"A blog is to a writer what a canvas is to an artist." ~ Colleen Redman
~ The following are some of the photos I took to accompany a recent story in the Floyd Press, written by the paper’s editor about the Hotel Floyd’s expansion. The narrative below comes from a piece I was commissioned to write about the expansion. It appears in the current issue of The Floyd Magazine.
The Hotel Floyd opened in 2007 as downtown Floyd’s first green lodging establishment. Built by Jack Wall and Kamala Bauers, it features themed rooms that showcase the music, art, mountain culture and natural beauty that is increasingly drawing visitors to Floyd.
Constructed with eco-friendly building materials, and with photovoltaic solar panels on the roof, the hotel was well received, which led to its expansion. In 2011, an electric car charger was installed on the 2 ½ acre grounds and two pet-friendly suites with full kitchens were built adjacent to the hotel’s 14-roomed original building. In the summer of 2013, construction began on the hotel’s four-story addition and was completed in June of 2014.
The new addition includes 24 themed rooms (singles and suites), a reception lobby, a gift shop, a holistic fitness room and a conference center. The conference center, which is available for rent, features state of the art meeting equipment and opens onto a courtyard garden, making the combination suitable for wedding receptions and other events. A café is also housed in the new addition, providing space for the hotel to now offer continental breakfast that will incorporate locally produced food.
The hotel’s central downtown location has contributed to its popularity. Offering boutique style and modern amenities amidst a small town setting, the hotel is within walking distance to historic sites, the Floyd Farmers Market, antique and clothing stores, fine arts and crafts shops and a town park where mountain sunsets can be enjoyed. Artisan baked goods, farm-to-table meals, tapas, Mexican fare, brick oven pizzas, micro-brews and traditional country cooking are all available downtown.
On Thursday evenings from May to October, the hotel hosts free concerts at the Hotel Floyd gazebo bandstand. Other live music venues are a footpath away and include Dogtown Roadhouse, Oddfellas Cantina and the world famous Floyd Country Store, a Crooked Road Heritage Music Trail destination and home of the Friday Night Jamboree, where people come from all over to enjoy traditional Appalachian music and dancing.
Nearby activities and places of interest include hiking trails, kayaking on the Little River, small farms, artists’ studios, wellness centers and wineries. The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway with more than 40 miles running through Floyd and Floydfest, a popular five day annual music festival, are among the area’s attractions that have made the one-stoplight town of Floyd a destination.
The hotel’s themed rooms and suites are decorated by local artists, groups and businesses and reflect the creativity of the Floyd community. The natural hardwood furniture is all made local and some of it is handcrafted. Special touches that add to the themed decors include an antique typewriter in the Floyd Writers Suite that was once used in the Bank of Floyd, a collection of framed quilt and lace crochet samples in The Old Church Gallery Suite, a handmade fiddle displayed in the Floyd Country Store Suite and lamps with honeycomb designs in the Spikenard Farm and Bee Sanctuary Room. The Floyd Press Room features a framed montage of past top news stories, including one on Floyd NASCAR driver, Curtis Turner.
“What I think is unique about the Hotel Floyd is that it showcases the essence of Floyd. When you travel in most communities and stay in a lodging establishment, you can’t tell where you are because everything is the same. At the Hotel Floyd all the rooms are different and each one represents a special person, organization or place in Floyd,” said Kamala Bauers, hotel co-owner.
Photos: Hotel Floyd, Spikenard Farm and Bee Sanctuary Room, 16 Hands Artisan Room, Floyd Press Room, New Mountain Mercantile Room, Hotel Live Music Gazebo, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Music Festival Room, Mugs in the Music Festival Room, A thread filled lamp in The School House Fabric Room, SustainFloyd Room and below Angels in the Attic Room and Hotel co-owner Kamala Bauers showing visitors the hotel courtyard.
Visit the Hotel Floyd’s website to see more photos HERE.
_____Our World Tuesday
Poetry drives a red sports car
It takes the scenic route
It travels light with the top down
and rarely gives free rides
Poetry drives a hard bargain
It won’t settle for middle-of-the-road
It doesn’t take shortcuts
but beats the traffic
It makes up for lost time
1. I had a screw loose while on a dinner date Saturday night, meaning that a literal screw came loose and fell out of my glasses.
2. Reading at the pool: “We are looking not for perfection in our partner but for a mutual exploration of imperfections.” –From Three Marriages by David Whyte
3. Only in Floyd: Church worship in rocking chairs. See HERE.
4. Heard on Fresh Air: “Raising children is an act of love as well as an act of fiction in which the characters slowly free themselves from the supposed author.” – Author David Gilbert
5. Line from the movie we watched over the weekend: “Feelings are like children. You don’t want them driving the car but you don’t want to stuff them in the trunk either.”
6. The mural in the photo above was taken during a recent trip to theTaubman Museum of Art in Roanoke and was created by Jennifer D. Anderson, a professor of art at Hollins University. The website description of the work says, “The mural presents the tenacious relationship between the natural and man-made environment as the mural itself functions as a “wall paper” with a pattern similar to those found in the formal dining rooms of Victorian homes.”
7. When I was 19, I wallpapered my bedroom with purple tissue paper from the Boston boutique I worked in. I cut-out Yellow submarine figures and pasted them around, but I didn’t go to Woodstock. See Why HERE.
8. Writing/blogging is another outlet for creativity and can be dangerous just like any art is, but hitting the nerve is what makes the most compelling art and honesty is key. Every poem or post is an aspect of the whole where the darkness and light can ebb and flow. We put it out to see it from a new perspective. ~ Comment to a friend who just started a blog and was questioning the danger of blogging/sharing one’s the inner life.
9. There was a lost chance to paint the Floyd water tower pink and make a poetic statement about a “Pink Floyd” when the iconic lead-painted landmark recently came down with a boom. See it fall HERE.
10. Some busy bees make hives with flower petals. See their works of art HERE.
11. I could paper my walls with poems about the moon. The latest is called Commitment and goes: A bright white heart / on night’s dark sleeve / a faithful moon / proves its constancy.
12. My inclination toward introversion is a strong trait that’s tempered by my love of fun and new adventure. But for every two hours I’m out, I need about four at home to recover. In the end it’s my curiosity about people and my urge to communicate that bridges the gap between the wallflower in me and the social butterfly just waiting to fly solo again. –More from Public Speaking Phobia to Town Crier, a 2008 blog post HERE.
13. “Words are things, I’m convinced. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes, and finally, into you. We must be careful about the words we use.” ―Maya Angelou
- The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on June 19, 2014.
Woodworker Ernest Bryant had a steady stream of visitors for the 2014 Floyd Artisan Trail. Tour traffic has been growing every year, Bryant said. This year visitors to Bryant’s home studio came from Pennsylvania, Tennessee, North Carolina, from all over Virginia and as far away as Colorado.
Along with a tour of his workshop – where he creates custom design furniture, traditional and fantasy wood carvings and antique reproductions – visitors also enjoyed strolling through a tree stump sculpture garden and an outdoor “Wood Zoo” gallery on the property that Bryant shares with artist Charlotte Atkins. “I’ve been dragging wood out of the woods all my life,” said Bryant, as he pointed out a bank of locust stump sculptures from trees that came down during
Bryant’s love of wood and his enthusiasm for working with it is evident everywhere in his surroundings. He speaks with awe about looking at the sculpture gallery in the moonlight and laments the loss of hemlock trees from the
woolly adelgid infestation. He points out patterns made by insects on one tree limb and describes how his pet longhorn cow (which he calls a solar-powered lawn-mower) polished another smooth by rubbing against it.
“When I was about 5 years old I got a Handy Andy toolkit for Christmas. It had a hammer, saw and mallet in it. I’ve been doing this ever since,” remembered Bryant, who was recently selected as the Jacksonville Center’s 2104 featured artist, a program that honors some
of Floyd’s most renowned artists that are scattered throughout the hills and hollers of the county.
“I’ve been to Floyd before and love to do the Artisan Trails,” said a visitor from Lynchburg who was ready to experience Bryant’s Wood Zoo.
Many of Bryant’s pieces, like this one titled “Closet Full of Fools,” are elaborate works that grow over time and reflect his whimsical sense of humor.
Tree stumps are continually being arranged and added to, Bryant said. Some of the locust tree stumps on the backyard bank were supplied by a past Artisan Tour-goer (from Bent Mountain) who appreciated Bryant’s work.
Atkins explained that the tree sculpture garden started with the felling of a pine tree that left a stump, which became a base to hold other objects, like this mirrored garden globe that is majestically held by one tree stump and reflects the Bryant/Atkins homestead.
Bryant calls this locust tree sculpture a Geronimus. The longhorn is either Dixie or Buddy Boy.
____________Our World Tuesday
Bright white heart
on night’s dark sleeve
A faithful moon
proves its constancy
___________Colleen Redman / Imaginary Garden with Real Toads
Well, they’ve only been open for little over a month, so it’s no wonder they’re one of the best kept secrets in Floyd. I tried it out yesterday for the first time (got there right before they closed) and found you can fill your spoon at the Fat Spoon with some of the tastiest food in town from their all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. The best part was that I could bring Joe home a to-go carton full of the same, and for only $6.
The chef at Fat Spoon was recently the head chef at Chateau Morrisette Winery before he opened his own place in the old Cross Creek building. He recommended the baked fish and crawfish in a tasso gravy sauce, and he was right. I was in heaven.
I also enjoyed the citrus roasted chicken that was falling off the bone and the cooked greens (kale) mix, along with talking with Sarah, the restaurant’s new business manager and the daughter of a good friend.
I had already eaten the gourmet good cooking at the Long Fin Food truck, which is owned by the Fat Spoon chef and run by another chef, Chiron, who is the son of another good friend. The Long Fin is also in the old Cross Creek complex.
I like the outdoor picnic table atmosphere and hear that the scene will soon include music from the parked boat.
Chiron mixes up a medley of flavors that are new to me. I’ve especially been enjoying his (very affordable) fresh seafood dishes.
I also stopped in at the new Wee-Cycle (two doors down from the Fat Spoon), a resale shop for children’s clothes and toys (which also carries women’s clothes). I had a look around, met the owner and her children.
The large pink dollhouse being played with by Lily (above) brought out the girl in me, the girl that always wanted but never got a dollhouse.
Another best kept secret in Floyd is the 3:30 adult swim at the Great Oaks Country Club Pool, where I sometimes have the whole pool to myself for half-an-hour. Gotta burn off some of the gourmet all-you-can-eat good eats, you know. The summer is on!
1. Wedge, hedge and ledge all have an edge in them.
2. The wood thrush is my Hans Christian Anderson’s Nightingale in shining armour (and that misspelling of armor was a Freudian slip that I chose to keep).
3. I call the photo above of my first wood thrush photo capture “It’s So Nice to Put a Face with a Song.” Listen HERE.
4. Studies show that grandparents who baby-sit are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. See HERE.
5. I’ve never read Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings but I think it’s one of the best book titles around.
6. I once went on a solo writing retreat without a dictionary or a thesaurus, which is a little like going shopping without any form of currency to buy stuff with.
7. You can quote me: Say what you mean and mean what you say but don’t say it mean.
8. Comment from my blog friend and poet Pearl in 2008 blog post: Poets get jaded and write poems about writing poems and against poets who write poems about poems. This is laryngitis with a font.
9. Favorite video of the week, featuring the guys who are keeping me from getting Alzheimer’s: Get Up Offa That Thing because I Feel Good HERE.
10. Only in Floyd: Over the weekend I strolled in a Wood Zoo (Floyd Press story
coming), ate gourmet food from a food truck, watched women simulating birthing in the play BIRTH and checked out the opening of the Jax’s 2014 juried art show. Cleo Keller, who works with Joe at Floyd’s Springhouse Community high school, won a $200 second place prize for the fabric art piece, called Pipe Organ, pictured above being admired by my friends Ashera and Luke.
11. I also documented a homemade obstacle course that involved a mini-trampoline, sword sticks, a squirt gun, hula hoops, a wheel barrow, net and more. It was a course that Joe (who is also not getting Alzheimer’s) couldn’t get past level 2 of, even when he Face-timed eldest son Josh for help and they ran it together. See HERE.
12. “Anything that works against you can also work for you once you understand the Principle of Reverse.” ~ Maya Angelou
13. Speaking of birdsong, OMG! Where has THIS been all my life?
Time with our grandsons seems to slip through my hands like sand through an hourglass. At six and three, they change so fast, and I find myself trying to soak up everything about them. I imagine that I’ll follow them around and write down the amazing things they say, but the chaos of life and the whirlwind of attending their needs takes over to the point that after they leave, I barely remember anything that just happened.
I’m always amazed at how much they learn in one day, how many questions they ask and how many words are brand new to them. “Liam, can you pass that white pointy thing? It’s called a funnel.” He and Bryce learned the new word “smorgasbord” at our picnic table lunch. Bryce learned what fragile and cherish mean long ago.
And they also teach us. We talked about the Periodic Table, an image that Bryce had on his Minecraft t-shirt. It wasn’t a real table, like Bryce first thought. He suggested we call it Periodic Chart so people wouldn’t get confused. He also corrected Hopa Joe when they were reading a book about the metamorphosis of a butterfly and Joe called a pupa a poopa. That got good laugh.
At the pool, Bryce wanted to know why the men’s room sign began with a P (pirates)
and the women’s room began with an M (mermaids). There were no pictures to give
Back at home, both boys spent a long time making an obstacle course that involved swords, a squirt gun, hula hoops, a wheel barrow, net and more. It was a course that Hopa couldn’t get past level 2 of, even when he face-timed Uncle Josh for help and they ran it together.
Liam is hungry now, but the words “cookie” and “jerky” come out sounding exactly the same. He does a little dance and uses a sing-song voice every time he asks for “peanut butter balls.” He loves to make others laugh and starts making faces by pulling down his eyelids and sticking out his tongue. Bryce wants to know, if we pulled down all sides of our lids would our eyes fall out?
Really. You just can’t make this stuff up.
________Our World Tuesday
The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on June 12, 2014.
The Virginia Blue Ridge Music Festival (VBRMF) began its 2014 weekend program with a horn performance at the Floyd Community Market, adding a festive note to the downtown Jamboree street scene Friday evening. A Family Concert, dubbed From Baroque to Billy Joel, was presented the following morning at the Floyd EcoVillage. It brought together different centuries and different styles of music in a presentation that the Festival’s Artistic Director and Conductor, David Wiley, called “connecting the dots.”
The Family Concert’s featured quartet –Wiley on piano, Julee Hickcox on flute, John Smith on bass and Al Wojtera on drums – performed classical pieces that have resurfaced in modern music. Giving background details on songs from film and popular culture, Wiley explained that modern composers borrowed and modified great tunes from earlier periods before copyright laws existed.
The quartet played Bach’s Air on a G String, which is recognizable in Procol Harem’s 1967 song A Whiter Shade of Pale. Jethro Tull’s front man and flutist, Ian Anderson, incorporated Bach harmonies to make Rock and Roll music of ‘80s, explained Wiley, who also introduced his new composition called 5-Legged Table, which he referred to as “a 20th century take on ragtime.”
The Saturday evening Gala Concert drew an overflow crowd and included an intermission reception and an outdoor Sunset Serenade at the LakePavilion with the Blacksburg Community Band. The Gala featured Concertmaster and violinist Akemi Takayama and mandolinist Jeff Midkiff, who together showcased the blending of bluegrass and classical music.
Midkiff, who was raised on Bluegrass music and is a professional clarinetist and one-time member of the Little River Band, has composed works commissioned by Wiley as the Music Director and Conductor of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra (RSO). Accompanied by the evening’s ensemble, Midkiff presented a sneak preview of a newly commissioned composition, which will premiere in November with the RSO and at the Moss Center at Virginia Tech, before it goes “on it’s way to being performed all over the world,” Wiley noted.
Midkiff also debuted an energetic piece titled Run for Your Life at Saturday’s Gala Concert. The evening’s program closed on a breathtaking high note with a memorable and passionate Tango composition by Astor Piazzolla.
“Perky, quirky, original and tongue-in-cheek” are words that Wiley used to describe The Kitchen Review, a Musical Play with Ragtime, Tango and … “everything, including the kitchen sink” that was performed at Sunday’s afternoon Art and Music in the Mountains Concert.
In the Kitchen Review, written by Bohuslav Martinu in 1927, the escapades of a simmering pot and lid come to life through string, brass, woodwind and piano instrumentation. Festival musicians performed a masterful rendition and Wiley narrated parts of the play, adding drama and local references that brought laughter from some in the crowd.
“It’s so much fun and Wiley’s introductions add a huge dimension to the music,” said attendee Christina Behrens. “I can’t believe this is available. I’m so inspired that I’m
going to volunteer to help next year,” added Behrens, whose grandfather came to the U.S. from Holland and founded and conducted the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C.
Sunday’s final concert also featured the music of Mozart and Beethoven and closed with Dvorak’s Serenade for Winds and Strings, chosen by Wiley because of its expression of joy and farewell.
Before the closing number Wiley thanked everyone involved in the weekend festival,
including the Blacksburg New School students, who created art, inspired from recordings of the music presented over the weekend, which was displayed throughout
“Stay in touch as we get ready for the big 2015 season with full orchestra and academy fellows (May 27 – June 7),” Wiley encouraged the crowd. “I’m looking forward to celebrating more possibilities of fusing classical music with music from the mountains,” he added.
Note: For more information visit virginiasblueridgemusicfestival.org or check out the festival on Facebook. Watch a video clip of what Wiley described as
“danger, passion, intrigue and romance all wrapped up in a tango, performed at the June 7th Gala event HERE and bit of Midkiff’s bluegrass fusion HERE. Read about last year’s 11 day festival HERE.
1. Does a Finch get its name because it’s a little more than an inch in size?
2. I’m a minimalist at heart. As a writer, I like to practice the conservation of language, to distill thoughts down into a potency of meaning. On the other hand, maybe I write mostly short poems because I’m lazy.
3. Over the weekend I took pictures for the local paper of the new locally-themed rooms at the expanded Hotel Floyd opening, went to the Chantilly Farm screening of the romantic comedy Geographically Desirable, which was filmed partly in Floyd, and covered Virginia’s Blue Ridge Music Festival’s weekend program (3 classical music concerts). By the third concert I said to a friend, “My camera batteries are all charged up but I can’t say the same about myself.”
4. But the music healed and energized me. Up close and personal, inspired and infused and with historic backgrounds given, it’s not your grandmother’s classical music. And I think of Maestro David Wiley as the Alvin Lee (rock star) of conducting. Listen to a clip from the Gala Concert performance of Primavera Portena by Astor Piazzolla, described by Wiley as “danger, passion, intrigue and romance all wrapped up in a tango.”
5. I was asked by one of the Floyd co-producers of Geographically Desirable if I wanted to be an extra in the movie but told her I didn’t have the stamina for all that waiting around. She said, “Yeah, movie time makes Floyd time seem fast.” Watch a video clip of the Jamboree dance scene being filmed below.
6. Any time anyone asks, “What time is it?” I answer 4:30 because of THIS favorite Van Morrison song in which Van and his friends in a cloud of mist watch all the pretty schoolgirls go by at 4:30. Wait for it …
7. Lately when I go on my blog and scroll down, I see THIS and think it’s someone’s bald head.
8. My recent Facebook Status Update that got more than 30 comments: I just saw my first coyote. The chickens were squawking in distress and I happened to be in the yard and saw it by their fence. It was full grown and looked confused and surprised to see me. First I thought it was a baby deer, then a dog, but not, so maybe a fox, but too big. Then it hit me. I put the chickens behind the 10 foot garden fence and went and googled coyote. Sure enough, that’s what it was. We’ve lived here for over 20 years and I don’t think we’ve had them until lately.
9. The word “conversation” gives me the idea that language should be poetic, considering the word verse in the word.
10. Verse comes from the Latin versus: a turn of the plow, a furrow, a line of writing.
11. A grilled cheese sandwich comes into play in Geographically Desirable. On the movie website they have a page full of cast and crew member’s best grilled cheese recipes. See HERE.
12. Joe came home yesterday and said, “I just saw a baby blue heron,” and I’m thinking robin’s egg blue and going OMG, I didn’t known those existed, when he says, “No, not a “baby blue heron” but a “baby” blue heron.
13. “Talk is different than writing. Good talk in some ways is better and more precious than any writing. That it goes off “into thin air,” leaving a few memories that eventually are reduced to thin air also, in no way detracts from its value. I have been lucky to have a few friends with whom my conversation seems never to resume but merely to continue.” ~ Wendell Berry
Driving home from Christiansburg yesterday I watched cloud continents collide. Light and dark confronted each other, storm threatened shapes like Italy and England dissolved into thin air and even the moon got chased.
Aka: So Many Boyfriends
I’m not good at estimating numbers, but Joe thought there were about 300 people at the Chantilly Farm outdoor screening of Geographically Desirable, a romantic comedy that was filmed in D.C. and Floyd. It must have been a sizeable group because when the writer/filmmaker, Mike Kravinsky, stood in front of the big blow-up screen and thanked the people of Floyd for their participation, he said, “This is the biggest crowd I’ve ever spoken to.”
The scene was like something out of the Drive-inn movie days but with lawn chairs and coolers and kids doing cartwheels on the grass while we all waited for it to get dark. Most everyone was from Floyd and it was quite the social scene.
The movie is basically about an overworked TV Newswoman from D.C. who inherits a house (and a dog) in Floyd from her recently deceased uncle. She, Nicole, falls for a guy who owns a café (played by Floyd’s own Oddfella’s Cantina) and is prompted to reassess her stressful night shift job and city life in general. I was told by someone during the fall filming (Mike’s wife I think) that Mike also worked in the TV News and that this movie, and especially his first movie (The Nextnik in 2010), paralleled his own leaving of the business/identity crisis, which eventually led him in the new direction of film making.
The movie includes some fun dream sequences, an emotional flashback between Nicole and her uncle, a Friday night Jamboree scene (filmed on a Wednesday) and even a pot smoking scene. The filmmakers were looking for a hip, artist-type small town when they found Floyd, and the film wasn’t meant to depict the actual Floyd as much as it was to find the flavor and comedy in it, which wasn’t too hard to do.
There was a big cheer when Nicole first drove into Floyd and the “Welcome to Floyd” sign appeared on screen.” Other familiar faces and places also got audience reaction. It was fun to see the finished scenes that I saw being shot in the fall. I’m amazed at how fast it got done and how well it all came together.
In another twist of humor, I was told that the people surrounding the film’s leading lady (Nicole, played by Blair Bowers) in the first photo above were (from left to right) the new movie boyfriend, the real life boyfriend, and the old movie boyfriend that she dumped. That’s a lot of boyfriends! (Nicole’s mother in the film is also pictured).
Post notes: Ours was a complimentary debut screening. The movie, which I and others will eventually want to own as a DVD, will now head off to the film festival circuit. Watch the trailer with bits of Floyd in it HERE. Check out the movie website HERE and visit Geographically Desirable on Facebook for updates. HERE is a past blog post on the filming and HERE is a story I wrote for The Floyd Press about it.