Nantucket Boomerang


We always return to the island…

boomerang1 (1) nantuckmap

We left Hyannis and the mainland behind and made Nantucket in an hour. Part-time island resident Penn met us at the harbor and helped us truck our stash of sashes and tools to The North Church where we were replacing and repairing windows.


Penn was in a bit of a hurry–a careless landscaper didn’t get the memo to not step on a custom plaster panel she had set aside to dry–and she needed to make time to get the job done. She navigated that Tacoma through the brick and cobblestone alleys like a BOSS. You know those extended Bond chase scenes in and out of fruit vendors and tiny streets? Like that.

Penn, when she’s not bringing two landsmen on a  Nantucket sleigh ride, creates things like this:

The internationally respected artist and plasterer Penn is humbly exceptional. Also, I promised Michael I wouldn’t mention about the time she humbly brought him to a draw during an arm wrestling match.

But let us away, sinners, and return to our church story…

These gracefully austere Congregationalist church windows weren’t going to paint themselves. At MLB Restorations, we DO windows. So, back in Plymouth, we enlisted some help in getting both sash and storms primed.

Michael got it started…


Then he conscripted Jacob…


And before we knew it, it was a peppy painting party!


That is, if painting a window with 30 lights/side is your idea of a good time…

Above, Rich, Andrew, Michael and Jacob were lent moral support by Pret, whose pastels forbade him from putting brush to sash. We understood. I did my share as well. Mine are the ones which look like they were finger-painted by a near-sighted meth addict.

In keeping with Michael’s philosophy of saving as much of the original as practically possible, several of the windows were a hybrid of old and new–the rotted bits being removed and faithfully replaced.


Back on the island, the North Church Vestry had a work in progress vibe.


We would take out the storm-lashed sashes, return the restored, and take out more of the well-worn.


The minister of the church gave us a looking good as he went about his ministerly duties. I was hoping that the dropped box of wood screws which hit the floor loudly and skittered unrepentantly before the altar would have little bearing against my already slim chances for salvation.

The work itself was straightforward enough and we made decent progress on a muggy summer day in paradise. Lunch brought us past what is probably the prettiest alley you’ve never thought to take a leak in:


My god, Nantucket–even your forgotten alleys are charming!

While taking out a storm window, we had the feeling that we were being watched:


Merry Christmas Mr. Copper! I see you haven’t quit flashing…

If we were to make the 4:30 ferry, it was time to start tooling down. We understand and accept that the REAL painters who follow are going to curse us loudly and longly. But it didn’t stop us from taking a last look at the day’s work…


…and putting it into the bigger picture–


It was hard to read the faces of the church faithful, though. I think there’s a hint of approval, beneath stoic, quakering, whale-oiled visages…


We had several windows to take back to Plymouth to “have some work done”. So, we half-ran the quarter mile down to the dock with several sashes in our arms–hammers, block planes, and flat bars as ballast. It’s a funny thing saying pardon me through an old church window to vacationing Californians and New Jersians as you traipse along the cobblestones. I wish I had a picture of it.

What’s the joke about the guy who throws a boomerang which doesn’t come back and so now he lives in constant anxiety? Well, no fear Nantucket, we’ll return soon enough, freshly primed windows in hand.

blue acorn

Epilogue: I know I promised to continue posting about the finishing of the tree house, but for whatever reason, I just CAN’T approach the blogging of it in a linear fashion. Mea culpa. I mean, that shiz has been done for a fortnight now! I’ll continue to parcel out tree house posts as the muses allow. There’s a boatload to share about it. 

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4 thoughts on “Nantucket Boomerang

  1. John Wolf says:

    Nice job! I’ve done a little bit of sash work, was near sighted when I started, near sighted and cross eyed when I finished. Might I suggest “square pegs” for the artisan’s blog?

    • Rick says:

      Michael’s got “a guy” who does much of the window repair, John. It is close, eye-destroying work, isn’t it? I will throw your name into the artisan’s blog name hat. I think it’s a good one, and you will undoubtedly be paid handsomely should they choose it.

  2. Steve says:

    sweet writerly skillz Mr. Mckee!

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