Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 6.202: Special reproduction

On Sunday Exile #2 and I dipped our toes into doing something other than occupying a pew in our new church by performing the "special music" - three pieces of non-congregational music distributed through the service.

Here is one of the songs we prepared for that - reproduced inexpertly this evening and hastily uploaded to YouTube for your listening pleasure!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 6.201: Running update May to July

Here's a picture from this morning's run:

(just because I thought it looked nice!)

My last update ended with my pleasure at hitting 70 miles for April. Since then things have gone pretty well.

Here is my month-by-month total mileage graph from July 2011 to July 2013 - the 70 miles in April 2013 looks quite modest  now!

This month I just hit 200 miles, but even May and June were over 150 miles each. I'm feeling healthy and strong with my running this summer - hopefully I can keep that going through to the marathon in October. The only thing going against me at the moment is that I'm a few pounds heavier than this time last year (though still below my weight-loss target) . Happily, my weight seems to be slowly responding to all this work - we will see if it continues in the right direction.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 6.200: Facial hair-larity!

While we were in the UK, we bought a few magazines for the kids to read on the day we went to London.

On Saturday morning, someone found the pack of fake facial hair that we removed from the cover of one of them before packing them to take on the train.

This was the result:

What do you do with your Saturday mornings?!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 6.199: Fog, fishing and a fisher

Yesterday morning's 18 mile run started soon after sunrise. It was cool and dry - perfect for running. As I started to descend towards the Hudson the morning mist started to close in and I wondered what I was getting into. As it turned out, by the time I made it to the river, the mist had just about cleared.  I saw someone enjoying some early morning fishing - I imagine with some of the same pleasure I take from my long solitary early morning runs.

Nearby I heard a big commotion in the undergrowth by the road as I passed and something big climbing a small tree.  It was no squirrel, that's for sure.  I had an excellent view of the fisher as he peaked around the tree before descending again and disappearing away from the road.

The photo I caught is not great, but distinctly better than last time's effort. Even though my face time with it was much shorter and a greater distance than last time, I was quicker with the phone!

My first love as far as nature is concerned is always these mammal encounters. Deer, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunk sightings are plentiful, but it took a year and a half before I caught my first definite glimpse of a beaver despite their success in these parts and it was five and a half years before I got a good photo. I've seen coyote a couple of times, but no photographs to show for it as yet.  I've yet to see a bear or a porcupine (although Exile #4 has seen the latter) and our New England trips have failed to provide a moose sighting, but I am very happy to have had two close encounters with these seldom-seen - if not actually rare - creatures during the last year.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 6.198: Oasis family fun: then and now

I was up early for a long run. It was a beautiful morning - the temperatures were only in the low 50's when I set out and the sun was just coming up. 18 miles later it was still nice - although warming up significantly.

After breakfast, we were keen to spend some time outside, but a hike was not really on my list, so we decided to try the mini golf at Oasis Family Fun Park in Troy. We'd been there once before, but that was in 2009 - before the kids were at an age where they could focus on an activity like that for very long. The photographic record shows that we did try - as well as that I really did sit in a tiny kid's size paddle boat because two year old E5N1 was feeling left out:

Today, despite the rapidly rising temperatures and gradually diminishing patience, we had an excellent time - playing all 18 holes with five balls:

We all had a few good shots and a few fun moments to mix in with the abject failures - so everything you can hope for in a round of mini golf then!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 6.197: TGIF

I'm pretty tired at the end of this week and I need to get up early to run tomorrow, so here's a nice picture from our trip I didn't post at the time...

and with that I'll bid you goodnight!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 6.196: Engineering work in progress

It was a beautiful evening - warm, but not hot and with low humidity. We went out to Five Rivers after dinner for a brief walk.

The beavers are at it again - upgrading their man-made lake with some engineering work of their own to increase the water level.

I suspect that either the weather or their landlords will remove their new dam sooner or later, but for now, we get to admire their industry!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 6.195: Catching up

We've been back in the country (and I've been back at work) for more than a week.

I've just started looking back at the now-downloaded-to-my-blogging-PC photos from the UK trip. I have a day hike and a wedding to do justice to, but for now - here's this:

What a poser!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 6.194: We left the UK in a whirl!

The day before we left the UK last week, we saw hay blowing around high above the field behind my parents' house. I grabbed my camera and caught the reason for it.

We joked that it was a tornado - maybe not, but it was quite dramatic thanks to the recently cut hay.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 6.193: Christmas melon giant owl in the desert..?

Sometimes the only question is, "Why?"  Sometimes I wonder if it's best not to know.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 6.192: Did you see da waxwings?

Yesterday evening it finally seemed cool enough to want to get out of the house for a purpose other than going into an air conditioned space or a swimming pool.

Exile #3 was out at a backyard camp-out birthday party so the rest of us went for a short early evening visit to Five Rivers. We weren't the only ones enjoying being out-and-about.

We saw two or three other family groups of humans, but also these two death-wish frogs:

The top one was in the middle of the road when I almost stepped on it while I was running with E5N1.  The other one suddenly moved what felt like right under my foot as I walked on a footpath.

We saw some more-sensibly-located animals too.

How about that for a guilty look, some perfectly posed cedar waxwings and a chilling frog?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 6.191: Making a splash

We beat the heat and the cabin fever in the early afternoon with a trip to Albaniana and family's backyard pool.

Much fun was had by all!

This evening we finally had some rain and some cooler air in its wake.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 6.190: Winning and taking part

I won my first running race today - a 5K. For those who are not nearby, it was brutally hot today - not exactly ideal running weather, so my time was slower than I would have expected in good conditions. Leading the race from beginning to end was a surreal experience.

I even got a prize!

The charity that organised the event Myles of Smyles Foundation is named for a classmate of Exile #3 who lost his battle with brain cancer a year ago at the end of 4th Grade.

Orange was his favourite colour.

Our neighbour ran her first 5K - having just completed a couch-to-5K training programme and Exile #2 boldly agreed to walk with Exile #3, Exile #4 and E5N1 in the other main event of the evening. For all of us, there was the chance to cool off in a spray from a fire truck just at the end - and then there was cake (amongst other excitements).

It was a fun evening and the temperature was almost bearable by the time we left at about 8pm!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 6.189: Jet lagging

My reaction to getting home was to get up early to run and then get to work and then to do it all again today.  E5N1's was to demand a party! Here is some of the evidence that he got his wish - a mirror-ball and streamers!

Today the weather made it into the 90's with high humidity pushing the heat index to nearly 100.  Tomorrow is due to be hotter and even more humid so Exile #2 will probably be stuck inside again with the kids for most of the day.

As usual, I have the easy part of the deal and Exile #2 rises to the harder challenge with flair!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 6.188: Double helix

Here's the answer to mystery #1 from Day 6.185.

While I was running I managed to put the following observations together and get to the right answer:
  • Very long sequence of colours.
  • Apparently random order of stripes.
  • Four colours used.
  • I was in Cambridge!
Of course, the big model of DNA at the end of the decorated section of cycle path didn't hurt (but I did work it out before I saw that - really!).

It is, apparently, a part of the human genome - a single gene which has a function in repairing other mutated genes.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 6.187: Asleep

We're home. We had a little delay waiting in the plane for take-off but otherwise it all went smoothly. 

The kids all had the same response to arriving back in New York State. 

Now it's my turn. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 6.186: Peronis

We went out for dinner in Cambridge with my parents for our last evening here.

There were three different varieties of Peroni on the menu. We tried two of them. After that we had some very nice food and wine. Tomorrow we're homeward bound.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day 6.185: Can you name what I saw?

I went for a long run this morning (17 miles). One of the nice things about a long run like that is that I get to go somewhere and see some interesting things (sometimes at least). Today I saw these and I thought I'd give you the chance to identify them and feel clever...

Of course some - those with local knowledge especially - will know the answers. Please show off without giving the answer away!

We said goodbye to my sister and family after lunch today.  Tomorrow we have our last two visits and then we will be on our way home - amazing how fast this nearly three-week visit has gone!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day 6.184: Catching up, cooling off

We managed to catch up with four different families of friends today - a lovely late morning to early afternoon visit old friends E, B, H & R along with A, N & J. Here's a previous visit where I got some decent pictures - just imagine the children (and adults) 3 years older! After that we dropped in very briefly to catch up with A, J, E & A who were, in turn being visited by other old friends. Both visits were excellent - albeit much too short - catchings-up with good friends.

After all that, we returned to my parents where my sister and family are visiting and the kids decided it was time to cool off.

I didn't blame them one bit!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 6.183: Beer and planes

Exile #2, the girls, my Dad and I spent the middle of the day at The Imperial War Museum Duxford. It was the day before an airshow and there was a lot of activity on the ground and in the air. 

This not-yet-open beer purveyor caught my eye:

Later, I joined my Dad's regular Friday-evening pub gathering where I drank some Wherry - CAMRA's Supreme Champion Beer of Britain for 1996 - very good indeed but you have to hand it to Spitfire's advertising and product placement when you notice their stall as a one of its namesake WW2 fighter planes soars overhead!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 6.182: City hopping

We have safely made our way from just outside Oxford to just outside Cambridge.  This was part of our journey - but not our mode of transport. 

Cute though it is!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 6.181: House and home

We went with the kids and Exile #2's parents to visit Oxford today.  Just like London, we'd never taken the children into Oxford to see the place where we met.

We started with an early-lunch picnic and a short boat trip down the river - once again, apart from a stronger breeze, the weather was perfect.  We walked past the church where we got married nearly 19 years ago (picture in top left includes the new entrance - not there in those days).

From there we headed into Exile #2's college - Christ Church - I think she quite enjoyed taking us past the "no visitors" sign.  The four pictures along the bottom are E5N1 sticking his tongue out, the "Harry Potter staircase" and two pictures inside the cathedral (which serves as the college chapel for those who slum it there!).  The cathedral was a surprise hit thanks to a kids treasure hunt which managed to be interesting to all three of the children - no mean achievement these days.

After that we walked through the city to my old college to round off the visit.  It was strange that the new building of which I was one of the first occupants in my third year is now 22 years old!

Another successful trip to round off our time in Oxfordshire for this year.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 6.180: Old friends, young friends

Always a joy to see our good friends while we are in the Oxford area. Once again, our time with them flew by. These days are too few and far between.

It was great to see the children get reacquainted too - their little boy is now three - a very different and more active partner in fun that he was two years ago.