This and That, Halloween Edition

Well, it’s Halloween night once again.  The ghosts and goblins are out and about, mixing in with the little kids going door to door asking for candy.  It’s also the end of the month, well into autumn, and the leaves are littering the lawn daring me to rake them up, knowing full well that if I do, there’ll just be more on the ground tomorrow.  So far, I’ve resisted the dare.

It’s been a busy month here in the Charest household, Virginia edition.  As already reported, Winnie did in fact gain her American citizenship on Wednesday the 13th.  Her interview was the Wednesday prior, the sixth,  After seven years effort, and months more of waiting from when Winnie filed for her Citizenship, the poster child for screwed up government agency formerly known as the INS (now USCIS) managed to screw us over one last time.

Winnie had to use her vacation time by the 16th of this month or else lose it.  We had originally planed on taking a week’s vacation the week of October 4.  We didn’t have big plans, just take a drive up and visit with my Mom, head over to Rhode Island and visit with family there, and I really wanted to take Winnie up through northern New England to see some fall colors.  We put in our vacation dates to our respective bosses, and of course the day after Winnie’s vacation was approved we received the USCIS letter notifying her of her 8 October appointment.

So we pushed our vacation plans back one week, which was really Winnie’s last chance.  From that point on Winnie was really hitting the books, determined to pass her interview on her first try.  Meanwhile, I took my boat out Saturday October 2 for the last time of this season.

Winnie came out with me and it turned out to be a nice day. The weather was near perfect, the water calm, and the boat ran great.  We cruised down the river for a couple of hours, then pulled into General Smallwood State Park across the river in Maryland for a picnic lunch.  After we ate, we took a short hike around the river and through the woods.  We cruised a bit more afterwords then headed back to Leesylvania State Park and home.  A couple of days later I brought the boat dealer shop for winterization.  After years of dealing with “independent” boat mechanics who typically took six weeks or more I was pleasantly surprised when the boat was finished in two days.  So ends my first year of boating.

Winnie did pass her interview, but not after the USCIS got one last dig in on her.  Once the USCIS officer signed her off, she gave Winne an Oath Ceremony date of the following Wednesday, which would be right in the middle of our changed vacation plans.  We had thought, based on what Winnie had learned in her citizenship classes, that she would be sworn in the same day as her interview.  So once again, our vacation plans were disrupted and this time we could not push back any later in the year.

After a brief discussion that Wednesday afternoon, we decided to leave the next day.  I called my boss and got approval, and Winnie was already off the rest of the week.  I called Mom and explained what was going on.  I also proposed to go visit my Aunt in Lyndenhurst, Long Island, New York, whom Winnie had not yet met.  Winnie also wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, so in just a couple of hours our vacation plans came together.

Early next morning I started to load up Winnie’s Versa and discovered it had a flat tire.  So much for best laid plans.  After getting the car into a tire shop we were on the road by noon.  We made it to my aunt’s house in Lyndenhurst by about 6:00PM.  We had a nice evening together and left about 10:00AM the next morning, headed over to Battery Park in Manhattan.

Winnie was impressed with the driving through Manhattan.  I didn’t think it was so bad, after several years of commuting through northern Virginia.  We made it down to southern Manhattan and found a parking garage.  We spent the rest of the day first on Liberty Island, then on Ellis Island, then back to our car and headed up to Mom’s house.

We arrived late that evening and spent the next couple of days visiting.  We also called my cousin Richard in Blackstone, Massachusetts, about visiting on the Sunday.  He was agreeable, even though he commented he’d have a house full of people.  With a 6000 square foot home, he’s needing a lot of people to really fill it up.

The next day Mom, Winnie, and me drove over to New England to visit family.  We arrived about 10:00 and surprised my Aunt Terry, who has an apartment with her son Richard.  I was also surprised as my cousin Pauline from Northern California was visiting also, along with about three other ladies and at least five young children, all guests of Richard and in some way related.

We had a great two day visit.  The afternoon when we arrived Pauline took us out on a combat tour of Blackstone and Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  It was wonderful for me, and a great afternoon for Winnie and Mom.  The next morning Pauline and I went to pick up Uncle George and brought him back to Richard’s house for a pizza luncheon.  Later that afternoon we headed back to Mom’s house.  The next day, Tuesday, we headed back to Virginia with Mom.

Wednesday was Winnie’s Citizenship Oath Ceremony and I’ve already posted about Winnie’s big day.  I went back to work Thursday.  Mom stayed with us until Friday morning and then caught a bus back to New York and home.  The following Monday I headed out to the Beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast for a week of business travel with two colleagues.  During the week I had the chance to introduce my colleagues to some fine dining including Huck’s Cove, The Shed BBQ, the Waffle House, and a few other local fine dining spots.  One colleague has a thing for Wattaburgers, so we went there also.  I also had the opportunity to have dinner with my good friends John and Dorothy who still live there.  Overall, it was a bittersweet visit.  I still miss my life on the Coast, but the Coast I knew is long gone. A subject for another post.

I returned home Friday afternoon, in time to help Winnie with another home improvement project.  Our first floor bedroom, used for long term guests, needed serious renovation as a result of the outgoing guest who had just left a couple of weeks prior.  After taking out the furniture and trying to clean the carpet, we decided that cleaning just wasn’t going to work.  After a couple of days discussion we decided to replace the carpeting with wood flooring.   Of course, we also had to repaint the room along with removing the old carpet and baseboard molding.  By now it was getting into week of the 18th, and home improvement always takes up all available free time.  And then some.

Over the next several days we repainted the room, removed the carpeting and baseboard molding, laid down wood flooring, and put everything back together again.  As of today the room just needs a bit of touch-up painting and moving the furniture back in from where it’s been sitting in the living room for the past week.  Along with various tools and floor-building materials.

So there it is.  A month of traveling, visiting family, USCIS stuff, and home improvement while ignoring the blanket of leaves calling out for attention.  Followed by a night of ghosts and goblins and little kids walking up to our door asking for candy.  Just another month in the Charest household.

Wishing a Happy Halloween to all our many readers (many => 3).  Enjoy your Halloween candy and make an appointment with your dentist to beat the rush.  Just a thought.

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