Red Lion Inn

It will be two weeks now since we arrived at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge for a first time stay there. Our last trip out to the Berkshires, we’d stayed at its sister motel up the road in Great Barrington, The Briarcliff. I’d always figured the Red Lion would be way out of our price range, but after that visit to the Briarcliff we were intrigued by the Red Lion, and lo and behold, it’s more affordable than one might think, especially in a world of corporate Marriotts, Hiltons, and the like. It’s an old inn, born and reborn over the course of a couple of hundred years, the site of a tavern on an old stagecoach stop between Albany and Boston. The outside can be a bit deceiving, and gave Marty pause as he did not know what to expect on the inside. However, I did, as I’d popped into the lobby on our prior visit. It does not disappoint — with its quiet, friendly demeanor, and a genteel elegance, when you step over the threshold, especially during a holiday season, you will be transported to the once upon a time world of your childhood imagination — a romantic world of art, beauty, history, cordiality, charm and grown-ups.
Wonder, awe, excitement — I felt it all as we proceeded to our room on the pet-friendly first floor. Bear in mind, old buildings have quirks, as any interesting personality is bound to, and rooms are not at all cookie-cutter repeats. I’m not even sure it would be possible to duplicate our tiny room, with its odd angles, extra corners, doors backing into each other, and so on. But sweet, sparkling, and welcoming it was, with a cozy fire already lit in the grate. It was the perfect size for us when we had a 20 pound dog, but a bit of a tight squeeze with our slightly-under 50-pound Oonagh.
Fortunately, the innkeepers encourage guests to wander and explore the floors and halls, lingering in endless gathering spaces filled with comfortable seating, art, antiques, books, games, pianos, ghosts, and more. With  plenty of space beyond the walls of our room, there was no need to feel confined, nor did we have any desire to stay put. We’d landed in the world of Nutcracker Suite, and to not give it the attention it deserved would have been most rude.
While we’d been disappointed that the Lion’s Den, the dim, cavern-like speakeasy-style bar with oodles of taps, was closed for renovation, the tiny Tavern bar, around the corner and down the hall, within perfect stumbling distance from our room, did not disappoint. Half-dozen seats, limited, but exceptional libations, Ryan, bartender extraordinaire, prodigal son of the Berkshires, king of The Manhattans that are beyond the Big Apple delicious, it was all just perfect as it was. And that was just day one. Day two was just as glorious, with strolls around the small town of Norman Rockwell fame, before another evening settling in at the Inn. By the time checkout came, the following day, we were prepared to book a longer stay in January, this time in a suite. However, there are no pet-friendly suites, but the gracious and kind desk clerk Amanda showed us one of her favorite rooms, which we promptly booked and plan to adopt as “ours.”
Sigh, if I could live in a room at an inn as “Eloise” does, it would be the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. I wouldn’t even mind if my room was haunted. I’d be sure to let the spirit know I’m a friendly mortal.

Brandy

While I am not one for branding, especially when it comes to ourselves, I do find certain brands of useful items do become favorites. Same as I feel about rituals and recipes. Take cookie baking and holiday card making. We keep our Christmas pretty simple, but even so, it’s easy to start feeling flustered and overwhelmed as the day quickly approaches. Self-doubts of “am I doing enough,” or “bummer, I missed this year’s event, now I have to wait until next year…” But at least I have cookies and cards — I can always count on myself getting to them. Still, even those pursuits can become overwhelming when they turn into minor disasters as they did for me the other day. Disasters I actually ended up laughing at as I quickly put a fresh spin on the situations, otherwise known as my own version of “rebranding.” Take the cookies. A standard recipe I’ve made for decades, many know these simple cookies as Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cakes, Polvorones, they go by many names, and now they have a couple of new ones. I’d frozen the dough earlier in the month, thawed it, and popped the first little buttery, sugary balls of dough in the oven. Delighted with my feeling of ease as I had plenty of time still before the big day. So, I was quite flabbergasted when I pulled the first tray of these melt-in-your-mouth morsels out of the oven, my eyes bulging at the sight of them collapsed and puddling together in a way they are not SUPPOSED to do. However, the calm, cool, collected, EXPERIENCED home cook has learned — she always has two options after the taste test — toss, or — REBRAND.  My tea cakes became “lacy wafers,” and as I dumped the rest of the dough in a square pan, that batch became shortbread. I have done this countless times for dinner with my dad and Marty, and neither one has ever caught on. As far as the Christmas cards went, I rushed to get them to the mailman, using a sponge to seal all the envelopes. Unfortunately, the liquid ink I addressed them with smeared in the process, but no matter. I’ll just tell people it was snowing hard when I went to mail them. My final task of the day was to make calendula salve, and all went well. No salvage to do, thank goodness. Cuz, man? Rebranding, you know? I can only take so much of it.

Grab Bags

Interested in a bit more risqué in your dress-up play? I’m starting to sort through more boxes of inventory from our shop days — products I think some of you may have fun playing with, perhaps tapping into your naughty wench persona. This is the first lot I’m working through and rather than doing a posted giveaway as I’ve done in the past, I’d rather put together goodie bag assortments of 6-10 pieces for anyone who is interested. We did learn from the last round that postage has increased considerably so if you’re okay paying for some of the postage, then please let me know your interest, along with your address and size. I will then package your goods, and give you an estimate on postage.
Items in this lot feature a lot of Leg Avenue type clubwear/streetwear — lacy, racy thigh highs, garter stockings, and pantyhose (in fishnets, patterns, stripes, and various colors), some black garter boy shorts, pink lace thong/garter belt combo, black lace thong/garter belt combo, assorted leggings from Capri with side buttons to wet look full length lacing up the back of the leg — and let’s not forget a couple of masquerade masks, and several pairs of opera and wrist gloves — in lace, satin, etc (black, white and a light blue pair). Sizing is mostly O/S (one-size) and/or S/M and M/L.
Looking forward to getting this done so I can move on to another lot because I think it’s kinda fun.

Postcards VII

Postcard Series VII releases on Sunday. Upon reflection, I found the last series a bit so-so with too many swimsuit images, so this one will be more in keeping with what I have in mind for the collection. If you’re interested and not vetted yet, it’s a good time to do so. The releases are always limited to 10 patrons and/or 10 days. Also, while I welcome feedback, please keep in mind that approval can be revoked at any time if I cease to feel comfortable with you. Thanks for understanding and thank you for supporting this avocation. As always, a bonus is included for regular patrons with your fourth purchase and subsequent purchases afterwards.

Coulda Woulda Shouldas

The longer I get in the tooth, the more I realize I don’t want to be a “coulda woulda shoulda.” I’ve always believed in “better late than never” though, so trying to to figure out what that looks like for me. Much as it sounds admirable to live and have lived a life with no regrets, I am not sure how many of those folks really exist, I do know that I am not among them. There’s many things I don’t regret, and a few that — eh, if I’m being honest, I do — but as long as I still have breath I want to consider one of my “coulda would shouldas” that can become my “better late than never.” How about you, can one of your “coulda woulda shouldas” become your “better late than never”?

A Boost

Yesterday we got our COVID19 booster shots, and once again I was reminded of how priorities and values have shifted with the pandemic — in this instance, the excitement about getting a shot! The pharmacy was doing a brisk business, and while there were plenty of customers shopping for other reasons, it was heartening to see so many people getting vaccines. You could tell it had already been a very long day for the Nurse Practitioner, with little down time between appointments and walk-ins. As soon as we heard the CDC had expanded the eligibility to include those with mental health diagnoses, including mood disorders and depression, we were on it. So, all set for another 6 months or so. I am wondering if this will be our lives from now on though, as new pandemics and superbugs develop and persist around our planet. It’s a small world, after all.

New Moonth on a Moonday

Nothing like starting fresh with a new month in a new week and on a Monday no less. Today’s All Saint’s Day, tomorrow’s All Souls Day and once again I am reminded of how Christianity co-opted so many wonderful pagan holidays, so it can take some digging to learn more about the roots of these celebrations. It’s lovely to celebrate them regardless, yet I do appreciate being mindful of the different origins of holiday celebrations around the world. A couple of guides whose work I have found insightful on this topic are @jenncampus_author and @teachingwithcorazon Happy November! May it be all you hope it to be.

Series VI

I have another Postcard series due to release this week, a couple swimsuit photos (this swimsuit shown here) and one “naked as a J-bird.” One thing leads to another and I wondered where that expression came from. I mean “naked as a jay bird?” Are they really naked? So, as I am wont to do, I googled it, whereas once upon a time I would have gone to the reference section at the library. J-bird is short for jailbird, a term from the 1920’s and 30’s in America. When the imprisoned people were brought in from the bus, and given their kit, they were made to walk naked from one end of the prison to another, and this became known as “naked as a j-bird — or jaybird.” It wasn’t unique to America though actually, because the British especially loved to humiliate Irish prisoners in a similar fashion. It’s interesting the meaning we’ll find behind seemingly harmless and “innocent” expressions when we dig deep enough. All this just to announce my next postcard series, but what can I say? Learn something new every day and when I do, I like to share it.

October Birthdays

October is a month loaded with birthdays in our family — fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, boyfriends, aunts, uncles — today is my dad’s 85th, so despite the pouring rain, we went off to breakfast first thing this morning, and one thing I learned the hard way is never reveal that it’s my dad’s birthday when you are out to eat. That was a lesson learned a few years ago, and I will NEVER make that mistake again. For some reason, regardless of how old we are, why do we still feel like kids with our parents? Can we ever be anything else?

Thunderstorms and Cozy Mysteries

Tuesday afternoon was cozy thunderstorms and a good mystery recommended by my boss. It’s one of the bonuses of my job — working with fellow history and art geeks I can swap book and DVD recommendations with. Science and Math have their place, but the fact that they’ve essentially usurped the Humanities (at least here in the States) is indeed a sad loss. Poetry can be had via Math and Science but for me, that means a recipe (formula/equation), measuring ingredients (Math) and their combined chemistry (Science) baked into a delicious treat — to accompany that book I’m reading, naturally.