The Whole Gang

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It has become my habit to close out each year with a post featuring a favorite, previously unpublished photo.  This one was from a series intended for use on our holiday card but I opted for a pair that only included the kids.  2014 has been a great year for the Calabria family and we are thankful for our health and happiness.  Between Nicolai’s gap year and Kyle’s gap semester we have been united under one roof for more time than in recent years, something I am going to miss.   Kyle has decided to add a computer science minor to his finance major and returns to Santa Clara University this weekend to complete his senior year.  Nicolai leaves for Colorado College mid-January to pick up with his fifth block.  Fortunately we get to hold onto Maya for a couple more years.  The kid’s rang in the new year at parties with their friends while Jeanine and I enjoyed dining out with her sister, Susan, and family friend Jean Cass at the Vine Brook Tavern in Lexington.

From our family to yours, we wish you joy and good health in the coming year.

Exploring Alaska

Two years ago in August of 2014, Jeanine and I made a whirlwind tour of south central Alaska. Our eleven day adventure took us to more spectacular destinations than I would have imagined possible. We crossed Prince William Sound by ferry, explored the quaint town of Cordova, drove deep into the Copper River Delta, hiked to the summit of Mount Eyak, kayaked to the Shoup Glacier out of Valdez, camped at Wonder Lake in Denali National Park, explored the rustic town of Talkeetna, flew around Mount McKinley and landed on Ruth Glacier, went ice-climbing on the Matanuska glacier, flew by seaplane to the Katmai National Park where we hung out with the costal brown bears (grizzlies). For several months now I have been preparing a photo journal of our exploits and have finally completed the book (best viewed using the full screen option – icon with four arrows pointing outward).

Journal Coverage

Concord Journal

 

We returned home from New York to a nice article in the Concord Journal that was published last week.  I am also posting a photo from this weekend of my mother with a rather impish look about her and my niece, Rachael.

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USA vs Turkey Video

The last game that I will be posting from the 2014 Amputee Soccer World Cup match features the USA against Turkey. The Turkish squad includes professional players who participate in a thriving league in that country. In order to gain a better bracket in the tournament the Turks intentionally lost their first game against Japan. Unfortunately, the US did not realize this at the time and we chose to model our game plan on the “winning” Japanese strategy. Even so, the US team did very well against a very strong opponent which eventually placed third in the tournament. Many thanks to Maya who was the videographer for the match.

This post wraps up my coverage of the 2014 games and we are all looking forward to the next World Cup in 2016. There is also talk of an Americas Cup in 2015 which may come to pass. The folks at Coca-Cola published a nice follow up piece on the World Cup which can be found by following this link.

Pine Brush

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Widely regarded as the best example of only 20 remaining inland pine barrens in the world, Jeanine and I enjoyed a 3.5 mile hike through the Albany Pine Brush this morning. Located 5 minutes from my sister’s house, it was the perfect location to work off some of last night’s feast. We then joined the rest of the family at the movie theater where we saw “The Imitation Game” which I cannot recommend highly enough. Even more enjoyable was the conversation time with the kids during our post movie left-over meal. Each shared perspectives on their educations and future plans. The 3.5 hour return drive to Concord passed quickly as we all listened to our favorite NPR programs.

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Quinn Visit

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We drove to Albany, NY in time to join my mother and sister, Alissa, for lunch at the Reel Seafood Company, owned by long time friends of the family. Next we visited the Atria Crossgate Independent Living Center where my mother is currently living. She gave us the grand tour and introduced us to many of her new friends during happy hour.  We finished the day, five minutes away, at my sister’s house where we enjoyed a grand holiday feast.

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I managed a few stealth portraits including nephew John William, niece Rachael and Kyle, sporting a nicely filled in and trimmed beard.

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Secret Santa

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This Christmas we tried a new approach to gift giving. Each member of the family was anonomously assigned a Secret Santa responsible for providing a gift to just that individual. Maya took it upon herself to organize the matchings using Elfster.com. This approach was deemed a great success, cutting down on the amount of shopping for everyone and giving us more time to spend with each other. Stockings this year were stuffed by all members of the family in another well received refinement. No changes to our breakfast popover and grapefruit tradition to start the morning or to our late afternoon Christmas dinner, this year featuring a delicious beef tenderloin.

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Candlelight Service

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This Christmas has been subject to evolving family traditions.  Normally, we dine out at Chang An’s Chinese restaurant with friends before attending the candlelight service at our church. Since Jeanine   will spend a good part of Christmas day in the kitchen, this has been a nice way to give her a respite from cooking. This year the kids briefly entertained the notion of preparing a meal themselves but this morphed into a take-out order from Chang An’s as their enthusiasm waned and hunger grew. They did, however, assume full responsibility for making Zippoli Balls when we returned from church, a tradition that I venture to guess they will continue with their own families one day.

Serenity

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With the family all together and Christmas around the corner there is much to be thankful for at the Calabria household. We are all healthy and pursuing our passions. We have been blessed with good fortune, great friends and loving family. Looking ahead to 2015, it is exciting to imagine what new chapters will be written in the Calabria journal even as we pause to enjoy the serenity of the moment.

USA vs Germany Video

Each Monday my Vimeo weekly file size limitation resets allowing me to upload and post new full match videos from the 2014 Amputee World Cup.  Next week I will post USA vs. Turkey for the final installment.

Intergenerational Party

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Much of today was spent preparing for an intergenerational holiday party for the friends of our kids and their families. Jeanine cooked up a storm while the kids and I were assigned various tasks to get the house ready.  The menu included lobster bisque, shrimp cocktails, gravalax (Swedish cured salmon), skewered tortellinis, Calabria meatballs with lingonberries, cranberry and pear topped puff pastry encrusted brie, pigs-in-a-blanket, and chocolate fondue.

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As if this was not enough to eat, Maya was quite adamant that we introduce her friends to Zippoli Balls.  She supervised dough preparation and took our new deep fryer machine on its maiden voyage with perfect results.  I was in charge of honey basting, sprinkle application, and extensive quality control taste testing.  Something special happens when you have a party with people of many ages who all share something in common; they engage with one another.  Maya announced afterwards that this party was to become a new annual tradition.

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Barred Owl

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Despite rather frigid temperatures, I decided to go for a nature walk this afternoon.  Most wildlife had the good sense to be snuggled up somewhere sheltered from the wind.  Spotting not a single creature, I was headed back to my car when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed this Barred Owl flying through the trees. When it landed, I approached as close as possible for this shot.

Holiday Parties

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The one downside of our trip to Mexico is that Jeanine and I missed this year’s iRobot Holiday party with the Dropkick Murphys as headliners.  Fortunately, I/we were able to attend many departmental and staff parties this week.  Last night we dined with the leadership of our Home Business Unit at Brazilian Steak House, Fogo de Chao.  This, after I joined members of our Defense & Security Business Unit for a French Toast breakfast and potluck lunch earlier in the day.  The Engineering Department’s luncheon, held today, featured an Italian buffet and was held in our newly created common area which is proving to be a great addition to our facility.

USA vs Poland Video

Another 2014 Amputee World Cup match is up and posted. Kyle was the videographer for this match and did a great job. File size limits on Vimeo will not allow me to post another game until next week.

LAX to BOS

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I returned today from a 3 day business trip to Pasadena. Nothing breaks up the long flight better than an opportunity to photograph the southwest from 35,000 feet. It never ceases to amaze me how spectacular the terrain is in this part of the country.

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USA vs Japan Video

We owe Maya a great debt of gratitude for videotaping the entire World Cup soccer match between the USA and Japan. She was perched atop a 6 foot high two tier shooting platform affording her an unobstructed view of the game. In addition to standing on her feet for more than an hour under the intense Mexican sun, she had to sacrifice watching the game which is not possible if you are diligently framing and following the action. Maya did a great job and I hope she knows how much we all appreciate the work she did on behalf of her brother and the US team.