Authors Posts by Valerie Sonnenthal

Valerie Sonnenthal

Valerie Sonnenthal

The Fisher extended family.

Valerie SonnenthalStill in the August blur and enjoying beach cookouts at sunset, swimming in the rain, the best tomatoes ever courtesy of my neighbor, and an incredible Shabbat dinner, but I am behind on my gardening duties and have been taking care of my son who had all his wisdom teeth removed.

I have fallen in love with Menemsha; every time I go down for a walk with my dogs I feel transported by the strange international mix of visitors and locals. I finally made it into Lambert’s Cove Glass, a walk-in closet of a store, between Beetlebung Coffee House and Scott McDowell’s Copperworks of Martha’s Vineyard. I was lucky to pick up a copy of Nancy Safford’s “Time’s Island: Portraits of the Vineyard,” a 1973 photo book published by MIT Press. The store has an excellent selection of used books for all ages with a focus on the Island, besides the gorgeous hand-blown glassware and furniture with glass hardware made by Alan Cottle. They are open Wednesday through Sunday, 1–6 pm, and will be open through the fall; sorry, no phone working there at the moment.

We stopped at Squibby for a dog walk with our Santa Fe visitors and someone who recognized the dogs came up and said hello. Turns out that Cookie (Margo) Martin, who is renting a house with a nearly identical address to our own (a package mix-up was how we met), is here in Chilmark for three weeks with her family. There are 40 family members, renting six houses, all in Chilmark except one, and all are related to Ernest and Doris Fisher, who started out camping in Gay Head and Chilmark nearly 40 years ago. The family spans from 10 months old to Ernest, 92 years young. We hope that everyone had another great summer stay; how lucky they are to share their summers!

On Saturday afternoon Jay Lagemann’s 2009 sculpture “Family – Presidential Welcome,” was moved into the middle of Beetlebung Corner. I had not seen it before and when driving past at 6 pm, pulled over, got out of my car and snapped a few pictures. Thursday, August 21, join sculptors Jay Lagemann and Duncan Niederlitz at their Open Studio from 5 – 7 pm, at 18 Wequobosque, a 1/2 mile on the left past Beetlebung Corner. For more information: or 508-560-0151.

I hope the Obamas will try Chilmark Tavern or they really are missing out on some of the best food offered on Island. My family will be going back this week with our Santa Fe friends and I can’t wait to try what I missed on our first visit. I spotted a really cool Willys parked at Chilmark General Store this week with Ohio plates. I was not gregarious enough to inquire on the packed porch who the owner was and have not seen it since.

The Flanders Field Softball Most Valuable Player was awarded last Sunday to Ed Edgar with much pomp and circumstance. Also the Howie Hustle Award was given to two players this year — Ted Sattler and Caleb Caldwell. Congratulations to all. Games continue Sunday mornings at 8 am through Labor Day.

Martha’s Vineyard Museum Chief Curator Bonnie Stacy is coming to the Chilmark Library to talk about her new book “Martha’s Vineyard,” including fascinating facts, stories, and photographs of the many varied facets of Vineyard life through the 19th century from seafaring families to farm life, to Hollywood filming, on Wednesday, August 27 at 5 pm.

Valerie SonnenthalSummer movie on Menemsha Beach with Sylvia Earle and Bob Nixon, Backyard Bash on a gorgeous evening enjoyed by families and all ages, Chilmark Road Race with more runners than ever, the First Family nestled into their vacation digs, hearing Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Foundation founder and president Dr. John Aucott speak at an informal gathering, one of my sons returning from a summer semester in Poland and one off camping in New Hampshire, dancing in Built on Stilts, girlfriends from Rockland County, N.Y., visiting — it’s the August blur under the Supermoon and Perseid meteor showers. It’s time to start thinking about the Ag Fair, what to enter, and enjoying the myriad of offerings all over our Island.

The other morning in Menemsha I spotted a woman standing by the creek working on a small canvas, fog making the world of this painter a timeless quiet. It was Karen Cuchel, an artist and teacher born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. She works plein air whether at home (still in Brooklyn) or every summer when she, her husband, writer/teacher Jason Dubow, and their kids visit Chilmark, a family tradition started by his parents over 30 years ago. Also our sons will share a common experience, The Mountain School, a one-semester program for high school juniors — we wish Ari Dubow a great semester.

Kara Taylor’s last gallery opening of the summer season is her NIGHT exhibit Sunday, August 17, from 5 to 8 pm. Come see her newest work; I know she’s been busy painting every day. For more information, 508-332-8171.

Last dinner (7 pm) and a movie (8 pm) in Chilmark is “Art and Craft,” a documentary about Mark Landis who has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in U.S. history, though he donated his work to museums under the ruse of being a philanthropist. Come meet Mark Landis on Wednesday, August 20.  For tickets and information,

The Chilmark Public Library gets serious this week with author/activist Rebecca Gordon, a professor at University of San Francisco, discussing her new book, “Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post 9/11 United States” on Wednesday, August 20, at 5 pm. Catch West Tisbury author John Hough Jr. discussing his new novel “Little Bighorn” on Thursday, August 21, at 5 pm.

The last session of Author Lecture Series at the Chilmark Community Center offers three masterful memoirists discussing writing their personal stories. Come hear Gail Sheehy, Richard Hoffman, Katie Hafner moderated by Alexandra Styron on Thursday, August 21, 7:30 pm. Tickets available at and the CCC (M-F, 9-12 only). The last Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society concert will be Carol Wincenc on flute, Jay Campbell on cello, Delores Stevens on piano, playing J.S. Bach’s Duo from the “Well Tempered Clavier,” and other works by Gabriella Lena Frank and Jake Heggie.

All Chilmark Community Center programs and classes run through August 15. The Chilmark Flea Market runs through Saturday, August 30. Remember, Chilmark Chocolates is now closed until September 4. You can still take yoga and dance classes through September 7 at The Yard. Lobster Rolls to Go at the Chilmark Church runs Tuesdays from 4:30 to 7 pm through September 9, and yoga at the church with Primo Lombardi on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:15 am runs through August 28.

Got Chilmark news? Contact Valerie here.

Valerie SonnenthalLife is buzzing in Chilmark. Can’t even pull into parking lots, local eggs are sold out by noon, and the bulletin board at Chilmark Store has no space left. I stopped there for breakfast last week in the rain and the porch was full. Laurie David and a friend in one corner, Doug Liman, Wendy Weldon, James Langlois, and others happily huddled under cover and enjoying morning coffee clutches. Monday brought back sunshine, and once again we are finding deer ticks after walking our dogs. Please remember to check yourselves and loved ones thoroughly. Take it slow on the roads and be sure not to cut off the Presidential motorcade.

Congratulations to Chilmark’s own Nancy Slonim Aronie, celebrating the 25th anniversary of her Chilmark Writing Workshop. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity. You will be happy you decided to give it try. I did her workshop during my second year living here and look forward to attending again soon.

The Allen Farm, Martha’s Vineyard’s oldest continuously working family farm, is hosting the 17th Annual Water Tasting by the Sea, Thursday, August 7, 2014, 5:30- 7:30 pm. A silent auction, raffle, and live music complete the event to benefit Vineyard House, sober housing for Islanders in early recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. Call 508-693-8580 for tickets or buy online.

If you are starting grades 6 -12 it is not too late to enter the Elisa Brickner Annual Poetry Contest, celebrating its 20th anniversary. Poems are due August 11. Winning entries receive $200 first prizes or $100 for 2nd and 3rd prizes! For details stop by or call the library: (508-645-3360) or check

Come hear Alan Dershowitz, 75, Chilmark’s favorite resident scholar, and Lucinda Franks, radical hippie and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who married New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau in 1977, speak about their memoirs on Sunday, August 10, 7:30 pm. Richard North Patterson will discuss the last book in his Martha’s Vineyard trilogy, “Eden in Winter,” a psychological and family drama mostly set in Chilmark. Both at the Chilmark Community Center. Tickets available at or at CCC (M-F, 9 am–12 pm only).

It is the last chance to join Roberta Kirn for a Community Sing at The Yard, Tuesday, August 12, 5–6 pm. All are welcome, no experience necessary. Free.

Learn about Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Campaign at the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association Annual Reception, August 12, 5–8 pm, Old Town Hall, 65 State Road, Aquinnah. Free.

Don’t miss art historian Henry Adams’s talk about artist Thomas Hart Benton’s work and legacy on Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, August 13, 5 pm. Benton made Chilmark his second home for nearly five decades, until his death in 1975. Sponsored by the Chilmark Historical Commission and Friends of the Chilmark Public Library.

Baseball lovers will enjoy Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s Dinner (7 pm) and a Movie (8 pm) featuring “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” with director Chapman Way and producer Juliana Lembi Wednesday, August 13, at the community center. This heartwarming and hilarious film documents one of the great true stories about America’s underdogs — in this case, the Portland Mavericks of 1973. For information goto

Bill Edison reports that when Ed Eger comes from California to Flanders Field, he is known as the best home run hitter since the Dave Flanders reign. Too bad for Ed. After hitting a tremendous drive headed over Pasture Road, his 20-something son, Will ,was waiting for the catch, robbing his dad of a sure home run.

Got Chilmark news? Contact Valerie here.

Enos Ray's jazz paintings greeted you at the Herbs house this past Friday.

Two years ago, driving by the Vineyard Gardens sign “Gallery in the Garden tonight,” I put on my blinker and turned in to their parking lot. Getting out of the car I could hear music and see a world I wanted to visit.

Deborah Hale, seated, looked on as strollers stopped to take in her unique pottery pieces.

Valerie Sonnenthal

Deborah Hale, seated, looked on as strollers stopped to take in her unique pottery pieces.

Last summer I stopped for their Friday evening stroll, delighted to not just get a closer look at artwork by local artists whose work I have admired at the Family Planning Art Show and Featherstone, but now I could meet them, sit and chat, and look at everything. Returning to the gallery’s first Friday stroll in August, I was welcomed by the aroma of free fresh hot popcorn. I grabbed a bag and began my outdoor evening of discovery.

Each week (except during the Ag Fair, August 22) between 8 and 14 artists will present their own work in a variety of mediums. Laura Stone, manager of Vineyard Gardens, told me she cannot say exactly which artists will be at each evening stroll.

First I met Kathleen Young who repurposes old sails into unique assorted bags and pillows. She has been lucky, she said. “The Douglas family has been incredibly generous, so I’ve cleaned them out at Five Corners, that marvelous old building [in Vineyard Haven].” Kathleen moved to the Island in 1973 and raised her kids here. She sells her work at Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven, Slip 77 in Oak Bluffs, Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury, and at The Cliffs in Aquinnah.

The next artisan was Vineyard Gardens’ lead foreman and landscape designer Jeremiah Brown, who started making bowls 10 years ago when his wife bought him a lathe for Christmas. After he practiced a while and taught himself how to make bowls, he sprung for a professional lathe and has been hand-crafting bowls ever since. He does not do any of the Artisans Fairs, but he tells me, “I do the Family Planning Show for sure, ‘cause I like donating to that and actually I was really successful there. I brought 15 pieces and I sold 13 of them.”  He also has a few pieces at Made MV, a new Island Artisan Cooperative in Oak Bluffs.

Bob Hammond played fiddle with Tom Hodgson on the guitar at the first Gallery in the Garden Friday stroll at Vineyard Gardens.

Valerie Sonnenthal

Bob Hammond played fiddle with Tom Hodgson on the guitar at the first Gallery in the Garden Friday stroll at Vineyard Gardens.

Across the gravel path is Scott Campbell of Vineyard Pottery. Scott built the outdoor kiln at Featherstone Center for the Arts and oversaw annual firings for many years, and has a long history of teaching pottery and ceramics at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and Featherstone. He creates both functional and sculptural pottery in stoneware and porcelain, ranging from whimsical garden sculpture to elegant and practical crocks, platters, lamps, and dinnerware. It is difficult not to find something of use among Scott’s offerings.

In the middle of the gardens were musicians Bob Hammond on fiddle and Tom Hodgson playing guitar. Each week core group members of The Flying Elbows, to which Bob and Tom both belong, will play music and have CDs available for purchase. Guest musician Brian Weiland, whose “Misfits of Avalon” album just came out in June, will be a surprise visitor. On the last Friday, over the Labor Day weekend, the Bella Mira band will play English country music from the 17th and 18th centuries.

A little further into the gardens were refreshments, but on the other side of the hoop house was Deborah Hale, a 35-year Island resident, and her elegant pottery. She returns for her second summer in the garden and offers unique pieces made using alternative firing techniques that she has focused on during the past year including raku, saggar, barrel firing, and horsehair.

Kathleen Young, of Vintage ReSail, explained about her unique recycled sail bags and pillows.

Valerie Sonnenthal

Kathleen Young, of Vintage ReSail, explained about her unique recycled sail bags and pillows.

The only painter in attendance was Enos Ray, dressed in a bright blue print shirt, a self-taught artist who has lived on the Vineyard since 1979 with a lot of road trips in between. Looking at his work makes me hear jazz and the blues, not just because his palette includes blue in all the work he was showing. Seeing the southern musicians and singers in his paintings makes you feel the music.

Whether you go to Vineyard Gardens before or after dinner, you’ll find an oasis of creative energy, an ideal way to begin your weekend, away from the madding crowds on Main Streets.

Gallery in the Garden, 5–8 pm, Fridays, August 8, 15, 29, Vineyard Gardens, West Tisbury. Art, flowers, hors d’oeuvres, and music. For more information, call 508-693-8511.

Caitlin Murphy, 25, left enjoys dinner with close family friend Lila Gimbel, 10, right in Aquinnah, July 2014.

It was Tuesday, July 22, the last day of my brother and his kids’ visit before returning home to Germany. We had the good fortune to hire Emily, 22, the daughter of our friends Carrie Boretz and Ed Keating, as our family helper/babysitter for the nearly three weeks of their visit. At 2 pm, I would be picking Emily up at Great Rock Bight for her last afternoon with us. At 1:39 pm, I got the first of several calls from Emily. The poor cell reception made it difficult to understand what she was saying. What I was sure of was someone was stung by a bee and was having difficulty breathing. I told her I’d be right there and called 911 as soon as we hung up.

Emily Keating, lucky to be alive, enjoying being back at the beach, Chilmark, July 2014.

Photo by Ed Keating

Emily Keating, lucky to be alive, enjoying being back at the beach, Chilmark, July 2014.

The drive from our door to the Great Rock Bight parking area is about four to five minutes. When I arrived, Emily was sitting in the chair of Land Bank attendant Richard Gleason, clearly having an allergic reaction. A woman was holding her hand, talking to her to help her keep calm while she struggled with her breathing. I let everyone know that an ambulance was on its way, and Mr. Gleason confirmed he too had called 911. As we talked to Emily I took her other hand, learned she had ridden her bike, fallen into bushes, and then got stung on the hand by a bee. She immediately began to have difficulty breathing and did not know what was happening to her.

Time always has a funny way of slowing in emergency circumstances. As we waited and Emily continued to have more difficulty breathing, the blotches and redness covering her skin became more pronounced. Two people appeared on their way from the parking area to the beach path. A girl, dressed in a short wetsuit and carrying her boogie board, stopped with her friend to find out what was going on. The girl, allergic to peanuts it turned out, said she had an EpiPen in her beach bag. It was decided that Emily needed this, now. The girl’s friend asked if we wanted her to administer the EpiPen and everyone said, “Yes, please.” The girl said, “It doesn’t hurt. I promise.” The woman holding Emily’s left hand never let go and I held Emily’s head gently against my chest and I just kept talking softly telling her to hear own voice singing. Bam went the EpiPen into her thigh. Her eyes widened and her voice, still quiet and subdued, uttered, “That really hurt!”

Instantly her skin began calming, and her breathing became easier. I pulled a scrap of paper from my bag and wrote everyone’s names down except the attendant. Annie Colangeli was holding Emily’s hand. Lila, ready for the beach, was accompanied by family friend Caitlin Murphy visiting from Chapel Hill, and both were staying with Lila’s grandparents, Wendy Gimbel and Doug Liebhavsky in Chilmark.

The ambulance arrived, the police arrived, Chilmark Fire Chief David Norton arrived. Once everyone was up to speed, the EMT got a tank of oxygen and put Emily on a gurney to move her to the ambulance. Everything seemed to move in triple-time. Annie accompanied Emily the hospital so she would not be alone when she arrived. As soon as they closed the ambulance door, I hopped in my car and drove a quarter-mile down the road until I had a strong cell signal and then called Ed, her father.

At 6:30 pm, Ed called from the hospital to say she was stable. Another EpiPen had been needed, but they had to hold her for four hours because that’s how long the bee venom would be in her system. Ed explained that the doctor had told him that Emily was in distress and would not be alive if an EpiPen had not been administered at the scene. He told me, “I was allergic to bees as a kid.”

Ed was on his way to pick his wife up at the airport and return to the hospital. Emily had never been stung before and had no one had any idea she was allergic to bee stings. I spoke with Ed again later that night once he and Carrie had taken her home and put her to bed.

The following day I left a message on Wendy Gimbel’s answering machine, wanting to find out how Lila was related to her. When Wendy returned my call she said had not heard a word about this adventure from her 10 year-old granddaughter, Lila, or Lila’s 25 year-old friend and caretaker, Caitlin. She was not surprised by their actions and explained they have had a special friendship that has developed over the last few years.

Annie Colangeli lived on Martha’s Vineyard for 17 years and had just returned days earlier for a six-week visit. She told me she had a strong feeling she should go to Great Rock Bight beach that day. As she walked from her car in the upper lot, she came upon Emily visibly in distress and seated with Mr. Gleason. Emily complained to her about the rash and “itching in her ears and eyeballs.” Annie did breathing with Emily to calm her, and of course her cell phone did not get any reception.

It turned out when I spoke with Emily’s mom, Carrie, who had been in New York on business that day, that it was the anniversary of her father’s death and she herself had had a very frightening plane ride — her own near-death experience — before arriving in Boston and learning from her husband that their younger daughter had nearly died that very day. Everyone involved stayed calm, and clearly the stars were aligned so that it proved to be a life-saving day, still each person who had a hand in Emily’s well-being was a necessary piece in this life-event unfolding.

Kathy Cerick (left), husband Charles Fitzgerald (center) and daughter, Kate at their Chilmark Flea Market tent while daughter Liane helps customers with swimsuits under the white tent.

Valerie SonnenthalThis was the final week for my niece and nephew’s first Island visit, but on their last day we had a real scare when our babysitter was stung by a bee, a first for her, and she turned out to be allergic. Do not delay, call 911 if you have trouble breathing after a sting. Luckily everything turned out okay. We’ve had rain, stunning sunsets, Saturday night fireworks visible over the ocean and everywhere I go cars, cars, cars. I guess the real crowds arrive this week and we have nine days before President Obama and his family arrive. Keep enjoying summer.

I finally made it to the Chilmark Flea on a perfect Saturday and the first people I ran into were Kathy Cerick and her husband Charles Fitzgerald (owners for 27 years of Edgartown’s In the Woods store). They  are doing the Flea this summer with a mini-version of items they used to carry and are enjoying their daughters, Kate (a Yoga instructor and actress in New York City) on Island for a brief visit,  and Liane who was under the white tent next to theirs selling her line of Roy swimwear. The last time we ran into one another was in NYC. So glad they told me to try the Thai spring rolls for sale, a perfect lunch.

Congratulations to Thorpe Karabees, from Chilmark, invited to join the class of 2018 at University of Vermont’s Honor College. He went up to Vermont in June with his mom and younger brother for his orientation and looks forward to majoring in history. In the meantime Thorpe can be found working at Chilmark Chocolates.

The Chilmark Library will be busy with Felix Neck Director Suzan Bellincampi discussing her new book, “Martha’s Vineyard: A Field Guide to Island Nature,” Wednesday, July 30, 5 pm. The book is an updated version of “Moraine to Marsh,” a companion of Vineyard nature enthusiasts since 1988, written by Anne Hale, one of founders of Felix Neck. Next, Boston University Professor Cathy Utzschneider will talk about her book “Mastering Running – Run Your Best at Age 30 and Beyond,” a guide for runners and athletes of all ages on Wednesday, August 6, at 5 pm. For more information, call 508-645-3360.

Coming to Chilmark Community Center (CCC) Author Lecture Series are Andre Dubus III discussing “Dirty Love,” a collection of four novellas about love and betrayal set in a New England coastal town, Sunday, August 3, 7:30 pm. Ron Suskind will speak about “Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism,” detailing how he and his wife, Cornelia, turned their son Owen’s fixation on Disney movies into a remarkable journey to reach him and find a common language to express complex thought and emotions. Tickets available at CCC  (M-F, 9-12 only) and

Come and celebrate with sixty-year Chilmark resident Jules Worthington at his 30th anniversary exhibit of paintings at the bank (Santander), Friday, August. 1, 4–6 pm.

This week I picked up Turar Abakirov who needed a ride on Middle Road to his job at Chilmark Tavern. Turar last worked on the Island four summers ago and has since received his B.A. from the American University in Central Asia and is now pursuing an MA in Accounting at New York’s Pace University. He is looking for an accounting internship and is available immediately; if you or anyone you know can help, contact Turar at 646-920-4058 or

Put your dancing shoes on for “Pride, Not Prejudice,” an outdoor Tea Dance open to all ages celebrating 10 years of marriage equality in Massachusetts, Saturday, August 2, 4 – 10 pm. at The Yard. For more information,

Valerie SonnenthalGlorious days, fog, much-needed rain, clouds and perfect sunsets — besides enjoying fresh home-baked breads by my younger son, assorted new fish and shellfish for the visiting niece and nephew, blueberry everything at home and at the West Tisbury Church Blueberry Festival, sunset and dinner outside the Aquinnah Shop, exploring the beach, and each day filled with new wonder. So much to be grateful for this July!

Maybe you’ve seen the neon orange Chilmark Fire Department shirts? I did, on three different people in one evening. Fire Chief David Norton tells me for a donation you too can support our local Fire Department and may find some volunteer firefighters offering shirts off the back of the fire truck parked for sunset in the Menemsha Beach parking lot. If you miss them there, there’s always the Wednesday, August 6, Backyard Bash at the Community Center (CCC), 5–8 pm.

This week I got to talking with the ladies at Menemsha Fish Market and here’s what I learned: Ekaterine (Kate) Tchelidze, from Georgia (yes, the country) has returned for her third summer working with Stan Larsen. It is here where she met fellow American University student Erisa Rodra (second summer) from Albania. Erisa, majoring in Economics and Business Administration, has one more year, while Kate, majoring in Journalism and English, has one and a half years left until graduation from their university in Bulgaria. Kate hopes to intern at one of the Island papers this fall.

Bill Edison tells me that Lucas from London, aged 10, arrived for his second summer visit with his grandmother, and after practicing “rounders” on the other side of the pond, he got a hit and ran all the bases proclaiming, “I’ll be back next week.” My nephew Alex from Berlin enjoyed pinch-running in this week’s game and looks forward to playing when he returns next summer.

Popular Story Book Character Ladybug Girl, from the books by David Soman & Jacky Davis, visits the Chilmark Community Center with Kristin the Chilmark Library’s Children’s librarian on Monday, July 28, 11 am. Sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Library Association. Everyone is invited, not just campers .

One new easy way to support Island nonprofits is to do your online shopping through Tisbury Turkey. Go to and you will be supporting Friends of Family Planning through August 31.

A reminder to Riparian Owners of Tisbury Great Pond: the annual meeting will be held at 10 am, Saturday, July 26, at the Howes House in West Tisbury. Any questions please contact Ellen Sturgis,

Join host and executive producer Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and Charlayne Hunter-Gault for a joint benefit for MVVY 93.7 and Democracy Now! A catered Beach Plum Inn reception, 5–6:30 pm, precedes Amy’s 7 pm Katharine Cornell talk about “The Silenced Majority.” For tickets and info:

Next up at the Author Series at the CCC on Sunday, July 27, 7:30 pm, are The Beekman Boys (Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge), who gave up city life to become goat farmers in upstate N.Y.  Known from their hit TV show on the Cooking Channel, their new cookbook, “The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook”, is a trip through their farm’s year-round vegetable bounty.

On Thursday, July 31, a tribute to beloved Island resident Sheldon Hackney, a distinguished scholar of civil rights and social justice who died last year. Charlayne Hunter-Gault will moderate the evening and many contributing essayists for “Dixie Redux,” a series of essays honoring Hackney will be on hand to speak, followed by a reception.  Tickets are available, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, and Chilmark Community Center (Mon.–Fri., 9 am–12 noon only).

Got Chilmark news? Contact Valerie here.

Valerie SonnenthalOh my, summer is making my head spin! Stopped at Chilmark’s Norris Garden and Brookside Farm open to the public for The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program last Friday. What a treat! I’ve taken my niece and nephew to Menemsha beach for afternoons, done the Flying Horses. My nephew played in Sunday’s All-Star softball game, stopped by Cinema Circus with my niece, and that’s only the half of it. My husband hoisted an American flag over Flanders Field last Friday morning only to have it go missing by 4 p.m. Please return the US flag, no questions asked!

Menemsha Market may be small but has a great selection of necessities plus gluten-free home-baked blueberry cake and chocolate cake, both delicious. Open daily from 11 -7 p.m.

If you missed Linda Thompson’s reception you can still catch her show at Santander Bank through Thursday, July 17th.

This year’s great MVFF Interns include: Adrienne Caminer, University of Colorado Film Studies BFA and Art History MA grad, helped in development of the Boulder Queer Youth Film Project; Chandler Cook, pursuing a BFA in Film production, design and visual communication from Lesley University College of Art and Design, owner and Creative Director of XC Productions and Designs; Brigid Igoe, BFA in Film Production from The University of Colorado, Producer of “Bill the Galactic Hero” scheduled for release in Dec. 2014; Nora Kroopf, studying film at Colorado College, Director of Best Documentary at the 2013 Laguna Beach Film Festival; and Sascha Oswald, majoring in Media Studies at the University of Virginia and senior advertising associate at the Cavalier Daily. For the full schedule of weekly offerings go to

Lots going on at Chilmark Library, foodies check out Green Island Farm founder Susie Middleton’s Book Talk: Fresh From The Farm Wednesday, July 16 at 5 p.m. On Wednesday, July 23rd at 5 p.m., co-founders of Revive & Restore, Stewart Brand (founder/editor of the Whole Earth Catalog) and Ryan Phelan, will talk about the science of de-extinction, reviving the Woolly Mammoth, and how genomic technology could bring the Heath Hen back to Martha’s Vineyard. For more info: 508-645-3360

Join Kara Taylor for her next gallery opening, “Hull,” on Sunday, July 20th from 5 – 8 p.m. Otherwise stop by anytime Tuesdays – Sundays 2 -5 p.m. For more info: 508-332-8171.

Come to Roberta Kirn’s Community Sing at The Yard on Tuesday, July 22nd, from 5- 6 p.m. and if you are interested you can also participate in her first “spontaneous, improvised, vocal rhythm circle” at Built on Stilts between August 16 – 19th. For more info:

Ward Just will be interviewed by Paul Schneider on Thursday, July 24, 7:30 pm about his new novel “American Romantic” to kick off the Summer Lecture Series. For tickets: or the Chilmark Community Center (M-F, 9-12 only). All books purchased in advance will be available for pick up at the Chilmark Community Center on the evening of the event. Ticket prices: 1 book & 1 ticket $30; 1 book & 2 tickets $40; 1 ticket $15. Visit for further information.

Try to remember the heroes in our daily lives; they are many unsung among us who deserve thanks for our well-being! If you are interested in becoming an EMT ( or firefighter ( or for either, call 508-693-4992, please get in touch. Tribal members receive free EMT training.

Valerie SonnenthalJuly 4th took us to the Home Port for dinner now that Josh Aronie is cooking. We were greeted by hostess Truda Silberstein, a former classmate of my older son; we hope you have a wonderful summer and final year at Bard. Too many good choices on the menu, all our dinners were done to perfection and we enjoyed our front row seat for Arthur.

See B. Martin Wlodyka’s recent paintings at the Santander Bank through noon on Friday, July 11th. Anyone interested in making an appointment with the artist can call 508-332-4096.

Primo Lombardi returns for his 8th summer offering Yoga at Chilmark Church’s community room in the back on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:15 -10:30 a.m., $15 includes mats, blankets, blocks, etc.

Also Tuesdays at 8 p.m., Vineyard Sound performs at Chilmark Church. Some people have asked about the missing cross on the top of the steeple. Due to Hurricane Sandy bending it, repairs will begin in the fall and any donations would be most welcome.  (Chilmark Church, 9 Menemsha Crossroad, 02535).

Come to this week’s MVFF Wednesday, July 9th, dinner by Chris Fischer at 6 p.m. with Emmy Award-winning independent documentary filmmaker, as well as cofounder and president of Moxie Firecracker Films Rory Kennedy; then watch her latest documentary, “Last Days in Vietnam.” For more info

Noted Harvard Law Professor and Chilmark summer resident Alan Dershowitz will discuss his memoir “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law” on Wednesday, July 9 at 5:00 p.m.  On Thursday, July 10th, come hear the Jim Thomas Spirituals Choir present the U.S. Slave Song Project. These free events, held at the Chilmark Library, are sponsored by the Friends of the Chilmark Public Library. 508-645-3360.

Enjoy a farm tour at Grey Barn, offered Friday mornings at 10:30 a.m. (about one hour) $5 per adult and kids free. 508-645-4854.

Native Earth Teaching Farm is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 – 6 p.m., Come between 10-10:30 to help feed and collect eggs, after that for animal visits, spinning demonstrations, and consults. Admission is $5/person or $10/family. Ask about their ‘chore of the day’ for 1/2 price admission. 508-645-3304.

Join Chilmark summer resident Ellen Liman at her opening of new paintings, At The Beach: Vineyard People and Places, on Saturday, July 12th, at the newly refurbished Vineyard Playhouse Art Space in the Marilyn Meyerhoff Lobby from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

It’s the 50th All-Star Chilmark Softball Game, Sunday, July 13th, 8 a.m. Commissioner Bill Edison says shoeless Jason Balaban cannot be outdone at 3rd base for his spectacular fielding. Jason admits his “prowess is due to his daughter, Sophie’s lemonade;” for sale along with cookies graciously donated by Menemsha Market.

My heart goes out to the friends and family of Alexandro Garcia, 22, of Springfield for the loss they must accept and learn to live with. Equally my heart goes out to the driver and two passengers of the pick-up truck who must go on living their lives while they adjust to living with this darkness. I hope signs, like the one in front of Mermaid Farm that read, “Drive like your children live here,” will help drivers slow down and everyone using the roads to stop at the STOP signs, wear reflective gear in the dark and to mind the rules. Be safe, be mindful and enjoy summer.

Valerie SonnenthalGetting home after my 6-day MELT Method Teacher Training in New York City, my husband drove us straight from the airport to the Chilmark General Store where I ran into Grace Culley Adamson enjoying a few moments of peace sitting on the porch while her son, River, 10 months old, sat below her contented. This is River’s first summer on the Vineyard, and I am sure his grandparents Dr. Greg and Donna Culley are thrilled to have Grace and River home for a month. Grace and her family are moving from Washington, D.C., to Burlington, Vermont, where she will begin medical school in the fall. Is this 38-year-old mother crazy? I think not, and we wish her much success!

Jennifer LoRusso says Chilmark General Store is “so grateful to have all of them back for the season!” Welcome back Carl (pizza maker), Zrinka (counter server), Jesse (counter server), Francois (dish washer), Natalia Cucu (sandwich maker), Madison (cashier), Noah (stock person), Duane (line cook), Champagne (line cook), and David (pizza cook).

At last week’s Tuesday circle time, outgoing chair of the Chilmark School PTO Katie Carroll was honored for her nine years of service with flowers, a basket of cards and by Susan Siegel Goldsmith, who gave a short speech thanking Katie and acknowledging that she would have big shoes to fill in taking over her role. The PTO plans to purchase a bench with Katie’s name on it for the school grounds. I hear it was a very moving experience and Katie was very touched.

This is my first summer registering kids, my niece and nephew, for the CCC summer program. All the ladies working were CCC kids once upon a time, registration went smoothly, and everyone couldn’t have been kinder. I look forward to a summer of making new roots for myself and extended family in what seems to be the heart of Chilmark in the summer. And if you want to know CCC’s history check out the DVD Barefoot in Beetlebung from our town library; you’ll be glad you did.

The MVFF Dinner and A Movie on Wednesday nights at the CCC have started. Come and relax on the lawn or sit at a picnic table, listen to live music, and enjoy dinner prepared by Marvin Jones and Deon Thomas available at 7 p,m, followed by an 8 pm screening of “Divide in Concord,” a documentary about banning single-serve plastic water bottles. Enjoy meeting director Kris Kaczor and film subjects Jean Hill, Jim Crosby, Jill Appel, and Janet Rothrock. For more info, go to

Pasture Road Softball Season got off to a great start and even made the Boston Globe thanks to reporter Mark Shanahan and photographer Peter Simon. So if you want to know the names I didn’t drop, check Commissioner Bill Edison tells me he caught Paul Iantosca filling in holes behind home plate and has promoted Paul to Head Groundskeeper. Come start your 4th of July holiday off with a game of softball at Flanders Field and join in for this special 9 am game. All are welcome and bagpiper Tony Peak is expected to play before the game starts!

Have a safe and Happy July 4th!

Got Chilmark news? Contact Valerie Sonnenthal here.