Who is a celebrity?

Occasionally, guests will ask, “Have you had any celebrities stay here?”

Our answer: “All our guests are celebrities as far as we’re concerned.” And we mean it. (By the way, most celebrities who don’t already have a house out here have friends who do. Or their handlers want to book them last minute on busy summer weekends and expect us to kick someone else out of our largest room in order to do it. Not happening in my lifetime.)

We have had national newscasters, polo players, a well-known college basketball coach, and once, a German prince stay with us, but truly, the primary reason most of us innkeepers choose to open a bed and breakfast is because we enjoy meeting people from all over the world and all walks of life. Chris and I don’t generally ask people what they do for a living (in case they prefer not to say), but often the subject comes up of its own accord in the morning over breakfast, and often, lively conversation ensues. Once in a while, someone stays at A Butler’s Manor who makes his or her living in a way that is as uncommon as Chris’s having been a butler for twenty years. Needless to say, this makes for especially interesting breakfast table conversation.

Such was the case the other day with Kent stayed with us. Kent is a professional jockey, the winner of three Kentucky Derbys, two Preakness and one Belmont Stakes. As someone who toured Churchill Downs a few years ago and would love to see the Derby in person someday (of course, wearing a huge hat!), I was intrigued, and so were our other guests. When Kent checked out, he gave us a Player’s Card, like a baseball card. Fun!

Once we had a guy who was an Olympic medalist in swimming. He was a quiet sort of guy and probably wouldn’t have volunteered the information, but someone recognized his Olympic ring (a gold ring with the signature five-ring design) and asked about it. Soon everyone at the table was involved in the conversation, and we all learned a lot about the Olympics as seen from the inside.

Isn’t this a great way to make a living?

Quote of the Day: We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own path, and we will never be happy if we live someone else’s idea of life. –James Van Praagh  

A cute problem

Visitors from large cities, especially those from New York City, often refer to the Hamptons as “the country” (though how any place that includes local outposts of Ralph Lauren and Saks Fifth Avenue can be considered “country,” I’m not sure) and many of them are enchanted to encounter our wildlife, whether it be the sight and song of the birds in the morning, or a glimpse of deer grazing (we hope!)alongside of the road. But late last night we discovered some unexpected guests…a mama Mallard duck and eleven (!!) little ducklings making themselves at home in our pool.

We can’t figure out where this little brood came from. The babies seemed too small to be able to fly yet. And there was no Papa Mallard to be seen.  Our nearest natural pond is Lake Agawam on the west edge of the village…a distance of just about a mile. There are wetlands and ponds in Water Mill that may possibly be closer, but cute as it is to see a mama duck trailing a platoon of offspring, I can’t envision them crossing Montauk Highway safely. (Hey, it’s difficult enough in summer to make a left hand turn.)

So last night, worried about how the little ducklings would get out of the pool (the coping was surely too deep for them to jump out), we hung about with a flashlight to see if they’d find the steps in the shallow end. Chris turned off the automatic timer on the pool so that the motor didn’t come on and suck the little babies into the skimmer. Even so, I went to bed hoping we weren’t going to find drowned ducklings in the morning (which marks me as every bit as unused to wildlife as our city guests!).

On the contrary: By breakfast time this morning, the whole lot had quite settled in and decided this was a nice new home, and had even discovered that the silent skimmers made great hiedey-holes. Uh, sorry. Cute as they may be, I somehow don’t see our guests interested in sharing a swim with new feathered friends.

A call to our local Wildlife Center elicited advice, but no offer to help relocate our traveling family. It looked like we were going to have to somehow round up Mama and put her in a box, then round up all the duckling and put them in a box, and transport them all to one of the nearby ponds. (The man-made pond in front of our bed & breakfast colleague Donna Andreassi’s “Pondview,” came to mind.) In the meantime, we chased them all into the center of the pool, put those bright foam floating “noodles” in front of the skimmer entrances, and turned on the pool, hoping that if the water were less “pond-like” and still, perhaps Mama would be encouraged to take her children elsewhere.

It seems to have worked. With a huffy, “well, if that’s the way you’re going to be about it” twitch to her rear end, Mama lined all her little ducks up in height order and led them through the side gate, out into the field beyond. Whew!

At A Butler’s Manor, we like to say that you don’t need a house in the Hamptons, you’ve got us. But maybe we do need to draw the line somewhere…

Unexpected blessing

It was to be a quiet morning here…just two couples in residence, and one of them, poor things, had to catch an early flight back to Seattle, so left (with a breakfast care package) at o’ dark-thirty. The other couple were honeymooners recuperating from their wedding this past Saturday (and a follow-up BBQ on Sunday). Weather is perfect, so the table is all set in the garden. Orange juice is squeezed and on ice. Plates are decorated with lemon balm and Evening Primrose. On the menu: fresh (local!) strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and melon, individual cinnamon coffee cakes, and sausage with raspberry French Toast, which has been prepped and dipped but will be cooked off when I see the whites of their eyes.

Nine-thirty AM comes…and goes. Ten o’clock. Ten-thirty. At 10:50 they appear, distressed and apologetic. They’d planned on having breakfast…had looked forward to it…but overslept. (Totally understandable for bridal couples following their wedding — the emotional letdown is huge!) Now they had to run, in order to say goodbye to overseas friends who had traveled so far to see them wed. No time to even put them together a care package.

So off they go in a cloud of dust, and I’m disappointed because a) they missed their meal, and b) I hate to see food wasted. The birds do well by our leftover baked goods, but cooked food attracts only the kind of varmints we don’t wish to take up residence at A Butler’s Manor.

So…Chris and I had breakfast. What, you say? you don’t eat your breakfasts? The truth: I sample my menus. One bite, maybe two. I’m still working off the fifteen pounds I put on in the early years of running A Butler’s Manor when I was developing the majority of the recipes I use today! But today, I said, we get to do more than grab a taste of what’s for breakfast…we’re going to experience breakfast the way our guests do. Who cares if it’s not on the diet?

And so I cooked off the French toast and sausages and Chris poured the orange juice and we sat out on the patio in the rose garden and enjoyed a wonderful meal, if I do say so myself. 🙂 And then we had an extra cup of coffee, just because it was so peaceful, before we went upstairs to start the rooms.

Sometimes it takes little disruptions in the routine in order to allow us to appreciate Life more!

Quote of the Day: Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures. –H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Our Beach is Number One!

Okay, so we always thought our beaches were special…the sand is clean, pale blond, and fine textured, and beach grass dots the dunes that separate the summer estates from the ocean sands. But just before the Memorial Day weekend, the internationally known coastal scientist Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. “Dr. Beach,” published his list of the Ten Top Beaches in America…and ranked Southampton Village’s Cooper’s Beach FIRST in the nation! In the list of the Top Ten, East Hampton’s Main Beach was ranked #5. In the 20 years that Dr. Beach has been evaluating and publishing this list, this is the first time a “northern” beach has been awarded the #1 spot. (Hawaii’s phenomenal tropical beaches have taken the honors twelve of the twenty years). Not a bad showing for what appears on a US map to be a tiny fingernail sliver of land called Long Island!

And this past weekend was the perfect time to test Dr. Beach’s recommendation, as the weather on Sunday could not have been more optimal.
When shuttling our guests to and from Cooper’s Beach, Chris and I noted that the overflow parking lot was more reminiscent of 4th of July than of Memorial Day. I have a feeling that’s going to be par for the course all summer!

Quote for the Day: “The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”  –Isak Dinesen