My soccer game this evening was considerably rougher than normal. It ended with one of my teammates being driven into the wall resulting in a serious scalp laceration that bled profusely. By comparison the damage to my glasses resulting from an earlier collision between myself and an opponent seems hardly worth mentioning. I used athletic tape wound about my head to secure the lenses in approximately the correct position so that I could stay in the game. I scored three goals before the incident and none after so I think it is safe to say that the damage to my frame pretty much rendered me ineffective for the remainder of the match.
In past years the photographically monotonous month of January has been dominated by Nicolai’s wrestling exploits. This year he wisely choose to enter physical therapy for his shoulders (which took a beating during soccer season) rather than suffer additional damage. As much as I looked forward to seeing what he would accomplish as a senior, I think he made a very mature decision, especially in light of the bulging disks in his spine (C4/C5 and C5/C6) that we discovered last year. I have been very busy at work (performance review season) and daylight hours are short providing few opportunities for photography so I have selected this photo from a year ago for today’s blog entry.
With the outdoor soccer season just around the corner, I joined other hard core players for an outdoor practice session this morning at 8am. Air temperature was 15F with a wind chill at least 10 degrees cooler. Getting started was admittedly hard but after 15 minutes I was no longer aware of the cold. The morning exercise helped offset the caloric damage I did at Nancy’s Airport Cafe in Stow where we took my nephew John Quinn to celebrate his 20th birthday. His classmates at Babson “cheered him up” by pointing out that he is now half way to forty which I guess is a hell of a lot better than more than half way to dead which is where I stand. We had a rather long wait at this popular breakfast spot so I occupied myself by making portraits of Maya and Nicolai.
Nicolai is far more likely to borrow my djembe (West African drum) than to use his drum kit which is set up in the basement. This morning, however, I found him drumming up a storm and manged to get this low angle shot before he wrapped up his practice session. Ever since my first exposure to African drumming, some 15 years ago, I have enjoyed playing the djembe even though I have little intrinsic talent. Where Nicolai obtained his rhythmic genes remains a mystery to me but I am so glad for the opportunity to live vicariously through his playing. Later in the day we spent time setting up a video editing computer in his bedroom. Part of his job with SideStix is producing videos and this has been very tedious without the right equipment. Once we had set up the reference monitors (high quality speakers), I introduced him to Chuck Mangione and he introduced me to Lettuce. Hard to say who got the better deal.
I finally replaced the vent cap for our downdraft kitchen exhaust without which cold air was coming into the kitchen from outside. Jeanine has been after me to do this for some time now since she is the one exposed to the cold draft every day. I was happy to get it off my honey-do list.
Whenever I acquire a new piece of photography equipment, family members have learned to make themselves scarce, lest they become the subject of countless experimental photos. One of Nala’s few redeeming qualities is that she will tolerate being my subject for hours on end. In this case, I was learning the ins and outs of a new flash controller which allows me to wirelessly adjust and trigger remote flash units from my camera’s hot shoe. My only goal was to gain proficiency in quickly navigating the user interface and I gave no thought to making an artful photo. None the less, we have not seen Nala featured on the blog for some time and I have nothing better to post.
On the way into work this morning the outside air temperature was 3 degrees Fahrenheit as measured by my Audi. My wool long underwear helped to take the edge off.
For the first time since his passing, I found myself wishing that my dad could have been here to witness an important moment in his grandson’s life. Since the beginning of the school year, Nicolai has participated in a pilot program of study called Rivers & Revolutions. The interdisciplinary and experiential approach to learning is the brain child of local teacher and education innovator, Michael Goodwin. Students attend a school within a school spending the entire day in one class room or together on one of many field trips. The subjects of English, Social Studies, Math, Science, and the Visual and Performing Arts are integrated into a single curriculum offering a cohesive approach to the material and a continuous conversation where everything ties together. This evening, parents and family were invited to the deCordova Museum for an art exhibition of the student’s work and to celebrate the end of the semester. In his address to the assembled group, Goodwin thanked all who had contributed to the success of the program and the students in particular. Nicolai followed with a testimonial to the program and to the teachers. His heart felt and eloquent words left no doubt in anyone’s mind that something very profound had taken place in this class. Jeanine and I could not have been more proud of him and my dad, a college professor, would have been moved to tears when Nicolai explained how this experience had helped him to realize that he wants to pursue a career in teaching.
Anticipating that a newer version will be announced shortly, I sold my trusted Canon 7D body this evening to an up and coming photographer. Unlike lenses which retain much of their initial value (especially when purchased second hand), the market for cameras is quite the opposite. The rate of technological innovation is very rapid making a 3 year old body about as desirable as an equally old computer. At this point, the next generation camera is not going to improve my photography but I do take pleasure in using state of the art tools.
I found an indoor soccer team from Acton to play with for the next session and contributed one goal and four assists in my first appearance for them. I was then recruited to play a second game with a team that was short of players. It is clear that I have a lot of work to do to get in shape for the outdoor season. I played well enough but was really dragging my butt by the end of the game. No injuries and another goal for the night so I have nothing to complain about.
The Mattison Field wooden stave water tower is a reminder of the days when such water tanks were characteristic of the Concord landscape and when farming was a way of life for many Concordians. As the only remaining visible mark of the dairy farm that flourished on the land for most of the past century, the water tower has become much more than a structure once used for pumping and storing water. It is a symbol of a bygone era when Concord was primarily a farming community. Located less than a half mile from our home I pass it every day on the way into town.
Jeanine and Maya returned from what is now being called the first annual New York City Girl’s Weekend. Conceived of and organized by Jeanine, the reunion included 15 female family members ranging in age from 5 to 86 coming from Chicago, North Carolina, Boston, Albany and Long Island. The group converged on NYC for two days of culture, exercise, fine dining and communion. One of the group meals was at La Birerria, a rooftop restaurant and brewery that features foods from the Eataly Marketplace which is currently celebrating foods from the Calabria region of Italy. Perfect synchronicity to complement what sounds like a perfect weekend.
Jeanine and Maya are in NYC for the weekend having a grand time with nearly the entire contingent of female relatives from my mother’s side of the family. Nicolai and I decided to make a father-son outing to Boston. We selected the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum as our first destination. Nicolai was there when he was in the fourth grade and I have never been.
We both enjoyed our tour thoroughly and I learned a great deal about JFK that was new to me. Our next stop was the North End where we paused for an early dinner at the Florentine Cafe. Having done some damage to our waistlines we decided to walk over to the Boston Aquarium where we were captivated by the harbor seals.
Jeanine sent this photo of Maya ice skating with her cousins Rachel, Sophia and Rose at Bryant Park before going to see Mary Poppins on Broadway.
Arguably the most notable building in North Easton, MA is the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall designed by American architect H. H. Richardson. I made the one hour journey here this morning to purchase a used lens that I have been wanting to add to my collection. The hall was built between 1879 and 1881 as a gift to the town from the children of Congressman Oakes Ames. Its first floor is constructed of native, pinkish-gray North Easton granite with Longmeadown brownstone trim. The second floor is brick and the steeply peaked roof above is finished in red tile. Having traveled this far south I decided to continue on to Providence. Pictured below is the Rhode Island State House which is built from 327,000 cubic feet of white Georgia marble, 15 million bricks, and 1,188 tons of iron floor beams. The dome of the State House is the fourth-largest self-supporting marble dome in the world, after St. Peter’s Basilica, the Minnesota State Capitol, and the Taj Mahal. On top of the dome is a 500 pound, 11 foot tall, gold-covered bronze statue of the Independent Man which represents freedom and independence and alludes to the independent spirit which led Roger Williams to settle and establish Providence and later Rhode Island.
I spent the balance of the day at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art. The 20th largest museum in the country, it features a broad range of works from around the world, including Egypt, Asia, Africa, ancient Greece and Rome, Europe, and the Americas including paintings by prominent international artists such as Picasso, Monet, and Manet. Normally not my cup of tea, I enjoyed the visit more than I anticipated and learned a lot about portraiture lighting by studying the works of the masters (painting is just as much about lighting as photography). I also enjoyed seeing furniture pieces from contemporary Craft and Studio artists Tage Frid, George Nakashima, and Wharton Esherick whose work I am familiar with from my days reading Fine Woodworking magazine from cover to cover.
Mute Swans, so named because they are less vocal than other swans, nest on large mounds that they build with waterside vegetation in shallow water on islands in the middle or at the very edge of a lake. They are monogamous and often reuse the same nest each year, restoring or rebuilding it as needed. These guys are very territorial and show no compunction about attacking a human if it ventures too close to their nest, something I was careful to avoid doing. When this pair made eye contact with me, I decided it would be best to back up so as not to disturb them.
I was on ballet class pick up duty this evening. Maya’s teacher routinely runs class 30 minutes beyond the scheduled end time of 6:30PM. Bored while waiting, I ventured up to the second floor studio and took this photograph from floor level using the wall mounted mirror to “see” into the room. Maya is wearing the blue leotards. For the first time there is a boy in the class and this subject was the source of much discussion on the ride home. When I was a young man I studied both ballet and jazz dance and can relate to being the only male in a dance class. I must say that I rather enjoyed the 11 to 1 ratio and can recommend such a class to both of my sons.
Although wet snow makes clearing the driveway more of a chore, the way it sticks to trees makes for fantastic photography. Unfortunately, I had my two year vision checkup this morning and only enough time to pause for a quick photo en route to the office. My ophthalmologist reported that my eyes were in good shape for someone my age. His actual words were; “the deterioration of your eyes is consistent with your age.” Call me a glass half full kind of guy but I like my version better. I pitched a new product concept to my boss over lunch and he liked the idea which put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.
My indoor soccer team entered tonight’s playoffs in second place and I was unusually determined to see that we won the championship. I scored two goals in each of our two matches, both of which we won by a 4-2 margin after a bye in the first round. My teammates described me as being on fire and I have never felt quite so deeply “in the zone”. I scored from nearly impossible angles with laser guided rockets on three of the goals and beat the last defender and keeper finishing with a fully extended, slow motion toe-poke for the fourth. Rarely have I felt so pleased with my contribution to the team or appreciated for my role in winning a championship. It has been a great day on all fronts. I was totally spent when play ended at 11:30PM but my euphoria kept me awake for another two hours. My team is disbanding (mostly to heal up for the outdoor season) and I will have to find a new one for the final indoor session of the winter.
As I was returning to my office from a meeting on the other side of our building this morning, I spotted this turkey roaming near our visitor’s entrance. I quickly went outside for a better photograph of this full size male who was strutting around with his tail feathers on display. It became immediately apparent to me as I grew closer that this fella had me confused for a female turkey (some would argue, an easy mistake to make). As soon as I approached for a close up, he spread his tail feathers, puffed himself up, and began his courtship dance. My every attempt to retreat thereafter was met with a counter move designed to coral me. I eventually escaped through the revolving door of our building. Had I not stopped the door once I was safe, he would have entered the next cell to follow me inside.