Thursday, December 31, 2009

That's a Wrap!

As the old year comes to a close, we always have high hopes for the year ahead. I don't know how much cause there is for optimism in 2010; there are a lot of unresolved issues facing all of us. Yet, at least as far as my little family is concerned, I think we have reason to hope that 2010 will be a better year than 2009.

This past year was a tough one for us. We barely managed to make the transition from our old house to our new house, and the new one is still under construction. I spent the last three quarters of the year trying to make up for the prior three quarters of unemployment.

I'm not saying that it's all going to suddenly be easy for us, but we're turning a corner. The house needs a lot of work, but we're in it and it's a workable living space, and so now anything we do will just make it better. Our overhead is lower (the heating bill is lower--even using electric heat!--and we have no mortgage payments), so we can begin to catch up with old bills and put some money aside. Thomas is back at work, not full time yet but working on it.

And I think we're ready to make some changes. We don't feel as much under the gun as we did in 2009, and so we can realistically begin to explore other options.

On the less-expansive front, we have some specific fun plans for 2010. I'm in a play at the Village Players this Spring, and planning to audition for every show they're doing in the coming year. We have plans to come back out to California at the end of the summer (I know, the hottest part of the year, but we have our reasons). And although some of the work on the house is going to be challenging, even annoying, we are looking forward to being able to finish and decorate the house as suits us, instead of with an eye toward selling it, something we had to take into account for nearly five years at the old house.

Of course, it will all be chronicled here at I hope your new year looks as promising.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yeah, Yeah, I Know, It's Winter

Bitterly cold today, with lots of wind. It's hard to keep the house warm (our heating system is not complete yet) and going from the house or the office to the car gets me shivering, but it's my car that's the biggest problem. At over 231,000 miles, it's getting a little old for this weather.

I have to allow extra time and gas to warm the car up in the morning or the power steering and brake pump won't work, which leaves me unable to turn or stop, a wonderful bit of GM engineering. Frankly, if I had a choice, I think I would like to be able to steer when the brakes go out or stop when the steering goes out. But I don't have an engineering degree, so what do I know?

This cold wave will be a short one. Tonight will be in the single digits (for those of you not used to the expression, that means it will be below ten degrees Fahrenheit), teens tomorrow, and back to daytimes in the thirties and nights in the twenties for at least a week.

That means reasonable temperatures, and apparently only a little snow, for New Year's Eve and the Wolfeboro First Night celebration. The Village PLayers are doing a melodrama this year and I want to try to get us a seat at the first show, if we can get there early enough.

Meanwhile, I have to get up and out early tomorrow. The temperature isn't going to climb above ten until after I'm scheduled to leave for work, so my car is going to need a lot of extra warming up. So off to bed with me!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another New Look

Well, here is yet another revision of the site. I can't resist playing around with the look, and I'm trying to learn more about Web site design and coding, and you, dear readers, are my guinea pigs.

The holiday weekend was enjoyable, but altogether too short. There's so much I'd like to be doing with my spare time, and so many other things that have to be done. Even, on occasion, a little sleep. Just a little.

The new site has more links, including one to my Wall on Facebook, and to our accounts on PicasaWeb and YouTube. I'll be adding additional links to archive pages so you can surf down memory lane if you are so inclined. But first I need to concentrate some attention on catching up the galleries and adding some long-overdue video.

But now I have to get myself together for work tomorrow, and get some of that sleep I was talking about. Duty, as they say, calls.

But some days I just want to let it go to voicemail.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Kids Have It All Wrong

I've decided that the kids are wrong about Santa Claus. William was telling me how he starts visiting homes as soon as the kids have gone to bed and manages to travel the whole world between then and when they get up in the morning. But he's missing something.

Parents don't go to bed when kids do. Especially on Christmas Eve. Especially when not all of the presents have been wrapped. Especially when none of the presents has been wrapped. You know how it goes. So the parents are up until, oh, two or three in the morning, wrapping, cleaning, preparing.

And then the kids get up at some ridiculous hour. Five o'clock, for example. This leaves St. Nick less than three hours at best to make the rounds.

And yet this morning, there they were. Presents from Santa, in a kind of paper different from all the other presents, that weren't there when we went to sleep.

Pretty neat trick.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cold Days

When we pulled up to the house tonight, the temperature was a mild 24 degrees Fahrenheit. Twenty-four degrees? Mild? Surely Mr. Brooks has lost his marbles, or perhaps they have just frozen.

No, you see, everything is relative. We have just returned home from a trip to Santa's Village, about 90 miles north of here in Jefferson, New Hampshire. When we got out of the car at 11:00 in the morning, the temperature was nine degrees. Get the picture?

And it was a little breezy. Now if you read anything concerning wind chill, you will find different formulae that all boil down to the same thing. If you take a nominal temperature of nine degrees Fahrenheit, factor in a ten mile-per-hour breeze blowing on your bare face or neck, and do some fancy calculations on those numbers, the perceived temperature is TOO DAMN COLD, plus or minus a degree or two.

Fortunately, Santa's Village has added something new to their menu. You can buy thermal mugs and fill them with hot cocoa for free all day. We know from past experience that hot chocolate is the big gun in the Jefferson survival arsenal (and to prove it, we see park employees who have to work outside, meaning most of them, guzzling it throughout the day).

Actually, this trip wasn't as bad as our first. Though the weather was better the first time, our preparations were not, as we made the mistake of predicting Jefferson's weather based on our own, since we're both in the same state and only a couple hours' drive apart. Oops! Now we know better.

It's late now and I have to get to bed. I wouldn't have stayed up this late, but I always get a bit of an adrenaline rush (not to mention a caffeine high) when I take the driving duty late at night, and it's hard to drop off to sleep. Good time to take care of things, don't you think?

But there is a busy day ahead. We have to shuffle some furniture around in our living room to make it nice for the Christmas tree, and I have a read-through tomorrow night for the next play I'm in, a farce called "Dilemmas With Dinner." Carol Bense is directing; I've worked with her on several shows now and it's always a pleasure, especially since she won't let us get away with anything but the best we can give, and I'm always glad of it.

I also get to share the stage with five people I've acted with before, one I've directed but never acted with, and another I've never worked with before at all, but who gave a great performance at the auditions. This is going to be a great show!

But now I'd better get some sleep. Didn't I already say that?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Can We Get a Do-Over?

Yesterday was the first big snow of the season, and the first snow days of the school year. And it was something of a disaster.

The snow didn't start until about 6:00 am, so getting me on the road was not too big a deal. We already knew that the kids would be off from school, so Karen stayed home with them. By the time I got about half way to work, though, it was snowing rather heavily and it took me about an hour and forty-five minutes to get to work.

But that wasn't the disastrous part; that's just winter in New England.

Tom had to go to work, too, and he's lost the charger for his cell phone. So Karen loaned him her phone on the promise that he would call when he got to work. He didn't. But he's okay.

The disaster started when Karen presented the boys with a brand new pair of plastic sleds, an early Christmas gift, and encouraged them to go out and try them. The snow wasn't very deep yet. Danny, as I understand it, was making a run when his sled turned sideways, hit a bump, and sent him flying face first into the snow, which was barely covering a very large rock.

Of course I found out about this through voice mails during my breaks--I can't take calls at work. And Karen, as I mentioned, didn't have her cell phone, and so keeping me up on the news was no small feat.

Danny ended up with a big cut under his eye, and one amazing black eye, plus five staples just above his hair line on his left side. He didn't go to school today, though he felt well enough tonight to be in the school's holiday presentation, which he performed quite well.

He's quite a guy. I just wish he's keep his face away from big solid objects. He's done this before, riding his Big Wheel riding toy into the back of my parked van.

At least I can't claim that life here is dull.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Lucky Seven!

Danny is seven years old today. We're planning a little family celebration for tonight, and then Danny will be having his party with his friends at Chuck E. Cheese's sometime later in the month. It's hard to believe that my little munchkin, who almost didn't make it here and was incredibly tiny when he did, is such a big guy now.

One of Danny's birthday presents, which is not so much fun for Dad but I'm glad he's enjoying it, is snow. A week ago we were sitting outside at Mambo's Cafe in Glendale, California, sipping cold milkshakes. This morning I got up with Karen to brush snow and scrape ice from her car before sending her off to work. Sigh.

Look for a sudden and dramatic change in the look of the site in the next day or two. I'm trying to make more available from the front page and restore access to some of the old material. THis revision is the first step.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's Cold Here!

Well, we're back home. I use the word reluctantly because, to tell the truth, I'm more comfortable in California.

Of course that could be because California was mostly warm and sunny and New Hampshire is cold! The house, with only isolated heating until tomorrow when our first bottle of propane for the season arrives, is downright frigid. Not enough to freeze the pipes, but enough to make it very hard to get myself moving to get us all ready to return to daily life here. Hard to overcome the jet lag when the temperature inside in the middle of the day is colder than it was outside last night in Burbank.

But we're here and we're safe, if a little blue. A little blue from the frosty air. And a little blue from having to leave the warmth of the West Coast.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

We Say Goodbye

A busy few days. Saturday we visited two museums in Mariposa: the California Mineral and Mining Museum and the Mariposa History Museum. Both have a lot of information on the California Gold Rush, each cost only $4 (kids are free), and it's worth taking in both during a trip to Mariposa.

Sunday was a travel day. After a stop for lunch at El Pollo Loco (great chicken you can't get in New Hampshire), we took a side trip to visit our friends Rusty and Andrea and their son Evan. We had a great talk and the boys had fun playing with Evan, but it was altogether too short.

Yesterday we had a visit with friends Sue and Brad. Their dog Penny remembers William, who stayed with them when he was just a baby. She was very excited to see him! After lunch at Mambo's Cafe, Cuban food which you also can't get in New Hampshire (notice a trend here), Karen did crafts with William and Madison at the Reisch house.

And today is our last day here. Our flight leaves late, so we have time to visit with a few more friends before we head down to the airport to return the rental car and get on the red-eye. Tomorrow is a work day for Karen, and I need to get the boys all set up for their first day back at school.

With luck we'll be able to sleep on the plane; we' weren't so lucky on the way out thanks to a very upset little girl.

But even if I sleep, and the entire trip is entirely smooth, I know that I'm going to have a bad case of post-California let-down.