from the watering system I rigged up. Beans poor, one good squash plant out of the dozen planted. One problem
is that the soil is almost 100% peat (don't know why). I need to add to it- eg- manure, topsoil, seaweed, and
maybe some fertilizer, though I really don't want to add the latter.
Grass I planted on the east side between the house and cliff has really come a long way - with work. It was bare
peat and patches of scraggle when I first bought the island, the peat being eroded in storms, and covering
everything when dry when the wind blew. The grass keeps everything in place
Still so much I want to do before I close-up (frown) for the season.
If I stay into late November, I MUST improve the heating and lighting situations.
Watering System for Garden
(shop roof, makeshift angled gutter,
old barrels to collect water from
gutter, hose with clamp inserted in
barrel above garden elevation;
water gravity-fed to garden when
hose clamp removed).
I rigged this system from materials
lying around in the shop and under
the house. The garden has a
slightly lower elevation than the
shop, allowing for a gravity feed. I
increased the flow rate by raising
the barrels one foot, by placing
scrap wood underneath them. Fun
It's now 10:00 A.M.. Spent an hour with "Albert Russell", the big old iron winch in the boathouse, hitting it with
a hammer and wirebrush to get the pounds of rust off so I can apply the magical Rust Converter. I've put
some of the leftover spaghetti and sauce from yesterday on the stove to reheat. 10:00 A.M. or 11:00 A.M., no
matter. I eat here when I'm hungry.
After the hour with the winch, I checked the tower staircase again. Good. Dry enough to paint THAT with the
Rust Converter. Hence I swept the staircase down well and will go at it AFTER my pasta. The boat winch is in
amazing shape despite being approx 140 years old. Operates perfectly. I'll get it looking like new and grease it
up. Satisfying project!
Watched the boat WANDERER, out of Eastern Harbor (east of here), go after sea urchins, no more than 50
yards from my kitchen window, as I ate my pasta. I didn't know at first what they were doing because I didn't
see the diver enter the water. All I saw were two red round floats in the water and the sterman attach a mesh
bag to a line in the water connected to one of the floats, and then pull up a full bag (of urchins, I later
realized; the bag filled by the diver underwater scouring the bottom) five - ten minutes later. They repeated
this process several times, quickly getting bag-full after bag-full, before I realized what was going on - ie- when
the diver surfaced. If they keep taking urchins at that rate, goodbye urchin industry!!
Put on my goggles and tackled the circular iron tower staircase with the Rust Converter. Time consuming with
all the ornate jigs and jags. Did about five steps, then retired to the Music Room to read prone for an hour.
Tackled three more steps and decided to call it quits for today. The fumes are sicky (had my mask on this
time, to avoid losing even more of my mind).
Seal Watch Boat from Bar Harbor went by
twice this afternoon. Waved, as usually do.
But, no longer tooting his horn. (Maybe
thinks he is annoying me. Not at all). I
always wonder whether the people on
board are wondering who the crazy person
is living in this island lighthouse or
whether they are thinking what a wonderful
life I have out here.
Just remembered that the Lighthouse
Siightseeing Plane from Bar Harbor flew over
again yesterday, circled twice. I waved from the
grass in front of the kitchen. He dipped his wings.
It's about 4:30 PM now. Fog and drizzle. I took on a quick, but satisfying project about an hour ago: Lying at
the edge of the grass and only feet from the drop to the water east of the tower is the old lightstand from the
tower. Rusting away, dying, lonely and forlorn. I would guess by the looks of it that it has been lying there for
decades. Why, I don't know. Obviously someone removed it at some point and pushed it out of the tower and
off the catwalk to land below. Every time I have walked past that old relic, I have gotten a little twinge. So,
about an hour ago, I grabbed my hammer and wire brush and paint brush and took the top off of, guess
what? The Rust Converter of course!! It wasn't drizzling then, but see if it will take given the fog was rolling in
with its mist. The top plate is pretty far gone. But I gave it an extra heavy coat. Will see in the morning how it
has fared. At least I have stopped the deterioration for now.
Photo (right) approx 1979.
Daughter Kim and I on a visit to
Mark Island and the lighthouse.
One of several times we snuck out
over the years to check it out. Here
the island was still owned by the
Pruhommeauxs, four years before
it was sold to Gerald Kean in 1983
for $87,500, but essentially
abandoned and untouched for
more than 20 years. Yet, strangely,
there was butter on the kitchen
table; this time and every time we
went out . If I remember correctly, I
am reading here from a 30 year
old New York Times found in the
enormous piles of old newspapers
and the British magazine, Punch,
in the shop. Piles still there and
sagging the northwest corner of
the shop's floor when I bought the
island 16 years later. Did I throw
them out? Of course not. Good
reading material. I reinforced the
shop floor instead!
Below right was a bit of a gas! Flash
forward to August, 1995, the month I
purchased the island. Here is my
Dad, at head of table, sulking just a
tad on learning that he would be
sleeping on a day bed in the little
bedroom. Glena Kean, left, trying to
maintain composure; Gerald Kean
turning down his hearing aid volume.
When I purchased the island from
the Kean's, I invited them to come out
for a stay, and invited my dad up from
New York, thinking he would love it
and that it would give him something
to talk about with his friends.
There were some comical
moments-eg- Gerald pulling out and
stepping on his hearing aid and I
putting a ladder to the side of the
house the next day so I could get a
little quiet break. Oh, my.
I think I will have macaroni and cheese for dinner with peas or a
lettuce salad from the garden.
I want to remember to write about my ill-fated chickens at some
point, and about what happened to the float when the remnants
of Hurricane Bertha came through, and my plans for remedying
I'm thinking now about not spending the winter in Portugal as
planned. I've spent only three days at the farm since the end of
April !! I vowed after last winter that my winters in Maine are
history. Spoiled by three winters in St Martin. And I won't. But I
need about two months at the farm to do what I need to do there.
Ewes getting pregnant and all. Alfalfa needing planting. Pigs and
lambs needing to get to the slaughterhouse and freezer. Better
get my plans in order.
Tuesday 10 September 1996 continued
. urchin divers
Carrots love the soft peat on the
island. No thinning necessary! All
the vegetation in photo are carrot
tops! Poking a tiny carrot seed
into the soil and then pulling a
carrot 90 days later is something
EVERY child should experience.
The wind is such that the garden
needs to be covered after
seeding. Bunny discovered this in
1939 after watching her day of
garden work blow towards
"This business of conversation is a very serious matter. There are men whom
it weakens one to talk with an hour more than a day's fasting would do."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table