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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Mooney

Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 27

I'm not sure how I feel about May. I love the anticipation of summer, but feel completely put out by the stress that accompanies getting ready for the season -- turning the entire house over (hats and boots away, towels and sunscreen out), cleaning up the yard, planting all the plants, battling the bipolar weather, and the chaotic frenzy of everything opening at the same time! But here we are, post-Memorial Day and the whole summer ahead of us! *******************

An important announcement: I decided to end my relationship with Amazon. You will no longer find any new affiliate links in my posts. Amazon hurts our local businesses and, having lost one recently that has impacted our lives, I decided I'm not going to be an active participant in the destruction. I'm trying very hard to buy local or independent. I also think Jeff Bezos could chose to use his powers for good like MacKenzie, his ex-wife -- climate change is more important than whatever the hell he is planning do on the moon. With that, onward we go ...


  • Reading list.  "A Packing List for the End of the World." A clever little essay. "That’s something you don’t see on The Walking Dead—herniated discs." // Tending the Marsh. A lovely slim book of poems by local cookbook author, Linda Maria Steele, which she wrote during a year of walks around Great Sippewissett Marsh.

  • Viewing list. Dead to Me. The gut punches in this super bingeable series happen one after the other as the truth of these characters' lives is slayed open for us. Christina Applegate said she had to go to therapy after filming it. // Fleabag. While the facts are revealed bit by agonizing bit, this brilliant female-centric, here's-a-whole-lot of-taboo-topics-to-make-you-uncomfortable, humans-are-a-hot-mess show will ROAST you. // Eurovision 2019. I just love this campy, over-the-top song contest and I hope the Americans never get their hands on it and ruin it. (So fine!, Logo, don't televise it here.) The Super Mr. set up a VPN for me to watch it on BBC. I loved their snarky commentary (Iceland's song is "terribly shouty.") Madonna was an auto tuned mess, but Verka Serduchka singing "Toy " was fantabulous! // PEN15. I definitely did not grow up in the 90s/00s (shut up!), but middle school was pretty universally brutal. The timpani scene had me howling!  Drag Race. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo forever and ever, Amen! Also, in the CAFTAN REALNESS episode they made just for me, this magic: A'keria proclaims that caftans can have PANTS. Ross Matthews, Super Hero of all Hags, spits out "Not in my religion!!" And THIS was the BEST part of the finale. Miss Raja Gemini spends the summer in Provincetown. Now I may just have to go see her show after this lewk! // National Treasure. (The BBC series, not the Nicholas Cage movie.) Just a warning in the worlds-colliding category: Hagrid and Mrs. Weasley are married to each other. And there is another "not my daughter!" moment for Mrs. W. // The Split on Hulu. The show centers around divorce attorneys and is surprisingly engaging. It's also another show proving my MI-5/Spooks alum litmus test works. // And for the record, I didn't hate this season of Game of Thrones. Both the last dragon and Peter Dinklage are alive (and possibly thriving) so I'm all good. The Last Watch documentary should make people appreciate how much work went into bringing us this epically entertaining and complicated work.

  • Listening list. NPR Morning Edition changed its theme song. I liked the old one with its Snoopy-like vibe. The new one is a little too Knight Rider for me. // Turns out I am not the only one watching TV with closed captioning these days. It helps me decipher British accents, understand every single word of that mystifying GOT talk, and allows me to keep watching while The Super Mr. is cooking up a storm in our open-concept, open-noise kitchen. // Jada Kingdom, especially "Banana."  Apparently she was stoned out of her mind when she recorded this. // "The White House Plan to Change Climate Science" episode of The Daily. UGH! I'm so tired of the lies and destruction. Also read "Trump Wants to End Worst-Case Climate Scenario Modeling. Here's Why That Matters." The "Not Today, Motherf*cker" episode of the I, Survivor podcast. "Women get assaulted. Women get attacked. Women get harassed, manipulated, intimidated, but women are survivors. Hosts Jenna Brister and Wagatwe Wanjuki share their stories, and those of the men and women who fought back, who won, and who live rising above the trauma of their experiences." // The Dog That Changed Me podcast. Maria Shriver's daughter interviews people about their rescue dogs. // Lady of the Dunes podcast. Cape Cod Times is delving into our local Provincetown mystery of who the woman was who was found dead in the dunes, and, of course, who killed her. // Angel City Chorale's version of "Africa." I'm guessing you've seen it, but in case you haven't, it is the perfect way to set the tone for a joyful day!


  • Eating and drinking list. The New York Times did a whole series on food and climate change. Start with the "How does your diet contribute to climate change?" quiz. I'm in the low impact category. Whew! // Microwave popcorn without any of the chemicals. I now use just popcorn kernels, a microwave bowl, and add these toppings: nutritional yeast, dulse, and za'atar or Basque Espelette pepper plus a little olive oil spray. // I'm trying to reduce my sodium intake based on my nutritionist's advice, BUT she's totally fine with me adding sea salt and is more concerned about sodium that food companies pump into our food. Read your labels and avoid anything that provides 20% or more of your daily value. The kale miso crunch salad at Canteen -- baby kale, cherry tomatoes, radishes, and red onions tossed in a tangy miso dressing and topped with crunchy bread crumbs and grated grana padano cheese! // I love this article on Lebanon bologna, something we ate regularly growing up in Lancaster, PA, often with a good schmear of cream cheese and then rolled up. "That was a fancy hors d’oeuvre in Lancaster in the early ’80s." 

  • The ticks are out in full force right now. We've pulled quite a few off Stephen in the last few weeks. Lyme disease is a terrible problem out here on the Cape, but there is some promising news from a Massachusetts-funded study. They've been successful in creating a pre-exposure treatment that protects the body from Lyme bacteria. There's also a good video on tick bite prevention in that link. I'd add: use a lint roller on your clothes when you come back from your outside frolics. 

  • More proof that I need to keep eating my cruciferous vegetables: "New research has linked a compound found in Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables to one of the body’s most potent tumor-suppressing genes." Turns out you have to eat 6 POUNDS of broccoli a day to get the same results as in the study (which shows it contains a compound that allows the tumor-suppressing gene PTEN to do its work), but, still, clearly a good idea to eat these.

The Intangible:

  • Brene Brown: The Call to Truth on Netflix. "Brene says that joy is the most vulnerable human emotion. We’re so afraid that if we let ourselves feel joy, something will come and take that away from us and we’ll be hit with pain, trauma, and loss. As a consequence, we try to “dress rehearse” tragedy to feel better prepared." Raise your hand if this is you! I've got both of mine in the air.

  • Abundance. This month's theme in the Many Moons planning calendar has been abundance. From that, I share these two powerful statements with you: "We live in a wretched, capitalist system that depends on the exploitation of human lives to keep functioning." It seems everyone I know hates their job. This is why. BUT... "Abundance lives in time, exhales, flow, plenty of ice cubes in the fridge, laughter, sharing, heartfelt communication, and creativity. And you've got all of those, and access to all of those, right now, wherever you are." Sit with that a bit.

The Practical:

  • I think I found the perfect summer sandals! Granted, I still have to test them out with a good trot up and down Commercial Street to be certain. The shiny, twisty gold diverts from the fact that they are fundamentally flip flops so you can wear them with anything, anywhere. And for my fellow ladies with back issues, they are ORTHOPEDIC(ish).

  • Make your own birdbath. I've been searching for a heated one for the winter. In the meantime, here's a super easy way to make sure your birds have access to water right now.

  • Summer goals! When you live in a town where many things are only available to you for a short few months, you learn how to maximize your time. Some tips: 1. Ask yourself; "if this were my last summer in this place where I live now, what would I want to make sure I do? If I didn't live here, what would I miss?" The answer to those questions put more sunsets and more expeditions into the dunes, the waters, and all the bits in between on my list.  2. Write it down. Or make a Pinterest board. I have a board for each season, and I cannot tell you how many times I refer to them. Here's the summer one (and spring, since there's some overlap.) 3. Every time you are out doing errands or traveling outside of your normal route, do at least one of the things from your list. We have to travel up Cape a bit for appointments and errands and I always stop somewhere I've never been or take a left turn (right turn in the summer) to see what's there. 4. Schedule the most important things on the list now, before sand gravity sets in.

  • Sign up for the NYT Climate Fwd: newsletter. There is usually a "one thing you can do" tip and useful information like where the Democrats stand on climate change (turns out Joe Biden is at the bottom.)

  • Another successful middle-of-the night Target buying spree. I think I may have found my superpower! Three times now, I have magically woken up in the middle of the night at the EXACT TIME the Target + Designer du Jour items are going on sale! This time I got all the Vineyard Vines items I wanted except one. My favorite item so far is this beach bag. And this blanket. And this bowl.

  • Battling invasive species every dang day! Our yard is mostly natural vegetation and only a tiny bit of grass. Right now, there is so much garlic mustard that I pull out a huge armful every day. Don't be deceived by the pretty little white flowers, this bitch releases toxins into the soil that kill other native plants. And we have Japanese knotweed growing around our mailbox. That stuff will surely survive the zombie apocalypse, if it isn't the cause of our demise itself! But leave the dandelions -- natural pollinator-attracting plants -- alone (I saw a bunny eating one in our yard the other day!)

Cape Cod:

  • Bird nerd walks and hiking about the backwoods and dunes of the Cape. I am extremely lucky to live in a place where there are so many people who care deeply about the natural world that surrounds us. And they know SO much. I've gone on a few guided excursions this month and have seen a blue gray gnatcatcher, chipping sparrows, pine warblers, black and white warblers, a cedar waxwing, a common yellowthroat, a green heron, king birds, purple martins, and a prairie warbler. I watched white-tailed deer running across the marshes. I hid behind the guide when a snake appeared on the trail, ready to push him or anyone near me to the ground so I could make a safe escape should that thing come near me. I've learned that an "irruption year" is characterized by a large number of unexpected birds. And that pitch pines, which cover the outer Cape's pine barrens, historically depended on forest fires to seed and grow, but have now adapted to regenerating without fire. Willets are some of the harbingers of climate disaster -- can they survive in the delicate marshlands as the sea waters rise? We don't know. In addition to being members of the Mass Audubon -- Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, I just joined the Cape Cod Bird Club and the Outer Cape Hiking Club. And I'm memorizing this helpful information in case we get lost in the woods.

  • I had jury duty this month -- 80 MILES away in Falmouth! I was very grumbly about it until I decided to make an adventure out of it! The day before I slowly drove down 6A all the way to West Barnstable and cut down through Oak Street and Old Stage Road to Centerville, then down route 28 the rest of the way to Falmouth. Some of the highlights: lobster ice cream, the Democrats bench, shopping at Mashpee Commons, the Cahoon Museum of American Art, and lunch at The Marshside.

  • Check out the Seashore to Forest Floor blog. On my walk in Beech Forest the other day, I saw tons of wood anemone, which I would not have been able to identify had I not read about it on this blog.

  • Cape and Islands Bookstore Trail. I stopped at three bookstores on my jury duty trip, mostly so I could get stickers, but I did buy something in each store. I have a couple more to do to complete the trail and GET MY BUTTON. I plan to finish it all up here in Provincetown.

  • Beach plum stalking. It's totally a thing here! You have to go into the dunes in the spring when the flowers are blooming and you can easily identify the bushes. Without those tell-tale flowers, they blend in. Come August, we'll head back to the places I noted and pick some beach plums -- hopefully -- before everyone else does.

Across the Bridge/The World:

  • This month's interesting bits from around the country. Lancaster, PA (my hometown -- born and raised!). A little inspiration for a summer solstice party. // Texas. Fireflies -- we called them lightning bugs -- are still in abundance in some parts of that state. // Chicago. A still echoing and terrible plane crash happened there in 1979. // Portland, Oregon. After the fires there, bees came back in huge numbers. // Indianapolis. I will never understand why people are into watching cars drive around in circles. There are 2,000 people -- the Yellow Shirts -- who volunteer every year to help people enjoy just that. // Seattle. This area's ferry system is impressive and super intimidating. // St. Augustine. Living with snakes and gators (and terrible laws, election-stealing politicians, and Florida Man, oh my!)

  • I'm going to keep amplifying Elizabeth Warren. She is the antidote for what ails me. I'm sharing every policy, every video of her dancing or hanging with her dog, every plain-speaking truth she says. She is persisting all over the place and I am here for it. (BUT, I'm trying to refrain from buying any of her merch so I don't jinx her. The only political stuff I own is from Gore 2000 and I'm With Her. And we all know how those turned out.)  And in case you were wondering, I like Pete Buttigieg's husband better than I like him, which, quite frankly, is a comment I make rather frequently in this town.

List of the Month: Things I Wish I Still Had

  1. an uninjured back -- Of all the things on this list, a healthy strong back is the ONE thing I really, really wish I still had. Keep your core strong, people!

  2. these bags that I sold on eBay: A colorful beaded bag and a nude leather bamboo handled clutch -- I got caught up in all the selling and probably should have paused before I put these on there. They both sold immediately and they are the two items I'm always saying "this would go perfectly with that bag I used it have." One is still available elsewhere and, the other, I found on eBay ... and bought (I know.)

  3. vintage wooden Rice Krispie (Snap, Crackle, and Pop) figurines -- My mom would always put these away in a box in the basement and I would dig them back out again. No idea why I loved them so much.

  4. my Barbie Dream Boat -- I find it amusing that I had Malibu Barbie, Malibu Ken, and the yacht and my sister had pale Barbie and Ken and the townhouse.

  5. the rest of my 1976 Looney Tunes glasses from Hardees -- Tweety Bird is the last one standing.

  6. my Chewbacca action figure -- You'd be surprised how frequently Chewie comes up in daily conversation.

  7. my yellow and red plastic Fiorucci watch that I bought at the famed NYC Fiorucci store on a drama club field trip (I was on stage crew, like a proper introvert) -- I had an outfit entirely created around that watch: an original 80s Banana Republic Tshirt that I bought in Cambridge at the store with the Jeep halfway through the window, army green pants tucked into layered pairs of yellow and red socks, and super New Wave-y, 80s-esque boots. I loved it more than my two Swatches (this one and this one.) But I wish I still had those, too.

  8. my vintage purple Fred Tavern's tshirt from Stone Harbor, NJ -- Everyone had one and apparently still does, except me.

Extra Credit:

Action Plan for the Month Ahead:

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you all have a wonderful start to the summer! See you back here in July, my favorite month of the year (and the time of year when I start swearing at the tourists from my car. Seriously, we have bike trails, ride on those!)

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