Kindred Souls

2011-11-29 073412 130.JPG To my way of seeing things, Nala is more trouble than she is worth. Lately she has been breaching her electric fence (even with it set to maximum shock level). She returns covered in ticks or bathed in the aroma of skunk. When she is inside she wants to go out. When she is outside she wants to come in. She has learned how to open the lever handled outside doors but not to close them behind her. Despite the constant aggravation it is hard not to love the way she interacts with the family.

Dash of Color

2011-11-29 083045 186.JPG Even on the grayest of days there was a splash of color to be found in the yard. With day light growing shorter each day it is increasingly challenging to find interesting photographic subjects when I am not at work. Nicolai began editing video footage that we shot together last weekend of him doing all manner of stunts on his crutches. The founders of SideStix, the company which designed his crutches, have requested a short clip to put on their website. Tomorrow night they will be appearing on the CBC television show called the Dragon’s Den, where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business concepts and products to a panel of Canadian business moguls who have the cash and the know-how make to help them succeed. They expect the national exposure to drive traffic to their website and Nico was more than happy to help out.

5 Years Ago

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Anytime I take vacation I can count on a very busy day in the office when I return. Such was the case today and there was no time for even a single photograph. Consequently I went into my time machine and set the clock for November, 2006 returning with this image of Maya and one of her pets.

Goldilocks

2011-11-27 232616 114.JPG Just as Goldilocks searched for a bed that was just right, our dog Nala was caught this evening sampling a new piece of furniture in the music room. She has been banned from our recently reupholstered family room couch and is now intent on finding an equally comfortable substitute.

With Nico out on a babysitting gig, Jeanine, Maya and I took in the movie, Hugo, which I can highly recommend. This was my first 3D movie (I don’t get out much) and must say that the effect was used with great artistic impact and made for an extremely immersive experience.

River Tour

2011-11-26 121047 381.JPG Finally, after two failed attempts earlier this week, I was able to get on the water with my nephew Johnie today. The weather was perfect for our one hour round trip from the Concord Boat House to the Old North Bridge. The exercise felt great after several days of feasting. Johnie took Kyle to the airport this afternoon for his return flight to San Jose and we are once again down to a family of four.

Facebook Portrait

2011-11-25 171733 102.JPG Having done some serious damage to my weight maintenance plan yesterday I was all too happy to learn of a 10AM pick-up soccer game at the high school. Children were specifically invited to join the more seasoned (old and slow) players. Nicolai, his cousin Johnie, and Maya all joined me for what turned out to be a great game. We played full field until the numbers grew to the point where we split into two cross-field games. Although he turned his ankle mid-way through the game, Johnie scored a phone number from a local girl who is attending Wellesley. Nicolai was approached by the CCHS varsity soccer coach after our game and asked to play in the alumni match being contested on the adjacent field. Later he approached me and asked that I encourage Nico to try out for the team next year having distinguished himself in the game among a group of players who have won the state championship in 2 of the last 3 years. Plans for a mid afternoon kayak run were thwarted by our fall clean up crew which blocked access to the garage with their equipment. The kayaks are loaded, however, and I hope to be on the water tomorrow. John requested a photograph for his Facebook page and I was more than happy to oblige.

Thanksgiving Feast

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With much to be thankful for our family, joined by my sister and hers, and by good friend Susan Reynolds enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The kids have matured to the point where they remained for quite some time at the table to share in post-feast conversation with the adults. The children eventually retreated to the kitchen for card playing and the adults to the family room for an old movie. My mother was missed by all but we reached out for a group phone call and it sounded like she is doing a bit better. Jeanine prepared a dinner plate for her with all the fixings and hopefully this will be a small consolation.

As a child, Christmas was my favorite holiday. Since becoming an adult, Thanksgiving reigns supreme. A day to gather with family and friends, to prepare and share food together and to give thanks for our many blessings. What holiday could be more perfect. As was my father’s tradition, we went around the table, each of us sharing our reasons for being thankful. Health and family were the dominant themes. I expressed gratitude for the courage of my family in the face of challenge.

Greek Goddesses

2011-11-23 165948 985.JPG It is not everyday that you return from work to discover a trio of Greek Goddesses making a movie in your home. Prohibited from the set I captured these images, from the adjacent room, as Maya (Hestia) directed and filmed her classmates (Demeter and Hera) for a project they are doing on the Greek mythology.

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Speaking of Goddesses my sister Alissa and her daughter Rachel arrived today from upstate New York and were joined by her son John William who drove over from Babson College where he is a freshman. Due to work obligations, John senior will not be joining us until tomorrow. Unfortunately my mother, who had originally planned to join them for the visit, will not be making the trip due to illness. We considered bringing the feast to her but the last minute logistics proved to be too much.

A Door Opens

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Last week Nicolai learned that his coach had selected him as a co-captain of the varsity wrestling team.

Today he learned that he will never wrestle again.

Last season he suffered from a number of “stingers” which caused his arms to go numb. A visit to the neurologist today revealed from his MRI scans that he has two bulging discs between the vertebrae in his neck (C4/C5 and C5/C6) that are impinging on his spinal cord. A further bulging or herniation of either disc could result in permanent loss of feeling in his arms or paralysis. The doctor reassured Nico that his current situation is stable but felt the risk of continuing to wrestle was unacceptably high given the potential consequences.

We were all despondent over the news. Wrestling is the one sport in which Nico felt he could compete on equal footing (no pun intended) because his limited mobility and leverage were equally offset by his greater upper body strength at any given weight class. I left work early and spent hours pouring over his MRIs and doing research on the internet. Initially, I thought it would make sense to get a second opinion but the damage to his neck is apparent even to my untrained eye.

A door has closed today for Nico. Despite our sorrow, we can only be thankful that we learned of this situation before an even more tragic outcome ensued. Although Nico has had to shoulder more than his fair share of burden, it has made him exactly the indomitable person he is today. We are hopeful that he will rise above this setback and that it will only further strengthen his mighty spirit.

Blind Justice

2011-11-21 203737 984.JPG I enjoyed a phenomenal dinner this evening at the Capital Grille. My boss treated his direct reports to the culinary feast in appreciation for an extremely profitable fiscal year. The only photo from the dimly lit interior that I was pleased with was of this statue, located adjacent to the entrance. I really should have thought to bring a wider angle lens so I could have captured the entire team.

The Auction Block

2011-11-13 174317 886.JPG Although I have a great deal of equipment that supports my photography addiction, I am very good about selling items that I no longer use. Recycling of items such as the ball head pictured here have netted me about $1K over the last few weeks which will no doubt be reinvested in more equipment. I am generally able to sell at 90% of my acquisition cost by taking good care of the item and producing “glamour” shots like this one for the auction listings.

This afternoon I played in my final outdoor soccer match of the season in the divisional playoff finals in uncharacteristically perfect weather for this time of year. Regrettably our undefeated season came to an end as we lost the game 0-1. What was most unfortunate is that our opponent, Nashua, had only 2 shots on goal all day compared to a dozen opportunities for us, two of which rebounded off the cross bar. We dominated possession and would beat this team in a rematch but on this Sunday they produced the win and we walked away with 2nd place tee-shirts. I did not have a particularly good game. My broken pinky toe bothered me for much of the match despite a heavy dose of Ibuprofen and another well engineered duct tape splint. I plan to start playing indoor soccer now but not before my toe heals.

Jeanine prepared a Sunday dinner feast in celebration of Kyle’s return and we had a most enjoyable discussion around the table.

Family Reunion

2011-11-19 083232 974.JPG Kyle took the red eye from California last night and I collected him at the airport early this morning. Jeanine called from the road (on her way to classes at Brockport) to great him just as Nala was saying her hellos. Kyle was full of stories about college life and by all accounts he is doing well and really enjoying himself. Between the 3 hour time zone shift, the 3 hour college life shift and a slight cold, Kyle slept until late afternoon before joining Nicolai on an excursion to Worcester where the CCHS Varsity Men’s Soccer team was, for the third consecutive year, vying for the state title. Unfortunately the team had to settle for second place but I am sure the brothers enjoyed catching up during the one hour drive each way. I spent the bulk of the day setting the remaining tiles for our fireplace renovation project. I used a traditional fan pattern for the arch which is pictured here during the dry fitting stage with a support structure I fashioned to keep the tiles in place while the thinset cured. I am using a 1/16 inch gap between tiles which requires extremely precise cutting of the stone but results in a very elegant look. The last remaining step is grouting which I should be able to get to in the next few days.

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Old Glory

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The front of the iRobot building has an architectural accent in the form of a metal mesh which drapes one side of the entrance. While waiting in the board room for a meeting to start with our CEO I looked out the window and saw the backlit stripes of the American flag through the diagonal patterns of the mesh and thought it made for an interesting composition. It has been a very hectic but productive week and I am really looking forward to the weekend and to Kyle’s return from Santa Clara for the Thanksgiving break.

Improvisation

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Maya has been studying drama this semester and this evening Jeanine and I were treated to night of improvisational performances. Here Maya is leading her cohorts on a big game hunt. She shares her mother’s gift for improvisation and we reveled in her antics and talent. Earlier in the day Jeanine gave a very successful presentation about food, nutrition and her business to a local gathering of women. My attempts to upload a video of the entire talk has been thwarted due to the size of the file. Stay tuned, for I may work out a way to reduce the resolution sufficiently to meet the 500GB limit.

Autumn’s End

IMG_0947.JPG Photographically speaking autumn is coming to a close. Leaves are falling like rain and but a few trees remain with any color to speak of. Because I am in the autumn of my own life I am beginning to wonder how many more times I will get to enjoy the magnificence of this, my favorite season. With each passing year, I am increasingly determined to squeeze every last ounce of color from the autumn pallet.

Town Vote

2011-11-15 084744 204.JPG The final hurdle for approval to build a new Concord Carlisle high school was an affirmative vote by both towns to authorize a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion. Jeanine and I were among a third of the town to vote this morning and the measure passed with an 84% margin here and 85% in Carlisle. Maya will only enjoy one full year in the new school but the benefits will extend to future generations of Concord students and provide our best in state teaching professionals a matching facility. Photography is not permitted within the polling area so I opted for this image of the entrance complete with one of Concord’s finest on duty. I was reminded what a great privilege it is to live in a country where everyone has the right to vote. News of a vote in Congress to undermine nutrition guidelines by classifying pizza as a vegetable in response to pressure from the food lobby underscores the importance and responsibility of citizens to exercise that right.