It's a common question I get. "What do you do when you are housesitting?"
Every housesitter's answer will be different, of course, and the location and specific responsibilities will differ, depending on the house and pets involved.
For those unfamiliar with housesitting, here's a very brief explanation.
When we housesit, we are trading - I'll take care of your house and pets and you give me a place to stay. There are responsibilities on both sides. The homeowner provides a (hopefully) clean and safe place, often a car to use, and very important, detailed info about the pets, the house, alarm systems, emergency contacts etc. Usually, the homeowner has a descriptive posting so the housesitter can get an idea of the place, the pets and the people. The sitter, whose profile is often selected from a lot of applicants through an online platform, provides care for the pets and house, keeping the property secure and clean for the duration.
Quite often, there are Skype and/or FaceTime conversations so we can get a feel for each other. If you are in the area, it can be a real Meet and Greet. Other times, all correspondence is done via email.
But what's it like when actually there at this new place?
The first couple of days are often about finding the grocery store, the nearest gas station, the local coffee shop. But the first week, at least for me, feels a bit awkward. Getting to know the animals and their little quirks and allowing them to get used to me in their own time. Finding out where everything is, looking for the basics and having to look in drawers and cupboards filled with other people's stuff. Feeling like a bit of an interloper, prying into other peoples secrets!
And I have found you can tell a lot about the people whose home you are taking care of. Especially in the kitchen, where I can tell how health conscious they are, if they cook a lot, if they are complete foodies or whether they eat just to sustain themselves. I can tell whether they are organized or do stuff from the seat of their pants. I sometimes wonder why they have certain things in places so unintuitive - silverware in the wrong place and everyday utensils stashed in a drawer at the bottom of the cabinet! Or they may be so organized, with everything labeled and neat and tidy, it makes me think I am a real slob!
After a few days it gets easier when I know where things are - ok, so this is where the grater lives and I just have to remember to replace it in exactly the same place so the home owners aren't completely at a loss when they return and try to figure out where I put their stuff. (I usually take photos of the house as it is when I arrive so when I leave, I can make sure all those masses of extra pillows and cushions are put back in the right place!)
The second week is much easier. I know the animals routines and they are used to me. I pretty much know where everything is and how the tv controls work! I'm back into more of a normal routine myself.
The third week is like I'm at home. But often that is when the sit is coming to an end and then the feelings of being in limbo start creeping in. The routine goes out the window as I start to gather my stuff and think about getting from here to there. With any luck, the there is a new house sit. And having spent so much time with animals, and bonded with them, the thought of leaving is difficult even though I know that the "parents" are on the way home.
The most important thing for me, regardless of what part of the world I'm in and where I am staying, is to keep busy. As a solo traveler, sometimes it's hard to psyche myself up to get out and about in a new area. Let's face it, it's not as much fun exploring and discovering new places on your own. This particular sit just south of Seattle proper, has been a lot easier for me.
Although I hardly know Seattle - the Olympic Peninsula where I used to live, is a completely different world - but there is a certain familiarity to the area.
And, there are a lot of distilleries around. So I made a point of getting out and visiting a lot of them while in the area. Being out and exploring, with a purpose, works for me. I'm not good at being aimless! The distilleries are all over the area so I have been north and south and downtown and have seen sides of Seattle I didn't know existed. And met some wonderful people. Now, after making all the visits the last couple of weeks, I am disciplining myself to write the blog posts and process the photos for the World Craft Distillery site.