Wednesday, December 09, 2015

No More Little Boys

None of my sons can really be called a child anymore. Danny turned 13 on Sunday, and now he's just a rotten teenager. Okay, not so rotten, but there sure is a lot of testosterone in the house these days.

Danny had some unusual birthday requests. Dunkin’ Donuts. Eyewinkers. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with Velveeta cheese added. Stir fry vegetables.

William made a Boston Cream Pie for dessert, which Danny didn't request, but enjoyed anyway.

It was a low-key day for such a momentous occasion, but we all enjoyed ourselves. Danny will have his official party sometime soon, when we can coordinate an outing for Laser Tag with a couple of his friends.

Meanwhile, it's back to the routine, and watching my songs grow so fast I can't keep up. In fact, I can't keep up, because very soon I'm going to end up being the shortest person in the family.

Which is not so bad. I guess.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving At Home

Hope everyone had a good day today. We all have most of the week off, and we decided not to venture out into the horrendous holiday traffic this year. We also decided on a fairly unconventional menu for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Oh, there were a couple of traditional favorites, including twice-baked potatoes and baked stuffed clams on the half-shell (a Hardenbergh tradition that the Brooks family has taken a shine to). There was cranberry sauce, too, though not from a can. This year, the boys got to visit a cranberry bog in Massachusetts, and we brought home some free fresh cranberries. Karen found a recipe for crock pot cranberry sauce, and I'm told it turned out very nicely. I don't care for cranberries, so I can't judge.

Karen also put the crock pot to good use today by making a crock pot pumpkin pie. It didn't come out much like a pie, with a bread-like texture despite having no flour, but it was very tasty and worth repeating.

Rotisserie chicken was the main course, since we roasted a turkey recently and still have frozen leftovers from that. It also simplified an already hectic cooking schedule. William and Thomas provided chocolate dessert dishes; William made truffles, and Thomas made a truffle pie. The pie was so rich that we're saving the truffles for tomorrow.

Another experiment on the menu was a spinach soufflĂ©.  We've long been fans of Stouffer's frozen spinach soufflĂ©, but we don't seem able to find it in the stores around here anymore. So Karen looked up some recipes that purport to be good substitutes, and indeed the one she chose was very close. With a tiny bit more salt and more finely-chopped spinach, it would have been perfect. That one's a keeper.

As I'm sure is true of many families, we are all happily stuffed, and have lots of leftover food to carry us through the rest of the week. We'll be out for walks tomorrow to work off some of the excess calorie intake, and it looks as though we'll have some good weather for it.

And we intend to enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Wave

Usually by now our heat has been on for a week, and has spent most of that time making up for the previous couple of weeks, trying to warm up the walls of the house so that it can, finally, start keeping us warm.

But we've been fortunate this past week, and New England has experienced a warm spell that's allowed us to delay the heating bills, and left us with a house that's no so cold.

Now, I should explain to my California friends and family that a warm spell in New England in November means overnight lows above freezing and daytime highs above 50, so don't think we're sweltering here. Although one day got up to nearly 70.

So it was really more of a heat wave.

Well, the wave has crested, crashed on the shore, and withdrawn to sea, just to abuse that metaphor completely, and it's now decidedly chilly, so I'll be bringing up the heat between today and tomorrow.

But this year, we won't be sitting around shivering, waiting for the house to warm up. It's already reasonably comfortable, and the heater only needs to maintain that temperature to keep our teeth from chattering.

For the time being. After all, it's not winter yet.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Trailer's Last Ride

Our trailer is done for the season. It's first long voyage took it 150 miles to southern Massachusetts and 150 miles back. Karen and I slept in it, cozy though a little cramped, and it hauled all of our soft goods, plus the canopy that protects it from the rain while at camp.

And it almost made it without incident. The ride back was through Boston, and in Boston there are some very bumpy roads. And when we stopped at the New Hampshire Welcome Center along I-95, we noticed that the tongue extension that I had built just a little more than a month ago was, in fact, bent. Yes, Barry, if you are reading this, you were right.

It didn't keep us off the road, and the trailer came home just fine, but it will have to be replaced with something stronger before next Spring, when camping season starts again. Oh well. It was my design, and I'm amazed that it worked at all.

The camping, on the other hand, was worth the trip and the bent tongue. Lots of great conversation, lots of singing around the very big campfire, terrific food, and even a fun side trip to a working cranberry farm, where the boys actually got to put on waders and walk down into the bog.

Now it's back to real life: house projects (before the snow comes), creative projects, work, and school.

And just trying to stay warm. Good luck with that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Long Time

I know, it's been a long time since I updated this blog. It's not even that I haven't had time to sit at the keyboard and write. It's just that, when I do, I'm usually writing something else. Like the book I just published, called Voices On Fiverr, a little e-book about buying and selling voiceover services on the freelancer's site

Home life was quite hectic until just this week, when Fall sports wrapped up. I don't know if there will be any winter sports. Skiing and the like are too expensive, and neither of my sons seems interested in basketball this season. I think they'd like a break from the schedule, which left little time for anything but practice and homework.

This week we're getting ready for a trip to southern Massachusetts, to camp on a friends property. We're taking the trailer on its first highway trip, which is a little nerve-wracking, but I think it will perform just fine. This will be the last camping trip until Spring.

Now that things are settling down a little, although I do have the usual house projects to continue working on (even outdoor ones, until serious snow comes), I plan to do a lot more writing, and especially songwriting.

If you haven't heard all of my songs, be sure to check them out on SoundCloud. I'll have more coming soon. And before too long, as soon as I find a place to shoot, I'll be putting up videos of myself singing my own songs on YouTube. I don't know if anyone really wants to see this old balding guy with glasses singing, but YouTube has a bigger audience than SoundCloud, and so I think I need to give it a try.

Meanwhile, life in New Hampshire goes on. The gorgeous fall foliage will soon turn to bare branches, followed by snow that needs to be shoveled and thrown.

So I'd better get to work!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Skipping Pictures

You've seen a few repeat pictures on the site lately, and I have only one excuse: sickness. Nothing serious, just some little virus that produces sore throats, runny noses, and a bit of a cough. But there's a funny thing about being sick: nothing anyone is doing is particularly photogenic.

We're all recovering, and there will be more visually interesting activities comings up, I assure you. As we feel better, we'll be resuming work on the trailer and the deck, and the kids will get back to sports and such. Karen and I have a few fun side trips planned for her days off while the weather is still nice.

And sometime in the near future there will be the usual pictures related to the weather.

But if you don't mind, I'd rather not think about that just yet.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Camping, With Trailer

We did it! We managed to get the trailer road-ready for the camping trip. It was an adventure getting it to that point, and it's still far from finished, but we towed it 15 miles to Milton, and 15 miles home, and it's safely back in its little shed, having slept two for two nights.

It really came down to the wire. That trailer tongue I wrote about in the last post turned out to be a much bigger deal than I thought it would be; no one in New Hampshire could get me the metal piece on time. But after I had left one fabrication shop, stopping for lunch on my way to a scrap yard, it occurred to me that there might be another way.

I headed back to the fabricator, and asked him how much he would charge to take a slightly thinner piece of stock and add flat plates to it at selected spots, and drill the holes for me. It was reasonable, and so the next day, I brought in a template for the holes.

The day after that, the piece wasn't quite ready for me to pick up, and the fabricator had to leave it outside his shop for Karen to pick up after hours. She brought it home. I slid it into the existing tongue. The holes didn't line up at all.

But it was okay; the piece isn't symmetrical, and I just had it upside-down. When I turned it the right way, it fit perfectly. I finished installing it and setting up lights and last-minute hardware at, well, the last minute.

William had a soccer game on Friday, so we towed the trailer to the site, then left to pick him up at the high school. Our fellow trailer fans were amazed that we actually came with a trailer!

We have a lot to do before the trailer goes on its next trip—all the way to southern Massachusetts—but we made it this time, and we'll be ready for the next time.

But now we just need to pack, have dinner, and collapse, because it's back to school for the kids early in the morning.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Countdown To Camping

In just a few days, we're going to an annual camping event near our home, with our fellow trailer campers. Except that, up to this point, we haven't had a trailer to bring along. But this time we are determined to make it happen.

We're so close! I little wiring, some door hardware, a few extra screws here and there, and we have a trailer. But there is one hang-up: we don't have a tongue.

Well, we do, but it's hidden under the front of the trailer, and we have to extend it. And getting the extension fabricated has turned out to be a bigger deal than we thought. It's not terribly expensive. It just seems to be really hard to find someone with access to the right piece of steel who will actually get back to us about doing it. We keep thinking we have leads, and they don't pan out.

This time, though, I think we've got it. A good friend of mine from the theater has a drill press, and I have several places I can look for the steel stock. If I have to drive all over New Hampshire tomorrow, I'm going to get that piece of steel. (Does that make me a steel-driving man? Never mind.)

Once I have that in hand and get the holes drilled, it's just a matter of sliding it into place and installing four bolts and some washers, and then we can tow the trailer.

If I don't get it, we'll never hear the end of it, and I'll be sleeping in a tent. Again.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Karen's Birthday!

Yesterday, Karen had a birthday celebration at home. She had the day off, and decided to spend part of it working on her trailer. Meanwhile, William and I put some finishing—well, not exactly finishing, but advancing—touches on the back deck so that she could safely get out onto it, with chairs and a couple of small tables, to have her birthday dinner of shish kabob and fresh corn on the cob.

There were no rails on the deck, but it is big enough at about 9X10 feet that we all felt safe sitting on it, except Tom who decided to eat by the window, close enough for conversation but not hanging out eight feet above the ground.

Thomas made a delicious chocolate pie, and William made some rich chocolate fudge. Notice a theme here? All-in-all, while we didn't get the deck done, I think we gave Karen a nice birthday.

Tomorrow is back to school day, and also William's first home game as a member of the Kingswood Knights Junior Varsity Soccer Team. There was supposed to be a game Friday, but it was cancelled because the other school does not have enough players to field a junior varsity team.

It's going to be an interesting school year. Both boys have to be on the bus around 6:15 in the morning, and get home around 2:45, though William will no-doubt be staying after for soccer practice, and Daniel may be staying over for cross-country training and competition. I'm not sure how his schedule works yet.

We still have two cars for three adults, two of whom work retail, with unpredictable hours. It makes for a lot of drive time. Fortunately, the Wolfeboro Library has Internet-connected computers that I can use to keep up on writing if I have to wait in town for anything, though it doesn't help much with songwriting (library patrons tend to frown on people playing the guitar and singing unfinished songs while they're trying to read and study—go figure).

And as for the deck, the boards we put down for the birthday dinner will be unscrewed and laid aside while we put up the remaining posts and joists and build the framing for the stairs. I also am probably going to have to pour a concrete landing. But we're well underway, and we almost know what we're doing, and since I don't have to wait for an inspection, this shouldn't take long.

And least it seems that way now.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Countdown To Deck

With one week to go until the deck needs to be done, or at least done enough to eat Karen's birthday dinner on, I have footings! And that's about it. It took until Tuesday to get permission to pour, and so we are running at this point! Tomorrow I have to buy the lumber I don't already have, and all the hardware, and then, if the weather cooperates, I can erect the two beams and start attaching joists.

If the weather cooperates. The reports don't look good. As in thundershowers. At least the lumber is pressure-treated, so I don't have to worry about getting it home in the rain.

William had his first soccer games on Saturday down in Keene, about two hours away. No pictures, because we weren't there, but we'll see if we can manage some during his first home game on Friday. Meanwhile, he has practice every day leading up to the opening game.

I didn't get a role in Spamalot, which is probably for the better, but doesn't feel like it. The director put together a great cast, and I'm going to miss being part of it, but on the scheduling front it would have been a stretch. Perhaps the Spring play....

For now, though, I need to make a parts list for my shopping tomorrow, and see if I can get some actual construction done between downpours. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Endless Summer? Luckily, No.

Summer vacation is coming to a close, and the clock is ticking. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to sending William and Daniel back to school and actually getting some work done, but there is a lot to do before the end of the summer.

For one thing, Karen wants a new back deck for her birthday, which is precisely two weeks from today. Problem is, although I have these lovely four-foot holes in the ground with concrete forms in them, I can't actually add concrete to them until I get the inspector's okay. And, in our town, the building inspector is part-time, and often not in the office during his infrequent office hours.

So once I do get the go-ahead, I really have to go ahead. Concrete, posts, beams, joists, rails, decking, stair stringers. Yikes! It's going to be a busy couple of weeks.

And not just because of the deck. Although school doesn't start until September 1st, school sports, at least at the high school level, starts tomorrow. I think. I mean, it starts tomorrow, but I don't know if William, as a freshman soccer player, starts tomorrow. The whole process is kind of a minimum information puzzle. And I have no idea about Danny, who signed up for cross-country.

And there is a lot of paperwork to do before the kids return to school. Danny is going into Team Vista at the middle school, following in William's footsteps. The program was great for William, with lots of physical activity and team building. I hope Danny will get as much out of it.

But wait, there's more! As I said in an earlier post, Karen wants to have the trailer ready to sleep in for 11th of September. She's making good progress on the shell, but I still need to figure out the trailer tongue (which needs to be extended) and the wiring (which should actually be pretty easy).

And just because I don't have enough to do already, I auditioned tonight for the Village Players' fall musical, Spamalot, sort of based on the movies Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Life of Bryan. I have no idea if I got a part—there was a lot of great competition—but if I did, rehearsals start on Sunday with the read-through.

So, yeah, there are one or two things going on here in New Hampshire. But it's all the good stuff.

Sunday, August 09, 2015


The boys have, of course, been on vacation for about seven weeks. But during this summer, as is ordinarily the case, Karen only gets two long stretches to spend with them while they are off school. Her second one is coming to a close, and we've managed to have some fun, with one trip we always take, and something we've never done before.

The first was our annual (and sometimes twice annual) trip to Lower Falls on the Swift River, near Conway, New Hampshire. Karen and the boys like swimming in the cold water, and I like watching them from someplace warm and dry. We didn't get to go last year, because they were renovating the recreation area and had it closed all summer.

So, what do we think of the new version? Well, not so much, really. There are fewer trees, and so less shade, and it feels more tourist-oriented than it did before. Not only that, but with all the money they spent, the place still has pit toilets.

But the river itself is the same, so we'll continue coming back.

Now, on to the thing we've never done before. Tired of the boys retreating into their rooms to play games and watch videos on their computers, Karen decided it was time to have an event with some other families. She was watching some video herself, on building boats, when she came across some cardboard boat regattas. And an idea was born (and gestated very quickly).

We put out the word. We didn't get a lot of response, because it was all done with very short notice, but we did manage to get six boys to build four boats out of nothing but cardboard (from refrigerator boxes), duct tape, and zip ties. The boats were built on the beach, in less than an hour and a half. Each was built to have one pilot.

I paddled out in the kayak, set two buoys (plastic bottles weighed down by other plastic bottles full of rocks and water), and waited to start the race and makes sure everyone stayed safe.

When the whistle blew, the boys were off. Daniel took an early lead, and much to my surprise, his boat continued to float, and Daniel continued to paddle like a pro. That surprised me because Daniel has only piloted kayaks before, and the boys were only allowed single paddles (to prevent anyone getting bonked). But he switched his paddle from side to side, rounded both buoys, and made it almost to shore before capsizing, which was probably on purpose, just for fun.

Meanwhile, behind him, William was floundering a bit. His boat, which he built with his friend Nathan, stayed afloat, but sagged in the middle, leaving William struggling to paddle, or in fact to even see, as the prow of his boat came up past his face. But he managed a distant second.

The other two boats didn't fare so well, more because of bad luck that bad construction. William's friend Tom made it just around the first buoy when his foot went through the bottom of the boat, scuttling his vessel and forcing him to drag his creation to shore.

Our young friend Jackson, son of one of my theater friends, helped build a boat piloted by his even younger friend Ethan. Unfortunately, although their design was good, Ethan doesn't have a lot of experience with boats, and he tipped and took on water coming off the beach. Still, he made it to the first buoy, and valiantly attempted to save his ship and bring it ashore. Unfortunately, like all the boats, it ultimately ended up as a sodden pile of cardboard.

I was amazed that these creations floated at all. We had a wonderful time, so much so that we are planning a much bigger version of the regatta, probably as a charity event, next year. Sure beats sitting in front of a computer screen.

Monday, July 20, 2015


The month-old picture of William following his graduation is brought to you by yesterday's thunderstorm, which knocked out our Internet service, though fortunately not our power.

It's been a long time since I updated the blog, although there's been a lot going on since mid-June. I now longer have any grammar-school students in the house, just young men, one making his way in the work world (and trying to move up in it), one entering high school, and one entering middle school.

We've taken some of our favorite excursions, to the Castle In the Clouds, to some of the local ice cream makers, to Connecticut, where we visited the submarine museum and Fort Griswold and some fun eateries.

And, of course, the beach. It's that time of the year; in fact, two weeks of swimming lessons started today. William wanted to do junior lifeguard training, but the class was cancelled due to lack of interest. Instead, he and Danny are now taking the same class, both at the highest level the town offers.

Summer projects are in the works, including a back deck.. The deck needs to be done by Karen's birthday, because she wants to have her birthday dinner on it. She's been waiting a long time, so we're working away to make it happen. Right now, that work consists of digging four-foot-deep holes in our rocky back yard for footings. After the inspector inspects the holes (to make sure they're deep enough—some people cheat), we have to fill each with 200 pounds of concrete. Then we can actually start building the deck itself.

Karen's trailer is also on the agenda for the rest of the summer. We're trying to get it reasonably waterproof and road-worthy by the 11th of September, so we can take it camping at a nearby campground where we meet up with our fellow trailer builders each year. It won't look pretty by then, but at least it will finally put in an appearance.

That's keeping us busy enough, and of course, Karen and Tom are working, I'm picking up some freelance voiceover work and working on my first album of songs, and managing the schedules for everyone. With all there is to do, I think that Summer will fly by.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Absent Children

You might have noticed that the boys have been missing from the daily pictures for the past few days. This is because they have been away from home. William went on a three-day hiking and camping trip, and Daniel on an overnight stay at the Museum of Science in Boston.

Leaving Karen and me alone for several hours when she came home from work on Thursday, until Tom came home. How did it feel having the house all to ourselves? Wonderful!

Even before the boys went away, we managed to carve out a whole day for ourselves with a visit to the Castle In the Clouds, a mansion on a hill overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee that is loaded with amazing architectural features from the Arts and Crafts period. It also has paintings on the glass roundels in the doors and windows that have fascinated Karen and me since we first saw them about a year ago.

We have been trying to find out more about the artists, and the techniques used to create the paintings, which still have vivid colors after a hundred years of sunlight and New Hampshire winters. The artists are still a complete mystery, but we may have gained some insights into the technique after a visit with a stained glass artist in Vermont during our recent camping excursion. The folks the the Castle are very intrigued, and we will do what we can to keep them in the loop.

The boys are back now, with only three days of school left for William, and four for Daniel. We already have some outings planned, along with the usual swimming lessons and some creative projects at home. It's going to be a busy summer, with me struggling to carve out time for songwriting. I'm trying to launch a crowdfunding campaign so that I can record my first album of songs before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, it's back to life as usual. But Karen and I have had a taste of what life will be like when the kids move away, and I can tell you one thing: we won't run out of things to talk about.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Camping In Vermont

It's old news by now, but I haven't had much chance to catch my breath. Last weekend we went camping with our friends in the North Woods chapter of the Tearjerkers, who are very understanding about the fact that we don't have our trailer yet. Our hosts provided their front yard on seven acres of farmland in central Vermont, near Barre.

As usual, camping included a lot of singing around the campfire, lots of good food, and a chance to talk to friends that we don't see enough of, especially in the winter. But there were some unexpected treats as well.

On Saturday, Karen and I rode with the boys to a floating bridge in Brookfield, which had just been reopened after, apparently, some years. From there we went to Barre, looking for an interesting place to eat, and also for the longest zipper in North America. We found both.

The eatery was a diner along the downtown strip that serves wonderful burgers and shakes. The zipper is a 74-foot-long granite sculpture next to a gallery and studio complex. That was pretty cool, but not as cool as the granite sculpture of an easy chair sitting nearby. A sculpture you can actually sit in. And it's fairly comfortable.

And neither of those were as the fact that the studio complex was having an open house. We got to visit several artists in their studios: sculptors, painters, and even a stained glass artist who put us on to someone who might be able to help Karen with a technique she's been trying to track down for over a year. Karen got to talk art with professional artists for more than two hours. That was her big treat, though the boys enjoyed it too, and they even learned the proper way to cut glass.

But the big treat for William was still to come. Around 7:00 in the evening, he got to go over to one of our hosts' neighbors, who happens to own a 1941 Piper Cub. And William got to fly in it. It takes off and lands on a little grass airstrip, and William was out in it for around 15 minutes. He even got to take the controls for what he described as a "long 30 seconds." He had something to brag about at school on Tuesday!

Danny decided not to take the ride; the Piper's cockpit felt a little too close for him. It's a shame, because I think he would have enjoyed it, but I didn't push. When he's ready, he'll get a chance. Maybe even in the same plane, because our hosts promised to do this again. We're looking forward to it. The pictures will be slowly making their way onto the Web site over the next week or so.

By Tuesday I was sneezing and my throat was sore. I was figuring allergies and too much singing out of my key, but by Wednesday I knew better. I managed to squeeze in one song recording in Thursday for a class, which is good, because this morning my singing voice was just gone.

It'll be back, and I'm already feeling better.

Summer vacation will be upon us soon. William has a two-day camping trip in the White Mountains, and Danny has an overnight stay at the Museum of Science in Boston. Exciting ways to end the school year. I hope summer won't be boring by comparison.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

In Case You Missed Spring

We seem to have jumped from early Spring weather straight to early Summer weather without having experienced the lovely mid-Spring weather. It's a little disconcerting, because most of the other signs of mid-Spring are still here: the leaves haven't really come out yet, and the lakes are still too cold for all but the heartiest swimmers, to name just two.

But the temperatures have been hitting the eighties recently, which may not seem like anything to my California friends and family, but it's something of a sudden shock on the heels of days in the fifties.

I haven't even been able to get everyone in front of the camera to update the picture on the site, and it's annoying to look at it every morning and still see everyone in Winter gear. And who IS that bearded man on the left frame? That will get changed soon, though.

Spring vacation is behind us, and Summer vacation is looming a mere six weeks away. I'm already scrambling to schedule swimming lessons and figure out how I'm going to keep the boys out of my hair for ten weeks without just planting them in front of computer screens and game consoles.

I know that this wave of hot air will abate a little before the official start of Summer, but with the thermometer on the back porch reading over 90 (because it's in the sun, I know), it's really hard not to feel that Summer is coming upon me like a speeding train.

And I don't have the luxury of jumping off the track. I guess I'd better get running!

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Day to Dye For

Today was the last day of school before the week-long Spring vacation in our district. At William's school, that means that it's the end of Spirit Week. All week long there have been events and competitions, and on the last day, it's Team Spirit Week. William belongs to Team Vista, and the students are encouraged to wear the team color, purple. They have team T-shirts, but William decided to take it one step further.

He dyed his hair purple.

When he first came to me with the idea, I had only three concerns. One is that we make sure to do it safely, since dyeing dark hair like William's requires bleaching it first. The second was that we do it without making a mess. And the third was that we actually made sure we had enough time to do it.

Oh, how did I feel about my son having purple hair? Well, the way the Karen and I look at it, it's just another way for him to express himself, one that does no harm, and is not permanent. Piercings and tattoos are another matter, but the purple hair will disappear with his next summer haircut.

As for my other three concerns, Karen came to the rescue, did her research, and managed to squeeze it all in the night before, despite the fact that we'd had to take the car to the shop that day, and that Karen had not gotten off work until 6:30. Both long stories.

How did it turn out? You'll have to wait for the next Picture Of the Day to find out, unless you are one of the lucky recipients of Karen's email on the subject.

And if you missed that picture, it will show up in the Gallery (Pictures Of the Day Part 7) starting on the 27th of April.

Meanwhile, vacation has officially begun, and I have the boys at home for the next nine days. Karen has only two of those off, and several of them are predicted to be rainy days.

I don't think I'm going to get a lot of work done.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Warm Feeling

It's finally warm enough to open the windows and let in a little fresh air. Granted, there's still snow on the ground in places, but the stream next to the house is running, which can only mean that the ice is slowly melting (as George Harrison famously sang).

That means that instead of having to get on the treadmill for exercise, I can actually go for a walk. Soon, Karen will be able to swim in the lake instead of just the pool, and we'll be able to take out the kayaks and enjoy the water here at the pond.

Okay, not that soon. The pond is still almost completely frozen. But with a string of relatively warm days coming up, with above-freezing nights and some rain, that layer of solidified water will be liquid again, and the piles of dirty white stuff will be just a memory before we know it.

It's about time.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

New Jersey Trek

We took the long drive to New Jersey so that we could visit Karen's family over the Easter weekend. Going down wasn't bad—especially considering we made a stop in Westwood to pick up our chocolate bunnies from Conrad's—but the trip back was really long, with three accidents along I-84 in Connecticut. But I'm sure glad we made the trip.

It was great to see everyone again, and on the way to Easter dinner in Hillsborough, we all (and I mean all: five each from the three families, which rarely happens) met at the estate of the late Doris Duke for a nice, long walk around the Duke Farm. It was fascinating, and it felt good to be able to take a walk outside, even with the stiff breeze, without needing a winter coat and heavy gloves. We still have a substantial amount of snow on the ground here at home.

Dinner was wonderful, too, and we got lots of chances to talk together. The only bad part was that it just doesn't happen often enough.

We have a bit more snow today, though I'm hoping it's Winter's last gasp. At least that's what the weather-prdicting folk say, and I'm inclined to believe them, if only to preserve my own sanity.

Such as it is.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Boys Away!

Both of the boys were away last night, William at an overnight birthday party and Daniel at a cold-weather camping trip with the Scouts. It should have been a romantic evening for two at the Brooks house, but naturally Karen and I both have colds.

Nothing major, in fact mostly going away already, but it did put a crimp on the evening, which consisted mostly of sitting and watching TV and going to bed fairly early. But it was nice to have the quiet house in the morning.

William stayed at the Windrifter with his friend Matt and a couple of other boys, where they got to swim in the pool, play video games together, and watch movies until fairly late at night. Danny, on the other hand, got to sleep in a cold tent and change his socks three times because they kept getting wet. But he had a good time anyway.

The campout was supposed to be near one of the local ski areas, in a place that's less than four miles from our house in a straight line, but more than 15 miles away by any drivable road. But we got a bit more snow and colder temperatures than had been predicted when the event had been planned, so the troop moved to one of the leader's homes.

Unfortunately, the email telling me that got caught in my spam filter, and I ended up driving around trying to figure out what was going on. Fortunately, the Scout leaders had also sent Karen and email, and I was able to get the information from that. Made for an exhausting morning.

Today, after we picked up Danny at camp, we went over the the Windrifter so that Danny could get a chance to swim, too, in the nice warm water in the nice warm pool house, with a nice hot shower and a good meal afterward.

It was definitely the perfect ending to the trip.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Brooks Bunch, Unplugged

Today was Karen's day off. We slept in (well, sort of; I got up to make sure the boys were ready for school, and then I went back to bed), and we did some sorting through the clutter that had accumulated in the kitchen drawers. When William came home, he and Karen did some baking, after which William was supposed to make dinner. And just as he was setting up to do that, the power went off.

We hadn't had anything more than a light snow until then, but right around 5:00, the wind started to pick up. It must have knocked down a tree limb onto a power line. Sigh.

So, off to Wolfeboro for pizza, and to hang out in the library for some relaxation and light until they closed at 8:00. Lucky for us, the power was back on by the time. But it did put kind of a crimp in the evening. And it had us worried, because we hadn't prepared for it.

The wind is expected to continue through tomorrow, so I set us up with flashlights and extra water, just in case. And least I don't have to worry about the morning alarm not going off, because that's on my phone. If the boys' alarms fail, I have a backup.

Which makes me sleep better, even if it annoys the boys.

Monday, March 09, 2015


I've missed a few picture days in the last few weeks, partly because most of what's happening in the Brooks household is visually redundant, and so it ends up looking as though I'd missed pictures anyway. I mention this because the last couple of recycled pictures were taken during the worst of our bouts with snow, and may have given some the wrong impression of the current state of things. Although there’s still a lot of the white stuff on the ground, the weather is much warmer, and so are we.

I've also missed picture days because I've been under the weather. Today, for example, after getting up at 4:30 (5:30 Standard Time) and helping William and Danny get on the bus, I went back to bed with Karen, who has today off. I ended up sleeping until 11:30. Daylight Time. Very confusing. Also puts a crimp on productivity.

I'm up and about now. I've even been in town to keep Karen company while she does laps in the pool.

And tonight I'll be out watching Danny play his last basketball game of the season, unless his team wins, which will put them in the championship game on Thursday.

I don't really care. Danny has enjoyed playing and learned a lot about teamwork and focus. I consider that a win all around.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Sugaring Weather

Although anyone who doesn’t live in a cold climate wouldn't quite believe it, our weather has taken a big turn for the better. This is what those who collect and prepare maple syrup call “sugaring season.” The nights are below freezing, the days above. Just the right conditions for collecting an amazing amount of sap: 40 gallons for a each gallon of pure maple syrup. And just the right conditions for us to feel that Spring is coming right on schedule.

This is when we start preparing for late Spring events, too, sending in permission slips and forms for Danny’s overnight trip to the Boston Museum of Science, and William’s two-night trip to the White Mountains to camp with his team members before he heads off to (gasp!) high school.

The snow is beginning to melt. A little. And I just ordered my last fill of propane for the season. Winter may not be officially over, but it’s undoubtedly on its way out.

And I, for one, am happy to show it the door.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Stupid Cold

Stupid cold is what call it around here when the temperature gets below zero degrees. Fahrenheit. With wind chill factors in the negative double-digits. We call it stupid cold because when you're standing out in it (to, for example, wait for the school bus), your brain cells feel like they are freezing. We also call it stupid cold because at times like this we fell utterly stupid for living anyplace that it gets this cold.

It's temporary, of course, but it feels as if it goes on forever. Just one day of this feels as if it goes on forever. There's ice on the front door window in the morning, and the caked snow in the car's wheel wells is frozen solid and has to be chipped out with the ice scraper.

When you stand near an exterior wall (or worse, a window), you can feel the outside cold sucking the inside heat right through the wall (and this on a well-insulated house).

But we're lucky, in a couple of ways. We're not further south, where there's much more snow to deal with. Our house is new, and although we do have one water line that freezes up when it's this cold, it's a PEX line and not in danger of bursting. All we have to do is ride out the cold and everything will be just fine.

Not everyone in New England can say that.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

And Snow It Goes

I think white is my least favorite color at the moment. Rumor has it that another big storm is coming our way tonight and Monday. Which means a snow day, another cancelled basketball game (making three—poor Danny), and lots of shoveling.

So many things I'd rather be doing than dealing with big, white, cold mountains in the yard, but not much choice at this point. So we deal.

And dream about Spring.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Here We Go Again

Another day, another major snowstorm. This is another that forces the cancellation of school, and of one of Danny's basketball games. I've really had enough. I don't need more snow. No, I'm good, thanks.

I still don't expect the power to go out, because this is another cold storm. But predictions are running between 6 and 10 inches of snow, more to the south. So, although we haven't quite dug ourselves out of the last two storms, we'll have to do it all over again. It's really boring.

And tiring. And so I'm headed for bed!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Snow Update

We've made it through two respectable snow storms in less than a week without any interruption in electrical service, and despite the fact that everyone in the house (including Tom, as it turned out) is recovering from illness.

Another storm is passing through the Northeast Sunday night and Monday; we don't yet know if it will come as far north as us. But we'll manage either way. The biggest problem we're having right now is finding room for all the snow.

Just an extra note: I made a change to how the Web page displays pictures and captions, which I hope will make it easier to update the pictures when I’m away from my home computer (during, for example, a power outage). If the new method breaks anything, rest assured that I will fix it quickly, but not so quickly that you don’t get at least a few moments to laugh at my mistakes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

So Far, So Good

The snow arrived a little later than expected, and although it's blowing around and accumulating quickly, it hasn't knocked out the power. We're all staying home today, so we don't have to worry much about driving conditions, as long as we can clear our driveway by morning for the boys to get to the bus and Karen and Tom to get out for work.

It's funny: there's all this fine, perfect powder snow falling outside, just right for snowboarding. Danny was supposed to go snowboarding with his school today but, because of the unsafe roads, he won't be going. At least he'll have good snow when they do their make-up day next week.

Meanwhile, we're all snug at home. The power may still go out, but we're ready if it does, and I think that, for the most part, it's going to be a good day for relaxing and recovering.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Don't Worry, and Don't Expect Much

Now that we're beginning to recover from the virus, we're about to get hit with a blizzard. Some of the news reports are calling it "historic," but I doubt that it's an apt description. Right now the National Weather Service is predicting 10-14 inches, and very low temperatures. That means flaky snow, not the kind that typically snaps tree limbs and downs power lines.

On the other hand, there will be wind, and our power is vulnerable. So if you don't hear from us from awhile, don't panic. Without power we have no Internet and no phone (unless we drive several miles toward town to get a cell signal).

But we're getting pretty good at this whole power outage thing; we have supplies of food and fresh water, and even some charged-up electronics to keep us entertained for at least part of the time. School has already been cancelled, so the boys will be snug and warm with us at home, and if the weather is too bad, Karen' store might even be close. Tom has the day off anyway.

And I'll report as soon as we know any more.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Gone Viral

A nasty bug has spread misery through the Brooks household over the last several days, which is why I haven't kept up with pictures. Or anything else, for that matter.

Karen got it first, and then (reluctantly, I'm sure), shared with the rest of us. Except, I think, Tom. We're recovering, albeit slowly, and we’ll all be fine. But it hasn’t been fun.

Sunday, January 04, 2015


To my amazement, we didn't lose power during this storm. Of course, it turned out to be a pretty good storm for not knocking out power. The snow stayed light and fluffy almost until it turned into freezing rain. As a result, the snow didn't stay on the trees for the most part, and so there was far less chance of limbs falling on the lines.

On the other hand, you could be all superstitious and say that the power didn't go out because, unlike last time, we were prepared for it. In any case, we had a fairly normal day today, except for the snow shoveling.

Busy week this week. Danny is going to try snowboarding for the first time, using Thomas' old equipment, and he has three basketball practices and a meeting of the Book Talk Club coming up. Assuming that none of them is called off for weather.

And now that the kids will be back in school, I have to get back into the swing of regular writing. I've got a book in the works, a short story, and a song. I expect to have to song done this week, and the story by next week. And I'm only giving myself about three months for the (admittedly fairly short) book.

So I'd better get myself some sleep; I'm going to need it!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Here It Comes Again

Tonight we are expecting anywhere from four to six inches of snow, followed by freezing rain, and then regular old rain. Put it all together and it means a really good chance for a power outage. So don't be surprised if the picture of the day tomorrow is a repeat. And for that matter, don't be surprised, or worried, if you can't get us on the phone.

Because around no power here means no phone, Internet, or running water. We might do something about that in our next (and, with luck, final) house, but for now we're stuck with it.

This mixed (and boy, do I mean mixed) precipitation will be followed by about four or five days of cold weather, even for New Hampshire. After that, I have no idea what we're getting into, but I'll just take it as it comes. I really have no choice

I expect if we get a power outage this time, it won't be for quite as long as the last one. For one thing, I don't think the wet snow will be as widespread, and for another, the rain will be easier for the line crews to deal with than the ice that finished up the other storm. Still, the tub is filled with water for flushing toilets, and I'm about to charge up the tablets and phones so that we have some entertainment the doesn't require A/C power.

And, I'm happy to say, I have one heater that doesn't require electricity.