Last night the family arrived at Plum Island where we are renting a beach house for the long weekend. We spent the bulk of the day at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge where we enjoyed the wildlife and the Sandy Point State Reservation beach located on the southern most tip of the island. Within minutes of arriving, Jeanine observed a huge Bald Eagle. He was just out of camera range but conveniently perched for viewing through the spotting scope we brought with us. Next we came across a tree with leaves of birds. Click on the photo for an enlarged version if you don’t believe me.
As we continued to drive through the park, a small furry creature scampered across the road. Massive debate ensued regarding what we had just seen until an internet consultation via smart phone confirmed it was an American Mink, the first one any of us had ever seen in the wild. A second unusual spotting occurred at the beach where we came across a floundering stingray. A good Samaritan gently and carefully guided the stranded creature back out into deeper water.
The water was too cold for swimming but the beach offered much to enjoy for each of us.
Better to be safe than sorry, so this morning I stuck my head in this big donut shaped machine. Every few weeks I experience an insanely intense pain in my brain which lasts for less than a second. I mentioned this to my doctor during my annual physical and he suggested I get the CT scan just to rule out anything serious. This has been going on for years and I just assume it is the price to be paid for using your head to score soccer goals. Expect to see an image of my brain next week when I receive the results of the test.
The horse farm and riding arena adjacent to our property often offers nice photographic subjects. This morning was no exception as I paused for this shot from my car window of what appears to be a new boarder.
This evening, I twisted Kyle’s arm just enough to coerce him into joining me for my Over-50s soccer practice. Kyle has not played since his senior year in high school when he injured himself while snowboarding. He reported that it was still difficult to make sharp cuts but that he felt pretty good running in straight lines. During our scrimmage time Kyle and I played on the same team. We scored a pair of father-son goals together and I enjoyed playing with him as much as he enjoyed being back on the pitch again. He was a little bit rusty but I’m sure he will be in top form in no time.
Every three years I go in for my annual checkup. I passed all physical exams and my blood pressure was in a good place. Blood work will be back in a few days at which time I will get the verdict on cholesterol and triglycerides which are always out of whack. I got a prescription for Diomox (for high altitude climbing) and vaccinations for Typhoid and Hepatitis A for my trip to Nepal later this year. I was covered in Band-aids as I left the office and hungry as hell having skipped breakfast as required for accurate blood work. As I get older I might considering having my annual checkup every two years.
Strategic offsite meetings are invariably accompanied by tempting food. Not necessarily a good thing when you are on a diet. I am allowing myself a photographic gear weight budget for Nepal equal to the amount of weight I can take off my body between now and the end of November. I’d rather carry cameras than fat on my 150 mile trek. I am off to a good start but took a slight step backwards after the full day meeting accompanied by food at every break. My presentation at the meeting went very well and the entire day was extremely well organized concluding within minutes of the scheduled end.
I had a lot on my plate when I returned to work this morning and by the time I was ready to leave it was near midnight. Therefore, I am taking the liberty of posting some additional photos taken yesterday after we completed our climb in the White Mountains. Not shown on maps and known only to locals is a unique jumping hole offering multiple diving platforms and a deep pool in which to land. Initially, Maya was not interested in joining her friends in the ice cold water. Eventually she fell in. There is on going debate as to whether I was trying to help her or may have actually been pushing her at the time she went over the edge. Here is a sequence of the Spiderman Jump. You run along a thin ledge and up onto the vertical rock face before diving off into the pool.
We got an early start this morning on the short but fairly steep ascent to South Twin Mountain (4902 feet). The kids are at the perfect age for hiking. They are strong enough that they view the climb as a challenge and they are motivated by their own desires to reach the top. Rather than coaxing them along, the parental role is now simply trying to keep up. South Twin offers what I believe is one of the best views of the White Mountains. The centrally located peak offers a 360 degree panorama of the entire range. Perfect weather and low haze made for a magical visit. Having left early we had the peak to ourselves for quite sometime before other hikers began to arrive. We hung out at the top for about half an hour before setting out across the saddle to North Twin (4761 feet) where we paused for lunch. We completed our 6.4 mile hike by mid afternoon and joined Jeanine and Louanne for well deserved ice cream.
Alex Mackenzie, one of my former soccer team mates and father of Maya’s close friend Fiona invited Maya, their mutual friend Sarrinagh, Jeanine and I to join his family for a hiking weekend in the White Mountains. Last night we stayed at their mountain condo located in the vicinity of Crawford’s Notch. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast before setting out on our adventure. Fergus, Fiona’s twin brother, joined the girls, Alex and I for a 4.6 mile ascent to the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) Galehead Hut (3800 feet) while Jeanine and Fiona’s mother, Louanne, did a day hike on their own. After getting settled in at the hut, we made quick work of the one mile round trip to the summit of Galehead Mountain (4024 feet). Incorrectly assuming that the tree covered peak would not offer any photo worthy views, I opted to leave my camera and tripod behind only to discover a wonderful vista showing our hut nestled in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. I decided I had to have the shot and made a second ascent with my photo gear.
By the time I returned the sun was beginning to set and I put the golden hour light to good use chasing the kids about as they frolicked upon a giant slab of granite.
Rarely at work do I get a chance to participate at the engineering level with members of my organization. For the last four days I have enjoyed working with the team pictured above to develop a new product concept at the request of one of the General Manager’s at iRobot. I am not at liberty to reveal the idea, but I can say that the group, with significant contributions from every single member, produced a design that we are all quite pleased with. Each member contributed their own time to the special project and many will labor through the weekend to finalized a working prototype. I treated the team to lunch at the Macaroni Grill to celebrate the highly successful design sprint.
Often when you see macro images of insects they have either been chilled or frozen or gassed. This keeps them from moving during setup and exposure. I am no big fan of bugs but do not feel any creature should be harmed for the sake of a photograph. While doing a little routine maintenance on the kayaks this evening, I noticed a motionless wasp on the driveway. Upon further investigation I determined it had recently died and decided it would make for an interesting subject. As I was setting up my shot, Jeanine came in from her garden with a live white caterpillar. When she set the little fur puff down it remained quite still. I thought posing the two insects together would make for a more interesting image and was pleased that the caterpillar was so cooperative.
Massachusetts driver’s licenses are oriented vertically until age 21 after which they are oriented horizontally to help ensure alcohol is not served to minors. Kyle has been using his passport to prove his age for the last few weeks and was pleased when his new license arrived in the mail today. This tiny document identifies the owner as a true adult. Even though my memories of Kyle as a child remain vivid, and as much as I want to hold on that image of my little “Champino”, I too see an adult before me these days. I must say that I like the man he has become.
When I look out my second floor office window there are certain things I generally do not expect to see. A man in a yellow hard hat safely falls into this category. Apparently the window seals of our building are in need of maintenance which prompted this most surprising visit. Hard to describe the response I had to this floating head as it ascended into view.
Formerly the Bromfield School, built in 1877, this building is now home to the Town of Harvard’s Public Library. When I arrived early to pick Maya up from a soccer evaluation (she is considering playing for a club team next spring) I opted to look for a nice photographic opportunity rather than wait in the parking lot. When I spotted this library, the sun was already setting which lit up the clouds nicely. I looked for a shooting angle that would isolate the building from others in the background and reveal only the historic portions of the structure. I settled on this perspective and am quite happy with the result.
This female Common Yellowthroat has one mighty headache after trying to fly through one of the glass windows on our sun porch. He rested for ten minutes, mostly with his eyes closed, before flying away. When I saw him in the same place on the deck for more than 5 minutes I realized what had happened and grabbed my camera. I got a quick soccer practice in this morning and spent the balance of the day in my woodshop.
I completed the top for a table I am making for the deck and deconstructed the 20 foot long pallet on which the deck boards were delivered. Some of the wood will be used for projects the remainder will be added to the fireplace pile.
When his friends invited Nico to go for a hike up Devil’s Staircase with their dogs, he decided he would bring Nala with him even though she hates riding in cars. If not for the fact that he can lift her with one arm, there would be no other way to get her into the car. I was so surprised that he actually got her to sit in the front seat that I quickly grabbed my camera to document this rare occurrence. In the evening we belatedly celebrated Kyle’s 21st birthday (August 5th). His cake featured 4 tiny shot glasses filled with liquor acknowledging his right to legally consume alcohol now, not that legal concerns have ever stood in his way.
Maya asked for and received permission to sample one of the shots. Rarely does a photograph tell they entire story but the one below comes pretty close.
Maya attended the Slocum Soccer Camp all week with several of her friends to get tuned up for the fall season as a high school freshman. This year her 4v4 and 11v11 teams both won their respective all-camp tournaments, the later of which Jeanine and I were able to witness this afternoon. Her play is looking very strong. She shut down the offense while playing sweeper and contributed a beautiful assist after being moved up to a wing midfielder position. The soccer themed cake she prepared with fellow campers Fiona and Sarinnagh did not fare so well in the baking competition but she was none the less pleased with her two awards for athletic competition.