Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Summer Vacation

It's almost January and outside the window the world is white. Snow is falling and from the comfort of my living room I can just tell that it's cold. As an antidote to the cold I thought I'd offer this tale of our summer vacation, which I have previously failed to record.

As regular readers may recall way back in July we once again headed off to Wakanda on Rainbow Lake in the wilds of the Adirondacks for two weeks of rest and relaxation. The day we left was hot, really, really hot. I stopped to let the neighbors know we were leaving and their grandson, A, who's about 9 offered to help pack the car. Given the weather I took him up on his offer. First step was to load the kayak onto it's rack, then drive the car up to the front of the house, unload the kayak and load the car. Into the car we packed games, puzzles, food (there are always a few things we take from home), clothes, and books - lots and lots of books. A carried/dragged most of the bags and boxes out of the house. Particularly amusing was watching this boy try and propel our large, rolling duffles down our bumpy front walk. The duffles were almost as big as he was and very definitely out-weighed him. I really wish I had a picture of that. Finally the kayak, once again, took it's place of honor on top of the car and we were ready to head out.

The drive was uneventful, or at least uneventful enough that I don't really remember it 5 months later. We did stop at a liquor store near my parent's house to pick up wine for a co-worker. (The back story on this is that he'd been to a wine tasting and fell in love with a particular dessert wine that he then couldn't find near Boston. He found it at a liquor store in New York, and asked if we would mind picking some up for him. Since the liquor store was on the way to my parent's house, the halfway point of our journey, we were happy to oblige.

We arrived at Owl Cabin well after dark, perhaps our latest arrival. We quickly unpacked and finished just as the clouds opened up and rain began to fall. It rained for days. We were prepared so this did not impact the enjoyment at all. We read, worked puzzles, baked, and I swam.

caught tree

moonday cookies

Dancing Raindrops
Oh, and played with my then new macro lens.

My brother T and nephew N joined us for a few days of fun in the mountains.

N in Kayak
N enjoying a kayak ride.
T gave kayaking a try and loved it. I'm guessing I'll have a partner for some longer paddles next summer.
Helping Amy with a crossword puzzle.
Working on the project I brought for us to do.
(I did not make the parts for this.)
Race Car
The finished project.

Other highlights of the trip
loon sightings
fresh blueberries from the bushes surrounding the cabin
cloud reflections
the beautiful lake - the sun did finally come out
purple and green
our hosts bountiful flower garden
The path to the morning beach.
(This is my entry in the current Thursday Challenge.)

The morning that T and N left, N and I headed down the path above with a bucket of Legos which we were returning to Loon cabin. N was carrying the bucket and we were chatting when a tree root jumped up and tripped him. He was devastated, but I quickly let him know it wasn't a problem, and we spent several minutes searching under bushes and leaves for Legos, some of which are quite tiny. There are probably a few still along the path.

We finished up our vacation with an overnight visit from my parents. It was great to be able to share our favorite spot in the woods with them again. Then it was time to load up the car again and head home.

Only 6 1/2 months till we return.

Editted: Click here to see more pictures from our Adirondack vacation.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thursday Challenge: Light

One of the string of 5 snowflake lights that are hanging in our living room window.

See more Thursday Challenge here.

Thin Ice

Toward the Pond
This picture was taken nearly a year ago but it's fairly close to the view outside our windows now, though instead of sun we've got light snow falling. Through those trees, if you know what to look for, you can see the pond. There is only one house between us and it. It's a small pond and with the exception of the access path that runs down the hill on the other side of our next door neighbor is fairly inaccessible. It's set down from the few surrounding houses and ours is the only nearby road.

It's a small pond and doesn't get a lot of use - an occasional fisherman, teenagers looking for a spot to be alone, and in the depths of winter ice skaters. Yesterday our little pond was the focus of a lot of activity. Early in the afternoon Amy noticed fire trucks and police cars parked, lights flashing near the access path.

My first reaction was that someone had fallen through the ice, but the lack of an ambulance and the quick departure of the police car - sirens blaring - had us thinking that maybe we were wrong and they were just checking the barrier on the access path. But the fire truck didn't leave and we heard shouting. The only words I could make out were "talk to us". The fire trucks were there a long time.

Amy was out shoveling when a neighbor walked by headed back to his house. He'd been more curious than we were about the activity and had gone to see what was happening. As it turned out my first instincts were correct - someone, or rather two someones had fallen through the ice. Apparently two teenage boys, 15ish according to the tv reports, had decided to walk across the pond. They almost made it falling through the ice just before reaching the far side of the pond. The very good news is that the fire department was able to rescue them and they are going to be okay.

It was not been cold here for very long, in fact until the last three days it has mostly been in the mid-30s. There's been frost but we have not had the kind of sustained cold to form reasonable ice on any pond. Given the lack of cold I'm amazed that these boys didn't fall through within feet of the shore on this side.

The boys, despite their really bad decision to walk across the thin ice on the pond, did a couple of things right once they ended up in the water. They removed their shoes and pants - which worsened their hypothermia. They were able to pull themselves out of the water. When the firefighters finally got to them, after what the news reported as a mile long trek through the pathless woods, two of them removed their cold water protection suits and wrestled the boys into them.

The fire trucks and the news vans that arrived in their wake are now gone. The memories of this will stay with me. My heart goes out to the families that came way too close to losing their children. The outcome of this incident could have been much, much worse.

Please remind all those close to you - stay off the ice!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Don't Bake While Tired

A couple of weeks ago I was up late finishing cupcakes for a party the next day. I'd gotten a late start and I had to have the cupcakes ready to go first thing in the morning so even though I was really tired I was determined to finish. When I added the confectioner's sugar to the mixer for the frosting I realized that I needed to mix it in by hand because the mixer was putting too much of the sugar into the air. I reached for the switch to turn it down. In my sleepiness I did not turn the mixer off as was my intent, no I switched it to high. The result, as you can see, wasn't pretty.


The powdered sugar was everywhere. I was coated, the counter was coated, everything on the counter was coated. So take it from me - if you're tired step away from the mixer.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thinking about Marriage

Maria posted a link to a commentary by Keith Olbermann on gay marriage which I think should be read or listened to by everyone. You can find the commentary here. It's a little long, 6 1/2 minutes, but worth the listen.

In other news, the cold I've been fighting and yesterday's wet weather kept me from joining in on the protests against California's Prop 8. But I was there in spirit.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday Challenge: Sound

The pianist for the Broadmoor Chamber Singers (Amy's chorus).

See more Thursday Challenge here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!


As a child growing up in a household with a dog, I knew what a veterinarian was. I did not understand what a veteran was. And so I thought that November 11th was Veterinarians Day. I remember the conversation when my mother explained the difference between veterinarians and veterans. Veterans Day was, and is, an important day in my life. Not because it's Veterans Day but because it is also my birthday.

Because my birthday is a holiday I have almost always had the day off from school and work. (There was one year when the government decided to make Veterans Day a Monday holiday at the end of October, but I digress.) My current place of business does not give us Veterans Day off. We get the Friday after Thanksgiving instead. However, I do get generous vacation time. So I was able to take both Monday and Tuesday off to play.

I spent most of Monday in my woodshop, working on a project for Hiker Boy. (I haven't posted about it yet, but will soon on elf business.) And I installed the car rack on my new car .

Yesterday, I headed off early for a paddle. I'll post about that tomorrow. My timing was perfect. The morning, when I was on the river, was full of sun and clear blue skies. By the time I had the kayak and all it's equipment put away it was gray and threatening to rain. I spent the afternoon watching a movie (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - recommended).

After dinner out at our favorite Chinese Restaurant, we returned home for cake, complete with squiggly candles.

In addition to the new ipod, which goes with the new car (there's a connector so the ipod can be played through the car audio system), I also got the way cool bumper sticker from my sister-out-law, Shelley (who will be getting a proper thank you). It now holds a place of honor on my car.

Comfort Food

comfort Food
One of the casseroles my mother made when I was a child, was this concoction of egg noodles, ham and peas with a sauce of cheese, milk, ketchup and horseradish topped with bread cubes. She made it with velveeta cheese and spam. I don't remember it being a favorite of mine during my childhood, but as an adult I occasionally find myself craving it.

I haven't been able to eat it for years because my body can not successfully digest milk fat. I am able to eat goat cheese, though. And earlier this fall while perusing the collection of goat cheese at the local Whole Foods, I discovered that they carry fat-free cheddar cheese. It's taste's pretty good and doesn't upset my stomach.

So, when I got a craving for this casserole last week - on one of those cold wet gray November days - I realized that I could satisfy my craving. So for tonight's dinner I had ham and noodle casserole. It was delicious. Amy missed out, since she left this morning to visit her Mother in Arkansas.

Melancholy Excitement

We bought this car in early 2000, when we finally decided that we needed to become a two-car family. It was the first car we bought with the help of our dear friend Robert, who runs a car buying service (he does all the negotiation for a small fee).

Late this summer I took it in to the shop to have the air conditioning fixed. While it was there the service guys (who I really trust) determined that the car needed several major fixes. Since these weren't life threatening I decided to ponder whether to fix the car or replace it. This was a tough decision because I really love this car. After consulting with Robert, I decided it was time to replace it.

Test drives were made and two weeks ago I picked up my new car. It's a new Subaru Forester. I don't love it as much as the old one, but it's a very nice car.

The new car has:

heated wipers

radio controls on the steering wheel

cool blue speedometer

moon roof
(this is looking out the moon roof at the edge of our yard)

door Handle
chrome door handles
And best of all the new car comes with peace of mind, but I still miss my old car.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Poster for WFM Anniversary

This weekend Wellesley Friends Meeting is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. There will be speeches, plays, worship, food, and fellowship. As an added decoration several people have put together posters highlighting the major work and concerns of the meeting. The picture below is the poster I put together of pictures from our participation in Boston's Lesbian and Gay Pride parades. The wording on the finished poster is slightly different, but the sentiment is the same.


I'm lucky enough to have access to a poster printer at work. Back in September, when I was really thinking I'd get this done ahead of time, I was reminded that the poster printer is booked solid for a good portion of the month. Once the event which causes this demand was over, I'd moved on to other things. Last weekend I finally got back to thinking about the poster. I got it put together Sunday afternoon, but didn't get around to thinking about printing it until yesterday.

So this morning I grabbed my thumb drive moved the poster file to it and headed off to work with Amy. I got to the other building (home of the poster printer and Amy's office) and was opening the file to show it to one of the poster printing experts when I realized that the program I created the poster in does not import the image files, but links to them. This was a major problem because I had not put those files on the thumb drive.

After some agonizing, there'd already been a couple of issues with the payroll posting that I'd had to deal with remotely, I headed home again to retrieve the files. Given that it was mid-morning it was an easy drive. Then back to print the poster. Which also went relatively smoothly. The good news is it's printed, the bad news is I'm still not happy with the wording.

I'll mount it to foam core tonight, and deliver it to the Meeting House tomorrow when we head over to help set up for the afternoon and evening festivities.

PhotoFriday: Freeze Frame

Duck taking off over Rainbow Lake.
Taken during our vacation in July.

The back story to this is that the first thing I do each morning during our two week vacation at Wakanda is head out to the lake to swim. Most mornings I take along one of my cameras (The working arsenal includes 2 digital (slr and waterproof), 2 film and a video camera.) Early in the morning the lake is usually crystal clear. Most mornings I see some sort of wildlife. Managing to photograph the wildlife is a rare occurence. This was taken when the camera was ready at the same time as the wildlife.

See more PhotoFriday here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

PhotoSunday: Sunset

Sunset over New London Harbor in Connecticut

See more PhotoSunday here.

(It has been brought to my attention that I haven't been posting anything. I'm not offering any excuses, but it's been a really busy month or so. The picture above was taken while I was in Connecticut for the fall conference for the users group I'm the president of.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Photo Honors

I stopped by MacroDay this evening to check this week's challenge, and there at the top of the page was my name. My photo of one of the lane marker's in the pool at Wellesley (repeated below) was voted on of the top 3 favorites for the "Wet" challenge. That put a smile on my tired face. (Tired because I've been getting up earlier that usual to go swim, in the pool, next to the lane marker....)

Blue Lane Marker

Now I just need to find something on the floor to photograph (this week's challenge).

Sunday, September 07, 2008

PhotoSunday: Metal

Mozart III detail 2
Detail of the sculpture Mozart III which is installed at Wellesley College.
A couple more photos of it are here and here.

See more PhotoSunday here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tuesday Challenge: Beads

part of the chain on my glasses

See more Tuesday Challenge here.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Kayaking with RT

As most of my friends and family know I love kayaking. I like nothing better than spending hours on the water. And given the chance I will extol the joys of kayaking to anyone who will listen. My college roommate, and good friend, RT has heard much about my kayak trips and more than a year ago we started talking about getting her out on the water. She was having shoulder issues earlier this summer, but they have improved and our schedules finally aligned (despite her partner's broken arm) so this morning instead of heading out to Meeting, I picked RT up and we headed off for a kayak adventure.

For this first trip, we chose to launch from Charles River Canoe & Kayak in Newton. This site offers rentals and is on a gentle portion of the river. CRCK also has rental sites on Lake Cochituate in Natick and on the Charles in Boston. I don't recommend large lakes for a first kayaking experience because of wind induced waves and power boats, and the Charles in Boston tends to have quite a few power boats as well. The stretch of the river in Newton and Waltham is narrow enough to avoid the waves of open lakes and doesn't tend to have many power boats, so it met all the criteria for RT's first kayak paddle. We headed out early to avoid the inevitable crowds on this beautiful, sunny Sunday.

After making sure that RT was being taken care of by the rental staff I headed to the parking/duck feeding/launch area on the opposite shore. Once on the river it took me a couple minutes to find RT. I'd expected her to be hovering on or near the dock, but she had ventured out further to watch a blue heron having breakfast. I was entertained to discover that the rental staff had given her a boat that matched her hat.
RT in Kayak

We headed downriver, which is not my usual choice when doing a loop. Heading upriver first takes you under a number of roads (rt 30, on ramps for the turnpike and 128, the turnpike, and 128) so it takes a while to get to a section where you aren't listening to constant road noise. By heading downriver first we escaped the road noise fairly quickly, and the current on this stretch of the river is fairly minimal. Adding to that this morning was a stiff breeze blowing into our faces which we both decided was better to have at our backs on the way back.

We chatted as we paddled - about paddling, family, friends, and everything under the sun. Our pace was relaxed, a pleasant paddle on a gloriously beautiful day.
river view
If you look closely you'll notice, as we did, that there are signs of fall in the plants at the river's edge.

The river critters were quite active this morning. During our paddle we saw ducks, herons (3 in total), and to RT's delight swans with cygnets. We did resist the urge to sing the ugly duckling, though it was a close call.
ugly ducklings
It was a lovely trip and we will do it again sometime.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Somewhere

I have never been a regular at bars. The dark, the noise, and the smoke just are not my idea of a good time and I'm not much of a dancer, so there's no draw there. But there was a time in my life when I frequented a Boston bar. To tell the story we need to go back to the late 80s.

At the time I was on the Boston Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee. We met on Thursday nights at Boston City Hall. After meetings the women of the committee, Darryl, Janet, Carol and I would adjourn to the one lesbian bar in the city, Somewhere Else, which was conveniently located blocks away in the Financial District.

Thursday nights were not a big night at Somewhere during that time, so we were able to settle in at a table near the bar and talk without shouting. Over drinks we would debrief from the meeting, complaining about the boys, or worrying over the work still to be done. We didn't talk about the other aspects of our life - dating, family, our paid work - we stuck to talking about our shared work. I do remember Darryl talking about when she had worked in a bar, though I don't remember what bar that was or where.

Somewhere Else featured a bar area on the first floor, with a stage on the opposite wall, and tables scattered around. Bathrooms were down a narrow staircase in the basement. In the way of lesbian bars there was a men's room and a women's room - to meet code requirements - but the designations were ignored. Upstairs featured a dance floor, a second bar and a room with a pool table.

I'd been to Somewhere Else a couple of times before with my wife and other college friends. But those visits were infrequent. The bar wasn't convenient and since we weren't single we weren't looking for places to find love. There was one memorable night when shortly after Amy and I left Somewhere Else we shared a kiss while stopped at a redlight. The driver in the car behind us flashed the lights and honked the horn - letting us know they'd seen the kiss. When the light turned green they pulled into the lane next to us and passed, taking a second to take a peek at us. I happened to look over as they passed and was rewarded with the sight of jaws dropping as this hetero couple realizing that we were both women. Amy and I laughed most of the way home, and thinking about it still makes me smile.

Shortly after we bought our house I left the Pride Committee - burned out from the politics of it, busy with work and the new house, and not willing to make the drive home after those evening meetings. And not too long after Somewhere Else ceased to be. A fire that started in the bathhouse that shared the building and a lack of appropriate insurance proved to be too much for the owners.

Other bars have come and gone since then, but I've rarely visited them. In my mind when I imagine a lesbian bar it is Somewhere Else that comes to mind. And invariably I think about Darryl, Carol, and Janet. I've lost touch with all but Carol and I don't speak to her very often, but there is a warm place in my heart for each of them, the work we did together (planning a party for 40,000 - 50,000 of our closest friends), and the friendship we shared over drinks at Somewhere Else.

To read more Sunday Scribblings go here.

(I haven't participated in Sunday Scribblings in a while, though I used to be a regular.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

PhotoSharks: Temperature

Gallileo Thermometer

See more PhotoSharks here.

Thursday Challenge: Wheels

old Bicycle
Taken on the Wellesley College campus in May.

See more Thursday Challenge here.

Lensday: Alone

lone sailboat

This is evidence of the magic of composition. When I took this the river was full of sailboats. By positioning myself carefully I was able to capture this boat looking like it had the river to itself. The river really looked like this:

See more Lensday here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday Challenge: Clouds

Evening sky a couple of weeks ago.

See more Tuesday Challenge here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Macroday: Wet

blue marker
Lane marker in the pool at Wellesley College.

(Taken underwater)

(We had a great vacation, and there is much to tell. I hope to have time soon...)

See more MacroDay here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rainbow Lake

Rainbow Lake
For the next two weeks you can find me here, Rainbow Lake in New York's Adirondack Mountains. We've spent 2 weeks of each summer since 2000 here, and it's always like coming home. We'll be swimming (Actually I'll be swimming at least once a day, Amy thinks the water is too cold and will probably get in only a couple of times.), kayaking (me), reading (you should see the stacks of books we have ready to go), baking bread (me), doing puzzles (jigsaw and pencil), and generally relaxing.

I will be taking lots of pictures, but since we'll be at the edge of the grid (electricity, running water and indoor plumbing but no phone (cell or land), tv or internet) I most likely won't have an opportunity to post anything. If our hosts are willing I will post a picture a day up on my aminus site.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lensday: Flower

Platycodon (balloon flower) bud.
This will turn blue and then burst open.

A sure sign that it's time for vacation (we leave Saturday).

See more Lensday here.

Thematic Photographic: Animals

Plotting ducks (or are they geese?).
Taken last winter.

To see other animals visit Carmi's blog Written Inc.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ball Macro

The Macroday challenge this past week was ball, and I've been thinking about this shot since last Monday. As it turns out the moderator at Macroday posts the new challenge on Sunday not Monday, so I've missed the boat. This is the stitching on a softball, and yes it is a used softball.

You may notice, however, that this is a closer macro (more macro macro?) than I've posted in the past. That is because yesterday I acquired a macro lens for my camera. I'm having a lot of fun investigating it's capabilites. You can expect to see more macro shots in the future.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

See It Sunday: Apple

Apple on Tree
Taken back in October while apple-picking with my friend RT.

See more See It Sunday here.

Friday, July 04, 2008

PhotoFriday: Spiral

yellow Spiral
Playground Spiral

See more PhotoFriday here.