HouseFrontEven before I moved into my Alaska house, I toyed with the idea of having a BnB. I knew I would have extra space, what feels like too much after my condo in Atlanta, and I love having company. Plus it’s the sort of enterprising thing that a lot of Homer people do. In this town, people–I’m talking individuals–make pottery, paint, write music and sing and play guitar, have a big garden, maybe a high tunnel, freeze and can boatloads of vegetables and fruits, make jam, catch fish and smoke and freeze them, develop web sites or write books, have a day job–or just retired from one–as a scientist or something like that, and they have a BnB. They also kayak and paddle board out in Kachemak Bay with the whales and sea otters. And have a pilot’s license.

I don’t do any of those things, but maybe because I want to fit in, to seem less cheechako and more enterprising and real Alaska, I’ve been thinking, “Well, hey. I’ll have a BnB. I can do that.” Hosting tourists would be fun and profitable, which surely is a motivator, even for Homer polymaths.

I wanted a catchy name for my BnB knowing that I couldn’t rightfully christen the place with anything nautical or suggestive of Alaska wildlife. So I came up with Rhubarb House, because a year after I moved in the only thing growing in the yard was a big clump of rhubarb that survived the dirt work that preceded construction of the house. I do harvest the rhubarb and freeze most of it because one person can’t eat all that much of it at one time.

Whenever out-of-town company comes, that’s just family and close friends so far, I use them as a captive focus group to test my BnB idea, and because they’re genial guests, they’ve all agreed to participate. Maybe they’re just being nice and don’t want to hurt my feelings, but not one has discouraged me—not even my sister Joy, who would be the first to burst the bubble if she thought it was a ridiculous idea. Her name may be Joy, but she minces no words. Just one “That’s crazy” from her, and I get sane real quick.

My guests have given me lots of great ideas and suggestions. One long-time friend suggested that I get a fire extinguisher and first-aid kit. Another who has really great hair that’s still not gray suggested a better hair dryer for the guest bath, and the one I had in there was pretty feeble. I bought it at a CVS in Lansing, MI, because I forgot to pack one when I went to visit Zach several years ago.

Joy has come up with a lot of ways to distinguish Rhubarb House from other BnBs in Homer. I really love her idea of serving complimentary wine and crudités in late afternoon. No cheese because of weight and cholesterol concerns. This service would be offered instead of breakfast, because I have said all along I don’t want to prepare a biggie size morning meal. I can’t stand frying bacon. It gives me cold chills.

Eventually we decided that breakfast would be cheaper. I would let folks know up front that they could expect a piece of fruit, homemade muffins made with rhubarb from the side yard, and great coffee. That comes from Panama and is shipped to me by the same friend who advised the fire extinguisher and first-aid kit.

Maybe I would have non-fat yogurt available too, for people who are gluten intolerant. I think that could be a Scots-Irish genetic thing, but I may be wrong, because I don’t have it. I will purchase the fruit and yogurt at Safeway on senior discount day and make the muffins myself to keep a good profit margin so it’s worth the trouble of registering Rhubarb House BnB with the Kenai Peninsula Borough and collecting sales tax. By the way, I have a great muffin recipe that earned a seal of approval from my former husband who otherwise had no confidence in my cooking, and that wasn’t the only thing.

When Joy visited last month, her second trip to Homer, she suggested that I not give up on the happy hour idea, but make it BYOB, and provide live autoharp music. She came up with that idea during an in-home wine tasting, and if we had been drinking Coca-Cola, we would have snorted it out our noses.

As the tasting continued, the idea evolved into an autoharp singalong including old favorites such as “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain,” “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” and “Over the River and Through the Woods,” which doesn’t seem appropriate for high season summer months. (To be continued)

Copyright 2015. Genie Hambrick

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