Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Shafer the cat is still missing. Someone in the Road to the Plains area in Edgartown keeps taking down my posters. We have had sightings in that area and people have called in about seeing her. With the posters missing, people don’t know where to call or have a picture to compare to the cat they are seeing. If anyone knows who is taking down the posters, please call me. Or ask them to stop taking them down until I find her or find out what has happened to her. I promise all posters will come down when Shafer gets home.

She has been gone since Feb. 23. I was away when she left. I would like to deeply thank my friends who all jumped in to find her and I know how disappointed they are that she has not shown up yet, given all their tireless efforts. Secondly, I would like to thank all of you who have seen Shafer or a close look-alike and have called to report your sighting. In our hunt we have found a couple of cats that look like Shafer and have been able to return them to their homes. Please keep looking and calling in as soon as you see here. She seems to be moving around a lot, so timing is everything.

Shafer was a bit of a celebrity in her place of birth, the island Providenciales, one of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Children from the Catholic Elementary School found her when she was about a week old, stuck under the hot water heater in the school’s basement.

Cats and dogs are generally not as well loved and taken care of in the Caribbean Islands as they are here. The local Providenciales SPCA had recently started a new campaign to teach school children to report stray or mistreated animals, so they could be picked up, gotten health care if needed and put them into good caring homes. Shafer was the first animal turned into the SPCA as a result of that program. It turned her into a celebrity. She was on local TV, articles were written about her in the paper and a movie was made about her story to help promote what the SPCA was doing. When Shafer went up for adoption, Island friends of mine saw her on the Internet and secretly arranged for me, on my way home, to be met in the Provo airport and given tiny Shafer, then only a few weeks old. My friends wanted me to have a new pet, since my favorite dog, Ms. Bare, had died recently and Sherlock, my cat of long standing, had developed serious health problems. I was given a folder of health certificates and other papers, a can of cat food and a few newborn Pampers. Off Shafer and I flew to the U.S. of A. Happily we were bumped up to first class, where there was more room for the cat carrier. Shafer, ever the celebrity, was whisked away by the stewardesses who carried her all over the plane, in their aprons, showing her to everyone and telling her story. She loved all the attention and was a perfect passenger. When we got to US Customs, the officer took her out of her carrier and played with her, while the line grew behind us. No one got upset, since Shafer was “the kitten coming to the U.S. for a new life” that had been on their flight, and everyone knew her.

She has been making friends ever since: Giving Cirque Du Soleil performances at a young age, which drew crowds, helping neighbors plant their gardens, making nap time easier for young children, being the cat to cuddle, patrolling the water aerobics class so no one would drown (Shafer swims), making renters feel welcome in their new summer homes, going on daily dog walks with her dog SinJin and her pal Mia, performing lovely ice dancing shows in the winter on the pond, swimming with ducks and playing with her skunk friends.

People have told me not to worry; cats can go away for months at a time and then one day they’re back. Where do they all go, what do they do? Is there some secret place where runaway cats go and hang out with each other, gossiping while playing cards or pin the feather on the bird? If that’s what Shafer is doing I hope she is having fun. But I hope she hears my nightly call soon and realizes how very much she is missed and is needed at home. I keep having this dream of her skipping across one of Morning Glory’s fields with a little hobo stick, her catnip toys tied in one of my old silk hankies at the end.

Shafer is a small gray tabby with blue-green eyes, four white socks and a white vest. She doesn’t have front claws, but does have a chip. She’s been seen in various places between Meeting House Hill Road and Herring Creek Road. I would appreciate any help you can give in finding her or any information as to what happened to her. Please help keep the posters up a bit longer.

Kitty Burke



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Oak Bluffs Public Library and Martha’s Vineyard Library Association, in collaboration with and support from the Bunch of Grapes bookstore, Library Friends of Oak Bluffs and a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, are sponsoring an Islandwide community-read One Book One Island program.

This year’s selection, Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, examines a family’s one-year endeavor to eat as locally as possible, informs the reader of society’s current food culture and cultivates an interest and respect for local foods. We looked for a book that was a good read — the program is about reading after all — and that we could use as the focus of discussion at multiple events that bring attention to the subject of growing and eating locally-grown food.

Many individuals and organizations are helping us make this program possible: Ali Berlow of Edible Vineyard magazine and Dawn Braasch of the Bunch of Grapes bookstore wrote letters of support that helped us to get the grant, and members of the Island’s farming, gardening and slow food community have agreed to participate in the panel discussion and other events. Film director Ron Rudaitis gave us permission to screen his documentary Farming the Future: Farm Life on Long Island.

On April 27, in collaboration with the Bunch of Grapes bookstoreand the Vineyardsustainable book club, the Oak Bluffs Library will host a book discussion, followed at 12:30 by a local slow food lunch.The discussion will beled by Dawn Braasch, owner of the Bunch of Grapes. The second book discussion is on May 5 at the Chilmark Public Library.

On April 28 everyone is invited to a panel discussion at the Oak Bluffs library with Jim Athearn of Morning Glory Farm, Mrs. Berlow, Jan Buhrman of Kitchen Porch caterers, Rebecca Gilbert of Native Earth Teaching Farm, Sidney Morris of the Farm Institute and others.

In addition, a book discussion and signing, Book of Duck Cookery, with Rebecca Randall Gilbert on May 7 is at the West Tisbury Public Library, and the screening of Farming the Future: Farm Life on Long Island on May 19 at the Oak Bluffs Public Library.

We did not forget the little ones: A story time (for kids three and up) with slow food as a theme is at the Oak Bluffs Public Library on Saturday, May 7 at 10:30 a.m. The kids will be planting heirloom seeds they can take home.

Everyone is invited to be a part of this Islandwide initiative

Danguole Budris

Oak Bluffs

The writer is director of the Oak Bluffs Public Library.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Wow! If you don’t want McMansions, then you’ve got things backwards up there. For our little three-and-a-half-bedroom 1950s house (owned by the family since 1952), on seven acres, 800 feet from the sea on a self-maintained road, we are struggling with $40,000 in an annual tax bill for 12 hit-and-miss garbage pickups a year, plus one VFD call ten years ago, and one animal control officer before that. It’s about four times what it was a dozen years ago; of course, we now have four times the votes we did then.

If you keep assessing the house at the land value — which, as far as People’s Republic of Tisbury is concerned, is the “McMansion value” — then McMansions are what you are going to get.

Christopher Gray

Vineyard Haven and New York city


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I want to thank all those who participated in the Persephone Event and contributed generously to our success. Special thanks to Spindfirt Marionettes, the African Drum Workshop, the West Tisbury Congregational bell choir, Robin Forte and Kate Suval for edibles, the Tashmoo Trio, Debra Hart and Andy Weiner for music, Linda Black, Susanna Sturgis and Steve Ewing for their poetry, Lorna Ashe, Cleo Wild and Paul Karasik for assistance beyond the call of duty, the Oak Bluffs police department for our escort up Circuit avenue, and to Melissa Breese for her enthusiasm, expertise and beautiful gallery. Together we raised $2,500 to educate and support programs for disabled and marginalized children in Zambia.

Marsha Winsryg

West Tisbury