1995 Highlights: A Hum Drum Day on the Oregon Coast

My 1995 year-end letter where I talk about a typical day, waking up in bed with starving pets, working in a supposedly haunted Lightkeepers House, a description of The Hair Curler from Hell (the most imaginative use of binder clips ever known to womankind), and building a Dr. Seuss-like greenhouse.

T Heceta Porch

T- on Heceta Lightkeeper’s House’s Porch

 December 1995

Dear Friends and Family

What a year! No major construction projects. No major trips. No major book contracts. No major awards. No major forest fires. Yes, this time when I say it’s been “a quiet year in Waldport,” I really mean it. My life may be humdrum by most standards, maybe even by my own past standards, but it’s satisfying, and doesn’t seem a bit dull.

A typical day? Bob Edwards on NPR wakes me up. Heidi, my goofy shepherd/husky, upon hearing Newt Gingrich’s voice, whomps the radio off. I try to roll over to turn the radio back on, but immediately lose my space in the bed. Nate and Kate, my two schnooks (a.k.a the fur balls and the moronic cats) smoosh me against Heidi. This is my cue that they are all in a state of near starvation, that if I don’t feed them soon they will waste away, blah, blah, blah, and if I just bought them an electric can opener, or better yet, paid for an operation for opposable thumbs, they’d let me sleep in.

I go get my paper. Yes, the paper is delivered here. I only have to walk a mile to get it.

I go to work. Through a quirk of history, Siuslaw National Forest owns the light keeper’s house at Heceta Head Light station. The Forest had never done much with the place, but this year they thought they’d try to open it to the public. My boss, Linda, was up front and basically said, “We have less than a month’s salary for you, and almost no operating budget. See what you can do.” Through donations and a lot of hard work, we’ve made a go of it and stayed open most of the year. It’s definitely an amateur operation, but I’m having fun and the view can’t be beat! We had all sorts of antiques donated. On my grandfather’s Victrola we play all the hits that you can buy for 50¢ at the Salvation Army. For most kids who come through the house, it’s the first record they’ve ever seen.

Linda’s favorite donation is “The Hair Curler from Hell.” It is the most imaginative use of binder clips ever known to womankind. About fifty are attached to frayed electric cords, and women actually put these things on their head. One woman came in and said she’d fainted in the middle of a perm she had had done on a similar machine fifty years ago.

“What does a Hair Curler have to do with a lighthouse?” you ask. Nothing, but we talk about the lives of all the people in the area, not just the lighthouse keepers. Plus, we want the place to be fun. Everything is hands-on, and we’re especially targeting kids. One thing the kids love is our 1879 printing press, back when you could do desktop publishing and weight lifting simultaneously.

Oh, and then there’s the ghost, Rue. In addition to being the most photographed lighthouse in America, we have also acquired the reputation for being one of the most haunted houses. What the haunt index consists of, I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t believe in the ghost, but you’d be amazed at how many people do. Next year we plan on renting rooms out as a sort of bed and make your own breakfast, and we’ve had several people cancel their reservations when they heard we had a ghost. There’s a real estate company that is currently being sued because it didn’t warn a couple that the house they bought was supposedly haunted. There are advantages to having a ghost, though. If we lose or break something we always blame it on Rue.

On the way home I stop at a neighbor’s and fill my truck with manure for my garden. It’s always good to have neighbors who have lots of manure, don’t you think? I’m trying to figure out how to train the deer to selectively thin the garden’s plants. The homesteaders said one of the reasons they looked forward to deer hunting season was because it was their revenge for the deer eating all of the crops just before harvest. Not being much of a hunter, I just try shooing them. That’s one of the reasons I’m trying to build a greenhouse.

When I was building my house I wondered what I was going to do once I stopped building. I now know. I just keep on building. Since I’m using salvaged glass, the greenhouse is going to have no symmetry and will look rather like something Dr. Seuss might have designed. Of course, that’s assuming I ever finish it. And I suppose if I do, I’ll be on to another building project.

Hope all is well with you and yours. Merry Merry. Happy Holidays.


Light House Cartoons that are so cheap you can use them to wash your windows.