Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wild Weather

Perhaps you are tired of reading about the weather in New Hampshire. Perhaps I am tired of having such bizarre weather to write about. Yes, I think that is very likely.

Just past midnight Friday morning, I awoke to darkness. Not the usual darkness invaded by glowing clock displays and perhaps a neighbor's porch light, but the darkness that says, "Oh, great, another power outage." Heavy rains and strong winds had knocked out power in much of the state.

William woke up soon after because he had to go to the bathroom. He called up the stairs because he couldn't see to go to the bathroom and needed a flashlight. I went down and found him one, found another LED flashlight that would stay on all night, grabbed my watch and set an alarm for 5:00, then went back to bed. I didn't sleep well, but I did get up and ready in time for work.

But by the time I had reached the south end of Milton, I heard on the radio that my shift had been cancelled, and I turned back to help Karen get herself ready for work. No cancellation for her; even if Rochester had lost power, Lowes has generators so that they can be open.

The boys and I (Thomas had a scheduled day off) spent the day trying to find things to do without power (much easier for William, an avid reader, than Danny, who hasn't got the hang of reading yet, though he did find building with Legos to be a great distraction), and discovering sources of water for flushing toilets, as without electricity we do not have running water. We also don't have heat, but the air wasn't that cold and the house is very well insulated.

The power, much to my surprise, came on around 3:00 in the afternoon, a tribute to the line crews. We got the place heated up, and enjoyed a bit of electric-powered entertainment, although we didn't change our plans for eating out for dinner. Karen came home to a nice warm house and our electric mattress pad, and we had a good night's sleep.

Then we woke up this morning, getting ready for another work day for Karen, and looked outside. Three or four inches of snow greeted up, and my first order of the day, before even eating, was to go out and shovel a path for Karen's car. Are we having fun yet?

The boys, on the other hand, did have fun today, attending a pool party. No, not billiards, an actual swimming pool, indoors of course. It is a strange feeling sitting in a steaming hot pool house, watching my children swim, and looking out at fat, swirling snowflakes.

More snow coming for the next couple of days. I hope this doesn't mean another snow day; it would cause many logistical problems. Then we finally seem to be getting a break with some mostly sunny and not very cold weather.

Which is still weirder, as Spring is still three weeks away, and even the beginning of Spring around here usually has a number of cold stormy days in its future. I don't know what to expect. So I just stop expecting.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ice, Snow, and Other States Of Water

Last week, skating was cancelled because of nasty weather, and I was afraid it was going to happen again, judging by at least some of the latest predictions. But there was only a little wet snow this evening, and the boys managed to get on the ice. Their skating is coming along very well; they both seem quite at home on skates, and I hope that it will be something they can enjoy for many years to come.

The rest of the week is hard to make plans for, concerning those matters for which weather, well, matters. We're supposed to get a few inches of nasty wet stuff tonight, a mix of rain and snow tomorrow (even nastier), and then rain (and apparently quite a lot of it) on Thursday. Wonderful. It makes driving so adventurous.

Lack of sleep also makes driving adventurous, and I hear Karen coming home from work, so I'm going off to bed. More weather reports later, I fear.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Son Of The Weather Roller Coaster

On Wednesday, home from work because I wasn't feeling well, we had enough snow that we all had to shovel. On Thursday, the sun was shining and the temperature got as high as the mid forties.

This morning there was another dusting of snow. Not enough to break out the shovel--or even the broom--for, but enough up this way to make me a little nervous about the condition of the road.

Despite a sunny, visible-shadow kind of day on Ground Hog Day, Spring seems to be coming early. There is at least some thawing after each snow, the temperatures are very mild, and there are lots of sunny days.

On the other hand, I though Spring was imminent at the end of our first Winter here, in 2002, when on the first official day of Spring a storm dropped about ten inches of snow on us. Maybe you can't fool Mother Nature, but she can sure pull a great practical joke on you!

Speaking of Winter, tomorrow marks the beginning of William and Daniel's Winter break. They have the entire week off of school. Unfortunately, neither Karen nor I have even one day off during the week, so the kids will be spending most of that time at the Children's Center.

But we will do what we can to spend time with the boys. This weekend they are going to help us set up shelves and poles in their closet, and Karen has some baking projects in mind that they'll enjoy. And since they don't have to worry about getting up for school the next day, I'll be able to do some fun stuff with them in the evenings when I get home from work. It'll be fun for them, though by the end of it I wouldn't be surprised if they are looking forward to going back to school! Still, I wish Karen and I could make our time off match theirs during the breaks. We could plan some outings all together and save some money on child care.

Maybe by next year, or even this summer, we will have figured out how to give oursselves a more flexible lifestyle.

It's something to shoot for, anyway.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Invisible Move, I Hope

Blogger is phasing out the ability to publish a blog on a server other than Google's. It makes perfect sense; Google spends an inordinate amount of programming resources supporting a method that only a tiny fraction of users take advantage of. It shouldn't affect anything except for those few of you who might directly have bookmarked my blog, in which case you should access it from the main Web site and create a new bookmark.

I apologize for the repeat pictures, some of which are now two months old. I'll take up the slack by the weekend, but frankly there hasn't been much opportunity for photography in the last couple of weeks. What I may start doing, rather than try to make the Picture Of the Day represent the latest happenings here at Brooks Bunch Central, is provide a nice selection of fun pictures from our entire collection. Then I'll upload the topical pictures to the blog so I can tell the whole story.

The pictures I put in the blog are now available through our Picasaweb galleries, so you can still see them without having to sort through the blog entries.

As usual, is in a constant state of change. Maybe one day I'll figure out what actually works and stick to it.

But probably not.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Triumph At the Pinewood Derby

The Brooks Family had an incredible morning yesterday. I was there and I still can hardly believe it. It was the day of the Cub Scouts' Pinewood Derby, held at Kingswood High School. The boys had spent a good deal of time preparing their cars, and William had been up late making oatmeal cookies for the bake sale. We arrived at the school in separate cars because Karen had to go to work when it was all over. We had our cars, extra graphite, tools in case of a mishap, and, of course, William's cookies.

The maximum weight of a Pinewood Derby car is five ounces. We had used my postal scale to get as close as we could, but we had extra weights in case we needed to add weight, and pliers in case we needed to take it away.

Danny's car weighed in at 4.9 ounces. I wasn't going to mess with that. I figured that I would probably do more damage trying to add the extra tenth of an ounce, and with more experienced Scouts and dads putting their work and ideas into the other cars, I would just be glad if our cars made it to the end of the track without losing their wheels.

William's car was 4.8 ounces and had already lost a wheel during our test weight-in. So we concentrated our attention on getting that wheels back on and getting the car rolling straight.

During the Leader Race, something went wrong over at the refreshments counter. The coffee pot, tea pot, and hot dog warmer were all plugged into the same outlet, At first the breaker on the power strip tripped, so we plugged two into the strip and one into the wall. But the circuit, apparently, was still not enough for all three appliances and it tripped. With no access to the breaker panel, we went in search of other outlets, and finally found them, laying extension cords and carefully taping them down for safety.

But with all that I managed to settle down to watch the race before my sons' cars were at the gate. The race was a double-elimination, which meant that each car could lose twice before being dropped from the race. William lost his first heat, but we were both glad that the car just made it down with the wheels intact.

Then Danny's car was up, and it won the first heat. Wow, cool. Very unexpected, but very cool. Danny went over to the refreshments table, where Karen was working, to deliver the good news.

William won his second heat, and I was happy that both boys would be able to stay in the race a little longer. And then a pattern emerged. Danny's car kept winning. Much to the surprise of all of us, my little Tiger Cub was beating every car out there, sometimes by a tiny fraction of a second, but always ahead.

By the time the race was over, Danny still didn't realize what had happened. He knew he's won several times, but all the adults around him knew that he had led the pack, not only with the most wins but with the fastest time of the day.

The anticipation was overwhelming. We waited through the raffle, during which Karen one a set of power tools and William won a wonderful candy basket, and then the awards ceremony started. Danny got a first place trophy for his division, consisting of both of the Tiger Dens. William got a second place trophy for the Bears. And then the Pack Leader announced that the first place winner was Daniel Brooks. Danny ran to the podium to get his prize. He has thrilled! So were we.

Danny was a little upset with the news that he couldn't play with his car after the race, and many of the other boys were doing. Why not? Because he had to keep it in good condition for a district-wide race. That's right, Danny is going on to compete with Scouts from other Packs. I don't know the details yet, but you will when I do.

I have no idea how Danny's car will do in this bigger competition, and I don't really care. Just the fact that, at seven, he gets to have a nice trophy from a memorable day,  with a trip to look forward to where he gets to meet and compete with other Scouts, means that he's already a big winner.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Active Week

There's been something to keep us busy every night this week. Monday was Scouting; Danny heard a lecture on airplanes from one of the leaders who is also a pilot and airplane mechanic, and he made a balsa glider, with some help from Dad (so any shortcomings are most likely Dad's fault). William learned about tools and played some fun games with his fellow Bear Scouts.

Tuesday was skating. Both William and Daniel are getting very comfortable on the ice, reminding me of the many hours and days I spent with Thomas when he was skating. Very good memories, those.

The last two nights have been preparation for the upcoming Pinewood Derby event. Yesterday we painted the bodies of the boys' racers, and tonight we applied the clear coat and started working on the wheel assemblies, which we'll finish tomorrow night. The boys are enjoying working with the paint and the sandpaper, and their cars look pretty cool.

All of this will keep me running until about midday Saturday. After the races, I'll bring the boys home and sit them down with a good movie in their room (I have a copy of Brave Little Toaster in the Netflix collection this week), while I get some neglected chores done around the house.

And maybe this weekend I'll even get some sleep.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Missed It By That Much

I came just short of having enough pictures to cover our trip to New Jersey. I had grand ideas about putting up a picture last night before bed, but I really should have know better. But at least you get rewarded with a reprise of a cute picture of Danny and his marshmallow shooter, and the promise of pictures from the trip starting tomorrow.

As usual we started late heading for home. We were just enjoying the visit too much to leave! But we made pretty good time getting home and I managed to grab a little sleep. Back into the routine today, with Scouting tonight for the boys, picture updates for me, and a good night's sleep for everyone.