Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sights ~ The Seal House ~ Roger Williams Park ~ Providence

We've been to Roger Williams Park on several occasions. It's one of our favorite outdoor places.

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Near the Casino, on Roosevelt Lake, sits a small, charming stone building.
Seal House, Roger Williams Park by I {heart} Rhody

We'd wondered what it was for the longest time, and why it had been allowed to fall into such disrepair. You can see near the chimney the sorry state of the roof.

Seal House, Roger Williams Park by I {heart} Rhody

The windows are boarded up and it has a general look of neglect, complete with graffiti.

Roger Williams Park

As lovers of small houses, Bear and I wondered if it might be a caretaker's cottage, and speculated on what it looked like inside. We also dreamed of what it might be like to fix it up and live in it.

It wasn't until the Providence Preservation Society released its 2012 list of 10 Most Endangered Properties that I learned the building's original purpose: it was a seal house.

Built in 1938 as part of the Works Progress Administration project, the building and that section of Roosevelt Lake housed seals. I don't know what it might have looked like 74 years ago, but today it's sad to think of seals being stuck in that sad, dank end of the lake. According to the PPS, it was just one of three buildings created to house animals during the WPA project. The other two housed monkeys and elephants.

The zoo consolidated all its animals in the 1970s, and since then the seal house has sat abandoned. I hope it lasts until economics allow it to be restored.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Food ~ Purple Pear of Providence

Rhode Island's fattiest food...New York System Weiners?

Events ~ Craftopia, Pawtucket

Artists ~ Matthew Johnston ~ Narragansett

Artist’s name: Matthew Johnston
Business name: Photography By Matthew Johnston
Location: Narragansett, RI

1. Tell us about your work
I am an outdoor digital photographer who specializes in fine art. Most of my work reflects the beauty of the northeast USA.

2. How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter?
Time and dedication. To me, if something is worth doing, it's worth overdoing. Growing up in a beach house in Connecticut, I would often find myself staring at gorgeous landscapes and seascapes thinking to myself, "That would make a great photo." in 2007 I got tired of wishing I knew about photography; so I started teaching myself the basics with a point and shoot. Needless to say, I quickly developed an addiction and have been pushing my skills and knowledge forward ever since.

3. Where do you draw your inspiration?
I draw inspiration from natural beauty, the Bible, and other great photographers around the world. I have been fortunate to meet and work with professionals across the nation and the UK.
Heaven's Hour by MattJohnston401 via I {heart} Rhody

4. What’s your favorite item to make?
With all the mediums out there for photographers these days, it's hard to pick a favorite, but I must say I'm a sucker for canvas wraps. I've printed on metal and a wide range of professional photo papers, but nothing looks quite as impactful as a nice giclee gallery wrap.

Twenty by MattJohnston401, via I {heart} Rhody

5. What’s your best seller?
To be honest I don't really have a "Best Seller." If I ask 10 different people what their favorite photo is, I'll get 10 different answers. But that's one of the things I love about my work.

6. How long have you been in Rhode Island?
I've been living in Rhode Island for the past 8 years, and I grew up in East Lyme CT.

7. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island?
I love the communities in Rhode Island. There are so many artists and crafters here that it's hard to not be inspired by others. I also love the islands and coastline. I grew up on the water in CT so RI still feels like home to me.

This too shall pass by MattJohnston401 via I {heart} Rhody

8. Please include anything else you’d like to add:
All of the work on my site is available for purchase. I offer standard matte paper prints starting with 8x12 sizes. I also provide (and recommend) limited edition giclee gallery wraps. I'm also available for commercial projects and my work can be found in boutiques, hotels, and art galleries throughout Rhode Island!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book review ~ Kids Make it Better, Suzy Becker

Doing good ~ Jerry the Bear

Milestones ~ 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Speech in Providence

Dining ~ Andino's Restaurant, Providence

RISD Alumni Spring Art Sale
Roger Williams Park
Jerry the Bear

written, appropriately, by the Bear

image: Jerry the Bear

Jerry the Bear, as founded by Aaron Horowitz and co-founded by Hannah Chung, is an adorable and informative companion for children with Type 1 Diabetes. Designed for these children, who aren’t allowed to touch their own medical equipment, Jerry features several ‘injection sites,’ a glucose display panel, eyes and a mouth that blink, and most importantly, a plush body just like that of any teddy bear.

Jerry is mostly geared towards kids ages 3-4, who are just beginning to understand their disease and need help coping. The goal for Jerry’s playmates is to keep him healthy with insulin injection and lots of food made specially for him, while monitoring that health, and to learn just how important it is to take regular insulin injections. Hannah and Aaron are trying to work on a Jerry that is more durable, since the children tend to enjoy throwing him about as young people tend to.

image: Design for America
Aaron, a mechatronic user-interaction designer, and Hannah, a mechanical engineer, both know what it’s like to be confused and concerned about Diabetes. Aaron himself has a Human Growth Hormone Deficiency and had to receive daily injections for four years. Hannah’s father and grandparents have Type 2 Diabetes, and after her grandfather died from hyperglycemia, Hannah gained a new appreciation for being compliant to treatment policy. Together, they hope to minimize the inevitable trauma experienced by children who are given daily shots of insulin.

Friday, May 18, 2012

And the winner is...

From the I {heart} Rhody Flickr group

Another beautiful spring sunset over Narragansett Bay.
Another beautiful spring sunset over Narragansett Bay. by robert.rinkel

Under Sail
Under Sail by robtm2010

Fine Family!
Fine Family! by R Joanne

From a Guy's Yard in E. Providence, Rhode Island #20
From a Guy's Yard in E. Providence, Rhode Island #20 by MyDay247

I-Way project
I-Way project by provbenson2009

Bus tunnel
Bus tunnel by kobrienjewelry

020612-130 by jwessel

Trees by Jerri Moon Cantone

 Warren RI church
Warren RI church by jambori39

sillouhette by Carly Sabatino

Betsy Williams Cottage in Winter
Betsy Williams Cottage in Winter by BarbaraS2009

DSC_1847 by dadofliz

Good Morning
Good Morning by E Godfrey

IMG_3060.2 by Amy Martira Photography

McFadden's by GoProvidenceRI

Roger Williams park Arboretum
Roger Williams park Arboretum by mary jane 43

Pink + Yellow
Pink + Yellow by martha_jean

Barracks have seen better days
Barracks have seen better days by MackayPhotography

Frosty by markv20

Conimicut Point
Conimicut Point by Lea Zimany

The Inn on Castle Hill
The Inn on Castle Hill by MattJohnston401

Disneyland in Providence
Disneyland in Providence by Mycophagia

Sunflowers in the Sun - East Greenwich, Rhode Island
Sunflowers in the Sun - East Greenwich, Rhode Island by misterfoto

Woonsocket Building
Woonsocket Building by Mr. Ducke

White Tail Deer
White Tail Deer by mike_dooley

Sachuset Point
Sachuset Point by Royston_Kane

Providence35 by

Going for a hike
Going for a hike by siriusthinking

No, He didn't fall.....
No, He didn't fall..... by Wilks2010

Steve Jobs [PA080528]
Steve Jobs [PA080528] by Rick Payette

FIRE in the sky
FIRE in the sky by wildiris

Untitled by Paul Shelasky

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sights ~ Nathanael Greene Homestead ~ Coventry

Nathanael Greene Homestead
50 Taft St.
Coventry, Rhode Island

image: Nathanael Greene Homestead
Since May 4 was Rhode Island Independence Day, Bear and I decided to take in the commemoration at Nathanael Greene Homestead. For those who don't know, Nathanael Greene was a General in the Revolutionary War. Although self-taught in military practice - and a Quaker - his talent brought him to the position of General Washington's right-hand.

Before the war, Nathanael Greene, his wife Caty and their children lived in the house, near the family's forge. Because he was self-taught, Greene insisted on teaching the workers' children to read. And so the place was called "Spell Hall."

Spell Hall
For the Rhode Island Independence Day celebration, General Greene (center, wearing the original Kentish Guard uniform, modeled after the British uniforms of the day) and two Rhode Island troops guard the door.

We took a tour of the interior, and learned a lot about General Greene, and even more about Caty, who led just as interesting a life.

As we mentioned before, General Greene was a Quaker. Or he started as a Quaker, until he was invited to leave because of his service in the army, which is called being "read out of meeting." So his taste ran to the plain and functional.

Spell Hall

We started the tour in what would have been the dining room. The guide was quick to point out that almost nothing was original to the room, with the exception of the tea samovar on the sideboard. This was a wedding gift to Caty.  We heard often about how Caty was a bit of a "tomboy" and a "flirt." Bear and I both came to the conclusion that those were 18th-century euphemisms.

Spell Hall

The connecting room contained a painting of Gen. Greene, as well as a photo of the last Greene to live in the house.

Spell Hall

and across the hall we saw Gen. Greene's library. Note the lack of shelves... this is because books were so precious, they were kept in trunks. Greene's servants were instructed that if the house caught fire, they had to throw the trunks of books out the window before they could run for safety.
Spell Hall Gen. Greene's desk

In the kitchen we get a better sense of the Quaker decorating sensibility. Everything is very plain, and the walls are white (though that was also to increase the light in the room.)
Spell Hall kitchen

Upstairs, the larger bedroom belonged to Caty. The guide pointed out a chair, mostly hidden behind the bed, that was the only piece original to the house.
Spell Hall

General Greene's bedroom was adjoining. It eventually became the bedroom of one of his female successors, and is designed to reflect her tastes. We were also told that it has much more furniture than would have been present in Greene's time.
Spell Hall

And across the hall from there, one would have thought we found the children's bedroom. Our guide explained that after the General left for the war, his brother and sister-in-law came to stay, ostensibly to help Caty with the children. The ulterior motive was to prevent any impropriety, since Caty, as we know, was a flirt. I wonder if Caty knew about that.

Spell Hall

The final second-floor bedroom has been converted to a small gift shop. There's a third floor, however it's a garret, only accessible via a terribly narrow spiral staircase. It leads up to what would have been the servants and slaves quarters, and opens into the kitchen, two of the bedrooms and the downstairs hall. I wonder how Greene reconciled keeping slaves with his Quaker beliefs. Perhaps the same way he did with joining the Army. Hmm.

There's a good sized family cemetery in the back, a bit of a walk away from the house. Since Spell Hall was used as a hospital during the Revolution, there is a cemetery for the strangers who came there, situated beside the family one.

Both Nathanael and Caty deserve their own posts, but suffice to say that they led interesting lives. Believe it or not, it sounds like Caty's was moreso than Nathanael's.

It's definitely worth the tour, especially with a guide as knowledgeable as ours was. A real and valuable piece of Rhode Island history.

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