I would like to clarify something immediately: The Sou’wester has new owners so none of this story has anything to do with the way it is now!
After the snow, our jobs at the Sou’wester began to kick in full force, and I got my first taste of cleaning all 23 units (all but two with kitchens!) in one day on President’s Day Weekend. I went into a state of some shock over how hard this work was compared to what now seemed a very cushy life of housecleaning back in Seattle. Sometimes I would visualize walking up the stairs of one of my favourite old cleaning jobs, reading the always funny note left by Anne, the owner, making myself a nice cup of tea while I worked, reading the latest magazine on a lunch break, then doing another house and still getting home by late afternoon. Hauling the vac up 3 flights and then down again and across a block-long field to the furthest trailer would, I could tell, take a toll. There was no logical order to the day: The owners would request that a top floor unit be done, then the furthest trailer unit, then another top floor unit…But…I loved and treasured the Sou’wester so I soldiered on. Robert, meanwhile, would make me lunch, but was otherwise involved doing fix it jobs. He kept strictly to the number of hours required of him for our rental trade, but the owners did not like him to help me with the cleaning so my hours were rather longer.
I started adding my own influence to the rooms with dried flowers and vases that I had brought down from Seattle. As soon as flowers began to bloom in new garden and in the dunes, I put fresh flowers in the all the units every Thursday evening. I was in love with the place and wanted to do everything possible to make it even more wonderful.
The sunporch and living room of the lodge were also my responsiblity.
In late winter, a woman who sold cards came to visit and admired my photo album and suggested I sell cards to the guests. My old friend Bryan sent me some blank cards from Seattle and I started gluing photos onto them and they sold quite well at the front desk. By now, I had offered to do some office work, just for a change, and I enjoyed the tasks of innkeeping and taking reservations in the big ledger book.
We were invited to dinner with the owners once a week, and despite a few problems when I didn’t get the soaps or towels placed exactly right, and despite the moment of crisis when I finally had to say I was giving 100% and could not make things any more perfect, things were going okay…for me. For Robert, it was a job, not a love affair with a place, so he was have been as emotionally invested.
By late winter I had dug out gardens in front of the lodge, by cabin seven, along cabins 8 and 9 and all around cabin 10, as well as pocket gardens by three of the trailers. I was learning that when one is a motel/hotel cleaner, one is treated as much more of a nonentity than when one is a household’s beloved “cleaning lady”. For the sake of motel cleaners everywhere, I convinced the owners to let me write up a little bio of all of us…the owners included…to put in the cabins so all guests would realize that real people were doing the cleaning. I noticed a definite and positive change after that. We also all relished “cabin fare” when someone would leave behind a tasty item in the cupboard or refrigerator.
I spent many an hour by the laundry room window on the bottom floor of the old carriage house. Another part of my job that took loads of time was doing all the laundry: bedding, towels, place mats. None of it was sent out. I learned that I simply cannot fold sheets well (which I am sure my cleaning clients in Seattle already knew) and developed a rotation system of baskets so that I had to fold as few sheets as possible! I also put a trunk on the second floor of the lodge so I could store some towels there and not have to always be schlepping up and down the stairs if I needed a couple more. I often did laundry till eleven o’clock at night just to keep up. It sounds like something out of Dickens, I suppose.
I did think of just packing it in and going home, but in March our house had been broken into back in Seattle, resulting in Mary moving out. We had gone up with a U Haul and got the rest of our possessions, and our old friend from 1991 anti war protests, Matthew, and his girlfriend Paisley, had moved in with Wilum instead. I simply did not have the heart to change my mind and evict them, so I preservered in the new job even as it got busier and even though I, and especially Robert, thought the amount of work and the conditions (like a clothes dryer that gave me a shock every time I used it, until Robert absolutely insisted it get fixed) were kind of ridiculous. As the weather warmed, the RV park which was part of the grounds began to fill, and to our regular work was added cleaning the RV park bathrooms several times a day and once at about midnight.
By May, we had moved into the carriage house, where Robert had installed a rudimentary bathroom and a camp kitchen.