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Nature abhors a vacuum, and just because the boys aren’t in soccer this fall doesn’t mean we haven’t found numerous other ways to fill our evenings and weekends.  Brad is in this competitive basketball league, Doug is in Y Guides, Keith is running back and forth to Carlsbad to visit Betty, Kristi is Room Mom at school, and we’re all involved in church up to our rosaries.  
Keith had a rather rude awakening the first Sunday in November when he had his digital camera stolen at church.  He was left trying divine the intended message.  Possibilities that came to mind included “Thou art spending too much time on the web page and not enough with the family,” “Trust not thy neighbor,” and “If a man taketh your digital camera, give him your camcorder, too.”  He finally settled upon, “Enjoy the moment more and stop separating yourself from it by trying to capture graven images.”  While the camera was certainly an important part of Keith’s life (witness these web pages), the perspective of the fire and those who lost everything was not lost on him. 
After one week of denial and another of anger, Keith had gotten to the point in his grief that he could consider a replacement, and he began to research new cameras.  And then, just like Doug’s bike in June , the stolen camera returned home.  Not so the camera bag, the rechargeable batteries, memory cards and tripod.  But as you see, he was equipped to take pictures for Thanksgiving.  While he was glad to have the camera back, Keith did somewhat regret not having an excuse to splurge on the latest and greatest technology.
The third Saturday in November Brad and Keith joined the House Building Ministry from church and went to the colonias of Tijuana to help build a simple house.  A dedicated core group in the church is joined by miscellaneous volunteers to go to Tijuana 4 to 6 trips a year. Brad and Keith have always wanted to do it, but their Saturdays have always been full with sports and other family events.  When a build was finally scheduled for a Saturday without any commitments, we took it as a miraculous sign and signed up.
Bradley was of course fascinated by his first trip outside the US.  He drank in all the sights, staring out the window for the hour long trip snaking from the border through Tijuana until we finally reached the “suburbs.” The slab had been previously poured next to the burned out trailer the family currently occupied.  Keith was assigned to the group making the interior wall and loft floor, while Brad painted the trim before it was installed.  We had talked about how hard the work would be, and Brad did indeed lose steam just before lunch.  He spent the afternoon playing with the young boys that gathered to “help.”  He claimed he was performing a service in keeping them out of the way, and I suppose there was some truth in that.  We returned home exhausted.
That night it rained.  It was comforting to think there was one less family exposed to the elements because of our work that day.
Douglas' third grade class put on a big Thanksgiving production for the parents the last Friday before the week long Thanksgiving break.  It was a fun hour filled with songs, skits, and audience participation performed right there in the friendly confines (and it was tight!) of their classroom trailer.
Kristi, as room mom, was of course heavily involved in catering the post-production cast and audience party.  Douglas demonstrated the powers of suggestion by relentlessly telling everyone they had to try his mother's brownies, the best in all the known world.  He pitched so well that by the end all her brownies were gone and parents were asking Kristi for her incredible recipe.  They were just Betty Crocker brownies.
For at least the sixth straight year (maybe seventh), the Sherwoods hosted Thanksgiving.  The annual extended family pot luck starts with a minimum of 15: the Sherwood family, Jeff and Chrysanne and Quinn and Kelsy, Chrysanne's sister's family (3), and Chrysanne's parents, uncle, and brother.  Additions this year were Aunt Betty, Keith's mom Jane from New Mexico, and Keith's brother Ken and his girlfriend Minoosh from Minneapolis.   Betty had had a seizure earlier this month, and was a little more frail than usual. But we all managed just fine.
Thanksgiving day dawned smokier than any day since the fires.   Santa Ana winds had set up over night and spent hours kicking up ash from the fire and blanketing the skies above San Diego.  In fact, the guests that flew into San Diego that morning remarked on how it looked like the countryside was on fire again.  The ash in the air kept us inside, and turned the planned ping pong/croquet biathlon event back into just a ping pong tournament.
After the meal there was the traditional Turkeybowl ping pong tournament and the fast becoming traditional dubbed Asian DVD.  The quality of the DVDs that show up every year is threatening the tournament as it is hard to get people up off the couch to go play their games.  Although Brad (Tournament Director) handled the reluctance much better this year than in the past, it must be admitted that there are certain elements within the extended family who would probably prefer the tournament's demise, and with it the demise of the trophy.  Kristi, for one, who yearly threatens Keith and Brad not to win it, then plots with other wives whose turn it is to be stuck with the thing for the next year.  To see who got stuck with the trophy this year, click to see the champ .
Jane, Ken and Minoosh stayed through the weekend and left the following Tuesday.  We visited Betty a couple more times, saw the San Diego sights, and played with the GPS in their rental car.   For full details, visit this link.
Puppy Chronicles:
According to her adoption papers, Dancer's first birthday was November 21st.  
We're going to have to retire this section's name, although not so much due to age as to mass.  She's 70 pounds now, so we can't go on using the diminutive without being (rightfully) accused of being incurably dopey doggie people.  We celebrated Dancer's birthday by giving her a bed, really a 3 foot diameter pillow.  It took her a week to figure it out, but she knows it's hers now, and she flops down on it for naps all the time.  
One calendar year must be 15 in dog years, because Dancer went all adolescent on us.  She suddenly decided to push the rule about not being allowed upstairs and went exploring a couple times.  (The first time was in the middle of the night, much to Doug's surprise, who woke up to find a dog staring him in the eye.)  We acted quickly to reinforce this boundary with Dancer, and she seems to be done sowing her wild oats.

They Read It:
Keith: Inside Intuit
Brad: Sword of the Rightful King

They Said It:
Doug: (Making an astute observation upon noticing Uncle Ken was not lavishing the usual amount of attention on his nephews) Ken must really like Minoosh.  He'd rather spend time with her than with us.
Doug: Some people don't celebrate Christmas, they celebrate Honolulu.

November 20th will go down as the day that Kristi looked Bradley in the eye and realized for the very first time she was looking up.


Text and Pictures Copyright © 2003 Keith Sherwood - All Rights Reserved
Questions or comments? Write keith at virtualsherwoods dot com .