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Archive for the ‘Nantucket Life’ Category

Waterfront News

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

It’s been a little slow around the waterfront as of late. I am pursuing an interesting hobby lately. Deer-watching. I bought a trail cam and set it up in the field and have been getting very good results. Here are a few shots the cam captured lately.
Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

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I want my Indian Summer. It feels as if fall jumped in too early. But then, we had such a sensational summer, there was no way that our current season could rise to that standard. We never seem to get two seasons in a row, both of them memorable, in a good way.

I’ve meant to put this in the column for three weeks now. When I went in to the Shellfish Department to buy a current family shellfish license, I asked Liz if they still cost $25. She answered yes, unless I was 60. Well, I crept across that landmark back in March. Not only did I receive a white, lifetime license, it was free. Other than turning 21, this is the only good thing related to age that has come my way.

Following up on that subject, I finally got out with my rake this week. The take wasn’t great, but there were enough for a dinner. Whatever problems the fishery has had with quantity didn’t affect the quality of the delicate morsels consumed that evening.

Nobody has come up and answered the question of why a parking garage in town is wanted, or needed. We, as a town, voted not to have one several years ago. Not only did we vote it down, the vote was two to one. Yet our town planners and some selectmen are staying with the idea of wasting our money for an idea we crushed when first proposed to us.

If a parking garage was built, we would need to have paid parking in town for it to work. Why would anyone pay to park in a garage if town parking was free? That would mean that all parking in town would cost us. I have to wonder how badly this would hurt (if not kill) businesses in the downtown area?

It would certainly stop me from coming into town, unless it was critical. To do away with a post office box I’ve had for over 35 years would hurt, but if I had to pay to pick up my mail, it would have to go. That and my pharmacy would change as well. Parking in town has always been a hassle. It won’t improve if we have to pay for it. Maybe it’ll be easier to find a space, but most people I’ve spoken with would be reticent to pay.

The wind turbine up by the high school doesn’t seem to be up and working. It’s easy to understand why. Should that machine fail, having seen the fiasco out by Bartlett’s Farm two decades ago and the more recent failure at Bartlett’s Farm, it could set this type of energy (on-island) back another decade. I desperately want to see alternative energy, where it’s put is the big question. The further away from people, the better most of us will feel.

Halloween is rapidly approaching. Of course with the way marketing is done these days, the Stop & Shop has had mini candy bars and candy corn out on the shelves for three or four weeks. Since Halloween falls on Sunday this year, Monday should see an awful lot of kids showing up in school with a sugar hangover.

Last Saturday, the place to be was the Nantucket Scallopers Ball. An event which consisted (mainly) of local folks was perfect as far as music, food and friends. Ecliff and the Swingdogs provided the tunes and really got partiers going. There was a raw bar that was going nonstop all evening, with long lines at all times. Other comestibles included a couple of different scallop dishes and wonderful appetizers. All in all, it was a very good night, for us.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, October 15th, 2010

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There is no need for paid parking on our downtown streets. If Nantucket needs more income from people visiting the core district, a simpler solution is already in place. Keep the current regulations as they are. Police the area vigorously. Raise the fine for people that exceed the time limit. And, finally, tow vehicles once they’ve accrued a second violation in the same space.

This bad idea is similar to others proposed in recent years: the idea (quashed, thank goodness) of a rotary, excuse me, roundabout by the high school; a bike path through the Creeks, an environmentally sensitive area to say the least; and speed humps on Orange Street. They lasted a summer and now reside in a storage spot. I recall they cost a hefty chunk of change. Perhaps the town could have a yard sale and some private buyer could use them. We don’t need them and never did.

Let’s return to downtown parking for a moment. We know who the offenders are, when it comes to parking overtime. Employees and owners of businesses and real-estate folks move their cars all day long, while many of them accept tickets as the cost of doing business. If that’s the case, doing business as usual ought to help fill empty town coffers.

When owners of downtown businesses encourage employees to use NRTA buses during the summer season, many spaces would open up. Not only that, said employees wouldn’t need to exit the shop every hour or two to hunt for their next parking place. As it is, many people now skip going into town if possible. Some businesses are cutting their own throats by letting this parking place bingo continue.

Now that the NRTA buses are in the mix, why would they want to adopt a “mascot” and change their name? We all know who and what the NRTA is and does. They’re a local bus line and they perform a useful and beneficial service that too few people take advantage of. As for a mascot, why spend money for an unneeded item that would likely not add any new riders and confuse others. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Another bad idea that the voters have already said no to, and in a big way is a parking garage. The more I see of plans for Wilkes Square projects, the less I think of them. Few of us knew what the triangle on Washington Street was until a couple of years ago. Now, I wish we’d never heard of “improving” it. If it ain’t broke (and it wasn’t), don’t fix it.

That free wind energy we had hoped for in Nantucket Sound will cost at least double what we pay, using fossil fuels. I wouldn’t mind paying more for wind energy, but doing so while providing the developer a quarter of a billion-dollar profit (before a kilowatt is generated) doesn’t cut it for me. The only thing green about this project is the money Cape Wind will reap from consumers, in addition to federal tax credits (that’s all of us).

This has turned into a list of complaints, so, what’s one more? The windmill over on school land has turned into a fiasco. Why was the location changed? Supposedly, placing the structure by a cemetery was not to be. I have yet to hear a complaint from the residents (six feet under) concerning noise or the way it looks. Not so for the other neighbors.

It appears that we’ll be seeing a new sitcom with Nantucket in its title. “Naughty in Nantucket” is going to be a CBS comedy which is going to be every bit as much about our tiny pile of sand as “Wings” was. Now, there will be even more people thinking things about us that don’t exist.

These past few years we have all known people who have lost their house, or a job. For Mike Sturgis, the closing of Cinco is a loss of both. Cinco opened as the financial world came to a crashing halt and apparently it was too much to overcome. I wish Mike and Connie the best.
“Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, October 8th, 2010

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Monday morning we celebrate Columbus Day. For most of us this is just another three-day weekend. There are likely to be more visitors to the island should the weather be nice on this holiday. We often have a visitor from the northeast to commingle with the other off-islanders. According to weather forecasts, however, we are due to have cooler temperatures than normal, with no storms in sight.

I was shocked by the announcement of Margot Hartmann becoming president and CEO of Nantucket Cottage Hospital. They got it right, selecting her. Isn’t it about time we had a leader who has actually labored in the trenches? The hospital has had bureaucrats/bean-counters running it as long as I am able to remember. Dr. Hartmann is a refreshing change to lead the hospital.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed how many traffic signs are lost in foliage around the island. There are dozens of stop signs obliterated, with speed-limit signs running in second place. Aside from hedges and trees masking signage, there are myriad streets where a driver has to edge out into traffic (risking an accident) in order to avoid an accident.

Then there are people who have urged the Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting to adopt national standards for our bike paths. These measures would mean trimming back undergrowth along the paths, in order to improve visibility for both riders and drivers as well. At one point there were branches hanging over the paths, not to mention paths that became too narrow for a couple of bikes to pass by one another.

Most of the complaints have come from riders who live out of town and use the Polpis bike path. My supposition is that there are fewer riders on that particular path, compared to the Surfside or Madaket bike paths. The path on the Milestone bike path is the oldest and the least impacted by overactive plant life. On Tuesday, the DPW was clearing part of the Polpis bike path. Now for the rest of the offending brush . . .

I was happy to see that our current sheriff has taken back his opposition to using the soon to be “old police station” as a new sheriff’s office. It has been said that Richard Bretschneider caved to town administrators and the police department. I’d like to add that it may help him secure a few votes in the upcoming election.

Last week’s Nantucket Maritime Festival went over very well. An officer on duty at the festival estimated that between 1,000 and 2,000 people attended. Even if the low estimate is accurate, that was an exceptional number of people, having a wonderful day in the sun. I can’t wait for the second version of the festival.

Another recent happening here was the opening of family scalloping season. A friend of mine went out for her first time on Sunday. For a couple of weeks prior to the season we conferred on waders and the other accouterments necessary to harvesting and opening the tasty mollusks. This time around, our favorite shellfish is more precious than in recent years, and that’s saying quite a bit.

My friend and her husband set out to push-rake the Monomoy area. We had both heard that there were a handful of scallops there, compared to almost nothing down harbor and in Madaket Harbor. I received an e-mail that evening, reporting that the two novices had brought home a little over two dozen scallops. Not only that, they were checked out by a warden and their catch was legal.

I was taken aback when I read that they figured out how to open the scallops by watching a YouTube video. It seemed as if the old way of learning to open by watching someone in a shanty had gone the way of dragging dredges behind catboats. Still and all, it was a good first try.

It appears that beachcombing has taken on a new meaning of late. I had a friend (back in the 1970s), who used to go walking along the south shore, looking for flotsam and jetsam. On most of his early-morning walks, he found fishing lures, along with the usual debris we are all used to seeing. One morning he found the body of a gentleman who drowned several days before. That put an end to his early-morning jaunts.

The New York Yankees’ hopes of capturing the American League East title were put to rest by Boston Red Sox last Sunday. That wasn’t as good as getting into the playoffs, but that made most of us feel a little better about the way the season ended.

The New England Patriots put a hurting on the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. A road win against a division rival goes a long way to boosting a team’s spirit. Our Whalers had a road win this past week, too.
Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Waterfront News

Monday, October 4th, 2010

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I took my boat up to Coskata this summer. It’s beautiful country up there. Not a lot of people who live here get to experience it. I was able to bring my boat into Coskata Pond only because it was high tide. I would not be able to do it on a low or even a mid tide. I went exploring while I was there. I have never seen so many fiddler crabs in my life. There were thousands and thousands of them there. The shark you see was well inland from the shoreline. I suspect it ventured in on the high tide, got disoriented and was stranded at low tide. The Coskata Caves pictured are interesting. They are located at the mouth of the pond and are quite large. Here are the pictures of Coskata I took while I was there.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

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If you didn’t go down to Children’s Beach last Saturday, you missed a tremendous event for local people. The first Nantucket Maritime Festival was an immediate success. Other than a little too much wind, the day was sunny and warm and everyone I met there was having a great time. Good food and music set the stage for the numerous contests and activities.

This was a day for kids (and there were hundreds of them) to spend time with parents and grandparents. There were hands-on projects, such as painting seashells, and other times opportunities to watch artisans work, while explaining what went into a particular craft. I didn’t see children looking anything but happy. The Build Your Own Boat Race was fun and funny. Everybody seemed to enjoy the comedic aspect of it.

The shellfish contests drew big crowds and having been primed by a fantastic raw bar were still hungry for more. There were lines all day long at the two (mostly) fried-food concessions. I visited both and could have gone back for more, but for once my head overruled my stomach. I can’t wait for next year’s festival, mainly because of how much fun this one was and to see how many more islanders will attend in the future.

I’m trying to find it in my heart to feel sorry for the many Hulbert Avenue residents now asking for property-tax abatements (story here). Folks living along that stretch are making enough that a few thousand dollars won’t change their lifestyle.

Most of us don’t own property along the Nantucket Riviera and have to scrape to pay property taxes. Some Nantucketers have had to sell their home because they could no longer afford to pay theirs. Does anyone think that this could possibly happen to homeowners on Hulbert Avenue?

I must apologize for not having mentioned a couple of things regarding political signs in front yards. Sheila Lyons (who ran in the state senate primary) sent out an e-mail to her supporters to bring their signs inside, when we were about to receive a blow from a tropical storm.

Then, I’ve got to hand it to (candidate for sheriff) Jim Perelman. He and his crew made sure that his yard signs were put up with but a week before the primary. Then, they made sure that the signs were taken down within an hour after the voting ceased. We’re a month away from the general election and the other candidate is going to allow us to see his roadside pollution the entire time.

When I see the many properties being foreclosed on each week it hurts to see friends and acquaintances losing something they’ve worked hard for. On the other hand, many of these actions are happening to people that bought interval ownerships and now can’t afford to keep them, what with a rental market that’s far short of what it was in past years. The gold rush is over.

The Nantucket Historical Association will be presenting its Food For Thought series beginning Thursday, Oct. 7. I prefer to call this the brown-bag lunch series. Show up at the Whaling Museum by noon and listen to some wonderful speakers and pertinent subject matter about our favorite sandbar.

The first week’s speakers are Bill Tramposch, who is the NHA executive director, along with Mark Avery, NHA director of historic properties. Their subject is an inside look at the NHA’s 22 buildings and grounds. You are welcome to bring a bag lunch, which I do. This is a great way to reach out to island people and you’ll learn from these sessions. Did I mention it’s free?

I see that former Nantucket sheriff Louis Ayotte passed away recently. I first met him about 30 years ago, when he appeared at my door to serve the former resident with some papers. He was about the lowest-key man I’d ever met and he did his job without causing waves, or having to raise his voice. Being sheriff is not a police job. It’s for the most part, administrative.

There’s a new book out about Boston sports teams in 2007-2008. Written by Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, the title is “Wicked Good Year.” It speaks to the Celtics and Red Sox championships that year and the Patriots’ almost perfect season. I’m mentioning this tome because Mr. Buckley uses fans to tell much of the story. Jane Hardy, Jeanne Dooley and Joan Fisher are three Nantucket sisters used to illustrate the New England Patriots and their rabid fan base. Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins fans aren’t exactly slouches when it comes to loving their respective teams.
If you’d like to contact me directly, here’s how. My e-mail address is, the phone number is 508-228-4325 and my mailing address is Box 1263, Nantucket, MA. 02554. If you want to say nasty things to me, please try to write legibly as I hate to have to strain to figure them out.
Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Friday, September 24th, 2010

There have been some awesome moonrises lately. As the sun is setting, the moon is rising. A photographer’s dream. I ventured out to the shores of West Polpis Harbor last night to catch the moonrise. I was not disappointed. On the way home, I stopped by Brant Point and grabbed a shot there.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News gam

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, September 24th, 2010

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Wednesday I had one of those days one might expect in the spring. I was showing a first-timer some spots to find scallops. As we pulled out of Fisher’s Landing, there were orange cones and a police officer directing me to head back into town and not turn right. So Madaket was a wash, due to sewer-line installation.

As we came into town, I realized that my gas gauge was low and as I turned into a station, there were orange cones blocking the pumps and a tanker truck. I got gas across the street. After taking a look at harbor spots to try next week, I returned my student to her car. Going up Main Street, what did I spy but more orange cones on Pine Street, a police officer and yellow electric-company trucks. Hopefully, these were the only places shut down due to my case of Murphy’s Law.

We’ve fallen too quickly into fall. The weather has generally been beautiful, except the wind makes nice days feel cooler than they actually are. Between the wind and ocean swells, surfers and kite-boarders are in heaven. I do worry about some of the people who are less-than-proficient swimmers once they end up in the drink.

Our summer was outstanding. Let’s see if the next couple of months are able to match the past season’s perfection. All of the people living here for years have said that given past history, we should see another summer season like this in 15 years or so.

My first summer on-island was identical to this one, and I remember thinking how lucky I was to be living somewhere with such great weather. Despite the realization that my first summer was an aberration, my love of living here blots out any (well most) of my complaining about the weather. A perfect day on Nantucket is worth 10 anywhere else.

Now for a tremendous event that’s taking place this Saturday. The Nantucket Maritime Festival (I&M Story Here) that’s going to be held at Children’s Beach isn’t the old Seafest, but it promises to be everything that many of us remember and more. Unless it rains, show up at Children’s Beach from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.. (The rain date would be Sunday). You’d best arrive early, because the sheer number of activities to choose from would take every bit of the six hours it’s open.

There should be a flyer in the I&M to guide you to what, when and where every event is taking place. If you’re looking to enter any of the various races or contests, then you definitely need to show up at 10 a.m. to register. You will be able to sample food from quite a number of different vendors and there will be musical entertainment. Some of the activities will be taking place at Coast Guard Station Brant Point.

Having an event like this is a good thing for the island. Most of the people attending will likely be residents. This is an easier place to get to, unlike the Island Fair a couple of weeks back. Obviously, the fair couldn’t take place in, or near town.

The only fear I have is that this could turn into a tourist weekend, much like the Stroll. I heard that there are two dozen weddings taking place this weekend, so a fair chunk of islanders will be working hard at other festivities, not relaxing at the Nantucket Maritime Festival.

Yesterday, The Providence Journal ran an article concerning the cost to remove the wind-farm turbines that are to be built in Nantucket Sound. After 25 years, Cape Wind says the cost would be $66 million. I don’t know anyone could estimate what costs will be a quarter of a century from now. My estimate, which is every bit as accurate as Cape Wind’s, would be to add a zero on the end of the aforementioned guess.

By now, we all know about the break-ins in Madaket and Surfside (I&M story here). Most of the folks I’ve spoken with say the island is changing and that these activities are a sign of the times. Living on Fair Street back in the early 1980s, my apartment was pillaged. It took place during the day, while I was at work. Apart from $400 in quarters, the worst part for me was feeling violated in my home. There are thieves everywhere and they’ve been around since the beginning of time. Locking your doors and cars will prevent most people from trying to rip you off.

Have a wonderful weekend, preferably at the Maritime Festival, or perhaps at one of the many weddings.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space, and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Monday, September 20th, 2010

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Summer ended abruptly here on Nantucket. We are now experiencing a good old-fashioned fall. Windy, cold and cloudy most days. There have been some fine days mixed in for good measure. I venture out every evening to photograph the sunset and the evening skies afterwards. There have been some pretty spectacular sunsets as of late. Most folks leave right after sunset. It’s wise to wait an hour or so after the sun has set to start photographing. Here are some scenes I grabbed at various locations around the waterfront the past two weeks . . .
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

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I’ve been up in Boston for the past couple of days, as I have to have a minor medical procedure today (Thursday). It’s taken more time to get checked in and do the preliminary tests than the actual event will take. Having spent time hurrying up and waiting, I visited a couple of Nantucketers that are ensconced at Mass General.

Unlike years back, when hospital patients’ names were showcased in the I&M, now that sort of thing is verboten. So names will be withheld, but many islanders are aware of neighbors that are up at MGH.
One of the nicest men I know had heart problems and was flown up by helicopter last week. Several days after that, he underwent triple bypass surgery. The week prior to his hasty departure from Nantucket, he and I had been admiring a beautiful, restored, old-model Ford Mustang.

When I visited him yesterday, he was sedated and hooked up to a roomful of machines. His nurse explained that while he was unconscious, he was aware of people speaking to him. I was at a loss for words and hoped that he was dreaming of the Mustang we had both coveted on a bright, late-summer afternoon.

Then there’s a lady, well known to many of us, who also had heart troubles, was flown to MGH within a day of the gentleman above. She too had a triple bypass. I came up to her room and said hello, and we ended up talking for better than an hour. Not to say that she had looked ill on any occasion I remember, but on that day, her complexion was positively pink.

As we spoke, I was impressed at how happy and upbeat her mood was. I knew she ought to be feeling well, having gone through an ordeal. After major surgery, people are often drained and not as high-spirited as she was.

As I was about to leave, she asked to walk me out in the corridor. There on the wall, just outside her room, was a poster of the three Nantucket lighthouses, rendered by Greg Hill, a close friend of hers. I remarked that there are Nantucket pictures, posters and paintings all about MGH. We both laughed about how islanders feel superior to people who live elsewhere. So much so, that they have reminders of what we live with every day.

At long last, there’s the promise of a new sheriff in town. Jim Perelman won’t have to do much to convince local voters that he’s less likely to be defending himself in front of the State Ethics folks in Boston, or spending our tax dollars on wiffle-ball bats. What is sad is that several deserving candidates who could have done a better job than the present office holder, didn’t. But, we knew that.

I think most of Nantucket was disappointed that Rob O’Leary was defeated in his run for Bill Delahunt’s seat in Congress. When I saw the news about Bill Keating chasing a purse-snatcher and helping capture him over the past weekend, I knew he’d get a huge boost in the polls. Having your name mentioned and being interviewed on all four major network TV stations in Boston was a dream come true for any candidate.

Gene Ratner’s house is now in the process of being taken apart and carted away. The damage done is forever. Even though the timbers and other construction debris are being cleaned up, not all has been contained. Some pieces floated away and pose hazards to mariners. Sandbags, the most offending part of the equation, are not only a problem, but indeed caused much of the scouring done to the surrounding beach. Rest in pieces.

Our summer (it officially ends next week) weather was spectacular. Over the past 10 days, temperatures have been below what we would like, though most days are sunny and bright. That and the wind has come out of the north and east on too many days. We have a ways to go before it gets cold, so make the most of your time outside.

Judging from the sale signs in stores around town, now might be a good time to go buy holiday gifts. You’ll pay a fraction of the original price and in turn, help local merchants head into the fall and winter more financially secure. That’s a two-fer.

The Patriots looked great on offense last week, shredding Cincinnati in Foxboro. This coming week is going to be tougher. A final note involving Pats quarterback Tom Brady and the driver he ran into (who had run a red light). How long do you think it will take the offending driver to file suit against Tom, just because he’s well-known and has deep pockets?
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror.