Monday, November 2, 2020


 I happen to be lucky enough to be married to a very smart (and good looking) woman.  The only time I've ever doubted that was when she answered "Yes" to a question I asked her about 38 years ago.  Not that I wasn't ecstatic about that answer, mind you.  But the ensuing years have proven again and again that she's way smarter than I.

I know what you're thinking Beans!  Knock it off!

One of her best "suggestions" was to build two cabins on the property.  In the time leading up to the "suggestion", we'd had a lot of changes in our lives.  Both Kids had graduated college and started careers and found their own spouses.  In addition, my sister had had the building she owned for a sewing shop and lived upstairs in condemned to allow for a road widening or some such need as determined by a public servant.  It bankrupted her.  She moved here and rented an apartment in town, but "the Burg" is expensive even with efficiency apartments.  

So, we're discussing options.  Our old house wasn't going to work for her living with us for many reasons.  Mrs J suggested building the two cabins and had gone to a local builder that only built small cabins.  Turns out the price was pretty reasonable.  Her battle plan was to rent one to my sister and apply the rent to the mortgage taking a loss on our taxes while using the other as a Guest House and advertising it on AirBnB and VRBO. Since both she and I were still working, I asked about the procedures for "turning" the Guest House.  She said she'd looked into using Vacasa, a rental property management company.  For a fee, they'd take care of all the details.  

The Guest House on the left, Sister's cabin in the middle, Old house on right


The beauty of the plan is that when the kids or friends come to visit, we block the property for that time and unblock it otherwise.  We wouldn't have to worry about much else and we'd make a little money out of the deal.

That was the theory anyway.  Turns out that the property management company always seemed to find some other expense they needed to charge us for.  Well...No surprise there.  They're in it to make money.

After a while, we fired them and hired a housekeeper on an as needed basis.  That worked (sort of) for about a year, but Mrs J's vision of what the house should look like when the guests open the front door and what the housekeeper's version was ....

By this time, both Mrs J and I have retired (I'm not sure what that word really means), so we took up the management of the guest house.  After much trial and error, I can now make a bed with hospital corners with the best of them.  Ok, maybe not Mrs J's level, but mere mortal level.

So, as I mentioned in last week's post, we took a couple of days off and rented a B&B.  It was nice, but we noticed "things" that weren't quite right, not bad, just not something we would allow.  

Picky...yeah I know.


We also notice "things" about guests.  We try to meet them early on in their stay.  Check to make sure everything is as expected, if they need any help with any of the houses appliances, network etc.  Do they want firewood to have a fire in the fire pit (or to inform them of a County Wide Burn Ban prohibiting one).  Check what their plan for the stay is, offer suggestions on where to eat, what to see etc.  In short, help them have an enjoyable stay without getting in their way.  This usually takes about 5 minutes.  But it also gives us an chance to get a feel for the kind of guests they're likely to be.

Like one of our very first guests, before we had hired the management company.  It was spring time and bicycling in the Hill Country is a very big thing.  This group of guys, had reserved the Guest House saying there would be 6 of them.  The Guest House is about 600 square feet with two bedrooms.  It does have a fold out sofa, so it, technically, sleeps 6.  But we envisioned it to be a gap filler rather than an ongoing event.  So, the gang shows up, late on Friday evening.  Next morning, I'm out feeding the horses when they leave for the ride.  I count 7 bikes.  Hmmm.

We ask them about it when they return (there is a small surcharge per person above 2 if the people are older than 10, these guys didn't qualify).  Basically, they said the last guy was sleeping on the porch in a hammock.  Oh!  (I looked, yes, they'd screwed hooks into the columns supporting the porch roof).  

Cleaning that Sunday after they left was horrible.  The sheets were filthy. It was a mess.  The following spring, they had the audacity to call and ask if the Guest House was available.  Strangely, it was not.

Another set of guests reserved the house for a weekend.  A young couple, very much in love.  But just a two ship.  Now, we prep both bedrooms as it's not our business where they sleep.  So, it's Sunday and we're starting the cleaning process.  I poke my head in the smaller bedroom and notice the bed is made and the door is closed, just like we'd left it. (When it's a two some, we usually close the door to the smaller bedroom to point them to the larger bedroom with the king sized bed).  

But, some kind of alarm went off in my head, and I decided to strip the bed.  A pair of ladies underwear was found.  I guess they'd decided one bedroom was for sleeping, the other was for fun.

Which brings up a small favor to ask.  Folks, I know that some of you, can NOT leave a bed unmade.  But, please, just neatly arrange the blanket and bed spread.  Don't remake the hospital corners and make sure the quarter bounces.  Within minutes of your departure, that beautifully made bed will be stripped bare and the linens in the laundry.


What can you do to help?  A couple of things.  First, most owners will have a welcome letter or a notebook very visible when you enter.  Take a few minutes to thumb through it.  It will have things like passwords, how to work the TV/DVD, if there's a burn ban, how to change the temperature or switch from heat to AC or vice versa.  We certainly want to know if something isn't working right, but...

When you leave, take the trash with you and put it in the dumpster.  While we almost always will begin cleaning and resetting very shortly after your departure, sometimes life intervenes.  That trash can get pretty smelly pretty quickly.

So, how has the Chinese Communist Flu affected the business?  Surprisingly, not much at all.  I doubt we've had more that 10-15 vacant nights since April.  Most have been families that just need to get away for a bit and have a view of something different than their own living room.  Social distancing is not difficult around here.

We'll shortly begin the second phase of Mrs J's grand scheme of all things Guest House.  Reno on our old house will be starting shortly.  (I'll be learning first hand if "Demo Day" is as fun as Chip Gaines says it is.  I'm doubting it at this point.)  Once we get the carpet pulled up any structural repairs done and new flooring installed, my sister will move into the New Old House and we'll then do a similar refresh on her current cabin which will then become a second guest house.

But, like Helmut von Moltke always said "No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy."  We'll see.

On a separate note, my DIL sent me a link that shows that Nose Art has made a comeback in the US Air Force at least when deployed to the Sand Box.


Cool, but I'm betting it'll be gone before they redeploy.


  1. Thanks for the behind-the-scenes look at being a "guest host".....there's ALL kinds of people out there eh juvat? The ones that leave things dirty make me wonder if they ever use TP. Every generation's Nose Art will be different and IMHO it should survive everywhere, deployed or not but then I've always been a civilian.

    1. True, although the overwhelming majority of our guests have been "regular folks". Down to earth, nice and polite. With the news nowadays being what it is (or isn't), it's reassuring to meet people from all over that seem to have similar values to ours. Different personalities and opinions, to be sure, but similar values. We get a lot of families and it's refreshing to see them pile into the car to go do something together. It makes it a heckuva lot easier to deal with the cranks and blow them off as an anomaly.

      I agree with the nose art. 20 years in the AF and it was verboten throughout. Stick in the mud's in charge I guess.

  2. I like this "behind the scenes" look at the juvat estate. You guys have a lot going on down there!

    Love the nose art, I wonder how long will it take for the shoe clerks to put the kibosh on that?

    1. Thanks, Boss. I texted you yesterday with a question, looks like the original size functions well. At least for the nose art picture.

      I suspect, much like the mask dictate, they already have. And the guys on the pointy end of the spear are saying, You want it off, You deploy and take it off.

      At least I hope so.

  3. What is it about that radar?? I can't figure it out. I was given a new sleeping bag that was abandoned by a DJ at the radio station. She worked overnights, and after graduation, moved on and left it. I picked it up, and had a weird thought strike me. So I held it up by the corners and a bra fell out. Both went into the trash.... Although, I was tempted to send her bra to her with a note explaining I'd found it after she moved out. heheheh.....

    The worst was a trip to Montana. I got cooties from a bed much like the one described with the unmentionables. After 36 hours of travel without sleep, I fell on the bed and was asleep in a second. I neglected to unwrap it. The doc prescribed a huge tube of "toothpaste" to be rubbed on top to bottom, and left on. I looked like a greased pig. Doc was understanding, he'd gotten fleas at a motel in the same town a few years before...

    1. I was tempted with the same thought also. But, good thoughts won out (which is almost always NOT the case with me).

      Back in the days of 55mph, I was going to Tech. Dad was stationed in Columbus MS. It was 915 miles door to door and not all Interstate. The summer before my Junior year, He got transferred to Nellis in Vegas. I thought yippee! They'll be closer.

      They were. Door to door was 914 miles and not all interstate.

      Long way of saying, I feel your pain. I would arrive home, go straight to bed and wake up some time much, much later.

  4. Juvat - That is actually a very good idea overall, and one that (given your location) is not surprising that it does not have a problem being occupied.

    That said, you are a better man than I. My impression of people that do not own what they are using or living in is not very good, and your stories seem to uphold that.

    I, have never mastered hospital corners, to the everlasting shame of The Ravishing Mrs. TB.

    1. Thanks Mr TB

      As I mentioned above, most of our guests are pretty reasonable folks and leave the place in pretty good shape. Makes cleaning up much easier. There are an occasional few however....

      Took me a while and brought back visions of ROTC summer camp and sleeping on the floor once I got the bed made so it would pass inspection, but it can be done. And with a change of occupancy 2-3 times a week, I get plenty of practice.

  5. Not to turn this into an advertisement for your B&B, but do you have a website or link to your rental site? My wife and I live near Houston, and like to frequent the greater Hill Country in our free-ish time.

    1. If you'll email Sarge he'll forward it to me. Mrs J will contact you and answer any questions you may have. Thanks.

  6. People can be... icky. Or not. But... well... BITD, in the SCA, Mrs. Andrew and I attended an annual War in Lumberton, MS. The location had a fleabag motel attached to it, which we were lucky to secure a room in. Lovely people running it, but... well... we always brought our own sheets and blankets, always stripped all of their stuff and remade the bed starting with a waterproof mattress pad (works both ways...) and pretty much wiped down everything with clorox wipes before one item of luggage was unloaded. (Even borrowed the maid's vacuum a couple times.) We never had to go so far as to nuking the room for fleas and other bugs, but we were ready to.

    Never found a dead whore under the bed, but the hotel had that type of feel. If Mrs. Andrew had been more mobile we'd have camped, but she wasn't so beggars, choosers, one or the other.

    Last I heard, the hotel finally gave up the ghost. The owners weren't maintaining it, and, well, disarray was the decor.

    Now, what you describe on your vast expanse? Sounds much cleaner and neater. Which is to be expected with Mrs. Juvat in charge.

    As long as it keeps paying for itself, and a little more, then you have a good business. Do you hire a cleaning company to do a deep clean once a year or is Mrs. Juvat and her servant good enough?

    1. So far it's just been her and I. I'm not sure anyone but her would be acceptable. That's not saying she's picky, just that she (with a bit of help from me) does an outstanding job.

      Thanks, Beans.

  7. When I went to Ireland in 2015 my cousin arranged our accommodations through VRBO for both Galway and Dublin.
    MB and I have been staying in Air BnB places any time we need a fixed base.
    We’ve only been to one where the place was less than optimal... the hosts vacated their residence, but failed to allow for our clothing storage, or room in the fridge for our needs.
    All of the hosts we have dealt with have been really easy to deal with. Many used intermediaries.
    We found we can a lot closer to where we want than at a hotel and it’s nice to have cooking facilities.

    1. We're listed on both those agencies, however, most of our reservations come from AirBnB. Which is fine with us as their service charge is half what VRBO charges and the nightly rates are the same on both sites, so we take home a little more.
      I haven't stayed in a place where the owner is also living. Not sure how I'd like that.
      We'd probably still use a service if we weren't both retired, and we'll probably resume them when time starts taking its toll on our bods.
      Cooking your own meal does save a buck or two. The owners from last week were pretty well heeled. I looked up the frying pan I used to cook dinner on Amazon. It was Italian and over $200. For one pan!

    2. Thanks for doing that for them. Most of our guests do the same, thankfully.

  8. I admire people who can be innkeepers (of all sizes and variations). Far exceeds my tolerance level.

    1. Fortunately, the number of people who have seen the fighter pilot in me come out is fairly minimal. Unless I'm stuck in traffic however.

  9. Just in case I hadn't mentioned it before, a MOAT is a bloody good idea.

    I hadn't elaborated at the time. Because it seemed SELF-EVIDENT, it goes hand in cuffed-hand with STRIP-SEARCH and Sigh. Airforce.

    Sufficient spoken, with a significant water obstacle, perps cannot exfiltrate and abscond without paying for suspiciously sticky bedlinen/architectural amendments. You also capture arrivals' plates, full biometric pics, and print capture documents?

    Please, pretend these are the first suitors of your third teenage daughter, and treat them with the same security clearance. Much higher than the B-xx sun-in-a-jar things.

    1. All good advice. Unquestionably effective on the two incidents encountered so far and mentioned above. However, it might have some deleterious effect on our 4.8 star comment rating.

      Just as an FYI, in the rainy season we occasionally DO have a moat.

  10. I much prefer Betty Grable or other WWII pinups as nose art- must be the younger generation's fascination with all things Marvel and video games.

    Hotel radar is certainly a thing! Checked into what was then the Baton Rouge Hilton back in the 90's, it was late, I was tired, so I threw back one side of the covers and was going to just jump into bed when I had this urge to look under the covers on the other side of the bed - found the biggest ant convention I've ever seen inside a building - evidently attracted by the pizza crusts between the sheets at the foot of the bed that had been missed by the maids (or put there in retaliation for some management action). All I could think of was what might have happened if I had laid down - would probably have had a similar greased pig experience to that of STxAR. Management moved me the the Presidential Suite upon learning of my plight. When I checked out the next morning, there were three pest exterminator trucks parked outside. Not long after, that hotel became part of the Marriott chain.

    I have not used AirBNB, almost did but the event I was going to in N. Georgia was cancelled due to the virus so had to cancel the res. And just glanced at listings in F'burg - OMG, up to $799 a night!!! Yikes!!!

    1. Yeah, there are some pricey places in town. Don't know if they're worth it, but there are some VERY nice homes that are probably second homes for Austin/Houston folks with a bit of buckage, so might be.

      We're not in that price range as most aren't.

  11. Glad things are working out, and didn't know you had the cabin thing going!

    1. Yeah, I don't remember if we had it going when you came down to visit, but if you wish to return...

  12. For those good renters that want to return, make sure you give them your email so you can avoid AB&Bs atrocious fees the next time they want to visit. I hope they outnumber the bad ones and you don't have a collection of other people's underwear! Nose art is cool, but yes, it'll be gone before the fly-in. We had to remove all the call-signs when CNN came onboard after 9-11, some being a bit risqué.

    1. We do have cards prominently visible in the Cabin and need to replace them regularly, so that's an option. However, the mechanics of determining availability is easiest through the service website (if they called us, that's what we'd have to do to see if it's available) so it's easiest for them to just book it when they find an acceptable open date.

      Risque? Fighter Pilots? Say it ain't so! ;-)


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