Sunday, August 15, 2010

Birthday Adventures

Today is Amy's birthday. We don't usually make much of a fuss about birthdays in our house. The absence of children probably has something to do with that. Most birthdays are celebrated with a card or two, a small present or two and a cake. Today was a little different. There were no cards and Amy got her present a week and half ago when we went to see Cirque du Soleil's Ovo.

Yesterday was a busy day. I spent the morning kayaking with my friend Carol. And Amy and I spent the afternoon with friends celebrating the college graduation of their son, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend Bill.

The handsome graduate.

So, we hadn't planned much for today. Amy decided she wanted to spend the day with me, and so she came along to Meeting this morning - though she chose to sit outside in the sun and read rather than participate in Worship. After rise of meeting we shared the cake I made last night with the Friends in attendance. It was once most Friends had left the Meeting House that our adventure began.

Last week our caretaker, Wendyl, had asked for me help and advise on a project she had started. The kitchen of the Meeting House has a wonderful butler's pantry. At the entrance there is a swinging door which opens into the hallway. On the wall perpendicular to that door is a second swinging door which used to open into the dining room. Many years ago that doorway was blocked off to provide space for shelving in the dining room. On the pantry side the door was left in place and toenailed into the frame so that it was no longer operable.

It was this second door which had captured Wendyl's attention. She was eager to remove the door so that shelves could be added into the space of the door frame. When she asked me to take a look last week she had managed to remove several of the nails holding the door closed, but was unable to release it. I gave it an unsuccessful try, and decided that we needed a different selection of tools to attack the problem.

Which brings us to today. I'd reported the details of the project to Amy when I arrived home last week, and she'd volunteered to help (silly girl). So we left the house this morning with crowbar and saw in hand. The crow bar made quick work of getting the door open. The goal, though was to remove the door. This proved to be much more difficult than any of us ever expected.

There are a couple of hinge configurations currently available that allow a door to swing both ways. One involves specialty hinges which are screwed into the frame and the door, like standard hinges. The other variety involves a pin that holds the top of the door and a spring mechanism that does the work that is attached to the bottom of the door. The hinge mechanism on this door was most like that. This might have been a fairly easy extraction had both sides of the doorway been accessible - but one side of this doorway is a wall, so access to the edge of the door was non-existent. Method number one was to unscrew the plates above and below the doors. That didn't work because there wasn't enough give in the door to lift in off the pins at the either the top or bottom.

Then we decided that we should chisel out around the plate that accepted the pin at the top of the door. This necessitated a trip home to pick up chisels. After the trip home (about 15 minutes round-trip) and the yummy lunch Wendyl made for us we went to work chiseling out the wood around the top plate. After this work we were able to wiggle the door more but still could no get it loose. Careful examination with a flashlight revealed that the pin was about the same thickness as my finger, and the plate included a large tab that stuck further up into the framing.

After much discussion, examination of both the top and bottom mechanisms, and much wiggling of the door we decided to go with the slightly less elegant method. We pulled out the circular saw, draped off a good portion of the room with plastic and sliced the door in the middle (side to side). Space didn't allow us to slice completely through the door, but it didn't take much separate the two halves. After cleaning up the cut on the bottom of the door, which we did outside, and some cleanup our adventure was done, for now. The pantry is used for folding table storage, so the bottom half of the door is going back into the frame with shelves above.

We did get a small surprise - a non-structural two by four in the center of the opening. I did attempt to remove it but there was not enough support for the dry wall and that attempt was abandoned.

The end result.

The top pin.

After our adventure we returned home to relax and promptly fell asleep. We both had nice, unplanned, late afternoon naps. Not exactly what we expected this morning, but a nice day anyway.

The birthday celebrations will continue - there's another cake to make (once Amy decides what flavor she wants) and the annual birthday lobster to be eaten (at one of the number of local restaurants that offer such fare).

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Rainbow Lake
Sunday morning you will find me here.

For many people vacation means a trip to the sea shore or to a theme park. For me vacation means heading to the Adirondacks - lake water to swim and boat in, a rustic cabin to relax in, family to visit with and friends to reconnect with. For the next two weeks that's where we'll be.

Check out Wakanda if you want to enjoy a little paradise.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday Lily

Blooming in the garden today. A sure sign that summer has arrived.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday in the Garden

Blooming in my garden today.


pale yellow weed
and this yellow weed which has popped up in our backyard.

Be sure to scroll down - this is post #4 tonight.


This little fellow decided to investigate our front walk yesterday.
When I took this our walk was covered in dust from the repointing that was done on the top of our chimney earlier in the day. I haven't looked but I'm pretty sure this afternoon's thunderstorms cleaned the walk off.

Thematic Photographic 102 - Geometric

This week's Thematic Photographic theme is geometric. The first thing I thought of was the circles in Kenneth Snelson's sculpture Mozart III which is installed at Wellesley College.
Here's a shot of the entire sculpture.
Mozart III

Then on the way home I was stopped next to this sign (bonus points if you can tell where this was taken) and thought it fit the theme pretty well too.
circles & square
circles in square

See more at Written Inc.

The Brownie Dilemma aka What I Do For Love


I am the baker in our house. When I make brownies there is a dilemma. Amy likes her brownies with nuts. I'm not a great fan of nuts in brownies. Last week Amy asked me to make brownies, and since they were her idea I added nuts. But I would have been much happier without them.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Our house is not air-conditioned so hot, steamy nights are not welcome. We do have two window air-conditioners built into the walls. One in the living room and the other in the master bedroom. Both of these units scream 1970. When we, in desperation, turn them on normal conversation must cease. Sleeping with the constant, drone is nearly impossible.

The weather reports Monday were calling for extreme heat starting Tuesday night. Amy suggested that perhaps we should find a hotel room for Tuesday night. Normally this is not a big deal, there are three large hotels and several other smaller lodging establishments within 5 miles of our house. This is, however, not normal times for hotels in the greater Boston area. It's graduation season which means lots of out of town relatives descending to see their beloved children, grand-children, nieces and nephews walking across a stage to receive their degrees. These out of town relatives fill our roads (a story for another day) and hotels. Normally we could also have gone a little farther afield but I had to be home early Wednesday to meet the chimney sweep.

So it was with some trepidation that I began to look for a nice cool room for us to sleep in Tuesday night. Online searches were less than successful, unless I wanted to spend a lot more money than I felt I could. As a last resort I decided to call one of the larger hotels (the one whose loyalty card I have). It was late, so late it was almost Tuesday. The clerk who answered the phone mentioned that they only had one room left for Tuesday, and asked how much I'd be willing to pay. After I named a dollar amount we chatted while he looked up some information. During this I mentioned that I was a local who didn't have air-conditioning. He was then interrupted by an arrival (he was the only one working) and took my phone number so he could call me back.

A few minutes later he called back, and after a few more standard questions announced that since our air-conditioning had died (his interpretation) he could give me the bereavement rate for the room about 50% of the normal graduation season rate. (He also fessed up that he got a bonus if the hotel was sold out.)

So after a quick stop at home after work on Tuesday, we headed off to on our mini-vacation. The room was nice and cool. And we enjoyed a movie before bed. I was up in time for a swim Wednesday morning and then it was home for me and off to work for Amy.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


The past two Sundays my First Day School class has been working on birdhouses. To prepare I cut parts. The plan is pretty simple. You can find it here. The kids loved this project - they had a wonderful sense of accomplishment from this.

Week 1 was assembly.
First step was putting the screws into the front.

doing it myself
Step 2 Glue
Step 3 Nailing on the floor, back and top.

Week 2 Painting
I don't have a lot of pictures of the painting because I was busy working with children who weren't there last week to get their birdhouses together and trying to avoid getting coated in paint. We also had a full-house today - 5 children including one who was new to our Meeting.
Here's the some of the results.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Mother!

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Thunder of peepers*
welcomes me home -
spring night.

You can read about peepers here. Be sure to scroll down to the sound files on the right.

The back story: our yard backs up to wetlands, and at this time of year the night is filled with the sound of peepers.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Orleans Day 2

We ended up being so busy in New Orleans that I didn't manage to post reports from the rest of our trip. I'm working on catching up.

At the recommendation of my college friend, Mary, we started off our second day with breakfast at Brennan's Restaurant, home of Banana's Foster, with Amy's niece Melissa. The building was originally built for Edgar Degas' great-grandfather, during the Spanish rule of New Orleans. It was yummy, though none of us tried the Banana's Foster. We highly recommend the strawberries with double cream.

French Market

After our sumptuous breakfast we headed to the French Market, and wandered through the flea market booths. An eccentric Cajun gentleman explained in more detail than we really wanted, how he crafts beautiful jewelry from scrap - making beauty from the destruction left behind by Katrina. And I added a bright pottery fish to my collection. After stopping to stock up on pralines for the folks at work, we stopped for a late morning snack of beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

From there we headed to St Louis Cathedral, stopping to admire the art displayed on the fence along the way.

St Louis Cathedral6
The outside of St Louis Cathedral.

St Louis Cathedral1
Looking down the main aisle.

St Louis Cathedral3
The organ loft.

Then we headed to Uptown to meet my college friend, Mary, at her parent's house. I'd emailed Mary for recommendations on places to eat and things to see and discovered that she was going to be in New Orleans for the weekend too. After a quick tour of her parent's house we headed off to lunch at a local bar for lunch. We spent lunch talking and laughing.

The local drink.

After lunch Melissa took us over to the Lower Ninth Ward to show us two of the oldest houses in that part of the city. Mary kept up a running travelogue on the drive pointing out the sights and offering stories about the city. There are still signs of the destruction of the hurricane throughout the city, but there are also signs of recovery in most neighborhoods. The houses we went to see are called Pilot houses and sit on opposite corners near the levee. Mary enjoyed seeing these almost as much as we did. She'd seen pictures of them before, but didn't know where in New Orleans they were.

Pilot House3
The Pilot house closest to the levee. This was taken from the top of the levee.

Pilot House6
The second Pilot house. Note the kumquat tree in the yard.

There are more pictures of the Pilot houses here.

Just a block away from the Pilot houses are these new houses. We're pretty sure these are part of Brad Pitt's efforts to rebuild New Orleans. If you click on the picture you can see what almost looks like a fourth house, but is actually a ship docked on the other side of the levee.

I'll save our first Mardi Gras parade for my next post.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

New Orleans Day 1

Today was our first full day in New Orleans. We arrived yesterday afternoon after a slightly bumpy but mostly uneventful flight. Amy's niece, Melissa, picked us up at the airport, which was great. We had a chance to meet her pups before heading to our hotel. We had dinner at Babylon Cafe, a small meditteranean restaurant - no frills but great food. On the way back to our hotel we spent quite a while sitting at an intersection while tractors pulled empty Mardi Gras floats down the street. Back at our hotel we were getting ready for bed when we heard drumming outside. We looked out the window to see what was happening to discover klieg lights illuminating the night, and a small brass band accompanied by a band of revelers following a police car down the street below our window. They got to the end of the block then turned around and walked back to where they'd started. The big fuzzy microphones at the sides of the road were clear indication that they were being filmed. The walk under our windows was repeated 4 or 5 more times.

Sorry about the quality of the photo - this was taken on a rainy night, through a window without a tripod.

Today was rainy so we headed off to indoor sights. First up the Audubon Aquarium.

Detail of the waterfall in the entry hall of the Aquarium.

We arrived at feeding time in the Caribbean Reef exhibit. This ray decided that sucking the food out of the jar was the best way to go.

sea star
To me this sea star looks like it's doing the wave.


The aquarium has a few non-aquatic critters, including this owl.

From the aquarium we walked a short distance to the Riverwalk Mall. The mall itself was uninspiring (though we were able to score a superbowl t-shirt for a co-worker). After lunch in the food court, we checked out the Southern and Beverage Museum, before heading back to the hotel.

Melissa will be joining us for our adventures tomorrow which, as long as the sun comes out, will include heading to the French Quarter for gawking, shopping and beignets. Then she's promised to take us on a short driving tour.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

See It Sunday: Italian

Gelati Sign in Boston's North End
taken January 2008

More See It Sunday here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thematic Photographic 84 - White

Lake Willoughby Store
Willoughby Lake Store
I took this last summer on the way to my cousin Matt's house.

See more White here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thematic Photographic 83 - What I Did on Vacation

toward the flow
Kayaking on Rainbow Lake, August 2010

See more here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

See It Sunday: Tower

Galen Stone Tower at Wellesley College
taken this morning

See more See It Sunday here.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Two for Tuesday: Road-River

road & river
Looking across the Charles River toward Boston from Memorial Drive.

More Two for Tuesday here.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

PhotoSunday: Round

white shroom2
Macro of mushroom found at Wakanda in the Adirondacks July 2008.

See more PhotoSunday here.