Staying Busy

August 13-19, 2021

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

With a single phone call, our planning horizon went from months and years to hours and weeks. I think the first day or two were the hardest, with the darkest thoughts. The cancer elephant is back, in plain view, and we are penciling in a future like the past: surgery, chemo, radiation, recovery. Even the recurrent Covid darkness overlay seems familiar.

So, what now? We tell family and friends. We cry. We shelve travel plans. Gradually, everyone is told, tears start to dry up, and we need to plan distractions mixed in with doctor appointments. We need to stay busy, so we fall back on mom's childhood advice: go outside and play.

Fig breakfastRaymondOn Saturday (14th) we drove up to Coarsegold for breakfast at Wild Fig, a favorite outdoor dinning spot. We eat slowly and talk. Afterward, we take the long way back, via the village of Raymond, founded in 1886 and still small and isolated. Still, it's travel.

From there, we stopped at Toca Winery, not for refreshments, but to retrieve paintings Marianne has had hanging there since a few days before the pandemic shutdown. No sales. She has resolved to continue the quest for exposure and sales, more for endorsement than money. Now we need to find some public wall space!

On Sunday, we packed up for a few-day trip to visit with Gabby, Mamal, Ava, and Sam. This is our favorite form of travel. The drive was uneventful and the afternoon at the Rahimi resort was quiet. Mamal, Sam, and I watched TV golf, good enough family time. The girls shopped for dinner and came back with corn and four giant chunks of pork ribs. My job was to barbecue while others goofed around with the new virtual reality goggles. All outdoor activities, meeting Thelma's criteria.

unpack G and M
bbq occulus


Monday morning started with a Tesla Supercharging session and diary-writing at my local Starbucks office. The routine is comforting, but it's a struggle to write anything interesting.

Back home, Sam was on his bike, heading to school and Ava was in her own morning get-ready-for-school routine. They both look forward to school, real school with teachers and classmates in the same room. We all hope they can keep their classes Covid-free, so nomalcy stays with them. We'll see.

Mamal headed to work and the rest of us spent most of the day hanging around home. Gabby had ordered a masseuse for her mom, so Marianne was treated to a 90 minute massage! Gabby did her home exercise and online shopping routines. I read and zoned out with YouTube. Quiet is OK.

swingteachWhen Sam made it home from school, he introduced Gigi to the chip and putt course in the side yard. He's pretty good and enjoys hitting golf balls or, in these pictures, tree nuts.

Meanwhile, Ava had gone straight from school to tennis, good for recovery from the stress of a new school year.

Once everyone was home, Mamal led a pickleball practice session, despite a bad back from too much dentistry all day. He gets extra dad-points for painful duty.

pair coach
Ava sam

pick shrimpliceInside, Gabby and Gigi selected the best shrimp for dinner and added a couple salads plus leftover barbecue ribs. Another good meal.

While adults chatted, Ava looked through Sam's head for lice. Really. I was glad dinner was done. BTW, nothing was found. (We will save this picture to blackmail the kids when they are older.)

readerThe final activity of the day was a reading session. In earlier times, it was Gigi who would read, but now Sam does the hard work.

All in all, a nice, quiet, family day. This is what we needed.

AvaMornings have a routine and pattern with the little family. Gabby juggles lunches, breakfasts, and general day planning. Ava seems pretty independent, getting prepared with little supervision. Sam is still slow to wake up, get up, dress, and eat, but soon enough he has slipped out, jumped on his bike, and left for school. A bit later, Ava catches the mom-taxi.flower

The day goes quietly, more so for me than for Marianne and Gabby since they always seem to need a shopping run or two. Good therapy. I try my hand at pictures, but nothing works. One flower, just to mark that I tried.

gameThings started picking up once folks came home from school and work. Despite an aching back, Mamal had the kids play couple rounds of pickleball. He teamed up with Sam against Ava and, maybe due to dad's ailment, Ava won.girls

Since it was Tuesday, we had our Tuesday Cocktails group, but in person rather than over Zoom. Adrienne, Tony, and Rita came over to the house and we blended our Zoom-less cocktails with the Rahimi family Taco Tuesday. It was all great, although I'll admit I had a bit more wine than I should have had. It's just easier when the cocktail party is in person.

ping pongWednesday was even quieter than Tuesday. As I write this note two days later, I can not remember much at all, except that I read, killed time with YouTube, and managed to work in a Peloton session. Marianne and Gabby went out for some more shopping, while I met Sam when he came home and we played at ping pong. Our play was anything but a serious game, with shots off the ceiling and wall being allowed, but there was plenty of fun and laughter.GabbyAva

Eventually, all the girls made it home and Gigi went to work on dinner while Ava and Gabby worked on pickleball. Their game was more competitive than the ping pong Sam and I had enjoyed, but there was still plenty of fun.

Another good family day.

We left Thursday morning. After hugs all around, we sent Sam off to school on his bike and loaded Charlie and Ava into the car for her trip to school. Ava's preferred protocol is to be dropped off a couple blocks from her middle school so she can socialize a bit.

Ava and GigiSamCharliegirls

The drive back was uneventful. I managed to do more testing of the Tesla's Autopilot system and, except for one panicked moment when a truck got too close, everything seemed to work.

Now that we were back, we set about preparing for all the looming medical appointments. I'm not sure what will get into these diaries, but stay tuned.

Johna and Marianne