Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Day 9.234: Sunrise and a fresh start

My day started before dawn with a run down to the beach, along the beach, back from the beach. The reason is marathon training, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the view - and take a few photos. Here is one of them:

The rest of the day, was about Exile #3's first day of high school. Confusingly, she is a "freshman" - which nobody here seems to find strange at all (her included).

She seems to have had a good day and - although day two of school is tomorrow - she isn't really expecting classes to start in earnest until after the long weekend. Exile #2 and I also had a visit to high school this evening for a BBQ and introduction to the staff who will be interacting with "Class of 2020" during this year. It's exciting and a little bewildering for us all.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Day 9.233: That hair: cut!

Exile #3 had her hair cut yesterday. It isn't what most people would call short, but it's quite a change as you can see from the before-and-after pictures:

In probably-related news, tomorrow is her first day of high school - yikes!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Day 9.232: Bradbury Mountain State Park

As Exile #2 mentioned, we hiked at Bradbury Mountain State Park again yesterday. This was the first time. Once again, we enjoyed the shady trails and the views. Exile #2 pointed out that you can see the ocean (see top left photo). It was also fungus season - we saw quite a few varieties.

The bottom-left photo is not a fungus, but an acorn plum gall. E5N1 and Exile #4 found one under our oak tree a week or so ago, but we saw a lot yesterday, They are solid - formed by the oak tree in response to a wasp egg - the larval stage of the tiny wasp occurs inside the gall gradually eating the inside of it until ready to pupate.

When we made it down, the girls tried the swings, but - once again - they seemed to have some difficulty operating them correctly:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Day 9.231: Exile #2's Sunday Column #120

Exile #2 writes...

For day 3 of the staycation, it was time to balance out the city excitements of Boston with somewhere a little greener. We decided to revisit Bradbury Mountain, which is a relatively gentle hike but has a fairly decent view at the summit. It was a warm ascent, but much of the hike was shady and there were some pleasant breezes here and there.

We stopped for a tasty lunch at the cheekily named Buck's Naked BBQ, but Exile #1's real ambition for the afternoon was to get into Portland for some of the limited run Wild Maine Blueberry Sorbetto at our favorite, Gelato Fiasco. To justify this indulgence, we parked at the top of the town and walked in along the promenade, which was bustling with bikers and walkers.

Everyone's attention was on the frankly enormous cruise ship that was in dock. We stood for a while and watched people on board climbing on a rock wall. Up on the top deck, a giant arm kept lifting an observation pod high above the ship.

Mostly, however, we stared at the astonishing number of cabins and tried to guess how many people were aboard. About 3,500 turns out. Fortunately, they were getting ready to set sail again so they weren't in Gelato Fiasco. The blueberry sorbetto was though, and the small taste I had of it was delicious.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Day 9.230: A mermaid, dancing

Another busy stay-cation day started with my long run (19 miles before breakfast). We spent most of the morning at the beach - where we swam, walked, played and created a sun-lounging friend:

In the evening, Exile #2, Exile #3 and I went to see the dance company from the dance school's ten year retrospective - featuring one dance from each year - some danced by the current company members and others by two other local dance companies. It was great - here are the dancers and the choreographers who were there for the show:

One more day of adventures, then back to work.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Day 9.229: New England Aquarium

Today was the first day of our long weekend stay-cation. We had a day out in Boston today. The main event was a visit to the New England Aquarium which was pretty wonderful.

Below you can see (amongst other things): some tiny seahorses, a giant sea turtle, a piranha, E5N1 helping a sea turtle, a sea lion playing to a crowd, the top of the enormous multi-floor sea tank, two penguins having a moment, a fish with apparently huge eyes that E5N1 loved, a big eel and a lot of jellyfish.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Day 9.228: How to fill your pockets with sand

E5N1 found that half an hour or so of doing this was a very successful (and fun) method of filling his pockets with sand.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Day 9.227: Two more trips to the beach

We all went to the beach again today - but not together. My trip was during a 15 mile pre-breakfast run. I paused for long enough to take these:

Whether any photos were taken when the rest of the family had their visit while I was at work I don't know. What I do know is that E5N1 managed to come home with his shorts pockets laden down with an astonishing amount of sand. Exile #2 was so amazed, she stopped emptying them so I could witness it for myself. Sure enough, it was like a tennis-ball of damp sand in each of the four pockets. Although we wouldn't put it past him to have stuffed it in there on purpose, there is another explanation, but that will wait for another day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Day 9.226: Beach (after the bear)

After we took some photos, Deli decided to return to the car for a sit-down, but the rest of us went for a walk until after the sun went down.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Day 9.225: Deli on the beach

Back on Day 6.354, we had visitors (as you can see), but there was one more visitor. A bear named Deli who was about to set out with his owner on a world tour. Today, we opened a package from that friend - with Deli inside.

The note he was packed with says,
Enjoy! [E5N1], you may not remember, but when you first met him, you really wanted to keep him :)
He's the traveling bear! He's been to six continents and counting...
Take pictures!

Why wait? We decided he needed to see Saco Bay...

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Day 9.224: Exile #2's Sunday Column #119

Exile #2 writes...

High school sports are already kicking off, even before the school term begins (did we say sport is a serious business here?). We don't have a competitive sportsperson in the house but karate has already resumed for Exile #4, and Exile #3 is out this evening auditioning for her dance school's junior company.

She is also counting down the days until she starts High School. Her first day of school is August 31st, almost a week before the other young Exiles go back. Her timetable/schedule arrived this week, and she swiftly disappeared to begin texting her friends. Tomorrow we take delivery of a fancy and surprisingly expensive graphing calculator that she has to have for math, and supply lists will follow later (we've already stocked up on notebooks, binders, and folders with prongs for the others). To add to the excitement/trauma of the first day, she will be having her school photo taken, along with a photo of the whole intake - the class of 2020 as they will be. I'll leave you to insert your own vision-related comment here.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Day 9.223: Party time - excellent (weather)

We were invited to a summer party today at the home of one of my colleagues. We had a lovely time. It was almost perfect weather - warm and sunny but not too hot. E5N1 ran around and got wet in a water fight and enjoyed his first NERF battle, but also enjoyed hanging out in the tree-house with some of the quieter kids. He and Exile #4 helped to destroy the piƱata and the rest of us just hung out - ate and drank and had some nice conversations.

(It looks a bit like we were alone - there were lots of other people there, but I decided not to post photos of other kids.)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Day 9.222: A Victorian pitcher (or two)

At the beginning of our visit to Strawbery Banke, we walked through a Victorian garden and its greenhouse where we spotted two instantly-recognisable yet quite different pitcher plants (top left with the hanging traps and - like the ones we can see near here - bottom right).

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Day 9.221: The bridge to Maine

After our trip to Strawbery Banke, we were ready to cross back over the Piscataqua into Maine via the Memorial Bridge, when it was time for it to open to let some ships through. There were no complaints about the wait, even though it took a little longer than this:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Day 9.220: Dog down on the beach

As well as the sunrise, I saw a dog...

... and someone doing yoga down on the beach. It was actually their warrior pose that caught my eye.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Day 9.219: Hard-earned sunrise

This is the second week of a rather short marathon-specific training cycle for me. My race is in a little more than six weeks. The last few days have been fairly full-on, 16 on Saturday, 8 on Sunday, 8 on Monday and 12 this morning followed by 4 on the trails after work while Exile #4 was in her karate class. I get to take a day off from running tomorrow.

Getting up before dawn to run 12 miles before breakfast does have its compensations however - like these views for example (it was a little after sunrise by the time I got to the beach):

and, as Exile #2 regularly reminds me, it is all self-inflicted anyway.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Day 9.218: Eggplant and Liberty cabbage

Although we are often chastised by the kids for calling it "aubergine", we are reasonably comfortable with it being known as "eggplant" here by now, but never has one lived up to its US name as effectively as this one that Exile #2 spotted in one of the gardens at Strawbery Banke:

Later in the day, it was Exile #3 who pointed out the "Liberty cabbage" - a re-branding of sauerkraut - in this wartime kitchen:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Day 9.217: Exile #2's Sunday Column #118

Exile #2 writes...

Our summer has been pretty low key since our trip to the UK, with a dusting of classes and camps to keep things moving along. We are still hoping that we can manage a mini vacation before the the young Exiles go back to school, but in the meantime, we managed a couple of fun day trips this week.

On Wednesday, I revisited the Maine Wildlife Park with the young Exiles and yesterday, we all enjoyed a trip to Strawbery Banke. It was very engaging, and I appreciated the efforts of all those who defended this historic neighborhood, when so many were being cleared to make way for modernization (looking at you, Albany, NY ;) ). We loved the walk through history. The earliest house dated back to 1695 - one of the earliest surviving settlers' houses in the US. Another house had been preserved in two halves to show how it would have looked originally and how it looked in the 1950s, when it was last inhabited.

All of the houses had friendly docents ready to share information or answer questions, but in one or two of the houses were actors in period costume. I've experienced this a few times (and sometimes dread it!) but these ones were great. We particularly enjoyed talking to the daughter of the tavern keeper, who was a little concerned about whether we were loyal to the king when she heard our accents (the tavern name had recently been changed to reflect changing attitudes towards the British).

We also enjoyed talking to a member of a Russian-Jewish family from the 1920s, as she baked banana bread and prepared challah. E5N1 found these actors fascinating. I appreciated their focus, sustaining their characters whatever questions came their way.

Definitely a grand day out.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Day 9.216: Strawbery Banke Museum

Late last night we looked at the weather forecast for today - it looked pretty bad - then we realised that was for home and our planned day out was in Portsmouth, NH - that was even worse. So as we went to bed we had given up on our plan and were trying to come up with another option.

After my run this morning I said, "It's not bad out there at the moment - we should probably check the forecast again." I'm glad I did, because the forecast was by then just mixed and in reality it turned into the perfect day for our trip - mostly sunny and not too hot.

Our destination was the wonderfully named Strawbery Banke Museum - Strawbery Banke was the name the first British settlers gave to the town that would eventually grow up to become Portsmouth New Hampshire. The museum is a whole neighborhood of buildings rescued and restored to tell the history of the area. Each home that is open for visiting has a flag hanging outside. Exile #3 noticed that they were each a U.S. flag from a different era - and indeed they matched the time period that the home had been restored to and staged in. The history stretched from the 1950's (see below - bottom left - with the ashtrays) back to 1777 - where the flag outside the tavern had the stripes for the thirteen colonies, but a union flag rather than anything star-spangled in the corner - and then, even further, to the turn of the 18th century - where we posed with the flag outside the oldest building on the site (see below).

The museum had a bit of everything - historical architecture, furniture and artifacts of course, but also examples of the detective work that goes into restoring the buildings, role-playing actors, demonstrations, hands-on exhibits and a cafe with very nice made-to-order sandwiches. We all had a great time.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Day 9.215: Technical problems...

...or human error? Who can tell?

On our recent visit to the Portland Museum of Art, E5N1 was quite excited to spot the offices of WCHS6 out of the window. I wasn't sure at first why - then I realised it was our local NBC affiliate - which, thanks to their carrying of the Olympics coverage, has been playing a larger part in our lives for the last week or so.

For some reason, when I tried to get a quick photo, my phone went a bit strange and captured these instead:

And now I'm sure it must be time for bed so that I can get up and run my long run on Saturday morning.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Day 9.214: Terns at Timber Point

Back on Day 5.184 - while visiting Maine from our home in New York, I took a favourite photo of a tern turning for a dive into the shallows off Crescent Beach State Park. Rather more recently, on Day 9.202, we once again got some lovely views of terns fishing as the tide turned.

We also saw them feeding their young who waited patiently on the rocks (see the bottom right) until their parent came along with a fish in its beak (see centre right) when they would make a huge din until the too-fast-for-my-camera-skills moment of the fish-transfer would happen and the adult would return to the hunt.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Day 9.213: Feeling British on a grey day in Gray

While I was at work, Exile #2 took the kids to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. When I asked how it had gone, she replied that they had felt very British.

As I pondered what kind of cultural or social misstep had led to this she revealed it was because they had shown up on this rather grey day (after a couple of weeks of almost continuously clear skies) well prepared with rain coats.

Exile #2 and Exile #3 - presumably predicting my ire if not - took some photos. Here is a selection:

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Day 9.212: Pokemon lo!

Just before he left for camp last week, E5N1 brought these to show me - his Lego versions of three Pokemon with their models:

Gotta love them all! In this case deprivation (of a phone and a certain Pokemon app) was the mother of creation.