Photo of the month

Roni and Glenn pose for a photo along the Big Break Regional Trail. We were on our way to vote in the California primary on Tuesday, June 8. Photo by Glenn.

June 2010

Glenn applies a coat of paint to a dozen 2x4s that will be used to replace the weathered 1x4s we originally used at the top of our pergola. Photo by Roni.

This is what the new slats are replacing. These boards didn't look much better when we put them on new five years ago. The elements didn't help. Photo by Glenn.

The new slats are installed, and the pergola looks clean and new. Photo by Glenn.

Glenn does some late spring pruning of the evergreen ash tree above Spring's Garden. Photo by Roni.

With the low-hanging branches out of the way, Spring is much easier to see. Her garden is looking as good as it's looked in a while. The fuchsia in the foreground is coming back from the brink. Photo by Glenn.

We visited the Contra Costa County Fair on June 6. Here we are, reflected in the mirror of the carousel. Photo by Roni.

Crowds watch a comedy routine during the wild monkey show. Photo by Glenn.

Ben found a hotdog for lunch. He made us hungry. Photo by Roni.

Our search for lunch took us to Big Bad Bubba's BBQ booth — or is it Big Bubba's Bad BBQ? — where we bought pulled pork sandwiches. Photo by Roni.

Glenn gets ready to dive into his sandwich. He's looking a bit healthier these days since the doctor reduced his medicine. He has gained about 12 pounds since May 1, which greasy food such as this encourages. Photo by Roni.

June 6 was Hispanic Day at the fair, which was recognized with a variety of Mexican entertainers. Photo by Glenn.

Is this goat smiling? Ew, creepy. Photo by Roni.

The exhibit halls were filled with interesting arts and crafts projects. Photo by Roni.

Roni takes pictures of sculpture projects in the arts and crafts building. Photo by Glenn.

Children's portraits are displayed in colorful rows inside the crafts building. Photo by Glenn.

Nothing beats the heat at the fair like an afternoon ice cream cone. Glenn indulges in a chocolate dipped cone, which quickly melted within minutes of this picture. Photo by Roni.

We returned to the fair in the evening to enjoy the night lights at the carnival. The Ferris wheel looks awesome all lit up. Photo by Glenn.

The Zipper ride is silhouetted in front of a cobalt blue evening sky. Photo by Glenn.

It's Election Day, and here we are at our polling precinct at Vintage Parkway Elementary School after taking a morning walk on the Big Break Trail to get here. Photo by Glenn.

Roni displays her "I Voted" sticker after casting her ballot on June 8. The stickers were supposedly good for a free coffee from Starbucks Photo by Glenn.

Roni's sister Jacki's cat Lily nurses the remaining four kittens in her litter June 10. We'd had our hearts set on taking home one, perhaps two of these. But days after this photo was taken, all but one of the kittens had died. Photo by Glenn.

One of Lily's kittens, which we were considering adopting, was 16 days old when this photo was shot. It died a few days later. Photo by Roni.

Roni holds a tabby kitten during the pet adoptathon June 12 at Pet Food Express in Antioch. Photo by Glenn.

Kittens are cute, of course, but a full-grown cat needs love too. Glenn tries out Lucy, one of the adoptees available June 12 at the Antioch Animal Services department. Photo by Roni.

Time for some random produce pictures. This is a bin of fresh peaches at the Antioch Farmers Market, June 13. June is a great month for peach lovers. Photo by Roni.

Crabs line up at the window of their display tank in the County Fair Market in Antioch. We learned that our favorite Asian market — the only one in East County — will close at the end of the month. Photo by Roni.

A bin full of smelt at the County Square Market. If these were in our Delta, they would be on the endangered species list. Photo by Roni.

This is what we do for fun on our vacation. Roni chats with an East Bay Regional Park District worker at the scene of an Oakley fire we just happened upon on our way home from shopping June 26. Photo by Glenn.

Glenn's brother Sean watches the beginning of an enduro race June 19 at the Stockton 99 Speedway. It was very cold for the middle of June. Photo by Glenn.

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

Something like summer

June 29, 2010

It looks like we’re finally into summer. At least, that is what it says on the calendar. Aside from the lawn going through its seasonal death cycle and the appearance of bored teenagers roaming the streets in search of something to occupy their newfound free time, one might be hard pressed to figure out that the days are supposed to be hot and the nights warmer.

There hasn’t been much warmth lately, day or night. Glenn went with his brother Sean on a recent Saturday for a night at the races at the Stockton 99 Speedway and nearly turned into an ice cube while sitting in the bleachers. Stockton, which sits at the eastern end of the Delta along the San Joaquin River, normally is pretty toasty in June. Not so the evening of June 19, when a cold breeze was whipping off the Delta and the mercury dipped into the mid-50s. With the wind chill factor, the fans in the stands were chattering their way through a 199-lap enduro race amid temperatures in the mid-40s. Sean, at least, had brought a warm racing jacket. Glenn shivered through the 4-hour program in just jeans and a sweatshirt, which was still more clothing than many of those in attendance wore. Even the track announcer apologized to the audience for the arctic conditions.

We’ve been seeing this weird weather all year, thanks, we are told, to the presence of El Niño. But there are signs that summer 2010 won’t entirely be lost to the Eskimos. The days have been getting hotter this past week, back to their typical mid-June 90s. The frigid spring winds that act as our local cooling system and place a strain on fence posts are starting to settle into their gentle summer pattern at night. The trouble is that, when we hit the middle of July and the thermometer climbs above the century mark, the breezes go away completely and we are left to bake in our living room.

It’s no wonder the guys from the heating and air companies turn out in force for the annual Contra Costa County Fair, where they probably do half their annual business selling attic fans and solar panels. They even managed to get us interested on our recent fair visit, although we only went so far as to take brochures and business cards. Having just installed new carpets, it will be a while before we are ready to plunk down the bucks to punch holes in our roof. But it is very tempting.

Speaking of the fair, we had a great day when we visited Sunday, June 6. It was the final day of the event’s four-day run, and was billed as “Hispanic Day” featuring concerts and activities geared toward our area’s large Latino population. Ben brought along his friend Tyler, and they went off to check out the carnival games and commercial vendors while we walked around at our leisure looking at the arts and crafts displays, sat in on the wild monkey show and visited the farm animals. We had some good barbecue for lunch and bumped into several people Roni knew while investigating the community groups inside one of the exhibit halls. We got a personal invitation to join the Farm Bureau, although with our lack of gardening skills that might not be the place for us.

Money, of course, goes quickly when you spend any amount of time at the fair, and it goes much faster when you’re a kid; Ben and Tyler ran out long before we did. After three hours of wandering the Antioch Fairgrounds, we elected to head home for a few hours to rest up and so that Tyler could head home on his bike. Around 8 p.m., the three of us headed back to the fair for dessert and to enjoy some of the night ambience.

The crowds were much larger the second visit, apparently all coming out for their last chance to hit the carnival rides until next year. We agreed on a meeting spot, then we split up to explore the place under the lights. It was the first time we had been to the fair at night in many years. Glenn indulged in night photography around the carnival area while Roni went off to check the exhibit halls she had missed and Ben attempted to revisit commercial booths he had seen earlier in the day that were selling Magic cards and other collectibles. We regrouped a couple of hours later outside the soft pretzel booth and tried pretzels dipped in cinnamon and crushed walnuts. It was a lot of fun.

* * * * *

Our search for a new cat continues. Last month we shared that Roni’s sister Jacki’s Siamese cat had a litter of six kittens May 24, and that we had our eyes on a pretty calico. We went to see the kittens when they were two-and-a-half days old, before their eyes had even opened and before we could get a sense of their personalities. But we fell in love with the cali right away and began making plans to adopt her at the appropriate age. In the meantime, we kept in touch with Jacki for updates on the progress of the kittens and tried to decide whether we should just get the calico or choose a brother or sister to bring home at the same time.

By two weeks we were thinking more seriously about getting two of them, so on our next visit to Jacki’s house we started looking for the appropriate companion. Unfortunately, between our first visit and the second one, June 10, two of the six kittens died. Jacki said the others were sneezing a lot. She took them to the vet and was prescribed some medicine that was supposed to clear up the problem. The last time we saw the litter that morning, our little calico was sneezing up a storm. Still, it looked healthy and was one of the dominant members of the litter. A good sign.

But by the following day another kitten had succumbed, then the following week a fourth one. Sometime during the night of June 16, the pretty little calico we had thought was to be our next cat was found dead in her cage. We were dismayed. Not just because we had lost the kitten we had our hearts set on, but because we had missed out on a rare opportunity the weekend of June 12-13 to adopt a pet for free.

Several local animal shelters and rescue groups teamed up for a two-day adoptathon, waiving their normal adoption fees. We visited HARP, HALO and the Antioch Animal Services department that Saturday to do some window shopping. We found plenty of cats that could have made good pets, but we held off getting one — or two — because we thought we would be getting Jacki’s kitten. In the end, we wound up with no kittens.

That hasn’t meant that we’ve given up hope, however. This is the height of kitten season, which means that several are available every week through the local adoption agencies. The past two Saturdays, we’ve returned to PetSmart in Antioch where HARP sets up camp for three hours once a week. On the 19th they promised that another calico would be available for adoption on the 26th. But when we returned to see it the following weekend, we learned that it was still recovering from its spay procedure and wouldn’t be released until July 3. Meanwhile, Ben has fallen for a friendly male black-and-white kitten named Anton. He is the brother of the calico we hoped to get a look at. Would we adopt both of them? You’ll have to check back with us next month to see how the story ends.

* * * * *

We are just starting summer vacation this week, but Ben has been on his summer break since June 10, when he finished 10th grade. It seems hard to believe that he is halfway through high school. Junior year begins the end of July.

As for the rest of us, there are no firm plans for our summer break. Glenn is only off for the week, Roni is still working, and we don’t have any money for a long trip, so it looks like another “staycation” this time around. At least we’ve got Netflix to keep us entertained. If we can keep the freezer stocked with popsicles and ice cubes, we’ll do just fine puttering around the house.

That’s about it for this month. Enjoy your Fourth of July holiday.

Glenn, Roni and Ben

This page was last updated on Saturday, July 10, 2010 at 22:03 hrs.

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