Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bikers from Boston

Fun weekend on Cedar Point.

Great weather brought out a ton of people and I got to chat to a great number of them. There was an affable couple from Worcester who told me that they saw the Light on Channel Four all the time in bad weather and decided to take a ride down to see for themselves. There were families asking for Haley and wondering about when the rocks were going to be removed. There was one very nice guy who wanted to help move them and asked for a bucket. He is one of the many who come out here two or three times a week with his wife and kids. He told me he had amazing photographs of the Mount Rushmore Flag being flown in the parking lot that he took from offshore that incredible day. He didn't look old enough to have been in high school when that happened but he claims he has the pictures. We had another proposal here too. A young man with the initials JFK stepped up to the fence and called me over to ask if he could go up and propose to his girlfriend Chelsea. All went well and Julie got photos to email to them. My brother in law was here just then and both he and Julie remarked how Chelsea was blushing all through her face and neck.

These two pictures are from today. Christopher Annear from Boston University had made the ride down with his group from Boston to enjoy the wind and the salt and the views. I was correcting when I noticed them lounging by the wall and I called to Julie to grab the first shot. She went out; met them and swapped stories. A few minutes later this became a different story when en mass they began to shovel stone over the wall and onto the beach. I went running this time, got Julie to count to three, and hit the shutter. We are now celebrating with the stones here on Cedar Point. Thanks to all!

Monday, March 15, 2010

What a weekend!

Lots of news to share in this installment of the Light Keeper's Journal.

On Friday The Board of Selectman voted the sum of $4000.00 to remove the stone that remains surrounding the Tower. There will be a few more steps in the process, including a review by the Conservation Commission but before long we hope the have the rocks back on the beach and the larger blocks of granite restored to a protective position. The wall holding back ocean by the parking lot continues to give up large boulders with the high tides. Lets hope that this work mitigates that loss.

This weekend saw intense winds routinely gusting to 60 miles per hour. With a hard rain on Saturday night combined with that wind, there was little sleep on the night we turn the clocks ahead. The gusts would hit the cottage and seem to accelerate. While we did not get the shaking of a few weeks back it was a long, long night. If ever there was a day when another hour would have helped it was Sunday.

The usual chores - dump, school plans, pick a room to clean - were done and I had just turned on the Sox from Spring Training. Haley brought the phone to me and our State Rep, Jim Cantwell was on the line. He told me he had Governor Deval Patrick with him and that he would like to bring the Governor by the house to allow us a chance to discuss the deteriorating condition of the seawall that guards the entrance to the Point. I made a call to Dave Ball who has been the point person on this issue for some time. He arrived with Kevin Cafferty of the DPW who has an extensive background as a contractor and engineer with seawalls.

Around 3:30 I met the Governor's group as they were dropped off by the marker that tells the story of the Army of Two. The Governor and I chatted briefly as I led him to the house and I did my best to impress on him just how much and how quickly this coast is changing right before my eyes. In the cottage we made some introductions and then some pictures were taken. Scituate Selectman Rick Murray and Marshfield Selectman Trish Reilly (once a Scituate girl herself) were also part of the group.
The conversation turned quickly to the background concerning the seawall, the legal controversies surrounding its maintenance, the current status of a state awarded grant of $50,000, and what the Governor's office might do going forward for this project and for others like it up and down the coast. We had a brief chance to discuss the history of the house and of the artifacts in the office and it was time for the party to move on to a visit at the wall itself.

Governor Patrick could not have been more gracious and Haley especially enjoyed the company of the State Policeman who accompanied him. She was made a gift of a State Police pin and immediately put the word out to her friends of the visit. I was told today with some certainty that Governor Patrick was the first Massachusetts Governor to ever visit Old Scituate Light and spend time in the cottage. We are very grateful for Mr. Patrick's attention and to the work of Representative Cantwell in making this meeting possible.

Today finds a newspaper profile of our first year here appear in the Patriot Ledger. Our thanks to Caitlin Keane and Gary Higgins for their accuracy and their images.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tidying Up

A quick update on the rocks and a victory for the forces of good.

Last Sunday morning I went out to the yard and cleaned up as best I could. I attended to walkway until I reached a point where I thought it best to stop. I also cleaned up the small plot that is home to the memorial plinth for George Downton. The discovery of the day was the plumbing for a former water fountain, tucked in among the sea roses. The tide and winds have been a blessing this week and no great tide is expected before the 26th. I will be working on pulling the rocks away from the runway this weekend as a few of the floor boards have noticeable rot from the manner in which the stone sits against the building not allowing the moisture to wick away. The photos are below.



The victory involves a little story. A few weeks ago I noticed that the line that runs up to the flag pole on the Tower had broken and that the cut was about a foot from the top of the pole. Asking if this had happened in the past, I was told that in fact it had, and that the fire department came out with a ladder truck to fix the line. That image gave me the willies. I hated the idea of a fireman out over the rocks on a ladder with a wind coming up because I had had this line break on me. I decided I had to develop an alternative plan.

Last Sunday it came to me. I would take a length of pipe and tape a hook to it. I would push that length of pipe up along the flag pole until I reached the foot of rope and I would snag it. With the wind down around 4:30 last Sunday I took to the job and got it on the first try. I pulled down the line and tied it off to a metal band rigged to the pole near the railing. I was extremely proud of myself until Tuesday when I noted that the line and metal band were now, once again, a foot from the top of the pole. UUUUUGGGGHHHHH!

Today I fixed it with able help from Haley. The photos aren't the best as we had the weather working against us, but it is fixed without the fire department hanging out there over those rocks. I am very pleased. Three more pictures below.

A sweet victory for the forces of good. Very sweet.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Got One Now

The update today in a several pictures and a word of thanks.

This set of photographs shows what the walkway up to the Light normally looks like and what the tide and wind has done in just the past few days.

I have watched scores of people navigate these rocks since last Thursday, including a bride in the rain on Saturday, and with each tide my worry has grown. The walkway is impassable and the spot where I stood as a kid and looked out through an old school binocular is filled to the height of that binocular. I am worried that the runway to the Tower and the fence along the harbor side are going buckle under the pressure of the stone and took the step you see in the picture below - nailing in some planks at the footings in the runway to the Tower - so I could sleep last night and not be up to check the tide. I have already set aside some planks to cover a breech in the runway should it happen.

I met a couple today walking around the point who asked me when the Town would be coming by to help the clean up. I had to tell them I didn't think they were coming. The Better Half asked me who she had to call. I told her I didn't know and that I hoped someone would recognize that a penny of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I am grateful to have had several of the Selectmen come out today and look over the deterioration of the breakwater and the over pouring of rock. One went so far as to investigate the broken storm drain and cured it at the cost of getting himself soaked. He asked not to be named and I won't, but this was service beyond the cause.

I honest to God did and will try to pull this rock away from the house, but I honest to God cannot clean up this runway. I did it in earlier storms only because I couldn't in good conscience sit at this desk and watch any one of the many seniors who enjoy this spot as my mom once did, turn an ankle or worse. The stone needs to be put back on the beach and the granite restored to a position it once was protecting the north edge of the Tower.

I am not worried about the Cottage or that we are in any danger staying here. I have had a couple of worried calls from people but that is not really the issue. I signed on to be the eyes and ears down here to avoid having problems develop. We got one now.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Not what I wanted to come home to today.

High tide today took a bad situation and made it worse. Many more rocks were deposited up against the outer runway wall and the building is wetter than at any time in the year we have been here. The entire floor of the shed is soaked and most of the runway floor is too. Haley and I had gone out yesterday to move some of the stone away from the building. I thought we had made a good dent in it and would be able to come back to it and whittle away some more. Mine was a misguided optimism. The pressure of the stones at the point where the runway meets the Tower must be immense.

The Tower is completely wrapped in beach stones to a height of two feet in most places and higher in some. Of greatest concern to me is the appearance that one of the granite blocks which creates the shield for the Tower has shifted down into the sand. Four hours after high tide the parking lot remains impassable and that water has reached a greater level than in my experience. The pictures below highlight the areas of concern.

The large piece of granite in the center of the first photo seems to have shifted back toward the beach, exposing the Tower to more stone and water. The stones that are jammed against the bulkhead door were not there yesterday at all - it was possible to walk from the point where the Bates family plaque is set to a point two feet beyond the bulkhead door without a misstep.

Postscript: I have just finished shoring up the beams in the runway with planks to protect against a cave in. Could it happen? I don't know. I just needed to do it in order to sleep tonight.

Getting the Work Done

A lot is in place for the summer and that is the result of many having put in some time. Lets start with the boardwalk. It remains a very ...