Photo of the month

Blazing the trail as fast as his little legs can carry him, Ben takes the road less traveled during a Feb. 8 hike at Los Vaqueros Reservoir with his dad and Uncle Sean. This drainage ditch provided a perfect workout for our bundle of energy, and more banking than some NASCAR tracks. Photo by Glenn.

February 2004

Out with the old...

...and in with the new. It's the changing of the dishwashers in the Gehlke kitchen. Look, you can almost see the wax buildup on the floor in the reflection. Photos by Glenn.

Just add water. The big moment arrives as Roni prepares to start the first load in the new machine. Photo by Glenn.

Where there are rainbows there is also rain. We've had a lot of the latter lately. But occasionally Ma Nature throws us a bone. We caught this 'bow early the morning of Jan. 31 while stuck in commute traffic on Highway 4 in Antioch. Photo by Glenn.

There is a definite nature theme to this month's photo offerings. Here the bare upper branches of some willow trees along the Marsh Creek Trail stand out against a cerulean winter sky. Photo by Glenn.

The Delta still wears its coat of winter brown in February, but it is a beautiful coat nonetheless. Photo by Glenn.

The Gehlke Bros. Football trophy presentation ceremony Feb. 8 was sparsely attended, but plenty full of pomp and circumstance. Here Glenn celebrates his victory while Ben and Sean pay homage. Photo by Roni.

The 2003 football picks champ poses with his trophy. Think he's just a little happy to have it back? Photo by Glenn.

Ben and Sean check out the trailhead during our hike at Los Vaqueros Reservoir. Photo by Glenn.

Ben takes a break from the walk while Sean reads about the history of the reservoir. Photo by Glenn.

The Los Vaqueros hills are starting to green up, thanks to a wet winter. The oak trees are still a ways from leafing. Photo by Glenn.

Sisyphus ain't got nothing on Mighty Ben The Boulder Thrower. Once this kid gets started plunking rocks he's a tireless hurler. This was one of the medium-sized rocks that found its way into the reservoir. Photo by Glenn.

It was just a little breezy at the reservoir — and a little chilly, too. Self portrait by Glenn.

We didn't count on a lot of rock climbing with this hike, but Ben couldn't resist tackling this pile of rubble. Sean waits for the photog to catch up. Photo by Glenn.

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Mixing up a topical salad

February 15, 2004

In sharp contrast with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the first months of a new year always seem tame. Almost a practice session for the "real year" that lies ahead. The weather is generally poor so we take few trips, and work routines leave us only with time on Sundays for other activities. There are many opportunities to contemplate the world.

The world outside the window of the writing sanctuary is gray and overcast this afternoon as we try to stir up a literary meal out of a salad-like collection of ingredients. Together they will give you the flavor of the past month; individually they look fairly unappetizing.

We left you last month with news that our new dishwasher was on the way. It did in fact arrive Jan. 20, and since then the dishes have been cleaner. It is more hi-tech than its predecessor, and Roni has yet to figure out uses for the half-dozen buttons on its sleek black control panel. Settings seem to matter less when the dishes actually come out clean, so she leaves it on the same setting it had when it was installed. Glenn says it isn't a fair test of the washer's capabilities when it has to clean old dishes and stains that may never come out. But we've stopped short of purchasing new plates and silverware... for now.

You know it is a slow month when we tell you that the highlight was doing our first load of dishes in the new Frigidaire. It only seems to grow more routine from there. Much of January and early February was spent fighting off sickness. First, Glenn came down with The Cold that seemed to be making its rounds during the holidays. He just came late to the game. A few days later it was Ben's turn. Then, just as she was thinking it might bypass her, Roni was stricken. She suffered the worst of the three of us, to the point where a doctor prescribed a couple days of bed rest for fear she might catch pneumonia. She didn't, thankfully, but for nearly four weeks we were engaged in a symphony of coughing and sniffling.

Glenn's preferred customer status at the dentist these past few months continued Feb. 6 with the yanking of his one remaining wisdom tooth, an hourlong adventure that kept him out of action and on vicodin for a couple of days. He says he is glad to be done with it, but that such procedures in the future would be a bad thing as there are no longer any superfluous teeth left to remove.

Glenn felt well enough a couple of days later for a Sunday gettogether with his brother Sean for the long-anticipated exhange of the brothers' football picks trophy that Glenn won in late December. The award ceremony out of the way, the brothers took Ben to Los Vaqueros Reservoir near Brentwood for a hike up to the dam and along the western shore, where Ben attempted to raise the water level several feet while plunking boulders into the drink. The weather was sunny but cool. The jackets came off in time for a friendly game of catch with the Nerf football that Ben brought along.

Roni has been devouring books like a box of Valentine's chocolates. After recovering from her cold symptoms, she paid a visit to the Antioch library's book sale and came home with a couple flats of paperback romances, including a few titles by favorite authors she had been seeking for some time. At the rate of about one per day she should have them all read by late March or early April. She is eagerly working on the draft of her novel and hopes the romances will inspire her in the creative process.

Roni's other big activity recently involved attending the Oakley Citizen of the Year dinner on Valentine's Day. As president of the chamber of commerce and a past citizen honoree herself, Roni's presence at the event has been standard fare for the past decade. This year's theme was "Casablanca" and featured a showing of the Humphrey Bogart classic. Glenn opted out of this year's dinner to watch after Ben and save on expenses. We're planning on a belated Valentine's Day night on the town together soon, when the crowds are gone and you can find roses again for less than $50 a dozen.

February is always a big month for sporting events, with the Super Bowl taking place Feb. 1 and the Daytona 500 two weeks later. Daytona is the bigger of the two in our home, as Glenn is a huge NASCAR fan and it is the first race of the new season. Even Roni, who generally shies away from sports, watched a bit of both spectacles. Glenn passed on a little more than half of the Super Bowl, using the time for a rare shopping excursion.

Oakley got a bit of TV coverage this month when a couple of local high school kids involved in a drag race on Main Street during rush hour lost control at 100 mph and hit another car head-on at the intersection behind our house. One of the kids was killed, so now there is a fairly large memorial shrine at the scene. We mention this only because the accident occurred about 10 minutes after Glenn left for work in a spot where he might have been a few minutes earlier. Stuff like that always makes you think how different your life could be in the blink of an eye. (Note to speed-hungry teens: There's a great little quarter-mile racetrack in Antioch that needs you; the rest of us just want to live to see our kids.)

Well, that's enough of that. The gloomy skies outside are darkening early, so about the only light left in the sanctuary is the glow cast on the keyboard from the computer monitor, and we are too lazy to get up to flip the light switch. We are hoping the weather clears soon because it's time to take our annual walk over to the DuPont property to check out the almond trees in bloom. Our ornamental plum is just starting to bud, as well. Signs that another spring is almost here. The best time of the year.

Glenn, Roni and Ben

This page was last updated on Monday, March 22, 2004 at 23:42 hrs.

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