Friday, November 30, 2007

The 2007 Groton Community Christmas Chorus

Today, on the last day of November... present — to me, at least — are two traditional hallmarks of the season:
On the right: my nightime/tripod attempt to capture our Christmas lighting — the garden archway we've had for years + Lynn's pop-up Christmas Tree spiral. And for the first time, this year, I also dressed up the metalic snowman that is usually in the garden / on the wall outside my sauna here to see the Full Size of this imageclick here to see the Full Size of this imageOn the left: some of the signage I put up to remind the Community that their 33rd-Annual Groton Community Christmas Chorus is just around the corner. See my personal GCCC 2007 multi-media invitation (featuring the Dylan invite), or for a quick link, go directly to the program.

Cantate Domino

For a multi-media taste of the GCCC, click on the Play icon in the middle of the YouTube control on the left to activate the player. And then click on the Play icon at the bottom of the YouTube player to listen to the GCCC women singing Cantate Domino at a rehearsal for the 2006 GCCC last December.

Alas, the video in this clip is not very high quality, but IMHO the sound of the chorus is fabulous. I didn't do this on purpose... but as it turns out, I was standing over on the Alto side of the Church when I recorded this, so what you hear has an unusually "off balance" version of the women singing the lower parts of the harmony — most unusual.

Or, Go direct:

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Pammett 2007 Cut-Your-Own-Christmas-Tree Outing

A joyous family outing for the Pammett family — our annual pre-Christmas tradition!

click here to see the Full Size of this imageThis year we got smart... we decided to do our annual outing to track down the live tree that's perfect for us... sooner, rather than later — because other years we've wrestled with minimal choices because we left it too close to Christmas when there's not as good a selection of live trees left.

With JgP living at Northeastern this year, the only way we could do that was right after Thanksgiving. So last Sunday the four of us got to spend a most joyful late New England Fall afternoon: heading off thru the woods, saw in hand... searching down the perfect Christmas tree to have in our family room this year. And not only did we find a great new tree place (1 Kemp St, Dunstable), but we also discovered a new kind of tree — a Concolor Fir or White Fir — which is "half way" between a long-needled White Pine and the more-traditional Spruce trees with shorter needles but where all the branches bunch up together so that there's no room for decorations. Narrowed down from five or six choices, we unanimously selected the one shown here. You can see more of the tree itself in our "O Christmas Tree" celebration on YouTube.

With help from Photoshop, I was able to fabricate the picture that you see here with the four of us; can you tell which of the two faces are from other snapshots? See this Flickr set for the rest of the pictures.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Rock Climbing "The Gunks" — Hartigan, Pammett and Marcotte

With Thanksgiving behind us, today I finally have a bit of "extra time" to do something I've been wanting to find enough time for about 2 months now: write this story to share my pictures from my first-ever rock climbing experience — with two of my men friends, both of whom just happen to be expert rock climbers. Camping out under the stars, and with 2 full days of rock climbing... we had an absolutely fabulous time!

Pictured below is a marvelous place in Up State New York, called "The Gunks" by those who frequent the place for some of the best rock climbing in the North Eastern United States. The cliff you see here averages 200' of open rock face — above the tree line which we hiked up to in order to begin the ascent!
click here to see the Full panorama (Size 2950 x 1095) of this image
Actually called "The Shawangunks" after its Indian name, this fabulous place near New Paltz, N.Y. is better detailed in this Wikipedia article which tells you why "The Gunks" are the place for accomplished rock climbers.

The story about the three days I spent there — with Hartigan and Marcotte, at the peak of the Fall Foliage during the SMW weekend in October of 2007 — is probably best told by this Flickr album which I pared down from the 420 snapshots I took into the "more manageable" (but still too many, I know) set shown in this collection. The link goes to the thumbnails from which you can click thru to the ones you want, or if you have time for the whole show click on the "View as slide show" link at the top right on the thumbnail page. As I process the many panoramas I took, I will post them to this collection. See also this YouTube clip where Hartigan demonstrates the proper way to wind up the climbing ropes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The first snow fall (in Groton) — Thanksgiving 2007

Today, at long last, we had our first snow fall of the season. So I immediately thought that it was past the time that I could get my "final Fall 2007 picture" of the panorama of trees in my back yard that I've been capturing this Fall — the follow-on to the one shown here. Below I'm showing the non-cropped version of the panorama so that you can see the contribution to the picture made by each of the 11 snapshots. You can see this in the "rounded" edges which are a result of the stretch and projections made by Autostitch. Click here for the cropped version.
click here to see this image Full Size
This panorama, composed by Autostitch from the 11 shapshots that I took mid afternoon today, had the unusual characteristic that some of the pictures were much darker than the others, but nevertheless Autostitch seemed to be able to make the necessary adjustments to put it all together correctly. Amazing.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hard Work and Persistence Pays Off

This morning when I came down to the kitchen my wife was plastering the fridge with blown up snippets from the letter that we just received from the MCAS scholarship rewards program — my youngest daughter (who prefers to remain nameless in cyberspace), currently a high school senior — has been awarded a full 4-year tuition scholarship at any state college or university in Massachusetts. Yahoo !!!

The snippets on the fridge came from this collage:
click here to see the Full Size of this imageOf course, my soon-to-be-18-years-old daughter is and always has been brilliant — we've known this ever since she was born. And, of course, I'm pretty obviously the proudest Dad that you ever wanna run into! But be that as it may, it's still the case that my daughter has worked very hard for this, that the road has not been easy, and that her brilliance pales in comparison to the hard work and persistence that she has demonstrated... culminating in her finding herself within the top 4% state-wide in English, and at the 94th percentile in Mathematics !!! These "Abigail Adams Scholarships" are awarded only to those who are high-achievers simultaneously in all of the categories that Massachusetts has! ... And did I mention how proud I am of my Beans !?

Read the press release — Adams Scholarships Awarded to Class of 2008 — for further details.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nanci's "Hooked On Glass" Passion

My sister, Nanci Phelan, already talks about her stained glass passion in her blog, but I just discovered her Business Card and thought it was so neet that I wanted to include it, here.

click here to see this image Full Size
I have a number of Nanci's stained glass creations hanging all over my house, and know that she's made similar masterpieces for dozens and dozens of people — have a look at some in Nanci's portfolio. Notice the quality and creativity of Nanci's art. Her techniques have been honed for decades; the creative part in design and colour choice speaks for itself; the finished products just continue to get better and better. Nanci has also done commissioned works for people to give to their loved ones, and without exception they are cherished as the Gifts of Love that they obviously are. And though the logistics of it might be a barrier — because Nanci lives in Canada — if you are interested in such a project, give Nanci a call.

Yes, this article is a shameless plug for my sister who would rather make her living by teaching bridge and making stained glass creations... than go back to work "in an office". Can you blame her?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Helping Nanci create her first blog

Today I spent a while on-line with my sister, Nanci Phelan, helping her create her very own blog. She, of course, did this from Canada while I was on the phone with her from Groton, Ma. While she was trying out various things, I made this posting to help her do "the same" stuff as I was showing it to her.

click here to see the Full Size of this imageSpeaking of Nanci... this is a picture of her when she and her hubby went to Cuba a few years ago. Living in Canada, they get to do stuff like that! For lots more pictures, see Nanci's Hooked On Glass WebShots album where she features the years of work she's put into becoming a renouned stained glass craftsperson.

As an example of another hyperlink... this points to the home page (under construction) at my newly-acquired domain. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with this new site; for now it's just a place to play with GooGle Apps.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Harold "Dutch" Percy Pammett — Lest We Forget

This morning, on Remembrance Day, I'm thinking of my Dad, Harold "Dutch" Percy Pammett, because it was on this day in 1981 that he passed away — on the golf course, living the life that he always wanted to live. Little did I know, at the young age of 61 (I was 30), that for him it was a blessing because he never had to suffer or grow old. For me, the reality was that other than my uncle Gord Pammett... Nov 11, 1981 left me at the root of the Pammett family tree.

Harold "Dutch" Percy Pammett grew up in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. And by some quirk of 25-cent photography, my Mom kept this picture of Dad close to her heart for 40 years. This treasure of a picture was taken by my Mom when "Harold" took her out canoeing, at the young age of 17 — just shortly before Dad served in the Canadian Navy during World War II. He served for 6 long years, keeping the engines running on Destroyers such as The Restigouche, and married Jean Audrey (Carter) Hickey as soon as he got back from liberating Europe.

But we didn't hear very much about the war growing up in Southern Ontario; Dad's mind's eye was always more forward-looking than watching over his shoulder. Dad wanted us kids to grow up, attend university, and live the good life because he never made it beyond the 10th grade. Those were the tough years when common sense and the work ethic prevailed.

Click to activate

the YouTube player

and then
click the "Play" button...

It's A Pittance of Time

They fought and some died

for their homeland,

They fought and some died

now it's our land.

Look at his little child,

there's no fear in her eyes.

Could he not show respect
for other Dads who have died?

Take two minutes — would you mind?
— it's a pittance of time.

For the boys
and the girls
who went over.

In peace may they rest;
may we never forget
why they died.

It's A Pittance of Time.

God forgive me
for wanting
to strike him.

Give me strength
so as not
to be like him.

My heart pounds in my breast,
fingers pressed to my lips.

My throat wants to ball out.

My tongue barely resists.

But two minutes I will bide;
it's a Pittance of time.

For the boys
and the girls
who went over.

In peace may they rest
may we never forget
why they died.

It's A Pittance of Time.

Read the letters
and poems
of the heroes at home.

They have casualties,
and fears of their own.

There's a price to be paid
if you go
if you stay.

Freedom's fought for
and won
in numerous ways.

Take two minutes — would you mind?
— it's a pittance of time.

For the boys
and the girls
all over.

May we never forget
our young ...
become vets
at the end of the line.

It's A Pittance of Time.

It takes courage to fight
in your own war.

It takes courage
to fight someone else's war.

Our peace-keepers tell
of their own living hell.

They bring hope to foreign lands
that hate mongers can't kill.

Take two minutes — would you mind?
— it's a pittance of time.

For the boys
and the girls
who go over.

In peace time our best
still don battle dress
and lay their lives
on the line.

It's A Pittance of Time.

In peace may they rest;
Lest we forget
why they died.

Take A Pittance of Time.

Enjoy the song, provided gratis via YouTube — — by Terry Kelly.

Today I — together with my brother John Hickey, and my sisters Nanci Phelan and Gaye... all remember our Dad with fond memories, love and respect. And we give thanks for the many years that he brought us his support, his security, and his love. "Thank you, Dad!"

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Great Blue Heron Rookery along Rte 2 (New England Fall)

Nestled right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of modern life, along side rte 2 in Acton Ma., you see the most marvelous display of wildlife — thriving in spite of it all — and this blog story is about the "Great Blue Heron Rookery", along rte 2, in particular during the New England Fall season.
click here to see this image Full Size I first penned this article as "Bald Eagle nests" but my good friend Austin informed me that the birds are Blue Herons and that such a nesting community is called a "Rookery". Eloquently explained in Kristen's YouTube documentary... I finally understand why there are consistently a bunch of these nests, visible from this well-traveled highway in Acton, just before you get to rte 495 going West. I've long marvelled at the dozen or so of these nests, seen from the rte 2 vantage, and have taken a few photos of them over the years. My goal from the beginning has been to get All Four Seasons shots and to publish them ensemble. You might consider this my first public step towards following thru with that.

In the early days of November 2007 I stopped off to take some pictures of these nests, primarily because it was the height of the New England Fall. And this time I took a walk out onto the point that juts out into the wetlands so that I could get some pictures — some panoramas, in fact — of the nests, primarily in their vacant state as Winter approaches. [added later: The other 4-season perspectives or this Rookery include “Winter”, “Spring”, and Summer (TBS).]

To see a Flash presentation of these panoramas visit my Flickr collection, select about the 10th thumbnail in the collection, and then just watch the slide show from there. Failing that, just click here and Next / Prev your way thru, in the more traditional manner. You will notice that the panoramas are presented in pairs: first you see the 'raw' panorama, made from about a dozen or so snapshots, in which you can see the contribution of each picture by noticing the "rounded" edges which are a result of the stretch and projections made by Autostitch. For each one, the panorama right after that will be the same picture, only cropped so that it looks like a single snapshot.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Campfire in Pammett's Woods

I did it; I figured it out!!!

This blog entry is mostly just an experiment in not using Google's built-in mechanisms for including pictures in blog entries. If you look at the pictures in my older blog entries, there is always a lot of horizontal white space around the images. While this is convenient for most situations, when I make panoramas that is especially unfortunate because the whole point of a panorama is that it extend horizontally as much as possible.

For that reason, below you see a panorama which I made from four snapshots — as you can tell by the "rounded" edges which are a result of the stretch and projections made by Autostitch... and in this case the standard html "img src" tag is used with a simple width="100%" attribution to in-line the picture.
click here to see the Full Size of this image
As such, you'll see that this image "fits" exactly into the right-hand frame provided by the blog infrastructure, and as you make the browser window larger or smaller, the image is resized so that it exactly fits into the maximum amount of horizontal space.

This particular image shows my dog, Lady, looking into the campfire pit that's in our back woods. The hill leading down to the campfire site seems much stepper in real life than it does in this picture, but that's most likely because of the perspective of where I took the four portrait snapshots that make up the picture.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

But... It Doesn't Seem Like Halloween Yet

click here to see the Full Size of this image We've had such a glorious New England Fall this year, with warm sunny days and lots of beautiful leaves turning! But when I look at this panorama (made from 3 snapshots) of my dogs — Lucky and Lady — standing in front of Gaye's Maple tree in our backyard, on Oct 30th ... it really doesn't look like Fall's in full swing yet. And now that Halloween was yesterday and we really are "3 weeks" from Thanksgiving, I still find myself in a state of denial.

Maybe I'll make a similar panorama a few weeks from now when it does seem like Fall's really fully upon us.

click here to see the Full Size of this image On the other hand, today being Nov 1st... it's undeniable that we're at least half way thru Fall. It's still dark out when we wake up, dark again long before we get home from work, and in two more days we'll be saying GoodBye to Daylight Saving time again, albeit later than ever this year.

Today, as always on Nov 1st, we remember Millicent Redfield Alexander, my favorite mother-in-law, because today would have been her 82nd birthday. Shown here with her husband of nearly 55 years — Ian T. Alexander — my favorite father-in-law... how can I do anything other than think of them both with thanksgiving and with fond memories, because we had so many great years together! The picture is actually from their 35th wedding anniversary; that's why they both look so young !!

For Millie a little more on the wild side... click here.

Today I am aware that they are both "up there" watching over us... Ian is singing "The Lord's Prayer" and Millie's wish is pure and simple: "Grant Them The Joy !!"