Saturday, July 31, 2010

Calling All Recycling Volunteers!

Towards dinnertime every day this month, a steady stream of vacationers has reluctantly left Cahoon Hollow Beach for a rental home or motel room. It's great this Wellfleet beach is so popular with the muscle-flexing, beer-drinking crowd, who often come with young children. These beachgoers get a bite to eat for lunch at The Beachcomber, which doubles as a nightclub, or will have thought ahead to bring a picnic. But just take a look at the trash they leave behind ...

Distressed, I called Lydia Vivante, chair of the Wellfleet Recycling Commission, and suggested a recycling bin might be in order. After all, recycling is an option at the pier now. I told her about my B&B guest from last week, who had wandered around the village in search of a recycling bin. I was the one who finally took his empty plastic water bottle to the transfer station.

Lydia explained, with patience, that the issue was certain visitors, who do not know what to do with their household trash and deposit it in random trashcans before departure. She told me that the Recycling Commission was working on bins for Main Street, in front of the liquor store and perhaps Wellfleet Marketplace, but the problem was to find that special person who would be responsible for collection and transportation to the dump. (If you want to volunteer, or know of someone who has free time in summer, do contact Lydia.)

I attended the first fifteen minutes of the Recycling Commission meeting on Tuesday and was extremely impressed. The subject at hand was STYROFOAM and what to do with it. (Someone had left two styrofoam coolers near the bins at Cahoon Hollow and other people diligently deposited their beer cans in the cooler as they reached the parking lot.)

Tomorrow, Sunday, Lydia is organizing a sale of New Englander Rain Barrels at the special rate of $75, more than 25% off the regular price, from 11 to 1 on the Town Hall Lawn. Come support the Recycling Commission and do the water table a favor by buying a rain barrel or two.

Who do you think should be responsible for collection of recycled plastic in summer? Should the DPW add this task to their long list of responsibilities? How can we discourage tourists from leaving household trash in trashcans at the beach? Do you know why Styrofoam is bad for the environment?

Friday, July 30, 2010

What's New On the Bookshelf?

Here are three new books in the Chez Sven library.

Seedfolks was a present from my friend Tracy, who shares my interest in organic gardening. Author Paul Fleischman is perhaps better known for his children’s books, but this itty-bitty volume is a real keeper. It tells the story of how a community garden came into existence, showing the project through the eyes and voices of diverse members of a community in Cleveland.

Have you ever associated climate with history? Brian Fagan does in a book that was another gift, this time from one of my daughters. Actually, she gave The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations to Sven. I picked it up and was fascinated. I stopped reading half-way through so we can read out loud, together, once he returns from vacation in Sweden. (We had a couple here celebrating 40 years of marriage. I was moved by the way the wife read to her husband and decided it must be a great bedtime ritual. Recently, I learned the benefit of bedtime rituals from Alisa Bowman, a writer who has successfully turned her blog Project Happily Ever After into a book, available this fall.)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a New York Times Bestseller and no wonder. Henrietta Lacks dies young of cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore. Some of her cells become the basis of the HeLa cell line, which scientists seem to have used for research ever since. Do doctors have the right to use her cells without permission? Should her family be compensated? Author Rebecca Skloot manages to turn this unusual true story into a page-turner.

And, since we're talking books, click over to A Traveler’s Library for a novel set on the Outer Cape ...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Evening on the Town ...

There’s always something going on in the evening here in Wellfleet. In summer, the problem is deciding what to do. Should I pick the cocktail party or the stimulating talk at the library? Or, do both? What about "Born Yesterday" at WHAT, which my guests from Great Britain raved about?

It’s been an incredibly busy week for me, with meetings in town, new B&B guests arriving, cleaning, shopping, watering, ironing, watering, baking, watering ... This glorious weather has been great for beachgoers and anyone with a kayak but not ideal for the flowers and vegetables – no rain! Let’s hope the heavens open up today. Now, note the koi swimming above. Apparently the water they swim in is full of nutrients. My friend Laura uses it as natural fertilizer, renewing the water in their pool and using the dirty water on her garden. I learned this interesting fact when I attended a Green Drinks party at her house with a fellow Welfleetian. We admired a new type of beehive with one glass side, which reveals the busy bees at work, and got a tour of a fantastic organic garden. We slipped away from the party at 7:20. With the realization that I was too tired to walk back from town, my friend dropped me home so I could pick up my car.

In my mind, I had promised Harriet Jerusha Korim to attend Transformation: Life into Art, at the library, featuring poet Rosalind Pace, novelist Anne LeClaire, sculptor, Anna Poor, and Harriet, singer song-writer. Unfortunately, I missed Harriet's presentation. Almost every seat in the room was taken when I sneaked in at 8:00. Anna Poor was describing a large colorful painting, projected on the screen. Anne LeClaire then spoke about the importance of silence and the creative process. I didn’t fall asleep as Rosalind, whom I also know, began speaking in that marvelous modulated voice of hers but I admit to having let her words wash over me like waves. The role of creativity in life. Listen to your intuition. Transformation. Listen to your intuition. Art. Painting. Poetry. The art of silence … These ideas swam through my head as I left, inspired by the experience.

Outside, a warm breeze hit my skin, reminding me of evenings in Washington, DC, as a teenager, a memory so clear I could almost smell the freshly tarred pavement. I drove down to the marina where a crowd of people stood in line for ice cream at Mac’s. At the end of the parking lot, Wellfleetians and tourists were square dancing. Our family used to go square dancing on the pier in the 1970s. My youngest daughter had a pink muslin skirt that she saved for Wednesday evenings because it was perfect for twirling. I watched for a while as the two callers demonstrated moves and asked the hundred some people gathered in front of the bandstand to swing their partners, or do a dosado. There were grandmothers, kids, teenagers, all having fun. The brisk breeze blowing off the water salted the air. The pleasure boats, anchored at the marina, gently clinked at their moorings, a reassuring sound. I saw one little tourist whose day had already ended. Realizing I was as exhausted as he was, I headed home. It had been a long evening, after a long day. This is Wellfleet, too, in summer.

What are your favorite evening activities in July and August? Have you ever been square dancing at the marina? What do you think of the new Web site?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Year of Beautiful Wellfleet ...

I am so incredibly excited that I can hardly stand it. Today, at midnight, the Discover Wellfleet Web site will make its debut. What a milestone! To celebrate, I thought I would offer a photo album month by month, a year of beautiful Wellfleet, for your viewing pleasure. The place we live is indeed a “town for all seasons.” But first, a little wave action: Okay. So,now here we go. Everybody ready? Month by month, a look at life in our lovely little town:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Silent Spring Institute & Green Chemistry

My friend Sheryl Kraft asked me to write a guest post about cancer and environmental risks for her blog Midlife Matters at the Healthy Women Web site, so please check it out.

Yesterday I watched Crude while waiting for guests, so I did not get out to take any more photos of beautiful Wellfleet. Crude is a documentary about the native people of Ecuador and their lawsuit against Texaco/Chevron, two American companies that polluted their water, giving people cancer. In the documentary, Sting’s wife Trudi Styler says, referring to the Ecuadorians of the Rain Forest, “They have a right to clean water.” I believe we all should have a right to clean water, ie. not water that has been polluted by toxic chemicals.

For several years the researchers at Silent Spring Institute have been studying water samples from Cape Cod to try and figure out what in our H2O is giving us breast cancer. There’s a new video, on the Silent Spring site. In it, Executive Director Julia Brody speaks of being hopeful about “green chemistry.” Green chemistry involves a different thought process during the composition of consumer products and implies the creation of safer products. She recommends “sensible choices to bring exposures down.”

I worry about the men and women who are exposed to toxic fumes every day as they clean up Gulf Coast beaches. No choice there. Their livelihood gone, the fishermen accepted jobs with BP.

There’s been all this talk about health care over the past year but not much about the prevention of diseases like cancer, and a national effort to remove "hormone mimics" from our environment. I hope the media will pay more attention to this aspect of the health equation in the coming years.

Had you heard the term "green chemistry" before? Have you changed your lifestyle what with all the new information pouring in about environmental pollution and toxic chemicals in, say, sunscreen? Do you read labels? What is it going to take to get the Obama Administration to pay more than lip service to this issue and take on corporate power?

Monday, July 26, 2010

How Sharing Information Can Make A Difference

Above, Wellfleetians hold hands at a Hands Across the Sand event on Mayo Beach a month ago. This was one of the first protests I have attended in my life, and I am quite sure it will not be my last. A whole family organized the Wellfleet event during the 75th birthday of the grandfather. They stand here together, holding signs in favor of clean energy, created for the event. I learned about Hands Across the Sand through the Internet.

At breakfast yesterday morning, I was explaining to our Green Room guests, Great and Mike, how important protection of the environment has become to me. Greta explained she made sure the pediatrician did not give her kids more vaccinations than required by the state, and never more than three at a time. I told her about wanting a better world for my grand-kids. Her husband Mike had read my post about Slow Death by Rubber Duck and asked to see the book. I explained how I have started posting often to Facebook where I have discovered an informed community of people who share knowledge on toxins in the environment. I gave the couple several relevant Web sites before they left, including Environmental Working Group and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. Yesterday I touched two people, who will each reach out and touch at last two other people. Little by little, we will spread the word. You can find a guest post I wrote today for Kerri Campbell on this very subject at her fabulous green blog Living Large in our Little House.

While waiting for guests this afternoon, I am watching Crude. Do check out the clever video on Chevron, which could also be describing other environmental disasters, where corporations drilled for oil, like in the Gulf Coast, for instance ...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Innkeepers’ Lament (3): Why I Hate Waiting For Guests

I took this photo ten days ago, when fiddlers came to stay, a pleasant memory. They were great guests and let me know their arrival time. Waiting for guests all day is a super waste of time ...

There I sat again, yesterday afternoon, waiting for guests, not exactly twiddling my thumbs because I stayed busy, but unable to shop downtown. At least the folks who finally came called with updated arrival times!

I request an approximate arrival time because I have a life and need to be able to do other things with my day. Guests who tell me they will arrive at 2 and then decide to go to the beach instead, well, those guests cannot expect the same treatment as guests who predict a 2 o’clock arrival and arrive at 2. Oh, I know. Not always possible to estimate arrival time due to traffic in summer. Not a problem in today’s modern world. With a cell phone, it’s possible to give a buzz and say, “Hi. We are inching along in Eastham and hope to be with you soon.” That gives me an idea of when to be home. If they say, “We are running late and have just crossed the Sagamore Bridge,” I know I have time for a trip to the dump or an excursion downtown to buy fruit for breakfast. If they say, “We stopped for a bite to eat in Hyannis,” I can calculate two hours of errands, if need be.

I also do not take well to guests arriving at 1 when they have said 2. This happens a lot in summer. From the confirmation sheet every guest receives: “Arrival is between 2 PM and 9 PM. A week prior to your visit, please let us know by email your approximate arrival time. Often two or even three rooms turn over the same day, so this information helps us figure out which ones to prepare in priority.” Clear, no?

If you had a doctor’s appointment at 2, would you show up at 4? I don’t think so.

Guests who decide to go to the beach without giving me a call, well, any request for future reservations will not be considered. We had guests like that a few weeks ago. Nice folks from New York. They bopped in around dinnertime, tanned and relaxed after an afternoon at the beach. I would have liked to have gone to the beach, too, but I was here, waiting for them to arrive at 2, as they had estimated by email.

So, to summarize, if an innkeeper asks you for an approximate arrival time, try to keep the appointment you make for check-in or at least provide updates by cell phone ...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Guests Rave about WHAT’s Born Yesterday

We had the most amazing guests from Great Britain, filmmakers of science documentaries, who had recently retired and crossed the ocean on the QE2. I was sorry Sven missed meeting them. These folks packed a lot into their two days on the Outer Cape with a trip to Provincetown, dinner at Wicked Oyster and The Juice, cocktails at Pearl (“Cape Cod margaritas”). And, what they considered the pearl of their stay, an evening of theater at WHAT. Over breakfast yesterday, the two could not stop raving about Dan Lombardo’s Born Yesterday: “Just fantastic!” Jackie said. “You are so fortunate to have that theater. The actors were excellent. The theater’s a gem. Well-directed, well produced, well-acted. ” Martin joined us at the breakfast table and picked the thread right up: “Great play. Really, really good. Acting was excellent. The actress was brilliant. It stood up very well to metropolitan theater. Should have been full but it wasn’t. Really good for foreigners, too. About American greed …” Born Yesterday is playing through the end of July. Sounds like an interesting play, one that is very pertinent to what's going on in our world today … 

Friday, July 23, 2010

T-Shirts, Anyone?

A T-shirt is a great way to show one’s appreciation for Wellfleet. Vacationers love to take home a souvenir of a favorite vacation spot, don’t they? With this thought in mind, I set off downtown around noon yesterday, while everyone was at the beach, to photograph the options. To my surprise I discovered very few shirts at Wellfleet Marketplace, but perhaps they had already sold out? Abiyoyo offers a nice selection along a back wall, above. All sizes, all colors. Down Bank Street at RaRa, their T-shirt reminds us of the connection between Matenwa in Haiti and Wellfleet on Cape Cod. The design, by Ellen LeBow, is fabulous. The Juice, next door, offers clever Juice T-shirts with WELLFLEET printed on the back. Many of the restaurants in town seem to sell their own custom tees: Winslow’s Tavern, Mac’s Seafood, Beachcomber, Moby Dick’s. I discovered the best place to buy kids' T-shirts is Ragg Time. What a great selection! I promptly bought one for my new grandson. There are shirts and sweatshirts for mom and dad, too. I was hoping to find a shop selling Lil’ Codders, the great tee my granddaughter models here, but no luck. I bought it at Oysterfest last fall. Another favorite tee can be purchased at the Wellfleet Public Library. Or, support our Historical Society, which offers T-shirts and other Wellfleet paraphernalia at their Main Street location. When I was at PB Boulangerie Bistro yesterday, I looked for T-shirts but for now they only sell aprons. Imagine the extra benefit to the Frenchmen if they offered a custom tee! People from all over the world would want to take one home as a memory of the yummy croissants and pastries enjoyed over vacation. Think I’ll suggest to Boris and Phillipe that they make sure to write WELLFLEET across the back!

Do you have a favorite T-shirt from a past vacation? If you live in Wellfleet, do you ever wear tees with the name of our town on front or back?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What's Happening in Wellfleet?

Lots going on this weekend! The Wellfleet Historical Society is hosting a house tour on Sunday, which I would love to attend, but cleaning calls. WHAT has received fabulous reviews for its plays this season. Right now Born Yesterday is at the Julie Harris Stage and Cyrano is at the Harbor Stage. The Parkington Sisters will perform at the Congregational Church this weekend. And, tonight David Wright will give a free concert at Mayo Beach. While I would love to stay on top of all these events, that really is not the purpose of this blog. That is why I am happy to announce the Discover Wellfleet Web site will soon become operational. As many of you may remember, the Economic Development Committee suggested the creation of a Web site that promotes Wellfleet as a town for all seasons, an idea the Selectmen embraced wholeheartedly. Our chair Paul Pilcher has worked hard to make this new online destination shine, with help from Christian Patapie and Kathy Shorr. Cannot wait to see the results!

In the coming weeks, there will be several great events to promote Wellfleet Preservation Hall, including a concert July 29th featuring singer songwriter Richard Shindell. In the meantime, check out the gardens on display at last month's tour, filmed by FishTV.

Submission Update & Films That Make Us Think

Some of you have emailed to inquire about my progress on getting Stefan Jarl’s documentary Submission: In Defense of the Unborn to an American audience, so today, an update. The DVD is in the hands of the person in charge of documentaries at HBO. I have been told the decision can take up to three months. Several knowledgeable sources have confirmed that art cinemas no longer show documentaries, nor do regular cinemas for that matter. Why not? What makes multi-plex owners think citizens will not pay to see serious movies? Instead, the local cinema shows mostly junk, churned out by the American movie industry. We are fortunate here in Wellfleet to have WHAT and Jeff Zinn, son of one of my heroes, Howard Zinn. During the off-season, Jeff chooses to show documentaries and films that make us think and "edgy drama" that makes us think during high season. In Wellfleet, being made to think is seen as a positive. For at least nine months I have been active in trying to stop the local utility company from polluting our single-source aquifer with up to five herbicides, which I learned from Stefan’s film will indeed be toxic due to the “cocktail effect.” I had not heard of the documentary Blue Gold: World Water Wars, available since winter. Netflix characterizes it as “dark and cerebral.” I’m renting Blue Gold. How about you?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gulf Coast Petition Off To a Quick Start

Above, peaceful Long Pond yesterday evening. If you have not yet read my short post about fracking, please do so. I'm posting this morning to let you know there's now a petition to help the Gulf Coast. 20,000 people signed overnight, and I hope you will sign it, too. Let's hope our legislators get the message.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pete Seeger Leads Anti-Frackers in Song

"This land is your land. This land is my land." We need to protect our precious land since the government does not seem to be able to do so, often siding with corporations instead of citizens. We need to become better shepherds of our environment for the sake of future generations, like these two little girls, admiring the view at Cahoon Hollow this evening. At the Pennsylvania Senate tonight, ninety-one-year old Pete Seeger led protesters in song. Add your voice to the Halliburton Loophole petition here. How cool is that to see people coming together in a movement against injecting toxic chemicals into the ground, polluting groundwater, a process called '"fracking?"

“Water, Water Everywhere, And Not A Drop to Drink”

Coleridge wrote these words in his poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" to describe a situation on a ship at sea. They also fit the predicament we will be in if environmental pollution is not rapidly halted. People across the planet are becoming more aware of this natural resource most Americans take for granted: WATER! Provincetown has limited water supplies. Its well fields, in Truro, cannot keep up with demand during summer, forcing Provincetown to use two wells in the National Seashore. Since P-town water comes from a town targeted by the utility company for herbicidal spraying, as is Wellfleet, the purity of this water is in jeopardy. Citizens in New York and Pennsylvania have started to unite against fracking companies, which pay good money to lease land, then inject toxic chemicals into the ground to obtain natural gas, polluting groundwater in the process. When you add large amounts of toxic chemicals to an aquifer, be it in New York, Pennsylvania or Massachusetts, you poison your future water supply. How shortsighted can humans be? And, I didn’t even mention the incredible environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico, causing acid rain to fall in Iowa and beyond. The glaciers are melting. Sea levels are rising. June was the hottest month on record. Read Chris Hedges on how corporations are destroying our world, bit by bit.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A July Day in the Life

I got up at 7, as usual. Made coffee. Showered, prepared breakfast for guests. Three sets of new guests were coming, so I knew I had a very busy day ahead of me. The cottage guests left early, off to Ireland. I thanked them for the box of Irish chocolates, delicious. Not everyone thinks to bring a PRESENT to an innkeeper, in fact, VERY FEW people think to bring a present to an innkeeper, so this present was especially appreciated. I stripped beds and did laundry, hung the sheets out to dry. I made the beds and prepared flower bouquets while the sun was still relatively low in the sky. Making bouquets is one task I do with relish. It allows me to walk through the garden, a peaceful place, and contemplate nature. After lunch, my friend Christel, from Ocean of Serenity, dropped by to help with the cottage. We vacuumed and cleaned sinks, tubs, toilets, floors. Once everything sparkled, I felt ready and looked at the clock. Two p.m.! No time to change clothes as my first guest pulled into the parking area. From Buffalo, NY, she is attending a course at the Cape Cod Institute. Once I had given my talk about Wellfleet, I joined Christel for a cup of tea. Then the phone rang. Christel left to give someone a massage. I chatted with Cousin Maria, from Germany for ten minutes. Whoa! Pounding on the front door! The Green Room guests had arrived and with much gusto. This was their second visit and were they ever eager to tell me about new proficiency as kayakers, acquired through practice on the Charles River, and plans to explore the waterways of Cape Cod over the next three days. Last year I asked them to take photos with my camera and wrote a blog post about kayaking. Once these nice folks had settled in, I watered the garden for an hour. Time for dinner, and the news on TV, with feet up because it's been a long, hot day. The cottage guests arrived around 9 pm. I welcomed them and .... FULL STOP! What’s wrong with this picture so far? Oh, right! My husband. The SVEN part of Chez Sven. No sign of him. That's because he’s in Sweden, on vacation, for two weeks. Check out the photo Gloria took of his amazing eyes!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We Could Do With a Cheaper Vacation

New Listing: Book a piece of history! This vintage cottage was saved from the wrecking ball when a local shellfisherman hid it away behind his property for fifty years. Recently acquired by the Historical Society and moved to its present location close by Mayo Beach, this authentic oyster shack is now available for summer rental. It offers an exquisite view of Wellfleet Harbor and is within walking distance of town center, art galleries, theatre, restaurants, and shops. Jump out of bed in the morning and jog along a sandy beach. Swim whenever the urge takes you. Bicycle out picturesque back roads to Chequessett Neck, nearby. Enjoy take-out from Mac’s Seafood or The Bookstore while watching the sun go down over Great Island. Take in a play at the WHAT Harbor Stage, less than a block away. Small, but built to last by Cape craftsman, here's a cozy rental that boasts lots of light all around. It may be Spartan, but what a story to tell future grandchildren! How many people can say they slept in the same spot as hundreds of succulent Wellfleet oysters? Ideal for writer or artist. This is truly ''Old Cape Cod.” Beach towels provided. Bring your own sleeping bag. Wireless available upon request.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Buy Real Wellfleet Crafts at Jesse's Jewelry Studio

I love a story about a hometown girl who makes good. Here's one. Jesse Mia Horowitz followed her passion, attending a school for jewelry design off-Cape. Once she had learned her art, serendipity came knocking: a space opened up on the well-trodden tourist beat, on the way down Bank Street to the galleries from the Marketplace. This Wellfleet gal pounced and the rest is history. 2010 marks Jesse's fourth summer in business. I happened into her tiny shop yesterday evening with a friend who needed earrings for a wedding in Provincetown today. I had never visited Jewelry Studio of Wellfleet, although I had walked and driven past many times. What a great selection of handicrafts! Jesse does the silver work and her mom, Susan Ruykhaver, does the beads. (Yes, this story gets even better: a mom-daughter collaboration!) Some of the necklaces are tastefully displayed on vintage glass bottles. The color scheme is a treat for the eyes. Jesse was such a gracious hostess that I almost felt as if we were visiting her home. We also admired bracelets by Etta Costic (above) and a super long photo of Uncle Tim's bridge by Randal Smith. It's possible to peer into the atelier itself, which takes up the back half of the small building and see the artists at work. So, if you are in town on vacation, and want to take home a genuine MADE-IN-WELLFLEET object, check out this selection of beautiful jewelry ...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Do You Eat Genetically-Modified Foods?

The answer to the question in the title today is probably yes, if you live in the United States. Finally, citizens are beginning to wake up to the danger of genetically-modified crops. Not only is there the question of whether GMOs are good for people to eat or not (and I think not), but GMO crops spread through self-seeding and corrupt what is being grown organically nearby. GMOs have been imposed on the USA and not a peep did the industry hear from anyone. Europe was sensible to create laws against GMOs. Sign a petition against GMOs here. Fortunately there's a growing movement to promote local food and use organic food from community gardens, like this one here in Wellfleet, where Philipe Hunt of Winslow's Tavern collected calendula blossoms last weekend. Here's the Buy Fresh Buy Local Web site to help you find wholesome food on Cape Cod. Remember, you are what you eat. Check out the video below which explains how to identify whether or not the food you buy is genetically-modified and please do your best to pressure legislators on this important issue.