Endless Summer: An Innkeeper’s Journal

SUMMER: The Internet crashes. Our guests are upset they can’t connect to wifi. I am too but there is something to be said for simple tasks that require no technology; folding sheets and towels, arranging flowers in a vase, arranging fruit on a plate. I hire a computer geek and give him a retainer.

The owner’s wife and I have been going back and forth on a new website all summer, getting nowhere. She is designing it but the owner tells me she will only take the job sixty percent of the way. I need to pick up the ball. I am not a professional web designer and have few hours left in my busy days so I hire a friend who owns a social media company. At the next Tuesday meeting I catch grief for this and the geek’s retainer.

Once again, we feel deflated and demoralized. It would be nice not to have to think about the inn for a day. The endless demands of what more can you do for us? How many hours in a day can we squeeze from you? The owner holds firm. Tuesday doesn’t work for him.

We drive to Springfield, MA to get a free oil change from the dealer where we bought my used Subaru. Rich has a strong desire to have lunch at a 99 Restaurant so I ask Siri where the closest one is. Not far she tells me. There’s one right in the Holyoke Mall. We drink ice cold beers in frosted mugs, eat shrimp tacos and buffalo wings, and chat with the surprising number of patrons at this shopping mall pub on an overcast late afternoon. They are restaurant workers, hospital technicians, a movie theater manager. Weekend warriors celebrating Happy Hour on their “Saturday”. We tell them about the Tuesday morning meetings and a cable repair guy says, “Fuck that.” Yes, indeed.

Wednesday morning I bake banana and zucchini breads for the Lime Rock pit crew that booked the entire inn for four nights. I relax into it, measure accurately, sift the flour, grate the zucchini, zest the orange peel, mash the bananas. While the breads are in the oven I dust the living room, bring wine and clean glasses to the lounge, play some Bob Seeger for our guests.

Limerock breakfast

Cobwebs cover the stone wall in the sunroom. It is hard to dust the rugged rocks. Dust rags catch and snag on the rough edges. I try vacuuming but the hose isn’t long enough to get behind some of the furniture. Back in the kitchen I read The Girl on The Train on my Kindle while waiting for the exact moment when the breads are done but still moist.

sunroom

The pit crew from Tavares, Florida are an international bunch. They love the place and the cinnamon swirl muffins I also made. I bake them a second dozen and they stuff them in their pockets before they climb in their van and head to the races. Later that night Rich gives them a tour of the haunted basement where the scary Halloween witch resides. They snap photos of broken chairs and the graveyard where old lamps and gothic candelabras have found their final resting place.

The phone rings. I take yet another reservation. The phone never stops ringing. Sitting at a desk trying to file payroll tax reports is not as easy as my husband thinks. I am missing passwords and have no answers to security questions. Where did you honeymoon? What is your youngest child’s middle name? I know my answers to these questions. Lake Louise. Margaret. But which of the four previous innkeepers who have sat at this desk over the past ten years provided the answers to these questions? I make phone calls. I sit on hold. I explain my dilemma and after lengthy interrogations proving I am who I say I am, I eventually create new passwords. Thinking ahead to a time when I no longer work here, I write down the answers to my security questions.

Michelle and I believe aliens have been visiting the Inn. Over the past week blue stains started appearing on towels from various rooms. Our soap and shampoo is not blue. Where are these oddly shaped blue blobs coming from?

A guest keeps calling Rich, Ralph, and he lets it continue without correcting him. The next morning during breakfast the guy knocks at the kitchen door, sticks his head in, and asks, “Do you have any ketchup, Ralph?” I burst out laughing.

My friend Mary Jane visits. Her husband Carl loves to putter around his backyard so he helps Rich clean the unfinished half of the garden between the sidewalk and the stone wall while my friend helps me weed the cutting garden. Other gardening friends came in the spring and weeded the front beds. The fact we need to enlist friends to help with the work load is not acknowledged by “the management”.

A man from Manhattan asks Rich about the large folk art stars people place on the front of their houses and barns. “I’ve noticed a lot of those around here,” he says. “Do these people all belong to a cult?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Rich says. “I believe it’s some kind of Pottery Barn thing.” Which in my mind is a cult. The cult of consumerism.

There has been so little time to write. I have lost the thread of this journal. I wake early on a Monday morning we don’t have to make breakfast. Thoughts swirl through my mind. The characters in the novel I’ve been working on for months are coming alive. A town full of characters. The call to write gets me out of bed.

On the way to fill my second cup of coffee, I pass the laundry room where piles of dirty sheets from the weekend cover the floor. I rotate the loads and fold the towels from the dryer. The sun is up but it’s not visible on this overcast morning. The arbor outside the laundry room door is covered with bittersweet. A brilliant sentence comes to me but I stop to empty the dishwasher then notice the crumbs on the floor so I grab the broom and start sweeping. What about that second cup of coffee? And the bittersweet thought? I’ve lost so many good sentences since moving here.

Cutting flowers

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6 thoughts on “Endless Summer: An Innkeeper’s Journal

  1. “I’ve lost so many good sentences since moving here”…. Yup, bittersweet. Great sentence. Truly hope you are planning on compiling all of these inn-keeping short story gems into one book.

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  2. Okay I thinking I am catching up, and sensing the season of discontent in your words. You and Rich need your own B&B. You are good at it and it works well with your writing. Kind of the same reason I left center work and returned to family child care….If I am going to work this hard, I want to be pulling the string and deciding what is or isn’t important. You two are naturals and I hope you find your own place if that is the direction you want to go.

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  3. Our own place would be great and we are very good at it as you will see in the very last chapter. The guests loved us and we loved them. The owner could never run a B&B, he doesn’t like people and relishes the fact they don’t like him. Running a B&B is such a personal thing, you need to own and manage it so it has your personality and personal sense of style and warmth. They’re very expensive though-we could never afford it.

    If you have people running your place you should have empathy and cherish the hard work they do for your business. There was none of that. Stay tuned – the final chapters are coming on Sundays and Wednesdays over the next two weeks. I have to crank it out and put it behind me.

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  4. Maybe we could start a gofundme page as a public service to get you two into a place of your own. Everyone would benefit from such a sharred union of innkeeper & guests. With each player providing a compliment of hospitality and life stories they would form a tapestry of connectedness. Something our country is severely lacking these days.

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    • I agree. Our country is sorely lacking a sense of community and empathy for others. We would definitely run an inn again if it were ours and we’re also considering starting an inn sitting business because now we know how hard it is to get away from the inn.

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