Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day 2.049: Spring hopes eternal

Once again I am tempted to make grand declarations that the snow has gone, but the truth is - there is still quite a lot of it. Our front is clear apart from the piles at the side of the drive, but about a third of the back is still covered. As we were preparing to go out for breakfast (a no-groceries-induced-treat) I filled up the bird feeder without having to walk in the snow for the first time in 2009. As we pulled into the diner parking lot it was snowing of course.

No great reveal about a major storm however - it was just a few flakes. This afternoon I walked with the girls to the library and on the way home we spent a few cool but sunny minutes at the play area nearby.

The truth is meaningful Spring is still some way off around here, but a thaw is enough for us for now.
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Day 2.048: 12 bits

0: The number of Magnatiles I contributed to this tower (even though Exile #2 assumed I'd made it - it was all Exile #4's work).
1: (am) The time I finally started to compose this post after clearing up from Rock Band night.
2: The number of days Exile #2 has been struggling with a migraine.
3: Words on Exile #
4: 's shirt
5: Letters in E5N1's latest greeting when I get home from work - 'Hi Dad!'
6: 's ...and...
7: 's - what Exile #2 said it must be raining when she emailed this weather warning to me today:


8: Number of songs completed during Rock Band night before Exile #2 discovered a blocked and overflowing toilet (a different one!)
9: Nein!
10: People here this evening.
11: Reasons I shouldn't start this type of post at this time of night.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day 2.047: Driveway art reinvented

We had a coating of snow and sleet this morning. It didn't stop a new driveway art project.

My desktop PC is also reinventing itself at the moment as 'useful'. It has gradually been descending into paralysis over the last few months. Eventually when I tried to edit one of the pictures from my new camera and found that it just would not do it, I checked out its memory situation - it's 500 MB was just not cutting it (my camera has 16 times that amount of memory!) so a quick internet purchase later, I now have a more realistic 2 GB - and a computer that seems more inclined to do what I ask of it.

I was involved in a car accident today (although my involvement was as the owner of the parked car that someone collided with). Fortunately there is only minimal surface damage to the bumper, so there's no need for me to track down the culprit. The fact that she reported the incident to security and they summoned me to come and look at it with her is also a factor.

Talking of reinventing things (as we were - look - up there), here is a video clip from a few weeks ago of Exile #4 discovering that Exile #3's umbrella can double as a musical instrument.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day 2.046: This does not auger well

No I'm not making some linguistic faux-pas about the economy - rather I'm referring to my inability to shift this plastic fish from the depths of the toilet in the main bathroom for the last few weeks.

Several times I have used my most recently acquired DIY plumbing tool (a 'maintenance grade' toilet auger) to unblock it, only for it to be blocked again within a couple of days. This week we gave up and Exile #2 called a plumber who eventually found this.

Imagine my delight on returning from work (via taking the girls to their skating lesson) to find not only a fixed plumbing issue, but this chap just waiting to have his picture taken for tonight's post. Happy days indeed.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Day 2.045: Managing the mountain

This was yesterday (figuratively - it was actually Day 2.008):

And today it's more like this:

By the way (although I wasn't talking about the weather) it was bitterly cold again today and the local consensus says it's much too early to call the end of winter at this stage - at lunchtime we exchanged stories of major snow storms in March 2007, in May and in another March after temperatures had been up to 90°F earlier in the month.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Day 2.044: One step at a time

Five Rivers - Day 2.042
It seems like everything is happening at once at the moment. Work stuff, church stuff, tax stuff, immigration stuff, ...

We're getting through it - largely thanks to Exile #2 who definitely has a higher pain threshold than me (for paperwork - what did you think I meant?).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Day 2.043: Wet weekend (day)

Sundays have fallen into something of a pattern recently - a visit to the not-too-busy YMCA swimming pool while good young Christian men are at church, roast chicken, relaxation and our church gathering. In fact swimming has not quite made it to be a regular visit and a trip to the library occurs nearly as often, but you get my point.

We made it to the pool this morning, but once there I started to feel far from full of energy - and so it has been all day. We did have a good time though - all three of the kids have reached a good level of confidence in the water even though none of them could be called a swimmer yet. We also had our roast for lunch - one of the meals that the whole family can be expected to eat with enthusiasm. Exile #2 even took the girls to the library while E5N1 napped and I crashed. So in fact, contrary to my impressions of the day, we only missed one of our regular events.

The other thing we missed was any real snow. Yes - it snowed for most of the day, but in a disappointing barely-settling South England sort of way (this winter's excitement aside!) In the middle of the day it turned to what the UK calls sleet - set snow mixing with rain. No fun for playing or photographing. I did get this picture of an American Goldfinch (winter plumage) though. Tonight it has turned cold and the wet surfaces are covered in ice. So at least I was right about continuing winter yesterday if not about its M.O.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day 2.042: They think it's all over

...but it isn't!

This afternoon, Exile #2 went out to the State Museum for 'New York in Bloom' with some of her fellow MOPS. When E5N1 got up from his nap, the rest of us went outside for a while. It was a nice, if strange, time - there is still some snow around including a fresh dusting from last night but not a complete covering by any means.

So the kids got out some summer items such as the bikes, but also ended up pretending to ski around the lawn (using some tent-poles as ski-pole substitutes). At some point Exile #4 stood at the top of one of the remaining snow banks. "Downhill is scary!" she declared before 'skiing' down the 'mountain'.

When Exile #2 arrived home we sat out on the drive with a cup of tea and watched them play (ski-poles turned into kayak paddles at some point).

When a plane flew overhead E5N1 got quite excited.

If he looks up like this tomorrow he might get a face-full of snow. We're expecting a few fresh inches during the day. Winter isn't quite done with us yet.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Day 2.041: Something for the weekend

Yesterday I left work at lunchtime and met my wife and a couple from church for lunch while their kids looked after our kids. A pretty good deal! Exile #2 spotted this as we were leaving the restaurant. We just had the food. Very good it was too.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 2.040: Blue blood and big bones

Although none of you answered my query the other day, I am ready to reveal Monday's museum eye-protection issue.

We did not need eye protection to handle the real live 'living fossils' (blue-blood and all):

That was my favourite part of the visit I think.

But we did to uncover fake fossil bones. Surprisingly, E5N1 was very good about wearing them and loved digging around even though he was too small to reach much beyond the stone-removal trough.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day 2.039: The saga continues

Back on Day 1.351 (December 27th), I shared with you the story of two snowmen. I supposed at the time that I had told the story to the end. I was wrong.

On January 18th, Exile #4 went through the recently fallen snow to see how they were doing:

This is what she found (mouseover to see what she discovered about what she found):

They may not have been in good shape, but the fallen one was certainly fairly strong (and doing better than his brother).

By Valentine's Day, they were looking even less well:

And, this morning, I thought I'd captured their last:

It may be so, but what is left of them is now covered in a layer of fresh snow (albeit of the wet, near-freezing point variety).
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day 2.038: Fifty miles per hour

It would be a massive under-statement to call this a rough calculation, but that's how fast I estimate the wing-tips of this chickadee to be travelling.

If anyone wants to check my working, you need to know that the exposure was 1/500th of a second. In that same time the Mourning Dove moved approximately nowhere.

After work today I had my 'annual' physical. It seems I am in reasonable shape. The last one was rather more than a year ago back on Day 286 - this time I resisted the temptation to get my camera out to mark the occasion.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Day 2.037: Eye protection required

Presidents Day arrived with no plan in place for how we would fill it. Eventually - spurred on by the need to find an indoor family-friendly local open-on-Presidents-Day venue - Exile #2 proposed a drive into Massachusetts to visit the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. I'm glad she did - we had a great day there.

During the visit we picked up starfish, looked at blind cave fish, turned over horseshoe crabs, watched snakes, uncovered dinosaur bones, marvelled at mummified toes and marble veils, built an igloo, identified bird-calls, investigated radioactive rocks, played with hand-puppets, sat on the ground to look at the stars and played with 1920's toys.

One of these activities required these goggles - anyone like to guess which?

One of them also required a much-appreciated merciful intervention from a museum worker - we had not realised that the portable planetarium show 'free with your admission' required tickets, so we were turned away. Exile #4 by this time was getting a little tired and did not take the disappointment well (although she did wait until we were away from the giver of the bad news before she showed it). A few minutes later he came to find us to say that he had been given some spare tickets and would smuggle all of us in - in fact I took the girls to learn about light pollution and star-navigation while Exile #2 and E5N1 walked through some more galleries.

All in all it was a great visit - and pretty good economic-downturn value at $30 for a family of five.
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day 2.036: False hopes

With Exile #4 continuing her rapid recovery, we decided a small activity was in order again. With the sun shining brightly and the snow rapidly disappearing we thought it might be nice to get some fresh air, so we went to walk in a big park just north of Albany. It was brutally cold. This is one of the few pictures I got of everyone walking forwards - for much of the time one or more of us were reversing to avoid the wind blowing on our faces. Nevertheless, we had a nice walk and for the first time E5N1 did the whole thing on foot. Afterwards, the kids played on the rather good playground there.

Now if we could just persuade E5N1 to keep his gloves on and avoid the cycle of: everyone's OK, he takes his gloves off to pick something up, he gets cold hands, he starts crying, we stop, take our gloves off to put his back on, put our gloves back on, everyone's OK, he takes his gloves off...
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Day 2.035: Hudson - Frozone

We had a short walk down by the Hudson this morning. It's still frozen as you can see. Exile #2 soon turned back with Exile #4, who has been basically OK today, but not full of energy. E5N1 walked a little further than his sister - Exile #3 did a great job of helping me keep him on the path when he had road/river options on either side. However, in the end I confined him to the pushchair where he proceeded to take off his gloves and hat and one of his boots.

This afternoon we decided to not push our energy reserves and instead had family-movie time. We watched The Incredibles (DVR'd just before Christmas) but you may have guessed that already.
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Day 2.034: I thawed we'd find that!

It's amazing what you can find when the snow finally melts - Exile #3 found Exile #4's spade and I found the needles from when Exile #2 took the Christmas tree out. It would seem that the snow that fell and covered this scene for more than a month has melted and left the historical evidence of month-old activities in place.

Exile #4 went to the doctor's today where they measured that she had a 104°F fever. It seems that despite the most inconvenient symptoms, she does not have a stomach bug - rather an ear infection (or two). Fortunately it would appear that the drugs do work and by the time I got home from work to set up for Rock Band, she was feeling much better if quite tired.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day 2.033: Back to asphalt

The ice has retreated far enough and the driveway surface (I'd call it tarmac, but they call it blacktop here) has warmed up enough for chalk-art to back in favour. Here is Exile #3 with her picture of someone in bed - apparently 'sick' with something causing red spots on her face.

She did the drawing on Sunday, but it's appropriate today as both the girls came home early from school and Exile #4 has just confirmed that she will not be fit to school tomorrow. Enough said.

Meanwhile, I've staggered through this post to bring you pop pun 96 for title watchers: we only said goodbye with words.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 2.032: Daddy time!

I don't see much of the kids during the work-week, but today was an exception. First was a daily event though - school-bus pick-up time for Exile #3. While we were waiting, we found this strange green area at the side of the house. She tells me that it's grass and the whole yard is covered with it under the snow - "Don't you remember my birthday party?"

Since that area is under the trees, I'm not calling it over yet - so our yard has been completely covered for 42 days and counting.

Exile #4 was out making snow-castles again as I left for work this morning. She was off school today because she was sick in the night. She did her best to tidy up after herself and then went back to sleep. Bless her!

This evening I came home from work to take the girls to their skating lesson. Exile #2 was home - not out as she had planned thanks to her being a bit off-colour too, but I took all three of them as planned. While the girls were on the ice (both doing well), E5N1 charmed some other spectators - two 8 or 9 year old girls - one of whom was completely smitten, the other less so - apparently even this prodigious charmer has his limits.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Day 2.031: That's a weight-off!

The rapidly melting snow has revealed just how much weight has been on top of these shrubs at the front of the house - this one is certainly not the right shape at the moment. The temperature tomorrow is due to hit 50°F (10°C) so, further significant melting (and hopefully spring-back of the foliage if not any actual Spring foliage just yet) is to be expected.

This evening, we had the last in our series of church meetings about taking a lease on a building. In the end, my greatest prayers were answered when we had a unanimous vote. Quite a turn-around from the deep disagreements and anguish of the last few weeks. I think it's been a mostly healthy process - most of us have really understood another point of view, I think most of the fears about what other people would do or say have proved unfounded and I hope we have become a stronger community.

There is still some details to be thrashed out, but we are moving forwards and with our heads unbowed.
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Day 2.030: Dances with balloons

A couple more images from the party yesterday - and evidence of fun that didn't involve eating cake!
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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day 2.029: See - deep!

We spent the middle part of the day at the birthday party of one of Exile #3's classmates. On Friday we changed our partial-attendance plan for a full family outing and I'm glad we did. The party included a viewing of a 3D film about prehistoric marine reptiles - it was a long way removed from Jaws 3D (despite including some scary sharks) and the handful of other 3D films I remember from the 80's. It was a nice combination of recreations of archaeological finds and computer-generated scenes of prehistoric seas - all with an eye for the 3D possibilities of course.

The rest of the party was more traditional - although thankfully we are now not the only people to have failed to serve ice-cream with the birthday cake. As you can see (especially if you are 'live' and try the mouse-over) it went down - and everywhere else - quite well. I also met some new people and had some interesting conversations - some inevitably interrupted by interventions into inappropriate infant (OK I'm stretching now...) behaviour.

After a bit of time to catch our breath, we had a really good church gathering tonight - a welcome break from all our other meetings. Onward into the week...
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