Saturday, December 31, 2016

Day 9.356: An extra 1.0000115 days

We saw the new year in with BBC Radio 2 live web stream at 7 pm EST again this evening:


Here at Exiles on a Maine Street, the new year is still 10 days away, but the rest of the time, the coming and going of the years affects us the same as everyone else and 2016 has had its share of joys and challenges just like any other year. If it seems to have been a bit longer than it should, that might be because it was. Not only was it a leap year, but just before midnight, we will have had 11:59:60 - a leap second - as if 2016 just couldn't resist one last moment of fame before passing into history.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Day 9.355: Lost and found

We woke to the buzzing of our neighbors' large snow blowers and quite a lot of snow:


It was quite pretty in the morning light:





But then our thoughts turned to the driveway - only marked by the trash cans that Exile #2 had paddled through the slush to take down there yesterday evening:


Not too surprisingly given the snow-rain-snow sandwich,it was quite heavy to move and not really within the capabilities of our little snow thrower although it did its best and lived to help another day.

It took us until lunchtime to declare the driveway passable, and until the sun was starting to go down again to achieve this:


Probably just as well we hadn't really planned to go anywhere today!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Day 9.354: Ocean-effect and the other kind

We started the day (the final day of my three-day work week) knowing that a storm was on its way. Expecting snow (mid afternoon), rain (evening) and then some more snow (overnight). Things took their first surprise turn when it was already snowing when I left for work.

It turned out it wasn't the storm arriving early, but some ocean-effect snow. We got an inch or so by lunchtime.

Sadly (but sensibly) our planned dinner-guests decided to stay home. By the time I was getting ready to leave for work we had had another inch or so of heavy snow:


but by then it was raining. When Exile #2 went to take the trash cans to the roadside at around 8pm, she had to venture out in heavy rain and wade through a few inches of slush on the driveway.

So I was very surprised when I looked out a few minutes ago and saw this:


and this:


Yes, more snow and coming down very rapidly. Who knows what we will wake up to? At least we don't need to venture out if we choose not to.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Day 9.353: Some pretty lights

Another work day for me, so not much to report about that.

Instead, here are some pictures of the lights forming part of the LED display in Boston earlier in the month.



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Day 9.352: Some successes

Yesterday, as I mentioned we made some progress on the lighthouse Lego set that was one of E5N1's Christmas gifts (actual lighthouse is still pending but the orca is pretty spectacular). This morning, I successfully got myself up and off to work. While I was there, Exile #2, Exile #4 and E5N1 managed to beat our new cooperative game, Pandemic (on the easiest difficulty setting). This was after something like five failed attempts by Exile #2 and me - with and without the kids assistance.

I can't help wondering if I was the problem!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Day 9.351: Just her cup of tea

Today was a day for catching up on things that we didn't quite have time to fit in yesterday. This meant (amongst other things): watching the Doctor Who Christmas episode, playing a full game of each of our new board games and starting on E5N1's new Lego set.

Oh yes, and Exile #2 tried out her new tea infuser:


Who doesn't want their tea produced by a happy sloth relieving itself into your hot water?

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Day 9.350: Christmas in Maine #3

Carol service on the evening before, waking up, gifts and video calls to family, food, drink, a walk on the beach and a family board game - it seems like we're getting in the swing of this now!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Day 9.349: Holly, Jolly, Happy, Merry...

Along with a vocal subset of America, we have an issue with inappropriate greetings at this time of year. Not that we mind "Happy Holidays" or frankly any other greeting. Our issue is that Exile #2 and I still have "Happy Christmas" as our default, but that causes our children distress. "Nobody says that!" being their normal reaction.

So, in the spirit of festive compromise, we thought we would wish you a "Holly Jolly Christmas" instead.



Apologies that we didn't really know the song very well before we performed it!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Day 9.348: Carols, Rogue

We were in downtown Portland earlier, singing carols and giving away hot chocolate, cookies and candy canes with a group from church. It was a fun (albeit cold) event:



We followed that with a trip to see Rogue One, which gained everyone's approval as a good addition to the Star Wars universe:

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Day 9.347: White before Christmas

It was the first day of vacation for the kids and the last day of work for me. It snowed some more.


I guess some of it will probably tough it out until Christmas, but we're expecting warm (and maybe wet) weather between now and then.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Day 9.345: Observation week

Last week was the last week of dance classes for the (calendar) year and that meant it was observation week. I made it to three of Exile #3's four classes and to E5N1's class, but thanks to my phone being temperamental at the moment, I only have decent photos from Exile #3's company rehearsal:


It's hard to believe that she only started dance classes the summer after we moved to Maine - she's come a long way thanks to the this studio.

I think there may be some photos of E5N1's class on Exile #3's phone. I'll try to retrieve them!
 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Day 9.344: Holiday concert

Exile #3, having succumbed to her cold after her dance performance on Saturday, was still sick enough to not go to school this morning. Fortunately, she rallied enough during the day that she was able to make it out to sing in the Concert Choir at her school Holiday Concert.

The concert was fantastic - with performances by the band, orchestra, jazz band, a jazz combo during the intermission and then three choral groups.

Here's a "Where's Exile #3" game for you to play - with the guide picture:


Tomorrow, she has a second sold-out performance (also - hopefully - a day of school)!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Day 9.343: Exile #2's Sunday Column #156

Exile #2 writes...

There has been a definite feeling of Christmas in the air this week. We enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies with our lovely British friends on Thursday, we oo-ed and ah-ed over the decorated trees in our little town museum on Friday,


and there was more snow than you could shake a stick at on Saturday. I know, because I spent most of Saturday afternoon shaking various sticks at it (well, shovels), plus a snow blower, and a couple of children. However, I still definitely had the smooth end of the stick (this may be a different stick, I'm not sure), as Exile #1 headed out onto the slippery roads to take Exile #3 to her dance show.

Today, the temperature has kept rising from its low of minus doesn't-even-bear-thinking-about to the high forties, and rain is beginning to wash the snow away. After another brief plummet tonight, it's due to stay warm and wet for much of the week, so we may still miss out on a white Christmas. As Exile #1 reminded us, this will no doubt please the local jewelry store that has a promotion promising to refund the cost of any jewelry bought in the month before Christmas, if it snows more than 6 inches on Christmas Day - a bold tactic in New England!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Day 9.342: The show must go on

We woke to a snowstorm that was just winding up...and the news that the Exile #3's dance show was going ahead as scheduled in the early afternoon. In the end we decided to cancel our other appointments, Exile #2 and the other kids stayed home to shovel and stay warm, and I went with Exile #3 up the snow-covered highway into Portland.

Exile #3 was full of cold, but managed to ride through the performance on adrenaline - two lovely dances (a spooky ballet piece and a beautiful modern piece):


They did well and the rest of the show was great too, but we were glad to head home when it was done before the snow turned to freezing rain. Tomorrow, we expect a sudden warm-up with temperatures starting the day around freezing but rising to about 50°F by the afternoon. Should be interesting with several inches of snow on the ground.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Day 9.341: Brrrrr!

This morning looked much like any other:


...but it was cold. It was -1°F (-19°C) with a wind-chill making it feel 15 degrees colder when I took this before I headed off to work.

By mid-morning, it became clear that the office heating was not working and gradually everyone started putting hats and coats and gloves on. One or two left before the heat came back on in the middle of the afternoon, but most of us saw the day out - which meant we were leaving just as normal temperatures had been reattained.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Day 9.340: A very British evening

Exile #2 and I left the kids to their own devices (pun intended) this evening because we'd been invited to a pre-Christmas get together where the British outnumbered the Americans by 5 to 1. Literally - there were 5 British people and one American - as long as you don't count the British people who are also American amongst the Americans.

Anyway - we had a very nice evening talking about being apologetic, what to say when someone says "Thank you" and being poor dental patients while enjoying mince pies, Christmas cake and mulled wine as only expats could!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Day 9.339: Boston by day and night

Before the Black Nativity performance on Saturday, we had time for a walk on the common. We watched the skaters at the Frog Pond where not too long ago we had paddled on a hot day after a trip to the aquarium.


After the performance, we walked up to Faneuil Hall Marketplace where they have a fancy light show with music (rather like the one at L.L.Bean in Freeport).

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Day 9.338: The Thinker

For reasons known best only to himself, while we were waiting to cross a road in Boston on Saturday afternoon, E5N1 said, "Hey Dad, take a picture of me being The Thinker!" and then this happened.


I guess the big city brought out his cultured side.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Day 9.337: Pinocchisnow

We were rudely awakened at 5:30 am by the call to tell us that the schools were closed because of the snow storm. We let the kids know (text messages to the girls and a note on the landing for E5N1) and then it was pretty much time for me to be getting moving anyway.

The first run of the season for the snow thrower (leaving some shoveling for the kids) and then off to work. The commute there was pretty miserable, but by 10 am, the snow was turning to rain and the worst of it was over.

Meanwhile, E5N1 made this little snow fella and dubbed him Pinocchisnow:


I imagine that thanks to the warm temperatures by then it was good packing snow, but I gather it made for short-lived snow people.

Not that all the snow has gone - not by any means - and sure enough the freezing temperatures overnight will probably make for another fun commute tomorrow!