The cat’s come back to my lap to harvest what she can, and in the town they’re hanging leaves and lights, grape clusters in different colors for the wine fest, next month. The fruit flies are slowing down in the morning, in the kitchen, but the spiders are like stone fruit, they get plump this time of year. All about us, the knowledge summer’s nearing its close, back to the reality of waking up in the dark.
We’d be ending our time here in Europe if it were a normal two week holiday, but instead our time has a different arc, and we’re all needing to establish a routine, to get ready for homeschooling and have some structure.
Started yanking things out of drawers yesterday and rearranging our makeshift classroom in my mom’s house, getting on our bellies and wriggling through the muck of left behind things, drawers overstuffed with random photos and CDs, reminding me of our house back in Sammamish we just reconciled, the crawlspace of our lives, regrouting the seams to keep ourselves intact.
Started homeschooling but wisely stopped so Dawn and I could build a more coherent plan and take more time to get our acts together, start school at the normal time of year, late August. Feels like it did for me in the corporate world, planning for a two-day meeting with a bunch of executives — it’s the same way 10- and 8-year-olds behave; they need to know the plan and will call bullshit if you haven’t thought of everything in advance, aren’t aligned, or don’t know how to maintain a sense of control, without them feeling controlled.
And there’s a similarity in our plan making for how we’ll spend the next six months here that reminds me of working on a high-profile project where the stakeholders need constant reminding of what the project’s about, why it’s important, the feel-good elevator speech we tell ourselves to stay on track and positive despite the feeling no one knows where we’re going, what we’re doing or why, how much any of it will cost, or what we’re not thinking about that could push us over the edge — the mundane but necessary steps required to think through risk, what we’ll do about the unexpected.
Returning from the Alps, Eberhard had us going on the thought of how we could work around the 90 day American tourist visa — how we could get our passports stamped in the UK and then worm our way back through France because they don’t check at the border crossings anymore and he’s right, they don’t — and for a good 24 hours we were back to pursuing how we could stay in Germany a full nine months, but had to remind ourselves that would legally preclude Dawn from working, and considered what it would mean to cut our trip short and return to the States in February — and after all that, a good night’s sleep, we decided this morning to stick with the original plan, which will have us leaving Germany at the end of October for a 15-hour ferry crossing from Amsterdam to Newcastle on the Tyne, then a drive up to Edinburgh around Halloween, and the start of a 90 day tour around the four countries in the UK, about three or four weeks in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England.
Calculated the driving times, right around three hours from here to Luxembourg for a night, then just another three hours or so onto Amsterdam, a day and a half riding bicycles, then boarding our ferry, bunk beds and a private cabin — a nice, long journey across the North Sea, end of October (could be awful, could be great). Snow tires for the car, possibly a rental instead of my mom’s Mazda. Where to spend Christmas — Ireland, Wales? A place close enough to an airport so my mom can fly up, maybe near Cork.
Agreed upon a 9-9 daily routine, where the kids are in bed by 9 PM and up by 9 in the morning, and we’ve taken their laptops and hidden them for a few days. Reconnected with an English friend I haven’t talked to in 14 years who’s flying down for a long weekend soon with his son, “young Nathan.”