It’s Friday morning September 14th 2001. The terrible and tragic events and images of three days earlier, September 11th, are freshly burned into our national psyche, and at once, an outpouring of disbelief, horror, and grief galvanize into a desire to help, to do something, anything to show each other and all the world that we still stand united. That Friday morning, I’m chatting in an online forum with others and like almost all online venues at the time, the discussion was about september 11th – what had happened, what we experienced, how we found out, where were we at the time, what would come next…  And at that time, one of the other members of the forum said she was participating in a nationwide candlelight vigil that night in memory of those lost. I thought, there’s something I can do, even in a symbolic way. It may not bring comfort to those people who were directly impacted by the events of 9/11, but in it’s own way, it can bring comfort to neighbors and passers by, comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our grief and dismay, but rather we are all as one, in this together for the greater good.

Together we stand, divided we fall…

An American flag illuminated from below by candles hangs from the lower branches of an ancient chestnut tree.

9/11 vigil

The lights of passing cars trail across this image of the 9/11 national candlelight vigil

Scenes like this across the country offer a sense of peace and serenity in contrast to the graphic media images and accounts of the horrifying events of 9/11/2001

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We hadn’t gone to the Marshfield Fair in years (over a decade I’m certain) as Sue and I had grown weary of hauling our burgeoning load of young children through the carny scene.   So when we were trying to decide what to do this past Saturday afternoon and Jessica suggested that the Fair was in town, we agreed to pack up our now mostly teen-and-older-no-longer-needing-to-be-hauled kids and go.  Turns out, it was cleaner, better organized and less stressful than I remember, or maybe this was just the difference between being independently mobile compared to the days of packing multiple strollers and diaper bags and all the acoutrements of young familyhood.  What’s more, either the fair just isn’t as popular as in years past, or we got lucky and went on a day when much of the rest of the local population decided to go elsewhere, the result being that there were no dense crowds or long lines to speak of.  And finally, we were delighted to find that Fiesta Shows, although still offering all of the old classic rides like the zipper, flying bobs, and swing-ride, had updated their repertoire with some truly impressive high-tech additions.  Even the drive down rte 3 to Marshfield wasn’t bad and making the quick loop around the high school to come into the fairgrounds on 3a from the north proved to be traffic-free.  We parked in the lot that supports the Marshfield School Music Boosters (of course!) and headed into the fairgrounds, lead by our noses  to the tantalizing aromas of Fair food.

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Jess, Jelisha and Jay pose with the french fry bucket pirate.

bump bump baby

Yours truly taking a spin on the bumpers with Jay. Photo by Jess.

grandstand seats for the truck pull

The fam has the best seats in the old-school wooden grandstands for an all-american event - the truck pull.

big bright and fun

Jules and Hayley took a spin on this colorfully lit piece of high-tech machinery.

panoramic view of Freak Out ride

Jules and Hayley took a ride on Freak Out, unquestionably the most popular ride in the midway featuring thumping dubstep music including fam-favorite Skrillex. While waiting in line, Jules and Hayley had to make way for the exit of Aerosmith Rocker Steven Tyler who went on the ride before them.

mona lisa smile

Jess notices the camera pointed her way and flashes a Mona Lisa.

keep on shuffling...

Anonymous turtle-shell backpacker spotted on the midway disappoints all by failing to shuffle.

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An heirloom Bearded Iris blooms against the driveway fence

Here are a few blooms and a little furry visitor from the spring garden this year.  I forgot I had taken these pictures and dicovered them while uploading photos from a recent trip to Cape Cod.
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White and yellow bog iris reflects early morning sunlight to create a halo effect in this photo.

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Self sown flowers spring up throughout the long driveway border. I can no longer recall all the names, but beauty speaks for itself.

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White bearded iris as frilly and pretty as a young girl's party dress.

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Creeping sedum blooms yellow in the nooks and crannies of the front steps. Notice the furry little visitor to the left of the steps who popped in for the photo shoot.

photo of eastern chipmunk, Tamias striatus

How could I possibly resist getting a couple shots of this furry little chipmunk when he practically invited himself to the party?

After a fruitless morning of surfcasting the outer cape beaches, James finally lands a Marconi Beach prize bluefish. Here he shows off the roughly 15 lb fish before returning it to the surf to live another day.

7/28/2011, Marconi Beach, Wellfleet, MA – You shoulda seen it, the blitz coming down the beach was like an approaching storm except on closer inspection it could be seen that massive silvery fish bodies were hurtling, teeth first, out of the wildly boiling water and crazy-hungry seabirds were plummeting into the surf to greedily devour baitfish trapped between the madding school below and the circling kamikaze squad above. Suddenly the lifeguards started whistling everyone out of the water.

James, who’s been observing the approach of the frenzied school since he first spotted a few birds on the horizon says “it’s time!” and starts casting out his bright pink bluefish bomber, landing it 200-300 feet offshore and into the wild melee. In the span of two or three casts, he takes repeated hits on the bomber (that scar it for life we later observe) but the bomber’s large single hook isn’t doing the trick and while he has several close calls, he fails to hook up. I see him running up the beach for the tackle box, “gotta get a treble on!” he yells. I’m hoping the blitz doesn’t pass by while he’s switching up tackle. I’ve already decided to stick it out with my chunk mackerel glued to the bottom about 150 feet out. But in that instant I feel the school passing over my line like a buzzsaw and I’m left with nothing but a bare hook.

Meanwhile, James deftly unclips the bomber from his snap swivel and attaches his favorite “old faithful,” a solid metal tin with chipped blue and silver reflective finish and whips it out into the surf. It barely hits the water when his rod curves over into the classic C-shape and he bellows out “FISH ON!” (thanks Dan Smith for instilling that habit in my kids). Once, twice, three times, I see him pull back hard on the rod, just makin’ sure the hook is set good he’d say. 😛

Then the fight begins in earnest as the big fish lunges seaward, stripping 40 Lb braid off of James’ buzzing reel like a giant sewing machine whipping through a fresh spool of thread. James backs up the beach a bit and pulls back on his rod to gain a few feet of line then quickly reels it forward and repeats a few times before the fish, with renewed vigor, turns tail, and strips off another 20 or 30 feet of line!

As this is taking place, a crowd of onlookers, mostly people who were in the water a few minutes ago until evicted by the guards, has begun to gather around him, talking excitedly among themselves about what might be on the other end of the line, and how big it may be.  He continues the give and take with his quarry as the crowd grows thick on the beach, many people cutting through the now 3-4 person deep arc of onlookers to snap pictures of James’ epic battle. Suddenly there’s a silvery splash just offshore. “I see it!” yells somebody and the whole crowd gasps as they’re treated to a perfect view of the giant fish gunning sideways through the crystal-clear water of the nearest swell, still battling fiercely to get back out to the deep water. Then in a moment, James hauls the flopping fish up onto the wet sand and the crowd erupts into spontaneous applause as a few veteran fishermen, warning kids to keep fingers and toes back from the toothsome critter, step out of the crowd to assist with subduing the heaving fish, holding it down so I can unhook the lure without losing any fingers in the process.

And as quickly as it started, it’s all over.  The blitzing fish have continued northward along the beachhead towards Lecount’s Hollow, and the crowd has dissipated, returning to their towels and umbrellas and the water with a few curious onlookers hanging around long enough to ask James if he plans to keep it. In response, James poses for a few shots with his prize then releases the magnificent beast back into the surf from whence it came.

Jessica's Sweet Sixteen

Nothing beats home made butter cream frosting...

16 Candles

Oh the thrill of anticipation!

You just can’t say no to a nice thick slice of moist cake with creamy dreamy frosting. I went back through my past decade’s photos and was a bit surprised (shocked even) at how infrequently my camera has made it to the table at my kids’ birthday parties. Nevertheless, I did manage to capture a handful of sweet cakeshots 🙂

I often find myself, camera in hand, glued to the front of my fish tank.  Can never get enough of the constantly changing interplay of color set against that lush green background.  I find the real challenge when shooting the fish tank is getting enough light to capture the constantly moving fish without blurring.  This despite the fact that the tank itself is equipped with four 4′ florescent high-output lamps, half full-spectrum, and half actinic-daylight.  As it turns out though, despite all those lumens, the best shots ultimately come when the fish pause momentarily, and in that same moment I get lucky enough to be pulling the trigger.  What does this mean?  It means that to get pics like the ones below, typically takes me 20-30 shots while I wait for that lucky pause 😉
nom! nom! nom!

Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus) gnawing on aged White Pine driftwood (yummy!) in my 70 gallon planted tank

Glowlight Tetra (Hemigrammus erythrozonus) in my 70 Gallon planted tank
killifish

An unknown species of Killifish (unknown to me that is, not unknown in the scientific sense) in my 70 gallon planted tank. This is one of several "surprises" that Justin picked up at a Boston Aquarium Society auction and sneaked into my tank during the night...

Dropping your mobile phone in the fish tank is never a good thing.

An overall view of my 70 gallon planted tank. You can see a little bit about how the tank is custom built right into shelving in the livingroom so it's a little more like part of the house and a little less like an elephant in the room.

70 gallon at the surface

For a while, I kept Salvinia, a floating surface plant like duckweed on steroids. Was beautiful to see, and from below was practically mystical, but in the end, I had to hog it out as it spread so fast and so thick, it blocked much of the overhead light which impacted the rest of the submersed plants.

Rummies!

One of my all-time favorite fish (notice I said "one of", it's really not possible to pick just one!). Here a small school of Rummynose Tetras (Hemigrammus rhodostomus) hovers in front of a giant Crypto in my 70 gallon planted tank.

 

My choice of subject for 2009? You guessed it, the “usual”.  I can never get enough of lighthouses, and Minot is no exception.  I went with a photo that I shot from mid-Sandy beach at low tide in early spring.  My square (sponsored by Geek Housecalls) was on some side street with a pretty coarse surface, so not nearly as finger-friendly as last year’s smooth concrete  ice-rink surface.  On the other hand, the coarser surface worked really well at the finish when I was working in the salt spray and was able to accomplish it easily by skimming the pebbly surface.  Below is a sequence of photos showing the progression of the artwork:

First things first, a grid on the ground helps with transfer from the original image

with the basic layout in place, you get an idea of how coarse the sidewalk is as a media. All the chalk lines will be blurred and blended. Some use paintbrushes or sponges. I prefer the fingertips although it is a little hard on the prints...

You can see how it starts to come together as the colors are blended. Soon it becomes difficult to see just how coarse the surface is.

With the bulk of the lighthouse itself complete, it's time to focus on the rocks and foreground ocean.

Midway through. Took a break and walked around with James, Jay, and Jules to check out other artwork

Foreground rocks and water in place, time to move on to details

tweaking the sky, adding more seagulls, and spray on the rocks...

As the sun dips low in the afternoon sky, the finished artwork is dappled. How long did it take? About 6 hours. How long will it last? Only until the next rain...

The artist's signature...