Monday, November 10, 2008


We've had a very nice stretch of Aboriginal American Summer (P.C. for Indian Summer) here in western Pennsylvania. But the last few days have started to feel more like November is supposed to. This morning we woke up to our first snow. Actually it was more like a light dusting; enough to frost the roofs of houses and whiten the mulched planting beds.

But when the boys looked out the window, they acted like it was the Great Blizzard of November 10th. They jumped up and down yelling, "Snow, Snow Snoooooooooowwww!!!", until their throats were raw. I could see the wheels turning in Clay's head; "Can we go sledding? Can we build a snow man? Where is my scarf and gloves?" Drew had a look like he was thinking, "Does that stuff taste like ice cream? I can't wait to try it! Where are my crayons? I want to color on daddy's iPhone; again."

Nancy even looked at me said, "Do you think there might be a school delay?" Even after being here for most of last winter, old Virginia habits are hard to break. In the Old Dominion, a "storm" like this would elicit at least a 2 hour delay, if not a day off. In Virginia the threat of snow is enough to cancel school.

As I write this approaching 10 AM, the snow is starting to melt away. Actually it's more like it is evaporating. By the time we pick up Clay from Kindergarden, it will most likely be gone. No sledding; no snowmen; no snowball fights with the neighbor. Not today, but soon.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A New Hope

I'll warn you this post will be kind of geeky, so if you don't know where Tatooine is or the name of the bounty hunter who was shot by Han Solo, (Greedo), or the difference between Bantha and a Dewback you may want to stop reading now. This morning Clay woke up sick. It screwed up our plans for our usual "Election Day Breakfast" which has become a tradition for us. Alas, it was not to be. One of the things I promised him was that we'd watch "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" or as I like to call it, "Star Wars".

Clay has been on a huge Star Wars kick ever since we rented Episode 1 or as Clay calls it, "The Jar-Jar Binks Movie." Bleeeaaack! He also got "Lego Star Wars" for the Wii and he and his friend beat the crap out of each other in the back yard with their Lightsabers. That was the extent of his knowledge of Star Wars. So I thought it's time to introduce him to what Star Wars was before George Lucas lost his marbles. (See this post). I put in the DVD, read him the opening credits and settled in for the movie. Immediately the questions started, "Is that Earth?"; "Who's that guy?"; "Why did Darth Vader throw that guy against the wall?"; "Who's that girl?" "How does C3PO understand what R2D2 is saying?"; "How many eyes does that guy have?" "Hey, look it's like the place in Lego Star Wars!"

I never realized how boring the first 80 minutes of the movie might be to a 5 year old. Lots of talking, not much shooting, no Jar-Jar Binks. But he really started to get into it during the lightsaber battle between Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi and was shocked when Ben was killed. "Is he dead? Is he coming back?!?" I told him he'd have to wait until the next movie. But what really got him was the climactic Battle of Yavin. He stood up and was glued to the TV for the 15 minutes of the battle. He was mesmerized! That's when I started getting choked up watching him watch the movie I saw over 31 years ago as a kid; getting drawn into the action as I did; wishing he had his own X-Wing fighter as I did. After it was over he said, "That was cool! When can we watch the next movie?!"

Hah! Take that Jar-Jar Binks!


Last Friday was Halloween. I've never been a big fan of Halloween and I wasn't looking forward to it. The first costume I remember wearing was "Casper the Friendly Ghost" when I was 5 or 6. Trick-or-treating in my hometown was a little different. There was about a one block area I was allowed to roam around in near my parents' bar. This included about 15 houses, a grocery store, 2 bars, a pizza shop and a bakery. A raspberry filled jelly donut was my favorite treat. How many kids get that these days?

When I was older, like 10 or 11, I was given the "job" of passing out candy at my parents' bar. It was loads of fun {insert sarcasm here}. I sat there with a box of Clark bars or Milkshake bars and waited for the kids to come in (back in the day kids did go to neighborhood bars to trick-or-treat; at least in Pittsburgh). Occasionally, I'd get the scary costumed unknown kid who'd come up to me and rather than shout a playful, "Trick-or-Treat!", I'd hear in a low, menacing tone, "You better give me 2 candy bars or I'm going to kill you tomorrow!" Happy Halloween! {insert sarcasm here} As my wife says, "Well, at least you're not bitter at all."

In college, I went to some interesting Halloween parties. The Sigma Nu parties were the best. Unfortunately one included an image permanently burned into my brain. I looked on the couch of the house I was in and there was Gilligan making out with a nun with a scowling clown sitting next to them, staring at them. At that point, I gave up on Halloween.

When the kids came along, I got back in the spirit of Halloween a little. But this year in our new house, I think I had the best Halloween since I was Casper. The kids were both really excited. I think Drew had more fun giving out candy than getting it. I had a great time taking the kids out hanging out with the other parents and even having our own "goody bag" with a 6-pack of Labatt's Blue in it. For the first time in years I can honestly say, I can't wait for next Halloween!