Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WHAT Announces New Season

With snow on the way, it's a good day for a wood fire. Think summer by ordering a $125 subscription for WHAT's new season (call 508.349.WHAT). Artistic Director Dan Lombardo and Executive Director Mark Hough have just announced the plays that will be performed at the Julie Harris Stage, starting Memorial Day weekend:

May 26 - June 9: References to Salvador Dali Make me Hot by Jose Rivera
June 16 - July 7: The Consequences, A musical by Nathan Leigh and Kyle Jarrow (World Premiere)
July 14 - 28: Saving Kitty by Marisa Smith (World Premiere)
August 4 - 25: Hysteria: Or, Fragments of an Analysis of an Obsessional Neurosis by Terry Johnson
September 1 - 22: Oblomov by Wellfleet playwright Kevin Rice (American Premiere)

To Commute or Not To Commute ...

When I was in my 30s, I used to commute into Paris every day and thought nothing of the one-hour drive each way. At twice that age, I no longer feel so serene about getting in a car and driving to work. In fact, I’ve decided I really do not enjoy commuting to Cape Cod every weekend. Give me a solid winter month or two in the city, and I’m happy. That’s what Sven and I had last year. We lived in Cambridge for two months while a friend house-sat. For 2012, Sven decided to stay in Wellfleet, which means I must travel back and forth. I hate to think of all the gasoline the Volvo consumes. Wasteful, wasteful. I could take the bus, true. I have friends who swear by the bus. And, I do take it on an occasional basis, but what can I say? I simply prefer to drive. The two elements to consider are 1.) comfort, and 2.) speed. Every weekend, back and forth by bus, at 65, does not compute. Also, I usually stop in Orleans and food-shop along the way.

I have known Wellfleetians who actually worked in Boston and commuted every day. One woman would carpool to the Barnstable lot and take the bus from there, Monday through Friday. I have also encountered a few people who have the means to fly from Provincetown and back. (The fortunate few!) And, I’ve met professors who work in Providence, and come to the Cape on weekends. I don’t think I could do that. Because another problem is what happens once you return to Wellfleet. All it takes is one look at, say, Long Pond for instance, and a person wonders why he/she ever left in the first place.

Two hours, with no traffic, is one long drive. I cannot imagine doing that every day.

One of the conundrums the Economic Development Committee has been examining is how to increase the number of folks who live in Wellfleet and work from home. How does a town attract professionals with young children, interested in living year-round?

What’s your take on commuting? Do you do it? How long is your commute? Would you consider commuting to Boston or Providence for work? What would it take to get you to move your online business to Wellfleet?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Update on Wellfleet News

Here's a quick rundown of Wellfleet news:

1.) Seamen's Bank would like to rebuild a larger two-story structure on the Route 6 lot and must go before the Board of Appeals to get a special permit.

2.) Do you think bonfires should be allowed on Wellfleet's beaches? This item was on the agenda tonight. The following update comes to you thanks to Sky Freyss-Cole: "Beach fires are safe :) The proposal was taken off the table and a working group was created to discuss ideas and potential solutions. Suggestions can be sent to A report will be given at the Selectmen's meeting 4 weeks from today."

3.) Here is an update from Tracy Plaut on the IFAW event at Preservation Hall last Saturday: "We had 98 people attend who asked fantastic questions and really seemed to enjoy the presentation. We got a good group of people who were interested in volunteering which is invaluable! The Americorps house of Wellfleet and a group of my friends baked delicious sweets that were beautifully packed, and we had a ton of donations. All in all, we raised $2,150 which thrilled me no end, but the most important thing is that people had a forum to get all of their questions and concerns met surrounding the most recent event. Katie Moore, our director of the IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Department, gave the same presentation she had given to Congress two weeks before, and we had three additional staff to help answer questions as well. I could not have been more pleased."

3.) Have you marked your calendar yet for Blossoms? April 13, 14, 15. The organizers are very exited and with reason. "From zero to sixty miles an hour in two months," is how Judith Stiles described the progress to the Economic Development Committee yesterday. There will be free workshops, including How to Become a Non-Starving Artist, tile-painting, paper crane creation, and working with pastels. Approximately thirty emerging artists will show their work at Preservation Hall. (The deadline for submission has been extended to March 5.) The opening will begin at 3:30 with a wine/cheese cash bar and a fiddler for ambiance. Provincetown playwright Meryl Cohen will do a reading of her new play at WHAT. A poetry workshop will be held at the library. This is only a partial list of everything that is planned. Do check out Blossoms's web site and come to Wellfleet for this amazing new festival.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Have You Reserved for This Summer Yet?

If you have not yet made a reservation for summer and intend to visit Wellfleet for less than a week, I suggest you book a room now. The Stone Lion Inn was sold last year and has been undergoing renovation, with the construction of a sturdy brick basement. The inn was purchased by a family, so is no longer available to the public. Appletree closed as well at the end of 2010, and this year Sweet Liberty will no longer be open to guests. In other words, the number of bed & breakfasts in Wellfleet has greatly diminished over the past two years. Not good news for the innkeepers who remain, or for folks visiting the Outer Cape, in need of accommodation. Why? It's nice to be able to recommend a place people can stay when they call at the last minute. In April, I will try to visit some of the B&Bs that remain and write them up for this blog. Anyone have a suggestion of where I should start?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Incredible Lightness of Newcomb Hollow

Beachgoers never know what to expect when they walk a beach in quiet season. Sometimes a nondescript day on land turns out to be spectacular by the sea. Friday, ten days ago, was such a day. The sky had an incredible luminescence. Everything was pearl-colored. Gentle waves lapped at the shore. How peaceful nature can be! We all need a little Newcomb Hollow in our life ...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wellfleet Clams, For Sale at Whole Foods

Friday, February 24, 2012

Can We Claim Victory Re. Herbicidal Spraying?

Seagull 2: HOW SO?

The Cape Cod Times reported today that Wellfleet is not one of the 49 towns listed on the NStar's YOR (yearly operational plan), which means more reprieve from herbicidal spraying. Hurray! According to the article, Sylvia Broude of Toxics Action Network said she hopes the merger with Northeast Utilities is seen as "an opportunity for the combined company to act as a leader in reducing the use of herbicides under power lines. We hope this 2012 plan brings us one step closer to a long-term no-spray commitment for Cape Cod that protects the sole-source aquifer from contamination." (Please help Toxic Action Network with a donation.)

Another year without herbicides is good. A decision to abandon the herbicidal plan would be even better.

Meanwhile, in Letters to the Editor, I had another letter published:

Last week Governor Patrick stated that NStar has become "a bigger participant in the green energy generation revolution underway right now." How green can our utility company be as long as it plans to abuse the environment with the use of five herbicides, plus surfactant, to control vegetation under the power lines of Cape Cod? What about the implications of polluting a sole-source aquifer with these endocrine-disruptive chemicals??? Cape Cod activists had hoped Governor Patrick would include a provision in the deal that would prevent NStar’s horrific plan. Our homes sit above a sole-source aquifer. We drink well water. Emerging science indicates endocrine disruptive chemicals can affect humans at lower doses than earlier thought. Senator Kerry is currently sponsoring a Senate bill to protect citizens from endocrine disruptive chemicals. What’s up with the Governor? His office provides protection from higher electricity bills, but chooses not to protect us from toxic-chemical pollution?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Walk This Way ...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

IFAW to Hold Information Session/Auction Saturday

Here ye, all those with deep pockets and anyone interested in learning more about dolphins on Cape Cod: This coming Saturday, at Wellfleet Preservation Hall, you will be given the opportunity to learn lots of fun stuff about dolphins. Tracy Plaut is organizing. Why are they stranding themselves on the Outer Cape? Do you know what to do if you encounter a stranded dolphin on the beach? If the answer to this question is no, make sure to attend from 1 to 3 for a bit of enlightenment.

Tracy is also putting together a silent auction and bake sale to raise money for IFAW. The non-profit organization really needs monetary assistance this year ...

Did you know the tags volunteers use cost from $2200 to $3000 a piece? Tags are placed on the dorsal fin and transmit information on where the animal has gone after release in Provincetown. Check out some of the voyages on this cool map. IFAW accomplishes blood work and health assessment of dolphins before release. Earlier on, single stranded dolphins were euthanized, Tracy told me, because rescuers believed single animals could not survive on their own. Since then, it has been proved that they do hook up with other groups of animals. IFAW has had confirmation from boats and planes. Of the 71 found live in Wellfleet over the past five weeks, eleven died, four had to be euthanized due to injuries, and 56 were released.

If you have not already watched the fascinating CNN video of the IFAW volunteers in Wellfleet, check it out here.

Why do we all find dolphins so fascinating? Have you ever gotten up close and personal with one? Do you think people should be allowed to "swim with dolphins"?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wellfleet's Wicked Oyster: Not Bad At All

Last weekend Sven and I ate at Wicked Oyster. We had not dined there together for six years. Wicked Oyster is the closest restaurant to Chez Sven, walkable in fact, and a place we often send guests. What I really appreciated was the serenity of the setting. Of course, serenity was what I needed after last week. The food was good, too. I started with lentil soup. Sven ordered mussels, his favorite. A charming waitress served our main dish with a smile: lamb stew, perfect for a winter’s evening. Her ancestors came from the Azores, but she had grown up in Provincetown. I would have liked a bit of parsley on top, but, hey, I lived in France 25 years and have come to expect such things. I loved the candles, the fire in the fireplace, the paintings by local artists on the yellow walls. I asked about rivalry with the new French guys on the block. Max explained that the popularity of PB actually brought more discerning clients to town, so it had become a win-win situation. The only downside to our dinner was the check. Wicked has gotten pricey with entrées at twenty-five to thirty dollars ...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Reason Enough to Visit Wellfleet: Gull Pond

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Why Sven Calls Himself the Ironman

Men don’t always like to assume housework duties. I’m fortunate that Sven is not adverse to cleaning and regularly does dishes. He raised two boys by himself in Sweden in the 1970s, which may explain this propensity for what is usually deemed women’s work. He even knows how to use a sewing machine. But his favorite household chore must be ironing.

“Thanks for being my laundry man,” I said as he opened the ironing board.

Indignant, he exclaimed, “I’m not a laundry man. I’m … I’m the ironman.” And, all afternoon he was singing “I am the ironman, I am the ironman …” to the tune of “I’m Popeye The Sailor Man.”

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Billingsgate Antiques to Hold Art Show TODAY!

Last week I reported on Billingsgate Antiques and the art opening Antonette Berger and Rick Jacobson are organizing. Finally I have full details and wanted to share them with you: "We are exhibiting the works of Tod Perry, a local Harwich painter, Willie Adler, an established Philadelphia painter and Jermo (Jeremy Rossmeisl), an emerging painter from Boston. Local friend and Cabaret singer Lenny D’Italia will entertain. Refreshments will be provided."

The art work looks very promising, so don't miss this opportunity to pick up some nice paintings by local artists. The show takes place today, from 5 to 8.

Friday, February 17, 2012

One Theater, Two Theaters, Three ...

Brent Harold, in his Cape Cod Times column last week, asked whether WHAT can "get its groove back." What do you think? Is there room for two theaters in Wellfleet?

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I’m surprised how often Wellfleet has crept into the conversation over the past month. As most of you know, I am not on Cape Cod right now. I’m attending Grub Street, in Boston. During one of my first writing classes, a fellow student exclaimed, “You live in Wellfleet? Awesome! We spend a week every summer camping in Truro.”

I had come to the city to take courses, but last week the trajectory of my stay suddenly bifurcated and I ended up spending four days at Mass General after my elder daughter had a serious emergency procedure. Then, once home, she developed a small blood clot. Back we went to the ER. Her sister was with us, and we were discussing the future. Nat said, “You know, we will probably all be walking Wellfleet’s beaches, like Grandma, way into our 90s.” That was my second ER visit in one week and her third. The comment may not have eased my stress, but it did provide a good laugh, indispensable at such times.

A few days earlier, after the procedure, we talked death. (It had been on our minds, so why not discuss it?) Nat mentioned the pear tree under which we had buried my parents’ ashes, the pear tree, planted in Wellfleet.

At least the view was incredible. Her room sat at the top of the tallest MGH building, and Boston stretched out at our feet. It was possible to see from the Citgo sign all the way to Logan airport. Hills loomed to the west. Newton Highlands? Wellesley? Beacon Hill was chock-a-block with what reminded me of miniature Monopoly houses, one cuter and more expensive than the next. Grass grew on the roof of some of the buildings. To the east, I could watch the interminable ballet of jets landing or taking off. And, to the south? A string of lights on the highway, leading home to Wellfleet.

Now she is on blood thinners, counter-intuitive since she has a bleeding disorder, but necessary to dissolve the clot.

I don’t like to discuss family on this blog. That’s not it's focus. Still, I do believe in the power of prayer and wanted readers to know why my posts may be a bit off for a while.

This has been a lesson on what matters in life. Family matters. Cherish yours.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Update on the Bloggies & A Guest Post

Take a peek into the world of the urban writer over at The Urban Muse. There you'll find a post I wrote in support of my friend Meredith, whose Writer's Inner Journey was nominated for a Bloggie for Best-Kept-Secret Blog. Chezsven: Wellfleet Today did not receive enough votes for nomination in Lifetime Achievement, but thank you to everyone who took the time to vote. Please join me in supporting Meredith on the Bloggies Awards page. (While you're there, do check out Music Road, nominated for Best Blog about Music, and Attainable Sustainable, in the running for Best New Blog.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ready for Valentine's Day?

Valentine's Day is a very American celebration. People give red roses, or chocolates, to that special person who makes life worth living. Here are five ideas for alternative presents:

1.) Dinner out, say at PB Boulangerie, which opens this week.
2.) A surprise getaway, say at an intimate B&B like Chez Sven.
3.) Jewelry?
4.) A piece of art. (Sven gave me a painting as an engagement present.)
5.) Oysters from Mac's Seafood.

What are you planning to give/hoping to receive?

Update: Did you know there's a movement to rename Valentine's Day Generosity Day? Now that I like. Check out the details here.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Billingsgate Antiques to Hold Art Show

Last month, when Sven and I stopped in Billingsgate Antiques, we learned there was a big winter sale going on, and that an art show was in the works. Antonette attempted to send me the details, but they disappeared into Cyberspace. Therefore, all I can do is suggest you go in and find out for yourself. The antique shop on Route 6, located in the old ICA building at Cove Corners, has something for everyone. I love the stained glass and custom tiger maple tables. As a historian, Sven is fascinated by all the old stuff Antonette manages to collect. Stop by and check it out!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Lonely Jogger

Friday, February 10, 2012

TV, or No TV?

That is the question. I have noticed that many guests bring laptops and prefer to watch films that way, rather than using our DVD player. Modern televisions are so complicated with numerous buttons to push, different zappers to use, and three remotes, COUNT them, what with the DVD player, to negotiate. I have told Sven I think we should simply remove the televisions from Liberty Coin Suite and Seagull Cottage for the 2012 season. Last year we removed the Green Room TV and no one seemed to notice or care. What do you think? Should a bed & breakfast offer television in the second decade of the 21st century?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Beach Memories ...

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

IFAW Volunteers Rescue Dolphins in Wellfleet

Here's an opportunity to watch IFAW volunteers as they rescue dolphins on Cape Cod. Incredible footage, filmed only last week! Take a peek and remember to contribute to IFAW.

Sunken Treasure Ship Discovered Off Cape Cod

When I gaze out over the ocean, I often think of what's on the other side. Portugal, and further north, France. The imagination of some people does not reach straight across. Instead, it goes deeper. Professional treasure hunters scan the horizon, dreaming of sunken treasure. Modern technology facilitates locating it.

One such team had success off Wellfleet in 1984, with discovery of the Whydah. Some of the artifacts from that wreck are housed in a museum on Provincetown pier. Now another team is eager to bring up treasure from the Port Nicholson, a British merchant steamer that was torpedoed by the Germans off Cape Cod in 1942. The wreck, situated 50 miles off Provincetown, in 700 feet of water, contains an estimated three to five billion worth of platinum, diamonds, and gold. The cargo was listed as "automotive parts and military stores". Delivery of the platinum to the United States was to pay for military supplies provided to the Soviet Union during the war. The exact location of the wreck has not been revealed, and it's not yet clear what will happen to the booty.

The treasure hunters will be back this spring, and the whole world will be watching. What is it about sunken treasure that so fascinates the public? Have you ever found something that you considered treasure?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Something New at Chez Sven ...

It's tax time. Part of the fun of running a B&B is that you can buy beautiful objects for the business and deduct them. Take this clock from the ICA, for instance. The old clock in Seagull Cottage featured birds. While we enjoyed hearing the birds, their "singing" on the hour proved upsetting to some of our younger guests. Toddlers want to see real birds. It's confusing to have birds at the feeder out the bathroom window, and a clock that sounds like a bird in the kitchen. So, I knew our old clock had to go. While doing museums last month with Sven, I found this new beauty. Colors, not birds! Colors make no noise. Perfect, don't you think?

Monday, February 06, 2012

250th Anniversary Committee Holds Brainstorming Session

The 250th Anniversary Committee held an open meeting Saturday at the Council on Aging. Fifty Wellfleetians showed up and participated. The anniversary will take place August 4, 2013, but events will be scheduled throughout the year. Once committee members had been introduced, we started brainstorming. Here are some of the events already under consideration:

1.) A Made-in-Wellfleet day.
2.) Multi-media film organized by Dee Portnoy.
3.) Wellfleet-moments movie.
4.) The Wellfleet Historical Society is working on an oral history project.
5.) Walking tours, clambake.
6.) Sports events.
7.) The Chequessett Yacht Club will organize a golf tournament and a regatta.
8.) A giant potluck for town residents in off-season.

Here are more suggestions from the audience:

1.) The Adams Lodge will organize a Halloween party.
2.) Beth Chapman spoke of her involvement in Truro's 300th and suggested walking tours based on the watercolor paintings Edward Hopper created in our town.
3.) Elaine Lipton said the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival will dedicate one of its summer concerts to Wellfleet, with a program composed around Mary Oliver's poetry.
4.) Neighborhood block parties.
5.) Deb Giza suggested a horse and buggy tour of Paine Hollow.
6.) Marcia Seeler mentioned the Conservation Trust annual walk in September.
7.) An International Talk-Like-a-Pirate day celebration.
8.) Mark Hough of WHAT said playwrights will be encouraged to seek inspiration that fits the 250th theme.
9.) A scholarship for a student born and educated in Wellfleet could be created.
10.) A photo contest.
11.) Bob Prescott of MA Audubon volunteered to host a birthday party.
12.) The National Seashore will organize the Marconi Story and more.
13.) The Methodist Church may hold a tour of its stain glass windows, which illustrate the town and church's history.
14.) Someone spoke about the organization of a huge family photo on the town pier.
15.) Jean Schaefer, of the Wellfleet Non-Resident Taxpayers Association, suggested the creation of a booklet.
16.) David Wright and Becky Rosenberg may work together to organize a field day for children at Baker's field, an event they both remembered from the 200th anniversary.
17.) Becky may also organize a history of sports in Wellfleet.
18.) A triathalon.
19.) A kayak race.
20.) The Parkington Sisters will hold a concert at the bandstand on the pier.
21.) Kathleen Bacon volunteered to approach local sculptor Penelope Jenks with regard to the creation of a bronze commemorative statue of some kind.

Phew! Not sure I captured everything. The ideas were flowing fast and furious.

Do you have any suggestions you would like to share?

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Update on Wellfleet News

Lots of activity in Wellfleet of late ...

1.) Mac's Seafood threw a fabulous Groundhog's Day party at Preservation Hall. The fortunate forty, at the tables, were treated to an eight-course dinner of local foods, difficult to find in winter. Several members of the Cape & Islands radio team, including Jay Allison, were present. Mac and Alex Hay took turns describing, in detail, the sources of all ingredients used in the preparation of this magnificent meal. Sorry to have missed what must have been a unique event!

2.) The reconfiguration of Cumberland Farms was denied by the Wellfleet Board of Appeals. The lawyer pointed out the impossibility of a request for change of permit, when none had been issued to begin with.

3.) The Dunkin' Donuts' drive-thru application was withdrawn.

4.) The Wellfleet IFAW volunteers were followed by a team from CNN for a day. The IFAW spokesperson went before Congress that same day and was able to share live footage of Wellfleetians rescuing dolphins. Pretty cool!

5.) Dan Lombardo has been chosen as WHAT's artistic director.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Should Cape Visitors Worry about Lyme Disease?

Above, tick habitat. It’s interesting to read Internet searches that bring readers to this blog. In December, I noted the following search: “Visiting Cape Cod December. Deer ticks?” Should visitors to the Outer Cape worry about deer ticks? In one word, yes.

This winter has been so mild that ticks will be a definite menace in 2012. Last summer I noted fewer ticks, perhaps due to the three inches of ice that coated the countryside in January. Ticks are not supposed to be affected by winter weather, but the fact remains that I did see a difference.

Yesterday NPR reported on tick habitat across the USA. The Outer Cape has lots of ticks. Not as many as Nantucket, or the Vineyard. Still, best to be wary.

There’s a bill, filed by Rep. Jennifer Benson, to establish a Lyme Disease research center at the UMASS Medical School at Worcester. (To support Bill H.0349, write to the Joint Committee on Higher Education. Rep. Tom Sannicandro and Senator Michael O. Moore are Co-Chairs. Please shoot them short emails on this important matter.)

Yesterday legislative aide Jocelyn Cary, in Rep. Peake’s office, gave me an update. The bill is still in committee. Jocelyn reported the possibility that it might not go anywhere, due to progress on the Commission on Lyme Disease proposed by Governor Patrick. Members are still being approved. Seven remain to be appointed.

Personally, I do not understand why we cannot have both.

Having had Lyme Disease in the past, I am especially careful and warn guests to do regular tick checks. I have covered organic bug sprays in earlier posts. What also works as protection is to move around outside, rather than staying in one spot. So far, this technique has kept ticks off me ...

Do you worry about deer ticks? Have you had Lyme Disease? Do you consider the word "epidemic" to be appropriate?

Friday, February 03, 2012

Red Shoes on a Wire: LeCount Hollow

What do you think of having a photography contest be part of the 250th anniversary celebration in 2013? Come present your ideas on Saturday, tomorrow, from 10 to noon, at the Council on Aging. Help the 250th Anniversary Committee plan a spectacular year!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Where the Horizon Fills Up Like a Cup

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Say, "Hey! No BPA!"

Have you heard of Frederic vom Saal? How about Theo Colborn? Neither lives in Wellfleet, but I need to introduce you to them anyway. (Theo Colborn, you may remember. She wrote Our Stolen Future, a book I give B&B guests who show more than a passing interest in the environment. Frederic vom Saal is a scientist I encountered for the first time in Stephan Jarl's film Submission, still not available in the USA, unfortunately.) I urge you to read an article in the Missourian which provides the clearest explanation of why chemicals like BPA must be avoided, what endocrine disruptors are, and why we need to all demand that the FDA ban them. There was also an article Monday in the Washington Post about endocrine disruptive chemicals in cosmetics. Please read, share with friends and family, and join the movement away from disease towards health through safer chemicals.