Golden Years

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It has been a while since Nala was featured in a blog post.  She remains a vigilant guard over the yard ensuring we are safe from squirrels, geese, woodchucks, deer and fox. The latter two have figured out the extent of her electronic fence boundaries and pay her little mind which drives her crazy. She has figured out how to get fed twice for dinner by privately approaching both Jeanine and I with her I’m starving act. I still lament the fact that we wound up with a cat in a dog’s body but she has been the source of much joy for our family.

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Giving Tuesday

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Open Table’s Tuesday Giving Appeal went out today.  Jeanine was very pleased with her team’s work on the project including her in-house photographer who created the lower image.

If you would like to contribute to a truly impactful charity, you can do so by following the link below.

DONATE

Apple Sale

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Six weeks after purchasing a new MacBook Air, Apple announced the latest MacBook Pro.  The new model is just as light as the Air and has a far superior display.  I fought the desire to upgrade for a month and then caved last week when I found a good online deal.  My virtually new Air went to Jeanine, replacing her three year old Air which is pictured above and is now for sale on Craig’s List.  Now that I have a personal laptop (all my prior computers were issued by employers), I no longer feel I will be using my iPad and it is also up for sale. As usual, I enjoyed the task of creating nice “glamour” shots for my listings.

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Indigo Now and Then

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Visiting us today are Diane (far right) and her daughter, Indigo (far left).  Friends of ours from the church we attended in Indianapolis, they are in Boston for an interview at the New England School of Optometry which Indigo is thinking about attending.  Dinner was followed by a brief night time tour of downtown Concord and a visit to our local ice cream shop.  When we returned home, I was able to locate a photo I took of Indigo in 2003 while our families were attending Bayside Camp in Wisconsin.

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Serendipity

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Jeanine and I planned a date night to see the movie Allied. Shortly before leaving we invited good friend and recent widower, Aliza, to join us when she reached out to connect with us. Seating at the theater in Woburn was sold out so we decided to go for dinner instead. Jeanine selected a tapas bar called Pintxo Pincho where I got to sit face to face with the octopus above while we dined at the bar (all the tables were taken or reserved). The meal was excellent and we capped it off with short walk around the town square which was closed off for a decorated Christmas Tree exhibit. After dropping Aliza at her car, I asked Jeanine if we could stop at nearby Best Buy for a minute while I picked up a computer cable I needed.  They did not have the cable but we left the store three and a half hours later with four new iPhone7 phones.  The store was running a one-day trade in promotion which netted us all (Kyle is on his own plan now) new hardware AND a big net savings on our monthly phone bill.  The benefits far outweighed the seemingly endless process needed to effect the transfer and capture the incentives.

Sometimes it really pays to go with the flow rather than stick to the plan.

Leftovers

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Just as we are savoring leftovers from yesterday’s Thanksgiving feast, I thought I would post a couple of left over photos.  The first is of Nicolai and Maya in a tryptophan induced coma after dinner (this was not a posed photo).  The second is of Maya making an aerial video recording of our meal for the benefit of Kyle who was stuck working in California.

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Missing Kyle

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I believe this is the first time we have celebrated Thanksgiving without all members of our immediate family gathered together.  Kyle had to remain at work in California as his Pacific rim brokerage firm caters to markets which do not recognize our turkey day. Fortunately, we were joined by my sister and her family as well as my mother.  Jeanine started a new tradition by placing candles at the center of the table.  We lit each one in remembrance or prayer for someone not present. Also new this year were printed menus courtesy of my niece Rachel and her father.

As we have for the past several years, Jeanine and I started the day by participating in the 5K Turkey Trot. Jeanine treated me to a turkey hat which I have been wanting for some time. The event has grown each year and included some 1700 runners/walkers this year.

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After an early dinner the entire family joined Jeanine to volunteer at Open Table.  The kids all helped in the kitchen. My mother, sister and brother-in-law worked the serving tables.  I took photos and assisted with table and chair folding and storage.  

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Thanksgiving Tale

The following article, written by Jennifer Donovan, appeared November 21 on the Michigan Tech website where my nephew Mario is a student.

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A Thanksgiving Tale: EMT College Student Saves His Father’s Life

At first, Mario Calabria thought it was a joke. The whole family was mountain biking on the Tech Trails, riding slowly on a flat part of the trail,  when his father’ suddenly fell off his bike, hitting a tree as he slumped to the ground. 

Mark Calabria was a fit 56 and an active outdoorsman. “I thought he was messing with us, pretending to be someone who didn’t know how to ride a bike,” Mario recalls.

Then the fourth-year mechanical engineering student at Michigan Technological University noticed that his father’s eyes had rolled back into his head.

As his younger sisters screamed, Mario transformed into something he had spent 224 hours training to become: an emergency medical technician.  Within 30 seconds, he had his brother’s girlfriend calling 911; he found a map posted on a tree and identified exactly where on the Trails they were; he called Travis Pierce, assistant director of the Michigan Tech Emergency Medical Services (as well as Mario’s mentor and friend). Within two minutes, he had checked his father’s pulse, found that he didn’t have one, flipped him over and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). 

As he compressed his father’s chest, he kept saying, “I love you, Pops. Stay with me.”

After about three minutes of CPR, Mark Calabria started breathing. “We got him back; we got him back,” Mario exclaimed to his mother, Marie, who had been helping her husband try to breathe.  

But he’d spoken too soon. With a deep gasp, Mark stopped breathing.  

Meanwhile, 911 dispatch had put out a call to Tech EMS. Pierce picked up three team members he saw as he was racing toward the Tech Trails, and two other teams headed for the scene as well.  Within 11 minutes of the 911 call, six EMTs from Tech EMS and Michigan Tech police officers were at the head of the Homestead Loop of the Nara Tech Trails, a hilly, muddy section that was extremely difficult to reach.

Ross Michaels, a Tech student, EMS lieutenant and one of Mario’s best friends, took over CPR as EMS Director Jon Stone prepared an automated external defibrillator (AED), used to shock a heart back into a regular rhythm.

The emergency medical technicians soon realized that they were facing another life-threatening problem. Mark’s windpipe was starting to swell. He needed to be intubated, so any further swelling would not close his airway. 

EMT training includes inserting a tube down a person’s throat.  Michaels had practiced it in class, but this was his first live patient.  “His first intubation ever, and he nailed it,” Mario recalls.

Stone ordered everyone to stand clear and used the AED to shock Mark’s heart. Eleven minutes had passed since Mark’s attack. 

It took five tries, but finally his heart regained a steady beat.

Mercy Ambulance had arrived by then.  Mario stepped back and let his teammates and Mercy paramedic Jesse Caron and EMT Jason Lunde take over.  It had been 17 minutes since his father fell to the ground. “I was fried,” says Mario.  “And I knew he was getting the very best care possible. I needed to take care of the rest of my family.”

Mario’s brother Rory, who had grabbed their sobbing little sisters and dashed off into the woods with them, returned, shaken. “I’m scared. I’m so scared,” he told Mario.  Rory, 20, is a varsity tennis player at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.  “Your tennis team is good because they practice, right?” Mario asked his brother.  He nodded to the EMS crew, hard at work all around them. “This is my team. This is what we practice.” 

There is a saying in the Calabria family: “Panic is not an option.” It’s virtually a family mantra. But it can be hard to live by at times like this.

“At first, it was just me versus a massive heart attack,” Mario says. “Then I was surrounded with people who knew what they were doing: Tech EMS, Tech police, Mercy.  It was a team effort. Every person there played a pivotal role.”

Michigan Tech Police Sergeant Gary Maki noticed Mario’s younger sisters, Rosie, 8, and Sophia, 11, watching with tear-streaked faces.  “Who are you girls?” he asked gently.  “That’s our dad,” they replied.  Maki knelt down and gave them a reassuring hug.

With Mark Calabria breathing on his own, the EMS and Mercy techs loaded him into an ambulance and negotiated their muddy, hilly way back to the highway to transport their patient to UP Health System-Portage. Thirty-four minutes had passed since Mark Calabria’s heart attack.

From Portage, he was airlifted to Marquette, where he was put into an induced coma, and a permanent defibrillator was implanted. After six days, recovering well, Mark Calabria went home to Plymouth, Minnesota, just outside Minneapolis.

Mark, an engineer and an airline pilot, had been grounded by a stroke just two and a half months before his heart attack.  His doctors were as puzzled by the stroke as they are about his heart attack.  A battery of medical tests has been run, including imaging of his arteries, “and they found zero plaque,” he says.  “That’s unusual. Most men my age will have developed some plaque, even if they lead a very healthy lifestyle.”

One thing the doctors agree on, Mark goes on to say. “They can’t figure out why I am alive and cogent.”

Michigan Tech EMS was formed in 2010 to provide high quality emergency medical services to students, faculty, staff and visitors.  They also offer American Heart Association HeartSaver CPR/AED training on campus.  Michigan Tech EMS currently has 33 certified volunteers, including 28 students, four staff and one faculty member. 

When Mario joined Tech EMS, he was thinking about going to medical school.  “I’d love being a physician,” he says. “But getting ready for medical school meant grinding, grinding, grinding.”

“I was sacrificing quality of life today for later,” he explains. “My dad’s heart attack made me realize that there isn’t necessarily a later. It’s about the journey, not the destination.”

Now he’s heading in a different direction: teaching, which he loves.   

Mario insists that he is not the hero of this story. “My EMS team, the Michigan Tech police, the Mercy EMT and paramedic, they are the stars of the show.”  

Mark Calabria begs to differ. “The entire team and my family played important roles, but Mario saved my life.”

Red Dress Revisited

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After returning from the soccer banquet this weekend, Maya noticed a portrait I made of her as a young girl.  Realizing she was wearing a similar red dress, she asked if we could try and recreate the original.  It was a fun project which we did in 20 minutes.  The original backdrop was a faux painted wall in our Indianapolis home on Meridian Street and not one I could easily reproduce.  I was, however, able to match the lighting and Maya the pose.  It was great fun doing this with her and then observing how much she has changed and how much she has remained the same. I would love to try and do similar recreations for the boys (hint, hint!)

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Third Generation

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Nicolai returned from Colorado College for the Thanksgiving break last week but I have not found an opportunity to photograph him for the blog until today.  After I cut his hair earlier in the day (something I have been doing for my boys since they were tiny things) he offered to give Karuna, his girlfriend, a quick trim.  My mother used to cut my hair so this skill has now been passed down to a third generation.

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My sister-in-law, Susan, spent the weekend with us.  She was in the area to do some shopping for items she could not find in her home town of Burlington, Vermont. We are thrilled anytime she comes to visit and got a bonus day when she had to return after driving half way home to retrieve her laptop which she left behind.  Best of all, I now have a fool proof strategy for extending future visits. Please note the dusting of snow on her car’s hood, the first snow fall of the season.

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Soccer Banquet

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Maya produced this self portrait with her cell phone.  She was very intentional about positioning herself with respect to the ray of sun in the room and in front of an interesting background. I think it is an outstanding imaged and urged her to let me post it here.

This evening Jeanine and I joined Maya for the Girl’s Varsity Soccer Banquet.  The affair was quite posh and Maya was dressed for the occasion.  She received an “Unsung Hero” award as voted by her teammates and a less formal and more humorous “paper plate” award in addition to a varsity letter.

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Assabet River NWR

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Taking advantage of another glorious fall day, Jeanine, Kris and I went for a short hike in the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge.  We followed the Puffer Pond Trail and Winterberry Way to the visitor’s center where we paused to learn more about the refuge and wildlife within.

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On the way home, Jeanine and Kris began discussing afternoon pie baking plans and the need for obtaining just the right apples.  In a truly rare moment of culinary intelligence, I remembered that there was a very nice apple farm near by. Jeanine immediately knew that I was referring to Honey Pot Hill Orchards where we obtained a “pie mix” bag of apples.  Having made such an important contribution to our Thanksgiving dinner, I felt guiltless in rewarding myself with a cider donut.

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Mount Misery

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Mount Misery is a mere 284 feet above sea level,  a hill immersed in hemlock forests and surrounded by farmland, wetlands, ponds, and wildlife.  Jeanine and I hiked in and around it and to the top this morning.  The weather could not have been nicer.

Three Blondes

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Toasting with wine glasses we received as a wedding present from Jeanine’s lifelong friend, Kris Earle, the two were reunited this evening,  Kris will be our guest for three nights while she is attending a teaching conference in Boston. The pair grew up together in Lebanon, Indiana and have remained extremely close.  Kris recently moved to Delray Beach, Florida from Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania just in time to face Hurricane Mathew.  Fortunately, it veered off at the last minute sparing their new home from the fury of the storm.

 

Fall Willow

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This has been the warmest autumn I can remember since moving to Concord some 13 years ago. As a result there is still some fall color to be found.  The weeping willow above is as photogenic now as it was in early spring when it turns a very similar color. Please click on the photo and then zoom in to view it at full resolution as the condensed version does not do justice to the scene.

Old State House

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Built in 1713, the Old State House served as a merchants’ exchange as well as the seat of colonial and state governments. In 1761 James Otis opposed the Writs of Assistance here, inspiring John Adams to state “then and there the child independence was born.” A cobblestone circle beneath its balcony marks the site of the 1770 Boston Massacre when British soldiers fired into a crowd of Bostonians killing five including fugitive slave Crispus Attucks.  I was in the area for a meeting which ran long and paused in traffic for a quick shot on the way home.  I also stopped in at Markforged to say hello to my friends and was treated to a demonstration of the latest products which were truly awesome.