Friday, September 30, 2016

Day 9.264: Home improvements (two years in the making)

This is a view of our deck in June 2014 (Day 7.157 to be exact) - just after the hot-tub was removed leaving a concrete pad and a gaping hole in the railing:

And this was earlier today - with railing, stairs and even grass growing thanks to the organisation and hard work of Exile #2:


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Day 9.263: A little Google Photos magic

I'm really loving the automatic creations that Google Photos make, some of them are a bit weird, a lot of them are excellent and sometimes...they are very surprising indeed, like this one (created from some photos from our mid-coast road-trip last October:


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Day 9.261: Five years

Facebook informed me last week that it was the 5th anniversary of my first road race. It was a 5K and it was during my training for this 10K race (about a month later):

Since then, I ditched the knee braces, got some better shoes and shorts, got five years older and quite a bit faster.

It's fair to say that running has been a pretty big thing in my life (and generally a very good thing) for the last five years. Of course, right now, with four days, eleven hours and twenty-two minutes to go to my sixth marathon, I'd quite like to think about something other than running, but that doesn't really seem to be possible at the moment.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Day 9.260: Fight night

So tonight was the night to see if she could hold it together under pressure, keep her nerves under control, land some blows and dodge or deflect some others and maybe come out with a good result.

I'm talking about Exile #4's karate promotional test. You knew that right?

She did very well and now has a brown stripe on her green belt. I told her I could have bought some electrical tape and put a strip of it on her belt without all the fuss, but she seemed to think that wasn't the whole point.

Exile #2 and I also watched the first presidential debate. We survived that experience too.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Day 9.259: Exile #2's Sunday Column #144

Exile #2 writes...

Exile #3 has been waiting with great anticipation for sweater weather to arrive. However, on the first official day of fall this past week, shorts and t-shirt were still definitely in order. This weekend, it has begun to seem more plausibly autumnal and tonight, there is even a weather warning for frost in parts of Maine. Of course, for Exile #3 (who is part lizard) that means we are already past sweater weather and needing an extra layer on top.

Arriving with the fall, is the cold and snuffle season. Exile #3 is just done with one and E5N1 is lining up to take the next shift. Exile #1 is considering shutting himself in a hermetically sealed room until his marathon next Sunday. If you need me, I will be in the grocery store buying face masks, bulk packets of tissues, and Emergen-C.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Day 9.258: Littlejohn Island Preserve

We had a very nice outing to Littlejohn Island today where we walked the mile and a half or so of trails at Littlejohn Island Preserve and spent some time on the rocks on the shore.

The island is reached across a causeway from Cousins Island which in turn has a bridge from the mainland (in the town of Yarmouth) near where the midpoint of my out-and-back marathon is next weekend.

Here are some pictures  from the trails:

and some from the rocky shore (amazing number of shells seemingly sorted into categories by some fiendish ocean magic:

A few more photos with some explanation from top to bottom:

We were happy to find a parking space since there are only four and they are quite clear that there are no other options (although "Welcome! Enjoy" if you find a spot!). I was amused that one of the two intersections we had to navigate on Littlejohn Island was the intersection of Littlejohn Road and Littlejohn Road (yes really!) - I guess navigation isn't a big issue on a small island!

I was happy to see this Eastern Phoebe (even though we regularly see one in our back yard) - this one was quite obliging when it came to modeling today!

I don't know why the girls decided to carry each other - but they did it well! The last photo is a tree that must have had a thick vine tightly coiled around it that someone had removed (much to the tree's benefit I'm sure - but producing a very strange effect):

Friday, September 23, 2016

Day 9.257: Crying on the Marley

It was the first Open Marley night of the (school) year tonight and we were treated to some modern and tap courtesy of the dance teachers, a bit of E5N1's robot, some marvelous solos from a visiting dancer and choreographer from Brazil (read more about his visit here).

We also saw the debut performance of Exile #3's dance to Melanie Martinez's song Cry Baby (she used this clean edit) that she has been working on during the summer. Here she is crying on the dance floor:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Day 9.256: And now he'll peek at you

E5N1 wanted to be sure I saw his latest creation when I got back from my run on Sunday - so he left it just inside the front door. There I found Pikachu peeking at me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Day 9.255: As Nashville as it got...

My visit to Nashville was short and business-y. These were the exceptions:

1) The - previously mentioned - guitar themed artwork in my hotel room:
2) The hot fried chicken (half a chicken in two pieces, deep fried and coated in hot sauce) I had for dinner (three of us ordered it - only I came close to finishing - thanks marathon training!).

3) This store in the airport and the airport announcements about cool things to do in Nashville done by famous country music stars (and other celebrities quite possibly - how would I know?):

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Day 9.254: Early riser

I'm often up early in the morning. Usually it's running that gets me out of bed. Today, it was a flight home from Tennessee. After take off from Nashville, there were some lovely sunrise views:

But a few minutes later, some other views caught my eye:

Valleys filled with cloud - sometimes just tracing the path of a river, sometimes forming large networks:

It was quite diverting for quite a while.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Day 9.253: Guitars everywhere

I flew into Nashville International Airport earlier today with a hundred or so other people and at least four guitars (maybe more). I haven't seen much of Nashville or heard any live music but even my hotel room - in a chain hotel, well outside of the city has guitar-themed artwork. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Day 9.252: Exile #2's Sunday Column #143

Exile #2 writes...

Well, we made it through the first whole week of school, although we were very glad we had nowhere to be Friday night. However, to increase the level of challenge this week, Exile #1 is going to take himself off to Tennessee for a night. He says it's for work but maybe he's off to launch his country music career. Who knows?

I'm hoping to spend a little less time at the garage, having visited on 3 separate occasions last week with one car or another. Still, at least the staff know me by name now.

In other news, there is no longer a yawning gap in our deck railing, allowing unsuspecting visitors to drop off onto a concrete slab that used to house a hot tub. The slab is gone and we have a natty new set of steps to match the ones on the other side of the deck. Plus, it only took us 2 1/2 years to get round to it! Brilliant! I see some deck staining in the near future. Have a good week!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Day 9.251: What's wrong with this picture?

There are probably several correct answers to the question posed in the post title. Firstly, the camera work is not great - the photo is well off straight. Secondly, it's a picture of a bathroom, which no-one really needs to see.

However, I'd like to draw your attention to some details - in particular those relating to the "bathroom tissue" or "loo roll" if you're slightly less euphemistically inclined. The empty roll left on the dispenser, the full roll balanced on top, the packet left in the middle of the floor...

I wish I could say this is an isolated incident, but this photo was taken three weeks ago but I could have taken an almost identical one yesterday and probably several in between. I know the whole household has both the manual dexterity and know-how to actually change a roll successfully - so why oh why does this happen so regularly?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Day 9.250: My old friend (the loon)

When we were at Bug Light last weekend, I spotted this old friend:

I would hazard a guess that it's the same loon I saw there back on Day 7.015 and managed to identify, having seen it again in the same spot the next day. Nice to see it in its summer plumage again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Day 9.249: A busy evening and an unwelcome addition

This evening, we somehow had to get Exile #4 to and from a karate class while getting Exile #3 to and from a dance class while also going to the high school to meet the teachers while walking Exile #3's two daily schedules.

As if that wasn't enough, I discovered a little bonus addition to one of my front tyres:

Yes, that's a large screw with a big washer on it. Lovely.

Somehow we managed to fit everything in - including putting the spare wheel on. The trip to school fell to me. I decided to take pictures of the teachers to help Exile #2 also put faces to names. I managed to get photos of all the teachers who were able to attend. This is what I took in her health class:

I wasn't able to definitively rule it out, but I don't think that's her teacher. If it is, I'm not sure he's entirely qualified.

Day 9.248: All go at the ferry terminal

When we were at Bug Light at the weekend, we noticed another cruise ship (not quite as big as the last one we saw there) docked across the harbour with The Cat - the ferry that goes to Nova Scotia -  hiding in its shadow.

While we were there first The Cat and then Norwegian Dawn departed:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Day 9.247: Bird's nest fungus

We spotted these strange tiny blobs and cups on the mulch outside our front door the other day:

Probably Crucibulum laeve
It's not too hard to see why they are known as "bird's nest fungus".

Monday, September 12, 2016

Day 9.246: Flying penguin and panda

When we were done with the lighthouse visit on Saturday, we took the kite - presciently requested to be brought with us by E5N1 - out of the car and added it (after a few failed attempts to the ones already flying.

The panda was not actually a kite, but was "flying" on the lines up to the impressively large kite in the top right below. The penguin we were flying can be seen in two of the other photos - if you look carefully enough!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Day 9.245: Exile #2's Sunday Column #122

Exile #2 writes...

This morning was a busy one. Exile #1 took his last extremely long run before he starts cutting back in preparation for the Maine Marathon. I put on my very-rarely-worn teacher's hat to lead the first class of the season in Sunday School. Class sizes fluctuate wildly. Sometimes there are only a handful of kids. I thought I'd adjusted my expectations appropriately for it being the beginning of term. Still, even I was caught by surprise when 19 came through the door. It was definitely cosy!

It was so late by the time we got out, that we decided to go for lunch at our nearby favorite burger place. E5N1, Exile #3 and I placed our orders and found somewhere to sit while Exiles #1 and #4 placed theirs. When they arrived, Exile #1 seemed a little shocked. Turns out this was going to be our last Thurston's burger, as they are closing down today. It was a good burger. We will definitely miss them. Perhaps we need to start taking packed (bagged) lunches?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Day 9.244: Maine Open Lighthouse Day: Bug Light

The kids had quite a lot of homework to do in this first real weekend of the school year, so we didn't push it with a big outing, but we wanted to take advantage of Maine Open Lighthouse Day, so we headed off to South Portland to visit Portland Breakwater Light, universally locally known as Bug Light, although no-one seems to know why.

The breakwater used to be a third of a mile long and "nearly under water at high tide". Quite a walk for the lighthouse keeper on a stormy night. Eventually there was a house constructed at the end next to the light itself which overhung the breakwater on both sides!

Later, the shipyards expanded alongside the breakwater, shortening it almost to nothing. That area is now a park and the breakwater is just a hundred feet long. All this history and more can be read at the New England Lighthouses page about the light.

The building itself is about as short as a three storey* building could be (24 feet) and is made of cast iron. The light has just a 9 watt bulb, with an automatic changer in case of a failure all powered by a 12 V battery which is charged by a small solar panel.

Here are some pictures from our visit today - including the queues of visitors seen from inside and outside the tiny tower.

* Nearly ten years in I'm still discovering quirks of the two English languages - in US English they use "story/stories" instead of "storey/storeys" although they are more often called floors or levels in practice.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Day 9.243: Beach beaks

It's the season when the beaches are starting to be a bit less full of people - which also coincides with the big influx of migrating sandpipers which join the plovers along the tide line.

The other day, I was down on the beach early - with the mostly untouched sand left behind by the retreating ocean when I spotted these groups of holes. I don't know exactly what made them, but I'm pretty sure it was some of these small shore birds.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Day 9.242: Sometimes there's no sunrise

Once again, I was up before dawn to run before work, once again I headed to the beach and got there as the sun was rising. There wasn't much of a sunrise this time though thanks to the impressive fog that had descended overnight:

This week is scheduled to be another 70 mile week. Today I clocked up 20 of them in a 15 mile morning run and 5 miles while I was waiting for Exile #4 to come out of her karate class.