Category Archives: Education

On The Waterfront — a new TV show premieres Tuesday 7/22 on Cape Ann TV

From Cape Ann TV’s Lisa Smith:

On the Waterfront is a brand new, original production from Cape Ann TV. The show takes an in-depth look at the Cape Ann ecosystem, highlighting the people and businesses that rely on the ocean for survival. The premiere episode features the lifecycle of the clam. Shep Means, a clammer from Essex and Gloucester hosts the show. Join Shep as he goes digging on the clam flats and the beach, stops by Essex Shellfish to weigh them up, then visits Intershell to see them shucked and packaged, and finally to Woodman’s to fry them and eat them.

Air times on TV are:

Tuesday, July 22 at 7:30 pm

Wednesday, July 23 at 9:00 am and 8:00 pm

Friday., July 25 at 11:30 am and 8:30 pm

Saturday, July 26 at 9:00 pm

Sunday, July 27 at 9:30 am and 11:00 pm

Zimbabwe? Zimbabwe.

I was talking with a friend the other day about how our young children are like little sponges and we shared stories about the crazy amounts of information that they are able to learn…and I remembered this little video.

I count my blessings every day that Thatcher and Finn are in love with learning and that they appreciate all that is being introduced to them at the Harborlight-Stoneridge Montessori School.

Thatcher took this video of Finn practicing a song that he learned to remember all of the countries in Africa….and then it leads into his actual performance with his Preschool class….during which, he clearly needs to pee and it appears he is breaking a sweat trying to remember the words.  He is also busting out some of his father’s mad dance moves :)   Undeniably my husband’s child.

And…along those same lines…

Here is a link about the epic failure of Americans to label a map of Europe and, likewise, of Brits to label a map of the United States.


Does it Get Any Better?

I can imagine that it may get old listening to me drone on about how unbelievably awesome it is to live here on Cape Ann, but forgive me, because I’m about to do it again.

Last night, onboard the Lannon, I had the pleasure of meeting some people throughout the evening that I had never met before and whom I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with.  There was the “always trust a Burnham” friend who insisted that my super moon photos are inaccurate (whom I hope to prove wrong with a photo of the moon near the Annisquam Yacht Club that I’ll attach in a minute)…the “excuse me ma’am” friend who, while he made me feel like I was 90 years old, also made me smile each time he walked by…..a possible new dentist….a really nice gentleman and FOB who used to live in the same home on Pebble Beach that my husband grew up in, etc.  I love meeting new people and each of those conversations enhanced an evening that was already pretty phenomenal because of the company of existing friends, a gorgeous evening, and an amazing venue.  Ummm….and a rum drink in a coconut.  Come on, really!  Several people asked me the same question…”What do you write about for GMG?”  I found myself at a loss for a decent answer at first, but at the end of the night, I found myself saying, “I cheerlead for how crazy cool Cape Ann is.”  Seemed like a good enough answer.

So, for kicks, allow me to recap the last seven days….as if anyone really needs me to highlight how crazy awesome this community is.

In 7 days’ time, we have gotten up close and personal with no fewer than 20 humpback whales (both on the Hurricane from Cape Ann Whale Watch and a smallish center console boat courtesy of some very good friends). We spent a super fun evening with those same friends to celebrate my husband’s birthday, took their boat around the backshore (some of the most beautiful coastline in the world if you ask me), had lots of delicious food and drinks at The Studio, stopped at the Mile Marker, and saw an incredible sunset over Thacher’s Island on the way home.  Two days later the kids joined us as we all enjoyed a day that took us out of Rockport Harbor, around the backshore again, into Gloucester Harbor, out to Stellwagen Bank, to the Cape Ann Brewery, down the Annisquam River, for a evening swim at Wingaersheek Beach, a “meet and greet” with Tyler on the Pin Wheel from Wicked Tuna (who came over because he thought we were having boat trouble when he saw the kids waving to him…How nice is that?!), around Halibut Point, and back home into Rockport.  My boys have hauled lobster traps with “Uncle Dave”. We have spent time at what the boys call “our beach” right at the end of our road.  Meeting friends at Old Garden Beach is always one of our favorite types of summer day and never gets old.  To see my boys growing up alongside the children of good friends and playing with them summer after summer…all carefree and sandy is too good for words.  We have gone on the Gloucester Harbor Water Shuttle…twice….with two different groups of friends…and the boys were thrilled to help impart a bit of their knowledge of the waterfront.  Both of those harbor tours ended with fun meals and laughs on outdoor decks.  Does it get any better?  We spent an afternoon at Capt. Carlos and another one at the Studio (which will never get old).  We had a play date at Maritime Gloucester for probably the thirtieth time… and loved it as if it was the 1st.  We’ve ordered smoothies and simply driven around town…because, for some reason, that NEVER gets old for the boys.  We’ve watched boats unload and watched fisherman mend gear.  We’ve walked through Rockport, hung out with United States Navy, had a few ice creams along the way, bought cupcakes at Rockin’ Cupcakes on Bearskin Neck for Freddy’s b-day, and sat by our new fire pit at night.  Oh, and of course, took an incredible evening sail on the Thomas Lannon.  For real…quite a week.

I write this not to bore you with a-week-in-the-life-of-the-Schraffts, but rather to demonstrate how a completely normal week can unfold with ease in one of the world’s best communities.

Go get your summer on, peeps.  Embrace this place for all it has to offer!

Maritime Glouceter

The Lannon

Rockin’ Cupcakes

The Studio Restaurant

Gloucester Water Shuttle

Mile Marker

Capt. Carlos

Cape Ann Whale Watch




Lights! Camera! Nature! Movies by kids ages 7-12 @ Cape Ann Community Cinema Tomorrow (SAT 7/12) NOON-2pm

From Cape Ann TV’s Lisa Smith:

Lights! Camera! Nature! Come to the Cape Ann Community Cinema on Sat., July 12 at Noon to 2 PM , to watch nature movies made by kids ages 7-12 in the the Kestrel Educational Adventure Program.

Here is one of the movies being screened “Telephone Island”:

Welcome to Telephone Island a magical island off the coast of Gloucester, Ma and it is filled with fascinating animals. This movie was made in the Spring-Summer of 2014 by a student in the Kestrel Foundation’s Lights, Camera, Nature program. The program is led by Jessica Kagle and made in co-operation with Cape Ann TV where the students edited their movies. Screening of this movie and the others made in the spring program will be at the Cape Ann Community Cinema on Main St. in Gloucester, Sat., July 12, 2014 at noon to 2pm along with NOVA’s “The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies”.

Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team Update

Rick Roth writes ~

Saturday July 12, 2014 9am-1pm
Hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Rockport at the Church, 4 Cleaves Street.
All kinds of critters and other stuff. We’ll be there with a bunch of snakes.

Thursday July 17, 2014 3-6pm (I think)
Cape Ann Farmer’s Market, Stage Fort Park, Gloucester
We’ll be there with a bunch of snakes and the good people from Art Haven will lead the Kid’s Activity- painting wooden snakes.

And then…
Saturday July 26, 2014 Time TBA
Snakes of New England and the World- 1 hour live animal presentation.
Sawyer Free Library, 2 Dale Ave., Gloucester MA

Okay, I guess you can start volunteering for these shows now.

Meanwhile… this really cool vernal pond thing is about to take place, likely in the next week or two. The emergence of newly metamorphosed wood frogs. They look just like the adults except tiny. Like 1/2 inch. We’ll be doing a daytime field trip to see these guys soon. Nick Taormina is scouting the pond to see just when they start hopping. Keep watching you CAVPT emails for final details on this exciting outing. And don’t forget to volunteer. We have nobody yet for Saturday at the UU Church in Rockport.

Thanks, Rick

we only have one earth, save it



What the Fluke

I will swim with a humpback whale some day.

It’s at the top of my bucket list for sure.

I actually planned a vacation to Costa Rica several years ago for the opportunity to swim with the whales in Drake Bay, but sadly, no whales were in the area during my stay.

I have, however, had the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions, rays, black tip reef sharks, and manatees.  Each of those experiences are kind of sacred to me.  All are moments that I will never forget.

While swimming with wild marine life may not be everyone’s cup of tea, if you haven’t been on at least one amazing whale watch, you are missing out.  We are incredibly fortunate to have whales not far off our coast for a good part of the year.  I, all kidding aside, sometimes find myself laying awake at night thinking, “I wonder what the whales are doing right now?” Freak meter rating high, I realize, but true nonetheless.

So, today, knowing that the whales have been plentiful for the past several days, we went for a trip with Cape Ann Whale Watch.  How do I know they’ve been plentiful you may ask?  I follow their blog.

I had the opportunity to speak with both long time owners, Nick Danikas and Jim Douglass, in the parking lot prior to the trip.  Both are great guys who are pretty passionate about offering trips that leave guests with memories to last a lifetime.

Likewise, the crew and the naturalists are phenomenal and beyond highly educated on the matter of whales and sea life indigenous to our waters. Their enthusiasm was contagious.  Even the captain, John Karvelas, was excitedly pointing out bubble clouds as they formed on the surface of the water.  Bubble clouds are a method that whales use to trap krill and sand eels in a tight school so that they can emerge, mouths open, and swallow up a giant meal.

Today’s trip was nothing short of amazing.  To begin, we only had to head 11 miles off the Dog Bar Breakwater, which was a treat in itself.  After a short steam, we were literally surrounded by humpback whales.  I’ve been on many whale watches.  Both on local whale watching boats and on smaller private boats. Today’s trip was one for the record books.

Click Here for more information about Cape Ann Whale Watch

Hear are some of my favorite photos from today’s trip.


Young and Salty

We were on our good friends’ boat the other day with their 3 children, our two boys, and two additional cousins.  As we watched all of the children laugh and chill on the bow while we made our way around the back shore of Gloucester, he said, “I love that these kids are all growing up so salty.”

Well, me too.

Today the boys asked if I would do a post in which they could talk about how they haul lobster traps.  How do you say “no” to that!  So, as they hauled some gear, I took a bunch of photos and they taught me what was up along the way.

This is what they had to say….


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Wicked Tuna Special on Cape Ann TV TOMORROW (WED) @ 6:30 P.M.

Don’t miss the premiere of this very special Local Music Seen with Allen Estes tomorrow night at 6:30 on Cape Ann TV Channel 12.  This special was shot on location at Alchemy Bistro (at the same time as Nat Geo was shooting) and Mile Marker One.  Allen gets some of the Wicked Tuna captains to tell him what music they play aboard ship for good luck catching fish.  Then he performs his Howard Blackburn hit “Not With Ya Hands” for them.  Mix in a Wicked Tuna Seafood Throwdown and a few other surprises for a show you don’t want to miss.  Here’s a short preview of the energy you can expect from this show!

Fiesta goes on for days, but the FISK open house is only June 28 from 2-6pm. Every music lover should be there.

For any lover of music, these open houses are a treasured experience you will never forget (see posts about Fisk here).  You can literally walk INSIDE the organ while it’s being played by top organ players, who come to these open houses to test them out.  And it’s FREE.  Save the date now and don’t miss this one.

You are cordially invited to join us at our Gloucester workshop

to celebrate the creation of two new pipe organs–

Saturday, June 28
2pm – 6pm
C.B. Fisk, Inc

21 Kondelin Road
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
978 283-1909  •
click here for map

4 More Days of School Lunches to Pack!!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we Schraffts are summer people. Let there be no mistake that I love my job… and I mean no offense to my amazing little students, but the count down to summer vacation is almost more excitement than I can even stand.  Total giddiness….epic warm fuzzies.

Sure, beach days, quick getaways, sleeping in, music on lawns, margaritas on decks, sushi feeding frenzies, long nights by the fire pit and dirty, salty, and happy kids = a happy mom, but one of the most exciting parts of summer vacations is NO MORE LUNCH PACKING.

Possibly you can’t relate to this.  So forgive me.  But, lunch packing is my least favorite thing…ever.  It isn’t that its hard…it is just so damn Ground Hog’s Day.  Unpack the lunch boxes, soak the containers, wash, rinse, dry….and repack.  Ugh.  It doesn’t necessarily help that I started to put a little photo in each of the boys’ lunch boxes when they were toddlers and now neither of them will let me stop.  SOOOO….factor in the “pick-a-photo-and-wrap-it-in-the-shark-print-cloth-napkins-that-they-like-to-use” step…and I’m S.P.E.N.T.

That brings me to my point.  The school where I teach…and that my boys attend…has a “Green Initiative”.  It is suggested, but obviously not mandated, that the children have as little trash as possible in their lunch boxes.  Now, complain as I have about the process of packing lunches, I am more than happy to do my part to not only leave a smaller footprint, but to also teach my boys that we need to be conscious of our impact on our environment and good friend, Planet Earth.

So, we buy big containers of yogurt and scoop daily amounts into small lunch containers.  My boys drink ice water from reusable water bottles and don’t use juice boxes, etc.  We don’t use little snack bag sized things like goldfish or chips…we just throw a handful or so into one of their reusable containers from the bigger bag.

The boys and I were talking earlier about the fact that today is World Oceans Day and that caused me to remember a friend’s reaction when she saw me packing the boys’ lunches one evening. It had never occurred to her to pack lunch “that way” (as she put it) and she was happy to start.

So, while packing lunches as a whole will remain annoying to me, I guess I am at least happy that we are doing our part.  I’m glad the boys are learning a lesson….and, if there happens to be an ocean animal living life better somewhere because of our lack-of-lunch-trash then ever better.  A win-win.


Happy (day after) World Oceans Day!!

Check out photos of the humpbacks feeding out on Stellwagen Bank from Cape Ann Whale Watch.  


Graduation Day!

During two previous Physical/Occupational Therapy sessions Fred made pizza and Liz made cookies. On this day Shelley made calzones, covered with Virgilio's chunky Tomato - Basil pasta sauce. That's a delicious combination. The next course consisted therapeutic exercises.

During two previous Physical/Occupational Therapy sessions Fred made pizza and Liz made cookies. On this day Shelley made calzones, covered with Virgilio’s chunky Tomato – Basil pasta sauce. That’s a delicious combination. The next course consisted therapeutic exercises.


My physical and occupational therapists Jess and Shelley with their gifts from me: Fish City shirt from my gallery and "Bad Ass" socks from the POP Gallery. Small gifts for two people who played big in my recovery. A diploma, signed by the therapy team and Den Mar staff, celebrates how I got my mobility back. As the three of us walked back to my room, Jess played the Pomp and Circumstance march on her iPhone. People the length of the hall clapped and cheered. I could only purse my lips to contain the emotion and concentrate on my walking.

My physical and occupational therapists Jess and Shelley with their gifts from me: Fish City shirt from my gallery and “Bad Ass” socks from the POP Gallery. Small gifts for two people who played big in my recovery. A diploma, signed by the therapy team and Den Mar staff, celebrates how I got my mobility back. As the three of us walked back to my room, Jess played the Pomp and Circumstance march on her iPhone. People the length of the hall clapped and cheered. I could only purse my lips to contain the emotion and concentrate on my walking.






For Hire…if you need a fire pit.

A little bit of elbow grease never hurt anyone.  Its about time the boys start pulling some weight around the house for pete’s sake.

Loving our new fire pit!!  A totally fun afternoon project for VERY little $$$!  And…the boys and I were very proud of ourselves…which is a bonus.  Had we been thinking we would have saved this project for Father’s Day….damn.

Drugged driving PSA filmed at Good Harbor Beach and the Back Shore

Lisa Smith from Cape Ann TV send us this nice note along with her new PSA discouraging drugged driving.

Here is a Public Service Announcement we made with the Healthy Gloucester Collaborative and the Gloucester Youth Council about the consequences of drugged driving. We filmed it at Good Harbor and the Back Shore.


Who knew!   Well, I, for one, did not.  I am quite certain, however, that some of GMG’s savvy followers are well aware of this problem, but it was news to me!

While some of the video footage of these highflying Asian Carp pelting boaters near the Great Lakes may seem funny at first, evidently this is a huge problem and a cause for great concern.

Not to make light, but it was hard to not envision this happening to us while boating down the Annisquam River or in the waters of Gloucester or Rockport Harbor.  Not sure what I would do.  It also reminded me of the time that we were fishing in the Sea of Cortez and I asked the captain, “What type of bird are those that are flying in and out of the water?” only to be answer with a giggle and, “Well, those swimming birds are actually flying fish.”  I blame it on the coronas.


Article on Chicago’s Looming Asian Carp Problem


Disclaimer:  Please forgive the language on this one.  If you’re easily offended, turn down the volume.  But this video shows how extreme this carp onslaught can be!




The “Magic Genius”

I knew this was a slippery slope the moment I opened my mouth.  But, there was no turning back.  Again, weak and vulnerable, and being peppered with questions, I let my guard down.  This time, however, I was surprised to get off the hook…and surprised, dammit, to wish that I wasn’t left alone so quickly.

Once again, this little story comes from a day at the farm.  Last week, we left school and went out to get some mini golf and ice cream gift cards for two of Thatcher’s friends who were having a joint party.  (No, not a “joint” party….that would be wildly inappropriate for boys turning 8!!  Although, those would be some parents that might be a trip to hang with).  I digress.  Anyway, with gift cards in hand, and our own ice creams to boot, we went around back to see the cows (again).

Somehow the question, “Are these cows boys or girls?” came up.  I should have seen the writing on the wall….but my almond joy ice cream was dripping down my arm and a tractor was heading right for us.  The next several questions led to a dissertation on cows.  I explained to them, within the best of my ability, that most of the cows we were seeing were girls…or heifers…and that boy “cows” are actually called bulls.  And that the bulls were kept separate.

Obviously….the next question was “Why are they kept separate?”    Sigh….here it comes.   Well, this is a dairy farm and it is the girl cows who provide the milk…so that they can make gallons of milk that you saw and the ice cream that you’re eating.  They don’t need the bulls for that.  But, they have some bulls around so that they can have more baby cows (like the one we watched being born last year)…some of which grow up to be the next dairy cows.  You see?  Ok, let’s go see the goats.

So….you can see where this is going.  It went down a little something like this….

Finn: Because it takes a daddy cow and a mommy cow to make a baby cow.

Me: That’s right, Finn.

Thatcher: (Because now, thankfully, Finn is suddenly more enthralled with the massive amounts of pee coming from one of the cows…and why there is smoke rising as it pelts the ground) So, how does the daddy cow help make the baby cow?

Me: Oh, that’s a story for another day.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m usually a fan of full disclosure…but, by 5:00…after a full day of getting the boys ready for school, out of the house, into their classrooms and then walking down the hallway to teach in my own classroom all day long, I have already answered approximately 3,741 questions…and I’m tired!!   So, “How are baby cows made?” is going to have to wait until I’m on my A Game.  Whenever the hell that might be.

Unbelievably though, for the first time EVER, the questions stopped.  The silence was down right scary.  It was uncomfortable and unchartered territory.  I knew I should leave it alone, relish in it even, but it was so foreign to me, that I was confused.  I thought about explaining more, but I let the quiet settle in….and I liked it.  After a few seconds, I even allowed myself to think, “Ok….well then…go with it…we’re good.  But just then…just when I thought I was in the clear…the little bugger piped up…and with a sinister little chuckle.

Me: What? What’s so funny?

Thatcher: Well, I just figured it out.

Me:  Figured what out?

Thatcher:  I mean…so… the mother cow has to lug the baby around in her belly…but that’s it.  Its the daddy cow who must be a G.E.N.I.U.S….because he’s the magic one who gets the baby in there in the first place.

And then Finn:  Yup, the daddy cow is the magic genius.

….and then, just like that, they happily ran off to see the goats.  Comfortable with the new found realization that they too will grow up some day to be the geniuses who do all the magic to “get the baby in there” so the mothers can simply lug the babies around.

Efff!  Don’t get me wrong…my husband is a very smart man who amazes me often with the knowledge he can impart on our children.  However, I figured that in regards to freakin’ pregnancy…just maybe, for once, I would be the magic genius.  But, alas, no.  Daddy is both magic and a genius.  And, “getting the baby in there” is an act of genius!  Fanfreakintastic.  My boys are going to be big hits with whatever poor teacher is charged with the task of educating them in a sex ed class years from now.

That’s ok, though.  Both boys have birthdays coming up within the next two months…..and guess who isn’t going to go all Pintrest Genius on their asses the way I normally do?!?!  Kidding…kind of.

And, to all you parents of daughters out there, I promise I will set them straight when the time is right.  Or better yet, I’ll defer to the genius.

 From the album Genius Loves Company…. 0f course

Rubber Duck Dreaming of Future Gin & Tonics With Lime

Rubber Duck is trying to convince Joey to buy a lime tree. Fragrant blossoms that turn into limes that are the tastiest limes for Bombay Gin and Schweppes Tonic. Or skip the tonic, just gin on ice and a nice fact wedge of lime ripened on the tree.

Rubber Duck is trying to convince Joey to buy a lime tree. Fragrant blossoms that turn into limes that are the tastiest limes for Bombay Gin and Schweppes Tonic. Or skip the tonic, just gin on ice and a nice fact wedge of lime ripened on the tree.

After spending the winter in the dusty old shop the lime tree is so happy to be outside in the fresh air and sun. A blast of fertilizer a few weeks ago and it is already cranking out the flowers for this summer’s gin & tonics, and pad thai.

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