Few people give any thought to where the water goes after we wash the dishes or flush the toilet, but on Cape Cod waste water is serious business. Public sewer systems are rare, waste is literally taken care of in our own back yard.
In the old days people dug cesspools in their backyard where both solids and liquids in waste water were deposited for gradual absorption into the soil. By the time that waste had reached the drinking well or underground acquifer, the soil had "scrubbed" it clean. As the population increased however, the soil's ability to scrub the waste had decreased. Evidence of bacteria and pathogens were creeping into the drinking water supply. Eeww. Enter the septic system.
Initially considered a temporary solution, septic systems have evolved into a sophisticated and preferred method of on-site waste water disposal. And they're really pretty cool when you learn what goes on in that yard of yours.
The video below illustrates how a septic system works. It was produced by Lapin Septic Services in Florida, but the concept applies to Cape Cod too.
Septic Systems are under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the local Boards of Health. We don't think much about household sewage until it's time to sell the house, and then everybody wants to know about the septic system.
Here are some facts about septic systems and the law which regulates their use, known as "Title V", according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors: Q: When are septic system and cesspool inspections required under Title 5?
Septic system and cesspool inspections are required in the following circumstances:
Within 2 years before the sale of a home or transfer of title;
In certain inheritance situations; (e.g. - when a child inherits a house from his/her parents);
In certain insolvency proceedings (e.g. - bankruptcy, tax taking or foreclosure);
When the use of the home is changed (e.g. - from residential to commercial use);
When the footprint of the house is enlarged;
When the home is expanded and a building, or occupancy permit is required (e.g. - adding a bedroom) Q: When are septic system and cesspool inspections NOT required under Title 5?
Septic system and cesspool inspections are not required in the following circumstances:
When a mortgage is refinanced;
When the system was inspected within 3 years before the sale and you have records proving that your system was pumped annually since the inspection;
Title to the house is transferred from one spouse to another or placed in certain family trusts;
When the local board of health issued a certificate of compliance within 2 years before the time of transfer of title;
When the community has adopted a comprehensive plan approved by DEP requiring periodic inspections and the system was inspected at the most recent time required by the plan; or
When the homeowner has entered into an enforceable agreement, binding on subsequent buyers, with the board of health requiring an upgrade of the system or connection to the municipal sewer system within 2 years of transfer or sale.
For more information about septic systems in Massachusetts, probably way
more than you ever wanted to know, click here
The invitation came through the multiple listing service; there would be a broker's open house at the Ridge Club in Sandwich and Bobby Orr would be in attendance. Clear the schedule. I'm there.
For anyone who lived under a rock for the second half of the 20th century, Bobby Orr was the Boston Bruin heartthrob who lead his team to the National Hockey League Stanley Cub Championship in 1970 and again in 1972. He was Sport's Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year in '72 and inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 as the youngest player ever to be so honored. Orr is arguably one of the greatest pro athletes of all time.
I was in my early teens when Bobby Orr fever swept New England, and I got the fever again tonight. Orr is one of a dozen owners of the beautiful Ridge Club of Sandwich
, a gated golf community in interior Cape Cod where Realtors gathered over cocktails tonight to learn more about the homes for sale there.
Tonight Orr sat at a table with a stack of glory days photos he graciously autographed as he posed for pictures with star-struck Realtors like myself. He could not have been more of a gentleman. Nor could he have been more hot. After I instagrammed a photo, some followers weighed in. "He's still soooo handsome", wrote one. "He looks great!" said another.
When I asked him how many 50-something year old women tell him they had a crush on him in the early 70's, he paused and said actually that was kind of young. And the image of a bunch of grannies telling him he's cute made us laugh. You can see that in the photos. He was a really good sport.
Thanks to Realtor Wendy Beaulieu of William Raveis Real Estate, who took the photos with my iphone after her own photo op with Orr was finished.
And thanks to Bobby Orr himself, for inscribing his photo to my three boys, and for an unforgettable evening with my teen idol. There is nothing like finally meeting someone who made you aware of a heartbeat more than 40 years ago. My life is almost complete.
Carlton Fisk, are you going to be on the Cape any time soon?
I'm sorry for not writing about the Broker's Tour in Harwich lately. I attended a closing last Tuesday and today it is my turn to man the front desk at the office, so I haven't been able to attend.
While checking out the latest offerings on the Multiple Listing Service, I found an unusual piece of Cape Cod land for sale in Falmouth that I thought you would find interesting.
Looks pretty good, but nothing extraordinary, right? Let's widen out.
See that asphalt behind the lot and neighboring homes? That's no highway. It's a landing strip for private planes.
Here is an ariel photo from the Falmouth Airpark website
. You can walk out your back door, hop in your plane and be on Martha's Vineyard faster than others can figure out the ferry schedule.
The Falmouth Airpark is privately owned by the Homeowner's Association and features a 2,298' long by 40' wide landing strip for single engine planes. Homeowners typically build small hangars rather than garages to house their planes, however hangar space is available for rent at $350 to $400 per month if preferred. Association fees cover the maintenance costs.
The lot for sale at 30 Quimby Lane, E. Falmouth is .53 acres and is listed at $165,000.
The Falmouth Airpark is one of eight airports on Cape Cod and the Islands. Primary airports include Barnstable Municipal, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Provincetown. Smaller aviation facilities exist with Cape Cod Airport in Marstons Mills, Chatham Municipal Airport, Falmouth Airpark and Katama Airpark on the Vineyard. The Otis Air National Guard base is located in Mashpee as well.
Next week I hope to join the Broker's Tour again. I'll report what I find.
The annual International Builder's Show took place in Las Vegas in January and the products featured at the giant convention are hitting the market now.
Here are some highlights of what is available in new home construction or remodeling, courtesy of Realtor Magazine.
What is your favorite?
My mother grew up in Munich, Germany and the stories she told of World War II trumped anything my Dad had to say about his time as the Captain of a U.S. Navy Ship.
When Germany lost the war my 24-year old mother and her military employer, a family friend, suddenly found themselves in northern Germany with no purpose and no way to get home to the south. The rail lines were bombed out, the currency had collapsed, and food was scarce. My mother and her boss found a strange little three-wheeled car and when it ran out of gas and there was no more to be had, they picked up a horse.
I have photos of my mom smiling in that car, and of the German captain atop the horse. How they could seem so OK while traveling hundreds of miles under difficult circumstances to get home is an odd juxtaposition.
When mom arrived home to Munich, little of what she had left was still there. Much of that beautiful Bavarian city lay destroyed by allied bombs, with the architecture of her youth in piles of bricks, glass and mortar.
And that was the lighter toll. With so many soldiers sacrificed, two-thirds of the population of Germany after the War were women. They would be the ones called upon to literally rebuild their country.
Mom told me how she reported to work in the city center each day, was handed a crude wooden wheelbarrow, loaded it up with bricks, and walked it in a long parade of other women with loads of bricks to a location a few miles out of town. They dumped the bricks, turned around and did it again for months. And it happened like this in every major German city. Mom never complained that the work was boring or hard. Like the odd trip home by horse, there was a peaceful acceptance in recalling what had to be done.
I thought her story was rather unique until I met a young German woman recently who told me there was a name for the women who did this, and I don’t know if my mom ever knew it because she completely immersed herself in her adopted country of America beginning in 1947. She emigrated before the name trummerfrauen, or Women of the Rubble, was created.
Much has been made of Rosie the Riveter, the fictional American woman who represented so many others who built the planes and tanks in factories while our men fought overseas. But we should also remember the trummerfrauen, Women of the Rubble, of Germany. Domestic victims of Hitler's War, they did not invite conflict but they got one, right in their neighborhoods.
I would guess in many countries there are names for the women who saw a tough, physically demanding problem and worked it. If you know any, I'd love to hear from you.
Happy Mother's Day to women of strength everywhere.
Perhaps the most famous display of azaleas in the country is at Augusta National in Georgia, home of the Pro Golfer's Association Master's Tournament. When the northern half of the country is mired in late-winter doldrums, the golf course at Augusta appears to be on fire. Even non-golfers like myself tune in just to get a shot of much needed color.
Cape Cod's soil and climate are suitable for azaleas as well and they are on full display right now.
Combined with the brilliant yellow forsythia, azaleas are flames of optimism at the foundation of a home, beside a driveway, or as a specimen plant at the edge of a woodland.
Azaleas thrive in areas where the winter temperature doesn't fall much past zero, which is U.S. Agricultural climate zones 5 through 9.
They are part of the Rhododendron genus of plants and include thousands of varieties.
Azaleas can shed their leaves (deciduous) or hold them year round (evergreen).
Deciduous plants flower in pink, red or orange while evergreens flower purple and red.
Evergreen azaleas flower earlier than deciduous and prefer partial shade.
Deciduous varieties prefer full sun and can bloom throughout the summer.
If you want to include azaleas in your landscape, plant them in well drained, slightly acidic soil --just what the plant doctor ordered on Cape Cod.
Be sure the hole you dig is not overrun with roots from nearby trees. These will compete for water with your azalea, and the trees will win.
If you already have azaleas in your garden and you want to move them to another spot, the best time to transplant is autumn.
But if you don't want to wait, move the plant once it stops flowering.
Just remember to water frequently all summer long as the roots get adjusted to their new home.
There are thousands of varieties of azaleas and Cape Cod garden centers have a fresh supply of the ones that grow best in our zone 7 conditions.
Consult the experts at these centers for specific questions about planting and caring for your brilliant and beautiful azaleas.
I showed a beautiful home in Yarmouth Port yesterday, in the Pheasant Cove neighborhood near Cape Cod Bay.
With so much of my business concentrated near Nantucket Sound and Harwich, Chatham and Dennis, it was a pleasure to poke around the bay side.
My buyers for this property are out of town. Like many people who live several hours off Cape, there is limited opportunity to run around and look at houses, so I run around for them with my video camera.
Here is a 360 degree panorama of Gray's Beach in Yarmouth Port, the one saltwater beach in that village. The couple seen in the beginning of the video were friendly and as warm to a stranger as the bright, 70 degree day.
Yarmouth Port Realtor and Pheasant Cove resident Tom Manning directed me to a dead-end street in the neighborhood where he had cut a path through the underbrush to access a view of the enormous marsh around Bass Cove River. Tom wanted to make sure my buyers were aware of this unusual feature nearby. Consider it done Tom.
It is beautiful, as Tom promised, so unique and wonderfully hidden from the world.
This is so cute. You cut a path through to a picturesque marsh and you name it. "Tom's Path". Really Cape Cod.
You wouldn't believe the bird life out here. I watched an osprey carry a huge bundle of sticks to a nest in the middle of the marsh. I wish I had a telephoto lens to grab the shot.
Tom says people bring wine out here to enjoy the perfectly positioned setting sun. I can imagine how great that is.
To hear Tom talk up the area you would think there is no better place in the world. And for him, there might not be. That's how it is on the Cape. Every town, every area has it's rabid fans.
Thanks to Tom Manning I discovered a wonderful secret in Yarmouth Port yesterday; a hidden little path cut and named by a neighbor for the neighbors.
I intend to go back and next time, I'll bring some wine.
It's that time again, time for the weekly Broker's Tour of Harwich, your inside track to the newest homes to hit the market.
Step inside 90 Willow Street.
This home is a "Tale of Two Houses". The first floor is renovated and updated and the second floor, not so much.
The kitchen is open, and isn't the window seat an unexpected pleasure?
I'm a sucker for traditional Cape Cod charm, particularly in living rooms. Note the appropriately-scaled fire place with built-ins in knotty pine. As I've said before, it's time for knotty pine to make a comeback.
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I love these solid wood Colonial doors! The Cape used to be chock full of them but they've gradually been replaced with hollow-core or fiberglass doors from the builder's supply.
Not these. The forged wrought iron hinges and door latch are authentic Cape.
The second floor of 90 Willow Street could use some updating but it's in a neighborhood of tidy homes, and it is offered at $329,000.
Now it's time to go inland to enjoy spacious 18 Blueberry Lane in Harwich.
With two bedrooms and two bathrooms this home is ideal as a starter, retirement or second home.
Paint the cabinets "of-the-moment" gray, and switch out the counter with stone and this kitchen would sing.
Regular readers of this column know my preference for rooms with two walls of windows and light, and this one has it. 18 Blueberry Lane is listed at $337,000.
OK now check out this gracious offering at 3 Mashpa Road in the lakes district of Harwich. With a private association beach and shared dock, you can spread out and enjoy beautiful Long Pond.
The open floor plan in this 2,714 square foot beauty is perfect for entertaining or just sitting down and enjoying the view all around you.
I can honestly tell you my meals would taste better prepared in a kitchen like this. Wow.
This exquisite space has two, yes, two decks off each side. It might be my favorite room in the house.
So many options and so little time. 3 Mashpa Rd. is listed at $725,000.
One last look at delightful 3 Mashpa Road.
Travel way back in time now to the year 1865 where time has gently touched this East Harwich antique on 241 Pleasant Bay Road.
Continuing the vintage door theme, check out this unique passage in an addition built in the 1940s.
Believe it or not, this is an exterior door.
Where can you even find hinges like that, right?
Four bedrooms on the second floor reflect time-honored sensitivities. Restore the antique authenticity of the place, or update completely. Heck, just move in, drop your stuff and explore the nearby golf courses and bay beaches. There is plenty of choice in this 2,648 grande dame, offered at $489,900.
Now put on your hard hat and come tour a stunner under construction within eyesight of Saquatucket Harbor and the Freedom Ferry to Nantucket. Let's enter 5 Meadow Mere Lane.
At just under 3,000 square feet, this home is serious about comfort and amenities.
Benjamen Moore "maritime white" covers the entire interior for a soft and uniform veil on the place.
I'm obsessed with soapstone counter tops and because I installed them in my own home, I consider myself an expert on them. So guess what? It's back to Counter Top School for me. What I thought was soapstone here is actually a honed granite. It fooled us all. Isn't it lovely? And granite is less expensive than soapstone, so it's a win-win.
Step onto the second-floor balcony and peak at the harbor in the off-season before leaves obscure it all and give you complete privacy.
All this can be yours for $1,290,000.
A little over budget you say? Come with me. I have a surprise for you.
Let's tour a condo where the living is easy and you are steps to town and the beach.
Your ocean playground is beyond the Bank Street Beach Parking lot, but you sit so high above it, you scan the horizon to the left and right and look over $2 + million properties. At left is a home on Davis Lane currently under construction.
Yet you only paid $349,000 for this condo at 25 Bank Street. There is nothing on the market in the lower Cape with a view of the ocean at this price.
OK, want to see any of them for yourself? Click the blue button and let's get started.
Dangerous shoals created by Hurricane Sandy and a series of winter storms threaten to disrupt ferry service between Hyannis and the Islands, as the summer travel season begins Memorial Day weekend.
The Steamship Authority awaits approval from its emergency request to dredge, after the storms pushed sand into the harbor and reduced the depth of the shipping lane. Two ferries recently hit bottom and damaged their hulls with no injury to passengers.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just concluded the public comment process. If all approvals are met dredging could begin in approximately six to seven weeks. An estimated 90,000 to 100,000 cubic yards of clean sand will be removed by barge and deposited off-shore, away from shipping lanes.
Until that time, the SSA is carefully monitoring the tides to ensure adequate depth for the large vessels. Normal channel depth is 13 feet, however shoals have reduced that depth to 7 feet in some areas. With dredging not expected until the summer tourist season is well underway, passengers are advised to check the SSA website
for the latest conditions, departures and arrivals
In addition to tide-related delays, heavy cargo such as trucks and commercial vehicles, might be left at the dock for a later trip at higher tide, SSA officials say.
Commercial cod fisherman inspects catch. Photo credit: CNN
As any seafood lover will tell you, not all fish is alike. Firm or flaky, light or rich, shell or none; the fruit de mer you put on your plate distinguishes the entire meal.
With visitors setting their sites on a Cape vacation and the fish stores coming alive again, here is your primer to Cape Cod fish, thanks to information provided by the Cape Cod Fish Share program.
Atlantic Cod: Bartholemew Gosnold is credited with the “European discovery” of New England, and he named Cape Cod for the the plentiful “codfyshes” which “pestered” his ship. Atlantic cod is sweeter than its Pacific cousin; it boasts a mild flavor and flaky white flesh. It’s perfect for broiling, baking, steaming, smoking, and of course, chowdah!
Haddock: Haddock has a superior flavor. The meat is lean and white (less firm than cod), and flakes beautifully when cooked. Haddock is excellent baked, broiled, fried, poached or used in a chowder or stew. Scrod is another term for “small haddock.”
Yellow Tail Flounder: Yellowtail flounder is sought after by cooks: the meat is mild, lean, flaky and and adaptable to lots of great recipes. Since it is a lean fish, however, the best way to cook flounder is with wine, sauces and other liquids to help keep them from drying out.
Winter Skate: Skates are members of the shark family that have pectoral fins so exaggerated they are called “wings”. This allows them to lie flat on the ocean floor and disappear into the sand. It is not common, but seen in areas (like New England) that have a strong fishing and seafood tradition. The traditional preparation for skate is gently seared or sauteed with a brown butter sauce.
Redfish: The flesh of the redfish is sometimes pink, lean, firm, flaky and very tasty! It is similar to perch and is the star of a classic Cajun dish: served “blackened” and pan-charred in butter. It’s also a great addition to a classic French bouillabaisse.
Monkfish: The tail meat of the monkfish is delicious: dense, sweet, and very similar to lobster tail in flavor and texture. Monkfish is an excellent low-fat, low-cholesterol source of protein and vitamins. It’s best cooked with some moisture: excellent preparations include braising, or roasting with a sauce.
Pollock: A member of the Cod family, this fish is wild captured and very sustainable right now. Atlantic Pollock has a mild and delicate flavor and flaky texture, and has a higher oil content than Pacific Pollock.
Silver Hake: Also known as Atlantic Whiting, Silver Perch and Silver Trout. The flesh is lean and flaky, yet remains moist when cooking. Hake can be prepared like cod, which is versatile and promises excellent results after baking, poaching, sautéing, grilling, and roasting. Hake is also used for sushi and sashimi in Japanese markets.
Sand Dab: This fish is sometimes called “the littlest flounder” — even the name sounds cute, doesn’t it? They have a sweet, soft texture that is uncommonly moist and mild. Frying or sauteing are the chief cooking methods for dabs. You’ll get these the best way possible: super-fresh, cleaned and ready to go!
Lobster / Cull Lobster: Lobsters are wonderful in general, and you will be delighted to discover that Cape lobsters have a harder shell, sweeter meat, and more meat in the lobster than the more northern Gulf of Maine lobster. Classic preparations are boiled or steamed. Cull lobsters are either missing a claw or have a smaller one, and are a great sustainable option as the fishermen cannot sell them to big markets or chains. The delightful surprise here is that culls have more meat in the tail.
Sea Scallops: Scallops are characterized by having two types of meat in one shell: the adductor muscle, called “scallop” which is white and meaty, and the roe, called “coral”, which is red or white and soft. Fresh scallops are wonderful sautéed, or lightly coated in panko crumbs and pan fried.
Nantucket Bay Scallops: In season for just November and December, these scallops are smaller and more tender than their sea scallop cousins. Their limited availability and velvety texture usually make them more costly, but the rich flavor also means you don’t need as large a portion to have a satisfying meal. To preserve their delicate flavor, they’re best cooked simply – a quick sear in a sauté pan is all you need!
Northern Shrimp: Wild Northern shrimp has firm, mild, sweet-tasting flesh in the tail and body, and the shrimp from colder waters are generally smaller and more succulent. They are primarily caught with bottom trawls equipped with grates, which help reduce the bycatch of other groundfish. Fresh shrimp should be used as soon as possible, but they freeze extremely well (both whole and peeled) if you are not ready to cook them right away. When properly cooked (not overcooked), they become firm and opaque. Shrimp are an extremely versatile seafood, lending themselves well to simple sautées with garlic and herbs, as well as richer dishes like bisque.