Monday, October 31, 2016

Day 9.295: Calvin does Reformation Day

Once again, we encouraged the kids to come up with a group costume idea for Halloween (which is also Reformation Day when Martin Luther started the tradition of posting long theological thoughts on someone's wall). What they came up with was Calvin and Hobbes and one of Calvin's Snow Goons.  As usual, they wore it well and we had a very nice evening in our very Halloween-friendly neighborhood.

Based on our next-door neighbors' provisional count, numbers were down on last year at around 250, but it seemed we had a late surge after that - while Calvin took charge of candy dispensing duties.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Day 9.294: Exile #2's Sunday Column #149

Exile #2 writes...

Snow is creeping closer. Our Facebook feeds filled up this week with snowy photos from where we used to live in Albany, NY. The local forecasts were also full of talk about snow in the mountains and the north. None for us yet, though, just a lot of rain.

The pretty snow pictures were light relief from the election-related material also all over Facebook right now. Most of the people we know have been ready for it to be over for some months. Still, E5N1 enjoyed his Election Day at school, and was delighted when his favored candidate won (even if the overall result from schools across Maine went the other way). As therapy, I have declared it to be knitting season, and am currently working on a selection of neon orange hats for us all to wear hiking during hunting season.

We wait with some trepidation to see what will happen, but in the meantime we have tomorrow's long-awaited Halloween fun to distract us.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Day 9.293: Pumpkin time

The main event today was the carving our pumpkins for Monday's festivities. It was a full family affair - E5N1 carved one, Exile #3 started another and Exile #4 finished it once she had done her homework and Exile #2 and I did the third one.

In the end it was a set of suitably geeky, but relatively simple designs.

Along with some new orange lights and E5N1's class pumpkin that Exile #2 managed to rescue from a trip to the trash by being in the right place at the right time, it looks like we're ready:

Friday, October 28, 2016

Day 9.292: Sun dog?

There was little sign of the sun or any of its pets today - as we had a very wet and windy day. A few days ago however, this small rainbow spot in the clouds caught my eye:

It was clearly in completely the wrong part of the sky to be part of a normal rainbow - being near rather than opposite the sun. A bit of research suggests that it was probably a sun dog. Something new for me!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Day 9.291: They're growing up again

This happened in my office earlier today.

Always fun to see what has changed - and what hasn't!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Day 9.290: Catch number 10

On Saturday morning, E5N1 really wanted some company catching leaves as the last few fell from the tall tree in our front yard. He had caught his first three of the season the previous evening. I had caught one on a walk earlier. We both chased leaves until we had reached a season total of nine.

The I caught a tenth one and decided that was enough. So I got my phone out and watched E5N1's many failed attempts to equal my score until finally this happened:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Day 9.289: Election, winners

Today, E5N1 was serving as a worker for the school's mock election - he dressed for the occasion: smart with a hint of red, white and blue:

In other news, thanks to blog readers Deborah and Ilana for (via different routes) confirming that the readers of this blog are familiar with the literary classics by recognising that E5N1 and Exile #3 were dressed as Calvin and Hobbes. Now the trickier follow-up question - can you guess how Exile #4 will be dressed when she joins them on Monday?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Day 9.288: Twinsies!

We didn't plan it, but we rocked it!

P.S. No answers to the Halloween costume challenge from yesterday? Do I have to ask people on the book of faces?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Day 9.287: Exile #2's Sunday Column #148

Exile #2 writes...

It was nice to see the sun out again today, after two days of rain and thunderstorms. We made it to the early service at HopeGateWay, then dashed home again for some lunch and emergency raking, courtesy of our maple tree, before the afternoon's activities.

Early afternoon, we dropped Exile #3 and E5N1 off at their dance school for the annual Halloween party. To our surprise, not everyone was familiar with their costume this year. I wonder if you can figure out who they are?

Our next stop was at Exile #4's karate teacher's house. The school will shortly be relocating there, and it was a chance to check out the new teaching space. It was also a great opportunity to catch up with the family, and coo over their 3 month old German Shepherd puppy, who is all paws and ears.

All in all, it was a nice way to spend the afternoon as we tip forward into the crazy US holiday season.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Day 9.286: Pumpkin Harvest Festival

Today was the 16th Annual Saco Main Street Pumpkin Harvest Festival. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a rainy day, but with snow already showing up in the forecast for parts of the state, it wasn't enough to stop the fun.

In particular, we were there because Exile #3's dance company were leading a mob dance event - here the are getting ready along with a picture of E5N1 with his class pumpkin:

We had a great time watching the bed race too - somehow a very British-style event (especially in the rain):

Friday, October 21, 2016

Day 9.285: A bittersweet discovery

At the marsh last Sunday, we saw a bush that at first glance appeared to have three completely different types of berries growing on it. Closer inspection revealed that it was a vine growing climbing on a bush and the vine was American bittersweet that has these remarkable yellow berries that "hatch" to reveal their bright orange insides.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Day 9.284: Three go to Scarborough Marsh

There was a short gap early in the afternoon of the crazy rush-around that was Sunday. The girls were finishing up homework before going out to a church meeting and the rest of us were clearing up from lunch when E5N1 suggested that since the weather was so nice, we should go for a walk at Scarborough Marsh. Although he loves being out, he is usually reluctant when going out is suggested, so this was an opportunity not to be passed-up.

So the three of us headed out and it looked something like this:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Day 9.283: Night out in a good cause

We had a night out this evening. It looked like this:

We were playing for a charity night at b.good in Portland's Old Port who were giving 10% of the evening's takings to Greater Portland Family Promise - a new venture to bring together various faith groups in and around the city to volunteer to tackle family homelessness by housing families on rotation in their facilities. It's a great model that is working successfully in other cities and we hope will be up and running in Portland  this winter. You can support this effort by voting for a grant to buy beds here:

You can vote once each day for the rest of the month.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Day 9.282: The Bishop of Berwick

I posted this picture on Facebook last night, but it definitely bears a repost here.

That's me with the interesting jumper (sweater) and the acoustic guitar on the left. This was in late 1987 - the rehearsal for a fairly big gig with at least 4 acts that was the last time this band played together.

The cool-looking chap to the right with the electric guitar is - as of today - the Bishop of Berwick. We were close friends at school and college, but as you can probably imagine our lives took somewhat different paths after that. We last got together just before his previous job change when he kindly fitted us in to a trip during a sabbatical.

I'm sorry to have missed his consecration in York Minster today, but send him very warm best wishes as he starts his purple period (although perhaps not in the way that electric guitar might have suggested nearly 30 years ago!).

Monday, October 17, 2016

Day 9.281: Crazy kids at Saco Heath

Apple-picking and doughnut-eating must have gone to everyone's heads if this photographic evidence from our walk at Saco Heath on the way home is to be believed:

and this (courtesy of Google Photos Assistant):

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Day 9.280: Exile #2's Sunday Column #147

Exile #2 writes...

You'd think we'd been living in the North East of the US for long enough now that we would have got blasé about fall. Not so. The phrase of the week has been 'look at those trees!', as we have entered peak fall foliage season. Even the most mundane of highway journeys are jaw-droppingly dazzling, and the trees seem to have arranged themselves so that no adjacent trees are quite the same color.

We haven't started raking yet, but we have started dealing with another side effect of fall - acorns! Whether the weather has been just right this year, or whether our tree thinks it's dying because of the summer's drought, I'm not sure, but it is an unusually bumper crop. I spent much of the week sweeping them from the driveway, the sidewalk and the road. On Saturday, however, we decided to try another method that we'd read about in a web article that may have been called, 'Help! I'm drowning in acorns' or something similar. Their solution - a shop vac! Exile #1 and E5N1 slurped up two large loads of them and we now have a brief respite until the next batch comes down.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Day 9.279: Picking apples at Libby Farm

After we insisted that we couldn't possibly spend this beautiful fall day inside, the kids were all very keen to go apple picking. This met some resistance from their parents who were for some reason caught up on the fact that no-one in the family is very consistent about actually eating apples - but apparently that's just a detail that has little-to-no bearing on the autumnal experience of going to an orchard to pick apples.

This year, we went to Libby Farm in Limerick and had a very nice time (including a ride in a golf cart to the apples of our choosing, a long-stick apple picker):

Also enjoyed (by all but Exile #2) but not pictured: some doughnuts.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Day 9.278: Clothing confusion

Why is E5N1 still in his school clothes at bedtime?

Alternatively, why did he go to school in his pajamas?

Life with kids can be very confusing at times.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Day 9.277: Rockland harbor in the mist

On Saturday morning, we were getting ready to leave our hotel room when I caught sight of the mist in the harbor. Realising it probably wouldn't last long I grabbed my camera and rushed down there. Over the next ten minutes or so the mist cleared and we saw the moored boats appearing  and an impressive sailing boat arriving:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Day 9.276: First Friday in Rockland

Having planned to arrive for our mini-break in Rockland on Friday afternoon, Exile #2 was checking to see if the new art gallery, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, that she wanted to visit would be open. She discovered that not only was it open, but open late and also free entry because it was "First Friday", so we were not going to miss this opportunity.

It turned out that they also had refreshments in their courtyard (including a fire pit and s'mores ingredients) but also live music too.

We didn't stay long because we had an appointment with dinner. After dinner, Exile #2 suggested we should see if the Farnsworth Art Museum also had free entry for First Friday - and they did - as well as more refreshments and live music.

Their special exhibition at the moment is of art depictions of disasters - and in the library they had two Halloween-themed disaster backgrounds set up for selfies. E5N1 and I enjoyed both:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Day 9.275: Higgins Mountain

The first stop on our one-night vacation in the midcoast was at Higgins Mountain Preserve. This is a small but beautiful and varied packet of land with a single half-mile loop. Probably not worth the trip from here (an hour or so) just for the short walk, but definitely worth the 15 minute detour from our route to Rockland.

The trail was steep in places, but not really difficult and the view of the distant sea was a nice pay off at the mid-trail summit.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Day 9.274: Back, in the water

As Exile #2 mentioned, I injured my back yesterday and that put something of a spanner in the works of our plans for today. We had planned to head into New Hampshire for a hike in this perfect fall weather, but instead I was restricted to fairly static activities.

In fact, my back is much improved and I'm hoping to be able to have a fairly normal day albeit with a little extra caution in bending and twisting. We shall see.

For today, I had to console myself that at least my vacation day meant that I could take E5N1 to his swim class and see his progress. He's now quite confident around the water and able to look quite convincing doing lengths of the main pool using a variety of simplified strokes.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Day 9.273: Exile #2's Sunday Column #146

Exile #2 writes...

We meandered home from our trip to Rockland, with detours for leaf peeping and food,

 but we made sure to be back so that Exile #3 could attend her first Homecoming Dance.

Like most things we encounter for the first time here, I was familiar with the name but not really the concept. Turns out homecoming relates to the first match of the season played at home by the high school football team. It's an all day event, with parades and floats and food (particularly for Exile #3's school team, who are pretty good), in addition to the match. The day is rounded off with a fancy dance in the evening.

It went on fairly late, so today we took it easy. In fact, Exile #1 ended up taking things a little easier than intended after putting his back out this morning. We are hoping he'll bounce back enough to enjoy his other day off tomorrow, but he's still a little immobile this evening. I am just relieved the marathon was last weekend.

We did manage to wish a very birthday to my Mum, however. who is celebrating a milestone today (21, of course). Happy birthday, Mum!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Day 9.272: Vacation bear

We're back from our mini-break in Rockland. Last time we were there was almost exactly a year ago with my parents. This time, our travel bear friend, Deli, came with us. I'll tell you about our trip in due course, but this was what the best bits of his trip looked like: