You Can't Please Everyone!

Ok, so I'm doing it again. I'm taking it personally! But it's so hard not to. We had a couple of women here last week, I will call them Elphaba and Nessarose. Elphaba was bringing her sister, Nessarose, up for a one night trip for her birthday. Elphaba called me and wanted a bouquet of flowers put in her room for Nessarose's birthday. I made sure everything was perfect for them. The flowers were delivered and I made them a reservation for a wonderful restaurant about 5 miles away. They arrived and seemed to like to our place. They came in and sat down in the lobby, relaxing. We were having wine with some friends and offered Elphaba and Nessarose some. Elphaba replied, "Whadya got??" Okay....should have been my first clue! Well, she didn't like red, so we opened up a bottle of white for her. Being probably too accommodating, but wanting things to be nice for them. After hanging out with them for almost an hour, they decided to take a couple of DVD's back to their room and head out for dinner. A little while later they returned. They couldn't find the restaurant. It was just one block up, make that right, but they couldn't find it and didn't want to try again. They said that they had cheese and crackers and that was enough and they were just going to watch their movies. I said, "No, you need more than that. We are having Brooks barbeque chicken and we have more than enough. Let me make you a couple of plates." No, they said their cheese and crackers and snacks were enough. And they went back to their room. The next morning they came in and it seemed as if everything was ok. They had waffles for breakfast. They sat and talked to us and the other guests for a while. And then they checked out.

Then they posted their review on TripAdvisor! Ok, they gave us a positive review saying it was "clean, spacious, cozy, beautiful and that we were nice and that they enjoyed talking to us". BUT, she entitled the review "Different" and gave us 3 out of 5 stars because she was "disappointed because she thought she was staying at a B&B and this was more like staying at a motel". Ugh! We couldn't have made these women feel any more welcomed! We actually invited them for dinner and opened up a bottle of wine for them. Not something a B&B usually does (and certainly not a motel!). The average price of a B&B is $65 - $100 more than what these women paid here. They saw our website and all our photos and anyone can tell that we aren't an old house B&B. We don't claim to be a B&B but it is our fault that this woman thought we were a B&B and punished us by giving us 3 out of 5 stars and called us "Different".

The ironic thing about all this is that another guest posted a review that very same day (but just BEFORE this woman did) and entitled it "All the Comforts of a B&B, But Less Costly!" Ha! How funny! This just goes to prove how different everyone is AND you can't please everyone. That will be my motto for next season! "You can't please everyone, you can't please everyone!" And when that unpleaseable person checks in to the inn, I also need to remember, "Don't take it personally!"

Where Do I Live This Week???

This past week was our last full week open. (We still have two more weekends until we close for the season). Because of my husband's crazy construction job, he is so completely stressed out. I told him to stay home at our house with Aidan and just concentrate on getting the job done. So that left me living at the inn, by myself, with my two dogs. I made sure to go home (about 20 minutes away) every day around 3 pm to see Aidan when he came home from school, cook dinner, (clean up their bachelor mess) and then go back to the inn. We weren't crazy booked last week. With only 2 or 3 rooms each night it wasn't too stressful for me. Plus, we had some very nice guests. One couple in particular made last week a lot easier. Bonnie and Michael came from Missouri for Michael's birthday. They drove almost 1,000 miles. A very cool couple, I really enjoyed our morning and evening talks (and laughs!).

When Friday arrived, George and Aidan came over to the inn after work & school. We had a lot of guests on Friday and Saturday with most of them coming for completely different reasons. We had three more couples come for their husband's birthdays. (Obviously a very popular gift idea this year!) One came for their 5 year anniversary, one came to work on a house that he is restoring, one came to show a friend land he bought in the area, and four rooms were a group of 11 women who were traveling together. I came downstairs this morning to start setting up breakfast at 6:30. It was still completely dark outside. I heard 3 of these woman outside the front door already. When I went to go look they had walked away heading back to their rooms. Already all dressed up and ready for the day, it was just so early! They came back around 45 minutes later, with the rest of their group. I needed to hurry myself up a little. What a day to tell George to sleep in. They told me they were heading over to the Russian Orthodox Monastery about 15 minutes away. They said that on this trip they had gone on a Cayuga Lake wine tour, to a chestnut festival, the Oneida tour, Turning Stone Casino and now the Monastery and after that a large outlet mall. I asked, "So how many days have you all been traveling together?" They looked at me like I was crazy. "Since yesterday morning," they said. Yesterday Morning!! 11 women were organized enough to travel the 4 hours from Buffalo to our inn and take three different tours in 3 separate areas of NY and still have time to have dinner and play slots at the casino. Now if you have been reading my blog, you may remember that George and I drove to Skaneateles to see the wine country and weren't able to actually arrive at a wine tour until after the wineries stopped giving tours. I think we need these women to plan our next vacation!

After all the guests left this morning we closed up the inn for the week. Although we have a little break from innkeeping this week, it won't be much of a relaxing week. Aidan said to me tonight that he was glad to have me home. I told him not to get used to it. Tomorrow I have to go and visit my parents in NJ for 3 days. Yep, Aidan and George are back to being bachelors again tomorrow. Although the difference this week will be that there won't be this magical housecleaner/cook that arrives each day to sprinkle fairy dust on the mess. They are on their own. I hope they remember we have dogs/chinchilla/fish/frogs. (Did I leave anything out?) Just the thought of what the house will look like on Wednesday makes me shudder. But I will have Thursday to clean it all up, before it is back to the inn on Friday.

Seniors Gone Wild - Always Young at Heart!

For the past several years, we have had a group of friends meet at our inn for a reunion once, sometimes twice a year. This past weekend, this group, which we have lovingly dubbed "Seniors Gone Wild", arrived. These wonderful people were strangers to us four years ago. We now consider them family. Many years ago they went to camp together and sometime in the 90's they reconnected and started to come together for a reunion a few times a year. Luckily for us, Marcia, found our inn on the internet in 2006. Since then they have been coming back each year to brighten up our days. Heading up the group are my husbands three "cougars" - Angela, Marcia and Anna. Last fall, Angela invited us to her daughter, Julia's wedding, and truly made us feel as if we were part of her family. Then there's Jean and Phil. One of the sweetest couples ever! We always joke that Jean has to watch her back, because George and Phil have a serious case of "man love" going on! Ha! Next are David and Alice, "The Vikings"! A fun couple who introduced us to Lemoncello. Yum! David does a mean Joe Cocker Impression (YouTube Link). Rounding out the group this weekend were Greg and Carol, a quiet and sweet couple, who seem to sit back and really enjoy the crazy antics of this group. There are several other couples that couldn't make it this weekend and hopefully we will get to see them next year.

The weekend was a mixture of laughs - from times long ago and the present. As I have always said, "There is nothing like an old friend to make you feel young again." This group is the embodiment of that statement. Several weeks ago we decided to make a banner to welcome back the group. "The Meadowlark Inn welcomes back Seniors Gone Wild." The addition of the clip art of the geriatric patient learning to walk again seemed funny at the time..... :{

After a fun filled weekend of eating, drinking, laughing, shopping, and of course, karaoke, these friends, who love each other enough to make sure they always stay together, had to say goodbye. They'll stay in contact regularly through phone calls, emails, and visits. And George and I, being unofficial members of this group, will also stay in touch - already talking of plans to visit them in the coming months.

So thanks to Marcia and her keen sense of searching out the best inn in the Cooperstown area, (ok, so we are a little biased ;), we have the great pleasure of knowing these wonderful people. After the last of this group, Angela, left this morning, I felt sad. It was too quiet. But I know that it will not be a year until I see them again. And I realize yet again another reason why I absolutely love this business!

30 Years - It Seems Like Only Yesterday!

Last night was my 30 year high school reunion. It's been a long time since I've seen most of my classmates and I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. I woke up yesterday morning with anxiety, Why didn't I lose those 10 extra pounds?, Why didn't I tone up my arms?, (Why didn't I buy a long sleeve dress?), What if my alzheimers kicks in and I don't remember anyone?, What if no one remembers me? All of these fears were quickly put to rest and replaced with feelings of joy from seeing old friends. What made this reunion even more special was the time I got to spend with my 3 best friends - Cheryl, Debbie & Darlene. The laughs that we have when we are together bring us immediately back to being 17 again.

The reunion committee did an amazing job putting this night together. Projected on the back wall on a large screen behind the DJ was a series of past photos played on a loop throughout the night. They thought of everything, including the yearbook photo/name tag sticker we were to wear all night. Today we laughed that the typeface could have been a bit larger for us. We're aging and we all need reading glasses. A quick glance down to look at a name badge was bad enough, but leaning in close to actually read it - not good.

The cool thing about reunions is that any clicks or groups that there were 30 years ago are now gone and replaced by just one big group - called "Our Graduating Class". The talking, the laughing, the singing and dancing, the evening was filled with everything you could want and left us not wanting it to end. Luckily it didn't have to. The committee had planned that everyone should get together this afternoon at the Nutley High School football game. There we would wear the T-shirts we were given the night before and at half-time everyone would go to the Elks Club for hot dogs and beer. It was fun!

After half-time I realized that I should get on the road for the 3 1/2 hour trip back upstate to the inn. On the way to my car, I walked past the high school and decided to see if the front doors were unlocked. They were. I hadn't been inside in 30 years. As I walked through the hallways it was if time had never passed. I still remember where my old locker was and across from that was the class where I took Steno. I wonder what is being taught in that class now. Not Steno I'm sure! Back then we listened to albums, we wore platform shoes, earth shoes and bell bottoms, classic rock was just plain rock, we had mood rings and pukka shells, we loved vests, we watched Charlies Angels and Happy Days, it was the birth of disco and the death of Elvis. It was a simpler time for all of us.

My life as an innkeeper is very different from my life in NJ. Although I would never trade a moment of my life now, the nostalgia that I feel when I am with my old high school friends is very strong. There were several people that came long distances to attend the reunion. With over 130 in attendance, some came from as far as California, Vermont, Florida, Oregon, Virginia, and one even as far as Hong Kong. I want to thank the committee for such a great job and I am looking forward to the next one in 5 years. Although 5 years seems like a long time, I am sure that it will fly by, considering that the last 30 went by in a blink of an eye.

Thank you to the Nutley High School Class of 79!

The Age of Innocence - Back for Just a Moment

This past weekend was kind of slow for us. On Friday night we were able to get away to take our son to a movie that he was dying to see. As a teenage boy, the movies he usually wants to see are somewhat inappropriate. So you can imagine my delight to take him to the reopening of Toy Story (1 & 2) in 3D. When he was younger these were his favorite movies of all time. He still has every Toy Story toy, packed away, ready to be handed down to his own children. Now as a double feature, this lasted a good 3 hours. So in between my (& my husband's) dozing off now and then, we were able to catch glimpses of our son, on the edge of his seat, watching this wonderful classic. Believe it or not, Aidan was one of the youngest kids in the theatre. Who would have known that there would be such a cult following of Toy Story. The theatre was packed with young adults all the way up to the age of 70.

We were also able to go out on our boat for one final hurrah. Although a hurrah wasn't exactly what I would call it. A couple of friends came up for the weekend and on Saturday we thought we would bundle up and go out during a sun filled afternoon. After buying lunch, uncovering the boat and driving out into the middle of the lake, the sun disappeared, never to be seen again! It was quickly replaced with gray clouds and yes, rain. Our friends, Joannie & Chris, couldn't be more different. Chris just wanted to get off the boat. He didn't dress for the weather and seemed as if he was in pain the whole time. Joannie, dressed in a warm coat & gloves and optimistic as ever, kept saying it was going to clear up in a couple of minutes. It seemed as if the sun was shining in other areas of the lake, but I was convinced it was just a mirage. So after about an hour we realized that summer was over, it was time to store the boat :(.

That evening, Aidan went to his first high school dance. Last year he always complained that the dances were boring. Not this year. Dancing was different in high school. He used the words - mosh pit. (From Wikipedia: aggressively pushing or slamming into each other). I hope the chaperones are paying attention! The dance hours are different too. It ends at 11 pm, and 11 pm for an innkeeper is late. I realized as I was driving back to the inn that night, as Aidan quickly fell fast asleep in the car, that I was blessed this weekend with a glimpse of the past. The Aidan that we remembered almost 10 years ago was back for a short time on Friday. But that's ok. With each new day comes a new chapter in our lives. And someday, in the future, we will cherish these wonderful times with nostalgia too.

The Weather's Getting Cooler - No! Stop! I'm Not Ready!!

As the weather turns cooler, the inn begins to slow down to a pace where we can really begin to breathe again. The leaves are turning, so the "leaf peepers" are still coming up here to see the colors on the weekends, but the weekdays are very slow. We have been able to spend a lot time at our house this week in Fly Creek and we've begun to feel like a regular family again. This week started our regular meetings of the Cooperstown Winter Carnival committee. When we moved up here full time two years ago, George joined the local gym. As he was running on the treadmill, he got to talking to a woman next to him. She was the chairperson on the committee and was looking for new members. She also happened to be the chairperson on the PTO. George had decided I needed to meet people and came home from the gym informing me that he had signed me up with the PTO as well as the Winter Carnival Committee. YOU DID WHAT?? Are you kidding? I don't sign up for things! I'm a watcher. I'm a sitter. I'm definitely not a joiner! The Winter Carnival Committee is a THREE YEAR commitment. I knew one other person on the committee and I thought, all right, I'll go to one meeting and check it out. Well, now in my third year, I am a co-chairperson on the committee. I have met so many nice people and had so much fun planning for this wonderful event.

Each February we have a three-day event. Hoping for snow, we plan a lot of activities outside. We bundle up and enjoy fireworks, a parade, a dog show, sleigh riding races, snow sculpting contests, 5 & 10K runs, assorted shows, several food contests and lots of good eating, drinking and dancing. It is a lot of work planning for this and between the 11 people on the committee it takes a lot to pull it off. After this third year, it was going to be nice next year to be able to sit back and enjoy it without being involved in all the planning though. Except for the fact that after seeing me having so much fun for the past two years, George decided to join this year. So that means he will be on the committee for 3 years also. So much for being in the background next year. Although we haven't updated our carnival website just yet, check back later in the month for more information as to this years events: Cooperstown Winter Carnival.

When I had first heard about the winter carnival, I thought "who in their right mind would have a carnival outside, in upstate NY - in the winter!!" Two days after we moved into our new house it had snowed 3 feet. Welcome to the neighborhood! Of course this snow lasted until April. With the cold weather - nothing melts up here. It really is pretty, though. Basically, it snows every day in the winter. Most of the time just enough to cover the ground, but it makes for a beautiful sight - a winter wonderland. There is never that - just drived on, dirty, mushy looking snow. About 4 days after that first snowfall after we moved up here, our friends from NJ came up for the weekend. I remember the look on my friend, Janice's face at 8 am in the morning when she saw the outdoor weather thermometer. "Is that thing broken?," she asked. It read -17 degrees (yes, negative 17!). No, unfortunately, it wasn't broken. But it did warm up to a balmy 28 degrees by noon. AND that was the day we went to see the annual Polar Bear Club jump into Goodyear Lake. Yet another yearly event up here that makes you scratch your head. Hundreds of people take turns jumping into an area of the lake that is carved out into the size of an backyard pool. As we watched these crazy people in their bathing suits jump into the water, every inch of our bodies, faces, hands were covered with many layers of clothing. That is one club I don't think I'll be joining any time soon!!

As I drive my son to school each morning we pass the town's municipal building. And each morning we comment on how much more salt and sand has been added to the storage shed in preparation for the winter. I realize how we should be enjoying this fall weather and taking advantage of going outside in just jeans and a sweater instead of the mandatory daily long johns. This weekend we have some friends staying at the inn and hopefully with the 65 degree weather forecast we will be able to take one last ride on our boat before it is put into storage. We have a few more weeks before it turns cold, so go outside and take a walk with a loved one, go apple picking, and just breathe in the air. Of all the seasons, fall is my favorite. Enjoy!