Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Allan Family Christmas Update 2011

Greetings to all of our family and friends! Once again we turn around and another year has passed us by. Time flies when you never stop moving.

The Allan Family of Lakewood: Chris, Rita, Anne and Emily continues with the day to day struggle to stay ahead of the curve, so to speak, and life is never boring. With numerous Girl Scout trips and events, long weekends fixing up our property in Pine Grove, and just the day to day, a dizzying vortex of activity is the dominant theme in our world.

Rita continues to have the shortest commute in LA County, from the bedroom to the upstairs office. Her work for Caltrans takes up her days, while Girl Scouts, scrapbooking and various crafts take up the rest of her time. She has been fixing up the 10 foot by 10 foot square “boat house” (so named because it is like staying in a tiny boat) in Pine Grove to make for comfortable accommodations while we work on the property. So far she (and Chris) have installed a wood stove, shower, water heater, kitchenette, indoor and outdoor sink, and have the paneling for the upstairs loft all stained and ready to nail up. She has even begun transplanting some greenery from Lakewood to up there, including a heirloom rhubarb plant. Sisters Mary, Patty, and cousins May, Lauren and Christopher came up at the end of the summer and hung out for a day with the family, it was fun having them there. The highlight for the kids was the Slip and Slide built by Rita, which worked great until the well ran out and only gave us pumpkin colored muck for a couple of hours. Rita also spent a harried month of October turning out costumes for the girls and their friends to wear to the Disneyland Halloween party. They were very detailed and everyone loved them.

Chris had quite a busy year, at one time making four separate round trips over the Grapevine to Northern California in one month. Work continues on the steam locomotive at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, California. Much was accomplished this year, and there is a whole load of work yet to do. He also started a new project in Arnold, California; a logging locomotive restoration for the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum, which should last until 2014. Not much progress on any of the 15” gauge projects this year. He sold off his steam shovel build to help fund the remainder of the parlor car project, which was sad and a relief all at the same time. The highlight for Chris’ 2011 was a rail cruise up the scenic Feather River Canyon, from Oakland, California to Portola aboard Roger and Gloria Stabler’s private railcar, the “Two Rivers”. Five days and nights enjoying the Pullman accommodations with good friends, sumptuous meals and tasty cocktails made for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Various other activities fill in his “spare time” including trying new recipes to cook that the family will actually eat, and driving the girls back and forth to Disneyland on a regular basis. Chris is enamored of the new Tiki-themed bar at the Disneyland Hotel: Trader Sam’s. He wishes he could spend more time there.

Anne is a sophomore at Whitney High School in Cerritos. The course load is tough but she is doing well. Pre-calculus was especially difficult but she is gradually improving. Her artwork is also improving as she studies different styles and has joined the Lakewood Art Guild. Anne has become a Disney-o-phile, spending a lot of time at Disneyland with her “gang,” the Peter Pals. She hopes one day to get a job at Disney Imagineering. She was able this year to interview Imagineer Ray Spencer for a school report, which was a real highlight for her. She is starting to work on her Girl Scout Gold Award, a project for the City of Lakewood Pan American Association, and has become a real fan of sleeping in.

Emily is in 8th grade, also at Whitney. She has taken to drama, and was in a school play last spring, and most likely another one this coming spring. She is also studying hard and is making very good grades. Emily remains a Barbie enthusiast and everything pink. This year she adds Monster High to her list of favorite things. She completed her Girl Scout Silver Award, developed and ran a Harry Potter Girl Scout camp. She enjoys hanging out with her circle of friends. Emily is quite keen on Christmas coming, and has led the charge to get the decorations up, which is good, since her parents are getting more tired as the season wears on.

Missy is slowing down, she is we estimate around 9-10 years old now, but still excited to walk around the neighborhood, or ride in the truck. She is quite good at taking care of us.

That’s our year in a nutshell. 2011 went quick, and there is no indication that we will slow down any time soon. 2012 promises to be a banner year, with a barn raising in the summer and only 4 years until the big move to Pine Grove. We hope all of you have a wonderful season and a happy, healthy New Year. Please keep in touch, and stop in if you get the chance, we might actually be at home!

All the best,

Chris Rita Anne Emily & Missy