Saturday, August 27, 2016

Martha's Vineyard -- Oak Bluffs and Gingerbread!

We started our Tuesday with Rick going to work and me going where?

I wasn't quite sure yet! But as I got ready to leave, I saw Nancy, our host, sitting on the deck. Since we hadn't met, I introduced myself to her and we began to chat. And it turned out there was a lot to talk about!

Nancy is Nancy M. Clarke, a wonderful artist whose work has appeared often in "Just Steampunk" and has her jewelry in some of Martha's Vineyard's shops (as well as on her website HERE).

Here are a few pages from some of the "Just Steampunk" items featured. I was able to see some of these in person and they are exquisite. As those of you who do assemblage know, if you don't have the right knack for putting things together, it can just look like a pile of junk glued together. Nancy's work is anything but that. I saw the hairbrush in this photo (or one like it) in person, along with some of her rat traps, whimsically titled "The Beheading, I and II." They are beautifully done. (Click on the photos to see them larger -- or better still, check out her website!)


John had mentioned I might want to go to the campground and I had politely nodded but thought "Campground? Well, I'm not exactly a camping kind of girl." I had visions of the state park grounds or something and while I like the nature, there is much of it everywhere on Martha's Vineyard. But when Nancy brought it up, she explained more fully and together we went to Oak Bluffs to visit the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (aka, the Campground and originally known as Wesleyan Grove).

This is no state park, lovely as they are. This spot is on the National Register of Historic Places and ranked a National Historic Landmark -- and with good reason. It is also known for its...

It is one Victorian-era gingerbread house after another, built in concentric circles close together around a large open-air tabernacle and green space.

Think Walt Disney's "Pollyanna" or other films set in towns of the late 1800s. They look too charming to be true.

This one is. Really, truly, true.

The area began in 1835 as a summer campground for Methodists who pitched their tents in an oak grove around the central church tabernacle. In the 1860s and '70s, charming wooden cottages replaced the tents. (There are now 318 of them.)

The area was established by Methodists but today is an interdenominational area, with services held in the Tabernacle on Sundays. It also serves as the home for special events. Nancy told me that her daughter's high school graduation was held there and they rented one of the buildings for her open house.

The homes are now privately owned, some for generations and they are maintained beautifully. Each one is unique, a cotton candy collection that looks like a walking color sample card for Sherwin-Williams! And they are all perfect.

As we walked through the area, people were sitting on their porches, reading. We'd smile or say hello -- or walk on. They are used to being on display!

There was a definite trend toward white wicker, which I love! Rick would later comment it looked like they all got their furniture at the same store.

Maybe, but I suspect much of it has been in the family for years, carefully repaired and kept away from cats like Lizzie who could take out a wicker bench in no short order!

One place even had a mini-version of their house on the porch!

Another thing we noticed was the charming way that home owners kept eager tourists off the porches! When you have that many people in love with your house, everyone wants a look but you may not want them peeking through the windows! So graceful "porch blockade swags" both looked appropriate and served a fine purpose!

The owner of the Pink House, quite a famous one and on a number of postcards, talked with us about his home. It was period down to the hardware.

(Later in the day I found an antique postcard of this house which showed it prior to the porch being added. A day or two later when I returned, I asked when they put the porch on and I believe he said in the 1980s. It looked as though it had been there from the beginning.)

And, if you peeked through the window, you saw the cake his wife made. Not real. Just really perfect!

This was Nancy's favorite house and it's not on the "main drag." I'm glad we found it! It was one of my favorites, too!

I knew I would have to return to this little slice of heaven. Maybe today, definitely tomorrow.

Nancy left me at Featherstone, an arts center, that was having a flea market that day. Good finds included a Coronation plate for Queen Elizabeth II to add to my Royal Family collection of china (and books, tea towels, stamps...) and a French postcard book picturing WWI sites at Verdun. I wouldn't have expected to find either. During this time, I shopped to folk music provided by a live band.

And, I admired the large kiln and some of the outdoor sculpture.

After lunch, I returned to Oak Bluffs for some sketching time by the water. I'll share that later.

 Then it was dinner time and back to Edgartown for...


Yes, I'd been eager for lobster. At lunch I had my first lobster roll of the trip. This was the real deal. Both Rick and I indulged.

After, we walked around the town, enjoying the evening and each other, pinching ourselves to be sure it was real.

We weren't in Michigan anymore, and maybe not Oz.

But we were definitely someplace special.

Like a dream.

This post will be linked with Thoughts of Home on Thursday, Share Your Cup and Pink Saturday. Click on either of these fun blogs for plenty of other links to things creative and decorative!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Greetings from Martha's Vineyard -- Arrival

Home again. And it all seems like a dream.

Rick and I have just spent the most remarkable week in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. If I had to decide between returning to Paris and returning to Martha's Vineyard, it would have to be a roll of the dice call. Yes, that nice.

I so rarely see the sunrise! It took a very early morning flight to make that happen!

Rick had a client on the Vineyard who flew us out, let us stay in his lovely guest house apartment and drive his car for the week. Rick would work and I would play. Oh, and John's wife ended up being someone special, too -- but that's for a later post. So, after a harried time waiting in line for security at Detroit Metro and thinking we would miss our flight, we finally took off. Two plane rides later, we landed!

While waiting for John to pick us up, I met Blue Miller. He had been on tour with India Arie and was on his way back to Nashville (Franklin, TN). Such a nice guy and interesting to talk with. It turned out he was from Detroit and had played back up on a couple of 1970s Bob Seger albums (he's a favorite) along with many others including  Michael Bolton, Aaron Neville,  Blake Shelton, Melissa Manchester, John Legend and more. Check out his website! Sure did make the wait even more fun!

After John picked us up and we got settled, he left us to have a day of fun before Rick's work began. We started by visiting their town, Edgartown, on the eastern tip of the island.

How would I describe it? Well, think white houses. And those that aren't white have the gray shingles one associates with a seaside town.

Think white picket fences, pretty gardens in front of the houses, and buildings that have been there for hundreds of years.


Think a wonderful port with sailboats and yachts, restaurants with a view, and shops that -- well, Michelle Obama can afford to shop there. But I love to look!

First it was time to stop for lunch -- and take a look at the map!


After lunch in a restaurant called "Behind the Bookstore" (because it was), we were off to explore other parts of the island -- end to end.

But first, a walk through Edgartown. I'll be back here! One of the discoveries was a Murdick's fudge shop. People in Michigan know Murdick's well -- it had its start on our own Mackinac Island! So, we gave it a wave and a pass and admired other things we might not be as likely to see at home.


Then it was time to hit the road. At the far western tip of the island in the area of Aquinnah was the Gay Head light. This lighthouse was originally built in 1856 (to replace the 1799 original). It and was moved in 2015 to the present location 135 feet away from the original. It was a massive but essential operation due to the eroding cliffs where it had previously stood.

The lighthouse is well maintained and it was interesting to go inside and note the historical documents well mounted on the walls.


The views were amazing. Take a look at that big house in the photo below. That's the Oceanmost Inn, owned by James Taylor's brother, Huey. We had hoped to eat there for my late birthday dinner (despite the extremely high price) but reservations are required. And made well in advance.

And take a look at that speck of an umbrella down there in the first photo. It's in the upper right quadrant of the picture. Quite a distance. I zoomed in on it. The photo next to it is not fully zoomed to 120x. When I did, we discovered a nude sunbather. Yes, I do have (several) photos. No, I'm not going to put them on the blog. But let's just say that if you're going to let it all hang out, remember, there are tourists like me with a very good zoom!

Near the lighthouse is a small touristy kind of "village" (for lack of a better word -- call it a shop-and-snack area).

This was a surprisingly good find in the shopping department as spots like this go and I wish we'd found it near the end of our stay for I would have surely bought more than I did!


Of course the whole area is filled with woods and water. And it is incredibly beautiful -- especially on a perfect day when the sun is high and the sky is blue.

I leave you with a few more of my favorite photos of the day.

Yes, I'm a happy girl.

Almost like a dream.

Next time we'll go to my favorite spot on Martha's Vineyard -- and you'll meet an amazing artist!

This post is linked to "Share Your Cup" (Thursday) and "Thoughts of Home on Thursday." Please visit and check out this week's other fun links!

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