I’m the best mom (because my kids make it easy)

I parked towards the top of the driveway (I was suppposed to go out for lunch, but that didn’t happen), so Dad’s car wouldn’t fit. I’m sitting here on the couch, next to Alpha, and realize …

So I gave Alpha my car keys and said, “Hey, wanna move my car for me?”

She only freaked out for 10 seconds and then she was out the door with my keys. I told her to tell Dad to help her out.

She did it. She moved my car (20 feet down the driveway). Kid is flying high on success right now. I am SO proud of her!

ps – Go. Me.

In which Mom goes on a wild tear

We’ve all had that moment (or at least those of us who are the “fun,” read “irresponsible,” part of the couple), where our responsible half, they who keep roofs over our heads, food on our plates, and everyone mostly on task, sighs a sigh of wistful desire. Well, mine happened today. Dad’s mountain bike is 25 years old, and in need of so much TLC at this point, it would be cheaper to replace it. This offends his sensibilities, so he’s been effectively without a mountain bike for years. Until today.

Bones3 truck-mount bike rack on an 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring
Bike, rack, and helmet #3.

I give you his new bike. Its another Specialized Rockhopper, and he loves it. The rack was pretty simple to put on, as far as trunk-mounted bike racks go. That means the swearing was kept to a minimum, and there was no blood spilt.

Keeping an eye on the bikes, because who needs a bike lock?

We took it out for a dry run with Beta. A traditional trip to the Panera downtown to grab some lunch and have some fun. Their kitchen sink cookies are not for the faint of heart, but oh so good if you share.

We hung out for a while, until the whinging from certain parties about going home became too much, got back on our (lovely, new) bikes and headed home. The ride is surprisingly flat (yay floodplain), which made testing out and finding gears so much easier.

After we got home, the statement was made: I want to go to the beach (guess who). After some digging to find a beach with other things to do. Apparently we were not doing bathing suits today. Some pretty slick Googling came up with Castle Island. Beach, walking trail, dog beach, perfect!

After some finagling, browbeating, and the promise to play Minecraft when we got back, we piled everyone (including the dog) into the car and took off for South Boston.

Handful of periwinkles, all still alive. One is poking its head out.

The place is surprisingly pretty. It is right next to the docks for the really big ships, so we got to watch a cruise ship put out to sea. Beta and I walked the beach, while Dad and Alpha walked the dog around the causeway. Beta turned out to be the periwinkle whisperer. We didn’t count how many she found, but they were all still alive. We put them someplace safe to wait for the tide to come back in.

Safe place for periwinkles (we hope)

We had a great walk, and found a couple of live oysters, too. After a while, we started down the causeway towards the open ocean. Beta walked back on the outside of the fence, only having to jump across about half way back (no more asphalt to walk on, and I lost my nerve). We met up with Dad, Alpha and the dog a little while later, and packed up to head home.

Not too shabby a day!

Beta and her oysers

Color Me Amused

A big shout-out to Notes from the Eastern Front!

I just found out that my brother’s family maintain a blog as well.  As usual with things that pertain to my brother, we found out by accident — he hasn’t mentioned it to anyone for the three months since it’s inception.

FYI, their blog overloads the Alpha and Beta identifier for their kids, who are known as Eta and Mu on this blog.

Camping @ Hammonasset

Our southern friends from Connecticut invited us to go camping at Hammonasset Beach State Park with them.  They go every year as a big party, with family and friends.

I only recently found out that this is a thing; our neighbors/friends from across the street go up to a campsite in New Hampshire every year to meet with other friends, some of whom they only know from camping.

tent
Our tent [click to see more of our campsite]
This was our first time going camping as a family, ever.  I’ve gone deep-woods camping by myself. (No facilities, no roads, no people, no nothing — I’ve never smelled worse than three nights of that.)  Meghan had been camping at Pennsic and Gulf Wars during college.  (She has stories that amaze.)  Beta has been overnight camping (in cabins) as part of Girl Scouts.  We’ve all been “camping” in the backyard.  This trip was a first for being away from home and trucking everything we would need.

Day 1

We arrived mid-afternoon and immediately set to pitching our tent, figuring that there could be nothing worse than setting up a tent in the dark when you’re exhausted.  Though the tent was new and this was our first time, it went up pretty quickly and cleanly.

Jones's and Gailey's
Jones’s and Gaileys. The Gailey’s custom campaign tent is in the background; behind are a couple of Hobie Cats that we sailed the next day.

Our friends provided dinner: our traditional Friday night get-together victuals, spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread, only on a Monday.  Being experienced campers with a lot more room to pack stuff, they graciously offered to provide dinner for the two nights we were there.  After dinner there were s’mores around a communal campfire, where we got to meet the rest of the party — more Gaileys and some family friends.

There were kids of all ages, including a few that were right around Alpha and Beta’s ages.  They played boffer swords until dark, then convinced a couple of us adults to play manhunt.

We didn’t tuck into bed until about 10 pm.  As the kids washed up some of us gathered around to chat and stargaze, and we were able to point out some satellites going by.  The other adults hadn’t known that you could see them so easily.  Schwing!

Sleep, for a variety of reasons, was somewhat elusive the first night, except for Alpha who can sleep through pretty much anything.

Day 2

We started the day with pancakes, eggs, and bacon.  The Gaileys possess a propane-fired flattop grill which made cooking a breeze.

sailing away
Quinn and Sam, sailing to Tahiti

Sam wanted to get the two Hobie Cats they brought along into the water.  We got to the beach and set to rigging them, then took ourselves and the kids out for some sails.

We were at the beach for about four hours, and as a group we only got slightly burned — I had planned ahead and coaxed the girls into going to the beach with me for a week leading up to the trip.  Meghan got a bit burned across the shoulders, and oddly enough Mu (the junior Gailey) got sunburned on the tops of his feet.

After packing the boats back onto their trailer, we headed back to camp (with a detour into town to get aloe) in order to make dinner.  Second night was a communal pot luck, with hot dogs, hamburgers, and a bunch of sides.  We got to know the other campers in the party and found that we have a lot in common.

rainbow
A passing shower gave us a rainbow… over the campsite bathrooms.

The rain, which had been holding off all day, finally came in the form of a few brief showers and a rumble of thunder.  I checked the weather radar back home and, wouldn’t you know it, heavy storms were moving through our town.  (I love thunderstorms but seem to have a repelling effect on them.  Even the strongest storms peter out as they reach our area.)

We took the opportunity to coax the girls into bed a bit earlier, though sleep was still hard to find the second night.  Besides possibly being over-tired, the temperature dropped to nearly 50° F so everyone (except me) was cold despite blankets.

Day 3

We all got up early to a beautiful morning.  Meghan and Joanne took a walk back out to the beach to look for some bald eagles we had noticed the day before.

Checkout is 12 pm, and we planned to swing through Noank on the way home to see the folks, so we packed up the campsite right after breakfast (more bacon, eggs, and pancakes, plus sausages) and hung out with the Gaileys until it was time to go.

We bid adieu and headed out right at noon, spent a few hours having lunch and visiting with Mom and Dad Jones, plus Katie Jones and Eta (my niece).  We made it home just in time to get Butter out of doggie daycare.

WordPress Error: cURL error 6: Couldn’t resolve host ‘dashboard.wordpress.com’

Background:

I maintain a WordPress blog that uses Jetpack’s Stats package.

Issue:

We started getting this error message when opening the ‘Stats’ page:

We were unable to get your stats just now. Please reload this page to try again. If this error persists, please contact support. In your report please include the information below.

User Agent: 'Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:54.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/54.0'
Page URL: 'https://blog.server.tld/wp-admin/admin.php?page=stats&noheader'
API URL: 'https://dashboard.wordpress.com/wp-admin/index.php?noheader=true&proxy&page=stats&blog=XXX&charset=UTF-8&color=fresh&ssl=1&j=1:5.0&main_chart_only'
http_request_failed: 'cURL error 6: Couldn't resolve host 'dashboard.wordpress.com''

The entire Stats block in the Dashboard was empty, and the little graph that shows up in the Admin bar on the site was empty as well.

Other errors noticed:

RSS Error: WP HTTP Error: cURL error 6: Couldn't resolve host 'wordpress.org'
RSS Error: WP HTTP Error: cURL error 6: Couldn't resolve host 'planet.wordpress.org'

These errors were in the WordPress Events and News section, which was also otherwise empty.

This whole thing was ridiculous on it’s face, as the hosts could all be pinged successfully from said server.

I checked with Jetpack’s support, per the instructions above, and got a non-response of “check with your host.”  Well, this isn’t being run on a hosting service so you’re telling me to ask myself.  Thanks for the help anyway.

Resolution:

The machine in question had just upgraded PHP, but Apache had not been restarted yet. The curl errors don’t make much sense, but since when does anything in PHP make sense?

It was kind of a “duh!” moment when I realized that could be the problem.  Restarting Apache seems to have solved it.

Hiking @ Goldsmith

We found a new place for a nature walk: Goldsmith Woodlands in Andover.  We covered about half of the trails in a two-hour walk.

The town provides a rough map.

flowers
Just a random bush. I think they’re rhododendrons?
kids
All three kids, two human and one dog, heading down the trail
trail
Looking down the trail. Most of the trails are about as well-groomed as this.
bessie's point
Looking out from the end of the trail at Bessie’s Point (click to expand)

 

That was one angry duck…

I’m sitting in the living room, minding my own business, working from home (as you do), when I see a large bird land in the neighbor’s yard, followed by a male mallard duck. Being me, and curious, I checked and sure enough, the first bird was a female duck.

After they finished doing … whatever it is they were doing in the neighbor’s yard, she popped up on the fence and started quacking. Loudly. For a LONG time.

She was up there for a good two minutes, quacking angrily. And then she moved…

Yes. That’s my car. With an angry duck on it. She flew off along with Mr. Duck. You can almost hear the “Honey! Wait for me!”