Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Like "Painting in a Cloud"

The weather pattern has been bizarre during July. Morning clouds give way to afternoon sunshine. Sometimes evening brings great sunsets, which I can only imagine must be wonderful viewed from Duck Harbor Beach. Today a fine mist drizzled its way into my consciousness as I went about my garden chores, watering, deadheading, clipping here and there. People exclaim over my garden, but I know how much nicer it could be had there been rain. Perhaps the rain will come Friday night, eve of the Pan Mass Challenge?

We have a resident artist for a few days. Yesterday she went downtown and chatted with gallery owners. They told her artists enjoy painting Wellfleet because of the light. She was up early today, painting our house. How surprised the folks in the cottage were to see an easel in the yard! The cottage guests are Cahoon Hollow addicts. They spend every possible moment at the beach, dressed in Cahoon Hollow T-shirts and caps. So far, their week on Cape Cod has not offered ideal beach weather, compared to past years. Luckily, the weather is going to improve. We chatted before they headed out.

Meanwhile the artist was still painting, and I went back to tending the garden as the fog rolled in. She said, “It feels like painting in a cloud.” She was smiling, obviously enjoying herself. Apparently, the light in her Southern California hometown creates deep shadows. Here there are none, so there is no rush to finish a painting. Therefore, she took her time. Check out how lovely the result is!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Eco-Travel Stats

Here at Chez Sven, it is flower season. As I made fresh bouquets of cosmos and zinnias for our rooms, I thought about a recent survey reported by TripAdvisor. 38% of the people polled say they have stayed at an environmentally friendly hotel, and 9% seek them out. These people believe the most important qualities in a “green” hotel are: conserving energy, water, and using recycled paper. 34% would pay 5%-20% more to stay at an environmentally friendly hotel. 78% decline to have their sheets and towels changed. 66% think that traveling environmentally-friendly makes a difference. Those percentages can only rise as more people join the effort to save the planet.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wellfleet Lavender

The garden smells of lavender at this time of year. Lavender grows well thanks to the sandy soil. Here on Cape Cod, we have a lavender farm in Harwich, which some of my guests have visited in the past. My guests from the south of France told me they have lavender in their garden, but cannot enjoy such a great variety of other flowers: snapdragons, cleome, black-eyed susan, zinnia. They took photos of my garden this morning, but how much nicer the display would be had there been more rain! Meanwhile, Catherine, our cottage guest, is really enjoying the bunnies, butterflies, and bees.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Friends of Wellfleet Libraries Hold Annual Book Sale

Everyone loves books, especially folks who summer in Wellfleet, it seems.
The Friends of the Wellfleet Libraries held their first annual book sale yesterday in front of Town Hall, and it was a huge success. The second sale will take place August 12. Fifty dedicated volunteers, led by Denny O’Connell, make this Wellfleet tradition an event not to miss. The volunteers collect used books throughout the year, then sort and box them. A team transports the books to Main Street where more volunteers set up tables and unload. Faithful patrons hover nearby awaiting the signal that the sale has begun. Come 9 a.m., the rare books table always receives the most ardent book-grabbers, while less frenzied attendees head for DVDs or plunge into the crowd in search of a book to read on the beach. Friends of the Wellfleet Libraries' Board members collect payment with a smile. (Recent hardbacks cost $3.) All morning customers mill about, discovering books they cannot live without. At 1 p.m., still more volunteers dismantle the tables and transport any leftovers back to the Book Shed. Another great sale is over. The Friends have earned money to benefit our library. Tourists and Wellfleetians have purchased inexpensive reading matter. Everyone leaves happy!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A July Day in the Life ...

Innkeeping duties become a blur as I think back over everything I did today. What I did not do is go to the beach, or for a walk. Those activities are more apt to happen off-season. Let’s start from the beginning. Over a cup of coffee, I entertained a guest from Houston who told me about the beauty of the bike trail through the Provincelands, a ride I had suggested yesterday. Then it was back into the kitchen to chop strawberries for breakfast. There were six guests around the table! My new friends from Houston were leaving, so after saying goodbye, I stripped their beds and did laundry, then vacuumed. During the afternoon, I worked in the garden in anticipation of the rain, forecast for Monday. We need a good day of rain, which would allow the flowers to grow higher, high enough so the rabbits cannot reach them. I welcomed new Studio guests at 4:30 and then watered the garden. All afternoon the phone kept ringing. First the Wellfleet Chamber was searching on behalf of people who had come by boat, without a reservation, and needed lodging. Then several other desperate folks called. I suggested the motels, or Eastham. It is early in the season for all the beds in Wellfleet to be taken, but I guess that just goes to show how popular our little town has become. After dinner, I baked banana bread for breakfast tomorrow and made yogurt. Whew! Busy, busy day!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rain Comes & Benefits for Caleb

Much-needed rain finally arrived in Wellfleet. While clouds do not make the tourists happy, I must say gardeners rejoice, heads turned skyward to receive the sprinkles that also fell on wilted flowers and plants yesterday. My garden this year has faced not only a lack of rain but an abundance of bunnies, to the joy of one of our six-year-old guests. I bought a marvelous Limerock Coreopsis last week, which lasted only one night before the rabbits discovered its presence and bit off all the blossoms, to my great chagrin.

Other Wellfleet news: the Web site established for Caleb Potter provides regular updates on his condition and benefits now scheduled, which include an auction of prized plant specimens at The Farm in Orleans and a concert by the Rip It Ups at Mayo Beach July 26, here in Wellfleet, with oysters galore donated by Caleb's fellow shell fishermen. Raffle tickets, pirate flags and T-shirts will be on sale, and all funds will go to the Caleb Potter Benefit Fund. If you miss the Mayo Beach concert, on August 1 the band Squida will play at 5 pm at Wicked Oyster. Caleb Potter is one well-loved lad. The outpouring of energy and prayer is awesome. Someone expressed their hope for Caleb’s full recovery by decorating the Transfer Station fence.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Anyone for Thrift Shopping?

Thrift and consignment shops are alive and well here on Cape Cod. Thrift-shoppers should note that a new blue leaflet has just been issued with an update of addresses and hours of operation. The Outer Cape now offers half a dozen thrift shop/consignment shop experiences. Strangely enough, some of my favorite haunts did not make the list.

Let’s start in Provincetown with “Ruthie’s Boutique,” located on Bradford Street, near the center of town. If you are looking for outrageous fashion, Ruthies is the place to go. For years Ruthie herself used to welcome shoppers, many of whom became friends and stepped in after her passing to continue Ruthie's effort to raise money for Outer Cape Health Services, by volunteering at the cash register. Wellfleet’s A.I.M. on Main Street supports Outer Cape Health as well. Odds and ends for the household await discovery on A.I.M’s shelves. There is also a selection of books and clothing.

A Will o’the Wisp is a brand new consignment shop at 2 Truro Center Road. Roberta Lema has managed to gather quite a collection of antiques, china, art, and bric-a-brac, which thrift-shop regulars will enjoy perusing. This pleasant, airy shop is worth a look. There seems to be something for everyone here.

My favorite consignment shop remains Orleans Community Exchange, in a new spot at 64 Main and managed by a new crew of ladies and gents. Sales benefit Nauset Region and Cape Cod Tech Scholarships. Consigners also shop here, which means the selection of items for sale changes on a regular basis.

Happy thrift-shopping to everyone!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bits & Pieces

Yesterday I attended a get-together hosted by Clean Power Now at the Flying Fish here in Wellfleet. Wendy Williams, co-author of Cape Wind, was on hand to sign books. There were not as many attendees as expected because 200 Wellfleetians had gathered at the Wicked Oyster in an effort to coordinate fund-raising for Caleb Potter’s recovery. Today the Provincetown Banner posted an article about the incredible spirit that has united our small town over the past week. The reporter neglected to site one of the main reasons: the Mustard Seed Kitchen, which Caleb’s mom founded and ran while her boys were teenagers. Ten years ago I reported on this successful effort to keep Wellfleet’s young people off the streets in an article which appeared in American Profile. Those same young people and their parents surround the Potters now. To contribute to the Caleb Potter Benefit Fund, stop by any Cape Cod Five branch and make a deposit.

Speaking of fund-raising, a committee of dedicated Wellfleetians of a different generation have united to raise money for Wellfleet’s new Preservation Hall
(see March 13 blog), which will be located in the former Catholic Church on Main Street. The incredible doors, created by itinerant artist Jonathan Kendall, will be on exhibit at the Cape Cod Museum of the Arts in Dennis, July 14-August 25. The project will cost $2.2 million. For information on how to participate, go to this Web site.

Monday, July 09, 2007

"Do You Have Any Rooms Available in August?"

How many times have I heard this question of late! Fielding calls makes me feel for the tourists who are scrambling to find nice accommodation August 1-22. When locals talk about ‘high season,’ they really should refer to this period alone and raise prices across the board. While Wellfleet is popular in July, there are always rooms available somewhere, perhaps not here at Chez Sven, but somewhere, and I tell callers to check with the Wellfleet Chamber of Commerce. August is another story altogether. It is a shame so many tourists choose to take their vacation at the same time. Folks with families often have children free between camp and school, which explains motivation. But Wellfleet is so much nicer in September. If you have no school-age children, consider postponing your holiday to a month when the town is more civilized and traffic less intense. The weather is usually great in September. The ocean is warmer. There are spaces available in the town hall parking lot and you do not have to wait in line at local shops, which sometimes start sales early. In talking to tourists over the phone, I always confirm their choice of Wellfleet. It is really one of the more beautiful towns on the Cape. From Wellfleet, it is easy to set off and explore Chatham, or Provincetown. Yesterday I drove a guest to the airport in P-town. The beauty of the Provincelands (above this blog) takes the breath away ...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Pray for Caleb!

Yesterday the sirens were screeching off and on all day. We do not like sirens, because they signify someone's in trouble, someone may be on their way to the hospital. It was not a good day to be traveling down to Hyannis by ambulance. With rain and fog, tourists deserted the beaches and took their cars onto Route 6. Our cottage guests got stuck in traffic caused by a morning accident near Lieutenant Island Road. The head-on collision killed a man from Truro and injured five others. I was thinking about how different Wellfleet becomes in summer. People rush, chaos ensues. Their agenda is vacation, not work. Not that there is anything wrong with being on vacation.

I used to be a tourist, too. I found a blog by a tourist who captures the excitement well. She allowed me to quote from her blog: "I'm sitting on the lawn with a gin and tonic. The funny old Yankee who owns the house is puttering around fixing things. Youngest is reading a magazine beside me, and E is chatting about salad. We've done the beach, we've done the town. In two short days we've established routines. Walk for a latté in the morning, discuss the plans for the day over pastry, hit the beach for low tide, back to the house for showers,
town for amusement, the lawn for drinks, inside for dinner, sit around and laugh, take turns walking a baby, give attention to a nephew, football on the lawn, guitars after dinner, lots of wine and cheese, fall into bed early, church bells in the distance.”

Sounds like a nice vacation. I found Say La Vee because I was Googling for news of Caleb Potter, injured in a second major accident that happened yesterday. Since no Medivac helicopter was available, Caleb was transferred to Cape Cod Hospital in an ambulance. I know Caleb’s mother, Sharon. Everyone in Wellfleet knows Sharyn. For years she used to bring her boys over at Christmas with flowers for my elderly mom. Mother always kept a few chocolate bars to give the boys in return. Now Caleb needs our prayers. Friends have hung signs like the one above all over town. Everyone is talking about the accident and worrying about Caleb. The latest I heard was that he had been transferred to Mass General in Boston. Prayer circles have been organized every day at 11 am and 9 pm. For updates on his condition, click here

Monday, July 02, 2007

WHAT's Selected Shorts a Winner!

Wellfleet has a marvelous new theater. I know, I know. This information is, by now, common knowledge. But today I can attest to its magnificence since I attended Selected Shorts, a presentation of symphonyspace, sponsored by the Cape and Islands NPR Stations and hosted by Isaiah Sheffer. The Julie Harris Stage, which seats 200, has a cozy, intimate feel. The sound was perfect, the seats soft and inviting. After a short introduction by Mr. Sheffer, actress Laura Esterman captivated the audience with her reading of Pamela Painter’s short story “Custody.” Her performance was followed by “to mock the years” by Wellfleet writer Arturo Vivante, read by Jeff Zinn. Both Ms. Painter and Mr. Vivante were present and took bows. Following intermission, Isaiah Sheffer conducted an impromptu sing-the-rest-of-that-tune sing-a-long with the audience, prior to reading Michael Cunningham’s excellent “White Angel.” As the theatergoers filed out I could tell from their smiles that everyone had enjoyed the show. The evening benefit for WHAT will be repeated tomorrow, July 3.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Cape Cod View's Lists Top 200

Cape Cod View has come up with a Top 200. The list shows a bit more pizzazz and creativity than the choices from yesterday's Cape Cod Life in that the editors asked a dozen “people in the know” – including Wellfleet’s own Jeff Zinn – to make recommendations. It seems like many members of the panel do not frequent the Outer Cape because the winners are often in Hyannis and Falmouth or the islands. Here are some local favorites: Cottage Street Bakery in Orleans, The Wicked Oyster, Red Barn Pizza in Eastham, Abba in Orleans for “Overall Dining Experience,” Moby Dick’s, Karol Richardson, Bayberry Garden Center in Truro, Snow’s extraordinary department store in Orleans, Left Bank Gallery, Mac’s Seafood, Atlantic White Cedar Swamp, W.H.A.T., Province Lands Bike Trail in Provincetown, Cahoon Hollow Beach (just two miles up the road) and The Beachcomber in separate categories. No one mentioned his/her favorite Cape Cod blog. However, a Cape Cod View reporter did devote his first The Click column to Wellfleet Chezsven blog, reason to smile, don't you think?

“The do-it-yourself Internet is made out of Web homesteaders like Alexandra Grabbe. Grabbe runs a bed-and-breakfast in Wellfleet with her husband Sven and writes about it on her blog. Their B & B, Chez Sven, tailors to travelers who like their food organic and their hospitality chemical free (no bleached bed sheets here!). And for the virtual visitor, Grabbe’s Web=log (or blog) gives a writerly window into life around Wellfleet. Peppered with dazzling photos of the Cape’s changing seasons, she treats the day-to-day of being an innkeeper with a light, inviting touch. 'I do not think our vegetable planting will be as extensive this year,' she writes. 'If I have my way, the garden will be more flowery: cosmos, calendula, Milk Maid nasturtiums, sunflowers … I did order five pounds of potatoes for Sven, however.' One way to find Grabbe’s blog is via the B & B’s Web site, www.chezsven.com.”