Authors Posts by Megan Alley

Megan Alley

Megan Alley
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The town seems a bit empty with the schools on vacation. Many students and their families have left for warmer climates or, in some cases, headed north for ski holidays. I guess our warm weather is over for a while as single figure temperatures and possibly snow are predicted for this week. The birds have been flocking to the feeders as if feeling the need to stock up on seeds and even the deer are venturing into the yard from the surrounding woods, perhaps hoping to find a tasty treat also.

Featherstone is very excited about their 18th year and would like to invite you to attend their 18 x1 8 art show opening next Sunday, March 2, from 4 to 6 pm. They will be exhibiting art that is 18 by 18 inches or smaller and celebrating with some birthday cake, in honor of their 18th anniversary.

On Saturday, March 8, from 10 am to 12 noon, join decoy carver Chris Murphy in the Martha’s Vineyard Museum Library to learn the process of carving a duck decoy. Chris will teach the art of carving decoy heads. All tools and materials will be provided. A second session of this two-part workshop will be held on March 22. For more info and to reseerve a space, log on to mvmuseum.org or call 508-627-4441, ext. 110.

No excuses for boredom with all the programs our library is offering. Like Mardi Gras Mask Craft for Kids Saturday, March 1, 11 am to 12 noon, where you can make a fun mask for ages 2 and up. Adult supervision is required.

Holly Nadler leads The Curious Minds Forum monthly discussion on Thursday, March 13, 6:30–7:30 pm.

A Crossword Puzzle Tournament will be held on Tuesday, March 4, at 6:30 pm and all levels are welcome.

Computer Basics: Microsoft Office will be taught by Miki Wolfe on Tuesday, March 4, at 2 pm and 6 pm. Basic introduction class includes Microsoft Office Suite, Word, Excel, Publisher, and PowerPoint.

The Documentary Film Night at 6 pm on Thursday, March 6, will take an in-depth look at honeybee colonies.

And at the St. Patrick’s Day for Kids program on Saturday, March 8, at 12 noon where there will be crafts, food and fun for ages 2 and up. Adult supervision required.

Join the First Baptist Church for Shrove Tuesday, March 4 at 6:30 PM in the First Baptist Church Parish House in Vineyard Haven. There will be fellowship, crafts and games followed by a brief closing service to start the Lenten observances. All are welcome.  Call to reserve and for more information, 508-693-1539.

Condolences to the family of Judy Davey. Judy was a member of the Oak Bluffs High School class of 1953 and will be missed by her family and friends. We are sorry.

We send birthday smiles to Heather Ferreira on March 2, Reggie Holland-Kuszewski and Cathy Case on March 3, Alison Ferreira, Amy Billings, and Christine Buckley share the 4th, and smiles to Marguerite Cogliano on March 5.

Enjoy your week, stay warm and peace.

Megan-AlleyOkay, so I was wrong last week when I said there was nothing different we could add to the weather mix than what we had already had. How wrong I was, was the thought that went through my head, when last week, with the snow storm heading our way, there were two explosions of thunder. The landscape looked more like a painting than real after Saturday night’s blizzard, with trees and shrubs frosted with snow and bowed down with the weight of it. The sun shining on the snow-covered limbs reflected a diamond-like sparkle everywhere.

All this beauty came with a price, however, as it meant endless hours of plowing, shoveling and even loss of power for many. For me it meant an ice dam on my sunroom roof, resulting in many puddles inside. Our highway department crews did a great job in clearing the roads and making them safe for travel. Thanks to many unknown good Samaritans, I have been helped out by having my driveway plowed and sanded, and on Sunday, SOS Services, in the person of owner Marc Rivers, came to my rescue and completely cleared my driveway. Now we are promised temperatures close to 50 at the end of the week. I wonder what else will come with it.

Jamie Harris has retired from his position in the operating room at the M.V. Hospital. Jamie has worked there for 38 years and I think he deserves a long and enjoyable retirement after all that time.

A new feature at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s Vineyard Haven property, the former Marine Hospital/St. Pierre School of Sport, is a live streaming webcam. The webcam is located on the second floor of the building and shows views of the Lagoon, Hines Point, and Vineyard Haven harbor as well as the museum’s front lawn. To access the webcam, visit www.mvmuseum.org and scroll to the bottom right where you can click on a link to the streaming video.

The Memory Café, a new community event sponsored by Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation, is being held Friday, February 21, from 3:30 to 4:30 pm at Windemere. This event is open to the public and presents a venue where people who otherwise might not feel comfortable in a busy social environment can come socialize. For further info, check with Mary Holmes at Windemere.

Dear Grace Frye, whom I always called “the Queen of Avon,” died last week at the age of 95. Grace spent much time with me and friends in the 60s and 70s when she would come to our houses for her Avon presentations. Always a gentle lady, she brightened many a dreary winter for us as we listened and laughed with her as she willingly and patiently showed us her wares. We send deepest sympathy to her family and friends. We also send condolences to the family of Benjamin Araujo, who died last week, much too early in his life. We are so sorry.

The Oak Bluffs Writers Group will meet at the Library today, from 10 am to 12 noon. And for a very interesting evening, come to the Crossword Puzzle Tournament on Tuesday, March 4, at 6:30 pm. All levels welcome.

We send birthday smiles to Brenda Lehman and Linda Scott on February 21, Kaitlin Marchand and Rita Jeffers on the 22nd, followed by Melanie Marchand, Kristen Maclean and Paul Buckley Jr. the next day, Benjamin Peters, Wendy Macy and Linda Rice on the 25th, and Earl Peters on February 27. Belated birthday smiles to Simone Davis who turned 12 on February 12.

Enjoy your week. Peace.

Megan-AlleyNot warm, is it? I think I could just save the same weather description, use it each week and be 98 percent accurate each time. The icy streets and walkways are so dangerous, forcing us to creep along slowly holding our breaths till we safely reach our destinations. It has been an exhausting season for the highway department; thanks to them for their hard and seemingly endless work. And how about our Fire Department and EMS personnel holding rescue drills in this frigid weather? Great work and thanks from all of us for being so willing to be prepared no matter what the temperatures.

And of course our library is always a haven for warm and informative programs. Damien Brennan will be doing a presentation for those planning a visit to Ireland or interested in travel. Join in for this interesting event on Friday, February 21, at 3 pm.

The Book Club at our Oak Bluffs Library will discuss the novel “Defending Jacob” on

Wednesday, February 26, at 10:30 am. I found it not only a great read, and there are many twists and turns with a surprising ending. Refreshments will be served.

The MV Museum has some interesting events planned for this month. Interested in learning how to collect oral histories? Here is your chance as on Saturday, February 15, from 9 am to 1 pm, the first of a two session workshop series will be led by Oral History Curator, Linsey Lee. Participants will gain knowledge of interviewing and recording techniques, care of collections, and creative use of oral histories. In the process, you will be able listen to audio samples from the museum’s collection of over 1,400 interviews with Vineyarders. A second session of this two-part workshop will be arranged. The cost is $20 per person. Reservations required. Call 508-627-4441, ext. 110, or e-mail kgtuers@mvmuseum.org

Then on Wednesday, February 19, from 3 to 4 pm in the museum gallery, join assistant curator Anna Carringer for a tour of the current exhibits on display. Anna will reveal her favorite objects in the exhibits. Refreshments will be served. This event is free for members and $7 for non-members.

Island schools will be closed on President’s Day on Monday, February 16, and then for the winter break, Feb. 23– 27, reopening on Monday, March 2. Yes March, which gives hope that we are slowly “marching” toward a warmer season.

We send birthday smiles to Tony Pasqualino on the 13th, Susan Christopher on the 14th, Smiles to brothers Eric and Michael deBettencourt and Lorraine Mavro on the 15th, Carol deBettencourt, Kathy Farrissey and Fr. Michael Nagle share the 16th, Carrie Tankard, and Joel Rebello on February 18th, and Patti Linn on the 18th.

Don’t forget your sweetheart on this Friday, our roses are red, violets are blue Valentine’s Day.

Please keep in contact with elderly or housebound neighbors to make sure they are warm and safe.

Peace.

Did we really need a groundhog to tell us there would be six more weeks of winter? The snow [a]looks picture-perfect when it has first fallen and cleans up the landscape. Then, as New England weather does, the temperature rises a bit, the snow starts to melt, and we are left with a somewhat disappointing view of everything that remains until time for spring clean-up. But soon the cycle will begin again with falling temperatures and snow camouflaging what we don’t want to see. I guess we should be grateful for the water it brings because many parts of the country, especially California, are in such a serious drought they would certainly appreciate the rain and the snow. And besides, will complaining change anything?

If you are looking for a book to read during this cold, snowy winter, get a copy of “Everyday Heroes,” by Seamond Ponsart Roberts. This true story of a family’s life at lighthouses will give you a view of a way of life that has passed into history. Seamond’s father, Octave Ponsart was stationed at the West Chop lighthouse in 1946 and Seamond was a student at the Tisbury School. The book contains many chapters about her friends and her adventures on the Island.

Leaders of the new organization 350 Martha’s Vineyard Island (350MVI) will be guests at the monthly meeting of the Democratic Council of Martha’s Vineyard (a.k.a. MVDems).   The meeting will be held from 9 to 10:30 am. on Saturday, February 8, at the Howes House in West Tisbury which is across from Alley’s General Store.  All are welcome to attend.  For more information, please contact MVDems at info@mvdems.org.

Our Library will keep us active this winter and the latest program is a “Curious Minds Forum”

on Thursday, February 13, at 6:30 pm. Join Holly Nadler and guests for this monthly forum. The February topic is lucid dreams.

Valentine Making for Kids will take place on Thursday, February 13, 3:30 to 4:30 pm. It includes making and decorating paper valentines for or ages 3 and up. Adult supervision is required.

Get lost in a giant maze on Saturday, February 15, from 11 am to 2 pm. This will be fun for the whole family and you will have an opportunity to meet the maze makers,

Sponsored by Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard at the Edgartown Public Library, the

documentary “Genetic Roulette – The Gamble of Our Lives” will be shown on Wednesday, February 12, at 7 pm. This film explores the health dangers of food containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Come learn about GMOs, GMO labeling initiatives, and efforts to become GMO Free.  For more info, call the library at 508-627-4221

Bill and Maureen Anderson have just returned from five weeks in St. Pete Beach, Florida, visiting their daughter, Kristen Anderson, and grandson, Ian Thompson. While there, they went to Fort Myers and then traveled on the Key West Express for a visit to Key West. Another daughter, Gretchen Anderson, and her family, were also there to celebrate the holidays.

Whenever you have attended the Memorial Parade, over past years, you have probably seen the woman who was selling the red poppies That woman was Anna Duarte. After many years devoted to that project, Anna retired a few years ago. Now, due to health issues, Anna resides at Windemere. She would love to hear from old friends or perhaps new ones who would let her know how her hard work over the years was appreciated.

We send birthday smiles to Chloe Hoyt , Marc Rivers and Sally Scott on February 7, Adam Barmakian, Nelson deBettencourt, and Richard J. Mavro on the 10th, Juanita Suarez Espino and Cody Pachico on the 11th, and Melissa Kalagher on the 12th.

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Snow, cold, sunny warm-ups, rain, snow, etc. It goes on and on this winter, doesn’t it? My grandson from South Carolina got his wish to extend his visit to us and also see snow as he arrived at Logan on Tuesday to return home to the south, only to be told his flights had been canceled. So hopping on the first bus he could, he returned to the Island for two more snow-filled days. The weather didn’t seem to damper attendance at the Chili Fest contest on Saturday as it certainly was packed — good news for the Red Stocking Fund as this is their main fundraiser for their good works.

In spite of the the weather many events continue. The United Methodist Church of Martha’s Vineyard holds two different Community suppers. The Oak Bluffs suppers are held at the Parish House of the Trinity Methodist Church in the Campground, (not the Good Shepard Parish as is stated online.) at 6 pm every Saturday. The Edgartown Community Suppers are held in the Whaling Church every Monday at 5 pm

Head to our Oak Bluffs Library and enjoy the movie night on Thursday, February 6, at 6 pm. The feature film will be a documentary about back-up singers, and besides being free, there will be a light supper.

Computer Basics program on Tuesday, February 11, at 2 pm and 6 pm, will unlock some of the mysteries of Email and Microsoft Office under the guidance of Miki Wolfe. This is also a free program.

Applications are now being accepted for the 13th season of Renaissance House: A Retreat for Artists and Writers taking place June, July, and September, 2014, in Oak Bluffs. Renaissance House is an artists’ and writers’ retreat sponsored by the Helene Johnson and Dorothy West Foundation For Artists In Need. There is an easyapplication process. Simply email a sample of your work along with a one page maximum letter telling why you need to get away. Send to: Renaissancehse@aol.com or send a hard copy to: Renaissance HouseAtt: Abigail McGrath, PO Box 3048, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

Save the date for the PTO sponsored Cake Walk at the Oak Bluffs School on Friday, January 31, at 6:30 pm. Bring a cake and have some fun! Be creative and think outside the pan. If you need more information, please call Teri at 508-560-3351.

Oak Bluffs School Principal Rich Smith would like to invite you to a report card parent night at 6:30 pm tonight, January 30. His hope is that this explanation of the report card will be a mechanism to display each grade level rubric and create a method by which parents will be able to look at the standards and be offered strategies to support our children at home. Representative teachers from each grade level will be present to help facilitate this very important meeting. For those of you that are unable to attend, the school will send home a rubric with this same information so that you may benefit as well.

We send birthday smiles to Barbara Spain today, Bethany deBettencourt and David Madeiras tomorrow, Noah Hoyt and Judy Searle on February 1, Emma Williamson on Feb. 3, grandson Matt Rivers on the 4th, Maureen Anderson and Bella Pasqualine on the 5th, and Kelly Irene Pacheco on February 6.

Walk carefully in these snowy times.

Peace.

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This past Monday morning, while writing this column, I was greeted by a “sky blue pink” sunrise in the East. The pastel colors streaked softly across the sky giving the impression of a serene start to the day. But what a difference colors can make as it was a “sky-on-fire” scene that greeted me as the day ended. The sunset colors were so red you could almost feel the heat. These color bookends to the day were perfect.

All lines lead to the Chili Fest on Saturday, January 25. Start lining up now to the P-A Club in Oak Bluffs for this popular festival that supports our Island Red Stocking Drive.

Tuesday, January 28, at 2 and 6 pm, there will be introduction to computer classes at the Oak Bluffs Library. The classes will include basic computer instruction with Miki Wolfe. Everything from powering up, mouse skills, and basic functions will be included. The classes are free, so here is a good opportunity to lean a new skill.

There will be a raffle ticket sale to benefit Save the Gay Head Light. There are wonderful prizes including 100 gallons of heating oil and 100 gallons of propane donated by Vineyard Propane. You may buy a ticket at Cronig’s Market, Vineyard Haven, from 11 am to 4 pm on January 25, January 31, and February 1. The winning ticket will be drawn by Beverly Wright on February 1.

Not wanting to compete with the Patriot’s play off game, The Federated Church Cabaret, which will be held in the Federated Parish House on South School Street in Edgartown, has been rescheduled to Saturday, January 25, at 7:30 pm. Peter Boak will be at the piano, while you enjoy appetizers, hear singing, comedy, see magic and more, for an admission fee of $15. Wine will available for $5 a glass. The admission fee benefits the Peace Quilts for Haiti project and The Federated Church. For more info you may call Marna Waller at the Federated Church, 508-627-4421 or email antispung@aol.com.

We have been enjoying a visit from our son Dion Alley and my granddaughter Paige who flew in from Perth, Australia, on Thursday last. We also welcomed grandson Ben Alley who arrived from Charleston, S.C., on Saturday. It is summer in Australia so Paige will be here for ten days, but Ben had to leave last Tuesday to return to high school. He was hoping to see some snow while here, but I think he will miss it by a few hours.

Condolences to the family of Ruth Davin, who died last week. A lovely lady, she will be missed by her family and many friends.

We send birthday smiles to Buddy deBettencourt,, Michael Blake, Paul Buckley, and Holly Nadler on the 23rd. Joe Peters, BJ Bailey, and Megan Klein on the 24th, Wayne Barrett and Julia Bettencourt on the 25th, Caroline Davey on the 27th, Michael Perry III on the 29th followed by Otis Rogers and his grandson Mike Giordano on the 30th. And a very special smile for Charlene Corrigan from her granddaughter Susan Garrett on the 27th. Charlene reside at Windemere and Susan would like us all to know that her grandmother will be 100 years old on that day.

Stay safe as there are predictions of a blizzard and freezing temperatures and check on your elderly and perhaps housebound neighbors.

Peace.

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Take some time Monday, January 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to reflect on the accomplishments and sacrifices made by this leading civil rights leader. Everyone is invited to join the First Baptist Church at the corner of Spring and William Streets for Sunday worship on January 19 at 11 am for a special service honoring Dr. King.

Thanks to Peter Martell who has retired as Emergency Management Director. Peter devoted many years, much energy and time to perfect this department for our town. Great job, Peter, and congratulations to the new co-directors — our Police Chief Erik Blake and acting Fire Chief John Rose. Congratulations are also due to Shawn Broadley on his appointment as Deputy Fire Chief and Manny Rose as the new Assistant Chief.

The Board of Directors of the Vineyard Playhouse have received a most wonderful surprise. It is a major challenge gift of $75,000 from Jeremy and Friederike Biggs. Friederike is a devoted member of the Playhouse Board of Directors. They are honored and grateful for this opportunity! With the public’s help, they hope to meet this challenge and raise the matching amount by April. Remember, every dollar donated to the Biggs Challenge is doubled! Construction continues apace at the theater throughout the winter, and they we will re-open in June, with a full season of plays to be announced very soon.

Condolences to the family of John Potter. A familiar presence in our town, especially East Cho, he led a most interesting life. He will be missed by his family and many friends. We are sorry.

The Tisbury travel club has planned a trip to the 2014 Spring Garden & Flower Show in Providence on Thursday, February 20. This year’s show combines America’s passion for gardening with our love affair for classic cars. Vintage autos will be the centerpieces and time theme for the gardens, flower design, etc. You are welcome to call and register for the trip. The $38 price includes show admission, roundtrip motorcoach travel from Woods Hole to Providence, and driver gratuity. You will be leaving on the 8:15 am boat and returning at 5 pm. All Islanders are welcome. It’s a great way to beat the winter blahs!

The Methodist Church of Martha’s Vineyard will be restarting the weekly Oak Bluffs Community suppers on Saturday, January 11 at 6 pm at the Parish House in the Campgrounds. On Monday, January 13, the Edgartown Community Suppers will restart at the Edgartown Whaling Church.

Save Thursday, January 16, when Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard presents “Genetic Roulette” at the Oak Bluffs Public Library at 6 pm. Produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), the film is concerned with the health dangers of genetically modified food, the impact on our food system and on us. It provides compelling testimony to help explain the deteriorating health of Americans, especially among children, and offers a recipe for protecting ourselves and our future.

There will be no school on Friday, January 17, due to a professional day. School will also be closed on Monday, the 20th, in honor of Martin Luther King Day.

We send birthday smiles to Katherine deBettencourt on the 17th, Brad Tanner on the 18th, Marcia Valentzas the next day, Alfie Araujo on the 20th, and my granddaughter Talia Rogers, Tristan Araujo, Catherine Deese, and Rosemary Hildreth on the 21st.

Enjoy your week. Peace.

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Cold and snow and ice did not seem to stop friends and families from seeing in the New Year. As we do every year, I joined my longtime friends, Sylvia and Jim Roger, Jules and Barbara BenDavid, Wendy Rose, Nelson and Sandra deBettencourt, and Barbara’s sister, who had been visiting over the holidays, at an early dinner at the Grill on Main. Our circle of friends was not as full as it once was as we felt the loss of Linda and John from our group, and my husband, Denny, can no longer participate in these gatherings. Maureen and Bill Anderson, who usually were part of this celebration, were enjoying the warmth of Florida while we struggled to just keep warm. But we welcomed the New Year, about 4 hours early, and were most grateful to once more be blessed with our friendships. Also at the Grill that night were many members of the Combra family, come together to celebrate, as she proudly told me, the 93rd birthday of the family matriarch, Anita Combra. As they were leaving for home, just before us, we serenaded the group with a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday.”

Our new year has unfortunately brought us news of the passing of three Oak Buffs residents. We send sincere condolences to the families of Scott Francis, Gerri Davis, and Lester White. Our thoughts and prayers go to all who loved them, and strength for the difficult days ahead. Their loss has changed the fabric of our town and left a space that will be difficult to close.

Dan Wolf, state senator for the Cape and Islands, will be a guest at the January meeting of the Democratic Council of Martha’s Vineyard. The meeting will be held from 9 to 10:30 am on Saturday, January 11, at the Howes House in West Tisbury, across from Alley’s General Store. Senator Wolf will discuss key legislative issues for the Island and the Commonwealth. The meeting will also identify priority issues for the gubernatorial candidates to address. All are welcome to attend. For more information please contact MVDems at info@mvdems.org.

Pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, oatmeal, juice and coffee for $8, breakfast for a family of four for $25,and $5 for each additional family member. Sounds delicious and reasonable doesn’t it? This is the menu for the second Saturday breakfast at First Baptist Church Parish House, on William Street in Vineyard Haven on Saturday, January 11, at 9 am. Reservations are not required and all are welcome. For Information, call 508-693-1539.

Winter activities continue at the Oak Bluffs Library. On Saturday, January 11, from 10 am to 2 pm you can enjoy a round of Library Mini Golf. Families and kids play free mini golf in the library with free hot cocoa and an excellent raffle as well. Then Thursday, January 16, at 6 pm, Slow Food MV presents a documentary movie called “Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives.” This film is concerned with the dangers of genetically modified foods.

We send birthday smiles to Brenda Leonard on January 10, grandson Sam Alley and Richard Combra Jr. on the 11th, Jack deBettencourt and Richard Mavro on the 12th, Gert Knowlton and Sue Sequinha the next day, Shamus Kelley on the 15th, and Jessica Peters on the 16th.

Enjoy your week. Peace.

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Welcome to our new year, 2014. Everything will be new and promises to be different.

We have said goodbye to quite a few Oak Bluffs citizens this year, some very young and some older, but all were loved. They include Linda Marinelli, Yvonne Ponte, Michelle Davis, Alice Rose, Paul Straus, Andy Farrissey Sr, Richard DeBettencourt, Richard Brown, John Balboni, Jack Dario, Peter (Mr. Mom) Sullivan, Tim Wey, Linda Swift, Rupert Robinson, and Walter Gallant. We remember you and you are missed.

And we could not let the old year pass without saying thank-you to so many helping hands who enhanced our lives with their contributions. We thank, all emergency personnel, EMS, Fire Department, Police Department, Highway and Park Department who keep our town parks and streets safe and clean, and the school personnel who keep our most precious children educated and safe. And this year double thanks to all the delivery people including, FedEx, UPS and the post office. I think they did an excellent job during this busiest of seasons.

The Island Clergy Association is sponsoring community suppers January through March. The Good Shepherd Parish is holding their suppers on Thursday evenings from 5 to 6:30 pm at St. Augustine’s Hall in Vineyard Haven, starting on January 9.

The members of the Federated Church of Edgartown are once again sponsoring their free lasagna luncheons, beginning January 5 and continuing every Sunday through March 30. The luncheon is held from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm in the Federated Church Parish House, 45 South Summer Street, Edgartown. The meals are free, and all are welcome. The meal consists of: salad, lasagna, garlic bread, and assorted cookies. Donations will not be accepted. For more information, call Marna Waller at the church office, 508-627-4421.

The new year has just started and already our public library has some great programs planned.Thursday, January 9, is Movie Night starting at 6 pm. “Pressure Cooker” will be shown in the library Meeting Room and Skinny’s Fat sandwiches are included!

Also on Thursday, January 9, at 6 pm, author Ed Merck will talk about his new book, “Sailing the Mystery: My Journey into Life’s Remaining Chapters,” an account of his passage up the east coast of America in search of a new life.

On Friday, January 10, from 6 to 9 pm you can participate in Library Mini Golf with a literary theme. There will be complimentery food and drink and a silent auction. This event is for Adults 21 years and older, and the cost is $18 per person or $30 per couple. And, of course, it includes the mini golf in the library!

We send birthday smiles to Jen Araujo and Michelle Bettencourt on January 1, Nola Mavro, Chris Alley, and Nicole deBettencourt on the 3rd, Kate Fieffer and Jules BenDavid on the 5th, followed by Michael Araujo and Patricia Costa the next day,

Enjoy the new year and I am sending you into 2014 with this Irish Blessing.

May joy and peace surround us,

Contentment latch our door,

And happiness be with us now,

And bless us evermore.

Peace.

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This will be a different column, so let’s start with the birthday smiles. We are sending them to Rick Tarter on the 28th, and Ava Ben David, Anita Combra, and Claudia Metell on the 31st,

How very quickly this beautiful season has reached its climax. The lights everywhere are so very beautiful and our Ocean Park sits softly in the night with small patches of tree lights casting their warm glow over the far corners of the now silent park but beckoning our eyes toward the gazebo in the center where the warmest yet soft lights complete the picture of serenity. Our town is beautiful as the stores are dressed for the season and most welcoming. Travel along the harbor as you are leaving town and gaze at the small trees as their lights reflect on the water. The Nelson W. Amaral Fire Station on Wing Road looks smartly dressed in lights, thanks to the hard work of the OBFD and EMS personnel.

Has Christmas really changed that much over the years? My mother-in-law would tell us the story of she and her siblings excitingly opening their stockings and thrilled to find an orange, perhaps socks and most delightfully perhaps, was that piece of Christmas Candy stuck in the toe of the stocking. Her eye would reflect the happiness of her memories as she told of the Portuguese musicians in town who would travel from house to house singing and playing their instruments and sitting and enjoying the hospitality of everyone who welcomed them. I guess some of the celebrations went on through the night, and she said the children would be sent upstairs to bed but the partying went on until dawn.

My childhood memories recall the excitement of the tree being “put up,” perhaps only a week or so before Christmas because all the trees were live. Absolutely no presents were put under the tree until Christmas eve when my sisters and I would be sleeping. I think my children and grandchildren would be amazed at how contented we were with whatever we found. It was most simple, paper dolls, handmade clothes and of course books.

The Baptist Church in Vineyard Haven was a big part of our social lives and I still remember sitting in the pews and the childrens’ names were called one by one to come and get a gift. And then the occasional times that we were able to spend Christmas with our parents’ families in New Hampshire and Vermont, where we would celebrate with my many Gates and Bagley aunts, uncles, and cousins. There was much joy spread around. By today’s expectations, it might seem as if we had little, but to Islanders in the late ’30s and 40’s it was enough. The memories you see, are not so much of those material gifts received but the joy and love that was given out and felt by all of us

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Peace.