when old becomes new.

July 20, 2010

Second chances are a rather phenomenal thing.  Don’t you think? They offer a sign of forgiveness, opportunity, excitement, restoration.

I love this idea of a second chance applied to buildings of note (or buildings not of note that are made noteworthy.)  I have the idea my bed and breakfast will be a rebirth of sorts. I hope it comes true.

Until that happens, maybe you’ll find some inerest in these:

1. Town Hall Hotel   (As you may have guessed, once a town hall in the height of the 1900s, now an incredibly beautiful London hotel.)

town-hall-beth1.jpg

2.  Apartment Therapy showcasing a renovated barn.

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So I’m realizing hospitality goes hand in hand with partnership.  I think this has been a long coming realization to me, but the ah-ha moment only clicked in my brain recently.  (I love it when that happens.) 

The idea is this:  in order to create a hospitable environment one has to be open-minded and accepting of, well, almost anything.  Of course, there are parameters.  You don’t have to create a hospitable environment to, say, an axe murderer.  But well, likewise, you don’t always have to offer cookies and milk and be sitting at the kitchen table.  Hospitality involves a partnership.  It’s a partnership between the parties involved.  One wants to be hospitable, but someone has to accept your hospitality.  It’s a simple thought process really, but I think it’s hard to execute for some.

And harder still for others.  I’ve also recently discovered that I am a bit more particular then I’d like to admit.  (Let’s just say I recently changed living situations.  The new roomie is definitely teaching me a thing or two about being hospitable.) 

Being open-minded and truly accepting of what life has to offer makes living more fulfilling.  And it gets us closer, in my opinion, to discovering more about who we are and what we have to offer. 

So go ahead!  Share a conversation on the side of the road with a stranger.  (If she’s willing.)  Or say yes to a spontaneous picnic on a park bench with your dear friend.  I don’t care.  Just don’t go sit at the kitchen table with milk and cookies and expect me to show up.

I learned something the other day.  Hospitality is a lot bigger than I think it is.  In all honesty, I’m not sure how to define it in the first place.  I tried in an earlier post.

I know a thing or two about it:  how it makes me feel, and how I think it’s supposed to make others feel.  But a definition seems limiting, as does my perception.

What’s my point?  Hospitality comes in all different shapes and sizes.  And I like it that way.

Last week I met a man who talked passionately about many different things.  He has a lot of projects.  We met with a mutual friend for breakfast at 7 a.m. on a Friday morning.  Needless to say, I am not easily stimulated at 7 a.m. in the morning.

However, I left breakfast feeling invigorated and fresh.  Having listened to this man’s stories, I was overpowered with an urge to start several myself.  Or at least to become a part of one of his.  I think this feeling, the feeling of drawing someone in and allowing him to experience the story as if he is a part of it, is hospitality.  It’s seizing an opportunity to share life in a way that invites people to join you.

So, what’s the project?  CHEESE.  An invitation to get to know the Robie’s, their dairy farm, and their way of life.   To help them figure out how to make the only way life they know sustainable.

Where to start?  With you!  Buy their cheese.  (Available in Boston at South End Formaggio.)

So, if you haven’t heard the news, I’m engaged!
And I’m overwhelmed and excited. (Yes, already).
But I’m mostly happy, the kind of happy that warms your heart from the inside.

I started following a handful of new wedding blogs. (I can follow more now that I have a reason to do so.) This excerpt is from A Love Letter to Summer Brides post on Broke-Ass Brides.

It’s a great excerpt. It’s not just about a wedding. It’s about completing a long-term goal with your partner, about what you may learn along the way and what you may feel. I hope I experience these emotions as my wedding day approaches, but also as day 1 of the B & B approaches too.

Read on:

“…Whichever you choose, either the “Whew!” or the “Awww… or somewhere in between (or both) you have to admit that it’s been quite an experience, hasn’t it? You’ve learned a lot. You’ve not only figured out all this wedding stuff works, but you’ve also found out more about yourself, what you want, and even more importantly, since you’re going to be hanging out with this guy for the rest of your life, how the two of you work together as a team.

What else have you learned? You’ve certainly had many chances to practice and improve your “people” skills, not to mention managing your time. You’ve learned how to negotiate, how to compromise, and how to – and how not to – stick to a budget. At this point, you can rapidly calculate 5 – 18% of anything. At the beginning of this whole thing, you were wondering where to start and how to start, and GAH, frustration! But look at you now – you found your venue, you found your dress, you found your photographer and got through your engagement shoot, you found everything else you needed and wanted. And you learned that all it takes to get that is perseverance and patience, and raising your hand and asking questions that you don’t know the answers to. And you got from there to here more or less in one piece, just like I knew you would. You are a frickin’ Rock Star, and you can do anything. Remember that. …”

Maybe someone can remind me of these words when I start to feel like nothing’s going right?

I am introducing a new series of posts entitled, a day in the life of…
These posts will be stories I have gathered from whomever about working in the hospitality industry.

This post is from a small hotel/inn manager.

This day started off very much on the quiet side.
Knowing there was a full house of guests ready to descend at any moment, it was the kind of quiet that makes you just a bit nervous.
But regardless, I savored my slow morning with a nice, warm latte and waited for the rush to begin.
And when it began, it came full force!

The first phone call was a guest… “I can’t get the wireless to work. What do I do?”
“No problem. Try this, this or that.” I say brightly.
“Ok. Thanks.” Click.

My next phone call is also from a guest.
“Um. There is water streaming down from the light fixture in my bathroom.”
“Oh…hello. How lovely. What room are you in?”
“Ah…I don’t know. 105…no, the one with the apples i think. Um…”
“Ok. No problem. Welcome, by the way. This sounds like it may be your first morning with us…
I’ll be right up.”
I heard the water streaming down from his bathroom before I even knocked on the door…
As I head up, I manage to call the room above.
“Um. good morning. This is the manager. Might your toilet be overflowing?”
The receiver says, “Why yes, actually it is. But my partner is taking a shower, and I thought we’d wait and call you when he was done.”

“Oh. I can see how you would want him to finish taking his shower, but there’s water streaming down the ceiling of the room below you. So I’m going to go ahead and come on up now.”
“Right, well, I’ll just tell my partner to get out of the shower.”
“Great. Thank you.”

Sure enough the toilet was passionately overflowing. I unclogged the toilet and turned off the water. (Why it is that the Brits never think to plunge?!) Then began the running up and down the stairs with heaps of old towels mopping up the water so no more would fall through to the room below. (All this on just half a latte.)

One man wraps in a towel. The other man thinks it just dandy to stroll around in boxers. Going back to the other room, towel man decides to start dressing as well. And yet, somehow this all seems natural.
Crisis is averted. Guests seem pleased.

All said and done, I called the owner. No answer.
I text the owner. No answer.
I email… I get an answer!
“Thanks for the toilet notice.”

After the toilet incident, everyone (all remaining guests) decide to come down to breakfast at once.
Go figure.
What a morning! Can I go home now?
Or at least give me a moment to finish my latte.

day by day

May 18, 2010

In my new place of employment I can count on one hand the phrases I will most certainly hear each week:

1. Any plans for the weekend?
2. How was your weekend?
3. I can’t wait for Friday.
4. Thank God it’s Friday.
5. I can’t believe it’s only x. (x = Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)

Now, I really like where I work. I’m very happy for my job, and I intend to stay that way for some time. And so, my question is, why can’t we enjoy our entire week? Every week. (Note: I did not say everyday.)

Routine is a part of life. It happens. We can not live chaotic, shifting lives 24/7. We’d die by the time we were 25. (Although arguably we don’t even start to appreciate routine till around then.)

I know in the hospitality industry you are at the whim of the consumer, customer, guest. I may very well want to take a nap at 2:00, but there’s a check-in, and it’s 1:30. And I need to go and buy bananas now or I won’t have them tomorrow for breakfast. So off I go, and guess what? The check-in doesn’t come until 4:00. (Jerks.)

It’s a hard skill, to relax while in the midst of anxiety. I think I am beginning to see what a life like this looks like though. (Others may disagree.)

But, my point — enough already with the just trying to get through the day.
Let’s celebrate each day.

I know it’s an odd thought, but each day has something to offer. I’m sure of it. Today I received an unexpected mini cinnamon bun (thanks Martin) and a free lunch. Not bad. Tomorrow I’ll meet with friends for dinner. I’ve been meeting with them for dinner on Tuesdays for the last four years.
(I really like Tuesdays.)

Think of all the missed opportunities if you only live for the weekend. Assuming you have a 9 – 5 job, and spend your Monday — Thursday waiting for Friday, that’s 30 hours* of wasted time thinking about what you’re not doing instead of concentrating on what’s around you that you could be doing.

I know for many facebook provides great opportunities for us to enjoy each moment. If you’re looking for a couple other bits to sprinkle throughout the day, perhaps you may like:

THXTHXTHX (a thank you letter, post-it style, for everyday.)
Cool Huntings (They post multiple times a day. I am always inspired by something when I check this blog.)
Lovely Morning (Just one that I enjoy. And it usually has pretty pictures.)

*Assumes the hours of 5 – 11, Monday – Thursday. A bit of an exaggeration I know, but it helps emphasize my point.

It’s time to talk about Seattle part II — the food.

How ’bout this to greet you in the morning?
lola
Bam! You just say, “Calories don’t count today. Calories don’t count today. Calories don’t count today.” Repeat ten times and then run (don’t walk) to enjoy the above here. It’s a Tom Douglas restaurant. And apparently he’s a big deal in Seattle.
We don’t really care either way. The food speaks for itself.

But don’t you worry, we didn’t stop there.
odd fellows
Even more meat and good bar tender conversation enjoyed at this Capital Hill jaunt.

And yes, there’s more.
We were tempted by the line from the previous day at this Russian bakery.
Pirosky
Another breakfast enjoyed by Elliot Bay.

We also had a fabulous dinner here.
I highly recommend the octopus salad.

And drinks here. Twice.
It’s not the most sophisicated of places. But they sure do serve up a mean sazerac.

Food is why we travel. Well, one of the most important reasons why we travel.
And Seattle has a lot to offer. Yum. Yum. Yum.

The best part about all of this — Seattle is one hill after another.
So as long as you walk from place to place, there’s no guilt involved.
Perfect.