“Nothing’s happening: it’s winter on Martha’s Vineyard.” That was the typical response I received last week as I went trolling for news around town. I probably should have run a survey on whether households were Super Bowl or Downton Abbey, and how they managed to bridge the divide.
Having written the above, I wondered if “trolling” was the correct word, or should it be “trawling?” Looking it up in my beloved Oxford English Dictionary, I learned a that both are correct. Trawling uses a net and trolling a line, but both are defined as “searching for something.” I also learned that persiflage means “light mockery or banter;” saltarello is “an energetic Italian or Spanish dance for one couple, characterized by leaps and skips;” that tutu is “a New Zealand shrub which bears poisonous purplish-black berries” as well as a ballerina’s skirt; that a twaite shad has “deep blue sides and a silvery back.” I suppose some may think this twaddle, “trivial or foolish speech or writing,” but I confess to being fascinated with words, language, and trawling or trolling through the dictionary, letting my eyes be caught by whatever I find along the way to what I was looking for in the first place.
Nelia Decker and I got into a conversation at the library last week about rules of grammar and our pet peeves. Hers is misuse of less and fewer. According to The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, less refers to quantity, fewer to number. “His troubles are less than mine” means “His troubles are not so great as mine.” “His troubles are fewer than mine” means “His troubles are not so numerous as mine.” Sadly, both are used interchangeably now, with little regard for precision or nuance.
Mine is “me and my friend” or “me and” whomever. It sounds so impolite to me, a child of the 50s when we were taught to consider others before ourselves. Kids say it all the time and I even hear it from young adults in their twenties and thirties who were never corrected or considered the correction insignificant. At the risk of sounding like Henry Higgins, it does sound grating to my ears. I remain devoted to the Oxford comma, and am saddened by the regular misspellings, misuse of words, and poor punctuation found or heard every day in the media. Just read those lines along the bottom of news broadcasts.
Back to West Tisbury. There wasn’t a parking space in the town center last Wednesday, as cars lined both sides of State Road and filled Alley’s parking lot for the selectmen’s informational meeting at the Howes House to discuss the future of the Mill Pond. I was unable to attend, but went to my local public library, an invaluable resource for information. Beth Kramer said the meeting was “great” and she commended the selectmen for making an opportunity for people to “hear all sides in an unbiased presentation.” Bob Woodruff and Anna Alley presented a slide show advocating dredging the pond. Kent Healy gave a succinct argument for waiting and doing a longer-term analysis of actual conditions. Prudy Burt brought a hydrologist, a biologist, and an engineer to discuss removal of the dam and restoration once the dam is removed. Beth said the program was excellent, very scientific, and well-received by those in attendance.
Storyteller Susan Klein has planned an evening of cozy tales for a winter’s night at Grace Church following their weekly community supper. The program will be next Friday evening, Feb. 15, at 7 pm. There is a $10 suggested donation. Please call 508-693-0332 for more information.
Ellen Weiss told me about a wonderful website you might be interested in. A couple who deliver newspapers around the island takes photographs along their way, earlier in the morning than most of us are awake. Take a look at their website: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can sign up to have photographs sent directly to your email.
The Vineyard Montessori School invites parents to sign up for their summer program, Camp Super Kid, for kids ages 2.9 to 7 years old. Activities include movement and music, visual and theatre arts, scientific exploration, water play, cooking, field trips, walks to the beach, all based on a weekly theme. Kids are promised “a journey into a magical world immersed within an adventurous book.” Call Debbie at 508-693-4090 or email email@example.com.
Paddy Moore invites all West Tisbury Democrats to caucus this Saturday morning, Feb. 9, from 10:45 to noon, at the Howes House. Members will elect delegates to the State Democratic Convention this June in Lowell. Based on the size of our population, West Tisbury has four delegates. This year’s convention will focus on the party platform, so this is an opportunity to stand up for the issues that are important to us and to participate in the democratic process. Call Paddy at 508-693-1627 for more information.
Congratulations to Rabbi Caryn Broitman, one of three recipients of this year’s Martin Luther King Award from the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP, chosen “for their commitment and service to the Vineyard community and the MV NAACP branch.” Rabbi Broitman has just come home from a two-week trip to Israel. She will return to the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center to lead this Saturday morning’s Shabbat service.
At the end of her email about Saturday’s Democratic Caucus, Paddy included a quote from Robert Kennedy. It will make a good ending for this week’s column, too. “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why…. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”