Study in Red

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Jeanine is visiting her sister in Burlington for the weekend leaving me to be chauffeured by Maya to her various activities. Her driving permit requires that an adult be in the car while she is operating it reducing my role to that of baggage. While she attended an SAT prep class near Nagoog Pond, I regained control of the Audi and did a little photography in the area of Nagoog Hill Farm.

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Magnetic Feather Board

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Roughly twenty year’s ago I fashioned a quick release magnetic feather board as a safety accessory for my table saw. A feather board is used to press the wood you are cutting tightly against the fence and also helps to prevent kickback. I am fairly certain it was the first of its kind, employing large magnets that could be switched on and off with the turn of a knob. I shared a description and photos on my favorite woodworking community board and today I see that several companies are offering such a device including one which offers an improved much more compact switchable magnet. I ordered a few sets of magnets and designed an updated feather board to accept them. I could not be happier with this project which also earned me a second place finish for Part of the Week.

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Final Match

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Maya’s CCHS soccer team wrapped up their season in fine form this afternoon with a 6-0 rout of Chelmsford. Maya had a lovely assist and made some nice runs on goal. I have been very fortunate to make so many of her games this season and love that my new job offers me this flexibility. Over the course of the season I have amassed several thousand photos of the team and need to start trimming that number so that I can share them at the end of the season banquet.


Today’s post is  devoted entirely to an article Jeanine wrote for publication in the Concord Journal tomorrow.  The words paint such a wonderful picture that no photo is needed.

I like to think of Open Table as Brigadoon, the mythical Scottish town that appears out of nowhere, attracting visitors who fall in love and can’t bear to leave.  But while Brigadoon appeared only every century, Open Table magically conjures up, every week, a feast for 100.  Beautiful centerpieces and scrumptious dishes are prepared by a team of caring cooks.  Bags of nutritious foods fill the pantry and are carried home by guests.  And this magic has recurred, week after week, for 26 years!

Of course, it’s not magic.  It takes many volunteers and community groups to deliver this free community service.  A single night at Open Table requires at least 75 volunteers.  They work at so many different shifts during the day that most have no idea that they are a team of so many. 

At 8 AM pantry pickups begin at neighboring bakeries and grocery stores.  At the Everett Street Pantry, six volunteers sort the recent donations from food drives at the Concord Children’s Center and the Concord Rec. Dept.   Once that is accomplished they will begin packing bags to later be transported to the First Parish Church by Fenn School students or the NuPath team of adults with developmental disabilities. During the day, flowers from a local florist and centerpieces assembled by the National Charity League are dropped off.  Home-baked muffins and breads appear by National Charity League too.  

During the afternoon a work team from Minute Man Arc sets up the tables, chairs and the pantry distribution site.  It’s a happy scene of high fives and industrious workers.  Later, food is delivered from many different sources.  For instance, Gaining Ground brings the abundance of the season in a rush of color and fragrance.

Soon the guests arrive and make the tableau complete – friends, neighbors and first timers all find a place at the table.  Everyone is greeted and served.  Conversation hums as pantry numbers are called and people leave their tables to shop.  Social support volunteers stroll the room, helping visitors gain access to community services. One volunteer helps a guest fill out a fuel assistance form and explains how the system works. Another calls out to that it’s “Coat Give-Away Night”, when each guest is invited to shop for a gently used coat and winter clothing.  MetroWest Legal Services comes monthly to provide legal advice. The Domestic Violence Coalition is often present.  Young volunteers from the Walden School help guests out to their cars with their packages and guests begin their slow departure home rom Open Table.

After dessert is served and the last guest leaves, high school students from Middlesex School arrive to dismantle the magical world of Open Table.  Tables and chairs are put away.  Tarps are stored in the basement.  Bags of un-used food are driven back to the Everett Street pantry.  Laughter and clinking dishes are background music while executives and school students swap stories and wash dishes.

One of the oldest regular guests is helped to her car.  Many of the students call out to her. I am awed by her consistent, positive demeanor.  Week after week she calls me “doll” and asks how my family is doing.  Her rich, full life didn’t include a retirement package at the end, but Open Table gives her socialization, simple human contact and healthy food. My mood lightens whenever I see her, and I ask myself “Who is benefitting most – me or her?”.  

I turn and switch off the lights. The church hall is once again quiet and empty.  No traces left of the magical world of Open Table except the lingering lovely aroma of what was served for dinner.

Corner Goal

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Maya scored a goal off a corner kick today in her match against Newton South. The well driven ball went over the heads of those defending and attacking the near post, bounced off the ground and into the knee of the visually shielded goal keeper and careened into the net.

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Turning Sale

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I spent a good portion of the weekend making improvements to my shop and taking stock of my equipment. I have decided it is time to sell my lathe and turning tools which have seen extremely limited use since we moved to Concord. I will probably wait until next weekend to post on Craig’s List. I find that New England woodworkers tend to return to their shops once the splendor of fall has passed and the days grow short.

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Subdued Peak

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Autumn colors peaked in Concord this weekend although the same cannot be said for the sun which was subdued by cloudy skies and rain all day. At least this made for good soccer playing weather and my team secured a 1-1 tie against Medfield. Although a win would have been the fairer outcome based on our domination of play, we were all happy to add a point (3 for a win, 1, for a tie, 0 for a loss) to our standings and a little more distance from possible relegation this season.

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Pumpkin Pancakes

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Maya prepared pumpkin pancakes for 25 of her fellow National Charity League members. Her chapter of the organization had their fall meeting at our home this morning. The girls also wrote holiday letters which will be distributed to people in prison. Whenever the ratio of women to men in the house exceeds twenty to one, I have learned to make myself scarce. I spent time organizing my shop so that it would be ready for the winter woodworking season. I also designed a new feather board jig that I plan to print at work next week. Once the meeting was in full swing I managed to sneak into the kitchen and liberated three pancakes for an early lunch.

Tensioner Alignment Fixture

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One of the quality improvements we have made to our Mark One printer is an increase to the tension we keep on our fiber spool.  This eliminates the possibility of having the spring like fiber filament “jump” off the reel as it is currently prone to do.  We did this by adding a second spool tensioner (the thin plastic sheets at 45 degree angles).  I created this fixture so that workers at our factory  will consistently install these at the proper angle.

CCHS Girl’s JV

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Coach McGee asked if I would take a team photo after today’s game against Cambridge. The smiles came as easily as the 3-0 win. Maya tweaked her ankle in the first few minutes of play but returned to the pitch after wrapping it.

Collapsible Cup

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Last week my tool holder with embedded magnets received but a single vote during Part of the Week. I believe this was a clear signal that everyone at work is tired of my variations on the tool holder theme. Last night I decided to pick an object at random and design it for printing. With my eyes closed, I opened a camping equipment catalog to an arbitrary page and there found a collapsible cup. Today when I arrived at work, I started printing it and four hours later I was drinking water from my creation (while much of it dribbled through the seams into the sink over which I wisely conducted my first test). Normally, I would go back to the drawing board and refine the design but I had an idea for a more relevant work project and will be moving on to that. Despite the leaks, the geometry worked out perfectly including the retention features I employed to lock the cup into its extended position.

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Beaver Lodge

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A meeting at our contract manufacturer in Lowell took me past Pages Brook Pond this morning where a family of beavers have set up their residence. I have watched this pond evolve over twelve years (my first job in Massachusetts had me commuting along this road) and it is remarkable to see how dramatically the landscape has been altered by such tiny creatures. For those who doubt that 7.3 billion humans can change the climate of our planet, they should see what 6 beavers have done in just over a decade to this corner of the world.

Odious Odor

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Employees at MarkForged are issued respirator masks for use inside our fiber production area. Today they proved handy when someone microwaved a most foul smelling lunch. I don’t know, or care to know, what food was being prepared but I was thankful for my mask, a feeling shared by my colleagues.

Pumpkin Season

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Another loss (0-1) this morning has placed my soccer team near the bottom of our division. I played well as did my teammates but we just could not find the back of the net despite many chances. With the season nearing completion we have to get our act together or face relegation to Division 2, an outcome that would be hard to accept after winning Division 1 last season.

Alissa and my nephew John William treated us to breakfast at Nancy’s Airfield Cafe after the game and I found a few moments later in the day for a little photography at Verrill Farm where I was dispatched to pick up some dinner ingredients.

The Berkshires

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As a rule, Jeanine cooks a great deal of vegetarian food. When she does cook with meat, she prefers to use locally sourced, grass-fed, antibiotic free cows. Today we drove out to the Wheelview Farm in Shelburne Falls located in the Berkshires to pick up our winter’s supply of beef. I interviewed some of the cows and they confirmed that they were being treated well and getting plenty to eat. The fall foliage was spectacular and I would venture to say at its peak. We paused en route at the French King Bridge for a photo. I have shot this angle on a few previous occasions but never tire of the majesty of this bridge or the composition of its surroundings.

My sister Alissa has been staying with us and was joined by her husband John this evening. The four of us went out to to see the Martian, a film I can give my highest recommendation.

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Harvard Yard

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It is a 12 minute walk from where I work to the campus of Harvard University. A perfect fall afternoon was the only excuse I needed to make the short stroll in search of lunch today. In addition to a magnificent grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, I found a pygmy pig, baby goat, and several rabbits at a make shift petting zoo for students. I had no idea that Harvard took campus diversity to such lengths.