Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 3.202: Jet-lag and the young photographer

We have travelled across the country to visit Exile #2's family and some friends from our life before the life before The Exile.

After a fairly lousy journey and a slightly sleepy afternoon, we shook a leg and walked a mile or so to go out for dinner - which was great.

Later, while Exile #2 was reading Harry Potter to the girls, I was 'supervising' E5N1 who decided to further his photography skills. This is an insight into his world:

I think the kids have finally all settled down - after they had all rebelled against sleep - and now I am just waking up!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 3.201: No laughing matter

These are the pictures from our (hopefully) newly renewed visas. We were not allowed to smile.

Exile #2 and I spent the morning travelling to London and sitting around in the US Embassy.  It all went very straightforwardly.  Afterwards, we were able to cope with our complete lack of electronic devices - I only realised after we'd arrived in London that I use my mobile phone as a timepiece as well as a communication device - and meet our friend Deborah for her lunch-break in Camden before we returned to my parents and our children.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 3.200: African Queen - African time?

Since online check-in had failed for our booking today, we set off in good time and arrived at the terminal about three hours before the scheduled departure time. By the time we checked-in they already knew that our flight would be delayed by more than two hours due to the outbound flight being late.

So, we were wise enough to delay our trip through security and instead explore Boston Logan Airport a little. We ended up having a very nice meal at Legal Seafoods in Terminal C - we also discovered that Terminal C was built as the international terminal in 1964. I don't know when Terminal E replaced it, and now that we're not trying to kill five hours at Boston airport I don't much care either!

We watched our plane land (on the delayed schedule) and then saw as it taxied past that it was called "African Queen."

When the boarding-hour for the delayed flight finally arrived, they announced that they were now investigating a possible technical problem and would know more in half an hour. Forty minutes later they announced that there would be another announcement in an hour. That meant 11pm - our scheduled departure having been 7.45pm. We were all getting quite tired by then - especially the kids. In the end, that hour turned into 20 minutes - and we were boarding at about 10.30pm.

The rest of the journey was smooth and our dread at an unplanned night in Boston made us all the more appreciative of that.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 3.199: Phone - home?

This phone box is at Browns brew-pub in Troy NY, but I imagine it started its life in England - as three of the five of us did. We're on our way back there at the moment (all being well) and it will be interesting to see how much it feels like home to us.

See you at the other side!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 3.198: Swamped!

We spotted this sign as we drove along the Hudson riverfront in Troy on Saturday. The water level is normally about ten feet below road level - so for it to have been about ten feet higher than road level is quite a scary thought.

We may not be experiencing physical flooding at the moment, but we are also a bit swamped with plans for our trip and thoughts about the future. Hopefully things will start to slot into place over the next few days. Recent progress has been in the opposite direction.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 3.197: Astronomy 101 (aka Solar System 5238)

I like to think you come here for my witty words and impressive photography, but who am I trying to fool? Here is E5N1 singing about the solar system.

In case you're not aware of his source material - you can enjoy it here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 3.196: Poestenkill Gorge (again)

These two pairs of pictures show our visit to Poestenkill Gorge Park in Troy yesterday with my visit there back on Day 21 (I posted pictures on Day 22 and Day 42).  In fact, when Exile #2 suggested the park as a second destination for our outing yesterday, I had no idea I had been there before.  Only when we arrived did I remember my previous visit in search of the interaction of fast-flowing water and harsh winter weather three weeks after our arrival here in January 2007.

The park is small and potentially rather lovely - although a little run-down in places and rather spoiled by litter.  Nevertheless, the waterfall is dramatic and there is the right amount of danger involved in crossing the dam, circumnavigating the pool and then climbing up a cliff, paddling through a hole and then emerging part way up where it is possible to cross the falls.  In the end only Exile #3 did this last part - you can see a couple attempting the crossing above (what good the rope that the guy had tied around his girlfriend's waist was meant to do was never made clear) - but we all made it up onto the falls where the group picture made it all seem rather unimpressive!

It was rather hot and very humid and it felt like a long way, back through the tunnel, down the cliff, around the pool, over the dam, up the path and then up the long grass bank to the car (and air-conditioning).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 3.195: Falls and falling

The last time that we went to Cohoes Falls as a family, it was on November 16th and the new park had closed for the winter. Today we finally returned to investigate the new path down to the base of the falls.

Our visit did not have a very hopeful beginning as we virtually had to stop on the highway due to the rain coming down so hard we couldn't see a thing.  However, Exile #2 promised us it was 'brightening up' (we all eventually turn into our parents it seems) and she as right.

The 'new' park has been extended down to the water's edge and even has access to the rocks below the falls - although that was closed today due to the weather.  Mind you - those rocks were obviously the place to do a bit of fishing today.  Rather him than me:
I hope he caught something

The trail has some nice views of the falls and the power station and provides some appealing grassy banks for running down - sometimes with dramatic consequences.

Fall at the Falls

For more pictures you can check out this short slideshow.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 3.194: Arts and crafts, movement?

As it was the last day of the kids' week at camp, they came home clutching bags full of craft projects. E5N1 had been venturing into space and proudly showed me his rocket and Jupiter models. Meanwhile both the girls have been mixing sustainability with amusement park design. For Exile #4 this means a lot of 'rides' with wonderful names such as 'The Water Rockets' and 'The Cat and the Mouse' made out of repurposed goods.

Exile #3 apparently made some great ride models out of more traditional materials such as K'NEX and so was unable to bring them home. So here is a piece of art she created last weekend using her solar print kit - these two prints of things she found in the garden are so pretty Exile #2 promptly stole them and framed them and is waiting for me to hang the resulting masterpiece.

By the way, as previously reported, we are returning to the UK very soon -  but not for good just yet.  The Exile continues its successful fourth year.  In fact we'll be Kingdom-side next week - aargh!  More once I understand it all myself.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 3.193: Change the laws of Physics?

After the dance last week, we left before the post-show talk, choosing instead to look around this exhibition of dance photography by the amazing Lois Greenfield. As well as lots of photos, there was a video playing with her talking about her work. At some point she pointed out that her photographs do not merely record the dance, but make visible things that otherwise could not be seen by freezing time. Mind-bending.

But that was nothing compared with our evening tonight. We went to see Inception. What a head-rush! An intelligent blockbuster - who knew such things were still possible in 2010? We also saw the trailer for the final Harry Potter movie(s) and Tron Legacy - from the sublime to the but-we-can-do-it-so-much-better-now-culous.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 3.192: All toads are frogs!

As usual, we were astonished by Exile #4's spotting of interesting things on our walk. The first example was not a tree swarming with caterpillars but a tiny frog. No seriously - it was tiny - look! How she spotted it as we walked along the trail I do not know.

Later I saw a slightly larger one which was kind enough to pose for some more photos.

It was only much later that I began to wonder if these 'frogs' were actually toads. So, as I often do for my own education and to give me something to say at the end of the day, I turned to the collective wisdom of the Internet. I was trying to find a guide that would enable me to identify the species of these little fellas. This was the site I found - and its first sentence caught my eye, "All toads are frogs." So there!

These particular frogs are either Eastern American Toads or Fowler's Toads. Still toadally frogs!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 3.191: They were born within an hour of each other


After the triumph of our encounter with the Disco Caterpillar, Exile #4 was the one (as usual) to spot these similar caterpillars swarming on a tree trunk in vast numbers (maybe not as many as 2000 but well over a hundred I would say).

It was quite a sight and worthy of bringing about pop pun 114 for title watchers - can you imagine what they're saying - "Won't it be strange when we're all fully grown?"!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 3.190: Heads? You win!

So, if I am interpreting your answers correctly to yesterday's impromptu quiz:
Mum was put in mind of something like this,
A was thinking of food first, then mobility then this guy(?)
N was stuck in children's TV land with these curious characters
and Locals was thinking about this (it's a bit of an animal).

Well, you were all quite close - but I think N claims the dubious honour of thinking like an Exile!

Thanks to Flickr user bump (Robert Occhialini) for his perfect Easter Island head photo!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 3.189: Cooling off

It was hot again today, but I helped the kids find a way to cool down this afternoon - which seemed quite successful. I was tempted to try myself but, fortunately, I have learned to resist some temptations!

Here is one of the 'other' pictures from yesterday.  We saw some interesting fungi - but this particular tree put us in mind of something quite specific - does it do the same for you I wonder?

Any thoughts before I share ours?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 3.188: Bennett Hill Preserve

As a family who likes to get out and do a short hike and one that likes to go to new places, you might think that we would have exhausted good local short-hike venues by now. You would be wrong.

A few months ago Exile #2 found a website containing several preserves open to the public nearby which are owned by the Mohawk-Hudson Land Conservancy. Several are within striking range for a quick walk. Today we finally got around to trying one - and it is quite a treasure.

Top left:  The green trail leads from the parking lot through deciduous woodland next to farmland - it felt rather English to us.

Top centre: There is plenty to keep the interest up - including some nice trail repairs using small logs.

Top right: Exile #4 didn't fancy a bath much.

Mid left: There were some nice views from the top - which was a strange world of stunted trees and ground-cover.

Mid right: We came down the red trail with its warnings of 'steep grades'.  They weren't kidding.

Bottom left: More exciting trail obstacles.

Bottom right: Survivors photo.

We saw lots of interesting things, but I'll save them for another day once I've sorted the photos out and worked out what was what.  In total we walked about two miles in two hours - the climb was about 400 feet.  Fortunately, with the temperatures still in the upper-80's, most of the trail was shady.   We'd planned to take the steep route up, but missed the turning onto the red trail (at a rather splendid stone trail repair it turned out).  We also missed the side-trail to the wetland area on the plateau.  I suppose we will just have to go back!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 3.187: "The God Song"

About a week ago one of my online friends posted a video on Facebook of a song called "God is Not a White Man". I was watching it in the morning when E5N1 came in and I left him watching it while I went in the bathroom. He somehow discovered how to get the video to repeat and has spent a good 10 or 15 minutes each morning this week watching, singing along and then restarting it. He calls it "The God Song". I caught him with the camera this morning!

You can check out the original here and if you liked it, you can press the spacebar to start it again (thanks E5N1 for that part of my technical education)!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 3.186: Pillow talk

Although some may visit SPAC for music concerts or ballet, or venture east to Tanglewood for some musical culture, for us summertime arts are all about Jacob's Pillow. Last year we saw Romeo and Juliet reimagined to the music of Radiohead and a piece describing the experience of having a stroke. This year a piece entitled "Three Theories" caught our eye - a dance based on a book by theoretical physicist Brian Greene. It contains four movements based around the big bang, relativity, quantum mechanics and string theory respectively. We went this evening and it was wonderful.

If you can only watch one short clip, make it this one of an astonishingly powerful duet during the quantum mechanics section.

Another quantum mechanics clip here.

And for a taste of relativity, try this one:

Finally, you can catch a bit of string theory followed by some more highlights of the rest in this one.

It you prefer still pictures - there are some stunning ones at the dance company's website.

It was astonishingly powerful and beautiful and we had seats in the middle block in Row G - which, for future reference, is probably just about perfect!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 3.185: One more small thing

We have had at least two different female/juvenile hummingbirds at our feeder so far this year. Today I pointed my camera in their direction for the first time. They are so tiny!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 3.184: All these small things

1) This flower (10mm diameter)
2) The hover-fly on it
3) Having dinner with the family
4) Clearing up together while singing along with...
5) The Best Rap Album in the World...Ever! (disk 1) featuring:
6) Gangsta's Paradise
7) Regulate
8) I Got 5 On It
9) U Can't Touch This
10) Mr Wendall (and of course - the anthem to small...)
11) I Wish by Skee-Lo
12) And then a few games of Mancala when the kids finally were asleep in bed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 3.183: Green frog in the reeds

After yesterday's multimedia triumph, here's another sight and sound from our walk yesterday.

And if you click through to YouTube you can see that it is also pop pun 113 for title watchers - show me your motion!

P.S. Pop pun 112 was solved - and I was quite pleased with it!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 3.182: Nice threads!

Before we picked up Exile #3, we went for an early-ish walk at Five Rivers in an attempt to beat the heat. We were partially successful. As you can see, Exile #4 brought some movie-star glamour to the occasion.

When we got back to this spot at the end of our walk, we were surprised to encounter this disco-dancing caterpillar hanging by an invisible thread over the middle of the path.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 3.181: Construction worker

This morning we waved Exile #3 off to spend the day celebrating the birthday of one of her school friends. We expect to see her well but tired at some point tomorrow. What they have been doing is unknown (apart from the not sleeping enough part) since their original plan may have been rained off.

In fact the rain was over by late morning and the rest of us spent the afternoon outside at a baby-shower/cook-out. We had a lovely time renewing some acquaintances and catching up with some old friends. Who'd have thought we'd been here long enough to have made friends and then drifted out of regular contact with them?! Must try harder.

E5N1 loved the 'construction area' at the back of the back yard and he and Exile #4 and whoever else wandered near enough (including me for a while) were enrolled in implementing the master plan of the five year-old foreman of the site.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 3.180: Wikki Camel?

Exile #3 was anxious to show me this when I got home today. As well as the join-the-dots of the camel outline, she put a rug on top and someone riding and holding the reins.

I thought it was cool - or maybe hot?