Dana Gaines Kayaking

Dana Gaines is our island friend and neighbor and he’s the one who produced the beautiful illustrations in my book, Living Off the Sea. While working on the book last summer I was expecting a new batch of illustrations. Jeff and I were boating in Edgartown Harbor and we heard our names being called out by someone in a passing sailboat. It was Dana and he was waving a packet. We pulled up alongside him and he handed over the latest illustrations. I call that Vineyard express!

Bluefish 2" ReversedShellTomato

Dana became owner at age 21 of one of the four “camps” his Dad built on Chappy. His camp is right up the road from our cottage. He’s been renting it out to one tenant in particular since the days of no electricity and kerosene lamps.

Dana probably gets around more by sea than land. If he isn’t working in his studio you can probably find him on the water. He’s an avid kayaker and for the last 25 years he’s has been competing in paddling races. He trains every morning for 1-3 hours, depending on the weather, the tides, and the upcoming race that he’s preparing for. In July he placed third in the prestigious 20 mile Blackburn Challenge, and in May he placed third in the 6 mile Essex River Race. His boating logs are as detailed as his drawings.  Along with the tides, currents and temperature he uses a GPS to measure his speed, distance and time. Last year he topped off his summer with a one day 55 mile paddle around all of Martha’s Vineyard!

Dana Gaines Kayaker



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19 Aug 2013

Our son Jack picked up this terrific word when he lived in New Orleans. It’s a Cajun word which means a little extra, something thrown in for good measure. Mark Twain wrote about the word in Life on the Mississippi, “a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get.”

Wednesdays are CSA days at Slip Away Farm. Their Community Supported Agriculture shares filled up before the first seedlings were planted. If you are a member  you can stop by each Wednesday to pick from the week’s bounty, or they’ll deliver, by bike. I couldn’t resist taking a few more photos. Enjoy the lagniappe.



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Slip Away Farm

13 Aug 2013

Sown by the Sea on the Island of Chappaquiddick

In less than a year’s time, this beautiful farm has become the heart of our little island.


Lily Walter, Jason Nichols, Christian Walter and Collins Heavener are the 4 young farmers who are providing our island with organically grown vegetables and eggs. And their business is thriving. Some people wait in line for an hour before the farm opens hoping to buy some of their delicious fresh eggs! Lily has said business is so good that they actually are having a hard time keeping up with the demand. “We could use another farm on this island!”

Each time I drive or bike into town, I love to see what progress they’ve made. From the tilling and neat little rows of seedlings they’ve planted, to the lush rows of  mature vegetables and flowers that they pick in the early mornings or evenings.


You sense the pride they take in their venture. And it makes me proud to be in this place where their efforts are so well supported and appreciated.

Lily Walter, at her favorite time of day, the time we like to call the golden hour, with some of the day’s riches.


The historical schoolhouse farmstand has become a wonderful gathering spot to see neighbors and catch up on the news of the island.

Although there’s no official documentation, historian Tom Dunlop assures us that based on extensive research we can surmise that this one room schoolhouse, originally located off Old Indian Trail, was the integrated school for Indians and whites, starting in the 1850’s. The last classes were held in 1916. In 2012 the building was moved to its present location on Slip Away Farm, where it was lovingly restored. The porch serves as the outdoor farmstand and the one room inside offers comfortable seating where you can look through their lending library or purchase some of the books published by Vineyard Stories.


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The Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival was spectacular. There were so many authors and interesting panel discussions going on all weekend.  It was an honor to be included.

melinda and jeff fager


I met Sue Ellen Scrogin at a recent book signing and she told me her kids came up with the name Bruiseberry Jam, made from the blackberries and blueberries that they’d pick in Sebago Lake, Maine. They used the recipe on the Certa bottle with equal parts of both berries. Thanks Sue Ellen!



My favorite jams and jellies recipes can be found in the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders.

black & blue berries

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Doggone It!

01 Aug 2013

doggone it

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