The Block Island Times

In Case You Haven't Heard

By Fran Migliaccio | Dec 11, 2012

Block Island everywhere

Welcome back to the nine Block Island residents who returned December 2 from a 10-day stint in Port au Prince, Haiti, where they built needed homes during a Habitat for Humanity project. The nine who went are David Kane, David Chatowsky, David Roosa, Herman and Linda Mast, Jim Rondinone, Terri Chmiel, Todd Tremble and Socha Cohen.

Socha became, as she termed it, self-appointed coordinator for the team. Accordingly, she has advised that people may learn more about the trip through the following:

• Friday, December 7 (the date this paper hits the street), around 7:30 pm during Soup and Song at the Harbor Church, the Haiti team plans to show photos they have all taken, compiled on a disk by Socha and Harbor Church Pastor Steve Hollaway.

• Team members have been asked for reflections of their own experiences, which will be made available to this newspaper. Watch for a coming article!

• Socha hopes to do a presentation to the school some time in January.

• A binder, with prints of the team’s pictures and some history, is planned. Once finished, it may be available for viewing.

Inveterate Cunard cruisers Margie and Bill Comings took a terrific-sounding voyage earlier in the fall. Margie reported, “Our trip was delightful, with super weather. I wished I had brought more summer clothes and fewer winter clothes — never used the raincoat! Yea! We started with two days in Venice, then picked up the Queen Elizabeth and visited three Greek Islands (Katakolon, Mykonos, Santorini), Istanbul, the Black Sea (Yalta, Odessa and Nessebur), and Izmir (Ephesus). The trip ended in Athens and we then flew to London for a stay of two days, then sailed from Southampton to New York on the Queen Mary 2.”

Word came from Diane Bean and her sister Judy, who have settled happily into their new home in Delaware: “We had a grand Thanksgiving holiday with Judy’s son Mark and grand nephew Lucas as first visitors in our new home. Enjoyed a delicious meal (again, again and again — love the leftovers!), did some exploring at the Bombay Hook Refuge, tagged our first Delawarean Christmas tree (the tree’s name is Rosie), did a hayride at Fifer’s Orchard. We all laughed a lot, told corny jokes, I taught Mark to play cribbage, and Judy and I learned the correct way to play Farkel.

We love our new home and FLAT lawn!! No more uphill mowing for me! Our new address is: 14 Lost Tree Court, Dover, DE 19904; telephone, 302-724-7023. My email is”

Ellen Jacke wrote a brief post-Thanksgiving note from points west: “Happy day after Thanksgiving! I am having a great time in California with my West Coast kids and grandkids!” She looks forward to seeing her friends on the island next summer.

About town

The winner of this year’s Block Island Quilt is sixth grade teacher Marlee LaCoste. By coincidence, the person chosen to draw the winning ticket was sixth grader Brianna Del Padre, who pulled the name of her own teacher out of a bowl of about 2,000 tickets.

The quilt, a fundraiser for the Harbor Church, is created and hand-stitched every year by a group of skilled island quilters. Tickets are sold throughout summer and fall, resulting in the late-year raffle to decide the winner. This year’s ticket sales surpassed the ambitious goal of $10,000.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and hope everyone else did too. The turkey we ordered from Sprague Farm was hand-delivered by none other than Joe Sprague, and it was beautiful to behold, shaped like a real bird with a recognizable bone structure, nothing artificial about it. When roasted it was deliciously moist and tender throughout and easily the best we’ve tasted. Many thanks to Joe for going into the turkey business, and please keep doing it!

Another culinary highlight was the two dozen oysters we got from Chris Warfel during his fundraiser for the Early Learning Center and Block Island Conservancy. Once shucked, they went into an oyster dressing along with cornbread made from my mother’s recipe and many other good things. It roasted inside the bird with juices and flavors going back and forth, and the result was glorious.

And we are not forgetting the pumpkin pie we bought from the Block Island School Friends pie sale fundraiser at BIG. Warm from the oven when brought home, it was exceptionally flavored, tender of crust, and we wish we knew who made it.

When Sven and Laura Risom held this year’s open house at North Light Fibers, we strolled up through the alpaca pasture for a visit. During the interesting and informative tour conducted by Sven, we learned that two new machines have been added, a carder and washer. The carder is similar to the one already in place and will significantly increase the mill’s capacity. The washer has been redesigned to reduce water consumption, which will help the island, given Block Island’s aquifer and fragile supply.

The Risoms’ focus with their light industry business is to create a year round enterprise and furnish jobs for residents. They currently have three full time and two part time employees, as Paige Gaffett, with them from the start, is now away part time taking an advanced weaving class on the mainland. Another full time employee will be hired in December, and the plan is to hire a fifth person next year. The Risoms are also working with Rhode Island School of Design, and plan to have two interns here this summer, one weaving and one knitting, to create new garments and home decor items.

North Light Fibers currently does 60 percent of sales in summer, 30 percent in winter, and the Risoms need to establish a year round business of 40 percent sales in summer and 60 percent sales during the other three seasons of the year for a viable year round business. The mill and store are open all year, and readers who cannot come to the island this time of year may visit the website,

Want to keep the deer out of your yard? Read on: while writing this column I heard my dogs barking inside the house and took a short break to see who was here. No one, but as I looked out the bedroom window I spied a small deer. As I watched, it was joined by its twin and mother, a family group I often see. Suddenly, doglets Tia Maria and Coco Chanel appeared, barking furiously at the faces of the large creatures. Two deer turned white tails and ran. One stayed and was further chased, to make sure it left the premises. The doglets knew enough to stay in the yard. Understand, these are chihuahuas, who look like tiny, tiny deer themselves. Despite their avoirdupois of five to seven pounds, they are valiant defenders of their territory. So if you want to get rid of the deer, get a chihuahua!

Coming up

Zena Clark reminds us that a Glass Float Project is planned again for 2013 on Block Island. Anyone can take part in this event, wherein artist Eben Horton hides hand blown glass floats for people to find and keep (one per person). Horton plans to hide more floats this year, in stages throughout the season, to give more visitors and locals a chance to find one of these works of art.

Horton has applied for grant money from the Rhode Island Council for the Arts, and is kickstarting a fundraiser for his 2013 project. If the project’s fundraising goal is not reached by December 14, none of the money pledged so far will be awarded. Incentives for donations include free glass floats and free glass blowing lessons from the artist. Further information is available at

Trivia tease

Fun trivia questions from Robert Ellis Smith continue to come in. Two weeks ago, Bob’s question was, “What five-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist was engaged on Block Island this summer?”

The answer: “Michelle Kwan, the multiple figure skating world champion, was engaged while at the beach on Labor Day.”

Bob’s follow-up question is, “Who is her fiancé, a Coast Guard man known for his political lineage in Rhode Island?” Guesses and answers, telephoned or e-mailed to your columnist, are most welcome.

Bob’s Block Island Trivia book is available as a holiday gift from Island Bound, and, and “Block Island Trivia” can be played on the boat or airplane when the quiz e-book is purchased from


Congratulations to Bill and Margie Comings on their 50th wedding anniversary, December 22. Celebration of the event, with family and friends, took place in November, as the couple had other holiday plans in December.

Matt and Julia Lensing welcomed their first child, daughter Madison Carol, on October 18. Weighing in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces with a length of 21½ inches, Madison reportedly has her father’s eyes. Now residing in Harker Heights, Tex., Matt is the grandson of Joanne and “HutchHutchins.

Cheryl and Webb Moore, home for the winter in Richmond, Va., celebrate their wedding anniversary December 11.

Meg and Dan Barker, now relocated from Block Island to upstate New York, have a wedding anniversary December 19.

Of cakes and candles

Happy birthdays to: Bill Pease, December 8 (the date on this paper!); happiest birthday to Joya Verde, who celebrates her 80th (would anyone believe?) December 10; Steve Mitchell, Elisa Hundt and Sam Mott, December 13; Mary Donnelly, December 14; on the same day, Thomas Maguire Szabo, who turns two, and Adrian Matthew Turenne, who turns one; Elva Derby, Nora Forbes, Molly Price and Micah Rondinone, all on December 15; Beth Gaffett Tengwall, December 16; Margie Comings, December 18; Sally Marte and Dorothy (Dot) Leslie, December 19; Lucinda Morrison, who should be very proud of those 50 years because she seems much younger, December 20; Meg Barker, Sara McGinnes and Roberta Closter, also on December 20; Andy Transue, a solstice baby of December 21.

Let us know what’s happening! Visiting relatives, special occasions, updates on friends near and far, projects… Deadline is Tuesday morning, and Fran can be reached at 466-2892 or

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