Wednesday, July 20, 2016

beaching 101

Okay, there's the obvious.  Sunscreen. A good lunch. A hat. And a bathing suit you can wear and not feel the need to cover up.

Sunny skies. Light wind so it never feels really hot. And of course the beach, private preferred.

Few people in all directions. The only chance of that happening is on a weekday. Today is Wednesday, a weekday.

facing west
facing northeast
A good chair. Telescope, with a place for a drink, and a side pocket for a phone and camera. They last for decades. Mine is at least ten years old.

Under ten-dollar floats, preferably with a head rest, and the kind where your body stays above water (just in case the ocean's cold or the air cool).

A few beach towels. Even if one is almost 20 years old from a job you once had and got for free (the towel, that is; the job cost me a lot).

$15 reader sunglasses and, the absolute necessity: a waterproof Kindle cover for float-reading and windy days. (I wish somebody would invent a phone that could be read in bright sunlight: why can Amazon do it and not Apple?)

Water so clear you can see your toes.

Gentle waves and a low tide.  

And lots of friends and family.

Jean, mom and me; not pictured: M, Tobey and Jean's friend Roberta

Monday, July 18, 2016

fine dining

I don't spend enough time with M.

She lives in Boston and I live in NY. But we speak multiple times daily so I never really feel her absence. But seeing her is always better than not. And I haven't seen her since last November, and then only briefly.

She and Tobey (her husband) have rented a spectacular home for the second year in a row, only a five-minute drive from my mom's. She's here for the month. During the day, we hang out at Wild Harbor Beach. Floating, swimming, talking, eating, and of course reading on our Kindles. Right now we are both reading (and liking) Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. 

M and Tobey invite my mom and me to dinner and ask us to pick the place. "Somewhere nice," is the criterion we're given.  We chose the recently-opened Cape Grille.  Word on the beach has been positive. My mom knows no one who has gone there yet and has had a bad meal; this is unusual. Typically in deciding where to eat (other than Crabapples or The Chart Room) there is always someone who will never go there again after last time.

The restaurant is quiet and lovely and understated. No loud cheering Red Sox fans anywhere. The chef used to be at The Glass Onion, one of the Cape's nicest restaurants (I've never been). He is known to be adventurous in his culinary choices.

Before eating, everyone humors me and poses for some pictures.

The generous drink-sizes and excellent bread basket are good indicators of the food to follow.

The caprese salad (burrata and heirloom tomatoes) is outstanding. As is my 18 ounce coffee-crusted bone-in Delmonico with spiced bourbon reduction (half of which will be eaten tomorrow).

My mom's salmon, M's cod, and Tobey's filet are also excellent, and beautifully presented. This isn't your typical Cape fare.

The two desserts we split are more than enough for everyone. 

The great food is only surpassed by the great company.

If I stay on the Cape much longer, none of my clothes will fit when I get home.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

3 not so great things about the Cape

wild animals on the beach
I love the private beach here at Wild Harbor. The feel of sand on my feet. The salt water.  And the sound of waves crashing on the rocks.There are no sharks. No riptides. Nothing to be afraid of in the ocean.

But on the beach...

My mom tells me that a few days ago a guy was peacefully relaxing on his chair when he feels something licking his hand.  He opens his eyes and next to him is a fox.  A fox on the beach in the middle of the day? I hope the cougars are caged.

finding avocados  
We're making a salad. I love avocado in a salad. 

My mom has just returned from the grocery store about 15 minutes away and has forgotten to pick up avocados. While there are some destination places close by, the important ones (Downtown, Mashpee Commons and the Movie Theaters) are all 15 minutes away, in different directions.

Nearby are some restaurants, Deans (the king of all sandwich makers), a few small stores, a Post Office, a Library, a Bank, a bakery (that closes at 3), a Dunkin' Donuts, and a fish market. But trying to find a nearby place that sells avocados? Not so easy.

I try three different places before I finally find them at the Wild Harbor General Store.They're $1.99, same as I pay in NY. But half the size. The manager of the store is even apologetic. "That's how they've been coming in. I sell them at cost or I wouldn't be able to sell them at all." I buy two.

They look like the plums my mom just bought.

dark roads
Cape-living mostly happens before sunset. Once the sun goes down, the roads go dark. Maybe there's a government assumption that people hang out at home. There are few, if any, lights on most roads. The town quiets down. 

This is when I miss Manhattan. Although I'm not always out in it, I  feel the city's energy. And I'm comforted knowing it's always there.

Friday, July 15, 2016

dinnah at the chaaht room

If you like baked stuff lobster, there's only one place to go on the upper cape: The Chart Room. 

My mom calls a few days ago and gets a 5:30 reservation; the only other ones were for 8:30 or later.

I go with my mom and her friend Cindy, one of the nicest people in Wild Harbor, and there are lots of nice people here.

The views are always beautiful.

We sit on the porch, overlooking Red Brook Harbor.

We don't need menus.We know what we're having.

The chart room makes the best baked stuffed lobster. The claws are cracked and the meat from the claws is re-stuffed back into the lobster. It's amazingly good.And easy to eat.

As it turns out, 5:30 at The Chart Room is a good time to go.  Same great views but with no crowds. No long waits, even with a reservation. Fewer loud tables. Better service. And the same great food.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

owning the beach

Finding a place to sit on the beach is not difficult. Except for one other couple, my mom and I are the only ones on it. And, it's late. 1:30.

My mom keeps observing, "It's good that it's windy. Without the breeze it'd be really hot."

Around two, Jeannie arrives with Ellen and Jodi.

Except the breeze that is keeping us cool soon morphs into a major wind. Now we're all eating sand and its sticking to our skin and getting in our ears.

"I'm going back,"I announce around three.

"Oh stay, it's not that bad," says my sister.

And the company is great. So I do.

Sun is nowhere in sight and big cumulous clouds fill the sky.

Sand is blowing everywhere.

Our little group stays. Now we are the only ones on the beach.

"It's so nice with the beach empty," someone observes.  I'm with a positive-thinking group.

"I feel rain," I say.

"Oh, it's not raining," says my mom, ever the optimist.

My sunglasses (clearly not needed) are covered in droplets. "Well, it's raining over here," I say. 

We stay. Some drink. Some eat. We talk. We laugh. But the light rain continues and now everyone feels it.

So we all pack up.  We unbury our towels. Attempt to shake off the sand from our bags.  Fold up our chairs. And brush the sand from our skin.

But then someone sees a glimmer of sun, and the rain has stopped.

So the beach chairs are put down and set up again. And the towels are re-laid. 

I leave. 

About fifteen minutes later the others follow. The rain has returned.

Blowing sand. No sun. And sporadic showers. 

Still, it's a great day at the beach.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

a spontaneous dinner

My dad had a sister named Frances — or, as we used to call her, "Auntie Fanny." She married Sonny and had three kids: Ellen (who is my sister Jean's age), Jodi (who is 8 years younger than I am), and Jack, the youngest.

Growing up, our families were close. Geographically we lived only a few blocks from each other, as did our shared grandparents. So lots of holidays were celebrated together, along with birthdays, dinners, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and everything in-between.

Over the years, life happens and for a long time we didn't see each other. Jean and Ellen maintained their friendship, despite Ellen's move to Tucson. Jodi and I recently began playing WWF, and got together for lunch last year when she and her family were visiting NY.

Today, fate intervenes. After a day on the beach, Ellen invites us to dinner (she and her husband David also have a magnificent home here on the Cape, overlooking Jehu Pond).

Although it's impromptu, the beautiful spread looks like it's been planned for months.  Different varieties of cheese. Two kinds of dinner pies from the famed Centerville Pies. Jean's luscious Greek salad. Steamed broccoli. Kasha varnishkas. About ten different desserts from an Italian bakery. And a segmented fruit platter where none of the fruits touch each other (per the request of one unnamed adult).

The night is dominated by laughs and shared memories. Names of people I barely remember. Who got old and who stayed young. Who remained married and who divorced. Who still lives locally and who moved. Even who had an illegitimate child raised secretly by her mother at a time when raising a child alone was not socially acceptable. 

Jodi shares photos, including one of my aunt (with Sonny) in the days when "wiglets" were popular.

She also finds a photo of my aunt and mom, around 1965, hanging out in our kitchen.

Now here they are again near a kitchen.

It's probably been close to 40 years since we've all been together. I'm sure my dad is looking down and smiling, happy to see us all enjoying a magical Cape night.

my mom, frannie and sonny

first cousins: jean, ellen, jodi, me

the gracious hosts: ellen and david

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

3 great things about the cape

Wild Harbor Beach.

The chowder at Crabapples, however it's spelled.

And spending time with my mom.