Photo of the month

What did we do on our summer vacation? We hopped in Roni's car one Saturday and took a drive out to Half Moon Bay, where the weather was cool and the beaches were bustling with suburbanites like us. It's July 17, and we're on the San Mateo Bridge heading west across the San Francisco Bay. Perfect time for a group shot. Photo by Glenn.

August 2010

The Princeton Seafood Co. is located at the Half Moon Bay marina. We saw lots of fresh fish on ice inside its doors, but only one carved out of wood. Photo by Glenn.

A fishing boat returns to its marina berth. Hard to tell if these guys caught anything. Photo by Glenn.

Catchy vessel names are a nautical staple. No bass would resist such an invitation. Photo by Glenn.

Ben has discovered his own little island near the fishing pier. He was attracting quite an audience in the murky shallows. Photo by Glenn.

Dozens of crabs like this one hang out near the fishing pier, seeking protection amid the rocks while waiting to catch a bite to eat. Photo by Glenn.

Roni sits for a portrait at the end of the fishing pier. Visiting Half Moon Bay was her idea. She was researching ideas for a story she wants to write. Photo by Glenn.

A little farther down the beach we found the Half Moon Bay Kayak Co., where several kayaks and surfboards were beached awaiting someone to rent them. Photo by Glenn.

If you come to Half Moon Bay and happen to find your $200,000 yacht missing from its berth, you might want to check out this shipwreck at the southern tip of the marina. This one won't be seaworthy again for a long time. Photo by Glenn.

Part of the beauty of the California coast is the abundance of wildflowers that grow there. These colorful critters were growing all around the marina. Photo by Roni.

The beach along the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail was a popular place the day we visited. This large gathering was a family reunion in progress. Looked like they were having a great time. Photo by Glenn.

Roni pauses for a photo during our walk along the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail. The beach was pretty far below us, and we didn't go down to it. Photo by Glenn.

Glenn experiences "kid in the candy store" syndrome while trying to decide what baked treat to order at the Half Moon Bay Coffee Co. Photo by Roni.

A large slice of chocolate cheesecake awaits our consumption at the Half Moon Bay Coffee Co. Photo by Glenn.

Ben conks out while listening to his iPod as we travel through the Altamont hills north of Livermore on our drive home from Half Moon Bay. Photo by Glenn.

You knew we couldn't get too far into the newsletter without kitten pictures. Katy and Rio are an inseparable pair that have provided us with dozens of cute moments since arriving in our home on July 1. Don't they look sweet? Photo by Roni.

They love to cuddle. Well, most of the time. Katy is tolerating Ben in this picture. Photo by Glenn.

They also like to have their bellies rubbed, as Rio demonstrates with Glenn's assistance on our bed spread. Photo by Roni.

They're a docile, loving — and clean — couple... most of the time. Photo by Roni

It is their crazy antics that cause us to love them and expend countless digital frames on them. Here, Rio is so eager to get to the food dish that he can't wait to be properly seated. Photo by Glenn.

The kittens are always on the lookout for new trouble to get into... Photo by Glenn.

...And they usually find it. Katy is quite the climber. Photo by Glenn.

She also, evidently, has some talent for vacuum cleaner repair. Photo by Glenn.

Rio is practicing for his future career as a busboy, or else the guy at the carnival who sleeps on beds of nails. Photo by Glenn.

Eevee has tried his best to set the little ones straight on mealtime etiquette, but they aren't getting the message that only the big cat gets to eat the big cat's food. Photo by Glenn.

Eevee says, "Fine then, I'll eat my dinner in the penthouse in peace." Photo by Glenn.

Eevee is getting more playful with the kittens. Katy, in her own way, is reassuring him that he is the alpha cat and in charge completely of the situation. Wow, does she have him fooled! Photo by Roni.

Katy's not much of a lap cat, but she'll occasionally let us hold her. She loves Roni because Roni feeds her. Photo by Glenn.

Naptime is the best time of the day for all concerned. Rio seems to prefer the lid of Roni's laptop. Photo by Glenn.

But if the laptop isn't available, any old hard surface will do for a siesta. Photo by Glenn.

Did we say already that they're cute? Photo by Roni.

If it has to do with pears and it's the end of July, then we are at the Delta Pear Fair in Courtland. One of this year's attractions was a class where visitors could learn how to paint pictures of pears. Photo by Glenn.

Ben brought along his friend Kristin to the Pear Fair. Photo by Glenn.

A hood ornament on one of the vehicles in the classic car show. Photo by Roni.

The best thing about the Pear Fair is all the pear fare. Photo by Glenn.

Roni shows off her pear cooler. Photo by Glenn.

This is a slice of pear strudel, the perfect thing to have for breakfast, which it was. Photo by Glenn.

And of course no Pear Fair would be complete without a bite of a famous Lockeford Meat Co. sausage sandwich. Glenn digs in. Photo by Roni.

If you don't like your pears baked into any of the two dozen dishes available for purchase at the fair, you can also buy them in bulk by the bag. In all the years we've attended the Pear Fair we've never brought home a bag of pears... Photo by Glenn.

...But we always bring home one of the festival's pear pies. This was a good one. Photo by Roni.

As summer vacation comes to an end it's time to head back to school. We wait in line with the rest of the crowd during registration day July 19 at Freedom High School in Oakley. Photo by Glenn.

Ben, Class of 2012, prepares to embark on his junior year. Glenn, Class of 1983, prepares to experience another year of high school vicariously. Photo by Glenn.

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

Psycho cats unleashed

August 28, 2010

It was while we were standing in the kitten room at the Martinez animal shelter at the end of June, trying to decide on one or two to take home with us, that a woman walked in with her son in tow and they began checking out the dozen or so cages. The boy, who was perhaps in his early teens, feasted his eyes on one of the more playful kittens and remarked how cute they were. Mom considered this for a second before replying, “Just what I need, another psycho cat running around my house.”

We privately laughed about that exchange afterward, even as we were signing the paperwork to bring home Katy and Rio. Now there, obviously, was a woman who didn’t like cats. Or at least failed to appreciate their finer feline qualities. We had always had good luck with the cats we’d owned. They’d been loving and docile, or at least docile even when they weren’t exactly all cuddly. Psychotic? That was a word best reserved for a really bad dog.

But nearly two months into our relationship with our darling new kitties, we are starting to understand what that cynical woman meant.

Recently just past four months old, Katy and Rio are growing quickly and starting to resemble cats much more than kittens. But while their adolescence has them physically resembling young adults, mentally they are still kids with a desire to romp and play. And because we haven’t had them declawed — likely won’t — there isn’t a piece of fabric in the house that doesn’t in some way bear the markings of their presence. Katy, being the smaller of the two, has become adept at climbing. We regularly find her hanging from the bedroom drapes, or the screen of the patio door after she has gone in pursuit of flying insects. She is a good jumper, but her little legs are still a bit too short to make it all the way up onto the bed spread, or the sofa. We have discovered a sound that makes us cringe more than that of an obnoxious kid raking his fingernails over a chalkboard. At least the chalkboard doesn’t get permanently scratched.

Rio is much less coordinated, perhaps because of his giant paws and long legs. But that doesn’t stop him from clawing his way up the back of Ben’s computer desk chair. He also loves to sit on the bed and play with our feet and legs whenever we reposition ourselves on the mattress at night, chomping down with his little fangs on any moving hillocks he sees under the covers. (Hey! That’s my big toe!) And then there are what can only be described as morning “wilding” sessions when the two of them take turns chasing each other around the bedroom and leaping over — or more usually on — our slumbering bodies. They leap onto tables, crunch on shoelaces, gnaw at power cords and then attack each other with unbridled energy, batting each other’s head with their back paws. And they do this all day long.

Yes, psycho cats. And we’ve got two of them.

But our two crazy kitties more than make up for their mischief with their endearing moments. They are always ready to play, and give them something as simple as a balled-up piece of aluminum foil and they’ll bat it around the house for hours. Roni bought a package of fake furry mice and gave a black one to Katy and a white one to Rio. When Rio saw the black mouse he snatched it away and scampered off to enjoy it in a corner somewhere. Katy quickly tracked him down and tried to take it back, but all she came away with was the mouse’s tail. So for weeks she has been playing with the thing. We find it hidden under rugs and under the bed and beneath the stove, but it always seems to resurface.

Eevee, who initially seemed like he would never want anything to do with the two kittens that had invaded his home, has gradually warmed up to their presence. They’re not exactly chummy yet, but Eevee has rediscovered his inner child as a result of their constant ganging up on him and his food dish. Katy and Rio made several overtures to play, rolling on their backs and touching his face or tail with their front paws. At first the response was a hiss or a swat to the head. But lately they have been chasing each other around the living room, with one of the kittens straddled over Eevee’s neck one moment and then Eevee pinning them to the floor and chewing on them then next, all while meowing or howling in mock disdain. The play has gotten a bit rough on occasion; Rio came away with a bloodied ear and Katy spent some time licking a small puncture wound. At first we were worried that Eevee would hurt them, but if he seriously wanted to he already would have, and if they didn’t want to get bit then they’d stop tempting fate by invading his turf. It works both ways.

We’ve got the kittens on a night routine where they go to bed when Roni does so they can settle down, then Glenn usually comes in a few hours later to find Rio sleeping at the foot of the bed and Katy usually under it. They wake with the sunrise — and therefore so do we — and wait eagerly for the arrival of the blue dinner bowl containing the moist food they get two times a day. We still feed them in the master bathroom, not so much because they need to eat there as that it distracts them so Eevee can eat his own meal in the kitchen in peace. Our next goal is to eliminate the litter box from the master bathroom, as it is messy, tends to be smelly, and they use it infrequently since discovering the larger box we keep for Eevee in the laundry room. Yes, they are a lot of work, but we love having them in our home.

* * * * *

Until this week's blazing temperatures we'd basically given up on any hope for a traditional summer even before we were halfway into it. The days have been springtime cool, and the nights wintry cold. A poor cricket in our front yard has been stubbornly braving the chill to chirp out his sad little tune without the benefit of accompaniment. Normally we leave the screen doors open well into the evening this time of year, but we've been closing the doors often around sunset when the Delta winds kick up and the marine layer sets in.

But we haven't let the whacky weather spoil our fun, or at least we've tried not to let it. On July 17, one of those rare summer-like days where it got into the 90s in Oakley, we took a drive to Half Moon Bay for some beach ambience. It had been a while since our last trip there, and we had forgotten just how awful traffic on Highway 92 could be as we slogged the tree-shadowed roads past wildflowers and the pumpkin farms crawling with young families enjoying amusement rides. Our first stop was the La Di Da Café downtown where one of Glenn's coworkers happened to be performing in an acoustic concert with Berkeley folk musician Lisa Rein. This was a free concert in a small venue, but it provided a nice backdrop for lunch as we enjoyed sandwiches from the deli counter while Ben used his iPod Touch to chat over the café’s free wireless Internet connection.

After lunch we slogged through the equally congested traffic on Highway 1 to the municipal marina and took a walk out to the harbor to gaze at the moored boats and window shop. Ben made his way down to the water's edge near the fishing pier and balanced on the rocks while dozens of bay crabs lurked nearby in the silty shallows and rock crevices. We imagine they probably ate well, being so near to the fishermen and the bait tables. The weather was fine, and the temperatures hovered in the low 60s thanks to the ever present fog that hugs the coast. We strolled along the shore a bit before climbing back into the car to drive south toward Poplar Street and then west to the road's end to pick up the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail. The trail sits atop bluffs that look down on the beach, which was busy with families escaping the unusually warm temperatures inland. Ben went off to explore the beach on his own while we took our time strolling the trail and enjoying the view.

With the hour getting late we decided to grab dinner in downtown Half Moon Bay before hitting the road and rejoining all the Bay Area traffic. "Dinner," as it turned out, was slices of cakes and pie at the Half Moon Bay Coffee Company. What our feast lacked in nutritional value was more than made up for in the generous portions — generous to the point that we almost couldn't finish the rich chocolate confections.

* * * * *

Our other major outing this summer was our annual visit to the Delta Pear Fair in Courtland on July 25. Remembering last year’s close call with an unexpectedly huge crowd leading to a shortage of pear pies, we elected to hit the road earlier than usual and managed to arrive around 10:30 a.m. It proved to be the right decision, because even though the fair promoters wised up and baked more goodies, the parking lot was already starting to fill up when we got there.

Ben brought along his new girlfriend Kristin, and they went off together to enjoy the show on what for them was the last day of summer vacation before a new school year. Meanwhile, we made all the traditional stops we’ve gotten accustomed to making in 23 years of going to this show. We checked out the history display inside the former school gymnasium and picked up our commemorative pear pins and bumper stickers. We wandered among the displays of classic cars, taking our photos reflected in the chrome bumpers. We browsed the several dozen craft booths run by vendors old and familiar. And we watched the famous Pear-ade — or more accurately caught a glimpse of it — as the handful of entries worked their way past the judges while we peered over the heads of the parade watchers who lined the street six-deep.

And we ate.

Our very first stop was at the pear pie booth, where for $12 we picked up a 10-inch pastry to consume at home. We needn’t have worried about the supply this year, as there were still folks buying pies by the time we left for home in the afternoon. But we’ve discovered with this show that it is always best to buy the confections early. We purchased a piece of pear strudel that we split between us. There were also pear-flavored Italian sodas, pear bread and pear ice cream, all of which we purchased. When it came to lunch we considered trying the pear sausage, but that choice lost out to Lockeford Meat Co., which everyone who has ever attended a festival in northern California knows makes the best sausage sandwiches, hands down. This was proved by the 15-minute wait in a line that stretched its way well into the food court.

We were all thankful that the weather wasn’t unbearably hot, as it was last year. We dined on pie for dessert that night, satisfied that it would hold us until next year’s fair.

* * * * *

On the subject of pie, Roni has been testing out a number of dessert recipes on us this summer. Probably because she keeps seeing ideas for tasty dishes on the Food Network and elsewhere. She experimented with a couple varieties of peach cobbler, then hit us up with something called Snickers Pie made from crumbled candy bars. Our unlikely favorite has been her icebox lemon pie, which is made inside a graham cracker shell using a mixture containing packets of lemonade flavored Crystal Light. The recipe calls for four small packets and she used six large ones. The result is a lemon custard that could buckle steel beams, it is that sour. Ben’s first reaction when he took a bite was that he couldn’t finish it, although he eventually returned to his slice. Glenn agreed that the flavor was overpowering at first, but that it sort of grew on him.

Roni decided that perhaps the six packets of flavor mix was a bit much and cut the recipe back to four, still using the large ones rather than the small. The second batch was still sour, though much less so. Having experienced the original version, this one left us feeling somewhat let down. So she plans to try it again. A compromise of five packets this time. Stay tuned.

Roni has also been getting more serious about her fiction writing lately, and this month took the plunge to join the Romance Writers of America, an organization that provides support and resources for writers, authors and publishers of romance books. The $125 membership includes her initiation fee and first year of dues that also entitles her to a copy of the association’s monthly newsletter. Joining the RWA was a prerequisite to getting involved in the local chapter, the Black Diamond Romance Writers, which holds monthly meetings in Antioch, the next of which takes place over Labor Day weekend.

Roni chose to join the Antioch group over the Bay Area chapter because it is smaller and includes among its members several published local authors whom she has met through Facebook and as part of her ongoing activities with Romance Book Scene. She is excited about the additional networking opportunities.

* * * * *

Ben commenced his junior year of high school this past month, attending the walkthrough registration at Freedom High School on July 16 and starting classes July 26. The Liberty Union High School District is on a year-round schedule, so while many kids in neighboring districts just started school this week, Ben is already looking forward to his first vacation in late-September.

Ben was disappointed to not receive an art class this year, something that has been very important to him. However, he will get to sign up for driver training in the spring semester and no longer has to take P.E., a course he didn’t particularly enjoy. He selected German to fulfill his foreign language requirement, so if you happen to speak with him in the near future, be sure to ask him, “Sprechen sie Deutche?”

Ben also has been experiencing the highs and lows of our technological world. His desktop computer, a used iMac G5 17” model we bought him a little more than 15 months ago, recently began having logic board issues. It still works, but only in “safe mode,” which means that it boots up without any third party extensions that control such frivolous things as printers and sound and video functions. We are looking into a repair.

On a more positive note, he was excited to find an app for his iPod Touch that allows him free text messaging, something he had been considering for himself on his birthday in May. (He opted instead for the Xbox.) He is happy to let his friends know that they can reach him at his texting number well into the night. (But please, don’t!)

* * * * *

Glenn continues with his recovery from Valley Fever and recently heard more good news that the monthly blood tests he has been taking have shown negative for the infection two months in a row. That prompted his doctor to say he intends to stop having Glenn take his medicine for a couple of months starting in September, just to be sure that the Valley Fever spores are truly out of his system. Since May, when his daily dose of fluconazole was cut in half, Glenn has gained back much of the weight he lost during the first six months since coming home from the hospital. He’s back to 155 pounds, about 17 more than he weighed at the start of May, but still 10 pounds under where he was before he became ill.

Glenn has also been attending monthly physical therapy appointments to treat his case of frozen shoulder. Through the therapist’s skill and a battery of daily exercises Glenn has regained most of the mobility in his right arm, although he still can’t reach well behind his back or grab things off high shelves without some pain. His physical therapist thinks he may make a full recovery eventually and plans to stop the monthly visits for treatment after September.

Here’s hoping your September activities will be painless, as well.

Glenn, Roni and Ben

This page was last updated on Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 00:58 hrs.

Home || Milepost 1147.2 || Gehlke Bros. Football || || R&G Promotions

Back to The Gehlke Family Home Page