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September 1-15?, 2021

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

I tried restarting these diaries on the first of the month, but had few pictures and fewer yet good ideas. I went to my regular "office" but still could not focus. Oh well, it's all voluntary.

Now I'm back and re-restarting. The Wednesday consult with the cancer exorcist went as-expected. Surgery will get scheduled for mid-September, followed by recovery and a new post-surgery oncology plan. That plan will have chemotherapy, but no more radiation. Our patient, and her care-giver, just want it over.

fireMeanwhile, Northern California is burning. This map shows just how much area has been burned so far and rains will not arrive for at least a month.Ted

Of course, the national bad news remains COVID and our friend Ted even made the front page of the Sonora paper for his long-haul" experience. We all are tired of the pandemic and find ourselves more and more resentful of the anti-vaxxers out there that are keeping the disease alive.

victimBut occasionally we get reminded of the reality that it could be worse. Sometimes that's from far-away problems in Afghanistan, Louisiana, or New Jersey, but sometimes it's closer. On Thursday, a woman's life ended in the dirt, just across the street. Police covered her body, but the scene stayed for two or three hours. No one should suffer such indignity, even in death. Sobering.

For distraction, here are some pictures of the electric vehicles I have "on order". The Tesla Cybertruck has been on order for a year-and-a-half and may be at least that far away from potential delivery. Texas factories for the stainless steel and for car assembly are still under construction. Over one-million reservation holders need patience. I have also put in a reservation for an Aptera three-wheeled, two-seat, even-more-odd-looking vehicle. In this case, the design is not even finished and the factory location is not known, publicly at least. Will we actually accept delivery? Hard to say, but those are 2023 problems, far distant from any number of other concerns.


Speaking of distractions, September 2nd was the first Thursday of the month and so there was a Fresno Art Hop happening. We had not gone to the open studios and galleries since before the pandemic, so it was great to anticipate a little art and color.

Our first stop was Chris Sorensen's sprawling labyrinth of individual artist spaces. We wandered in the general spaces, It's not New York, but it's all art.


HarrisonRaymerMarianne struck up a conversation with photographer Richard Harrison while I looked at his work. His photos, especially the composites, reflect real artistry. I'm jealous.

Across the hall, she ran across Julie Raymer, a painter she had met a few years ago at a painting workshop. I could tell both felt good to be back in art-world circulation, even if it's Fresno not San Francisco.

clay handsbunniesOur other must-see stop was Clay Hands, a potters' cooperative. There are always a few new artists showing and we were taken by a pair of cute bunnies from a new artists who's name I failed to note. Next time.

The potter we DO know is Ren Lee, a Clay Hands mainstay. Her work is absolutely remarkable and, after chatting time, she caught us up on new pieces for upcoming shows in Palo Alto and, in the Fall, back here in Fresno.

RL gallery

A "moon pot" and a "cookie guard" for the Palo Alto show

moon pot cookie guard

Heads for the Fall show

headds eyes

Two purchases, a "pig pot" from Ren (not yet fired) and
a water pitcher from one of her new colleagues

pig pot pitcher

Fig TreeMcDowell

Next door, at Fig Tree Gallery, painter Michael McDowell was showing work he had produced during the pandemic isolation. Technically excellent. Interesting finish and texture. But almost more sketches than full paintings. I'm sure the 2020-2021 (22?) experience will have affected all of us in ways we don't yet know, artists and others.

And that was it for Thursday, from death to colorful art. Who says Fresno does not offer variety?

StarbucksFriday started at a new Starbucks, one in a recycled Long John Silver's. The stark furnishings and decorations were good for concentrating on writing. I have fallen back into my pandemic pattern of wanting a daily record as we muddle through round four of COVID and round two of ignoring the elephant.

The day was slow and largely uneventful, in part due to our increased attention to virus avoidance. Marianne's "special vulnerability" did win her a Covid booster shot out at Kaiser, a third Moderna injection even before such reinforcement has been generally endorsed. It's all a reminder to be as careful as we ever have been.dinner

Dining out was not part of this more-careful program, so I picked up some lobster tails at Costco and barbecued surf and turf. It was tasty, and the environment was safe.

Saturday started with shopping at the Vineyard Farmer's Market and breakfast out at Sorrenti Bistro (aka: Sierra Nut House). Everything outdoors and masked.

marketnut house

Back from our morning excitement, we settled into routine. Marianne did a Peloton session and then headed out to her art hut. I killed time with YouTube until I was restless enough that I needed a neighborhood walk. During the first part of the pandemic, I took long walks almost every day and saw many others doing likewise. Now, the sidewalks are quiet, but I still enjoy pointing my camera at whatever I see, neighbors, flowers, or bugs.



A senseMa Ly

Over on Van Ness, a small, local commercial area, I stop by our pair of art galleries: A Sense of Place and Vernissage. Both establishments have struggled in the pandemic, falling back on art lessons to make ends meet. In the best of times, most artists and art gallery owners do not get wealthy, but almost two years of virus-avoidance has probably driven sales as low as it has been in decades.

dovesAt home, we puttered. The back porch doves were raising one more squab, the proper name for a dove chick. We think this was the seventh family that has used our back porch and we appreciate the distraction.dark

Marianne continued to paint. This piece was so dark that she ended up painting over it. We'll post the revision when she finishes. If she does.

Sunday was even quieter and we never even left home.

Monday, Labor Day, and we resolved to do something outside the house. (Mom memories: "Go outside and play.") The resurgence of COVID infections limited our options, but a drive up to Mariposa sounded about right.wash

First, I washed the car. I have hand washed the Tesla since we got it and it's a routine I enjoy. We still appreciate our electric car and it runs better when it is clean. Really.

The 90-minute drive into the Sierra foothills was pleasant, although our first stop was a bust. We had hoped to visit an art gallery on the way up, a gallery of yard art and fanciful metalwork. (I need to remember the name!) Unfortunately, he was taking the holiday off, so we continued to Mariposa.

MariposaRummThe village of 700+ residents is pretty simple and we had explored there a few times before. This time, we had little tourism enthusiasm, but a Subway Sandwich lunch helped.

Next door, we stopped at the apartment-studio of Faith Rumm. Marianne and Faith had one of those discussions artists do when they meet. They're a friendly tribe.

The rest of the week was uneventful, overshadowed by thoughts of next week's surgery. Mid-week, we met with "Doctor T", a Kaiser doctor with an unpronounceable, multi-syllable last name who's job was to make sure the surgery team had a complete understanding of Marianne's fitness for the procedure. Ironically, other than cancer, she's pretty healthy. The interview was a discouraging reminder of the reality threatening our good life and contributed to the ups and downs of the week.

doves againgarageOrdinary routines continued, although it was generally too hot for much time in the art hut. Too bad. Our dove family posed for a last picture and then disappeared. We checked Tom's garage and his tribute to his own friendly neighborhood.

On Friday morning I had hoped a bit of writing would perk me up. Not sure it worked, but every day has its own tone and I'll try to brighten each, one at a time.

I returned home and found Marianne doing her round-the-yard walking routine, so I grabbed a camera and started a neighborhood walk. We all need exercise, future surgery or not. In the early months of the pandemic, I walked almost every day, but lately I've lost the habit. I need to remember its useful and, besides, the sky, flowers, bugs, and squirrels still need memorializing.

sky flower squillil

Almost every day now has some sort of cancer activity. Today's was a conference call with a genetic counselor to determine if gene testing was warranted to gain genetic guidance for post-surgery treatment. Marianne had researched the history of cancer in her family and, like all families I assume, had found cases among her ancestry. The geneticist did order a test so we will need to prepare to learn something. I'm tired of learning some of this stuff.

The day finished with a Zoom game night with Jen and Brian. (Geoff was on the road for a weekend family visit.) We used the time to catch up on grandson Rich's start at Colorado State University, but news was sparse. I interpret that as good.

Saturday was the twentieth anniversary of September 11th. In 2001, we lived in Kyiv, Ukraine and, having dodged a serious medical scare, were preparing to start a long-term dream of European travel. Our world, like others had changed in minutes. Here's what I wrote in this diary on September 12, 2001.

The outside-the-house event for the day was a COVID test for Marianne to qualify her for her mid-week operation. She passed. The at-home event was a visit from Tari, one of our newest friends and one whose wisdom, specifically pertaining to cancer recovery, is particularly welcome this week.

On Sunday, I needed exercise, so I tried that old favorite: and early morning walk in the neighborhood. Cambridge Avenue was bright and cheerful and Fresno Community College offered its normal range of Sunday photo subjects. It's all good camera-work practice., for when we hit the road again.

houses pond students


Actually, we did hit the road a bit that day with a trip up to Tanaya Lodge for lunch-dinner. It's a nice 90-minute drive up through the Sierra foothills. The lodge itself did not seem to inspire pictures and the meal was, as usual, usual. We head here from time to time and never expect exceptional food and expectations are generally met, but it's a nice drive!

The next week will be the start of a new cancer journey, so there will be a new diary as well.

Stay tuned,

John and Marianne