Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 4.294: Three orphans (and their dad)

The kids dressed up as Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire to go trick-or-treating this evening.  The costumes were painstakingly assembled and constructed by Exile #2 over the last several weeks with only a few decent pictures to work with.  She recently completed reading the series of books to them as their bedtime stories - a total of 13 books, each with 13 chapters and full of extremely funny tragedy - perfect as a Halloween theme!

I went out with them and for the first time in several years, we had a reasonable evening (albeit a little cold) and the kids were up to a longer walk around the neighborhood.  Everyone who answered the door was happy to see them and to part with their candy, delighted by their costumes - and, for the most part, completely baffled by their explanations of who they were.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 4.293: Leaves on snow on leaves...

We didn't gain a whole load of snow overnight - which is something of a relief. The local news was telling of one town nearby that had over 30 inches.

By the time I got outside, there were leaves fallen on the snow which had fallen on the leaves - in places probably still on the last fall of snow on the leaves on the ground.

It's not called 'Fall' for nothing this year!

We moved the pumpkins out onto the step.  Hopefully they won't be eaten by snow-crazed chipmunks before tomorrow night.

They don't look too sure.

Our power was off for a while this afternoon.  Even though our snowfall was moderate, the trees were heavily burdened and we've seen lots of big branches down around and about.  Even in our own yard there was plenty of evidence of the weight of the snow.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 4.292: Carving in

Although I started the day with a run and followed it up with some leaf-raking, it's been a predominantly indoor day. The snow arrived mid-afternoon, but we're still waiting to find out how much will fall overnight.

In the mean-time we set about carving some pumpkins, including one that E5N1 had painted at school. He sacrificed his earlier handiwork for a specific carving request.

The scene was congenially messy:

The kids were separating the seeds from the pulp so that we could roast them.

The finished works (not original, but quite satisfying) are sheltering in our kitchen from the snow, but will hopefully be on the front steps on Monday if not before.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 4.291: Happy chaos

I arrived home to find the house in a state of happy chaos. One of E5N1's school friends from last year was visiting with her mom and little sister. E5N1 in particular was looking a little scary:

Elsewhere, things were less ominous:

Our visitors stayed for dinner and until it was time for all the kids to be in bed. A good way to start the weekend that appears to be in danger of being a little disrupted by the this space!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 4.290: Y'all ready for this?

We had snow in the forecast for this evening. You know - maybe a little accumulation on the high ground, maybe a few flakes for the rest of us.  Instead, it started snowing around 2pm and it hasn't stopped. It's not exactly a major snow event, but then again it's still October!

Here's the 'movie digest' feature from the new camera recording Exile #2 trying to capture the snow and the kids. It's rather compelling.

and here are a couple of shots I took with the 'handheld night scene' feature.

First snow

First snow

 and now, I'm going to try and get this out of my head.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 4.289: The super computer

E5N1 is very busy. He regularly dives into the junk box and starts a 'project'.  I discovered this one when I got home from work.

"It's [E5N1]'s computer," explained Exile #2. "No - sorry - it's his super computer."

When I saw him later he brought it to my desk, "You can use it too, I put your initial on it." He showed me the "D" for daddy along with the rest of the family's initials.

Then placed it next to the keyboard and screen of the computer I was using at the time.

And waited.

It was then I realised he was waiting for me to start using his, so he could have a turn on mine.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 4.288: Intramural and super caput

The girls have been doing a 'throwing and catching' unit in P.E. at school. They always seem to enjoy their P.E. classes and their hand-eye coordination is definitely improving.

Exile #3 is also doing some extra P.E. in the mornings. It's known as 'intramurals' - a word I didn't recall having heard before - I had assumed it was another way of saying extra-curricular, but it turns out is about doing sports against other people from your own community.

Always something new to learn - and to celebrate all these accomplishments, here's a slow-motion video from the weekend:


 Sometimes I'm just in the right place at the right time!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 4.287: Re-trail therapy

Our foliage-appreciating outing with our city friends was to the Indian Ladder Trail.

It was quite different from our last visit six weeks ago. There was a lot less water for one thing, so taking a picture like this was possible.

Also, there were many fewer leaves on the trees, so some new views opened up.

We were pleased to see the bridge repairs after the damage we saw last time.

But some things were the same - happy, uncomplaining kids, beautiful nature and lots of steps.

And of course, we saw it afresh through the eyes of our guests and enjoyed their company - all very good for the soul.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 4.286: New York City visit

No, we haven't been down to the city - two residents of the city came to see us.

We met B & M, previously referred to as "E5N1's new friends", at the Wild Goose Festival after they spotted the New York State plates on our car as we were unpacking.  They came up to hang out with us, see some late-Fall countryside, entertain the kids almost constantly, visit our church gathering and generally get worn out. Well, I hope that's why the came - because that's what happened.

It was great. I may fill in some of the details later but it's been a fairly full-on weekend and it's time to sleep!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 4.285: Great Pumpkin Challenge

It was race day today. I ran 10 km (6.2 miles) in the Saratoga Spa State Park in the "Great Pumpkin Challenge".

That was me at the halfway point. I still managed a smile at the end too! In fact I was pretty well prepared despite having two knees and one ankle strapped up and I was able to pace myself pretty well. I beat my "aiming for" time by more than a minute so it's a worthy personal best to attempt to beat next time.

The whole family came. Here are some views from before and after the race.

The pumpkin competition was by public vote. I don't know which one won, but I voted for number 2 - the one with the candy-corn "fur" and E5N1 declared that he liked "the robot one". Apparently 1800 people took part, which is more believable from the crowd shots after the race than from those before. It was also totally believable as we jostled along the narrow paths on the first 5K.

A few people ran in costumes of various complexities - the girls were very taken with the stingers on the bee-girls (pictured) and Exile #2 was impressed with the two guys who ran as Dr Bunsen and Beaker - lab-coats and all.

It was great fun and has been a good impetus for keeping going with my running.  Now, where do we go from here?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 4.284: Geography for expats

When we had been here a few months, we decided it was time for us all to learn a bit about the USA beyond this little corner. Our source material was a mixture of They Might Be Giants, Sufjan Stevens, a list of US presidents (literally on the back of a cereal packet) and these:

We started by learning the states until we could turn over to the white side and successfully place most if not all of them, then the girls took to testing us on the capitals and other cities and eventually challenging us to guess the populations (2009 estimates).

Sometime during this period we realised that we probably had more confidence about the geography of North America than of Europe and certainly the kids had had very little exposure to our other home continent. So, today Exile #2 unveiled these homemade dinnertime learning-aids:

and we surprised ourselves with dredged-up knowledge and surprising ignorance alike. Time to get revising!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 4.283: A communal shower

There was a strange moment this morning when people gradually realised that it was raining, then that it was really raining.  Finally a tremendous downpour brought people away from their desks for a moment to see what was happening.

It was local and short-lived but it was the sort of rain that makes you think you'd be in danger of drowning if you were outside.

A couple of hours later there was nothing to show for it except a shared experience, a couple of sparked conversations...and this picture.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 4.282: Kind of a good look!

E5N1 has been going through a phase (along with his, err, anatomical drawings) of wetting his hair whenever he has access to water. On one occasion a couple of weeks ago, he requested my help to fashion a mohawk (well a faux-hawk at least).

His declaration on seeing himself in the mirror after these self and Daddy-assisted styling sessions is always the same..."Kind of a good look!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 4.281: Invasion of the body parts

E5N1 greeted me excitedly in the driveway when I arrived home from work yesterday - he wanted to show me his new things:

a rubber brain (now with a disturbing large hole) and a blinking eye on a stick (just disturbing).

He also made a book at the weekend. On the cover are a few Star Wars stickers along with a depiction of himself and one of me:

I guess body parts are important to him right now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 4.280: Running update

My running is still going OK. I have a few minor leg issues but, thanks to neoprene and Velcro, I am still in one piece.

I ran 7.5 miles on Saturday and ran my race-pace 10K (6.2 miles) this morning. The race I've been training for is the Great Pumpkin Challenge in Saratoga Spa State Park on Saturday morning. As long as I stay healthy, I will be there!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 4.279: Georgina Washington

The other day Exile #3 struck this pose and declared herself to be "Georgina Washington". I suspect she was (rather wonderfully) alluding to this.

Any suggestions that we have been here too long, forgotten our roots, gone native or anything similar will be ignored as being something occuring "in the rest of the world" and therefore having little or no significance for us.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 4.278: Hope is alive in Esperance, NY

Nearly a year ago, we had a surprising and wonderful experience at "Pick a Pumpkin Pumpkin Patch". Today, realising our pre-Halloween pumpkin shopping days were limited by other weekend activities, we returned.

We had a good time and much was as we remembered (well, OK, the toppled and headless pumpkin pig was a minor deviation):

However, this is a farm in the Schoharie valley and it was seriously affected by the flooding following Hurricane Irene.  In a double-blow, they also lost their owner and founder to a brain tumor in the days that followed.  It is amazing that they are open at all this season, but they are.

This was the view of the barn, the fields and, hidden in the trees is Schoharie Creek, which broke its banks in devastating fashion in late August.

The magnitude of the event can be seen here - the previous flood levels (from 1955, 1987 and 1996) are marked on the board at the corner of the barn.  The 2011 flood level is at head height at the upper floor entrance.

The hayrides which traditionally take visitors to the field to choose their pumpkins, were instead taking them to the field to see what the flooding had left (not much in the way of pumpkins that is for sure).

It seems fitting that while were snacking on apple cider and cider donuts, the weather closed in for a few minutes.

You can also read more about the floods online, or - if you can - go and visit and see the exhibit of photographs of the flooding as well the physical evidence around the farm (despite what must have been a heroic clean-up effort) and of course enjoy the attractions and pick up a pumpkin.