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!
Do you consider yourself to be “green;” as in conserving resources? When I was an Extension Agent, I recall teaching 4-Hers about energy efficiency in the day when we were rationing gas! I have practiced preserving our precious clean water to be a good steward of our natural resources. But last week, when I was asked to light the pilot light for the gas logs in a guest room (while the temperature outside was 90 degrees), I was a rather uncomfortable, knowing that the ambiance would be coupled with the overworked air conditioner for this lovely couple. We did it …but I cringed!
When we designed and built Bedford Landings to be a Bed and Breakfast, we paid attention to being energy efficient. We purchased energy efficient windows and installed Structural Insulated Panels as walls and installed heating and cooling units with the highest SEER rating at the time.
We installed Energy Star rated appliances, we use LED bulbs, and we manage the guest rooms in terms of heating and cooling so they are not using a great deal of energy when nobody in in the room. We designed the house to be situated on the lot to take advantage of the passive solar benefits and designed a sort of outrigger to shade the hot sun in the summer and allow the sun in the windows during the winter months.
This August (next month) we are installing solar panels on the hangar to collect and convert the warmth of the beautiful sun to not only offset our heating and cooling bills but, also to use a renewable resource that does not emit any greenhouse gases. Yes, we have to take out a loan to do so, but as we understand it, the savings will be realized within about 7 years.
Speaking of Greenhouse gas, what are they? Perhaps you have heard the term in the news and bantered around as believable or unbelievable, but what does it mean? And what is a carbon footprint?
A Greenhouse Gas (GHG) causes a greenhouse effect. Have you walked into a greenhouse? Mainly that is the production of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. We need these to maintain the Earth’s temperature. However human activities (since the mid 1700’s) have produced an increase in GHG. Of course this is where the Global Warming arguments occur so I will stop there.
Your Carbon Footprint is the total amount of GHG each individual produces and is usually expressed in tons of carbon dioxide (Co2). This includes your usage of all forms of transportation, heating and cooling homes, use of plastics, etc. It is your personal consumption of things that cause fuel consumption.
My husband is a pilot, we own a plane and have 4 vehicles, and we manage a business in our large home. My Carbon Footprint must be the size of Big Foot! As American’s, are we too self-centered to do a lot to make a difference? Really? Recently I saw a friend in a restaurant pull out of her purse, a recyclable (stainless steel) straw. And it made it think that there are at least small personal choice we can all make that could add up to make a pinpoint of a difference.
As a business owner and one who cares about her environment, I feel I must at least do my part. These seem so small in the big scheme of things, but I recall the Starfish story and realize that even the small steps matter! We are trying to be responsible at Bedford Landings.
One step is to grow locally. We serve wonderful omelets and I grow my own basil and tomatoes. Right outside the kitchen door, I can grab these organic items and collect my chicken eggs! It’s just a small something, but it’s something.
We have always recycled. We can recycle plastic, aluminum, tin, glass and cardboard in Bedford County. We have to separate it and collect it in the same manner.
But we are announcing our biggest change yet! If you come to Bedford Landings, we are no longer offering plastic water bottles. Sorry, even though we recycle them, we go through a ton of these! Instead, we will offer water bottle usage while you are here. Sure, you can purchase one if you like, but we will wash and recycle these wonderful aluminum water bottles for guest use.
We use only cloth napkins and reusable hand towels. We just throw these into the laundry (only a full load) to sanitize and reuse them.
Small steps yes, but we are trying. Maybe you would like to share other creative ideas with us about your practices and how we can continue to improve our carbon footprint. Sell a plane? That’s probably not gonna happen! In fact Jack will be test flying his 12 year project next week after the (hopeful) Tuesday inspection! We wish him luck and congratulate him on conserving funds by building his own GREEN plane!
In the meantime, we will continue to consider personal practices that will make even a small difference. How about you?
So far, Summer at Bedford Landings has been busy! Jack and I sang with the Lakeside Singers in concert June 8-9, 2019. We rehearse from March 1 until concert time each year. It’s a wonderful group and a rather short-term commitment sponsored by the Smith Mountain Arts Council.
The following weekend was Father’s Day weekend. That annual event brings Lyrics on the Lake featuring about 25 Nashville Songwriters to benefit Children’s Miracle Network. We sure enjoyed meeting many of the artists and Karen emceed for one of the events at Mango’s at Bridgewater Plaza. We have hosted songwriter, Bill DiLuigi for the past two years.
Bill has a new CD with some very thought provoking songs. The CD is called Pennsylvania Avenue but two of my favorite songs are about his parents. One entitled “Things my Father Gave Me” and the other “Son of Betty Jane” are both worth the listen and download (I-tunes and all of the other platforms). Bill gifted me with his CD and I gifted him with my new book entitled “Sweetness Begets Sweetness” about our family journey with Alzheimer’s disease.
Each day, Jack has been traveling to Salem, Virginia to a paint shop to work on and monitor the progress of the RV-10 airplane he has been building for 12 years. Anticipating flying it to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the big Air Venture Fly-in, he is slowly losing hope that the plane will be ready in time. Air Venture is just one month away and the plane is in pieces and parts in the paint shop. What has to happen in order to go would be a minor (maybe major) miracle. The parts must be transported on a trailed to Martinsville where Jack has rented a hangar. Martinsville has a longer runway and it’s not situated over trees and water as we are a SML (W-91). There, he will re-assemble these parts; wings, tail pieces, fuselage, etc. into an airplane. It must be weighed and inspected by the FAA representative. Then, he will be assigned at least 40 hours of flying it solo in a 100 mile radius or box before carrying any passengers. He will eventually fly it back to our hangar at the lake.
Maybe we will need to host a welcoming party! But, it just does not seem like we are going to make it to Oshkosh! Sad, yes! But better to make safe, wise decisions by checking it completely to be sure he didn’t forget any important element to keeping this bird in the air! The photo (right) shows our friend, Jonathan’s completed RV-10 so you can picture what ours will look like!
Today (June 18, 2019) the Google Calendar is not functioning. It’s not just me, but corporations around the globe are suffering from calendar-itis! Bedford Landings interfaces with Google Calendar for tracking our reservations. If you need to check a date, contact us by phone (the old fashioned way) and we will check availability for you. 540-488-4600.
What will July bring at Smith Mountain Lake (I would check my calendar but it’s down!). Actually I will have my grand daughter here for the month of July and she and my grandson will be involved in Vacation Bible School. There are Pirate Days around July 20 for those of us who are not going to Oshkosh (sad face) and lots of other lake activities! Come join in the fun!! Happy face!!
(Postscript: The Google Calendar has started working. It was down about 6 hours)
Summer is here and it’s not even June yet. It is expected to be in the 80’s and 90’s this week! So now is a great time to get out on the water and get your tan on! Jack and I took a quick outing on the water this past weekend just to gas up the boat. We keep it on my sister’s dock but Bedford Landings does have access to a community dock if you decide you want to walk down to the water or launch a boat.
Memorial Day Weekend – Several choices of live music around the lake at Mango’s, Wallers, Heath’s and other locations. The state park is hosting many family friendly activities.
Lakeside Singers and Lake Players– Performance in a show called “That’s Entertainment” June 7 (7 pm) and June 8 (3 pm) at Trinity Ecumenical Parish. Tickets are $12 and $15 for a fun evening of music and drama! Tickets available at www.smac-arts.com
Lyrics on the Lake Songwriter Festival is Father’s Day Weekend (June 14-15). That means multiple venues host (Nashville) budding artists to sing for FREE! Of course the venues hope you will purchase drinks and food but it is quite entertaining throughout the day and night all to benefit Children’s Miracle Network! Venues include Mango’s, Wallers, Magnum Point Marina, and others participate.
Smith Mountain Arts Council Coffeehouse – July 21- Enjoy wine, beer, light snacks and a fun music and storytelling show. Celebration Room in Downtown Moneta. Tickets available at www.smac-arts.com
Sunset Saturday– Hickory Hill vineyard. Every Saturday (in good weather) for music, picnic (bring your own) and relaxing with a glass of wine. See: www.smlwine.com
Pirate’s Weekend– July 19-21. Dress like a pirate. Everyone does it. Watch fun water battles, see the boat parade, and go to the Pirate’s ball. Even Jack and I dress up!
Make your reservations now for family overflow, a fun get away, or your vacation! We welcome you!
Have you ever just kept moving forward during a stressful time instead of letting the reality of a situation engulf you? Psychologists say that “denial” is a really comfortable place to be – and it’s true. After my mom died 5 years ago, we were busy with our B & B and exploring our new community of Smith Mountain Lake. I became quite involved in an array of lake activities. Since Mom had lived a distance from us anyway, it was easier thinking of her as away instead of dead! But on the occasions that I wanted to call her to share some life event, I would remember! Of course this was just a way of dealing with reality short term.
While she was ill, I kept an intermittent journal and saved many of my emails between my siblings and me as we communicated about her caregiving in her final years. Mom had Alzheimer’s Disease.
It took me until this year to review the notes and emails about her care to write her story, but I did it. And in writing her story, I was able to not only deal with her disease and ultimate death, but work my way out of denial. In the past, I have published children’s books (available on Amazon), but this one was different. It was emotionally trying to go through the notes and relive each event. I pushed to get it done by her birthday (March 22) and indeed I did. I have shared it now with my sister and brother as gifts and also shared it with Mom’s best friend. I gave each of them 2 copies and asked them to pass the book along to someone else who could benefit from reading about the ups and downs of caring for a loved one with memory issues. A few people locally have purchased my book and shared with me that they too, could relate to Mom’s story because of their current or past situations.
If you are in the midst of caregiving or know someone who is, please consider reading Mom’s story and telling me how you can relate. Then give the book to someone else. It is available in hard copy and by e-book. We all need support when facing the realities of losing a loved one. This was just my way of (finally) dealing with it.
The book is entitled, Sweetness Begets Sweetness. Why that title? Mom used to say it to us when we were kids to get us to be “nice” to our siblings. It was one of many platitudes to get us to behave! I am sure you have your own family sayings that you remember!
Family is one of the most important things in life (to me) and preserving the stories and memories may be more important to me in my later years than I know. There is much to be known yet about how Alzheimer’s disease is acquired and how it may be passed through genetics. So in the meantime, we learn what we can and share what we learn!
Postscript: After reading this book, my brother wrote this memory of Mom.
9 April 2019
My sister Karen wrote a book called “Sweetness Begets Sweetness” about the fading of my Mom via Alzheimer’s. As Mom’s third born and only son I am compelled to add a couple of comments. Karen did a magnificent job of capturing most of our feelings and memories. Karen has boundless energy of which I had just a bit. Great job Sis!
Lonely screamed out at me when I first read Karen’s rendition of Mom’s life. I had to read it twice to absorb the monumental woman that Karen describes. Mom, like all of us experience moments of loneliness, it is part the human condition. Her last few years, however, must have been pure lonely torture…for a while, until she no longer understood what loneliness meant. Seems we (Sherry, Karen and Me) became lonelier as we watched Mom’s mind slowly wither away. That rock of a Mom was going away.
In her day, she was one hell of a resource; the Google of the day. One quick call and she had an answer or at least some advice. When I was really young and did something really stupid she would send me after a switch off the old willow tree out front. Normally they were too small and I’d have to go back and get a bigger one. She “blistered” the backs of my legs bright red. This was cruel and unusual punishment, at the time, but she still had her mind. Later we graduated to rulers until they kept breaking, then fly swatters but they kept bending, finally “wait until your father gets home.” But she still had her mind. Later I realized this was some good old southern discipline.
Mom also taught me how to be a gentleman: open the door for the ladies or the infirm, walk on the outside on the sidewalk less a car tire splash the lady, yes Sir, and yes Ma’am. She drilled the multiplication tables into my thick head for years (I was the slowest learner of the kids, still am). Yet now, how I long for those days of interaction and learning.
Mom loved us all so much. I know we (mostly me) filled her mind with consternation and “good grief-ed-ness.” She loved more than anyone else could have!
So, as she was slowly taken from us, we hurt exponentially. The vacuum and loneliness was deafening. She was confused when we had to remove her from her home and into a professional care facility; even there with lots of people she was lonely and then lonely and lonelier. The harder we tried to fill her mind with something she could remember, the less she remembered. Before too long, she was but a shell. That rock of a Mom was almost gone.
Seconds before her last breath she whispered in my ear, “I love you son.”
M. G. Brown