When we got home from Nashville, we jumped nearly straight out of vacation gear and into manual labor mode. This had been the plan, but the work we ended up having in front of us was a bit more than we had bargained for. Before we left for Florida, we had been living in the apartment in the basement of our house for a year, but we decided that when we came back, we would move upstairs again into the main house. We can make more money renting the big house, but we wanted room for our own house guests, friends, and family, and we enjoy having the big kitchen up there so we can have people for meals. Also, Ron really missed being able to sit outside on the back patio and look at the garden. (Me, too.)
The apartment downstairs was the job in front of us. We planned to turn it into our next AirBnB project. The extra work came because over the summer, a torrential rain had flooded the entryway of the basement apartment, the laundry room, and the front of the living room where floor to ceiling bookshelves line the wall. My middle daughter was living down there at the time, and she did her best with towels, fans, and a carpet shampooer, but the water got soaked up into the bottom shelves of the bookshelf and warped all the wood and sopped the drywall. So, Ron had to cut the bottom stuff out and replace it. And, we didn’t really have a chance to get started on this until a few days after we were back in the state. The guests renting the house asked to stay longer, and then, Ron’s older sister got married again and wanted him to perform the ceremony. We headed up to the mountains for a beautiful backyard wedding in Como with family we don’t see very often. So, that was a sweet time.
The next day, we finally got to work moving things upstairs, cleaning the apartment, and demolishing shelves and drywall. Then, Ron installed new shelves, drywalled and replaced trim, taped, mudded and textured. I was busy rearranging all the things we moved upstairs and all the rest that we kept downstairs, then organizing, shampooing carpets, painting, laundering, more cleaning, and then stocking this new AirBnB with blankets, dishes, towels, and everything else guests might think they need. I felt so grateful that I was able to shop at my own house (having been an AirBnB for a year) for most everything we needed in terms of furnishings.
All this work meant we had to take a few loads of construction scrap to the dump. But we also had to take several loads of yard waste. This was part of the extra work as well. The summer lawnmowing company was supposed to weed the yard, but they did not. So, waiting for drywall mud and paint to dry, Ron set in to uncover the front landscaping from bindweed. He hacked down giant stalks of sunflowers that had faded. And he filled the truck several times with volunteer saplings from all over the yard. Our house is on a double lot, so the landscaping is twice as much work as the housekeeping. When we’re home and can keep up with things it doesn’t feel so overwhelming, but we had returned to something of a jungle.
Finally, we finished everything, and welcomed new guests to the refreshed space downstairs.
I’m always nervous about the first few guests and what ratings and comments they will leave. But I need not have worried. Everyone who stayed those first few weeks loved the place. So that was a relief. And now we are off and running with two small AirBnB spaces and living back up in the house. We haven’t yet been lingering on the patio in the evenings like we used to because the mosquitoes have been bad—we think because of all the overgrown weeds in the gardens.
But it is good to sit out there in the mornings and to be able to have space for guests. I like having my writing space back as well, in the office upstairs. Though the last few weeks I’ve found myself sitting in cabins in forests, typing out these blogs and working on some fiction projects. (Stay tuned for adventure stories from these places!)
We will likely finish reclaiming the rest of the back gardens later this month and into October. And the good news about all the early summer rains was that we will have a bumper crop of apples to pick in the next couple weeks. I don’t know what variety they are, but they have a nice blend of tartness and sweet and make great pies.
After picking, I peel them with my mechanical crank peeler. I slice them with a slicer, then sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar and freeze them in plastic baggies that hold just the right amount for a pie. We’ll have enough for pies all fall and winter. Yum!