Dick and Jill
011030; last updated 051225.
Abe, on TV "State of Maine":
23rd, 2005: Jill and I visit
my nephew, Abe McKenney, who in turn is visiting the Port of Boston's
AutoPort in Charlestown on his first-year cruise on Maine Maritime
Academy's Training Vessel, the
"State of Maine". Abe is a few
ending his almost-two-month
to the Caribbean, Quebec City, and more.
He says he's doing well, and loving it.
Left: That's Abe on the
Abe "showing the
Abe follows in the footsteps
of his brother
Ben, who graduated from MMA and, in 2005, has been bringing his new deep-water
drill rig from its shipyard in
Singapore to its working
the Gulf of Mexico.
8th, 2005: With friends Jay
and Ricky Ball, we joined Newton Dialogues on Peace and War at one of many
celebrations of activist and folk-singer Pete Seeger's 86th birthday.
We had a great time.
The four of us are old friends with Peggy Seeger, who will be
her Big 70 with a concert and party in London later this month. We'll
send along these photos for Pete!
(The photo of Pete Seeger, featured at this party and in some of my
photos here, was taken by Ellen Shub in Boston Symphony Hall in
December 1984, "In
England Folk Festival
8th-10th, 2005: NEFFA
returns to Natick
High School, and so
do we. This
event has been occuring annually since 1944.
now, it's been held at Natick High.
and run by volunteers. Like us; Jill posted highway direction signs,
and I ran sound systems in music rooms. So many thousands attend (from
all over the northeastern U.S. and beyond) that parking space for cars
soon runs out. TJX
kindly donates parking
facilities at its
headquarters near the Massachusetts Turnpike, and a free shuttle bus service
stays busy all weekend. Some smart people come by bike.
At the school, there's plenty
going on in the front
sessions, people sunning themselves, and a steady parade of rapper
groups -- English Morris Dancers.
And inside, of course, much more. Dancing, singing, story-telling,
running in ten different areas
Plus crafts sales and exhibits,
international foods in the cafeteria, music sales and musical jamming
in the halls. For three days, always something new around every corner!
In the first photo below, Jill is examining the hundreds
of fliers announcing other folk activities to come. (It's morning; by
evening, these halls are full of people!) Center, one of of the
music-sales booths. And, below right, she
examines marvelous hand-puppets
at a stuffed-toy
and makes friends with a toothy golden
dragon. (In the large picture above, you can see where it bit her just
under her mouth. Okay, I'm kidding; the bruise is from a parrot bite a
few days before, but that's another story.)
Performing artists -- all donating their talents to this volunteer
event -- include old hands like the New New Orleans Jazz Band, and
rising young stars like Canadian fiddler Katie Avery. There's
lots of singing along. When one Latin-American music group played
"La Bamba", the audience made a conga line and weaved in front of the
stage (below right).
is one jam session, typical of dozens that form and re-form in the
throughout the weekend.
visited a few of the dance performances in the auditorium,
too. Shooting with a telephoto in reduced light blurred my pics, but
they're still interesting. Most of my dance photos are of children's
girls dancing with large
hopping nimbly between long sticks that
One photo of a Ukrainian
is followed by two of its adult division.
Some of the Chinese boys
surprised and delighted the audience with a dance featuring Chinese
yo-yos: dumbbell-shaped, and
whirling quickly or slowly along
manipulated with two wands. They soon were flying high in the air, back
and forth between performers, one trick after another!
Performances, sing-alongs, crafts,
it's all fun. But it's hard to beat hundreds of people contra-dancing
video, a 1.8MB
.avi file) and
square-dancing to the beat of a live country orchestra!
This series ends with proof that NEFFA is exhausting.
But it's worth it.
We can hardly wait for NEFFA
Migration to a Vernal Pool:
2nd, 2005: Late yesterday,
Jill and I received one of our personal signs of Spring: on our Middle
Pond of Lake Cochituate, Ice-Out!
It arrived just one day later than the traditional day for ice-out
here, April 1st. We moved to the lake in 1968, and the next year it was
exactly on April 1st. That, and a date of January 1st for a
ice cover) continued for nearly ten years. But then the ice cover
started later and ended earlier, sometimes by a month or more. Our
guess is that this April 2nd ice-out is due to an unusually-cold
spring, and not a re-establishment of that remembered pattern. But for
us, Spring has sprung! (And our clocks spring forward this morning,
Daylight Saving Time. Coincidence, you say??)
This year we witnessed another, simultaneous celebration of Spring.
Weeks earlier, we visited Eastern
Mountain Sports in Natick for a good slide
lecture by Michele
Conservation Administrator --
and we signed up for the Framingham Conservation Commission's "Big
Night". That's the big night for the little amphibians that inhabit our
pools (temporary spring ponds that dry up by summertime). Friday,
EMS phoned to say, "Tomorrow's the night!"
Frogs and salamanders had been scattered about the dry, then
snow-covered, terrain uphill of last year's vernal pools, waiting out
the seasons until their big night. Now the awaited
weather (raining at night, temperature above
40 degrees Fahrenheit) called to them. Once again they
were on the march,
drawn back to the magically reformed pond which will be their habitat
for creating a new generation of their kind.
We were on the march, too, some fifty kids and adults who car-pooled to
a limited-parking area near the wonderful Garden In The
road is closed to cars during these important migration nights, but Michele Grzenda
was our special
admission to this off-limits place. First, she taught us how to walk
ever so slowly with flashlights, and warned of various dangers we
posed to the little critters -- from stepping on them, to touching them
with our dry skin. Then we started up the road into the dark woods. The woods were
quiet, except for the
distant trilling of spring peeper frogs
and the occasional rustle of trees in a breeze. Soon we were
spotting a few
six-to-eight-inch salamanders with bright yellow spots. Then, a
half-dollar-sized wood frog with
his easy-to-spot black eye-mask. And, smaller than your little
fingernail, a tiny
spring peeper. More of each appeared, and small groups of us took turns
ooh-ing and aah-ing over each. We even saw two blue-spotted salamanders
- a relative rarity, sadly now on
endangered species list for
Along the road, the amphibians were few and, for the most part, far
between. But then, in careful groups of ten, we picked our way down a
path to the dark, calm and clear vernal pool which is their goal. Our
flashlights soon picked out a salamander moving along the bottom. Then
more. And suddenly, a flashlight beam illuminated a virtual orgy of
yellow-spotted salamanders, perhaps fifty of them, tightly packed and
with some twisting and twirling their way up to the surface and back!
live, within these parallel worlds we share! What a pleasure, to learn
a little more.
my night-time, tiny-flash
photos into that exciting vernal pool had succeeded. But these are the
best I managed: a fairly good Yellow-Spotted
maculatum), a poor
photo of a (pale, anyway) Blue-Spotted
laterale), and a Wood
sylvatica; note its
eye-mask). I've added links to
more information on these, and the Spring
With the lure of a great Presidents Day (week) car deal, we trade our
good old 1996 Ford Escort LX Wagon for a good new 2005 Ford Focus ZXW
SE Wagon. After a night of snow, the difference wasn't obvious. But the
17th, 2005: Immediately
following our return from Florida, we catch the tail end of the
three-day Linux conference and exposition at Hynes Auditorium, Boston.
It's BIG, and big companies are joining the smaller ones to strut their
Linux-flavored stuff! We welcome this event as a very significant step
toward corporate acceptance of Linux in the workplace. In the last
photo, Dick poses with MEPIS.org principal Warren Woodward and
associate Miladus Edenensis who have been previewing SimplyMEPIS Linux
Snow-break! Dick's brother Bob and wife Sandy are wintering in a roomy
house in central Florida, just west of Orlando and Disney World. "Come
on down, it's a sunny 80 degrees today!" Here in Natick, it's cold and
it's snowing. Southwest Airlines sweetens the deal with $49 seats to
Orlando, and we're packing!
An early-morning drive to Providence - in the rain. We like that rain;
a major snowstorm had been predicted. By take-off time, the rain has
stopped. We're in a posh new 737, on the P.O.S.H. side for its coastal
view. The SW Air stewardess announces, "It's a Boeing, and we're
going!", and we're airborne. In a minute we're in the clouds, then o'er
top, and we have a cotton view instead of a coastal view for the first
half of our trip. We see plenty of coast later, and are struck by how
very many homes now populate the barrier beaches along the Atlantic
Ocean. Hurricane Alley is crowded.
little before landing, as our
jet is slowly and quietly descending, I take this center photo. Note how the
older communities are
tightly packed, while the newer ones have expensive homes clustered
around newly-excavated ponds. Ever-decreasing orange groves, cattle
pastures and cypress swamps await the next building projects.
later, we analyze this air photo and find that I took it just south
of Daytona Beach - where some of our fellow travellers were
to catch the qualifying races for the Daytona 500 race-car spectacular.
(not the shopping-mall sort) can
air photo, and then open this map
of the same area in another
window or tab. The photo is
east-southeast. Its foreground (lower right) is toward the upper left in
the north-oriented map; note the "S-shape" crossing of Rte.
4009/Williamson Blvd. over Rte. 95, and the highway exit at Rte.
421/Dunlawton Ave., in South Daytona.
The causeway over the Halifax River at the photo's top left (Rte.
421/Dunlawton Ave. at Port Orange Causeway Park) is at the upper right
of the map.
The Atlantic inlet at the top right of the photo is New Smyrna Beach
Inlet, toward the lower right of the map.]
Orlando's busy main airport has added separate, parallel facilities
connected by this monorail, which carried us to the main terminal where
our hosts greeted us.
Bob and Sandy have spent winter vacations in that region for several
years, and are good guides. They'd come from near Albany, New York in a
small car brimming with one small dog
(Bella, a miniature poodle retired from her
show days), one
very large dog (Maggie, a seven-month-old great dane puppy), and a
large and loquacious parrot named Jezebel.
After unpacking at their shiny-new home away from home, the four of us
walked their dogs - our first tour of a new Florida development. Their
street looked real if empty. Soon we were in a street of
almost-completed houses, then frames, foundations, lots of construction
workers pounding and lifting and bulldozing away, and - white sand
marked for house lots, many already marked "Sold!". Between two of the
framed houses-to-be, we found an already-lawned new pond and, across
the pond, a trail into "unimproved" woods. The trail was long, through
a cypress swamp to the construction turmoil at the edge of a
neighboring development. A taste of what had been, before it too
becomes new streets.
[More photos will replace the
final ones above, along with
hadn't visited Florida
since I was an aerospace
engineering-physicist visiting the Kennedy Space Center (on Cape
Canaveral, before it was renamed Cape Kennedy) and
Fort Lauderdale in the mid-1960s. Jill hadn't been to Florida
since she was an infant. Florida hasn't changed; it's just
filled in. The swamps, that is! They bulldoze them flat with the local
sand, cover them with pond-bottom muck and turf, reshape plenty of
shallow round ponds
(and, in upscale developments, more imaginative canals, islands, etc.),
install "Don't feed the alligators" signs,
and then add roads
These new developments look nice, but they start devoid of community
and many will stay that way. It
doesn't matter. People crowd down for winter warmth, and to share in a
economy which creates home values that start high and appreciate
20-30% per year! People buy the houses as investments, even if they
won't be using them. It's a never-never land of the best developments
and the worst, but developments are everywhere.
at Hamlen Woods:
After the storm, some fun. On a lovely afternoon, Jill and I visit the
nearby Hamlen Woods
conservation area in Wayland. Behind Jill, Rice Pond. Two boards upon
cold powder snow, yo ho! Notice the warm red glow from under our
"atomic-powered skis". That never ceases to amaze
the kids - until we show them the bottoms of our skis: white, with
bold lettering in day-glo orange.
The blizzard started Saturday afternoon; by mid-afternoon Sunday,
received nearly two feet of snow. Our driveway, tall-walled
(particularly back from the street) and with a parked car, is always a
challenge to shovel, but we eventually cleared the cold
powder snow. No
power failure. We stayed warm, enjoyed good food, a quiet day, and a
very good night's sleep after all that shoveling!
Jim Gerow invites us to use a friend's spare tickets, and drives us in!
What a great evening: Seats front row center in the 2nd balcony, Sir
James Galway on flute, and good and expert company!
Hall was designed about
1900 by Harvard physics professor Wallace
Clement Sabine, the man who
invented acoustics. It is
one of the top three concert
halls in the world. The only composer named in its acoustically-styled
decor is Beethoven - on the shield in the center of the proscenium,
high above the stage.
now for a little levity (so to speak):
Later, the same Sabine worked in Geneva, Illinois...
...with THIS wealthy eccentric, to build an working model of Francis
Bacon's marvelous acoustic levitation machine. It didn't work; but if
it had, everybody would have wanted one! Curiously, that was not a
wasted effort; it did a reverse lateral arabesque into modern
New Year's Day walk in Boston:
New Year's Day: We
join the annual American
Association's New Year's Day walk in downtown Boston,
Massachusetts. Good idea! Sixty
showed up, a small
and the weather was crisp and clear. These
walks are all 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) in length, and tend to be in
town rather than in the woods. Some are scheduled, like this one;
others can be done anytime on your own, using nice trail instructions.