Archive for December, 2019

Letter from the Vineyard 16 Dec 2019 Thoughts on Christmas in Edgartown and a few on history…

December 16, 2019

Letter from the Vineyard

December 16, 2019

Christmas in Edgartown with thoughts on history’s lessons…

In the mornings, I drink, usually, a cup of Irish Breakfast tea and look out the sliding doors to the woods outside.  Many mornings are Vineyard gray and, sometimes, Vineyard brilliant as it is as I write these words, wind blowing, bending barren branches of once verdant trees. And most mornings, somewhere in the process of consuming my tea and the usually dreadful news, I feel come across me a wave of happiness, as just happened, happy I am alive, sitting on a couch, looking at trees, having defied gravity one more time, climbing out of bed to insert myself into the life of the universe one more day.

I have reached a place in life where I am grateful for each good, healthy day I have on this planet, taking, hopefully, none for granted.

Saturday was the second day of the “Christmas in Edgartown “celebration; at eleven there was a parade down Main Street, somewhat truncated by the rainy weather which prevented bands from marching though Santa was there, riding joyfully atop a nearly hundred-year-old fire engine.


            Edgartown Books is dressed up as gaily as I could manage; one of the people who liked our Facebook photo of author Jean Stone signing copies of her newest series of Vineyard books, said the store looked festive.  Thank you.


I worked hard at it, making it up as I went along, adding things until Thursday, when I decided the storefront simply would not be okay unless I strung garlands over the windows.

Enter, garlands.


Feeling festive after the day, I decided to go across the street to Alchemy to sit at the bar, have a drink, maybe a bite but, when I walked in, the place was overflowing, and I thought about just going home but decided as I was walking to my car to stroll over to the magnificent Charlotte Inn, have a martini in their very English evocative surroundings – think private English club in Kensington.  When I first walked in, it reminded me of a hotel across from Kensington Palace where I stayed in the aughts, when on a consulting assignment.

Sipping a martini in one of the parlors, two women entered, asked me if they could occupy the chairs by the fire?  I smiled; it was not my room and said, of course.  They ordered wine, then seemed to see me for the first time, really, and one said, oh my gosh you sold me a book today!  Which started a lovely conversation with two former college roommates off for a weekend together before the holidays, before going to another room for dinner.  The moment filled me with smiles.

Sunday was another lovely bookstore day, not as busy, though still full of “Christmas in Edgartown” visitors winding down the weekend and locals ginning up their Christmas shopping.

I will be in the store until Saturday and then off to New Orleans for Christmas, spent with my friend of longest standing, Sarah, her husband, Jim, their son Kevin, his wife, Michelle.  Restaurant reservations are popping up in my email; it will be hard not to return without a weight gain.


Meanwhile, in the real world, away from soft island life, the president will be impeached by Congress. There will be a trial in the Senate, virtually guaranteed to acquit him.

The Democrats will likely not heed the lessons offered by this week’s UK election.  Democrats, to their detriment, rarely learn lessons offered them.

It is time, I suspect, to read Cicero, study the rise of Caesar and catalog the mistakes leading to the end of the Republic and rise of Imperium.

Those singular rulers rode an upward trajectory; if we come to that, ours will likely ride a fall.











Letter from the Vineyard 7 December 2019 A different kind of Thanksgiving…

December 7, 2019



It is Wednesday, the 4th of December, as I sit down to write this letter.  I’m pretty sure it will take me a couple of days as I am extravagantly tired after 14 non-stop days at the bookstore, stretching myself more than I usually do, amusing myself as much as usually do, and always a bit bemused at the wonderful turns life takes me.

My Thanksgiving is usually spent at my friend Larry and Alicia’s farm in Stuyvesant, NY, a tradition which has evolved from shared Thanksgivings over the last almost twenty years.  It is special and was very hard for me not to be there.

This year, I spent Thanksgiving in the bookstore, unpacking fifty boxes which had come in, working to make the store look a bit like Christmas for the Black Friday crowds, which came, the biggest day the store has had since summer.

Misha, the barista from BTB, the restaurant behind the bookstore, swooped in to help me, cementing friendship.  He made me food so I would have sustenance; my Thanksgiving dinner was his delectable goulash, consumed while sitting at the counter, surveying the store, eating, checking off a mental list of things still needing to be done.

It was not my usual Thanksgiving; unique, not regretted.

Misha is now gone, five months of travel before returning for next season, through Europe before heading to Rwanda, his special place, Madagascar, then back to the Vineyard, readying himself for yet another summer.

Because of the bookstore, I am meeting people, learning about island writers.  The bookstore is a member of the Chamber of Commerce; I attend meetings, good for the bookstore, good for me.  At the latest meeting, a gentleman told me he and his wife had a hoot buying some books from me.  They had just spent a weekend at the Charlotte Inn, one of the island’s premiere places, and somehow the bookstore came up and my name and the people at the Inn said, oh yes, we know Mathew, he came in the other day and introduced himself.

It’s my time of introducing myself as I know very few people on the island and, while I am here, need to make a life for myself so introducing myself is the order of the day.

Janet Messineo, wrote “Casting Into the Light,” about her life as one of the island’s premiere fisher people, and we had a lovely conversation Sunday morning after she had done an event at The Grange, signing books at an author’s table, selling out all the books we had given her.

Saturday morning has now rolled around; I’ve reveled in two days, mostly, away from the bookstore, taking myself out to dinner as a reward to my own self, after raiding the Boy’s and Girl’s Club Second Hand Store around the corner for ornaments, now hanging in the windows of Edgartown Books, as well as Santa in a sleigh holding a doll and Mrs. Kringle singing in red velvet. There are still a few things to be done and I now know, I will actually get there.  The store looks festive and think I haven’t let Joyce down, who is great at displays.

The town of Edgartown is preparing for “Christmas in Edgartown,” several days of festivities drawing people back to the Vineyard.  We will have authors signing books.  Jean Stone will sign on Saturday, autographing copies of “A Vineyard Christmas,” which I read last Christmas to get me into the spirit of the season.  And, on Sunday, the indomitable Janet Messineo will be ensconced in the “Sea” section, signing her books and doing a demonstration on knots.

Life could be much worse.


Now, “back in America,” as islanders sometimes say, the President looks to be impeached.  Only the third time in our country’s history.  No matter what your political views, it is a sad day when a President is impeached.

It is now December 7th, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. A deep bow.


Until next time…