Not on Any List of Tourist Destinations

So, you may know by now that I live in Rockport….but, I’m not FROM Rockport.

I lived in Middleton until I was about 12 and then moved to Hamilton.  Both of my parents are from Gloucester and I moved there right after college graduation. After meeting my husband I moved to Rockport, his hometown, back in 2000. So, looong story short, I’ve lived in Rockport for 14 years now, but again…I’m not FROM Rockport.

That being said, I can usually hold my own.  After 14 years I’ve finally learned the names of most streets (kind of), I know not to take a left down Broadway from South Street on Sundays because it is closed during church services, I know that if you want a cranberry walnut muffin to die for you go to Helmut’s, if the kids are jonesing for a shaved ice you go to Hula Moon, and if you’re planning on a long day at one of the local beaches you’d better plan around the tide…because some of our favorite beaches all but disappear at high tide.

I’ve learned a lot, I’ve met tons of truly kind and fantastic people, and…probably because of my local hero loving young boys…I can greet the harbor masters and police officers by name.

A couple of years ago I wrote how a bunch of the community came together to help celebrate Thatcher’s 5th birthday.  It was incredibly heart warming and perfect and to this day I tear up at how special that day was for him.

All of that having been said, there is one part of Rockport that, I have to admit, still intimidates me a bit.

The Dump.  Well, see right there…that’s part of the problem.  It is not actually called the Dump.  It is the Transfer Station….and rightfully so.  Back in Middleton we went to the Dump (in our giant wood paneled station wagon with no carseats)…and I remember it clearly, but it was before recycling, and it was truly just piles of trash.  I am certain that it is no longer like that now. In Hamilton, we put our trash out for pick up.  No trips to the dump necessary.

Now, in Rockport, my husband typically does the, as I call them, “dump runs.” He doesn’t necessarily appreciate the fact that I call them that and has explained that, in no uncertain terms, if I feel that it is simply a dump, then I am not necessarily worthy of making the trips.  Awww, shucks.

So, for YEARS, I had never actually taken a trip to the transfer station.

My husband had come home forever with random “treasures” from the swap shop….much to my dismay.  The swap shop alone began to spark my interest. Not because I was necessarily in love with anything that he brought home, but because I started to grow intrigued by the vision of the “Land of Misfit Toys” that he loved to visit.

Don’t tell my husband, but I actually found myself having “dump run” envy.  It didn’t help that my boys would also come home singing the praises of the dump. I started to feel a little left out.  The only girl in the house and all….and the only one not worthy of the weekly pilgrimage to the mysterious place at the end of the driveway on Nugent Stretch.  “What is down there?”, I started to wonder.

So, finally, I was allowed to tag along….

And I’ve been meaning to do a blog post about it ever since.

This place is not for the faint of heart and it is truly a fine oiled machine.  This place is the Disney World of recyclers, the Tour de France of the obsessive compulsive, and the Super Bowl of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” While you’re not going to find it on a list of tourist destinations, it is truly a sight to behold.  I’m also a bit smitten that it has an area for “Scrap Fishing Gear” as that kind of screams “Good job making a life for yourself in this quaint little town by the sea” if you ask me.

So, if like me, you have never had the opportunity to witness the wonder of the transfer station….here’s a peek inside.  Behold.

Lunch Box 101…because some of you have asked.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I LOVE my job teaching, but I’d be a straight up liar if I didn’t admit that I don’t love summer vacation a bit more.  It isn’t that I need a break from the work or from my amazing students….it is that I love the weeks of freedom to play, sleep, take long day trips, or do nothing at all with my boys.  Late mornings, late nights, sand, salt, water….  How can you not love that?

That having been said, typically, after 9 weeks off, I am ready to go back to work.  I miss my students, I miss the consistency of our schedule, I miss chatting with so many amazing coworkers/friends, and I miss using untouched summer regions of my brain.

One of the best parts about back-to-school is back-to-school shopping!  I don’t go crazy over new clothes…and even if I did, my boys would most likely refuse to wear them.    I get giddy about a couple of things though… new sneakers, new fall yucky weather playground (and fall family farm tour) boots, a few new super thin long and short sleeved shirts for layering, and then the gear!

I’ve also written before about how much I loathe packing lunches….however, being a bit obsessive compulsive, it has become kind of a sport for me.  See  here.

To pack “trash-free”, easy, and fun lunches for the boys….the right gear is essential.  So, on that note, yesterday was lunch gear shopping day!  Exciting, I know!  Actually, that’s kind of a lie, because I did most of it online the other night and they had a big bag ready and waiting for us when we got to the Container Store.  But, once there, we finished up shopping and I let the boys have some input in what else they wanted.

While I realize it is not fascinating business, believe it or not, I’ve been asked by several people what type of “stuff” I buy for lunch boxes.  Many people have also mentioned that packing trash-free lunches sounds difficult, but actually, I find it much easier…and, more importantly, cheaper!  One important factor to mention though is that my boys have access to a microwave to heat up left-overs for lunch…so that may make my lunches different from the norm.

So, without further adieu….this is what we bought this year.  (A good tip is to bring your lunch box with you to make sure things will fit inside before you get them home).  Oh my goodness, I sound crazy, don’t I?

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1.  Pottery Barn lunch box.  Has held up extremely well, super easy to hand wash….and going into its 2nd school year.  They always have sales and aren’t really much more expensive if you get them at the right time.  I’m a big off-season shopper!

2.  Land’s End water bottle.  Not only does it fit perfectly, hold the perfect amount of water, and encourage the boys to drink more water….with several ice cubes, it also helps keep the lunches cold until lunch time.  But…obviously…you can fill it with milk or juice too,  depending on what you and your child prefer.

3.  Skinny ice packs…I put one of the bottom each morning to help keep lunches cold and safe.  I heard a report last year (somewhere) that someone had gone in and tested kids lunch boxes to see if their food was staying at the right temperature during the day (hence staying safe to be edible) and they discovered that about 90% weren’t.  For whatever that is worth.  I don’t usually get hung up on things like that…but, come on, warm yogurt is also just gross!

4.  Awesome Frego glass and silicone containers for microwaving leftovers.  Glass is safer, right?  The silicone makes them easy to pull out of the microwave….and comes in fun colors to appeal to the kids.  It also cushions them incase they get dropped.  Pasta, quesadillas, mini hamburgers, “breakfast for lunch” like scrambled eggs or waffles, cheese steak, soup, fish, grilled cheese, popcorn shrimp or chicken…..  Whatever.

5.  A sandwich container for the days that I haven’t packed left overs or a “heat up” as the boys call it.  Great for more than sandwiches. My boys ask for things like sushi and ham or turkey roll-ups a lot.

6.  The little red “Cool It” pack on the left is for little snacks and dips.  Mostly veggies and salad dressing.  The second photo shows it better.  Not an every day thing, but fun to pack once in a while.

7.  A little 3 pack of small snack holders for things like pretzels, gold fish, cut up fruit, yogurt covered raisins, pepperoni and cheese, olives, apple sauce, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.  Pretty much, you name it, it can go in there.  These are mostly for Thatcher, my older son, because he needs several snacks throughout the day.  I actually pack him a smaller “snack time” bag and then a larger actual lunch box.  His class has a mid-morning snack and an afternoon snack.  In Finn’s class a different parent is responsible for sending in a healthy and yummy snack for the whole class to enjoy once each month.  So, Finn doesn’t need me to pack extra snacks each day. 

8.  However, even more riveting, is that Finn typically needs some extra fuel so that little “Cereal on the Go” container is for him.  My boys eat breakfast really early and get to school at 7:45 so I can get to my classroom on time.  Finn will have some cereal with milk around 8:30.  I put that little container in his classroom fridge so he can help himself when he gets hungry.  Per his teacher’s request…not because I’m super high maintenance.  🙂  Which you most likely won’t believe after reading this post….assuming anyone is still reading.

9.  The clear two-sectioned container usually gets fruit on one side and something else on the other.  Again, pretty much anything goes, and I use that container every day.

10.  And then, there’s the Spork….which is actually a spoon, fork, and fairly dull knife all is one.

If you haven’t fallen asleep yet, congratulations on getting to the end.  All kidding aside, buying larger containers of things like yogurt, apple sauce, and cottage cheese and then filling these small containers each day eliminates A LOT of trash.  Eliminating things like individual cheese sticks, juice boxes, bags of chips, etc. and reusing these small containers instead goes a long way if you consider how many lunches get packed each year.

OK….I’ll hop off my soapbox.  I’m not preaching….just wanted to get more information to those who have asked….and for anyone else who may be interested. Again, our school encourages this, but I also find that I save a lot of money and feel pretty good packing things this way.

Lunch Supplies at the Container Store

GloucesterCast With Patti Amaral and Joey Ciaramitaro Taped 4/18/14

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GloucesterCast With Patti Amaral and Joey Ciaramitaro Taped 4/18/14

Topics Include: Gloucester MA, 01930,  Earth Day 2014, Carry In/ Carry Out, Sidewalk Sweeping Day, Rose Lopiccolo, Recycling, Rozalia Project, Maritime Gloucester, Single Stream Recycling Is Coming, Hookset Sewer Disks

Patti Says- Recycle!


7.5 Lbs of Paper Going Directly Into The Recycling Bin- Are You Kidding Me Restoration Hardware?

Someone I share a house with and may or may not be related to through marriage submits this-

An absolute waste – 7.5lbs of catalogs from restoration hardware came in the mail in one wrapped up package that I dumped directly into the recycling bin…
I would be embarrassed if I worked for RH

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How Bout One Big Piece of Nice Card Stock Saying Check Out Our Awesome Website For What’s Current?

Upcycled Chairs

Friends Polly Hickey and Cheryl Davis have come up with a great idea – finding cast-off chairs on the side of the road, cleaning them up, and selling them at a reasonable price at the Farmer’s Market here in Gloucester on Thursdays. Their business, Upcycled Chairs, has already gained popularity at the Market. Several have been sold. Instead of being discarded in the trash, these chairs will have a new life. Very cool!

Wreath made from rope found at Folly Cove From Mary Bowles

Mary Bowles writes-

Hi Joey,

I was at Folly Cove a couple of weeks ago with my niece and nephew (Lily & Stevie) and we picked up a bunch of the pieces of colorful rope that wash up along the shore there.  I bought a wreath frame and today we used the blue and orange rope to make a wreath.  I took this picture of them holding the finished product at Long Beach.  They were really excited to make something out of stuff they found!

Mary Bowles


Way to recycle!!!!!  Awesome!

Recycling. Hard Copy Yellow Pages Has No Place In The World Of 2012

Driving home I see the plastic bags of yellow pages strewn in front of houses up and down the street.  I pull in the driveway, grab the white plastic bag containing one of the two or three different versions of the yellow pages we will receive this year and promptly drop it into our recycling bin.

In this day of smartphones and computers is there really any need to chew up the lumber for the paper, ink or transportation costs to produce this thing?

I wonder how many of our readership keeps these things kicking around still or how many of you put it straight into the recycling bin?

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Mark Ring offers his perspective on the yellow pages and community phonebooks-

Mark says that they breed like rabbits.  You put one on the coffee table and a month later there’s a stack of 5.  The odds that you’ll find what you are looking for in the big Boston Metro yellow pages are one in a gazilion.   I have yet to ever had any success drilling down for the listing I was looking for in the big Metro yellow pages.  The problem seems to be how they have things categorized in the big Boston Metro Yellow Pages.  Chances are the listing you are looking for is in there but it’s completely mis-categorized.  For example you could be looking for a mattress store and it will be listed under scarves.

The community phone book on the other hand will have every local number listed except for the one you are inevitably looking for.  Never fails.  Ever.

I’m done.  Straight to the recycling bin.