A Celtics banner hangs on the Massachusetts State House
It's been a long time coming. Twenty two years ago another "Big Three" won over the Houston Rockets. You just assumed they played against the Lakers? Nope. That was 1987 and 1985 when the Lakers won and 1984 when the Celtics won. Many of us who followed the Celtics-Lakers rivalry in the 80s with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as the league's premiere athletes probably didn't realize the rivalry was born decades earlier. Going back to the 1960s, the Celtics squared off against the Lakers in the finals six times that decade, with the Celtics prevailing each time!
Those were the glory days. It's been a tough couple of past decades, though, to be a Celtics fan. Honestly, they have been very hard to watch, except in 2002 with that miraculous comeback against the Nets. Not only is it a good time to be a Celtics fan, but Boston has become a city of sports dynasties. The Red Sox broke their almost century-long skid, the Patriots emerged from bottom dwellers to perennial champions, and now the Celtics have joined them. If you are a hockey fan, you can hope the Bruins will put it together. Or you could always root for Boston College or Boston University who are always among the best in Division I NCAA hockey or follow the Beanpot. Boston College, after all, won a national championship this year, much to the chagrin of Boston University fans. In Boston, that BC-BU rivalry is as big as those on the professional-level: Yankees-Red Sox, Celtics-Lakers, or Bruins-Canadiens. Yes, we have great sports rivalries in Beantown.
The NBA playoffs were immensely exciting. I am amazed at how much better play is now than it was 20 years ago. Celtics defense has been oppressive. And the Celtics no longer lumber down the court like they did in the 80s. The Celtics are fast now. And exciting to watch. Paul Pierce showed why Shaquille O'Neal nicknamed him "The Truth." This new generation of the "Big Three" has been nothing short of spectacular. But, as Kevin Garnett (aka KG) remarked after the game, it's a team effort. They could not have won without the other players. This is true for any team at any level.
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris did a superb job with the NBA "There Can Only Be One" commercials. Talk about gearing you up for the game. I've been wondering what the piano background music is on the "Compilation" commercial. Some have said it's Elijah Bossenbroek's Song of Simplicity. Close, but that's not it. It's just a simple riff with some interesting chords: Am, Am7, GCE, and G#BE. The difference is the last chord: Bossenbroek's ends in a bright G major. I finally discovered the song is actually Carly Comando's single Everyday which is much richer and complex in its chord structure. Her song has the same chord progression (though different key) as Philip Glass's song Truman Sleeps from the 1998 film The Truman Show which is similar to his Etude no. 1 from 2003. If you listen to her whole song, it's beautiful and haunting at the same time, but certainly not traditional. The main theme repeats an awful long time and then there is a little melodic riff added way into the song. It sounds like it's all improvised, which it probably is. The song could easily be chopped in half or more and maintain more punch. But the song's length was intended to match the length of photographer Noah Kalina's YouTube video he made from stitching together photos of himself every day for six years. I had this song in my head all evening during the finals game and I am not sure whether it was my being overtired or not, but I could have sworn they were playing the piece continuously in the background of the ESPN wrap up show! For more on Carly Comando, see my interview with her on my personal pages. The Magic and Bird commercial is awesome too about the "rivalry". The KG-Kobe commercial about fear is a great mental motivator. In listening to Doc Rivers in the huddle and locker room, it's all about mental toughness. It's a good lesson for sport and a good lesson for life. Paul Pierce displayed this tough mental attitude when he said at halftime they wanted it too bad to let LA back in the game and "the foot's on the pedal".
Congratulations Celtics. Basketball is back in Boston!
External Link: Paul's Carly Comando Interview
Many of you have probably heard of the famed Arnold Arboretum in Boston. When we were living in town, we frequently made trips there and the highlight was the annual lilac festival, the one time of the year you were allowed to bring in food. Probably less famous, even to those who live around here, and certainly smaller, is the Acton Arboretum. Situated on 64 acres near Acton Center off Taylor Road and Route 27 (Main Street), it's an oasis even for an area that has lots of conservation land. It's also inspiring. The gardens have given me ideas for what is possible on my own property and it may do the same for you. For those of you looking for prime portrait locations for your family, this place cannot easily be beat. There are a fair number of apple trees which is a first hint of the history of the land. There are daylily, hosta, herb, wildflower, and rhododendron gardens as well as a newly planted lilac garden. Specimen trees dot the landscape, though they aren't as rare or numerous as their cousin in Boston. There are small ponds, climbable trees, stone benches, and more.
The upper gardens are most active and visible. The paths that wind into the woods and transport you to other beautiful gardens are somewhat hidden and add to the mystery of the place. There's also a relatively new footbridge that winds over streams and through wooded wildflower garden that is currently being worked on. This trail connects to the Highland Loop which leads to a secluded bog (another piece of history). Further hints of its rich history are the stone walls and the old foundation surrounding the herb garden.
I have heard some comment on dogs running loose. They should come to Stow's Delaney Project where you cannot help but step into dog poop and the trails are rundown and dusty. This is absolutely not the case here. The people are friendly and the dogs are friendly and mostly they are on leashes and if not they are responsive to their owners. People pick up after themselves as there is no litter anywhere even though picnics are allowed and there are several picnic tables available for use. It's completely free to the public.
The arboretum has a rich history which you can find on the member application on the site linked below. In short, during the American Revolution it was owned by Joseph Reed who fought at the North Bridge and the Battle of Bunker Hill and came home to a heroes welcome: most of his land was sold for nonpayment of taxes! It seems like we are doomed to repeating history as our heros of today frequently come home from war with similar tales. What was left of the land was later sold to the Tuttle family who grew and sold cranberries and apples for over 100 years. The Town of Acton bought the property in the year our country celebrated is bicentennial (1976) and in 1986 at Town Meeting it was designated as an arboretum. It turns out the two arboretums, Boston and Acton, are somewhat related. I am told by Joan Yatteau of the Friend of the Acton Arboretum that the former director of the Arnold Arboretum, Dick Howard, retired to Acton and helped in the early stages of development. In addition, two students at the then Landscape Design seminar at Radcliffe College helped to develop the master plan as part of their degree program. What a wonderful story of a wonderful project!
Image: Allium is a member of the onion family and is particularly attractive to shoot. Here, I was giving my friend Larry some pointers on how to use his new Nikon D200 with my Tamron 90mm/2.8 Macro lens.
External Link: Acton Arboretum Official Site
If you've ever been to a Stow SpringFest, you know it usually rains (or snows)! This year we got lucky. It was a very special year for us because our town celebrated its Tercenquarternary. What's that word you say? Well the word was "invented" for this occasion and simply means we celebrated our 325th anniversary. We had a huge parade this year. We had the Stow and Sudbury Minutemen, bagpipers, tractors, trucks, antique cars and fire trucks, a replica of the Stow West School (the 1-room schoolhouse still standing on Harvard Road), and a hayride. We even had ourselves a clown on a bike! The girl scouts carried the flags belonging to Stow over the years and the parade was closed by the famed Belgian horses of Rockbottom Farm.
The parade ended at Center School where the real festivities began. There were huge cakes to celebrate the Stow Community Chest's 25th anniversary, students playing instruments at the Stow Friends of Music booth, encampments of minutemen, animals, an old-fashioned broom maker, a blacksmith, spinning and weaving demonstrations, firemen playing "water polo", 20 information booths, and activities galore.
The afternoon gave us a wonderful children's play at the Old Town Hall. "The Time Trap" was a unique lesson in Stow history from a kids' point of view. The play was inspired by books by Stow's Martha Perkins and chronicled the lives of modern day Stow kids who got caught in a parallel existence with 18th, 19th and 20th century Stow kids. The portal in time was an old outhouse.
- Stow Springfest (5/2008)