Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Snowday!!!

The grass was green and bare when I got home from work yesterday, with snow just starting to stick...it fell hard all afternoon, and by the time Ben and I went to a scout meeting at 6pm, the roads were essentially impassable (we saw a couple of cars off the road, and 2 went off in front of us while making the 6 miles drive back home from the SL firehouse)...

Not entirely surprisingly, I got the "snowday" call this morning...


Words cannot adequately describe the feeling of getting the call at 5:45am telling me to take the day off, the unexpected surprise aspect of it; but the picture above does a good job of explaining/expressing my happiness...


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The video above is a dramatic reading of my world famous snowday haiku...


The snow shown on my Element fell since last night at 7:30pm...


Ben also has the day off, so we suited up and went out in the snow-pocalypse to play and hurl snow at each other...


He kept trying to fool me that he was all done throwing snow at my head, but would then sneak up and rub some more into my balaclava and/or face...luckily, my camera is waterproof...


Our house is really at its best in the wintertime...warm and cozy feeling on a cold and windy day, with snow still falling on us...


After running and rolling and diving and such for a while, Ben got overheated, and shed his balaclava while we walked down the driveway to see how the rest of the world faired in the storm...


McMaster Road is cold and snowy and quiet...


Ben noticed that different trees looked different in the snow...the white pines at the left of the picture keep their needles and hold more snow, the tamarack trees to the right lose their needles and hold less snow...the tradeoff in photosynthetic potential versus energy expended to build branches of different strength works out differently for the different trees in our forests...it was a cool discussion with Ben...

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By the time we headed back up to our house to warm up, Ben was pretty wiped out and dragging...I almost left him behind when he fell, it was a close call...in the end he played on my hyper-developed paternal instincts, and I gave in...


We made up some hot-cider to warm us up...the dogs are sleeping at my feet by the stove, and life is good...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mid-October

We started swimming lessons with Ben this week, coincidentally on a freezing cold night with our first serious snowfall...

I didn't bring the camera to the swim lesson, so I found this picture to stimulate your imagination about Ben giving his all in the pool at Paul Smiths...


Last night, I made a batch of yogurt from scratch, just to try it, and tried out a couple of flavors this morning when Penny-Terrific got up...honey was a natural choice...


I also tried a batch of bacon-flavored yogurt...yummy!


When Ben rolled out of bed, I put together a bowl of blueberry yogurt for a part of his breakfast...


He was a bit nervous about trying it at first, but really liked the flavor and texture after he got used to it...




This morning we watched "Speed Racer", a hyper-colored, nearly cartoonified racing movie with good guys, bad guys, fast-driving, and big booms...


After lunch, we went over and picked up Ben's friend Jacob for a playdate over at the Petrova School Playground for a couple of hours...


It's a really fun playground, with lots of different elements and challenges for kids of all ages to play on, and with a color-scheme not unlike "Speed Racer"...


They ran around like crazed monkeys for a couple of hours, sometimes playing "Star Wars" (as shown above in a face-off of Jedi Knights), and sometimes just chasing or climbing or sliding...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cornwall Weekend

Ben and I headed down to Connecticut to visit with Muz and D, but on the way down we stopped off to meet with some other officers of the newly formed NY chapter of Zombie Squad to drop off a $700 check with the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York for their "Save the Day" program...


From left to right you can see Kevin, Derek, Christine Powers (of the Red Cross), and me...

Ben and I got to Cornwall in time for some reading and dinner and bed...



The next morning Penny got me up a long time before everyone else, and so we watched "Pitch Black" on hulu.com and drank strong coffee for a while...


Ben decided on an early morning bath, and Penny helped out...

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D got Ben a sour candy spray, which Ben loved/hated...

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We took the dogs down to the Hollenbeck River to throw some sticks for the dogs...there aren't many other pics from Saturday because I took a nap...


Saturday we celebrated Muz's birthday at the Wandering Moose, a favorite restaurant in West Cornwall...a great time was had by all...we couldn't finish the cake (in case you were wondering)...


Sunday was a mellow morning again, Penny and I read instead of hulu-ing again...


We went to a booksale at the Public Library in Cornwall, and afterwards played at the cute little playground...


Ben likes the roundabout, especially wobbly-walking afterwards...


I got all of these books at the library sale...please note the awesome Nepali phrasebook...


Ben got all of these books at the sale, he was out of luck when it came to Nepali phrasebooks...


We walked down to the river again for more swimming with the hounds...


Later on, we drove over to Creamhill Lake for some serious dog-swimming and Ben play on the beach...


Penny came home exhausted and slept in a tight and tiny ball of chocolate cuteness...


Ben helped D mow the lawn and leaves...

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They had an awesome time...

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Sunday night, we went to Fuji, a super-fun Hibachi restaurant in Torrington, the Tokyo of the Northwest corner of CT...we always have a good time...the guys squirts saki into the adults' mouths, and then flips chunks of food towards/into everyones' mouths...I am like a trained seal in my uncanny ability to faultlessly catch food thrown at me...the video above shows our chef making an onion volcano!!!


Here are Muz and D and Ben and Penny leaving me to my own devices for a night on the town...I went to a movie in town before heading home to join them and give the sleeping Ben a kiss...I saw "Quarantine", a superb remake of a foreign zombie-ish movie that scared the bejeebers out of me, and that I was kind enough to include a trailer of (see below)...



We had a really fun weekend!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Our Cat, Escher

I took Escher to the High Peaks Animal Hospital last night, and they put him to sleep while I was holding him. He had been losing weight for months, had been growing progressively more confused and afraid, and finally had become incontinent. He lived 17 wonderful years, and was losing himself in the final weeks, and we are sad that he's gone, but glad that we could help to give him some peace and calm.


Escher came to live with Gail in 1992, having been found in a paper bag in a grocery store parking lot. She got him to keep Hobson company, but Escher had a way of winning people over to the cat side of things (he was the first cat that I ever liked). He'd love you up, take you abuse, come back for more - putting out a vague Barry White/Marvin Gaye vibe....

Small and scrappy, Escher ran the house. When he first met Vinnie, he chased him until Vinnie ended hiding upside down behind a guitar... (well that's Vinnie).... But he also batted Zeke, Cedar, Thumbalina, Maggie, and he was taking on Penny all summer...all of this without claws and with the tiniest teeth ever seen in a mouth...

But for the humans...nothin' but love...the first to greet you at the door, sleep on your head, lick your fingers... All with a slightly nasal purrr that was loud and persistent...he would have loved up burglars...

He was a great cat, and we miss him...

Jamie

Monday, October 06, 2008

Maine for the Weekend!

Jamie asked me to be a guest writer on the blog... a first! But there is good reason to break with tradition. Last weekend (10/4) Ben and I had a once in a lifetime experience and Jamie asked me to record the event.


It started Saturday morning. Jamie, Ben, and I went to the Lake Clear Airport for breakfast at the diner. But this was no ordinary breakfast. It was a farewell to launch Ben and I on our adventure.


Jamie's colleague George Bailey, a sixth grade teacher at the Lake Placid Middle/High School, arrived after breakfast and ushered us through the security gates to the private plane area. George has a strong Maine connection and he offered to fly Ben and I to visit for the weekend while he caught up with some friends...



That was exciting enough... but it just kept getting better. The plane seats three (including the pilot) and Ben got to fly as the co-pilot! George has been flying longer than he has been driving, and after this Ben may be following in his footsteps.


We waved goodbye to Jamie...who looks about as nervous as I felt...


but hey... we were in great hands... even if the co-pilot was only six!


Once we got the fuel guys to leave their coffee break and fill our tanks we were headed down the runway.


The view was amazing! The fall colors are just a little past peak. Slightly muted with dustings of snow on the high peaks.


Ben was speechless for the first twenty minutes or so as he examined the ground below for familiar landmarks. We had a little turbulence which reminded Ben of a roller coaster. (He loved it). The sun was bright between the clouds and George indicated that we were probably going to end up flying above the cloud line. He needed his sunglasses and started to look in the back for his shades. Leaving the flight in the hands of the co-pilot...

That's right... George may have been kidding when he said, "Hey Ben, take the wheel" but Ben didn't need to be told twice. He immediately grabbed the wheel and channeled his inner jet fighter. He started swooping the plane. George said turn to the left, Ben went right...


...then back to the left. When George took back the controls he was amazed that we were still on course. I was amazed that my six year old had flown a plane for about two minutes!


As the clouds closed in we pulled up above the cloud line. Ben studied the fluffy floor and worked to keep the sun out of his eyes.


We charted a course that took us past Lake Placid to Middlebury, VT then over to Laconia, NH and up to the Lewiston/Auburn airport.



We touched down at the L/A airport. It is a little smaller than LAX. Especially considering George drove us up to the door where my sister and brother-in-law were waiting. Uncle Steve and LaLa helped us claim the baggage (from the backseat of the plane) and we were off on the next leg of the adventure.

First we headed to Wallingford's Apple Orchard. We picked up fresh apples off the tree and warm donuts made fresh from scratch on site. After sampling the goods, we headed back to LaLa's for lunch.


After lunch we went over to Wolf's Neck State Park.



The park is about five minutes from Freeport. As the park's website states, Wolf's Neck State Park "contains varied ecosystems, including climax white pine and hemlock forests, a salt marsh estuary, and the rocky shorelines on Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River".

The rock path is jagged and we all found it a little tippy to navigate between the ocean and river waters.


La La pointed out the resident osprey nest sits on top of the white pine on Googins Island.


Ben particularly liked rescuing the periwinkles on the rocks.


He and La La took examined the rock types and threw stones and shells into the water.


La La gave impromptu geology lessons...


...but Ben was most interested in the acorns. We don't have a lot of oak trees in the Adirondacks, so finding acorns with the "hats" on is a real treat. After the park we went back into Freeport where I was treated to a facial and Ben and La La went shopping. La La found the perfect pair of sunglasses for the budding pilot. Perfect for the flight home.


The next morning La La, Ben and I headed over to Portland to cheer Uncle Steve on in the Maine Marathon. Steve's relay team (who we cheered to victory in Vermont a few months ago) hit the pavement again for the relay portion of the race. Steve ran the first leg of the relay and we were there with big voices and our sign... next time we need a cow bell!


After the race, La La, Ben and I went over to Pine Point near Old Orchard Beach. In the summer this spot is usually crowded, but off season it is wide open, populated mostly by dog walkers and locals. Ben made a giant treasure map in the sand and spent a lot of time running in circles and making big noises.


I think it is no secret the La La loves "her" Ben.



It was a perfect day to roll up the pants and walk barefoot in the frigid Maine ocean.

Last summer at Popham I found quite a few sand dollars, so Ben knows they are my favorite. He found this one for me. I thought it looked strange until I realized that it was still alive! I've never seen a live sand dollar before. We touched the cilia and watched them move. Took videos and pictures and then released the creature back into the water.


It was a little before noon as we headed back to Freeport to meet Uncle Steve for lunch. Before we got there George called to let us know that there was going to be spotty rain on the way home and he wanted to leave a little early to make sure we got home safe in the daylight. So we finished up lunch, grabbed our stuff from La La's (including our new pet basalisk that hatched out of an egg left for Ben by Hagrid...) and then headed back to the L/A airport.



Ben the old pro co-pilot donned his new shades and waved goodbye.



The trip home was beautiful. Cool cloud formations and columns of rain and sun beams. We had a great time racing the geese and identifying landmarks. We stayed below the clouds and got an amazing show. As we headed back toward home we flew past Jamie's school in Lake Placid. Jamie was waiting as we touched down back at home. We were all back safe and sound before 4:00 - wow - what an adventure.... Thanks George!