Andrew's Blog


A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
March 2011

This old house.

I’ve been thinking recently. A dangerous past time I know. Living in an old house brings certain responsibilities. One must respect the character of the house, while also making it comfortable and modern. I’m sure they’re having these same thoughts at Mount Vernon. Damn ADA compliance! George Washington would surely frown at all the wooden ramps detracting from his entryways. (Although it would be easier to bring the horses in.) I shudder to think what Thomas Jefferson would think about the alterations to his sweet Montecello.

But times change, and houses, like people, must adapt. To live as an originalist, after all, is to live in 1776. But character must also be respected. Elaine Stritch still wears her goofey hats sometimes, but they’re made by modern designers. And so, living in an old house is a responsibility. To uphold its rich history. While at the same time making it your own.

I was specifically thinking about this while looking at the new subway tile in the Orchard House bathrooms. Subway tile is so trendy. Perhaps too trendy. But it works in bathrooms…in fact, it’s sexy. And bathrooms are always evolving. Living spaces, though, including fireplaces and windows, should be altered with caution. What would the original builder of Orchard House, from 1850, think about the house today?  Me thinks he would be distracted by the electricity, plumbing, and televisions.  After all that, I think he’d be happy.  It’s pretty.  It’s new.  But it’s still old.

I wonder what this house looked like in 1850. What animals roamed the pastures? Chickens no doubt. Peacocks? Dubious. Indian Runner Ducks?  Me thinks not.  But turkeys probably walked the land.  Some form of sheep ate the grass.  And llamas were no doubt in Peru at the time. I hear that vultures return generation after generation to the fruited areas of their ancestors. Today, there were 20 eating deer in a field.  Could their great-great-great grandpas have seen Orchard House under construction?  No doubt, to their great disappointment, they were looking for the subway tile and access ramps.

 

 

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Table for 8 please.

Well, well, well, what is this a picture of? It’s gorgeous. Nay, stupendous!  It must be located somewhere very fancy. Like a Vanderbilt palace. Perhaps Anderson Cooper’s penthouse. But it isn’t. They wish they had something so nice. This tables actual location? The Orchard House dining room. Yes…sexy! Je sais.

The table’s top was made by a cabinet maker in Covington. It’s made with reclaimed barn wood from Sydney, Ohio. I don’t know where that is either, but it doesn’t diminish the impact. It’s thick, it’s glossy, and it’s covered in worm holes. Miss Coco Peru would be proud to speak of it in her monologue. Bob Villa would be happy to eat his mother’s cobbler in a vintage wedgwood plate on the intricate top. Blueberries never tasted so sweet.

 

This picture? A beautiful leg. There are four of them. These supports were turned from solid wood beams from a barn in Clifton, Ohio. Again, I have no clue where that is. But, again, it doesn’t diminish the impact. They are spectacular. And there is a surprise in the table. Farm implements are involved. You’ll need to visit Orchard House to see them in action.

And who, pray tell, made this beast? The top was a cabinet maker, as previously mentioned. The base? Don’s brother Dan. It’s family made. Leave the gun, take the cannolis. He spent countless hours crafting this beauty. He faced road blocks, concrete-like wood, and carbide tipped tool implements. But it all worked out well. It’s all worked out!

And now?  Now we eat food.  Like we always have.  But on a darn fancy table.  Come to Orchard House and have some wine with us at the table. Maybe Anderson Cooper will be here, with his husky dog eyes, sipping a barolo, and telling us stories of Egypt and the tables they have there. And how none compare to this piece of art.

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Ghosts. And other supernatural things.

Numerous people, including some current guests, have asked if Orchard House is haunted. Why not? Could be. But I haven’t seen anything. Except, of course, for that night when I awoke to see a man standing in my bedroom wearing a Boy Scout’s uniform. To be honest though, I did have two tumblers full of Scotch that night. But, it was real. He had a message for me. Maybe. Not sure.

We recently met a man that grew up in Orchard House. He was adamant the house contained no ghosts. Perhaps. But then again, this was a home for alcoholics.  Someone, somewhere, could still be searching for that hidden bottle of brandy.

Enter last night. Our guests, those who talked about ghosts earlier, asked if we had our lights on a timer. At 3:00 in the morning, all the lights in their room were off. Waking up this morning, a small light was on. We have no timers. And the light, a small sterling silver table lamp, has a turn on switch – a difficult one to turn. It wouldn’t have just “slipped.” And so, it is only logical to assume a ghost did it. I didn’t. They didn’t. And ghosts usually show themselves to those who believe.

What’s the next logical step? Ouija Board!! And another tumbler of Scotch. My parents currently live in Gettysburg – a ghost capital. Sure I’ve experienced some strange things there…and I used to give ghost tours of the town, but I’m still ghost skeptical. Until now. Think of what this ghost will do for business! A nice, sweet ghost! Maybe he can change the sheets. He can tell me what the outside walls look like under the stucco. Oh, he can be my secret spy. There are so many possibilities. (And he is a “he” cause that’s just how it’s gonna be!)

If you’re a medium, please come stay at Orchard House. If you’re not a medium, please come stay at Orchard House. We have a new experience for you. Farm Style – Modern Comfort, supernatural style.  In the end, who knows if we have ghosts or not. But it’s fun to think about things that may or may not be true. Like living in Kansas and thinking about evolution. Or like thinking about Aaron Schock and his decided bachelorhood. Truths in the end have a way of exposing themselves. Hopefully, it won’t be in the middle of the night. After a tumbler of Scotch. When Donnie is away. Jeez, I hate ghosts.

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Day One.

Did you see a little boy walking down your street ringing a bell this morning?  He wasn’t trying to bother you.  His message was simple.  ”Hear ye, hear ye, Orchard House Bed and Breakfast is open!  Rejoice!  Amen.”  It’s music to my ears.  Fancy pictures are soon to follow, but please enjoy my “beer goggles” den picture as a teaser.  That same little boy would be canvassing your neighborhood with flyers, but I have decided instead to feed him his gruel.

The house looks pretty good…if I do say so myself!  (Popped collar!)  Sure, there are touch-ups to do.  We’re also waiting for our sign/mail box to be completed.  We should have ordered sooner then the six weeks prior that we did!  But, Mr. Fodor and Ms. Frommer, bring it.  Cause it’s a-broughten!  We have wonderful guests, a terribly messy storage area, and snap dragons breathing balls of gorgeousness throughout the house.

In these times, times of great joy and tiredness, I like to think about what I’ve learned.  I’ve had a horse trailer flip off my truck.  I’ve replaced toilets.  I’m soon to birth a lamb.  In olden times, I would have screamed.  I would have cried.  I would have called for the cavalry.  Today, I actually do things.  I have taken the proverbial bull by the horns.  Truth be told, TMI, I have new chest hair.  (Now four in total.)  Sure, technical problems still arise, with that beotch DirecTV and the sake wanna-be Roku.  When in times of trouble, this Mother Mary beckons “Donnie” at the top of his lungs.  But in all other things, I hold my own.  I own it.  Like Richard Branson and commercial space flight.

So now, I call one, and…I call all, to the Orchard House.  We are friendly.  We are sweet.  And the Napoleon loves to get ear scratchies from his new best friends.  By the way, have Ben and Jerry’s sold out?  Colbert tells me no.  Jimmy Fallon tells me yes.  The boy eating his gruel just nods with glee.  ”What is Ben and Jerry’s, governah?  he asks with a smile.

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Wine. And other wonderful things.

I’m drinking some wine tonight.  That, in itself, doesn’t make this night different than any other.  But the DirectTV isn’t working, and I’m listening to Adele’s 21.  It’s gorgeous.  She’s gorgeous.  I’m also sipping some tea, the new “Orchard House” blend we had made especially for our guests.  It smells like an orchard.  And I’m feeling a little nostalgic.  If Addison DeWitt were here, he’d say I was “magnificent!”

We open our doors, our official doors, in 5 days.   It has been a journey.  Seven months of planning, preparation, and living for this one moment.  Living under difficult circumstances on occasion.  Our fabulous NYC friends don’t mind sharing 500 square feet – but add three dogs, two cats, and an Everest of cardboard boxes, and it gets old.  Real old, real fast!  But here we are.  We have survived.  And we open in 5 days.

Along the way, we have made wonderful new friends.  Our gorgeous neighbors have been invaluable to our sanity.  I have learned how to become somewhat handy – anything is possible with a hammer and bit of elbow grease.  We have also faced our obstacles.  It is expensive to renovate, and then buy furniture for, a 4000 square foot home.  We have daily heart-attacks.  Today it was the home owner’s insurance adjustment.  I may have to start selling blood.  If only the Red Cross accepted homosexual blood.  What a ridiculous policy!  But I faint near needles anyway.  And let’s stop DOMA first.

There is still tons to do.  But everything is coming together.  We got new hardwood floors for the den.  Then, we decided the wall color didn’t work with the new floors.  An unexpected delay, during a very valuable day, of painting ensued.  Donnie used a roller.  He did a good job.  Even if he does have soft, supple, white-collar hands.

We also have learned a lot about our community.  I feel like we need some children to really infiltrate.  I don’t know if you can rent those.  We may need to wait to adopt.  We’ve gotten involved in Granville.  Me with the local Chamber.  Donnie with the singing.  I met a woman the other day who, when I introduced myself, said, “So you’re the new boys in town.”  Sure, I guess I am.  But I think other “boys” have moved into the area since August.  Maybe even some men.  Or guys.  Fellows even!

I’ve become a farmer.  But really only in title.  I have llamas.  They’re easier to take care of then the rabbits.  I have sheep.  They eat more then the llamas but are pretty laid back.  We may be getting some more llamas.  Easy enough.  But some are pregnant.  And a birthing emergency?  That separates the Mammy from the Prissy.  I fear, for better or worse, I have some strong Prissy in me.  But I surprise myself sometimes.  Babies will be born.  And they will be alive!  (That’s a very Little House on the Prairie kind of statement – but true enough.)

And so my next three days are planned out.  Tuesday: shopping.  Wednesday: painting touch-up.  Thursday: food shopping, baking, and cleaning.  Friday: guests arrive.  Gulp!  But it will work out.  It always does.  There are millions of bed and breakfasts in existence.  And they survive.  There are even some in Granville.  With some interesting similarities to our very own Orchard House.  Weird?  Perhaps.  But then again, we all have beds and breakfasts.  And Indian Runner ducks.

We look forward to welcoming you to our neck of the woods.  Where the deer run free, the llamas spit at one another, and the ambience is Bunny Mellon, and genuinely welcoming.  (Farm Style – Modern Comfort.)  We even take requests for wine hour!  We love a special vintage.  And P.S., now that’s service!  Magnificent is right, Mr. DeWitt!  We are pretty darn great!  If I do type so myself!

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