Offal we go!

What a horrible title for a post…

I am closing this blog down. My time on Cranberry Island is done; it were overall lovely, full of spruce and lupines and bell buoys and intrigue and movies made in the 1940’s. There was even a very small puppy that came to visit. Who can ask for more?

Someday I hope to blatantly rip off  Biggie Small’s “Party and Bullshit”, replacing his lyrics with references to working in a cafe, dealing with tourists, avoiding guinea hens, etc. It will be called “Pickle and Cole Slaw”. However, if and when I do that, it will appear on some other blog that I’m starting as of very soon on WordPress, but which isn’t actually up yet. It will be road trip themed, and with any luck distinguish itself in some useful or amusing manner that involves rudding about the US. So, we can all look forward to that.

More practically, I  can now put “assistant chef” (this is a gross overstatement) at the top of my chronological resume, a position that has very little to do with other entries on said document. I’m told the incongruity can be labeled a ‘spacer’, or ‘getting back in touch with the world’. I’ll agree with ‘spacer’, I suppose. However I cannot in good faith claim that four months on a Downeast Maine island put me ‘in touch’ with anything other than a wood-stove and my new-found inability to chop firewood.

So take care, dear friends. I leave you at last with a couple pictures showcasing my doodlings and signage created in spare hours of cafe-dom.  Lord knows, I wouldn’t want to waste idle hours wondering where all the September tourists had gone.

Keep an eye on Occupy Wall Street, and see if it has (or contribute to?) the staying power necessary to be deemed ‘for real’.



Nine days till whatever happens next starts happening!

And what is in fact happening, is a roundabout visitation of cities, friends, and etc. in ME, MA, NY, NJ, DC, VA, NC, GA, TX, WA, and CA. What is also happening is the closing of this island blog, and a subsequent debate over whether to stuff in the internet one more road-trip themed blog.

In the meantime, here are pictures of a beautiful morning fog down on ‘the pool’, a sort’ve bay area on Great Cranberry.

Cheers and mussels!

Storms and Babies


“Pretty soon everyone’ll run off this island like rats out of a burning building. It’s the most important thing in the world to be up on Cranberry, right up till it’s time to leave.”

Umbrella Bat Dolls

Today began with a good old-fashioned ‘forgetting to set the alarm clock’. I found myself roused instead at by the 9am rustling of dad, intent on his Kirkland coffee. I clothed myself with minimal difficulty, partook of the (sub-par) caffeinated breakfast slush, and walked at a leisurely pace out the door and to the cafe. There is a lot to be said for punching in at 10am.

The workday itself began with an umbrella-bat, a curious aerial rodent which a-typically roosts on the underside of rainbow-colored porch parasols. I myself find these creatures to be cute, particularly when groggy and half-asleep. My boss Karin is not quite as enamored, and thought it suitable to use a plastic 20oz cup from SYSCO for capturing the dozy creature. The bat would have indeed made a darling specimen, but had the presence of bat-mind to flutter off after being woken by a Swedish woman brandishing disposable dishware. FLOOMF!

Somewhere in this fledermaus tomfoolery, I was stung by a yellow jacket. I didn’t think I particularly deserved a welt on my collarbone at 10:15 in the morning, but now believe that the perpetrating insect was actually a hired goon – some sort of bat-mafia soldier, waspy hitmen running diurnal guard for fatigued night-riders. (Tangential aside: I once confused the French words for “guards” and “gardeners”, consequently asking a night watchmen in Burkina Faso if he had any of the anti-termite product I was looking for. . .  Actually the story didn’t happen in quite that manner, BUT the country, word confusion, and misinformed questioning of some type of guard are all true).

My sting was iced and cortisone-d, and the day proceeded on in its day-like way by morphing into a preposterous rush of sandwich-and-shake-making, the likes of which even ill-fed dessert-loving bears would find objectionable. I don’t, at this point, recall many of the specifics, except that I gave up my normal post as cashier/ice-cream/drinks/runner guy, and started making an illogical number of caprese paninis. One night later, all I have is an image of five split focaccia rolls arrayed in front of me like blanched upturned turtles, begging to be re-greened by a spoonful of pesto before their inevitable grilling.

Today began with a good old fashioned text message. It told me that the morning rendezvous with my island sweetheart wouldn’t happen due to flight cancellations, that she instead needed to ferry someone to the mainland and navigate the bustling strip-mall-metropolis of Ellsworth, ME, 20 miles away. I managed to avoid feeling overly miffed at the news, however I soon afterwards created some inexplicable mess with the coffee maker that my parents, in their 40+ years of creating drip coffee, had never seen. I can only assume there was subconscious text-cause-and-effect.

The workday itself began with my mother and a truck. Normally I would have walked to the café without any parental supervision, accompanied only by inanimate things such as a Toshiba laptop and a 1964 Harmony guitar. However this particular morning was like Passover, in that it was different from all other mornings. Firstly, it was raining. Secondly, my mother happened to be headed in the same direction as I was, towards a giant house owned by a 70-ish year old bachelor named ‘Mickey’. Alongside Mickey’s niece Robin, mom had been selected to read passages from a book by Rachael Field in the hopes of entertaining approximately sixty roving doll enthusiasts.

To explain, briefly, today was “Hitty Day”, the 2011 fundraising event for the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society; Whereas last year was a Home and Garden Tour attended by anyone who thought well of either Homes or Gardens, this year’s festivities were attended by anyone who thought well of a fictional doll made from mountain-ash, found in a children’s book written by a Maine author born in the late 1890s. Please don’t misunderstand – the event itself was organized with great care and boasted a surprisingly wide range of activities. It’s just not your typical rainy-Wednesday-kind-of way to make good money on an island.

Somewhere in this Hitty droll-dom was a 60-ish year old woman (actually, there were many of them) who came to order some coffee at the café window. This woman had a Hitty poking up from her purse, which as she explained to me, was so the doll could better see the woods while being portaged down a trail to the shore. Having just now returned, Hitty was transferred back into a more protective raincoat pocket, and I decided here was my chance to ask why otherwise reasonable people might spend a day running around an island with anywhere from 1 to 12 dolls tucked somewhere on their person.

Our lady was very good natured about my query, and admitted to some degree of weirdness while we talked about $1000 Hittys available on eBay. The conversation went off on a tangent involving being on fire – a house with a doll that is, not a person – and I was able to make a well-informed quip about Hitty being made of magically protective mountain-ash wood. This one comment actually justified my entire existence that day for two reasons: 1.) I had recently read the Hitty book at the behest of one of the event planners, so that I might possibly understand what all the hubbub was. 2.) The lady I was talking to left me a $0.50 tip, and thanked me for both making her laugh and for laughing at her stories.




Too much gingerbread for the plumber. The ding-y bell came outta nowhere.

The ‘Other’ Island

There is Great Cranberry, and there is Little Cranberry. While I am partial to the Great, I would never belittle the Little. Therefore I give you a few shots to celebrate Downeast Island Diversity.


For your esteemed consideration, a few pictures from an artists’ reception, restaurants, and (of course) the ocean.