Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Allan Family Year-End Update 2015

As 2015 comes to close, Seasonal Greetings, Merry Christmas, etc. to one and all! We hope this finds everyone happy and prosperous. Another busy, busy year has come and gone for the Allan family here in Lakewood. Highlights follow…

The general scheme of things for Chris and Rita is to move to Northern California next year, to our property in Pine Grove, located in Amador County. To date the barn is now finished; our tiny cabin is almost finished out on the inside, and the shed which will, in the short term, serve as our kitchen is up and ready for build outs. A great deal needs to happen before we can occupy the land, including running permitted underground electrical and water, and get our current house ready for the market.  Target date for the move remains June 30th of next year.

Rita continues to telecommute upstairs for Caltrans. She technically works out of Sacramento so she will be that much closer after the move. Her Girl Scout troop will disband next year, now that Anne and Emily and many other girls in the troop have earned their Gold Awards.  A new skill was learned this year, laying out and mortaring cinder block retaining walls around the upslope sides of the barn. Her projects abound, and she is seldom bored. If she ever is, there is always her trusty Kindle Reader. The next big item for her will be to take the house plans for Pine Grove and redesign the layout to suit her taste.

The life of Chris involves a lot of going back and forth; to drop off Emily at school, to the garage to work on O scale railroad models, and shopping for new and exciting food items that meet the criteria of the new diet Rita and he are on. So far weight has been lost, but not enough as yet. Chris is anxious to get up north and leave Los Angeles County behind. He will work as the advance party to get things ready so that when Rita finally shows up she can get right back to work. The O Scale model railroad is already designed. He will start building upstairs in the barn as soon as they move into the new house. Until then there are no shortage of tasks for Chris.

Anne is working through her sophomore year at San Jose State in the animation program. Her portfolio was reviewed and accepted so she is good to go for another year!  Not much time for her to do much but go to class, do homework, and if she’s lucky, sleep. She is happy when it’s time to come home for a break. Her artwork has come along nicely, and Chris and Rita are wondering where she got that talent from? The summer job was as a counselor at the Long Beach Girl Scout camp. She enjoyed it, most of the time. Anne also got to go to see her favorite people again at an internet convention in Austin, Texas at the end of the summer.

Emily is finally in her senior year at Whitney High in Cerritos.  As predicted, she is practically running the place. As president of the Drama Club, Team Captain, and a few others, as well as being on the Cross-county and Track & Field teams, she spends most all of the daylight hours at school.  She sang and danced in the schools delightful production of “Mary Poppins” just prior to Thanksgiving, and will be in two additional shows before she graduates. Over the summer she earned her Gold Award by building an 8 foot by 16 foot storage shed on school grounds, to be used for prop and costume storage. Mom and Dad, as well as the rest of the drama kids helped a little. Emily is not quite sure which college she will be attending next year, but Fullerton State in Orange County is a front-runner.

Sadly we lost our beloved dog Missy this year. She was a loyal member of our family and she will always be remembered. After a suitable period of time we will get another dog, but likely not until we are settled up north.

That’s about it for us, again we hope your year was a good one, and if it wasn’t, well, at least it’s almost over now- so hang in there! (FYI- We will send out our new address after we get a PO Box next year.)

All the best,

Chris    Rita     Anne    Emily 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Allan Family Update 2014

Greetings once again to all of our family and friends! We sincerely hope this finds you healthy, happy and prosperous, or at least on the road to a better place.

Another hectic year has come and gone. Time passed in a flurry, and it does not look like things for the Allan’s will slow down any time soon.  Activities and projects continue to keep us busy, which helps to promote “togetherness” as a family!

Anne is now a freshman studying Animation and Illustration at San Jose State University up north. She has her own dorm room and is making new friends; thriving in the creative atmosphere. She is enjoying college and taking to life away from home quite well.  After graduating from Whitney High School this past Spring, she and her sister took a trip to an animation convention in Austin, Texas. This counted as her graduation present. Now that Anne has received her Gold Award from the Girl Scouts, she is a lifetime adult member, and is, at least for now, out of the cookie sales business.

Emily began her Junior year at Whitney this year. She is the president of the Drama Club, and has dazzled us in their first play, “The Curious Savage”, in which she played the lead. She is currently working toward her GS Gold Award to be completed in time to hopefully march as a banner holder in the 2016 Rose Parade. She had a great time in Austin with her sister, just the two of them unsupervised in the Lonestar State.  Emily is enjoying having her own room, and when she has free time, plays Nancy Drew mystery games on the laptop. She is also starting to think about colleges and the possibilities that await her.

Rita is getting the household ready for the big move to Pine Grove in 2016. Twenty-five years of accumulated stuff will have to be dealt with. The barn built at the property up north is slowly filling up, but Rita made great strides flooring the upstairs mezzanine, one square at a time, all 576 square feet this past November! Some furniture can now make its way up there, which will be challenging given the lack of stairs to the upper level. Girl Scouts is still a major focus in Rita’s life, with Emily working toward her final goal, and helping out with a younger troop whose leader is Rita’s cousin. The Caltrans work continues from the upstairs room over the garage thanks to telecommuting, which will also be the case after the move north. Some health issues did crop up for her this year, but she came through with flying colors, and doing much better now.

Chris started the year on a low note after suffering a minor stroke in March. A bit scary to say the least, but he takes it as a wakeup call. Diet and exercise are given more attention, and Chris is much more cognizant of how lucky he is to have a great family and a happy life. The restoration of the steam locomotive in Portola is going into its ninth year, and will hopefully progress a great deal soon.  Chris’ main focus is getting out of LA in a year and a half and finally making the move to Pine Grove. The barn structure he and his friends put up is all but complete. The latest addition is a deck in front at the level of the second floor, built to resemble a railroad trestle. Work will continue on the property in the spring of next year. Building O scale railroad models is also one of his new interests, something he hopes to continue after the move.

Missy continues to slow down, but still enjoys her daily walks with Rita, and lying in her spot in the backyard waiting for gophers to pop up.

The Allan’s wish each of you a happy and prosperous 2015! Please stay in touch if you can, we love to hear from all of you. We look forward to our last full year here in Lakewood, which should fly by in no time!

All the best,

Chris Rita Anne Emily and Missy the Dog

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Allan Family Christmas Update 2013

Greetings to all of our family and friends!  Once again another year has passed us by.  The day to day pace makes time pass quickly to be sure. 

Chris and Rita continue to prepare for the eventual move to Pine Grove, in the foothills east of Sacramento. The barn, which was delivered as a “kit” was finished up and signed off by Amador County in May. Immediately the overflow from Lakewood started filling it up. A good deal of renovation also was done to the tiny cabin we refer to as the “Boat House” due to its diminutive size. With the help of our friend Paul we were able to re-sheet the interior paneling upstairs and down, as well as new flooring in the restroom, shower area and “living room”. Future plans call for an outdoor/indoor kitchen and Tiki Lounge themed using the items generously bestowed upon us by our friends Ed and Diana Mackinson. The move is still scheduled for summer of 2016, after Emily graduates from Whitney High School.

Rita continues to focus on Girl Scout projects. Her girls have started their Gold Award projects, and in some cases, as in Anne’s, they are all but complete. Emily has selected her project and should have it finished in a year or so. At that point the troop will disband. Rita continues to spend her days upstairs developing construction training courses for Caltrans. She has built a foam box for recording voice-overs to be used in her online courses. Emily does a lot of the voice acting which is good practice for a possible future career. Rita also spends most weekends working at a small scrapbooking store in Bellflower, which gives her some hobby income and affords her time to visit with her group of friends.

Chris has more projects under way than he would like to admit. Work sporadically gets done on projects in Pine Grove, the steam locomotive restoration in Portola, the last of the 15” gauge railway equipment, and building components for a future model railway in “O” Scale. He doesn’t have much down time. Add to that taxiing the kids around, cooking meals, food shopping, etc. he is kept quite busy, and time flies by at a frightening pace for him. He and Rita also managed to paint the exterior of the house as well as scrape the last bit of that gaud awful popcorn texture off the ceiling of the living room in Lakewood. A new concrete driveway, poured by a contractor, as well as new plantings by Rita really helped restore some “curb appeal “ to the place, which will hopefully translate into a better price when it comes time to go on the market in a couple of years.

This year Chris and Rita celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, a real milestone! To celebrate, they dined at Lawry’s Prime Rib in Beverly Hills. This restaurant was on Chris’ “LA Bucket List” of things to do before he leaves, so it was a natural choice. The fare was, as you might imagine, quite excellent.

Anne, now a senior in high school, got to sample college life when she attended the California State Summer School for the Arts, at the Cal Arts campus in Santa Clarita. She spent an entire month sleeping in the dorms, and took art classes 6 days a week for a month. The program is quite prestigious, and we are very proud she made it in. All she needs to do is hang in there for another six months and it is off to college, wherever that may be. There are still several options open to her.  Anne’s driving skills are improving, including learning to drive Rita’s Escape with the stick shift. She hope to finally get her license on her 18th birthday next February.

Emily is in her sophomore year at Whitney, and has a full docket of activities as well. She took part in the school’s Fall stage play of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”. Given a meaty role, with many lines to memorize, she did amazing!  She worked a lot of late night rehearsals and gave it her all.  School keeps her busy with many class projects and clubs. Emily has an active social life as well, she always has friends close by which is a blessing.

Missy our Akita dog is slowing down, but still makes it to the dinner table every night. She still has a good deal of energy and enjoys being around the family and getting her hair everywhere she can!
We will continue moving forward, it is our hope that all of you can do the same. As always we wish for you a happy holiday season, and a happy and prosperous 2014. Keep in touch if you can, we always enjoy getting updates from you all!

All the best,

Chris Rita Anne Emily Missy

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Allan Family Christmas Letter for 2012

Another year has scurried by quickly and just like that, the Holidays are upon us. 2012 brought new experiences for some, progress on our projects, and some happy memories. This year, in an effort to promote the “green” agenda, our Christmas greeting will be electronic, by way of this posting. The truth is sending out cards this year is proving to be difficult given our accelerated lifestyles. Please don’t feel slighted, we love you all just the same! 

Where to begin? Anne and Emily are continuing their school days at Whitney High in Cerritos. Anne is a junior, and Emily started as a freshman. They are both doing well, and more often than not work well into the night on homework to keep up their grades. Rita and the girls continue their Girl Scout careers. A highlight this year was the Girl Scout’s 100th Birthday Celebration at Disneyland, which included a walk down the castle drawbridge with the other girls from their troop. The troop also traveled en masse to Seattle for a week, taking in the sights and displaying their 1960’s era authentic vintage uniforms, which were purchased from various sources, including Ebay and thrift shops.

The girl's troop at the Disneyland Girl Scout Birthday Celebration.
Anne received her learner’s permit to drive, and did some behind-the-wheel time with Dad. She did really well, and when her parents can afford the insurance she will make a fine full time driver. She has also made new friends in conjunction with following a band out of San Diego, Steam Powered Giraffe. These guys are a Steampunk Victorian family-oriented group that plays at the San Diego Zoo, among other venues. Anne is also active in several school clubs, and is continuing art training in her spare time. 

Emily is enjoying school and all her friends; she has an active social life. This year she earned a Presidential Award for Educational Excellence, and we are very proud of her. Her class also went on their east coast field trip over Spring Break, and she got to experience a great deal of history, as well as take in a Broadway show. Her mermaid themed birthday party was a big hit. Luckily it was a pool party, otherwise it would not have made much sense.

Rita continues to tele-commute to Sacramento from the upstairs office. She is designing training courses for Caltrans, her employer, and still enjoys working from home. The Girl Scout troop takes up a good deal of her time, as well as keeping the girls active in their various activities. Rita began painting the house here in Lakewood in preparation for the move north in a few years; hopefully that project will be completed sometime in the spring, Chris plans on helping. A current obsession of her and the girls is visiting thrift shops wherever they travel, and bringing home treasures like vintage clothing, etc. This certainly saves vast sums of money compared to shopping at the mall. Rita spent her 50th birthday at Laguna Beach with the family, including the yearly dose of “culture” at the Pageant of the Masters. Rita is also continuing with her scrapbooking hobby, and enjoys some time away from home with friends who have the same interest.

Off to Seattle!

In the queue for the Haunted Mansion for Dad's 50th.
Chris of course has project ADHD, that is to say, too many irons in the fire. Work continues on the locomotive restoration at the museum in Portola, California, which will hopefully wrap up in the next couple years. His big “push” this year has been putting up a 24 square foot, two story barn at the property in Pine Grove. Although not technically done as of this writing, it is (hopefully!) watertight for the winter. He spent two weeks in November finishing up the exterior with help from his friend Paul, Roger, and our great new Pine Grove neighbor, Mike. More than a few cuts from the sheet metal were bandaged up, many hard lessons were learned, but in the end the result was quite nice. The family will travel back up in the spring to finish it up. 

Chris spent his 50th birthday at Disneyland with Anne and Emily, and had a great time “pub-hopping” with his good friend Ken Eells at various places around the resort. It was a great way to start his second half-century! He has also been working on more parts for his 15” gauge railway parlor car, which will be finished up after the move north. Locomotive #18, a 15” gauge steamer built by Chris, took part in the 60th anniversary of the Redwood Valley Railway in Berkeley, California this past June. Participating was a real treat for Chris and his friends in attendance, to say the least. In his spare time Chris enjoys napping, and occasionally working on some O scale model railroad building. A lot of driving the girls around fills in the rest of his time.

The barn at Pine Grove is almost done!



Missy the dog is still doing well, and although getting on in years, still has a good deal of energy, enjoys her walks, and being around us. She is still as happy as ever. 

A truly busy 2012, and 2013 promises the same. We hope all of you are happy and healthy, if not prosperous. Please continue to try and keep in touch, and we will do the same. Have a wonderful holiday season and a happy, safe 2013! 

Yours in merriment, 

Chris, Rita, Anne, and Emily Allan (Missy too.)

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