Photo of the month

Every village needs a village idiot. Ben's cat, Eevee, plays the role to the hilt as he finds a warm spot to cuddle amid the cotton batting snow drifts, pipecleaner trees and ceramic houses of Roni's Christmas layout. Photo by Glenn.

December 2004

It's Thanksgiving Day, and Ben inspects the turkey while Roni hunts for the carving knife. Photo by Glenn.

Never wise to get too close to a woman wielding a sharp knife after a marathon baking session. Photo by Glenn.

This is our Thanksgiving feast. (Hey, don't laugh!) We kept it simple deliberately because this was a work day for Dad and also because we didn't want a pile of leftovers in the fridge. Let's see... cranberry sauce, turkey, stuffing, green beans, corn pudding (a recipe we enjoyed on our southern vacation) and candied yams. Mmmmmm. Photo by Glenn.

The weekend after Thanksgiving finds us setting up for Christmas. Eevee has already co-opted the tree stand. Just a preview of the havoc to come. Photo by Glenn.

Glenn is our resident electrician. His tree-lighting strategy: throw as many lights at the thing as you can stand in as short a time as possible, then plug it in and hope it looks good. Photo by Roni.

The lights are on, so now it's time for the decorating committee to take over. Roni waits on Ben to hand her another ornament. Photo by Glenn.

With the upper branches taken care of, it's time to place the tree on its display stand and trim the lower branches. We don't think Eevee is still on the stand — at least we hope not. Photo by Glenn.

Here is one of the scenes in Roni's village. Our cat Ariel likes to rub her paws on this table several times a day, leading to frequent seismic disasters. Photo by Glenn.

Here's a closer look at the base of the tree, all decorated, lit up and surrounded by the village. Yes, Eevee has taken up his customary spot on the railroad tracks. Photo by Roni.

Ben and Uncle Sean get their kicks at the Oakley-Antioch Regional Shoreline during a friendly game of soccer. Ben is already looking a bit winded. Photo by Glenn.

Sean shows Ben how it's done. Ben wanted some practice so he can play better during PE at school. Photo by Glenn.

We basically had the park to ourselves. It was a beautifully clear day, but only because there was a steady, chilly wind blowing in off the Delta ahead of an approaching Alaska storm front. Photo by Glenn.

Glenn sports his new wind-blasted look. We could actually see the strength of the wind currents in the patterns they left on the grass. Photo by Glenn.

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Helping to make the season bright

December 21, 2004

It took us a bit longer than usual, but the Christmas lights finally made it up on Sunday. Yes, that's just six days before Santa's visit, and the display isn't quite as grand as it has been in past years, but the point is they're up. There's a pair of those plastic spiral trees with the colored mini lights that run from the ground to the star at their tip. We've got some large hollow plastic candy canes that Roni and Ben stuck in the ground along the edge of the driveway and strung with lights. There are some stars with twinkle lights that rotate in different patterns, and on our garage door hangs a banner that spells out "SEASON'S GREETINGS" in green and white lights. It won't win any prizes for being cool, but it's more than most of the neighbors have up this year. Don't know what it is with our community lately, but doesn't seem that many folks have been in a festive mood. Maybe it's the economy, or the war, or we've all been struck by the Scrooge flu. Maybe we're just all getting older and notice it more.

The good thing about getting a late start on the outdoor lights is that it might save some money on the electric bill, which figures to be higher with the arrival of what promises to be a chilly winter. The familiar tule fog that is as hazardous to drivers as it is beautiful to behold returned to the Delta with a vengeance over the past week. We'd had a preview back in November, but that was just the pretend fog; this stuff is the real deal, thick and swirly. You don't want to drive in it if you don't have to. Unfortunately for Glenn, who works nights, he has driven in more than his share of the stuff. It doesn't mix well with the bumper-to-bumper traffic heading to the shopping malls for Christmas on our overtaxed and underconstructed state highway. Temperatures have been hovering in the mid to low 40s, which has meant many nights of sweaters, jackets, triple layers of socks and blankets to fight off the cold that insinuates itself in our home. We're about ready to turn on the heater, however. Probably Christmas morning.

If we created the impression that our house is completely devoid of Christmas spirit, don't be fooled. We wasted no time after Thanksgiving getting the tree up and setting it in its place of honor amid Roni's ceramic village. We pulled the three-part faux spruce from its dusty box in the garage and arranged its wire branches just so on Friday, then the following morning Glenn hurriedly applied the lights so that the ornaments could be strung and the tree raised into position on its display table before Glenn had to leave for work. It actually doesn't look all that bad.

Our cats have admired the decorations in their own way. Even before the tree was set up, Eevee was testing its branches to determine how much weight they would support. In his case, not enough. This did not deter him from climbing the tree all the same, and there have been several mornings we awoke to the tinkling of ornaments being dislodged from their hangers, the crashing of glass balls shattering on the ceramic village below. Ariel, being many years older and less agile than her chief nemesis, is not completely innocent in the annual yuletide destruction routine. She likes to snuggle in among the houses nestled against the backside of the tree stand, and when she is looking for attention she will rub her paws on the edge of an adjoining wing table that is also decorated with cermaics. The resulting kitty quakes are enough to leave the town in topsy turvy shape. Undaunted, the residents of the town tough it out because Roni is quick to administer repairs.

Now all that is left is to finish shopping. We're further behind than usual in that department as well. It's pretty much expected out of Glenn, who grits his teeth and braves the crowds usually one or two days during the final shopping week. But for Roni, who is thinking gift ideas sometimes as early as August, waiting until the final week is something of a news event. The hangup is Ben, who is getting more difficult to shop for as he grows older. He wants one of the new GameBoy DS handheld video game systems and several game titles, but beyond that his wish list is pretty sparse. We've got a few ideas, if only we can find the time to visit the toy aisle.

Other than holiday preparations, it's been a basically uneventful month. Glenn's brother, Sean, came to visit Nov. 28. When we tired of watching the 49ers lose another clinker, he and Glenn and Ben braved the cold and wind for an hour at the Oakley-Antioch Regional Shoreline, playing soccer and checking out the high tide near the Antioch bridge. Roni and Glenn also completed their novels for National Novel Writing Month, achieving their 50,000-word goal within the allotted 30 days. Roni was on such a roll that she went on to compose a second novel on the heels of the one she finished for the contest. When we all find the energy after the holidays there will be some serious editing marathons.

That's about it for now. Hard to believe it's already the end of 2004. It's been a great year for us, and we hope for you as well. Best wishes for an inspiring start to 2005.

Glenn, Roni and Ben

This page was last updated on Sunday, January 16, 2005 at 18:22 hrs.

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