Photo of the month

You can't live in northern California without seeing a few wind farms. Living in Oakley, we are just a short hop from the Altamont Pass where more than 7,000 wind turbines spin day and night, generating "green" energy for a power-hungry state. An artist depicted this scene on a canvas displayed at the California Dry Bean Festival in Tracy. Naturally, we couldn't resist it as a backdrop for a photo. Photo by Roni.


August 2003

Downtown Tracy is wall-to-wall people as we visit the annual Dry Bean Festival on Aug. 3. Photo by Glenn.


Ben and Roni check out one of the booths at the Bean Fest. Ben was after any freebies and candy he could find. Photo by Glenn.


It wouldn't be the Bean Fest without heat. Ben's looking a little fatigued. Fortunately, we had a squirt bottle on hand to cool him off. Photo by Glenn.


Nothing particularly special about this shot of a Byron windmill silhouetted against Mount Diablo, except that it seems to go with the wind theme of this month's photo selections. Shot on the way home from the Bean Fest. Photo by Glenn.


Here's a basket case if ever we saw one. Ben's cat Eevee finds a spot to lounge in our fake ivy. ...


...Hmmmm, perhaps the ivy isn't the best seat in the house after all. Wonder if this opens? ...


...Yup. Lots of room in here. ...


...There! That's better. A little sooty, though. Photos by Glenn.


Glenn enjoys the wide open spaces of Sherman Island during an Aug. 4 Delta photo tour with brother Sean. The Antioch Bridge is visible in the distance. Photo by Sean.


With camera in hand, Sean checks out the riprap along the banks of the Sacramento River. Photo by Glenn.


It was plenty windy the day we went out, ideal for the windsurfers who ply the Sacramento River channel. Photo by Glenn.


The brothers made their way into the Montezuma Hills and checked out the new SMUD wind farm. These turbines are huge — about 300 feet tall. Photo by Sean.


A marble lady keeps an eternal watch over a family plot at the Collinsville cemetery. Photo by Glenn.


Sean sets up for a shot of the Rio Vista drawbridge as we near the end of our tour. We ate lunch here and enjoyed a splendid view of the Sacramento River. Photo by Glenn.

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Living in the late great Golden State

August 21, 2003

OK, laugh if you must at us Californians and our screwed up politics. They didn't build Hollywood in this state for nothing; we know good television drama when we see it. Or is that slapstick comedy? Let's see... Close to 200 gubernatorial candidates including a skin magazine publisher, a former prostitute and a porn film star... a former baseball commissioner... a Republican candidate just a few months removed from his last unsuccessful bid for California's governorship... candidates representing the Latino, black, Native American, senior and gay communities... and, oh yeah, some actor with an accent who played in some sci-fi movie series about a cyborg killing machine from the future.

Yep, that's California in a nutshell. Maybe we'd better make that a nut case. Enough said about the recall election for this month. You can tune in to the cable news stations on Oct. 7 if you are dying to know how it all turns out.

We'd always heard that August is supposed to be the dog days of summer, but have yet to experience one. Between preparations for next month's Oakley Almond Festival and our myriad other activities there has been little time to bask in the 90-degree weather that has visited our neck of the Delta pretty much every day since June.

The big news from the festival front is that the Food Channel has made arrangements to do a segment on the fest's recipe contest. Not sure of all the details at the moment, but it sounds like a major 3-day production. Roni, as co-chairwoman of the festival, has become their point person here in town and has been putting the Food Channel people in touch with local officials and agriculture experts, faxing out consent forms and other paperwork. It should be a fun weekend.

When she isn't swamped with festival preparations, Roni's other interest of late is country music. This is quite humorous to the rest of the family, as Roni was born and raised on rock and roll. The idea of listening to a twangy country musician on the radio was about as appealing to her as a sink full of dirty dishes. Yet one day she turned on the VH1 country music channel and hasn't turned it off since. Suddenly she is speaking enthusiastically about Faith Hill, Shanaia Twain, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith and others whose videos she has seen. What caused this overnight transformation? She says she likes that the songs usually tell a story, and that the VH1 station actually shows music videos as opposed to some of the other cable music stations that do mostly variety programming. She still has a difficult time listening to the Dixie Chicks, who are just a little too country for her tastes.

Speaking of cable, we finally took the plunge and hooked up with Comcast for high-speed Internet service this month, taking advantage of a six-month discount offer they were running. The workman came out Aug. 7 to install a new cable outlet by our main computer, a job that was supposed to be less than an hour; he wound up staying here for nearly three, tromping through the attic and testing the other lines for signal continuity before discovering a bad connection that he had to splice out on one of the existing lines. A lot of banging and drilling, but eventually he got our new cable modem hooked up and now we're loving the ability to surf online and send e-mail at blazing speed.

Of course, one change often leads to others. After getting the cable modem we decided to network our other computers to it, which meant purchasing a router, ethernet cables and a card for Ben's older computer that would allow him to be connected too. Then there was changing all our e-mail addresses, finding a new Web space provider for this site, and a bunch of other niggling details that have required far more time than we wanted to devote. You can still reach us by e-mail at our new address: festfan(*at*)comcast.net. (Be sure to replace the (*at*) with @ — we have lost our patience with spammers!)

We also have been "upgrading" our back yard, which can't get a lot worse than it is now. After going the past two years without a working sprinkler system, we finally had a plumber come out and fix the broken faucet in our garden that was the source of the problem. Now that the faucet runs without leaking, we are ready to start repairs on the sprinkler valves which still do leak. On Monday we purchased about $30 in parts from Orchard Supply Hardware, which once assembled should put the irrigation system back in business. After that it is anyone's guess as to which project we'll tackle, although it will probably be a lot of watering and weeding for a time. By spring we hope to have a new lawn in place. But that's a long way off.

We finally got to celebrate our much delayed 15th wedding anniversary in proper fashion with dinner and a movie Aug. 17. We went to see Kevin Costner's movie "Open Range," which was a good choice. We recommend it highly. Then it was out to dinner at Applebee's, which was hopping even for a Sunday. Ben entertained the sitter for the evening. We also made our traditional visit to Tracy on Aug. 3 for the annual Dry Bean Festival. It was blistering hot, so we didn't stay long. We had dinner at Hometown Buffet instead.

On Aug. 4, Glenn and his brother Sean spent the day shooting photos along the Delta. Some of those shots appear on this page. It was a warm, windy day. Perfect weather for photos and for the dozens of windsurfers who enjoyed their sport on the Sacramento River channel north of Antioch. The photo tour took the bros out to the Montezuma Hills behind Rio Vista for a look at wind farms, then to the historic town of Collinsville and the Collinsville Cemetery. They ate lunch in Rio Vista, then headed up to Ryde and Grand Island before returning home.

The brothers Gehlke will be reunited again Sept. 4 — that's the start of a new season of Gehlke Bros. Football predictions. Glenn has been working on changes to the NawFuL Web site, which should be updated and ready to go before the end of this month.

Glenn, Roni and Ben
This page was last updated on Thursday, September 18, 2003 at 02:29 hrs.

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