Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
As I start yet another diary, I wonder what to do. Our day-to-day is pretty uninteresting, but we still will value a record -- some day. I will try to be brief, not always my normal style, but I have decided to add a history element, our history as told in old diaries. While not as exciting as Magdalena's Chapters of air raid sirens and refugee struggles, we have been formed by our last two decades and may need to look in our wake to see which way to push the tiller in today's rough seas.
April 22, Day 40 of stay-at-home
A very regular day, mostly. Diary writing and photography for me and painting for Marianne. Marianne's heart stayed regular. Neighbors Annie and Ellen brought strawberries and lasagna, respectively. Thanks, even if receiving food-for-the-elderly has a bit of a melancholy taste.
I argued with neighbor Joan about Cambridge gatherings on her front porch. I miss the camaraderie, but we old-and-compromised are just in a different situation, one that may be hard to recognize. Oh well, I'll change my walking path to avoid any future discussion of the wisdom of drinking-on-porches-during-pandemics
And that was day 40.
For John and Marianne history, I will point back almost 22 years, to our flight to Kiev, Ukraine. It was September, 1998, and we left Gabby in the deep end of the pool, filled a couple dozen boxes of our stuff, and landed in a country far, far away. Four years later, we would look back and ask the question, "Was it worthwhile?". Brave or foolhardy, I still can't tell.
April 23, Day 41
More of the same, but we had the excitement of getting my shirts from the cleaners and buying flower plants at Gazebo Gardens, an "essential" store by California standards. Dinner was "out", that's on the patio of course, and I walked while Marianne painted. My current favorite hiking trail was Fresno City College, where the statue of student gymnasts and the study tables were from another era. After dinner and dessert, I worked on another puzzle, a thousand pieces that will take me a long time.
And that was Day 41.
History again from the old Kiev days, this time from a note back to friends and relatives assuring them we had plenty of food available in quaint shops. Check out the butcher's wares, laid out on the counter for Marianne's approval. Despite it all, we remained healthy.
April 24, Day 42
A plain and regular day: walk early and late, with camera, breakfast and dinner on the patio, chores, art (Marianne), and photography (John). Our big event was a take-out meal from Westwoods BBQ & Spice Co., a burger for me and ribs for Marianne. This was actually our first "restaurant" (take out) meal in 43 days.
And that was Day 42
Our last history show from1998 is the diary I recorded of my last visit with my mom. I still remember driving away, knowing Bim and I would never see mom again, something I have replayed in my head a hundred times.
April 25, Day 43
Up early for a dawn walk and pictures, including a sleepy Ethan walking their new dog. Then home for a patio breakfast. The day was unremarkable, although Marianne did learn how to make her own graphite for her art. We seem to need new skills every day. I killed hours on the puzzle, a torture device we brought back from Germany. For a break, I took a pictures of a cactus flower from Klare and three sides of a climbing white rose. The three-sides thing was practice at a technique from my current on-line photography course. We need to learn a little every day. Hopefully.
And that was Day 43
History: While in Kiev, we took three Spring Break trips to Turkey, first to Antalya on the coast, and then Istanbul in 2000 and 2001. Our home and minds are still filled with memories from those visits.
April 26, Day 44
This morning we checked on our resident dove and she's OK. From there is was breakfast out, or at least a trip to Panera's to pick up cinnamon rolls to bring home to the patio. Somewhere in here, I took more pictures of red roses. I am trying to beat the wilting that overwhelms them when Fresno heat arrives, as it will in a week or two. I wonder how stay-at-home will be when outside isn't comfortable anymore.
We had a Zoom meeting with Dr. Carole Goldsmith, President of Fresno City College. She described how, in the span of days, they have shifted 2,500 classes from in-person to on-line. Hats off to Carole and the staff and students at the next door facility. (She reached out to our neighborhood because FCC will start testing community members for undiagnosed and undetected COVID19. The test site will be at the end of our street, so we will volunteer to be tested.)
And that was Day 44
History. On Saturday, April 26th, 1986, Chernobyl Unit #4 exploded. Twenty-three years later, I found myself standing on top of the most hazardous place in the world. Marianne and I returned to the Exclusion Zone a year later, two trips that will always remain with us.
April 27, Day 45
After a good breakfast at home, leftovers - like the French do, we brought Marianne out to Kaiser Medical Center. No biggie, just a couple of physical therapy sessions on her shoulders. While waiting, I stopped by Dick's Sporting Goods (an "essential" business in California) and saw that they had sold out all home exercise gadgets. Oh well, no exercise. Back home it was another good patio meal, with dessert. We pushed back from the table, and went to our corners: Marianne to the art hut and me to my puzzle, before I headed out for a short walk and pictures.
And that was day 45
History: Outside of work, buying a flat (Apartment, in American English) and having it turn into a showpiece was a highlight of our time in Kiev.
April 28, Day 46
I started with a 4.5k(kilometer) walk through the neighborhood I am really getting to know. The morning light was nice, so I went overboard on pictures. I have included 20 small thumbnails of such tourist attractions as neighbor Bill's fence, neighbor Hazel and Ruthie the new dog, Fresno City College crowds, a family I met on their morning Corona-walk, flowers (notice the Coronavirus?), and wildlife (bugs, birds, and one wide-eyed squirrel.)
The rest of the day was as-usual; good meals, puzzle-time, diary-writing, reading, painting (Marianne), and Netflix movies (Marianne again.) The days are remarkably filled. Project Baseline, the long-term health study we participate in, now surveys me for COVID19 symptoms daily. No symptoms. We also had long-lost friends (Bob, in Florida, and Theresa in Germany) reach out to us. Nice.
And that was Day 46.
History. Marianne's first breast cancer diagnosis was not in 2019, it was in 2001. Back then, we "med evac'd" from Kiev to Helsinki, Marianne was thoroughly examined, and she was given a clean bill of health. Eighteen years later, it's more complicated..
April 29th, Day 47
This Wednesday started with a short morning walk. I need to start every day this way. Then came our BIG EVENT: shopping at The Market and CVS, Marianne's first excursion into stores since this whole stay-at-home started. After breakfast, I had a photography course via the International Leica Society, one of a number of on-line photography events that have sprouted up because photographers world-wide have to stay home. After that I got calls from sons Geoff and Brian with their nothing-is-new updates. Good to hear.
Meanwhile, Marianne had her Wacky Wednesday Facetime class with Ava and Sam and then we enjoyed our first Zoom cocktail hour with Gabby, Adrienne, and Tony. Fun, but I needed an evening walk to recover from the first alcohol in a week.
And that was Day 47.
History: Never did being American have such meaning. September 11, 2001, Kiev, Ukraine.
April 30, Day 48
Another nothing special day. I gave the gardner-team instructions. Five minutes. I listened to photographer Alan Schaller on-line at the Leica Academy. An hour-and-a-half listening in to real professional photographers' talk. Schaller specializes in black & white and does amazing work. Interesting, but above my level by a mile! Another good dinner, and a small walk around the garden to take pictures, including of a giant red blossom from a humble cactus we got from Monterey Mamo. Marianne joined me on my evening walk. She's getting braver, or more bored.
And that was Day 48
History: After a no-cancer diagnosis and after 911, we left Kiev to drive around Western Europe. For months. Because we all only live once.
We now start another month. May usually sees the Fresno weather shift from wonderful to threats of real summer, perfect time to head up into the Sierras. Not this year. So, what will we do?
John and Marianne