Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fall, Part Three

Fall has definitely descended upon Northern Virginia. I spent three mornings last week raking leaves and placing them in yard waste bags only to find out that our city offers a free leaf removal service. Each bag requires a $1 yellow sticker in order to be picked up the garbage man, but if you rake all your leaves to the curb a giant vacuum cleaner hose on the back of a flat-bed truck will come by and suck up all the leaves like a mechanical anteater.

On Saturday afternoon, Pete's team had another soccer game. He scored the week before last on a hail-Mary, slow-roller from midfield, his first goal of the season (and his life!). The park where Pete plays has three fields, and the wind had blown all the leaves from two of the fields onto the third, the field Pete's team would take. Before the game, all the players were throwing leaves at each other. No one was interested in soccer, and the coach looked on helplessly. When they finally did kick-off, every play was made through the shuffle of several inches of dry leaves.

Concurrently, on the other side of town, Sam was playing in a hotly-contested game against the best team in the league. It was a one goal game for most of the second half, but the outcome would leave many of Sam's teammates in tears by the final whistle. Elise drove Sam to his game in Arlington while I rode Pete and Clem in the bike trailer to his game. When Mom joined us and offered everyone rides home, Clementine stuck by her dad. She thought we could beat them home because we beat them out of the parking lot and she cheered for me the whole way home down the bike trail, "Go, Daddy, go!"

Pokemon has overtaken our home. Not the Pokemon Go! fad that has people wandering around aimlessly through parking lots and open fields with their cellphones pointed out in front of them, looking even more zombie-like than most people normally do staring at their cellphones, but the actual Pokemon card game. The boys especially have become possessed with trading cards. Elise asks me if this is normal, but I have nothing to equate it to. I can only imagine that boys growing up in the 1940s and '50s similarly obsessed over baseball cards.

Peter last night, standing naked in the hallway before he gets into the shower: "Dad, can I tell you something: Rhyachu is the evolover of Pikachu."


Mostly, they play quietly, but like any heated negotiation, tempers flare, and a mediator is occasionally needed.

For five minutes on Saturday afternoon, everyone was reading quietly when the doorbell rang. It was our across-the-street neighbor. I was introduced to him once when we first looked at the house we're renting now. He's balding, but what is left of his frizzy hair stands off his scalp like Gabe Kotter or someone who has stuck their finger in an electrical outlet. He always wears a white wife-beater when he is outside mowing the grass or walking back and forth between the house he is moving out of and the house he is moving into two doors down. According to Elise--who calls him "Babyface" because of his unnaturally milky, baby-like skin--he is going through a divorce after 26 years of marriage, but only moving two houses away. He is extremely nice, and whenever I run into him going to or coming home from work he asks me questions about my job; I'm sure he thinks I'm a spy.

He is having to clean out the basement of his ex-wife's house. When the doorbell rang, he wanted me to come look at an air hockey table he needed to get rid of. Much to Elise's chagrin, I ended up bringing the air hockey table home, having to take the legs of with an allen wrench in order to get it down to the basement. For the rest pf Saturday afternoon, Elise tried to relax with a book while the constant smack of an air hockey puck rattled downstairs.

On Sunday afternoon, we accompanied Elise to her photo shoot in the National Arboretum. The kids and I had never been, but I'm glad we went. Sam and Peter wrestled in the shadows of the Corinthian columns from the Capitol while Clementine explored the rim of the reflecting pool. It was a beautiful October afternoon, perfectly-blue sky, long shadows, and the inaudible sounds of a Redskins game you just knew in your bones was on half the television sets in town though you couldn't see it or hear it and wouldn't know the final score until tomorrow morning.

It has been tense in the house since we started bidding on our next assignment. The process hasn't gone as well as we had hoped, and after six weeks, we feel we are no closer to knowing where we will go next than when we started.

I told Elise that the place we end up will be somewhere we hadn't thought of or considered when we started, half-joking. It's no longer a joke. We've been up and we've been down, but in the final week, the world as our oyster is more true now than at any other time in the process. Before my interview yesterday, I received a text message from Elise: "Ok. Good luck, hew. We can do it, no matter what."

She's right, you know.

Stayed tuned....

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall, Part Two

This is our first fall in three years and may be our last for three more as we are currently bidding on our next assignment which may take us back overseas.

Fall is my favorite season so I am drinking in every minute of it, because it may be the only fall I get for six years.

I make mental lists of all the things I want to make sure we do while we are in the States. Running, camping, hiking, rock-climbing, and drinking good beer (and eating good Mexican food and burgers). That about says it all.

We took advantage of a rare weekend of no soccer games for a family hike to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Even Clementine made the 3.3 miles (and elevation gain equivalent to 13 flights of stairs...according to Elise's iPhone) like an old pro. 

Elise and I rewarded ourselves with a wine tasting at the Sugarloaf Winery nearby before driving back in to town, blissfully sipping on pinot gris as the kids ate oyster crackers politely supplied by the bartender and rolled in the grass. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hand Puppets

And whole body puppets!

Hoodie Buddies

It's getting cooler out!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016