Fly Over

Our home is located relatively close to the Hanscom airfield but we rarely see or hear planes. Today I was convinced that one was about to crash into our home based on how loud the engine noise was. I quickly ran outside to see what was going on and spotted two single engine aerobatic planes circling overhead.  Apparently they were training for low altitude synchronized maneuvers and had decided to do this directly over out neighborhood.  The geese that are feeding in the field behind our house found this none too pleasant and took flight en masse when the planes began dropping fireworks.

Normally this would be enough excitement for one day but just the beginning as Jeanine had planned a mystery date. We attended, with close friends, a play entitled “Disgraced” which offered a poignant look at the challenges of being a Muslim living in the US as well as a balanced but provocative examination of some of the religion’s not so attractive tenants.

59 and Counting

I started my first day as a 59 year old in the shop with my brother. We fabricated covers for the insulated trailer fenders on the tiny house from MDF. All joints are mitered at 45 degrees and it was much much easier to complete the glue up working as a team. By 9:30AM it was off to the airport for Mark’s return flight to Minneapolis and then on to an 11:30AM meeting with a venture capitalist in the Seaport district considering investment in one of the companies I am currently consulting for. I had given myself plenty of time to make my next meeting in Cambridge at 2PM but when I returned to the place I had parked my car it had been towed away triggering a mad scramble to locate it, get to it, pay to have it liberated, and travel to my next destination. I arrived with minutes to spare for what turned out to be a very enjoyable visit with a company I admire greatly. I returned to Concord just in time to gather up Jeanine and set out for the 60th birthday party for one of my soccer teammates. I really enjoyed being at a birthday celebration on my birthday and not being the center of attention. All in all, a very hectic but ultimately satisfying day. Not unlike my life to date.

Uncle & Niece

Before returning to Minnesota tomorrow, my brother Mark wanted to visit his niece at Olin College where she is studying engineering. Maya gave us a tour of the campus, her dorm room, and of greatest interest, her first project. All Olin first year students create a biologically inspired hopping mechanism which must meet their self imposed design objectives. Mark was delighted to see Maya and to welcome another member of the Calabria family into the field of engineering. Earlier in the day Mark and I mitered all of the window trim and  fabricated all of the window sills for the tiny house.

Perfect Fit

After countless hours of painting, something neither of us particularly enjoy, my brother and I got a chance to do some actual woodworking this afternoon. This 1/2″ thick plywood panel is destined for the bathroom. The cutouts are not particularly difficult to make. The challenge is to locate them in exactly the right positions which requires extremely careful measurement and layout. A single mistake can ruin the entire panel. Working together and checking each others work we were able to achieve a perfect fit.

Later, we joined Jeanine at Open Table for their annual meeting and volunteer appreciation dinner. The keynote speaker shared her story of unexpectedly falling into poverty, the struggle to feed her children, and the importance of a food pantry to her family’s survival and rebound. It was a moving validation of the important work done by Open Table and organizations of its kind.

Paint by Numbers

Working together with my brother Mark,  we painted the entire interior of the tiny house. It proved to be more time consuming than I would have ever imagined and I was grateful for the help. I was hoping that a single coat would suffice but that was not the case.  Not exactly the most creative of choices, the white color is meant to match the window trim so that these features are minimized and the sense of connection to the outdoors is increased.

Build Buddy

In the last year my brother Mark has independently survived both a stroke and sudden cardiac arrest. He survived the former because of quick treatment with a clot buster and the later because his son was well trained in CPR.  The only lingering impact has been difficulty with speech and word forming, both on a trajectory to full recovery. The same cannot be said for his hair which has migrated from the top of his head to the bottom. He arrived this morning and will stay this week to help me with the tiny house build. Next week I will travel to his home in Minneapolis to help him with a deck project that he has underway. Working together is much easier than doing so alone and gives us a great chance to catch up with each other.

Italian Feast

Kyle was in charge of dinner this evening. He prepared a wonderful Italian feast including rigatoni with marinara sauce, meatballs, two types of salad and freshly baked apple crisps for dessert. Despite having a cold, Jeanine completed the Ride for Food 25 mile bike ride this morning. This year the hunger relief fundraiser brought in close to half a million dollars. I played soccer this morning and scored a pretty goal with seconds remaining in the half to equalize the score at 1-1. We went on to dominate the second half as our opponents began to wilt in the 80 degree heat.

Work Companion

I took advantage of today’s nice weather to work on the underside of the tiny house.  The area that is built out over the tongue is where the water line enters and the drain line exits the house. It is important that this area be especially well insulated and it took several hours to complete the work.  The house is now entirely sealed from top to bottom. Working with me under the house was this wasp. He did not bother me and I did not bother him except to grab a few photos. Peaceful coexistence.

Garage Reclaimed

Until now, I have taken over 2 out of our 3 garage bays to serve as a work area for the tiny house project. With cold weather approaching it was time to consolidate into one so that Jeanine can park her car inside again. To that end, I organized all of the unused building materials in a much more condensed fashion and returned tools no longer in daily use to my basement workshop.

A Touch of Jose

I spent the afternoon in Somerville at one of my consulting gigs returning home just in time to catch a glorious sunset.  It has been very windy with intermittent rain all day, the effects of distant hurricane Jose.

Baby Sis

My sister Alissa had a dance performance last night and shared this photo from the event. My parents were passionate ballroom dancers (it is how they met) and she is the only child who has carried on the tradition. My mother, who will turn 90 next year, still goes out dancing every week. A link to the performance can be found here.

Rail Trail

The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail will eventually connect Lowell, Chelmsford, Westford, Carlisle, Acton, Concord, Sudbury, and Framingham. This summer phase 2C of the project is underway bringing a 2.8 mile section of the trail through town.  We are located less than a mile from the trail and it will be very easy to access once completed. Can’t wait.

Movie Spectra

Usually, I try to feature my own photography on this blog. Today I am sharing the work of Dillon Baker who created a Java-based processing program that takes each frame of a given movie and compresses its average color into a single vertical line, creating a timeline of the spectrum of colors used throughout each movie. Having spent so much time in the video and film industry, I found this to be very interesting.

Hat Trick

A nicer fall day one could not have asked for.  Even better, I stepped on the soccer pitch this morning without an ache or injury to speak of.  I stepped off 90 minutes later with three goals and one assist to my name. Moving up to the over-56 age division (something I should have done three years ago) has me competing with players my own age and revived my goal scoring potential. Some things have not changed, however, as I spent the next several hours icing down a tender Achilles tendon and both knees. Later in the day, Jeanine and I traveled to Westwood where we dined with Tom Metzold and Karen Manor, a life long friend and my high school wrestling partner and his lovely wife. We arrived a little early and took a short stroll through the town center.

Dog Washing

Nala received a full spa package treatment today courtesy of her mother. It included a full body shampoo, hair cut, blow dry and what can best be described as dethatching. When she gets wet she runs around the house like a crazed animal stopping at the back door to signal her desire to be let out. Should we comply with this wish before drying her, she would return caked in God knows what. The drying/dethatching phase results in a massive amount of shed fur.  It is fortunate for Nala that Jeanine seems to enjoy this ritual from time to time. If left to me, I would employ our washer and dryer appliances to make short work of the task. They are large enough that you could probably even do two dogs in one load.

In the evening, Jeanine and I attended a house warming party of one of my soccer teammates. Jamie and his wife Gill live on the Fort Meadow Reservoir in Marlborough. Live music and a sunset cruise around the lake made for a very relaxing and enjoyable evening.


I am constantly amazed by the beauty of the natural world. These parachute seeds are from a weed that has grown to a height of three feet in between the bricks of our back patio.  After photographing them, I pulled the plant out only to inadvertently liberate the paratroopers which will grow to fight another day.

Later in the day I tried to convince Jeanine that we were going to Home Depot for mystery date night to shop for window shutters (a very plausible ruse given the state of ours).  I use this technique to lower expectations for the actual date, in this case a movie (Wind River) and after movie snacks (at the Border Cafe). I also needed to pick up some parts for the tiny house and the Home Depot is on the way. I didn’t fool Jeanine for a second as she knows all my tricks.