West Tisbury: Most of us are watching too much news

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Was it only a couple of weeks ago I wrote about joking around with John Alley over something we had both written in our columns? I still can’t believe that John died last week. He was one of our selectmen when I met him, an active member of the West Tisbury Church, and represented West Tisbury on practically every committee he was asked to join. His sense of humor and endless supply of stories relevant to any occasion or subject always amazed and entertained me. To say that John’s presence was ubiquitous was an understatement.

I am grateful for Stan Murphy’s portrait in town hall of John in his top hat posing with fellow selectmen at the time. I am grateful for John’s weekly West Tisbury columns in the Vineyard Gazette, which were a running story of life in town, and always included a bit of local history. John’s knowledge of the history of our town was unparalleled. I always told him he should write a book, and am grateful that at least we have his columns.

We have all grown old together, me along with the many people I met when I moved here. Over the years, we have faced losing one another, and will continue to do so. It’s still hard.

Another person we lost was Rosalie Powell, who died the week before. Rosalie always laughed as she told her favorite joke, “I’m a hooker.” She made the most fabulous hooked rugs, and shared that skill with many others who took her classes. Her home was filled with her warmth and examples of her many talents. It always smelled delicious. She felt enormous pride in the large, sunny craft room she added onto her house. 

For many years it was the Bayberry Inn, and everyone who stayed there loved it and couldn’t wait to come back. Her son, Jim, is living there now. He moved back to take care of his mom. My condolences to her sons, Jim and Ted, her sister Bernice, all of her family, and especially to her great-grandchildren; she adored having Shannon and Dan’s little girls close by.

Most of us are watching too much news, constantly checking for coronavirus updates, reading the newspaper, checking websites for the latest news. I’m finding it so hard to stay away from the TV and the computer. Almost everything is closed down, and we are all urged to stay at home. As the first confirmed case was found on the Island, it feels even more imperative.

The most fascinating thing I saw was an interactive map on the March 20 New York Times website in the story “Coronavirus Could Overwhelm U.S. Without Urgent Action, Estimates Say.” It showed the spread of the virus in every county in the continental U.S., with variations depending on whether there were no, some, or severe measures taken. For Dukes County, the chart showed that cases could be expected to appear at an almost flat <100 through the summer if severe measures were taken, or spike sharply at approximately 13,000 if no attempt was made to control it, in that case peaking between mid-May and late June.

Another interesting thing I spotted was the number of patterns/directions for making CDC-compliant face masks, much needed at almost every hospital. Jan Paul, owner of the Heath Hen, had sent out an email with her directions, then followed up with a link to a Facebook site, deaconess.com/masks. I’m sure there are others, and YouTube tutorials.

Omar Johnson, Health Agent in West Tisbury, has been working with Boards of Health in the other island towns to coordinate information and advice to all island residents. Besides staying at home and practicing infection control measures, West Tisbury

The West Tisbury library has a number of virtual online events, and access to ebooks, audiobooks, and movie streaming services. Visit the Digital Universe page on the library website, westtisburylibrary.org. Email any questions to wt_mail@clamsnet.org

A video of Kanta Lipsky’s weekly balance class is on MVTV’s website: bit.ly/BalanceClass

There are plans and an invitation to a virtual book club on Zoom that Dee Leopold is putting together. The book she has chosen is “Emma” by Jane Austen. If you are interested, email Dee at dleopold@clamsnet.org. Moira Silva is doing an online memoir class, also on Zoom, scheduled to begin on April 1. Signup is required. Email ogately@clamsnet.org. Our new children’s librarian, Mikaela Lawson, will do a series of online storytimes. Check the library’s website or Facebook for dates and times.

Outside my windows, our woods continue to progress toward spring. It seems so early this year. Daffodils and forsythia are blooming in protected, sunny spots, about three weeks earlier than usual. I have actually done some yardwork. Raking leaves, weeding, planting a pot of pansies outside were all pleasant jobs. I uncovered the first of my blue windflowers, a gift from Ruth Kirchmeier several years ago, that pop up in different spots from year to year.

I have cut some forsythia branches to force inside. They only took a couple of days. After the forsythia, I can bring in quince branches, cherries, dogwoods, and magnolias. I will likely miss seeing the Olsens’ magnificent star magnolia that blooms so early along State Road; I won’t be taking many outings.