What the Doctor Ordered

A RHode Island Getaway

Now that I’m better and coming off my sick-leave, I had an opportunity to travel for an impromptu getaway to Rhode Island to visit family. It seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. It also seems like I’m not ready to give up the beach combing yet — just because it’s no longer summer.

It was right after the big marketing push for announcing new designs so I knew there would still be some work to do but I relished the opportunity to relax. We had Hurricane Matthew that is brewing in the tropics on our tail. We survived a harrowing drive all night in the rain where people were using their hazards because it was so difficult to see and trucks were spaying us with tire-mist and constantly coming in our lane.

Fortunately, my husband did all the driving and made reservations at a boutique hotel in Connecticut, just outside of New York City, right off the Merritt Parkway. This meant we only had 3 more hours to drive to RI and hopefully the morning would be better.

Don’t let the name or stark location fool you but the Hi-Ho is a pretty cool place, boutique indeed with its 70’s retro styling and Andy Warhol prints and Palomino pillows in the bedrooms. Old-fashioned phones and red high-top tables set the contemporary breakfast room decor. We had one of the best continental breakfasts with one of the staff making sure everything was fresh and filled and greeting all the guests warmly.

Hi-Ho Hotel on Art Is Everywhere Hi-Ho Hotel bedroom on Art Is Everywhere

hi-ho-bathroom-feature-wall_on Art Is Everywhere

Like this one wallpapered feature wall.

There was an interesting Barcelona wine bar/ restaurant to try that was attached to the hotel but we weren’t staying for dinner. We’ll have to go back! As it turns out, I believe this  is a chain restaurant and each location may make their own unique adaptations. At least when we want our Spanish-fare fix, we can go a little closer to us in Reston, VA, but may not be as good. The one at the Hi-Ho has cabanas and their own vegetable garden and their award-winning food looks exceptional. Another reason to go back. In fact, this may be our regular pit-stop on our way to RI. I’m glad we discovered it!

hi-ho-barcelona restaurant on Art Is Everywhere

Beach + Food + Family

We weren’t expecting the weather in RI to be in the 50’s! We mostly brought short-sleeved tops but layering with sweaters and jackets kept us warm while we attempted to catch fish in the surf. Although our luck wasn’t good, the striped bass were biting as others were more lucky catching them on the beach (and throwing them back).

We tried some new places for food, like 210 Oyster Bar & Grill as well as some old favorites, like Haversham Restaurant & Tavern right off Post Road (road to the beaches).


210-oyster-bar-inside on AIE

Where we ate inside overlooking Salt Pond

210-oyster-bar-aerial on Art Is Everywhere

210-oyster-bar-outside-front on Art Is Everywhere

Front “tiki” bar to try in the summer

clam-cakes_on Art Is Everywhere

Clam Cakes!


“The Sham” as locals affectionately call it

haversham-restaurant-interior_aie haversham-about_aie

We were happy to have clam cakes in the off-season and see Green Hill in a peaceful state as all the transplanted vacationers had mostly packed up for the summer and had gone back to their other New England homes. The residents, however, and those who have long-time connections to the area were enjoying the calm. Everyone was friendly and was waving hello as almost a code that suggested we all have something in common for being here.

Here are some of the photos from our trip. Our (left) side of the beach had all the sand this time but this will change as the currents shifts from year to year.

Our sandy left side of Green Hill beach_AIE

Our sandy left side of the beach


The other — rocky and seaweed right side. Our beach usually looks like this.

Notice this change as you turn the corner on AIE

You notice this change as you turn the corner. (Photo Credit – The Rev. Peter Spencer)

Algae covered rocks on AIE

Algae covered rocks (at low tide) harbor lots of wildlife

mussels-and-snails on Art Is Everywhere

Mussels and Snails

One of our favorite days was the very last, when we spent time walking in the Trustom Pond Wildlife Refuge. It’s right next door to these beach properties, which is wonderful that is protected from being developed and serves as a safe haven for many wildlife. In the summer, a big part of the beach is closed off in an attempt to protect the nesting grounds of the piping plover.

Trustom Pond on Art Is Everywhere

Right as we started walking on the first path by the field that leads you to the pond, we saw a bobcat — first time! Initially we thought it was a dog. It was sitting on the path looking at something (probably for dinner) in the clearing. Another couple coming our way walked around the corner and scared it but didn’t even realize it was a bobcat. They thought the strap on our binoculars was a leash and therein the bobcat was a dog. It simply turned around and walked into the woods. It was not very afraid but we picked up a large stick as we continued on our way.

One of our favorite spots walking back is the lily pad pod. This is where Peter caught a bullfrog and pretended to kiss it when our boys were younger. They were grossed out!

lily-pad-pond on Art Is Everywhere

Frogs are everywhere on AIE

Frogs are everywhere you look

Frogs are everywhere 2 on Art Is Everwhere

This time, we saw a beaver!

See the beaver in trustom pond on AIE

See the beaver?!

The pictures reflect for me the magic a much-needed break can bring. Getting back to Nature, sharing meals and the importance of spending quality time with family all leave lasting, life-sustaining memories.

Beautiful Skylit Boulders on Art Is Everwhere

Beautiful Skylit Boulders

Pear cherry tomatoes from our roof top garden to share on AIE

We shared our pear-shaped cherry tomatoes from our roof top garden.

Bird imprints left lasting impressions on window on AIE

Bird imprints left lasting impressions on the beach house window


Seeing this mention of a documentary about “A Man Named Pearl” about Pearl Fryar, a self-taught topiary artist, and a modern-day Edward Scissorhands, got me thinking of the wonderful and magical visits my family and I took to several topiary gardens. Watching the trailer is inspirational, particularly the philosophy of the film, regarding overcoming obstacles. It’s now on my short lists of films to see.

A Man Named Pearl. Photo by Shadow Distribution via Washington Post

The most recent topiary gardens that we visited was Green Animals Topiary Gardens in Portsmouth Rhode Island, my husband’s home state. We wanted to check out our sons’ sister school, Portsmouth Abbey right down the road, at the time when they were attending St. Anselm’s Abbey School.

Side note: here’s an illustration I did as a gift and thanks to the school before our sons graduated and left St. Anselm’s, a school we still strongly support.

St. Anselm\'s Abbey School Illustration by C. Ashley Spencer

Green Animals photo via the Photo Garden Bee

This is the oldest topiary garden in the United States and has somewhat of a cottage style feel in comparison to Ladew Gardens, the other topiary gardens that we last visited in 1994. I think we need to go back. Here are some pictures we took — before the digital age, so I had to search and scan.

Ladew Gardens. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer/ArtIsEverywhere blog

Ladew Gardens2. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer/ArtIsEverywhere blog

The boys, now men in my life:

Ladew Gardens3. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer/ArtIsEverywhere blog

Ladew Gardens4. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer/ArtIsEverywhere blog

I love this last picture of my now 17 year old son, Jackson. What a cutie, boy I miss those days….

The Hunt Topiary scene via Ladew Gardens website

There is a lot of humor and each garden radiating off the middle fountain/ field has a theme – well worth visiting again and not too far from us, just outside Baltimore, MD.

Stop Making Sense

Yeah, I know this is an old song by The Talking Heads, but I just have to add a little revelation that I just discovered while on my recent trip to Rhode Island.

I was talking with one of my digital pre-press gurus, Phil, who went to school at RISD, where David Bryne (lead singer of The Talking Heads also went to school), about things to do in Rhode Island. We come up here every year to spend time with my in-laws, so for more than 20 years, I thought I knew almost everything there might be to do here, especially in this small state. However, I’m open minded enough to realize that there’s always more to discover. Phil asked me if I had tasted a “gagger”? Not knowing what that was, he went on to explain, it’s a type of weird hot dog, in that the ends have been cut off, the buns are a strange size and there is this secret meat sauce with raw onions served on top — why it’s called a gagger. It’s really called a New York System by the locals, so my in-laws tell me. Typically when ordering these gaggers, the server lines them up on one arm and fills them with all the toppings. This is the same chopping down the arm movement that David Byrne was referring to in his music video for Stop Making Sense.

New York System via Quahog.org

David Byrne, Stop Making Sense

I never knew that and always wondered why. Now I know. Strange uncanny connections are always out there….and just in time to Kick Start Your Weekend.

Hysterical video…Those shoulder pads bring back bad 80’s nightmares.  I had never seen this whacky interview, so David Byrne (back then). I guess, he’d get a gagger to eat…

Click here for a more recent interview with David Byrne to learn about his latest creative process.

David Byrne from the Telegraph.UK

Here’s a link to my other posts regarding David Byrne. I find him intriguing. I love that Toe Jam video — another one for the weekend.

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