Weather or not

February 12, 2001

A closeup look at one of the blossoms on our almond tree. Droplets from the recent rainfall have beaded up on the delicate petals. Photo by Glenn.
We have seen the groundhog and the groundhog tells us that we're supposed to have an early spring, so what's all this wintery weather we've been having here in sunny northern California this week? We probably shouldn't complain too much, as we encountered a spurt of warm, dry weather during late January and early this month that gave us a taste of the balmy spring days we know are just around the corner. The dogwood and almond trees in our area burst into bloom a couple of weeks earlier than usual because of those warmer temps, and for the first time since it mysteriously took root in our garden three years ago, our little almond tree that we call "Ben's Tree" has more than two dozen blossoms on it. Our own little piece of nature's internal clock ticking away in our garden.

But while Ma Nature reminds us periodically of her incredible beauty, she also unleashes her destructive wrath unpredictably in the wee months. Last time, we told you about the fence fiasco that occurred when our neighbor one day replaced about 70 feet of fence between our properties without our consent and then asked us to pop for half the cost. We did some research into the cost of materials, came up with a revised amound and paid her what we felt would be an equitable sum to settle the matter. The ink on the check was barely dry when a powerful Pacific storm blew in and took out a 20-foot section of our wobbly rear fence that separates our home from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. Now there's the fence we SHOULD have been replacing. The posts have been in the ground 13 years and long ago became termite fodder. The fence boards are so brittle that tapping a nail into one is often enough to split it in two. All it took was one strong gust to rip two panels free from their supporting posts and send them sailing onto our back lawn. After ruling out the likelihood that insurance would cover the replacement cost and thoroughly broke from our recent car purchases, we opted for a quick (and ugly) repair job. Glenn dodged rain storms while doing his best to slap the decaying boards back together and tack them back into place. He and Benji sort of enjoyed the two days they had with the big "picture window" for easy train watching.

Mother Nature did a little remodeling for us in January. Luckily, no one was standing on the patio when a gust of wind took down this section of our back fence. Photo by Roni.
When it wasn't storming, it was very likely that we were headed somewhere in one of our new cars. There is something about a new set of wheels that brings out the driving bug, and so we found ourselves taking little trips to Concord, Antioch, or just around Oakley to get a better feel for our Corollas. Glenn, of course, had little choice in where he drove to; the 44-mile round-trip to and from work in Walnut Creek offered its own daily adventure, with hilly terrain, bad weather and bad drivers to contend with. The '01 Corolla so far has been up to the challenge, but we are amazed at how easy it is to put miles on the odometer. Roni's '98 Corolla has been getting most of the fun trips, highlighted by our Feb. 4 visit to the Alameda County Home and Garden Show in Pleasanton where we toured the exhibits and salivated over all the little home improvement and gardening items we won't be buying this year because we do our banking with Toyota these days. We are hoping that this will inspire us to use some of the materials we purchased last year to finish some of the many projects we didn't quite tie up last summer.

The end of January also saw the end of a long winter break for Benji. But Ben got a lot of mileage out of those six weeks as he spent time honing his Pokémon Trading Card Game skills at home and during Monday night league sessions at Toys R Us. He has discovered that winning can be a lot of fun and that defeat isn't always easy to accept, but he has also learned that there are other kids who share his interest in the game and that they all have different skill levels. The game also has opened the door to some new friendships. One day during his break when he was complaining that there was nothing to do, a neighbor boy from across the street noticed Ben getting out of the car with his face buried in his Gameboy video game. When the neighbor asked Ben what game he was playing (Pokémon Silver, naturally), Ben learned that the boy had Pokémon Gold and the rest is history. Within minutes the two Pokéfanatics had linked their Gameboys together and were trading monsters and battling against each other, with Ben offering tips to the older boy, Stephen, about how to conquer the game. For a couple of weeks all Ben could talk about was playing with Stephen. He seemed to suffer withdrawal symptoms when Stephen wasn't around. Now that school is back in session there has been less time for play, but Ben has at least seen the joys of having a friend, which is something he has needed for a long time.

Uncle Glenn spends some time with niece Shannon Ferreira during a visit to the Gehlke homestead in Oakley. Photo by Roni.
Roni, too, has been busy. While her freelance work for the newspapers quieted down a bit after a busy holiday season, she filled the slack time through her involvement with the Oakley Chamber of Commerce. Circumstances have found her suddenly more involved with the annual Almond Festival as she helps the festival committee overcome the recent loss of its chairperson and takes on some of the organizational work. And on Feb. 8, Roni co-hosted the monthly chamber mixer through her business, R&G Promotions, at a catered event that attracted about 50 people.

On Feb. 11 we enjoyed the company of Glenn's sister Jennifer and her husband Tom who came over for dinner along with 5-month-old Shannon. Much film and video footage were expended on the antics of the littlest Ferreira, who was full of smiles and the cute expressions that only babies can make so well. We had hoped to barbecue, but threatening skies drove the gathering indoors where Roni cooked up a dinner of asparagus pasta and chicken, and tried to add her finger to the blackberry cake recipe she made for dessert. The cake was delicious; the finger is still attached to the chef (thankfully!).

Until next time, we'll see what new trouble we can cook up for March.

Glenn, Roni and Benji

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