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.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

We've Virtually Moved

The fact that you are reading these words means that the transition has taken place, and that has a new home. You won't notice a lot of difference right away. I have a new banner which no longer has a date on it. I decided after the first montly banner that having last month's date makes the site look, well, dated. I'm still planning to update the banner monthly, with fresh pictures and an appropriate background theme, but I'm not putting anything in writing.

After what seem like weeks of nothing happening on the house (not exactly true, but that's the way it feels), this promises to be a busy week with two inspections, electrical work, and the pouring of the basement's concrete slab. The following week will see framing in the basement, more electrical work (I'm not that fast) and rough plumbing, and possibly the installation of the water pump. Whew!

All of this as the weather keeps us scratching our heads. The last storm was supposed to drop freezing rain, but mostly dropped tiny ice crystals that packed together to form a solid coating of ice a few inches thick. Annoying. On the other hand, we are expecting rain and temperatures around 40 late in the week, which may take away some of the ice for us. Crazy. February is usually the coldest month around here, but the first half, at least, promises to be quite mild.

And life, of course, goes on, with work and school and playdates and basketball practice. And meals and housework.

And sleep. Well, not so much of that.