Monday, February 27, 2012

20,000 Words

Me and my co-author, August 2011.
20,000 words. That's how far I have gotten with my idea for a book, chronicling life as a stay at home dad. I know, I know, the last thing the world needs is another book by a new parent telling everyone what they need to do to get their kid to be as awesome as their own is. But don't worry, this book is turning out to be more of an anti-parenting manual. It does not offer a lot of solutions, but basically talks about all of the pitfalls that await new parents, focusing mostly on dads. I go off on tangents, rant quite a bit, and shoot holes in other authors' work, especially when they act like they have all of the answers. All in all, it could be one of the least helpful parenting memoirs out there.

I have 40,000 words as a vague goal before I actually do any of the real work and see if I can  edit this in some coherent way and pull it together. So I wanted to reach half that before I even seriously considered the remote possibility that I can pull this off. There is still a large chance that it will go nowhere and remain a collection of journal entries and bitter critiques of more successful writers. But who knows? Stranger things have happened.

Excerpts will appear (and have appeared already) here as blog posts if I think they are relevant enough and can stand alone. I might include recipes at the end, and some woodworking plans for baby and toddler-related projects. I'm not sure yet, we'll see how it grows. Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

If You Don't Read This You are Unfit to be a Parent

screaming contest

There. I said it. Do I mean it? No, of course not. How could the reading of one blog entry determine your suitability for being a parent? This entry is really going to be about something else. But that guilt-inducing fear-mongering sensationalistic headline has preyed on your need to feel like you are somehow doing the right thing in the vast uncertain world of parenting and consequently has sucked you in. All in a day's work.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Perfect Sunday

Pancake? What pancake?

Most weekends are filled with tasks, to-do lists and a never-ending feeling of trying to catch up. But every once in a great while, if you are lucky, you'll get a completely unstructured and guilt-free Sunday afternoon. And if you are doubly-lucky, it includes chocolate chip pancakes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Begin at the Beginning
Little House on the Hillside

Saturday, January 21, 2006
A few things became clear to me as we began this process. One was that it was going to be long. Very long. Excruciatingly long. Mind-numbingly, soul-crushingly long. And we haven't even started building yet.
Another thing was that we needed to record all of the events that are going to make up this grand adventure, for there already have been many happenings worth preserving for the history books (even though, may I remind you, we have yet to lift a hammer).
Thus, this blog. In these early stages, posts may be short and infrequent, once we get you up to speed. As time rolls onward, however, look for stories and photos from the hillside. Thanks for visiting.

And this was how the house building blog started. Three entries later it appeared to take a six-month hiatus, but that may have had a lot to do with the fact that we were dealing with a flaky landowner and a slimy real estate agent and as a result, that summer was the summer of our discontent. We had hoped to start building in April, but didn't start until September if that gives you any idea of the frustration that awaited us.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Winter Vegetables
What's For Dinner

I have roasted very few chickens in my life--this was my third, I believe. I haven't been eating meat for all that long and my confidence in the cooking flesh department is not super high yet. But I saw Jamie Oliver do justice to a chicken in a very similar fashion and consulted a friend of mine who has some considerable culinary skills, so I felt pretty good following their lead. I stuffed it with lemons and leeks and herbs and rubbed it with garlic, rosemary and olive oil, and it came out great. But the cooking was not really where I was feeling most deficient--it was the carving I dreaded.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Farmers

This is a radish, people. Who knew?
 Some years back, before babies were born and houses were built and when dreams were ripe for the picking, a dear friend named Erin lived not too far away down in Massachusetts (I did not hold this against her).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Little House on the Hillside

My favorite view on a gorgeous day.

My wife Anne and I built our house from September 2006 to November 2007. We used a kit from First Day Cottage, a company in Walpole, NH. But lest you get the idea that it was a bunch of pre-made pieces that we snapped together, this was only a kit in the nominal sense. We had to cut, nail, install, erect (hee hee) and finish every element of the house ourselves. Some tasks we ended up hiring out--the excavation and site prep, the foundation, most of the plumbing, finishing the floors and a few other things. But we did just about everything else, day after day, through all seasons and in all weather. It was a defining moment in our lives and a turning point for me personally. My life was instantly divided into pre-house and post-house periods, and no challenge that arose post-house seemed insurmountable anymore. Given time and some resources, we could achieve anything.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reflections on the State of the Union Address

note: I wrote the following article for a local paper, The Monadnock Shopper News, where it appeared in a column that focuses on environmental issues. A 600 word limit forces me to keep things short and touch on just a few points. And while I certainly voted for Obama in 2008 and will certainly vote for him again this year, I certainly do not agree with everything he does. This is what makes Democrats their own worst enemy--the inability to walk in lockstep, a talent their colleagues across the aisle seem to do so ably on so many issues. I sometimes wonder if their whip literally uses a whip to get the votes he needs. Anyway, here are a few thoughts: