Saturday, June 30, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Today after going to an 8am doctor's appointment I loafed some more, worked in the wood shop for a couple of hours (finishing the nightlight and working on a jig). And then it was time to hit the river, Charles that is.
I put in at the Elm Bank Reservation in Wellesley. This was the first tryout for the kayak trailer I got for Christmas. The trailer has a cradle for the back end of the boat and two straps one which secures the back. The other strap runs through a large hook. The hook is hooked to the cockpit and the straps are tightened to secure it. It works like a dream and makes moving the kayak more than a couple of feet a lot easier.
I put in under a large tree at the edge of the river. This put in is quite steep. My everlasting thanks to the woman, there playing with her dogs, who pointed out the gradual sloped launch site 20 feet away.
From there I headed upriver toward the dam in South Natick. I haven't paddled much of this stretch before. Like much of the Charles it is a mellow stretch of water that winds past park land (Elm Bank) and houses. Many of the houses had canoes resting by the water. And one had a great tree house right at the edge of the river. I got as close as I could to the dam. I had to turn around not because of the current, but because the water was too shallow. I did get within about 50 feet of the dam. Then it was back down river. Because I had time I continued about a mile or so beyond Elm Bank before I headed back to the car.
As I paddled my mind wandered around a bit. I composed haiku in my head, or I should say part of a haiku. I've got the first two lines. I thought about what to write about the paddle. I thought about the last time I paddled part of this stretch back in November. And I thought about things I've forgotten.
Total paddle time: 1 hour 45 minutes. Total distance ~ 3 1/2 miles. Turtle sightings - 1; heron sightings - 2; goose sightings - too many to count; plastic dog sightings - 3 (designed to counteract goose sightings). Human sightings were few - the woman with the dogs, 2 little boys who'd been fishing and their grandmother (I think), 2 couples reading in the sun, one adult rollerblader, two women on horseback, and two other kayakers.
Take a careful look at the picture below. Do you see the fish?
The other kayakers were not wearing life vests, and based on a short conversation I had with them were not clear on which direction was upriver and which was down. While the Charles, particularly in this section, is a fairly easy paddle I still don't think it's smart to paddle without life vests; and it's always smart to know where you're paddling.
A note on my own paddling practices. I do frequently paddle alone. When I do I always let Amy know where I'm putting in, where I'm planning to paddle and how long I expect to be gone and I call her when I'm out of the river. I also leave a note in the car with the time I'm putting in, the expected return and where I'm going. I always wear my life vest, which has an emergency whistle attached to it, and I always have identification (in the form of my medic alert bracelet) with me. I also do my homework. Before I try a new route I check guidebooks and maps so I know what to expect.
Friday, June 15, 2007
I scanned these but they were taken by my mother.
I'm a little early with this, but we're going away for the weekend.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I didn't chant slogans,
I wasn't in the crowd.
I did release a sigh of relief,
I did call my wife,
I did smile broadly.
Three years ago I said I do,
Three years she said I do,
Three years as wife and wife.
Voting on rights is wrong,
the legislature agrees,
Our marriage will not be challenged.
At this point it's really not news, but today the Massachusetts legislature voted down a proposed ballot question that would have put the question of whether same-sex marriage should be legal on the ballot in 2008. I'm not naive enough to think the battle is over. The battle will continue both here and across the country. The haters will still hate. But for today it's time to rejoice because love has won out.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Sunday was a hot steamy day with crisp clear blue skies. In short the perfect day to put paddle to water.
Since this was the first outing I chose a familiar stretch of the Charles for my trip. I put in just off route 30 near route 128 in Newton. (For those who know the area the put in is across the river from the Charles River Canoe & Kayak rental shop. From there I headed upriver towards Weston and Wellesley.
Moving upriver on this section of the river you first make your way under route 30, then the turnpike before entering a quieter stretch that passes by Riverside Park. Next up are the route 128 bridges, before passing through the relative quiet of the Leo J. Martin golf course.
This is not the most remote section of the river, and even late on a Sunday afternoon there was quite a bit of company on the river. I'd expected that since the rental shop does a pretty brisk business and it was such a gorgeous day. Once I got to the golf course I was basically alone. I explored a little further than I ever have before, going well beyond the golf cart bridge.
As is typical when I get out on the river, I didn't want to turn around. I have a watch that hangs on my life vest, and before I put in I decide how long I can paddle. But as I get near and beyond the time to turn around I'm forever making deals with myself - "I'll turn around when I get to that big tree" or "I really need to turn around at that rock". It's a lot easier when there is a natural impediment to continuing - a dam, low water level or the like. Responsibility did win out and I turned around and headed back downriver.
It's always fun to begin a trip heading upriver and end it heading downriver. By approaching a trip that way the end of the trip is an easier paddle. The river is high enough, and I was close enough to a water fall that the current was fairly strong and pushed me back downriver.
All in all it was an auspicious, if late, beginning to the paddle season.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
The college I attended was a fairly white bread place when I was there. There were students of color and international students but they didn't make up a very large percentage of the student body. Similarly the chapel services were decidedly Protestant.
I didn't attend very many chapel services as a student, but as a member of the college choir attendance was mandatory at a few every year. Those services had a comforting similarity to the Presbyterian and Congregationalist services I had attended (sporadically) before college. The order of service, the hymnal, the prayers all were familiar.
Partway through my college life the college hired a new chaplain who was decidedly feminist. I have fond memories of our choir director, an older man with roots in the Episcopalian church, complaining because this new chaplain was insisting that the wording of the hymns being sung have the wording changed to reflect here feminist bent. There is a certain absurdity to his annoyance given that I attended a women's college. Our director was a dear sweet man who just didn't want his beloved hymns messed with.
Things have changed quite a bit since then. The student body is decidedly more ethnically diverse and formerly marginalized communities are an integral part of the campus. The religious life of the college has changed as well. A number of years ago a new chaplain was brought in and charged with developing ways to embrace the religious diversity on the campus. The chaplain embraced this challenge with an evangelical passion. College wide chapel services now incorporate elements of a wide range of religions.
As I sat under the tree earlier today it was the sounds of the service which were running through my mind. The low ringing of the bell which is the Buddhist call to worship; the chattering of birds outside the open door, the lilt of a Hindu prayer, the blending of women's voices as they sang a round in Hebrew, the words of the Koran, and the more familiar words of the Protestant and Catholic traditions.
After the horrid attacks of September 11, 2001 the college scheduled a special all college chapel service. At a time when the unfamiliar was cause for anxiety, this service provided healing in sharing the range of religious observance. I particularly remember the end of the service when we were directed to the lawn outside the chapel. Once gathered in a circle there we shared a native American prayer. It was one more element toward bringing understanding about how our differences can enrich us.
Where the services of my college life were white bread, the services now are a lovely spicy stew and everyone who is fortunate enough to attend one is enriched.
This week's prompt at Sunday Scribblings is spicy. You can see more here. And thanks to Shelley for inspiration on this one.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Amy and I celebrated our third anniversary yesterday. Well actually we didn't so much celebrate as acknowledge that it was in fact our third anniversary. Why, you may ask, was this not an occasion for great rejoicing and leather (the traditional third anniversary gift)? This is one of three anniversaries we have. Yes, three.
Anniversary number one is the date we have celebrated for 24 years. It's in February and is the important anniversary.
Anniversary number two is the legal wedding date, yesterday. It's the day when we gathered with a couple of friends, my aunt and a justice-of-the-peace in our living room to make it legal.
Anniversary number three is the date of our "re-wedding" in October. That's the day when our friends and family gathered to celebrate our wedding. Vows, flowers, photographer (If you're in the greater Boston area and need a really good wedding photographer let me know and I'll pass on her contact info.), cake, and a bar tender who was only too happy to keep one ear on the first game of the 2004 World Series and relay the scores to the friends and family who gave up the opportunity to spend the night screaming at the tv to be with us. We do have one friend who had to leave early to get back to her job in the Red Sox ticket office (thanks Sarah!).
The legal wedding happened because I panicked. There is an image burned into my memory from the coverage of San Francisco's foray into issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It is of a slightly older woman standing in the hall after being informed that the state had stepped in to halt the issuing of licenses. She looks devasted, but rather than the string of profanities which might have issued from my mouth, all she is saying is "Oh darn, .. darn, darn, darn." I didn't want to be that woman, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to be Amy's wife.
Amy would have been happy to wait. She didn't feel the same urgency that I did. But she does love me. So we found a JP, called two of our closest friends, called my parents (who wanted to be there but couldn't rearrange previous obligations, and my aunt. The day before the wedding we prepared the entree for the wedding feast (greek meatballs), made cupcakes, and made sure the living room was presentable. Tuesday, June 8th rolled around and we headed to work. Yup, that's right we worked the day of our wedding. We left work early. We'd planned what to wear, but a sudden heat wave, 98º that day, changed those plans. But we did dress up.
We didn't have bouquets but we did have flowers. Amy had picked out some - to make sure we had flowers at our wedding. My parents sent a gorgeous bouquet of cream colored roses. Our friend Karen brought red roses, and my aunt bought a beautifully colorful mixed bouquet.
Karen was the first to arrive and we put her to work as photographer. We took a couple of pictures of the two of us using the neighbors yard as backdrop. She also took pictures throughout the ceremony and during the celebration afterwards.
Our friend Katy, not to be confused with my aunt Katie, brought her children R and A. Katy and R were dressed for the weather in simple dresses. A, however, had insisted on wearing his tuxedo complete with bow tie and cummerbund. (We'd even gotten email earlier in the week asking which bowtie he should wear - we chose the purple one.) I thought the poor kid was going to melt. He stayed in full regalia until we started dinner.
The ceremony was uneventful. There was some levity when Karen made us kiss a second time because she'd missed the first. It was sort of surreal to be saying those words. It didn't sink in until later that it was real.
We popped open a bottle of champagne, took some more pictures - including one that R took for our college alumnae magazine (all of the adults except the JP went to the same college), and had a great dinner. The next day we went to work. We hadn't told anyone there that we were getting married, but word got out and we received lots of warm wishes. We sent out announcements. And then life went on much as it had.
Being married hasn't changed the day-to-day of our life, although it has complicated our taxes (The feds don't recognize the marriage. The state return uses numbers from the federal return. We have to file state as married and federal as single. So we complete three federal returns - two (one each) to mail along with a letter explaining why we are submitting a return that says we're single when we're married and one to get the numbers for the state return.) What being married has done is given us a great sense of security. We have a license that gives us legal status in each other's lives. We don't have to rely on luck and geography to live our lives.
So we didn't celebrate our anniversary yesterday. But we celebrate being married everyday.
And finally, one more anniversary to make note of. Today is my parent's 51st anniversary. Their idea of celebration - watching the Yankee's win and babysitting my nephew so his parents can go to tomorrow's Yankees game.
The third week of the softball season ended yesterday. So far it's been a good year and every indication is that it's going to continue.
Once again this year we have scheduling issues, for which I have no responsibility. The athletic department (this league is a community league at the university with which my place of employment is associated) is planning to resod 4 of the 10 fields so those aren't available until early July. They have let us use the outfield of the baseball diamond. We have 73 teams in 13 divisions so this presented a challenge for the schedulers. Extending the season and scheduling double-headers solved this.
Our fields are with one exception not designed to be softball fields. We do use the intercollegiate softball field, but the other fields are just open grass. We do use one soccer/field hockey/frisbee/lacrosse field which is covered with what is essentially carpet - fake grass without blades. We use rubber bases which the umpires set out before the game and pick up after the game. Most nights we have games going on at least 4 fields at once. When the season really gets going we'll have 7 games going at once.
I've umpired one fast-pitch and on slow-pitch game, and played 2 slow-pitch games so far. The umpiring is going really well this year. I attribute that to all the softball I watched in March, April and May. Of course the fact that I've been doing this for 8 years might have something to do with it. I hadn't planned to umpire the slow-pitch game I did on Thursday but one of my umpires (I am the umpire-in-chief fo the league) called with a work conflict too late to get a sub.
My softball stuff is all in residence in my car so I grabbed the couple of things I needed and headed for the field. I did rearrange that night's umpires so I could do the game on the softball diamond, which has permanent bases so I didn't have to lug bases. Game time is 5:30. I had woodworking class at 7 so I let the captains (no coaches in our league) know that I was going to keep the game moving. An hour and 5 minutes later the 7 inning game was done, and I was headed to class. It was a relatively low scoring game (12 -7) and the teams did their best not to waste time. I was only 15 minutes late for class, which isn't an issue since it's an open shop class.
Our team is now 3-0. I've only played in two of the games. I missed last week because Amy had a concert. I'm playing second (no kneeling, not much running). I've only been involved in a couple of plays. First game I took a throw from short for a force out - and almost got taken out by the runner. Last night I fielded a ground ball cleanly and flipped it to the shortstop for the force. In the first game I walked twice and grounded out once. Last night I grounded out to the pitcher and hit a deep grounder to the shortstop. My courtesy runner beat out the throw on the second and came around to score later in the inning.
We're off to a good start, and I can't wait for more.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
The rules are:
- grab the book closest to you
- open it to page 161
- find the fifth full sentence
- post the text of the sentence to your blog
- don't search around for the coolest book you have, use the one that is really next to you.
I'm at work, and I've got lots of manuals around but the closest book is the mystery I'm reading. The fifth full sentence on page 161:
Just for the record, I do remember what being forty looks like.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Each summer as the highway fades in the rear view mirror as we head into the mountains I relax. Certainly the fact that exiting the highway represents the beginning of two weeks of swimming, kayaking, reading, puzzles and relaxing has a lot to do with it. But it is also that our place in the mountains feels like home.
Our cabin in the woods is less than 70 miles, by road from where I was born. My family didn't stay in that little town for long. By the time I was 4 we lived in a small city several hours southeast. But our place in the country holds an honored place in our family history, and it has a hold on me.
In my life I have lived in a small city, the suburbs, and in a small town. I am happiest where trees, and water are the views out my window. I have both of those things in my suburban home - trees in the woods behind the house and a pond just beyond our next door neighbor's back yard. The view from the cabin in the woods is of the trees that surround it and the lake just down the path.
While the view from my house is nearly perfect the sounds are not. We live within a mile of 2 major highways and can hear traffic sounds when they are not drowned out by lawnmowers. In our cabin in the woods the sounds are perfect. Loons call in the night, and the breeze rustles the leaves. The silence is broken occasionally by a power boat, but on this lake those are few and far between.
I am at heart a country girl. The lights and noise of the city don't appeal to me. The twinkling of the stars in the sky far from city lights is one of my favorite sites. I love to lie on the dock, or float in the lake, and look up at the stars, and it's even better when I can talk Amy into joining me.
The picture is me and my brother in the front yard of my family's house in the country.
More: Sunday Scribblings