Coffee Break

It’s said that Rhode Island is the birthplace of the diner, and the Liberty Elm keeps the tradition alive. I’m between Warwick and Providence today, so I get to stop off on Elmwood Ave.

Today there’s lime and coconut muffins ( for some reason that rings a bell with me) that are really good grilled with butter. It looks like it’s going to pour any minute, but when the sun comes back out the Liberty will have outdoor dining, with a scenic view of the train tracks out back and the RIPTA bus depot across the street.

Support your locals, folks.

Live at the Liberty

So Many Opinions, So Little Time

Lots of running around with NPR 1290 on the radio– not so much paying work. I’ve got to do something about that, but I love what I’m doing. The more I learn about navigating the tangled mess of the various insurances– fiendishly complicated codes and requirements invented by bored office workers who wish they were nurses and want to punish us for having a fun job– the more material I will have for my novel. Whenever I get an idea for one and have time to take another writing class. Maybe I’ll stick to short stories.

I have been watching the Fukushima disaster, and want to write more about that, but locally a lot is happening. The Providence Police did fine work in getting the evidence for a conviction in a human trafficking case. ‘Closing the loophole’ will not accomplish this without political will and a real mission to stop trafficking, but so far, so good.

I have the front page of The Journal from a few days ago, with a picture of the Tea Party rally attended by, among others, a row of citizens in wheelchairs. Since my livelihood is serving the needs of the elderly and disabled, using gummint money, I’m wondering what direction they want for our health care system.

Nationally, the Ryan plan to replace Medicare with vouchers sounds a little like a Bush-era system where the government-funded student loan program was infested with middlemen who skimmed money and charged huge interest rates on young people just out of school. That was reformed, so more of the money goes to students. Inviting middlemen to profit from insuring elders sounds great for business, so I expect the billionaire base to come out in support. Gummint bad. Privatization good. That settles it.

Finally, the Liberty Elm is selling a lemon zest coffee cake that is very good grilled. The Cranston Urban Pond Procession is being planned to march again this year. And it’s not really that cold out today.

Live at the Liberty

Judy, concierge and cook extraordinaire, may be the star chef tomorrow. Today the word is that there is a run on chocolate chip muffins.

The inch of snow we were promised looks like about three and fluffy on the sidewalks, slushy on the roads. Coming north up Elmwood it looked like the Providence side had 2 lanes plowed vs 1 lane in Warwick, but it’s messy and slow all over.

Parking? Fuggedaboutit. I saw a man riding his bike in the unplowed lane. The sidewalks were buried a week ago. It would be nice to have a snow day once in a while, but too much of a good thing… Back to work, or no check.

Christmas Story

Discriminating Kmareka readers may have read Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. If you’re from the Blue Persuasion you might have noticed that Scrooge was calculating lost productivity/profit vs the fact that making Bob Cratchit work on Christmas would have cost him social capital. But tormenting Bob cost Scrooge nothing, and might give him leverage to extract some more unpaid overtime. Have any Kmareka readers ever worked for Scrooge?

If so, they will enjoy this Christmas story…

Britain may be in the grip of a nasty cold snap, but it’s business as usual at The Raven Inn. The workers have a big stake in keeping the pub going come rain, shine, sleet, or snow: They’re among a group of local volunteers who took over the inn after it closed at the height of Britain’s credit crunch.

The 290-year-old Raven Inn is the only watering hole in this tiny Welsh village nestled in the Clwydian Hills. Villagers were aghast when the owner put the property on sale for redevelopment – a cool-headed calculation that rising costs and a dwindling population of just 600 made it viable as a pub no longer.

It’s really sweet, read the rest here.

This reminds me of the Providence Community Library. The network of neighborhood libraries had been facing threats of cuts every year. The poorest neighborhoods were always first on the list. The places where the torch of literacy (it’s on their seal) would burn the brightest– well, budget cuts, you know. And when this happened the neighborhoods would rise up and keep the doors open another year.

The Providence Community Library is a lovely Christmas story, that I would cut and paste if I could find it on Google. But I might have to send a Christmas card to my misanthropic friend, who donated many hours of skilled unpaid labor to making the Washington Park branch a neighborhood library once again. And kids get on her nerves.

What is the value of unpaid labor?

I was at a work Christmas party, and my boss was saying that feminism created a demand that ‘women do it all’. She works very hard, as a small-business owner and mother. But I wouldn’t turn the clock back to the time when a competent businesswoman would have to prove every minute that she was worthy to compete in the working world. Yeah, we’re tired, but our mothers didn’t have any free ride either.

Their labor wasn’t recorded on a time card or rewarded with a paycheck, but now we know. Volunteerism and domestic work has a cash value. It can re-open the doors of a library and keep a 300 year old pub from turning into a Mickey D’s.

It’s not a just a sentimental story. You have to lean on some politicians and put some teeth into it. My street will lose a greenhouse and gain a U-shaped drive-through if we don’t play our cards right.

No one listens to a few cranks. If, on the other hand, citizens united against the force of Citizens United, we might have a chance at making a world where we are not consumers, but citizens, with all the rights and responsibilties that brings us.

Merry Christmas, and support your local businesses.

Lunch at the Liberty

Heard they had a break-in last week, but the diner is open, the tables are full, and the special is the Bellissimo Burger, which I can recommend without reservations.

Also, all the desserts are negative-calorie, so don’t eat them unless you want to lose weight.

Okay, I made that up. All the desserts are so good you will not regret eating them. It’s good to be jolly this time of year.

Live From the Liberty

The Liberty is now boasting a new sign by Brent Batchelder that is a work of art in itself. The Liberty will be the featured diner on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network tonight at 11. The mood of the day is ‘cautiously optimistic. But it’s almost closing time. Stop in at 7am Tues-Fri and the mood will be sunny side up.

Sebastian Ruth, founderof Community Music Works on Westminster St., just got a MacArthur genius grant. Congratulations, local boy!

Nicole is the fourteenth named storm of the season, but from where I sit the coast is clear. Better get back to work now.

Party at Everyman

Rhode Island, birthplace of the diner, is going nationwide this Monday, February 22.

Everyman Bistro will host a viewing party, starting at 8:30, to celebrate the appearance of the Libery Elm Diner on The Food Network at 10:00pm.

Music will be provided by The Killdevils, Lucky 57, and Mark Cutler and Friends. I count myself as one of Mark Cutler’s friends. Though I’m not a musician I love listening to him.

Details and directions are here.