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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Mooney

Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 28

June is very confusing. Summer! No, still cold and rainy. Summer! Cold and rainy. Summer! It makes planning a just-in-time exercise. Check the weather. Look outside. Check the doppler app. Check the tides. Check the weather again. Look one more time. And LEAP! It's also the last few weeks before visitor season at Chez Juniper Disco when I resume my responsibilities as Julie McCoy, Clipboard Doyenne. I've been busy cleaning the house, gathering baskets of beach towels and sunscreen, and buying all the functional, yet stylish paper plates I can find. With that in mind, just a heads up that I'll be taking a break from this space for the rest of the summer. There will be no August edition of Notes, but I'll be sure to have something extra juicy for you in September! 



  • Reading list. The Outermost House. It is a shameful and severe washashore crime that I have not read this yet! I'm savoring it. OK, FINE! I'm distracted and having a hard time focusing. I set aside a week for vacation later in July and plan to spend most of the time reading. // The Goldfinch. Being a huge fan of  Donna Tartt's The Secret History, I started this book when it was first published, but just couldn't focus. (It's a theme.) Since the movie is coming out in September, I decided to make this my summer-long read. Bit by bit, I will attempt to finish by Labor Day. Summer Reading Lists. In case you need some inspiration for your own summer reading, here are a few curated lists that have piqued my interest: The What's Top Three Reads for the Summer. // Read This Summer (Mailchimp's summer reading program  -- it is so fascinating, it should be a syllabus!) // "The 23 Best Health and Science Books to Read This Summer". // "The Bitter Southerner Summer Reading Roundup 2019". // "19 Best Audiobooks of 2019 (So Far.)"

  • Viewing list. When They See Us. Absolutely required viewing! Make the space, take breaths when you need to, and follow up with Oprah's interview with the director, the cast, and the Exonerated Five. And then talk about it with your friends and family when you can breathe again! // Chernobyl. Did you find yourself feeling like the radiation was all around you when you watched this?? Such effective storytelling! I kept thinking about that documentary that came out ages ago about the Chernobyl babies that were born with horrible tumors and defects, including a child whose brain was in a sac OUTSIDE his skull. (Meanwhile they are decommissioning a nuclear power plant right across the bay from us. That's slightly terrifying.) Pose. This show!!! It's campy, heartbreaking, educational (I never heard about Hart Island where they buried many people who died of AIDS), and hilarious. And this season's dance track is unearthing some songs I once loved! // A Private War. I didn't know the full story of Marie Colvin, the journalist who died while covering the war in Syria. The toll that works takes on war correspondents is brutal. (Note: in case you think Diane Lane is playing Marie Colvin the entire time you are watching this, she's not. It's Rosamund Pike.) Life in the Doghouse on Netflix. This film showed at the Provincetown Film Festival a couple years ago and Danny and Ron were there. Such angels for saving so many dogs! // Always Be My Maybe. I was laughing and crying the whole way through this. The Keanu scenes are gold.  The Meet the Joneses Instagram account. Only about 200 people follow this brilliant account. There are plastic people, every sort of sign that says "Jones," and fantastic locations. Just trust me on this one. // 120 Minutes archives. OG alternative music aficionados, rejoice! // This fabulous bird on Twitter. You know she gay.

  • Listening list. Dune Shack Life recordings. Over an hour of recordings of the sounds out in the dunes. // This 8-HOUR 80s Long Drive playlist. You guys! This is SO GOOD! The Style Council! Paul Young! Book of Love! Kate Bush! Talk Talk! // The first season of the Threshold podcast. The American Bison is our national mammal, but at one point only 23 animals were free-roaming. Now the herds are getting so big at Yellowstone that they euthanize hundreds (600-900) of them every year. This podcast covers the controversy. // The third annual edition of the Roséwave playlist. Cool, but not too cool. It's a great mix for hanging out on the deck. // City pop -- "jazzy-summery music that came out of Japan in the 1970s" -- like Swing Slow by Miharu Koshi and Harry Hosono, Jr. It's definitely Japanese, very jazzy, and totally its own thing.  The Hills' theme song, Unwritten, remixed. (Sidebar: Well, Brody is a total ass, huh?) // Miley Cyrus as Ashley O's "On a Roll." Oh, honey! // Tanika Charles' latest, The Gumption. I often just ask Alexa to play her stuff.  (And I've been told I do so in a bitchy tone. She knows I hate her.)


  • Eating and drinking list. The Fraperol at Pepe's. A FROZEN aperol spritz! I've already consumed way too many of these this summer. // These two fantastic salads The Super Mr. makes: a delicious antipasto salad (he uses fresh mozzarella balls, rather than provolone) and the BEST panzanella (he skips the cucumbers, uses balsamic vinegar rather than champagne vinegar, and uses crusty rosemary bread. Also, if you have left overs, remove the bread and store it separately, otherwise it soaks up the juice and is soggy the next day.) // The kale chickpea salad at Farland on the Beach at Herring Cove. // Coolhaus Ice Cream. All the good stuff (like organic cane sugar) and interesting flavors (like Milkshake and Fries.) And it's women-owned!

  • Kiehl's Butterstick Lip Treatment, untinted, SPF 30. Not inexpensive, but it's very effective. Plus if you go to the store you can get a bunch of free samples.

  • The menopause soliloquy in Fleabag. Men, and young women under 40, do not skip this section! A very shameful admission here: early in my career, I had a number of female bosses -- all around 50 years of age -- who I thought were super difficult. Mood swings, completely forgetting what they told me to do yesterday, yelling at me for stuff they praised me for the day before. I was even certain that one of them had borderline personality disorder. It never, ever occurred to young and completely ignorant me that this pattern I kept experiencing was totally and completely NORMAL for women in the menopausal years. Also, just to be clear, women aren't crazy. Menopause is a lot to deal with and I wish I had showed these women more understanding.

The Intangible:

  • From Many Moons: "The Hermit knows that searching takes space. The Hermit relies on the light of her own lantern to take step after step in the dark. She is supported because she stays on her own path." Lately I've been feeling the truth of this as summer gets crowded and people forget I'm not on their vacation. My summer, my plans. My lantern, my path.

  • Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking. One of the exercises in Many Moons this month has been to think about what seeds we can plant now that will come to fruition in the fall and winter. I've started using the ideas in this book in anticipation of a 52 Hike Challenge I will begin in the fall. I'm pretty good at paying attention to what is around me, but the daily walk suggestions in this book are helping me to go deeper. The goals are: more time in nature, a stronger body to do so, and a more focused experience.

The Practical:

  • Brandless. I'm impressed with this values-based company and recently ordered a wide array of items. Stephen really likes the duck jerky treats. I also replaced some of our wooden spoons and found their salt and vinegar potato chips rival my favorite Utz brand. Not everything is great (some of the snacks are a bit bland), but at $3 an item (yes, on almost everything!), it's totally worth an investigation. Other items I liked: avocado basil moisturizing hand soap, dark chocolate covered quinoa bites, plant-based pet wipes, and jalapeño flavored corn and quinoa puffs (they remind me of these.)

  • thredUp Goody Boxes. I'm always looking for new ways to be a better and more aware consumer. I ordered the Red, White, and Blue goody box. It's fun to see what other people might pick for you after you answer a bunch of questions, but if I were to do it again, I'd select the box where I decide what goes in it. It was $10 (which was applied to my eventual purchase.) You have seven days to return what you don't want and are only charged for what you keep. I ended up keeping two items that were perfect for my resorting collection. 

  • Switching from the Planoly app to the Preview app. For a long time, I used the Planoly app to figure out which photos to post on Instagram (it gives you a preview of your grid view so you can manage the aesthetic of the overall look.) When I was in Jamaica, I hit my monthly limit for the free app and upgraded with the full intention of returning back to the free one. NOPE. Once you upgrade, you are trapped. So I canceled it and found one I like even more, the Preview app. And it's free.

  • "The horrors of mass-produced bee houses."  I bought one of these in the spring, thinking it was a good thing to do for the environment. And then I read this. You can do more damage to the bees using one of those cute houses. The article also tells you what to do if you've already put one up.

  • Foxtails are dangerous for dogs! I had no idea. And I see them everywhere. I even found some on Stephen's fur. Those foxtail awns are designed to burrow, even in your dog's skin or, if they've inhaled one, in their noses or stomachs. They can be deadly so educate yourself on this!

  • The If/Then strategy from the Harvard Business Review. It's one of the recommended methods for getting yourself to do things you don't want to do (guilty!). Mostly I apply it this way: "If I am going to Tea Dance, then I am not going to drink the rum punch." or "If I am going to drink a Fraperol, then I am only going to have one."

Cape Cod:

  • Our yard wildlife. Currently I am writing on our deck and in my line of sight is a robin at the bird jelly feeder, a catbird waiting in line for his turn, a chipmunk just ran down the steps to the lower deck, two bumble bees are feeding on my catmint and my blue wishbone flowers. A large black ant danced across the railing and a chickadee is pecking away at the side of the roof (which explains what that noise has been all week!). The only man made sound I hear is the largest white noise machine in town (second only to the ocean) also known as the ventilation system at the health center next door. I'm developing a relationship with the catbirds in our yard. When their grape jelly feeder is empty they come find me and tell me about it or they sit on top and trill loudly. It's now the first thing I do in the morning, even before I get my coffee. They sing beautiful songs. I saw one pick up a colorful leaf, puff up, and do a little dance with one wing dragging on the ground for another catbird. And I thought I was the intended audience for that song. There are four baby squirrels who are using our roof, trees, and deck as a jungle gym. They are assholes. I've been squirting them with a spray bottle and they pretty much just stare at me. One even charged at me sending me fleeing into the house and leaving the people at the health center next door with one hell of a show. The Super Mr. has promised me a Super Soaker.

  • The Cape Cod Fun Show podcast. I hesitated before putting this on here. It's annoying to listen to and they are less informed about the things here on the Outer Cape. With that said, I have gotten good leads, insider tips, and ideas for up Cape adventures from them. I was hoping the "Why Do Cape Codders Love Pickup Trucks?" episode would be insightful because, seriously what the hell, Cape Cod? It basically just validated my thoughts on who is inside those behemoths who are either tailgating or zooming past me in my modest and practical Honda CRV while I travel just at or slightly above the speed limit.

  • Hurricane season prep. Just one really bad storm and we are toast out here. We've decided that if there is even an inkling of a hurricane we'll pack up, grab the moms and the dogs and everything we can pack up in the car, and head west to my sister's place. There is only one way out and that road will be one of the first things to go underwater. Make sure you have a plan!  Also related, here's a breakdown of the National Climate Assessment by region. The Northeast: "Our region is looking at 'the largest temperature increase in the contiguous United States' ... We’re going to be slammed with the highest rates of sea-level rise in the whole damn country, and we’re going to have the highest rate of ocean warming."

  • Where to buy plants. (You will notice that the parking lot and the level of difficulty associated with a left turn features almost as prominently in my appraisals as the plants themselves.) Friends' Marketplace, Orleans. I buy the majority of my flowers here. They have a huge selection at decent prices. (Just hold on to your cart so it doesn't roll down the invisible incline while picking up massive amounts of speed and into a parked car. Just saying.) Garden Renovations Nursery, Provincetown. I usually buy my "showpiece" plants here. It's a great place to find something visually stunning and a little unusual (you may pay a little bit more for it.) Also, it's so pleasant here. I've had chipmunks run around my feet, butterflies landing on all the flowers and those snuggly bumble bees buzzing about. Super nice people there, too!  Bayberry Gardens, Truro. I buy my peppers here (and my fall plants.) They have a good selection of vegetables, herbs, and tomato plants. (The "parking lot" has no rhyme or reason to it, but try to park perpendicular to the store by the trees and do not try to make a left turn out of it in the summer. Go down to the Pamet exit (grab a sandwich at Jams), drive under Route 6 and get back on the ramp going the other direction. Hillside Farmstand, Truro. Tomatoes! They grow them on their farm and the plants are way stronger and much further along than the ones I've seen elsewhere. We've gotten a good yield out of them, too. (Parking is an A+ and you can manage a left turn in summer if you are patient.) Cape Abilities Farm, Dennis. It's one of the first places to open in the spring and the pansies I bought then are still going strong. You will also support a fantastic organization that provides employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. (The parking lot stresses me out. I always end up in a space where I have to make a gazillion point turn to get back out.) Tobey Farm, Dennis. This is the Cape's oldest farm and dates to 1681. I bought some great shade plants here this year. (Parking is easy -- bumpy, but easy. Left turn warning but, really, take a right and keep going down 6A. It's one of my absolute favorite things to do on the Cape.) The Farm, Orleans. You could get lost in all the greenhouses and plants available here. (The entrance is down a bumpy dirt road. Drive slowly. Plenty of parking when you get there. Left turn manageable.)

  • Beach sticker list for every Cape town. It may surprise those of you who don't live here to know that you need a beach sticker to go to most town beaches from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Most require you to be a resident or staying someplace within the town, which means that, during the summer months, I can't go to most of the beaches. I have a Cape Cod National Seashore sticker that allows me entry to all of those beaches, but I won't be able to set foot on some of my favorites until September. (You can go to some before 10 or after 4.)  Anyway, here's a great list of all the beach sticker rules for anyone who is planning to visit in the summer.

Across the Bridge/The World:

List of the Month: Things I Loved in June

  • my new Barack Obama deck pillow (I have coffee with him every morning on the deck)

  • the rainbow frosé Canteen had for Pride 

  • the satisfaction of a job well (enough) done after all the deck container pots were filled, the closets turned over for the summer, and the winter stuff put away for a few glorious months

  • the first tea dance with the squad and managing to keep it together enough (Happy First Anniversary to our shower curtain rod!)

  • driving through the newly opened Provincelands Road and seeing all the blooming scotch broom everywhere

  • The Super Mr.'s key lime pie

  • the lupines at Fort Hill

  • our first day at the pool and perfect weather

  • discovering The Fraperol, a frozen Aperol Spritz, at Pepe's

  • watching the bees and butterflies feed on my flowers

  • the way our mini-yard looks after I've edged the grass and trimmed the ivy around the brick sidewalks 

  • eating a tasty and fresh Jamaican beef patty at Days Market (open again!)

  • how happy Stephen is with the AC blasting in his face on the car ride home from our adventures

  • the foggy so-Cape entry to the harbor after a day spent in Boston

  • spending the weekend with one of my favorite people, catching up, talking about important cultural issues, dishing on Drag Race and Pose and the ending of Game of Thrones and all the people we both know. Luckily, he'll be back in a few weeks to do some more!

  • sipping on the first batch of sun tea of the season

  • Stephen's first summer excursion of the season on the West End flats at low tide

  • the one firefly I saw blinking in our yard

  • the dappled sun on the deck in the late afternoon during disco hour (when the sun hits my disco ball and flashes light all over the deck)

  • devouring two lobsters and all the fixin's at the Portuguese Festival annual lobster bake

  • watching the Portuguese Festival parade from the second floor deck of Baie with the squad

  • drinking my favorite drink in all of Ptown (REALLY!), the Painkiller at Nor'east Beer Garden, and devouring their most delicious Mediterranean snacks

  • seeing a GREEN BEE on my deck

  • watching all festooned boats get blessed during the 72nd (!) annual Blessing of the Fleet

Extra Credit:

Action Plan for the Month(s) Ahead:

  • If you are local or plan to be on the Cape this summer, check out one of these #DitchMitch2020 fundraising events. Or go to Indivisible Kentucky and make a donation. 

  • Save the monarch butterflies -- especially if you live in the CITY -- by planting some milkweed. I planted some in a large container and it seems to be thriving.

  • Mark your calendar for: Scream (the TV show) season 3 finally airing on three consecutive nights, July 8-10 on VH1 | Robert Mueller's televised testimony before Congress on July 17 | Veronica Mars' return on July 26 | Bachelor in Paradise on July 29 | and Succession's second season on August 11.

  • And, if nothing else this summer, consider this: “If all you did was just looked for things to appreciate, you would live a joyously spectacular life.” ― Esther Abraham Hicks

I hope you all have a kick-ass summer!  See you back here in September (some time after  Labor Day!)

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