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.