Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ten Reasons Why We Love Christmas on the Island

Like David Letterman (who also owns a house here, btw), I, too, have a Top Ten List.

Since I've been busy with holiday preparations, I haven't had time to post regularly.
That doesn't mean I'm not scouting the Best and Brightest of Christmas on the Island for your viewing pleasure. :)

Here goes:
Drum Roll Please!
Top Ten Reasons Why We Love Christmas on the Island

10. Skating on Old Seth's Pond.

9. Driving to the top of Peaked Hill at night, the highest spot on the Vineyard, on an especially cold night to see the stars displayed overhead - it really is like diamonds in the sky. :) No light pollution.

8. Seeing the Christmas Parade in Edgartown, during the Christmas in Edgartown week-end.
Have Hot Cider or Hard Cider, lol, afterward at The Newes Pub, Edgartown. Explore all the open houses and the retail shops open when you've warmed up. Head over to the Harbor View Hotel to see the Teddy Bear Room and watch with glee when they flip the switch to light up the Edgartown Lighthouse holiday lights. OOOO! Ahhhh.

7. Making a Christmas Wreath at Donorama Garden and Landscaping. Think Martha Stewart Meets New England Country. (So cool, but kinda pricey, so we only do it every so often)

6. Seeing the many ways Santa arrives on-island - on the boat, in a fire engine, on a float, in his sleigh. He's a busy guy here. :)

Tim Johnson for MVTimes
Tim Johnson for MVTimes
5. On three separate nights, grabbing a quick bite to eat in a different village town here, and driving down Main Street to see the lights. It's amazing what you can do with Twinkle!

4. Driving over to see niece Julie Megan's Christmas Lights display in her front yard! Honestly! It's really cool! (Winyah Lane - Vineyard Haven) And with music! 

Then going to see her competitor, The Gatchell House, in Oak Bluffs, depositing cans of food for charity in the barrel at the end of the circular drive.

3.Attending Christmas Eve Candlelight Service in the massive old Whaling Church in Edgartown, then hope you see carolers along the way home. They're there; you just have to look for them. Really!

2. Drive down Edgartown's Main Street late at night, in the snow - it's a virtual snowglobe!

1. And the #1 Reason Why We Love Christmas on the Island? Noo, it's not cookies!
It's a time when we gather family and friends near to celebration the most wonderful time of the year!

Happy Christmas from Lucy and Meatball, niece Stephanie's dogs
And from Rescue Pup Neela, too!

Have a Merry and Bright One. :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Finished Object (FO) Friday: For Your Christmas Shopping Pleasure - Shop Local

All done.
My hats and wrist warmers are all done, and ready for sale at the Artisan's Show - Chappy Room, The Newes Pub.

If anyone else is interested, I will be starting up an online store soon for my knitted goods on But in the meantime, these sets are available - in 9 colors - for $38 + shipping. Sold separately, $20 each + shipping.

Colors available:
Goldfinch - antiqued yellow
Mushroom - heathered brown
Winesap - muted red
Rosa Rugosa - muted fuchsia/lipstick pink
Pomegranate - muted rosy pink
Clay - muted salmon/pink
Lichen - mossy green
Cypress - deep forest green
Peacock - deep teal blue

You can email me at: for further information.

I used a wonderful yarn to create these handmade items from a regional source - New England-based yarn company in Portland, Maine: Quince & Co. Quince is a company I would like to work for! Pam Allen, CEO, answers the phone, packs the goods and even helps out a little old knitter like me when she orders a whole box of the wrong weight yarn. This is a small, creative company, regionally located to serve the needs of fiber artists who want a quality product at a fair price with beautiful colors, all within their geographical region. Their patterns are inventive, and their customer service outstanding. Look them up: Quince & Co.

Have a warm and cheery one. :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Locally Grown and Proud of It: Yeehaw!

We have a big announcement to make.
Actually two.

1.  Andy (our son) and Jenna, eloped to Vermont in June! Those crazy kids just couldn't wait to get married and start a life together. :) (mum was the word till we figured out insurance coverage, sheesh!)

2. Andy and Jenna have recently announced they have started another collaboration of sorts, lol - something locally grown... they are expecting! Splash down? July 1st -ish.

3. Neela, the Rescue Pup is going to be a big Sister lol!

No more wash-ashores for us.
There's a new fish on the hook, and we are reeling it in. :)

So, this is actually a good time to also tell you about the original Island Grown Initiative here.
This non-profit "grows community through sustainable agriculture, local food advocacy and education."

We like this: trying to increase the supply and demand of local grown food for community health and the environment (like it says in the literature!). Read more about it here.

What does this mean for us?

It means we can get organic milk in old-school glass bottles from Gray Barn Farm.
It means I buy wool yarn spun from Liz Packer's sheep on Spring Moon Farm.
It means buying freshly-made gluten-free bread from the Scottish Bakehouse, or getting smoothies from Tisberry Yogurt with Mermaid Farm yogurt.

And it sometimes means spending a little bit more for a product that is in many ways healthier for us and our environment.

Each community could take a lesson from this inventive island program. Why not get behind the small, local business owners and support your community?

Why not use local resources to get what you want and know where it's coming from?
Why not teach the kids in your community how to eat right and even try their hands at growing food for themselves and their families?

What's not to like about that?

Being a member of an Island Grown food resource (Andy is fishing commercially), we want more than anything to be part of a growing concern that gives back to the community and to have fun in the process.

So when our little fish arrives, we will be happy to proclaim on many fronts, "Island Grown and Proud of It!"

I'm sure this will be just the first of many mayhem-filled posts from Grammy, so stay tuned!

Kiss your kids, eat good, locally grown food and have a good one. :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry Yarn: WIP Wednesday

     Jennigee's Etsy Shop

That's what I always say.
When the going gets tough, the tough get knitting.

We are heading down the home stretch on several fronts. Mom's last-minute house stuff, the looming holiday season, the knitted items I'm preparing for sale at the artisan's fair in a week, and that, in the middle of this, they just had to go and have a sale on couches at the local home furnishings store. So add to that going through my mom's paperwork, my piled up paperwork, the office closet that never got organized and "where am I gonna put all this stuff, since the couch is going in the corner of the office where the boxes sit unpacked?"

Yesterday, I had to take a break to knit.
I was one hot mess.

I was overloaded, upset and on the brink of pitching in the proverbial towel. I had started a sweater for the Rescue Pup, it’s colder now and she’s short-haired. And I wanted desperately to have a project I could finish right now, very quickly. I guess because I’m not finishing these endless "must-do" projects, and then even more shows up.

So I think, this is garter stitch - the most basic of stitches in knitting, easy peasy - sturdy, big needles thick yarn right? Well you could tell I just wanted to get through it, and man was I frustrated, cause the dog is big! So I looked at what I had knitted. Long length, like a … REGULAR sweater, lol. THAT's no short project.

Then, I found it to be too long. The minute I saw that I said, "Hey stop, look how tight, how wrong the seaming, how too ill-fitting this is." And I had to actually stop. Sit several minutes... to let the anxiety, frustrations, etc. go. This is the first time my “art” was imitating real life. Not good. (but a great post!)

How could this be?
Then again, how could it not be?

Who was I kidding? I was physically sublimating my life into craft. These knitted bits of love I do and make have meaning, beyond clothing. They do not need the frailties of life knitted into them, like a cocoon of despair.

Point is...
1. When in the middle of one hot mess, stop, find something to do that is equally opposite of what is causing your frustration. Yes, even if working. That means - stop take a few moments to meditate, sit quietly, whatever, at work.

2. OBSERVE what happens.
See. I told you. It does create a gap - a pause that refreshes the brain, like say, a page on the internet.

3. Do you need me to tell you this?
And no. lol.
Sometimes we know better, but we don't do better.
Don't make that mistake.

No, the dog sweater is not done. I have to sew it together. But still. Almost!

Yes, the artisan fair items are coming along.

And yes, I did. 
I did shove everything back into the closet so the sleeper sofa could be delivered.
And what a sofa. It was on clearance! It fits! It's comfortable! And best of all, my mom can enjoy a night or two here, when she wants to. All on the main level. :)

Proof is in the pudding:

 My artisan fair items: a quick-knit hat and some cool wrist-warmers I made up. Mostly, the yarn is by Quince & Co. What a beautiful stitch definition, huh?

                          On the needles....

Life is a WIP. Sigh.

Have a calm one. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hello, My Name Is Kevin

No, not THAT Kevin
And with that, a beautiful partnership has begun.
I'm talking about the new, from-the-Mainland UPS driver.

Kevin will deliver packages down our lane come Hell or High Water.

High Water arrived first, and Kevin drove right through it. He actually packed down the growing, rain-induced crevice across the gravel drive, saving us from certain washout.
If that's not extra service with a smile, then I don't know what is.

Meanwhile,  a different package service stopped delivery that same afternoon, because the boats were canceled, due to wind. Fact was, our "track-package" indicated our delivery was already ON ISLAND, lol.

"Off-island Kevin" beats it past the rescue dog barking - will even stick the package inside our door (permission granted), if it's unlocked.

He delivers day and night. One day, he dropped off a package before I had my first cup of coffee in my robe, and left one after 8:30 pm that night.

I do not scare him with my morning "Einstein" hair and pjs, sitting at the table writing.

He introduced himself to both my husband and me on separate occasions. With no prompting. Held out his hand. And he's under age 30. Where did the old-school manners come from?

I see them in their brown uniforms, when I sometimes drop off my commuting husband at the Steamship Terminal for the early boat. Off they troop, lunch bags in hand, looking young, determined, even eager to start their shifts for the day.
Oh we've had regular UPS deliveries on the Mainland, but not with this kind of connection.

And frankly, there have been times here I have been less than impressed.
You might remember my 17 steps-of-terror story.

But now here's a new man in town, and his name is Kevin.

No more  "drop-shipping" our exercise bike off the back of the truck to the driveway below.
No more taking out the gravel driveway to the tune of $400.
And no more "Deliveries of a Thousand Days." Remember that story?

No siree.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these
"sea-born" couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Except of course, a canceled boat schedule. :)

Have a good one.  :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Parlez Vous New Anglais? Or As They Say Here, Rs Ah Fa Losahs

Sometimes, that's what it seems like here.
Moving to a new place requires a lot of you.

But I didn't think language acquisition would be one of them!

Yes, I have been North and I have been South and I have been West, but I find moving East to New England, the Cape and Islands in particular, and trying to understand the "slanguage" - it's a bit like, well, like being a fish out of water.

Rule #1. No ifs ands or buts: try to talk like an Islander.
I am, of course,  a "wash-ashore" - someone not born on the Island, but that doesn't preclude me from learning the language tricks of the trade, so-to-speak.

When I drive Southwest to Aquinnah, Menemsha or Chilmark, I drive "up-island" - indicating longitude markings, rather than realtime directions.
When I travel, I go "off-island."
And when I tell people where I'm from, it's "The Vinyid."

Rule #2. Conversing with people from Boston and understanding them means you have to remember, for the most part, there are no "r"s in Boston speech.
Something you drive is a "cawh."
Where you put said "cawh" is a "pawhking" lot.
And there may be a "pawhty" going on near where you "pawhk," if you are game.
If you are game, said party could be "wicked pissah." (meaning really, reeeeeally good)

Rule #2. Names for foods and drink are tricky.
If you want a sub sandwich, you order a grinder.
And buns are bulkies.
If you want a milkshake, you order a frappe not a milkshake, or you will get just that - milk and flavoring shaken.
If you want chowdah, it's the milk-based variety NEVER the tomato-based concoction.
And, if you are looking for the water fountain, ask for the "bubblah."
If it is late, and you need milk, one of the only places that stays open late is "Cumbies" (Cumberland Farms). And, if you plan on a boat-load of food, you will be putting it in a "carriage" not a cart.

Rule #3. State-related language is also approved here.
If you are so inclined, getting into a fight here in New England is confusing.
You could "whale" on a person, but if arrested and put into a "cruiser" by possibly a "Statie," you might eventually become a "wicked losah."

And honestly, if you go "off-island" to "The Cape" and drive any real distance, it's almost as if you can't drive legitimately if you don't cut off people, use no blinker, drive at speeds that approach the speed of light and have no patience "whatsoevah" for other drivers on the road. For that you earn the name, "Masshole." :)

See what I mean? Am I even in America, lol?

I'm not sure why all these expressions cropped up, but I'm betting, like everything else here, it probably all began, like it does everywhere else, with the weather.

It's cold, you're snowbound, people didn't travel like they do nowadays. So being stuck in one place, with a lack of a lot of outside language influences, you can't continue to say, "hand me the thingy over there by the whatchamacallit." So Voila! a local expression is born.

As for me, being the new kid on the block, I will play it "wicked smaht," listen intently when Yankees speak and remember two things:

When it doubt, lose the "R." And....

Have a wicked pissah day. :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat!

Trick or treat?

There's no better place to celebrate Halloween than in New England, what with its rich history of terror, ghostly apparitions and intrigue. From the Salem Witch Trials to the Boston Strangler and Lizzy Borden, to the likes of Whitey Bulger, what place in America could be scarier?

Here on the Island, Halloween festivities are begun early in the month and carried to a fever-pitch by All Hallow's Eve.

There's an island-wide Scarecrow Contest, the towns have their own parties and parades, and on Halloween night, one major street in Vineyard Haven - Williams Street - is even closed to traffic to celebrate door-to-door trick-or-treating at its best. On this one street, rough ghost and goblin attendee estimates range from 300-800, with costumed witches and mummies arriving from as far away as New York City!

Enjoy some of the festivities through our eyes!
This year the Scarecrow Contest features Storybook Characters:

Have a Scary One. :)

Happy Halloweenie!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Heck Part 3 - The Finale

I am happy to report that all is well once again in the Wheeler household.

Because despite the odds, my hybrid auto is fixed.
And without leaving Wonderland.

All because of a very kind and quick-thinking off-island tow truck guy who dared asked the real question to my hybrid auto woes: "What seems to be going on?"

Listening carefully, he surmised that the problem was most likely a dead battery attached to the gas engine of the car.

So in the end, no towing, no pushing, no pulling, no drifting down the boat ramp without a motor or tow to the dealership was needed.

It took a trip to the local service station, and we simply had the battery released of its misery and replaced.

All hail one very smart tow truck operator!

As for the rest, the house got cleaned, the freelance appt. kept, the food prepared and the 50th birthday party for Uncle John was a rave success.

Just call me Superwoman.

Have a good one. :)

Heck Part 2

This is going to seem reeeeeealy funny to you.

But we just got a call from Roadside Assistance, checking to see if our tow truck had arrived.
It's 3:20 in the morning.

This after spending the entire, and I mean ENTIRE, day trying to get my disabled car off the island to the Mainland Dealership for repair.

It's like you can't get there from here.
No tow trucks will get on the boat - from either side.
For fear of spending up the nation's debt load in payment, I believe.

The process of getting a disabled car off the island is like a series of finely tuned pass-offs, the likes of which you only see in Olympic tag-teaming events.

After coordinating between the call-back Roadside Assistance Center in Toronto, Canada, the AAA tow truck here, the mainland dealership, the Roadside Assistance tow truck on the mainland and juggling my schedule, we establish a car reservation for today.

1. The tow truck tows the ailing car to the Steamship boat dock.
2. There it is manually pushed onto the boat.
3. It rides the boat in silence.
4. It is then pushed off the boat into the mainland parking area, to be picked up by mainland tow truck and towed to the dealership.
5. A very embarrassed and harassed driver must accompany the car at all times.
6. And this only costs an arm and a leg.

And all this is accomplishing during the same time as:

Planning, prepping and executing a 50th birthday party and dinner for 10
Last minute clean-up of the house for company
A freelance assignment interview with the local paper
Overseeing the septic upgrade issues taking place on my Mom's house

Wish me luck, lol.
Stay tuned....

Have a good one. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

There's a Slight Chance I May Be Going to Heck....

Oh yes.
There is indeed a slight chance I may be going to Heck.

For I have done the unthinkable.
I have stopped the ferry boat from unloading in a timely fashion.

Yes, I did.
I do not own a rust bucket, rattle trap, beater or a clunker.
I do not own an "island car."
But, I do own a nice little, politically correct, hybrid all-wheel-drive auto.

And until today, I thought this 3-year-old car - which frankly, in "island car" years is NOTHING - was going to get me through rain, sleet, snow, dark of night and anything else that might stand in its way.

I did not anticipate other-worldly possession or electronic breakdown.
I did not anticipate what to do during said other-worldly, electronic breakdown possession.
And I surely did not anticipate having rude, post-menopausal women fall into conniption fits over the fact that my car would not start up when it was time to exit the boat.
So this must be where the words Fear-of-God come from.

We were in fact, coming ONTO the island, not OFF the island.
What in God's Good Name was there to be in a hurry about?

And if the dress-down in lane 4 wasn't enough, the fact that no one, but NO ONE, knew what to do when a hybrid auto would not start, was. Lol.

I have stumped plenty of people in my time, but never once over a smart-start, electric car.
Ok, well there was that one time when we pulled out of the local McDonald's, with the windows open, and we heard one very stoned individual exclaim to another as we drove by in quiet-start mode, "Dude, did you even hear that car start?"

But I will tell you that in my defense and good character, I in fact, kept my cool.
This being a very important point to remember, next to the fact that I had been escorting three, lovely octegenarian ladies around the local off-island stores for the better part of eight hours.

I was tired, my feet hurt and I was aiming to get home before Dancing With The Stars started.
My aim was off.

Ok. Well, my aim was off when it came to the timeline.
It was not off, however, when I got pushed down the boat ramp and was left to roll to a humiliatingly slow stop in front of the Steamship Authority Building in the Bus Lane.
It was a good thing we were on one of the last boats to set sail that night.

I thought in this land of Good and Plenty that having a nice little, politically correct, hybrid all-wheel- drive auto would be enough.

But apparently, I need also to know how to revive such an animal.
And in front of untold numbers of disgruntled boat customers.

When the AAA tow-truck guy finally arrived, all he could do was shake his head in wonder and laugh a little.
And offer to keep it on the flatbed tow truck overnight.

Because the only way to get the nice little, politically correct, hybrid all-wheel-drive auto to the Toyota dealership on the Mainland, would entail dropping it back off at the SSA parking lot in the morning, pushing the little focker onto the boat, letting it ride in silence, and finally pushing it off the boat on the other side for the dealership to pick up.

Well, they ought to make it easier to be a nice little, politically correct, all-wheel-drive auto owner on the island.

And if what I heard over whispers is true, I am certain they have saved me a place in line for Heck, too.

Check your oil, and have a Good One. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Works-In-Progress: It's Raining, It's Pouring and I'm a Little Teapot....

I adored those nursery rhymes when I was little.
But when they become part of my adult life, however,  not so much lol.

It has been raining and pouring off and on for a week now, and, I for one, am tired of it.
But if living on this island has taught me one thing, it has taught me tolerance and acceptance.

Here, the island community accepts diversity as a matter of fact, like the time of day or when the next ferry arrives or departs.
We are diverse geographically, botanically, in architecture, culture and cultivation.
Diversity is worn as a badge of honor, something to be respected and revered.
It is what has kept the nation young and vigorous and this island creative and productive.

On 64,000 acres of island land, you can have your pick of diverse town centers.
Do you want to be where the action is? Then head to one of the three down-island Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven and Edgartown - each has its own "flavor."

You want day-trip touristy? Go to mostly summer-town Oak Bluffs, and experience the Victorian-era cottages of the CampMeeting grounds. Or browse the many t-shirt and souvenir shops Circuit Avenue has to offer.

You want to step back into the Whaling era? Try Edgartown, with its Greek Revival, shuttered captains' homes, and higher-end boutiques, along with quaint harbor restaurants and sights.

How about the ferry boat's main port-of-call, Vineyard Haven? It's more of the year-round town for the island, and its shops and main street reflect that.

From Farm
If you want isolated English Moor Mood, try up-island. It's the more rural area of the island, where people live off long, dirt roads and old-island fishing families still head out for catch from the tiny village of Menemsha. Aquinnah holds the Wampanoag Indian Tribe and The Cliffs, a starkly beautiful scene of clay cliffs sweeping down to the ocean.

Settlers came from all walks of life and cultures to create a uniquely individualized island community, from missionaries and Wampanoag Indians, to merchants and whalers, to religious evangelists finding summer shelter. 

Nowadays, you can be waited on by Jamaican waiters, Bulgarian checkers at the grocery store, Brazilian landscaping crews, to American college students earning money for college in the t-shirt shops and cafes.

We have our differences,  and that's o-kay.
We accept all races, creeds, colors, gender identities, sizes and shapes.

Which brings me to my second point: I, like the teapot, am now short and stout. :)
And I, like the little teapot, have gotten all "steamed up"  from having been tipped over and poured out one too many times.

So this little teapot is getting a makeover. A do-over, if you will, of my life.

Whatever you call it, it's going to change and be a little different.
Yep, there's a new sheriff in town and things are gonna change. :)

In no order of importance, this is my new "sugar bowl" list:
1. Meditation
2. A.M. yoga stretch
3.Walk/bike/or pool-time
4. Daily food journal
5. Weigh and measure food
6. Freelance writing assignments/blog
7. Afternoon tea break
8. Daily Chore Check List/Master List (for my family and my mom's care)
9. Knitting
10. Reading

This may look a little like my old life, but make no mistake. Even making one small change can alter the whole picture.

Take for example my check list. My current "project" list I'm overseeing is over four pages long.
Honestly, how can one feel a sense of accomplishment with a daily list like that?
As I was pondering this, Andy and Jenna came home from their fish-scouting trip to Fla.
And Jenna, God Love Her!, had a suggestion.
Put a check by the works-in-progress (so you feel like you are getting somewhere) and cross out the finished items.

To celebrate my new-found independence, I purchased a really nice yarn and pattern for a tea cozy.
I think one of the most important things you can do for yourself, and one that I intend on implementing into my new schedule, is take a short break in the afternoon to "regroup."

Here is my work-in-progress, my Brown Betty Teapot Cozy (pattern on Ravelry from Churchmouse and Teas - the Anniversary Tea Cozy). I used a great little English tweed for the yarn with a wood and Bakelite button for the top.

I know, I know, it does look done. But it isn't. I have to fit it to the teapot and sew the sides to match. And it's looking a bit large, so my choices are: buy a new teapot or frog it (tear out the stitches, for non-knitters) and make it smaller.

My bet is on the new teapot lol.

Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today, and  Have a Good One. :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Call of the Wild

William Ternes
As we walked down the back lane to our house, it turned Fall today.

I could tell because the leaves had started to shift colors, just a little here, just a little there.
Brightening red plumes amidst the browning of summer.

Today we meandered.
It was not a time for power walking, or jogging, or running or talking.
It was a time for relaxing, remembering and reflecting.
It was a time for ... walking sticks and good, firm shoes.

Even the dog dawdled, sniffing, head in air, then sniffing, nose to ground, smelling the musty, earthy smells of autumn along the edge of the dusty lane.

Rain was in the air. You could smell it.

The warm summer breeze was long gone.  A cool, soon-to-crystalize autumn breath replaced it, barely ruffling our hair as we went along.

Overhead, we heard the cry of the first Canadian Geese heading south.
We looked up and to each other, smiling a little at the familiar call and what it meant.
We were making the transition into autumn.

Sometimes we look forward to the end of the summer season. It's hot, it's muggy, there are people, cars and congestion. It's hard to concentrate when it goes from 0 to 60 in the fast lane of resort life. And when it's over, we breathe a sigh of relief. We remember why we moved here.

For simpler times, slower ways.
Soup for supper, newspaper and knitting after.

Today it's just us.
So we walk. It's a way of slowing down without too much fuss.
A way to change gears, catch a breath, reboot, if you will.

Even in Paradise you have to reboot.

Have a good one. :)