Saturday, September 29, 2012

Paulson for President!

How I wish he was running this year! It would be so nice to have something satirical and amusing to watch for a change.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


When I moved from Oklahoma to Cape Cod one of the biggest changes in my weekly routine is trash disposal. In Oklahoma I had two gigantic roller bins that I could fill to the brim and have removed every single week with no additional charge and the monthly fee was billed with our water. Every few months there would be a large trash pickup when all kinds of bulky trash would be picked up. Oklahoma has lots of land available for landfills.

Here on Cape Cod trash is not such an easy process. Our town has no municipal trash hauling. You can arrange for a private trash service to pick it up for you, but almost everyone chooses the least expensive option takes their own trash to the "transfer station". We call it the dump. All of our trash is trucked off Cape, so towns are very interested in encouraging recycling to reduce this charge. Our transfer station is set up so that you pass the recycle area on your way to the trash building. We have single stream recycling - plastic, glass and paper go in the same bin, with separate bins provided for cardboard and hard plastic. There are barrels where you can put your plastic bags. You can purchaser recycling bins for a nominal fee and lots of people do, but since you are dropping it off yourself you can put in in anything you like. The Department of Public Works sells compost bins for about half of the usual retail price, which encourages composting instead of bringing compostables to the transfer station. Reasonable amounts of yard waste go in a separate area, where you can take as much compost and mulch as you want for free. The amount of compost and mulch I take from the dump pays for my yearly fee! I used to have a bin of yard waste and one of trash every week in Oklahoma. Here I have one 30 gallon trash can every other week.

Recycling alone does not help much if we do not make an effort to use less, to repurpose what we already have and select recycled products where appropriate. Years ago we would do this without question. Used clothing was passed down, cut down, and finally used for small projects and rags until it was used up. Now we send it by the bale to Africa, where is has just about killed local clothing manufacture.  Reuse and repurpose does not have to mean dreary - Look at what this metal artist is making from used bicycle parts:

The pictures have nothing to do with the text unless you consider that using less means less land has to be put under production and more can be saved for beauty and refreshment. These pictures were taken at the Ryder Conservation Area in Mashpee MA.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Normal Life

I've had a really quiet week with little to report. No cycling, no parties, no fights, trips or adventures. The best thing about the week is that The Major Retailer where I work closes at 6:00 pm until the holidays roll around, so I have few shifts ending later than 7:00pm. I have most evening free now, which is very much to Shana's taste. I miss having a lot of days free to play outside, but the weather will not hold so much longer and indoor pursuits will be the order of the day.

I have been knitting quite a bit, but nothing much to show for it, at least in the form of finished objects. I've lost a lot of time down the Ravelry rabbit hole (I'm cinderellen over there) trying to match up my stash with new projects. If you've spent much time on Ravelry you know how that kind of research can leave you wandering in the wilderness of beautiful possibility. Looking at patterns makes you wander the Internet looking at yarns suited to that pattern - on and on. I came to my senses just in time to avoid buying both yarn and patterns, but barely.

I've been reading a fair amount lately too. What's on my nightstand now is The Night Circus. I have not finished it yet but I am willing to recommend it. The images it brings to life in my mind are magical - a combination of the writing style and the inventiveness of the author. It has the feeling of a dream. Magical Realism is one of my favorite categories, one which is nnot easy to do well. This book is enchanting.

To contribute to the general craziness of the presidential campaign Randy Newman has put out a little ditty that sums up some of the GOP hopes quite neatly:

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Out and About

Our Neighborhood Turkeys
It's fall here, and with the change of seasons comes a change in life on the Cape. On the day after Labor Day it was apparent that summer was over. Traffic has dropped off, not to winter levels, but noticeably. The kids have gone back to school and most of the vacationers have gone home. The summer workers are nearly all leaving, and the Summer People will mostly leave at the end of October, with the latest few leaving around Thanksgiving. The light is already different, and next week will see a few low temperatures below 50°. Our local flock of wild turkeys has been very much in evidence. One big Tom was sitting on our deck railing Friday morning, much to Shana's surprise. The Major Retailer where I work will be closing at 6:00 every night now, although I will still work a few late nights (until 11:30 pm!) here and there to reset floor displays when our customers are out of the building.

Oak Bluffs Harbor
Today is Shana's birthday, and thanks to the reduction in tourist population we were able to indulge in a  day trip to Martha's Vineyard yesterday. We took the Ferry out of Falmouth to Oak Bluffs because we were not taking a car across. Roxy stayed with "Aunt Lisa" for the day. Shana and I rented mopeds and spent the afternoon tooling around the island. Only a week earlier I would have hesitated because in high season it's a dangerous thing to do, but the traffic this week is largely locals. We visited Acquinnah to see the cliffs of Gay Head and the Acquinnah lighthouse. The cliffs are as beautiful as advertised and the ride was lovely, with intermittent views of the sea and intriguing glimpses of cottages among the dunes. We could not help but fantasize about how it would be to live there! As we approached the lighthouse we heard the unmistakable sounds of Native American song - this weekend Acquinnah was hosting the Wampanoag powwow. Next time we visit Martha's Vineyard we will bring a car and visit some of the other lighthouses and beaches. Philbin Beach is especially lovely, but it is private and we may not be able to go there.

Gay Head Cliffs
Today we went to the beautiful Coonamessett Inn for a champagne brunch for Shana's birthday meal. It's a pretty place, if a little "grandma", but the food is good and it was a place where Shana often went with her mother. We had a wonderful selection of delicious dishes and some very helpful advice from our Jamaican waiter on the preparation of callaloo. This my favorite cooked green, and thanks to a large Jamaican population here in the summer it is available at a local organic farm. I'm eager to try his recipe.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Labor Day 2012

Labor Day is not just a day to fire up the grill. It's a day to remember the American worker and the fight for workers' rights which built the American Unions. Whenever you hear "right to work" you can substitute "right to work for as little as possible".

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Still Touring the Beaches

Dunes at Sandy Neck
Sandy Neck Beach
Around here we are still touring the beaches of Cape Cod. There are so many that we probably will not visit them all this year. Shana had wanted to visit Sandy Neck Beach in the town of Barnstable, so away we went last weekend to explore the beach. You approach Sandy Neck through the dunes, which are lovely. At the eastern edge there is seems to be RV access to the beach, which must be a wonderful way to camp. A day pass costs $20.00, which seems to be about what they are charging for beach parking around the Cape. Of course late in the afternoon you can go for free, and walk in access is free. The beach itself is easy to access and very flat. That's the good news. The bad news is that typical for beaches on the bay side of the Cape, there is a lot more rocks than sand. Down near the water it is kind of sandy, but I was not using one of our beach chairs and I found the large rocks somewhat (!) uncomfortable. The amenities at this beach were good - snack bar, Flushorama, and shower. Because Sandy Neck is on the Bay side there are not large waves, and the current ban on swimming off the Atlantic facing beaches (because of large numbers of shark sightings) is not in effect.
Beach Access at White Crest

This week I had Friday free and since the weather was good I went for a ride. I took the Cape Cod Rail Trail as I often do, and to the 70 miles I usually ride I added a leg of the Claire Saltonstall Bikeway in the middle to bring my total mileage to 80 miles. The Bikeway is a string of roads and trails that you can follow from Boston to Provincetown using bike trails and roads which are not too busy. The leg that goes on from the Wellfleet end of the CCRT goes along the Atlantic shore of Cape Cod with beautiful ocean views but very little traffic. What is does have is hills. I used to ride a lot of hills for training but recently I have done nearly all my riding on flat trails. It's amazing how quick you get out of practice! As soon as I headed up the first hill I started breathing hard and had to remind myself not to panic and to let the bike do the work. I actually did walk up a short stretch on the way back because I had mishandled my gears and ended up losing too much momentum. It was good to have some manageable hills on a road where I can ride without dodging all kinds of traffic. I stopped at White Crest Beach on the way to see if that would be one we wanted to visit. Although the view was breathtaking I don't think we will be spending a lot of time there. It's a significant drive and services are minimal - a bathhouse and a parking lot (Day pass $15.00). This is not necessarily a barrier to visiting - the Mashpee Town Beach has one Porta Potty and that's all, but the lack of services there is offset by the fact that the beach is flat and easy to access - right off the parking lot. Also the Mashpee Town Beach  and South Cape State Park are quite close to home so a quick visit to the beach before going to work in the afternoon  is an easy thing. At White Crest  you access the beach over huge dunes and this beach is really far below the parking lot - a treacherously steep descent down the huge dunes with a correspondingly steep ascent back to your car. In soft sand it's hard to exaggerate how strenuous that is. Some of the Atlantic beaches have stairs down to the beach which is much easier access.  The road, however, is a nice bike ride - great surface, hilly but not murderously so, with stunning views everywhere you look.