“We could have held a town meeting at the transfer station,” my husband said when he got home from taking our recycling in this morning. Sunday morning at the West Tisbury dump, now at the transfer station, has been a ritual and meeting place as long as I can remember.
In my early days in town, the West Tisbury dump, indeed all the dumps on the island, were treasure troves of anything and everything one could imagine. Building materials — lumber, windows, doors, cabinets — and tools, kitchenware, furniture, rugs, pretty bric-a-brac were all left in separate areas for anyone to take and reuse. Affordable housing meant building your house with scavenged materials found at the dump or a job site, or misordered stuff from Cottle’s; they could be used now, and changed or upgraded as your finances improved. Much of our house and the houses of everyone we knew were built that way. Many houses were furnished that way, too. It was the running joke of every carpenter’s wife living in an unfinished house.
I still have fond (only in retrospect) memories of our blue-painted plywood floors, rough stairs, a sheet of plywood nailed over the opening that would become our front door. Our sunroom was built using clouded-up Thermopane windows Mike took out of a house when he put in new ones. Our living room window, a huge picture window with only two tiny flanking windows that opened, bringing in hardly any air and which I thought was hideous, came from some other job, as did our kitchen windows. But they were free or cheap, and we were just fine with it.
The blue-painted plywood floors have since been replaced with wide pine boards we bought from a friend who had over-ordered for a job. The hideous living room windows are now pretty six-over-six muntin windows that make a sunny backdrop to the sofa where I sit to write and read. Mike made a front door and screen doors, and rebuilt the sunroom with new glass panels that let the sun warm our house all winter and afford an open view to our woods. The stairs in our front hall are beautiful, with cherry treads and a mahogany rail that thrills me every time I run my hands along it as I descend in the morning and throughout the day. Mike made the newel post, too, from a photograph I showed him that he used for inspiration. Everything he has done has been special, designed by one or both of us, carefully crafted and eventually installed.
There are still some windows and doors with no trim, no shelves or dreamed-of cabinets. The floor needs refinishing, and the trim we do have could use a sanding and a fresh coat of paint. Still, to me it is the most beautiful house in the world.
I will always feel nostalgic for life on the Island as it was when I came here, for “using up or doing without,” as an old aphorism stated.
I made a mistake in last week’s column regarding early voting. The last day is Nov. 2, not Nov. 1. The last day to register to vote before the Nov. 6 election is Oct. 17.
The Martha’s Vineyard Democratic Council will meet at the Howes House this Saturday morning from 9:30 to 11 am. A guest speaker, Meghan Adams, from Congressman Bill Keating’s office, will discuss specific ways to help elect Democrats in Massachusetts for county, state, and federal offices. After the meeting, there will be a brief training for how to canvass, phone bank, or write postcards, followed by the actual tasks. If you are planning on phone banking, bring your laptop and cell phone, a headset, or earbuds.
Congratulations to our local cartoonist, Paul Karasik, who is included in the newly published “The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons.”
At the West Tisbury library:
Thursday, Oct. 11, 4:30 pm, Mary Lou Piland will read from and discuss her new book, “For the Love of Spumoni.”
Friday, Oct. 12, 3:30 pm, the monthly meeting of Dumbledore’s Army. At 7 pm, Pamela Gayle White from Bodhi Path will present “Why Meditate? Mind Matters.”
Saturday, Oct. 13, 1 pm, the Martha’s Vineyard Community Seed Library will hold a seed-saving party at the FARM Institute. At 3:30 pm, Peter Hufstader will read and discuss his young adult sea-going thriller, “The Riddle of the Graveyard.”
Sunday, Oct. 14, the library begins its winter hours, open from 1 to 5 pm. There will be a reception for the 16 artists participating in “From One, Many,” from 1:30 to 4 pm. Their work will be on view at the library through October. At 3 pm, Jennie Isbell Shinn will lead a community dreamwork circle.
Monday, Oct. 15, 7 pm, MVY’s Dave Kish will present his monthly jazz documentary and discussion.
Tuesday, Oct. 16, 10:30 am, there will be an Adult Community Dance Class with the Yard. No sign-up is necessary, and dancers of all skill levels are welcome.
So many of my friends are complaining about the days shortening into fall. I have noticed that I’m turning lights on earlier. It makes the house look cheery for Mike when he comes home, to have the porch light on and some inside the house. It’s nice to have him home earlier, too.