Monday, March 31, 2008

Day 1.080: Strange grew

There were some fantastic icicles on our walk yesterday - what's surprising is that most of them were far from vertical. Except that it's not particularly unusual - I've seen it several times this winter. This one in particular was at a fantastic angle.

Whereas this one was almost exactly vertical.

I'll give you a day or so to work out what's going on and while you're at it you can ponder pop pun #52 for title watchers (there have been quite a few recently) - I clothe them and feed them and I smile as they're taking me over.
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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Day 1.079: Snow sun and sleep

It was a beautiful day today and unlike yesterday we managed to get out and enjoy it. Thanks to the sun shining on the snow, it was a bit uncomfortably bright at times as you can see (point the mouse pointer at Exile #3 to remove her hat!). Parts of the trail had been travelled by deer, rabbits, squirrels and other unidentified mammals as well as by walkers and skiers. I think the skiers may have been pushing things a bit - although there was lots of snow in places, elsewhere it had given way to a muddy mess.

We had lunch out and everyone managed to enjoy the whole experience - something that seems hard to achieve these days. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come rather than an aberration.

When we returned home I had some preparation to do for leading the discussion at our gathering the evening but fresh air and a big meal got the better of me and I ended up having a little sleep - when I woke up I went in search of the rest of the family. It didn't take too long to find out why the house was so quiet.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Day 1.078: Whirled in white

Enough snow fell between 7 pm and 7 am for me to shovel the driveway again this morning - although the girls helped this time. We'd actually gone out to build a snowman, but the morning was too cold for the snow to stick together - Exile #4 and I did a bit of sledding too - I hadn't expected to do any more of that this end of the year. This afternoon was not good snowman weather either - it has been warm and sunny enough for a good proportion of the snow to have melted.

The rest of the day was spent with chores around the house. While I was away Exile #2 had bought a chest of drawers for Exile #3's room and the beneficiary helped me put it together. I also took all the kids on a short shopping trip to buy picture frames and our tea while Exile #2 had a quiet moment. After being quite ill for a lot of the day (even though we did have a good night's sleep), she seems much revived this evening.

It's pop pun 51 for title watchers: ...this is the golden age, and gold is the reason for the wars we wage.

I thought it was oil. And, yes, I am either 77 or 87 days late on this one.
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Friday, March 28, 2008

Day 1.077: That Spring thing

I woke up to this today. Clear, sunny - even warm. I had a reasonable day - a morning at work and then a drive to the airport. The roads around Washington DC are the closest to UK driving I've experienced here. Well, as close to UK driving as you can get on six-lanes-each-way highways. Busy, fast, slightly ill-tempered. Anyway, I made it in good time for my flight even after a delay while I looked for fuel for my rental car. I'm sure the planning authorities get a cut of the overpriced fuel sales from the rental companies in exchange for refusing to allow any gas stations on the approaches to the drop-off points. My flight back was a little late but nothing too troubling. It was absolutely full, but I was fortunate to end up having an interesting discussion about art with a graphic design student who was studying for a history of art course.

So anyway - this was in my car at one end of the flight:

And this is my car at the other end. Most of this snow ended up in the car's trunk - which I had to open to get my snow clearing tool out. I then had to scoop it out with my bare hands - ouch.

And after ushering the girls to bed I did this:

Exile #2 is sick (as quite possibly is Exile #3). I'm hoping for a good night's sleep, but...
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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Day 1.076: When I was here before

I couldn't look them in the eye.

This time, I did thanks to the wonders of Skype. This evening I have finished some work and now am typing this watching the end of 'Jane Austen's Emma' I love him - what have I done?

The call was cut short (although later reconnected) thanks to E5N1 who couldn't resist pressing whatever buttons he could reach.

Other features of the call were Exile #3 putting herself just out of shot and declaring "I'm here, but I'm invisible!"

Oh yes - and Exile #4 who did this declaring, "Look - a cow".

Pop pun #50 - I take off my helmet and hold my bat aloft in celebration of the half-century of this feature. I'm a weirdo - what the hell am I doing here?

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Day 1.075: A big hand

E5N1 was not happy on our walk on Saturday - here he is making sure we knew. Soon after this Exile #2 took him back to the car the short way, leaving the girls and me to continue the walk. Exile #2 thought he might be grumpy because of cold hands - so she kindly donated her gloves - they lasted about 5 seconds.

I drove 270 miles today with two colleagues to visit some customers it was a long day but OK. Only two more days to go in my mad work week - although I have got quite a few more miles to cover.

Early this evening, just before I got back from my trip everyone else was out in the front yard and Exile #2 was helping Exile #4 with her tree-climbing ambitions. She turned round to see that E5N1 had picked up a handful of what I would call earth or soil but is, more appropriately perhaps, called dirt here and had stuffed it into (and around) his mouth. We think he swallowed a fair amount of it - anyone would think we don't feed him.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Day 1.074: The answer my friend...

This morning we found that E5N1 had turned escapologist - he had pulled his arms out of his pyjamas and his grobag and then had turned around and put his arms back out so that he was half-naked and back-to-front but still wearing his bag. Later in the day he twice crawled right out of his trousers much to everyone else's amusement.

Exile #4 also caused her mother some merriment today by saying in the course of travelling home from school, "You don't want that - no sirree!"

This morning the girls decided to blow bubbles while we waited for Exile #3's bus pick-up. While I tried to get a good picture (this isn't exactly what I was going for - where did that breeze come from?)
They noticed that although most behaved normally - flying around and popping - some bubbles were sticking to the dry bushes and grass.

Furthermore, when they popped, the left 'shards' of themselves behind. I can only imagine that they were freezing - partially at least. I know I was.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Day 1.074: Unbalanced

Work is still insane - I have a management meeting to chair tomorrow. A trip to a customer site on Wednesday then another customer visit Thursday/Friday. When am I supposed to get any actual work done?

Ah well. I like this picture. If only the car had been the same one that had these on its bumper it would have been complete!

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Day 1.073: Oh, I see!

So today is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, or 'Easter Sunday' for short. Along with Christians and children all over the world we have been celebrating today both with a church gathering and with searching for eggs and eating chocolate. It turns out that it is almost the earliest possible date for Easter - and also that the equinox and full moon in question are not the actual astronomical events, but ecclesiastical approximations. Just when I thought I had a handle on it!

We had an email from my parents today who sent a picture of the snow they had this morning. More unusual where they are than it would be here. In the message they said that they were recalling last Easter being an exciting time. I have to say that both Exile #2 and I were totally blank about what they meant - we remembered that my parents had been here staying with us, but couldn't remember anything particular for a while.

Yesterday's walk started with this sign. The path immediately after this was a steep descent (on the way at least) and it certainly would have been difficult if that part had been icy. Later on there was ice on the path including on another fairly steep slope, but it was not until further still, that we discovered that they meant icy trail in the sense of yellow-brick road. The trail was made of ice - follow the ice trail. I suppose that this anti-path-clearing might keep things going for the cross-country skiers and snow-shoers for a few more days. Or maybe not.

Then we remembered - E5N1 was born last Easter Sunday (just). Memorable indeed!
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Day 1.072: Watch out below

It's amazing what you can find that has fallen out of the trees on a walk. We were at Five Rivers today (unrelated to Albaniana's visit - although we did suspect we'd seen their car in the parking lot). The girls were quite taken with these cones. Exile #3's is from a hemlock - but never fear European readers and classical scholars, as with so many things - hemlock is not the same here as it is elsewhere.

More disturbingly, at another point on the path we encountered this.

If you look carefully - you can see that this tree is resting on the trail (for now at least). The first 30 feet or so of it are still standing in its original location about 20 feet away.
I have no idea what could have caused such a catastrophe, but I'm glad that it had happened before our arrival.
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Day 1.071: Good-grief day

Have you ever seen anything like it?

No seriously - have another look.

Click on it.


I missed our Good Friday gathering this evening because when I got home from work Exile #3 had a fever of 103 °F. Exile #2 took Exile #4 and after the invalid went to bed I had sneaky late-night hang-out time with E5N1.

After the gathering, some Folk came over to play Rock Band - it was our best session ever by a Country mile, although the bass pedal for the drum-kit was a casualty. It broke in half with a Pop, but we managed to patch it up with some curtain-pole off-cuts and insulating tape to get it to Swing back into action for the rest of the evening. Not exactly a Classical solution but I'm working on a better fix using a Metal plate.
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day 1.070: Dusty Spring field

Spring is here - in fact it started at 1.48am. Never let it be said that we're not well informed. That said, no-one seems to have told any of the plants or trees that Spring has arrived. That side of Spring will actually happen during one week in late April when all the trees will suddenly be in leaf and then it will be 90°F again. Probably.

I had another day of meetings today, but one of them was very different from the others this week. I travelled over to school at lunchtime so that Exile #3 could show us her work. We spent time in her classroom and in the room where she takes math (another migratory 's'). It was good, if not exactly surprising to see what she had been doing and very good to hear her talk about it.

Thanks to strong winds it felt bitterly cold today - we may even have a coating of snow by morning. Springtime in Upstate New York - happy days!
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day 1.069: Miss D Window

By 6.20am this morning we were fast asleep and in need of quite bit more thanks to E5N1's efforts at midnight and at 4.30am. Just then the phone rang. Knowing it was early, but nothing else, I answered it - this is your delivery half-hour warning.

Fair enough, we were expecting a delivery today. Thanks, bye. Hang on, we were expecting a delivery in the window they told us yesterday - between 8 and 12 and the time is now 6.20am. They didn't arrive thirty minutes later however. It was more like twenty.

I had a full day of meetings at work today followed by Exile #3's skating lesson. Fresh from her forward motion breakthrough last week, she actually managed to do some skating this week. With one more week to go in her course of lessons, it was not a moment too soon.

For some reason YouTube is not accepting uploads this evening, so we'll try Google Video instead. Let me know what you think.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day 1.068: Dr Foster country

Well Exile #3 went pretty much up to her middle in it anyway. This was on Saturday and when we went inside she created another puddle by taking her boots off - it turns out they were full of water. Contrary to appearances, Exile #4 managed to stay basically dry.

It was two years ago give-or-take a week when Exile #2 and I came to visit the area together for the first time - it was grey and dreary then too, but they'd had little snow - so this melt-water surface flooding was not serious. It looks likely to get worse before it gets better with a significant storm coming in tonight - maybe even bringing a coating of snow before it turns to rain - either way they'll be more opportunities for splashing around.
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Monday, March 17, 2008

Day 1.067: Look before you leap

This was the largest pile of snow on our property this morning - there was one other. It's there because I cleared the snow of the deck a week or so ago and this is is a shady spot day-round. Quite a different story from last year. Some things are the same however - I still think it's funny that the colloquial name for the saint of the moment is pronounced the same on both sides of the Atlantic despite generally being spelled like a field for growing rice in the UK and like a burger in the US.

In looking up last year's St Patrick's Day post I was disturbed to see that it was Day 66 - and today is Day 67 + 1 year...had I lost count and missed a number out? No of course it was just that we had an extra day in the first quarter of this year.

OK - obviously a whole day of meetings at work today has not done anything for my ability to string thoughts together in a coherent way.

Grapefruit. Orangutan. Ordinarily. Drainpipe. Nocturnal. Ibex. Grapple. Health. Triumphant.
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Day 1.066: Subterranean home improves

Yesterday Exile #4 was eager to help me with my project in the basement (it wasn't mixing medicine). It went fine, but in the end she was so delighted to find where the outdoor toys had been hiding all winter that she didn't really contribute to the shelving assembly all that much as you can see. If you have sharp eyes you may be able to see her verdict at the end though.

This afternoon the girls had a playdate here with one of Exile #3's classmates. Her Dad who is something of an expert with trees and wood told us about the trees in the yard and tried to estimate the age of the hickory tree that was such a hit with the squirrels in the Fall. This evening Exile #2 was with the kids at church talking about Palm Sunday - when she asked what we might wave if someone important was in a parade here Exile #4, thinking no doubt about palm leaves, suggested 'pine cones'. Now there's a thought.

They're coming thick and fast at the moment - pop pun 49 for title watchers (I can't believe no-one's getting any of these): twenty years of schooling and they put you on the day shift.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Day 1.065: Sapped!

I think it's fair to say we've all been a bit tired today. Obviously we all know why Exile #2 and I had failed to get enough sleep, but it's less clear why the kids have been off their best form. It hasn't stopped us filling the day. Exile #2 had a breakfast meeting (while the rest of us had breakfast). Then, when she got home we did some chores around the house. After lunch, we went to Five Rivers to see how maple syrup is made.

The girls drilled holes to put a tap in (admittedly to a small piece of long-dead pine rather than a live maple tree). Then we saw some real taps in action - the moving pictures show how quickly the sap is flowing - just as well since the process of getting from sap to syrup reportedly involves a 40:1 volume reduction.

We saw the evaporation process in action and (all-importantly for some) sampled the finished article. As we were finishing the maple tour we ran into friends of the girls from school and hung out with them for a while threading in some adult conversation amongst the childhood angst and trying to prevent E5N1 from eating random things picked up from the ground inside and out.

We picked up Japanese take-out on the way home - Exile #4 tried some sushi and claimed to like it (her tastes are definitely more cosmopolitan than her sister's at the moment) but she refused a second helping. We were happy to eat the rest of it while they had tempura and teryaki instead.
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Day 1.064: Rock and Pi Baby!

It was Pi Day today - March 14th (3.14). I understand that they had a special assembly at school at 1.59 (3.14159). We sent Exile #3 with a copy of Kate Bush's song Pi (from the much-loved-by-us album Aerial) the lyrics in the choruses are the first hundred digits or so of the famous irrational number.

This evening, Exile #2 and I congratulated ourselves on a week over and a weekend beginning by attempting the "Endless Setlist" on Rock Band - Electric of Nouns took to the stage in glory and played the gig of their lives. The crowd loved it.

Here's the band (including my alter-ego on the left playing bass):

And here is Exile #2's drumming persona Donna:

As you can see we kept polishing the songs off with ease:
Finally it came to this:
It happened three times and on the third we decided that we needed sleep more than another attempt to attain our nearly-earned Legendary Status, so we have absolutely nothing to show for all our efforts except some aching muscles.

Oh well - said Exile #2 as we were switching off - think of it as a workout. Quite right and we needed one to make up for all the pi earlier in the day. Sorry.
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