Monday, May 11, 2009

The rest is still unwritten

Time is just flying by now- I have 2.5 months left on the Cape! It's quite outrageous if you ask me. Things have been going really well, and they seem to just keep getting better. I completed the first big event I was planning called Canal Clean-up which is pretty descriptive so I don't thing I need to explain further. We recruited over 250 volunteers to remove debris from the Cape Cod Canal and the final number of bags was 157 with the weight coming in at 774 pounds! LET'S GET READY TO RUMMBLLEEEEE! Over half of the rubbish was recyclable and we had a large team separating to make sure all that could be recycled was. This is a project that AmeriCorps does every year, but this year our team decided to make it zero waste so we had biodegradable trash bags, plates, flatware, cups, etc. We made sure all the snacks we bought either did not have packaging (apples and bananas instead of granola bars for ex) OR their packaging was recyclable. We had music from a local radio station (and the Falmouth Fiddlers came to perform during lunch!), educational booths to promote recycling/composting, kid booths like face painting and canvas bag decorating (sound familiar anyone ;-) Yeah..that was one of my idears) AND we had free food for all. I was the Logistics Coordinator so I was in charge of venue selection, daily scheduling, main contact person, oversight of all other coordinators (like food donations, volunteers, etc) and basically piecing the day together. It was stressful, but amazing at the end of the day knowing that we made this happen.

Out outdoor service projects have become much less grueling now that the sun has decided to warm our little home on the arm. I have a down right awful farmers tan developing, and that's only going to get worse. We actually still have to wear long sleeves and pants during most of our services because of the ticks and P.I.- I was cutting down a TREE of Poison Ivy last week that was smacking me in the face- but don't worry Ash- I Technu'd! (Ashley came to visit me one weekend last month and thought she got P.I. so we told her to lather up in Technu because its amazing...turns out she was allergic to Technu :-/ ya Ash :-)

Activity on the Cape is really starting to pick up, so I have started to cross off things on my bucket list knowing that it is going to be extremely hard to do so when the population quadruples. One thing was to complete the Cape Cod Rail Trail- it is a bike path that starts in Dennis (mid-bicep region) and ends in Wellfleet (skinniest wrist part)- it is 22 miles long one way. Amanda and I rode up on Saturday a few weeks ago, stayed the night in Wellfleet, and then rode home on Sunday. Needless to say it was a weekend full of activity- as soon as we got to Wellfleet we were kidnapped to go play games all day so we played Kickball, Volleyball, Ultimate, Football and ended with a nice game of Buttball (kids game..innocent I swear!). Then we went whale watching (another bucket list item) in the early evening which was INCREDIBLE! It blew me out of the water (hehe..get it..whale watching..blow holes..blew out of the

The weekend after that was PATRIOTS WEEKEND!! Monday April 20th, most of the state of Massachusetts got off work for Patriots Day and being the New York girl that I am, had no idea what this holiday was for. No one in my house knew either and one person even thought it was for the Patriots--not the historical ones--but the football team. Special but you can't blame him because New Englanders do love their sport teams! GO CELTICS! So back to Patriots Day- this day is in fact one for the historical Patriots, filled with battle reenactments in both Lexington and Concord, a parade, AND the Boston Marathon. I went with a group of AmeriMembers to Boston to watch the marathon and celebrate the day and it was crazy, insane, and amazing. Boston was full of life- there were people everywhere watching the run or the Red Sox and everyone, regardless of the event, was cheering. That day I truly fell in love with Boston- everyone was so encouraging and yelling 'you can do it's and 'great job's to all the runners. I never thought I could run a marathon, but after watching the race I could see why people do- it must be the greatest feeling to see so many strangers showing support for all your hard work.

I didn't run a marathon BUT I did run in the Mothers Day 5K in Portland, Maine this weekend! Melany, Maria, Meg, Jenny and I went up for the weekend to run in support of all the mothers out there (I gave you a shout-out mom!) and to see beautiful Maine. It may be frigid in the winter- but at this time of the year, it really is, as the license plate claims, Vacationland. We went to a Lighthouse on the cliffs, went through old stone forts and if that wasn't New England enough we went downtown where all the streets are still cobblestone. Twas a good time.

Coming up next on the agenda of life is to finish up all the planning for the Junior Solar Sprint (the event I am the sole Coordinator for) Recently I received enough donation money to order T-shirts for the students racing solar cars, as well as the volunteers. The shirts are going to say "Solar Roller" on the back with a picture Jessica (girl in my program) drew of a sun and a solar car- I'M PUMPED! I also received 25 pizza donations from various businesses, 150 single bags of Cape Cod Potato Chips, some veggie trays from grocery stores and a fruit and granola bar/healthy snack platter from Trader Joes! It is really coming together- I am very nervous for the event..VERY nervous- but am also excited as well.

Another project on the agenda is to continue working on a greenhouse a few of us are building for the Bourne House- we were supposed to erect it last Saturday but then it started raining and power tools + rain = NOT fun times. I will add pictures when that's complete!

Right now I have to go get ready for some serious Horseshoe crab surveying. My house is part of a New England wide survey of horseshoe crab matings on all the beaches up and down the Northeast coast. We were assigned a beach and we have to go out and count how many crabs we see in specific quadrants, during high tides and low tides for the next month or so. So basically we are the mercy of the tides- last week two people had to start the two hour survey at 2 a.m. Thankfully mine is starting at 9 am and it's currently sunny and 65 so I am pretty happy.
Gotta run! Have some fun!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Soo I guess I'm pretty horrible at keeping this blog thing going. Well to catch you up on the month of was cold. Alright! On to March! Haha just kidding- well the most memorable thing in February as far as the program is concerned was the Winter Retreat at the same Coast Guard house we went to in the beginning of the year. Our first retreat was right when we got here- so it was full of team builders and things to help us get to know each other and everyone felt a little awkward being in a house full of 27 other people you didn't know. This time around, we knew each other! There were fun things planned like trivia and a talent show (I sang with Sam and we did a parody on Disney's "A Whole New World" which Ash and I wrote and titled "A Whole New Tool." It was about doing outdoor service projects in the winter and all the joys that surround it :-P) Overall it was a great time although the morning we left we found a dead seal on the beach that had been killed by a coyote. To be honest it was actually REALLY COOL to be able to trace the fight and it was the closest I had been to a dead animal. Yes of course it was sad, but its all a part of that little thing we call the circle of life. Also in February a group of my friends and I went to the city and stayed with my friend Rya for Valentines/Presidents Day weekend. We went to Serendipity and sat about ten feet away from Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian- Maria's favorite story is when she was waiting for the bathroom and Kim walked up to her and asked her "Are you in line?" to which Maria responded.."Yea"..STAR STRUCK!! haha. All in all February was a fun month (minus that whole stomach flu thing that 20 people in our program passed around- I was NOT one of them (its the OJ mom :-) Just kidding I don't even drink OJ...I should get on that...

So up to March! This month we have had a lot of Herring Run restoration days because its almost that time for the little cute and cuddly herrings to go from ocean to river beds to spawn and their path need not be blocked by overgrowth and trash. We have also done quite a few cut and burns with the Seashore where we..cut..and burn brush and overgrowth in the woods to eliminate or at least reduce the chances of a natural fire causing all sorts of ruckus. We have had a few service days on farms or community gardens on the Cape removing invasives and putting up fencing to keep deer and wabbits out of plots! The fence day was fun because I got to use a sledgehammer- which of course meant I sang that song all day..and people here have not gotten sick of me singing yet so I'll take every chance I get! We also finished up our last wetfest (no more flush the kids!) and that signifies that every service we now do will be outside because ITS SPRING! And even though it doesn't feel like it..we still turned our clocks back and told the sun to stay up later for us and forced ourselves into flip flops on the first day of Spring (Ok..maybe that was just me but I felt it necessary and if mother nature doesn't want my little toes to freeze then make the weather warmer!) It worked because I am currently in flip flops on my front porch basking in the sun while I type you all can thank me for single handily making the weather nicer.

Other than outdoor services I have been teaching middle schools students about the Junior Solar Sprint and just last week I went to an alternative school in New Bedford with students who have either been expelled from their original schools or have other behavioral issues that merit them attending this one. The minute I walked in I was told to lock all of my valuables so I was a little intimidated to say the least, however once the students came in my fears immediately disappeared and it quickly became my favorite school. I taught four separate periods, each one causing my heard to swell more and more- they were so into the Sprint and excited to start! It was a pretty cool feeling bringing something interesting into their lives when you could tell that school was maybe their one escape from a harsh reality they faced outside of those walls. Compared to the other "normal" schools I have been to- I could see how these students did not take it for granted. If I ever decided to teach- I would prefer to teach in a school where I can see that I have improved someone's day just by being there and caring.

That pretty much brings us up to this week- which has been my Spring break. While others in the house have packed up their summer clothes and headed south- I have stayed riiigghhtt here. The thought of having a house to myself was too appealing! My parents came up for the first weekend and I took them out to P-town hiking the sand dunes, showed them my favorite beach (Cahoon Hollow or White Crest as known by the locals), went for a bike ride and all that good stuff. I must say they did pretty well even though half way up the first dune they said short of breath "So the beach is right over this one and then we are done right?!" Um...nope...only four more miles though! On the last day we met up with my cousin Rachel and her hubby Nick in Providence for lunch which was really nice to finally meet up- she's originally from Alabama and I was so pumped she was only going to be an hour away- Life just gets in the way ya know? The rest of the week looks like this- Sleep in, practice guitar, work on songs, write this blog, search for jobs, and food shop before my friends come this weekend! YESS!! It's safe to say this is the best spring break I have had yet because all of these things have been on my to- do list for awhile now- burdening my soul each day I didn't complete them.

Alright time for me to take advantage of this awesome day by biking 20 miles to Woods Hole and back- wish me luck!
Keep on keeping on.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Team Ready? DODGEBALL!

WHOOO!!!! Today was a blast- I was a referee for the West Barnstable Fire Department Dodgeball Tournament. The teams that were- Three firefighter teams, two cop teams, a sheriff officer team, a SWAT team and a Wellfleet house team and a Bourne house team. Naturally my job as a ref was to call all the shots and make sure both teams were kept in line. Normally this would have just been fun- but since the cops were playing (who were pretty big jerks the whole time by the way) I REALLY enjoyed being able to inform them when they were out for breaking the rules such as hitting opponents in the head, stepping over the mid court line and lying about being hit. I just hope I never cross them on the road because they may give me a ticket for no good reason :-P Just kidding- it was all in good spirits (but the cops really were a bit too serious) and the firefighters were great fun. Amanda and I know a few of the guys from the department because they host a "Fitness Friday" thing every week where we go and pretty much get our butts kicked into shape along with firefighters...I'm still sore and its Sunday! BUT back to the tourney- so inspite of all the scary team titles (especially the SWAT Team- I mean who messes with the SWAT TEAM?!) the Wellfleet house won!!! So AmeriCorps Cape Cod showed all those men whose boss 'round here.

Just a quick update from last time- the polar plunge did happen after all- which was actually a serious dose of fun. A lot of the locals do it on New Years because it is said to shock or restart your body (in a good way) so even though it wasn't for the New Year it was still really fun...I mean REALLY REALLY COLD...BUT fun. Everyone should do it at one point in their lives. Just do it! That day our service was beach grass planting and after we put up signs that AmeriCorps made up that say "These dunes aren't made for walking"...yeah..we're clever ;-) Another service project I did that week was called "Call of the Artic Gods" because we were outside in 7 degree weather..not including the windchill. It was myself, Phil, Amanda, Melany and Maria (or otherwise known as 'The Brave', 'The Strong', 'The Fair', 'The Valiant' and 'The Worthy') and we basically loppered invasive species and hauled large logs from old trees out of the woods. We kinda lost a pair of loppers (whoops) in the snow because there was so much but we just plan on going back after the first big melt to find it!
The last big service project we did was for MLK Day (or Martin Luther King day). AmeriCorps basically restored a shelter project in Cataumet by recruiting over 200 volunteers to paint rooms, sew curtains, make bookshelves and benches and supply lamps and compact fluorescent light bulbs to the whole shelter. The program supervisor said that this was the best MLK day this program has seen with respects to the number of volunteers recruited and amount of work completed which is pretty neat. We were all given bracelets for volunteering and I was at the gym a few days after and a lady was staring at me really strangely and she finally goes "You're bracelet- You're in AmeriCorps!" She was a volunteer that day with her family and she said she had a blast doing it and even gave me a few secret beach/kayak spots to use in the spring.

Tonight we had an encounter with a flying squirrel in our basement! He must have gotten in through the chimney and we can't catch him because he is so freaking fast (and kinda scary when he flies at you!) So we decided to devise a trap with peanut butter involved (hopefully not the salmonella kind!) to catch him and release him. Also we named him Clark- and I think I am in love :-P Big beaty eyes! Fluffy little tail! How can you possibly not love it. Diseases you may say? PSSHhhh- we have enough of that going around in the house without a flying squirrel- 4 people have gotten the stomach flu to date!! I have not yet (knock on wood- real or fake) but even if I did get it it seems to only affect people for two days at most so nothing too serious to worry about.

Tomorrow we have our first Life After AmeriCorps day- all about resume writing and job hunting- AHH!!!! DO I have to think about this stuff already?! Craziness- Just put me on a boat somewhere....

Live life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

There's snow way I'm going out there!!

I said BURR- it's cold out there! We have about six inches of freshly fallen snow from last night and tomorrow we are beach grass planting on the sand dunes all day- lets just say I will be using my hand/feet warmers! We are supposed to do the Polar Plunge after service tomorrow but I am hearing from the Wellfleet house that people are backing down because they are afraid- BABIES I TELL YA!!!

My Christmas/New Year break was very good. I was presently surprised with presents and I honestly didn't really need them to be happy this year- I got the Holiday cheer bug real bad. I was getting all giddy at the sight of christmas lights and trees and at the sounds of christmas songs on the radio (it did get A LITTLE old because they started it right after Halloween on Cape Cod- EVERY STATION!) And for whatever reason everyone was being just a little bit nicer, using the reason "Hey..its Christmas!" I wish certain people didn't use that as an excuse to be nice but its better than nothing.

So here I am- back on the Cape- and with a new member! Before the Holidays a member from our house left - Nichole Long (we called her Frannie). She is a great girl, but said that the program was just not her cup of tea (she likes hot tea-- so cold service doesn't really work :-P). So anyway she left and we got a new girl- her name is Melany and she is from Maine. She moved in on Friday and she's great- We have the same sense of humor which is hard to find.

Service is going well- just chug-a-chuging away. We will be doing a big MLK Day projects since we don't have Martin Luther King Jr day off and it will include building bookshelves and benches, painting walls and sewing curtains for a housing shelter in Cataumet. ALSO- we got a grant to build a GREENHOUSE AT THE BOURNE HOUSE!! Meredith, Nicole, Korinda and I are heading this project which is so exciting. So we are in the research stage as of right now to try and figure out where it should go- foundation practices, pricing, etc. Will update as that project comes along.

MKKK...that's enough for now- Happy 2009 to you all

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My dream is to be free

Wow- sorry it took me so long to write on here again. I hope everyone's holiday season is cheery and bright.
My thanksgiving was a lot of fun- I went to Rya's new apartment on Long Beach! You can see the ocean from her windows and it was amazing being able to run on the boardwalk. Then I obviously stuffed my face with great food, but other than that I got to see all of my Long Island friends which was very necessary! I love this program and the people in it, but there is certainly a stronger bond with those friends who have lasted through the entire "life changing" college experience and I missed them dearly.

After Thanksgiving we just got back to the grind with the program- they gave us our numbers of how many service hours we have each completed and thus far I have about 600 hours in just over 3 months. I only have to complete 1700 for the whole program but I will absolutely go over that - and most people do. The physical Monday/Friday service projects have been getting harder because of the weather. There was one Monday that was so cold I could not feel any fingers or toes, or my nose for the entire day. I used to complain about how cold it was going from class to class, or from the house to the car...but now that I am outside in it for 8 hours those little moments seem like NOTHING :-P All in all it was a good day- we were building stairs in nature trails (which was a little frustrating having to dig many holes into frozen ground) and then we widened a bunch of trails and did more invasive cutting.
Invasive species I officially DESPISE:
-Multiflora rose (has CRAZY PRICKERS >:-0)
and my "all time hate" award would have to go to Bittersweet- its insanely viney and grabs onto other trees and pulls them down- breaking them and stopping their growth. Their root system is so intricate that intertwines with other tree roots and one bittersweet plant can have an underground root that will take acres and acres of land. I spent so many days digging roots and cutting and pulling them off trees and then last weekend we passed an Inn that was called "Bittersweet Inn" and it had Bittersweet (that the owners planted) EVERYWHERE!! All over the fences and arch ways, there were wreaths made out of it!!!!! The people in my car were like "You have GOT to be KIDDING ME!" One of the members had to talk me out of taking lopers to the entire Inn. But do not dismay because I will go back there one night on a secret mission- dressed in all black with a stocking over my head and lopers in one hand, a handsaw in another. Oh will happen. Just kidding!! Kinda.

At Self-Reliance I have been working on a Teachers workshop that I did on Thursday!! It was for the Junior Solar Sprint and I had to teach teachers how to teach their students about the program and I had them make their own model solar cars. It was four and a half hours long and fun, but stressful in the beginning because 30 min before it started my supervisor (who was supposed to do a Photovolaics presentation at the workshop- and had the projector for my presentation) called me and said she was on the side of 195 (highway off Cape) because her car had broke down. So I called a teacher at 4 C's (Cape Cod Community College) and asked if he could possibly do it- and he did!! I was so grateful and the night ran smoothly after that. I was a little scared in the beginning that the teachers were going to see how old I was (we had just been corresponding through email and phone) and not really respect me because I am obviously just out of school- but they did and they listened to me like kids!! Ha it was great.

We have also volunteered at the Fire Station to sell Christmas trees (the reusable ones that come in pots- then when you are done using them you can plant them in your yard and you are not killing any trees!! I know I are all really pumped about this too) and we also did a Christmas party for a place called the Children's Cove. This is a center for kids who have been physically or sexually abused by adults in their lives. Their stories are so disturbing and I cried when I heard some of the things that happened to them which I won't repeat here. But somehow they live with what happened to them and they move on- they are so strong I honestly do not know how they do it. But back to the party- we set up about 20 booths that they could make T-shirts, ornaments, raindeer food, candles, decorate cookies, Spin art (that was my booth! :-) ) and the list goes on and on. Then Santa came and gave them all presents. It was a great hit and the kids loved it. Its always nice to have something they can look forward to when they have dealt with so much disappointment from people they were supposed to be able to trust in their lives.

Alright- well I have to cut it short. A few of us are going to Barnes and Noble to wrap christmas presents to raise funds for our MLK Day project in January.
Enjoy your holidays!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

RM <3

HOKAY SOO...I went to Binghamton this weekend and saw my old a cappella group- Rhythm Method perform their Fall show as well as saw all old college buddies and met some new members! First off...the show was AWESOME...if anyone knows me (which you all should..hopefully...) then they could probably guess that I cried. The first song...tears...then I got pity "Oh Jaci!" looks from Seth and Jen and then decided to dry my tears...but then I cried again at the end. My mom came to see me/the show and I successfully cried more than she did- which is probably a first EVER. I just didn't want it to end. Seriously great and they are going to competition!
Not only was the music great- but being back there was also--I mean, that group is my extended family. The new members- Emily, Alex (Talex), Alex (Slater) and Andrew all pretty much rock hardcore.

When I got back to New England (thanks to Mrs Matthei) I went into Boston and met Amanda and Ashleigh in an Irish Pub for dinner that was like walking into Ireland/a Lord of the Rings scene. Then we went to the Middle East which was a restaurant/bar for a concert by Centro-matic (really cool rock alternative band). I didn't get home until 1 am and had to wake up at 5 because we had service in Provincetown (the hour and a half away) that morning. So needless to say after a weekend of not going to bed before 4 am both friday and saturday nights--- I am EXHAUSTED! Eh..actually I'm probably just being a baby and should suck it up...good advice...I'll do that.

Moving on (moving on) our service in P-town on monday was BENCH BUILDING!! I think it may be the best service day I have had yet only because we started digging holes in the ground, then took a bunch of timber and made a bench- finished it- and stuck it in the holes and mixed concrete to finish it off. I got to see a project through start to finish and while my arms now hate me for lifting, hammering, digging and lugging so much...I felt so accomplished. AND by the end I was titled the official user of the screw gun because I know how to WORK IT! I am not talking about just literally working the screw gun--I mean work it in the "I make this look good" sense. Just to be clear.

Then TUESDAY! (which is today...oh boy it has been a long day) My COD day group and I did our RECYCLEFEST for Henry T Wing School in Sandwich! Our day started at 7am when we met at the school to set up/rehearse for the fest which started and 9am. Greg and I made a rap called "Recycle Michael" where we used the instrumental music from Chris Brown's "Run it". There were three main characters- Recycle Michael, Landfill Lenny and Soda Pop Pam (that was me!) Basically the rap was about Lenny- who does not know how to recycle and Michael and Pam who teach him how cool it is. The first line is a parody of an MIA Paper plane line by Lenny (as he flies a paper air plane into Michael): "I fly my paper real high like a plane, if the teacher tries to catch me too bad, I erased my name" followed by Michael who says "Hey Landfill Lenny, I'm not trash- I have a better place for your plane to crash (and points to a recycling bin!) It continues and at one point I lead the school in a cheer where Michael break dances while picking up recyclables and putting them in the bin. I'll stop there but I am obviously very excited about it and it went over very well. The kids were chanting "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle- Go Michael!" at the end and teachers wanted us to do it in other classrooms. We also did a puppet show which was slightly disastrous on our end but the kids didn't realize so it worked out fine (we had to improv when the recording stopped working!)

Well- we are about to watch Wall-E so I am going to curl up with my crochet and fight for a comfy spot on a couch!
Goodnight all

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Yes we can!

Let me just start off by saying GOBAMA! :-) I am very excited for these next four years and I have faith that our President elect will steer us back on the right journey from the crazy scary ride that happened when Bush took hold of the steering wheel.

Moving on...Halloween was great- we all went to Provincetown and I was Greed from the 7 deadly sins so I made a money out of paper dollar bills. Saturday night I stole Alex's costume and was a bee (I'm allergic...its funny!!! Get it!?) I took a pic with my Epi-Pen.
November has been a great month thus far! The weather is great- just today I ran outside (and around the Cranberry bog!) in shorts and a T-shirt and the sky was as blue as could be. Last monday we hauled 3 ton of rock into the Quashnet river and set it up around the bank for river restoration. It was so much fun...until I fell in!! I tripped over a log in the water that I didn't see and WHAM! HELLOOOO WATER! I am still trying to get the inside of my waders and aquaculture gloves dry.

Friday we had an AmeriCorps convention in Boston where all 76 programs in the state of Mass came which comprised of over 2,000 volunteers. It was PACKED and the state Governor Duvall Patrick same and spoke to us. We then got a tour of the State House and in the House of Representatives there was a wooden cod that hung off the ceiling that was 4'11'' and I said to myself...That fish is the same size as Lynsey!!! Then I pictured her hanging above the House of Rep and laughed.

This weekend was pretty relaxing and I had my first MasterSingers by Sea concert. There were professional singers and orchestra members from Boston. It was great and now we are already preparing for the Madrigal feast in December!

Sorry this isn't too detailed---we are all watching Harry Potter right now and I am somewhat distracted :-) But I am SUPER excited for this coming weekend when I go to Binghamton to see Rhythm Method's semester show! I'll be sure to write after that!

Have a lovely week