The deafeningly loud crash and flash of light that woke us from our sleep in the middle of Christmas night was definitely not Santa and his sleigh landing on the roof! High winds and rain conspired with insects that had done their damage hidden from view to crack a giant pine tree in our neighbor’s yard and hurl it across the alley onto the roof over our bed. Miraculously the power lines behind our owner’s quarters broke the fall so that only a large branch punctured our roof rather than the entire tree trunk. Stunned and groggy from an abbreviated night’s sleep we ventured out into the rain to find out what happened and take stock of the damage. It was almost 5AM by that time and we had a house full of guests to serve breakfast to. So with half the power out we lit candles, figured out what was working and what wasn’t and came up with a plan for breakfast for 8 over the stove that didn’t require the ovens. This was a first- cooking by the light of a flashlight! We managed to pull it off before the power company shut us down completely to remove the tree. Electricians, appliance repair people, insurance adjusters and roofers are still being dealt with, but we’re back in full operation and incredibly grateful to be alive. After a season of things breaking, a sick kitty that has required a months worth of treatment on the heels of Bill’s October hospitalization it would be easy to get overwhelmed and feel like life is just responding to one crisis after another. I must admit I indulged in a bit of self-pity. But this New Year’s Eve we chose to take stock of all of the challenges we did meet and all the things we accomplished this year. We truly have had a great year.
Besides meeting the challenges of breakfast under duress the other day and operating the inn with one innkeeper down in October, we’ve met all of our little challenges with success as well. A broken CD player that I put totally out of its misery when it tried to steal my favorite Christmas CDs, pushed us to finally go digital with our sound system for the inn. I had always wanted to find the time to research systems and hook the sound up to our computer, but now I was forced to do it! I couldn’t be happier with our new Sonos system, operating by WiFi to wireless speakers. Business has been up since last year too. December was our busiest yet with lots and lots of people taking advantage of our Biltmore Candlelight Evening Package. This past year I was elected to the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association Executive Committee (ABBA) as Secretary, a post I’ve been enjoying and have just been re-elected to. After numerous production delays, we finally succeeded in replacing all of our robes at the inn with new, plush hunter green ones. Table and bed linens have been upgraded and we’ve added a “new” antique carpet and comfy chair to the parlor as well as a reproduction Victorian lamp to the foyer. We upgraded the Turret Suite, changing the carpet and adding a Tiffany lamp and 2 antique chairs. We painted and got new wicker furniture for our cozy front porch as well (see our improvements!) We started the year off by lighting up the kitchen! We added several recessed lights to brighten up our work-space and installed the antique sconces that we brought with us from Boston over the antique buffet where we serve afternoon tea and goodies. And we ended the year with a beautiful and incredibly life-like new 9 foot Christmas Tree from Balsam Hill to match the outstanding garlands we got from them last year. We definitely dressed up the inn for the holidays! As we go into the New Year we hired painters come in this week and re-paint all the guest rooms. We just chose new plush carpeting that will then be installed in the Oliver Davis and Carolyn Gray rooms. And then we will take a well-deserved vacation in St. Martin! We look forward to returning rested and so gratefully alive to a freshly painted and improved inn to start the season again. Happy New Year!