Friday, December 15, 2017

Day 10.337: Twinkle, twinkle

After some travel delays, our visitors have safely arrived. Christmas was ready for them:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Day 10.336: Holiday Concert #2

It was both our second holiday concert of the season and the second year in a row that we've attended this one at Exile #3's High School. This year she was singing in both the big Concert Choir and the auditioned Treble Choir. In total there were two bands, two orchestras and three choirs in a packed and wonderful programme.

Tomorrow, she gets to do it again, but we have a different excitement!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Day 10.335: Snow fingers (and other winter precipitation)

I took this on Sunday after the snow - we liked the way the snow was peeling off the railings and forming snake-like fingers.

Today we had another winter storm - with a few inches of snow followed by some freezing rain. It made it rather a mess on the roads for our drive to the work holiday dinner, but we all made it there safely and I am now back home in the warm.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Day 10.334: Christmas jumpers!

Seeing as five of the six in attendance at our gathering tonight (and four out of five sweater wearers) are British (even if most are also American), I thought I could get away with calling them "jumpers"

We had a very nice evening!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Day 10.333: Exile #2's Sunday Column #204

Exile #2 writes...

Like many in the U.K., we woke up to a healthy covering of snow. The photo my Mum sent me looked pretty much like what I could see out of the window. This being the Northeast, however, we were still able to drive into Portland for 9 am church with no difficulty. We opted for the early service because today was also the long awaited performance of the Land of Misfit Toys, for which Exile #3 and E5N1 had been rehearsing for the last few months.

The show told the story of a doll, who is thrown away because she is broken while some mean girls are making fun of her and the little girl who owns her. She ends up in the Land of Misfit toys, where she finds friends and feels loved again. True to the stereotype of all British characters being baddies, Exile #3 got to play one of the mean girls, and perhaps in homage to Bert the “Cockney” chimney sweep, E5N1 was Fred the Garbage Man, who shook his head sadly at the sight of dolly in the bin. Both also did turns as jack-in-the boxes and Exile #3 appeared finally as a rocking horse. It was very enjoyable - a fun alternative to the traditional Nutcracker!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Day 10.332: First snow, last tree

Our first couple of Decembers in the US we were caught by surprise at how early the Christmas decorations arrive. In fact, I believe we went shopping for a few decorations in mid-December once to find the few items that were left already on mark-down. More recently, we've embraced the season on more US terms and so we went to cut down a tree today, only to find that we were - once again - rather late to the decorating party.

This wasn't literally the last tree, but the view is pretty representative of the farm's stock levels:

Fortunately, they had some pre-cut ones, presumably from some other less-accessible farm and we were able to choose one and pay for it as the first snowflakes were beginning to fall.

The snow continued to fall:

and fall:

as we decorated the tree. This was the last time I ventured out:

but the snow is still falling. It wasn't literally the first snow of the season - but the first that is making much of an impact.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Day 10.331: A turkey maybe?

My records show that E5N1 made this on or just before Thanksgiving - so maybe it's a turkey?

I like it anyway!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Day 10.330: Winter Concert

We had a great time at Exile #4's final middle school winter concert today. She even managed to smile while she was singing (that was a first)!

We enjoyed the performances by the bands, orchestra and the chorus. This was Exile #4's favourite of the three pieces the chorus performed:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Day 10.328: How parents see homework

We've never really been the "do it for them" kind of parents although of course there are times when we have become involved in homework. With our youngest in fifth grade, our involvement has recently been mostly limited to attempting to help with time management.

Tonight was the third night in a row that E5N1 was up late getting a piece of work finished having left doing it (or in some cases finishing it) to the last possible moment.

This was last night having finished this science presentation:

You can see the relief on his face. I assure you that I was feeling the same way.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Day 10.328: Parade of Lights - even bigger

It was the seventh year of the Saco Main Street Parade of Lights on Saturday. It was our fourth - the first year we were there with what felt like just a handful of other hardy souls on a rainy December evening to watch a very modest parade. The next year Exile #3 and E5N1 were in the parade and we walked with it - conscious that it seemed much bigger, but not able to get the real overview. Last year they marched again and the parade seemed huge as did the crowds of spectators.

Well, true to form, both parade and crowd was even bigger this year. You can see the dance company including Exile #3 and E5N1 in the second row of pictures. Can you also find a group of brightly lit Mandalorians, a skiing bear, an apparently rude Minion and a speeding snow mobile?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Day 10.327: Exile #2's Sunday Column #203

Exile #2 writes...

A little bit of seasonal decor has been appearing around the house - not a tree yet, but a wreath, a few lights and some decorations.

We’ve also been doing a few of those things you really have to remember to do at this time of year in Maine. The garden furniture has been hidden away and shortly, the lawnmower will lose its prime position to the snowblower.

In the process of doing this, we decided to make a run to the tip, to get rid of a few broken items, such as the microwave that self-destructed a few months ago. As Exile #1 and I stood over the microwave discussing its fate, to my dismay, I looked down and saw a beady eye watching me through a hole in the top cover. It seems our microwave had become a convenient apartment for something small and furry. At this point, I may have beat a swift retreat. Exile #1 heroically dragged the microwave out onto the grass and we left it for a while, during which time, we have to assume its occupant made a run for it, because nothing ventured forth later when Exile #1 gave it a good shake. I can’t say that we weren’t slightly uncomfortable at the thought that we might not be alone in the minivan on the way to the tip, and we were greatly relieved when we were able to bid our mouse home farewell.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Day 10.326: Maxïmo Park

It was about a two hour drive to Brighton Music Hall in Allston MA from home last night through the late rush-hour traffic. We arrived a few minutes after our Ticketmaster-paid-for parking became valid which couldn't have been much better either it terms of our timing or the parking location and service.

With nearly an hour to doors and a couple to music starting, we went in search of food and found Coreanos - an award winning Korean/Mexican fusion place called Coreanos. It is basically a hole-in-the-wall style take-away with a few tables for eat-in. We didn't try the fusion items on this occasion. Exile #2 had Bibimnap and I had Yang Yum chicken wings - all very good.

The venue is a large room with two bars and a stage with a smaller room with another bar, a couple of tables and restrooms behind the stage and a small room with a merchandise table near the entrance. The support act was Ava Luna who had a very varied and drama-filled half hour set that we enjoyed a lot.

We moved forward to near center-stage behind just one couple during the break between the sets and really couldn't believe our luck to be in such a good position. The venue filled up nicely and we loved Maxïmo Park's set - filled with many of our favorites. In total they played 20 tracks, seven from the new album, four from each of their first two and five total from the intervening three.

Before we left, E5N1 had challenged us to get some autographs. We didn't think there was any way that would happen, but then they said they would go to the merch table after the set to sign purchases, so we made our way back there, bought a tour poster and - yes - got it signed:

The drive back was closer to an hour and half - getting us in just before 1:30 am - tired but happy!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Day 10.325: Separate ways

This evening, we saw the kids off with Exile #3's dance teacher to drive an hour north for a show that Exile #3 and her dance company were taking part in:

At which point Exile #2 and I drove two hours south to stand in his very cool little venue in the western suburbs of Boston:

and see Maxïmo Park play the last gig in their North American tour:

I'll write more about it another day, but it was great!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Day 10.324: The exploding glass mystery

The other day, having finished unloading the dishwasher I closed the cupboard where the glasses go and started to reload with the dirty dishes.

A few seconds later I heard what sounded like the tinkling of broken glass from the cupboard and opened it to find this:

One glass - in the middle had spontaneously exploded. Several of the pieces had broken into circular sections:

I can only assume that the glasses were packed slightly too tightly and under the stress caused by gravity, one finally gave out, but we were a bit unnerved!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Day 10.323: Bluebirds

Although it was always a nice surprise, it wasn't particularly unusual for us to see an eastern bluebird from time to time when we were in New York. However, when I spotted one on our walk on Saturday I wasn't sure if it was the first one I'd seen in Maine. If not, it must have been among the first two or three:

Sadly, I only had my phone to capture it. Later we saw maybe six or seven more in the low branches of a small copse of trees.

I also only had my phone on Monday when another six or so bluebirds decided to perch on the low wooden railings by my work. Here are two of them:

So, whether they were the first or not, I've seen at least a dozen bluebirds in Maine now.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Day 10.322: Pleasant Hill Preserve

Although we had only managed to get E5N1 to join us for a walk on the beach on Black Friday, we did all venture onto the trails on Saturday for our first visit to Pleasant Hill Preserve in Scarborough. We had a great walk there through the small but varied pocket of land:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Day 10.321: 19th century cookies?

Last Friday we took advantage of the late opening hours to visit the Festival of Trees at the Saco Museum - we had a great time looking at the trees (including several dress-tree crossover items) and choosing our favorites (not hard for E5N1 since someone had made a Pokemon tree!):

The funniest moment came when I pointed this out to Exile #4, "Look - a cute village made of Girl Scout cookies!"

To which she replied, free of irony, "Really old cookies."


Luckily she is very patient when we repeatedly make fun of the things she says because she gives us such a lot of material to work with.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Day 10.320: Exile #2's Sunday Column #202

Exile #2 writes...

I stayed home today as, to my surprise, I woke up with a sore throat and full-blown cold. Still, the timing could have been worse. Fortunately, it held off long enough for me to cook for and enjoy Thanksgiving. Some of what I made was what you would expect to find at a traditional Thanksgiving: pies (pumpkin and chocolate), roast potatoes, cranberry sauce (albeit a fancy one with nuts, orange, and port in it), and mashed potatoes (with a little celeriac mixed in for interest). Other things may have betrayed our British roots, such as the sage and onion sausage stuffing, and bread sauce. I think it’s safe to say no one had ever heard of, let alone tasted that!

While the others were out for much of the day today, attending church, and later decorating it for advent, I stayed home and started stirring something up for the the next celebration.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Day 10.319: Thor: Ragnarok

We managed a short hike and another momentous game of Evolution Climate today before we ventured out again to watch Thor: Ragnarok.

What a fun ride! We all enjoyed it a lot.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Day 10.318: Shelling out on Black Friday

We could only muster three for our traditional Black Friday shoreline adventure today - but we did watch some hardy folks surfing and find some more large shells:

Although they rejected this outing, we did manage a game of Evolution Climate with the whole family and another outing that will can wait for another day.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Day 10.317: A musical Thanksgiving

This evening, we were invited to an international Thanksgiving celebration at fairly new friends from church who live less than 15 minutes away from us. Guests included three new Mainers from Congo and four visitors from Newfoundland. We ate very well, enjoyed conversations and sung each other some songs and ate some more and sang some more (but I didn't think to take any photos except these two). It was a fantastic evening!