Doing the write thing

November 18, 2002

Roni adds some fall flowers to our front walkway in preparation for our refinance appraisal. Photo by Glenn.
Salutations from the house of literary excess. That would be the Gehlke home during the month of November, where we are in the thick of trying to churn out 50,000-word novels in 30 days as our contribution to National Novel Writing Month. The goal of this annual exercise is quantity first, quality second. We're trying to strike a compromise between the two, but now that we are a little past halfway and running out of days, word count is everything.

Roni got off to a flying start with her work in progress, titled "Maggie May." It is a story of romance, mystery and suspense set in Monterey and the Silicon Valley. She is closing in on her goal, having surpassed the 36,000-word plateau as of this writing. Glenn's novel, titled "Spinnin' Donuts," is about a small-time stock car racing team set in fictional eastern Arkansas. He is at 30,000 words and taking the task a day at a time. You can follow our progress by going to and searching on our last names under the "authors & novels" heading.

A few Halloween scenes. Here's our buddy, Jack O. Lantern. Isn't he a fright?... Photo by Glenn.
...If you can't help carve the pumpkin you can always help taste it. ... Photo by Glenn.
...Ahhh, a dentist's delight. Ben displays his haul from a night of terrorizing the neighborhood. Photo by Glenn.
NaNoWriMo has consumed so much of our free time this month that it is hard to believe there has been time for much else, but somehow we always find a way. The election season came and went in a flurry. Glenn had a busy night at the newspaper on Nov. 5, where his department churned out copy on more than 100 races and got it all on the press in less than three hours. The best part of the night was that the staff was well fed, dining on pizzas, cold sandwiches and veggie trays. Glenn was also recognized with an employee of the month award for his work on the election section that he helped produce over the better part of the summer. He is hoping for a long rest before 2004.

At the end of October we finally decided to take advantage of the falling mortgage rates and started the process of refinancing our house from a 30-year to a 15-year loan. It will save us about 9 years off the term of the original loan and several tens of thousands in interest payments. As part of the application process we had to have the house reappraised, so we spent a weekend working in the yards and doing some general neatening of the property. Glenn mowed the lawn and pruned the shrubs while Roni planted flowers and Ben assisted by pulling weeds. Mother Nature tried to help in her own way, by conjuring up a big Pacific storm that kept things soggy and prevented us from spending more time outdoors. Nonetheless the appraisal sailed through, and we were shocked to discover that the house — even in its as-is state — is worth more than twice what we paid for it not even five and a half years ago. The real estate market truly is insane.

The storms subsided on Veterans Day, which with Ben home from school was the perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy a late-afternoon walk on the Marsh Creek Trail near our home. Glenn and Ben stayed out until the sun set and got some great photos along the way. We hope to be able to share some with you on the site in a few weeks.

Roni signed on to teach a photography class as part of the GATE program at Ben's school. She helped the kids learn about photo composition and camera skills. Now they have been assigned to go out and create a photo essay of their favorite things. This isn't the first time Roni has volunteered for such activities; last year she was a presenter with the FAME program, which teaches children about the arts and history in a creative way.

The holiday season descended on us beginning with Halloween. Ben dressed up in what might best be described as a rogue cop costume and went trick-or-treating with Dad around the neighborhood. The crowds of kids were larger this year than last, when people were still antsy over the 9/11 disaster. It was nice to see the streets teeming with activity again, as well as the cool displays many of our neighbors assembled.

Now we are closing in on Thanksgiving, trying to complete our Christmas shopping before the malls become infested with folks looking for sales. If Antioch builds one more fast food joint or home electronics store along Somersville Road it won't make much difference because it takes too long to drive down there anymore. We'll either do all our shopping online or at the grocery store this year!

Don't let the season drive you crazy. We'll see you again in a month.

Glenn, Roni and Ben

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