Tuesday, December 9, 2008

more pictures


oh the weather outside is frightful (sometimes)

Monday was the first "real" day of winter for group service. Our house was with the Eastham Dept. of Public Works on a piece of property during the 20ish degree day. The eventual goal is to clear 50% of the underbrush as a firebreak throughout this 200ft strip of land that borders some homes. I was quite bundled, and even tried out my new Toastie Toes foot warmers--and they stayed nice and toasty! Really the only part of me that was cold was my chin. I think they should invent Toastie Toes for your face...only I suppose they would need a new name. So the people trained in chainsawing were chopping down trees, and those of us that weren't trained were lopping, hauling and piling brush/trees. Oh but I did get to use this brush-wacker gas-powered weed wacker thing, which was kinda exciting. Only it didn't work very well.
Today was back up to a summerish 50 degrees. Oh, the fickle weather of Cape Cod.
So I am now 23! Old, I know. My housemates made some brownies on my birthday, and we all enjoyed some delicious brownie sundays. Friday a bunch of us went to Harwich to a woman's home for a little dinner gathering. Afterwards we walked out to mainstreet to partake in the annual "Christmas Stroll" down Main Street. I had my hopes set a little too high for this magical stroll--mostly it tunred out to be an excuse for the shops to be open a few hours longer to catch consumers full of Christmas cheer unawares and lull them into their stores. On saturday I spent a few hours at the library with Jessica--we were both attempting to do some research on grad schools. Long day! That evening a few of us left to eat some Indian food, which was amazing. The waitress even brought out mango ice cream for all (and mine had a little candle in it!). Then we went contra dancing! I was doing a lot of laughing, a lot of bad dancing, and a lot of "wait, I thought I was the guy for this song" :) Twas fun.
The snow came on Sunday! We had stayed overnight at the Bourne house, so we went out for breakfast in the morning and then ventured over the Bridge to do some errands...in the snow storm! It was a winter wonderland. Later that day we went to the Barnstable Fire Dept. and helped out with their fundraiser by selling Christmas trees and wreathes. I even wore a wreath and danced around by the street. It was a pretty good day. Once we got back to Wellfleet, we realized it had rained all day instead of snowing and there was hardly a snow flake in sight.
Tonight I had my first yoga experience! So fun! I'm pretty sure I'm awful at it, but I enjoyed it none the less.
Well, that's all for now. Goodnight!
*Miss Ella--one of the best dogs I have known.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"beauty of the day"

Amanda said this ("beauty of the moment") today while we were in the middle of a service project. She says it as a reminder to be still, realize your place, and appreciate all the beauty that is in the current moment. To first describe the project a bit:
We were with the Eastham DNR helping them with shellfishing. In the morning a group of us did odd little jobs--spreading oysters in Salt Pond, preparing new cages for young shellfish, and creating a makeshift cart that would help us lug out bags of spat-covered shells and rebar later in the day. What is spat? Well, basically it's oyster goo that will eventually look like baby oysters and grow into big oysters :) So as a group we hiked out onto First Encounter Beach...and it looked like the surface of the moon. Or maybe the desert. Or maybe just like the tide had gone out and wasn't going to come back for a very long time. But whatever the landscape resembled, it stretched out for forever. At times we would cross sections of water that we waded through and there were also higher pieces of land that were covered in tall grasses. When we finally reached the bags of oyster spat after our trek, we began carting them out and spreading them all around the flats so they can continue to grow. Then we walked some more, and deconstructed huge streches of netting and rebar that provide cover for steamers (soft shelled clams) while they are growing. Basically the day involved a lot of trudging in heavy waders, digging in sand, carrying heavy/awkward materials...but it was great. And beautiful. We even saw the sunset, even though it was quite cloudy.
So now back to the "beauty of the day"... When Amanda said this I had been thinking about all of the oyster spat that I had just managed to wipe on my nose after trying to scratch an itch with my spat-coated gloves. So it seemed especially appropriate that I be re-awakened about the beautiful and amazing place and position in which I am--living, serving, and loving. And yes, I may be living below the poverty line...but hey, I'm living! And I really can't even compare my situation to the poverty line, because here I am with a job, a home that I don't have to pay for, I don't have to worry about those student loans yet, and I have an incredible support system. One of my main "worries" right now is what to do after this year, in part a daunting task because there are "so many options"...and after having said this aloud I was thankfully reminded of my faulty logic in seeing options as a worry. But the unknown of that "what now?" nonetheless remains a tad bit intimidating in all of its uncertainty.
I picked up a book of poems at the library by Mary Oliver. This one in particular caught my eye...partly because of its length :) I found it good for a smile (in a sense) and good for a think.

Watching a Documentary about Polar Bears
Trying to Survive on the Melting Ice Floes
That God had a plan, I do not doubt.
But what if His plan was, that we would do better?

Thoughts? Well, I am going to sleep now. I have been wanting to for the past 3 hours, but 7:00 is just not an acceptable bed time. But 9:58 totally is :) Goodnight!

Friday, October 24, 2008

So I have been getting bugged to get with it and update this blog of mine...sorry I've been such a slacker lately!
First of all, here are the 2 picture albums I've posted so far:



And now I'll try my very best to update you all on the past month or so of my life :)

My IP in Chatham
Individual placements (IP's) started Oct. 7. I have been making the 45 minute commute to the more "upper class" region of Cape Cod every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. So far I haven't been doing much with the conservation commission--in part because I'm still quite ill-informed on the ongoings of land management, but also because I have been focusing instead on planning an event with the Chatham Recyles group. I definitely do enjoy planning things...I think it's the brainstormer/dreamer in me :) It's when it gets very real (like going to grad school) that it isn't quite as fun anymore. But if you're interested in seeing a little bit of what I've been planning, check out these websites and look for information about America Recycles or Swap & Drop:



Eww, gross thing that happened yesterday: I visited a town property to check it out and update the database. I was only out for about 20 minutes (it was rather chilly and not a very big area), and I wasn't even walking through any tall grasses or brush, but when I got back in the car I found FOUR ticks crawling around on my pants! So I was officially freaked out and pulled over on the side of the road to flick them off of me. I told me service partner when I got back and she very casually said, "yeah, they're really active this time of year. " Just great. But no worries, I haven't found any others yet. And I still have managed to avoid the poisen ivy :)

Oyster Fest

Last weekend I got to experience my first slight taste of what summer traffic will be like. I wouldn't be surprised if my commute time doubles in the summer months...it's pretty ridiculous. Wellfleet's permanent population is about 2,500...and during Oyster Fest it skyrocketed to about 15,000. Crazy! I went both Saturday and Sunday to peruse the various crafty/creative stalls lining the streets. Vendors were from all over selling there wares (well, all over meaning from throughout the cape, Martha's Vineyard and other little islands). Wellfleet's main street was PACKED and you just kinda wedged yourself into the traffic and went with the flow. There was also quite a bit of delicious food...mmm. And of course multitudes of oysters, in every form imaginable. There was even oyster beer (I stayed far away from that). We watched an oyster-shucking contest, supported some fellow housemates on the 5K run, and listened/swayed to a blue grass band. Overall it was a lot of fun.

House Life

This past Wednesday was my turn to cook house dinner. I was partnered with our "house mom" (she hates that term, but I don't know how else to word it) and we concocted a lovely Polish meal :) We made stuffed cabbage, cabbage and noodles, perogies, cooked carrots, and rolls. And there was enough food to feed an extra house.
I am still trying to get used to my room/hallway. It's tricky sleeping in a place that people use a their thouroughfare. But it is nice to have some space, which is something not everyone has.
I finally got my foodstamps! I had to drive down to the office in Hyannis (an extra 30 minutes past my IP), but it will most definitely be worth it. Since they never mailed it to me, I have $320 built up on it! Crazy amazing :)
The weekends have been fun times to hang out with various housemates. Some nights we go out to explore cape night life, and other nights we all stay in to relax and watch a movie. I've been on quite a few hikes and beach outings...I even got to fly my kite (even if it wasn't incredibly successful)!

Well, that's a bit of an update. Let me know if you want to know more about anything in particular. This weekend I'm rising early to help out with the fin-fish study, and I think I'll also be volunteering to build a new playground going up in the town next door (they're having a week long playground build with volunteers). So hopefully we'll get some good fall weather before the cold takes over :)
I hope everyone is doing well! I'll try to be better and update again soon...take care until then!

Monday, October 6, 2008

selfish shellfish

Today we ventured into Brewster to do some shellfish propagation and preventative fuel clearing for the DNR. I got a much better feel for the importance behind shellfish farming compared to the first time our group did shellfish propagation. Our initial introduction a couple of weeks ago left me with the impression that much of the shellfish industry--oysters especially--is "kept alive" only to meet the demand of an oyster-loving consuming population, which basically boils down to economic reasons. I say "kept alive" because oysters no longer live and grow naturally in most of Cape Cod anymore. There are various interconnected and complex reasons behind this, but a major part of it is due to changing habitat from increased development around the waters. And the guy that was giving us the whole rundown never made it clear if any measures were being taken to curb development, prevent runoff, and try to restore the oyster habitats (which basically means restoring the water to a healthy state). He would just go on and on about how he was helping to meet the demand, and compared us throwing the grown oysters into the bay to later be picked up by harvesters to the Easter Bunny and his eggs. hmm...so this is where I had the big question of how in the world any of this is sustainable. It also didn't help that the guy went on a rant about Mexicans coming in, taking jobs and what he called the "national debt bank". Yeah...it was certainly interesting.
But today was much better. I got a better sense of how shellfish propigation is part of life on Cape Cod, and how much it offers the economy and culture here. A couple of weekends from now Wellfleet is having their famous Oyster Fest, which apparently draws in a few celebrities every year and there are some pretty sweet events.
I had a turn at shucking a clam (or quahog), and mercifully someone else ate it. All of us suited up in our waders and braved the wind and tides to sort through the oyster cages. Lisa and I particularly enjoyed watching the little snails and crabs trying to get their share of an oyster meal. I'm not used to the wind here yet...wind burn is a weird thing. The second part of the day was spent traveling along a road, tramping through the brush 100 ft in on either side, and lugging out fallen trees and logs that were potential fire starters. Pretty long day, but some fun in it nonetheless. I really can't complain :)
Tomorrow is my first day at my individual placement! So weird. I feel like I'm starting a new job, only I never applied for the job. And it will be the first time we're not all getting ready together in the moring...which might actaully turn out to be a good thing.
Our house supervisor is baking up a storm...halloween cupcakes with pumpkin and avacado (yes! bizarre?) icing, and decorated all fancily with spider webs and things.
I'll still do some writing about the weekend with the conference and all of that fun business...but goodnight for now!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

oak trees turn brown.

And oak trees are pretty much the only tree that grows here. Aside from buckthorn. But...there will still be a bit of color this fall, thanks to the poison ivy! Poison ivy is EVERYWHERE (sorry if I already wrote about this...), even in tree form. Apparently in winter we have to be extra careful, because it turns into stick form, but you can still get the oil all over you. Enough about that.
Everyone in my house is in some stage of being sick with a cold. I guess it's bound to happen when you're living with 13 other people and dishes don't get as clean as they should. In a way it's kind of nice, because I've been doing a lot of couch-lounging with all of the other folks who are feeling lazy/sick. And I watched a mini LOST marathon over the weekend with a few people :)
Yesterday I met my service partner, named Kristin, who will be my contact/supervisor for the Chatham Conservation Commission. She seems quite nice, and I think it will be good to get on some kind of established schedule. Although, I'm a little bummed (and a little intimidated) because a lot of the service I'll be doing involves planning, meeting with people, coordinating events, etc. And apparently I AM the Chatham Recycles program...it's up to me to get the town excited about their paper and plastic. eek! But I know it will be fine, and hey, one more experience.
Today we had our official day of being sworn into the AmeriCorps Cape Cod program. We all met at Barnstable County and met officials, learned about the orginization and how things are set up, and toured around to get a better sense of what was available for us. Long day. I'm learning more what an amazing program this is. We keep hearing over and over again how much we're appreciated in the Cape by the community, our service partners, and the town governments. It's pretty encouraging.
Alrighty, tis all for now. I'll be in Boston for the weekend!

Friday, September 26, 2008

it's a rainy day

And it's supposed to rain all weekend :( I believe technically it's called a tropical depression, but all that really matters is that it's really icky outside. Yesterday was quite lovely outside, although we didn't spend much time out there. We went to the Wellfleet Audobon where we had a mini set of lectures from various people about fisheries, septic systems, estuaries and contamination...I actually really enjoyed it, I felt like I was at Calvin again :) And we were in a building very much like the Bunker! It had all of its "green" requirements, and even had the cool foaming toilets. At lunch I was sitting at a picnic table and one girl on my side of the bench happened to sneeze...and the whole bench broke. It was pretty hilarious once we all got over the initial "ah I'm on the ground!" shock.
In the afternoon we drove over to the Truro elementary school (they are currently experiencing an outbreak of whooping cough, but we were told not to worry, they all are on antibiotics...) where we set up for out first WET Fest. Each of us were assigned a booth that has a specific topic to cover involving water...my partner and I were at the "Water Olympics" booth where we did different experiments with the kids to teach them about surface tension and cohesion. I think the favorite booth was Edible Aquifers...the kids got to make their own aquifer and well out of ice cream, pollute it with sprinkles and pop, and then eat it. It was actually a lot of fun. I think it will be nice to have those days mixed in between the manual labor days.
I have a new computer! It actually stays charged :) A carload of us drove over the bridge (off the cape!) to Plymouth to pick it up last night. So I'll finally be able to download some pictures! Excited?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

and then I saw a seal.

Actually...I saw a LOT of seals. A bunch of us drove up to Truro to Head of Meadow beach this afternoon where we met a whole fleet of seals just hanging out in the water. We were enjoying watching them, and I'm pretty sure they equally enjoyed watching us.
Today was incredibly laid back...so much so that we didn't even leave the house. Glorious! We went over specific house rules (things like "make sure you close at least one layer of the toilet seat"), had a mini house meeting, and finally got our individual placements! It turns out I'll be working in the town of Chatham. Tuesdays I'll be working to develop their recycling program...good thing I have experience making all of those nicely labeled bins for Theta 34 :) And Wednesdays and Thursdays I'll be working with the Chatham Conservation Commission...doing a lot. At this point I think I'll be doing some field work assessing land management techniques, doing some community and school outreach/education, and meeting with various people trying to figure out more conservation measures and such. It seems a little much at this point, but hopefully once I get into the swing of it all things will make more sense.
Tonight is house dinner! Always exciting to have some food that I don't have to cook :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

grape stomping?

Saturday night Wellfleet potluck proved to be a cultural lesson on the locals. I sat next to a woman who has been living in Wellfleet all her life, and shared with me tidbits about her relatives and how they influenced the town back in their day. She also demonstrated how I go about eating a raw oyster...apparently to get the "true flavor" you need to give it a good chew after letting it slip into your mouth out of its shell. So I practiced (after all I am living in Cape Cod, I have to give this seafood thing a try) and did my best not to gag on the thing while she stared me down to watch my oyster-eating technique. But I did it! And I don't know if I'll ever do it again...
I went to a local methodist church with one of the girls in my house on Sunday. It made me miss Roosevelt Park :( But it should be good to try out a new church for the year, and I'm happy to have some company. The town right above Wellfleet, Truro, had their big event of the year...the Truro Wine Festival. It so happens that Truro has a little vineyard, and the community celebrates by coming out to do some good ole grape stomping, wine tasting, vineyard wandering, and hanging out on the lawn listening to a pretty sweet jazz band. The Bourne House came out as well and it was fun just relaxing and spending some time with people. We finished up the weekend by going out to a Thai restaurant, and like always I was ready for bed at a nice early hour.
This week we have some more Red Cross disaster training, a day of aqua-culture training, and Wednesday we finally get our individual placements! We also will have our first experience with WET fest, which has been described to us as "controlled chaos" with elementary kids running around from booth to booth learning all about water. Sorry for the length on that one...I'll try to be more interesting (and shorter) next time :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

If I were a fisherman...(fisherwoman?)

Ah, life on the cape can be beautiful...especially when September weekends allow for time exploring the great outdoors. I woke up today at the bright and early (and dark) time of 5:15. I had signed up for a weekend service project with one of our partners, something that we have to do about twice a month. This particular project not only got me up and out of bed, but left me stinking like a fish. mmm my favorite :) We helped Ethan, a PhD student, with his research on fin fish in off of the cape shore. So we inflated rubber boats, hauled nets, got excited when all the little fish were pulled on shore, and picked out all the fish and crabs so we could classify and measure them. I think my favorite so far is the pipe fish...he kind of looks like a sea horse, only very stretched out and twig-like. And crabs are crazy! We were finding HUGE ones and itty bitty ones. All of the gulls were living it up, gorging themselves with the fish and crabs that were not so quick to make it back into the deeper water. I've decided I'm going to be incredibly strong by the end of these 11 months...whether its pulling nets, lopping off tree branches or reaching for the heavier food items on my kitchen shelf, I have my workout schedule built right into my day :)
I also drove over to the ocean side today to enjoy the opposite side of beach. Tonight a bunch of us from the Wellfleet house are going to the famous Wellfleet potluck...apparently it's a great place to meet the "crusty locals" and get some pretty amazing (and free) food. So, should be good!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

on the east side of the country...

Hi everyone! So...
I'm here living in Cape Cod! I know I told many of you that I would be better about keeping in touch, and I thought this blog would be a good way for me to (hopefully) do that. I'll be getting this thing going in a bit!
Much love,