Posted March 2, 2006

By Gail Craig - 508-627-3754 - gail@vineyard.net

After two exciting weeks, the 2006 Winter Olympics have come to a close. I have mixed emotions about it. On the one hand, I'm quite sad. On the other hand, I am looking forward to getting more sleep. The 1972 Summer Olympics are the first I remember watching, while the 1976 Olympics were the first to make a lasting impression. This year's games were the first that I ever really wished I'd attended. The city of Turin looked absolutely gorgeous. There were stunning upsets. Favored athletes often did not even make it to the medals podium.

Japan received its first gold medal in figure skating ever, thanks to a beautiful performance by Shizuka Arakawa. Italy received the most medals they'd ever won in a winter Olympics, on their home turf, and the United States had its best winter games on foreign soil, coming in second to Germany in the overall medal count.

I always have a favorite athlete when the games come to a close. Some are just amazing to watch. Some really represent the honor of an Olympian. Some overcome hard times or misfortune just to get to the games, victorious even if they don't receive a medal.

This year, I have found it hard to choose. I have thoroughly enjoyed Shaun White, "The Flying Tomato" who won the gold in the half pipe competition. And I have gained a new-found respect for Apolo Anton Ohno, the short-track speed skater. But I think my favorite competitor this year was Joey Cheek, a speed skater who won gold and silver medals and donated his $40,000 winnings to Right To Play, an athlete-driven international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play as a tool for the development of children and youth in the most disadvantaged areas of the world. As Cheek is going on to college from here, preferably an Ivy League school, he most certainly could have used that money. Instead, he donated it to an important cause and that to me embodies a true Olympian.

I'm sure you've all been anxious to read the latest on "Chester the Dog", as he has lovingly been dubbed in our house. He's still here! He has reached a comfortable truce with Wagger. I even found them both sleeping on the couch the other night. He and Roxie do well, though Roxie seems a bit sad at having lost some extra attention and more importantly, all the leftover food. Emma is still in self-imposed exile, but possibly warming up. She did come down from a tree the other day much sooner than any of us anticipated. We thought that was a good sign.

Every day, when I pick up Riley at school, he runs into my arms, gives me a big hug, looks up into my face and earnestly asks "Do we still have Chester?" When I say yes, he yells with joy and we head off down the hall.

Yesterday, when Jamie was heading out with the kids and Amelia went to open the door, we told her not to open it anymore because Chester will escape (he's a fast little bugger). Amelia's response was, "it's okay. When we take Chester back to the MSPCA I can open the door again." Perhaps we've prepared our kids a little to well for the possibility of failure here. But for now, we're still moving forward.

In 1952, Phil Craig was an extra in the film "Viva Zapata", starring Marlon Brando. Phil and a number of classmates donned sombreros and charged the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge train, and though he watched the movie back then, he never did really get to see himself on film. All that changed last week, courtesy of Phil's kids, Kim and James, who valiantly tracked down a copy of the film on eBay for a Christmas present. Some 50 years later, Phil finally saw himself on film, recognizing his bent sombrero brim and rather significant stature descending the mountainside. James was able to capture the scene in a still, doctor it up a bit with his computer, and memorialize it forever in a picture for his dad.

Congratulations to the Martha's Vineyard Girls Youth Hockey (Under 14) team who recently traveled to Walpole and made history, winning 7-3. This was the first playoff win by any Vineyard girls' team ever. The team is proud to be represented by four outstanding Edgartown girls: 8th grader Phoebe Kelleher, who scored four goals, and 6th graders Celia Mercier, who scored 1 goal, Lily Gazaille, and Elizabeth Kelleher. These girls started out playing youth hockey 6 years ago and had to endure years of being coached by fathers Phil Mercier and Jim Kelleher. The girls' team will move on to the championship game against the Rhode Island Panthers on March 18 at 2:10 pm at the MV Arena.

Mark Hess recently returned from a two-week golfing trip to Palm Springs with Jack Mettler and Tony Meyer. Mark said he had a great time, but I'm guessing, - speaking as a wife, mind you - that he may now pay dearly for that little extravaganza. Or at least he should. Welcome home, Mark!

I'm very happy to report that the Joint Action Committee has succeeded in developing a revised plan for the library expansion project. A drawing of the proposed expansion is on display at the Edgartown Library and presentations will be made to various boards, as well as the public, in the near future. Stay tuned here for the dates so that you can learn more about this exciting project.

That's it. Have a great week. Happy and safe travels to all those returning to the Vineyard in the next few days.