“In Bulgaria the government has the people by the throat.” So goes one of my favorite quotes from my favorite movie, Casablanca. To paraphrase this famous line, I say, “In the U.S. Senate, the NRA has the senators by the throat.” I was thoroughly disgusted with the spineless behavior of our elected officials. All I keep thinking of is how classic fairy tales are often modernized and rewritten. I am certainly willing to rewrite The Emperor’s New Clothes into The Senators’ New Clothes, and expose them as they are now presenting in all their nakedness. For shame! In my book, the NRA stands for No Responsible Attitude. Keep up the pressure in any way you can. The madness has to end.

Martha Dunham had a fabulous Easter weekend. Her son Crawford, his wife Leslie and their daughter Pavlina made the long trek from their home in North Carolina to our Island. Martha had to haul out the extra-long dining table, the visitors were joined by on-Island brothers and families, Jeremy, Stephen and sister Jen. The day was warm and beautiful, and the children had an early morning Easter egg and basket hunt. The dinner was one of Martha’s most welcomed creations. Crawford, Leslie and Pavlina started the long trek back to North Carolina on the following Wednesday. They planned to stop and visit family along the way.

The most precious thing we have is time, and writers and artists are certainly in need of this. I received a wonderful notice from Abigail McGrath about the oldest continually-run retreat on Island, the Renaissance House project, now going into its 12th year. Certainly we writers and artists have all lived with writer’s block, painter’s block, procrastination (I personally invented that word), noisy relatives and unwanted house guests when we try to create. How is this the first time I am hearing about this program? Applications are now being accepted for “commuters” — that is, Islanders who need space to write, draw and grow. The commuters get a discounted fee. The event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and covers solid work time, three meals a day, a lobster picnic in Menemsha, guest speakers and silent Wednesdays! Gosh, would I enjoy a silent Wednesday in summer! This is sponsored by the Helene Johnson and Dorothy West Foundation for artists in need. Remind me to tell you of my very funny Dorothy West story someday. There is no application fee, but do apply now. Send a sample of your wor k to or a hard copy to Renaissance House, attention Abigail McGrath, P.O. Box 3048, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Get the creative juices flowing as soon as possible.

Our library continues with favorite programs and always a new twist. Story times will be as usual next Tuesday, April 30, with the infants to two year olds being entertained at 10 a.m. and ages three to five set at 11 a.m. Musician Jeremy Berlin will present both programs, and the kids will be singing their hearts out. That very evening you are invited to a free screening in the program room at 7 p.m. in the library’s continuing Oscar-winner Spring festival series. Watch Daniel Day-Lewis become Abraham Lincoln. All Islanders are invited.

Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven is the site of a very special retreat tomorrow. The Martha’s Vineyard chapter of the International Order of St. Luke the Physician, presents a day of healing with workshops, praise, and worship led by the Rev. Kit Tobin. Kit has her own Vineyard ties as the sister of Boots and Matt Tobin. She is an Episcopal priest and a certified hospital chaplain who has worked with nurses on healing touch and led seminars on end-of-life issues. The Rev. Carolyn Eddy will lead a workshop on meditation in the afternoon. A donation of $10 is suggested, and please bring your own lunch. For further information contact Bebee Green at 508-693-1737 or the Rev. Alden Besse at 508-693-3930 or Mrs. Parrish Warner at 508-457-0240. Organizer Ginger Duarte also has information, 508-693-6570.

Anniversary bouquets go out to Ron and Barsha Tolin today. Belated flowers go to Paul and Marge Howes, who celebrated their 59th on Wednesday, April 24.

The birthday bandwagon pulls along Ardis Fitzpatrick, Kristin Lee, Jamie Hale and Michael Seccombe today. Tomorrow is claimed by Jennie Lindland. April 28 is a party for Ron Tolin, Jenna Corey and Paulo Roberto Oliveira. April 29 is shared by Marci Nichols and Stephen Dunham the Younger. April 30 belongs to Ronilton Oliveira and Andie Williamson. And on May 1, the other twin, Ellie Williamson, as well as Marina Natichioni, Megan Stiller, Kirsten Claussen, Mary Muckerheide, Lindsey Ben David and Barbara Murphy take the cake. Many happy returns.