Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
More diaries, more or less day-by-day ones, because a history-professor friend says these are historic times and we all should have a record of how it affects us. Fine with us, we've recorded our lives for 21 years, historically valuable or not. Nevertheless, I seem to have lost my past regimen of doing these things each and every day. Why is it that, with so much more uncommitted time, I can't find enough?
April 15th, Day 33 of stay-at-home
A problem with writing diaries with a several day delay is that I have forgotten everything that wasn't photographed. I emptied the cameras and found a picture of my desk, so I must have been writing something or reading news or looking at photography YouTubes or getting further rumors about my "new" Cybertruck. That's pretty much all my desk-days. On the truck, it is still at least 18 months before Mr. Musk and his Tesla crew should build it, but I am getting prepared. Hopefully, by then the stay-at-home order will be over.
My camera also revealed that I started a jig saw puzzle, something I hadn't attempted in decades. The desperation of detention.
April 15th, Day 33 of stay-at-home
Now this day was actually one I remember, because it was far more active than other stay-at-home days. After breakfast, we went shopping. Food shopping, it's legal. The first stop was Gibson Farm Market, the Fresno State University agricultural school outlet that provides us raisins, almonds, or anything that is in season. Today, it was just raisins, but the best in the world, really. After that, we hit the Vineyard Farmer's Market, again local production only. This was the first shopping Marianne had done in over a month, so it does qualify as historic.
Inspired by fresh food from our farmers, we drove west a few miles into San Joaquin Valley vineyards and orchards. We pretended these were the rolling hills and valleys of Provence or Tuscany or the Mosel River Valley. OK, not so much rolling, but we have good imaginations after 33 days in lock-down.
We pulled over into the closest thing we could get to rural park land and broke out a late-morning snack. No wine to sip, it was morning after all, but fruit, raisins, and baked goods were enough to maintain the European flavor. I took pictures of the new growth on very old vines on one side of our picnic grounds and of a mature almond orchard on the other. Very Fresno.
After all this excitement, we returned home refreshed and actually enjoyed getting back to our new-normal patterns. As I recall, I puttered in the garden, maybe inspired by all that farm land. Marianne returned to her art hut, with her own inspiration. She broke away for an hour or two to prepare another great meal, served on the patio. This time of year is absolutely perfect for outdoor dining, warm enough and before the invasion of mosquitoes and bugs.
April 16th, Day 34
On Thursday, I took another try at change: I walked at dawn instead of mid-day. Really breaking out. It was a nice difference, with even more empty streets and sidewalks. One feature of lock-in has been chalk messages of encouragement on sidewalks. Kind of civic-minded graffiti.
By the time I came back, Marianne was busy getting inspiration from on-line classes. It's an interesting process, one that keeps giving her more tools and techniques to do the abstracts she wants to do. It seems to me that sometimes the classes produce a usable piece, and other times they just contribute to parts of other works. Nothing is wasted (except maybe those whimsical people from last week.)
On the way to the studio, she stopped to take a picture in the rose garden. A peach-colored rose reminded her of one of her earliest paintings, a large open rose currently hanging above our bed.
I also took a few garden shots:
The other excitement we have in our closed-in life is a new pair of doves nesting over our back porch. We had a pair a year ago, and we watched all through the hatching and first flights of their pair of little chicks. Those parents were more calm however, and were never disturbed by our comings and goings, inches from the nest. This year's mother is much more nervous and flitters off when we use the door. Good bird people that we are, we have shifted to the side door instead.
April 17th, Day 35
Another day, more excitement. I watched a pigeon peck for bugs. Neighborhood kids put up "heroes" signs. I tried to write or read or to do anything productive, but largely failed. I did find some birds in the back yard and got some decent close-ups, focusing on moving eyes, as one should do with wildlife photography.
I'm not sure what else we did, but a camera did record yet another good barbecue dinner. At least we are eating well in our home captivity.
By staying up late, I finished my puzzle. Here's proof.
Somewhere along the day, I took way too many flower pictures again. Oh well, I like them and it's my show after all.
April 18th, Day 36
I wonder what we did? I have no pictures and, three days later, I have no memories. We're not drinking much lately, so that's not the problem. Mostly, it's just that the daily repetition of our limited range of activities yields little or nothing noteworthy. So, that's my only note for the day.
April 19th, Day 37
We resolved to go for a Sunday drive, but a small one, so we could not be caught violating the stay-at-home order. Actually, who's checking?
Our first destination was Fresno-Yosemite International Airport, although I think the "International" part of the name isn't valid right now, since all the flights to and from Mexico have been canceled. We drove past the departure and arrival gates and all we saw were a couple of security people and a pair of empty taxis. Rumor has it there are a few flights a day, but mostly empty. On the far side of the airport, we parked in a no-parking area and took a few pictures of a score of parked airplanes from United, Alaska, and American Airlines. When will they fly again?
Next on our big Sunday drive was a stop at the strawberry field and farm stand in Clovis, a few-acres squeezed between car dealers and big box stores. (all closed) We come here every Spring because they have the best strawberries in a valley and state with all kinds of berry farms. The best part is that the berries are picked ripe, too ripe to ship more than a few hundred feet, but perfect for us at the fruit stand.
And that was it for our Sunday drive. I think it took only about an hour before we were back following orders to stay at home and just like the day before, my memories of the most of the day are blank. I did have one pictures on the iPhone from an afternoon walk, with one wildlife picture. Still keeping in practice for some future safari. When?
April 20th, Day 38
Monday started with a 6:30 am trip to Smart & Final, our local grocery store. In normal times, we don't shop much here, because it has limited selection and often very long lines at the cash register. Times are different. Many places have limited selection and this time, most of "Smartie's" shelves were full - enough. Early in the morning, there were absolutely no lines. (Our Monday re-supply was aided by neighbor Blain, who got some special items for us at Whole Foods, a richer part of the food chain than Smart & Final. Thanks.)
Back at home, Marianne had a 7:30 "class" with artist-friend Claudia, one student in Fresno and the other in Carson City, Nevada. The on-line material originated in Montana, as I recall. Our artists are very much into this new distance learning thing. They stayed at it for three hours! This has been a great opportunity for them to share both art insights and gossip.
My day was more of the normal: eat, walk, read, watch a little television. Our backyard remains a nice place to wander through, with the roses at their peak. Soon, Fresno heat will arrive and the flowers will go into a sort of summer hibernation, where the blossoms are far fewer and quite a bit smaller.
One chore we did record: my new haircut. Throughout America, barbers and hairdresser are closed, of course. Marianne has her own solution, and for me I am not too fussy, but it had finally become time to get my fringe under control. She snipped gingerly for an hour and produced a reasonable trim.. Another career?
Dinner was inside this day, so I guess that's why I did not take a food picture, but I do remember it was as good as most have been in our new regime.
After dinner, I cleaned the table while Marianne went back to her art studio. There are times where she has painting ideas floating around that need to be captured, sometimes on the canvas and sometimes in notes. Her art work has really been a blessing, both for the satisfaction of it and the ability to carry on despite troubling current times.
April 21st, Day 39
No big plans for today and that's about how it ended up. Almost.
After morning chores and a phone call or two to family and friends, Marianne went to the Art Hut and I went for a walk, hoping to make 10,000 steps today to make up for lazier days earlier this week. I walked down to our local business district, "The Tower", to see what might be happening. Not much. A few stores that nominally sell groceries were open. I'm not sure why The Dollar Store gets to sell a little food and lots of stuff when regular "stuff stores" must close. This is just one of the difficulties in making rules.
Coming back, I snapped a few pictures of houses down in this district. One was a small one, owned by Tim, a plumber and cartoonist and art hanger. He did some work for us and clearly was very proud of his century-old bungalow. (Actually, I think it pre-dates the term "bungalow".) Justifiably. The other two house I show are big ones in an area called "Wilson Island" from when it was a rich enclave, just north of the Tower District bungalows. There is currently a fight going on between the owner of the very formal light-blue home and the owner who painted his house a ... unique purple. I like our area because it's just like a small town, including feuds.
After completing most of my walk, I stopped to chat with neighbors. I am getting tired of this distance-thing, especially at times like this. Normally, I would go up on the porch, interrupt their lunch, and have an interesting conversation. Now, we have to stay back and sorta yell at each other. Not "harsh yell", just enough to be heard and to make the conversation less pleasant.
Along my walk, I took yet more flower pictures. I keep adding flower pictures because pretty soon, the hot summer will arrive, and colorful flowers will get bedraggled.
Back home I tidied up the yard, especially the back yard and bocce court. I keep thinking this has to be nice for guests, but of course there are no guests anymore. I'm tired of that too.
Marianne kept busy as she usually does, including a nice lunch-dinner. We started with corn chips and white wine, and lots of good conversation. We finished with thes quick dessert. Darn good, all of it.
From the patio dinner table, we also had a view of the local wildlife feeding. I suppose this is the same as the viewing from dining porches of those expensive African safaris, just smaller animals.
Marianne also spent much of the day on art: rearranging her studio, painting a little, and, in the evening, practicing "Zentangle", small-scale art for when all else seems too much. It's very therapeutic.
So, for an unplanned day, it went well enough. Marianne's art and my photography help, even if diaries may end up with too much of both.
We settled down in bed at a usual 9:30 or 10:00. Marianne called Gabby to say good night. Then the call was interrupted. (Remember that "almost" up in the first paragraph?)
Marianne's heart decided to beat fast and irregularly. The last time this happened, she ended up in the Kaiser Medical Center for four days. That was just at the beginning of this COVID-19 stuff and we certainly did not want to return to the Emergency Department now. Fortunately, a couple of extra heart pills, an hour or so of waiting, and her heart settled down enough for us to fall asleep. The problem had gone away when she woke up a few hours later.
It's ALL wearing on both of us.
I'll close this diary now and I don't know what will be next.
John and Marianne