Ghoulish Pancakes

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When I returned from grocery shopping with pancake mix and a  hankering for a flapjack dinner, Maya and her friend Fiona seized upon the opportunity to create chocolate chip Halloween-cakes. I was too busy enjoying the ones pictured here to document the subsequent works of culinary art.

35th Reunion

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Jeanine spent the weekend in Indiana where she celebrated her Lebanon High School 35-year reunion. Pictured here with life long best friend Kris Earle (above) and high school beau Jake (below) it is clear she is enjoying herself thoroughly.

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Today she spent the day with sister Lauren and brother-in-law Bob Basile getting out for a hike on the Monon Trail.  It has been more than a week since we have seen each other and I am looking forward to her return tomorrow.

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Finishing in Style

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I flew back from Minnesota this morning so that I could attend Maya’s soccer match this evening.  The team needed a win to advance into post season competition and Maya provided a pivotal contribution to their 1-0 victory over undefeated and highly regarded Newton South. Midway through the first half Maya intercepted a loose ball, dribbled to about midfield where she made a perfectly weighted pass into open space, splitting the defense. A teammate ran onto the ball, took it to the flag and crossed for the goal.

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It was arguably the most important goal of the season and a great way for Maya to close out her high school soccer career. The team was euphoric over the goal and I am sure this is a game Maya will remember for the rest of her life.

A complete set of photos from the match can be found here.

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Still Cooking

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When I first spoke to my mother after learning of my brother’s heart attack, I assured her he would be back in his kitchen cooking pasta by the end of the week.  I was wrong.  He chose to make popcorn.  He arrived home late this evening after making the seven hour drive from Marquette with wife Marie and cousin Heather.  He is still quite sore from a cracked sternum and ribs sustained during his 19 minutes of CPR. He has also been fitted with an implanted defibrillator which will shock him back to life should his heart decide to take another siesta.  Mark really dodged a bullet and we are all very thankful this story has a happy ending.

While my nieces were in school today I visited the Minnesota Zoo which resulted in a huge collection of photographs, some of my favorites are included below.

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Adventures in Baking

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There are many things I do well.  Cooking is not one of them. My first attempt at baking waffle fries for my nieces resulted in loud and enthusiastic acknowledgement from the kitchen smoke detector. Not one to give up at anything, I made a second attempt this evening with a highly satisfying golden-brown outcome.  Please understand that these potatoes came frozen in a bag and the only skill necessary to prepare them is to sit around doing nothing for the appropriate amount of time. I confess that sitting around doing nothing has never been one of my strong suits either.

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In addition to maintaining high nutritional standards for my nieces, today’s after-school activities included a visit to Clifton French Regional Park and a game of “chase the gerbils” (I am referred to as the Gerbil Master), driving lessons in the parking lot and gymnastic class for Sophia.

Eagle Pair

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I spotted a total of four bald eagles while visiting the Long Meadow Lake unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge after dropping my nieces off at school. I happened upon the pair above about two miles from the visitor center. Even though they were rather far away it was hard to miss their distinctive silhouettes.

Nearby Minnehaha Creek was swollen due to significant recent rain making its plunge over 53-foot tall Minnehaha Falls that much more dramatic.

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I hiked down the creek until it converged with the mighty Mississippi River.  Along the way I encountered more raptors and a single bubble gum decorated tree, the first of its kind that I have ever seen.

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Cameras were not permitted at the Excel Center where we attended a concert featuring the acapella quintet, Pentatonix.  Although I really enjoy the group’s music, the concert was a tad too loud for my taste and a pair of screaming teens in the row behind us did little to enhance the experience.  Fortunately, the girls enjoyed their first concert and staying up until midnight on a school night.

Sophia’s Eleventh

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I had the great fortune to spend her 11th birthday with my niece Sophia. After dropping her off at school, I stuck around to witness the “move-a-thon” event for fifth graders.  She completed 70 laps of the beep test and raised a ton of money for an up coming field trip. After school I asked Sophia where I could take her and Rose for a birthday dinner.  She requested Chipotle, one of my favorite restaurants.  I did not bother to mention that I had eaten there for lunch.

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At around 7pm, she was surprised by a group of friends and adults for a proper party.  Mark and Marie and several other family members attended via FaceTime.

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Nanny Carl

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Comfort food for this Italian takes the form of rigatoni with home made marinara sauce. It is also one of the few things I can cook well and hence on the menu this evening as I prepared dinner for my nieces, Sophia and Rose, and their friends Tray and Charlie. I arrived in Minneapolis in time to pick them up from school and will remain here until my brother and sister-in-law are able to return from Marquette, MI.  The heart attack my brother suffered this weekend appears to have been caused by an electrical/heart pacing problem rather than coronary blockage which means he should be able to make a full recovery.  He will, however, need to get an implantable carioverter defibrillator which will shock his heart back to a normal rhythm should it go wonky again. It remains to be seen if he will have that procedure completed in Michigan or after returning home.

Mark was very lucky and we are all incredibly thankful for this outcome. The prayers and well wishes of so many have been much appreciated.

Prayers for Mark

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Maya lit this candle for my younger brother Mark who suffered a heart attack on Friday.  The entire family was on a bike ride when he collapsed to the ground.  His son, Mario, immediately began performing CPR which no doubt saved his life.  When EMT arrived on scene they used a defibrillator to restore his heart beat and then Medivaced him to Marquette, Michigan some 100 miles from Houghton where the family was vacationing. He was initially intubated, sedated and chilled for a day and a half. Earlier this morning he was extubated and was responsive to questions although groggy from the medications and had difficulty talking due to a sore throat and possible cracked ribs. More tests will be conducted tomorrow to determine if further intervention is necessary.  I will travel to Minneapolis in the morning where I will care for young daughters Sophia and Rose during the week while Marie stays with Mark at the hospital. Only months after suffering from a stroke, I am left to wonder if the two events are not connected in some way. We are all praying for his full recovery.


My soccer match this morning was rather depressing as we squandered a one point lead and had to settle for a tie despite controlling most of the action on the pitch.  After the game I took the annual team photo before we enjoyed a fine barbecue at the home of Erik Jarnryd.

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Later I joined Maya and Jeanine downtown as they volunteered at the Crop Walk as part of their work for the National Charity League.

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PhotoPlus Expo

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Pictured above is a photograph of a live model I took while attending the PhotoPlus Expo in New York City today.  Booths for the larger camera manufacturers often feature such scenes so that attendees will be tempted to audition their latest products.  The set, model and her clothes were painted by an artist creating what could easily be mistaken for an oil painting on canvas.

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I decided only this morning to attend the show which was held inside the Javits convention Center. With traffic it took four hours to get there and five to return. A lot of driving for a half day on the show floor but I am very pleased I made the journey.

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Japanese Maple

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It has been 13 years since our family moved from Indianapolis to the Boston area.  When we arrived Jeanine and I planted a small Japanese Maple tree just off the deck in our back yard.  Today it stands some 20 feet tall and is the source of great pleasure year round but especially in the fall as it turns orange and red.

Failed Drive

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Hard to explain how much time and grief this failed piece of technology (3TB hard disk drive with 128GB solid state cache) has cost me.  I spent the entire day trying to coax my precious data from it to no avail. Fortunately my backup archive was fairly up to date and the only file of consequence which I have been unable to restore is Maya’s 18th birthday video interview.  Perhaps she will allow me to film another.  I am tempted to make another video featuring me, the above drive and a sledge hammer.

End of Garden Soup

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Jeanine prepared an end of garden soup from the ingredients pictured above combined with many others not shown.  I can say with both pride and confidence that no one makes better soups than Jeanine.  Of the hundreds I have enjoyed, this one may well be my favorite.


As if to punish me for abandoning it during my “drive about,” my iMac computer failed to boot up when I returned.  It took Apple a week to replace the defective hard disk drive and I picked it up this afternoon. I spent the balance of the day reinstalling software and restoring all of my archived photos.  Unfortunately, I lost about 2 weeks of photography and my archived e-mails.  I am still working on recovering these files but the probability of doing so without employing an expensive recovery service is rapidly diminishing.

Glorious Fall Day

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Another perfect fall day compelled me to get outside for some local photography.  Searching for and locating these idyllic settings is as much fun as shooting them. In another week or two such scenes will have disappeared and I intend to squeeze every bit of color out of this autumn as I can.

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Second Daughter

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I was honored when Maya’s best friend, Sarinnagh, asked me to photograph her senior portrait.  For 13 years I have enjoyed watching her grow up hand-in-hand with Maya. She is as sweet as she is beautiful and it would be impossible for anyone to take a bad photo of her.

The results from my soccer match this morning were not nearly as satisfying.  We squandered a 2-0 lead and had to settle for a 2-2 tie against the number one team in our division. My 16 day road trip took its toll on my conditioning and let’s just say I have some work to do to get back into shape.

College Visit

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Maya’s interest in a nearby college compelled Jeanine and I to join her there for an all day computer science open house today.  I have been admonished from sharing any additional details for reasons known only to the women of the family.