We received this photo today of Nicolai and SideStix co-founders Sarah and Kerith with their niece. Nico reports that he is having a great time and we are looking forward to more details when he returns. He tried and had success with an adaptive bicycle about which he was quite excited until he learned the price tag was $7,000. Hopefully he will discover more new adaptive technologies and make many connections for the future.
Jeanine left yesterday for the mountains of Vermont to spend a few days working on her writing at the ski cabin of a friend. When she returns on Friday I hope to add one of her photos to this post. Nico arrived safely in Winter Park, Colorado and will be attending the No Barriers Summit with the founders of SideStix. Every couple years the No Barriers Summit brings together adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts as well as scientists and innovators for an outdoor summit for the physically challenged. It combines hands-on clinics, product demonstrations, nature excursions, films, art and music, keynote addresses, leadership exercises and a scientific symposium. Back in Concord, Kyle is busy with his landscaping business and Maya attended dance camp (ballet and jazz). I had a busy day at work but found time for a lunch time walk on which I encountered this very photogenic motorcycle.
I pass through Concord Center twice every work day. On Fridays a large group of parishioners from First Parish march around the flag pole in support of those who suffer due to war. Every other day there is a kook waiving at drivers and holding an Impeach Obama sign. Today I noticed a wood ladder strapped to the flag pole and looked up to see this painter going about his business. In this day and age of bucket trucks I was very surprised to see such a rudimentary approach to this very dangerous looking job.
Nico leaves tomorrow for Colorado where he is doing a one week internship with SideStix, the company that manufactures his forearm crutches. Nico has been a beta tester for their new crutch designs and has successfully broken every part at one time or another (handle support, articulating foot, cuff retainer, shaft, and handle grip) through his normal (extremely active) use of the crutches. Each time they improve the design until it is, using their phrase, Nico Proof. During a soccer game this weekend, Nico broke the cuff support on one of his crutches rendering it completely unusable. Sending him to Colorado on a competitors crutches was not an option so this evening I devised a very clever repair. I inserted a large headed screw into the crutch shaft, drilled a couple of holes in the retainer (to create little wells) and filled the entire cavity with epoxy. Even though the epoxy does not bind to the retainer material it fills the wells and surrounds the screw to make a very strong mechanical retainer. Hopefully this will be good enough to get him to his destination where the failed component can be replaced.
This evening we enjoyed a family outing to Faneuil Hall where we dined at Quincy Market’s MMMac & Cheese (they use Cavatappi pasta and a yummy blend of cheeses for an out of this world comfort food experience). We also took in a very entertaining street performance by the Red Trousers. Jeanine and Maya can be found in the background admiring this feat of strength and balance which was nothing compared to the humor of these two characters. Earlier in the day I survived the first half of our playoff finals before my injured quad/groin gave out completely. Although I was operating at half speed and could only kick with my left foot, I did contribute to our first goal when I crashed into the keeper on a 50/50 ball which squirted out towards the net. A defender used his hand to stop the ball and we scored on the resulting penalty kick. They equalized shortly before the end of the half knotting the score at 1-1. With 35 minutes left to play one of our players was given a red card (ejected) on a ridiculous call by a control freak referee who had no business officiating a league finals match. We had to finish the match with 10 players to their eleven and with no remaining subs to their 8. It was only a matter of time before they secured the winning goal. A disappointing end to an otherwise brilliant season. Thankfully I now have some time to heal from my accumulated injuries.
Maya and I made great progress on her kayak today. Strips of 1/4 inch plywood are stitched together with narrow steel wires to form the shape of the hull. We drill holes into adjacent panels, Maya threads the wire through the holes and I twist them tight, first with my fingers and then with a set of pliers. My fingertips are raw after several hundred iterations of this tedious procedure. Once the final shape has emerged we go back and adjust the wires until we get a straight keel line and just the right contours. Tomorrow we will epoxy the joints after which the wire stitches will come out. Spending time with Maya on this project is reward enough for the effort and I enjoy watching her problem solving like a true engineer. Both boys also pitched in for a few minutes during a critical step that involved passing several 15 foot strips across my router table.
I modified my home built router table fence in preparation for a beveling operation needed for the kayak project. Half the fun for me in such projects is figuring out how to employ jigs to reduce the amount of manual labor needed or improve the quality of the resulting work. My router table fence mounts to my table saw top using powerful magnets and is equipped with a wood dust/chip collector that couples into my shop dust collection system through the saw.
Using birthday money from her grandmother, Maya had her ears pierced this evening. Jeanine, her friend Sarinnagh, and I accompanied her to the mall where we witnessed this rite of passage. I have been a major proponent of delaying this day until Maya was 30. The thought of drilling holes in otherwise perfect little ears has been contrary to my fatherly instincts. Having watched Maya mature and blossom over recent months I found myself ready to let go and enjoy this milestone in her life.
For her birthday, Maya received a wood kayak kit from her parents. When I returned from work this evening the package was waiting and Maya was anxious to get started. In a role reversal from our last kayak project, I am the assistant to Maya who has taken charge of construction. Expect to see a number of posts chronicling this project which is expected to take 80 hours for construction and 20 hours for finishing.
After work today I kayaked a new 6.2 mile section of the Concord River. The 2 hour upstream paddle took me from Bedford to the Concord Boat house. Jeanine just back from a special mother-daughter(and friend) shopping trip with Maya and Sarinnagh exchanged her car for mine at the put-in point and then picked me up and we loaded the kayak. We then returned to Bedford together where Jeanine switched back into her car and we all went out for dinner at Luigi’s Italian restaurant. It was close to 9PM by the time we were seated and dinner could not come quickly enough for this starving group.
The weather was exceptional today and I took advantage of the conditions to kayak a new stretch of the Concord River after work. I put in off Elise Rd. in Billerica and covered 6.6 miles (starting up river) in 95 minutes yielding a 4mph speed without considering stops for photography. With two more strategically placed put ins I will have covered the entire Concord River, including the last mile which is rated as Class 3+/4 whitewater during the spring runoff. A few years ago the family did a whitewater rafting trip over that section which will long be remembered for the capsize that caused Jeanine to swear off whitewater forever.
The family came out to cheer me on today as my team played in the semi-final round of our division’s playoffs. With a decisive 3-1 win we will play for first place honors next weekend. I scored one of my prettier goals of the season when I sprinted laterally across the field to win a header from their center midfielder which I placed to the feet of one of our strikers. Continuing my run and cutting to the goal, he fed the ball back to me. I beat the sweeper and unleashed a rocket which found the lower left corner of the net despite the keeper’s attempt to deflect it. Unfortunately, I did not finish the game after I injured the top of my quadriceps in a stupid attempt to save a ball from going out of bounds. My status for the finals next week is now highly questionable. Today is also Maya’s actual birthday and we had our family celebration which included a special dinner in which both father and daughter got to request foods for a special dinner. Maya received an envelope containing clues to her birthday present from Jeanine and I. The contents included a strip of fiberglass and a Popsicle stick. After some guessing she correctly deduced that her gift was a kayak. The kit will arrive this week and we will construct the wooden 14.5 footer over the summer. Maya was a daily helper as I constructed my kayak and she has always wanted to build her own.
Nicolai hosted a croquet tournament for a dozen of his friends today. He mowed the field, set up a lemonade table, and enforced a dress code. In this day and age it is nice to see a group of teenage boys enjoying an activity that does not require a Playstation or case of beer. Several boys requested portraits for their Facebook pages and I was happy to oblige them.
Maya turns twelve on Sunday and celebrated today with her friends. Nicolai contributed by designing and placing clues for a treasure hunt in downtown Concord where the party began. Returning home in advance of threatening rain the girls enjoyed playing volleyball outside before sitting down to a pulled pork sandwich/mac & cheese dinner followed by a Lemon Chiffon Funnel cake iced with real butter cream (made from scratch by Maya). The girls watched a movie before retiring to the basement for a slumber party. I was exhausted from the 22 mile round trip bike ride to/from work today and Jeanine from all the preparations for the party so we retired long before the girls did.
Last weekend I got rather beat up in my soccer match. Our opponents played a very physical game and I was cleated and kneed several times. This morning my left ankle bore witness to the injuries. Blood tends to pool in my ankle after I receive a contusion anywhere on my lower leg. Fortunately, I do not anticipate this will keep me from playing in our semi-final playoff match this weekend. Before leaving for work Jeanine called me from down the street to help rescue a very old Blanding’s turtle (on the threatened species list in Massachusetts). She encountered it crossing the road and positioned her car to protect it. When I arrived I picked it up and moved it into the grass where it would be safe from traffic and on a path to our local pond.
Prior to work I drove my mom to the bus station for her return to Schenectady but not before getting a photo of us together. She remains as spry as ever and was a huge help with the graduation party. Having just returned from an extended vacation in Spain with her brother and sister she looked both relaxed and energized. We were all very thankful that our children’s only remaining grandparent was able to participate in our celebration.
After work today I loaded my kayak on Jeanine’s car (I need to make some adaptations to my roof rack before I can use the Audi) and took it out for the first paddle of the season. We are so fortunate to live within 1 mile of the Sudbury and Assabet Rivers and only 3 miles from the Concord River. I was able to get about an hour on the water before darkness set in and with the water still relatively high was able to gunkhole in several areas I have never explored before. I nearly had a heart attack when I startled a beaver (hidden to me) and it made a spectacular dive into the water inches from my kayak. I was able to glide up on a Blue Heron and got a rather nice photo with my pocket camera. Fortunately I found the paddling motion did not bother my shoulder and is probably very therapeutic. Looking forward to getting back on the water soon with either Jeanine or one of the kids.