Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day 202: What Katy did?

After work today we had the pleasure of baby J's company while T & S went to do a five-hour road-safety classroom course - a prerequisite of applying to do a driving test. Their reports of their evening are not particularly encouraging. Interestingly, they asked what would have happened if they'd turned up with the baby and were told they would have been turned away. Interesting. E5N1 has yet to see a bottle (actually he had a good look at J's today) so whether that is a realistic option is unknown. We certainly went to some trouble to persuade Exile #3 to accept a bottle from time to time when she was a baby, but we never bothered with Exile #4 - she had her follow-on milk in a cup and never used a bottle at all. Oh well, we'll work something out I suppose.

Anyway, we had a very easy-going time and Exile #2 was able to spend a large part of the evening at the supermarket - joy-of-joys! At this time of year the post-dusk noise outside is quite amazing, the insects (and ...?) make quite a cacophony. Whether these bush-crickets (or katydids) contribute is unknown, but this one paid us a visit (to the kitchen window) this evening and earned itself a starring role.
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Day 201: The hummingbird disaster

There was a fuel-cell car demonstration today and in order to keep the cars running, this trailer was acting as a makeshift filling station, there to fill the cars' fuel cells with compressed hydrogen gas. The "No smoking" and "No open flame" signs tell a story and reminded me of hydrogen's illustrious history in transport disasters: The Hindenburg (not using it as fuel but as a lift gas) and the Space Shuttle Challenger come to mind - both of which were destroyed by a combination of hydrogen and fire and both caught on film to spectacular effect. If you're not squeamish about such things you can watch this amazing newsreel footage of the former.

Fuel-cell cars may also turn out to be a transport disaster, although probably not of the same type - this time it may prove to be an economic dead-end, but only time will tell. One of the interesting comments I overheard today was that this technology was helping towards 'energy independence for America' - I wonder what the mix of power stations that will will produce the electricity to generate the hydrogen is? Foreign oil at all I wonder? Nuclear maybe? At least the pollution-generation can be pushed out of sight - but it has not gone away unless cheap renewable electricity is available.

Scientific and technological innovation is something I am very interested in, but the reporting of it is so often either wildly optimistic or pessimistic. One moment nanotechnology is going to help us live forever, the next civilisation will dissolve in grey-goo. One moment the Large Hadron Collider is going to unlock the secrets of the Universe by uncovering the 'God particle', the next it's going to destroy the Universe. The truth? The Higgs boson may well be detected - but that won't change anything for most of us and nanotechnology may indeed change the world - but not dramatically overnight into grey-goo - but in lots of very very small steps.

The hummingbird? spotted at our nectar feeder when I was at work and there was no camera to hand. A real disaster!
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Monday, July 30, 2007

Day 200: Blinds fold

Two hundred days. Gone in a flash.

Church was good this morning - well technically it's our 'interim worship gathering' while we prepare to launch the church - good anyway. I led some sung worship which was only the third time since we got here (the other two times being for our homegroup). I suppose that there is no danger of being just a one-in-the-crowd chair occupier when your church is only about 20 people, but it's good to be getting stuck-in to things.

This afternoon Exile #2 weeded two beds at the front of the house and that has made a huge difference. The growing season had barely started in anger when we agreed to buy the house so things have got a bit wild. I cut the grass-and-assorted-broad-leafed-plants as well. I'm considering applying some weed-and-feed but I'm frankly terrified at how much of the lawn-vegetation might die as a result.

Apart from that, it's really been a weekend of blinds. Buying, fitting, buying liners, taking down blinds, attaching liners, refitting blinds. Fortunately I have not been working alone as Exile #3 has taken a real interest in what I've been doing (on and off - but more on than off) and has been genuinely helpful most of the time. Anyway - here's one of them complete and unfolded. They also fold.
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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Day 199: Wagons roll

Here's Exile #4 and Exile #3 outside a furniture store a few days ago. We've just found out that our next instalment of ordered furniture arrives on Wednesday. I think we will have two more deliveries after that. Hopefully the rest will be small take-home-on-the-day items. The house is really feeling like home now despite the makeshift nature of some of the furnishings - it's good to be settling in properly to life here.

Today was a day of odd-jobs:
  • Downstairs 'bathroom' door - locks.
  • Blinds in guest bedroom - fitted.
  • Master bedroom door - now closes.
  • Master bedroom closet door - now closes.
  • Door to third bedroom - now closes.
Not a bad haul for one day.

It's funny the things that you find out when writing a numbered-day blog. E5N1 is 111 days old today. How many parents have marked that landmark the third time around I wonder? It also means that he has been 'out' for significantly more of the Exile than the 88 days he was 'in'. Time has really flown.
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Day 198: Branching out

Exile #2 woke feeling really ill today. I decided to stay at home and do my best to get some work done. I actually did OK in the end - the girls were very good at getting on with things while I sat at my laptop and Exile #2 surfaced by lunchtime. Late in the afternoon it was my turn to be flattened by what I suppose was a migraine - not that I've had one for a long time.

Being at home earlier in the day had its advantages - I was able to encourage Exile #3 up this tree and then help her down again. This evening we went to return some unsuitable window-coverings to the store and buy something else in preparation for our visitors next month. On the way home we all sang along with the first 5 or 6 songs on the new Kaiser Chiefs album. Exile #3 greeted each track with "I like this one" or "I love this one"

After the girls went to bed, Exile #2 and I sat on our old somehow-much-more-cosy-than-before sofas by our new rug and I finished off Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Don't worry those including Exile #2 who have not read it yet - I'll say no more about it.

I did get a good night's sleep last night, but I'm still feeling a bit drained after this afternoon - hopefully another good night will finish the job.
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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Day 197: (I'm a) smart rug

On Day 191, despairing of the rugs in the store, we decided to order a rug on-line and here it is. We're very happy with it.

The core-team for the church plant were gathered around it this evening. We had a great meeting - we were discussing some documents but at the same time getting to know one another and talking about what we value and what are hopes and aims are for this project. All important foundational stuff.

I've been tired for the last couple of days - sorry if the quality of the blog-writing is suffering. I'm hoping and planning for a good night's sleep starting very very soon, hopefully that will improve matters all around.

Anyway, it's pop pun #22 for title watchers (and the first one that it appears Google can't help you with) so come on if you know: I take it you want to feel good? I take it you want to feel smart?
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Day 196: All grown up

On Day 146 I posted a picture of the goslings. They are quite different now as you can see (actually this was a few days ago). There is lots of building work going on where this was taken and it is not clear whether this combination of grass and water will remain as attractive as a year-round home for the geese as it has been.

Today I braved the DMV (department of motor vehicles) to apply for a learners permit (provisional driving licence) - it seemed that it was getting harder to justify the claim that we weren't permanently resident. Actually, it appears that the DMV agree with the immigration service that I am only a temporary visitor so one reading of the rules would suggest that I can continue driving on my UK licence, however it is all so self-contradictory that going through the process seems wise and in any case I've been warned that they won't renew our insurance unless we have state-issued licenses by the fall. Anyway, after some waiting around, a hideously unflattering photo, some form filling, an eye test and a multiple choice written test, I am the holder of a learner's permit - as proud as any 16-year-old could be. Now I'm just a 5-hour classroom course and a road-test away from being able to drive around here - oh hang on, I already can. What was the point again?
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Day 195: What's in that?

Some of the notices on food have surprised us since we got here - for instance it is possible to buy a product that bears a passable similarity to Baked Beans - but you have to look for 'vegetarian beans' to avoid the presence of chunks of meat with the beans. Similarly, to buy a sandwich without cheese in it, it is far from enough to buy a 'ham sandwich' - rather a special order to get a 'ham sandwich with no cheese' is usually required.

This apple juice is really made from just apples though and is meat-product free I think - whatever it may say on the bottle.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Day 194: Pirate week

The girls' two weeks of camp went by in a flash. They brought us lots of great songs and rhymes and a few nice artworks. They were also very tired by the time we got home with them in the afternoon. No doubt they had mixed feelings about being at home today and they were slightly disappointed that after space week and jungle week they would be missing pirate week.

Here is the result - it was day one of Pirate Week at home - complete with lots of Arrrr! They also made treasure maps. Exile #3's included 'blood dripping down' slightly disturbingly, but she was quite cheerful in describing it to me - it's like rain drops with blood in. Thanks.

I finished my re-reading of Harry Potter 6 yesterday and bought the new one today. I haven't heard any spoilers yet, now I just need to find time to read it before I do.
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Day 193: The toast is always changing

We had lunch with T & S and baby J today and took the opportunity to open this bottle that had been in our fridge all the time we were at our previous house. It was intended to welcome us to our new home there, but it served for this house instead. We sat out on the deck in the shade and proposed a toast to our shared US adventure. "Living the dream!" someone chimed in. T & S brought a bottle of our favourite champagne with them, so opening this didn't seem like the most generous of all gestures, but, all importantly, it was cold and ready to go.

The girls enjoyed showing off the house and their bouncy castle. Exile #3 even helped me pack it up at bedtime (it fits in the supplied bag which is good, but is prodigiously heavy) to allow the grass some recovery time and avoid the rain that we are expecting tomorrow and Tuesday. Exile #4 meanwhile had taken herself off and fallen asleep on her bed in her clothes.

Church this morning felt good - it was nice to have put the uncomfortable feelings about leaving the other church behind us and just get back to being together. All-in-all, it has been a packed weekend and we are absolutely shattered at the end of it.

Oh yes, and pop pun #21 for title watchers - this feature can now share a drink in New York. I bring my camera out to sea...
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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Day 192: No walls?

Today we finally took delivery of Exile #3 and Exile #4's main birthday present from us and my parents. We had put it off until we moved house. Originally we were thinking about a trampoline, but in the end we found a place where we could buy these small-scale bouncy castles instead. Exile #3's first words on approaching it were "Wow, that's coo-ul!" It sounded like a good thing. They both had a lot of fun on it this morning.

At lunchtime we went for a play-date at the home of some other school parents. They also invited another British friend - an 11-year ex-pat with an American husband and a six-month old baby. We had a great time - adults, children and babies alike.

Our final appointment of the day was hosting the first core-team meeting for our new church. It was a good meeting. "Church with no walls" sums up some of my feelings about it at the moment. Clearly the church has no physical walls at the moment, but also we are trying to be church for people who don't fit in at church and we are at the beginning of the process of finding out together what that will look like, which feels a bit like jumping with no walls too.

There are walls around the bouncy castle by the way - they're just made of netting.
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Day 191: Something on the floor

We spent the evening today shopping for a rug for the front room. We didn't find anything we could agree on, so we're ordering one online. Quite risky since we have discarded quite a few based on texture, however colour and size have been the most significant issues and we could at least see that they seemed right.

Oh yes, this was in our garage. Dead. Quite big though.

The last "Hairy Podder" instalment was released to the keenest fans (including a couple of our friends) about ten minutes ago. I wonder if I'll manage not to hear the ending by the time I read it. I hope so but doubt it.
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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Day 190: Reunited (caterpillars)

Hooray for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art who sent my camera back to me so promptly. I only gave them my address yesterday, and it's here. I will be sending a donation to cover the shipping costs (at least) but they have sent it safely wrapped and strings-free.

We celebrated by allowing the girls to put these 'tattoos' on - actually transfers obviously - which they have been itching to do since our visit. Hopefully they won't be itching in the night as a result of putting them on.

I went back to work after the house-move today we have made a lot of progress in quite a short time - which is just what we needed I think. The girls have their last day of camp tomorrow, then it's back to 'normal' summer activities (whatever they are) for a few weeks.
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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Day 189: In the wet

Today was a bit of a grey day. The girls went off to camp with coats and (a bit unnecessarily really) fleeces on. In fact temperatures reached the low 70s, so it was far from cold - but not what we've become used to over the last couple of weeks. Despite the modest temperatures, we still had a spell of stormy weather - fortunately now that we can get our cars (yes both of them!) in the garage, we didn't have to do the wet dash to the front door.

The girls still had a nice time at camp and they managed to go outside during a break in the weather. I finished off the unfinished furniture, bought a car seat for Exile #4 so that I can drop the girls at camp tomorrow and Exile #2 can pick them up (a dry-run for September's school travel arrangements).

This evening we had a call from the furniture shop saying that one of the fabrics we had chosen for our sofas has been deleted and they haven't quite got enough. After considering going back to the shops to start again, we ended up going in and choosing two new fabrics. In looking for furniture shops we might have missed the first time round, Exile #2 noticed that the yellow pages is not quite the same here. For one thing there are several of them - for the different phone companies. Also they advertise things that we put up with in the UK, but rarely go out of our way to buy. One category is "Sodding Equipment and Supplies". It comes after "Sod and Sodding Services". Even knowing that they call turf 'sod' here I still found this amusing (in a schoolboy 'Good King Wenceslas' sort of way). Then again, even knowing that we call it 'turf', the high-street presence of 'Turf Accountants' might have the power to surprise an unsuspecting visitor.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 188: In the garage

Garage is a word that has caused its fair share of problems since we arrived. I pronounce it GA-ridge, my Dad would pronounce it GA-rahje, but here it's ger-AHje. Oh well, whatever you call it, I spent a very satisfying hour and a half clearing it this evening such that the van fits in (as you can see) and the Jetta will go in once the unfinished furniture (also pictured) has finished being finished (just a rub-down and a final coat of goop to go).

This means that we only have one significant pile of unsorted stuff - in one bedroom. That's still plenty of work, but at least the house is starting to be usable as we intend it to be used. I spoke to the museum about the camera again. If anyone is going from near Amherst, MA to near Albany, NY and would like to offer to collect it for me please let me know! Otherwise, I'm waiting to hear from them about sending it to me - it seems likely we'll sort it out eventually. Until then it's going to be old pictures and dodgy mobile phone shots I'm afraid.
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Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 187: Unfinished business

This morning, after dropping off the girls at camp. We managed to get a sort out a few more items of furniture. We went to a place that sells unfinished wood furniture. This is not two-legged tables and chairs with no seat, but untreated wood. We asked them to finish one item (another advantage - you can specify the piece and the colour separately), but we brought a couple of things home along with some colourless treatment for home finishing. It's marvellous stuff - thick gloop that you wipe on with a cloth - much easier than trying to brush-on varnish without it running. So far they're looking good.

This room actually looks worse than this now as we have been putting things that do not yet have a home here. We will need it to be sorted for visitors in a few weeks, but we'll need it to be sorted for own sanity before then I think.
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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Day 186: Clearing out

This evening we met some more of our neighbours while putting out the recycling and trash. We are drip-feeding packing materials for collection week by week (actually we took a load to the old house too last week so we're shifting it quite quickly).

This wasp had a burrow in our front path that was filled-in during the weeding and sweeping process. A few minutes later I watched it re-excavating it - it was shifting a lot of dirt with each trip down into the burrow. When disturbed, it took off and you could see the dry sandy soil being blown around by the down-draught from its wings. Eventually we decided that having a wasp nesting just outside the front door wasn't ideal and dealt with it more directly.

We left our church today - not something we were expecting to do after such a short time of starting to feel settled, but we have joined up with a small group of people who are planning start a new church in the city of Albany for those who find traditional ways of doing church to be irrelevant or worse. It is an exciting and daunting prospect. Leaving some friends behind was something that we could not avoid either way, but having to make a choice has been a strain. We hope that now that the decision is made we can move on with settling back down.

Talking of settling down, we have a few more days of intensive house-sorting before I go back to work and there is hope of seeing the camera again as the museum called to say they think they have found it - maybe I will be willing and able to photograph some fairly finished rooms by the end of the week.
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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Day 185: A grand day out

We were all quite exhausted today after a week of camp (for the girls) and house-sorting for Exile #2, E5N1 and me. We had two choices, one was a lazy day at home, probably lacking in inspiration and the other was to have an outing. Exile #2 recalled that we had a family pass to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art that we had won in a charity auction at school, so we decided to go. The museum is in Massachusetts, nearly two hours drive away, that way the girls would have a physical rest and hopefully some nice family time without us having to be especially inspired.

We had a great visit. Exile #3 and Exile #4 enjoyed the galleries of art, a series of films of Eric Carle stories, doing an art project involving maps (Exile #3 drew one and Exile #4 decorated one) and story time in the library. E5N1 had a slightly grouchy day by his standards, but we're still not about to complain.

I took some pictures of the art session and the girls with a VW Beetle painted as the Very Hungry Caterpillar. Unfortunately, although the artwork made it home with us, the camera did not. The first casualty of my striving to bring you pictures of our life in exile. Something to worry about tomorrow I think.

This picture is from Day 176 - but I couldn't include it then, so there's a silver lining of sorts.
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Friday, July 13, 2007

Day 184: I need a drink

We have a large car - well technically, in common with about 40% of the personal vehicles here, it's a light van - an important distinction because it means it doesn't have to comply with the same emissions rules. We have been using it to the full lately, transporting the whole family plus boxes from the other house, removing most of the seats to collect furniture from the shops etc. However, one feature we have not been able to fully use are the twelve (OK, there could be more - but I can think of twelve) cup holders. How could a maximum of seven people need 12 drinks on the go?

As you can see from this (frankly awful) picture, it's not just cars that come with integrated cup holders. How did we manage before cup holders were everywhere? I seem to recall that I've spent most of my drinking life managing OK, but those days are behind me now. Just the thought of putting a drink on a flat surface brings me out in a cold sweat.
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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Day 183: A bit of gardening

This picture is from a while ago, but the party dresses seemed appropriate for the celebration of half a year of exile. They decided it was a party-dress day and Exile #2 agreed on condition that they didn't play in the dirt. Note that in the picture they are playing with wood-chippings from the tree-felling!

Today was a cooler day than recent ones, with a high of about 78 °F compared with 94 °F for the last few days. In the same way that we surprised ourselves by getting used to the cold weather of the winter, we are acclimatising to the heat as well, sort-of. I took advantage of the more reasonable (seasonable?) temperature to cut the grass again. It may not really qualify as gardening, but it will have to do for now.

We got quite a few other jobs done today, acquired some lamps for the front room, air-beds for visitors (doubling as TV-watching furniture for now) and nightstands (bedside tables) for the girls. We also removed our last belongings from the other house (except for a couple of things we've since remembered of course!). It's a tiring process, but we're getting there.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Day 182: Full speed ahead

Today we cashed-in on yesterday's efforts with furniture shopping and furnished two and a half rooms. The half was the kitchen. We bought a table and chairs - these are the only items we have actually received and (this evening while Exile #2 is out at homegroup) put together. We have also bought sofas and a bedroom suite which will be arriving gradually over the next few weeks.

Apparently Exile #4 fell asleep during story-time at camp this afternoon. She also had a nap in the car after tea when we went to collect the kitchen furniture. Still, by 6.30 pm she was literally falling down tired and Exile #3 was rapidly flagging. They both went out like a/with the light.

The picture is of Exile #3's first cycle ride around the new neighbourhood. Just after this we had a small-world moment when we met a lady who has a daughter at Cambridge University and whose husband is from Doncaster - she herself has triple nationality - Thai, English and US. She has a remarkable accent of her own as you might expect, but when she says "Yorkshire" and "Doncaster" she says them (as she has always heard them from her husband and his family presumably) with a wonderful Yorkshire accent.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day 181: Trick of the eyes

It has not escaped my notice that today, we have been in exile for six months. However, we have clearly not been here half a year yet (365/2 > 181) so I'll leave the celebrations for a couple of days.

E5N1's eyes are quite remarkable at the moment. They appear to be a sort of dark grey colour. This is significant for a couple of reasons. Firstly, several people have recently commented on his 'blue eyes' and secondly, the passport application form has a place to specify 'eye color'. I suspect they are turning brown, but I could be being fooled.

At the moment Exile #2 and I are sleeping in the guest room in our UK bed while we shop for some new bedroom furniture for the master bedroom. Before we moved in, we made sure we had coverings (blackout blinds) for the two bedrooms we planned on using - the master and the girls' room. This means that we have no window coverings at all in our current room. This resulted, when I came to bed the other day, in me closing the door to shut out the light and looking out of the window from the darkened room. Then something caught my eye - a flashing LED in the middle of the front lawn. Hang-on, it's moved now it's at the edge of the lawn, now on the drive, now in mid-air. Weird. After excluding a reflection from something inside the room (nothing there) and a remote surveillance device (very unlikely), I came to the conclusion that it must be a firefly.

I was still uncertain, so on Sunday I dragged Exile #2 to the window to see if we could see them again. We spotted several, and saw some again last night at the side of the house. I also convinced myself it was possible due to their presence in the area and I found this film which is one of several cool ones of fireflies I found. I hope you like it.
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Monday, July 9, 2007

Day 180: Sleeping through

Yes E5N1 is now sleeping through the night (as long as 5 am counts as morning).

This evening (at about 7 pm) we had a very violent thunderstorm. Exile #2 and I are not ashamed to admit to being a bit nervous even in our own house. One strike must have been just down the road. Flash and bang (not really like thunder at all) were simultaneous as far as we could tell. A few minutes later we heard sirens. The road outside was flowing with surface water because the rain was so hard at times. We lost power once for about 2 minutes.

This came at the end of a good day. A plumber came and did a very thorough job of clearing our pipes and hopefully sorting out two root-causes of the problem. The cable guy came and sorted us out with TV, phone and internet (hooray!). What a joy to be typing this on a full keyboard again. We bought every small appliance in the hardware store (or so it felt). Actual list: microwave, vacuum cleaner, slow cooker and iron (all things we couldn't bring thanks to the mains-supply differences except the slow cooker which is Exile #2's birthday present) and various other items. Front room, dining room and kitchen are all basically unpacked and up-and-running.

We were able to get all this done because the girls were at camp all day (9 to 3), at the school. For Exile #4 this is probably quite a shock to the system - effectively a full day of pre-school with no ramp-up. The both had a great time by all accounts but were quite tired by the end of the day - good thing too - they slept soundly through the storm.
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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Day 179: Like a terrible simile

On CNN today there was a news story about a forest fire in Idaho. Apparently it is spreading like wild fire. Profound indeed.

The plumbing has beaten me. A new auger has been and gone without solving the problem. So it's plumber time. At least we have now rigged-up a way of draining the sink into a bucket for emptying into the toilet. Not glamorous but effective.

Hopefully we will have internet access by tomorrow lunchtime. Normal service should then be resumed.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Day 178: Down the drain

Well it wasn't much of a birthday celebration. The day started with a blocked toilet - now that is a regular occurrence here thanks to US soil-pipe design - I just put the auger down to unblock it 15 minutes later I had a blocked toilet and a stuck auger. Great! A couple of hours later we had a smelly bathroom, an unblocked toilet and a still stuck auger and so it stayed.

Later, we noticed that the kitchen sink was draining slowly and to cut a long story short we have now used all our towels mopping up water (or possibly diluted drain-unblocker solution) from the kitchen floor and we still have a blocked drain.

In the evening, John and Tammy came over for some dinner and a discussion of the new church they have been planning. It was a welcome break from the plumbing and later John managed to pull the by-then-broken auger out of the toilet. So at least only one room is out of action - shame it's the kitchen.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Day 177: All's well

We're in. The girls are asleep in their beds. Exile #2 is going to bed via a feed for E5N1. I'm watching Matrix Revolutions (looks good, makes no sense) on our new TV. The new TV has been one of the struggles of the day. I had ordered one from Tiger Direct's website or so I thought. In fact it turns out that their website is less than it appears - more like writing them a request than actual joined up.e-commerce - when someone looked at my order they noticed that I had taken them up on their offer to ship to an address (here) other than the billing address (Exile Central 0). Anyway far from delivering it today as their website had suggested, the order was on hold. Their website (see the pattern?) said that they would contact me if they needed anything from me, but I called them anyway only to find out in amongst lots of evasion, messing around and good old fashioned lies (estimated delivery date means the day it leaves our site)! That they would only ship to the billing address and that the earliest it could arrive would be next Tuesday. I cancelled the order and we visited a shop. All's well!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Day 176: teleblogging

The best laid plans can sometimes go astray. We did quite well with preparing for the packers and as a result as I sit in the office amongst the boxes, almost all the things that should be in them are and most of the things that shouldn't be aren't. However, a lampshade and a wireless router are in when they should be out. So, no picture, at least until tomorrow and a lot of typing on my 20 key Blackberry keyboard.

I spent most of the day at the new house doing some odd jobs while a lady called Tara installed air conditioning and a nice man cleaned our two carpets. Ah, cream is always a difficult one. Was his discouraging opening gambit, but he did a good job (I think). Meanwhile Exile #2 had all three children and the packers to deal with.

After both houses had been vacated by all visitors, we had a very nice family outing to Washington Park (of tulip fame) so that the girls could burn of some of their cooped-up-all-day energy at the playground. We followed that with a nice meal at a Mexican place nearby. We have now returned to our unexpectedly de-interneted house. I'm sorry to say I was a bit cross about it. Sorry Exile #2. Evidently it is possible to blog from mobile phone. I hope I won't be making a habit of it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Day 175: Happy 3rd, 5th, 4th

"Happy 4th" seems to be an acceptable greeting for Independence Day. Since we've already had a Happy 3rd and a Happy 5th in the last month - it seems reasonable enough.

Today has had two very different elements. The morning and the late evening have been taken up with preparing for the packing phase of our move that will begin with the arrival of the removal company in the morning. The house contains a mixture of our stuff and rented furniture and housewares, so we have been trying to bring some order by moving things around and doing some tidying. I won't pretend we've made a great success of the latter, but we've done plenty of the former. It's now as good as it's going to be - not good - but we've stopped.

The other element was a 4th of July party/barbecue/... with two homegroups from our church. The day had by far the worst weather of any in the last two weeks. Last Wednesday's storm included. So, there was barbecuing in the rain and indoor eating. I'm happy to say that the grilling was done on a real barbecue rather than the gas ranges that most people use for their deck-kitchens. We had a fantastic time. Here is E5N1 and our host passing the time of day (the 'Bumbo' he's sitting in was borrowed, but it seems like it might be time to get his out of its box again). We left before games and the chance of fireworks dragged us into staying late - sorry to poop the party, but happy to have some awake-time to get the house in order and for the girls to get to bed close to their normal time.
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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Day 174: Wild Turkey Tale

It may be 156 days since we first walked the Wild Turkey Trail +1, but we have now had a confirmed sighting of the bird in question. This family group stopped the traffic near our new house and then in mad blogger style, we chased them down a side road to get the evidence.

Today was my last day at work for a while as I have a bit of time off for the house move. Hopefully we can get properly settled in quite quickly this way. We had some rewiring done today - a new electric panel (consumer unit to the UK readers). The old one contained circuit 'breakers' that have a tendency to get stuck with the circuit made rather than breaking if they get overloaded. Horror stories here.

We were over there this evening putting the girls' beds together. A new 'twin' (i.e. single) bed for Exile #3 and her old toddler bed for Exile #4. They both seemed very happy about it and duly put themselves to bed for a few minutes.

Some time ago, when moving out here was first proposed, my colleagues and I undertook to have a game of cricket in a public place on 4th July as a gentle British answer to the celebration of American independence. Unfortunately we are not quite up to the required numbers this year, but watch this space for a post-match report on Day 540. In fact we have been invited to a more traditional celebration - if the weather holds - of barbecue (including s'mores) and a firework show. There seem to be organised firework shows in every town tomorrow, they have to be organised because buying and setting off fireworks yourself is illegal in New York. We will therefore not be setting any off ourselves - and since the rewiring was completed, we should hopefully avoid any unplanned ones too.
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