Islander's Blog

Archive for November, 2010

Goodman’s Gam

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

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This is it. Thanksgiving is the beginning of a month of eating and drinking too much, (mostly) unhealthy food and beverages. Next up is Stroll Weekend, with dinner parties. After that there are Christmas parties, ending in the greatest eating festival of the year, December 25th. New Year’s Eve is merely a cherry on the top of our early winter eating binge. Not that I’m complaining…

I noticed a couple of changes that have taken place in the past year, concerning the late fall/winter dining scene here. Several restaurants are now emphasizing gourmet Thanksgiving dinners. I don’t remember as many eateries providing this service before. The food will be superior to what many mothers and grandmothers could prepare.

The other changes are restaurants remaining open, or reopening for the Stroll Weekend. Several top end spots closed weeks ago and won’t be open again until the spring. In the past, they would open, with a partial crew and then pick up other help for the weekend. Service was often late and uncoordinated at best.

It appears that the fall sports season for our schools is over. On Monday afternoon, I drove by the High School. Students were out behind the windmill, which was steadily spinning in the breeze. Does this mean that it’s safe for kids to be playing under the blades when sports aren’t in season, but not, when they are?

I signed up for alerts from Google a couple of years back. Most of the time the word Nantucket shows up on the web, I receive notice of it and a link to click on if I desire to read it. All too many of the notices are for places that someone deigned to name after this island. Then, Nantucket is now used to sell home goods and furniture. Nantucket Style is another name used by quite a few designers and off island women, most of who have never been here.

Don’t forget to go down to Children’s Beach by 10 am tomorrow to watch people do the Cold Turkey Plunge. One of the best parts of the morning is seeing faces that are now out and about, after hibernating over the summer months. And, there will be summer faces who have come down for the holiday weekend.

Next, we have shotgun season for deer, beginning on Monday morning. This is a good time to curtail walking outside. Most hunters are responsible people, but all it takes is a single idiot to do deadly damage. Over the years, we have all seen the results of bad hunters.

Back in the seventies, Saturday, around noon, the deer season ended for off island hunters. You’d see them hanging out around Main Street, many with deer mounted on their vehicles, waiting until the boat was ready to be loaded. One year, a couple of guys (Cisco was one), decided to perform a little street drama. They had a VW convertible, with the driver dressed as a deer and a hunter slung over the back of the car. Needless to say, all but the visiting hunters loved the show.

I miss those activities today. This sort of fun is gone, due to a lack of characters here today. At least we may look forward to watching never ending fur coats traipsing through town next week.

Have a great Thanksgiving!
Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

The Findings of Holly Finigan

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

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“How did you end up here?”
We’ve all heard this question time and time again living on Nantucket. And there are countless fascinating answers. We all came to Nantucket for different reasons. Many of us were born here. Some came because a friend of a friend told them about this island. Others fell onto the Rock because of a landscaping or waitressing job opportunity. Some “washashores” arrived for a girl’s weekend and stayed for two years. Others thought about postponing the city life and extended their stay at Surfside way past when their dreams faded of becoming a broker on Wall Street or owning a boutique on Fifth Avenue. 

A very wise friend once told me, islands are finding yourself, or losing yourself. Here is how I found myself on Nantucket. I was born in Concord, Mass., and have two sisters, and parents who divorced before I knew what that word meant. I grew up in Hanover, N.H., which is where my grandparents retired as my single mother wanted to be closer to them. I wore a back brace for seven years from scoliosis. I was a nerdy and gangly teenager, and that is actually putting it nicely. I played the piano while all the cooler kids played soccer. I had braces in high school. And yes, I had a back brace and braces on my teeth for ninth and 10th grade. I wrote in countless journals and always took 10 books out of the Howe library, which was the limit per person, per week.

I had a beer for the first time when I was 16, and I thought it tasted like rotten ginger ale. I applied to all Southern colleges in hopes of reinventing myself someplace far, far away from Hanover. I got wait-listed everywhere except my safety state school. I dragged my heels and transfer papers to Durham, N.H. where I studied journalism at UNH. They failed to mention in Newswriting 101 that journalism means career bartending in the “Real World.” I began working as a bar-back at an Irish pub. I excelled at selling Guinness and smiling at everyone. I wrote for the UNH newspaper and had my own column. I joined a sorority and met my “big sister” who was a (gasp!) Nantucket native. I loved every moment at UNH and reluctantly graduated in May of 2005. 

Then, there was the summer that changed everything.

My first summer after college, my sorority big sister invited me to live with her family out at Cisco. I moved to Nantucket the weekend before Memorial Day and got stuck in Hyannis for the first two days trying to get over to the island due to high winds and a nor’easter. (Shocking, right?) I arrived on Nantucket just in time for Figawi weekend. I worked my tail off at Schooner’s Restaurant for three months. I fell in love with the island, but to prove that I was “above” waiting tables with my college degree, I moved to Boston, trying to do the whole health-insurance-salary-”Real-World” thing. I hated it and arrived back on Nantucket the following May with a permanent grin.

I spent the last five seasons bartending at fine-dining establishments like the Brant Point Grille, Lo La 41, and Corazon del Mar. I took the winters as an opportunity to see the world, traveling through the Caribbean, New Zealand, Hawaii, Argentina and Uruguay.

As for this off-season? Well, that’s the real story.

This winter, I might just take that Cape Air flight to Hyannis for a movie. Maybe I’ll walk the full seven miles at Sanford Farm. Or perhaps I’ll finally just check out the Whaling Museum.

I’m staying for my first real Nantucket winter. The good, (Stroll) the bad, (4 p.m. sunsets) and the ugly (March, right?)

And although I may not be anyone’s travel muse this coming off-season, I am more in love with Nantucket than ever. So why leave for greener pastures when my whole self has been found along the shores of Madaket?

And so begin the Findings of Holly Finigan.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

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The wind generator located behind Nantucket High School has turned into a farce, rather than a green-energy producer for the school. I won’t say it isn’t educational, but is the lesson for the students how a bad public-relations job has made the entire project look like the Three Stooges organized this fiasco.

Originally, the generator was going to be placed well away from the school building, down by a cemetery. Then someone bollixed that up (and I don’t mean the HDC) and the tower was put next to the school, a bad idea for any number of reasons.

The wind (non) generator sat listless for weeks and this community was left in the dark with no solid explanation from . . . well, who is in charge of this mess. Finally, we began to see the blades turning, occasionally, very occasionally. Then, for a few days it appeared as if the turbine was up and running. Now we’re told that the generator won’t run when school is in session. At least until the sports season is over.

They’re telling us that the machine is safe and there’s nothing to worry about. I don’t know about you, but not running the generator when kids are in the vicinity, or if there’s the possibility of ice being thrown from the blades, doesn’t make me feel safe, or the kid’s chances to escape becoming shish-kabob. Either it’s safe, or it isn’t. Run it 24/7 if things really are fine. If not, move it, or shut it down. I like green energy, but only in the proper place.

Thanksgiving takes place a week from today. I’ve always loved the holiday, not just because of the surfeit of food. Almost every American celebrates Thanksgiving, no matter their religious persuasion or race. Native Americans were in on the first party and there aren’t any bad things that came from that dinner. Give me roast turkey, stuffing, gravy and I’m good for the better part of a week in a Thanksgiving coma.

Another feature of next Thursday is the Cold Turkey Plunge. I’m never averse to watching perfectly sane people run into cold water for a good cause. When I leave the aftermath at Children’s Beach (sans goosebumps), I feel good and ready to go home, stuff my face, then lie around feeling delightfully lazy.

You may or may not have noticed something missing on Main Street. Almost all of the utility poles between Pacific National Bank and Pleasant Street have been removed and the wires buried. Now any existing downtown poles need to be replaced to complete the beautification.

I noticed that the DPW was setting out Christmas trees in the core district on Tuesday. This year, the bushes, (and they are that diminutive), should be much easier for school kids to decorate. To my mind, smaller trees are a good idea. Even small trees are expensive. Having them in all of the usual spots is nice to see. As long as the larger trees at each end of Main Street are impressive, all is well.

Once again, I’m looking for downtown businesses to volunteer window space for Nantucket Elementary School students to display they’re artwork. For the past few years we’ve managed to get all 600-plus students’ work posted in different locations. Mitchell’s Book Corner was the first when they underwent renovations. The Town and County Building is another favorite spot to hang the kids’ art. Town employees have told me they appreciate seeing more color in the hallways.

Here’s one more good thing to say about Thanksgiving this year. The Patriots will be playing the Detroit Lions shortly after noon that day. This could impact dinner time in some households. Either eat early, or wait until the game ends in mid-afternoon. Life can be so demanding at times.

For readers who wish to comment on my random thoughts, my phone number is (508) 228-4325. You can write me at P.O. Box 1263, Nantucket, MA, 02554, or e-mail me at

– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, November 12th, 2010

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I have waited for weeks to see the windmill at Nantucket High School begin to turn in the breeze. Last weekend while heading home from grocery shopping, there it was. I turned to drive up behind the school. Coming up alongside the windmill, two things leaped out at me. First, there were dozens of kids playing right below the turbine, and second, how little noise was being (no pun intended) generated as the blades whirled around.

The proximity of the blades to so many kids running about brought home thoughts of the Bartlett’s Farm generator and its wayward contraption. It made me think that location, location, location is the key here. I wouldn’t have thought twice about the kids, had the high-school whirligig been placed down by the cemetery.

If there ever is an accident, it would take place right next to the high school and many students that are in the area daily. Somebody moved the oversized whirligig from down by the cemetery, and placed it up against the school. Now its original spot is a school-bus parking lot. Somebody tell me this is a good substitution, both visually and from the safety of Nantucket’s children. I am all for windmills, as long as they are in the proper location, whether in Nantucket Sound or in the schoolyard.

For the past few weeks, downtown Nantucket streets have been positively barren. Most days, it’s a simple task to find a parking space anywhere one looks. Unless you travel back in time to the late 1970s, I can’t remember seeing so few vehicles and pedestrians out and about in the middle of most days.

You could blame the paucity of people downtown on the slow economy, but from what I see and hear there appears to be more construction going on this fall and winter than the last couple years. I hear workers complain that they don’t have as much work as in the past. On the other side, many more guys I know have sufficient work for themselves and their crews. Other carpenters and craftsmen with years of experience seem to be working steadily.

I certainly don’t believe we’re out of the woods, yet things are looking up. I’m seeing more worksites with various subcontractors scurrying about. The one thing that could hurt this scenario is the scarcity of scallops. That will mean there are going to be fishermen without work on the water who will now be looking for labor on the land.

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed downtown businesses that sweep or rake trash and leaves from their sidewalks into the adjacent street(s). I believe this is called littering. It shows a bad attitude and is deserving of a warning, or a summons.

Next up, cleaning snow and ice up in front of stores and homes in the core district as we get further into winter. Thank you to people that take the time to make sidewalks safe when they’re slippery. To those who don’t, think of the many senior citizens trying to walk while dealing with sidewalks that are challenging when dry, not to mention when there’s clotted snow and chunks of ice to deal with.

As of today, we have endured a week of rainy, damp, gray, windy weather. Going forth from today (Thursday) the weekend is supposed to be bright and wonderful. I hope so, as this continual dreary weather is making me feel that the price we are paying for a nearly-perfect summer has come due.

– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space, and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

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Nantucket voters showed up at the polls in decent numbers on Tuesday. I feel that we made good choices in our local sheriff’s race and again in our semi-local races for State House and Senate. I’m waiting to hear if Dan Wolf is going to come out and promise us a ticket in every pot. Tim Madden ran unopposed and to my mind that says he has done his job well.

Massachusetts voted to keep statewide office-holders where they are, affirming that the state may not be fiscally perfect, but things are looking brighter here than in other states. We’ve heard a lot of claims about what has taken place while Deval Patrick has occupied the corner office. It’s true he started out slowly and made a few dumb moves. Now he’s shown he can work with the legislature and unemployment is beginning to turn around.

Another win for the good guys is the election of Bill Keating over Jeff Perry, a compromised, retired cop. Mr. Perry has that mad Tea Party attitude that’s against, against, against most everything. Other than that, he has little to offer unless you were to count platitudes as a plan.

I was one of the registrars that helped residents at Our Island Home cast their absentee ballots last Monday. It amazes me to see our elders are still immersed in the political arena. Most of these folks at OIH are in their 80s and 90s, and I had the honor of helping a woman who is over 100 cast her ballot.

So, why are there so many people that are in their 20s and 30s who can’t get off their buns, get to Nantucket High School and then cast their ballot? This is reminiscent of going to Town Meeting and seeing a couple dozen 40-year-old (and younger) voters. People often say that they can’t be there to vote as they have children to take care of. To my mind, not coming out to help with how our government works won’t take care of your children, or their future.

Here is another great thing (among many others) taking place at Our Island Home. Kathy Duncombe spends hours and hours every week with many of the residents, helping to bring out their artistic abilities. One of the women hadn’t spent time painting in her youth (up until a month ago) and right off the bat showed she could be selling her work. It was superb!

Kathy’s endeavors show how much our elder citizens have to give. Plus, Kathy plays great music (modern) that her artists enjoy, along with coaching them in a friendly atmosphere. Another volunteer who spends her time making life cheerful for residents at 9 East Creek Road is the lovely Wendy Garrabrant.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a point of celebrating my new free shellfish permit. I finally realized the benefit of getting older. I had just had my first brush with it and the perks accompanying passing into my sixth decade. A week later, the town cerk and her two assistants assured me I’d missed another freebie. The street guide is now free as well. Am I missing anything else?

A mugging on Main Street? Say it not so. Why are people surprised this happened? Even in good places, there are going to be some jerks. And, we have both home-grown and imported bad eggs. It sounds as if these bozos have an IQ that is not (and never will be) in the three-digit range.

Temperatures this week have now managed to get down to early-winter levels. We’re now on the road to Thanksgiving and the Christmas Stroll. Maybe the Stroll will help some local businesses, though it appears that several eateries (that used to) are not going to open their doors over that weekend. Better make dinner reservations early, if you want to see and be seen.

Don’t forget that Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 a.m. Before you go to bed that evening, set your clocks back an hour.

Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror.