Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When Innkeeping Feels Right ...

Innkeeping can get tedious in early summer, when rapid room turnover makes the stream of guests fade to a blur. What’s different this year is the intense heat, which turns both Sven and me into zombies sometimes. It takes a while to adjust to one’s home becoming a "hotel" 24/7 with strangers calling at odd hours for weekend rooms (we have none available) and seeking suggestions on alternative lodging, as well as updates on Wellfleet's beaches, new restaurants, theater options, etc. The other day one caller asked multiple questions on chemical sensitivities, even though I had explained Chez Sven was not listed in newer editions of her guidebook by my request since no guarantee is possible ... But once and a while we do get to meet people who make it all seem worthwhile. This is the way Sven and I felt about Gloria and Jesse, in town to conduct an interview for a documentary. Instant connection took place when the couple from Ohio stepped through the doorway to spend two nights in our Green Room. Due to the heat, we sat outside for my regular Wellfleet-round-up spiel and stayed put for several hours. Leslie, a return guest, arrived and joined us. Soon we had a great conversation going. We discussed the environment, movies, history, politics … you get the idea. Sven is an art historian and Jesse wrote Art History for Dummies, so they had a lot in common. Gloria teaches art, and we got on well, too. Jesse is shy, so I was only able to photograph Gloria, sitting with Sven yesterday morning. How sad we were when they had to leave! After five years of comments, I stopped logging them in our online guestbook, but theirs is a keeper. Check out what Jesse wrote: “You two are great! We love you. Thanks for sharing your lovely house and gorgeous gardens and your beautiful selves with us these three days in late June 2010. We wish all good things for you ...”

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What's Happening at the Library?

Every summer the Wellfleet Public Library offers residents and tourists alike the opportunity to hear fascinating lectures for free. The problem is Sven and I are usually too tired to take advantage of events held on summer evenings. For instance, here’s what we will probably miss tomorrow, June 30th, from 8 to 9 pm: Cape Cod Modern House Trust will present a talk and slide show by the artist collaborative Smudge about two Pleistocene site-based residencies chosen in 2010 for their current project. "Coming Home to the Pleistocene" will weave a visual tale of inhabiting two modern structures - the Kugel/Gips house on Northeast Pond here in Wellfleet, and a retrofitted Quonset hut on a historic WW II airbase in Wendover, Utah. Smudge, ie. Jamie Kruse and Elizabeth Ellsworth, will illustrate how their stays at these two structures became a dynamic interplay of three forces: the structures' original cultural contexts, contemporary land use, and the powerful Pleistocene events that gave form to the sites over 10,000 years ago. Sven would go for the historic WWII hut. I would want to hear about the experience of living in the Kugel/Gips house, with its incredible view, above. How about you?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Community Garden Steals Show on Prez. Hall Tour

Preservation Hall held its second annual garden tour yesterday under hazy skies. Unfortunately, I could not visit the four private gardens. I did, however, attend the final event, a party at the Community Garden, beside the Senior Center. And, yesterday afternoon I interviewed a future guest about her impressions of the tour. Antonia had driven up from Plymouth to support Preservation Hall on this hot, hot day. She raved about the third and fourth gardens, one on Chequessett Neck, the other on King Philip Road. Later Tracy Plaut told me she also had loved the landscaping at Chequessett Neck, which incorporated natural elements, like native pine, and overlooked the harbor. Wish I had time to do everything!

Fortunately, I was able to carve out a half hour for reporting duty. My walk through the Community Garden was an incredibly peaceful experience. The plots were all different and each unique in its own way. Flowers were planted along with the vegetables: calendula, nasturtiums. It's quite a funky place. I finally got to see the scarecrow my neighbor Sally Branch asked me to photograph.

Garden tour visitors meandered down the central path with me, so I listened in on some of their conversations:

“It’s a blast to come through here,” Sharyn Lindsay told a friend.

“Doesn’t this look delicious, the lettuce?” someone else said.

“I’m picking one for dinner tonight,” declared a man wielding a knife, apparently owner of the plot.

“I share a plot with Iris,” Deb Giza told a friend, her voice ringing with excitement and pride. “I planted beets for her borscht.”

“Even the way people planted their rows: it’s so aesthetic, isn’t it?” one woman remarked, nodding her head in admiration.

I could only agree.

Maura Condrick sold markers to benefit the Community Garden, so I bought five, “Marvelous Markers from Maura,” cut from shingles by John Makely. It was nice to be able to take a bit of the Community Garden home to decorate my own here at Chez Sven. I cannot imagine tending TWO gardens, as Sharyn Lindsay does. Before leaving, I asked Caleb what his favorite garden was.

“My mum’s,” he said, without a moment’s hesitation.

It’s great to be able to participate in such events. They bring a community together. The construction of Preservation Hall isn't yet finished, but it is already fulfilling its purpose. And, community is essential for the welfare of a small town ....

Sunday, June 27, 2010

PB Boulangeriebistro to Accept Reservations

“Every time I drive past, the line is out the door. Cars parked on both sides of the road. I mean, like, what are they selling in there? The fountain of youth?”

No, just feathery croissants, hearty peasant bread, crunchy baguettes.

Of course Sven’s friend Rick was describing, what else? PB BoulangerieBistro. Its phenomenal success has people all over the East Coast planning future trips to Cape Cod. Meanwhile Wellfleetians have waited patiently for the bistro part of the name to become operational. The wait will soon be over. Starting this week, Monday and Tuesday will be closed so bakers, chefs and staff can recoup. Then, on Wednesday, breakfast, or perhaps I should say, le petit dejeuner, will be served from 7:30 to 3. Sometime in the next two or three weeks, it will be possible to eat dinner as well. The deck is finished and freshly decorated with champagne bottles. Our guests had croissants for breakfast on Friday. When I went to fetch them at 7:15, the line already snaked out the door. I spoke to Valerie, the chef’s wife, and apparently, with regret, they have decided to require reservations. This seems like a wise choice. Otherwise, folks would be sitting on the sidewalk by early afternoon, as if the place were selling some new Apple gadget. What more can I say? Bon appetit!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bonus Post: Mayo Beach at Noon Today

It was quite exciting to stand in the line at Mayo Beach an hour ago and share thoughts of a clean-er environment with around sixty strangers. Some people happened by while out swimming, some came on purpose for Hands Across the Sand. A large contingent were in Wellfleet to celebrate Ernie Zobel's 75th birthday. The Zobels brought great "No to Offshore Drilling, Yes to Clean Energy" signs and stickers. And protesters all over the world were doing the exact same thing, at the same time. Will legislators notice?

"Have we gotten any better at green living?" is the question Jane Boursaw asks today at her blog Film Gecko. My response is I sure hope so! Jane read my earlier post this morning and referred her readers here. I'm thrilled the Submission trailer will get this early exposure on a mainstream blog. Thank you, Jane.

What do you think? Have we gotten better at green living?

Toxic Headaches & One Bright New Light

People know butterflies are fragile. Sometimes I wonder if they realize human life is, too?

Day 69 of the toxic oil spill in the Gulf ...

If I didn't have a B&B to run, I think I would spend all my time trying to alert the general public to the danger posed by toxic chemicals. I see myself in a rowboat with my grandchildren, desperately rowing, unable to reach the shore with the storm-of-the-century on the way: that is how I feel at each revelation of yet another threat to our environment. The wind picks up, the seas become choppy; the boat shivers and begins to slide backwards. We must turn that current around …

Yesterday Mandy Robinson, at Prudential Cape Shores, forwarded an email from a well-meaning man who hopes to spray Cape Cod properties for ticks. I read about the insecticide, approved 4/19/2010 by the EPA, and learned it’s toxic to bees and should not be used near bodies of water. Hey! We need to use a little sense here. Mandy emailed that she agrees: “I deleted the email and have no intention of sending it to our homeowners. I too have had Lyme Disease but am firmly against spraying. As you say it is another onslaught on the environment.”

Without exploring how insanely stupid it is to use a product that kills bees, let’s just concentrate on the issue of what is appropriate for Cape Cod, with its sandy soil. What we spray on trees, grass, bushes, rosebushes, etc. filters down into the water that we share through a system of private wells. I, for one, do not want toxic chemicals in my drinking water. As Congressman Delahunt stated in his March 30, 2010 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Cape Cod is a unique environment. Communities with a single source aquifer need “special consideration.”

So, if indeed this product was registered with the EPA, the place to start is writing the EPA. Can Astro Insecticide (Permethrin) be looked at more closely? Remember colony collapse? We need our bees. They are our pollinators.

Then I open a tweet from the Environmental Working Group and learn toxins have been found in whale bones, so many toxins – and heavy metals in particular – that the scientists are stunned. To quote, "These contaminants, I think, are threatening the human food supply. They certainly are threatening the whales and the other animals that live in the ocean," said biologist Roger Payne, founder and president of Ocean Alliance. Threatening our human food supply. Whoa! Strong words.

And, of course, there’s my pet peeve, all the toxic chemicals in our bodies. On this front, I’m happy to report the release of Stefan Jarl's documentary Submission, which was shown at the United Nations two months ago to high praise. Remember the title and tell your friends.

I am doing my best to find out what has been done to get this Swedish movie distributed in the United States. According to Professor Ake Bergman, “it has been a hit so far, even though the film is describing the dark side of chemicals. The film will be shown in Geneva for UNEP employees a week from now.” And, the director himself responded, “Yes, the United Nations is taking it around the world, screening it at seminars for scientists, researchers and so on, but of course I want the film to ‘speak’ directly to an audience. I know that a documentary like this very seldom reaches theaters - but it ought to, since the UN describes it as ‘the best film of the century.’”

Read more of Stefan Jarl’s description of Submission at The Canary Report. And, please watch the trailer.

(Readers, anyone have suggestions on how to help Mr. Jarl get his film shown in the USA? He is sending me the DVD, and guests this summer will be able to watch it here at Chez Sven.)

Thursday night my grandson was born in Los Angeles. Welcome to the world, darling baby! From now on, let’s all work together. We must create meaningful laws that stop this mindless pollution. It is no longer the business of someone else. Get involved. We all need to transform ourselves into a citizens’ army. You with me?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hands (and Feet) Across the Sand

Clean energy is a hot topic. Let's hope it remains so. Tomorrow, Saturday, all around the world people like you and me are going to step onto a beach at noon, join hands, and send a message: "This movement is not about politics; it is about protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife, and fishing industry," declare the organizers. Here in Wellfleet, join fellow citizens who care about the environment for Hands Across the Sand at Mayo Beach, 12, noon. Say no to offshore drilling. Say yes to clean energy. It's time to draw a line in the sand. Let our representatives in Congress know there will be no more pussy-footing around ...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's On My Food?

Above, two boxes of strawberries. On the left, the berries grown in my brother’s yard. On the right, berries from the farmer’s market in Amherst. Both varieties were full of flavor and pesticide-free. Now, the next time you are at the store check out the berries not labeled organic and packaged in plastic by a company whose name begins with D. They are huge and flavorless and, no doubt, laden with pesticides. I discovered a new site which I would like to pass along: What’s on my Food? Take a look. If enough people start paying attention and speak up, perhaps the folly of pesticide-laden foods will end. (This spring a Harvard study linked ADHD to organophosphate pesticide exposure.)

People across America are realizing the benefit of local food, grown in community gardens. Perhaps the urge to eat organic is why a community garden was started last year here in Wellfleet, located beside the Senior Center? Preservation Hall is holding its annual garden tour this Sunday, and the tour ends at the Community Garden, after informal visits to four other Wellfleet gardens. Preservation Hall events are always worth attending. The tour starts at noon and continues all afternoon. Tickets can be purchased online. (Here Sven sits in the flower garden at Chez Sven. Who knows? Perhaps one day it, too, will be on the Preservation Hall garden tour?) Finally, on June 29 Slow Food Cape Cod will show Fresh by Ana Sofia Joanes at Main Street Gourmet in Orleans, 7 pm. Organizer Mary DeBartelo asks that we all think about this question: where do you buy your food and how do you make your purchase decisions. To reserve for the screening and potluck, contact Mary at Main Street Gourmet.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Guest Blog: Why My Sister's a Keeper

Our guest blogger today is Nick Grabbe:

“Hello! I’m here at Chez Sven for two days, with my wife Betsy, enjoying some beautiful June weather and connecting with Sandy and Sven. I could write about the changes in the sand at Newcomb Hollow beach, the fresh smell of the ocean that permeates this part of the world, the gorgeous flowers outside the door here, or the magnificent session I had today with Tracy Plaut, massage therapist extraordinaire. But what I really want to write about is my older sister.

First, I’m so impressed with the transformations she has made in the Wellfleet house our parents lived in for so many years, and how she and Sven have built up a successful B&B. I’m really not surprised that my sister turns out to be an excellent businesswoman. And she has developed a passion for ridding the world of unnecessary chemicals that get approved for use before they’ve been proven safe.

Second, I appreciate the work she has done on this blog and her previous one about home-caring our elderly mother.

You see, I’ve been working for various newspapers for 40 years, the last 10 of them as a writer and reporter. For much of this time, Sandy identified with being a writer and strived for the goal of ‘getting published,’ achieving some successes but also enduring a lot of disappointments. Meanwhile, ‘getting published’ was something I did every day.

Now the publishing world is being turned upside down by computer technology, and I am struggling, along with many other mainstream journalists, to adapt to the new reality of blogs, tweets and videos, while my sister finds herself in the blogger vanguard and even attracts an audience. She has been able to connect environmentalism and Wellfleet, quite an achievement! And, she’s far more knowledgeable about computers than I am. So this is my tribute to you, Sandy, and to your blog, and to Wellfleet, too!”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Learning Herbs & Spices from Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy is leading a poetry workshop in Wellfleet this week. (If you didn’t sign up, never fear: a wait-list seems to be forming for 2011.) Then, on Thursday, she will hold a poetry reading "with her students" at the Wellfleet Public Library. Marge Piercy is a marvelous poet. Before starting Chez Sven, I worked for Marge as a personal assistant. One of my favorite assignments was sorting herbs. Twice a year, Marge orders herbs and spices from a mail-order company ...

A box of plastic packets has arrived UPS. Between us, on the library table, await empty glass jars of all shapes and sizes, like an army ready to receive booty.

I reach for the top packet and say out loud, “Powdered Turkish Bay Leaves,” as if ushering in royalty.

Marge puts a check next to that item on her list. Meanwhile I’m busy making a funnel out of a piece of paper. My boss chooses a jar of appropriate size and hands it across the table. Carefully I pour in the contents while she scribbles a label with a black felt pen. The air sparkles with the scent of bay, transporting me to far-off lands.

I choose a spice from the top of the pile. “Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon,” I call out, already in Cinnamon Heaven.

Marge scribbles and hands me another packet. From apple pie for dessert, backwards we go to the main course.

“Broken Leaf French Tarragon,” I announce.

Tarragon is a personal favorite, one used often with fish in France.

Then I receive cumin and cilantro, all at once. They remind me of the chili that seasoned my workplace the week before. It smelled so good!

Most of Marge’s recipes contain herbs. Many of the herbs grow in her garden: parsley, several different kinds of basil, dill, cilantro, thyme, and savory. She seems to use them all. During winter, dried herbs must stand in for the real thing.

I pour “Herbes de Provence” into a jar. In my mind, I grill ka-bobs in France, beside a field of lavender. As I open “Fines Herbes,” I find a seat in a café and order an omelette. But Marge interrupts this reverie with “Whole Spanish Rosemary Leaves,” the size and shape of Christmas tree needles. I revel in the scent of roasted lamb with garlic, taste the mint jelly on my tongue …

The first time I helped with an herb shipment, I was only allowed to observe. The second time, I participated and even placed an order myself. I went home that day with my spice packets, ready to cook up a storm. There’s nothing like fresh herbs and spices. Yes, I’ve become a convert. Thank you, Marge!

Monday, June 21, 2010

What's New On the Bookshelf?

This month’s recommendation is Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists, a novel that deserves all the early praise it has received and more. Anyone who has lived the expat life or worked at a newspaper should rush to his/her favorite independent bookstore for a copy. I read The Imperfectionists quickly because I decided to give it to my brother rather than keep it for guests, and he’s coming for a visit today. The book describes life at an international English-language newspaper, located in Rome. Rachman deftly profiles the various members of the newspaper staff in chapters that together create a marvelous tapestry that might hang on the mansion wall of founder and publisher Cyrus Ott, beside his Modigliani, say. Between chapters, Rachman slips in the story of the publisher’s life and history of the newspaper. What I especially like about this first novel is its brilliant use of language. I also got a kick out of the way the author adds a twist to the conclusion of the profiles, adding a detail the reader doesn’t expect and thus neatly tying each chapter up with a bow. A great read!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Got Strawberries?

I try not to serve guests regular store-bought strawberries because they are laden with pesticides. Hatch's, on the town hall parking lot, and Phoenix Fruit in Orleans carry strawberries produced by growers who raise crops that are pesticide-free.

You may have already signed a petition against a new pesticide, methyl iodide, which some strawberry farmers in California hope to use. Scientists are against: “This is without question one of the most toxic chemicals on earth," said John Froines, professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. Please read the full New York Times article that explains the implications for the rest of the country. The chemical is known to be a neurotoxin, as well as developmentally toxic, and an endocrine disruptor. Oh, and it causes breast cancer. The deadline to tell California State regulators to reject methyl iodide and urge the EPA to ban it is June 29. Sign the petition here.

Speaking of berries, the Historical Society is holding its annual Strawberry Festival this afternoon, from 2 to 4, at the Methodist Church. Strawberries that are organic? Non-organic? Hmmm ....

If you miss the Strawberry Festival, get yourself some strawberries without pesticides and try MarthaandMe's recipe for yummy strawberry shortcake ...

Two for the Road (2)

Remember the folks who pedaled here in the rain last week? Turns out Tim Jones is a reporter and wrote about his Cape adventure for the Concord Monitor, mentioning Chez Sven. (Thank you, Tim!) He goes into detail about the trailer some of you noticed, so do check out all the details. I learned about the ferry from Plymouth to Provincetown from Mr. Jones, and it sounds like a great alternative to anyone who does not have easy access to Boston Harbor. Tim and Marilyn were only our third couple to arrive by bike in five years. The second was a young cyclist who pedaled here from Boston, to rendezvous with parents and wife, pleased to have chosen a ferry ride instead. Now that’s real biking enthusiasm! Hey, all you cyclists out there, would you attempt Boston-Wellfleet, in summer, by bike?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Letter to Henry Beston

From The Outermost House by Henry Beston: “A new danger, moveover, now threatens the birds at sea. An irreducible residue of crude oil, called by refiners ‘slop,’ remains in stills after oil distillation, and this is pumped into southbound tankers and emptied far offshore. This wretched pollution floats over large areas, and the birds alight in it and get it on their feathers. They inevitably die. Just how they perish is still something of a question. Some die of cold, for the gluey oil so mats and swabs the thick arctic feathering that creases open through it to the skin above the vitals; others die of hunger as well. Captain George Nickerson of Nauset tells me that he saw an oil-covered eider trying to dive for food off Monomoy, and that the bird was unable to plunge ... To-day oil is more the chance fate of the unfortunate individual. But let us hope that all such pollution will presently end.”

Oh, Mr. Beston! Over eighty years have passed since you wrote these wise words. Were you alive today, how sad you would be that no one has heeded them! Not only are the oceans polluted, but oil is spilling out of a well in the Gulf of Mexico. The companies in charge let greed win over good sense. All plans to stop the gusher have failed. Here on Cape Cod, we don’t have tar balls on our beaches or birds dying from crude oil residue, not yet anyway, but since your time, there have been developments you never could have imagined. Over the past few decades, life has become an ongoing nightmare of destruction by toxic chemicals. They enter our bodies surreptitiously through the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat. Two hundred have even been detected in umbilical cord blood. The chemical industry is so strong that changing the status quo seems almost hopeless sometimes. We need an equally strong president, one who models himself on Teddy Roosevelt. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970. Recently it acquired backbone with President Obama’s appointment of Lisa Jackson, but teeth are still missing. This month Congress is considering a Safe Chemicals Act. Keep your fingers crossed that this legislation passes. The chemical industry will fight hard to prevent the regulation of the synthetic chemicals, which are damaging our bodies and souls. And I didn't even mention genetically modified food! You can be glad you’re not here anymore ….

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hurray for San Francisco!

A few more days and summer will officially be here. I can almost smell the salt sea air – that must be what so many of you are thinking as your Wellfleet vacation draws closer and closer. Vacation is not the topic of the day, but I sure did get your attention, didn’t I? This post is about CELL PHONES. The City of San Francisco has decided to make cell phone manufacturers put a warning on their phones indicating that the radiation emitted may be dangerous to health. In fact, according to ABC News using a cell phone can increase your risk of developing a brain tumor, which will not become obvious until a decade has passed, when it may be too late. I hope the rest of the country will follow suit. I have been harping on the danger cell phones present for years and rigorously refuse to acquire one. My ex used to work for the cell phone industry in France and early on advised his kids not to hold their favorite gadget close to the head …. Do you limit cell phone to emergencies or have you given up your land line?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Just Another Day in Wellfleet

On Monday evening, Sven and I saw this black bus parked at Great Pond and thought nothing of it. I remember saying to myself, what a huge camping car! Who needs such a huge camping car? Tuesday afternoon, I got my answer. I spotted the bus again, only this time at the marina.

I had journeyed down for fish at Mac’s Seafood and noticed there was something unusual going on at the pier. A man with a professional camera stood on the roof of a white van. Whatever was happening had attracted quite a few middle-aged tourists, overweight for the most part, some holding ice cream cones. People who were obviously not tourists, nor residents, milled about, acting important. The young men all seemed to have cameras around their necks. Half a dozen teenagers sat on one side of the pier, like ballplayers in a bullpen, only ballplayers don't look so extremely bored.

“What’s going on?” I asked a twenty-something Asian-American.

“We’re shooting an advertisement for Gant,” he responded.

I looked at what the man on the van was busy photographing and saw four more teenagers sprawled on the pier below. I have never seen anyone choose to lie on the Wellfleet pier. It’s not really very clean. The pose didn’t look comfortable, but I guess models are willing to do whatever they're told. When one of the men in charge started waving his arms, the teenagers broke into smiles and began to emote.

“Pernilla! We need Pernilla!” someone shouted all of a sudden.

An undernourished girl with blond hair left the bullpen and walked purposely over to pinch-hit. Nearby stood a woman who looked like a salesperson, since she held half a dozen shirts on hangars in one hand. A male model came over to remove an argyle sweater and don a fancy striped shirt.

I watched a while longer but, to be honest, nothing much was happening, so I proceeded into Mac’s. Sam Bradford was busy weighing lobsters. I waited as he finalized an order for two customers. They spent $127 on seafood, so Sam threw in a loaf of bread for free. I asked about the photo shoot.

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “Is that what they were doing!? They spent $400 bucks on lunch We thought they were a Swedish rock band.”

Just another day in Wellfleet ….

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thoughts on Disability in a Beach Community…

We take some things for granted, like being able to walk a beach. One of our cottage guests this week has a disability. I began to worry as soon as he lurched across the garden, one hand extended, the other working a cane. I watched with admiration as his spastic legs miraculously propelled his body the last couple feet towards me, and I succumbed to his warm smile. We shook hands and connected. I wanted his visit to Wellfleet to be a memorable one.

The couple traveled with a wheelchair but did not get it out of the car. They had booked in February. There had been no mention of handicap or question of whether or not the cottage had ease of access. In fact, Seagull is not the ideal accommodation for anyone with disability because there are steps up from the parking lot, and the living room boasts a shift in floor level. This feature adds character to the place but also complication. I wondered how our guest would handle the step that divides the room in two. Splendidly, according to Sven. (My husband likes to provide background to the cottage paintings and had given his little tour after I left. The man simply jumped from one level to the other, Sven told me.)

“These people are not different from us,” he said later. “It could happen to you. It could happen to me. It could happen to anyone.”

Yesterday I read a moving post by a writer whose daughter has cerebral palsy. The guest post at Mothering Outside the Lines and the presence of our cottage guests got me to thinking about our own town’s accessibility to those who are handicapped. Of course, there are parking spaces for vehicles with a special plate, but a handicap plate is probably not available to tourists from abroad at short notice. We have an excellent new promenade around the marina, with lots of nice benches offering a water view. There are dune benches above some of the beaches, too – Newcomb, LeCount – but beach access itself demands coordination and surely is off-limits to the physically challenged.

At registration, I usually describe local restaurants as part of my spiel. With the cottage guests I ran through options in my mind first, trying to figure out which of them would work for someone with disability. I advised the couple as best I could and made a mental note to improve my knowledge on this aspect of our town in case future guests present similar needs.

I lobbied for the dune benches, and beach access stairs, when I home-cared my elderly mom, but handicapped access to restaurants is not something I had ever thought about before because we never took her out to eat. It is impossible to put oneself in the shoes of a handicapped person, but some of us are more aware than others, due to experience with family members who require special attention.

In a private moment, Sven asked about the handicap and the guest responded that he was born with a disability. He inherited the condition, and it only gets worse as he grows older. Sven invited him to sit down at our dining room table for a chat. The two men discussed Orwell and revolution, among other things. Our guest is a lawyer, a successful one, in England.

“I respect your courage,” my husband said as the man left.

“You can break barriers, social or otherwise, if you can see the human being and disregard how they look, the class they belong to, or their disability,” Sven told me once I had returned from my errand.

Have any of you experienced disability? Do you ever think about what the world is like for handicapped people? What would make Wellfleet more attractive to visitors with disability?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What's Happening on the Outer Cape?

Members of the PB Boulangerie staff were all wearing Provincetown Film Festival T-shirts on Sunday afternoon, when Sven and I stopped by after the beach. The line was out the door, as usual. I hate to think what it will be like in July and August! Progress has been made on the deck, above, but unfortunately the bistro opening is now scheduled for July.

Speaking of the Film Festival, there are so many new films that festival-goers are often stumped on which ones to choose. I can highly recommend "BirthMarkings" by my friend, Academy Award Winning filmmaker, Margaret Lazarus, who recently relocated to Eastham. Her new film is going to be shown Wednesday June 16 at 9:45 PM, Friday June 18 at 2PM and Sunday June 20 at 11:30. She will be at the Wednesday and Sunday screenings. The idea for the film began when Margaret read that the post-birth tummy tuck was one of the fastest growing plastic surgeries. It started her on a meditation about what it means that, in our culture, we feel pressure to erase the signs of creation and dynamism. The film emerged from that. I am looking forward to seeing it. (Read about Margaret’s earlier work here.)

Of course, this week we also have great plays at WHAT. The critics have praised both Daughter of Venus, at the Julie Harris Stage, and Colorado, at the smaller harbor venue.

June 17th Moby Dick’s Restaurant is partnering with the Sampson Fund to raise money for veterinary care, 11:30 to 8:30. So, go to Moby’s for lunch Thursday, spend a few hours at the beach, then dine that evening at the Juice which will be hosting a benefit for the artists of Matenwa, Haiti. Two seatings are planned, one at 6 and another at 7:30. $35 at the door provides a choice of appetizer, delicious fish or tofu entrée, and a glass of wine or Haitian rum punch. Plan to shop at RaRa, next door, for a scarf or T-shirt. Again, all sales benefit the artists of Matenwa, a town with a very special relationship to Wellfleet. Ellen LeBow created the design on the new T-shirts. It's fantastic!

Finally, check out my garden, which is what all our guests have been exclaiming over this week. The rain has been beneficial. With the sun out today, everything will pop even more ….

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bonus Post: LeCount Hollow, Today

ME: How can we allow corporations like BP to pollute our oceans? My environmentalist writer friend Kerri, over at Living Large in our Little House, is feeling overwhelmed, and so am I. Will humanity learn anything from the Gulf oil spill?

SVEN: The sea can be so beautiful, but it is also menacing. For many tourists, the Atlantic represents the beach and having a good time. For a lot of people, the sea was menacing. Thousands of ships went down off Cape Cod. It's easy to enjoy the sea when you are not out there in a boat, fishing, under tough circumstances...

What's your take on this photo of the ocean?

Two for the Road (1)

Not a whole lot of guests arrive at Chez Sven by bike, and even fewer come by tandem. We had our first tandem guests this weekend. Tim and Marilyn are riding from Provincetown to Plymouth. Their impressive vehicle measures thirteen feet, including the tractor-trailer for luggage. The couple took the shore road to Truro, then Route 6 to Wellfleet, and must have been quite a sight, for any drivers, sharing the road! Unfortunately, rain arrived with them and has not stopped since. With spunk and good will, Marilyn follows her adventurer-husband, a reporter for Eastern Slopes. Since she has a skin condition, a dermatologist recommended total cover, which explains the elaborate head gear. Marilyn told me she’s a nutritionist. Over breakfast, we commiserated about the state of food in the USA today. Tim suggested CSA, which I plan to look into for 2011, and I told them about Slow Death by Rubber Duck. From Wellfleet, the couple took the Cape Cod Rail Trail to Dennis for another rest stop. The next lap will land them to Sandwich. Then, it’s across the Sagamore Bridge and on onward to Plymouth.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bonus Post: Fog? What Fog?

Who says the beach in fog is not worthwhile? Sven and I headed out to LeCount Hollow this afternoon for a walk. We saw walkers, and surfers, and piping plovers. One surfer took a fall and got right back up. It was beautiful. The sand was firm. The waves were rolling in. There were not many people around. We saw figures coming towards us in the mist. What a shame more tourists do not not know how to appreciate Wellfleet in "bad" weather!

The Juice Never Fails to Please …

Friday night Sven and I went, for dinner, to The Juice, which had opened the evening before. I sat there snapping my fingers in time to a Motown tune. Sven and I were reminiscing about past Juice dinners: awesome pizzas and smoothies, a particularly memorable broiled bass special, oysters Rockefeller. I took a sip of my “Cape Cod” beer, which offers “a vacation in every pint.” Looking around, I asked myself why I like The Juice so much. Was it the funky light blue floor? The crooked walls? The fresh roses and petunias on every table?

“Maybe we come here because the food is good?” said Sven, answering a question I had not yet asked, the way partners who have lived together for years are wont to do.

I could only agree, as Mare served my tofu entrée, which was yummy.

The casual atmosphere of a local restaurant, run by 20-somethings, also has something to do with the charm of the place, no doubt. Check out Sven’s fish tacos. We had a great meal, at a reasonable price. What more could one ask?