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WoodNeck Beach 1/2013



It was a day at WoodNeck Beach almost thirty years ago that caused us to buy our home here. The beach has a great children’s area with a creek that feeds into a lush marsh. Our girls grew up learning about horseshoe and hermit crabs first hand. The rest of the shore is rocky enough to keep throngs of tourists away, and sandy enough to go swimming and bask in the sun. It has always been a place that I’m drawn to… all seasons, all weather, all the time.

Last week we took some photos that capture WoodNeck’s essence on a January day. It never disappoints me. Click on the photos to zoom in.


Little Sippewissett Marsh

Just a splash of red...

Just a splash of red…



Tide lines and footprints


Underwater discoveries


Centered and rejuvenated…again.

Swamp Magic

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Click and then double click on photos to follow the path.

When is a walk in the woods more like an adventure down a rabbit hole? Or maybe even more like Narnia or Where the Wild Things Are? That’s what the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail offers me every single time I go there.

Extends to the end of the earth…

It’s a mile long escape along a simple walkway just slightly raised above a piece of conservation land along the sea in Wellfleet and adjoins the Marconi Station where the first transatlantic message was sent in 1903.  This trail is magic and one of my favorite places in the universe.

Where the wild things are…

The white cedar is the star, but no by means the only site to be seen. The cedars seem to shoot out of the earth and stretch to the sky, with vegetation twisted and gnarled at their feet. It is all very alive.

The bark texture is a work of art unto itself; a close up makes one wonder what’s in view. The light produces enchanting effects and is altered at every turn.

Animal, mineral or vegetable?

The ground cover is lush and varied. There’s always something new to observe.

Quiet and unassuming

Mother Nature doesn’t disappoint her audience.

Fern beds

A few wild asters

One is overwhelmed and at peace, simultaneously, in this place. It’s strangely wonderful.

Layers and layers of good stuff from the dirt to the sky

It’s like a trip to another world—all green and earthy—and at the end you have a majestic view of the National Seashore: the Atlantic Ocean in her full glory.

End of the trail, beginning of the sea

Hope to go back this weekend with the kids. It’s something to be shared.

Best for Last

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Happy Feet

The last week of August at the beach is the ripest, juiciest of all. Maybe that’s because the end of the long hot days is near, and the nip is already in the night air. Today Woodneck Beach was absolutely perfect, more perfect than usual.

My Favorite Place on Earth

At five o’clock there were still a few families lingering and languishing in what was left of the day and the season. The sun did its sparkling twinkles on the water, and the waves tickled toes.

Stone Puzzle

The rocks always catch my eye. I love the mosaic they make when they’re flat on the beach. Every once in a while someone creates a sculpture—we all walk around it and don’t disturb the art. Of course, I filled a small cloth bag with shells, rocks and assorted treasures to scatter across the walkway to the house. Sea glass on a path to the front door is a welcomed surprise all year long.

Built It

Tomorrow we’ll head to the beach earlier, sit in our chairs, books in hand, camera in beach bag, maybe a few snacks and we’ll soak up the last of summer and look forward to fall.

We Do Tunes…

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We don’t pick out silver patterns together or make a ritual of attending fashion shows or church services. The parent/daughter bonds in my family don’t have to do with jewelry, sports, or religious events. We do tunes.

Yes, that’s right, three generations connect through music. And we’re all amateurs who usually mangle the original lyrics.

When I was young in the ‘50’s, my Dad sang while we did the dishes nightly. He washed; I dried. At the time, I didn’t think about it, just sang along with “Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga choo choo?” and “Feuuuuuuuuudili-yaka-saki want some seafoooooood Maaaaamama.” The words didn’t make much sense, but sense didn’t have much to do with the ritual. We sang until the dishes were back in the cupboards and it was time to finish my homework. This was just something we did together every night without thinking about it. We sang.

In the morning, Dad bellowed “opera” while he shaved. He sang in Italian, and I mimicked the words. For years I sang “his “opera before hearing the Three Tenors sing on PBS. They sang different words. I immediately called Dad to find out if they were singing in a different dialect; he confessed that he made up his words and wondered what the real ones sounded like. I still like his best and continue to sing them, even though I’m probably saying something like “I fell in love with your armchair and the boats fly south.”

It’s no surprise that my husband and I sang unconventional lullabies to the girls when they were babies. “Rocky Raccoon” and “Sweet Baby James” ruled the house. They were well worn and part of our history. David and I met when the first James Taylor album was released. When he went out of his way to deliver a copy of the printed lyrics to my college mailbox, I knew it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship! More than forty years later, we hum those same songs together.

Frank Sinatra was also in our repertoire. His music was usually reserved for long car rides. “Lady is a Tramp”, I’ll Never Smile Again”, “I get a Kick Out of You” are just a few favorites. We knew most of the words, and mumbled the ones we weren’t sure of. Years later these same songs were on the playlist when my husband and two young daughters drove to the Cape every weekend. There was never a debate about which tape went into the deck when the car was packed. It was a ritual. Today we scramble to find a tape player for the girls to hear the “old Sinatra” tape—the one David recorded when Ron Della Chiesa broadcasted on Sinatra’s 70th birthday. They want to download it to their iPods.

As the girls became teenagers, I wondered if we’d continue to share tunes. For a while, when Christine Aguliera and In Synch were in vogue, I doubted it. Then our older daughter wanted to attend her first Pearl Jam concert. My going was not my choice; I lost a coin toss with David and as overprotective parents, we were not sending our first born to a huge venue with unknown drivers to meet her demise. Tsk Tsk…I had not heard Pearl Jam’s music, but had lots of preconceptions about what this experience would be like. Ignorance is bliss. I was all wrong.

My initiation to the world of Pearl Jam and live rock concerts was baptism by fire. At the then called “Tweeter Center”, uniformed staffers were everywhere. They checked out tickets six times before we were seated: P1 and P2 up front, to the right—right next to the speakers. The staffer next to my seat, a 40 something man, sported neon green earplugs. The monster sized speakers were literally inches away from us. So was the stage. My earrings shook from the vibration, so did everything else.

Pearl Jam played loudly. I truly couldn’t understand the words, but it didn’t matter. I liked the beat, the rhythm, the sound, and I remained interested–that was far more than what happened at PTA meetings. The sound of Eddie Vedder resonated throughout the night. It pulled me in. Bodies bounced and swayed and twitched. Arms were overhead. We were all captivated, even this 50 plus year old chubby outsider was mouthing the words she learned during the last 30 seconds.

A young man seated in front of my daughter asked if she’d like to sit on his shoulders. She politely declined—good choice or bad? What would she have done if I weren’t there? What would I have done if he asked me?

Several years have passed since that concert. We have gone to several others together. I am truly addicted to Vedder and his band. It’s a gift my daughter Kate has given to me. My then 14 year old, Molly, introduced me to the captivating wordsmithing and staccato rhythm of Regina Spektor’s song, “Consequence of Sounds”. Later she brought me to Elliott Smith’s music—something I never would have stumbled upon.

There is a primal lyrical soup that binds our three generations. Nonsense songs from the thirties link to Sinatra’s love songs to the Beatles’ and James Taylor’s ballads to Pearl Jam’s head banging, thought provoking music to Spektor’s and Smith’s magical merger of words and rhythm. Both girls continue to update my playlist with new goodies. It’s never ending and I love it.

When I visited my eighty-some year old dad who was silenced due to Alzheimer’s, we sang. His conversational word bank had been diminished to ten lonely words. However, when we sang, many more words were revived, and he could sing the words he said more than fifty years ago, quite happily and fluently. The ritual of music made it happen.

Knob Heaven

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One spot close to us in many ways is The Knob, in Quisset. It’s a five minute drive to a half hour meandering walk through forest and seacoast paths.  It’s quiet and peaceful, yet adventurous and exhilarating.

My Imaginary Rabbit Hole

What I love best are the unexpected surprises that pop up every few minutes: a bird singing, a bunch of Queen Ann’s lace and beach plums swinging in the breeze, the huge, strong rocks with jagged as well as worn down edges that trim the water’s edge. Trees and vines grow like lattice work, making a covered walkway with blue sky peaking through. There’s always something to catch the eye and inspire.

No Rock Jumping, this time.

We’ve been taking this “walk by the woods by the sea” for more than 25 years. Today we remembered the tree swing that both girls loved so much—it has been taken down and Mother Nature has taken over with vines and tall grass—beautiful, but you can’t swing on them. David mentioned how he often carried Molly on his shoulders when she was small; she had the best view of all. I remember my Dad taking this walk, loving it, even when he no longer remembered where he was going. And once we packed a lunch and spent the day at the beach, noticing lots of unusual sea glass that was just waiting for us on this often unvisited beach.

The Knob

Treasures, lots of treasures, are here. The end of this deliciously long, windy path is  “The Knob”. It’s a rocky protrusion into the bay, covered with flat stones and provides a 360 degree view of beauty. Today Buzzard’s Bay is dotted with boats, and the sky has absolutely perfectly shaped white, puffy clouds. The sea breezes are always a tad stronger up there, and the bay is a bit bluer. At the edge I sense the power and strength of what nature has wrought. I feel iddy bitty and such a small part of a big whole—and it feels good.

Knob View

Today’s visit is part of David’s birthday weekend celebrations. The Knob is his kind of place and our kind of celebration.  We’ll be back soon with a picnic dinner and a good bottle of wine to watch the sunset.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

He who does not like to be photographed…

Happy Birthday, Schotzi!!!

Square Peg, Square Hole

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I had gotten used to being a square peg in a round hole. In college, I was in the first class of Boston College to admit women (we had urinals in the bathrooms). In my career, I survived and thrived in the male dominated commercial real estate business. At home, I was a normal, down to earth person who lived in a hoity-toity, uppity, full of attitude and entitlement suburb (tolerated because of good schools and solid property values.)

My difference became the norm for me. Now, for the first time in a very long time, I’m living somewhere permanently where I feel like I fit: Falmouth. It is an absolutely delightful, refreshing, happy feeling.

This morning I spent time reading, doing some writing, and a bit of knitting. Then we headed to downtown Falmouth to enjoy not one, but two festivals in downtown Falmouth. My Facebook status reported:

Off to the Strawberry Festival and Arts Alive Celebration in downtown Falmouth… Yes!!!! I will scope out all the fiber creations, and David will eat alllllllll of the fried dough and sausage sandwiches. Life is good:)

At 10 am, the streets are “just full enough” of people with kids and dogs in tow. The shops are open and each has a garden set in the sidewalk that is in full bloom. Nobody has a cell phone attached to his/her ear, and nobody pushes or bumps into us. People smile and say hello. They make conversation. I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.

The first stop is the Strawberry Festival at St. Barnabas. I confess, I ate the most delicious serving of strawberry shortcake, complete with extra whipped cream at 10 am this morning. Well—it does contain fresh fruit, dairy and wheat! David, on the other hand, starts off the morning with a hot dog followed by his even larger portion of shortcake. People ask how we like it, comment on the gorgeous red color against the white cream, and ask where to get some of their own.

Young couples with little ones in buggies or held by hand mingled with the gray hair set. I play with one baby while her mom sells tickets; while chatting I learn that the baby was a preemie and is thriving. I just finished knitting hats for the preemies at Falmouth Hospital, and the mom told me how she will forever remember the little preemie hat that her baby wore when she was first born and in the NIU.

Teens make the rounds in their own broods, but actually make eye contact with the rest of the world and say hello. It is a melting pot filled with pleasant people, great food and all kinds of stuff for sale. A book table is full to the brim with recent publications donated by townspeople and sell for a dollar or two; customers are two layers deep and everyone is gabbing (not grabbing!) about what book they particularly enjoy. An antique linen table is filled with, you guessed it, your grandmother’s linen closet goodies; handmade lace, lots of embroidery and exquisite cut work are on display. Folks chat about how they once had a tablecloth like that… and who spilled the wine on it.

We stroll through the tent with all kinds of recycled treasures and promise to return for a lobster roll on the way back to the car. Onwards a few blocks to the Arts Alive celebration in front of the library. Here we find live music, more yummy food, and a vast assortment of creative artwork.

Falmouth Art Center Creative Gang

The folks who man the Falmouth Art Center booth have a loom set up and invite all to take part in Free Form Weaving. A basket of fiber is nearby and someone else is spinning while a third person is knitting a gorgeous shawl. They talk about what they were making AND ask what sort of fiber work I do. We swap information about types of yarn and patterns… and I learn that this is an organization I really want to belong to asap.

The Barn Pottery, Pocasset, MA

There is a potter, complete with her wheel, working on a beautiful bowl. The expression on her face proves that she loves her work. A spinner has her wheel in full swing and her artsy hand spun yarn with thick and thin bobbles is so lovely that it could be worn as a necklace. Another woman is knitting mittens with yarn she dyed using natural products; the colors are rich and unique. I want them!

We find the photographer who took our family photos years ago. As we are telling her how she so wonderfully captured us on the beach, another couple pipes up that she also took her wedding photographs fifteen years ago. She, too, captured their essence.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Today I found a lot of creativity, nice people, a real sense of community, and a place I’m happy to call home.


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Half Hexagon- partial piece

There’s something exciting about putting small things together to make something grander. I’ve been doing that as a quilter for thirty years. Buy yards of gorgeous fabric, cut it into little pieces, then sew the tiny pieces together to make a work of art that happens to keep you warm or look interesting on the wall.

I’ve made traditional quilts and art quilts—and the process is always surprising. I often think I know what I want the end product to look like, but it’s not predetermined and something is always left to my imagination’s spin cycle. Once I thought I wanted to make a traditional blue and white string quilt; half way through it, a piece of yellow fabric happened to fall on the floor where I was laying out the quilt. The yellow was an absolutely glorious addition; it made the blues bluer and the whites crisper. It pops, and I smile every time I crawl under it. It has had its place of honor in the master bedroom for years.

Blue and White PLUS Yellow

There was also a piece of kimono fabric that was so precious I couldn’t bear to cut it up. One brave day, who knows why, but I closed my eyes, yielded my rotary cutter, and slashed that fabric into really unusual curvy pieces. I did the same with some additional fabric and merged it all into one swirling, soothing water scene. Before then I had never sewn curves before. Who knew?!

Curves- Kimono Fabric Quilt- partial view

 My art quilts are most often created by pulling odds and ends out of my scrap pile. Out of “nothing” comes something… that’s what’s so exciting for me. The juxtaposition of one fabric against another creates a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Before I know it, I’ve constructed a cloth door that opens into some kind of magical world. It makes my heart leap up—every single time.

Small Scrap Art Quilt

I notice that I do something similar when I’m playing with a poem or piece of writing.  Several seemingly random thoughts bounce off of each other. They set off sparks and ignite more ideas, and it grows into something bigger and hopefully something that makes me think beyond the obvious. When reading other authors’ writing, I look at the small details: word choice, punctuation, sentence structure, voice. How does each contribute or fail to contribute in sending a message or creating a work of art.

I don’t “sweat the small stuff”, but I do enjoy it. It takes me to far away places with grand views that I would have otherwise missed.

WIPS: Works in Progress or Works Involving Procrastination?

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Here is a very incomplete list of my current WIPS:

  1. We’re selling the main house and attempting to get rid of everything we don’t want to move to the Cape. Joy, joy, joy… noticing how much I have amassed over the years.
  2. Goodwill, Big Brother/Big Sister, Father Bill’s/Mainspring, Cape Housing and a host of others are coming to the Cape house to pick up more stuff we no longer need. Is there a message here? Anyone need an upright piano?
  3. I’m finishing a quilt I started more than fifteen years ago. It was in my UFO (unfinished objects) box. About twenty more await my attention. I’m not kidding.
  4. Finally got rid of wine glasses that hold less than an ounce of wine… we got them as engagement presents 42 years ago and have moved them three times. Never used them once.
  5.  Mama and Papa bird started building a new nest from scratch, in the original location, in preparation for a second  brood. These little creatures (with bird brains, right?) finished the new nest in three days and completely recycled the old one. No muss, no fuss, no movers, no tears, all done. I am thoroughly enjoying them while feeling completely inadequate with my own progress.

When Asked, Don’t Tell

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I have many memories from Catholic elementary school, some good and more than a few bad ones. In fourth grade Sister Del Rey taught the class that only people who were baptized Catholics would earn the right to get into heaven. No non-Catholics would pass through the pearly gates; they would have to wait in Limbo, with the others and stay “on hold” for an indefinite amount of time, maybe forever. I remember raising my hand and asking if there ever were any exceptions to this rule; she firmly answered, “NO, never”. We were also told not to tell our parents about this. Hmmmm…

This posed a problem for me because my dad was baptized Episcopalian and converted to Catholicism when he was in his twenties. He was an active church member, played Santa every Christmas, and was a pillar of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. According to the Sister’s understanding of “the rules”, my mom, sister and I would be in heaven, but my dad wouldn’t be admitted. By the way, fat chance that my mom and sister would make it there—but that’s another blog entry… Excluding my dad bothered me to no end. He was a foster child and had a really tough childhood. He was alone a lot of the time and made the best of it. The thought of him being alone again while the rest of us were with good-ole God upset me. I remember the anger and tears as if it were yesterday.

When I got home, every time I looked at him, I cried. He sat me down and asked me what was wrong. I told him the whole story, despite Sister’s “When Asked, Don’t Tell” policy. His reaction is one of the many reasons why I loved him so much. He looked me right in the eye and said: “Oh, don’t worry about that. I took care of it. I had a long conversation with God, and we made a deal. As long as I am a good dad, he will let me into heaven. No problems”. I was so relieved. He certainly would hold up his end of the bargain. Then he added, “God also said not to tell Sister Del Rey.”

Ants Make Me Say “Uncle”

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This past week has brought two encounters with the species that is going to take over the world, according to my old high school biology teacher. The ants have arrived a bit early, I’m told, because of the warm weather. They’re in their glory in one small section of my basement and perhaps under some shingles on the east side of the house.

When I was a kid, the ants arrived in my mother’s living room one season. I got yelled at because I was apparently to blame. “Apparently” I ate sugared gummy candies and left some sweet stuff behind for the insects. I’m not admitting to anything… but the cure, back then, was rather simple. My mother made me spray Raid until I choked. That killed everything, she said. Hmmmm…I said gagging.

Today, however, we have spoken to four specialists at a “pest control” company. Actually, I wanted the company that had the big cockroach on its van to show up in Swellesley, but my husband nixed that idea. I don’t want to offend PITA or Green People, but I want these ants dead, and I’d like to not choke in the process.

So on Monday, the games will begin: Pest Controllers VS Ants. Who are you rooting for?