Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

I haven't written anything in a long time. No excuses. No explanations. Merely stating a fact. As this year comes to a close, it gives me a chance to refocus and make sure I make time for the important things.

I've recently come to terms with certain aspects of my life. I'm embracing myself, and following my heart instead of constantly trying to make other people happy. It's not easy. I've spent 30 years being agreeable and doing what is expected of me based on who I'm with. I feel like I'm 3 people. I'm trying to stop and just be myself. To actually be the person I am, and not what I'm expected to be.

I'm an introvert. My New Year's plans are to stay home, with my husband, and play ARK. This is a perfect evening for me. I don't want to walk crowded streets or shout over music at a party. I like my quiet little life. I want people to understand that I can love them, but not want to be with them all the time. I like my space and my privacy. I like being alone for hours, days. It comforts me. I give so much of myself when I'm face to face with those I love, that sometimes, a lot of the time, I don't want to see anyone so that I have a few pieces of myself left for me. Some of the people in my life understand this, but many do not.

I want to start 2016 fresh, as one person, acting true to my nature, all the time. This is not going to be easy to do. I am a natural caregiver, which is why I enjoy it as a career, but I need to learn to draw lines and make sure I care for myself. Sometimes, I do need to come first. I need to take time for myself and do the things that make me happy. So I'll be writing more. I'll get the blog done every other week, and maybe every week if a special idea strikes me. Becoming Grace Divine is going into its last editing phase now, and should be released by Memorial Day. I'll be running around shouting about Catching Bodel and having sales and events and such to fill the coming cold winter days. But mostly, I'll be home, enjoying being myself.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

National Seashore Walk Part 1

One of my favorite places on the lower cape to walk is in Eastham at the National Seashore Visitor Center. I've honestly never been inside the visitor center itself, but it's where the walk starts. There's a large parking lot and this time of year, its beautifully empty. There main trail is the Nauset Marsh Trail. It starts out bordering Salt Pond (which is visible from RT 6) and circles around through the marsh and up back to the visitor center. There is an offshoot of that trail that leads to Doane Rock, something I'll write about in another post.

There is a large outdoor amphitheater right below the visitor center itself. I've never seen anything happen at it, or heard of any events or anything, but that doesn't mean nothing happens there. It's likely I'm just too busy in the summer to notice. I remember walking along the benches as a child, jumping from row to row to avoid touching the ground until we reached the entrance to the walk.

My mother would take my brother and I on this walk often when we were kids. We'd bring my dog Shiva, who couldn't read the 'no dogs allowed' sign, and no one ever noticed or said a word. Mind you, you can't bring a dog during the summer, but during the offseason, you can manage it without an issue. I don't own a dog at the moment, and my cats are content to sit in the sun or sleep on my couches, so it's unlikely I'll be dragging them out with me anytime soon.

The first part of the walk is truly beautiful as it curls around Salt Pond. There used to be a bridge over a particularly marshy spot, but it was destroyed during one of the many winter storms. Salt Pond snakes out and ends up connected to the inlet at Nauset Outer Beach, so storm surge makes its way into the pond and does some reshaping every winter. Two years ago, we lost the bridge. Well, it wasn't lost, it was just moved to an inopportune place and at an angle that was no longer particularly useful for walking on. (That is one of my engagement photos)

They replaced the old bridge with a new one that is designed to be more mobile than the old version. From the look of it, it's supposed to be able to lift up with tides and its chained to posts to keep it from drifting away. And seeing as it's smaller, it has less surface area to be bent and twisted and abused. And if it does wrench away, it's cheaper and easier to replace. Good luck to you, little bridge, this winter season...

Here is the view around Salt Pond. There are going to be a lot of photos in these posts because I just don't have the right words to describe it.

The path circles half of the pond before pulling away a little. It curves sharply and goes up into the woods, before that happens, you have to cross another bridge. This bridge has survived the winters without incident so far. If you search images of Cape Cod, you're bound to find a few of it. It's kind of overkill for the little river is crosses, but I love it.
I think I'm going to have to break this walk into two or three posts, because there are so many great places to stop along the way. This seems like a good place to stop for now, which is ironic because it only take out 5 minutes to walk to this point.

Just looking at the pictures makes me think of the sharp smell of the salt marsh, which is drastically different from a fresh water marsh. I can hear the wind, which is always blowing on the cape, as it rushes through the grass. The birds are always having conversations as you walk by, especially if you're quiet about it. There is a fun mix of birds in the area, and I'm sorry to say I don't actually know enough about birds to explain. There are marsh birds like red-winged black birds, which hang out next to black-backed gulls and terns. Long-legged great blue heron poke their way along the shallows, or stand like regal statues.

There are raccoon, millions of squirrels and chipmunks, deer, possum, fox, and many other creatures that call the protected area their home. If you walk quietly or sit still, you can get lucky and see many of them. The trail is a great place to stop and just be for a while. It's only a few minutes away from the highway and the rest of the busy world, but it's just far enough removed to be peaceful. I'll take you farther down the trail next time...

Sunday, October 18, 2015


It has occurred to me that if I highlight a place on Cape Cod every entry, I'm likely to run out of places. My little sandbar isn't that large, and honestly, as an introvert, I don't like a lot of things. I'm content to explore through reading books and watching movies. Not that I am opposed to traveling, I just don't have a drive to do so.

Outside of New England, I've been to St. Martin, France, Ohio, Canada, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, and Colorado. So needless to say my experience of the world, even my own country, is limited. But that's never really bothered me. Maybe because I live in a beautiful place, but I think it's more that I have a vivid imagination and I allow myself to become totally lost in books and movies.

That being said, it's interesting to be a stay-at-home introvert and live on a place that is populated largely by visitors for three months of the year. Most of the people I interact with are people who enjoy seeing new places or traveling. It makes me sad how many people seem to be miserable while on vacation. I haven't really been on a vacation is years, life hasn't allowed for a stretch of time off. And being how I am, my ideal vacation is staying at my house for a week. Going anywhere involving an airplane, rental car, luggage, hotel rooms, etc, just sounds like a lot of work. Not to say it's not wonderful, but its not a vacation to me if its that much work. The most strenuous vacation I'd enjoy is driving to Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine to camp for a few days in the woods and sit by a fire in a place where there is no shower. That sounds wonderful to me.

So when I wait on tourists at the restaurant, or get stuck in lines with them, or any other interaction, it strikes me that so many of them seem viciously unhappy. I'm generalizing, mind you. Many tourists are wonderful happy people who are kind to the people serving them and courteous to the locals. Unfortunately, the vast majority are not like that. I've been treated so poorly by other human beings while waiting tables during tourist season that it shakes my faith in the goodness of humanity. I've watched other servers break down crying while someone screams in their face. Apparently, having a slightly overcooked burger is cause for this kind of behavior. I'm not prone to crying, no matter how nasty someone is to me. I worked on fishing boats as an observer for 2 years in a dangerous profession, surrounded by strangers all the time who weren't happy I was there. It takes a lot to intimidate me, and in all my years working in the service industry, I've only cried once. It's tempting to publicly shame the vicious man who was shouting at me and calling me stupid when I was the only server trying to take care of about 65 people, but I won't. He's just lucky I kept the cooks from taking revenge for me. Always be courteous to the people who handle your food...

People on vacation sometimes get this air of entitlement that is very hard to tolerate. It's as though the moment they leave their home, they become the center of the world. Everything has to be exactly as they like it and no one else even exists. I've seen countless people come into a restaurant during the busy summer season and start literally shouting at a host or hostess because they have to wait 45 minutes to an hour to sit down. Do they not see the 40 other people already waiting and that all of the tables are full? And they always demand to know where else they can go where they won't have to wait. I'm tempted to tell them to go home, but I restrain myself. Cape Cod in the summer is absolutely overflowing with more people than it can really hold, so there is a wait EVERYWHERE.

Our roads are not designed for the amount of traffic, so it's going to take hours to get anywhere. We have one highway that goes through the lower Cape. Through parts of Wellfleet and Truro there is literally ONE ROAD that goes through. There are no back roads. People don't really grasp what that means until there is a car accident and they close the highway for hours and there is literally no way to get out of or into P-town, Truro, or Wellfleet. There is not enough parking, and nowhere to add more. Every restaurant is going to be full of people. On the lower Cape, we have 2 large grocery stores that serve five towns, from Orleans to P-town. If you've ever looked at a map of Cape Cod,(like the one below) you'd notice how much space that really is. So the Stop and Shop is going to be mobbed and there are going to be lines and it's going to be hard to move. That's just the way it is. And while I realize it's annoying to the tourists, take a moment to think of how it feels for the locals who are just trying to get to work or get groceries after working a 10 hour day.
This blog has been somewhat of a rant. I hope it's not depressing or a downer. But I want to express what it's like to really live on Cape Cod, and it's not all sandy beaches and nice restaurants. It's a hard place to live, with few work opportunities outside of the service and labor industry, and many of those are seasonal, Beauty has a price.

I want to counter this rant with a bit of positive. I try and be a balanced person. While summer tourists have a tendency to be cruel, fall tourists are amazing. I've met the nicest happiest people in September and October. They tend to be retirees, or couples without children, so there is usually no rush. They like to chat with staff and will sit and enjoy their bottle of wine. It's still decently busy but no longer insane. I can make a left on the highway again. There might be a wait at a restaurant on a Friday or Sat, but no longer than 20 minutes for a large party. It's true that the water is cold and it's not really beach season anymore. It's also a reality that half of the summer restaurants close on Labor Day, and another quarter close on Columbus Day. There are 2 restaurants that stay open in Eastham year-round. That's it. We are not a place of variety in the winter.

Fall is wonderful here. My hours at work get cut back, and I have some time to actually go to the beach. I can start going for walks again. And the people I do interact with are so much happier. They tell me about where they are from, their lives, and they listen to my story as well. I wish summer was more like fall. I don't know why people need to rush, push and shove, yell, and demand. All of that behavior just makes things worse and slows things down further. I guess it's just human nature to be that way. So I'll be a fall person. Take my time, be kind to others, listen, and walk on the beach alone.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Rock Harbor

It's October now, and starting to feel like fall. As a fall and winter lover, I'm ecstatic, but I realize most people miss the summer. So I'm going to write about 4th of July at Rock Harbor to bring back a little summer for everyone. Before I start that, a quick promotion: Catching Bodel, my first novel, is on sale on Amazon for $0.99 today! Get an ebook while the getting is good <3

Ok, back to July. Rock Harbor is in Orleans, on the bay side of the Cape. It's a quiet place with small boats due to the shallowness of the channel. There are sad-looking pine trees marking safe passage for the incoming and outgoing boats. 

I have spent most of my 4th of July's there. Well, not actually the 4th, because Orleans doesn't have fireworks on the 4th. Provincetown has the fireworks on the actual holiday, and the other towns don't double up to avoid competing. So it's truer to say that I've spent most 2nd's, 3rd's, and 5th's at Rock Harbor.

We developed a system over the years to perfect our fireworks experience. My father is a mason, and has an F350 dump truck. In the morning, we drive the truck to the parking lot to get the best space and leave it there for the day with the staging in the back and a cooler of provisions locked in the cab. As it get's dark, we throw bikes into the other truck and drive to park at Snow's, which is about a mile walk from Rock Harbor. We ride the bikes in through the droves of cars and people struggling to get to the harbor. We set up the staging on the bed of the truck and invite friends and family to find their own way to join us. 

The entire parking lot fills with people. Vendors set up shop selling fried food, hot dogs, burgers, cotton candy, ice cream, etc. People pushing carts full of light up toys wander back and forth through the crowd. When I was a kid it was the simple snap them and they glow necklaces. Now there are light up swords that play music and other crazy things. My honorary niece and nephew, Alex and Abby, (my best friends children) joined us this year and it was so much fun to watch them reenact my childhood.

All of the locals find their way down there and congregate. I have a very large family and we know a lot of people, and everyone recognizes the truck with the staging, because we are the only ones crazy enough to do it. So we spend the hours before sunset talking to old friends. As soon as it gets dark, we climb up into the truck and start vying for the best perches on the staging. My Dad get's the best seat on the top level. When I was a kid I always got to be with him, but now I have to adult and I jostle for a good position like everyone else. I ended up on the second level this year, with Alex. (Bearded man behind me is Dad <3)

The fireworks are shot out over the water from the beach. The show is always wonderful, and the colorful members of my family put on quite a show as well with loud "ooh's and aaahh's". We are never quiet, and travel in packs (my father is one of 6 brothers). Like many large families, we collect people who become 'family' whether they like it or not. We end up with quite the congregation around the big white truck with the brick design.

No matter how old I get, I'll always love the fireworks. Rock Harbor will always be fireworks in my eyes. I drive by it every day to get to work, and it makes me smile every time. I stopped in the other day and took a few pictures, because September on the Cape is amazing.

I realize this post has a ton of pictures, but sometimes, pictures wrap around words or words wrap around pictures and it makes everything that much better. I love this place not only for what it is, but for all of the memories I have there, and memories I look forward to making with my own kids someday. So I hope this made you think of your own 4th of July traditions and celebrations and made you feel warm and happy, and reminded you to try and retain your sense of childish wonder at the world.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Wellfleet Drive-In

Pretty much anyone who's ventured onto the lower end of Cape Cod has at least noticed, if not been to, the Wellfleet Drive-In. I happen to live about 5 minutes away from it. It is one of my favorite things about summers on the Cape.

Many of my best childhood memories happened at the drive-in. We'd go in my dad's Ford truck with the back filled with blankets and pillows. Back in the good old days, the playground was a bit more dangerous and fun. The best thing about the playground is no longer there, and I almost cried when they took it away. It was a huge fully metal merry-go-round of wonderful. I don't have any pictures of the giant yellow beast, but this is the closest I could find on the internet.

This thing was a serious piece of equipment. Getting hit in the head by one of the bars was concussion material. My brother and I would each grab a handle and wait for a bunch of WILLING kids to jump on. Then we'd start running around as fast as we could to see how many of them we could make go flying off. It was the most fun I had as a kid. The other kids loved it also. If any of them called out, we had a system to slow the merry-go-round-basically grabbing on and letting ourselves get dragged. But it worked, and the scared kid could get off unharmed and we could start it going again. We did this with the supervision of adults. Yes, kids fell off. Yes, kids scraped knees, got winded, were hurt. There was sometimes blood and tears. It makes me sad that if  we tried to do the same thing now, my brother and I would be sent to juvy and put in intensive counseling. It bothers me how we put a bubble around the next generation. I grew up bouncing around the back of a truck with no seat belt, falling off metal merry-go-rounds, jumping off of swings, and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. I lived through my childhood, and I never had anyone drop dead from being too close to my food. End mini rant.

Anyway, back to the drive-in. We'd go early so we could get a good spot, seeing as my Dad's truck was large and could only be parked by a yellow pole. Yellow poles are the first 3 rows and the last 6. For those who can't understand why a tall vehicle should have to park in a certain space, go in a car and park behind a truck and you'll get it. We liked being up front, though it did put us farther from the playground.

Attached to the poles are speakers, which no one really uses anymore because the sound comes in over the radio. Even when I was a kid the radio was better than the speakers, but I love that they are still there, even if only some of them work. Though I didn't appreciate them one evening when running back to the truck as the second movie started, and getting clothes-lined by a wire going from pole to car window. The guy who's window I nearly broke wasn't all that happy about it either.

After the movies, because it's always a double feature, we'd leave through the back entrance, which happens to let out onto the road my house is on. Dad would leave us curled in the back of the truck (no seat belts, no seats for that matter) and drive home. I loved looking up at the stars during that ride. I don't know many constellations, but even as a child I knew the big dipper and I could find it. I was always kinda sad when the drive was over and it was time to go inside. I wanted to sleep in the back of the truck.

I've seen some wonderful movies there, but honestly, it's the rare occasions that they play classics that are the best. Watching Aliens on that huge screen in the dark was so much fun.This weekend they have Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jaws playing together! 

I'm so happy that the drive-in is still here. I can't wait to take my future children to it and point at the empty spot where the death-trap metal merry-go-round used to be. I can go on about the glory days, and let my kids cuddle in the bed of my truck for the drive home...

Friday, September 4, 2015

Cape Cod Lawn

There is an iconic image of children rolling down grassy hills and sitting in lush fields of green. Cape Cod doesn't have large open spaces and fields of grass. There are some, of course. Golf courses, manicured government maintained yards outside public buildings, and some private yards doted on by grass-loving-expensive-sprinkler-system-buying people. But in my humble opinion, based on my experience growing up in the working class blue collar Cape Cod community, what most people have is what I call a Cape Cod lawn. Here's an example.
This is a section of my back yard. There are several species of grass out there, none of which arrived due to intelligent design or intention.  It grows without our involvement. only gaining out attention when it becomes tall enough to require the lawn mower. It doesn't grow all that fast or well, because Cape Cod is sandy, and we don't get a lot of rain. So some species turn brown, while others flourish and are bright and green well past the summer months. And it's all patched together in a crazy quilt of nature akin to what a blind person might create if given quilting materials without any instruction.

I love my yard. I love the weird little blank patches where it's sandy. I love the tall green grass growing next to the stubby darker colored patches. I even love the dried brown stuff. Every spring I go about the chore of trying to fight back the wisteria that is insidiously invading from the other side of the fence. I also make an attempt to remove the millions of lucust tree roots that criss-cross the yard. When successful, long thin lines of collapsed section appear in the yard where the thick roots were wrenched out of the ground by a swearing person (I could make a trucker blush when properly irritated). I make a halfhearted attempt to close in the gaps, but not really, so the yard is uneven and ends up with more and more little patches of empty sand spots. But I hate locust trees with a passion, and the chipmunks and squirrels seem to enjoy the obstacle course that is my yard.

Like most of New England, Cape Cod is an intricate weave of meandering roads that make no sense and are not for the faint of heart or easily confused. Most yards are smaller, due to the limited space. I'm used to having a short view of my surroundings, disrupted quickly by scrub pine, lucust, and struggling oak trees. Most roads are so narrow you can't pass a biker unless the other side of the road is clear. The houses are right up against the roads, with very few of them set back. There isn't room to set them back in most cases. Too many things crammed into a skinny little space.

I discovered something when I traveled to Arizona and Colorado. It was beautiful there, and I'd love to visit again, but I found the large open spaces very disconcerting. What I found the most difficult was the order and simplicity in the roads. They made sense. Plots were square. There was intelligent design. And it freaked me out. I require twisting roads that change names three times for no reason, stop for a half mile to become something else, then resume, and four way stops that are really six way that might as well have signs saying "Close your eyes, floor it and hope" rather than "Stop." I like that Cape Cod yards go right up to the roads. Planned communities are so alien to me, they make me uncomfortable. I like chaos, which is probably why I love my Cape Cod yard.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Campground Beach

There is a place that you won't find highlighted on any maps, or written about in travel books; there is nothing about the place that is particularly remarkable. It is just a beach on the bay side of Cape Cod. There isn't even a clearly marked sign telling you that it's there, or what its called. It's simply a beach at the end of Campground Road, in Eastham.

Campground Beach is special to me because I grew up on it. It's a 15 minute walk from my childhood home, in which I still live. Granted, I rent the other side of the duplex now from my parents, and lived a few other places first, but I ended up back home.

Campground Road is a long straight road with a speed limit of 20 mph. Depending on the time of day, it's better to walk on one side or the other to stay in the shade. I often walk it barefoot, especially on the way home, but I don't recommend it to the uninitiated-soft-footed-people. I avoid wearing shoes as often as possible, even in the middle of winter, so I can walk across our shell driveway barefoot without an issue.

My mother would take my older brother and I down to that beach almost every day. At low tide, there are rows of sandbars, numbering 9 or 10. Between each bar is a warm safe strip of water, perfect for small children. The water is full of snails, crabs and little fish that kept us entertained for hours. We'd build castles in the sand and catch hermit crabs to populate it with. We're lucky for our olive skin tone or we'd have been red children, being out in the sun so much.

As I grew older, Campground beach became a kind of sanctuary for me. Whenever I was having a bad day, or in a bad mood, I'd walk or drive down and sit by the water on the rocks. I tried to teach a friend of mine to drive stick shift in the large parking lot (turned out to be hopeless, but at least he tried). I sat in my car with friends, lamenting about high school drama and life BS. I would spend hours at the beach, doing nothing but walking, or sitting and listening to the wind and waves.

Two years ago, I spent the late winter, spring and summer collecting piles of driftwood that my father used to build the arbor I was married under. He used the leftovers to make a beautiful fence to border the gardens at the house. Myself and most of my family gathered hundred of heart shaped and striped rocks to use as wedding favors. Many of the rocks came from Campground, and I still grab the heart shaped ones whenever they appear.

I love to go in the winter, on days when the wind rips along the shore. I can stand on the top of the piles of sand the town places at the edge of the parking lot to (hopefully) prevent erosion and damage. On the best days, the wind blows so hard I can lean forward close my eyes and pretend I'm flying. I am a grown woman, yes, but I still do this. I am reminded of the quote by Benjamin Franklin, "We do not stop playing because we grow old,we grow old because we stop playing." Campground beach reminds me of my childhood; it reminds me to let my imagination live fully, and to not be embarrassed to pretend I can fly.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Oddly Relieved

I finally had a day where I had nowhere to be, and nothing to do. I'd planned on going out on my father's boat to the beach for the day. I haven't had a chance all summer, what with work, people visiting, obligations, and trying to market Catching Bodel. So it would stand to reason that this morning, when I woke up to see full cloud cover and a cold breeze, I would have been devastated. I was however, relieved.

Living on Cape Cod, I feel an almost obligation to enjoy what makes the cape so attractive to tourists. I love the beach, truly I do. But I don't go in the summer very often. Largely, that's due to my summer work schedule, but I could still get there if I really tried. But I don't. Because the reality is that I don't like the beach in the summer because it's full of people. That might sound harsh, but it's just my reality. I'm an introvert, and the beach is my sanctuary. I like to go there to be alone, to walk and listen to the wind and the waves. I don't go to cling to a tiny little square of sand surrounded by shouting children, overly enthusiastic college kids trying too hard to have a good time, people who make very daring fashion decisions, and the countless others who populate the beach. Everyone is there to have a good time, and I'm all for that. My good time just doesn't include lots of people. So on a day like today, while the beach would have been nice, I was delighted that it was overcast and I had an excuse to just stay home.

Sometimes it's hard to take time for myself, because when push comes to shove, what I like to DO is, well, NOTHING. I don't like going out very much. I love movies, but don't want to be in a crowded theater. That's why I love the drive-in, because I am outside and get a lot of space to myself. I love the beach, but only when no one is on it. So I go in the winter, fall and spring. I like to walk in the woods (what little woods we have on this sandbar), but again, only when the paths aren't clogged with people. This is not an anti-tourist rant. The economy of the Cape depends on tourism, and people should come and enjoy themselves. I just choose not to join them. I'll stay home, read a book in my hammock in the back yard. I'll let the tortoise wander around the yard and follow him around aimlessly. I'll sunbathe on the private beach known as my back deck. I'll take my overcast days and hold them close, because they are my favorite. That probably makes me different, but I'm used to that.

Monday, July 27, 2015


Instead of a place on the Cape this week, I'm going to write about an event. Well, it happened in a place, a very special place in Harwich, where seven new affordable homes are being built by Habitat for Humanity. One of these homes will belong to a very dear friend of mine, and her two wonderful children.

I want to write this blog about Cape Cod, but not only the beauty here, but the realities underneath it. There is an entire generation of people born and raised here that are being forced to leave due to the outrageous cost of housing. Little ramshackle non-winterized cabins going for 300K, nevermind actual 3 bedroom homes for families. I'm lucky enough that my father owns a duplex and I can rent the other side. Most of my friends my age either live with family, or in government housing.

Everything is expensive here, and unfortunately, that expense also comes with the reality of very little industry. Year round jobs are not plentiful, forcing most people to work insane hours during three months of the year in order to barely scratch by through the winter.

So in this harsh reality overlying a beautiful place, it's wonderful to be a part of the Habitat program. To see these young families have a place to call home that they can actually afford. My friends kids are going to have a yard, with a fire pit, and a place for the dog to run that's infinitely better than the tiny balcony on her current apartment.

I stood by with my friends phone, recording her raising the first wall of her new home. I watched as her seven year old and three year old chased each other around the rough plywood floors, asking where their rooms would be. I put in a few volunteer hours after the first two walls were raised and the house was blessed. I loved that every nail I hammered in was building a home for my friend and her kids.

I stood beside her and pictured the house finished. The kitchen window overlooking the backyard, where the kids can play and the dog can run. It's all torn up dirt right now, with piles of lumber and other building supplies scattered around. But I can see what it will be. It's more than just the wood and nails and dirt and effort. It's the center of life. It's a place to come back to, to rest, a safe haven. Everyone deserves to have a home.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

White Cedar Swamp, Wellfleet

One of my favorite places to walk on the lower cape is the White Cedar Swamp in Wellfleet. One side of the parking lot leads to a beautiful view of the ocean. I usually head over that side to spend a moment looking at the water. One evening I caught the sunset at just the right time.
The other side of the parking lot has a trail leading down into the swamp. There are a bunch of fire roads back there as well. I haven't taken the time to really explore them. The main walk is a circle, and there is a boardwalk through the cedar swamp. It is a beautiful walk throughout the year, though when it snows badly, the park service closes it.

During the spring, the swamp still has little caches of ice and snow in the shadows that don't ever really see light. The moss turns green and the ferns and little vines start twining their way up the cedar trunks. It smells like wet ground and foliage, a thick, earthy smell that I've always found comforting. The boardwalk shifts and cracks the little bits of ice that hide under it's perpetual shade. There aren't any frogs yet, but every once and a while you catch the hint of a squirrel or chipmunk scuttling through the close knit trees.

I don't get to walk much in the summer because of my work schedule. And honestly, as an introvert, I prefer to walk alone. During the summer, the small woodsy paths are full of people. I hope they enjoy themselves, genuinely I do, but I prefer to spend my sparse free time enjoying the solitude of my backyard. Besides, due to the nature of swamps, summertime also means that there are mosquitoes everywhere. My husband and tried to go for a walk once, much later in the spring than we normally stop going, and the mosquitoes were so thick that we could barely see. It was like looking through a screen. Needless to say, we left quickly, running like crazy people, swinging our arms to try and keep from losing all of our blood.

Fall is a beautiful time to visit the cedar swamp. The masses of people are gone, leaving a few stragglers, but solitude is achievable. Cedars don't change much over the seasons, but the scattering of other plants loose their leaves and start to wither. The frogs are still out early enough in the fall. They hop and squeak at you as you pass, making little splashes. The sun plays through the trunks of the trees and dances on the water.

In the winter, the quiet is absolute. The only sound is the crunch of the snow under your boots, the swish of your coat. The spider web of water is frozen, a thin layer of glass. The moss is still green, though its a darker, more struggling color than the bright blazing spring and summer. The ice breaks as you walk along the boardwalk, creaking and crunching. The sun plays through the trees, reflecting off the snow and ice. It's the most beautiful in the winter. And I know how lucky I am that I am one of the few who is here to see it.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Welcome to Cape Cod

I've honestly been at a loss as far as this blog goes. I am a brutally honest person, which frequently gets me into trouble. I'm better at weaving a long story than writing snippets about things. What things to write about? Who will care? What can I write that won't incriminate/surprise/irritate/embarrass the people in my life? It's why I stick to fiction where I can cleverly hide my real life inside obscurity for the safety of the innocent.

That being said, I need to write something. Been struggling with this for a while, obviously, if anyone cares to take note of the lack of posting on this thing. Should I stick to funny little things? Should I talk about life on Cape Cod? The real life, not the fun fun times of a tourist? Can I write about that without being overly harsh on the visitors that, while necessary, make life extremely difficult and often unpleasant? I'll give it a try.

Welcome to Cape Cod. It is a beautiful place full of beaches and fish restaurants, a horrific overpopulation of seals that people thought were cute until they attracted droves of sharks, whale watches, charter boats, and tourist traps every few feet selling the same brightly colored beach chairs and bottles full of white sand that clearly did not come from Cape Cod. I'm particularly fond of one entrepreneur who sells empty capped bottled with Cape Cod Air written on them,

I was born on Cape Cod, but my parents moved here when they were children from Connecticut in the 70's.(Both my mother and father from CT, from different parts of the state on different years). There was a building boom around that time and Cape Cod was an affordable place to live, and my grandfather was a mason. My family has lived here long enough to be free of the term washashore, given to anyone who moves to the cape. They have become locals after living here for a few decades. It takes that long to belong here, and the true born Cape Codders, like myself, are a very strange bunch.

I spent part of my childhood living in and around Boston while my mother completed college, though I always felt like the Cape was my home. I was here on weekends with my father, and during holidays and vacation weeks. I also lived in central Mass for a few years, but moved permanently back to the Cape to live with my dad when I was 15. 15 years later, I am still here.

So while I have always considered Cape Cod my home, I have a different view of it than someone who never had the chance to live anywhere else. It's an interesting place where 9 months of the year its small towns, and 3 months its a crazy madhouse that puts cities to shame. Most people make the majority of their yearly income in those 3 months, and in reality, 2 seeing as June doesn't start hopping till the kids get out of school. The winters are long and there is very little work and pretty much everything is closed.

So each week I'll write a little something about what it's like to live on Cape Cod as a local. I'll share crazy stories about the things people say and do when they are on vacation. I've always said that they take your brain at the bridge as a toll. Don't worry, the names and places will be cleverly disguised to protect the innocent, as previously stated. If people enjoy reading it, that's wonderful. If nothing else, it's a chance to learn about a particular perspective on a place and way of life.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Writing with cats

It's hard to find time and space to write. I don't require much, really. Just a soft place to recline with my laptop, adequate lighting, and the ability to move my hands on the keyboard. I don't even need silence. I've learned to write with the TV on in the background. Still, I prefer music of my choosing or for certain scenes, quiet. But I also prefer to write in my living room, so I can't expect my husband to sit quietly while I monopolize the space. He tends to go to bed a lot earlier than I do, so I get my writing quiet time late at night. I write best at that time. I get too distracted during the day with things I should be doing.

So last night after he went to bed, I settled on the couch to work on my newest novel. It's actually not new, it's something I started a long time ago. It was a difficult decision to start working on it again. It will be the third book in the Catching Bodel series (seeing as Becoming Grace Divine, the second novel, is already written). What makes this one difficult is that I've chosen to write about some serious issues. I was in an abusive relationship when I was 19, and it changed my life. I'm happy to say that I've recovered from it, grown from it, and am stronger for it. But I've always wanted to try and make a difference for other people who are suffering from, or have suffered, abuse. So I set out to write a novel about Gray and her road to recovery.

I'm struggling with the novel, to be honest. I love the character. I love her strength and she has a great sense of humor. But it's difficult to write about the trauma she went through. It's not the same as what I did, I changed things for dramatic effect, but also to distance myself a little from it. I don't want to write my experience. That is not my intention. I wanted to create a woman who could be anyone, and show her transition from victim to survivor. But when it comes to writing the intense scenes, when the story gets too close to my old reality, writing it becomes almost painful.

Anyway, back to the the title of this post. I was struggling on the couch to write a particularly difficult scene, and my gray cat Sylvanas was stretched out on my legs as usual. She is not a particularly cuddly cat. She hates being picked up and tends to keep to herself, unlike my other two cats. But when Silly is in a certain mood, she chooses to show affection. Such as late at night when I write. Her spot is on my legs. She is a large cat, the biggest of my 3. She stretches out from ankle to thigh, to be sure Physgig and Echo can't join her.

This creates a problem, unfortunately. Because both Echo and Physgig LOVE to cuddle. They are constantly on top of me or my husband. So when Silly takes up that much space, and the laptop is on my lap, there isn't enough room for all 3 cats on me. Echo is a large fat black cat, and she NEEDS to sleep on your chest, as close to suffocating you as possible. Unfortunately, due to her size, I can't type while she's on me like that, so I have to tell her no. She looks devastated and sometimes manages to find a place to jam herself between me and the couch, under my arm, so that I can keep writing and snuggle her at the same time. But mostly I have to shove her away.

Physgig is a very small orange and white ball of fluff. She weighs in at a whopping 7 lbs and likes to curl into tiny little balls. She can sit on my chest and I can see over her and type perfectly around her. Echo is insanely jealous that Physgig gets to sit on me like that and she can't. Many wars have been fought in my house over who gets to sit on the best parts of Catmom. (I know, I'm one cat short of being a crazy cat lady.)

So last night while I was struggling to write the emotional scene, Physgig jumped up on my chest and curled up. But she didn't do her usual routine. Instead, she plopped down and tucked her head under my chin, something she does when she knows I'm upset. She lays on her side and leans back, pressing the back of her neck and the top of her head under my jaw. She keeps her head pressed back against me and purrs with this adorable look on her face. I gave her kisses and kept on writing, instantly feeling better. The words came more easily and before I knew it, it was 2 am and the scene was written.

So sometimes it's really frustrating to write with a cat draped over your arms, or stepping on your keyboard. But I wouldn't give my fur babies up for anything. They make me a better writer. Even if their tail whapping the keyboard adds a few extra letters.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Another snippet

I hope my last post didn't encourage the weather. I'm very tired of the snow at this point and look forward to it melting. Though it is beautiful, I drive a rear wheel drive little truck also known as a sled, and I've grown weary of white knuckle driving. But it seems like its warming up, so there's hope we'll actually see the ground before my book comes out in May. I didn't post anything last week, though I have been writing a lot so I hope that counts for something. Here is a short snippet (giving credit for the term to Joan from my writing group) from Catching Bodel...

                Mop loped over and stuck his head into my laundry basket. He pulled his head out and grinned at me, a lacy pink thong hanging out of his mouth.
                “Dammit, Mop. Drop it!” I ordered.
                Sensing a great game in the making, the lunatic dog bounced away from me. I gave chase. He was old, how fast could he really go? He ran in tight circles around me, panting happily and staying just out of reach.
                “I’m going to skin you and make you into a rug,” I yelled at his fluffy butt as he evaded my grasp. I lunged for him, lost my balance when I missed and slipped onto my ass. I produced a creative string of profanity that died suddenly when I noticed the pair of work boots that were planted about two inches from my bare feet. I looked up at the gigantic man who was standing over me. He was a wall of broad chest and thick arms wrapped in a T-shirt and worn jeans. I felt like an unlucky quarterback about to be clobbered by a runaway tackle.
                Mop had noticed the man standing there and bounced over. He barked his greeting, dropping my lacy pink thong onto the man’s boots.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Inspired by Current Events

I am not like anyone else, but you can't tell by looking at me. At a glance, I fall in with the crowd. Everyone around me seems exactly the same, and we're all judged the same despite how different we really are. I want to be seen as just me, but I have no idea how to get out of the group.

Sometimes I am loved. I'm told I'm beautiful and glorious. I manage to make children laugh and create wonderful games. But its's not always that way. The love vanishes with a few foggy breaths. I get walked on and thrown around. It's like no one cares until I am in their way.

I change the world around me and no one realizes how hard I work. It's not easy being me. I have to travel a lot and I don't get to stay in one place for long. Its a tough life but it's mine. I build things and sometimes I break things but it's usually an accident. I just want some attention, some recognition for all of the work I do to make the world beautiful and different.

I want to get out of this drift and be noticed for me. Maybe I'll catch a ride on the wind, or on an eyelash. Maybe if I get that close, you will really see me, and how unique I am. I guess its not so bad being a snowflake.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Day 1

I write every day. It wasn't until a few friends of mine stared in uncomprehending shock when I said as much that I realized it wasn't entirely normal. It has come to my attention that I spend very little time in the world most people know. I have gone beyond finding shapes in the clouds and layered thousands of other worlds over what's actually in front of me. I can't wait to finish my work for the day so I can sit down at my computer and escape into my mind.

Not that reality isn't great, mind you. I have a wonderful family, loving husband, three fur babies (cats) and an opinionated tortoise. I'm lucky that the people in my life are so accepting of my need to escape to my other worlds. My husband will bring me food when I've been binge writing for hours and don't realize I'm starving. My cats are less understanding, but as long as there is room on my legs for one or two, the third will find a way to wedge herself under my arm to join the writing party.

I am publishing my first novel, Catching Bodel, this coming May. I am incredibly nervous about it. I want to share my words with people. I want my readers to get lost in the story and laugh and cry and enjoy themselves. My words are very much a part of who I am, so sharing them with strangers is intimidating. It's also exciting, which is the emotion I am trying to concentrate on.

So here is a short piece from Catching Bodel, Hope you enjoy.

            It took some yelling and hand motions to get his attention. He pulled off the safety glasses.
            “The wicked witch of the west is on the phone for you,” I muttered.
            He grimaced. “My grandmother?” He ran a hand through his hair, dislodging some wood chips. “How did she get this number?”
            “I don’t know, but she’s mean. And holding.”
            Zach looked like he might swear. I followed him back upstairs and stood in the kitchen, shamelessly eavesdropping.
            He braced himself and picked up the phone. “Hello, Grandmother.” He pulled the phone away from his ear as yelling erupted from it. He glanced at me and shrugged, setting the phone on the counter and getting a Coke out of the fridge. After opening it and taking a long sip he picked the phone back up.
            “Glad you got that out of your system,” he said. “Why should we have told you? What does it matter? You hated him, what would you want with his house? It’s a nice place. James likes it here.” There was more yelling. “She was living with Walter before he died. No . . . No. . . No. Did you miss the fact that I am thirty-one years old?”
            The comment seemed to light a fire under the bitter old woman. Zach set the phone back down with a resigned sigh and leaned on the counter.
            “She sounds lovely,” I said.
            He rolled his eyes. “I never answer the phone when she calls.”
            The yelling on the other end of the phone quieted and I distinctly heard, “Zachary Ethan Cutter, did you walk away?”
            Zach snatched up the phone. “No, ma’am.”
            I couldn’t help it. I started to laugh. Zach clamped a hand over my mouth, shaking his head. He was so distracted by his grandmother he didn’t realize what he was doing. I wanted to run my tongue along his long calloused fingers. That would give his grandmother something to bitch about. I knew I shouldn’t do it, but he was so close. He smelled of sweat and sawdust, which had always turned me on. I gave in to impulse and licked my tongue along his fingers.
            He swore right into the phone. The dead silence on the other end was ominous.