Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
This is a family diary, no important tourist attractions, but a good place for memories anyway.
Around home, not too much has been happening, at least before Gabby decided to drive over. More on that later. Mostly, we have been busy preparing for Marianne's July show at Vernissage, our neighborhood art gallery. You just MUST come.
She also had a quick art-teacher session with "grand nephew" Zaiden. Good student. Good teacher.
Otherwise it has been business-as-usual: almost daily Marianne visits with Mamo, frequent trips to our gyms, required shopping, required garden watering (summer is back and so is worry about water), etc.
On one of my gym visits, I noticed they were tearing out and throwing away the floors of a couple of racquetball courts. I could not pass up the nice hardwood pieces so I loaded the Jeep with no particular project in mind. Fortunately, Marianne's outside work bench was falling apart, so I could slap together a replacement. Now I need to convince neighbor Jon that HE needs to make somethings.
This brings us to Father's Day. I received one phone call, one very nice card, and one visit: all from the same "child*", however. Brian's card arrived late as did his realization that he did not have a current phone number. (* each son or step-daughter will be forever referred to as "child", no matter.)
Now, that visit. At the last minute, Gabby had figured out a way to drive over to Fresno late on Father's day, with Ava, Sam, and Charli. They had already had celebrations with Mamal, and then with his dad, so it was almost 9 pm before they made their third Dad's Day. Nonetheless, everyone was full of cheer and smiles.
The only "event" we squeezed in was a preview of Marianne's art show. We pulled out each of the abstract works on paper, and asked for favorites. I think everyone had a different choice, but all pieces got rave reviews. (You ARE coming to the July 11 opening, aren't you?)
On Monday our whole crew moved over to Mamo's, mostly to visit her, of course, but also because she has better air conditioning and a pool. Fresno summer has not been bad, yet. Even on this day, we hardly went past 100F.
Sam had also brought along his putting green so he could keep up his golf game. Both he and Ava are on golf team at their club and Sam is the youngest (and smallest) of the boys. It seems both the kids have abandoned soccer and basketball for tennis, golf, and, in season, skiing. This seems like part of getting older.
Chit chatting was the other popular poolside activity. Ava and Gigi are particularly good at it and that kept them busy until dinnertime. As I recall, we ordered take-out from Cheesecake Factory. (No pictures and, hence, my weak memory is all I can go on. Not reliable.)
After dinner, the grown-ups continued talking, but the kids hit the pool again. They can spend hours in there, sometimes arguing and sometimes being the best of friends. We all hope the good-brother-good-sister part continues as they approach and enter their teens, just a few years away.
After Tuesday breakfast, it was time to hit the local "nickel" arcade. We had not tried the place before and it was a hit, even if more than nickels were required. The first games played were car and motorcycle races. These seemed fun, but not as addictive as other activities and the brother-sister competition may have been distracting.
While driving-skill development held attention for awhile, pretty soon both kids migrated to the flashy lights of the slot-machine-like games. For these, depositing nickels was rewarded by tickets, sometimes just one or two, but sometimes a stream of twenty or thirty. One game even had a 1,000 ticket pay-off, but we did not hit that one.
At the end, Ava and Sam could trade their tickets for little prizes. I'm not sure the exchange of nickels for the prizes was a cost-efficient process, since Opa spent far more than the little things were worth, but the smiles coming out were worth every penny/nickel/dollar. We will be back.
Back home at Mamo's, we all managed lunch and then a bit of "screen time". The theory is that screen time should be limited, but it's a hard practice when away from home and not surrounded with normal distractions. Sam is currently in a share-everything-with-Mom phase, so monitoring what is on his screen is easy enough. (Charli would also share her screen, if she was allowed one.)
Gigi organized an art contest. It's a teacher sort of thing to do and a distraction from iPhones and iPads. Like good students anywhere, we all enjoyed the competition. I was the judge, an easy job with no loss of pride for not finishing first.
After the art contest, Ava got out her mom's makeup kit and gave Gigi and her mom facial treatments. I suppose this is the beginning of Ava using makeup herself, and it struck me as yet another sign that the little girl is growing up. It happens bit by bit.
For dinner, we ordered takeout from Cheesecake Factory, one of our normal options for dinner with Mamo and one that offers enough choices for guests. Afterwards, it was more time for talking, iPhones, and iPads. No television, partly because the house has limited cable, but also because we all kind of enjoyed just hanging around in the living room. Mamo doesn't do the iPhone/iPad part, but she does enjoy the "hanging out" activity. That, after all, was the whole purpose of the trip.
Wednesday was a slow-start day. Gigi and I had stayed over so the kids had been pushed out to the living room hide-a-bed and that allowed for lounging without missing other family discussion.
Gigi-prepared breakfast featured palascintas. The Hungarian crepes are a favorite and REQUIRED for at least one of the family breakfasts on any visit. I think Ava, Sam, and Mamo each ate five or six.
The last trip activity was pictures. Memories.
The family packed up and drove off, promptly at 10am. Charli was eager to get going, the rest of us less so. It was a nice visit and we could not help but wonder when the next one might be possible.
"Don't be sad because it is over, be glad that it happened."
John and Marianne
Post Script flowers, just because if I don't post flower pictures, I don't get to take them.