only on vashon – the weekly rundown 0/28/2021

If you know me, you know my favorite thing to do is argue at length about obscure points of grammar and punctuation. And someone gave me the greatest gift this week, by asking whether places off island should be spelled overtown, over-town, or over town. 

There’s no consensus, but some point out that it follows the rhythm of words like downtown and uptown, so it should be one word. Others say they definitely pronounce it with a space. Some say it’s short for ‘over to town,’ and should be spelled over’town. (I think o’ertown could catch on.)

Other ways to refer to that place beyond the mist are: main land, mainland, big town (though not bigtown) and Vashoff. I like the last one best. It implies that the world is composed of two places, Vashon, and not-Vashon. 

A true island shibboleth is whether you say Puget Sound or The Puget Sound. If you say The Puget Sound, then you clearly are from Vashoff. 

And while we’re on the topic, the greatest crime against local grammar, committed at least twice that I recall (and that I begrudge) by the New York Times, is saying “in Vashon” instead of “on Vashon.” Although I’m no prescriptivist, it truly grates at the ear. 

A group member asked, if we had a magic wand and could bring any restaurant to Vashon, what would it be? Suggestions include a 24- hour diner, sushi, Ethiopian, more pizza, anything but more pizza, and so on. Basically every nationality was mentioned (there were more comments than there are countries in the world.)

I’m happy to report that it is taken completely for granted that if any islander found themselves in possession of a magic wand, they would use it to make a restaurant. If I had a magic wand, I’d do the Mary Poppins thing where the house tidies itself. This shows either the paucity of my imagination or the messiness of my house.

We have remarkable treasures in the group this week. Lefse that expired a year ago is selling for $12 a box. Lefse is a Norwegian crepe made of potatoes, cream, flour, butter, and sugar, fried up and served with more butter and sugar, and, at only $12, that sounds like a steal. A buyer found a basket so beautiful at Granny’s that they want to find the maker and give it back to them. And we’re trading herbs for vinegar made from herbs, so start clipping your lavender and rosemary. Lastly, someone is giving away thousands of plastic Easter eggs for free. 

We’re on the topic of driving again this week. If you slow down when someone is tailgating you, is that good? We agreed that yes, it is, so long as you’re doing it so they can pass you up. But it’s bad if you’re doing it to be passive aggressive. We are reminded that it is illegal, wrong, and truly a sign of moral decay to impede the flow of traffic. It’s like if you were to build a dam over a salmon stream. If you’re driving behind me and I slow down, it’s not a passive-aggressive response, so much as a deer-in-headlights response. Treat me like a turtle who’s just pulled into her shell, and go around.

A couch and a fire pit full of clothes were found on the beach. I admire the dedication of someone who’ll drag a couch over roots and rocks so they can sit idly by a fire and watch polyester Christmas sweaters burn away. 

Three Sheriffs and two game wardens were on the ferry. This is probably the biggest law enforcement presence the island has seen in quite some time. Of course we need to speculate what kind of hullabaloo is going down to require such a show of force. Some suspect a cougar or a bear swam over in low tide. Others think they’re after people digging for geoducks and harvesting crabs. I suspect they’re chasing down Transient Orca T36 Chainsaw, who is devilishly slippery and won’t be caught without helicopters. 

He just robbed a bank.

Lastly, there was a cow loose on Westside Highway, though no one has named her as a suspect in the law enforcement hubbub, at least not yet. 

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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