Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sleep Deprived

I said I was done whining about how tired I am but clearly that is not the case. There's something about fatigue that just makes me want to whine and complain. Actually, when I'm tired it sort of makes me depressed, and I recall when the kids were babies we never got any sleep and boy was it a challenge. I shouldn't complain because mom took the brunt of that pain and suffering, but I was there next to her for most of it. It's just that I got to go back to sleep while she got up and took care of the kids.

Normally I'm pretty good at functioning with little to no sleep, but as I've gotten older, it's much harder, dare I say impossible, to keep it up for too long. I think the evening employment gig is adding to the burden, which makes sense when you think about it. Work at the Inn seems to go so darn late into the evening, I don't completely understand why, but it's too much. I think they need a bigger crew, or more things need to get done during the day, because by the time we come in for the evening shift, there is a huge workload. Part of the problem is that there are PM events that go late into the evening and we can't clean them up until they are done. Also, there's just a lot going on.

My fatigue is obviously compounded by my day job as well as the schedule for the kids, who have school and hockey events. Boy, when you stop to think about it, it's pretty crazy. Some of us have AM hockey practice that starts at 6:00AM, and that's when things get a little ugly. I'm not sure what people are thinking when they schedule 6:00AM ice time, but I do know that there are people out there that think this is perfectly reasonable. Go figure. What they don't realize is that some parents work well past midnight and getting up at 4:30 is not that easy.

Also, since the days are so busy, there's little if any time to take my sacred naps. No rest for the weary, as the saying goes. Did I mention that I am looking forward to the holidays?

Okay, enough of my whining... again. We'll see how long this lasts.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Brett Davies for the pic.

Nature's Reprieve

I don't know if I was given a sign, but the winter has been a little late in coming and because o this, I have been able to get some yard things done that under normal weather circumstances would have been challenging if not impossible, especially if we had gotten snow like last year. Included in this category is raking, storing the power equipment, and splitting/stacking wood. I've also been able to store the hoses, which froze but thawed later in the day. The wood pile is ongoing and will continue throughout the year, and we did manage to get over to the two gardens and clear them out. The garden was a big thorn in our sides and was bugging us, but we managed to pull out the plants and get them into the compost. Personally I think I'm done with gardening, but more on this later.

In the past I've allowed several of these duties to lapse and simply let them sit over the winter, with adverse consequences, mind you. The big one is the lawnmower, which really should be stored for the winter. I'm pretty anal retentive about the chainsaw and at the very least drain the tank and get the carb cleared, but somehow the lawnmower isn't as much of a priority for me. Against the advice of the pros at Joe's (I'm a poet), I've left the gas in the tank over winter and then tried to start it in the spring, only to have it die out on me. I let it slide again this year but since it's been a warm fall/winter, I was able to finally get it done, thankfully.

I still need to do a few things and it goes without saying that I won't get it all done, but I'll keep plugging away as long as Mother Nature gives me the opportunity.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to derjoe for the pic. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015


As I think I've mentioned, one thing that has suffered greatly in my life is my aspiring writing career. There's so little time and I'm tired all the time, but I'm trying to get back into it. There's always some time, right? You just have to bear down and do it. This is particularly relevant given that my job at the Inn is winding down (the busy season is coming to a close) and I'm not really sure how long I can sustain the marathon-like hours. It's taking it's toll, no doubt. When I'm sitting there feeling sorry for myself over the craziness that has become my life, I always come back to writing as the great hope for our glorious future. The big question is, when is this glorious future going to arrive?

I just recently started writing again for TripAdvisor, and like my blog, it doesn't pay a cent, but I enjoy it, it gives me practice in writing, and definitely involves an area that I am interested in - travel writing. It ain't much, but it's a start. I was at one time a reasonably prolific writer on the site mainly because we travel a fair amount (thanks to mom) and it's easy enough to review the hotels and restaurants that we visit. Since I started working the Inn, TripAdvisor has become relevant once again because at the orientation luncheon that I was required to attend (so corporate America), they kept talking about how important TripAdvisor was to their business. It makes sense in a field where customer must come first.

While I was listening to the big inspirational speech about the importance of image and customer service, it dawned on me that I used to write a lot for TripAdvisor, and maybe it was time to get back into it. Who knows, it might lead to some writing gigs in the travel and hospitality business, you just never know. At the very least it's a venue to keep writing and to keep the muscle, if you can all it that, active and moving. There are some minor perks to being active on TripAdvisor, including some free stuff and some level of recognition by businesses that your opinion matters, which ain't nothing when you really get down to it. We're all looking for a little relevance in our lives, aren't we? Plus, if I'm really lucky, I may get to wear this suit. Hey, you just never know.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Scott Beale for the pic.

Working Man

I've become quiet the working man, and I have to say, it sure takes its toll on a guy when on top of his domestic duties he's also putting in some serious hours at work. There's no question the money is helpful, and I'm grateful to make some dough, but there are times that it's a bit crazy, especially when we work well past midnight, sometimes until 1:00 or 2:00 in the AM. I have to wake up around 6:00 to build the fire and rouse A to get to school, then it starts all over again.

Truth be told, it was the most demanding the first month I started. It was busy season with weddings and all that good stuff, so the place was hopping. The week the kids were away at camp I was doing 12-14 hour days, I kid you not. I started at 8:00AM and finished after 10:00PM, only to start again the next day. I didn't have parental duties which made it all possible, but it was nonetheless a little crazy.

Now things have calmed down a bit, but the work at the Inn still needs to be done and sometimes goes past midnight, which is a bummer. I have other obligations so I can't fulfill all the hours they'd like, but I made it clear that I wasn't looking for full time employment and have to work around my "other" life obligations, which are many. I'm not sure how long I can sustain this, but hopefully things will quiet down a little and maybe I can restore some sanity to my life. Oh yeah, did I mention that hockey season has started?

It's a good thing I'm not the scheduler this year because I really don't think I could have pulled it off.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Megan for the pic.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Another Score at the Listen Center

Patience and persistence pay off, isn't that what they say? Whoever "they" are, of course. We have had certain winter needs that need to be filled, and while it would be much simpler and quicker to just head over to the mall and buy them brand new, I've been scouring the Listen Center looking for bargains. Part of the fun is the challenge of scoring on a deal, but it's also a great way to save money and do something a little more environmentally sound. The consumer/disposable mentality that is prevalent in our world is just not a great way to live, don't you think? For full disclosure, for certain items like hockey gear, getting cheap used stuff is not really a viable option, so we often buy it new.
Whatever be the case, the kids are growing and and their tastes and preferences are changing, as well. They both (sort of) needed new snowboard boots, and N is still need of a good winter coat. His current coat still fits but he's on the cusp of outgrowing it. The problem is that we got him a killer brand name coat at the Listen, and it's a tough act to follow, at least in terms of getting it at the Listen Center. As for A, her snowboard boots (procured at the Listen) still fit her, they're just a pain to put on. His boots are too small.

I go by the Listen regularly just to see if I can luck out, and this past week they had their yearly winter sale, where you can get some amazing deals on real quality stuff, it's just that it's been used. Truth be told, the items are often barely used and in some instances brand new. I've gotten shoes that are still in the box. People just like to buy things and then they never use them or realize they didn't want them in the first place. More often than not, they've been used but are in good condition. I managed to score some boots for both A and N, and they are not only in really good shape, but they're brand names. I was stoked, and now we've fulfilled yet another need for this winter.

N got new skis for his birthday and I'm going to have to get him new bindings which I am not going to find at the Listen, but you can't get everything there, right? You don't want to go too cheap with certain things. All in all a good week at Listen. The search is never ending, but for now we've addressed certain imminent needs. I love when that happens.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Catherine M for the pic.

Perks of Hospitality

Work at the Inn isn't a glamorous job and isn't always easy, but there are definitely some perks. Case in point, I have access to other Inns throughout New England that offer deals to employees. N had a game up in Stowe a week or two back at 8:00AM and it was brutal waking up and driving up there (just for the record, I had to work the night before). I discovered that there is an Inn that is part of our network up there and could have got a deal on a room - a missed opportunity. A week later we had another early morning game in Burlington, and this time I came up with a plan. I contacted an Inn in the area and they offered me a room for $65/night. I only needed it for one night, and not only was it close to the game, but the Inn itself is like a 5 star resort. It was really fancy and nice, way more so than what I would ever pay for. I think because I'm a working class stiff like her, the person I spoke with got us a killer room, complete with a fireplace and a view of the courtyard.

It was fun staying there and N and I loved the room. We had a game about 45 minutes south of the Inn that evening at 7:00PM, then headed up, picked up some supper, and then crashed out in the room. The next morning we got to sleep about 2 hours more than if we'd driven up from home, which was A-okay with us. It actually turns out that there are dozens of Inn throughout New England where we can get deals, so this may turn out to be more fruitful than I ever thought it would be.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Matt Dean for the pic.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Squeaky Wheel

... gets the oil, as the saying goes, or in this case, the jersey as well as a flogging from the guy who has to hear all that darn squeaking. Like everything in our lives, getting a hockey jersey for N turned into a complete fiasco, albeit it a harmless and entertaining one, thanks in large part to my neurotic OCD. Then again, who doesn't love a good story (though this is a long one)?

N has been playing hockey for several years, and with the exception of his first year, he has had the same number every season. He's hardly alone in this, and every kid wants to keep his number from one year to the next. How can you blame them? N has managed to keep his and last season his jersey started to get a little snug. This past year he, like all kids, grew a little and this is where the story gets interesting. Being the anal retentive planner that I am, I initiated talks last season with the equipment manager MB about getting him a bigger jersey with the same number, and of course it wasn't going to be a simple matter.

The reason for this was because one of the star players in the older division had the same jersey, and he wasn't about to give it up any time soon. I asked if there were any others in the storeroom and was told no, so clearly we had a problem. I even inquired about the possibility of purchasing a jersey, which I realize is foolishness, but what's the harm in asking? Well, as luck would have it, the older player in question was in his last years of youth hockey and would potentially focus on high school hockey, thus relinquishing his jersey. There was also the possibility of going to a select team, resulting in the same conclusion. I emailed MB and mentioned that if this happened, could we please get his jersey.

Sure enough, over the summer I spoke with the star player's dad and learned that he was going to play for a prep school, and a powerhouse one at that. Beautiful. To me, the clouds had parted and the rays of the sun were shining brightly upon us, which of course was a classic case of counting my chickens before they hatched. You'd think by now I would have learned, because like everything in my life, this was not going to go smoothly, at least not without a little kicking and screaming.

When the season began, I contacted MB and asked if we could get the jersey in question, upon which he informed me that he had given it to another player who needed a size up. What? I couldn't believe it? Hadn't I made the proper arrangements already? Didn't I make it clear last season that we were pining away for this jersey? Whatever be the case, what was done was done, and you can't give a youth hockey volunteer a hard time because they are donating their time and they don't need to hear parental groaning. I know this first hand because I was the scheduler for 3 years and even though I didn't get paid a dime, that didn't discourage people for ripping me to shreds over the schedule.

I told N that he had to wear a different number this season, and he was fine with it. I'm sure he was bummed but he never complained, he's just that way. I went to the storeroom and searched for a jersey and this is where the story takes another turn. While rifling through the different jerseys I couldn't help but notice that there on the rack was a jersey with the number we wanted. Did the other person change their mind? Did they have an extra one, after all? I contacted MB and he said it was an adult medium and might be too big, but if we wanted, we were welcome to take it. I could sense that he was pretty irritated by me at this point, and I could hardly blame him. I asked N his thoughts and he enthusiastically said yes, so I grabbed the jersey and you'd think that at this point the story was done and over, but that's never the case when yours truly is involved.

So now we had 3 sets of jerseys: the old one that was too small, the new one that might be too big but had the right number, and the new one that fit but had the wrong number. Once we had decided on a set, we needed to sew N's name on the back, and I didn't know how to use a sewing machine. I got a crash course from mom, and being the foolishly optimistic person that I am, I attempted to sew his name on. The thing is, I chose an hour before practice to do this, and it just happened to be the day they were taking team and individual pictures. Talk about biting off more than I could chew.

As you can imagine, sewing his name on a hockey jersey ended up being a bit of a disaster, and I had to scream and holler for mom to come to the rescue, which she is so good at. That didn't solve our problem of needing a jersey for team pics, because mom wasn't going to be home until later, and we needed to get to practice. Well, as luck would have it, we still had the jersey with the wrong number, so I figured he could just wear that for pics because you only see the front in the pictures. We went with it and it was fine until after practice, when MB came up to me afterward. His son plays, as well, so he was watching the practice and wondered why exactly N was wearing that particular jersey after I had made such a stink about getting the one with his number on it. I was beginning to wonder if there was ever going to be an end to this drama?
I didn't have time to explain it to him, not that he wanted to hear the story, and just told him that we'd be returning two sets of jerseys and that we were happy and grateful to get the one that we wanted. It turned out to be a happy ending, albeit a long and dramatic one.

The story of my life. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Sal for the pic.