Sunday, March 31, 2013

Escape From Cape Cod

Maybe not "escape" exactly, but my trips off Cape are relatively few, so it's fun to pretend it's an actual escape. We slipped away with a friend for a day today to visit the ICA and enjoy a Mexican lunch. Easter Sunday proved to be the perfect day for a trip to the city. Traffic was pleasantly light and parking readily available in a location convenient to our planned destinations. We were also fortunate in our weather. It was a beautiful spring day with sunny skies and mild temperatures. Later this week the pretty weather will leave for a few days but today was just perfect.

First we went to lunch at Temazcal Tequila Cantina. We are always looking for Mexican food and BBQ.  Shana had researched the menu online and we thought it might be a good one to try. We wandered around a bit looking for it (road signs around the harbor can be confusing) and calling a couple of times for clarification on our directions, and we were happy when we found it. The location alone makes it a nice place to have lunch. It overlooks the harbor and with the gorgeous weather we enjoyed today the view can't be beat. When the server delivered Ipads as menus I knew we were not in the home of the $2.00 taco. It is not grandma's home made Mexican, but a delicious twist on classic dishes. Everything we ordered was beautifully presented and tasted home made, down to the deserts and the tortillas. The salsas were interesting in flavor and appearance. My favorite was a green sauce served both cold and hot with a bit o
Hanging Fired (Suspected Arson)
f honey added to the spicy and tart tastes I expected.  We even had enjoyable live entertainment during lunch.  Conversation and lunch were delicious! Sated and happy we walked back down the street to the ICA.

ICA does not exhibit many works at one time, and has some emphasis on installations rather than canvases. You are inclined to spend more time with the individual works on display; because there is generous space one is able to walk around pieces and view the from a variety of sides, as the artists intend them to be viewed. One that caught my eye this time, although I have seen it before is Cornelia Parker's Hanging Fire (Suspected Arson). This piece has a feeling of violent motion and feels vivid although it is uniformly black. It is made of salvaged wood from a fire suspended from the ceiling and rewards close viewing.

Hanging Fire (Suspected Arson) detail
There were also several pieces by Doris Salcedo in concrete and wood, or wood objects cast in stainless steel that were arresting and interesting. The works featured gave familiar homely objects a strange and almost threatening appearance.

There were a few video pieces that I found both odd and amusing. One that fascinated me and made me think and laugh was called (I think) My Mother and Me and featured three screens, each with a man and his mother. The mothers repeatedly spit at their sons with various attitudes of anger and hilarity. Sounds awful but was actually very interesting, and easier to watch than you would think. We got to do some interactive art projects as well, before we gave up and dawdled around the gift shop until we were ready to head back home.

We left Roxy to spend the day with her friends Louis and Mitzi, but apparently she was too anxious to enjoy their company. I am guessing that because Louis and Mitzi are not getting along well this weekend Roxy is finding her poor eyesight to be a disadvantage. When trouble bubbles up she would rather get out of the way fast. She was more than ready to come home as soon as I came to retrieve her.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Down Cape Tour

Still winter coats at the beach
Spring is starting to creep in here on Cape Cod. For a few hours of the last few days we have enjoyed temperatures in the 50's and everyone has been out taking advantage of it. I've been out for a bit every day and plan to be the Yard Slave this weekend. Some crocus is blooming, so I guess it's time to clean up the yard and get ready for summer. Roxy and I went to the Falmouth Dog Park, and every day we have been walking on a beach. She's actually been basking in the sun on the deck for a while every day.

Marconi Beach
Yesterday Shana and I both had the day off at the same time and we were determined to make the most of it. After dropping my car off at the garage (a tail light and a brake noise which turned out to be a tail light and a wheel bearing  but all better now) we headed off for a delicious breakfast at the Optimist Cafe.

Fortified for a fun day we next stopped at the Parnassus Book Service, one of my favorites that I was excited to show Shana. We had a specific goal there - a book for My FIL's 85th birthday gift. He's a big fan of the WWII book of photographs, and the Cape's excellent selection of used book stores makes a gift of this sort affordable and achievable. We found a good one, and also a little something for me - a copy of the 1959 Good Housekeeping Needlecraft. I love vintage craft books. The illustrations and styles are often hilarious but the information is timeless.

Next stop was Lemon Tree Village Shops for a bit of upscale browsing. We had a good time looking at beautiful pottery and lawn ornaments, and purchased a few more pedestrian items - a microplane suitable for grating small amounts of cheese, a bag of dried posole, and a bag of coffee.

Stairs completely gone
We had not been downcape for a while and we stopped at some of our favorite beaches to see what the winter storms had done. Nauset Light and Marconi Beaches are completely inaccessible, with the stairs completely gone and the dunes ending in a tremendous drop. My pictures don't adequately show how steep and how far down the drop is from the top of the dunes. In some places the top of the dunes can be as much as 140 feet above the water. There is some question about whether the beach access will be restored this summer, or ever.

We've planned a weekend camping getaway for June, before the vacationer descend upon the Cape. We stopped at the campground to select and reserve a space and to see if the nearby beach, a section of Coastguard Beach, is accessible. It looks like the storms drove sand over the road for a good quarter of a mile, but it has been cleared and you can walk down to the beach (albeit with some strenuous effort climbing back up).

We finished up the day's adventures with a stop at Russ and Marie's Marconi Beach Restaurant, which had caught Shana's eye with a smoker outside suggesting actual barbecue may be served. They do have and use a smoker, but when an Oklahoman asked for the portion of brisket that has bark on it and the waitress does not know what bark is you know you will be getting east coast BBQ. Generally this is roasted until the meat is falling off the bone, then finished on the grill where it get a little smoke instead of being cooked slowly in the smoker with a dry rub. They then smother it in some kind of sauce and serve it up. Not awful, and certainly tasty, but not quite what  we were hoping for. Portions were generous and I think I might stop there again, but we are still coming up empty for authentic barbecue in these parts.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring on the Beach

This morning I was thrilled by the weekly weather forecast. It looked inviting and warm. It called for high temperatures around 50°. How did I get to be so easily pleased? Any anyway, those temperatures were for Boston. Here on Cape Cod the highs will be closer to 40°, which to me is more like dead of winter temperature especially since the lows are in the mid 30s. We had snow flurries this morning. I am sulking something fierce because the Summer People are starting to come down to open their vacation homes before the year round residents have even had a weekend when we could walk on the beach without major outerwear.

I've been to the beach a couple of times this week: to South Cape on Sunday and Menahaunt Beach yesterday. Sunday the beach parking lot was about half full as the sun starved locals got out with their dogs to enjoy the day. Yesterday on Menahaunt Beach I met no one. Almost all of the homes in this area are summer and vacation homes and the families are all still out of town.

Next weekend will be yard cleanup weekend, no matter what the thermometer says. I'll take ugly "before" pictures and check out the condition of the lawn mover. Apparently Shana ran over a stump... I will put the snow shovels in the shed where they will stay until fall no matter what. In short, I will pretend that winter is over. I might even go to the nursery to admire shrubs.  Shana and I will discuss the layout of the new sunny bed where I am allotting a corner for her veggie growing experiments. Next time I am in Falmouth I will dig up some more hydrangea offsets and some little dogwoods, and look for some young holly trees to transplant to supplement my shrub borders. Our useless fence is coming down a panel or two at a time and I will not be replacing it, but will instead surround our property with beautiful shrubs for privacy and appearance.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

While Other People Are Having Spring

Last night we had snow again. We didn't get much, but snow it was, followed by an attractive rain and snow mix which melted most of the snow without in any way making the day cheerier. We've had sun the last few days, but sun in the "put on your hat and gloves and get out before it goes away" style. Too cold to be fun, but to sunny to pass up. For a change of pace Thursday we will have snow. The leaf buds are swelling on the trees and I have seen some iris leaves pushing their way up out of the ground, but as long as my feet are like two blocks of ice I do not believe spring is underway.

Sunday Shana and I treated ourselves to a nice breakfast out in Hyannis and went for a bundled up walk on the beach. The only beach requirement was that it should be a beach we had not visited before. We were trying to be thrifty about our gas, so we selected a beach on our way home. We stopped at Covell's Beach, which is a residents' only beach in season. It lies right near the very popular Craigville Beach where young people congregate. We had a nice walk along the beach before we moseyed on back home. I don't think either beach holds a candle to the Outer Cape beaches on the Atlantic side, but both are very nice and the sand is pretty. The dunes are low and more human scaled than the giant dunes of the Atlantic coast. The Atlantic dunes have suffered a lot of storm damage this winter; I am curious to see what they will be like this year.

Today because I could not cheer up the outdoor weather I changed the indoor weather. I made oatmeal for this week's breakfast, oatmeal cookies, red lentil dal for tomorrow's dinner, and a pile of naan to have with the dal. At least the inside of the house is warm and cozy with comforting smells.

I have only a baby blanket and a partial sock on the needles at the moment - can't quite settle on what i really want to knit next. What I'd really like to do is plan for my summer garden. I have already asked for 3 yards of compost for my birthday! There is plenty of cleanup that I could already be doing in the yard, but I am still sulking about the cold weather and don't want to set foot out there until it gets a bit warmer.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Fever Treatment

I was home today and needed to run my typical grocery errand. After the exciting purchase of canned dog food, bread and coffee cream I decided to stop on the way home to take Roxy for a walk.

I had not intended to stop because I was not wearing a coat and had on unsuitable footwear for walking. Clogs are a poor enough choice for rough terrain, but add to that the fact that I am (still) nursing a broken toe and you have a recipe for an uncomfortable walk. I thought about just going home but Roxy was so happy to walk even around the grocery parking lot that I did not want to deny her one of her favorite outings: a walk in the woods.  We chose Lowell Holly this time. The day was brilliantly sunny and Roxy was so happy to be out in the forest again. I was warm enough, and relished a few minutes in the sun all the more because colder weather arrives tomorrow. The long grey days have been getting to me and sun is the only cure.

This weekend we are back in the box with a forecast of snow. I am hoping for snow without the usual nor'easter weather because there has been such damage to the coast this winter. Many beaches and homes have been damaged and many homes have had to be destroyed. A sad winter indeed.

 I'm still knitting and wearing cozy woolly accessories. I am likely to finish Shana's convertible mittens today, then will go back to a pair of silk and wool gauntlets that I had already started. We are planning to go into Boston for the St. Patrick's Day parade, which will be another occasion to flaunt cozy handknits because the weather forecast is for temperatures in the 30's.  Only long time Boise residents would ever consider that comfortably cool.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Winter Won't Last Forever

This guy is probably a Hairy Woodpecker
This morning in spite of the weather forecast the skies were gray and depressing again. I am on the outer edge of how much crummy weather I want to look at so I adjourned to my library to sulk. Although my private lair is in the basement it is painted a sunny yellow and can look much more cheerful than yet another dank rainy day.

Roxy in her under-the-table lair
Later today Shana brought me a delicious french pastry from Maison Villate and the sun came out: two promising events. I took the bored, depressed and sun deprived Amazing Roxanne out for a spin around the neighborhood to cheer us both up. Everyone was out for a walk to get a bit of sun and some exercise that does not involve a shovel and snow.

When I came back I could notice that signs of spring have appeared in spite of the temperatures. The birds are active and you can see leaf buds on the trees and shrubs. I suppose that means it will eventually stop snowing every single. weekend.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Meteorological Spring

The local TV weatherman announced on the first of March that we were beginning meteorological spring, that is to say that the coldest months were now behind us and we could look forward to steadily warming temperatures. Astrological spring, that is to say the Vernal Equinox, is still a few weeks ahead of us. On Cape Cod spring comes when the waters of the Atlantic Ocean say it comes. The Atlantic moderates our fall and winter temperatures as well, but it's hard to be fair when it seems that winter will never end. Although I think we are past the chance of significant snow I have not yet returned the shovels to the shed.

Today we are having yet another winter storm. The winter storms around here have come nearly every week and last at least two days. Here on the Cape we are having mostly rain with periods of snow. On the mainland it seems to be all snow. Here on the Cape we are buffeted yet again by high winds and destructive tides. With the number of storms that have lined up since the first of the year there are crazy numbers of trees down. I've lost a couple of fence panels, and I don't have the heart to go out in the yard yet to pick up all the small branches that have come down. I watched my neighbor's trees waving around all morning, but did not want to look at my own for fear I'll see one about to come down.

I have been working on my winter accessories, creating some of the extra warm and heavy duty items still lacking in my wardrobe. Another Eden Slouch hat of sturdy wool, knitted tightly for maximum warmth has joined its prettier but thinner brethren. I have also made up a pair of convertible mittens, the Juris Mittens featured in the Interweave Knits Accessories 2001 issue. I used Knitpicks Wool of the Andes for these mittens and the new hat. I had purchased a sweater quantity some time ago, and had instead made Jared Flood's Guernsey Wrap . That left me with a few spare balls to use in another project. For the very sensitive the yarn is a little scratchy in gloves, but quite tolerable for me. Long wear and durability are more important for this project, IMHO. The next pair will be from some navy blue Bernat Lana merino (a discontinued yarn) that has been lurking in deep stash for some time. I picked it up at half price (maybe lower?) about five years ago. There is enough there for a warm hat as well.