Our month on Cape Cod—day 13

~Thursday~ It was my “virtual Friday” and the highlight of my work day was listening to the finalists of the We Are Red Hat Week Open Mic event. Such incredible talent across this great company of ours:

A baton twirler—complete with 2 fire-burning batons—skillfully avoided catching any of her hair, body parts, or clothing on fire; a ballcap-wearing, fisherman-looking guy singing a song from a Broadway musical; and a whirling-Dervish-like dancer to Bollywood music were among my favorites.


The chair I’m using as a desk chair is, well, let’s just say it’s not very comfortable. In addition to the back support cushion, I’m up to 2 pillows on the seat to make it comfortable enough to spend 8 hours on.

I did a Google search on “office furniture rental desk chairs” and actually found a place that rents a pretty decent chair for $37 for a month. But then, I calculated that I really only have 4 more work days here (Mon – Thu of next week), and I might take Thursday off. The following week (11/7 – 11/11), and the Monday (11/16) after, I’m on vacation, so I’m just going to make it work for another 3 or 4 days.


Bob made a walking trip to the post office to mail some postcards, where he came across this “Stamposaurus” project —”a collection box for cancelled stamps was set up for school children for art projects and for stamp collecting for all ages”—that’s been going on for 30 years. You can learn more by clicking on the “How the journey began…” photo.

He also took note of the Eastham Public Libraries Activities board, and stopped by the General Store where they’re really getting to know him.


There is a 100% chance of rain, pretty much all day tomorrow, so we looked for something we can do indoors. We’ve settled on, temporarily at least, visiting The Sandwich Glass Museum in, well, Sandwich, MA, some time tomorrow.

I’ve made a note of a few restaurants near the museum in which we can stop for a sandwich in Sandwich. Two leading contenders are: Bob O’Malley’s Whaleback Restaurant and Bobby Byrnes. (Hmmm, I see a theme here with these restaurant names. Do you, Bob?)


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Our month on Cape Cod—day 12

~Wednesday~ We’re getting excited about my sister and her husband coming up in a week-and-a-half, and she and I had a discussion last night about a couple of things.

She’s going to bring some food when they drive up, and she asked if I was still dieting. To which I responded with: “This is our ‘snack corner’ of the counter. Does this look like I’m still dieting?” ☺

The reality is that I am eating this junk, but I’m also practicing portion control when doing so. There was a time when I would eat a whole bag or container without giving it a second (or first) thought.

Another thing we talked about is that there are essentially 2 primary bedrooms on the first floor—with a trade-off situation. One has a TV in it, but its bathroom is smaller, with only 1 sink. The other one doesn’t have a TV in it, but its bathroom is bigger, with 2 sinks.

We asked them if they have a preference, because we don’t care. We’ve been in the one with the TV, but we haven’t watched it at all, and won’t. (We don’t have a TV in our bedroom at home.)

They chose the one with the TV in it, so Bob spent some time today moving us from one room to the other. These are the “after” pictures:

Bedroom with the TV, but a smaller bathroom
(it’s ready for Vivian & Jeff)
Bedroom with no TV, but a bigger bathroom
(we’ve moved into it)

We check our home cam each day just to make sure we’re not missing anything. We told our neighbor to feel free to park in our driveway so that it looks like someone’s coming and going there during our month away. It always makes us smile when we see their car there.

Bob always checks to see if he’d be mowing the lawn or how many leaves he’d be raking if we were there.

I always check to see if our across-the-street neighbor is still parked on their lawn at their front door.

I had a late/early meeting with a colleague of mine who works in Australia—7 -8 a.m. (tomorrow) her time, 5 – 6 p.m. (today) my time, so there was a slight delay to the start of our happy hour today.

Tomorrow’s my “virtual Friday” leading into my long weekend.


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Our month on Cape Cod—day 11

~Tuesday~ Each year in the last week of October, we celebrate “We Are Red Hat Week” at work, which consists of a lot of activities you can opt into. Today, I participated in:

We were matched up with 5 other Red Hatters we didn’t know, from around the company, and after introducing ourselves to each other (i.e., name, team, and time with Red Hat), we answered 7 ice breaker questions. Here they are with my answers:

1. What’s your favorite part of your job?

Editing the Command Line Heroes transcripts; editing webinar titles, abstracts, and speaker bios; and editing the Red Hat Summit session titles and abstracts.

2. What’s something you love about your work at Red Hat?

Getting Red Hat Rewards and my fun, creative, and smart team.

3. What’s the most special item on your desk or in your travel bag? If you have the item, show it on the video, if desired. Briefly share why it is special, or why you like to keep it with you at your desk or when you travel.

I have a 2-picture frame of my sister receiving her doctorate’s degree and the acknowledgments page of her dissertation, which includes a thanks to me for inspiring her research.

4. What is one of your workday morning rituals? Whether it’s working out, meditating, spending time with your children or pets, do you have something you regularly like to do before you start your work day?

I’m not a morning person, so all I do before starting my workday is shower and have breakfast. I do have an after-work ritual of doing the USA Today Crossword Puzzle online with my husband. (It’s an everyday ritual; we do it on the weekends, too.)

5. What has been one of your biggest challenges during the pandemic? Little or big, what’s something you’ve been challenged by during these strange times?

Not being able to meet my friends out at a local bar on Friday nights, which we did very routinely.

6. What’s something you would never want to change at Red Hat? As we grow, change is inevitable. But, what’s something about our culture, our norms, etc. that you feel is so special that you would never want to see changed? Why?

When we’re working in the Red Hat Tower building, free bagel Wednesdays in the cafeteria. Why? Because I love both bagels and free.

7. How do you describe life at Red Hat to your family and friends? Working for the world’s largest open source software company can be unique. When people ask what it’s like to work at Red Hat, what are some of the things you describe?

I usually talk about the flexible work hours, feeling like I’m seen and heard there, how great my team is, and how much I enjoy doing work that I love.

I really enjoyed meeting the people in our group and hearing all of their answers to these questions.


Bob went on a couple of walks today, the first included a stop by the nearby post office to mail some postcards and a greeting card. There are still plenty of flowers in bloom here.

On his second outing, he saw these 2 vehicles that surprised us because we’ve passed a roadside sign, several times now, that says “John Martin” on it, and we’d both assumed—for some odd reason—that the person was a realtor. But as it turns out, he owns a local excavating company.

One rather bizarre sign Bob came across was this:

Although we’ve never heard of them, meat raffles are definitely a thing. We might just participate in this one on Saturday if when we get there, it looks like it’s being managed safely with regards to the pandemic.

Snarky aside: Not exactly sure what that orange with the bone shoved up its hind end is doing in the picture, but whatever. 😉

Have you ever attended, or even heard of, a meat raffle? If so, do tell.


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Our month on Cape Cod—day 10

~Monday~ Our Red Hat marketing organization had a “virtual offsite” today, even though we’re all offsite all the time now. When we’re in the office, this is a meeting that we have away from the office in a local establishment, which includes a catered breakfast, lunch, and an open bar “happy (2-3) hour(s)” at the end of the day.

Obviously, we can’t replicate all that virtually, and even though there’s, proverbially, “no free lunch,” we were authorized to expense our lunch today in the spirit of the meeting. Bob and I ordered takeout from a local restaurant that we’ve had our eye on since arriving.

John’s order
California Chicken Sandwich: sprouts, avocado, queso fresco, 1000 island on wheat
Bob’s order
Cape Cod Reuben: fried cod filet, coleslaw, swiss, 1000 island on marble rye

Bob had a busy day today—doing our grocery shopping for this week and doing our first load of laundry here in the quaint little laundry (and small library!) area that’s part of the deal here. He also cleared away our bar that we’d set up on the countertop over the dishwasher, because the owner had a new dishwasher installed today. (See what it looked like prior to being cleared.)


To top off Bob’s busy day, he cooked homemade hamburgers for dinner on one of the two Weber charcoal grills that are here for our use.

That’s it for today.


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Our month on Cape Cod—day 9

~Sunday~ At about 9:30, we headed to Fall River, which was about a 1.5-hour ride. This is the city I grew up in until a year before we moved to North Carolina when I was 13. For the year right before we moved, we lived in Coventry, RI, which we’ll visit when my sister gets here early in November.

Our first stop in Fall River was to the Notre Dame Cemetery, where both sets of my grandparents are buried. We had a hell of a time trying to find my paternal grandparents’ grave (just like I did last year—and never did find it), and it turns out the person in the office had given me the wrong plot information—think way off, like on the opposite side of the cemetery.

Thanks to my cousin, Sandy, who volunteers there and who was in touch with us yesterday with a picture of the headstone, and who provided us with the correct section and plot number by text today.

Another of my cousins, Patsy, met us there, and together we located the grave. We’d brought some cleaning materials with us, and Bob ingratiated himself to my grandparents by spit-shining their headstone.

And as it turns out, my grandfather did have a middle name, which means my father really wasn’t a junior, but since I seem to be the only one devastated by that, I’m just going to let it go.

We also found (and cleaned off) my paternal grandparents’ grave, where I said a quick, socially distanced prayer.


Our next stop was for lunch at one of our favorite childhood eating haunts, and we passed Fall River’s “flat iron building” on the way. Doesn’t every big city have one of these?

Lunch!


They had a buy-5-get-1-free special, which we couldn’t resist. I got “sauce and onions” on mine (they don’t call it chili; they call it sauce), and Bob had ketchup, mustard, and dill pickles on his.


We wanted to stop at Amaral’s Portuguese Bakery while we were in town, but they were closed today. Fortunately, while at the cemetery together, we’d ask Patsy about places to get some sweet bread, and she said they actually sell Amaral’s products in the grocery stores, so we stopped at a Stop & Shop and bought some of my Portuguese/Fall River favorites:


On the way back to the Cape, just outside Fall River, we passed an exit that was very close to my Aunt Rita’s house, and I wanted to make sure she and Bob met, so I gave her a call to see if she was home and up for a short hello from outside.

She was, and we did. Love her to pieces.


An hour-and-20-minutes later, we were back in Eastham, just in time for happy hour, after which I had to have something for dinner on those sweet rolls we’d just bought. And what could be better on a Portuguese sweet roll than some chourico (Portuguese sausage)!

I know you’re glad this day and blog entry are over. If I say Portuguese one more time…


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Our month on Cape Cod—day 8

~Saturday~ We made the short trip up to Provincetown today. Every person we saw there was wearing a mask. And leave it to P-town to be inclusive:
Heteronormative vs. gender fluid mandatory mask signs


Unequivocally, the thing I was most looking forward to in P-town was a stop at The Portuguese Bakery to get some malassadas, so you can imagine my disappointment at finding this:

John in front of the Provincetown Portuguese Bakery Closed for the season sign on the door of the Provincetown Portuguese Bakery

And as if to pour salt in the wound, a local walking by seeing us take this picture said, “And they’re actually closing for good. They’re not opening back up in 2021.”

I can’t find any article online to corroborate that, so I’m just going to pretend it’s not true until I see it (or read about it) with my own eyes.” Denial is not a river in Egypt.


(l) It’s so refreshing to see your humanity affirmed in a t-shirt slogan. (r) The Herring Cove tank top makes me laugh ’cause “girl” is not gonna let go of her bag no matter how high the water gets.

T-shirt store with t-shirt sayings on them that affirm gay people's humanity User's guide to Herring Cove tank top

Here’s Bob on the steps of the town hall recreating a picture he took there about 20 years ago.
Bob on the town hall front steps


We’ve been wondering about a couple of things since we arrived here a week ago. The first is about “heart art” on pallets we’ve seen all along the roads:

Red heart painted on a wooden pallet

It turns out they are to support and honor the healthcare workers working on the frontline of COVID, as described in this Carpentry meets compassion through Scituate sign project article.

And the second thing is why the fire hydrants here have antennas on them:

A red fire hydrant with an antenna sticking up from it

According to a Reddit discussion, they’re for when the snow drifts get high enough to cover them—so the fire fighters can find them easily and so that snow plows don’t hit the ones that are on the sides of roads.

Although, one Reddit user posits that the real reason they’re there is “so dogs can listen to the radio while they do their business.”

By the way, the colors of fire hydrants are also significant, if you didn’t know. The red ones, like the one shown here, have the lowest flow volume at fewer than 500 gallons per minute.


“Back at the ranch,” we just chilled out the rest of the day, enjoying the leftovers of yesterday’s clam fritter meal for today’s lunch. I read some, and Bob watched some YouTube entertainment.

After dinner, we put together our menu for next week, which informed our grocery store list for Bob’s Monday Stop & Shop trip.


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Our month on Cape Cod—day 7

~Friday~ I got my first-ever “cut on the Cape”—a haircut, that is. Bob did it using our new clipper set, which includes a vacuum and trap that catches the hair while it trims.


That must be a “sample” of gray hair that came with the clippers to show you how the vacuum works.


At a little after 9 a.m., we headed south to Yarmouth, where we stopped at Target before going to The Edward Gorey House, which opened at 11 a.m.

For those who don’t know: Edward St. John Gorey (February 22, 1925 – April 15, 2000) was an American writer and artist noted for his illustrated books. His characteristic pen-and-ink drawings often depict vaguely unsettling narrative scenes in Victorian and Edwardian settings. Many people know him for his artwork for PBS’s Mystery.

The curator was very knowledgeable and likeable and did a good job of giving us an overview of the house and the life of Mr. Gorey. In this public Facebook album, you should be able to see the just under 50 pictures I took in the museum house if you’re interested.

Upon leaving, we asked the curator if he knew where we could get some “clam cakes,” and he gave us a few possible places, from which we chose the Chatham Pier Fish Market, where we both ordered the “famous” clam fritters.

Less than a mile from this restaurant was the Chatham Light lighthouse, which a lot of people confuse with the Nauset Light lighthouse that’s on the bag of Cape Cod chips (which has a red section to it, and which we have a picture of further down in this entry), and since we were so close to this one, we stopped by for a picture.


On our drive back, we saw this amusing sign—which I at first thought was mocking my hips—as we entered into a densely populated area:


And then back in Eastham, we saw this sign, which we of course had to get a picture of, in the front yard of a house on the way to the Nauset Light lighthouse:


At the Nauset Light lighthouse, we used the bag of Cape Cod chips we bought specifically to use as a prop in this picture, and then I added the text to it once we got home.


Rounding off our “clammy” day, we had some fantastic clam chowder for dinner that we bought in the seafood section at the grocery store on Sunday.


I am going to go ahead and call my first Friday off here a big success. Tomorrow, we’re planning to go up to “P-town.”


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Our month on Cape Cod—day 6

~Thursday~ I’m pretty lucky in that I usually have just 1-2 work meetings a day, and often I don’t have any at all on 1 or 2 days of the week. That was not the case today. I had meetings from 10:00 to 4:00, with 2 of them overlapping, which I had to choose between. Our team meeting won out, because it’s usually fun, and I love our team.


Bob took another walk today, this time to the east coast of the Cape where he encountered the Nauset Lighthouse of the Cape Cod chip bag fame.

Also in that area were The Three Sisters lighthouses, which earned their nickname because when looked at from afar, they looked like black-hatted women dressed in white. (Full disclosure: The hyphen is my own. I don’t think they meant “Black, hatted women,” and if they did, they should have capitalized the word black and added that comma. But I digress.)

And, of course, he found the Atlantic Ocean coastline.


I received an interesting message and photo from my first cousin about our paternal grandparents’ grave that I talked about yesterday: “Just thought I’d show you that our paternal grandparents’ grave is not buried. It’s one of the graves I monitor, and I just called the office to have the stone raised.”

Manuel Martin: 1893 – 1966; Mary Martin: 1903 – 1991

One interesting thing about this picture is seeing that “M.” in my grandfather’s name. It’s my understanding that he didn’t have a middle name, since my dad was named Manuel Martin, Jr.—and he was proud of that junior and always included it when he said/wrote his name. If my grandfather did have a middle name, and my dad didn’t, dad would not be a junior. I’ll have to follow up with my aunt (dad’s sister) about that.


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Our month on Cape Cod—day 5

~Wednesday~ Another uneventful workday, which is exactly what we like.

Bob took a drive to Orleans for a Stop & Shop grocery store run and a TJ Maxx stop (considering a door mat, some potholders or oven mitts, and a couple of wash cloths).

After lunch, he took a walk to the nearby Cape Cod Rail Trail, one of the national rails-to-trails conversion projects.


At the grocery store on Sunday, we saw this lobster already removed from the shells for just under $19 for the package. And in our typical fashion, we hemmed and hawed about spending that much money on something, but ended up buying it. It was totally worth it!

Happy hour: Eggnog-amaretto-bourbon cocktails, lobstah, and drawn buttah


We’ve begun to think about things to do this long weekend. All of my weekends while here are going to be “long” weekends, because I’m taking all Fridays off.

A couple of things we’re considering so far, one of which was suggested by a Facebook friend who knows we’re here, include:

  • The Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth: In what will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well, I’m interested in the current exhibit there called “He wrote it all down Zealously: Edward Gorey’s Interesting Lists.” one should resist the urge to write it downI love lists, tracking, spreadsheets, and charts, and if you need any more proof of that, visit my My quantified self page. It’s a list of lists, essentially!

  • The Portuguese Bakery in Provincetown: I want some malassadas (“Portuguese doughnuts”), which always remind me of my Portuguese paternal grandmother who used to make them for us as children. (She’d roll over in her grave if she could see what they’re getting for these at $3.15 a piece!)

  • The city of Chatham: At least 3 of my Facebook friends have spent time in this city, and we want to check it out.

  • Notre Dame Cemetery in the city of Fall River: I grew up in Fall River, and although we plan to spend a full day there when my sister and her husband are visiting later on in our stay here, Bob and I are thinking about going there on Sunday to most likely visit the cemetery where both sets of my grandparents are buried.

    I visited there last year about this time, and this time I will bring a trowel with us to “dig out” my paternal grandparents’ in-ground headstone if it’s still in the same shape as it was then and shown here.

    Yes, my paternal grandparents’ headstone is under there
    (This is the grave in which my grandmother would be rolling over about the malassadas.)
    My maternal grandparents’ grave

Getting excited about the weekend just creating this entry! Tomorrow’s my “virtual Friday.”


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Our month on Cape Cod—day 4

~Tuesday~ Another successful work day. We experienced a short, mid-afternoon power outage, but fortunately, I had recently saved the document I was working in, so I lost very little work. This is the second outage we’ve had since we arrived. The first one was the first day, and it was in the middle of the night, so no harm done. Hopefully it won’t be a “regular” thing. UPDATE: Large power outage affecting the Outer Cape


Bob explored a little more today, taking a walk to the closest coast. Where we are in Eastham is a just a tad bit closer to the west coast of the Cape than the east coast, so he went west, following a sign for Cooks Brook Beach.

He passed some “rainbow art”:

before reaching the beach:

You know who left those footprints all over the place, right?


We bought some eggnog at the Stop & Shop on Sunday, and we used some of it to make eggnog martinis for happy hour tonight. Good stuff.

Here’s the recipe:


A dear friend from high school, who now lives in Maine, was in touch today, and we’ve made plans to see each other while we’re here. So excited.


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