My new camera lens

Yesterday was spent at the Boston Museum of Science with the Mystic Joneses. Today, we took Beta back for the thing she loves most: The Butterfly Garden. (We couldn’t go yesterday because it was sold out. Pro-tip, avoid the MOS on Federal Holidays at all costs.)

For my birthday I got something I’ve been wanting for a while: a set of lenses for my phone. I went a little nuts with the macro lens. I can’t even say I’m sorry about it.

These butterflies fake being owls. Very successfully.
These butterflies fake being owls. Very successfully. There is a husband in the background for scale.
you cannot see me
This guy was just hanging out, playing the You-Can’t-See-Me game. Poorly.

Most of these were taken from just a couple of inches away. The butterflies and moths in this exhibit are so relaxed around people, its is amazing.

pretty white
Caught this butterfly mid-flutter. Very lucky shot.

I played with my settings, and found out that trying to use the macro lens on butterflies on swaying branches was a guaranteed failure.

The details I managed to get were astounding, though.

curled tongue
You can even see his little curled-up tongue!

Some pictures came out with some real drama. You can almost see his scales!

yummy flower
This guy was hanging out and sipping from the flowers.

I am really pleased with these little lenses.

battle hardened
This little guy has been pretty beaten up. I’m guessing he’s a couple days old.

And of course, I had to do a gratuitous, super-close-up of a flower. For Reasons.

pink flower

Aspen How-to for Smart People

First: Find the email from the school. You can search your inbox for the name “Aspen Help”

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.32.34

In that email, there is a username and password. I never change mine, because I am a ditz and will forget it if I do.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.32.11

Awesome. Keys to the kingdom and all that.

The URL for aspen is: but you can get to it from any of the schools’ websites (

Let the insanity begin.

Log in with the credentials they gave you.

Now we’re in the insanity that is the home page. It is almost as useless as you think. In case they dump you on a weird page other than the Home page, just click the “Home” button.

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To do the Emergency Info thing, you need to scroll down the page to see the “Tasks” area. Its below the To Do section.

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Click on Initiate. Because this makes so much sense.

At this point a dialog pops up with this totally sensible window. First one we’ve seen, right? Guess how you kick it off. Go ahead. (I gave you an arrow to help.)

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.34.36

At this point, you’re in. There are several windows that need to be filled out. It won’t let you click Finish until they are complete, but it does tell you what still needs doing.

If you need to do more than one kiddo, you go back to the first dialog and click on the Search thingie to get the list of kids.

Hope this helps!

The downside to moving

A quick “downer” note to our adventures in the north.

I realized today that one thing I actually miss is running into people I know.  We were back in Mystic for a couple of hours today and we ran into three people who know us and we hadn’t planned to see while we were in town, while in a huge crowd of tourists.  I haven’t lived there for over a decade but there were some smiling faces.  I wonder who else I knew in that crowd and just happened to miss?

Here, in our new home, I go weeks without meeting a friend out and about – even at the local grocery store.  I feel out of step with the people around me, I haven’t found a common rhythm with my neighbors.  It’s probably common for people who move to a completely new area but it sucks all the same.

Canobie Lake

One of Beta’s friends invited us to join her (and her parents Nick and Valerie) at Canobie Lake Park over Labor Day weekend.  It’s a bit like Six Flags or Walt Disney Land, but smaller.  (WDL != WDW).

The rides are good, the lines were relatively short (not like the last time we went to WDW where the fast pass system was a must), and it’s only a 20 minutes away.  What a deal.

I got Alpha to ride with me on the “Corkscrew Coaster“, which flips you upside-down; she got me to ride on “Wipe Out” which left me dizzy (it spins — fast).  She rode it a couple of times by herself, too.

Megh rode on the Boston Tea Party a couple of times, once with each child, and was soaked.  Making her do that was my revenge for making me sit in front of the log flume.  The splash when the “boat” hits the water goes up and out probably fifty feet.

There was a carousel ride, some kids-only rides, lunch, and water slides in there too.  We did probably a third of the park by nightfall.  We ended the day out with the ferris wheel and a sky ride, and left as the dark was falling with some rain to boot.

Cape 2014 – Day 6

We started the day with swimming at Harding Beach. The water was decently warm today, the sun was bright, and the seaweed wasn’t overwhelming. Megh and I declined to repeat past mistakes and left after an hour. Tim and Kelly stayed a little longer.

After lunch, while Delta napped, Megh, Kelly, Beta, and I went back to Chatham to shop. Beta and I investigated the toy shops (again) and a book store; I’m not allowed to know everywhere Megh and Kelly went. We hit Buffy’s Ice Cream Shop on our way out.

Alpha child had started feeling poorly during the day – sore throat, swollen tonsils, slight fever. Megh took her to a clinic to rule out strep throat and everyone else headed to Nauset Beach.

The beach is notable for its fine sand and strong surf. We had a great time body surfing.

There was a seal that continually cruised the surf a few yards further offshore than the body surfers dared to go. No pictures, we were too busy playing in the surf to grab a camera. No sharks, either.

We turned a bunch of disparate leftovers into a fine feast for dinner. While eating on the deck a bunny paid us a visit.

After the kids went to bed we enjoyed Star Wars Episode II, MST3K style.

Cape 2014, Day 5 – Whale Watch!

We started the day with some mini-golf to kill time. I had forgotten how expensive mini-golf is on the Cape. The kids had fun, but Tim, Kelly, and Delta bailed part-way through to enforce a nap for Delta.

The whale watch was with the Dolphin Fleet out of Provincetown. We were scheduled to leave port at 2:30. Tim and Kelly, by leaving early, were sure to arrive the requisite one-hour early to find parking (even after picking up Joan at the house). They did, which was lucky for them because parking was difficult to find and they had to park a mile away.

Megh and I, by finishing our game of mini golf and stopping by the house and grocery store to pick up supplies and snacks, were guaranteed to be barely on time – and we were. We arrived about fifteen minutes early (traffic was snarled on Route 6, no surprise there, but it didn’t help us make up lost time) so I valiantly offered to drop off the family and wander the town for a few hours. They got out, and the parking lot next to the pier started letting cars in again. So by arriving late we parked right next door. Lucky for us.

The whale watch itself was great.

Highlight: a group of four whales repeatedly surfaced and sounded right by the boat.

Personal highlight: Alpha spent the majority of the cruise talking with a boy.

After returning to dry land, we struck out in search of victuals – it was 6:00 and the kids needed to eat. The Lobster Pot was recommended, but the wait was over an hour. The Governor Bradford was available, though. Unfortunately, in retrospect. The food tasted good, the food presentation was mediocre (to be generous – the kitchen did make an attempt, though they might have done better by skipping it), and the service was slow, slow, slow – we took over two hours to get out of there. At least we a) ate outside and b) there’s a little grassy area in back where the kids could play.

After dinner Tim and I took off to fetch the cars – first to ours, since it was close, and the I dropped Tim off at his and we jetted back.

While waiting, Kelly and Megh decided to go shopping. When Tim and I returned we had no idea where they had gone. If you know Provincetown then you know that navigating to the piers and trying to wait for someone can be… distressing. No place to park and falling darkness.

It took twenty-five minutes (not that I was counting…) but we got on our way home. Bed came soon after we got in the door.

Cape 2014, Day 4

Oh, the sunburns. No beach today (except Joan).

We wandered out after lunch (meatball grinders, yum!) to stroll downtown Chatham. Megh and Joan walked the length of it, while the kids and I were waylaid by a couple of toy stores and ice cream. We played at the park until the womenfolk returned. They came laden with items so I regret letting them loose without supervision.

After returning home we waited for Tim, Kelly, and Delta to arrive. We had a great dinner out on the back deck, and finished up with a visit to Schoolhouse Ice Cream.

Cape 2014, Day 3

We spent the middle of the day at the beach, bayside this time.

I knew that going midday would be a mistake, and I was right: we’re all sunburned across our shoulders. All the extra time I spent in the sun for the past few weeks, preparing for this trip, was for naught. Megh didn’t stand a chance, though the kids aren’t too bad (they had pretty good tans already so their burns are light).

We crept out during the afternoon in search of our traditional source of salt water taffy, plus a birthday gift for our latest nephew Delta (a stuffed whale and a dump truck seemed appropriate for him).

For dinner we introduced Joan to our home-made meatballs over spaghetti.

Cape 2014, Day 2

The bad weather trailed away by lunch time. The clouds remained but we went to Hardings Beach (which is on the ocean side). The water was freezing but the girls swam anyway. They both had new flippers to try out, you see.
Michelle and John went home around 4 pm. We all hung out on the beach until then, after attempting to swim with the kids (with varying success).
Afterwards the five of us (me, Megh, Alpha, Beta, and Joan) went home to make supper, followed by an obligatory trip to Sundae School and a quick jaunt towards Dennisport to a) look for the kite shop we had thought was in downtown Chatham (nope, Harwich), b) see if Wee Packet is still open so we can plan a breakfast trip (it is), and c) check out the house we used to stay in.

Cape 2014, Day 1

A crummy day, weather-wise, but a good day otherwise.
Family friend Michelle came out with boyfriend John for an overnight. We ate lunch together and took a trip to downtown Chatham. The girls shopped, while John and I sat and chatted about current events (Ukraine and Russia is big in the news right now), WW2, and personal histories.
We returned in mid-afternoon and sat out on the back deck. We learned some surprising family lore, (e.g. who smoked pot). When the rain really started Megh and I retreated inside to tend to the kids, while the older folk sat under the deck umbrella and drank wine.
I finally got to watch The LEGO Movie with the girls over their dinner – Mac and Cheese mixed with leftover taco meat. Yay!