Kristi’s big fall project comes to fruition every year in October:
the school directory gets published. She has been doing the Deer
Canyon Elementary School Directory for 4 years now. Its 34 pages
of staff and class listings, student names and phone numbers, calendars and
schedules, and PTA slogans allow her to exercise her product layout and
production skills learned in 10 years at Academic Press. An excellent
example of someone in retirement applying their career skills to volunteerism.
The staff of the school district graphics reproduction department
is always quite taken aback by someone who knows as much/more than they
do about producing a piece. It's a resource that every parent can
use all school year long.
Doug and Keith's second year in Indian Guides began with the Induction
Picnic, a get together of the entire nation to introduce new recruits
and play games. Russ Bird, our tribe chief last year, became nation
chief this year. Keith took over as tribe chief (not so much by
stepping forward, but by standing still while everyone else took a step
The Mustang did something to break Keith on Sunday, October 6. Maybe
it was dump antifreeze on the garage floor. Maybe it take another quart
of oil after just 500 miles. Maybe it was that the car would be 15
on Thursday (he bought it the day before his 24th birthday). Or maybe
it was the realization that another round of good money after bad was
upon him, with registration, smog check, and insurance all due that week.
Whatever it was, Keith switched that afternoon from the position
he had been holding for years ("The Mustang is a sound, reliable car
that has its warts but is paid for") to the position Kristi had been espousing
for as many years ("Stop putting money into that old thing and get a
new car"). Three days later, Keith had a new Mustang convertible.
Kristi wryly observed that when she decided it was time to replace
the Windstar, it took us 4 months, but when Keith decided it was time
to replace his car, it took 4 days.
So two days prior to his 39th birthday, Keith bought a new Mustang.
But please don't call it a midlife crisis vehicle. It replaced
a 15 year old car. Yes, it's a convertible, but Keith's proven over
the last 15 years he knows how to use it, commuting to work with the top
down over 90% of the time. He did not get a GT model again: he wanted
to prove he was older and wiser than when bought the first car, and with
Bradley driving in just 5 years, he wanted to remove the horsepower from
It was ironic the very weekend after the new Mustang was bought, Uncle
Charlie came for a west coast visit, and he and Aunt Betty came to dinner.
Ironic because 15 years and three months ago a younger Keith was
having dinner with Aunt Betty and Uncle Charlie and reviewing his vehicle
dilemma with them: practical, or daring-do impractical, for instance a
Mustang GT convertible. While Betty is a great fan of convertibles,
she was of course urging a practical subcompact; Charlie was silent. When
Betty retired to the ladies' room, Charlie leaned across the table and
stated firmly, "Get the Mustang."
An Ode to the Mustang.
Bradley took Keith to a San Diego Chargers football game for his
birthday. And what a game: the Chargers’ thrilling, last minute come
from behind victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. It was Keith’s
second Charger game after 10 years, and Bradley’s first in 11.
The tickets were courtesy of Brad, who won them in a drawing at school.
After the Chargers’ Super Bowl appearance, the giddy city of San Diego
foolishly added a “seat guarantee” clause to a contract extension with
the Chargers for Qualcomm stadium. For every seat under 55,000
that doesn’t get sold, the city essentially buys the ticket by providing
a stadium rent rebate back to the Chargers, who are renting the stadium
from the city. Fascinatingly enough, this removed all motive for
the Chargers to sell themselves, as they were guaranteed to be paid for
55,000 tickets, whether there were seats in the seats or not. The
city has taken a financial drubbing for the last couple of years while
the Chargers were being drubbed on the field. In an effort to salvage
something from the deal, the city has demanded the tickets it bought and
distributes them to schools for them to disperse as they see fit.
So thank you city taxpayers for sending us gratis to an exciting football
Brad had his first baby sitting job. He watched Slater and
Kolby Bird while daddy Russ was out coaching big brother Bennett’s
soccer game (and mommy Kim was out of town). Brad loves little
kids, especially toddlers. He is actually on the nursery volunteer
rotation at church.
Tradition was served by our annual autumnal trip to Bell Gardens.
The Sunday afternoon trip
purposes: first family trip in the new convertible, casual car trip
into the rural San Diego country back country, purchase our pumpkins
close the source (as opposed to the grocery store or vacant lot pumpkin
patch), and ride the biggest garden railway I know of.
With no room in our two car garage, it was time to dispose of the old
With the registration and insurance due,
it had to be gone by the end of October. The car had more sentimental
value than the mere pittance it would have fetched if sold. Keith
remembered his Mustang conversations last month with Nick Nennis at
Bergie's funeral, and further realized Nick was blessed with an Uncle
and a Grandfather with mechanical inclinations who might enjoy a project
car. Keith offered the car to Nick, hoping the GT would thrill
another young man as it did 15 years ago. Nick did not look a gift
Mustang in the mouth. So arrangements were made to drive the Mustang
up to Fresno (home base of said Uncle and Grandfather) and have Nick transport
us back to San Diego. The last weekend in October Brad and Keith
took a last great father and
son road trip
in the Mustang.
We had the most successful, stress free Halloween in memory.
And it all revolved around Kristi coming up with costume ideas for the
kids early. Remembering an old frizzy wig in the Halloween box,
she suggested a Hippy to Doug. Doug doesn’t know what a hippy was,
but he was game. Starting with an obnoxious straw hat of Keith’s,
she suggested a tacky tourist to Brad. Both boys bought in.
After a couple of trips to Party City for 60’s tattoos, a peace pendant,
and a tie die bandana, Doug looked like Jimi Hendrix. Brad borrowed
a shirt from his uncle Jeff, wore some of his own loud shorts, added
a camera and colored socks and he looked great. Both kids got in
the spirit once dressed: Brad would strike obnoxious poses to take pictures,
and Doug would make peace signs and say, “Trick or treat, man.”
This year did have one major difference, however: Brad is now no longer
interested in trick or treating with his dad and brother. He went
with a group of 6 of his friends around the greater neighborhood area.
Relieved of all pre-Halloween stress, Keith even thought of an
easy, topical costume: Corporate CEO, 2002 (dressed in suit; money stuffed
in pockets, sleeves, and collar; wrists in hand cuffs). It was
the first time he dressed in years. And of course he loves subtle
costumes that people have to think about.
In a move sure to gladden Hippy Doug's heart, we joined the 21st century
equivalent of a food co-op: a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Keith
heard about them on NPR (National Public Radio), then discovered his vegetarian
boss had joined one. You buy a "share" of a varied crop from a local farm,
cutting out the middle men of food distributors and grocery stores. We
get a nice variety of lettuce, corn, avocados, incredible tomatoes and oranges,
plus the occasional wild card like chard or bok choy. The charm of participating
doesn't lie in the fact that our particular CSA is organic, or that it
saves us money (it doesn't), but in the fun of not knowing what you're
going to get, and the thought that perhaps you're helping to perserve some
local farm land from being subdivided into houses.
They Read It:
I simply can't keep
up with this section any longer. Doug reads 15 to 20 minutes a day
for homework, and so goes through his chapter books quite quickly. When
he reads aloud his parents are amazed at his inflection. Brad has
been racing with his classmates to read 1475 pages and move his token on
the classroom wall to the top of Mt. Whitney (at 14,494 ft the tallest point
in California and continental US). Smoked by some super-reader girl,
his goal is now to be the first boy to the top.
A Girl Named Zippy
They Said It:
Doug: watching a Coors light commercial featuring bikini clad
women frolicking in the snow, “I don’t see why they think this makes
me want to buy that.”