Friday, April 30, 2010

Film Crew Shoots Dinner at Finely JPs

I have been longing to dine at a certain local restaurant for quite a while. Every time I drove past, on the way to Orleans, there would be a sign out about dining specials or a DJ dance party. Then yesterday I received an email from the Chamber of Commerce, announcing the Boston television show Chronicle would film at Finely JPs. Here was the excuse I had been waiting for! A family connection in Boston had secured this plum promotion. Sven and I chatted briefly with chef/owner John Pontius and congratulated him before taking our seats.

The film crew was still out on the flats, documenting the Wellfleet oyster, so we settled in and ordered dinner. New paintings by local artist Paul Suggs decorated the earthen-colored walls. I watched a waitress tuck some blue wildflowers into a vase. We were seated on the second floor of the multi-level restaurant, in order to have a better view of the proceedings, once there were any proceedings to record. Sven talked to me about my trip to Boston tomorrow. He was oblivious to the fact that a film crew was about to arrive. But the excitement in the room was palpable.

There were so many delicious-sounding options on the menu that we went simply for the Prix Fixe, since it was such a great deal: three-courses for $19. Sven ordered sole with lemon sauce and his favorite, garlic potatoes. My eye was attracted to the cappellini with shrimp, garlic, and tomato sauce. Both dishes were excellent. I reminded Sven that this restaurant, open year-round, had been one of my parents’ favorites. It was renovated in 2006, providing much more light and space. I closed my eyes and imagined disco lights flashing during the Friday night dance parties.

When the film crew arrived at 6, a voice rose from the floor below us: “Just act normal!” I was able to capture the cameraman from above. The filming itself did not take long – 10 to 15 minutes at most. Jean and Gordon Avery of Fort Hill Bed & Breakfast were sitting nearby. Jean reminded me that the cameraman might not be keen on having photos taken, but I clicked away nonetheless. The segment on Wellfleet will be aired May 17. If you watch the show and see a flash, that’s yours truly in the background!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

General Update ...

Regular readers may have noticed a badge to the right. I will explain what it is on Saturday, so stay tuned. With much frustration, I have read emails this week from readers, unable to post comments. I am sorry for this inconvenience. We are working at getting the situation fixed. Above, a photo of Wellfleet Harbor, at extreme low tide. The tracks were made by a shellfisherman's truck. Tomorrow, news of which Boston television show was filming a segment on Wellfleet oysters tonight ....

The White Balloon

Witness Wellfleet's welcome to the PMC riders in 2008. The race will take place the first weekend in August in 2010. We still have some availability that weekend if you want to come down and cheer on the riders ...

No white balloon in the photo above. You're right. However, Sven and I did have an adventure with a white balloon at LeCount Hollow Beach this week.

We walked down to Marconi, as usual. The tide was low. A light drizzle soon had covered my coat with fine, dew-like droplets. We walked quickly because of the weather, at least I did. Below the Marconi dune, I spied a white balloon, whose string had gotten tangled in seaweed, weighing it down. Several colorful ribbons were attached to the string – green, purple, orange – and they flapped in the breeze. Someone had held this balloon on a ship, off the coast, quite recently because the helium still gave it some lift, but not much. The white balloon was caught on a piece of driftwood. I untangled the string and showed my prize to Sven. With the balloon in hand, we hightailed it back to the parking lot.

Balloons do not belong on beaches, so I decided to have Sven take a photo of me with the balloon as illustration for a future post about beach litter. He does not usually operate my camera, but I knew my husband would be up to the task. By the third photo, he called out, “It doesn’t want to work!”

Meanwhile, a little girl with sandy socks and no shoes or coat appeared with her father. She was about four or five. They had been playing near the edge of the parking lot.

“What do you have there?” the child asked in a very serious voice, knowing full well it was a balloon. “Where did that come from?” she added.

“We found it on the beach,” I said. “I’d be glad to give it to you. Would you like it?”

She nodded solemnly while Sven chatted with the father, from Orleans.

“The sea is full of garbage,” Sven said. “Too many people use it as a garbage dump.”

“It is,” the man agreed. “It’s very sad.”

Balloons belong with children. By now, I had recovered the camera and realized the batteries were dead. I still held the balloon in my left hand. The little girl was looking up at me enviously. I handed it over.

Sven and I headed home. He told me that the parents were getting a divorce. The father had brought his daughter to LeCount to play.

I had never seen a white balloon before on the beach. White seems special, not right for a report on beach litter, so I’m glad it found a home with this innocent little girl. I hope her parents are careful with their divorce and do no damage …

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When Earth Day Lingers: Have Some Dirt!

Let there be light. Let there be solar light. May someone come soon and figure out why my solar lights, installed at the cottage, don't work! ... Earth Day has been on my mind, and perhaps it has been on your mind, too?

The images on the PBS special last weekend made me extremely sad because there was so much hope for the environment in the 1970s. Where has it all gone? How have we become so complacent? Why does humanity drag its feet over an important issue like climate change?

For Earth Day, CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed Sting and his wife Trudi. It’s amazing these two have not given up. For 20 years or more, saving the rain forest has been their main effort on behalf of the environment. I guess most people only have the energy to fight one issue. While I care about deforestation and climate change, my focus is on banning pesticides here on Cape Cod. Wellfleetians are beginning to identify me with this interest.

On Sunday, Naomi, at the library, sent the following email: “A former town resident just told me that in the 80s there was a law (?) bylaw (?) – some sort of motion – passed in Wellfleet that prohibited utilities from spraying. She isn't sure if it was just a one-year sort of legislation, but she's certain that it was in the 1980s and that Dawn Rickman should have record of it. Even if it were just for a year, the fact that it was passed would establish a precedent.”

And, at a cocktail party last week, Fire Chief Dan Silverman volunteered that he remembered the town had acted against DDT in the 1970s.

So, yesterday I went and asked the town clerk (Dawn) and spent a half hour at town hall, reading Annual Reports. I was amazed at the extent of the concern over herbicides, expressed by a committee in 1976. There were several pages about which herbicide was used where. The outlook was strikingly different from today. How successfully the chemical lobbies have been at making us believe herbicides are safe, taking the American people for a ride!

Over the weekend Sven and I watched a documentary that I will buy for the B&B to share with guests: Dirt, the Movie. It was uplifting and to be shared with loved ones. Earth Day should be celebrated every day, not just April 22, don’t you think? Make sure you watch Dirt and pass it on. That’s one good way to fight giant companies like Monsanto: spread knowledge of what humanity needs to do to save the earth …

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Town Meeting: Turbines, Wastewater, Restoration, and Much Emotion

What has lots of eyes and ears, many hands and feet, but only can speak with one voice? Town Meeting! It’s an unusual animal that takes getting to know. After a dozen years as a listener/voter, I decided to speak in favor of one of the articles last night …

Sven drives me up to the school gym due to the rain. Whoa! What’s this?? Red, white and blue placards wave under the portico. Instinctively I gravitate towards two ladies representing Sarah Peake and request a bumper sticker. Groups of well-wishers have gathered around two of the other candidates: Mr. Wolf and Mr. Perry. Usually there’s a circus inside. Never before have I seen such commotion outside.

Article 14 draws speakers because it involves $100,000 of Community Preservation Act Funds, and two earlier articles have already used CPA money: a Habitat for Humanity house and restoration of the Pond School. The $100,000 has been requested by the Cape Cod Modern House Trust for restoration of the Hatch Cottage. The Economic Development Committee asked me to relay our committee’s vote, in favor 5-0. I do so, then try to explain why preservation of the modern houses is worthwhile from an economic point of view, citing quotes from the international press. Fortunately the article passes and my first experience speaking to Town Meeting is a success.

“You did good,” EDC chair Paul Pilcher will tell me afterwards.

The wastewater study article gets a number of questions, but it passes, too.

Finally we reach the reason so many people are in attendance: the wind turbine! I reported in an earlier post how the Selectmen voted 5-0 to postpone this article and thereby squelch the idea. Moderator Terkanian explains that the request is to indefinitely postpone. But a number of Wellfleetians want to express themselves. He allows them to speak, but draws a line at catcalls. Over and over the moderator must remind speakers to stick to the issue at hand, postponement.

Lili Green states with quavering voice, “I was for wind energy. I’m a concerned citizen vehemently opposed to raising the height of the wind turbine.”

Nate Johnson declares, “We were led to believe it would be 100 feet at White Crest. I was really pissed. We got duped as a town. We need to kill the idea of building a huge tower in Wellfleet.”

Brent Harold says, “I feel the Selectmen made a mistake. I think we should have been able to vote on the article.”

At last Terkanian calls for a voice vote. It’s so close that he must recruit volunteers to count the purple voting cards. Members of the audience come and go for glasses of water, a breath of fresh air. Excitement is high. From the look on Terkanian’s face, I can tell the results are awfully close: 128 to 126. The article is indefinitely postponed ….

Readers, was anyone there? Did I do an okay job? How do you feel about the wind turbine? Are you glad the article was postponed?

Monday, April 26, 2010

CCMHT Holds Open House

Yesterday the Cape Cod Modern House Trust held its Spring Open House at the newly restored Kugel/Gips house, off Long Pond Road. Access is up what feels like a gangplank, which Sven and I remembered as rotting wood, half decayed and treacherous. The gangplank is the first sign of something unusual going on, as if one is boarding a mother ship, ready, at any moment, to go warp speed back in time ...

Sven and I climbed aboard after lunch. The overcast sky did not seem to have dampened the spirits of Cape Cod’s art-hungry crowd – 250 people had already come and left. Visitors still swarmed through the two floors like eager ants. Director Peter McMahon and assistant Cyndi Wish were on hand to answer questions, but it was mostly a self-guided Do-Your-Own-Thing type of tour, the kind of tour I like best. One Cape Cod matron stood on the deck, pointing towards Northeast Pond. Three men seemed more interested in the roof and came inside to ask whether rubber had been used. Nearby, two teenagers took turns taking photos of each other. They were dressed in black but might as well have donned Kugel/Gips t-shirts, so great was their enthusiasm for the place. The house, designed by Charlie Zehnder, is now furnished with mid-century modern furniture and period art. Large pane glass windows allow the outside in. I sat for a while on the leather couch and chatted with volunteer Betsy Bray, of Harwich, who had settled into a niche beside the massive brick fireplace. It was fun to imagine living there.

Sven found the library and brought me the Winter 2009 issue of Modernism, which has a story on Wellfleet’s modern houses. Peter, who had ducked out, returned with pizza for his staff’s lunch. He told me three weeks of July are still available for rent this summer, at $5000 a week, of which $3000 is tax-deductible. As I noted on Friday, a reporter described Kugel/Gips in this month’s Preservation. (Since the article went online, Peter has received twenty inquiries.) Sven congratulated him on his determination and success. Having saved this amazing house is quite a feat. It seems to hover above Northeast Pond, as any proper mother ship should.
At Town Meeting today, Peter will describe his next project, renovation of the Hatch Cottage near Bound Brook.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What People Are Talking About in Wellfleet

Don’t you just love garden centers? That’s one thing everyone can agree upon: flowers. They sure beautify a property. No two ways about it. When Sven and I picked up some mulch yesterday, we admired the spring options at Sunflowers, on Route 6. I saw my friend Beverly, who works at Wellfleet's newest garden center, and told her the good news about the crows. Then she rushed off to sell some organic compost. Sven was chatting with the owner about how teenagers these days don't want to work, that the importation of a foreign labor force to man restaurants in summer has given local kids a bad work ethic. I watched a young man settle into a lawn chair, in front of the fertilizer shack, while his wife meandered among the flower displays, intent on choosing the perfect plant.Meanwhile, my brain was mulling over issues before Town Meeting tomorrow night. Having been a Committee Secretary in Wellfleet once upon a time, I know how hard many residents work on our volunteer town committees. Still differences of opinion are normal. And non-residents don't always see things the way residents do. The controversies this week, some resolved, some not, inspired me to write this poem:

No poison for crows, the Seashore decides.
“About time!” says Swede Plaut, against pesticides.
No turbine at White Crest, Duck Pond instead;
Nope, say Selectmen, who all five see red
And kill Wellfleet’s turbine with one vote.
“Too risky,” says Denny (O’C). “The town will go broke.”
“What?” Geoff Karlson protests, not at all pleased.
“Save the planet first,” replies Kahn, down on her knees.
“Not the Seashore.” She counter-attacks:
Two “yes” votes on Monday could bring turbines back.
And what of the power lines, will NStar give in?
O’Leary and Peake sure hope their side wins.
“Herbicides can do harm,” declares Michael May.
Bill Delahunt wrote Ms. Jackson at the EPA.
The issue of wastewater also draws nays.
Some want clusters, others see green ways
To handle sewage: “ecological design.”
“Todd’s green machine might work fine.”
“And hey! Who chose that water tower, so ugly and round?”
Things sure get convoluted in our small seaside town!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beachcomber Teaches Lessons with Stones

Another beautiful day! We have had a string of such days, real explosion-of-green-leaf days, and only hope the early heat does not mean more risk of hurricanes over the summer. Yesterday Sven and I walked from Gull to Slough Pond, a short walk along a narrow dirt road only used by seasonal residents and the occasional fisherman. It was almost ten degrees cooler in spots hit by the ocean breeze, and the leaves had not unfurled, much to my surprise. Earlier we had visited LeCount and been discouraged by the brisk wind, so different from Friday when large numbers of people were out walking barefoot. On Friday morning we met a couple down the beach, collecting stones, at low tide. Each person had a plastic pail, so I asked what they were doing.

“These stones are for my pre-school class,” the woman said. “To show the kids how stones change color in water.”

Many of our guests like to collect small stones on the beach. Often they end up in a basket on the cottage deck. It’s true that there’s something magical about the way stones change color in water. Shelly Daly, in Baltimore, makes jewelry with pretty stones. Have you ever heard of another use for beach stones?

Friday, April 23, 2010

CCMHT to Hold Open House on Sunday

The Cape Cod Modern House Trust will hold an Open House at the Kugel/Gips house, off Long Pond Road, on Sunday from 10 to 4. A shuttle bus service will be provided from the Cahoon Hollow parking lot. This is a re-scheduled event, after a massive December snowstorm caused a cancellation, and the second Open House since renovation was completed. I like to think of Peter McMahon as a wizard, who managed to convince the National Seashore to allow him to save a part of Wellfleet’s history and then, with minimal funds and a mostly volunteer staff, in the nick of time, brought the Kugel/Gips house back to its former glory. Back? Beyond would be a better word. Sven and I peeked inside yesterday. McMahon has managed to decorate with period furniture and art. The result takes the breath away, as does the view, below. The Kugel/Gips house is featured in this month’s online edition of Preservation. Find additional information at Modern Cape Cod or read or read the CCMHT blog. To sign up for the 2010 Modern House Tour on August 22, contact the Castle Hill Center for the Arts in Truro. McMahon plans to renovate Hatch Cottage next. Stay tuned ….

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bonus Post: Happy Earth Day!

Sometimes it is necessary to slow down and simply look around to see the beauty that surrounds us all. Happy Earth Day to Cape Cod! May our precious sandbar be protected from toxicity.

The Charm of Going Barefoot in the Springtime

Yesterday the edge of the dune at LeCount Hollow looked like the entryway of a proper Swedish home, with five pairs of shoes, all neatly lined up in a row. The temps are warm enough to walk barefoot, so that’s what people were doing. It must be spring vacation because many non-residents have returned with kids, admiring the ocean beaches, taking photos, enjoying the amazing April weather. I grew up in Washington, DC where spring was a real season, shared with the whole world due to the cherry-blossom display. Then I spent 25 years in France, where spring isn’t so much a season as a philosophical concept, punctuation between winter and summer, despite that great old song about loving Paris in the springtime. Since Sven and I moved to Wellfleet a dozen years ago, not once has New England experienced a real spring. This year seems to be different. I can see tiny green leaves all aflutter on the Norway maple, outside my office window, and the birds are rehearsing their repertoire of summer songs.
Incredible sunshine this week so far: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, now Thursday, too. I used to go barefoot as soon as the weather permitted. I even can remember walking barefoot in Paris one very hot August day in 1971. (Such an unusual sight, in France, that a neighbor's little boy asked me why I was not wearing shoes. Smart kid. His quizzical look said, “Here’s an adult. No shoes in the park? What’s up?”) I don’t do that anymore, outside the house anyway, in case any ticks are meandering through the grass. But I still love to kick off my shoes at the beach and feel the sand between my toes. What is it about going barefoot? Can you help me define its charm?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How Green Does Your Garden Grow?

It’s Earth Day tomorrow, so I thought I’d jump right in and wish everyone a healthy, organic Earth Day now. Climate change should be on everyone’s mind, as it is desperately important to limit the CO2 pouring into the atmosphere, and yet there’s a second issue that I believe should be right up there on your WHAT SHALL I WORRY ABOUT TODAY list …

Yesterday evening I attended a talk, at Eastham Town Hall, by Chip Osborne, land care consultant, responsible for turning the town of Marblehead non-toxic. Chip explained how he had pricked up his ears in 1979 when the first synthetic fertilizers were taken off the market, as possible cancer-causing agents. And, so began his “transition to green” and “mission to educate the community.” New Hampshire, Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts are leading the way, he said. There’s even a bill pending in NH that would ban the use of pesticides for lawn care. Chip went on specifically describing how it’s possible to create a healthy lawn without the use of toxic chemicals, but I got stuck on one of his earlier statements: “Something we are doing in the last 50-60 years has gone awry.”

Gone awry? As in, an experiment that goes terribly wrong? Those are pretty strong words. What? What has gone “awry?”

Sven actually asked me that same question when I got home, because we have both been thinking about the new autism stats, which I reported on yesterday.

Here’s my conclusion: that nebulous “something” is a dramatic change to the environment, caused by all the unregulated synthetic chemicals, introduced after World War II. The chemical companies have managed to prevent tests on "inert" ingredients. We have swallowed hook, line, and sinker the idea that any “improvement” to our modern lifestyle should be embraced without proper verification of health risk. The EU got smart and started banning pesticides in 2001. Here in the USA, Monsanto, and the other large chemical companies, now own most of the seeds, Chip said. (Those seeds include genetically modified seed for Round-up-ready crops.) The chemical industry has us in a strangle hold.

“Pesticides are a public health problem requiring public engagement to solve.” I got this quote off a Web site Chip recommended, one created by the Pesticide Action Network, What’s On My Food? I think PAN is on to something. The good news is that people have begun to wake up. (Chip said 3% of the population now buys organic lawn products; 28% would switch if they knew how, so market share is increasing.) And, the EPA, under President Obama, intends to do its best to review unregulated chemicals.

I believe bloggers will play a role in the change that must come, taking back our health and our lives. I wrote about the subject today at Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. My story will be posted all week. Please tell your friends! The site needs more people to stand up and speak out for change of the Toxic Substance Control Act, as well as to support the new Safe Chemical Act of 2010.

This morning the Cape Cod Times brings good news: word is that the one-year moratorium our legislators have sought with the utility company is going to happen. Yippee!

"I think that there was deep concern and it was growing among all of the towns," County Commissioner Lyons said yesterday. "There's always this fear that what we know today is different tomorrow."

How right she is! As a green innkeeper, I often hear people’s stories of how pollution changed their lives, producing chemical sensitivities. In my own family, I had an uncle who, with the best intentions, treated his beloved climbing roses to a chemical cocktail every few weeks. His beloved eldest daughter’s windows were right above the roses. When she got early onset Parkinson’s and tried to figure out why, she remembered smelling that chemical spray.

So, my question on the eve of Earth Day is, are you aware of the imminent danger synthetic chemicals pose? What do you do to make your life and the lives of your loved ones less-toxic?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

WHAT Shows Documentary on Autistic Child

Strange how The Horse Boy lingers in the mind. Sven and I saw the film Saturday night. The heroes are an autistic boy and his father. The father convinces his wife to take four-year-old Rowan to Mongolia in the hope the experience will miraculously help their autistic son. Rowan throws four-hour temper tantrums. His mother is ready to try anything. One part of the cure will be horseback riding, since the boy has demonstrated an unusual affinity with animals. The other part involves meeting as many shamans as exist in this extreme country, and there seem to be quite a few. Sven and I had seen images of a similar landscape before in Nikita Mikhalkov’s Urga – no trees, hilly steppe extending as far as the eye can see – but here the barrenness echoes Rowan’s condition, making this modern tragedy resonate to a greater extent that it would have back home in Texas. (The horse photo was taken by my friend Julian Olivas, in Alaska.)

The documentary also features psychiatrists and autism researchers, who offer comments from time to time. I’m not going to give away the ending but suffice it to say The Horse Boy does not leave you indifferent. This is perhaps because 1 in 110 children, and 1 in 70 boys are afflicted with autism, according to Autism Speaks. Researchers are trying to figure out why. One of the doctors in the documentary mentions a possible predisposition in genes that environmental factors switch on, which would explain why there’s more autism in today’s polluted world. I had always wondered whether these dreadful statistics related only to cases in the USA, and, a CBS report April 17 answered that question for me: apparently they do. In America, cases of autism have skyrocketed 600% in the last 20 years!!!

Kudos to WHAT director Jeff Zinn for bringing documentaries like The Horse Boy, as well as foreign and independent films, to Wellfleet’s Julie Harris Stage over the winter. These films allow Cape Codders to escape to other worlds. Don’t miss the remaining shows this April, including Coco Before Channel with Audrey Tautou April 22 & 25, which Sven and I can recommend.

Had you heard of The Horse Boy? Do you worry about autism? Do you have any theories on what may be causing it? If you live abroad, is the number of autistic children in your country also increasing?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wellfleet Map Available Shortly: Sneak Peak!

It has been a gorgeous afternoon in Wellfleet. Anyone who drove along Route 6 today may have noticed the tulips on display, above. While cruising the Internet, I noticed that the new map of Wellfleet is visible online so now it's possible to journey along Route 6 via cyberspace. Check it out!

Finding Beauty in All the Right Places

In Wellfleet, the outing options for Nature-lovers are so numerous that I had to share five photos to illustrate this post. Rain in Boston does not always mean rain on the Outer Cape! Yesterday Sven and I drove up Long Pond Road to the Atlantic Ocean, on the way to buy bread. We passed Long Pond and, gazing out over the surface of the water through the pine trees, I gave it a mental 3, blue but not shimmering. The horizon from Ocean View Drive merited a 5. We continued on down to LeCount Hollow where a wistful surfer paused at the edge of the dune to contemplate the surf. Was he reluctant to leave, or wishing for the type of waves Hawaii provides? No idea. The ocean was greener than usual, and a curious cloud formation hovered in the distance. My mind gave the Atlantic a quick 4.5. After picking up the bread, we proceeded up Route 6 and turned onto Main, then Commercial to access the marina. There were half a dozen cars parked near the pier, due to the holiday. Everyone seemed to be out taking photos, myself included. A brisk breeze was blowing. One look told me Wellfleet Harbor had flung off its London Fog slicker and donned the sparkly petticoat I had mentioned two days ago. Considering the forecast and the season, I gave this view a 7.5. We drove less than 10 miles and saw so much beauty. On the Outer Cape, Nature’s bag of tricks is always full despite the weather. How easy it is to get jaded here!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

When Are Herbicides Part of a “Green Commitment?”

I would answer that question by saying, “Never on Cape Cod.”

Readers have emailed me, requesting an update on the movement to stop the utility company from spraying up to five herbicides, with a petroleum-based surfactant, under the power lines, so here’s a quick summary of what I know. The comment period was to end March 26. Congressman Delahunt has written to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson regarding the unique conditions on Cape Cod, which suggest herbicidal spraying under 150 miles of power lines is an inappropriate method of vegetative control. Legislators, the Cape Cod Commission, the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod, and hundreds of citizens all have written DAR Commissioner Scott Soares to request a one-year moratorium. The day before the CCC request submission, N. asked that the comment period be extended one month. It is not clear how this move with affect the one-year moratorium request, which N. may not accept. In the meantime, town officials across the Cape have been holding meetings with N., allowing the utility reps to explain their plan and the public to voice their concerns. (Check out the latest of these meetings, in this April 15, video from Chatham.)

Did you know N. actually has a page on its Web site called, “Green Commitment?” I involuntarily raised my eyebrows when I read, “N. is committed to conducting its business in a way that least impacts the environment. We're always looking for new and different ways to meet that commitment. It's all part of our mission of delivering great service to our customers.”

So-o-o-o, what’s up with this spraying plan, which the utility company appears determined to implement? Has N. somehow misunderstood the meaning of Green? Do they not realize you cannot claim “green commitment” and act in a manner that is not ecologically sound on site? The behavior contradicts the mission statement.

What does a “green commitment” imply, you ask? The Internet offers many, many definitions of “Green.”

In a recent Ezine article, Michael Richmond searches for the fundamental meaning and concludes, “The best definition of Green refers to the health impact of what we do on living things. So Green is primarily a health-related issue. This is seen in the fact that cleaning products were the early Green issues.”

Yesterday I spotted a following tweet: “Going green isn’t just some trendy catch-phrase for Whole Foods yuppies. Around the country, local governments are forcing corporations to clean up their act.” (Read more here.)

If N. really intends to conduct business in a manner that would least impact the environment, the head of the company, informed of the outcry by citizens, would cease and desist. This has not happened so far, so I conclude that the CEO a.) Doesn’t really care about his customers; b.) Has already purchased the herbicides and signed contracts with subcontracted companies that will spray locally; c.) Has simply not yet put 2 + 2 together and needs to be rapped across the knuckles. Toxic chemicals + single source aquifer = pollution of a local water supply.

If you feel incensed at what may happen to our beloved sandbar, the next step is to write Governor Deval Patrick this week. The Governor’s Web site has a quick and easy form you can use. Join the movement to keep the Outer Cape Green today!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bits & Pieces

April is a busy month in Wellfleet, so I decided to catch you all up on what's happening in one fell swoop. Town Meeting takes place April 26, and the Forum held an info session at the library last Monday to educate the public on the various warrant articles. This meeting was led by moderator Harry Terkanian, above. Today the Forum sponsored an event at the Senior Center to introduce three candidates for two positions as Selectmen: incumbents Mike May and Gerry Houk, and former Finance Committee member Breta Bruinooge.

One of the main issues discussed at both meetings was the wind turbine project, withdrawn by vote of Selectmen last week, 5-0. At the library meeting, Ira Wood explained his reasons. Jacqui Beebe went a step further and wrote a very comprehensive letter to explain how her position had evolved from a yes to a no. I obtained her permission to forward the letter to anyone interested. In the meantime, here's a snippet from its conclusion, "We would still be taking great financial risk and destroying a precious part of our rural environment to sell energy to the grid. I hope, as a community, we will aggressively pursue smaller, more beneficial alternative energy sources: hydro power (the new herring run tide gate, perhaps), solar panels (town buildings) and possibly smaller wind projects, but most importantly, energy conservation efforts, using less rather than creating more. We have not given up on alternative energy; we just need to do things more suited to our rural scale." Today Mike May described how he had come to oppose the 410-foot wind turbine at the chosen site, which was not White Crest as many of us had thought, but rather in the woods, close by Duck Pond, creating the necessity for an access road. The topic remains controversial, and a two-page note from the Energy Committee Chair was circulating at the Senior Center meeting this morning.

Another topic discussed today was regionalization as it applies to schools, and police chiefs, in the context of how to keep down costs. Mike May described the possible introduction of water taxis that would allow people from cruise ships to access the marina and downtown area, bringing the town a new source of income, an idea I, personally, found promising.

I spoke with Lisa Benson before the Senior Center meeting, and she told me Wellfleet's very first map for tourists will become available at the end of the month.

On Main Street, Pickle & Puppy is closing and offers 70% off this weekend.

There's a rumor that Dunkin' Donuts will move into the Cove Corners spot vacated by Sam Cooks, the one formerly held by Christine's Oasis. Some folks love Dunkin' Donuts. Some would prefer the franchise not enter Wellfleet. Feel free to share your opinion on what Dunkin' Donuts will do to Wellfleet, a town that has managed to avoid any similar chain stores in the past, or on any of the other issues raised above by leaving a comment ...

When A Rainy Forecast Causes Guests to Cancel ....

How can an innkeeper make guests feel extra special when Cape Cod refuses to wear its sparkly petticoat and has donned, instead, a ratty London Fog slicker?

The forecast was for rain this weekend and, yes, it is wet outside, with heavy rain overnight. We had two sets of guests arriving for Patriots’ Day weekend this afternoon, Couple 1 and Couple 2.

Couple 1 asked about booking on Tuesday and confirmed on Thursday: “We are thinking we will brave the weather. Is Seagull Cottage still available this Saturday and Sunday? We hope so! Also, is the cottage heated/will we be warm enough?”

We don’t take credit cards, and it was too late to send a deposit through the mail, but I responded that yes, the cottage was still available, that there was heat and even a fireplace. No problem there. Everyone seems to agree: Seagull is one of the coziest cottages on the Outer Cape, an all-round great accommodation, even in the rain. The couple can stay inside and watch DVDs, if the showers do not let up on Sunday. Monday the skies will clear. I was confident that these guests would enjoy themselves, despite the weather.

I felt less sanguine about the folks arriving for the Green Room. Couple 2 had been obliged to cancel a fall reservation due to flu and received a rain check due to this unusual circumstance. Several weeks ago they contacted me to reserve Saturday and Sunday of Patriots’ Day weekend. I noted the reservation for the three-night holiday on the online availability calendar, so it ceased to be a possibility for anyone else. Then, Wednesday, I received an email with a request to switch dates to a weekend in May, due to the “unpleasant forecast.” I felt awful playing bad cop but said, sure, only they would have to forfeit their deposit. The couple decided to maintain the reservation.

It’s true the Cape is lovelier with the sun out, but two days pass quickly in an unfamiliar environment. Restaurants are open, tickets to WHAT are available, and Provincetown is still only a twenty-five minute drive away. Part of the benefit of a weekend getaway is being in a different location. The French call it, “changer d’air.” A new place, with new sights to see, new experiences, is always invigorating. And, it is so very quiet here ....

I said to myself, Couple 2 have decided to come, so what can I do to make them feel special? Fill the room with fresh flowers? I do that already. Invite them for a glass of wine and some cheese before their dinner out? That’s an idea. Put champagne in the Green Room fridge? Maybe. Chocolates by their bedside? All of these sounded like reasonable options. However, before I could make up my mind, I received a second email that Couple 2 had decided to cancel. I understand. I totally do. Your first impression of Cape Cod matters, and these folks were first-timers. Cape Codders know that a beach can be walked in drizzle or fog, with appropriate outerwear. It’s dramatic and unforgettable, but not what the tourist may hope for or expect, (except for tourists like Robert Dudka, who once told me he prefers wild weather) …I wrote Couple 2 back to offer a discount on a future visit.

Then, this morning, I received the following email from the Couple 1: “ We are sorry to have to change our plans but the forecast is getting worse and worse and we have finally had to admit that this is not the weekend (weatherwise) to come down. I have already told several friends about your place, and we would very much like to come down on a sunny (even partly sunny!) weekend in the future. I apologize for the late notice. Thank you again for your kindness and assistance.”

Aaugh! (Expletive deleted!) If I had a credit card machine, I would have already charged Couple 1 for the non-refundable 50% deposit. Sven and I get to eat the organic raspberries, etc. purchased at Trader Joe's. Had no one booked, we might have planned to go away for the weekend ourselves ...

Besides getting a credit card machine, would you have done differently, if anything, had you been in my shoes?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chez Sven Featured in Currents Magazine

Across the sea lies ..... Portugal, a country that will soon have a problem with its airspace due to volcanic ash from Iceland. (My daughter is on vacation this week in Spain. Hope she can make it home this weekend!) Sven told me about the airborne ash two days ago, when the news appeared in the Swedish newspapers online, since the ash was then affecting flights in Kiruna, where he used to live. It's hard to realize a volcanic explosion, like the one that shook Indonesia in 1882, could happen again. This smaller amount of Icelandic ash serves as a bleak reminder.

Swedes all over the world, like Sven, will be using laptops and computers to check for the latest news. Perhaps some of them will also pull up the new online edition of Currents and discover the feature article by Hans Sanberg about our bed & breakfast? The article is in English, so please take a look and share your impressions in the comment space below.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What's Going On in Wellfleet Patriots' Day Weekend?

Time for an update on life, in general, on the Outer Cape, this April. The weekend forecast is not ideal, but we do have two reluctant couples heading down, one for the Green Room, one for Seagull Cottage. There's lots to do in Wellfleet when the sun isn't shining. Fortunately, these folks arrive Saturday, so at least they will have sunshine for the whole day on Monday! Whale-watching, off Provincetown, would be my first choice, even with gray skies. As I wrote earlier in the week, forty right whales have been spotted in Cape Cod Bay. It is also great fun to walk the beach at Duck Harbor. This week I found some beautiful shells there.

The Wellfleet Harbor Actors' Theater now offers non-blockbuster movies, the type Sven and I prefer: Saturday, The Horse Boy; Sunday, the Grateful Dead, in concert. (Also, aspiring actors, note that WHAT auditions for the summer season will take place next week, April 23 and 24!)

Wellfleet Preservation Hall is again raising money to complete the building project. Needed ? $800,000. If you happen to be in New York next Thursday, April 22, attend "New York on the Half Shell," a cocktail party with television celebrity Meredith Vieira as honorary chair. Tickets are $150. If you cannot get to New York, bid on one of four great auction items through the Preservation Hall Web site. And, while in Wellfleet this weekend, stroll down Main Street to admire progress on our future community center.

Take a painting workshop April 17 and 18th, 9 to 11, at the Castle Hill Center for the Arts, in Truro. Mike Carroll will be teaching abstract painting. (I'm not an artist, but I do find art on the beaches of Wellfleet and use my camera to record what I see. Check out these images of seaweed, photographed this week.)

Finally, at Quiet Minds Studio, on Sunday, 8:30 a.m., Zack will be leading yoga. Or, how about signing up for a great massage?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spiffed-Up Green Room Ready for New Season

Sometimes guests offer suggestions on possible changes to our accommodations. I always try to listen and do my best to follow through, if improvement is indeed possible. Today I would like to share suggestions made for the Green Room over the past two years, suggestions which I took to heart and acted on last week.

Everyone loves the yellow wallpaper from England and the salvaged Original Style tile in the bathroom, but this room, in the northern wing of the house, proved too dark for some people’s taste. Solved! Yesterday I removed the heavy drapes and installed wood blinds. Next, I need to find some soft lacy curtains for the curtain rods. (Anyone know of a good source, NOT made in China?)

Another issue was lack of a chest of drawers for long-term guests, reluctant to live out of suitcases. Solved! Check out the antique highboy that does the trick.

Finally, this spring a guest from Great Britain, suffering from jet lag, requested a kettle for early morning tea. Solved! I placed a small table in the closet underneath the refrigerator.

In order to make these improvements, we traded the television for radio and books.

What do you think of the room now?