Archive for August, 2018

Letter from the Vineyard 08 15 2018 White Wine Problems…

August 16, 2018



The day began dark, with thundering rumbling across the morning sky and a digital warning that lightning had struck nearby.  But by the time I had showered and prepared to take my friend, Tory, to the ferry, the skies had cleared; it was the beginning of a sun kissed Vineyard day.

I sit, at this moment, at the bar at BTB [Behind the Bookstore], sipping a summer concoction by Colin, mixologist extraordinaire.  When I have sipped it to conclusion, I will gather myself, the coffee I’ve purchased, my newest book [“Little French Bistro”] and head back to my “Best Most Exotic Marigold Hotel” guest house, read and head off for an early night.

Tonight is “Illumination Night” on the Vineyard, when all the gingerbread houses in the MV Camp Meeting Association are strung with hundreds of lanterns of every variety, lit at dark, creating something that Disney has tried to accomplish but can’t fully.  The porches of the homes are populated by their residents.  My favorites from a couple of years ago were a husband and wife, actors retired from Broadway, dressed in 19th Century garb, talking of all the things they have seen and done, a black lab curled quietly at their feet.

Friday there will be fireworks.  And then “the season” will begin to crawl to an end.  Yesterday we did a book signing for “Nine Irish Lives” at a grand house near the Harbor View Hotel, a book edited by Mark Bailey and one of whose contributors was Mark Shriver.  It was a gaggle of Kennedys and Shrivers, a group that looks alike and sounds alike and made me think they were all one big tribe.

Leaving them, I met Tory at the Harbor View and had a lovely late dinner at a table looking out toward the lighthouse, especially enjoying the lobster tacos.

Around me the world swirls and I keep to reading about it as opposed to listening to it – so much quieter.  The Donald and Omarosa are sinking their verbal teeth into each other, carrying the Trump Reality Presidency to new ratings highs.

Trump has also revoked security clearance for John Brennan, a former C.I.A. Director who has been highly critical of the current President.  Some Democrats are raising the specter of a “Nixonian” enemies list.

Manafort’s trial is drawing to a close without the defense bringing in a single witness, believing it had done its job in cross examinations.

The Vatican is slow to respond to a report about sexual abuse by priests in Pennsylvania that boggles the mind [not to mention the churns it gives to the stomach], dating back seventy years.  It is a crisis that has been brewing for decades, if not centuries and is raging in both North and South America and in Europe and, probably, everywhere there have been priests.

Bouncing off that darkness, there was an article yesterday about how sex robots could be good for marriage, which conjured up the world of Asimov’s “I, Robot” and “The Caves of Steel.”  History and the future are bumping into each other.

And, whether we like it or not, robots are coming.  Hopefully not for us but to help us.

The day on the Vineyard is ending.  The sky is now Dove grey.

My morning will be spent finding a cookbook which has arrived on the island but is in UPS limbo and we need it by 11:30 for a signing at the Harbor View Hotel, a place I have grown to know much more than I would have thought because we have been doing multiple book signings there.

My first night on the island was spent at the Harbor View while my brother and his wife were here, visiting the Vineyard for the first time. Sebastian, who mans the front desk, still remembers my name from that brief encounter.  A memory like that rocks the brain.

Classical music plays; a bird chirps off my deck and another Vineyard day ends.  Not bad.  All my problems today are white wine problems; I could be living in a suburb of Damascus being bombed every day.  Remember that when you are really frustrated; gives life a certain perspective.



Letter from the Vineyard 08/08/2018 Paying it forward…

August 8, 2018



It’s been a bit since I’ve written; the path to hell is paved with good intentions, as our mothers used to tell us.  Do parents still use that old one to chide their children into good behavior?

Good behavior is sometimes hard to find, as I find myself dealing with a personnel issue at the book store.  Can’t be nasty when you’re in the customer service business and we have someone who is…

And to others in the store.  As I left on Saturday, I informed her she does not have my permission to be disrespectful to me.

And then I sailed away into the night as I didn’t trust myself to contain my anger.

Other than that irritation, the summer continues, warmer than recent summers I am being told, with more humidity [not good in a book store].  I continue reading and listening to classical music and generally wake up happy.  And I love the interchanges with the customers and the folks who come back and ask me to help them make another choice because they liked what I suggested when they had been in before.

Yesterday, a man came up and bought two books, one very adult book and a children’s book that encouraged youngsters to think about science.  As I was about to put both books into a bag, he pushed the children’s book back toward me.  He told me to give it to some child; I would know the one when he or she came in.  His way of paying it forward. [Picture above.]

Inside it was signed, Dr. Mike, Harvard University, what have you discovered today?

It moved all of us.  For Joyce, who owns the store, it was a first.

And, Dr. Mike, you will not be forgotten.  Ever.  By me.

An old friend from my cable days has retired abroad and wrote me an email and asked me to walk him back from the ledge as he can barely understand what is happening in our country and it is painful for him.

And, I suspect, no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, it is a little painful these days, if not a lot painful.

I told him to turn off the television, read a few good sources [mine are the NY Times, Washington Post and the WSJ, with a soupcon of Time Magazine thrown in and a few other bits and blurbs].  It is not so agitating to read about events as it is to hear the endless drone of news commentators constantly attempting to read the runes of the latest tweet.

Frankly, it has grown so bewildering that I feel as if I am watching a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – who met who, where and when for what reason.  The Trump Tower story has changed again.  I think.  Didn’t it? Wasn’t there another tweet this morning?

It would all be a bit amusing if there wasn’t so much on the line.  New sanctions have hit Iran, just after Iran demonstrated their naval ability to close the Strait of Hormuz.  That’s probably the most important waterway in the world because so much oil goes through there.  We have an enlarged trade war with China as of this morning.

The Canadian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia has been kicked out of the country because she spoke out against the arrest of a number of Saudi feminist leaders. The Saudi Crown Prince has given women the right to drive and has suppressed the women who advocated for that right.

Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is on trial.  His right-hand man, Rick Gates, testified they stole, evaded and scammed and while they were doing those things together, Rick Gates embezzled from Paul Manafort.  Ugh.  Such a pretty pair.  If they go to jail, it would be poetic justice if they were cellmates. That’s a reality show waiting to happen.

Fires burn in California, a quake has ravaged Indonesia, a hurricane is threatening the big island of Hawaii and the climatic beat goes on with record high temperatures being set all over the world on an almost daily basis.

But while Trump tweets, and Mother Nature is being a very bitchy Mother Nature, there are men like Dr. Mike, who care to pay it forward and I am going to focus on him as I close this missive.  And here’s to all those folks out there paying it forward.