25 August 2006

How well do you know me?

UPDATE: Feb. 28, 2008 – The links I had in this post go no place anymore, so I deleted them. But going back and rereading some of my old posts reminded me that I had one sitting in draft form that I hadn't posted it, nearly a year and a half ago. It's "Saravilla," below.

ORIGINAL POST: I'm still sitting on a post I wrote nearly three weeks ago about a GREAT bed and breakfast where Kathleen and I stayed for a few days. I want to include some photos, though, and I'll have to find time to do that.

Meanwhile, my oldest daughter posted a quiz about how well the person taking it knows her, and I only scored a miserable 8 out of 10! So I made my own quiz and now am challenging HER to see how well she knows ME. (And anyone else who wants to take a shot at it is welcome as well.)

07 August 2006


Last week, Kathleen and I took our first vacation without the kids in 15½ years. Most of the credit goes to her, really, because when she realized that all three of the girls would be away at camps for a week in August, she immediately set about arranging something for us to do.

Since two if them were up at Mystic Lake for band camp, and the other was at Deer Trails for Girl Scout camp, it seemed like a good idea to go somewhere in that same neck of the woods, but far enough away that we wouldn't feel like "helicopter parents," hovering over our kids, ready to land at the slightest provocation.

Anyway, she came up with a bed & breakfast in Alma (an appropriate name for a place we went to sort of reinvigorate our spirits, after a particularly busy few months), a place by the name of Saravilla, owned and operated by Jon and Linda Darrow. (Initially, Kathleen was bothered because they pronounced the name the way it looks, rather than as "sara-veeya" as it would be in Spanish. But there's a reason for that, that i'll get to below.)

From the pictures on the Saravilla website, it looked to me like a Victorian Queen Anne house, but Jon and Linda said it was actually Dutch Colonial (which is actually German, as in "Deutsch") because of some of the additions and architectural changes over the years. It doesn't really matter what name you call it by, it was a wonderful, beautifully kept-up house.

A lot of places of that vintage seem to have a kind of museum quality to them—you're not really comfortable settling in or sitting on the furniture. That's not at all the case with Saravilla, partly because of the way it's decorated to feel like a home, not so much a showpiece (although it IS a showpiece); but more because Jon and Linda make you feel as though you're visiting friends and that you're guests in their home, not just customers. And to me, that makes all the difference in the world.

We stayed in the Ammi Wright Suite, which is just as richly appointed and sun-drenched as the photos below from the website makes it appear. (And yes, that's a whirlpool big enough for two in the bathroom—maybe not authentic in terms of the age of the place, but a darn nice place to unwind after a day of traipsing through antique stores and book shops!)

Normally, I'm the guy who dives into the history of a place, but this time it was Kathleen. I was too preoccupied doing nothing, or when that got to be too much, reading a book or working on my story.

So it was Kathleen that grabbed a pile of stuff from the library that sketched out the history of the place: some background on Ammi Wright (a colorful 19th century lumber baron), why the house is called "Saravilla" (because Ammi Wright built the place as a "summer cottage" and wedding present for his daughter, Sara), tales of its many and varied uses and incarnations over the years, and lots and lots of photos documenting most of them.

Anyway, i've had this post sitting here, unsent since August 7, 2006, so I suppose it's time to post it.