Photo of the month

Ben looks like he's ready for business as he wields a rake while working in our back yard in late March. His mission: helping Dad tear out the weed patch that was once our lawn. He is framed by our blooming lupine bush. Photo by Glenn.

April 2004

Out with the old... Roni displays the one object that remains frozen in our old refrigerator — a 5-pound block of party ice. Photo by Glenn.

In with the new... Roni has done such a thorough cleaning job that there isn't much left to stock our roomy new fridge. Photo by Glenn.

Look! A freezer compartment with a light and a built-in ice maker. Looks like the 5-pound ice block is history. Photo by Glenn.

We're at the beginning of a long process as Roni whacks the weeds in our back yard. A month after this photo was shot, this section is back to bare dirt (or sand). Photo by Glenn.

Our yard equipment is in less than stellar shape. Ben gets a helping hand from Dad during a rake repair job. Photo by Glenn.

Ben is hard at work on the lawn. The black garbage bags behind him are filled with autumn leaves and weeds. Photo by Glenn.

One of Glenn's rare forays into the kitchen resulted in preparation of this meal of Orange Salsa Pork Chops for Roni's birthday. The results were both edible and well received. Photo by Glenn.

Ben helps Mom remove the candles from her ice cream cake during Roni's birthday. Photo by Glenn.

Roni reads her birthday card and opens one of her presents. Photo by Glenn.

Today is "science day" and we have taken Ben for a walk on the Marsh Creek Trail to collect Delta soil samples for a class experiment. Ben keeps an eye to the ground as he walks with shovel and collection bag. Photo by Glenn.

Roni points out one of the blackberry bushes along the trail and explains how the old vines below decompose into the soil. Photo by Glenn.

Ben adds some leaf matter to his collection bag. Photo by Glenn.

We pose for a family photo in the Delta woods along the Marsh Creek Trail. Composite photo by Roni and Glenn.

Roni and Ben dye Easter eggs the afternoon of April 10. Photo by Glenn.

Here are some of the completed eggs. Try as we might, we couldn't fit them all in one basket. Photo by Glenn.

Our egg decorating kit came with stickers to make funny people. We've got a whole community of Humpty Dumpties here. Photo by Glenn.

Ben's got his game face on as he dashes out the door Easter morning to collect what the bunny has left behind. Photo by Glenn.

Ben moves quickly as he adds candy to his basket following a successful hunt for goody-filled plastic eggs. Photo by Glenn.

And now for this month's flower tour... Here is one of our first California golden poppies in bloom Easter morning. Photo by Glenn.

Everything's coming up roses in our front yard. One of our most productive plants is at its colorful peak April 12. Follow this link if you want to see some closeups. Photo by Glenn.

The postman may have to ring twice if this rose bush gets much bigger. Unfortunately, it hasn't stemmed the tide of junk mail. Photo by Glenn.

Spring is all about flower power, and we've got plenty of it growing along the edge of our front lawn. Photo by Glenn.

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

Just chill out

April 20, 2004

Having a refrigerator with a bad compressor is sort of like having a toothache, in that eventually it'll drive you to seek professional help whether you want it or not. We have previously mentioned our aging Whirlpool fridge in this newsletter and the fact that its death throes were reminiscent of a prop plane preparing for takeoff. For the past year the racket has grown worse, to the point where the machine ran continuously and did little in the way of refrigerating its contents. At last, we knew something must be done.

We put in a call to our neighborhood Sears repair guys and someone came around posthaste to diagnose the patient. As we discovered, replacing a bad compressor falls under the category of might-as-well-be-terminal in that the cost of repair would exceed the price we paid for the box new some 13 years ago. Eight-hundred bucks for some condenser coils and a little Freon, you say? We would have laughed too, if not for the fact that doing so wouldn't help the situation. The repair guy/salesman was nice enough to give us a "discount" on the purchase of a new fridge if we used it within two weeks (actually a rebate of the $65 he charged us to come visit). So over the weekend we found ourselves scoping out the refrigerator department at Sears.

We knew what we wanted going in, so picking out our new 21.6 cubic foot Kenmore didn't take very long once we'd researched all the specifics on the Internet. We paid for it Sunday, and by Monday afternoon the delivery dudes were escorting our old unit out the door and hooking us up with a newfangled box that is not only larger than the expired model but pindrop quiet as well. We feel as though we have upgraded from a '30s-style icebox, now having a machine that churns out ice cubes automatically and dispenses cold filtered water at the touch of a button. Even Ben is intrigued by that little feature. We might even convince him that water isn't bad after all.

The refrigerator swap gave Roni the opportunity to clean out some of the prehistoric items that had been collecting on the old machine's shelves. Her cleaning effort was so thorough that now we had this roomy new fridge with almost nothing to put in it. A trip to the grocery store this morning remedied that situation. At last we feel we can keep perishables from perishing once again. And we can sleep through the night without the Cessna as our constant companion in the kitchen hangar.

It would figure that a major appliance would meet its maker right at tax time. Most folks count on a big refund from the feds to pay for such frivolous items, but we haven't seen a check like that in a couple of years, waiting as we do to settle up with Uncle Sam as close to April 15 as possible. Fortunately our bill was minimal, but we won't be planning any European vacations this summer.

With so many folks with a hand out during April, it's good to know that there's at least one character who still gives freely this time of year. We speak of none other than the Easter Bunny, who bounded his way through our home April 11 delivering a basket of candy for Ben and hiding a couple dozen plastic eggs in our back yard. Ben, now closing in on 10, is perhaps nearing the upper age range of bunny believers, but his enthusiasm seemed ageless as he tore through the yard with his plastic grocery sack, digging through flowers and weeds in search of the wascally wabbit's hidden treasures. Ben is proof that, for some kids at least, the thrill is in the chase — aside from the initial Easter morning binge, he has made his candy stash last beyond a week. The marshmallow chicks are firming up nicely as they await consumption, parceled out with the chocolates and jelly beans into muffin cups, sort of like a medical patient filling up a pill box with each day's ration.

The bunny had no problem finding hiding places in our yard, as we are still in the early stages of our back yard makeover. Progress this past month has been minimal, although Glenn has managed to remove about a third of the old lawn. Ben has helped quite a bit. He assisted Dad with piling dead leaves and weeds into a half dozen garbage bags, then he discovered the joy of using the rake to pull out the green plastic fish netting that once held the old sod together and still lurks in the soil. Our tools are quite decrepit and we soon got to the point where there was more rake repairing than actual raking taking place. That was when Glenn picked up some new tools at the Target garden center. Since then, the project has resumed at its anticipated glacial pace. Only our resident gopher seems puzzled by all the yard work. He has been observed on several occasions popping out of his hole near the mulberry tree to snatch weeds that our raking has dislodged. He's a sneaky little critter, however, never allowing us to get too near lest we trap him (which is our every intention!)

The yard work is considered Roni's main birthday gift, if not an instant one. We celebrated her big day March 23 with her favorite ice cream cake and a rare treat of Glenn slaving over a hot stove. Roni thought she might have enjoyed a meal out on the town, but Glenn somehow convinced her that she really wanted Orange Salsa Pork Chops prepared in her own kitchen. So that is what we ate, along with a bowl of Cowboy Salsa and chips that Glenn whipped up following a secret family recipe obtained from a Sunset Magazine cookbook. He even did the shopping, purchasing all the ingredients at Raley's amid picking up the cake and wrapping presents. He even returned to the grocery store with minimal cursing when he discovered midway through preparing the side dish that he had failed to purchase a needed can of black-eyed peas. The meal was a success, but Roni's honorary title of Queen of the Kitchen is in no jeopardy.

Roni has been busy pursuing her dream of becoming a great romance novelist. Recently she completed a 50,000-word draft of a romance set in Dallas, Texas. It's the story of a lady police detective who falls for a millionaire real estate mogul. She already has designs on a sequel. We're looking into what needs to happen to get the book submitted to a publisher. Glenn, meanwhile, has been writing in fits and starts and continues to make revisions to the novel he began in November 2002. He says the plot for the book has changed substantially (i.e. he has a plot now) and that has meant major rewrites of the first chapter. It might be finished sometime before 2010.

Finally, in our ongoing efforts to expose Ben to the amazing world around us, we took a "science walk" on the Marsh Creek Trail near our home April 2. The idea was to learn about how plants decompose, and Ben's mission was to collect a few soil samples to bring home for later analysis. Armed with a garden trowel and plastic grocery sack, Ben trooped along the trail until we came to a pathway through the Delta marsh that brought us onto some very swampy ground. There he collected a perfect sample that revealed all sorts of tules and berries and insects that make their home in our Delta. We're not sure how much he learned about decomposers, but we sure had a great time taking that walk on a beautiful Calfifornia spring day.

That's about it for this month. See you again in May.

Glenn, Roni and Ben

This page was last updated on Monday, May 17, 2004 at 21:29 hrs.

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