Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 1.171: See - scapes!

Here is our second batch of garlic scapes from our CSA share. We made a very strongly flavoured pesto with the first batch - this time we made a rather more friendly-on-people-we-breathe-on pasta sauce by sautéing them chopped into inch-long sections in some olive oil with some salt and pepper. It was a very pleasing take on spaghetti all' aglio e olio. There's something spectacularly pleasing about eating something delicious that, if the major grocery stores had their way, would be completely wasted.

Talking of grocery stores, I was sent out with a shopping list after the kids went to bed this evening in search of diapers (actually Exile #2 spelled it daipers - which is the Welsh I think) and a few other essentials. Today's British-pop as American-muzak to encourage us to buy more groceries? Sleeping Satellite by Tasmin Archer. I couldn't make it up. Well, I could, but where would the fun be in that?
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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Day 1.170: Stay on the pavement

I ended yesterday's post with a comment about pavement chalk. In fact of course as most culturally-aware British people know, here in the US, a pavement is a sidewalk. If only life were that simple.

In the UK, a pavement is a walkway by a road (sidewalk), often these are made of paving slabs - the process of laying these slabs or stones is known as paving. In the US, the pavement is the road-surface, made of tarmac and the process of laying this surface is known as paving.

So, here, the girls are drawing on the pavement we had laid as our new drive(way) with sidewalk chalks. Also, American kids are taught to stay off the pavement when walking down the street, whereas British children are taught to stay on the pavement (for the same reason).

Not only did the girls work together very nicely on this one, but E5N1 also contributed to it by crawling over it and touching his forehead to each colour in turn - I'm not sure it had much effect on the picture, but it certainly left its mark on his head.

We're running out of chalk thanks to these fantastically large, bold and short-lived pictures (this one is currently being erased by an impressive thunderstorm). Now what do they call those chalks again?
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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 1.169: Once upon a driveway

...lived a girl...

...she had a spectacular ice-cream (that dripped on her head - but she didn't mind, she was wearing her flip-flops).

Then the rain came and washed her away.

Readers would probably like to know that a new artwork is already under production.

Exile #3 + Pavement chalks = so cool.
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Day 1.168: Take a pitcher...

We felt like old hands at the baseball this evening - even E5N1 was a veteran of two games. We knew enough of the rules to follow the game - even when the electronic scoreboard died. Several of the group we were with (families from the school) had been to fewer 'grown-up' baseball games than we have.

It was a good game actually with the lead changing several times and the home team (for whom - let me root, root, root!) won 8-6 in the end without playing the bottom of the ninth.

We were very late getting home. It was worth it.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 1.167: Birds, boats and...boulders?

Time for some reverse order of course! (if this post doesn't make sense you might want to read the excellent comments from my faithful pop-punning readers branching out into a new type of quiz).

In fourth place, it was indeed a Peregrine Falcon - and yes they are native to New York state. This was half of a breeding pair who live under a bridge near to our 99-liter fridge - see below.

In third place and keeping a bit of the mystery is one of Mr Rockland's team mates - or maybe an even stranger theme park - but does anyone know where they are immortalized?

At number two - USS Slater - once seen as a threat to the peregrines, now pigeon-free thanks to their presence. I'm sure it has a large fridge though.

And at number one - well I won't tell you, I'll leave it to E5N1 who enjoyed the trip, but was a little bit tired afterwards...

You might need to quack click the picture to see what I mean.

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Day 1.166: Back to normality

Not this picture (obviously) which is actually two pictures taken by Exile #3 at the Visitors' Center yesterday. However this morning I went back to work and later everyone else waved Nan and Grandad off for their return home.

Now, I set you four little picture puzzles yesterday (well one was a moving picture) - someone must have something to say about at least one of them surely?
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day 1.165: Tourism begins at home

We stayed close to home today - using our visitors as an excuse to be tourists in our own city. We visited the Visitors Center (pictured), took a tour, had a nice lunch and then walked the length of downtown to play in the park (I also made the return trip to pick up the car).

I know how you all love a quiz, so here are some mysteries to solve - identify these (feel free to answer all or just one!) - I'll publish answers (or maybe further clues) as and when seems appropriate.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Day 1.164: Just like old times

I had a day off work today and Exile #2 is starting to feel better again so we had a day out - we went to Cooperstown Farmers' Museum - about two hours' drive away (including a detour for breakfast). It is a 19th century town recreation complete with demonstrations of 'how we used to live' from people in period dress.

Somehow they make less with more than the Shaker Village but it was a very good day nevertheless. Exile #4 decided that everything was boring (but still enjoyed the carousel, the maze, the baby animals, the fairground games and ice-cream - so we didn't do too badly). E5N1 enjoyed flirting with everyone as usual and Exile #3 found most of the demonstrations genuinely interesting (as did we).

This evening Exile #2 and I walked to a local restaurant (a proper one). Apart from having a very nice walk and an excellent meal, we reflected on this being the first time we'd done this since before E5N1 was born (we did go to a burger place on our way to see Tori Amos and have done one meal at friends and another group dinner without kids in between). The rarity only enhanced our enjoyment - it was indeed just like old times.
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 1.163: Apple ale and viz. it

As I promised yesterday here are some pictures from yesterday afternoon - click on the four-year-old for more.

We had a nice day today involving a hasty retreat from a serious thunderstorm, a very slow lunch, a crowded museum and a close brush with a tornado.

The retreat was from our own garage back into the house, the lunch and museum were in Saratoga Springs, the tornado passed over our route home an hour or so after we crossed its path but didn't touch down as far as I can discover.

Exile #2 has been feeling worse than she has for about a week today - a combination of her allergic rash which is driving her mad and her antihistamines which are making her alternately high and drowsy. We're all really hoping to have her back to full strength soon.

Finally, a picture from today (for the first time in ages I failed to take my camera with me so it's a phone-camera photo) - the girls did an elaborate multiple-scene play involving the perilous existence of a penguin. Throughout, regardless of other elements of the costume she was wearing, Exile #4 wore the same footwear - before finally swapping them for some patent leather tap shoes for the closing number - so here is knight in shining armour and flippers...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day 1.162: One Exile's Party

With an hour and a bit to go before the start of Exile #3's birthday party, Exile #2 deserted us. She had a doctor's appointment booked this morning to investigate what turns out to be an allergic reaction to the medicine she was taking for an infection - sigh. She now has medication for that. If the British readers pronounce the title it sounds like an American describing her condition.

In spite of that set-back, we were nearly ready when Exile #3's classmates started arriving. As well as the same entertainments that we provided last weekend, we had a Wham-O Slip 'n' Slide. Some of the parents wanted to know where we had found such a thing, others remembered having them in their youth and others realised that the time had come to dig theirs out of winter storage. The weather was perfect - dry, sunny, not hot enough to be uncomfortable for sitting around with a cool drink, but warm enough for the kids to want to get wet.

Meanwhile the adults enjoyed a little side-party - it reminded us again that we had been planning to have a house-warming but nearly a year-on have not managed to arrange it.

After the party and a basic clean-up (and a brief snooze), we ventured out to Hoffman's Playland. It was almost a carbon-copy of our excellent visit on Exile #3's birthday last year (except for the grandparents - and everyone being a year older) - wow she looks young in that picture! I'll save this year's photos for another day.
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Friday, June 20, 2008

Day 1.161: Sweet six scene

Happy Birthday Exile #3 - six today!

Once again, it was cupcakes on her birthday - although she only has one day to wait for her full-size birthday cake since her party is tomorrow.

It was a normal work day for me - in between present-openings and cupcakes - which was something of a surprise since I thought I had an early meeting and an afternoon interview. Both were postponed until next week.

The other excitement of this week has been the first instalment of our CSA share - this is a vegetable scheme, but unlike the one we used in the UK, all the produce comes from one local farm. As well as some excellent looking fruit and vegetables, we are enjoying the 'Operating instructions' - you can read them for yourself but here are some highlights:
We know that you understand vegetables. Nobody needs to tell you what to do with lovage or how to make a great pasta sauce with garlic scapes.

You may wish to wash the produce before preparing it ... grown in close proximity to soil due to unavoidable circumstances...

It even has a section of small print full of equally tongue-in-cheek disclaimers. Tasty and amusing - my life is complete.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day 1.160: What's so funny?

I came home from work in time for all seven of us to sit down for a meal together this evening. E5N1 was in mixed form - extremely cheerful when happy and then suddenly beating on the tray of his high-chair in frustration and shouting about it at the top of his voice.

Eventually Exile #2 exclaimed, "What are we going to do with you?"

"Send him to bed," sighed Exile #4. Then, "Why is everybody laughing?"

We never did find out what was going on with him - just impatient for everything I think - and a little tired. We put him to bed.

The rest of the evening was punctuated by Exile #3 uttering variations on "Yippee the day is over!" Not that she's had a bad day, but tomorrow is her birthday and unlike Exile #4 a week and a bit ago, she is unlikely to find each birthday related event a joyful surprise - not that I expect that to spoil it for her one bit.

Talking of joyful surprises, Exile #4 loved these rainbow-coloured bubbles. The girls made up an elaborate story around them that I never got my head around. Last bubble picture (for now) I promise.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day 1.159: All grown up

I thought that E5N1 looked particularly grown up in this outfit. In this picture his eyes look brown - as I'm pretty sure they intend to be - but in real life they are still not so easily categorised. His passport application listed them as gray (or did we write 'grey'?) - which was accurate at the time - if not exactly orthodox.

The picture was taken on Sunday evening in the humid heat. Today was neither particularly hot nor humid but I was caught in a fairly dramatic thunderstorm on my way home from work - I heard an odd siren and wondered if it was a warning to the whole area about something (it didn't seem to be a moving vehicle). I called Exile #2 who confirmed that there was a warning out about this storm (including towns and arrival times) and the advice was to go inside immediately - if only I'd read that before I left work! It's calm again now.



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Day 1.158: Mission Impossible

This picture is my homage to The Prisoner, the title to both the 1960s/1970s TV show and to my day.

My mission (yes, I chose to accept it) was to help our friends make it to the UK. Despite getting them to the airport on time and subsequently taking them to another airport (rather further away), the mission turned out to be impossible. All else being well, they will still arrive in the UK tomorrow, albeit 10 hours or so later than they had hoped.

This post will not self destruct, but I may if I do not get to bed in five seconds... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... who is Number One? You are Number Six.

I am not a number...I am a free man!
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Day 1.157: The days of lazers

They're not in the jungle - and they may be sick rather than lazy - it's a hospital scene apparently. I found it on Exile #3's bedroom floor as I was taking her to bed the other night and thought it looked so cool - so much going on - from the unicorn threatening the bunny to the nurse asking the bio-hazard guy to take his gas mask off. The world of a nearly-six-year-old is strange indeed.

I was back at work today. Some time after we finished our lunch - eaten sitting outside in the sun (it wasn't too hot or humid today) - we were disturbed by the gathering clouds outside. Soon a huge storm rolled in with green clouds (a sign of hail - and tornado risk). Sure enough we were soon watching marble-sized hail gathering in piles outside the windows while the roads flooded up to the depth of the curb (kerb). A while later the sun was out and the ground was almost dry again.

Congratulations for Albaniana for her cryptic song-lyric based answer and to A for a more prosaic one, you're both quite right as you can see in the zoomed-out version below. Honourable mention to Dave for doing a lot of the hard work and eliciting a clue.

So, all that remains is to point out pop pun 58 for title watchers (that will be me then - the girl is Exile #3) and the baby with the baboon heart.
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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Day 1.156: Packing it in

So, after 521 days in exile - here is the van coming to bring us home.

Not really of course.

I spent most of the day helping friends from church pack their household possessions into this van, well most of them anyway, some went in a pick-up truck, some went in a car, some were left for later - but we did a good job of filling the van anyway.

I arrived home late in the afternoon to spend a bit of Fathers' Day with my kids. As the temperatures had finally peaked, we decided that we could manage a short shady walk - so we braved the mosquitoes in the woods. We had a very nice walk (bite free as far as we know) and took a picture standing on a slope (as you can see below).

There is still time for yesterday's mystery picture competition. Some ground has been covered so you can benefit from someone else's hard work and steal the glory for yourself!

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Day 1.155: Party games

We spent most of the morning getting ready for Exile #4's birthday party. We had the bouncy castle, gazebo and the sprinkler on the lawn, food, drinks and craft projects on the deck. Exile #2 sang some songs with the kids before the cake was brought out - chocolate with rainbow sprinkles - as requested.

Temperatures were up in the high 80's and it was very humid. The kids cooled off in the sprinkler in their swimsuits (not 'costumes' - that would be silly) so did I (but in my clothes!).

At 1.20 pm we said goodbye to the last of our guests. At 1.25 pm we heard the thunder. At 1.35 pm I felt the first drop of rain as I put the last part of the gazebo away in the garage. The bouncy castle and food were already in. I'm not quite sure how we did it. I'm also wondering if all the locals have a sixth sense about these things.

Now, a party game for all of you - a mystery picture - no post processing, except a crop. Any explanations?

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Day 1.154: Boy wonder?

This is the view into a birds' nest from our downstairs 'bathroom' window. The chicks look nearly as big as their parents now, and must be soon ready to leave the nest I would think - they are distinctively fluffy-looking though and do the whole 'absolutely silent until parent arrives with a worm then all mouth and shouting' act quite convincingly.

E5N1 has been a bit off-colour today - he woke us in the middle of last night with a fever. After his last dose of Tylenol (paracetamol) this afternoon he finally gave us a glimpse of his normal cheerful self, flashing a few of his trademark smiles and impressing his grandfather with his wielding of the contents of a toolbox.

I spent the evening trying to do some tidying in preparation for Exile #4's birthday party - with both E5N1 and Exile #2 seeming to be on the mend we made a last-minute decision not to cancel. Hopefully it will be a fun day and not too exhausting for anyone.

It's a pun title-watchers - pop in the sense of culture but not music - definitely the American kind, not the holiday-card variety.
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 1.153: Departures and arrivals

Last night, Exile #3 and I left the exhausted birthday girl and went to school for the graduation ceremony. The 'Class of 2008' are graduating from Grade 8 ready to for the four years of High School, some of them have been at the school for ten years since they were (like Exile #3 last year) four-year-old Pre-Ks. There were various songs - here is Exile #3 on stage for the Pre-K thru 3rd Grade performance and each of the graduating students gave a short speech. The invited speaker was a very eloquent former student who, having reached the grand-old-age of eighteen, was ready to offer some sage advice to the departing. Like the graduates, she played her part with aplomb - an excellent advert for the school.

During the disco (no I didn't - but Exile #3 did), I spoke to one of Exile #3's teachers from last year about how quickly the year had gone. Then I asked if she was ready for Exile #4 next year. She said she was looking forward to it - the polar-opposite of Exile #3 - she observed. I'm not sure I'd put it like that, but then again if I compare the tongue-tied four year old we brought to the US with us with the motor-mouthed one we have in the house now, I'd have to concede that she has a point.

Exile #2's parents arrived safely this afternoon, their first visit to this house (their last visit was more than a year ago, before the move). They were quickly enrolled to babysitting duty so that Exile #2 and I could pop out for supplies for Exile #4's party on Saturday.
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