So we coaxed the whole family into a holiday portrait.
Friday, December 25, 2009
So we coaxed the whole family into a holiday portrait.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I tried and failed making gingerbread houses in the past. To be honest, I didn't have the patience for the work. In those days you never ate the houses so I really wasn't motivated.
I did not invent this recipe. It was one of the first things I made as a naive bride in 1976 out of my brand new Joy of Cooking . That whole book was so exotic to me in those days. Now it is just a well thumbed, cover falling off semi-antique that I wouldn't give up for a newer edition no matter what the bribe.
So give this a try or just come on over and help me take care of my treat. Silly Dave who loves so many things with ginger won't touch it.
Gingerbread (Joy of Cooking)
Preheat oven to 350, grease a 9x9 baking pan
Melt 1/2 cup butter, cool slightly then beat into 1/2 cup sugar and 1 egg until fluffy.
Sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon each ground ginger and ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. (optional: nutmeg or allspice.)
Combine 1/2 cup light molasses, 1/2 cup honey, and 1 cup very hot water. (optional: 1 tablespoon grated orange peel)
Add the sifted and liquid ingredients alternately to the butter mixture until blended. Bake about 1 hour.
Enjoy plain, with a dusting of powdered sugar, or with lemon curd sauce.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
We hang wreaths on the front door and all the doors to the guest rooms. Penguin sentries stand guard on either side of the front steps to keep grinches away. Frosty the Snowman and his main squeeze, Icilla, point the way to the side porch steps, so guests know how to find the entrance from the parking lot.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
We like Christmas trees and for our 34 years together have always had some version in our home. Once we had the inn we felt obligated to get a tree that touched the ceiling, almost 10 feet worth of tree that is. Fortunately for us the nearby Highland Farm has a huge selection of trees, natural decorations, roping and such. We walk past the carefully pruned high end trees, smile at the pretty mid-priced options and head straight for the bargain trees - $24.99 this year - and always find a tall, straight beauty within moments.
This year Seely actually spotted the tree from Route 1 as we were driving up to the place. Most of the time we are looking for something tall and skinny with three nice sides as we stand it in the corner of the living room. This year we have tall and fat with four nice sides. We'll be decorating it next weekend if anyone wants to come by to help. And the Farm will have plenty of trees if you want to pick up your own bargain.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Now don't get overly excited. We aren't shooting for a show place kitchen here. Most of our guests and readers have nicer kitchens than we want or need. Karma often presents itself on Craig's List. This time it was in the form of a high end thick vinyl flooring in a flagstone pattern that was remarkably similar to the flooring we had selected for our kitchen in Houston. The price was right. The size was right. Seely's drive almost to New Hampshire to pick it up on a sunny Sunday afternoon was quite pleasant.
The first day we removed everything from the kitchen floor: knee wall, cabinets, appliances, and plumbing.
The second day the old flooring and subfloor were removed and the new subfloor was put down.
On the third day of fun the vinyl was rolled out and allowed to rest (as were the workers.)
The fourth day we brought the cabinets and appliances back in and waited for the plumber to move the sink lines. The plumber didn't actually arrive until the fifth day which was a very good thing since we had guests that evening and were beginning to worry about how we were going to cook breakfast without a sink.
And that's how you get a new kitchen floor in five days. After the stove arrives the cabinets will be placed in their final positions and we'll have some new photos.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Beth, our beloved sister and Marketing Director, will have us committed if we publish any photos with this post. Words alone could give you nightmares.
The first two years we invested in a stove and dishwasher but used the existing counter. We had an old metal desk on top of a small rolling platform that we used as an island. I added a larger top made from clearance Formica and scraps of wood from the garage. It was ugly but functional. (Over time it also moved about until we found the most practical placement.) Counter space and storage were extremely limited.
We had a very small, stainless, standard double sink. Within a year we found a used sink that was bigger and deeper but also stainless steel. That lasted for several years until Seely saw the sink of her dreams on Craig's List. On Long Island, NY. Since she was going to visit Beth in Baltimore anyway it was just a little side trip. The treasure is an old porcelain double laundry sink with deep wells. It has amazing character and utility for $50.
Over the years we have gone through four dishwashers. Household dishwashers just aren't meant to run six to ten loads a day. Seely found a bargain commercial dishwasher on Craig's List that should last pretty much forever.
We have had two full sized fridges, several under the counter fridges, and under the counter freezers. Some died, some were sold, some went to the basement. Over the years the appliances migrated around the kitchen but we finally have a layout that works. We now have an undercounter fridge, a full size fridge (no freezer) and a full size freezer in the kitchen. Since they are all commercial (even though we got them at auctions or Craig's List) we hope they last a long time too.
Our Amana stove died recently. It was an OK stove, the oven was too small but the burners were nice. Our next stove is a commercial Garland but it won't be picked up until November 30. It is gorgeous. I will show you its photo after it is installed (just don't tell Beth.)
The one thing that we have avoided is dealing with the floor. The yucky, commercial vinyl tile floor that didn't look clean even after you got on your hands and knees with a steel wool soap pad. The floor that is one of the big reasons no one is allowed to see the kitchen. Should I tell you how I really feel about this floor?
To be continued.....
Monday, November 9, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Actually it has been five nights of guests since the carcass was hauled away. The other appliances have produced perfectly nice breakfasts but it is time to get a new stove. Dave is out of town which, with guests in residence, is limiting the time I have to shop. Wish me luck.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I had plenty of vases tucked away for our Romantic Roses Package. The nickle feeder fish I put in the pond last year had spawned at least 30 babies that seem to be thriving. The water lettuce and water hyacinth had to come inside. For $0.00 I have unusual and amusing center pieces.
I love seeing the fish play tag in the trailing roots.
That's what Works for me on Wednesday.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Now the easy way out would have been to call an architect to figure this out. Yes, a real professional with experience and knowledge of all the building codes known to mankind. And a fee schedule to match. So much for that idea.
Instead Seely cleared areas and used Dollar Store sidewalk chalk to outline the new walls. Then the fixtures that were purchased at a going out of business sale in Houston were placed in the new "rooms." The plumbers explained code and adjustments were made. One sink swapped with another to make the best fit for the spaces. Once Seely and the plumbers were satisfied with the layout, walls went up and plumbing began in earnest. In the end, even the Building Inspector was happy.
For the most part the "fly by the seat of our pants" design plan worked out well. Some of the baths are on the small side, some have whirlpools, all have showers and none of them look alike. Although three of our rooms have baths down the hall no one shares with anyone. Some guests are nervous about the "down the halls" until they actually stay here and realize that it isn't a big deal.
Friday, October 30, 2009
While many of the shops go to reduced hours and some close in February, most of the best restaurants stay open so you can always find an excellent meal. The Towers, our big event venue overlooking the beach offers dance classes and live music on Thursday evenings.
While you wouldn't want to take dip in the ocean without a wetsuit, many people enjoy a brisk walk at a time of year when beach access is free, and you don't trip over someone when you skip away from an incoming wave. For those who like extreme competition, there's a surfing meet in February and the Polar Bear Club takes its annual dip on New Year's Day.
Both shore and boat fishing continues year round. Your innkeepers will happily take the catch off your hands or help you find space in the guest fridge to save it for your trip home.
It's not too late to enjoy the local Corn Mazes craze. Several mazes are an easy drive away and can be a fun diversion. The associated farm stands are always a good stop. Although the foliage is just past peak you can still enjoy a lot of color in the local nature preserves.
One of the best things about our state is that nothing is very far away. When you stay at our inn you are 15 minutes away from sporting events and concerts at URI's Ryan Center. Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello were among the headliners last year.
Newport is only 20 minutes minutes away, with high-end shopping, fine dining and clubbing. Special events like Christmas in Newport, First Night and the Winter Carnival draw visitors needing to unwind from all that holiday stress.
It will take about 15 minutes more to get to Providence, but the RISD and Brown museums are worth the trip. There are original productions at the Trinity Preparatory Theater, touring Broadway shows at the Providence Performing Arts Center and live music at dozens of clubs in the downtown area.
For more information visit: South County Tourism, Art Tix, or the URI events list.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
There are exceptions, however. Obviously we don't want to feed a guest something that would trigger an allergy or violate religious restrictions. We always ask both at the initial reservation contact and at check-in whether there are foods that guests can't eat for health or philosophical reasons.
As long as you give us enough notice, we will do our best either to modify the whole house menu or prepare a special dish for you. David has used rice flour for folks with wheat gluten allergies, soy milk for the lactose intolerant and has prepared kosher meals for one of our favorite regular families.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for a special menu was a wedding group of Vegans (strict vegetarians that avoid all animal byproducts of any kind). There were 20 people in the party and the only dish we serve with no meat or dairy at all was our coconut French toast. That worked fine with fresh fruit, whole grain bread and and diced, seasoned potatoes for one meal.
For the second morning, Seely did an exhaustive intenet search and found a vegetarian fritata that used polenta for the crust and combined a half-dozen veggies (black beans, sprouts, sun dried tomatoes, peppers) into what looked a bit like a pizza with everything on it. We served the usual fruit with hash browns on the side and even the guests that weren't Vegan found it "better than the usual stuff they eat."
Just one word of warning for those seeking special orders who don't make their needs known until they arrive at the table: Be prepared to wait. Finding out at 9:15 that someone can't eat the cheese in Asiago scrambled eggs, means that we have start your special order with no advance preparation, so it won't get to the table quite as fast.
Monday, October 19, 2009
When breakfast was done we whisked away the dishes, put a fresh cloth on the table, topped with a vase and we had a living room again. We then changed out of food service attire, put our construction clothes on and went back to renovation work. We had two rooms open in May, two more open by Fourth of July and were working on the Whirlpool Suite, which had been rented for the first weekend in August.
With the deadline looming, we began working until well past midnight, taking care to do the quieter tasks while the guests slept. We were still painting in the bathroom the day before the guests arrived, but by 3:30, a half hour before check-in, we were congratulating ourselves for getting everything ship shape.
That is until I opened the windows in the Suite sitting room and realized that we had neglected to put in the screens. One window didn't have a screen to start with. The others had been taken down to be scrubbed and rinsed, but we had neglected to put them on the list of things to be done before check-in so they were leaning up against the garage where I had put them to dry.
Since we had no air conditioning in those days, opening windows was essential for air circulation and cooling in the evenings. Unfortunately the mosquitoes were quite content to spend their evenings indoors with the warm bloods. Fortunately, the guests headed for dinner immediately after arrival, allowing us enough time to haul out the ladder, put the screens up and hammer few nails into the window frame to hold them in place. If the guests noticed either the deficiency when they arrived or the improvement when they returned, they were polite enough not to mention it.
Eventually we gave up on restoring all of the original windows and installed energy efficient (and bug proof) units. And everyone except the mosquitoes has been happy ever since.
Posted by Innkeeper David
Friday, October 2, 2009
Unlike a hotel concierge that often gets kickbacks from the restaurants I don't have any vested interest in any referrals. Heck, I doubt that most of the places I send the guests to enjoy have any idea that a Blueberry Cove Inn exists in Narragansett, RI.
So how do we decide which places are "guest worthy"? We offer a basket of menus for guests to browse through which helps. We sometimes hook them up with the restaurant's web page. We encourage guests to bring home menus if they try something we've never heard of. We quiz guests about their dining experiences. But, best of all, we actually get out once in awhile to try new places and revisit favorites to make sure they are still on the ball.
Just this week I went to the Midtown Cafe in Wakefield, RI. Yes, it is all of a five mile drive but you won't be disappointed. Located in the heart of the shopping district (which deserves its own blog) the window tables are a great spot for people watching. The interior is fresh, clean and wide open without being austere. Selecting just one item off of the lunch menu was difficult especially when I could glance at my fellow diners and see all kinds of yummy things being served. (One had the most beautiful grilled veggie plate I've ever seen and I don't even like some of the veggies being served.) I settled on a hanger steak sandwich with an incredible horseradish mayonnaise. The biggest surprise was the side of rosemary roasted potatoes. Cut like fries but roasted into sweetness they aren't something you see very often. As this was a business excursion I was compelled to try dessert. Although tempted by the chocolate offerings I fell in love with the raspberry and almond tart. The presentation was beautiful but my cell phone camera wasn't co-operating so you have to take my word for it.
Most of our restaurants are open year round. (A few take January off and very few close after Columbus Day.) Most of them offer specials or prixe fixe options. Come and visit and we'll try to hook you up with a good dining experience.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Seely's mom, Gert, gets the credit for most of the front gardens and the line of blueberry bushes that helps screen the parking lot. When you drive by the front of the inn or come into the driveway, the first flora you see has mostly been selected and organized by her. Gert comes for visit every other spring and, after a day or so of brainstorming, takes the truck and heads out for a full day combing the garden stores for decorative shrubs. It helps that she is a life long gardener,a former volunteer at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, MO, and that St. Louis is actually in the same planting zone as Narragansett.
We have also planted a number of trees (walnuts, cherry, pear, birches and a few evergreens). The original idea was that someday the nut and fruit trees might provide actual breakfast fare for the inn, like the blueberry bushes. However, we forgot to factor in the effect of our year-round residents with the bushy tails. Since the squirrels are much more limber and skilled at scaling tree trunks than we are, they get the lion's share (99.6 percent) of the nuts.
Our most ambitious recent project is the nature preserve in the side yard. When we had to remove a buried oil tank from the premises, we discovered to our dismay that it had been leaking for years, thus contaminating the soil and forcing us to remove all the dirt down to a depth of eight feet from the inn's foundation all the way to the hedge. The company that did the excavation filled the massive crater with the cheapest, sandiest, rockiest fill dirt imaginable. Clearly, we needed to come up with something to make this barren looking quadrant at least respectable.
Seely's solution evolved into what we now call the nature preserve. Seely caught the back hoe guy in a good mood and asked him to dig the pond. Well, if you have a pond you need moving water. The next winter we rebuilt the front porch and salvaged the large rocks from under the porch to build the waterfall. Being totally clueless on how to line a waterfall a salvaged child's slide became the water chute. (The next phase is to cover the slide with rocks and shells to create more turbulence.)
So once you have a pond and a water fall and ten cent gold fish growing into 6 inch beauties you have to put in a patio. Dave was sent out to salvage paving slates from a guy that was tearing his patio out before the state put a highway ramp through his back yard. Presto! a paved apron for the pond plus path of paving stones leading from the front porch to the Hideaway Suite leading right past the goldfish.
We put some bird feeders in the area and now when the guest are at breakfast they can watch the birds feed and hear the soothing sound of running water from the pump.
By now you are are wondering why this post lacks photos. Quite frankly, we completely forgot to take any while the gardens were in full bloom. If anyone has any I would be happy to post them with photo credits. Until then (or next summer) you'll just have to visit to see the grounds.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
In addition to being great cooks, these women have my respect for being astute business people. Our industry is tougher than most travelers would imagine but they have thrived and strive to keep their businesses and lives as fresh as possible.
And that works for me on Wednesday and every other day of the week.
Monday, September 7, 2009
But none was more bizarre than what I saw as I returned from a trip to Home Depot late one autumn afternoon. This was at the end of a long day of destruction -- removing plaster, pulling out lath and dead wiring. While the dust settled, I made a run for supplies to be used in the ensuing reconstruction.
I pulled into the driveway at about 4:45, just as the sun was sinking below the tree-line. As I stopped to look at the rosy sky off to the west, a far more interesting sight caught my eye. Huddled in the middle of the roof over the front porch was a rabbit.
I was so stunned by the vision, which would not go away no matter how often or how hard I blinked, that it took me a minute or two to realize that the bunny perched on my porch roof must be Theo.
Theo was a pet rabbit kept by Lawrence, one of the tenants we inherited from the previous owner of the property. What we didn't know at the time was that Lawrence considered Theo to be a free-range bunny, often letting him roam the second floor while he was at work.
The weather that November was unusually warm, prompting the upstairs tenants to open the windows at either end of the hallway, neither of which had a screen. In the spirit of adventure, Theo had apparently hopped out to catch the cool breeze coming off the water.
Or maybe one of Lawrence's floor mates, who wasn't crazy about sharing the public spaces with a furry friend, put him out there. We never found out for sure. But we did institute a new policy limiting Theo to Lawrence's room while his owner was off the property.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The swings. Our first yard swing sits out of the way in a well shaded spot in the corner of the front lawn. I love how the birch trees have overgrown to make a little bower for the swing. Tip your head back to get a lovely view of the sky between the birch bower and the old maple.
It is the best spot to ponder the twisted curves on the old maple tree.
It's also a great spot to look at the house but if I look too long I start to think about all the things I am avoiding. You can see the side yard if you twist a bit.
It's a good spot to look out across the Veld - our eastern side yard. It makes me feel like I'm in the country (if I ignore the occasional car driving by.)
Which leads us to my new most favorite swing, over there, by the pond.
The pond is a work in progress. The slate has been salvaged from several locations around the state. The waterfall is made of rocks unearthed while digging the porch foundations. At some point the slide will be covered with slate and rock.
The otter came with us from Houston. The plants often threaten to take over the pond but provide plenty of food for the dozens of darting goldfish.
And now this cozy spot has a swing. A deeply relaxing, close enough to watch the fish, cozy enough for two but great to stretch out on to read a book swing. A perfect place to forget about your obligations (or abandoned chores.)
Friday, August 28, 2009
Rhode Island stopped rolling up the sidewalks after Columbus Day. The beaches are open (free) and are completely different than what you see in the summer. Non-beach activities could take up an entire blog. Most of the local restaurants stay open and are happy to see you.
For a start, there can be weddings here at any time since it's easier to get a church in December than in June. Because we have whirlpool tubs and electric fireplaces in some rooms we are an easy (and affordable) weekend get-away for the romantically inclined. But, if you want the wood burning fireplace in front of the whirlpool in the Hideaway Suite you'd better book well in advance.
One of our most popular winter events is our Chocolate Weekend which is held the weekend after Valentine's Day. Lots of chocolate and snuggles with your sweetie are good reasons to visit but there are always things to do during the day like museums, mansions, festivals, beach walking, and seal watching.
The most reliable source of off-season business for us is the University of Rhode Island, located about eight miles from the inn. We take student boarders on the third floor from Sept. to May, and the six rooms that stay open to nightly visitors are often used by parents making a quick visit to see if they're getting their money's worth for their offspring's education. Our Rhodey Ram Special is an added incentive to visit often.
We also get customers coming in for university events (concerts, athletic contests, lectures) and once in a while a visiting professor will stay with us until his term or project is completed. The NOAA research station at the URI Bay Campus frequently brings in coastal management consultants who stay at the inn.
We have enough guests to keep us occupied on the weekends, but not so many that we can't sneak out for a winter getaway of our own when our batteries need recharging. We are never idle though as we tackle big messy renovations when we aren't enjoying guests. There's no rest for the wicked or for innkeepers.
So book early and book often to see what winter at the beach is all about.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Most B&Bs offer some kind of hand soap, body soap, shampoo and such. We also have shower caps (which are much more popular in the winter), hair dryers, and sewing kits. Facial tissues and an extra roll of TP are pretty standard too. I like to put the items on a pressed glass tray or bowl of some kind as they are dressy, inexpensive and very easy to keep clean.
By far, our most popular bathroom amenity is a stash of Q-tips! We offer them in modified sugar shakers to help keep them clean and to discourage people from mindlessly putting a dirty one back in with the clean. (Just pull out the metal shaker part from the top of the container.)
Our second most popular bath amenity is a magnified mirror. One of our frequent guests moaned about forgetting her traveling mirror. A gentleman said that he had trouble seeing the mirror when he shaved. The two comments in one week prompted us to install the mirrors in all of the bathrooms. (This is why we love to hear how we can make the place better. Seely doesn't wear make up and Dave has a beard so it would never have occurred to us that guests would like magnifying mirrors.)
Those are the things that Works for me Wednesdays (and the rest of the week) around here.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Our biggest task was to move 20 sheets of wall board from the front porch to the third floor. It was a tricky job, as 8-foot long rectangles aren't the easiest thing to maneuver up two flights of steps and around corners in the hall.
About the time we got to the sixth board we stopped on the second floor landing to take a break. Glancing out the front window, Seely noticed police cars in the road. A few officers were going around toward the back of the house. Two others were headed up the front walk. All had their weapons drawn.
It turns out that one of the tenants we inherited from the previous management had been knocking over ATM machines and Narragansett's finest wanted to relocate him to a new place of residence. We should have suspected something was up when he gave us two weeks rent in advance. (Demonstrating a keen sense of priorities, Seely's first question was whether we got to keep the advance rent he'd paid us.) We never saw him again, though the police did let us know after they picked him up. He would get his lodging from the state for the next 2-7 years.
We attract a much better quality of guest these days.
Friday, August 21, 2009
The shoreline of the Narragansett Town Beach south to the Point Judith Lighthouse faces the open ocean. The shore north of the Town Beach faces Narragansett Bay. Beaches to the west of Point Judith face either the Block Island Sound or the Long Island Sound. Rodger Wheeler State Beach which faces the Sound is also protected by the Galilee break water which protects the boats coming in and out of the port.
Since Narragansett is on the ocean at the mouth of the bay there is a wicked potential for cross currents and undertows which in turn creates beautiful waves. When an off shore storm is brewing, say Hurricane Bill, surfers from far and wide show up to catch the waves.
So watch for our beach to be on TV as it is a favorite spot for the local news stations to catch the waves and the wave seekers alike.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
If you are the have-to-be-in-charge type, you can rent your own jet ski or kayak. We have had guests circumnavigate Jamestown Island by jet ski. They slept very well that night. Bring lots of water and sun screen if you plan to duplicate that feat. For the more natural trip, kayaks can travel either in the ocean or through the many beautiful ponds and rivers in the area.
Surfing and SCUBA diving are popular activities in the area so of course there are several shops willing to hook you up with the waves or undersea world. Bring a wet suit if you have one (or plan on renting one) as the water is a bit more chilly than tropical reefs.
One of the easiest ways to get onto the water is to take a ferry to Block Island. The regular and the high speed ferry both leave Galilee frequently and offer different types of experiences. If you are very ambitious you can take a high speed ferry to Martha's Vineyard for the day. (That would be a very long day though.)
If you are more into sightseeing while cruising hands down one of the best bets is the Rhode Island Light House Cruise based out of Quonset Point (about 20 min. north of the inn.) Make reservations on line as they frequently sell out.
More locally the Southland has been cruising Narragansett waters for many years. Smaller, comfortable boats take you out on the ocean to see the Point Judith Light House and then back up into the Great Salt Pond. It is a delightfully relaxing trip and gives you a glimpse into areas you would never find by car.
Mix a bit of history with your cruise on the Bandarias based in the historic village of Wickford (just seven miles north of the inn.)
Are you more interested in fishing? The Narragansett village of Galilee hosts the third largest commercial fishing fleet in New England. You can join day trips or overnight trips with a little advance planning. Surf fishing is popular too. You can store your catch in our guest fridges (after the boat crew has gutted it for you) or your B&B hosts will be happy to take it off of your hands if you don't want to drag it home
Although the Frances Fleet offers whale watching trips as well as fishing, we haven't had a guest yet that actually saw a whale. They had fun on the water anyway.
Yep, that's Narragansett, something for everyone, rain or shine. Come join the fun!
Monday, August 10, 2009
The loss of your phone service for 24 hours is pretty horrible. We survived that last Monday by forwarding to our cell phones so it certainly can't be the worst thing.
Experiencing cable and Internet outages for three days? Well, that certainly bothered both the guests and the Innkeeper. Dragging off to an Internet hot spot to check email and reservations is a big drain on time.
No, the piece de resistance has to be electrical problems. Brief outages are bad enough but when the cable repair person tells you to kill the power to the whole building because the electical lines from the pole are sending uncontrolled power surges that could cause a fire (and seriously hurt him as he worked on the cable line) you have met your greatest fear. The smell of electrical circuits shorting in the kitchen speeded my feet toward the power panel.
Something totally out of our control that can harm humans and our livelihood.
Especially when it happens on the busiest Friday of the year when I would need to relocate a whole houseful of guests if the power can't be fixed pronto. And there isn't a B&B, inn or motel in the county with an open room because of a perfect storm of Newport Music Festival, weddings and great beach weather.
I must applaud the National Grid for responding within 15 min. to my panicked request for emergency service. I don't know who the workman was, but he ran a new line from the pole to the house in less than an hour.
Thanks to John the Cable Guy for giving me his cell number so I could call him back as soon as the power issue was settled. (I was too rattled to take his photo. He looks like a teddy bear though.)
Our guests were very understanding about the situation. Most people will accept some inconvenience if you can show them you are doing everything possible to fix the problem. And seeing three workers scurrying around, pulling cables and climbing poles gave me credibility when I told them I thought we'd have everything working within hours.
The crisis is over except for repairing the handicapped lift and replacing a few appliances that fried from the power surges.
And that is my excuse for posting Friday FAQs on a Monday. Monday Memories should be out tomorrow.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Reality check: when you toss heavy plaster down a slide it tends to catch in a pouch outside the dumpster. You then get a great treat because you can pretend it is a giant pinata as you poke the mess from underneath with a broom to try and flip it into the dumpster. If you poke just so you can wind up with all the plaster on your head. If you add a plank to get the plaster farther out on the tarp it works much better. Eventually I learned how to secure the tarp so the junk actually slid the way I hoped. Just a few tips if you ever try this job. First lower the tarp to the ground at the end of every work day so a drunken tenant doesn't try to slide down it. At the very least, take in the plank lest someone try to walk it. Second, don't plan on working if a Nor'easter is starting to blow in from the North Atlantic. Third, be prepared to be the talk of the town.
Friday, July 31, 2009
However, there is also a row of five blueberry bushes along the southern end of the main parking lot. Seely's parents planted those after we purchased the inn. It is not uncommon for people who have backed their cars so far into parking spaces that they have to push the bushes aside to get their luggage out of the trunk to ask the next morning at breakfast: "So where are the blueberries?"
Monday, July 27, 2009
You know how everyone in the family suddenly wants to see your new home even if you have sheets for curtains and unpacked boxes for coffee tables? Well this place was even more of a gawker's paradise.
My parents followed us from TX as we moved the second load of furniture and a car on a trailer north. They should have turned around when the trailer tire caught on fire just out of Dayton, OH and they sailed past us as we were on the shoulder hoping the car didn't catch on fire. Hot tip: if a trailer tire is on fire don't waste your valuable thermos of tea trying to put it out. You have to get the fire department.
The look of horror on my parent's faces as they toured the building the first day was almost comical. They tried to say it had potential but balanced that with questions about whether we could get out of the sale. My sister and her partner were much more supportive but pensive. My brother gagged. Dave's family would visit later while we were under construction and were equally dumbfounded.
What really tickled the family was our willingness to recruit them to do grotty work for as long as we could keep them on their feet with their only reward being a trip out to a nice dinner which they got to pay for. We always had a place for them to sleep but they had plenty of work to do.
And, they came back repeatedly to help. For which we are eternally grateful.
Beth on demolition; Jim hanging Sheetrock in the Shells bath; Dad pulling nails as viewed through new studs; Peg on break; Mom rebuilding kitchen soffit; Peg working on Suite bath; Mom learning to hang Sheetrock. Secretary Sophia; Dad and Dave mud wall repair in the Crow's Nest; Dave cuts hole for new closet door; Matt and Sam demolish the porch steps; Beth painting the Suite ceiling; Mom sewing; Seely installing Suite tile.
One classic example of how this became known as the Gulag involved most of the family. One night my parents went to sleep on twin cots in what is now the Whirlpool Suite bedroom. About 11 p.m. the work crew showed up: my sister Beth, her partner Peg, my brother Jim, Dave and I. By morning the dingy whitish walls had four coats of jewel toned red paint. My parents never budged and were somewhat frightened when they woke up and didn't quite know where they were.
And that was only the first all night work session.....
Friday, July 24, 2009
Much of the furniture was picked up a "container auctions" while we lived in Houston but long before we had an actual building. After attending aspiring innkeeper seminars we had an idea of how many rooms we would need to make a living. After staying at numerous B&Bs we knew what was important to have in each room. It made perfect sense to us to start accumulating furniture, sheets, and other goods before we had any idea of where we were going. Besides, we had disposable income and auctions are just plain old fun. This was the first sign of our insanity according to family and friends.
Container auctions are wild affairs. The auction house sends someone to France or England to fill a shipping container with antique, semi antique, and vintage goods of varying quality which they bring over for resale. As much of the container as possible is tagged "antique" to skirt import taxes so it is a buyer beware situation.
Many of our Oriental rugs are from Houston auctions. As an oil town, Houston has acres of Oriental rugs. When the Middle East oil fields were first developed by American workers many rugs were imported as personal baggage. By the time we were cruising auctions many of those workers were closing their homes to move into retirement centers. Prices were low, selection was wide, and we had a blast just attending auctions to see the variety of patterns.
Most of the items we brought with us found a place in the house. Some things were not up to the wear and tear and had to be replaced. Other things get replaced as our tastes change. Overall, buying in a hodge podge fashion worked out for us. Fortunately, most of the guests seem to like the eclectic style.
Monday, July 20, 2009
We have two sets of guests that visit so often they have begun to feel like family members.
The Chapmans of PA stayed with us that first primitive summer when we still let kids sleep on the floor of their parents' room. Little did we know that they would become such loyal and supportive visitors. The first wedding at the Blueberry Cove Inn will be their son's, whenever that happy event takes place.
The Adlers of RI didn't find us until a few years later when they were walking past the building and feeling very disenchanted with the hotel they had been staying in for years. Happy guests on the porch and the phone number on our sign convinced them to give us a try. Cleanliness, location, and good customer service keeps them coming back.
Both families have witnessed the evolution of the building and suffered through our innkeeper learning curve. Although they have never met they did learn about each other when each tried to lay claim to the title of "Most Frequent Guest." It started as a joke but they ask for the "score" each time they book.
We have other guests that were in the running. One couple got to seven stays but then had one grandchild too many for comfort and now need to rent a bigger house. Some have gotten to eight visits (and still counting we hope.) But the Adlers and the Chapmans have accumulated 23 trips combined.
Currently the Chapmans are ahead with 13 visits to the Adlers' 10.
But Dave and I are the real winners in this competition because we have had the privilege to know so many wonderful people over the years.