Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Housesitting 101

Housesitting 101

If the timeframe is more than just a few days, make sure you get all instructions in writing.

Make sure you are comfortable with the people you are housesitting for; you will be comfortable in their house. If not, there may be a bit of awkwardness while staying there.

Items you’ll need to know about (instruction to get in writing):

· Emergency Contact Numbers where the home owners will be

· Phone: Do the home owners want you to answer the phone when there is a call or let it go to voicemail

· Gardening/Yard work (watering/mowing; planting/harvesting [if vegetables, etc], plant trimming, where the hoses/spigots are; garden tools needed [if any])

· Pets (food/water/toys; if pets are allowed indoors; any special instructions; vet clinic and what to do if there is an emergency with a pet)

· Any special phone calls (doctor’s appointments, other important information such as lawyers/insurance agents/etc)

· Garbage service (when to put out; where cans are located, etc)

· Washing Machine/Dryer (if any special instructions)

· Cleaning Supplies locations (broom/dustpan/mop/bucket/window cleaner/vacuum/etc)

· Food (any to be used immediately/what is available to you and what is not [if any])

· Mail Delivery (a place to collect mail, if home owners are having you pick it up) and Newspapers (if home owners are being delivered; do home owners want you to save them or throw out, etc)

· Towels/Washcloths/Dishcloths and kitchen towels

· Any rooms/areas that are off limits

· Are guests acceptable

Have a notebook and pen (if not provided) to take any phone messages that might come in while you are housesitting (if you will be answering the phone)

These folks are trusting you with their home, respect it and their privacy.

If you are not from the area pick up a map of city/town, along with a local phone book, if it is not provided. Most phone books have a basic map of the area, but not usually too detailed. Also, go driving around to become more familiar with the area. It might also be a good idea to find out where the nearest fire department is and where the police station is located. Another helpful place you might look up is the post office.

If there are pets you’ll be caring for it might be a good idea for you to go a few days ahead, while the homeowners are still in town for the pets to get to know you soon. You’ll also want to find out if there are any special instructions for the pets (such as: a dog that doesn’t like to be grabbed by the collar and will bite if such is done; an older pet that might pass away while in your care and what to do in that case; any special dietary needs of pets, etc)

One of the most challenging aspects of house sitting is the amount of time you will be alone. If you are not used to spending most or all of your time alone, this can prove to be somewhat unsettling. If you are house sitting away from your normal activity area (your home and the city/town you live in and around), and you are housesitting for more than a few days, you might consider getting to know some of the neighbors in the area. Also, check, the local newspaper for any festivals or community activities going on in the area. It also helps to keep in contact with your family and friends. If you are working while housesitting, this might not be as difficult since you most likely will be interacting with others during your work hours. Your alone hours will not be as many. If you are a person who has a difficult time meeting new people, you will need to plan ahead to have activities to fill the hours you will be alone. If you are allowed to have guests over, plan a weekend activity to connect with your friend/family.

Items to bring with you when housesitting

(some are needed if you are house sitting for more than a couple of days and especially if you are not working while you are housesitting)

· Clothes

· Shoes

· Personal grooming supplies

· Activities to keep busy with (if you are working a steady job, you’ll probably not need as many of these since you’ll most likely be gone most of the day during the work week)

o Books/Magazines

o Movies

o Computer

o Video Games

o Other projects you might be working on

o Etc

· Food (if there is anything specific you want or for any special dietary needs)

· Medicines (if you are taking any) and any that you might need in case of illness.

· Personal bedding (if not supplied or if you are like me and like your own blankets and pillows)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Life in a Small Town

Living in a small town

Born and raised in the Lodi (CA) area, I have always heard Lodi described as a “small town” or having a “small town atmosphere”. The past two months I have been living in a town with less than 25,000 inhabitants...truly a small town. In two months I have discovered that living in a small town has many advantages. Along with the advantages also come disadvantages.

The neighbors are friendly; even going so far as to put out the garbage cans for their neighbors. For all the friendliness, there was an extremely small down side. The newspaper disappeared for several days. After I realized it was walking away, I started going out to pick it up earlier in the day. The second day of retrieving it earlier, one of the previous days papers, that had gone missing, was returned, rubber banded together, ads and all.

The cashiers at the mom & pop grocery store know their customers by name, greeting them when they walk in. They are welcoming to an unknown customer with warmth and delight, as if they have known you for years. The politicians are also personable. During the election time, while I was there, I spoke to a mayoral candidate on the phone, when she phoned the house to stress her platform for running. During “trick or treating” on Halloween, a flyer from her campaign was left on the doorstep and on Election Day, a reminder call to vote, from one of her volunteers. Not a recorded voice, but an actual pleasant person. She won the election. I don’t know if it was because of her personal approach or not, but I would think it was in her favor.

Another thing, livestock is not banned from “city limits”, a goat or lamb bleated in the house behind where I was staying. I also hear a rooster several mornings. Delightful sounds to this city turned country girl.

The air in a small town is fresher not bogged down by smog and other big city stenches; you can step outside at night and see the stars. Not just the few with the strongest light, but many, many more.

Businesses close up in the early evening as the owners and employees go home to their families. I had become used to having 24 hour stores and it was a change for me to be in a place where there were none. Such was a great learning experience on waiting, no “instant gratification” for the things I desired or needed.

Having had this experience and already having the desire to eventually move to a small town, I learned first hand experience that moving to a small town will be a delight, one I greatly look forward to.