Monday, December 29, 2008

Missed It By That Much!

Well, I let the picture of the day slip again, this time because I forgot to upload it. Oh well, I'll move the picture that was supposed to be today's to tomorrow so that you don't miss it.

The weather continues to be weird, a situation shared by a great many people, as I'm reading about parts of the Midwest who, after being buried in several feet of snow now have to worry about flooding as it melts. Our melt-off is not quite that severe, but the plywood I put on the back deck, that I couldn't work on Saturday because it was coated with slush and ice, was dry this morning when I went to replace it with deck boards.

Even better, our driveway, which was so bad it was all we could do to shovel down about twenty feet to make room for our cars to park at the top (plus a little alcove in front of the new house where Tom puts his car). Now the driveway and Tom's alcove are completely clear of snow.

Alas, it is not to last, for more snow is coming tonight, so we're told. It's only supposed to be a couple of inches, but then that's what I heard the last time. I'm breaking out the shovels to celebrate the coming of the new year.

Speaking of the new year, here's hoping that 2009 is better for everyone than 2008, even if 2008 was a great year for you. I know there's a lot of trepidation about the economy--certainly our family economy is nothing to shout about--but I see a year loaded with potential.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Post-Christmas Breakdown

I'm exhausted. We stayed up very late Christmas Eve wrapping presents and making other preparations, many of which would have been done much earlier had we not had the worst ice storm in New Hampshire history (according to the electric company) followed by two consecutive snow storms.

Which, by the way, have been followed by rain and high temperatures, again, leaving us wondering what kind of weather we're supposed to be preparing for.

Anyway, back to Christmas. The kids got up early, of course. We had a deal with them: they bought some gifts for each other that they could open in their room and play with quietly until we got up at 7:30. Noon would have been nicer, but we figured that was pushing it. As it turned out, the power went out around 7:15, which kind of woke everyone up, worried about how to make food, not to mention flushing toilets (our water is supplied by an electric pump).

The power came back on about half an hour later, but going back to bed was, by that time, not an option.

The day was lovely, with wonderful gifts and good food: orange sweet rolls for breakfast, a glorious egg-and-cheese pie for brunch, and Chicken Tetrazzini, a family favorite, for dinner. (Curious fact I discovered while looking up the spelling of Tetrazzini: the dish is named after an Italian operatic soprano of the 19th Century.)

Good company, too. In addition to the five of us, we had Tom's girlfriend Julia for brunch and his good friend Jeremy for dinner and overnight.

At the end of the day, though, we were more than ready for a good night's sleep. Well, four of us were. The two teenagers were more ready for a late night of video games. They got to sleep in this morning. Not so Karen and myself. The kids get up around 6:30 even when there is no school, and Karen had to go right back to work.

I should recover just about the time 2008 comes to a close.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mountains of White

From Friday night through all of Saturday, and again on Sunday, an amazing amount of dry, powdery snow fell. It was like being in one of the ski resort towns in the high mountains of California. When we awoke this morning, more than two feet of snow was sitting atop our cars and, unfortunately, the driveway they are parked on.

I spent a couple of hours Saturday shoveling off the driveway, only to have it comepletely buried by today. So far I have only managed to cut a path to the top of the drive, where Karen is keeping her car, and to dig out around Tom's car (with help from Tom) which is parked in front of the new house, where it got buried by the town plow trucks.

Except for the what the plows leave, most of the snow is very light. But that's hardly a comfort when there's so much of it that you can't find room to put it.

On the other hand, I don't have to wonder much about what I'll be doing tomorrow. And the next day.

On Sunday, on the other hand, while things were getting very white outside, they were also getting very white inside the boys' bedroom in the new house as we spent the afternoon priming the sheetrock. We're going to stop at priming until we move in, and then do one room at a time until we are done.

Right now it's late, and I have to save up some energy for shoveling and looking after vacationing children tomorrow. Good night.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Powerless, Again

Well, you might have noticed that the pictures are recycling again. But this time I have a better excuse. The power was back up when we arrived home on Saturday, but we had to clean like mad from our camp-out to get the house ready to show on Sunday while we went off to Santa's Village.

I was going to catch up on the pictures today, but the power went out again. This time it was the winds, which were accompanied by temperatures in the fifties. That's right. Melting ice, run-off, just like a Spring thaw, fifty-plus degrees Fahrenheit. The rise and fall of temperatures here is making me seasick.

Sound like a good chance to catch up on some of those last-minute outside chores before the next snowfall. But not so fast! The snow may come before I even wake up in the morning. Sigh.

Anyway, I do have a lot of pictures to post and I will start putting them up in the morning. Assuming that we still have power.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dark and Icy

When we left the house around noon to bring Danny down to Chuck E. Cheese's for his birthday party, the power had been out for nearly 36 hours. We camped out last night in the living room to take advantage of the heat from the wood stove. Without electricity we have also been without any other source of heat and without running water. As I write this, we're still at the Seacoast and have no way of knowing if the house is still dark.

The ice storm that started all of this arrived as freezing rain on Thursday afternoon. By the end of the night the trees, power lines, and power poles were so coated with heavy ice that they started breaking and falling, and by morning more than 250,000 customers of Public Service of New Hampshire were without power.

The sheer scope of this ice storm is amazing enough, but it comes on the heels of a disorienting roller-coaster ride of weather, and even during the course of the storm the changes have been startling. After living with ice-covered trees all Friday morning, we watched as the sun came out in the early afternoon and the ice started shedding. It came down as if the trees were raining, and there were rivers of water running down the trunks. Although sheltered areas still have ice-covered trees, the trees on our property are now completely dry.

The trees along the road that are still covered with ice made a lovely light show in this morning's sun, without the spectacular shedding, because this morning the temperature was in the teens instead of the thirties. The storm has been very inconvenient, but still fascinating.

But if the power outage part of the story is over when we get home tonight, I won't complain.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Danny' Six!

Yesterday was Daniel's 6th birthday. Since Karen had to work from noon to nine, we had a celebratory breakfast, during which Danny got to open his gifts from the immediate family. No cake for breakfast, so that had to wait for dinner, and Karen had to wait until quite late to partake. Such is life with a Mom who works in retail.

Danny had a fun day, though; he got to spend a lot of time playing with toys and watching movies that he got to choose, while Dad added joists and most of the treads to our temporary staircase in the new house (I'd have finished the treads, but I ran out of light).

Today it has been snowing, though not much. Sunshine tomorrow would seems to promise some clearing of the snow, except that the high temperature for the day is supposed to be around 19. Degrees Fahrenheit. Brr. But the snow is dry enough to sweep off my steps, and I can add the rest of the treads and the rails in the cold. If I have to. Sigh. Oddly enough, we're expecting rain and temperatures in the 40s later in the week. It has been a strange Autumn.

But whatever the weather, we continue to plug away at finishing the house. Soon, maybe even before Christmas if we can solve a few minor problems, we will have a new address.

Well, a new street address. Wherever we go you'll still be able to find us at

Sunday, November 30, 2008

White Stuff

It's snowing. It's supposed to turn over to rain late tonight, with rain throughout the day tomorrow, and sun for most of the days to come for the next week or more. But right now there's almost an inch of snow on the ground, and it's a bit depressing.

Not that snow by the end of November is unprecedented, even in my limited experience in New Hampshire. But we are already struggling to get the house finished, and although most of the work to be done is indoors, once we get our occupancy permit, we still have to deal with the matter of moving a house full of stuff into another house. Doing that in the snow does not strike me as a fun thing to do.

I am celebrating one thing, though. Tomorrow the kids are going back to school. I need the break!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Long Week

A chance to sit down for awhile to blog and update photos (I'm good for the next five days on photos) after a very busy week, made busier by the fact that the boys had the week off school. In addition to the Thanksgiving holiday, the school scheduled parent-teacher conferences on Monday and Tuesday, and decided to make Wednesday a day off (which they have to make up somewhere), ostensibly in order to save energy. I don't know about the school. but I certainly didn't save any energy this week.

After getting working plugs in the house a week ago Friday, I spent time Monday getting overhead light to most of the first floor. It's just bare-bulb sockets until I get the primer up on the ceilings, but it makes a huge difference.

But the main thrust here at home has been clearing out our storage unit and moving its contents into the new house. I expect to finish that in the morning, with Tom's help, as we still have a small refrigerator and a tall bookcase to move, along with a couple of smaller things I can handle myself after Tom goes to work.

Tom's working two jobs now, sometimes on the same day. He doesn't seem to mind, and it sure helps his budget. Keeps him busy, too.

Thursday and Friday were travel days down to New Jersey to visit with family for the holiday. It was a lot of driving (though not too bad because we avoided the Wednesday and Sunday night rushes), but it was a lovely visit and well worth the trip.

We went to a couple of craft events in town today with Danny and William, a craft sale a the high school, and a craft-making celebration at the Children's Center, where the boys made several different holiday craft projects, some of which I can't tell you about because they're surprises!

Monday the kids will be back in school. so I'll have more time to get things done. It will be raining Monday, so I plan a lot of indoor electrical work and some research (I have to find a fire-retardant vapor barrier for the top floor ceiling; I know who makes it, I just can't find someone to sell it to me).

Tuesday I'm expecting sunshine, which makes it a perfect day to assemble my temporary stairs. And Wednesday we get propane installed and delivered for the one propane heater in the house so far. Also on the list for this week is taping the under-stair area in the basement and cutting into the siding for mounting electrical equipment (outlets and a porch light). That one makes me nervous; I just got the siding finished a few weeks ago and I don't want to mess it up. A relatively short list of things to do and then we can start moving in. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

That's a Wrap!

Tonight, playing to our fifth consecutive sold-out house (out of only six performances), we performed Oklahoma! for the last time. The Village Players theater will go dark until the Spring, and I go back to real life.

I have, of course, a lot of real life to go back to, and I could sure use the time I was spending performing, rehearsing, and practicing at home, not to mention the sleep I lost because I was dreaming in lyrics from the show (something that, oddly, never happened to me for either Forum or Pajama Game).

But as always, I'm already experiencing post-show let-down, and I think even more this time. It was a great show, with a wonderful cast and crew made up of familiar as well as new faces, and I've so much enjoyed working with every one of them. I wish that I could do this for a living, but, alas, that isn't in the cards, at least not the way my life is now.

So it's back to house building and house selling and job searching. But right now it's off to bed.

After I go up and shave off my moustache.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I've been going nearly flat-out since the last time I wrote. Between Okalahoma! and the new house and selling the old house and heating the old house and, well, life, there's been little time to take care of this web site or the blog that goes with it. So you get to see some pictures, as we say in the theater, reprised.

Yesterday Public Service of New Hampshire hooked up power to the new house. Nervously (for although I've done a fair amount of wiring, this is the first time I've done an entire house myself), I switched on the disconnect. Then the master breakers. Then the three circuits to which I had connected outlets in the main kitchen. And everything works! Will wonders never cease?

Good thing, too, because now we can set up heaters in the house to help dry the joint compound. The weather here has been horrible, with biting winds and temperatures staying below freezing for days. I finally dug out my winter jacket, which I normally don't need until the end fo the year. It's weird. Not only wrong for the season, but just a week ago it was so hot in the theater that we had to open the backstage door to get some air. Even outside it was in the 60s!

No such luck tonight. The dressing rooms will be freezing cold, as will our costumes, which have been sitting in there since last night. I don't think I've ever looked forward to the hot lights as much.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


My apologies for letting the daily pictures recycle for a couple of days. As I mentioned in the last entry, last week was Hell Week for Oklahoma! This afternoon we wrapped up our third performance with our second sell-out crowd (and Friday came very close to a full house). Add to that the need to work on the house and prepare for showings of the old house, and, well, something's gotta give. (oh wait, that song isn't in Oklahoma! is it?)

I love full houses. They laugh more and applaud louder, and they just make they show work better. The timing, the energy, the flow, all get a big boost from a big crowd. Tonight was the best of three great shows, and I'm looking forward to doing it again next weekend.

But I'm glad I don't have to rehearse every night between now and then; it's not for nothing that it's called Hell Week.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Election Week

Election week is coming to a close. Thomas voted in his first ever election of any kind. Whether or not you are satified with the various outcomes of the various races that concern you, it's over now, and I for one am looking forward to not getting phone calls from the Republicans (Democrats) telling me that the world will come to an end if the Democrats (Replublicans) are voted into office.

And I can spend a little less time taking out the trash now that I'm not getting six or eight pieces of negative campaign materials in the mail. You know you're in trouble in an election, by the way, when most of the literature you get has an unflattering picture of the opposing candidate on the cover instead of a flattering picture of the politician you're being asked to vote for.

This morning I had a handyman take care of the only task in my electrical installation that I decided not to do myself: putting up the mast where the electrical service will come in. It involved cutting through the roof of the house and I don't trust myself with that kind of thing. Now I just need to run wire to my ground rods and I can have the electric company fire us up.

Meanwhile, Sunday is the official start of Production Week (lovingly known as Hell Week) for Oklahoma! at the Village Players Theater. We're going through that phase when we all wonder if we will be ready in time, though the last week or so has brought about amazing progress. I think it's going to be a great show, worthy of VP's thirtieth anniversary. I'm proud to be a part of it.

So, a busy schedule. But at least it's one filled with activities that are worth my time.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The World Has Changed

Thomas has a car! The car is a twenty-year old Oldsmobile Delta 88 in amazing condition with under 90,000 miles. It's comfortable, gets better mileage than my van, and, despite calling it a "granny car" (with a smile), Thomas loves it. I love it too; no more driving Tom to and from work on nights when I need the van. I get my car back! That saves me anywhere from 4 to 6 hours a week, not to mention gas and repairs.

And Tom is already enjoying the freedom of not having to ask for the car. He took a trip down to the mall with his friend Jeremy Tuesday night to get a feel for the car. Yesterday morning he took me into town to fetch my car (he'd taken my car to pick up his car while Karen and I were out and about yesterday). He looked very much at home at the wheel of his granny car.

Most of the time I'm freeing up will be spent on the house, of course. It always seems as if there is more to do on the house than can actually be done, and for long periods of time there is so little visible progress.

But now we can start seeing real changes. The siding is done, and we expect to have the sheetrock on the first floor started in a week or so (we're hiring someone for the first floor to save time, and finishing the basement and second floor ourselves, fools that we are). I'm buttoning up the last couple of things I need to do to get the electric company to hook us up, and hanging beadboard sheets in the first floor kitchen this week. And hanging doors for the first time in my life. There have been a lot of firsts for me on this house, and there will be many more.

The cold is coming early this year. There have been several nights below freezing and a couple of predictions of snow, though no accurate ones yet (well, okay, we got a few flakes, but nothing like parts of New York got). I'm looking forward to moving into a house that's easy to heat; even before the walls are up, you can tell that the house hold its temperature very well.

Now we just have to get into the new house. We'll keep you up to date.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our New Shutterbug

WIlliam had a blast this evening using his new digital camera. Shooting everything from the pumpkins he and Daniel decorated, to the cat, me, and Jeremy, William took 100 photographs in a single night. It's a lot different than when I got my first camera.

I think I was also about eight, but the camera was my mother's Kodak Duoflex II, a simple twin-lens reflex camera with a single-element fixed-focus lens. It used roll film with twelve exposures per roll, and took remarkably sharp pictures.

What I remember so well from that time, though, is my mother telling me to be very selective about what I took pictures of, and no wonder. The cost of film and processing added up very quickly. Even later, when I learned to process and print my own pictures, photography was a very expensive hobby.

Now I'm happy that I can tell my son to shoot as many pictures as he wants, of anything that interests him, no matter how silly it might seem, no matter whether or not he is sure he can get a good shot. Just keep shooting and shooting. There is almost no additonal expense; just a little room on my hard drive.

And as you will see in the days and months ahead, letting him run wild with his imagination, though it will produce a lot of pictures destined for the Trash folder, will also produce some gems from a perspective I could never duplicate. I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday William!

William turned eight today. I can hardly believe it. Eight years since I looked into those deep blue eyes that I just knew would turn out brown just like his mother's. Eight years since I watched him trying to take it all in. Eight years since I left him and Karen at the hospital to make sure that all was well with Grandma Pat and Thomas, and noticed on the way home for the first time that there was a full moon. And realized that it was Friday the 13th. Since then, I think, I have considered Friday the 13th to be an exceptionally lucky day.

To celebrate, we pulled William and Daniel out of school just a bit early (they were originally supposed to have the day off for Columbus...uh Discovery Day, but now we have a day in November called Energy Day instead and, well, it's a very long story), had dinner at Hart's Turkey Farm and played for a couple of hours at Funspot.

William got a board game called Othello from Thomas (which he actually got last night so that he and Thomas could play the game; Tom works most nights), an Air Hog radio controlled helicopter from Daniel, and a digital camera from us. William's been using our cameras and taking wonderful pictures, so we decided he needed one of his own. I hope to be posting a lot of them to the Web site from now on (a picture of Karen,. in fact, is tomorrow's daily picture).

Daniel and William fell asleep on the way home from Funspot, after declaring it his "best birthday ever." He and Daniel are now upstairs dreaming while the adults in the house try to wind down for the night. Tomorrow it's back to the regular old routine. Except that now it includes an eight-year-old.

I just can't get over it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

We Just Keep Going

Daniel has an interesting way with words, an an amazing imagination. Last week he told the teacher in his daycare classroom that he thought they should change the nickname of the room from "The Snowy Owls" to "The Snowy Pouncing Kittens of Doom."

We laughed about that for days. I think perhaps I should start a new section of the Web site called "Dannyisms." What do you think?

Not that it's going to happen very soon. Things are, well, just a little busy at the moment. Let's take the last two days. Yesterday we had a showing of the old house to a potential buyer, and so we spent Saturday night and yesterday morning getting the house prepared, not only cleaning, but trying to catch up on a couple of repair jobs.

After the showing we worked in the new house moving things out of the way for the arrival of sheetrock this morning. Until dinner time, after which I was off to rehearsal. Dancing this time, just what I needed after moving heavy boxes around all day. All well, the show must go on.

And the madness. This morning, I drove Thomas off to see a car, which we took to our mechanic to check over. Unfortunately, the mechanic found too many problems with the car, and so Tom won't be buying that one. Back to square one.

And back home to 70 sheets of sheetrock in our driveway, waiting to be taken into the house. That's where the teenagers come in! They took the sheetrock into the house while I made a minor modification to our stairwell wall. When they were done, I started hanging the sheetrock. I think I'll know what I'm doing by the time I'm done.

Inbetween all of this, of course, are the myriad little chores that are part of being an adult with children--daycare, homework, meals, bills, and the like. Sleep. Maybe. Kind of hard to sleep sometimes; my mind is racing much of the time. A combination of having too many things on my plate and not actually knowing how to do a lot of them.

But for the most part, I'm figuring it out.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The House, As Usual

The weather, having giving us a break for so long, is being nasty again. It's raining today, it rained yesterday, and rain is predicted until Wednesday, when we get a one-day break followed by another three or four days of rain. We're trying to get some of our drywall delivered during the short break in the rain so that we can get started on the basement.

Affordable siding options still elude us, but we are hot on the trail. Other than that it's just all the little things that need to be done to get us into the new house and out of this one.

I'm learning much more than I want to about carpentry; we can't afford to have anyone square up the exterior doors or hang the interior doors, so I get elected. I also have to put up missing straps and nailers for the drywall and modify and install a door frame that was never finished.

When we finally get to move into the house, it won't really be finished. I expect we'll have a liveable basement and first floor, but the top floor will have to wait. And even when we can live on all three floors, there will be a lot of work to do fixing problems. A lot of those we paid to build this house let us down in one way or another.

The electrical work, at least, seems to be first-rate, for which I will be forever grateful to my brother, who has been my electrician's help desk for these many months while I struggled through this.

There are other things going on at the Brooks household, of course, but it's the house that dominates our thoughts and activities these days. Perhaps soon it will be over, at least to the point where I can write about more interesting things in this blog.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Autumn is upon us, and with every little nighttime chill and every colorful leaf I am reminded that the new house is still not done. We still have to get the siding finished, the drywall hung, and the decks put on, plus all the normal buttoning up of electrical and plumbing. Oh yes, and heating (I recall as another chill hits me).

Siding is the biggest issue. I can't do that on my own, and everybody we've had look at the job wants to start from scratch, which we cannot afford. I can hang drywall with some help from my young, healthy eldest son. I can finish the electrical on my own with no problem. I'm already beginning work on the decking. And the amount of money involved in the plumbing and heating is withing our budget.

So, if we solve the siding issue, I will be able to write more opimistically about a move-in date for the new house. Right now the less than 150-foot move from our front door to the new house's back door seems a long way into the future.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gray Day

The weather today was gray. Not rainy, just a little nippy and cloudy. But something else is gray, and has been for quite awhile, but it never affected me as much as it did today.

What's gray is my mustache, which I am growing out for a small role in The Village Players' upcoming production of Oklahoma! My mustache and beard have been coming in mostly gray for many years now, and it makes me look a little older, or at least more like my actual age.

But today, as I checked out at the grocery store, with a teen girl at the register, I had something of a shock. I watched her ring up the purchase, saw the amount, and reached into my wallet. But when I looked up again. the total on the screen was slightly less. I paid accordingly. And then when I got out to the car it struck me that, today being Tuesday, I was being given our local market's Tuesday discount. For seniors.

I am not actually old enough for the discount, which kicks in at 55, I believe, but I doubt whether the young lady at the register could tell my age that accurately. But it does give one pause. When I auditioned for the play, the director had me read for the part of Jud Fry, the villian. I thought I gave a good reading, and I still think so. But I didn't get the part, probably because Jud is supposed to be quite a bit younger than me. Ouch.

It turns out that it's just as well that I didn't get a part that big; the new house, the old house, two young boys in school, and one adult child who is relying on me (or at least my car, it varies with Karen's schedule) for transportation to work, has left me with little time for studying lines and lyrics.

Or, unfortunately, writing long blog entries. Until next time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I can't even begin to tell you what's going on here without being confusing, depressing, or both, and I don't like either option on this Web site. Don't look for much on house updates once the insulation is in, expect for the occasional update on my own work; we hit a snag with siding, which is a long story and unlikely to have a happy ending for anyone. We'll solve the problem, but it will take even more time.

Transportation is something of a nightmare, with three drivers sharing two cars. Only two are working regular jobs, but the third (that's me) still needs wheels to pick up kids after school, and so I end up driving either Tom or Karen to and from work most days. And whichever one I take, it takes about two hours out of my day.

Fortunately, I expect a third car, a Jeep, to be available for Tom within a week or so. Which is good, because I need to get back to gainful employment, since I'm not contributing enough to the house construction to justify the lost wages. There are things I can do here and there on electrical work even before the drywall goes up, but nothing that will substantially speed up the completion of the house, and nothing I can't just do on my days off.

William and Daniel are settling into school, which is about the only part of our family life that even pretends to be routine. Karen's hours are crazy as always, I have a fairly intense rehearsal schedule coming up (although I'm playing a small role in Oklahoma! and I can probably miss a night here and there without doing any damage), and Thomas works evenings. I spend almost as much time driving as I did when I was working at NPC. Trying not to go back to that; it's just too far away.

Anyway, it's time for me to sit down and do the annual paperwork for school. Health cards, permission slips, volunteer forms, acknowledgments of receipt of the various and sundry rules and regulations. Apparently it is just not possible for anything to be straightforward or simple anymore. Good night.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

School Days

Today Daniel went to visit his new teacher and his new classroom. He starts kindergarten on Tuesday. Finally my last child is in school, just months after my first child graduated. Strange feeling.

Daniel got to go on a bus ride, though it wasn't his first; he's been riding to field trips with the Wolfeboro Children's Center for a couple of years now.

Otherwise it was a mostly unproductive day. Karen and I had breakfast with Thomas and Julia, waited in the library for the kindergarten open house, took Karen's car in for repairs, and had an early dinner in town with the boys at the park. I did get to pull a little bit of video, phone, and data cable, but that was about it. And we're heading north for the day tomorrow, so getting things done will have to be left to the weekend. Fortunately, getting ready for the insulation won't be that hard; just need to get the low-voltage wire pulled, caulk the windows, attach some missing hurricane clips to the rafters, and make sure the outer wall are clear of tools and other clutter.

Last night was very frustrating. Just as Karen was settling down to relax in front of the TV, and I was washing dishes, copying some discs, and transferring some of my old videotapes to DVD, the power went out. Apparently there was a "pole accident" on Route 16, some fifteen miles away. But from that point in Milton, there is only one line the runs through Middleton and Brookfield to us. So much for multitasking. We spent the remaining time reading (I was studying my lines for Oklahoma!), which was nice but not what we wanted from the evening. The lights came on about 11:30, just as we were really getting to sleep. Figures.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Keeping Busy, Oh Yeah!

Two crazy days, mostly spent getting ready for a rough electrical inspection that I thought was going to be today (but will actually be on Thursday morning), but also holding a garage sale, looking after children, and, oh yeah, auditioning for a play.

The Village Players is doing "Oklahoma!" this fall, and since I am going to be here instead of in California, I decided to get back on the stage, doing whatever the director thinks I should be doing up there. Probably acting and singing. You know, because it's a musical. Might even be a little dancing, although the director of this play was the choreographer on "The Pajama Game" and I know how hard she had to work just teaching me to do the old soft shoe. So maybe not so much dancing.

Having the inspection later will let me slow down a little and be more careful, although I'm planning to have it all pretty much done by tomorrow so that I can move on to other things, including my low-voltage wiring (telephone, cable, data, and such) which I have yet to start.

The garage sale wasn't a huge success, but it really didn't matter because we had it up at the new house and we got a lot of work done while we were there. And the boys managed to sell a few toys, part of an effort to reduce the amount of stuff we have before we try to move. We managed to get rid of a few bulky items as well, and on that score the sale was worth the effort.

We're finally getting a bit a swimming weather after weeks and weeks of rain and relatively low temperatures, so the boys have been in the water several times in the last few days. According to current predictions, they should have a lot of chances to swim before the end of this summer, which will be the last that they have their own private beach. But we'll still have access to the pond, and there are lots of great public beaches on the local lakes.

And now I need to start getting ready for bed, because from head to toe I am one massive ache. I think that this will be the last house I wire, because it just hurts too much. But I am proud to say (before the inspection anyway), that every single wire in this house was pulled and tied together by these very, very tired old hands.

Even if I never want to do it again, I consider it quite an accomplishment.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Journey South

Blogging from New Jersey, using Karen's computer because mine, with its older wireless card, cannot connect to Alan and Sharon's wireless network. It's a bit of an adaptation, and I apologize to anyone who saw yesterday's picture without its caption, a technical glitch I won't bore you with.

We went down to Adventure Aquarium in Camden. The weather was quite nasty when we started, with lightning bolts directly overhead. But down in Camden it stayed nice the whole time we were there, and although we were inside most of the time, we were able to get outside for lunch and to see the seals and penguins. The kids even got a chance to play outside a little when we got back to Stewartsville.

I spent a lot of my lunchtime looking across the river at Philadelphia with it's spectacular skyline and amazing history. I don't live so far away, but I have never come for a visit. I could say the same for Boston, only two hours away; I have hardly seen the place. I need to get around more.

At any rate, the kids had a good time at the Aquarium, and I'm pretty tired out. The late hour is because I've been working on updating Karen's computer, something I can't do on my dial-up connection at home, and something I never have time to do at the local library. So it's worth losing a little sleep to get it done here.

But it really is time for bed; Karen has fallen asleep in front of The Olympics (swimming, I think) and I have to get her safely to our room, where the boys are already sound asleep. In the morning we head for home, and there is a lot to do after we get there.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Driving Me Mad

The world may never be the same. Thomas has a driver's license! After many false starts (due to the incompetence of our Motor Vehicle department when it comes to communication), Thomas finally had his road test today, having passed his written test about three weeks ago.

He had to take the test in the pouring rain, but he passed handily and went off on his first solo drive this evening, once I had made sure that the insurance arrangements were in order.

I'm happy to report that he came back alive.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Yesterday we had a power outage caused by a tree snapping and falling across the power lines (and the phone lines and the cable lines). Thomas actually heard the tree fall and the transformer blow. We were out for about four hours; it's easier to fix the power lines when someone can actually tell you where they are broken. We had a lot of time on our hands, and so while the boys played at the beach and in town at the park, I shot a lot of video, and made it into a short movie which I have posted on YouTube (see the YouTube link below). I also posted some of the stills on our Picasa page, although as I write this they don't have captions. Perhaps tomorrow morning.

Tonight I had a date with my wife. We went to dinner and to see the Village Players production of "On Golden Pond." Any night with Karen is special, but seeing my old stage-mates at work made it doubly so. We may be staying around long enough for me to be in the fall musical, "Oklahoma," if I can work in the rehearsal schedule as we prepare to switch houses and all. Assuming I get a part (although there usually aren't enough men auditioning, so there's a good chance there will be something I can do).

You might think I'm crazy taking on a play with all that I have going on, but once I'm figured out how to balance the rehearsal schedule against Karen's work schedule (and now Tom's), doing a play is actually fairly low-impact for what I get out of it.

Meanwhile, I am coming very close to finishing the rough electrical at the house, just a few days now before I can call for inspection. Then, I hope, things will go like gangbusters. Once the siding is done, the rest of the work takes place in the house and is fairly immune to the problems of weather that have been plaguing this project almost from the start.

But I shouldn't complain; others have faired much worse. Last week the area was hit by a tornado and many lost all or part of their houses, and one woman died. We're just behind schedule, that's all.

We can live with that.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Plugging Along

A long time since my last entry, and not because the is nothing to report. Karen and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on the 9th with a low-key but quite delightful dinner at one of out favorite local restaurants, East of Suez. After twenty years of marriage, I still get excited whenever I get to have a date with my wife. Life is good.

We went down to New Jersey last weekend. Alan, Sharon, John, Diane, and the whole New Jersey gang threw a graduation party for Thomas, and, as you can see by the pictures, it was a good time for everyone. Even Danny, who was feeling a little under the weather, had fun swimming and running around.

I've been making progress on the house since we got back, and the siding is finally going up, but everything is moving much more slowly than we had anticipated, which may prompt some changes in out plans. We're still committed to going out to California for awhile, but it may have to begin later in the year. That's okay; there's lots to do and we'll be more prepared for the trip later anyway.

Meanwhile, life goes on at Shaw's Pond. William had swimming lessons again this year, and he's doing great. He's also making wonderful progress in his reading. Danny's getting ready to go into kindergarten, learning to recognize letters and write and count. Thomas is settling into his job at The Strawberry Patch. one of the better places to eat breakfast or lunch in Wolfeboro--ever tried a strawberry omelette? Magnificent.

Karen is doing just fine at Lowes, and I'll be back on the job market as soon as the house is done and ready to move into. I'm trying to avoid going back to work in Portsmouth; the commute takes too much of my time and money each week, and we already have to work out transportation issues now that Tom is working.

Thomas almost has his driver's license. He passed the written test, but he wasn't able to take the road test because the local DMV office didn't have anyone available to test him, and won't until July 31st (they didn't mention this ahead of time, naturally)! We're going to try a different office but Tom's work schedule makes it tricky. Soon, though!

Weather was nasty today, with high winds and thundershowers just when I was getting down to work in the basement. I had to turn on work lights at 5:30 in the afternoon. Apparently they had some minor tornado activity to the north; knocked down some tress and took out the power in parts of Wolfeboro and Ossipee. We got lucky here; usually it's out power that goes out. Maybe I shouldn't say anything. Oh well, at least no one in this house needs to get up early in the morning.

Monday, July 07, 2008

A New Look

Well, the new version of the site is up, warts and all. I will be removing all those warts little by little over the course of, well, the rest of my life, probably, but the major ones will be excised over the course of the next week.

Using Picasa to organize our albums means that I can upload a bunch of pictures when I get anywhere by a high-speed connection, and then worry about organizing and adding captions to them later. Only four of the nine old galleries have been moved over, and the captions haven't been copied for three of those, but I only started the galleries on Saturday, so I'm not doing so badly.

Videos go on YouTube (of course), but I haven't figured out how to get the best quality out of the Flash video that they ultimately encode to, so I'll probably have access to higher-quality video for download on this site soon.

Buttons on the bottom that don't work are just not activated yet; think of them as little promises. Feel free to come back and explore often; I hope you'll find new little gems popping up all over the place.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

High Wiring Act

Taking a bit of a break from wiring today, though I'll be up at the house in the last hour or so of daylight to get a little done for the day, mostly things not involving drilling or sawing, which require the laying out of 150 feet of extension cord, too time-consuming for a mere hour's work. Yesterday I was up on the high ladder hanging the boxes for ceiling fans. On the top story, they are about 14 feet off the ground, which is a bit high for my tastes, but I managed to get through it, only to find out I had done it wrong. I won't go into the details, not because they are technical and boring, but because they are extrememely embarrassing.

So tomorrow morning, when Karen is around to hear me scream if I should fall off the ladder, I have to go up and redo those two ceiling fan boxes. Fortunately, I figured out my mistake in the middle of doing the second box, and did the remaining three the right way. Of course, none of those was on a cathedral ceiling. That's what I get for trying to do the hardest part first and get it over with.

Today I decided to spend more time with the boys. We went in to town so they could play at the park while we waited for Tom to get off work, then we made a short visit to the local craft fair for some fried dough and water

I also decided to get a little groundwork done on the new version of the Web site. It will look different, though at Karen's request Thomas will still be on the banner. If he doesn't send me pictures each month I'll grab them from video chat sessions or (if there have been none of those) I will doctor another photo with thick glasses and a handlebar moustache as a reminder to him that he is being remiss.

Today I started moving the galleries to the Google service Picasa, which I've chosen for the time being as my online picture album site. Videos will go to the ubiquitos YouTube, although I will keep copies of the best of them on my server so that you may view them in a higher-quality format. I will also be setting up a "podcast" area where you can listen to us talking about our adventures at the click of a mouse.

Since we will be on the road for a couple of weeks, we will be providing some different ways to contact us as well. And Thomas will get a page that he can update as he sees fit.

We went to see the fireworks in town, which was something of an adventure. Since we live so far north, darkness does not fall early this time of year, and the fireworks start an hour and a half past the young ones' bedtime. And we had to give a couple of people rides home, so everybody got to bed late.

And today was not a day for sleeping in! Thomas started a new jub yesterday, as the dishwasher in one of our better local restaurants, with the chance to train in the kitchen if he does a good job. The job starts at 7:30 am, and Thomas still has no license and no car, so guess who gets to take him to work. That will change by the end of the month, though.

The boys are swimming in the pond at the moment; when they are done (or I am) I'll find them something quiet to do while I help prepare for a birthday party here tonight (don't panic, family, you didn't miss someone; it's for Tom's friend Jeremy), and then head up for some minor buttoning-up work at the house.

Fortunately, Tom's workday starts a bit later tomorrow, and Karen has a later shift, so we both get to sleep in a little in the morning.

Sleep? What a concept!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Another first in my electrical experiences: I hung an outlet on a concrete wall. Not a big deal, but I had never done it before and I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing. But I never let that stop me. I also built a small wall to encase the drain plumbing that runs through a corner of the basement bedroom. I made another wall in the upstairs bathroom, but I made some mistakes that I have to find a workaround for before anyone tries to hang drywall on it. Oops!

You might have noticed that the pictures have started cycling back again. No one seems to have time to take pictures! I've asked Tom and Karen to take pictures of work on the house and boys at the beach, but everything now is rush, rush, rush! But that will ease off a little very soon. Once I get my rough electrical inspection, I have to wait for insulation and drywall before I can do any more work myself. So lots of phone calls, supervision, and decisions, but a little more time with camera in hand. And more time at the computer for updating the Web site--and getting it ready for its next incarnation for our cross-country journey.

I'm not saying exactly how the site will change when we start the trip, because I have no idea! Well, a couple of ideas maybe, but no definite plans, except that there will be more pictures (perhaps made easier for all by using a site like Flickr or Webshots) and movies (again maybe through YouTube, though I think I would like to make higher-quality versions available for download on this site).

Thomas will no longer be on the banner, just because I'll have no end of trouble getting pictures of him! But I will set up ways that he can keep us all up to date on his doings and link to them from here. And if Thomas is too busy to post anything online (or just too interested in other things), I'll pass along messages from him on my blog.

One of our goals this year is to increase our involvement in the arts. My hope is that the Web site will be a place where you can find some of the fruits of our efforts, and read about how pursuing this goal is affecting (hopefully enriching) our lives.

Monday, June 30, 2008


More rain yesterday. More on the way today. It really slows me down, not only because I don't have a ready source of light to work by, but because the boys end up spending more time inside and driving each other--and me--crazy.

The afternoon had some sunshine, but by the time I got the boys into swimsuits and got everyone to go down to the beach, and got myself back up to the house to continue working, the sky darkened, the thunder rolled, and the boys had to get out of the water. I got them in for showers, and settled down for dinner. The sky just kept getting darker and the rain started falling harder. The television reception went out (we have satellite) and the lights flickered a couple of times. By 6:30 there was no chance I was going to work any more on the house, even though in good weather I can count on good light until about 7:30. Sigh.

On top of that, we have a little--well, big actually--erosion problem. It wouldn't have been a problem had we had a little time between the time our back yard was filled and the first really heavy rain, because we could have sprouted some nice erision-resistant plants. But the heavy rains started a couple of days after, and they've been coming every two or three days since. I'm ready to break out the sandbags. Sigh!

It's not all bad news. Of the 33 circuits I had to pull for this house, I've only got seven left and four of those are for only one device. Of course, they are the ones that involve conduit, or big wires, or some other challenge, and there are still a lot of little things to button up, but I'm making real progress. Enough progress? I don't know, but it's not the end of the world if this all takes a little longer than expected. We can still make it work.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Making Progress

Today I pulled the circuit for the upstairs stove, which requires a four-conductor, six-gauge cable. The cable is about half an inch in diameter and does not like to be pulled around corners without a lot of coaxing. But I did it all by myself. In fact, except for some wire feeding from Tom and a lot of telephone help from Andy (with some behind-the-scenes input from Dad as well), I have nearly wired this house by myself. I say nearly because I am not quite finished yet and there might be one or two things I decide to call on professional help for.

This is the first house that Karen and I have designed completely on our own. It is not exactly what we wanted, but it is a very workable design that meets our needs and our budget. And we really did it together, through many iterations. You should see how many different designs are still sitting on Karen's laptop. I'm very proud of what finally came out.

Time is running short if we want to leave for California on our preferred schedule. Now that the rough electrical work is almost done, we have to line up siding, decking, and insulation labor and get the drywall up in short order. Then the plumbing and electrical have to be finished, the power hooked up (water is already hooked up; it just needs electricity), and a bit of paint and flooring put in. And then we have to move, although we are only moving about 150 feet. All this in about five weeks? Possible? I don't know. All we can do is try.

Meanwhile, summer goes on. William starts swimming lessons next week, and the boys change to a three-day schedule. Thomas will go back to work as soon as he lands a job (lots of applications out), only this time he won't be leaving or cutting back hours to go to school at the end of the summer. I won't be appearing at the Village Players for the summer show, which is not unusual; That Darn Plot was my only summer show. But I will be sitting in the audience, and that's as it should be.

The boys will be down at the beach most days, especially if the weather starts treating us better, but this will be the last summer that we have our beach. Sad, in a way, but we'll still have access to the pond next summer, and a much more affordable house.

And the summer ends with lots of adventure for everyone. There will be big changes for the whole family. I think we're all a little scared, and I think we're all very excited.

And I think it's great that you will be able to read about it here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kicking the Clouds Away

The title of this entry is also the title of a wonderful piano piece by George Gershwin, and something I'd dearly love to do. Because although the clouds we've had each day this week haven't brought much rain, they have brought a lot of darkness, making it just a little harder to see in the new house where I am trying to pull wire.

I'm doing it anyway, but it sure does get alittle dim down there in the basement, even in the late afternoon when, in the absence of the clouds, the sun would be streaming in the west windows and lighting up even the most isolated corner of the utility room.

William visited the dentist today to get a couple of small cavities filled. He needs a little work on dental hygiene, but when it comes to being a good patient, William is a champ! No complaints, no wiggling, and he followed instructions to the letter. If only any of my boys would be that way at home.

Meanwhile, at home, I'm all over the place, between one house and the other, with trips into town to leave off or pick up boys. Thomas, at least, is done with school and available to help, until he gets a job (so I'd better take advantage of him while I still can). But with it all I'm still managing to be relatively productive, certainly moreso than when I was commuting two hours a day.

And now the hour is late, and while I no longer have to arise at 5:00, with two young ones in the house I certainly don't get to do anything that a sane person would consider "sleeping in." So I had better get off to bed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Shifting Gears

I woke up this morning at around 5:00, as usual, because my body is accustomed to getting me up at that hour, despite me telling it in no uncertain terms that I do not, in fact, have to get up and go to work this morning. Of course, I do have to get up and go to work, but not at 5 a.m. and not 40 miles from home. And so I managed to go back to sleep for awhile.

A day to start getting into the swing of things. The electrical work on the new house is the first order of business, but I can't neglect the phone calls that need to be made to get people going on the construction projects I can't or don't have the time to do myself, like siding and insulation and some of the remaining rough carpentry.

The days will be busy, but that's okay with me, because it makes the time go fast, which is fine as long as I am doing the things I need to do to get out to California at the end of the summer.

Reading bedtime stories had been a part of life at the Brooks household since Thomas was six months old. Karen and and take turns reading, depending on schedule, and sometimes the boys get a story from each. But tonight the first bedtime story reader was William, who read a fairly long and difficult book called "Room On the Broom." He did a great job, and Karen and I smiled at each other many times while he was reading.

What a great way to end a night.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Today, Thomas graduated from high school, after a 13-year fight with school that started with kindergarten. I think the fact that Thomas made it with a diploma in his hand means that everybody won the fight. The weather cooperated nicely, and the speeches were short and fairly interesting, much to my delight and surprise.

Yesterday, I graduated, too. My tenure at NPC was not as long as Thomas' school career, although longer than his time in high school. Now that I am free of ten hours each day away from home, the real work begins. The days are going to be filled with activity as I finish the new house, sell the old house, prepare for the trip westward, and help Tom prepare for his journey into the world outside school. That's just the way I like it.

The outside appearance of the house hasn't changed much; the only two big changes to the exterior that will happen before we go are siding and decking, neither of which will take very long once started, and so the pictures you see will go from Tyvek to looking finished in pretty short order.

But the rough mechanicals are coming along nicely, the biggest hang-up being, well, me. Now that I'm done at NPC that should change very quickly. I'm actually going to tackle the hardest stuff first so that I know I have plenty of time to yell for help if I need it.

My list of things to do between now and the end of July is daunting, but if I break it up into manageable pieces with reasonable deadlines, I think I'll get most of it done, and certainly the most vital things. I can't sit around and do nothing, but in some ways I'm more relaxed that I've been in many years. I know I'm going to be busy, but I think I'm going to enjoy myself, too.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Tonight I played my guitar and sang in front of an audience for the first time in a year. On both occasions, this year and last, I was attending the Village Players mid-year meeting and talent show. It felt good to play in front of people again; I've done very little of that since coming to New Hampshire. I remember that in my younger days, I used to go to the open mic night at a bar in Glendale, California and sing a few songs every week. Kept me a lot sharper on the guitar than I am now, although now I think I'm a better singer and I know a lot more songs. Perhaps I can find the time to sing in public while we're back on the Left Coast.

First I'll need to spend more time playing, though. My fingers are tender from lack of practice, and my chord changes are clumsy. I'm bringing along just one guitar on the trip, a Martin Backpacker, though I will probably buy a cheap practice guitar while in California, which I will then sell before we return. I also plan to have my electronic piano with me, so that I can catch up on my piano playing and give the boys a chance to start learning.

I know I make it sound as though I will have nothing but time in California, as if I will not have to work or look after children. Obviously I will have to work full time, take care of the children, pay bills, wash clothes, and just take care of daily life.. But I wont be taking care of a big, aging house, and I won't be commuting ten hours a week. The time I save is more than enough to brush up on my talents with some daily practice.

Another hot one, actually hotter than yesterday, although it felt a little drier outside. Nothing like the heat we will experience, albeit briefly, in Central California, but a bit of a contrast from last week. It's very much like the days late in February, when the temperature actually climbs above freezing during the day. The constrast is so stark that you feel like breaking out the Hawaiian shirts.

The boys, including Thomas, got to spend some time down at the beach today. I had too many things to take care of before the show, but I'll get my chances before the summer is out.

And now off to prepare myself for another of the very few days I have left at NPC. Ten more hours of commuting to go. Hooray!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Hot Day In New Hampshire

Yesterday was cool, drizzling, and breezy. I couldn't get out to my car without my glasses collecting water droplets. Today, however, was hot and muggy. Just another New Hampshire roller coaster ride. But at least when it's hot I can take a dip in the pond, or go spend some time in the basement of the new house, which seems to stay nice and cool pretty much all the time. Easier and cheaper than getting warm when the temperature is well below freezing.

A little time, finally, to spend on blogging and Web site work, including, you'll notice, new pictures. The real surprise comes Saturday, when there is finally a new picture to replace to heavily recycled (though very cute) picture of the two little ones blowing bubbles. There just hasn't been a lot of time for taking pictures lately, but we're trying to make up for lost time now, and it's going to be a lot easier in the weeks leading up to the trip to California, since I won't be commuting to NPC. Not that I won't be busy, but I'll have a little more control over my time.

This past week I spent getting rid of a water-damaged wood floor in our current home so that it could be replaced with a carpet. The floor was ripped up last week, and I spent Tuesday evening pitching it out of the window and helping Tom load it into my van, Wednesday after work unloading it at the dump, and Thursday night until quite late hanging new drywall, so that everything would be in place for the carpet installer yesterday morning. Last night, while Karen, Thomas, and Julia attended the Kingswood High senior banquet, I took William and Daniel to McDonalds (their choice) and did a quick tech rehearsal for the annual talent show at the Village Players. The actual show is tommorow, along with the semi-annual meeting and potluck dinner.

Today we took the boys out to the park, had lunch in town, and spent a little time swimming in the pond. We also arranged to have the septic finally covered and some of the fill put in at the back of the property, as well as finishing the well work by having the pump installed. The rough plumbing is done, and I've made a lot of progress on the rough electrical, although I probably won't finish until the week after next.

I'm counting days now. Six days until I say goodbye to NPC so that I can get moving on all the preparations for the trip. Days until the trip? Not exactly sure, but I think it's a little less than 60 days. Not a lot of time for everything there is to do, but we're determined. It's time for a change.

It's also time to get this blog entry and the pictures uploaded so that I can go to bed. Sleep is something I've been all too unfamiliar with this past week. I'm going to go reacquaint myself.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Case Against Stairs

I hate stairs. Funny talk from a man who's building a two-story house with a finished basement, but the land dictated that choice. I don't like climbing stairs, and I really don't like wiring around them.

Not only do stairs create a gaping hole in the middle of the house that you have to route wires around, but they have big, thick structural assemblies that are nearly impossible to send wire through, especially considering that the wire has to be behind wall covering over its entire length.

And wire, in the course of a single circuit, does not always contain itself to one floor, so the electrician, meaning me, has to climb those stairs. A lot. I'm gaining great appreciation for ranch-style architecture.

That said, or vented, I'm very pleased with the design of the house, and I think I'll feel comfortable living there when I eventually do. Even without siding, we get compliments on the house; wait 'til they see it finished.

Of course it won't be truly finished for a long time, but it will look finished from the outside before we go.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cleaning Out the Cobwebs

I am sitting here working on Web site stuff because I realized that I had fallen behind on the daily pictures (just one day this time, thank you very much) and the blog, then noticed that the banner is now so old that it still has snow-covered trees in the background. True that Spring has been a bit slow in coming, but I don't want to give you the impression that we're all freezing here.

On the other hand, this is one of the few times when I am not jealous of the weather in California, where many members of my family are coping with a severe heat wave. I'm not sure which is worse, but I guess the end of the summer will jog my memory.

Anyway, getting back to the site, I'm working on a new banner, throwing in a picture from last weekend, and vowing to take lots of pictures tomorrow and have Karen do the same. There will be some construction and a trip to the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium. WIlliam's going to a party, but I don't know if Karen is, so there may not be pictures. On the other hand, we're planing to move a bathtub around the side of the house, which might provide more than a few comic possibilities.

I built a wall today! The plumber needed us to have the wall of the top floor shower enclosure done so he can put the feed plumbing in it. It isn't attached to the ceiling yet, because the drop ceiling we're putting in that bathroom hasn't been done, but it's braced and nice and solid. We'll see how good a job I really did when I try to hang drywall on it.

Lots happening at the house now that the weather is decent: plumbing, electrical, septic, pump installation, and siding are all in the works. I will be taking some time off work soon to speed things up. And of course, I'll keep you updated here.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A Bit Chilled

It's cold. It's May. Something is wrong with that. I've noticed, looking at, that it is not particularly cold in Burbank or Fresno, California. Really. I noticed that. We're supposed to have nice weather in the week coming up. When I'm at work. And when I don't have the time to work on the house much. New Hampshire weather is not my best friend right now.

On the other hand, some progress is being made on the house. Bathroom fixtures have been delivered, and I have given the plumber the go-ahead to put me on his schedule. We will have two or three estimates on the siding in the next few days. And although I haven't had lots of time to work on the wiring, it's actually coming along nicely, and I have most of it pretty well thought out, save for a few lights here and there that are waiting for some measurements, and the knotty problem of running wire from the panel to the meter around a nasty corner where the floor joist is very close to a concrete wall. But I'll work all that out with some family help.

Meanwhile we are all keeping busy, me with work and the house, Karen with work and the house, Thomas with school and, well, video games mostly but also looking for a job, William with school and just being a kid, and Daniel who is busy enough with just the aforementioned kid thing. We are all making preparations for the big trip, trying to figure out what we can't get along without, which is surprisingly little, and making sure that Thomas has everything he needs to get a good start in his new life as (gulp!) an adult.

It makes for a busy life, but we've had that for quite some time. But now it's a busy life that seems to have more of a sense of direction. I won't say that our planned year in California will be without difficulties, but it probably won't be any more of a struggle than the past several years have been, and it will give us a chance to reconnect with family and friends, and special places, and special activities that we have so much wanted to share with William and Daniel. When a year is over and we are ready to head back to New Hampshire, if only for awhile, I think it will be with a much better handle on who we are and where we want to go from here.

Oh good grief, I'm getting awfully serious! Must be the late hour. I'd better get to bed before I start writing a self-help book!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I can finally walk around the back of the house without having to step in snow. Ice out on the pond was in the afternoon of the 22nd. Although there are still a few stubborn plow piles at the side of the road on my way to work, winter has at last thrown in the towel.

And in the Spring, a (not so) young man's thoughts turn to construction! We can park trucks in the front of the new house. The lumber is no longer frozen to the ground. The ground itself is no longer frozen, and ditch-digging and siding installation and plumbing and electrical and insulation and drywall hanging can now commence! I'm as giddy as a puppet on a string (and doubtless dating myself with that song reference). It might as well be Spring. Oh, wait! It IS Spring!

I can tell because it's light when I go to work in the morning, and when I come home. I can tell because I am actually wearing T-shirts as outergarments instead of undergarments. I can tell because I'm not turning on a single heater anywhere in the house.

I could go on waxing ecstatic, but I have to shower off some of this Spring sweat (no, really, sweat! Well, you had to be there) and shave before bedtime, which is fast approaching. Until next time.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Now that "You Can't Take It With You" is over, I finally have some time to work on blogging and updating the site a little. New pictures, including a couple from the play, are coming tonight.

Today and Friday I'm going to spend a little time playing around with site navigation again, so that instead of you having to wait for me to set up galleries, which I never seem to get around to doing, what with plays and houses and kids and a job and all, you can find your way through a large collection of digital pictures, and even download much higher-quality versions. The same will go for movies; we don't have a lot of edited movies, but we do have quite a few movies from our digital cameras that I can upload.

The play, by the way, went very well. We had good crowds for a Spring show, and we got lots of laughs. I was very pleased with my last outing with the Village Players for a year or so.

When we were done, and the set had been taken down (which happens right after the audience goes home and before the party), I stepped out on the bare stage and looked out at the empty seats. I have been involved in seven productions with the Village players, six on the stage, and one out in the audience as director. I've entertained a lot of people and made some good friends. In "You Can't Take It With You," I shared the stage with seven performers who were also in "Dearly Departed," the play that inspired me to audition for "That Darn Plot." After that, there was no turning back. I'm going to miss it.

But I'll be back eventually. Meanwhile, there's too much to do before we head out for our extended vacation in California, another place that I miss, and that I'm very much looking forward to getting reacquainted with in the coming year. Not to mention introducing my two youngest children to some of the special people and places on the Left Coast that they know hardly anything about.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

"Little darlin', I feel that ice is slowly melting.
Little darlin', it feels like years since it's been clear."

So sang the late Beatle George Harrison, and I know exactly what he meant! Though the days are much warmer, with occasional rain, we still have several mounds of snow and ice interfering with parking and construction. And the nights are still below freezing from time to time, which makes early-morning driving something of an adventure.

We opened "You Can't Take It With You" at The Village Players Theater on Friday, to an enthusiastic crowd (which happened to include Karen). Another good crowd followed Saturday night, and so we're two for two. We have a bit of a break, with only a brush-up rehearsal Wednesday before three shows for the final weekend. WIlliam and Daniel will be attending the last show. I have a few pictures, which I will put up when I get a few moments to breathe.

I should use some of those moments to sleep, which I have not done much of recently, and so this short entry.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

An Experiment

Today I am blogging via email, another feature of Blogger. What is the advantage? I'm not exactly sure yet. though I suspect it's a bit faster from my slow connection than loading the Blogger Web site. logging in, and waiting for the dashboard page and then the new post page and then the publishing page to load as well. This way it's as fast as sending an all-text email. And I can also use it on those rare occasions when I have email access but not Web access. I could even, in theory, post entries from my cell phone, though I don't see myself doing that anytime soon.

Another thing I don't see myself doing anytime soon is working outside the houses without slogging through deep snow. Although we are finally expecting to get a long run of thawing weather, including some rain (although I hope not much because much of inland New Hampshire could have real trouble with flooding and road washouts), we still have very large piles of snow and ice to melt away. I was looking out the front window of the new house and noticing that our piles of decking are still under the snow, and they are at least three feet high. The plow pile separating the front drive from the road is at least 18 inches higher than that, so we have a ways to go before we can even dig out for work and delivery trucks.

But I think we're going to make it alright. We don't have to have the house completely finished to get our occupancy, as long as we have insulation and heat and the necessary amenities in terms of electrical and plumbing, we'll be fine. Thomas will be living in a crudely-decorated house for awhile, but he'll have all he needs to get by until we return to finish up.

When we are trying to get ready to go, the trip to California seems all too close. On the other hand, when we are at work or shoveling snow, it seems like the day may never come. We have a lot to do in a relatively short time. But we can hardly wait.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Picture This

FInally a chance to get some new pictures up. It has been a difficult week, between catching up with sleep after the Boston trip and trying to keep up on rehearsals for "You Can't Take It With You." This week coming up is Production Week, also lovingly called "Hell Week," at the end of which is opening night on the 4th, and then performances on the 5th, 11th, 12th, and 13th. And that will end my theatrical career with The Village Players. For this year, anyway.

Work on the new house has come nearly to a standstill because of the weather, but there is finally a light at the end of that snowy tunnel, with warmer days predicted after Monday for at least the following week. Not a lot of thawing, but the trend is heading in the right direction.

Meanwhile, snow or no snow, we are taking advantage of the fact that the house is watertight to use parts of it (the parts we intend to finish last) for some short-term storage so that we can get our current house ready to show. The weather has thwarted us there, too; our driveway is currently very uninviting and there is no way we can market the house until it is at least clear enough to turn around in.

But the time will come, and then all of our attention will be focused on what it takes to be able to travel west, about 16 weeks from now. At which time, I'm happy to say, I won't be writing about the snow for many months to come.

Monday, March 24, 2008


I am unbelievably tired today. After only a few hours sleep Saturday night--well, Sunday morning--we had our Easter morning at the hotel. Then Tom went back to Anime Boston for a couple of hours while the rest of us ate breakfast and the boys played in this neat little park we found.

As I mentioned Saturday night, I expected rehearsal to go long. Yup. An hour, as it turned out. So home, six hours of sleep, and then up at five for work.

So I'm off to bed.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ah, the Insanity

I am writing this from a motel room in the heart of Boston, while Karen, and William are sleeping, Danny is fighting off sleep while watching "The Sound of Music" on TV, and Thomas is at the Hynes Center attending Anime Boston. As I write he is at a big party which is expected to last until well past midnight, when I will go and pick him and a couple of his friends. Across the street, there is some kind of alarm going off at Fenway Park. At first there was a recorded announcement to the effect that everyone should please proceed immediately to the nearest exit. But there is no one to proceed to the nearest exit, as Fenway Park is currently empty.

Thomas became a legal adult yesterday, and although with Karen working late and preparations for the trip we didn't have a big party (we will have a special dinner later), he did get to spend the day with his girlfriend Julia, and he did have a rather memorable evening. You see, part of going to Anime Boston is something called "cosplay," which is short for costume play. Tom wanted to play a character with dark hair, and did not want to wear a wig. So Julia dyed his hair.

For some reason, it didn't work exactly as she expected, though she has dyed her own hair many times. When Thomas went to rinse the excess dye out, there was, shall we say, a lot of excess, and it went everywhere. Tom spent a fair amount of time last night cleaning the shower. And washing the blue-black dye off of his hands, and neck, and feet. Julia, too, had bluish hands for the rest of the night. Fortunately, she got them cleaned up in time for Anime Boston.

Driving in Boston is an adventure no one should miss. Well, actually, it's an adventure not worth having. My advice for those who plan to visit parking is to stick to public transportation and walking. Boston has a good transit system, very expensive parking, and absolutely crazy drivers. It is also a great place to walk, as long as you avoid following the crowd across the street only to discover that they've crossed against the light and walked right into traffic. The pedestrians are crazy, too.

Karen and the boys and I spent the better part of the day at the Boston Museum of Science, which I wish was easier to get to and closer to home and less expensive to park at, because it is a museum that is much too big, diverse, and interesting to take in in a day. Perhaps when we return from California we will get a membership and make a point of coming down every couple of months to explore a particular section of the museum.

Boston has the world's largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator, which they use to do a fascinating show about lightning. They create some huge sparks and teach about ways to protect yourself if you are caught in a thunderstorm, a realistic concern in the Northeast. They also have a Univac I computer, and the control panel from one of the Apollo Command Modules. Neither of those held nearly as much interest for my two youngs some as for their computer-geek, child-of-the-space-age father.

Well, the alarms have shut down at Fenway, and Daniel has finally fallen asleep. Thomas should be calling in about an hour and a half, which is about the amount of time I have left on my laptop battery. I think I will take advantage of the high-speed connection in the motel here to get a few things done online, and then transfer William, currently sleeping next to my lovely wife, into the bed with Daniel so that I can sleep with Karen for the few hours I will be asleep. Something in the night as well, the Easter Bunny needs to pay a visit to the room.

And I can't make up the sleep tomorrow night, because I have a rehearsal which I expect will run a little over, because we're running the whole show. We call this a run-through, which is also a sword-fighting term, and sometimes how we all feel on a Sunday night after three or so hours of practice.

Insanity indeed.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I'm standing backstage at The Village Players theater, waiting for my cue to go on during a rehearsal of "You Can't Take It With You." We're refining the blocking, so it may be a while before my next entrance, as we keep backing up and trying something a bit different. Mostly refinements at this stage (so to speak); with less than three weeks until we open, the show is coming together very nicely.

Of course, there is a lot of running around going on. The set is essentially done, so now the stage manager, the prop mistress, and the lighting tech are getting the lay of the land even as we rehearse.

(Brief break while I make my entrance and, ultimately, my exit.)

I'm amazed at how this is coming together. At the end of Act II, there are 13 actors on the 20-foot-wide stage. With a small amount of wrangling, the director has managed to move us into arrangements both pleasing and logical.

There are few things in New Hampshire I will miss when we are away in California. The Village Players rank very high on the list.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I find myself apologizing again for the reruns of the "latest" pictures, which of course are hardly the latest a week later. I would like to blame it on work, my rehearsal schedule, or my back injury, but the truth is, we just haven't been taking that many pictures lately. Maybe it is because of schedules, or maybe it's because the pictures from this week would look so much like the pictures from last week. Snow, ice, children in winter jackets, the cat sleeping in odd places. . .nothing is going to change much, I'm afraid, until the thaw. But I'll see what I can come up with.

My back, by the way, is feeling better; a day away from my work has helped. along with a good night's sleep on my heated mattress pad, which is always wonderful on a cold winter's night (much better than an electric blanket; won't fall off!), but especially soothing to aching muscles.

Rehearsals are going well. With a few weeks until opening, we're naturally still struggling with lines here and there, but I think this is the first play I've been in where we all seem to feel pretty confident that we'll be ready in time for the show. Of course, the reality is that we always are, but as the show approaches we're usually convinced that's we'll never make it.

Thomas turns 18 in less than a week (Yikes!). His gift this year is a trip to Anime Boston, a convention for fans of Japanese animation. We're all going to Boston to spend Saturday night. I'm not sure what the rest of the family is planning; perhaps a trip to one of the museums. I'll report when it's over.

A lot of preparation to do before we depart for our California trip in July. The biggest obstacle, from the looks of things, will be the weather, though given the way events have unfolded since our move here, I'm sure that something unexpected will come along to make things more challenging.

As if we weren't challenged enough.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Swearing Off Ice

One of the things I remember about traveling in the UK is the near impossibility of obtaining ice. A request for a glass of ice would yield odd looks--and generally a single cube. Until one day when we were driving back from Scotland and had stopped at, of all places, a Burger King in Stoke-on-Trent. After getting the single cube there I exasperatedly said, "No, ICE," indicating alevel on the cup about four inches from the bottom. The young lady, to her credit, understood immediately sayi ng, "That's right, you're American; you like ice."

Well, this American may be reconsidering his love affair with ice. I may contlnue to put it in my drinks, but when it's covering my driveway, it's an entirely dlfferent matter. This morning, in the dark (thank you, Daylight Savings Time), while swapping cars, I slipped on a patch of ice on the driveway and dropped like a sack of potatoes. I landed on my right hand, which now sports three bandages covering three deep gouges on my ring and little fingers. This to top off a back injury I got on Tuesday, which may or may not have been the result of slipping on ice.

This American is not so sure he likes ice.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Waiting for Spring

It's 10 days until the official start of spring. I'm keeping an eye on the weather to see if reality can keep up with the calendar. So far it doesn't look too wintery. But it also doesn't look too warm.

This time of year we play a game, a race between the propane and the weather. This year the weather won. We try not to fill the propane in the spring, because we use it only for heating and it costs about $500 to fill. So for the last days of winter we use electric heat. More expensive day-to-day, but it keeps us from tying up all that money for half of the year. And, of course, moving two full bottles of propane to the new house.

That project is also waiting for the end of winter. As you can see, when the warm weather comes the Brooks Bunch will be five very busy people. As opposed to now when we're all sitting around doing nothing. Hoo boy!

There is so much snow and hard-packed ice that even the sunny days, the warmer days, and the rainy days (which do not always coincide) fail to bring much relief. The driveway is still a slippery walk, the front of the new house is still inaccessible, and we still have to back the cars in every night because there's no place to turn them around.

Can you tell we're ready for spring?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Long Day

I don't really get days off anymore. Not only is there always something that needs doing, but Karen is usually working on my days off NPC.

Today we attended a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's, fun for the kids and I enjoyed talking to the other parents (though I was the only father there), but it's a very noisy and fairly exausting experience. We met Karen for dinner, which adds to the fatigue when two boys still charged up with birthday cake and adrenaline.

It's been pouring rain most of the day, which has produced surprisingly little snow melt, especially on the hard-packed ice of our driveway. Spring just can't come soon enough.

I hope you'll notice that the new banner is up, albeit about nine days late. Last month's banner has already joined the page of old banners; here today, archived tomorrow.

We'd like to send our love and best wishes to my father, current in the hospital. Although I know he doesn't use a computer, perhaps someone from my family in the area can mention that we sent him a message online.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Blogging In My Palm

I am blogging at work. At least, I'm writing my blog entry at work. We're not allowed to bring in laptops for security reasons, but personal digital assistants (PDAs) like my Palm Zire are okay. Yesterday during lunch, when I had left my script in the car, I started reviewing my calendar and it struck me: "Hey, I could do some writing!"

And so I did. Yesterday's blog entry was written on the Palm. It's not as fast as typing,but about as fast as writing by hand. But I don't have to re-type; I can transfer this text to my home computer, then copy and paste into the Blogger Web site. Handy! I'll be doing more writing this way.

William had a lot of fun at his basketball game last night. Who won? Who cares? I don't think anyone actually kept score. It really was all about getting out and playing.

Weather continues to be weird. Well above freezing when I left for work, with rain on the horizon. Not only do we have flood worries, as I mentioned yesterday, but roofs with too much snow may have to bear the extra weight of water and ice. What a winter!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Curb Appeal

Our new house has several nice features, including two open-concept kitchens and a half-story master suite/studio. But right now the feature that excites me most is one you'd never see listed in a real estate ad: a short driveway.

At our current home, there is 150 feet of asphalt that needs plowing and shoveling. At the new house, enough room for the cars, a little extra for the plow piles left by the town, and a foot path to the front door will suffice.

Of course, I don't expect to experience this advantage next winter, because I will be in California. But I am perfectly willing to let Thomas be first to take advantage of this convenience. I'm generous that way.

No snow predicted for the next 10 days, but we are expecting rain during the next couple of days, which means slush and the potential for flooding.

Oh well. It will a good test of our new basement's waterproofing.

I'm writing this while watching William warming up for basketball, his last of a season shortened by weather. At seven, though, he doesn't mind. There's been plenty of snow to play in, and that makes up for it nicely.

Yesterday the boys went swimming. No, they didn't have to break through the ice; they went to a birthday party at an indoor pool.

Right now I have to break off writing to watch the game. A tough job, etc., etc.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Broken Record

I don't often listen to the radio except to get news and weather reports. I spend my two hours of daily commute listening to books on CD or lectures from The Learning Company, both available at my local library, giving me a nearly endless supply of entertainment and enlightenment to offset the dreary necessity of 80 miles of driving, five days a week.

Tuesday, my supply ran out. Temporarily, but between Karen's work schedule and my rehearsal schedule, I didn't get to the library to get the next book before the last one finished, and so I ended up listening to the radio. Big mistake. Because one the the morning DJs had to point out the fact that this has been a record-breaking year for snow.

They've been keeping records since sometime in the 1800s, and this season's snowfall to date has beaten the record for the full year by more than a foot. And that was before yesterday's storm. And the next storm, due Saturday. I am sick of snow.

As many of you know, once Thomas has graduated high school, the rest of us are planning to come out to California to spend at least a year. The trip will be a working vacation, which will give us a chance to reconnect with friends and family on the West Coast, and take the boys around to see some of our favorite places. Of course, in the winter, it will still be possible to travel to the snow. After what we've just been through, I'm not sure I'll be interested.

I'm wearing new glasses, as is Tom. Tom loves his new, stronger prescription. I'm now wearing progressive lenses and I'm not sure yet if I like them. The optometrist says that I can trade them for good old bifocals if I decide I don't. There are definite advantages; I can use the same pair of glasses for reading, computer work, and walking around. On the other hand, you need to "follow your nose" to see things clearly. If you gaze off-axis the view is less sharp. Probably something I'll adapt to, but I'm just not sure yet.

Theater life is going well. Despite a schedule shortened by weather cancellations and late casting (still one member to go, in fact), the show is coming together very quickly, and I think when we open, in just over a month now, we'll have a pretty smooth show.

The rest of life should fall into place so easily.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Holding Our Breath

Yet more snow is predicted for tomorrow morning, through Wednesday. The Weather Channel says we'll only get about an inch of accumulation. My local station, which I admit is not all that local, being about 30 miles away in Dover, says to expect up to eight inches. I hope The Weather Channel is right.

Usually, to say you are done with winter at this time of year is a bit silly; we all know it's a bit early to say goodbye to the snow. But everyone is saying it now, because we've had so much snow, with so many rain and ice storms inbetween that did little to melt the snow, but instead created layers and piles of hard ice that can't be plowed away. We are so done with winter. I just don't know to what degree winter is done with us.

The house now has framing for three walls in the basement, along with a set of temporary stairs. The framing should all be done by the end of the week. I'm not sure what the schedule looks like after that, except that I'm hoping to pull a lot of wire this weekend.

I am back on the stage at the Village Players again. I missed the audition for "You Can't Take It With You." But with nine male roles, plus a couple of extras, not enough men showed up for the audition, so in response to a pleading email from one of my former directors, I volunteered. They didn't have to beg too hard; it's a lot of fun, and the role I'm playing doesn't involve a lot of dialogue, so I have enough time to study my lines even with all that's going on.

Meanwhile, we're just trying to get as much done as we can until the thaw finally comes. And then we'll have to hit the decks running to take advantage of the good weather. Wish us luck!

Friday, February 22, 2008


As you can tell, I've been playing around. The background image on the blog is not neccessarily what I'm going to settle on, but the method I use to put it in might get me the final look. Expect changes as I have time.

Not a lot of that, I admit, especially given the weather. Snow again today. Not much. but it all adds up. And piles up.

The slab for the basement was finally poured today. Not the contractor's fault that it took this long; weather delayed the inspection of the underground plumbing. I haven't even seen the floor yet, nor do I know when I can walk on it. But I'll lean in and take a picture tomorrow. And now that the floor is in, we will soon have framing and temporary stairs from the basement to the main floor.

Meanwhile, my legs and feet are a mess tonight. Normally I work at a desk, but this week I was the department helper (which we do on rotation); I walked around gathering work and getting it ready for the next department. On my feet all day long.

And last night I loaded some of our temporary kitchen cabinets into the van. and then Karen and Thomas and I put them in the new house. Unfortunately, the only practical way into the house right now is from the back basement door, which is down a snowy slope, through the door onto gravel (at least it was gravel last night), and up a ladder, which is all kinds of fun carrying a wall cabinet. Five. actually. And the temperature outside was 14 degrees, and probably pretty much the same inside. Crazy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lighting the Way

It's nights like this that I really appreciate anything that is powered by batteries, including my laptop computer. For, you see, the power is out at our house, thanks to the worst weather we've had all winter.

It's not very cold, and it didn't snow as much as in other storms. But it was a one-two punch, with maybe an extra kick in the behind thrown in. Overnight about five inches of snow fell, light crystaline snow that was easy to brush off the car but very difficult to drive on. By the time I got to work I was in the rain, but Karen and the boys (for school was cancelled) were still getting snow, and lots of it.

By the time the rain came to New Durham, it was falling on at least seven inches of snow, and turning it all to slush, under which was a layer of ice, and within which were deep puddles of trapped water.

At this hour, about 8:00 at night (don't go by the posting date; I will need electricity for that), Karen's car is stuck at the bottom of the driveway and mine is parked at the top. I haven't tried to lay sand yet, because there's nothing for it to sit on top of to provide traction. We'd shovel the slush, but there isn't anyplace useful to put it. So I have to hope that the temperature drops below freezing before I go to bed so I can get enough traction to move Karen's car. Then I'll probably have to get up before dark and spread sand on the ice so that Karen can get out in the morning.

Karen is reading to the boys using a gadget I picked up at the local bargain store that has come in quite handy. It's a flashlight that uses two super-bright LEDs as bulbs, and a capacitor that get's charged when you squeeze a handle on the side. I keep it with me in the car; in the cold weather around here you can never count on batteries.

Candles on the mantle and bathroom sink and flashlights pointed at the ceiling are our other sources of light tonight, until, according to the electric company's prediction, about 11:00, or about the time I go to bed most nights.

I will probably go to bed earlier tonight, depending on how many times I think I'll have to get up in the night to replace flashlight batteries and turn off lights when the power comes back on. It might also depend on how long my laptop battery lasts, although if I don't do anything more taxing than writing, it will last a lot longer than I will.

And I just remembered that I do have the current dial-up number for online service and a working phone line, so I can post this from my laptop. Gotta love that battery power, at least while it lasts.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Oh, Just Stop!

It's been snowing. Again. Who would have thought there would be so many variations on snow? Right now it's the little ice balls that pack so hard it makes it hard to shovel. Earlier today and further south it was big, fat, wet, slushy flakes. The kind of snow that I currently hate the most? All of it.

The last thing you think about when you buy a house is "Where are we going to put all of the snow?" It's not a question that comes into your mind. "Where are we going to park the cars?" "Where are we going to put all of our clothing?" "Where are we going to put that wing-back chair that my mother gave me.?" Those are the kinds of questions you ask yourself. Where to put all of the snow? Who cares, I don't own any snow.

We're running out of places to put the snow. If we want to clear the full width of our driveway, we have to pitch the snow way over the side of the hill, which isn't so easy to do when the snow pile next to the driveway is about five feet high. Thomas suggested we sould have a heated driveway, which sounds nice, but even if you could pay for it, the water has to go somewhere, and it's going to freeze solid when it gets there.

What I really need, what would really make me feel better and make my disposition sunny is a nice big dose of Spring. A California-type spring, not one like we have around here where the fist day of spring can as easily as not bring another ten inches of snow.

Well, you'll have to excuse me. I have to go make a loaf of bread for tonight's dinner.

And then I have to shovel snow. See the smile on my face? No?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

BrooksBunch Facelift, In Progress

Now that we're on the new server, I've started making some changes. Have you noticed that, when you put your cursor over the latest picture or the house status picture that there is a hot spot there? Click on it to get a bigger verion of the picture in a new window. The current version of the site is not big on elegant design; it's intended for easy addition of raw content, from old blog archives to additional picture and art galleries, to movies and full-resolution pictures for downloading. The new hosting company has given me 120 gigabytes of space. Not all of it is for (I'm planning other sites as well), but I can probably count on at least 40 gigbytes, which is half as big as my entire Mac Mini hard drive!

That means that I can put up hours of home movies and thousands of pictures from our collection that you will be able to view and download. I have finally caved in to the fact that nearly everyone who now views this site has a high-speed connection. Everyone except me, that is. Ironically, I have to copy the site to my laptop and use the wireless connection at the library to upload the content. And with our plans of spending a year in California starting this summer, I don't know if we'll be hooking it up in the new house before we go. We'll see.

Right now I'm more interested in getting the new house done than in hooking it up for the Internet. Weather has not been kind to us, delaying two different inspections and making it impossible for Tom and me to move stacks of (currently frozen) lumber out of the way so that a trench can be dug for the water pipe. And I think we're going to have to spend some of our budget on snow removal. It's getting to be just too much to do by hand.

Ah yes, snow. We're getting buried again, just coming out of a seven-inch storm and expecting another four inches tonight. And the weather mystics are vacillating over the propects for the coming week. One night they will predict a solid week of snow, and the next the forecast will show a week with no precipitation. Unfortunately, none of these predictions indicates any temperatures above freezing, much less a good snow-eating rainstorm. By the way, did Puxatawny Phil see his shadow last Saturday? I forgot to check.

Now, one caveat about this brave new Web site world: I am building one house and selling another, while working and looking after children. So for the time being, about the best you can expect is that I will keep up on the the daily pictures, write in my blog a couple of times a week, and occasionally find something else to add to the site, and perhaps even find the time to put in a link so you can actually find it. Consider it an adventure.

Adventure. There's a concept I'm all too familiar with.