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!

The Personal Letter

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I love the artistic and personal aspect of letters, don’t you?  The one-to-one… Some messages can be posted on Facebook or written up in a blog and that’s fine, but other messages are meant to be shared with only particular people.  There’s something magical about writing and receiving personal letters – where you know the words are meant just for you or for one special friend.  As I like to say in the talk I give on The Art of Letter Writing –

“The pleasure of a letter written just to me… why there’s practically a radiance to it!”

I can’t help but relate the subject of personal touch to the very different kinds of in-person conversations we might have. Talking to a group of people at a big party, as opposed to an intimate dinner or tea, suggests very different talk. There are many subjects we just wouldn’t want to bring up in a large crowd.  Not only do we have to generalize our topics when lots of people are participating, but some information we would want to share with only certain people.  And so it is with our writing.  If a letter isn’t personal, if it’s just a lot of general chatter, it’s not nearly as special to write or receive.  And it’s this Personal Touch that’s suffering in our modern age of electronic communication.

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 Today I spent part of the morning at a farmer’s market in my town of Hudson.  I had a wonderful time strolling around, looking at all the goodies I might purchase.  In the next few letters I write I’ll go into some details of my shopping experience if the particular correspondents enjoy this sort of thing, but other letter friends not interested in farmer’s market shopping won’t be bothered with these stories. That’s the thing, each letter we write (hand write I hope) and all our topics of conversation should be tailor-made to interest each of our correspondents. To make each letter we write unique, one-of-a-kind, (not like those carbon-copied holiday letters ) aimed at the interests of our correspondents, that’s one of the secrets to making a good  and personal letter.

IMG_4650[1]You might enjoy walking past farm stands set up with produce, olive oils, candles, fresh bakery, etcaetera etcaeterorum

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feasting your eyes on vegetables and flowers which you might buy and place in your own garden

IMG_4652[1]or maybe you are the kind of person who simply likes hearing about beauty and reading descriptions of garden -like settings, with a few pictures inserted in the  letters you receive, pictures to give you ideas for your own garden .

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Maybe you’re an animal lover and you would like to hear about the people I met at the farmer’s market who run an Alpaca farm in Hudson called Whistler’s Glen Alpacas (www.whistlersglen-alpacas.com or http://www.alpacastore.com).  Those Alpacas are so cute!

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 Maybe you’re a fashionista and you’d like to hear about the sweater-coat I bought today at the farmer’s market.  It’s made from Alpaca yarn.  (Shopping is funny.  I went out today planning to buy only wax beans, but I came home with a whole lot more.)

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or maybe you’re a knitter like me and you’d like to hear about the Alpaca yarn and pattern I purchased

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in order to make this Twisted Shrug which converts into a hood or cowl scarf.   It’s worked up on size 15 needles using only one skein of Alpaca yarn (approx. 150 yards).

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But maybe you’re not like my wonderful pen friend Amelia who I wrote today.  Amelia would enjoy all the above topics.  You might not enjoy any of the above topics.  That’s ok.  If these topics bore you I’d try to find different topics you would enjoy.   After all, I don’t write friends with the intention of  boring  them to death, and I hope you don’t either.

My “dead friend’ Robert Louis Stevenson said,

“The world is so full of a number of things I think we should all be as happy as kings”.

And because there are so many things to talk about and share in our personal letters we should have no trouble picking and choosing those topics which delight both our friends and ourselves. Don’t you agree?

So till we meet again, enjoy writing and receiving  lovely personal letters.  Enjoy some reflection and then some sharing.  Hand write.  Add some original art.  The world has plenty of electronic chatter already, but what the world needs now, besides love sweet love, is more  communication with the personal touch.

Let’s Get Personal!