Only 177 Days to the BlackBurn Challenge

January 18 and how many New Year’s Resolutions have you blown off already? Did you last two weeks on your diet? Have you already bought a pack of Winstons? Now is the time baby, crunch time, when the muffin top takes a beating and you resolve to stick to your resolutions in 2012. Why? So that 177 days from now you can get in a boat and paddle your not so fat butt all the way around Cape Ann.

Click here for a BlackBurn Challenge Timer.  July 14 is just 177 days away. 25 weeks. Plenty of time. Or I can send Homie over to help you focus.

?? Do You Know?? (Mystery Bird)

I saw these birds by Goose Cove the other day and knew they were something I had never seen before.  I’ve done exhaustive research trying to identify them, but haven’t been able to.  They are very small, like Bufflehead size, are dabblers but also dive, and move very quickly, their beaks resemble mergansers.  Does anyone know what they are?

E.J. Lefavour

Antennae for Design

January, February, March, and for we who dwell in New England, oftentimes well into April, are ideal months for interior home improvements. During these more homebound months I am actively seeking home and garden design inspiration. And, too, with projects that were shelved during the summer months because of seasonal work and summer guests, winter is a great time of year to focus on home improvements. I was inspired to write this weekly series after a recent visit to our home from Joey, Jill, and their two darling daughters. The family stopped by for hot chocolate and story time. Joey was non-stop with investigative questions and curiosity, reminding me of the impetus for writing my book, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!, which was originally conceived as a guide for young couples and new home owners (and someday, hopefully, for my children when they will one day have gardens of their own). My book grew to be more than that, but I am again thinking of the couples with young children that have recently moved to our East Gloucester neighborhood.

Plaster Ceiling Medallion

To think of it, we are following in an old Gloucester and northern seacoast tradition by tending to the interior of our homes during these winter months, in that of “house-pride.” The town’s carpenters, many of whom were master shipbuilders and shipwrights, would have had more free time during the winter months. Fine carpentry details are evident throughout our house, which was built in 1851. And, like many of Gloucester’s older houses, our home is graced with details created by the skilled plasterers that emigrated from Italy and settled on Cape Ann. Although a modest house, certainly by today’s “starter castle” standards, I wouldn’t trade our lovely 19th century home, with its quirky and elegant details (along with its all its foibles) for all the world’s McMansions.

Hand Carved Newel Post

I propose Antennae for Design will encompass home and garden design inspiration, home improvement tips, feature interviews with local business owners who specialize in art and design, and after visiting local, well-tended homes and gardens, sharing information found there.  Let me know through the comment section or by emailing at of your thoughts and any topic that you may find particularly relevant or of interest.

Wednesday’s Music Schedule Changes & a question for musicians


You’ll want to know these changes from the regular Wednesday schedule.  Plus, Peter has a question — especially for musicians.  Check out the video and comment below or answer on Facebook.

One of our favorite local artists Elle Gallo will be at Chianti’s in Beverly tonight with Mark Earley.

Get a preview of Elle from this video shot at a 2009 benefit we produced at TT’s in Cambridge.

Big Band Saturday Night Swing Dance @ The Annie

There was such an overwhelming positive response to the Big Band benefit we did last November, and an overwhelming number of people who asked that we do it again (either because they had such a blast at the last one, or because they missed it!), so here it is!

Come at 7pm to bid on some FABULOUS items generously donated by local artists and businesses (items are still coming in, so if you have something to donate, it’s not too late!).

We are also offering swing dance lessons, courtesy of Reuben Pharms and Sylvia Lessa, starting at 7:00. Live music will start at 8pm with the Good Ole Salty Swing Band with myself on vocals, joined again by our very special guest Aja Heussi!

This is going to be a magical night, not to be missed. We had a great season, but with the high cost of rent and utilities, on top of the cost of producing shows, ticket sales were barely enough to sustain us. We really do need your continued support. Our volunteer staff has made this entire season possible, and we are building toward a sustainable career for these amazing young people who are devoted to the vision and promise of this “little cultural center that could.”

If you loved what The Annie offered up in 2011 in the way of shows (Greasy Pole: The Musical, The 1st Annual TRAGABIGZANDA Political Theatre Festival, The Young Playwrights Series’ Song of the Sea, and The LobstahCrackah Ballet), our weekly Cape Ann After Dark events, our classes and workshops, and our support of local artists through The Art Parlour, and ‘The Conservatory,’ please help us keep going strong by investing is us as a community, as a business, as individuals. We need you.

In Service,
Henry Allen

PS: If you are unable to attend, but would like to make donation to support our work, you can can safely do so online by going HERE:

Checks (made out to Fractured Atlas, our sponsoring organization) can be mailed to
The Cape Ann
1 Washington Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

Thank you, friends!


Click here for more info >!/events/299435510107967/

The Old Freeman House

Old Freeman House, Gloucester, 1928 Alice M. Curtis/©Fredrik D. Bodin
The Davis-Freeman house, built in 1709 on 17 acres, is a first period colonial house located at 302 Essex Avenue (Route 133). It’s named after owner Charles Freeman, a descendant of eighteenth century Gloucester slaves. For many years the house served as a tavern on one of the two roads into Gloucester before 1950. From the late 1930’s to the early 1950’s, the Freeman house was the Stage Coach Inn, a restaurant serving lunch, tea, and dinner: “In this old tavern – one of the earliest – you’ll enjoy our hospitality and delicious food in an atmosphere of the old stage coach days.” The photograph below shows owner Harriet Johnson in the doorway of the house. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Freeman house is owned by Wellspring House, a Cape Ann organization assisting families and individuals to become financially self-sufficient.
Harriet Johnson, 1928 Alice M. Curtis/©Fredrik D. Bodin

Printed from the original 5×7 inch film negatives in my darkroom. Image #A8557-063 (house), and A8557-061 (Harriet)
Fredrik D. Bodin
Bodin Historic Photo
82 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

Bumblebee – Pet of the Week

Bumblebee – Pet of the Week


I am at the Cape Ann Animal Aid (CAAA), located at 260 Main Street in Gloucester, waiting to be adopted by a loving family.  My name is Bumblebee, but I don’t sting people; I love to snuggle them instead.

I am a two-year-old girl cat with a pretty black-and-white coat.  I am here at the shelter with my sister, Baby. Check our website at where there is a photo of Baby with me!

We would love to be adopted together, but understand if that isn’t possible.   We are both excited about being part of a family.   We love the staff and volunteers here at the shelter and hope our new family loves us much as they do.   I have to run, one of the nice volunteers wants to brush me and I never hesitate for an opportunity to be beautified!