The Good, The Bad and The OMG!

April 4, 2015

Where in the world has this week gone! The last I remember it was Tuesday. And here we are Saturday! Time just doesn’t stand still.

This week, we were filled with the good, the bad and the OMG! (Hint – the last OMG is a BIG One!)

After a very beautiful wedding last weekend, Monday, I set about cleaning the mansion. Brett had to travel to Ohio until Tuesday and with the Easter weekend approaching, I didn’t want him to worry about getting things back in order. So Monday became a marathon cleaning.

The Good -

The wedding party was here from Saturday to Monday morning. Before leaving, the bride and groom set a couple to be in charge of cleaning their things before we checked them out. This couple along with another couple went through this mansion in record time! They had all their checkout list completed and were ready to go by no later than 10:30am! (They need to be completed by noon) So thanks to their quick work, I was able to get to my things faster, making it easier to get things done.

The Bad -

With the wedding party leaving on Monday instead of the normal Sunday morning, this left me alone to clean. Brett was on his way out of town and I was left facing the mansion. Seven and half hours later, I had vacuum, cleaned seven bathrooms, flipped four suites, cleaned the kitchen, started the laundry and mopped all the first and second floors of the mansion.

The OMG -

I left mopping for last. As I normally do, I started with the back North Wing Suites and worked my way back to the South Wing. As I got into the Parlor, I started noticing my right arm seizing up. Then my right hand followed, curling around the mop handle tight. I calmly rubbed my arm until the muscle relaxed and continued my work.

Then when I got to the second floor, my left arm started seizing up. This time my ring finger was only curling. I sat down for a moment and rubbed to get my arm to relax. When it did, I continued my work. But this time, my arm started again and my ring finger curled in hard. I stopped again and worked the muscle to get it to relax. After several minutes, it finally let go.

Of course, I have never had this happen before. My first thought was to tell Brett. My husband, Brett is a retired Naval Corpsman with 21 years. He had taken such good care of us. He has even saved my life once. So I trust him first and for most. He first asked me if I had been drinking plenty while I was working. (Which I had). Then he asked me if I had eaten. Well … I did have an egg sandwich at 9:30am. Since then I had been too busy to think about eating. Then I got the speech … you have to eat!

After I finished my work, I decided I needed a good meal and headed over to Fredericksburg to grab a bite.

Tuesday – The Last Day I Remember!

On Tuesday, with all my work done, which I have to say felt really good, I headed to Warsaw, Virginia to meet with a member of the Northern Neck Tourism Board. I wanted to discuss with her my plans for a very special event in July that would involve her. After that, I would head back to Fredericksburg to visit our dear friend, Nancy, who has been in the hospital for over a week. Then it would be sushi dinner at Umi’s and back to the plantation.

The Good -

Tuesday was a wonderful day. My meeting with the member of the Northern Neck Tourism Board went really well. I was able to explain my hopes and by the time I left, you could see her wheels turning too. Likewise my visit with Nancy was just as wonderful. Nancy has been in ICU for over a week with a perforated bowel. Three surgeries later, she was in recovery and telling me that she might be able to go home on Wednesday! What wonderful news! When she went to the hospital, the perforation had been opened for at least two or three days. So it was really a bad start. But thanks to a lot of prayers from our “prayer warriors” on Facebook, she pulled through in record time! She is now back at home and working to get back on her feet! She is such an amazing person! And of course, a nice meal at Umi’s, my favorite sushi place rounded out a very wonderful day.

The OMG -

All good things must come to an end … Whoever said that should be shot!

While I was at the hospital, I started yawning. Of course my first thought was that I was still really tired from the marathon the day before. While at Umi’s, I have say I really didn’t enjoy it as I normally do. I again thought it was because I was tired.

After arriving home, Brett called to let me know he had made it back to Virginia. That is when I started feeling bad. So I told Brett that I was going to lay down early and try and get some rest. Two hours later, it happened …

At first I thought it was food poisoning. I have had food poisoning before (on an airplane for three hours no less) and being that I had had sushi, that was what I thought it might be. Then it really hit about midnight. Every half hour … All I could think was how much more could come up? I hadn’t eaten that much. But it seemed like it would never end. One hour became four and four become eight and eight became sixteen. In the middle of it all, I started shaking. Then is when I knew I didn’t have food poisoning. It was a stomach virus. Great …

For eighteen hours, alone at the mansion, I would run back and forth and would text poor Brett almost each round to keep him in the loop. Why shouldn’t he have some fun with me? Then is when I realized that Brett had had a stomach thing a few months ago. He had gone to Patient First and gotten a prescription for Onadnsetron. It was to help with the nausea and vomiting. He had not needed it, but I have to say someone up there was thinking ahead for me! One pill later, it started to lighten up. Two pills later, I was just churning. Three pills later … Oh why had I not remembered these sooner!

By the second pill, Brett arrived from Chesapeake. It was Wednesday midday, but it felt like an eternity. He came up and took over. He got me something to drink and helped me clean up. He ran out to get me crackers and anything else I needed. By Thursday morning, I had settled down to drinking a few slips and drifting in and out of sleep. He then drove back to Chesapeake (two and half hours) to do a day of work at his office and returned at 9:30pm Thursday night to make me comfortable again. Friday, he worked and watched over me, making sure I didn’t need anything.

I love this man …

Friday came and went, and I slept. I can’t really say I remember much about the last few days. And what I do remember, well I wouldn’t wish on anyone else. Not even my worst enemy.

 

It’s Saturday … already?

So we arrived at Saturday. I made it through the last week of whatever you want to call it.

The Good –

Friday night, we had overnight guests check in. Brett took over and showed them around. They completely understood. (We have some of the nicest people stay with us!) They were here to visit friends in the area, so they didn’t require us to be with them or to share as much as we normally do.

 

The Bad –

While I have been able to get up today and get some food down (if you call Cheese Its, Lime Jello and Pedilite food) I still feel pretty weak. Brett says that there is a new stomach virus that is stronger and lasts a little longer than most going around. I did get my appetite back somewhat last night, but my stomach wasn’t agreeing to what I wanted.

We did try a few errands this morning too. I grabbed some things at the grocery only to find that my legs were too happy to be up and going again. It feels like I am running in quicksand. Add that to my voice being almost gone, Brett encouraged me to rest more. So we decided to call off all tours this weekend. It’s not something I like to do. I love to share Belle Grove with anyone that wants to come. And the first weekend of Spring Break, well … it hurts. I had to turn away three phone calls today.

The Biggest OMG –

After spending the day working on the computer, which doesn’t require me standing or talking, I received some very exciting news.

Back with Brett and I started looking at opening Belle Grove Plantation as a Bed and Breakfast, we knew that we needed some help from people that have already done what we wanted to do. So we went from one place to another in Virginia, looking for that one special couple who might be able to mentor us.

We found it in a wonderful couple, Kathleen and Troy of Chestnut Hill Bed and Breakfast. Kathleen and Troy have been in business six years now and were one of the only ones that spent real quality time with us. They answered our questions, give us advice, pointed us in new directions and were just there to listen. These people, as successful as they are, could have hidden away their knowledge and forced us to learn it on our own, but instead given wholeheartedly to us. Something we hope we can do for someone else one day.

I had been away from my phone for a moment. When I got back, I saw that I had missed a call from them. Being that we are both very busy, it isn’t often we get a call from them. So I called back. Troy answered and said that he had in fact called me … to congratulate us!

Okay, most of you know me. If there is any rankings, voting or any way I can draw attention to Belle Grove Plantation, I am all over it. But what in the world is Troy talking about? He kind of laughed and said, “You really don’t know?” Okay, now I am really wondering what it could be? Did I win the Nobel Peace Prize? An Oscar? What?

Well …

Unknown to me, Tripadvisor rankings Bed and Breakfast Inns not only by city (which I know- we are ranked number one in King George because “surprise” we are the only ones in King George), but they also rank them by state.

Troy watches these rankings pretty closely. He stated that Belle Grove Plantation had been on the move up the rankings for quite some time now (a little over one and a half years). He finally asked me, “With 706 Virginia Bed and Breakfasts listed on Tripadvisor, where do you think Belle Grove Plantation is today?”

Instead of my stomach, my mind is now swimming! Could I be in the 500s? Maybe 300s? All I could think was no, we haven’t been around long enough. So finally I told him I had no idea.

“Well out of 706 Virginia Bed and Breakfast Inns listed on Tripadvisor, Belle Grove Plantation is ranked NUMBER 2 in the State!”

OMG … OMG … OMG … OMG … OMG …

My mind was gone. I couldn’t believe it! My first thought was to thank them for letting us know, but also for being there to help us get there! I know in my heart, their guidance helped us so much.

Then, my next thought … I don’t have an acceptance speech ready …

Brett returned from an errand and a Subway sandwich stop, which I am very jealous of, and I let him know the OMG news. I couldn’t call him to tell him over the phone. I needed to see his face, to see the expression. When he came in, he had sunglasses on and I asked him to take them off. Then I told him … his face was priceless.

Now, for that acceptance speech … if you can call it that. But know it is truly from the heart.

We would like to thank everyone for all the support and encouragement that we have received over the last year and a half. Some of you have been with us from the very start, others have come along as you have discovered us. All of you mean so much to Brett and I. You have prayed with us and for us. You have stepped up and volunteered for us. Some have worked even in the hottest of weather to help us get Belle Grove up and going. You continue to write reviews, vote for us and spread the word through brochures and word of mouth.

Without you, we would be nothing. And because of this, Brett and I truly grateful.

Now … what about that number one spot??

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Diary | Comments Off

Treasures

March 29, 2015

This weekend has been really busy with getting ready for another wedding here at the plantation. Tammy Anderson, our Wedding and Events Specialist has been working hard to ensure that every thing comes off without a hitch. With that and the University of Mary Washington here this morning, starting their archaeological survey, Sheldon, our Civil War Weekend Coordinator dropping a second load of fire wood for the Civil War Weekend in April and tours most of the day on Saturday, it really has been like a bee hive here this weekend. We have really had to shift gears quickly to move into the next thing each day. (Is it Monday yet? I am ready for my day off!)

On Saturday, we were so excited to receive a very special delivery! One of our fans from Facebook messaged me last week about taking a donation. Since we have been open this last year and half, we have received several donations. From books for the library to Victorian Candelabras to pieces of furniture and china, each piece has become a prized treasure to us. The best part is that they generally come with a story or history. This donation is no exception.

Ellen, our fan has given pieces of her family history. These are local pieces that are from around us here. So this makes them even more precious. Here is what we received:

2014-07-14 17.17.09

2014-07-14 17.17.20

house

A basket that was used by her grandmother, Edith Travis as a laundry basket. She used it during the 1920s while living in the Mica Community, which is now Fort AP Hill.

lounge

The chaise belonged to her grandfather, Dr. John Randolph Travis. She was told it was located in his medical office either in the Mica Community or when he practiced in Fredericksburg, Virginia during World War II.

unnamed

chair close up

spinning wheel

The chair she was inherited from her aunt. The spinning wheel with given to her about 12 years ago. She believes her aunt purchased them from a local antique store in either Richmond or the Northern Neck.

We have decided to place them in the Winter Kitchen in the basement for now. We are working towards opening that space as a small museum to display some of our artifacts from Belle Grove Plantation. This would be added to daily tours we current have. One of the things we wanted to do was to display information about our enslave community here at Belle Grove Plantation. So I think all but the chaise would work really will in telling that story.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude for the wonderful donations from Ellen. These pieces will always be a part of our Special Collection and will be treasured for years and generations to come!

If you would like to make a donation to our Special Collection, please contact us at information@bellegroveplantation.com. Any piece that we receive will stay at Belle Grove Plantation and will be listed in our Special Collection. It will also be treasured by us as one of the most special gifts given to us!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Diary | Comments Off

And then there is light… finally!

March 26, 2015

On the night of July 3, 2014, the day before our Red, White and Blues concert with the Alexis P Suter Band, we experienced a very high wind strong. It blew limbs down and made quite a lot of noise that night. But the worst part of this storm was that it brought down our back portico lantern. Just so you know, the door you enter when you arrive at the plantation is our back portico. Lucky for us, it didn’t hit anyone.

10502088_515839701785821_6916274465663694900_n

When it came down, the copper structure was damage and needed to be reattached. Believe it or not, it is next to impossible to find someone to do it. After looking locally, we finally found someone in Gordonsville, Virginia that could do it. Laurie Holladay Interiors (http://www.laurieholladayinteriors.com/) had someone on site to do the repair. We just had to get this huge lantern to them.

So on Monday, March 16, 2015, on our way to Montpelier for the Wreath Laying Ceremony for James Madison’s birthday, we made a side stop to drop it off. When I arrived, the gentleman who was going to do the repairs asked me how old I thought it was. Not knowing when it was brought to Belle Grove, my best guess is that it came sometime during the Hooker Family period (1930-1987) My best guess was somewhere in the 1940s. Brett would receive a call later the next day letting him know that they could repair it, the cost and when to expect it. He also let Brett know that the age of the lantern wasn’t the 1940s. He said that this lantern started out as a gas lantern around 1900. It would have later been converted to the electric as so many other would have.

Within one week, I was on the way back to pick it up. I was so excited to get it back. First to know that it came in during the Thornton Family period (1894-1906) instead of the Hooker Family. What a great surprise that was! Second to finally get light back on the back portico. It truly gets so dark here and I have been so afraid of people tripping down the stairs because they couldn’t see them.

Front Porch Lantern

Today, it was finally reinstalled! What a great joy to turn on the lantern and see the light! Tonight is going to be such a great joy seeing our lantern back again!

This weekend, Brett will have another item added to his “to do” list. We are going to chain the corners to keep it from swinging back and forth in the winds here. In fact we are going to chain all of the portico lights. We need to protect these treasures for others to enjoy.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Diary | Comments Off
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Pictures provided by Chamberlin Photography, Rebekah Beasley Photographs & DG Photography