Preservation 50 Friday: Saving Gay Head Lighthouse

Gayhead Lighthouse

Gay Head Lighthouse sits with moving banner and reinforcements around its base.

The successful moving of the Gay Head Lighthouse highlights the impact concerned citizens can have on preserving Lighthouses and other precious landmarks.

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha's Vineyard.

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha’s Vineyard.

Millions of dollars were donated to save the lighthouse (that saves lives) from falling off Gay Head Cliffs.


Be SMART in the New Year


West Chop Lighthouse

West Chop Lighthouse at Martha’s Vineyard.

Next year I want to paint SMART. I’ve got a long list of lighthouses to paint.

There are about 450 lighthouses in the United States and I’ve painted 15 of them since March. Many are inaccessible or located in remote locations which makes it challenging but not impossible. I was fortunate to visit four lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard in one day without a car. It took planning and perseverance. Lots of things went wrong.

Edgartown Lighthouse

Edgartown Lighthouse at Martha’s Vineyard.

I want to paint all the remaining lighthouses on Florida’s west coast. But what’s my plan?

Well, I saw this article on “The Resolution Revolution” by Gary Scheiner of Integrated Diabetes Services. He said the key to being successful with New Year’s Resolutions is being SMART. I’m not into resolutions but I do like having a plan of attack for goals.

In the SMART system goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Limited.

Gay Head Lighthouse.

Gay Head Lighthouse at Martha’s Vineyard.

He was talking about diabetes but I think the SMART plan can be applied to any situation.

It works this way:
I want to eat better/ I will limit my nighttime snacks/I will have one snack each night/ I will have only one snack on weeknights/which will help me control my nighttime blood sugar and sleep better/for the entire month of January.

East Chop Lighthouse.

East Chop Lighthouse at Martha’s Vineyard.

Finally, he says consider what will motivate you and ease the path toward goal achievement, and consider obstacles that might get in the way.

Don’t Break The Family Bank During Christmas

Marker at Gay Head Cliffs

Marker for Gay Head Cliffs, a Registered National Landmark.

Planning activities for the kids’ Christmas break with no ideas what do to? Getting Christmas gifts but low on cash for R&R for the kids? Why not visit a National Park?

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha's Vineyard.

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha’s Vineyard.

With more than 400 national parks and thousands of historic and recreational lands there are endless ways to find your unique connection and save money during the holidays. The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation are inviting people to Find Your Park.

The idea is to connect with a park and share your story by using #findyourpark. Kids can even take a Flat Stanley along for a photo op and share their story. Flat Stanley is a literacy project that encourages kids to write about their travels. To learn more about the Flat Stanley project visit

For more information or to locate a National Park visit


Thanksgiving and Martha’s Vineyard

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha's Vineyard.

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha’s Vineyard.

I can still remember standing spellbound looking at the wonders of the Gay Head Cliffs

During the summer, I visited the Gay Head Cliffs and Lighthouse in the town of Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard. Aquinnah is the home of the Wampanoag tribe. The Wampanoags are the Native Americans in the Thanksgiving story. The Wampanoags lived in coastal Massachusetts and Martha’s Vineyard thousands of years before the Pilgrims.

Gay Head Lighthouse

Gay Head Lighthouse Copyyrighted by Elaine Marie Austin

According to the Aquinnah Cultural Center’s website, Aquinnah was the most populous and organized of the Wampanoag and were able to maintain control over their land. The Wampanoag common lands now include the Gay Head Cliffs, Herring Creek and Lobsterville.

For more information on the Wampanoag tribe, visit the Aquinnah Cultural Center website at


Mix up at Martha’s Vineyard

West Chop Lighthouse

West Chop Lighthouse

When someone asked the bus driver a question, he looked at a sign to see what bus he was driving before he gave out information. This should have been a clue not to ask him anything. Still I asked where to catch the return bus before getting off at the West Chop lighthouse. The next bus would be back one and a half later. I was on a tight schedule and had one more lighthouse to do. If I stayed on schedule, I would have time for dinner before sketching the last lighthouse.

West Chop lighthouse was on private property so I stood outside the fence to draw. I drew the Jupiter Lighthouse in the parking lot so this was no big deal.

After I finished drawing the lighthouse and I waited for bus where I was told to stand. As the bus passed nearby I realized I had been given faulty information. After venting with the transit authority, I decided to sit on the beach and enjoy the view. Relaxed I watched the waves and realized this was the only leisurely time I would have at a Vineyard beach. I even put my foot in the 50 degree water. What was I thinking??


Ideal Setting at Martha’s Vineyard

Edgartown Lighthouse

A Festive look at Edgartown Lighthouse.

According to the sign, the Edgartown Lighthouse was a popular place for weddings. It was easy to imagine wedded bliss in this platonic setting with flowers in full bloom.

Edgartown Lighthouse is located in a plush resort town. I had passed by restaurants, art galleries, churches, houses, and resort hotels on my way to the lighthouse in this idyllic and picturesque town. Boats lined the ocean and people strolled along the shore.

Edgartown was my first stop of the day. I had read that Florida lighthouses were tall because the land was near sea level. Still I was struck by the contrasts between the tall Florida lighthouses and this one
short one.

Since the lighthouse was closed, I rapidly began sketching. Three more lighthouses to go in one day!


Boston on a dime

Downtown Boston near Suffolk University.

Downtown Boston near Suffolk University.

I’ve heard that Boston is one of the most expensive places to live but wise travelers can save a dime. I landed at Logan International Airport recently for the “Widening the Cycle Exhibit” and “Menstrual Health Conference” at Suffolk University in downtown Boston. Although I caught a ride with my cousin, my roommate rode on Mass Bay Transit Authority from the airport to downtown for free. It seems the Silver Line is free from Logan Airport inbound to South Station (including a free transfer to the Red Line).

The statue pays tribute to the founder of Harvard University, Rev. John Harvard.

The statue pays tribute to the founder of Harvard University, Rev. John Harvard.

After departing the airport, my cousin took me on a tour of Cambridge. We grabbed a smoothie at “Life Alive” and walked on the campus of Harvard University. Once back in downtown Boston, I settled down for the night at Suffolk University. The following day, I shopped nearby at the Downtown Crossing on Washington Street. You’ll find stores like H&M, TJ Maxx, Payless, upscale stores and restaurants.

Monument to the 54th Regiment.

Monument by Augusta Saint-Gauders of the 54th regiment at Boston Common.

I had a slice of a Mediterranean Pizza at Sal’s on Tremont for under $6. My roommate joked that the server had a crush on her because the pizza was so large. When looking at mine she laughed, ”He must have a crush on everyone!” The pizza was not your typical fare. Sal’s is known for large servings. His grandparents emigrated from Naples and began serving Neapolitan pizza. Sal continues the tradition by making pizza with the freshest ingredients. He opened his first store in 1990 in Boston’s North end. Not sure if this store was the original location. With stand up tables only at Sal’s, we headed to the Boston Common for lunch on a bench. Squirrels mimicking “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and begging for food finally chased us away.

The Thinking Cup in downtown Boston.

The Thinking Cup in downtown Boston.

Later that night I had a bad case of the munchies and purchased a Passion Fruit cheesecake and a cup of tea at the “Thinking Cup” on Tremont for under $10.


My painting, “Death of Fertility” was in the exhibit “Widening the Cycle.”

The next day I went to the “Widening the Cycle Exhibit” opening reception and had dinner at Papagayo’s Mexican restaurant on West Street. Not much fanfare there but it was convenient to where we were staying. I had Black Bean soup for under $8 as an ethnic twist on my salute to “Beantown.”