Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 4.110: Old falls, new friends

The conference is over.

It was good. Really good.

Now I'm tired. Really really tired.

One of the things I managed to fit it was to encourage a couple of friends (one from out of the area) to come and see the Cohoes Falls yesterday. The falls were on good form with the river in flood.



It's just a shame that the new park is closed at this time of year. In fact, now I think about it, I believe it opens tomorrow!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 4.109: It's...a wedding

I got home rather late with our house-guest last night, but I had been informed that the girls had decided that we had to get up to watch Will & Kate's wedding ceremony at 6 am. So we did. While we were watching we had to remind the kids that our guest was asleep in the other downstairs room in our rather open-plan house. They did very well.

Right at the end when it was time for the girls to go out for the bus and for the rest of us to start our days too, E5N1 forgot and ran into the other room to find our guest having just woken up.

He didn't say "Hi!" to her - he ran back out of the room and shouted, "It's wake-ed up"!"

Welcome to our home.

When I got back this evening from the first day of the conference - also rather late - I found these commemorative craft projects.

Exile #3 made the happy couple:

Exile #4 concentrated on the new princess:

And E5N1...made this:

Eye-caramba!

Day 4.108: The wedding? singers!

At work today a couple of people worked out that not only have I taken tomorrow off work in order to celebrate the Royal Wedding with my fellow-Brits, but that I have managed to get a part in the local news media coverage of the event as a 'royal expert'.

Alas, they may have 'worked it out' but it doesn't make it true. In reality I am getting ready to help out with a little conference happening tomorrow and Saturday. Here are my old and new friends getting some musical rehearsal in during preparations this evening.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 4.107: Falls signs

Niagara Falls, NY had a few good signs when we were there last week.

Here are two that have been compromised by time and one very sensible one that surely should go without saying.


You'll be happy to know that we carefully vatched their step on the even surface, did not put any tac bottles in the blue bin and stayed out of the freezing cold water RIGHT ABOVE THE FALLS.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 4.106: Feathered friends


More photos from the weekend I'm afraid. Clockwise from top-left: an Eastern Phoebe, a couple of Red-winged Blackbirds, a partially re-plumed American Goldfinch, a White-throated Sparrow and a Canada Goose.  I'll get around to posting some photo-sets from the last two weeks on Flickr soon and then normal service can be resumed.

Talking of which, I'm halfway through my four-day working week and today it felt like summer for a while, but Exile #2 and Exile #3 are both threatening to come down with something this evening and for the second night running it is stormy.  So it's a fairly normal mix!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 4.105: Swimming at Five Rivers

Not us of course - but muskrats and beavers.


We had some good views of them during our early evening visits this weekend.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 4.104: Rivers addition


We will be returning to being a household of five tomorrow when we say goodbye to my parents.

We've had a few visits to Five Rivers and a nice walk at Peebles Island in the last few days - which I may write about in due course (subject to editing some photos etc.) For now I'll leave you with this - not that I am the one who will be subtracted from the group tomorrow.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 4.103: Cans scan (hist'ry)

We've been back for two days now. Today started out rather rainy and we decided to spend a couple of hours at the State Museum. In particular, we went to see the Canstruction event on he 4th floor.  We took five cans to vote with - Exile #2 and I allowed the other generations to participate on our behalf  - It was just as well perhaps as my favourite was probably the iPod which was not part of the competition.

After a look at each one in turn, five cans were deposited as follows:
One for the airplane
Two for Angry Birds
One for Nemo and
One for green power.


It's a small fun exhibition in a good cause and definitely worth a short visit.

It's a rather obscure reference today for pop pun 119 for title watchers  - nothing new can tell you how old you are, or what's canned.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 4.102: Erie, Ontario and home

Yesterday we said goodbye to Lake Erie and to Pennsylvania and started our journey home.  We were accompanied on the way by the BFG on audio-book which was met with a variety of age-appropriate reactions from everyone in the car.

Our first destination was not as far as home - it was to a city on another of the Great Lakes (not that we actually saw Lake Ontario as I recall) - Rochester NY.  We visited the National Museum of Play which was enormous and wonderful and overwhelming and peaceful and loud and busy and deserted - all depending on which section you are describing.  Our overall reaction - we need to go back and investigate more fully!


By the way, Exile #4 turned out to be a natural at Caterpillar but could not get the hang of Asteroids at all.

From there we drove home to find the place still standing and the fish still alive and ourselves very tired indeed.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 4.101: Near-island (quite far away)

Yesterday we decided to "Feel the Lake Effect." That's the slogan for the Visit Erie PA website - but it was a fairly accurate description of our visit to Presque Isle State Park. This narrow spit of land stretching into Lake Erie is an amazing place. The biting winds were pretty amazing too.


After a stop at the rather impressive Tom Ridge Environmental Center (including an encounter with a prehistoric giant shark mouth), we drove out into the park.  It is hard to believe that this is not seashore. It has waves, beaches, no sign of another shore... I suppose they don't call them the Great Lakes for nothing.

We ate our lunch sheltering from the wind in the car and watching (amongst other things) the Red-breasted Mergansers on the bay-side of the park.


A lot of places are called Peninsula-something in the area - a curious translation of the French name of the park into Latin*.  I suggest that the locals should remember themselves and start using the proper American translation: "Nearly-Island".

Or perhaps I should shut up and have another local beer.



* I am, in fact, aware that 'peninsula' is an English word (on both sides of the Atlantic).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 4.100: Science buff


Yesterday we spent a rather wet morning at the Buffalo Museum of Science. It's a great place - approximately on the cusp between big museum (generally difficult for our kids) and small museum (usually a hit). It's big but because of its huge scope, the individual sections don't seem overwhelming. Lots of the rooms have at least some hands-on kid-friendly activities.

The temporary Narnia exhibit was a big hit with the girls particularly (they have recently had the series as bedtime stories in between finishing Harry Potter and starting A Series of Unfortunate Events) it was a nice combination of movie costumes and props and loosely-related but fun activities, videos etc. Because we visited on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in April there was no additional charge - which made it especially satisfactory.

The title is a pun borrowed from the museum's web address.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 4.099: Ice, falls and snowfalls


Yesterday we made the short trip to Niagara Falls NY. Apart from the border crossing when we went over to the Canadian side in Year 0, I hadn't visited there for nearly 20 years. While my parents (on their first visit) walked over the Rainbow Bridge to Ontario to see the classic views of the Horseshoe Falls, we investigated what the New York State Park can offer in April.

Plenty of ice for one thing.


As a result of that, there was no chance of a boat ride - the Maid of the Mist boats were safely pulled out of the ice-covered waters, but the observation deck built above the US-side dock provided stunning views (and strangers who inexplicably adopted E5N1 and Exile #4 for their self-portraits). The workmen were still building the wooden walkways for the Cave of the Winds visitors this summer but we were able to go down and see the view both the falls and the astonishingly large seagull nesting site from the parts they have completed to date.



We met back up for lunch and then, sheltering from the increasingly convincing snow, saw the movie in the State Park Visitor Center - well except for E5N1 who took the opportunity to sleep off the morning's exertions.

The day ended with a return trip to P.F. Chang's where our second-day-in-a-row attendance was noted by the management and rewarded with some complimentary desserts.

Considering the day threatened to be a wash-out we did rather well.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 4.098: Fifteen rolls on the Erie canal

I joked before we left that the first leg of our trip (yesterday) would take us along the Erie canal "from Albany to Buffalo", but I had no idea that we would end up having a rather chilly (but mercifully dry) picnic lunch (including bread rolls) in the old canal's path right next to a preserved section.

Our post-lunch stop was at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.  Although the weather was far from ideal, we saw lots of interesting birds and the 15 mph wildlife drive was a welcome change of pace from the Thruway.


From there we drove on to Buffalo, where we had a great meal at P.F. Changs.  Our previous family experience there was far from great (we felt like we were cramping their young/cool vibe) but this experience (with two ordering from the gluten-free menu and three from the kids menu) was a success all around.


And I'll tell you about today tomorrow by which time it too will be yesterday.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 4.097: Swing into action


Exile #2 caught me doing my Tarzan impression - swinging from a vine in the woods - yesterday.

This morning, we all piled into the car and headed off for a road trip. So far we've had sun, rain, a good fall of snow, a lot of miles, a good visit and a nice meal - but I'll save the details for another day!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 4.096: Passive at Papscanee?

Six miles south of Rensselaer, the sign outlining the preserve regulations in the parking lot at the wonderfully named Papscanee Island Nature Preserve says that it is "Available to the public for passive recreation & historic/ecological intepretation ONLY."

I hope we weren't too active.

Actually our three-generation family group had a great time.  It is a small preserve but even at this generally rather bleak time of year for nature lovers there was plenty to like there.

The first short trail leads to the eastern bank of the Hudson. There is plenty of evidence of higher flood/tide waters and lots of opportunity for stone skimming (and wading in over the depth of the kids boots). Exile #3 was determined to set this piece of driftwood adrift - and so she did.


There was a fairly strong skunk-smell at one place on the beach and we re-encountered it as we headed along the trail parallel to the beach. Only after we got home did it occur to us it could possibly have been skunk cabbage rather than skunk we were smelling.


We were surrounded by the sound of trains while we were there. The road to the 'summer entrance' crosses the Amtrak lines at a gated but rather bumpy level-crossing and the bridge for the freight trains can be seen downstream from the beach.


The interpretative signs are interesting if a little curious since they don't relate to things that are actually there (with the exception of the labels on a few species of tree) but the woodland is unlike most of the woodland around here and rather appealing and the opportunity to get right to the water on the Hudson is always welcome.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 4.095: Friday Haikus #9

It is a while since
I found myself doing this:
Friday Haikus (nine)

A circle around
another circle around
another circle

Fast goose on the ice
Hot footing it, if you will
In spite of the cold

'Shade' on the ground but
All three dimensions revealed
When seen from above

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 4.094: Zero, one, two, three, ...

No this is not a follow-up to the Ichi... post which, incidentally, generated this:


I write like
William Gibson
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Although a sampling of more normal posts suggests:


I write like
Cory Doctorow
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

apparently.

And a recent non-blog piece of writing was analysed as follows:


I write like
H. P. Lovecraft
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


It would seem that I write like a North American sci-fi (possibly cyberpunk) author. Could be worse.

No, the title as really about sharing these pictures that Exile #2 picked out for E5N1's 4th birthday celebration at preschool. It is a picture as an infant and then at one, two and three years old.


We're planning a road-trip next week. Pennsylvania is our vaguely formed plan - anyone got any top tips for our three-generation party?

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