Monday, November 06, 2017

Opening Weekend

An evening off from the theater, after four rehearsals and three performances in eight days. I'm tired, but very satisfied. The shows have been great, the audiences even better, and our little barbershop quartet has actually been getting cheers for the harmonies we've worked so hard to perfect.

Rehearsal was complicated a little by a widespread power outage that started on Monday. The theater didn't have power, but the high school did, so the high school's theater director, who happens also to be playing Harold Hill in our production, arranged for us to rehearse on the high school's stage. No props or sets, no costumes or makeup, but we did well.

I missed Tuesday because I had to work (and we still had no power), and so dove directly into full dress rehearsals on Wednesday and Friday. Tiring, but very satisfying, and before we even knew it, there was an audience out there. Three shows, a few minor glitches but nothing serious, and some seriously happy customers.

And I'm seriously tired. This show is fun, but it's also a very difficult show for anyone singing in it. My fellow members of the River City school board and I spent a lot of time perfecting the harmonies of "Sincere," "It's You," and "Lida Rose," even singing it together during costume changes to make sure we were hitting the right chords.

I don't think I've ever been able to link the words "obsessive" and "casual" in the same moment, but that's what it was like. Although we obsessed over the notes, we never stressed over it. If someone was uncomfortable and wanted to give it another try, we just started singing, enjoying the result when we all hit the right chord, and heading to the piano or the pitch pipe when we didn't with a vow to do it until it was right.

After a little touch-up Wednesday, we'll do three more shows. I'll be able to rest and get on with some neglected projects when it's done, but I'll also have a serious case of post-show let-down.

And at some point, maybe next year or the year after, when the right play comes along, I'll do it all again.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Did You See It?

Have you noticed yet what's at the bottom of the front page of the website? It's a little trick I figured out that allows you to see older pictures. It's not perfect yet—the only way to go back is to use the back button on your browser, or the HOME link to go all the way to the beginning—but it works pretty well.

I've been paying more attention to that, and almost none to this blog. That's partly because it has been a monumentally busy summer. Thomas and Erin moved out, and three of the four of us that remain in the house are working. And we're all working very unpredictable schedules.

Karen's job is, well, retail, and we've known how that goes for more than a decade. I'm working at a timeshare, and as soon as school let's out that just gets completely crazy. William is working in the restaurant in an exclusive golf club close to home, and most of his hours are in the evening.

Makes for some interesting logistics, both for transportation and for meals. It will calm down this fall; William's job goes into hiatus, and mine slows down to a manageable crawl. Karen's just stays the same, but we'll have more time to take care of her.

And I'll have two boys in high school, which means that the evenings are going to involve a lot of studying. Both boys are foregoing sports for the fall, William because soccer would interfere with the remainder of his work, and Danny because he wants to start high school with more time to study and rest.

We haven't spent all of our time working. We managed to get out to some of our special places this summer, and Karen has been doing more painting. And I'm starting rehearsal on a play for the fall. We're doing The Music Man.  I get to sing barbershop. I'm excited and slightly terrified, although the three gentlemen I'm singing with are all very good singers, and good friends.

Now it's time for a rare dinner date with Karen. We were going to go do some photography and art gallery exploration, but it's muggy and we're both a bit too tired for so much running around. Tomorrow perhaps.

And not so very long, I hope, until the next blog entry because this is ridiculous.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Home Stretch

We're coming to the end of the school year. It's easy to tell because Danny just came back from the his Spring Trip, and Karen and I have wrangled schedules to be available for his middle school graduation. That's right: Danny is preparing to start high school.

We had to do a little bit of adjustment to his schedule, not because it was horrible, but because he'd been given a study hall due to a miscommunication about his class choices. A quick visit to the guidance department resolved the error quickly, and Danny now has a good lineup of classes for the new year.

Now we just need to get through the summer. Danny is going to be practicing some skills to help him with high school, William will be stepping up to full-time work as soon as school is over, just a little over a week from now, the resort where I work is gearing up for the rush, which often includes turning over all of our 42 rooms in one day on Sundays, and Karen is dealing with all the things Karen has been dealing with for the last ten years plus.

Lots of projects in the works for the summer, including Karen's new trailer, as I mentioned, finally finishing the back deck, a revised version of my last book for me, and a new book if I can squeeze it in, and some fun art and craft projects for all of us.

Plus a little New England travel, to some of our favorite places. I think the one thing that won't be in abundance this summer is boredom.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Battle of the Schedules

Last night, everyone worked late. Not just a late shift, but later than the normal end of the shift. And by everyone, I'm including William, who is now working as a dishwasher and prep cook at one of the local golf club restaurants. Fortunately, William's job is close to home, and he can ride his bike or even walk to work. Karen and I are not that lucky.

William's schedule will likely be somewhat more predictable than ours, but summer is still going to be an interesting exercise in logistics, with me working in hospitality, Karen working in retail, and William working in food service. No nine-to-five, Monday-through-Friday office jobs in this household. That would be far too easy.

William is taking to his job very well. It's very much what his school year has been preparing him for, and rather than being nothing more than a way to earn money, it's something he really cares about. He'll enjoy the money, of course, but he's also very excited about the experience he's going to get.

Summer vacation is nearly upon us, which will likely bring more hours (and far less boredom) for me, and hopefully a little travel and camping. Karen has already started buying materials for the new, bigger camper (just as we're already making plans for a new, smaller house; interesting), and we'll start construction as soon as schedules and weather cooperate.

The biggest challenge for all of us, I think, is getting enough sleep and having enough energy left over at the end of the day to work on the things that matter to us, and not just our jobs. William is, I think, in the best position for that, because between his youth and his passion for the work, his job actually seems to energize him.

Can't, to be perfectly honest, say the same for Karen or for me. But as least, when the grind is done, we have other things to work toward. And that keeps us going.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Disconnected, Again

Just a quick entry for anyone who might have been trying to get hold of us these last two days. Our Internet connection, which is also our phone connection, has been out since yesterday, and will be out until at least tomorrow.

If I could find another Internet service provider, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Meanwhile, I am limited to trips to the library for Internet, and my almost daily work trip into town for phone. It's rather, well, limiting. Sigh.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Moving Out, Moving In

Thomas and Erin have found an apartment, where they spent their first night last night after a rather grueling move. It wasn't supposed to be quite so grueling, but miscommunication piled upon miscommunication and, well, it's long story not worth telling save to say that a lot of extra driving was involved.

They aren't completely settled in. For one thing, they don't have Internet service yet, and Erin relies on it to do her homework, so they will be spending some time hanging around with us for a few days so that she can get her assignments done. I think we're okay with that.

The apartment is a cute little space in a four-plex in Rochester, a much easier commute for both Tom and Erin, and close to a lot of fun places to eat and things to do. I think they will be very happy with it.

And now I have to go. We're having Easter dinner for everyone, and I'm responsible for roasting the lamb. And for some reason, I'm not moving very fast today.

Monday, April 03, 2017

April Fool's!

It's not me fooling you, it's nature fooling us with another winter storm in the Spring. More than a foot of new snow just as we had gotten down to bare ground in the driveway. Now the tall piles are even higher, and we are seriously considering periscopes on the cars to help us get onto the road.

And we're expecting another annoying storm tomorrow.

But this is New Hampshire. Complain as we will (and we will), we're really pretty much used to it. I am disappointed, though, because my under-construction back deck was almost clear, and I was thinking that I might be getting a chance to finish it this month. Now I'm not so sure.

Meanwhile we are chugging away with work, school, sports, and—when we get the chance—having fun.

With the changing season (even if it is not changing fast enough) comes other changes, too, which I will be talking about as they happen. Don't worry, though; they are good changes.

Changing, too, will be the website. Nothing radical. New portraits, probably some new colors, and a way to display more pictures without bogging down your computer. I've almost got it worked out.

The galley concept is probably going to change, too. I am finding Google Photos more annoying than useful, and I have a lot of storage available on my own server. So I am probably going to come up with something that's more like our own front page, but easier to update. I'm not exactly sure what the shape of it all will be, but I'll be experimenting into the summer until I find something that I like.

You'll see the changes, little by little, as long as you keep coming back. We'll see you here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Without a 'Net

I am still without an Internet connection at home, and MetroCast customers from most of New Hampshire and communities in other New England states are still without service.

I have no idea when the service will be back, but until it is we have no phone. I'm able to blog (without breaking the site this time) from the library, because they use a different ISP, but the files I need to update the site otherwise are at home, disconnected from the rest of the world. It's a shame, because I have some really cool pictures from my new camera, and some that Karen took with her phone while I was stuck at the resort.

The outage has been inconvenient for us, but a major issue for many of the businesses in New Hampshire that depend on the Internet to communicate with customers, accept orders, and process payments. MetroCast has much to answer for during this incident; their communication has been horrible. Town selectmen have been complaining that they have not way to contact anyone to get updates for their constituents.

Meanwhile, we keep plugging along with all the things that we do without the Internet. When we're done at the library, Karen will go swimming at the resort (and I'm sure I'll get an earful from the desk about how horrible it's been without the Internet), and we'll go home to work on dinner and the house.

And, with any kind of luck, we'll be connected again soon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


I'm writing this from a room at the timeshare. I'm not staying for recreation; I'm doing a late shift and the roads are not really safe, so I'm staying at the resort tonight, working a morning shift, then going home. Tiring, to be sure, but better than trying to get home in the aftermath of a blizzard.

It's bad enough that, even with the expected end of the storm coming soon after midnight, the schools have already announced a two-hour delay to give the towns time to make the roads safe for busses.

Naturally, the boys got the day off from school. Karen and Tom decided to stay home, and Erin worked from home until the Internet connection went out across the area. The annoying part of that is that I can't call home until it comes back. I'm writing this on my phone, care of my data plan.

Luckily, Erin's phone sometimes gets just enough signal to get text messages from home, so I was able to learn that the power stayed on at home, and get the message about two-hour delays to Karen before she needed to get boys up and moving.

The Internet outage hit the resort, too, so I've had to put off a fair amount of my work until (with luck) early tomorrow morning. It has made for an interesting and somewhat stressful day.

But everyone is safe and comfortable, and so I can sleep tonight instead of worrying, buoyed by the thought that Spring is nearly here.

Thursday, March 02, 2017


Some time ago, the stone on Karen's ring broke off. She was very lucky, in that it broke off in her pocket, and she was able to hand onto the stone. She has been trying to find a good goldsmith who can remake her ring, combining it with her mother's ring. Meanwhile, she started wearing the band I got her while she was pregnant, when her wedding ring wouldn't fit her fingers. Until that one broke, too.

Hardware is a tough business to be in if you want to take care of the rings on your fingers. So Karen was without a ring for a long time. She tired of that recently, though, and we started to shop for a ring. Since we will, ultimately, be spending a fair amount of money on having a new ring crafted for her, we decided to look at used rings on eBay.

We found a lovely Black Hills Gold ring in the right size at an affordable price. When it arrived, it was even prettier than it looked in the pictures. I presented it to my lovely wife on a dinner date. She's enjoying showing it off to her friends.

Our schedule has been more than a little crazy during the last month. With me going back to work, and having a schedule that is even more unpredictable than Karen's, we have to work harder to spend time together, and still find time for minor details like sleep.

Meals are interesting, because there are days when we're not sure without consulting a calendar who is likely to be home for them. And even then there are interesting surprises. Tonight, for example, I was out shopping, expecting to pick up dinner fixing for five, only to get a call from Tom telling me that he and the boys were planning to go to a Pokemon card event, and that they'd all eat out (including Erin, who met them on her way home).

Karen was working a late shift, so I ended up eating dinner alone. That hasn't happened in a long time.

We'll settle in, though. Tom is moving soon to an evening schedule, which means he won't be joining us for dinners during the week, and the boys are going back to school. I think my schedule may also settle down once my boss has figured out when she needs me most.

At least I hope so. But if not, at least my boys can now take care of themselves, so I can be flexible.

Friday, February 17, 2017


The snow is, as we've become used to this time of year, piled higher than even William's head, leaving us to continually move snow around in an effort to make paths for four cars. That's right, four. I needed a car of my own because I now have a job, and of course it has a schedule that is as unpredictable as Karen's

I'm working the front desk at a timeshare, which is more complicated than it sounds, because unlike a regular hotel, timeshares don't have separate reservation departments, and the front desk people are also responsible for keeping up on the records of the people who own time at the facility. It's making my head spin a bit, but I'm getting the hang of it.

So, in addition to being literally buried, we are metaphorically buried, adapting to these new scheduling demands. Adding to the mix (though in a less-complicated way) is Tom's new job, in a textile factory. He's been hired for the second shift, but the training takes place on the first shift, which starts at 6:00 in the morning. Tom is not a morning person.

William is getting more active, too, working extra time with his culinary class. Last night he worked prep and service for a special Valentine's dinner. Karen and I didn't get to go, because the tickets are sold by the second-level students to their friends and family. Next year, though, because I have no doubt that William will stick with this; he's thriving.

Meanwhile, we deal with the snow. Although there is a lot of it, it won't be around for too much longer. Spring is coming, we keep telling ourselves. The schedule will get even worse, with spring sports and a busier season at the timeshare, but by then we will have worked out the logistics.

Smooth sailing? Well, I don't know about that, but we'll certainly make it work.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Culinary Bonus

Ah, the joys of having a son in culinary arts. It's not just that he cooks for us—he was doing that before he went to high school—but that we're learning things from him. Most recent example: I have been using the bread maker to make dough for bread and buns for years. But William passed on a little wisdom from culinary arts that changed the way I do it.

He told me that, in his class, the bread, particularly the baguettes, only get one rise. I'd always let the dough rise in the bread maker until it told me it was done, and then again in the oven (ours has a "proof" setting, a controlled room temperature for this very purpose). The texture was fine, but now we pull the dough out of the bread maker 30 to 40 minutes before the timer goes off and just do the proofing in the oven.

The texture is softer, denser, and much more uniform when we do it this way. Bonus!

Not only that, but when I'm teaching William how to make something, like my quick clam chowder (canned clams), I don't have to lead him through it. It's just "Dice the potatoes, boil them from cold, then make a roux, add a couple of cups of water, season it once you've got it smooth, add the clams with the juice, add half-and-half, and put the potatoes back in." He does it, and it's wonderful, maybe better than my own. Happy sigh!

Of course, the real advantage to William taking culinary arts is that he absolutely loves it. Even with all the cleaning and prep that he has to do, he looks forward every day to his class. Even today, when he didn't really need to be at school (it was finals make-up day and he didn't have anything to make up), he wanted to make sure he was in his first block to help prep for the restaurant that the program runs.

Any class that makes a sophomore in high school want to be in school more than out is perfect in my book!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sad Days

I haven't been doing a very good job of keeping up on the pictures this week. A dear friend of ours, someone Karen has worked with and been very close to for nearly ten years, died suddenly of a heart attack, and we have been busy with hospital visits and, ultimately, communicating with his relatives, particularly his sister, about arrangements.

It was very shocking. We were going to be at Michael's house for a dinner party the day his heart attack came. He had been very excited about showing off the things he'd done with his house, including a new kitchen which Karen had designed for him. He had even set the table with his guest china the night before. Michael was only 57 years old.

Usually I try to report the pleasant things that are happening in our lives on this blog, and there are plenty of those. There's a new job for me, the weather's been pretty kind to us (although I hear we're going to get slammed with ice tomorrow night), and we certainly have been eating well with everyone in the house cooking.

Still, I thought is was important to tell the story so that you'd know that our neglect of the site (among other things) was not due to ill health or any household calamity. We've just had a lot on our plates, and our minds. The funeral will be on Wednesday, and life will continue, though poor Karen will have to face Michael's absence each day at work.

It also, as deaths at a young age often do, has given us pause and made us think a bit more about what we're spending our time on, and thinking about what we might do to make better use of time.

Speaking of time, our schedules are about to get a little crazy, as once I'm out of my training period, my shifts will be nearly as unpredictable as Karen's. That should make things, well, interesting. It also means there will have to be another car in our driveway very soon. Oh joy.

But the new job will add some flexibility to our finances, and that can only be a good thing.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

It's Like a Heat Wave

Right now, the temperature outside is 45 degrees. We have come far enough in the winter to refer to this as mid-January, and it's 45 degrees. It's been raining. That's right, raining. I went off to the store in shirtsleeves. No coat. Really.

The storm I wrote about was as big as we were led to believe it would be, but not as bad, because (and this seems so strange to me now), the temperature stayed well below freezing and the foot-and-a-half of snow that fell was light, dry, and easy to shovel. It didn't weigh down the trees or the power lines, and all the preparations we made for a power outage turned out to be unnecessary. But I'm ready for the next one, which is bound to come.

I think. It's definitely been a weird winter so far, even just a few weeks in.

Not that I'm really complaining, at least for my own sake, though i do worry that some of my neighbors with shallow wells may not fare so well in the coming summer if we don't get a better snow pack.

Meanwhile, life goes on pretty much as usual. School, work, the perpetual construction on the house—I'm even learning to install a sink for the basement kitchen—and whatever extracurricular activities we can squeeze in.

And, occasionally, sleep, which is what I'm going to try to get some of right now.