Timberwolf Creek Blog

Mother’s Day Wedding Story!

So, today is Mother’s Day.


Today’s bride, Lisa, tells me that a couple of years ago she worried about what her sons thought of Scott. They were all in the kitchen and she said, “I don’t think I’m going to call him anymore.” She turned around and both boys had stopped what they were doing. After a moment, the elder said, “Either you call him, or we will.”


While cutting the wedding cake, she announced, “Awww my sons got me a husband for mother’s day!”




Poached Eggs

Confessions of an Innkeeper: I’ve had my B&B since 1998, I’m 58 years old, and today I poached an egg for the first time in my life. I’m astonished how fast, how simple, how easy – and why in the world have I been so intimidated by this??!?

very first poached eggs ever (blush)

very first poached eggs ever (blush)

Nevermore! Break an egg (cold & fresh) into a small bowl. Put an inch of water in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then ease it off to a simmer. Add a teaspoon of salt, two of white vinegar, swirl to make a whirlpool. Ease the egg right into the center of the whirlpool. Cover and remove from heat. NO PEEKING for five minutes. Poof. Egg. I didn’t trim edges, cherry pick the best ones, or anything. This is how they came out. I took them out of the pan with a slotted spoon, laid momentarily on a paper towel and put them in the bowl. That’s it. Oh, and I ate them. With pleasure.


Wine Tasting at Frankie’s Italian Trattoria

Here are my thoughts re last night’s Italian wine tasting at Frankie’s Italian Trattoria… I’ll start with this: when is the next one?? Because I had SUCH a good time and thoroughly enjoyed it  – tasting new wines, presented by knowledgeable people, and good Italian Winefood, in a great space, with a friendly crowd… Definitely repeatable. The highlight of the wine list, for me, was the Ca’ Viola Barbera d’Alba. It stole my heart.

There were nine wines, in all.  The evening began on a festive note, with a sparkling Bisol Jeio Cuvee Rose Brut – pink prosecco!  It was lovely, crisp, not too sweet and with the flavor one hopes for from a merlot/pinot noir blend.  It tasted like summer on the porch.

It was followed by a Greco white that did nothing for me – just not my favorite grape, and this one was no different.

Next, a new white (new to me) that startled me into a Wow!  What a revelation – and I’m so sorry I didn’t snag a couple of bottles (and am fervently hoping that I find it on the wine list at Frankie’s.)  What is this wonderful ‘new’ white?  (Stop laughing.  I told you it was new to me.  I haven’t tasted ALL the wines, yet.  But I’m working on it.)  Apparently, I’m the last person on the list to drink this wine.  When I researched it a bit, I encountered things like, “Italy’s first white wine to gain international repute,” and, “one of the top-ranking Italian whites today.”  Well, I am blushing.  And I’m also seriously disappointed that I’m so far into my dotage before tasting such a rich white wine.  It’s crisp and flinty, with lots of mineral flavor and still manages to deliver lots of citrus fruit.  Nicely done!  The grape is Cortese, and the region is Gavi, in the Piedmont. This one is Broglia La Meirana.  It’s not often (ok never) that I find a white wine I’d drink year-round.  I’m a seasonal creature: I want red wine until it’s hot outside and then I want pink or white or sparkling.  Chilled.  Cocktails?  Give me rum or bourbon until summer strikes, and then it’s all about the clear stuff.  So.  Back to the Piedmont.

Yes, yes, I’d love to be totally conversant with all the Italian wine regions, but I’m not.  Oh wait, you aren’t either?  Let’s take a peek at a map, then, shall we?Italian_wine

Wow.  There are a LOT of regions!  A few years ago, I’d have found that completely intimidating…. because I’d have felt responsible to know them all, master them all, and be able to tell you which is the best known wine from each region.  Well, no more.  Today, I know that honey, it ain’t happenin’.  So, having let that go, it just means there’s a multitude of fine wines, just waiting for me to pick a spot on a map and check it out!  It’s like *Christmas* out there!

So, today: the Piedmont.  Interestingly enough, this region handed over not only this great white wine, but also some of the superb reds that I already know and love from Italy.  I just call them the B’s.  If I choose one off a wine list, I know that even the mediocre ones will be nice.  Barbera, Barolo, Brunello.  I’d thought they were Tuscan, but apparently, I’m quite a fan of the Piedmont wines.

Enter into the mix: a taste of Argiano Brunello, from Tuscany.  Oh, I was remarkably unimpressed.  Lovely on the nose, and the initial taste was no surprise, rich and ripe as promised – and loads of tannins, which I enjoy, and then a beautiful finish.  But absolutely nothing in the middle.  Like it was hollow.  I moved on.  (But not before having it pointed out that I’d just dissed a fifty dollar bottle.  Oops!)

Back to the Piedmont.  Again.  The next was Produttori Nebbiolo Langhe.  It didn’t start or finish as well as the Brunello, but it had all the middle I was missing!  Rich, full, dense, lots of personality.  And the more I sipped, the more I enjoyed it.  Excellent with food- it didn’t challenge the flavors, but it didn’t disappear in your mouth, either.

Food?  Did I mention food?  Good heavens:  Louis turned out a feast to go with the wines… bruschetta (where he gets flavorful fresh tomatoes in January is a mystery) and olives and cheeses and oh my oh my fresh mozarella drizzled with balsamic vinegar… but I digress.  Ahem.  Wine.

Because then…. drum roll…  I tasted the perfect wine.  The Ca’ Viola Barbera d’Alba Brichet 2010 is my wine.  (Well, it is now, because I bought some and took it home with me.)  It’s not expensive, under $20, and boy it delivers.  It’s rich and creamy – if wine were made with heavy whipping cream, it would be in this one.  It’s dense, like a port, heavy and tannic, but still balanced.  How do they *do* that?!  I was over the moon.  This wine was downright chewy.  Sure, it was fine with the food, but it didn’t need food to complete it.  I just love this wine.  Did I mention it was my favorite?  I may have.

It was hard to yank myself back to the present, and not just keep drinking the Barbera all night, but I moved on to taste the Fossacolle Rosso.  Sharing the grapes with Brunello, this was like “Brunello Light”.  It was easy, very drinkable, and light, lots of fruit, and most decidedly not empty in the middle.  It wasn’t chewy and dense like the Barbera, but rather like the thin viscosity and light body you’d expect in a Beaujolais Nouveau.  This is summer’s red wine, when you want something nice on the porch.

In a similar vein, came the Colosi Nero d’Avola.  I was really expecting a bigger wine from this Sicilian grape.  It was quite nice, and I wouldn’t have been disappointed to be served this anywhere, but it was too light for me.

Finally, we tried the Colpetrone Sagrintino di Montefalco.  Smack in the center, Umbria delivers a really nice wine.  The balance of light body and peppery fruit made it the perfect wine to sip while finishing off that last bit of cheese from the tasting plate.

Now – in the middle of all this pouring and tasting and munching and chatting, the sommelier mentioned to me that she believed the Argiano Brunello had been unfairly judged, and needed to breathe a lot more than it had been allowed.  So, here we are an hour later, and she poured me another taste.  People!  Night and day!!  The middle of that wine had finally Arrived.  It was a beautiful thing.  It was also out of my price range, so I just went ahead and savored the taste.  Beginning, middle, long lovely finish, it was all there.

But you know I went back for my Barbera.  Ca’ Viola, thou art mine.





October’s Bright Blue Weather deserves a mention, today!

October’s Bright Blue Weather
by Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;

When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When Gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October’s bright blue weather.

O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.



Poison Ivy and Serendipities

Ok, I’ll admit it: I’m askeered o’ poison ivy.  It hasn’t ever attacked me before.  I’m one of those people blessed to start out in life immune.  Didn’t even know what it looked like when I first got to the mountains, until I was weeding one day and a neighbor cried out, “What are you doing!!?!” as I yanked out the vines barehanded.

Then, come to find out, you gain sensitivity to the oils, each time you’re exposed.  Well the last thing I wanna do is ‘gain sensitivity’, now right?  Along the climb up the learning curve, jewel weed (a.k.a. touch-me-not) entered the picture.  Jewelweed is nature’s response to the nasty uroshiol oil in poison ivy.  As a matter of fact, if you do find yourself exposed, grab a stem of jewelweed and crush it in your hand, then wipe the juicy mush on the exposed skin -voila!  Neutralized.

Now, when I say nature’s remedy, I do mean it – Mother Nature (Note: used as a colloquialism, not a diety – I’m just sayin’.  I get letters.)  Where was I?  Oh, yes.  Mother Nature.  Nature has contrived to grow jewelweed under the same growing conditions as poison ivy.  How handy is that?!

Since mostly my gardening is done at the Creek House and the Black Bear Cottage in the Woods, I figured I’d be most likely to get exposed there, and then not notice until I got back to my little cabin.  So one day, I pulled up some jewelweed plants and parked those babies right outside my front door.  They are happily propogating there, awaiting my moment of need.  Matter o’ fact, they’ve grown into a raggedy little grove, there.  Some of those plants are as tall as I am!

And in the meantime…. serendipity…  At this moment, they are blooming in profusion – bright orange pendants, bobbing in the sunlight.  And a super deluxe extra added bonus this morning?  Hummingbirds.

Well, I’ll be.  Hummingbirds.  I don’t have to fix a feeder, and I don’t even have to weed.  Poof.  Hummingbirds.  Just stand at the kitchen window, pour a cuppa coffee, and enjoy.

Sweet serendipity.


What’s your Travel Personality?

Do you like to return to your favorite haunts, or do you seek out new experiences? Do you have an itinerary? Would you rather let the wind carry you where it may?

For a while now, I’ve been toying with the notion of categorizing travelers – not only my guests, but myself and those with whom I travel. Back in my 20s, I was introduced to the ‘four humors’ proposed by Hippocrates, which has been imitated, expanded upon, and reengineered through a complete metamorphosis into sixteen types by Briggs-Meyers. But the fundamental notion of four basic personality types still holds. Even Hippocrates allowed for a blend of primary and secondary traits.

Given all that, I wondered if maybe there were also four corresponding travel personalities… perhaps a combination of more than one type – or even stepping out to try a new type of travel, now and then.

The only ones I was really aware of, in the B&B business, are the folks who return to the same place again and again, versus the folks who will always go somewhere new. Since I am the former and my husband the latter, I wondered at the motivation.

So let’s start with the original four… Sanguine, Melancholy, Choleric, and Phlegmatic. I’ve heard them described many ways. One that made a lot of sense to me, answered the question, “What do they love?” Sanguine: fun. Melancholy: order. Choleric: control.  Phlegmatic: peace. Another description I enjoyed (because I am, after all, a Sanguine) put each in a role in a theater. Sanguine: the actor. Melancholy: the stage manager. Choleric: the director. And Phlegmatic: the audience. A list of best/worst traits included… Sanguine: loving/ridiculous. Melancholy: generous/depressed. Choleric: willing/angry. Phlegmatic: thoughtful/withdrawn. Anyway, you get the idea.

In our family, we have examples of each. If I (the Sanguine) lose my car keys, and later find them in the bottom of my purse, I’m so happy to have them! Plus, I found a $10 bill, three peppermint candies, and the phone number I was looking for. It’s like Christmas. Nick (my Choleric son) will tell me that I should always put the keys in the front right pocket so that I’ll know where to find them. Larry (my Melancholy husband) will kindly label the pocket for me. And my Phlegmatic boy Gary will just ask, “Why do all that? Dad has a spare key.”

Ok, so you get the general idea. How does that translate to travel? Ok, bear with me…

I love to travel. Travel brings me joy. And the discovery of new and different places, and learning all about them, that’s fantastic! I travel for the pleasure of travel. And yet… the richest experiences for me are returning again and again to the places I love. We’ve been to Cozumel about twenty times, over the course of our marriage. On our honeymoon, we discovered an out of the way place on the back side of the island, populated only by locals, unknown to tourists. We ordered lobster tails, by pointing at the picture menu. A charming little man, Willie, trotted them out on a tray to our table in the sand where we sat barefoot under a palapas-roofed umbrella.  As much I enjoyed exploring all the new places along the way, year after year, my heart would swell as we’d step back into that little restaurant and Willie would come out again to greet us. So. I’m calling the Sanguine version of travel “Norm at Cheers” -you remember the TV show. The theme song was ‘Where everybody knows your name’.

Next, let’s take a look at our Melancholy travelers… They are the Lewis & Clark Explorers, on a quest to organize and document each trip. It’s not about the document at the end, it’s about the planning process and the travel itself – about checking off the boxes. “Oh, let’s go this way. I haven’t driven through that city, yet.” Check. “Let’s try this new restaurant.” And if you ask, “Sure, why?” They’ll tell you, “I’ve been to everywhere else on that street, except that one.” Check. Or, “I’ve never had Chinese-Jamaican fusion food.” Check. The Lewis & Clark Explorer traveler isn’t opposed to indulging a Norm at Cheers traveler by revisiting a restaurant… but it’s a cinch, he won’t order what he had the first time.

The Phlegmatic traveler is an entirely different animal. He, too, is only interested in new places, but couldn’t care less about checking off boxes. (“Boxes? I don’t understand. What boxes?”) His quest is just to see what else is out there. He’s an easy traveler, moving when his party wants to move, but given his own solitary company, he’ll roost in a place for a while, to soak in the ambiance, before moving along to the next. He’s the backpacker in Europe, the retiree with a motor home and no plan, in America. Footloose and relaxed. Our Wanderer, on the poor side, is the hobo. On the wealthy side, he’s a jet-setter. (I wonder if you’ve ever considered the similarities before?)

Enter the Choleric traveler – the Rick Steves/Charles Kuralt of travel, our Tour Guide. They also travel, like Norm at Cheers, for the pleasure of travel. And like the Lewis & Clark Explorer, they like to see it all, even in an organized fashion. But they have an agenda. The Tour Guides aren’t just collecting experiences. They are sorting and sifting through to find the creme de la creme. And they share the knowledge! Nothing pleases our Tour Guides better than saying, “Oh, you’re going There? You absolutely Must stop at this divine little spot.” The Tour Guide is perfectly content revisiting places. For heaven’s sake, why would you skip the very best spots?

Ok, ok, I confess: I’m a sanguine with a Lot of choleric in there. And yes, I’m happy to provide directions to my favorite little restaurant on Cozumel.

So – which one, or combination, are you?






Fairygodmother Superpowers

In addition to all that wedding fairygodmother magic….  Now that I’m over 50, I have developed a super-power:invisibility!!

Put me on a beach, any beach, where there are 20-something women in bikinis and I disappear.

My life rocks.


A Celtic Handfasting

What a special afternoon!  Ok, it’s like this… Every state in America requires that you obtain your marriage license from the state in which you are to be married.  That same license has to be returned to that office, in order to be registered (Register of Deeds) and recorded (Vital Records), and only then can the wedding couple get a certified copy of their license.  That certified copy allows them to update drivers license, insurance, benefits, Social Security, etc.  We get lots of couples here from out of state – or out of the country – who’ve never even heard of Maggie Valley, never been in this part of North Carolina, or maybe even to the United States, but they loved the pictures (and apparently the zany innkeepers) of Timberwolf Creek, and they come here to us, to be married.  After the wedding, they have to mail away to our local courthouse for their official copy of the license, and all that administrative stuff is just in limbo while they wait.

This time, it was a little different.  Our very Irish couple (Americans) decided to come on Friday, apply for and get the license, and bring it to us here.  We then had a handfasting ceremony, with witnesses, who signed the documents.  Our couple then rushed back to the courthouse and registered their marriage!  To celebrate the completion of all this running-about, they went on to have a couples massage at Mountain Spirit Wellness, followed by a leisurely dinner out at Frog’s Leap Public House.

Handfasting cords: burgundy, gold, and green

Handfasting cords: burgundy, gold, and green


The cords are burgundy, gold and green.  The burgundy represents romance, partnership, and happiness.  The gold is for unity, prosperity, and longevity.  The green stands for peace, sincerity, and devotion.  And in this case, the cords were all from the bridegroom’s graduations, as he has more than one advanced degree – perfect!

The wedding ceremony (traditional) will be Saturday, no further government intervention required.  Voila.

A handfasting is an ancient Celtic custom, which allowed a couple to make a marital commitment to each other, for a year-and-a-day.  This was important in places like the rural Scottish Highlands, because it could be many months before you’d see a priest.  This way, a couple could be married, and then solemnize their ceremony within the church when the priest arrived later.  They wouldn’t be living in sin, and they didn’t have to wait months to be married.

As the handfasting is on Friday and the wedding on Saturday, I’ve explained to the groom that he now is expected to produce a wonderful anniversary gift on *both* dates, for the rest of his life.

He’s ok with that.

And may they live Happily Ever After.

Could my job just be a LITTLE more fun?  I think not.



Open Letter to a Wonderful Bride

I just fired off a quick note to an remarkable bride-to-be, and wanted to share it with y’all, because it’s such an exceptional moment.

When a wedding elopement is booked at Timberwolf Creek, the bride receives -among other things- a copy of the traditional wedding vows that we usually use here, plus some additional readings that have become popular over time.  She is encouraged to share these with her fiance’ and, together, craft a ceremony that is meaningful to them.  They are welcome to add, delete, edit, or toss the whole thing out and replace it with another.  About half the time, the bride sends a note that they want the ceremony ‘as is’.  (It’s a pretty nice ceremony.)  Now and then, I get a letter asking to replace the opening reading or the closing prayer with one provided by the wedding couple.  But the rest are another matter.

The reason that I ask for the vows a couple of weeks before the wedding isn’t because I need time to format, print, and rehearse.  (That only takes a few minutes.)  It’s because it takes a good deal of time to rewrite the things I’ve been given, or to ask for clarity for the notes that say, “Something like this,” and “Make this include our children.”  Voila!  I am an author!  Still, my favorites are the greeting cards -the ones that rhyme.  When you pick up that pretty card in the store, with its engraved and foiled cover, on lovely paper, and open to read the endearing sentiment, please… people… read it aloud before you decide to include it in your ceremony.  If you find yourself rocking back and forth and using your best Cat in the Hat voice, reminiscing about Dr. Seuss and animal cookies, you might want to rethink this particular selection.

With that, here’s the note to my April bride…

I might just sit down and have a little cry.  You sent me the whole ceremony.  Nowhere in there does it say ‘I take thee [BRIDE]’ or State-Your-Name.  You haven’t added little notes that say, “Pick one of these,” or, “Make it sound something like this.”  There is no rhyming Helen Steiner-Rice greeting card text… which is lovely in the greeting card, but reading it aloud sounds exactly like a Dr. Seuss book, and sorely tempts me to point out –during the ceremony- that I do not like green eggs and ham.  You haven’t sent me a love letter to read, written in the first person, which I must either re-write in the third person, or risk sounding like I’m trying to run off with your fiance’.  You sent your wedding ceremony, just how you wanted it to be, word for word.  That is just such a rare and wonderful thing!!  You Rock.

Thank you, thank you!



The heck with the red hat; gimme the yoga pants

When I am an Old Innkeeper
I shall wear yoga pants and fuzzy slippers
and forget where bras and hair products are stored.
I shall spend my worldly riches on chocolate and good wine
and tequila aged forever in oak.
I shall spend my afternoons playing silly games
and watching old TV series
and reading books one after another.
People will tire of ‘when I was in Italy’ and stories of
unruly guests and breakfast kitchen disasters.
But I won’t care. I’ll tell it anyway.
I will sleep through the morning and have breakfast mid-afternoon
and use paper towels as napkins.
I will lick the spoon and put it back in the sauce because
it will all be for me, anyway.
I will drink from the orange juice bottle in the middle of the night, in front of the refrigerator, in my bare feet and pajamas, with only the one small bulb to light my way.
I will go all week without cooking one egg.
I will go out for breakfast on Sundays, and order ovo-vegetarian-lactose-intolerant-gluten-free-low-carb high-protein-paleo-south-beach-vegan-macrobiotic omelets. With real cream for my coffee. And bacon. On the side.
For now, I will rise before the sun and indulge my guests and perform in the kitchen and savor each conversation and encounter.
But I am already practicing… for when I grow old.


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