Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day 7.263: And relax...

I think I was in meetings for all but about an hour of my work day today. It was actually a surprisingly good day.

After work, I took Exile #4 to her karate class.

Then we had dinner, by the end of which it was time to usher the kids to bed (with varying amounts of parental intervention).

After that, I was really only capable of collapsing into a stupor.

Which has left me with nothing to write about, so here's a picture from my run on Sunday:

and what do you know? I found something to write after all.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Day 7.262: The day we met the editor

As I mentioned, E5N1 found a red pen at the beach on Saturday and decided that he was going to be an editor to make use of it.

So, on Sunday morning he came down to breakfast with a flyer* for a presentation called "meet the editor" to occur at 3 pm and with tickets for us all.

At the allotted time, we gathered and gave in our tickets - he had this nifty container to collect them:

His presentation involved him standing on a a small makeshift stage (a step-stool) and explaining why we need an editor and why since we did, he was the one to provide this service for us.

He did a live demonstration - editing this error-laden sentence before our very eyes:

He also gave out some free gifts - I scored this memento:

(I had to do a bit of editing of my own for this one - he didn't write "exiles"). I'm guessing the "meat met" was intentional, but it's hard to be sure.

He also gave this one to Exile #4. No need for edits here, his professional name is "Editor E5N1":

It appears that the editor might need a proof-reader!

* Sadly, I couldn't find the flyer afterwards.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Day 7.261: Exile #2's Sunday Column #24

Exile #2 writes...

For all the talk of a terrible and early winter, right now we are having a late summer. Living, as we do, in the Vitamin D deprived north, we are soaking up as much sunshine as we can. While Exile #3 tested out her newly found running legs with Exile #1 yesterday, I took Exile #4 and E5N1 to the beach (well, sandcastle building can be strenuous too...). The ocean temperature is freezing, as ever and still does not deter Exile #4, who stayed in the water until she could no longer feel her limbs, only coming out to check the meaning of the word hypothermia.

Today, we were out again with Exile #4's karate school, to take part in an anti-bullying walk. It had its surreal moments: a frankly terrifying tiger mascot walking around which, we later discovered contained a cute teenage girl plus a bevy of tiara-and-sash-wearing pageant winners. However, we were impressed by the organizers and by the state representative, who managed to work the crowd in a winning way.

On arriving at the end of the walk, the kids were all pleased to come by badges (buttons if you are in the US) which, while not directly demonstrating their support for the cause (2 Doctor Who, 1 Portal), could be seen to be nailing their colors to the mast...

It was a tiring but fun way to spend our weekend. Tomorrow morning could be challenging!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Day 7.260: A 5K and two firsts

We'd had an entry in our calendar for today for a few weeks. A 5K race being run by a charity with connections to our church in Portland. For a variety of reasons we'd been far from sure whether we'd make it, but yesterday evening Exile #3 was keen to run, so it was decided that two of us would go.

Exile #3 started running with me during the summer and has been doing cross country since school restarted, but she'd never run further than about two miles until today.

She aced it - running the whole distance and coming in with an impressive sprint that got an excellent response from the spectators at the finish line, a fantastic smile and a great time.

I also had a pretty good race in the unseasonable heat and came in a few-seconds better than my previous personal record, second place and "first old geezer",

Meanwhile Exile #2 took Exile #4 and E5N1 to the beach so it was good times all around.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Day 7.259: Always gonna be good

Sometimes when the kids say or do things that remind us of ourselves we cringe a little. Sometimes we cringe a lot.

But sometimes we smile.

E5N1 has been playing the piano a lot recently. Mostly just making increasingly melodious sounds playing by ear. Sometimes reading some of the beginners music and sometimes composing music using his own numeric notation.

Today he walked to the school bus with Exile #4. He has not been doing that recently but rather going with one of us to the stop at the other end of the street because of some issues with his behaviour at the stop and on the bus. At the vital moment this morning we were both unavailable so they just went together. Then we found this song sheet on the kitchen counter:

Sadly, my knowledge of his musical notation does not allow me to reconstruct the music, but the words are as follows:
Always gonna be gooooood
Oh yeah. Even walk down the road
Because I is always good.*
And, as far as we know he was.

* Update - Exile #2 pointed out that it probably said "It's always good" and E5N1 read it that way today - then corrected it to "I'm" with a red pen he'd found on the beach

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Day 7.258: Doing it by the numbers

Numbers loom fairly large on this blog - the continuing count of days (and years) and, of course, our blog pseudonyms.

E5N1 has recently become interested in his "name". As we walked along the beach the other day he proclaimed, apropos of nothing, "I'm Exile 5!"

I had to point out that, thanks to his dual nationality, it wasn't that simple.

He responded by writing "Exile 5 Native 1" in the sand. A few minutes later he wrote "E5N1" and then wrote his sisters' blog names (but only persuaded one of them to pose). Finally he wrote "the Exiles" and as many as were not taking the photo posed behind it.

So here you go...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Day 7.257: Feeling the chill

Exile #2 spotted this young eastern bluebird on a rather cool late-summer day last week.

I'd just been hearing on the radio that bluebirds are becoming more common in Maine as a result of climate change, but this cold-snap probably caught it by surprise - as it did us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Day 7.256: Grey and white and red all over

A week or so ago, I posted two very poor cell-phone photos of birds on the beach taken during my run.  A few days later I received this by email:

Don't have a view on the first picture but I suggest semipalmated plover for the second.


Last Friday, we went for a walk on the beach a mile or so from where I'd seen them and noticed two things. Firstly, there were lots of birds again - at least some of which were the same kind I'd seen before. This time I had a proper camera with me:

I think they are probably semipalmated sandpipers, although it seemed that there were two different sized birds, so some of them may be something else.  The "semipalmated" word they share with the plovers from my Dad's identification means "half-webbed" referring to their feet, but is, according to my sources a bit of an exaggeration - fat-toed is probably more accurate,

The second thing we noticed was that the red seaweed they were pecking around in smelled foul. It is actually algae Heterosiphonia japonica - invading from Japan. More popular with the sandpipers than it would have been with the tourists if it had arrived a couple of weeks earlier.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Day 7.255: Wolfe's Neck rocks!

There is a small sandy beach that can be accessed from the trails at Wolfe's Neck State Park, but for the most part, the shore there is rocky - and these are some interesting rocks.

I'm no geologist, but I could recognize that these angled slabs had probably formed lying flat. They are now nearly vertical in places.

More surprising still were these stripes, cutting across the layers of rocks and presumably therefore through many hundreds of years of rock formation history:

It turns out that they are probably dikes - narrow intrusions of other rocks - formed long after the original rocks by igneous or sedimentary rock filling in a crack in the older rock.

As with many natural things they look almost too strange to be natural!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Day 7.254: Exile #2's Sunday Column #23

Exile #2 writes...

This weekend has been mostly spent dealing with one of those things every parent dreads. I will spare you the details but will say that we are now in possession of a number of fine toothed combs. Oh, and I have a partially completed haircut. Sigh. Still, they did give me half off...

To compensate for the general frustration, we set off this afternoon to do one of our favorite fall activities, apple picking. A local orchard's advertisements mentioned the magic word "Honeycrisp". As this is pretty much the ideal apple as far as I am concerned, we dived off into the country in pursuit.

When we arrived, we were disappointed to discover that, although the Honeycrisps were for sale at the farm stand, there were none ready to be picked. Not to be defeated, we decided to pick some of the other varieties instead and buy some Honeycrisp. As we wandered, however, our eyes were drawn to three trees in a row with some ripe looking apples that were unlike the others around them and suspiciously like the apple we were looking for. A taste test confirmed their identity, so, with a few circus gymnastics to reach the top branches, we loaded up our bag and headed home happy.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Day 7.253: Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park

We had another short hike in the morning, hang-out and relax in the afternoon Saturday. It seems to work pretty well for all of us, once we get over the initial reluctance to leave the house.

Today we headed up to Freeport, where we shunned the rather busy looking streets around LLBean and the other factory outlets and instead continued out to Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park.

We investigated some of the trails (in the woods), including the Casco Bay Trail which has several shore-access points.

It looks like this:

Two views of the sea, and one of a sea monster in the woods.

It also looked like this:

Bottom right is indian pipe, we've seen it before a few times but never as much as we saw today - and never before with this striking pink hue.

When we arrived, it also looked like this:

and, when Exile #3 decided to turn her small finds into a fairy gift basket, it looked like this:

In the bottom left is a fairy bed she also made on a section of trail made soft underfoot with a thick layer of pine needles - it was quite tempting to have a lie down (not in the bed, just on the needles).

After our walk and a reviving snack, we inexplicably ended up playing a game of "Sharks and Minnows" - a variant of the game I knew as "British Bulldog" while kilted attendees of a wedding in the park played Frisbee nearby.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Day 7.252: Learning to fly

...because learning to swim at the beach is so last season.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day 7.251: Throw down thursday

Remember when the iPhone 4S was the new thing from Apple?

That was when I got mine. Today it looks like this:

Add that to the list of things that could have gone better so far this week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Day 7.250: Beached, benched

On Sunday I ran part of my long run on the beach again:

In one fairly small section there were lots of birds. A few were gulls but the rest such smaller prettier birds. I did my best to get some photos with my phone.

Some kind of sandpiper perhaps:

and some kind of plover:

I should probably be looking them up in more detail, but instead I'm going to bed because I plan to run in the morning. Not too notable except that I have not run since this run on Sunday due to pain in my foot. The first time I've had more than one day off in a week (never mind three days in a row) for several months.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Day 7.249: Beaches, rock!

Not surprisingly, living here is turning us into beach connoisseurs. Most often, we head for one of the sandy beaches, but we have discovered the joy of a beach with a mix of sand and stones and, even a rocky beach has its pleasures:

Rock piling was cut short by biting bugs and a need to be elsewhere, but it was fun while it lasted!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 7.248: Last cook-out of summer?

The equinox, and therefore the official end of summer (in the US at least), is still a week away, so another summer cook-out could be managed, but as the days go by it feels less and less like summer, and when I finally got outside to cook this very nice piece of lamb and some accompanying vegetables on Saturday evening it was rainy and not very summery at all.

On the other hand, the meal was excellent, as was the beer I accompanied it with and we even managed some rainy-day s'mores for dessert.

Cooking on the grill always turns a meal into an event. I wonder how many times we'll use it in the non-summer seasons ahead.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 7.247: Exile #2's Sunday Column #22

Exile #2 writes...

This week the temperatures have dropped. Duvets are back on beds and sweaters have reemerged. It made for a cold night on Friday, when we optimistically set out to hunt for the Aurora Borealis. Unfortunately we couldn't hold out long enough to enjoy the light show (if there was one) but we did manage to get far enough away from light pollution to see some amazing starry skies and shooting stars.

Warm jackets were needed yesterday as well, as we went to tick another lighthouse off our visited list. E5N1 is doing an art project at school on lighthouses and at the moment, will happily spend hours poring over images of lighthouses from all over the world. Although yesterday's lighthouse it is not the most imposing of structures, it does famously get lit up for Christmas and Christmas in July (because one Christmas is not enough!). Plus, it is winningly known as Nubble light.

Aside from that and a shared meal with friends on Friday, it has been a quiet weekend. Now everyone is back at school, the weekends are recovery times. We did this in one of our favorite ways this afternoon, with a board game blow out (Exile #4 was generally victorious, as usual) and a catch up on Doctor Who. Oh, and a relaxed dinner, which, included a spillage. In the course of clearing up we discussed some people's innate lack of coordination. "I'm clumsy too," I said. "No," interjected E5N1, "you're forty-two."

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 7.246: Cape Neddick Lighthouse

This morning, we went to get this view of the Cape Neddick Lighthouse (commonly known as Nubble Light):

It's on an island just off the shore near York and there is a park with good views (and parking) just next to it. We had a good time climbing on the rocks and enjoying the decidedly autumnal weather.

Exile #4 pointed out that the large rock looked like a turtle before climbing onto its back.

The rest of the day was spent at home, a mixture of chores and relaxation that always seem better after an outing of some sort.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Day 7.245: Table for nine

Always nice to have an excuse to put the leaves in the dining table. Tonight it was dinner for nine - and very nice it was too!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 7.244: I didn't plan this - honestly!

So, you remember how yesterday I posted about setting out on my morning runs before dawn?

Yeah, well, this morning, this happened:

Yes, a run, ho hum, whatever, wait... does it really say 2:15 am?

Yes it does. This is how it happened.

I woke up around 1:30. It doesn't matter why. My alarm was set for 4:30 (actually a bit later than usual because I was only planning a six mile run). By 2 am I was clearly not asleep, so I decided to cut my losses, go for my run, go back to bed and set my alarm for 6:30 so I could get up and get ready for work.

It worked fine, but running at 2 am is quite different from running at 5 am. At 5 am it's quiet, but at 2 am it's really quiet. At 5 am a few other strange people are out running, walking their dogs or heading for work. At 2 am, not so much. In my six miles around the town streets I was passed by a total of five cars - honestly after the first couple of miles that was five more than I was expecting.

So there you go - pre-dawn running with a vengeance. And I still got the same amount of sleep I would have got if I'd slept through to 4:30.

Yes I'm aware how weird that sounds.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 7.243: Dawn runner no more

Last week I beat my previous weekly running mileage record, clocking up 64 miles. When I mentioned this to Exile #2 she asked how I had managed it. She wasn't really asking that, but I had obviously done OK at keeping my running out of family quality time which is good. I haven't been running very long runs either - my longest was 16 miles on Sunday (including the beach) to round the week off.

It does mean starting quite early. My alarm goes off at 4 am so that I can be ready to step out the door at 5 am - sometimes with Exile #3 who needs to be back after her 15 minute run to get ready for school. She leaves at 6:40 - around the time I'm usually getting back home from the main part of my run.

I like running early in the morning, but at this stage, it's more like running in the middle of the night - and it's still summer. Yikes!

This was a few miles into my run the other day (that's the moon over the river):

Although, looking the other way gave some hint of dawn by that stage:

At least it's light by the time I get back home at the moment - that probably won't be true in three months time.