Saturday, July 31, 2010

Some day my roof will come

So, here we are, in a "state of expectancy". After the last hailstorm
we contacted a series of roofing contractors finally having decided to
just go ahead and "bite the bullet" (actually, with this structure,
it's more like nibbling a cannonball). It's been 28 years since the
last roof job. It's time. Of course, the place to begin is shopping,
normally one of my favorite things to do. But I quickly discovered
that shopping for shingles is not even close to the fun of shopping
for that perfect little print to accent the favorite corner lamp.
First of all, it isn't enough to find a shingle that you like the
looks of. You have to consider there are 20 year shingles, 40 year
shingles, 50 year shingles and lifetime shingles. This prompts the
question, unless one is demonstrating longevity reminiscent of ancient
biblical characters, how can you justify the extra bucks for the
lifetime shingles over the merely 50 year shingles? Then there are
the 70 MPH shingles versus the 120 MPH shingles. Just when you think
you've got it all figured out you happen on to a "new" salesman who
introduces you to your opportunity to save insurance dollars by
considering yet another classification: the fire rated shingle!
But wait, that shingle is only available in ugly colors. Why? Because
even though there is no difference between the flammability of the
fire rated color and the lovely color you've just spent weeks settling
on, it costs a gazillion dollars to get a shingle fire rated and each
color has to be rated separately.

OK, so all the painful choices have now been made, all the references
have been called, and as I said, we're in a "state of expectancy".
After having had a crane set 12,000 lbs. of plywood, tar paper, etc.,
on our roof, we are waiting for our roofer. We called him when he
didn't arrive on Tuesday morning as scheduled. He finally returned our
repeated calls informing us that he and his crew are burned out. The
heat on the roofs had just gotten to them. He's taking a vacation in
the Carribean (isn't it hot there too?) He'll start our roof in late
August, when they're rested.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How do you thank an angel?

Hope and I have become friends. She drives the handivan. On occasion,
I ride the handivan. We really hit it off, I think partly because we
both had teenaged sons at the same time, who were both being, well,
teenagers. We had empathy for each other and encouraged each other
when we felt like motherhood was the least appreciated career on the

When I would ride the van home at five o'clock sometimes there would
be another driver. Although I enjoyed the other drivers too, I would
muse to myself that my ride home was "Hope" less.

One day when she took me home she said, "You need more flowers here. I
need to bring you flowers and plant them". Several months went by,
and then there was a call from Hope. She and her husband, Michael,
would be coming out to assess the acreage. After sizing up the
situation, they told me I needed to go to Sam's Club and get a
multilevel cart. They would attach grow lights, plant seedlings, and
see me in the spring.

In February I got my first e-mail from Hope with pictures of the
"babies", a mere portent of things to come. Six weeks and 5 million
waterings later, these babies were now adolescents and the day of
reckoning was approaching. A planting party was scheduled, and the
most amazing culmination of time, effort, and devotion to helping
someone other than oneself came to life! Though the graduations,
weddings, etc. kept the masses of assisting humanity away, Hope and a
small brave band of planting warriors refused to be deterred.
Innkeeper Jim rounded up cordless drills attached to miniature augers
which made it easy to slip the little plants into the soil. Something
resembling a planting brigade was set in motion. Painted daisies,
marigolds, impatience, vinca, Shasta daisies, the list goes on and on.

As difficult as the work was for the volunteer angels, their work
pales compared to the chore facing this innkeeper.....that is, how in
the world can we ever thank them?!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Innkeepers' Getaway

For years innkeepers touting the merits of "getting away" while
staying where you are have assured us in books and innkeeper advice
columns that staying in one's own bed and breakfast provides bountiful
opportunities to see everything as a guest sees it.

As I considered how to achieve this long postponed goal I talked to my
sister, Joan. She assured me that she had all kinds of new gourmet
ideas and wanted to fix our breakfast. I decided to surprise my
husband, and told him to pack our bags for a one night getaway.

Among the benefits of taking in the experience of "Westview" is
getting to know the character of the rooms in a way one can't know
them when you're preoccupied with readying the inn for the next
guests. It might just help in getting to know the character you're in
partnership with too!

After running some errands I told Jim we needed to stop "at home"
before embarking on our "get away". Entering the Sunset Suite to
"check" on something "I'd forgotten", we turned toward the welcome
board and beheld the words WELCOME JIM AND COLLEEN. The first
surprise was a batch of homemade oatmeal raisin walnut cookies
lovingly prepared and waiting for us as we entered the suite! Jim's
only problem with these cookies is trying to figure out which should
be the main ingredient!

I was amazed at how quickly and easily he accepted the role of guest.
As we cuddled up to watch some TV he retired shortly to the kitchen,
and returned with freshly popped popcorn. About an hour and three
cookies later he raided the freezer in the suite's kitchen and
presented frozen ice cream treats to share!
The evening was a wonderful time to slow down and reflect on things
(including a cobweb we'd been missing!)

Next morning sister Joan presented us with a beautiful gourmet
breakfast which Jim has vowed to incorporate into his guests'
breakfasts. The rest of the morning was soaked up in the Jacuzzi, a
device designed to warp and eventually evaporate time. As reality
started to settle in, I knew the experience had been worthwhile when I
heard him say "When's checkout? Do you think they'd care if we stayed
all day?"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Comments from guests when there was still summer in the air: My husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary at the Westview Bed and Breakfast. The stay was incredible! We are vegan. Not only did Jim and Colleen accommodate our dietary restrictions, but Jim cooked us an incredible gourmet meal the likes of which we'll be lucky to eat again! If you have dietary restrictions, you can definitely stay here. Here's what Jim prepared for us: Corn cakes with soy-chorizo, fried red peppers and a soy-mayo chili sauce; vegan blueberry waffles with fresh strawberries, cinnamon, and soy-whipped cream; fresh orange juice. The plates were enormous! The kitchen is also well-stocked with snacks, drinks, tea, and coffee. Jim and Colleen thoughtfully left us a carton of almond milk. The Sunset Suite (where you'll stay) has five rooms. You'll feel like you wandered into a charming country cottage. The first room you'll see is fitted with two rocking chairs and looks right out onto the sunset over the fields. Further inside the suite, there is a large living room with a dining table. Adjoining this is a full kitchen in case you want to cook anything while you're there. The bedroom and bathroom are exquisite. There is an incredible jacuzzi in the bedroom. The bedroom is decorated in a cozy sunflower motif, and the bed, while not huge, is extremely comfortable. You'll find robes and slippers in the bathroom, which is great, because you will immediately want to try the jacuzzi! The countryside near the B&B is peaceful and quiet. You can read about the history of Lincoln, Lancaster, or Westview itself, which was originally the Lancaster County Poor House. There are also plenty of pamphlets for attractions in Lincoln and Omaha for those folks from out of town (or those from in-town who want a local vacation!). I cannot recommend Westview Bed and Breakfast highly enough. If there were 100 stars, I would give them all! If you need a quiet retreat and a gastronomical delight, this is the place to stay.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The first year at Westview B&B frequently went something like this: 
Ring...... Westview Bed and Breakfast, may I help you? ...... Yes, my wife and I want to plan a weekend getaway. Do you have a fireplace? ....... We have an in-suite full kitchen!..... Thank you, click. 
Ring.... Westview Bed and Breakfast, may I help you?...... Yes, my fiance and I  need  accommodations for our wedding night. Do you have a whirlpool tub? ...... We have an in-suite full kitchen! ....... Thank you, click. 
Ring..... Westview Bed and Breakfast, may I help you?....... Yes,  my wife and I are celebrating an anniversary. You have fireplaces and whirlpool tubs?...... No. ....... Thank you, click. 
.......... so by the end of year one we gave up and did this:  

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It's been almost 4 years now since the first bed and breakfast guests were welcomed to Westview. I remember clearly the night we asked some dear friends of ours (who had been part of a bed-and-breakfast in California some years earlier) to come and be our first guests! It was their 12th anniversary and we were so excited to give them the perfect retreat and get some feedback on our new endeavor. After checking with Hallmark, I discovered that the 12th wedding anniversary is silk. I wrote a poem with clues to lead them to their special gift hidden away in the refrigerator... French silk pie! We had arranged for them to have a key as their arrival was scheduled before we were to be home. As we arrived home our friend, John, met us with the embarrassing news that, though they were thrilled with the poem, the clues, and the pie, we had forgotten to leave them utensils to eat with! (Success, or failure, is in the details!)

Since then we've worked hard to improve our response to our guests needs. Jim's famous French toast (pictured above) served with an omelette and peppered bacon is part of the gourmet breakfast served in the suite. We now even include silverware!