The Year That Was: Everything Else

There was much more to my 2012 than politics. How do politics and “everything else” fit together? Here’s hoping 2013 offers some clues.


Trav and I took several trips off-island, including four for Rally Obedience trials and one for Camp N Pack. In early November, at our last trial of the year, Trav finished his Level 3 title — a major accomplishment for both of us. He’s now ARCHX Masasyu’s Fellow Traveller, RL3, RL2X, P-CRO-III, RA, CGC.

Trav with his loot, the weekend he finished his ARCHX title

Trav with his loot, the weekend he finished his ARCHX title

He’s also Mr. January in Lisa Vanderhoop’s Vineyard Seadogs calendar. Where do we go from here? Not sure. Competing off-island is expensive, we’ve met most of our goals, and thanks to the pettiness of my town’s Parks & Rec committee (see my January 7 post for more info), we have no secure place to train off-leash. I’d like to try for the ARCHEX title, which requires 10 double Qs (qualifying runs) in both Level 2 and Level 3 at the same trial, but the expense involved is daunting. Our more immediate goal is to finish CRO (Cyber Rally-O) Level IV — only one leg to go — and start working on Level V, CRO’s top level.

Little Ducky

Mama and Little Ducky

Mama and Little Ducky

Little Ducky hatched in May while my neighbors were away and I was looking after their menagerie — four hens, two ducks, two cats, and one dog — and died before my neighbors returned. First Mama Duck disappeared. Since no sign of a kill was visible on the ground, we suspect hawks. Little Ducky reappeared, but being so small and so unprotected didn’t have much of a chance. I found his/her little body on the lawn a day later. Being a witness to the short life of Little Ducky was 2012’s unexpected gift.

Sing Sing Sing

I’m not a musician, but music is part of my life, and I love to sing with other people.

I joined Jim Thomas’s Spirituals Choir this year. I blogged about our Union Chapel concert in July. By the end of its all-too-brief season in August, I knew most of the repertoire. Can’t wait for Jim’s return in the spring.

Director Jim Thomas talks about spirituals at our Union Chapel concert in July. That's me in purple next to the pillar. Photo by Adrianne Ryan.

Director Jim Thomas talks about spirituals at our Union Chapel concert in July. That’s me in purple next to the pillar. Photo by Adrianne Ryan.

Singing together builds community. Local musician, singer, and dancer Roberta Kirn leads monthly drop-in community sings at the charter school. If I’m not otherwise occupied, I’m there. For the last several years we’ve done a winter concert, “Songs of Peace, Hope & Light,” at the M.V. Hebrew Center. One of the songs we prepared was Holly Near’s “I Am Willing.” In the wake of the school shooting at Newtown, Connecticut, two days before  the concert, the song and the singing took on special significance and poignance. The Jasny family made a video and presented it to the people of Newtown. Here’s the link. Roberta teaches the chorus to the audience first. The song begins at about 3:00.

ape woman

Musical community needs places to ferment, and Martha’s Vineyard had been seriously short of such places for years when the Pit Stop officially opened last February. Wonderful things have happened there, and possibly the most wonderful was the world premiere in August of May Oskan’s “rock opera,” The Ape Woman. Unfortunately, with the advent of 2013 the Pit Stop’s future as a grassroots music venue looks very uncertain. Living on Martha’s Vineyard is one long lesson in “You’ve got what you’ve got as long as you’ve got it.” Pace Joni Mitchell, we know what we’ve got before it’s gone, but with economic realities, especially the cost of real estate, in the driver’s seat, there’s not much we can do about it.

The Year That Is

How to make sense of all this, the gains and the losses, the nagging feeling that either I know too much or I don’t know enough?

2012 was a terrible year for so many people, but it was also a year of people coming together and raising power in all sorts of ways: electing Elizabeth Warren to the U.S. Senate, creating The Ape Woman live onstage . . .

I come back, as I have so often in the past, to the last six lines of Adrienne Rich’s “Natural Resources” (1977):

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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4 Responses to The Year That Was: Everything Else

  1. mnheyjo says:

    what a wonderful gift for the people of Newtown. music has powers to heal, communicate, and build community in ways that plain speech does not. Holly Near performed at St. Olaf while i was there, and i was struck then by her lyrics; the ones in this song are just as powerful.
    Travvy has had a wonderful year! it’s going to be a challenge to keep him busy and challenged. he’s a dog who needs a job, and he seems to love competition. of course, this Mr. January thing may lead to a career as a professional model, and he may be able to support you for a change!


  2. Betty Burton says:

    Is it possible to work with Mr T at the dog park in OB? It is open, but you might have to drag a lot of equipment there. It is really only busy in the am and afternoon.


    • What we need is a securely fenced area. I do a little off-leash work with Trav in wide-open areas, but the thought is always at the back of my mind that he could be gone in an instant and he might kill chickens before he comes back. Also our training sessions are usually 5-10 minutes long so close by is important. Distractions are actually helpful. One advantage to the tennis court is that there are often kids playing on the field nearby, cars coming and going in the parking lot, etc.


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