An excerpt of correspondence between Elizabeth Whelan, who lives on one of the Elizabeth islands, and me. Elizabeth is painting Howie’s portrait.
Wednesday, March 04, 2015 6:56 am
I have let too much time pass without contacting you, as we have waited for the ice to thaw in the harbor. I have had Howard’s color study ready for weeks now, and not wanting to send a digital version as it’s just not the same as seeing the little painting, every day I’ve been at the window at dawn checking the state of the ice.
And blessedly, this morning we are finally free. It’s been exciting but grueling to be iced in this past month. Thank goodness for last night’s rain, as we now have a channel out of the harbor to go and get supplies. Like you, we’ve been bound by the ice on the doorstep even while it has been leaving the Bay at large.
It looked as if this would happen last week as the ice was breaking up and moving out (and then back in) with the tides. However all of the ice from Falmouth and the upper Bay then drifted down here, and washed back into our little protected cove. It was starting to get annoying to see other boats go by and still be stuck here. But it was an adventure as well, and justified the enormous amount of stocking up on everything from layer feed and hay to cat food, that we did in December.
But back to your painting. Bill is going to Cuttyhunk later today for mail, and will be taking the color sketch with him. It won’t leave Cuttyhunk until Friday, as the ferry only brings mail twice a week in the winter, so it will take a couple of days to make its way around to West Tisbury.
As our situation dragged on for days and days, the farm became its own little world apart and although connected to the outside by the internet, time took on a different sense and we frequently lost track of the days without the usual markers of ‘mail day’ or ‘supply run’ keeping us grounded. What a winter!
I shall be SO glad to see that package head off to the PO, and to you.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 3:01 pm
I am writing in regards to your color study, which I have just tracked on USPS (thinking that surely it had arrived in WT by now), and found out that it has been travelling around New England.
It has, according to the USPS, been from Cuttyhunk to Brockton, then to Cohasset, then to Nashua, New Hampshire, then to Providence, Rhode Island, then back to Brockton, and as of this morning at 8 am it was back in Cohasset.
I have no idea why. Cohasset is usually where our mail gets sorted and is the destination before arriving on Martha’s Vineyard, so I shall check again later today and see what’s going on. It does now list the delivery date as ‘today’, which I have discovered often means ‘tomorrow’, as if MV is in another time zone.
Anyway I do have that digital image of the comp if you are chomping at the bit.
Thankfully the ice has now cleared around the island, and future deliveries can be made in person.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 11:11 am
We weren’t worried about the sketch, figuring your harbor had re-iced. Now that we know it’s in the hands of the US Postal Service, we can start to worry. The USPS is determined to screw things up. Just delivering mail to the Vineyard from the mainland is beyond the comprehension of their automated system. Delivering mail from one island to another, a couple of miles away, well . . . !
In the past and probably for the foreseeable future, whenever we have a package mailed to us using our Edgartown Road address, the USPS insists on changing our zip code from 02575, which is West Tisbury, to 02568, which is Vineyard Haven. Since there is an Edgartown Road in Vineyard Haven as well as one in West Tisbury, they attempt to deliver packages to 620 Edgartown Road, Vineyard Haven. However, there is no number 620 on the VH Edgartown Road, so numerous package deliveries end up who knows where. LL Bean now knows to override the automated system, but not all venders have real people you can talk to in order to explain the situation.
I’ve contacted our State and US legislators about this, and they essentially shrug. “Take it up with the USPS,” they say. Which is hopeless.
We’d love to see the digital image. We do understand it’s not the quality of the real thing, but we are pretty good at understanding what you are wishing we could view.
My mother once received a letter addressed to: “Dionis Coffin Riggs, An island off the coast of Massachusetts.” I still have the envelope with its 3-cent stamp.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 12:21 pm
Dear Cynthia :
It is often difficult to explain to people in America how our mail works. I remember upon first moving to Martha’s Vineyard, and trying to tell a client that the ‘early a.m. next day’ delivery option via FedEx was a waste of money, as the package would take 2 days to get from his location, regardless.
I just checked the tracking, no update yet.
I’ll send the digital image and a copy of the letter I’d enclosed in the next email. I look forward to your feedback.
Thursday, March 19, 2015 10:23 am
The tracking says the package is now in West Tisbury, as of 9:34 this morning. It DID go to Providence, Rhode Island, one more time…. for your amusement I have copied the tracking info page below.
|March 19, 2015 , 9:34 am||Arrived at Post Office||WEST TISBURY, MA 02575|
|March 19, 2015 , 1:25 am||Arrived at USPS Origin Facility||PROVIDENCE, RI 02904|
|March 18, 2015 , 3:25 am||Departed USPS Origin Facility||NASHUA, NH 03063|
|March 18, 2015 , 2:13 am||Arrived at USPS Origin Facility||NASHUA, NH 03063|
|March 17, 2015 , 8:31 am||Forwarded||COHASSET, MA|
|March 17, 2015 , 8:30 am||Arrived at USPS Facility||COHASSET, MA 02025|
|March 17, 2015 , 8:26 am||Arrived at Post Office||COHASSET, MA 02025|
|March 17, 2015 , 12:36 am||Departed USPS Origin Facility||BROCKTON, MA 02301|
|March 17, 2015 , 12:10 am||Arrived at USPS Origin Facility||BROCKTON, MA 02301|
|March 16, 2015 , 4:31 am||Departed USPS Facility||PROVIDENCE, RI 02904|
|March 16, 2015 , 12:08 am||Arrived at USPS Origin Facility||PROVIDENCE, RI 02904|
|March 15, 2015 , 3:42 am||Departed USPS Facility||NASHUA, NH 03063|
|March 14, 2015 , 11:17 pm||Arrived at USPS Origin Facility||NASHUA, NH 03063|
|March 14, 2015 , 8:40 am||Forwarded||COHASSET, MA|
|March 14, 2015 , 8:40 am||Arrived at USPS Facility||COHASSET, MA 02025|
|March 14, 2015 , 7:56 am||Arrived at Post Office||COHASSET, MA 02025|
|March 14, 2015 , 5:33 am||Departed USPS Facility||BROCKTON, MA 02301|
Thursday, March 19th. 11:05 am
We LOVE the study, the pose, the background, the colors, everything. You’ve captured Howie at work and the house setting with its books and lovely light and glimpses off into other magical spaces. Wonderful, perfect, even better than expected, better than hoped for.
We look forward to seeing the finished painting.
. . . just don’t send the portrait by USPS !
Thursday, March 19, 2015 11:38 am
I think this is going to be a great portrait, and an interesting painting overall.
And I will definitely be hand-delivering the finished painting. I will keep you posted with a delivery timeframe, most likely mid-April.
I included in the color study box the return postage, however another option is that I shall be back on MV next Weds (25th), and could perhaps pick it up then. But I imagine the post option will work out fine as we can only pick our mail up twice a week anyway.
Thanks so much, and now off to paint
Thursday, March 19, 2015 2:25 pm
We’ve just got back from the post office, and you’ll never guess what finally arrived.
I assume you would like to have the study returned to you. Dare we trust the USPS? Or are you able to navigate through all that floating ice? I went off Island last week, and here’s what it looked like in Woods Hole — not something I’d like to maneuver through in a small boat.
Saturday, March 21, 2015 9:38 am
We have not put the color study in the mail yet. Will you be coming to the Vineyard on the 25th? Since that’s only four days from now, should we wait and hand deliver it to you ? Based on past experience it may take the USPS a full week or more to do its thing.
More snow last night — hurrah! We are doing this snow thing up royally this year. Welcome sweet springtime!
Saturday, March 21, 2015 11:10 am
It looks as if I will now be coming to MV on Thursday rather than Wednesday, so it might be just as well to put the painting back in the mail in case the weather causes us to be delayed further. I admit to being interested in finding out what will happen if it goes back in the mail . . . a cross between scientific curiosity and ‘hope springs eternal’, I imagine.
Speaking of snow, it’s at it again over here. Large fluffy flakes. I don’t suppose Howie will believe that this doesn’t happen all the time.
Hope you both have a lovely, snowy day,