The Ink Penn

My sister generously allows family and friends to use her cottage in Black Mountain, N.C. when it’s not being rented, and I was hoping it might be available in January. My girlfriends and I were overdue for a girls trip, and luckily for us, the cottage turned out to be open.

We three planned to arrive on midweek and stay through Sunday, but when it happened that it was empty the entire week, Lord Banjo and I drove up on Monday. Banjo was happy with his daily walks in the crisp cold air, and we were both happy to have solitude for working on his next book.

I finished a decent first draft while sitting by the fireplace in the snug home I refer to as a Hobbit House. It’s the perfect writer’s retreat.

And then, on Wednesday, the girls arrived at the Hobbit House. We three taught together at Peachtree High School and have remained fast friends—and, yes, Peachtree was once a high school. We ate dinner at the Trailhead Restaurant that first night and enjoyed the live bluegrass music.

The next morning, we walked to the Black Bear Tavern for breakfast and then piled into the car for a visit to downtown Black Mountain, five minutes down the road. Our first stop was Periwinkles Boutique, where I’m sure we made the manager’s day with our purchases. Next up was a noon surprise planned by my friend Beverly—a Fairy Hair appointment for us three. Don’t know what Fairy Hair is? Neither did I. If you see me out and about, you will notice the sparkles in my hair, and I will happily explain how you too can get Fairy Hair.

It was only our first full day, and we were already laughing nonstop. We cracked each other up as we managed to strew our phones, our tablets, our pocketbooks, and our keys around the house. How can three people and a dog manage to misplace something every 30 minutes?

I nicknamed us the three stooges because we couldn’t seem to leave the house or the car without saying, “Wait, where’s my ‘fill in the blank’?” We laughingly said, “Between the three of us, we have a complete brain.”

The second night, we had a wonderful dinner at Milton’s at the Monte Vista hotel and discovered that the original Milton’s is in Crabapple. It’s now on my list of places to try.

Friday we headed to Asheville to meet up with a friend from our teaching days and had another amazing meal, this time at the Corner Kitchen. Next, we visited the Screen Door, a Kudzu type flea market, where, much to my husband’s chagrin, I found some yard art I had to have.

With plans to build a fire in the outdoor fireplace and stay put for the evening, we brought home pizza and salad from My Father’s Pizza. We did stay put but never could get the fire to take. Given the temps had started dropping into the 20’s even before dark, we were happy to be tucked up inside.

The cold may have stopped us from sitting outside by an outdoor fire, but not from spending our final day wandering Black Mountain and then walking to dinner.

We gals are crossing our fingers it will work out for us to do this again the “Same Time, Next Year.” As for the writer’s retreat portion of the trip, I’d happily do that again any time. I consider the Hobbit House a little slice of heaven.

Kathy is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her books, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” and “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday,” at the Enchanted Forest, Amy’s Hallmark at the Forum and Mansell Crossing, and on Amazon. Contact her at, and follow her on Facebook,

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