West Tisbury: Lights

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The nights have been crystal clear, with a perfect sliver of a moon and brilliant stars. Mike put up our outside Christmas lights Sunday afternoon, and I started decorating the house. Last night when I took the dogs outside, everything sparkled. The stars, the lights on our garden fence, the candles in all of our windows.

I was so sad to hear that Ralph Jones died last Wednesday at age 93. He was one of the people that always represented West Tisbury to me, as he was such an active member of the community, both town and church, and the extended Riggs clan of friends and acquaintances. There will be a graveside service at the West Tisbury cemetery this Saturday, Dec. 10, at 10 am.

Ralph was a presence. He was tall, with a deep voice that always had the perfect, laconic comment for any situation, and a laugh that was shared. For years, he taught basic computer skills at the Howes House. I took his class many times over, and remain grateful for his patience with this most computer-phobic student ever. I can write my column and manage basic emails, but never mastered the sophisticated invitations with manipulated pictures and varicolored text, or presentations of perfectly lined-up columns he showed us how to design with only a click and a keystroke. He could do anything. With calm and good humor.

It seemed not so long ago that he and Alvida celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary with a wonderful party. Alvida just told me this May would have been their 69th. They had all of their children and grandchildren here for the Jones/Riggs-Attebery/Fielder Thanksgiving I wrote about last week. Happy times and happy memories. I pray they will sustain and comfort Alvida and her family. They will welcome hearing people’s’ memories of Ralph. There will be lots to tell on Saturday.

I have also just learned that Claudio Gasparini died at his home in Lancaster, Pa. I didn’t know him, but certainly knew his exuberant and colorful artwork. He lived on the Vineyard during the 1980s and ’90s, moving to Pennsylvania with his wife, Jeanne, in 2000. He was a recognizable member of the Island art world, exhibiting at Treehouse Gallery, Louisa Gould Gallery, and Granary Gallery. Condolences to his family and friends.

Going to the Christmas Faire at our West Tisbury church always puts me in a holiday mood. I love walking into the sanctuary, seeing and smelling fragrant greenery in beautiful wreaths and decorations. So many of the people I know and who make up our community are bustling around, either tending the tables or shopping at them. The bakery table was its best. Mike and I have already eaten the chocolate chip cookies with macadamia nuts, an amazing combination I never thought of. Our wreaths are hung on our doors and, as I described above, we started decorating. Maybe it will all get done before Christmas Eve this year.

Sunday afternoon I listened to the Smith College Vespers Concert, streamed live over the computer. Kathy Logue sent me the link. Of course, she was going to Northampton to hear the concert in person, as she has ever since she was a student at Smith. Now her daughter, Megan Mendenhall, is attending Smith and in the chorus. It was a beautiful concert, and I was thrilled to see Megan as the camera panned through the chorus and orchestra.

Then Leslie Baker and I were invited to tea at Ruth Kirchmeier’s. I asked Ruth whether Jeffrey Bryant had started putting up Christmas Town yet. “It’s all done,” she said. Ruth called, and we were all invited next door for a viewing. Jeffrey and his son, Sam, had been working all week, arranging and rearranging to perfection. There are new shelves and buildings, whole new sections of town, snow-covered trees, lots more lights. It’s more magical than ever.

The fire department decorated both stations on Sunday, and the tree at the entrance of town at State and Old County Road. Just in time to provide landmarks for Santa’s visit this Sunday, Dec. 11, from 1 to 3 pm. There will be cookies and punch, and fire trucks to examine. Best of all, Santa will be there to hear all our secret wishes for Christmas.

The West Tisbury church began its series of contemplative services for the Advent season this week, as we “embrace the darkness and move into the light of Christmas.” The theme this week was “Longing and Preparing.” “Waiting and Hoping” will be presented on Dec. 14, and “Healing and Transformation” will be on Dec. 21. Services begin at 5:30 pm.

The town holiday party is tonight, Dec. 8, 5 to 8 pm, at the Ag Hall. Please bring a finger food to share and your best holiday spirit.

Sunday, Dec. 18, is the date for Katherine Long’s fabulous solstice party. The party is a potluck and runs from noon to 9 pm. Save the date.

Linda Alley called to say that Island-made Holidays @ Alley’s Farm Stand opened its doors on Wednesday, Dec. 7, and will be open every day from 10 am to 6 pm through Christmas Eve. This is the second year the group has opened conveniently up-Island. Handmade ornaments, jewelry, crafts, art, jams, and more are offered for sale, and the atmosphere is deliciously festive.

Linda also reminds everyone that there are two more Winter Farmers Markets, Saturdays the 10th and 17th, at the Ag Hall, from 10 am to 1 pm.

Don Sibley is exhibiting his paintings at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center lobby, a remarkable collection of work that will remain on view through the month.

The Martha’s Vineyard Democratic Council will meet this Saturday morning, Dec. 10, 9 to 10:30 am, at the Howes House. Guest speakers will be retiring Senator Dan Wolf, Democratic state committee member Robin Hubbard, and Cape and Islands Voter Issues Coalition (CIVIC) president Seth Rolbein.

The Vineyard Sinfonietta will hold an open rehearsal at the Howes House from 3 to 4 pm this Sunday, Dec. 11. They will play Christmas and holiday music. As Heidi Schultz described it, “No charge. No food, either, just music.” So come and enjoy.

Angela Andersen will show her latest documentary at Pathways next Thursday, Dec. 15. The movie begins at 6:30 with a discussion to follow. “Brave New World” is, in Angela’s words, “about what Silicon Valley holds for all of our futures, with interesting interviews, and a focus on biotechnology.” It’s always interesting to find out about what our fellow townspeople do, so plan to come.

At the library, there are silent auction and raffle items set up in the lobby by the West Tisbury Library Foundation. Winners will be announced at the holiday party on Dec. 19. There are lots of possibilities for travel, art, gifts, and experiences, all to fund special programs at the library.

Saturday afternoon, Dec. 10, there will be an opening reception at 4 pm for “Through A Lens,” a community photography show. Sunday afternoon at 3:30 there will be a jazz concert featuring John Alaimo on piano, Tauras Biskis on drums, and Eric Johnson on bass. Monday, Dec. 12, at 7 pm is the monthly meeting of “Writers Read.” Wednesday, Dec. 14, “Tweed’s Reads” book club will meet at 7 pm. Copies of the book for discussion, “I Am Legend,” are available at the library.

The third discussion and information meeting about affordable housing in our town will be held on Monday, Dec. 12, 4 pm, at the Public Safety Building. For more information, contact Ted Jochsberger of the Affordable Housing Committee at 508-687-9746 or board secretary Rhoda Conley at affordhouse@westtisbury-ma.gov.

The sliver of moon only a couple of nights ago has grown to a full crescent now. The sky is cold as ice. Surprisingly, I stepped outside and saw myrtle blooming by our back steps, and a few pale cherry blossoms on one of the trees in our yard. The weather remains erratic, cold and gray one day and a bright blue sky the next, but the lights and decorations going up around town brighten the night and give a friendly air of anticipation to one’s drive home.