Saturday, September 30, 2017

Day 10.263: Getting ready to run

I'm afraid that today was rather overshadowed by my plans for tomorrow morning which include going out in public dressed in this attractive outfit:

...and then running 26.2 miles. Considering I'm still at least 10 pounds over a reasonable race weight and have had a short and incomplete training cycle, my confidence that I will have a good race is not high. Not long to wait to find out if I'm right!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Day 10.262: Another visitor

Our human visitors had what sounds like a good outing today. I was at work, but while I was home for lunch we had another visitor:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Day 10.261: Three generations

After work today, I dropped in to join my Dad watching his grandson play soccer (football).

It's great to have my parents with us for a couple of weeks - and they seem to have arrived at the same time as some perfect autumnal weather.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Day 10.260: Can't run them all!

I received this today:

I'm a little more disappointed than I would have expected.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Day 10.259: Four years ago today...

...I took this photo of the Wisconsin State Capitol. I was in Madison to interview for my current job - hard to believe it has been that long!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Day 10.258: Mass destruction

My main contribution to the garden is to cut the grass fairly regularly, but yesterday was one of those days when I was tempted into my other main gardening mode - mass destruction.

First, Exile #2 set me to work weeding a small bed with the instructions - these are the only three plants that are supposed to be here - and I happily ripped everything else out.

The other job was to do something about this bush at the side of the house that was rather leggy and messy and - apart from a few weeks in the spring - rather ugly (picture is an old screen-grab from a Google drive-by). We debated ripping it out, but in the end decided on major kill-or-cure pruning - below is Exile #2 apparently wondering what I talked her into:

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Day 10.257: Exile #2's Sunday Column #194

Exile #2 writes:

So, the young Exiles made it to the end of their third week of school. We are settling into our new routines on the whole, but I had forgotten how quickly the week goes by when you're hurrying from one thing to the next. We have had the added excitement of new neighbors who, by chance, we had previously met. E5N1 is thrilled to have a few more friends to play with on the street, although they are a much more entertaining prospect than homework, which might prove tricky! Still, he's been very good about practicing his trumpet, so our evenings have been punctuated by sounds that could summon an Orc army.

There is even more excitement to come this week, with the visit of Grandma and Grandpa. Its been a while, so I imagine they'll notice a change or two in the young Exiles.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Day 10.256: Duck...aaaargh!!

Here's a cute picture of pre-Exile Exile #3 and a duck. The rest of this post involves a different duck.

Some time ago, Exile #2 went to a local Asian supermarket with Exile #4 and they bought a duck. A dead one. For us to eat. Yesterday, she had everything we needed and decided to prepare it.

A little after 11 am, I received an email with the subject line, "Aaaargh!!", it read as follows.

"I just started prepping the duck. I thought I'd do it tonight but there is a bit more of it than I was expecting, er, like feet and maybe even a head so I'm kinda freaking out. Do you think you could cope with hacking those bits off, or do I need to abandon this project.... (sheepish grin)"

I actually laughed out loud at my desk when I read it.

So, at lunchtime I went home and did just that - impressed that the whole bird, head and all was completely plucked, removed and disposed of the offending head and feet and left Exile #2 to cook the rest of it.

We ate it at dinner time and it was delicious.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Day 10.255: Lunch on the beach

While we watched the waves yesterday, we had lunch at the beach. Exile #2 brought us some sandwiches and we at them sitting on this bench:

This is the seagull that watched us intently hoping to share/steal our lunch.

It was disappointed.

This was us after we ate:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Day 10.254: Jose waves

The Maine coast is currently experiencing the effects of Tropical Storm Jose - which is currently spinning somewhere off the coast of Cape Cod. Although it's hard to believe something so far away can have a significant impact on our beaches, Exile #2 and I met for lunch in Ocean Park to see for ourselves.

Shore enough...(see what I did there?)...our normally placid waters were rather more energetic than we are used to.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Day 10.253: I love surprises...

...but this one was just plain strange:

Having gone through a lot of confused thoughts, I wondered if it was a phishing email, but the links - although strange - were actual links. We contacted them in any case and they said it definitely was not from them and we should send it to their spoofing department. We later discovered that - as I had suspected - it was not a phishing email, just a glitch.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Day 10.252: Fog in the East End

Well, I started the week with two sick days which is not good either for my mental health or my work place, but was probably necessary for my physical health. I probably should have realized when my runs over the weekend were taxing despite the fact that they were scaled back approximately 50% from last weekend.

The second run was 12 miles easy around Portland while Exile #4 was at her youth group. It was foggy as I ran along the trail past East End Beach and when I arrived at the cruise liner port it was hard to tell if there was a ship in dock or not. As I moved along it did emerge, but the view was still quite a good indication of how thick the fog was.

I'm not back to full strength but should be well enough to be at work tomorrow - especially if I can get a decent night's sleep tonight - something that eluded me yesterday.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Day 10.251: Food labeling is getting ridiculous

We all know that "Best Before" dates are often something of a ploy by food manufacturers to persuade us to throw away perfectly good food and replace it with new food, but at least we can choose to ignore it if it is just printed on the label.

When they print it right on the food* - such as this flour tortilla:

That is taking things to a new level.

* Yes this photograph us real. No I do not really think that this is an escalation in a food labeling war. No I have no idea about how such a thing could happen. No we did not eat this one. Yes, we did eat the rest of the packet.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Day 10.250: Exile #2's Sunday Column #193

Exile #2 writes...

The young Exiles needed to head in different directions this afternoon. So, Exile #1 teamed up with Exile #4, and I joined Exile #3 and E5N1. Exile #4 was going to her youth group for some pizza and games. While she did that, Exile #1 revisited some of his old running routes (also part of his upcoming marathon route).

Meanwhile, Exile #3 and E5N1 were auditioning for a Christmas show at their dance school. It is somewhat delightfully called The Land of Misfit Toys and I am imagining it as some sort of alternative Nutcracker. We will shortly find out what parts they will be playing but E5N1 seemed fairly confident that he would get the "special boy role". Well, he was the only boy there.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Day 10.249: Ditto

Something like this will happen in church tomorrow morning (I will probably wear some footwear)...followed by me singing one of my favourite songs.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Day 10.248: Spring/summer running update

In January I found myself having not been out for a run (at all) in 9 weeks. Considering since I took up running five and a half years earlier I hadn't gone more than about 9 days (and that only once or twice), this was quite a serious situation.

The thought that if I stopped running I would get lazy and never start again had haunted me for most of those five years and as it turned out it was really easy to do just that. I got in the habit of staying up later, filling my time with good things like making music and reading books and watching TV with Exile #2, but at some point I realised that I needed to be exercising again.

Getting back into regular running habits was hard - much harder than getting into them in the first place. The fact that I had put on 20 pounds and lost a lot of fitness did not make getting back on the road easy - nor did the fact that it was winter in Maine. It was April before I started to string some decent miles together and feel like a runner again. The table shows my weekly mileage totals since then - hardly a picture of consistency. The final blip was somewhat planned - for our camping trip - but the other orange weeks indicate I did less than I planned.

Finally, I've put a few consistent weeks together - nowhere near enough for long enough to be trained for my marathon on October 1st, but unless I get sick or injured I will run it - and it will be another step towards fully back to what had become normal running fitness.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Day 10.247: Shoot and toot

I spent most of the evening rushing around town with E5N1 - first I collected him from soccer where he seems to be gaining some skills and some confidence. After that we had a quick slice of pizza and then it was to school for the band information meeting - where he collected his trumpet.

Apart from feeling the weight of it (considerable according to the ten year old), he has not interacted with the instrument yet as he is supposed to leave it in its case until his first class on Monday. It does have a very nice case though!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Day 10.246: The great turkey invasion

About a week ago, Exile #2 was surprised to see a family group of at least ten wild turkeys walk through our back yard - she even took some photos!

When you see a group of these birds it's not hard to believe that they are actually dinosaurs. Yes I did say actually dinosaurs.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Day 10.245: Fun guy in the woods

That would be me - in Horton Woods on Saturday taking photos of these things (mostly fungi):

We particularly liked the way the fungus had formed on the partially fallen tree - looking like ridges of bark on the horizontal section.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Day 10.244: Horton Woods

It's hard to believe it has taken us so long to visit Horton Woods - my parents went there on their first visit after we moved to Maine but somehow it never made it to the top of our list until Saturday afternoon.

Judging by the cars in the parking lot and the people we saw on the trails it's a popular spot. We saw a lot of variety - gnarly trails in the woods, glimpses of meadow and the creek. We played some entertaining games of Poohsticks at the creek crossing - the first time we all dropped our sticks in, all but one headed slowly upstream away from the bridge for about 20 feet and none made it out the downstream side. There should probably be a prize for that!

At one point I spotted an owl (probably a barred owl) at the top of a tree - but sadly it flew away before I could bring the camera to bear.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Day 10.243: Exile #2's Sunday Column #192

Exile #2 writes...

So, normal service has resumed for us this week, although we're sparing many thoughts for those whose lives will not be normal for the foreseeable future, both in this country and overseas.

All three of the young Exiles have made a successful reentry to school, and although we still have some back-to-school Open Houses to come, we're pretty much back in the swing. E5N1 is the only young Exile to have made major changes to his extra-curricular activities this year, opting for a low-key soccer skills class at the local gym,

and taking up the trumpet. With that in mind, Exile #1 dug out his old French horn mouthpiece, and E5N1 has been wandering around the house making a host of interesting, and sometimes alarming, noises. I'm feeling quite pleased that we have a basement.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Day 10.242: Camera obscura

E5N1 came home with a great project to start the homework season - to turn a room in the house into a camera obscura. Knowing this, I was less surprised than I might have been to come back from my run this morning to find this scene:

It took some experimentation to balance brightness and clarity by varying the hole size and photographing the results was a blind activity (including manual focus) since I could literally see only black through my camera viewfinder, but I was able to get these photos (turned right way up for your convenience) of Exile #2 dancing around the back yard and the shed:

As we were about to pack-up, E5N1 noticed that I had the trees projected on me as I walked to the door, so I got him to pose for a picture in the same position:

It was an excellent project!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Day 10.241: Life with a runner

Exile #2 took these photos yesterday and emailed them to me with the subject line, "Life with a runner".

Then she found a draw with some more running shoes in it.

I don't see a problem here - the ones in the draw are very old, the ones in the pile are old (more than 400 miles each) and the ones in a line are my current ones.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Day 10.240: Throwback Thursday: E5N1 and the tarts

One day a couple of weeks ago E5N1 told Exile #2 that he wanted to do some baking. This is what happened:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Day 10.239: What are they doing?

So, what did I photograph Exile #3 and E5N1 doing at the arboretum on Saturday?

It's possible that they were attempting this: