Thursday, March 31, 2016

Day 9.081: Freshman parents

Thursday evening has the most running around of all our evenings - with multiple overlapping things to get various kids to. Today it was made more complicated by Exile #3 having an extra after-school activity.

Naturally, we decided to make a bad situation - that had already been made worse - almost impossible by scheduling a meeting at the high school for parents of soon-to-be freshmen. We just about managed to get all the kids home and fed before we set out and we had a very enjoyable and informative evening including a tour from the headmaster.

The fact that he is the "headmaster" seemed so normal to me that it wasn't until I sat down to write this that I realised that he is not the school principal.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Day 9.080: PTC4E5N1

I was not able to attend E5N1's parent-teacher conference today, but Exile #2 tells me he got a very positive report. So we're quite proud of this not-so-little guy today.

He can also balance on a low fence.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Day 9.079: A picture tells a thousand* steps...

I challenged** Exile #4 and E5N1 to come up with one thing to sum up our walk and tell me what it was so I could take a photograph. Exile #2 decided to get in on the action and then E5N1 made a suggestion for mine, so here are all four:

  • E5N1's mossy tree
  • Exile #4's mud
  • "my" leaf
  • Exile #2's lichen.

* I don't know how many steps it was.
** Actually I blackmailed them, but I am true to my word.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Day 9.078: Ted Wells Memorial Trail

On Sunday afternoon, there was a fair deal of lethargy around the house, but somehow we managed to shake off our cobwebs and go out for a short walk. Actually, we left Exile #3 finishing her homework, but the rest of us went!

We walked the Ted Wells Memorial Trail which goes through some woodland behind a camp in Ocean Park to an overlook at Goosefare Brook.

The woodland looked like this (with lots of boardwalks):

Here is the overlook. We didn't need the signs to know this was wading bird habitat, but we didn't see any on this occasion. Still, it was a very nice walk and I have one more thing (well. actually four or five) to share about it, but I'll save that for another day.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Day 9.077: Exile #2's Sunday Column #100

Exile #2 writes...

Happy Easter everyone!

At this point in the day, I am feeling rather sleepy. We have enjoyed a very happy Easter, with a mixture of the following: Easter baskets, hot cross buns, sharing music with our friends at HopeGateWay, home for lunch and maybe a little chocolate, a little walk to blow away the cobwebs, some chicken noodle soup, and Paddington stories at bedtime. Lovely.

9 years ago at Easter, a certain E5N1 made his debut into the world (thanks to the oddities of Easter, it was in April that year but never mind). I was reminded of it today, when someone asked me how long we'd been in the US. E5N1's age is the easiest way of remembering and, once again, I was shocked at how long it has been. Today, however (also thanks to the oddities of Easter) it is Grandma's birthday - happy birthday, Grandma! Hope you enjoyed the day!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Day 9.076: Let's beach again, like we did last Easter...

...and the Easter before.

Apparently a chilly visit to the beach is becoming an Easter tradition. This is the second time we've gone on the day before. Last year, it was on Easter Sunday afternoon. This is what we got up to today in Old Orchard Beach.

Looking at the sea:

Taking an usie in the cold wind with a selfie stick:

Trying, and completely failing to roll a log down into the waves:

It was so cold and windy and with the tide fairly high, we retreated to the rather more sheltered street to walk back to the car.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Day 9.075: Good grief Friday

Monday (the first day of spring) being a snow day was an amusing footnote to winter, but today was almost indescribable.

I woke up fairly early as usual, but it soon became clear that going out for a run was not likely to be the safest option. The evening had turned to freezing rain which had continued on-and-off through the night and it was still below freezing and everything was nicely glazed. I thought that school might be disrupted and checked all the appropriate announcements, but there was nothing for us.

I had just finished warning the girls to take extra care heading out to the bus when all our phones rang simultaneously (home and two mobiles) - which only happens when the school notification system auto-dialer reaches our entry - and sure enough there was a rather last minute decision for a two-hour delay.

I made it safely to work and it was still icy (although not on the roads) when I came home for lunch:

In the afternoon, there was a brief spell when the ground started steaming, but the ice was still clinging to the trees when I left at the end of the day.

The evening brought us some family time (feels like the first time in a week) - we all sat down for a meal and then watched Shaun The Sheep - the Movie together which was pretty adorable.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Day 9.074: Throwback Thursday - droning about marathons

This video took around 9 months to be published and I just happened upon it yesterday.

It's drone footage of the marathon I ran last year. You can see me (white shirt, black shorts) at around 1:30, but apart from that it's a rather nice video giving a taste of what it's like to run a marathon along the coast in southern Maine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Day 9.073: Game of (Pokemon) Thrones

You never know what's going to happen when Exile #2, E5N1 and a box of Lego have some time on their hands.

On Monday's snow-day, it was thrones for Pokémon miniatures...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Day 9.072: Don't blame the groundhog!

I saw a few posts on Facebook yesterday pointing out that the groundhog did not see his shadow on February 2nd and therefore called for an early spring. In the context of a significant snow storm on the first day of spring, some are calling him out on a terrible prediction.

I am saying, "Not so fast!"

I've drawn some graphs to help out here.
  • At the bottom is the prediction the groundhog makes if he sees his shadow: not spring until spring, then spring.
  • Next is the groundhog-does-not-see-his-shadow prediction: not spring until "early" then spring.
  • Next is what people think should happen in the "no shadow" case: no spring until "early" then spring until summer comes along.
  • At the top is what happened this year: not spring until "early" then spring for a while before a relapse around the beginning of spring.

As you can see by comparing the green and the blue lines - what we got this year was entirely in keeping with the giant rodent's prediction.

The "seer of seers" also correctly predicted that I would at some point in early spring take something much too seriously. Probably.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 9.071: The first full day of spring...

...and it was a snow day.

I had a fairly quiet day at work, the kids had a lazy day at home and, thanks to them, Exile #2 had an anything-but-quiet day.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Day 9.070: Exile #2's Sunday Column #99

Exile #2 writes...

So, it's officially spring. With precision timing our neighbors have put up their decorative spring banner, and once again the younger Exiles have disappeared for long hours into the great outdoors but, this is New England, and you have to be prepared for anything to happen.

On Thursday, E5N1's swim lesson was canceled because of a thunderstorm. Tonight, we're bracing for a snow storm - not the 6-12 inches that was predicted at one point - but still a possible 3-6 inches. It's very confusing.

Meanwhile, the absence of the younger Exiles allowed for some tidying time, and this mysterious statement turned up amongst E5N1's many papers. I'm wondering if he's considering a last minute run for the presidency.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Day 9.069: Something Super Saturday

We can't remember exactly what this was about:

but we're pretty sure it was something super.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Day 9.068: Truth in advertising

Remember the post with the new view of the river I found last weekend? Well, it wasn't the only way I could have told that story.

 I could, for example, have said instead...


On Saturday, I took Exile #4 to a daytime event at the karate dojo and remembered that there seemed to be a new path open round the back of part of the mill complex by the Saco River. I took a couple of minutes to see where it led, only to find this rather disturbing view:

 Amazing what a difference pointing the phone camera through the fence makes!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Day 9.067: Saint Patrick

We've struggled over the years to get a handle on various American traditions. One of the more surprising ones is the wholesale embracing of St Patrick's Day.

Much to E5N1's dismay this morning, we had forgotten to set a leprechaun trap this year, so there was no tiny new friend, no gold and - most importantly - no candy. I did remember to wear my green shirt to work (although there is only about 50% observance - it was much higher at my last workplace).

We made up to E5N1 for the lack of candy (in part at least) by eating green cupcakes with tiny shamrock sprinkles at dinner time. You can't get much more St. Patty's Day* than that - except by adding some kind of alcohol consumption (oh yes, I did that too!).

* Yes in the US it's "Patty", in the UK and Ireland, "Paddy", but it's pronounced the same way in both places, so we'll let it slide.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Day 9.066: E5N1 on stage

We had a brief visit to E5N1's school this evening to see him (and a few of his classmates) perform in their 3rd Grade Chorus.

They did a great job!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Day 9.065: New view of the river

On Saturday, I took Exile #4 to a daytime event at the karate dojo and remembered that there seemed to be a new path open round the back of part of the mill complex by the Saco River. I took a couple of minutes to see where it led and saw this:

It wasn't clear if I could get much further, so I left it at that. Pretty cool though.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 9.064: The only good thing about the time change

Daylight Saving Time - yay! Or not. This morning we all had the joy of getting up and out of the house an hour earlier (by the sun) and at least an hour earlier (by our body clocks) thanks to the shift of the actual clock relative to these more meaningful measures of time.

Yesterday, I saw of my biggest week of marathon training with an 18 mile run (not the longest run) with 14 miles at marathon pace (only the race has more) and we still made it to church more or less on time (even with the hour time shift).

The only good thing about all of this was that I saw the sunrise for the first time in a few weeks as I was getting ready to run yesterday.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Day 9.063: Exile #2's Sunday Column #98

Exile #2 writes...

This morning we drove past Hadlock Field, the local baseball stadium, on our way into Portland and I couldn't help remembering how last year they were looking for volunteers to shovel snow off the field in time for the season opener in April. Today, a whole month ahead, things couldn't have been more different. The sun was out, the sky was blue and there was not a patch of snow to be seen.

Yesterday, we spotted signs of growth all over our yard (we'd suspected this might be happening from the snuffling of certain Exiles), and this afternoon, Exile #1 and I even sat out on the deck for a while (I was wearing my winter coat but even so...). We may not safe from the threat of snow quite yet, but it looks increasingly unlikely, and this weekend has been a lovely reminder of what is to come.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Day 9.062: In search of a lawn

This time last year, we would probably have been searching under a foot of snow, this year - with signs of spring everywhere - we were raking, seeding and watering.

The seeding was quick, the watering was handled by a pair of sprinklers. The raking was really the main event.

E5N1 helped by collecting piles of dead grass, moss and other raked-out debris and ferrying them to the leaf pile. It was a beautiful morning with temperatures around 50°F - what better way to enjoy it? and at least we were outside.

Only time will tell if we achieved anything, but until proven wrong, I'm going to assume we effected a complete transformation.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Day 9.061: Only the fastest can enter...

I'm currently registered for two races. The first is a marathon that I had to qualify for - even though only fairly fast runners can qualify for that one, the winners will be crossing the finish line while I am several miles away.

As of this morning, I am registered for another race that also attracts some of the fastest runners in the world. I didn't have to run fast to enter this one, but I did need to be fast - very fast - at registering. The online registration was open for just 3 minutes and 43 seconds before the race filled up!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Day 9.060: Surprise!

At this point, 41 miles into a 70 mile training week, it's surprising I'm managing to post anything each day.

Talking of surprises, here is a selection of photos that Google selects from my collection when given the search term "surprise".

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Day 9.059: Google Photos - beer edition

I was slow to give Google Photos a try. It took their announcement of the end-of-life of Picasa to persuade me to give it a whirl.

It's really pretty amazing. I just typed "beer" into the search bar for my photos and this is the first set of matches it generated:

There are a few false-positives (mostly completely understandable) but most of these photos do indeed include some kind of representation of beer. I can't help wondering if the game we played for a while matching photographic keywords with strangers around the world against the clock somehow contributed to this wonder of machine image recognition. Or maybe they just employ a lot of interns at the Googleplex?!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Day 9.058: Birds and waves

I'm not sure why these gulls were skimming the tops of the violent waves at the coast on Saturday, but they were quite efficient at it. It seemed like it wouldn't have taken much for one of them to have a closer encounter with the water than they were anticipating.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Day 9.057: Great waves, shame about the video

I really didn't do the waves justice with my still photography or this video.