Jeanine departed for California this morning where she will be spending a couple of days visiting Kyle. Every time one of the children moves into new living quarters, mother has to fly in to make sure the nest is properly feathered and the chick is sufficiently cozy. So as not to disturb his social scene, Jeanine is staying at a nearby airb&b run by an Islamic woman and plans to watch the Super Bowl with friends from Las Madres, a new mother’s group she joined when we moved to California when he was one year old. Kyle has an ambitious course load this semester, having added a computer science minor to his finance major. Although it will be significantly more effort and delay his graduation by a semester, I think the decision will improve his attractiveness in the job market enormously.
Maya, having never before been on nordic skis, decided to join her high school team this season. Today, for the first time, I was permitted to witness and photograph a race. Up until now, I have been banned because she felt too inexperienced. To my eyes, she looked pretty damn impressive and finished the 7km event with a great sprint. The season is very short and I only hope I have another chance to see her in action.
How do you top a couple feet of snow? How about sub-zero temperatures? Without a doubt it has been a week of weather extremes here in Massachusetts. I was planning on shooting a couple of snowscapes on the way into work this morning but thought the better of it when the hairs in my nostrils froze when I walked outside. My new electric car has handled the snow and cold temperatures quite well and I could not be more thankful that I changed my order at the last minute to include heated seats.
There was a travel ban in effect for the entire state today as a Nor’easter dumped a couple feet of snow across the region while winds gusted to 50mph inland and to hurricane strength on the cape and coast. Concord was spared the 33 inches of nearby towns with an official total of 20 inches which I had to clear in two separate passes. Fortunately the snow was light and fluffy which made the job easier than it might have otherwise been. The same cannot be said for the high winds and mid teen temperatures. Maya captured this image of me half way through my first run. This is definitely a job made easier by the right equipment and clothing and I was fortunate to have both.
With a major blizzard bearing down on the North East this evening the family made suitable preparations. Jeanine made sure we had an adequate supply of food, Maya invited over an adequate supply of friends (school has already been cancelled for tomorrow) and I built and installed a wind screen for our automatic electric generator. Winds are forecasted to be very high and snow to reach 3 feet in some areas. The natural gas powered generator has a history of failing to start in high winds and I did not fancy a repeat of that scenario.
For the first time this season we finally received some decent snow, about 7 inches in total. After weeks of drab winter weather, the snow and blue skies provides a welcome respite from the mundane. This year, with Maya competing in Nordic skiing, it holds the additional promise of better groomed courses. I think Nala enjoys the new scenery as much as we do as she surveys her kingdom.
This poem was written by my sister Mayela who has been a hospice social worker for 17 years and is now moving on to a new chapter in her life. It so eloquently captures her essence and her approach to end of life care, that I felt compelled to share it and her photo here.
A poem by Mayela Calabria Harris
May I stand here beside you?
I will listen to whatever you feel you have to say, to any words that may have never been spoken, to whatever doubts or questions, worries or needs, instructions or demands.
Will I remember to hear you with my heart, inhale your every word, and hold them in my hands…
May I sit with you?
I will share the moment with you in silence or as witness to your joy, your rage or pain. There is nothing that you can do or say that will make me waver. I will be at your side.
Will I remember that this is your journey and I am merely beside you on the path…
May I hold your hand?
I will hold it gently or give it a squeeze to let you know that I am with you. You are not alone. We can do this together but you will lead the way.
Will I remember to let it go when you are ready to move on…
May I bear witness to the beauty of life with you?
I will do my best to comfort you and your loved ones. I will speak your words if you are no longer able. I will honor your wishes and remind others that this is your time, your road, and your way.
Will I remember not to judge and simply let it be…
May I have the strength and knowledge to see you through the gate. I will let compassion guide me. Will I not be the better for it?
In my many year’s of photography I have made many self portraits, all from a timer-released shutter on a tripod. While at dinner this evening with Jeanine, Maya and her friend Maddie, I made my first selfie (own arm used in lieu of tripod). Everyone at the table was howling with laughter as Maya instructed me in the art, explaining the nuances of proper angles, aiming and lighting. Apparently I was able to follow her instructions well enough to obtain this image which I am quite happy with.
For the past two years I have been serving as a director-at-large on the board of the American Amputee Soccer Association (AASA). This evening during our first meeting of the year, I was elected to the office of Vice President. I want to see the organization take a much more aggressive posture towards growing the sport and believe that will happen fastest if we focus on building a world class national team. To do that we must raise $100,000 to cover team travel and training costs and by recruiting four more “A” players. I believe if we do these two things the US National team will reach the medal rounds of the 2016 World Cup. Game on!
Attempts to schedule a holiday party for my staff last December proved unsuccessful due to calendar conflicts. Instead we held the event this evening in the library of the Stonehedge Inn in Tyngsboro, a setting as elegant as it was cozy. The theme of the event, in light of my recent resignation, developed into more of a farewell party than a holiday fete. None the less, I was able to express my appreciation and gratitude to my staff and their partners for all they had done in support of iRobot’s success. I was honored and humbled as each in turn shared their sentiments and kind words with me at this time of transition. Receiving such gifts with Jeanine by my side (actually, spouses were seated at opposite ends of the table by design) made the experience that much more meaningful for me and I felt truly blessed.
A 12 hour day in the office left little time for photography today so I am posting a couple of selfies from my recent visit to Death Valley National Park. I had a late indoor soccer game this evening during which I struggled mightily. A couple weeks off from the sport is all it takes to get seriously out of shape. I was fortunate to score a goal in the early going helping my team to a 5-3 win over the only squad that threatens our first place standing.
Winter minus snow in New England can leave slim pickings for nature photographers. I did manage to find a bit of color amid the grey while out for a nature walk. I ran across a downed tree trunk covered in fungi from head to toe. The groupings featured here were the most interesting to me but I could have easily spent hours continuing to explore.
When I dropped him off at the airport this morning for his return to Colorado, Nicolai was carrying more luggage than I would have thought possible. He insisted on carrying it all, pointing out that he would have to do it on the other end without assistance in any case. We spent a good bit of the drive to the airport kicking around ideas for our next adventure together. High on the list is an ascent of Aconcagua in Argentina, the highest mountain outside of Asia standing 22,837 ft above sea level and considerably higher than Kilimanjaro. Based on my research thus far I am positive Nico could complete the climb and fairly certain I could as well. We are considering many other possible expeditions but this is the current leading contender.
Nico and Maya joshing around while we wait for our dinners to arrive. The family dined out on the eve of Nico’s return to Colorado College. He did an independent study for his fourth block so he could participate in the Amputee World Cup. I think it is safe to say he is anxious to get back to school but will also miss his family and girl friend, Karuna.
I spent the bulk of the day working on a name for the company I am thinking about forming. When I co-founded Truevision, the Internet did not exist and the challenge of securing an available .com domain was not an issue. Now it is a huge challenge and something you need to consider early in the naming process. I purchased about 12 domains and have already narrowed my choices down to four. Next I need to do a little user group testing for appeal while searching the trademark database to make sure the name will not infringe on another entity.
Until it stops working, you often do not appreciate how important a particular bit of technology can be. In the case of our electronic pet containment system, which ceased to function earlier this week, we have learned that lesson all too well. When the system went down we had to deal with an escaped dog gone on a walk about and once re-captured with having to bundle up several times a day to take her outside to relieve her aging bladder. A new system arrived today, not a moment too soon. It features a new capability that I hope Nala will appreciate. When she enters the boundary zone at the edge of her play safe area, her new collar will beep to warn her that a shock is imminent if she does not retreat. The old system would simply zap her when she went too far afield. Whether she is smart enough to figure out the connection remains to be seen.