Knoxville, TN artist-muralist, Lisa Haggerty Palmer brings vision to Townsend’s Gracehill Bed and Breakfast
October 2009 brought Gracehill B&B its busiest month since opening at Thanksgiving in 2000. As the pace eased in November and December, while most folks got ready for the holidays, I decided to jump in with both feet and do two projects that had been on my TO DO LIST for ten years.
Neighbor and friend extraordinaire, Jim Maness of Century 21 in Maryville, TN, moonlighted and painted the 16 foot dome ceiling in the living room a warm beautiful yellow and the hallway off three of the guest rooms a light taupe. Moving all the scaffolding was a chore in itself that was further complicated by two different Christmas parties! We were rolling out the scaffolding an hour before the appetizers were going in the oven. Once Jim was done, Lisa Haggerty Palmer came in and opened the skies for us on the living room ceiling and painted a beautiful sunset, sunrise??? Your pick. Lisa had been a guest of ours at Gracehill in the past, and we became reacquainted when she painted the backdrop for the altar at St. Francis in Townsend.
I tackled the downstairs hallway. I had always wanted to paint the words of a song, as a border, where the wall meets the ceiling. I’d had ten years to pick the song so you’d have thought I wouldn’t still be agonizing over the choice… It also needed to fit in 68 feet of linear space using an 8” font. Finally decided on the second verse of “How Great Thou Art.” Hope you like it as much as I do. mizkathleen@ Gracehill
When thru the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
This must be Gracehill’s favorite rock, see the blog of July 8th, and, one of my favorite photos of the season, took it in August. My office overlooks the back patio area and waterfall. Every once in a while, I glance outside and see either guests or wildlife. Suppose the wildlife would consider us the guests.
I am more of a flop in bed with a book at night, or an easy chair during the day, type of reader, but Scott and Jessica were soaking up some rays sitting on the rocks before the long trek home.
I wonder how many readers marry non-readers? I’m not talking about what you have to read for work, but readers who carry a book with them in case they get stuck somewhere. Surely a compatibility study has been done on this topic. I think it really comes down to those folks who can sit together comfortably in a room for hours without talking to each other versus those whose vocal cords would freeze up with five minutes of silence. A reader friend of mine is married to a non-reader. She says after 45 years of marriage they not only can but do sit in silence for hours on end. 😉
Wildlife likes warm rocks also. In retrospect, I wonder if there was anything lurking. Looks peaceful enough, but my guests could have been living on the edge for the hour they were there, and never knew how close they came to a critter encounter. Music of the “Twilight Zone” grows louder.
Shifting gears, it’s November and the green is gone replaced with lots of brown. Splashes of red and yellow are here and there. I took this second photo a few mornings ago. Was on my way to the kitchen at 6:30 AM. Looked out front and the moon was huge, glowing and just perfect. Swung into my office to grab my camera and made the mistake of clicking on my inbox. In the two minutes it took me to answer one short email , the moon all but disappeared. Seems like life goes just as fast. I attended a seminar in September, where the computer guru told us innkeepers that if we didn’t have a photo of ourselves posted on our websites, we were missing the boat. “Guests want to see who will be flipping their eggs.” I went to my web page today to plunk a photo in and read the “Gracehill Story” for the first time in years. Made me realize how much has happened since that first breakfast ten years ago. I had a family of six. At my first official breakfast, I made waffles for the main course. By the time I got done making six waffles, the first person who had eaten was ready for lunch! Music from the “Twilight Zone” fades, and the jingle “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby” floats through my head. By the way, if the urge hits to scope out my first time ever, newly released photo, please realize I have never flipped a fried egg in my life. There’s still time I guess… mizkathleen@ GracehillRead More
Fourth of July Week was our time for the Air Force, past and present. We had one couple here for five days, a third grade teacher, Lois, and her husband John who is a dentist and retired Air Force. They spent their days running the roads, seeing all they could, got in a few hikes, and were back at the B&B every evening in time for sunset. John is an avid photographer and set up his tripod and snapped away each night. For two of those same nights we had another couple; she also taught, and he was a retired pilot from the Air Force who went on to fly for the airlines.
Fast-forward, they all check out and the same day Frank and Janice check in to celebrate their first anniversary. She worked for the State Department and he is an F-16 pilot and instructor. Where am I going with all this? Don’t know. Wish they could have all been here at the same time, along with another F-16 pilot that stayed here last month. None of them know each other but it would have made for interesting conversation!
The evening of the same day Lois, John, and his camera checked out, and Frank and Janice were holed up in Gatlinburg waiting out a monsoon that dropped a couple of inches of rain in an hour, I had the most incredible sunset I’ve had in while. I was sitting in the living room when I realized the lighting was really eerie and the room was glowing. I managed to snap these photos between cloudbursts, spaced about 10 minutes apart. Too bad it was just me.
The next morning Frank and Janice are telling me about this frog that re-visited the same rock on the waterfall outside their room. After breakfast they went on a frog hunt in the back yard by the other waterfall. I have never really paid attention to what plops around in the pond as long as it is not slithering. Maybe I should start. There was a tiny little thing, about an inch long on the flagstone. I looked it up in my reptile and amphibian book and I’m dipped if I can tell if it was a baby green frog, or a baby common toad. The body looked a little like a toad and the head like the frog.
I had repeat guests here about a year ago and the first thing out of their mouth was, “Is the frog still here?” I said sure, we have a variety of noisemakers in the back yard. They said, “NO, THE FROG!” I said, “What frog?” They said, “The one whose picture has been on our fridge the past two years. He was sitting on a lotus pad.” I said, “Jeepers, I am a complete and utter failure as an innkeeper cause I don’t have a clue if it is the same one or not, and furthermore I don’t know where he/she might be at this very moment!” At least as far as I know, Janice didn’t take any photographs of the little leapers so I don’t have to go through this again. Hopefully. (Although, she did name the baby Lil’ Kermit….) Mizkathleen @GracehillRead More
Weekdays in June have been surprisingly busy with guests while weekends relatively slow, which is a little odd. Have had a few drop-in one-nighters, but most of the reservations have been three to five-nighers. Almost all of our guests these last 16 days have been hikers, rather than the shop until you drop variety! Cades Cove has been busy with numerous bear sightings. Weather continues to be beautiful. Gardens doing well and the dog fur has kept the rabbits away. Ta Da!!! (See my previous post.)
We put up a bat house. Bats (five or six) had started roosting under the eave on the front of the house in an area that wasn’t ideal. They showed up last year in the same spot and we ran them off. This year I decided I wanted them as permanent tenants, just not in that spot. They appear to have found the bat house. We rubbed a little bat guano on the house hoping that might help them find it. It can take up to a year or longer for them to find a house, could I be so lucky to have the bats find it that soon?
On a personal note, I woke up one morning ten days ago and decided I needed to start painting again. I mean right then, like, serve breakfast, clear the table, and pick up a paint brush. Don’t know where the urge came from. I haven’t done much in the way of art these ten years I have been inn-keeping. A dear guest who has become a good friend shamed me into a little painting last summer but it is always easier for me to find work to do around the B&B. I finished one painting, worked on another, and started two others in the last ten days. Today is my first day without guests in a while and I thought I would paint all day. Thank the Lord common sense prevailed and I have been a good girl working through the piles on my desk today.
I have been trying to submit/claim my blog on www.Technorati.com for the last three weeks and today it took me one step further than before. I need to post the following number- ynvcjgiqrd, for it to find me. We’ll see if it works. mizkathleen @GracehillRead More
Have been busy these last ten days doing catch up on lots of small jobs, mostly in the office, but outside also. On Thursday Brandy, Hans, and I got in 3.5 hours each, outside, before the heavens opened back up with one heck of a storm. For as small as the rose garden is (80 bushes?) I don’t know where the time went between dead heading, spraying, & tying a few of them up.
Hans has continued to put in some time on Friday and today. For some reason, this year has been a constant battle against the forces of nature in the form of small critters. We always have the occasional bear, boar, turkey, and deer, but have never really had many squirrels and such. This year the rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks have made a tossed salad out of everything we’ve planted. The birds tore up the moss garden for nest building so we put netting over what was left of the moss to anchor it down. You don’t really see it unless it is raining and the water beads up on it.
I tried sprinkling this rabbit/deer away stuff around. It has worked some. It is supposed to irritate their noses so they stay away. I could deal with the tops being eaten off the zinnias, but Mom went out one morning and all the parsley was eaten down to the ground. I’m surprised that the shriek that came out of her mouth didn’t scare them off permanently. We tried using a small trap to relocate them but they didn’t like Kroger brand carrots, I guess. I’ve tried a liquid that you spray on the foliage and it killed the May Night Salvia. So option four- I went to Pet Smart and asked them for all their dog fur out of their vacuum. Hans spread that around in and out of the plants and we’ll see if that works. Anybody have any suggestions other than expediting their trip to heaven I’m open to suggestions! mizkathleen @GracehillRead More
This article was linked to our Gracehill website for awhile and I decided to repost it in a blog format. There were eight photos that appeared in the original format, seven of which are already on our website so we are leaving them off the blog. Since this article was written, Gracehill won the award for a third year in a row, and added an additional bedroom.
Gracehill- Townsend, Tennessee
by Sharon Sweetser Pound
in Arrington’s Inn Traveler
One glance into the guest book at Gracehill in Townsend, Tennessee hints at this bed and breakfast’s distinct character. Comments include “a magical place,” “a wonderful refuge,” “couldn’t resist one more night,” “a little piece of heaven,” and “where we renew our spirits and restore our souls.”Read More