Neighborhood ruckus

Our story so far: We moved into the old Methodist church and tried to make it a cozy home.

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Imagining how awesome you’ll be at making sure your guests are comfy and cozy and actually executing your theories, as it turns out, are two different things.

Oh, sure, we had a nice bed. And we even found a nice place to put it. But when we entertained our first overnight guests in the church, we didn’t even have a door for the guest room. And that wasn’t the worst of it.

Our first overnight guests were Tyler’s mom and her mate. They were excited to see our work, and we were excited to show it off, so they paid us a visit a few days after we moved in. They were very forgiving of our semi unfinished spaces and the plethora of boxes we had everywhere, but we managed to pull together real dishes for dinner and we had the guest bed assembled for sleeping.

The next morning, we inquired as to how they slept, and we listened carefully to learn how we could make the guest experience better.

“Oh, well, I’m such a light sleeper anyway,” Tyler’s mother began.


She described how a car alarm woke her up in the middle of the night, and how it kept her awake for an hour.

Tyler and I exchanged puzzled looks. We hadn’t heard any car alarms. In fact, our room was so well insulated, we hardly heard any street traffic. Hmm.

She went on to say the car’s owner must have tried using a dremel tool to get inside his car. “Hum, hum, hum,” she re-enacted the sound.

Her mate nodded in agreement. He heard it, too.

How odd, Tyler and I said to each later. We were skeptical. We heard nothing. “Maybe the belfry lets in more noise than we know,” I suggested. “Maybe we need to sleep up there and see how noisy it really is.”

The next night, Tyler hogged the covers and I couldn’t get comfortable, so I crept upstairs to try the guest bed.

At two o’clock in the morning, I awoke to an alarm. As I got my bearings, I realized the sound was a cell phone. At first I thought Tyler was playing a trick on me to get me back to bed, so I got up to investigate. The sound was coming from the kitchen, which was right below the second-floor guest room. I tiptoed down the spiral stairway to find my old cell phone ringing and vibrating on the granite countertop.

I switched it off and realized my mother-in-law hadn’t heard a car alarm the previous night, she heard my phone alarm. And the dremel tool? It was the reverberation of the vibrate buzz. Tyler had pulled my old phone out of a box of cords he unpacked a few days before in order to find all his stereo parts, and we plugged it in to see if it still worked. In all the time it sat idle, it somehow confused a.m. with p.m., and it had been going off–for an hour–every night at 2 o’clock because long ago I had an alarm set to give my dog (who had been gone seven months) her afternoon epilepsy pill.

We never heard the phone go off, but without a door on the balcony to the guest room, the sound carried clearly up there. As Sergeant Sacker made famous in 1979’s When a Stranger Calls: “We’ve traced the call … it’s coming from inside the house!”

Turning off the phone fixed this problem, but our early guests endured other hardships and inconveniences.

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Tomorrow: Tough to tell who’s the fairest without a mirror. Read about it here.

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