Sunday, April 29, 2007

Moody Monday: Light

The view from inside a small grotto at Xcaret in the Yucatan. Taken during our honeymoon.

Larger view: here.
More Moody Monday.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Wings

Sports have always been a part of my life. My father coached college football, and baseball so I attended my first game as an infant. Fall Saturdays during my childhood meant dressing up to go to Dad's games. Many winter nights were spent at hockey games. And spring meant baseball. I learned to score at a fairly young age, and served as bat girl for several of the teams my Dad coached.

The college I went to is not what I'd call sports crazy. As a women's college it doesn't have a football team for people to rally around, and attendance at sports events is usually limited to other athletes and families. When I was a student I attended only a couple sports events - the Head of the Charles (crew races) and one field hockey game. Oh, and a Harvard-Dartmouth football game, and the Harvard-Yale game my freshman year. The Harvard-Dartmouth game was mostly about the party after, and the Harvard-Yale game was with my mother, brother (a Yale student) and a couple of my cousins. My wife grew up in a family that didn't follow sports so we haven't spent a lot of time watching sports.

I have remained a great fan of softball and baseball. I umpire and coach during the summer. I'll watch softball on TV when it's there, and have spent many an hour watching the Little League world series.

The sports facilities at my alma mater are a whole lot better now than when I was there. Like many sports related events in my life I'm too old to have taken advantage of them although I do swim in the pool there regularly.

Several years ago Wellesley undertook the cleanup of a toxic waste dump at the edge of the campus. (The toxic waste was dumped by the factory which used to be on the site.) Once the cleanup was done the College converted some of the land to new sports fields. The rest is reclaimed wetlands. Among the new fields is a softball stadium which makes me drool every time I drive by, and I drive by frequently since I live nearby.

I've thought about going to a softball game there many times. Finally in March I took the leap and went to a game. And I got hooked. A friend asked recently what my connection was. I don't think I would have been asked that if I'd gone to Penn State and the sport was football.

I've attended almost every home game since then (The picture above was taken just over a week ago at a game there.), and one away game - conveniently held at the university where I work. Which brings us to this weekend. With a pair of wins last weekend my college's softball team qualified for the playoffs for their athletic conference. They won their first and second games on Wednesday. The semi-finals were more than an hour away, but I couldn't stay away. So with Amy's blessing off I went yesterday.

In yesterday's outing the team outhit Springfield College to qualify for today's finals. I had other plans for today, but just couldn't miss this game. So I canceled those plans and got back in the car this morning.

The day was grey and cold. There was occasional precipitation. But it was a glorious day. I reached the tournament early enough to watch the end of the last semi-final game. The final game was a pitcher's duel. A beautiful diving, sliding catch by Wellesley's left fielder, Megan Wood, in the top of the 4th saved a no-hitter for pitcher Jenna Harvey. And in the end it was Megan's solid single to right in the bottom of the 7th with 2 on that led to Wellesley's win and the championship.

Mid-afternoon a bus load of ecstatic young women left Springfield headed east. I'd hazard a guess that they didn't really need the bus. Those women, the ones with the great big grins pictured below, could have flown back on wings of happiness buoyed by the knowledge that their hard work, dedication and teamwork helped them achieve this first.

Thanks to Sunday Scribblings for the inspiration to write.

The official press release on the game is here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thursday Challenge: Fun

What could be more fun than sharing an early morning giggle with your cousin?

Larger view: here
More Thursday Challenge

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lensday: Water

The Sudbury River just east of Route 27 last spring.

Larger view: here
More: LensDay

Friday, April 20, 2007

Haiku: Energy

Sunday Edit: My darling wife, has just pointed out that this is not a haiku because the first line only has 3 syllables. She is, of course, entirely correct.
hands lift sticks
creative thought becoming
beautiful music

The revised version, which is a correct haiku.
hands and sticks transform
creative energy to
beautiful music

(The prompt this week at One Deep Breath is energy. I've got the creative energy of NEFFA on my mind since the festival starts today. The picture was taken in a hallway at NEFFA a couple of years ago.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thursday Challenge: Wildlife

Rainbow Lake 2006
This deer wandered down to the lake for a drink as I was kayaking by.

Larger view here.
More Thursday Challenge.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lensday: Flower

Larger view here.
More: LensDay

Monday, April 16, 2007

Moody Monday: Disorganized

My shop is desperately in need of better organization. Seen and not seen in this picture - two projects, my safety glasses, mallet, burnisher, wood scraps, googles, knife, scroll blades, dust mask, plans, scraper, clamp blocks, glue pallet (yogurt cup lid), sand paper, hardware, glue...

New Throne - Day Two

If you haven't ready Day 1, I'd suggest reading that first so you get the whole story.

After a well deserved rest at the hotel Saturday night, and a hearty hotel breakfast we headed back to the house on Pickerel Pond to continue our rehabilitation of our bathroom.

Step fifteen: Replace floor. We bought the replacement vinyl tiles years ago for the other (non-working - a story for another day) bathroom in our house. Early this year they made their way to the yard sale pile. They didn't sell so when we decided to replace the floor and toilet it made sense to put them to use.

The entire floor contains 20 tiles. I took probably 25 to get them in. First error I started in the corner nearest the door (bottom right of photo). The problem with this was that the tiles at the end fit further under the threshold and baseboard than the third tile on the wall with the door. Despite numerous vacuum passes the tiles picked up fuzz and other debris so were unusable again. With that problem solved the job went quickly until it came time to start cutting tiles.

Seven of the tiles required cutting - 2 around the drain, and 5 along the tub. Cutting the tiles for the drain went smoothly. I got a little bit cocky at that point, thinking I had this job nailed. It took probably 30 minutes and 2 tile to get the cuts scribed and cut correctly for the piece next to the tub at the upper right of the picture. A few more missteps and the floor was done. The only problem with the new floor - it's really slick. Imagine, if you will, a dog on a newly waxed floor. That's pretty much what I looked like trying to stand up.

Step sixteen: Caulk edge of tub. Nothing major to report here, other than that the directions on how to open the tube need to be larger. Once I located a nail large enough to pierce seal inside the spout the job went without incident.

Step seventeen: Cleanup. Because of the small space all of the tools I'd used needed to be collected before the toilet install could begin.

Step eighteen: Toilet install, part 1. We unpacked the new toilet. For anyone planning this in the future - cut the box away from the toilet. This method worked great for us. Then we cut portions of the box to use to cushion the toilet while we got it ready for install. First we installed the closet bolts in the flange, then squished the wax ring onto the bottom of the toilet. At some point during this (don't remember exactly when but it was before the wax ring was attached to the fixture) Dad called. Brief conversation and promise to call back.

To paint a picture of the next maneuver in your head - imagine if you will one large, heavy toilet with really sticky wax blob on the bottom, and two rather large women in a 4' X 5' space. The toilet needs to be lifted and dropped into place over two small bolts without dropping or even setting down the toilet, without hitting the supply line, and without injuring either of the women. Amazingly Amy and I managed to get the toilet upright and into place without incident. Wish I had pictures, but there was no one left to take them not that they would have been able to take a decent one.

Step nineteen: plumbing connections. (Insert screeching tire sound here). After wiggling my way under the toilet, I discovered that the new supply line didn't fit - the helpful sales person at the big box store had provided me with the wrong size.

Step twenty: Trip to big box store for correct size supply line. More helpful sales people - why is it that even when I know what I'm looking for and where it is the sales people in the Plumbing department can't leave me alone. With the correct supply line in hand (receipt #4) I headed back home.

Step twenty-one: Final installation. Attach supply line. Hack saw bolts. Add caps. Turn on water - no leaks YEA! With Amy in the basement to check for leaks I flush - no leaks there either. Added a bead of caulk between the toilet and floor.

Here's the new throne in place. It's quiet, flushes and refills quickly and doesn't run!

Step twenty-two: Reattach door.

The evening concluded with lots of cleanup - tools back to the basement, vacuuming in the basement (debris had made it's way between the boards that make up layer one of our subfloor), more tools away, cutting up the cardboard for recycling, and packing up all the trash.

Cleanup was followed by dinner and celebratory cupcakes. Life is good in the house on Pickerel Pond.

A New Throne - Day One

The women on Pickerel Pond have a new throne. While Amy tackled the government required paperwork, I took on the bathroom. A leaky, wobbly toilet prompted a replacement of both the toilet, part of the sub floor, and the floor covering.

Here's the before:

That's not dirt but broken and peeling vinyl tiles.

Step one: List - we did that together Friday night.

Step two: With list in hand head to Sporting Goods store for temporary substitute (did I mention that this is our only working bathroom).

Step three: Off to the big box store for toilet, plywood (including some for woodworking projects), caulk, flexible supply line, and several other items (and no the router bit wasn't for this project).

Step four: After selecting the new throne, I negotiate a hour or so rental of one of the big box stores small trucks. Pay for and load up the throne with help. Head back inside for the plywood. (Note to self: when transporting very heavy items, and 8 foot sheets of plywood in truck with 8 foot long bed - procure and load the plywood first!) Load the plywood, with help from another customer (thanks buddy) who came upon me trying to determine if I could load the sheets by myself. I was doing this while waiting for more help from the store staff. With the sheets in the truck I then struggled to get them under the toilet's box which was already in the truck. A little assistance from a store employee got the boards under the box enough that the truck bed would close.

Step five: With help from Amy, unload the toilet and carry into the house, and the plywood to the garage.

Step six: Return truck, and purchase a couple of items missed on the first trip. (For those keeping track this is cash register receipt #3.)

Step seven: Remove towels, bathmat, and basket from the bathroom. Tie up shower curtain. Oh yes, and the door - this is a small bathroom.

Step eight: Empty the water, disconnect and remove old toilet. The floor space in this bathroom is about 4' X 5'. Getting to the connections required contortions. The blob on the floor is me - my feet are in the hall. (A note about the shirt. It's tie-dyed. I really like tie-dyed shirts, and bought this from a catalog without thinking carefully about what a red tie-dyed shirt would look like. I'd wanted a purple one, but they were out. I don't wear this in public, since it looks like I've just come from the scene of a massacre.)

Step nine: Clean - floor, flange - the remains of the wax ring were sticky and fairly disgusting.

Step ten: Cut the perimeter of the floor section to be removed - due to rot. I'm not sure what the pros use for this. I did my best impression of a hapless home owner at this point. I cut the perimeter with my circular saw. This did a fine job except for the fact that it couldn't get close to the wall, or the tub. As a result I had to finish up with a chisel.

Step eleven: Measure for replacement floor. Cut plywood. Measure for drain opening, scribe to tub. Cut. Test fit. Consult with Amy about how to wiggle into place. Cut again (same piece, smaller segment). Cut new strip for next to tub. Test fit. Trim all, cut new strip for next to tub. Lather, rinse, repeat (oh wait that's something else).

Step twelve: Screw down plywood.

Step thirteen: Strip up remaining old vinyl tiles. Discover that some of the tiles are still stuck to the floor, really stuck. Call in reinforcements. Discover just how sharp the edges of the tiles are. Acquire band-aid. After a lot of scraping all remnants of the tiles are gone - from the floor at least.

Step fourteen: Pack up a change of clothes, pajamas and swim suit and head for local hotel. Enjoy room service, a swim and a soak in the hot tub before collapsing into bed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Together

We didn't see it coming,
We hadn't planned for it,
It wasn't part of our wildest dreams,
But then,
quiet and trusting you slipped into my heart.

I tried to shake you loose,
To find again the path,
I thought was mine,
But then,
stubborn and demanding you slipped into my arms.

We talked deep into the night,
We held each other close,
We promised to protect each other,
soft and tender you slipped into my soul.

Together we face each day,
Together we face each challenge,
Together we build a life,
Quiet, trusting, stubborn, demanding, soft and tender

This is my contribution to this week's Poetry Thursday. The challenge this week was to take a line contributed by another poet (thanks! patti) and build a poem around it. Patti's line was "soft and tender you slipped into my soul".

Thursday Challenge: Circle

More: Thursday Challenge

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bridge Haiku

under the stone bridge
paddle draws kayak toward
adventure beyond

In response to this week's prompt at One Deep Breath
and with thanks to Shelley for the peer pressure she didn't know she was exerting.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: In The News

When I was in high school I managed the girls basketball team. One of my responsibilities was to call scores in to the local newspapers and tv stations. This was back in the early seventies when the coverage of high school sports was limited to the boys teams, and then only to the big three - football, basketball and baseball. Where I grew up high schools didn't have hockey teams, if they had then boys hockey would have gotten a share of the coverage.

Getting coverage for girls basketball was a challenge. If we were lucky the score would get into the papers. Forget the tv stations. But after each game I called. And I had an advantage that most other high school students didn't have. I knew the sports reporters for most of the local tv stations. I didn't know them well, but I'd met them and in a few cases served them coffee.

The reason was that my father was often a subject of sports news. He coached college football at a local college and a minor league (what most people call semi-pro) football team. He never made an obscene amount of money to coach or won a national title, but he and his teams were still news.

I didn't always like that he was in the news. When I was in elementary school it was just another bit of ammunition in the arsenal my classmates used to tease me about. But in high school it was useful. When I was brushed aside by the flunky answering phones at the local tv stations, I could simply ask to speak to the reporter by name. This sometimes required a second call. When the person on the other end asked who was calling my name, or more correctly my father's name would get the call through.

Slowly but surely the coverage of girls high school sports increased. It didn't just benefit my school, it benefited all the schools in the area. I'm proud that I had a part of that. My father who was a big supporter of equal opportunity in sports, not just for his own girls, but for all girls. I don't know if he realizes that he had a part in increasing the coverage of girls sports in the area where I grew up, but he did and I'm proud of that too.

More Sunday Scribblings.

Homerun Hitter

Kara Wong '08 hit the first ever homerun out of the Wellesley Softball field during game 2 of yesterday's double-header versus Springfield College. Unfortunately, Wellesley lost the game 8 inning game 4-2.

Shutterday: Miss

A strike during game 1 of the Wellesley College softball teams double-header versus Springfield College yesterday. Wellesley won 2-1 in the bottom of the 7th.
Note: the black oval on the 3rd baseman's face is a mouth guard not a spot on the lens.

Larger version here.

More Shutterday.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Makes Me Smile

Among my many identities my favorite is aunt. I've held onto this gift label for more than a month because every time I look at it I smile. The little guy is getting bigger and this is clear evidence of it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thursday Challenge: Colorful

Leaning in as if sharing a secret,
these flowers which will soon
grace my garden with color.
Do they whisper of the nursery,
or tell tales of other flowers,
or simply share the pleasure that is a warm spring day.

Note: This photo is from last spring. With a smattering of snow on the ground this morning it's still too cold for planting.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Passover Haiku

Charoset, matzo
horseradish and Grandma's plates,
time for the seder.

Charoset is a concoction of fruit, nuts and wine that is a traditional Passover dish. The ingredients are ground and mixed to resemble mortar. Amy makes three types - a traditional (Ashkenazi) mix of apples, walnuts and red wine; one with apples, apricots, almonds and sometimes dates; and a third with pistachios, walnuts, almonds, figs, dates, prunes, and apricots. All are yummy.