Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best in Cove

Christmas in Narragansett is always unique. This year we had a pack of special guests spend Christmas at Blueberry Cove Inn. The Sheehy family decided to hold a holiday reunion here. Four humans made the drive up from Delaware, bringing four Burmese Mountain dogs and one brindled pal of unknown ancestry with them. These were beautiful animals, large enough to fill in for sleigh duty if Dancer or Prancer was feeling under the weather on Christmas Eve.

I must admit I had some trepidation about having so many animals on the property, especially when I learned that they were bringing a puppy along. What I was overlooking was the fact that these are show dogs, and thus well-trained to be on their best behavior even when traveling to strange places for the first time. If it wasn't for the occasional howl from the run in the backyard when they were outside, I wouldn't even have known they were around. And none of the other guests had any problems with their furry neighbors. Because the pet-friendly suite has a separate entrance from the rest of the property the anmals never had to cross paths with the other guests.












The puppy, named Ranger, had perhaps the softest fur I have ever petted and was as playful and friendly as could be. In fact the main problem with having him visit was that Seely's "I want a puppy" gene was activated. I wouldn't be at all surprsied if she cut a deal for a reduced rate on a future stay in return for a chance to pick a puppy from the next litter that's not quite up to showdog standards.

Innkeeper Dave

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Time is Running Out!!!

The year is running out. It isn't too late to make up with Aunt Frida who is very aware that you didn't send her a Hanukkah gift. Christmas is in a few days immediately followed by Boxing Day and Kwanzaa. Do you want to disappoint your favorite Druids and Wiccans? You haven't finished shopping and you have no plans for New Year's Eve.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

There are only a few days left to get a "Wicked Good Gift Certificate" to give to others, saving the bonus gift for yourself of course.

We still have lovely whirlpool rooms with fireplaces available for New Year's Eve. You can walk to the big dance down at the Towers if you don't want to watch the ball drop on TV. This would be the perfect time to make the reservation since you are on the computer already.

It is also time to start planning that summer vacation. The office vacation schedule probably comes out on the second and you want to be prepared to grab the best weeks for your trip to the beach. I'm just saying, it's going to be here before you know it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Snow Fight!!!

First, let me admit that this has absolutely nothing to do with innkeeping in Narragansett or even in Rhode Island. It has nothing to do with staying at Blueberry Cove Inn (although you should book soon for any date whatsoever.) Heck, we don't have any snow right now (not that I want any of course but the beach is kind of quirky in the snow.)

It's just fun.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Celtic Christmas Music

Although this event isn't in Narragansett, it is only a short drive away. It promises to be a good time for all.

Court House Center for the Arts

Celtic Christmas December 11th at 7pm December 12th at 2pm CCA proudly presents our first annual Celtic Christmas. This celebration of the mid winter season has a distinct Celtic flavor and extends from the little known Kilmore carols of Wexford to the Irish-American vaudeville stage.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wicked Good Gift Certificates

Narragansett, RI. The Pier, the beach, the Towers, something for everyone all year round. Holidays. Gift giving dilemas. Solution: one size fits all gift certificates!!

This Holiday Season give the gift that your friends will receive twice, a Gift Certificate from Blueberry Cove Inn. They get the original gift and then get their stay when they use it.

With each gift certificate you purchase between now and December 24, 2010 you will also get an additional gift certificate valued at 10% of your original purchase. You can give the additional gift certificate to someone else or you can use it yourself.

Example: Purchase a $200 gift certificate and receive an additional Gift Certificate for $20. These special gift certificates may no be used with any other gift certificates or other promotions, sorry. They will be accepted year round. All of our usual rates and reservation policies will apply. If ordering on line, please put "Wicked Good" after identifying your special occasion on the form.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Seasoning the Inn

It's December, which means bare trees, sunset at midafternoon and holiday decorating at Cove.

With Narragansett doing a major event, the Festival of Lights, centered around the lighting of the town Christmas tree, we decided to get the inn holiday-ready earlier than usual to showcase for any passers-by who might want a peek at our accommodations.


Fortunately we had some extra help from our teen tyros, Annie and Liz. Dedicated readers will remember that they signed on last summer to help us with yard work, and they were so helpful that we have been finding other tasks for them ever since.

On Saturday, I was assigned outside lights duty for two crucial reasons: I don't mind working in the cold and it keeps me out of the way of those handling breakable items and making artistic decisions.

In a little over two hours, the girls, under Foreperson Seely's energetic direction, managed to unsnarl and test 17 strings of lights, wrap some of them around all three flights of stairs, add garlands of fake holly, hang round red ornaments on each segment of the glass block border, and cover every flat surface with some kind of holiday knick-knack. Everything from sea captain Santa to the snowmen picket fence found its place.


By 1:30 all that was left was the tree. While the junior innkeepers hauled out the stand and washed it down, I toted the 9 foot balsam in from the yard. For once we got the size just right, so no radical surgery was required before we could lock it into the stand.

We then sent Seely's helpers home. She tackled the lights for the tree while I returned to stringing popcorn. Ornaments may have to wait until tomorrow, but we should be ready by the time the town lights its tree at 5.

Check back tomorrow for photos of the decorations. Better yet, stop on by for our impromptu Open House and see them for yourself.

Innkeeper Dave

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blueberry Cove Inn tries to be "Green"

Guests expect certain amenities like soap and shampoo. Picking the "right" line is an exercise in futility for me. The product line choices are mind boggling! Do guests really want olive oil in their soaps? Lanolin in their lotions? Green tea in their shampoo? Do people actually pay attention to the fancy packaging or think about where all those partially used items end up? Do most guests recognize the higher end product lines or do innkeepers over-think the issue?

11 years ago, overwhelmed by all the questions, we chose basics. We offer shampoo in large refillable bottles instead of the tiny ones that have to go to the landfill. In the "green" lodging world some innkeepers go to wall mounted soap dispensers to reduce the waste going to the landfill. We still offer bar soap as neither Dave or I like using dispenser soaps or dealing with the drips dispensers tend to produce. Which means we have a lot of barely used soaps to trash. This always bothered me but who in the world would want used soap??

Clean the World wants the soap. This organization takes donations of used soap from lodging properties, reprocesses it and produces large bars of absolutely sanitary soap to donate to communities in need. Clean the World was one of the first organizations on the scene after the Haitian earth quake.

So this year I saved every scrap of soap left in the bathrooms. Our first donation of 20 pounds has been shipped. It isn't much compared to what the Hilton will be sending but it is a contribution that helps others and helps the landfill.

Innkeeper Seely

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Free Rooms for Vets in Narragansett

Blueberry Cove Inn is honored to participate in the Thank You Veterans Project. We will be providing three free rooms on Wednesday, November 10, in observance of Veterans Day, November 11, to honor servicemen and women currently serving or who have previously served their country. The program was started in 2009 by the West Virginia B&B Association and this year has expanded to include over 35 states, a Canadian province and more than 200 Inns. For more details about the program, visit www.bnbsforvets.org

Unfortunately all three of our rooms allocated for the free program have been booked. We offered our two Whirlpool Suites at a 50-60% discount and those are booked as well. We would be happy to offer vets and active military a 10% discount for a stay between November 10 and April 20, 2011 (holidays and Chocolate Weekend excluded, ID required.) Just send us an email before November 10, 2010 to be eligible for the discount.

Friday, October 15, 2010

We are pumped


Devoted followers of this blog (both of you) will remember that last summer our stone otter, Alfie, met with a nasty accident that left his bewhiskered head at the bottom of our fish pond.

Despite heroic efforts by Seely to perform reattachment surgery, we were unable to restore the victim to full function (which include serving as a recirculating pump for the pond and a convenient place for birds to settle).

After allowing for a suitable period of grieving, Seely's sister Beth began an extensive internet search for a replacement. I was skeptical that it would be possible to find a another pump as lifelike and efficient as Alfie at an affordable price.

I should know better than to underestimate my sister-in-law. On my birthday, Fed Ex delivered a sleek, beautiful stone otter pond pump. Based on no evidence whatsoever I decided that this one was female and named her Selena. I have no idea how much of her valuable time Beth wasted to give me a birthday smile, but I appreciate it.


So now everybody's happy. The birds have a belly to perch on when take a drink from the pond, the fish are happy to have a working pump, and I feel much better when I look out my window because our wildlife area now seems complete.

Innkeeper Dave

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Exercise and Romance on Narragansett Waters

Mother Nature decided that Narragansett deserved one more summer weekend of fun with clear skies and 80 degree weather. Book now because it is going to be just too nice to pass up.

Here are a few ideas from the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce:

September 23rd - 25th

Full Moon Paddle - Narrow River Kayaks

Paddle one of southern New England's most beautiful waterways and discover the wonders of Narrow River at Sunset and under the light of the Full Moon. Learn about history and wildlife from an experienced naturalist and guide. $49.00 per adult - $25.00 11 and under 4:30 pm

September 24th - 26th

Taste of Block Island

This bi-annual event showcases all that Block Island has to offer. There will be many events including gallery openings, historical tours, wine tastings and kayaking with the purchase of a $5. button This weekend is being paired with the Antique Car Festival benefiting the Block Island Early Learning Center.

Monday, September 20, 2010

September Season in Full Swing

Summer has slipped past and if I don't hurry September will be gone before I get this posted. Although the beach bums have mostly gone home there are still many Fall visitors visiting Narragansett, RI.

All the usual things happen here after Labor Day. Wedding festivities bring visitors nearly every weekend. URI students and activities draw family and friends into the area. The absolutely gorgeous weather has been fabulous for bikers, hikers, surfers, and swimmers. Day trips to Block Island are more relaxed with less traffic on their roads. The local dining scene offers all the great food with shorter waiting times. Newport and the casinos are just a short drive away.

If you are interested in more off beat activities the Narragansett Pier is a great home base. Lighthouse Cruises, bird watching walks with the Audubon Society, tours of an alpaca farm, apple picking, Corn Maize adventures and frightening Halloween displays are all a short distance away.

So book early and book often for your much deserved break from routine. Our Fall season rates make Blueberry Cove Inn an affordable option every day of the week. But hurry! weekends are booking up quickly.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Man vs. Squirrel, Round 313

Here at the Cove we enjoy co-existing with our wildlife. We have half a dozen bird feeders scattered around the inn, chipmunks that like to play on our water slide, a goldfish pond and rabbits that come out to feed at dusk. But there is one element of nature we could definitely use less of: Squirrels.

Unlike our feathered and scaly friends, who hide if humans get too close to their turf, the squirrels will hop right up on the porch if you're sitting on the glider and come over to your feet to see if you dropped any food. They have chewed through the 3/4 inch plastic lids on our trash cans to get at fast food wrappers left by guests who have spent the day on the road to get here.

But by far the worst offense committed by the bushy-tailed rodents is the theft of food from our bird feeders. They hang upside down from overhanging limbs to defeat counterweights designed to throw them off the feeders, and shinny up the narrow, smooth poles that retailers market as squirrel-proof.

My various attempts to thwart them throughout the years have proved laughably ineffective. The plastic dish we placed over the suet feeder? They tag team it. One climbs to the top of the pole and tips it far enough so that his buddy can rake the suet out on the ground for a picnic feast. A few years ago I purchased a pellet gun on Craig's List. It shoots round plastic projectiles about the size of a BB that don't actually hurt the thieving rodent, but sting enough (I had hoped) to send him looking for a less annoying food source. Of course they flee when hit (the smart ones evacuate when they hear the creak of the door opening), but they're back in 10 minutes.

Frustrated in the extreme, I had declared a truce. Under the terms, the furry miscreants could feed at will on any seed that spilled on the ground, but if they actually got on the feeder or were stealing seed out of it, they got pelleted. However last week there was a violation of the demilitarized zone that called for stronger measures.

The feeder on the side porch has a spring-loaded lid. When you put it in on, you hold down a button on the front. When it is in aligned you release the button and a catch inside the feeder clicks into place. To open it, you have to punch the button before lifting. In between cooking breakfast courses last Wednesday, I looked out and saw that not only had a despicably clever squirrel figured out the catch, but he had climbed throught the hole in the top of the feeder and was literally bathing in seed.




After running through my full vocabulary of expletives (it takes about 2.5 minutes), I vowed to make sure I never had to watch that nauseating spectacle again. I grabbed a roll of the handyman's secret weapon (duct tape) and hermetically sealed the top of the feeder. I've sent Christmas presents to Tucson that weren't wrapped as tightly as I battened down that hatch. It's been six days and I have detected no breaches of seed security.

Of course it now takes 12 minutes to refill the feeder because you have to strip off the tape, lift the lid, pour in the seed and then reseal the container with fresh tape. But that's a small price to pay for victory in this particular skirmish. For those of you keeping score, it's now Humans 1, Squirrels 312.

Innkeeper David

Friday, August 6, 2010

Washington County Rhode Island County Fair Days


Are you a city kid? Are you a country kid trapped in the city? Are you a kid trapped in an adult body? You have never touched a cow or a fancy rooster? Then get your bags packed and get up to Narragansett with plans to attend a real county fair.



44th Annual Washington County Fair
August 11, 2010 - August 15, 2010
Daily 8am-11pm


Rhode Island's largest authentic county fair. Annual fair with country music concerts, a giant midway, animal shows, grange and 4H exhibits, crafts, children's games and more.

Washington County Fairgrounds, 78 Richmond Townhouse Road, Carolina, Rhode Island. Phone: 401.782.8139 Visit their official web site for more information.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why is there a fan in my bathroom?

Many guests wonder about the small fans that are running on low in their bathrooms. The fans actually serve an important function. Narragansett is a lovely beach town but often the air has a bit of moisture. It's not always felt as "humidity" but the moist air can make make it impossible for towels to dry and, even worse, encourages mildew. There is nothing Innkeeper Seely hates more than mildew. The fans increase air circulation and almost completely discourages mildew from setting up shop. This makes Innkeeper Seely and Mother Nature very happy as bleachy mildew cleaners are now rarely needed. That's what Works for me on Wednesdays and every other day of the week.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Narragansett's Most Dog friendly B&B Inn?

Blueberry Cove Inn has been pet friendly for several years now. Although the doggies are only allowed in the Hideaway Suite they have been very nice guests. (Most of their human companions were too.) We are happy to respond to suggestions to make the dogs as comfortable as their companions.

We now offer our doggie friends a few extra amenities. Dogs that like to have a crate to call their own can use ours instead of dragging their own along on vacation.

The Hideaway's private yard is not fenced so hanging out and catching the rays while their humans were at the beach wasn't really an option. We now offer a six foot by twelve foot dog run that remains partially shaded during the day for the pups that would like to be outdoors.

OK, so we may not be the most dog friendly B&B Inn Narragansett has to offer but we are sure trying to make our four legged friend feel at home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Our New Staff

As our hair has taken on strands of gray and our joints have lost flexibility, we've had the face the fact that the days of a two-person operation, where we did everything -- cooking, cleaning, front desk, laundry, accounting and yard work -- would have to become a thing of the past.

I just didn't have the energy to go mow the lawn in the cool of the early evening after cooking breakfast, working as second-floor maid, doing multiple loads of laundry and checking in new guests. So we hired a man with a riding mower to keep the grass at reasonable heights.

This year, Seely accepted the fact that the physical strain and time drain of weeding the flower beds and other gardening tasks were more than she could handle.

Human resources found us a couple of teen-age girls willing to come by once or twice a week to do the physically taxing gardening chores. They are not only the cutest landscapers in town, but hard workers who show up on time and do whatever grimy task we assign them with energy, efficiency and enthusiasm.


Annie (the tall one with the pony tail) was referred to us by the Future Farmers of America/ 4 H program at the local high school and when she realized how badly we'd let things go, she brought her friend Liz (the dark-haired one) to help out.

The only down side of the arrangement is that I have to literally bite my tongue to keep from making jokes about the fact that Annie (surname Hall) shares her monicker with the Academy Award winning film by Woody Allen. I'm sure whatever play on words I could come up with to reference the movie would be something she's heard before, numerous times.

Still, while I was out knocking cobwebs off the front porch while Annie was weeding the holly bushes yesterday, I couldn't help but wonder if the straw broom I was using would be effective in fending off a spider the size of Buick . . .

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Poetry at Blueberry Cove Inn, Narragansett RI

Like most B&Bs we have an open guest book for departing guests to leave comments. It is something we point out but never push. Some visitors pull the book off of the shelf and read it cover to cover. We look through it when we get nostalgic or need a pick me up.

Over the years we have had many little notes of praise and thanks. Some are in foreign languages, a few were little drawings, some were a huge surprise from guests that we didn't think enjoyed their stay. This weekend we got our first poem:

When looking for the perfect get-away
We know just the place for you to stay,
A delicious breakfast to start the day,
Blueberry Cove Inn, that's what we say!

You guys were Fantastic! I hope to come visit again, what fun!
Nicole and Steve


So thanks Nicole and Steve. We hope you come back again too.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blueberry Cove Inn responds to Reviews

We have had a stream of wonderful guests this year. The restaurants are getting great reviews, the beach has been fantastic, the brides beautiful, and the dog guests have been friendly. Narragansett is a great place to visit even if you don't stay with us! (That would be totally silly of course, book early and book often.)

A recent comment on Trip Advisor made all sorts of happy comments and one great suggestion, "...maybe little lotions with the other goodies in the room for those guests with sunburnt skin :o)."

Her comment sent me into a flashback to my own honeymoon when Innkeeper Dave had to spend three nights in a tub of cold water because he insisted that he "never" got a sunburn at the beach. Trust me, freshly cooked lobster doesn't put off as much heat or as much red color as he did.

Lo and behold: our in room amenity basket now includes a skin soother. As you can see from the photo, it seems to be a hit with the guests.

So, Peanuts 0612, thank you for your comments and suggestions. And I'm sure the guests that are using the spray would thank you too.

If anyone else would like to post a review, Trip Advisor and Bedandbreakfast.com are two popular sites. As always we would love to hear from you directly about ways to improve your stay.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Relaxing mornings in Narragansett


What better place to relax on a sunny morning than the porch at Blueberry Cove Inn, Narragansett, RI? Fresh coffee, a pleasant breeze, your special someone and a glider are a great way to start the day.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alf Wiedershen


After breakfast on the other morning, Seely went out to feed the birds, only to discover that one of our most cherished adornments had met a ghastly fate.

Alfie the Otter has been a part of our daily lives for more than 12 years at two different residences, in Texas and Rhode Island. The fired-clay, lifelike sea creature hung out in our garden in Houston and for the past three years has served his natural function as a water circulator in our goldfish pond.

It was somehow quite soothing to see Alfie lying on his back in the pond with the curling stream of water shooting out of the mouth of the little fish he clutched to his chest. Our feathered visitors loved to perch on him while waiting their turn at the feeders.

But on Saturday morning, we noticed that Alfie had been beheaded, his whiskered face submerged in the water several feet from his torso. Our first thought was terrorists, but after a closer examination, foul play seemed unlikely.

We concluded that after spending the last few winters trapped in ice, Alfie probably developed some cracks along the neckline. We're guessing that one of the larger visitors to our network of feeders (I'm choosing to blame the grackles) landed on Alfie's head with just the right ratio of weight/descent velocity and became the bird that broke the otters neck.

But even in distress, Alfie is still doing his job. His headless body continues to pump the water and the birds don't seem to mind his missing noggin. Maybe we should change his name to Ichabod.

Innkeeper David

Friday, June 11, 2010

Annual South County, RI Photo Contest

It doesn't matter that South County, RI is really Washington County, RI. A place this great needs multiple names. Every year our Tourism Council has a photography contest with some very nice prizes. To encourage our guests to participate we've decided to sweeten the pot: if you snap a winning photo while a guest at Blueberry Cove Inn we will add a free, one night's stay to your prize. (In the form of a gift certificate equal in value to the room you booked with some restrictions to be defined later.)

So with that lure out there, here is the official scoop lifted from the South County Tourism newsletter:

You are invited to submit photos reflecting the naturally serene beauty that can only be found in South County, which as you know, is significantly blessed by nature. Your challenge is to capture images representing 449 square miles of scenery filled with wildlife preserves, protected parks and forests that spill down to 100 miles of sandy beaches, sprinkled with 18 public golf courses and populated by those who love to live and visit the area.

With a chance to win over $1,000 in prize money, all entrants to our 9th Annual South County Tourism Council Photo Contest are encouraged to submit enticing images reflecting the beauty of our people and places within the environs of Charlestown, Coventry, East Greenwich, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Richmond, South Kingstown, Westerly and West Greenwich.

Entries are being accepted through August 12. For entry form and contest rules visit southcountyri.com or email us at www.info@southcountyri.com

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Narragansett Pier Rental Neighbor

Bikes, Kites & Skis is pedaling into Narragansett with a location at 9 Pier Market Place. Bikes, Kites & Skis offers 21-speed adult and kid bikes, hybrids, beach cruisers for rent from a few hours to a full week, with prices starting at $15. Rentals include a helmet, lock and route map. A full range of kites from beginner to advanced are available to purchase or rent for $5 or $10, with the rental fee deducted from the price of the kite. For more information call 401-619-4110 or visit www.bikes-kites.com.

This is great news for all of our guests that want to get out pedaling but don't want to drag a bike on their vacation. It also gives you new options when your companion tells you to, "go fly a kite." So be friendly, go meet the new neighbors and tell them we said, "Hi, welcome to the Pier."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Narragansett RI: Hang-over Weekend Discount

You didn't know that Weekends could have hang-overs? Oh, for sure, yeah. They get themselves all dolled up on a holiday and hang on the beach having fun with everyone that had three days off and suddenly they think the next weekend doesn't even exist! No consideration at all for a hardworking inn or B&B eagerly waiting for guests.

To try to blast the Weekend back to work we have a special offer for June 3, 4, 5, and 6, 2010. Stay one night and get the second night half price. You don't even have to stay the second night. Spend the day having fun, come back to shower and nap before heading home in the evening so you are fresh for work Monday morning.

Just reserve your room on-line and put the word "hang-over" in the special request box to get the discount. Simple, easy, fast.

Let's teach the Weekend respect for all of us that didn't get Memorial Day off.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Narragansett's Annual Golf Tournament!



Narragansett Chamber of Commerce
4TH Annual Golf Tournament
FRIDAY, JUNE 4

North Kingstown Municipal Golf Course at Quonset
(615 Callahan Road - North Kingstown)

The Itinerary:

7:30 am Registration
8:30am Shotgun Start
2pm Steak Fry

To Participate:

$125 per person
$500 per foursome
$30 steak fry only

ALL GOLFERS RECEIVE:
One round-trip ticket on the Martha's Vineyard Fast Ferry
Plus Two tickets for a Bay Lighthouse Cruise ($130 value)
Plus a Sports Beverage Cooler & Travel Mug
For Sponsorship Opportunities, click here
To Participate, click here - For More Info, click here

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Sunshine on Narragansett Town Beach

Rhode Islanders are sick and tired of the floods and rain and dreary weather of the last few days. Mother Nature relented and today was a gloriously sunny day in the mid-60's. Innkeeper David went to the beach to stretch his legs and play with our new video recorder.

video

The weekend is going to be just as beautiful. If you can't be here, we hope you have fun where ever you are.

RI Flooding: Not a problem for our guests

Rhode Island flooding has been featured on news videos recently but let me assure you that the entire state has not floated away. Narragansett and most of South County (Washington County) have started to dry out and the weekend is supposed to be warm and sunny. The spring flowers are just starting to pop out, forsythia is in early bloom and the birds have returned from their winter haunts. After the storm it could be a great weekend for beach combing.

If you plan to visit from north of Providence, get off of 95 at the 295 South exit. This will take you around all of the problem areas and put you back on 95 South just before the exit for Rte. 4. Then just follow the rest of our directions and you will be here in no time at all.

Friday, March 26, 2010

5-Star Guests

A couple of weekends ago we had a nasty March Nor'Easter in these parts, winds gusting into the 60 mph range, driving rains for nearly 48 hours and chilly temps. All the guests for the weekend canceled except a couple coming in from Brooklyn, normally a 2 1/2-hour drive. They braved the storm, but it was nearly 7 p.m. before they splashed across my parking lot.

They toweled off and then went back out into the deluge for dinner. As I was preparing to turn in at 11:30, the lights suddenly went out. After shutting down the fire alarm system, which emits a piercing warning tone when power is interrupted, I set my watch alarm for 7 a.m. Breakfast wasn't until 9:30 and that gave me time to deal with storm damage. With Seely out of town, I had my work cut out for me.

I awoke to a still blacked out household, with 4 inches of water in the basement because sump pumps run on electricity. Porch furniture was on the lawn and trash can lids were two houses up the street. Still, I was better off than my neighbors, who had a tree limb crush a parked car belonging to their tenants. I straightened up as best I could, then turned my thoughts to making breakfast without a coffee maker, oven, toaster, broiler or lights.

The baked apples with oven-browned orange french toast and grilled bacon were no longer possible. At least I could manually light the burners on the gas range, so I improvised a grapefruit, pan-fried bacon and griddle-cooked french toast menu and set to work  in a hoodie. Because the thermostats that tell the furnace when to heat up the rooms are electric, temps inside were dipping fast.

I was startled to get a knock on the kitchen door at 8:45 with breakfast only half cooked. I had been so totally focused on the power failure I had forgotten that the clocks changed to daylight saving time the night before. It was actually 9:45 and I was late providing sustenance. After apologizing, I got the couple started on the grapefruit, threw the toast on the griddle and pondered the beverage problem.

I had a kettle boiling for tea, but coffee was a greater challenge. I decided to try pouring boiling water through the grounds in the filter to see if I could make something strong enough to pass for drinkable. It was awful, but I got kind words for trying. Managed to get breakfast on the table by 10 and kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn't have to refund the cost of the second night's stay.

In a similar situation -- awful weather, no guarantee of lights, heat, or other creature comforts, an innkeeper struggling with his basic duties -- most guests would have packed it in, demanded a refund and I couldn't have blamed them. But Brad and Amy turned out to be two of those exceptional people I mentioned earlier.

After breakfast they pulled out the laptop and discussed what might be open on Sunday and how they could check who had power before leaving. Thank heaven for laptops and cell phones that can be charged with car batteries. They spent the day in Newport touring mansions with generators and ran up to Providence for dinner.

By the time they returned, power had been restored and the inn was back operating as close to normally as possible. I truly appreciated their spirit and patience. I hope they will come back to see us again when they can discover all that our area has to offer -- including sunny weather and beautiful beaches.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Innkeeper March Madness

If you aren't a basketball fan, specifically a NCAA March Madness enthralled, bracket obsessed, round-ball fixated groupie, just move on. Innkeeper Dave is infected. Fortunately like the heros in the Twilight saga the curse is not fatal and he will come back to some kind of "normal" just in time for the heart break of new Red Sox season. Today's post is his description of his day at the first round of the Eastern playoffs held on Thursday at the Dunk in nearby Providence.

Out of the House at 9:30, giving me three hours to get to Providence, find a free parking spot and stand on line or chase a scalper for a ticket. Gorgeous day, temps in the 60s, no traffic. I'm on the Broadway off ramp by 10:10 and miraculously Seely's parking pass for the Johnson & Wales faculty lot is still working. I knew there'd be a fringe benefit to sleeping with a professor somewhere down the line. Since all the garages are charging at least $20 for all day spaces, I'm already ahead of the game. The hike across downtown takes 14 minutes and I notice as I approach the Dunkin Donuts Center that there are least four outdoor vendors hawking beer within a block of the arena. Thanks, NCAA for banning beer sales on site.

At the box office by 10:35 and there is no line to speak of. Five will call windows: one for each team in the afternoon session, one for locals and one actually selling. I have two ducats (afternoon and evening session) in my hand by 10:45 at a cost of $150. They will be worth every penny. With two hours until tipoff I decide on a quick road trip over to Providence Place mall. I have to work upstream against a torrent of people with Philly accents wearing all manner of Villanova gear. I hit the CVS on level three for a package of throat lozenges (honey lemon) a roll of tums (stadium food protection) and a heat pack in case my leg swells from the cramped seating and ups and downs. (When your age reaches the speed limit you learn to anticipate disaster).

In my seat by 11:55 and I immediately take a liking to the Robert Morris (15 seed) rooting section in Secs. 105-106. Bare-chested male students with Red Rs and blue Ms painted on their chests. Females with faces painted in school colors. Middle aged folks who should know better sporting tri-cornered hats like the Colonial mascot. They were loud and they were proud. And their team gave them something to shout about. Villanova star Scottie Reynolds did not start (disciplinary issues) and the Cats looked out of synch. The Bobs maintained a small lead right up till halftime 28-22. When the stats came up on the big board I couldn't decide which was worse, that Nova had 7 field goals or just 6 rebounds. With fans filing in for the second game, the building was nearly 3/4 full, not bad for Thursday afternoon session in the Northeast.

Normally in these situations the power school gets a stern lecture at halftime, comes back on the court breathing fire and takes over the game. Nova did its part, but Bob Morris refused to fold. When their freshman point guard completed a four-point play to make it 42-34, I thought an orgy might break out in Sec. 106. I texted brother Sam: "This could happen!" But just as Villanova began to look desperate, the officials took over the game. In the final 3:57 Reynolds, who couldn't hit the water from the Riverwalk (2-for-13 from the floor) was sent to the line on FOUR straight possessions. And then things careened out of control and for the first time in 25 years I nearly got in a fist fight. The scene:

0.9 seconds to play score tied, Nova inbounding under its own basket with a chance to win. And as the ref is handing the ball to the inbounder, the Richmond fan three seats to my left decides to take a walk. I was so intent on watching the players line up and trying to anticipate the play that I didn't notice him. "Move your fat ass, buddy." I lurched to my feet and snarled "Excuse me for watching the game!" He then gave me a two-handed shove that sent me staggering into the aisle and stomped down the steps. I looked up just in time to see the inbounds lob pass glance off the fingers of an open Wildcat. Overtime!

Unfortunately Bob Morris is out of gas and Nova scores the first six to take control. With less than two minutes to go the Richmond fans returns with two hot dogs. I see him coming and am in the aisle before he gets to my seat.

"I see you learned some manners," he smirks.

"Too bad you haven't learned respect for the game," I snapped.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"No real fans goes for a dog with a team inbounding under it's own basket with .9 seconds left to win the game."

"I don't give a crap about either of these teams."

"Exactly my point."

"I ought to punch your lights out."

Whereupon a guy behind us shouts "Sit down you morons!" Richmond fan's friend grabbed his elbow and dragged him back to his seat averting further ugliness. The Bobs fought back and got the ball with 9 second to play, down three, but a desperation trifecta clanked off the back rim. Three games to go.

As I stretched my legs between games, I ran into several of the young Bob Morris fans in the halls. They were sporting a glassy-eyed stare that fell somewhere between the "my dog died" face and the "Bernie Madoff ruined my life" face. "You deserved better," I said. "The zebras stampeded you." They nodded acknowledgement, but the wound was too fresh to be salved. I made a snap decision to buy a Robert Morris T-shirt in solidarity. I always take at least one souvenir home from these things and the valiant Colonials were definitely worth a tribute. After a hot dog and a throat lozenge I was ready for Game 2: St. Mary's vs Richmond.

Clutching my NCAA bag, I decided to move a few rows back to avoid further confrontation with angry Spider-fan. But I must admit I took a perverse joy in watching his team get eviscerated by a well-coached group of Gaels. I'm a shallow, shallow man. In the first half St. Mary's center Omar Samhan put on a low-post clinic: He scored turning to the baseline, fading away, bulling into the paint, off the Kevin McHale up and under move. When they double-teamed him, he found cutters and spot-up shooters for open looks. He had 17 points in 13 minutes before picking up his third foul and sitting out the half.

He added 10 more before getting No. 4 midway throught the second stanza with the Gaels up eight. But then St. Mary's really impressed me. With the big man sitting, they completely changed their game to an open post, motion offense with back picks for baseline shooters. They nailed three after three and had the lead up to 18 before my nemesis slunk out with his tail between his legs. Omar the hoopmaker finished with 29 points and 12 boards in 28 minutes of work. Anybody who plays the Gaels is going to have to earn a W.

Because of the OT game we had a little over an hour before the evening session. Nipped over to Murphy's Irish Pub (a dive two blocks from the Journal). I was still belching hot dog so I went light with a turkey club and passed on the fries. By now I was tired of lugging the bag, so I pulled the Bob Morris T-shirt over my rugby. My seats for Session II were on the opposite side of the court, seven rows up in the second tier across from the top of the key.

I decide five minutes into the game that there's no way these small, skinny Ohio kids could hang for 40 minutes with the beefy future pros from Georgetown. I was not moved when they built a 12-point lead late in the first half. I'd been burned in my 2.5 hour relationship with Robert Morris and I wasn't ready to commit again. I did notice, however, that Ohio did have the one thing that marks a classic tournament sleeper: spectacular guard play. Their backcourt was beating the Hoyas off the dribble at will.

We were seated right above the Ohio rooting section, which meant I got a good look at the best pep squad of this regional by far. Tennessee's cheerleaders were hotter, but the Ohio girls were cute, perky and terrific at what they do. The dance routines were simple, but flawless. Everybody on beat, no wobbly knees on the pyramids, and they cheered every second except when free throws were being shot. I'll be hearing O-H-I-O in my sleep for weeks. Even the band was outstanding. By the middle of the second half I wanted to wrap them up and take them back to the inn. Wouldn't chores be more fun with a spirit squad: "Trim that hedge . . . Fold those towels . . . Flip that pancake!"

Back at the game Georgetown made a brief run to close to within eight, but back-to-back threes from Ohio's dynamic duo opened it up. Could the Bobcats do what Bob Morris couldn't? Slay the Big East behemoth? You betcha Mrs. Palin. The Bobcat backcourt (DJ Cooper and Armond Bassett) combined for 55 points on 18-29 from the field, 10-18 from three-point land. The Final was 97-83. With Notre Dame and Marquette also losing it was tough day in the Big Least.

By the time the final game started I'd had six people congratulate on how well my team (based on the T-shirt) played and how badly were were screwed by the refs. I decided to be gracious in defeat to shed the best light possible on this school I'd barely heard of until they made the tournament last year. I had a big, hot soft pretzel between games and the salt scorched my raw throat, so it was back to the lozenges before Tennessee tipped off with San Diego State. The building was close to a sellout by now, though many folks would drift away in the second half.

The game was ragged and sloppy, which is pretty much the way the Vols play. Pump up the pace and don't worry about the turnovers and airballs. They seem to take shots based on degree of difficulty. Why go straight up and release at the apex if you can double pump, contort your body and release off your left ear. But Tennessee offered one great moment moment of low comedy. Bruce Pearl coaches the Vols and his son is on the team. He plays about four minutes a half and was by far the worst player I saw on the floor yesterday. His teammates won't pass him the ball and he loves to make the false hustle play. By the middle of the second half two guys in front of me were nudging each other when he walked to the scorer's table. "Heee's baaaack."

At halftime, I check my bracket. Not too bad considering all the upsets. I had Old Dominion over ND and Murray over Vandy, and eveybody missed GTown, so no need to crumple yet. I was pissed that Marquette blew a 16-point lead. Back in my seat I had to keep checking the scoreboard. It seemed like the Vols should be up at least 10, but SDS was only down three. Too many whistles. But Tennessee's J. P. Prince won the playing possum award after he collapsed, rolled over and feigned death after being barely bumped by an Aztec. SDS kept hanging around but couldn't get over the hump. Vols 62-59.

As I hobbled across town to the car at 12:35, I reflected on the day. I had seen the biggest upset (Ohio over Georgetown), a near miss in OT (Bob Morris), dozens of alluring cheerleaders, a low post clinic, great fans (Ohio and Bob Morris), an insufferable jerk (Spider-fan), two games that went to the final possession (Villanova and Tennessee), great guard play (Ohio) and nepotism at its funniest (Steven Pearl). Not bad for $150.

Your Hoops reporter

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What is Chocolate Weekend?

A few years back we were looking for a midwinter special that might coax people to brave the elements in the Northeast and spend a couple of nights away from home.

Seely comes from a long line of chocoholics and David, who is pretty good at remembering birthdays and anniversaries, had a curious mental block when it came to Feb. 14th. He frequently needed to make amends (usually a couple of days late) which required more expansive action than a timely gesture would have.

The convergence of these two personal weaknesses led to a brainstorm a few years back to offer an event that would satisfy the strongest craving for chocolate and schedule it on the weekend of (or immediately following) Valentine's Day. Two nights in a cozy B&B with treats and desserts of all kinds seemed the perfect antidote to winter blues or forgetful lovers. That brainstorm became Chocolate Morning Noon and Night Weekend.

In addition to breakfast, on Chocolate Weekend we prepare two buffets every day:

In the afternoon (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.), we serve finger foods such as brownies, chocolate chip cookies, cream puffs, cannoli and various chocolate dipped fruits.

After the dinner hour (8 p.m. to 10 p.m.) we bring out the heavy-duty desserts, chocolate chip cheesecake, Black Forest Cake, Snickers Pie.

And if that doesn't satisy your sweet tooth, we can even offer a little extra at breakfast.  Chocolate chips instead of blueberries in your pancakes or some ganache on your French toast. We're still working on how to chocolatize the egg dishes. Mole' perhaps?

Everything we offer is cooked or prepared by us on site. Seely can't bear to even look at the oven for at least a week after the event.

And when the guests have gone, we invite our student boarders and a few neighbors in for an after-party to work on those leftovers. Anything to remove the temptation to do too much grazing ourselves.

If you have procrastinated there are a few rooms still available for this year. And it isn't too soon to plan for next year....

posted by Innkeeper David

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Storing tax records on the cheap

You would think in a house of this size there would be plenty of storage. Unfortunately, Victorians didn't really think much of closets unless they needed a place to stash my Irish ancestors (AKA, the help) over night. They liked having big flashy pieces of furniture to show off to their friends instead.

Every year I drag out our business records and prepare documents for our CPA to figure out. (She's a saint.)Then I have to save all of those documents for eternity. Well, seven years at least. We have several file cabinets chok-a-bok full of records. Each year one year's worth gets pulled out and a new year gets stored.

Y'all know you can't just toss stuff in a drawer though and expect to be able to find something the CPA wants when she calls next year. That means you have to store each year's valuables in something. Obviously every retailer in town has boxes and files galore to sell you but I am just too cheap to spend that kind of money on something that is going to sleep in a file drawer before going into the fireplace seven years from now.

My solution is to go to a Dollar Store and purchase appropriately sized gift bags with handles. One year I found wedding bags. One year it was party stripes. This year I've gone with florals. Usually I can get everything in two bags so I always buy three that match. (Better to have an extra for a gift than a mismatch in the drawer.) The matching bags help me find my files by year even if both bags don't fit in one drawer.

And that's what Works for me on Wednesdays.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Not all that long ago...

Not all that long ago we blogged three times a week whether anybody read it or not. Then December came along and two milestones disrupted our lives. Blogging, among other things, became a sporadic event.

The first milestone was Seely's entry into the academic world as a last minute Adjunct Professor at Johnson and Wales University. She was asked to teach the Small Properties Management class during the Winter Trimester. The course covers issues related to running lodging establishments between 3 and 40 rooms with emphasis on the 10-20 room inn. The class was larger than expected (36 students) and has been quite challenging at times. The class meets on Monday and Wednesday afternoons but much time is devoted to correction assignments and preparing lesson plans.

The second milestone was our decision to do some kitchen remodeling after our old stove died. This project has been put off repeatedly over the years yet materials had been collecting for it. The gutting for the flooring went quickly but the delay over the stove went on for (seemingly) forever.

We worked out a routine: Seely would go to class and Dave would destroy part of the kitchen. Seely would come home from class, compliment Dave on his work, and rebuild part of the kitchen. It was quite the system.  At this point 14 of the 16 cabinets are installed, the flooring still looks wonderful, the commercial fridge and freezer are in place, and all the other appliances have homes. The only big job left is installing the new laminate on the new counter but at least it is on order. Not a stylish space but functional and we like it.

The class? Well, they still have to turn in their group projects although most of their rough drafts show promise. There is one more paper to write. Then there is the final exam which they probably dread as much as I dread making it up. There's only a few weeks left in the trimester and a lot for all of us to learn.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Our very first Wedding!

Blueberry Cove Inn, Narragansett, RI, announces the successful completion of their very first wedding ceremony on January 9, 2010. The happy event was attended by the bride and groom, and 16 of their friends and family members. The brief nuptials were followed by a champagne toast and departure to their wedding dinner.

Best wishes to Justin and Laura


Now weddings are pretty common in Narragansett. After all, it is a beautiful town with wonderful places to hold ceremonies, receptions, and have fun in between the official events.  Certainly we have hosted many wedding groups over the years and enjoyed the variations on wedding themes. What is completely uncommon is hosting a wedding of any size here at Blueberry Cove Inn.

For years hopeful brides have contacted us about small weddings but for many reasons we refused to consider the possibilities. Suddenly last month Dave agreed to this small event without hesitation and without consulting me. I had no objections mind you, but everyone that knows Dave thought that he had lost his mind.

Would we do it again? Very possibly. If you catch Dave in the right mood. Or call back and ask for me.