Ending The Season... Almost Unscathed!

Last weekend we closed the inn for the season. During that last week, I stayed at the inn by myself one night. It was a very slow night with just a couple of guests and George stayed home with Aidan. Our last room of guests checked in around 9 pm. And they were hungry. During the Fall there are very few places that stay open for dinner late. Hell, during the season most restaurants don't stay open very late up here.

When the guests walked in that night, they promptly asked, "Where can we go get dinner?" OMG, that question! That late! It happens every so often and almost always happens after the people have just driven through Cooperstown (past many restaurants) and arrive at our inn after everything's closed!

These guests had just come back from Main Street. Most of the Main St. restaurants close at 9 pm. They drove the 15 minutes past about 10 restaurants to us to ask us where should they go to eat. They even commented that Doubleday Cafe looked good. I called Doubleday Cafe. They were closing.

I told them about the Rose and Kettle (one of my favorites) one block up the street from us. I called the restaurant. They would be open for one more hour. I showed them the menu and told them it was wonderful. "No, we really just want hamburgers." Really, you are going to be picky right now? I tell them they should go, they will love the food and considering there isn't much of a choice, they should hurry.

As they left for the restaurant, they asked what time did I serve breakfast until. I said 10 am. They said, "Oh, ok, then I guess we will be in around 9:30." Not seeming very happy about the hour. "We wanted to sleep as late as we could." I said, "Oh, ok, well, see you at 9:30." Not really budging on the time. I found out the next morning, that timing wasn't really important to them. 10:15 am. Still no sign of life. How long do I leave breakfast out for them?? They strolled in at 10:30. Ugh, how many more days until we close??

The next day, Mr. & Mrs. Invisible checked in. They checked in late, so we left an envelope with their key in it and the welcome letter stating what time breakfast was. The next morning the guests and I were all still mingling in the lobby at 10:30 when The Invisibles from Room 7 drove away. At first I felt bad. Maybe they thought they missed breakfast and didn't want to come in because they were late. Oh well, I thought, we would see them later.

Then Emily, my cleaning girl came in. She said the Invisibles had left a note requesting more toiletries, toilet paper, bathroom cups. She always replaces what is used, but they checked in late last night. They went through 2 rolls of toilet paper already?? As she was making the beds, she came across a plastic bag hidden under their pillow. In this bag - all the toiletries, toilet paper and cups. Are you kidding me??? Really? If you are going to steal all the stuff out of the bathroom, and ask for more, can't you find a better hiding spot than the bed that we are going to make??? May I suggest your suitcase? Not that I'm condoning stealing our stuff!

I asked Emily, "What did you do?" She said, "I took everything out of the bag and put it back in the bathroom." After I stopped laughing, I told George, who was happy with Emily's decision. That afternoon "The Invisibles" came back to the inn. No one saw them come back but, then again, no one saw their car come back later that evening either. But, we knew they came back at some point. When Emily went in to clean their room the next day, the beds had not been slept in and all their stuff was gone. No check in, no check out. We never saw them. Thank god their credit card went through.

This last weekend of the season. We had four rooms of some of our best returning guests. What a nice way to end the season. But of course, we had to have a little crazy thrown in. Just to remind us of how much we need this break from the inn. Spring will be here soon enough, with plenty more stories to tell. But for now, enjoy the winter and enjoy the holidays!

to be continued...

Welcome! We're Not Here Right Now....

Sometimes when we have errands to run or maybe go out to dinner, we leave an envelope with a "Welcome Note" for our guests. This envelope is left on the front counter with their key inside. Now for the most part, all the guests find their notes and make themselves at home. But then there is that odd guest. Last week we had two of them. 

The first was a very nice couple. I was out at the supermarket and the phone call came.
"Hi, we just wanted to let you know that we have arrived."
"Well, hello, welcome. I assume you found your key on the lobby desk?"
"Oh, you want us to go into the lobby?"
Wait, what??? You are outside in your car??? You are calling me to tell me you have arrived - from your car - in the parking lot!!!!!!!!
"Well, yes, go inside and get your key and make yourself comfortable."
"Oh, I am going inside right now and there it is. I see it."
OMG!!!!! This was definitely the first time someone thought that they should check in from their car. Maybe I should get a pair of roller skates. We could change our name to The Meadowlark Drive-In Inn.  Hey, that's catchy. I don't know if there are any of those. 

The second guest came when we were at a town meeting and George answered his cell phone. "Hi, I just wanted to let you know that we are here. We are in the lobby and there is an envelope with our name on it. I am assuming that there is a key in it." Well yes, there is, so this phone call wasn't really necessary was it. Why wouldn't you just open the envelope? WITH YOUR NAME ON IT!!!!! You called to let us know that you see an envelope, with your name on it, and you are assuming that there is a key in it. Really??

When things like this happen I immediately think - Was it something we did that was not completely clear. For the first guest, I suppose we can install a neon flashing sign that says "Enter Here". That would probably work well for the 1/2 dozen or so guests in the past that just can't seem to find the front door. We see them pull in the driveway, slow down, drive past the door that says "Lobby," go around the building to our own driveway where we park and sometimes pull all the way into the back. Like the inn's "Entrance" would be in the backyard. We even had one guest knock on the back door to our apartment saying "Hi, we're here to check in." I couldn't even hold back my, "Really, you completely missed the door, and the light and the sign and this is where you think you check in? Really?" I said it nicely, but I just couldn't hold it back. Next year - a brighter front door light, a bolder "Lobby" door sign. But the neon flashing light idea, may just be too tacky.

For the second guest, I've decided a voice activated recordable "Yes Man" Doll could work wonders for us. Guest walks in and "Yes Man" will announce Welcome in our own voice. And as a bonus, on days when I'm not feeling so great there are 8 pre-recorded ego-boosting statements, like, "I'm sure whatever you're thinking is correct," "Say I wish I'd thought of that," and "I couldn't agree with you more completely." Hmmm, my dream man.

Oh well, back to reality. So, as a guest comes in with questions, like, "Should we enter the lobby to check in?" or "Should we open the envelope with our name on it?" We will do our best to answer these and other seemingly obvious questions with our best, "Of course, and welcome to the Meadowlark Inn!"

Goodbye Summer Rentals!

When the summer season ends, so does the weekly tenants for our three vacation rentals. After this, our income takes a dive. Enter phase two, scrambling for winter rentals. The weird thing about Cooperstown though is that we have had pretty good luck with finding nice tenants for the winter season. Each year from Sept. - May we have people stay for a variety of reasons. Sometimes someone is building a home, sometimes they are interning at The Hall of Fame, some are traveling nurses at Bassett Hospital. There are lots of different reasons why someone needs a home for only 8 or 9 months. 

This past week we got a call from one of these people. George was going to meet him to show him the apartment on Saturday. Since this person was going to be living next door to me for the next 9 months, I had a lot of questions. Now George, always ready to pimp out our places, had asked all the right questions before he was to meet him. But the problem was, he got all the wrong answers AND he was still showing him the place. He was going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I on the other hand was not!

Where do you live now?

Why are you coming up here?
"I need to relocate."

How will you pay the rent?
"I get a check from social security."
    Sounded pretty young to get social security.

Can it cover the rent?
"No, but my mother also gets social security and she will be living with me."
    Your... mother. Wow.... this is looking... better by the minute. You did say... your mother, right?

Can that cover the rent?
"No, but my wife is a model."
    A model... Of course, she is.   

Well what is her weekly salary?
"Well... nothing right now. She is pregnant."
    Well, there now, it just got worse.

So how do you plan on paying for the rent?
"I have a website that could bring in $4,000/month."
    COULD bring in $4,000, not DOES bring in. I COULD win the lottery this month too.

What is the website?
"You could go to my website to see what I look like - www....... "
    (as he was saying it, I was typing it in. What a surprise! There was no such website!)
    No, not really a surprise. But boy was I curious to see this guy.

You know we are renting the place weekly starting June 1st, so you would have to vacate by then?
"Oh yes, we are going to buy a house and move out by then."
    Because that $4,000/month website is really going to help with that deposit on a house!
Now all of this and George was still planning on meeting him. Could any tenant be worse! He actually had me type up a new contract to bring with him. With added reasons why someone could be evicted! One of the reasons was - "If there is excessive yelling, this is reason for eviction." LOL, excessive yelling. You think these people are going to be fighting and you still want to meet him? Can't cover the rent, husband and pregnant wife and mother in law in same apartment = possible fighting, non-existent website, relocation, no real reason to ever leave. Now if these aren't red flags. Forget about red flag, this was a freaking rainbow colored flag flapping in George's face. 

So here I stood in my pimp of a husband's way, with my "No way, this is where I draw the line!" look on my face. Well actually it was more than a look. I think I said the word NO about 20 times in 5 minutes. But he's used to that.

"You know I gotta be honest with you. This really doesn't look good, and it would probably be better if you found another place," George said. Thank you George!

It's a long cold winter up here, and I think these neighbors/tenants were going to make it a lot longer!

Hello! Hello!

There are long hours with being an innkeeper. The day starts at 6:30 am and sometimes it doesn't end until 11 pm. There are specific jobs to do throughout the day, but you are "on call" all day long for other things like directions, restaurant recommendations, etc. Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with helping people for legitimate reasons. George and I both enjoy talking to all our guests, but the "Hello, hello" people, well, they are another story. These are the people who come in at the most inconvenient times (dinner, laundry or finally just sitting down for the night). These are the people that just want to let you know..... They have no questions and really no reason for coming in. They just want to let you know.... 

We are always upstairs when this happens and hear someone yelling for us to come downstairs...

"Hellooo. Hellooo."

We come downstairs and into the lobby.

"Hello, hello... Just getting some tea."
   Did you want to know if I wanted any?? Why are you telling me this?

"Hello, hello... Just picking a different movie. My wife already saw this one."  
   Oh, ok, did you want me to help you decide on a movie? I liked "I Love You Man."

"Hello, hello... Just wanted you to know that we decided to go to that other restaurant."
   Why? What was wrong with the first restaurant? Let's discuss this before you leave.

"Hello, hello... Just wanted you to know that we're gonna take that other road into town."
   In case you come up missing? Phew, now I can direct the police in your direction, thanks!

"Hello, hello... Just wanted you to know that we are leaving for dinner."
   Oh, are you asking me to come with you? No thanks, I was just sitting down... to eat my own dinner!

"Hello, hello... Just wanted you to know that the toilet paper in the lobby bathroom was running low."
   Not out! But low. I'll get right on that!

"Hello, hello... Just wanted you to know that my sons were going to play a game of chess in the lobby now."
   Ok, do they need me to watch?

"Hello, hello... I just left my key on the front desk."
    Oh thank you for telling me, now I can I safely put it in the drawer.

or alternately

"Hello, hello... I am going to leave my key in the room when I check out."
   Oh, I'm glad you told me. I would have worried that you were one of those "non-checking out guests" (like in my previous blog). 
With 12 rooms of people there are bound to be "Hello, hello" people here a few times a week. And yes, all of the above have been said to us at least once, and some of them many times throughout the years. But we always try our best to walk into the lobby with a smile on our face and say "Hello! Oh thank you for telling me."

Check-Out Time? Whenever!

Fridays are our busiest days. Not only do we normally have a lot of check-out/check-ins, but it is the turn-over day for our rental houses. It was 10 am this past Friday and I was getting ready to leave to check on our rentals. George was cleaning up breakfast and the girls had started the room cleanings. All the guests had either checked out or had gone out for the day. There were no cars in the driveway.

Around 10:45 Emily came in to tell me that I had mistakenly put Room 9 as a full-clean, but it was a refresh since the guest's things were still in the room. Oh, ok, I don't normally mess up like that, but let me just recheck that on the computer. No, that guest was supposed to check out. I went down to the room. Maybe they had packed up and ran out to get gas, were coming right back to check out and get their stuff. Yeah, that's it, I had convinced myself of that on my way down to their room. When I opened their door, nothing was packed. This was a very lived in room. There was a tip for the girls on the bureau and it looked very much like they had gone out for the day. All I could think about was that in 3 hours there would be a family arriving to check into this room. I ran to the front desk to hopefully get their cell phone number off of their reservation. But there was just a home phone - no way to contact them. George and I decided to wait about an hour or so and we would have to start packing their stuff up ourselves.

George started calling around to see if he could find them another hotel to stay at. Obviously they thought they had reserved for two nights, not one. When they got back and found we had evicted them from their room, they were not going to be happy. Oh, damn you TripAdvisor! Hopefully, they never have heard of THAT site. But they reserved their room, got a confirmation, and paid for one night!! How could they think they had two nights booked??? Did they just decide to stay another night and forget to ask if it was available for another night?? WHERE WERE THEY??????

Me, never one to panic (ok, panic is my middle name), started running around like a crazy person. I put a yellow sticky note on their door to come immediately to the office if they came back. We found a place for them to stay that night and decided we would start packing up their things around 1 pm.

Then around 12:30, the wife came walking into the lobby.
"Why did you want me to come down here?"
"Do you think you are staying another night?"
"No, we are checking out today."
Oh thank God! But then it hit me, she was very casual with her, "No, we are checking out today."
No, I didn't say that! But if you were in my head, you heard it loud and clear. What actually came out was, "Check out time was 11 am. We were so worried that you had wanted to stay another day and we had no rooms available."
"Oh no, we went hiking this morning and it was such a beautiful day that we decided to stay out longer. Then we went to the farmer' market. Sorry if we worried you."
"Well, I was more worried that you had no where to stay tonight." And that I was going to have to pack up your stuff, and wait around all day to explain to you that you were staying somewhere else, and change the locks on that door because god forbid you walk into the room that others were staying in. And then you would give us a bad review!
"Oh no, I wasn't worried."

A little while later she walked into the lobby to check-out. "I had a very nice stay, but I do want to inform you that you do not have an updated menu in your binder in the room for The Rose & Kettle restaurant and you should really update that." Are you kidding me! And you should check out on time!!!! You check out 1 1/2 hours late and I should be reprimanded for not keeping up with the changing menus of the restaurants in the area!!!!

I keep adding more and more things in the rooms or in the lobby. Along with that updated menu, you will now see a frame in the room, complete with check out hours.

A Vacation During the Summer - Unheard Of!

When we got the invitation for the Macaluso Family Reunion, at first I thought, George and Aidan would go and I would stay home and watch the inn. We've never left the inn for a long period of time in the seven years we've been open. George really wanted us all to go as a family and after talking to Emily, one of our employees, we decided that not only was she willing to take on the responsibility, she was more than capable. So what started as a one day away family reunion, ended up being a five day glorious all expenses paid Caribbean cruise! Well, not exactly, but that is how I looked at it! It was five days away from the inn. And that's all that mattered. But before we visited friends/family/and the Jersey Shore, we had to make sure everything was taken care of. First we called the local Bed & Biscuit Getaway for our dogs. (What a better name than kennel!) The owner said to George, "Oh, you're trying to get away DURING THE SEASON! That is never going to work!" Ok, that didn't make me feel better!

It was 9:30 pm on Friday and we were leaving Emily in charge Saturday morning. I was packing and writing 175 yellow sticky notes to be left around the inn. Then we got a phone call from one of our rental house guests. Now this particular rental house guest had already been stressed to the max. In all of the years that we have had rental houses, we have never, not once double booked. But this time, well, something went awry and I found out several weeks ago, that I had done it. Two separate renters/one house. Not good! 

Thank god we had our own house to fall back on because we were able to put one of the renters into our own house. Ok, good, they were happy. It wasn't a nightmare anymore. Until they arrived at the house to check in! On our property we have two houses. One is ours, a one family house and the other is our Pottery House, a two family rental house. Both have separate driveways. So here it was 9:30 pm and the couple who had originally been double booked show up at our house to check in. 

9:30 pm/Phonecall:
"Hi, Tina, we are at the house to check in. What house is it? There are two houses on the property."
"The one on the right."
"The lights are on in that one."
Did I leave the lights on when I was there earlier. I guess.
"That's ok, I must of just left them on."
"But the TV is on too."
Now I know I didn't leave that on. Oh crap!
"Can you hold on a minute?"
George, there is someone in our house. WTF! Why would there be someone in our house!!!

"Hi, I'm back again, are you sure you are at the right house? Maybe you're at our neighbors."
"There is a red wall in the living room. And the TV is on and stuff is in the living room."
Oh this is bad.
"Can you hold on a minute more?"
George what are we going to do??? You have to go over there!!! Who is in there??? 

George, always the calm in my tropical storm, says, maybe it's the other renters. Maybe they went to the wrong house. I called the renters up on their cell phone. Because of course, there was no one at our house, even though all the lights and two TV's were on! Why yes, they did move into our house, along with moving into the other house!!! After renting a 5-bedroom 2-family house, imagine their luck when they showed up at the house and found a "bonus" house on the property. The Pottery House renter said they thought, "well, now this is too good to be true. This is more space than we even need."

Even though I want so very much to be that calm, even keeled person - the crazy came out in me.
How can anyone think that they get a "bonus" house!!!
George went over there and took care of everything. But the people who had mistakenly moved in, REALLY MOVED IN. George had to reclean the entire house, while the poor double-booked couple waited in the driveway for 2 hours. 

George finally came home after midnight. Oh this was going to be a rough week. The following morning, Emily showed up at 6:30 to start taking care of things. While we packed and finished getting things ready for her, one of our guests came up to me and asked to book a room for next year. The weekend she wanted already had 11 rooms booked with the last room on hold. I told her I would let her know as soon as I found out if that room was being taken. Five minutes later her husband went up to George and asked to book that last room. George told him I had already told his wife that I would be in touch with her as soon as I found out about the room. About 20 minutes later, Emily came up to me and said that the wife had gone up to her and told her that I had said it was ok to book that last room but to talk to Emily about the booking. Are you kidding me? They were trying to sneak-book that last room! 

The following morning while we were gone, Emily called me to tell me that while she was making waffles for the guests, that particular woman came up to her to tell her that the Raisin Bran container was low. Emily looked up at it and saw that it still had 1/3 cereal in it and that it could wait. But I guess the woman was insulted that Emily did not immediately take action because she then went over to the cereal dispenser, put a bowl under it and turned the dial until all the cereal was emptied. Even though it overflowed out of the bowl and onto the table and floor. This is one of those times that I wish I was at the inn, but probably best that I wasn't. Emily's response: cleaned up the mess; George's response would have been: Excuse me, what is wrong? Can I help you with something; My response: What the F@$K! is wrong with you?? Why the hell would you do that???. Yeah, probably best I was getting my tan on at the time. Boy do I need this vacation! 

So aside from some minor repairs that our girls all took care of, everything actually went smoothly at the inn. Between phone calls and texting, we were kept abreast of all that was going on. And we felt confident that everyone was happy. And no more phone calls from any of the rental houses. It was a wonderful five days away. Maybe we can do this every month! 

Everything's Not Always as it Seems

When we moved up by Cooperstown, we were surprised to learn that there is a large community of Amish people here. Over the years we have befriended several of them. A wonderful simple lifestyled group of people, they have worked for us doing construction with George and housekeeping at the inn. A couple years back when we had one of the girls work for us, she was barraged with questions from the other housekeepers and myself. George also finds himself asking his workers many questions. It's such a different lifestyle that it's hard to believe people live like that in this day and age.

Well maybe not so different really. The other day while working on the new rooms, George had a couple of Amish working with him. He walked into the room and noticed a particularly familiar stance. The 16 year old Amish boy had his back to him, elbows out, head bowed. For a second you would almost think he was praying. But having a 16 year old ourselves, George immediately recognized this position! He was praying to the texting Gods! Something was quickly shoved into this 16 year old's pocket. George noticed a distinct outline. "Jeremiah, do you have a cell phone??," George asked. "Wah, wah, what?" "Come on, you heard me, do you have a cell phone?" Then just a slight smile came across these two Amish faces. The older one even asked to borrow our boat that evening. He said he had driven a boat before and George really likes him, so he gave him the keys. What? Isn't that like driving a car? That's allowed in the Amish handbook? I have a feeling that handbook gets rewritten every year.

We are familiar with many of the last names of the Amish here. So a while back when we received an online reservation under one of these familiar names, I thought, Oh they must have relatives coming to visit. Would I have to turn the electricity off in that room? How would it work? But that seemed wrong. They would most likely stay at the Amish home. I was so curious to see if they were Amish when they checked in.

I was downstairs at the front desk and George was upstairs when they arrived. In walked a young husband and wife and their three children. All dressed in very fashionable summer clothes. Other than their clothes everything else screamed Amish. They had the accent and a very distinct Amish look to them. It took everything I could to hold in my, "Oh my God, are you Amish? Why are you dressed like that?" No, I know, that would be wrong. So I pretended not to notice.

The mom and dad looked around the lobby while the three little boys sat on the couch in perfect formation. I excused myself for a second and ran up the stairs to get George. "You have to come down. There are Amish in our lobby dressed in really cool clothes!" We ran down the stairs and walked casually back into the lobby. George introduced himself and talked to the couple about the Baseball Hall of Fame and other attractions. Then, never being one to mince words, George said, "You know, your last name is a very popular Amish last name." WHAT?? WHAT did you just say? I thought we were pretending not to notice!!!

It was then that they explained that they were raised Amish and left their community when they were adults. They seemed to enjoy talking about their Amish upbringing, so I was glad George brought up the elephant in the room. I don't think I would have had the nerve to. Between this couple and all the Amish people we have come in contact with, we realize they are not so different than us. They like a lot of the same things that we do, and as the Amish handbook keeps being rewritten, it won't be long before we see them, out and proud, holding their cell phones in public and texting each other, instead of actually talking to one other, like the rest of us.

A Trip to Cooperstown with "Mom"

Baseball isn't just for men, women like it too. A while back this was evident when three sisters and their mother checked in for a "Ladie's Weekend." These four women loved baseball. The sisters, aged 60-70, decided to take "Mom," aged 92, to the Hall of Fame. "She just loves baseball." Well that wasn't the only thing she loved as I was soon to find out.

That night, after the lobby closed, we got a knock on the door. I opened it and one of the sisters said, "Mom is sick and we are going to need you to come to the room and clean up a bit." Oh man, really?? Can't I just give you a roll of paper towels and call it a night! I thought. Then she said, "Probably are going to need a bucket and a mop. It's pretty messy." This wasn't going to be good!

I got my cleaning supplies and off I went. I knocked on the door and when the sister opened the door, there was "Mom," tucked in the bed with the covers up around her nose. An almost unrecognizable "Sorry" came out of her mouth. As I walked in I couldn't help but notice the extraordinary amount of liquor bottles lined up on the bureau. OMG, Mom's drunk! Really? Isn't she like really, really old. Couldn't the Hall of Fame trip have been enough? Did they really need to party with mom too??

"It's in there." They pointed to the bathroom. It? Oh this was going to be bad. As I opened the bathroom door and walked in, I wanted to die! It's as if a 90 year old Linda Blair had been in there. Someones head had to have been spinning for this mess to happen. I closed the door and before I did anything, I cried. Yes, cried. Maybe this was a dream. Maybe I would wake up from this nightmare. But no. This wasn't going away until I made it go away.

Many times our guests have said to us, "We too have always wanted to run an inn. It seems like fun."  It's times like this I think of  "Mom" and the darker side of innkeeping.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong??

A couple of months ago George came to me with the idea of renovating our garage at the inn to include two more rooms. Our garage consisted of the front 2/3 as George's workshop and the back 1/3 as our Suite. George said he could take the empty space and make a small workshop, a storage room and two brand new rooms and it wouldn't cost us a crazy amount of money since the building is already there. Ok, I said, but I asked, "Is there anything that could go wrong?" What could go wrong? "Any chance that we would have to change the septic or the well??" No, of course not, it's just some 2x4's and some sheetrock. What could go wrong? "Are you sure?" Yeah, I'm sure. "Anything else that you could think of that the building inspector might say we would need? Anything?" Nope. "You sure?" Yes, I'm sure, as he grabbed his drill and nail gun and headed towards the garage.

Every year George seems to come up with a project. Last year was the baseball field. Yep, that was going to be an easy one too. And not cost a lot of money either. Well he was wrong on that one. After about two weeks of a bulldozer leveling and pushing dirt around, I finally just screamed, "Make them stop!! It's level enough! The Yankees aren't coming to play in our backyard!"

So back to the these two rooms....that weren't going to be a problem. He framed the rooms, installed the plumbing, installed the electricity, installed the doors/windows, renovated the exterior. It looked great. Now, at this point, he needs it to be inspected so he goes for the permit. This, he probably should have done first. After reviewing the permit application, the inspector informed George that all new temporary residence construction requires a sprinkler system. What? A sprinkler what? Really? This isn't the Best Western. Oh, that doesn't sound cheap!! And it's not!!! The estimated cost - $25,000 and likely to be much more because we would need a holding tank for the water since we are on a well. Just shoot me.

So now George can't continue working on the rooms until he gets a variance or a set of plans for the sprinkler system. Since we have to wait a month or so for the variance, George decides to also get the sprinkler plans. I immediately ran for my iPhone. George said, what are you doing? I said, "There's gotta be an app for that." But there wasn't. And plans aren't free! First estimate - $2500! Luckily, there's the internet. Chad, from Arizona, was willing to do it for $400.

Now think about these rooms - on the ground floor with an outside door on one side of the room and an escape window on the other side, no cooking capabilities, non-smoking, and the fire department is three buildings away from us. If there was a fire, the sprinkler system isn't what's going to save someone's life, walking the 10 ft. out the door is!

We've applied for a variance and are waiting to hear from the state to see what they decide. The local fire chief even wrote a letter stating that he thought the sprinkler system in these two rooms wasn't needed. So here we wait, with our fingers crossed, hoping, praying! For that letter that says we won the lottery. I mean, that our variance went through. And if it doesn't, maybe we will win the lottery. To help pay for this little tiny renovation that wasn't going to have any problems.

But, as the saying goes - What could possibly go wrong?

Open For Business

Last Thursday we opened up the inn for our 7th season. I can't believe we have had the inn for this many years. It seems like just yesterday. Normally we open May 1st, but we got a call from a very nice woman who was disappointed that we weren't open this weekend. George had answered the phone that day and being the accommodating person that he is, it didn't take much for him to be convinced to open up two weeks earlier so she and her boyfriend could stay with us. I thought he was crazy. Opening early for one room. Luckily that one room turned into several rooms and we had a very successful five days.

When we open for the season, there is always that "Where did we put that?" or "What did we use this for?" or "Did you remember to buy something?" It's like we've been away for years and forget all the things that we normally do. There are so many things to buy and I thought I had everything covered.

Since the first night open was a school night, I stayed at our home with Aidan and George stayed at the inn. That first night we only had one room, and that room checked in after 11 pm. George went to bed and left their key outside in an envelope for them. He woke up and found a note outside the door stating that they wanted gluten-free waffles for breakfast. As I was driving Aidan to school, George called me on my cell. "Where's the gluten-free mix?"  Just when I thought I had bought everything!! Usually people let us know that they are gluten free when they reserve their room, so we are always prepared. But this day, at 8:30 am (before the health food store opened), here we were, with no gluten-free waffle mix. Not knowing what else we could serve these guests, I panicked. I ran to the supermarket and found a very sad gluten-free section. Maybe they would like gluten-free cookies or pasta for breakfast. No that wouldn't do. As I was buying gluten-free flour (don't know what I was going to make with it), George called me on my cell. He said that the man that owns Cooperstown Health Foods was at the store and will open the door for me. I flew over there, got the waffle mix, ran to the inn, prepared the batter - all before their 9:30 breakfast time that they had requested. Whew! We did it.

Then at 9:45 the lobby phone rang. They wanted to know "if they could have room service. All they wanted that morning was coffee." What!? Really? But you asked for gluten-free waffles, and fruit salad, and eggs, and english muffins. "Do you know what we went through to get this stuff?? Do you know how pretty George set up breakfast for you??" Well we didn't actually say all that, but I think there was some disappointed tone in Georges voice that brought the boyfriend down to the lobby to eat the waffle. By himself. While his girlfriend slept in. Oh well.

The next four days passed without a hitch. Everything went smoothly. Tuesday morning as we were closing the inn as the last of the guests checked out, I was grateful for the slow start of the season. Mostly weekends until June. It gives us some time to get in the full swing of things. To be better prepared for all our guests. And to stock up on gluten-free waffle mix. It's gonna be a long season.  

You Can Take The Girl Out of Jersey, But.....

Cooperstown in the winter... Beautiful! A virtual winter wonderland. There are days when I walk around town in amazement at how peaceful it is here... Well, today wasn't one of those days!

It started like any other day. Errands to run, bills to pay. An 11 am appointment at an insurance office at the hospital. I arrived at the hospital parking lot at 10:45. It was overly crowded and hard to find a spot. I saw someone leaving and just stopped and waited. I put my blinker on and he got in his car. While I was waiting, a woman came into my aisle approaching from the opposite direction. She sees me, but stops. While the man pulls out of his parking spot, this woman immediately pulls in. WHAT THE  $#%&!!!! I beep my horn, she doesn't even turn around. I beep again, she turns off her car.

And then it happened. My inner Nicky Newarker came out (if you're from New Jersey, you know what this is. It's sort of when you mix the entire cast of MTV's Jersey Shore together). As if possessed by some crazed Snooki, I jumped out of my still running car and ran over to her car. Grabbing a hold of her door (and thinking, I hope it's unlocked because if it's not, my entire scare tactic isn't going to work) and yes, pulled that unlocked door wide open. Startled, she turned around to look at me. I yell, "Get out of my spot!!!" But I'm thinking to myself, Who am I??? What am I doing??? This is Cooperstown, no one acts like this here. I am still yelling, "How do you do that? Just take someone elses spot after they have been waiting like that." She replies, "From where I'm sitting, it looks like it's my spot." WHAT?! Omg! I'm, I'm gonna...... tell on her.

I then yell, "I'm getting the guard!" What am I thinking here? I could have yelled, "I'm telling my mother or I'm telling the teacher." It would have all sounded the same. Like I was 10. So here I go. I run to the guard's little cubicle and tell him someone took my spot. He looks at me like I am totally out of my mind. I run back and the woman is now walking away from her car. I start yelling with a smile, "Hey, the guard wants to see you!!!" She walks back as the middle aged "can't I just get back to my crossword puzzle" guard waddles over. He says, "What seems to be the problem here." I reply, "She took my spot and I was waiting for it for 10 minutes (ok maybe it was more like 3, but it seemed really long). She just pulled right in! Tell her to get out of it!" The guard looks at me and yawns, "I can't do that!"

Wait! What? You're the guard! You are supposed to combat evil spot stealers! This is when the bitch from hell looks at me and smiles, "Well, I've got to go now, have a good day." I reply in my best adolescent voice "No, YOU have a good day. What comes around, goes around!"

As I get back in the car, I realize I am shaking. Thank god another spot opened up 3/4 of a second later. Ok, it wasn't like I was never going to get another spot, but I did not want to be stepped on. My God, road rage is an ugly thing. Hopefully I will not run into her in the future. Maybe she was from out of town and not from this teeny tiny town where we run into everyone at the supermarket one time or another. It could get really ugly if she cuts me off at the deli counter.

This just goes to show, that even after six years in upstate NY, you really can't take the Jersey out of the girl.

PS: I'm not too sure you can take the Jersey out of the boy either. After the meeting, I called George from my cell phone and he said, "I can be over there in 10 minutes. I can slit her tires." WHAT? Who are we? I'm pretty sure George was kidding. I've never actually seen him slit anyone's tires. But you never know. This Jersey thing, it's hard to get rid of.