Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On the Blink, Again

We were riding high on the fact that our microwave was once again doing what it does best, when at some point last week, it seemed to have ridden off into the sunset to the great microwave resting ground in the sky... or was it the great kitchen in the sky? I can’t remember.

Either way, it conked out again. Fixing it will no doubt require taking it off the wall, opening up the body and fiddling with the circuit board. Part of the problem with this approach is that we’re still not completely clear what made it work the first time around. It’s always precarious working in the dark when it comes to electronics. Then again, unless you’re an electrical engineer like RR, you’re always working in the dark with electronics.

We’ve once again adapted to life without a microwave and truth be told, it’s not that bad. It’s just that occasional bowl of soup that you want quickly heated that comes back to haunt you, but you just modify your schedule and expectations accordingly. I think at some point we may just have to replace it, but until then, we’ll simply have to just slow down. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to kå®ma for the pic.

Inspired Workers

The other day the kids were going to a theme party and needed assorted props for the day. Some of it required the use of power tools, so I set them up in the basement and they went to work. I did any cutting with saws, but otherwise the kids did everything on their own. They were truly inspired, and if anything, didn’t want me meddling in their affairs. I was happy to oblige, and proud of them, as well.

They spent hours down there drilling, whittling, and sanding, and it was too cool for words. Sometimes your kids are so cute it breaks your heart. They finished their projects on their own, and then they decorated and stained them. They turned out great, and I think they were proud of their work, as they should have been. They worked hard and took their own initiative to design and complete the job. You have to love when kids do that.

Sure, the basement was a mess, but not any more of a disaster than when I work down there. Besides, what’s a little mess when your kids are doing great things?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to teohwp85 for the pic.

Men Behaving Like Men

What is it about men that inspires them to follow another man even if in the back of their minds they know it’s irrational? Meanwhile, their wives stand off on the sidelines scratching their heads wondering what all the hero worship is about.

I’ve seen and experienced this phenomenon throughout my life, and am in the thick of it with hockey. All the guys who are involved with the sport are in awe of our fearless leader and follow, on some level, in his footsteps. We’re all longing for that small speck of approval, waiting for him to throw us the proverbial bone, and will do what it takes to get it. It must harkens back to the days of our youth when we sought out our father’s approval. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about dedication, passion, and expertise in sports that speaks volumes to a lot of guys, even if the focus is a bit narrow, maybe even a little unhealthy. There’s more to life, though we often can’t see that. Maybe it speaks to the little boy in all of us.

Whatever be the case, I think our wives just don’t get it, and understandably so. It’s just a game, right? We entered into this knowing and understanding this, and here we are, immersed in it and in over our heads. At least some of us. When A&N started to play hockey, I liked the idea of helping out, and now I feel like it’s gotten out of hand. Part of it has to do with the fact that my hockey disposition has taken a big plunge, for reasons that are too complicated to get into right now.

However, I think everyone experiences some level of hockey fatigue, it’s only natural. The sport asks a lot of every parent, more than any sport I’d ever taken part in. If you have a family and a life, you have to realize that the level of dedication borders on obsession, and now I feel I have to take big step back. The season is winding down, so it’s a good time to reflect and reassess, and definitely make some changes.

The next few months should be interesting. We’ll see where it goes. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mark-Crossfield for the pic.

Wondering About the Future

Having an inclination for the dramatic doesn’t help in this arena (no pun intended), but sometimes I wonder what the future of hockey holds, namely for us. I can’t speak for the rest of the hockey world, but sometimes I sit back and wonder where this is all leading.

First off, the hockey future of both our kids is not crystal clear. We are not clear what sort of girls team there will be, and how the current issues will be addressed, and believe me, there are plenty of issues. They have plenty of kids, maybe too many, so numbers are not an issue, it’s more about distribution.

N’s team, on the other hand, is all about numbers. His team is almost all second year kids, so next season, he and two others will be left. Running the numbers through my head, I believe that makes three, which is enough for one offensive line, but that’s about it. To make it all the more interesting, the other two are precipitously close to playing elsewhere, either up with the older kids, or on another team. Believe me, I was floored when I learned of this.

That leaves just N, which for the record, breaks my heart. All of his friends are moving on, though truth be told, he is in a bit of a gray area because of age and experience. He’s been playing less than everyone, and he is the youngest of the bunch. Now the big issue is if there will be enough players for a team next year. I’ve been asking, even pleading with people to have their kids play on the team, and at some point it just gets pathetic. Not just because it’s sad to see a grown man grovel, but it speaks volumes about the situation.

Then there’s the question of my future in youth hockey,  but there’s not enough time in the day to tell that one.

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

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Entertainment Life

The director of the local public access TV station has offered to let some of the young folks put on their own sort of television show that they want to broadcast on cable TV. How cool is that? This is a really nice opportunity for them to take part in something that is not readily available to every kid, to say the least. They want them to have full creative and technical license, so it will be a unique learning experience, and they get to work together to think it up and film and edit it.

What’s also cool is that the station has state of the art equipment, so the kids get to learn and get comfortable with the latest software and digital film and editing equipment, though in the modern era, editing is basically done on a computer.

It’s times like these that I think A really flourishes, and N has been invited to take part, as well. Though maybe not as creative/expressive (at least not outwardly) as his sister, he can definitely have a great experience working from the technical side. Plus, he’ll learn a lot from his sister, and may even find some inspiration.

The gentlemen who runs the station is a really supportive and nice guy, and he seems to like A’s book club/group. He said he wants to challenge the kids and see what they come up with, and in end, whatever they come up will be an accomplishment because it will be of their making.

Like Woody Allen said, 80% of life is just showing up.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to lysurgis23 for the pic.

Performing Artist

A is taking part in a world music class that sings, dances, and plays assorted instruments to world music, I think specifically African and South American music. Our friend MB leads the class, and her daughter is friends with A, so it is a really good fit. Plus, some of A’s friends from all over are in it. She is loving it, and as it’s good to get something going outside the hockey rink. As you may have noticed, my healthy love affair with hockey is growing lukewarm.

A said she recognizes some of the songs, and one of them she has performed in the past on guitar. When she mentioned this to MB, she told her to bring her guitar along and sing it. I was pretty stoked to hear that, she’s a good guitar player and has a lovely singing voice. Plus, she’s a fairly natural performer, even though she is pensive at times. What’s nice about playing the guitar is that there’s the cool factor to it that you just can’t discount.

The class is at a perfect time, as well, because it falls right during N’s practice, and it’s literally right down the road, so I can drop them both off in one trip. The timing couldn’t be better, and there are several ride options because of the people we know that are doing it. I love when that happens.

They are going to have a big performance in town, which that should be nice. The most important thing is that she is really enjoying it, and that the kids have a chance to shine. You just can’t put a price on those moments.

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Board All Over Again

I’ve come to the conclusion that boards are, for the most part, an incredible drain (waste?) of time, and not the most efficient way to deal with things. I understand you can’t concentrate power in one place, and you need some sort of democratic process, but all these meetings just kill me. Maybe it stems from just not wanting to be there.

We have a person leaving the library board, and this is a big one. She is the chair, and such a good one. She is so passionate and works so hard for the library. I can’t imagine how we’ll move forward , but move forward, we will. The search for her replacement was compounded by the fact that I need to renew my seat on the board, which requires registering with the town then getting the necessary signatures. You’d think they’d make it easier when they’re asking you to volunteer your time.

There was all this back and forth over who to approach, and all sorts of miscommunications over who to ask and who was already asked. I asked a couple of people and then was told not to ask because someone else expressed interest, and then when I told people on my end that I had made a mistake, I was told that we might actually still need them in contention because people on the other end weren’t working out. My description doesn’t even touch what a mess it all was, and at some point it became clear to me that not all of us were firing on all four cylinders. A lot of dumb mistakes and miscues were made, but these things happen in life, right?

To make the situation all the more fun, when we finally found a good candidate who was willing to help, one more of our board declared she would be resigning in March. Here we go again.

This doesn’t even have anything to do with hockey, either, if you can believe that.

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

Karate Test

I haven’t been going to karate as much as I should have, for a number of reasons. Sometimes you just lose steam, but also we’ve been so busy that it’s hard to get there. A and N have hockey practice that day, and when it’s over, I have to get them home, heat up supper that I’d made earlier in the day, and then get over to karate. Even then, I am always late. I get to class just as they’re doing warm up exercises.

I told them it was going to be hard for me to make it, so they understand to some degree, but I still feel a little bad. I went last week because there was a test, and it’s good to be there for testing because they need a higher belt to spar with. Had I not gone, the alternative would have been to spar Master H, which is a bit daunting.

I was a little pensive about sparring the younger guys, because not only are they younger, faster, and in better shape, but they’re really good. Definitely not ones to be taken lightly, i.e., I wasn’t going up against 6th graders anymore. I thought that maybe I could slide by without fighting, but no such luck. It was a test, after all, so I had to gear up and get in the ring.

I’m happy to report that it wasn’t so bad. I did okay, and I might even go as far as to say that I won both bouts, scoring some good blows when I needed to. I love when that happens.

Now I can rest easy until the next class, when we begin the road to prepare for the big black belt test, which will include me. This should be good.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mariano Moreyra for the pic.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More Tales of Woe

I didn’t want to pass up another opportunity to whine. One other issue that has been tormenting me is my neck. I have a pinched nerve that is a recurring problem, I get them about twice a year, and it makes life miserable because it severely limits my range of motion. All it takes is moving it a certain way and the pain is excruciating. Couple that with having the flu, and you have a recipe for disaster. Every time I cough or sneeze, it sends a jolt of pain down my neck. Plus, it makes it hard to sleep, because changing position in bed is a painful proposition, and constantly wakes me up.

Boy, life sure is hard when you’re sick, weary, and filled with self-pity. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to davidandbecky for the pic.

Sick as a Dog... Again

I knew it would happen at some point, but it sure blindside you when you come down with the flu. I was seeing people all around me dropping like flies, and once the kids started coughing, I knew it was just a matter of time. Sure enough, about three days ago, it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I’m still reeling. I know it’s the flu because I feel just awful, and I have the aches and chills that make you feel like you’re dying.

What made it worse, and I know R will vindication on this, was hockey. I started feeling sick on Saturday, during N’s game, and then by Saturday night, I was in full sickness mode. By Sunday morning, I was in pretty bad shape, but I had places to be, namely hockey games. What a drag. A had an early morning game in Northfield, about an hour north, and then N had a game in Rutland, about an hour and half south of Northfield, then A had another game at home. I went to all three. I knew R would have been unhappy about driving to N’field at 7:00AM, and can you blame her? I took A, but had to leave early to get to Rutland for N’s noon game. I arranged for A to get a lift to her second game, then after N’s game, we headed over and watched the end of A’s game.

I was pretty sick by the time we got home, so I went straight to bed without eating or drinking much. Today is Tuesday, and I’m still sick, but not as bad. I can function a little better, and I have an appetite, so I’m moving in the right direction.

Now if I can just get out of hockey, I’ll be okay. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dog Help Network for the pic.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Becoming a Coach

You know, I still don’t feel like a coach, even though I wear the jacket. Yes, I’ve become official, they gave me a coaches jacket, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. On the one hand, I guess I’m in the club and get to dress like the real men on the ice. On the other hand, I don’t think of myself in that light, and really only set out to help. I had no aspirations to be a coach, and here I am.

The problem is, the other guys are real hockey players who know the drill and talk the talk. When I try to walk the walk, not only do I flail, but I feel a little pretentious. Maybe I year or two I’ll grow into the role, but for now, I feel a little funny. Then again, I always get neurotic about this stuff, even though nobody really cares, nor should they.

It’s all part of the journey to becoming a real man, right? Like a fish out of water, you have to embrace the unfamiliar and grow from the experience. Either that, or go out and gut a deer.

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

Keeping it on the DL

DL meaning down-low, as I’ve learned. Now I’m old and square, but being around young people all the time tunes you into what is hip and contemporary. Not that I would employ their expressions for fear of making a fool of myself, but some of them seem to stick. Keeping it on the DL is one from more than 10 years ago, and basically means keeping it quiet and low key. I remember in New York everyone was saying that, and I had no idea what they were talking about at first. Now here I am, using the actual expression.

Either way, we’ve been under a bit of strain with so much of our time devoted to hockey. It wouldn’t be as bad if we were all engaged, but since some of us are not, it has created a small rift. Truth be told, it’s important to maintain some perspective, and we have been a bit too immersed in it all to the point where even I am weary. The point is, some of us are tired of hearing about hockey, and I can’t say I disagree. The problem is, hockey just requires some level of unhealthy dedication, even the most ardent support can agree with this.

So, with this in mind, I’ve decided to keep all things regarding hockey on the DL, at least verbally. I'll continue to talk profusely about it on this blog. Even still, keeping it quiet is not easy when you’re as immersed as we are, with all/most of us playing, and me being a slave to the sport, but it’s doable. As if we had a choice. We don’t mind if hockey involves all of us spending quality time together as a family, like going to a Dartmouth game, but when it involves time apart, especially weekends, then we have a problem.

The best way to make this all possible is to keep it as low key as possible, and find that elusive angle that will make everyone happy. Still searching for it, but for now, you didn’t hear anything from me.

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

Thursday, January 17, 2013

XC Skiing

Speaking of skiing, we hit the trails with our local Nordic ski club, and it was a blast, though not quite as serious as I thought it would be. Our friend AM is an avid skier, as is her daughter, and they used to race with one of the town XC ski teams. I guess they don’t do it anymore but want to continue with the sport, so she organized a laid back “team” for the town. I’m not sure if they are involved in competition, because some of those XC ski organizations are hardcore.

I thought it would be a good way for the kids to do some XC skiing, which we don’t do a lot of, and also have something outside of, you guessed it, hockey. We have a time conflict with one of the practices, but can make it to the other, so we joined in the fun. It was an interesting group, most of the kids are beginners, and it was all about fun, which is fine by us. Then again, most of the kids were pretty young, so it got pretty silly at times, but A&N seemed fine with it, and even said they had fun.

I think there are some serious skiers in the group, and they might have been a bit bored, but for the most part, it was a nice day out on the trails. It also seemed to spark some interest in Nordic skiing in N, who has been skiing all over the yard every chance he gets. This is a great thing, in my eyes, though it does require having some snow on the ground, which is not always a sure bet.

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hitting the Slopes

We’ve been able to ski twice so far this season, and that equals all of last season’s total, so we’re doing okay. We are constrained by the cost of lift tickets, and personally I’d love to go multiple times per week, but that’s not going to happen. Plus, we don’t have the time, which is unfortunate because not only is skiing one of our top three winter activities, but it’s also nice to get some balance in our lives and do something outside the hockey rink. I know how sacrilegious this sounds, but it’s true. Besides, before we were hockey players, we were avid skiers, and we all miss it.

I just learned that the local ski hill might have an outstanding deal on lift tickets, and if this is the case, then we are all over it. More on this later.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to aidan1923 for the pic.

Barn Moving Along

I find this nothing short of amazing, but things are actually moving along in the barn. My friend SH has taken the reigns and been coming on weekends to plug away. He’s young, enthusiastic, and just getting started on his glorious career in carpentry. Plus, he’s a good kid, a local who shares many common acquaintance, and I trust the guy. The situation works out well because he can maintain a regular job but also make some side cash and work on our project.

Working the weekends also helps me because it gives me time to round up supplies that he’ll need, which I can get during the week. So far he’s insulated most of the downstairs and is working on the top floor. He’s going to insulate the ceiling and once that’s done, we are kind of moving towards the home stretch, whatever that means. So far, we’ve got the plumbing and electrical in, and the walls are all framed. Once the insulation is done, which could happen in the next month, we need to install heating, put up drywall, do the floors, and finish the exterior. The timing could be good because the outside siding will coincide with warmer weather.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that our contractor will stick with it. I’m finding this not to be the case, but there’s always a first time, right?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Scheduling Life

This has been one heck of a week for hockey, and even I have to say it’s bringing me down a little. Most parents don’t realize how much volunteer work goes into making this hockey program work, but let me tell you, it’s a lot of work. To add to the fun, you have to deal with disgruntled parents and coaches with marginal personalities who want to constantly take issue with what’s being done. A’s coach, whom I always thought was such a nice, soft spoken and great guy, is the biggest offender, but that’s a whole other story.

Now I’d heard this was a rough job, and believe me, it is, but as we head into this juncture of the season, it seems to have gotten a little crazy. There are so many teams canceling and shifting that it takes a fair amount of maneuvering to make sure things run smoothly on the weekend. Even then, things hit the fan. Then everyone starts moaning about how unhappy they are with the schedule and I feel like telling them to take a hike. Of course, I never do that, but I sure do feel like it.

The schedule is planned out months before the season even starts, but once things are in full swing, changes happen, and as the state tournament approaches, all hell breaks loose. As luck would have it, these are the times when you’re mistakes come back to haunt you in a big way.

Let me see if I can get this straight. First off, it helps to know that there are rankings in the field, with A on top, then A/B, then B, as you might imagine. The week started with Squirts. We have a back to back weekend with N’field, and we were under the impression that they were a solid B squad, and being a fairly competitive A/B squad, we wanted to inquire if they still wanted to play us. They said yes, so we kept the games on the schedule. The problem is, if we are not compatible, we won’t know until we actually play, and since the games are consecutive, we have to play the second one. This is a missed opportunity for us to match up against an A squad, which the coaches have been asking for because it will help us prepare for the state tournament.

Anyway, I wanted to cancel at least one of the games and get an A matchup, but no such luck. Then, this week, I get an email from N’field saying they want to cancel our second game because they don’t think we’ll challenge them enough. Can you believe that? Talk about irony. Normally I would be offended, but I understand this is standard MO for hockey. Then again, are they really that much better than we are? I’m curious to see when we play them.

The upside to all this is that it opened the door for a different game, and that’s when Rutland A came knocking. They are a tough team, A caliber, and we’ve played them twice, losing 3-2 and tying 1-1. Great, close games, and all the coaches agree we’re a good matchup. I told them we’re interested, but he’s waiting to hear from another team, and can’t commit quite yet. Whatever.

Then for the Bantams, St. Albans cancelled so I had to find an alternate game. Barre said they’d come, but not before one of the coaches asked for a practice, instead, but he was over-riddenͿy e j|adpRoach, who wanted the game. I was also asked if I could find out about why St. Albans cancelled, and I felt like I had too much on my plate and said if he was interested, then it would be best if he did it. I’m just the scheduler, I don’t need to know why.

At the board meeting, it was brought to my attention that the following week we had coincidental games, both at the same time but in different places. It was a clerical error because the game in BAHA was actually at home, and the home game listed did not exist. Not knowing this, I cancelled on BAHA, only to realize that they were in fact the team wiweT pyiw at home. We now had a hole in the Bantam schedule on that day, so I scrambled to re-schedule that game before BAHA found another. It worked out, but just yesterday, I was talking to TV and they said we were scheduled to go to them on Sunday afternoon.

What??? We like TV, they’re a great program with great people, so I don’t want to piss them off or screw them over, but I had no record of this game. I told the scheduler SM that I’d investigate, and contacted the coaches, who both declined. I told SM it was no, and she, as always, was cool about it, but I felt bad. How the heck did that game get on the schedule?

Now for the Mites. They have a bunch of holes on the weekend, but they said they wouldn’t mind a day or two off, and I was even told by the board that they have too many games. I left some open dates, but then my mistake came back to haunt me. We have a small Mite squad while most other programs have enough for two squads. This means that I have to find an fourth team to show up so the squads all match up. I usually turn to the big city and the Hanover program, and they are usually really cool about helping us out. Thanks. This time around, I had a game scheduled with Lyndon, and Hanover was sending a team to help us. Lyndon cancelled about a month ago, and I forgot to inform Hanover. On Tuesday, I was told by Hanover that they were sending a team on Sunday, and of course, I didn’t have it on my schedule.

I told them we didn’t have anything, but he was pretty adamant (in a nice way) about wanting to play. He said just to let the kids get on the ice and have fun, so I contacted the Mite team who was not planning on playing, and got them to agree to play. I also asked the house guys if they would show up, but it was highly unlikely because they had a game already. I moved times around to make it easier, and then we were all set to play in the late morning. Then I get an email from Hanover saying that they actually cannot play because of scheduling conflicts.

You gotta be kidding me. I had to go back, tell everyone involved that the game was cancelled, and then move on. Now there’s an open sheet of ice that’s going  to waste, which the board is going to flip out about, and hopefully Mr. Hockey will find a use for.

Then there’s the U12, but that’s a whole other story. For now, thanks for reading, and thanks to wstera2 for the pic.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Back to Real Man’s Work

Inspired by our new carpenter, I decided to finish something that had been bugging me for at least a year, maybe longer. There is a section of our house where we keep socks, jackets and hats, that is incredibly dark. There is a decorative light that is completely useless for illuminating things, compounding the fact that in many parts of the house, we could benefit from more light. Being the old man that I am, when I look for hats or socks, it’s so dark I can’t see a thing. It can be really frustrating.

I set out to replace the light with something brighter, maybe even spotlights, but found that the choice of wall mount lights (I forgot their name) is limited not in quantities, but in styles. There seems to be a countless number of variations on the same thing. Plus, I didn’t want anything too fancy, and of course, I was avoiding anything too expensive.

I finally decided on something from HD, and then the question became, when I put the thing in? Would it be another year? It’s been known to happen, but not this time. Within a week of purchasing the light, I decided to bear down and install it. It was pretty straightforward because I had explored this possibility in the past and as a consequence, the light was practically disassembled. I’m amazed it was still hanging from the wall.

All it took was replacing the wires and screwing the new light in. I had to replace the mounting bracket, and then I was confronted with a bit of conundrum. Since it’s a double light, there were two sets of colored wires - two white, and two black. Normally you attach white to white, and black to black. What do you do with two of each?

Feeling rather stupid and inept, but not wanting to mess around with electricity, I did what I always do, and called an expert: JH and his magic bag of tools. He told me to simply attach two whites from the light to the one white from the wall, and the same for the black, and voila, we had light.

Now it’s nice and bright in that section of the house, even when I put in lower energy 40W bulbs. I was thinking fluorescent, but we need light immediately and for a very short period. Fluorescent bulbs tend to take a few minutes to get bright, so I went incandescent. Plus, incandescent gives off much nicer light.

The best thing is the kids and R like the lights and find them aesthetically pleasing. I love when that happens.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

The Long, Dramatic Weekend

You know, last weekend may have been too much hockey even for myself, and I have a high tolerance for the stuff. We are in the thick of hockey season, and it’s been wearing on assorted family members in different ways. It’s hard because it’s such a huge time commitment, and then your life becomes pretty much about one thing. This is never a good thing, because it’s important to have balance in life. Then again, it’s so easy to get sucked into the vortex of hockey, especially when you’re working with Mr. Hockey.

Either way, this past weekend we had five hockey games to attend to. N came down with a bug on Thu, I could tell during practice that he wasn’t himself, and come Friday, he was feeling bad. I don’t think he ate all day, and by that evening, his temp was nearing 101. Not horrible, but you could tell he wasn’t feeling well. We hung out and relaxed as best we could.

Come Saturday morning, he was feeling better, but still sick. He had three games that weekend, so we had to make a decision. As much as he wanted to play, he didn’t feel good, and we all decided he should stay home. He was on board with this, so we weren’t forcing the issue.

We sort of lucked out in terms of time because A had a game, as well, and it was right around the same time as his, at the same place. Since I still had to coach N’s team, I took A to the arena, she hung out, and I helped work the bench, though we missed N. Right after was A’s game, which was nice because I could sit back and relax and watch, for a change. They looked good, not the same team as the beginning of the season.

After the game, we came home and N was feeling chipper, finally eating some food. He said he wanted to go to his games the next day, so we did. It was a doubleheader, making for a long day. A had a game in Plainfield, which mom took her to, and N and spent pretty much the whole day on our home ice. We had a morning game, then had to sit around in the locker room until afternoon for his second game. It was a little rough, and I was exhausted, especially after eating garbage pizza and junk.

By the end of the day, we got home, and I was feeling rather depleted, if not a little depressed. Maybe a person can have too much hockey in their lives... or maybe not.

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Contractor Ready

We’re on a fifth or sixth contractor, I can’t even keep track, but we do have someone working on the barn, and things are moving ahead. My friend of karate has stepped and started work again on the barn. He works another job, but it’s away to earn extra cash on the weekends. It works out well because a lot of the hard stuff has been dealt with, including plumbing and electrical, so all he can come in and finish things up. Plus, it’s a good experience for him to be in charge.

Thus far, he’s insulated the walls and is working on the ceiling. He came up with a good idea for how to do it. He’s going to nail in strapping, lay 1inch blueboard over it, then overlay 6inch fiberglass. The beauty of this is that gives us the airflow we need from the soffit through to the ridge vent, and also adds an extra layer of insulation to reinforce the fiberglass, which is not an efficient insulator. Listen to me, like I know what I’m talking about.

Since he works the weekends, he give me lists of supplies he needs that I can pick up or order during the week and have it waiting for him come Sat/Sun. He is also local, so we share common friends and acquaintances, which I think adds to his credibility. He’s a good kid, and I trust him.

So far so good, we’ll see how far we can get by spring. Hopefully this might be the summer we finish this thing up.

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

Glorious Snow

We finally got a load of snow, and though it’s not a huge amount, it’s enough to cover the ground with a good base layer that turns out surroundings into a winter wonderland. It’s much prettier and more picturesque with snow. Otherwise, like last year, the landscape is pretty bleak, if not a bit depressing.

Plus, the snow means skiing. We’ve managed to ski as much as we skied all of last year, and it’s still January. Last season was pretty bad, even if we were too busy anyway with hockey. This time around we’ve also managed to get some Nordic skiing in, as well.

Since it’s cold and snowy, I think they’re going to put in the ice rink, as well. This could be good. Until then, thanks for reading.

Christmas Returns

What better way to kick off the new year than to stand up for your rights and be a man? As part of my retail duty to spur the economy, I did some last minute Christmas shopping, and as everyone knows, when you don’t plan properly, you suffer accordingly. Since I didn’t have time to ponder different gift ideas and shop wisely, I opted for the “buy now, return later” approach. This works up to a point, but it entails returning to retail hell to get your money back, which isn’t always a smooth transition.

When you’re pinched for time, however, you do what you gotta do. In this instance, I had several things to return, and some instances, the salespeople were not warm and fuzzy. This makes me uneasy and want to just leave well enough alone, but first off, they should treat the customers properly, and secondly, as a customer, I need to be aware of my rights.

I had several returns to go to Walmart, and I knew they would be easy because they are good about returns, it’s just that they are crowded, and deep in the heart of retail hell. Sure enough, when I got there, the line was huge, but it moved pretty smoothly, and the staff was very friendly. Welcome to Walmart!

I somehow ended up with four Lava Lamps (one back to Walmart), don’t ask me how, and had to return one to Newbury Comics. The receipt even said no cash returns, only credit, so I was resigned to this even though I never go there, I’m way too old and square. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when the manager said she could give me a refund. This is a good example, and one which I try to teach our kids, that things are not always as they seem. You really have to go out and find out for yourself, because a lot of information is not accurate. I think it’s designed to scare and discourage you from standing up for your rights. It also teaches you that it doesn’t hurt to try, because the worst that can happen is they say no.

Anyway, I ran into a bit of a hitch with my photo collages. I get our digital pics printed at Walgreens, and they do a great job and have great deals. The kids and I make collages of the big events in our lives, often involving travel, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s also a gift that mom really loves, because she’s a photographer, but also because it’s all about us as a family. This time around the pics came out really dark, to the point where you couldn’t see our faces, at all. I took them back to get them redone and the woman behind the counter was in “bad attitude” mode. She said it wasn’t their fault (implying it was my fault),and that if the lightness was adjusted, it was wash out the pics. In other words, just shut up and deal with it. I could tell she hated her job and was having a bad day, but I wasn’t about to give up, even though this was exactly the kind of situation where I feel like I’m being a pain.

Now bad attitude girl said the machine was down but she’d give me a call and tell me if my pics were still in the system. If they weren’t I’d have to resubmit them online. Fair enough, but she never called. I went back (Walgreens is at the gates of retail hell) and basically said I want these redone. This time around the woman was very friendly, and said no problem, but I’d have to do it online. They would simply exchange them at the time of pickup.

This story is a lot longer than it needed to be, but suffice it to say it worked out beautifully. The pics came out great, I had to deal with some bad attitude but acted like a real man, and even though it required a little leg work and courage on my part, there were important lessons to be learned.

I love when that happens.

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

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Year of Goodbyes

The end of the year can be a time of mixed emotion, but with the weather and the new year, it can sometimes be a bit melancholy. Factor in a bunch of farewells, and it can get downright depressing.

I just got word that one of our favorite restaurants is closing. Stella’s is moving on to bigger and better things, what a bummer, we love that place. They are an institution, and now they’ve sold the place and are relocating. I’m not sure what they’ll call themselves, but what a bummer.

Our library director left, and various hockey board people have indicated that they’ll be gone by the end of this season. Not only board people, but certain coaches will probably be gone, not to mention assorted players. It’s definitely going to be a time of change in the next year.

Oh well, life goes on, right? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed, but like many things in life, you have to just keep plugging on. Change is what makes life move forward, even if it’s uncomfortable and scary. That’s how we grow as individuals, and it definitely makes for a good story.

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

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Maintaining Contact

If you can believe this, I’ve been in fairly regular contact with my mom, and it’s all pretty much been initiated by me. I’ve even contacted my brother, which is even more amazing, but more on that later. A couple of months back I called my mom, after I’d heard there were big fires in an area where she lived. She gave her usual sarcastic response upon hearing my voice, but all in all, it was fairly civil. Then, when I called her back a couple of weeks later, the sarcasm started to wane, which I for one appreciated.

There are moments when she turns the screw a little and is almost begging for a fight, but part of the responsibility for keepings things convivial is on my end, and I didn’t bite. By the new year, we’d spoken half a dozen times, and by the end it was downright pleasant. She even sent us a Christmas card with a Macy’s card attached. How can you beat that?

I have to confess, I’d like to be on better terms with my mom, and I’d like for her to get to know her grandkids better. I am extremely wary because things are never that simple with her, but sometimes you just have to take what you can get and make the most of it. I think things in her life are going fine, she is alone, but she has a large circle of friends and is pretty active.

She said she wants us to come out there to visit, and at the very least, she wants me to come out alone and take care of my stuff that is still in her house. That includes two surfboards. I know that if we all go out there, things will get dramatic and probably a bit ugly, but maybe as an adult you just have to face the music. I’d like to think that her attacks don’t bother me, but they do. She also wants the kids to meet their cousin, and uncle (i.e., my brother).

Now my brother is a whole other story. I won’t get too into it, but let’s just say that beneath the smooth and charming exterior is a scheming individual with pathological tendencies. Trust me when I tell you that things are not as they seem.

Oh well, maybe it’s time to face the music. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to MatthewBogart for the pic.

Happy New Year, Part 2

I’m not much of a fan of celebrating the new year, but I will say this, it’s much nicer with snow on the ground, and we’ve got lots of it. Also, as I’ve mentioned, I’m not going to be as cynical about new year’s resolutions, and I’ve got a few that I won’t bother you with. I’ll just keep them to myself for now.

In the meantime, we had a nice new year’s day, and sort of did the things we wanted to do the night before. We woke up and I made farmer’s breakfast, which is a nice break from our usual celebratory breakfast of pancakes. Don’t get me wrong, we love pancakes, but have them a lot on weekends, especially before hockey games. We hung out by the fire and even did necessary chores. SH even showed up to work on the barn, but more on that later. I went to the store, which was thankfully open, to get some stuff for supper, and noticed that Stella’s was open, so we decided to go there for lunch. We strapped on our XC skis and headed on over. It was a beautiful, albeit chilly day, and skiing over is a great way to have a meal in town because you get to work off all those calories, especially after the chocolate cream pie, which is a must. We also saw friends over in town, including HH.

The ski back was fun, it felt good to be outside, and then we were scheduled to have a hockey practice, but we opted out. It was too early, and we were still tired from a late night. We chilled out, the kids went outside and worked on their snow tunnels, and by the afternoon I got working on supper. Now normally on a special occasion like this, we would have roast beef or turkey, or maybe salmon. All good things.

After taking a house poll, however, the general consensus was that everyone wanted tacos. Sounds good to me. In the past, we used to make ground beef tacos, and let me tell you, they are a family favorite. In our quest to lead healthier lives, we are cutting back on red meat, so we’ve been eating more fish/tofu tacos, which are amazing, as well. For the record, we also do chicken tacos. Either way, the request was made that we make an exception for new year’s day, so we made beef and fish tacos. The beauty of tacos is that it’s a lot of fun to assemble them.

We had a glorious new year’s feast, followed by chocolate mousse and fudge cake from Lou’s, then settled down to watch a movie. My kind of evening.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to 2012bea for the pic.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year, Part 1

Happy new year to everyone, hope all is well in your neck of the woods. We had a nice and somewhat spontaneous new year’s eve, and as we all know, spontaneity always throws us for a loop. Usually we have social options which we generally opt out of in favor of spending a quiet new year’s eve at home, eating junk food and watching a movie, or playing a game. I enjoy it that way but realize it’s not a fun and glamorous option. Then again, who needs fun and glamor when you live in a small town.

For the past five years we’ve been invited to MK’s new year’s bash, and have politely declined because let’s face it, we’re just not party people. I feel bad, it’s so nice of her to think of us, and she’s a super nice person not to mention a pillar of the community, but I’ve gotten too old and boring for parties, and the kids are too young to stay out so late. Sure, we could leave early, but when does that ever happen?

That day N and I were returning home from skiing and saw our good friend HH who mentioned that not only were she and her mate going to the party, but that it was her daughter A’s birthday, and that she’d love to see A. Now if A had been in the car, she would have lobbied hard to attend, but she was chilling out at home after a brutal hockey weekend, so it was just N and I. N, like myself, was not as thrilled at the prospect, and even said not to tell A.

Well, it turns out that that was not even necessary, because at some point in the day, the phone rang and it was our good friends the S’s who wanted to invite us to another new year’s bash, though this was more of a day gig. Now this got to be a little awkward because now we were being invited to a party by someone other than the host, whom we were friends with, but had not been invited by. It was also one of those situations where they initially invited the kids (their daughter is buddies with A) but then said, “Of course, you’re invited, too.”

Hmm, what to do.

As I mentioned, we are friends with the host, so I don’t doubt that we could have gone, but it was still a little weird. Plus, they have a pretty strong social network, so we were “sort of” outsiders. Either way, R and I were a little pensive, but the kids were all for it. So this is what we did. I took the kids over there and hung out for a few minutes exchanging pleasantries, then headed out. The plan was for the kids to play all day, then have some supper and probably play Wii. Standard M.O. for the modern child.

R had to attend to some work/personal stuff, and I went on a mission to return all my Christmas stuff that didn’t work out. That’s a story in itself, but suffice it to say that I succeeded in about 90% of it. After my errands, R and I had a bite to eat, then I went over to get A&N, which is never a simple thing because you have to stay and chat with friends. I felt like we were intruding a little, but there were ulterior motives. Their daughter was the oldest one there, so inviting A helped in that area, and it made life easier for the adults because they could get some babysitting from A and E while they sat around and ate and had cocktails. So I guess I shouldn’t feel that guilty.

Now the kids didn’t want to leave, but were very good about getting ready when I asked. I love when that happens, it makes me proud of them. The reality is, they just wanted to stay so they could all play Wii, which I think is a complete joke, but that’s why I’m a big boring dad. Plus, it was clear that the group was mainly young kids whom neither N nor A can really relate to. It’s the video games that they wanted to play.

I sat and talked with the adults for a bit, but again, it was a little awkward, then finally dragged the kids back home around 7:30. That gave us time to hang out and have some snacks. We were originally going to make supper, eat junk food, and watch a movie, but as you can imagine, that plan fell through. Instead we had a snack and listened to the Dartmouth hockey game streaming live on the Web. That’s what everyone wanted to do.

The kids were a little stressed out, maybe over-stimulated, something I naturally attribute to video games. It was a bit of a battle getting them in bed, but they finally went to sleep, and R and I could ring in the new year like we usually do, asleep in bed.

Thus ends 2012, and we have 2013 to look forward to. I’ve decided to be less cynical about the whole resolution thing. In the past, I always thought it was misguided to look at the New Year’s Day to start something new because it’s just another day, right? Well, it’s just as good as any day to start something new, isn’t it?

Either way, happy new year to all, and thanks for reading, and thanks to joli sourire. (OFF) for the pic.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Team Fun and Crazy Weekend

One of the reasons I thought hockey would be nice for the kids is that, besides a love for the game, it would be a good chance to connect with other kids, especially in an environment where they share a common interest. That seems to be happening, as both A and N are connecting with assorted kids. It’s a little slower for N because he’s the youngest on the team, and boys seem to be more distracted and on the go, especially at that age.

For A, it’s a little different because not only are girls more social, but they’re also older and more mature and grounded. What’s nice about it is that a lot of the girls, and for whatever reason it’s the girls, live in the neighboring town and play for the same team. There is a huge contingent of them, and they are a really nice . Best of all, they’re close by, and we like the parents. Childhood is so complicated.

Since we have so many things going on, I was hoping to turn to these guys if we ever needed transportation assistance. I broached this a few times and got several thumbs up, but never really actually went for it, at least until this weekend. A had two travel games, both pretty far away, and N had a game at the same time. This meant that we were going to be pulled in different directions. Throw in a massive snow storm, and the fact that R had things to do with work and home, and we were in a bind. I asked DB if he could give A a lift, and he was happy to. His daughter, who is a really sweet kid, asked if A could sleep over, and A was thrilled.

So we had another one of “those” crazy weekends. On Saturday R took A to her game and hour and a half up north while I took N to his practice, for which nobody showed up. After practice we were going to go skiing, but it was snowing hard, and we were only going to get about 45 minutes of ski time, so I changed the plan we just went for pizza, which was N’s request.

Now A was up north with the team, and DB said he’d give her a ride home, so R drove home alone with A’s gear. DB and the girls stopped in the capital to get some food. After that, she was going to sleep over at KB’s (DB’s daughter), so the plan was to meet up with them and hand off her hockey gear and toothbrush. Then on Sunday, they would go up to her game way up north together, and then come back that afternoon. After that, we were planning on going to the Dartmouth hockey game. How’s that for insanity?

And let us not forget that N had a game on Sunday, as well, and we wanted to go skiing. This is where it gets amazing. N’s game was in the morning, so we headed over with all of our ski stuff, and he played his game. Then we quickly headed out and went skiing for a few hours, then went back home and awaited A’s arrival. R had to stop by work and the gym, so she headed out separately while I went to get A over at KB’s. From there, we drove out to the Dartmouth game, met with mom, watched the game, and then came home.

Wow, even I think that’s crazy. The kids were gassed, and then there was New Year’s Eve to deal with. That’s a whole other story.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to hzreking and fimonfabre for the pics.

Taking a Chance and Scoring

I’m always telling the kids not to be afraid of taking chances, not just in hockey, but in life, and in a way we walked the walk with getting their ice skates. I know, I know, big deal, right? Well it is when you're a parent.

First, some background. The kids had an early morning practice last week, and everyone was dreading it. N’s practice got rescheduled, and though he was relieved, I think life would have been easier if we’d just bitten the bullet and gone, but such is life. Some things are beyond our control.

Either way, N got to sleep in and A and I headed over. There was a pretty good turnout, and since it was right after Christmas, you could see a lot of the kids had new hockey equipment, A included. She got new skates, and was in the process of breaking them in. Fortunately, she was able to try them out at open stick and now practice before an actual game. It’s good to know if your skates feel okay before a game situation.

When I first used my skates, I wore them to practice and they hurt my feet. I was bummed, but then I wore them the next day at a game and not only did my feet ache, but they chafed my legs to the point that they were bleeding. I know, probably too much info, but man did it hurt.

Anyway, at open stick, A mentioned the balls of her feet hurt a bit, which is what happened to me, as well, but I told her that her feet were adjusting. All in all, she did well, and wore her skates the entire practice. A few of the other kids did not fare as well, and at some point during the drills, they skated off the ice and changed back into their old skates. I completely understand, but from a parent’s POV, it’s a complete bummer when you take a leap of faith on a present and it doesn’t work out. That’s what happens when you try to surprise your kids with ice skates, something they should really be fitted for, and they will outgrow in a year or two. Trying to save a little money complicates it even further, because skates are probably the single biggest expense for a player. You can usually get better deals online, but you can’t try them on... sort of.

When I got A&N’s skates, I did exhaustive research and in the end, I think I got lucky because so far, so good. I was able to get them at clearance prices, as well, which speaks volumes to my frugal nature. I’m just glad they like them, because when you’re young, there is the “coolness” factor to consider. I know most people don’t even notice, but that never stopped me from being neurotic about it.

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