This 'n' That

May 28, 2002

Another month has almost passed and so it is time once again to update you on life and times at the Gehlke homestead. As we write this it is a beautiful Memorial Day weekend. There's a nice breeze out and the temps are in the mid-70s — perfect weather for barbecuing, picnicking or what have you. Our weekend has been pretty mundane, with no barbecues, picnics or adventures of any kind. But then sometimes it's nice to have a weekend like that, where you can kick back and sort of do your own thing. For Glenn, that meant all Sunday watching the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 races on the tube. For Ben, it was playing with his sand toys in the back yard and trying to break records on his Gameboy and computer video games. Roni had plenty of time to catch up on her reading, plowing through another couple of novels when she wasn't out covering preparations for the high school prom for the newspaper.

Excitement has come in very measured doses this month. We began with Ben's eighth birthday on May 2, when we celebrated by taking the day off of work and school to go play miniature golf in Antioch and plunk tokens into some of the arcade games. We racked up prize tickets on ski ball and a few other machines, enough that Ben was able to redeem them for an armload of prizes by the end of the visit. We picked up a pizza to take home, then opened presents. Ben got the gift he had most wanted — a Gameboy Advance with the Rocket Power game cartridge. He also got a new portable CD stereo for his room and an album by one of his favorite singers, Michelle Branch. As one of his presents, we took him shopping at B. Dalton and let him pick out some new paperback books. He eagerly chose a couple of titles from the Animorphs series (his new favorite) and the latest in his beloved Pokemon series. If we can keep him reading we're happy.

Ben wasn't the only one with a birthday this month. On May 17, Ben's cat Eevee turned a year old. We had hoped the occasion might be marked by a meeting of the minds between our youngest cat and Ariel, our oldest. But alas, the fur still flies with regularity and there are daily standoffs over such trivial matters as which one is standing too close to the other. The cats have more than one another to be annoyed with at the moment, as we continue to fight a flea infestation that has been bothering us all since at least February. Ariel, with her long hair, is particularly miserable. We have tried dips, bombs and spot-on treatments to no avail. The next step may be to shave the cats bald, but then that is rather drastic. (Please don't sick PETA on us, we're only kidding!)

For Mother's Day (May 12), Glenn did the grocery shopping, which is always a dangerous thing, and cooked a dinner of hamburgers and onion rings. He had considered doing a barbecue, but knowing that first he needed to find the grill behind all the junk in the back yard was enough to discourage that idea for the time being.

Roni spent May 19 in the parking lot at Raley's shopping center taking part in the Oakley Chamber of Commerce's Spring Fling event. Mother Nature had other plans, unfortunately, so the last hour or so of the event got rained out.

The final disassembly of the garden railway was completed early this month, with Glenn spending a couple of mornings freeing track from the weeds and sand and taking it apart segment by segment for storage. The biggest challenge was removing the last half of the eight-foot loop of track that had been laid in May 2000. It had become buried under several inches of sand that had to be shoveled off first. What a mess!

All that digging and weeding must have stirred up some of our backyard wildlife, because shortly after that project was completed Ben discovered a three-foot gopher snake slithering through the remnants of our back lawn. The critter looked as though it hadn't recently eaten, but with all the lizards and gophers that have come through our yard he should have plenty to feast on.

The general election is still more than five months away, but already Glenn has started work on the next election preview section dor his newspaper. This election will be much larger than the one in March, featuring more than 90 races and ballot measures. That translates to approximately 54 pages that Glenn will need to design and paginate between now and October. Might not sound that bad, except that is on top of his normal workload. It's a tall order.

Our writing projects continue to roll along, with Glenn's novel pushing 101,000 words and Roni working on the draft of a second book that currently stands at around 38,000 words. The real work will be in the revision process, which neither of us is ready to launch into. Ben has been doing some writing of his own this month. On Mother's Day he produced his own two-page newsletter that he titled "The Sunday Chronicle." He'd like to do one weekly, but Dad said he'll have to learn how to do his own typing if that's going to happen.

Glenn has been in the process of collecting MP3s off the Internet since mid-December and now has over 2,000 songs. His new goal is to compile a complete collection of all the Top 100 songs from 1960 to the present, sort of like a digital coin collection. With a 56K modem, however, that goal probably won't be realized anytime soon.

Have a pleasant June.

Glenn, Roni and Ben

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