Monday, July 31, 2017

Day 10.202: Running in Chicago

I've been wholeheartedly getting back into the habit of running regularly and slightly halfheartedly doing marathon training. The former is definitely a good thing - the latter will probably get me into trouble come October 1st when I plan to attempt to race that particular distance for the 7th time.

Anyway, one of the really excellent things about my generally not-too-hideous business trip to Chicago was two morning runs totalling something like 17 miles - mostly along the river and lake shore.

Here are some photos I took along the way:

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Day 10.201: Exile #2's Sunday Column #187

Exile #2 writes...

E5N1, J and A, who were all sharing a room last night, managed to get up very stealthily this morning. When the rest of us finally caught up with them, they were in the basement, using the plastic food to create a restaurant (our plastic food collection is one of those toys that seems to go on and on).

T, S, J & A were driving on to a camp site today but we squeezed in a very nice visit to the beach before they went. The kids (bravely) swam, jumped waves, and built sandcastles. The rest of us chatted, waded, and walked along the shore, all in not much more than an hour.

By the time we left the park, wardens were closing the gate to new arrivals, and there was a small queue forming of hopeful beachgoers. We freed up a space for someone, at least.

We dropped Exile #4 off at her friends' house for a sleepover, then shortly after said goodbye to T, S, J & A. Since then, we've been putting everything back the way it was - apart from Exile #4's room. After giving it up for our guests to use it is looking much tidier than usual. She'll be back tomorrow to do something about that, I'm sure.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Day 10.200: Summer visitors (and summer traffic)

Our friends T & S and their kids are here to visit us from our old home in NY. It took them a bit longer than planned to get to us - thanks to the joy that is trying to get into Maine on a Saturday in summer. Nevertheless, we had time for a nice walk at Fuller Farm and a cook-out and lots of catching up.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Day 10.199: Sky Deck

I had a few hours to myself when I first arrived in Chicago - so I decided to visit the Sky Deck of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). The views from the 106th floor were fantastic:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Day 10.198: Throwback Thursday: Exile #2 is history!

Here she is in the "Remember When" column from her amateur dramatics days back in the mists of time (1988 to be precise)!

With thanks to her parents for spotting it and letting us see it!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Day 10.197: Sweet home, Chicago

I have made it home - and it feels good to be back after a long day of traveling and waiting around.

Here is one of my photos of Chicago - there are more to come:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day 10.196: Deer, me

Today was the main event as far as my trip to Chicago (congratulations to my Dad for that deduction!) was concerned. Meetings started over breakfast and only wound up around midnight (although the formal meetings happened only in the middle part of the day.

Anyway, here is a picture from this morning - a large deer and me:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Day 10.195: I don't mind; I don't mind

It's business travel time, but where in the world am I?

I approached the coast over the water:

I saw the skyline:

It's a place that doesn't mind having two different stations with the same English-language name on its transit system:

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Day 10.194: Exile #2's Sunday Column #186

Exile #2 writes...

We got home from camp with E5N1 at around midday yesterday, so I set about throwing together some lunch. I had a couple of things going on the hob, and something else in the microwave, when the kitchen started to seem a little smoky - then really smoky. I started turning things off, and moving them off the heat. I was a bit confused because I had only just started cooking, but the smoke only got worse. I called for reinforcements, but we still couldn't figure out what was going on, until we looked up to see acrid smoke pouring out of the housing of the microwave. Our best guess is that a motor burnt out. I guess it decided it had done 20 years good service, and was ready for retirement.

So, after eating our lunch out in the fresh, not smoky, air, our afternoon was spent searching out and fitting a new microwave.

Today, Exile #4 suggested that we should replace the fridge (which is of a similar vintage) before it too has a catastrophic failure. I really have no idea whose child she is...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Day 10.193: Theatre boy

This morning, we had an early start (by summer/weekend standards anyway) to drive up to camp to watch the musical that E5N1's camp had been rehearsing all week (in between swimming and boating and campfires and all the other camp activities).

It was pretty amazing. An original musical written by the camp leader for the occasion and then rehearsed in just four days by this group of 9-12 year olds.

And then it was time to head home with our tired boy and his bag full of laundry - which our pastor who had watched him pack it up warned us was probably some kind of biohazard but Exile #2 having finished dealing with it described as "not as bad as last year".

Friday, July 21, 2017

Day 10.192: Libby River Farm

I toyed with naming today's post "When Nature Attacks!"

I was able to join the short hike today - we ventured out after dinner to Libby River Farm trails. We found some nicely tended trails, lovely views, wildflowers, birds and red squirrels and...


Still, as long as we were never still for very long, things were just about bearable. The general lack of stillness didn't do much for my photography, but I was still able to get a few pictures of the humans:

and the non-bug nature:

Definitely worth another visit - but perhaps not on a July evening.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Day 10.191: Hot on the heath

I spent most of the day in an air-conditioned office but the rest of the E5N1-less household braved a short walk at Saco Heath. Apparently it was very hot, but look they took some photos!

They also saw what we are pretty sure must have been a snowshoe hare - so I am slightly jealous.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Day 10.190: Camp sight

The last two years, after dropping a child at Camp Mechuwana (Exile #4 in 2015 and E5N1 last year), we have heard nothing until pick-up time. This year, since one of our pastors is there helping with the camp he is on (and sharing a cabin with him and a group of "energetic" boys), we have had a few glimpses into his week.

This was camp day 2 - after a swim in the pond:

Looks like he's doing OK!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Day 10.189: They can fly?!

Among the dead or drowning insects in the ant moat of our hummingbird feeder, we made a surprising discovery - an apparently happy aquatic insect:

I'm fairly sure it's one of those known as water boatmen - and not the ones that float on the back which are appropriately enough known as backswimmers on this side of the Atlantic.

Anyway, the interesting question is how did it get there?  Exile #4 suggested that it had climbed in (it's five feet up a glass door), or that they can fly. Neither of which seemed remotely likely.

The astonishing answer is that although they live their entire lifecycle in water (generally at the bottom of streams) - they can indeed fly!

Life will never be the same.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Day 10.188: Don't even think about going 99 mph

I spotted this while out running yesterday:

"Strictly enforced" - don't say you weren't warned.

No word on how fast you are allowed to go while traveling west.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Day 10.187: Exile #2's Sunday Column #185

Exile #2 writes...

To sum up today: one little Exile went to camp, one (not so) little Exile came back home, and one little Exile spent the day at the beach with a friend and is a bit pink as a consequence. Yes, E5N1 is at musical theatre camp this week, and the rest of us will probably spend the week wondering why it is so quiet. I'm sure the time will fly by for both of us, and we'll get to see what the kids have been busy with on Saturday morning.

Of course, being away at camp does also mean that E5N1 won't know anything about number 13 yet...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Day 10.186: Birthday, Citizenship, Pokemon

We were invited to a party this afternoon - a joint birthday (8th) and citizenship (fellow Brit who recently became an American citizen) party with a Pokemon theme. There was even a parade!

E5N1 celebrated his own dual citizenship:

and the parade start looked quite like the beginning of a race!

We had a great time and - contrary to some concerns - the weather was perfect.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Day 10.185: Spur of the moment night out

We have to remind ourselves (or each other) from time to time that we can go out and leave the kids now. Tonight, we had dinner, watched American Ninja Warrior and saw the kids on their way to bed and still had time to head into Portland to listen to Monique Barrett and Jeff Christmas sing some beautiful songs:

We even found a good parking spot!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Day 10.184: Throwback Thursday: a meeting of minds

A throwback of fifteen years, a baby later to be known as Exile #3 being a bit intense (for once!):

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Day 10.182: Marsh life

Some of the other living things we saw at the marsh last Friday:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Day 10.181: Like a Ninja?

As I was leaving to retrieve Exile #3 from her shock-to-the-system first dance class after two weeks off - and worse it was an hour and a half of ballet - E5N1 was asking me to take him to the local playground so he could create a Ninja course (we've been watching American Ninja Warrior - here's a taste).

And here is our little Ninja with his game face on:

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Day 10.180: Exile #2's Sunday Column #184

Exile #2 writes...

So, I was a little surprised when we headed in the direction of the mall on my birthday, but it turns out that Exile #1 had hatched a plan to replace my fruit-based tablet with one that had a functioning battery. I usually like to keep using things until they cannot limp along any longer, but I was secretly quite glad, because of late I had found myself dragging the device, its charger and an enormous extension lead around the house with me, so I could plug it in wherever I went. As we left the store with our purchase, we passed a Microsoft stand. I'm convinced I saw them look at us, our bag and then turn sadly back to their wares.

After a quick browse of the geeky goodies in Newbury Comics, we headed to Sinful Kitchen for lunch. I had wanted to go for a while, because I'd heard it served gluten free dishes, but we had never got round to it. We both had diner-style breakfasts, but I went for gluten free French toast, while Exile #1 opted to try the lamb bacon because, well, lamb bacon.

We headed home for the afternoon, then rounded out the day with yummy birthday curry by Exile #1, happy birthday sung over a celebratory bar of chocolate, and a nice walk at the marsh. Lovely!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Day 10.179: Beach rescue!

We got started a bit late today for a variety of reasons which meant that - apart from my pre-breakfast run - we missed the dry (albeit rather sticky) weather in the morning. The weather closed in early in the afternoon and we had some storms. This meant that we had an indoor day. We had a good game or two but it wasn't quite enough to stop some frayed tempers.

So it was a great relief to venture out after dinner to have a walk on the beach - which was just about perfect!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Day 10.178: Birthday (girl)

We celebrated Exile #2's birthday today. It started with gifts and cards (including these artworks from the kids). Phase 2 was an outing for the two of us while Exile #3 looked after the house and the other kids. I promised to take Exile #2 to her favourite places - and I did - a gas station and the mall. However, it turned out I hadn't completely lost it and we had a nice time (and a nice lunch).

Later we had dinner at home and a walk at Scarborough Marsh! Happy Birthday Exile #2!