Categorized | Keeper's Log

December 2011

Day 82  -  December 31,  2011

“Mermaids, Urchins, Santa Claws and Fairies”

I’m pretty sure I’ve never really thought about Mermaids in my whole life as much as I have in the last six months.  Not that I’ve thought about them a lot lately either, but certainly more than the rest of my life combined.  It’s a funny thing living alone on an island in the sea.  I think I have a better understanding of the desire behind the legend now.  And if you didn’t know, the name comes from a combination of the French word for sea – “Mer”, and “maid”.  (And while many think they’re sexy, which they are, they are traditionally known for using that characteristic to cause sailors to abandon their ships or distractedly run them aground…).  There’s a framed Norman Rockwell print in this kitchen showing a Lobsterman carrying a wooden trap over his shoulder, presumably home, with a Mermaid inside.  I look at it every day.  It’s one of the 321 cover illustrations he did for the Saturday Evening Post – this one from August 20, 1955.

I was able to meet Tim and Kathy yesterday at the wharf to pick up some provisions, mail, and fathoms of additional line (a fathom by the way is 6 feet, is traditionally used as a way to measure water depth and as a result line, and was originally based on the distance between a man’s outstretched arms, fingertip to fingertip).  They also had a gift for me from a wonderful couple in Pennsylvania who have been great supporters of lighthouses in general, and of The Lighthouse Endeavor since we started.  It is a Christmas ornament, and while I have been blessed enough to have received many as gifts over the years, this may be the coolest one yet.  It’s a Mermaid, cast on both sides, and truly strikingly beautiful!  She’s been given what I have deemed to be the most prominent spot on this very special tree, and I will find another prominent place for her when the tree is gone.  Thank you Judi and Tom.  I love this!

 

 

Sea Urchins are big business.  In the 1970’s and 80’s the Maine population of these pincushion-like animals exploded, destroying kelp beds and clogging lobster traps in the process.  In the 1990’s a market was developed with Japan, where the urchin’s golden roe (“uni”) is a delicacy, and the Maine Urchin fishing market subsequently exploded with a top harvest of over 40 million pounds.  Due to overfishing however, 2010 yielded less than 3 million pounds.  Today, a result of the tsunami and other economic factors, demand for imports is again strong, but as the population has been over-fished, Maine’s yield is low.  Maine is now moving to adopt sustainable practices similar to the lobster industry here.  The season is limited to 9 to 45 days depending upon where you are, and a committee of marine biologists, fishermen, and the state have teamed up to figure out how to manage and grow it.  While some drag nets, most of the fishing is from divers.  I’ve met a few of these guys and they are certainly a different breed.  Even the Lobstermen say so.  The waters are rough, dark, murky and incredibly cold.  It’s a tough dive.  I see these guys in the harbor and outside the island now, sometimes standing in a 12’ skiff careening around at 30 mph and just marvel at their fortitude.  It is not unusual to find the magnificent and delicate urchin shells, flawlessly intact and carefully eaten out clean by gulls and the like, littered within the recesses of the island forest.  I always think of them as a treasure.

My Mother and her art teacher shared this idea with me and I have made my own Christmas ornament – “Santa Claws”.  It seemed appropriate, as this lighthouse stands watch over one of the last working lobster villages in the country, and certainly one of the most picturesque.  Funny right?

 

 

 

 

Oh and speaking of lobsters, somehow I missed this story a few weeks back of a rare albino lobster that was brought up in a trap off the UK coast.  He was brought to a marine sanctuary and dubbed “Santa Claws”.  It’s estimated that he’s about 30 years old.  Here’s a snap…

 

 

 

It’s New Year’s Eve and in truth, I did not expect to be here alone.  Nonetheless, it is perhaps the most beautiful place, (and challenging), I’ve ever experienced.  As a result of being here on the most northeastern island lighthouse in the US, I will perhaps be the very first person in the entire US to see the sunrise of the New Year, and technically welcome in 2012.  (Wow, 2012 just seems so far in the future.  I remember thinking 1999, or even 1984 would be the future.)  It is a wonderful time and opportunity for reflection, and counting one’s blessings, of which I have more than my share.  I look forward to sharing pics of the 7:03 am sunrise tomorrow.

 

A couple of other items of note…as of yesterday we had over 5,000 visits to The Lighthouse Endeavor site in the last 30 days, and it’s growing like crazy.  Thanks!  Nick, the Captain of the F/V Phantom radioed me yesterday afternoon to ask me if I wanted to meet him at the Boathouse dock “for dinner”.  I hurried across island just in time to see his 48’ lobster boat effortlessly speeding for what now looked like my very small dock, and uncannily coming to a perfect stop six inches from the last float, whereupon he handed me a feisty set of just-out-of-the-ocean, twin lobsters.  “Happy New Year” he said, turned, and made for the harbor, his boat stacked with the last traps of the season.  OK, that’s just really special.  Here they are on the porch…and if you look closely at the second snap, you can see the decorated railing of the lighthouse tower reflecting in the pail’s water.

 

Lastly, a little before Christmas there were numerous posts about this very special tree here in the living room, the first Christmas tree in this Keeper’s House in 36 years.  I had mentioned that it was a “just mine” tree, as in sadly, there would be nobody else actually here to share it.  Well one of my dear friends from many years ago, a woman named Snow, just sent me this incredibly beautiful story she wrote about it, called “The Just Mine Tree”, and with her permission, I would like to share it with you.  Read it, and read it to your children or grandchildren if you are lucky enough to have them.  If not, please share it with a friend.  But before I do, I wish all of you a New Year filled with wonder, discovery, peace and health.   Happy New Year, Bonne Annee and of course, Good Enuf.

 The Just Mine Tree

     Once upon a time I was a little twig.  I rooted on the edge of a forest upon a small magical island graced with a lighthouse.  My seedling had luckily fell in just the right place.  I’m not sure how;  but it did.  I was born in a small crevasse of rock that was filled with rich loamy soil in which I could nestle.   I was protected there and I thrived.
     By and by  my roots grew deep and worked to wind their way into places that enriched me.  Over time I began to grow taller.  I did not grow quickly.  It took time.  I could tell just how much time by my rings.  My own inner history and accounting of things.  Time per se is not so important to a tree like me.  What happened while I grew seemed more meaningful.
    Some of my years were lean.  In a parched hot Summer I would grow spindly and skinny.   A Winter fierce with storms and whipping winds would make me feel as if I could only grow sideways, or I could indeed lose my rooty grasp.  Those years felt strange, but nevertheless I grew.
     I had lovely years too.  So rich and nourishing.  In those years my rings were fully rounded.  I grew thick with needles and lush bunchy branches.  Those were fine treasured years.  I grew strong.
    Oh yes my island was magical too.  The forest was alive with magical fairy folk.   Some of them tended to the nearby sea creatures.  Some tended  air birds, or toadstools, or serene pools.  Some of them tended trees just like me.  I remember the fairy folk beside me in times of howling wind saying “Hold fast little tree for you have a special purpose”.   So I learned to be steadfast, strong, and hold on.
     Some fairies tend to humans.  Humans are sparse on the island, and for a long time there was no one.  Most humans tend not to see the fairy folk here;  not even noticing when they are being sprinkled with that most luminous of mixtures …  fairy dust.  Some must know though and have a sense of them.  For instance, it is whispered in the wind through the trees that the humans have maps.   They need them as they move about so much.   The fairy folk here say a map is  being created of this very island.   Being a particularly smart human, the lighthouse keeper has been busy making a map.  Curiously it has magical fairy names on it.  So say the fairy folk.  He must know.
     One day the lighthouse keeper came to the forest.  He was searching for something special … I think … just like me.  Now it serves a special purpose for a tree to be selected, to be loved, adorned, and decorated in a celebration of joyfulness.  It was just the right time of the year for this.  I had heard of this before, but it had not happened on this island for many a year.  To my delight I was chosen for this purpose and returned with the lighthouse keeper to his home.  I was placed in a position of honor and lit with colorful lights and magnificent globes of glass.
     The lighthouse keeper cherished me and I was aglow as if I was lit up from the inside too.  He said “Tree you are just mine, and I love you”.  I had been feeling delightfully loose from my limbs and upon those words I was unbound from my earthy branches.  I looked at myself and I shone with golden light.  I was clothed in fabric as if it were made of gossamer moonbeams and starlight.  After all my years of growing I had become real and remembered who I was;  a beautiful woodland fairy.  Just outside the frosted pane were my kith and kin waiting to greet me as if they knew all along.
     What would have become of me if the lighthouse keeper had not remembered who he was?  I do not know for my tale ends well.   Here and there I will visit the lighthouse keeper and bestow the blessings of the fairy folk upon him.  Oh … and occasionally sprinkle him with fairy dust because I will care for the lighthouse keeper as he cared for me.

(all rights reserved.  The Lighthouse Endeavor and Snow)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 83  -  Thursday, December 29,  2011

 “Kiss Me As If It Were The Last Time.”

 (And I have to confess, for about twelve hours yesterday I thought it just might be.)

 

The harbor wind and seas continued to rage Wednesday night and throughout the entire day yesterday, blowing straight out of the west, the only direction that leaves the dock and floats wholly unprotected and the boat her most vulnerable.  I had last checked on her about midnight and while she required some bailing, she seemed reasonably safe and secure.  Rising at the crack of dawn to venture across the frozen catwalk I wanted to make the earliest possible daylight review.  Approaching the boathouse the harbor began to materialize as the thick canopy of trees receded.  It was increasingly clear that it was still blowin’ about 40 kts and I could see waves crashing over, and up through the floats.  At least they were still in place.  I estimate the wind chill temperature was at least 10 below, and the floats and dock were mostly covered in ice, making for an especially unstable and continually in-motion surface.  But where was Ilsa?

The Lund boat is the 14’ aluminum hull boat that was formerly referred to as the Hardy Boys boat, having been named that by me a couple of years ago, a tribute to my youth.  Lund is the name of the company that makes them (Canada), and Ilsa is the name I had some time ago given the woman’s voice that comes from somewhere inside my MacBook,  and reminds me hourly that another has past and a new one’s beginning.  She’s nice to have around to be honest.  Anyway, one day Kathy puts the two together and in homage to one of my favorite films (Casablanca), and characters, this boat logically became the Ilsa Lund.  (The new skiff has become the Hardy Boys).

A sense of incredulity, then controlled panic washed over me as I stood looking at her no-longer-attached to the dock, having cleanly snapped both her bow and stern lines and the safety line.  She was deeply swamped with a frightening amount of water and lay motionless on the seaweed-covered rocks, broadside and beached.  It was dead low tide and I would have only an hour before the incoming white caps belonging to the greatest tidal swing in the US, already licking their chops at the prospect of crippled prey, would lift her up and carry her off, or vault over her port side until she could no longer mover, then pull her to the bottom somewhere, never to be recovered.

Saving her would require swift, strategic thinking, methodical and hurried action, a calculation of what effect the wind, waves and sea would impose, and probably a miracle.  I truly doubted it would be possible, and knew the chances were at best exceedingly slim.  I scrambled up to the Boathouse to fetch what was a sorry mish-mash of too-short ropes and lines, carefully made my way back to the floats and began rigging up a series of bow lines, stern lines and pulleys,  all of which was made much more challenging by a lack of working cleats and bumpers on this side of the float.  The plan was to have everything in place so that as the tide began to lift her, I would be able to work these lines, pulling a few inches at a time and tying them off, one then the other, a third, and repeat, over and over, in such a way as to swing her bow into the wind, and reel her in towards the float.  And while there were several times I thought I had surely lost her to the elements, after a grueling and bitingly cold and wet hour, it had worked.  To my dismay, waves and winds then began slamming her wounded port side against the equally unprotected float, scraping away timber, battering her hull, and already beginning to fray the lines.  She was again taking on water and without further measure she would not last long.

Back to the Boathouse to get some spare tires and more shorts of rope, most of which had washed up on shore in previous seasons, distressed and discarded or just plain lost by fishermen along the way.  Tying them up to anything the rope would reach I wedged them in between the float and the boat, having to wait until just the right moment while pushing Ilsa with all my might.  My frozen fingers were having a tough time doing what I asked, and my water-filled boots had deep-chilled my feet.  Ignoring this I tethered a third tire between the float and the dock, which were crunching and grinding menacingly against one another as if they were each following entirely different rhythms.  This fix seemed to help as the two of them agreed to make-up, and settle down.

 

 

Six hours later, exhausted, stiff and a little bit beaten, there was nothing more I could do but pray.  Which I did a lot of.  I checked on Ilsa every hour spending the remaining moments of each one back at the Keeper’s House, focused on warmth and nourishment, with Ilsa ever-present.  By around 7pm the ripping and pounding showed signs of subsiding and it appeared that all had held.  She is my favorite, and I was not prepared to Kiss Her As If It Were The Last Time, as that sometimes unexpectedly turns out to be the case.

A few other notes – While all this was going on on the island, the Board of Directors of Friends Of Little River Lighthouse had their year-end meeting at A2Z, to look back as well as forward, elect some officers and a new Board member – (a shining welcome goes out to Cheryl Corbett!), and review The Lighthouse Endeavor.  I am happy to report their full support, for which I am extremely grateful.  I also wish to again thank the special folks at 32North of Biddeford Maine.  I cannot recommend more highly their product Stabil-Icers, that you simply stretch over your shows allowing you to safely walk across icy surfaces.  While they help me navigate the catwalk, dock and floats, I could never have saved Ilsa, and in truth they saved my life too.  Think what they can do in your driveway.  Please check them here at www.32North.com.

 

 

 

 

As always, thanks for your time, comments and interest, “Liking” us on Facebook and sharing this site with others.  I’d also like to thank those of you that have sent in donations and others who have asked how you might help.  We still need a great deal of support.  Lastly, tomorrow is my Dad’s birthday, who remains one of my best friends and has been behind me all the way on this, even when I doubt.  I am proud to be your son.  I dedicate the pic below to you pal.  Thanks for teaching me to sail, and many many other things.  Happy Birthday, and Good Enuf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 80  -  Wednesday, December 28,  2011

“And The Wind Did Howl And The Sea Did Rage”

 

I have been through many a storm, hurricanes even, both on this island, and elsewhere.  Last night’s was most certainly the fiercest one I have yet experienced at Little River Light.  As a dark afternoon gave up to a darker dusk, which surrendered to an even darker night, the rain, the wind and the sea increased accordingly.  By midnight it was blowing a sustained 50+ kts.  The ocean was building in size and sound and soon it took on the virtually constant roar of a passenger jet firing up on the tarmac.  The Keeper’s House rattled and the windows shook from every room.  This continued unabated for the next six hours.  On returning from my second trip across the island to check on the 14′ aluminum boat “Ilsa Lund” at shortly after 4am, I discovered the power had gone out.  It was not especially cold last night so that would lessen the impact of the inability to use the pellet stove and electric heaters.  However it meant I would unable to contact Tim and Kathy.

 

Just as I walked back in the Keeper’s House the power came back on and I began cleaning up the soaked towels from the couple of doors and windows where throughout the night rain had been determined to force itself inside.  I got to wondering about what really makes air blow, otherwise known as wind and the short answer, as I understand it, is as follows.  Pressure, one of the few atmospheric phenomena we need instruments to detect (as opposed to our five senses), is determined by temperature changes and influenced by the fact that the earth is spinning, resulting in areas of low and high pressure.  Think of high pressure areas having excess air and low pressure areas having less air.  The air from the high pressure area will move to fill the less crowded space, making wind.  The degree to which these forces differ determines how fast the wind blows.  Very fast winds often occur near cold fronts, low pressure systems and jet streams.  A cold front has arrived.

I watched as the sea continued throughout the day to smash headlong into the uneven rocky buffer that separates it from the front lawn, exploding in grand displays of white foam soaring into the sky.  It’s a lot like watching fireworks as it summons up the same feeling of excitement when “a really good one” happens, along with an almost involuntary and barely audible “Ooo!”, or “Ahhh!”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the news front, I wanted to mention again that Lighthouse Digest Magazine is the biggest supporter of The Lighthouse Endeavor, and The Friends Of Little River Lighthouse is the organization behind it.  Please visit www.LittleRiverLight.org to sign up for the e-newsletter, and www.LighthouseDigest.com to explore the whole world of lighthouses.  Also, I came across this cool thing called The  International Lighthouse Relay
where more than 40 artists have created site-specific sound and visual work for over 20 lighthouse sites around the UK and in Europe, Asia, South America and the Antipedes, in an effort to call attention to the historical significance of lighthouses globally.  You can read more here:  http://www.folkestonefringe.com/2011/lighthouse_relay/project.html

 

Thanks for reading, sharing and “liking”.  Your continued support is vital to the development of The Lighthouse Endeavor.  Enjoy the pics (click on them and they get bigger).  Happy Holidays.  Good Enuf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 79  -  Tuesday, December 27,  2011

“Thinking Of You”

 

At about 10:30 this morning, after spending a three hour stretch of emailing and messaging with people from all over the world, the previously bright and sharply crisp blue sky took a sharp turn for the dark and grey, and mottled.  The seas have been significant all day as white caps have raced steadfast from south to north across the front expanse of my isolated little world, and the five to thirty yard barrier (depending on the tide) of craggy Maine rock that faces east, and separates the front lawn from the ocean, has had little to do but show itself, and then hide.  The wind has increased steadily throughout the day although the temperature remains an unseasonable 42 degrees (for which I am grateful), and I have just come back from the Boathouse on the western side of the island, checking on the 14′ Ilsa Lund for the second time.  She is fine.  It’s almost 4pm and it’s now darkening swiftly, although not before the clouds became a mismanaged mix of charcoal smudges and smears with little definition but a seemingly collective sense of purpose, sliding swiftly to the north past the almost fifty-foot Tower that is Little River Light.   I am expecting a storm.

The multiple weather reports that I check several times a day, including weather.com, wunderground.com, the Maine Harbors Marine Forecast, and NOAA on the VHF radio all combine to give me a sense of what is to come.  Of course what happens on the island is often very different than what happens even in Cutler Village, much less the rest of the DownEast “Maineland”, and frankly what happens on one side of this island is often quite different than what happens on the other.  At the moment however there is a consensus, and it is a storm.  There are gale warnings in effect across the board with rain beginning shortly, then decidedly heavy overnight, with up to two inches expected.  Winds are forecast to sustain 25-30 kts, with gusts potentially reaching 45.  (FYI the knot, or kts, and sometimes “kn”, is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour, which works out to approximately 1.151 mph.  To better understand that, a nautical mile is based on the circumference of the planet Earth. If you were to cut the Earth in half at the equator you could pick up one of the halves and look at the equator as a circle. You could divide that circle into 360 degrees. You could then divide each degree into 60 minutes. A minute of arc on the planet Earth is 1 nautical mile. This unit of measurement is used by all nations for air and sea travel.  The bottom line is that a nautical mile is a bit more than a US mile.)  The real bottom line is that it means gusts up to 50 mph and a lot of rain.  And that means that I may have to be bailing the Ilsa Lund at 2am this morning.  I’ll certainly have to check on her.

The Christmas Tree in the living room, the first in 36 years here, is alight and decorated with ornaments I have collected over time, some from my childhood and some received as gifts over my adult years.  A lot of them are varying types of glass globes, as I have long collected free-standing globes, and at one time had as many as fifty in my apartment on Manhattan.  The tree was carefully chosen a week before Christmas from the myriad evergreens that grow like weeds on this island , and I believe is truly honored in its role.  On the top I have placed the torso of a Lobster, which I think is fitting.  A beautiful (if not fully effective) fire burns in the pellet stove.  Little River Light is a very special island.

I am truly awed by the fact that there have been over 3,000 people that have visited the Lighthouse Endeavor website and read The Keeper’s Journal over the last 48 hours alone!  3,000!  I thank you for sharing in this adventure, and a very unique education and preservation project.  While they/you are mostly from the US (every state but two — “Helloooo?!  North Dakota and Kansas??!!), they include some thirty other countries, which is truly amazing.  And I continue to correspond with a teenage brother and sister who are big lighthouse fans and live in South Africa.  They have the last name “Kitchen” which is just pretty crazy.  Anyway, with all these new people on the site I thought it fitting to re-post the link to the four minute video montage I did a few months ago, designed to give you some sense of what this island is actually like.  If you haven’t already watched it, you really really should.  Please allow it to load fully, then watch full screen.  Here’s the link (although it’s always on the left side navigation buttons – and you can share it, which I’d love you to do)…

http://bit.ly/LighthouseEndeavorVideo

On another note, the new issue of Lighthouse Digest Magazine is out and if you’ve never seen this either, you should.  It’s the foremost publication on Lighthouses anywhere, and as their tag line says, they’re “The World’s Lighthouse Keeper“.  It makes a great gift, even for yourself!  Subscriptions@LighthouseDigest.com.  And you should know that they are the single greatest supporter The Endeavor project has.  I am indebted.  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a snap from a hawk – (odd with Eagles around), and just an interesting shot I’ve been meaning to take on the road into Machias.

 

 

 

The moon is but a sliver and today has 29 seconds more daylight than yesterday, for which I’m thankful.  I am older and I’d like to think wiser.  I am truly grateful for all of the interest, hope you will share this Endeavor project and site with friends, “Like” us on Facebook, make a tax-deductible donation of any kind if you can (we are still challenged for the winter boat engine, winch, and supplies), and let us know of any companies and foundations that might be interested in supporting The Endeavor.  Most of all, I hope you enjoy it.  (Pics get bigger when you click on them).  Happy Holidays of all kinds, go back and watch the video, and “Good Enuf.”

 

 

 

 

 

Day 78  -  Monday, December 26,  2011

“Lighthouse Presence and Presents – A Post Christmas Post”

 

The catwalk that stretches the length of this great rock, spanning the distance from the “every ten-seconds” foghorn at the tip of the island’s ocean end, and going back to the Boathouse on the harbor side, is a solid 310 strides.  I count it almost every time I walk it.  It is made up of two sets of side by side and now weathered planking, totaling 48″ wide, and as it weaves and bobs, and rises and falls over this single hill-topped island, it is elevated anywhere from 6 to 30 inches.  This morning it is covered in a rich layer of “permafrost” – not particularly slippery but certainly iced-over.  As I make my way across, the frozen timbers snap and pop under my weight with the startling repetition of every single step, not unlike a child’s cap-gun.  The red squirrels and the field mice run for cover, darting to the left and right, scurrying for the safety of already dug holes and fallen evergreens, (some many years ago), and then the sudden flutter of sizable wings tells me a quail is now on alert, although I never saw it.  There are a couple of boats out today but most are done.  Some have converted their rigs to scalloping and others are simply dragging nets in hopes of a day that will bring in more money than it costs.  There is no doubt that I am truly surrounded by the most spectacular physical environment I have ever been blessed enough to be in (and I’ve been in a few)… but not without a price.  I often have to remind myself that I am not living in the suburbs of MA, or on Manhattan, or a sailboat in Mexico.  I am alone, and beyond that, I cannot come and go as I please.

A number of news outlets picked up this story yesterday including the Portland Press Herald, the Maine Telegram, the Bangor Daily News, WCSH and really??…  AP??!!  Wow!  This then got picked up all over the country, and in a number of countries globally.  I have received hundreds of emails wishing me a Merry Christmas (I am extremely grateful and hope to respond to all of you), and we had almost 1,500 people visit The Lighthouse Endeavor website just yesterday alone!  OK, that’s pretty amazing.  Thanks to everyone.  I hope you will share it with others, and continue to check back regularly.

As I think was proper, I had a Christmas Lobster dinner last night.  It was as usual, nothing short of perfect.  There is something truly unique about Cutler-caught Lobster, especially when kept in a bucket of seawater, and subsequently steamed in a large black pot of seawater.  I am convinced that this is different than most Lobster, and special.  “Ayup”.  “That’s right ole boy.”  And my Christmas breakfast was a bowl of Lucky Charms, and yes, they were “magically delicious”.  Below is a pic of some wood I found, just because I like it…

Of the many people I have “met” and now correspond with (which is a treasure), I was emailed a couple of weeks ago by a teenage girl who has my same unusual last name – Kitchen.  She was interested in The Endeavor project, but was also especially interested because her brother is also a huge lighthouse fan.  And they live within view of a lighthouse.  I “spoke” with their Mom online, just to make sure it was OK to chat with them, which it was, and I’ve had a number of convo’s with them both.  However, it wasn’t until this morning that I discovered that when weeks ago she had said she was from “The Cape”, she did not in fact mean Cape Cod, but actually Johannesburg, Cape Town, South Africa!  That’s where I’ve been talking to them, day in and day out.  That’s pretty wild.  And her brother has done what I think is a very interesting art project where he has photoshopped pics of lighthouses around the world, so that they are “blowing up”.  Those of you that know me know that I love “Blowed Up”.  Understand he really loves lighthouses and this is just an art project.  He’s done a bunch of them, probably 30 or 40, and maybe I’ll put up a link to them, but this shot will give you an idea – yes it’s Little River and he did this today.  He’s very talented.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went out across the island today to take some pictures, as I try to do every day.  The marshy ground to the south side sinks a good 8-12″ with every step.  Deceiving.  And even in this temperature the salty mixture of water and earth does not fully freeze, leading to a surprising plunge through frosty moss and grass into liquid that indeed covers the tops of your boots and often up to your ankles.  My feet are cold. But the light was glinty and nice making for some good pics, including this one of some teeny pine cones still clinging to a fir branch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s a completely random snap of a slug that somehow, impossibly found its way to the absolute middle of my kitchen floor the other night.  (Do you know the joke about the snail? – my favorite, but for another time).  I saved it of course, the slug I mean.

 

 

 

 

On a side note I have to mention my friends at 32 North, a Maine-based company that makes Stabil-icers, a rubber netting that you pull over your shoes that has spikes and treads on the bottom.  Without them, I could not walk on the catwalk (which is either up or down and almost never level), much less the sheet of ice that now seemingly permanently covers the dock and floats.  In truth, it would be very easy to slip into the icy water while trying to undo a dock line while the float is awash and rocking.   They are a truly amazing product and I recommend them highly.  They are great for the driveway and parking lots, you can drive in them, and even walk on the hardwood floors and not do any damage.  Thanks!  They give me a confidence and functionality I’m not sure I could function without.

 

 

I am hoping to get some audio/video up for the first time, in the next few days — A 40 second clip of the ocean crashing on the rocks, a 360 degree view, and the foghorn, so check back.  Also best wishes for Boxing Day, and Chanukkah Sameach (sixth day I think).  I truly appreciate all the interest and emails and hope that you’ll share this with others who you think might be interested, “Like” the Endeavor site on facebook, and make a donation of any kind if you can.  If you can’t, perhaps you know of a company that would be interested in supporting The Endeavor project, especially as we just need a few more logistic things to work out (an engine for the skiff, and a winch, more fuel and supplies for the winter, a fix for the pellet stove, a survival suit for me, etc.), and can soon begin to move into the educational phase of building out an incredibly unique platform for on-site and virtual learning, along with Lighthouse Preservation. (I think this pumpkin has had it’s day, now mushed and frozen on the front porch, saddled between laced timbers and driftwood – “Oh a lone pumpkin grew on a green pumpkin vine…”)

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my favorite snap of the day (click and it gets bigger), one of a few tidal pools that is nestled among the eastern rocks, shockingly about twenty feet above high water.  For the first time ever, I am now seeing it frozen.  Again, thanks to all for following.  Good Enuf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 76  -  Saturday,  December 24,  2011

“Careful What You Wish For, For Christmas”

 

 

 

Three and a half years ago I wished that I, or even someone, would be on this, the most northeastern island Lighthouse in the US, for Christmas, for the first time in 36 years.

At the time, and even a few weeks ago, I wished it would be me, and my ex-fiancee and her kids.  That was not to be.  But I am here.  And it is magical, if not incredibly hard.

This morning began with a meeting with Tim and Kathy (their dedication to this project often is better than mine), at the wharf at high water today.  It was “blowy” to say the least, and about 10 degrees.  The sea smoke was amazing, but the 1/2 mile catwalk to the Boathouse was iced over as was the  dock, floats, lines and boat.  Thankfully, I had these great things called Stabili-icers, which were donated by 32 North, a company here in Maine.  Wow!  they are amazing.  I could not have walked across the 1/3 mile catwalk without them, and certainly not “navigated” the dock.  If you have a need, they are great.

It was about 10 degrees this morning and the sea smoke was not only rampant on the windy water, but drifting across the front yard as well.  The pipes had held, under the downstairs bath as a result I guess of my insulating and heating, and seem to be continuing to hold, albeit it’s cold right now.  I decided to not buy a thermometer for indoors as I’m not sure I even want to know the temperature but it’s cold and I’m fully dressed in layers, even as I’ve gotten up from bed.  It’s 4:07 am.  (This is what I have come to call “Elphaba’s Island”, the island off to my south side, and a reference to the “bad witch” who I actually think was a Good Witch”.)

Being ever on the “vigil” I somehow heard the pellet stove go out and I got up.  It was then 3:30 am.

I met Tim and Kathy yesterday morning, who brought me some provisions from town along with a number of “presents from Santa”, which I will open tomorrow, under the very special Little River Light Christmas Tree.  How incredible.  They also brought me a few things to deliver to some of the local fishermen to thank them for their help over the last few months.  I am planning to bake some Lighthouse Cookies tomorrow and deliver them in the next few days to some others.  My driver’s side door on the car, and actually the entire lock system in the car was not working so I had to repeatedly climb in and out of the passenger side to go anywhere, I guess because of the temperature.  I dropped off a few packages and then decided to head into town for Lock De-Icer, a head wrap, and a few other things, knowing that what little is open here on a good day will not be open tomorrow.

While the Sea Smoke has been absent for most of the last six months I realize now that when the water is way warmer than the air (today), it is present.  Wow, it is one of the coolest natural phenomena I have ever seen.

I stopped at the PO and picked up a package from my cousins (wonderful including all sorts of treats, a “fisherman’s sweater” and a wonderful coat), and there were a surprising number of Christmas cards, many from people I don’t even really know, from not just around the country, but the world!   How wonderful and warming.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to do that.  It means more than you know.  And the global emails from people are truly amazing!  I thank you for your prayers, thoughts, wishes and general kind greetings.  It means so much to me to receive them.

 

I had two lobster that I was saving for Christmas.  One died for some reason and I cooked it right away.  Lobster salad for lunch?  And the other will be Christmas dinner.  The smell in the kitchen is not only recognizable but familiar and welcome.

I never expected to be spending Christmas alone on this island.  That was not the plan.  But I am.  It’s cold, but it’s spectacular in ways.   I look forward to working on the educational side of this, and wish everyone a very Happy Holiday.   Pics are better when you click on them, share and “like” on facebook if you can, make a tax-deductible donation of any kind, and I’m going back to sleep.  Good Enuf and Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 75  -  Friday, December 23,  2011

“Island Holiday”

 

 

Where to begin…It’s been a very consuming, challenging and hectic week on island.  Much has happened as winter has surely arrived, and I’ve been prepping for her.  (I prefer to think of winter as a “her” although I’m not entirely sure why as any kind of negotiation will find me compromised at best).  The week has been filled with “filming” more windows, banking parts of the foundation, cutting tree limbs, negotiating with frozen dock lines and icy floats, moving more pellets from the Boathouse to the cellar in the Keeper’s House, wrestling with the Hal Boat to get her out of the water for the season and in for some necessary engine repairs (and almost losing the Ilsa Lund in the process as the tide was coming in and she didn’t remain beached for long while we were trying to get the Hal boat on the trailer – Kathy calmly and heroically saved the day) and re-insulating the pipes in the crawlspace underneath the downstairs bath (where we had the frozen pipes last week).  I really don’t like going in there.  And they call it a crawlspace for a reason.  Even I have to squeeze through a small window and slither on my back over 150 year old dirt with a “miners” light on my head while spiders look at me curiously and tentatively hold their distance.  Other tasks included getting into town, buying supplies including a blender for protein shakes, bailing out the boat from either rain, waves or snow, sending emails, answering emails, sending out funding and sponsorship requests, sending thank you’s for donations, and the regular stuff that comes with running a home in challenging weather on the most northeastern lighthouse island in the US.  Oh, and continuing trials with the yet-to-run-right pellet stove even after making two more “fixes” to it this week.  It’s better but still not as it should be, although it does deliver a beautiful flame, warming the soul if not the body.  I am told we might be getting a replacement as I’m not the only one having these problems, but that won’t be until early January and even then I’m not sure how we get it onto the island as very few of the boats are still in the water and running.  And both tonight and tomorrow night it’s going to plummet to 5 degrees.  Yikes.

 

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were the shortest days of the year here with a sunrise of 7:00 am and a sunset of 3:52 pm, allowing for a mere 8 hours and 52 minutes of daylight –  out of 24.  On Sunday we’ll have “astronomical” tides which will swing almost 18 feet four times that day!  And that’s with only a quarter moon.  This is a special place for a lot of reasons.

 

 

Yesterday morning as I headed down to check on the Ilsa Lund I discovered we were losing another tree, or two.  A 45′ spruce that now guarded the periphery of the clearing formed by the stand of trees that went down on the catwalk two storms ago had snapped.  (I think this may be the start of a pattern; as more of a clearing develops the circling trees become increasingly vulnerable).  It was leaning heavily across a much younger and smaller yellow birch, clinging to its last vestige of stalwart pride.  I knew that the two of them would not last long.  And with the coming wet and weighty snow, today would probably be their last.

 

 

 

 

 

It was.

And no one heard it.

 

I will have to cut the top off with a hand-saw tomorrow and wait until Terry or someone can come out with the chainsaw (we don’t do any chainsaw work on the island without someone else here too).  Or maybe it will just wait till spring.

 

I got almost an inch of snow today, or at least water that was determined to come down as snow, at any cost, and just barely succeeded.  It was again beautiful.  When I first came here three and a half years ago I dreamed then that I would one day be here when it snowed.  I am.  I do look forward to a “big” snow though.

Just some other notes –  I’ve had several seal visits this week.  Right off the dock.  They will float there, with their head out of the water and their eyes staring intently at you, and look at you, and listen to you for fifteen minutes at a time.  And the eagles have made a number of appearances right over my head, although never at such a time when I am able to snap a shot.  I have received several “care packages” in the mail for which I am extremely grateful, and we got our water test results back from the EPA and for the first time in decades it was determined that the water is safe to drink before it goes through the filters, (still smells of sulfur though).  The island Christmas Tree in the living room is truly beautiful and the lights on the Tower gallery paint her in a light I have only imagined.  (The shot below is the walk I make every time, to and from the harbor water, on Norb’s Farris Wharf.  I just got here.)

 

Went into the Village today to check the PO, get some provisions at A2Z (the roads got pretty bad just out of Cutler and while I had wanted to make the trip into Machias it would have taken too long, and been too dangerous).  I also wanted to catch up with the remaining fishermen who went out today and wish them a Merry Christmas.  One of them gave me Christmas dinner, which now sits in a 5 gallon bucket of seawater on the porch, waiting to be my goose.

 

I hope that by the first week of January I can feel comfortable that our winter logistics are resolved and can finally turn my attention to the educational development side of The Endeavor, as well as grant and sponsorship funding.  We never intended to be able to launch that part of the program until then but still I’m anxious to get started in earnest.  We still need to purchase an engine for the donated skiff, figure out the electrical issues  and purchase some additional supplies and provisions like batteries and fuel.  All donations are tax-deductible and come with varying “thank you’s”.  Please “Like” The Endeavor on facebook and share this with friends.  Here are a few more snaps from the day – my favorite is the last one of the “Floating Traps” -  and not ‘shopped btw.  (click on them and they get bigger).  Happy Holidays to you and yours… and Good Enuf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 71  -  Monday, December 19,  2011

“Fire & Ice, and Astronauts”

 

 

 

 

 

I never thought I’d consider 52 degrees “Balmy“.  I do now.  It’s warmed up a lot and it’s now 52.

Inside.

Outside I began the day with surprisingly calm seas and relatively blue skies, a once-again empty house, the fishermen that remain out, (out by 4am due to the expected gale force winds around noon), a catwalk covered in a frosting of crystallized ice (rendering the John Deere tractor inoperable), and boat lines frozen to their cleats; a whitish mix of frozen salt and water in ant-like lines across the worn planks that make up the two, shingle-covered, 16×20′ floats that allow the finger of a dock to grant me access for half the tidal window.  That means six hours when high water is at noon, which only happens about once a month.  And not today.  Most days I have a mere three hours…and they’re rarely convenient.  Some days I have none.

I spent the morning first in the cellar, checking the pipes of the downstairs bath  (which were still being heated in a dedicated way and had fortuitously held liquid throughout the night), and wrestling once again with the pellet stove –  vacuuming, scraping and attempting a fourth and self-initiated “fix”.  It seems to have helped but certainly not fixed it.  I will know better by tomorrow.

I would be able to leave the island at 1:30 pm if the winds would hold.  At exactly noon they, and the sea started to pick up.  At 1:30 I was on the other side of the island at the Boathouse and it was a judgement call.  I felt safe.  I really only wanted to run into the Post Office to pick up a few Christmas/Care Package boxes from my Mom, but the issue is never the driving — it’s being on the water.  I decided it was safe but ran between the abandoned and floating salmon pens and the craggy shoreline, piloting my 14′ aluminum “Hardy Boys”/”Ilsa Lund” boat into shore, just to increase my odds, if only marginally.  Arriving at the now seasonally busy dock, it was a highly orchestrated and well-known assembly of activity as a lobster boat was unloading for the last time not lobsters, but traps, gear and balloons (before dropping them into the water again, three months from now).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only one box from my Mom was there and not the promised “electric blanket”.  “Guaranteed Overnight Delivery” to Cutler means three days.  No fault of the people that work here.  They’re great.  It’s just so remote here.  It’s overnight to Maine maybe.  And then two days to the Cutler PO.  And then maybe, or maybe not, a couple of days for me to be able to get off island and actually get there.  There were also two other boxes, one from a friend and one from someone who has been following The Endeavor.  How incredibly thoughtful.  I am grateful.  They contained gloves with conductivity fingertips so you can use them on a mobile or tablet device, foodstuffs, fun stuff, art and craft supplies, healthy stuff and just plain staples.  Thank you.  Oh and my Mom sent me TANG.  Now I haven’t had TANG since I was a kid and I clearly remember that that’s “what the astronauts drink”.  This had to be one of the earliest product placement initiatives ever!  I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning.  “Rocket Man”…

 

 

 

 

So a few special notes -  There’s a tradition up here, in New England, of piling pulled lobster traps into the shape of a tree, adorning them with buoys, and lighting the whole thing, and that has turned into a competition in some parts.  I’ve seen the one in the square in Provincetown, MA.  And others kind of randomly while traveling.  Here’s a link to an interesting story in the NY Times about that, along with a drive-by pic of one here in Cutler Village.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/18/us/new-england-asks-who-has-fairest-lobster-trap-tree-of-all.html?_r=1

I also came across a story that’s especially relevant if you might find yourself in Deluth, MN over the next couple of months.  For the second year in a row they are opening an Ice Bar, this year three times the size, and this year the theme is lighthouses!  Between that and Farmville’s Lighthouse Cove, lighthouses are beginning to look like “The New Black”.  It’s worth a look, particularly if you haven’t seen one.  Here’s the link:

http://www.wdio.com/article/stories/S2419265.shtml?cat=10335

Now the coolest thing that happened today was hot; Fireman Hot.  Tim and Kathy were in the grocery store on Sunday and they run into an acquaintance who’s a fireman at the only full-time Fire Department around.  It’s part of the Cutler Naval Base as I understand it but I will probably have to make some corrections here tomorrow.  Anyway the important part is is that he went up to them and said “I’ve been reading The Keeper’s Journal everyday” and handed them a donation.  Now that’s just more great support, inspiring to know, and a very very special thing.  Thanks “Bravest”.

As always, thanks for reading, share and “Like”.  Good Enuf.

Day 70  -  Sunday, December 18,  2011

“Pipes and Smoke”

It was the coldest night it’s been here yet.  I’m sure it went down to close to 10 degrees F.  This Keeper’s House has no insulation.  Not in the walls, the floors or the ceiling.  And if you’ve been following you know, the pellet stove throws very little heat as it continues to run improperly, and that leaves a few space heaters.  I slept with all my layers of clothes on, and a hat, underneath a sheet and three blankets.  And I’m usually warm lying down, under the covers, in bed.

It was colder when I got out of bed around seven this morning, but at least I was already dressed.

Jerry was up and at work on the HAM radio in the makeshift Comm Center we set up yesterday in the living room.  Wires, tubes, outlets, battery, headphones and a component that looked like a stereo receiver from the 70′s, albeit a high end one.  As part of the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society’s annual global lights event, he was broadcasting and communicating with individuals and other lighthouses around the world, from this, the most northeastern island lighthouse in the US.  Today he was on the radio with Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Norway, France, Spain and I’m sure many others, plus people in the US and Canada.  I’ll have a full report in the next few days.  Oh, and a correction from yesterday’s entry – Our US Islands Lighthouse designation is ME096S for Maine, not NE for name, as I reported.  Also, you can go to www.illw.net for more info.  It was fascinating and he’s an interesting and kind man.  I really enjoyed having him as a guest and hearing his stories of sailing into Cuba and his trying to explain to me exactly how this whole process was working, mathematically.  Really?  Someone’s talking to you from Spain with a power of only 5 watts???  Thanks Jerry, for coming up and being interested, and Tim and Kathy for taking two hours out of your day to be cold and help unload gear.  (Here he is doing Morse code).

 

 

 

I also had a visit from the Executive Director of the American Lighthouse Foundation, Bob Trapani Jr. and his wife Ann.  They made the three hour drive each way from Rockland just to come up for an hour and a half, for a brief holiday visit and check-in.  They brought homemade cookies and a couple of books for me to read, and took lots of pictures.  They are quite excellent snappers and I look forward to seeing some of their shots of the island.  We talked about the logistic challenges The Endeavor still faces and we’re very excited to be developing a strong partnership.  And he’s trying to get a survival suit donated for me, for which my family will be extremely grateful.  :)   (Here’s a pic by Ann of Bob and me, and one by Bob of me and Ann – I’m cold.)

 

 

I also got a surprise skype call from a bunch of my cousins, some of whom I hadn’t spoken to in years, from a Christmas reunion they were having in California.  Now that was special, although I sort of felt like I was at Ice Station Zebra, or maybe off in space.  But wonderful that they called and even better that they were together.

So where do the “Pipes and Smoke” come in?  Shortly after a cup of coffee and some greek yogurt with granola this morning I headed into the downstairs bath and upon turning on the water in the sink…nothing.  First cold, then hot.  I turned to the shower which frankly doesn’t do much more than sprinkle and nothing there either.  I knew immediately this was bad — the pipes underneath the bath were frozen.  You see at some point that bath was an addition and sits not over the full cellar but a crawl space.  And one from which you can see daylight through the foundation and takes unusual maneuvering to access through a  hole the size of a small garage window, sans the glass.  If I had a chance of remedying this before what would be a disastrous breaking of the pipes I had to move fast.  Extension cords that didn’t work, breakers that wouldn’t support the load of two heaters, battery operated fans, scrambling to move the kitchen heater into the small entryway into the dark and cold crawlspace, further banking the outside foundation wall in an attempt to seal the leaks, and contorting into all sorts of positions while wearing a headlamp and trying to determine the best way to hopefully salvage the situation.  I finally got the heater in, and the fan and went upstairs to boil water to pour down the sink drain.  Clearly I was trying everything.

About an hour after all of that I heard the shower come on as I had left the faucet open.  Slowly, then more fully…well at least as powerful as it gets.  About a half hour later the hot faucet in the sink began to drip, then trickle, then run.  Maybe another 45 minutes after that the cold water went through the same routine.  I turned everything off and went back into the crawl space to check for leaks.  There do not appear to be any.  As of 10pm tonight the heater remains on and the pipes seem OK.  However it’s already 10 degrees.  I really do look forward to getting the logistics and a bit more funding worked out so I can really concentrate on the enormous educational potential The Endeavor has.

As for the smoke, for the first time since the summer there was what’s called up he-ah Sea Smoke.  It usually happens in the spring and summer when the air is warmer than the water and this crazy, highly defined (unlike fog), Stephen King-like “smoke” swirls and flames across the surface of the sea.  It’s pretty wild looking.  In fact, it’s very graceful although clearly not wispy but purposeful.  Well, apparently it can happen when the air is much colder than the water too, as it did this morning.  I’m not fully sure why it forms, moves and dances like it does but I will have to find out.  I hope you enjoy this snap.  Pics get bigger when you click on them.  Sharing and “Liking” is Helping. Thanks and Good Enuf.

 

 

 

 

Day 69  -  Saturday, December 17,  2011

“A Christmas Ham”

I rose around 6:30 this morning to a calmer sea and a lot of chatter on the VHF radio.  Many of the lobstermen were out, making runs to and from the harbor, bringing in their traps.  Some are already done, some finished today, and some still have a bunch out.  Their final catch is lean and today it was cold.  In fact, by around 11am it snowed pretty heavily, just enough to stick on the ground, docks and catwalk, then vanished almost as quickly.  And yes, they spoke of the snow, and how that’s the last thing they needed.  Nobody enjoys being out on the water right now, especially if they’re not making any money.

I left the island at noon and it occurred to me that the was the first time I’ve been on a boat while it was snowing.  It was quite striking, the beauty of “snow falling on cedars” if you will, and across the expanse of the harbor.  I was headed in to the Cutler Village boat ramp to meet Jerry Metz, a HAM radio operator, sailor, Mainer, world traveler, and lighthouse fan who I was bringing on island so that he could set up “shop” as part of the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society’s annual global lighthouse event.  Now there’s some differing opinions as to the origin of the word “HAM”, but suffice it to say that in there is “AMateur” as in amateur radio operator.  I have to say I find it fascinating.  There was a couple hundred pounds of gear (otherwise he packed very light), including a large folded antenna structure and a 55lb battery to run all the equipment.  We returned to the island (Tim helped us load the boat in a rising tide), got the gear across, and he set about assembling this and that, checking readings, changing antenna focus, running all sorts of cables through the window into the living room, while the radio made all those funny sounds that old radios used to make.  Within two hours he was on the air.

In a mere couple of hours he had made contact with a third of the states in the US and with others in Canada, Brazil, El Salvador and South Africa!  OK, that’s pretty amazing.  All with the power of a deep-cycle battery and some aluminum tubes and wires.  He’s expecting to have a lot of European conversations tomorrow morning.  And some of these contacts today were other lighthouses.  Every lighthouse has a designation and Little River Light is USA442 from the ARLHS, and NE096S from the US Islands group.  (NE stands for name, 096 means we were the 96th light added to the list, and S means we’re on the sea and not a lake, river or bay.  All in all unbelievably interesting and I look forward to more tomorrow.  (Jerry set up in the living room pic below).

I cleaned the still under-performing pellet stove and a bunch of things in the house, moved the genny into the Tower, got some more bags of pellets into the cellar and helped Jerry get set up.  I also put ornaments on the tree, strung some additional lights along the hand rail, and put up the lights that Tim and Kathy had brought to me along the gallery/catwalk railing outside the top of the tower.  I was unaware as to when the last time a tree was in this house but Bob Kord, who is widely regarded as the Cutler Village historian emailed me — it was 36 years ago in 1975, when a family lived here for two years having leased it from the University of Maine, who had it on some kind of loan from the Coast Guard.  They had a tree, and lights and all that stuff.  (U of Maine subsequently decided to not go forward with that project, everything reverted back to the Coast Guard, and it became an automated and vacant station until the restoration and opening in 2006.)  Thanks Bob!

On an historical note, on this date in 1928 the 25th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight was celebrated.  Interesting because in attendance was William J. Tate, the Lightkeeper at Currituck Sounds Lights, with whom the Wright Brothers first boarded, and whose wife lent them her sewing machine to make sateen wing covers.  They also assembled their first experimental glider in the front yard.  Additionally, in 1920, Tate became the first man to make an inspection of lighthouses by airplane.  Cool right?

Thanks to all who have checked in and shared this.  Since November 20th, we have had close to 700 unique visitors and over 1,300 total visits!  And we’re growing, as yesterday was our best day yet.  Please make any kind of tax-deductible donation you can, share this site with friends, “Like” us on facebook, and enjoy your holidays.  Oh and it’s about 15 degrees out right now.  Hope you like the pics.  Click on them and they get bigger.  I’ll leave the light on and “Good enuf”.  Here’s the Keeper’s House and Tower in lights.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 68  -  Friday, December 16,  2011

“A Little River Christmas Tree”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first Christmas tree in Little River Lighthouse in forty to fifty years!  We’re not sure exactly when the last one was up, maybe longer, but I suspect from 1864 to somewhere in the 1950′s – 60′s or so there was a tree.  This was always a “family” run light station with lots of kids so I suspect Christmas was always a big deal, even if Santa was only bringing a single toy for all to share and if they were lucky, everyone got a new pair of socks.  And there are certainly no shortage of evergreens on the island.  I know the spirit of this house is happy.  I’m certain it wondered if there would ever be a tree in here again.  And even if it is a little bit of a “Charlie Brown” tree, it’s very very special.  I intend to put the ornaments on it Saturday and maybe even lights on the tower.  We’re not sure that that ever happened.

I got the wheels, stand and handle on the new generator, filled it with oil and gas and fired it up, just to test it.  Runs like a charm and I’m sure glad something here does, as the pellet stove continues to work poorly at best, and I continue to try to not run any other heaters until we find out what’s going on with the ridiculous electric bill.  Fortunately it hasn’t been below 20 degrees, yet, but it will this coming week.  I’ve gotten used to wearing long underwear and about seven layers, even in bed.  This house has zero insulation in the walls although it is sturdy and well built.  Again, there are some things that have changed, internet (thanks Axiom), skype, the genny, etc. but many things have not – no mobile phone, no cable, a challenging water supply, rough weather, and a lack of solid heat. Nonetheless it’s a very special place.

 

 

 

 

 

I was hoping to get the HAM radio guy out here this afternoon with over 200 lbs of equipment, batteries, antennas and such but at noon it was still raging on the harbor side and showed no signs of calming.  I had no choice but to reach out to Tim and Kathy, have them call him and postpone in hopes that tomorrow is better.  It was just too dangerous to get out on the water.  (Heck, it was dicey just standing on the dock and bailing the Ilsa Lund boat as waves were literally washing over the floats.)  As I mentioned earlier he’s coming out here as part of a global HAM radio lighthouse event and will be (hopefully) broadcasting all over the world from this, the most northeastern island lighthouse in the US.  You have to admit that’s pretty cool and I’m really looking forward to it.

Yesterday I found one of the best pieces of wood yet, (there are lots of treasures on this island in the way of rocks, wood, discarded items from years ago and flotsam that somehow finds its way to these shores).  This piece is flat-bottomed and about 5 inches tall and reminds me of a wave.

 

 

 

 

 

No fishermen went out again today as it remained incredibly rough.  As I’ve explained, they’re all finishing up bringing in their traps and I’m sure those that still have a bunch out there are hoping for some better weather and tides between now and Christmas.  I will miss watching them come and go through the east and west passages, as well as their both informative and often entertaining chatter on the radio.  “All right ole boy”, “okey dokey dokey” “Ayup” and all that vernacular that is particular to Maine.

Late in the afternoon the clouds out over the Bold Coast and Grand Manan Canada got particularly interesting and I snagged a snap.  Hope you like it.

 

 

 

 

 

As always, thanks for checking in and thanks to all of you who have reached out lately.  It means a lot.  It is more challenging than I anticipated.  I also appreciate the donations and support, especially at this time of year.  Every little bit helps right now as we have a few remaining “big ticket” items necessary for the Endeavor project to carry into the winter including a motor for the skiff, a winch, a dry suit/survival suit for me to get on and off the island in, an ample supply of fuel, and additional provisions.  Every donation is 501c3 tax deductible and comes with a nice gift.  Click on the pictures to make them bigger and I’ll be back with another Keeper’s Journal entry tomorrow.  Oh, and please “like” us on facebook (button on top of page) and share this site with friends.  Thanks and “Good Enuf”.

Day 67  -  Thursday, December 15,  2011

 

It’s 3:30pm and it’s dark.  That’s the price you pay for the earliest sunrise.  The sea has been a steely grey, cobblestone cold since sunrise.  I say since sunrise and not “since I woke up” cause I didn’t sleep last night.  More on that in a minute.

I have spent many months here over the last three years.  Never however in December.  In fact, no one has spent a December on this island in at least forty years, and frankly, no one has spent a December here alone, ever.

At first I was going to describe the ocean as “mean”.  I’ve rethought that.  She’s not.  She’s purposeful, powerful, undeterred and unrelenting.

I’ve never ever seen her quite like this.

The wind is oddly from the south, so the waves are running right to left across the “front yard”.  That means they’re not so much “crashing”, just going by, and crashing mightily along the “Bold Coast”, about a mile to the left.  In fact, as they hit the rock ledges over there they spray up what looks to be at least one hundred feet in the air.  If you’ve been here you know how spectacular that is, even from a great distance.  Nonetheless, as they pass by here they are the biggest rollers I have seen to date.  I mean seriously big.  And I have already been through some real storms.

It’s raining a bit, on and off, and frankly it’s mild.  35-40 degrees.  Although when the house is 50 degrees that’s not much consolation.  The wind is mighty and the windows, despite my trying to tighten them with wooden matchsticks still rattle in this wind.  Some of them anyway.  I just came back from walking across the island to the Boathouse to check on things down there and except for a little bailing of the “Ilsa Lund”, everything is “okey dokey” as they say up here.  But it’s mad windy, no ’bout a doubt it, blow you right off the dock windy if you’re not holding on.

So as for last night.  I’ve had nothin’ but trouble with the pellet stove since we installed it several weeks ago.  And last night was the worst.  I went to sleep at around 11 and woke up at 1am with a house filled with smoke.  The stove had overflowed/overfilled, and the pellets outside the burn pot were aflame, and somehow smoke was coming out.  It says in the manual NOT to unplug it to turn it off so I proceeded to wrestle with it for the next five hours, not being able to turn it off with the switch, and not being able to make it work right.  And while it’s not zero degrees outside, at 20 the house is 30.  Cold.

EBS, the company we bought it from is working on it and I hope they can come up with a solution.  Apparently this is the case with all of these particular stoves, made by a company that goes under several names including Golden Eagle, US Stove and Brickwell.  The detectors in the house were all going off, some “woman” repeatedly saying “Carbon Monoxide Danger” and beeping every 45 seconds while I kept doors and windows open in the middle of the night.  Needless to say it was not fun.  I am hoping to hear back from EBS later today with a solution.   Maybe the Coast Guard will helicopter a new stove out as I’m not sure how we even get one out here at this point.

On a brighter note, (npi), the tree is fully lit and just has to be decorated.  Maybe tonight.  I bought wrapping paper for (fake) boxes to put under the tree and Tim and Kathy bought me  lights to try to hang on the gallery/catwalk railing of the Tower (just too windy right now).  No fishermen went out today as it was way too rough and some of them actually have all their traps in.  Those that don’t would just assume leave them in.  It’s a very very tough way to make a living and I am in awe and inspired by them.  Workers.  Hard workers.

 

 

 

 

 

A gentleman who is a big Ham Radio Operator is supposed to show up tomorrow am on the village dock to spend three days here for a big global Ham event at 8:30 tomorrow morning but I don’t think that’s going to happen.  Our contingency plan is for Saturday.  I’ll keep you posted on that.  In the meantime, the wind has picked up even more and this house is actually rockin’, although not in the way many of you might like to think, or I would like.

Thanks for all the outreach, emails and posts.  We are still in desperate need of a small amount of donations/funding so every $25 helps, and you definitely get something cool (besides a tax deduction) for whatever you give.  Give a bunch and you get to stay here.  Please share this with others you think will enjoy it and “like” us on facebook.  I’ll keep the light on for you.  And “Good Enuf”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 64  -  Monday, December 12, 2011

“Officially Lost”

Due to technical difficulties, of which there are many on this island, my post from yesterday is “officially lost”.   I apologize.  Part of the challenges of being here I guess.  So I am writing a new one.

I went into town, Machias, to go to EBS Hardware to pick up some more lights for the tree, the Dollar Store to pick up some wrapping paper for Christmas presents, Hannaford’s for some provisions, and Axiom, for a new wifi router.  At Axiom,  my tech guy told me he is actually the great grand-son on one of the Morong’s, who were Keeper’s here many years ago.  At Hannaford’s, the bagger girl, looking at my Little River Light hat asked me if I am on this island.  I said yes and she said “cool”.  “I grew up on an island, Cranberry Island”.  It’s all funny, right?

As I have mentioned, all the fishermen are bringing in their traps.  One of them has built them up into a lobster trap Christmas tree, which I stopped along the road into Cutler to take a picture of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also stopped at A2Z and caught up with Adam, where I got a propane heater (still needs a hose and tank), along with an unbelievably cool metal float that he found on this island when he and Joanie where here for their honeymoon.  He gave it back.  It’s a sphere of course, and for some reason, I love spheres.  I used to think it was just globes I liked but it is in fact spheres.  It’s a magical, God-like shape. This one is about the size of a bowling ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots more to do.  More on “today’s” post.  So check back in.  Thanks for reading, donations are needed and tax deductible (for the end of this year if you are lucky enough to need them), share this site with friends and click on pics to make them bigger.  Good enuf.

Day 63  -  Sunday,  December 11,  2011

“Cuts, Chops, Snaps and Sap”

My hands, and this Keeper’s House, now smell resonantly of sap.  Or maybe it’s called “pitch”.  But it’s a wonderful smell.  Pine, as most of us call it.  Reminds me of Christmas and the Holidays, but I’ll get back to that in a minute.  (This pic is some crazy eye hook I discovered today embedded in the rocks, on the ESE side of the island.)

 

This morning we were trying to get the new and necessary generator out to the island, and I have to say it was “blowy”.  Now I’m beginning to learn the lingo and “blowy” is short of “breezy” and very short of “windy”.  I’m pretty sure now that “windy” is a hurricane or at least a bad nor’easter at a sustained 90 kts.  So, so fa-ah, I’ve only seen blowy and breezy.

Tim and Kathy, as usual came down to the village and tried to start the Hal boat, with which engine we have had a bunch of problems.  As one fisherman told me, “All outboard engines “su*#”.  Yes they do.  Except the engine on the newly christened  “Ilsa Lund” rocks!  Every time.  Anyway, no luck and in steps Patrick Hallisey, Captain of the  F/V “Mandy Jean“, (I’m going to do a glossary but in the meatime F/V means “fishing vessel, as S/V means sailing vessle) along with Trevor (F/V Miss Behavin’) who offer to help in the way of putting the 200 lb genny (generator) on board and out to the island.  Helping was his crew, along with Terry Rowden (as usual), Tim and Kathy (also as usual), and Jim Sherman, a FLRL (Friends of Little River Light) volunteer.  They loaded her on board and brought her out to the (still in place) floats and docks, which I am thankful for.  They actually have withstood two pretty good “blowas” over the last few weeks so maybe we leave them in.

How these guys can maneuver a boat that size, to a dock this size, in crazy winds and sea befuddles me.  And I can run a boat, and a sailboat.  Simply amazing.  Then, they leave the helm and work on deck, and the boat just stays there.  Crazy.

 

 

 

We got the genny on the floats, then onto a hand-truck, then up past the Boathouse, then onto the trailer, and they were off in a flash as these guys are now truly trying to haul in their traps, when the weather works, even on a Sunday.  Most of them, if they have the (only in Maine) 800 limit, still have about 400-500 traps out.  That’s a lot.  But the season is over.  And some will turn to scalloping, which is way hard, but is bringing in a $12/lb dock price – which is better than the lobster price, which they always get “screwed” on at the end of the season.

I brought the tractor back up, after running into town for some minor provisions and loading them onboard, and offloading them ashore.  Hmmm.  How to get the generator off the trailer.  I think I have it figured out but had to wait till tomorrow.

Worked on the pellet stove again having picked up the sixth “fix” for it.  Didn’t get to the new one but will tomorrow.  It’s running better but still not the way it should.  Tim and Kathy bought some lights for the tower gallery railing which I hope to put on tomorrow, as well as some other illuminations.  I headed out about the island, staying fairly close by the Keeper’s House, in search of the first Christmas Tree to be planted here, in this living room, in 50 years.  There is an abundance of evergreens on this island.  I have since learned that the “umbrella” term is “evergreens”,  of which you have pine, fir, spruce, hemlock and what I didn’t know, rainforest plants.  And there are endless varieties of each of those.  Well I walked and walked around the ground, which was both compacting and crunching with every step I took as it was about 24 degrees but wet underneath, looking for this special tree.  The first tree.  In fifty years.   In a house that must have had a tree from 1847 to 1950.  Below…what’s this crazy tiny red berry doing here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found her.  The tree.  She’s not perfect, but she’s special, as I think all women are.  And in truth, some are not more special than others, but more suited to you than others, and they you.  After much looking around, I chose her.  To be the one.  She’s a bit of a “Charlie Brown” tree but she’s the first, here, for me.  And with all her flaws, she’s pretty darn spectacular.  In fact, she’s only half a tree…and not half horizontally cut, but vertically cut.  This is as a result of the fact that all the trees here are not “nurseried”, but wildly grown.  And they seem to grow in groups.  So this tree is almost flat on one side and full on the other.  I’m thinking this is a great innovation as most people want to put their tree up against a wall or window, and with this design it works perfectly!  I have to look into this more.  Very fascinating concept.   Could sell half trees, quarter trees, three quarter trees.  There’s definitely an opportunity here to change the Christmas tree industry I think…Oh and the tree is eleven years old.  Or as I’d like to say, she’s “‘Leven”.

 

 

 

 

 

In the process of the search I found some great pieces of wood, and a rock, and these particular evergreens just laden with pine cones.  They were on the south side of the island and as such were catching the very glinty light of the setting sun.  I love “glinty” light.  You only get it in the early morning and the late evening.  But somehow it makes snaps just that much more special.

 

 

 

 

Oh and on the VHF Channel 13 radio this morning one Captain was telling another that he just hit a deer.  Not uncommon in these parts, except when you’re on a boat.  Ayup, it must have either wandered into the water (not uncommon for them to swim btw), or fallen, but the water is crazy cold and no man or beast can survive it for long.  (I think about that every time I get in the boat…).  So yeah, he hit a floating, dead, deer, miles from shore.  (Sorry, no pic)  And they all continue to bring their traps in, not empty, but not with enough to cover their cost.  A tough but noble living certainly.

The moon was spectacular tonight, even just past full.  We all have tried to take pics of the moon and they never turn out quite as they look.  The moon often looks like a dot instead of the grand, voluminous, orange sphere that your eye, and your heart sees.  But here’s a decent snap from a point and shoot, which is all I use actually.   Hope you like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s cold in the house, warm in my heart, and I’m trying to run as little electricity as possible until we get this power problem/mystery worked out.  It hovered between 20 and 30 today, but was often “blowy”.  I will have lots more on the tree, and lights, hopefully tomorrow.  And we’re hoping to get a 12 foot wreath donated from one of the wreath companies up here to hang off the tower.  Will keep you posted.

Thanks for following, “like” us on fb if you haven’t already, share with others who you think might be interested, make a donation if you can, of any kind (it’s fully 501c3 tax-deductible and you’ll get a nice prize in return), and if you click on the pics they get bigger.  See ya’ tomorrow.  Good Enuf.

And there’s a toasty fire in the “fireplace”, lights on the tree, and yes, I left the “light” on for you…lyb

Day 62  -  Saturday, December 10, 2011

“Dinner Parties and Yule ‘Tides’ “

Last night it blew pretty stiff and rained pretty hard from about midnight till 3am.  The windows rattled, albeit less so after I came up with the idea of strategically placing wooden match sticks in and around them and each other, as well as their casings.  It holds them much tighter, and as a result, keeps it both quieter and warmer.

The radio chatter started late today, around 6am, as it’s doing more and more as the lobstering season comes to a close.  The first I heard was a Skipper inquiring for all that may have been listening to hear… “Hey!  Where is everybody?”.  There was no response and while I’m sure I was not the only one that heard it, the radio was silent.  He was the first on the water.  It was shortly thereafter that I heard another Skipper reach out to him, to which he replied “I just turned around and am headed back.  The Ocean’s no good today.”

The wind had died but the swells were considerable and this time of year, most of them would just assume leave the traps in another day.  Maybe forever.

I started with breakfast followed by a shower.  I have come to say that I don’t take a shower until I smell worse than the water.  Now in truth, it doesn’t smell that bad.  (Nor do I.)  It just has a definitive sulfur aroma, especially at the beginning.  Today I decided to take it in the upstairs bath as I recall it having slightly better pressure, which turned out to be true.  I continued on to another day of emails, outreach, pellets moved to the cellar, another window “filmed” for insulation, and finally completed the wrapping of the hot water heater in a special “blanket”.  Oh and did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen and put yesterday’s now dry clothes that were hanging about the house in their drawers and closet.  Another long day.

Not entirely randomly, here’s a pic of one of the most famous US lightships, The Portsmouth, from my treasured state of Virginia.  She was built in 1915, served 45 years in I think VA, DE and MA, and achieved National Landmark status in 1989.  These guys just made “mobile” lighthouses and would anchor serving months at a time.  This is a model that Tim and Kathy own, that I asked for as I thought it would be perfect atop the pellet stove.  And below is the link to their historic site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.portsnavalmuseums.com/about_lightship.html

Tim, Kathy and hopefully another volunteer will meet me at the boat ramp tomorrow at a bit after 10am to try to get the generator out to the island.  Still have tremendous challenges ahead primarily with electrical issue and some small additional funding.  If you know of someone who can help, please pass this along.

Oh, and as for the dinner invites…i actually had two for tonight – a rarity since I think I have only two since I started The Endeavor — one an annual Christmas party here in the village that I would have loved to attend, and the other with the CEO of one of our corporate partners, which I would have also loved to attend and always find deeply engaging.  In neither case however, due to low tide being at 4:40pm, was I able to get off the island in time.  Yule “Tides”.

And even the most beautiful place in the world can turn suddenly sad and lonely.  For many reasons.

But I’ll leave you with a happy snap that my friend Sean (Blue) Harris took on his most recent trip up here.  He is an extreme filmmaker working on a project with us that I hope to start sharing with you.  He took this in October.  If you look closely you can see what I think is The Sisters constellation in the lower right corner, but I’m not entirely sure.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading, “like” us on fb, pics get bigger when you click on them, and share this.  Good enuf.

 

Day 61  -  Friday, December 9,  2011

“Lines, Lines, Lines”

Electrical power lines.  Boat lines.  Pellet stove gasket lines.  Laundry lines.  I even had an old fraternity brother, Bob “Bucky” Baumler, reach out to me on fb and share a few lines from his still present sense of humor.  I think the only lines I didn’t deal with today were lines with people in them.

 

 

 

Bangor Hydro came out and met Tim and Kathy at the pole in the Village at 9am to see if our problem stems from the meter and not something on the island.  As stated earlier, for some reason about 8 weeks ago we started using almost four times the amount of electricity.  We have been unable to figure it out and were hoping it was the meter.  The technician ultimately said no after we again went through the routine of each side of us on the VHF, turning breakers in the cellar on and off and onshore reading the meter.  Unfortunately, that’s all Bangor Hydro is willing to do.  We have had to take over electric from the US Coast Guard, for the first time, and obviously can’t afford a $650 a month electric bill.  Our next step will be try to get an electrician out to the island and see if they can’t figure out what’s going on.  None of it makes any sense.

Tim and Kathy delivered two packages for me which were supposed to be pellet stove fix number two and three.  I determined that neither of them (gasket lines) were right after spending two hours on the phone with the stove company (most of it on hold).  I gave the stove a thorough cleaning though, with the new filter for the shop vac installed, and the whole process involved almost four hours.  Ugh.

Had to re-run some boat lines as the wind picked up to at least the “breezy” mode, as they say here.  I’m not sure what “windy” is going to be like if this is “breezy”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did a load of laundry as it was reasonably nice and above freezing.  Hung it out on the line and got things almost dry.  Always smells so good line drying outside – a hint of salt mixed with a touch of bleach.  I think it must remind me of my childhood but I’m not sure.  Had to bring them in at dusk (3:30pm) and drape them over chairs and lay socks and stuff out on the  bed, etc.  I suspect they used to have some kind of line set up inside the Keeper’s House in the past, during the winter months.  Also continued to bring pellets up to the house and figure I am down to less than a ton in the Boathouse.  I look forward to getting the remaining logistics (primarily skiff engine, generator, winch, a back-up router, long-term provisions, and a bit more funding for electric, fuel, batteries, all kinds of little stuff, etc.) so I can finally really focus on the education platform and outreach part of The Endeavor.

On a side note,  Cutler being one of the most beautiful lobstering harbors in the world, I was forwarded this story by my Dad – apparently 20 years following “The Perfect Storm”, a woman found a lobster trap tag on the shores of Ireland, with the name of one of the fishermen from Boston who in 1991 lost all of his traps.  That’s pretty nuts when you really think about it.  Here’s a link to the story:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2011/12/03/perfect-storm-debris-floated-ireland/gPnuqdRU8hwMDBsn8k3rHM/story.html

Oh yeah, and one of those tiny red squirrels popped up on top of the grill (which is on the back porch outside the kitchen) this morning while I was having breakfast.  Sat there and just looked at me for a while and then darted off like a gremlin.  They’re tough to get a photo of.

Thanks for checkin’ in.  Please “like” us on facebook, share this with friends, and donate something if you can.  Here’s just a neat shot from the wharf.  Good ahnuf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 60  – Thursday,  December 8, 2011

“A Keeper’s Day…”

I can’t believe it is Day 60.  There have been so many days that those of us behind this project have wondered if we could get it past “tomorrow”.  Wow.  We have.  With the efforts of many. However we still have some significant hurdles to leap, mostly being on the funding side.  The generator arrived, the American Lighthouse Foundation is incredibly supportive, the fishermen are too, and the  2nd and 3rd “fix” for the pellet stove has arrived at Tim and Kathy’s, just not on the island yet.  But we need funding for an engine for the donated skiff, still need to know what the pellet stove actually cost, provisions, a genny for the Boathouse winch, and in truth, more pellets.  And a bunch of other stuff. It blew like crazy last night and at around 7am turned to snow, briefly.  The Hardy Boys boat, soon to be christened the Ilsa Lund, needed some serious bailing.  I went into the village, to hit A2Z and the PO (which was closed), while some of the fishermen said “A bit breezy to be comin in, eh?”  Yes, it was “breezy”, to say the least.

We might have some help coming for a donated “dry suit” / “survival suit” for me, which a lot of people would appreciate, especially my Mom and Dad.  I put up the wreath, and some lights, which is the first time in some fifty years that there have been Christmas lights on the island.  I hope to get a big wreath donated to hang from the tower, along with lights to run outside on the gallery railing.  That would be very very special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides being an educational platform for kids and educators, we hope this can also be a residency on occasion for artists.  To that end I am trying to spend some time every day working on arts related projects.  I have set out a little “studio” upstairs, working on a lot of different things, but the first piece I made was this re-purposing of a wooden grid from the bottom of a boat and a collection of children’s (toy) kitchen utensils.  “Kitchen Art” if nothing else.  Reminds me of a musical stanza too.  Bass and treble.  Uplifting though.

 

 

 

 

 

The American Lighthouse Foundation has a very cool thing going on this weekend – some crazy guy is going to swim the harbor in Rockland to raise money.  Here’s the link to that story.

http://waldo.villagesoup.com/business/brief/community/swimming-for-the-lights/472775

And again, here’s a snap of the painting my Mom did of Little River Light.

If you can make a tax-deductible donation of $50, you’ll get three cards and envelopes.  If you ask nice, you’ll get four.  We really are at a critical point and even a donation of $10 makes a big difference right now.  Major cards, checks and PayPal works.  Just go to “Make A Donation”.  Otherwise, just “like” us and share this.

 

 

The fishermen are no longer “bait’n” and are just “haulin’”, although none were out today and many still have over 500 traps out.  We’ve got a HAM radio operator coming later in the month for the “Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society” annual event, which I’m very excited about and if you know of any scout, school or other organizations that would like to be a part of that please let me know at Bill@TheLighthouseEndeavor.com. Hope you’re well and thanks for followin’.  Good ah-nuf.

(I decided to spell it differently cause that’s how it sounds to me, up hee-ah.)  Otherwise, a little cold, very dark, and a bit lonely.

 

Day 58  -  Tuesday,  December 6,  2011

“Playin’ Catchup”

So there is a lot to fill in.

I had no internet connection yesterday due to someone taking out a utility pole, somewhere in Maine, early morning.  From what I understand they are OK, which is most important.  Axiom, as usual, was great.  Thanks Susan, Ben, and everyone else there.  By this morning it was back on.  Additionally, at about 1pm the power to the island went off.  There being no “weatha” going on, it really didn’t make any sense.  I tried reaching Tim and Kathy, then Terry, via mobile at the Boathouse but only got vm.  I then called A2Z where Bobby Sue told me that she had not heard of anyone else losing power.  Tim and Kathy called back shortly – they had been out running errands, and promptly called Bangor Hydro, the electric company (I always think of the show when I write or read those words).  The Coast Guard, who had been paying the small electric bill forever had decided to do that no longer.  Nonetheless, it was shut off.  Thankfully, it was not during a storm or freezing cold or during the night.  Kathy called the utility company at 4pm and they had someone out by 5pm (great cs, especially here), who they met at the meter/pole in the village.  Power was restored as we spoke by VHF radio, relaunching circuit breakers, and I got the heat running, along with everything else.  Unfortunately, electric now becomes another new expense for The Lighthouse Endeavor.

Going back to Sunday, we launched the Mac boat, with a jumper for the battery, from the island.  Kathy drove around the harbor a bit and then the engine died, and I had to run out in the Hardy Boys boat, soon to be the Ilsa Lund, and tow her to the wharf, in some pretty windy conditions, at 6:30am.  Terry showed up and went home to get a charger, brought it to the wharf and we hooked her up for the day.  I was to call him on the VHF at 11:30am, low water, and tell him the conditions to determine if we could untie the floats, and maybe even get them into the cove.  I did.   They were not good.  Too windy and rough to remove the floats, so we again put it off to another day and tide.  A “Stay of Execution” me thinks.  I got a lot of work done over the balance of the day as my focus continues to have to be the required winter preparation and island logistics to launch this project.  Wharf rope snap below…

 

 

 

 

 

Monday morning I decided to make the trip into the village, then into town (Machias) to stock up on some provisions and Christmas decorations.  The tide meant that I had to leave the island by 7:30am and be back by 10am.  I woke at around 5am, had breakfast, did some stretching as I have been working more physically every day than I ever remember (good though), and proceeded to collect some refrigerated jars with some type of chemicals in them that the EPA had given us.  Apparently they have to test the well water here to see if it’s safe, and if it’s not, provide some new filters.  Anyway, did that, found out that Sears doesn’t open until 9:30am (where I need to get a new filter for the shop-vac so I can clean the pellet stove without continuing to use the nicer house vac), but that was too late.  I went to EBS Building Supply, the Dollar store for a few Christmas things, Rite-Aid, and the bank, Machias Savings Bank, another one of our great corporate partners.

The whole trip takes 2-3 hours, with stops.  I then drove out onto the wharf, unloaded my provisions, and drove the car back to park in the village circle.  I put on my life vest as I walked back down the wharf and headed over to where the hook and rope are that I need to lower my provisions down onto the float.  I go through this process every time I need to get things onto the island.  It can be long, and arduous, and sometimes at low water it’s a drop of about 15 feet.  I then climb down the ladder, lower and start the engine of the boat, release the lines, and head out to the island where I dock the boat, tie her up, load the dock cart with provisions, take them to the tractor, load them in the trailer, drive her across the catwalk to the other side of the island, circle in front of the house, then stop and unload.  It’s a bit more complex than just getting in your car, going to the store, and driving home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday was very challenging, with the power situation and some other things going on.  It was however very productive as I got the cellar more organized, brought some more pellets up to the house, and made a Christmas wreath that would make Martha Stewart proud.  I hope to make some ornaments and yule logs from island birch that we can give away to people that make donations to support The Lighthouse Endeavor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of which, any person who donates $100 within the next 24 hours will get a subscription to Lighthouse Digest Magazine, along with a tax deduction for $75.  The subscription can be for you or as a holiday gift for someone else.

 

 

 

 

We really need the support right now, as we are still in need of a generator, an engine for the winter skiff (which was donated), and a whole bunch of other things including just plain expenses – gas, food, batteries, stuff that breaks, redundancies, etc.

$50 donations will get a set of three notecards and envelopes, of a painting done by my Mom, of Little River Light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Otherwise, the best way to help support The Endeavor is to “like” us on the Facebook button on the top of each page, and share this site with friends and family.

I look forward to being able to focus on the educational side of the program once we get the winter logistics squared away.  Pics are bigger if you click on them.  Thanks and “Good Enuf’”.

Day 55  -  Saturday, December 3, 2011

“Workin’ The Maineland”

 

As planned, worked with Norb on the mainland (or Maineland) all day today.  As some of you know, we’re building a garage for his “gorgeous vintage” firetruck he turned into a dumptruck, and for other stuff.  Yeah, but not just any garage.  This is huge, and high, and I’ve confirmed my earlier thinking that I don’t like being two stories up and hammering on the slope of a roof.  Nope, don’t really like it at all.  But I appreciate the work, and enjoy hangin’ with Norb, and he is very patient with me, even though I’m pretty handy.  He can also build or fix anything I’ve decided.

 

 

Casey is his dog, one of the biggest dogs I’ve ever seen, who apparently likes me and he doesn’t like everybody.  I try to remember to bring him a treat, but I don’t always and have to rely on Norb to get one from the house. Oh, and I operated a forklift today, another “first” in my lifetime.  Not a big deal, but just never did it before and it was kinda cool that he trusted me enough to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim and Kathy tried to launch one of the two boats that are currently out of the water so we can move the floats off and onto land – something as I’ve said is going to make a whole lot of things more challenging.  How challenging remains to be seen.  The engine did not start, due to the battery, and I will meet them tomorrow on the ramp at 6:30 am, with the newly acquired charger and hopefully we’ll get her going.  Planning to meet Terry at low water, (11:30 am) to unhook the anchor lines from the floats with a whole bunch of rope that Norb donated to The Endeavor project.  Thanks very much!

I still need to spend a whole day emailing the many that sent me Thanksgiving greetings and have written subsequently.  Hopefully tomorrow.  Of course lots to do on promotion, PR, and funding requests too.  Very important that you “like” us on facebook (top of every page), and share this with people who would enjoy it.  Good enuf.

Day 54  -  Friday, December 1, 2011

“Challenges”

Very challenging last two days.  Weather.  Boats.  Cold in the house.  Insulation.  The electric bill.  Pellets to move.  Water stuff.  Skype.  The pellet stove — 4 hours -on  phone and working on it.  Kathy and Tim working on stuff for here when they should be working on their stuff.  Trying to put insulation on the upstairs windows, and the rest of the pipes, this time in the crawlspace – lots of bugs.  Trying to figure out what to do with the downstairs windows.  Racing the tide to get off island, and in and out of town with certain provisions and supplies not knowing when I can/will get off/on again.  Reorganizing the house.  Banking the well.  Trees.  Trunks.  Organizing, making  calls.  Raise money, which we are in desperate need of at the moment.  Sad cause we don’t need much, and have raised a bunch, but just need more than $5k and less than $10k to make this work.

Beautiful day though.  Fishermen back and forth bringing in traps.  Talking to them on the VHF, which is special.  Mouse in the cellar and a squirrel on the catwalk, and one of the Eagles sitting on the rock outside on the front (never ever seen before), which of course again I couldn’t get a picture of…

Working all day with Norb tomorrow and pulling the floats on Sunday with Terry and probably Nick too.  Which in truth I don’t want to do.

While it’s beautiful here, it is indeed hard.  Lots of work to make this happen.  And the funding part is very daunting, although the physical side is just as hard, and the mental side may be even harder.  I know we will get corporate partners and even grants, but that takes time and won’t happen till next spring.  We need short term help.  We are getting $25 to $100+ donations from individuals right now and that is great, we just need more.  Sorry for the whining and tomorrow’s post will be better.  The moon is stunning, a sliver, and the water and wind is calm.  I’m sure it was so much harder for those that kept this Light in the past.  Although they did usually have six to eight children, which I suspect helped…since I have none…here.

Tomorrow, more on Christmas, “Sin and Redemption” (not what you think so check back), work, and the island.  Oh yes, and a lot of catch up.  Thanks for bearing with me.

Click on pics to enlarge, “Like” us on facebook please, and share with those you think might be interested.

Good enuf.

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One Response to “December 2011”

  1. Nice post! Keep up the neat work!

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