West Tisbury: Unexpected Spring Cleaning


I don’t know what got into me. Mike was off at a fire department drill for the day, so I had the house to myself. I planned to read my Sunday New York Times, do the crossword puzzle, drink tea, write my column.

Instead, I decided to clean out the cooking utensil drawer in my kitchen. It had been bugging me lately, so disorganized I couldn’t find anything. After emptying it out and washing the inside, I went to get the vacuum cleaner to make sure every last bit of dust was out of the corners. While I had the vacuum out, I decided to vacuum the kitchen, then the living room. By then, I might as well do the rest of the house. And once I went upstairs, I might as well change the sheets on our bed, clean the bathroom, and gather up all the laundry to take down to the basement. In went the first load.

Back up to the kitchen to finish relining and reorganizing the drawer. Then clean the stove, take out the newspapers, compost, and trash. When I went down to the cellar to put the clean wash into the dryer and start a second load, I decided to clean the basement, since I was already down there. Might as well sweep down the stairs.

I forgot to mention running vinegar through the coffee pot, taking down the shower curtain to wash, hanging up things that I don’t put in the dryer, sweeping off the porches and brick walk. I wanted a cup of tea but had to finish cleaning the stove before I could use it. Meanwhile, it had started to rain, and the house was feeling chilly, so out to the wood pile to bring in wood and start the woodstove.

It’s 3 o’clock now. I have just sat down with my cup of tea and the as-yet-unread newspaper, looking across the living room and thinking it doesn’t look all that different. And I haven’t even thought about my column yet.

I don’t know what’s gotten into Nelson either. I can hear him in the bathtub playing with plastic balls with bells inside. He’s batting them from one end to the other, up the sides of the tub, sometimes shooting a ball over the edge where it skitters across the floor or out into the hallway. Then I hear him crashing over the side of the bathtub chasing after his errant toys.

I learned about this amusement from Bea Phear. She put the same little balls into her bathtub for Pipit and Phoebe when they were kittens. “Pipit loved billiards in the bathtub,” said Bea, “but Phoebe wasn’t interested at all.” Thankfully, Nelson loves to play “billiards in the bathtub,” and will amuse himself until I come in and play with him for a while, tossing the ball back and forth as fast as it will go. He will sit and wait for me to throw it back to him. I have been grateful for this game, as Nelson has been housebound for the past few weeks. Any distraction is appreciated for a cat who is accustomed to going outdoors and doesn’t hesitate to complain loudly at the misery he is being subjected to.

I had called Bea to check on some details for this story and learned that she had just returned from a week in Paris. She went with a bridge-playing friend, Sue Collinson. They visited several museums and walked a lot through streets lined with “beautifully harmonious cream-colored five-story buildings,” Bea’s description, and ate the most wonderful food. They also played bridge with a local group. It was nice to hear about her time in beautiful Paris.

While all this was going on at home, Mike and several members of the West Tisbury Fire Department were at the West Tisbury School at a tanker shuttle drill planned by Eric Medeiros. Five Island fire departments participated.

A group of officers went to Pennsylvania this weekend to check on the progress of our new fire truck. It is expected to arrive sometime this summer.

Happy belated birthday wishes to Coo and Donna Cavallo. Their birthdays are April 26 and 27, so they get to celebrate together.

If you drive by Charlie and Stevie Kernick’s house, take a look at the salmon-colored tulips planted in the Old County Road side of their yard. They are absolutely gorgeous.

The first annual MV Mini Maker Faire is this Saturday, May 7, 10 am to 4 pm, at the Ag Hall. Admission is free.

Also on Saturday, there will be a 5K Fun Run to raise awareness and money for breast cancer support. All money raised will go directly to the Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Support Group. Stop into Rosewater Market in Edgartown and ask for Julia Celeste, or go to bit.ly/runcanceroutoftown to sign up.

Portrait painter Elizabeth Whelan is May’s artist of the month at the West Tisbury library. Some familiar subjects are Will Luckey, Jennifer Pilsworth, Beth Kramer, Andrea Rogers, and Cynthia Riggs Attebery. The artist will be at a reception on Friday, May 6, from 4 to 5 pm.

Lynn Christoffers will be at the library this Sunday afternoon between 2 and 4, taking free photographic portraits of all mothers in honor of Mother’s Day.

Keith Zaltzberg will be at the library on Wednesday, May 11, to give a presentation and lead a discussion on “Permaculture: Designs for Restoration and Renewal.” The program is sponsored by the FARM Institute with support from the Edey Foundation. It’s free and begins at 7 pm.

The first time I visited Sophie Block at her home on Music Street, I was enchanted by the tapestry of violets that covered much of her lawn. I have always loved gardens with their own personality, and the natural exuberance of tangled shrubbery and flowers that spread out wherever the wind blows their seeds, or underground runners meander along. Looking out at the swaths of purple and white violets, blue ajuga and myrtle, that have colonized my lawn, I feel happy remembering Sophie’s garden and my Aunt Janice’s, of similar aspect. My husband sees an infestation of weeds where I see nature at her prettiest.