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New Cape/Old Cape

This is and isn’t the cape I left back in the 70’s. The pace is much faster, while the characters and drama in local politics remain static. Kind of like a remake of an old Hollywood movie, not necessarily any better than the original. Same roles, different names and faces.

It’s interesting how the vision and culture seem to mirror the topography. Thankfully we are surrounded by ocean, sky, and horizon…the broad expanse helps balance the narrow land. Nature imposes a balance on our culture and community one way or another.

The dominant culture here changed dramatically while I was in Vermont. Or perhaps, I had changed? most likely, a little of both. The cape felt more conservative and stifled to me. Gone were the hippies and bohemians of the past, replaced with retirees and nouveau riche. Or so it appeared to me on the surface. According to Ana, I needed to create what I most needed to find here, and she was right. Something I’d done unconsciously in Vermont for years and had to learn to do here. And in discovering that I could do it here, remembering that I’d actually been doing this all my life. I was a military kid used to bases and the unique bonds forged with other military families. We were gypsies, vagabonds and I learned early what Darshan was about even though I didn’t have a name for it then.

I rarely drink coffee, I like my tea just so, and you’d better be an exceptional baker if you’re selling because if I can do it better at home…then I will. I am not your typical consumer. It’s an experience I’m seeking, more than a commodity. And imperfection? I love to tolerate it if you have the Darshan I seek.

The cafe, the garden, the work of art, the library, the bike path, the market or shop? That’s just the vehicle to get me to the experience. It’s the people or the trees, the color, or the thrill of the discovery I encounter when I arrive that matters to me.
It’s what Rumer Godden in “A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep” says is a Hindu belief that people will travel miles to see, touch, taste, sense, smell the presence or essence of a person, place or thing, with the belief that they will catch some of its spirit or soul to carry with them – this is what I seek in my journey. Darshan. Connection. The need to belong, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

When I walk to the Caribbean Market in my downtown neighborhood, I am not just going to buy the ginger tea that reminds me of a place in Amherst from my daughter’s college days. I am also going to hear the musical singsong of Patois speakers, to smell the sharp spices of Jamaican cooking, to pretend I’m in the South Carolina of my birth, to remember my own immigrant grandparents and how hard people work to make a new life for themselves, to create a new home. So, all this being said, I will share with you some of my favorite places on Cape Cod where I experience Darshan. This may include places that aren’t perfect but they always have good people, vision, and the feeling that that place is loved.

This is and isn’t about a place called Cape Cod, how it’s changing, how I’m changing…it’s about home…the home we make for ourselves wherever we are, because it’s about us and the people. It’s my guide to recognizing that home is right where I am.

The Cottage on the Beach

“D” for Dinky. We landed in East Sandwich off Ploughed Neck Road in a wee cottage with a big “D” on it for identification. “D” for dinky we said. How were we, a family of six to fit into such a tiny shack at the edge of the ocean? For a whole week!
Well, we did and we ate taffy, ran in and out of ice cold ocean water (it was June), and we bought sweatshirts at King’s Department Store in Hyannis to combat the gray chill damp drizzle that foreshadowed the weather to come that entire summer and fall.

We went into Hyannis to “People Watch,” a favorite past time, checking out the hippies and the obvious tourists (it’s always the men and their socks that makes them easy to spot).
We went to the Doll and Glass museums in Sandwich Village.

Next thing I knew, my parents had bought a house in Hyannis from Joe Coughlin, and we weren’t going “home” to Virginia.

Sandwich, as in a Place, Not on a Plate

Sandwich was where my Cape Cod life began. Easter 1967, my dad took me for a walk and told me he would be going to Vietnam. He explained Vietnam to me; I asked him why the people who make the wars don’t fight them (some things don’t change). It was his job he said. Pretty much the end of the discussion, other than my fear “will you be killed?” He would be leaving in July. In the meantime, he would have some time with the family. Later that spring he told me we were going on vacation. He was very excited and told me to guess where as he gave me a hint, “Cape…” “Canaveral!” I cried. No, not quite. Cape Cod. Never heard of it. “Where the heck is that?” I asked. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. We took plenty of trips to Massachusetts to visit my Irish family, so Massachusetts wasn’t such a big whoop for a vacation to me, even if it wasn’t at my gran’s.

House

Marty and I sit here in our house every day and express our thanks to each other (and to my father who helped make it happen), we love this little house so. As did Leona, her previous owner who dreamed of returning here for more than a decade, finally succumbing at the age of 96 to selling it to me. I’d written to Leona almost 15 years ago, back when I was still raising my kids and longing for a house that could be our home again — a place to grow roots, yet not become root bound. And here it is. At the epicenter of the transportation center of Cape Cod that is Hyannis, where planes buzz overhead, cars rumble in the distance, the trains screech into the station (along with the buses), and the ferry horn sounds for the last boat to the islands every evening. Bliss.

Rabbit Redux

Ground Hog Day. Imbolc. Candlemas. An appropriate day to peek out from my slumber here. Not sure if I’ll resurrect this blog or not — I’ve been writing  at our other blog, but I do miss having a place that’s just for me. Toying with the idea of creating a new one. But for now, this is it.

Strained my shoulder at work a couple of weeks ago, and after the initial grumpiness have settled in to enjoying my time creatively — lots of dabbling — in the kitchen, my studio, outdoors, in books. Kinda trying to get a rhythm going, something akin to the seasons and the natural world. I have an old book I picked up who knows where by Jean Hersey called The Shape of a Year, and I am following along with that each month. Also, checked out Edith Holden’s The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, 1906: a facsimile reproduction of a naturalist’s diary to peruse.

I tend to love out-of-print books — was reading Rumer Godden’s memoirs and such a couple of winters ago. Trying to limit my computer use again because it does end up sucking up time and then I berate myself for not being more productive (e.g., creative).

So, this time of year I’m allowing myself to go within, contemplate, consider, shed some stuff and reclaim some of my dormant goddess energy. Books and the kitchen really seem to be my thing lately. And spirituality, in particular my native or Celtic spirituality which parallels so many others — in symbols, herbs, animism, drumming and so on. Kind of cool when I make all the connections. Connecting. that’s what it’s all about for me.

** tree from one of my Glandore wanders — a sacred symbol in Celtic traditions

as i read up on imbolc in my druid’s herbal before moving on to barbara walker’s encyclopedia of women’s myths and secrets…i am enjoying revisiting the goddess and my celtic spirituality recently — i’ve been ignoring it for quite a few years…trying to pay attention to the rhythm of the seasons and the natural world…i love how my native celtic religion shares so much of the native religions of others…if religion is the word…got the candles lit and hoping to put together a bouquet of tansy, iris, violets, bay laurel, heather and basil (if i can find any — otherwise just some heather and basil will have to do)…if i were in ireland i would be picking rushes to make a st brigid’s cross — figuring out what i can use here…

Success

I didn’t miss my kids’ childhoods. I don’t regret my choice to raise them myself and be available to them. But it’s got me pondering the definition of success. I did turn down a career offer when my son was three. Entry level position with this agency with opportunity for growth. My kid’s growth was just more interesting to me at the time.

I worked through my pregnancy with him and Jason (his dad) collected unemployment. When the unemployment ran out, J got a job driving the shuttle van for the hospital which he complained about constantly. That and a bit more got him fired. And I don’t think he could continue collecting unemployment.  I was offered a full-time job washing dishes at the time (only female of about 100 or so male applicants — unemployment was high during that part of the Reagan era), but I was nursing my baby and I really did not want to be away from him.

Since we had a child, we qualified for welfare so that was the route we took. Jason would grumble and carry on regularly because of the job contacts and whatever else he used to have to do to stay in the program. I considered another job when A. was a year old — retail — but still I just could not leave my boy. By the time he was two though, with Jason not really looking for work and me feeling we can’t live this way forever, I took a job in a dry cleaners pressing shirts. (I pressed some of the most famous shirts in the city of Burlington I might add). But every morning  at 6:55am when I walked around the corner to work, I used to hate leaving my little boy standing on a stool at the front door, looking out the window at me as we waved bye-bye until we could no longer see each other. There were pluses to the job — walking to work, finishing at 2pm every day, having my lunch break at home, weekends off, a decent wage, boss and co-workers. I stayed for 5 months before I accepted a position with the Girl Scout Council. That felt like more than a job. 8 to 4, Monday through Friday and no going home for lunch. It was a grind. I took the bus to work because we only had one car, Jason wouldn’t let me drive it, and he wanted to sleep in. So I would leave in the morning, with my boy crying in the window when I left, because this was a different kind of work that took me further away, and for longer. He and his dad would pick me up at 4pm though and it was always a joy to look out the picture window from my office and see them waiting in the Dart for me. Sometimes, they’d come in. Anthony impressed everyone, he was so sweet and so “articulate” for such a wee guy.  J. would tell me what they did that day, who they hung out with, sometimes they went fishing or just hanging.

I’d try to tell myself how progressive we were with the role reversal. Househusband (who left the housework for the wife). Stay-at-home dad who took his boy fishing sometimes and bought him “jolly” doughnuts from the Freihoffer’s outlet. (Anthony loved jelly doughnuts and he also loved Cheez-lits, as he used to call them).

J.  loved smoking weed, and don’t ask me why, I didn’t get an “allowance” for working, but J. did for “babysitting.” We always called it “the allowance” and it was a huge bone of contention with us. I tried to feel “modern” but career woman just wasn’t my thing. Neither was the allowance.

Some mornings I would feel so trapped going off to this daily grind, missing my son terribly, heart breaking every morning as he cried in the window. Sometimes, when it was just Joyce and me in the office before anyone else arrived I would cry. She was so good. She was 63 at the time and we both started working around the same time. She was going through a divorce so was back to work. She’d had two children, but her daughter died in a single car crash at the age of 19. As Joyce put it (and I’ve always loved this expression relating to loss), she “healed well.” She loved her pb & j sandwiches. Every day for lunch. And nature and Twin Hills, the girl scout camp she took the boys and me to once. She soothed my sorrow after I returned from a trip burying my best friend, she soothed my sadness over my marriage and leaving my son every day.

After about a year and a half of this, I’d finally told Jason I was sick of it, I wanted him to get a job, I wanted to be home with our son. I’d been after him to get into UVM, and sure enough he did; he got a printing job that he enjoyed — good pay, benefits and hours. And I could finally stay home with the boy. But I’d also been applying for jobs in case J. didn’t get one — jobs with more opportunity. So when J. accepted his UVM job, I’d also been offered the job with what was then called Resolution. It was basically an upstart PR agency and I knew what I was turning down when I turned it down. Because I was already successful. I got to stay home and grow with my child.

You Can’t Go Home Again


Isn’t that the name of a book? I think so, one I read back in my college years. It’s true you know. You can’t go home again. It stays the same and yet it’s never the same.

The Giving Tree

I don’t know if it’s the positivity (is that even a word? Do I care?) of Mondo Beyondo, full on Indian Summer here, connections with friends or what, but I am charged lately. Meaning the crash will come but for now I’m riding the big Kahuna and enjoying it.

I had stopped at the Giving Tree gardens last week before heading home and my cell rang…it was my chum (I like that retro sorta Nancy Drew/Dana Girls word, don’t you? chums are our adventure friends), Sophie. She’s back from California for a couple of months after two years away…we play hit or miss with contacting each other, when something reminds one of us of the other, we give a shout out. Sometimes we connect with a real voice, sometimes we just connect.
I was so surprised that she’d called me…delighted and flattered actually because she’d only been home a day, but she saw Marty out on errands, he reminded her of me, so she called. The call was also very mondo beyondo for me.

Sophie’s one of the bright spots in the Cape Cod world, she gets how small and stifling the cape can be for wild dreamers (Provincetown being an exception, thankfully). More and more I’ve been paying attention to my call to performance art. Art in time or art in space as Nerissa blogs about (couldn’t find the particular post). Maybe create a poetic mystic druid I inhabit for solo productions at festivals, or heck, just busking. Kathryn Rose introduced me to this concept when she performed on the street in Amherst a spring ago. I started researching and started seeing more about one woman performances like The Belle of Amherst.

Sophie’s been in theater now for several years and is an accomplished stage actress (as well as in a Sam Diego’s commercial locally); her call felt like the universe is listening to my whispers. Perhaps she’s my teacher, I don’t know. I feel like the bird in that Dr. Seuss story…”are you my mother? Are you my mother?” only it’s “are you my teacher, are you my teacher?” And I’m still not sure if performance is my thing, or what form it will take if it becomes so. But who cares? It’s kinda fun finding out — like the Nancy Drew mysteries I used to read.

Red Katherine Rose photo from her myspace page

Motherhood

Ad I Saw:

Mother’s Helper:Female: Private Living Space in my home with Cable and WiFi. $120.00 per week OR free in exchange for helping with my family (for 12 hours)… Driving, light cooking, babysitting (supervising) my two children ages 11 and 15. Must have car. Can work more hours then agreed upon for hourly wage. I can work my schedule around your “real” job. I am looking for a responsible but fun, family-oriented role model for my kids who are at a very formidable age. Sorry, no partying in my house. Please plan to socialize elsewhere.

My response:

Hello there,

I am very interested in your position for a mother’s helper for your 11 and 15 year old. My son is now 25, on his own and a musician. My daughter is almost 20, very responsible and returning to UMass for her junior year in September.

Years ago I was looking for the very same person you are looking for now — another me — I was raising my children on my own and recognized that those in-between ages are much more challenging than the early childhood stages. There were a couple of occasions that we got a taste of what it would be like to be in a household with other loving caregivers — it was a joy. I truly believe that it does take a village to raise a child and it was difficult trying to create the scenario then, but it was something I always dreamed of. I would love to be that person I needed then for someone else now.

Sincerely,

Patricia A. Hurley

Attached is my resume. Please let me know if you don’t receive it. Thank you so much.

Her response:

Patricia,
Wow! Your letter made me cry! It was beautiful! I would love to meet you. I am sorry to say that I am running out the door to pick up my daughter from gymnastics, so I can not respond as I would like to. It appears to me that you are looking for a mother’s helper position and not a place to live… Could you just clarify that? I will give you a call if you would like either tonight after 8 or tomorrow.
Looking forward to talking with you!
Nelly
P.S. Do I have your phone number?

Some things just make you feel good, you know?

Channeling


Maundy Thursday. Holy Thursday. The Last Supper. I felt like I was channeling Evelyn as I baked biscotti dolci for the Easter holiday. Little round almond flavored cookies with a confectioner’s glaze and colored sprinkles. I remembered her in our little LaFountain Street kitchen making them so many years ago when Anthony was a little guy. Before Molly was even born. I think it’s how we hold people we’ve loved in our hearts – through our memories and sometimes our actions. So many of the memories are triggered by food. Our first nourishment, almost before the love comes, there’s the sharing of food that is so sacred. Mother and child. We are blessed when we have someone to share a meal with, whether it’s our first or our last, or somewhere in between.

** above images of homes across the street from our wee house from this site:
http://www.uvm.edu/~hp206/2002-1869/svukovic/Burl1869s9/