A Country Inn Day “Country Day”

Country Inn Days are days when I take a break from my ordinary life.  I may host a tea on such days or enjoy a day of spa activities.  I might linger around the inn relaxing and partaking in favorite activities or I might enjoy an outing day.  That’s today.  Outing days take all forms.  They could involve nature, culture, shopping, adventure, city sites or country pleasures.

Today it’s Country pleasures. . .

as I return for the umteenth time to Hale Homestead and its surrounding historic village.  As you can see from the sign out front The land for this Homestead was purchased in 1810 and the house built fifteen years later.  When I come here I not only feel I’m off in the country, but I also feel I’m going back in time.  I love the old world so visiting historic properties is one of my favorite things to do.

I enjoy Country Inn Days off by myself for this way I can stroll around at my own pace, stopping here and there, thinking and  reflecting upon all I see without distraction.  To be in nature is always a treat, but especially on a beautiful Summer’s day. I don’t know what it is but every time I come to Hale I keep hearing strains of Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” in my head.  Thinking about people long ago forging their way through untamed nature, creating homes and farms and lives in unsettled territories – it’s awe inspiring.  Could you do it?  I wonder if I could.

My Dad grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania and he would take my Mom, sister and me back to the country every July.  I know it was July because the day lilies were always in bloom along the  roadsides.  Dad loved the country and so did I and so do I yet today.  The smells, the space, the animals, and all that gorgeous nature; it’s like heaven on earth.

I love getting close to the animals

Here we see some newborn lambs with one older fellow to help them feel secure
It’s hard not to think of pork chops when I see this fellow. Pigs sure like mud.
I’m sure my grandmother had one of these speckled chickens or is it a hen? Whatever it is it sure is pretty.
And look at this big fellow – a real work horse or shall I say ox

I do love getting close to animals.  I love animals and this reminds me of what a penfriend, a Hindu nun, used to say.  She said, “Love animals.  Don’t eat them.”  Are you a vegetarian?

If you are a vegetarian or simply if you like to garden you would enjoy seeing the gardens at Hale.  There’s a big one at The Goldsmith House and small gardens here and there.  I love to garden.  Do you?

I peek inside the fences and try to identify all the plants.

My Dad told me he went to school in a one room schoolhouse so I’m always interested to visit such places.  Imagine what such an education would be like.  I stroll down the path to the school house and I like to imagine I’m back in time, my father’s time or the time of the Hale family.


And here it is


On another visit I’ll take you inside the schoolhouse.

It’s easy to feel I’m going back in time when I can talk to people dressed in period clothing telling my about the details of daily life back then.  Take this lady . . .

Earlier I visited a lady who was spinning.  She explained what yarns were used for what, but this lady talked all about how yarns were dyed.  Today I go into a yarn store and find a million yarns in beautiful colors ready for my knitting projects, but long ago it wasn’t that easy.  First you sheer the sheep, then you spin, then you dye the yarn and finally you begin your project.  Nothing was fast or easy back then.  How easy we have it now.

I love needlework. I knit, embroider, do counted cross and needlepoint.  Do you enjoy needlework?  Growing up my extended family would get together for dinners regularly and after the meal the men would congregate in one room playing cards while the ladies went to another room and pulled out their stitchery.  That was great fun.  We loved seeing what each of us was making.  We’d talk and stitch and the time flew by. . .

so when I saw this embroidery inside one of the houses at Hale it brought back memories from my own life.  I still enjoy needlework but now the young women in my family busy themselves with other things – tennis and taking their children here, there and everywhere.  They have no time for stitchery.  I now stitch on my own.  It’s still fun, but I miss the old days.

And when I came upon this dining table set beside a window in one of the old houses it reminded me of a sweet lady I used to visit down the road from my grandmother’s house in the country.  I was about six years old then and Nora was a retired school teacher  She had the most beautiful flower garden outside her window.  When I asked her how she created this garden she said it was easy.  When the bouquet of flowers on the table drooped she’s opened the window and tossed the flowers out.  Apparently they’d go to seed and automatically create the prettiest scene.  I should try that.

I do love old houses.  Do you?

“All houses wherin men have lived and died are haunted houses.” These are the first lines of a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The houses are still here, but where are the people who inhabited them?  I can’t help but wonder.

To walk inside the very rooms where people of the past enjoyed daily life is magical to me.

“The stranger at my fireside cannot see the forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear; He but perceives what is; while unto me all that has been is visible and clear.”  That’s a little more of Longfellows”s poem “Haunted Houses”.  I love that poem.  Google it. Maybe you’ll love it too.

Of course the one thing about old houses that never did appeal to me was the lack of a proper bathroom.  I’ve had personal experience with the alternative, the Outhouse.

This particular outhouse, freshly painted, looks pretty cute, but I recall as a little girl going out in the dark to the outhouse at my grandmother’s place… the wet grass, wondering what you might be stepping on in the dark. . . and then the smell.  It’s been a long time but that experience is pretty hard to forget.  I think near the end of my Grandmother’s life she did have indoor plumbing and I bet she loved it!


Coming to Hale Homestead is always a Country Inn Day “Country Day” that is a real treat for me.  I shared with you just the tiniest bit of my experience there.  To be out in nature on a beautiful day communing with plants and animals and looking back through the window of time at houses and their interiors, chatting with people who looked to be of the period – a wonderful thing.  Much to reflect upon and as Lord Byron said, “A life without reflection  is a sad affair.”

I hope you have opportunities to go off to the country and to explore the past as well.

Step out of your daily routine now and then and give yourself permission to enjoy any or all of your favorite things. – Focus on beauty.  It feels wonderful.  Then share the joy; for sharing doubles the joy.  I’ve sure enjoyed sharing my Country Inn Day with you.

So till next we meet

Love from Carol Ann, Lady of Letters

A fun Country Inn Outing Day in Peninsula

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I was having my morning coffee with “dead friend” Henry James on this Country Inn Day.  As Henry was telling me all about his travels from Paris to London and other such stories, I had an overwhelming urge to do a little traveling myself. Though I do have a trip to Paris scheduled in May, I was up for some adventure today.  Where shall I go on this Country Inn Day?  I don’t have much time for this outing, only a few hours, so my outing has to be somewhere close by.  I know!  I’ll go to Peninsula, a well-preserved 19th century town just west of Hudson.  I grabbed my coat and hat, hopped in the car, and my Country Inn Day adventure had begun.  Every adventure needn’t involve great distances,  just a spirit of fun.

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As I drove through the Cuyahoga Valley on my way to Peninsula (this area now declared a National Park) I had the distinct feeling I was back in New England.   I used to live in Boston, Massachusetts and I loved it there, but my region of Northeast Ohio, where I live now, looks very much like New England. There’s beautiful nature all around me and here in what we Ohians call the Land of The Western Reserve our old architecture is similar to the architecture of old New England.  This is because this part of Ohio was settled by Connecticut people back in the late 18th/early 19th century.

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After a short but very enjoyable ride I was entering the town.  Though I drive through Peninsula frequently on my way to other places I seldom stop and really look around.  Today, on this Country Inn Day, I did stop and smell the roses so to speak, taking notice of some of the things this town offers, and that’s what a Country Inn Day is all about.  On Country Inn Days I step out of the normal routine and operate as on holiday taking time to enjoy the sites and sounds around me and anything and everything else that is delightful in life.

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My first stop was this lovely old building.  I always admired this old Town Hall as I’d drive by it and in recent years the building was beautifully restored.  Back in 1805 Alfred Wolcott of Connecticut came here in a surveying party.  By 1811 what had been known as Range 11, Town 4 of the Connecticut Western Reserve became known as Boston Township.  Funny that I lived in Boston , Massachusetts, but now I still live very near Boston, but a different Boston (and when I did live in Boston, Massachusetts I had an apartment in Cleveland – Cleveland Circle that is, and my Hudson is a distant suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.  Rather strange how these city names follow me around – strange but neat.)  Anyway, this building is no longer a town hall, but rather serves as a museum.

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I do love history and historic buildings.  I feel visiting old towns is a little like going back into time. Country Inn Days are very educational  too for I learn a lot of things as I poke around places of interest.  Here I learned the town of Peninsula was founded in 1818 and it grew to be a prosperous place because of the Ohio and Erie Canal.  It was a bustling canal stop in the old days.  A stroll down the Main Street must’ve been fun years ago and it’s still fun today.

I enjoyed looking at every detail of each house I passed as I strolled down the street.  Here are just a few.

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Do you know this house was made from a kit?  I learned that Sears and Roebuck sold house kits way back when and these kits were very popular.  Maybe your town has some Sears and Roebuck houses too.  I know my town of Hudson has at least one, but for all I know it may have even more. This house looks like the doll house I always wanted and never had as a child.

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As I walked past this particular house with green trim and lattice work admiring it, I noticed the owner was about to pull out of his driveway so I turned around and walked up to his car.  I think it’s nice to compliment the owner of a house when we think that house is charming.  Who doesn’t like a compliment?  Well, my compliment turned into a very interesting discussion about Peninsula, houses, and art.

You see the owner of this house happened to be a retired art professor from Kent State University.  He is a painter and he taught painting there for years.  These days besides painting he also builds banjos and mandolins and he did a lot of building on and around his house too. He appreciated my interest in Peninsula and in his house and was very friendly – a typical Ohioan, so he asked me if I’d like to meet his wife and see his art studios.  Well, of course I would!  Do you see what adventures a Country Inn Day can provide?

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This man, Doug Unger, is really quite the accomplished artist.  I so enjoyed seeing both his studios – one was attached to his house and the other, A Summer studio, was a separate building out back. You can look him up on google and get his whole story.  I got a large part of his story thanks to my Country Inn Day.  What fun!

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Everywhere I looked, his studios were a feast for the eyes.  So many paintings, both oils and pastels . . . along with all the tools of an artist.  Here you see his pastels.

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Doug not only makes instruments, I believe he plays them too.

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Works of Art.

I invited Doug to tea, but he said he seldom leaves his house.  He is quite devoted to his work, but I think he would be a charming and most interesting guest one of these days so I will keep after him, keep in touch.  It’s always wonderful to expand one’s circle of friends and it’s especially wonderful when those people are interesting and full of passion for art and the art of life.

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After visiting Doug and his world I kept strolling for a while  and I popped into a few shops like this one pictured above.  It was full of one-of-a-kind art objects made by local artists – a great place to pick up a gift for a friend or a treat for yourself.

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 I had a nice chat with the shop owner too.  There was lots of socializing on this Country Inn Day.

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Actually, Peninsula had a few nice shops and this one, The Yellow Creek Trading Company, was another fun place to looks around.  Items large and small – much temptation, but today wasn’t a Country Inn Shopping Day so I held on to my money and simply enjoyed looking at all the beautiful things.  “Window shopping” if you will.

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But after a while I was getting pretty hungry so I walked farther down the street to The Winking Lizard restaurant which is housed in another old building. I remember when this place functioned as The Peninsula Nightclub with a dance floor and a different interior dynamic, but now it’s just a good place to get a bite to eat.

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I got a table on its quiet porch so I could watch the comings and goings out its ample windows.

Nice!

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I brought Beatrix Potter along with me on this Country Inn Day outing by way of a book.  The book is called  Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. I was alone enjoying my lunch, but I felt Beatrix was with me in spirit as I read of her horticulture adventures and enjoyed her very own words that were captured in her journal.  For example, one February day when she was looking out onto her garden she admired the snowdrops and wrote,

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“There are thousands in front of the windows and in the orchard and in the lane. That is why I have an untidy garden.  I won’t have the dear things dug up in the summer, they are so much prettier growing in natural clumps, instead of being dried off and planted singly.”

 

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The old Cuyahoga River as it runs through the center of Peninsula

Hearing many nature tales from Beatrix put me in a real Nature mood so after lunch I had to take a little walk along the Cuyahoga River before I left for home returning to my Country Inn.  Because this area is within the Cuyahoga National Park there are towpaths and a great many areas for exploration.  How lucky I am to live here. Beatrix would like it too.  After spending time with her at lunch I had the feeling she was along with me on my walk.

 

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 But all good things come to an end and so it was with my outing.  I was back on the road heading to my Hudson and my evening activities at the Inn.

It was a good Country Inn Outing Day.  I learned a little something about Peninsula, met a living artist and visited with a departed one.  I met a shop owner and  enjoyed nature, some window shopping, a walk, and good food too.  Perhaps my next Country Inn Day will be spent in a very  different way, but however I spend it I know it will be a refreshing break from routine because all Country Inn Days are just that.

I hope your days are fun and interesting.  It’s up to us to make them that way.  Like they say –

Seize the day!

I sure try and I hope you do too.

The spirit of an October letter

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Any time of year is the right time to enjoy the beautiful Art of Letter Writing but when temperatures fall and leaves begin to turn those rich colors of Autumn it’s especially nice to cuddle up in a cozy corner with paper and pen and write letters.

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 At this time of year my correspondents often choose stationery that reflects the beauty of the Season adding to my pleasure in receiving their letters.

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I too consider the Season when choosing or creating my stationery.  I’ll often draw  sunflowers or Autumn leaves on my letter papers.  Stationery and art play can be a large part of letter writing fun.

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Did you ever make faux postage stamps for your letter envelopes? It’s easy using your camera and a computer.  In October I like to create these stamps picturing my house with its dogwood tree in Autumn color.   Also, just for fun, I add little pumpkin men to the envelope.

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Some times in October I use a rubber stamp picturing an old spooky house.  I’ll add a tree or two, a ghost, a bit of chalk, and presto – Seasonal stationary.  There are so many possibilities.

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Then there’s color!  With Halloween around the corner it’s not unusual for me to receive letters on bright orange paper along with the talk of ghosts and goblins.  Color is fun! Some people enjoy decorating their houses for the Season, but letter writers often put that effort into the look and subject matter of their letters.

My letter friend Kim’s recent orange letter shared interesting information about the Celtic roots of Halloween –  how some 2000 years ago people thought the division between this world and the other world was at its thinnest nearing the end of October so at this time family ancestors were honored and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off.  People wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves from the evil spirits thus avoiding harm. Interesting, huh?

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Kim’s envelope was very “Halloweeny”. and besides containing a good letter it was full of goodies for me.  How nice is that?  What fun to go to the mailbox and find letters, but letters with gifts inside?  Yes!

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See?  The decorated tissues held lip gloss, little packets of body butter and the most delicious-smelling soaps. Don’t you wish you had a generous letter friend like Kim?  Hopefully you do.

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Well I like to share in my letters too.  I share all sorts of things.  In October as Halloween approaches I like to  share a little something to do with old houses.  You see, I love old houses. I enjoy living in this old house. To me old houses are romantic, gracious and mysterious for they witnessed lives and times that have come and gone.

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 I used to live in an 1829 house, but these days I live in a newer house, an 1853 house built by Jeremiah Brown, the half-brother of John Brown, the famous abolitionist.

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In Autumn, especially when Halloween is near, my thoughts wander back in time and I like to think about the people who lived in my old house and what life must have been like for them back then.  I love so many old world ways – letter writing, afternoon tea, chamber music, candlelight, things undoubtedly enjoyed by people of the past… actually I often wish I lived a hundred or two hundred years ago. but by living now I’m able to encourage these and other old world pleasures that modern people seldom consider today.

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There’s a ghost flying outside my house in October and though I’ve never actually seen any other ghosts on the property I have a feeling they’re there.

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One of my “dead friends”. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote a poem about all this and I like to share this poem with all my letter friends each October because it captures my feelings about spirits and old houses. Like Kim’s envelope this poem is very “Halloweeny” too.

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I’ve known Henry for years, first meeting him when I lived in Boston.  I met Henry at a Country Inn and I love Country Inns just as much as I love old houses.  Originally this Inn was named ‘The Wayside Inn”, but it was renamed Longfellow’s Wayside Inn after Henry wrote his “Tales of a Wayside Inn” while being a guest there.  The Inn has a lovely perennial garden and in that garden is a statue of Henry.

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Then later I discovered Henry’s beautiful house in Cambridge, Massachusetts and while there I really sensed his spirit all around me, especially in his study where he did all of his writing. I revisited his house often while living in Boston and even when I moved to Ohio I would return to Boston and pop in at Henry’s place because it was just so nice.  Funny too how one time after visiting there Henry followed me home.  You see, I decided to spend a night at The Red Lion Inn in the Massachusetts Berkshires on the way back to Ohio and whose picture was hanging outside the door to my room?  You guessed it.  It was a picture of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

Henry’s house is kept up beautifully by The Department of National Parks and within his house is a little shop which sells materials by and about Henry. It’s because of these materials which I purchased there and studied  carefully that I now feel I know Henry quite well.

These days he is a frequent companion on my Country Inn Days.  His spirit keeps me company at afternoon tea. With the help of his biography, his writings, and other books I feel we’re together, at least in spirit.  “Dead friends” are wonderful.  I hope you have some of your own.

I like so much of Henry’s work but his poem entitled “Haunted Houses” is my favorite and that’s because he puts into words all the feelings and love I have for old houses.  So here I share Henry’s poem with you.  Enjoy!

Haunted Houses

All houses wherin men have lived and died

Are haunted houses.  Through the open doors

The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,

With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them on the doorway, on the stair,

Along the passages they come an go,

Impalpable impressions on the air,

A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts

Invited; the illuminated hall

Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,

As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;

He but perceives what is; while unto me

All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;

Owners and occupants of earlier dates

From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands.

And hold in mortmain still their old estates,

The spirit-world around this world of sense

Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere

Wafts through these earthly mists and vapors dense

A vital breath of more etereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise

 By opposite attractions and desires;

The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,

And the more noble instinct that aspires.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar

Of earthly wants and aspirations high,

Come from the influence of an unseen star,

An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud

Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light,

 Across whose tremblng planks our fancies crowd

Into the realm of mystery and night,—

So from the world of spirits there descends

A bridge of light, connecting it with this,

O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,

Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

I’m sure Henry is happy that I’m writing about him and sharing his poem with my letter friends and with you for no one wants to be forgotten nor have their work  forgotten.

So when you see an old house think of me , think of Henry, and think of all those who have gone before us.  Say a little prayer.  We’re all in this life together, but someday we will all be together with Henry, off in the spirit world wherever that may be.  I’m in no hurry to get there, but it will certainly be interesting meeting Henry and others face to face or shall we say spirit to spirit.  Till then let’s celebrate life, letters, and sharing.

And as Henry used to say, “Look then in your heart and write.  I will answer.”

I’ll answer too if you leave me a comment.

Country Inn “Service” Day

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This Country Inn “Service” Day takes me to Hower House, a Victorian Mansion built in 1871 in the Second Empire Italianate style.  Hower House is a  twenty-eight room Mansion owned by Akron University and open to the public. Touring this historic house with its lavish furnishings from around the world is one way people of today can experience a bit of yesterday.

Because I am fond of old houses and Historic preservation I have recently become a Victorian, that is to say, a person who supports Hower House and its many programs. As a Victorian I volunteer my service to this house in various ways – helping out in the gift shop, serving at teas, or assisting  at special events.

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You see, years ago when I was searching for my purpose in life I stumbled upon a spiritual book entitled “A Daily Guide to Spiritual Living” by Jim Rosemergy and through this book I came to realize service should be a part of all our lives.  After patiently reading the book’s 365 daily messages and journaling on each  of those messages my purpose (and possibly yours too) was revealed.  I was told the purpose of life is to try to know God, to do all our work with joy (whatever that work is), and to be of service to others.

So, besides doing for others on a daily basis in whatever way I can now and then I like to devote an entire Country Inn Day to service and on this particular Country Inn Day my service is devoted to Hower House.

 

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Hower House is hosting its Artisan Fair and many vendors are filling each room of the mansion with their wares.  Our hostess is ready and waiting for visitors to arrive and I will be posted at various locations  through the day in order to be of service to vendors and shoppers alike.

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What fun for our visitors to enjoy this beautiful house while at the same time admiring the creative efforts of various talented artisans.  There’s the lady who works with chocolate

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 and my friend, Evelyna, who creates the most beautiful and delicious cookies and cakes.

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There are artists who make the loveliest  jewelry

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and another who presses botanicals in all sorts of ways, preserving them forever.  This particular artist  frames flowers and plants, encasing them in trays and boxes, designing note cards … and her choice of color and design is lovely to behold.

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When I wasn’t on duty I did a little shopping myself and these two pictures tied together featuring pressed culinary herbs were one of my purchases.  I think they’re very nice hanging in a kitchen where these herbs are used on a daily basis.

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I also couldn’t resist buying this exquisite cut work bed sheet from one of the antique dealers. They don’t make bed sheets like this anymore,  but I think it will also serve nicely as a cloth on the dining room table of my 1853 historic house at tea time.  Don’t you agree?

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There were all sorts of artisans at this Fair, but I was particularly happy to see the aprons that were created by the Future Story Shop.  This shop creates new aprons patterned after aprons from our grandmother’s closet.  The aprons are made by the women who live at a place called Haven of Rest.  Haven of Rest is a women’s homeless shelter and the apron project is part of ‘Lydia’s Purse International’, a project which teaches these homeless women to sew.

After speaking to the volunteer from Haven of Rest I think I have my next Country Inn “Service” Day in mind – a good thing indeed.

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We don’t generally have the fun of shopping for our bath products in an antique bathroom

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or have the pleasure of  taking in the beauty of  handcrafted art while at the same time viewing the historic art of period rooms, but this can be done at Hower House’s Artisian Fair each Spring.

I was able to enjoy service and shopping simultaneously on this Country Inn “Service” Day making it very easy for me to be of service with a smile and to do do this work with joy as directed by my spiritual book.

It truly is a good feeling to do for others helping out in any way we can.  I might play the piano in a nursing home or pay a visit to shut ins on some other Country Inn “Service” Day or I could work in a food bank, volunteer in a hospital or help out in a school.  I learned a long time ago when we give good things come back to us so giving of ourselves in any way at all is a very good thing to do. I’m sure you’ve experienced how much better you feel about yourself when you’re not only thinking about yourself all the time.

How are you being of service to others these days?  I’d love to know.  Maybe you’ll give me a good idea for one of my next Country Inn “Service” Days.

Sharing Doubles the Joy

and sharing ourselves as we serve others quadruples the joy.

But remember, only Service with a Smile counts!

It’s another Country Inn Day – Come on along

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Today and every Wednesday my 1853 home is magically transformed into a country inn where I step out of my regular routines and enjoy a little (or a lot) of imagination.  I flip from being innkeeper( hosting afternoon teas)  to inn chef (creating mouth-watering  romantic dinners) to  inn  gardener (planting and weeding) to inn maid (tidying and polishing), to inn guest.

Each of these inn characters could tell you lots of stories, and I’m sure one day you’ll hear from all of them, but today Carol Ann , as inn guest,  would like to share with you a delightful outing she enjoyed as part of her inn day.  That outing took her (me)  to a charming town called Chagrin Falls.  Why share?  You know.

 Sharing doubles the joy!

So grab your hat and off we go!

We head north east from my town of Hudson, Ohio and in about 20 minutes we find ourselves in a neighborhood that could easily be mistaken for the town of Edgartown on the island of Martha”s Vineyard, but it’s not Edgarton, it’s Chagrin Falls.

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Most of the charming old houses in Chagrin’s historic district  have a uniform look of white clapboard with black or dark green shutters creating a very crisp and clean look.

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We see architectural  details  on many of the houses and charming plantings that add a finishing touch to the landscape.    Dogwoods, azaleas and so many old majestic trees that only old neighborhoods will have.

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An all green palette is very restful to the eye and maybe that’s why this neighborhood has such a comforting effect on me.

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And the fences… so many picket fences –  a very New England thing, and having lived many happy years in Boston I suppose that’s also part of why I feel so comfortable and at home here.

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But though I could spend  my whole outing walking around this neighborhood and taking pictures of pretty houses and gardens  we need to move on and go into town where the action is.

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As we stroll around town on this beautiful day we run into some very friendly ladies  of the Dogwood Valley Garden club who are planting  flowers in town.  They tell me about “Blossom Time”.  This is a festival celebrated on Memorial Day weekend.  There’s a carnival and a parade and if you live anywhere near Chagrin Falls, Ohio you should google it and stop by.  If everyone is as friendly as these nice ladies I’m sure you’d  have lots of fun at these festivities.  I’m having a lot of fun on this very ordinary day.  I hope you’re enjoying yourself too.

There are all sorts of nice places to eat here Al fresco style.  You could go to the Gamekeeper’s Tavern (my favorite)

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The Gamekeeper’s patio

or you could choose the restaurant next door called West End.

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West End

West End has out door seating in its small front yard and also seating in its backyard.

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And there are many other restaurants too.  You’ll not starve if you come here.  And if you’re from out of town fear not.  There’s the Inn of Chagrin Falls that would be happy to have you stay with them.  Yes, a real Country Inn!  If I didn’t already have my inn of imagination so close by you could be sure I would check in myself.  It’s lovely.

IMG_3282[1]and it has its very own patio beyond the gate.

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Chagrin Falls … ah!  Isn’t it a cute place?  And there truly are falls here —  waterfalls …  there are two, and let’s take a look at them.  You get a different view from each side of the street.

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On this side of the street you see the falls and  there is a park with lots of green grass and even a playground set back for the younger set.

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A path along the grassy park

On the other side of the street you walk down flights of wooden steps to see an even larger water fall.

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You might wonder how this river and this town got its name.  Well, in the book “Early History and Early Memories” written by Clarence A. Vincent he writes:  The little neighborhood of my childhood and the village were 16 miles from the city of Cleveland.  The name of the village originated in a peculiar way.  The discoverers of the river, now called the Cuyahoga, at the mouth of which Cleveland is built, returned to the east for supplies.  On their return to the wilderness they came to a river’s mouth which they supposed was the river of the other trip; but when they tried to ascend the stream, they soon found it too small and not suitable for navigation.  In their disappointment they called it the Chagrin River.  Later when the village was settled and named, it was called, on account of the falls at this place in the river, Chagrin Falls.”

Though it’s just beautiful out here with a gentle breeze blowing and the smell of fragrant spirea in the air let’s walk around to the red building you saw across the river.  It’s a Starbuck’s coffee shop and I’m in the mood for some good coffee.  How about you?

IMG_3251[1]We walk down the street past the popcorn shop

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and the book store

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and we settle in at Starbuck’s where I write a letter and we both  rest our feet for a little while.

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We got a good table by the window so we not only can look forward to see the whole shop

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but we can also look out the window at our side to see the street and the falls below.

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As you may know from my previous posts I love coffee shops and I could stay here for hours, but I did want to do a little shopping so off we go to The Herb Shop.

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There are lovely herb gardens out front

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Just one view of the many herb gardens

and many different  herbs in pots of assorted sizes are for sale.

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I feel like a kid in a candy store, but I restrain myself and purchase only 5 pots of sweet woodruf.

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Some day the inn gardener will have to show you where the sweet woodruf gets planted.  But that’s for another day.

I had a lot of fun on my outing seeing many people and  lots of things and I’m very proud of myself for spending only a little money.  I resisted the cute pedestal server I saw inside the Herb Shop.

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 Oh yes, that shop sells all sorts of goodies inside its doors.  Lots of things the innkeeper (me)   could use for her teas.

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And did I tell you part of the shop is rented to a lady who sells beautiful yarns?  I was so tempted to buy the materials needed to make  this eyelet knit scarf.

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But I resisted temptation.  I resisted Herb Shop temptation and Antique shop temptation too.   I gave you the highlights of my outing, but I left out a few things –  like the fun antique/gift shop where I saw  these sconces which would look mighty pretty in the bedroom of my inn of imagination.

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It is possible to have a fun outing without spending a lot of money, but I  may have to go back to  Chagrin Falls and pick up  those sconces for the more I think about them the more I like them.

So that was my little outing on this Country Inn Day.  I’m glad you came along.  After a day out and about I always return to my inn of imagination with renewed contentment.  I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. too and I hope you take time off  from your routines regularly in order to  enjoy lots of outings in your own neck of the woods.  We don’t have to check into  real inns or hotels,  nor do we have to go far away in order to have  fun.   We just need to use our imagination and give ourselves permission to take time off now and then and do whatever makes us happy

And what would that be for you?

Not just any Country Inn Day – ADVENTURE DAY!


It was just another Country Inn Day —  a day where I give myself permission to escape from normal routines and exercise my imagination, exercise it even more than usual.  Have you used your imagination lately?  I hope so.   Imagination is a terrible thing to waste.  Imagination exists for good reason you know,  and that reason is to offer us delight.

Well, this particular Country Inn Day was certainly full of delight for me.  I enjoy all sorts of  Inn Days, each offering its own unique pleasures, but  this particular Country Inn Day was slated for adventure, you know, trying something new, going somewhere  you’ve never gone before,  reaching into the unknown.  A  little adventure now and then adds spice to life.

You’ll be happy to know a satisfying  Adventure Day does not require long distance travel, taking great risks, or spending  lots of money, but it is necessary to step out of  familiar surroundings and do a little exploring.   We all do this sort of thing when we’re out of town on vacation, but we can have great adventures close to home too.  It’s easy and it’s fun!

So I bet you’re wondering  just what kind of adventure  I came up with this time.  Well, I decided to revisit a wonderful old house where I enjoyed tea a few years ago.  I had been there with the Hudson Garden Club.  Though I didn’t have the exact address I knew what street the house  was on  and felt sure  I could find it so… Here I am driving down West Exchange Street in Akron, Ohio on a damp Winter’s morning looking for adventure.

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Now I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking this outing couldn’t be much of an adventure if I’ve been to this great house before, oh, but you’re wrong.

This time I had no reservation.  I just planned to ring the door bell  hoping to be invited inside, where I would introduce myself, explain how I had visited once before, loved the  house,  and hoped to interest the owner in friendship.  I was anxious to get to know  this owner,  a retired English teacher.  Why her, you ask?  It’s  because I knew she must have an adventurous spirit herself  for why else would she buy  a great old  1920’s house, saving it  from demolition  and  turning it into a bed and breakfast among other things – like a beautiful location for  tea parties and wedding receptions.

So where exactly was this house?  Aha!  I think I found it.  I remember those pillars!  So I pulled in and parked by the door.IMG_2261[1]

Here I was.  Oh boy!  This is exciting.  Now to walk up to the entrance and ring the bell .  What an adventure!

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I never really expected anyone would answer  the door not yet invite me inside. I figured I’d just ring the bell, then write a note and leave it in the door, but SOMEONE DID COME TO THE DOOR … and what’s more, THEY INVITED ME INSIDE!

This was going very well indeed.  The nice lady of the house, Gail Johnson,  was very friendly, amazingly friendly, and  quite trusting, for no sooner I was inside she excused herself to take a phone call and disappeared for 10 long minutes!  Only her sleepy black dog kept me company.

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I mustn’t have looked very dangerous, but still,  I was surprised she left me alone for so long.  I could’ve  been a crook, or started exploring the house on my own, for  believe me, I wanted to do just that.

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Here I stood admiring the furniture and peering just beyond into the  living room,  dying to freely wander around this great place.  I love old houses as you know, especially big ones and this is a big one! (Those of you who know me and know my blog know that my Dad always used to say “That’s a big one”, so I felt Dad was along on this adventure.)

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Anyway,  eventually Gail returned and we had a very nice long chat after which she asked if I’d like a tour of the house.  Would I?  YES INDEEDY! …so off we went, and now I’d like to share a little of that tour with you.  Why?  You know.  Sharing doubles the joy.  Besides, you might like to come here yourself some day, book a room at this bed and breakfast and enjoy a Country Inn Day of your own… So let’s start by entering the dining room.  It’s not large, but very cozy and I loved the crystal chandelier.

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The dining room windows look out to a very pretty patio, and don’t you love the window seat?

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The patio was furnished  with  a neat canopy frame that sat ready for warm weather.  The canopy  is even equipped with  a chandelier which hangs from its center, but now in Winter it rests on the outdoor table.  Can you imagine this setting for tea or cocktails on a Summers day?

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Crossing back through the foyer I headed to another window in order  to get a good view of another garden area,  and here it is.  WOW!

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Isn’t this marvelous?  Can you imagine it with all the trees and flowers in bloom?  I was told there are roses and honeysuckle among all the other plants.  My favorites.  Just beautiful!  I could stay here forever.  But let’s move along.

How about a look at the kitchen?  Good windows, a wood floor, great big restaurant stove and oven (sorry I didn’t get a better picture of the oven, but I was amazed I got as many pictures as I did.  So much to see.)   The island is a gem, an old chest Gail found  in a nearby antique shop.  Isn’t it marvelous?

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Gail told me  the  entire kitchen ceiling fell down one day with no warning, (that’s an old house for you), but she took the opportunity to add recessed  lights in the new ceiling.  She’s the kind of girl who makes lemonade out of lemons.

There was a butler’s pantry too.  I love a butler’s pantry, don’t you?  This one was so small, but so cute and efficient.  I couldn’t really get a good picture, but believe me, it was nifty.  Here’s one small corner of it.

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Let’s move on to the library.  Ah, a library!  …every house should have one.  A library is the perfect place to write a letter, cuddle up with a good book,  or create a post for your blog.

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Are you enjoying the tour?  I sure was, and I’m so happy to have these pictures so I can revisit this great house  with you.   But now let’s go upstairs.

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I was so impressed with all the wood paneling on both sides of the stairs… you just don’t see this sort of thing very often in modern houses.

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The views  from the upstairs balcony and the leaded front windows were terrific.  Looking down into the foyer or out into the front yard… well, I was impressed.IMG_2247[1]

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But there’s one more thing I want to show you, well really three more things — two bedrooms and a bath.
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The bedrooms and baths were comfy, but unpretentious.  Gail wanted them to look their age and they do.

Sorry I didn’t take pictures of the nanny’s room, the maid’s quarters, or the room where the chauffeur stayed in days gone by.  The chauffeur had a small door in his room that led to a private staircase taking him directly to the garage.  How neat is that?  He also had an old fashioned water closet.  (That’s a tiny closet with just enough room for a toilet).  So many nooks and crannies in this house.  So many back stairways and halls.  Everything was wonderful!

Well, there you have it.  The O’Neil House.  You probably didn’t expect to tour a great  historic house today, but then,  neither did I when I set out on my last Country Inn Day Adventure.  I simply reached out in friendship but I got a whole lot  more in the bargain.  I’ll be writing Gail soon and you can write her too.  (Gail Johnson, The O’Neil House, 1290 West Exchange Street, Akron, Ohio,44313)  You might also want to schedule a tea at her place or book a room.  If you do any of those things be sure to  tell Gail that  CarolAnn sent you, and give her a big  hello from me.  She really made my day with her friendly hospitality and the generous sharing of her beautiful home.  Gail obviously subscribes to my theory – sharing doubles the joy!

I hope you enjoyed coming along with me on my adventure.   I can’t wait for the next one, but I do like to mix things up.  My next Country Inn Day may be more quiet — maybe a spa day.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  But maybe it’s time for you to have a little adventure of your own.   You really should.

Adventure Days are Great!