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

Come on to my house

There’s something about an old house.  My house, the Jeremiah Brown house, was built in 1853.  Jeremiah, the builder and first owner, was half-brother to the famous, or infamous, abolitionist John Brown.  The Browns grew up here in Hudson.  Guns used by John at Harper’s Ferry were stored in the original barn.  Ah history!

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The house sits on a couple of acres.   Its lawn is marked with majestic old trees.  I think Treelawn might be a very nice name for the property.

There’s a barn here, but these days no chickens or cows occupy it.  Now the barn serves as a 3-car garage.  There’s also an outbuilding.  The outbuilding is a sort of detached family room, rather impractical by modern standards, but oh so romantic.  When I light a fire in its wood-burning fireplace and look out its five windows at nature I feel like I’m far, far away, perhaps in the mountains of Massachusetts or New Hampshire.  A little imagination goes a long way without actually going a long way away.

I’m not quite sure why I love old houses as I do.  Why do any of us love anything?  But perhaps the fact that  both sets of my European grandparents lived in old houses might have something to do with it.  Experiencing love in such places at an early age might have left its mark.

Though my husband and I are  constantly making efforts  to fix up our old house, I had  very tender feelings for the place the very first time I saw it, even in its dilapidated condition. Most people would’ve taken one look and run!  Most people did just that!  But I often feel more affection for old houses  before they’ve been refurbished.  Houses seem to look older when left alone for years,  more the product of an earlier age, more romantic.  If a house is crying for care I feel a sympathy for it much as I would feel sympathy and tenderness for a lost or forlorn puppy dog.  I guess you have to be an old house lover to understand.  If you are such a person I’d like to share one of my favorite poems with you.  Why?  You know.  Sharing doubles the joy.

It’s called “The House with Nobody in It” by Joyce Kilmer.  Enjoy!

The House with Nobody in It

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I’ve past it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.

I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn’t haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn’t be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

This house on the road to Suffren needs a dozen panes of glass.
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
But what it needs the most of all are some people living inside.

If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I’d put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I’d buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
And I’d find some people who wanted a home and give it to them for free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in a store,
But there’s nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known.

But a house that has done what a house should do, a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has sheltered a baby’s laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it’s left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So whenever I go to Suffren along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters falling apart,
For I can’t help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.