Monday, April 30, 2012

Wellfleetians, Vote Today

There are three people up for two Selectmen seats. This is an important election for Wellfleet. Please remember to vote!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Back to the Ocean!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Boris Villatte to Open Bakery in Falmouth

Here's another rumor I had heard, but it was not confirmed until this week. Boris will open a bakery called Maison Villatte in Falmouth, and I wish him well in this new endeavor. The bread at PB Boulangerie Bistro has not been as good since Boris left, almost a year ago, but I'm sure Philippe is working on fixing that and the food remains exceptional. I do not plan to drive two hours for bread. Had Boris chosen Chatham, yes. Once in a while. How about you?

More Photos of Welfleet's Indian Neck Beach

Friday, April 27, 2012

Exploring Wellfleet's Indian Neck Beaches

I had never visited Burton Baker or Indian Neck Beach until this week. I know that sounds silly but it's true. Both beaches are located on Indian Neck, behind the jetty, visible from the pier. If you have a map of Wellfleet handy, check it out. Indian Neck juts out into the water. For a long time, I thought this piece of Wellfleet was named because of its shape from the air. Wrong! Turns out early settlers sent the native Pononakanets to a place named St. James Neck, creating a local “reservation,” if you will. The name evolved into “Indian” Neck because that was where “Indians” lived. Native Americans also died here, burying their dead in what we now call ossuaries. The Pononakanets called the place "Tuttumnest."

***This blog post is interrupted by a news flash you probably will not have heard on American television, radio, or newspaper. The United Nations is to begin an investigation of the living conditions of the 2.7 million Native Americans still living in the USA, descendents of those the white man didn’t manage to kill. Read all about it in this Guardian article. Now we return to our regular programming.***

The beach Sven and I explored was attractive and offered a small parking lot. I hate to think of the number of cars there in summer! A stiff breeze was blowing during our visit, making me think Indian Neck residents must have cooler temps than on the “mainland.” Most of the houses seem to be summer homes.

It gives a completely different perspective to view the town from across the harbor.

The Wellfleet Conservation Trust will host a walk on Indian Neck in September.

Only three questions for those of you who have summer memories of this part of Wellfleet:
1.) Is this beach Burton Baker or Indian Neck?
2.) If Indian Neck, where is Burton Baker?
3.) Who is Burton Baker Beach named after?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In Which Sven Meets His First Cousin

Once upon a time, in the fairly distant past, a little boy accompanied his mother to the local cemetery. They paused before his grandfather’s grave, as they usually did on All Saints Day, to offer their respects. The little boy, who had recently learned to read Swedish, happened to notice that his grandfather had died two years before his mother’s birth, according to the grave marker.

“How can that be?” he asked. “It says Grandfather died before you were born.”

The mother broke into tears. “Don’t ever ask me that question again,” she said.

The little boy screwed up his mouth and never did.

His younger brother, however, had never made such a promise and, once adult, decided to investigate. When he returned to Varmland from his home in Lidingo, outside Stockholm, it was easy to ask old aunties for details. They told him that there had been rumors, and most people believed the father of Maria’s fourth child, Anna, was the town merchant, whose name was Bresky. Why? The Bresky family celebrated Jewish holidays and always invited Anna to join them. Maria had been a widow at the time. What’s more, Anna’s dark good looks hinted at a genealogical chart that included more exotic branches than just Hakkarinens, recent immigrants from Finland.

By now you have probably figured out the little boy was Sven. Even as an adult, he felt an obligation to keep his promise. When I asked about Anna’s family, Sven told me his brother had always wondered whether they might be related to Tomas Bresky, a famous Swedish journalist, but that no, they had never gotten in touch, and perhaps there was nothing to the rumors.

Since Sven isn’t like anyone I have met in his family, I figured he must have inherited from his mother’s father side and wanted to know more. I Googled Tomas Bresky and up popped a photo. Tomas looks very much like Sven’s brother, who died in 2000 from pancreatic cancer, so much so that there was no doubt in my mind. Here was Sven’s long-lost cousin!

I pestered my husband until he made contact. Anna had told him an unusual story about Tomas’s uncle that Sven shared with the retired journalist when they met in Sweden last summer. But, Sven did not manage to say that he thought they were related, still feeling reluctant to break his promise and reveal Anna’s secret. Tomas was curious to know how Sven could possibly have heard the unusual family story ...

The impasse did not reach resolution until last week, when Tomas and his wife Gunilla, below, wearing their new Cape Cod caps, finally were able to visit. The two men are happy to have found each other, albeit later in life. Tomas tells us Sven resembles their grandfather. What’s more, Tomas’s father was also named Sven. How touching that Anna would have named her first-born after a man who was, in fact, her secret younger half-brother!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Rentals Tax" Proposal Passes Town Meeting

Above, a Wellfleet beach in summer, full of summer visitors. Readers requested that I write about the proposal for a “rentals tax” article on the Town Warrant, so here's a summary ...

Yesterday evening, Selectman Paul Pilcher explained Article 20 would give the town the authority to impose a tax if approved by the legislature. The tax would be from 1 to 5%. The renter would assume this tax, not the person renting. He said that last year 5000 beach stickers were sold for one or two week stays in peak season. Eastham, Brewster, and Provincetown have already submitted similar requests to the legislature. The town needs a new source of revenue. Taxing summer visitors seems to make sense since they use services provided by the town. The tax percentage would be decided at a future Town Meeting. There ensued a long discussion. I will simply supply a brief summary of the varying points-of-view …

Selectwoman Berta Bruinooge reported having done some research. "Rental income is a significant business,” she declared. Online, there were 236 rentals listed in Wellfleet the week she looked. Three were over $8000 per week. Twenty-two cost between $5000 and $8000. 84 cost between $2500 and $4999. 111 cost between $1000 and $2499. There were only sixteen under $1000.

Ben Zehnder said he was concerned about the details of collection. The response was that the property owner would collect the tax and submit it to the town.

Manny Smith spoke in favor. “Tourists put a huge burden on Wellfleet,” he said. “Tourists are not paying their fair share. The average tourist is better off than the average Wellfleetian. This is not a tax on Wellfleet homeowners.”

Curt Felix said he was “opposed very strongly” and added, “It’s a false economy we have here in tourism land.” He also pointed out that the burden would be on people who rent for less than $2000 and suggested Wellfleet try to control spending instead.

John Wolf pointed out that not every landlord would be able to pass the tax on to renters, that some people rent rooms to those who work in the town over the summer.

Nate Johnson suggested tightening the budget instead. He stated that friends came to visit in August and found Wellfleet expensive already.

Brent Harold said that market determines price, so landlords could not simply add it on and assume it would make no difference to a rental business.

Berta Bruinooge pleaded, “This is a pill we need to swallow.”

Janet Lowenstein said, “I ran a B&B for 11 years and a weekly rental cottage. I collected room tax. It didn’t come out of my pocket. In 11 years, not once did anyone refuse to come because of the tax.”

Article 20 passed. How do you feel about it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mooncusser Films Celebrates National Seashore

Watch this great twelve-minute short from Mooncusser Films. Christopher Seufert really captures the beauty of nature on the Outer Cape. Tomorrow I will report on Town Meeting, which took place last night. The article regarding the controversial "rentals tax" was approved.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mac's Seafood Buys Wellfleet Shellfish Company

Rumors have been floating around town, but they were only confirmed today. I have mixed feelings about Mac's expansion into a related, yet different industry. I heard Wellfleet Shellfish Company was facing hard times, bankruptcy even, that Mac was saving the company. That's good, right? Still, there's something about buying up properties, like in a huge game of Monopoly, with the Outer Cape as the board.

Trash Tally for Old King's Highway

For Earth Day, a lot of folks did beach clean-up, which is great. I cleaned up Old King's Highway between Chez Sven and Route 6. Here's a list of what I removed from the side of the road:

1.) one Cumberland Farms coffee cup
2.) a piece of cellophane
3.) one Miller beer can
4.) a wrapper from Hot Pockets "Ham & Cheese"
5.) one Marlboro cigarette pack, filled with rain.

These things should not be discarded from car windows. Please do your part to de-clutter the environment. Don't litter.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

The earth will give us much needed rain today, here in Wellfleet. Yesterday I was re-reading The Outermost House by Henry Beston, and came upon this passage:

"A new danger, moreover, 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. I am glad to be able to write that the situation is better than it was. Five years ago, the shores of Monomoy peninsula were strewn with hundreds, even thousands, of dead sea fowl, for the tankers pumped out slop as they were passing the shoals - into the very waters, indeed, on which the birds have lived since time began! Today oil is more the chance fate of the unfortunate individual. But let us hope that all such pollution will presently end."

This passage was written in 1928. The situation, unfortunately, has only gotten worse. We just marked the second anniversary of the Gulf Oil Spill with eyeless shrimp and heavy-metal oysters.

No one has been held accountable. How would you feel if BP were to obtain a permit to drill off Cape Cod?

On Earth Day, 2012, can everyone reading this post think about Beston's words and make a personal commitment to do more, ie. do his/her part, to stop pollution?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What’s Happening in Wellfleet?

Lots going on this weekend. Check out the options:

WHAT: Opera at the MET, La Traviata, 1 pm, Saturday.

Prez. Hall: Christine Rathbun Ernst will perform her latest one-woman show, 'The Further Adventures of the Fat Ass Cancer Bitch'. Saturday at 7:30, tickets $12. "Edgy, unapologetic, funny and wickedly honest."

Prez. Hall: On Sunday afternoon, 2 pm, Boston-based playwright Michelle Gabow will read and perform several recent short stories from 'God is a Dog (lost and found in Paris)'.

Wellfleet Public Library: Come at 11 am to learn how to Garden Under the Oak with Chris Kolb.

Wellfleet Public Library: On Saturday at 3 pm, Traveling Hostel to Hostel in Mainland China. (Wellfleet seniors Susan Bachman and Pat Bartlett give an illustrated account of a recent trip.)

Wellfleet Public Library: On Sunday at 3 pm, Steve Morgan and the Kingfish will perform original R&B and blues. Free concert.

Congregational Church: On Sunday, 7 pm, Terry Kay Rockefeller will screen and talk about her new film Renewal.

All that culture, for one little town. And, coming May 4th, at the Senior Center, "Food and Mingling" will take place from 5:15 to 6 pm, followed by a “Community Conversation” on the future the Wellfleet Public Library, led by Sky Freyss-Cole. This sounds like an important meeting. To prepare, you might want to read this article in The Atlantic, then sign up here

Friday, April 20, 2012

WCT Celebrates Earth Day

Green signs have been popping up all over Wellfleet, reminders that Sunday is Earth Day. Yesterday I spoke to Denny O'Connell, President of the Wellfleet Conservation Trust, who explained, "Our business is Earth Day, preserving the environment. The signs went up one week prior and will remain in place through April 29."

The Wellfleet Conservation Trust was created in 1984. Its purpose is to acquire land and preserve it for future generations. The various methods are through gift or purchase, using grants in an effort to increase open-space acreage in Wellfleet. Conservation Trust land will remain undeveloped forever. 343 acres, two-thirds of which is wetland, is the current tally. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the contiguous pieces are gradually united. The largest piece is the Fox Island Marsh/Pilgrim Springs with almost two miles of walking trails, open to the public.

WCT organizes an annual walk, linking open space and history. Saturday, September 6 is the date for the 2012 walk, which will explore Indian Neck.

If you would like to have a sign on your property, there are still a few left. Contact Denny through the Web site, where you will also find information on donating funds or land.

Like one of the box turtles, whose habitat the Trust has worked to save, this unique organization plods along, making little noise but advancing relentlessly. I'm all for conserving land. Think I'll become a member ...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thinking Toxic Chemicals Again

This week brought not one, but two articles in mainstream media regarding the omnipresence of toxic chemicals in our environment and in non-organic food.

The article “Don’t Believe that Label” in The Atlantic even links to Silent Spring Institute for tips on greening your cleaning and personal care products. The second piece deals with noxious plastic packaging and appeared in the Washington Post. “The whole system is stacked in favor of the food and packaging companies and against the protecting of public health,” Nudelman, of the Breast Cancer Fund, is quoted as having said. Of course, the American Chemical Council makes its asinine assertions that “there is no cause for concern.” Does anyone still believe them??

I’m glad to see my younger daughter is now Facebooking this stuff, too. She linked to the WaPo article so her friends could become informed, noting, “Researchers have found traces of styrene, a likely carcinogen, in instant noodles sold in polystyrene cups. They’ve detected nonylphenol — an estrogen-mimicking chemical produced by the breakdown of antioxidants used in plastics — in apple juice and baby formula. They’ve found traces of other hormone-disrupting chemicals in various foods: fire retardants in butter, Teflon components in microwave popcorn, and dibutyltin — a heat stabilizer for polyvinyl chloride — in beer, margarine, mayonnaise, processed cheese and wine. They’ve found unidentified estrogenic substances leaching from plastic water bottles.”

This is all very shocking. Why is it still going on? Because the FDA has been infiltrated by people who support the interests of Big Ag and chemical companies, like Monsanto.

I decided to print out the WaPo article for Wellfleet Marketplace management. I understand how difficult it is for shopkeepers to avoid these chemicals. Difficult? Impossible.

Wellfleet Marketplace does a good job of providing a selection for folks who must eat gluten-free. It's also possible to buy grass-fed local beef from a farm in Truro. Some organic food is for sale, too. On the door, there’s a sign, albeit, SMALL, suggesting shoppers bring their own bags. Still, I feel more must be done.

I went in to deliver the article yesterday, but the manager was out. At the cash register, the cashier pulled out a "cornstarch" bag for the customer in front of me.

"No thanks," the young man said. "I go green."

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone in town adopted this attitude?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Taking Flight

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lydia Vivante Writes Rep. Sarah Peake On Pilgrim

Once in a while my blog inspires action. Such was the case last week when Wellfleet Recycling Committee Chair Lydia Vivante read my post about the possibility of the 40-year-old Pilgrim Nuclear Plant, in Plymouth, receiving a new permit. Lydia decided to write Rep. Sarah Peake on this issue. With permission of both parties, I'm sharing their exchange of letters here.

Dear Representative Peake:

When I was in college I wore this 'No Nukes' pin (circa 1983).

After the fearsome breakdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, we all recognize the dangers again.

I am strongly against re-licensing the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth. In light of the Fukishima disaster, Germany worked quickly to phase out nuclear power. I believe Japan is doing the same. It was really disheartening to hear that Georgia is planning to build a nuclear power plant, the first approved in the United States since 1978!

So much power/energy is wasted. I see it every day. I know we can do more to promote energy conservation.

Remember too that there is still no way to safely store spent fuel rods. Nobody wants them. And they probably never will. I read that the storage facility at Pilgrim is already beyond its capacity. That scares me.

Thank you,
Lydia Vivante
Wellfleet, Massachusetts

And, the response:

Hi Lydia,

I agree with you about the Plymouth nuclear power plant. I have filed legislation to require that any re-licensing be conditioned upon an evacuation plan for Cape Cod. You know and I know that there is no viable evacuation plan for Cape Cod, so this is in effect a "poison pill" piece of legislation.

As a state legislator, the tools I have to stop the re-licensing of the plant are very limited. This is mostly, if not exclusively, a federal matter. That being said, I am working with like-minded colleagues, including Sen. Wolf, to bring some sanity to this whole process.

Thank you for writing to me. I share your concerns and your thoughts.


Sarah Peake

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shopping for Shampoo, Using the Skindeep Database

One of my favorite innkeeping duties is scouting for natural amenities. Sometimes I get ideas from the Orleans Whole Food Store, pictured above. Then I search online. For years we have offered products from Emz Blendz. Now Emz requires orders of 100 at a time, so I am shopping for a new shampoo. My first stop was the EWG’s skindeep database. The shampoo I had in mind only received a 3 to 5 rating out of 10. So, I decided to search for another, starting with those that receive a 0, ie. are not at all toxic.

Terressentials looked promising and had pretty labels, but when I read the fine print, I realized most customers have to go through a de-tox that lasts a week, so for the one-shot B&B experience, nyet.

Be Green Bath and Body Dry Shampoo sounded intriguing, but would guests really appreciate a dry shampoo? Nah!

Salon Naturals offers free shipping on one-ounce samples with the caveat: “We understand reluctance to try new products - especially when ordering them online. While we would love saying 'yes' to the dozens of requests we receive each day for free samples - it's simply cost-prohibitive for us to do so. However, we do want you to feel comfortable with your purchase and our complete hair care line is available in small sample sizes. Each sample is priced at $3.70 each and INCLUDES SHIPPING for up to ten samples on all U.S. orders.” Worth trying their Hydrating Shampoo. I ordered a sample.

Face Naturals comes in organic Citrus Squeeze or Peppermint & Tea Tree in two-ounce Try Me sizes. LIKE! Placed another samples order.

Purple Prairie Botanicals shampoo bar. Hmm. I remember Purple Prairie from researching sunscreen. The sidebar boasts, “We’re a SkinDeep champion!” But it’s a bar. Does the shampoo exist? Unfortunately, no.

Whoops! We have gone into the 1s.

I’ll report back once the shampoo samples arrive and I have had a chance to try them.

Do you have a favorite natural shampoo to recommend? Do you check the products you use on your body with the Skindeep Database before purchase?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

When Art Blooms in Wellfleet

Awesome is the only word to describe the Gala Opening Reception of the Wellfleet Blossoms Small Work Exhibition, Young and/or Emerging Artists at Preservation Hall. By the door, I admired No Boundaries, an acrylic by Cady Rodrigues, above. The painting showed a little girl, playing in the shadow of storm fencing. A bit further into the room, organizer Lisa Benson distributed name tags to those who were showing their art, some for the first time. Meanwhile dozens of visitors meandered through the work on display, munching appetizers and sipping wine. While I read an enlargement of Susan Blood’s article in the Barnstable Patriot, a man approached Lisa. “I’m looking for an artist’s name tag,” he said. “What’s your name?” she asked. “Neil Irving,” came the reply. Dressed in a jaunty multicolored fedora and bright blue shirt, Neil strode proudly into the crowded exhibition hall. His ebullient mood reminded me how important it is for artists to have their work admired and appreciated. And, of course, sold. But appreciation is right up there with sales. It matters. (Today, forty fortunate artists will attend a free panel presentation called How to Become a Non-Starving Artist in order to learn how to live from their art.)

After opening remarks by Selectman/organizer Paul Pilcher, Prez. Hall manager Janet Lesniak stepped up to the mike and said, “I salute you on so many levels. A pipe dream turned into this,” and with a smile, she gracefully gestured around the room.

Next Rep. Sarah Peake spoke briefly to offer her congratulations as well. Peake reminded the crowd, “Art gives us joy, and art brings economic prosperity, bringing people into town, as well as feeding our soul.”

I was particularly struck by an image created by Julie Wilson, a fourth grader, whose artist statement read, “I like art because you get to draw what you want and use your imagination.” Her Mogdigliani-esque painting was not for sale.

Congratulations to the organizing committee, Paul Pilcher, Lisa Benson, Judith Stiles, Sue Peters, Dan Lawson, and John Ryerson for creating a new festival that will bookend Wellfleet’s tourist season with Oysterfest.

If you missed the reception, know that the work of these emerging artists can be viewed from 10 to 5 today. A dozen galleries will be open as well.

On my way out, I returned to No Boundaries, thinking how nice it would look in our cottage. Rats! The painting already wore a red dot. Maybe next time …

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Outer Cape Named Second Best Family Beach

A guest remarked that our little town is graced with the type of natural beauty that “knocks your socks off.” I often tell visitors they can’t go wrong in Wellfleet. The experience will bring pleasure no matter which body of water they choose to visit. Last week the Today Show chose the stretch of Outer Cape beach, facing the Atlantic, as the second best beach for families in the USA. On sunny days, the combination of beige sand, blue sky, blue-green water, and ochre-colored dune works wonders for the soul ...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday List of Things To Do

Spring cleaning takes on a whole new dimension when one is an innkeeper. It presents the opportunity to throw out stuff stored in the extra room, or transfer it to the attic. There are screens to repair or replace, windowsills to wash, flaking paint on doors to be scraped. I cannot detail all that needs to be done here because I do not have the time. Know that we are busy. Here’s my to-do list for the day, once the Green Room guests have had their breakfast.
1.) Clean the cottage
2.) Order new faucet
3.) Bake organic bread
4.) Plant pansies
5.) Install new telephone
6.) Plant 60 leeks
7.) Wash sheets and hang them out to dry
8.) Iron pillowcases
9.) Take trash to the dump
10.) Get a massage …

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Time to Make a Birdhouse ...

One of my favorite Wellfleet events is coming up next month, Memorial Day weekend. The Preservation Hall Birdhouse Auction. This year the auction goes beyond birdhouses. Check out the instructions that just arrived in my inbox: "Our Fourth Annual Birdhouse Project and Auction is right around the corner on May 27. We'd love to include all kinds of bird and garden art & craft, from houses to feeders and garden ornaments, benches, birdbaths, - the sky is the limit - just waiting for your whimsy, ingenuity and imagination. Please stop at the Hall and pick something up to spark your imagination. Tell a friend, rummage through your own recycled stuff and join us for another bit of fun at the Hall. Materials are available at the Hall and completed birdhouses can be dropped off anytime the doors are open. Please sign up with your email if you plan to participate so we can keep you in the loop, send reminders on deadlines etc."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wellfleet 2012 Arrives

The big news this week, besides Wellfleet Blossoms, is publication of Wellfleet, 2012. Tourists and residents alike take this handy guidebook for granted, but its creation involves many hours of hard work. Thank you to the dedicated Wellfleet Chamber of Commerce volunteer committee who make the guide available every year: Mignon Barry, LeeAnn Fanning, Adam Levinson, Donna McCaffery, Judy Pihl, Bonnie Robicheau and Maria Sexton, with IT support from Dan Danziger.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More Praise for Chezsven Blog

I have received several requests for my thoughts regarding the rentals tax proposal, on the Town Warrant. I really appreciate having readers suggest topics for this blog and usually file them away for future reference. The rentals tax, however, will be voted upon in less than two weeks ... While writing Chezsven Blog over the past six years, it has often occurred to me that Wellfleet could do with a newspaper, since neither the Banner nor the Cape Cod Times really focuses on our little town. That being said, I will do my best to share what I know on the subject but cannot fit it into my schedule today. Instead, here's a nice compliment that was forwarded to me, sent out by Barbara Gray to members of the Forum Board: "This is a great blog reporting on our meetings (candidates night scroll down) and other matters of recycling etc. giving next day reports for us to see. Please utilize it the best way advisable = at least read it from time to time."

Regular blog reader Peter Hall was good enough to forward his response to me: "Yes, it is a wonderful and very informative blog. I have been following it for a long time now, and make a point of regularly checking it. No, I do not know of any others in its class."

Monday, April 09, 2012

Wellfleet's Newest Festival Showcases Local Art

Bright yellow signs, like this one, have been popping up all over town to let people know next weekend is the first annual Wellfleet Blossoms. The festival, which will celebrate the town's vibrant artistic community, was imagined last fall by Selectman Paul Pilcher, Judith Stiles of Newcomb Hollow Shop, and Lisa Benson. The event came together in record time and will take place this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The kick-off party at the Lighthouse starts at 5:30. Enjoy free appetizers while listening to the local band Trees. On Saturday, 38 young and/or emerging artists will show their work at Preservation Hall. A Gala Art Opening Reception will be held at 4. The schedule is quite full and amazing, so do check it out. Some restaurants will open early for the event, WHAT and the new Harbor Stage will participate. There will be poetry, readings of a new play, wine tasting. Payomet will participate with a 7 pm Sunday concert by the Eilen Jewell Band, at the Congregational Church. Wellfleet awakens from winter in a new way this year. Please make sure to check out the full schedule of activities, which includes a number of free workshops, several of which are already sold out! (If you need a place to stay, try Chez Sven's Seagull Cottage. We still have availability.)

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Call to Action: Prevent the Re-licensing of Pilgrim!

I turned 65 today. That sounds very old but I feel much the same, except that I now qualify for Medicare, which is a big deal here in the United States. There's an article in the Cape Cod Times today that everyone who cares about Cape Cod should read. It is written by Patrick Cassidy. The article is entitled, "Citizens Group contests Pilgrim re-licensing." Normally I would draw conclusions and quote parts, but since it's my birthday, I am going to simply republish the whole thing and say I think we need to all stand up against the re-licensing of the Pilgrim nuclear plant. Its permit expires June 8. This plant is old and was built according to antiquated standards. It is a similar model to one that failed in Japan after the tsunami. Should Pilgrim leak or fail, Cape Cod would be doomed. If we do not take a stand, you can bet the permitting board will move ahead, without making any adjustments. Please especially take note of the suggestions from Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Senator Dan Wolf. I'm not sure what Congressman Keating's take on this is, but will find out next week. Here's Patrick Cassidy's article:

"A citizens group is mounting another in a series of challenges to the re-licensing of the 40-year-old Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.

In a letter sent this week to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, the Kingston-based Jones River Watershed Association requested that the agency rescind its certification that Pilgrim's operations meet state standards for coastal areas.

'We're trying to make sure that our agencies do what they're supposed to do,' said Pine DuBois, the association's executive director.

In its April 4 letter, the association cites 10 areas where the plant's owner, Entergy Nuclear, has allegedly failed to act in ways consistent with the state's coastal policies.

These include failure to comply with its federal Clean Water Act pollutant discharge permit; the violation of a state moratorium on the taking of river herring; failure to address impacts on marine mammals and endangered species in Cape Cod Bay; and the discharge of radioactive tritium into groundwater that flows into the bay.

The 'once-through cooling system' at Pilgrim takes more than 500 million gallons of water from Cape Cod Bay daily, sucking in and killing fish, plankton, fish eggs and larvae, according to DuBois.

River herring and other fish species also are trapped against filters that suck water into the plant, a process known as impingement. River herring are currently being considered as a candidate species under the Endangered Species Act.

'Pilgrim Station operates in accordance with both federal- and state-issued environmental permits,' Entergy spokeswoman Carol Wightman said. 'The NRC has performed a comprehensive biological assessment in connection with Pilgrim Station's application for a renewed license.'

The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management has reaffirmed its certification that Pilgrim is consistent with state coastal policies, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said.

In a Feb. 29 letter to Entergy officials, Coastal Zone Management Project Review Coordinator Robert Boeri wrote that until the agency is notified of a change from a 2006 review of Entergy's license or a new license application is made, the certification remains valid.

The letter, however, left the door open for further review if there are any changes to the license or new information on the effects of the plant's operation on the coastal zone.

A spokeswoman for the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which oversees the office of Coastal Zone Management, said the agency is reviewing the Jones River Watershed Association letter.

Entergy is seeking a 20-year extension of its license to operate Pilgrim. The plant's current license expires June 8, but the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to grant the extension.

The request from the Jones River Watershed Association is the latest attempt by grass-roots organizations, state lawmakers and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to block the re-licensing effort.

On Thursday, Coakley's office filed an appeal challenging the NRC's license renewal process for Pilgrim in light of last year's earthquake- and tsunami-fueled nuclear disaster in Japan.

'We believe safe nuclear power can be a part of our energy portfolio, but the NRC needs to understand the lessons learned from Fukushima and apply those lessons to Pilgrim before granting the plant a 20-year license extension,' Coakley said.

State Sen. Dan Wolf, D-Harwich, said he supported Coakley's appeal.

'Lessons learned from Fukushima should be explored in an open, public process and applied to the Pilgrim re-licensing process, particularly in regards to on-site storage of spent nuclear fuel rods,' Wolf said.

Entergy is reviewing Coakley's appeal, Wightman said.

'Pilgrim Station has gone through an extensive, six-year technical and safety review as part of the NRC's license renewal process,' she said. 'We have completed all the NRC requirements in this process and we look forward to the commissioners' decision with regard to license renewal for Pilgrim.'"

Friday, April 06, 2012

Why Wellfleet Restaurants Should Recycle Oyster Shells

Yesterday evening Tracey Barry Hunt of Wellfleet's Recycling Committee led an informative meeting on green initiatives for local businesses. The three topics under discussion were the recycling of oyster shells, green certification, and general waste management. A Nauset Disposal rep spoke on this last subject, but I was not able to stay for his presentation. Pam Anderson, from Cape & Islands Green, explained programs that enable businesses to go green without expense and described the benefits of certification. What I want to tell you about today, however, is Curt Felix’s talk to encourage restaurant owners to recycle oyster shells. First, a bit of background: the cost of trash disposal for the Town of Wellfleet will shortly skyrocket. For this reason, the town and its very active Recycling Committee have been looking into ways to reduce the volume trucked off Cape. That is part of the equation. The other important part is water quality: our harbor is not up to State standards. A group of clever individuals on the Wastewater Commission have come up with an original idea to avoid sewers by dumping discarded shells in the harbor to encourage the growth of more oysters. (Oyster seed, called "spat," attaches to shells, "cultch," to create new oysters.) Additional oysters will function as a filtration system and alleviate the overload of nutrients. Since the heavy shells get recycled, the SEMASS bill goes down. More oysters, less pollution, lower SEMASS bills: a win-win situation.

The Wellfleet oyster population is at one tenth its historic record. It was interesting to learn that the inner harbor, over near Power’s Landing, used to have masses of oyster shells where now there’s only sand.

Curt Felix explained the plan to provide restaurant owners with 25-galloon buckets that will be picked up at intervals to be determined on an individual basis. The buckets full of shells will be replaced with empty buckets. The shells will eventually be dumped in the harbor at specific spots, like the area shown in the top photo, between the row of condos and the marina.

At Oysterfest 2011,100,000 oysters were eaten. The State exceptionally agreed to allow the corresponding five tons of shells, from known sources in Wellfleet, to be dumped back into the marina without delay. (To avoid disease, shells from foreign sources must remain on land for four years.) Felix expects around 30 tons of shells from our restaurants per year but this is only a geusstimate. These shells will create a habitat for baby oysters, and the oysters will make the costly installation of sewers unnecessary. Nifty, don’t you think? Here's the plan:

Thursday, April 05, 2012

What's Happening this Weekend in Wellfleet?

It's April and the sun is setting on quiet season. Easter is coming and the Easter Bunny will hop into Preservation Hall on Saturday from 9 to 11. This week Jeffry George was named Executive Director at WHAT. In two weeks, Wellfleet Blossoms weekend. I will describe this new festival at length on a future post. In the meantime, know that Wellfleet's marvelous Recycling Committee is holding an evening devoted to greening your business tonight, from 6 to 8, at the Council on Aging.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Dredging at the Wellfleet Marina

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Forum Introduces Candidates for Selectman

Yesterday evening the Wellfleet Forum held a meeting to introduce the three men running for the two seats open on the Select Board. Retiring Selectman Ira Wood moderated. The three candidates are, from left to right above, John Morrissey, Dennis Murphy, and George White. The first two men have been members of the Finance Committee for several years. George works as a fireman in Wellfleet. Ira asked each candidate to answer a few hardball questions. The first was regarding whether or not they would support the Town Administrator should his position be challenged. All responded by the affirmative. As a second question, Ira asked for an opinion on possible regionalization of the elementary school. All the candidates hope that will not be necessary. The third question was whether a new town clerk should be elected or appointed, since Dawn Rickman plans to retire. While George said he believes all town officials should be elected, he felt "split" regarding the town clerkship. John and Dennis stated they are in favor of hiring the future town clerk. Ira’s final question was about the vacation rentals tax, which will be discussed at town meeting, no doubt at length. All three candidates are in favor. Then there was a short Q&A.

The prize for the most complicated question goes to Barbara Gray who requested each candidate take a shot at explaining the special character of Wellfleet, then asked for their positions on historical preservation, open space, and affordable housing. The prize for best trivia goes to Dennis Murphy who mentioned having saved a Wellfleet movie theater ticket, costing 35 cents, to see Creature of the Black Lagoon, which he tied into the question on historical preservation. (The theater used to be located beside the Congregational Church.) The prize for the most unexpected comment goes to Ira who began the meeting by saying, “You will really enjoy some … of it … Your life will be changed by it.” (Sorry his tone does not come through, but use your imagination!) The audience got a glimpse of what the two new selectmen will face when former Selectwoman Helen Wilson warned about the “wave of decisions” that would come at them. And, the issue to which everyone seemed to have devoted the most thought? Affordable housing and job creation in order to allow young Wellfleetians to live and work here, something the town, with its expensive real estate, had not yet managed to resolve. Did you attend the meeting?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Treasures from the Sea

When Sven and I were out walking at Duck Harbor last week, we passed a woman collecting shells and other treasures. She let me peek in her, ahem, plastic, ahem, bag, and take this lovely photograph. As I think about the latest news regarding toxic chemicals in the environment, I cannot help but notice the difference between the plastic, manmade, and the contents, nature-made. Do you sometimes feel as exasperated as I do with the Federal government? Today I read that the signatures on the Just Label It petition, one million strong, submitted last week to the FDA, were counted as ONE comment, not one million. This is ludicrous behavior. (Read why you should oppose GMOs here.) Every day brings new studies confirming toxic chemicals need regulation. Last week the FDA refused to ban BPA in packaging, as requested by the National Resources Defense Council and in infant formula. The numbers for autism have been lowered to one boy baby in 54. This will have incredible repercussions on society, not to mention the anguish for the parents of those children. Yesterday the New York Times Magazine ran a long article about the advancing age of puberty in little girls. Hel-lo?? Something is out of whack here. The President’s Cancer Panel, in its report last year, suggested chemicals probably are responsible for the increase in cancer cases. Women are getting breast cancer at an increasingly younger age, too, due to the estrogen mimics in our environment. Toxic chemicals. Who dares to deny the cause and effect? Our government. This is unacceptable. We need Congress to enact the Safe Chemicals Act. Folks at the Environmental Working Group must be tearing out their hair. Please read this message if you have Facebook, support the work of the EWG, and take measures to protect your own family.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Update on Harbor Stage Company's Inaugural Season

The familiar sign is gone but not the spirit that inspired theater fans to choose Wellfleet for so many years. Our town has a new (old) theater troupe, six veteran actors calling themselves the Harbor Stage Company. HSC will produce three plays for its first season. June 20th we can look forward to the opening of Hedda Gabler, which will "re-introduce their unique brand of fiery, authentic performance to the intimate space." Church, a funny new play will be performed second, starting July 18. The inaugural season closes with Sticks and Stones, "a riotous and unflinching look at the haunting ravages of war," opening August 15 and running until Labor Day. Tickets cost $20. Three can be purchased at one go for $48. Harbor Stage Company is also looking for tax-deductible donations. Can someone donate so that the letters HSC can appear in future sunset photos?

PS. If you can't wait until June 20, check out the Harbor Stage Company performance on April 14th, at Preservation Hall, during the first annual Wellfleet Blossoms, festival, two weeks from yesterday. ("The Truth (About Non-Truth)...a short panel discussion...a conversation...about what is valuable in art. It aims to challenge the traditional artist into re-considering what is worth exploring.) I plan to be there. How about you?