Monday, December 31, 2012


A little trickery with the heater got it back to its former, sort-of-working state. That'll do for the time being.

Home Ownership (Sigh)

Today I had to replace a breaker that's only about four years old (and has only been in use for a bit over three). Then, when I brought the power back up, our Monitor heater (which has issues with the controls) came on set at 50 degrees, which is a bit nippy. May have to replace the controls.

Where's the super? Oh wait, that's me.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year's End

Here at The Brooks Bunch, as in many households with children, the last big event of the year is the holiday vacation, since it only extends one day into the new year. Our kids started the vacation a day early, sort of, and they were not happy about it. Why? Well, that's an interesting story.

First, the last day of school before vacation is normally a day without a lot a school work, with parties and performances. To top it off, my kids had worked very hard making gifts for their teachers, including some tasty treats. And they never got to hand them out.

And to top it off, they had to do more school work than they would have had to do in school, thanks to something called a "Blizzard Bag." In order to reduce the number of days lost to weather, our school district has come up with some school work that the kids can do at home if there is a snow day. There are two days of work in the folder in the bag, and if some percentage of kids do the work, then the district does not have to make up that day at the end of the year.

I'm not sure how well this concept works yet, because it wasn't a fair test. The kids were very resentful of having to do work they would not have had to do at school, and so getting the work done was a nightmare (we insisted that it be done on the snow day; we didn't want it to slide into the vacation). Perhaps the second day will go better.

The rest of the vacation has gone better, though. We had a nice Christmas morning, and there was actually a little snow. We finished a Kindle edition of Danny's book Danny's Kitten, and we will have a book by Karen and the boys called Cooking Breakfast With Will and Dan ready before the vacation is done.

We got to go see a pretty good movie, Rise of the Guardians, and had an early New Year's Eve celebration at home (since Karen has to work New Year's Eve and New Year's Day).

The best part was having Karen home for seven days in a row, something that rarely happens.

Oh, and we actually did have a blizzard. A couple of days ago. I'm still cleaning up after some of it, but luckily no one in our household had to go anywhere when it hit, so we just stayed safe and sort of warm in our house.

And so the new year is upon us (since the world did not, in fact, come to an end on December 21st of this year). What will 2013 bring? Well, I can't be absolutely sure of anything, but I can make a few relatively safe predictions.

For one thing, I will be in a play this year, something that didn't happen in 2012. I will, near the end of the year, have a teenager in my house for the first time since early 2010 (and two by the end of 2015—yikes!). William will start middle school about six weeks before he reaches that frightening milestone, and will have to get up at least half an hour earlier, to meet a bus that comes more than an hour before Danny's bus. That's going to be all kinds of fun.

We will try to make some changes to our family life in 2013, which we started by creating some books with our boys and publishing one of them (perhaps two, by the end of the year). If we can keep some momentum going, with Karen's knowledge of crafts and art, and my explorations of the ins and outs of self-publishing in the Internet age, we might start earning some money at this.

And I can also predict that 2013 will be a year of ups and downs, easy times and hard times, and most of all lots of love at the Brooks house.

Happy New Year!

A Sad, Snowy Tale

The picture tells the whole story. I had just pulled Karen's car back to clear the snow from her space. I pulled the rope to start the snow thrower, and ended up with the broken rope in my hand.

The good news is that the machine actually did start, and I managed to get Karen's space cleared before the thrower stalled.

Replacing the rope is probably within the meager scope of my skills, but it's going to be cold work with no temps above freezing for at least a week.

And I still will have to shovel my car out by hand.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Early New Year's Celebration

Karen has to work on New Year's Eve, so we're celebrating today and tonight. Today, a movie ("Rise of the Guardians") and lunch out, with a chance for boys to spend some Christmas money.
Tonight a celebration at home with some special foods we'll buy at our new Trader Joe's, champagne for Karen and Tom, and sparkling cider for the rest of us.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Spent most of the day today fighting with snow and the snow blower, which I broke--well, just the shear pin. All in the aftermath of yesterday's blizzard, which was perfectly-timed for us, because we didn't have to go anywhere.

And, we managed to finish Daniel's Kindle book and get it to "press."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Retro Toys

The boys dividing up the great retro toys that Nana sent. They were supposed to share; we'll see how that goes.

Okay, This Is Real Snow

Our first big snow of the season. Big flakes sticking to the windows, wind, and an expected foot or so of accumulation. This is the view out the back window.

Book Stuff

Karen and I are working through the day to try to finish and upload two of the three Kindle books from the boys. There will be print editions after the first of the year, and the third book will come then, too. But right now it's all ebooks.

And I hope we get them done and uploaded before the power goes out, because we have both snow and wind today.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry, Busy Christmas

Another Christmas at The Brooks Bunch. Fun gifts, including lots of interesting food. And speaking of food, a new approach to dinner. No formal meal, just a lot of appetizers, made by everyone. DIshes included meatballs by William, potato skins by Danny, spinach puffs by Thomas, and bacon-wrapped steak bites by Karen.

Now we're trying to get some late Christmas surprises done, late into the evening, with some Web site modifications thrown in to boot.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Last Minute Food Shopping

I get to spend a little time alone with my lovely wife while we get our groceries for tomorrow's meals. With a quick stop for lunch.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Danny's wrapping gifts for William. The boys buy gifts for each other to open early Christmas morning so we get a little extra sleep.

Running Late

Late (for us) tree decoration and last-minute cookie baking. The season got ahead of us

Friday, December 21, 2012


The one day of the season when the boys really wanted to be in school, the weather betrayed them. Snow in the morning followed by rain made roads too treacherous for busses. And so they stayed home. With school work to do. More about that in my main blog later.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On the Run

Busy night tonight. Basketball practice for Danny, followed immediately by Book Talk club with William, Danny, and myself. At least they were both in the same town.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Crafty Kids

William and Daniel are crafting in clay for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yankee Gift Swap

The scouts did a Yankee Gift Swap for their holiday party. If you don't know what that is, you can Google it. William ended up with a nice pocket knife.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Annual Tree Trek

We got the kids out of school a little early so that we could go cut our Christmas tree before dark, which is hitting us close to 4:00 these days. It had stopped snowing, and started raining, before we got there. Fortunately while we were cutting the tree, the rain abated to nothing more than a bit of mist. And after we had a nice dinner at Johnson's, which also gave us a chance to warm up before we went home.

The tree is still strapped to the car; I have to bring it in in the morning so it can thaw and dry out a little.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pile O' Birch

The snow started arriving about six hours earlier than predicted, so the boys and I scrambled out to cut the rest of the birch tree and haul it over to our property. So now we have an impressive pile of hardwood at the side of the house. With luck we will have a wood stove sometime before the wood is seasoned enough to burn.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

White Stuff

Spent a good deal of the day preparing for what is predicted to be the first big snow of the season. Covering lumber, stowing outdoor furniture cushions, and finally cutting up the birch tree that fell down during hurricane Sandy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Warm Day

This was what greeted me after a day of errands. The day was too sunny and warm for staying inside. It got all the way up to 41 degrees! And yes, if you look closely you can see ice on the pond.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Closing the Barn Door

William is watching a crew hired by our power company to trim the trees away from our power lines. In more than a decade since we moved to New Hampshire, this is the first time we've seen such preventative maintenance, and of course it's happening in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, rather than ahead of it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Crafting

Karen and Daniel are working on making gifts for teachers.

Getting Ready

We're preparing surprises for the holidays. Will they be ready in time? I don't know, but we're working hard to get them done.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Safe and Accessible

Got two of my guitars and my ukulele hung up in the attic where they are out of the way (and out of harm's way) but still easy to get to.

Instrument lovers take note: although it is the attic, it's a future bedroom and thus well-insulated and dry.

New Computer

Best Buy made good on the horrible "open item" computer they sold me, and I ended up with a brand-new Mac Mini. Which is not what I'm writing on, because Karen made me promise that I wouldn't spend the time to switch over until I'm done with the Christmas projects we're working on. Fair enough.

But I did hook it up long enough to get it registered and updated, and I'm looking forward to using my peppy new computer after running into so many roadblocks with my seven-year-old Mini. More about the new computer, from the new computer, in the main blog after the holidays.


Another trip to Tuftonboro. Tonight for Scouts, last night for basketball. Friday basketball again. Stuff is too far apart around here.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Danny had his first basketball scrimmage tonight, and he got his uniform. Purple, and number 13. The boys did a good job of cooperating and playing fair. Parents, too!

Having Breakfast Out With Karen

Unfortunately, we are on our way to Newington to return a computer to Best Buy, but at least I get to spend time with my wife!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Bowling Party

Bowling with friends for Danny's party at one of the few alleys in New Hampshire with ten-pin lanes. Rest of the state does candlepin.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Drawing Day

Today Daniel and Thomas have been spending a good part of the day drawing for a special project we're trying to get ready for Christmas. What is it? Can't tell you until after we've delivered gifts, but then it will be for the world to know.

And why isn't William drawing, too (not because he can't—he's actually quite talented)? He's got another role in this project. But he is sculpting for another project.

But perhaps I've said too much.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Basketball Schedule

Just got Danny's new schedule from his coach. At first glance it

looked impossibly full, until I looked at the entries that include

Danny's team, the Dragonflies. More manageable, but still very busy.

This Post Has No Title

Learning to post from text messages; forgive any "text speak."

I posted the above as a text message, which only allows 140 characters and creates no title, but can be done where I have phone service but no data connection. I will probably edit these a little bit after the fact, at least to add a title.

A Little Experiment

I set up this special blog with the idea of doing quick updates on

the happenings of The Brooks Bunch.

No long, thoughtful posts here. Most of these will be posted by

email, many from my mobile phone, some even by text message (which

only allows 140 characters per post).

So, quick peeks, like "Danny and Karen are watching a movie on TV;

Danny keeps asking what's going on. It reminds me of stories Karen

told about her kid brother from her childhood."

Which is what's happening right now.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

An Active Brooks Bunch

November kept us busy, and it looks like December is going to be filled with activity as well. Daniel started playing basketball, both boys are still in Scouts, and Karen volunteered to build a snowman for the Lowes float for the Rochester holiday parade. At that's on top of some special Christmas projects we're working on.

The theme of the Rochester parade was "Cartoon Christmas," and so the snowman wasn't just any snowman; it was Sam the Snowman, from Rankin-Bass' Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the character voiced by Burl Ives, and made to look a little like him. Everyone in the family participated in Sam's construction. He was crafted from papier mache over a base of three large balloons. Both boys helped paint him. Karen, William, and I made the cardboard banjo that he holds, and Karen constructed the clothing and the facial features.

Thanks largely to our snowman, Lowes won third place in the corporate category.

During the beginning of November, Thomas and I worked together at Measured Progress. Now that the job is done, we're back to working on other projects, including Thomas' Kindle cookbook and my book, and lots of eBay selling by me. The selling is going slowly, but every once in while I get surprised by the sale of something I've listed again and again without apparent success. Sometimes I think I just have to persist until the right buyer finds what I'm selling.

The extra money we made in those few weeks did allow us to do a little extra Christmas shopping, and catch up on the heating bill. I don't know what kind of winter we're going to have, but even a mild winter means a couple of tanks-full of propane before the Spring.

The house has been treating us well on that front, though. Yesterday, we didn't turn the main floor's heat on at all, and the sunshine outside was enough to keep the house comfortable even though the outside temperature never got above 50 degrees.

December is also the month of Danny's birthday. This week's home celebration includes meatloaf for dinner, which is one of Danny's favorites. And this year he's invited his friends to join him for bowling as his birthday party.

And that pretty much brings us up to date. Even though I don't get many chances to write in this blog (because, for one thing, I'm already doing a lot of writing for other projects), I will try to keep up on life events here at The Brooks Bunch with the daily pictures.