Day 13: A Room at the Inn

I grew up in Wise, Virginia, a small mountain community on the western edge of the state. In those days our town was so remote we had only one red light, no movie theaters and no fast food restaurants at all, unless you count our locally owned Dipsy Doodle Drive-In (which happened to have the very best banana milkshakes ever).

What we did have was The Inn, a majestic hotel built in 1910 that anchored Main Street and gave an air of sophistication and a bit of liveliness to our little world. In addition to guest rooms, The Inn featured a large dining room, a cafe called the Coffee Cup, and a tavern and grill called the Tap Room. I still remember what a thrill it was the nights Daddy took us all there for dinner; The Tap Room was dark, romantic, and smelled of pepper-spiced steak.

I also remember roaming the halls and back stairways of The Inn, Harriet the Spy-style, when my mother sent me to play with a little girl who came there in the summer to visit her grandmother. My friend, Suzann, reminds me the grandmother lived in the Penthouse of the Inn, something about which I have only a vague recollection. What I do remember, however, is how grand and mysterious it all seemed–and how terrified I was that we would get caught.

Sadly, in the 90s The Inn began to fall into disrepair and closed as the area’s economy, based largely on the coal industry, began to decline. It was heartbreaking to watch. Paint peeled from every surface; the steps leading to the grand front porch were so brittle and broken they were roped off with caution tape.

The Inn, circa 2006

The Inn, circa 2006

We heard rumors from time to time of investors interested in saving the old hotel. But year after year, trip after trip to enjoy the Wise Fall Fling with my wonderful Wise Women, there never seemed to be any action.

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And then.

And then last week I see a photo roll past on my Facebook wall. It catches my eye, and so I click.

Wow. Wow. Wow!

 

The Inn at Wise

The Inn at Wise

 

There it is, The Inn at Wise, fully restored and open again for business. The 45,000 square foot facility features 48 guest rooms, the Colonial Restaurant, the Corner Diner, and the Pub & Tap Room. (I’m especially happy about that.)

 

Main Street, Wise, from the second floor balcony of The Inn

Main Street, Wise, from the second floor balcony of The Inn

 

I am overjoyed! I am also so grateful to the people who worked so hard to make this happen. It’s an incredible blessing for our little town, and I can’t wait to make a reservation!

 

A grand thanks to my friends Tim and Angel Cox for allowing me to use their photos of The Inn. The pair have long been a treasure to all of us who love those Southwest Virginia mountains and the people who live there, for no one has done more to document the rare beauty of that part of the world than Tim and Angel. See more of their work here.

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Day 12: The Annual Corporate Christmas Party

As I looked around our Keeping Room this morning at the collection of folks gathered there, I couldn’t help but smile as I thought: This is it. This is my Christmas moment. 

It was a surprise to me, this revelation, since I’d hardly have expected to experience a holy moment in the aftermath of the weekend’s Main Event–the gigantic Riggs Partners Oyster Roast and Throw-Down. The party had officially ended some six hours earlier (3 a.m. if you must know) and the sizable subgroup of Riggers who had spent the night with us here on Bickley’s Pond were slowly but surely emerging for coffee, Kelly’s hot breakfast casserole and a reliving of every funny oyster roast moment. As is tradition, we then moved on to the many classic tales from more than 20 years of annual Riggs holiday gatherings.

 

there may or may not have been some Dougie going on

there may or may not have been a little Dougie going on

We laughed and laughed and laughed.

How fun is it to throw a party so big it spills over to the next day I thought. 

And then I looked around that cozy room at my coworkers, people content to linger even though a thousand Christmas To-Dos beckoned, and I felt my grateful heart swell. How blessed I am to work with people who genuinely love each other, I thought. How blessed I am to work with people I genuinely love.

 

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Day 11: Making time

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Doesn’t this just look like holiday fun?

And it was!

We tried to find a time to gather, we five, time to meet for a festive, girly, holiday toast. One scheduling complication after the other presented itself, what with so much going on in these last days of holiday craze, and we nearly gave up.

Jayme, Jenna and Eliza

Jayme, Jenna and Eliza

Cathy and Julie

Cathy and Julie

I’m so glad we didn’t!

30 Days of Joy

Day 10: Keeping Watch

You’ve probably heard me speak of this before, the change that came over me once I “met” Winn Collier via Rick Stillwell via Twitter three years ago. In one of his many fabulous posts, Winn suggested we watch for the light during the dark days of Advent.

For me it has become a spiritual practice, one that both calms and opens my heart during this joyful, hectic, (sometimes) overwhelming time of year.

The promise is there. Let’s keep watch.

on Bickley's Pond

on Bickley’s Pond

 

I invite you to join me as we make our way through these last 10 days of Advent. If you are so inclined, join the gathering on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #WatchingforLightTDG.

 

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Day 9: Home for the Holidays

Do you remember the Mallards? The cute couple who spent last summer here with us?

They’re the ones who built that fabulous nest with 11 giant eggs just beneath the Daylillies, the ones who caused us to go investigating the day she was acting so strange, going and coming, coming and going, until I talked Tim into pulling back the leafy greens to find: OMG THAT GIANT SNAKE sitting on the nest, eating the eggs, the incident that caused me to scream SHOOT IT and then Tim to holler: WE DON’T OWN A GUN. Oh, the story goes on, and you can read about it here.

It doesn’t end well, I will tell you that. So I wasn’t a bit surprised, even though I was very sad, when the Mallards disappeared a short while later.

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Just the other afternoon I looked out the big kitchen window guess who I saw?

mallards

home for the holidays

I’m so happy they’re back!

 

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Day 8: Now Christmas Can Begin!

It’s the phrase my Mother repeated year after year the moment I opened the old screen kitchen door, stepped into her 10,000-Santa breakfast room and, three or four or five dogs sniffing at my knees, wrapped my arms tight around her. You are home. Now Christmas can begin! she’d say. I’d inevitably traveled back to Virginia from South Carolina (whether home from college or my grown-up life) and while I appreciated her enthusiasm, I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the sentiment.

Now I do. Boy, do I.

Look who finished exams this morning and came home this afternoon.

eliza and the bit doing their thing

Eliza and Little Bit, doing their thing

Now Christmas can begin!

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Day 7: Remembrance

Today is my Mother’s 85th birthday. It has been nearly two years since she passed away, and nearly every day I still think:  I’ve got to call Mom and tell her whatever it is that has happened of significance (and often insignificance) in my life. I hope you will indulge me if I repost what I wrote last year. I had forgotten, and needless to say, remembering this remarkable story of Tim’s feather brought me a sweet, warm joy.

I miss you, Mom. Happy birthday.

 

You’ve got to see this he said and I knew it was something big. I was already in bed, you see, and the lights were out. Still, I got up and followed my husband to our home office.

Look he said, and pointed to the top of his desk. Look at that.

A little white feather was lying there perfectly positioned in front of his computer, this husband of mine who (thankfully) smiles and hugs me with every feather event. I’m not quite sure Tim believes, as I do, that the feathers are miraculous messages from God, little reminders of love. (Reminders, I should tell you, that began appearing as we all faced such overwhelming and unexpected challenges with Mom’s declining health.) I adore my husband even more, yes I do, for humoring me in my great belief in the divinity of the feathers.

So you can see how it would be worthy of note that at this moment we stood there, both of us, looking at a nearly impossible and certainly improbable feather, one clearly meant for him. And still I didn’t understand the magnitude of the message.

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We had been standing together in the bathroom 30 minutes earlier, me washing my face, him brushing his teeth.

How’d you like the music today? I asked him, referring to the Christmas program our choir had presented to the Providence Presbyterian congregation during worship that morning.

It was great he said (with genuine enthusiasm). I looked at you singing and thought: I wonder if Posey is proud of her little girl? 

Hum I said. I know Mom is proud for many reasons. But I’m not sure me singing in church is one of them.

We laughed together, both knowing just what I meant. What I didn’t know was that during our choir program that morning, my husband had uncharacteristicly lobbed a great request toward the heavenlies.

Do you see her, Posey? he had asked in church. Are you there? A simple sign will do.

And that very night a little white feather appears on his desk, there where he couldn’t possibly miss it.

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Sometimes I do find it hard to believe, can I just tell you that? From time to time I wonder if the appearance of these feathers in my life is nothing more than coincidence. But then something like this happens, something that feels miraculous, something I never expected. My spirit lifts and my heart opens and my soul rejoices. And I know, once again, that the feathers are placed there in my path very specifically, each one a sweet reminder that as I journey on, I am not alone. God is always there, never failing.

And so is Mom, I now know. As always, Mom is there cheering me on.

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Are there feathers in your life? Can you feel it, too? I hope so. I pray so, because you are loved and cherished, my friend. Loved and cherished.

FEATHER STORIES OF NOTE
the things that we believe in (September 7, 2011)
Feathers, Friends and Sweet Little Nudges (November 6, 2011)
coming home (May 28, 2012)
here, there, everywhere (July 25, 2012)
unforced rhythms of grace (August 29, 2012)
Miracles (December 6, 2012)
with his feathers (February 17, 2013)

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Day 6: When Joy is Bittersweet

It’s so bittersweet, this having a daughter who is suddenly a 22-year-old woman living her own big life. I can’t for all the world figure out where the years have gone, how it can be that the little girl who loved to play school and ride bikes and twirl her fingers in my hair is all at once a very independent college senior who makes both her own money and her own decisions. I now realize some things (is what I’m meaning to say) about the fact that when children are young–when they are babies and toddlers and teenagers–it is impossible, somehow, to see beyond those years. Even when you appreciate that time for its sweet, chaotic, fleeting nature–God has some reason for keeping a vision of your children as grown-ups, separate and complete apart from you, at bay.

Still, the time goes so fast, in the blink of an eye. Oh, yes.

But then there is so much to relish in their blossoming. My sweet Eliza has grown into a woman I love, of course. But I also have tremendous respect for the person she is, for the way she moves about her world. And I have to say for every ounce of remorse I have at the rapid passing of the years, there is double joy in watching and sharing her gorgeous life.

A wonderful example is the group of friends to whom she is devoted. She couldn’t ask for a more loving and generous circle. And neither can I, for with open hearts and joyful enthusiasm, they have pulled me (and the other Moms) right on into the fold. On a regular basis I get sweet, thoughtful messages from one or two or three of them, and it makes my heart swell.

And so on this Day 6 of Joy, I share with you a little something that came my way last night via Facebook.

 

girls2

housemates Michelle, Eliza and Hanna

 

How happy I am that even when she is far away from me, my little girl is surrounded by love.

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PS: I can’t resist adding this photo of the entire, lovely group, taken just after they received their Clemson rings. In the center is Clemson’s beloved president, James P. Clements.

the girls and President Clements

Caroline, Jillian, Michelle, Sarah, President Clements, Eliza, Jessie Rose, Elliott and Hanna

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Day 5: For Love of the Cranberry

How I love ‘em. So it’s no wonder that when I came upon this Cranberry Smoothie recipe, it caught my eye.

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Cranberry Smoothie for Two
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 apples, peeled and diced
1 banana
2 T diced ginger root
2 handfuls spinach
1 cup water
2 cups ice

Put all in a blender and whirl away!

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This morning I whipped up a double batch. About which I would like to say:

trio2

Yum.

 

30 Days of Joy