One summer day when I was a kid my cousin and I took two fishing poles down to the yacht club where we caught two fish (flounder) from the end of the club's dock. We brought them back, still on the lines, to her house. "If you can't take the fish off the line don't go fishing," said my uncle sternly. And thus ended my fishing career. I successfully made it through six years working for a fishing magazine without having to touch a fish much less having to remove one from a hook. But it all ended yesterday at the breakwater when I had to help my kids disengage mackerel from their fishing poles because they were catching so many that my cousin Joseph and two old-timer bystanders couldn't keep up with removing fish and unsnarling the boys' lines. In the end there were 44 fish in the bucket and only a few that got away. Thirty-plus years later and the fish felt just as slimy as I remembered.
Last year when we were on our way to Nova Scotia Whitey Bulger (who went to high school with my aunt) was finally apprehended. This year we learned about Neil Armstrong's death while staying overnight at the Holiday Inn Express in St. Johns New Brunswick. My parents think the first time they brought me to "visit the cousins" I was a year old - 1969 - maybe it was in July, when Mr. Armstrong was walking on the moon.
My grandmother was born in Canada. She was one of more than 10 siblings. A few I can still name: Leona, Agnes, Catherine - and of course my grandmother - Matilda.
My grandmother came to the states and married my grandfather, but lots of her siblings stayed put. The result of this is that there's a small town in Nova Scotia where we are related to everyone.
When he was a kid my dad was sent by my grandmother to her hometown where he would stay for the summer with his cousins.
He took my mother here on their honeymoon and brought me for the first time when I was a year old.
I can't remember 43 years back but for as far back as I can remember, this town has changed very little. Houses have been repainted, a few are gone and a handful have been built. Satellite dishes and clothes lines used to dot every lawn, the clothes lines remain but satellite seems to have given way to cable.
We used to come during April vacation when I was a kid and when I got older right after college let out in May. Sometimes I would tag along going to school with my cousins and in the evenings we would hang out in the shed listening to Duran Duran while surrounded by salted fish that was hanging up to dry.
My sister would play in the yard with neighbor kids who didn't speak English and not notice.
Now my kids come and trail after my cousin Joseph who takes them fishing and lets them climb on the roof of the same shed.
The dominant industry in town remains fishing related while hand-painted signs out in front of houses advertise the side jobs of the resourceful occupants who live in them: smoked mackerel, fire wood, fresh bread, quilts.
I am always struck by repeatedly seeing my grandmother's surname on mailboxes and street signs, in amongst the Surettes, Doucets, and Boudreaus. I feel a sense of belonging to this timeless and welcoming place.
It's true that you can't go home again but lucky for me I'll always have Wedgeport.
Yesterday's post reminded me of how I used to try and find Lynyrd Skynyrd in the cassette racks at Strawberries when I was in the 10th grade. I wanted to buy a recording of Freebird but could never find it because I thought Lynyrd Skynyrd was a persons's name, so I was forever looking under Leonard and of course I didn't know how to spell Skynyrd either.
Miles to Saint Johns: 475
Number of Red Bulls it took to get there: 1
Maine Turnpike: expensive
Maine Turnpike rest stops: lottery ticket magnets
Towing a Mini Cooper behind your super enormous Winnebago: misleading
My car: trailing another piece of half-torn plastic
Hotel pool: open until 11!
So we're watching Star Wars Episdoe II and Obi-Wan Kenobi goes off to investigate some planet that's not on the galactic map and while there goes along with it when he's mistaken for another jedi knight. And my kids and I say - "Hey! That's just like what happened when Aunt Sally thought Huck Finn was Tom Sawyer!" Are there no new plot lines left? Even in a galaxy far far away?
So we're in the toy store yesterday and H is trying to choose a LEGO Star Wars set and I voice my apprehension over all of them. "it's just that they are all about fighting and battles." I say. "But Mom, the movies ARE all about fighting and battles," he counters. Touché. And another thing, if the Star Wars prequels are so bad - why are the DVDs from the library always scratched up and skipping?
It's funny when you go outside in a lightening storm to rescue your four children who are sleeping in a tent and when you get there the nine and seven year olds are both jonesing to go in tout suite but your four years olds are both still sleeping.
So - you ran the Falmouth Road Race and you think you're pretty special?
There are many unsung heros of this race. People who are in fact mentioned (a lot) as being unsung heros, by people who don't understand the concept of an unsung hero. You've got your medical tent volunteers, the people who hand out water and set up prior to the race early Sunday morning or man the number pick up table days before the actual race. How about the people who repaint the numbers on the road a week prior to the race and always get their photo in the paper doing it? How unsung isn't that?
You want to know who the real unsung hero of the FRR is? It's me.
That's right. Me.
Not people like me - people who get their kids down to their designated race viewing spot before any of the runners have gone by and plant themselves there until the fat lady sings, or in the case of a road race, the police cruiser goes by to signal the unofficial end of the race - but me.
Not only do I drag my kids down to the race so they can see their dad go by even though he doesn't always see us because he's in that phantom running zone when he goes by our spot, but this year I purchased special noisemakers instead of just raiding our musical instruments bin as in past years. This allowed us not only to make more noise ourselves (it's the one day out of 365 when I encourage my children to make as much noise as possible and even join in the fray) but to include other noiseless onlookers in the festivities. In this way we single-handedly spurred on 12,000+ runners.
And for the record, I've run the FRR, and standing on the side of the road ringing a cowbell and yelling through the entire race is much harder.
I love that the runners now sport their names on their bibs. It makes my job so much easier and more personal.
"Way to go William!"
"Great job Matthew!"
"Lookin' good Susan!"
"You, yes you! I'm talking to you!"
And did I mention the cowbell?
What runner doesn't appreciate a good cowbell?
We got lots of chants of "more cowbell!" by runners applauding our efforts.
That's what I like to see. You're out there plodding over a seven-mile course amid heat and humidity and YOU are cheering for us.
But on the other hand. Why shouldn't you?
Hell, I ended up with a good-sized scrape (blood!) on the knuckle of my middle finger due to prolonged cowbelling. Where's my medical tent?
You, you put your mind to it and you could be done in an hour and down on the ballfield pigging out on snacks. "It's like a supermarket," reported C.
Where's my finish-line smorgasbord?
Not to mention all the preface actives like watching the elite mile and participating in the Falmouth Walk, three miles in the rain on Saturday. Was it raining during Sunday's race? I think not.
But back to the race.
The waiting - as Tom Petty said - really is the hardest part.
We waited and we waited. At least you get to run.
We just stand around waiting. And if we turn away for a split second - WHAM - we miss you! So we never turn away. We wait and while we wait we cheer on the rising sea of runners until the tsunami has quelled to a mere ripple of stragglers. And still we wait to see everyone that we're expecting to see. And even after we see them we can't leave. Because those folks at the end, who are walking, they need cowbell love even more than the middle of the packers.
Plus I feel guilty packing up in front of them.
"Yes we're leaving. So long suckers. You've got two more miles to go!"
And I even had enough energy left over for the post race party at 43 Sippewissett Road.
And that's why I am the unsung hero of the 2012 FRR.
See you next year.
Don't forget the meteor shower tonight if the clouds break.
Last night H surmised that when you wish on a shooting star - "the wish goes up to God and God tells it to Santa."
"Yes." I said. "That's exactly what happens."
C and I made a ship in a bottle at the Woods Hole Historical Society last Saturday. The workshop was advertised as taking place from 10 AM to 12:30 PM. We were the second family to leave (read that as we were the second family to finish - woohoo!) and we didn't leave until almost 2 PM.
Just for the record - putting a ship in a bottle is hard. Really hard.
You think there's some sort of trick to it like the back of the bottle comes off or the ship folds down flat and then pops up once it's inside the bottle. Alas no. There is no trick. Only a few handy tools you have to make yourself and a lot of patient perseverance.
This is hard. Really hard I thought while we struggled repeatedly to get our sails into tiny holes on the ship's deck. On the other hand I thought how lucky it was that sailors didn't have cell phones back in the day. If they had you can forget about a rich naval history full of intricate ships inside bottles, turks head knot bracelets, scrimshaw or lightship baskets. With smart phones all sailors would have to show for their months at sea would be a lot of high scores on Angry Birds.
It's generous that the village association in Falmouth offers a free family movie night on Wednesdays at Peg Noonan Park - and I don't mean to complain - but who's picking these movies? I didn't bring the boys in July because the movie choices were bad and the August selections aren't much better. A Cop and a Half? Dudley Do-Right? ED? Tooth Fairy II? At least the first Tooth Fairy had parental eye-candy The Rock in the lead and a whopping 4.8 on the IMDb Richter scale. The sequel with Larry the Cable Guy only comes in at a mere 3.8. But even that beats Cop and a Half at 3.4 and Dudley Do-Right at 3.6 both of which look like Citizen Kane next to ED which, at 2.4, is the lowest score I've ever seen on IMDb where even Waterworld got a respectable 5.9. The highest-rating movie in the bunch looks like it was the first offering, Mirror, Mirror - a retelling of Snow White starring Julia Roberts that scored a whopping 5.6 but still couldn't best Waterworld. At least I hope that's the Mirror, Mirror they showed and not the 1990 horror flick of the same name. If you're going to go out of your way to show free movies why not make them worth viewing? Over at Mashpee Commons, they've shown the oscar-award-winning Hugo along with Pirates of the Caribbean, Jaws (okay so maybe I wouldn't take my kids to that yet but you gotta admit, it's a good movie), and Casablanca. Even their final movie of the series, Dolphin Tale, which I've never heard of, ranked a more than acceptable 6.7 on IMDb.
Now I realize both towns are merely trying to lure you to their venues so you'll stick around and shop - or come early and shop before the flick. So maybe Falmouth has the right idea, show a really bad movie and maybe everyone will clear out of the park early thereby getting in more shopping. Or maybe we'll all just see our free movies in Mashpee.