Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cleaning Spree

Today, we started family cleanup time to prepare for our visitors. I discovered that I still hate cleaning :p But we did get a lot accomplished, which is awesome.

Not only the family pitched in, but a saintly friend came over to deep clean my kitchen. Now whenever I walk into it, I get greeted by sparkliness, a quite unique experience ^^

Two more days till they are here, so still some cleaning up time to use.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Should I Start Panicking?

Friday night, only a few days from now, my mother and my niece will arrive at my house. Now we all know that the visit of a mother can bring out the worst in us. At least, it can in me. Suddenly I realize how imperfect my house cleaning skills are. Suddenly I see all the half eaten apples and 4,521 pieces of paper on the floor. Suddenly the realization hits that this is not the way my mother's house used to look when I was young (never mind that she had a lot less kids and a regular cleaning lady for a few hours per week)

So I do what every sane person would do. I panic!

Tonight, my panicking took the shape of cleaning out the fridge. This is not a regular occurrence. Well, actually, once a year is kind of regular, right? I knew it was time when things started growling at me every time I opened the door. There were more and more hairy creatures scuffling behind the moldy pieces of cheese. And one night, I opened the fridge, and Something oozed out...

I took my sledgehammer and my katana, and attacked the fridge. After a valiant struggle, I emerged victorious. Now you can actually open the fridge, and everything in it is edible!

Almost FTF!

Yes, yet again, we were 'almost First to Find' on a cache. Oh well, it was a great outing anyway, we visited three caches, at night time, when we usually would have been hanging out at home, not getting much accomplished.

The good news: the faucet got fixed! It might have taken the whole day, but hubby eventually did get it accomplished.

The bad news: the car needs $1,500 of repairs. I hate it when that happens!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kitchen Faucet Update

Hubby didn't agree with calling a plumber, he said it was very easy to replace this by himself. OK... He got the faucet, and has been busy for the last few hours trying to get the old one off. I hope he'll be successful soon, since he wants me to stay home till it's done, in case he needs help. I really want to take the kids and go do something fun.

Will be interesting to see whether it gets done, or whether we'll get a plumber anyway. Last time this happened (upstairs bath room, it was left half undone for a few weeks till I got someone to fix it ^^)

It is less hot and humid today though, so that is nice. We had spectacular thunder storms last night. I have to figure out whether there is any way to photograph lightning with my digital camera.

Quote of the Day

Kate 'Do we have white bread?'
Me 'We have baguette, which is white bread.'
Kate 'I don't want crusty bread, I want soft bread!'
Me 'You can eat mama bread.' (which is Sylvia's name for homemade bread, and has been adopted by most of the family)
Kate 'No!!! That is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, I want ALL soft!'
Jane 'I like mama bread. It is just like eating humans. The crust is the bones, the inside is soft, like guts and testicles.'

Saturday, August 25, 2007


And we still don't have running water in the kitchen either.

Friday, August 24, 2007


OK, someone please explain to me, why plumbing problems ALWAYS happen on Friday afternoon, instead of on Monday morning.

The kitchen faucet has stopped working... This has happened before, and I was going to get a plumber in before it happened again. Yes, I know, I was supposed to. But life happened, and more life happened, and then there was life. And since the faucet was working, it didn't seem urgent.

Now it did stop working and it IS urgent, and I will have to give up my firstborn to get a plumber to even contemplate fitting us in before 2009. One of the upstairs bath rooms has a non-draining sink, but that was a bath room I didn't really use anyway, so it was easy to ignore. Will have plumber look at that one too, I guess. That is, if I can get one to our house within the next decennium.

On a better note, my cleaning person spent an hour at my house and many things are way cleaner than they were this morning. I love them!

On an annoyed note, it is hot and humid, 29 C (84 F) and 67 % humidity. And will be even warmer tomorrow. A bit too much for me, as a New England gal.

On Princesses and Favorite Colours

Sylvia 'I am going to be a princess for Halloween! A pink princess!'

Sylvia, a few weeks ago, very consistently 'Pink and purple are my favorite colours!'

Sylvia, now, since about a week 'Pink is my favorite colour!
Me 'What about purple?'
Sylvia 'No!'
Me 'It used to be your favorite colour, right?'
Sylvia 'Yes, but it is not anymore.'

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More on Halo Pics

I sent my halo pics to Jarmo Moilanen, who is a contributor to Halo reports blog.

He wrote to me 'Nice display. You have 22 degrees halo, circumscribed halo and parhelic circle in your photos.' When I thanked him and asked him to please explain a little bit more to me, since I am not very good at halo knowledge yet, he graciously sent me this pic, pointing out the different phenonema going on.

22 degrees halo is in that photo is the faintest halo. It is that inner circular halo around the sun. It is the most common halo.

Circumscribed halo is the brightest halo which is contacting 22 degrees halo on its upper- and lowermost points. The shape of this halo depends on greatly sun elevation. When sun is lower, this halo breaks in two separate arcs. Then they are known as upper and lower tangent arcs (of 22 degrees halo). Upper tangent arc is a V-shaped arc on the top of 22 degrees halo when the sun is close to horizon. When sun is over 70 degrees above horizon, circumsribed halo will overlaping with 22 degrees halo and they are hard to separate from each others. So this halo always tangent 22 degrees halo.

Light ray path through a ice crystal for 22 degrees halo and circumscribed halo are the same, but orientation of the ice crystal are different. That is why they behave and look different.

Parhelic circle is that white reflection halo running through sun at the same elevation than the sun. When parhelic circle is full, it will go around the sky at the same level as the sun.

Wow! So much new information to learn and appreciate. I will definitely be on the look-out for more halos from now on, both solar and lunar ones.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Spectacular Sun Halo

The photos don't do it justice, there is nothing like seeing the real thing. But at least they give you some kind of idea what this looked like.

There was a very beautiful and distinct halo visible around the sun, from around noon when we discovered it till at least 4:45pm when it was still faintly visible. First I thought this was called sun dog, now I am not sure anymore, since the sun dog seems to be when you see the defractions at two sides of the halo? No idea, but tremendously enjoying the phenonema.

This is the first time I have noticed this, and I was amazed how long it stayed. I have uploaded many more pics.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Geocaching, Llamas, and Turkeys

Yet another fun geocaching day, did I mention how much I love it?

Last night, a friend emailed me and said 'I am almost due for my 600th cache, would you like to come find it with me tomorrow?' My day today was planned pretty full already, but who could resist an invitation like that? I pondered for a few seconds and wrote back 'Yes! Let's do it!'

I never was sorry for making that decision. Being out in nature and finding some caches was just what I needed to deal with my stress. Not to mention that the little ones really enjoyed accompanying us and trading some items. Sylvia has started writing the log in every cache now too. She will take pen or pencil, write a few lines, and tell me 'Look! I wrote "Sylvia"'. Very cute, and fun how she has figured out that that is what you are supposed to do when you are geocaching.

On the way back from the last cache, we drove through the country side, when suddenly I perked up and said 'OMG!!!! I just saw a llama!!! OMG! There is a baby llama nursing!!!' We drove past, and a few hundred feet later managed to make a U-turn to check out this unfamiliar sight.

The baby llama stopped nursing when we arrived, so I didn't get any pics of that. Got some other fun pics though. After a few minutes there, we started wondering. Are those really llamas? The answer was not far away. There was a sign telling us that we had found Parris Hill Alpaca Farm. So much for seeing llamas...

Later, at home, I read more about alpacas. From The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association: Alpacas have coexisted with humankind for thousands of years. The Incan civilization of the Andes Mountains in Peru elevated the alpaca to a central place in their society. The imperial Incas clothed themselves in garments made from alpaca and many of their religious ceremonies involved the animal. Museums throughout the Americas display textiles made from alpaca fiber.

That was an unexpected bonus, who would have thought we would find alpacas in the middle of Vermont. Another bonus showed up later in the day. When we drove back from grocery shopping, we saw a bunch of wild turkeys next to the road. Of course, we didn't bring a camera, so I can't share them. But it was just cool to see them.

Now I am tired, so I'll play a game of go. Sleeping is such a waste of time.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Soaring High

Today, was our local airport's Airport Awareness Day. Last year, we visited and had a lot of fun, so this year, the kids definitely wanted to go back. Especially knowing that they have free flights for kids 8yo to 17yo.

My big complaint about the day was that it was cold and windy, but apart from that, it was mostly perfect. We arrived early, to minimize our waiting in line, but still did do that for a while. A clown was doing fun stuff to keep people entertained while waiting. Here she is teaching Kate how to balance a peacock feather on her hand.

There were many airplanes to be admired.

But of course, the best thing was the free airplane rides.

Tara, Jane, and Kate got very lucky and got a ride in a historical Cessna 195, built in 1948. Such an uber cool airplane. I did some web surfing on it. Its left wing had been substantially damaged in an accident in 2001, and got restored after that.

I love it that they ended up in such an interesting air plane, with history behind it. They got quite a nice ride, saw Quechee Gorge, Mt Ascutney, the Montshire Museum, and Dartmouth Hitchcock hospital. Very cool.

There were many other things to see, ambulance, fire truck, helicopters, police car. The little ones really enjoyed seeing all those from the inside.

I am glad our airport organizes those days, it's a great way to get to know more about aviation.


Going down the slide together.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Cleaning Bliss

Sounds like an unlikely title for me, doesn't it? We all know how much I hate cleaning. I finally decided, that I was going to hire a cleaning person, instead of bitching about cleaning or just ignoring it.

Yes, a cleaning person! Someone else to clean my house! So that I can do important things like study go repotting plants, read a book take a shower, or paying bills.

A friend found her for me, and today, she showed up, with a helper. After I was done kissing them, they cleaned soooo much and soooo thoroughly. They clearly are much better at cleaning than I am, so I shouldn't even try to do it. I am glad I have satisfactorily proven that to myself now.

On a totally unrelated note. This is what leeks will look like if you plant them in the spring of 2006, and then ignore them through the summer, the fall, the winter, the spring, and yet another summer. I am sure you are all jealous of my gardening skills, aren't you?

Monday, August 13, 2007


Yesterday, we went geocaching and had many DNFs (Did Not Find's). But the locations were so beautiful, that we didn't mind at all. At least, not much ^^

We visited a cool cave-like structure. The kids enjoyed exploring it. Apart from some kids who were too scared to go in ^^

More hiking, to an old tower at the top of the park, for beautiful views. Did I mention that all the hiking was uphill?

After these adventures, we got an unexpected bonus in a cache which brought us to a beautiful cemetery.

We spent quite a lot of time here, admiring the grave stones, enjoying the feelings of peace and calmness around us.

We pondered stories behind some of the graves and found this memorial bench.

And no, we never found the cache, but I didn't care at all. We found so many more important things. Togetherness as a family in the middle of human history. A time to stop and remember the ones who were here before us. Sometimes it's good to stop running around and just to be for a few hours.

We have been in this cemetery before. This was a few years, ago, Jane was a vampire.

At night, we did end up finding one cache, so that my obsessive personality wouldn't try to convince me that we didn't accomplish anything for the day. Yes, I know, I should just tell the obsessive part of my personality to shut up already.


Last night, around 11pm, we all went outside to watch the annual Perseids meteor shower. The kids took blankets and laid down on the driveway. My hubby and Sylvia got tired of it very fast, so went back inside, the others spent some more time looking for them. We saw some, but not as many as had been predicted. It didn't help that there were a few clouds, although not enough to obscure everything.

We moved indoors for a while, hoping there would be more when we came back outside. This time, I took a blanket too, so that I could fall asleep outside with the kids, if things worked out that way.

We again, saw a few, not as many as hoped. But one of them was really spectacular, going through almost the whole sky, with impressive light effect and staying for a few seconds at least. So that made worth all the time we were spending outside.

I fell asleep on our driveway, with the kids still outside. Woke up to a cloudy sky. Fell asleep again. Woke up a few hours later to rain. We moved inside, and spent the rest of the night indoors ^^

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Gypsies

Haha, I don't even try to understand the games they play, but the comment when I showed pictures was 'Oh!!! That is when we were gypsies!'

Saturday, August 11, 2007


For the last few weeks, my cell phone and my GPS have been misplaced. Ever since I cleaned out the van, they are gone, and I am actually pretty darned sure they are somewhere in the house, in a 'safe' place. A bit too safe though :p

For more than a year, I have been salivating about a new GPS, but there never was a good excuse to upgrade. I finally found my excuse! And yes, I do realize that most people would replace their cell phone first, but I have found that I do not particularly want to be reachable at all times. So the lack of cell phone is not very inconvenient to me. I am sure the phone will show up again some day. But the lack of GPS, now that hurt!

Yesterday, my new GPS arrived, so what better way to test it than by going geocaching. It is really cool, I can upload waypoints/caches from my computer, so I have been putting many local and less local caches in. To my utter delight, my GPS now can show me which caches are close, what the difficulty is, and part of the hint. I have found out that the part of the hint is not always the part I actually need, but that only adds to the fun, right?

I had a lot of fun finding some caches by daylight, but then I ran out of it. Yes, yes, I know that always seems to happen to me. No problem, I could just stop at a gas station, get gas and find myself a flash light.

Checked my GPS, a few caches nearby, next to a country highway. Off I went, in search of caches. Turns out, I have forgotten how hard it is to find a small pull off in the pitch dark on a fast moving high way with impatient cars behind me. I had passed three caches on the left side of the road before I finally found a safe location for a U turn. Turned around and made it to one of the pull-ofs for a fast and easy cache.

Well... what is considered fast and easy during daylight, isn't always so fast and easy at night. Not to mention that this was so close to the highway, that the cars zooming past was a bit disconcerting. Still, I made it this far, so I got my flash light and got out of the car. No reason not to find a cache which is within 75 feet. Even if it's dark and a bit scary.

My new found courage lasted about two minutes. I was out, trying to figure out where the cache was, when a car drove past and stopped a few hundred feet away. It backed up for a bit and then turned around. I remembered my tactical self defense course and recalled that the best self defense is staying out of trouble. This seemed to be the perfect opportunity to practice that skill.

I speedily made it back to the car, started it, and drove away. When I got in, I saw the car drive past, but it didn't stop. Which was good, because by now my overactive mind had visions of a mass murderer looking for an easy target. Of course, the practical voice inside me told me that this would be a mightily inefficient way to look for victims, so I could stop worrying, and get out of here already. I didn't really worry, but I have to admit that I was in a heightened state of alertness.

I decided that I did not really want to find those other two caches either, instead I would make my way home. A car was following me, and I had the feeling it was the same car. I was so not going to try to find that out by stopping at another lonely pull-off though.

Took me a while to get to the on ramp of the interstate, and that car finally passed me. I glanced at it, to see what night time weirdos would look like. And realized that I had been followed by a State trooper...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Picture of the Day

Did you know you could fit so many people in one rowboat?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Love is...

Love is swinging in the hammock on a warm, lazy, summer afternoon.

This hammock is one of the best things I have bought for our backyard. It gets a LOT of use, and is a great way to spend time surrounded by family and friends.

Seeing them play in the hammock makes me flashback to when Sylvia was a tiny baby. I was having a hard time with post partum depression, and my midwife had told me that it was very important to try to nap every day. I spent so many hours in that hammock, pillow behind my head, baby on my chest, book in my hand, swinging away, and sometimes falling asleep. Happy, love filled memories.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Fun at the Lake

Time to visit yet another Vermont lake. Kate practices her back float.

Sylvia made sure to get a good share of the watermelon.

Some Vermonters don't have enough money to buy new cars.

Two sisters.

Some of my kids have a bit of trouble to put on their clothes correctly...

Everyone was having so much fun.

And the best thing? I got to swim out into the middle of the lake, ALL BY MYSELF! I felt the freedom of being in the water, not thinking about any of my stresses. Just being, not thinking. The way the water supported me and surrounded me. The blue skies above me. The serenity. The relaxation. The peacefullness. This reinforded into me yet again how much I love swimming. Loving it even more for it being outdoors instead of in a swimming pool.

On the way back, we saw some cool cows, with a backdrop of amazing Vermont views.

I love the horns, very impressive.

We ended the day with a visit to a cemetery. That's what all people do at the end of a nice, relaxing day, right?