Rob took us out on the Nicholas with stops along the way to drop off one tech near Fort Wadsworth and pick up another near the Verrazano Narrows from massive freighters anchored in the Harbor. I tell you, the Staten Island shoreline looks mighty nice from the water. It just may revert back to the 1800s when the Island was a weekend and summer retreat for wealthy Manhattanites.
Coop painted the ceiling window surrounds that Robb had prepped the prior week and they look so great. Jeez, why do I never have my camera when I need it? Eileen continued painting the fourth floor landing. First she caulked all the holes and rough places on the beadboard, as Laura had suggested we do after we put on the first coat of paint. The caulk dries quickly, and by the time she had worked her way around the room and across the beadboard ceiling, the caulk had dried where she had started and she could paint. By lunchtime she’d covered the ceiling and the top half of the walls with a second coat of that bright white paint. She’s quick and clean.
Her lifelong friend Michele (six months older than she), lovely, strong, a lighthouse lover who has visited many in Europe, was great. She helped Eileen upstairs and then came down to the workroom to sand doors. All day Michele listened and understood what was needed—moving doors from one floor to another, bringing supplies up and down, sweeping, vacuuming, cleaning up. She worked and liked working amid all the lighthouse gives you. She’s another Noble Crew person, like Robb; too bad she lives in Paris…
Coop got front and back coats on the doors—two kitchen cabinet doors, an entry door, and a closet door. The day was so sunny and breezy, and the wood so thirsty after all that Peel Away and sanding, that the finish dried quickly.
I got things organized, though Coop and Eileen know the score, and pitched in on the sanding, worked the half-cabinet door where there was still Peel Away on the back. I finally let go, realizing that it wasn’t necessary; the doors we’d done are exquisite, flaws and all. “Who,” I thought, “will notice some recalcitrant grey paint? Perhaps some stuffy preservationist. Not anyone else who looks at these very old doors so lovingly restored.”
We broke for lunch on the plinth again—it’s cool down there and with the lighthouse at our backs, we were shielded from the wind. Bing cherries, Eileen’s edamame, and Coop stretching, turning, sliding, lifting in his forms on the promenade against the Bayonne line.
Grimly I went in and faced what I’d said I’d do—I do what I say I’ll do, short of murder. So I cleaned up, moved a door or two, and poured bleach through my yellow funnel from home into a spray bottle. What else did I need? Oh yes, Ciro’s mold retardant in another spray bottle, and rags, a broom and dustpan, a pail for garbage, a pail for dirty rags, a couple of jugs of water and a bucket. And for me a tyvek suit and helmet, goggles, plastic gloves—not the heavy ones.
I’d covered the Coast Guard, NOAA, and Wheel equipment with Coop’s Daily News and taped it down before lunch. Suited like a rocket man, I entered the equipment room, removed stuff like the Loveable Loo, and then started spraying bleach and wiping it down, moving across the walls and ceiling, hitting the black dirt and mold. The goggles fogged up in the stuffy room, but it looked better around the bad spots, though it took a couple of passes with bleach. At more than one point I took the goggles and helmet off and stuck my whole head out the round window on the landing. Ah, those lighthouse breezes are the best.
After Eileen’s critical acclaim I hit the surfaces again and let the bleach sit for awhile while I asked Michele to start getting ready to sweep and shop vac. Coop had already moved the generator out. Then I sprayed mold retardant in the equipment room, even on the floor, and left. Ugh--but what a relief to strip off that tyvek.
We cleaned up and watched the Erin Miller speed out to get us. Getting a splash of Bay water as it skimmed the waves and rushed back to home was almost as good as a shower.
Lighthouse Log Book is a series of stream of consciousness writings by Executive Director Erin Urban after each Crew date at Robbins Reef. It’s informal and meant to impart a sense of the energy of the volunteers and the work they accomplish in regular seven-hour workdays to Robbins Reef Lighthouse.