Islander's Blog

Archive for February, 2011

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

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If you’re reading these words and you’re on-island, join me and the other few dozen folks that stayed behind during school vacation week. Many island dwellers appreciate the desolate nature of Nantucket in winter. For this week, we have desolate, squared.

To cap off the winter week, on Monday we woke up to (maybe) an inch of snow on the ground, with minimal fine flakes barely adding to the accumulation on our lawn. We watched a dozen cardinals vying for a spot on our bird feeder. I enjoy cardinals for their bright coloring which shows up among the brown foliage at this time, and more so when snow in the background highlights them.

Another bright spot at this point is the elementary school artwork being displayed in town. Second-grade children in Karen “Miss O” Olszewski’s art class have their recent work hung in the window of Pollacks (South Water Street, where Hardy’s used to be) and in the Town & County Building. There will be more to come and Rob Head will be hanging his kids’ work in Pollacks as well. If you have a downtown store that is empty and would like to add color to the window, please contact me. My addresses are at the bottom of this column.

Here’s a great way to spend an early March evening while being enlightened and amused. The second Nantucket Historical Association History Quiz Bowl will be held at the Whaling Museum March 5 at 6 p.m. Nat Philbrick will host that evening, and there’s no charge to attend. Last year was amazing, both from the knowledge elicited and an overflow crowd that had plenty of laughs along the way. If you would like to participate, the fee for a team is $50, and the prizes awarded were worth at least half that much. For information, call Melissa Kershaw at (508) 228-1894, ext. 117. Bye the bye, Melissa is a recent hire for the NHA.

The Point Breeze was another Bob Matthews failure and for now, the bank is left holding the bag. I recently received an article about the failing condition of the unfinished building. Seems there is mold and mildew starting to take hold in the basement. Well, that’s no surprise. It was built on a swamp and underground parking was proposed. That idea made as much sense as the futile attempts to “save” the Sconset Bluff. This is more ruination of nature, for the sake of the ultra-rich. It didn’t and won’t work.

You may have noticed over the years that I have a bad attitude about people who visit for a day or a week, and then write about our tiny sandbar. In the past couple of weeks I’ve received two articles about spending a few days here. Both were written by our British cousins. After reading these pieces, I’ll bet the writers refer to us (privately) as colonists.

The first is titled “Nantucket: Quaint U.S. East Coast island is magnet for rich and famous.” The author – Vivian – then went on to say that she and her husband stayed at the Wauwinet where after a trip to Great Point, she had a massage and met her husband for port and cheese in the library. The next day, they went and stayed at the White Elephant, where her husband had a burger by the pool that cost $28. Vivian noted that “there’s a helluva lot of name-dropping on Nantucket.” Looking at the title of her article, it appears she’s calling the kettle black.

A few days later, Jessamy chimed in. She came here in the fall with her son and daughter (Alabama?). They had spent a few days in New York City and then came here to stay at the Wharf Cottages. The director of Nantucket Island Resorts picked them up at the boat and gave them a short tour along the east side. I’ll bet you weren’t aware that “Nantucket is a city, town, country and an island all in one.” Yikes! The NIR director took them to dinner at the Brant Point Grill. There seems to be something going on with British travel writers hanging out at NIR hotels and restaurants.

In between the jabs at this country and inaccurate “facts” about their former colony, one comment by Jessamy really stuck in my craw. “Thirty miles south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts lies Nantucket. Nantucket is quite a bit larger than nearby Martha’s Vineyard, which is much closer to Boston, more developed and a good deal more chic.” I don’t think any of that, other than how many miles off Cape Cod we are, is the least bit truthful.

Today, at noon, the NHA has Dr. Margot Hartmann speaking at the Whaling Museum. This is another in the Food for Thought series. The topic for this week is “Nantucket’s Hospital in Its Hundredth Year.” There is no charge to attend and Dr. Hartmann is certain to be a most interesting speaker.

Two days from today, the Boston Red Sox split their ranks and play Boston University and Northeastern. The following two days they go up against the Minnesota Twins. This is only the beginning . . .

Should you wish to get in touch, my phone number is (508) 228-4325, e-mail me at dgoodman@nantucket.net, and the mailing address is P.O. Box 1263, Nantucket, MA 02554.
– Goodman’s Gam appears regularly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Yes, folks, it’s true. I witnessed an extremely rare occurrence down at the waterfront early this morning. Snow. While America is buried under three to four feet of snow, we here on Nantucket have only seen snow once this “winter.” It was a welcome surprise to a photog such as myself to see the waterfront covered in a light dusting of the rare white stuff today. Check it out.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Finigan’s Findings

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

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“Slow Down!” The bumper sticker read on the back of an old woody Jeep Wagoneer. “This ain’t the Mainland!”

Of all the Nantucket slogans, (ACK, Life is Good, 20 is Plenty in Sconset) this one has to be my favorite. I love living on this island exactly because of this. It doesn’t feel like America. There’s no Wendy’s, no Wal-Mart and no way off after 9 p.m. I wave to everyone while walking up those funny cobblestones, and beep only to say hello to fellow islanders on Federal Street. 

Over the last few months, I’ve become so at peace with being happy where I am. Some local people have said that you need to have some screws loose to stay here year-round, but I’ve found the exact opposite. I have found that all my winter friends are ambitious, mostly healthy and somewhat sane. The winter is for getting all your ducks in a row. It’s for putting together new projects, jump-starting your seasonal plans while relaxing on an island with no stoplights and nothing but a big old beautiful starry sky to check out some nights.  

Oh man, I know! I’m so positive, it’s annoying.

Well, life is too short to not have a smile on your face. So you can believe the island is ruined by “washashores” and be content as a glass half-empty kinda guy. Or you can find happiness in all the little things of every season like this Finigan does.

I’ve always been a firm believer that any place that takes a lot of effort to get to is that much more worth it when you finally arrive. No place has solidified this belief more for me than our little island. Honestly, how many times have we gotten stuck in America, cursing the fact that there’s no bridge from Sandwich to Surfside? How many boats have we been booked on that have gotten canceled due to rough water, or planes postponed because of high winds? Yes, this place is that much different from Barnstable and Boston that we just about cry when we hear about Nantucket weather delays. “I just want to get bACK!” And when our feet take those awkward three steps down off the plane at the airport, we take a deep breath to be safe and sound on the ground, inhaling that fresh Nantucket air that I just wish you could bottle for those city people.

I talk to dozens of people every day. Hey, as a bartender out here, aside from pouring the Chardonnay, I get to listen to people whine. Oh, the amount of snow you people have in Brookline and Brooklyn! Oh, the forever traffic you are constantly stuck in! Those stoplights that never turn green, and all those people who throw their glass away in their garbage! No one recycles the way you guys do in Nantucket.

When everyone told me how “hard” my first winter out here would be, well, I just sit back at the Bean and smile. No snow boots on, no down jacket zipped up, and no sign of my breath as I fall in love with the island all over again this Valentine’s Day. 

After six seasons here on Nantucket and winters on other continents and beaches, I’ve found this. I’ve chosen this island over weddings and birthday parties, over family reunions and summer family vacations. I’ve chosen Nantucket over Boston flings, Uruguayan loves, Hawaiian best friends and New Zealand life partners. I’ve chosen the Rock over Maui, Mendoza, Montevideo and Mount Maunganui. And this winter, I’ve begun to realize what makes the 02554 100 percent worth all the sacrifices. 

Because after all, this ain’t the mainland. And I’ve slowed down enough this winter to realize that’s the main reason why I love Nantucket.
– Finigan’s Findings appears regularly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

Goodman’s Gam

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

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Moderate weather condi tions are continuing to favor Nantucket this winter, although most of February and all of March could have sur prises in store, and I’ve seen snow in April (twice). Not that I’d mind six to 12 inches of fluffy snow to fall, and then melt in a few days. Our school-kids are far ahead of their mainland brethren when it comes to making up snow days. There are likely to be schools in America that will be in session until July.

I was driving out toward the airport this morning, noticing how much traffic there was on Old South Road. Most roads are less traveled at present. The plethora of vehicles brought back the mem ory of the first time I set foot on-is land. It was Feb. 19, 1971, 40 years ago. I landed at the old airport on an Air New England Twin Otter.

Collecting my bag, I hailed a taxi (Mr. Glidden) and was amazed on the ride into town.There wasn’t a single car to be seen from the air port until we went through the Ro tary. From there to 5 Liberty St. (owned by the Flanagans, now oc­cupied by Town Clerk Catherine Flanagan Stover and her family) I spied another half dozen cars. I im mediately thought this was the right place to live.

Nantucket has changed in many ways, but to me, this is the best place I’ve been.As frustrating as our small sandbar may be at times, when I visit the mainland, it seems harder and tougher than here. I don’t need ID to pay by check at local establishments, and other than a couple of summer months, there are few lines, both in stores and in traffic.We’ve got it easy and easy is good.

For all of the complaints people direct at the Stop & Shop, I’d like to say that the people working there are our neighbors and friends. The employees are cheer ful and helpful and I for one am appreciative. Their (relatively) new half-sized shopping carts are life-savers. The exterior is cleaner than it used to be. Now, if we only paid the same prices as they do in Hyannis . . .

There are few things more wel come than a loaf of Portuguese bread. Something Natural has a great loaf, as does the Nantucket Bake Shop. Then I discovered the SN herb bread and later their Challah. Now I’ve been picking up a loaf of their raisin bread every week. Not too sweet and once toasted, it’s heaven. Then there’s the new kid on the block, Petticoat Row Bakery. Aren’t we lucky to have three outstanding bakeries?

Another month, another armed robbery. How refreshing to see an alleged drug dealer calling in the authorities when he’s ripped off by his alleged customers. It reminds me of a woman who traded sex for cash, outside a local bar, back in the 1970s.The gentleman involved decided not to pay. She spoke to a cop, who told her he’d be glad to ar rest the man for larceny, and then charge her for prostitution.At that point, she thought better of bring ing charges. I believe that’s known as an unhappy ending.

Last week when Mike Sturgis caught me outside of Marine Lum ber to tell me hewas going to take over the Jared Coffin House’s main dining room and the patio, I was ecstatic. This is long past due. I knowthis is goingtobeaboon for downtown.

The unfortunate part of this is that it appears that the Tap Room is going to lie fallow for the time being. I remember when the Tap Room was the site for Wednesday night après Selectmen meetings. That’s when the board members sat down with their beverages and planned the agenda for the follow ing week’s meeting.

You may remember that Rhoda Weinman had two of her dogs shown at last year’s West minster Dog Show.This is the aim of any breeder, or dog owner, so you have to give Rhoda (and her dachshunds) kudos. Now Ms. Weinman has upped the ante and all three of her dogs are going for the gold in this year’s Westminster. This is unheard of and is beyond any dog owner’s wildest dreams. Good luck next week!

The Westminster is aired on Monday evening (Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14), from 8-9 p.m. on the USA Network (Comcast channel 35) and then continues on CNBC (channel 46) from 9-11 p.m. On Tuesday the entire show is on USA, from 8-11 p.m. If you love dogs, and around here, that’s most of us, here’s a chance to watch the best of the best.

Next Monday, Red Sox pitchers and catchers show up for spring training. Sox fans are revved up about the coming season, as well they ought to be. This promises to be a tremendous year.
– Goodman’s Gam appears regularly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

Finigan’s Findings

Monday, February 7th, 2011

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“I read that column of yours,” he said as he finished his patty-melt during a busy LoLa lunch. “At first I thought, ‘what the hell does this girl know about Nantucket’?” he grimaced, looked away and muttered, “but I guess you do write good.”

As a new extra-cheerful year-rounder, I’ve recently realized there seems to be a little hesitancy from a few locals to other “newer” locals. I consider myself pretty “in the know” when it comes to this island. As a bartender, I often felt like people just sat with me to learn where to go and not go, and just thought the quick buzz was a bonus. But after a January here, I felt a little resentment from friends sarcastically naming me “hunkered down Holly” and letting me know by Facebook message that spending a week in St John and Christmas in the Bahamas made me that much less of a year-rounder. 

I think we all can agree that Nantucket is quite the special place. Once you get comfortable here, you often find yourself telling the tourists what they want to hear while keeping all those “Nantucket’s best-kept secrets” to yourself. (Ahem! Maddequecham…) But as a winter resident, I’ve recently wondered if the locals are doing to me what I see done to summer people, keeping those little hidden gems to themselves. Maybe they think I’m just a winter tourist! 

So I decided over the last month to do a little R&D of my own. Here are some of my new winter findings:

Holly Finigan’s winter hot spot is the Atheneum. Honestly, I’ve always thought this, but how amazing is our library? Free Internet! All the latest Islands and InStyle magazines! More movies than I could ever watch, even during the dullest of winter months! I took out two travel books and a new(ly) released DVD last Tuesday and it made my whole week!

I’ve found that I can have a $5 burger at three different restaurants, three different nights of the week. I by no means usually dine on a budget, but this makes it even more affordable to go out on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays!

She shops Saturday sales. Say that ten times fast! Sure, our stores may have some serious various hours and days, but how great are the sales downtown right now? With the holidays over, I finally feel like I can buy myself something. Oh OK, with half-off shoes and 40-percent-off jewelry, maybe I can buy myself some very nice things! 

Petticoat Row. Yes, it’s the name of that beautiful bakery on Centre Street (yes! it’s year-round!) but also, the other Petticoat Row, whose monthly meeting I recently attended. After this women-in-business group’s gathering, I felt empowered by this extraordinary group of ladies who all flourish on Nantucket and want to help other women do the same.

You can see me driving Thelma and Louise style to get to that Cisco cliff for sunset. In the summer, it’s Madakat for me, but now Cisco has my heart and my gorgeous photos since that Jack Frost came to town.

Looks like three established dining spots will each have a new sister restaurant this year. I love being in the “know” here in Nantucket restaurant industry now.

My new Sanford Farm walk is now the Miacomet Pond trail. A beautiful walking trail directly to my favorite beach? I’m lacing up my sneakers right now.

And finally, you know what I’ve found? I smile. A lot. Not just because I love this island and have been happy to “hunker down” here while so many others have opted to globe-trot. It’s because I’ve found nothing more appealing than a work commute with no traffic, an afternoon stroll along the quiet cobblestones, and a pot-luck dinner and a Whales Tale with some good friends to celebrate our very own ACK TGIF.

And for all those out there who still think “what the heck do I know about Nantucket?” or those who wish to make me more in the Nantucket know … you can e-mail me at hollyfinigan@gmail.com. 
– ”Finigan’s Findings” appears regularly in this spot and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror