Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
To write a diary or not? It has been two or three weeks since the last edition and SURELY we've done something interesting. Well, not much it seems. Nevertheless, I will jump in and write my record of things, interesting or not.
Family things, mostly meaning Mamo-things, continue to take up our time. On Easter, Marianne took her to church while I stayed home and fixed a holiday brunch. I seldom fix meals and I have to admit that it was fun and, besides, breakfast is easy! For dessert, we had a video chat with Gabby and the family. Good use of technology.
Marianne continues to work on painting, mostly part of her homework for a course she and her art-buddy Claudia are taking on-line. More good application of technology. We need to make decisions about inclusion of this work in her July showing at Vernissage. More self-imposed pressure.
As for my own "art", I practiced a bit with using the on-camera flash to fill in lighting. Now this is what people do all the time, but it's not so easy to avoid just a washed-out, too-bright picture. Here are a movie-star portrait, and a pair of back yard flowers. Not TOO bad.
Speaking of home work, we have also had a month with "minor" house fixes and improvements. Most ambitious was a change to the guest bathroom toilet. Now, this may fall in your category of "not interesting", but shifting the appliance back a couple of inches was important for me since the previous arrangement was as cramped as a little airplane's facility. Closing the door had been almost impossible. Glad to be rid of that embarrassment.
Marianne also chose to replace the kitchen shades, not something I was worried about, but it's always good to remove irritants to either of us when we can. Of course as soon as we committed to the hundreds of dollars for the new toilet and new shades, our dishwasher failed.
The machine was just five years old, but failed in a manner that the repair guys could not really figure out. They started replacing ALL the replaceable parts, without success. They ran out of supplies and ordered more for the following week. The repair estimate was already several hundred dollars when I called General Electric customer relations and asked if there was a way to limit the cost. For a repair, apparently there isn't, but a new dishwasher was available at a discounted price. We opted for the certainty of complete replacement versus indeterminate repair costs. Still, this early failure and impractical repair will not get a "good technology" rating.
Out in the garden, we are enjoying the prettiest time of the year. Spring comes early around here, and we enjoy roses before the summer heat sets in to fade the early color. Marianne also decided that our raised planting bed could better serve for heat-tolerant flowers than veggies. We will see how summer treats the new approach.
My contribution to the yard included trees and kitschy yard art. Art first, if one can call a cute "It's Five O'clock Somewhere" sign and rustic bar table and chairs "art". I do.
After five years, we finally used our large German porcelain pots to host a pair of Japanese Maple trees, improving the view walking into our yard. These and our new art might make this the nicest part of our back garden!
The new furniture has also allowed Marianne to formalize her art hut patio. Nice look.
Still in the back yard, we added a six-foot Deodar Cedar. These trees are traditional in our neighborhood and can grow to 150 feet tall. The idea is to replace a nearby sickly Deodar so the new tree will be bigger by the time the old one has to be taken down. We'll see how all this timing works out.
The other back yard task was the annual resurfacing of the bocce court. The process includes weeding, several passes with a heavy leveling rake, rolling, and finally covering with a layer of powdered oyster shell. Whew!
In all this garden work, we re-worked the front porch pots, replacing scraggly grass with cute little green asparagus ferns.
Meanwhile the back porch benefits from the annual reemergence of jasmine.
Outside-the-home activity peaked on the first Thursday of May. First was a Fresno City Council meeting concerning the Southern Blackstone Avenue Smart Mobility Strategy. We have been providing citizen input for almost two years to this plan for improving our nearby "main street" and I was on the hook for a two-minute speech. I'll admit I was nervous. In the end, it all worked because the Council approved.
The other Thursday activity was the May ArtHop. Marianne had work on display at Vernissage, so she had to stay there as an artist-on-display. It's fun, I think, because she gets to talk art.
For my part, I took my camera to other venues. I generally hit the same few venues, starting with Fig Tree Gallery. The featured artist was sculptor Manuel Vasaure and his skinny women. Nice work, nicely displayed.
Next door, I checked out Clay Hands Studios. This is a co-op of ceramics artists and Ren Lee's "Old Gods & Reformed Monsters" was the main feature. I love these spooky pieces.
Across the street, I stopped by Robert Ogata's studio. His over-sized pieces are among our favorites in Fresno, maybe THE favorites. I ended up with no pictures, because I spent all my time chatting with Robert. Before he retired and became a successful full-time artist, he was an art teacher and is completely comfortable advising me on photography and passing on words of wisdom to artist Marianne. We need to listen!
The next stop on my standard run is Chris Sorensen's workshop and gallery. He hosts a wide range of folks producing various levels of art and craft quality. Nothing jumped out at me this month, but it was nice to see 94-year-old Chris still making rounds on his three-wheeler. Sorensen and his support of artists is a much-appreciated part of the Fresno art scene.
I also stopped by 1821 Gallery & Studios, but got distracted by running into neighbors Ethan and Blaine. No pictures. Besides, the place was crowded and not particularly photo friendly. I do need to work it into future photography sessions however, because the work on display is excellent.
With that, I returned back to Vernissage to pick up our real house artist. On the way home we stopped by A Sense of Place, another neighborhood gallery, and Marianne ran into a friend, artist Monique Wales. Wales does amazingly detailed block prints. We have even purchased one of her pieces, rare for us.
The next diary will be a small one about a conservancy dinner and about a wine club party. After that, I will start a diary of our babysitting duties, from May 9 to May 19.
John and Marianne