Happy Birthday Kea! And bye-bye TV & (anti-)social media.

Today is Kea’s birthday!  I’ve decided to celebrate with her by getting out of this stupid, pointless social media rat race I’ve mired myself in for the past few years.

I am done.  Done with tons of email that is occasionally useful.  Done with the barrage of self-help courses that don’t help but only tell you that other people are more successful than you because you don’t work hard enough on the “right” things. I’m done with social media that isn’t social at all, just a volcano of petty resentments that periodically flares up to smite the innocent and the guilty alike.  I don’t need it.  I don’t want it.  Feel free to spam my inbox until it explodes – I’m not reading it.  It now auto-forwards to trash.

I’m pulling my head out of this social media nightmare where everything you think and say has to be profanely criticized by some sophomoric teen with delusions of importance.

I’m done with 25 minute television commercial marathons.  I’ve turned it off.  Your one hour shows that really last only 35 minutes and actually only have 22 minutes of content – gone.

However, I am not pulling out of my responsibilities as a citizen of this country.  I’m just not listening, watching, or falling for the sleight of hand political maneuvering that is going on now.  You know, where the press is led off into week-long apoplexy over some outrageous statement, while no one is reporting the fallout from the repeal or rewrite of legislation designed to protect us from mistakes we made in the past.  I’m not buying into having knee jerk reactions from reporters who aren’t smart enough to realize they are being jerked around.

I’m going back to long walks on the beach, working out at the gym, and talking to real people.  I’m up for quiet dining in nice restaurants with people I like.  I’m listening to good music on my stereo instead of twenty minutes rants by half educated DJ’s – who only know their half of any story, and haven’t seen the other side of anyone’s point of view since 2004 – if ever.

I’m going back to basic housework.  I’m doing some fun yardwork.  I’m saying hello to my neighbors.  I’m picking up the trash that’s littered my lawn and my street.

I’m cleaning up my life.

And, with all this new spare time I’ve gained from rejecting the hype, I’m going to try new things, be happier, and accomplish more of the things that matter.

Yup, going to be a great day.  Think I’ll start by playing with the dog.  She hasn’t gotten enough attention in a long time.  And she deserves the attention more than the media crap going on around me lately.

ps. To all the “news reporters” who seem to have forgotten their Journalism 101 classes. A quick reminder.  Who, What, Where, When, and Why.  These questions are the essence of journalistic reporting.  State the facts, skip the opinions, and never speculate.  If you aren’t reporting the facts, (and just the facts,) you are practicing propaganda – not journalism.   Duh.

 

David Dougher – author, ballroom dance instructor, computer consultant, game designer, and odd fellow.
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Food Review – Mae’s Place

8230 Post Road
North Kingstown, Rhode Island

Mae’s Place is small cafe located on the junction of Route 1 and 1A (or Post Road and West Main Street curve for those of you who are local.) Mae’s serves breakfast and lunch in a clean, cozy atmosphere.  They open promptly at 6:30 and close at 2:30.  There is ample parking but getting into and out of the lot can require a tiny bit patience when the Post Road traffic is heavy.

The restaurant is small, but well laid out.  There is a glass counter to the right for quick take out. It also does a brisk business.

Already, even though it is the off-season, Mae’s is already building a loyal clientele.  The place is immaculate and brightly lit.  The service is open and friendly.

The waitstaff is happy, friendly, and knowledgeable.  The portions are generous and are freshly made.  Food here is solid and even the weekly specials are intended to leave you happy and full rather than simply being “catchy”.  Food delivery is very fast considering the kitchen is small. Food arrives cooked to your requirements and hot.  Kudos to the cooks in the back.

This is a family place, not a “tie and tails” place.  Casual is the norm.

The restaurant is handicap accessible.  There is a concrete ramp leading to the main door.

The prices are reasonable and the weekly menu has a number of interesting choices if you want to try something a little bit off the beaten path.

For example, I found the Caramel Apple Belgian Waffle quite tasty.  A combination of flavors excellently blended without any one becoming overpowering (which the caramel has a tendency to do.) The apples were not bitter and not overcooked to mush.

A couple of other things to keep in mind.

For those who are Rhode Islanders, Mae’s has johnnycakes.  I took along a couple of locals who were both pleased with the offering.  Next, Mae’s has hash browns as an option instead of home fries.  I tend to avoid the extra carbs from home fries, but I rationalize like crazy to justify good hash browns.  Mae’s are very good.

Finally, buy a muffin – or six.  At the risk of losing my supply, they have a wonderful raspberry and white chocolate muffin which could easily substitute as a dessert on its own. Mae’s does not skimp on the size or the taste.

So for a good solid breakfast or lunch in a clean atmosphere visit Mae’s.
They’ll be happy to see you, and you’ll be happy you went.

Keeping The Promise That Mattered

It was over five and a half years ago.  Deb and I had just been given the news that she had four, perhaps five years to live.  (We actually had much less, but did not know it.) We were riding home in the car trying to digest the news when she said, “I wonder if anyone will even remember me in four years?”  (She always went with the low number, being a realist.  I, being the optimist, insisted on five.)

“I will,” I said.

She squeezed my hand and said nothing.  I knew she felt that much of her life was wasted, that she had made little lasting impact in the world.

Well today marks the fourth anniversary since she was taken from us.

This year, her mother and I went to the awards ceremony where the scholarship in her name was given to a lovely girl who wants more than anything to dance.

The historical photography project she worked so hard to complete went up on display at a prominent Rhode Island College.  Parts of it will become the posters for future Dance Alliance advertising to promote dance and the arts.

This year I was given a DVD by two of her students showing their winning routine in a Dancing with the Stars contest. The dance was dedicated to her.

The list of her former students who still tell me of lessons they learned from her goes on year after year.

I still get calls on a weekly basis from people who use her riDance website, despite its age.

I meet weekly with many of her favorite students in the classes I now teach, and at local watering holes and, of course, at dances.

So, Deb, I finally won an argument with you.

In time we will all be forgotten, the great, the not-so-great, the famous, and the infamous.  But, not today.  Today, four years later, I still remember.  And so do many, many others.

My life, and theirs, goes on.  We grow and we change. I’ve become the writer we always discussed, and I’ve added new friends and new students. I’m moving forward.

But, we are all better for having spent part of our lives with you.

So, I’m off to a dance now.  It’s what I do.

Breakfast Reviews

For the past several months I have been doing reviews of the places I like to go for breakfast.  Like all good things I was bound to run out.  It’s not that there aren’t other excellent places for breakfast in the South County area.  It’s simply that these are all the ones I normally go to.

So, I have to make a choice.  I can move on to doing other kinds of food reviews – lunch, brunch, dinner. I could expand to a wider area – which would involve a lot of extra driving.  I could ask you for places that I haven’t tried and then go there.  Or I could simply stop here.

It has been fun, but I wouldn’t want to continue by recommending places I don’t think people would like.  And I don’t think you or I would get much out of dissing a restaurant in a review.  That’s not what I am about.

So, for this week, no recommendations.

I’m open to suggestions.  Got a place you would like me to try?  Think I should shift to lunch or dinner reviews?  Time to retire?  Speak up.  I’ll announce the decision next week.

 

Food Review – Aunt Carries

Aunt Carrie’s Seafood Restaurant

1240 Ocean Rd,
Narragansett, RI 02882

Not exactly breakfast, they typically don’t start serving until 11, but you have to mention them…

Aunt Carrie’s is a seasonal dining hotspot located near Point Judith very close to the ocean. Locals and vacationers have long crowded in during the summer for it’s excellent seafood  brunch, lunch and  dinners.  Not to mention the huge variety of pies they offer.

The building is a low single story affair with little parking. Locals will often park behind the ice cream store across the street (which is owned by the same people who run the restaurant.)

The entryway is wide enough for a wheelchair and, except for a small bump at the front door access is pretty easy.

Aunt Carries does not claim to be animal friendly, but people often buy from the open front booth area and then eat outside at the picnic tables in the back or across the street.
The food is very good, especially the seafood. The atmosphere is family friendly, not fine dining. You won’t find many suits at Aunt Carries, and you may find more than a few bathing suits outside.

I actually spent a good part of last summer trying each of the pies they offer and I found them all to be very good. The crust tends to be a bit doughier, mainly due to the fillings, so if you are expecting a light and flaky crust you might be a bit disappointed. You shouldn’t be disappointed by the taste, the size, or the quality of the ingredients in any of their meals.

Fish and seafood is fresh, and the batters are crispy. Meals are served quickly and the waitstaff is friendly and chatty.

Mark this one as another fun summer find and remember to save room for dessert.

Food Review – Tree House Tavern and Bistro

The Tree House Tavern and Bistro

1094 Centerville Rd..
Warwick, RI 02886
Please note address correction above.

The Tree House Tavern in Warwick does a booming business in the evening.  Which is why it is such a delight to visit early in the day for breakfast.  You can generally get in and seated right up to lunch with little waiting.

The Tree House has a fun atmosphere and as the weather warms up so do the options you can enjoy.  In winter you are typically limited to the main building – a collection of rooms of various sizes that you can dine in.  If you call ahead you can arrange to have your favorite.

But with the warmer weather the gardens begin to bloom (the bistro was a garden shop in a former life) and you can eat outdoors.

Outdoors, there’s a bit of bustle from the street, but it is easily ignored.  The parking area is adequate and very easy to navigate in the early morning.  There is even a traffic light to let you exit back onto the busy street.  The entryway is flat and handicapped access is easily possible.  There is a bathroom on the floor with a wide door as well.  Outdoor dining means that your pooch could come along, but check with the management about their policies.

Indoors you realize that things here are a bit… different.

I first visitied around St. Patrick’s Day and I entered to find an eight foot tall yellow stuffed camel with a green fedora on his head and a pair of bongos lodged between his humps.  There was Celtic music playing in the background. Later, outside the window by the small table where I was dining I could see a grey squirrel giving my meal the eye.  He’d climbed up a nearby tree to watch.

Feel free to “go walkabout” in the restaurant.  There are a several cozy rooms to visit and when you think you have seen them all a new one pops up.  No going upstairs or out into the kitchen, of course. The different sizes allow you to have groups of diners gathered for meetings or just a quiet meal.

Looking around the main dining area is a treat, with an odd collection of items hanging on the walls.  I personally loved the collection of old saws artfully arranged in an arc on the second floor wall.

Dining is confined to the first floor and the outside areas.  The covered open tool storage area with its giant picnic table makes it an interesting choice.  The actual treehouse (yes they have one) is off limits to diners but it’s low enough to the ground that a tall person could let a small person take a peek inside.

The food here is very good.  I went with traditional fare, but I’ve come back a couple times to begin working my way through several of the apple dishes that fill out the menu.  If you want an early morning mimosa or hangover cure they also have a fully stocked bar.

This is Rhode Island and seafood is a must try – even for breakfast.  I’ve had both the new England Benny with lobster, asparagus and hollendaise, and the smoked salmon Benedict.  Both were very good.  I’m also up for the Apple Pie French Toast, especially in October when apple season is in full swing.

I must also add that I had a very pleasant time chatting with the owner, a freindly sort with a wry sense of humor and a great attitude about his business and his life.

So for a fun time year round, and excellent food and service try the Tree House Tavern and Bistro in Warwick.

 

 

 

Food Review – Wood River Inn – Bar and Restaurant

The Wood River Inn

1139 Main St.
Wyoming, RI 02898

The people who stay at the Wood River Inn are winners every morning.  Tucked away in a separate area behind the bar is a lovely spot where they can enjoy a quiet meal, in a relaxed, pleasant atmosphere and converse on the days events.  The food is quite good and the locals have been slipping in for breakfast for a very long time.

This would be a good place for a quiet meeting in the morning for a small group.  The coffee is good, the service is discreet, with suitable lulls in service for you to appreciate the quiet and the food.  The hardwood decor provides a relaxing atmosphere.

A sport jacket would not be out of place, but neither would a plaid workshirt.  This is not fine dining – at least for breakfast – but it would be a nice surprise place to take a date early in the morning on a weekend for a bit of conversation and planning of the days events.

Hint: Park in the back and enter from the rear of the building, rather than trying to find street parking,  There is a narrow driveway to the left of the building and a reasonable parking area in the back.

No sign of animals here, but there is access for the handicapped in the back and the doors are wide enough to admit a wheelchair.  It’s a bit tight though.  Once inside there is good space to maneuver.

The menu featured online does not show any of the breakfast offerings, but you can expect standard choices with an occassional surprise.  Eggs, bacon, home fries, toast are all well done and backed by a good cup of coffee.

Afraid you won’t find fifiteen types of omelettes, or a generous selection of toppings for your Belgian waffle.  This is more traditional New England food, farm fresh, and appetizing.  It is simple, filling, and  served in a quiet atmosphere.

It’s a lovely change of pace.

So, if you are out in the wilds of Wyoming look for the Wood River Inn and give it a try.  It’s a bit of quiet to start your morning.