Thursday, October 29, 2009

Poodle In Asheville-Goodbye Friend


My husband and I moved to Asheville, N.C. some 10 years ago. We actually did what many of our friends waxed poetic about as all of us began to age and become more introspective about our lives and all discussion seemed to revolve around "roads not taken." We chucked it all, our jobs, the home of our entire adult lives and our friends. Well, of course we didn't chuck our friends but they certainly would no longer be gathering around the hearth so to speak. It's hard to gather from hundreds of miles away.

A dog is a best friend you bring with you. She loved the move. Always inspired, reclaiming her child doggie self in the "out of doors." We hiked at Dupont Forest, we hung out in the North Carolina Arboretum, we explored the Blue Ridge Parkway and marveled at all this natural beauty free for the viewing. Off lead was of course her favorite time. Freedom was Molly. Running free, scampering after squirrels, attacking leaves in the fall as though they were a menacing presence and in the summer time she became "butterfly magnet" in chasing maneuvers that truly defied all gravitational pull. She was seamless in her rendition of a bird as she flew through the air in butterfly pursuit with the greatest of ease and unbelievably enough never seemed to either injury herself or actually catch her prey. This did not restrict the joy of the effort. The winter, now that was worth seeing. Dog was in her element. She loved the snow. Falling snow provided interest for the chasing mechanism it availed her of. Ground snow proved even more alluring as it provided the burrowing opportunity so loved by poodles. Most folks think of Poodles as fluffy cute dogs more of a decorator variety but they actually possess hunting abilities. Why, something might actually be found in that snow bank. Ask Molly, she explored them all.
This winter was going to be different. In these last few years age took its toll on our friend. She became an elderly canine. My husband developed a means by which to re-design regular disposable diapers to accommodate our canine friend. Doggie diapers currently on the market are not really horribly effective when bladder and bowel issues become prevalent. However, with the aid of scissors, proper measurement of tail placement on said doggie, regular baby diapers can be wonderful and we employed them daily. Ambulation became an issue, so did stairs. Hearing was difficult and vision declined. The once intuitive, divining, insightful, " boring into your soul look" our Molly was known for became a vague, confused and faraway look. Does any of this sound familiar? If any of you have ever watched a beloved relative or parent in advanced age it does. All is not lost however. Touch, the universal translator, transcending the need to see, hear or understand became the communicator. Receiving that made her know she was still loved. She was touched, she was carried to the bathroom, she was held up over her water bowl when she could no longer stand so she could take a drink.

There was no apparent pain and on that last morning she wakened me very early by barking. Barking was a noise we never heard at that time. She simply didn't do it anymore. Arriving in the living room I noted that she was still in place on her bed. She was still all covered up and warm but her feet, all four of them were running in place. They were going faster and faster and the barking continued. Not loud, just insistent. She seemed to be smiling. I am choosing to believe that at the end she was feeling fine, her keen mind returning, her doggie legs once failed came under her power again, nothing hurt, her hearing and acute sight returned as in her puppyhood and she was again flying through the air, perhaps finally capturing that elusive butterfly. Now, theologians will tell you that dogs don't have souls and hence they cannot dedicate their souls to God. I don't subscribe to that theory. I do believe dog's go to heaven. We could seek to emulate their kindness, their joy, their acceptance, capacity for forgiveness and their unparalleled ability to love and most of us would fall far short. One could argue about what constitutes a soul but that surely is more than a start. We will see you again Molly.

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chocolate Candy Recipe-Christmas Gift Extraordinaire

People are so different. Likes and dislikes vary widely.  Everyone has an opinion.  If there is such a thing as universal acceptance it would likely be for the rich, delicious, smooth and so very soul satisfying substance of chocolate.
So, compliments of At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast,  allow me to share a confection of substantial delight that I believe will become the stuff of legends at your house as it is at ours.
It is a thankfully received gift, can be wrapped and presented "when in a bind" and will never be returned due to being the wrong size, wrong color or wrong style.  It is very nearly perfect!
It also "comes from the heart" and is affordable.

 Wonderous Cherry-Pecan Clusters:

1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped pecans (slightly with fine salt)
1 1/2 cups of chopped cherries
12 oz. of semi sweet chocolate either grated or finely chopped
1 tsp. real vanilla extract

Prepare a baking sheet covered in wax paper

In a medium bowl combine pecans and cherries.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  Do not use microwave.  Not enough control of chocolate cooling.
Allow the chocolate to cool slightly so that it can begin to thicken up slightly(10-15 mins.) Stir frequently.
Stir in the cherry-pecan mixture.  Mix well.
Using small scooper to keep size regulated scoop out slightly rounded teapoonfuls of the mixture and drop on to was papered baking sheet. 
Refrigerate uncovered, about 2-2 1/2 hours (or until chocolate has set)
Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.  Serve in pretty paper cups.

Bon Appetit! 

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Poodle In Asheville-Part Three

Well, guess you might be thinking that this part of the story begins with the Ad for appropriate placment of the "Fluffball" and that would be wrong.

All of us know that having "friends in high places" can sometimes be of benefit.  Well, suffice to say that the slide in landing at the feet of my husband was a good move for her highness.  I actually mentioned running "the dog placment ad" about one week after her arrival with fear in my voice as my heart already belonged to Molly (that was her name now).  My husband looked across the table as if I had suggested selling our child.  Not wishing to appear as though he was fully commited to this course deviation he muttered something about thinking we'd better wait until she was a little older so we could offer her the best start with her new placement.

Molly was "in like Flynn" to say the least.  She walked with us on our nightly forays in the darkness of our neighborhood in the pursuit of fitness, she hung out in the kitchen with me while I stumbled in for my first caffeine bolus in the morning, she rested in literary bliss at my side while I read my current book selection and she became a stalwart gardener.  She fought those weeds with at least as much dedication as I did.  No matter how hot it was, not matter how hard it rained she was more dedicated than your most dedicated friend no matter what the course of the days action turned out to be.

We lived in Key Largo for part of Molly's adolescent years.  Now, one of the many wonders of Key Largo is Penney Camp.  We decided one lovely Saturday morning that we would snorkle the statue of Christ. Florida Keys Reef Tract is the only living coral barrier reef in North America, and is the 3rd largest coral barrier reef in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia) and is awesomely beautiful.
As mentioned earlier, whatever the tour of the day was to be whether work or pleasure, Molly, our trusty canine was up for it.  This proved no exception!  When the boat trailer came out, she sprang to life.  Well, arriving at Penney Camp one must anchor up to buoys so as not to disturb the reef.  Unfortunately, choosing to sleep an extra hour that morning basically mandated that we were in for a bit of a swim to the statue. Not to worry. We locate Molly's water bowl, fill it, open the cabin door so she can be lulled by the gentle rocking of the boat to doggie dreams and we begin our own preparations.  Donning the fins, mask found, snorkle check and boom, we're off the side of the boat and heading toward the statue.  We are amid the beautiful, crytal blue,comfortably warm water of my beloved Atlantic and kicking our way toward the statue.  We are about 50 feet from the boat when I hear the klomp of something in the water. I don't even have to look to know what it is. I might have mentioned; this dog is up for anything!  Even jaws will not deter her from her favorite humans.
Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Monday, October 19, 2009

Poodle In Asheville- Part Two

When last heard from on this topic I was driving the puppy I had no intention of keeping to my home.  Dodging in and out of traffic I spoke to her calmly, firmly and in a forthright manner detailing the valid reasons that keeping her was completely out of the question.
Her eyes locked on me as though in some way trying to intuit if I was serious regarding her future.
I explained that currently I was working 3 jobs.  My hours totalled were rediculously long and there was no way possible I could undertake the training of a new puppy.  Aside from that issue I really had no desire to be responsible for another being at this point.  She listened attentively flexing her tiny ears and tilting her adorable head to their maximum cuteness angle. We exit the vehicle and freed from the constraint of her box, she runs willy nilly toward my front door totally bypassing the grassy area. 

We arrive at her temporary residence and she is in my clean, tidy and reasonably hygienic home for five seconds before the "offensive deed" has come to pass.  There is tinkle on my floor.  I scold all pitiful ounces of her telling her that this behavior cannot be tolerated and she has clearly demonstrated the very behavior sited as the primary reason I cannot keep her.  She looks unconvinced but chastened.
In my head, I begin composition of just the right ad that in a few weeks will rid me of this unwanted, if adorable, additional responsibility in my life.

Hearing a car pull up in the driveway I shudder reviewing my practiced explaination of how I came to be in possession of this ball of fur even for the short time that will soon be voiced to my husband.  Generally, as a couple,  these kind of long term decisions are discussed between us and clearly this is a vast departure from that protocol.
I await what I know is going to be "the face of displeasure" as the back door closes.  Immediately as if in insight of the fact that after her infraction on my floor she is in need of an ally....
Fluffball, gathering up all of her might, makes haste to land at the feet of my husband.  He peers down into her adoring face....Now, what full blooded man can resist that kind of female adoration; even from the canine sect? "Well", he says bending down to scoop her up, "what have we got here?"  To be clear, this being stated between the licks dedicated to his entire face.  The lecture I am waiting for never comes.  He is smitten.  Well, of course he is!  I will be the feeder, waterer, bather and taker-outer.  He will be...he who is licked on and worshipped.  Well, I'll think about that tomorrow and I'll get that ad composed tomorrow too.  She who hesitates is lost.

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


On Saturday October 10, 2009 my long time friend and fellow nurse, Leah Jett, left this earth.
Leah and I met in Nursing School and our friendship was forged first as colleagues in study groups, long nights hitting the books, classes we collaborated on to pass, e.g. Statistics & Probabilities. No one would have given odds on either of us passing with even the C that was required but we pressed on and together surmounted the obstacle of higher mathematics with very respectable B's.

Leah reveled in being a nurse and her patients were not only blessed by her efforts to excel academically but in equal measure by the dedication she showed them and the care she gave them.  She had a nurse's heart and she was not stingy with it but rather as any need presented itself, she blanketed the need in any way she could.  Lost a job....Well, she might know someone who needs some help....  Scared of labor....Well, how about you sign up for a childbirth class?
She had known her own heartbreak in life, had dreams that didn't quite come to pass.  It opened her vision and seeded her heart with a true desire to help where she could. 

Laughter was Leah.  She did not have one of those "feminine, quiet, restrained behind her hand acceptable female laughs."  She had a "I really mean it laugh.  I think this is funny as all get out laugh and I am owning my joy."  She shared it often, with irreverence and noise.  She dared all of us to be less serious.  In complete appreciation of the irony of life, she offered us the chance to know in very real terms how crazy it was to take it all too seriously.  After her Lupus diagnosis, she not only continued planning her life; she pushed on- full bore ahead.  She reminded us that none of us were "getting out of this alive anyway"  always with a very mischievous look on her face looking anything but the victim.

Her life on this earth ended last Saturday but I can hear her still. I can see her smile. I seek to emulate her bravery and spunk and to tell her that her life mattered so much to all who knew her and what a precious thing that is.  She made a difference for her family, her patients & her friends and this world will be a sadder place without her in it. We press on in her absence in tribute to her because Leah was no quitter.

Patti and Gary Wiles

Poodle in Asheville Part One

It all began so innocently.  My daughter, my one an only,  having reached the age of emancipation decided that she was old enough to leave her childhood nest.  Thus began my "empty nest" sadness.
Though I had the job of my dreams in caring for my patients I was, quite simply: sad.

 Kind patient to the rescue.  "You know", says she, "my Mother just had poodles in Tampa and I am going to drive there and bring you a new baby." This stated while rubbing her own very pregnant belly.   Clearly, by the concerned expression on her face not even realizing the picture she has painted in my mind's eye of her poor Mother birthing a litter of poodles.  I smile, completing her exam and thanking her but assuring her that a new baby is not needed. This puppy will not have a winning smile, just perfect smile to melt her Mom's heart and a sense of humor that syncs perfectly with my own. Thanks, but no.

A few weeks go by and as I am flying about my office getting lab results, checking fetal heart tones, sheduling ultrasounds etc. I see the front office door open and note someone carrying what appears to be an apricot fluffy object.
I cringe and then break into a run.  I find my co-worker (also best friend) and immediately relate what I observed.  I beg for her effective intervention in the form of going to the front office and explaining all the very valid reasons that there is no way, no possible way, I can take on the responsibility of a new puppy.  I suggest a myriad of reasons for her to provide to this thoughtful, if wayward, patient why the puppy cannot be placed with me.  Leaving this unsavory task in the hands of my beloved and very capable friend I once again merge into the care of my patients in total confidence that all will be well.

An obstetrical practice is one in which there are equal parts nursing skill and friend/counselor.
Many hours pass and finally as I sit to catch up on my charting and finish out the day I notice by the quiet that the last of the patients are gone.  I also become aware that Kim, my best friend and co-worker are no where to be seen either.  I abandon the charting and begin the search.  I knock on the bathroom door.  Nothing!  I look outside our break room. Nothing!  I venture into the waiting room and there they are.  Yes, I said THEY.

Kim, oh capable one, is holding up for my perusal the small, fluffy item I got the scant view of before. She plaintively tells me, "I tried, I swear I tried,  but look at her" she says as she thrusts the apricot fluff ball forward again. We meet, this puppy and I eye to eye. We begin to search each others face and then I smile. I reach forward, gently picking up her tiny, warm frame from my friends outstretched hands and say, "Ok, now you know very well that I cannot possibly keep you permanently.  I am so very busy and stretched as it is."  She is looking very solemnly at me as though she is grappling with what I am saying. I begin again, "You are very small now and I will see to you for a few weeks until you are bigger and have your shots and I promise I will find you a lovely home."  I look down on the office floor still home to my friend, oh capable one.  "Ok, just for a bit and we'll poll the patients to find her a nice home", I said.  My friend, wisely silent, knows she already has one. We begin scouring the office for a box for her ride home. 

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Friday, October 9, 2009

Feeling Friday October 9, 2009 in Asheville,N.C.

Friday is a special day of the week! Everyone knows that.  Whether you are working on the weekend or you are off & I've been in both kinds of jobs,  the feeling is there anyway.  A buzz, an excitment, an anticipation, the possibility of something new, challenging or world changing seems more likely than on any other day of the week.
Why, we might meet someone that becomes a "life changer" for us.  The potential for something out of our ordinary existence becomes more visible and less unlikely.  It is suspenseful, hopeful and maybe even out of our comfort range. 
So, this Friday, whether before you go to work or after you are finished...Plan something extrarodinary. Now that word has different connotations for all of us. For some,  it the mystery of nighttime in a club, maybe some dancing , either way,  fraught with possibility.  For others, it could be a hike surrounded by the awesome color beginning in these majestic mountains we call home and finding a moment of solace as we walk through the woods.  A time of quiet where the stillness overtakes us as the maddening rush of our lives quiets down allowing us to find our own voice again.
Whatever scope your Friday takes, relish it, own it and make it your very own day. The time is spent- so really make it count. 

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Halloween In Asheville NC

Halloween is fraught with memories. Costumes carefully chosen, the drama of seeing the same old streets you walked to school on this morning take on a more sinister appearance than you ever noticed before. All that is very typical with variations on the theme in response to the latest Hollywood fear monger release to hit the silver screen.

This year in Asheville, a new slant on an old idea has been hatched.  Our Eliada charity has come up with a "totally out of the box" and very creative way to fundraise in extremely difficult economic times and give us all some fun in the process.

 Just about 5 minutes from downtown Asheville they have opened the first-ever corn maze.  Starting on September 25, 2009 it operates in traditional manner for children of all ages encompassing three levels of difficulty........

The last two weekends in October "something wicked this way comes".  In cooperation with the drama department at UNCA,  Castle in the Corn amps up the action. Our locals, having been exposed to the talents of these students through their various productions throughout the year, know this will be the "place to be" this Halloween.  Not for the faint of heart I assure you.  Help the children Eliada supports, have a very memorable Halloween and "be afraid, be very afraid." 

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Monday, October 5, 2009

Asheville NC Around the World Eats Part 1

My beloved Asheville is rapidly becoming a culinary destination. You can practically go "round the world" in the foodie genre just with a trip to our vibrant downtown.

I will begin with one of my favorite haunts; Jerusalem Garden Cafe. This restaurant is economical, fabulous and has very fun entertainment to boot. I will begin my discussion with the food since typically this is why one enters a restaurant. Along with their excellent hummus, which quite honestly is some of the very best I've ever eaten, you couldn't go wrong with Lamb Shawarma, Jordanian Chicken and the Falafel is superb
Now, on to the entertainment....They promise that if you eat their food you will look just like their Belly Dancers which appear nightly on Thursday, Friday or Saturday night. Ok, maybe not...... but this in no way alters the phenomenal nature of the food.

Moving onto the far east and Heiwa Japanese Restaurant. Now, if you are looking for one of those "showmanship places with knives flying about" you need to continue looking. If, on the other hand you are looking for excellence, consistency and flavor abounding...Look no further. From the Spicy Garlic Tuna to some of the freshest Sushi you have ever encountered and a fine glass of ale to wash it all down; you won't be disappointed.  No bells, whistles and flying food but a quiet, minimalist environment with quality that is apparent from the first bite to the last.
Mela Indian Restaurant is another foray into the world stage food Asheville affords its visitors. A vegetarian paradise, varied, fresh and well seasoned.
However, by all accounts, the Chicken Vindaloo is enough to encourage even vegetarians to take a bite.
Probably best appreciated though by the locals and all folks giving Indian food their first try is the Lunch buffet offering a myriad of choices, all excellent and a mere $9.00.   Be adventuresome. With this buffet anyone can find something they love.

Stay tuned for the next installment on Asheville Eateries.  Come hungry......

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Asheville, NC Fall Leaves

Re-Incarnation is a subject that has always interested me.  I don't know that it is really my belief system and likely it's not but the thought that one might re-visit the earth again as something entirely different has always been an intriguing idea to me.  What I wanted to return as has morphed frequently as I have moved from one age to another in my journey on this earthly plane. I finally settled on a tree. 
What a lovely view I would have, I could stand proud offering shelter from the elements to all, I could promote the environment with appropriate oxygenation and more importantly, I could be tall, verdant and grand.  Now that I have shared my daydreams with you, it should come as no surprise that I found my way to Western North Carolina.  The fall color here is varied, dramatic, driven to change by dappled light and is nothing short of celestial.  Exploding color begins as a soft whisper and merges into a scream as the season progresses (failing some forceful gale blowing rain which sometimes results in early leaf drop).  From the guaranteed bright orange/red leaves of the Red Maple (Acer rubrum) to the exceptional yellow/orange of the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), the sight of them just makes you know it's good to be alive and you are fortunate to have seen them. 
Now, everyone knows about the dynamic hues our maples are known for.  Lessor known champions of color  would include:  Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), White Ash (Fraximus americana),Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) & the lovely Tulip Poplar (Nyssa Sylvatica). 
In short, the New England states have nothing on Asheville, NC. Check us out!  You won't be sorry.
Hope to see you as we survey the wonders of Asheville, nc Falls leaves.  I'll be the one talking to the trees.
It pays to have friends in high places.

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast