We have changed our phone number. Why? We finally got high speed internet and with that package came a new phone number. Apparently, they could not port the old one. So, call us at 540-296-5670 to make reservations. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Over the past seven years of B & B operation, this June has been the busiest month ever in terms of room nights. Even during the pandemic! Why? Most of the guests say they have been quarantined and now that restrictions have partially been lifted, need a place to go. Many indicate that they prefer a B & B over a large hotel. We have never seen so many families traveling together! The Flying room (which can take 6 maximally) is getting a workout!
How are we handling the pandemic protocol?
We meet guests at the door. Some are masked and some are not. We explain that since this is our home, we are not wearing masks, EXCEPT when we serve them their breakfast. But the rule is, if anyone is uncomfortable at any time, we will all don our masks. We indeed are physically-socially distancing. I have begun calling it the social distancing dance! Have you done this step in a grocery store around unmasked people?
Also, we seat folks at breakfast with their families and seat other guest at another table. We have been pretty successful keeping people away from each other. But…that takes some of the fun out of a B & B. People like to meet each other and talk. So instead, we rotate table to table and chat with them.
We are constantly wiping surfaces, hand railings, doorknobs, light switches, and remotes with disinfecting wipes. We are washing all bedding including pillow shams and bedspreads. This takes a lot longer. We have two washers and dryers but last week one of the dryers went on the fritz. Ugh. Jack took the whole dryer apart and you would not believe the build up inside the dryer! We had to dig and clean it out!
So, first lesson, clean the insides of your dryers about every two years or so. It is a major cause of house fires! We finally found a repair person who disassembled the entire dryer to replace the heating coil.
That is the million-dollar question! Although things are beginning to feel more normal with the onset of summer, being too close, too fast could lead to an upsurge in outbreaks. People around Smith Mountain Lake are still being extremely careful since many are retirees and considered at risk. Many young families visiting the lake may not understand the precautions and why everyone is so insistent on continuing to wear a mask. I remember feeling more invincible when I was younger too, but as we age, we realize that being “laid up” is not worth it in the long run. So please, if you are visiting, wear your masks in public places!
We have been quite impressed with the masking of servers and one-use menu options, outdoor seating, and limited capacity seating that our local restaurants have observed during this phased-in re-opening!
In past years on this weekend, we would have made a trip over to the Booker T. Washington National Monument to celebrate Juneteenth with their annual festival and re-enactment. Juneteenth is the celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. With the lack of social media back in 1865, news traveled slowly and didn’t get to some parts of the country until 2.5 years after the Executive Order was signed.
The other activity we always look forward to is Lyrics on the Lake. It is always Father’s Day weekend. Of course it was cancelled, but we are so hoping this event will return next year! Many Nashville songwriters trek to SML to sing competitively to raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network. We have housed many talented artists over time and remain friends, particularly with Bill DiLuigi and Deidre Thornell. Deidre just released a single amid the pandemic. Both are very talented artists!
Speaking of Father’s Day. There are so many wonderful men in my life, my husband, my brother, my son, my bothers in law, my son-in-law, even my ex-husband! Love to all the fathers. I am posting a photo of me with my sweet Daddy. He died in 1993 and here I am the age he was when he died. Morbid, I know — but the pandemic ain’t got me yet! Hang in all!
It is the pandemic 2020. That means we are staying home and making do with what we have for not only supplies, but self-entertainment. I had already painted a little, made face masks, and crafted a few other items. What next?
I was looking around the house for something I could improve. Mind you, I would generally not have the time nor patience for the activity I decided upon. I decided that a little wooden rocking chair needed improvement! I had purchased this sturdy little rocker at least 7 years ago at a thrift shop and it had been sitting in the weather year after year on the star-gazing deck. It is strong and the rush bottom seat had lasted a good long time, since before I had purchased it. But now there were at least 6 strands of rush hanging loose. The first thing I did was cut them out and discard them. That left me with an empty seat. I turned to Pinterest to see how I could replace the chair seat with materials I may have on hand. That’s when I decided to start photo-documenting the process.
At this point, allow me to thank a fabric chair seat blogger for her clear instructions. Thank-you A. McInnis Artworks. I pinned you!
I sanded the weather worn wood and looked to see what kind of paint I had on hand: pink, black, orange, blue, and maroon. I selected maroon. I spray painted the frame first. Spray paint takes little time to dry so I went on a hunt for scrap fabric while it dried. Yes, I know I didn’t have it all planned out from the beginning.
I looked in the scrap box where I had found for fabric to make (PPE) protective masks. The scraps that were left were too small. I began thinking about what shirt or dress I could cut up and use. Then I opened another box in the basement. I found some poems and prayers my dad had written. That distracted me for a while. Then I found his old navy officer figurine. I glued the placard back on the base. But then as I dug a little deeper, BINGO! I found a large piece of navy-blue fabric that I think I was considering using to make curtains for the Flying Room. I needed a piece 45 inches wide and A. McInnis had said I needed 3.5-4.5 yards. My guess is that I had 2.5 yards. I located a few other small pieces I could use if I needed to. It really doesn’t matter about the color. You will essentially be weaving with strips of fabric into the chair base. Mixing and matching colors would work as well as using the same color.
The paint was dry so I began the process. I opened the workshop door and took a folding chair out into the sun to begin to cut the strips. A. McInnis recommended tearing the fabric for a straighter cut. I was good with that plan because cutting 40-some strips into equal pieces would have taken a painfully long time. She advised that if you tear them you will have to deal with the raveling strings. That was ok. I am into quick projects with satisfactory results. I began tearing 1 ½ inch strips.
Tie about 20 strips around one direction and knotting. Double knot while leaving the knot on the underside of the chair seat. Scrunch them together as you go. Some people can fit as many as 23-24 strips of fabric. I think I fit 19. You will trim the knotted ends to about 1 inch on each tie and you will tuck them under as you go later on. Just keep tying the strips for now. The next pictures shows what it looks like to this point from the underside.
Once finished the horizontal direction, you will now begin to weave the next set of 20 strips perpendicular to this row. Begin in the middle and weave the new strip over and under each piece. Alternate the next strip under then over for the next row working from the center out to the edges. Leave the ends hanging untied for now. The fabric looks good!
Just continue until you have a bunch of hanging ends. Then you will start working from the underside of the chair doing more backside weaving.
You can see by this series of photos that the afternoon sun was upon us. About that time, Jack drug a chair out next to me, brought his banjo to practices and I tell you it was like a scene out of an old episode of Beverly Hillbillies! I just had to chuckle! What has this pandemic done to our social life? And do I like it? Or not?
I took a break after working after about 2 hours. I knew I could complete it the next day. I rarely just let a project sit out. We do run a B & B …but with no guests to impress, I just left my project. I walked away without even cleaning up! Pretty therapeutic I suppose!
I picked up the next day and it only took about another hour to complete the chair bottom. On the underside locate the ends of each strand to weave. Pull the loose ends to the underneath and again weaving and knotting. Trim the ends of the double knotted weave to about an inch loose ends.
Now was time to turn over the chair and test it out!
It’s really strong and not bad looking!
Time spent: 3 hours
Guess who got to sit in it first? My little banjo buddy! Because by now, it is time for his daily banjo practice session!
When I was working full time, I yearned for the time to do some of the things I wanted to do. When I retired, I became so busy in the community that I didn’t have spare time to do some of the things I wanted to do still!
Then came the Coronavirus (JAWS soundtrack!). With social isolation and a limited social life, we are finding that we are catching up with many of the things we have need to do and finding new outlets as well! Now, we have nothing but time!
I wanted to just share a sampling of some of the things we are dabbling with. I hope you will share back!
Whereas Jack has done productive repair work, I have dabbled. I made a small welcome sign for the back door where guests come and go and painted a feather (not sure why but it was relaxing).
I made a little step stool for our 2-year-old granddaughter’s birthday. I found the Pinterest pattern and Jack helped me know what to do. Again, painting was the best part for me! The dried flower arrangement I made using last year’s dried hydrangeas that I had saved.
Jack framed the lattice on the underside of the deck. He did a superb job! One day, we pulled out the oven to replace the upper element. And as I have noted in a prior blog, we cleaned out Marthy’s Creek, our water feature. None of these were small feats!
Mask making came during a flurry about the third week of the pandemic. I used all of my scraps and ended up with 10 masks to share. That’s the extent of my sewing.
Why do recipes found through Facebook never turn out like they look in their videos? This spicy taco ring looked far better in the video. The ingredients called for 2 TABLESPOONS of cayenne. It was so spicy that it took a load of water to wash it down, but the coconut cake I made was to die for! It was one of my mom’s old recipes I ran across in my recipe box.
Jack is bound and determined to make a good pie crust. Here he is trying again while Destiny helps!
We try to do something active each day. A week ago, our granddaughter needed a change of venue. Since she had been isolated and we had as well, we brought her to our house to do her school work. The teachers are sure keeping this 9th grader busy! One of her assignments is to keep a physical activity log. We didn’t know about the log until after we hiked up Smith Mountain. That took 4.5 hours and we were totally sore but then two days later took a biking trip in the state park.
I enjoy photography, but photo editing is not my forte. Using interesting apps to enhance photos is fun, however. Destiny (super grand daughter) even did a little lego movie.
Early on during social isolation, I joined with a few others to develop a virtual community whereby people can join together using ZOOM to learn a new skill or simply hang out together. The first trial ZOOM was children’s book reading. These recordings are online. Since then we have had a successful iris class, happy hours, how to make Mood Boards, Book clubs and more.
We have gotten together as a family a few times using zoom. It is crazy with everyone trying to talk—just like real life! When it was Easter, we had the kids make props! Well I did too!
Jack plays a little music each day. He has bagpiped for the church service (recordings) and continues to learn banjo through Ricky’s Bluegrass connection virtual lessons. Here is Jack playing “Morning has Broken” with my photos inserted in the production.
As President of the Smith Mountain Arts Council (SMAC), I have held two Board meetings via ZOOM. During the last meeting, we decided to try something creative to allow people to record themselves doing something using their art talents. The interest is building. We are calling this SMAC-tube. Check it out.
What have you been doing to pass the time at home? Learn to blog and share your link! Happy days to each of our friends! We miss you!!
Didn’t you always think that living through a pandemic was only something described in a sci-fi movie, a Dean Kootz novel, or (the locust swarm story) the Bible? But each day that I awaken, first I am thankful to be well …and second, I remind myself that we are still self-quarantined.
Every day I start my day at 7:00 by watching the national news. I have continued this routine for these past few weeks. Alternatively, Jack basks in the newness of the day from the hot tub on our deck. During the pandemic, I have grown increasingly stressed and he keeps saying, “I am kind of enjoying this isolation.” Granted, he is more introverted than I am, but what was the difference in his perception and mine? The NEWS!
In my previous (paid) work, I advised stressed families through disasters and the number one piece of advice was to limit TV! So, yesterday I heeded my own advice. I did not start my day with the news. I also added a brisk walk. Amazingly my spirits lifted! I won’t be in the dark having missed the latest reports because I am confident it will also appear on Facebook!
Reflecting on the past few weeks, I am guilty of having passed through several of the phases that families experience when they are stressed after a disaster (see box). That disaster could be a house fire, a tornado, or even a self-isolating pandemic.
We have keep our house clean in case we have a guest who calls at the last minute to book a B & B room. And we were ok when the rule was limiting gatherings to no more than 100 people. We could deal with that. We had a Murder Mystery planned with 39 ticket holders.
During the Heroic phase, we cleaned. We disinfected every headboard, counter top, railing, sink, faucet, doorways, horizontal and vertical surfaces were. We were ready for guests and the Murder Mystery. We practiced elbow bumps and our adrenaline was pumping.
No more than 50 People
Then the news announced tat gatherings of more than 50 were disallowed. Being President of the Smith Mountain Arts Council (SMAC), I was faced with holding a discussion with the Board about cancelling our next coffeehouses and our April photo show. The Boomer Band canceled a show, the churches closed, restaurants started offering only carry out, and traffic came to a halt.
These actions were novel enough to be a bit fun in the challenge of how to interact from a pace of 4-6 feet. This was the Honeymoon phase. People helping people. The young were grocery shopping for the old; neighbors were gifting toilet paper to each other, and we all called old friends to just extend greetings and socially interact.
No more than 10 People requires ZOOMING
During this Honeymoon phase, Jack and I joined several Zoom video meetings. We hear that Zoom stock has risen exponentially (from $36 per share to $151 per share) as people realize how this virtual space can serve as a great substitute for face to face meetings since we can no longer convene more than 10 people. There are funny things about Zooming. No need for fancy shoes or pants since you are only seen from the waist up. And you gotta’ get the camera angle right or you might convey oversized nostrils and multiple chins! We are involved in a community effort soon to be unfolded to bring people together virtually using Zoom. My crazy family tried to “zoom” recently. It was just like our family in reality; mass confusion and hysteria!
Then the B&B cancellations started coming. In two weeks, we have had 8 cancellations (in our 4-room inn) and refunded each of their $100 deposits. We have postponed the Murder Mystery until May and only hope we can hold it then.
Several people have called seeking a spring break location for their kids or a get-away with their mate. But where have these people been? Might they be carriers of the virus? We determined not to host any guests until April 1 and then re-evaluate. Ugh!
After cancelling reservations and getting used to staying home, we started living in our house; meaning we aren’t as conscientious about picking up and picking-up after ourselves.
We started making a few crafty type things, we started re-doing the lattice work under our exterior decks, we donned facial masks up to muck out our water feature (called Marthy’s Creek named after my mom).
About March 9, we got baby chicks. We wanted to integrate them into our 4-chicken flock. The gramma chickens are about three years old now. They have to grow their feathers before being outside. But now the chickens have started growing. They have been living in the laundry room in a large tote with a heat lamp. I have now named them Stinky and Stanky.
With the chickens and our messy projects, there are chicken shavings, mulch. and sawdust tracked through the house. We have not been upstairs to the guest level so our guest room are still clean and sanitized. But next week, we will clean the main level again and hopefully these chickens will have grown enough feathers to be put outside. We are almost done with the lattice work and we hope and pray that life will go back to normal soon.
The stressful part is the unknown. We have lived through the fun part of a disaster. The heroic and honeymoon periods are almost over. The first two are the shortest stages of the succession. Now reality creeps in. During hurricane disasters, people begin to realize that “the gov-ment” (FEMA) cannot save them. With the pandemic, people must realize that an infusion of $500-$2000 won’t last a long time. If we must extend the social isolation, quarantines, and elbow bumping, the stress level will rise. When recovery is lengthy, people get desperate. Domestic violence generally rises and depression sets in.
Advice: Be aware that there is an underlying tension and that the longer the necessary isolation continues, the more intense the stress. What projects can you do at home in terms of reorganizing sorting, painting, cleaning. Go outside and bike or walk. Keep children in a routine, revive your family game nights, and gather to discuss household tensions before they have a chance to swirl out of control.
As for us, we recognize prayer is an important daily ritual. There are many ways to pray and just be silent and think about the many gifts and goodness in our lives. Jack has played bagpipes for a friend’s fly-over memorial service, played pipes for our church virtual newsletter, and played pipes for the taping of the Sunday church service. Weirdly enough the church service recording was lost. But here is Jack playing bagpipes at Edenton Street UMC in Raleigh. (CLICK HERE). The 2009 video quality is not as good as today’s video quality would have been, but an impressive sound nonetheless. And he can still wear that same kilt!
Stay well, stay at a safe distance, make wise decisions about social interaction and hang in there! Look for the rainbows!