Around here…

As I was transferring photos from my camera to my computer, I discovered that I didn’t take a single picture in September. That’s probably an indication that I spent too much time at work in September. Or too much time running. Or possibly both.

A few photos from October…

Berkshires

Hiking in the Berkshires

Head of the Charles

On the eve of The Head of the Charles

maine lighthouse

Portland Head Light

Eventide Portland

Lunch at Eventide in Portland…It was like being back in LA…

Oysters at Eventide Portland

…with the addition of lots of Maine oysters

Boston at night Full moon over Boston.

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The last days of summer

Talk to me in October, right around progress note/report card/back to back Parent Nights/is it Thanksgiving yet? time, and I’ll give you 101 reasons why teachers, school therapists, and all school personnel are the most under-appreciated, underpaid, and overworked employees you’ll ever find anywhere.  But right now, after a full three weeks off, I don’t have much to complain about.
Here are a few photos from the last days of summer.

P1010681Afternoons at the Esplanade

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Getting cultured at the MFAP1010675

P1010707Discovering a great restaurant in Inman: Puritan & Co

P1010811Evenings in the park

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Where we met the local raccoon (look closely)P1010807And ate yummy summer food

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Worth a visit: The MIT Museum

What to do when your day off work is rainy? Head to a museum!MIT Museum But first I swung by the Central Square library to pick up a museum pass for the MIT Museum. Somehow the library has funding to allow patrons to check out museum passes, which is a pretty awesome library perk.
MIT Museum The first exhibit was on artificial intelligence, which is just not that interesting to me, so I started out feeling especially happy that I didn’t pay $10 to get in.

Then I got to the Gestural Engineering exhibit by Arthur Ganson.
MIT Museum

It’s hard to explain what gestural engineering is, so think art + engineering = quirky moving objects that are mesmerizing to watch.

This picture looks pretty dull, but the beads were coming out of the faucet at a speed that was almost hypnotizing. Video wasn’t allowed so you’ll have to take my word for it, or go visit the museum and see for yourself.

MIT Museum - Arthur Ganson

Since taking video was not allowed, here’s my attempt to show how interesting the pieces were. Look at the next three pictures quickly and you’ll get an idea of how the objects moved.

MIT Museum - Arthur Ganson

MIT Museum - Arthur Ganson

MIT Museum - Arthur Ganson

Next up were the special exhibits. Both of the special exhibits that are currently running were outstanding.

The Kurtz Gallery for Photography has an exhibit called Compass Points by Joel Tettamanti. His photos focus on the impact of human settlement on the landscape. It doesn’t sound all that exciting, but the photos were stunning. I didn’t take any pictures (because I think it’s weird to take pictures of a photographer’s photos…), but you can click here to see my favorite photo.

The other special exhibit that is currently running is called Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things.

This exhibit artistically displays common objects, like teabags, and shares the history and design process of each one. Many have been unchanged for decades, because the original engineering can’t be improved.MIT Museum - Hidden Heroes

And of course the MIT Museum has to have a couple of these things….no science museum would be complete without them.MIT Museum

MIT Museum

All in all, it was an enjoyable way to spend a rainy afternoon in Cambridge.

Spring is in the air

I’m enjoying every minute of living in a place with four seasons and I just can’t get enough of all of the flowers that are blooming. My snapshots don’t fully show how beautiful springtime is in Boston, but hopefully you will get the idea…

Some early flowers popping through around Easter.

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More early flowers at Arnold Arboretum.

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Tulips at dusk in the Boston Public GardenP1010181

An bright spring day on Commonwealth.

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An afternoon in the park.

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Daffodils along the Charles.

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Spring has sprung…

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…with a blossom tunnel along the Charles.

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And a walk around the neighborhood.

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Snow Day!

I was a little crabby this morning about having another snow day, but I really can’t complain about having a long weekend and I’ll still have two entire months off this summer 🙂

The real lesson I learned was to put my phone on silent (not vibrate!) if I think there is even a chance of a snow day, to avoid being rudely awoken at 5:00 am. Lack of sleep and hunger are really the only two things that make me crabby 🙂

It’s a winter wonderland outside.

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One casualty of the storm. I guess on the bright side, at least the light is still working.

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The second casualty of the storm was my camera when I dropped it in the slush while crossing a street. It wouldn’t turn on after that, otherwise I would have more photos to share 😦 At least I was able to get the photos off of the memory card. I’m sure as soon as it all dries out, it will be up and running again.

Hello there, Nemo

Another snow day today. At this rate I’m going to be working all summer 😦

But we did enjoy our blizzard weekend.

Here’s the progression of Nemo as seen from our window:

Our snowman waiting for the snow to begin.

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And the snow begins…

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Our neighbor shows up with his snowplow.

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Still not much happening outside, but we’re enjoying our hot chocolate inside.

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One hour later…not much has changed.

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Now it’s starting to stick.

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Last photo before it got dark.

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Saturday morning.

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Our neighbors get out their snowshoes.

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And our other neighbor got to work.

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Hey, what’s all that white stuff?

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Starts looking better after lots of digging.

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Some outside photos:

The big dig out begins.

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I know my car is under there somewhere.

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A walk through the park and down to the river.

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This guy had the right idea.

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On Sunday the skies were blue and we took to the streets. As in, we used the streets as our sidewalk.

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Looks like some people still have some digging to do.

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Nothing can keep us from brunch at Cafe Luna.

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But all of the outside seats were taken.

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Now the weekend is over and it’s back to reality. A snowy, slushy, trafficy mess while giving my husband a ride to school this morning.

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The past few weeks…

Between writing all of my students’ progress reports, an ear infection, and a cold, it’s been pretty quiet around here lately. Nothing too exciting to report on, but we did survive a hurricane and our first snow of the season 🙂

Here’s an owl from a few weeks ago (you can tell this photo is old by the number of leaves in the tree). There was a crowd gathered in the park to admire this owl and no one seemed concerned that an owl was out during the day, so I snapped a picture and carried on.

Then Hurricane Sandy came and knocked most of the leaves out of the trees. We were lucky. We didn’t lose power and there was very little damage in Cambridge. Just a few tree branches down here and there.

A few signs, too.

A chair got swept into the river. I relax in these red chairs sometimes, and they are typically bolted to the dock, so I guess it really was windy.

Of course, I had to check out the river at the height of the storm. It was pretty gusty on the bridge. You can’t really tell from the photos, but there were waves in the river.

Very minor flooding the day after the storm. This spot floods every time it rains even a tiny amount, so I’m not sure I can blame this on the hurricane.

I’m not sure that this was actually hurricane related either, but it does make it look dramatic.

After two days of school were cancelled for what appeared to be a minor storm, I was grumbling a little bit on my way back to work about how school shouldn’t have been cancelled. And then I saw this across the street from my school. I guess the suburbs were hit a little harder than the city.

And a few days later, we got our first snow, so my car looked like this when I left work. Good thing I still have my snow brush in my trunk.

It was pretty, but it didn’t last long.

I’ll spare you the pictures of my ear with blood coming out of it and share some crazy cat lady photos instead. (It’s not as dramatic as it sounds, I just an inexperienced Harvard resident poking around in my ear.)

“What? You think I’m too fat to sit here?”

“You shouldn’t let me eat these if you think I’m fat!”

[he doesn’t actually get to eat cereal…he just dreams about it and rudely sticks his nose in my bowl]

“Why is it spinning? And where is it going?”

[by the way, this is a new curiosity we are not very happy about]

And to prove I do more than sit at home and take pictures of our cat, a celebratory Obama-tini at River Gods 🙂

A beautiful weekend for a regatta

The 2012 Head of the Charles Regatta was on Saturday and Sunday and the weather was perfect. After a storm Friday night, the skies slowly cleared and it was sunny and in the 70s by Saturday afternoon.

[I really don’t know anything about rowing or the Head of the Charles Regatta, other than it was fun to watch, especially the 8-person boats, and it was just a few blocks from our apartment, so why wouldn’t we go check it out? If you really want to know more about the regatta, then you can click here. This is where you learn facts like an 8+ boat costs $40,000]

Saturday morning was cloudy, but I liked the look of the John Hancock Tower getting lost in the clouds.

Boats were everywhere.

I took these photos Saturday morning while I was out for a “run”. Obviously I didn’t do much running. I could probably win the Tufts 10k next year if I actually ran each time I put on my running shoes and left the house for a run along the river.

Later in the afternoon, my husband needed a break from studying so we went back out to check out the regatta.

Check out the size of those arms! I think their arms are bigger than my legs.

I thought for sure this one was going to run into the bridge. It actually wasn’t close at all, but I was mildly disappointed when it didn’t hit the bridge. There’s not a lot of exciting action in rowing, but a little bump into the bridge would have livened things up.

The boats were much thinner than I expected. Rowing is not for people with wide hips.

I was wondering how people got their boats to the race, when I spotted this car. Question answered. Just no Boston tailgating allowed.

If this house could talk…

We live in the Cambridegport neighborhood of Cambridge, which as far as I can tell is the part of Cambridge between MIT and Harvard that dips into the bend of the Charles River. Last Saturday was Cambridgeport History Day, so I walked over to Dana Park to pick up a map of the houses participating in “If this house could talk…”

I also saw a musket demo while I was there. It took a long time to get one shot ready. It’s amazing that that’s how wars used to be fought. Oh, and it was loud, but I suppose all guns are loud.

I also enjoyed this photo of the Cambridge Cycling Club from 1899 that was on display. Bikes have come a long way in the last 113 years…I probably wouldn’t even be able to balance on one of these bikes.

Here are some highlights from my “If this house could talk…” stroll around the neighborhood.

The Women’s Center

A street of colorful houses, but they weren’t talking.

Here’s 11 Cottage Street, where the Affleck’s grew up.

Even some of the churches were talking.

And some of the buildings had history to share, too.

Take a close look at this house. It appears symmetrical at first glance.

Sometimes the whole street was talking.

The two houses above were built by the same builder. You’ll notice some similarities.

In case anyone is wondering, we do not live in a beautiful old house like the ones in these pictures. I’m surprised the people of Cambridgeport haven’t rallied to get rid of ugly apartment buildings like ours.

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour

I’ve been seeing these round discs of Taza Chocolate in stores all over Boston, but I didn’t know what the big deal was. Then someone told me that Taza chocolate is made right here in Boston and that I could go on a factory tour, because it’s located in Somerville (which is right next to Cambridge). So one day last week, I headed on over for a tour.

Upon entering the store, I was immediately greeted by the smell of chocolate in the air. While I waited for the tour to begin, I wandered around the factory store.

There were samples everywhere, so I cheated and tried some Taza chocolate before the official tour (which also included many samples). And it was delicious.

I had been forewarned that Taza chocolate is Mexican stone ground chocolate and that it does not have the smooth texture of chocolate that most of us are used to. Here’s a picture of a stone, like the ones that are used to grind the cocoa beans.

Taza chocolate is meant to be melted and made into hot chocolate, but many people, myself included, enjoy eating it just the way it is. I actually enjoyed the grainy texture of the chocolate and liked the slight crunchiness of the sugar crystals and cocoa beans. The salted almond was my favorite. I LOVED the combination of sweet and salty and just a tiny bit of crunch.

The official tour started with some background on the company. This wall explains the bean to bar process for those who don’t take the tour or for those who just don’t listen to the tour guide.

Our first stop was the Roasting and Winnowing room.

In here we got to see the machines that are used. All of the machines were purchased used when the company opened in 2006, so many of the machines are quite old.

We were lucky, because roasting was in progress and we were even given fresh roasted cocoa beans to peel and taste. It was much too bitter for me, but it was interesting to get to taste a fresh roasted bean before it is turned into chocolate. We then visited the packaging room, which just looked like a room where boxes of chocolate are packed up. I was a little surprised at how small it was, since Taza is sent out to 48 states. I was also surprised to hear that the chocolate bars (not the discs) are packaged by hand!

Next stop-back to the store where there are windows into the factory and we could see the chocolate being made. Here the chocolate is being dropped (from a doughnut machine, also purchased used) into the molds.

This tour was definitely worth five dollars to see how the chocolate is made from start to finish. And for the plenitude of samples. I think I tasted almost every flavor that Taza produces. To be honest, I was feeling a little sick when I left. They don’t force you to eat that much chocolate, I just couldn’t turn down a free taste 🙂

And here’s a gift for my husband. Like how I chose my two favorite flavors to give to him?