West Tisbury: Nelson the terror cat

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Mike and I have picked out our tree, to be cut from our woods sometime this week. It will go on a table in our sunroom, between the living room and dining room. Unbreakable ornaments only, to accommodate our terror cat, Nelson. We have become accustomed over the four years of Nelson’s life to having a smaller tree. It has become OK. It still fulfills its most special function for me, to show off lights and ornaments, to brighten the night. I love turning out all the lights in the house at night, leaving only the tree lights and the candlelights in our windows. It feels like perfect peace.

The week has been busy with all the preholiday preparations and parties. All wonderful. All adding to the rush to get everything done before Dec. 25.

One enjoyable interruption was Sue Hruby’s birthday party, arranged by Joanne Scott and Jared Hull. It was supposed to be a surprise, and we accomplished that. Jared was in charge of making sure Sue was up, dressed, and at home. He did an excellent job, and Sue was totally surprised when a group of us appeared at her door on Saturday morning. Joanne made the cake. Jared made coffee and tea.

When we walked into the house, everyone commented on how delicious something smelled. Jared was at the stove, stirring something in a wide pan. He had given Sue a cookbook for her birthday present, and told her to choose the recipes she wanted. He would do all the shopping and cooking for the entire weekend. I told him that I had to write about this, as it was one of the best presents I ever heard of. Jared, you have earned kudos from all of us.

Pam Glavine called to remind me and all of you reading this column that she has set out the tree on her husband Carl Widdiss’ grave in the Aquinnah Cemetery. It honor’s Carl’s memory, especially the many kindnesses to others he quietly accomplished during his life. Everyone is invited to visit Carl’s tree and to leave a note, an intention to do something to help another during this holiday. Pam believes that Carl’s spirit will help. It’s a lovely thought.

I was sad to get Don Sexton Jr.’s phone call last Monday, letting Mike and me know that Don Sr. had passed away that morning. Anyone who knew him will remember Don as larger than life. He was a big man with a big voice and a giant sense of humor. Don loved fishing and gardening, his wife Jackie, and his two boys, “Young Don” or “Donny” and David, as we referred to them. We have a lifetime of memories of special occasions spent with Don and Jackie, of drinks, dinners, and conversations both intellectual and ridiculously funny, and the annual Super Bowl party that included my father-in-law, Richard Hull, and Steve and Maureen Murphy. They are all gone now, and I miss them.

The Rev. Alden Besse died this past week, too. He was a true gentleman, effortlessly kind, always interested in the world around him and at large. He visited the sick as a chaplain. He participated in so many political events, often coming up with the ideas himself. He actively made the world a better place. I admired him tremendously, and was grateful to get to know him personally during his time at Long Hill.

Chris Abrams was another loss, well-known to many in our community. Her work with children was legendary, giving them a love of learning and creativity, the gift of a lifetime.
I also note the passing of 4-year-old Stella Novotny. I didn’t know Stella, but wish I had. Her obituary was full of life and all she embraced during her short years.

My condolences and sympathy to the families, friends, and acquaintances of these people, who were part of our lives and our town.

The West Tisbury library was awarded a five-star rating in the 10th edition of the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service. The Library Journal Index is a national rating system designed to recognize and promote American public libraries, to help improve the pool of nationally collected library statistics, and to encourage library self-evaluation. The award was announced on Dec. 4. Our library director Beth Kramer gives “a big thank you to all our trusty patrons for your ongoing support, and to the CLAMS family of libraries for contributing to the ongoing success of our library. You are the reason we have so many stars.”

This week at the library:

Friday, Dec. 22, at 1 pm, kids and families are invited to a free interactive screening of a holiday movie about an elf named Buddy. Each attendee will receive a bag of treats and props to be used at certain times during the movie. Kids under 10 years old must be accompanied by a mature caregiver.

Saturday, Dec. 23, 10 am to 3:30 pm, materials will be laid out in the Children’s Room for a drop-in family craft. Make a scallop shell angel for your tree.

The library will be closed on Sunday and Monday, Dec. 24 and 25, for the Christmas holiday. When the library reopens on Tuesday, the staff has planned a full schedule of crafts, lunch, and film screenings for the rest of the week of winter break. Craft materials will be set out for projects for kids, families, tweens, and teens. Soup and bread will be served every day from 11:45 to 12:45, and a family movie will be shown between 1 and 3 pm every afternoon. To check the movie schedule, see bit.ly/wtplfilmscreenings.

Diane Wall is a wonderful cook, and invitations to her dinner parties are always enthusiastically accepted. Many will remember her years at Alley’s with Charlie and Teena Parton, and then Howie and Susie Uhlfelder, when Diane made doughnuts and muffins to go with the daily coffee they served. Diane is now the maker of splendid lunches at the Edgartown Council on Aging. She was interviewed at work on Dec. 14 by Ali Berlow for the “Local Food Report” on WCAI. You can hear the interview on their website, capeandislands.org. Click on Features, then go down to Local Food Report. The story about Diane is first as you scroll down.

There are still a few spaces available for Marsha Winsryg’s fabulous travel tours to Florence, Italy, that benefit her African Artists Community Development Project. Her website is aacdpafrica.org. What a last-minute Christmas present that could be.