Friday, June 21, 2013

Change is in the Air!

Change is in the air!  It’s spring, although it was only about 45° today.  The Farmer’s Market was open downtown, with crafts and bread, fruits and vegetables, and garden plants.  We’ve already frosted one pumpkin and killed a few tomatoes in our garden. But John, the eternal optimist, has been planting more.  Most everything is up: little beets and chard, more pumpkins and tomatoes, onions that overwintered, bush beans and carrots, the peas, and one potato!

Other changes are around the bend.  John turned sixty-five last week, and we’ve been thinking long and hard about what we’d like to do when we grow up.  Retirement sounds like fun although John is concerned about how he’ll turn out without our guests to keep him anchored in adult reality!

The trouble is we’re not sure how to retire without selling the motel, and we’re really attached to this place.  The few times over the years that we’ve mentioned selling out, various family members and guests have reacted like Dr. Seuss’ characters in Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose.  When Thidwick tried to cross to the south side of Lake Winna-Bango, the guests in his horns raised a ruckus:  “He stepped in the water.  Then, oh!  What a fuss! ‘STOP!’ screamed his guests.  ‘You can’t do this to us!’”  But Thidwick eventually shed his guests along with his horns, and swam to the south shore. What should we do?

Our second daughter, Ruth, wants to manage the motel beginning in the fall of 2014.  When we bought it in 1991 from my parents (who’d owned it 19 years), it was an easy transition.  But the global, digital economy that we’re facing today is a far cry from the simple one we bought into.  Our daughter can’t afford to buy us out, or we’d gladly let her.  But if we can find a way for this to work, her children will be the 4th generation in our family to make the beds and tend to our motel guests.
We do love the interactions with our guests.  We enjoy sharing our home with them.  It’s satisfying to see the weight of the world fall from their shoulders as they wander the grounds, taking pictures of the flowers and resting in the shade of hundred-year-old trees.  The flowering crab trees have just finished blooming, the flowerbeds are gorgeous with orange poppies and regal lupines, and the lilac scent lingers into the evening.  On this first day of summer, I found it refreshing to pause and enjoy the moment.
But 24/7/365 is tough.  When we want to go out together, we get a “baby-sitter” for the motel.  Going on vacation ourselves is a major event.  We’d like to wander around the country for a while, letting somebody else tend our “baby.”  We’d like to bask in the winter sun sometimes without bundling up.  We’d like to turn off the phones and check in with the kids only when we feel like it.

So we wanted to give you a “heads up,” but we’d appreciate your advice, too.  You’ve been incredibly supportive of our little business over the years, and we thank you.  Therefore we’re open to a bit of brainstorming here, if you have ideas you’d like to share with us about passing the baton.  What would you like to see Ruth do with the place?  What should we change?  What do you most want us to keep?

You can post answers in the blog or email us at  We’d love to hear from you.

John and Nancy  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Sheets

I finally hung the bed linens on the line the other day--I think summer is coming at last!  I delighted in those few minutes outside.  It slowed me down just a little, so that I felt the breeze and smelled the lilacs blooming.

Here's a poem I wrote in 2007 about this simple chore, entitled "Summer Sheets."

Summer Sheets

         Summer sheets, hung to sun dry,
                 are not the same as winter sheets.
                          Oh, no!
         Winter sheets are fluffed in sterile dryers,
                 to be crisply folded before they settle sleepily into the
                           ready for their next use,
                          tucked among spare blankets and extra pillows.
         But summer sheets wave and flap in the gentle wind.
         They snap and dance as I hum happily,
                 pinning them in chorus lines to dry.
         They tease, slapping my behind or my face
                 when I lean down to pick up another.
         I nuzzle into their sweet, cool fragrance
                 over and over with deep breaths;
                          they tenderly brush my hot cheeks.
         Between their rows the day is fresher and
                  secret, somehow.
         I can hear my children playing in the sandbox nearby,
                 but for a moment,
                          I’m wandering near a shaded mountain lake
                          with a cool zephyr wafting me wild roses.

                          Nancy Nielson
June 2007