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Wednesday, August 16, 2017


I had to use this picture of our bathroom in the Powell Suite.
I loved it and everything about this Inn.
Isn't it charming???  And romantic???

There is no shortage of hotels in Asheville, North Carolina, but if you’re looking for a taste of the historic Asheville atmosphere, you’ll look elsewhere than the big, impersonal hotels.  If you want the comforts of a fine bed and a breakfast served in courses, and an historic Victorian home modernized to give you today’s conveniences without sacrificing the charm of yesterday, you might look to the 1899 Wright Inn and Carriage House, in the Montford district less than a mile from downtown, because there you’ll find an Inn that will give you a comfortable respite from the touring and excitement that you’ll also find in Asheville. 

A welcome in our room to sweeten up our stay

Picture a grand, old Victorian with its wide front porch where you can sit in the shade, perhaps just enjoying the foliage of the tree-lined street and viewing the people walking just beyond the front walk.  Or you may settle yourself comfortably in one of the Queen Anne-furnitture-decorated parlors, fire place glowing in season, and help yourself to a piece of candy waiting for you in a crystal dish.

That is what awaits you at the 1899 Wright Inn and Carriage House.  Your room or suite seems to transport you to another era, some with fireplaces, some with loveseats and tables protected by doilies.  There is a coziness and comfort that makes you smile as you enjoy everything from your bed to your bath.  Rest assured, however, that central air-conditioning ensures your comfort in the warmer seasons.  Wifi is in every room. This is today’s North Carolina, after all.

The 1899 Wright Inn and Carriage House is like stepping back into history, a hidden gem.  Guests are immediately enveloped by a graciousness that warms the entire atmosphere, and you are immediately made to feel at home and part of a family. 

Each room is special, modernized in convenience without losing the elegance of the past.  Breakfast is different each morning but always includes coffee/tea, juice, breakfast breads, and a main course, often rather elegant and all served on lovely china.  The long table, flowers, and other decorations, encourage conversation with other guests, and breakfast becomes an event in itself. 

As comfortable as can be!
We stayed in the Powell Suite, and at breakfast we met a couple from Texas as well as a couple from Canada, excited tourists just like ourselves.  Our host and superb breakfast chef, Tom, was exceptionally helpful in suggesting places in Asheville he felt we’d like to visit.  If you browse the Inn's website, you’ll find many suggestions as well as some money-saving ideas.

Simply charming!
Through the Inn, for instance, you can purchase a 2-day pass to the Biltmore Estate for the price of one day.  You can also pick up the trolley for the Asheville Trolley Tour right at the front door, so leave your car parked in one of the spots on the side of the Inn.  They’ve listed restaurants, other tours, and some of the special touches to make your stay in Asheville even more exceptional. 

We couldn’t ask for more. 

The 1899 Wright Inn and Carriage House is located at 235 Pearson Drive, Asheville, NC 28801.

Friday, August 11, 2017

FRIDAY'S FOTO--The Moreton Bay fig tree

In the heat of this summer, this tree can provide an awful lot of shade though the root area is chained off for protection.
It's the MORETON BAY FIG TREE in Santa Barbara, California.
It may be the biggest fig tree in North America.
It was planted in 1875.
Way back in 1996, it had a crown of 173 feet.  Think what has happened since.
It's listed in the California Register of Big Trees.
Seeing this tree is definitely a WOW! moment.

Friday, August 04, 2017


I was asked to post a bit more from
Hearst Castle.
How would you like this to be the view from
your home?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


All Quiet on the Western Front and The Red Badge of Courage are classic war novels because they deal not with the war so much as with the men who risk their lives, often for a cause they don't fully understand--if, indeed there is a legitimate cause. The books have a universal quality because humanity does not change its yearnings.

Elizabeth Speller’s The First of July is a book in this classic tradition as it examines men of different backgrounds, in different countries, and of different ages, all who have a reason to enter the war as a soldier but whose reason may have nothing to do with love of country.  Each makes extreme sacrifices during WWI but each for a very different reason.  In that way, in particular, I was immediately reminded of All Quiet on the Western Front and The Red Badge of Courage.  Those protagonists were boys; that is not always the case in The First of July.

First of July becomes a superb study of human character and motivation, its strengths and weaknesses as well as the yearnings which sometimes lie so deep inside that we are not even aware. 

Following the characters’ individual stories and appreciating the uniqueness of each man becomes a sad joy as we learn their fates in the horribly bloody battles of WWI.  In fact, Speller sets her novel before the war begins and then in the time leading up to, and then shortly after, the bloodiest battle for the British of WWI, The Battle of the Somme.  Allied forces casualties numbered almost one hundred thousand.

First of July is exquisitely crafted.  The ugliness and grittiness of war is exposed in a descriptive but controlled manner.  We move through time when war lay only on the horizon until it is all encompassing. We learn each character’s background and reaction as the war moves closer and closer.  We get a glimpse into the distinct cultures of their different countries as well as of their personal relationships with others.  From a wealthy “runaway” member of British royalty to the son of a coffin maker whose greatest wish is to make enough money to buy a fine bicycle, we view every strata of society, different kinds of relationships from mother and son to husband and wife.  Some men are honest; some are not.  Some have been mislead.  Some are ambitious; some are not. In total, we are gifted with a perceptive view of Everyman meeting the horrors of war.  It is stunning.

The writing is excellent--descriptive yet right and objective. I will definitely read another one of Elizabeth Speller’s books of historical fiction.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Buttermilk Creek Farm in Burlington, North Carolina is open.  Peaches. Raspberries. Blueberries.  The nicest people you would ever want to meet.  We are going to make jam!

We first went there two years ago when we were house hunting.  We couldn’t be too ambitious in our picking then because we were heading back to New York and a load of peaches was just not in the cards. 

Buttermilk Creek Farm is beautiful: row upon row of peaches ripening throughout the season.  Butterflies, bees, green leaves, and yellow and red ripe peaches, or ripening peaches. 

Row upon row of peach trees making the air fragrant and the walk beautiful

Row upon row of green-leafed blueberry bushes with stalks bent over, heavy with fruit and beckoning your fingers which, somehow, can’t resist popping one (or two or more) into your mouth, marveling at the warm, tart taste that you never find in a grocery store. 

You can see the unripened blueberries.
Berry pickers were here bright and early.

Row upon row of blackberry bushes with fruit in all stages of ripening, so your eyes are treated to an array of colors long before you find the plump blackberry,

Picking fresh fruit right off the bush, vine, or tree, is a remarkable treat simply because most of us don’t have that opportunity often.  If you’ve never done it, you don’t realize that a ripe, sun-warmed peach or blackberry or blueberry does not taste like the fruits we buy in the stores that have been picked long before they are ripe and then ripen as they are shipped and then stocked on our shelves.  Eat a tree-ripened peach right in the grove where the air smells of peach, and feel the juice drip down your chin.  Pretty incredible.

While we visited Buttermilk Creek Farm on the first day it opened this year, there was sadness as well.  This past winter, as you probably remember, there was frost and storms.  Buttermilk Creek Farm lost almost 90% of its crop.  Trees were damaged as well.  They opened anyway so the fruits that were undamaged would be picked and eaten.  That’s a fact of life on the farm.  Good years and bad years with the hope that the good years outnumber the bad.

The owner, who we met on our first visit, looked at the fruit we picked which is sold by the pound.  As he put our fruit on his scale, he picked out a few peaches that didn’t look quite perfect to him.  “We don’t sell damaged goods here,” he said.  After weighing the fruit and quoting the price, he put the peaches back in our box.  “They’ll be fine,” he said.  But he did not charge us for them.  Principles.

He also told us an interesting story—from his perspective.  He can tell Northern transplants from Southerners by the berries they pick.  Northerners like blueberries, and he makes sure he has them.  But Southerners like blackberries and have plenty of recipes for them.  Can’t say this is gospel but can say this is one man’s feelings.  At any rate, this year we went for blackberries.

It was a wonderful experience.  If you are in the state while peaches are in season, visit one of the many farms.  You don’t have to get a lot, but enjoy the rich experience of picking from a tree and eating the warm, sun-ripened, globe of sweet delight.  And if you want to experiment, there's always peach jam to make.  It's yummy!!

Our first attempt at canning peach jam.
Edible immediately.
But some to save.
Absolutely yummy.
We're thinking of making more!