Jeanine normally retrieves the mail from our box and it is not something I am in the habit of doing. This morning I was delighted to find two letters from Maya which arrived earlier this week describing life at camp . Both contain requests for a hair brush and the second a plea for skin moisturizer. Pictured here is a care package prepared by the boys and I which in addition to the requested items includes a letter from each of us and several delectable contraband items.

In an effort to start preparing for the fall soccer season I did a 14 mile bike ride while enjoying an absolutely perfect summer day. My knee is still bothering me a little and I am hoping it will be ready in 4 weeks. The one way distance to work is 11 miles and I have been toying with the idea of making the commute on bike. We shall see.

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Nico now has his driving permit and offers to chauffeur me at every chance. We practiced a three point turn and did two passes on the very intimidating Concord rotary before going out together for dinner.

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This is much closer to what I looked like most of the time during high school. Throw in a suit and regular tie and I would have had a much better senior photo.

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During my off site meeting yesterday I promised to send colleagues my high school senior photo. Hard to say which is more embarrassing, the Afro or the bow tie. Note to children: Think carefully about what you wear and how you look when taking a photo that will follow you for the rest of your life. Note to colleagues: Use of this photo for purposes of extortion will be viewed dimly.

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A very productive all day session with my boss and colleagues ended, at my insistence, in a team photo. Among this group I learned that one was nearly killed in an armed robbery attempt, one cried at his wedding, one has made a hole-in-one, one escaped from the police on a mini-bike, one met Mohammad Ali, one is a descendant of Henry the Eighth, one hike 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail, one had an Afro in high school, and one worked in a gold mine.

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This pond and fountain is located on the International Golf Course in Bolton, MA. The senior leadership team from iRobot is having dinner and spending the night at the adjacent conference center in advance of an all day goal setting meeting tomorrow. Enlarging the photo will reveal a nice rainbow formed in the mist from the fountain.

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Kyle purchased his first vehicle today, a Ford F-150 which he plans to use for his business. We insisted on dual air-bags but beyond that Kyle did the research and choose this model. There are a couple of small items that need to be addressed, but by and large it is in very good condition compared to many of the other trucks we looked at.

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Kyle and I spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening inspecting and testing used trucks. He has narrowed his choice to Ford F-150s and we looked at four of them. I tried to document the issues with each truck to help us remember. Here I have managed a self portrait while trying to document a crack in the side view mirror. Our travels took us to Worcester, Ashland, and Lexington. The final truck, a 2002 model year, with airbags and air conditioning looked like a good choice and Kyle will be finalizing the negotiations tomorrow.

Maya has settled in at camp and passed her swim test on the first attempt. Jeanine, who returned this evening, reports that Maya will be sleeping in a lean-to (three walls and a roof) and that the setting is idyllic.

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Kyle has been after me to teach him how to use a chainsaw (he feels this would be a good skill to have for his landscaping business). This afternoon he received his first lesson and for homework we felled an oak tree that has been depriving Jeanine’s tomato plants of adequate sun. We had to exercise great care because the tree was naturally poised to fall directly onto the raised bed garden containing the tomato plants. Using a carefully cut hinge we dropped that tree within millimeters of our target. You would think that today’s photo , therefore, might show Kyle in the act of sawing on a tree but I was more concerned with carefully monitoring his technique rather than capturing it. Instead we have a bunch of bulbs from the Verrill farm stand where I made a brief visit to pick up some fruit and bread.

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During the summer months, iRobot employees are encouraged to put a little extra time in early in the week so that they can take advantage of a half day Friday. This was my plan but by the time I cleared a number of unexpected challenges it was late in the day. I decided to photograph some flowers as a virtual gift for Jeanine and Maya who are in Burlington Vermont this weekend visiting with Jeanine’s sister Susan. Tomorrow Maya will be dropped off at camp and it will be weeks before I see her again.

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Maya says goodbye to Nala this morning as she prepares to leave for a 3 week summer camp experience in Vermont by way of a weekend visit to her Aunt Susan in Burlington. Among the activities she will enjoy is mountain climbing and she has been walking around the house with her loaded back pack to prepare for the adventure.

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This animal may look like a dog but it behaves like a cat. The fact that we named her Nala, after the lioness in the Lion King, probably initiated her species confusion disorder. She is smart, can do all kinds of tricks (when she is in the mood) and is quite gentle with children, babies, and even the UPS man. Let her off leash, however, and she turns into an independent spirit who regardless of the inducement cannot be motivated to return unless she is good and ready.

This evening Jeanine an I took her on a walk in our back field which was occupied by a flock of geese. Neither of us could resist the temptation to let her chase them. Once liberated she made short work of dispersing them to the winds and took several high speed victory laps before disappearing into the thick underbrush which surrounds the adjacent pond. Just as we had surrendered all hope of seeing her again, she emerged, covered to the knees in mud looking quite content. After hosing her off she was returned to incarceration behind the electric containment fence and liberty privileges will not soon be granted again.

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Maya models the new summer dress that her grandmother made for her. I probably should have spent a moment ironing it first but I am a man. I can claim ownership of an iron and the knowledge to use it (to affix wood veneers with thermally activated adhesives to MDF substrate or to steam wood for bending).

Kyle sold the Honda Odyssey today and will use the proceeds to fund the purchase of a truck for his business. Nicolai is in New Hampshire with a friend at their summer home.

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To say that Nicolai is hard on crutches would be an understatement. This evening one of his six month old, state of the art crutches failed catastrophically. The aluminum tubing just above the grip support weld snapped off. Fortunately Nico was not injured but did miss his soccer game for lack of a back up. Nico was a field tester for SideStix, the manufacturer of the crutch, and they have been really great to work with. I have little doubt they will replace the failed crutch and study the one we return to improve the design and/or manufacturing process. Nico has a set of titanium crutches he will fall back on but he finds it very difficult to switch between dissimilar crutch designs and prefers the more comfortable SideStix.

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I caught up with my father on his morning walk and despite a sleepless night am feeling much better this morning. Maya brought some fabric to Schenectady and this morning my mother turned it into a beautiful dress which will no doubt be featured in a future photo. She still uses the sewing machine given to her by her father as a wedding present more than fifty years ago.

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Today I spent the bulk of the day layed up with an intestinal flu or food poisoning but did get outsdie for a brief tour of my mother’s Japanese style gardens. Over the years, my siblings and I have encouraged our parents to consider moving to a smaller more practical home. What do two eighty somethings need with an 8 bedroom, 3 story home after all?. To wander through the gardens, decades in the making, is to understand but one component of their reluctance to leave.

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