Saturday, December 31, 2011

Guests Make the World Go Round

Before the year closes, a big thank you to all our wonderful guests from 2011. Some came to escape the heat of the city, others to discover life "across the pond." We celebrated honeymoons and family reunions. We received recently engaged couples, young parents with babies, older parents with older children. They went windsurfing, whalewatching, swimming, beachcombing, hiking, exploring, kayaking. Guests hailed from Germany, Holland, France, Ireland, the UK, Italy, Switzerland, Peru, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Argentina, as well as numerous American states, including Alaska. Here are a few of my favorite notes from our 2011 guestbook:

"Thank you so much for your hospitality and sharing your home. We enjoyed everything about our first trip to the Cape!"

"A splendid and magical place to stay."

"The hospitality, beautiful surroundings, food, and rest lifted my spirits and renewed my soul."

"It's been lovely, enchanting. You've made us feel very welcome, a true home away from home. Thank you!"

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sally Branch Passes Away

My mom’s friend Sally Branch died yesterday. She was a regular blog reader, the go-to bird person in Wellfleet, and the neighbor with whom my parents always shared Thanksgiving dinner. Sven tells me I took him to meet Sally on the way back from our first walk to Dyer Pond. Who could resist her total lack of pretentiousness and her gentle grace? Here was a lady who seemed to radiate goodness. Sally spoke with the soft tones of a proper West Virginian, a drawl rather than an accent, despite having lived in Massachusetts for decades. For years she would walk past our house, with her binoculars, searching for the elusive oriole. Her many friends deeply regretted her stroke, in late spring. She had been bedridden ever since. Over the past six months, I visited as often as possible. On one of my first visits, I printed out a recent blog post and read it to her. On one of my final visits, the hospice nurse was preparing to leave when I pushed open the bedroom door. There had just been a short conversation about death, and Sally seemed afraid, needing to hear more, so I lingered in the background, unwilling to interrupt.

The nurse bent over the hospital bed again and said it was all right to die, that Sally was going to a wonderful place, but would not go alone on the journey. Someone would be there to guide her. “That person may come to you in a dream,” she concluded.

“Is that you?” Sally asked, wide-eyed. “Will you go with me?”

“No,” the nurse said in a comforting voice. “People you have loved will accompany you.”

I knew what she was talking about and how marvelous it was: the “wow-oh-wow” moment Steve Jobs’s sister Mona Simpson reported witnessing at his death.

As the nurse gathered her things and left, I thought back to caring for my elderly mom during her last months on earth and realized both women were fortunate to have benefited from hospice at the end of their lives. It occurred to me that hospice should be a human right. Everyone should be able to die with dignity, in their own bedroom.

Sally seemed to have dozed off. Her breathing apnea had not yet started, nor had the deep breaths that preceded death by two days. I approached the bed, sat down, and took her hand.

“Thank you for being such a good neighbor,” I said, not sure if my words would register. “Thanks for giving us so much joy.”

“It’s mutual,” Sally managed to croak back.

When I returned the following afternoon, her eyes were closed but she reached out her hand to hold mine. We sat there in silence for a while. Words are superfluous at such times, but some important ones had been missing in Sally’s life of late, so I said them on behalf of all her friends who had not been able to come or felt turned off by the approach of death or lived far away or whose brains were not wired for empathy: “I love you, Sally,” I whispered, stroking her cheek.

“Thank you,” came the response. “I love you, too.”

Sally will remain with me in memory. I will think of her every time an oriole streaks across the sky, whenever I encounter peanut-flavored dog biscuits, which she invented for a beloved pet, and, of course, in walking past her house to Dyer Pond ...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On Point Features Senator Dan Wolf

Wellfleet is fortunate to have Dan Wolf as its state senator. This Tuesday, Dan was interviewed by Mindy Todd of Cape & Islands Radio for her show On Point. Senator Wolf discussed his priorities. I was pleased to get an emailed question in on NStar, and to hear his response. The Senator also went into detail on why the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant should not have its license renewed. It is important to elect legislators who care about their constituents. This inspiring interview lasts only thirty minutes. Do listen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's Wrong With This Picture?

I'll give you a clue. It's not the buoy, or the sardines. The magnificent mural on the Wellfleet Marketplace front window includes, choke-choke, plastic silverware. While I understand that eating utensils may be in demand in summer for picnics, I cringe at all the plastic forks and knives that end up in my recycling bin. We need to do a better job. We can do a better job. We must do a better job. Yesterday came news from the EPA that plastic bag recycling has diminished over the past year. This is not surprising when it comes to Wellfleet because, despite the Recycling Commission's best efforts, not everyone is refusing plastic bags and bringing their own. There's a sign on the door at Wellfleet Marketplace, but it is very, very easy to miss. What can you do about it? (Thought you would never ask!) Suggest a bigger sign. Always bring your own totes. Ask why the sign is so small. Make a beautiful LARGE sign that cannot be refused when you suggest posting it to the door. Thank the salesman or lady when he/she asks if you need a plastic bag. (You really don't.) Think of the environment. Let's make a resolution for 2012 to improve that EPA statistic, as least where Wellfleet is concerned ... With me?

Check out this great list from my friend Kris Bordessa at Attainable Sustainable. Plastic bag reduction is on it, but do check out the other 62 small changes that make a difference.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Why Winter in Wellfleet: Sunsets!

I have said it before, and I will say it again, Wellfleet sunsets, in winter, are fantabulous. As the sun sinks in the west, the sky fills with the most amazing colors, reflected off the water in the harbor or the flats at low tide. The pier makes a great observation post, but Mayo Beach is nice, too. I took these photos from Mayo Beach, less than a minute apart, because Sven was waiting for me back in the car. Which one do you like best?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

PB Delivers for the Holidays

Last night Sven and I ate at PB Boulangerie Bistro. We had the "prix fixe menu," ie. a green salad, swordfish with risotto, and a dessert, all for $30. The food was, of course, delicious. PB is planning some incredible holiday meals, so do check them out if you happen to be on Cape. (Seven Fishes on December 24th, and a very special multiple-course New Year's Eve dinner the following week for $190.) While we were at PB, we were able to appreciate the extensive decorations for Noel, as well as the new fire pit outside and multiple water fountains. As we were leaving, it occurred to me again how fortunate we are here in Wellfleet to have this top-notch French bistro with its excellent chef, friendly staff, and pleasant ambiance. I think I can say, without risk of error, that they are all looking forward to the month and a half vacation that starts with the first days of 2012. For once, Sven and I were seated on the patio, and, actually, it was easier to keep up a conversation, because the only person making noise was Frank Sinatra, on the loud-speaker!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do You Get It?

Here on Cape Cod, we do not need four herbicides sprayed under our power lines. (Tell the EPA to ban glyphosate by signing this petition.) Toxic chemicals will get into our sole-source aquifer. Traces will end up in drinking water. Years from now, our children will look back and say, why did you not stop this?

Did you know that a study, relating to Cape Cod, was published by Boston University this week? The neurotoxin PCE, used from the late 1960s to the 1980s as vinyl-lining in the pipes of eight Cape communities – but, fortunately, not Wellfleet – leached into drinking water. Cape Codders who were exposed to PCE before birth, or as infants and toddlers, are believed to have an increased risk of drug-related problems, "risky behavior," later in life. (Hat tip to Sharyn, who forwarded this article.) Will these people also get cancer, since PCE is a carcinogen?

Last week The New York Times reported a probable link between the use of Tylenol (acetaminophen) in childhood and asthma.

How many new studies do we need? Every week fresh information on the side effects of synthetic chemicals pops up and nothing is done about it. The FDA and the EPA are like hobbled horses. Chemical companies, bent on profit, hold the reins now. Yesterday EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called for limits on mercury emissions, but will these new standards get blocked by Congress and the courts?

If I sound a bit hysterical, it's because I am. Last winter I read Pollution: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment by Benjamin Ross and Steven Amter, a book which describes how the chemical industry has systematically avoided regulation. These policies continue. When will we all wake up?

There has been a major miscalculation over the 60 years since the end of World War II. Synthetic chemicals have residual effects beyond their original use. We need to take this into account ourselves, since our government seems incapable of doing so. Toxic chemicals, once created and exploited, can remain in the environment for decades and will harm us. We may absorb them through the water we drink. We may take some into our bodies in the air we breathe, like, for instance, diesel fumes, (which may soon be better regulated in Boston). They can be on non-stick cookware and get into cooked food. Even non-organic food is dangerous, laden with pesticide residue and carrying the risk of BPA leached from packaging.

I feel like Cassandra, crying a warning. In shock I watched a video from Monsanto in which company reps explained to farmers that they must do whatever it takes to rid their fields of weeds resistant to Roundup. No thought is given to the toxic effect of additional pesticides in our food and groundwater. No one speaks out to ask why Roundup Ready crops have failed and require more pesticides, not less.

McKay Jenkins gets it. His book What’s Gotten Into Us? Staying Healthy in a Toxic World sounds the alarm. He hopes that if we change our focus and approach the problem as “a health issue that affects kids”, environmentalists may get more traction.

Carcinogen abolitionist Sandra Steingraber gets it. The author of Living Downstream and Raising Elijah got cancer at age 20. She looked around and asked herself why. Her examination of the evidence led to conclusions, which she explains at the Breast Cancer Action Web site.

I, too, wonder at the disconnect between what the “scientific community knows about environmental carcinogens (quite a lot) and what cancer patients are told (very little).”

How can we change this situation? Elect legislators who get it. Support groups like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.
In the meantime, do the best you can to protect your loved ones from the stealth toxins that have become part of 21st century life.

I like to hope that, over the past few years, posts like this one have helped you become more aware of the dangers posed by synthetic chemicals in the environment. Would I be correct in this assumption? I know, at least, that my own adult children pay more attention to the pollution of food, water, and air. Do you?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's New on the Bookshelf?

Eva and Henry, A Cape Cod Marriage makes the perfect gift for all your friends who love Wellfleet. The novel, written by Irene Paine, describes life in South Wellfleet in the 1880s and won the Independent Publishers 2011 Silver Award for Best Regional Fiction for the North-East. The heroine is the author’s great grandaunt, an actual person who lived and died in the place she loved the best, Paine Hollow. Eva Paine marries her neighbor, a second cousin and sea captain. Irene did considerable research and often seems to channel Eva as she goes about daily chores.

I loved the details, like, for instance, pond ice being used to cool drinks in summer, buggies, not automobiles, being the main means of transportation, the dust kicked up by the horses back when Cape roads were all dirt, the punk sticks used in summer against mosquitoes. A sea captain’s life was not an easy one with Blackfish Harbor shoaling up. The brave souls who inhabited the Outer Cape lived by the seasons back then, too, and observed the beginnings of the tourist invasion not without apprehension. Little did they realize real estate values would sky-rocket, denying home ownership to some of their descendents. If you like being transported back in time, Eva and Henry is the novel for you.

Here’s a short excerpt: “If these folks only knew of the number of terrible shipwrecks that have caused loss of life through the dangerous winter months, they might be a bit more somber in the presence of the mighty Atlantic. To many residents, the ocean beach is still considered a graveyard. We’ve observed the horror of shipwreck so many times. When I was a tiny girl, before the railroad brought the summer visitors, no children played at the backshore as it was considered disrespectful to the dead.”

Find information on buying/ordering this book here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

P-town, Deserted, too, in Quiet Season

Provincetown was surprisingly empty of all signs of life last weekend when Sven and I journeyed down the highway to take in the sights. Few of the stores were open. There were a few bicyclists, but not many pedestrians. We saw a houseboat out on the bay, but no right whales, spotted last week by Stormy Mayo at Coastal Studies. There was a cool lobster trap tree near the town pier. Apparently, this Christmas New England is asking Who Has The Fairest Lobster Trap Tree of All? The one in P-town was quite fair indeed. Recently off-season Provincetown was described in a Yankee Magazine Blog, a fluff post but with lots of photos. Now why doesn’t Yankee feature a place blog like this one to get the real scoop on what’s going on in an Outer Cape town?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peaceful Pond

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Prez. Hall Carolers Tour Downtown Wellfleet

Two dozen Wellfleetians gathered yesterday evening at Prez. Hall for Wellfleet’s first foray into caroling in quite a while, organized by Tracy and Swede Plaut. Everyone was dressed warmly although the temperature had not yet dropped. Jingle bells were tested, songbooks handed out, lanterns lit. All that was missing were the snowflakes to make the holiday picture complete. The mood was joyous as folks arrived with offerings for the Pond Hill School potluck supper later on. Sally Hay, the youngest member of the caroling party, couldn’t wait for the gaiety to begin, nestled close to her mom’s bosom in a Baby Bjorn. Outside, the group practiced, at my request, starting with a rousing Deck the Halls, the appropriate choice without a doubt. Then it was off, down Main Street, two by two.

“Where will we sing?” someone asked.

“Any house that has a human being,” replied Swede, above left.

The first stop was the liquor store. At certain destinations, the carolers were greeted with cookies and hot cider, as well as holiday cheer. Not everyone was fortunate enough to receive a serenade, but town historian Helen Purcell was on the list. She was thrilled.

Do you enjoy caroling? Will you join the carolers next year?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Should Cumberland Farms Be Allowed to Expand/Rebuild & Add Gas Pumps?

A blog reader alerted me to the ZBA hearing on the Cumberland Farms special permit request, which took place yesterday and was continued to February 2. I did not intend to sit through another three-hour meeting but ended up doing just that in order to share my impressions here. “Cumby’s” plans to raze the existing building on Route 6, as well as the abandoned house behind the convenience/package store. A new larger building, requiring 42 parking spaces, would rise at the back of the lot. Three gas pumps would be installed at the front. There are two major questions I would like to explore, and I would be delighted to have your opinions. 1.) Is this expansion appropriate to the character of town, given the fact that Wellfleet voted at Town Meeting against “formula” businesses? 2.) Does the ZBA serve the interests of the town, or is the board’s goal to facilitate special permit requests?

The lawyer representing Cumby’s said, “We believe the benefits far surpass …” blah, blah, blah. He talked fast and had his back to the audience, so it was impossible to hear all his points. Here’s a quick summary of what I was able to get of what he saw as benefits:

1.) improved store design for people with disabilities;
2.) one-stop availability: convenience/liquor, gas;
3.) elimination of the potential hazard if heading north and need to cross Route 6 to reach the Mobil station;
4.) promise to resolve the drainage problem;
5.) connection to municipal water system on Cahoon Hollow, financed by Cumby's.

There were not as many Wellfleetians present as for the Dunkin’ Donuts hearing last week, but still over a dozen people did show up, most of them abutters. Letters from absent abutters were also read. One letter mentioned the fuel tanks that would be below ground, close by a wet land. Everyone took issue with lighting and screening. Some dared to speak against the granting of the special permit.

Personally, I am concerned with safety issues for anyone with children in the “parking area” as no sidewalks are planned. The scene at Cumby’s and the package store is crazy enough, in summer, without the added complication of gas pumps. I question the need for a third (fourth, if Irving returns) filling station, and worry about an increase in turns back onto Route 6 in summer, as north-bound traffic will choose Cumby’s for gas.

Cape Cod Times columnist Brent Harold challenged the project as a whole and said he hoped the board would ask itself whether this proposal should be considered under the new bylaw and “what are the real benefits for this town.” He reminded ZBA members, “You represent the town. Most people will not want formula businesses. More left-hand turns is not a benefit.”

David Sullivan stated he felt the discussion should not be about the type of trees or the number of parking spots but rather about town character. “Wellfleet’s going down a slippery slope. This town is based on tourists. They come here because we are NOT like their hometown. This will affect the mindset of people and how they view Wellfleet. I don’t know if people understand the ramifications. Bay Sails will want to become a Home Depot.” On the other side, a CVS would move in, etc. …

His arguments reminded me of statements made last week by audience members, after the reading of a letter from the only person in favor of the Dunkin’ donuts proposal, the building inspector, who hailed the proposed drive-thru as an “attractive gateway” to our town.

Morrill summarized, “We don’t want this kind of thing in Wellfleet …The adverse conditions outweigh the benefits.”

Traffic issues were not really addressed with the study done on Oct. 19, 2010. Audience member Steve Curley feels a viable traffic study should be conducted in summer. “You can’t project numbers based on October. MA highway should take part,” he told me later over the phone. “The ZBA did the same for PB Bistro. Look at the mess the traffic is now down there. They were supposed to do a traffic study in 2010. I asked a member of the board about it, and he said, ‘Guess we forgot.’”

I’m not going to get into technicalities of the application and whether the change of business request and the expansion request can/should be grouped or not. I know volunteer boards work hard and devote countless hours of private time to the consideration of town-related business. What I question is the chair’s statement that the board would “try to make the decision as fast as we can,” in what seemed almost a bend-over-backwards attempt to please the petitioner and his lawyer. As I sat there listening and thought back to the Dunkin’ Donuts hearing a week ago, it dawned on me that the ZBA hesitates to refuse these special permits. Are they afraid of lawsuits? Why green-light everything, especially if there is a sound legal basis to refuse?

What do you think? Are you in favor of Cumberland Farms’ plan for expansion and addition of a gas station? Do you think the benefits will outweigh the adverse effects, or visa versa?

Friday, December 16, 2011

What's Up this Weekend in Wellfleet?

Above, a shellfisherman collects shellfish for dinner. Not everyone in Wellfleet can put food on the table. Help those in need by contributing to the Food Pantry. There are donation boxes at several locations in town including the library, COA, Wellfleet Marketplace and Grace Chapel Assembly of God. Please make a contribution of any food or non-food item to these collection boxes. If you live off-Cape, please consider sending a check. Money is very useful as the Food Pantry is able to purchase food items from the Greater Boston Food Bank at reasonable rates, as well as buy other items in bulk. No contribution is too small. Consider sharing what you can with others. Checks can be made out to the Wellfleet Food Pantry, PO Box 625, South Wellfleet MA 02663.

This was a record year of giving for Todd LeBart, owner of The Beachcomber. He contributed a total of $100,000 to charity. This sum includes a food donation to the Mustard Seed Kitchen. May his generosity inspire us all. (An annual tradition, The Beachcomber donates food leftover at the end of the season to Mustard Seed’s “Meals on Wheels” program. The value of food donated this year was $500.)

Another way to help fellow Wellfleetians is to attend the final Yule For Fuel at WHAT on Saturday night, a benefit for the Lower Cape Outreach Council’s Fuel Assistance Program. Performances will feature The Higher Ground String Band singing. Bluegrass gospel, folk, old time and original compositions by band members; The Seaside Brass Quartet playing Celtic-Folk music; The Trees, the local band playing simple vocal melodies and harmonies accompanied by acoustic guitars and rhythmic beats; Bruce Maclean mixing the sounds of California surf, Memphis rockabilly and 60's pop and psychedelia; and Randy & the Oak Trees.

Prior to Yule for Fuel, join Wellfleetians in carol song at 5:30, Preservation Hall. Carolers will walk down Main Street to the harbor.

Got toys your kids no longer use? Drop them off at The Furies.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On Fleece

I had not turned up the heat and was feeling cold. Where was my fleece vest, so easy to throw over a wool sweater? I located it in a pile of laundry. There’s nothing like being encased in plastic, is there? Still, fleece should not be on your holiday gift list. Make imminent disengagement one of your new year’s resolutions for 2012.

Oh, I know. Polar fleece is so soft and appealing. Sven wears it. I wear it. Even my grandson wears it.

We must not forget the fact that polar fleece remains a synthetic. The PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, or polyester. We hear the word RECYCLED and cheer, but whoa. Other factors come into play …

First off, the popularity of fleece would seem, to some people, a good excuse to continue using plastic water bottles. They are all recycled, right? Hardly. What’s more, fleece is not always made from plastic water bottles. Some companies don’t bother.

Inventor Aaron Feurerstein did not patent his new fabric, made of recycled plastic, in the hope the idea would really take off. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. But, non-recycled fleece exists, too. It’s made from non-renewable petroleum derivatives, according to Wikipedia.

Fleece is available at Wellfleet Marketplace, and Preservation Hall. For several years I have bought no new polar fleece but continue to wear second-hand picked up in thrift stores. Now comes word that fleece must not only be second-hand, but also rarely washed. Did you know washing fleece is bad for marine life? HUH? Yup. That’s what a study showed last month. 2000 polyester fibers shake loose from one piece of fleece clothing. Here in Wellfleet, where laundry rinse flows through our septic systems into the harbor, breeding-grounds supreme for clams and oysters, we should think twice about those micro-plastics being absorbed by shellfish. Read all about it in this recent Grist article.

And, what about fleece clothing for my grandson? I tend to think it should be avoided whenever possible, too. Blanket My Baby explains why go organic, “Organic products have increased benefits for babies and children. Because of their high metabolism and low body weights, children are especially susceptible to toxins. The young brain develops rapidly from conception to age three. Babies absorb more toxins per pound of body weight than adults. It is especially important during these years to choose toxin-free products.”

And, from “Researchers at Tufts Medical School noticed that cancer cells being grown in the lab multiplied more quickly in polyester test tubes than in glass. It appears that polyester slowly emits phytoestrogens, which are endocrine disruptors, or compounds similar to estrogen, which can promote certain types of cancer.”

Shoot! Another reason to avoid fleece. Have you given it up yet?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What's New on the Bookshelf?

I know what you are thinking. Another cookbook? How many cookbooks does one need? This one is different, promise. In fact, the Earthbound Cookbook is unique because green tips are scattered throughout as sidebars. The author is Myra Goodman, co-founder of Earthbound Farm, the source of organic vegetables for many a household across the USA for 25 years. Myra has written a cookbook with a conscience. What’s more, the recipes are yummy. For Thanksgiving, I prepared Roasted Butternut Squash, Fennel and Cranberries, and it was delicious. The flavors melded incredibly well. This cookbook makes the perfect holiday gift for the family gourmet who likes to cook/eat and is considering going green but hasn't quite taken the first steps.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Update on Herbicial Spraying on Cape Cod

This weekend, at the Preservation Hall crafts fair, quite a few people asked me for an update on the situation regarding herbicidal spraying. As far as I know, NStar plans to begin spraying four herbicides under the power lines in the spring. The moratorium will be up at the end of the month. The latest news is that the merger with Northeast Utilities has stalled. It is not clear to me exactly why. Northeast did not do such a hot job cleaning up after the storm in Connecticut last month, recent guests told me. They had no electricity for nine days. According to The New York Times, NStar CEO Thomas May will make $8.3 million if the merger does happen. May is not the only one who will become even richer. NStar's top five executives will receive $50 million in severance and change-of-control payments. This is obscene. What happened to corporate responsibility? When did greed take over? Why don't such corporate leaders care about the lives of citizens? You may have seen the NStar trucks out this month, trimming branches. Yes, they care about keeping the power on during winter storms. Why are they unable to extend that empathy to caring about our health?

Today, the Cape Cod Times published an article written by my organic horticulturist friend Laura Kelly in the column My View. Please read and tell your friends to pay attention. Her piece explains why NStar should abandon its plan to use herbicides over our sole-source aquifer.

Here's Laura:

"NStar plans to begin herbicidal spraying throughout Cape Cod's rights of way in 2012. The second moratorium ends Dec. 31, and there has been no update from our utility company.

As an organic gardener, I've been active in the effort to prevent contamination of our sole-source aquifer through the unnecessary overuse of herbicides. For the past three years, NStar has listened to thousands of Cape residents like me, as well as nonresidents, all requesting the use of alternatives, but NStar executives haven't budged. They'll move forward with spraying 120 miles of Cape power lines with a combination of herbicides: Accord (glyphosate), Krenite S (fosamine ammonium), Escort XP (metsulfuron-methyl), Arsenal (imazapyr) and Garlon 4 (triclopyr), a combination never tested together or with a surfactant on Cape's sandy soils.

These chemicals come from the same company that brought us Agent Orange, DDT, dioxin and genetically modified crops. As usual, Monsanto claims its product is safe, based on its own testing. Will this happen with Roundup/glyphosate as well? I guess it already has, right? Here we are repeating history by making the same mistakes.

I suggest our state representatives adopt the precautionary principle to protect our environment and the habitats that naturally thrive on Cape Cod. Once these toxic chemicals are released onto our land, there's no turning back. Manual labor is sufficient to prune vegetation. It's only a matter of keeping up with new growth. But NStar prefers toxins. Considering these chemicals have not been tested together, or on sandy soil, I worry about our drinking water.

Many consumers believe Roundup is safe. Until recently, researchers focused solely on the health effects of a single active ingredient, glyphosate. New research at the University of Caen, as reported in Green Living Ideas, has shown that the "inert" ingredients amplify the toxic effects on human cells. Turns out "inert" ingredients are sometimes highly toxic, too. (Disclosure of "inert" ingredients isn't required on labels).

People have asked me if glyphosate is in the Roundup brand herbicide. Yes, it is. And one of its "inert" ingredients, called POEA (polyethoxethylene-alkylamine), has been found to kill human cells, especially embryonic and placental cells. POEA is a surfactant derived from animal fat, added to help Roundup penetrate plants' surfaces, making it more effective.

Researchers have discovered that POEA amplifies glyphosate's toxicity. Even at low exposures, Roundup is unhealthy for people. Evidence of its harmful effects keeps piling up: The University of Caen research found that Roundup causes birth defects, infertility, and malformations in newborns whose mothers are exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy. Also, the herbicide continues to be active much longer than we were led to believe.

According to a report in Earth Open Source, industry and regulators knew the truth about Roundup in the 1980s, but corporate executives failed to inform the public. I look upon this situation as an environmental health disaster in the making. Future generations will look back and say, how could you allow this? What were you thinking?

Like Roundup, Accord contains glyphosate. I want to be able to consume drinking water from Cape Cod's sole-source aquifer. How about you? What if spraying herbicides by NStar contaminates our water? We don't have a pipeline from a quarry or another fresh water source close by.

Help protect local drinking water by telling your state representatives to ban Roundup/glyphosate altogether and protect pets, children and the future of Cape drinking water.

We also need to do our part and not spread synthetic chemicals or fertilizers onto our own land. I use chicken manure, which works quite well.

Time's running out. As an organic gardener, I know alternative methods exist to control vegetative overgrowth. Suggest that NStar seek alternatives. Let them be creative and forward-thinking. May they look outside the chemical box for a truly greener future."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dune, Fence & Sky

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Local Crafters & Artists Make Prez. Hall Shine

Sparkle was in hearts and minds at Wellfleet's annual crafts fair. Preservation Hall was again the place to be yesterday for the annual Deck-This-Hall event. I went downtown early, as soon as our guests had finished breakfast, in order to get first choice on one-of-a-kind items, perfect holiday gifts. To my delight, I discovered a number of the artisans had worked with recycled materials. Also, there were lots of families with kids. Come take a walk with me as I peruse the 2011 stalls …

First, a huge hats-off to Tracy Plaut, organizer-in-chief. Tracy was both the muse and the manager. As Sven pointed out, our favorite masseuse seemed to be everywhere, ducking into Chez Kathleen to offer the chef encouragement, distributing Sampson Fund literature, dashing off to welcome Santa. When does this woman rest? Wellfleet is so lucky to have Tracy. I like to think her community spirit rubs off on the rest of us like exquisite fairy dust.

There were thirty-one booths at the crafts fair this year, not including face-painting, always a hit with the kids, and displays of regular Prez. Hall gear, augmented with pickles and jams. Lots of Wellfleetians came. Even Santa put in an appearance. Unfortunately, it would be impossible to list every booth, so in no special order, here are the dozen I visited ...

Whispering Cowgirl is a local shop, beside The Juice, and sells what I call "fashion with attitude." Ginny Parker told me she started out with saddles and has never looked back. Local artists, like Kim Deane, as well as Virgin Saints & Angels, from Mexico, are big draws during spring and summer. Both natives and tourists do love the funky clothing. Here Ginny is finishing up a sale with Gracie Smith. “Oh, my God! That’s adorable!” cried a young woman to a friend, fingering a flimsy mini-skirt behind us. I wanted to buy just about everything I touched in Ginny’s display.

Very pregnant Hannah Choi, owner of Eliza Bee’s Baby Gear, lives in Eastham. I admired her baby blankets, and doll blankets, as well as hats and snazzy bibs. Outfit your little one with cuddle from Eliza Bee’s. Hannah uses all new materials but maximizes their usage. Nice! ... At the next stall, Emily Lewis from W. Dennis showed off work created from vintage fabric and buttons, including baby blankets made with chenille bedspreads. Her whimsical pincushions used recycled materials but smelled of sweet lavender. “Tracy found me at Oysterfest,” Emily said. “I’ll do a bigger table next year if this goes well.” Her Harwich-friend Jack raises peacocks. I bought my granddaughter a headband that featured a peacock feather. Emily does not sell online. “I want to deal with the people,” she explained. (Find her clever creations at Rear View Mirror, in Brewster.)

Outside, I spoke to Suzanne Early from Quincy who was hawking goods from a women's co-op that included wool wear and beautiful totes sewn from recycled fabric. It was her jewelry that caught my eye though, made of recycled glass. “I do it right on my kitchen table,” she said. “When women wear them, it reminds them to just breathe.” And, that’s the name of her business, Just Breathe. Suzanne is a regular at the Wellfleet flea market. She is currently selling online at Zhibit but asked everyone to stop by Miracles for Maureen, a site created for a friend who has melanoma. I enjoyed talking to Suzanne. Such positive energy!

Back inside, I picked up some marvelous alpaca socks for the one remaining person on my shopping list, nephew Ben. Nancy Flanagan, below, was so busy with customers that she barely had time to say hi, and, indeed, she had brought her daughter along to assist with sales. Here Marla Rice considers buying alpaca, too. There were also soft scarves, texting gloves, and yarn from the farm on Old King's Highway. Everyone was thinking warmth, apparently. With winter on the way, alpaca wool from Wellfleet and Peru seemed the perfect gift. Check out this fancy shawl not made in China. The pleasure of buying local knows no bounds. Perhaps that’s why Sandspit Alpacas was doing such great business? Before reporting on Santa, I wanted to also mention Nautical Chart Jewelry, created in Yarmouthport by Donna Credit, the Wellfleet Candy Company of Marstons Mills, new home of the chocolate oyster, and Wellfleet’s Chris Kelly of Sweet Baking, queen of the gingerbread house, but also responsible for the chocolate bombs on sale at Hot Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans. I stopped to chat with Bethia Brehmer, a Wellfleet artist who had just produced an assortment of attractive and very original clocks.

While asking Tracy a couple questions, a small woman at a T-shirt stand called me over. “Are you from Chez Sven?” she asked. “I want you to know these T-shirts are all organic cotton, and our inks are phthalates-free.” Jennifer Witnauer told me further that she has just moved here and reads my blog. I’m sure her clothes for kids at MeMe will fit the bill for the tots on your shopping list. (I had fun at the crafts fair, but, as you can imagine, this was my happiest moment, finding another like-minded soul/blog-reader!)

With the collaboration of Roger Putnam, Santa arrived at noon and took a seat in a corner of the foyer. It was fascinating to observe the excitement his presence produced. One little girl literally could not stop jumping up and down. In this photo, Susan Weeger encourages a wee lad to share his list of toys while young Kyri looks on longingly, hugging her Minnie Mouse doll. Meeting Santa can be a bit overwhelming. But even some grown-ups feel compelled to sit on his lap, a point proved by a recently-engaged Emily Frawley who gave Santa a big hug, above left. “Did you tell him you already had everything you wanted?” asked Tracy with a wink.

Back outside, I chatted with Susie Nielson. Susie is a graphic designer who owns Farm Gallery on Commercial Street. I craved all the porcelain created by a local gal of Russian origin, Asya Palatova, an artist who works with words. Susie and I discussed Wellfleet’s need for a workspace, appropriate for writers. She collaborated with Sky Freyss-Cole on a mini-proposal to start such a workspace. I told her about how Judith Stiles, now on the Economic Development Committee, had suggested a similar space for artists, which Susie had not heard about. “All these little connections coming together,” she said, shaking her head in wonder. Hey now, that’s community!

It was dandy to see so many local folks busy making a living, and having fellow citizens support this effort by spending hard-earned cash. The event was so successful that it is to be expanded from one to two days for 2012 and held in a tent behind Prez. Hall.

Did you attend any crafts fairs this year? Were you at Preservation Hall? What did you like best?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kevin Rice's Occupy Prez. Hall Rocks Prez. Hall

A talented group of Wellfleetians performed last night at Preservation Hall, during an evening of protest and satire, imagined by Kevin Rice and entitled Occupy Prez. Hall or “Tales of Woe from the Wealthy.” The room was packed, which is not surprising because word of this type of event spreads fast. The premise? Seven individuals, representing the 1%, were to compete for two tents set up outside. Each had a tale of woe to explain why he or she deserved a tent. Which rich person was the worst off? Contestants were to be judged on how far they had fallen. Each had a reversal-of-fortune sob story to tell. This may sound loony, and it was, but also hilarious, with puns and wit galore.

After the “Mayor of Wellfleetia” had welcomed the audience, Facilities Manager Fred Fiddle (Dick Morrill) Googled Heaven on his iPhone and actually got a number. The menu had changed, of course. Fiddle pressed 6 to speak to Jesus but reached the Wellfleet Transfer Station instead. “Oh, but I can transfer you,” announced a voice. “Hello, Jesus?” Fiddle said. “You might know me from the Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theater …” “WHAT?!” replied Jesus. Yes, the sketches were pure Wellfleet. (On the left, Stephen Russell, as tipsy financial assistant/butler Manfred, manages to make even Kevin laugh.) These antics were interrupted from time to time by P-blasts and the occasional “I say tax the rich!” from Bob Costa in the audience. (Bob advocated for the 99% and eventually claimed a seat among the seven one-percenters.)

At the beginning of the second act, I read a short excerpt from Occupy My Heart, Seth Rolbrain (Rolbein) appeared as legal counsel, explaining his function in unintelligible legal- speak, and Irene Paine led a rousing version of Charlie and the Wall Street Riot, to the tune of Charlie on the MTA. Then it was back to the 1% and a talent contest to see who would win the coveted tents. My vote went to Nicholas Goldrush (Gulde) who performed a number from The Snowman in the Dunes, that is until Eden Applebottom (Paula Erickson) sang a very original “Santa Baby,” asking for Botox and stocks, among other gifts.

Still with me? As if this were not crazy enough, Bruce Bentley (Bierhans) took the stage to moderate a spelling bee, challenging the 1% with words such as "chinchilla," "portfolio" and "escargots." When Nicholas was eliminated because he had omitted the "s," Ed Miller protested, “This whole thing is rigged,” and occupied the rostrum, making the wealthy spell words like “oligarchy” and “uninsurable”.

Only in Wellfleet, known for its “bleeding-heart liberalism,” as the Mayor pointed out at the beginning of the show. David Money (Wright) ended the night with an amazing song. It was fun, such fun! Bravo to all the performers and especially to Kevin Rice whose final words were, “Power to the people!”