Nothing is more welcoming when driving off the boat after a long week off-Island than to see the Rev. Alden Besse on Main street and give him a shout. Alden is very excited about the big party he invites you all to on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. at Outerland. The Vineyard Committee on Hunger is putting on a great show for us: dancing, music, food, and the joy of seeing all your Island friends post-season. Tickets and information may be had by calling Alden at 508-693-3930. Or just show up at the door with your weekend guests. We raised $7,000 last year, please help us top it. I’ll see you there.

Report from Iraq: many of you lovely readers and friends want to send something to my son, Chris, and his buddies. I asked for a wish list. Apparently, all marines and soldiers on base adore beef jerky (ugh) and can’t get enough of it. They do have a PX with magazines and personal items, deodorant, and so on available. But soldiers really need foot powder and the PX is often out of that. The magazines that aren’t carried at the PX because they might offend Muslims are also banned from being mailed to the men. This might be the first time ever I agree with the Muslims! The base in Anbar province has enough potable water, but the guys like powdered drinks. Only three flavors of Gatorade are available: Fruit Punch (red), Lemon-Lime (green) and Riptide Rush (purple). So any other flavors would be appreciated. Instant coffee would be great. Kid snacks, he says, like sunflower seeds and goldfish are very popular, too. They all use Febreze for their rooms — some of those hanging car air fresheners would be appreciated as well. If you didn’t get his address a few columns back, call me. Jo Ann Murphy at the Dukes County Veterans Office at the airport has the addresses of all our Island kids who enlisted and are in service. Thank you.

One of the highlights of last week was having my aunt, Mary Alice Jannace, take Iole and me to dinner at her favorite Valhalla restaurant, B4. This was my opportunity to meet Joanne, co-owner with Alex. Joanne visits the Island every summer. Our other connection is that Joanne graduated from Our Lady of Good Counsel Academy, my alma mater. Alex graduated from Our Lady of Victory. To my memory of high school days, our basketball team firmly trounced Our Lady of Victory every time — perhaps they should change their name. I enjoyed the beautiful decor of B4, the gourmet beet salad, and a salmon dish to die for. Above all, not that I have tested them at every restaurant and bar, but I can tell you Joanne makes the best vodka martinis in the western hemisphere. If you are ever down Valhalla way, check this out.

Shirley Cronig Smith had her son, Jeremy Kramer of Jaws fame, visit at Juniper Place with his friend Tracy Gillis, and his three sons: Jordan, Jaxson, and Jeremy. The family enjoyed the reunion, the beautiful weather, and their annual Island vacation.

The young adults can meet Mary Holmes at the library tomorrow for a book discussion from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The book, Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, is available at the front desk. I really want to attend this. What would happen? Would I be kicked out because of my advanced age? I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, Mary is running a teen movie every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. And Betty Burton is offering a workshop beginning Wednesday, Oct. 3 and continuing through Nov. 21. The title is Healthy Children, Healthy Planet, and explores a wide range of topics. The workshop is free but the accompanying workbook is $18. You may pick up a workbook and register for the course at the front desk. I’ll see you there.

Some of you have asked when my English Conversation lessons will begin. For the fall lessons, I shall be teaching at the Edgartown library on Tuesday nights from 5 to 7 p.m. I believe I shall begin on Tuesday, Oct. 9, but call the library to check. I’m trying to get organized after all this travel and a wild summer. There will be no English lessons at the Vineyard Haven library until January, and I shall keep you posted. Remember to tell any of your friends in need of this free service that they may attend all lessons in all towns: it doesn’t have to be at the library of the town in which they reside.

It’s not too soon to alert you to the Miles of Memories walk on Sunday, Oct. 14, rain or shine. This will be the eighth annual Island walk. All proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association of the Cape and Islands. Locally, call Tom Dresser or Joyce Stiles-Tucker for information and a fund-raising packet, or try 508-775-5656 for information. Registration will be at 11 a.m. at the Tisbury senior center and we’ll start off for the four-mile walk at noon. I’ll see you there. I’m walking for Silvio Gardella and Elinor McCabe.

There is nothing like the devotion we develop with our dogs. Angelo DiMeglio gave his Happy a great life and she returned the favor for Angelo. Our condolences go out to this wonderful man on the passing of his companion.

Wow — this is an anniversary that cannot go unnoticed. On Oct. 1, Freeman and Connie Leonard celebrate 76 years of wedded bliss. Bouquets and good wishes go out to them

The birthday bandwagon pulls along Pat Gardella today. Tomorrow is claimed by Karen George. Sunday is a party for Walter Burke, Kandace Sylvia and Gay Smith. Oct. 1 honors Allie Clark and Alyssa Mayrand. Oct. 2 belongs to Bill Wingert. Oct. 3 is for Jeanie Hay-Sternbach and Toby Codding. And on Oct. 4 Lizzie Andrews, Zach Post, Rebecca Palmer, Michael Sawyer and Fred Legg take the cake. Many happy returns.