Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 8.171: Saco Heath Preserve

This evening, we dropped Exile #3 off at a dance class and then the rest of us had an hour to spend, so we decided to explore the nearby Saco Heath Preserve. I'm very glad we did.

The preserve is almost impossible to spot from the road, even if you know where to look, but sure enough there is a parking lot with a large trail head sign. The first part of the the trail is fairly standard through-the-woods terrain with some snazzy multi-coloured boardwalks.

But then, the woods came to an end and we emerged into the amazing landscape of the peat bog. It's very unexpected and rather beautiful.

We didn't have time to complete the boardwalk across the bog because we had to get back to meet our dancing teenager from her class, but we'll be back I'm sure.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 8.170: Sidewalk arts

Before our musical evening on Saturday, we visited the Saco Sidewalk Arts Festival - apparently the 45th time this annual event has been held.

There were lots of stalls with local artists and artisans' wares for sale.  The kids each bought something. The younger two scoring some small framed photos while Exile #3 bought a hand printed shirt.

E5N1 also made some art - eight year-old style - with water pistols full of paint:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 8.169: Exile #2's Sunday Column #63

Exile #2 writes...

Vacation is here. Pajama wearing has begun in earnest and the kitchen has turned into craft central. E5N1, in particular, has been busy. He's been poring over things through a microscope and inventing strange and wonderful plants and animals. Early in the week, he made his own version of the button tree Exile #3 and her friends made at her birthday party.

Since then, he has been sticking buttons to everything. Exile #3 has been making use of a nice stash of fabric she received for her birthday and now her doll has a fetching pair of overalls (dungarees).

As Exile #1 mentioned, we enjoyed our first foray into the local parade scene on Friday night and then, last night, Exile #1 and I got to share some of the music we've been working on - so exciting!

As a consequence, today has been spent at home. It has been a wild and stormy day. Scatter in some tired legs and a few storm-induced headaches and you get the picture. We did manage a gentle game of Triominoes and some essential catching up though. Now we have a quiet week ahead before summer activities start.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Day 8.168: Upstairs! 7-9

Uncut Pages (aka Exile #2 and I) played our first booked gig tonight at b.good in Portland. We had a lovely time and had lots of nice comments from the audience.

The last time I did anything like this was 25 years ago and on a different continent. Hopefully the next time will be a little closer than that.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Day 8.167: Welcome to the dance parade

[...does anyone else miss the days of "pop puns for title watchers"?]

We all walked in a parade in Biddeford today with the dance school. It's part of La Kermesse Franco-Americaine FestivalExile #3 and E5N1 also did some dancing and Exile #2 and Exile #4 handed out information about the school.

Here they all are with the rest of the dancers doing their thing:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 8.166: La verdad en la publicidad

In the vending machine at work:

In English these are boldly claimed to be "Cheddar", whereas in Spanish they are "Sabor a Queso" - which translates to "cheese flavor" or perhaps just "cheesy".

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day 8.165: Blossom and her friends

Exile #3 had some friends over for her birthday party this evening:

In that picture they were making blossom tree pictures with paint and buttons. Except E5N1 that is, who is having a beer*. They managed to create some very varied and beautiful pictures:

and everyone seemed to have a good time.

* I'm told it was actually orange soda.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Day 8.164: A visit from Phoebe?

I haven't seen the male hummingbird again, but I did manage to get a photo of this camera-shy bird:

It has been a regular visitor recently, but has not - until today - stayed in one place long enough for me to pick up my camera and get a photo. I'm almost sure it's an eastern phoebe, although there are other flycatchers that are similar enough to cause potential confusion.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Day 8.163: Flitting around

The weekend was rather busy as Exile #2 said yesterday - I made seven return trips to the dance studio over the two days to drop and collect Exile #3 and E5N1 at the appropriate moments.

Or, nearly appropriate in the case of their last performance when we realised we were still at home ten minutes after they were supposed to be back stage. Fortunately, that still gave us time to get there in plenty of time for them to be on-stage appropriately.

At some point during it all I took a better photograph of one of the ruby-throated hummingbirds visiting the feeder:

We now know for sure that there is more than one visiting as we saw (once) an elusive male with his ruby throat, but judging from the frequency of the visits, we suspect there are several females in the rotation.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Day 8.162: Exile #2's Sunday Column #62

Exile #2 writes...

This week has been a busy one, full of end-of-term activities and saying thank you and goodbye to teachers. There was a trip to the local fun park for Exile #3, field (sports) days for all of the young Exiles and lots of treats all round. Exile #4 and E5N1 are both changing schools, so they went to look around their new schools and meet their new teachers. Exile #3 isn't moving schools but got to find out which team she will be on next year.

The excitement continued on into the weekend. Exile #3 became that most feared of things - a teenager, we celebrated Fathers' Day and E5N1 lost a tooth. All this was against the backdrop of Exile #3 and E5N1's four-performance dance recital. In fact, we became aware of the lost tooth when E5N1 took the stage for his number and signaled what had happened repeatedly in an animated fashion. Fortunately, he just about remembered why he was on the stage in time to give a good performance, including an impressive bit of robot walking. It seems to have been his own addition to the piece but he assures us that his teacher said it was cool and that he should keep it in. He's definitely a freestyler at heart. Exile #3 also gave a good performance, looking appropriately sassy for a teenager dancing hip hop!

Now, just that half a day of school left to go...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 8.161: The teen age

We had a special event to mark today - we have a teenager in the house! The day started like this:

I also love this picture, and the fact that her godmother made a card with the colours in rainbow order!

The day was filled with many things, but it ended like this:

with added singing and a little eating of cake. Happy Birthday Exile #3!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Day 8.160: Two hummingbirds

We saw what, as far as we can recall, was our first hummingbird in Maine on Douglas Mountain last weekend. It was flying around some fairly unpromising looking trees at the summit.

There was no chance of getting a photo, but it did inspire Exile #2 to replace our broken feeder, fill it and put it up and this morning, this happened:

Not a bad photo considering it was taken with my phone from several feet away.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Day 8.159: We escaped!

The kids had busy days of not-working at school today. They were quite tired at dinner time, but we deserted them to go out and sing a few songs at the b.good Portland open mic.

Here are some people who aren't us singing:

We had a lovely evening singing, listening to the other acts and eating and drinking and we arrived home to the kids all soundly asleep in their beds - perfect!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Day 8.158: Eggsplosion

As I was writing a blog-post the other day, I heard a strange sound from downstairs followed by excited noises from Exile #2 followed soon afterwards by an urgent call for my help.

It turned out that she had been boiling two eggs but had got distracted and the pan had boiled dry and one of the eggs had exploded. Very impressively. Yesterday, there was still a small piece of eggshell stuck to the ceiling:

She had moved the pan off the heat, but then retreated as the other egg was now looking less like an egg and more like a time-bomb. I managed to turn the heat off and then pour some water into the pan while staying below the level of the rim of the pan and the second egg did not explode.

Amazingly, the pan survived the ordeal. Exile #2 was a bit shaken up for a while though.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Day 8.157: Slick, Slick pic

E5N1's new friend Slick (acquired by him at a discount thanks to his sister's ear-piercing on Saturday) and his picture of her.

Is that enough cuteness for you?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Day 8.156: Douglas Mountain

Our hike yesterday was on Douglas Mountain in Sebago - a couple of miles from the edge of Sebago Lake.

Although I wholeheartedly agree with Exile #2's reports about how the long ascent and amazingly quick descent felt, the real numbers are not quite so extreme. It took us about an hour to walk up via the circuitous Eagle Scout Trail and the Nature Loop. Here are some pictures from the ascent, although not from the steep part - except for the one of the toad. The bird (black-and-white warbler I think) was spotted as we reached the top.

We spent a little more than ten minutes at the summit, admiring the views of the lakes, forests and Mount Washington in the distance. It's for everyone you know!

The trail down (the Ledges Trail with a small detour onto a marked but unnamed side-trail) took about fifteen minutes to the road, although it did take another ten minutes to walk down the road and along the driveway to the parking lot. The red squirrel played a kind of hide and seek with me - posing nicely and then hiding as soon as I pointed the camera in its direction. We all admired the cistern made like a giant barrel.

Total was a little over two miles and despite the steepness, humidity and the warmer than we expected weather, everyone declared it to be "So worth it!" so it was a hit.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Day 8.155: Exile #2's Sunday Column #61

Exile #2 writes...

Having (shock, horror!) been to the mall yesterday, we thought we needed some recovery time today. So, after church, we crossed I-95 (which seems to be the line beyond which most vacationers do not stray) and headed into the hills. Exile #1 had found us a mountain to climb.

When we arrived, it was a little hot and humid but nothing to what it can be in the summer, so we set off up the trail. It started mildly enough but I think we can say that the final section was true to its description as "steep". We made a small circuit at the top, catching tantalizing glimpses of the view through the branches. E5N1, who was map bearer, was very excited that on the map it promised a stone tower at the summit. He and Exile #3's imaginations went to work, picturing a crumbling moss-covered edifice. Turns out they weren't too far off. OK. So, maybe it wasn't much older than the rusting pick up truck we found in the woods near the parking lot but it was an exciting reward for a tiring climb and best of all, gave us beautiful views over Sebago Lake and the surrounding mountains.

We took an alternative route down and as if we'd found a secret magical passageway, seemed to take 10 mins to walk down what it took us 90 minutes to walk up. After that, it was time to go home and prepare for the last full week of school.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Day 8.154: Ear ear

Today, we made our once-or-twice per decade trip to the mall where we made good on Exile #4's birthday present.

It started with very nervous perching...

and ended with a happy girl with earrings.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Day 8.153: A normal day at the bay

When we went to the trolley museum, E5N1 bought a reusable sticker picture set. This creation caught Exile #2's eye and then mine:

There's so much to like - the swimmers, the girl with the dog, the extravagant sandcastle and casually discarded bucket, the busker, the curiously positioned readers, then you notice the water-skier and wonder who is pulling him - is it the dolphin or could it be the passenger jet - aargh - watch out - there are two planes!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Day 8.152: Eleven on the eleventh

It was a slightly subdued Exile #4 who opened her presents before breakfast. We didn't think too much of it, just putting it down to Thursday morning tiredness.

However, as she was putting the birthday cake in the oven, Exile #2 got a call from school and went to pick up a slightly sick birthday girl. She rallied after a restful day and was able to enjoy her cake in the end - decorated with eleven candles and some genuine British Maltesers (imported by Exile #2's parents).

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Day 8.151: Look who it is!

One of these people...

Has a birthday tomorrow.

So I had better get to bed so I can be ready to celebrate with her.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Day 8.150: Seashore Trolley Museum

This evening we went to Exile #3's school to hear her sing in the chorus (choir) and to hear her classmates play in various bands and ensembles. It was an excellent night - even though the weather meant that the concert was in the hot and humid gym instead of out in the fresh air (we would have got away with it, but the thunderstorms were threatening). It was a great way to spend our last evening with Exile #2's parents who leave tomorrow.

Here are some more photos from our visit to the trolley museum that Exile #2 told you about on Sunday:

Monday, June 8, 2015

Day 8.149: York's Wild Kingdom

On Saturday, we visited York's Wild Kingdom - thanks to a generous voucher we received at Christmas from Exile #2's brother and sister-in-law. We shunned the rides on this occasion, to concentrate on the zoo which was a very high priority for E5N1 in particular.

But first, some unfinished business. The picture from Saturday contained an additional surprise in addition to Exile #3's matching earrings. One of the butterflies in the book was not actually in the book:

Here are some of the other things we saw:

The unimpressed monkey was watching the other three members of the family group fighting over a feeder while keeping one all to himself:

However, there were two other feeders - the mother (with her suckling infant) kept choosing one and as soon as she did the other young monkey would muscle in. She would wait patiently then leave to go to the other one, where moments later the youngster would arrive to continue the cycle. It was pretty hilarious to watch.

We also took some paddle boats out:

and my seat was extremely wet, so my, er, seat was wet for most of the rest of the day.

Our other amusement came from the prairie dogs who were, for some reason, in a recreation of the Battle of the Alamo

Once in a while one of them would do this:

It seemed to me that this photo was crying out to be turned into a meme, so I invite your caption suggestions. Here are a few that I came up with, but I'm sure you can do better (comment below and I will gladly meme them up)!