Today was a study day while The Girl golfed. I am driven mad by the unruly and uncontrolled neighborhood children who play in the corner lot abutting our driveway, and who invariably have home base planted directly beside my car, with the pitcher aiming for my door. I've repeatedly asked them to move home plate over about 15 feet, which will actually give them a larger playing field, but then I hear them out there again. Plus the smaller kids whose parents seem to think that since they rent half this duplex they should be able to give their kids free reign over the walks all around the house, including the ones right by our windows. I can't wait to have our own house. I went out for a walk in the early evening, and when I came back there they were, standing in our driveway behind homeplate, right where I park my car.
When The Girl got home a few minutes later I explained that I had just gotten home, yelled at the children, and started to vacuum. She thought this was the most hysterical statement ever, like it was part of my daily routine. She took me out to the Starbucks drivethrough, and when they opened the pickup window I breathed in the coffee scents and described it as the aroma of civilization. "Fuck Calgon - Starbucks, take me away."
She now thinks that THIS was the most hysterical statement ever.
This place gives meaning to "the wrong side of the tracks." First, there are only parking places for a few cars, but it's well-marked. According to the map, I had a choice of going straight in and heading toward the carriage path alongside the railroad, or taking a right and checking out another little island. After walking a bit I realized I had missed the path to the right, so I continued in. This was just after I passed the first fire pit and party remnants. I found another well-tended boardwalk, with the marsh grass trimmed back on each side. Apparently that was so the snakes could get more sun, judging by the one I startled away. The boardwalk paralleled Rt. 128, but although the traffic was in plain sight, the sound was muffled somewhat, sort of like I was in some sort of semi-shielded alternate universe. I was able to hear the helicopter overhead quite well, though. Reminded me of living in LA.
The boardwalk emptied into a wooded area, which was quite-nice, if short-lived. Soon I came to a clearing which revealed a BMX type sandy track area, with jumps, hills and turns made of sand piled over old car tires. More fire pits and empty cans. A few more trees, a few of the blue heron markers that indicate the trail, some of which had been torn in half, and the wooded area ended at the "carriage path" that runs along the bottom of the hill upon which the train runs. As I walked this path, I felt like I was in the Boston area version of New Jersey's Meadowlands, and perhaps I might run into Whitey Bolger meeting some of his associates. I'm walking on this littered, rocky abandoned access road with marsh grass towering on one side, huge power lines and the train tracks on the other, snakes here and there, abandoned shopping carts and even a rusting boat trailer, and not a person anywhere. The Needham side of the park is well-traveled and well-tended, with Friends of Cutler Park who keep the trails clean and well-marked, with walkers, runners, kids, dogs, mountain bikers, everyone enjoying some fresh air. This side had no people, little to no indicators that this was an active part of a park system, graffiti on the rocks and plank bridges (not the boardwalk - that was nice) that were rotting and broken.
When the carriage path dead-ended at the river I could see a few people on the other side in Millenium Park, another lovely scenic vista. Then I turned around and hustled my ass back through the newspapers and shopping carts and back to my car. As I passed the little rock entrance building (long-abandoned, of course), I finally saw the markers indicating the other trail. Well, the markers were there, but the trail apparently hasn't been freed from the vegetation.
Back out at the road I took another look at the park map, and noticed that while it does show the trails that I had taken, it emphasized the Upper Charles River Loop, which basically skirts around the edge of this side of the park, then takes you into the Needham side for further exploration. Now I know why. There was also a little sign stating that this was a newly marked trail, and they welcomed comments. Hmm.
Click on the boat trailer or the map to see the whole set and commentary.
I celebrated this momentous occasion of completing my third year of classes by:
1) Treating myself to a decaf grande nonfat (ha, I typed nonfact at first) marble mocha machiatto for the ride home.
2) Sitting at my desk at home and filling out all my financial aid forms for next year. I'll be dropping these off at the financial aid office at lunchtime tomorrow.
3) Thoroughly irritating The Girl by waking her up at 10:15 pm to sign two forms. She has to sign the school forms since she's my legal spouse in the state, but not of course the federal loan forms because our 7-year relationship is worth nothing to them, except as a rallying point for getting out the core voters. With all she's dealt with while I've been in school these past six semesters she ought to get some sort of federal recognition, like a lavender heart or something. By the time I graduate I will have been a student in our relationship for as many years as I wasn't a student in our relationship. During the week she refers to me as the ghost, since I come home after she's asleep and by the time she's up in the morning I'm already on my way to work.
Just one more year...
Of course then there's the bar prep, the bar exam, the waiting for bar results, and the waiting for the swearing-in ceremony. Okay, so -
Just two more years....
I decided to go back out to the main loop and walk across the causeway, since I had bypassed that last week. As I neared the paved walk, I heard a low rumbling and saw a jacked up, beat up, bright red pick up truck with either a malfunctioning or tricked out muffler slowly cruising across the causeway. It's a pedestrian-only area. I was wondering if the jerk would even be able to get out the other end, and if he'd have room to turn or if he'd have to cross back in reverse, but then sure enough, here he came back across. He must have had room to turn, since he was facing the right direction. I was on the causeway path myself by this point, so as he passed me I managed to give the driver and his two passengers my best glare. They looked like hunter-fisher types, like the guy across the lake with his "Gut Deer?" bumper sticker and his camoflage jacket and pants for the wilds of the lakeshore across the street from a totally residential neighborhood. Anyway, I even pondered taking a picture of the truck on the causeway, including license plates, but decided it really wasn't worth it for these assholes. They probably would have gotten a kick out of being a spectacle.
About 10 seconds after they passed, all of us pedestrians got satisfaction when a motorcycle cop with his bright yellow police rainjacket went cruising after them with a much more effective glare than I could ever have mustered. And his glare had a lot more authority behind it, too. The truck had turned a bend, and the cop followed, but less than a minute later the motorcycle appeared again, leading the wayward truck out of the park. Jerkoffs.
But the rest of the walk was fun, and partway across the causeway I encountered a little water bird of unknown (to me) origin. Pictures in the photoset - anyone know what it is? Click on the black and white bridge to get to the full set and more details of the walk. Numbers: 3.54 miles in 1 hour, 19 minutes.
I started off at the Kendrick Pond parking (marked with a green arrow on the left of the map), then headed up the outer paths that run parallel to Rt. 128. At some points the path goes quite close to the highway, and this section isn't as well-tended as the path that goes just around the outside of the pond, but it's more challenging, with lots of hills. I continued on rather than looping back around the pond, and found myself heading across the lengthy boardwalk across the marshes to Powell's Island. This is a really nice spot, and on the far side of the island is a spot where people can land their canoes and kayaks from the Charles. Then I continued the loop around the island, back across the boardwalk, and then back down the river side of the pond. I planned the route in this order so I'd be on the sketchier paths earlier, and on the nice open well-maintained and traveled path closer to sunset. This made The Girl happy, as she would have worried if I'd been stumbling around by the highway in the dark. Total of about 4.5 partially hilly miles, in 1 hour 28 minutes.
I saw a few people on mountain bikes, having a good time. Just before crossing to the island I ran into a man and his adolescent son. By their accents, they were from a slavic region, and it appeared the kid had cajoled dad into doing this bike ride which he promised would be fun. The dad was quite tired and they were a bit lost, so I shared my map. The dad wanted to head back, but the kid won out and they continued over to the island. I ran into them just before the canoe landing, and they had turned around rather than finishing the loop. It appears age won out.
I'm looking forward to continuing on some of the trails I've yet to cover.
There is also a designated mountain bike loop that takes you around the reservoir, and I saw several people out enjoying it, along with all the hikers and dogwalkers. For all the details, check out the photoset by clicking on the picture below. Remember to view each photo rather than using slideshow, so you'll get the commentary.
I think next time I'll try the longer Skyline Trail. That's the white one around the reservoirs on the map.
Avon Walk training update: This week I got in about 14-15 miles, much of it hilly hiking, and I'm at 59% of my required fund-raising. The team (my sisters and I) are at 77% of our combined fund-raising. Four weeks left before the Boston two-day walk! Care to help us to our goal?
Later I'll also have a couple of photos from yesterday's post-work four mile walk deeper into Cutler Park, as well as a couple from Newton's Hemlock Gorge, which was a lunchtime walk of just under two miles but with lots of steep climbs and descents.
This morning our local NPR station (WBUR) had a review of the touring production of Wicked. The reviewer loved the first act, but thought the second act was a little sappy. Bring on the sap, I say! It was fabulous, and The Girl thought so too. But as part of the review they played snippets of the performance, which brought a nice change to my morning commute. "For Good," "Defying Gravity" – I was welling in the car. So I'm a sap. Bring it on.
The reading was well-attended, with several floor-sitters after the chairs filled up, and many attendees lingered afterwards to buy the book and get signatures. We were fortunate that Anastasia and Jen had a bit of time between the last signature and their train to NYC, so we ducked across the street to Starbucks for icy beverages at a table for six in the sun. A fabulous event, and here's to the rest of their tour going as well and even better! Check out the book - it's excellent. I've been squeezing in a few pages here and there between work, school and training.
Luckily for us web junkies, the two have gotten their traveling connection up and running, and are now blogging from the road! For the coming weeks we can follow tales of the temporarily repatriated members of the expat harem.
UPDATE (4:27 pm) - She's now crossed the finish line at 3 hours, 48 minutes!!!
The point of this post is the details of Saturday's training walk around Horn Pond. Because we had to leave early for the reading, I wasn't able to get in as long a walk as my sister, who took on the 10.2 miles from Washington's Crossing to Stockton, in New Jersey. Her path was along the Delaware and Raritan Canal, the longest/narrowest state park in the country. I only had about an hour, so I logged 2.61 miles in 1 hour, 58 seconds. This was another new destination for me, at Horn Pond in Woburn. I'll have pictures to post later on, but it's a really nice trail. About 1/3 of it is on paved sidewalk, and the rest is dirt/mulch trails. It goes all the way around the pond, which was formerly the site of a triple set of locks on the canal that went from Charlestown to Lowell before the train lines were established. You have a choice of doing a simple loop around the main portion of the pond, or of veering off on any of a number of additional loops through the woods and wetlands. They also have a 2 mile exercise trail at the south end of the park, that has various stops at which to perform designated stretching and calisthenics. Lots of wildlife and scenic vistas. Plus I'll be able to do some kayaking there this summer!
In related good news, I'm at 49% of my required fundraising target for the Avon Walk!
The photo below is a shot across Horn Pond from near where I started. Click on it to go to the full photoset. Remember to view each picture individually, because the slideshow doesn't give you the commentary.
The Girl didn't really get the pressing nature of the time issue, so was getting a little cranky at my constant push to walk faster, and I was getting a little cranky at her resistance and repeated assurances that "We're fine, we're fine."
We flew in through the outside doors at seconds before 1:00, just as the ushers were closing the inside doors and announcing last seating call. They called out to us to hurry or we'd be shut out for the first 25 minutes. The Girl was busy pulling the tickets out of her bag, so I practically lifted her up the couple of steps to the inside doors and helped her thrust the tickets to the first usher. As soon as we were in they closed the doors and hurried us to the next set of ushers, who also scanned our tickets and pointed us to the usher who would show us to our seats.
We got to our seats, took off our coats, exchanged looks of relief and "All's forgiven" just in time for the lights to go out and the curtain to rise.
The show was absolutely fabulous. The Girl and I laughed, cried and applauded. The Girl in general hates musicals, but even she loved this one, and even volunteered that she'd go again!
No Reality Check needed here. Awesome show. But leave yourself some extra time for arrival. If you get there early, go get a latte.
My new coworker IronGuy (currently in training for an Iron Man) and I went for a walk at lunch today. Stats: 2.77 miles in 1 hour, 37 seconds, average pace 2.7 mph.
In related news: I'm 1/3 of the way to my fundraising goal for the Avon Walk. $600, $1200 to go…
Income tax 101 for newlyweds in
- Prepare federal forms for each of you, as singles. You will file these.
- Prepare federal forms for each of you, as married filing separately. You will not file these, but will use them for state.
- Prepare federal forms for each of you, as married filing jointly. You will not file these, but will use them for state.
- Using the information from the federal married filing separately forms, prepare state forms for each of you as married filing separately.
- Using the information from the federal married filing jointly forms, prepare state forms for each of you as married filing jointly.
- Compare the state married filing separately and state married filing jointly to see which one works best. File the better ones.
- Curse DOMA, curse the federal government, curse all those who feel the need to denigrate your relationship in order to feel more secure in their own.
- Bestow many blessings on TurboTax.
My Law Practice Management professor, as well as many of the guest speakers that have come in this semester, recommends contacting local attorneys who have their own offices, as oftentimes some of them have more space than they are using and are willing to rent out an office to new attorneys.
I spotted lots of promising locations, although it's a little soon yet to be doing any serious inquiries. "Hi - would you have any office space available in, say, two years? Not sure? Okay, I'll get back to you next week..."
And I had a lovely walk on top of it. I covered 4.58 miles in 1 hour, 45 minutes. Did kind of a figure 8, taking in the edge of the Lower Mystic Lake, then back up to Mass Ave in Arlington Center, almost all the way up to Arlington Heights, then back on the bike path. Then when I returned I found that I had received a pledge from a Bryn Mawr alum. Athena's Web comes to the rescue!
Speaking of which, if anyone feels the urge to sponsor my participation in the two day Boston Avon Walk the weekend of May 20, click one of the big pink buttons in the upper corners of this page.
Quite psyched – my closest law school friend will be in two of my classes next semester. We sat next to each other throughout most of the first 2.5 years, but this semester we didn't have a single class together. She was even one of my bridesmaids at the big event last summer, but this semester we've only seen each other when we happen to pass in the hall, and at the Oscar Party, of course. But in the fall we'll be working our way through Personal Income Tax and Negotiations together – way cool.
Note of congratulations to said friend as well. Last fall she was wavering on whether to drop out of Law Review, since she works full time and was expecting her first child in November (in addition to being one of the top students in our division), but after a great deal of pep talking and prodding from me and others, she stuck it out. And now she's been elected Business Managing Editor for Law Review for next year! Way to go!
April's definitely been doing her part in bringing the showers, so hopefully May will be bursting with flowers! After the second driest March in the history of Boston weather (which has been recorded since the mid-1800's), with something like 0.6 inches of rain, April got off to a jump start on Saturday (4/1) with rain off and on all day long. It has continued off and on, and today is rain, rain, rain. Might change to snow showers this evening, but it's precipitation nonetheless.
In other news, I'm dropping off my registration form for next semester today. And the registration goes to: Modern Real Estate Transactions, Negotiations, Personal Income Tax and Wills, Estates & Trusts II. My third year evening classmates and I are a little disappointed in the sparse pickings for courses for the fall in the evening, especially given that next year is our final year, so if we can't take it soon we can't take it at all.