Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 2.233: Official: moth!

Exile #2 and the girls spotted this beautiful caterpillar in the back yard today. It turns out that its destiny is to be a rather plain, brown and medium sized moth, but for now it is the amazing-looking Brown-hooded Owlet Moth caterpillar - make the most of your youth little fella!

Talking of little fellas - ours woke me at 5 am shouting that he wanted the 'blue one'. If he actually knew what he wanted, I never worked it out - but in the end he went back to sleep. I did not.

Yesterday was, according to the Capital News 9 meteorologist, "The last official Sunday of August". Well, people like things to be official I suppose, so this is the last official blog-post of August. Also, actually, you know - the last blog post of August.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 2.232: See - shells!

The girls love finding seashells on the beach - it was a significant feature of our beach days in Connecticut and Cape Cod this summer. This picture is not from either of those days though - it was taken on a tiny beach on our very bug-ridden walk on Friday - on the bank of the Mohawk River. Fortunately it was one place on the walk where we could stop for more than two seconds without being besieged by biting insects. It was also a great place for skimming stones - although I did get a wet foot trying to get the perfect angle of attack.

We had a good day today - swimming, playing games, mowing the lawn (long overdue) and a really good church gathering.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 2.231: Familiar thoughts

Family has been on my mind a lot today. This morning I exchanged messages with my niece who has just received her GCSE results, at lunchtime my parents set off for the airport (and hopefully a not-too-close encounter with what's left of Tropical Storm Danny) and this afternoon we were at a baptism ceremony for some young people in our community.

At the baptism there was a lot of talk of 'joining the family' - an interesting turn of phrase especially as three of the four being baptised were sisters - but that is how our community feels and a much more appropriate phrase for us than 'becoming members of the church'. It has been great to spend time with both Exile #2's and my parents over the summer - and it is also great to be with our friends here. We have family everywhere we look.

Day 2.230: Bugs, wiser

I took the last full day of my parents' visit off work and we set off for a walk at a nearby historic and nature preserve that we had never visited. The weather seemed likely to be kind until this afternoon at least - a bit cooler than it was a week ago and dry. The place was beautiful, but the visit was rendered very uncomfortable by the amazing numbers of mosquitoes and other biting insects. If you watch carefully you can see the bugs following us in this video clip. You can also hear the amazing - but harmless - insect sounds of summer after the family walks by.

So we retreated and ended up in the afternoon at the State Museum and then having a walk first under and then through the Empire State Plaza. It was windy - something we had been wishing for when the bugs were bothering us, but this was a bit more than we needed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 2.229: Smallholding

Wikipedia: "A smallholding is a farm of small size. Often too small to be efficient..."

This is our entire tomato crop this year. Exile #2 tells me that we may also be able to eat the sunflower seeds in due course. However, I don't think that the combined harvest will make much of an impact on our household economy.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 2.228: 1 + 3 < SF

One picture from Sunday and two from yesterday of our first sunflower. Although early on several of the plants were destroyed by deer and/or insects. The ones that survived have done rather well!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 2.227: Henry and Clare

I know I don't often use full names here, but I will make an exception for Mr DeTamble and Ms Abshire - Exile #2 and I are just back from seeing their story portrayed on the big screen. Actually it was a fairly small screen at a refreshingly independent cinema and the showing was a fairly exclusive one - only six people in the audience.

It was The Time Traveler's Wife which is probably (for the moment) one of my favourite novels ever - if a little troubling at times - and as such a dangerous movie choice with so much room for disappointment. It has received fairly mediocre reviews, but we both thought it was wonderful. It captured the essence of the story beautifully, it was well acted, believable (no mean achievement when you think about it) and moving (tissues at the ready) - what more could you ask for?

Yes, of course the characters were less well developed than in the book, of course some of the gritty drama was lost, but the central story was lovingly retold. Maybe if you haven't read the book you'd find it a bit lightweight, if you didn't like the book (really - someone didn't like it?) you wouldn't like the film, but otherwise...well let's just say that we loved it.

Pictured is the similarly long-suffering blogger's wife in Times Square last week.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 2.226: A tree in the park

This was one of the surprises of the road-based section of our Aqua Ducks ride yesterday - apparently this apartment building for birds was carved from a single piece of wood.

I must have driven past it many times without seeing it - it has been there the whole time we've lived here. According to this site it was created by William Schade who died last year.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 2.225:Tired and propellered

Once again we decided to be tourists in our own city for the last day of our week of vacation. Having left the Ashes-decider test match looking basically good, but like it would go into a fifth day, we went to the Visitor Center and for a tour on the Aqua Ducks. E5N1 slept through part of the tour including the splashdown into the river, but woke up to take his turn along with the girls assisting with the boat-mode driving.

When we made it back home, we discovered that the cricket had been won with a day to spare. We toasted the team's success with a glass of wine.

Now I really must get to bed to be ready for work tomorrow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 2.224: Sufjan, newt and the underground lakes

Most journeys get under way to a chorus of "Songs, songs!" from E5N1 and often the girls too. In general he wants They Might Be Giants (123s and ABCs both currently in the car) which is fine by me but sometimes I need a change, so they downgrade their request to "Daddy's songs?". Often over the last week, "Daddy's songs" has meant Sufjan Stevens' Illinois. It's one of those albums that I like more each time I hear it. Current rating: wonderful!

This morning we drove an hour or so west and went for a morning walk in the woods. Exile #4 was the first to spot these two-inch long salamanders. There were loads of them, but I suspect we could have walked past and over them without noticing them. It turns out that they are the terrestrial juvenile form (eft) of the red-spotted newt - curiously these creatures start their lives as tadpoles and finish them as aquatic adults, but in between are like this.

We also saw some Eastern Bluebirds for the first time in about two years. After that, we visited Howe Caverns where we went on a cool (literally and figuratively) walk through the limestone caves followed by a boat ride on a 43°F lake two hundred feet below the ground.

Once again, three generations of the family had a good time. Tomorrow is our last day of undivided activities, before I return to work. As Sufjan says, "All things go, all things go."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 2.223: Downstate, downtown

Much as I'd like to perpetuate yesterday's quiz, I've decided not to.

We were in New York City for the day yesterday. We started with a drive to Poughkeepsie to pick up a Metro North train which delivered us to Grand Central Station.We spent the morning at MoMA where we thoroughly enjoyed a really impressive collection of modern art, possibly slightly unimaginatively arranged.

After lunch in Greenwich Village, we went down to Lower Manhattan to see the "Mother of Exiles" - we couldn't miss that! It was near here that we saw the wild turkey - it just came wandering across the path.Next, we walked through Chinatown - scene of two of yesterday's pictures and this one:From there we walked up onto the Brooklyn Bridge which we'd heard has some nice views.We ended the day with a visit to Times Square where I photographed George M. Cohan watching the Gap jeans advertisement and the cars and foot traffic going by.Then, back the way we came. All made possible by my parents, who supervised the kids all day - thank you!

Day 2.222: To...? Two too!

Can you work out where Exile #2 and I took these pictures today? We actually saw a tutu - if I'd realised what day it was I would have got a picture of that as well.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 2.221: Rivers progress

I took the opportunity for a classic group shot with the addition of my parents today when we took an early evening walk at Five Rivers. I'm currently recovering from a hard-disk failure (my data disk with all my photos). They are backed up and all seems OK, but until I get them copied back onto a new disk, I am one failure away from disaster!
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 2.220: Westward - hot!

The first part of the day took us up the coast a little way to this cliff-top technology commemoration. From nearby we could see the sea to both the east and the west. Our journey home took us briefly to a wildlife sanctuary, but the car outside temperature sensor was reading 100°F (it was really in the low nineties) when we returned a bit overheated to start our journey home in air-conditioned relative comfort.

To find our way, we were following signs for 'West: Boston' - not something you can do from many places. It was an easy drive - I'm sure it could have been bad on a busy day, but we had fairly free-moving traffic and good weather (apart from the heat).

Surely someone can say where we've been now?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 2.219: Tidal treasure

We visited a nearby natural history museum today. We had a great visit - including a private guided walk down to explore some tidal pools where this pile of treasures were found:

Not to mention this one:

(I meant the view, not the grandparents!)

After lunch we visited the small but appealing aquarium in the museum's basement, where E5N1 had a close encounter with some horseshoe crabs:

Exile #3 met a very blue lobster:

And Exile #4 tried to communicate with the jellyfish:

This afternoon we had a swim in the hotel pool, then dinner across the road and then six of us went for a mad dusk-jaunt to visit Trader Joe's - we had to find out what all the fuss is about. According to our shopping basket: teeny-weeny meringues and gluten-free ginger snaps!