A Delayed Start to Closing the Island

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

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Cyndy and Grady and I finally got off at low tide Monday morning from Popham for the trip out to Seguin with Captain DeBery at the helm of The Guppy. It was daddy daycare day so young Larson made the trip in the boat bassinette.

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The island looked to be in great shape even though no one had been here for over a week. Tim and Lynn had left it all buttoned up for Ethan and Lindsay, but their week was cut short mostly by bad weather. The forecast looks great for this week but there could be a hurricane coming up after the weekend so we’re planning on coming off the island on Saturday.

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We dug into a few chores after hauling up our gear and putting stuff away. A part had to be installed in the public composting outhouse in the cove. There seems to be a short in the power source from the Whistle house down to the Engine house and the Boathouse, which meant that the fan to ventilate the Clivus hasn’t functioned all summer. A solar panel was installed on the roof and Lynn did the electrical work to the battery. Now she’s the sweet dream we always loved, with the most spectacular view from a throne you’ll ever experience.

A beautiful schooner sailed into the cove in the late afternoon, as the wind came up, and moored for the night. This morning, two of the crew came up to have a look around and were surprised to find Grady barking at them and the two of us enjoying blueberry muffins (just out of the oven) and a cup of coffee on the porch. They said they’d sailed by many times but never come ashore. I was glad to get a shot of their craft before they set sail although I wish I’d taken one yesterday when they sailed in and the sails were up. One had stayed down with the boat but the other fellow and his mother signed the guest book and had a look through the museum before we took them up to the top of the tower for an inspection of the 1st order Fresnel lens and the view from the catwalk of the highest (not the tallest) lighthouse in the state of Maine.

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Today we tried to install a new fan in the composting toilet in the keeper quarters but it’s too close to the wall to get at a couple of screws so we’ll have to wait until Ken arrives tomorrow with the item he’s purchased at the hardware store that we hope will allow us to complete the installation. At this point they are not sure if the weather will permit the trip. Fingers crossed, otherwise we need to use the one next door in the guest quarters. Those things are a dream when properly ventilated. If not, well, you can just imagine.

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We came out with a menu for each night and enough to feed more than just the two of us. So we have leftovers for lunch.

Sunday when we couldn’t get out, Cyndy made shrimp tacos at home with corn and black beans. shrimp-tacos

Yesterday we made Ina Garten’s Coquille St. Jacques and had portions for dinner along with sautéed spinach. I got a C- for presentation but it all tasted great. We had another helping for lunch today and there’s enough for four in the freezer.

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Today I spent a few hours in the kitchen while Cyndy packed up the gift shop. I got up early to make the muffins and later on put together Bon Appetit’s eggplant parmesan for dinner and cod cakes for tomorrow.

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The day was windy but bright and sunny so we hiked the north trail in the afternoon and brought in all the signage for the winter. We were on a roll so we did the same for all the rest of the signage on the island. Then we brought most of the gift shop items down the tram hoping that Ken makes it out tomorrow and we can send it all back with him on the boat in the afternoon when he leaves. We’re not operating the tram these days, unfortunately, so everything goes up and down by hand. Cyndy and I were quite a pair with our little cart up on the tracks wheeling down the bins of tee shirts and memorabilia from the gift shop so they are ready to load tomorrow. Fingers crossed

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It was clear as a bell when the sun set and we sat down to a delicious meal, a game of cards and a good book. We’ll, I’m doing this, but the book will come later: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Wolfe.

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Return from an Island Paradise

Sunday, May 29, 2016

We left the island in good hands yesterday morning.  Mitchell and Patty helped us off the island in Hinckley the dingy, into Ethan’s boat, with all of our stuff including linens and towels to wash, empty gas and water containers and last but not least, Cyndy’s 130 pound nine month old Grady who by this time didn’t really want to go.  Neither did we but all good things must end and it was time to cut the cord and leave everything to the new summer caretakers.

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We all marveled at just how much beach there is in the cove when the tide is at its lowest.

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Since we had arrived early, I took one last solo hike up the Lighthouse Trail to take some parting shots.  Mitchell and Cyndy did such a great job cleaning the lens that is really sparkled in the sun.

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One of the bedrooms in the guest quarters.

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The crabapple tree by the tram is in full bloom and has an intoxicatingly sweet smell.

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The lighthouse banner is traditionally flown below the American flag during the summer on holidays and over the weekends.

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Once ashore, I hadn’t yet gotten my fill of lobster so I indulged in one of Tracy’s lobster rolls on Percy’s back porch.

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After a whole week on the island, protected by hats and sun screen, all the sun we got just made our noses red.  After lunch we sat on the beach and fell asleep and woke to sunburn. Cyndy couldn’t pass up a swim even though only the most daring kids didn’t venture past their knees.

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I’ll miss the island this summer but hope to come back for a week in the fall to help close the island once again for the season.  Until then, I hope you all find time in your travels for a visit, or at least a place on your bucket list.

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The Island is Ready for Visitors!

Friday, May 27, 2016

It got colder as the day wore on and the fog rolled in.  Both Patty and Mitchell were hard at work all day and because Cyndy and I leave tomorrow, we did a few things that we love to do on the island.  We are confident that the Station is in good hands and hope you will consider a visit.

Patty and Mitchell both went to work in the tower sweeping and vacuuming but most importantly, cleaning and polishing all 284 pieces of lead crystal that make up the first order Fresnel lens, finishing the work that Cyndy had started the day before.  And Patty is ready in the gift shop.  I spent $62.90!  There are some cool new items you can find on line for FOSILS.  Or come and visit and you can meet Patty and Mitcell.

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There was a lot of lobster left from last night which made a great salad for lunch.  And then we had to get rid of the shells on our way to walk the South Trail, newly cleared by Mitchell and Patty.

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Once again the gulls were not happy with our presence and Grady sniffed out some nests but there were not eggs yet.

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Back at the ranch, Mitchell was repairing the chain on a sign that warns people not to walk on the tram.  Patty was repairing some signage we use for the trails down in the Whistle House (the big workshop from whence emanates the fog signal blast) and Cyndy seemed to be supervising with Grady.

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Every winter some shingles blow off the roof; it will be a job to replace, perhaps by the Wednesday Warriors.

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The apple trees are in blossom.

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Patty’s fish tacos for dinner were fun eating and delicious.  Afterward, we lingered over tea and chocolate chip cookies and told stories.  There was no sunset that we could see.  You couldn’t even see the sea.  Humidity was at 98% and fog was thick enough to set off the horn, although you have to turn it on now manually through VHF channel on a radio.  But that’s another story for Mitchell and Patty to tell.  The unusual result, kind of a phenomenon, is the canopy of light tate umbrella’s the island when the fog is this thick, made from the light and the struts between the window panes.  I marvel at it every time I see it.

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A Busy Week

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The chicken was a hit and there was enough cobbler left for everyone.  We seem to be exhausted after meals together, generally turn in early and are awakened by the sun.  Whether that makes you get up then is another story usually determined by the weather,  and how many hands of rummy you’ve dealt the night before…

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Even in the prep week leading up to the big opening of the island on Memorial Day weekend, we’re following the Wednesday routine:  the caretakers meet a 7 o’clock boat in the morning in the cove filled with volunteers from FOSILS called the Wednesday Warriors.  They come ashore to mostly tackle projects on a long list of maintenance determined by the expertise of the individuals and the funds available (please consider a donation) who in a pinch can also guide visitors to the island, while the caretakers take the boat back to Popham so that they can run their errands picking up supplies and turning in receipts.  It’s a good exchange that means folks can visit any time and find the gift shop and museum open and can climb to the top of the tower to see the light.  Basically the caretakers work 9 to 5 but often some visitors come in their own boats and sometimes even moor in the cove overnight, so can appear up top at almost any hour of the day, curious to see what’s there or just to take a hike and have a picnic.

There was a fellow I remember who would kayak over from Popham very early in the morning.  Once I found him before 6 with 7 quarts of blackberries heading down the hill to take home to his mother who made jam.  Don’t let the word get out on that one.

The warriors who came today numbered only three but accomplished a lot.  Even though Ken took a little dip in the sea getting out of the dingy, we were able to find him dry sweat pants to wear for the day while they were at work.  Cyndy made Julie’s coffee cake recipe while we operated the tram to send up doors and screens and windows for a project Rick is working on to put an outer door on the Gift Shop.  Julie did more work setting up the museum with Ken and all of us met to go over what has been accomplished so far on the master “to do” list and to prioritize what will come next.

Ken and Julie have determined where the blacksmith’s shop sat at the bottom of the tram and will go to work marking it with a plaque documenting the history.

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By mid afternoon the warriors had finished for the day and Mitchell and Patty returned from shore with supplies, one of which was a new flag purchased at the hardware store which we couldn’t wait to send up the pole.  It looked beautiful flying in the southerly stiff breeze.

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The fog had rolled in and mostly what we saw on the horizon instead of the sunset was rain.

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Mitchell and Patty folded the flag while Grady ate Cyndy’s arm up to her elbow.  Later we feasted on pot roast and gravy with spinach salad and once again were ready for an early to bed.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

In the morning, Patty got on Gravely (new zero radius riding lawn mower) and found her true calling in life.  She made fast work of the third mow on the big lawn up top while Mitchell whacked weeds on the south trail (photos to follow on the next post), Cyndy busied herself cleaning the lens in the tower and I went to work with the push mower on the front lawn.  Lunch was on the fly, catch as catch can and by afternoon there was sun for a short respite of rest and warmth and raking.

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Before sunset, Mitchell and Patty took a cooler down to the cove, untied the dingy and rowed out to a keeper box lobsterman Jackson had tied to a mooring and retrieved the dozen lobster we had ordered the night before, eight of which we devoured shortly thereafter.

The dingy has a slow leak in one of it’s six sections.  That will be a chore to patch for a later day.  Meanwhile, it will have to be pumped periodically.

I wish I could have taken a photo of the lobster at the table but I was up to my elbows in butter and innards getting mine out of the shell.  All I did capture was Cyndy taking off the bands on the claws and throwing them into the steamy pot.  You’ll have to check out Mitchell’s blog on the Seguin web site for more.

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A sailboat had a good afternoon with Monhegan Island on the horizon.

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Summer Caretakers Come Aboard

I’m so happy to be back in Maine.  Cyndy and I are once again back on the island, thanks to Friends of Seguin Island Light Station (FOSILS), spending a week with the new summer caretakers Mitchell Thorpe and Patty Sullivan to do what we can to help them settle in and find their way and take over this coming Memorial Day weekend.  They are going to have a fantastic summer and I know you will really enjoy meeting them and having them show you around; so come on down!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

It was mid-tide and calm when we gathered in Popham at the dock.  There were 16 volunteers from FOSILS and two boats to go out for the day to open the island for the season.  Captain Ethan DeBery’s boat pulled our dingy and a skiff that was donated which will be exhibited on the ways in front of the boathouse.

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It was a scramble getting out of the boats, transferring supplies, water, gas and people with several trips in the dingy, onto the shore, over the rocks and up the stairs on the beach to the tram where we loaded everything for two trips up to the top and a lot of hauling in the process.  We were very careful operating the tram; it’s old and in need of repair and only used on rare occasions such as this.

Everyone went to work with assigned tasks including starting up the power, getting the pump going to fill the cistern, cleaning and unpacking, mowing, taking the grates and plywood off the windows and unpacking and setting up the museum items.  I didn’t get many photos because I was too busy myself unpacking groceries and vacuuming the keeper and the guest quarters.  Mitchell and Patty will post shortly on the FOSILS website with more details.

In the evening we snacked on cheese and crackers, sautéed scallops for appetizer and baked haddock with steamed fiddleheads.  I think we were all in bed by 8!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Starting the day early (the sun rises at 5 and sets at 8!) I could think of nothing better to do than make blueberry muffins which we ate for breakfast before I could even get a photo.  Then we dove into so many tasks it’s hard to remember.  Rick Mayo had done a great job on the sit down mower up top (the grass was almost knee high) and DD Morong with the push mower down below on the big Saturday workday, but all that had to have a second go just do distribute the massive clumps of grass.  And it was just a first rough cut as we say in the film industry.  I went to work with the sit down mower while Patty and Mitchell used the push mowers and the weed whacker.  And there was a patch on the front lawn that no one had gotten to the day before.  It was a tough row to mow!

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But when it was finished, it was worth all the effort.

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I stopped for a break around lunchtime and couldn’t find anyone, so I scarfed down a bowl of oatmeal leftover from breakfast with fresh blueberries.

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The first visitors of the summer arrived in a sailboat and for them, it wasn’t the first time that they had been the first visitors for the island.  The three of them stayed for lunch around the picnic table and hiked the North Trail.

There was still so much clumped grass, what was underneath would have suffered if we hadn’t all pitched in and spent the afternoon raking.  I didn’t get a shot of it before I mowed, but I was fascinated by the grass growing on the helipad.  You can’t really see it here but the weeds along the brick letter “H” had tiny red flowers that weren’t anywhere else on the lawn.

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Cyndy whacked weeds on the Lighthouse trail, while Mitchell did the trail to the Cove and mowed the picnic/camping area with the push mower.  We righted the antenna as well and fixed the sump pump which we found overflowing in the morning.

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We didn’t even finish before exhaustion and muscle fatigue set in so we all headed indoors for tea.  I keep my brother and sister appraised with texts and photos along the way and seeing all the work we did, my brother’s comment was “so much for your Sabbath; have a great work day!”  Patty put together the White Dinner consisting of broiled cauliflower with calamari penne pasta.  And thanks to my friend Lenny, just back from Italy, fresh parmesan cheese from Florence.

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We thought we wouldn’t see much of a sunset but in the end, a sliver shone through a break in the clouds at the horizon.

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Then, as spectacularly as the sun had set in the west, the moon rose up in the east.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

After a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs and the last of the blueberry muffins, while waiting for the dew to dry off the mowed grass enough so that we could finish the raking, we headed off to inspect the condition of the north trail with clippers and signage in hand. There were some swells out of the east but beautiful warm sun allowed tee shirts and shorts for the hike.

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The iris in the bog; the loop that goes down from the North Trail, are about to bloom.

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Toward the end of the trail, you can look back into the cove.  A Red-winged Blackbird was keeping watch.

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And the gulls were everywhere in the sky and perched on rocky outcroppings.  They have paired up (they mate for life) and were beginning to build nests.  One pair got an early start.  The crabapples are in blossom and the blackberries are just about to pop.

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Mitchell and Patty seem up to the challenge and are sure to have a great summer.

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Coming back we were famished and feasted on a terrific salad Patty put together with the last of the leftover baked halibut and hard boiled egg.

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After the last of the mowed grass was raked up top and disposed of,  we finished up down below:  cleaning the public composting outhouse, taking the last of the plywood off the Donkey Engine House windows, whacking weeds and cutting grass.  Mitchell tackled the Cobblestone Beach Trail with the weed whacker.

Then it was time for dinner.  Mitchell grilled citrus chicken and onions on the barbecue, Cyndy steamed asparagus and there was strawberry rhubarb cobbler for desert.

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And another unforgettable sunset.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

We woke to fog and then the rain so busied ourselves with chores indoors.  Patty and Mitchell cleaned and set up the gift shop.  Cyndy swept the tower and put away clean linens.

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Tomorrow Mitchell and Patty go ashore for supplies.  I’ve been working on this post while prepping a pot roast for tomorrow.  Baked chicken Shawarma with roasted potatoes and salad for tonight.  And if Cyndy didn’t eat it all, the last of the cobbler.

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A Frenzied Finish

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dawn brought a clear morning.  We were happy for the sun on our last full day on the island so that we could get all of our work done.  We first went down to the cove to finish boarding up the windows in the Donkey Engine House and running the gas out of the push mower for the winter.

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Back up to the top of the island, we needed to do the same with the new sit-down mower.  This was a lot more fun because we got to drive it around the yard, but not too far away from the barn, because once it ran dry, we had to push it back into the Whistle House.  That is if you could figure out first how to put it in neutral.  Fortunately we know where the manuals.  That is if you can figure out how to read them.

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The view from the bathroom upstairs in the Keeper Quarters is spectacular.  Even the pilot of the Coast Guard helicopter that landed while I was here five years ago commented on that when he came out of the craft to make use of it.  (And I thought he just wanted to shake my hand.)

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Lunch was the last of the shrimp chowder, more eggplant parmesan, and a grilled cheddar cheese on olive garlic bread.

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The south side of the house was protected today from the wind, and the setting sun was so warm and peaceful, we stayed on the back porch for a long time soaking it in.

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I was privileged five years ago when I was here for three and a half months in the summer, to meet Jackson, one of the local lobstermen, and make an arrangement that I’ve used every time I’ve come to the island since.  Jackson’s number is still in my cell phone and all I need to do is call and leave a message the night before we plan lobster for dinner.  He ties a keeper box to one of the moors in the cove which floats just below the surface of the water.  We can put water to boil on the stove in the huge lobster pot late in the afternoon and head down to the cove with a tall plastic pail; untie the dingy, and paddle out to the box which contains our order, filled just as we requested.  By the time we’ve paddled back and secured the boat, climbed over the rocks and up the stairs and up the trail to the top, the water is boiling and in go the lobster for the freshest meal you’ve ever had.  I prefer meeting Jackson in the cove so that we can chat, and he is a talker.  But if we don’t connect, I leave a blank check made out to his son Jake for his college fund and let Jackson fill in the amount.  At these prices, we could have lobster every day of the week.

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Cyndy wanted to have lobster races but I thought that seemed cruel.  Instead, we let Grady play with one of them who went very still very quickly.  So that wasn’t cruel.

I love Grady dearly and will miss him very much but my advise to anyone who wants a dog (me included) is to avoid the puppy stage and get a rescue dog from the pound who will love you for the rest of the time you have together.  Our last sun set and we enjoyed the best meal we had in all of our sixteen days on the island.

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ethan was due to come with Anne and Greg to help do the final close down of the island at eight in the morning and called last night to say they were coming at seven thirty instead and wanted to make a quick departure after the work was done, because high seas were expected.  We were up at five and the cove was calm but the wind and the waves from the southwest were kicking up.  Per tradition, after a lobster meal, the next morning the shells go back into the ocean on Cobblestone Beach.

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I had hoped to take photos of our departure and the final close down but it was too fast and furious and it seemed we were not as prepared as we should have been.  Apparently the trip out for the crew on the boat was a really rough one and they we very worried about the return.

Greg is champion of the big aspects of the final shut down and takes charge of shutting down the water, which involves draining the pipes, and turning off the electricity.  We thought we’d have time during this process, to put the final screen gates on the downstairs windows but in fact, the crew was disappointed we hadn’t already taken care of this.

To make a long story short, we made such fast work of all of this and hightailed it down to the cove so quickly that there wasn’t even time for a selfie.  We had intended to tow the dingy back to shore to winterize it but instead, ended up tying it to a mooring with most of our provisions in it for weight as it wasn’t advisable to take it out on the high seas.  Ethan said he’d come for it tomorrow and I hope he’ll take me along to help.  It’s like a refrigerator there so we’re not worried about the food from the fridge going bad; we just don’t really know what we’re going to have for dinner.

Fortunately the trip back wasn’t as bad as the one out, according to the captain, but we managed to get soaked in the choppy water regardless.  Grady was secure on Anne’s lap in my old canvas bag but was still shaking like a leaf on my lap later on in the car.

It’s a shock to be back on the mainland.  Cyndy’s car wouldn’t start and after Anne gave it a jump, we were on our way, enjoying the fall foliage.  (Tthe colors had really popped while we were on the island.)  But trying to start it again at Cyndy’s house after we’d unpacked was a no go so she was off to the neighbor for jumper cables.  So off to that big store starting with the letter W for a new battery.  I went inside to look for matching curtains to the ones in the living room of the caretaker quarters, so that we could use them on the two doors into the room, but they were not in stock and the whole experience really brought us down.  After purchasing the Sunday New York Times at the drug store in Bath and a coffee at Cafe Creme, we went for a truly delightful lunch at the new Winnegance Cafe and are now tucked in for the day to recuperate.

We enjoyed our sixteen days on the island more than you can imagine and got a lot of work done too.  It’s always a privilege to carry on this tradition with such caring friends who are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of this wonderful light, and we are grateful to share with them this responsibility.

Your first sight of the first order Fresnel lens at Seguin Light will take your breath away.  Each time you view it after that is no less magical.

 

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More Cats and Dogs

Friday, October 9, 2015

I’m so glad we’re not leaving tomorrow!  Up before dawn, the sky was completely overcast except for a sliver on the ocean horizon to the east.

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After a hearty breakfast we decided to get down to the cove and finish boarding up the windows to the Donkey Engine House.  It had started to sprinkle.  While we were there we put stabilizer in the gas and drained what was in the push mower.

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A final dust up in the outhouse put that in order before we lock it up and turn off the fan.

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The cove was calm as the wind has shifted from the southeast.  By the time we got back up to the house and had put the tools away, white caps were heavy out to sea.  In no time, the winds were gusting up to 20 mph and it began to rain heavily.  We took the flag down.

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Cyndy had a call from a man from Westport Island who had seen a photo in the museum a while back about a shipwreck and wanted more information on that because it was his ancestor who was lost at sea.  She knew right where it was and called him back with the information.  He said he would make a generous donation to the Friends of Seguin Light Station in return, and just because he thought if was overdue anyway.

For lunch there was leftover shrimp and corn chowder with toasted olive and garlic bread.  I had to make a loaf of apple bread to use up what was on hand.  By the afternoon, we both took naps for the first time in two weeks.  It’s 74 and sunny in New York City but here on the island, 55 degrees and heavy rain falling.  The fog horn went on at 11:55 AM.

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For dinner, Cyndy made eggplant parmesan.  We did really well making everything last until the last day, even given the bonus day we were awarded.  The only thing we ran out of  was eggs and water.  Thank goodness there is a supply of bottled water in the gift shop.  At a dollar a piece we’re really rationing it now.  No more cookies or pancakes but lots of great memories.  And Jackson left us lobster in the keeper box in the cove so we will be in heaven for our last meal on the island.  I hope they survived the rain.

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