The Windover Inn Bed & Breakfast
Innkeeper(s): Glenn and Jennifer Duerr
Hot and Dirty 20 May 2013, 2:32 pmIt was the 1970's and This Old House was brand new, and this old man was much younger with lots of youthful energy (some of which still exists!). It was shortly after the first gas crisis, and our culture had begun to 'raise its consciousness' by reflecting on the results that decades of "the throw away society" had bestowed on our quality of life. At the same time the Victory Garden made popular by James Underwood Crockett was in full swing. So outside I began a composter, although it was a much smaller version of the Victory Garden's and looked nothing like it. Someone had given me this creepy elongated wooden box and I figured I'd give it a try as a composter. It consisted of three old doors nailed together in a "U" shape with chicken wire covering either end for some ventilation. It was creepy, because it actually looked like an open coffin. But after a few weeks of feeding it grass clippings and mulched leaves as well as organic kitchen scraps, it rewarded me with deep, dark healthy compost! Even better, it turned out to be "hot" compost. All I did was add some 10-10-10 occasionally, keep it moist, and turn it every few days with a piece of rebar. Totally ignorant of the 'hot' compost concept, I noticed after a week or two that when I pulled the rebar out of the center of the pile, it was hot (I mean 'ouch' hot!) to the touch. So, I did a little more 'research' (this was when research meant going to the bookstore or library) and discovered I had a working hot composter! The raw materials I added cooked down into a dark rich compost every couple of weeks, even in the dead of winter. So I never had to buy any mulch or potting soil for my postage stamp garden during the time I kept this baby in operation.
Fast forward to now, and I have a brand new composter built with the help of my good friend, Mike Denson. He was the handyman and I was the gofer. To my surprise Mike produced a copy of the original "Crockett's Victory Garden" book from 1977 which he discovered to have the very best composter design (sometimes the original is still the best!). So he built his composter based on the design and layout of the Victory Garden Composter from 1977, and then helped me build mine.
|Starting composter assembly!|
|Who needs Bob Vila and |
|With this set-up, we're looking |
more at Tim Allen
and his sidekick Al from
|Uh oh, that drill is smokin'!|
|A little stain to match the house and this |
composter is looking good!
|The right mix and now the composter's smokin'!|
|The 3 sections will allow for a lot of compost.|
The Only Project Allowed Never To End 15 May 2013, 5:22 amI'm the kind of person that doesn't like to have unfinished projects of any kind. It's the part of my personality that keeps me from enjoying things like knitting or reading novels, or when doing things like moving, keeps me from taking a break until everything is in its place, and the last picture is hung on the wall. It's also the part of my personality that allows me to get things done and not to procrastinate, even when I'm tempted to.
Uncharacteristically though, when it comes to our gardens, I seem to do everything and anything to make sure the project never ends!
Every season - and this time of year, every day - is exciting for me in the garden. I like nothing better than to be pulling weeds in one area of the yard, only to get to the other side to find leaves on a tree that weren't there just an hour ago. Sometimes it reminds me of the National Geographic time lapse photography of flower buds opening into beautiful flowers - but it's happening in front of my eyes!
|Our Siberian Iris are just starting to unleash their beauty|
now, and thanks to splitting we have them everywhere!
|As our cut leaf maples mature, their color|
gets deeper and richer.
Don't laugh, but I relish the chance to find a mature plant that needs to be split so I have the opportunity to spread their beauty around the garden. It costs nothing but time, and it keeps the project from ending. And sometimes, after a plant matures, I'll actually be excited to find now that it's grown, it just doesn't look right in its original spot. I look forward to the challenge to rearrange the area, or better yet, start an entire new one to get just the right look. Oh yeah, and to keep the project going.
|and here . . .|
|Thanks to last year's splitting we |
now have daisies here . . .
|and here . . . .|
|and here . . .|
Maybe it's creativity at work, maybe psychologically, I just need a place where I allow myself an unfinished project, or maybe, I just luv to get dirty! Whatever it is, I certainly enjoy it, and love sharing it with others, even if it is unfinished!
|One peony bush I found |
growing under one of our other shrubs
has been split one . . .
|two . . .|
|three times to give us 4 bushes now!|
Reflections on Easter Sunday 31 Mar 2013, 3:16 pmHaving a bed and breakfast makes it difficult to participate in the traditional holiday celebrations. Holidays are usually our busiest times, so it's sometimes difficult to even remember that it is a holiday!
But Easter has always been a special holiday for me. Not in the commercial baskets and candy way, but in the spiritual sense. As the only two early birds in our house, my Dad and I would get up early on Easter Sunday for Easter Dawn Service held at the Fire Tower on Mt. Penn in Reading, PA. It certainly didn't provide a stage like our Smoky Mountains or the scenes along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it did provide a setting that truly made you feel closer to God, and for me, a spiritual intensity that was very moving. I looked forward to it every year!
As I was remembering those memories today, I was thinking about how living here amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, gives me that feeling of intensity all the time. And although I understand the symbolism of the mountains bringing a person closer to God, it's so much more than that.
Maybe it's how the wonder of it all reaffirms my faith, maybe it's the sounds and energy coming from all the living things surrounding us, or how the stillness of the forest creates the perfect path to peace and reflection. Whatever it is, I'm grateful for it, and happy that I don't have to wait for Easter to experience it!
We Won't Give Up Social Living for LivingSocial 25 Mar 2013, 2:21 pmAlthough the Internet has certainly leveled the playing field and helped B&B's compete with larger establishments in the lodging market, I have to wonder - at what point will the competition cause them to go over to the other side?
When Glenn and I stayed at a bed and breakfast, we found a comforting feeling in the personal nature of the experience. Each establishment and owner had a personality and style all their own which provided an additional dimension to our travel experiences that couldn't be found in a hotel or motel, or even a larger Inn. The environments were less sterile and more relaxed, which seemed to set a tone that made our transition from a busy work day to our relaxing vacation days that much easier. The welcoming feeling we got from our hosts when we arrived was so much warmer than standing in line at a front desk for a business transaction. And although I know B&B owners are business people, that's not the side of them we saw as guests, unless of course we had specifically asked them to share the business side with us as aspiring innkeepers.
Selecting that special place to stay based on it's unique personality was part of the experience. Whether we were attracted to the architecture or history of the building itself, it's location and surroundings, the decor of the inside and guest rooms, or the breakfast offerings, it certainly wasn't an impulse purchase! And once we arrived and met the innkeepers and other guests, we found we had mutual interests, no doubt the reason we were all drawn to the same type of B&B.
Lately, there has been a lot of discussion in our industry about B&B's winning over the younger guest and the typical hotel guest by becoming more like hotels. One example is the suggestion that Innkeepers realize that their home is not their home, it's a business and should be treated as such. To me that suggests a less personal experience for the guest and the innkeeper - isn't that why people choose B&B's? I know that's why I chose this business over working as a manager in a hotel.
Another suggestion is to use hotel discount programs and impulse buying discount programs and to forget about personalized discounts. Sure, the statistics show most people don't return to your business, and yes, what you have to pay for offering those discounts will water down your bottom line, but you want to reach the masses don't you? I would contend that whenever you water down the bottom line you end up watering down quality, and whenever you introduce impulse to a purchase, you have a greater chance of it not being what the person wants.
As I mentioned before - viva la difference! If an Innkeeper's business model fits the bill, so be it, but to suggest that those of us who came into the business with the traditional bed and breakfast model to be unique and different, and offer a more personalized service give it up to get volume, is suggesting we take away the social experience of going to a B&B, exactly what some travelers are looking for! I think this is a dangerous generality that could hurt more businesses than help. After all, there can be a combination of the two, which is what Glenn and I strive for - a balance of offering the comforting feeling of staying somewhere with a more personal touch, that also allows you to have your personal space.
I tend to think, now, more than ever, the more personal, warm, comforting feeling B&B's can provide a guest is becoming more, rather than less, popular in a world that is becoming more and more impersonal.
Our guest demographics include all age groups, and first time and regular B&B travelers (and our first timers return!). So although we will always stay on top of industry trends and experts' opinions, for now, we're going to continue to let our guests tell us what they want. After all, shouldn't any business' goal be to meet their customers needs, and not theirs?
Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign 10 Jan 2013, 5:21 amHave you ever stayed somewhere where there were signs everywhere with instructions and do's and don'ts? You know how the song goes . . . "Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blocking out the scenery breaking my mind, do this, don't do that can't you read the sign." Glenn and I stayed at some bed and breakfasts and rental properties that had them, and even when my parents had a family vacation house at the shore in Avalon, New Jersey, we'd tease my mother about all of her rules posted throughout the place. Glenn's parents had similar notes in their place in Treasure Lake, Pennsylvania. Somehow, I thought, it just takes away from the atmosphere of the place. I vowed when we had our bed and breakfast there would never be such signs!
Now in our 7th year of business, and growing, we're entering a phase in our business history where with just the two of us, we can't do it all, and somehow we still need to be sure our guests have it all.
With the addition of a Keurig Coffee machine for coffee needs other than breakfast, and a freezer with ice for individual glasses and ice buckets, there are just too many amenities now that would have to be reviewed at check-in, a time when our guests rightfully just want to get settled in their room.
I understand better now, that self service amenities can illicit some questions, which if not answered can not only diminish the enjoyment of the amenity, but can also cause accidents.
Our Keurig machine was with us for only 2 weeks (without a sign) when a guest changed the cup size setting and this Innkeeper experienced a burn from trying to stop a hot water overflow due to the changed setting. Enter (UGH!) the signs.
Amenities should increase the positive experience a guest has, not complicate it, so we're giving the signs a try, and I must concede to all those sign makers I criticized in the past, that there is a time and place for them. (Sorry Mom)
A Snippet of North Carolina's Mountain-to-Sea Trail 14 Nov 2012, 7:25 amWe don't get out much during the busy season between Labor Day and Veteran's Day, so it was a real treat to finally find ourselves with the time to take a short hike on a small, relatively unknown part of an otherwise popular trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway near The Windover Inn. Even though most of the fall color is gone from the mountains, I think this less colorful canvass is still spectacular, maybe even more so, in revealing the contours and textures of the terrain, itself, just days after the trees have bared their last leaves.
We access the trail from the Black Balsam Knob road which turns off the parkway near mile marker 420 and park at the spot where the famous Art Loeb Trail crosses this road. The Art Loeb is a scenic hike that can take you all the way up to Cold Mountain. Backpacker magazine rates this 30 mile trail as the second most scenic 'big alpine' hike in the US. We head the other way down toward the Devil's Courthouse on the Mountain-to-Sea trail.
Immediately upon leaving the road we find ourselves in the middle of a mystical pine forest which even on a cool fall afternoon imparts a calming warmth to this hiker. The forest floor is composed of packed down pine needles which create a soft 'thud' as our guide's energetic boxer dashes back and forth in his frantic love affair with the great outdoors! We emerge from this primeval forest onto an open area with steep drop offs to our left toward the Parkway below and the occasional escarpment left behind from the last Ice Age. Soon we are enveloped by a similar pine forest. Further on rhody canapes allow daggers of sunlight to create a contrasting maze of shadows through the gnarly trunks, branches, and rhody leaves all around us. The trail rises and falls gently along narrow rivulets that, today, are puddled from recent rain, but still easily traversed. The trickiest part of the hike is to navigate between the exposed rhody roots and rocky outcrops that trip me up every now and then. But, overall, this hike of about two miles round trip can be rated as 'easy'.
After about a mile the trail opens to a rocky outcrop that provides stunning views of the entire mountainous region across and to the south of the Blue Ridge Parkway which meanders along below carrying the occasional vehicle and playing 'peekaboo' between the undergrowth. This is as clear a day we are likely to find, and we can easily see the town of Brevard about 15 miles away beyond the big rock in the foreground better known as Looking Glass Rock. It's too easy to use the word 'spiritual' in this part of the country, but that is certainly the feeling one gets here. The mile hike back to the car is spent thinking about how wonderful this part of the country is, and how I wish we could get out more!
I Love Sharing My Culinary Heaven at Our Waynesville Bed and Breakfast 27 Sep 2012, 8:13 am
Some gardens are huge, like the size of a small farm. Some are postage stamp size. Most are somewhere in between. My little piece of culinary heaven happens to be just outside our bed and breakfast kitchen growing in two whiskey barrels each surrounded by a very small rectangle of soil. This is the area that makes up my herb garden here in Waynesville, NC and it’s my favorite place to play when it comes to ingredients for our dinner dishes as well as for many of our savory breakfasts. I am an herb nut, just ask my four grandchildren (who may know the difference between Italian and flat parsley, or oregano and marjoram if they were listening closely to their Opa!). To me there is nothing better than picking a bunch of chives, thyme, parsley, marjoram and basil to use in one of our breakfasts for our guests, or in one of our dinners for ourselves. One of Jen’s favorites is a penne pasta concoction I developed over many years of testing different herbal combinations (I’m still testing! It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it!). So, each dish is a little different from the one before. It’s basically julienned yellow onions and bell peppers sautéed in olive oil, with diced tomatoes, kalamata olives (if I have them),salt and pepper, and … wait for it, the herbal blend du jour (i.e., whatever comes in from my herb garden that evening). It’s therapeutic for me to chop the parsley, pull the tiny leaves off the thyme and marjoram stems, trim a handful of chives with a kitchen scissors a few millimeters at a time, and fold and cut the basil until I have a pile of green aromatic herbs on top of my onions, peppers and tomatoes! Can you smell it! I can!! They get mixed into the sautéed veggies with the penne pasta (al dente) with a generous grind of asaigo or parmesan on top. Yummy!
In cooler weather I make several soups and stews which I freeze (if they don’t all get eaten first). Again, I use as many herbs in these dishes as possible. In winter my options are more limited, but I’ve been amazed at how many of my herbs can withstand hard freezes and come back for more here in Western North Carolina. It may be due to the usually balmy days (even in January and February) we enjoy even after a harsh sub-freezing night which allows the herbs to recover a bit. Simon and Garfunkel would be happy to know they include parsley, sage rosemary and thyme! Even my chives usually survive until about Christmas. As some of you know, I’m a vegetarian, so our favorite stew is a veggie root stew of potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips and a product from fermented wheat called seitan (pronounced like the devil, but not as nasty!). I use the aforementioned herbs in a ‘bouquet garni’ which is just a bundle of these herbs rolled in a swatch of cheese cloth like a cigar and tied together at both ends with kitchen string. I toss this into the pot with the rest of the veggies, the seitan cut into pieces that resemble meat chunks, and simmer them in a broth of veggie bullion, diced tomatoes, and onions and garlic that were first sautéed in olive oil along with the seitan covered in flour, salt and pepper. My mother swore this was beef stew because the seitan fooled her into thinking it was beef chunks. She even thought she saw gristle! This stew is good with a loaf of pumpernickel bread which I also make (if I’m not too lazy) in our 15 year old bread maker (thank you sister, Alice!). Alice is also my seitan supplier since I like a certain brand of seitan (you can actually make it yourself, but…) called Ray’s Seitan which is available in PA, but not here. Wow! I almost wish it were winter so I could whip up a batch of stew right now. But, then we’d miss the beautiful views of fall of our Blue Ridge Parkway yet to come before the cold weather sets in.
Finally, as I mentioned I use lots of fresh herbs in our savory breakfasts. They include frittatas, stratas, and soufflé’s among other entrees. I also whip up herb omelets for folks who have dietary restrictions when we are serving a sweet breakfast they can’t have such as French toast or German apple pancakes. I also just re-started my indoor winter ‘gro light’ garden, a Christmas present from Jen's mom (Thanks, Jeannine!), so I can have at least some of my favorite herbs year round. This includes mint for Jen to use as garnish on some of our breakfast plates. All in all I wouldn’t know what to do if I woke up someday without my herb garden. It just wouldn’t be the same cooking without fresh herbs. I guess I would just have to adjust to using dried herbs. Nothing wrong with that…. I guess!
Haywood County & Western North Carolina Quilt Trail's Newest Addition 26 Jul 2012, 12:18 pm
It's official! We are now part of the Haywood County and Western North Carolina Quilt Trail! The Quilt Trails project got its start in Ohio when Donna Sue Groves put a block on her barn to honor her mother. From that simple act, the project has spread to 30 states and Canada!
It took us some time to select a quilt pattern that told a story about our home, but after we did, we couldn't image a better pattern for our bed and breakfast here in Waynesville.
We selected “The Four Little Birds” pattern for several reasons. If you've ever been here, you know that we have tried to create an outdoor sanctuary, not only for our bed and breakfast guests, but also for the variety of Western North Carolina birds that contribute to our guests' experience and the beauty of our gardens. In particular, we think we may have the bird of prey, the Kestrel which is a member of the falcon family, on our property (we're trying to get some verification on this). When doing research of the house's history, the only missing link was why the Howell's called the house Windover. All we do know from the Howell's granddaughter is that there was an additional letter in the word Windover when it was initially selected. In researching the history of the word Windover, we came across a poem written in the 19th century about the Kestrel, known in England at that time as the Windhover. Although we don't know how Windover got its name, we feel initially selecting it for a bird that may have hovered over the property and was prevalent in the Smoky Mountains, and then shortening it to signify the winds it would ride over the property fits perfectly! Finally, as the fourth owners of The Windover Inn Bed & Breakfast, we thought the pattern was very symbolic of how all four of us are connected by the history and preservation of our lovely home.
Here's the poem we found. It was written on May 30, 1877, by a Jesuit priest named Gerard Manley Hopkins. Dedicated“to Christ our Lord”, he called “The Windhover” “the best thing [he] ever wrote”.
I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin,
dapple-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstacy! Then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend; the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wing. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valor and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! And the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it; sheer plod makes plow down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.By Gerard Manley Hopkins (6/11/1844-6/8/1889). Written in 1877, published in 1918.
Along with our quilt square, there are 24 other locations in Clyde,
, and Waynesville that are part of the Haywood County Quilt Trail, and the larger Western North Carolina Quilt Trail. The quilt squares are all painted on wooden frames and installed on barns, public structures, shops, and other appropriate buildings around the community and each has its own story. The website www.haywoodquilttrails.org provides block names, locations, photos and short stories about each block, and we have brochures here with the information so you can see all of the beautiful quilt trail squares for yourself! Maggie Valley
Venus, Jupiter and the Crescent Moon 2 Mar 2012, 7:12 am
|Photo in Waynesville, NC taken with my phone.|
To share the beauty of the sky and moon that seemed so near
The brightness of the stars above never seemed so clear
I realized they're in your sky too. Did you see them dear?
I hope you get to see this sight
And see the moon and planets bright
And know that sharing this with you
Is just as special as the moon
And stars and planets up above
Can't compare to your sweet love!
Hi Snookie, Sweet Pea, Bent Slinky and Sugar Plum!
The moon and what I thought were 2 stars were amazingly bright in the sky the day before Opa's birthday. I know it's hard to see it in this photo, but I went online to find out what was going on.
Here's the link I found that has better photos than mine. What I thought were stars were Venus and Jupiter! Pretty amazing!
Love and miss you! Oma
Cookies from Oma's Kitchen 25 Feb 2012, 12:14 pmFor my birthday this year, I received a wonderful cookie jar that says "Enjoy cookies from Oma's Kitchen". It conjured up wonderful memories of special moments shared with my grandmothers in their kitchens. Whether I was helping with the dishes, helping them make something like cookies, or I was just sitting at the kitchen table while they were doing something, it always seemed to be the times we had our best talks.
Subjects would come up naturally in the process of whatever was going on, and they both always seemed interested in what I had to say. Both of my grandmothers, although strict disciplinarians, were very tender and loving. I can still feel now, how good I felt after talking with them. It was like I was the most important person in the world to them. They never made me feel like anything I said was silly or childish. As a matter of fact, they seemed to be interested in anything I had to say! (Of course I understand now, as a grandparent myself, it's a lot easier to be an attentive listener when you aren't the parent doing it 24/7! I also understand after being a parent, that the time I spent with my grandparents gave my parents some well deserved time off!)
When spending time with my grandchildren, I try to remember those times with my grandmothers, and how they made me feel. I want them to have the same sweet, warm memories of their Oma (German for grandmother) that I treasure to this day of my own grandmothers. It seems harder to do these days though. Times are different. (And now that I've made statements like that, it's obvious I'm old enough to be a grandparent!) But seriously, with modern conveniences and electronic entertainment, the numerous school activities and sports children can participate in, families spread out in different states, and a lot of grandparents still in the workforce, like this innkeeper, those "natural" times I had with my grandmothers are a lot harder to come by.
But it is doable, and I'm trying my best to make it happen whenever and however I can. As a matter of fact, the cookie jar also sparked an idea - a new category to add to our blog . . .Cookies from Oma's Kitchen. I'm going to try very hard to use the blog to share thoughts and feelings as they come up naturally that I want to share with my grandchildren. They may not get to hear it naturally at that moment in time, but at least it will help me remember to tell them - another time. And who knows, maybe sharing some of the warm and sweet thoughts of them that come from Oma's kitchen, may spark some of our best talks ever!