A Site Manager’s Day

February 22nd, 2013
By Alice Askins, Site Manager of Rose Hill
furniture and window frames in an unfinished room
Rose Hill Attic
I start the day by walking Rose Hill and Johnston House.  Usually I do this two or three times a week.  With a flashlight, I walk through each room, looking at the ceiling for water spots and around the floor for signs of mice.  So far anything suspicious has turned out to be beetle wings, which puzzles me – who’s eating the rest of the bugs?  I keep watching.  From attic to basement I check each room, even the closets.  In each area I listen for anything that sounds different – dripping water, scuffling, or unusually distinct sounds from outdoors that might mean a broken window.  I also sniff the air in case anything smells damp.  (Recently Johnston House smelled a little skunky, which led me to call in our animal control guy Aaron.)  Between the two houses, I go up and down 132 steps.  “It’s good for you,” I tell my left knee.  At Johnston House I usually check the tile museum to make sure all is well there.  This is fraught with suspense, since I never know if I will be able to get the door locked again.  The tile museum has 15 more steps.
Returning from Johnston House, I pull up my monthly report for the board, and send it to Sue (our office manager).  At this point my cat wants to walk on the keyboard.  I pat him, and he settles down.
 Then I update my logs for Rose Hill and Johnston House – whenever something happens I have to record it in the logs.  In this case, I report about Aaron’s visit to Johnston House to look for places where animals are coming in.  Since there are several entrance points, he recommends that we not try to trap and exclude any critters until spring.  He is going to write up an estimate.  I email him Kerry’s request that he give us options – the cost of fixing the current mesh and gravel system around the porch, vs. the cost of a new subterranean fence; the cost of a one-way door vs. him trapping the critters and taking them away.
Aaron’s visit to the Rose Hill attic is also recorded.  He’s developing an estimate for sanitizing and deodorizing it.  My goals here are to eliminate odors that might attract more squirrels, and to safeguard human health by removing all the squirrel, raccoon, bat, and bird waste.  I email Kerry and John about moving, protecting, or discarding the items in the attic before Aaron and his helper come in their haz-mat suits.  John sends me a list of the collection materials in the attic; there are also things like old boards and heater covers lying around.  This will take planning.
Recently I started drafting a family tour for Rose Hill, so I look at it again.  I have help with this project – our docent Barb is advising me, and our education expert Anne has had some terrific suggestions.  We’re organizing the tour around a letter that Margaret Swan wrote to her husband Robert, when he was traveling in 1860.  Margaret talks about visitors, church activities, the children, the farm, her father and sister, the maids, one of the farm workers, etc.   It’s a way of getting into the life of the family and the times that is unique to Rose Hill.  Anne also suggested that having kids take on the roles of characters in our story is a good way to involve them in the tour.  So I am thinking about both those ideas and trying to figure out what we should talk about in which rooms, and what characters we might invite our young visitors to play.  I pick a section of the letter and use it to discuss several first-floor rooms.
A big truck pulls into the driveway, and I look out to see what’s up.  It is the fuel oil truck, filling up the tanks for Rose Hill.  It is always good to see them.
We are making a list of the bus tour companies that bring visitors to us – including the companies that used to bring tours, but haven’t for the last few years.  We want to address the decline in bus tour traffic at Rose Hill.  We have records from 2001 through 2006, and 2010 through 2012.   Today I discover some information about 2009, so I go through and find the companies not already on our list (there are six.)  I send an updated list to Anne.  So far, I haven’t found records from 2007 and 2008.  
I get an email from Kerry setting up a meeting about the Rose Hill attic and put it on the calendar.  I email Sue about payroll hours.
A bus tour company calls scheduling tours for June and August.  I send a confirming email and synch up my calendars.
MJ (our shop manager) sends some images she is considering for new postcards.  I email back about which ones I like and why.
I work on this blog post and I email Karen about the Dove family papers for another.
When I go to sleep later, I dream that suddenly it is light until 9:30 PM, so we can see to do things around the grounds in the evening.  I am surprised, but pleased.
spiral staircase
Some of the 132 steps