Friday, November 30, 2007

Goodbye, Rubber Ducky ...

“Rubber Ducky, you’re the one. You make bath time, oh so fun …” Everybody knows the catchy little tune Ernie sang on Sesame Street. What people didn’t know back then was that encouraging millions of children to bathe with a plastic toy might not have been such a good idea. Ernie’s ducky may have been made of rubber, but the duckies that bobbed their way into the bathtubs of America were made of plastic. Our plastic is supple because its composition includes phtalates. Now it turns out that phtalates are very bad for children and for the rest of us. Phtalates are endocrine disrupters. You do not even have to touch the plastic, or put it in your mouth to increase your risk of contamination. The phtalates enter the air and you breathe them in (source = Fresh Air, interview of Mark Schapiro by Terri Gross regarding Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power). We have duckies here at Chez Sven, patrolling the rim of the bathtub. They are older duckies, from the Swap Shop, and theoretically have already given up their vapors. How can I tell? They have turned hard. California has become the first state to ban phtalates, but the bill will only become law in 2009. Plastic wrap, plastic bottles, blue tarp, yellow kayak outside the window … Plastic seems to be everywhere. Now to the daunting task of reducing its use …

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A November Day in the Life

Since the end of the month is fast approaching, it is really time to write this regular feature about the daily life of an innkeeper. One thing we will definitely do today is walk at one of Wellfleet’s spectacular beaches, but since we have been renovating for three weeks, this November Day will have to be different. Every moment is taken up by thoughts of renovation. With visions of farm sinks dancing through my head, I finally took Sven to see one last Wednesday. It will be delivered next week. Today I will order energy-efficient light fixtures as the electrician will soon return to rewire. The shed roof was removed from the old kitchen right before the Thanksgiving holiday began. Tomorrow the carpenters will frame the area above the future private bath. My plan is to make it a well-lit space, thanks to a skylight, facing south. There is no heat in the main house for the time being, so I am eager for the plumber’s visit as well. Once we have heat, we can move back in and again receive guests here in Seagull Cottage.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday Sven and I saw a wild turkey on our way back from the dump, perhaps a relative of this fellow, photographed in the neighbor's yard last year. The turkey hurried across the road and into the woods, a good plan with folks out aiming to bring home Thanksgiving dinner. Here at Chez Sven, as the holiday approaches, I again think back over the past year. We are grateful for all the lovely people who chose to spend a few days of vacation with us in beautiful Wellfleet. We feel blessed to have food on the table, a warm fire, and a roof over our heads. And, as our renovation continues, we appreciate the carpenters who are working to create a brand new room with private bath for our bed & breakfast. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Back to the Sea Again

The words of the famous poem always come to mind when we finally get to the beach after a long stretch without: “I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky. And all I need is a tall ship and a star to steer her by …” The ocean is like an addiction. Once the Atlantic is part of your daily diet, you miss it if deprived. The sea was beautiful today. We went to eyeball the erosion from last week’s storm, but saw no evidence of damage for once.

Thank you to all the well-wishers regarding our renovation. I am knee-deep in brochures, and visions of kitchen sinks dance through my head on a regular basis. In the Counter-top 500, Soapstone has pulled ahead. Week #2 was interrupted by a crumbling foundation on the northern side. For three days, our carpenters worked elsewhere while we wait for a space to open up on Mike Cook’s schedule …

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Memories of 2007

Today the sky is bright blue, the type of day that drew so many tourists to Wellfleet over the past year. We received folks from all around the USA, but also from Germany, France, Sweden, UK, and the Netherlands. As I look over the photos, I am reminded of unique moments Chez Sven enjoyed in 2007. Rose Ireland painted the main house one very foggy July day. I hope to use her painting as a Christmas card. It was a year for seals and whales.
Guests who went whale watching returned enchanted. We had a number of professional photographers visit and a few very jet-lagged guests from the West Coast. Five couples celebrated their honeymoon in Seagull Cottage. Its bathroom received a bath itself when a writer dropped a bottle of nail polish, which splattered all over the tub and she promptly removed. We had a few unwanted but cute guests, who have left now that we are renovating. Hopefully they will find lodging in someone else's old house or barn. And then there were the children. Most B&Bs in Wellfleet do not accept kids under 10. Here at Chez Sven I love to discover the world through the eyes of the very young so always welcome children open-armed. All in all, it was a good year.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Demo Week at Chez Sven

On Day 5 of our renovation project, the floor is up in the former living room, once called "keeping room," soon to become country kitchen. The old dining room and kitchen have lost their windows and walls. When you stare up at where the ceiling used to be, you see white-washed boards that were installed as a roof for the kitchen addition in 1825. How exciting to think of all the history our house has experienced and the many people who have called this place home! During our last renovation project, Sven found a Liberty Coin under the floor. Who knows what we may find this time! We are lucky to have wonderful carpenters on the project, whose enthusiasm almost matches ours. As the sun sets over the cottage at the close of Week 1, we are very pleased with our decision to renovate the northern wing of our Cape Codder.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Big Day!

Hurricane Noel brought 90-mile-an-hour winds to Cape Cod. The trees were doing a whole lot of shaking and rain poured down, five inches in fact. The transformer on Gross Hill blew out two times at least. Here in Wellfleet, we had two full days without electricity. Luckily, we had guests on Firday night only. They wrote the nicest note: "The charm of this cottage knocked our socks off!" Now the power is back on in time for our renovation. It is a big day for this family for two reasons. The first is, of course, renovation. We ripped out the old kitchen, moved the couch into the dining room, which required taking down a wall, and started pulling up floorboards. Here is a photo that shows how wide they are. We will put the floorboards aside while the plumbing is being done, then return them to their places. It is exciting to uncover walls which have not been seen for two hundred years, at least. The second reason that this is a big day is for my grand-daughter Juliette, who is beginning day care out in Los Angeles today.