Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 7.141: Ferry Beach?

I don't know if any part of the beach in Saco between Camp Ellis and the Bayview Road beach access is actually called Ferry Beach, but since you can access it across the dunes from Ferry Beach State Park, let's say it is.

And that is what we did today - as the third part of our middle-of-the-day outing. It was primarily a walk along the beach - a less buggy alternative to other hiking options - but walking on the beach is hard work (especially near high-tide) and we probably did a little over a mile each way.

It was lovely though.

The blurry-and-oversharpened photo is of long tailed ducks we saw floating in the waves just beyond the surf (and mostly sleeping).

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 7.140: The Joy Luck Crab

It's not really a crab and I'm not sure that "joy luck" is really represented by a horseshoe, but it made me smile.

For last weekend's homework, E5N1 made this diorama for his model Horseshoe Crab (he made that at school).

As we know from last summer, these prehistoric beasts can really be found on the beaches along this coast.

His at-least-four-facts (with his punctuation) are as follows:
  • They have blue blood.
  • They also have nine eyes!!!
  • Horseshoe crabs lay 90,000 eggs a year.
  • They have ten claws.
  • They existed before dinosaurs.
And now you know.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 7.139: Serendipity and the demise of a hot-tub

On Monday, I was still trying to fix the hot-tub plumbing. Eventually I got it to the point where it was no longer leaking from my new joints when I put a few inches of water in. Knowing that it had to survive a couple of feet of water and the additional pressure of the pump I was not overly confident.

But I kept filling. And then it was full, and still not leaking.

So I powered it on and the motor started purring. Still no leaks.

I tried the jet pump. Lots of bubbles, all was still looking secure with my new plumbing.

Then I saw it. Water pouring out under a different side of the pool. Pouring like a tap was open.

I rapidly hooked up the hose to the drain so we could control where at least some of the water was going. Then I remembered that Exile #2 had been spreading grass seed (strange blue grass seed) on our sad dead lawn (quite possibly as a result of a more chemical-laden hot-tub emptying last year - we're just guessing.) So the seeds got a good watering, with the help of the hose, a dipped in watering can and an occasional bucketful from E5N1.

We also called it for the hot-tub and decided that rather than throw any more time and money at trying to get it working, we would just arrange to have it removed and get on with our pool-less lives.

Farewell and thanks for all the leaks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 7.138: Gi is for glasses

Today was the second day in a row I took Exile #4 to her karate class. She has a new gi and is learning a different form of karate - starting at white belt once again - but she seems to be getting on well and enjoying herself.

Oh, yes and she has new reading glasses.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Day 7.137: Ferry Beach State Park

After the parade yesterday, we went for a short visit to Ferry Beach State Park. It's fair to say we were a little confused by its name, because although it is very close the the ocean it is surrounded by roads and has no coastline.

Still, we had a nice hike on the boardwalks and trails - and saw some very pretty plants - some of which we can now identify thanks to the drawings on the signs near the parking lot - top left: Starflower, top right: Canada Mayflower, bottom middle: Gold thread.

Unfortunately it was very buggy in the woods and we had to put on a brave face and keep moving briskly to avoid the worst of the bites despite our bug-spray. Finally, E5N1 sprinted off the trails, down another path, through a tunnel under the road, across the dunes, down the beach and into the ocean:

...or something like that. Yes - the park may not have a beach of its own, but it does have a rather nice access to one and since we have a season pass, we may make use of that as the beach parking gets more in demand.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 7.136: Memorial Day

New town, new parade... We got there in time (just):

The first parader broke with tradition (partly by going the wrong way):

But we soon got back on track with the police, fire departments, veterans:

Old cars and hot rods:

Bands and baton twirlers:

As well as some less traditional marchers:

And, of course we were there to wave and clap (and collect thrown candy):

And take some tenuous pictures of each other:

And some more straightforward ones.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day 7.135: Exile #2's Sunday Column #6

Exile #2 writes...

We returned to our normal chaos following the departure of our guests. Not that that meant an uneventful week, of course. The same day they left, Exile #4 had a visit to the state capital, Augusta, whilst in the evening, we got our first taste of Exile #3's school choir.

E5N1 had his second swimming lesson in the rather impressive Michael Phelps swimming center. They teach the kids in infinity pools, which are not, as they might sound, large, seemingly endless bodies of water but what look like oversized bathtubs with an adjustable flow that the swimmer can swim against. They haven't used the current in the classes I've seen and the kids just end up doing a few strokes end to end. I'm not entirely convinced of this method yet but we'll see where E5N1 gets to by the end of six weeks (at this rate, not very far!).

It was time to visit the optician with Exile #4, who has been experiencing headaches. Getting to the appointment was itself a bit of a headache as we now live near a railroad. I had previously found myself caught on the wrong side of the tracks at the level crossing in town and so purposefully left half an hour to reach our destination. However, this time one of the two major bridges from our side of the river to the other was closed because of rail repairs and it felt like the whole of southern Maine was being funnelled across one small bridge. Despite being late, we were kindly seen and so Exile #4 will shortly be using glasses for reading.

To round off the week, Exile #4 demonstrated her powers of concentration at a second introductory session to a new form of karate. She is now officially ready to join a class and earned her starter belt. I was very impressed as I'm not sure I would have known which way was up by the end of the class.

Fortunately, this is Memorial Day weekend and apart from taking time for remembrance, we have time to recover and get some jobs done. Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Day 7.134: A wet Saturday

There were a few drops of rain today, but that's not what made it wet.

When we bought this house, we gained a hot-tub which was empty and powered down. We have no idea if it was in working order before it was emptied, so it could be a liability, but the first step in finding out was to try to fill it with water.

The step before the first step was to get rid of the pool of water from the lid and then move the waterlogged (and in need of replacement if the hot-tub survives) cover.

Then step after the step before the first step but still before the first step was some cleaning.

Then came the filling.

Then came the leaking.

At some point E5N1 and Exile #4 decided to have a water fight. E5N1 took it quite seriously in terms of preparation:

That was probably wise.

Back in hot-tub land, I found the leak (from the plumbing not the structure) and we managed to find some parts (at a combination of the hot-tub store and the hardware store) and I put my best plumbing skills into action.

At least this time when my true talents were revealed I didn't flood the kitchen.

Yeah, more leaks. Maybe it will work out better second time around tomorrow.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 7.133: Who? What? When? Why? Wall?

This is in the parking lot of the mill complex in Saco:

I have no idea.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 7.132: A 'castle or two

Sunday's beach visit was a chance to use our Maine State Park season pass. We visited Crescent Beach State park where we had previously been as visiting New Yorkers.

We arrived when the tide was starting to come in and immediately set to work:

Exile #3 was in creative mood and built a hospital (with cross) and graveyard for the doomed inhabitants, just outside the castle walls:

Appropriately (or not), the graveyard was the first to succumb to the waves.

She also made those rather excellent trees.

Exile #4 rose to the challenge, building this water park, with an impressive slide and a pretty (if unappealing splash-down pool.

Of course, the inevitable happened...

and then, one more big wave and it was all over:

Until we decided to build another one.  A simple castle with a spiral roadway, double moat and pretty entrance-way.

That didn't last long either - much to our delight!

First the outer defences:

Then nearly everything else:

And finally...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 7.131: Missing you already!

In all the excitement of last night's concert I didn't mark the departure of our friends yesterday. Let me rectify that right now...

We had a lovely time - so glad they could come and visit us.

Who's next?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 7.130: Spring Sing

Exile #3 got all dressed up this evening to sing in the chorus for her middle school spring concert. There were some songs (and one instrumental piece) from some alumni and then the current chorus performed a varied programme.

All very good, and Exile #3 played her part well - despite having to pick up the material in a few short weeks.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 7.129: Beach trash

Back in her second Sunday Column, Exile #2 mentioned the beach clean-up day that had fallen a little flat due to the extreme cleanliness of the beach.  Apparently, they pointed out that beaches aren't always like that and that you should always take the opportunity to pick up what you find.

Exile #3 has taken this very much to heart and she and E5N1 (Exile #4 had important duties with me) got quite a haul on what was, on first inspection, a very clean beach on Sunday morning.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day 7.128: Exile #2's Sunday Column #5

Exile #2 writes...

This week has been an impromptu vacation thanks to the welcome visit of our friends A(B), C and D - hmmm, sounds like an episode of Sesame Street.

Many hours have been spent at various beaches, where forts have risen and fallen. Two were built today; one with the slightly ghoulish inclusion of a graveyard outside the castle walls courtesy of Exile #3 (maybe finding out she is going to be in Raven House next year has added a new gothic twist to her contributions?) and another with an impressive double moat and spiral pathway up the mound. Exile #3 and Exile #4 have enjoyed encouraging their small visitor to jump over waves and he has also been honing his jumping skills on E5N1's worth-its-weight-in-gold Stomp Rocket.

We have sampled the local specialities: lobster, mussels, clams, and a fantastic chowder served in a hollowed-out bread boule and tonight we persuaded A(B) and C into a game of Ticket to Ride.

All the Exiles except me will be back to school and work tomorrow but we may try and squeeze in one more bit of fun before we have to say farewell on Tuesday.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day 7.127: Unexpected light

We were delighted to find that the weather cheered up enormously this afternoon and it inspired us to get out of the house.

At Fort Williams Park, we were surprised to find the Portland Head Light almost invisible from its parking lot because of a coastal fog.

Still, it made for some atmospheric photographs without spoiling our visit one bit.