Monday, February 29, 2016

Day 9.050: No words...

Here's another, frankly inexplicable automatic creation by Google Photos...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Day 9.049: Exile #2's Sunday Column #96

Exile #2 writes...

It was the swiftest of flying visits, leaving early on Saturday and heading home this morning, but we had a lovely time eating, playing and chatting with some of our Albany friends (sadly not all, because time was so short). 

A few things had changed, but not too much. We did a quick drive-by of our former home, which has been spruced up a little. We were slightly surprised to see it sporting a festive plastic flamingo. Though I guess it's good to know they are continuing our tradition of keeping Christmas decorations up well into the New Year. 

The thing I noticed most was that it felt much easier to leave this time around, and although our old town still seemed familiar, it no longer felt like home. I think that's a good sign

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Day 9.048: The previous place of exile

We're having a brief visit to our old haunts in New York. Exile #4 is at a friend's birthday party sleepover and the rest of us are enjoying some expat hospitality.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Day 9.047: Open Marley take 2

We were back at the dance studio for Open Marley night tonight.

It was a quiet affair this time. Exile #3 did a dance she has been working on to the music of one of our songs and E5N1 was joined by his sister for his signature "robot" dancing to a bit of They Might Be Giants. We had an excerpt of a dance from the owner of the studio and two sisters from another of the studio families did a couple of dances they had choreographed too, so it was a lovely evening.

Here's a still from Exile #3's performance:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Day 9.046: Throwback Thursday - something wrong with these swings

Since Google announced that my photo-sorting software of choice Picasa is at the end of its life, I decided to give Google Photos a try. One of the unexpected benefits are the auto-generated "stories", panoramas and animations it creates.

This one, in particular is quite eye-catching:

It's from June 2011 for anyone looking for throwback details.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Day 9.045: And then returns

This morning we had a fresh inch or so of snow covering the ground (and the rubber chicken) once again, By the time I was out for my run it was already changing over to a little freezing rain and when I went to work, I would guess the temperature had got up to around freezing and the rain was the normal stay-liquid kind.

I didn't remember to take photographs until lunchtime, when the snow was starting to look a bit patchy (I tried to replicate yesterday's photos from memory):

With temperatures continuing to rise, and more rain to come, I imagine the bare ground will be back very soon, but it is a reminder not to bet on spring's early arrival.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Day 9.044: When the snow retreats

This is a dangerous time of year. As the snow retreats:

it's all to easy to believe that it will then be gone for good and spring is coming. That might be true, or it might be a long way from the truth, only time will tell.

It's also a time when buried items emerge from under the snow that has blanketed the ground for weeks. This is not unusual. What is unusual is spotting something like this:

I did a double take, thinking it was a dead baby bird. Then I realised it was much weirder than that.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Day 9.043: Master of trains

Exile #2, Exile #3 and I had a game of Ticket to Ride (UK edition) on Saturday. None of us had a bad game, but it's safe to say that Exile #3's game went particularly well. She was quite pleased:

She scored more than 100 points more than Exile #2 which means she lapped her on the scoreboard and completed all ten of the route cards she kept - including many high scoring ones:

To put that in context, I spent the whole game completing just five.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Day 9.042: Exile #2's Sunday Column #95

Exile #2 writes...

We've come to the end of a relaxing vacation. I've built endless Lego scenarios with E5N1, the latest being a cookie factory.

There have been play dates and projects, plenty of board games (some home made), a bit of soaking in the almost spring-like sun, plus a movie or two. Exile #1 even got a day off, although the effects of that were somewhat diminished by his day trip to Philadelphia.

E5N1 has kept us amused, although not always intentionally. At dinner the other day, Exile #3 (who is becoming a bit of a punctuation pedant) was holding forth about colons. I think some mention may have been made of the "grammar police", and jokingly (I think) whether there needed to be government regulation of punctuation use. E5N1 chimed in "What, like the Department of Commas?" We all laughed appreciatively, at which he looked a little confused. "No, like the Department of Commas." He seemed insistent, as if this was a real thing. There was a moment while the cogs whirred, and then we realized, he meant the Department of Commerce.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Day 9.041: Pine Point Beach

Exile #4 spent the afternoon with a friend, so the rest of us went out for a walk on the beach. We shunned our normal haunts to visit Pine Point Beach. I'd been there on a couple of long runs, but it was new to everyone else. Of course, it's not really a different beach, just the far end of the stretch of sand most famous for Old Orchard Beach.

We saw some interesting sights including a man kite surfing (bottom right below) and another on a sulky (mid left). Also, for some reason, the high tide line was made up of almost exclusively large clam shells (below the sulky).

We also saw a clam shell that was still occupied in a small pool on the beach. My guess is that one of the many gulls will probably have found it in the several hours before the tide came to its rescue.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Day 9.040: Crafty company

Often on non-school days, E5N1 is first encountered already involved in a messy project. Sometimes - like on Monday - he manages to persuade someone to join him. On this occasion, both Exile #2 and I sat down and made some designs of our own while he worked.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Day 9.039: One day in Philly

A last-minute work trip took me to Philadelphia today. As work trips go, a day-trip is not too bad, even when it means 15 hours door-to-door.

Getting to see a few sights (at jaunty angles!) including Independence Hall as we drove through the city at least makes it seem like I was actually visiting the city and not just in airports and meetings.

I also saw the New Jersey shoreline, but I can't claim to have visited since it was literally a flyover!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Day 9.038: Hairy Bob's last stand

This was what was left of "Hairy Bob" on Monday:

He had fought the good fight for 16 days. On Tuesday he was buried in snow one last time, but then came his second day of warm rain and erased all evidence of him except his stick arms lying on the sad looking soggy grass.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Day 9.037: Force, gale

The day started with a couple of inches of snow to clear from the driveway with a nice crunchy layer of ice on top, so my exercise for the morning was clearing that instead of running.

My day at work was busy but not particularly newsworthy. Meanwhile, E5N1 put his Millennium Falcon t-shirt on  and went to a Star Wars Party at the local library. He seems to come over a bit Yoda:

Later, he veered to the dark side, and had a lightsaber battle with his sister:

This evening we've been inside watching the rain lash down driven by warning-level winds. After the crazy cold of the last few days it's 45°F and barely expected to dip below freezing tonight. Crazy!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Day 9.036: Inside in the warm

It's been a long weekend for me (in honour of Washington's birthday/President's Day/Presidents' Day/Presidents Day). It has been very cold and, although I got out to run in the cold of the morning and Exile #4 and E5N1 were kicked out of the house to burn some energy in the "heat" of the day, there has been a lot of indoor time.

One of the new discoveries of the weekend was Pictionary. It has long been languishing in the game cupboards of various houses, but it turns out to be a pretty perfect game now. We were not sure how well the youngest member of the family would cope, but E5N1 has been enjoying putting his cartooning and lateral thinking to good use and - perhaps most remarkably - everyone has been extremely good-natured in both success and failure.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Day 9.035: Exile #2's Sunday Column #94

Exile #2 writes...

As I've mentioned before, messages from the US government weather service are a vital source of safety information about extreme weather events. They are also an endless source of entertainment. When we moved to Maine, we were delighted to discover a whole new world of weather warnings relating to "high lunar tides" and "splash over".

This week, though, it's been all about the cold. We were advised to cancel any plans for hiking in the mountains for the following reason:



A fairly persuasive argument, I think. Even near us, we were warned that the wind chills could


However, I couldn't help feeling that they ended up sounding like me on a school morning with their follow-up suggestion:


Finally, in other news, we also received the following disturbing communication from the older Exiles' school.

"Swim meeting tonight in the SMS Library."

I don't think the librarians will be too pleased.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Day 9.034: Winter - making a late run

I took this on Tuesday after our latest fall of snow:

Honestly it was something of a relief to get some winter weather when it arrived in mid-January and although it's been nothing like the relentless storm-after-storm we had last year, it's been enough to make the place pretty.

Now comes the first really serious cold of the season. Tonight the temperature is expected to drop to -7°F (-22°C) with a NW wind meaning the wind-chill adjusted temperature will be -27°F (-33°C). It won't be much warmer when I'm due to go out for my run.

On Friday the National Weather Service issued a special weather statement warning us against heading to the mountains this weekend. It included a wind-chill adjusted temperature of -70°F (-57°C). Once it gets to the point where the temperatures look less shocking in °C you know it's cold!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Day 9.033: Forgive, the bumps on the head

Here is a recent piece of Exile #3's artwork:

Both the girls managed to get bumps on the head this week. Perhaps Exile #4 picking up a small bump while in an advanced karate class is not a huge surprise, but Exile #3 getting kicked in the head during her Modern Dance class was perhaps more surprising.

They both seem fine and don't seem to bear their "attackers" any ill will.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Day 9.032: Throwback Thursday - inland sand

Look at these three playing in the sand in the woods:

This was back on Day 1.198. We were on a short road trip to Rhode Island and stopped into the Ecotarium in Worcester Massachusetts on the way home (to New York). We did also visit a sandy beach on that trip, but certainly had no idea we'd be living so close to one a few years later.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Day 9.030: Flip!

You can call it Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras - I promise not to hold it against you - but to me it's Pancake Day!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Day 9.029: Ferry Beach State Park after the snow

The snow is piling up again outside. Today's is the very fluffy kind that blows around for days (as long as the temperatures stay at their current frigid levels) but let's not think about that right now.

Instead, let's think about the last fall of snow, which was the sticky kind that looks like icing on the trees and makes a great excuse to take the snowshoes out again (this time all five pairs) to Ferry Beach State Park to experience the magical world that the trails in the woods become after the snow.

Here are some photos from our walk there on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Day 9.028: Exile #2's Sunday Column #93

Exile #2 writes...

Despite the recent snowfall, Exile #1 headed off to Cape Elizabeth this morning for a 10 mile race. The rest of us supportively left him to it, and went to church. We regrouped at lunchtime, however, and he seemed pleased with how it all went.

This afternoon, we dusted off Pictionary and it turns out that E5N1 is rather good at it, being an avid cartoonist. He's also been busy putting together imaginary menus, illustrated with pictures from the latest Lakeland catalog(ue), which seems to reach us all the way from the UK.

On his latest menu, for your "Main Coarse" you can have the understated "Best Chicken Ever" or the "Awesome Omelette". Alternatively, you could have "Saceuge Pie" or, perhaps my favorite, "Eggy carrot salad with brocily, potato and squirted with lemon juice with lettech" - snappy! All this comes with "Loafed bread" or "Toasty toast with free jam". You are advised to save room for "French Fancis". Or perhaps you would prefer an apple? If so, the management would like it to be known that "the apples are 5 inches tall and 6 1/2 inches wide". A meal in itself.

Now, for the rest of the day, we'll be watching some local sporting event...

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Day 9.027: After the storm

A few days before yesterday's storm, all the talk was still about a possible storm on Tuesday and there was no expectation of anything significant before that, then suddenly (or so it seemed) on Thursday afternoon came the warnings that Friday's storm was going to be a little more than the dusting that had been expected.

Anyway, the kids were happy to have a snow day and I was happy to see how beautiful it was this morning:

We had a busy day involving haircuts, snowshoeing and a very nice dinner and a bit of board gaming with friends from Portland - all very good indeed.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Day 9.026: Fall follows spring?

It certainly felt and looked and smelled like spring yesterday as temperatures rose above 50°F and the last of the snow disappeared.

Astonishingly what was left of our impressive snowman just about held on. And then, this morning we had a surprise...

That the school called for a snow-day seemed to be overkill (except because they haven't used any yet and it's February), but by the time it was winding up just before dark we had six inches or so of heavy, sticky snow.

I was working at home after lunchtime so I could contribute to the snow-clearance rather than arriving home after it was completed and my view out of the window was this:

Suddenly it looks like winter again!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Day 9.025: Throwback Thursday - how old?

It was my eldest niece's birthday yesterday (Happy Birthday!) A few years ago (at our wedding), she was an adorable toddler, staying up way past her bedtime to dance into the night.

This is the first digital photo I have of her (from about 8 years later) with my sister and her sister:

The point being that yesterday she turned the same age that I was on my wedding day. Yikes!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Day 9.024: From super-skinny to snow stump

If I'm honest, he did rather better than I expected in 45°F rain.

We removed the "kit" items and once they are dry they can go away in the box for another day: