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Family in Julian for dinner on Halloween Eve.


House building in Tijuana, Mexico.


Doug works to cut off his angle before the attacker can shoot.


Brad hits the ground on defense to grab a loose ball.


Keith making use of wireless router and working from home on the deck..


Dancer in front of barricaded gate.


Brad before and after braces.


Doug and Keith on top of Cowles Mountain with downtown San Diego somewhere in the back.


"Woof! Woof! Woof!" must mean "Encore!" or "Bravo!" because that's all Dancer does when Doug practices trombone around her.


Doug the old man with his trophy wife, Rilena.


Keith and Kristi ARE Jerry Garcia and Grace Slick for a costume Halloween party.

October, 2005
Autumn has arrived.  There are those here that claim San Diego, blessed with a Mediterranean climate, doesn’t have four seasons.  Those people are either uninformed or unobservant. They are most certainly from Someplace Else, and will happily tell you in one breath that they enjoy San Diego’s fantastic weather, while bemoaning in the next breath the lack of seasons, as if seasons are not defined by their accompanying weather.  They love the sunshine but miss the snow.  They like the tropical scenery, but wish palm fronds would turn orange and float to ground on the October breeze.
You know these San Diego-transplants: they’re the same ones who tell you how much more they enjoy living here, in their adopted home town of San Diego, than the rust belt city that they grew up in but couldn't wait to leave when they graduated high school.  But then they go to Chargers and Padres games to root for the rust belt visiting team (e.g. the Packers, the Cubs, the Steelers) or some team from older days and colder climes (e.g. the Dodgers, the Raiders).
Keith will admit to being guilty of the same crime during his youthful courtship of Kristi.  Since New Mexico’s pantheon of professional sports teams begins and ends with the triple A baseball club in Albuquerque, Keith had to satisfy himself with taking Kristi to San Diego State basketball games and cheering for the University of New Mexico Lobos when they came to town.  I digress, but the point is he grew out of his lamentable support for the visitors (although he never out grew his love of Kristi).  I say after five years in a new city, you’ve put down roots, and one of those roots is cheering for the local home team. 
Fall is in the air.  Here then are Keith’s sure-fire signs that autumn has arrived in San Diego.
  • The sand isn’t so hot that it burns your feet on the volleyball court at lunchtime.
  • Brad spends every Friday night at a high school football game somewhere.
  • Mom makes protesting boys wear sweatshirts to school. (It’s a sign of winter when they wear them without protesting.)
  • The ever-earlier encroachment of evening is accompanied by the fragrance of wood burning fireplaces.  Not that any house in San Diego actually needs to be warmed by burning of organic matter, but expatriates from colder climbs are eager to recreate the olfactory component of their more hallowed autumnal memories.  (Recycle rant from above, now.)

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The church youth group went on a Mexico house building trip on October first.  Keith went too, both to support the youth group and because it had been too long since he last participated in this kind of service.  Brad is older and stronger and did a commensurately better job this time compared to when we last went in November 2003.  It’s good to have a kid who is fired up and enjoys doing this kind of service when service starts to count next year towards college applications.
Beef fondue was a family favorite growing up in the Sherwood household.  As early as he can remember Keith requested it for his birthday dinner meal.  And he still does today, although now we use chicken broth instead of oil, and cook vegetables and other meat in addition to beef.  Having been exposed, the boys now really enjoy cooking their own food and dipping it in a variety of sauces, and now often request it as their birthday meal as well.  So it was only right that for Keith’s birthday dinner this year, it was a family affair at a fondue restaurant in La Jolla.  It was the boys’ first experience with both cheese fondue and chocolate fondue, and everyone enjoyed the experience thoroughly.
Since Keith started his new position in March (which was really is old position with some new responsibilities) he has been a satellite worker from his new boss and team in Plano, Texas.  Since he’s remote whether he’s at home or in the office, he’s begun working one day a week from home.  Between his work laptop, high speed cable modem and wireless router, and Virtual Private Network connection to Intuit, there is very little he can do at work that he can’t do at home, except play volleyball at lunch.
We have a very smart but naughty dog. Dancer has learned how to open the back gate if it is not fully secured.  The fence gate has a spring on it to draw it closed, but the latching hardware no long works.  Dancer has learned that if the gate isn’t latched, she can paw the gate open against the tension of the spring wide enough to insert her nose.  From there she has more than enough leverage against the spring.  She only escapes when she is left home alone in the back yard.  Neighbors have had to bring her home multiple times the last couple of months.  We’ve resorted to blocking the gate with trash cans.
The boys have settled into school rather well.  With Brad in eighth and Doug in fifth, each boy is in the top class at their respective schools, with a graduation to look forward to at the end of the school year. While Doug will keep the Sherwood name in the Halls of Mesa Verde Middle School as Brad moves on to Westview High School, this is our ninth and final year at Deer Canyon Elementary.  Every annual event there is tinged with the melancholy knowledge that it is our last.  Kristi has been consciously disconnecting for the last two years (she stopped doing the school directory last year), and is now amazed at how few people she knows.  On the other hand, people recognize her as a font of knowledge and experience, and she is often asked questions by other mothers of younger children.
After a two year reprieve, Brad started his second bout of braces this month.  It is hard to tell if he’s more upset over the initial discomfort (of eating, playing trumpet, etc.) or the prospect of wearing them into high school.  In either case, he was pretty baleful for a week, but it was a non-issue by the end of the month.
Keith used to climb mountains in his youth.  He’s climbed 20 of Colorado’s 54 peaks over 14,000 feet, called “fourteeners.”  He’s climbed two in a day, three in two days, and once even three in a single day.  But nothing compared to what he accomplished one weekend this month: two fifteeners in two days.  One Saturday he rode his bike up Black Mountain, the 1551 foot tall mountain behind our house, then the next day he and Doug hiked up 1591 ft. Cowles Mountain.
Kristi completed her work on the Mesa Verde Middle School directory, distributing 1000 copies this month. The directory is really three separate jobs over three months: create the information form, get it approved and distributed, then collected; collate the information and layout in a pleasing format; then select vendor, review galleys and oversee print run, and distribute.  Kristi's organizational skills, knowledge of the workings of the school administration, and most of all her work experience as a marketing publications manager all make her a uniquely qualified volunteer for the job.
Kristi and Keith are both re-engaging at Church.  The fall Wednesday night program started this month, and Kristi is again taken it upon herself to provide the dinner for 30-40 people.  Every Wednesday it’s off to Costco and Vons to purchase the evenings’ food, then whatever pre-preparations that can be done ahead of time in her own kitchen. And Keith agreed when asked to serve on the bylaws committee.
October ends, of course, with Halloween.  Both boys have transitioned to the point where it's not about candy, but about going out with your friends.  The main difference is that in elementary school it is still cool to dress up, sometimes elaborately, whereas in middle school it is obviously uncool to put any thought or preparation into a costume.  This theory is easily confirmed by noting the "costumes" the older kids appear in.  This year Brad succumbed to this line of thought and just put on the wig and beard from last year and nothing more.  Doug reprised his old man costume from two years ago because it is a good one, and didn't get its due during the muted Halloween immediately after the fire.
The bigger change this Halloween, however, was that Keith and Kristi abandoned 15 years of Halloween abstinence and dressed up to go to a party.  They took great strides outside their comfort zone.  And while Halloween hasn't escaped their dog house of "least favorite holiday," they did have fun.

They read it

Brad: The Head Game, Kahn (adult baseball book on the history of pitching)
Doug: Keys to the Kingdom series (Nix): Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday.


They said it

Doug, explaining succinctly what parents have to learn about his teacher, Mr. Bueker:  “We had a substitute for Mr. Bueker today.  She taught a lot more, but we learned a lot less.”

Kristi and Keith, discussing next summer’s vacation possibilities. Keith “There are some places there I bet the boys would really enjoy seeing.”  Kristi, downcast face, mock tears. Keith, immediately understanding, “I know, honey, only a few more summers left of family vacations before the boys are grown up.” Kristi, smiling, “Yeah, and then we can go where we want!”

Kristi: "Why the sigh?"
Keith: "That wasn't a sigh, it was a yawn.  Well, really it was a sigh-yawn.  (Pause) Was it good?  Do I deserve the Sigh-Yawn Award?"

Doug, noticing the two rotisserie chickens set out for dinner when usually one will suffice: "Two chickens, mom?" Kristi: "Yes, I was in a fowl mood." (To which Douglas responded, "Was it something we did?")

Keith is asking Doug a question from a book about historical baseball fields (Which is the only park to host three different professional teams?), when Brad pipes in: “I read that book.” Keith: “How can you say you’ve read the book when you can’t even answer a question from the first sentence in the first chapter?”  Brad, “Well, I read the good parts.”  Keith: “By good parts, I suppose you mean the captions under the pictures?”  Brad, “Well, yeah.”


You could have clicked it

Links above you may have missed:

Tijuana House Building
Keith and Brad helping to build a house in Mexico in November, 2003.

All of this month's pictures

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Text and pictures copyright 2005 by Keith Sherwood.  All rights, writes, and rites reserved.