Monday, December 30, 2013
I'm still working on the Creative Challenge, of course, and auditioning for at least one (but probably two) plays this year. Karen wants to finish her trailer in time for Spring camping. I'm still not clear on what the boys want to accomplish in the coming year, but we'll be talking more about it tomorrow, while everyone is home for the day.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
It's okay, though; we're not going anywhere, and we're all nice and snug inside, the boys sporting the new robes they got for Christmas.
And things will warm up to near freezing tomorrow, so we might go take a swim.
In the indoor pool, of course. We're not that crazy.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Karen started the day whipping up banana bread batter while I worked on the first of six kinds of cookie dough. I've been baking since she left.
William will make his contribution by making chocolate-covered pretzels when he comes home from school, and then Daniel and Thomas will be making more cookies this evening.
Karen will get back into the swing of things when she comes home from work, finishing up raspberry truffles (that Tom will have mixed after dinner).
All-in-all, a tiring, tempting, delicious-smelling day at the Brooks Bunch home.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Nothing fancy, as I said, but a lovely day with a lovely lady. What more could a guy ask for?
Saturday, December 14, 2013
As in, "Oh, yeah, I haven't repaired the pull-starter rope on the snow-thower yet," and "Maybe I should put a handrail on those temporary steps I just built."
And then there are the things we do in case the power goes out. Not as likely for this storm, as the winds will be relatively mild and the snow will be dry and powdery. But with temperatures in the single digits, tree branches snapping over power lines is within the realm of possibility.
So I'm making buns for tonight's hamburgers early because we can cook burgers on a camp stove, but we can't bake bread. Right now I need to take care of that railing; don't want anyone slipping and sliding!
Monday, December 09, 2013
It was actually fairly mild when we arrived here, above freezing the first day, but now it has gotten decidedly nippy. Single-digit overnight temps are expected in the coming days.
So, friends in Southern California: would you like to trade?
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Karen joined the resort so she would have winter access to a pool so she can get some exercise. A side benefit is a week of time in one of the efficiencies at the resort for family or friends to visit (hint) or a quick getaway for two.
Friday, December 06, 2013
But we all love it, and although New Hampshire feels like home, it was very hard to get on the plane and fly away from family, friends, and glorious weather.
There was a lot of driving, in an SUV we rented that was just way too fancy, with keyless starting, and a touch-screen control panel for sound, climate control, and a few other things we didn't bother to learn. The only thing we never figured out how to do was close the moon roof.
We went from the airport in LA to Burbank, where we met up with friends at a local Round Table Pizza before turning in for the night (after having been up for nearly 24 hours straight) with our friends the Forbushes. Then we drove to Fresno to have Thanksgiving dinner with family, but only after a visit to the wonderful Chaffee Zoo.
After Thanksgiving it was back down to LA, for more visiting, and trip to Disneyland thanks to, and with, our friends the Reisches. Then another day of visiting, a day at Legoland California in Carlsbad, and then back onto a plane to Boston. It was 1:00 in the morning by the time we got home.
So, a whirlwind trip, that seemed every bit as short as the description I just gave. We wanted so much to linger longer, visit more friends and more places. But there was only so much time. There was more, and I will have more to say about it in the days to come. And there will be pictures video posted. But it wasn't long enough, not nearly.
It's been four long years since we came to our special West Coast home. But we won't wait that long to come back.
We just can't wait that long to come back.
This weekend we are taking him to see Disney's new movie, Frozen, and out to a special dinner at the Yankee Smokehouse. Danny has good taste in restaurants.
Tonight we are expecting an inch or so of snow, with more coming on Monday, although recent predictions on that score have been, to say the least, unreliable, so we'll play it by ear. But one thing I know for certain: no snow will be falling where we were a few days ago.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
When we got home last light, we discovered, to out chagrin but not much surprise, that the upstairs heater had decided to shut itself down, something it occasionally does. The cats didn't freeze or anything; the basement heater manages to keep things reasonable. For cats. But it was decidedly chilly in the house when we got home, and something of a shock from what we left behind on the West Coast.
But here we are. There will be more to say in my main blog, and lots of pictures to post.
But just now I have to get the kids out of bed, late (we let them sleep in because they didn't get to bed until about 1:30 this morning), and get them off to school.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
We are all very excited to see family and friends and a few of our favorite haunts in the Golden State.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Probably no photo updates while in the Golden State (I will try to work ahead a little before I go, though) since I don't plan to have a computer with me. But I will be able to update this blog.
Saturday, November 09, 2013
Lights went without a hitch, too, thanks largely to the stage manager, who did a wonderful job getting me all the proper cues.
Twice more, then two days off, one more rehearsal, then three more performances.
And, just maybe, some time to sleep in there somewhere.
Monday, November 04, 2013
For me, "tech" is most appropriate as I run the inaugural show with the theater's new lighting console. I feel like I'm at Mission Control. Fiddler, we are go for launch!
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
And so we did a lot of searching around and finally hit on a solution, we think. I'm switching over to AT&T, and Karen is staying with T-Mobile, but with a pay-as-you-go plan. Karen spends less time in the Lakes Region, and her number isn't the one everyone uses to contact us.
So, I signed up with AT&T, and was ready to get another Android phone from LG, which looked a little bulky and cumbersome, when the sales clerk mentioned that iPhone 4S was also available free with the contract. (The 4S is not the latest model, but it's close).
I didn't jump at the offer immediately. I like the iPhone, but I've been using Android for two years and was used to it. But, knowing that I'd still have my old phone to run applications on, I went ahead and took the iPhone.
What do I think? It's too early to tell, but I do like the fact that the contacts from my Mac are already synced to the phone. I'm sure that there will be plusses and minuses.
But the biggest plus is that the kids will be able to reach me from home when I'm at the theater, and our overall monthly expenses will go down. And that was the whole point.
But the phone, I have to admit, is cool.
Monday, October 28, 2013
And yet, with the lack of sleep, I've been fairly productive today. I even shot a video introduction for a Fiverr gig I'm planning to offer.
Of course, the video might be total garbage, and in my stupor I might just think the shoot went well. Only postproduction will reveal its true quality.
Friday, October 25, 2013
On a typical school day, my radio turns itself on at 5:30. In the morning. It's tuned to NHPR, but I don't listen long enough to hear what the news is, because I turn the radio off so as not to disturb Karen's sleep. At least not at that hour. William's own radio turns itself on five minutes earlier. I don't know why; it was William's decision.
William mostly gets himself ready for school, just requiring a reminder here and there, most often the feeding of his cat. When he has gotten dressed and had breakfast and taken care of a few other things on his list, he usually curls up in Karen's favorite chair and reads. This is where the first alarm on my phone comes in, because William would sit there reading until sometime in the afternoon if there wan't some kind of time signal. Like the rest of us, he gets lost in a good book.
That phone alarm sounds at 6:15, and William and I go out into the dark and, as of this week, cold to wait for the bus. It usually arrives within ten minutes, giving us a little time to talk, usually about nothing in particular. I say good-bye, turn around and go back into the house, and have a minute or two to breathe before Danny's alarm goes of at 6:30.
Danny needs a little more guidance than William to get moving in the morning. I won't say that I have to drag him out of bed, mostly because his bunk bed is too high for me to reach him, so I have to get by with poking and prodding. Not every morning. Sometimes he gets up really early and gets in William's way. Of the two versions of Danny in the Morning, I prefer the sleepyhead.
The phone alarm for Danny's bus goes off at 7:25. Sometimes the bus comes within ten minutes, sometimes it takes half an hour. Usually it's a little warmer when I wait with Danny, because the sun is up. But not always.
I also help Karen get ready for work, not because she needs my help, but because when it comes to my wife, I like to be helpful. Sometimes Karen has to leave before Danny goes to the bus. Sometimes she leaves about an hour after. If I'm lucky, she has a late shift and leaves a couple of hours after the boys (although that's not lucky for the boys because she'll be home after they go to bed). If we're all really lucky, Karen will have the day off.
Usually that's it for alarms, but sometimes there are appointments that are important and out of the ordinary, and time will slide right by me if I don't have some kind of reminder. Danny's after-school program, or a Den meeting, or some kind of theater meeting.
So, while I really hate to hear alarms going off sometimes, I'm grateful that I have them around to keep me on track.
And when I say cockpit, I mean the thing looks like it belongs in an airplane. More buttons than I can count, and 40 faders. Suddenly I'm feeling like I'm running lights for a 1500 seat house instead of our little theater.
But don't get the idea that I don't like the new console. It will take a lot of learning, but it's going to do some very cool things for us. Thirteen years in, we've finally arrived in the 21st Century.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
But it was also a fun trip that gave us time to just hang out and enjoy the scenery (and the beautiful sunny day). Karen took lots of pictures of the ocean, the lighthouse, the rose bushes, the rocks, and even a group of scuba divers, with an eye toward using some of all of the pictures for inspiration in future paintings.
I mostly took pictures of Karen.
Lunch out was Taco Bell, which isn't elegant but something we don't get to do very often, and we failed to instantly win a Sony Playstation 4 game system. We're crushed. Sort of.
Today was gray and chilly, so we stayed in and worked on eBay sales and a new book concept. Tomorrow we get to sleep in, if our body clocks don't betray us; the kids have a delayed opening while their teachers get some extra training, and Karen's working a late shift. So we also get to spend a little extra time with the boys.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
At some point, if Danny continues to show interest in model rocketry, we may join the nearest chapter of the National Association of Rocketeers, which meets in Maine, not too far from here.
But Danny's sights are already set on the Pinewood Derby, coming up in the winter, which will also be his last.
And it's not very likely that his Pinewood Derby car will get lost in the woods.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
That was about it for the Challenge today; too much housework to catch up on, and a new course in music production starting. But I have a song that's only six lines from done. So far, I think I'm doing okay.
Monday, October 14, 2013
But I'm paying for it today!
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Just a little something I cooked up on the kitchen table with our still camera. Technology is a wonderful thing!
Sunday, October 06, 2013
You can still see the larger version of the picture, and even download it, from the front page, because all of the image data from the 1600 X 1200 version is loaded with the page. To get the details, click on the new "Help" link on the navigation bar.
Just because a new season is upon us, I will probably be changing the colors, title, and banner pictures soon.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
But since I did understand a lot of the concepts going in, it gave me time to have fun with it. Instead of using the sound files that were supplied for the class, I recorded my own, about ten of them, and manipulated them with the programming scripts to create something that, while it won't be on anyone's Top Ten list, is still an interesting result.
If you're curious, you can hear it on my SoundCloud account. It's the one called "Some Random Pluck." The "Pluck" refers to the fact that the dominant track is composed of a total of six recordings of my six-string banjo; five of the recordings are single notes.
The "drum" track is actually make of sounds created with a balloon. The only synthesized sound is the horn sound, which comes from my old Casio keyboard. It's also the only one with effects added. I was required to create the effect myself in the computer program.
In fact, I was required to create the entire soundtrack using only the computer program, without any manual manipulations in the recording software. So although the individual bits are my recordings, the music itself was generated by my computer.
Even though I knew a lot of the programming concepts, I learned a lot over the course of the last five weeks of this class that I'm going to be able to apply to my musical composition for some time to come. I really love this online learning thing!
Friday, September 27, 2013
And when Thomas, Daniel, and I picked him up (for Thomas was working until 8:00 and so I had to pick him up since I had his car), he said that it, well, wasn't as bad as he thought it would be.
And when we got home he proceeded to tell me about all the fun that he had. And that he'd actually danced. A little.
And he met a girl.
I don't think I'll have to sell him on the next dance.
Monday, September 23, 2013
You might wonder why you've seen nothing but Danny in the pictures for the past few days; it's just a timing issue. William was away camping Thursday and Friday, and was exhausted on Saturday and Sunday, and didn't feel like doing much that was picture-worthy.
He'll be back on the front page soon. I promise!
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Right now the routine involves housework, construction, cooking, selling on eBay, promoting the books we've already published, and writing, as well as keeping up on my coursework (and you can hear some of the results of what I'm doing at SoundCloud). I'm also trying to get ready for winter, including whatever preparations need to be made to install our wood stove.
But starting October 1, I'm adding some heavy work to my routine: the fulfillment of my 52-Week Creative Challenge. I have announced that I'm going to create, in the 52 weeks following 10/1/13, 52 online videos. 26 songs, twelve Kindle articles, four books, and one feature-length screenplay.
It sounds impossible. For all I know it might be impossible. But when I was taking my first songwriting class, I managed to create a song from scratch in about two weeks while going through Hell Week and opening week of a play that I was running the booth for. And the second time I took the course, I did the same thing, although in that case at least the play I was appearing in was over before the final weeks of the course.
With the new tools that I've learned, and some organization, I think I can do this and still fulfill all my other obligations (including, yes, theater; I'm running lights for Fiddler On the Roof and planning to audition for two shows next year). What the course taught me is that, if I organize my thoughts at the start of a project, I can get the writing done according to a schedule. If I can sustain that for a whole year, then I will have a substantial body of work out there in the world.
And even if I don't quite meet my goals, I still will have done a lot more work in the coming year than in any of the years past. So, whatever the outcome, the effort is worthwhile.
And there is something you, dear reader, can do to help. Tell everyone! And while you're at it follow me on YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitter, and my blog about the experience (and if you're not a member of any of those sites, at least bookmark the YouTube, SoundCloud and blog links so you can look in on them from time to time).
But definitely tell everyone you know online to look in on me, because the more people know about this, the harder it will be for me to back out when the going gets rough. And that's just the kind of push that I need.
He gets to repeat the experience, at a different site (and most likely with colder weather) in the Spring. By that time he will have many weeks of hiking under his belt, and will know his classmates much better. Sometimes he claims that he doesn't want to go on these trips, but in the end he usually had a very good time.
Although I have to admit, it's strange waking up without him in the house (even if I do get to sleep an extra hour in the morning).
Saturday, September 14, 2013
By way of making it up to Daniel, who wasn't invited, Karen brought home pizza, root beer, and ice cream, and Danny got to choose a movie to bring home from the library. He chose Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. And he's having a camp in, in our living room.
Good thing Karen doesn't have to go to work in the morning.
Danny and I also played with the Lego Robot that William built during the summer. We programmed it to sense when it bumped into anything, and respond by backing up and turning left before proceeding forward once more.
The first problem was that when it would go under something higher than its sensor arm, but not higher than itself, it would get stuck. We solved that by putting extensions on the arms to sense anything up to just above the robot's height.
The second problem was that the robot won't sense anything directly in front of it; you have to reach down and tough one of its two sensor arms. We haven't solved that one, yet.
Might have to bring William in with some of his Lego-building expertise.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
But we came away without even a loss of power, and the breaks between storms even managed to fall on the times when each member of the family came home today. Pretty nifty, don't you think?
At least these storms are bringing cooler weather. It was over 90 and raining on Wednesday.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
So the weekend was filled with camping, which included a lot of fun, good food, and music (I even brought my guitar and joined in), but not a lot of sleep. So Sunday afternoon was mostly recovery time.
And Monday was mostly running around time, including time running around trying to save some money on our cell phone bill, which turned out to be a fool's errand (and guess who the fool was).
Today I actually had half the day alone in the house to do construction, coursework, and even some writing.
I'm also working on a special project, which you'll be hearing a lot more about. You can get a little preview here.
Friday, September 06, 2013
In other repair news, the night before last our fancy ceramic cooktop range stopped working. The electronic control panel seemed to think that everything was working fine, but with no heat coming from either burners or oven elements, I was hard-pressed to agree.
Happily, this story has a cheaper ending than the story of Karen's Subaru. A little online time with Samsung revealed that there is a way of resetting the controls (which is not mentioned in the troubleshooting section of the manual), and everything is working again.
Good. I was not looking forward to doing all of the cooking with the microwave, the crockpot, and the bread maker.
Monday, September 02, 2013
William is in a program at the middle school called "Vista." I'm not exactly sure what it is, except that the students will be spending less time sitting at desks and more time out and about observing the world, with lots of reading and writing. So that can't be bad.
But there is a bit of gearing up to do, including having hiking boots for William by the end of the week, since every Friday includes a hike. And, of course, William has outgrown his hiking boots. As a matter of fact, Danny has outgrown William's hiking boots.
I'm in so much trouble.
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Not taking it easy, though. In addition to all the things I need to do for my family, I'm still loading up on online learning. I'm almost through the first week of Survey of Music Technology, and on track to submit my quizzes on time. The Beethoven and Dinosaur classes start this week. We'll see if I can juggle all three; if not, Beethoven will probably be the first to go, since the one I started is more relevant to my musical goals, and the Dinosaur class is for Danny's benefit.
The boys go back to school on Tuesday, the same day we take Karen's car in for some major repairs so that it can pass inspection. Would love to replace it, but the cost of a reliable used car around here is out of our reach. For now, anyway. Fortunately, Karen has some time off coming, otherwise trying to juggle her work schedule and Tom's would be a nightmare.
Speaking of nightmares, I should get myself to sleep; have to help both the working stiffs in the family get to work at the same time tomorrow.
Oh, and as promised, the song: Disconnected.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Now I just have to wait a few days to see what my fellow students thought of the results. When I do the final version, I'll post a link.
Meanwhile, I think I'll stay busy enough not to dwell on the outcome.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Yesterday's dinner does not seem out of the ordinary—steak and potatoes. Oh, but there was that amazing lobster bisque that Karen concocted from the stock she made a few weeks ago and some of the frozen lobster meat.
And dessert was homemade honeydew melon sorbet, which Daniel helped make because a melon that Karen bought a while ago wasn't very sweet, and half of it had been sitting in the refrigerator for awhile. So rather than let it go bad, she and Daniel pureed it in the blender, along with a syrup made with sugar and fresh mint from our garden, and lime juice. The melon wasn't too appealing on its own, but as sorbet it took on a new and delicious life.
Now, Karen actually made a little more of the syrup than the sorbet recipe called for, so she decided to use the rest to make non-alcoholic mint juleps, like we used to enjoy as Disneyland. The result, which had crushed ice in it so that we didn't have to wait for it to chill, was not exactly like Disneyland's. But it was delicious and refreshing.
While Karen and I were out at the library yesterday, we stopped at the local grocery store to shop for meats (our little market has a great butcher and good meat prices). Among other things, we found packages of chicken quarters for 79 cents a pound, so we stocked up a bit.
For today's lunch, Karen tried to duplicate the dish her mother made when she was growing up, which was called "red chicken" by the family. Karen has not been able to find her mother's recipe, but she has become quite adept at finding recipes online and adapting them. The result was baked chicken with a sweet ketchup-based sauce and rings of onion. Karen says it was very close. I just thought it was delicious.
And tonight we made our annual trek to our local Pan-Asian restaurant East of Suez, to get in before it closes on September 1st (which is before Karen's next day off). We had planned to make it dinner for two, but Tom got called to work for an evening shift at the last minute, and so William and Daniel came with. It wasn't their favorite experience, but Karen and I loved the food.
But we are going to have a nice dinner for just the two of us as soon as Karen and Tom both have another day off.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Went to the driving range with Daniel to try out clubs he got for free at the local hospital fair at the end of the last night. He was hitting fairly well by the end of the bucket. Maybe we'll try to find a nice little par 3 to play.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
That's also the day I start Survey of Music Technology. And just when the last assignment for Songwriting is due, I'm starting Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas, and Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology. I'm taking that last one for Danny; he loves dinosaurs, but he's obviously too young to take a college-level course. So I'm hoping to share some of what I learn with him.
Only time will tell if I'm up for a trifecta, but I'm going to give it the old online college try.
Monday, August 19, 2013
But not to fear, tomorrow's picture is already in queue, with more Brooks Bunch happenings on the way. Now I've got to go tend to the home-grown potatoes we're having along with roast pork. Jealous? I though so.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Over the past five weeks, I've been taking a fascinating online course called Maps and the Geospatial Revolution. During that time, I've listen to video lectures, read course material, and played around with some powerful online tools which are available for free (with limited functionality—limited, that is, if you're a professional geographer; it seems nearly limitless to me). The culmination of the five weeks is to use a map to tell a story, which will be reviewed and graded by my peers in the class.
That doesn't make me nervous. I'm in it for the knowledge, not the grade (it's not a credit course anyway, and I'm not headed for a degree in geography anytime soon). The process itself, though, is interesting. In order to make this story map, I had to go out into the field and collect location data, then import that data into a map that somehow tells a story.
I saw a template that showed points of interest along a particular bridge in New York, and decided to adapt that idea to our favorite walking tour. I could use the same template; I just had to add my own pictures, descriptions, and locations. I had recently read a cautionary story about using a smartphone to take online pictures; people can extract the exact location the picture was taken from the data and sometime use it to stalk people.
Now I wasn't worried about that; it only happens when the GPS is turned on, and I hardly use my GPS because it uses too much battery power. But, I thought, rather than just use a GPS program and write down the locations, why not imbed them into the pictures I take?
So that's what I did. Well, not exactly. I did take pictures to get the locations, but I didn't care that much for the pictures, so I took additional pictures at the same locations with my regular camera, and that's what I posted.
It's not quite as simple as it sounds; the location data from the phone is only accurate to within 35 feet as best, and on a half-nile trail, that can be quite a distance off. But I was able to do some tweaking using Google Maps, and the result is HERE.
Except for some preliminary set-up, the whole thing was done between 3:00 and 8:30 p.m. yesterday, and the included taking and preparing the pictures, tweaking the data, and importing everything into the template. And I didn't spend all my time on the project. After all, I do have a few other things on my schedule.
Even though the class is over, I'm planning to do a lot more with these tools in the future.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Sunday, August 11, 2013
And I did a little writing for the song snippet that I have to hand in for tomorrow on my songwriting class, though I still need to get my voice back to record it. Nothing like working ahead!
With luck, a good night's sleep will prepare me for tomorrow's auditions for Fiddler On the Roof.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Life goes on, so the saying goes, and so it has. After we left Bonnie at the vet's for the last time, I went to touch-up rehearsal for my most recent play, and performed my best. We did three shows over the weekend which all went very well.
But it's hard coming home late at night, when everyone else is asleep, without having to worry about the dog waking everyone up to greet me. And we haven't yet broken the habit of leaving the front door unlocked and the porch light on until the last of us is ready to go to bed, so that we can let the dog out one more time.
The house is not the same without her.
Thursday, August 08, 2013
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
I spent the time working on a class assignment for the online songwriting course I'm re-taking (not that there was anything wrong with it the first time—I just wanted to get a refresher.
Then we stopped at Bobby Sue's for their excellent ice cream.
This is a summer tradition with us, and despite the fact that I seem to have a slight head cold, I enjoyed the day out with my family.
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
The car was a good deal; I bought it for only $1800, put about another $1000 into it, and ran it for nearly three years. It's time to move on.
Unfortunately, before we can move on to another car, we need to fix Karen's this month so that it can pass inspection. I sometimes wish we lived in a place where a car is not a necessity. But then, I've never lived anyplace like that.
Monday, August 05, 2013
Especially because there's a good chance that sometime soon I'll be starting work on another show.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Monday, July 29, 2013
Sunday, July 28, 2013
And so it's time to relax. Well, okay, it's actually time to catch up on the many things that I got behind on in the run-up to opening night. So, not really relaxing.
But I should be able to get to bed earlier tonight.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Not for long, though, because we have to get home, do some cleaning, have dinner, and get to the theater for my rehearsal; Karen gets to pick up boys when she gets off work, and Tom gets to bring me home tonight.
Monday, July 22, 2013
William's swim lessons were cancelled because of the weather, not because of the rain, but because of rumbles of thunder. Can't argue with that; you don't want to get caught in a large body of water when there's lightning.
And poor Karen: this is her last of two days off.
I don't think I've ever hated the rain as much as I do right now.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Thursday, July 18, 2013
And taking on two online courses: "The Geospatial Revolution" and another session of songwriting to goose myself to pay more attention to my songs.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
William wasn't too keen on going, but ended up having a wonderful time. Goes to show that when a twelve-year-old says he isn't interested in something, it's best to go according to history instead of listening to his story.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
The ice cream is in a freezer in tubs. You pick a tub and put your money in a slot in the wall. It's all on the honor system.
Is the ice cream worth the trip? Well, the ice cream plus the experience, absolutely.
Friday, July 05, 2013
Just getting out of town was a major accomplishment. Now we are home, safe from the invaders.
Until the next trip.
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
It's not unusual, but it's sort of a surprise because this pattern hasn't been around for awhile. But I remember when we first got a house here, it was just part of the normal routine. Some of the afternoon showers would obliterate our satellite reception. That's not a problem now, since we have neither satellite not cable (we rely on the Internet, NetFlix, and Hulu Plus for our entertainment, which seems to be more than enough and it's much cheaper).
But the thunderstorms can have some pretty spectacular effects. For example, our rehearsal Sunday night at the theater when the building sort of got struck by lightning. Okay, when I say "sort of," I'm not being equivocal. I don't think the building itself actually got struck by lightning, because there was no fire. Or at least the building itself did not catch on fire. But there was a very loud explosion, and then the fire alarm system went crazy. Which is because the circuit box for the fire alarm was the source of the loud explosion.
We evacuated, not in a panic because there wasn't any actual flame, and we wanted to see what we could do to protect our beloved theater before we left it. It was pouring rain outside and we all got thoroughly soaked. The building seems to be okay. I think that a wire adjacent to the alarm wire (that sends a signal to the fire department) got struck, and the alarm got fried by induction.
We can still rehearse, but the wiring is going to have to be checked out and the alarm system fixed before we can put on a show, which we are scheduled to do in 31 days. This is the kind of excitement I can do without. I'll know more, I think, when we get together Wednesday night for rehearsal.
The weather is also making a mess of Karen's build schedule for the trailer, though she does have mornings off for a few days coming up, and the mornings have been mostly dry.
And outside construction is also proceeding slowly. But perhaps this pattern will change (it usually does at some point, though not any particular, predictable point) and we'll have warm, dry days for outside activity once more.
The drawing camp is only this week, but we'll continue drawing throughout the summer, and, I hope, far beyond.
Monday, June 24, 2013
Friday, June 21, 2013
So, in a way, my summer doesn't start until tomorrow.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
In the fall, William will be catching the bus at the same time as the high school students, more than an hour earlier than he did this past year, than Danny will for the next two years. In fact, Danny and William won't be attending the same school now until William is a Junior in high school.
Should make life interesting.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
I've missed them, but I'm glad they had a good time. Karen took at least some pictures (I know because she actually sent me three from her phone, a rare treat), so those will be showing up on the site over the coming week.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Ah, the bachelor life!
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I'm not going; tent camping is not my best thing anyway, and I have rehearsal on Sunday night, for which I would like to have had a decent night's sleep. I'll miss them an awful lot, though.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Saw "Now You See Me," which had great acting and a cool concept, but a lot of annoyances for someone with both a film background and an interest in stage magic.
But the food was surprisingly good, and the company was perfect.
Monday, June 10, 2013
William did a game of chance, carnival-style. The prizes were duct tape wallets and roses that he made with a little help from Karen. Each wallet came with a fake dollar that had instructions on the back for making an origami heart from a real dollar bill (well, the fakes would work too, even if they are a bit on the small side).
William did quite well, and there's still two days to go. He might consider selling duct tape wallets in the future for real money. We'll let everyone know.
Sunday, June 09, 2013
Saturday, June 08, 2013
Friday, June 07, 2013
I can make some headway on the taillights today, measuring to see how much more wire I'm going to need to add for the extensions we've built on and researching modifications to the Forester's electrical for hooking the whole thing up, without actually having to venture out, although I do have to go out in the rain for other errands.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
I also had to move a couple of screws in the frame that were right where one of the bolts is supposed to go. I had to use my neighbor's right-angle pneumatic drill, which meant firing up my noisy little compressor and trying not to get my finger smashed between the frame and one of the storage boxes.
But I accomplished that much of the mission and got all the holes and countersinks done. I also got two bolts in before I had to leave for rehearsal, so I've just got to put in the remaining six bolts. Easy, right?
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Danny had three, and I had two. So Danny wins the tick contest.
And I think he hurts a whole lot less than I do.
Monday, June 03, 2013
Today was much calmer. It rained, a bit, but it also cooled down, a lot. Tomorrow should bring more cool air, without the rain. Which is good, because the trailer is finally outside where we can start assembling the sides.
Sunday, June 02, 2013
We have a lot of plans already, and I haven't even gotten started. I just recently ordered the proof copies of the print version of Danny's Kitten, and I wasn't satisfied. Not the printer's fault; the pictures weren't at a high enough resolution, and the text wasn't as readable over the pictures as I wanted it to be. So back tot he drawing board on that one. But I've been through it once, so it shouldn't take as long the second time.
This summer we will get William's book to press if I have to chain Thomas to a chair, only giving him food breaks between drawings. It's a wonderful book, with wonderful illustrations (the ones that are finished, anyway), and I am determined to get it done!
Thomas is also supposed to be working on a book of his own. We're creating a mini publishing empire, here! And that's more or less the point. We're taking off in a different direction which, we hope, will lead us to some of the old creative spark that we had in our previous life.
Meanwhile, there's lots of personal projects. I have to finish the front deck and build the back one this summer. There's lot of interior finish to do as I get money for materials. And, of course, there's Karen's camping trailer.
The boys and I also have some plans for learning over the summer. There's a couple of boring old school subjects that they need to sharpen—especially spelling—but there's also stuff like robotics (digging out my old Lego Mindstorms kits) and stop-motion animation. Mixed in with plenty of outdoor activities, including swimming, kayaking, hiking, and cycling.
Something tells me summer is going to seem very short this year.
Saturday, June 01, 2013
But now my stint at Measured Progress is done, and I'm preparing for a summer of playing stay-at-home Dad, teacher, and camp counselor to William and Daniel.
And I mean that last part; we've got a lot of activities planned to make summer more fun, and at the same time more productive. You'll hear more about it here and on the main blog.
Without the two week gaps. I promise.
Monday, May 20, 2013
And no, I won't miss the commute.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
If the weather cooperates, we'll get as far as the varnishing tomorrow. If not, at least Karen has the weekend off.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Now, the usual procedure for getting at the bottom one is to jack the car up and get at it from underneath. And I have an excellent jack and jack stands. But I also have a dirt driveway, and my excellent jack keeps sinking into the dirt, which keeps me from getting the jack stands under the car.
I tried for more than an hour to get the bottom bolt loose from above, but there's just no leverage from there. Tomorrow I will try putting a nice stout board under my jack to see if that will work. But at the end of the day today I have a pair of greasy hands and some bruises on my knuckles, neither of which will get my car started.
I did manage to hang our new hand-cranked pencil sharpener in the basement stairwell, at least, so we don't have to worry about our on-its-last-legs electric sharpener. So the day wasn't a total loss.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Oh yes, the pictures are smaller. But if you click on the daily picture, or the picture from the past, you'll get a full-sized version. Just use the "BACK" button on your browser to get back to our page. The food and art pictures, and the new picture of Karen's trailer project, all lead to Picasaweb galleries.
And you might notice that there are fewer options on the navigation bar. That's because I wanted to make room for creating more links to on-site pages instead of other sites. The links to the sites will be back, but on another page. If you're looking for them, in the meantime, they are:
GSBrooks.com, my personal site;
On a Smaller Scale, Karen's craft site, where we plan to post a lot more content this summer; and
The Books Bunch, the new home for the books we're selling, the future home of some other self-published work, and also some links to books we love and recommend.
Changes will comes slowly, but they will come. And each change will bring more to see from The Brooks Bunch.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Unfortunately, our local lumber dealers wanted a fortune for the 1/2-inch, and our more local big-box hardware store only had 1/4-inch (which she'll be using for the roof, since it has to curve) and 3/4-inch (which is just too heavy).
So off to Somersworth we went. But for our troubles, we came home with two sheets of plywood that will soon be the floor and under-floor storage compartments for the trailer.
Oh, and we got to treat ourselves to lunch at Taco Bell.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
And so I received one. And I already feel much more stable on my feet.
And that's what I call relief.
Monday, April 29, 2013
At the same time, I'm studying lines for the next play at the Village Players.
And still writing, of course. No wonder I'm tired.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Meanwhile, there will be lots for both Thomas and me to do before they call us back to work in mid-May. The next two weeks may not be profitable, but I'm going to try to ensure that they are productive.
Monday, April 22, 2013
The boys and I went to the movies today, to see The Croods.
What did I think? Well, the boys liked it.
I also submitted the final recording for my songwriting course. All that's left to do is evaluate the submission of at least five of my fellow students, and then wait to see what the final results are.
And after that? I've signed on for a writing course, which partly overlaps a physics course. I don't believe in giving learning a rest.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
And then next week it's back to acting, with the read-through of Hello ... Is Any Body There? I get to play Sir Malcom, whose wife writes murder mystery novels.
I have a songwriting assignment due Monday, and I'm not quite there with it yet, and I was trying to sort out the lyrics in my head. This is how I do much of my writing. I get a lot of the mental part done while I'm working, as my job requires far too little mental effort.
And so, this is how I started my 57th year. So where do I stand at this time in my life? Well, things could be better of course, but there are a lot of folks these days that are suffering financially. I have a roof over my head and plenty of good food to eat, and that by itself is a lot more than many people can say.
But I have so much more. This morning, over a breakfast of eggs, scrapple (a special treat I'd never have know about if I had not married a certain gorgeous New Jersey native), and toast made from home-made bread, my family gave me my gifts. The most expensive was a tall bottle of maple syrup purchased from a workmate of Karen's who puts up this local liquid gold every year. The rest of the gift bag was filled with little food treats from the dollar store, including banana chips and Whoppers malted milk balls. I couldn't have asked for more.
Today, my family will be taking me out to a very early dinner, because I am scheduled to do lights and sound for a marvelous show at the Village Players. Karen is attending the show tonight, so we will get to hang out with the cast and crew before and after the show together. That's what I call a celebration.
And sometime during all of it, I need to work on my song, and help Karen with the construction of her camping trailer. Work? Yes. But both labors of love.
Now, anyone who has been following our page knows that I am limping along, literally, with an injured knee; a brand new offset aluminum cane is my companion whenever I leave the house. Certainly, this must be making me feel a little old. But as my first knee surgery was more than 40 years ago, when I was fifteen, this is pretty familiar territory.
And rather than viewing it as a sign of aging, I'm just annoyed at my knee for it's inconvenient sense of timing. The injury has made work, theater, and projects around the house go much slower. And the prospect of another surgery is mostly daunting from a financial and schedule perspective, but it's not unexpected.
And so, at 56, I might want some things to be much different than they are now, but I have a wonderful family, and some exciting, creative things to do. All in all, a good life.
And I've managed to avoid the word for about ten paragraphs now, but it's time I gave in.
Yes, today is my birthday.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Saturday, April 06, 2013
I'm actually working on my songwriting assignment on my phone while watching.
And yes, I know I repeated myself about my knee injury; I really should read my past posts before I write a new one. (Insert appropriate emoticon here.)
But all but one are good things, and a couple are quite exciting. I'll explain more in a later entry on the family blog, but here's a quick list: a show at the theater, for which I am serving as assistant director and manning the booth; a songwriting course, currently at week five of six; and returning to work full-time. The one bad part? I injured me knee and am walking with the aid of a cane. Kind of shows me down.
But more news coming on all of these as the chaos winds down over the next three weeks.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
And that's what I'm going to do, because I am also going to get up and go to work tomorrow.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
But given the recent weather prediction track record, I'm not counting on it.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
But as has so often happened this year, the storm didn't live up to predictions. We were supposed to get a few inches of heavy rain, but mostly we got drizzle. Nice for those out and about, but it doesn't melt much snow.
Karen and I stayed inside, treated ourselves to a nice hot lunch, and began the work of assembling the base trailer for what will eventually become a compact camper.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Karen and I got the chance to go out for lunch and to spend a little time at the library. We also picked up food for our dinner, which was soft tacos and nachos tonight.
We're clearing out some room in the basement to start assembling Karen's new trailer, so we don't have to wait for the snow to clear (although, with temperatures in the 40s and rain on the way, it may be gone sooner than we think).
It sounds outlandish, building a trailer in the house, but the frame is only 40 inches wide and the trailer with wheels only about 19 inches tall, so it will go out the basement kitchen door without any trouble. The camper part of it is much bigger, but that we will definitely wait to build until we can work outside.
Saturday, March 09, 2013
With my knee injury just two weeks old, walking is more tiring than I expected, and venturing into a new pet store having it's grand opening was very disconcerting. I felt as though I had to grab the shelves for support to keep from twisting my knee.
But I survived, though I am very ready for bed. Shame I lose an hour tonight. Thank you so much, Congress.
Friday, March 08, 2013
And then, if predictions hold, Monday and Tuesday will bring rain, washing away some of our snow.
It's early, I know, but I'm ready for Spring.
Saturday, March 02, 2013
I have to watch video lectures, complete quizzes, and submit assignments for peer review. I also have to review the work of five other students. The class goes for six weeks, with about six to eight hours of work for each week's lessons.
It's a little scary; not only has it been several decades since I took any classes, but I've never taken any college classes. But I have little to lose and a lot to gain, so I'm diving in.
It made for a very harrowing ride home. My car is currently disabled (it needs a new starter), and Tom's doesn't do particularly well on icy roads, so, leaving the boys with Tom for the day, I rode in with Karen on Thursday to see if I could get her car fixed.
Every place I went was either booked or wanted way too much money to even look at the car, and Karen was due at another store at 1:00 for training. While I was looking for someone to repair the car, I was also looking online for information on how to do the repair myself. Much to my chagrin, I found some.
And so, while Karen was inside the Epping store learning about a new cabinet line, I was outside taking her car apart. Not the whole car, just the part under the windshield. I successfully disassembled the cover over the windshield wiper motor and linkage and diagnosed the problem. I went to the auto parts store nearby and found that the part I need can only be ordered from a dealer.
And the dealer nearest to Epping is in Manchester. Sigh.
So while Karen learned, I did some more reading, and found out that there are some workarounds to using the original part. I couldn't fix the car Thursday, but I could by Friday.
And I did, eventually. And temporarily. With the whole assembly on the kitchen table. Using wire ties. It will all be fine as long as the snow isn't too heavy, until I can get either the original part or a usable substitute. Then I get to pull it all apart again.
Okay, I admit it is kind of satisfying to take something that doesn't work and figure out how to make it work. But honestly, I miss the days when the most important tool in my kit was enough money to pay a good mechanic.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Before the snow came, we managed a nice trip to Concord, where we saw Escape From Earth, and Salem, where we had a nice late lunch and spent some time in both the Microsoft Store and the Apple Store (without buying anything from either place). We also failed to get See's candy at the Lord & Taylor there, but that's a long an annoying story.
The boys have the coming week off from school. So I don't think I'll be getting very much work done.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
In less painful news, Karen ordered the trailer that will be the base for her teardrop camping trailer. She's very excited!
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
I seem to be healing, though, and I'll be back at the computer for awhile today, getting a few things caught up.
Right about now, I wish I lived in a one-story house.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I think I'm swearing off forecasts.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
The boys and I spent a lot of the afternoon shoveling the snow left from Nemo, which has turned mostly to ice (the hardest part is at the road where the town snow plow leaves us with a nice, hard, icy mound to widen for the cars). Thomas cleared the snow away from my car, which was the last to be attended to because it currently isn't running. It needs a new starter, and I'm ordering a service manual to see if I can do it myself, because although the labor wouldn't amount to too much, the towing to get it to my mechanic would.
I used to do all kinds of repairs on my car, once upon a time before cars got more complex than computers.
Thomas got a call and has a job interview on Monday; we all have our fingers crossed.
And we had clam chowder for dinner. I make a very simple chowder with canned clams that only takes me about 45 minutes to cook, including dicing the potatoes. I also ran a batch of dough through the bread maker so we had a fresh loaf to go with dinner.
All-in-all a pretty typical Saturday. Next Saturday begins the boys' winter vacation, and Karen will be home, which makes it anything but typical. And that's something to look forward to.
This camper will be built on a utility trailer, and it will be only four feet wide, eight feet long, and four feet high (from trailer bed to roof). It will be made out of plywood, for the most part, with a target weight of less than 500 pounds.
Karen has been having a wonderful time researching the construction of the trailer, and corresponding with other teardrop trailer owner/builders who are more than willing to share their stories and discoveries. There is actually a very large community and lots of gatherings.
Of course I, not being the camping sort, will only be going along for the ride. Well, sort of; I am expected to help with the construction, and especially the wiring. Expect more news about this venture very soon.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Monday, February 11, 2013
It put a bit of a damper (sorry) on the plans that Karen and I had for a day in town. I had to go in anyway to mail some packages from eBay sales, but the weather was much too wet and miserable for it to be fun. But I did pick up some delicious Chinese food, so it wasn't a total loss.
Tomorrow, a dryer and warmer day is predicted. We'll see how that turns out.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Saturday, February 09, 2013
Shoveling out was something of an adventure, and Karen couldn't make it to work (oh, darn), but in general this bit of New Hampshire Winter has left us unscathed. We even got a terrific lunch out of it; Karen created a turkey pot pie with a dumpling topping that made our mouths water and our tummies warm and happy.
Friday, February 08, 2013
We're prepared with flashlights, extra water, food, ice blocks for the refrigerator, and plenty of books to read and games to play. Karen, unfortunately, has to go to work. With luck the plow trucks from the town will get to our obscure little corner before she has to leave. I'm glad she has all-wheel drive. I wish everyone did.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Saturday, February 02, 2013
Thomas will turn 23 as well. He is currently downloading all of the software he lost to a computer virus, and so I don't think he's thinking quite that far ahead at the moment. Lucky he had a computer guru in the house, because he was getting some mighty bad advice from the Internet, including tech support from both Microsoft and Acer.
And me? I'm trying to jam as much stuff onto eBay as I can while they are having a free listing special. So, although my computer is doing just fine, I am still spending way too much time in front of it.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
So what's in store next? Well, the temperature is going to fall as the day goes on. So when the kids get out of school this afternoon, it will be approaching freezing. And the overnight low is supposed to be 22.
How is a person supposed to keep up?
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Monday, January 28, 2013
But it's going to be warmer tomorrow. And raining on Wednesday. Weird Winter, this.