What a Life!
First, we had weeks with no house sits and tons of worry and doubt. Then we had several weeks with two overlapping stays miles and miles apart. Unbelievable!
Jim strapped his bike on a borrowed car and took off for the house in Palm Desert. I left Palm Desert and took the house near the beach and kept our car.
Originally, these two stays were supposed to run consecutively. Since the Palm Desert, one got moved up almost three weeks due to an early arrival of a granddaughter; Jim stayed in Palm Desert, and I did this house sit on my own.
How We Got Here
It taught us that plans, no matter how carefully made, were subject to quick change, and separation was going to be a common occurrence.
We agreed to do this house sit after a couple of phone conversations and a ‘home visit.’ The homeowner asked us to give a hefty deposit and pay for some utilities. That was a bit disconcerting to us at first, but we agreed, signed on the dotted line and handed over a big check.
It seemed the host family was following the advice from some of the house sitting websites and was going strictly by the book. It turned out not to be a big deal in the end, but it did take us a while to find peace with the concept of leaving a deposit and we don’t think we would do that again.
Close to the Beach
I arrived at the designated time; and found the family in the midst of last-minute packing. We did a quick tour around the house and talked over the chores again, and off they went.
The house was in a Los Angeles beach town about five miles south of the big airport and about a half mile from the Pacific Ocean. It had small yards in front and at the back.
It was the first time I’ve had to deal with moving my car from one side of the street to the other, to accommodate street cleaning. Reading the street signs every day became a habit, (Tuesday – south side, Wednesday – north side), so the car didn’t get towed away.
There were many stores and even a Whole Foods about a mile away, so finding whatever was needed was easy, even though the area was unfamiliar. The weather was cool as it was still winter. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much of an ocean breeze even though the house was very close to the ocean.
My New Friend
The house came with a gentle and well-mannered chocolate-colored Labradoodle, about the same size as our friend in Palm Desert. One of his favorite activities was grooming, meaning I brush him, and brush him, and brush him some more. He would lie there forever, and I would finally have to stop as my arm would give out.
A few times I caught him on the furniture (where he was not allowed) or on the people beds. He had a bed in the master bedroom and slept there all night. The kitchen was also off-limits to him, but it didn’t seem to work as well.
He was an obedient dog, a good walker, always on the left, but he did pull, unintentionally. He was a big guy, and his natural gait was faster than mine.
My new friend had an ear infection that required drops twice a day for the first week. He allowed me to administer them most of the time. A few times there was a bit of a disagreement about what was to happen, but we figured it out.
The rules for the dog were drastically different from the other houses we’d been to, and it helped us understand that as house sitters, we are bound by each owner’s rules for their pets.
We certainly would not change the rules for a dog, but it means we have to be flexible and change what we do from house to house and dog to dog.
In the three weeks I was with him he only barked at two things – the gardeners (so he had to stay inside) and the mailman.
Here Comes the Mail
He went berserk every time the mailman arrived. (Current language preferences aside, this was a man who delivered the mail, hence, a mailman.) When I say, the dog went berserk every time the mailman arrived, I’m understating it.
The mail was delivered by pushing the items through a slot by the front door. Every day the same squeaking, banging and thumping as the mail hit the wood floor.
The dog would run to the front door as he heard the footsteps coming. He would wait a moment and then explode with into a growling, barking, jumping wild creature.
As soon as the mailman walked away, he would lie down as if nothing had happened. What a spectacle. One wonders who liked it less – the dog, the mailman, or me!
What a Drive
From this house, it took over an hour to get to work even outside rush hours and unfortunately, all on the 405 freeway. I had to leave super early in the morning to avoid the infamous Los Angeles morning traffic. It put me at school two hours before the children, which seems crazy.
This allowed me to make breakfast, check the house-sitting websites (with my new phone), get the classroom ready for the day and be relaxed by the time parents started dropping off their children.
I had not done a long commute for more than two decades and didn’t miss it. I thought I would crack up after three weeks of it. It all worked out though because the family nanny lived in a back house on the property and truly wanted to help. We shared the dog duties since I did need help with the mid-morning pee/walk, which she graciously did during the first two weeks.
A Few Accomplishments
During the third week, I was on break and could tend to him all day. I did not do much sightseeing while at this house. Probably since I had no company, but I also didn’t want to drive anywhere after doing the commute each day.
Jim and I took the opportunity to learn how to use Skype and FaceTime. That accomplished two things – communication between us and learning a new skill for house sitting.
I spent a bit of time communicating with homeowners during this house sit and also had my first FaceTime conversation with an owner.
I found many listings for house sits scheduled during the summer and secured three, two in Oregon and one in Colorado. We also agreed to a house sit in Arizona in September. So now we knew where we would spend the summer!
I was so happy to know where we would be when we left Los Angeles after the end of my school year, even though we didn’t know where we would be until then.
When my stay here ended, I said goodbye to the beach, the dog, and the family! Later on, the deposit came back to us through the mail.