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Boston And… Beyond! November 7, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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I had a chance to get to Boston today to visit my younger daughter Ursula, who is in her last year at Boston University.

She’s a sweetie, and I enjoyed her company immensely as we drove around Boston on our way to a nice Indian lunch.  I’m not a “city guy,” but I absolutely love Boston, as does Ursi – it’s a relatively intimate mix of the Very Old and the Very New:

Tree-lined boulevards surround an array of sky-scrapers, making walk-abouts feel cozy, while an abundance of waterways soften and enliven a cityscape punctuated by copper-trimmed tenements and brownstones:

Ursi would be happy to live there after college, and her ongoing gig at the Boston Globe seems like a pretty good foot in the door.

Our lunch was scrumptious and surprisingly affordable for city fare – $16 for the two of us, with take-home to boot!  Ursi was pleased:

It all ended too soon, as Ursi had schoolwork to dive into, and I had designs on photographing the coast before the sun got too far gone.

After dropping her back at her apartment I headed north, more or less.  But there are virtually no straight streets in Boston, and as I should have learned from many other such seat-of-the-pants navigational extravaganzas, “more or less” is a low-percentage move in Beantown, invariably devolving into a tour of curving cowpaths and (I kid you not) one-way cul-de-sacs.

Don’t ask.  Even if I could explain, it wouldn’t help.

Eventually I found my way to Rte. 93 North, then 95 East to Gloucester on the North Shore.  I’d hoped to get there in time to scope out the harbor for photo ops and find some lovely patch of publicly accessible and quintessentially rocky Atlantic coastline, but by the time I finally spied the ocean it was nearly five thirty, when the happy coincidence of low tide and sunset was slated.

I asked a gentleman walking his dogs if there was a legal place to access the shore (it’s largely private, and wandering through the grounds of these old-money mansions is looked upon unkindly.)  To my relief he pointed me to a spot “just around the corner,” two lefts and park on the right.  Simple enough, I thought, thanking him and heading off.

Ten minutes later I hadn’t seen the side-street he’d named, and took a chance on a turn which looked only vaguely promising, and came upon a secluded beach from which the last stalwart souls were just departing.

I jumped out nearly at a roll, doffed my jeans and slipped into a pair of hip waders, then grabbed my camera bags and literally ran down into the briny shallows, mentally calculating swing angles as I plopped Elliot down in the soft mud of low tide.  I muttered something uncivil about the low light as I fought with the finicky focus of the tilt-shift world, then escalated to genuine obscenities as my camera battery went dead.  Fortunately I had a spare in my pack and, casting caution aside, I threw the whole bag down in the draining sand and rummaged frantically through it, scoring and making the switch with speed engendered by desperation.

Then, with the light rapidly fading, I got a few quick shots off, hoping without conviction that the focus would be fair and that my hand-holding of up to three graduated filters at a time would produce the fabled Desired Result.

I was pleasantly surprised with my haul, which isn’t as crisp as it might have been with more time, but it is what it is.

Low Tide under a Black Sky:

I got some sky color reflected in the sand by ditching the polarizer at the last minute.

The wind was picking up and the waves seemed to be intensifying as a patch of clouds burst into Heavenly hues of pink:

Over my shoulder a light show was developing behind a spit of pink granite; I grabbed everything and dashed farther down the beach to catch it:

It was intense but brief, fading in minutes to mere placid loveliness:

Then it was just about light enough to pack up and head home, hoping I’d have something to show for it.

I’m not displeased, considering the rush-job and frantic antics of the evening.

And so ended a great day of friendship and photography, two of my favorite things!

Back To Boston. January 4, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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I took Ultimate Spawn, a.k.a. SG2 for those of you who know me through The Pagan Sphinx, back to Boston on Saturday, through a bit of a snowstorm.  We went suddenly, in pursuit of an internship which brought complication along with it’s possibilities, a paid position at the Boston Globe, not to be scoffed at by a Journalism major.

But the logistics are sticky, the ramifications of this sudden change of course are myriad, and there’s nobody at BU over break to answer some of the more detailed questions about housing for students not taking classes, financial aid and so on.

Here’s wishing her luck and a gift of intuition as this unfolds.

The Spawn Are Gawn January 24, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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This week, both of My Little Passion Fruit went back off to college.

Ultimate Spawn once again left These Here Hills for the high-rise hustle and bustle of BU. Talk about “culture shock!”

That ride was courtesy of her Mom, who hates driving in Boston (and yes, it is the craziest place in The States to drive,) because I was not available.

Thanks, Mom.

I’m personally just wacked enough to consider the Brownian movement of the Beantown Bumper Fest a hoot.

To be fair, it’s not that Bostonians drive like Italians (though some do) or that they exhibit the road-rage of LA (though some have,) or even that it’s a lawless free-for-all. On the whole, I’d say Bostonians drive as civilly as most American urbanites, with an equal measure of harried, hurried Me-First-ism, tail-gaiting and Orange Light Phenomenon.

The “problem” is the “roads.” They were laid out four centuries ago.

By white-tailed-deer.

Picture 4.4 million body lice trying to navigate a cubic yard of dry Ramen Noodles (sorry Kids, No Leaping Allowed!) Now give them all cell phones, and you begin to get the picture.

Quincey (a “suburb”) is the only place on Earth where I was ever trapped in a one-way cul-de-sac. Seriously.

Oh, and if you need to get east of where you’re at, go ahead and turn east. I predict you’ll be watching the sunset through your windshield before you hit the next intersection.

Ah, Boston! Red Sox, white knuckles and “blue” politics.

But that’s not what I want to write about today.

Today’s subject is Mount Holyoke College, to which I returned Elder Progeny yesterday.

“MoHome,” as the young ladies who go there affectionately refer to it, is the oldest Women’s College in the Country. Founded in 1837 by the brilliant and visionary Mary Lyon, Mount Holyoke was the first all-women’s college in the U.S., and the first of the Seven Sisters, the female equivalent of the then-male Ivy League (MoHome’s “brother school” is Dartmouth.)

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What an amazing place! With students from 70 countries and enough American “minorities” among its 2100 students to claim a 30% “diversity rate,” the place is The World in a nutshell.

The greatest commonality among Mount Holyoke’s students is that they’re: a) brilliant, and b) pretty well off. In fact, unlike a lot of other $45,000/year schools (think: Yale,) one is unlikely to get in on the strength of, say, Daddy’s Governorship.

E.P. is, however, a “minority.” She is (or rather, “We are”) Financially Challenged. Despite having the best package of financial aid anyone she knows has ever heard of, the “small” balance challenges us, with her Mom and I maxing out on loans, E.P. amassing a mountain of Under-graduate debt, and a younger sister deserving our equal support.

Anyway, dropping Elder Progeny off yesterday was a trip, meandering among the mostly brown-stone buildings in castle-like edifices.

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E.P. scored a “single” on the third floor of this cool building:

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…and after dropping her off at the door (XYs Need Not Apply) I headed around to the sunny side of the building (her suggestion) for a photo.

And while I was backed into the bushes taking pictures of this gurrrls’ dormatory, a pair of undergrads walked by, their casual stroll suddenly transforming into a shifty-eyed hustle.

I stood up ( I was kneeling) and looked down.

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Flannel shirt, torn down vest, faded jeans, and a pair of knee-high rubber boots, like I should have been shoveling out the barn or something. And two days’ stubble. Hey, I’m unemployed!

I packed it up and split before the sirens came even close. 😉