Women March

As the plans for the Women’s March on Washington began to coalesce shortly after the election, I kept the whole thing at arm’s length: It’s a huge diversion of energy from the work we have to do. Let’s wait till he does something really outrageous. Oh god, one more thing for feminists and progressives to trash each other about.

And, of course, “been there, done that.” I lived in DC during some of the biggest antiwar marches of the late 1960s and early 1970s. I marched, I marshalled, and/or I was involved in housing and feeding demonstrators coming into town from elsewhere. I marched for the ERA in 1978 and for gay and lesbian rights in 1979. I think my most recent big march was the 1993 national march for lesbian and gay rights. It was huge. I was living on Martha’s Vineyard by then, so this was one of the few mass demonstrations that I had to travel to.

The following weeks kindled my enthusiasm. The Trump administration was shaping up to be every bit as bad as we’d imagined, and in some ways we hadn’t considered. Planning for the D.C. march metastasized into planning for marches and actions across the country and around the world.

flyer-englishMaybe most decisive, in mid-November I attended “We Stand Together / Estamos Juntos,” a rally in Waban Park. Trump’s election, it turned out, had catalyzed an organizing effort right here on Martha’s Vineyard, and it was already having practical results. This was new. And like the prayer vigil I attended in July and the march in support of Black Lives Matter that followed a few days later, it drew in people who hadn’t been publicly involved before, or not for a long time.

I remembered being an 18-year-old college freshman, standing on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, on November 15, 1969, with my yellow marshal’s armband on, watching a million people come pouring down the avenue from the Capitol, heading for the White House. It took my breath away the way the ocean takes my breath away. This is what “we the people” looks like.

Me and my pussyhat

Me and my pussyhat

So almost against my will, the determination, the optimism, sucked me further and further in. I followed the emerging plans for a march in Boston. The logistics of getting to Washington were too daunting. Boston could be done in a day. Travvy could stay home alone. On Thursday my neighbor gave me my very own pussyhat. She and her two daughters were leaving for D.C. in the morning.

So yesterday morning I got up at 5. Trav and I went for our usual walk, but in the total pitch-dark. When he started pulling at the leash on the bike path, I hoped there wasn’t a skunk up ahead: If you get skunked, I thought, you’re going to stink all day, but if I get skunked I can’t go to the march.

Neither of us got skunked. I did realize that I need a stronger flashlight.

About 6:40 am, I parked Malvina Forester on Spring Street. Walking down to the ferry terminal I saw several telltale bumper stickers. I wondered if they were going to the march.

Several people waiting in line for boat tickets had signs leaning against their legs and buttons on their jackets. I saw several people I knew.

The 7 am boat was packed with people I knew. So was the 8:05 bus, for which I was very happy to have made a reservation.

I didn’t have a reservation for the march itself, however. Participants were urged to register to help organizers estimate the turnout. I tried, but the process was at least as cumbersome as buying something online and it wasn’t required so I bailed. Besides, the idea of registering for a demonstration stuck in my old-school craw.

Whatever the reason, loads of people didn’t register. Everywhere the turnout seems to have far, far exceeded expectations. DailyKos is keeping track of the numbers as they come in. As I write, the estimate stands around 3.5 million worldwide. Check it out, and notice the incredible range of places where marches and demonstrations took place.

Last I looked, the Boston estimate was 175,000. I believe it. Boston Common wasn’t quite wall-to-wall people, but it came pretty close. It took so long for the throngs to funnel into the beginning of the march route that many of us — including the group I was with — never actually marched. Go online and check out the photos from the various demos. Read some of the signs. The whole thing is amazing.

Neither my digital camera nor my Flip camcorder was working, sad to say. They both got dunked in overflow water from a potted plant. The Flip has recovered. The camera is showing some signs of life but isn’t working yet.

Well, the upshot is that I came home exhilarated and, believe it or not, hopeful about the years to come. Much of my pessimism about the just-commenced Reign of Trump stems from my deep-seated fears that “the left” — basically anyone who’s disgusted by what the Republicans have become in the last three decades — will not be able to get it together to mitigate and undo the damage done and to start moving forward again. So why am I more optimistic now?

  • The Women’s March on Everywhere was a huge undertaking. It came together in a relatively short period of time: barely two months. This was the result of goddamn hard work from the bottom up and the top down. Everything from getting permits to organizing buses and mounting and updating websites to keep people informed. Many people were doing this work for the first time, learning by the seat of their pants, working with people they’d never worked with before. This bodes very well for the future.
  • The Boston march was more multi-generational than anything I’ve been to before. Stories got shared, of organizing and activism across movements and decades. People of all ages were going to their very first demo. The first one is usually the scariest. When you don’t know what to expect, the what-ifs can be overwhelming. If you’ve done it once, it’s easier to do it again.
  • Seeing each other in person, in the flesh, is as exhilarating as it was when 18-year-old me watched all that humanity pouring down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1969. Social media and online communication are wonderful, but there’s nothing like being physically present to each other. One thing I loved: We were pressed shoulder to shoulder all over Boston Common, but when people had to get through, as they often did, the crowd made way, sort of like the Red Sea.
  • This is what democracy looks like. #StrongerTogether. Watching the Trump administration roll into office, acting as if it had a real mandate for its terrible agenda, has made me fear that maybe they do have a mandate for their terrible agenda. Now I know in my heart that they don’t.

I’ve been hearing a lot of gloom-and-doomery lately, mostly from white guys. “Democracy is dead” they cry at every outrageous act of the Trump transition team, the Trump administration, and the congressional GOP. “Only if they get away with it,” I’ve been saying, secretly fearing that they will get away with it because we can’t muster the will and the strength to stop them. Now I know better.

#StrongerTogether

Yes we can.

 

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Office Hours

se-mass-mapGetting around the Barnstable Dukes Nantucket house district is a challenge. If you don’t live here, or even if you do, check out the map.

Barnstable Dukes Nantucket comprises Nantucket County (surprise!); the County of Dukes County (no kidding, that’s its official name; this is Martha’s Vineyard plus the string of islands southwest of Woods Hole, which do not contain many voters); and the sliver of Barnstable County that stretches up the west side of that peninsula with Woods Hole at the end of it. That sliver, including Woods Hole, is part, but not all, of Falmouth.

Yes, the three parts of the district look close together from the air, but if you’re on the ground you can’t help noticing that there are no roads between them. If you’re well-heeled or in a big hurry you can fly from one to another. Most of us take the boat.

Our new state representative, Dylan Fernandes, lives in Falmouth but is no stranger to the islands. In December, midway between the election and his swearing-in on January 4, he made a “listening tour” of the whole district. His two Vineyard stops were at the Chilmark library and the Oak Bluffs library. This past Saturday he came over to hold office hours at the West Tisbury library. (Have I said lately how indispensable the town libraries are to the community life of this island?)

I think of “office hours” as generally a one-to-one thing, especially where elected officials are concerned: individuals or small groups come to make a case, ask questions, present a problem, and generally make themselves known to the person who’s representing their interests. I didn’t have a case to make, a question to ask, or a problem to present, and since I worked on his campaign, I’d already met Dylan, but I figured I’d go anyway, to say hi and see what was up.

Dylan Fernandes (left) and Kaylea Moore hold office hours at the West Tisbury library.

Dylan Fernandes (left) and Kaylea Moore hold office hours at the West Tisbury library.

Several of us sat around the table in one of the library’s downstairs conference rooms with Dylan and Vineyard legislative liaison Kaylea Moore. (When the representative from Barnstable Dukes Nantucket doesn’t live on the Vineyard, which has been the case ever since the Vineyard lost its own representative when the state house of representatives was reduced in size from 240 to 160 in the late 1970s, he — so far it’s always been a he — generally hires a part-time legislative liaison who lives on the island and helps him keep in touch.) It was, in a word, educational. Here’s a sampling of what came up.

Nip bottles. Those one-shot hard-liquor bottles that are so visible in roadside trash because they make it easy to drink while driving and even easier to toss out the window when you’re done. Beer and soda containers are relatively rare because the 5¢ deposit required since the commonwealth passed its bottle bill in 1976 makes them worth hanging on to or worth picking up. The liquor industry, including retailers, is of course dead set against expanding the bottle bill to include nips or anything else. This discussion also touched on the risks one takes when one becomes identified with a cause on the Vineyard, or anywhere else.

See what I mean? Nip bottles weren’t on my political radar at all, even though I see some every day by the side of the road, but two key points came up in the brief discussion: (1) Powerful interests line up against even the most modest change if they think it threatens them; and (2) Sticking your neck out is risky in a small town or neighborhood where everyone’s got their eye on everyone else.

This came up again when the talk turned to affordable housing, a bedrock issue across the district. Making more affordable housing available takes money, lots of it. Attempts to raise the funds by creating a housing bank or by including housing in such existing agencies as the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank inevitably run into vociferous and well-funded opposition from the real estate industry. They’ve been blocking efforts on Nantucket even though the Nantucket proposal would only affect houses that go for more than $2 million.

Impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act or parts of it. The general feeling was that Massachusetts is relatively well positioned to deal with it because it hasn’t participated in the insurance exchanges that have been problematic in other states.

Ticks and tick-borne diseases. I already knew that proposals have been made to add a two-week shotgun deer season in January. Deer-hunting season runs from November 1 through December 31, but the part of it that keeps me out of the woods is the almost-two-week shotgun season that begins the Monday after Thanksgiving. I’ve been somewhat skeptical of plans to extend the hunting season in the name of curbing Lyme and other tick diseases because, well, because gun lobby, but at the same time — having had my first deer-car collision this past October I’m edging toward the notion that reducing the island’s deer herd isn’t a bad idea.

A particularly dangerous stretch of road in West Tisbury that has gone undealt-with for years (like about a decade), apparently because the state Department of Transportation can’t decide whether the brook crossing involved is a bridge or a culvert. Whatever it is was designed more than a century ago for horses and buggies. The traffic using it now is considerably wider and faster and more than it was then.

State money allocated to “the Cape and Islands” rarely reaches either one of the islands. The phrase rolls trippingly off the tongue, but take another look at that map. Cape-based groups have been known to include one or both islands in their proposals without even notifying their island counterparts that it’s happening. So if the grant comes through we don’t hear about that either.

Dylan mentioned that criminal justice reform is a priority in the coming legislative session. I’m currently copyediting a book that deals with the need for this, but I didn’t realize that Massachusetts has a three-strikes law. These laws limit the discretion of judges and juries dealing with repeat offenders and come down hardest on poor people and people of color.

The above represents a small fraction of the problems and priorities being dealt with every day in the Barnstable Dukes Nantucket district, which comprises about 40,000 people, and on the Vineyard, whose year-round population is less than 20,000. If life in a small jurisdiction comprises this many layers of this many issues, how can anyone assume that the nation’s challenges can be met with a magic wand?

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Snowy Walk with Dog

I woke up to snow yesterday morning. Three inches of it at least, and still falling lightly. The water in Travvy’s outside dish hadn’t made it past the slush stage, but there was a pile of snow in the corner where the previous day’s ice disk was last seen so I excavated it very carefully. It had survived.

If the term “ice disk” elicits a quizzical look, check out “Ice in August” (2015) for a brief history and some samples.

Friday morning

Friday morning

Thursday afternoon

Thursday afternoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

The slush suggested that the night hadn’t been all that cold, but temperature had dropped enough to make the snow light and fluffy. Martha’s Vineyard is often on the rain side of the snow line: the Cape and the rest of southeastern New England get snow and we get rain or freezing rain. Not this time.

Snow is much more fun to walk in than freezing rain. It transforms my familiar walking routes into something new, so of course I packed my camera.

On Pine Hill, I tucked the handle of Travvy’s retractable leash between my knees and pulled my camera from my hip pocket. The leash was almost fully extended, but Trav was engaged in pawing and sniffing so I figured I had time to get focused.

Wrong. Trav picked that moment to come barreling up the path, which wrapped the leash three-quarters of the way around my knees. Fortunately the resulting tug was enough to stop him but not enough to knock me over.

Was this a photo bomb by a malamute who noticed the camera was not pointing at him? Whatever it was, it got him into the picture. Two of them. You don’t have to look too closely to see that I Photoshopped the leash out of the pictures.

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20170106-snowy-trail-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further on, I stopped several times to take pictures of trees. I love pictures of trees with snow on them.

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20170106-snowy-fir

No more photo bombs by Trav, but I took another picture of him anyway. This is how he looks when I stop to talk with a neighbor and the talking goes on for a while. Taking photos of trees fits into the same category. He knows he’s got to wait it out.

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There’s more snow in the forecast for this afternoon and evening. Maybe a lot of it. We’ll see.

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Beginner

Once upon a time I must have made New Year’s resolutions. Who hasn’t? I doubt I kept many of them. Who does? It’s a cliché how much exercise equipment winds up in the classifieds by the first of February.

I did make one resolution as an adult. I think it was for New Year 2002. I must have had 300 second- or third-draft manuscript pages of The Mud of the Place by that point, but I’d never successfully completed anything longer than 40 pages and I was sure I was going to choke before I finished this one. My resolution? I will work on it every day until it’s done.

And I did. Some days I was so terrified that the thing had turned to crap when I wasn’t looking that I wouldn’t open the Word file till five minutes to midnight. Whereupon I would realize to my astonishment that my ms. wasn’t the crap I’d been thinking all day that it had to be. Thus reassured, I’d then tinker, revise, or write for at least half an hour before I went to to bed.

A couple of decades before that, in my D.C. days, a friend confided that on New Year’s Day she made a list of all the things she’d done for the first time in the preceding year.

I loved this. I grew up with a perfectionist father who was forever ridiculing my mother for getting her facts wrong and supporting insupportable positions. I learned early on that it wasn’t safe to make mistakes. I learned to get my facts straight and make coherent arguments. I’m still pretty good at it.

Trouble is, it’s hard to learn anything new if you don’t dare make mistakes. The list of projects I dropped or never started for fear of looking stupid is very, very long. See why I loved my friend’s idea? Ever since it’s been my way of giving myself credit for overriding the voice in my head that’s sure I’ll get ridiculed, ostracized, or trashed for looking like a klutz.

So here’s one thing I started in 2016: learning to play the guitar. As a teenager I was insanely jealous of my friends who could play the guitar. I had fantasies of going to bed and waking up a guitar virtuoso without ever having to be a beginner. It didn’t happen.

Guitar takes a break.

Guitar takes a break.

This is actually my second attempt. Ten years ago, with huge trepidation, I took a free intro guitar course offered by a local musician. You’re right to be suspicious of my excuses for not keeping up with it, but in that first attempt I did acquire a guitar, the Rise Up Singing book (which has the lyrics and chords to at least half the songs I ever knew in my life, and plenty more besides),  and enough competence to accompany myself on a few songs.

This fall I heard that a free intro course was being offered at the West Tisbury library. I signed up. My fledgling skills had long since faded, along with the hard-won calluses on my left fingertips. At the first class in November I couldn’t remember the fingering for a single chord.

Four classes in, I’m still at it, practicing every day. All the while my endlessly creative mind is inventing excuses for giving up.

My fingers are too short

My guitar’s neck is too wide.

My fingers can’t do that.

Half the people in the class aren’t really beginners.

The other half have more talent than I do.

I’ll never catch up.

I can’t change chords fast enough.

I will never be good enough to play in public.

At some point “My fingers won’t do that” progressed to “I can’t change chords fast enough.” Gotcha, girl; you’re making progress in spite of yourself. You’ve still got problems, but the problems are more advanced than they used to be.

Travvy and me at a Pam Dennison clinic in 2011.

Travvy and me at a Pam Dennison clinic in 2011.

This is a wonder. My short fingers can actually reach farther than they used to, all because I’ve been practicing.

When I was training Travvy all those years ago, we’d repeat a lesson over and over and over and I’d be sure we were getting nowhere, then all of a sudden he’d get it. He’d know something as if he’d always known it.

Seems like my fingers work the same way.

Part of the challenge is that I keep comparing my guitar playing to my writing and editing, which I’ve been doing for almost 40 years (editing) and more than 40 years (writing). I know writing and editing so well that I don’t know how I know it, and I don’t remember how I learned it.

I will never be that good at playing the guitar, or at doing anything else for that matter. But really it doesn’t matter. Starting from scratch is a good thing because it’s a good thing to fumble and feel like an idiot and realize that you’re getting better.

 

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Year-End License Plate Report 2016

201611-nov-license-map

In the license-plate-spotting department, 2016, a nasty year in so many ways, was nothing to write home about. No end-of-year surprises. After Montana in October, there was nothing, period. Still AWOL as 2016 slipped into 2017 were Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota (surprise!), Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Hmm. That’s 10 states. Montana was #40. 10 + 40 = 50, but I always count D.C. so there should be 51. After counting back from 40 to see if I’d misnumbered, I realized that I hadn’t counted D.C. Now I’m really bummed.

However, 2017 is a new year. I’ve printed out a clean copy of the map and written “2017” at the top. The new year’s #2 plate is Vermont. You’ll never guess what #1 was.

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No Man Will Shake Me From This Land

An amazing meditation about place — maybe someday I’ll be able to write as well about New England and Martha’s Vineyard, but meanwhile this expresses so well why I know they’re crucial to my being.

GODS & RADICALS

The spirit of my people is wedded to this land.

The bones of my Ancestors lie in a small churchyard in rural Kentucky, a place without cell phone reception and filled with people who may have never seen a plane fly over their heads. There, among those secluded stones, rest nearly every one of my Kin that walked the clays, sand, and dirt we now label the United States.

Generation after generation, all brought to one place, and practically holding hands in union. I can remember setting eyes on it that first time, walking up a hill 860 miles from home to witness the collected essence of the streams my heart rowed upon.

My family is an old one, migrating from Germany to Pennsylvania in 1650, nearly fifty years before the Seminoles ever set foot in Florida. In one generation they moved to the hills of Kentucky, becoming farmers and…

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Rudolph Revisited

rudolph_3As part of a beginners’ guitar class I’m taking at the West Tisbury library (more about that later), I’ve been practicing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It’s got a challenging chord transition (Em -> A7 -> D) so I’ve been practicing it a lot, which is to say I’ve been paying more attention than usual to the words.

What a nasty song! Obnoxious reindeer bully the different one then suck up to him when he gets in good with the boss?

This sounded oddly contemporary, so I wrote some new lyrics:

Donald the big-mouth con man had some very orange hair
and if you ever saw it, you would have to stop and stare
All of the other Repubs used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Donald join in any Repub games

Then one murky ‘lection year Putin came to say
“Donald, we are quite a pair, I don’t mind your orange hair”
Then how the Repubs loved him ’cause he bested Hillary (sorta)
Donald the big-mouth con man you are still a travesty.

Pass it on. Maybe if it goes viral enough, Orangino will trash me on Twitter.

hillary-mug

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Messiah

messiah-poster-smI sang in a performance of Handel’s Messiah on Saturday night. “An Island Family Tradition Returns” said the poster, and so it was.

I’m not a trained singer but I can carry a tune, I like to sing, and if I work hard I can keep up with those who know more than I do.

Besides, I’ve sung in Messiah before. Paperclipped into my tattered score are 10 programs. The earliest is from 1990. The most recent is, I’m pretty sure, from 2001. (Date your programs and posters, people! How are researchers and archivists supposed to sort this stuff out if you don’t?) Most years we sang just Part 1, the Christmas portion, plus the Hallelujah and the Amen. In 2001 we sang the whole thing in April, around Eastertime.

That year was the last. The pickup chorus that gathered every fall to rehearse Messiah had already morphed into the Island Community Chorus, acquired an excellent director, and was performing other music at other times of year. This director had inherited the Messiah tradition but Messiah bored him and, being new to the year-round island, he didn’t understand what he was messing with.

The December Messiah performance was just one of many things that’s gone missing over the years, but I never stopped missing it. From time to time someone would say “Wouldn’t it be great if . . .” I kept my ears open, but didn’t hear anything.

Until last year. A friend and fellow chorister told me that the Grace Church choir and a few friends were planning to sing “For Unto Us a Child Is Born” at Grace’s Christmas Eve service. Was I interested? Well, yeah! I dusted off my tatty old score and joined the rehearsals. We were pretty good and very well received, if I do say so myself, though watching a video later I thought we altos were a little weak. Best of all, it seemed plans were afoot to do the whole Christmas portion in 2016.

Warming up before the performance. The sopranos are in front, the basses behind. Conductor Wes Nagy is at far left, bass soloist Glenn Carpenter is standing up, and Griffin McMahon is partly visible at the piano.

Warming up before the performance. Onstage, the sopranos are in front, the basses behind. Conductor Wes Nagy is at far left, bass soloist Glenn Carpenter is standing up, Griffin McMahon is partly visible at the piano, and the orchestra is in the pit, such as it is.

And that’s what happened on Saturday night. Director Wes Nagy led a nine-piece orchestra and a 37-member chorus (including eight soloists) in a splendid homecoming performance at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. The turnout was excellent, especially considering that at this time of year there’s a holiday-related concert or other event almost every night of the week.

I’m not a believer, so it’s not too surprising that it’s the music that gets through most to me, the power of voices raised together. But being a word person, I’m not exactly oblivious to the text. In 1994, the litter from which my Rhodry came was born three days before the first performance. I didn’t know which one would be Rhodry (1994–2008), but I did know that one of those pups would eventually be coming home with me. So as I sang “For Unto Us a Child Is Born” I was, I confess, visualizing puppies, not baby Jesus. Since Rhodry’s birthday was December 17, I was thinking about him this year too.

But the lines that really settled into me this year were from the bass recitative: “For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people . . .” Which pretty well captures what’s going on in this country at the moment. It’s followed, though, by the bass air: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”

And, a little later, by the alto recitative: “Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstoppèd; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.”

No, I don’t believe for a moment that a savior’s going to come along and get us out of this mess, and I wish some of my fellow countryfolk would stop chasing after those who promise to deliver them from all their troubles. On the other hand, the light can come from anywhere, and anything that encourages the hope that we can get through this is not a bad thing.

The other half of the stage, altos in front, tenors in back. The empty chair behind the poinsettias is mine.

The other half of the stage, altos in front, tenors in back. The empty chair behind the poinsettias is mine.

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Goatscape

Seen from a slightly (only slightly) jaded angle, Martha’s Vineyard is a theme park. We’ve got theme park agriculture, theme park woodlands, theme park arts, theme park progressivism, theme park charity, and so on, all based on things that used to flourish here for real (I think) so the theme parkery is hard to detect. Money often provides the telltale clue: thanks in large part to the high cost of land, activities that used to be more or less self-supporting now require significant and continual infusions of outside cash, from foundations, affluent individuals, and government agencies.

At the Chilmark stop on Dylan Fernandes’s “Listening Tour” last week, an up-island farmer suggested that because of its self-containment, the Vineyard was ideal for “pilot projects.” Could there be a relationship between theme parks and pilot projects? A question worth pondering.

That said, there are definite advantages to living in a theme park. One of them is goats. Last I heard, there were no fewer than three enterprises that would lease you goats to clear out the overgrown bramble patches on your property where humans hesitate to tread, often because the overgrowth often includes out-of-control poison ivy. One of these enterprises is called Scapegoats Goatscaping, which is one of the best business names I’ve ever heard.

Dog watches goats.

Dog watches goats.

In early November a sizable herd (flock?) returned to the small meadow across from the West Tisbury School. Over the next few weeks the herd moved in stages to the large tract of conservation land up the bike path from the meadow, then to an unused pasture at the adjacent horse farm, then back to another part of the conservation land. Since Travvy and I walk this way nearly every day, we spent a lot of time goat watching.

The goats are enclosed by an electric fence. It’s portable and flexible; it also enables one or two goatherders to, well, herd the goats from one place to another. When the goats moved up the bike path, they left some telltale scat behind.

You probably won’t see goats being herded up Old County Road anytime soon, however, because the goatscapers have wheeled conveyances that look like little barns and can be pulled by pickups. How many goats can ride at a time? I’m not sure. When I asked one herder how many goats there were in this lot, he replied, “Probably close to 200.” My guess is that for the up-the-road moves, they have to make more than one trip.

Goat trailers

Goat trailers

After the goats moved up to Misty Meadows, they had more room to spread out.

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And a white goat watches Trav.

Trav watches the goats at Misty Meadows.

Trav watches the goats at Misty Meadows.

We got to watch goats climbing trees.

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In early December, the goats left for — well, probably not greener pastures, because no pastures are green this time of year. Their last stop in my neighborhood was at the end of the Nat’s Farm field near Old County Road. The path there is narrow and the electric fence ran right along it.

By this point Trav was pretty blasé about the goats as long as they were standing still. Once they started moving — as they often did when they noticed him — it was a whole different story. Malamute imperative: If it runs, chase it. So the goats ran. Trav started bucking and spinning on his short leash at close quarters and, you guessed it, he brushed hard against the electric fence.

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Trav was more than shocked: he was offended. It wasn’t his first encounter with an electric fence. He had one when the goats last visited this area in late 2014. Dogs tend to have long memories about these things. The late Rhodry Malamutt was a barn dog for much of his life. Not only did he respect electric fences, he was deeply suspicious of anything that might possibly be electrified. Like a length of baling twine lying across a barn floor.

When Trav gets really excited, his brain isn’t fully engaged and his memory goes AWOL. After this recent encounter, however, he stayed as far from the fence as the scrubby undergrowth would let him.

Trav keeps his distance.

Trav keeps his distance.

The goats have moved on, but last I looked, this sign remained behind. Trav, need I say, is leashed whether there are goats around or not.

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Wednesday, Wednesday

When only a few days’ worth of clean underwear remain in the drawer, I start watching the weather. Hanging one’s wash out at this time of year can be a challenge. Daylight hours are short and getting shorter, overcast skies are not uncommon, and unless there’s a good breeze, when the temperature dips much below 32 degrees F (0 degrees C), clothes tend to freeze before they dry.

Temps are predicted to plunge toward the end of the week, so when today dawned bright and sunny, as predicted, I was pleased, not least because in the off-season Wednesday is two-for-one day at the Airport Laundromat. Two washes for the price of one. I’d hit the jackpot, even before I fed my $10 bill into the coin changer and listened to 40 quarters come rattling down the chute.

This was a typical late fall laundry line: longjohns, long pants, no shorts, lots of turtlenecks. T-shirts are rare at this time of year, but there was one on the line, and a short-sleeve one at that.

Late fall laundry line

Late fall laundry line

If you look closely and can read upside down, you’ll notice that the T-shirt says DON’T BLAME ME, I VOTED FOR HILLARY. For reasons understandable (or maybe not), it did not become available till T-shirt season was over. I have worn it several times, but always over a turtleneck.

Once the laundry was hung, I headed into Vineyard Haven with several missions in mind. Foremost among them: Find out what was happening with Malvina Forester’s tires. The dashboard light indicating “underinflated tires” often comes on with cold weather, I think because tire pressure decreases in the cold so Malvina thinks there isn’t enough air in her tires. I put air in the tires, the light went off — but came on a couple of days later. Hmm, I thought. A slow leak maybe?

Same thing happened again: The light went off, then came on again after two days. I repeated the procedure, but this time the light didn’t go off at all.

At this point I started to get anxious. I am a stereotypical girl when it comes to cars. I trace this back to taking driver’s ed at the local high school when I was 16. This being 1967, the instructor spoke entirely to the guys in the class and for the hands-on demos the guys crowded around the car while the handful of girls hung way back and couldn’t see a thing. Being a suburban kid, I got my license ASAP, but then I became a city girl who got around on foot, bike, and public transportation. I didn’t own a car until I was 37, three years after I moved to the Vineyard and also three years after I got my first PC.

I am reasonably competent with computers, but when it comes to cars, I can add water to the radiator and pour windshield washer fluid in the proper opening, I can check the oil and replace the wiper blades, but that’s about it.

I’d thought I could successfully put air in my tires, but now I was beginning to wonder. As usual, I was torn between the equally unpleasant prospects of exposing myself as an idiot who couldn’t read an air-pressure gauge correctly and having a tire go flat on me, which would expose myself as an idiot of another sort.

So I was hugely relieved when the nice guy at Island Tire said the air pressure in all Malvina’s tires was fine. He reset the dashboard warning light; told me that if the light came back on, the battery for the dashboard light might need to be replaced; and didn’t charge me for the visit.

20161214-loafed

Onion-walnut loaves ready to rise

When I got home, I added flour, onions, and chopped walnuts to the bread batter that had been rising since late last night, kneaded it well and loafed it. My sourdough rises very, very slowly in cold weather, so I’ll probably be waking in the middle of the night to bake these loaves, but slow rising makes for great texture and it will be so worth it.

In between, I managed to get some work done, do my grocery shopping, and get in a couple of good walks with Travvy.

Happiness is a well-stuffed underwear drawer. It’s been a pretty good Wednesday, all in all.

From left to right: undies, bras, socks.

From left to right: undies, bras, socks.

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