Fringetree on Rocky Neck ~ American Native Beauty in Our Midst

Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus  Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014jpgFringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)

Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus), the American native small tree, is so rarely planted today. Trees and plants trend at nurseries and, unfortunately, Fringetree has become one of those beauties that we need reminding of its great merits. The above specimen can be seen today in full glorious bloom on Rocky Neck, across the street from Judith and Gordon Goetmann’s Gallery. The botanical name translates lossely as snow flower, aptly describing the fluffy panicles covering the Fringetree when in bloom.

Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus Rocky Neck Gloucester MA -2 ©Kim Smith 2014

The sweetly scented airy blossoms are attractive to bees and butterflies and the ripened fruits are a wonderful food source for songbirds and small mammals. In autumn, the foliage turns a brilliant clear golden yellow. Fringetree grows from Canada to the Gulf Coast, and famously tolerates air pollution, making it ideal for urban landscapes. Grow Fringetree in sun to part sun, in moist fertile soil. At maturity, the tree tops out at twelve to twenty feet high and equally as wide.

The one negative is that Fringetree is slow to leaf out in spring, with a tendency to look dry and woody. Don’t plant it with your spring ephemerals and you won’t notice!

Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus  Gloucester MA -2 ©Kim Smith 2014Fringetrees are dioecious, which means they have separate male and female plants, similar to hollies. Some flowers are “perfect,” meaning they have male and female parts. The male’s flowers are showier than the females, and the female and perfect flowers give way to blackish-blue fruit in late summer. Chionanthus virginicus is a member of the Oleaceae, or Olive Family, and the fruits of Fringetree are similar looking to that of Olea eruopea, the olive tree cultivated throughout the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia for its edible fruit.

I ran into Anne Malvaux while photographing the Rocky Neck Fringetree and she reports that she doesn’t recall seeing any fruit, which means it is most likely a male of the species, or that the fruit is so delicious it is quickly devoured by wildlife (often the case with native trees and shrubs). Or if it is a female and doesn’t bear fruit, it may because there is no males growing nearby. We’ll have a another look in late summer.Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus Rocky Neck Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014

Fantastic Roy Orbison Photo Taken by Kathy Chapman

RoyOrbisonbyChapman-1Originally this post was titled “C2 for Toby Pett” however when I ran into Kathy Chapman at Cape Ann TV today and told her about the post for Toby, she mentioned that she had taken a photo of Roy Orbison three days before he passed away. She shot the photo at the Channel nightclub in Boston and it ran on the cover of the arts section of the Boston Phoenix. Kathy writes, “He died of a heart attack three days later at the age of 52.” Thank you so much Kathy for sharing!

Toby shares a Gloucester story about one of his favorite Roy Orbison songs, “It’s Over,” in yesterday’s post about the recently released documentary about the making of Orbison’s album “Mystery Girl.” See post here. Toby’s comment:

“I realize that many do not keep our early to bed, early to rise schedule…was hoping to hear from someone re: C2…well, here is the answer: where David Cox’ wonderful little shop is, there was Nick’s Pool Room…it was a wonderful place to spend time and make friendships…Mike Patil, one of the founders of Timberline, spent time there…Phil Mazzeo, who just closed his hair salon on Center Street, was one of the best shooters…I could go on and on…it was a place where you learned to mature and to respect others…It was run by the Danikas family, Artie, now in his 80’s, walks Essex Ave and Good Harbor Beach every day…and his son Capt. Nick is co-owner of the Hurricane II, the whale watch boat…anyway, I have gotten off track here, C2 was the number on the Juke Box for “It’s Over”, that great tune by Roy…and when you were about to finish off your opponent in a game one would often say “C2″…to this day when I am watching sports and one team has clearly claimed the upper hand I often say “C2″, although I don’t think many around me understand…”

Video:2014 Schooner Challenge, Aboard the Thomas E Lannon

Despite a snagged anchor and a misplaced cannon fuse,the Schooner Thomas E Lannon was first across the finish line in last night’s Schooner Challenge in Gloucester harbor, beating out Ardelle and Fame. See the drama here! As for the song writing and marlinspike seamanship competitions, you be the judge.


Video by Marty Luster

Music by Matt Sowell

Homie Butt

Robin Griggs Wood has photographed a lot of Seagulls and shows them on her Google Plus account. Here is one where she helps start the non-meme #seagullbuttsaturday.buttseagull

She then worked that photo into a magazine cover. That seagull’s name is Clotilde but I think Homie can model just as well as Clotilde can.

Live Music and Lebanese Dinner Night at Sailor Stan’s

sailor stans_lebanese

We know you love Sailor Stan’s for breakfast, but this Thursday night, June 19 at 7:00pm, Sailor Stan’s Restaurant will be hosting a Lebanese Dinner with music by Allan and Dylan Estes.  $30/person (includes tax and gratuity).  Very Limited Seating.  Call 978-281-4470 to make a reservation, or stop by Sailor Stan’s to purchase your ticket in advance to guarantee your spot.

Dinner will include:

“Laura’s Garlic Sauce” with Syrian Bread

Taboule Salad

Chicken Shawarma

Roasted Potatoes

Lubee (Lebanese Green Beans)

Stuffed Grape Leaves


Coffee, tea or cold beverage


This Guy!!


Meet my hero!  I love this guy!  If you need some work done on your house you’d be crazy to not call Matt Gardner.  Last year I saw a small platform deck on the sweetest little house in Nantucket and I took one distant photo from the end of the home owners’ long driveway.

With that photo and lots of babbling about what I love….and I what I really don’t like, Matt Gardner saw my vision (even when I wasn’t completely sure I could see it) and created what I consider a true work of art!  I am so smitten with our new deck I can’t even stand it!  Not only is he completely skilled, but he was patient, honest and reliable…which made working with him really wonderful.


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Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing


SistaFelicia-ButtermilkBlueCheese-0Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing


¾ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoon tarragon vinegar

⅓ cup buttermilk

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

¾ cup crumbled blue cheese


1 combine first 6 ingredients in bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade
2 process 30-40 seconds or until creamy dressing forms


There are many ways to make blue cheese dressing; basic ingredients always include mayonnaise, blue cheese, and one acidic ingredient like vinegar, lemon juice, or Worcestershire sauce, that is  blended together with, a cream product like; heavy cream, sour cream, crème fraiche, or buttermilk.  After countless times of making and serving this dressing,  I prefer to use sour cream or crème fraiche  when I need a thick textured dressing and, prefer to use  buttermilk when needing a lighter and looser textured dressing.  It’s all personal preference, and or what’s on hand in your refrigerator!

Continue reading “Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing”

Community Photos 6/17/14

Joey-  thought you may like this picture.  It was taken at 5:30 AM on Fathers Day, Downtown home on Washington St.   Isn’t nature grand.  I whish it was clearer but they were on the move.                 Thanks,   Brent Moir


Last Friday the morning fog was quietly creeping…



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From Julie LaFontaine-

Fueling up at a bar with fans from San Diego.  Watching Germany beat Portugal which is good for us . Liz Neumeier


Community Stuff 6/17/14

International Dory Races Saturday

Over 60 years of dory racing every June in Gloucester, MA will resume this Saturday, June 21st in Gloucester’s Inner Harbor (best viewed from the Jodrey State Fish Pier) where the best teams from the US will face off against the best teams from Canada in a battle of endurance, skill, and seaworthiness.  The races will begin at 10AM with teams from 5 categories:  Junior Men, Mixed Doubles, Women, Masters (men over 50) & Senior Men.  Will the US teams redeem themselves from last August’s Canadian sweep?  Find out this Saturday!!

Any members who would like to volunteer some time this week to help us host the committee events Thursday night or Saturday, please reply.

Erik Dombrowski

A FINE LINE: Drawings and Other Interpretations

A juried exhibition of New England Artists

selected by Al Miner of the MFA, Boston

July 3-August 3

The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck

6 Wonson Street, Gloucester, MA 01930

Gallery hours, Thurs-Sun, 12:00-6:00 PM

Opening Reception: Saturday, July 12, 4:00-6:00 PM

The Rocky Neck Art Colony (RNAC) invited New England artists to submit art that expresses concepts, thoughts, attitudes, emotions, or fantasies and give visual form to line for A FINE LINE: Drawings and Other Interpretations, a juried exhibition on view from July 3 to August 3 at the Cultural Center Gallery, 6 Wonson St., Gloucester.  The juror, Al Miner, assistant curator of contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston selected 18 artists including eight members of the Rocky Neck Art Colony—Matt Cegelis, Elynn Kroger, Sinikka Nogelo, Regina Piantedosi, Rosella Sagall, Ruth Schneider, Martha Swanson, and Heidi Zander. Also included are guest artists Gabrielle Barzaghi, Susan Blatt, C.J. Lori, Chloe Feldman Ernison, Margaret Furlong, Alexandra Hart, Peter Hart, Kate Higley, Paul Hitchen, and Margaret Rack. As expected, Cape Ann is well represented and joins artists from Boston to New Hampshire with a total of 30 works of art exploring a fine line.

According to juror Miner, “Entrants presented a wide range of mediums, subjects, and aesthetic approaches; the works on view mirror this variety, but were selected for their overall artistic strength rather than to represent the full range of work being made.” 

He continues, “Of the mediums represented on these walls, digital techniques are used to interesting and dramatic effect, but digital art is far from predominant here.  The same can be said for sculpture.  In fact, even paint, used here with skill, proved less popular than pen, pencil and pastel. The simultaneous simplicity and versatility of line is beautifully explored with those mediums. “

RNAC invites the public to the opening reception on Saturday, July 12, 4:00-6:00 PM at the Cultural Center Gallery. Refreshments will be served. Gallery hours are 12:00-6:00 PM, Thursday(s)-Sunday or by appointment.

Al Miner is assistant curator of contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where he organized “Ori Gersht: History Repeating” in 2012.  Prior to his work in Boston, Miner was a curatorial assistant at the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Smithsonian Institution’s museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Washington, DC where he curated projects with Dan Graham and Yoko Ono. He was recognized by the Association of Art Museum Curators with the 2013 travel fellowship and participated in the Artis curatorial research trip to Israel. His recent exhibition at the MFA: “Dawit L. Petros: Sense of Place”, was the first solo museum presentation exploring the work of the Eritrean artist.


Hot Spots by Susan Blatt
Origins, pen and ink drawing by Peter Hart
Spinning World, drypoint print by Kate Higley
Run Off  acrylic & graphite on board by Elynn Kroger
Pigeon Cove by Heidi Zander


St Peter’s Fiesta Caps and Shirts From the Nicastros

Andrew and Marc Nicastro were at Strawberry Fest at Mile Marker One this weekend selling these killer Fiesta Caps and T Shirts printed and embroidered by Julie Lopes at (Julie was also at Strawberry Fest with her husband giving out awesome aluminum water bottles with the shirts illustrated logos on them)

Anybody who’s anybody is gonna want one of their killer lids for Fiesta, check out their online store here-

Andrew writes-

Hi Joey,

Glad you liked the shirts/hats. The other day was the first time we brought them out so hearing some good comments was great for has.

We have an online store at and any press you’d be willing to give would be much appreciated.

Also, in about a week, I’ll have a fiesta mobile app done and if you’d be willing to talk that up as well, it would be huge for downloads!


Here are a bunch of images of the Fiesta Apparel we are selling this year. Thank you for posting this for us. Since this is our first year, we have no idea what to expect, sales wise. We really appreciate it.

If people don’t want to use the online store, they can call us directly at 978-810-0553 or email us at

Andrew Nicastro