Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
Since the last diary about our visit to family up in Truckee, not much has happened. In fact, so little has been happening that nothing rose to the level of remarkable-enough-to-bother-writing. Of course, this quiet is not new. Over the 20+ year course of trotter.ws MOST of our time has been quiet, but we now expect at least some record, just for comparison perhaps, hence this for-the-record diary.
Back in Germany, when the Fourth of July came along, we almost always had a big barbecue in our backyard or, if it was rainy which it often was, in the barn. Here in Fresno, we've generally done the same, except of course for the lost Covid year. In 2021, our accommodation to local weather was to have a morning brunch instead of an afternoon BBQ, since Fresno gets pretty warm in July, even early July. At least we knew we did not need to have a plan for rain.
Preparing for a gathering of a couple dozen neighbors was not easy, since the backyard had not been cleaned and trimmed since before the pandemic. Scheduling a party was great incentive and we got to use that big patio table we bought just as the pandemic kept out any visitors.
This was our first "large" gathering since before Covid (and even months earlier, due to the elephant or two in our lives before that) so it was fun to gather and greet and hug and chat like in the olden days. Almost all the neighbors showed up, except those with summer houses at local lakes where their tradition is cooler.
The next day we drove down to Monte Sereno, not to see the grandkids since they were up at their mountain home, but for a haircut. Really. Deb has been doing Marianne's hair for forty years, at least when we have been in America, and driving down and back seemed to make sense.
We also had time to visit Gabby's father-in-law Manou in the care center where his fight continues. It seems we are being confronted with the difficulty of end-of-life and of end-of-life decisions more and more now-a-days. Intellectually, it's clear this is simply a fact of our own aging and that of our "cohort", but it causes us to pause and reflect emotionally. Inevitability is hard.
Back home, we resumed a quiet life. Marianne tried to get back to spending time in the art studio, but the summer heat chased her out of the little refuge, despite the small air conditioner. For myself, the heat pushed me inside, to more reading and working on a new 1,000-piece puzzle. Reading is good. Puzzle-making is a serious distraction. Tesla YouTubes (for me) and Netflix (for Marianne) also use up our inside time. Interestingly, the televisions still stay off, mostly, ever since we discovered on our road trip that we don't need THAT distraction.
Starting about July 8th, local temperatures moved up to an even-hotter level. Our air conditioning service company came by, evaluated our old system, and said it was actually in pretty good shape. I hope he was right. Because of the heat, we had three days in a row where the electric power rates caused us to stop the cooling system between 2 and 7 pm and one day when PG&E threatened everyone with rolling black outs.
And the governor requested a 15% cut in water usage until further notice. We may need to sacrifice the green in our lawn, but I hope we can save the trees and bushes and flowers. To remind us of where we live, there was also an earthquake that was close enough to shake the house, but far enough away that we saw no local damage.
Over a Saturday patio breakfast, we tried to re-plan our lives. The breakfast was fine, but the re-planning was not. With Mamo gone, our firm anchor to stay in Fresno is gone, but what are the options? Million- and multi-million dollar homes near the California coast are impractical or, mostly, impossible. Moving to another "reasonable" place seems more trouble than it is worth, probably. The medium-term prospect of moving, makes me reluctant to spend more on the current place, but that makes the current place less acceptable.
Short-term planning is complicated by reality. We have recurring medical appointments. Marianne wants more art studio time, although we both want to travel. Can we even leave the old house for weeks or months at a time? We have a short visit to the Bay Area this month and, hopefully, a return to Oregon, Washington, and Idaho in September, but more than that? A many-month trip across America? And what about after-Covid Europe? Nothing is clear.
With nothing decided, Marianne went off to Santa Cruz for a girls' birthday celebration, if 75-year-olds can still be called girls. She did send pictures, which I can repeat, and told stories I can not. What happens in Santa Cruz, stays in Santa Cruz.
This was one of the few times in years that we'd been apart and it was a bit strange. Of course, for most of our thirty years together, separation for work or family visits was de rigueur, so what's the big deal? Anyway, I stayed busy with "the normal": a new puzzle, books, newspapers, and YouTube. I enjoyed the warm Fresno summer, while the Santa Cruz high temperature was about 40 degrees cooler!
On Monday the 12th I needed to do some chores and more regular stuff, nothing remarkable, but this is a diary made from nothings. I delivered the Sunday NY Times to neighbor Vern and stayed to chat about world and local happenings. Our preferred venue for such discussions is the front porch, but Fresno heat arrives far too early in the morning for that.
Otherwise, it was just hanging around until Marianne returned to tell me stories about her coastal visit. Everything seemed to go fine, including her first solo drive in the electric Tesla. I'm not sure our pre-trip training was complete, but I was able to provide call-center help with the car's navigation system.
On Tuesday morning I had an appointment with the Tesla Service Center for a couple largely-cosmetic repairs. The fix-it list had originally had four items, but the last two seemed too vague to warrant investigation and will fall into the category of wait-for-things-to-break. Without scheduled maintenance for oil changes, that seems to be the process for Teslas to visit the service shop. OK with me.
While at the store, a truck unloaded a new Model S - Plaid. (The name is a reference to the Spaceballs movie scene where the ship is moving so fast that stars streak past, making a sort of plaid pattern.) The S-Plaid is reportedly the fastest production sedan in the world. Our "Y" is fast enough that I can't imagine even faster.
That evening, we attended a local government meeting, this time a hearing for a new neighborhood business, "Moto", that was seeking a beer and wine license. This might not be remarkable in most towns, but here it was. The store would be right across the street from Fresno High School, so the prospect of alcohol sales attracted attention. However, 95% of neighbors were so delighted to have a new attraction in the area, that the hearing was super positive. We wish the new owner all the luck.
Wednesday morning breakfast was on the patio, since Fresno was enjoying a cool spell where it stayed below 90F at least until 9:00am. It will be months before we can enjoy dinner outside.
Off on the side, our latest dove-parent huddled inside her sheltered nest. This time of year, I think she cools the eggs, rather than keeps them warm.
My only other accomplishment for the day was declaring victory over my latest puzzle. That's not the same as actually completing the task, since significant parts proved so unmarked and monochromatic that it was impossible to fit them together. I don't think I've ever given up on a puzzle before, but there's always a first time. (Does anyone else want to try?)
Marianne's major task of the day was a Zoom-call from our health study people. It was time for her "annual" interview concerning health status. Covid had prevented the 2020 interview, so she needed to cover two-years worth of health history, since August of 2019. For me, the litany was a sobering reminder. It may have been the Project Baseline nurse's longest interview of the year. Marianne's tone remained upbeat throughout, illustrating admirable strength and resilience to the nurse, and to me.
So, that's where we stood at mid-July. I still don't see much exciting coming up, but who knows?
John and Marianne.