Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Time for an update

OK. Another update. Things change. The buyers of our house backed out, and when I looked at what we'd be paying for property taxes, it became impractical to purchase the other home. So, we're doing our "Home Improvement" projects - tearing up carpet and getting to the hardwood, new bathroom fixtures, a few changes in the kids' rooms, stuff like that.

Lately, I've been having that recurring feeling that I need to change. Perhaps it's the proverbial "mid-life crisis", but I think it might be more than that. I just wish I could quit, and do the things with my life I want to do: write; do photography; spend time with the kids; read; watch good movies; time with Lorrie; time by myself - all things some might consider "leisure", but to me are things important to living. As much as being married and having a family is an important part of my life and identity, the life I had BEFORE that was wonderful. I was singing in one of the finest professional choruses in the country. I was travelling and doing my photography, and feeling that I was on the way to at least a profitable hobby as a photographer. Finally, I feel that that last year before I started dating my wife was such a wonderful time filled with reading, listening and performing music, travelling and seeing. A wonderful time for my soul. I miss that.

But yet, I look at the kids. They are miracles. And Lorrie is not just my wife, but my best friend (one who tells me that my shit stinks when it truly does!). This life is wonderful too. But I'd love to be able to augment it with the artistic life I once had.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Been FAR too long!

So much has transpired since my last post. Primarily, I was extremely busy at work, which made time for posting so difficult.

June 23rd of this year was a little sad for me. It was the anniversary of my dad's passing last year. I miss my dad tremendously, although I don't "mourn" his loss in the way one of my brother's does. I simply miss his wise counsel, his humor, and his interaction with my kids. Every once in a while Colin (my nearly 5-year old) asks to see "granpa Prothero", and asks me sometimes if he's still "bye-bye". Colin posesses some of my dad's features, so as he grows older I know I'll see more and more of my dad in him.

Ever since around Father's Day we've been in a transition mode. I had suggested to my wife that we explore the option of moving into a larger home, primarily so we could have a visit from my mom on occasion. Even though my mom lives less than 45 minutes away, we don't visit her often. Having a home that could accomodate her visits would be nice for us, and enable her to spend more time with her grandkids. I have pretty much determined that she doesn't wish to move in, but I believe she'd enjoy regular visits. Plus, she enjoys my wife's parents a lot, and they enjoy her company as well.

So, around Father's Day my wife saw a home for sale that was a few yards from her parent's home. It was also a place that she spent time in (she knew the family). We looked at it, expressed our interest, and on Monday had gotten pre-approval for financing. We had even gotten an appointment set up to make an offer. But apparently the listing agent was planning on selling it at a low price to an investor, and then "flip" the property. We were out of luck. But we knew someone who was an agent, and he put us on to a property close to our house. It actually is large (2800 sq. feet) with a large lot (nearly 12,000 sq. feet) that has a pool. It is only 2 bedrooms and a den (which we can use as a guest bedroom), and a granny flat that we'll convert to two rooms for the kids. But the journey to get this house has been interesting. We put our house on the market, and it sold in less than 2 weeks. But the other one has had it's fits and starts as we offered, received a counter offer, we countered, the seller countered....in the end we're paying $10,000 more than we were told he was planning to sell it for, and $5,000 less on the roof allowance than we were expecting. All in all, it needs a bit of work, but will end up being a showcase when we're done.

So, we're moving only a few blocks, but it is soon....

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Same ol' shit..

It's been an interesting couple of weeks. Two weeks ago I was driving home from work and noticed my temperature gauge climbing - FAST! I was able to pull off the tollway and stop before I overheated, but as I waited 2 hours for a tow truck, with my wife and kids joining me to take me home, I was frustrated. Just one more thing that went wrong with the Land Rover. The previous weekend we had looked at a pre-owned Toyota Tacoma 4WD double cab, which we had been thinking about. So, there by the side of the tollway I decided that this was the final straw. Unfortunately, the truck I had looked at was gone. But that Saturday we did some serious online shopping, found an '03 locally that was what I want (no 4WD though), and got it. I like it so far, but still have emotional attachment to the Land Rover. But I am getting between 16 and 18 mpg (13 on the Land Rover), and I only have to put in regular, not premium. Plus this truck will become Justin's when he's driving, and he's all for that!

Same ol' shit..

It's been an interesting couple of weeks. Two weeks ago I was driving home from work and noticed my temperature gauge climbing - FAST! I was able to pull off the tollway and stop before I overheated, but as I waited 2 hours for a tow truck, with my wife and kids joining me to take me home, I was frustrated. Just one more thing that went wrong with the Land Rover. The previous weekend we had looked at a pre-owned Toyota Tacoma 4WD double cab, which we had been thinking about. So, there by the side of the tollway I decided that this was the final straw. Unfortunately, the truck I had looked at was gone. But that Saturday we did some serious online shopping, found an '03 locally that was what I want (no 4WD though), and got it. I like it so far, but still have emotional attachment to the Land Rover. But I am getting between 16 and 18 mpg (13 on the Land Rover), and I only have to put in regular, not premium. Plus this truck will become Justin's when he's driving, and he's all for that!
It's been an interesting couple of weeks. Two weeks ago I was driving home from work and noticed my temperature gauge climbing - FAST! I was able to pull off the tollway and stop before I overheated, but as I waited 2 hours for a tow truck, with my wife and kids joining me to take me home, I was frustrated. Just one more thing that went wrong with the Land Rover. The previous weekend we had looked at a pre-owned Toyota Tacoma 4WD double cab, which we had been thinking about. So, there by the side of the tollway I decided that this was the final straw. Unfortunately, the truck I had looked at was gone. But that Saturday we did some serious online shopping, found an '03 locally that was what I want (no 4WD though), and got it. I like it so far, but still have emotional attachment to the Land Rover. But I am getting between 16 and 18 mpg (13 on the Land Rover), and I only have to put in regular, not premium. Plus this truck will become Justin's when he's driving, and he's all for that!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Hate being sick

Damn! I hate being sick. Worse yet is that the whole family has it too. Lorrie had a mild case of laryngitis last weekend, and this week has been fighting congestion. Justin came home yesterday feeling ill, Colin had the cold for a few days, but is doing better. And last night Audrey sounded congested, but also sounded like she had it in her lungs. We've been hearing that this particular strain of flu also has pneumonia associated with it, so we're watching her closely. Me? Well, it started 2 weeks ago, I was doing OK last week, but last weekend didn't sleep much, so it got worse. Went home from work on Wednesday, felt OK yesterday, then had another rough night last night, so I feel terrible today. I was cranky with Lorrie this morning, and can't wait for 5 PM to go home, and go to bed. The only drawback to being sick and having kids is that they don't let me rest. Not that it's intentional, but they are active, which means noisy. Hard to sleep with that combination. My brother said that this is a strain of flu which lasts 6-8 weeks, comes and goes during that time, so one day you feel fine, the next you feel like shit. Ah, well.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Ansel Adams

I happened upon a repeat of the PBS series "American Masters" last night, the one about Ansel Adams. I had seen this a year or so ago, upon the 100th anniversary of his birth. It is a very well-done presentation about his life, his art, with many wonderful photographs of him, his family, and interviews with other photographers, writers, and his children. It affected just as much last night as my first viewing. But one thing I came away with last night was the self-realization that he was truly unique, as I am. And try as hard as I can, my photographs could never be like his, just as his photographs could never be like mine. I didn't feel the usual sadness that I am not out there like he was, capturing images to the extent that he wasn't around for the birth of his first child. I cannot do that. I can only do what I am supposed to do: be a good dad, good hubby, and then a good photographer.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

When it rains, it pours!

Literally! We've had one of the wettest winters on record here in Sunny So Cal, with over 31" of rain recorded at the Los Angeles Civic Center. Other areas have had much, much more. But today, I became part of the statistics of "rain related auto accidents". I was travelling north on the freeway. It was not raining, but just had rained heavily, which created a massive amount of spray in the air. The sun was shining, so there were rainbows in front of me, behind me, coming up from the roadway. I backed off from the cars in front of me because visibility was about, oh, 30'. I saw brake lights. I slowed, and then realized I had to stop - quickly! I did. I looked in my rear view mirror to make sure the person behind me was going to stop. Then I saw it. A semi with a trailer, on the lane next to and behind me. He wasn't slowing. Then he started to jackknife, and as he did, his front left bumper hit my right front fender. He stopped, fortunately, before he hit other vehicles. But behind me I could see other cars and trucks as they were swerving, and in the case of one big cargo truck, sliding sideways. The total amount of vehicles inlvolved must have totaled close to 20, and the accident I was directly involved in caused at least 3 more behind me. I was one of the lucky ones. Not only was I not injured, but I was able to drive away. I saw several vehicles that could not. Whew!

Hey, at least I had some good news today! Signing loan documents tomorrow night for our re-fi, funding on Monday the 28th (my birthday), and payment of all items by Wednesday.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Whew!

Well, my last post was about feeling beat up - under financial strain, which was putting a strain on my relationship with my wife too. I tend to worry too much about things, while she's a little more relaxed.
Earlier this week I got an email from a home-loan company that I had refinanced with 2 years ago. I hadn't thought of doing a re-fi as a means of getting out of the hole we were in, but I just gave it a try. A few phone calls, and a couple of discussions later, and we're in the process for the 3rd time in 5 years. But THIS time, because real estate values in Southern California - Orange County in particular - have skyrocketed, we're able to pay off the 1st, the 2nd, and ALL our consumer debt! We'll be debt free except for the car payments and the mortgage. What a relief! I was able to go to bed not worrying about things. I feel so much better.....

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Beat up

I feel beat up lately. Not in the literal sense, but figuratively. I've had some decisions on my mind that have required great thought, but I've had little time to think. It was only 2 weekends ago that we finally got all the Christmas decorations in storage, and at the same time my wife decided to re-do the living room layout, and all three of the kid's bedrooms. Lots of work in getting that done! Even though she did much of the moving.
But I have so much on my mind that I am feeling like a pinball in a fast-moving pinball machine. First off, our family finances. Like many in our country, I have amassed a large amount of consumer debt, which was increased due to my wife not working, and the fact that we purchased two Land Rovers at the same time. Her LR is now gone, replaced by a new GMC Yukon that will cost us $220 LESS than the payments on the LR. But my LR is still around, and I have 2 years to go on payments. On top of that I have nearly $2000 in repairs that need to be done. So, we're looking at purchasing a new or newer vehicle that will last longer and be more reliable. But the costs of doing that are what I need to determine. That'll take time, which I don't always have.
But even with my salary what it is, every pay period is a challenge to make it all fit. We've refinanced twice in the 4+ years we've been in our house, both times to consolidate debt. But with 2 kids in 11-1/2 months, we had a lot of expenses that we just didn't count on, and we did some renovations to our home last year that were costly, but necessary.
On top of all that I am looking into relocating, which is a major family decision. We're not all 100% sold on the idea, but I am wanting to leave sunny So Cal, and Lorrie would like to go to a place that actually has "seasons". Oregon is our choice.
Anyway, feel better now...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

G'night Johnny

Like most of America, I was saddened at hearing that Johnny Carson had passed. I only watched his show for his last 2-3 years, but enjoyed them immensely. His class, wit, his slow reactions to the antics of animals or children, plus his generosity to his guests and associates are attributes that we all can strive to achieve. One anecdote about him that best sums up his class and generosity: I had a good friend who knew Jester Hairston, the old man in the sitcom "AMEN!" that starred Sherman Hemsley, and was produced by Carson's company. During the run of the series Johnny ALWAYS made sure that there was a limo for Jester at his home in South L.A., and when Jester's wife passed, Johnny made sure that Jester was taken care of. No fanfare. Just one human being watching after another. I was also touched when Johnny's son was killed in an accident back in the early 90's. The irony was that Johnny's son was a photographer as I was, and was taking photographs along the Central California coast, one of my favorite areas.

G'night Johnny. Keep God laughing, OK?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Religion...

I was out sick Tuesday, not very fun. But I dug into some of my old videos and found one that I hadn't watched in a while. To set this up properly, I was very good friends with a Presbyterian minister whose sermons challenged my faith and helped me grow. I first got to know him in the early 80's, and then he moved to a church in the Los Angeles area. I kept up my acquaintance with him, visiting his church often in the years. He was the one that officiated at my wedding. He was a very well-read, very educated man, with a quick acerbic wit. He was a master of the one-liner, and loved to embarass members of his congregation at the service. But it was always done with love and warmth, so it only served to endear him to his congregations. At my wedding I expected him to be sharp, and give me several verbal jabs intent to tease. But he said some wonderful things about me, which made our wedding more special. More to the point, Dr. Todd was a very good preacher, and I often found myself stirred and stimulated at his sermons. About 1o years ago I was going through a time of searching. I had been raised in a very traditional church, with ministers in robes, full choirs, organ, the works. I am more comfortable in that worship environment. The new, more contemporary services that are appealing to many are not to me. Yet I viewed those who attended such churches as zealous for The Lord, which I have never been. It caused within me a time of questioning and introspection, which I told to Dr. Todd within a letter. He used that letter as a basis for a sermon, which I went to hear, and bought both a video and cassette tape on. So, as I said, on Tuesday I popped in the video. It was wonderful to see him again: he is tall, looks a lot like John Cleese, but has long hair, a beard, and underneath his traditional Scottish robe and clerical collar are a pair of cowboy boots. There were two things in his sermon that spoke to me last Tuesday: first, he spoke of being in the L.A. area as wonderful place full of diversity of thought, culture and religion. Whereas today our society seems to be polarizing towards a more centrist view of Christianity, Dr. Todd advocated 10 years ago (and it's still relevant today) the need to absorb these other idealogies, cultures and thoughts. I believe that is important too. Whether it is in reading, conversing with others, or learning about cultures and their beliefs. It can also apply to being open to new music, books, art, movies - any form of art. It allows one to become more rounded and open. The second thing Dr. Todd said is going to be more difficult to express, and it really wasn't something he said. It was the culture of his church, his personal theology. Dr. Todd called it "The Oasis Society". He was referring to church as a whole - a place to go and be refreshed on the journey. However, I see most churches, particularly the conservative ones, not as oasis, but as refuges. They allow the people to come in, but not to be refreshed. They are for the purpose of shelter - protection from the outside world. I do not believe that was our Lord's intent. We are to go out and be in the world, but not of it. The contemporary church, in my view, teaches not to go out in the world, and if you do, don't allow it to affect you. It seemed to me that Dr. Todd's view was the opposite: come to church, get energized, get fed (when you are fed and healthy you are more likely to not get sick), and then go out. That is very unique, and an idea that I do not see anymore.
In this time of continual searching for both myself, my wife and our family, I feel more empowered than I did before. Thank you, Dr. Todd.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Hello to all

Well, I had been encouraged by another blogger to create my own blog, and so here it is. I love to write, and used to keep journals, so I will continue that here.