Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Big Storm and Hearing From My Mom

We survived the first big storm of the season, and at least up here, it wasn’t as bad as Irene. The rest of the east coast got hit hard, and it’s pretty incredible to see the amount of damage that was done. We were bracing ourselves for the worst, and got our emergency supplies in order. It was rather serendipitous that we had a blackout a few weeks back that highlighted our shortcomings in our emergency preparedness.

This time around, we made sure we had fresh batteries, candles, and water to flush the toilet. It helps to anticipate the storm ahead of time because you can be that much more prepared. The storm was big enough news that I actually heard from my mom, which was shocking, though in a nice way. She asked how we were doing and all that good stuff, I appreciated the call.

The storm itself was pretty substantial, with strong winds and plenty of rain, but I don’t think we ever lost power, and for the most part, we came out unscathed. I’m grateful for that, though we did lose a tree. Our hammock tree, no less. Now I have to dust off my chainsaw and fire it up, but if that’s the extent of our travails, I’m in no position to complain.

Our hearts go out to the people south of us, and we hope everything works out.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to kakela for the pic.

Whopper of a Day

We had a whopper of a day last week. In addition to making movies, we were to watch our friend’s kids, then off to hockey for all three of us. At hockey, the had a party for N’s team, so we had to make a food item, but it was all good, we pulled it off, and I have to say I’m proud of the kids for working hard. Their diligence is what made it sort of complicated, but I’m all for it if it involves something creative and rewarding.

Now there is a local movie competition coming up for Halloween, and the kid’s book group decided to make a film to submit to the contest. They worked hard on the script and filming, and the final step was to edit it. Since A is the one with the most experience with the software, she was in charge of doing the final cut, using the program Final Cut, no less. This involved a day at the studio.

The kids all met over there to film one final scene, and then they went to work on the computers. A is pretty good with the program, and she worked really hard. As is usually the case with projects like this, complications arise. The group went over the allotted time, and there was more editing that had to be done, but the other kids had places to be. So A agreed to stay on and edit the piece until it was finished. We had nowhere to be anytime soon, so I told her to take her time and went got them some lunch.

It was originally set for 10:00 to 11:00, but we ended up there well past 1:00PM. At some point I had to pick up HH’s kids, so I told A to keep working and drove back to town to get A&I at school. We then headed back to the studio where they watched A finish the edits, which is kind of cool. When it was done, it was well past noon, and we had to be at hockey around three. I was proud of the kids for working so hard and being so dedicated/diligent.

This gave us just enough time to head over to the big city and get some gelato, then back to our house to await the arrival of HH. During this time I made kettle corn for the hockey party. HH showed up around 3:00, we chatted for a few minutes, then we were off and running to hockey. N had the first practice, followed by A. I got her a sandwich for supper because her practice was the same time as N’s pizza party, though I managed to save her some food, so she ended up chowing down on a sandwich, pizza, cookie, and cupcake. I expressed my surprise at her eating so much food, but in her defense, she did have a long hockey practice.

Now all this would have been a crazy day in itself, but after A’s practice was my hockey game. R offered to come get the kids, but they wanted to stay for my game. There was also a parent meeting for A’s team, which I missed, but because of it, several of the kids stayed behind, so the kids could all play together. It worked out beautifully. Plus, there was a bucket of kettle corn leftover, which the girls all devoured. How’s that for a healthy dinner?

After our game, we loaded up the car and headed home to see mom. It was one heck of a day, but you realize how much you can do if you just stop fretting about it and just do it. Words of wisdom for the wise.

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

In Demand for Boards

I don’t know what to make of this, but I’m being asked to help out in a number of areas, and though it’s nice to be considered for these jobs, assuming their asking because they either like you or think you’re competent, it’s all a bit overwhelming. Part of me wants to help, but part of me also knows I’ll regret it. Then again, it’s better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t done, right?

I’ve been pretty busy with the hockey stuff between the board and the scheduling, which is a bear of a job. I’d been told that once the season starts, all your work goes out the window, and then when the state tournament starts, it all goes out the window again. I’m experiencing the first part as we speak, because people keep canceling games, leaving me to scramble to fill the holes. It’s a good example of trying to please everyone and then pissing everyone off. Oh well, what else is new in my life?

I’m also doing the PR work for the team, which is fine because it involves writing and connecting with people who work in print. This is easy enough because it doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’s good for the team and program. Plus, the kids love to see their name in the paper.

We had some drama on our library board, as well, because the director is leaving. This is heartbreaking for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is that we really love our director. She’s amazing, and we felt so lucky to have her, but now she’s moving on to greener pastures. We’ll miss her, but it also means we’ll have to find a replacement, and that’s a whole process in and of itself.

Finally, I was asked to be on the board of directors for the local TV station. What is it with all these boards? For the record, this is a job I might be interested in, because it involves media and may at some point mean writing work. Plus, it’s kind of cool working with a TV station, don’t you think? A&N have been doing all sorts of stuff over there, and they have great resources for kids to learn about making movies and TV programs. The time commitment is not horrible, but like everything, it’s not nothing, so we’ll see.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to write up the hockey report for the paper.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Sheraton Hotels and Resorts for the pic.

Finished Painting

It took a couple of days, but I finally managed to finish painting the back side of this house. It feels good to be done with it, especially with winter on the horizon. Not only is the wood protected, but it looks better, as well. If you look hard enough or have an expert eye, you can see a slight difference in tone because the lower half is a year older, but that doesn’t apply to me because like most people, I see what I want to see, and it looks just fine.

I was glad also for the fact that I still had paint/stain left over from the previous attempt at painting the house, enough to finish the job. That meant avoiding the need to purchase more paint, which meant saving money. Always a good thing in my book. Also, having done this the previous couple of years, I’m definitely more comfortable with the drill, meaning setup and cleaning, but also working high up on the ladder. During previous jobs, I was so scared standing on that ladder that I was practically paralyzed with fear. This time around I was much more comfortable, which surely must mean that I’m moving closer to being a real man, right? Then again, when you get too comfortable, you tend to make stupid mistakes.

There are two more sides that haven’t been painted, the gable ends, but they still look fine, and I’ve taken care of the most important sides, the front and the back, which gets the most sun exposure. I think I’m done painting for the season and will retire the painting supplies. One less thing on my plate, and I’m grateful for that.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to m.a.r.c. for the pic.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tackling the Vestibule

This has become the number one priority in my list of real man jobs, after of course everything else in my life, like being a dad. Just kidding, sort of. Either way, the vestibule has been sitting in limbo for about a year, if not more, and not only is it probably making R crazy, but it’s bugging me that I can’t find the wherewithal to finish it. It doesn’t help being clueless, either, but excuses won’t get you anywhere in life other than the land of disappointment.

I took the first step and sought out the help of a contractor friend who said he could drywall the room, it just needed to finish the floor and the walls, i.e. insulation. I headed over to LaValley’s and picked up a roll, though I realized that I got the wrong stuff, sort of. The standard width of a wall stud is usually 4 inches, using 2X4s, but this house and the barn were done with 2X6 boards. So when I asked for insulation, the guy gave me 3.5 inch insulation, when in fact I needed 5.5 inch, or something like that.

My first impulse was to say I can’t do this, I need to exchange it, but after thinking it over, I realized that was stupid. Of course I could still use it, it wasn’t optimal, but it would work. Plus, there’s 1 inch blue board on the sheathing, so the fiberglass would be fine. Also, we’ve been living with nothing on those walls for a year, so anything is an improvement on the current situation.

So I went for it. It didn’t take long, and was pretty easy. I just cut it to length, which in retrospect I probably didn’t even need to do, and then stapled the stuff in. Voila, we have insulation. I hate to seem over confident, but it was pretty easy. I need to deal with the floor and some trim work, but now that I’m brimming with real-man confidence, I think I can get it done sooner than later. Then again, talk is cheap.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

The Better Lumber Place

I’m not a contractor (I just play one on TV), but I like to do an occasional wood project, and of course I go with what is cheapest and easiest to obtain. In other words, pine all the way. Making a standard shelf or crate with 1X12 pine board is probably the easiest project for the likes of me. Plus, pine can be obtained at any number of places, whereas hard wood is tougher to find and much more expensive.

I figured Home Depot was the place to get wood because they just seem cheaper for a lot of things, but I found that the wood at Britton’s was maybe even a little cheaper. Could that be possible? I called HD for pine boards and they quoted me some outrageous price, and then Britton’s, which was more reasonable. Plus, according to KB, the lumber at Britton’s is superior in quality. Factor in the their convenient location and the cool guys who work there, and it’s a no-brainer. I’m going to Britton’s for my lumber.

This could warrant a more involved price comparison, but for now I’m happy with my decision.

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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Contractor #7

With KB seemingly out of the picture, I spoke with a friend who is also a contractor, and he said he would be interested in taking on the project. That is, of course, until he finds greener pastures and ignores us, as well. He said up front that winter is a tough time for him because he likes to snowboard (great), but at least he said he’d be ready by spring to hit the ground running. Plus, he isn’t going to snowboard every day, I think. If he could work a day or two a week, I’d be satisfied, but we’ll see.

He also is a drywall guy, so he can help with the vestibule, and said as much. He stopped by and had a look, and his rate is reasonable because I think he’s sort of green, which is good and bad. I’m all for green because it usually means he’s not a dictator and his rates are usually lower. On the downside, green means that he doesn’t have as much experience and is thus still learning.

Oh well, you can’t have it all. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Leifskandsen for the pic.

Dedicated Film Maker

A has been part of a group that has been making a film with her book group, and I think they’ve been having a blast. The CATV studio is so cool, state of the art I would say, and they let the kids have complete access to all the equipment. What’s nice about it all is that the movie is all their creation, from story board, to script, to filming, and finally, editing.

A has the most experience in the group, and the man in charge is very supportive and encouraging of her. Since she understands the process the best, she has had a huge role in the making of this film, from start to finish. They wanted to submit their movie to a contest, and there was still a lot of work to be done. The met over the weekend to do the final filming, and then on Wednesday A went to finalize the editing before the Thursday deadline.

What struck me was how diligent and dedicated she was. Originally she was supposed to go in for an hour to do the editing, but after an hour, it was clear she needed more time. We were supposed to pick up A&I at the school from a half day, but A was still hard at work, so I went alone, got the girls, brought them to the studio, and they got to watch A hard at work. All in all, it took nearly three hours to get it all done. Lucky for us our schedule was flexible, so I told her she could take as much time as she needed, given that the studio would allow her to keep working on their computers (they did). I was proud of her, she really took it seriously and did a fantastic job. Our little girl is growing up.

I love the fact that she’s a take charge kind of person, and was willing to put in the time and effort, despite the presence/distraction of her best friend. She really acted the part of a leader, taking pride in her work. Like her drama teacher said, she sees a director in A, and I can’t help but agree.

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

Locker Room Fun

This is too cute for words, but the guys on N’s team get a little crazy before practices, and it’s hilarious. I think the girls get just as crazy and have just as much fun, at least that’s what A has said, but guys are not allowed in there.

The other day in the locker room I was helping the kids get ready and one of them had an iPod with speakers. They started blasting the current trendy song, which amazingly enough is from South Korea, called Gangnam Style, or something like that. It’s your basic synthesized, over produced song that sounds like every other, it’s just that for whatever reason, this song is all the rage. What made it hilarious is all the boys were singing it out loud, it was a scream.

Now I made the quintessential parental blunder and helped the kids get their skates on without having them at least try. In other words, I took the easy way out and just did it, rather than have them try their best and begin the process of doing it themselves. Oh well, live and learn. The key is not to make the same mistake twice, or else earn the wrath of DF.

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

Almost There

If you can believe it, the hockey season is about to begin, and the excitement is palpable. It’s hard to imagine that for the next few months, our lives will be about pretty much one thing, not that it’s a bad thing. The kids are excited, and this will be an interesting year because not only are they both playing full time, but dads playing, as well. All we need is to have R join in and we’ll be complete hockey junkies, not that we aren’t, already.

I do think there are many positives to being on the team for the kids, and not only because they’re having a blast. The other kids on the teams are really nice, and not only do our kids have a cool social outlet, but they get to be a part of something bigger than themselves and learn about teamwork, hard work, and sacrifice. Plus, down the line there are lessons about disappointment and triumph. From there, the possibilities are unlimited.

We had a team meeting the other night and the coach gave a speech about what he expected and what the players should expect, and for me personally, it was pretty moving. Not to get overly sappy, but the guy is completely dedicated to hockey, and not just to win. He really stresses character and growth, and he wants the kids to develop more as people than just players. It’s nice to see and hear.

The great thing about it is the kids really respond, and I see it in both of them. They are more than happy to comply to DF requests, or should I say expectations, of them as responsible people. He asks that the parents leave them to prepare for games and maintain their equipment, and on some level, to stay out of the locker room, it’s really all about the team. I can appreciate that. Character building, it’s all in the little things. Best of all, the kids have embraced being more responsible, and I wonder if they would be as enthused had the request come from me.

I wish I could say this would be the case, but somehow I doubt it.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Disappointed in Lou’s

As much as I love Lou’s, I have to admit, the last cake that we got for N’s birthday was disappointing. I expected better from them, and in the end, the cake was reminiscent of some store bought deal from Shaws. It looked nice, and the cake part was good, but the frosting tasted like sweetened Crisco. Oh well, live and learn.

Part of the problem was that I broke from protocol. Usually we get the chocolate mousse cake, which is to die for. Somehow they get the frosting soft and chewy, and it’s amazing. I wanted something with a hockey them, so naturally it should be white, right? They said the mousse was the one cake they couldn’t do in white, so I went with another cake we like, the Hanover Fudge.

Now this is where I think I made a mistake. I asked for a white cake all over, when I should have asked for a regular Hanover Fudge, just with white on the top, only. What happened was they made everything white, not just the top and sides, but the frosting in between the layers, as well. As I mentioned, it was the crappy Crisco frosting. I’d seen cakes just like it for half the price at King Arthur Flour.

Not that it mattered, the kids loved it, and I was able to make a hockey scene, so all’s well that ends well, right?

Not! Next time I’m not going to get too crazy and stick with what we know is good.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Game Night

I had my first adult hockey game last week (this is how we looked), and it sure was fun, though I need to keep working on my game. I don’t have loads of experience, though I do have loads of expectations (daydreams?), for better or worse. The level of play I think is a notch above what I saw over the summer, but not overwhelmingly so. Like always, when I first entered the locker room, the guys all seemed like they knew what they were doing and had a lot of experience in the game.

I, on the other hand, am the neophyte, this being my first real winter hockey season. There’s a lot to learn, and unfortunately, I have to learn it all by fire. No practicing or coaching here, though I am free to ask questions and get advice. There was a family open stick right before, so I was able to warm up and get my footing on the ice.

One the game started, it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. First, I got to play center, which suits me because it’s the most straightforward position. I don’t have to worry about what side I’m on, I just go get the puck. At least that’s what I’ve been told. When I first met my teammates, just like over summer, it seemed like they were all pros and were going to skate circles around me.

Once the game started, however, it became clear that that was not necessarily the case. Sure, there are players who have loads of experience over me and can leave me in their wake, but for the most part, I think I fall in the middle of the pack, at least in terms of skating. In terms of handling the puck and being a hockey player, I’m still a serious novice, but I’m getting better. That’s why I’m out there, right?

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

Clash of the Titans

One thing you learn when you volunteer on a board is that you just can’t please everyone. I guess this is something you learn in almost every aspect of your life when you venture out in the world, and it makes me wonder at times if people just weren’t meant to exist together.

Then again, it could be a guy thing. The library board that I work with is very civil and everyone gets along. In the couple of years that I’ve been doing it, I don’t think there’s ever been a argument or quarrel, and if anything, it’s all very pleasant. The hockey stuff, on the other hand, almost always ends up with some heated discussions. Sure, it kind of boils down to a select few big personalities, but it sure can get a little heated. You can practically cut the testosterone with a knife.

Normally this wouldn’t be such a bad thing, and might even make for good entertainment, it’s just that it makes the meetings go on forever with all that bickering.

Oh well, maybe guys just need to do battle, it’s in our Y-chromosome.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to abc.photography01 for the pic.

Hitting the Ice

We’ve been pretty active on the ice for the past couple of weeks, and it sure is fun. The kids have been practicing and I’ve been helping out with the coaching, even though I have little clue as to what I’m doing, I just do what I’m told. Even then, I don’t completely know what I’m doing. When you listen to DF talk hockey, you realize how much thinking goes into the game. Man do I feel inadequate, but what else is new?

I will say this, when it comes to finding the right person to lead your kids in learning hockey and building character, I can’t think of anyone who fits the bill better than DF, the guy is Mr. Hockey. His enthusiasm and energy are infectious, as you may have gathered by the fact that I’m completely immersed in this game.

Not only is there practice for the kids, but we’ve been going to open sticks, public skates, and all sorts of other skating activities.

I think we’re ready for some hockey, don’t you?

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

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy Hockey Birthday

Birthdays for our kids are always a stressful affair for me, and not because there is so much to logistically address. My big source of stress is really wanting, more than anything, for the kids to have fun and be happy. In other words, it’s really important that they have a nice birthday.

This does not always mean that we have to throw a huge party, and if anything, that is not always so fun, at least for me. Parties are way too stressful, but if they really wanted one, and I was unable to completely dissuade them, then sure, we’d have a party. Fortunately, it hasn’t come to that, yet.

This past weekend was N’s big day, and in lieu of any parties, we wanted to do things that he wanted to do. Of course, there were cool presents involved, as well. The weather was poor, so we couldn’t do one of his first choices, which was golf. There were several hockey games over at Dartmouth, and he had hockey practice, as did his sister. He wanted to catch all three games.

The day of his birthday was the first official practice, and it unfortunately conflicted with the first preseason Dartmouth women’s hockey game against McGill. We had to make some choices, and his first thought was to skip his own practice, go to dinner, and then to the Dartmouth game. R and I were a little reluctant because the first practice for his team seemed like a big deal, and the coach, DF, is pretty serious about his hockey. Plus, there was a mandatory team/parent meeting afterward, and A wanted to go to her practice, but agreed to go along with whatever N wanted, albeit begrudgingly.

We talked it over with N and came up with a compromise. Since there were three Dartmouth games this weekend, we could miss one and maybe be late to another. We felt it important for him to show up for his practice, so we hatched a plan. We would go to his practice and then get to the game late, but would bring cupcakes to celebrate his birthday at the practice with his teammates. This also required making cupcakes for all of A’s team, since they would be on the ice at the same time.

In the AM, he got to open some of his presents and we had a special birthday breakfast of pancakes that R made. While everyone was eating, we also made cupcakes for the team. Since one of his teammates has a gluten allergy, we made gluten free cupcakes with a mix from King Arthur, and for the record, they were better than regular cupcakes. I mean that.

For lunch, we headed over to Stella’s and had the usual killer meal, we love that place. Then, we went over to his practice, where he was on the ice at the same time as A. It was nice, the kids really love hockey, and I helped out on with the coaching even though I have no clue what I’m doing. After practice, we gave out cupcakes to N’s team and A’s team, and we had the big team meeting.

Now I figured it would take 5-10 minutes and then we’d be on our way, missing at most the first 10 minutes of the first period, but the meeting went for about 45 minutes. Afterward, I was thinking it was not worth going to the game, but we promised N that’s what we would do, so we had to follow through. The whole time we were driving to the arena, I kept thinking, this is silly, it’s too late. I was ready to just go home.

Anyway, after I whined quietly to myself for a moment, we continued on and finally arrived at the women’s game. We missed about half the game, but in the end, it was fun watching them, and I’m glad we went. I’m still in awe of the women’s hockey team, they are so incredible. We were planning on getting a hot dog for supper, but the concessions were closed. Bummer.

The game ended around 9:00, and I was starving. We jetted over to Boloco and got burritos, wolfed them down, and went to bed. I think it was a nice birthday for N because he got to do a lot of the things he wanted, and he got to celebrate with his teammates.

On Saturday we had his birthday dinner after, you guessed it, hockey practice. There was a Dartmouth men’s hockey game that afternoon, but we couldn’t pull that one off. We had a great supper at Jesse’s, N got his favorite, sirloin steak, which was amazing. I had a bite. He also got a free desert and they sang to him, which always kind of fun. He’s really cute because people dote on him and he’s very composed about it all.

I forgot to mention, we also got him a birthday cake from Lou’s, and I have to confess, it was pretty average. I expected more from them, but live and learn. More on this later.

There is one last Dartmouth hockey game that we can make it to, and I’m thinking we’ll go for it.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fitting It All In

Our schedules are pretty full these days, and I think on the one hand it’s a good thing, but on another, it’s a little crazy. We try to make sure we have at least one day in the week when we stay put at home so we can all be domestic and maybe I can even get some work done around the house/yard... yeah, right.

At times this means that the kids have no planned activities and may get a little bored, but I don’t think this is a bad thing, because being over scheduled leads to a neurotic adulthood, and down time spent in your own head leads to thoughtfulness and the ability entertain oneself.

Either way, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have our days of craziness. When I look back on them I’m amazed that we get through them. Book club days are like that. The kids really enjoy it, and I’m grateful that N gets to take part because it’s a great group of kids, but the timing forces me to get not only an early lunch together, but I have to have that evening’s supper ready, as well, because as soon as we’re out the door, there’s no coming back until the evening.

One downside to all this madness is that the kids don’t get to play together afterward. In the past they would hang out and play for hours, sometimes going until dinner time. We would often have the whole gang come over to our house and they would get crazy, though for the record, they never destroyed the house like some kids I’ve met do. A testament to the fact that they’re just good kids.

Our schedules no longer allow for this, however. Right after book club we have video camp, and then after that, hockey for both kids. That means two huge hockey bags for them, and my equipment as well because I’m helping to coach. I used to go with N to the skate park, but with all that gear, I can’t fit his bike in the trunk anymore. I toyed with the idea of putting the bike rack on, but at some point you just have to make due without. I did manage to put the pod on the roof rack for more storage space, and thanks go out to my Mentor for that.

All in all, it’s a long day, but we sure do love hockey, and it works out fairly well because R has her Zumba class that evening, so she gets home around the same time as us. We can all sit down to a nice supper and tell each other about how crazy our lives are. Then again, it’s like Charles Bukowski said, “Some people never go crazy. What horrible lives they must lead.”

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sock it to Me

We have sock issues in our home. It’s easy in the summer, the kids don’t really wear socks during the warm months, going with bare feet most of the time, or wearing the Crocs, which for the record are some the greatest kid’s shoes ever invented.

I, on the other hand, tend to be a sock and shoe kind of guy, especially when I’m working in the yard or house. Also, I tend to wear socks when I’m working in the kitchen, which is pretty much all day, because our floor is white, and when it gets when, I tend to leave foot prints.

Anyway, R goes crazy trying to keep all the socks in order. We tend to wear them and leave them lying around the house, and as you can imagine, this does not make her happy. She finally put out a bin and put everyone’s socks in there. She said socks go either in the bin or in the laundry. End of story.

The problem is, with a huge bin full of socks, I can’t find my own! It seems as if I spend all this time searching for my socks, and if I’m in a rush, I end up wearing whatever I can find. This does not make me a happy camper, especially with winter arriving. You realize the importance of having good socks.

I decided to do something about it, and built a sock bin, with a compartment for each of us. The wood part was easy, it was the staining and finishing that took the most time. Now that it’s done, I’m hoping that I can find more socks more easily. At the very least, it sort of looks nice, or at least nicer than the old bin, and I get to feel that warm glow of accomplishment in having addressed a situation and come up with a solution.

I love when that happens.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Shake and Bake

If you can believe this, we actually had an earthquake last night. It’s like being back in LA. I was with the kids coming back from hockey, so we didn’t feel it, but R was a little shaken, no pun intended. She said she was in the house when she heard rumbling upstairs, almost as if there were animals running around. She was bummed. When we got home, it smelled of skunks, which is nothing new, but I wonder if the shaking disturbed them and they sprayed.

We were right about to have supper and were trying to figure out what might have happened when we decided to call our neighbors, the H’s, and they confirmed that it was in fact an earthquake. The epicenter was in Maine, but they said it was felt all way down by the Massachusetts border. Crazy.

I was thinking that aside from Irene, this area is reasonably safe from the big natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, but I may have to change my tune.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to tim phillips photos for the pic.

Power Outage

The other night we lost power, and it seemed like it came out of the blue, or rather, out of the black. We’re no stranger to power outages, they happen all the time, but usually because of strong winds or rain, or even snowy, icy conditions. It was a perfectly normal evening, and not even that cold.

Unfortunately, it hit right as we were about to eat supper. On a bright note, dinner was made, so we could eat by candlelight, but between supper and bedtime is when we use the most water in this house, either for washing dishes, brushing teeth, or most importantly, using the toilet. We couldn’t do any of the above.

Luckily, there was still dish water left from supper prep, so R could at least clear the muck off the plates. We have fresh water bottles stored just for this reason, so we could brush our teeth and have a drink. It’s the use of the toilet that really suffer, or should I say, we really suffer? I have a big plastic bin in the basement filled with water that we use to “flush” the toilets, but it never really does the job as nicely as a normal flush. Then again, you do what you have to do, and it’s better than nothing.

Truth be told, when all of us needed to use the facilities, it all worked out fine. Not perfect, but nothing’s perfect in life, right? What the power outage really brought to life, however, was how were not really prepared in an optimal manner for a blackout. Now you don’t crystal clear fresh water to flush a toilet, but it’s a lot more pleasant if it’s clean. The water wasn’t that bad, but it did have some debris and bugs floating around.

Also, the batteries in our good flashlights were dying, and I didn’t have back-ups. Shame on me. We did have plenty of candles, however. I decided the next day to clean out the bin and fill it with fresh water, and to get new batteries for all the flashlights. It might be another two years before we lose power again (highly unlikely), but at least we’ll be ready.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Winter Cleaning and Making Ice

Talk about a dedicated hockey family, we went over to the arena and helped to clean up and make the ice. I am well aware of becoming too involved with something that might be perceived as superfluous in the grand scheme of life, but the kids really wanted to do it, and I am always happy to help. It’s important, however, to always maintain perspective and remember that we’re here to have fun, and it’s only a game... yeah, right.

The ice came in this week, but before the rink opened, there were tons of things that needed to be done, including cleaning and making the ice. We’d helped a little in the past, mainly holding the hose and cleaning the glass, but this time around, we were a little more involved. It helped that other kids were there and the kids had a blast. As one of the mothers said, even self-entertaining is helpful.

We headed over during the end of last week and did some cleaning. The rink was being prepped for the ice, so the building was cold and the infrastructure in place. There was still time before the ice was put in, so we did some sweeping and mopping, and cleaning of glass. The kids were great, they worked hard and didn’t make a stink about having to work. It helped that we were the only ones there, so they didn’t feel like they were missing out on the fun.

Over the weekend, the kids said they wanted to go back and work on the ice. I was hesitant because as much as I love hockey, I don’t want it to completely consume us, especially before the season even starts. They wanted to do it, and the weather was dark and rainy, so they couldn’t really do a lot outside. Also, R needed to do get some work done, so she wasn’t going to complain about some solitude. So the decision was made, and we headed over.

This time around, there were a lot more people, and tons of kids. This worked out beautifully because A&N had a blast playing with their new teammates, and I could get some work done without having to worry about them. We went in that late morning, thinking we’d be there for a couple of hours, and instead ended up staying for about five hours. Everyone was content about this.

It was nice that they had pizza, and the rain subsided enough so that the kids could go out and run around on the football field. By around 4:00, I decided it was time to roll, and even then, they didn’t want to go because the other kids were going to linger. I had to practically pry them away.

All in all, it was a good weekend. We got to help out DF at the rink, the kids worked hard and showed a lot of initiative, they had a load of fun, and R was able to have some quiet time to get some work done.

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cleaning Windows

This weather has been crazy, though I’ve learned that it’s a waste of time, energy, and emotion to complain. The weather is what it is, you can’t do a thing about it. After a dry, warm summer, Mother Nature has decided to make up for lost time and give us rain, and plenty of it. It’s been raining for the past several weeks, and though we get a break or two, it’s been very consistent. I shouldn’t whine because we need the rain, but it’s a drag when it goes on for days. Maybe this is an indication of what winter will be like.

We had one day of clear weather, and that finally gave me a chance to address the windows. I have this ambitious goal of cleaning all the windows, painting the interior trim, and in some instances, replacing the storm windows all together. This is the case for A’s room, which is the coldest. I was painting her storm window when I noticed the frame was rotting, and when I tried to remove it, it completely fell apart.

The upside to this is that when I looked into replacements, I found you can get much nicer, better insulating storm windows. In fact, you can’t even get the same windows that we have, they’re so old. I’m hoping that this, in conjunction with my shelf sealing project, will help to keep her room a little warmer. We shall see.

The nice weather was also a chance to me to clean some of the downstairs windows, and let me tell you, it was a bit of a chore. The windows are filthy, not just the glass, but the frames, as well. They seem to collect all sorts of bugs, spider webs, and dirt. I figured it was something we had to live with. Then I realized that I could remove the storm windows and voila, I could access all that stuff. I cleaned out the grime then painted the trim, and does it ever look better. I also cleaned the glass on the storms and the windows, which amounts to four sides. Quite the job.

It took me hours to get five windows done, but it was worth it. Once we remove the screens the windows will look even better, so we can enjoy the view that much more.

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

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Busy but Great Weekend

With the weekend looming, I’m reminded of how busy our weekends can be. Just wait until hockey season starts. Over Columbus Day weekend and we were all over the map, helping out with the bake sale, hanging in the big city, eating at our beloved Boloco. The bake sale was fun, more so for the kids than dad, but what else is new? I’m not always comfortable in group social settings, or for that matter, situations where I feel redundant. I just stand around and feel stupid, and that always seems to be the case at parties or barbecues.

It’s hard not to want to help, though, because hockey parents are dedicated like no other, and I guess my presence is appreciated, but more often than not, I feel like my time would be better spent at home splitting wood or painting, or even taking a nap. I would opt for the last one.

The bake sale seemed to go well, nonetheless. They were busy, and had a killer location right where all the tour buses would stop. People would literally get off the bus, mill around the village, and get a bite to eat before climbing back on board and heading off into the sunset. You realize that people just like to vacation that way, it’s safe and predictable. It was good for bake sale business, that’s for sure. It helped having the kids out there promoting it, they’re so cute. Plus, A&N had fun both days because as I mentioned, their friends were there, and they got to eat burgers, hot dogs, and cookies and cake. What’s not to love?

We also met up with mom in the big city and had supper at Boloco, then on a whim went to the Dartmouth soccer game. The women played first, then the men. I think Dartmouth won both games, but it was kind of fun watching. I’m not a huge soccer fan, but it’s fun to be out there checking out the game, though it was a late night for us.

We hit the bake sale one last day, and then the weekend was over, but we sure had fun. The weather is getting cooler, the trees are losing their leaves, and fall is here. That means hockey is on the horizon, not to mention skiing and the holidays. Can’t wait.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to id-iom for the pic.

Head of the Class

This past week I had to run the karate class, and as much as I am reluctant to do so, it went fine. The class is small, and the higher belts are always supportive while the lower belts are young and enthusiastic. It’s good to hold class for their benefit because they are just learning and it’s helpful for them to have a consistent place to learn. Otherwise, they lose interest and stop showing up.

It’s not right to complain, either, when either Sensei H or Master H can’t make it because they work so hard and volunteer their time, it’s a gift that they are so dedicated. So, what choice do I have other than to lead the class? I’m not a leader, I just play one on TV. Fortunately, PC is at the same level as me, and he’s very responsible and can easily lead the class, as well, so I’m not alone.

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

A Little Squirrelly

The other day A had her video stuff and N and I had to two hours to fill. Normally I’d just go home, but we were in the big city, and it was too far to go home then go back and get her. We started going to the local skate park, which is actually kind of cool with all sorts of jumps and ramps that the skateboarders like to use. It’s also nice for young kids like N to ride his scooter, or more recently, his bike. It’s pretty cool to watch him go, he’s definitely got some X-games in him. I can see him surfing one day... hopefully soon.

Now as some of you may know, skateboarders can have an edge to them. Now I don’t mean to be so prejudiced, but I surfed most of my life and have been around plenty of skateboarders, but somehow the ones who skate but don’t surf seem even more edgy. At the park, the kids who skateboard are actually nice kids, but some of them seem like they just got out of juvenile hall.

In fact, I overheard one of them talking about going his past life as a perp and his current life in rehab, so it was clear that his days as an altar boy are over. All that is fine and well, it’s their lives and none of my business, but it’s hard to sit and relax and watch N have fun while all these rough characters are flying around him. They are nice and considerate, especially to him, but at some point there are bodies whizzing by everywhere, and I worry about him. Plus, teenage boys will be teenage boys, especially when they’re bored and disaffected.

Oh well, as long as he’s having fun, and is somewhat oblivious about the whole scene, then maybe it’s okay. He sure does love riding around there, and I can’t say I blame him.

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

Friday, October 12, 2012

Video City

The kids have doing all sorts video stuff these days, and it’s really cool. A has her video club and she is working with N on their video book club, so there’s lots going on. The kids are also making small video clips at home doing stop action stuff, and it’s not only clever, but a great way to pass the time.

The book club will also do some video work doing book trailers. It brings the kids together and makes them comfortable with technology and filming/editing techniques. I think it’s great. They are working on a Halloween movie, so that should be a lot of fun. The studio does a nice job of organizing activities and making the equipment available either free or at low cost. I can’t say enough good things about CATV.

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

Bake Sale

Boy, the things we do for hockey. There was the big bake sale this past weekend, and though we had fun, or at least the kids had a blast, it was a lot of work. All in the name of helping the team, right? I will say this, for as much as I whine about all that we had to do, it was nothing compared to the heavy hitters, including MF, KS, and EC. Those guys put in an amazing effort and did a fantastic job, so I’ll stop complaining.

Since it’s a bake/food sale, we donated food and equipment. A lot of our former Grateful Dumpling stuff came in handy. We lent them our gas range and full tank of propane, as well as some coolers, a camping stove, and various pots and pans. In addition to equipment, we made chili and sweet potato soup. I was going to make cookie bars but at some point you realize you can only do so much.

To compound the effort, the cooking stove was disgustingly dirty. Normally it wouldn’t bother me, but it was coated in grease and it was a nightmare cleaning it. It’s amazing what peer pressure makes you do.

After all was said and done, we got it together and I think the sale went well. There were other kids there so A&N had fun. In fact, on Saturday, it was all boys and N got to bond playing football with some of the older players, many of whom were on his lacrosse team, so they jived. On Monday, it was mostly girls, so A got to hang with her future teammates, though they accepted N into their play group. How cool is that?

Looking back, it was hard work, but it was a win-win situation because the kids had fun and they got to bond with their buddies. Enough said. Plus, I scored some deals on hockey apparel for the kids, which they pine for.

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

Fitness Maniac

I’m no fitness guru (I just play one on TV), but for whatever reason, I’ve been fairly into exercising for the past couple of weeks. It's probably because I want to look like one of these guys.

Either way, part of the inspiration is because of my pending karate test, for which I have to run five miles, but also I feel like I’ve become a bit more of a sloth since returning from vacation. Furthermore, when you’re feeling fit, it definitely benefits all aspects of your life, sort of makes you feel more invincible.

So, I’ve been trying to run twice a week, and ride my bike twice a week. That’s a whopping amount of exercise for a person who never exercises, and the weather has not been ideal, with loads of rain. Even still, when I went running last week, I actually pushed myself harder and went farther than I thought I could. If anything, I probably could have run even more. I ride my bike a set distance, but the true workout is going up the massive hill near our house. At this stage, I can do it without stopping, but it sure works my legs.

I’m hoping that all this exercise will also make the transition into hockey a little less painful. I credit hockey and UF for giving me the ability to do as little as I do, so hopefully over time, I can up the ante. We’ll see.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mr Andrew Murray for the pic.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Setting (and sort of achieving) Some Lofty Goals

At some point in life, you realize that unless you set lofty goals, you’re simply not going to get anything done. Small steps will only get you so far, you have to shoot for the stars. This applies to many areas in life, including writing, as well as basic household projects.

With this in mind, I’m going to attempt to get a number of projects done before it gets too cold. Actually, some of them can be done in the cold, but others, especially painting, need to be done before the snow comes, or as I’ve been told, before Thanksgiving. That gives me a little over a month to get a load of painting done.

The first step is to work on those windows, cleaning them, replacing, when needed, the storm windows, and painting some of the trim. The inspiration for this was rather serendipitous because I was simply painting the trim on the dormer windows when I noticed that A’s storm window was rotting. I tried to take it out to measure it and it literally crumbled before my eyes. This set in motion getting new windows, which was an adventure in itself, and then the desire to clean the windows and paint the trim. Not always easy to do when you have to stand on the roof.

The other big goals are to finish the floor and walls of the vestibule. This will require insulation and dry wall, which intimidates me because I’ve never done it, but what else is new? Then, if I’m really feeling invincible, I’ll paint the entire upper half of the backside of the house. That will be a project.

We’ll see where any of this goes. I did manage, with the help of N, to paint the front step, and there’s still about 5 cords of wood that needs to be split and stacked. Finally, the weather has been lousy, non-stop rain, and hockey is on the horizon. Oh well, nobody said being a real-man in training was going to be easy.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Following Through

I finally managed to finish a project or two in A’s room, and they were only on hold for about a year. The first was to try and address the cold in her room. Her bedroom, like ours, faces north, so it doesn’t get much in the way of direct sunlight. Her room is also furthest from the wood stove, but what I think also contributes to the cold is exposure to the roof. Her room has a doghouse dormer, so it abuts the front roof. There is a small knee wall with a bookshelf, and the bottom shelf is exposed to the roof.

Now the roof is vented so that the cold air can circulate to the ridge vent, so it stands to reason that the wall will get cold. There is some fiberglass insulation there, but let’s face it, it can only so much when ice cold air is passing through it. We have the same situation in our room, and I’ve noticed that when I put on a shirt from that shelf in the winter, it’s like putting on a cold pack. It’s that cold.

My feeling was that it might help to seal that bottom shelf up, ideally with some rigid foam insulation. In a perfect world, I’d some how insulate the entire back wall of the shelf, but the crawl space back there is big, so I decided to just seal it up. It wasn’t easy because first I had to cut the wood to size, then fill in some gaps before securing the wood. This was difficult because it’s such a small space to work in, but I managed. I ended up caulking the seams, and now I’m interested to see how winter will be.

The other project was to build another shelf for her room. She really needed a shelf to put her clock and other projects and knick knacks, of which she has plenty. She was using various containers and surfaces, and it looked rather sloppy. Plus, it took up a lot of space. I had the wood to build her shelf, it just took some time and motivation to build it and paint it. Going to Europe also set me back, but when we got home, I was motivated to finish it.

She likes the final product, and I have to say, it makes the room feel roomier and more personal. As long as she’s happy with it, that’s all that matters.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Going Viral

I don’t know if this has ever happened to me, but I actually got hit with a computer virus. I was running my antivirus software and it detected malware, which is kind of nasty stuff. I noticed that the computer was running kind of funny, and whenever that happens, I run a spyware check and then a virus check, but most of the time, they find nothing. I have had spyware infections, but those don’t seem as insidious as viruses. This time around, the antivirus found it.

Kind of a bummer, though it did clean it up. Not sure what to make of it all, but I’m guessing I need to be more vigilant about keeping an eye on things. What a crazy world we live in.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Crashmaster007 for the pic.

Doing Unto Others

As you may have noticed, I’m kind of into hockey, almost to the point of OCD. Now in all fairness to myself, it’s an uphill battle making it all work out, because on a number of levels I’m facing a great deal of resistance. R is not completely thrilled with all it takes to play, particularly the time and expense. I can’t control the amount of time, but I can whatever it takes to help ease the financial burden.

A large part of this is getting equipment cheap, and if possible, free. When N first started, all his equipment was second hand, and almost all of it was given to us. He suffered a little because his skates were not an ideal fit, and he got blisters the first week. To his credit, he never said a thing, and played through it. What a real man he is. I felt terrible, and we addressed the situation and eventually got him some good skates, but I’m just so impressed that he didn’t complain. I would have been whining from the get-go.

I tend to always be on the lookout for equipment, that means hockey swaps and the Listen Center, and have found some real gems. This works really well for my stuff because I’m not too picky. Now that A is playing, it’s even more stuff to get, though again, to her credit, she never complains when her stuff is old and second hand, which applies to most of it. What great kids.

Anyway, as I mentioned, we were helped out a lot in the beginning, so when some friends expressed interest in their kids giving it a try, I jumped at the opportunity to help them. This was a double-whammy of good vibes because it also meant unloading some of the equipment that we no longer needed as well as placating R’s discontent over the growing pile of hockey equipment in our basement.

I spoke with DL, whose two sons are going to give it a try. I get the impression he’s a hockey player himself, but suffers from the same problem we all do, no time. Anyway, he inquired about where to get some deals on equipment since there is no telling if his kids will even like it. I said to come by, and was able to help him out. I think he’s in pretty good shape, and now our basement is a little cleaner.

Then again, that just means I have more space to go out and get more stuff. I can’t wait.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to ever bamboo for the pic.

Hockey on the Horizon

Hockey is almost upon us. Campion already has their ice, I think Barwood is getting theirs in soon, and within two weeks, Union will be up and running. I can’t believe it. Of course, with hockey about to begin, it means spending huge chunks of change to register everyone into the program, including myself. Enrolling two kids in hockey can get reasonably painful in terms of how much it costs, though I’ve been told that our team is much more affordable than the neighboring program. One of the parents said she can enroll her two kids for the price of one over there, so I shouldn’t complain. Like that’s going to stop me?

That doesn’t include equipment, meals, transportation, and time. Hockey is not for the faint of heart, or the faint of wallet. Plus, when travel is involved, it will mean in certain instances staying in hotels. The whole thing bums R out. She’s even said that she’s dreading the season (ouch!), not so much because of the cost, but because of the time commitment. It is a chore if you’re not as enthused as myself, and because of this, it behooves me to make it as painless as possible for her, both logistically and financially. Consequently, I’m working my tail off and going broke, fast.

Boy, the things we do for hockey. Then again, there are no second thoughts on my end. It’s a good thing the kids love it... as do I.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Nadia L* for the pic.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vermont 50

Last weekend, sort of out of the blue, we helped out during the big Vermont 50 race. The V50 is an annual race where people run or bike 50 miles or 50 km. Talk about grueling. It’s kind of a big deal, and our friend MH runs in it. Last year she was the first woman in her age group to finish, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. The race goes through trails and woods, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

MH had asked R is we were interested in helping, and we thought it would be interesting. We went on Sat to find out what we needed to do, and there was free ice cream and snacks. We went back on Sunday morning for the race, and it had been raining for the previous two days. The race finishes at Mt. Ascutney on the ski trails, so you can imagine how muddy and challenging it was.

They have hundreds of volunteers, so we weren’t really sure what we were supposed to do. We ended up helping at the finish line as all the racers arrived. They were quite the site, all wet and caked with mud. Mountain bikers seem to relish these circumstances. The runners came a bit later, and we actually saw MH cross the line. She was indeed the first woman of any age group to finish, and she was, I believe, in the top 5 finishers. Granted, she did the 50K while I’m assuming the others were doing 50 miles, but 50K still works out to about 32 miles, which is impressive to me. What’s crazy is she wasn’t even panting.

After a while, we went over to the tent and got a free lunch, which was amazing, and then we came home. I thought it was a nice day, and great for the kids to volunteer their time and do some work. They enjoyed it, and I think a lot of the racers got a kick out of seeing the kids greeting them. They’re so cute, I can’t say I blame them.

Afterward, the kids went to HH’s house to hang with friends, then home to relax and enjoy the end of the weekend. Ultimate has come to an end, so we were able to spend a quite Sunday evening at home. I’ll take it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Chris Gidney1 for the pic.

Getting Ready For... Skiing?

Is it that time already? Since we took a late vacation this year, we came back in the thick of fall and preparation for winter sports, which includes, of course, hockey and skiing. We’re in pretty good shape for hockey, though there are always things to update, and for skiing, I think we’re all set.

I had the kids try on their boots and incredibly enough, they said they fit. I was pleasantly surprised, even after asking them to make sure because slightly comfortable translates into pain on the hill. They said they were fine, so I have to go with that. This is beautiful because if we don’t have to update skis and boots, then that makes life simpler and more economical. I might be inclined to get their skis tuned up, and we might have some needs in the Nordic department, but all in all, we’re looking pretty good. Then again, things can change between now and January.

I bought new skis last year at a yard sale, and though they only cost $15, the guys at Henderson’s said they were great skis. Good enough for me. However, I found that I wasn’t totally thrilled skiing on them. Mind you, we hardly skied at all last year, partly because of hockey, but also because there was no snow. Plus, the conditions weren’t always stellar. The few times we did ski, I felt like I had to work a little harder to have fun, and I might go back to my old skis, which were used rentals. They’re not pretty, but I sure enjoyed skiing on them.

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