaking of eggs and sense, there is a quirky egg law in Spokane.  If you take an egg from the coop to the farmers market, and try to sell it,  you must have with you a permit, a large tarp (to protect the environment in case of breakage,) and a good supply of hot water–in excess of 180 degrees I think–for the same purpose: environmental contamination.

But, if you have your own chicken, and get an egg, and put a sign on your fence that a fresh egg is available, that is okay.  Your neighbor can come and buy it from you.

But I cannot place that same fresh egg in your refrigerator.  You have to get it yourself.



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There is, by the way, a time-honored method that owners of small-scale egg production–duck eggs for instance–can take eggs to the  farmers market.  How?  You can sell them for craft purposes–as in blown eggs to paint small pictures on.

So, at the Odell House you will no longer find fresh eggs in your refrigerator.  (If you tell me you want some I’ll tell you about the supply–chickens have moods too–and tag them for you.)  Easter is coming and I know how artsy you are feeling.

And, as I see it,  there is also nothing stopping me from providing a “decorative” fruit bowl in the hallway.  You may, for all I know, really be an artist, and in need a subject for your next still life.


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Fruitbasket, 1593/94 (?), oil on canvas, 31 x 47 cm, oil on canvas

We often put flowers in the rooms and halls.  We do not expect the guests to eat them.  (But truthfully I never check.)

So on our list of things you can have–it’s on our online booking already–flowers in the room, a decorative fruit bowl, and eggs–for craft purposes only!  You can have them, but we can’t give them to you.


Oh, and by the way, many thanks to the complainer for helping to ensure the health of our guests by making more difficult and risky providing them with safe, healthy, organic food, a real plate fork and knife.  I’m sure that was a real community service. . .

You guests will find, as always,  a list of places to shop that stock organic produce here:

And here are my picks for the two best places to eat rationally created real food–if you want to go out.

The first is in our neighborhood.

With somewhat limited hours, but open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, Italia Trattoria



The corner of Pacific and Cannon, a bit toward the south, on the west side of the street.

And if you are headed east or south in the morning (they are open until 2PM every day) The family owned and run Old European either in Post Falls or Pullman.  These people are passionate about real food correctly prepared.  Great oatmeal–honestly.


PS. Re plastic.  Today I did go shopping, looking especially for things in little packets, at a big restaurant supply house.  They had lots of stuff!


Hmmmm. . . . not this. Latest word re heart disease.  Don’t eat these.

But then I started to think outside the container and came up with some ideas.

$132.40 worth of them in fact.


Some of which I think are okay.


I’d prefer organic cream to the little miniature buckets of it, but, at least it is better than the powder.   The small jars of honey were local, cute, and not too pricey.   I don’t think we’re going to go through a lot of those darned paper plates and individually-wrapped plastic cutlery sets.  But by golly they are there!


The pineapple juice is not what I’d prefer, but its not from concentrate.

And then I remembered that there is one great thing that comes in small packets!


Bingo.  This WILL be a nice addition.  Right next to the tea.

The chicken came first.


We know this for a fact, because before we had hens there were no fresh eggs.

When Rick and I thought about selling our little place down the hill from the Odell House and have them live on site, we worried slightly about how a hen house would look, and about neighbor response.

Then it occurred to us: other people might like chickens too.  And even if they are indifferent to chickens, many like eggs–the fresher the better.  So we asked our neighbors, and they were enthusiastic.  We consulted zoning laws, determined lot size and numbers allowed and then began working on coop design.

Here was the inspiration:


A glorious one human building/art object on display in Canada.

What a great roof line!

Here’s the chicken house version: created by “mad tiny house designer” Mike Ross:


Tucked back by our new raised cold frames near the garage.


Eggs from the hens are available by the end of the Poplar Street drive–there is a cooler–and though “the ladies” enjoy visits, they are located in a an area that is private, so you have to ask for a “chicken audience” should you or your favorite small child like to make a visit.



This young guest is a repeat visitor whose manners and demeanor we always appreciate.  (His parents are nice too. . .)

Anyway, notice also allows us to corral the poodle pack.


Who are only asleep for gaining energy waiting to leap on a stranger–which although probably not dangerous is not the manners we expect from them, so we like to be in a warned rather than surprised in theirs and the chickens yard.

Dale’s number is 509 879-4619 and it is just fine to call and ask if her and her highness are accepting visitors.


Anyway, we wanted fun, but not obtrusive.

The chickens love it.


It has an electronically controlled door so the local raccoons will not be tempted by thoughts of chicken dinners.


She’s the ring leader, a two-year old Black Australorp.


The Buff Orpington in the foreground likes to be held.  (They really are the sweetest chickens on earth).


One of the Silver Lace Wyndottes escaped on their first day and Dave, our wonderful carpenter, and I tracked her down, finally found glowering under a bush on Pacific, headed toward The Elk.  (Fence repairs ensued.)

They are pampered.


But what’s not to love?

(I’m not sure, but I think we are the only hotel or B&B in Spokane with a EV charger, composting program and a coop and laying hens on site.)


If you’d like some fresh eggs when you are visiting, just say the word–or look in the cooler.  Poplar Drive.



Note re The Health Department regs winter 2014.  The Health Department now says I can provide you nothing that requires refrigeration–which fresh eggs actually don’t, but they made the  HD forbidden list anyway.  (If any egg you get anywhere–grocery store especially–is cracked you should discard it immediately, but an undamaged, unwashed egg with the natural protective covering left on will last a very, very long time–they are designed for this as a bird has to lay one egg at a time until she gets the 10-20 that some want to make a hatching effort–they all have to hatch within hours of one another so the chicks can start foraging.  It is only when she sits non-stop that the fertile eggs begin to develop, which of course means they can’t go rotten in the three weeks it takes her to collect them secretly under the bush.  And our eggs are of course not fertile, as roosters are not allowed in city limits.  Very wise rule.  In any case, in a cool dry place an egg can last six months–something egg processors are happy about.  They are of course much better when new–that is why we take the trouble.)

And the chickens like visits, so please give us a ring to corral the poodles and come say hi.  There are usually treats left by the gate.  A small handful will do them no harm.

Leftovers?  With the exception on onions and citrus they can eat anything that you healthily can, but do remember how diligent they are at this–no avocado skins or pits–they really will eat them and those would not be good for you either.  (They are toxic)


This is chicken for, “Yes, please!”