Thursday, February 27, 2014

Back On the Ice

Today, for the first time in almost two years, Daniel and William got back on ice skates. I expected that, after a wobbly start and some falls, they would get the hang of it. And I was right. Except for the wobbly part. Or the falling part. It was as though they'd never left.

The boys had decided not to take lessons this year, or last. I was going to get them season passes, but the only public skating hours at our local rink are on the weekend, when I don't always have a car available, or during school, when the boys have, you know, school. But at least I got them there once this season, and seeing how much they enjoyed it, I will do my best to squeeze in one more session before the season ends.

Oh, yes, I forgot to mention: most of the skating rinks in this area are only open in the Winter. This threw me off when we first moved here, because Thomas used to take lessons year-round in California. To do that here, I would have to drive to a rink nearly 30 miles away. The boys aren't that passionate about skating.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Vacation Begins

Today was the first official day of Winter vacation for the boys, although they got an early start, not only from the weekend, but from a snow day (more like an ice day, actually). That means I have the boys at home with me for the next six days, having already (by the end of the day today) had them for four. Karen, at least, was home for two of those days.

But it does make it hard to get things done; the boys could just amuse themselves, of course, but that would inevitably lead to an entire vacation consisting of nothing but TV and Minecraft (a computer game that a whole lot of people seem to be addicted to—yours truly not included).

I have, at least, gotten William interested in a program called Mine-imator, which lets you animate using Minecraft characters and primitives, so maybe I can turn his obsession into something creative. Danny started doing some Lego stop-motion animation over the summer; I might be able to get him interested in that again.

And I'm going to try to take the boys skating (if I can find skates that fit Daniel), and swimming. And they have some reading to do. So that will give me time for writing, if nothing else. And almost everything I need to do starts with writing, so that will help.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On the Difficulty Of Getting Pictures In February

Keeping up on pictures isn't easy this time of year. It's not that the Brooks family isn't doing anything, it's just that most of what we are doing isn't very picturesque. And how many times can I post photos of my boys playing in the snow or swimming in the indoor pool?

And when something interesting to photograph does come along, such as Danny's Crossover ceremony, it has to take place in the dark during snowfall, when the pictures I take are either blurry (though sometimes interesting—I actually ended using one of them), or dotted with snowflakes obscuring Danny's face.

We spend a lot more time indoors, especially this year when the weather has been so frigid. And right now our house isn't very picturesque, either, because we're trying to get some indoor construction projects moving ahead, and sorting through a lot of the excess we've been storing for, in some cases, a couple of decades, to weed out the things that are never going to get used.  Again, not a very interesting photo op.

Nor are any of my activities much to look at; I am spending a lot of time sitting at one computer or another writing. The results are cool, but the activity itself is hardly photogenic.

On the other hand, the scarcity of picture choices does force me to be more creative. And that in itself makes the effort worthwhile.

I just hope the results will be worth looking at. I leave that for you to decide.

More White

I think it's possible that shoveling snow is my least favorite activity right now. We got another storm, which dropped about ten inches of the cold, fluffy stuff on us. The fluffy stuff is not very hard to deal with, even though my snow thrower has on flat tire.

But with these deep snows comes the ice and dirt that the town plows throw into the end of the driveway. If I'm lucky, the plow pile come before I start to shovel, and only accounts for the last eighteen inches or so between our house and the road.

If I'm unlucky, and I often am, the plow comes after we've done the shoveling, and launches a pile that reaches back five or more feet into the drive. It takes a very long time to get through that; most of it my snow thrower won't handle at the best of times.

Fortunately, no one has to go out early tomorrow; Karen has the day off, Tom doesn't go to work until late afternoon, and Danny has an after-school club. We're going to pick up William and let him do some swimming and spend some time in the library before we pick up Danny.

If it isn't snowing too much. It might snow tomorrow afternoon. Again.

But there are only 31 days until Spring.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Tonight Daniel and I joined five other Weblos Scouts and their parents, along with a few younger Cubs and almost the entire Boy Scout troop, onto the snowy fields behind the Den Leader's house. It was snowing lightly, but it was not too cold, in the mid-twenties.

With a bonfire crackling in the background, Daniel crossed the ceremonial bridge, to leave the Cub Scouts behind, and to be welcomed into his new troop by the Scout Master and his new fellow Scouts.

The ceremony was not so solemn as it sounds. The boys, ages 11 and 12, were as silly as I expect boys to be, and although they are all looking forward to joining the older Scout troop, they were more interested in snowball fights, eating the potluck dinner, and playing on the ceremonial bridge afterwards, not to mention going down into the Den Leader's basement to play video games by the warmth of the wood stove.

But tonight I no longer have any young cubs in my house. Daniel is growing up. And I, for one, could not be happier about it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Winter is not over in New Hampshire, and one look outside confirms that. As does the early arrival of William and Daniel from school; they had a half day because of the snow, which is now falling in earnest and accumulating far faster than anything in my bank account.

The boys are happy, because they get a short day instead of a day they have to make up at the end of the year. I'm happier than I would have been with a snow day, because there was at least a little time in the morning to write.

And at the same time I'm not terribly happy for reasons having nothing to do with school and everything to do with shoveling snow and moving it around with a capricious piece of machinery known around these parts as a snow thrower.

Which, in order to keep up on, I will have to do at least partly in the dark.

Meanwhile, in Burbank, California, it's 79 degrees under mostly sunny skies. And I'm right there, in spirit.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Video

Karen and I finally released a new craft video on our YouTube channel. It's been such a long time that I'd kind of lost my touch for editing them. But after a couple of days of hacking away at it, I've seem to have gotten the hang of it.

Here it is:

We're already working on the next one, a Leprechaun bear.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


Assembled the footage from the video Karen and I did today. Now I have to trim it down from about an hour to about three minutes. And then write and record narration. I think I can do that much tomorrow, although the incoming snow storm may slow things down a little.

We'll be okay as long as we don't lose power. The boys will likely be home from school, and there will be lots of snow to move throughout the day, but with an all-day storm like this there is no sense in doing substantial work until it starts to die down—or until someone needs to get their car out to go to work.

I also recorded a new song today, called "Bad News Always Comes In the Mail." It's posted here.

Danny had his last ever Cub Scout Pack Meeting tonight; after he does his crossover ceremony, he'll officially be a Boy Scout. It remains to be seen if he wants to continue with scouting; William decided not to after a year and a half of Boy Scouts, but part of the reason is that all of his friends had either left scouting or left the area.

Danny and William are very different boys anyway, so it could go either way.

I have to start getting ready for bed now; although I don't expect the boys to have school tomorrow, the weather predictions have missed the mark a few times this season, and so I have to be prepared for either situation.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Being Productive

For the first time in two years, Karen and I are doing another craft video. I shot all the footage today, and I expect that I will be able to get the video up on YouTube by Wednesday. Karen also made kits of the project that we will be trying to sell on a Web site called "Fiverr."

That was the morning. We also managed to have lunch out together, spend a little time at the library with William (between the time he gets out of school and the time Danny gets out of school), and take the boys swimming at the pool.

And we all made dinner together, and Karen even managed to make a delicious dessert. All in all a very busy day.

But I'm just about ready for bed; Karen's back to work tomorrow, and I have a lot of editing to do, and, with any luck at all, some recording; I just finished a new song.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Groundhog Day

It's the second of February, and there's nary a shadow to be seen in our neck of the woods. I don't know if the groundhog has a good track record, but after a few bitterly cold spells it's sort of comforting.

Our winter hasn't been so bad. The cold has been interspersed with, well, not-quite-so-cold (by New Hampshire standards). There is hardly any snow on the ground, although we still have some impressive shovel piles. I'm not saying that we won't be getting more snow before (and even during) Spring, but we certainly have not gotten hit nearly as hard as some of the states west and south of us.

And indoor day for us, mostly, with craft projects and house projects to work on, and Karen at home today and tomorrow. And though it's cloudy, it's not cold, so we won't be shivering our way through this one.