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.