Posted by: tflana | June 21, 2018

Volunteer Day



     Today the Baker’s Island volunteers are coming out to the island to help Brian and I with projects to improve the 10 acre compound and buildings. I came up with 3 areas to focus on today and hopefully, as a group we can make a big dent. The 3 areas are:
1.  The clearing of bittersweet from the campsite
2.  Making a viewing area at the duck pond
3.  Sanding, scraping and painting the windows on the sun parlor.

     The Naumkeag was to arrive at the beach around 9am and as it approached the beach, it stopped near the moorings and was floating around. It turns out, Heather Goss was the next Essex Heritage staff member to take the plunge for the fund-raising campaign going on for the end of the fiscal year. If the group raised $3,000, it was Heather’s turn to go in for a swim and today was her day. It seemed like a large production out on the water for her to jump in and it turns out she may have a small fear of sharks and perhaps Captain John was telling a few fibs about the likelihood of sharks in the cold Salem waters! Heather was a trooper and did finally jump in, next up will be Annie Harris, Essex Heritage’s Director. Annie won’t be going in until the fund reaches $5000, so if anyone would like to give to a great organization, visit for more information.


     As the volunteers walked up to the compound, we all discussed what I thought should be worked on today and we were all quickly at work. Most of the group went to the campsite to battle the bittersweet, thankfully, Nat with his chainsaw arrived today and the pile of cleared bittersweet began to take shape. Unfortunately, the wood chipper decided to take a day off from work today, another part to be ordered and brought out for the weekend. We also had 2 volunteers work on making a vista at the duck pond. I had imagined a small viewing area for the pond, which has ducks and beautiful lily pads, but they stepped it up a notch and made a beautiful walkway which brings you to the pond’s edge. This is going to be a great stop for the island tours. And of course, Roberta and I continued with the porch work, sometimes I don’t think I will ever be done with the porch!


     By 2:00pm we were done and done in! It was a brilliantly blue and sunny day and the group was getting a lot of hard work done, thank goodness for the cottonwood tree’s shady area for our breaks. Once they left, Brian and I were going to clean up and go for ice cream, but Ms. Pickles changed those plans.

     Pickles woke up this morning a little wobbly and not wanting to eat her breakfast. This is always a sign something is not right with her, she is a food hog! When we walked back into the cottage this afternoon, she had a distinct head tilt and could barely balance without falling over. I did some research on the local animal hospitals in Salem and was able to schedule an appointment for her tomorrow morning at 10. I hate seeing her like this when just yesterday she was her goofy self, running around like a maniac. The plan will be to leave the island tomorrow at 8:30a to make the trip with her to the vet.


Late afternoon clouds

Low tide: 11:30am
High tide: 5:58pm
Sunrise: 5:05am
Sunset: 8:23pm
Man hours worked today: 12
Total man hours worked: 214

Posted by: tflana | June 20, 2018

     Today we started out with a plan to work through the early afternoon and then make a much-needed ice cream trip into Manchester by the Sea. The forecast was for strong NW winds this morning and was due to settle down by 2-3pm. It has been over a month since I had ice cream and it is becoming a serious craving at this point.


     Brian’s project today was to cut the wood for the kitchen porch, when we arrived the boards had rotted over time. When he dismantled the porch, there was tar paper below the boards, not allowing the collected moisture to go anywhere and a rubber matt was on top to wipe our feet as we entered the kitchen. Both caused the wood to act like a sponge and slowly rot away. I personally think Brian was tackling this job so he could play with the ATV again. I didn’t see all the pricewise cuts he needed to make but the finished project is a work of art! The final decision is to leave the tar paper out from underneath and prime all surfaces of the wood before doing the final install.

Mama Duck watching

The female mallard duck hanging out with me while I am painting

     My job for the morning was to complete the exterior green and white painting on half of the porch. The fun part of my morning is the wind was blowing around 20mph and every time I dipped the paint brush, the wind would catch the drips and I would find paint everywhere, including my hair. The wind was also playing havoc with my ladder, I sort of felt like a sail catching the wind when I was at the top of the ladder painting the top trim pieces. As I was painting, and the wind was blowing, I thought I saw a glimpse of movement behind me, but the sun was making it difficult to see what it was, maybe a ghost? No, it was actually one of the female mallard ducks wanting the fresh green growth around the front garden. She hung out with me for 15 minutes before heading back to the pond.


     As the morning turned into afternoon, the wind was not letting up. No ice cream for me again today. Brian invited me down to the beach to go sea glass and baby seagull hunting, my consolation prize! Maybe tomorrow after the volunteers head back to Salem, we can make a quick trip for ice cream.


Afternoon break in the sun parlor

This is our afternoon view on the sun parlor

Low tide: 10:30am
High tide: 5:58pm
Sunrise: 5:05am
Sunset: 8:23pm
Man hours worked today: 14
Total man hours worked: 202

Posted by: tflana | June 19, 2018

Rainy Days and Mondays

     It was decided today was going to be our day off this week. The wind predictions and heat warnings kept us from doing anything fun on shore, but we wanted to get groceries and laundry done, maybe even haircuts, and then come back to the island to enjoy the cool sea breeze instead of the 90 degrees predicted for Salem. Our morning was uneventful until we reached our van, the battery was dead! We knew we were going to need to replace it soon, but not this morning. Did I mention the van is parked in a very sunny parking area a long walk to anywhere? Brian walked back to the yacht club and asked if they might, just might, have a battery charger. Once again Salem Willows Yacht Club came through for us.

     While Brian was returning the battery charger, I was quickly searching for where we could get a new battery to start our morning off. As the morning progressed, both of us could only think about getting out of the heat and back to the island. Our morning turned into early afternoon, it was hot, and we were just a little cranky when we got back to the island around 2:30p. At this point, the winds were picking up, we got a little wet on the beach landing with the dinghy, but the eggs didn’t break, and the laundry was dry, so who were we to complain.

     Brian had far more ambition returning to the island than I did, he worked on glazing more windows and as the storm warnings kept going off on the phones, he put all the windows back into place to keep the porch dry. I lounged around knitting and watching a little Netflix.

Weather Channel Severe weather warning

The Weather Channel’s radar of the severe weather as it approaches Baker’s Island


     The approaching storm was impressive, and the island did receive much needed rain but Pickles was not happy with the amount of thunder banging around us. The one thing Brian loves is a good storm, he is still hoping a minor hurricane will hit while we are on island, but as quickly as the storm arrived by sunset the skies were bright and clearing.

After the storm sunset

How quickly things change, the skies are bright as sunset occurs


Posted by: tflana | June 17, 2018

Baker’s Island Opening Day


Today was the official opening day of Baker’s Island for the season. There were 2 tours scheduled to arrive as well as 6 overnight visitors for the Assistant Keeper’s Cottage, and the weather was perfect for everyone’s adventure today.


Brian and I spent most of the morning making sure the cottage was all turned on and ready for guests, and we set up the yard for people to enjoy some games and, of course, amazing views. The first group was to arrive at the beach for 11am and we all went down with the carts to great the guests, and the summer truly began for the island.

Pickles and Tara

Pickles and I awaiting the first boat of guests

Heather and Dave had everyone disembark and start the historical tour almost immediately, while Brian and I helped the overnighters load their gear and head up to the Assistant Keeper’s Cottage. One of the fun touches I started last year on Seguin Island was to make sure there is fresh baked goodies when they arrive to snack on, and today the group had white chocolate macadamia cookies upon their arrival. I love sharing my baking with others.



The day continued with tours and questions from the guests, sharing information with everyone about our lifestyle and what it is like to live on the island, and of course, we hope we started others to dream of adding an adventure like ours to their lives. The waters around the island were full of boats, sail, fishing, and work boats. No matter where you looked the boats were 2 and 3 deep going by the island.


Brian made sure we had the sunset cannon ready for the overnight guests to experience sunset and the flag lowering for the day. Sunset was at 8:22pm and Brian yelled out ‘Fire in the Hole’, the cannon was shot off and we lowered the flag to a near perfect day on Baker’s Island. As we were getting ready to say goodnight, there were 3 different party barges going by the island, loud music, lots of laughter and plenty of lights. What a great way to start our summer season here on the island.




Party barge

The sunset party barge going by the island

Low tide: 7:49am
High tide: 2:09pm
Sunrise: 5:05am
Sunset: 8:22pm
Man hours worked today: 6
Total man hours worked: 169

Posted by: tflana | June 16, 2018

A cold and misty morning

     This morning started out cold (54 degrees) and misty with the hopes of rain. Pickles and I decided to skip the morning walk to the beach and stayed cuddled up in the living room in front of the heater, enjoying a second cup of coffee. With this type of weather, it is hard to get motivated to tackle a project especially an outdoor project like painting the sun parlor.



Once Brian woke up, it was decided to work on the windows. He spent a good amount of time on YouTube learning how to glaze windows. What did any of us do before Google and YouTube? There were 2 window stations set up, one outside for scraping and sanding, then another one on the porch for him to glaze the window. As I was scraping, the old glaze crumbled out-of-place. We have 10 windows to do and because of space issues, we can 2 a day. This may take a while, but it will be done before the end of the month. Once I got my part done for the windows, Brian started his expert glazing and I continued painting more of the exterior. We worked until noon, when it really was just too wet to keep working.

After lunch, there was a group from Essex Heritage and the National Park Service arriving on island. The goal was to get the gift shop set up and show off the island a little to the NPS group. When the group arrived on the beach it was still wet and grey, welcome to island life! Heather gave a historical tour to the group as Brian transported the gift shop products and some building supplies up in the ATV/Cart, this really does make the walk to the house much easier. As we arrived at the tower, Heather, Charles and Anya from Essex Heritage broke off to set up the gift shop and I took the NPS group out on the trails to show them baby seagulls and to give a little more history of the island that I know. It was fun having fresh eyes to see the beauty Baker’s Island has to offer.


The group from NPS listening to the history of the Oil House from Heather, part of the Essex Heritage organization

Once we got back to the compound, I offered a snack to the group. I love to bake and when we have visitors, they usually get baked goods. Today everyone tried the Oatmeal Fudge Bars, a new recipe for me and it was met with great reviews. I have included the recipe in the blog for anyone who wants to try it. The Oatmeal Fudge Bars are very rich and have zero calories!


By the time we waved goodbye to our visitors, the skies were blue and the temperatures jumped up a little. It turned out to be a perfect afternoon on the island which gave Brian and I a chance to sit on the bench at Perkins Lookout and just watch the boat traffic go by.

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups oatmeal

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix the butter, eggs and brown sugar, add the milk and vanilla. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients. Mix well using a wooden spoon. Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Spread ¾ of the batter into the bottom of prepared pan. Then pour the melted chocolate mixture over the batter layer. With the remaining ¼ of the batter, spoon on top of the chocolate layer and gently spread out, all the chocolate will most likely not be covered, that is ok, it gives it a marbled appearance when baked. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, until top is golden brown. Cool completely before cutting to allow the chocolate mixture to firm up.

Low tide: 6:55am
High tide: 1:14pm
Sunrise: 5:05am
Sunset: 8:22pm
Man hours worked: 10
Total man hours worked: 163

Posted by: tflana | June 15, 2018

Flag Day

This morning the flag was flying at 8am to help celebrate Flag Day on the island. The west wind allowed a perfect display of the stars & stripes for all to see.

Storm Clouds

Stormy weather

Today marked the completion of our second week on the island and we both agree it feels like home already. We are looking forward to visitors to the lighthouse as much as we love each other’s company, it will be nice to finally have new people to talk to and to show off the lighthouse and all the surroundings.


Another busy day for both of us. Brian set up a window glazing station in the front porch and started the slow process of scraping the crumbling glazing off the exterior of the windows and replacing with new. He also cut a piece of glass to fit the broken pane on the porch as well. He also set up the water system in the assistant keeper’s cottage for our first overnight guests this weekend. Everything seems to be working for the Saturday arrival. As Brian was working in the basement, I opened the windows in the cottage to air it out, took all the duvets outside to get some fresh air, and did a last minute clean up of dust bunnies. The forecast is great for this weekend for the party of 6 staying with us.


My project for rest of the morning is walking the trails and cutting back bittersweet and the mulberry bush seedlings, they are as invasive as the bittersweet. As I got to Norseman Point, I realized there looked to be an old path to the left of the point, and of course, I had my loppers and pruners with me, time to start cutting. When the USCG were on the island, there was a path that followed the edge of the cliffs and my hope is to try to clear it back to its original state, but it may need to wait until July when the mama seagulls are not as protective of their newly hatched babies.


After meeting back to the cottage for lunch, I knew it was time to get back to painting the porch. As I was gathering my painting supplies, I heard an engine, and sure enough, there goes Brian down to the beach on the ATV! He was the guy who biked to work year-round instead of driving and chose sailing over powerboating but now he is the guy who gets on an ATV to walk ¼ mile to the beach! How things change! It turns out he needed to adapt his cradle for the aluminum dinghy to keep it from sliding off the wheels when going down into the water.




My project for the afternoon was to get a first coat of green on the exterior of the porch. After looking at the historical pictures in the Assistant Keeper’s Cottage, I now know the porch was call the Sun Parlor by the Keepers when they built it in 1927. Sounds so La Di Da! I will try my best to from now on call it our sun parlor not the sun porch, but in 1927, the keepers had it right, it is a sunny spot all day long. By late afternoon, the green was on most of the porch, just not the higher up posts in the corners, I need to either set up the scaffolding or have Brian hold the ladder while I am balancing up there. I am happy how it is starting to come together. It will most likely take to the end of July for us to finish the inside/outside of the porch, especially now we are replacing the window glazing before painting them, but it will give visitors a beautiful place to sit and relax.


After dinner, I left Brian sitting in the sun parlor while I took Pickles for her nighttime walk to the beach and wherever her 3 legs want to take her. Because it was a new moon, there was a lower than normal low tide tonight and the sea glass hunting was at its finest! Light blue, dark blue and a large white piece with a hole in it. A successful beach trip as far as I was concerned.


High tide: 12:22pm
Low tide: 6:17pm
Sunrise: 5:05am
Sunset: 8:21pm
Man hours worked: 15
Total man hours worked: 153

Posted by: tflana | June 14, 2018

A mad dash ashore


Flowers are in bloom in the front garden

When I sit down to write the blog every day, I can usually recreate when Brian and I got accomplished by the pictures I took. However, I am downloading the pictures for the 13th and realize it looks like we didn’t do much of anything all day. This is far from the truth.
When we woke up this morning, we saw there was a 3-4 window with manageable winds before the storm from moved in over our area. If we didn’t make a quick trip to shore to the grocery store, our next opportunity would probably be on Monday, and at that point, I would have been out of half & half for my coffee, and no one wants that to happen! So once again, we head down to the beach with out backpacks and garbage to make the multistep trip to the mainland. Here is the procedure to insure me of having coffee everyday:
1. Make sure everything is locked up on the island and put the keys in a zippered pocket in the water proof bag
2. Make sure we leave the island with our car keys
3. Give Pickles a cookie and a kiss.
4. Walk down to the beach where Brian moves the aluminum dinghy to the water’s edge
5. Row the dinghy to the Mako on the mooring, this morning I got the pleasure.
6. Transfer everything into the Mako, including the dinghy oars.
7. I check the oil, turn on the battery, lower the engine, open up the chartplotter and start the engine.
8. Brian is responsible for dropping the mooring line and off we go!
9. It takes about 25 minutes to get into Salem Willows Yacht Club but today we needed to get gas for the Mako at Jubilee in Beverly which added extra time. Once full, we set off to SWYC to tie up at the dock for a quick trip to the grocery store.
10. Once, groceries are back on the Mako, repeat steps 1-8 in the reverse order!


We made it back to the island in less than 3 hours and it was a good thing because the clouds were filling in and the wind definitely picked up since this morning. Once we got the dinghy secured, we pulled the cart up to the house to get the groceries unloaded and let Ms. Pickles have some run around time before the rain starts.


The Wonder Wash, is it worth the effort?


Because of the time crunch we had to go ashore, the major laundry trip will be Monday. The island has a Wonder Wash machine and I figured I could try out a small load of cloths to get us through the weekend. Doing laundry on the boat while in the Bahamas, is done with a 5-gallon bucket and a plunger so how hard could the Wonder Wash be? In all honesty, it would have been easier to the laundry in a 5-gallon bucket! It did use very little water, and everything would have been very clean if I had realized Brian had a pair of socks in the pile with grass clippings on them, now all the clean laundry has little pieces of grass on them.
The afternoon never produced the heavy rain predicted, just an occasional fine mist. It kept me from painting, but I did get the interior of the porch cleaned up from the sanding and scraped paint chips from the outside project. I also spent some time on my paying job for the Annapolis Boat Shows, I try to fit in my work in the early morning or during the evening hours but today the weather gave me an excuse to work during the day. Brian spent the afternoon working on one of the lawnmowers to see why it won’t start and figuring out what part might be needed. Still not sure of the outcome of that project.


After dinner, I took Pickles to the beach for a little walk about. It was low tide and I was hoping there would be enough sand for her to play on, nothing makes her happier than running on a sandy beach. There was some sand but the small rocks were more than a 3 legged chihuahua could enjoy. The short time we were down there, I did find some green and blue sea glass and she got to run the path back to the house which finally exhausted her!
High tide: 11:29am
Low tide: 5:28pm
Sunrise: 5:05am
Sunset: 8:21pm
Man hours worked today: 5
Total man hours worked: 138

Posted by: tflana | June 13, 2018

Yard Work is Never Done

Island Traffic

Todays island traffic

This morning we woke up to a high wind advisory but with sunny skies, and the advisory was correct. The wind consistently blew 20mph from the southwest and gusted to the 30’s throughout the day. The white caps and choppy seas had all the dinghies and small boats off the beach rocking and rolling. Honestly, as much as we don’t like rainy days, a little rain would go along way here on the island, everything is dry and dusty.
The plan for today was to get all the yard work done which includes weedwacking the trails back into submission. There is a lot of bittersweet out here and it grows out of control overnight. If we don’t cut it back along the trails I think the trail would grow over in less than a month! Brian started with the weedwhacker and I took the riding mower. It took us 5 hours each to get the 10 acres cut and looking presentable.


While Brian was down near the beach, he noticed a stone wall running along the beach in good condition but overgrown with bittersweet. He wanted to clear along the wall to see if led to anything fun. After about an hour of work, he found the cradles where the diesel tanks were kept. This is where the fuel would be stored for the use by the USCG when it was delivered by boat. So far, he cleared away 2 cradles. The other side of the steps where the wall is, it looks like it may have been the coal house/room, his goal is to clear that away as well over the next few days.


My afternoon project was to give the Oil House Door a facelift. I did not want to start the painting of the porch this late today, so I thought I would check off a few of the small projects on the list. While the first coat of paint was drying on the door, I went searching for any hatched seagulls. I found them everywhere, including the nest right near the walkway on the beach. This nest has 2 newly hatched babies with one egg to go. There were also freckled fuzzy balls all along the cliffs and rocks. It is almost like a ‘Where’s Waldo’ game looking for the hatchlings because they blend so well into the surrounding landscape.




Once the Oil House door was done, I took my paint supplies and painted the replaced clapboards on the Keepers House. It was still only mid-afternoon, and I already had all of the paint with me and I am somewhat impatient, so I decided to paint a short section of the porch just so I could see how it was going to look all done. And even though it was only partially done, the porch section looks great, what an improvement. Hopefully, tomorrow I will tackle the rest of it if the forecasted rain holds off.



High tide: 10:37am
Low tide: 4:36pm
Sunrise: 5:05am
Sunset: 8:21pm
Man hours worked today: 15
Total man hours worked: 133

Posted by: tflana | June 12, 2018

Day 2 of the Porch Makeover


Some color in the well garden

Some red flowers added to the well garden

Wow, today was a long work day but a lot was accomplished and the porch is looking much better. After breakfast, Brian got all the carpentry area set up again to finish replacing the rotted trim pieces and one more window sill. I finished sanding a section I realized I missed yesterday, vacuumed up the chips and dust, and got ready to prime the entire porch.


As the morning went on, the porch was starting to show some improvement. I guess sometimes things must look worse before they can look better, and trust me, last night I thought the entire project was a mistake. But now as the wood is painted white with the primer paint, it is starting to look great. Brian finished the carpentry by mid-morning and went on to replace one of the broken pieces of glass in the living room. As we were talking, I realized the reason there are missing panes of glass is because the glazing holding the glass in is crumbling away when you touch it. My decision is to hold off painting the porch windows themselves until I can scrape out the glazing and replace it, if I don’t there will be more broken glass by next spring. Add another thing to my to do list.


It did take me all day to finish priming the porch. Brian moved on to a few other projects. The boards on the porch to the kitchen are rotted. He spent most of his afternoon removing the rotted wood and has measurements for the replacement wood for when we go ashore next. His next project was to add pool noodles to the aluminum dinghy. When the dinghy and the Mako are on the mooring together, the dinghy bangs into the hull of the Mako and leaves scuff marks. This was a creative solution to a problem that was inexpensive and will last the season or maybe two. But it is an easy replacement for less than $10.
Low tide was in the afternoon which gave me a chance to beach walk and gather sea glass. This to me is my meditation, it is a silly thing to look for, a friend once said it is just glass and garbage but to me it is a small dose of beauty.


A giant leopard moth on the porch with us tonight

Our after-dinner porch time was spent looking through the open windows at the gorgeous views of Salem Sound. We hope as the porch comes together, our visitors will also use the porch as a place of rest while watching the ships go by. There was a visitor tonight that neither Brian nor I have seen before, a giant leopard moth. Its caterpillar stage is the wooly bear caterpillar, the black and orange fuzzy caterpillar that rolls up in a ball when you pick it up. I have seen these caterpillars my whole life growing up in New England but this was a first for the moth. It was about 2 inches long which research says is the male, the female is larger at 3 inches. Just another first at Baker’s Island.
High tide: 9:44am
Low tide: 3:47pm
Sunrise: 5:05am
Sunset: 8:21pm
Man hours worked today: 15
Total man hours worked: 108

Posted by: tflana | June 11, 2018

The Keepers Porch Makeover

We arrived back on island yesterday with the wood and glass needed to start the Keeper’s Cottage makeover, and it needed it. When the volunteers were out on Friday, they started the paint scraping job to unveil a lot of wood rot, mostly the trim pieces and sills of the windows. The carpentry shop was set up in the front yard by using the new ATV and its tow cart. So much easier than pulling around a dock cart but it probably was overkill, but it was fun!


The ATV to help transport supplies from the beach to the houses

It was an early morning start because we knew there was many days work ahead of us. Our goal today was to put up all the new wood, get all the porch windows to open, and to have all the old wood scraped and sanded. As we were moving along, we found a few more pieces under the windows rotted as well, so we improvised with the wood on hand to replace these pieces as well. As Brian was working on getting all the windows to open, one window had a lot of rot on the bottom rail, it looks like he will need to create some sort of corner brackets to repair it, now on the list for Monday to fix. I got all the wood scraped and sanded, now ready for the primer tomorrow. There are 2 small pieces still to be replaced but it will get done.




The porch at break time, a gorgeous day for working.


Brian checking on the progress after lunch


The front yard carpentry shop run by gas generator


Brian replacing one of the last trim pieces for the windows


The Keepers Porch at the end of day 1

Our entertainment for the day was watching the many boats sailing by the island, it was such a perfect day to be on the water. Jealousy was a major feeling as we were working on land and the conditions for that perfect sail were all around us. We will have to live vicariously through the Salem area boaters.


After a long day’s work, most landlubbers would call for take out for dinner, but I don’t think any one would deliver out to Baker’s Island. I made a cast iron pan pizza from scratch, it was a Chicken BBQ pizza with cheddar cheese (I didn’t have any mozzarella). It was as good as any take out and made for an easy Sunday night dinner.
High tide: 8:52am
Low tide: 2:55pm
Sunrise: 5:05am
Sunset: 8:20pm
Man hours worked: 16
Total man hours worked: 93

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