attack_laurel (attack_laurel) wrote,
attack_laurel
attack_laurel

Hospitality

I dreamt last night that the Jacket Tour (.pdf) participants were all staying at my mother's house, and I was completely freaked out first because my sister had not cleaned the litterboxes (FYI:  My mother does not have a cat) and there was litter tracked everywhere, and then, because one of the people on the tour had brought her young child, and the child had emptied all the litterboxes into my mother's indoor pool (FYI:  My mother does not have an indoor pool, nor an outdoor one, for that matter) where everyone was swimming.

Silly anxiety dreams aside, I really worry about things not being right or comfortable for my guests when they stay at the farm (or when they used to stay at the apartment, but it's so full of stuff now there's not room for a litterbox, let alone guests).  Harv and Vic came over for a couple of days last weekend, and Vic and I got to talking about what it's like staying at someone's house sometimes.  It can really run the gamut from desperately uncomfortable (no snacks/food you can eat, nowhere comfortable to sit, generally weird - though this is uncommon) to so comfortable you never want to leave (my personal aspiration), and I try very, very hard to keep the guest experience at my house on the positive end of the spectrum, sometimes to the point of being oversolicitous.

I know it's quite a silly thing, but I was heavily influenced by a small bit in Heinlein's novel I Will Fear No Evil (we'll leave aside the problematic elements in Heinlein's work for the moment; we're talking about hospitality) where the main character says that they always keep the guest bathrooms stocked with anything guests might need.  This seemed like an awesome idea to me at the time (I was eight), and still does, though sometimes the logistics are interesting with a house that we only visit twice a month or so (expired Rolaids, last time - did you know they go bad?  I certainly didn't).  I was also influenced by my paternal Grandmother, who had the most delightful guest rooms - comfortable beds, beautiful views, and a tin of biscuits (cookies) by the bed in case you got peckish during the night. 

(The giant black hairy spiders that got in were not her fault - they're a feature of country cottages in England, especially ones where roses grow up the house.  I had to go hunting with my hairbrush every night to kill the inevitable spider lurking somewhere, because the idea of a 3" black eight-legged creature cruising the room while I was asleep was way too much for me to take.)

One of my guest rooms is really small - the fault of the builders, who made the foundation on that side several inches too short, which resulted in a loss of several square feet in that room.  But, to compensate for that, I have 600 thread count sheets on the bed, and very soft, fluffy towels.  I plan someday to put in a memory foam mattress topper as well, for super-luxurious sleeping.  It is a small room for adults, but it's great for younger children, who need a quiet place to sleep.

The other guest room also has the nice sheets and fluffy towels, but also is big enough to move around in.  Someday it's going to be the SCA room/office, but for now, it's a guest room.  The guest bathroom is also small (thanks, builders!), but I try to keep it fully stocked with anything my guests might need, from ibuprofen to feminine products, to travel size shampoos and stuff.  It's always awkward to forget your own stuff, so I try to make it as complete as possible, down to extra toothbrushes just in case.

This litany of stuff is not to show off, but to illustrate how paranoid I am about my guests' comfort.  I keep all sorts of snacks and nice nibbles on hand, too - nothing is worse than having nothing good to eat in the house, as far as I'm concerned, and "good to eat" can run from fresh fruit and dippable veggies to oreo cookies and cupcakes, so I keep all sorts of things on hand.  The thing with being way out in the country is that there's nothing to do but enjoy the land, so making people comfortable is part of a successful visit.

After all, I want people to come back and visit again!  I love having guests.  When I was a child, we used to spend two-three weeks in the summer at my father's house in Bamburgh, Northumberland (it's now my brother's house), and part of the fun was inviting several friends to stay with us - there were multiple guest rooms, so we could fit a bunch of people in, and I loved big parties of people - we played cards, went swimming, put on "shows" (audience:  Long-suffering adults), and did all sorts of fun things, but it was always more fun with a bunch of kids (at least, it was for the kids). 

I'm also looking forward to spending a couple of days at my mother's house at the end of the Jacket Tour with pinkleader  - it's not only nice seeing family, it's great fun to have someone with me to tour London. 

People who don't know me well find me intimidating, but really, it's just awkwardness on my part; I love company, but I'm very self-conscious around people I don't know well because I'm worried I'm being boring and not a fun companion.  While I need my down time, I really, really love being with people, especially having guests at the farm.  It's just so nice chatting and sharing, and having fun (not to mention that Harv and Vic and all my lovely friends have also helped us out immensely with the house).  When I'm with a bunch of friends, I really feel happy.

So, I need to make my house as comfortable as possible, right?

My apprentice, lisettelaroux , is taking this concept to events, and she's loving it, even though it's a lot of work.  She puts on a gorgeous dayboard, provides chairs, a pavilion, and all sorts of creature comforts at events, and she's fabulous at it.  I'm so proud of her (and delighted to have a nice place to hang out), and she is versed enough to be able to handle moochers with aplomb (or to call me in if she needs backup), so that no-one takes undue advantage of her hospitality. 

Sure, taking care of guests is work, but the payoff is so worth all the effort - ten times, a hundred times worth it.  And having a place where people want to be, whether at the farm, or at an event is wonderful. 
Tags: blah blah blah, deep thoughts, farm, good times, happiness, sca
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