Death and Taxes

“…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” –Benjamin Franklin, 1726

April 15th is known in the US as tax day, the day when tax returns for individuals are due. It is a date that leads to much crankiness and frustration.

The Boston Marathon is always held on the third Monday of April. Marathon Monday is traditionally festive occasion for the state of Massachusetts. Last year was a year when the two dates coincided: tax day and marathon day.

Flowers in Copley Square, from a late summer day several years ago.

With the anniversary the bombing of last year upon us, I find myself thinking back to that day, and the crazy week that followed. I wasn’t in Boston, but my close ties to the city, updates from my school, my colleagues, and my friends, kept me feeling tethered.

I was out with the kids that Marathon Monday, it being a state holiday and the first day of school vacation. Phoebe was recovering from a stomach bug, so we didn’t go far from home. We were parked at the music school before Phoebe’s and my violin lesson when I got text alerts from BU with notification of the explosions, and warnings to stay away from Copley. I couldn’t really process the news, and didn’t want to worry the kids. As the afternoon and evening wore on, I found more detailed reports of deaths and injuries. Like so many, I worried about the safety of my friends, and realized that my friends and family would worry about the safety of me and my family. It was very unsettling to learn that one of the dead was a BU grad student. (I, too, am a BU grad student.) I found myself wondering about the other BU grad students I know. Were they safe? The news that one of the people killed was a little kid left me feeling shattered. Even though I was many miles away, and my family and I were safe, it all just felt so horribly close and personal.

The view from Storrow Drive at dusk, from 2010.

That week, I remember reflecting on my fondness for the city, and spent probably too much time hunting for photos I’d taken there. (Naturally, I have hundreds of photos of Boston, if not thousands.) I am not a Boston native, but I have lived outside Boston for over 18 years. I spend a lot of time in the city. It feels like home.

Today I got caught up in memories, reading stories and articles of the many lives that were so deeply affected by the bombings. I was distracted and contemplative, and managed to get a time mixed up for something I’d committed to, which made me very cranky and off-kilter.

The day ended up rainy and stormy, which actually quite fit my melancholy mood. And probably also the cranky moods of so many faced with the frustrations of tax day.

Under my umbrella this afternoon, waiting to get the kids off the school bus.

fall, falling, fallen

Here are a few photos I took this afternoon in Boston.

Bay State Road in its full fall glory.

A group of students standing among the fallen leaves while a fire alarm went off in their building.

A BU brownstone residence, wearing fashionable fall colors.

A sculpture I’ve never noticed before. (It was on a route I don’t typically walk.)

I had this goal of finding photos each month taken on the same date in a previous year, but my available November 3rd photos of years past fell short of my expectations. (The only 2 I really liked are ones I already posted, and that’s not as much fun.) So instead I am sharing some largely unplanned photos from today. Now I need to get to work lest I fall behind on my work goals.

a parking space with a view (friday foto finder: rooftop)

One of our favorite places to go in the Boston area is the Boston Museum of Science. We started getting a membership a few years back, which has resulted in more frequent visits to the museum. The museum has a parking garage, something important to consider when driving into Boston. The lower levels are typically a bit cramped, as parking garages tend to be, and empty spaces are few and tight. But the rooftop level usually has plenty of empty spaces, and a gorgeous view, to boot.

July, 2012

January, 2012. (This one you may recognize as the purple from my 6 unrelated photos post.)

September, 2012

July, 2012

We went to the Museum of Science again this weekend, and headed up to the rooftop to park, as usual. There were some others up there, too, apparently also enjoying the view.

August, 2013

These guys were remarkable patient with me as I got out my camera.

This week’s (fine, last week’s) friday foto challenge was to share photos on the theme of rooftop. I may have more interesting and exotic rooftops in my photo library, but this is one rooftop that turns up in my photos again and again.

To see others rooftops, and see what theme is up next, pay a visit to the fff blog. Won’t you play along, too?

I am weary

The past few weeks have knocked the wind out of me. I hardly know where to begin, there is so much to say. The biggest news, at least for my family, was that John’s father died. It was not unexpected. It was not fast. It was also not easy.

Just over 2 weeks ago, we got the call that John’s father was not expected to survive the night. As you might imagine, there was much travel, and rearranging of plans. John was able to travel to New York to be with his parents for his father’s last few days. I stayed home with the kids. Things were complicated by Theo having a fever one day, then getting pink eye the next, which meant missed school for him, missed work time for me, and more trauma than I would have expected dealing with the medication. (This was Theo’s first sick visit to the doctor, which itself was remarkable.) Phoebe managed to pick up her first case of poison ivy, a bad one, including welts on her face around both eyes. This led to a doctor’s trip and missed school for her, too. Then there was the funeral. Phoebe ended up missing a whole week of school. This week is her school vacation. And did I mention the stomach bug that hit Phoebe Sunday night?

These were the weeks that I was supposed to be working intensively to make a last push to try to finish my degree. Time is limited before my subject pool, the BU undergrads, is taken away by finals and the end of the term. I have now lost 2 full weeks of work time. The only day that was not taken up by sick kids or travel or memorial services and time with extended family was one that I spent shopping for something to wear to the funeral.

My days are eaten up. My energy is eaten up. My motivation and momentum for my research have all but left the building. I have been trying to push through, in the windows of time that open up here and there.

But next comes a terrorist attack in Boston, and the wind is knocked out of me again. I was not there, but I am shocked and grieving. 3 dead and over 170 injured in a blast at Copley Square, a place I know well. The news that one of the dead was a child of 8 hit hard. The news that another was a BU grad student hit hard again. The realization that my friends and family from far away might be worried about my family hit me again. We could have been there.

I am steady in times of crisis. Strong and reliable, I keep pushing through. I know that I have to keep going until the crisis time is over. But I am strained and drained. I am edgy and touchy. I am slipping.

This is not the worst crisis I can imagine. This is not even the worst crisis I or my family have lived through. I remind myself every day how lucky I am to have John and my children here with me, safe and (largely) healthy. My mother and my sister and her family are safe and well. I have financial stability, a home, and wonderful friends. I am very, very lucky. But I admit that I am tired, and I just wish I could have a few days to catch my breath. At this point, I’d settle for one.


My mother left today after an all-too-short week-long visit. Phoebe, Theo and I saw her off to the airport in Boston. There is a really cool wall of multi-angled mirrors in Terminal C of Logan Airport. Here are the 3 of us, on our way back to the parking garage after my mother headed through security.

The journey was as much the goal as the destination.

We decided to have an excursion into Boston today, to do something fun for my mother’s visit. We didn’t have a specific plan in mind, but thought we’d take the train and play it by ear for the afternoon, and then get dinner at Pho Pasteur. (2 years ago, we took the train into Boston and happened to eat there after wandering around the Common, and now it has become a tradition when we take the train into Boston. They have really yummy soup.)

On the train ride in, we decided that we’d check out the Institute of Contemporary Art, which none of us had been to (at least in its current location). It looked to be a reasonable (~15 to 20 minute) walk from South Station.

The building itself is very cool, with amazing views of the harbor.

We all enjoyed looking out, as well as looking at the artwork in the exhibits.

The walk from South Station may have been a bit long for those with shorter legs, especially bundled up and wearing clompy snow boots. There may have been some tiredness. We ended up staying about 2 hours, which was about right. Then we took the T toward dinner.

Whenever we go to art museums, Phoebe and Theo are always inspired to do their own art. Here we are at the restaurant before our food arrived. Theo was drawing a train.

Taking the T back to South Station after dinner, and looking a bit like poster children.

On the train home, we managed to score one of the coveted tables. Theo was happy to be able to draw some more. He spent most of the train ride drawing.

He was looking a bit tired, but his picture was super cool. He later explained to us that it was a robot as big as a planet that had thousands of robots inside.

one door, three seasons

There is a door at BU, on the street where I park, that often catches my eye. It’s a door on an otherwise traditional-looking Brownstone building, and its bright blue contrasts strikingly with the muted red-browns of the brick and stone. I happened to park directly in front of it yesterday, and it was featured among my rainy-window-filtered views. In editing my photos last night, I was reminded that I had photographed this door, and its companion red standpipe and vintage-looking fire alarm bell, a number times in the past. I knew that I had some photos of the door in question in the snow, and when I poked back through my photo library found I had one with it posing with a flower spring shrub. (It’s entirely possible that I have more photos of this door from other times, but I didn’t necessarily tag them for easy retrieval.)

Blue door, November 2012

Blue door, February 2011

Blue door, May, 2011

Finding this set gives me the urge to photograph some same subject many more times, but under different conditions.