September 29, 2011

I like the TV show, Bones.  But I don’t like watching the same show twice.  No re-runs for me:  once, and I’m done.  Not so with stuff.  (Or with people).

This placemat is a re-run, since until this morning, it was a damask table runner, and one of the gifts from our guest, Barbara.  She had had no use for a few of her family’s old linens and other things, so she brought them to me, knowing that I would love them, and delight in either giving them a second go-round here, or in turning them into something else — like with this “new” placemat that Glenn will use tomorrow morning.  You see, I had some really nice gold/white napkins that I had made a few Christmases ago for our church’s annual Ladies’ Tea, but I didn’t really have the perfect placemats to match.  This morning seemed to be the perfect time to make a couple.  So after choosing some old, stained woven placemats for the backs of the pieces of damask, it didn’t take long to create the new look.  The table is set now for one….for the fresh fruit, roasted pattypan puree, pesto-pepper jack omelette and pumpkin scones for 8:00 tomorrow morning.

So for old, worn-out, frayed fabric, just as for old frayed and fractured relationships, (but not old TV shows), the re-run is the way to go.  And once the food arrives at the table, it all just gets better.


The Little Things

September 20, 2011

Guests say sometimes, “It’s the little things.”

I get that.  It is the little things.

People also ask sometimes, “When do you go away?  Where do you go?”

I can read a book and “go away,” and I can do that whenever there’s time, and David does that, too.  Sometimes we go together, when we talk about the things that we’re reading.  But sometimes we scoot here and there as well, up to Middletown on a Thursday morning to be with dear friends, or like the day in August when we went to Brigantine at the Jersey shore to be with our daughters, grandson and son-in-law.  (It’s the little things that can be the big things.)

So today, at another beach on the Jersey shore, at Wildwood Crest, where we’ll be for one more night, I’ve just finished reading James McBride’s book, Miracle at St. Anna, a story about the Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division during WWII, where I guess you could say I’ve been visiting 2 places at once.  And before I leave our room to go out for a long walk to the other end of the boardwalk and back, (to go to another place), I wanted to secure my get-away souvenir:  some quoted passages to remember, instead of one found in a gift shop.  Because just like a gift shop goodie,  if I don’t have my memory in my hands (or on a blog or fb post), I’ll just forget.  And I hate that.  Remembering is better.

Small “touches,” like a smile, a note, a card, a greeting, a tiny gift, a mint on a pillow, a sandwich-sized ziplock with homemade cookies–are all little things easily forgotten, perhaps, but hopefully assimilated into an experience.  McBride wrote about a different small touch, the literal kind, and another “little thing” that I wanted to remember–for the experience of it:

       Lying on the floor, the boy reached up and motioned for Train to come closer.  Train complied, thinking the boy wanted to whisper something to him.  Instead, the boy raised himself on his elbows and gently ran a hand across Train’s face, then through the rough texture of Train’s wooly hair.  ‘If I turn your head,’ the boy said softly, ‘it will be my birthday.’

      Train didn’t understand.  He felt the little hands pulling at his head, the innocent young eyes searching his face, and shame washed over him like water.  A white person had never touched his face before.  Never reached out and stroked him with love, and the force of it, the force of the child’s innocence, trust, and purity drew tears to his eyes.  He expected to feel nothing when the boy touched him, but instead he felt mercy, he felt humanity, he felt love, harmony, longing, thirst for kindness, yearnings for peace–qualities he’d never known existed in the white man.  The boy ran his hand over Train’s face and held the big man’s nose.  His innocent eyes searched Train’s, and as their eyes locked, Train could see inside him and saw not derision, or fear, or loathing, but hurt and searching and pain from a thousand indignities.  He saw light, darkness, flickering hope, but most of all he saw in the child’s face a reflection of himself.  He had never seen that in the face of any person before, white or colored, not even a child.  He stared at the boy, transfixed  (pp 73-4).



September 15, 2011

She said, “I’m not scared.  I’m not crying.  Don’t talk; work,” and she grabbed that Windex and paper towel and started washing those windows.  One after the other until they were done.  Then she looked around to see where some others might be that she could clean.  She had never ironed before, she told me, but she caught on like a pro: she sprayed, then smoothed out the napkin on the ironing board, and ironed away.  Next she folded, ironed in a crease, folded again to make a square and completed with the second crease.  And practically before you could say, “Jimminy Cricket,” she had 5 done and laid in a pile where I had shown her.  Then she was ready for the next thing.  She said she had never polished silver before, but today we have a shiny clean pitcher that she could see her face in!  Again, she picked it up without me even having to show her.  I asked her to fill the pepper shaker and she just put it in her hand, scooped it into the pepper container as many times as it took to have the pepper at the top, then voila–she screwed the lid back on and she was ready for the next thing.  Truly, Debbie doesn’t mess around.  She wants to WORK.  I had to use all of my creativity to keep a tiny step ahead of her!  She also likes to have her ducks in a row.  As she was stirring the cookie dough, she said, “I’m going to get paid?”  And I said that yes, she was.  She said, “How much?”  I told her.  She then said, “When?” and I told her, “After the work is done.”  She said, “Today?”  “Yes,” I said, and then she clapped her hands and jumped up and down (a little bit) right where she was, without missing a beat with those cookies.  She had also unwrapped lots of Hershey’s kisses to put on top of the peanut butter cookies.  I told her that it looked like she had finished mixing the dough, and again, lickety split, she had those cookies shaped and on that cookie sheet!  When they were done, Mary Jane, our neighbor (and S.P.T.D. — Special Person To Debbie), asked her to save her a “special cookie,” then she went back over to her house.  So when it was time to go and the cookies were cool and ready to be put on the plate for her to take with her, I asked, “Which one are you going to give Mary Jane?”  She didn’t hesitate.  “That one,” she said, indicating the messy, broken crumbly mass on the cookie rack.  So that one it was, and I put the rest of the whole ones on a plate for her.  (I knew Mary Jane would get a laugh out of that!)  Before we knew it, her hour of work was done and with her pictures in hand (since she wanted several taken)  🙂  she said she liked her job; and I knew she was thrilled with her salary (since she indicated that she was on her way to spend it on coffee), and it certainly seemed like she’d be eager to return.  Her regular hours begin in 2 weeks, and I can hardly wait!

* See Aug 7 post to read Debbie’s introduction:  “Svetlana, Grisha and Debbie”


September 11, 2011

The photograph is fuzzy, and Bob is missing (since he was taking the picture), but the experience of these high school friends was clear, sharp and defined as they spent a wonderful 24 hours together here in Chestertown.  With a focus on one another, on their friendship, and on their collective experiences, they laughed, talked and soaked each other in out on our back porch and at a local night spot by the water as they tried to squeeze in as much as they could in this brief respite from their busy lives.  To us, catching the sounds of their laughter and conversation every now and then, it was a gift.  And yet another affirmation of an idea (for the B&B).  Their faces tell the story of what we hope happens here–at every stay at Simply Bed & Bread.   Yay.  We’re just plain ‘ole grateful.

Thanks to all of our guests who come to stay with us!  You’re ALL great!  (And a special thank you to Kate, Tom, Mary, Mike and Bob for making our day.)

Specials: Rainy Day Stay, Washington College Interview Stay, Weekday Stay, “Double Date” Stay, Last Minute Stay…

September 9, 2011

You just never know when there might be a special waiting for you at Simply Bed & Bread!  Just ask!

If we have space and it’s last minute, we might be able to offer you what you need….

If you have a high school student who has an interview at Washington College and you need 2 rooms, rather than just one, we might be able to give you a special offer–especially if it’s a weekday stay.

If you have a package idea that we haven’t thought of for a few weekday nights, give us your suggestion and we’ll see what we can do!

Have a special couple that you buddy around with?  Want to hop into the car with them and take off for the night to explore Chestertown?  We have a 2 couple stay rate (2 rooms) that we’d love to let you know about!  Great savings!

If it’s raining,…. and it’s been raining,….. and you just want a change of pace, call us–we might be able to give you a special Rainy Day rate!

If you get home from work and you have the next day off,… and you just want to scoop up a couple of things, throw them into a bag, then head off somewhere……for a cozy, restful, non-stressful get-away, then call us.  If we have space, we might have a Last Minute Special just for you!

Like I said, just ask!

Questions and Skeeter

September 6, 2011

I love the questions that our guests ask, whether on the phone or in person while they’re here….Mostly the ones that we hear are just for information-gathering — the best places to eat (and depending on what they’re looking for, our answers vary), directions to this place or that, cool things to do.  But hopefully, in the quiet and in the coziness, they have time and opportunity to ask some that we don’t hear.  And those are probably the very best kind.

Skeeter:  ….on the screened back porch…Constantine used to sleep out here with Carlton and me in the summer, …Constantine slept in an old-fashioned white nightgown up to her chin and down to her toes even though it’d be hot as Hades.  She used to sing to us so we’d go to sleep.  Her voice was so beautiful I couldn’t understand how she’d never had lessons.  Mother had always told me a person can’t learn anything without proper lessons.  pp 280-1, The Help.

Location, Location, Location.

You might notice the WAC Administration Building cupola out of the corner of your eye as you walk onto Simply Bed & Bread's brick path, since our house is just a stone's throw away from the college. Or it might be the ...
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