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. :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Final Week and It's ALLL Good!

The Immelts have hit the Derby board bigtime!
Columbus Day has been good to us lol!

My niece Julie is the Weekly Leader and and the Weekly Female Leader for Boat Bluefish catagory in the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby. This the final week, so it could be a LOCK!!!!
We are all very excited.:)

The proof is in the pudding.  Friends (Cara, Sue and Steve!) and Family (Julie and Stephanie!) fishing and the Weigh In:

Have a good one. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

CAmP RuNnAmucK-ness

Hubby just said, "I hope the house is in one piece when I get back," as he left for his consulting trip.

Me, too.

We are... ok let's face it, I am, for the time being...  dog-sitting Rescue Pup Neela for Andy and Jenna, while they take a quick trip South to scout out Fla. fishing.

Now you would think dog-sitting on the Vineyard is not so very different than the mainland.
Au Contraire, mon ami.
But see for yourself.

Dog-sitting Vineyard-style goes like this:

1. Wake up at the crack of Dog, go outside in your pjs (just cause you can!), stumble along the driveway gully with dog in tow for "morning" constitution.

2. Hurry back inside, because it is nippy out in the morning - and btw, does anything before 6 am constitute morning? Or is that still late night? - bat the warring cats away from the eager pup entering the house.

3. Feed everyone. Fix a cup of coffee. Ah.

4.Hear the string of bells hung at the door (for just this purpose) - Rescue Pup now needs to go "out" again after her morning meal for an additional "morning" constitution.

5. Trapse out again, step in mud, divert possible disaster by heading opposite direction of the wild turkey group that roams the Vineyard Haven - Edgartown Corridor (have we met? yes, we have. At the bank drive thru. See the post here), and finds our back yard interesting.

6.Yada, Yada, Yada, the day goes on, the dog settles in for her morning nap.

7. I am ready for a late morning walk. The dog wakes up, we head out.

8. This is a little sketchy as Rescue Pup has not walked with "Grammy" in a good long while. But we do well. The hitler collar, as I like to call it, or the pinch collar as it's properly known, is good, but largely not needed. Neela is an intuitive dog, sensing my "frailties" lol, and walks accordingly.

We hear some morning dog barking, a big black lab woofs its way to the end of its property, but I command, "stay back, stay" in a rather firm but quickly bordering on hysterical tone, and miracle upon miracle, the black lab obeys. Hm. I am Dog Whisperer.

9. We make it back in one piece, where I prepare an early lunch, and read emails. Neela settles into her "chair."

10. We are now ready for our afternoon ride. We head out.

I digress for the moment, to explain that the first command a pup learns here is "Get in the truck."
And they do! You can't have a truck on the Vineyard without the requisite Dog Sticking Head Out Window.
It just doesn't happen. And even better, if the dog is a black lab (for the iconic Black Dog of Martha's Vineyard - the Tavern, Cafe, two working schooners, etc.) (And let's not forget the t-shirt a Head Of State once purchased for an "intern" with the Black Dog emblazoned on it.).

 I now say, "get in the truck," not because I have one, or that we are using one, but because I, for one am not tempting fate. We enjoy a nice time of driving with the dog's head out window, me stopping for errands, dog patiently waiting in car - she has this down pat :) - without complaints, and a quick stop to SBS (the local feed store) for a doggie treat! Good Dog.

11. Back to the hacienda, where 3 perturbed cats wait.

12. The day rolls on. At one point there is a very rousing game of treasure hunt, where, to keep occupied, Neela's parents have hidden treats and treasures for her to find. This is my cue to take a break.

13. Just before dinner, we inspect, in no particular order, the driveway gully again, the edge of the wildlife preserve, where I frantically steer pup away from a huge patch of poison ivy ( the island's "state" flower, if you ask me), and spend a few valuable moments wiping the dog's coat with a baby wipe where she decided to perfume herself with a patch? of questionable origin by rolling in it.

14. Dinner is quiet, but my "sous chef" is willing to taste test any ingredient I deem necessary, or that drops on the floor, whichever comes first.

15. By 11 pm we retire, each to our own beds, Neela to the guest bedroom, thank goodness. Neela is a bed-hogger.

And that's just Day 1.

Have a good one. :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Teach a man to fish....

REMINDER: The Derby Committee strongly discourages parents from taking children out of school to go fishing or Juniors fishing during school hours. It is unsportmanlike to do so when other juniors are in school. We expect parents to support this commitment to education and good sportsmanship.

- notice from the current Derby website

You know, some parents will take their kids out of school to travel the world.
But here, they take them out to fish.

Have a good one. :) 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thanks, Steve

If I may share one thing today, it is this.
A very powerful message, from a very creative man.

Take care and have a good one. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WIP Wednesday: The One Where She May Have Taken On One Too Many

Oh Lord, what have I gotten myself into.

You would think after selling two houses, buying another, moving out of two houses into another, promptly not unpacking, and eventually helping transition Mom to Assisted Living and then prepping her house for sale would be enough for the year.

But no.
I have to decide if I am Super Woman.

And If I can stupidly go where no man would ever dare go: the local knitting group.

I can see you shaking your head.
What has this got to do with island living?

And I tell you this.

A knitting group in the East on an island is like a microcosm of Yankee Living.
Hell, any group in the East on an island is, lol.
Think your local legends, plus intensity.
And I am a wash-ashore (one who is not from the island but moves here).

But I digress.
My first foray into local fare started when I received an email via Ravelry from a lovely Englishwoman planning to visit the island to spend time with relatives. She wanted to attend a knitting group, and wondered if I knew of one.

Oh the pressure.
Was I ready to commit to island living among a local group?

I guess.

So I did.
Amid rainstorm and dark-of-night, we went... torch-carrying, (her term for flashlight), knitbag-toting, rainboot-wearing spectacles of foreign matter.

And it was good.
Like a nervous Nelly on the first day of school, but after awkward introductions, we dove right in. Rather, Meg (the visitor) did, lol. Losing no time, she broke right through the Yankee barrier with her warm and friendly chatter and knitting show-and-tell (can that woman knit!).

I ,on the other hand, knit silently getting the lay of the land.

We met the ubiquitous New England Stalwart, bustling, bristly, but the first one to offer help, the Local Expert (who with a quick turn of her head in thought was able to solve most knitting puzzles that evening), the Dazzler - that one in the group who has the best, the most detailed and pretty much all-time awesome show of a project, the Rebel - the one who chooses to do her own way and it looks fab, and others I save for a another rainy-day post. 

Suffice it to say in the East, people Knit In Winter.

And by the end, I didn't feel so new-like-a-shiny-penny, was thoroughly welcomed into the fold and found that unlike some generalizations about New Englanders, these people were friendly, warm and accepting.

Now I could have been intimidated, but I was not.
I think.

I immediately went home and cast about for waaay too many knitting projects for Works-In-Progress Wednesday.
Here they are:

Burly Spun Wrap

 free Rapunzel snowboarding hat


Alene's Wrap

Next week, I am prepared.
Ok. Overprepared.
But next week, I will go back, and with a better project and better yarn.
Possibly, local yarn.
That should do it, lol.

Buy handmade and have a Good One. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hot Off the Presses: Derby Doings

Hubby reminded me (as men do when there is fishing involved) that I promised regular reporting on this subject. And, you can't let your man down, now can you?

It is day 21 of the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass Fishing Derby. I can report that family members have "made the board," placed in the "dailies" and will, with confidence, continue to until the last day of fishing - October 15.

Let's see, we have:

                                        Checking out fishing spots - Lucy Vincent Beach
                                                         (from family member Julie Megan)

First catches by cousins

and first weigh-ins by cousins and "making the board"

                                                 Family competition heating up!

            Andy, Jenna and Neela going to weigh-in and "making the board"

                                                          Getting a daily Second Place!


                                                       What's For Dinner?


Buy local, eat fish and have a good one. :)