Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Tradition

This morning, before Daniel's annual birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's, we went to our favorite tree farm in New Durham to cut this year's Christmas tree. It was snowing when we got up. No problem; we cut our tree in the snow all the time.

But by the time we left it was raining. And by the time we got to the tree farm it was pouring. But, hey, it's New England, and you can't let the weather slow you down. So off we went to cut the tree in the rain, and tie it to the top of the car in the rain, and drive it home in the rain.

Most people take great care to keep their trees fresh during the holiday season. So it seems strange that, as I write this, my tree is down in the basement drying out.

Birthday party was fun for the boys, and nice for us because we got to talk to adult friends for a couple of hours with interruptions only when the boys needed more tokens. But right after the party we had to rush home so that I could make rehearsal tonight.

It's still raining. The temperature has climbed to over 50 at this hour. The rain will go away by tomorrow night, but unfortunately so will the warm air. Sigh.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Staying Behind the Weather

The temperatures have been frigid for the last few days, so we're looking forward to some warming tomorrow and Monday. It will give me a chance to get rid of a few chunks of ice that kept me from reeling up our hose today, and pry a few things off the ground before they freeze to it again, in preparation for snow storms which are not yet on the horizon, but must eventually come to New England. The only catch: I have to do the work in the rain. Weather, as you might expect, is not my best friend right now.

Danny's been feeling a little under the weather, and Tom just informed me that he's got a cold as well, but for the most part we're all holding up very nicely, and looking forward to a holiday season at home. Karen's work schedule and my rehearsal schedule make travel pretty much impossible, but we're not so disappointed and we welcome a chance to relax a little.

I recently updated my Facebook bio, realizing that I still referred to myself as working at the Passport Center. Instead I described myself as "A juggler whose unfinished house, job search, theatrical projects, creative projects, and family projects are always up in the air." When I'm working out my schedule for the week, I sometimes think, "how could I have been crazy enough to take on directing a play at a time like this?" And then I realize that it's always a time like this.

And, of course, when I'm at the theater, watching the actors in my cast working so hard and surprising me so often and making me laugh at jokes I've already heard because they just made them funnier, then I know full well why I'm there no matter how difficult it is to find the time. It's love, pure and simple. My latest cast is no exception, and I expect that the three performances at the end of this whirlwind rehearsal process will be a fantastic way to end the year.

This blog entry will end with less spectacle, as I have to go help Karen in with some groceries.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Signs of Winter

Yesterday we took our annual trek to Jefferson, New Hampshire to visit Santa's Village, while the two younger boys are still young enough to enjoy it. They had a lot of fun, but I found it telling that neither of them complained that we didn't have time to wait in line to talk to Santa himself.
There has been very little snow here in the Lakes Region, but there was a fair amount on the ground in Jefferson, and it was snowing when we arrived and on and off for most of the time we were there. It wasn't enough to chill our enthusiasm, and it certainly wasn't the coldest trip north we've experienced, but it did remind me that winter is fast approaching and I'm not really ready for it.

I'll have a few snow-free days in the upcoming week, but as often happens, those will also be the coldest days, with highs only reaching the upper 20s. Brrr.


Last week the boys went to a craft-making fair at the children's center they attend one day a week. The contrast between the two boys was interesting. William wanted to make every project, and did so pretty much on his own while I followed Danny around to see how many things I could get him interested in. In the end Danny did pretty much all of the projects, but only after I guided him away from the many distracting toys at the center.

Today we celebrated Danny's 8th birthday, though it actually comes tomorrow. But Karen will be working until close to when the boys should be in bed tomorrow, and Thomas wouldn't have been able to make it at all. As it was, I had to duck out right after dinner for rehearsal. It's getting increasingly hard to get us all at the same place at the same time. But occasionally we get lucky.

Thomas seems to be doing okay, as well as I'd expect a bachelor out on his own for the first time to be doing, especially now when pretty much all of the work out there at entry level is part-time work I keep bugging him to write a blog about it, and I'll provide a link on our front page if he ever does.

Meanwhile I'll keep writing when I can, and trying to get you as many pictures as possible. The time may be hard to find, but at least I'm never at a loss for interesting material.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Banging My Head Against the Keyboards

I'm talking computer keyboards here, not the musical kind. The Mini wasn't fixed, after all. It seemed to work for awhile, then started getting slower and slower until it would freeze up doing the simplest tasks. Diagnosis, as far as I can tell, is that is needs a new hard drive. Oh well, I kind of wanted to expand the space anyway. But it will be awhile before I have time to install it and put everything back on it. Sigh.

So I'm writing this on the Dell PC, which is not my favorite computer in the world, but I have to do something to stay connected for job searches, Website work, and coordinating the next theatrical production.

I probably haven't mentioned it here, but I am directing this year's First Night show, Truth and Consequences. We start rehearsals this Sunday, and with only about five weeks until the show, it's going to be intense. But I have a great cast and I know it's going to be a very funny show.

Cinderella was brilliant. It's been one of my favorite musicals since Lesley Ann Warren appeared in its second television production in 1965. Our production was full of life and energy, and made our little twenty-foot-wide stage seem bigger. I was up in the lighting booth, and so I got to watch every performance.

Meanwhile, life at the Brooks Bunch household is anything but dull. Karen is managing a new schedule (which will change again soon) which keeps us on our toes, what with scouting and skating and my theater schedule, not to mention the many extra events which come up at this time of the year. Good thing I keep a planning calendar!

And, of course, the house itself is a never-ending project. I'm trying to basically start at the front door and work my way back, then up, and then finally to the basement. But something always wants to jump to the head of the line. For example, I need to dig footings for the deck and pour before the ground freezes, or wait until the thaw to start on the deck (and thaw around here can be as late as May).

And before I can start the front room, I have to install the glass door we're putting in the first floor bath because it's currently taking up space in the front room. And so it goes.

And so must I, because we're having company for Thanksgiving tomorrow and there is still work to be done, and so it might be a good idea if I got a little sleep.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Almost There

Well, I finally seem to have worked out how to get my Mac back to its old self. Well, almost. Having completely re-formatted the drive and installed the operating system afresh, I now have a like-new Mac Mini. Problem is, that I added a lot of software and settings and upgrades and updates to that over the last five years, and I have to get a lot of that back. Perhaps not all of it, but a lot of it.

And I'm not entirely trusting of the hard drive even after the formatting, so I'm considering putting a different one in before I go to all the trouble of recreating the workspace I've grown so accustomed to.

It's made me rethink what I need on my system, and fish around for alternatives so that I can get my work done while I'm waiting on the fate of the Mini.

The practical upshot of that is that I'm going to figure out how to do my Website updates (The Brooks Bunch and others) using the computers that are currently working, rather than waiting for the Mini to be the computer it once was. So stay tuned, and thanks for your patience.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Still Suffering a Mac Attack

Fixing my poor Mac Mini has been harder than I ever thought it would be. Although the hard disk does not appear to be trashed, the part of the data that tells the system where everything is located has major problems. This means that copying the old files to a backup drive is hit and miss. Mostly miss.

Fortunately, I have most of the files on an earlier backup, but I'm trying to recover some of the recent changes, which include some Website redesigns (not for TheBrooksBunch.com, but for others) and recent email and notes on the next show that I'm directing. There are also some pictures from my camera to recover.

I don't want you to think that the computer has dominated my life for the past week, though. There has been a lot going on, including the opening of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella at the Village Players. I'm handling the lighting booth, and it's my first time. For a couple of days leading up to the opening, I was worried that I wasn't going to do a good job, but dress rehearsal went well, and opening night went, well, almost perfectly (I did have two glitches, but no one in the audience noticed). We have performances tonight and tomorrow afternoon, and then we get a break for a couple of days.

Today the boys and I are joining the Cub Scouts for a rocket launch. Daniel wants to add some extra decoration to his rocket, so I need to cut this short and set him up to do that.

The Web site will be closer to normal within a few days, and more pictures will be on the way.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Un-Mac'd

The Mac Mini that I use for 90% of my computing is out of commission. It's not permanent. At least I don't think it's permanent. Anyway, I'm working tonight and tomorrow morning to try to fix the problem. Meanwhile, there won't be any updates on the Web site, although I can still write blog entries.

Email will be a bit of an issue, too. I can still send and receive email, but I won't be answering anything sent to me before this morning, since it's on the machine and I can't get to the email stored there. Yet.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Active Weekend

It was a full schedule this weekend. Starting off Saturday morning, Daniel and William and I went off with the Cub Scouts to clean up a large section of the Bridge Falls Path in Wolfeboro. A lot of scouts and parents showed up, so it took less than an hour to clean the Autumn leaves and trash from a long section of the trail. Actually, much to the credit of those who use the path, there was hardly any trash at all.

Saturday afternoon we went to see the Kingswood High production of Little Red Riding Hood and the Power Mutants, a lovely tongue-in-cheek play for the whole family, and the whole family loved it. The Kingswood students know how to put on a show.

Sunday, after Karen had made a few fixes to Halloween costumes, she went off to the theater to help paint the set for Cinderella. We met for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant and then took the boys trick-or-treating in the nearly-freezing night. While Karen took the boys home to bed, I went to the theater to do some last minute casting for the First Night show, which I'm directing, and to take care of a few little issues that are my part of Cinderella.


All in all a very busy, and theatrical, weekend. We actually ended it, more or less, early this morning when Thomas went off to orientation for his new job (a week later than expected); he's staying on in Ossipee now, so it's just the four of us, though Tom will come back to visit on a regular basis. I'll try to keep you up to date, if he does the same for me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not Winter Yet

It's snowed this morning. With an outside temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, there was no accumulation, but that doesn't change the fact that it snowed. Not a good sign.

Next week is supposed to be rainy and a little bit warmer. A little bit. It's too early for this.

On the other hand, we've been having our share of fun. Of course, I've already mentioned the campout that Karen and William went on with the Scouts. That trip was followed up immediately by William's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's, so the Sunday was a whirlwind day, not only for Karen and William but for a couple of William's guest who also came from the campsite.

But nobody was grumpy over it; everybody had a good time at the party.

The following weekend we went down to Keene the see what may be the last Pumpkin Festival. Every year thousands of people bring tens of thousands of carved pumpkins to Keene to put on display. There's food and games and crafts. And then there is the city of Keene to look at, which by itself is worth a trip down.

William and I have joined a club at his school, the Book Talk Club. Each month we all read the same book, and then we get together in groups of six to eight, adults and students, to talk about it. The students are mostly 4th through 8th grade, though we have one very precocious first grader, son of one of my fellow thespians, who is a delight to listen to. Last night was our second meeting, and our first discussion, and it was lively and jovial, and we both had a very good time.

Latest news on Thomas is that he is just about to move away from home. He's got a job in North Conway and will moving in with a friend in Ossipee, just south of Conway, starting Monday. We will of course miss Thomas around here, but it's good to see him starting to get out on his own. Maybe I can get him to blog about the experience, and if so I will supply a link on the home page.

Meanwhile, those of you who are Tom's Facebook friends will probably be hearing a lot about it.

Friday, October 08, 2010

I Left My Wife

Tonight it is just me, Thomas, and Daniel in the house. Karen and William are somewhere in the woods of central New Hampshire. Karen is the only woman there among about a dozen tween-age boys and half a dozen men. It was her idea. No, really!

It is the Weblos Scouts' camping trip, and Karen is the camper in the family, not me, so she decided to join William for the two-night campout. But she had to work today, so I brought William to the site, started the set-up of the tent, and hauled most of what we needed out of my car with a lot of help from my soon-to-be-ten-year-old son.

Karen got stuck in traffic and didn't arrive until 8:30 or so. I left them there, with a steady drizzling (and unpredicted) rain and no cell phone service. But they'll be okay. They have lots of company (it's not just the one pack that's camping, and there's an on-site district leader), and Karen is a well-seasoned camper.

I'll miss the two of them, but with the busy weekend I mentioned in the previous post, it will pass quickly. And the boys have Monday off to recover! Karen, unfortunately, does not.

I think I'd better plan something very special—and very relaxing—for my lovely lady on Sunday night.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Busy Boys

This has been a busy few days in a busy week for the boys. On Sunday we visited a mock encampment in New Durham representing a field recruiting office for the Union in the Civil War. They had tens set up and gentlemen in uniform who talked quite knowledgeably about the conditions at the camp, the food, the state of medicine, the requirements for becoming a Union soldier (essentially having at least one upper and one lower tooth so that you could tear open your powder packet to load your musket).



William was interested in the talk, though most interested in watching a young soldier whittling by the fire. Daniel was only interested in running through the open field with a friend that he met there unexpectedly. That is until it was time to visit the bake sale, which interested both of them the most.


Monday Danny had his first Cub Scout den meeting of the year, followed on Tuesday by the pack meeting. William is going to an extra den meeting tonight to get the low-down on a camping trip he's taking with Karen this weekend. Friday I will take William up to the campground to give Karen time to finish up work, and then I will be without the two of them until Sunday morning.

But it won't be boring, for Danny an I are headed to Wal-Mart on Saturday to help out with popcorn sales. (Yes, folks, it is time for the annual fund-raiser, and yes, we will be hitting you up.) I'm sure Danny and I will find some fun things to do afterwards.

And then William's birthday party is on Sunday (with his actual birthday coming up a few days later—my, how the time does pass). I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Karen is constantly bringing home software that she finds at the swap shop, a feature of some of the landfills (actually transfer stations, though where they transfer our refuse to is a mystery to me), where people can leave their discards for others to find to keep them out of the landfills.

Anyway, she picked up a disc that seemed to be some kind of educational title about "The Neighborhood," whatever that was. But inside the package was a different disc, a program called Sim Tunes. I literally had to scrub the dirt off the disc (don't tell anyone at my former employer Philips that I actually scrubbed a disc with an abrasive pad), but I got it to install. It's an old program and I had to tweak it to get it running smoothly, but I finally worked it out.

Now, in Sim Tunes, you have these little moving bugs that roam across colored dots. Each bug sounds like a different instrument, and each dot plays a different note. Sounds like something fun for the kids, right?

Well, it is, in fact. But I'm also having a ball, because I keep finding out how musically versatile this fun little program is. I've actually composed a little piece using it. Stay tuned for more.

Oh, and I'll post a link to what I've already composed as soon as I record and upload it.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Grape Things To Come

Labor Day was supposed to be one of Karen's regular days off, but she had to cover the department, and so worked for four hours, which means that today was the first day she's had off since we got back from California.




She did find the time, though, to go out and pick grapes with the boys on Monday, and so sometime this month we will be enjoying grape jelly and (my personal favorite) grape syrup. If you've never tasted concord grape syrup on pancakes, you've no idea what you're missing. Of course, until Karen decided to make it for the first time a few years ago, I didn't know either.

This has mostly been a week of trying to establish routines for school, Karen's work, and my search for income, along with the usual household chores including cooking, cleaning and, well, building. It still feels very disorganized, but it's only been about a week since the boys went back to school, so I'm probably expecting too much, too soon.

But then, if I don't come to expect it, it will probably never happen, so I think I should keep my standards high.

I actually have a date with my wife in the morning for a walk in town and breakfast out, so I'm not going to stay up too late.

But I'll do my best to keep you up to date.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Back in New Hampshire

The trip to California was hot, fun, and way too short! The theme of the trip, especially for the first five days, was "beat the heat." Air conditioning, in the houses and the rented car, and lots of water to swim in kept us going until the weekend, when the weather finally broke.

William got a chance to experience something from my childhood, though I never did more than watch, not being much of a swimmer. This waterfall, near the west end of Bass Lake, California, has been a thrill ride for good swimmers for many decades.

Daniel is still too young and inexperienced to ride, but William braved the rocks climb, the walk across the cliff, and the slide down the falls. Many times. Video coming very soon.

Even for us non-swimmers, Bass Lake provided a nice break from the heat. While the temperatures in Fresno and Oakhurst were in the hundreds, Bass Lake was breezy and below 90. We grabbed a picnic lunch at the Pines grocery store consisting of hot dogs for the boys, a burrito for Karen, a roast beef sandwich for me, and a huge fruit salad for us all.

Back down in Fresno, my sister's pool kept the boys cool and very active, which helped them get a good night's sleep after our last day in Fresno.

We also got to do a lot of visiting with my family, all of whom live in Fresno or relatively close by, although we would have loved to spend more time. It's always a rushed visit when you can only come to the state for a little over a week.

Saturday was a visiting day, Sunday a party day for Karen's birthday, and Monday, which was Karen's actual birthday, was Disneyland Day.

We had the pleasure of being joined by our young friend Madison, who not only enjoyed the park but had a lot of fun with William and Daniel, who only get to see Madison when we come out to California.

The park wasn't too crowded, so we got to go on a lot of our favorite rides, although a couple of them—the Haunted Mansion and Star Tours—were closed for either redress or renovation.

We ended up opening and closing the park, and everyone but me slept on the way back to Burbank.

On Tuesday it was time to go. We got in some more visiting time, did a little last-minute packing a shopping (including some snacks for the plane; they don't include meals anymore and the prices are outrageous).

Although the flight from west to east is shorter than the flight out, the trip seemed very long, partly because it was an overnight flight, and partly because it felt like we were going the wrong way. We slept most of the day Wednesday so that we could go back to our regular life out here by Thursday.

Another heat wave greeted us here, but that has now passed and we are starting to think about preparing for winter, even as we are just getting into the routine of a new school year, this time with the two boys going to different schools (though still on the same bus schedule). I am not returning to the National Passport Center, so my routine is, well, anything but routine as I work out how to make a living. But I don't mind; after six years it was time to move on.

Now it's time to move this online and move myself into bed. I'll post more pictures from California on PicasaWeb in the next day or two, and the promised video of William on the falls. Until then, it's good night!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tail End Of a Heat Wave

We were in Fresno and Oakhurst, California, over the past few days, and until this morning it was unbelievably hot. Triple digit hot. But not unbearably hot, because we bore it just fine and even managed to have a lot of fun. Lots of visiting, a trip down memory lane (in an air-conditioned car) as I showed the boys some of my old haunts around the mountains.

We settled around Bass Lake in the middle of Thursday after discovering that it was about fifteen degrees cooler there. Karen and the boys went swimming, and William got to slide, several times, down the stone waterfall at the west end of the lake. There are pictures and video coming, but I don't have the tools to do it from here, so they'll have to wait until I get back to New Hampshire.

Friday was a visiting day in Fresno, with lots of catching up and swapping of stories. And more swimming for the boys in the pool. The heat broke this morning, just in time for our trip back down south.

It's been an interesting trip for me. I've remembered a lot, and I've also seen a lot of changes. And, to tell the truth, I've become more than a little homesick. But I'll drag myself onto a plane at the end of it all and get back into the routine. But I'll be mentally preparing for my return to the West Coast every day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Adventures In Travel

Here we are. California. It's been a very, very long trip, and not just because of the actual traveling. The adventure started last night when, much to our surprise, the tree across the street caught on fire.

The old, dead tree had been leaning against the power pole for at least a year, but for some reason, perhaps a combination of a slight shift in position and the rain, it began smoking and smoldering yesterday afternoon. We were too busy to notice, though I did wonder as I came home from some pre-travel errands that one of the local fire trucks seemed to have parked itself on the street for no apparent reason.

After the fire truck came a work pickup from the electric company which sat in our old driveway and shone a light at the tree to keep an eye on it, presumably to contact either the fire department if it started a bigger fire, or the line crew if it snapped a line, and waited for the tree crew to arrive. By this time even we had noticed.

So here are we, trying to get ready for a trup for which we have to get out of bed at 2:00 a.m. and wondering if our alarm clocks are going to be reset in the middle of the night by a power outage.

Eventually we had the power outage, but the crew told us beforehand and it was only for five minutes while they got the tree off the line. But that pretty much did it for our plans to go to bed early.

Still, we made it to everything one time, except the car rental counter and that was only because our flight was delayed. But then, so was our car, not because of any malfeasance or incompetence on the part of the rental company, but because they were swamped. By the time we got our car and left, the line was out the door and partway around the block.

I asked the guy at the counter if this was unusual, and he said it was a little unusual. A man with a gift for understatement.

But we got the car, and hightailed it to Carl's Jr. for lunch. They hadn't fed us on the plane and we don't have Carl's Jr. in new Hampshire, so we had a double incentive to go there. After lunch--sorry Burger King but the Rodeo Cheeseburger is but a pale imitation of the original Western Bacon Cheeseburger--we took to the roads of LA, and promptly it a traffic jam on the 405.

That's when I knew for certain. I'm home.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Getting Ready to Fly!

I'm starting to get really excited about traveling out to California to see all our friends and family on the Left Coast and visit some of our favorite places. I have my packing list done, though before we actually pack anything we need to look over the list and eliminate! This idea of traveling light has never been our strong suit, but I'm bound to keep trying.

Actually it's getting to be a matter of economics with the airlines charging for checked luggage. We're not bringing any; we each have our one carry-on and one "personal bag," which is an airline euphemism for "another bag that we won't call luggage." It has to fit under the seat, however, so we will not be stuffing those very full. (Hint: if you want to do something special for us this trip, show us around, do something with us, or feed us. We don't have room to take anything else home!)

I'm still planning to put up that gallery I promised, since I haven't had time to blog about some of the fun events of the past couple of weeks. One that I don't have pictures of was a yard sale on Saturday at our day care, where we set up tables and sold some of the things we have been trying to get rid of. Well, let me clarify that. We didn't have a table because we couldn't find one, and it was the boys' stuff that we were getting rid of to get them some spending money for the trip. Actually, they made out very well, and I was proud of how well William handled making change.

By the way the second weekend of show went very well, and overall more people attended this summer show than any other since I've been with the Village Players. And they were great, boisterous crowds, too, which makes the job of acting in a comedy that much easier. A great and to the season for me, since I won't have time to be in the musical (although I running the light and sound boards).

Meanwhile there's lots to do on the house, trying to sandwich construction work between the dog days of summer and the first freeze. News about that as it happens.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Still Playing Catch-Up

Can't quite get rested after the long week leading up to opening weekend. I think I just got so exhausted, that it's going to take a few more days. Of course, work doesn't help. You might be wondering why I have not yet written about opening weekend. Is the show not going well?

In fact, the show is going better than I ever imagined, and I imagined a great show. We had two big, responsive audiences in two nights (and a small, responsive audience for dress rehearsal). My fellow cast members were hot, hot, hot! We've been getting nothing but compliments.

I haven't written because I've been busy and tired, and I have to save up some energy for the next set of shows. But before I retire for this night, I will relate a couple of funny stories from last week.

Thursday was dress rehearsal. Because the entire cast was sleep deprived, some clever soul suggested we start dress rehearsal an hour early so we could get a little extra sleep before opening night. I loved the idea, and it worked out very well. But I almost didn't make it. On my way home I stopped at a supermarket in Rochester for some groceries, and when I came out my right rear tire was flat. Now, I do have a compact spare, but I also have all-wheel drive. Can't use the compact spare unless you disable that, and I don't have the owner's manual for this car.

So I grabbed a tire pump I had been keeping in my car because all of my tires have been slowly losing air, pumped up the tire just enough to limp it over to Wal-Mart, and asked if they repaired tires. They do. But not this one. There was too much cracking around the rim. Probably when the guy who sold the car to me bought it at auction, it had been sitting on its tires for too long. So I had to buy four new tires. Not unexpected, but a little ill-timed.

Fortunately, there was no one else there and they had me in and out in about half an hour.

Then Friday, opening night, was also the day of our Employee Appreciation Party, which was held at Red Hook Brewery. No, I didn't get drunk on opening night. I don't drink. But I did get talked into karaoke. I sang "Mack the Knife," rather well I thought considering my sleep deprivation. But until you sing without any sleep, you don't realize how tiring it can be.

This story has a happy ending, too. Because no matter how tired I am when I arrive at the theater, I always come alive when I hit the stage. Especially with an audience as lively as the one that greeted us opening night.

But now I have to take a different approach to perking up. Getting some sleep.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reprise

Today's picture may look a little familiar, like something you saw, oh, a month ago. That's the way it's going to be for the rest of the week, most likely, as every night will see me at the Village Players getting ready for the opening of "Unnecessary Farce." We open Friday, and then I finally get to catch up on sleep, and a few other things, on Saturday. One more show Saturday night, and then I get three days off of theater work.

I'm thinking of posting a gallery on Picasaweb entitled "What You Missed," including pictures of Danny's latest lost tooth and a few other events I have not had the time to write about. We'll see how much of that happens, because there's a lot that I've missed, like work on the house and preparation for an upcoming trip to the West Coast.

But it all has to wait until after opening night. because up to that time, I'm flat out.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Deluge

Was out getting some things out of my car—lunch box, planning book, mail—when the first fat raindrops started. Right after I got inside with the goods and the dog, it started pouring, accompanied by bright lightning and very loud thunder, right on top of us. I was reading with Danny when the loudest part of the storm hit, and I kept telling him to speak up so I could hear him over the thunder.

Danny was funny. He wasn't scared of the thunder but he was worried that it would keep him up all night. I assured him that it would not last long. Half an hour later, it was over.

Now this is the New Hampshire I remember from a decade ago. A hot day, mixed clouds and sun, and then and intense, short storm in the afternoon or evening.

I have more stories to tell, with picture, but not any time to tell them until either tomorrow or Thursday, depending on theater happenings.

Bear with me; this show has been more difficult than many of the others, both in its complexity and my ability to keep up on it. But we'll be opening soon and then things will calm down.

A little.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Long, Hot Weekend

Last week Karen and the boys had a chance to go camping at Hamonassett Beach in Connecticut. Having work on Friday and rehearsal on Sunday, I was only able to join them for the day on Saturday, and not much of that since the round trip involved about ten hours of driving. But I had fun fishing with Danny and William and had a wonderful dinner at Fish Tales, which I think is in Madison. Pictures, unedited as of this writing, are on a new Picasaweb Gallery, which can be found from the link on the left of the main page.

This past weekend was, of course, Independence Day weekend.  Saturday was spent doing what is often done on summer weekends: taking care of the house. In this case, I was assembling our new weed trimmer (I've given up gas for electric; less power but also less noise and hassle) and trimming the weeds in the back yard.

William and I also managed to get on on the kayaks while Karen and Danny did some swimming.

Sunday was not only Independence Day but parade day in Wolfeboro. The Children's Center fielded this float, which William and Daniel rode on. Dear old Dad walked behind, taking pictures and keeping an eye on children, and not realizing just what horrible shape my body is in. The walk was only a mile and a half, but that far on the pavement gave me some charming aches in the legs this morning.

Today is a family day, although I do have some work to do on my car, which is overheating, and our grill, which has never actually been used. We had some trouble with it when we bought it and never managed to get it working before the move. But today's the day. There I go being the handyman again!

Karen and the boys went to sign up for swimming lessons this morning--for the boys, that is, Karen swims just fine--leaving me some time for this and for posting pictures. They'll be back soon, though, so I had better get back to work!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Reluctant Handyman

One of the things I really miss about my former life in California is needing only one small bit of knowledge to handle the myriad repair jobs required by home and car ownership. That is, the phone number of the nearest good repair technician. In this life, coming as it does with a lower income, the repair technician ends up being me. Last night it was recharging the refrigerant on Karen's Subaru, and discovering that I can't do the same thing on my Subaru because one of the hose connections is broken an would leak if recharged. This is the kind of thing I don't even want to know, but there you have it.

Along with how to hang sheetrock, or install a shower head, or build and install the casings and trim on windows and doors, or alleviate condensation dripping from the cold pipes in the basement, or (good grief!) building a deck, all things which are on my list of projects this summer.

Fortunately my list also includes some writing, maybe some music recording, some filmmaking, and of course a little bit of acting. It's good to know that my list of activities is not exclusively filled with jobs I'm not competent to do.

We're also planning to just spend some time having fun. Imagine that.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Almost Officially Summer

Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation had their Summer Kickoff party at Brewster Beach yesterday, and the boys and I were there. Karen, unfortunately, had to work. The boys had a good time playing the the water, and Daniel participated in the sand castle and pudding-eating contests. They both did the sack race and the three-legged race, though in the latter they made the mistake of running together, usually a mistake for brothers.

I spent a lot of time in my folding chair sitting in the shade, not being quite ready for our sudden summer weather and the bright sunshine, but enjoying watching the boys have fun (not to mention the many bikini-clad ladies on the beach).

There were hot dogs and hamburgers and chips available for lunch, and I was happy to find that they had cold Dr. Pepper for me, since I had not had the foresight to get any cold enough to bring along.

Today is, of course, Father's Day, and the way things have worked out, of course, Karen has to work, because that's the way of retail. Sigh.

But we are going to celebrate tomorrow with dinner at one of our favorite local haunts. The boys have promised to give me a gift today by keeping things simple and calm. And I believe every word of it. Right.

I think we are taking another beach trip today (it is summer vacation after all) with friends, but I will try to keep it short as I have several things to do at home and rehearsal tonight. And I promised myself an hour and a half to actually sit down and watch one of my favorite movies: Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels. I like to watch it whenever I need to be reminded of the importance of laughter.

But if I want to indulge myself thus, I need to get moving on some house projects that I won't have time for during the week, and so I sign off until next time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Water!

While I was sitting at work, Karen and the boys met up with some friends at the park and the boys had a big water fight. Water balloons, water guns, soggy sponge things to throw at each other. I stayed far away and very dry, but I at least got to see pictures. I understand there's some video. too, so maybe that will show up soon on YouTube.

Rehearsal last night worked out very well, thanks to the boys. They sat quietly and watched a movie ("The Strongest Man In the World," starring Kurt Russell) and were generally nice and quiet while I was on the stage fighting with lines and blocking.

Fortunately, I seem to be winning that fight, along with my fellow cast members who are turning this production of "Unnecessary Farce" into something we'll be truly proud of.

For tonight, however, I need to try to get some sleep. Still one more day before the weekend, which Karen, unfortunately, will spend at Lowes. But the boys and I will find some fun stuff to do on what promises to be a very summery weekend.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Busy Nights

Sunday night was the Village Players' annual talent show. I performed three songs, and then after the potluck dinner stayed on to rehearse. Karen missed the show because of work, but got to join us for dinner and take the kids home before rehearsal.

Last night we spent some time working on the basement bathroom, with me hunting down screws in the sheet rock that weren't quite in all the way, and Karen starting the taping. The bathroom is something of a challenge because the framing wasn't done quite right and we had to make some compromises. Karen is going to texture the walls to hide some of the imperfections created by the incompetent drywall hanger (that would be me).

Tonight Karen took the boys swimming while I fixed up a cold dinner of tuna sandwiches and fruit salad. We're not getting much else done tonight because we're tired and Karen has to work late tomorrow. The boys have to accompany me to the theater for the first part of my rehearsal, until Tom can bring them home.

So, to put it another way, we're on the dead run this week. But it's all to good cause, unlike many nights when we've just been playing catch-up and neither accomplishing anything nor having any fun. So far this week there's been a little time for both.

Now to find some time for sleep.

Friday, June 04, 2010

When Summer Really Begins

Okay, I know, the official start of summer is still a couple of weeks away. But when you live with two grade-school students, summer starts when summer vacation starts. And this year that day is today.

It all has to do with construction at the high school, and since the entire district has to be on the same schedule, that means that the younger kids had to give up some days off in order to get off earlier. The vacation is also longer, running 12 weeks this year. There goes the daycare budget! Ah well, we knew it was coming.

William will be going to a different school this fall. The boys have been at the same school since Danny started kindergarten, and I wonder if Danny will miss seeing his brother at recess. The two fight like, well, brothers, but they often seek each other out as playmates, too.

We have a lot of fun things planned for the summer, as well as a lot of work on the house that the boys will be helping us with. Although the vacation will be nearly two weeks longer than usual, I think it will pass quickly. I just wish I was going to spend more of it with the boys; Karen has some time off coming, but not me.

And a lot of my time will be spent doing things I don't actually know how to do. I think the next job I feel totally incompetent to do will be casing and trimming the windows.

Oh joy. More carpentry.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cool Pictures From a Tough Time

My list of things to do this week had an entry which said "PODs Ahead," which sounds like some kind of alien attack plan. But it's actually a note to get some advance Pictures Of the Day posted. As I was searching around the hard drives for some interesting materials, I ran across the first 3000 or so pictures that were taken with our very first digital camera.

There's some fun pictures in those files, and that's mostly what you'll see as the Picture's Of the Day for the next week or so. But looking through them also brought back some difficult memories.

One of the very first pictures we took with that camera was the very last picture we ever took of our beloved West Highland White terrier, Jenny. That very day she got hit by a car. That was also the same day we signed the agreement for our ill-fated lease of the Colonial Theater in Laconia.

The day after that was my birthday, and also Easter. William was so sick that he spent the whole day sitting in my lap, mostly asleep, while his big brother and his cousins hunted for Easter eggs. Danny was too young then for the hunt, being only a little over five months old, and only two months past his original due date.

By the end of that summer Brooks Cinema Corporation had collapsed. The following January I started work at the National Passport Center, and Karen worked at Dunkin' Donuts. For pretty much all of 2004, I worked from 3:30 to midnight, and she got up to go bake at Dunkin's at 3:30 in the morning.

Things are better now, but the first decade of the 21st Century has not been an easy one for The Brooks Bunch. But we did add two wonderful boys to the family, Karen got her degree in interior design, and I discovered an affinity for acting on the stage. And one thing that has not been lacking in our family these past ten years has been love.

If I have one great hope for the next decade, it's to recapture some of the creative spirit that marked our daily life at the beginning of our marriage. The spark is still there, if we can just blow it into a flame.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My New Wheels


Here it is, the new Subaru (and in this shot it actually looks new). It's actually about 13 years old and with my commute it will be passing 200,000 miles in about two weeks. It's a 1998 Subaru Legacy Outback LTD wagon, a fairly expensive car in its day, with some interesting equipment including heated seats and mirror defoggers. It's dark blue, except for the hatch which is dark green. As some point the car was in a rear-ender and the hatch was replaced.

But it runs better than the Astro van has in a couple of years, and gets at least 60% better mileage if the road trip I took with the boys is any indication.

We drive up the west side of the Lake, and then over to Ossipee for some ice cream at Bobbie Sue's, which I was afraid might not be open. Bobbie Sue's makes great ice cream, right on the premises. Danny had chocolate with a cherry on top (because they didn't have cherry vanilla today) and William had Oreo ice cream with M&Ms sprinkled on top. I had banana, which isn't like any banana ice cream you've had in the store, because it has no flavorings, just fresh bananas. (Heavy sigh of satisfaction.)

The kids wanted to stop at the Nick, the local play park, on the way home, There was a big barbeque in progress for one of the girls' lacrosse teams, and Danny and William knew many of the players from school, so they got involved in a massive game of tag. I think they'll sleep well tonight.

There are plusses and minuses to the Subaru Legacy. On the plus side... well, the plus side list starts with "it runs, it isn't falling apart, it was cheap enough to buy without borrowing," and just keeps getting longer. It's comfortable to drive, gets much better gas mileage than the Astro ever got, and the kids are comfortable riding in it, a very important item because they ride with me a lot.

Also it has an outside driver's side door handle, something which has been missing on the Astro for several months (although the routine of getting in from the passenger side, or leaning over to open the window so that I could reach through to the inside door handle made for some wonderful comedic moments).

The minuses are few, and easy to fix or live with. It has no CD player. With two hours a day of commuting and my love of recorded books on CD, this is something I'll have to remedy as soon as I can. Fortunately the radio that's there is not the original, so it should be easy to replace.

I'm also going to miss my great cupholders, my outside temperature readout (especially in the winter), and the remote-unlocking doors. But not all that much,

Overall I'm thrilled with my luck at finding a good car at such a good price. If it only lasts a year it will have been a good deal, and if I can manage to squeeze two or more, it will have been a solid bargain!

The Astro has been with us since William was a baby, and took us across the country to New Hampshire. Will I miss it? Not really. It's served it's purpose, and I no longer need a big van, and although I at times had a love/hate relationship with the van (and it's designers—don't ask), I have to admit that it certainly paid it's way for the 220,000 miles we put on it (in addition to the over 20,000 it had when we bought it in 2001).

But I'm ready for something smaller, cheaper to run, and more nimble.

Besides, it looks kind of cute sitting next to Karen's Subaru Forester wagon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Farewell, Astro

Well, in truth, I haven't said goodbye to my van yet. It's sitting where I had to leave it, somewhere along Route 11, waiting for me to find the title, make the proper phone calls, and have it towed to the junk yard.

It wouldn't start when I tried to leave work on Wednesday, and Karen had to come and rescue me (I love it when the lady rescues the knight). I managed to start it Thursday and started to limp it home. But it started making a very disturbing noise in the region of the left front wheel. On closer examination I discovered that some of the lug bolts had sheared off, and only three of five remained.

I found a place to park the van, and decided that I couldn't safely take it any farther. Today I took the day off work to shop for another car. Fortunately I found one, and I bought it, registered it, filled it with the stuff from the van so that the van can be taken away, and even got the new car put on our insurance. Busy day! Pictures of the car to follow.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Caption Confusion

I don't know why, but lately I seem to be getting the wrong caption under the Picture Of the Day, or the wrong picture in the wrong day, or something like that. The practical upshot is that you either get an old picture, or a new picture with an old caption, or an old picture with a new caption, any of which would be confusing. I know I'm confused.

Which is probably why this is happening. But I will try to do something over the weekend to lessen the confusion and fix the problem.

I should at least maintain the illusion that I know what I'm doing.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Normal Life

For the most part, we don't live anything that I would consider a "normal" life. We live in a house that is under construction, with only one shower serving five people, no flooring anywhere but the kitchen and the boys' bedroom. Karen and I work conflicting hours, and hardly spend any time together, despite the fact that after almost 22 years of marriage we actually like spending time together.

But we try to make life seem normal for the boys, and on the score we get a lot of help—from the boys. After four years of living in a house that was always for sale, never getting to decorate in their own room, not even posters and their own artwork, and having to dash off on Saturdays while someone showed their house to a buyer that was never going to buy, even living in a construction zone seems to feel fairly normal to them.

This week, in part of our attempt to make the house feel more like home, Karen and the boys started planting a vegetable garden in the front yard. We are hoping that the fence discourages the worst of the raiding critters who took away most of our pondside garden a couple of years ago. 

Dad stayed out of this save to erect the fence and set up the wood box to contain the dirt, uh, soil. Letting me touch anything that's meant to grow is a disastrous mistake.

The garden consists of broccoli, cauliflower, onions, strawberries, yukon gold potatoes, lettuce, garlic, and grapes. Might be some other good stuff in there, too, that I don't remember, but if it survives we are in for some good eating.

We also have raspberry and blackberry bushes on the property, and a pair of apple trees, although they have not blossomed this year, and may not. But we are not planning to leave this house anytime soon, so there will be time enough for apples.

Construction projects on the house are not coming along so quickly.  We though that we would get more done when we moved into the house, but the problem is that now, having moved all of our possessions into the house with us, we have to move a lot of things around anytime we want to put down flooring or put up walls or hang a ceiling. It makes everything take a lot longer.

And then there's that whole "normal" life thing, too. With our schedules, and my theater work and the boys activities, and the fact the despite the inconvenience we are at least getting by with the new house the way it is, construction kind of gets pushed farther down the list.

This summer, perhaps, that will change. Karen is taking some time off to be with the boys, and so a lot of their need to be out and about and doing, and to spend time with Karen, will be satisfied and then we can spend more of our weekends, those that Karen has off, to work on the house one room at a time.

Meanwhile we keep plugging away. Today we took the boys to the park so they could play, and we happened to meet two very good friends of theirs (and the friends' Mom, who is a good friend of ours), and everybody had even a better time than we expected.

It makes the day short, though. With the return to work looming, and a rehearsal tonight (tough show, but tons of fun), there wasn't time to work on anything in the house today.

I've been trying to rearrange my studio space so that I can get back to working on the piano and guitar, but there isn't quite enough space, because I'm still using my old computer desk, which is much too big both for the space and the computer I'm currently using.

Karen's been trying to spend more time on the computer so she can learn some new architectural design programs and get better at staying in touch with people, but it's been hard for her to find the time (and energy with her crazy schedule) to keep on.

But lest I complain too, much, I'm a lot better off than I was a year or so ago, when we were rushing to move out of the old house and didn't have time to breathe, let alone accomplish anything. If we can keep that trend going, perhaps this will be the year we finally get back on track.

And if not, we have each other. Nothing that had happened to us has changed that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Juggling

I know how to juggle. Really. I can make three balls seem to float through the air in a pattern between my hands. With some practice, I could even regain my ability to juggle hoops and clubs.

Juggling life is an entirely different matter. Perhaps it wouldn't be to hard if I had only three things to juggle. I've always been good at three. Add more, and I start to drop things.

Like this Website. I try to keep it aloft, but once in awhile I drop the ball. But I promise to try to pick it up as often as I can.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Boys' Day Out

Beautiful, sunny, warm day to start the month of May, so the boys and I decided to go out. I was going to take the bikes, but William's has a flat in front and for some reasons I can't push air through the valve. I'll have to fix that another day, though, as I couldn't bear to waste time repairing bicycles when there was such great weather to take advantage of.


I bought some Lunchables at the store and we went to the park called the "Nick." There was a soccer game in progress, so William and I watched that while we ate. Danny was watching the kids play on the equipment. But soon after lunch was over, William and Daniel and some other kids had put together their own kind of soccer game (with a big inflatable ball and lacrosse goals on another field) and that kept them busy for more than an hour.

Despite all that they had enough energy to go for a walk with me along Bridge Falls path. The boys climbed some rocks, and we walked along the path from the parking lot next to Foss Field to Route 109, next to Blacksmith Printing. Rather than turn back, I decided to turn onto Route 109 and walk past some of the buildings there. Danny noticed an old, broken-down waterwheel next to a currently vacant building (which used to house, among other things, a Moe's sandwich shop), and some broken tree stumps in the river bed behind the building.

When we got back to Back Bay, we ran across some scouting friends, and it took me awhile to pull the boys away so we could take care of grocery shopping and get home.

Tonight we are going to stay out late to see a wonderful group of young people stage Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors." Perform It! is a company of home-school students who put on a different Shakespearian production every spring. The last one I saw was "As You Like It," and I was enthralled. Also lucky enough to have since shared the stage with a couple of actors from that show.

Speaking of matters of the theater, I begin rehearsals this week on "Unnecessary Farce," It's going to be a lot of fun, partly because the play is amazingly funny, but also because the cast is made up of old friends, people I've performed with in other Village Players productions. I'm really looking forward to it.

But as for today I have lots to do before we go out, and so it's time to sign off.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More Sleep Deprivation

Today Danny had a sleep-deprived EEG, which means that he had to stay up until midnight, get up at four, and spend a couple of hours around eight having electrodes stuck to his head.

Karen got the duty on that one while I was at work, though I left early to take care of some paperwork.

To add to the excitement, they had a power outage at school today, which meant that William got out early. He spent an extra four hours in day care.

And then, when William and I were on the way home (Danny was already home with Tom, and Karen stopped to buy some groceries), I blew a tire and had to change that. Karen picked up William on her way home. Meanwhile, I discovered that my compact spare is a complete wreck from rust! I crept home with it, but the van won't be going anywhere tomorrow until I can take care of that tire.

Luckily, Tom has tomorrow off. Unluckily, it will be raining. Oh joy.

Karen and I are also sleep deprived, so that ends this entry.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Always Something

The two things I seem to have the least time for lately are writing and sleep. I had intended, now that I've changed from a row of pictures, most of which haven't changed in ages, to a single daily picture, to include the latest pictures with my blog entries so that I could more fully describe what was happening in them, and so the pictures could illustrate what the heck I was talking about in the blog.

But in the past couple of weeks I haven't had much time for blogging or for pictures. It would be easy to blame it on the play I'm in, but that's probably unfair to the play, and besides I don't want that to be true since I start rehearsals on another play in just a few weeks.

But there is a lot going on with the house, upcoming spring and (all too soon) summer vacation plans, and lots of paperwork that seems to all converge on April (taxes, yes, but lots of other things have to be submitted around the same time).

But we'll see what happens after the last show on Sunday. Perhaps with three weeks with no rehearsals and now performances, I'll manage to do a little catching up.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Neglected Blog

It's been Hell. Well, Hell Week, actually, our affectionate slang for the final week leading up to opening night, during which we rehearse intensely every night for six straight nights, followed by two nights of performances. Since life does not stop for theater, most of us don't get a lot of sleep. And so some things have to wait. Like TheBrooksBunch.com.

But opening night is done, I slept for about ten hour last night (without Karen, who is in New Jersey with the boys for Easter), and I've rested up, sort of, for the second night on the stage. That is, if you call hanging sheetrock on a ceiling resting up. But that's another story.

Since there is no performance tomorrow, only auditions for the next show, I will have the time to spend time on our long-neglected Web site, adding pictures and rearranging thing a little for your viewing pleasure.

Now, though, I need to grab a quick dinner and get myself down to the theater for another show. More tomorrow.

Lots more.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

No Teenagers!

Now that Thomas has had his 20th birthday, I no longer have any teenagers in the house, for another few years, anyway. In about five and a half years I'll have two at the same time. Yikes!

We celebrated at a restaurant in Gilford which used to be called Peking Tokyo, but is now called Taipei Osaka. Still the same management and great food, though. Thomas wanted sushi, and the boys like Chinese food, so there was something to suit everyone's tastes. In this picture, Tom is showing off his squid, which the chef actually laid on the plate in the shape of a squid!

I didn't get the chance to finish the story of the trip to the Museum of Science. We were on our way to the very last thing we were intending to do, a window where you can look in on the area where the keep the live animals. We were waiting by the elevator to go up from the basement to the first floor (from which you have to go down a flight of stairs to the basement to get to the window) when someone from the museum asked us what we were looking for, and we told him.

The gentleman motioned us to a "Staff Only" door and led us down a corridor. I thought he was showing us a shortcut. But he knocked on a door and asked the young lady who opened it if it was a good time to take a tour. And so we got to see the animals close up! Danny was thrilled! It was a great way to end a very exciting trip.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Night In the Museum

When I woke up yesterday morning, there were two gigantic spheres looming over my head in the gloom. About an hour before I went to bed, those spheres had been issuing powerful sparks that lit up the room. We were sleeping in the shadow of the world's largest air-insulated Van de Graff generator.

It was part of an overnight trip to the Museum of Science in Boston, with the Cub Scouts. The generator is the centerpiece of the museum's demonstration on lightning, and was built about 80 years ago by Robert Van de Graff himself. That was only the most spectacular of many wonderful demonstrations and hands-on activities enjoyed by the Scouts between 7:00 Friday night and 11:00 Saturday morning.

We all started out with a show on forensic science, and scientific observation in general, and then we split into groups for hands-on workshops. Danny and I went to a demonstration of optical illusions, a favorite topic of mine. After that we were free to explore the museum for awhile, get a snack (Oreo Dippin' Dots), and choose other hands-on workshops. Danny wanted to do electric circuits, though he got sidetracked with so many of the displays that he didn't get to do much with electricity before it was time to go see the live animals, something he was even more interested in.


Danny met a white ferret, a frog, and a lizard before it was time to go off to see the Lighting show, and then go to bed.

Bedtime wasn't until midnight, and wake-up call was 6:45, so there wasn't a lot of sleeping involved. After we went to our cars to stow our gear, we had a light breakfast and then saw another fabulous show on how your senses can be fooled.

The last official event of the overnight was an Omnimax film about the coral reefs, and then we were free to explore on our own, until we ran out of steam. Amazingly, we made it for another four hours, visiting some of Mom and Dad's favorite exhibits. We drove back to Rochester to pick up my car, and then had dinner at Johnson's in New Durham (cook after all that? no way).

An exhausting, exhilarating, can't-wait-to-do-it-all-over-again experience.

But I think I need a nap.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Race Is On, Again!

I find it interesting that the picture that cycled back was of William working on his Pinewood Derby car, since today was the district race that both William and Daniel qualified for during the pack event. This time, Daniel came in third for the Tigers in a series of races that was so close that they had to run the three top cars for an extra race to determine the winner.

William's car was having difficulties from the very start, and we think it was because something happened to the axles. We'll give it another try next year, though. The two cars are being retired to the trophy shelf.

After the Derby, we stopped by Karen's store to show off the participation medals. Danny will also be getting a trophy to add to his collection, but it will be presented at the pack meeting.

When we got home, we turned around almost immediately and went back out to attend a benefit dinner for the pack, held at the local Masonic Temple and sponsored by the Oddfellows, we also did the food. Pork loin, roast potatoes, carrots, and applesauce. Mouthwatering! And a brownie sundae for dessert.

Set all the clocks ahead; the computers should roll over at the official hour of 2:00 a.m. I was just getting to enjoy walking out to my car at 5:45 in the morning in the light. Daylight Savings Time will kill that luxury for several weeks. I can't believe that we set the clocks ahead for more than half the year now. What exactly is the point of that? Ah well.

Tonight I have been downloading some sheet music so that I can start getting my piano skills back up to par. I've found an old favorite from my childhood lessons, a Beethoven sonatina, and a couple of pieces I've always wanted to learn, including Fur Elise (Beethoven again) and George Cobb's Russian Rag, based on Rachmaninoff's  Prelude.

This was all prompted by the purchase of a new, heavy-duty keyboard stand for my 37-pound electronic piano with weighted keys. My old stand was too shaky with the heavier keyboard; the new stand holds the piano and my synth, so I hope to be playing a lot more music than I have for the last several years, and maybe even composing some.

Meanwhile, I'm playing carpenter on the house, a skill that I can't even say is rusty, since I never acquired it in the first place. They say the necessity is the mother of invention, but for me learning carpentry is the mother of all headaches. And backaches. Oh, and shoulder aches.

Just thinking about it makes me want to take some ibuprofen and get to bed.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Another Season Ends

Today William and Daniel did their skating shows, and end-of-season tradition for ice skating at the Pop Whalen Arena in Wolfeboro. Both boys are skating well, but Danny is the one who's made the really big leap. The last time he tried to skate, he spent the whole time on his hands and knees, afraid of falling. This time, he started right off learning how to get up properly after a fall, and never looked back.

Sure, he falls--they both do--but he gets right back up and keeps going, and his skating is worlds better than before. Both boys feel very comfortable on the ice, and the biggest problem we have is getting them to come home at the end.

Our Spring-like weather continues, without all the rain, and the snow is already starting to disappear. Mud season has arrived early in New Hampshire, and I, for one, am glad to welcome it. We have a lot to do on our house, and it's going to be a lot easier when the weather is warmer and dryer.

Right now I have to get myself ready for bed. More to come this weekend, along with some promised changes in the way I do pictures.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wild Weather

Perhaps you are tired of reading about the weather in New Hampshire. Perhaps I am tired of having such bizarre weather to write about. Yes, I think that is very likely.

Just past midnight Friday morning, I awoke to darkness. Not the usual darkness invaded by glowing clock displays and perhaps a neighbor's porch light, but the darkness that says, "Oh, great, another power outage." Heavy rains and strong winds had knocked out power in much of the state.

William woke up soon after because he had to go to the bathroom. He called up the stairs because he couldn't see to go to the bathroom and needed a flashlight. I went down and found him one, found another LED flashlight that would stay on all night, grabbed my watch and set an alarm for 5:00, then went back to bed. I didn't sleep well, but I did get up and ready in time for work.

But by the time I had reached the south end of Milton, I heard on the radio that my shift had been cancelled, and I turned back to help Karen get herself ready for work. No cancellation for her; even if Rochester had lost power, Lowes has generators so that they can be open.

The boys and I (Thomas had a scheduled day off) spent the day trying to find things to do without power (much easier for William, an avid reader, than Danny, who hasn't got the hang of reading yet, though he did find building with Legos to be a great distraction), and discovering sources of water for flushing toilets, as without electricity we do not have running water. We also don't have heat, but the air wasn't that cold and the house is very well insulated.

The power, much to my surprise, came on around 3:00 in the afternoon, a tribute to the line crews. We got the place heated up, and enjoyed a bit of electric-powered entertainment, although we didn't change our plans for eating out for dinner. Karen came home to a nice warm house and our electric mattress pad, and we had a good night's sleep.

Then we woke up this morning, getting ready for another work day for Karen, and looked outside. Three or four inches of snow greeted up, and my first order of the day, before even eating, was to go out and shovel a path for Karen's car. Are we having fun yet?

The boys, on the other hand, did have fun today, attending a pool party. No, not billiards, an actual swimming pool, indoors of course. It is a strange feeling sitting in a steaming hot pool house, watching my children swim, and looking out at fat, swirling snowflakes.

More snow coming for the next couple of days. I hope this doesn't mean another snow day; it would cause many logistical problems. Then we finally seem to be getting a break with some mostly sunny and not very cold weather.

Which is still weirder, as Spring is still three weeks away, and even the beginning of Spring around here usually has a number of cold stormy days in its future. I don't know what to expect. So I just stop expecting.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ice, Snow, and Other States Of Water

Last week, skating was cancelled because of nasty weather, and I was afraid it was going to happen again, judging by at least some of the latest predictions. But there was only a little wet snow this evening, and the boys managed to get on the ice. Their skating is coming along very well; they both seem quite at home on skates, and I hope that it will be something they can enjoy for many years to come.

The rest of the week is hard to make plans for, concerning those matters for which weather, well, matters. We're supposed to get a few inches of nasty wet stuff tonight, a mix of rain and snow tomorrow (even nastier), and then rain (and apparently quite a lot of it) on Thursday. Wonderful. It makes driving so adventurous.

Lack of sleep also makes driving adventurous, and I hear Karen coming home from work, so I'm going off to bed. More weather reports later, I fear.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Son Of The Weather Roller Coaster

On Wednesday, home from work because I wasn't feeling well, we had enough snow that we all had to shovel. On Thursday, the sun was shining and the temperature got as high as the mid forties.

This morning there was another dusting of snow. Not enough to break out the shovel--or even the broom--for, but enough up this way to make me a little nervous about the condition of the road.

Despite a sunny, visible-shadow kind of day on Ground Hog Day, Spring seems to be coming early. There is at least some thawing after each snow, the temperatures are very mild, and there are lots of sunny days.

On the other hand, I though Spring was imminent at the end of our first Winter here, in 2002, when on the first official day of Spring a storm dropped about ten inches of snow on us. Maybe you can't fool Mother Nature, but she can sure pull a great practical joke on you!

Speaking of Winter, tomorrow marks the beginning of William and Daniel's Winter break. They have the entire week off of school. Unfortunately, neither Karen nor I have even one day off during the week, so the kids will be spending most of that time at the Children's Center.

But we will do what we can to spend time with the boys. This weekend they are going to help us set up shelves and poles in their closet, and Karen has some baking projects in mind that they'll enjoy. And since they don't have to worry about getting up for school the next day, I'll be able to do some fun stuff with them in the evenings when I get home from work. It'll be fun for them, though by the end of it I wouldn't be surprised if they are looking forward to going back to school! Still, I wish Karen and I could make our time off match theirs during the breaks. We could plan some outings all together and save some money on child care.

Maybe by next year, or even this summer, we will have figured out how to give oursselves a more flexible lifestyle.

It's something to shoot for, anyway.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Invisible Move, I Hope

Blogger is phasing out the ability to publish a blog on a server other than Google's. It makes perfect sense; Google spends an inordinate amount of programming resources supporting a method that only a tiny fraction of users take advantage of. It shouldn't affect anything except for those few of you who might directly have bookmarked my blog, in which case you should access it from the main Web site and create a new bookmark.

I apologize for the repeat pictures, some of which are now two months old. I'll take up the slack by the weekend, but frankly there hasn't been much opportunity for photography in the last couple of weeks. What I may start doing, rather than try to make the Picture Of the Day represent the latest happenings here at Brooks Bunch Central, is provide a nice selection of fun pictures from our entire collection. Then I'll upload the topical pictures to the blog so I can tell the whole story.

The pictures I put in the blog are now available through our Picasaweb galleries, so you can still see them without having to sort through the blog entries.

As usual, TheBrooksBunch.com is in a constant state of change. Maybe one day I'll figure out what actually works and stick to it.

But probably not.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Triumph At the Pinewood Derby

The Brooks Family had an incredible morning yesterday. I was there and I still can hardly believe it. It was the day of the Cub Scouts' Pinewood Derby, held at Kingswood High School. The boys had spent a good deal of time preparing their cars, and William had been up late making oatmeal cookies for the bake sale. We arrived at the school in separate cars because Karen had to go to work when it was all over. We had our cars, extra graphite, tools in case of a mishap, and, of course, William's cookies.

The maximum weight of a Pinewood Derby car is five ounces. We had used my postal scale to get as close as we could, but we had extra weights in case we needed to add weight, and pliers in case we needed to take it away.


Danny's car weighed in at 4.9 ounces. I wasn't going to mess with that. I figured that I would probably do more damage trying to add the extra tenth of an ounce, and with more experienced Scouts and dads putting their work and ideas into the other cars, I would just be glad if our cars made it to the end of the track without losing their wheels.


William's car was 4.8 ounces and had already lost a wheel during our test weight-in. So we concentrated our attention on getting that wheels back on and getting the car rolling straight.

During the Leader Race, something went wrong over at the refreshments counter. The coffee pot, tea pot, and hot dog warmer were all plugged into the same outlet, At first the breaker on the power strip tripped, so we plugged two into the strip and one into the wall. But the circuit, apparently, was still not enough for all three appliances and it tripped. With no access to the breaker panel, we went in search of other outlets, and finally found them, laying extension cords and carefully taping them down for safety.

But with all that I managed to settle down to watch the race before my sons' cars were at the gate. The race was a double-elimination, which meant that each car could lose twice before being dropped from the race. William lost his first heat, but we were both glad that the car just made it down with the wheels intact.

Then Danny's car was up, and it won the first heat. Wow, cool. Very unexpected, but very cool. Danny went over to the refreshments table, where Karen was working, to deliver the good news.

William won his second heat, and I was happy that both boys would be able to stay in the race a little longer. And then a pattern emerged. Danny's car kept winning. Much to the surprise of all of us, my little Tiger Cub was beating every car out there, sometimes by a tiny fraction of a second, but always ahead.

By the time the race was over, Danny still didn't realize what had happened. He knew he's won several times, but all the adults around him knew that he had led the pack, not only with the most wins but with the fastest time of the day.

The anticipation was overwhelming. We waited through the raffle, during which Karen one a set of power tools and William won a wonderful candy basket, and then the awards ceremony started. Danny got a first place trophy for his division, consisting of both of the Tiger Dens. William got a second place trophy for the Bears. And then the Pack Leader announced that the first place winner was Daniel Brooks. Danny ran to the podium to get his prize. He has thrilled! So were we.

Danny was a little upset with the news that he couldn't play with his car after the race, and many of the other boys were doing. Why not? Because he had to keep it in good condition for a district-wide race. That's right, Danny is going on to compete with Scouts from other Packs. I don't know the details yet, but you will when I do.

I have no idea how Danny's car will do in this bigger competition, and I don't really care. Just the fact that, at seven, he gets to have a nice trophy from a memorable day,  with a trip to look forward to where he gets to meet and compete with other Scouts, means that he's already a big winner.