Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It’s Cold Up Here

We spent the night in Burlington and then after N’s game we headed up to Quebec for a new year celebration, which is a bit unusual for us because we usually don’t make a big deal out of New Year’s Eve. It’s hard to get too crazy with young kids, and we usually end up spending a quiet night at home. Not this year.

Since we are not swimming in money these days, we haven’t really done any extravagant or ambitious vacations, so a few days in Canada represents a nice way to get away without breaking the bank. Getting into French Canada is like being in another country (because you are) without the cost or rigmarole of traveling overseas.

We ended up departing out of Burlington maybe a bit later than was optimal, because it was dusk when we crossed the border, and dark by the time we were deep into Quebec. Normally this would not be a big deal, but there was some sort of storm front moving in and the winds were brutal. Visibility wasn’t great, and the roads were frozen and somewhat precarious. It was a little rough, and I felt stressed. It didn’t help that the locals drive like maniacs in dangerous conditions. There were times when I couldn’t see the road because so much snow was blowing around.

When we finally did arrive, it was dark, but not that late. We are pretty high up in latitude, so I’m guessing the days might be shorter. Is this possible? Getting around Quebec City was daunting and an adventure in itself. First off, as I mentioned, the conditions were terrible. Not only was the wind howling, but there was so much snow and visibility was not good. Factor in the locals driving way too fast and it’s a recipe for disaster. There were accidents all over the city, with cars on top of snow banks, and even in light of this, people were driving way too fast. We got lost a few times and ended up driving all over the place, including crossing the big bridge into town several times. It was frustrating and a little scary driving over this huge bridge (it spans the St. Lawrence River) that is covered in slippery snow. I was not amused.

It reminded me in a way of driving in San Francisco, where I always seem to end up at the Golden Gate Bridge, and there’s no turning back. Anyway, we found our hotel, checked in, and decided to explore a little. We were staying in a Holiday Inn just outside the old section, and again, the conditions were brutal. The snow and wind were amazing, and it was a little precarious. I thought Vermont was cold, this made it look like California.

We headed into the old section and parked the car, and walking into town was when we really got to taste the cold of Quebec. I couldn’t believe it. I hate to sound like such a wimp, but the wind chill was below zero, and it was blowing hard. They had done the town up beautifully for the Festival of Lights, and you could tell that there was some big party being planned for New Year’s Eve, but it was hard to enjoy it when you’re freezing your YKW off.

We ducked into a cafe for a quick bite to eat, and then it was the long brutal walk back to the car. We hopped in, got back to the hotel, and resolved to be more prepared for the cold the next time. We went out in jeans, shoes, and jackets, which is completely inadequate. You really have to wear snow clothes with lots of insulation, because the cold will kill you otherwise.

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

Hockey and a Road Trip

Playing hockey and hitting the road, how can you beat that? N had a game up in Burlington this weekend and afterward we planned to have a little family vacation up in Canada. Hockey the way it was meant to be, in Canada. The plan was to drive up to Burlington the night before and spend the night at a hotel, which would make getting to the early morning game much easier since it’s a 2 hour drive and N doesn’t do well with early morning appointments. We’ll have to work on that one.

I have to confess, I like the idea of having a couple of days off, it’s been a slightly rough holiday with all that’s happening on the economic front, and not to sound like a Scrooge (too late?), but it’s good to have Christmas behind us and to look forward to the rest of our lives.

With that in mind, we are off to the Great White North to enjoy the new year. We’ve never really traveled as a family for the new year, so this should be fun, and it’ll be nice to get some time away from domestic obligations, including hockey, even if you’re never really too far away from hockey, are you? Especially when you travel to where hockey originated, which for the record, is my kind of place.

They are predicting record cold temperatures and icy conditions, so this should be interesting.

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

Solstice Party

The solstice came this past weekend, and not a moment too soon, because now the days are getting longer, and at this point, I need all the positive energy I can find. Long periods of darkness don’t do much for one’s psyche, do they?

We had a nice day of hockey and then the annual solstice party at our neighbors, which is always a great soiree with incredible food. I had decided to eat a snack at lunch so I’d be primed and ready to feast at the party, but things don’t always work out the way you plan them, do they?

That day the kids both had hockey games at home, so I helped first with N’s game, then with A’s. N wanted to hang out and watch because his buddies are usually around, so it was fun for him. Afterward, one of A’s teammates was having a birthday at Ramunto’s, which meant I’d tag along as transportation. I wasn’t sure if N wanted to hang with the ladies, but the lure of free pizza was too strong, so he went, too. A got a ride with her buddies and N and I rode together. It was fun, the girls had a blast, N sat with me and we watched football on the big screen. How often do I get to do that?

They had cupcakes and they played games, and even N jumped in with the girls. As I mentioned, I had planned on eating a light lunch in anticipation of the solstice party, but I, too, succumbed to all that free pizza and ate my fair share. I couldn’t resist.

Of course, that evening at the solstice party, I wasn’t that hungry, and as usual, the food was incredible. I tried to force myself to eat but between being sated and having to be social, I didn’t eat much. Oh well, you can’t win them all. The party was nice, we got to see old friends and meet some new ones. Later that evening they had a big bonfire and the kids had fun building snow forts and getting into snowball fights. Even some of the adults (ahem) got into the act.

The evening didn’t go to late so we got home at a reasonable time, even though the kids could have stayed all night. It was a nice way to celebrate the solstice, something you just don’t do growing up on LA.

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

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Theft at the Arena and GG to the Rescue

I don’t know what I’d do without GG, the guy saves me on a regular basis. I dropped A off at practice the other day and had to pick up N, so I left my skates and stick at the arena. When I returned, my stick was gone. I left it clearly by my bag, so there little chance that someone thought it belonged to them. I was a bit incensed, but realized that sometimes people don’t have a stick and just grab an extra off the lost and found rack, though for the record, my stick was not in the rack.

I figured by the end of A’s practice the stick would be returned, no harm, no foul, but that was not the case. Whoever “borrowed” it took it home, and I was left without a stick. I sent out an email to the entire association indicating what had happened and figured it would be returned. Anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that I’m not one to buy the best equipment, so my stick was not an expensive or fancy thing. It didn’t make sense to steal it.

Either way, I had an old stick that I could have used, but enter GG. He said I could borrow his son’s stick and brought it to me. Now GG is a real hockey player, and his son’s are all good players, and he doesn’t mess around with equipment. They get the good stuff, so while I lost a budget stick, GG replaced it with a quality one. Since his son wasn’t really playing hockey anymore, he said no hurry in getting it back. Wow, did I luck out, or what?

I’m not a believer in the notion that expensive equipment makes a player better, but I scored two goals at my next game. I was feeling pretty good about myself, and then guess what happened? My stick showed up at the arena. Whoever took it must have realized their mistake and brought it back. I was happy to get it back, but it also meant giving up the pro-quality stick, which I knew had to happen at some point.

So with tears in my eyes, I returned GG’s stick and thanked him profusely. What a great guy. Now I have my old stick back, and it just feels more “right.” I won’t have a game until the new year, so we’ll see if I can retain that magic touch. This should be interesting.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mykl Roventine for the pic.

Happy Holidays

I have to say, I’m feeling brighter than I did a few days ago. I think several things have contributed to this. First off, I’ve been getting more sleep, and the funny thing about this is that it takes a little effort to pull this off. I tend to wake up early for reasons I can’t explain, and I usually just get up, but I’m finding that if I lie still for a bit, I can actually fall back asleep, and being well rested can make all the difference in terms of your POV.

Also, the weather has been more seasonal, and we even got a load of snow, which always makes the landscape more cheerful, though for practical reasons I had mixed feelings about the snow. Overall, however, it makes it nicer outside.

Finally, I realize that feeling sorry for yourself not only gets you nowhere in life, but it really gets on everyone’s nerves, including your kids, though they are not aware of this quite yet.

With that in mind, I’d like wish everyone a happy holiday and new year.

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Scoring a Bike

Over the summer we visited Killington to hike down the hill and couldn’t help but notice the throngs of mountain bikers flying down the hill with reckless abandon. It sure looked like fun, not to mention cool, which is much more important. As you can guess, the excitement did not escape N’s attention, and from the point on he had mountain biking on the brain.

I looked into renting the bikes and equipment, and when you factor in the cost of the lift tix, it comes out to close to $100, which is outrageous. I noticed that some people had their own equipment and bikes, and not all of it was high tech and expensive looking. The equipment that they rent is I believe high end and very cool looking. Naturally N took to it and wanted to give it a try. Also, he was feeling that his own bike would be inadequate.

Now he happens to have several bikes, so he’s not for want of a vehicle, sort of. We just got him his BMX bike, and he has a smaller Trek Mountain bike that he used for a short period before he decided he wanted to ride a big boys bike. The bike in question I got at a yard sale figuring it would be fine for just riding to the rec center and getting around. It’s no frills but decent quality, but for the record, it does not have a suspension, which is what serious moutain bikers all ahve. Even not-so serious riders have them, not to mention people who have never taken their bikes on a trail and have no intentions to. It’s just part of the gear, you get shocks and wear cool gear to look like Lance Armstrong even if you never actually ride your bike. Marketers are smart, they know how to get into our heads.

Either way, once N saw these guys riding their fancy bikes with suspensions, he felt like his bike wasn’t up to speed, and to some degree, he’s right. Riding down trails gets a little bumpy and can be a little hairy. I know from firsthand experience. My bike, which was pretty decent when I got it 20 years ago, doesn’t have a suspension because they didn’t exist when I got it, and I’m sure it makes a huge difference.

The question was, how were we going to address this situation. Buying him a new bike meant a pretty hefty sum, and the practical argument could be made that he already has a bike, but that’s ignoring the absence of the cool factor, which is important to kids. On the other hand, I didn’t want to go out and spend a load of cash on a bike because not only am I broke, but it’s just not the right approach, at least not now while he’s still growing. Plus, he’s never really tried off-road riding. It looks cool, but the realities can be much different.

Anyway, I was over at GG’s house and I was talking to JG when I noticed that they had a plethora of vehicles. I inquired if they needed all of them and if not, if they’d be interested in selling us one of them. She said that one of them was not being used at all and that they were going to get rid of it, so we could just take it. I was floored, but this sort of generosity is not unheard of at the G household.

We loaded the bike into the car, I couldn’t thank them enough, and now N has a cool mountain bike with a suspension. All it needs is pedals, but that shouldn’t be too hard to find. We are all so stoked, none of us more than N, but I’m a close second. We are both looking forward to spring, when we just may have found a new outdoor interest.

Thanks a load to G&JG, I love those guys. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to John O'Nolan for the pic.

Blue Christmas?

I have to confess, my current situation does not make for the most festive of holiday seasons. I know tend to be a whiner, and this blog is a forum for me to indulge in that behavior, but sometimes you just gotta whine, right? I have the song “Blue Christmas,” by Elvis running through my head constantly, which for the record, is a great song. Christmas also seems to have come out of nowhere. I realize there are several days until the big day, but again, I think because I’m not feeling the spirit of the season, it really taking me by surprise.

On that note, I’m not sending out Christmas cards, either, because the postage kills me. While I’m not a fan of digital holiday greetings, it’s better than nothing, right? Plus, you can’t beat the price, and there’s something to be said about creating less paper waste. I love when I find justification for things.

Now in my younger days, at times like these, I would wallow around my apartment in a pool of self-pity, but who’s got time for that? Not me, that’s for sure. There are too many things to do and places to be. It’s good, actually, to have a purpose in life, even if you don’t make any money doing it.

I can understand people’s desire to get out of the house and go to their jobs, it gives you a sense of purpose and even if you hate your job, and thereby hate your very existence, at least you’re making money, and in our society, that’s what it’s all about. You don’t make much in the way of money being a stay at home parent, but the work is hard and the hours are long. You have to find value in the process, because let’s face it, as much as people say it’s important to be a parent to your kids, spending time doing something that doesn’t make money is just not that valuable. Boy, talk about being cynical.

In the end, I could easily find a job if I gave up on being a stay at home dad. I know this because I went looking for a job and found opportunities within a week of trying, and they weren’t even in the field that I am most qualified in, i.e., science. I could find a lab job in a heart beat, but that’s not the direcition that we want to go in, at least for now. When that time comes, believe me, you’ll know it.

In the meantime, we’ll stay the course. I’ll keep looking for writing work, which I’ve found to some degree but not enough to make a living. Not yet, at least, but I’m confident it will happen. Then we can get on with our gloriously fabulous lifestyles.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Brenda Price for the pic.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Night Hockey

As if we didn’t have enough hockey in our lives, this past weekend proved to be a brutal hockey marathon. We had to drive up to Middlebury on Saturday both A and N’s games, and then to Burlington on Sunday for A’s game. To add to the fun, A had a Friday night game with a team that came all the way up from Albany. Talk about hard core. They made a 2.5 hour trip to play us at 7:30, then drove all the way back home. They must have gotten home at midnight. Plus, they were a dominating team that controlled the game, so I don’t think it was much of a challenge for them.

I felt bad, that’s a long way to travel for a hockey game, but apparently they are used to it and didn’t blink an eye. Now it’s our turn to reciprocate, and even then, they agreed to meet us halfway in order to play. Personally I would rather skip the whole ordeal, but we have to honor our end of the agreement, so we’re traveling 2 hours to play them. They’ll probably dominate us again, but such is the life of youth hockey. The kids love it, so I’ll stop complaining, sort of.

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

Circus Show

I took the kids to a show at the Hop the other day, and it was quite the show. We arranged with other families and friends to meet beforehand, and the kids went along with their buddy NP and I followed alone because afterward the group had planned on getting lunch but we had to be elsewhere, probably hockey.

It was a Cirque du Soleil influenced program, and I’m not sure if they are affiliated with said program, but you could see the resemblance. The performers were all French Canadian and were from Montreal, so there is a good possibility that this was the case.

The show was called Timber, and it celebrated the logging history of Canada. It had all the humor and acrobatics of a circus show, as well as the music and dance of the region. It was a lot of fun, everyone loved it, and being the real-man in training that I am, could relate to the whole logging theme.

Afterward they had a question and answer session and we learned that the performers are either related or good friends since childhood. I thought it was interesting when they answered the question of why they got into performing with, “Because it is the greatest life anyone could live.” I’ve heard that circus performers are generational, and the work is hard and the pay isn’t that great, but they love it and do it for life. I would imagine it would be a tough life but that it would be interesting, really interesting, but I tend to romanticize things.

I wanted to ask them if they heated their homes with wood, but didn’t get the chance because the kids had too many questions, but I’m guessing the answer to that question would be, “Yes!”

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

You Are What You Eat

Something interesting happened to us recently, and I’m not completely sure what to make of it. One of us developed a rash on our extremities, which eventually appeared on our face. It’s a bummer to have a rash of any sort, even if it doesn’t itch (this one apparently did). We are not above feeling a bit self-conscious in this house, but who isn’t?

Either way, after a bit of research, we learned that these rashes are for the most part harmless, and can be linked to a vitamin A deficiency. I was told increasing consumption of orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes) might help, so that very day we started consuming them in mass quantities. We had sweet potato pancakes for lunch, cabbage with carrots for supper, sweet potato soup the next day. It helps that everyone loves sweet potatoes, and you want to know what? Within a day or two the rash went away, I couldn’t believe it.

Is there a causal relationship, or just a fateful coincidence? In the end it doesn’t make any difference, because I’m all for including orange veggies on a regular basis. It may be time to look for new recipes.

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

Keep Those Feet Moving

Okay, there’s no denying the fact that I’ve been feeling a little sorry for myself recently, and it’s not the best thing for productivity or peace of mind. Unfortunately, it also clouds my feelings about the things I enjoy, including hockey and writing. Maybe it clouds everything in general, it makes sense.

My feelings of self-pity are no doubt rooted in my lack of income, and I’ve found the only way to overcome depression is to take action. With that in mind, I’ve been furiously looking for writing work. I’ve mentioned in the past that I could fine a lab job in a heartbeat, but that would mean working in a lab and not being at home. R and I have decided that we want to preserve our home life as much as possible. I’m certain I could find a night job, but again, quality of life comes into play.

We are not in dire straits, not yet, at least, and for now if I can just make a little here and there, it should suffice, at least until I fall back into my pit of ultimate despair. Just kidding.

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hockey Update

We are about 1/3 through the season, and the kids are having fun on their respective teams. Neither team is a powerhouse, and N’s team has yet to win a game, but they have tied several times, which is better than losing all the time, right? I wrestle a lot with the win and have fun dilemma, and the more I learn about what the governing body of hockey (USA Hockey) aspires to, the more I’m learning to just lighten up and let it be.

The underlying tenet of USA Hockey is to teach kids the game and let them have fun. Do not focus on specialization and especially winning. In fact they say the biggest detriment to youth hockey today are the parents, who want to win and put pressure on their kids to play hard and succeed. Apparently, the long term consequence of this is that the kids burn out and lose interest in playing.

I have yet to see this play out, but I am new to this game, and according to USA Hockey, this fact is being seen at the pro level, where American hockey players are dropping off and other countries are taking the lead, especially in Europe, where they don’t even play games until they are 12 and over.

This is a difficult concept to embrace in our success driven world, and we live in a rural setting, far away from a really big metropolitan center, where I’m sure competition and drive to be the best are huge. We do, however, live near an Ivy League college, and I’ve found that this breeds a hyper-competitive environment. I saw it in Providence, and I see it in Hanover. The parents are wound way too tight, and they really push their kids.

As a consequence, their hockey program is amazing, but their kids are playing all the time. They have the resources and will to accomplish this, and again, they have a winning program. The reason I bring this up is because we have a smaller, weaker program that can’t compete with them, but in many ways, that’s not the point. We are really more about having fun and not pushing the kids, but even then, we are constantly reminded of the other programs success, which we are continually reminded of by the other families as well as the local newspaper. Plus, they need ice, so they use our arena to have practices and even games, so we get to see our beloved neighbors in the flesh every week. What are you going to do?

We’ll stay the course and stress fun and learning basics. It helps that their respective teams are not powerhouses and for that matter, overly ambitious. The kids really just want to have fun, so we’ll go with it and not worry too much about beating up on our opponents. My feeling is, as long as A&N are enjoying the game and developing as players, that’s all that matters. Who cares about scores and winning? Not me, that’s for sure... at least until I read about the other team in the local paper.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Hockey Players For Kids for the pic.

Return to Drums

I was speaking with JG the other day, which for the record I thoroughly enjoy because she’s just an enjoyable person to be around, and she mentioned that her kids take part in a drumming class at their school, and that maybe N would be interested in joining in the fun. My first thought was yes, by all means, but then I figured I should check with him, first.

The problem with this approach is that he tends to say no to almost everything at first, even things he likes to do. I understand on some level because I, too, am hesitant to do anything that requires overcoming inertia. The only solution to this dilemma is to force the issue, sort of. We have taken an approach to trying something, no matter what, and then if it’s really horrible and he really hates it, then we can revisit the issue and, if need be, reconsider things. This almost never happens because he ends up enjoying the activity.

Besides, he needs some more activities, especially ones with his buddies. His social interactions are in fact expanding because of fun activities like rock climbing and hockey, but as far as I’m concerned, the more the better. This one takes place at the school, so he is around his friends from hockey and lacrosse, especially his best friend, CG. With this in mind, he readily agreed to give it a try, not that he had a choice in the matter. This should be fun, and it gives him some artistic release, which everyone needs, don’t you think? I believe there is marching involved, as well, so he gets to move around, making it a win-win situation, though the idea of marching in a parade I’m sure does not appeal to him.

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

Still Hope for the Woodpile

About two weeks back I figured there was still hope to get some of the woodpile done, so with that in mind, I set about with one goal in mind - move enough wood blocks to the splitting area so that over the course of the winter I can split and stack them. I wanted to do move 10 loads in the morning and 10 loads in the evening, but of course that was being too ambitious, and I only managed 10 a day, but that seemed to be enough. I now have about 3-4 cords of wood where I want it to be.

My big concern was that once the snow arrived, I couldn’t really move the stuff with a wheelbarrow, it’s just too slippery. Plus, the wood freezes into one big mound and I can’t really deal with it until Spring. This is no longer a concern, and I’m now all set up to start splitting. Now if I could just find the time.

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

Moving Things Inside

Now that winter has officially arrived, I can’t really do too many projects in the great outdoors, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t take my operation indoors and get things done. In fact, if I’m really feeling like a real man, I could even continue working on the trim of the barn. How cool would that be to get the trim done over the brutal cold months of winter? I think that would earn me points from my Mentor and maybe even the Amazing PR Man. In fact, I’m sure of it.

I actually have several of the boards already painted, and some of them would need minimal processing before I nailed them in. Granted, I have zero free time, and it’s cold and snowy outside, but such is the life of a real man in training, right?

We’ll see where this one goes. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bahman Farzad for the pic.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Riding Solo

Last week I actually had to run a practice with the Squirts all by myself. Can you even believe that? Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel to find a coach. Since it was Thanksgiving week, the times were all over the map, and DF, the rink manager, gave us these awful practice times, why I don’t know. Since the times were crazy, working parents couldn’t make them, including most of the coaches. TG said he could be there and help, but then at the last minute he couldn’t make it because his son was in a tournament. That left your truly to run the show. Great.

I have to confess, I am getting a better sense of what to teach the kids because going into my second season, I am learning a thing or two. It’s been known to happen. Plus, coaching is really about re-iterating things that I am being taught, either by other coaches with lots of experience (GG being one of them), or by the pros at USA Hockey. Since the kids are pretty young, they still need to learn a lot of skills, so that’s where I could begin.

A came out to help me, which I think was fun for her, and we also had the full ice sheet, so nobody was out there to infringe on our space or scrutinize my practice plan. I have to say, it didn’t turn out so badly. They’re young kids, after all, and I’m not even sure what their expectations are. We did a bunch of skating drills, then game plan drills, and ended it with a scrimmage, which is not only a lot of fun, but a great way to use up 15-20 minutes. Plus, it gets them in shape in a way that’s fun doesn’t feel like torture. There are mixed messages about conditioning at this age, with the professional opinion being it’s not a good idea. I have mixed feelings, but do feel the get in shape by virtue of playing the game.

After practice, the kids were tired but had fun, and I asked A and N what they thought and they both said they thought I did a good job. They were probably just trying to spare my feelings, but I’ll for now, I’ll take it.

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

Friends When You Need Them

Boy, talk about friends when you need them. Our circumstances are not life threatening, but more along the lines of quality of life, so I don’t feel like I can whine about them. That won’t stop me, thought.

Due to the holidays, hockey practice and school are all out of whack. Our ice times are crazy so it’s hard for parents to make it, mainly coaches. The kids, on the other hand, have all the time in the world. N had morning practice and A was going to hang with one of her best friend, ES, and see a movie. That meant N had the rest of the day to hang out with his boring parents, which isn’t the end of the world, but comes in a close second. I made some inquiries and our saviors, the Gs came through. It actually worked out beautifully, because after his practice, N got to go home with CG, his best friend on the team, and then I could go home and get some work done. R took A and ES to the movie, and then we all reconvened later. Perfect. That way, N didn’t feel left out of the movie (it was too rough for him, anyway, and he can’t really hang out with teenage girls), and A got to go and do pre-teen things.

Much thanks to the Gs, I hate to impose on them, but it seems to work out pretty well, and I like to think it’s not too bad for them because N and CG are such buddies (plus, there’s kettle corn in the equation). At least, that’s what I like to think, because they helped us out again on Saturday. That, however, is a story for another time.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dan Lookabaugh for the pic.

Life of a Pre-Teen

As A approaches her teen years (she’s pretty much already there), it’s interesting to see her grow up and mature. Part of this process of becoming a big girl is finding her parents, mostly her dad, intolerably embarrassing, but also finding her own fashion sense. It’s nice to see, the first steps to becoming a woman, and we like to see her develop her own “look,” as the saying goes. I can offer the male perspective, but mostly she and mom deal with the fashion needs.

I, however, can contribute on the practical side, and this includes storage of all these fashionable accessories. This usually takes the form of shelves and hooks, which for a weekend warrior like myself, are a breeze. It’s a bit more challenging with the winter weather, but I can operate a saw or drill in the cold, and minor painting jobs can be done in the basement. It actually works out nicely, especially if I’m even the least bit organized. Case in point, A needed hooks to hang various scarves, coats, and hats. I have plenty of wood to make trim on the barn, so I cut some boards, painted them white to match the trim in her room, and got some hooks at Home Depot. I put them in the wall and voila, more storage space. Piece of cake.

I love when that happens. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Too Much To Chew?

Talk about a brutal weekend, we were swamped a week or two back, and I was waiting to get yelled at for taking on too much, but we seemed to have weathered the storm. A has been babysitting for the local church, though for the record, we are not members. The father of one of her best friends is the pastor, and since they hang out so much, her parents asked if she was interested in babysitting during the service.

A said yes, and it’s worked out fine. A is often asked to baby-sit because people seem to gravitate to her. They see her as a mature and reliable person, and the reality of the matter is, she is. She is very good with younger kids and is responsible and takes the job seriously. She’s a good kid.

The first couple of months went by without a hitch, but once hockey season started, it all fell to pieces. I feel bad, but I mentioned to KS that once hockey season started, this was going to be challenging, and sure enough, it is. This weekend in question, both A and N had two games, and A had a guitar recital. Since her game was early, she slept over at her buddy HC’s house and went to her Sunday morning game. By the time we finally got her home, she was exhausted, and still had a performance. She didn’t want to go, but decided she should since she committed to it, and it worked out fine. We did notice that there were several kids who performed, so if she couldn’t make it in the future, her absence would not be an impediment to the show. Unless, of course, she had a solo, which has usually been the case in the past.

We made it through in one piece, but suffice it to say that hockey makes our live crazy, but in a good way. It’s all the other stuff that seems to get in the way.

That said, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kelly J for the pic.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, hope all is well around the globe. We are spending today quietly at home with just us, roasting a bird and making all the fixings. We were actually invited to a friend’s house, A&J, but it was just a couple of days ago that the invite was extended, and we had pretty much prepared for the day at home, so we declined but expressed our deepest appreciation. It was very nice of them to think of us, and of course I feel bad for saying no. They are our good friends, but our lives have been a little crazy lately, and it would be nice to just stay home for a change.

So that’s what we’re going to do. Hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving and thanks for reading, and thanks to martha_chapa95 for the pic.

Hopefully Not Like Last Year

I think I’m finally over this awful flu, sort of (I'll keep my fingers crossed, winter is just beginning). I was beginning to think it was 2012 all over again, where I was sick for about 6 months. This is not an exaggeration, I was coughing for half the year, and I was not alone. This time around, I felt a similar malaise, but it seems to have tempered after a week, and now I’m feeling about 90%. At this stage of my life, I can’t ask for much more. Now that I’m feeling a little better, I can direct my attention at that pile of firewood, not to mention my hockey league - I’ve missed three games, what a bummer.

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

Job Hunt

I am currently on the hunt for employment, but it’s not as simple and straightforward as it might be for your average job-seeker. I need to find a job that pays me the big bucks but ideally lets me work from home, gives me flexibility, and is a lot of fun. Is that asking too much?

I know I could find a job at the drop of hat in research, they are always looking for people, but that would mean a drastic change in our lifestyles, i.e., I could no longer be the domestic spouse. This is not an outrageous concept, indeed most families operate like this, but we are pretty comfortable in our setup. I have definitely settled into domestic life, with R being professional at large. Embracing a reversal would probably be more difficult on R, because going back to work wouldn’t take a huge amount of adjustment, but for R to take on all the cooking and cleaning, not to mention transporting kids to activities and socializing with other parents would make it challenging. Throw in coaching hockey and taking them skiing, which I acknowledge are fun activities, but being the parent means it’s not all about fun.

Either way, we like things the way they are, and I enjoy being a big part of the kids’ lives. Now all I need to do is make the big bucks. Piece of cake, right?

We shall see. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to T Hart for the pic.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Getting Ready For Winter

As amazing as it may sound, I think we’re on the verge of being read for winter. It seemed to be a bit of a scramble trying to get things done before the snow comes, not to mention finding the time in between job hunting, hockey, and parenting. Factor in really short days and inclement weather, and it’s amazing that we’ve even arrived at this juncture, but arrive we did. If it were to snow tomorrow, I’d be disappointed, no doubt, but at least some of the big things are taken care of.

First off, I managed to squeak in one last mowing of the lawn, and don’t ask me why this was so significant to me, but it had some definite symbollic importance. Have you ever had a million things to do that really weighed heavily on your shoulders, and yet you do the less important thing because you know how and are comfortable with it?  This is the story of my life, and despite the fact that there is a barn to finish and firewood to split and stack, not to mention a glorious freelance career to kickstart, I seem to fall back on mowing the lawn, because I know I can do it, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment. Does anyone really care about the lawn? I guess I do, because on the flip side, when the I have no time and the lawn starts to look unkempt, it really brings me down. Strange how the mind works, is it not?

The final mowing was relevant in the sense that it gave me a chance to properly store the lawn mower, which entailed running the tank dry and clearing the carburettor (I never knew how to spell this word). My understanding is that you want that carburretor clear in storage so it doesn’t gum up and become clogged. I’ve experienced this firsthand and had to have the the thing cleaned. I’ve been told it’s because of the ethanol additives in fuel, it really harms high-revving engines like mowers and chainsaws. With the chainsaw it’s easy because you just tilt the saw and pour off the gas. You can’t do that with a mower, so you have to use a syphon.

Speaking of chainsaws, I also cut up some more wood and prepared that for storage, as well. Same deal, you need to clear the carb, which I managed to do. Now all our heavy gas powered equipment is stored and we are ready for winter, sort of.

There are still the issues of firewood and the barn, but they are not as time sensitive, sort of. In my ideal world, I would have all the trim done and all the firewood split and stacked before the snow, but who lives in their ideal world? The barn is in progress, I’m happy just to have the siding on, and the firewood for this year is all set. I have about 4 cords that need to be relocated and split and stacked, but again, if I can’t do it, I’ll live. Maybe having the flexibility isn’t such a good thing.

Either way, things are better than worse, if that makes any sense. A week ago I was fretting over the lawn and the power equipment, and now that’s all done. Of course, there is still some raking that needs to be done, but that could be the one thing I put off until spring.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave Olsen for the pic.

A Day Off to Work

I know how ironic this may seem, but we had a day off from our busy schedule that allowed me to actually work and get some things done around the house (note the empty hammock). These are things that have been weighing on my shoulders for some time, and the problem I have is they need to be done before winter fully sets in, i.e., the clock it ticking. The really short days and stretches of lousy weather don’t help.

Thus far I’ve been given a reprieve from the weather in that there hasn’t been a lot of snow. This seems fairly normal to me. We’ve had unusual situations like last year when we got a foot of snow before Halloween, which meant that raking and mowing the lawn were done for the year. This year, I have been looking out the window wondering if I’m ever going to have time to do that last mowing and raking, and believe me, it really bugs me. Each passing day feels like I’m really pushing my luck.

Of course, I could just leave it and deal with everything in the spring, which has its merits, especially since I really hate raking leaves, though I feel it’s better to tackle some of it before the snow comes. Either way, we had a day off from hockey and other activities, so I jumped in with both feet and got some stuff done. First order of business was to cut the firewood. We have about 5 cords of uncut log-length, and my goal is always to get year 2 split and drying. Fat chance, but at least if I had the blocks cut and in the splitting area, I could split over the winter. One the snow comes and freezes the pile into one solid block, that wood is not going to be moved until spring. At this point I should stop cutting and just move the stuff, but I wanted to cut as much as possible, and I also need to run the saw dry before storing it. I am not quite there, but hopefully by the end of this week.

I also managed to take care of our burn pile, which is important before the snow plow comes. In years past, I had a pile of wood that I wanted to burn, but then it would snow and the plow would push it to the far end of the yard. When the snow melted, I had to gather it all back into a pile and burn it. Not this year. N and I spent a couple of hours burning the pile, and now it’s done. It was fun hanging with him and burning whatever we could get our hands one.

I also managed to mow part of the lawn, just the side yard. If I can finish the back, I’ll leave the hill for spring. It’s all crab grass anyway, so it doesn’t need too much care. There are a ton of leaves that need to be raked, so we’ll see if I manage to get to that. The final thing is to put the hoses in storage. I needed on hose to manage the burn pile, but after that was done, I drained the hose and it’s ready to put in the basement. Then I had to make supper, but what else is new?

I still need to haul about 5 cords of wood and rake the hill, but even if the snow came at this point, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Sure, I’d be disappointed that I didn’t get certain things done, but enough has been taken care of to get us through the winter. It just means a busier spring, right?

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

Go Climb a Rock

They held a rock climbing day at the local indoor climbing gym, and I was at first ambivalent about the whole thing, but eventually the kids seemed interested and it was a chance to hit the climbing gym, something we enjoy but never do. One issue was it was that it was designated as a middle-to-high school event, which would have precluded one of us, but after some inquiry they said we could all attend. Good enough for me.

We headed over the Green Mountain Climbing Gym and it was quite a scene. They rented the place for a couple of hours before they opened, but everyone could stay as long as they wanted to, which I thought was a cool thing. What was really nice about the event was that A&N got to see several of their camp friends. It was a happy reunion, and they really had fun. There must have been over 30 kids there.

This also meant that I could head out and do some errands. There were about a dozen parents there, and a few dads, which homeschool moms seem to appreciate. The kids got to climb for a few hours before we had to head off to hockey practice, but I’m glad we went. It was a nice chance to meet other families and re-connect with some that we don’t see that often. What more can you ask for?

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

No Longer Board

Last night we had our annual hockey board meeting that the entire town and association is invited to, and I finally worked up the nerve and said that I was done. Fini. I will stay on as scheduler (which is a hard job!) and will work with the web site, not to mention being a coach on two teams, but I really did not enjoy attending those meetings. The argument can be made that it’s only one night a month, but whenever that night comes along, I kick myself for having volunteered for this. Plus, my job as scheduler does not require a board appointment, though I may have to attend an occasional meeting.

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy leaving the board, they are always in need of members due to the ambivalence of the community in regards to hockey. It’s a ski town, though so are Stowe and Middlebury, and they are hockey powerhouses. It helped that I joined the board by replacing a member who was stepping down, so I was essentially riding out her term, which ended yesterday. I was in essence up for re-election, but I declined. They tried to convince me to take a one year term but I held my ground, which I am not so good at doing. It worked out, however, because they were able to fill several holes on the board, including mine, so all is well in hockey board land.

At some point in the meeting, as it approached 9:30PM, I realized that not being on the board meant I could leave whenever I felt like it. Wow, what a liberating feeling. I felt the shackles come off and suddenly I was a free man, sort of. I’ll take it.

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

Sick of Being Sick

On top of all the things we have to do, I’m still sick, and believe me when I tell you, I am so sick of being sick. I need a box of cough drops like this. It must be something about physiology, but when I get sick, it seems to linger for a while, and always ends up with a persistent cough. I somehow recall as a kid always having a cough and being convinced that I had asthma, and even to this day I get hay fever and react strongly to allergens like mosquito bites and poison ivy. All of this seems to lead to the conclusion that I have a hyperactive immune system, and long after the bug that initially made me sick is probably neutralized, my immune system keeps revving up, making me feel sick.

At least that’s the current theory that R has proposed, and she knows her stuff because she’s an immunologist. With that in mind, I’m not sure how much more I can do other than go with it. It’s a drag, I’ve already missed two of my hockey games and will probably miss another. I’m not debilitated to the point where I can’t coach the kid’s hockey teams, and there is no rest for the weary in New England because there are plenty of things to do before the snow comes. Oh yeah, I’m trying to get my glorious freelance writing career going, or at least make some big bucks writing. Who’s got time to be sick?

Not I, that’s for sure. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Light Collector for the pic.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Let the Puck Drop

The kids officially started their hockey season last weekend, and it was a boatload of fun, as usual. A&N missed the first two weeks of hockey, which included a few games. Last season this would have been unthinkable under Mr. Hockey because when you play under him, it’s hockey or nothing. I can appreciate some of that enthusiasm, but at times it seemed like too much stress and anxiety about being there and doing the right thing. He’s a great coach, but would almost be better off coaching college players because he’s a bit hard on the kids, not to mention the coaches. He lives for the game and expects everyone to follow suit, and for the most part people do, but it’s a lot to ask of a 9 year-old.

Most parents can appreciate the positives of last season, but I’m sure they also welcome a more relaxed approach. I know I do, from a coaching and parenting perspective. Case in point, missing games. As I mentioned, last year this never would have happened for fear of incurring said person’s wrath, but this season, there was no such stress, and it worked out beautifully. Sure, we missed a game or two, but we were able to slide right back in with ease, and now the kids are back up to speed, or at least close enough. I say this because we did a lot of traveling this past month and it would have been easy to justify not going to California, which would have eliminated the need to miss those games.

Anyway, it was fun to be back on the ice. The kids hadn’t been to practice and I think getting their hockey legs back took a bit of time, but there’s nothing like being thrown into a game to do that. A had to jump in with both feet because she came back to play in a tournament, which meant 4 games. She did fine, even scoring a goal, and she was thrilled to be with her buddies, but you could tell it was a challenging adjustment. N was excited to be with his friends as well, and it was a chance for both of them to spend time with friends and hang out. In fact, A got to hang with HC at her house, then hang with KB at her house, while N got to go to the pancake breakfast with his buddies. All of these were not planned and came up at the spur of the moment, which is fine by me. It throws off the day’s plan a bit, but such is the life of a hockey parent.

It should be interesting what next weekend holds in store for us. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Al Rankin for the pic.

Sick in the Family

I'm trying to put a positive spin on things, so I guess it’s fair to say that it’s better that this is happening early in the winter than later, right? Or maybe not. Either way, we are sick, or should I say, I am sick? My sense is that we’ve all been through this and I’m the last man standing, or laying in bed, depending on how you see it. I hope this is the case because if I’m the last one, then maybe we can have an uneventful winter in terms of illness.

Last year was brutal as we all go the flu and were coughing for six months. I’m not exaggerating, it was that bad. Add in hockey season and it was a rough winter. This year the kids seemed to get sick early on, then R got it on our trip to California, and now here I am, sick as a dog while everyone else is fit as a fiddle. I wonder if the R and the kids benefitted from a few days in warm dry California to help clear out their symptoms. I hope so.

Every year it seems like the same pattern emerges. Everyone gets sick and it appears like I’m going to squeak by without any major symptoms, and before I know it, I’m feeling that familiar scratching feeling in the back of my throat. Within a day or two I’m sick. This time around I wasn’t laid out in bed for days, but it still feels a bit lousy, especially when there’s so much to deal with. Oh well, such is life, you have to keep plugging along. A good lesson that parenthood teaches you is that you can’t afford to sit around feeling sorry for yourself, there are lives that need attending to and you’re the attendant.

With that in mind, I need to make lunch and head over to the arena. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jake Nickell for the pic.

Side Out (or In?)

I finally managed to finish the siding, at least on the first floor, and now we are ready for winter, though the house wrap did a pretty darn good job of protecting the siding from the elements. Sure, it looked awful, but the wood underneath was shielded from the weather, I was pretty impressed.

Yesterday I went out and finished the siding, putting on the last board and breathing a huge sigh of relief. That last 20 feet of wall space seemed to take forever, taunting me in an odd sort of way. I still have a few boards left over, which I will save to use on the dormers, which most definitely won’t happen until next year. I will use my birthday present from R&JR to get a small propane space heater so I can work during the cold months inside, putting in insulation. Yet another adventure awaits me.

In the meantime, I can sit back and enjoy the moment, at least until the next moment comes along and hits me over the head.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Reflections on LA

First off, I’d like to say that as always, it sure is nice to be back home. Going back to LA had its fair share of positive attributes, including eating good Mexican food, meeting my niece, and seeing my good friend Glen, not to mention reuniting with my brother, but for the most part, it was exhausting and I found myself pining for our home in woods of New England. Who in their right mind wouldn’t?

Or as A&N said, visiting my mom was “interesting,” which probably the best way to put it. I had sincere concerns about going back there, not the least of which was that I hadn’t seen my mom and my brother for over 10 years. My worries over my mom was that she was going to be mean and vindictive, and that my brother was going to be insincere and greedy and it was going to cause me to be a jerk. Both of these situations are how I remember my family, but my concerns did not completely come to fruition. Part of it was that I decided to suck it up and not react like I’d always done in the past. I know my brother is trying his best to get along with me, but my mom will always try to goad me into battle, or at the very least, hurt my feelings or make me mad. It’s no wonder I haven’t been home in such a long time.

To complicate the matter (why are there always complications?), we had a busy few weeks prior to the visit, with trips to Ohio and the kids going to camp. Going back to LA was just one more thing, but going back is what we did. I think nobody had more concerns about this than R, because she knows my mom and she knows how difficult this was for me, but she had the rational POV and just kept telling me to go with it. No matter how mean or tactless she was going to be, don’t react and start a fight, just nod your head and smile.

My mom has mellowed out a lot, no doubt, but she can’t seem to toss out a few barbs now and then, it’s just in her DNA. She has two methods of attack: the direct critique, where she flat out says what she thinks (regardless of the fact that it’s usually wrong), and indirect attack, which I think hurts even more. Now I grew up with these assaults, so I am sort of used to them, even though they anger me beyond words. I was not, however, going to allow her to target the kids, no matter what. There was just no way I was going to stand by and let this happen, despite R’s entreaties for me to just let it go. For the record, what I say to my mom makes absolutely no difference in how she interacts with people, but I still can’t stand around and say nothing, especially when it involves the kids.

Since we arrived in the evening and went straight to bed from exhaustion, we were spared the assault until the next morning when we woke up. Interestingly enough, my mom spared me from her usual comment when she first sees me, which is “You’re fat,” or “You’ve put on so much weight.” I kid you not, she has said this to me every time she sees me, before even saying hello. It’s the first thing out of her mouth, so naturally it starts the interaction off on a bad foot. This time around, she didn’t say it, and even later stated that I seemed to be at a pretty good weight. That’s as good as it gets.

That did not stop her from commenting on other things in my life, including my hair, which she says makes me look like a girl, which I guess is true; my choosing to live like a hillbilly in rural New England, also kind of true; the fact that I haven’t visited her in 14 years, which is very true, but not completely accurate since it’s been more like 12 years. Now I can deal with (sort of) all this, but when she says things about the kids, it simply infuriates me. Leave the kids alone. Our kids are well behaved, too, so they don’t deserve these attacks, but she simply can’t help it. To worsen the matter, all my anger and scorn make little to no impact on her behavior, it may even encourage her, she just keeps going on.

Case in point, she felt the need to comment on their hair (indirect: why do you cut hair like that?); their backpack (direct: that backpack is so ugly, I’m going to buy a new one); their clothes, (indirect: I’m going to buy some shorts that aren’t so long and ugly); the fact that they wanted to help make breakfast (I don’t like to see men in the kitchen, only girls should cook). She felt the kids don’t eat enough and literally tried to force junk food and sugary drinks down their throats, which is crazy when you think of how critical she is of being overweight. Kudos to A&N for not giving in, though a little junk food is okay.

My mom also felt the need to tell all of us that we clearly hadn’t taught the kids how to properly greet their grandmother, after which we all had to shower her with attention and affection before going to bed and in the morning. At some point, it just becomes a bit of a joke. How contrived can you possibly be?

I have to say that despite how awkward and unpleasant it can be, she has mellowed out a lot, especially with me. I just didn’t feel as oppressed as I usually do, though I still think she needs to put a lid on her comments. And though we weathered our fair share of attacks, my brother got it worse, in my opinion. When we were growing up, he was always the golden child, which was fine because it deflected attention away from me.

Now, he is no longer the golden child, for several reasons. Unlike me, he never finished college, and education is what it’s all about in my family. Plus, he’s gained a considerable amount of weight, for which my mom attacks him relentlessly. As much as I didn’t enjoy being targeted, I felt really uncomfortable with the way she went after my brother and worst of all, his daughter. What’s crazy is my mom really likes my niece, but felt the need to comment on how ugly her clothes were and even worse, that she thought her butt was getting too big. How do you say those sort of things to your own granddaughter? My brother and his daughter see my mom a lot more than I do, so they must be used to it, but it’s still awful to see and experience.

Now I could go on for days about how my mom treats people, or rather treats us, but at some point I need to just get over it and move on with my life. Part of that is living 3000 miles away, but it’s also about just living our lives the way we want to, in a place we love like New England. I think we prepared our kids for their visit, and truth be told, I think they had a nice time and were able to just roll with my mom’s quirks. Plus, they got to see LA and eat good Mexican food and see all the fancy cars in that part of town. At one point it seemed as if every car around us was a Benz, Porsche, or a Lexus. We even saw a few Lamborghinis and Ferraris, which you never see out here.

All in all, as ugly as I’ve painted it, the trip was fine. Most of the negative energy was directed to me, and she left the kids alone, though living with her is a bit of an exercise in self control because she is the way she is. On a huge positive note, she got to me A&N, who got to me T&T, and it was a nice time. I will say this, hanging out with my mom is a lot more pleasant when my brother and niece are there, because we are all bonded in the common goal of survival. There is value to that sometimes.

I also feel like a huge gap has been bridged, and now we can keep in touch with my mom and maybe even go and visit her again in the near future. I think it will be sooner than 14 years, that’s for sure.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Joseph Voves for the pic.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Feeling Like Ulysses

Boy, talk about a brutal trip home, the only thing missing was the Cyclops. I feel like going to LA and then returning home were epic undertakings, and sometimes I wonder if someone is trying to tell me something about going back there. On a number of levels, it’s a challenge, to say the least.

I haven’t been back in years, and for the most part, the kids had never been there, so it was time. As usual, the weather was perfect, sunny and warm every day, which the kids got a kick out of. Being the cynic that I am, however, I find the beautiful weather too strong a paradox to ignore because beneath the sunny exterior is a boiling cauldron of discontent, and it’s not pretty. Either way, our stay was pleasant, for the most part, even despite little jabs here and there. My mom was nice to the kids even though she couldn’t help but lob a few zingers now and then, but hopefully I prepared them enough. My mom definitely took a few shots at my niece, who must be used to it by now because they visit her all the time. More on all of this later.

We left LA on Tuesday to return home, and I think we stayed the right amount of time. If anything, leaving on Monday, when my brother departed, would have been even better, but we endured one more day. The crazy thing about being there is that we fell into the same decrepit routines that I grew up with, which basically sitting around watching TV all the time and then driving around and getting stuck in traffic. What a way to live, some people call this paradise.

My mom dropped us off at the airport and I have to confess that I’m glad we made the trip and I’m glad that my mom got to meet the kids, but for the most part, LA is just not my kind of town. The traffic is unbearable, and the idea of driving in it every day is absolutely hellish, I honestly don’t know how people do it. Of course, we got to experience that joy getting to the airport. For the most part, it was pretty smooth sailing, the traffic was heavy but at least it moved. There was a bit of melancholy in saying goodbye to my mom, as there always is when saying goodbye, and then we were on our way.

The flight back to the east coast was quicker than the trip west, I’m told because of the jet stream, but the amazing PR man would know more about this. We came prepared this time for USAirs awful service by bringing Subway sandwiches and snacks, so we were set in that department. I also had my laptop fully charged and plenty of movies, so the kids had their entertainment, and R and I had plenty of magazines.

The flight itself was fine, the plane was crowded but not in an ugly way, and we landed in Philly on time. What more can you ask for? Plenty, I guess. We arrived in Philly early, to boot, with an extra half hour, and our departing gate was close by. However, the connecting flight to Boston was delayed, so we had to wait, which wasn’t the end of the world. We knew we’d be landing in Boston late so we reserved a room at the Embassy Suites at Logan, which for the record is a great hotel. We figured we’d be arriving at the hotel after midnight, and now we were looking at 12:30, maybe 1:00.

We waited for at least an hour before USAir finally told us the flight was cancelled because of mechanical problems. This was around 1:30AM. What a bummer. They put us up in a hotel, but our flight was leaving the next morning at 9:15, which mean waking up around 7:00AM and essentially getting less than 5 hours of sleep. Plus, we weren’t going to get our fabulous breakfast at the Embassy Suites.

The hotel was a Marriott connected to the hotel, and it was nice, but we basically checked in and went straight to bed, then woke up and left. I’m usually an early riser and can function with little sleep, but man did I feel horrible. Everyone was miserable, but we had to get up and go. We walked back to the terminal, got on the plane, and landed in Boston in the morning.

Now this is where things get a little complicated. They put us up in a hotel, but we had already made a hotel reservation in Boston, and I had to call at 2:00AM to cancel a room. The guy on the other end didn’t speak great English, but it was late and I was tired, so I just go with it until the next day when I could speak to someone in person. We also put our car in long term parking at the hotel, but the deal only works when you spend at least one night there, which we were no longer doing. So we risked not getting our hotel room money back, not to mention having to pay the big bucks to park there. The parking is a great deal with the room, but is otherwise expensive to park.

All this was running through my head, but Embassy Suites was cool about it. They let us cancel the room with no charge, but it still cost us about $100 to park. Not great, but not the end of the world, and not as bad as it could have been. The final flight was fine, we were exhausted but glad to be back in New England. We got our bags, went to the hotel, got our car, and headed home.

Naturally we were hungry by the time we reached our area, so we stopped at Boloco for lunch, which was a fitting return meal, and then came home. The cats were happy to see us in that split second that they looked at us before bolting out the open door, and it sure felt nice to be home. Good to be home and out of LA, that is.

For now, we are settling back in, but it was rough traveling and if we don’t get in a plane for another 6-8 months, that would be fine by me.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Cliff Elliott for the pic.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

More on Our Trip to Tinseltown

As I mentioned, our trip was interesting, to say the least. The flight over was a bit crowded, and it was guerilla warfare with the antique lady. I realize that airlines are broke and are trying to cut back, but at some point the lack of service makes you wonder why they even have flight attendants. Plus, they weren’t as warm and fuzzy as I’ve experienced in the past.

R has a theory that the airlines tend to overestimate their flight times in order to make themselves look good when they arrive early, and that sort of happened to us. Once we were in the air, the captain came on and said they were making good time and would land 30 minutes early, to which the cabin gave out a cheer. Even I was happy, but when we landed, we were too early to dock at the gate. As I mentioned, we taxied for what must have been 35-40 minutes, and had to wait another 15 minutes for the door to open. It was maddening, and after all that time on the plane with no sleep and nothing to eat, we were weary, to say the least.

We finally got off and went to the baggage claim. The airport itself was a police state with the shooting and all, but thing were moving along smoothly. We were exhausted, but we still had the problem of getting to my mom’s house. We were originally going to rent a car and then drive over, which is the simplest and most straightforward way to go, but of course costs money. Plus, I really dislike dealing with rental car companies which always seem to rip you off with charges and insurance and all that fear mongering. My mom was fairly insistent on picking us up, which was free, but not as convenient. Free spoke volumes to me, so I went with it, but this of course added to the drama.

My mom’s plan was to meet us at the curb and go from there, but since there was a shooting at the airport, it was closed off for a while. The airport was offering a shuttle to some off site parking lot, and my mom said to call her when we got there. By the time we got to baggage claim, however, the airport had opened up, but my mom didn’t know this. In fact, she didn’t even know about the shooting until I called her from Philly. How could she? It happened in the late morning, and unless you’re watching the news 24/7, you couldn’t have learned about it.

Either way, I called her from the terminal and informed her the airport was open, so she met us. I tell you, it’s amazing how technology has changed our lives, we couldn’t have managed all this otherwise. It allowed us to keep in touch with my mom to get picked up. The only problem was we had to wait for her at that point, and the airport was a complete mess. I know my mom and I have issues with getting along, but I have to give her credit, she came and got us in her car in what is some of the worst traffic you’re ever going to find. People in LA are aggressive and unfriendly, so it takes a certain amount of mental fortitude to handle it, not to mention courage. I had a hard time dealing with it, and I grew up here.

It was nice seeing my mom, and I was happy she got to meet the kids. More on this later, but for now, we are settling into life in LA, even if it’s only for a few days.

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