Photo of the month

Just playing near the dock of the bay, helping the tide roll away... That's Ben, enjoying some quality time along the Delta at Oakley-Antioch Regional Shoreline, where Dad took him for a game of catch and to check out the wave action at the foot of the Antioch Bridge. Photo by Glenn.

July 2004

Roni proves that she can cook with the best of 'em as she fires up the barbecue on Father's Day. Photo by Glenn.

Let this be a lesson to you, dear reader: Don't sip soda over your computer keyboard. A thorough cleaning was in order to save Ben's carbonated input device. Photo by Glenn.

Ben occasionally looks up from his GameBoy, and we have the proof! Photo by Glenn.

We went to war for this? If you drive, you already know that gas ain't cheap. If you drive in California, then you know gas doesn't get much more expensive than in the Bay Area. One of our local stations displays the sorry state of affairs on June 28. Photo by Glenn.

We're at Oakley-Antioch Regional Shoreline now, and Ben has found a comfy log to sit on near the Delta's edge. Photo by Glenn.

The Antioch Bridge stretches like a rainbow across the San Joaquin River, beckoning us landlubbers to the pot of gold that surely awaits on the other side. Where's a boat when you need one? Photo by Glenn.

Just a few fishermen on the pier today. This is what once was the Antioch Bridge before the larger span was built sometime in the '70s. Photo by Glenn.

Who needs water when you've got free fruit to eat? Ben discovers the ripening blackberries near the water's edge. Photo by Glenn.

That's a mighty convenient hole in that chainlink fence, don't you agree? Photo by Glenn.

We neglected to bring buckets, so a little improvising on Ben's part creates a basket to hold his berry collection. This is why God invented Tide. Photo by Glenn.

You can judge for yourself how ripe the berries were. They're supposed to be black. Maybe just a few more weeks until the best picking. Photo by Glenn.

One thing about this park — the bridge dwarfs everything. And this is just the approach from the toll plaza. Photo by Glenn.

It's late in the afternoon and our shadows grow to giant-size proportions. Time for one last game of catch before we pack it in for the day. Photo by Glenn.

Bet you can't guess how old Glenn is. A little pineapple upside down cake will make the transition to 39 a little sweeter. Photo by Glenn.

Take a deep breath, buddy. Research shows that lung capacity is greatly reduced the closer one gets to 40. (Yeah, we're just kidding about that. It actually starts around 10 in our house.) Photo by Roni.

The best thing about 39 is that we stop aging. True. Ever notice how many 39-year-olds are running around out there? Photo by Roni.

This is our Independence Tree, so named because we planted it July 4, 1997, the year we bought our home. The tree — a fruitless mulberry — is now 7 and we still haven't figured out yet how to kill it. Photo by Glenn.

The fireworks explode on the western horizon as we watch Antioch's July 4 display. Photo by Glenn.

Here's the extension to the cobblestone path along our driveway. We have just added 40 new stones, which can easily be seen if you look to the right of the car tire. Everything to the right of the dirt spot and back is the new stuff. Photo by Glenn.

Roni completes the landscaping project by adding mulch to the barren dirt along the driveway. Photo by Glenn.

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Hanging it up for the home life

July 12, 2004

Is there life after the Almond Festival? That is one of the questions we have been asking ourselves this past month as Roni has made some big adjustments to her volunteer activities. In mid-June, Roni stepped down from her position as president of the Oakley Chamber of Commerce and resigned from the board of directors. It was a very difficult choice she had considered for some time, and not a move made without controversy, being that she has been involved in the chamber's leadership for more than a decade. She simply felt it was time to move on. After she announced her decision to the board, several other key directors also resigned, leaving the chamber to restructure as the remaining board looks to fill director vacancies and find new people to be in charge of committees.

One of those committees is the Oakley Almond Festival, which Roni has either chaired or co-chaired for the better part of 13 years. It had become part of her life, and a part of our family's annual traditions. The months of July through September have always been the busy season, when plans for the festival are coming to fruition and the phone rings nonstop with questions and communiques. Roni is not sad to be leaving the spot fires behind, but she has mixed feelings about not actively taking part in the festival's planning, which she has been doing since the first Almond Festival in 1990. Much like raising a child, the hardest part is knowing that one day it will have to face the world without you.

Retiring from chamber life has not meant Roni is any less busy. She continues to write extensively for the local newspapers and recently added a client for whom she does graphic design and typesetting work. The jobs keep her active, but much of the work can be done from home and rarely involves meetings, which was a drawback to her duties at the chamber. Now that Ben is on summer break from school, he appreciates the extra time she is around home in the evening.

The added home time also has given Roni more chances to work on her creative writing projects. On most nights you can find her behind her laptop computer, keying in new scenes for her Great American Novel — or one of the four she has already created manuscripts for. Glenn has been noveling too, and has been up with the sun on several mornings after late-night writing marathons. He is in the process of revising a two-year-old manuscript that he expects may take another six months to a year to complete.

Summer is now here, and so far it has been a mild one. The days of triple-digit heat are undoubtedly just around the corner, but already we have had a few hot afternoons. The house has been slightly cooler thanks to the window screen replacements Glenn made. As mentioned last month, Roni has been working out in the front yard to convert some of our wilted lawn into planting space for jasmine bushes. We've got the three shrubs well in the ground and just tonight put down bark around their roots and added a plastic mowing strip. We also took the opportunity to extend the cobblestone walkway that runs alongside Roni's parking spot on the driveway. The 40 stones we bought last month finally went in the ground about a week ago. The colors are a bit different between the old walkway and the new, but the sun will eventually bleach out the new stones and they'll all look the same.

Fourth of July weekend gave us several days to lounge around the house and partake in celebrations of America's 228th birthday. The festivities began July 1 when Glenn celebrated his 39th birthday in typically low-key fashion. The following day, we hopped in the car and drove down to Tracy for dinner at the Hometown Buffet, which Glenn had requested for his birthday meal. On Saturday the 3rd, there was plenty of NASCAR racing on the living room TV. Then on the Fourth, we waited until nightfall when we found our favorite viewing location along the DuPont rail siding and spent an hour watching the municipal fireworks display from nearby Antioch.

Ben and Dad spent some time together on a recent Monday afternoon to visit the Oakley-Antioch Regional Shoreline for a game of catch in the shadow of the Antioch Bridge. It was a warm afternoon, but there was a nice breeze blowing in off the Delta and the park wasn't too crowded. They ignored the sprinklers that soaked the playfield and spent some time tossing Ben's Nerf football back and forth. Ben could be an effective defensive lineman someday. Ben's favorite activity (aside from plunking rocks, which is a staple of any trip to the water) turned out to be picking wild blackberries, which grow in abundance by the water's edge. He is now convinced that come August we should all head out for a berry-picking expedition.

For now, it's back to our writing projects. Until next month...

Glenn, Roni and Ben

This page was last updated on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 at 02:31 hrs.

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