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 that routine for these past few weeks. Each day 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. 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 came disallowing gatherings of more than 50. 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 zoom last night. It was just like our family in reality; mass confusion and hysteria!
Then the 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 cleaning after ourselves.
We started making a few crafty type things, we started re-doing the lattice work under out exterior decks, we masked 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 it is 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 hope to be done with the lattice work and we hope and pray that life will go back to normal.
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 as a 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 that recording was lost. But here is Jack playing bagpipes at Edenton Street UMC in Raleigh. (CLICK HERE). The video quality is not as good as today’s video quality would have been, but an impressive sound nonetheless.
Stay well, stay at a safe distance, make wise decisions about social interaction and hang in there! Look for the rainbows!
When we retired to Smith Mountain Lake we didn’t realize all the area had to offer. But like other retirees say, ” we don’t know how we ever had time to work before!” This lake is so charming and has such a cool story in the making of it. The lake became full pond 54 years ago. This week, the Roanoke Times ran a story with some great photos of how the dam was built. You may be interested in reading it.
As many of our blog readers are aware, we have an airplane and flying over the dam is such an interesting sight! Here is one aerial photo of the dam.
It is an amazing story of how the dam was built. Quite an engineering feat!
It’s fun to view the dam from the water, from the air and of course there is a visitor’s Center located at the Dam and you can take a tour and see the dam from all angles.
And until you have seen a sunset on Smith Mountain Lake in the summer, you haven’t gotten the full experience! They are amazing!
Plan your trip now! We look forward to seeing you this Spring and Summer!
One more update: We are hosting a Murder Mystery at Bedford Landings March 21. Get your tickets now! There are 17 tickets remaining.
People ask if we enjoy what we do. Indeed we do and it is because we meet so many interesting people. Last weekend, a couple who stayed with us impressed me with their work ethic, goals, and drive. The gal in the couple writes a blog and we were so pleased to be the content of her most recent article. Please read about their experience staying at Bedford Landings B & B!
Thank-you Amelia and Gabe!
One other item of business! We are hosing our 4th Murder Mystery March 21. Tickets are available now. Check it out! This event is a lot of fun!
Do you know what Book Direct means? Let me explain. Our reservations/bookings for a stay at Bedford Landings B & B have fallen. Why, we ask, did business fall off since March 2019? We have learned through our Association of Lodging Professionals that Google changed their algorithm in March 2019. But their quest to dominate the travel industry started before that (in 2014).
A Google survey of 1000 random users (age 18-65+) was conducted by the Association. The association queried consumers about that the blue Book a Room button. Here is what consumers thought:
There is a Bill in the Senate to address this issue as the Google changes are in direct opposition to fair trading. There is an identical House Bill.
“Stop Online Booking Scams Act” is Senate Bill S. 1164
The Bill is asking that lodging owners are restored their right to control their own Google Listings. For example, Bedford Landings B & B may show up in the Google Maps App but it also comes up in Google Hotels and we cannot edit the listing.
We have a Google Business page as well. We built that page 8 years ago but Google has now usurped it and I cannot edit it directly. Edits must be sent in and reviewed first. There is a button that reads: Get a Quote. However trying the button myself didn’t even email me the request.
Simply googling Bedford Landings results in a picture of our property, but Google has removed the previously available consumer access to the ‘Visit Website’ link and the phone number for direct access replacing it with a dead link once a consumer clicks on “Book a Room.” We are not a members of the expensive online travel agencies.
February 5th is Book Direct Day
Bedford Landings wants to especially welcome your reservations on that day for any day this year (2020) and we will give you 10% off your room for booking direct on February 5th!
In the comments section of your reservation form that comes in by booking directly write: I booked direct!
This will eliminate hidden fees passed on through OTAs and you will have the personalized service we promise plus be able to work with us directly if there is a change in travel plans, need to change your date, or add on amenities.
Don’t wait to Book Direct! and spread the word please!
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!