Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 9.142: Last evening

Here are a few pictures from yesterday evening. I've never been comfortable using the phrase "last evening" in that context for some reason. In this case it was the last evening we spent with this young lady showing how it's possible to sit on all three chairs at once.

We also had hickory smoked steak sandwiches (with onions and peppers) and s'mores. The kids made one last toasted marshmallow each to round out the holiday weekend. Exile #4 set fire to hers (she prefers it that way), while the others went for a more delicate browning and melting.

Our guests left this morning with plans for some minor detours during the day. I would hope they are home by now. Until next time...

Monday, May 30, 2016

Day 9.141: Goodbyes are hard

Our friends are not leaving until tomorrow morning, but for the kids with school in the morning there were goodbyes at bedtime. We have had a great time and there were tears from some at having to say these farewells.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Day 9.140: Exile #2's Sunday Column #109

We tested our youngest guest to the max today, with a long visit to church, followed by a late lunch. She was delightful, however, taking it all in her stride (sometimes literally), and managing to charm everyone.

After all the excitement, she was definitely ready for her lunchtime nap, when it finally came!

We decided against heading anywhere else as the temperatures had turned somewhat chilly, but headed home for a nice cup of tea and some board games. We may need a wet weather option for tomorrow, as the forecast is for a "tropical storm". Even the Memorial Day parade has been canceled in favor of an indoor ceremony. I'm sure we'll figure something out.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Day 9.139: Holiday weekend in Vacationland

Our friends M, B and L are visiting from New York - not from our old haunts upstate but from the city. 

We had a rather nice day - and were not alone in using this first hot day of the year to visit the beach. In our case Ferry Beach State Park for paddling, sand castle building and a walk in the woods. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Day 9.138: 4 men and a whole lote of drawings

E5N1 writes...

Editor's note: we particularly liked "Amoge Man" and the belly button label. How about you?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Day 9.137: A moose!

We have travelled to the middle of moose country and driven and cycled down quiet country roads but I was just a mile from home - on my way to collect Exile #3 from her dance class when I saw my first moose in the wild today. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Day 9.136: Bendy bones?

For his birthday back in April, E5N1 received a set of science experiments. A few days later, after a roast chicken dinner he reminded us that it was the perfect time to try one - finding out if chicken bones can be made bendy.

The instructions said to clean them and then soak them in vinegar "overnight or longer".

We opened the jar and tried the bendiness a few times, but it took until the other day - about five weeks - for the biggest bones to pass the test:

I suppose that qualifies as "overnight or longer"!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Day 9.135: Clifford Park: water, fall

I visited this waterfall again while running the trails. There had been some rain during the day - both making the waterfall a little more watery and the trails a bit slick. I just about managed to stay on my feet on the trails and walking out over some stepping stones to take this photo.

Walking back across the stones, I still managed to stay on my feet, but my feet did not stay on the stones.  I may have been hurrying to escape the mosquito swarm I was attacked by while putting my phone away.

Still, the trails were fun even with wet socks and the waterfall was pretty - and I got some good exercise.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Day 9.134: Maine State Museum

I know you've been on the edge of your seats since Saturday's cliff-hanger!

We visited Augusta, the state capital, where we saw the State House (as pictured on Saturday) and visited the Maine State Museum.

It's a great museum and we had a very enjoyable visit. Not surprisingly, it is dominated by fishing and logging and related trades and includes a multistory replica of a water-powered woodworking mill. Pictured below: good  use of overhead space, a winter logging sled vehicle, making clapboard on a fancy saw jig and the running order at the "theatre":

E5N1 particularly enjoyed pressing buttons to play recordings of the sounds associated with the exhibits, honking an old car horn and flushing an old-fashioned overhead cistern (with simulated sound) - did you spot the pattern there?

My favorites included these hunting spears - with launchers and replaceable tips and this working washing machine with a fascinatingly simple but clever mechanism to make the insides turn first one way and then the the other as the handle is turned continuously in one direction:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Day 9.133: Exile #2's Sunday Column #108

Exile #2 writes...

Today, Exile #3 and I played hooky from HopeGateWay to endure our least favorite place - the mall. She was hunting for a semi-formal dress for promotion (Middle School graduation). We had an encouraging experience at the first store, finding a dress that was acceptable, if not thrilling, so we asked for it to be put on hold. We spent the next hour or so traipsing up and down with increasing bewilderment at the odd confections on offer - sequins and ruffles and bling, oh my!

One of the early results that a Google Image Search for "eighth grade promotion dress" generates.
This is not what she will be wearing.
In the end, of course, we found one in the very last shop we tried (on a whim) and it wasn't even the dress that caught our eye and persuaded us to stick around long enough to make it to the fitting rooms. It's simple, black and white and looks very nice on - phew!

On Friday, it was Exile #4 and I that were out and about for the slightly less fun reason of going to the doctor to follow up on her ER visit. It was a little more exciting than expected, however, as soon after we checked in, the power went out. It caused a flurry of activity as the staff worked out what was still functional. My favorite moment, however, was when the supervisor came by to check on everyone and in all seriousness asked, 'Do you remember how to use paper?'

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Day 9.132: Day trip

We had a day trip today to somewhere only one of us had been before. Do you recognise (or can you guess) where we were?

We had a great time and even managed to get a few chores done when we got home.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Day 9.131: Dam - good engineering

Remember the beaver dam? No not the beaver, the dam (they are in quite different places). This morning I got a different view of it. The water level has dropped a bit, but that only reveals more of the amazing feat of engineering.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day 9.130: New York, New York

Here is Exile #4's piano performance from the recital on Sunday. I think all the students did duets - although some did individual performances too - it seemed to bring out the best in them.

(although I have difficult watching this without become fixated on the fact that this church seemed to have sung hymn number zero during their morning service that day).

She also received her "All-in-a-minute" trophy for managing to complete a note recognition exercise with flashcards she has been working on since we moved here within sixty seconds.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Day 9.129: A shipwreck by Jane Eyre by Exile #3

I've never read Jane Eyre, but Exile #3 is studying it at the moment and one of her recent assignments was to reproduce one of the paintings that Jane describes in the book. It's probably safe to say that this played to her strengths, but she did a rather wonderful job.

The description [from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë] is as follows:
The first represented clouds low and livid, rolling over a swollen sea: all the distance was in eclipse; so, too, was the foreground; or rather, the nearest billows, for there was no land. One gleam of light lifted into relief a half-submerged mast, on which sat a cormorant, dark and large, with wings flecked with foam; its beak held a gold bracelet set with gems, that I had touched with as brilliant tints as my palette could yield, and as glittering distinctness as my pencil could impart. Sinking below the bird and mast, a drowned corpse glanced through the green water; a fair arm was the only limb clearly visible, whence the bracelet had been washed or torn.
Here is Exile #3's rendering:

It came back yesterday with the highest possible grade and one other comment written on the back by her teacher, "Can I keep it?" so, having given me the chance to see it and take this photo, she returned it to him today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Day 9.128: Trail shoes and a waterfall

It has become something of a joke how many running shoes I buy when I'm training. Running 50-70 miles a week has its costs (both in money and time). I do a pretty good job of buying them cheaply however (just as well when full price would be $100 - $200 per pair!). My latest purchase was some trial shoes for my now-regular Tuesday evening running of the trails in Clifford Park.

Today, I found the waterfall there for the first time:

I enjoyed the trail along the brook, had a pretty good workout, and the shoes did a good job.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Day 9.127: How much wood?

As I was running this evening, I heard a commotion in the long grass to the side of the road. It seemed to be something moving parallel to my path at about the same speed so I looked over. Most often when I do this I see nothing, most of the rest of the time it's a squirrel.

Today I saw it at the same time it saw me and we both stopped to take stock of the situation. I pulled out my phone, but this is the best I could get even though I could see it fairly clearly:

which makes those recent photos of the porcupine and beaver all the more impressive. I'm pretty sure it's a woodchuck/groundhog.

As I was putting my phone away I accidentally took a lot of other photos - some of which made where I was running look much more exciting than it does in reality:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Day 9.126: Exile #2's Sunday Column #107

Exile #2 writes...

Phew! It's been another busy day. I got coated in paint with the kids at HopeGateWay this morning. We had a quick lunch, then rushed Exile #4 over to a nearby town for her piano recital. She was playing a duet of New York, New York with another student. It went very well, and her piano teacher kept the audience busy by asking us to write encouraging notes about each student's performance, that she could compile and give to them at their next lesson. In the US, British judges are always the unpleasant ones (a la Simon Cowell) but I thought I'd better play against type.

By the time the recital was over at 5 pm, we we were just about done, but Exile #1 and I gathered up our last ounces of strength when we got home, and got on with some jobs, he stripping some more boards on the deck, while I did some watering and put down straw to give the grass seeds a chance to grow on the verge outside our house. Right! When's the weekend?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Day 9.125: Sanding and burgers and photos...oh my!

We had such a busy day that the first photo I took was at 10:30 pm:

It shows some of the progress I made sanding the deck so we can re-stain it soon.

We also collected Exile #3 from a sleepover and then delivered her to the studio for three sets of photos in three costumes. E5N1 also visited for his hip hop class and a bonus photo wearing his robot costume!

After the photos were done I grilled some burgers and Exile #2 and I had a movie night (we watched Room - on TV).

Friday, May 13, 2016

Day 9.124: What the porcupine saw...

This was taken just after the photos of the porcupine.

...now you know why it's so amazing it didn't run away faster!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Day 9.123: Another large mammal

I was surprised to have another close encounter of the animal kind on my run this morning. I spotted a beaver climb down into the water and it was kind enough to swim around nearby while I got my phone out to take a few pictures:

Just as I was wondering if I could be sure it was a beaver and not a large muskrat, it slapped its tail on the water and dived briefly. I had heard of this behaviour but never seen it - but it nicely confirmed the animal's identity!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Day 9.122: Not how I planned to spend my evening

I was nearly home when my phone rang - Exile #2 telling me that Exile #4 was reporting some weird and disturbing neurological symptoms.

Nearly three hours later we were leaving the ER with these:

It is fair to say that Exile #4 has a family history of migraine, although neither Exile #2 nor I have had symptoms quite as disturbing as Exile #4's today. Suffice it to say that we are happy and relieved to have our daughter back home and quite her normal self this evening.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Day 9.121: A running encounter

This evening I ran the trails at Clifford Park again - having a very nice run over the more technical trails and a successfully following a route I'd planned in advance. I did not, however, see any wildlife more exciting than a squirrel and a mountain biker.

On Friday evening on the other hand, I ran a much more mundane route, but had this encounter:

Whether it was a bit dazed or just relaxed knowing I would not be willing or able to tangle with its quills, I don't know, but I was delighted to have such a close view of a porcupine in the wild.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Day 9.120: A breezy walk on the beach

When Exile #3's dance performance finished a bit earlier than we had allowed for on Saturday evening, we decided to take advantage of the low tide for a short walk on the beach.

It was cold and windy - as you might be able to infer from these:

We had a very nice walk though. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Day 9.119: Exile #2's Sunday Column #106

Exile #2 writes...

Happy Mother's Day to all who are celebrating today! Exile #4 had organized a very nice breakfast in bed for me this morning. To his delight Exile #1 was not involved in its preparation (beyond providing a taxi service to get ingredients). I was also the lucky recipient of a flowering plant, a bag of chocolates and some roses - wow! E5N1 proudly told me they were really cheap flowers but I think he meant he'd found a really good bargain. He was obviously trying to follow in my footsteps. For his Mother's Day card, which he made in school, he had to describe me and chose to include that I like really cheap coupons. I had no idea I was such a spendthrift!

After church we headed to Sea Dog Brewing Company for some lunch. It was bustling but we were seated pretty quickly in a lovely spot. We even treated ourselves to a couple of desserts (between us, that is, not each). All in all a very nice day.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Day 9.118: More dancing

Exile #3 danced four dances (one solo and the others with various combinations of the company) at this charity event this evening. It was a great event!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Day 9.117: Last dance

It was the last school dance of the year for the girls (and therefore the last dance of middle school for one of them).  Here they are all dressed up with somewhere to go!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Day 9.116: Robot (in PJs)

We were at the dance studio this evening while Exile #3 did a last minute rehearsal for one of the pieces she's performing at a charity dance event on Saturday after her normal class.

As we were getting ready to leave, I was given a surprise gift for E5N1, made by the studio costumier in response to the "robot dance" that E5N1 did at the last Open Marley night (to They Might Be Giants' Robot Parade [Adult Version]). She decided he needed a costume to go with my borrowed sunglasses, and here it is (hastily tried on after we got home and found him about to go to bed):