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This time 'Christmas' is personal Richard Pena | Sat, Oct 20 2012 12:00 PM

"Christmas in October!"  What a beautiful sounding phrase.  And it happened at my house.  This past weekend we saw a bevy of Kiwanians in work clothing take over portions of my neglected house and yard and raise them to the standards that they have not seen in years.

The Christmas in October concept is something that has been one of the projects of the Bonita Kiwanias for some years. Mike Gailband, a fellow Kiwanian and also a resident of Sweetwater Manor saw some obvious neglect on my premises and I became one of the subjects for the work of the service club.  I, for example, had a half dozen or so oleander plants lining my property line on one side that had been doing their job for some  50 years.  Here of late a disease has invaded the plants — county wide I understand — and they have been dying off.  It is said that oleanders emit a poisonous resin.  Perhaps they have ingested their own toxins.  In any event the plants were removed and are on their way to an unknown resting place.

The work also included the repair and painting of my red barn’s deck.  I have mentioned this deck in years past.  It is the place where I used to often sit with my late wife, Zula, and watch the birds, particularly my old friend, Henry, the squawking raven.  An expert craftsman, Bob Chicca, replaced some of the bad timbers, did a bit of cosmetic magic, applied a coat of paint and I will no doubt spend more time there ruminating about things past and, hopefully, some things in the future.

Gailband, also an expert handyman, patched up some spots in the house, you know, the type of things that sometimes happens to stucco walls.  I had a glaring hole in my bedroom, and the adjoining bathroom had its share of damage.  Thanks to the repairing ability of Gailband I now have a living space that would do justice to one of those colorful catalogues that we oftentimes get in the mail.

The club president, Mike Kilman, sort of surprised me when he informed me that our smoke and fire detectors had expired sometime around the turn of the century, and he would not say which century.  I suppose I thought that such things should last a lifetime and I was very wrong.  I learned that they should be replaced every two or three years.

The real work, however, was a general cleanup on the outside.  Those things that I used to do as routine have, rather sadly, been neglected quite badly.  As a result most of the members of the club were busily filling those large containers that Allied Waste will send out on request.  There were fellows like Bill Sears, John Orsini. Vern Von Sydow, Charles Bailey, Emerald Randolph, Randy Bellamy, and Daniel Martin filling the containers and readying them for pickup.  There was also some aid from Carter Gailband, a grandson who wields a mean broom and rake.

I was, of course, very grateful for what the Kiwanis did. The concept of Christmas in October is a sound one. Over the years there has been many a family in the South Bay that has benefitted from what a group of caring individuals may do for them.

Gailband asked me if I had any other projects in mind where assistance might be needed. I am due to take a driver’s test at DMV sometime in November. I don’t suppose that one of them…Naw!  I’d never get away with it.

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