Sunday, July 31, 2011


I have the day off. Sort of. Karen has to work, so I have the kids at home, and we have a lot of work to do around the house, and the boys have writing and reading and math to catch up on. But for the first time in a week, I do not have to go the the theater.

Don't get me wrong, I love the theater. But it's been the most exhausting week I've had in a long time. We had a lot of technical issues coming into closing night, and we never would have made it if not for a dedicated cast and crew who helped me set up our special effects lighting at the last minute. The effect--the Northern Lights, a shooting star, and snow--debuted on the stage on opening night!

Of course, the cast put on an incredible show, and we were lucky to have about 165 people in the audience; big crowds make for better shows, because their reactions give the performers extra energy. I guess some of our pre-show publicity paid off!

The add to my tiredness, I went to Maine to pick up William from camp on Friday morning, from there to North Conway to get Tom so he could see the show, and then home to finish the video editing for the theatrical effects. Tom animated the shooting start for me!

Yesterday, after the boys had a chance to play video games with Tom in the morning, I drove him back to North Conway, gave the boys a chance to play in the water, fed them at Burger King, and then drove all the way back to the theater to put on the second show.

So today I am a bit tired. But there is a lot to be done, so resting will have to wait for bedtime tonight.

I don't think I'll do any work in the bedroom today, though. I think the temptation would just be too much.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Camp Week, Hell Week

Last Friday we brought William to Camp Sebago in Standish, ME for his first ever week away from home. We have not heard from him, which is a good sign, because the only reason for the camp to call is in an emergency, and there apparently hasn't been one.

On the other hand, this is Hell Week at the Village Players, that lovely run-up to opening night where pretty much everything is an emergency, especially for me, since I'm directing the current play. Tonight we ran through the technical operations: sound, lighting, and set changes. The show actually ran pretty much the same as the show will run tomorrow for dress rehearsal, and Thursday for full dress. (What's the difference? The actors don't have to wear makeup until full dress.)

Of course, there were a couple of little things missing. Like the main lighting effect, which we have not gotten set up yet although we have only two rehearsals until the real show. And sound from stage right, where my speaker was accidentally kicked, destroying the connector I had plugged into it.

Ah, the theater is so relaxing.

I think I'll go to bed so that I can have some bad dreams.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Food Adventure

I can't believe I forgot to mention something else we did last week. On Saturday we were meeting some friends at the beach, and Karen decided we should serve ice cream. At the beach.

Now, Karen is nothing if not an adventurous cook, so the concept of making ice cream at home is hardly an odd one in our house. We have two usual ways to make ice cream: our electric ice cream maker, and a little gadget called the Donvier, which consists of an aluminum pot that we store in the freezer. You fill the Donvier with your favorite ice cream recipe and turn the handle every ten minutes or so, and it makes pretty good ice cream.

But neither of these is suitable for making ice cream at the beach, and we don't have a hand-cranked machine. But Karen, always on the lookout for a great idea, found an article on making ice cream with a couple of Ziplock bags. Yep. You put the ice cream mixture in one bag, and put that in another bag with ice and salt. The article suggested putting both in a plastic shoe box and shaking, but Karen decided that an insulated bag would work as well.

Or better. The kids took turns agitating the bag on the way to the beach, every five miles or so. When we got there, we had something slightly harder than soft-serve, and much creamier. Of course, we had to serve it within about twenty minutes of arriving, but it was well worth the effort, and will undoubtedly be a part of future beach trips.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Family Week

Karen arranged her vacation days so that on the weeks that she normally has Tuesday and Wednesday off followed by a Saturday and Sunday (in the following week; her week starts on Saturday), she ends end with six consecutive days off to spend with the family. It only happens three times during the boys' 13-week summer vacation, and last week was one of those weeks.

It was the last week of the boys' swimming
lessons. They each took three weeks at Brewster Beach brushing up their skills and doing very well. Lessons started at 9:40 and went for half and hour, so our excursions for the first three days of Karen's vacation started in the late morning.

On Tuesday we visited a farm museum, the Remick, up in Tamworth. The boys were particularly fascinated by the new litters of pigs. You should have heard Danny when the docent told us that these pigs were for sale. "Danny, you see the mother pig?"


"If we buy one of those little piglets, it will grow to be as big as her."

"I meant we could keep it in our back yard." Sigh. Needless to say we are not add
ing a piglet to our menagerie any time soon.

Karen's favorite part of the day was the tour of the Remick house, with an interesting mix of antique and modern furnishings. The house is from the 19th Century, but it was used until the 1990s.

Since Tamworth is, sort of, right on the way to Sandwich, we decided to stop at the Sandwich Creamery for ice cream. It's way off the beaten path (they sell most of their dairy products to markets and restaurants), but worth the trip. The ice cream is self-serve on the honor system. We has black raspberry chocolate chip.

Wednesday was a short trip to the Wright Museum, a local museum dedicated to the World War II years. The boys, of course, got interested in all the military hardware, but Karen and I were more fascinated by the displays showing a little of what life was like during the war years. Of particular interest was a series of signs showing relative costs of everyday goods.

In 1942 you could buy a new house for about twice the average household income. Where can you find a new home today for that?

Thursday was a laid-back beach day and the last days of the swimming lessons. On Friday we made our annual trek to Storyland.

This trip was a little special, though. In addition to our favorite rides and the Royal Hanneford Circus, we stopped to have dinner with Thomas, who is now living in North Conway, just a little south of Storyland.

We had a little adventure, too; in the rush to get kids out of the car and make sure we had everything at the park, Karen left her cell phone on top of the car. It stayed there all day, still unnoticed, and fell off the car at 40 miles per hour on Route 16. After we picked up Tom, we went back to retrieve the pieces, hoping at least to recover the pictures off the memory card.

What we found was the intact phone, lying on the side of the road flipped open, and completely functional. I never would have guessed!

A busy, fun week for everyone. Now Karen is back to work, I'm still searching for work, and the opening date of Almost, Maine looms large on my calendar. And so back to work!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Sounds of Summer

Downstairs, my two boys are playing a video game. One of them is supposed to be cleaning the bathroom, but I will get to him in a moment. In our bedroom (as we call it; it's really the attic until we have the time and money to finish it), my old record player is playing the "Best of Eddie Cantor" album, transferring the music to my tiny little audio recorder so that, eventually, I can enjoy this, and many other albums I have as vinyl records, on my iPod.

I actually started this process on a day a couple of months ago, but it sounded horrible. I discovered that the record player's stylus was bent at an odd angle, distorting the music from the turntable. I tried to fix it, and it snapped. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a stylus for a JC Penney-branded turntable that's at least 35 years old? I finally got it (thank you, when I was too busy to use it. Now I'm enjoying listening to my favorite old music while it digitizes itself.

Outside I hear the sounds of traffic on wet pavement. We don't get a lot of cars along our little road most of the time, but this is a holiday weekend and we live close to America's Oldest Resort, Wolfeboro, and so this weekend we have a lot of visitors in town.

The boys saw their first professional baseball game during the last week of my employment. William won free tickets to a New Hampshire Fisher Cats game. I think I enjoyed the game more than the boys; I haven't seen a pro game since we left LA.

Some of the activities we had planned for the boys this summer have gotten off to a slow start because my job lasted longer than I expected it to. We are working on a couple of cookbooks, one by each boy. We're going to try out self-publishing the new-fashioned way, with Print-On-Demand publishing. That means that it costs us nothing up front to publish the book; a book is printed only when it is ordered. The printer/binder keeps a portion, and sends the rest to us. Who know, maybe if the boys come up with something good, they can put themselves through college.

The boys also expressed interest in making movies. Of course, everything they come up with is an effects-laden spectacular, so we'll see if they come up with anything I can actually shoot. Meanwhile, to give them a little taste, Dad came up with a quick little scene and shot it in the back yard. With a few Photoshop effects, the boys did a little magic. Once I get the soundtrack done, the video will show up on YouTube.

Karen and the boys also have a lot of gardening going. We're trying to keep the slugs away from out wild strawberries which have, well, gone wild. And the boys each plated a giant pumpkin seed taken from a giant pumpkin at the Keene Pumpkin Festival last October. We don't know if the huge seed will produce huge fruit, but the plants are certainly starting out big!

Of course, there is summer reading. William reads regularly. We have to push Danny a little, but once he gets started he enjoys it. And there's also math practice; the schools have subscribed to an online program called IXL that seems to make the practice enjoyable. How effective it will be at helping them retain what they've learned over the summer remains to be seen.

I have my own summer projects. One, of course, is play. I'm directing John Cariani's Almost Maine, a quirky little set of vignettes that I've very much fallen in love with, which is only appropriate because the play is about love. As soon as we close that one, I'm appearing in Little Shop of Horrors. I'm just one of the skid-row bums, but I'm glad to be any part of it, since it was authored by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, whose work on The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast at DIsney contributed so much to the success of Karen's early career at Disney.

I'm also working on a movie, even quirkier than Cariani's play, a short called I Dream In Color. I'm planning to shoot during this month (have to before the end of the summer because one of my cast members is going back to college), but I don't know if it will get through post until after the boys are back in school.

So, lots to say about what's coming. Next I need to talk a bit about what's already been. WIth pictures.

Until then....