Saturday, July 28, 2012


Perhaps, with all the change in color and the new stuff on the page, you didn't notice the eighth portrait on our Web site. Meet our new kitten whose name, for reasons that would be obvious to anyone who spent time around her, is Ambush.

Ambush has been anticipated for some time, although her name was a complete surprise. Daniel, whose kitten Ambush is, has bandied about a variety of names for the past several weeks, most of them Japanese, since he is interested these days in anime, animation from Japan. So we though the kitten might end up with a name like Yoko. But then Ambush took a surprise flying pounce at William, and so her name was born.

Danny has written the first draft of a little picture book about the anticipation and eventual arrival of Ambush, and I'll post a link to it once we've managed to get it into print (that's right, print; modern technology means that anyone can publish for next to no money—amazing!).

William's working on a book, too, about some space aliens trying to get back home (and he hasn't even seen E.T. as far as I know). We're trying to have both books ready to go soon after the boys return to school.

In addition to a little writing, summer vacation has included a lot of swimming. The boys take lessons four days a week until the end of this week, and then I'm sure there will be at least as many beach days in the weeks that follow. We're also trying to spend some time together drawing, although we've done much too little of that. And there's been lots of reading.

All-in-all a typical summer vacation at the Brooks house. By the time school's back in, William and Daniel will be ready to return to their friends.

And I'll be ready for the extra time to get work done.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I couldn't blog about our vacation while we were on vacation because I was unconnected. No phone, no Internet (except for one short session at a McDonalds in North Conway, and I used that time to do my weekly work search), no TV, and no cable. And lots of cool stuff to do.

One of Karen's coworkers owns a cabin in Errol, about three hours north of here, on a cute little pond. We took our time driving up, stopping for Bobbie Sue's ice cream in Freedom, visiting North Conway and Gorham, and looking around Berlin before settling in for a relaxing week (well, as relaxing as a vacation with two boys can be).

William and Daniel spent a lot of their time in the water, jumping off a dock they found at nearby Akers Pond, at a public beach that Daniel nicknamed "Cannonball Cove." Karen got in some swimming, too, although she took time out to do some painting. She's learning an impressionist style known as "plein air," and she's taking to it very nicely. She produced three small canvases, one of which has been gifted to the owner of the cabin, a second going to Tom, and the third going to me.

Karen and I have been married for 24 years, and I have very little of her artwork, so this is a precious gift. I am working very hard to find her more time to paint, because she's enjoying it and she shows a lot of promise, as anyone who knows Karen might expect.

On Thursday we drove back down to Glen, to do our annual (though probably last) trip to Storyland. We met up with friends and the boys spent a lot of time—what else—getting wet, on rides and in the mist houses that Storyland provides on hot days. The highlight of the day, as it has been for the past few years, was the small-top performance of the Royal Hanneford Circus. But my boys seem to be outgrowing the rides, and so we might find another special trip for next year.

On the way back to Errol, we stopped in a restaurant that was recommended by the cashier at the Cumberland Farms convenience store in Gorham (Karen loves Cumby's iced coffee, and had to stock up. It was named, unpromisingly, Mr. Pizza, but it turned out to have a much more varied menu, and we had a delightful dinner.

Friday found us in Colebrook, very close to the Canadian border. We would have considered crossing into Quebec, but none of us has a current passport, now required for travel to and from Canada. Perhaps another time.

Colebrook is a cute little town, with a French bakery (with a French-Canadian owner) where we got some delicious honey bread and madeleines to have with dinner that night. Then we found Beaver Brook Falls, where we picnicked and the boys, of course, got good and wet. We also found a market there for the extra food we needed, since Errol has only a small, and expensive, general store.

To get to Colebrook, we passed through Dixville Notch, famous for their first-in-the-nation voting. The place where this voting has traditionally taken place, a resort called The Balsams, is currently closed for renovation. Apparently a large portion of the resort is not up to code. We took a look around the grounds and found one gorgeous old building. We hope they are not tearing that one down; we'll check back next year, I think.

Dixville Notch also has a lovely state park, with falls on both sides of the highway, and so we went back that way Saturday, and hiked up the falls. And, of course, the boys got wet.

On our way home Sunday, we stopped for lunch at Mr. Pizza again, then made our way through Conway to the Kankamagus Highway and the Swift River where, of course, the boys got wet. Then one more stop at Bobbie Sue's for ice cream, and then home, tired but happy.

And what did I do all this time? Some writing, a lot of photography, and a lot of nothing. It was just what I needed.