Once again we hope this is finding everyone in good spirits and ready to tackle 2017. The past year has been one of change for all four of us. Change is normally good, taken in small doses but 2016’s events have not qualified as a “small” change for the Allan’s. 2016 presented us with some big challenges, tiring moments, and a few moments of satisfaction, and the pace does not let up.
Most notably, the biggest change for us was a change of venue. Immediately after Emily’s graduation from High School we packed up the Lakewood house and moved into our property in Pine Grove, located in Amador County in Northern California. We settled Emily into a cozy apartment in Anaheim and set off in our U-Haul over the Grapevine for the last time.
Utilizing a bit of persistence and Rita’s boundless energy we are settled into our buildings here in the Sierra foothills, and look forward to beginning the main house build in the spring. Still plenty to do with trees falling over and trying to stay warm!
Rita is now many hours closer to her Caltrans headquarters in Sacramento, but still continues to telecommute from Pine Grove. Designing training courses for the construction division take up her work hours. The property is her main focus during her free time. For Christmas she received a gas-powered chipper/shredder which she has made good use of. A friend gave her a “brand new” never used 20-year-old chainsaw which came in handy Christmas Eve when a 36-inch oak tipped over into our neighbor’s fence. Needless to say someone isn’t going to run out of firewood for a while.
|Rita brushes some preservative on a handrail at steps headed toward the barn.|
In the latter part of the year we adopted a 3-year old Akita from a rescue in Walnut Creek. Chris named her Kona due to her coffee colored coat. She was somewhat abused as a puppy so it takes her a while to warm up to people, but she is enjoying having over an acre to run around on. She also enjoys visiting the neighbor dogs and running up and down the fence with them. Kona is a welcome addition to our family.
Anne is now in her third year of the Animation program at San Jose State. She works incredibly hard and is turning out some really awesome designs and artwork. She left the dorms this year and moved into an apartment with three roommates within walking distance of the campus. Anne is earning a little extra cash teaching art to elementary grade children in her free time, which she really likes. Online gaming takes precedence over sleep occasionally but she is making lots of new friends. Her parents do get to see her every couple of weeks when she drives to Pine Grove for laundry privileges.
Emily has begun her meteoric rise to stardom by starting her college studies at the drama department at Cal State Fullerton. Her independent lifestyle in sunny Southern California seems to agree with her and she loves her classes and the people she is getting to know. This past year she graduated with honors from Whitney High in Cerritos, along with starring in the lead role in the yearly school drama production. Emily still keeps close tabs on her old Whitney High School “family” and helps out with drama and her other passion, cross country running.Emily also earned here Girl Scout "Gold Award" this year and got to take part in the big presentation gala in Pasadena this summer. Leaving her part-time job at Katella Deli proved to be a good move as she was able to land a job at Disneyland, as a hostess on the Storyland Canal Boats. This work helps her to hone her drama skills and is a good foothold into the entertainment world. Her parents don’t get to see her much but they are looking forward to Emily spending a week in Pine Grove during winter break.
|The girls hang out with Kona during our tiki-themed Christmas party.|
Chris has been working to keep up with Rita which is all but impossible, but he is trying. One project after another is the order of the day, including getting the A/C & heat pump installed in the barn, putting up a new pole and pulling in a new 200 amp service, getting the tiki bar useable as our temporary kitchen, and working on the CAD designs for the new house, to name a few. On Wednesdays he helps out in Jackson with the Amador Sawmill group, restoring machines for the high school shop program and other restorations. Occasionally he also helps out with the steam sawmill at the county fairgrounds in Plymouth. A main focus once the house is built will be to install his O-scale model railroad, which he is making parts and pieces for now.
Adjustment to a new situation is neither easy nor painless, but we are lucky to have new neighbors and friends that are helping us along, giving us advice on who to use for certain things, or even how to survive the frigid winter. This place will be good for us once we are truly settled, until then we will not be bored!
All the best to all of our friends and family, it is our wish that you have a happy, prosperous and safe 2017!
Chris Rita Anne Emily (and now) Kona the dog