At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn
How I Became an Asheville Bed and Breakfast Innkeeper 2 25 Oct 2016, 12:03 pm
In finishing the last segment of this blog, I left you with our skills inventory completed. Based on our responses, it seemed that between both my skill set and Gary’s, we were ideally suited to an occupation dealing with people in a helping way. We were also lovers of beautiful surroundings, the concept of home, cooking and Gary is a whiz at fixing nearly anything. We began to narrow down our business pursuits to small, casual dining or accommodations. Neither of us entertained the idea of a hotel. Next stop on the journey…..Where?
Location, Location Location! Business is a very different animal than working for others. It would be entirely feasible to have developed the very best X in the world, perfectly run, beautifully orchestrated and ideally imagined. However, if the business is service in nature~all this would be for naught if there are insufficient numbers of people to patronize the glories of what you’ve accomplished.
We wanted the location we selected to be both personally
pleasing as well as economically awesome.
We both really enjoyed North Carolina. The state offers the joys of all four seasons. All without the exaggerations of excessive snow that we thought might prove personally exhaustive as well as a shot in the foot to a business that requires people being able to access the business location. Location has many facets, climate is only one of them. The second, equally important, is what those in business call “the draw.” An apt definition of that term would be “what does your location offer the people you are trying to attract to your business?” We entertained several areas of North Carolina. We looked at Cary, N.C., Winston Salem, N.C. & Wilmington, N.C. areas of the state at the same time we looked at Asheville, N.C.
I was a hard critic. I had raised my child in Port Saint Lucie, Fl., worked as a nurse there for more than 20 years. We had friends of a lifetime there. It wasn’t that we’d really chosen the place but it held our history and hence our hearts, in the palm of it’s hand. It’s hard to select another location for an undertaking of this kind. At least it was until the electric door of Asheville Regional Airport opened ushering my exit to the expanive panorama of an awesomely beautiful mountain landscape in full fall color. It is said that Asheville claims it’s own. I believe that because on that very day while Gary was securing our luggage at baggage claim, the city of Asheville reached out, gently took my hand and welcomed me home.
How I Became an Asheville Bed and Breakfast Innkeeper 18 Oct 2016, 2:34 pm
Hold on to your seats folks….This may be a funny ride. So many of my guests through the years have polled me on various aspects of inn keeping with questions ranging from, “How did you decide to do this?” to my all time favorite question of, “What do you all do after breakfast?” In this, my 18th year of inn ownership, I’ve decided to reveal the answers to these and other burning questions as I launch my Innkeeper series.
Long ago and far away in the kingdom of Port Saint Lucie, Florida lived a hard working registered nurse and her husband, a long time worker at Florida Power and Light. After many long years of living in this area, raising our daughter there, going to school and work and basically just living our life Florida Power transferred my husband (and hence our family) to another location.Though we really had no desire to move we felt little recourse but to take the transfer, which frankly many were not offered at all and relocate.
Sometimes, when faced with such a decision (agree to move or risk having no job at all) it’s such a shock that it can seem there really is no choice but to bend to the powers and agree to the move. We did that moving to Key Largo. Key Largo is a lovely place but our adjustment to leaving our community and friends of a lifetime was not an easy one. Sometimes tumultuous events provide fertile soil to the roots of seminal moments that never would have seen the light of day under other circumstances.
It was just such an atmosphere that found us alone one evening, missing our old life and in the stage of final acceptance that the company was never moving us back home again. This move was not temporary, it was permanent and we could either pursue acceptance of this curve ball or find another way to hit our own home run.
In general terms, I seek information I do not currently possess as a student. My idea was that if we were going to invent an entirely different life, this should not be a hit and miss proposition but developed with care taking advantage of skills we already possessed but had not thought of as marketable. We began taking skills inventory assays that really assisted us in feretting out every single thing we were good at. These included both personality traits as well as actual skill sets.
All this planted the seed of inn keeping in our minds. All that was left was finding ways in which this could be profitably accomplished and and where!
Good Vibrations in Asheville for Locals and Visitors Alike 7 Oct 2016, 9:18 am
Sometimes you really don’t choose a place to live. Happenstance brings you there. You arrive where you are in pursuit of a dream job, familial matters requiring your attentions, school of choice is there and many other reasons.
Asheville, of all the places I’ve ever lived was a choice. I’ve never been sorry and continue those thoughts some 18 years post the purchase of our Asheville Bed and Breakfast. Many times though the years I’ve been asked why. What sets this place apart? Why does this place feel like it has claimed my heart and now, when I say the word “home”~Asheville defines the answer.
I have given the matter thought and this is what I’ve come up with. I find these elements important both for a home and also for a place folks might choose to visit hence my inclusion of these thoughts in a blog post.
- First and foremost, Asheville remains largely polite. No place is perfect and so I cannot give blanket endorsement of same but our community is primarily a courteous one offering this gift to tourists and locals alike.
- Asheville is socially conscious and seems to promote those feelings in others. We look to care for our own and it is part of the agenda…both personally among our residents and often, we actually belly up to the bar and put our money where our mouths are reflected in back packs when school starts, blanket and coat drives in the winter etc.
- We are mindful of the gifts of Asheville and seek to preserve them. Much of what brings people to this city is natural resources. This is true of the craft beer industry that thrives in this area making use of our exceptional water quality and also the blessing of supreme natural beauty found in Western North Carolina evidenced nearly everywhere you look. There are many community efforts every year to clean streams of garbage and debris to maintain that standard. Trails are adopted and maintained in our forests by both private citizens and groups dedicated to their betterment.
- Whatever sounds like fun to you; it’s likely we have it here. From hiking and craft brews to music, symphony, opera, and art. It’s local and it’s thriving.
- The simple concept of ecumenical~as it pertains to cooperation and everyone’s well being being not existing as a completely independent operation~but a collaborative effort.
Words Matter 27 Sep 2016, 8:28 am
Being an innkeeper has provided an up close and personal view of human behavior. Some observations have left me keenly aware of stoicism, courage, kindness, altruism, thoughtfulness and genuine concern for others. The key word there is “others.”
My son-in-law Aaron, many years ago shared his feelings regarding people and their basic differences. He broke it down to that his belief that in general there were two kinds. Those that take and those that give. There’s something to be said for this theory.
Over the years, I have observed great kindnesses rendered from one guest to another. Also such above the call of duty concern for me and my husband that even remembrance of them brings a flood of feelings. Some of our guests have risen well above any kind of expectation one could reasonably expect from people not really known to you. They have demonstrated authentic attributes of grace and kindness we know to be present in our fellow humans but regretfully do not always see on display. Selfless displays of aid, love, concern for others even including conspiring with other guests in house to really bring a special celebration to fellow guest.
Every once in a long while we witness personalities that seemingly reflect the very worst that exists in this world. When we allow ourselves a screwed belief system, particularly in the name of God, parent to us all, that ethnicity, religion or some other inborn trait in a fellow human being is so reprehensible to us that we are right in our judgement. In that “rightness” assuming the we have responsibility to act with heinous behavior, speak badly or disrespectfully to them, perpetrate ideas born in misunderstanding or unkindness~ we underscore our lack of understanding of God.
While it would always be our very highest calling as innkeepers to offer all our guests the gift of welcome and comfort; when a guest cannot offer that to their fellow guests, our responsibility as thinking, rationale human beings must be one of protection so that all can be valued and respected because behavior matters too. We must all own our own.
Summer Time 2016 at our Asheville Bed and Breakfast 21 Sep 2016, 7:46 am
In talking with women friends there seems to be a general consensus that life feels cyclical. We plan for certain occurrences in our lives by season. This planning runs the gamut from birthdays, holidays used not only in celebration but as markers of life.
Summer time ends tomorrow and the patches of color dotting the burning bushes about town act as harbingers of the blazing color that will soon envelope the mountains of Western North Carolina but much like my friends I wanted one last brief examination of Summer time before plunging head long into one of my favorite Asheville season’s~Autumn.
We’ve owned the inn for a long time now begun as much younger versions of ourselves. We commenced our 18th year here on June 19. It has been a very busy summer punctuated with visits from repeat guests and introduction of many new ones.
Sometimes, the best way to identify that you live in a wonderful place is when family visits. My brother and his wife, Cindy visited this July. Being very well versed in concierge after all this time, I began the compilation of the list of “fun things to do.” In the making of the list, I could not help but be impressed, as I always am, with the circuit of really awesome activities available from zip lining, white water rafting, hiking of a lifetime to the more sedate activities of pub crawling to partake in our vibrant craft beer scene or gallery trolling in thorough examination of all the variant forms of art our city is known for. Whether you are into canvas, glass, metal, wood or fiber~you can likely find your heart’s desire in Asheville.
Meanwhile, things at the inn moved forward just as predictably as the hands of a clock. We refurbished the gravel in the parking lot and driveway, repaired a post on our back deck, had a, no pun intended, bird’s eye view to the birth of not one but two families of Robin’s. Beloved staff of long standing moved inevitably into new arenas of their lives and new staff members were introduced. The front door was re-varnished and looks lovely, a quasi, but very functional sprinkler system was installed to help our flora friends get through one of the driest summer seasons we’ve experienced since we arrived in Asheville. Mounting water usage enabled creative garden re-design thinking. In the aftermath, we made some really significant changes to the lay of the garden carving out some of the greenery to create simplicity and a less robust design resulting in some very awesome views of the waterfalls in the back. It all looked so fresh, invigorated and inspired, a complete window washing was in order so that all this work would not go to waste wanting the views from guest rooms to be just perfect. It was at this point standing in the garden or possibly the need to sit down for a spell… that we thought to really thoroughly clean the teak garden furniture we have spotted all about the garden to enhance guest enjoyment of this area.
If you will remember my starting of this blog about life being cyclical: so is activity. One thing starts, it’s finish creates another idea, spurring on yet but another…. each feeding on the impact and success of the last. Now that I’ve reviewed Summer time 2016, it is little wonder I got the Fall wreath up a bit earlier than Fall actually began. I think we might have been trying to cycle out of Summer before I spotted something else that needed tackling. Well, there’s always Summer 2017.
Trip Insurance Can Save The Day 8 Sep 2016, 7:58 am
Life is uncertain. No one can argue that nor likely would
When making plans for a successful trip all kinds of decisions are made. What location would make for the very best, most memorable of trips? What kind of accommodations would be the best fit to enhance the mission statement of this vacation; a cozy bungalow, a huge, multi activity resort, private cabin among some stately evergreens? Clothing to be packed, plane reservations to be made and a host of other incidentals. Sometimes, depending on the level of responsibility connected to your job, it may seem that the preparations for your departure take longer than your vacation lasts.
Travel is fraught with timetables. The plane takes off at exactly….It should take this long to get to the airport, unless there is an accident or traffic jam so we should leave X hours early to be sure making it to the plane on time. Accommodations have cancellation periods, so do scheduled treatments or activities. Somehow, we often forget about securing a really important part of planning a successful trip; Trip Cancellation Insurance.
As I began this piece…Life is uncertain. Sometimes we plan everything down to the minutia and then something completely out of left field happens affecting our health, our children’s health, our livlihood or some other aspect of this thing called life we could not possibly have had on the radar. It is an emergency and it cannot wait. No sense in going skiiing for instance if you’ve broken your leg 3 days before your scheduled vacation. No one plans on that but your failure to have put Trip Insurance in place could leave you holding the bag for some very costly expense. Your plane is non-refundable, there is insufficient time to meet your cancellation policy in lodging you booked, your spa treatment had a cancellation period and you owe for that too. Never has more money been spent that will prove completely valueless to you. All this could have been avoided with Insurance to protect your trip funds.
We learned this lesson the hard way. We were finally, at long last, getting to go on vacation from the bed and breakfast we purchased in 1999. We were so excited to board the plane and had driven to Greenville, S.C. the night before as our plane left at 6:00 a.m. We wanted to take no chance on missing it. My sister agreed to spend the night at the inn with the guests. The innsitter was to arrive the next morning. Long about midnight, our cell phone rang. The voice on the other end of the phone was immediately recognizable as my sister. She sounded so sad as she related to my husband and me that there was water leaking at a rather rapid pace through our foyer light into a bucket she’d just installed there. Uncontrolled water in a historic building can be very expensive. We had no idea as to the source of the water leak. It could be a pipe, it could be anything. We looked at each other as I disconnected the phone call with only six hours remaining until we were to be sitting in a plane. We each knew that the plane was leaving without us. We lost the flight and we lost the accommodations money. We lost an entire vacation we’d paid for and could not leave to enjoy. We had not purchased Trip Cancellation Insurance. We had no children left at home and we just didn’t plan on this very unexpected occurrence completely de-railing a trip we’d planned on and saved for during the entire year. We’re quick learners though. We never plan travel, save a day trip, without insurance. Once burned, twice shy. The very next year it saved our bacon when a trip to the beach was short circuited due to an unexpected situation with my Mom.
One of the definitions of insurance is the following: ” a thing providing protection against a possible eventuality.” Not getting to take your trip is disappointing. Having to pay for it anyway is an expense we can all avoid with securing Trip Insurance.
Things to do in the garden in August 29 Aug 2016, 11:11 am
The garden at our inn is a place of peace and singular beauty. It has hosted weddings, large and small, it has been a guest favorite for marriage proposals long hoped for and it has provided a perfect place for a good read that was well savored while enjoying a fine wine or comforting cup of tea.
It is also a place of discovery, hope, work, anticipation and feeling truly at peace as my hands work the soil the offers life to our garden and instill nutrients that will make the upcoming growth season successful.
August in the garden finds some of the annuals planted in late spring looking a bit less than robust providing an opportunity to replace them with something that will bring us down the stretch till the first freeze of fall. This year, I planned ahead.
Earlier in the season, I chose some really colorful and very robust coleus plants that I have been pruning by and by and as their little roots sprouted out I transferred them to selected pots throughout the yard. They respond to this treatment well. Coleus is a member of the mint family and unless pinched back to encourage fullness, they become leggy and unattractive. I have been rooting one or the other of these specimen plants throughout the entire Spring and early Summer. When choosing these coleus, I selected them with appearance of my lithe and lovely pinkish phlox in mind. They are up now, and just as I’d imagined in my mind’s eye, even in the absence of those early annuals now plucked and discarded, everything still looks lush and well filled out.
The roses remain in bloom but still need to be scoped out for late appearing aphids or black spot. A bit of trimming back helping them to stay in their place and not become invasive looking, It has always seemed to me feast or famine in the rain department in Asheville. This year, we hit it lucky and it rained in good measure. While this really aided in the blooming department, the roses are a bit leggier than normal.
A bit of clean up is needed as short lived plants need to be removed and replaced. Ornamental grasses need to have dead blades removed from their base and day lilies, some of which are finished for the season, need to have dead stalks and flower pods removed to encourage plant health or maybe, if you’re lucky, some last of the season blooms. Always a gardener’s gift and great compensation for hours spent in caring for plants.
In too short a time, inevitably, the approaching arms of winter will enfold the garden once again here At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn and I will be relegated for a time to cruising the garden books dreaming of Spring.
Hope Floats Asheville NC 16 Aug 2016, 7:35 am
I have a long history as a walker. I’ve been engaged in that activity since 1988. It has served me well in so many ways from creating a path of clarity though some difficult times to keeping this now 64 year old body in motion and reasonably limber.
My sister has recently taken up walking as well. This past Saturday after serving breakfast at our Asheville Bed and Breakfast we struck out for the road~ water bottle in hand. Nearby the inn is a greenway, a perfectly lovely place to walk and designed as pathway in which one is likely to meet and greet both their neighbors and their pets. It was a perfectly lovely morning for a walk well timed for avoiding the more intense heat and humidity that would surely accompany the later hours of the day.
My sister and I use our walking time to talk about items of daily life, our shared recollections of our childhood, our Mom, now gone to heaven some 5 years ago but seemingly just yesterday to both of us and much, much more. All kinds of topics come up for discussion during this time together.
We came to the end of the greenway part of our walk and turned Right onto Magnolia Street heading back to the inn. Waiting for us upon our return were the remains of the breakfast dishes. We’d taken only a few steps when we took note of a congress of people up the way a bit on the left side of the street. I did not have my glasses on but as we made our approach something seemed a bit out of sorts. A woman was leaning up against the front of her car holding what appeared to be a belt sander very close to the front of her body. Bent down in front of her were two gentlemen who appeared to be trying to use screw drivers on the belt sander she was holding. Everyone, the woman and the two men looked a bit alarmed.
As we approached they looked up. I also, closer now, got a good luck at the woman’s face. I asked what was wrong. It would seem that the woman had inadvertently turned on the sander by mistake. When she did this, the sander sprung to life and pulled the carry pack she was wearing about her waist and also apparently part of her abdominal skin into the inner mechanism of the belt sander. Her abdomen was quite literally enveloped in the belt sander. The gentlemen present, her neighbors, one of which she knew and had gone to get after realizing her rather dire distress. She needed help to get released from this machine. The man, clearly her best hope and another man, were desperately trying to dismantle the belt sander in order to free her abdomen. I asked her if she thought much of her abdomen was taken into the machine and she felt it was not. Clearly she was not bleeding out, nor shocky because they’d been out there for some time when we’d encountered them. I recommended that they get her a chair so she was at least able to sit while they worked on disengaging her from the belt sander. Also, the belt sander was heavy and as she was the one “engaged” into it, I thought she would best be able to determine the best position for this tool creating the least amount of pain for her.
I told all of them that I was going back to the inn to obtain a clean cloth which I felt would be useful to have on hand in case there was bleeding when they finally freed her from the sander. Jane and I walked on with both men still working diligently on the belt sander wishing nothing more than to help this woman who clearly needed their help.
We went hurriedly to the inn to secure the promised cloth. With the scene of these three in my mind I began to think of all the racial unrest brandished on nearly every headline you see recently. I mentioned earlier that the woman stuck in the sander went to seek her neighbor’s help understanding she was in real trouble. Her neighbor is black. She saw only a neighbor. He did not care that she was a white woman. He didn’t see that. He saw his neighbor in real trouble and sought only to help. The man who later came to help was also a black man. These people saw nothing of each other except that one person was in trouble, had gone to another to seek aid and aid was provided.
Asheville is a city of diversity. Rich, poor, well educated, less educated, hard workers, trust fund kids, black, hispanic, white, gay, straight…Everyone seems to get on well most of the time. We work on that actively here. I do not live in a fairy land where I am clueless to the real problems of race in the United States but this much I’ll say clearly. In all my years of nursing, I’ve never had an organ recipient ask what color or ethnicity their donor was. After the first incision, it’s patently clear we’re all the same either way. All I ever heard was gratitude and a feeling of being blessed to have received such a gift. In the military when I served, no soldier ever cared who had their back, just as long as someone did. On 9-11 no one cared what color the fire and first responders where. They just didn’t want to die that day.
I took another walk the other day taking the same path as the day I came upon my neighbor stuck in the belt sander and the two men doing all in their power to aid and assist. I met Sam by name this time again that day. He was one of the men trying to help the lady stuck in the sander. I told him I had returned with the promised cloth and they were gone. He explained the entire procedure, including scissoring off her clothing to try and get her loose. My sister and I told Sam how nice he was to offer his help. What a kindness it was. He was only trying to help he said and jokingly, I dubbed him Dr. Sam that day. We all laughed as Jane and I said goodbye to Dr. Sam and walked on.
I hope to get to know “Dr.” Sam better. I have a feeling if just that one small thing could happen… All of us getting to know each other better, I’d be reading fewer horrible headlines. For today however, Hope Floats in Asheville. I bet it floats in your town too.
August Vacations 2016 4 Aug 2016, 12:27 pm
We spent many years living in the state of Florida and many avoid making summertime plans for the month of August due to the propensity of hurricanes. By the time the dog days of summer arrive, the Atlantic, bathed in sun for several months becomes a cauldron of warm water just perfect for the cultivation of hurricanes.
In Asheville though August is quite simply a great time to vacation. It’s still season so everything remains open and available to experience. With children returning to school all the people that are “mom and dad” to someone have likely already completed their summertime vacation and are now actively engaged back to school preparation. All this translates to no lines, less trouble getting dining reservations at that place you’ve been dying to try and accommodations that may have some handy dandy specials you can take full advantage of.
We have a special running at our inn too. Summertime Biltmore Package-Book 3 Mid Week nights (M-T-W-Thurs) Summer 2016 and we’ll help you see Biltmore in Bloom with BOGO tickets! There is no more beautiful time at Biltmore House than Summertime. We want to help you experience this awesome Asheville opportunity.
Many performers in the Biltmore Concert Series schedule in August and 2016 is no exception to that rule. August 12, August 14 and August 23, 2016 will highlight everything from the haunting Christian sounds of Casting Crowns to Emmylou Harris and Rick Springfield rocking it out on stage.
We hope to see you this August. It’s a great month to make a fine Summertime 2016 memory.
Leaf Downtown Asheville 2016 30 Jul 2016, 4:17 pm
This is the second year of Leaf downtown Asheville. Many have asked me to describe downtown Asheville as an experience. We’ve lived here since 1999 when with the purchase of our inn, we became dedicated Asheville residents.
Large parts of our downtown has preserved historic buildings conveying a strong sense of the past when Asheville was a much different place. Asheville is viscerally alive fairly buzzing with music (buskers are everywhere.) It would be hard to walk 10 feet without finding 1. an art gallery 2. A local craft brewery, 3. A local art seller 4. A fine opportunity to get something excellent, unique and completely yummy to eat 5. Get into a chat with a local 6. Pick up the vibe of something very special and very alive. 7. Find yourself in the middle of some festival. I’ll stop right there to tell you that tomorrow, Sunday, July 31, 2016 is the very last day of the Leaf Downtown AVL 2016.
This year, Asheville soul, funk and blues are on display. Here you can participate in community, local culture, food opportunities from more vendors than you could possible capitalize on in one day all while listening to any one of a number of local performance artists singing their hearts out on 3 separate stages. Find yourself some Faerie Kin, learn a bit of yoga and make some hay while the sun shines. It’ a great day at Leaf Downtown AVL and you have one last day to enjoy. Maybe we’ll see you there! For more information: www.theLeaf.org.