Spring fever

February 10, 2000

With what appears to be the early onset of spring in the Bay Area, our thoughts recently have turned from walking in winter wonderlands to pulling weeds and preparing the garden for planting. Nevertheless, we did manage time for some winter fun Jan. 17 when we took advantage of a mutual day off to trek up to the snow-covered slopes of the Sierras and enjoy what has become an annual visit to Truckee.

We couldn't have timed our trip more perfectly, as it coincided with the first serious snowfall of the year and we were blessed with substantial amounts of the white stuff. We stopped at Donner Summit rest area and played in the powder that was piled about three feet high along the edge of the parking lot. Benji has perfected his snow-tossing moves and used them liberally to douse Dad and Mom. Despite our best preparations for last-year's snow trip that didn't happen, we still found ourselves underdressed for the winter chill and the wet snow that quickly turned our gloves, hats and jackets into a cold, waterlogged mess. We had lunch in Truckee and then headed home, but not before stopping in at Sweets candy shop for what may be the best fudge east of Hayward. (Glenn's dad still wins that title!)

Glenn's brother Sean -- the junior Bro of Gehlke Bros. Football fame -- came to visit Jan. 11 and collected his long sought-after perpetual trophy. Not only did Sean best his brother at gridiron predictions, but he also showed that he is not too rusty at bowling; Sean emerged the victor in 20 frames of bowling action that saw Benji hoist a bowling ball for the first time and Roni don a pair of bowling shoes for the first time in many years. Glenn, coming off a 106-point high game, determined that a rematch might be in order after a few months of pickup games.

We were both excited and a bit shocked to learn that Glenn's sister Jennifer and her husband Tom are expecting twins sometime around early October. That was one of the possibilities of their fertility procedure that we mentioned in last month's missive. Jennifer had her pregnancy test Jan. 31 that confirmed two embryos. The happy (and nervous) parents-to-be were quick to share their first baby pictures with family through the miracle of the Internet. We wish you two all the luck in the world and offer reassurance that the baby goods are still on ice (well, it hasn't been too cold this winter, so perhaps just lightly chilled...) in our garage.

Speaking of putting things on ice, we have launched a massive offensive against our garden's public enemy number one with Operation Gopher Fence. In what promises to be either the greatest triumph or debacle of the century -- whichever century you choose -- we have begun the arduous process of installing a run of chicken wire fencing two feet deep around the entire perimeter of the back yard. Glenn began digging trenches Feb. 6 and as of this writing has progressed from the northeast fence at the corner of the garden to almost the southeast corner of the property, a run of approximately 50 feet. The project is complicated by the presence of trees, shrubs, sprinkler lines and other obstacles that we don't want to damage too severely while digging. Early casualties have included a few asparagus plants and spring bulbs, which had to be transplanted, as well as about half a patch of red apple succulents.

While we tackle the gopher fence, we are also contemplating the reconstruction of our retaining wall. Following months of debate about how to do this, we have nearly settled on the type of retaining block that will be used, and are in the process of determining cost and how we will transport the materials to our job site. Glenn removed about 30 feet of the existing wood wall last October, and winter rains and Benji's mountain-climbing expeditions have since hastened the process of soil erosion and slope failure, necessitating a quick resolution to this time-worn tale.

Our interest in trains has taken a back seat to other activities in recent months, particularly the Pokémon craze that has transformed our once avid foamer son into an aspiring Pokémon master. But Glenn continues to actively pursue his railroading interests through his garden railway, and this month placed orders for another 100 feet of track that will extend his pike from the kitchen/garage area back to the retaining wall at the southwest corner of the yard. This will be another big project that takes its place in line behind the gopher fence and retaining wall. The honey-do list is rapidly filling up for spring!

Benji returned to school Jan. 31 following nearly six weeks of winter break. This year-round school thing takes some getting used to, but he seems to be handling it well. He is currently taking part in a schoolwide reading program that sets a goal of a certain number of minutes each child must read during a three-week period. As a kindergartner, Ben is supposed to read for 200 minutes, or double that to be a "super reader." In three days he already has 100 minutes. At this rate, we'll all be worn out by the end of February.

Keep your honey-do lists under control this spring and have a good month.

Glenn, Roni and Benji.

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