Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What I did last summer…

Monday, October 15th, 2012

I took two wonderful trips abroad – in June I toured Ireland and Scotland with friends, and in July I took my 13-year-old grandson to Costa Rica.

I had always wanted to go to Ireland, and when new friends from Australia – who stayed in the cottage last year – invited me to meet them in Dublin and drive around the countryside, I couldn’t wait!  Except for the damp and cloudy weather, Ireland and Scotland both exceeded my expectations. The mysterious castles, the green countryside, the vast open spaces outside the cities, the dramatic cliffs and ocean views, the darling villages, the proud history and friendly people, the spontaneous joyful trad music in the pubs.  We stayed in B&Bs, always finding something delightful as the daylight waned, and then dashing out for a brilliant dinner or an evening of trad and fish & chips.  Yes, contrary to the bad rap re: UK dining, the food was delicious!

My next post will be about Costa Rica.  If anyone has any questions like “Where was that photo taken?” or “Where did you stay on the Isle of Skye?” – pls email me – annie@soundviewcottage.com

No SADS at Soundview!

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Keeping the cottage busy in the summertime is always easy.  This last summer especially, parched Americans from everywhere else in the country were flocking to the cool, comfortable Northwest, and Soundview was booked almost every night.  But in the autumn the snowbirds fly south and it’s harder to make a living.  But the more interesting guests start coming now.  It takes grit to sit in a hot tub when your head is sticking up into 35-degree night air.   It takes vision to enjoy the view of the Sound when it’s raining, and insight to imagine the Olympic Mountains looming on the northern horizon when the clouds come.

So this time of year I lower the rates – 20% off, even on the weekends and holidays, from November 1 through May 15.  And I keep the hot tub going.   I tried this for the first time last year, and the results were significant.  Everybody won!  The cottage was busier than it had ever been during that period, and so was I – and I enjoyed it.

Fall and winter months are perfect times for persona

l retreats, romantic hideaways, and business trips.  Concerts, plays, ballet, and opera are 15 minutes away in downtown Seattle, and the sports stadiums (stadia?) are even closer.  Yet Soundview as always is peaceful and serene.  Come enjoy some down time here.

My Darling Little i-Car!

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

I love my new little Mitusbishi i-Car!  I’ve had it since Feb. 22, and it did take a little getting used to, because it will only go about 72 miles on a full charge.  It’s all-electric!   I got it to save money on gasoline, to reduce my carbon footprint, and to advertise the cottage with the graphics on the sides.

I kept my old faithful ’96 Subaru wagon for longer trips and for hauling the occasional sheet of plywood or lots of plants – although I did recently bring home 3 giant fuchsias for the cottage in my new little i-Car.

I couldn’t get the graphics right away – I was picky about the design, and my good friend graphic artist Lari (Power Graphics SD) was very patient with me through about 17 takes on the design.  Then the application was a little problematic – had to be redone cuz of a technical glitch.  But now it’s finished!  And I absolutely love the graphics and the car.

These photos show how the graphics were applied.  These cool young guys came out to my place and put the printed film on right on the spot in just about an hour!

The car is  really pretty zippy.  The brakes and steering are marvelous, and I can turn on a dime and tuck it into a very short parking space!  Best of all, the electricity it takes to charge it doesn’t cost me much at all.  I had a “Level 2″ charger installed in my garage – it takes about 7 hrs from no-charge to full-charge.  My last electric bill was hardly increased from the same 2 months last year, and the rates have gone up, AND I also have a new electric heat pump (installed last July) for my own house – to replace my oil furnace.

This Mitsubishi is cheaper than the other all-electric on the road, the Nissan Leaf.  After I get my tax credit for 2012 (fingers crossed), the price tag, with graphics and leather seats, will be about $25,000. (plus the charger)  In Washington State, they don’t charge sales tax on electric cars.

For my local errands, which is most of my driving, this little car is perfect!

 

New all-electric car!

Friday, March 9th, 2012

My new Mitsubishi i-Car is so cute!  It handles beautifully and has lots of pep, even on the freeway!  It’s all-electric. No gas, no pollution.  It won’t go very far (about 60 mile range), so I’m keeping my faithful Subaru wagon.  Within a couple of weeks, it will sport this graphic to advertise the cottage.  More photos soon!  I can’t wait.  (there’s no orange stripe between the doors – that was just to see where the break would come in the design process.)  My old friend Lari Power did the beautiful graphic.

Yoga Classes – another local gift

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

My yoga teacher, Janet Crawley, is offering Soundview Cottage guests a free introductory class. It’s only 5 minutes away, in a pleasant classroom, and Janet is a caring, careful leader.  The one hour+ sessions help me keep my flexibility, balance, and strength. They’re very relaxing, too, and we girls usually enjoy a latte and chat at Starbuck’s afterwards.

Janet always has extra yoga mats. That’s me on the purple mat.


The classes are at 8:30 Monday and Wednesday mornings, in Normandy Park, just down the hill.  Janet’s own websites:  for yoga go to www.JanetCrawley.com and for her ceramic art go to www.ClayQueen.com.

Moshier Community Art Center – a local treasure!

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

People come here from miles around Puget Sound to throw pots, glaze and fire them.  The facility and the artists at Moshier are the best – and it’s only 5 minutes from Burien, where I live and where Soundview cottage is!

I’ve taken classes for years here, made dozens of bowls and mugs, gotten dirty, laughed and sighed and groaned at the clay, and marveled at the way the glazes come out of the kiln.

Here are some photos of the teachers (who are also friends) with their work at a recent show/sale, and of me at the wheel.

Family Visit

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Just home from Montana, visiting my older daughter and her family.  The kids are back in school, so Julie and I did 3 tough workout classes at the gym and some shopping.  And on Sunday, my son-in-law drove the family up to Glacier Park, a real treat for me.  The day was glorious and we all had fun hiking up Avalanche Creek.

Jerry negotiated the rest of the Going-to-the-Sun road, but the parking lot at the top was jammed, so we turned around and came back home, stopping at Lake McDonald for lunch and skipping stones on the smooth blue water.

Some readers may be wondering how I can run a B&B and travel so much.  Two things:  I never cook breakfast for anyone, anyway – cottage guests are on their own with the generous assortment of breakfast foods I provide for them in the kitchen….AND…I arrange for a friend to stay here in my house while I’m gone to answer questions and provide for any needs that may come up.

Soundview guests are different – they don’t want their hand held by a too-friendly hostess.  They cherish their privacy (as do I), and they don’t want to have to get dressed and show up by a certain time and make small talk with strangers over an elaborate breakfast.  It works for everyone this way.  And it gives me the freedom to travel, which I love!

On the other hand, I don’t want to give the impression I’m stand-offish.  Some of my guests feel like family, and they keep coming back.  We’ve gotten to know each other over the years, and what a joy it’s been to provide the setting for rendezvous, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, new grandchildren, graduations, and other big events!

Humbled and Amazed

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Each September I go to the website for World Water Monitoring Day and marvel at how this event has grown. It began nationwide in 2002, as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of America’s Clean Water Act, and today it involves 120,000 people in 81 countries!

I take credit.

For 14 years I enjoyed my job as an environmental educator in the Water Quality program of the Washington State Dept of Ecology. In later years I concentrated on encouraging volunteer monitoring by citizen groups and classrooms, as a means of instilling a feeling of ownership and stewardship for local waterbodies.

In 2001, a federal environmental agency requested ideas for an inspiring event to celebrate the Clean Water Act – and from my little desk in Olympia, I suggested taking a national snapshot of water quality around the country, by sending volunteers out to monitor their streams, rivers, and lakes, and collecting their data. My concept was that anyone could test the water – consistency of method would be good, but scientific expertise was beside the point. The idea was for many, many people to produce many data-points – and then, hopefully, do it again the next year. The goal was awareness, not valid data.

I retired after the first National Water Monitoring Day in 2002 – I had moved to Seattle and the commute was long and my new boss was difficult. But without me, the concept took off. And now look. Volunteers from all over the world have reported data for 8 years. It’s archived and publicly accessible in a central repository. I’m so proud of my legacy. Go look. It’s amazing.
Annie

Musings from the Innkeeper

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Matthew's Sunset from the deck of the cottage | Soundview Cottage

Summer has arrived in all its NW splendor.  Clear dawns, lots of eagle activity, incredible sunsets.  It’s hot during the day (96 yesterday in town!) and dark at 9 pm.  The cottage is booked solid until August 29, and much of September, too.

Fortunately, it’s cooler here by the water, and the cottage has air-conditioning and new insulating window shades.  Many guests just STAY here, enjoying the chance to “get away from it all.”

You can send out for elegant dinners from a local caterer who delivers, or order from To Go Services, which offers a tremendous variety of take-out from different restaurants.  And there are lots of grocery stores nearby – and there’s always Pike Place Market for the best fresh fish and produce to bring home and cook in the little kitchen for dinner!

I wanted to share a few interesting innkeeper stories.  A couple of weeks ago, a young couple arrived on foot with backpacks, and last week another couple arrived on bicycles.  Most of my guests come from the airport in a rented car.  But recently I’m getting more local folks who just want a relaxing break in a more peaceful setting.

The backpackers are college students from Arizona who never rent cars when they travel – “So much better for us and for the environment,” they say.  They had flown to Seattle and taken 2 different Metro buses to get as close as possible, completing the last mile on foot.  When they got hungry, they walked to nearby restaurants or grocery stores.  The bikers, who live in a different part of Seattle and don’t own a car, brought their own supplies in panniers.

I had two really interesting  guests on Saturday night who had driven over from Eastern Washington for a Mariners game.  He’s a geneticist from a 7,000-cow dairy farm in Prosser – decides which cows to inseminate with which bulls.  And she does ultrasounds on pregnant girls and women.  She’s done it for 15 years, and she told me a little about some really dramatic scenes that can happen in her work.
And my current guest, from California, is recovering from the Ironman he competed in yesterday in Everett (in the heat!).

And about once a year I get a visit from a US diplomat to Moldova, usually with his wife, here for a couple of weeks to see family, doctors, dentist, etc.  These folks, originally from Seattle but just now winding up his long career abroad in the diplomatic service, are modest, sophisticated, REALLY well-educated, fun to talk with, and very sweet.

I love being an innkeeper and getting to know such a variety of people, on a short-term basis and sometimes repeating.  Matthew, who shot the sunset photo above, has been here many times on business.  He usually comes by himself to install communication systems in private luxury yachts, but once he came out just to relax, bringing his lovely wife.

Recently, guests have given me a bottle of delightful dessert wine, and (different people) 2 lbs of yummy, very special Portuguese sausage (FedEx’d from the east coast in dry ice).  (as if they hadn’t already paid me!)

I love my job!

Adventure in Peru

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Nonnie Trip #2 took grandson Alex and me to Peru.  (#1 was last November when I took his cousin Quinn to Egypt.)  I have 3 grandchildren to go.  A Nonnie Trip (Nonnie is the family name for me, a grandmother) must be

1.  to another continent where they don’t speak English  2.  hopefully, to a developing or third-world country and  3.  a mind-blowing adventure.

The two-week trip started in 11,000-ft-high Cusco,

went even higher to Chinchero, came back down (believe it or not) to the ever-thrilling Machu Picchu, and ended  in the Amazon headwaters in a REAL jungle.   I can heartily recommend this small, casual-style tour conducted by a most unusual eco-volun-tour outfit called Crooked Trails.  They came to our rescue in 2 emergencies, in most compassionate, professional ways.

The highlight of the trip for me – because I’d been to Machu Picchu before – was the Posada Amazonas lodge in the jungle.  Hard to describe the hardcore eco-ethics-cum-luxury style of this remote hotel.  No walls on the rooms – all part of the jungle.  (of course, there are mosquito nets for the beds.)  The food was generous, varied, healthy and delicious; the staff fun and knowledgeable; the setting other-worldly.  And our exit was yet another adventure!