November's First Week

Started November 3, 2019

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

Sometimes these diaries happen because we've done something noteworthy; sometimes because we've gone somewhere interesting; sometimes because I think we need to update our own record-of-life. I think I am starting this one because I need to keep my head busy. Darn elephant.

Friday, November 1.

Because I have no pictures to remind me, I have completely forgotten the first half of the day. Funny how that happens.

LibelulaKim and Mariannecinnamon rollBut I do remember lunch at Libelula's. We believe this is a big-city-worthy hole-in-the-wall, nestled next to the boarded up 1930s Crest Theater. Someone asked me what type of restaurant it is and I was at a loss for a description. How does one classify Marianne's hibiscus tacos? Mexican? Horticultural? Or my Thai mac and cheese? American? Asian? The rest of the menu is equally hard to classify, except perhaps for the co-owner's recommended dessert: "Bigass Cinnamon Roll". Calories enough for the rest of the weekend.

With no post-lunch plans, we headed to one of our favorite art venues: Sorenson's Studios. We peeked in the Klizewski Glass entrance and found Bob Kliss puttering in his colorful kingdom. Bob is a wonderful combination of pleasant and friendly as well as uniquely talented. We may need to adopt one of his glass monsters.

Kliss sign vase monster

(I think I would have bought something, were it not for the three Kliss pieces we have at home)


The rest of Chris Sorensen's empire is a rabbit warren, dozens of artist rabbits. I have not seen Chris himself in the last few visits and I hope, at ninety-something, he's still doing his metal work. His giant camel had a Breast-Cancer-Awareness pink bow. Of course, it reminded us of an elephant.

Chris Chris S camel

photosElsewhere, Marianne was taken by the work of photographer Richard Harrison. The pieces were a combination of photo and painting, imaginative and, like almost everything in the Sorenson warren, inexpensive. We need some big-city buyers to support our local artists.brushes

I got distracted by some old paint brushes. Dale, need more?

FrietasMarianne was also interested in two other local artists. Richard Frietas' naif paintings of our own neighborhood managed to capture the feel of our blocks.

StrommPaul Stromm's bold and colorful acrylics also "jumped off the wall" for our house artist.

There was more, but I can only show a fraction of what the Sorenson rabbit warren holds. Go visit, on ArtHop (first Thursday of the month) if you want crowds and on any other weekday if you don't. We particularly liked our quiet Friday.

Leaving Sorenson's, we drove around in the worst part of Fresno, just south of downtown. Slums, really, it's sobering to see how many people live on the streets or in ancient fall-down little bungalows. Someday, I'd like to get good "street photos" in this area, like Dorothea Lange's Great Depression photos, I suppose.

By now, we were near the downtown Chandler Airport and Marianne wanted to see the place I had talked about last month. The place was even more empty than it had been before. Even the little cafe was closed. We'll be back for breakfast some day.

All was not lost however, because we talked to Joe, the one person in the airport office, and learned about current airport ownership and use. He personally has a small post WWII plane that he enjoys flying and there are a number of flying enthusiasts in the club he runs. He said the flying academy also has three electric planes they are trying to get certified for flight training. Maybe this isn't as old-fashioned an operation as it seems. I asked about photo flights and he said to just contact him. I will.

lobby cafe flightline

Our final stop was antique browsing back in our Tower District neighborhood. No pictures, although there were plenty of photogenic curios and collectibles, if you like those things. Maybe next time.

Our only purchase was a Griswold #5 iron frying pan. It was old enough to be of an era when iron pan surfaces were perfectly smooth and hence much more usable than modern castings. After I got home, I did internet research and found that an authentic Griswold #5 can be worth hundreds, but a reproduction only $5 or $10. I paid between "authentic" and "reproduction" and will choose to believe it's the real deal. (I tried it the next morning for eggs and it was indeed almost Teflon-like. Almost.)

entranceOur Saturday highlight was the Fresno Home and Garden Show. Now, we have no interest in taking on home or garden projects, but it seemed like something that could lighten the day.

tacosWe considered starting with some show food, but could see the pounds going on just from looking. I was tempted by "Intertribal Tacos", just for the Fresno cultural experience. I mean, this IS the taco center of the universe after all and I had never known American Natives had a role in that. Why not?

bulletproofThere were several buildings filled with an altogether odd collection of products and services. The lady selling stylish pepper spray bottles and bulletproof purses and backpacks gathered considerable local interest. I wonder why.sauce

The brother-sister team selling their mother's famous hot barbecue sauce were our favorites. They were so cheerful, and the sauce was so good, that we splurged and bought a bottle.shelves

We also stopped at a display of fancy kitchen cabinet inserts and I thought Marianne might buy something right there. Our 80-year-old kitchen cabinets could benefit from some modernization and a few hundred for more usable cabinets beats a whole kitchen remodel. We'll see.

eye liftliftedThe final vendor that successfully distracted "us" was a young lady offering free eye lifts. Marianne volunteered to have the goop spread on here lower eye lids and swears a miracle happened. Despite this, she passed on buying the miracle cream. Maybe next home and garden show.

The 2019 Fresno Home and Garden Show included a "Tiny House Expo" and we just had to go see what might be possible - you know, when we downsize. (Like never.)

Most units on display were somewhere between a shipping container and a she-shed. Prices varied, but $30,000 to $80,000 seemed to be what was needed to live small. Our favorite was a very small, very hand-made, wooden creation that came with its own troll. Not really. That bearded fellow talking with Marianne was the designer and builder, although he claimed there really was no designing involved. Just building. So it seemed.

tiny expo two tinies shipping containere favorite

There were tons of serious offerings at the home and garden show, but we were just nor seriously interested in much at all. It was a useful two-hour distraction in any event.

Sunday was completely peaceful. I did go to the gym and we both went about normal routines. Normal was reassuring.old roof

I managed a single photo for the day: neighbors Gene and Nancy's century-old house. This week they will entertain Cambridge Avenue with The Great Roof Razing. After 100 years, the old shake shingles will be removed, along with two or three layers of more modern material. It should be a good show, or at least the best one on offer in the neighborhood.

Monday. This ended up being an unplanned photography day, with focus (= pun) on two sides of Cambridge Avenue. First, I spent a few hours watching The Great Roof Razing and then I wandered around our own backyard, clicking. For me, its all therapy.

Here is a gallery of the first day of Gene and Nancy's big roof project. I'm not sure if this is of interest to more than them and me, but others can always just skip quickly. Everything on this website is self-served.

start gear empty bin belts on
planners toss on top back side
shingles climberlthswindow
complexinspectorstools down day's end


On our side of the street, I started with a picture of the artist in her natural environment. Art is her therapy and photography mine. It all works.

Then I looked around our citrus orchard. Most trees are looking pretty good, with colors starting to shift from green to orange and yellow. I recommend landscaping with trees like this because they are always green, sometimes with orange/yellow dots, and winter-time harvest is always fun and fruitful (=pun again).

row treespommellosorange treeorange

Elsewhere in our back yard, the flowers are finishing up. They are generally good subjects for practicing Leica close-ups. Even the heavily-cropped centers seem interesting to me, and not too "grainy". Again, viewing is your choice.

daisydaisy detail
blueblue centerblue bud
pink rosepink detail
yellow roseyellow detasil
pink rosepink detail

Tuesday started with a trip to "the office" and lots of picture and diary processing from Monday. Marianne stopped by for her favorite Starbucks breakfast, decaf cappuccino and egg-white egg-bites. This is a routine I find more productive than being surrounded by the distractions of home and it's one we can continue on the long road trips we are going to take again, once some hurdles are out of the way. Hurdles, that's all.

From there, I went to the gym and on errands, while Marianne did a range of errands including a visit with her mom. Keeping busy is good, but I'm sure she'd prefer painting in her little art hut and I'd rather be taking interesting pictures. After the next hurdle.

I used the neighbor's roof project as a photography distraction. On just the second day, the workers were sheathing the back side, but there is still lots of open roof. Gene was busy in his wood shop making parts to replace a sagging area of roof eaves. After a century, there is remarkably little rot and sagging, a tribute to the clear, heavy timbers of a by-gone era.

sheath up sheath on Gene

trashday end

By the end of the day, the guys had cleaned up and sent away their fourth load of scrap. The old house was looking a little bare, but still presentable, even elegant. Good bones.


Wednesday. Up early again, but staying home to clean the yard a bit and then try normal chores - gym, shopping, etc. We got word that we will need to be at Kaiser at 6:00 tomorrow morning. It will be hard to ignore the elephant today, but I will remember my mom's favorite phrase whenever we moped around home too much: Go outside and play.

leavesChores helped. California and Fresno don't really have four season, but over a few weeks our backyard trees turn Fall colors and drop leaves. For those weeks, my only goal is to fill our green trash can, since that determines the extent of raking and cleaning I am able to do productively.

After that it was a trip to the hardware store, the Fresno State "farmers" market, and my gym. All routine. All good therapy. All meeting mom's criteria of "outside."

Mid-afternoon we went out to Kaiser for injection of a radioactive tracer that will help with the lymph node extraction tomorrow. Every one of these procedures makes breast cancer more real.

roof endAfterwards, I continued to "go outside" and checked in with the neighborhood construction project for a single end-of-the-day picture. All the shingles are off now and maybe a quarter of the roof area is closed with plywood sheathing. No rain in the ten-day forecast, an advantage of global warming?

Marianne and I went out for tapas at Mochuelo's, a favorite stop for interesting small plates. The calories are NOT small, but we are worrying less about that nowadays. Priorities, you know.

I don't know if I will keep up a "live feed" here on Thursday, but I will try. Keeps my head busy.

We need to be awake at 3:30am for a pre-surgery protein drink and will leave home two hours later. The one- to two-hour surgery is scheduled to start at 8:00. Home in the afternoon.

4:15 We were awake before the alarm. I'd slept well, but Marianne had trouble due to ichyness from the skin disinfectant. She's finished her protein drink on schedule and now all we have to do is wait.

waiting5:55 At hospital, waiting for Surgery Waiting to open. Each of us doing diaries.

6:30 Signed in.

6:40 Marianne called in for preparation.


7:50 Visited with Marianne in preop. Her team is all assigned and she was warm and calm. Surgeon and anesthesiologist checked in and explained details. All very reassuring.

7:55 Wheeled away to Operating Room.

flight board9:02 Drinking coffee and waiting for the "flight board" for #392524 to change. The volunteer said watching doesn't make it change, but I'm not sure. I will check in another half-hour.

9:20 Live music in the waiting hallway. Nice. No change in #392524 status. The volunteer was right, watching the board does not help.closing

9:45 Status for Marianne changed to "Closing". Hopefully Dr. Hill will come out soon with info.


recovery10:12 Marianne is in recovery. As promised, Dr. Hill came out to give a brief. As luck would have it, I chose that moment to go to the rest room. Phone report promised. And I should be able to see the groggy patient soon.

10:35 Doctor gave me a report. Operation went as planned. The tumor was a bit larger than originally estimated, but not significantly. Two lymph nodes ("sentinel nodes") also removed. Analysis of all this will take a week or so. Meanwhile, she needs to heal.

10:40 Marianne is sleeping. The volunteer will check again in 15-20 minutes to see if I can visit.

11:30 I was able to visit a groggy Marianne. Looks like she just had an operation. In the twenty minutes I was there, she was gradually waking up. No Zumba yet, but hopefully mobile enough for the trip home in an hour or two. Gabby is with her now.

discharge2:15 Marianne was discharged about 1:30 and now we are all home. She's tired, but doing well.

And this marks the end of "November's First Week".

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne