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'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. 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". 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'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!