Many thanks to Edgartown Books and the Edgartown Public Library for a hugely successful launch of A VINEYARD CHRISTMAS this weekend! NEXT STOP: Barnes & Noble, Sat., Oct. 13, 2:00p.m. Hope to see lots of friendly faces there! http://www.jeanstone.com
A lovely review on A VINEYARD CHRISTMAS from MV Times… I especially like the line where she writes: “Not surprisingly, Stone herself lives on the island, and we can feel her love for it throughout.” Enough said!!!!!
Thanks to my friend and fellow writer Marty, I have begun to wonder about things. And now I have something to say when I am blog-topic-less. So…here goes.
Did you ever wonder why a dog who barks incessantly suddenly stops?
It happened to me the other night. For almost an hour, Rover kept woof-woofing. It sounded as if he were somewhere down the street…the sounds weren’t close enough to be next door, but loud enough to be annoying. A German Shepard, perhaps. Or maybe an alto poodle. Left home alone. And unhappy.
Woof, woof. Arf, arf.
Don’t get me wrong. I love dogs. Really, I do. Anyone who’d ever seen me with Snuggles (my cocker spaniel—see photo) knows that’s the truth. But on a warm evening, with the windows open, the woof, woof, arf, arf was, as my friend Bev would say, “working my last nerve.” (I love that saying.)
So I closed the windows. The arfs were muted, but still there. I tried to read. I washed the dishes. I flicked on the TV news, turned it up loud. The woofs evolved into a deep howl.
Then, suddenly, they stopped.
I waited. Nothing. Nadda. Yay.
Then I started to, as Marty would say, wonder why.
My thoughts could have gone to dark places, but, as I said, I love dogs. I decided to deduce that his (or her) owner must have returned home. The sweet dog was happy again, wagging his tail, trotting into his house, crunching Milk Bones and enjoying a few laps of cool water that would no doubt soothe his throat that must have been burning from all those vocals.
I returned to luxuriate in the quiet and stopped wondering why. Until the morning when I had to do errands.
I opened the door to the outside, juggling my keys, my purse, and a trash bag (I was en route to the dump). I stepped out onto the small deck and into the early sunshine. All was lovely until I took my next breath. My throat closed up. My eyes suddenly watered. I tried to mouth-breathe, the way a doctor friend had once taught me.
Unfortunately, nothing helped. I quickly raced to my car, threw the trash bag in the back, jumped into the driver’s seat, and slammed the door. But even inside my hermetically-sealed VW Jetta, the smell was unmistakeable: skunk.
And that’s when I knew. The dog must have stopped barking because he’d had a visit from one of the neighborhood black-and-white critters. He must have forgotten that this is their island, not his. And I suppose, like me, even skunks appreciate silence.
The end. No more wondering needed.
P.S. I have not heard a peep, so I assume that the dog has returned to the mainland with his owners. Unfortunately, the aroma of his visitor still lingers. Not as strong, but still there.
I have no idea if there is a moral to this story. Maybe Marty can come up with one.
It wasn’t actually dinner. It was the annual St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church picnic (aka Potluck); it would be held at the venue facility in Sailing Camp Park in Oak Bluffs, and would follow a traditional service. Set atop a bluff, the tastefully rustic building offers a spectacular view of Lagoon Pond, the new drawbridge, and Vineyard Haven Harbor in the distance. The day was bright and sunny; while we were there, a couple of ferries came and went, their gleaming white upper decks dotted with passengers, a statement that summer is almost here.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I did not have a clue what to bring. I lost my ability/desire/call it whatever to cook sometime in the late 1980s. And for a Potluck? Argh. I usually resort to brownies. Or sugar cookies, if I can add M & M’s and stash some in the freezer.
But for such a beautiful day, I decided to push the nutritional envelope.
I found my answer on the Internet: Slice of Tomato; Slice of fresh Mozzarella; Sprig of fresh basil. Drizzle olive oil over all. Even I could do that.
But while I was assembling (can’t call it cooking) my “dish,” it occurred to me that these events are really like life: when you join any group, you never know what you’re going to get, but chances are, it won’t all be potato salad.
Starting a new job? Your co-workers will definitely be Potluck. Some sweet ones, some tangy, some who might not seem terrific but turn out amazing.
What about School? When I was a kid, every September was a Potluck: The only time I knew what would be at the table was in high school homeroom when the class was alphabetized. I could be fairly sure that Ray Barafauldi would sit in front of me and Molly Briggs would be behind me. (Back then my name began with a “B,” which you’ve probably figured.) My prediction was usually right unless there was a new kid in town or someone had moved away.
As I sliced the mozzarella, I realized that every time we step out in public we step into a Potluck. At the Post Office, the Library, the Supermarket . . . some people smile, some chat a bit; some hold up the line, others seem content to stay in their own little worlds.
But it all works, doesn’t it? The folks at the office, the kids in school, the people meandering around town: If we all were the same, things would be pretty boring. Especially if everyone was a novelist like me whose head lives in make-believe much of the time.
At the picnic yesterday, someone brought salad, someone brought meatballs, someone brought quiche; several brought desserts. I didn’t see any potato salad, but people seemed to enjoy my Tomato/Mozzarella/Basil/Olive Oil concoction. We all helped ourselves to the seemingly incongruous selections—some sweet, some tangy, most, amazing—and proceeded to revel in the cacophony of life.
But wait! I forgot the best part! At two minutes before the service was to start, the woman in charge of the altar things realized she’d forgotten the communion wine. For one horrified moment there seemed to be no answer. Then Father Chip’s gaze shifted to the assortment of desserts that awaited the after-service celebration. “We have red grapes!” he announced. “Fill up the Chalice!” Perfect. I guess there truly is everything one needs at the Potluck table.
I never cared much for Shakespeare’s works. All the “Lo,” “Behold,” and “Alas” words find me rolling my eyes. Back in high school, I always felt I was reading another language—the kind where you walk into class and the teacher only speaks those words, and the text is only written that way, and you don’t have a clue what’s going on.
In honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing, Virginia (our favorite film lady) will show two films of his plays each day Monday through Thursday; live performances Friday and Saturday. The tribute began yesterday with a film screening of Falstaff, the Verdi Opera featuring a top jokester favorite of the Bard.
If there’s anything I know less about than Shakespeare, it’s Opera.
When I was a kid we watched the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights. My dad had a wonderful sense of humor. In between the circus acts and comic shticks, Sullivan often featured an opera singer. My dad then employed exaggerated lip sync and dubious sounds that rose up from his toes in order to imitate the vocalist who was usually a soprano. My sister and I doubled over in laughter.
I tried to put that image out of my mind yesterday as I went to view Falstaff. I really enjoyed it! For starters, the new community room is wonderful, the 12-foot screen something to behold (Behold!) and the production that was filmed at the Met was terrific. I really enjoyed it. Thank you, once again, to the Edgartown Library for challenging and expanding my mind.
Tonight I will go watch Othello. I think I read that one in college. As I recall, it wasn’t exactly beach reading, but I suppose some of Shakespeare’s fans might find VINEYARD MAGIC much ado about nothing. Alas! I do tend to be a product of my generation. Though I secretly wish my dad had been with me yesterday. He would have done a great Mistress Quickly.
Enter the Edgartown Public Library.
The building on North Water Street officially closes next Saturday—coincidentally, the day before the final episode of DA airs—as it begins its move to a magnificent, new facility. In preparation for the last hurrah of both DA and the equally beloved library, a screening of the show’s finale was in order, to be followed by High Tea.
Given the tight quarters in the basement of the old place, seating would be limited. The sign outside declared that the event was “Sold Out,” though the price of admission was merely enthusiasm and early registration. About 20 folks scored a “ticket.”
A decked-out gentleman greeted us at the door and presented himself as “Foster, the Butler.”
Women comprised most of the audience. There were a few hats, and I noticed that at least one lady was wearing elbow-length gloves. The room was abuzz with conjectures: would Mary run off with Tom, the former chauffeur? Would Robert drop dead? Would Marigold ever seem happy to be there?
The lights dimmed; the fish tank was unplugged, eliminating both a fluorescent glow and the drone of its filter; our hostess appeared. Good grief, it was Mrs. Patmore! Or was it? Dark hair, not blonde, peeked from beneath her cap. Her apron was cleaner and crisper than Mrs. P.’s. And when she spoke a few words of welcome, she sounded suspiciously like Virginia Munro, who is known to have choreographed more than a few terrific events in the basement.
No matter. We chose to believe that, indeed, it was Mrs. P., not Virginia. Whoever she was, she pushed a button and . . . ahhh . . . the music began, the long shot of the grounds of the estate and the hind end of the yellow lab guided us toward . . . well, I’m not going to say anymore. No spoilers here. Suffice it to say, if you are a fan, be sure to watch next week.
As for our group, two hours later we watched in stunned silence as the credits rolled. DA was over. A distinct sound of rustling tissues filling the room; sniffs were sniffed; low murmurs were murmured, if that is a word.
The lights came up again. Foster called for our attention. Then he announced: “Ladies and Gentlemen, tea is now being served in . . .” wait for it . . . “the Library.”
Of course it was. Tiny sandwiches, tea cakes, pudding tarts. And yummy tea, poured into a colorful array of delicate porcelain teacups that had once belonged to Virginia’s . . . er, Mrs. Patmore’s mother, and had been rescued from a carton in a basement for this most fitting occasion.
The best part is, as with M.A.S.H, Cheers, and, of course, Seinfeld, I will always remember where I was for the Downton Abbey finale.
Sadly, no one knows a car has a dead battery until one is going out. Needing to be somewhere. Having stuff to do.
I had a list. Errands. Not fun, but necessary.
So when I turned on the ignition and heard that dreadful . . . nothing . . . I groaned. It was as dead as a clichéd doornail.
AAA no longer services the island. (That’s another story.) But they reimburse you, once someone defibrillates the thing.
A nice man showed up quickly. (Hooray!) He got it going. Then he told me I should drive it for a while without shutting it off.
I’d like to pause to mention this happened here a few years ago when I stupidly failed to turn the car lights off after dark. (I was still getting used to the utter blackness of the nights and was concerned, well, okay, terrified, of skunks.)
When AAA arrived (that was before the “other story”) and solved the problem, I was told to drive my car for an hour. Problem: I’d been heading for the boat. “Not with this car you’re not,” the AAA guy said. Huh? It’s only 15 minutes to the ferry, but once on board, I’d have to shut my car off. The folks behind me might say mean things when we reached Woods Hole and my car couldn’t disembark. (Not sure if AAA serviced the Island Home.) Anyway, I drove in circles around the island for an hour and took a later boat.
Fast forward to this weekend. “But I have errands to do,” I whined after the nice man echoed his predecessor. Then he added, “Well, luckily you’re on the Vineyard. Just leave it running.”
Leave it running? My car doesn’t lock when it’s left running. (Thanks for the safety factor, VW.) Still . . . I had things to do.
First, the post office. I dashed in quickly, one eye peeled on the parking lot where telltale smoke puffed merrily from the exhaust pipe into the frigid air. I made it back before car thieves could arrive.
Next stop, the pharmacy. Unfortunately, the things I needed weren’t by the window. My heart pounded just a bit, but when I returned, my car awaited, nice and toasty, as I’d left the heater running, too.
Last stop: the seafood market. The owner stood inside, peering out. “Let me know if anyone steals my car,” I said. He chuckled, shook his head.
I paid for my clam chowder. On the way out, another woman entered. She, too, was alone. As I got back to my car, I realized she had parked beside me. And she’d left her motor running. With no one else inside.
Moral of the story: This is Martha’s Vineyard, Jean.
Warning: Wherever you are, I don’t recommend trying this at home.