When I was in first grade, I started taking piano lessons at 8:00 each morning before school. I had to walk from my house to the piano teacher’s house for this early lesson. I took weekly lessons for 9 years. By 9th grade, I let piano go in favor of other developing interests. Luckily I had developed the skills to read treble and bass cleft through piano. In 6th grade, I started playing in the school band. I was given a used clarinet and by 8th grade, my parents surprised me with a brand new clarinet for my birthday. I was never first chair since Ted Smutz, Billy White and Ann Powley held down the first three chairs smartly. I generally sat on the second row, but first chair in the second row!
In 9th grade, I also started being interested in being the field conductor for the band. That is similar to a drum major, but one who conducts a marching band on the field or in parade with white-gloved hands. I went to a summer A.R. Casavant field conducting camp in Ohio and learned some great precision marching skills that I put to work. I became field conductor for the 8thgrade band until my band director tapped me to be the Blacksburg High school band field conductor when I was in 11th grade. We developed field routines, went to competitions (Bristol and Myrtle Beach among them), marched in parades played for pep rallies, and football games. I LOVED this part of my high school years. The band rehearsed as much as the football team practiced marching about 5 miles a day after school.
There was an abrupt pause in my musical fun right after high school as I attended college; eventually earning a doctorate, having two children, and moving several times during my career. There was a musical pause (or rest!) until now.
NOW, I AM RETIRED and I can revisit some of the most fun I had in my life on a different level. Retiring to Smith Mountain Lake, I joined the Lakeside Singers, a community chorus of about 50 singers. Each year we rehearse weekly starting in March and culminating in two concerts the first weekend in June. We have great fun making music together.
Lakeside Singers in ConcertOne year, to raise a little extra money to support hiring a few more instrumentalists for the Lakeside Singers concert, eleven of us offered a variety show. We called ourselves the Lake Pops (a subset of the Lakeside Singers).
My husband, Jack, likened the Lake Pops show to a backyard carnival where all the kids performed and the parents watched. That first year with the Lake Pops was indeed such a variety show but the audience had fun and we had fun. So we tried it again. This Lake Pop 11-person ensemble has now morphed into an 8-person band featuring 3 female vocalists, a male vocalist, a bass guitar, two lead guitars, a keyboard and a drummer.
Calling ourselves the Boomer Band, we play 50’s, 60’s and 70’s music for charitable causes. By playing a little Brown-eyed Girl, Under the Boardwalk and Take Me Home Country Road, one audience (May 2019) helped the SML Good Neighbors raise upwards of $20,000. We next performed in the Fall of 2019 for a Smith Mountain Arts Council Coffeehouse. Again the audience seemed to be having fun singing along with the familiar songs. Our next gig is in February 2020 as a benefit for the Food for Kids organization putting meals into backpacks for needy children.
So here I am rehearsing again. With a new SML Boomer Band show coming up in just 6 weeks, we will be rehearsing twice a week and have identified a handful of new songs to learn. It may not be 5 miles or marching a day, but it’s hard to sit still and not bop to the fun music we are making even in rehearsals! Can you be 65 and be a rocker? Indeed!
This story is just a way to demonstrate that we have a life! Many times we learn that guests thought that we were just sitting and waiting for them to arrive. Sometimes we do wait and rarely do we make Friday evening plans because of guest arrivals. We expect late arrivals on Fridays. But we really appreciate it when guests let us know their arrival times. Indeed we are dedicated innkeepers but we also have an active community life.
When we check in guests, we are in the moment! We show people around the house, give them a map, discuss restaurant options, and answer questions.
We arise about 6:15 and are in the kitchen by 7:00 preparing a gourmet breakfast. We greet each guest and stay available throughout breakfast to listen, learn, and share. It’s what we love about being innkeepers.
A singing innkeeper? Maybe not, but if you ask, Jack may play the bagpipes for you!! Come see us this winter!
Whoosh- we went from a sweet, colorful, warm fall to temperatures below freezing! I haven’t blogged in some time as as business at Bedford Landings has been steady this summer and fall. So to catch my blogging friends up with our B & B life, here is a recap.
Early in September we traveled to Yorktown for a Virginia Innkeepers board meeting. I am on the board so I had to meet while Jack explored Yorktown from a historical perspective. It is a lovely Chesapeake Bayside town! That evening the Marl Inn, where we were staying, had an oyster roast. I wasn’t sure that I would like them but the Oysters Rockefeller (with spinach and Romano cheese) really were quite good! Cheese makes everything better!
On September 17, I had total shoulder replacement and am still in physical therapy to get my full range of motion back. It was getting more and more difficult to make beds, carry loads of laundry, and reach to high shelves. I feel it was worth it in terms of the pain level before and after.
After surgery, and all of the rest of September and October, I was busy rehearsing for an incredibly fun show. A few years ago, several other musicians and I formed what we call the Smith Mountain Lake Boomer Band.
Of course all band members are Baby Boomers being born between 1946-1964. Many (most!) of the population at Smith Mountain Lake is of boomer age as well, so that is the type of music that we sing! Not for pay mind you; generally for charity. We sang last spring for the SML Good Neighbors program raising over $25,000. There was a $10,000 donation in the mix but that’s still pretty good.
Boomers Sang Again
This Fall (November 8) we sang for the Smith Mountain Arts Council (SMAC) Coffeehouse. Not much coffee was consumed over the course of the evening but the proceeds from whatever sales occurred are split with the vendor (Casa D’Amichi) and SMAC.
What great fun it was to entertain, laugh and sing!
~~~Side note: I was serving as VP of SMAC. The President decided to put her house on the market and move to NC. Guess who is President of SMAC now? 🥴
About the Airplane
Jack has decided he may name his newly built airplane “Leaking Lena” since every time he thinks he has all of the issues resolved, she springs either a tiny oil leak or gas tank leak. I have been up in the plane and it is truly a masterpiece. He will get everything resolved soon and we will plan a trip. Stay tuned for that!
Mickey and Minnie
For at least 2 years now, I have been promising our grand daughter, Destiny a trip to Disneyworld. At 14 years old, I was afraid her teenager-ness may out grow this wonderful storybook place! But, we just got back. We actually never did see Mickey and Minnie which was a disappointment but we did everything else including Epcot. This four day mini-trip was great fun. The most incredible part at Disney was the light show on Cinderella’s castle. Epcot’s “Soarin” hang-gliding ride won for Destiny’s favorite in the Epcot park. We had to experience that one twice.
We are so looking forward to spending time with the whole fam damily at Thanksgiving in just a few weeks. My nephew and family have stepped up to host this year’s family event in Mebane, NC. Some of our favorite dishes besides the turkey include corn pudding and strawberry-pretzel “salad.” My mom always called it a salad but really it is desert-like! I thought I would even share this incredible family recipe, stains and all! I will be making that to take so I can continue to hear the “Yums” expressed and to remember Mom.
Enjoy your fall. Give thanks for all of the gifts in your life. Reach out and share some love and come see us at Bedford Landings Bed & Breakfast!
When Jack and I met in 2003, he was more than 75% finished with the Pietenpol Air Camper that he was building. This unique 1929 design open cockpit airplane was sitting in his basement and he was working on the fabric covering.
I learned that building things was Jack’s hobby and that aviation was his passion. Every day after work and dinner, he would go to the basement to work a few hours on his airplane. It was at that time that I started writing my first book, a poetry book entitled Love to Share .
I compiled all of the poems I had written over time for people and about events. This project was more in keeping with my hobbies and helped me pass the time while he was in the basement completing this airplane.
It was a fun day when he first took the first flight in the Pietenpol (2004). In June 2006, we got married. And of course he was already flying the Piet around the Raleigh area where we lived. The cute plane was getting a lot of acclaim and people thought it was a great piece of work. I agreed. He even won an an Outstanding Workmanship Award at Oshkosh for his masterpiece.
That summer (just a month after we were married), we went to Air Venture in Oshkosh, WI where the biggest international fly-in event is held each year. He wanted to know if I wanted to look at the RV-10s. It was during that fly-in that he decided this would be his next airplane project. This man always has to have an aviation related project going on, it would seem.
The RV-10 came in a series of kits to be purchased. Whereas Jack built every last wooden piece of the Pietenpol according to the Pietenpol family blueprints, the first RV-10 kit arrived looking like an erector set.
It was a project that I would never have tackled. But Engineer Jack thrives on this sort of intricate mechanical puzzle.
The instruction notebook alone was massive. He highlighted each completed section.
Of course I wanted to be involved with what he was working on so here’s a picture of me holding some of the initial structure of what was to later become a completed airplane. There were sooo many rivets to hold the plane together and I “bucked” my share of rivets.
The tail kit was the first to complete. Apparently a lot of RV builders never get beyond this point. It lets you try your hand without a great deal of investment. We started work on it in our basement in Raleigh, North Carolina.
One of the most astonishing steps, I felt was when Jack announced that he had bid on a refurbished airplane engine on E-bay! I could hardly believe that this was something he could count on. He claimed that because the logbooks were included and the engine had just been overhauled, according to the seller, that the engine would work just fine. Ho boy! That engine sat in the crate about 11 years.
After a few years working on the wings and tail, we made a big decision to take a bit of an early retirement and move to an airport community at Smith Mountain Lake. We closed on the land actually a month before we were married.
Once our house went on the market in Raleigh we knew we had to put the RV-10 pieces that had been completed in the crate to store them safely in order for our house to show and for us to move and eventually build our dream home, which became Bedford Landings Bed and Breakfast. This photo shows the trailer loaded down with the crates of pieces and parts that had been completed that were to go into storage.
It was during the housing crisis (about 2012)that we decided to sell our home in North Carolina. Taking over 3 years to sell the house and another 18 months to build Bedford Landings, the tail and both wings remained in storage for over four years. During that time, of course, he could not make any progress on the plane but we built a house! Once we had our business up and running, we were able to uncrate the parts of the airplane that were completed and he spent a good deal of his 401(k) on purchasing the next kits.
One of the largest (and most expensive) purchases was the instrument panel. He traveled to Oshkosh in 2017 to get the show deal (and of course gawk at the 100’s of thousands of airplanes at the fly-in. The installation of the “built to specifications” panel required exact wiring to be sure each control was properly wired.
Every phase of this project has brought new shape to the airplane; adding the landing gear, mounting the very heavy engine on the fuselage, eventually disassembling the entire project and taking it on a trailer to the paint shop located in Salem Virginia, and then finally taking it part by part to the Martinsville airport to reassemble it where Jack would do his first flight.
This total project has taken him 12 1/2 years to complete and I must say I’m very proud of the tenacity in sticking with such a long term and involved project. I’m not sure I’ve ever worked on anything for such a long period of time to see it through until completion except of course raising my children.
And what did I do while he was in the hangar building an airplane? So far, I have 5 books. Three are children’s books written with my grand children as key characters. Each book also features airplanes. One is about my mom’s journey with Alzheimer’s Disease and then there is my first poetry book
Jack is half way through his (FAA) assigned 40 hours of flying the plane solo. This time flying the plane helps him trouble shoot and learn all the workings on the electronic systems. Once the 40 hours have been logged, he can take a passenger. Who wants to go first? Wait, I think I will!
Lastly, some have asked what the significance of the call numbers are on the plane. There is a pilot’s alphabet so that making calls over the radio are clear. A= Alpha, B= Bravo, C=Charlie and so forth. Generally the numbers and letters that come after the “n” are used as the call letters of the plane. All American airplanes start with “N.” N= November but in the case of the new RV-10, we would just call out 142KW.
Well, K= Kilo and W=Whiskey.
Say his call numbers fast (reference the title of this blog) and see what you have!
Parts of the last two blog posts have focused on steps that we are taking to reduce our carbon footprint. To that end, we had an opportunity to collectively report these steps to Virginia Green Travel Alliance. Recently, we were awarded a certificate recognizing that we are a Virginia Green Travel Partner.
Referencing last month’s blog, our solar panels have not been inspected yet but we are hoping that we can report that we are collecting the sunshine soon!
And for those who know that Jack built a GREEN airplane, he now has it back at the Smith Mountain Lake airport. After he flies 40 hours on it (to be sure all is working properly), I plan to fly with him! It is a beautiful work done by a fine craftsman, mechanic, and engineer!
Thank-you for the part you are doing to be green as you reduce, reuse, and recycle.
When we decided that our retirement home would become a Bed & Breakfast, we knew it would not really be a money making venture. Instead, we looked at this endeavor as a way to have a retirement project that was a new life and a totally different one than our corporate or academic worlds. We have found that it is a life change. But, we are thriving while being involved in a vibrant community and enjoying this interesting vehicle to meet fascinating people, to build a business together as a couple, and to experiment in the kitchen.
Having built our home/Bedford Landings six years ago, we are now starting to experience some of what every homeowner dislikes…repairs. During construction, when the stone mason and the roofer had a disagreement on the roof, the chimney was not properly flashed. Neither of these subcontractors would take responsibility for fixing it over the past 6 years. Instead, we have had a parade of subs to estimate; then never show up for the work. Two of them applied some sort of tar substance hoping for the best. Others were simply not interested in climbing on the roof 50 feet off the ground.
Every time we experienced a torrential rain, there was a drip that ran down one of the timbers and dripped on the window seat below. We put down towels and buckets but were fearful that we would have mold growing underneath. I am deathly allergic to mold and mildew. Using word of mouth (through the Residents of SML Facebook page) there were an overwhelming number of recommendations to call on Bob Riddick Home Services.
They gave me an initial estimate of $3000 to make the repair but once they removed the first layer of stone, they found bigger issues. To make a long story short, our investment in this repair ended up being about $9000 instead. However, we feel confident that the problem has been resolved. During this two-week period, they were a great crew, cleaning up as they went and were cordial with our guests. Since then we have had several torrential rains and no leaks.
That brings me back to money making. We had a good July with only one day off the whole month and earned enough to pay for this roof repair. All months are not like that. That was one of our best.
Next we go to the screened porch. Jack was DONE with building the house when it came time to screen the porch. Neither of us has ever been happy with the resulting screened porch. When the screen pulled away (in yet another wind and rain storm) and started flapping in the wind, our staple job just would not hold. We enlisted a screening company. Jason Nuckols at Vinyl Porch Railing, who agreed to re-screen the porch. In June, he promised it would be scheduled in about two weeks. However they were unable to work us in until mid August. This wasn’t a huge concern since we were still working with the roofers and welcoming guests to enable us to pay for the repair. The screen replacement totaled $1650 but they did a really neat job and we can check that off the list. Next, who do you know that can repair (and waterproof) the ceiling of the screened porch? Maybe next summer’s project!
During the end of July and midway into August, we have been without our primary washing machine. After diagnosis, a gearbox (third one for this Maytag in 6 years) was ordered and needed to be installed. Sears Home Warranty gives consumers a designated window of time in which the repairperson will arrive. My window was a large one…8-5. The repair guy arrived at 4:40 and we had dinner plans with friends for 5:15. He fixed it and we headed out the door a little late for dinner. In the interim, we used the washer in the hangar. Recall we had lived in the hangar and never have gotten rid of the washing machine that is there. We use it when we have to flip all four rooms in one day. That little craigslist washer was a lifesaver with our busy July. Housekeeper Patty got in plenty of extra steps those 3 weeks. I had purchased a home warranty on all of our appliances and am glad I did but am totally considering purchasing a Speed queen washer when our coffers build back.
To power a 5700 sq. ft home we range from $400-600 per month in electric bills depending on the weather. We have considered Solar power for some time and we finally bit the bullet and had Main Street Solar install panels. This expense required a line of credit, which needs to be paid off in a year. We are hopeful that with the $10,000 tax credit and continuing to market the B & B through the fall and winter we can pay for this investment.
It is estimated to show a pay off in about 7 years.
We had the panels installed on the hangar. There is no shade and it’s a nice flat surface. Andrew from Main Street Solar took a photo of the 48 panels. They are yet to be inspected but we are really excited to watch this investment pay off!
Referring to last month’s blog, recall we are trying to minimize our impact on the environment and the installation of the solar panels is yet another way we are attempting to reduce our “footprint!”
Money Pit or Money Maker?
So the original question—is this B & B a moneymaker or a money pit? Referencing a book we read when we were deciding if we should or could run a B & B, “…it affords you to live where you want to live.” And for us, we have been able to realize an allowance to re-invest into the business. Of course greater than that, Bedford Landings provides a home to share with new and old friends and family as well! We still like it!