Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us. This page is a photographic annotation of the email (or regular post) that you may have received. [If you want to see a bigger (and sometimes also wider) version of the pictures, just click on them.] And if you have a giant monitor, I recommend that you shrink your browser window down to about half the screen width. [If you're less than completely computer-literate, try bringing your mouse over to the right edge of the browser window, and when the cursor changes in some way press down your left mouse button and drag the edge to the left a ways.]
2011 was famous for its dozen billion-dollar weather disasters. Some of that weather made it to Massachusetts, but no serious financial losses were suffered here. In January, we had a couple of more snowstorms than usual, but there was no melting at all, so everything piled up as you can see in the picture of our driveway. Yes, the snowbanks do reach up to the level of the garage door windows (4' or so). The poor little 5 hp snowblower wasn't able to throw the snow any higher, so we had to resort to shoveling down the top of the snowbanks with shovels. The level of the snow in the yard itself was only six inches to a foot below those banks. Even the town was unable to plow the roads, and had a front-end loader in our yard moving some of the banks at the side of the road further into our yard!
This winter, in contrast, we've had nothing since the halloween snowstorm which took down a lot of trees and branches since the leaves were still on the trees. Note the picture of our yard at right completely filled with sycamore branches; when a 9" branch breaks near the top, it tends to break off more branches on its way to the ground.
Laura also volunteers to help teach an ESL class in Bedford, along with a Jewish woman. During the holidays, Laura invites the class to our house and they discuss the meaning of Christmas, while the other woman explains the Hanukkah celebration. Most of the ESL students around here are Chinese, and one of them was a Christian this year. He translated Laura's story for those students whose English is rudimentary. I'm not sure how good his English is, but when you already know the story I'm sure it's a lot easier! Laura played her guitar so they could do a little singing, as well.
Things really picked up in early July, as our friend Partha visited with his wife Tanu whom we had not met before. We had a good time seeing some of the sights in Boston and locally in Lexington and Concord. In the picture are Partha and Tanu on the water taxi in Boston harbor. For one fare to the MBTA you can get a self-guided tour of the harbor. If you are with Laura, she'll tell you about the various sights for free!
In mid-July we went to the Cape for two weeks as usual. My parents had their three children and a random (and changing) assortment of grandchildren there, with four shown in the picture at left. Rather than sort them out by relationship, I'll just say that pictured from left to right (approximately) are Suzy, Jeanette, Bill, Michael, Amy, Tim, (Michael's friend), Mark, Kate, Carol, Anna, Laura, and Stan. The weather was good, and we did our usual reading, talking, swimming, kayaking, painting, juggling, whale watching, etc, although not all vacationers partook in all activities mentioned. The whales came to see us this year, which was cheaper than paying for the whale watch boat, swimming around right in Cape Cod Bay near our cottage. Many vacationers kayaked right out to them, which is totally illegal as well as potentially dangerous. The whales didn't seem to mind, nobody's boat was sunk, and the harbor authorities came by to chase the boats away. If we'd gone out there with our boats and cameras we'd doubtless have some good pictures, but from shore they were less than awesome, so you'll have to take my word for it or try to Google it.
Laura and I again went to the ASA conference which is a great time of hearing about and discussing Christianity and science. If you're interested in my take on that ask me for my trip report. It's way too long to fit here! This year's conference was in Naperville, IL, quite close to Chicago. We spent some time in Chicago after the conference, since I had only visited the area very briefly in the '70s and Laura had only visited Chicago as a kid. One of the most fun sights is the "Cloud Gate" sculpture, known to locals as "the bean." When you get up close to it, you're usually photographing yourself, often with weirdly distorted skylines and other landmarks. While we were there, we had dinner with Laura's former college roommate Suzanne, her husband John, and their son.
Daughter Kate is still living in Somerville and working in Cambridge, so we're able to see her reasonably often. Son Matt stayed with us for a while in 2011 while job hunting but moved out in the fall, so we're empty nesters again. He's also in the Boston area, although we don't see him quite as often as his sister. I'm still at Lincoln Lab, and doing a little log splitting, juggling, and snowboarding from time to time.
Have a great New Year!
Tim (and for Laura)