A little bit about a lot of things:

• Sometimes the best of plans don’t necessarily work out.....

We learned last week that two events we have been promoting have since been canceled.

I was enthused by plans to bring the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to Gustine this tax filing season. That program (or one similar to it) was popular in Newman for many years, but as far as I know has not been offered locally for quite some time.

Unfortunately, organizers let us know last week that they are not going to be able to bring the program to Gustine this year but are hoping to do so in the future.

I hope that pans out. The program was beneficial to many people, not all of whom can get to a centralized site for assistance. The more services and programs that can be extended to our rural communities the better.

• Update on Gustine Middle School’s new gymnasium....district officials say that the finishing touches are not coming together quite as quickly as hoped (not surprising on a construction project of that magnitude).

Dr. Bryan Ballenger, district superintendent, said the hope now is to be able to play middle school basketball games on the new court in the last week of the month.....even if only partial occupancy is granted at that time and the adjacent stage area is off-limits.

Ballenger said an official grand opening will not take place until February.

We’re told, though, that the new building is getting positive reviews from those who have visited.....can’t wait to see the finished product, and I’m sure the GMS community is even more excited about having the project wrap up.

• We no longer have kids at home, but with a dog and cat in the household we’re not exactly empty nesters either.

I’ve noticed of late that our cat Molly is increasingly wanting to have our attention, particularly in the morning, and is quite insistent about being petted - to the point of head-butting or batting at us with a paw if we are not paying her the proper attention. If we ignore her, the claws start coming out, a little at a time, until we have no choice but to respond.

Makes Zoey, our dog, jealous as all get-out. Sometimes she will just curl up and watch (giving us her sad eyes look). Occasionally she will try to compete for lap space, and then I’ve got a needy feline on one side of my lap and a canine companion wanting my attention on the other.

At other times, Zoey will just show her displeasure by laying down facing away from us, often settling in to her pout with an exaggerated sigh.

Pretty amazing when you think about it.....animals may not talk, but they certainly have ways of communicating and making their wishes and feelings known, don’t they?

And usually they’re persistent enough to get what they want.

Fortunately we get paid back in the unconditional love that dogs provide, the occasional gopher trophy which Molly brings us and her feline knack of knowing when we’re the ones who could use a little attention from our non-human friends.

Each of them has their own way of making us feel better....they are certainly not without their redeeming qualities.

At the end of the day, like all family members, you just have to love them for who they are.

• Is the dream getting real? Sure looks like it, and Niner fans are flying high these days as their favorite team is one win away from punching its ticket to the Super Bowl in Miami.

I am a casual NFL fan at best until this time of year, but it’s hard not to be excited when a local team is on a roll (yes, please make room for me on the bandwagon of fair weather fans).

As a sports fan in general, I have most enjoyed and appreciated the Niners transformation from a seeming train wreck of a franchise far removed from its glory days to a team that has again emerged as a powerhouse more quickly than I ever anticipated.

Who knows where it leads, but for now they play on.....

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.