Photo of the month

Forgive Roni if she's in a crabby mood today. She just couldn't control herself when she heard that crab was plentiful and cheap at our neighborhood grocery store, and just in time for Christmas. We celebrated the biggest holiday of the year with a Cajun feast that included crab cioppino. Not traditional, but very tasty. Photo by Glenn.

January 2005

It's Christmas Eve and time for the annual baking of the Christmas bread. Here our tasty twins are ready for their visit to the oven. Photo by Glenn.

Fresh from the oven, the breads have that golden brown hue one might mistake for done. (We did.) Photo by Glenn.

Santa's been by. Our pile of presents awaits the big rip-and-tear party in the morning. But it's late now, so time for the elves to head off to bed. Photo by Glenn.

Christmas morning begins with Ben unstuffing the stocking stuffers. Magazines, toy cars, trading cards... and it all fit in that tiny sock. Photo by Glenn.

Ahhhh, the piece of resistance. Sure looks pretty, even if it was a tad doughy inside. Not our most successful baking effort, but every year's another chance to get it right. Photo by Glenn.

Christmas morning included a visit from Roni's sister Jacki and brother-in-law Kevin. Here they are opening our gifts to them. Photo by Roni.

You can still see the fog as we pose for a group portrait. Kevin, Jacki, our nephew Bobby, Roni and Ben offer a holiday smile. (Ben is eager to open the rest of his presents.) Photo by Glenn.

Glenn works the wrapping paper on one of his gifts. Photo by Roni.

Think Ben's just a little excited about getting the "Garfield The Movie" DVD? He must have watched this 10 times in the first days after Christmas. Photo by Roni.

Glenn gets quite a laugh out of his gag gift from Roni — a Mrs. Wonderful doll that utters seven cynical phrases about spousal stereotypes. Photo by Roni.

Roni shares one of our gifts — a 12 Days of Christmas food package from Harry & David that was sent by Glenn's grandparents Henry. Photo by Glenn.

The presents are unwrapped, so now there is time to play with our new toys. Ben curls up in our favorite chair to play "Kimpossible" on his Gameboy Advance. Photo by Glenn.

Ben tries to catapult skateboarding characters up a ramp and through a gate at the other end. It looks easy, but as with most toys of this type, it isn't. Photo by Glenn.

Roni checks out the instructions for her new cell phone moments after receiving it in the mail Jan. 6. This one takes pictures and plays games and can surf the Web and will even clean the bathroom and prepare your dinner for you. OK, so we exaggerate a bit, but it is far more advanced than its predecessor, whose battery croaked after three years. Photo by Glenn.

Glenn helped celebrate the 40th birthday of his longtime friend, Glen Campi, during a small surprise party at Glen's home Jan. 9. The guest of honor appears to be enjoying the festivities. Photo by Glenn.

We always enjoy hearing from our visitors. We welcome your comments.

New year, new job

January 17, 2005

A raft of management changes at the newspaper that began in early December has opened up the door of opportunity to Glenn, who for the first time in nearly eight years will be swapping duties and schedules when he steps into his new role of night city editor later this month. The unexpected move marks the first time in more than a decade that Glenn will be directing reporters in news coverage, a change he looks forward to despite uncertainty over how long it will last.

The position came open when the current night city editor was appointed to another position within the company. Glenn was among three people from the news copy desk invited to apply for the vacancy, and was notified Jan. 11 he was hired for the job. He spent the following three nights training, and will step into the position on a full-time temporary basis Jan. 24. The decision to make the assignment temporary was mainly his; Glenn will be covering the night city desk four to six weeks, during which time he'll have the chance to make the move permanent if he finds it to his liking and his bosses like the job he's doing.

Referred to in journalistic lingo as the "night ACE" (assistant city editor), the job can be likened to a cleanup hitter on a baseball team — or editorial janitor, but that doesn't sound quite as glamorous. After all the day's local news stories have been budgeted to the paper by the day crew, it is the night ACE's job to make sure everything is accounted for by deadline, and to handle any late-breaking stories picked up by the cops reporter. It's a lot of telephone tag, a little browbeating, and occasional bouts of boredom. But it is considered a step up. The schedule is Monday through Friday from about 3 to 11:30 p.m., with weekends off for sanity recovery.

Glenn's new schedule will take some getting used to for the rest of the family, who had grown familiar with his home presence on Sundays and Mondays, as well as his chaotic and unpredictable hours the rest of the week. Ben should enjoy having Dad home a full day on Saturdays. Roni is already considering new additions to her honey-do list.

The changes with Glenn's job are merely the biggest news to come our way during the first two weeks of 2005, which is showing signs of being an eventful year. Sometimes you just get a feeling when you're about to ride a karmic wave.

Our wave could be no more karmic, however, than the one that flattened a good chunk of Southeast Asia last month, taking the lives of 160,000 people. The tsunami was the cheery news we awoke to Christmas morning as we prepared to open presents and celebrate the end to a long and hectic pre-Christmas rush. It is incredible to see what nature is capable of doing despite modern technology that was supposed to alert people to just such a catastrophe. Perhaps we can be thankful that the biggest threat to our existence here on the California Delta is the occasional big earthquake and tons of dense winter fog of the sort we've been seeing a lot of lately. The fog threat should be ending soon, however, as it tends to taper off by late January. Now we'll be left with cycles of Alaskan stormfronts and co-o-o-o-old nights with temps that have been dipping into the low 30s of late.

We actually broke down and ran the heater for the first time this season on Christmas Day — one of the little treats we endulge in for the holiday season, but sometimes starting as early as Thanksgiving. We were thankful for the warmth while we watched Ben dive into his stocking a bit past 8 a.m., while Ma in her bathrobe and Pa with his bedhead pried their eyes open with toothpicks and shivered on the living room floor. We followed that with our usual Christmas morning feast of eggs, cocoa, ham and Glenn's annual attempt at baking — the holiday bread. This year's bread won't make the hall of fame. It came out nice and golden brown on the outside, while inside it was a somewhat doughy mess. Glenn blames it on using the wrong yeast. A last-minute shortage of key ingredients (flour and yeast) prompted Roni to run out to the grocery store late Christmas Eve. Trooper that she was, she found the needed provisions but couldn't locate any slow-rising yeast. All we had to work with was the rapid-rise stuff, which we have learned through past experience doesn't work well. It performed consistently this time also. The result tasted fine, but it sure lacked the proper consistency. Wait till next year...

Roni's sister Jacki and brother-in-law Kevin came over with Ben's cousin Bobby (or Robert as he now prefers) at a bit past 9:30. They brought with them a feast of bagels and locks, a huge tub of cream cheese, a box of large bakery muffins and a big container of fresh fruit picked up from one of the local warehouse grocery stores. The food could have fed a dozen people, but there was just the six of us and our first meal hadn't yet settled. We had lots of tasty leftovers that carried us through the week between Christmas and New Year's. We exchanged gifts before they had to be on their way to visit other family.

It was 11 o'clock by the time we finally got around to opening our family gifts and you could barely hold Ben back. Santa loaded him down with books and video games, music, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokémon and Megaman trading cards, Legos, Teen Titans action figures, and a miniature skateboard ramp for magnetic characters called Dudez who are supposed to be able to perform tricks but more often than not land on their heads. Glenn was happy to receive the NASCAR 2005 video game he'd requested, while Roni scored an MP3 player she uses to fill the empty minutes of her daily commute between Oakley and Brentwood to pick up and drop off work. She has a number of her favorite country artists in the current rotation.

But without a doubt, Roni's favorite gift has to be her new Sony Ericsson cell phone, which she chose to replace her old phone that had outlived its usefulness. It has all the bells and whistles you might expect in the current generation of cells — still frame and motion video capture, e-mail and text messaging, Web capability, games, oodles of polyphonic ringtones — so much, in fact, that she still hasn't figured out how to use everything. We used the occasion of the new phone's arrival to convert one of our land lines to a cell number, so now any time someone calls the business line they'll actually be calling Roni's cell.

On Jan. 9, Glenn took part in a surprise party to help his longtime friend Glen Campi celebrate his 40th birthday. Glen's wife Danielle invited Glenn via e-mail to the Hayward celebration, which was attended by 10 people at Glen's home. The afternoon included plenty of reminiscing and renewals of old acquaintances.

On Jan. 2, Glenn had a small celebration of his own as he successfully defended his title as Gehlke Bros. Football Picks champion on the last weekend of the NFL season, edging his brother Sean by four games. He chose to mark the occasion by taking the family out to Costco in the rain for what he called a "celebratory hotdog." The hotdogs were a disappointment, and the cold he came down with as a result of waiting in line in the foul weather spoiled the mood somewhat. But Glenn says he is nonetheless happy to hang on to the winner's trophy for another year.

That wraps it up for this month. We'll be doing our best to stay warm and dry until the February issue.

Glenn, Roni and Ben

This page was last updated on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 at 01:31 hrs.

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