We left off on Wednesday, October 2 about to start gating up the windows of the downstairs for the winter. But to get started on the day we first fortified ourselves with French toast with strawberries and bacon. The bread for the toast was left in the freezer, thankfully, by T’Ann, made by her cousin Ray, the baker, we think.
The windows of the Donkey Engine House were boarded up and with the new paint job just completed after stripping the shingles (thanks mostly to Cyndy and Ruth) and a fresh coat of green trim, it looks pretty good.
We used to gate up the upstairs windows using scaffolding and ladders, but have not continued that practice for the last few years. The question I need to ask is why we put screens on any of them at all. Meanwhile:
The seas were too rough for us to get the dinghy down and row out for the lobster Ethan had left for us in the keeper box tied to a mooring, so for dinner we had crab cakes with string beans and cherry tomatoes instead.
Thursday, October 4, 2018
Cyndy got a head start cleaning up and reorganizing the Whistle House by moving the paint that would freeze into the Coast Guard room, which because of the mechanicals inside, stays relatively warm all year round. We had not been in there since the foghorn was revamped by the Coast Guard and I must say it was left in quite a state of disarray with drawings and schematics left out and drawers opened; they must have had to leave in a big hurry. They didn’t even lock the back door. The fog horn, by the way, does not go on automatically anymore. The new system (MRASS) requires one to use a walkie talkie, turn to channel 83 (most of what we monitor is on channel 78) and cue five times. After a minute or two it comes on for about an hour, after which time you must repeat the process. Now there are people out there who turn it on just for fun from the sea in sunny clear weather. And I guess since I’ve written down how to do it, you can too.
Boarding up the Oil House, usually a simple task, did not go well and I’m not very proud of our temporary solution. We need to devise a new system for putting plywood over windows for protection from the elements because every time we do it this time of year, we make new holes in the doors and cause unwanted damage. (Lining up with the old holes is not always easy.) And at the Oil House, the new added dilemma was that neither the dead bolt lock nor the knob lock worked on the door no matter how much WD40 we juiced them with. In the end, we simply took the screen off which we stored inside, and screwed in an “L” bracket to keep the door closed.
Finally the winds shifted to the south and the cove was at last calm enough to get the dinghy down off the rocks and into the water. Ethan, with his first mate Brook in The Grasshopper, met us in the cove while he was working his traps to bring us a new faucet for the kitchen sink. While we were out there we managed to haul in dinner from the keeper box tied to a mooring: four beautiful and still very live lobster! The exchange was completed with two fresh blueberry muffins, which Brook gladly accepted.
Once back up the hill with dinner and the new challenge of installation of the faucet, we went to work. After turning off the water supply from the basement to the house and the valve which suctions water out of the cistern, we had little problem replacing the entire faucet including the sprayer. It took time for a couple of novice plumbers but it went well. The new one was designed a little differently and will hopefully not freeze and burst the connection that was the leak problem in the old one. What we didn’t anticipate in the installation was how fragile the pipes are leading under the sink down into the crawl space below the kitchen. That connection came lose just as we were testing the new faucet and there was an eruption of spewing water where the break happened just below the bottom of the sink. So while I tried to stave it off as best as I could with my finger in the dike, so to speak, Cyndy rushed down to the basement to once again shut down the system turning off the water supply.
There is no way a human could crawl onto the dirt floor of the crawl space although someone must have years ago when the pipes were first installed. Short of ripping out the bottom of the sink above the floor, I was able to nudge up the pipe just enough to put a temporary clamp on it and keep it in sight and within reach. In the end, a plastic tube with wire mesh was found in the Whistle House, which we ended up substituting for the pipe piece that broke off. A temporary fix that seemed to work by drastically reducing the dripping under the sink. We’ll see what the experts say when they take a look at it. Anyway, there was a lot of cleaning up to do; at least we got the kitchen floor mopped out of the ordeal.
A long overdue shower ensued for each of us. It was well passed 5.
After some snacks we cooked up the lobster and paired it with the last of the heirloom tomato pie. Yum!
Friday, October 5, 2018
While we waited for the sun to shine on the glass brick window in the tower that we needed to recalk with mortar (24 4”X4” glass blocks), we went to work turning the garden. There were still a surprising number of edibles including some mini zucchini, green tomatoes and green peppers and a few red beets. All the vegetables were cleaned and trimmed and diced into a beautiful sauté that ended up as a casserole with cheese and breadcrumbs on top for dinner. That is except for the beets which I roasted and the greens which I sautéed separately. And the last of the zinnias went into a vase on the dining table thanks to Cyndy.
Cyndy had stabilized the gas in the mowers and after that we took the battery out of the zero radius sit down mower to take back to the mainland for the winter. Then we finished up the cleanup and organizing in the Whistle House together and in the process, left the door open and a bird flew in. All the lectures we give others about not leaving doors open for this reason and here we were: guilty of it ourselves. We tried every method available with brooms and rakes to guide the little critter out the door but all we did was terrorize it. In the end, we opened the back door as well and just went away. The bird had found its way out by the time we returned a couple of hours later.
With the sun shinning on the window at the base of the tower, we went to work mixing what mortal didn’t get wet in our initial landing last Saturday and did a decent job of calking up the window. We started by chipping away lose pieces, taking a wire brush to what was left and wetting the whole thing down with water on a paint brush. Neither of us are masons but in the end we managed to fill in all the cracks and make it look uniform. We guess that this window is original to the tower and hadn’t been recalked in years, unlike the window at the top of the tower, which blew out in the Patriot’s Day storm of 2007 and had to be replaced. I just hope I’m not taking away loose pieces next year and doing the job over again. If that’s the case, we’ll call in an expert.
Before mortar work.
We took a walk down to the cove at low tide (2:32PM). Cyndy searched for beach glass while I lay on my back on the deck to catch some warm rays from the sun.
Then we went off to Cobblestone beach to dump the lobster shells. The dead seal that washed ashore a month ago is in a bad state of decomposition and had a very unique ripe smell, not for the faint of heart. There’s one on the beach in the cove too which we can smell but haven’t yet located.
By the time we got back, I could reach the team at Davis Instruments by phone in California to discuss what to do with our weather station, which is not working properly. We had taken it off the board it was attached to at the top of the tram with some difficulty and were now ready to pack it up and send it in for a diagnostic. The man I had spoken with in technical support a few years ago had retired but Bruce was very helpful and said he would send us a diagnostic cable. So we boxed up the whole thing and had him send the cable to the office in Bath where Cyndy will have to reassemble it and test it out when that arrives, with guidance from Bruce.
We had forgotten to eat the last of the lobster for lunch, intended for salad on some buttermilk biscuits I baked up, so instead of having the garden casserole with frozen shrimp, I made lobster scampi. Dinner was to die for! The flies are still a huge problem but the swatter is evidence of our hard efforts to keep them at bay.
Saturday, October 6, 2018
We both slept in and woke to a beautiful clear crisp fall day with huge rolling waves coming in from the east. I’ve never seen spray shoot up so high when those waves crash against the shore on Cobblestone Beach. It’s really spectacular. Unfortunately the cove is still a mess and we don’t know for sure yet if we’ll get off the island tomorrow or have to wait until Columbus Day on Monday.
Cyndy went down to the Clivis outhouse to disconnect the battery from the solar panel that keeps the fan vent going while I made up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Fortunately we’re going into winter and no one will be using the unvented facility. When Cyndy got back, we did a quick inventory of the pantry and agreed to leave some things that wouldn’t spoil in the fridge over the winter. The power will be shut down and there will be no electricity (except for the light in the tower) but we think they will last after carefully checking expiration dates. But we did get the word from Captain DeBery that the forecast for getting us off tomorrow is dim so it “looks like Monday” and we get a bonus day on the island!
This enabled us to make the one dish we didn’t think we’d get to: citrus chicken. We cooked it up with roasted beets and sautéed beet greens from the garden.
We were also very happy that this would not be our last sunset.
Sunday, October 7, 2018 – BONUS DAY!
We definitely paced ourselves today. After breakfast we dug into a little reading and writing along with a few outstanding chores such as putting away the last of the benches (except for the sunset bench which we’ll use one last time tonight), securing the picnic table on its side to the rail of the back porch off the kitchen and putting some tools away in the Whistle House. As I was writing this blog upstairs at the desk in the twin bedroom where I found I had the most bars on my hotspot, I heard voices on the lawn and these folks appeared along with their two beautiful golden retrievers. What a joy to have visitors on our last day. For them, they were thrilled that we were here and could take them on a tour of the tower, the light and to see the spectacular view from the catwalk outside.
Slowly we’re bringing all that needs to go ashore tomorrow in stages so that we won’t have that much to do. The skeleton crew is due at 9:30 and we must shove off at noon. Candy went down and taped up the five plastic boxes that hold the memorabilia so that in the event of the kind of wash out we experienced a week ago landing, the tee shirts would stay dry.