February 26, 2015 - Picking up our tale again......|
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February 26, 2015
It’s been a long, challenging period of time from August 2014 to now. Last post was right after Thanksgiving, while we were at Michelle and Slade’s home. On one hand, it seems like it was yesterday, but on the other hand, it seems a lifetime ago….
We left the Winchester home on December 3rd. and headed for the Bay Area. Michelle was doing well. She has an indomitable will and keeps busy with a variety of challenges. Being with the boys is always a treat, and we did regret knowing that we’d not be around them for a while – they are growing so fast, and maturing into manhood so quickly.
Once back in the Bay Area we were able to watch Christina and Chet’s two girls develop into two young women too soon (for us)! Catie and Becky have fallen in love with cycling – in fact, more than cycling. They have been bitten by the same bug, as has their Aunt Kitty. Both girls have joined a Young People’s Triathlon training group and they are running or swimming or biking nearly every day of the week! In addition, they joined their local biking club: “Fremont Free Wheelers” and participate in the club rides several times a week! Chet often rides with them, and when she is not playing the role of “sag” or “photographer” Christina joins them! Both girls have already made a “name” for themselves in the various bike races in which they’ve participated.
In mid-December the Melnariks flew to Minnesota to spend the Christmas holidays with Michelle and family. They were all impressed with the weather in Minneapolis at the time (-24 degrees!) They took one day to go up to the Lake House in order to enjoy a little skiing (temps were low that day, but possibly not as low as the -24!)
While the Melnarik family was turning into human ice cycles, the Hopcia family landed in California (flying in from Mexico.) So Christmas was celebrated in Fremont – the Hopcias and us! The family thought they’d purchase a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. By noon that day, all the tree lots they visited had closed! They were dumbfounded! It looked as though the tree lots closed at noon, even with lots half full of trees, but never to be opened again for a year! The kids were devastated! No Christmas tree, and they had so looked forward to a “real” Christmas tree. Not to be undone, Kitty, Jamie and family gathered up the Christmas tree lights Christina and Chet had stored, found a few Christmas decorations, and in no time flat, they had the house lit up and as cheery as any home with a real tree!
On Christmas Day we enjoyed a hearty Christmas dinner – turkey and all the trimmings. We had a great “American Christmas celebration!”
In early January, Christina, Chet and girls returned from Minnesota and the Hopcias set up life in the Guest House. We had a full household then!
One of the first things the Hopcias wanted to do was to visit Thrift Town, where boys and girls sought out and found some warm clothes! They made some great buys, but in a few days, they were back at Thrift Town, finding shoes, boots, etc.! They claimed that Thrift Shops in the US are so much better than anything in Mexico. I think they had to purchase another large suitcase or two in order to get all the “new” clothing to Mexico!
On January 4th, Louise, Miriam and Juliana hosted a “Baby Jesus Birthday Party” - a tradition in the Walthers family for many years. Because of our spending most of our past winters in El Centro, we missed these parties. This year we were able to participate in helping out at the party, and we had a great time, meeting new people and meeting Juliana’s new boyfriend, Georgie. Louise’s relative, Marla had flown in from Wisconsin about a week before, and we had a great time interacting with Marla, who returned back to Wisconsin much sooner than we wanted. We really enjoyed her, and hope she returns next time we are here, too!
Jamie kept busy checking out the various Hopcia bikes and bike parts (in storage). He assembled a very workable bike for Parker, and several days Jamie got a bike ride in, traveling up and over the high hills in the area. After several attempts to get outside and continue her training for the “Tri” in Cuba, Kitty declared herself “against any outdoor activities.” She did get to some swimming pools where she was able to do some lap work, but outdoors running seemed to be “out” … we’ve never seen Kitty so immobilized by the weather.
Much pleasure for us to be with Jesse, Caroline and Ellen again and we were all happy that Parker was able to get down here nearly every weekend from Ukiah where he is participating in the CCC (California Conservation Corps) where he works in the kitchen. He might come out of this as a chef! He will also graduate with a U.S. high school diploma. His educational work in Mexico has gone a long way to pave the way for his “American high school graduation!”
Poor Kit was a living piece of ice all the time they were here. No surprise that the day after they returned to Mexico, the Bay Area had a perfect day! Cold weather not withstanding, we enjoyed having family together for that short period!
Now for “our” Smith news:
When we arrived in the Bay Area in August, we determined that our age was beginning to suggest that driving a 40’ motorhome might be something we needed to bring to an end. We love living in the motorhome, but the cost of driving back and forth across the country is costly and with all the traffic on the roads today, maybe it’s time to hang up the keys. We thought we could easily move back into our little home on Euclid Ave., close to the beautiful Grand Lake. However, since our leave-taking from the Bay Area, new rental laws have been enacted in the cities of San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland. Laws more in favor of tenants, and “against” landlords. To condense a long story, we found out that even for “non payment of rent” evicting a tenant (especially a single mom with two children) was not a “walk in the park” anymore. It took us from August until Feb. 1 to evict the tenant. Living with this new rule and all it entails, dealing with a non-paying tenant, and employing the services of an “eviction lawyer” – all took a toll on this writer’s constitution, attitude, finances, and temporary outlook on life.
After the tenant moved out to her new residence, we were lucky to have Paul Jr. and Christina help us clean up and repair the place. (Not a small undertaking!) We felt we needed to rent out the unit to try to reclaim some of the money we have lost since August.
Our plans of moving into the unit were put way back on the burner and we looked at a number of RV parks in the area. The closer one is to the Bay Area, the higher is the rent. Going a bit farther away from northern California the rents drop. We decided on a spot close to Yosemite’s southern entrance. The area does have a Kaiser close by, and we can get up to the Bay Area in 3 hours. On February 3rd we said “Goodbye” to the Melnarik Family, to Paul and Miriam and to our friends in the Bay Area. We hope the rents from the unit will eventually get us back to solvency.
So all in all, we have been fortunate. We have survived the challenges with the apartment. Although son Paul did all the difficult work (electric, plumbing, re-building some of the patio deck, repairing and painting the patio floor, etc.) and Christina, (already with more on her plate with construction on their own house, involvement in the Triathlon matters both Catie and Becky are involved in,) spent several days filling in holes in the walls of the apartment, and painting the living-dining room and both bedrooms.) Sounds as though we had nothing to do there, but these old bones just don’t move as quickly nor as sure as they did even 5 years ago, and the eyes miss things they didn’t miss a few years back. We found the work of getting the place ready for rent exhausting.
In spite of that, since our arrival in the Bay Area, we were lucky to spend quality time with 8 of our grandchildren and have even been privy to all the changes made in the construction of the “Big House.” Becky has her beautiful “own” room, and Catie also has her own room, too. Chris and Chet have a comfortable and attractive semi-bedroom.
They have done such a great job on all the construction; sometimes one wants to see things move faster, but the two of them work methodically and carefully. When he can, Paul Jr. comes down to add his expertise to the operation, and one of these days the house will be a showplace.