“Utterly at peace.” Suzy mentioned this morning, talking about our recent weekend on the Cape, how relaxed she had felt: listening to the radio, knitting, sitting in the chair in the sun in between helping me when I needed a hand. We had hit some warm water for swimming at Boat Meadow Beach. Our first day the air was in the high 80’s and the tide was coming in over the sand flats and the water was 70 degrees. Absolutely salty and lovely. I stayed in for 15 minutes, Suzy longer.. Not bad for May 19th. Wine, Campfire. Long chats. Walking the beach.
We got quite a few things done on the cabin. I had three items on this trip’s agenda: 1. Pay for, prepare and launch the mooring up in Wellfleet 2. insulate and sheetrock behind where the kitchen counter will go and install the counter 3. install the dry well for the outside shower. And we did them all!!!! Yeah. The counter top is not quite in yet- some leveling issues, but I got all the uprights in and the counter top is on top of them. The building is now out of level quite substantially. It appears to be sinking. ARRRGHH. Do I shim up the counter, or the building? Well of course I should shim up the building. Sono tubes. Sinking in the sand.
The mooring was fun to launch. I know John Milliken- we called him La Foote in the good old days, after the pirate Jean Lafitte. LaFoote rode a kneeboard and tried to convince the rest of us surf rats it was better. You can’t convince a surfer to give up his board. What are you crazy? LaFoote was an instructor at some surf camp in Nicaragua where he developed the nickname Dr. Ding. It wasn’t because he beat boards up; it was because he did repairs so well. I was going to take the mooring out of my truck and carry it down to the dock when John said to wait. He came back with a handtruck and a typically clever comment, “I’ve learned all I need to know about hard work. Use this.”
I’d brought my dory up to row the mooring out where it goes, but Lennie was headed out in the skiff and offered to take me out to drop the mooring. He’s just had a very successful three disc repair done to his back and said he wouldn’t lift it. I was thrilled not to have to launch my dory and row out then row back and get the dory back on the trailer. I got the mooring into the skiff, then went along as Lennie checked what he had to check and tossed the mooring over where Lennie said to. It’s a nice feeling to be a little part of a harbor.
Looks nice. Next trip up, we”ll launch the Sturdee Cat, a fourteen foot catboat. Cape Cod is cat boat country.. Here’s a Sturdee Cat they rent out in Wellfleet. Ours will be off to the left a quarter of a mile, tucked in behind the jetty.
Here is what I am going to feel like when I sail it.
The dry well and the insulation and the sheetrock are not as much fun. Insulation feels good to finish and it makes the cabin warmer. Sheetrock, too, you jsut want to finish. I just did the lower half of the back wall so I could install my clever plywood sandwiches that will hold up the counter and give me a place to put drawers. I’ll face these plywood separators with some cherry, put in the drawers, and volia! Kitchen. The counter top is two inch pine. I had a board 25 inches wide, that I had sawn from logs we cut in our back yard in Storrs. I did not want to plane it by hand, though and so had to cut it down to fit through my 13 inch Dewalt planer. Then I joined it back together to 25 inches with a few butterfly mortises. You can just see one of the mortises on the right end of the counter. Three coast of urethane, and it’s a pretty nice top.
The drywell is astoundingly satisfying to install. I worked for Ralph Mayo when I was a young college kid. 1967. He pumped out and built cesspools. I’d dug a cesspool myself as a kid for our cottage on Oak Ridge Road. My wife thinks I’m crazy and so do a lot of people, but I always loved to dig. Most outgrow it, but at a critical age, my dad let me dig a whole cesspool by myself on the east end of our cottage. He’d helped dig the one at the west end. I think that may have been why he let me dig the second one all by myself. I was thrilled. Somewhere there is a picture of this goofy little kid, leaning on a short handled shovel, at the bottom of a ten foot deep hole six feet around sporting a white t shirt and jeans, a butch haircut and a great big grin. I was 11. I’ve been hooked ever since. Working for Ralph was nothing but fun for me. I didn’t mind the pumping, although at first I was repulsed. Ralph laughed. He said, “In a couple of weeks you’ll be pumping out a pool and the noon whistle will blow and you’ll just grab your lunch and sit right down while it’s pumpin’, dangle your feet in the hole and eat. You won’t even wash your hands.” This did not come true, but you do get pretty used to it. Except for kitchen cesspools. Oh god are they disgusting. You probably don’t want any details, but that grey, greasy sludge is much worse than a bathroom one. Of course there’s quite a lot more I could tell you about cesspools, and their evolution from holes in the ground lined with stone or cement block to septic systems with tanks, and leech fields and stone, but you’ll have to read that in my memoir. It’s pretty interesting, really.
So this drywell was a mini cesspool. I punched a bunch of 3/4 inch holes in a 55 gallon plastic barrel I had. Once when Ralph and I were putting in a new pool down by the beach in Eastham we dug up the old one and it was a 55 gallon barrel that had been attacked with an ax for drainage. It had lasted twenty years. The Cape has good drainage. This will last longer. Plastic, plus I surrounded it with a ton of stone. I brought up a half ton from home, and then zipped over to Easy Doze It in Wellfleet. and got another load from Dennis. He refused any money. We’re neighbors. Isn’t that nice? His son Zach loaded me up and I went very happily home to fill in my drywell.
Old man digging. Young dog supervising.
Completed hole. A thing of beauty to some.
Filled hole- barrel and stone and pipe from the shower. Now that’s good lookin’!
Yes and I got to swing an ax a lot when digging the trench because of all the roots. I’m fairly easily amused.
One last thing. You’ve been very nice, to listen while I go on about septic systems. Saturday night we went to the package store to buy a corkscrew. We’d bought a bottle of wine Friday night but when we were back at the cabin had no way to open it. We have a corkscrew in our van, but I do not keep one in my pick up truck, sad, but true. While in the package store I hear the word fiddle, I look up and through the gloom of four decades think I recognize a face. “That’s not Bill Hardy?” It was Bill Hardy. We had not seen each other in it has to be pretty much forty years. And he’s still playing fiddle. He invited Suzy and me to come over Monday night to join him and Beth and some others playing and we chickened out this time. We had to get going on Monday, but I stopped by to apologize and he gave me a couple of CD’s which we rocked out to on the way home. Great music! We hope to go see him play and if you get a chance you might, too. He plays at a tavern in Boston regularly and I think at the Land Ho in Harwich. Here’s a link to his website.
And here’s a link to Land Ho, which is an institution on Cape Cod.