June 2015: Sunlight streams through the smudgy windows that need to be cleaned. I am alone in the Inn. Rich is at a funeral for a very good friend’s Mom who passed away at the age of ninety-four. I’m cleaning the kitchen cabinets. Pots and pans stashed away in a cupboard no one has visited in years. A crockpot that has lost it’s plug. Betty Crocker pie tins that have seen better days. Most of these things end up in the trash.
An hour later I need to put my broken feet on ice. I literally sink into the office chair which lowers itself when I sit down. I am afraid I will end up on the floor but it stops at the perfect height to put my feet on the other chair. I look around at the slowly improving kitchen situation. I can’t believe I live here.
The house was built in 1898 and is a lovely Victorian Tudor but like all old houses there is endless upkeep. We make a To Do List.
A List of Broken Things
Tall four drawer filing cabinet – third drawer doesn’t close making fourth drawer unusable
Computer full of spam
Dryer takes 3 cycles to dry towels
White washing machine – Spin cycle doesn’t empty water
Shower head in 2nd floor room has pinholes that spray water on the wall (guest observation)
Swinging kitchen door is broken and off track, slams door casing
Front storm door slams shut – glass may shatter
Griddle on stove does not light
Several window sashes are missing rope – when opened they slam shut
Hot water faucet in our master bath doesn’t work, cold water faucet is loose
It is time to say goodbye to three generations of women who went swimming this morning in the icy water of Tobey Pond. The grandmother, in her late eighties, has been diving into the pond before the park officially opens to the public for over sixty years now, and although she no longer lives here, each year she brings her daughter and granddaughter to take the annual plunge with her.
“Wasn’t cold at all,” she tells me with a sly smile and a twinkle in her ice blue eyes that peek out from beneath a floppy hat that looks like the one Gilligan wore on his island.
The phone rings. A Saturday night guest is allergic to feathers and needs allergy free bedding. He also wants to know about the picnic baskets we provide. I found the baskets in the laundry room but I don’t know how we provide the picnic. I tell him I will look into this. Oh, and one more thing, he would like a wine bucket in the room. Yes, we have those too.
A whole new batch of people arrive in the late afternoon. A group of guys in Porsches racing at Lime Rock tomorrow. People going to a music show to see a local band. The couple who ordered the picnic and are celebrating their anniversary. The air conditioner in their room hasn’t been installed yet. The husband kindly helps Rich lift it into the window. We agree ninety percent of the people we meet are nice.
I hear a loud bang. Rich returns to the kitchen and I ask him what it was.
“The bulkhead. I went in the cellar and discovered the washing machine is leaking into the basement.” Rich leaves the laundry room singing in his best Bob Dylan voice.
“Broken bottles broken plates
Broken switches broken gates
Broken dishes broken parts
Everything is broken”
A man from Texas arrives and when Rich shows him to his room he is angry his ex-wife booked the smallest room in the Inn for him. It is the room furtherest from hers and on a different floor as she specifically requested. She has called numerous times to make sure her ex-husband’s room is booked and to remind us she is a vegetarian and gluten-free. She has asked about hairdryers, air conditioners, and fans. We are waiting to meet what we expect will be our first difficult guest. X does not disappoint.
All the guests but one are checked in. We decide it is cocktail hour. The ice makers in both fridges-ours and the Inn’s – don’t work but the lounge has one. Rich grabs a bucket only to return empty handed. Something else needs to be added to the Broken Things list.
All three ice makers.
The cocktail hour is delayed an hour while Rich fixes it.
X doesn’t show up until ten p.m. At this late hour, under usual circumstances, we leave a note taped to the mirror by the front door with instructions for the guest. As we are expecting X to be high maintenance Rich gets up from his recliner and checks her in. She booked one of the least expensive rooms (with her ex in the cheapest room) and immediately starts complaining about the lack of a/c although she was told more than once this was the only room without a/c but we would provide a fan.
At 11 p.m. Rich does his rounds, shutting off lights and picking up empty wine glasses. An argument is taking place upstairs. The ex-husband is suffering the wrath of X.
“In the morning I will need to blow dry my hair, get dressed, eat breakfast…..” She is loudly going through the laundry list of things she needs to do in the morning. Doesn’t everyone do these things in the morning? Rich politely reminds her the other guests are sleeping.
Exhausted and glad X is only spending one night, we still agree ninety percent of the people we have met are really nice people.