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.



IMG_0087 IMG_0088

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.

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.


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;)


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:

(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.


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.


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.


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)


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.







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.




Option #2 the 105 South Poplar Street Drive

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



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.



 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.

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.


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.



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

(We understand range anxiety. . . .)