Monday, August 31, 2009

Who Knew?

In the six plus months that we have lived here in the Keeper's Cottage we have seen people come and gather seaweed for their gardens.  I guess I had heard that it had remarkable properties as a fertilizer and a mulch but recently I have seen a devotion to it that is off the chart.  

The gentleman in the photographs comes from Stoughton and twice he has arrived by the side of the cottage to gather seaweed from the ocean side beach.  He has worked like a whirlwind and I sent Haley out on a photojournalistic mission to capture that effort.


This stuff must be something for him to work so hard at it. He has to have hauled away close to 500 pounds of it.

On his most recent visit last week he asked to borrow a pail in order to gather periwinkles for his wife.  He told us she would cook them in a garlic broth and eat them with a pin. Who knew?

Monday, August 24, 2009

First of Many


Packed the bag to bursting this weekend.

All summer long different car clubs stop by on different nights. Haley went out on Thursday to check out the wheels and found out it was "Free Dog Night." She also saw some very cool cars.

Friday I took some time to open up a new garden on the walkway side of the house.I had planted a few things there some time ago and thought it was time to bust out and clean up.I am very grateful to Mary and Clem for bringing by some perennials to help me fill it in.

Saturday saw us getting ready for our Open House and we had several visitors while we cleaned. Debbie, Charlie and Lizzie got pulled in when I saw them as I cleaned and pulled back some curtains to get to a window.A very nice surprise to catch up with this sister of an old good friend.Haley looked up later to see one of my colleagues and her husband and we took them through the old place as well.  Haley has always had an abiding affection for Mrs. Lifrere.

Saturday night we listened as Hurricane Bill made some noise outside the window.The rush of the water was intermittent; there would be a roar and then it would die down for a time only to return without a pattern.We woke up Sunday morning to welcome our visitors for the day to find a pretty good pile of sand and stone thrown across the road.Haley took it on herself to grab a shovel and tried to make a dent.


                                                                                                                                                          As we set up for the day I was revisited by a couple I had met a few weeks ago while mowing the lawn. Mr. and Mrs. Adams have come to Scituate for 25 years and when we met we got to talking about a particular photograph they have of the Cottage and Light in winter. Having seen it now I am even more eager to see this harbor as calm and this house as peaceful as this photograph showed it. This was a terrific way to move the day along. 

Donna Elias and her husband Les Kammerman were our guests here all day Sunday.They set up an art show in the drive and on the lawn and were set upon by browsers and buyers all day. If any two people worked harder yesterday than those two did I would like to know who they could possibly be. Donna is an acclaimed artist who specializes in Lighthouses and Coastal scenes. Les is just a plain old great guy. Haley made fast friends again.

Our fourth Open House began at 1:00 and I will take this opportunity to thank each of the volunteers who have come out to the Point for each of the Open House dates to help Julie, Haley, and I tell the stories and teach the history. Peter & Barbara Whitfield, Susan Ahern, Dick Egan, Duncan Bates Todd, Sophia Ferrara, Maria Leighton, Ken Gallagher, and Maureen Upton made visiting the Lighthouse a treat for the nearly 900 men, women, and children that have come through in the four days. We deeply appreciate their help.

Sunday had a side show element to it as a significant crowd gathered to check out the waves.I did have to have the police come down when a neighbor approached just before 1:00 to tell me that two young boys had made their way out to the tip of the big jetty to get blasted by the waves.Today's headlines scream of the danger they were in as two people were killed in similar settings elsewhere. These boys were brought in successfully. Just as the tide was full high around 2:00 a massive wave threw seaweed and stone on the walkway near the new garden I had worked on Friday. I was pointing out some detail in the office room where the history is gathered and this one stopped me midsentence. First of many I thought to myself, first of many.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hang Ten

And his name is Bill.

We get our first peak at a hurricane as what is left of the one time category four hurricane Bill comes a knocking tomorrow.  All day today the wind has picked up, blowing papers around each in room and knocking magnets off of the refrigerator. I am tuned into the Weatherbug site like it is my job to check the gusts.  The flagpole at the top of the Tower was whipping back and forth like it was in the hand of a jockey in second place.  Even after I took that flag down there was still a bend in it. In these lead winds it is a giant bendy straw.  I cannot wait until tomorrow though I hope it has cleared out by Sunday as we are hosting Lighthouse artist Donna Elias during our fourth Open House.  I also hope that the crowds will not be reckless in taunting the waves. Lets everyone use their heads out there.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


7:30 Sunday morning.

A knock on the door at that hour means emergency to me.  I am half asleep but scoot downstairs to answer the door.  A woman in her forties or fifties stands opposite the screen. In an accent I cannot place (could be French Canadian?)  she asks if she could have some water for her fuzzy small dog.  As I do not know what time it is initially, my first instinct is that this is a joke of some sort. I am expecting an emergency after all. When I come to my senses I tell her no.  She asks again. She wants to use the hose by the vegetable garden. I tell her no again as so many people visit here that were I to help her, I would be opening the gates to bedlam.  She begins to apologize.

I close the door and I wonder: will she stop at any one else's house at 7:30 on a Sunday morning and think it is okay to knock and ask for water for the thirsty pile of lint.  How would she respond if it happened at her house? I hear her complaining that I did not help her as she climbs into a truck. She must have joined her husband for some early fishing. They seem to have all the gear. They should have included more H2O.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What We Hear

Unplug your Ipod for a minute.

I have been waiting on this topic, waiting so I could be thorough.  There are so many sounds: some musical and some grating.

The wind chime in the kitchen, unpredictable and echoing with the very low ceiling there. 

The thud of Haley's feet on the stairs, though truth told there is no quiet way to go up or down as somewhere in the middle there is one stair that groans.

The whir of the gear that drives the light, lurching when it first comes on, surprising even when you are expecting it.

The siren of the Harbormaster, usually chasing a boat wide open and thumping against the waves a little bit past the no wake sign.

The thrum of the lobster boats and the trawlers early in the morning, unique pings in each engine that I might get to know after a while.

The screechs on the beach on a good day; I never know if they are signs of trouble or of fun. Though they are mostly caused by splashing, I wince anyway.

Booming laughter from a young guy at three in the morning as he and his girl dodge the streetlights with a walk on the jetty and the beach. He has no idea I can hear him.  It makes for a laugh that lacks any self conscientousness.

The rap of the line that takes the flag up to the Tower on a windy day, persistent as a metronome; so regular that you would half expect to see a mark on the side of the Tower at the end of the day.

Foreign languages on the beach or in the parking lot; travelers planning the rest of their day in a blur of consonants and vowels for which I never had a gift.  It can be guttural; it can be lyrical. The neat thing is that they have come here from so far away.

Seagulls caw. It is a morning noise. By 2:00 they are gone who knows where.

The crunch of footsteps on the rocks that line the walkway to the Light.  There was a sunrise Mass last weekend with a liturgy that many could recite word for word.  Missing was the music you might get in a church.  Present at the end was the crunch of all those feet on all those small stones.  It was the sound you would get if you filled up the aisle of a church with Rice Krispies treats just as the service was ending.

There is a whistle like a tea kettle when a window is not dogged tightly. You find this out when the wind comes out of the the northeast and the flag stand out like cartoon canine pointers. It was a while before we figured out the windows drop down from the top and that was where the howl started.

The collective awe of a massive crowd on the night of the annual Luminaria event that kicks off Heritage Days.  Between 8:00 and 10:30 that night I would guess that nearly 2000 people came to or through the Point.  The lights set up all along the coast were inspiring enough but when the moon began to rise out of the ocean and it rose like the ripest of apples on an invisible string, the gathered crowd gasped as one voice.

The slap against the leg of a fisherman's cooler, coming and going.  Quieter coming back as the coolers are a bit lighter after a stretch out on the jetty if you catch my drift.

Another song.

Men and women seemingly talking to themselves as they check out the message board or head by the fence.  It is only after they turn that you see the cell phone or the bluetooth.

A gaggle of women catching up on the gossip just outside the living room window.  They don't know we can hear them and how we laugh when we hear them say goodbye to each other and move on only to come back together with one last thing three times.

The cannon from the yacht club marking sun down; getting earlier quickly it seems.

Cursing at all hours from every walk of life; we can hear you, we know all the words, we wish you would find another way to say it and if you can't, we wish you would go away.

The breathless conversations of the bicyclers; the ones I hate are the ones who can chat without breathing hard.

The click, click, click of my push lawn mower. It is a conversation starter every time I take it out and it always takes me back to the spring of 1970 when I would push one back and forth on Myrtle Street for Grampa Delaney.  I got paid in silver dollars and used them to buy Tom Jones and Bill Cosby records.

The voice of a pre school teacher with a pile of little ones gathered around her in our living room. Their picnic had been rained on and they came inside to have a story read to them.  The tale of Rebecca and Abigail never sounded so good.

The timer in the utility room that governs the Light and the light on the flagpole.  On the night of the Luminaria when the crowd outside got to a size that was intimidating if you were in the house, I went out in the yard to get a feel for what was happening just in time to hear a complaint that the flag should not be up without a light on it.  I took three steps back toward the utility wing and had my hand on the door when a loud snap signalled the light.  We got that stuff covered here thanks to Mr. Houghton.

The soft lap of the waves on a warm wind day and the pound of the rocks falling into the road when the tide has pushed them over on a not so warm wind day. The back door will bounce too until you lock it down when that bad weather knocks.

The Pavlovian jingle of the ice cream truck mid afternoon and the subsequent hustle of the beach goers and of Haley.  There is one disturbing tune that plays sometimes; it was used in the film Schindler's List. I can't hear without losing my appetite altogether. It will be great theatre the day the van's arrival coincides with a wedding ceremony.

The pulse of the pipes when you try to run the sink, shower, and washer at the same time.  It can happen when a neighbor grabs a hose to help out with the flowers at the islands too. It is the noise you hear on the first day after a seventeen year old installs a bass speaker in his car.

The cacophony created when the Disney Channel mixes with the Red Sox game and a crime show all at the same time.

And finally (for now) a dead quiet just before the sun rise, the proverbial hush, a lack of sound that is like a pat on the back when you most need one; it is humbling, calming, neccessary and one of the great gifts we have found living here to date.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Ink

Want the heads up about Haley?

Bay State Parenting magazine came down to visit a couple of months ago and the article is just out. Carrie Wattu has done a great job describing our adjustment to life in the Cottage and the photographs by Robea Patrowicz are terrific. I was especially pleased with how Carrie and Robea captured Hales enthusiasm for the place and for all the people we meet. Check it out!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Dam Burst

I got a little giddy okay.

A year ago Julie and I were invited to visit the Lighthouse and to meet Ruth as part of the interview process for the new Lightkeeper.  I had been through the regular tour and had seen all of the cottage but for the rooms upstairs.  Our visit happened to coincide with the annual youth regata held by the Scituate Yacht Club.  

I made my way up the stairs; rope bannister to a landing and a room we knew we would use as Haley's bedroom if we were chosen, two windows that overlook the harbor and the parking lot, through one of two doors into an equally large room with closets the length of the far side. The chimney runs through the dead center of the house and these two rooms.  Ruth and Julie were chatting while I measured with my eyes.  Would the bed fit up those stairs?  Would we need a split box spring?  (The answer was yes.)  Could we use the nooks and crannies and closets to our advantage?  Then I moved to the window.

What I saw is what you will see in the picture below. All I could think was that this was going to be the view each morning. All I could think was that from one window you look all the way to Ireland and from the other, Spain. I was trying to be cool and collected. The dam burst though and Ruth called me on it. "Look at you,"  she said, "You can hardly hold it in you're so excited." There was a rush of adrenaline that had me flying.  I had it again this week when I considered how quick a year it has been and the fact that it is only the first leg of this regatta for us.  We have the wind now and we are sailing.

(Click on the slideshow and scroll through for an even better look)

Monday, August 3, 2009

An Unexpected Question, A Thank You, and an Oregon followup

"Which of us is responsible for dead animals in the yard?"

Anyone ever ask you that one?  Julie laid it on me today around 1:30 when she noticed the headless squirrel just inside the gate that leads to the beach. My initial response was, " If you killed it, then you have to get rid of it."  I was met with a light blue remark for that witticism.

The Cedar Point Foxes (not to be confused with the group of women who are surely planning to use that name on a float in this year's Labor Day Parade) had left us this delightful gift.  We know they are here.  Sandy paws mark the lengths of our cars.  One of Haley's sneakers was carried off from the back step.  While there was an inital curiosity to them and their fearlessness led to surprising scenes, I am taking the position that their charms have become elusive.  Time to go.

Changing gears, we have had the great priviledge this summer of getting to know a group of students and their teacher.  Brian Halowack, Melanie Siebert, and Andrie Grandmont have spent their mornings cleaning up around Lighthouse Park and painting around the Lighthouse grounds. Julie has enjoyed their company enormously.  Our thanks as well to their teacher, Margaret Jenkins, who has been here in past summers and ran the show again. We hope to see you next year.

Several posts ago I had promised that I would add in some more images from Haley's trip. Here are two to cool you down as the humidity rises around here.  One from the wonder that is the Multnomah Falls and the other from Mount Hood. Yes, that is Haley up to the knee in snow.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Triple Threat and Plan B

Lots of adventure between 3:30 and 5:00 today.

Wedding hysteria at the Lighthouse today as three (count em) three wedding parties arrived at once; two determined to hold the ceremony while the other sought to have an amazing array of photographs taken.  There were no blows, but there were tears from one bride as the queque was created.  

The Green dresses took the pole position and got some amazing photographs on the jetty.  We have not seen a photographer array the party as this one did - they were spread out on the jetty, the bridesmaids in a light green while three adorable flower girls stood out in white.   The photographer had a ladder as well which was a new twist but probably guaranteed him an angle on the whole crew.

The Orange dresses took up the second position and they held the ceremony on the rocks out in front of the Light. This bride rallied from her initial disappointment to light up out there, surrounded by her friends and family.  

The last crew was led by the Barefoot Bride.  They waited the longest and considered holding their ceremony out by the information board.  I had Jules move her car so they had a clear shot at the Tower for their photos but they figured out they would have the Orange crew in the shots and decided to wait.  Once their turn came they got right to it and lingered for a time afterward. They probably got the best light for their patience.  

I have to admit I do wonder at their bravery.  Last Saturday a couple got married out by the information board after attempting to place an arbor on the beach in 2o mile an hour gusts. How you could plan for a wedding on the beach with the weather as a variable is beyond me. There has to be a plan B I don't know about for these couples to take such a chance.

A year from now the Triple Threat will be an embellished story; ten years from now the story will include a fistfight; ten years after that no one will have looked at the pictures for nineteen years.  I hope to still be here telling new stories and wondering if there is a Plan B.

Late Summer 2019

You can hear the difference as it winds down. Or most of you can. This summer has been noteworthy for me as I have dealt with a blockage i...