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Meantime, Peter's here, and also today was my neighborhood's annual block party.

Which was surprisingly fun! I mean, I think it's meant to allow people to meet their neighbors, which I mostly failed to do, because I was busy eating tasty food, doing parkour, or keeping half an eye on P. while HE was doing parkour. (Unnecessarily, 'cause the guys from the local parkour club were super responsible and very good at dealing with the ever-increasing bunch of kids who agreed with Peter that this was the best thing ever, or at least the best thing that didn't have a movie tie-in or something.)
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(Mostly scribbled down at about 8am this morning.)

On the fells, pastures slope up to heather--but some part of my mind expects forest. And I don't know whether that's a medievalist who's read Nicola Griffith one time too many, or the New Englander who's used to a landscape that's pine trees by default, or whether it's some other cause that accounts for the fact that my gut-level expectation of a landscape is the fields slope up to the forest.
We're going through Elmet, but the wood is long gone.
The heather's in bloom; the decaying/ex- mill towns look almost exactly their counterparts in New England.

There's something, I muse as we roll toward (or maybe out of) Caer Loidis, past what's probably about to be a mall, there's something especially ugly about Development in Britain. Maybe it's just the fact that I know there's so much /less/ land here, and so every bit that's actually still woods or fields is that much more precious; or maybe it's the knowledge that any given chunk of land once belonged to someone, may have two thousand years of history and owners beneath it, and now the topsoil that contains whatever minimal traces that left--if nothing else, the plough furrow, the soil chemistry because /this/ was sheep pasture and /this/ was in barley when Robert Aske's Pilgrims marched on York, or Fairfax passed by on the way to Marston Moor--being untidily bulldozed.
Or maybe it's just that development usually makes me disgusted, and I'm just less used to seeing it here.

I ramble: then and now. Then on the Trans-Pennine Express with Peter, who still finds the view out the window utterly too boring to bother with; or now in my Mum's library, the books all packed in boxes for a move that hasn't come yet, Mum reading Country Life of all things, Peter having utterly crashed after a day of constant energy. Both times utterly sleep-deprived, so much so that five hours of jet lag is a secondary factor at best: our plane caught a tail wind and arrived an hour early, and that in itself is great--but it means I slept for maybe an hour on the plane, then another hour uneasily napping in a real bed when I realised I just couldn't any more. Either way, safe across the Atlantic.
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Peter and I got home very late last night from two days in Maine.* Photos will be hopefully be forthcoming at some point, but I thought of various of his ungodparents and other friends at various points. S, uoyay illway ebay adglay otay owknay atthay ouryay unay-odsongay isay ownay eakingspay igpay atinlay, evenay ifay itay isay ethay arbarousbay aichay ialectday. [personal profile] sovay, El' was amazed at him running barefoot over the stones of the beach. And I kept thinking of Stephen (who doesn't have a journal), as we were constructing a causeway out of stepping stones to avoid the mud in the shallows of the lake, and then later when he was taking to kayaking with a vengeance.

Now I need to sleep. Or try to do so, given that I drank a bunch of coffee after dinner to stay awake for a project that wound up only taking forty-five minutes...

PS: Oh, and of course thanks to my various relatives, and to Squigamunk, for putting up with him occasionally being a brat!

* Well, it was two days for me. Peter had been in Scarborough for like a week before then.
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Gah, right, I never did that post about the rest of my trip to Maine because...well, if I'm honest, mostly because I've been spending too much time playing a bellringing practice game in my iPhone.* Have the condensed version of most of three weekends.

The rest of a weekend in Maine )

LAST weekend: Well, there were no horseshoe crabs (too early in the season), and I didn't get in as much ringing as I'd've liked (or talk Peter into seeing the mosaics), but I got to call the bells into Jennys and Peter and I made sand Pokémon and flew a kite, so it was a pretty ok day. And Sunday my copy of Ursula Vernon's latest unexpectedly showed up in the mail, so that was a pretty ok day overall too.

And I think I'm gonna stop now, because I stayed up til midnight on Friday devouring The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and I didn't really get to catch up last night, and I've had probably more ice cream than you should eat in one sitting, and so I think it's time to keel over again.

* I guess I also owe you a post on "Bellringing and how it is awesome but also horribly addictive".
** In which I was glad to discover neither of their cats had barfed, since apparently they'd been doing that...
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grumble grumble stupid pharmacies that bug you endlessly to get your prescriptions refilled, then only hold them for like 48 hours when you actually manage to do so, grumble.

Anyway. Another week has slid by, and I still haven't gotten around to writing up the rest of last weekend. ([personal profile] julian has been travelloging after the fact, so I guess I could do the same?) But tomorrow I am off to the Cape with a kid and a couple of passengers, to ring bells and annoy crustaceans.* Wish us luck!

* OK, you know and I know that technically horseshoe crabs are chelicerates, Order Xiphosura; but the older literature referred to all marine arthropods as crustaceans, and there really isn't a better word. And who knows, we may find hermit crabs or something.
PS: Limulus polyphemus is one of only FOUR living species worldwide? yeesh.
PPS: Limulus polyphemus is a really great name.
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Somewhere around 1 last night, a branch fell off the tree in our yard. Fortunately, there were (unusually) no cars in the street under it when it fell, and fortunately Somerville public works were able to clear it away with commendable promptitude, but unfortunately this meant that there was an industrial-sized woodchipper going right under my window at three AM, in a night when I had already gotten to bed rather late (though that's another story). So I am a bit out of it today. But anyway:

Various updates, most of them overdue

1. I - and Peter - were at the March for Science last weekend, although Peter got bored and cold and so we left early. Sovay has a better writeup, anyway.
Aaaannnd I'll also be at the Boston branch of the People's Climate Mobilization THIS Saturday. As various people have said on the internet already (and although it's far from the BIGGEST reason to want Trump gone), I wish we didn't have Trump, JUST so I could have my weekends back.

2. I have officially announced that I am quitting my job. )

3. Also in the department of some-of-you-know-it-already-but-I'm-now-making firm-plans: I'm off to England in August! With Peter, to visit my Mom, wherever she is by that point.† I'm currently thinking about ten days,†† likely flying out of Boston (with Peter) on the 14th and coming back the 25th, but that's changeable depending on whether ticket prices are lower on adjacent days. Any road, I'm going to take a couple days off in the middle of my trip to go visit [personal profile] tree_and_leaf, and definitely also (either at Tree's local cathedral or in Sheffield) get some ringing in. So yay!
†Notes )

4. In continuation of 1. and 3.: the weekend AFTER this coming one, choir's off, and so am I. Specifically, to Maine: my brother has a play (and we might get in a slightly damp hike, as well); some old friends from South Portland are having what they're calling a housewarmversary party; and I wanted to visit Squig. anyway. So more yay! (This time, with less complicated logistics!)

Huh. Five things make a post. And that's not even counting tree limbs.

5. (The - kinda - momentous one.)
I have just (I think) paid off my student loans.
OK, that maybe warrants some explanation )

Ugh. I regret nothing about this post, but it's now 9:20 and I haven't even LOOKED at job possibilities. fm.
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Typical me after Easter: eating waaaayyy too much candy.

I should probably cut my losses and go to bed. (After drinking a whole bunch o' water.) Tomorrow afternoon will feature me hauling P. to the March for Science: there is allegedly a family-friendly event somewhere around the Bandstand, though we may ditch it if we get bored. And then probably go to the Science Museum. (Well, or the Aquarium.)

Sooo...probably going to see a whole bunch o' people I know! Though they may be elsewhere on the Common, and a couple of them are in a state of "hoping to come if they can get out of bed." Here's hoping.
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Naturally, the first weekend in a while that G. sent P. down here without snowpants...was the weekend when we unexpectedly got four inches of snow. (Nashua, admittedly, got zero.) We had a decent weekend anyway, mostly thanks to Ursula Vernon books and to my Aunt, who'd given Peter a late birthday present in the form of a frickin' enormous lego set that he'd wanted.* But we COULD have gone sledding. Ah well.

And late yesterday, they announced that the university would be closed today, in view of the expected Snowpocalypse. In fact, though, it didn't start snowing in earnest until after our morning commute would have happened, and it's forecast to have turned to rain by the time we'd be heading home. (Classic New England horrible winter layer-cake storm.) But I guess driving through slush and driving rain in high winds wouldn't have been terribly safe either.

At the moment, though, it IS snowing in earnest: I should probably go make at least some gesture toward shoveling. That should still leave me enough time and energy to apply for something before lunch...

* The Lighthouse Siege, in case anyone's interested. Which I'd sorta seen before, since Peter's normal modus operandi, given a bunch of lego sets, often involves working out how to reverse-engineer some OTHER lego set. With the actual version, I performed what I feel was my official fatherly duty by working out how to get the electronic bits to work.
(Though seriously, Lego: you print the safety warnings in twenty languages: would it kill you to give written instructions for that bit?)
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From an email to a friend:

Protesting and sledding both went pretty well, but both were very cold! I left the protest early, before I *actually* got frostbite; and called a similarly early halt to sledding because my jeans were now filled with ice and my jacket's zipper is broken and I don't handle being cold as well as I used to.

The protest, b.t.w., was a #NoDAPL protest organized by a Hunkpapa Sieux, outside a TD Bank, since they're one of the major funders of TransCanada. Ironically, they are also MY bank. I need to look into transferring all my cash to my credit union account. groan.*

I read part of the Canticle of Brother Sun at the protest, which got me some looks: I'm not sure whether people were impressed and appreciative, or weirded out. [personal profile] teenybuffalo showed up late: I told her she could take over from me on the sign-holding, though we coincided for a quarter hour or so. Peter had been at the Science Museum with a friend and their respective moms: I gather he had fun, though he really really wanted to go sledding. I'd forgotten that Prospect Hill was so steep, though, and hadn't known about the drop-off at the end: so we may actually try Arlington, if we get more sledding in this winter.
Peter spent a lot of time setting up Calvin&Hobbes/slapstick-style improbable sled crash tableaux. I have *got* to look into steering this kid toward theater.

Read more... )
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The weekend--and Christmas--are sadly drawing to a close, so I guess I'd better post a review of the latter. Written in bed,* because it seems likely that one of the things screwing up my knee is sitting at the desk in my bedroom for any length of time.

Featuring menorahs and unexpected gifts )

Ringing in the New Year )
Tomorrow I need to go to work. That seems strange, now.
Also, it means I should sleep.

* Well, the bits I didn't previously draft on my phone.

** OK, strictly Dad's partner El.'s house, but you get the idea.

*** Note to self: Yes, add butter; but not that much; do NOT attempt to mix lemon juice directly into eggnog and half-melted butter. (The thing came out ok anyway.)

**** I say "actually" because the first time I was involved in trying to do firing--July 4 of what is now last year--it didn't really work at all.
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So. Babysitters. In Boston, on New Year's Eve.

Going to be prohibitively expensive, right?


I'd been trading emails with G. about arrangements for Peter's travels after Christmas. I'd been hoping to bring him along to [personal profile] sovay's family's annual Latke-fest, which this year falls on the 30th. Sovay's Mom likes to see him; so, of course, does his unGodmother; and it's one of the few events I go to that's really kid-friendly. The plan was therefore: have the day off on Friday; go up to Maine on Thursday night, where Peter has been spending a couple of days with his Grandfather; exchange presents and such with Dad, go down to Boston, have Latkes. G. picks him up sometime on NYE; I go literally ring in the New Year in a belltower.

Since the key "Day off on the 29th" hadn't been settled til yesterday, though--and since G. had forgotten about the latke plan, back when it was in its very theoretical stages--she'd already made OTHER plans.

So I have a lot of feels about all this. About which more later, since I need to go catch a train.

Addendum, as promised )
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I aten't dead...
But with Peter in town for the week, I'm spending most of my time very busy, and the remainder about HALF-dead. But I owe you an update...

I took Friday off and drove up to Maine in the afternoon, to rendezvous with my Dad and brother for Dan's last 4000'ers. Which is how I wound up carrying a bottle of champagne up Mt. Carter.
We had excellent weather and the views were surprisingly good, though my mood was a little shadowed by the fact that Dad pulled something in his calf partway through that left him in a lot of pain, but he determined to carry on nonetheless. (He's fine now, but it was worrying at the time!)
Then he took us out to a three-star restaurant in Bartlett, a.k.a. "Where?!?"

As long as I was in Maine, I then went to visit Squigamunk. Inevitably, this involves mutual commiseration on underemployment and job applications, and me continuing to be shocked that anyone can survive her schedule. Equally inevitable: ticks, Rock Band, reading random fantasy novels, being distracted by the internet.

All of this made sense 'cause I was picking Peter up from G's godparents' place in Scarborough, then spending a couple days in Portland with him and my Dad. And all that went pretty well, and now we are back in Somerville. And I am very tired.
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OK, quick update:

1. For anyone who hasn't heard, I am now officially permanently employed at my job!
1a. Well, for a value of "permanently" that equals "until I muster the energy to apply for something better, and have the luck to actually get it."
1b. The downside of this is that K. and I am the only temps left, which leaves our office with about two fewer people than we need to handle the current volume of mail...
1c. And no, the pay has not gotten any less $#!77y.

2. Peter was here over the weekend. Most of that time was spent building lego, as per usual (well, that and shopping for socks, since G. had forgotten to pack them.) On Saturday afternoon, though, we managed to go out for an outing with Sovay, and headed out to historic Concord. She has done a better
account of it than I could; I will only add that I should have realized that, while chain restaurants are generally of dubious quality, small-town pizza joints are one thing that is generally worse. (Sorry, sovay!)
Oh well, Peter had fun.
(Oh, and: while he is probably better at lego than either of us were at seven, I reckon each of us could've kicked his butt at tree climbing. I mean, it's a thing he enjoys, but S. and I were each practically arboreal for a while.) (Maybe he'll grow into that, though.)

3. Managed to actually get two things crossed off my "urgent to-do" list on Monday! I
Given how long I'd procrastinated on both, I shouldn't feel accomplished, but I do.

4. This weekend will possibly feature a visit by Squigamunk (yay!), though that's gonna play merry hell with my other social obligations.
Well, unless she'd willing to help vacuum a ringing chamber, usw. We'll see.

...I should get back to work.

2: In Concord, Peter wanted to play with leaves, rather than watch Morris Dancing (silly kid!). I mostly obliged, though he also spent some time chasing various other children (with leaves, o/c.)
The apple Sovay mentions in her post may or may not have been an exemplar of the famous Roxbury Russet: that would make sense at a Massachusetts historical museum, but on looking it up online the fruits I saw looked more like a Golden Russet, so who knows.

3: Somebody bug me to make sure the Internet bill got paid.

5: I particularly wanted to get to bellringing practice this evening (especially since I thought I was supposed to be the token congregant when some Beacon Hill neighborhood association showed up to visit?)
Naturally, therefore, this was the one day my train got canceled.
Well, the one day so far. As everyone keeps reminding me, if this winter is anything like last--and people are claiming that's likely--this will be a REGULAR occurrence.
Bloody America. As I was saying to my roommate's GF this morning, "This is where I wish the country would get taken over by the Swiss." The Thurbo kept running right through the blizzard of '06...
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Just finished a letter to my Mom with the phrase This past week has been mostly terrible, is what I'm saying.

That it has not been ENTIRELY terrible is due almost solely to the generosity of various awesome friends: chief among them Squigamunk and [personal profile] sovay. The former wins the Best Former Student Ever award after taking me and Peter out to brunch, and then off to the nearest ball field, noting that my tires were a bit flat and then offering me the use of an air pump, and then tustling with said 7-y-o around and over and under her much-prized inflatable Velociraptor.
Sovay allowed me to gate-crash her family taking her out to a post-reading supper, when I hadn't eaten in many hours and was desperately in need of companionship, calories, and sympathy all at once. A shorter time commitment, but I needed it far more, and it felt like even more of an imposition.

Now I am going to go wash the sand out of my hair, and fall into bed. Today was much less of a pure river of the water of bobcat than my last couple of days at work, but even so: I'm too exhausted for job searching, or even a proper update, and I need to go wash road sand out of my hair.
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Bloody neighbours left their car blocking the driveway, and then inexplicably disappeared.

(This wouldn't be my issue, exc. there's a - unnecessary, as it turned out - parking ban for this evening...)
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Peter update:

I was going to start by saying "Peter is well", but in strict accuracy he has a stuffed nose and a rash on his butt, and I'm checking him for signs of Lyme Disease every other hour, since he picked up two on our brief hike* on Tuesday, and one of them I only found the next morning. Fingers crossed.
This does hint at a couple of pieces of better news, namely that he really likes hikes in the woods and that he can now put on his own pajamas when he feels like it.

He can also read (again, when he feels so inclined), and he still likes climbing on rocks. His obsession with trains has moderated somewhat, and he is now learning his Greek roots by the now-traditional method: dinosaur names.
He is still skinny, cute, prone to devouring vast quantities of pasta, and exhaustingly energetic. His mother is reading him the Chronicles of Narnia; his speech is punctuated by lines from Dragonbreath. I think we're mostly bringing him up ok.

* Up Jackman Ridge: [personal profile] sovay knows the terrain. I was also planning on doing the Boulder Loop Trail with him this week, but between the weather and the ticks I decided to postpone that for some other visit...
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Silly's is a Portland institution. Founded in the eighties, it is implicitly a hippy joint. Perhaps "restaurant for hippies and their families" would be more precise: it's smoke free and aggressively kid-friendly. But it's also open super late, serves enormous portions, has vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free options on everything, will put anything you request in a milkshake (or, probably, a burrito wrap), and thus seems designed by nature for catering to the late-night munchies. So while the atmosphere is not actually filled with wreaths of marijauna smoke, that seems like a simple oversight.
[Also, a very dangerous place if you live within six blocks--as my brother did after graduation, or as I do now--and are trying to keep either your waistline or budget under control. Otherwise, you could easily wind up there for fried pickles and mead milkshakes every other night.]

Story #1: Capture the Flag. Somebody has apparently just formed a capture-the-flag Meetup group, so my own Geek Club decided to take them on at their first meetup this past Sunday. Which would have been a great idea, had we actually had their contact info.
As it was, we failed to find them. And apparently wound up playing SEPARATE games of CtF, at opposite ends of the park, each group thinking the other was a bunch of losers. (Oh well, we had fun, even with lightning three-on-three games. Even with several of us complaingin of strained hamstrings when we next saw each other.)
Among our number was an 18-yo n00b, both to Portland and to meetup schtuff, so after all this strenuous exercise we felt it incumbant upon us to introduce him to Silly's. But having hiked over there, we found out that it was, in fact, closed for ten days. To say we were bummed was an understatement. Ah well, there will be other opportunities.

Story #2: Involving Peter. In my case, opportunity called yesterday, since I was picking up Peter for the weekend and didn't feel like cooking. First, though, I had to survive so long.
See, I'd been out late the previous night...and the night before...and whether or not this was related, I was nodding off at the wheel as I approached the New Hampshire border. Actually drifted off for a second on the far side of Kezar Falls, to discover I was skidding off the road. By the grace of GOD I managed not to go into a ditch or cause a multi-car pileup, but somewhere in the course of that dreadful minute I seem to have done something to the car--whether the relevant wheel, the clutch, the brakes or all three I know not; all I know is that it started to make a horrible grinding noise--which Peter likened to a train starting up--at low speeds. So while Khusrau is still running fine, and I was able to get Peter, my bike and a trunkful of boxes back to Portland without incident, I have been trying like hell to avoid driving since, and we'll be paying another visit to my mechanic on Monday.
We'd probably have walked to Silly's anyway. It's not very far.
It was only as we were preparing to head out the door that it occured to me that I didn't know whether they'd reopened yet. I was intensely relieved to see the Open sign when I got there; but it was clear that most of the rest of Portland had been jonesin' in the interim as well.
"Cut them some slack," I advised an irate fellow-customer whose ticket had been mislaid, as the waitstaff got in traffic jams around the newly redesigned kitchen. "They only reopened yesterday."
"Actually we only reopened two hours ago," interjected a haggard-looking waitress. She had reason to be haggard: on a Friday night, after a ten-day hiatus, and what with the vastly expanded space next door and out back, I think I overheard that they'd fed six hundred people in those two hours.
Under these circumstances, I started to wonder whether we would get served before midnight: other people in the same circumstances were splitting, and the management was (very politely and diplomatically) pleased to see them go, even with the risk of losing a customer and the certainty of already half-prepared meals that would be neither eaten nor paid-for. Again thank God: a quick inquiry determined that my Diesel wrap would be ready in less than ten minutes, and that in fact Peter's chicken and fries was ready now: would we like it? An almightily Silly question: but I love them too much to fault them for it.
(Other people I can't fault? Peter, for coping with delayed dinner with [reasonable] patience; the waitress who found him "a few" crayons [read: a couple of dozen. See above under aggressively kid-friendly.])

Uh. There's more I should post about: medications, who I may be quitting the cathedral, and my apartment and neighborhood. ANd there's probably something productive I should be doing re: classes next week, or even for looking for other work/money stuff. But I'm braindead and Peter is probably going to demand to get up at dawn again, so I think I'm going to cut my losses and head for bed...
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For those who care, a quick update on my week with Peter:

Background: G was off at clergy camp this week, so I was looking after Peter. I picked him up in Plymouth two Fridays ago, and drove all the way to Boston today to drop him off for an afternoon with his Auntie before G. got home.

It was extremely exhausting, even with Dad and his partner putting im up for a couple of nights (giving me a chance to get a haircut, go running for the first time in a week, and deposit some large checks.)

Stuff we did: We spent a lot of time on various local beaches, this being the chief thing Peter was looking forward to (beach=mile-long sandbox). I did my usual routine of building castles and diverting streams, semi-independently of whatever he was up to. Peter climbed a lot of rocks.
This, of course, was NOT possible while it was raining. Which made those days...let's not talk about it.
- Dad took us to the Maine Maritime museum (a bit old for Peter, but fun for me.*) His Partner took Peter to the Portland Children's Museum (while I was running etc.)
- We met up with Peter's godfather and his daughter at Joker's, which is kind of a for-profit version of the children's museum, though also featuring bad pizza and an excellent indoor climbing maze. Peter's godfather...yeah. Is also in some stage of the process of getting divorced - under circumstances that make me feel good about my own behavior, which is an achievement - and is now planning to get a PhD in Law. This is about career plan number...5? 6? And somewhere along the line he became a Libertarian. So we're still friends, I guess, but it's kinda weird.
Oh well, Peter got to ride a tiny train with Ivy.
- We wandered around the Maine Audobon sanctuary, brought dinner to Peter's auntie-to-be (Dan wasn't there: he's been in tech for his latest show pretty much 24/7 this past week), and attempted to go to the train museum, unfortunately missing the last train ride. ah well, next time.

Now I am very tired, and attempting to figure out the next two weeks. There will definitely be trying to figure out bloody unemployment and applying for more jobs; I also have to write a paper for, and then organize my transport to, Kalamazoo. Presumably I will make time for socializing, which may or may not include driving all the way to Boston again.

On re-reading, it all sounds much more dire than it was. We did have fun! But yeah, tiring. And I've drawn enough tiny trains for him for the next month, ifyoudon'tmind.

* A propos of that trip, I swear I can remember the Wiscasset Schooners (which the museum naturally discussed) from my childhood, but Dad swears there's no way we ever went by there. Who knows...
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Weather-wise, today was about my ideal: the ground watered from yesterday's rain, clear skies, high winds. Remarkable surf on the beach, where I spent much of the day with Peter. (Well, it's a giant sandbox, and also there are rocks to climb on. He takes after his father that way.)

I also built sandcastles (sometimes to the neglect of helping with his...), while also reflecting on real fortifications. With one of the batteries on House Island staring you in the face, it was hard not to; and i reflected for the fiftieth time that in the nineteenth century they spent a vast deal of effort turning Portland into a real pig's 4r$3 to attack. Just along the shore from us, the site now occupied by SMCC is defended by a half-built, yet still bad4$$ stone battery and (what I hadn't realized before) a rather impressive set of earthworks above. So to attack Portland Harbor, you'd have to run the gammut of that AND House Island (the latter taking ranging shots as you approached and firing into your stern as you ewent by...); and that's AFTER you got past Portland Head, and BEFORE you even think about Fort Allen on the Eastern Prom, or the truly ridonculous Fort Gorges

Peter himself is now conked out in the back seat of my car: fell asleep within minutes of getting in, after two hours of throwing sticks off the rocks (bad plan, as it turned out) and running on the sand. He's going to wake up rather dehydrated and with salt still on his hands, but I haven't the heart to wake him. Besides, he woke up at 6 this morning.


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