Photo of the month

Roni has found nirvana in the form of the Sacramento County Library's used book sale at the Delta Pear Fair, July 25 in Courtland. Roni has a voracious reading appetite, and sales like this one provide her with the literary equivalent of a buffet line. Photo by Glenn.

August 2004

If it's the last Sunday in July then it must be time for the Delta Pear Fair in Courtland. We have been to every one of them since about 1989. These pears were available for purchase by the sackful. Photo by Glenn.

The Pear Fair has a quaint country atmosphere. This was one of the old farm engines on display. Three horsepower is almost more than our cars get. Photo by Glenn.

Ben discovers the beanbag snakes at the craft fair. Photo by Glenn.

Time for the noon parade. More specifically, it's time to line up for the free candy that gets tossed to spectators by the bagful. Ben is ready. Photo by Glenn.

One of the parade entries. An old-timey fire engine. This town drips with Americana. Photo by Glenn.

Ben insisted on making a coaster at the spin-art booth. You wouldn't guess it by looking, but it's about 102 degrees with no shade and we're all dying for a drink. Ben is trying to decide whether he should apply the red or go for the blue next. Ben, they all look the same once they're on the wheel! Please make up your mind before Mom and Dad melt in a similar pattern. Photo by Glenn.

We found our drinks, and this little treat — pear crepes. Loading up on the whip cream. Photo by Glenn.

Add a little chocolate syrup and powdered sugar and you've got a real treat. Photo by Glenn.

Time to get goofy. Ben and Glenn become Leonardo and Rafael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Photo by Roni.

Hey, if it's good for the guys then the gals have gotta pose too. Roni finds her prince charming in a scene from Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Glenn.

This is too tiny to see Ben's expression, but he was doing his best to not smile for the camera. Hard to blame him, as it was blistering hot. Photo by Glenn.

We end our day at the Pear Fair by listening to tales from Mother Goose. This was quite literally an audience of one. Photo by Glenn.

Different weekend, different fair. We are in Tracy on Aug. 8 for the 18th annual California Dry Bean Festival. We measure Ben against the Bean Pole. He ain't no sprout anymore. Photo by Glenn.

Excuse me, but did you know you've got a foot-long lizard clinging to your back? Ben didn't notice at first and just about bumped into it. The lizard apparently goes everywhere with this kid. Photo by Glenn.

No lizard is this! This is the little devil that found its way into our house and inflicted severe pain on the photographer. Here he has been rendered harmless inside the slippery walls of a large butter tub. Photo by Glenn.

Arachnophobia! Ever wonder what is at the end of a scorpion's tail? That stinger looks lethal, and had I been a small rodent it probably would have been. Photo by Glenn.

What's so good about working on a Saturday? Nothing, except if you get off a little early and there's still time to catch the races at the Antioch Speedway. Photo by Glenn.

It's time for that walk along the Marsh Creek Trail mentioned in this month's newsletter. That vacant field behind Ben won't be vacant much longer; it's been cleared for residential construction. Photo by Glenn.

Ben takes a break from plunking rocks to pose for a photo along the banks of Marsh Creek. Photo by Glenn.

The shadows are growing longer as we look south toward Oakley. The creek's on the right. There is a huge walnut tree to the left and above us. Photo by Glenn.

Ben leaves his old man in the dust as he sprints for the foot bridge in the distance. Photo by Glenn.

Ben does his best to raise the water level as he adds another boulder to the creek bed. Photo by Glenn.

Squinting into the setting sun, Dad encourages Ben to move along as there are more rocks that need a bath farther up the trail. Photo by Glenn.

We have reached the bridge. Flocks of crows dart overhead. Below, the water is calm except for the occasional splash of a jumping catfish. The grape vineyard beyond is green and peaceful. Photo by Glenn.

It's great to have a camera with a timer function. We line up for a father/son moment. Photo by Glenn.

Alfred Hitchcock would have loved this tree. The top branches were chattering with a couple hundred birds settling in for the evening. Photo by Glenn.

We're setting up for a spectacular California sunset. The branches of a walnut tree take on a warm glow in this light. Photo by Glenn.

The Mirant power plant in nearby Antioch is a prominent landmark from the trail. It is about to be consumed by that glowing orb. Photo by Glenn.

Moments later, the sun dips below the western horizon. Photo by Glenn.

We're losing our light, but there is still enough for some twilight shots of the trees in silhouette. Photo by Glenn.

Ben's not being standoffish. It only looks that way. Actually, I told him to stand like that and then tilted him sideways. Could have been the photo of the month, but Ben's had several turns recently. Photo by Glenn.

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A visit from the scorpion king

August 16, 2004

Life is full of little surprises. And some of them walk on eight legs and pack a pretty good sting. Just as we were sitting down today to deliver the news that nothing ever happens in little ol' Oakley, by golly something did.

Glenn was strolling barefoot across the carpeted floor of the writing sanctuary when he felt a sharp pain in his right foot and looked down to see a little brown critter skittering underneath the computer desk. He knew in an instant that he'd been stung by a scorpion. We've had the unwelcome guests in our home before during the summer, but this was the first time that any of us had been attacked by one. Glenn describes the experience as being something between a bee sting and whacking one's thumb with a hammer.

After his initial reaction of shock and a few choice utterances, Glenn retrieved the culprit from its hiding place beneath a mat. To look at the welt on Glenn's foot you would have thought the critter was a monster, but it was just an inch and a half long. That's what passes for about average in these parts, but even average you'll remember if you ever encounter one. Roni put in a call to the advice nurse at Kaiser Hospital, but apparently they were all too busy dealing with life-and-death emergencies to answer our call, so we decided to chance it that Glenn would survive. By then it had been 20 minutes and he wasn't suffering from nausea or profuse sweating or vomiting, like the vector control Web sites said he might be if death were imminent. And the good news is that he's still with us as of this writing, so apparently all is well.

All is not well for the scorpion, however, which was sentenced to life in a butter tub without the possibility of parole. Maybe we'll encase it in lucite as a reminder to its friends not to enter the premises.

Before those few moments of adrenaline rush, we were about to tell you how utterly dull things have been around the House of Gehlke. For a couple of folks who spend so much time writing, it may seem odd that we don't have a lot to say when it comes time to put together this month's newsletter. But that is the honest truth. The middle weeks of summer here are rarely eventful, although without the Almond Festival on the horizon — we're still getting used to that — it seems more quiet than usual. Perhaps this is a good thing. It is always good to have an opportunity to change gears, break out of old routines.

For Roni, life beyond the festival and the Oakley Chamber of Commerce has not left her any less busy, even if it has left her less stressed. She makes the trip into Brentwood five days a week to pick up design and typesetting jobs, which keep her going most of the afternoon. In between, you can often find her on the phone interviewing sources for articles she writes for the local newspapers.

Glenn has been dividing his time between work, sleep and writing, not necessarily in equal portions. Life in the corporate rat race seems more corporate and rattier than ever these days, so it is always a welcome alternative to sit down in front of the computer screen and put words to virtual paper over a stiff drink of Arizona iced tea on the rocks. Hemingway would laugh. You might too, if you saw how many times Glenn has revised the plot for his novel in progress. But at least he's still writing more or less regularly, which we take as a sign that he's serious about it on some level. Or perhaps he really is just crazy.

Ben is enjoying his summer vacation and trying not to count the days until the start of fifth grade. He has been drawing pictures of his favorite cartoon and video game characters and making up little adventures with them. We are trying to get him excited about traveling to some new destinations, but he is at the age when it is hard to see beyond the schedule of his favorite TV shows, so we'll have to work a little harder.

We have managed to pull Ben away from the tube long enough to enjoy a few of our summer traditions these past few weeks. On July 25, we drove up to Courtland for their annual Pear Fair and spent a few hours in the hundred-degree heat with a few hundred others watching the parade, eating pear crepes and checking out the booths. One of the highlights was gathering around on hay bales to listen to a local storyteller recount tales from her childhood. We three were the only ones in the audience at the time, so Ben got a personal presentation which he liked very much.

Two weeks later, on Aug. 11, we paid a visit to the California Dry Bean Festival in Tracy. We have decided that we just like going for the sights, sounds and scents of the fest, because other that that it is an overcrowded street fair typically held on the hottest weekend of the month. As usual, we managed not to buy a lot of souvenirs while we loaded up with bags of free stuff and dropped too much cash at the food venues. We entertained ourselves listening to mediocre country music karaoke and browsing the craft booths. Ben was disappointed he couldn't locate the Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards he expected to find there. Yes, Pokémon is finally sort of out and Yu-Gi-Oh is in. Six of one, half a dozen of another...

The days have begun to grow short as we reach September, much like the lyrics of that famous song. We head outside around 8:15 and it is already getting dark, but there is still plenty of light left after an early dinner to take a relaxing walk on the Marsh Creek Trail. Ben and Dad got out there for a couple of hours on July 26 to stretch their legs and enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Delta. Photos? But of course. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, we'll let the pictures included with this month's missive finish doing the talking. Hopefully the rest of your summer will be all you wish it to be.

Glenn, Roni and Ben

This page was last updated on Saturday, September 11, 2004 at 11:22 hrs.

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