Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 1.202: A rotten peach in my dish

Exile #2 and I ate dinner outside when I arrived home from work. I had a babysitting appointment for later in the evening. E5N1 ate a share of Exile #2's pasta and then, when we rejected these sad, dry flavourless (but not actually rotten) peach slices, munched his way through most of them.

I spent the middle part of the evening recovering dining chairs (ours), drinking beer (theirs) and chatting with the Boy at Albaniana's. When I got home we watched the semi-final results show for So You Think You Can Dance. Contemporary Dance is one of the things that Exile #2 and I have often enjoyed watching together over the last 15 years or so and although it is basically a TV talent show, the dancing (in these latter stages at least) is really great. Oh yeah, and our favourites got through to next week's final.

These random thoughts lead naturally to pop pun 67 for title watchers: Nature's candy in my hand or can or a pie - Look out!
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 1.201: A little alien

The picture is from the rather excellent Zula Patrol exhibit at the EcoTarium last Sunday. A few days ago, I had a comment - one of about 200 to date (thank you all!) - accusing me of shifting language usage and I promised a post explaining myself. Here it is.

Except when I occasionally do otherwise for effect, I write here in what I consider to be my natural (internal) voice. That is I write the way I think. For the most part - and I could hardly call myself an exile if it were otherwise - that is in British English.

My actual language usage on a day to day basis is much more mixed. I work in a small office split nearly 50/50 between expats from the UK and locals and I enjoy the mental challenge of translating a lot of what I say into the local vernacular. In other contexts, the need to communicate effectively necessitates adjusting the words I use and the way I pronounce them. If I say 'water' or 'tomato' or 'carton' in my pre-2007 accent, I get too many blank looks - and that stops being fun pretty quickly. Similarly, I may sometimes keep 'notes' in my wallet but I can't use them to pay for things and people would give me a strange look if I said that it was cold enough for me to wear a 'jumper' (and not just because of the current weather).

So, why was I changing E5N1's diaper? Because most of the time that's how I think of what he wears, that's how I refer to them to him, to all the people around, that's what we buy in the 'store'... Now if we were talking about Exile #4 - she definitely wore nappies. It may not be consistent but it's the way I think - 'shifting language usage'? maybe a little, but I don't think I'll be slipping into dropping the 'h' from 'herbs' any time soon.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 1.200: Er ist nicht ein Auslander

We were back at the baseball tonight. We spent the evening watching E5N1 enjoying his 'national pastime' - mostly by charming the socks off everyone around. We were there with some colleagues, families and friends including these local bloggers - you'll be relieved to know that no-one was eaten in the aftermath of this picture.

Meanwhile, the girls spent a large part of the time entertaining themselves with Albaniana's clan. So we found ourselves at odd times without any children on our hands (or our laps).

The home team lost - I'm not sure they've won a game since the last time we were here but we agreed that the fireworks were even better than last time.

So, it's obscure foreign language pop pun 66 for title watchers on the day when we thought that blog would eat itself: shout loud in the crowd! (Er ist nicht, aber ich bin).
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 1.199: The Ocean State

On Saturday evening, we left the beach and went and checked into our hotel (20 minutes away) where we managed to wash most of the very fine sand off ourselves before returning to within a mile of the beach to visit George's of Galilee, a seafood restaurant serving local fish and seafood. Very nice it was too. While we were waiting for the food to come, E5N1, more than a bit tired, got a bit restless, so I took him out for a walk. Above is a picture taken on the beach by the restaurant. This was the view from the parking lot.

After dinner, we all had a little walk around and Exile #3 stood very still at almost the same spot to watch one of the Block Island ferries come in.

The buildings in the background are in Jerusalem by the way.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 1.198: From Galilee to Bethlehem

We woke this morning to rain - and the threat of much more, the weather forecast read something like - showers and risk of thunderstorms until 9 am, scattered thunderstorms from 11 am until 1 pm, then thunderstorms. We decided that the beach might not be the best plan. So, we headed North to visit the EcoTarium - rapidly researched before breakfast and chosen for its indoor/outdoor nature and location. It's a mixture of zoo and science museum and park and planetarium (and several other things probably). It was hard to find a representative picture, so instead - I chose one with everyone (except me) in it.

As you can see - the kids had caught the sand-play bug yesterday.

We spent the whole day expecting the storms to arrive at any minute. They arrived during one of the minutes I spent changing E5N1's diaper. We were already preparing to leave to start our journey home. We ended up running to the car as the rain started and the black clouds gathered.

Soon we were engulfed.

However, we made it home safely and thankfully not much of the journey was spent peering through weather like this.

There is a magical quality to these one-night getaways, we feel like we've had a holiday, and been away for ages, we've taken 250 pictures (although many of them are rubbish of course) and we were only away from home for just over 36 hours. Excellent.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 1.197: The state of the ocean

We drove all morning through across two state lines to get to our mini-break destination. This is actually a family tradition - the one-night-away seaside trip - although the last time we did one was in Norfolk and Exile #4 was younger than E5N1 is now I think.

The girls were quite happy to be on a sandy beach - little angels both!

and so was E5N1 - he didn't stay in our bring-your-own shade for very long.

The beach was quite busy - well let's say absolutely packed. Not that that stopped us enjoying ourselves - sandcastles built and knocked down, waves jumped over and splashed through, swimming in the sea, sand sandwiches...

It turns out that one reason for the crowds (apart from the sunny summer Saturday effect) was that some of the other local beaches are shut due to pollution overflow during the recent rainstorms. We didn't know that then of course. Not surprisingly with the congestion, there were several tannoy announcements about lost children - all followed by 'now reunited' announcements - and little ripples of applause.

At one point, Exile #2 and Exile #3 went down to the sea, leaving me looking after E5N1 and keeping an eye on Exile #4 who had gone to play on the 'swings'.

Me: I saw her a couple of minutes ago, but I've lost track of her.
Exile #2 (unconcerned): I'll go and check
...a couple of minutes later...
Exile #2: I can't see her.
Me (slightly concerned): I'll go and look, you stay here with the others.
...after looking all around the area of the swings and climbing frame I still hadn't located her, so I was just about to go and find the ranger's office or whatever when:

Tannoy: We have a lost girl on the beach. She's 4, her name is --, she's wearing a purple princess bathing suit and looking for her mommy. She's at chair number 2, if you came here with --, please come and collect her.

So we did, but before you think we're too terribly delinquent - this was the route she needed to take 'through the crowds' to get back to us. It shouldn't really have been too taxing.

So, it turns out we were hard to find - do you know where we've travelled to?

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 1.196: Shushing Action

I spent the day in the car (with a few brief breaks to do some work) and we've spent the evening getting ready for a little trip tomorrow. None of this is very interesting and as a result I just found myself looking through the photo-archives and found this from one of our local book stores. Exile #2 was a librarian for a (short) while you know. Click on the picture for more (including a link to the real-life librarian this 'action figure' was modelled on.
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 1.195: Choing choing

Although British people are not renowned for their linguistic skills in mainland Europe, most of us learn French as a second language. Fair enough, it is just across the channel and you can get there over, on or under the (rock under the) water these days. Indeed, in my youth we used to take our family summer holidays there. One of our little pleasures was the literal translations of English idioms into French. Whether any of the natives ever heard us I don't know, but one that has stuck with me in the intervening 20 years or so is "faire une oreille de cochon" (make a pig's ear).

So you can imagine my surprise when standing at the checkout in Walmart one day, I saw this product. Oreilles de cochon! I took a very patient but bewildered Exile #3 to a previously unvisited corner of the store where I discovered that they are indeed (and advertise themselves very boldly in English as such) Pig Ears. What dog (or dog owner) could resist such a delicacy?

By the way, the title is what we once overheard a young waiter saying under his breath as he approached us in a restaurant in France having a good English laugh about something. I suppose it epitomised the non-French sounds he heard us making - whether it is a common cliche or his own fabrication I don't know but either way I assume he then went off and had a good hon-hee-hon-hee-hon with his amis about it.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 1.194: Goodbye to high and dry

For the last six hours I have received some kind of severe weather bulletin each hour. These have mostly been flash-flooding related, although we now have a severe thunderstorm watch in place for the next six hours. The most dramatic of these was the warning at 6 pm this evening which contained lots of useful advice on dealing with a flooding situation - amongst it, "DON'T DROWN". I'll try to remember that one.

Here's my summary of the weather situation. It is raining hard and likely to keep doing so almost continuously until tomorrow afternoon - big weather once again! So, to keep us all in cheerful mood, it's pop pun 65 for title watchers (apparently 156 days later). Underwater? Tell me to breathe easy!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 1.193: Roll-up roll-up!

As I was leaving work yesterday, Exile #2 phoned to say that the girls would like to invite me to see their show. When I got home, I was treated to advertising posters, a person invitation/ticket and then, not just one show, but a double bill.

The girls had done most of the work as far as I can work out, engaging Exile #2's services as secretary and narrator. The first piece was a brief retelling (no I think 're-imagining' is the 21st century word) of the story of The Little Mermaid. However, the second piece was a much more involved story including monsters, unicorns, flying horses, Dora (the Explorer) and even some special effects.

Here is the dramatic opening with the amazing how-do-they-do-it transformation scene and the arrival and departure of the monster. Classic stuff!

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 1.192: Word: robe-malfunction?

I bought Exile #2 a gadget for her birthday - I think that's pretty much the unforgivable sin of husbanding, but after nearly 14 years you can get away with the odd minor indiscretion of this type (I hope). The idea was to make the process of making a shopping list easier. The gadget is a voice-recognition list creating machine. When you realise you need to add something to the list, you simply press the button, say the product name and it is added to the list.

Of course, sometimes people have great difficulty understanding what we say. The machine sometimes has the same problem - we could reprogram it to understand British English, we could do our best (getting better) US accents, or we can relish the misunderstandings. In fact we've done a bit of all three. Here is an example of the third.

Warning: those who felt that the 2004 Super Bowl half-time 'incident' was a threat to civilisation should not play this video.

Well, you wouldn't want to run out, would you?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 1.191: Isn't it ionic?

Here are two chips off the old block - the girls discovering about chemistry at the Schenectady Museum yesterday. The whole educational session on Chemistry went something like this:

Exile #3: What's Chemistry?
Exile #2: Did you know that's what Daddy studied?
Exile #3: No!
Me: Chemistry is the science of how different substances interact with each other.
Me: Now, stand there and look intelligent.
Exile #3 and Exile #4: Can we take these off now?

I also reminded her of our one other chemical moment of recent months when we made diluted vinegar go fizzy by adding baking soda.

The rest of the museum is an ode to the very clever technical people and successful engineering businesses of Schenectady over the years and is for the most part very nicely done, if a little parochial at times.

Today I saw a male hummingbird at the same spot we saw the female yesterday and we succeeded in completing a re-upholstering job on two (out of six) dining chairs. We also had a good time at church - our little fellowship is now a year old, but today we celebrated the 3rd birthday of one of the members and ate a fantastic ice-cream-van-cake - how big a community do we need to have a 90% chance of having birthday cake every Sunday if everyone celebrates with a cake on the nearest Sunday to their actual birthday..?

Since you've been playing so nicely, it's pop pun 64 for title watchers (don't mix the wrong chemicals or...) everything blows up in your face.
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 1.190: Hmmm, bird?

Can you see it?

We were distracted from our lunch by a very obliging Ruby-throated Hummingbird, which despite shunning our feeder (not this one, the hummingbird nectar feeder), stayed in clear view of the house for a good 20 minutes, perching in the tree and feeding at the flowers below. Both the girls got a good look and then she even hung around while I fetched my camera - almost unheard-of.

They are almost unbelievably tiny. We watched what appeared to be a territorial dispute between her and a bee - she only looked to be about twice its size. For more scale-revealing pictures have a look here.

Have you spotted her yet? She is just left of centre sitting on the bare twig.

No-one wants to see hummingbirds perching however, you want to see them humming - so here you go!

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Day 1.189: Postal failure

I've nothing to say.
My apologies.

This is E5N1 playing with his garage.
I just realised that garage means car-park here!
Rock Banding with friends until late.
Exciting hail-dropping thunderstorm during evening.
Dozed off at keyboard - must get to bed!
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 1.188: Catch me if you can

I had the pleasure of two short sessions of spending time with E5N1 today. The first one was at lunchtime so that Exile #2 could go to an appointment unencumbered. The second was at bedtime - the girls were playing outside and Exile #2 had gone out for the evening.

On both occasions, he barely stopped moving - it's getting nearly as hard to get a decent photo of him as it is of Exile #3, although not for the same reasons - Exile #3 runs around shouting 'no pictures!', whereas E5N1 tends to go straight for the camera (as you can see in yesterday's clip) - keen (presumably) to see 'how it works' - the only answer he is getting right now is 'it works fine - so please leave it alone!'
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 1.187: Space innovators

The girls have been at camp this week, having space-related fun at school. Today. Exile #3 has been building a model of Saturn and Exile #4 has been painting Neptune and cooking and eating blueberry-muffin asteroids. All this has allowed Exile #2 to take the other members of the family to some appointments (i.e. E5N1 and the car). Somehow between the camp-runs and the appointments she has already found time to transform two rooms in the house. Our bedroom (often neglected due to its non-public status) now has a desk with clear surface and a clear and tidy corner that had previously been occupied by the last remaining boxes dating from our move and this evening Exile #3 has a clear and clean carpet and a tidy room - and a challenge to keep it that way!

E5N1 meanwhile has had the run of the place during the day and that is becoming increasingly problematic - he is now combining his penchant for messing with (and if possible destroying) things with increased speed and mobility including climbing-stairs and now, to our relief, a reasonably safe descending-stairs technique - hopefully he'll conquer that before he beats my dodgy improvised stair-gate arrangement. This is how he gave the girls a send-off on Monday morning.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 1.186: Few jet if Mo tells 'em where

Here is E5N1 sliding in solitude - previously he ran (well crawled at top speed) in the opposite direction when the girls and their neighbourhood friend threatened to take him into the bouncy-bounce with them, but when their game took them elsewhere he had lots of fun on the slide.

In the dust bowl, it's pop pun 63 for title watchers (Exile #2 thinks it's time I was in bed). 'I'm tired,' I said. 'You always look tired,' she said.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Day 1.185: Bars (steel) day

Look Initially Because Everyday Rolling Trucks Ever Eastward Go Along Looping Interstates Towards Earthworks. Formidable, Really Amazing Tooling (Engineers Recognised Not Its True End)*.

* I took the picture back in March (hard to believe now the place ever looked so grey and bleak). Today seemed like the right day to say all this.
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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 1.184: Vetch, The Wet

The picture is some vetch from one of our recent walks - Exile #4 is very keen on spotting flowers - and is very good at it. These were easy, but even tiny white flowers rarely escape her notice.

Tonight we had a severe weather warning (I have signed up for alerts in case we get caught in the path of a thunderstorm when we're out and about). Tonight's is a "HYDROLOGIC ADVISORY" - apparently it's going to rain ... a lot ... and there may be flooding.

Fortunately I managed to get the grass cut this morning - if I hadn't, thanks to warm wet weather, it would probably be looking something like this by next weekend.
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 1.183: Merry Dalek Day

Our kitchen pedal-bin recently stopped working and this morning I declared the pedal-lid-lifting mechanism to be irreparable. Since our consciences would not allow us to do the patriotic* thing and rush out to Walmart for a cheap imported replacement, I elected to stick a handle on the lid instead. While I was supergluing, I re-attached the legs on this Anne of Green Gables doll known as Mary-Alice, or "Merry Ellis" as Exile #3 says it.

The be-handled bin looked disturbingly Dalek-like. It was a short-lived solution - the handle caught on the in-bin bucket and flew off - it's now sitting on the sloping part of the lid, still poised to exterminate anyone who approaches it however.

This afternoon we were at a birthday party (E5N1 charmed all-comers) and followed it up with shoe-shopping - the girls are going to be at camp next week and so really need some sensible and well-fitting footwear. Exile #2 and I had our dinner sitting on the deck in the slightly-cooling breeze after the kids were in bed - very nice indeed.

*One of my colleagues is thinking of spending his 'economic stimulus' check (tax rebate) on a gun - this may actually be one of the few ways to spend it that is not just buying imported goods and therefore stimulating someone else's economy. It's also wonderfully American.
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 1.182: The magic round about

We went for a quick walk after tea this evening. Just a stroll around one of our most commonly visited trails around the Beaver Pond at our most local walking destination.

It turned out to be a wild ride.

First, a close encounter with a Bullfrog (or is it a Green Frog?)...

A Painted Turtle...

Here he is again with his frankly huge cousin Snapping Turtle!

And, finally a really good view of this. "Look, it looks like a dog swimming!" and it did - a big dog at that. We knew they were here from seeing lodges and felled trees and flooded woodland, but this was our first view of a fully-grown American Beaver.

One more group of animals seen on the trail tonight were more obliging about my photography...

I think we might go there in the evening again.

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