A Country Inn Day Fairy Tale that met with success unexpected in Common Hours

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Once upon a time there was a young girl named Carol Ann who would walk home from school and pass this house. This big old white house wasn’t easy to see back then because there were many bushes that edged the property, but Carol Ann would walk by very slowly and try to catch a glimpse between the branches, seeing what she could see of this house and its extensive grounds.

Back in the day there were gardens there too and how Carol Ann wished a lady would appear in those gardens, notice her passing, and invite her in to see the flowers.  Carol Ann would imagine this lady of the garden looked and sounded like the lovely actress Deborah Kerr, that she was a proper English lady who had no daughter but longed for one and seeing Carol Ann would reach out to her in friendship.  Perhaps this lady would invite Carol Ann to share her afternoon tea or invite her into the house so the lady could play piano for her, give her some lessons and ultimately they could play duets together.  Oh, how many times Carol Ann past this house and dreamed of this lady.  Carol Ann’s Romantic personality came up with all sorts of scenarios for the two of them.

And that’s not all.  Carol Ann also dreamed what fun it would be if she could explore the extensive grounds of this property for even back then at her young age big old houses with extensive grounds enchanted her.  When other young girls were doing what most young girls do (whatever that is) Carol Ann was reading “House and Garden” magazine and books like “The Secret Garden”, materials which fed her imagination.  How she hoped one day she could live in a big old white house surrounded by nature, a place where she could work in her garden, enjoy afternoon tea and play the piano to her hearts content.

But life moved on as it tends to do and no lady ever appeared to Carol Ann.  Days passed. Months turned into years and only occasionally did Carol Ann have the opportunity to pass the old white house and remember her imaginings.  But then one day while reading a book by the American author Henry David Thoreau she came upon a passage that spoke to her.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

“Aha”, she thought.  At that moment there was an awakening.   Though Carol Ann never did meet the lady of her imagination who lived in the big old white house that sat on those extensive grounds she suddenly realized she actually became that lady.  Of course she’s American, not English, but besides that one fact, her dreams came true.  Now Carol Ann lives in a big old white house of her own and it happens to sit on a generous plot of land. The grounds around Carol Ann’s house may not be as grand as that house of her dreams, but she’s working on them. Gardening is one of Carol Ann’s favorite activities.  She does however enjoy afternoon tea regularly and with guests, often children.  And that’s not all.  She also delights in playing  the piano and playing those duets she dreamed of for now she’s a piano teacher herself.

Thoreau was right.  If we advance through life in the direction of our dreams not letting them go we can meet with unexpected success.

All this is an introduction to today’s story.  You see, after years of imagining and dreaming about that old house I passed so many times as a child I finally had the chance to explore the property.

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Carol Ann paying a nice friendly visit to Celeste.

 And this is the lady that made it happen for me.  This is Celeste, a wonderful artist and my cousin who happens to live in what was once the gate house for the house of my dreams.

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Celeste’s charming house which I always loved

Celeste knows the present owners of my dream property and though I dropped by to visit her, in talking about my girlhood imaginings, Celeste suggested I take a walk at long last and explore the grounds I admired for so many years.  She assured me her neighbors wouldn’t notice and if they did I should just explain I was her cousin and a long time admirer of their place.

You can’t imagine how excited I was!

Want to come along?  Ok, let’s go.

 I stepped out the back door and headed down the long driveway.

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At one point the driveway was edged with large stones.  They were there so drivers wouldn’t go astray and end up in the woods below.

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I don’t happen to have these woods at my house unfortunately but I wish I did.  This property goes down to The Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  It’s beautiful country.

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As I get closer to the house I begin to see a little white.  How exciting!

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And then there’s a little more white…

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As I get closer I notice a lattice privacy screen near the house, but I wonder why anyone needs  help with privacy when they live on extensive grounds like these.

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I walked past the house quickly so as not to bother the owners and headed for the grounds behind it, the grounds I never could see very well from the street when I was a little girl.  How wonderful they were.

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The large terraces carved from stone…  the workmanship!  What such a job as this would cost today!

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So many steps down into the valley!

There was a nip in the air and I was chilled to the bone, but nevertheless I walked around with great enthusiasm taking in every sight and sound.

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There were places carved in stone somewhat like large benches where people could sit and gaze out at the landscape.  I might’ve done that if I wasn’t so cold.  But besides being cold there was so much to see.  I had to keep moving.

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Stone staircases were here and there.  As I discovered them hiding under the leaves I felt the same thrill I’d feel discovering ancient ruins in Rome.

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And these forgotten, long-ignored garden elements also reminded me of the forgotten garden from the book The Secret  Garden, that book I loved as a child and still love today.

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There were little streams with charming wooden bridges – so Romantic!

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I could’ve stayed in this wonderland forever but I reluctantly climbed my way back up and there was the house peeking out in the distance.

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As I got closer I discovered another area that had been abandoned.

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It was a large square area framed by a stone wall decorated with wooden fencing.

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The fencing had seen better days, the days of my childhood.  Oh, how I wish I could’ve seen this estate back in its glory days, but it still had a grace about itself, and in its current condition it seemed even more dear to me.

The stately pillars had such dignity standing proudly as they had done for so many years.

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Though ivy and moss grew over them they still were very beautiful to me.

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And in the courtyard was this circular stone item.  Was it once a well or a planter?  I wondered.

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And then I spotted the tea house.  How lovely it would’ve been  on a Summer’s day if and when my lady invited me to share her afternoon tea.  Seeing this structure set my imagination stirring once more.

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What a wonderful property this is.  I wasn’t disappointed at all. Once again I dashed past the house so as not to alarm or disturb the owners.  I learned they were an elderly couple. That could explain why they let their grounds go.  They probably don’t go walking about these days very much to justify the cost in maintaining such a place, but if only they did.  I hope some day a new enthusiastic owner will come along and restore everything to its former glory..

I wish that person could be me.

Perhaps one day my cousin will introduce me to the owners of this estate. The lady of the house in my imagination never became my friend but perhaps I could become friends with the present owners and they just might allow me to return over and over, appreciating  their wonderful property.

I’m only guessing, but I suspect I’ve loved their house and grounds longer then they did and perhaps more intensely then they do now.

Well, that’s my story.

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So as I write you from my own old white house set in nature  I encourage you to keep on dreaming and imagining no matter how old or young you may be for as my good  old “dead friend” Henry David Thoreau suggested,

“If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams, and endeavor to live the life you have imagined, you will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

I’m a believer!

Country Inn Nature Day

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Today I take advantage of the fact that I happen to live near one of the Great Lakes of the world, Lake Erie.  This lake takes its name from  the Erie tribe of our Native Americans, a shortened form of the Iroquoian (erie/honan meaning long tail).

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The five Great Lakes – Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior, are interconnected fresh water lakes located on the Canada-United States border.  They form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth containing 21% of the world’s surface fresh water by volume.  Due to their sea-like characteristics (rolling waves, sustained winds, strong currents, great depths and distant horizons) these five Great Lakes have long been referred to as inland seas.  We in Cleveland  proudly say we live on the North Coast.  People brag about living near an ocean, but it’s also quite special to live near  a Great Lake. Too many people fail to take advantage of a Great Lakes beauty, but not me.

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I’m not much of a swimmer or boater, but I love walking along the water’s edge and enjoying the beauty of the lake. I find the time I spend carried away with nature’s beauty helps me subtract years from my age.  Nature’s beauty has magical powers for when we take that beauty in we feel its glow in our soul.

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Here at Edgewater Park I’m only a mile or two from busy downtown Cleveland but on this and every Country Inn Day I step away from life in the modern world and give myself permission to live somewhere between heaven and earth – to “just be”.  I could be home cleaning or “doing” any number of useful things and I will get to those things, but on Country Inn Days it’s more about being than doing.  Sure, we need to “do”, but not every day.  If we don’t give ourselves permission to step out of our routines who will?  Nobody will and we’ll miss so much.

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Sam Horn, author 0f CoZentraten, writes, “the contentment we seek is available anytime, anywhere… for a moment’s notice.  And age becomes immaterial when you’re immersed in appreciation.”  We can experience such beneficial appreciation in all sorts of ways – strolling through art galleries, working in the garden, creating a delicious meal, playing the piano – so many ways, but observing nature is there at the top of my list.

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I usually enjoy Country Inn Days alone so that I’m free to come and go just as I please.  If I take anyone along with me it’s usually a “dead friend”, a person of the past who I commune with through their letters, journals or biographies.  These “dead friends” are great company at lunch, telling me interesting stories from lives past.  “Dead friends” make no demands.  “Dead friends” are like that, they’re great!  I hope you have some “dead friends” of your own too. But since my son Rory happens to live steps away from Lake Erie, owning a condo in Cleveland’s warehouse district, I invited him to join me here at the lake. Rory has always appreciated nature for he’s  a former boy scout who still goes off hiking and camping with friends, but it’s good to have a little mother/son time in nature too and what better time and place to have it than right here at Lake Erie with me on this Country Inn Day..

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Rory and I stroll along the break wall watching the sail boats in the distance.  We chat.  What a lovely Country Inn Day I’m having.  Simple pleasures like these are the best!

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And after a nice time here at the lake, Rory and I stroll back to our car talking about how even simple pleasures don’t just happen. They have to be planned.  First, one must discover what sort of life they’ve imagined for themselves. Then, as Henry David Thoreau used to say, “If you’ve built castles in the air, fine,  just create the foundations under them.”  I do this by scheduling a Country Inn Day each and every week.  And one regular activity of each Inn day is to review the rest of my days being sure they are addressing the life I’ve imagined for myself.  We only have one life after all.  If we don’t take charge of it who will?

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Before I return to Hudson Rory and I decide to have a bite to eat.  Rory is good company, he’s even more fun for me than being with one of my “dead friends” and I love my “dead friends” dearly.  But a good mother always enjoys being with her children, in my case with her handsome sons. This restaurant/bar is around the corner from Rory’s condo, not my kind of place – no white tablecloths,  but I’m always happy to be with my sons, stepping into their worlds whatever those worlds may be. Mother/son time doesn’t happen nearly often enough, but it happened for me today.

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Well, a very satisfying Country Inn Nature Day it was, but then all Country Inn Days are most satisfying.  I drive away from Lake Erie (you see it in the distance)  with renewed contentment.  I hope you’re enjoying the nature in your backyard too. So often those things closest to home are taken for granted, but not by me.   Let’s hope not by you either.  Leave me a comment and tell me what you’ve been enjoying in your backyard lately.

Sharing doubles the joy!

Food, Wine, Nature and Music- wonderful ingredients for a delightful Country Inn “Culture” Day

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Recently I bought a new picnic basket, the kind that contains dishes, napkins, plates, wine glasses and silverware.  A charming picnic basket is great to take along on any romantic outing and  just the thing for a Country Inn Day.  But this Country Inn “Culture” Day will be more than a picnic.  It will combine the romance of a picnic with the elegance of a classical music concert. It will be a double treat!

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My husband and I are off to Blossom Music Center, the Summer home of The Cleveland Orchestra.  We’re very lucky to live in Hudson, Ohio for Blossom is very near to us.  The above picture is an artist’s rendition of Blossom.  This illustration was created  to be used for invitations sent at the opening of Blossom back in 1968. Now Blossom is in its 48th season.  It was created by visionary leaders of Cleveland’s Musical Arts Association so that the Cleveland Orchestra, by the time of its 50th anniversary, could provide year-round employment for its musicians – and year-round music for the region.  As we approach the Orchestra’s 100th anniversary, Blossom has done that and so much more.  Cleveland is rich in culture, a best kept secret, and Cleveland’s classical music scene is second to none with The Cleveland Orchestra as its brightest star.  As a music lover, music educator and past member of The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus I am quite the classical music lover and fan of The Cleveland Orchestra and both its outstanding homes –  Blossom in Summer and Severance Hall  the rest of the year.

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So I find a good bottle of wine and  a loaf of French bread to pack into my cute picnic basket lined with impressionistic fabric reminiscent of the paintings of Claude Monet…

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I also pack a container of chicken salad and another container of broccoli salad

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and the next thing I know we’re driving into the grounds of Blossom.  It’s situated on rolling hills surrounded by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which protects 33,000 acres along the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland. This park is a great destination on Country Inn “Nature” Days.

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We park the car, take a pleasant walk, and before we know it we’re here at the gate.

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Some people bring lawn chairs from home, but Blossom rents chairs too and today we decide to take advantage of this service.

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As Bill sets up our listening area lots of other people are already situated on the lawn.  I decide to take a little walk around  the grounds before the music begins.

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There’s an art gallery on the premises so it’s fun to go inside and have a look.  I enjoy a little art play myself every now and then so it’s good to see what other artists are doing.

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And I’m not the only one who enjoys looking at art.  Others are milling around the gallery too.  How about you?  When was the last time you were at an art museum or art gallery?  Such places are great alternative destinations for other  Country Inn “Culture” Days.

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And remember I mentioned nature? Besides the fact that Blossom is situated  on rolling hills surrounded by lovely old trees there is also a charming formal garden on the grounds with clipped boxwood and an assortment of lovely flowers.  I love to stroll around in such places.  Who wouldn’t?  Very romantic indeed!

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And Blossom has a gift shop too.  It’s called the Bandwagon.  I go inside to see what little treat I can find for myself. As a letter writer I always need picture post cards for you know what they say – one picture is worth a thousand words, and I find some nice postcards of Blossom here.  I also find and purchase a box of note cards with the picture of Blossom that’s at the heading of this post, the picture used for Blossom’s opening. I’ll enjoy sending these cards to my many pen friends, and there’s more…

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The gift shop has a wall of Cleveland Orchestra cd’s for sale.  Wonderful!  I love so many.  Which cd shall I buy?

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It’s a tough decision, but I come away with one of my very favorite symphonies, The New World.  Do you know and like this work as much as I do?

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Well, the concert will be starting soon so I work my way back to the lawn, my husband, and our picnic, but on the way I see lots of other happy people at picnic tables enjoying their supper, people like these nice ladies.  I ask if I may take their picture for my post and they’re so sweet. They invite me to join them.

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So join them I did, at least for a little while.  See?  There I am on the left.  Cleveland people are so friendly.  I’m sure if we had the time I would’ve gotten  to know these gals quite well, well enough to  invite them all to one of my next teas. But there wasn’t time for too much visiting.  The music would be starting soon.  I had to get back.

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On the way back I noticed the little stand where coffee and wine are for sale, other things to nibble on too.  You really don’t have to bring anything to Blossom concerts if you don’t want to, just yourself, and maybe a loved one for good company.  Blossom provides all sorts of things for your pleasure.

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Well, my scouting about was fun, but now for my picnic, some wine, and lots of wonderful music –  Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite No. 3 in D major, Joseph Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C major, Johann Christian Bach’s  Sinfonia in G minor and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 (“Paris”) in D major.

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The sun is going down and the crowd gets quiet.  We sit back, feel the gentle Summer breeze, enjoy the scent of nature all around us (and the aroma of various delicacies in nearby picnic baskets) and the music begins.  Ta  Da!  I wish I could share this music with you for it lifts the spirits. Its artistry and refinement becomes us.  That’s how the beauty of art works for as the great composer George Frideric Handel said to King George I of England – “Milord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wished to make them better.”

Good art truly makes us better.

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Daylight fades and the scene is a twinkling of candles and stars.  It’s been a lovely Country Inn “Culture” Day.  This Country Inn Day, like all Country Inn Days, helps me step out of my regular routines and offers stimulation and refreshment.  I’m glad you could come along with me in spirit for sharing doubles the joy.

Live richly!

It’s another Country Inn “Stay at the Inn” Day

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A view out the Inn’s window
Though the sun is shining and it’s warm today, all of 20 degrees, not the usual below zero temperatures we’ve had here lately, I will not be venturing out of the Inn yet again.  As Innkeeper I have to oversee the workmen who are finishing the floors here.

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Equipment ready to go
The men will soon be arriving.  Their machines are already in place and these machines can be pretty noisy once turned on, but the sound is music to my ears for it means progress on the Inn’s addition.

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A sitting room turned storage room

By my next Country Inn Day I expect the main new room of the Inn will be ready to receive furniture, the furniture which has yet to be delivered as well as the pieces which arrived earlier and have been crowding existing rooms of the Inn.  I’m so anxious to see everything in its right place as you can imagine for this project as been going on for quite some time.

Luckily some rooms here at the Inn have been undisturbed by all the construction so a Country Inn Day here can carry on very much as usual.

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The busy kitchen

The Inn Cook has been working from early morning whipping up a nice breakfast treat, Cable Car Morning Muffins.  This recipe comes from a book called “San Francisco Entertains”.  The book was purchased on a Country Inn “Travel” Day when Cook dropped into  a William Sonoma store in San Francisco’s Union Square.

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Cable Car Morning Muffins

These muffins give me, Inn Guest, a good healthy start to the day.  They are made of wheat flour, oats, ground flax, raisins, carrots, apples, pecans and blackberries, plus a half dozen other ingredients.

So once I have  a bit of nourishment I’m ready for a fun activity here at the Inn and my very favorite activity is letter writing.

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The pleasure of a letter

On an ordinary day I’ll  write one letter with my first cup of coffee and another letter later in the afternoon, but on an Inn Day I can spurge. Today I write five “search letters” first thing.  As a member of The Letter Exchange (www.letter-exchange.com), a wonderful organization for letter writers, I regularly answer ads in the club’s magazine from people all around the world, people who seek correspondents and friendship.

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I keep my postman busy sending out cards and letters daily.

 I call my letters of introduction  to these people my “search letters” because like Queen Isabella sending out ships in search of treasure, my “search letters” go forth seeking  out new pen friends who I treasure.  Letters from these pen friends arrive daily.    My post man picks up my letters and  delivers more  to my door. What fun!

William James, the 19th century American philosopher once said, “As long as there are postmen life will have zest”.  He was so right!

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Sealing wax is used on every letter stamping a “C” initial at the end.

 The Art of Letter writing is not dead and gone as so many think.  It is alive, well, and quite delightful – art that is personal, expressive, creative and lasting.  It’s become my mission to spread the word concerning the pleasures of a letter.  Too many people are oblivious to this delightful art form.  I hope you’re not one of them.

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Country Inn Day agenda

It’s so nice to step out of my regular routine one day a week and escape to a Country Inn Day. Here I’m free to do whatever the spirit moves me to do.  I think a little work sprinkled into a week is a very good thing because it helps us fully appreciate our free time. But too much work or even too much free time can be trouble. It’s the rich mix of work and play, just the right blend, that seems to do the trick, at least for me. How ’bout for you?

If you’re designing Inn Days of your own I suggest you start by creating a list of your favorite pleasures.  Simply creating this list can be great fun even before you partake in the activities.  I created a basic list but it is so long I never expect to fit all these pleasures into one  24 hour period so I choose just a few to enjoy each Country Inn Day. I could enjoy coffee or lunch out or perhaps fuss over a lovely afternoon tea. Some days it’s nice to have cocktails with a “dead friend”.  I just pull out a biography of some interesting person from the past and as I sit comfortably with my drink reading, I feel as if that person is with me, telling me their story.  They really are too.  They’re truly with me if only “in spirit”.

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The Red Lion Inn dining room

I would love  to slip away to the dining room of my favorite Red Lion Inn for dinner each and every Country Inn Day, but since it’s about 500 miles away that’s not usually possible.  So the next best thing is to get busy as Innkeeper/ Cook creating a pleasant meal and table setting for two, or maybe more if I feel like entertaining. The creativity involved is fun.  Why have pretty things if we don’t use and share those things regularly? Country Inn Days give me the opportunity to use my nicest china, crystal and linen and the presentation is not only for me and any guests I might have.  I”ll photograph  the setting and then create photo note cards for my correspondence. In doing so I enjoy the fruits of my efforts over and over again and sharing doubles the joy.

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One picture on a photo note is worth a thousand words

You don’t need to explain what you’ve been doing when you send a card with a picture like this one on its cover page.  Whether we dine by ourselves or with a host of others it’s fun to fuss a little now and then. We’re worth it, aren’t we?

Other of my basic Inn activities are the letter writing  which I already mentioned, time creating rituals for daily life, lovely spa activities, and all those other favorite things I like to do.  Making a list of our favorite things is fun.  Have you done that lately?  Oscar Hammerstein II wrote, “I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”  But when I think of my favorite things, list them, and then make them happen,  I feel better then “not so bad”.  I feel GREAT!  On Country Inn Days favorite things are the main events, thinking about them, listing them, and then making them a reality.

Creating rituals is a wonderful Inn activity for as attention is paid to the details of ordinary tasks those tasks become much more enjoyable whether they’re done on Inn Days or on any ordinary day. Some of my favorite rituals relate to menu planning, reading, housework, letter writing and entertaining. Without a carefully thought-out ritual in place it’s sometimes hard for me to get started with even my most favorite activity, but once a ritual is designed that same activity becomes automatic and full of grace.

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The boudoir

The bath is a great place to dream up rituals.  While  enjoying spa time the mind is free to be creative.  Why not use that time to think up ways to make every day more and more special?  No one is going to do the thinking for us.  It’s our job and a delightful job it can be.

Work and worry are sturdy weeds, but joy requires cultivation.

 A Country Inn Day is a day to not only stop and smell the roses. It’s also a day to cultivate joy.

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“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.” — Charles W. Eliot (President of Harvard, 1869-1909)
I’ll leave you now for I have a date with Sara Ban Breathnach.  She has some ideas to share with me, ideas from her book “Romancing the Ordinary”. I’m hoping she’ll inspire more Country Inn Day pleasures and if she does, you can be sure I’ll share them with you because sharing doubles the joy. Yes it does.

See you next time at the Inn and till then

Live richly.

A Winter’s Country Inn Day

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The Jeremiah Brown House 1853
On some Country Inn Days when the weather is cold and snowy it’s nice to stay all cozy and warm at the Inn not venturing out at all.  That’s today!  Though it’s a bit gloomy outside, inside the Inn is bright and buzzing with activity for the Innkeeper, the Inn chef, the Inn maid, the Inn gardener, and the Inn guest are all keeping quite busy… and all those people are me!

As you may or may not know the magic of Country Inn Days has the power to transform me into all these characters as I use my imagination.  What fun I have!  I hope you are in the habit of using your imagination too.

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One of the Inn’s new rooms

The Jeremiah Brown House, my 1853 Country Inn of imagination, is where I spend much of my time, and its been undergoing an addition ever since last Summer.  The Innkeeper, me, has been busy buying furniture and designing the new rooms.  Today I stroll this and other rooms imagining how it soon will look for workers are coming in a day or two to sand, stain, and finish the floors and once the floors are finished the furniture will be delivered and then it won’t be long  till guests can be entertained at the Inn once again. I’m anxious for that day to come because I can’t wait to host my sharing teas and dinner parties once more.  This place is not for me alone.  It must be shared  with friends and family.  Sharing doubles the joy.

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A few garden books from the Inn’s library
As Innkeeper I study the new rooms, but as Inn gardener I  have other things to do. A gardener can’t work outside when the snow is a few feet deep and the temperature is only 29 degrees, but she can study the gardens found in books to give her ideas and that’s exactly what I’m doing on this cold Winter day.

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One particular book with lots of lovely old fashioned garden ideas is “Grandmother’s Garden” by May Brawley Hill.    It features gardens popular from 1865 to 1915.  Though my Inn was built earlier, it was still around in those later years too, so this book just might have some fine ideas for me. I do love old world ways and the Jeremiah Brown House needs old world ways to keep hold of its historic character.

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There’s never a dull moment on a Country Inn Day.  So many things to do.  As Inn maid I always seem to have  ironing waiting at the Ironrite, the ironing machine I inherited from my mother.  It makes ironing table linens a breeze.  And of course the Inn always uses fresh, crisp linens in its  dining room.

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What’s cooking?

The linens have to be prepared but the Inn cook, me, has other work to do in the kitchen.  Busy, busy, busy!  A new kitchen is being designed here, but until the new kitchen is ready the old kitchen works just fine. It will become a butler’s pantry when the new kitchen is finished. I’ve always wanted a butler’s pantry.

Here in the old kitchen I’m preparing a menu of  chicken with wine  accompanied by a pasta containing carrots,  mushrooms, and caraway seeds.  This pasta is seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika.  There’s also  an asparagus flan in the works.

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Asparagus Flan

This flan combines asparagus, bacon, eggs, milk, and heavy cream, with parsley, salt and pepper.  It bakes in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees – very French!

I hope the Inn guest, me,  enjoys the meal.  I’m sure she will.  After all, she’s been enjoying the whole day free from  her usual music work.  All regular daily activities are aborted on Country Inn Days in favor of other playful and relaxing Inn experiences.   One of the Inn’s wonderful relaxing experiences is snuggling up with a good book.  Today that book is Jane Austen’s  “Mansfield Park”.

And another favorite activity at the Inn, or anywhere at all, is letter writing. I am an avid letter writer.   Today I’ve written two letters – one to my  pen friend Amelia in Minnesota and another letter to Susie in Virginia. As my dear “dead friend” Lord Byron always said – “Only in letter writing do we have solitude and society simultaneously.”   How true that is.  I relax all by myself at the Inn but I’m able to connect with friends through letters.

How nice it is to get away from it all without packing and traveling long distances.  Of course I would love to bop over to my favorite Red Lion Inn in the Berkshires of Massachusetts every week, but that’s not possible. Having my Country Inn Days really helps keep me amused between my visits there.  Just a little imagination makes the simple things in life great fun.

What was it Mary Poppins said? – “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.  You find the fun and then the job’s a game”!  She was so right.  My Country Inn Days truly make ordinary life a sort of game.  And adults have to play too.

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The dinner bell has rung.  I must leave you now. Linens, candlelight and a yummy meal just for me, well, for my hubby too.  He always joins me on my Inn getaways. Others check into the Inn too, but I’ll tell you about them another time.  So I have to run.

After dinner perhaps a bubble bath and then hopping into a warm and cozy bed with sweet dreams ahead.

There’s nothing like a Country Inn Day, a day to  hibernate at the Inn and escape from the world if that’s what I need or it could be a day out in the world  exploring favorite places and looking for adventure.

I’m happy you joined me today because  sharing doubles my joy.  It really does.  Maybe now you’ll go off on your own Country Inn Day adventure.  If you do, let me know.  I’d love to hear all about it.

Till next time.

Bye

Country Inn “Travel” Day – New York City

New York City
New York City

I have all sorts of Country Inn Days. For some I stick around the Inn and relax, but for others a little exploration is in order and so this Country Inn Day takes me to New York City where my son Patrick happens to work and live.  How nice to kill two birds with one stone, or shall I say trip.  I get to visit with my dear son who I don’t see often enough while at the same time experiencing new and  favorite places.  This is not a Country Inn Day.  This is a Country Inn Week.

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So I take to the skies. New York here I come!

Come along with me.  Sharing doubles my joy.

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The Cloisters
I love museums.  Do you?  Well, one very interesting New York museum is a remote branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art called  The Cloisters.  This museum not only looks just like a medieval monastery, but it is also filled with medieval art.  And as you can see the museum also has period gardens which the Inn Gardener in me really loved seeing.  Take a look at just a few of the treats for the eye found in this amazing place.

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 My son Patrick and I climbed up the hill which housed the museum and we climbed back down again.  All along the way we saw wonderful gardens and vistas like this terraced area where a wedding ceremony was taking place.

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And here’s the happy wedding party!

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There were beautiful views of the Hudson River from the Cloister’s hilltop location.

Nature and art!

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But on another day we skipped the nature and ventured to the main branch of the Metropolitan Art Museum. Here I am with a million other people.  This is one popular place.  I was anxious to see the many period rooms housed here, but also a special exhibit of Charles James’ ball gowns.

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Perhaps you’ve seen this poster advertising the exhibition.

Here are just a few of James’ beautiful gowns.

And here are just a few of the wonderful old world rooms we enjoyed seeing.  There were so many more.

Of course all this sightseeing makes people mighty hungry and luckily for us, and all other New Yorkers, it’s not hard to find good places to enjoy a meal in this city.  With it being warm Summer evening Patrick and I were looking for an outdoor restaurant where we could enjoy the lovely weather while watching all the many interesting people passing by.

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And we found Gina’s.  Cute, isn’t it?

Nothing like a little liquid refreshment before dinner.

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The Plaza Hotel

We enjoyed lots of delicious eating and drinking on this Country Inn Week of fun.  There was the day we went to The Plaza Hotel for a spot of tea.

Patrick and me having our tea.
Patrick and me having our tea.

Then there was the evening we enjoyed drinks at the Ritz hotel on Central Park.  Of course these drinks came after we walked and walked and walked the grounds of  beautiful Central park.

New York's Central Park
New York’s Central Park

Please enjoy a few images of this beautiful park.

 

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Of course what made this Country Inn Week extra special and wonderful for me was that I was able to share it with my son Patrick.  I’ll have to plan another Country Inn Week, or at least another Country Inn Day, with my other favorite boys too.  These boys are my other son Rory and my husband Bill.  Country Inn Days are usually best enjoyed solo, but now and again adding family is a nice touch.

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Travel is fun all right, but all the walking, and all the steps, are pretty tiring for an old girl like me.  It makes one mighty thirsty.  Good thing the Ritz hotel at Central Park was nearby.

Approaching the Ritz
Approaching the Ritz Hotel at Central Park.

I happen to love Ritz hotels.  My favorite Ritz was in Boston until the beautiful old hotel on Boston’s Public Garden was sold.  Now it’s a Taj hotel.  But that’s another story.  After a day walking in Central Park Patrick and I were ready to relax.  We entered the doors of the Ritz and the peaceful and beautiful ambiance was just the thing.  See for yourself.

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The peaceful cocktail lounge

But as lovely as the cocktail lounge was I liked the ladies rest room even more.

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Pretty, isn’t it?

My entire Country Inn Travel Week was filled with one great experience after another.  The fun and exploration went on and on.

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Maison Kayser

There were lots of breakfasts and lunches at this French cafe.

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Union Square

There was shopping in Union Square and more than one lunch at the Union Square Cafe.

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Melissa and me

It was at this Cafe I met one of my lovely pen friends for a tasty lunch.  Melissa lives in Long Island and she was sweet to come to Manhattan so we could have a nice long chat over lunch.  I bought myself, the Inn chef, a souvenir from this restaurant too, The Union Square Cafe Cookbook.  Fun cooking ahead!

There was so much more.  I’ve only scratched the surface of my Country Inn Travel Week away.

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There were the great city parks where I sipped a mocha from Starbucks each day writing postcards and resting in between excursions.

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Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

And of course I had to pop into Saint Patrick’s and thank God for all the fun I was having.  I stayed in New York only one week.  I would’ve happily stayed longer, but a week on the go in New York was about all I could take.

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Patrick and me in Bryant Park

Patrick was a terrific host.  Imagine, putting your mother up for an entire week!

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But I was running out of gas.  I had to get home to rest and recharge.  Keeping up with this twenty something young man took a lot out of me, but it put a lot into me too – lots and lots of great memories.

And I’ll be back to New York on some other Country Inn Travel Week!

You should take a trip to New York City too if you haven’t been there for a while or ever. It’s one great city and this was one great Country Inn Travel Getaway.

Glad you could join me.

Country Inn “Family”Day

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That’s my mom, Lottie, the little girl with the bow in her hair who is standing between her mother and father along with her 8 brothers and sisters.

“The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have past at home in the bosom of my family”…  Thomas Jefferson

Some Country Inn Days are meant for relaxing,  taking time out to lounge and enjoy simple pleasures. Some Country Inn Days are much more active.  They take me out and about offering adventure and enrichment.  And then there are still other Country Inn Days that put me to work. On these days I assume the roles of Innkeeper,  Inn chef  and Inn maid inviting friends and relatives over to join me at the Inn where I try my best to entertain them.

My spiritual lessons keep advising me to do things for others and what are my favorite things to do?  I love hosting afternoon teas, intimate dinner parties and casual get-togethers.  I have learned when I give good things come back to me so it is my pleasure to give of myself often by entertaining others.  My husband and I have worked hard to create a pleasant place in which to live but we have discovered sharing this place doubles our joy.  This place is not for us alone.

I was blessed with a big close family.  My Mom was one of 8 and my Dad was one of 10.   I have more cousins than I can count.  Growing up my aunts and uncles were forever popping in for a cup of coffee, a sandwich ,or the out-of -towners would come for a weekend stay.  I loved this company and so did my parents. They always seemed extra happy when their sisters and brothers came to call.  Now, all these years later, my parents are gone as are all my aunts and uncles – all 32 of them, but I have first cousins and second cousins and third cousins and first cousins once removed and first cousins twice removed etcaetera etcaeterorum.

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I’m happy to say I still have a great family and any time of year is a great time to invite them over to the Inn, but especially when the roses are in bloom

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and the day lilies grace us with their presence. Of course I can’t host my whole huge family at any one time.  It’s a lot easier for me to invite my relatives over in small groups, so now and then I send out the call to see who’s in town and available for a visit.

On this particular Country Inn “Family” Day these are the folks who came to call.

Relatives from 18 to 80 years of age filled the Inn with smiles,  fun, and conversation. There’s something special about young and old coming together, sharing and caring for each other even though we’re all leading distinctly different lives.  Cultivating love, interest and understanding in family life encourages  love, interest and understanding in relationships outside our immediate circle.  And besides that, it’s just fun to get together.

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And that’s why some of my regular Country Inn Days are declared  Country Inn “Family” Days where I have fun playing the part of Inn Chef as I prepare a little food for my guests and Innkeeper as I welcome everyone to the Inn attending to them.   After that I just let the love between us take over.

It’s all great fun.  Creating the event is artplay, like creating a painting or a piece of music. Socializing with loved ones warms the heart as nothing else can…

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and when the event is over I don’t even mind playing the part of Inn Maid as I clean up for I’m filled with a contented feeling knowing I did my part to keep the family together and close.  I’m also left with memories and pictures too that will last my whole lifetime and beyond.

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That’s my dad, Joe, standing in a dark suit along with his parents and his nine brothers and sisters.
I think my parents would be happy that the love they had for family is being kept alive by those of us who have come after them.  It’s my hope that one day we’ll all be together again, but till that day, as the old song declares, we must love the ones we’re with, and that’s exactly what I do on Country Inn “Family” Days.

Country Inn “Hudson” Day

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The Hudson Clocktower
As you may already know a Country Inn Day is a sort of “stay-cation day” where I step out of my usual routine and imagine my 1853 house is a Country Inn, but by using my imagination I add play to the agenda.  I play the part of Innkeeper, Inn Chef, Inn Gardener, Inn Maid and Inn guest.

These days are not always spent entirely at the Inn either.  I’ll often venture out into my town, or nearby towns, and act as a tourist.  After all, though long distance travel can be wonderful it’s also expensive and  exhausting so checking into my personal Country Inn where all my clothes and books and other favorite things  are already in place is so much more convenient.  Besides,  it’s fun to look at familiar sites with new eyes.  Do you take the time to do this too?  I hope so.  We often don’t appreciate the good things right in our own backyards.

I’ll hop on my bike and head for town.  There’s a farm market happening on the Village Green and on a Summer’s Day what could be more fun?

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Because my Inn is less than a mile from the center of town it took only a few delightful minutes to bike down the quiet village streets to get to the Green where all the action was taking place and here I was.  Ta Da!

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I already bought a cauliflower and put it in my basket, but let me show you what else I found.

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There was the plant stand with all the pretty flowers.  I had a nice chat with the vendor as I played the part of Inn Gardener asking questions concerning the  potted plants at the Inn.  The sales lady was very helpful and though I was tempted to buy everything I controlled myself.   The Inn is currently under construction –  an addition is in progress. Funds are being saved for major landscaping projects, but it was sure nice to look at all the pretty flowers for sale.

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There were olive oils to consider – so many different kinds.

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And I had a lot of fun talking to these Slovenian ladies who were selling their homemade bakery.  I bought a nut roll to pop in the freezer and take out for the Inn’s 4th of July party.  These ladies let me sample all sorts of their other goodies and since the vendors right beside them offered me coffee I had quite a nice brunch.

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Here’s the coffee man.  He runs a shop in the town of Kent.  You’ve heard of Kent State University?  Well, his shop is near the University on North Water Street in Kent.  His coffees are  called Black Squirrel Blend.  They are Fair Trade and organically grown.  I was told the next time I’m in Kent if I drop into his shop I can watch him roast the coffee beans.  That sounds like fun for another Country Inn “Outing” Day.

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I strolled around the Green, talked to a few people I knew and admired all the produce that was being offered.

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Vegetables picked that very day!  How could you get your produce any fresher unless you grew it yourself?

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But there was so much more to see besides food and garden items.  I had a nice chat with these ladies who represented Dining for Women.  This is a national organization which creates educational opportunities for at-risk girls and empowers nomadic women in Niger by offering them education and mentoring so they are able to develop new income-generating skills.

Members of this group gather together once a month bringing a dish to share at one of their homes.  The money they would have spent for a lunch out is contributed to the cause.  Perhaps your town has a Dining for Women chapter too.  Sharing is a good thing indeed.

I also had chats with The Friends of Hudson Parks, The Zonta Club of Hudson – another organization advancing the status of women in our community and worldwide, Velosano – a group of bikers that raises money to cure cancer.  (Velosano in Latin means “swift cure”  and there I was with my own bike so members urged me to join their cycling event.)  I also spoke with a gal representing The Hudson Newcomers Club even though I’m a Hudson old timer.  We spoke about me giving the members a talk about my favorite subject, The Art of Letter writing.

The Newcomers Club has a neat slogan – “Remember every good friend was once a stranger”.  I told Emily, The Newcomer representative, my favorite slogan – “Sharing doubles the joy and divides the sorrow.”  Letter writing is a great way to share and so is blogging.

What a fun and entertaining morning I had on this Country Inn Day.  I got a little exercise riding my bike, did a little shopping, had some good coffee and tasty Slovenian treats, met some old and new friends partaking in delightful conversation and all the while enjoying a classic Summer experience, a farm market.

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Country Inn Days are full of simple pleasures. We don’t have to go far away to treat ourselves to a vacation from life’s usual routine.  We can find it in our own town.  We can find it in our own home.  If we are the artists of our lives we’ll step off the treadmill of modern life regularly and give ourselves permission to focus on beauty and joy.

My Country Inn Days are composed of activities  which refresh mind, body and spirit. Some Inn days focus on the physical – spa days for example.  Some Inn days focus on the social – sharing tea and intimate dinner parties.  Some Inn days are quite intellectual – days where I treat myself to the theater or a Cleveland Orchestra Concert, and other Inn days are especially spiritual –  my spiritual retreat days.

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But most Country Inn Days have a little of everything all rolled up into one 24 hour package.  I flit from Innkeeper preparing my afternoon tea to Inn guest enjoying it.  I read a little, cook a little, garden a little, wash up the dishes a little, pray a little, nap a little and it all amounts to a whole LOT of joy

Joy is important.  And it just doesn’t happen.  Work and worry are sturdy weeds, but joy requires cultivation. Country Inn Days are my days especially designed to cultivate joy.  I hope you’re cultivating joy too.  And when you experience joy don’t forget to pass it on.

Perhaps you have your own version of Country Inn Days.  I’d love to hear about them. Maybe you’ll share a good idea with me, an idea I can incorporate into my own Inn days.  That would be great!  So until next time…

Take Joy!

Country Inn “Travel” Day

 

 

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German Village, Columbus Ohio
Even though I can have wonderful Country Inn Day experiences staying in or close to my Inn of imagination,  my 1853 home, it is sometimes great fun to go beyond my little town of Hudson, Ohio and do a little (or a lot) of exploration.  And so I took a trip to German Village which is two hours south of Hudson.

German Village is a historic neighborhood (and I love historic neighborhoods) just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio’s state capital.  It was settled in the early – to – mid 19th century by a large number of German immigrants who at one time comprised as much as one third of the city’s entire population.

German Village is listed on The National Register of Historic Places and was made a “Preserve America Community” by the White House.  It is one of the premier historic restorations in the world.

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The Book Loft

My travel day in German Village began at a wonderful book shop called The Book Loft. This shop boasts of having 32 rooms of books for sale and each room has a different style of music playing to entertain shoppers as well as to tempt them to buy the musical cds. It would be easy for a book lover like me to spend the entire day in such a place

 

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but after a considerable amount of time browsing I tore myself away, strolling out along the shops beautifully flower-filled alley way, but not empty handed.

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I came away with two books, this one by Martha Stewart because living a good  and long life is important to me as it is to Martha.  Her book has a little bit of everything in it – healthy eating, healthy fitness, healthy brain, healthy home… you get the idea.  I was tempted by books in all these categories, but Martha had a little of everything rolled up into one.

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My other purchase was this lovely and artful book entitled “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life”.  It contains information about the plants and places that inspired Beatrix to write her wonderful storybooks.  Beatrix is one of my “dead friends” so I’m always looking for books like this one.   Beatrix can’t share her life with me in person these days since she moved far off to heaven, but the right books allow her to share with me in a different, but still very delightful way.

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But time flew in the book shop and I was getting hungry so my next stop was a wonderful restaurant called Lindy’s.

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Lindy’s is a convivial American bistro featuring a copper-topped bar and a surf ‘n’ turf menu.

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 I love the elegance of white tablecloths so Lindy’s dining room was the place for me.  I was seated at this table near a window.  Yes!

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Here with Beatrix at my side (via her book) I ordered a delicious lunch, glass of wine and then relaxed with coffee from this nifty french press stainless steel pot.

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Looking out the window at the gas lamps and the historic buildings as I enjoyed my lunch made it easy to imagine I was back in time with Beatrix.  I was very happy with this restaurant but I had no idea what lay just outside. something that could’ve made my lunch experience even better on this glorious weather day.  Can you guess what it is?

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Lindy’s has an outdoor patio nestled in trees and decorated with lots and lots of beautiful flowers.  Who knew?

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Well, now I know and so do you so next time either of us venture to Lindy’s on a beautiful day we’ll know to take a table out of doors amidst  the fresh air and flowers where the birdies can serenade us.

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But it was now time to hit the brick-lined streets and sidewalks, time to take a stroll around the village.  There were houses and their gardens to investigate.  Let me share a little of what I saw along the way.

So many charming houses with postage stamp size gardens that were small but absolutely lovely.  There were  patios and porches, all  carefully designed and well appointed.  It was delightful and inspiring to stroll along and view such beauty, but after a while it was also time to sit down and rest.  Luckily there was a park just ahead.

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What a welcome sight for my tired feet.

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I found a park bench, invited Beatrix to join me once again by pulling out my new book,  and there in solitude, but with society all around me, I enjoyed the beauty of nature on this Country Inn “Travel” Day.

See?

Ah nature!

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous 

Aristotle

I enjoyed everything about this Country Inn Day, but as usual it went by far too quickly. The bookstore, the charming restaurant, strolling past pretty gardens, houses and then this peaceful  park.  What a pleasant day!

My Country Inn Days are always wonderful escapes.  Be they days where I play the part of Innkeeper and Inn Chef hosting afternoon teas and dinner parties or days where I delight as Inn Guest jaunting around in search of culture, adventurous expeditions or spiritual retreats… whatever the itinerary I know a Country Inn Day will be a break from routine and the break will do me a world of good.  Some Country Inn Days are spent entirely at the Inn with no unusual activities at all, just lots and lots of simple pleasures –  leisurely walks , bubble baths, letter writing, piano playing, reading, art play and always time spent in imagination.

After all, we must be the artists of our lives creating days which make our hearts sing. Lord Chesterfield (another of my “dead friends”) an 18th century British statesman and man of letters once said, “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it.”  Sometimes that’s hard to do on a daily basis, but it’s easy to do on a Country Inn Day so I’m sure to schedule one each and every week.  Country Inn Days step in and I step out of all regular routines.

I’m so happy you could join me for at least a little of my Country Inn “Travel” Day  Why?  You know.

Sharing Doubles the Joy.

Hope to see you next time wherever Country Inn Days will take us.

Country Inn “Spiritual” Day

 

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Stan Hywet Hall
Whenever I’m in need of some spiritual uplift I come here, to Stan Hywet Hall in Akron Ohio.  It is a notable country estate, the former home of F.A. Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.  He had the house built between 1912 and 1915 and it now ranks as the 12th largest house in the United States.  Stan Hywet Hall is built in the Tudor Revival style and sits on 70 acres of property.

But though I love country houses and this is a very fine country house, I don’t come here to see the house.  I come here to spend time in its gardens.

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The entrance gates at Stan Hywet
As I enter the gates of this estate I like to imagine I’m leaving earth all together and coming home to heaven, to my heavenly father, just as a college student might leave school for a time in order to rest and revive herself  in the presence of  family. Living life on this earth is actually a lot like going to school.  Here on earth we’re constantly learning and being tested.  Hopefully we’re growing in many ways, but it’s not always easy.

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In fact, sometimes it’s very hard as it has been this month for me losing my precious doggie, Alexander.  He died in my arms on May 13th from old age and because of this great loss I really needed to come here to the garden to spend quiet time with God talking and listening.

Years ago my sister Elaine and I wrote a song.  I composed the music and Elaine composed  the lyrics.  I think of this song whenever I come here to the garden to spend time with God.  Let me share the lyrics with you.

“I speak to God, God speaks to me

In silence, soft sweet silence.

He knows I’m here, I know he’s near

In silence, soft sweet silence.

We sit and listen give and take

 sharing secrets for love’s sake.

I speak to God, God speaks to me

In silence, soft sweet silence.”

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The English garden room

I love to sit in the English garden and talk to God, pour out my heart and then listen for his response by reading from one of my spiritual books, books like “God Calling”.  This book was written by two listeners and edited by A. J. Russell.  These listeners claim that the messages they wrote had been given to them by The Living Christ Himself.  Who is to say just how this could be, but the messages are definitely a spiritual stimulus to me and to many thousands of other people as well.

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As I sit looking at the sculpture and fountain in Stan Hywet’s English Garden these words from “God Calling” come to me, “What can I say to you?  Your heart is torn. Then remember “He bindeth up the broken hearts.”  That is me with a broken heart over my doggie’s death.

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I talk to God telling him how I feel as I walk around gazing at all the lovely stonework, the flowers and the plants.  Then I sit here to read from one of my spiritual books.  I am reminded that “Sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  I believe this.  I know God wants us to be happy and carry on courageously even after we’ve had great loss.  We must be strong and brave.  With his help I will try to be just that.

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I read that God expresses his great love for us through the beauty of nature and as I gaze upon these roses climbing their way up the trellis to the sky my heart leaps up along with them.

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I’m told In quietness and in confidence shall be my strength.  The quiet and beauty of this garden is comforting and in turning away from the world , tuning to God I feel energized.

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I stroll through the Japanese garden and here I am told all is well.  The plants are so lovely to behold and the design is so ordered.  There is a sense of peace here and that peace runs over onto me.  I’m told nature is but the expression of Eternal Thought in Time.  The eternal is what matters above all and though this fact can easily be forgotten when out in the world here in this garden it seems quite believeable.

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I walk through the Birch alley and I feel so safe as the beautiful trees seem to wrap me in their soft shimmering branches.  I would like to stay here forever, not go back to my life outside this garden with its assorted challenges.  I don’t quite feel up to them just now but I’m told “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  And you know, somehow I believe it.

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I enter the rose garden and I’m overcome with the sheer beauty all around me.  Though I arrived at these gardens with little enthusiasm for life, feeling sad and downtrodden, the beauty of nature has cheered and inspired me just as it did for the characters in that famous novel, “The Secret Garden” .  It’s hard to look at beauty and not feel uplifted just as it’s hard to put a smile on your face, even if it’s forced, and not feel at least a little bit better. I read, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

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I’m told to look for the beauty in the world and not just look at it, but absorb it and then pass it on to others through a smile or a kind word.  I’m told that nature is the embodied Spirit of God’s thoughts of beauty for the world and we can truly live a life not of the earth, but a heavenly life here and now IF we connect ourselves more closely to God.  I believe this.  I feel this connection here in nature.

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It’s easy to feel connected to God here in this garden.  It will be harder when I’m back out in the world beyond, but I’m told to keep close to God by reading his words because the “Words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are Life.”  Do you read scripture?  I will be reading scripture when I return to my earthly home for I love this feeling that I have here in the garden, this very heavenly feeling,  and I want it to continue.  I’m told to trust in God and the consciousness of Him will maintain this feeling of joy I’m now experiencing.

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I leave the rose garden and enter the grape arbor and God says, “Walk with me. I will teach you.”  He tells me life is a school and there are many teachers.  He tells me we must say thank you on our greyest days.  We must be glad all the time.  We must rest in Him.  We must never be afraid.  We must pray more.  We must trust Him.

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I’m told to ponder the truths I’ve been given and to search and I will find more.  The secrets of the Kingdom of heaven are there for us to discover, the hidden pearls of great price.  We might live in the world, but we’re really not of the world.  We’re meant for heaven.  I believe it.  Don’t you?

I came to this garden in a dreary frame of mind.  I came for help, to reconnect with spirit, and that I did.  I still grieve for my precious little doggie, Alexander, but if God created animals for our pleasure and joy I can’t believe he wouldn’t  let us reunite with them when we leave this world and move on to heaven for all eternity.  I’m hoping I see Alexander again but in the meantime I will not only try to live with joy, I will share that joy with others for I believe that’s what God wants us to do.

My Country Inn “Spiritual” Day was most refreshing.  I am inspired to keep the faith and work at enriching it through study, prayer and good works.

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But before I leave this heavenly garden I sit here amidst the hemlocks and say this  prayer.

Our Lord, with a heart full of new life and enthusiasm

I thank Thee for the beauty found in nature

and all Thy marvelous teachings

which you showered on me

today.

Peace and Joy to you too.