Saturday, May 31, 2014

Getting Ready For Summer

On my last post, I was talking about Spring cleaning, even though Spring had been with us for a full two of its three months by then. But that was about the weather, not the calendar.

Summer is more about the calendar, because two days after the arrival of Summer on the calendar comes the boys' vacation. There's swimming lessons to sign up for, and planning for Karen's vacation time, and more planning for how I'm going to get my work done while they're home.

It's especially important now, because I'm beginning to get some paying work from home. I've been picking up the odd voiceover job here and there, and since I'm in front of the microphone anyway, I decided to put offers up on the Website know as Fiverr.

Fiverr lets me offer my service for a mere five dollars, which doesn't sound like much. But since I'm already sitting at the mic talking, doing a minute of narration for someone, including editing and sending it, takes only a few minutes. Even with Fiverr's 20% fee, the hourly rate actually comes out better than my other jobs.

And since I've been in front of the camera against my green screen to do my own projects, I've offered to do that for Fiverr as well, and had several people now pay me to appear onscreen for them. It's not as good a rate as the voiceover, since prepping the video takes more time, but it's still not bad.

But it's easier to do when the kids are in school. When they're on vacation, we'll be out and about more, and there will be things planned for home. So I'm going to have to keep a pretty strict schedule the rest of the time if I want to keep this going.

But I love a good challenge.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spring Cleaning, Sort Of

Spring cleaning is underway at our house, but around here it's more than cleaning. We should be calling it "Spring All-the-things-we-couldn't-as-a-practical-matter-do-with-snow-on-the-ground." It includes a lot of construction and yard work.

Painting, carpentry (such as it is), planting, deck construction, and deck planning (different deck) are all part of the process. Oh, yes, and cleaning. Cleaning up and cleaning out. One of the hardest things to do in this area is get rid of things. In L.A. we had the Recycler free ad paper for things we could sell, and a nearby Goodwill drop-off for things we just needed to give away.

But the nearest Goodwill is about 30 miles away, and with no Recycler we have to rely on Craigslist, the online classifieds. And although Craigslist has been good for selling old cars, we've gotten very little response on anything smaller, and attempts to con us on more valuable items.

We sell things on eBay, but that only works for things that are easy to ship, not, for example, for the Empire dresser we're trying to sell.

For giving things away, we've had to settle for leaving it by the side of the road with a big sign that says "Free Stuff." (Actually, it says "free stuf!" because Danny made it a couple of years ago, and we love it too much to fix it.) That works sometimes, but we have to keep an eye on the weather.

But little by little we are paring down and building up, and probably by the time we've got it all just right, the kids will be moving out and we'll be hankering for a different kind of house.

A smaller one, with less room for "stuf," less space to clean, and far fewer staircases.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


The first floor of our house is in utter disarray. But it's nothing to worry about; it's just that we've finally gotten around to painting.

Some time ago, Karen found a great deal on what Lowes calls "oops paint." That's paint that, for one reason or another, is the wrong color. It doesn't mean that it's an ugly color, just that it's not what the customer originally ordered. Lowes sells these at a substantial discount, and so you get really good paint for a fraction of the cost, if you can live with the color.

In Karen's case, it's six different colors. Nothing boring for our house full of artists. No, our main living floor is going to be done in stripes of color. So far we've managed to get two colors up and the results look great. Because we have to let each color cure for three days before we can apply masking tape, it's going to take us until early next week to finish all the colors.

We'll use this as an opportunity to rearrange the furniture a bit, too, and lay the last small section of floor that his been hidden until heavy furniture until now. No sense moving that stuff twice!

The really tricky part, though, will be painting around the direct-vent heater.

This could get interesting.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers' Day

Today is Mothers' Day, but the mother of my boys has to work. So, we made her a nice pancake breakfast (I did the pancakes and William cooked sausage), and tonight we'll have a nice dinner and a couple of surprises for her.

I wish that I could give her something else for Mothers' Day: time off. Not just a day off, but a change from working in big-box retail, a chance to do something satisfying and enriching, where she has more control over her time and her life.

It's not that Karen doesn't like designing kitchens. It's all the other stuff she has to deal with working in corporate retail that she—and the rest of her family—could do without.

I can't give her that gift this Mothers' Day. But I am working toward it.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

My Scout

Danny attended a two-night camping event at the local Boy Scout camp over the weekend. I was a little skeptical at first—Danny doesn't make life easy for adult leaders sometimes, and Karen and I were both tied up and couldn't stay overnight. But Danny did great.

He took part in all the activities, and impressed one of the adult leaders with his knowledge of which plants in the wild are edible and which are not. He helped the older Scouts build a shelter, and took part in a first-aid training exercise. And he came back dirty, smokey, and happy.

I went to check in on him after the first night. I arrived later than I expected, and was told that they were doing various activities at the top of the hill. So I went up to see. Very steep hill. I was wheezing and my heart was threatening to break out of my chest by the time I got to the top, and my knees were screaming at me all the way back down. But it as worth it to see how much fun Danny was having.

Not to self: get more exercise.

Which is what Karen and I found some time to do yesterday, since Spring has finally decided to come to New Hampshire. We took a nice, long walk, followed by a trip to the grocery store to get some fixings for lunch. We opted for that instead of eating out just to lessen the impact on the budget, but the result was, thanks to my wife's creativity in the kitchen, something far better than we could have gotten out: pizza burgers. Ground beef patties with mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, marinara, and onions mixed in, topped with marinara and served on a cheese roll. Heavenly!

Unfortunately for us, Karen doesn't get to spend much time in the kitchen, and Tom works nights most of the time, too, so we have to settle for my competent but not particularly inspired cooking. Fortunately for us, Karen made up enough pizza burger patties for two meals, so the boys get to experience it, too.

And speaking of Karen' unfortunate schedule, I have to help her get ready for another night shift.