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.