Monday, December 7, 2009

End of Year Update for 2009

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!' ~Dave Barry, "Christmas Shopping: A Survivor's Guide"

On that note we would like to welcome you to the 2009 edition of the Allan Family Christmas letter. Another year has come and gone. Some events in our lives were happy, some sad. We have again persevered, and hope the same holds true for all of you.

Life here in Lakewood continues to exemplify the dream that is Southern California; traffic, noise, shopping and nonstop coming and going. All of us here have a lot going on, and a lot to be thankful for. We all still like (or at least tolerate) each other and in the end that’s pretty good!

Rita continues her Girl Scout mission which serves to get Anne and Emily out of their bedroom at least occasionally. Nut sales have wound up for the year, and cookies are getting ready to crank up. They are saving up for a troop cruise in a few years, something to look forward to. Caltrans work is still keeping a roof over our head, but Gov. Arnold has seen fit to put Rita on “Furlough Fridays” three days a month, which does eat into our savings a bit. Hopefully that will all end by June 2010, we remain optimistic. The rest of Rita’s time is spent reading with the Kindle, her form of escapism. Recently she relayed the floor in the kitchen and installed a dishwasher, all in one huge day of effort, which her back muscles didn’t appreciate.

Chris still has a few projects in the works. The locomotive restoration in Portola, Ca. (his form of escapism) continues. Sadly he lost one of his best pals, Dana Greeley, this past spring. Dana was a great guy Chris has known for most of his adult life, and was of late helping him out in Portola. Another smaller narrow-gauge locomotive is being restored for a private individual here in So Cal. This one is named “Apollo” and was rescued from an abandoned gold mining operation in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Due to financial constraints not much time has been spent on his own projects unfortunately. He takes joy in driving the girls back and forth to school, and looks forward to a trip up north to Concord right after Christmas. Other activities include honing his cooking skills, and internet-scouting various possible locales for the move to up north after the girls are in college.

Anne is now 13, and is in eighth grade at Carmenita Middle School in Cerritos. She is doing very well grade-wise, and is active in other activities there including leadership, and tutoring. There is lots of homework during the week, but enjoys her Sims computer game, and of late, oil painting during her brief periods of downtime. Anne also helps out at the local county library on Wednesdays after school reading to the little kids, and helping the librarian organizing things, etc. Her summer highlight was summer surf camp in Huntington Beach. Anne is quite adept in the water, and even got good enough to stand up on the board a few times. Next fall she enters high school. Yikes!

Emily is (until January) eleven years old, and is in sixth grade, her last year at Nixon Elementary. Next year she will take her sister’s place at Carmenita Middle. She enjoys a lot of the same things her sister does. Emily is Dad’s “sous chef” in the kitchen most nights, and has learned to make a mean hollandaise sauce! She enjoyed a week at horse camp this past summer in Bonsall, in northern San Diego County. This was her first long trip alone away from home, and she did great.

For the first time in many years (if ever) we took a family vacation together. After some deliberation we decided on a few days over on Catalina Island. The whole adventure can be perused in our summer update blog post. Suffice to say it was a relaxing time away from home, which we all needed. A nice change of scenery was a good thing.

Aside from some other omissions that may have escaped our frazzled brains, that was about it for 2009. We look forward to another busy year in 2010. We send our love to all of you, and hope to see many of you soon. Missy the dog would really like that too. She loves visitors, as do we all!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all,

The Allan Family
Chris Rita Anne Emily Missy

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Time for Girl Scout Fall Sales!

It's that time again! Anne and Emily would like everyone to know that Girl Scout nut, candy and magazine sales are on. Click on on the product page below for details and pricing. Please email your nut and candy orders to Rita directly:
Deadline for orders is Monday October 12th. Delivery is scheduled for November 9th.

Magazine orders may be made online here.

Click to enlarge.

Thanks to everyone for your past and future support! Have a great Fall season!

-Anne and Emily Allan

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Allan Family Summer Report 2009

Except for the customary first-day-of-fall heat wave, summer has run its course here in Lakewood. Some great plans were hatched in the spring, some saw their way to completion; others simply vanished into the ether. In any event it was a typically busy season. For some of us new frontiers were explored, and for others among us (namely me) there were the good times and some not-so-good.

Approaching this strictly chronologically, summer 2009 kicked off with Emily going off for a week in Bonsall (just north of San Diego) to horse camp. Rawhide Ranch is an interesting conglomeration of old west facades, swimming pools complete with water slide, teepees, covered wagons and every type of critter that man has domesticated to date. Oh yea, and horses, lots of horses. This was Emily’s first foray away from home, and she did real well. Thanks to all of you who sent her cards and letters that week! Her counselor was a petite blond girl from Northern Ireland, but I still maintained her accent mutated into a California “valley girl” drawl, despite what Rita thinks. Many of the counselors there seemed to be from abroad, I suppose there are few places to experience the “wild west” in the British Isles, or anywhere else, for that matter.

At the end of the week the camp holds a rodeo of sorts and every kid gets to strut their stuff. Emily came out with the last group on horseback, and did a great job of holding on while she galloped, trotted and much to my surprise, put the beast into reverse. She had a great week living the life of a ranch hand.

Each of the girls spent time this summer at the Skyland Girl Scout camp in the mountains near Idyllwild. Anne worked as a counselor/helper for one week, and joined Emily (and a lot of other girls) as a camper for a second week. They got to hang out with friends, and make some new ones. The week they were both gone was the same week I was in Portola, so Rita only had our dog Missy to talk to.

I spent a week in July up in northern California at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola working on the steam locomotive we are slowly restoring. At the beginning of that week one of my dear friends died unexpectedly, suffice to say that cast a bummer of a shadow on the rest of the work session. I felt a bit better when I was able to meet up with an old friend, Jim Blake, in from the east coast and tour him around our museum, he likes trains too, go figure! I also had lunch with another old friend, Rick Mugele, in nearby Quincy which was a nice break from locomotive work. At the very least we got some work done, and I enjoyed a break from the constant din of the I-605 freeway. That was pretty much the highlight of my summer.

Anne’s choice for a “specialty” camp this year was surfing. Rita found a day program with the City of Huntington Beach, which is fairly close to us. Anne found out that surfing 6 hours a day is actual exercise, so she had to take the Thursday of that week off to recover and recharge, but by Friday she was standing on the board and doing all the cool stuff surfer chicks do.

As a family we decided to go on a trip together this year, which we haven’t done in a very long time, if ever. Originally the destination was Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula to visit the little town of Forks, Washington, which was the filming location for one of the vampire movies the girls liked at the time. The prospect of sitting in the truck for extended periods didn’t appeal to the Anne or Emily so this week long trip was culled down to two and a half days on Catalina Island.

After talking Rita’s cousin Teresa into dog sitting, we were off to the Island. The town of Avalon, on Catalina, is a cute little town sort of stuck in the 1950’s, which was fine by me. Visiting Avalon is a bit like a visit to an older, gentler Los Angeles, so this town has always been on my “LA Bucket List” of things to do before we leave town for good. I have been to Catalina before, but only to Boy Scout camp as a youthful lad. The camp was way on the north end of the island, and if memory serves, the stay wasn’t always too pleasant.

Due to the lack of wave action on the leeward side of the Island, where Avalon is located, the girls weren’t too terribly interested in getting in the water, so we took advantage of some of the other amenities afforded us, like the newly refurbished miniature golf course, and a truck tour up Skyline Drive to the Airport in the Sky. Yes, they really call it that, even though it’s actually sitting on top of a mountain, not floating in the air like Cloud City in the Star Wars movies. False advertising. As close as we got to the water was a ride on the Glass Bottom Boat, which is a famous old attraction in Avalon. They drop buckets of food into the water so the fish come up to the boat. The skipper also told us which ones were the tastiest; I guess I will have to take his word for it. I don’t mind looking at fish, but eating them is another matter. The remainder of our time was spent browsing, eating and enjoying the air conditioning in our suite at the Atwater Hotel.

Shortly after our trip to Catalina, Rita and the girls, along with the rest of their Girl Scout troop camped out for a couple days on Balboa Island in Newport Beach. Of course "camping" is a relative term given the accomodation was a Girl Scout troop house on the main drag adjacent to the beach. Luckily the gi-nourmous waves Newport was seeing subsided in time for the trip, and no water rescues were necessary this time. The girls led by one of the other troop moms put on a skit one evening as an appreciation for Rita, who has been ably leading this troop since the girls were at Daisy level.

We are back to the routine, both Anne and Emily are back to school in 8th and 6th grades, repectively. A sweltering end to an interesting summer. The Santana winds are due this week, which means yet another hellish heat wave. Many houses in Lakewood, including ours are sans air conditioning due to our close-ish proximity to the ocean, which doesn’t seem to mean much anymore. Perhaps as I get older I tolerate heat less. Perhaps I don’t tolerate many things as well I have in the past.
Thanks for visiting my rambling blog. FYI- Girl Scout sales of nuts and magazines is coming up, so you can look forward to hearing from us soon!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mermaid Emily

Rita took this yesterday, August 4th. Emily trying out her new Mermaid tail in a friend's pool. They grow up so fast! And they seem to grow tails even faster! Today is Rita's birthday, we plan to take here out tonight to a restaurant yet to be determined. Happy Birthday Hun! - Chris

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Prayer for Grandma

Hello everyone,

I have started this blog to replace the family website pages that I no longer update. This is a much easier method for me to keep everyone informed as to what is going on here in Lakewood. I thought I would start with a prayer Jim wrote and read at Grandma's funeral. Mom sent a copy to me and I transcribed it for posterity. It is very heartfelt and nicely done. Kudos to my brother, who is becoming quite a writer. We will miss Grandma, see celebrated her 100th birthday in the previous November, and I am personally very happy she led such a rich, long life. Enjoy Jim's work, I will be back in a couple weeks with updates on Mother's Day, our upcoming trip to Concord, Tilden park and more. Take care. -Chris

A Prayer for Grandma
By James Allan, 4/20/2009

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the gift of our Grandmother Lucille Knipping. You blessed her as your beloved treasure. You gave her the longevity of 100 years. You made her a mother and continued to let her become a great-great grandmother. You gifted her with a husband of fifty years. You surrounded her with true friends and neighbors whose work is that of angels. When she could not walk outside you brought your creatures to her door; the hummingbirds, the quail and even a frog just outside her doorstep.

Grandma’s hands were gifted by you. With love she patiently crocheted blankets and hats for her grandchildren. She was humble and giving in her craft. This Easter Your risen hands reached out to her with the Divine Mercy. We are saying “Jesus I trust in You”. Our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Blessed Mother and all your angels and saints, lifted their beautiful hands with great joy, raising her to heaven to reunite with all her beloved.

In our lives we touch others with love and that love becomes a part of us. Grandma’s treasure of love through God will remain with us all. In our stories we will share the special memories of her with our children. We will watch the love that she once cradled us with grow into the love to carry our own children. This love is through Jesus Christ who holds all our hands. And in Christ’s hands Grandma has been cradled up to heaven.

Photo by Mary.