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Juan and I were driving down Huntington Ave when I decided that we had to stop by and take pictures of The First Church of Christ, Scientist while it was caught in the last rays of the setting sun.  I like how late afternoon light always gives everything a nice warm golden glow and helps bring out the texture from the building’s reliefs.

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I’ve only been in the church once.  That was a year ago.  They have tours to explain the founding of Christian Science and to show off their gigantic organ pipes and stained glass windows.  I don’t remember much of what I learned, but, personally, I think the architecture on the outside is much more impressive than what I saw within.

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Before processing. Underexposed sky, overexposed building.

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After processing. Looks so dramatic. On some days, you might be able to catch a toy sailboat race in the reflecting pool.  Too bad I didn’t get a picture of it last time I was here.

I can’t believe that I’ve had three summers in Boston and I never went to the free Wednesday evening Hatch Shell concerts until a week before my departure.  One of the most striking scenes when I first moved to the city two years ago was from above the Charles River as I zoomed by on the Red Line over the Longfellow Bridge.  From there, I can see the Esplanade, the brick houses on Beacon Hill, the Prudential Tower, the iconic CITGO sign, and the sails billowing across the water.  I always felt that this spot right here was really the heart of the city, the center of the hubbub.  Probably because I pass by this everyday on my commute to work.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.

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I figured that the Shell would be packed with people, so I didn’t even bother trying to bring lawn chairs or a blanket.  I was right.  Everyone was out to enjoy the cooler evening air and Mozart played by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra.  The only open space left on the lawn was way in the back on the ground that was littered with cigarette butts.  It’s much nicer just to stand by the sides or wander closer to the river where you can still hear the wonderful music while watching the windsurfers fall off their boards.

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Water is hard to capture on film.  It looks almost like an enormous piece of blue, undulating satin with ripples ripening into other ripples.  We sat at the edge of the pier and dipped our feet in.  Juan likes to tell me stories about the water quality back in the days when the Charles was majorly polluted.  Nowadays, with an EPA grade of B+, we can fall into the water without worrying whether we’d need a shot.

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If I had known there were public lawn chairs on the pier, I would’ve came here everyday just to enjoy the sunset.  Even though I’m excited to be moving to San Francisco, it’s times like these that make me wish that I could’ve stayed in Boston for longer.  Two years is long enough to fall in love with a city, but not enough to exhaust all its possibilities.  Boston is the place where I held my first job and learned to be truly independent; it will always be special to me.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to live here again.

A couple of weekends ago, Juan and I took a day trip to Newport, Rhode Island for wine tasting.  Did you know ice wine is made from frozen grapes picked during the winter when the sugar is most concentrated in the fruit?

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These grapes won’t be ready for picking until much later in the fall when they will be fat, plump, and hanging low on the vines.  Vines can be productive for up to 70 years.  We also saw the cisterns and bottling machines where they prepare and package the wines; one bottling machine costs about a small villa in Italy.  I think I’d take the villa.  Apparently, the type of wooden barrel used to age the wine contributes to the flavor; however, my untrained tongue would have no idea how to discern the difference.  Someday, I will take a wine class.

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Juan eating a lobster fritter at one of the restaurants near the wharf in downtown Newport.  It was spicy.

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Originally, we had wanted to get some Quahogs (large stuffed clams), which I’ve only heard of in New England, but I could be mistaken.  Unfortunately, the restaurant ran out of Quahogs and we were too tired to get up and find another place.  However, we did enjoy a big plate of mussels.  Here’s the leftovers.

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After lunch, we went to take a walk on Easton Beach.  I loved wading in the water and feeling the power of the waves rush through your legs.

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Juan looking “cool.”

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Next time I will bring my swimsuit.

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After the beach, we went on the Cliff Walk and looked at the big mansions next to the spectacular ocean view.  We climbed down a set of stone stairs and walked on the rocks of the cliff edge.  On some of the rocks, we noticed swarms of jumping flies that would reappear after each wave washed over the rock.  I’m definitely not a bug person, so I let Juan go in closer to indulge his fascination.  We still don’t know what they were, ocean fleas or whatever.  Other than that, we enjoyed the refreshing ocean air and amused ourselves by imagining what the insides of those mansions looked like.

Looking forward to my next oceanside trip!

Last Friday, we went on the Boston Lobster Tour.  It was refreshing to be out on the water in a small, cozy boat and listening to our guide talk about the history of the harbor.  Admittedly, I was a tad too busy with my camera to catch most of what he was saying.

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Apparently, the harbor has become a host for extreme sailing races with large crowds of spectators on the piers watching the colorful sailboats.

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I like trying to read the boat names.  “Whirled Peas?”  If I had my own boat, I might name it “Dawn Treader” after C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

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The USS Constitution.

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We pulled out two traps.  The idea is to lure lobsters into cages with some dead fish bait.  Once inside, the lobsters enter the Kitchen where the bait is tied; but as they try to escape, they end up in a smaller space called the Parlor where small exits allow only the crabs to escape.  We still saw a lot of crabs though.  The traps are thrown into shallow water near protected areas, like piers and buildings, and marked by empty, floating clorox bottles.

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The clouds really looked spectacular over the water.

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These pillars supporting the pier were built 50 years ago and are still in awesome shape today.

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Juan picking up our lobster booty from the first trap!

IMG_3491 copyWe enjoyed listening to Captain Tony talk about his passion for lobster fishing.  Our legally sized lobster is a two pound male, approximately 10 years old.

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Nice pincers, buddy.

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Tony suggested we steam the lobsters upside down so that it cooks in its own juices.  It was absolutely delicious.  No butter, just lemons and onions.  I love how the shell turns from dark blue-green to completely bright orange once it’s cooked.  Overall, wonderful tour to go on as a date for two; however, not sure if it’s worth a party of six if you’re hoping to share more than one lobster with everyone.  I would mostly go to enjoy the scenery and learn a little bit about Boston history and lobster fishing.

This is my official First Summer Weekend.  It was doubtful at first.  After driving 20 minutes to get to a park in Arlington, I stepped out of the car into pouring rain.  Although the rain didn’t deter the rest of my company from playing ultimate frisbee, I couldn’t make myself run around the muddy field with sandals on.  Fortunately, as per Boston weather, the sun broke through the overcast sky and turned the rest of the afternoon into appropriate balmy New England summer.

And to celebrate, we grilled dinner outside in the backyard with chicken, eggplant, and bell pepper skewers. Buttered corn cobs. Beans and sausage. And mushrooms stuffed with sauteed spinach and melted pepper jack cheese.  Reclining on lawn chairs, we feasted on our food in the soft light of dusk only to be feasted on ourselves by our malicious mosquito friends.  Couldn’t have summer without them.  I have a feeling we’ll be grilling a lot in the next two months.

Better weather also means more photowalks. I finally dragged myself out to Beacon Hill to make good use of my camera.  Recently, I’ve been taking a basic photography course hoping that it’d help me develop a better eye for taking photos.  I realized that after you learn the functions for aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, there’s really nothing else you can learn in class.  I certainly feel more comfortable using Manual, but it still takes me about 20 pictures before I snap one that’s just right.  But the best thing about owning a camera isn’t about taking nice pictures; it’s that you begin to see a picture everywhere around you.  It doesn’t necessarily mean the picture you envision would make a good shot; but you begin to appreciate the life in the details around you.

Here are some pictures from my walk (flickr.com/jcheung2009):

Beacon Hill Street

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Windows and Climbing Branches

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