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Life is Messy

So this blog thing seems to have shown my worst side of follow through.  We have been getting the kids through the end of school, remodeling cottages, taking care of the grounds and taking care of our increase in business (a wonderful thing!).  Most of our clean laundry fails to get put away before it is worn again, the kitchen has stalled in the middle of a remodel, book bags are strewn inside the door, a multitude of converse in all shapes, colors and sizes lay about the house…..And Allen is losing his mind….life is messy, children are messy, a busy business is messy…..I wrote this paragraph a month and a half ago…

Now it seems the summer is coming to an end.  We have worked alot, played some and enjoyed a steady flow of business.  This summer has been hot, really hot and we managed to get AC in all the cottages, which was essential for business.

But life continues to be messy; the back of the house (our side) looks like multiple projects have vomited.  There is furniture in various stages of re-finishing, garden benches that need repair, lumber, appliances and all things in between you can imagine that it takes to run a house farm.

Allen seems to have hit a different plateau of acceptance with some of the mess, although some days I am afraid he is going to start chucking various pieces and projects out through the shop door so that he can move around and get to the table saw.  But on the positive side:  The office has been re-painted and set-up as a little retail shop, there are new garden beds, Cabin 1 and Cottage 2 look great, there is AC in all the cottages, the front patio has had all the flagstone re-laid and mortared, all the little soft rockers have new slipcovers, new curtains are going up, and we now have a solid and dependable cleaning staff of two.  To top it all off – business is really great!

This week we are focused on getting ready for the weekend.  Today is Allen’s 50th birthday and on Saturday we are throwing him a party.  It is also the year anniversary of his last cancer treatment and a celebration of that milestone.  We have survived this very messy year; full of fear, anxiety, physical and emotional pain, financial hardship and all the other gloppy, gooey gunk that comes with life and I am grateful.  Grateful for the mess because it means our lives are full, our children are active and healthy, our business is growing and we have had an opportunity to feel fully present.  I love our messy lives.

Glorious Spring days, Rising Gas Prices and the Brass Ring

The day is spectacular! Breeze blowing, birds singing, not too hot, that just perfect temperature – the temp I wish it could be all year (I am NOT a hot summer girl).

I am sitting at my desk again, writing my marketing plan that MUST be finished over the next few days but longing to be in the garden.  Working in the garden is going to be my treat, my carrot, to get my work done.  There is just a couple more weeks of the semester and a load of work to be completed, and then I can focus just on the gardens and the cottages.

The holiday weekend was good and we had many lovely guests.  We are trying to combat the concerns we have with ever rising gas prices and the impact it is going to have on our business.  We are usually completely booked over Easter weekend, and had 3 empty cottages this weekend.  I keep reminding myself that this business was launched in the middle of a depression and between two world wars and has kept it’s doors open contiguously since that time – no small feat.  I believe businesses have a personality even something akin to a soul.  The Pines is steady, the kind of friend you would always be comfortable relying on.  There is a lingering feminine energy too, I know nothing about the original owners, the Pruitts, but I suspect that Mrs. Pruitt had a lot to do with birth and shaping of this business.  There is a strong, warm, inviting, and  no-nonsense personality that remains here.

I will get back to work and remind myself that sitting here with the doors open, looking out at the gardens, even with all the weeding and planting that is beckoning and taunting me, is in fact a great privilege, and in-fact my brass ring.

Post Script 3:00pm

I couldn’t help myself.  I needed a break so I thinned some of the day lilies and irises outside the door and planted some Bee Balm and Mint – it can take over and smell good and I can make tea with it – I think I will also add some lemon Balm – it is part sun and all those things should be happy there.

I also planted some things in the little corner shade bed – well mostly shade.  Again I planted a Bee Balm, some flox, a clemetis in the corner to grow up the logs, some mint and I went and dug up some native columbine and replanted it.  I think it will end up being a nice bed when it establishes.  I would like to plant some Lupine in the back corner as well.

Peter Cotton Tail and Other Arrivals or The Art of Surrender

Easter weekend is almost upon us and I am grateful to say we almost have a full house with only cabin 13 and cottage 15 left. 

There is much to do and much I wish I could get done but cannot.  I would like to have all the flower beds weeded and mulched, pretty flowers planted in barren pots, easter arrangements in each cottage, a full blown Pines cottages Easter egg hunt planned, all the picnic tables sanded and re-painted, pretty pots put out and planted on patios of 15 and 7, office re-painted and re-decorated, retail shop open, free coffee in all cottages, new guest surveys printed, new welcome packages designed, printed and ready to use for guests…..I think you probably get it. 

I MUST, drive on kids field trip tomorrow, stock #8 with breakast items and Easter basket, take Keegan to Science Olympiad on Saturday, Make Ali a “costume” tonight to run in 5K tomorrow, be at 5K as supportive mom,  have porches swept ready for guests, plan some sort of Easter lunch for Sunday, pick-up Sculpey so Walker can finish his art project, do calculations for my Finance class valuation project, get chunk of independent study written.

This is what I think I can get done…well let me re-phrase that – I am type A enough to have the delusion that I can do everything I WANT to but in reality I will be very lucky to get through the list of MUSTS, because I have surely forgotten some other more urgent MUST and with 4 kids there is certain to be other fires to extinguish.

But let me say here that everything looks beautiful, flowers are in bloom, weed-eating done (including the Bleeding Hearts I did not flag…ah well), grass mowed, weather is perfect.  I will practice first-things-first and  the art of surrender and leave the rest to prayer I will remind myself that my inability to get all the flower beds weeded this weekend is not actually going to be the demise of our business, guests will still enjoy their stay and all shall be well, that in fact the world does NOT revolve around me and my to-do list.

grass, rain, moles and ancient lawn mowers

I made my first attempts ever of mowing here at The Pines.  I tried while Allen was gone but could not get any of the mowers to start and took it as a sign that I was supposed to go back to my research instead of procrastinating with the very good excuse of grass cutting.  But the grass really needed to be cut and rain is approaching.  Allen got the little riding Honda going and off I went, but not after Allen appeared back out the door with a half-smile to inform me that the loud noise and all the smoke meant something was awry and I was in fact mowing away with the choke on.  He was actually pretty graceful about it and lesser men would have used it as a great opportunity to make fun of my inferior understanding of all things that run on gas.

Allen pulled out the serious mower – the kind you can attach a thing to stand on – which I can not use because my hands are too weak these days (more on that another time).  It gave me mower envy – he was moving faster – walking behind it than I was AND his tidy wide strips looked better. hmmph.  He also did not seem to be in the same cloud of dirt that I was riding along in, thanks to our massive colony of moles, as I rode over the lumpy tunnels the dirt tops would be chopped up and scattered.

Which brings me to the moles….I fully expect to come out one morning and find Allen rigging small explosives a-la-caddy shack.  Although, the moles do not seem to garner the same intense level of obsession as the black walnuts do.  There will be much more discussion about black walnuts in the fall.

So, I did what I could and must admit, I have now given up and left the rest to Allen and his super mower, but there is definitely something satisfying about cleanly cut edges and freshly mown grass, it’s like having a shirt ironed, it just looks better (I must fully disclose here that I will gladly mow but I do not iron unless attending, funerals, weddings or job interviews).

I did leave a funny little tuft on purpose – there was a small stand of rabbit tobacco, also called meadow sweet, in the yard, first time I have seen it grow on this property.  It is one of my favorites and good medicine for me, so I left it and carefully mowed around it.  But I did chuckle as I envisioned many years of me carefully mowing around plant oddities and Allen coming behind me and weed eating them….I told him this and he suggested that I use the yellow flags from the shop.

Brave New World

I have launched myself into this new experience…blogging….I do realize that it is not a new phenomenon, I just haven’t embarked on it myself.  I manage to follow a blog for about 48 hours before I get too busy to check back in and then it just becomes annoying e-mails reminding me of new blog posts that I haven’t had time to read.

It is a beautiful evening and I am sitting in the office, writing this when I should be working on my marketing plan, waiting for a customer to check-in.

Here is my view as I sit at my desk.

Definitely better than the cubicles I have occupied.!

Did I mention that I love my life, which is particularly blissful at the moment because my dear, dear Allen took the kids away to the lake for spring break, leaving me to take care of The Pines and get my school work done (I’m working on my MBA).  Oh, the glory, it is peaceful, and quiet, and void of demands.  I realized that I have not been alone, in my own space without having to worry about someone else, for quite some time.  I could use another 5 days to work.  I realize that I am going to have return the favor for Allen and get lost with the kids and leave him alone in his quiet bliss – he is also due time to himself as well.

Back to enjoying my last 16 hours of solitude….and back to my marketing plan.


We are an original “cottage court” also called “cabin courts”.  The were popular starting in the late 1920’s when “motoring” became a pastime.

The Pines Cottages has been here in Asheville  since 1932, our first cabins were built in 1929.  Over that time period there has been only 4 owners – we are truly a piece of Americana.

We love our life here at The Pines.  The kids have room to run around (all 4 of them!) and we have the freedom to pick-up after school, drive on field-trips and be present in their lives.  However, needless to say, there is a never-ending list of things “to-do”.  Allen has started to run away when he hears me say “you know what I was thinking…” or even worse “I had an idea….”  that one makes him sprint in the other direction.

This blog is a place where I plan to chronicle our life here, our projects, frustrations, set-backs and victories.