Sunday, September 27, 2009
Rainy and cool
I’m starting to think I’ll be jet-lagged for the rest of my life and will always pass out at 7 PM. Then, I remind myself it usually takes me 10 days to recover.
The Cape was great. I didn’t want to come home. I want to move there NOW. I’m happier, more relaxed, and more creative.
I woke up at 4 AM on Thursday, and we were out the door well before 6. The drive up wasn’t bad — we missed most of the traffic, except around Providence. Rhode Island drivers are even worse than New Jersey drivers. And that’s saying something.
We stopped first at the National Marine Life Center, on Main St. of Buzzards Bay. I think this is the third time I’ve stopped — and they weren’t open AGAIN. One of the three staff members, a lovely man, took pity on me and showed us around.
The facility is amazing — and under construction. They’re doing it in portions — they raise money and do one complete bit, raise more money and do another bit. Once it’s done, it will be amazing, and a place to not only rehabilitate turtles, which is all they have room for now — but also help whales, seals, and dolphins. They currently partner with about a half a dozen other societies on the Cape, and they all have individual strengths, with which they help each other out. Which is as it should be, rather than the venues acting like they’re in competition with each other, which happens far too often.
They’ve got wonderful displays, with detailed information about different kinds of turtles, their migratory patterns — some of the ones who arrive at the hospital cold-stunned come from as far a Mexico. They’ve got a piece of a right whale (I want to say “rib” but I could be wrong) that’s not only about seven or eight feet long, but covered with something that feels like horsehair. The information is detailed enough to keep kids fascinated and intrigue adults. They’ve got some interactive pieces you can touch, a great gift shop (that contains bags knitted out of plastic bags torn into strips).
And, then, of course, there’s the hospital. I never realized how long it takes to rehabilitate a turtle — it can take years. The Belle of the Ball right now is a turtle named Patty who has some sort of fungus on her shell. She’s got quite the personality — when lifted, she tries to swim in air. She’s very alert and aware of what’s going on around her, and curious when someone comes by.
They’re an organization with whom I’d like to become more involved once I move. In the meantime, if you’re interested in reading about the turtles (they’ve got both rehabilitation and construction blogs), visit their site here.
By this time, we were hungry. We drove over the Sagamore Bridge — which was fine going TO the Cape, but there was construction in the direction, and traffic was backed up for a good two hours. We drove to Hyannis, to a restaurant called Cook’s, which is known for the quality of their food.
They’ve got a great reputation for a reason. I had lobster salad with fries and coleslaw. Really excellent. I’ve never liked coleslaw much, yet, in this past year, I’ll eat it on the Cape. Reasonably priced and very well done. They close from November to February every year, and they’re clean and un-fussy. A good clam slack, but with enough facilities to eat inside comfortably.
Shopping in Hyannis
We continued on and had a real Mercury Retrograde shopping afternoon. I mean that in the best possible way. We went to a fabric store –I made a quilt for my mom about fifteen years ago that she loves. Unfortunately, the fabric’s worn out (it wasn’t as sturdy, obviously, as the fabric used in quilts that have lasted for a couple of hundred years). I decided to make a duvet cover for her, but not in the traditional sense. She loves fleece, so I’m making her a fleece cover for it. My feather bed, which I’ve had since I was a child, also needs a new cover (the one it came with is bright orange swirls, which worked in the 70s, but now, not so much). I picked a burgundy and navy fleece plaid.
The store didn’t have the bobbins for my Viking sewing machine, but another woman who was purchasing fabric has one and told me about Sew N Vac, in Centreville, on Rt. 28. They’re the only authorized dealer in the area, and the only ones who carry bobbins that fit those machines. That explains why I’ve had so much bobbin failure over the past few years — wrong bobbins. I still got things sewn, but . . .hopefully, the right bobbin makes it easier.
The fabric was stuffed in the car, and then we headed off to Christmas Tree Shops. I’ve seen them advertised all over the place, but I’ve never actually been in one. I almost went into one around here, but it was dirty and the employees were surly, so I walked out. This one was huge and bright and clean. If I was already in the house, I would have filled about five shopping carts with seasonal decorations and had to hire a trailer hitch to get it all back. As it was, much to our delight and surprise, we found cushions for the kitchen chairs. Now, we’ve needed to replace those for about five years. We’ve looked and looked, and couldn’t find something we liked. I’ve been in the midst of designing a cushion for the seat with a cushion for the top that also had a drape down the back, but not gotten it quite right. Lo and behold, we found something much better — an earthtoned floral for the seat with a curved microsuede brown that picks up the brown in the seat cushion for the back. Perfect, and we got all the cushion we needed for only $22. Gotta love Mercury Retrograde. Plus, i bought a carousel horse. Yes, I know I have several in varying sizes around the house, and I nearly bought an actual one on a pole at the estate sale place a few months ago (except it was $7K and there are other things I’d rather spend $7K on, like trips). This is probably about 15 inches high from floor to top of ear (not measuring to withers like I would a real horse) and probably about a foot and a half long, including rocker. So he’s a rocking horse, not a carousel horse. And he was on sale, really, REALLY cheap, and the only one there, so I grabbed him.
Then, it was off to the bookstore, where I picked up Ted Kennedy’s autobiography TRUE COMPASS. Usually, I ignore political biographies and autobiographies, but, in this case, the man had such a strong personal impact on my life, that I both wanted to read it and felt I should. Since it was buy one biography, get one at 50% off, I bought William Zinsser’s WRITING PLACES. Most writers know his book ON WRITING WELL — this one is hilarious and amazing and wonderful — writers should read it. It’s about his writing journey from newspaperman to Yale master to — well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten, but it’s warm and funny and totally wonderful. And his point is that you can learn to write anywhere when you need to do it to pay the bills. He, his typewriters and his green metal typing table travelled from place to place, distraction to distraction, and he just did it.
We went to Shaw’s — a grocery store that’s only in New England, not down in NY — and picked up a few things we can’t get down here. And then we went in search of Sew N Vac to get the bobbins, and found it by sheer luck.
Some good Mercury Retrograde shopping
We drove back to Sandwich and checked into the Sandwich Lodge and Resort. They have a massive advertising campaign on the Cape, about how wonderful they are, how many amenities they have, etc., etc. In other words, they’re very impressed with themselves.
Me? Not so much.
The desk clerk was frosty and professional when we checked in. She had only one room left, next to the office. She showed us the room, designated as “non-smoking”. It was HUGE. The room was twice the size of Costume Imp’s apartment on 9th Avenue, back in the day. It was clean. It had a fridge and a microwave. We said yes. We checked in, paid, got a list of amenities, was warned there was a large group breakfasting the next morning between 7 & 8, so we might want to go earlier or later (a relief after the breakfast kerflamma in Prague). The desk clerk made it very clear that she was doing us a big, big favor by renting us a room, especially with a discount.
We get settled in the room. It’s a little noisy with people checking in, but we don’t think too much of it. There’s one tiny window in the front that has an air conditioner in (which we don’t need – the air was filled with autumn chill). There was another tiny window in the bathroom, which we cracked open to air out the place. We unpacked, got settled, looked through all the information I sweep up like a Hoover whenever we stop at a place with racks of information to make plans.
We headed to one of my favorite restaurants anywhere for dinner, the Beehive Tavern, also in Sandwich. There, we had haddock stuffed with lobster, leeks, and mushroom in a citrus sauce, mashed potatoes, and butternut squash. Again, I’m not much of a squash person, but this was good, and the haddock was outstanding. The portion was huge and we waddled out.
We walked around the “resort” for a bit, but it started raining, so we stopped. It’s got an indoor pool and a game room for kids and laundry facilities. There’s an expanse of yard in the back, but I’m not sure what it’s used for. I grabbed a cup of coffee (complimentary coffee and tea are advertised as available 24/7) and we headed back to the room to rest, watch the news, prepare for the next day. My jet lag was kicking in again.
The desk clerk gave the same “this is our last room” speech to at least three other couples during the course of our meanderings.
It was cold in the room (heck, it was in the 40s outside). We put on the heat, only to discover that it both smelled like it was burning and screeched like it was in pain. I futzed around with it and got it calmed down enough so that it didn’t smell like it would blow up any minute and quieted down. The remote didn’t work either — in order to change channels, I had to sit on the floor and manually change channels — which is not that big a deal, except it was a LOOONG trek across the room. And the remote in the room had already been switched out a few times, and there weren’t any more.
Additionally, because the room was next to the entrance to the office, not only did other residents act like the front of our room was their porch, standing there yammering and carrying on (I nearly ripped apart one guy who was sitting on the hood of my car), but the smoking urn was outside the office door — so our room was filled with cigarette smoke all the time, and, because Americans aren’t as considerate smokers as Europeans, it was much worse than Prague.
Resort? I don’t think so. If I’d paid full price and we were going to spend substantial time in the room, I would have pitched a fit at them. For two nights and just sleeping, it was fine — the room itself was fine. But I seriously doubt I’d stay there again.
I managed to stay awake until 10 PM, but fell asleep then, and was up and at ‘em by 4 again. I did my yoga — bliss to have lots of room — showered, read, wrote, and was ready for breakfast by 6. The breakfast was good — coffee, bagels, danish, juice — and filling.
We were 40 minutes early to the Bourne Scallop Festival. So I walked around, took some photos of the facility, and we sat and read up on other things we wanted to do that day, if we had time. Everyone was so cheerful and perky — we were among the first ones in. I wondered if that good cheer would last all day!
The fest is set up with one huge tent for arts and crafts booths, one huge tent with the food and music, and various rides. I was impressed with the quality and uniqueness of the arts and crafts stalls — very unusual for a fair circuit. Sea glass jewelry and beautiful woodworking and lovely paintings. I was surprised how many local authors had tables in the tent, too, and a local composer — I wasn’t sure if he was giving demonstrations, or composed for people on the spot, or what.
The food tent wasn’t what I expected — I knew the big draw was the huge scallop dinner. They use 6,000 pounds of scallops, 1200 pounds of Clam Fry Mix, and 18 gallons of eggs (sans shells) to feed people. It’s a little disconcerting to see the busloads of seniors disgorged at 10:30 in the morning and line up for a full scallop dinner!
We hadn’t bought the dinner ticket. We thought there would be booths from local restaurants with different offerings and we could just graze.
We were mistaken. There was another row of food: a grill for hamburgers and hotdogs, a jazz club serving coffee and chowder, and another stand that I couldn’t quite figure out what they sold. And Cabot cheese was in the process of setting up.
I went back to the artisan tent to a stand called . . .to the Queen’s Taste, where they had a variety of English and Scottish baked goods and the most enormous chocolate eclairs I ever saw in my life. I have a thing for chocolate eclairs (much as I have a thing for Eggs Benedict). Whenever I see them, I have to try one. The eclair was $7 and huge — too big to fit on the plate, so she had to cut it up. I got coffee at the jazz club stand (he was the only one selling coffee and was swamped). We sat and ate the eclair and drank the coffee, and then . . .we were done.
It wasn’t even 11 AM.
So we drove to the Sandwich Boardwalk and took a nice, long walk (because it is a long walk) down to the shoreline. It was beautiful and wonderful and so windy we were nearly blown off the boardwalk.
I’d seen a spooky house next to an even spookier cemetery driving along the canal. I stopped to photograph it — realizing that someone actually lived in the spooky house, although it looked abandoned!
We headed towards Dennis, driving through Barnstable and reinforcing that Sandwich and Barnstable are our first choices of town to which to relocate. We drove to Tobey Farm, which came highly recommended (and they do fun things like hayrides). We stocked up on tomatoes and corn and apples and cider and blueberry jam and some of my beloved beach plum jam.
The Optimist Cafe
We headed back, stopping at the Optimist Cafe in Yarmouth for lunch. It’s adorable. The food is delicious — and they even serve high tea. Some of the clientele, though, was incredibly rude. The waitstaff was doing a good job, but some of these people thought every time they took a breath, everyone should drop everything and cater to them. Unfortunately, they complained to the owner, who then chastised the overworked staff. This was a case where the customers were NOT right, and they needed to drop their attitude.
Anyway, I had a wonderful cup of spicy clam/corn chowder — one of the best I ever had — and a curried chicken sandwich, also fantastic.
My right rear tire looked a little sad when we returned to the car, but I thought it might just be because we were on soft ground.
We headed back to Sandwich, picked up some newspapers, looked at some other places we’ll stop in and try next time we’re out this way. We picked up some lobster rolls and fixings for dinner, and headed back to the “resort”, where we rested, read the papers, and had an early dinner.
I’m really pleased that Paul Kirk is the interim Senator from Massachusetts. I think he’ll take the office and its responsibilities seriously. I’m also really pleased to see how this area is picking itself up during the recession. But then, it’s got elected officials who are committed to doing what’s right for the people they represent, taking the stimulus money without fuss and funneling it quickly so it creates jobs and rebuilds infrastructure. They’re not being obstructionists or hypocrites, the way some of the politicians are in other states. The infrastructure building, as annoying as it is to drive around sometimes, is showing immediate results. You can feel the difference on the repaired roads and bridges. And by employing all these people, they are buying food and goods and services, so not only where they live benefit, but where they work — running errands and eating on lunch break, etc. It’s nice to see the positive ripple effect when policies are properly implemented.
Gotta love the Yankee practicality — because the construction on the Sagamore Bridge prevented school children from getting home at a reasonable time last Friday, sitting in traffic for over two hours, this Friday, schools were let out at noon. Lucky kids!
I tried to get coffee after dinner, because I was fading fast — no coffee available, in spite of the promise.
I was asleep by 7 PM.
Up early again yesterday morning. Yoga, repacked, early breakfast. It took awhile to pack the car, but we did, and were on the road by 8 AM. We headed back over the Bourne Bridge, to avoid the delays on the Sagamore, and hit I-195 as easy as could be. Drive back was pretty smooth. We stopped in Niantic — I didn’t find the one book I was looking for, MAGIC PRAGUE, by Rippolini, but found two others.
We stopped to pick up Chinese food, and I got my mom to her dog sitting job by 1:30. We had lunch, I played with the dog, and headed home. It took about 4 trips (up 3 flights of stairs) to get all the stuff up, but it’s up. The cats are delighted that I’m home, and all three stuck to me like Velcro all afternoon and evening. The rear tire was in bad shape. I stopped to get the tire pressure checked and it was reinflated. If it’s a problem again today — I’ll take it in tomorrow. Since I drove 500 miles on it, I’m hoping I can drive 20 or 30 more.
Sorted through the mail — I have some nasty letters to write tomorrow who mistakenly think they can scam my mom because she’s a senior citizen. Instead, they’ll have to deal with me — and the Attorney General’s office.
Found more email in my boxes from the past two days than arrived the entire time I was in Prague. A project I thought was dead is now revived. That’s a good thing, but I’d already mourned and moved on, so I have to mentally readjust. Downloaded photos. Wasn’t hungry at all. Am still jet-lagged.
I was asleep by 8 PM last night (trying to work my way up again). I woke up at 4, but made myself go back to sleep, where I had a series of odd, train-in Europe-related dreams. I was jerked awake at 6:11 by a ROBOCALL. A scam robocall, about mortgage adjustment. I’m filing a complaint with the FTC — these calls were outlawed last month.
Not a nice way to wake up. I planned to have a leisurely morning reading the papers, and not get back to reality until tomorrow. Oh, well.
I don’t really want to get back to reality, so I have to reassess how to reshape my reality to be what I want it to be.
Onward and . . . well, onward.