Family, Art, Friends, and the Elephant

October 1-12, 2021

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

Another keep-track-of-life, occasional, diary. A pattern seems to have emerged of irregular contributions to half-month pages. This is October's first half.

We started with a weekend visit to the family crew over in Monte Sereno. On Friday October 1st, we escaped the smoky skies of the Central Valley, in favor of the better air of the Bay Area. The drive was uneventful and the Rahimi house was as welcoming as usual. Marianne and Gabby had some clothes shopping to do and I chatted with Ava and Sam while they were out - one of my favorite duties.

Both the kids had parties to go to around dinner time, a movie with friends for Sam and a dozen-girl barbecue for Ava. Mamal, Gabby, Marianne, and I had our own evening out, a dinner at one of the dozens of restaurants in neighbor Los Gatos. The food was good enough, but the conversation seemed more complete than it often is when kids are present and work-night limits are in effect. Nice.

Saturday and Sunday were busier, but since I delayed so long writing, I've forgotten exactly with what! The Leica camera's film did record a visit to an open house by Marianne, Ava, and me. We had gone out for a ride for Ava in the zippy Tesla and stopped on a Highway 9 home development on a whim. The 36 new 3-, 4-, and 5-bedroom units were squeezed onto the grounds of an old motel, bar, and restaurant that we had frequented "BC" (before Covid). A landmark gone. That happens a lot in California.

The three of us toured one display unit and came away saying the 3,000 square-foot unit was indeed a nice place, although all windows but one looked out on neighbors just feet away. Ava liked the open downstairs floor plan, the puppy closet, and "her room" upstairs. We could buy one like it for just under $4 million or we could opt for the development's smallest offering for about $2.5 million. Nope, we can't. California near the coast is out of our league.

going inpuppy room great roomAva room

sam momBack home at the Rahimi resort, we enjoyed family time just sitting around, before the parents left for their Saturday night out. That left Gigi and Opa babysitting, our favorite chore. Ava brought out some silly game about werewolves and we struggled with the rules, but laughed a lot.golfer

On Sunday morning, we hung around until the kids were off to their activities. Sam and his dad had a golf game, for which he could wear his spiffy team golf shirt. Looking pretty professional.

girlsOur final activity was hugs, always a favorite, but a bit melancholy since we did not yet have plans for a return. Thanksgiving for sure would see us back here, but that's a long time away and the kids will grow even more!

For our drive, we left the clear airs of the Bay Area, went up over Pacheco Pass, and descended into a valley filled with forest fire smoke and farmer dust. We checked the "Air Quality Index" and it was in the 200s and 300s - "very unhealthy". I'm not sure we needed a measurement to tell us that.

smokefarm cloudhome

Reconstructing the rest of the week mostly involved reviewing Marianne's medical appointments. The cancer elephant-in-the-room was very visible. On Monday, she had her exit exam from the surgeon and received a passing grade. The area was healing fine and that's about all we learned. I guess young surgeons are pretty matter-of-fact about scars, swelling, pain, and general trauma, as long as their work is healing.

Tuesday's artery blockage CT scan, ordered by the eye doctor, provided one more passing grade, although it yielded no information about the eye flashes she sometimes gets. Wednesday's physical therapy for a shoulder went well too, but both shoulders remain under therapy for different causes, but therapy nonetheless.

The big medical discussion happened Thursday with Doctor Box. The oncologist offered good news and bad news. The good (?) news was that the recurrent cancer had been local, in the scarring area of the original removal surgery and this is common enough to occur in 15-20% of initial cancers of Marianne's type. Surgery removed the new cancer and there were no signs of spread.

Doing nothing was mentioned as a non-recommended option, one Marianne had considered, but did not choose. Chemotherapy was recommended to reduce by half the likelihood of cancer recurrence in a "distant location" (kidney, liver, or bone). This time, the chemical is called "Xeloda", taken in pill form, and continued for six or eight cycles of two weeks on and one week off. Side effects from this poison (that's how chemotherapy works) seem less severe than round one's infusions. We'll see.

Not having much time to ruminate, we headed downtown to Art Hop, our first since before Covid. The one goal was the pair of studios/galleries run by Robert Ogata and his daughter Pia and son-in-law Tim. (Bob's wife Zandy is also a friend.) It was nice to see old friends and Marianne enjoyed the chance to talk with another abstract artist, one with decades of experience.

We slept well Thursday night. Somehow, the cancer elephant, while not leaving the room, had been pushed away a bit, behind a reasonable plan for proceeding. We'll do the recommended treatment for the next months, mix in as much local travel and visiting as we can, and plan longer trips after that. And Covid should be in a better place by then as well.

washeddirtyStep one of the plan for me was to wash the car. We can't be seen visiting with a dirty Tesla. (By the way, I plan to do a one-off diary on my thoughts about electric cars, maybe next week.) Just to keep me humble, a bird dropped a present on the clean hood moments after I finished washing. There is undoubtedly some sort of deep meaning in this, but I just cleaned up and carried on. (Ah, THAT'S the message: "clean up and carry on.")

On Saturday, we headed out to Sierra Art Trails, an annual open-galleries that was the first of our new travels. Covid cancelled the show last year, but 2021 saw a return, albeit with a reduced number of displaying artists.

McGrathWe started with Scott McGrath's iron works, Stop # 54, toward the north end of the Trail. We had visited "BC" (before Covid) and I looked forward to seeing his imaginative work with new and junk metals. The last half-mile of the drive in was over rutted dirt roads, reminding us that the last time we were here we were in a much more rugged Jeep, not a low-slung Tesla. It was worth it, although the work on display was more limited that in past years. I think the pandemic had given Scott time to clean up his yard, but that made it a less interesting visit.


In-process: large, arching vines that will be suspend a pair of lights
and a moon display.

McGraths's work-planning board. He's busy!

WilcoxNext was stop #63, Gwen Wilcox. The fact that she did abstracts had drawn Marianne, but the artists connected beyond the displayed landscapes. The Sierra Art Trail folks seem uniformly friendly and after looking at paintings we got a tour of the family home, another work in progress. In Gwen's studio, we learned her "day job" is as a piano teacher, online as is the current requirement. Maybe Marianne will get back into music?

Van SlykeStop 61/62 was probably the highlight of our Trail. Susan Mitchell-Van Slyke had opened her spacious studio and displayed highlights of her own abstracts as well as examples . Susan's work was special and she took time to explain her latest passion: Asian-style abstracts. Amazing. (The studio also displayed landscapes from almost-neighbor Lisa Greenstein, but our cameras failed to give her equal attention. Completeness of our photo record turned out to be problem for making this diary. Somehow, I failed in my take-pictures-of-everything practice.)

black white rain asian

necjlaceOur next stop, #57/58/59, had three disparate artists: Penney Otwell featured colorful landscapes, Tim Dewill colorful leather-work, and Saralynn Nusbaum colorful jewelry. All that color and still I failed to click the cameras. However, in this case Marianne brought home one of Saralynn's necklaces. Note the pair of elephants. Get it?

Our next stop was another trio of artists, a painter, a sculptor, and a ceramicist. None were remarkable, so they will remain unnamed, although Marianne did pick up a new coffee cup.

The last stop before lunch-dinner was with Amy Morgan, a friend as well as a prolific and talented artist. Her specialty is painting on silk, framed allegorical scenes as well as wearable-art scarves. Her enthusiasm for explaining her work was infectious, but we knew that already so we had alloted extra time for this stop. Fun.


me dinnerFor our meal, we tried Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen. The food was OK and the wine better than that. Service, however, was very, very slow, leading to more wine sipping than we probably should have done.

Marianne took a picture and I include it because I really don't show up much in these diaries!

From dinner, it was time to check in at The Bed of Roses bed and breakfast. No pictures again, but I'll just say the room was large, the decor dated, and the proprietors Mary Kay and Steve friendly and accommodating. The only problem was that Marianne's heart acted up and went to beating too fast. Was it the wine? Maybe, maybe not, but we don't want a repeat so abstinence will be our future. In the meantime, Marianne took the pill-in-a-pocket medicine and tried sleep restoration.

chargingEarly on Sunday, I went to the Fish Camp Tesla Supercharger to relieve any range anxiety. It was a 15 minute drive from Roses, but another 15 minutes of charging and we would have nothing to worry about. (Except the heart thing and that finally resolved itself after a night's sleep and a second pill.)

After chatty breakfast with Mary Kay and Steve, we drove down to Coarsegold for a second breakfast at Wild Fig. We had an appointment to meet friends Tari and Jack to show them parts of the Art Trail.

TariJackThey had no big preference, so we made a point of seeing some of the area photographers since Jack is another Leica user. We visited Jerry Bosworth, William Neil, Tom Eggert, Jonathan Bock (organizer), and, eventually, Franka Gabler, our favorite Sierras photographer. Since it is very bad form to take pictures of photographer's work, I have an excuse for this no-picture entry. Trust me, there are wonderful photographers taking up where Ansel Adams left off.

VickiAt our last stop, we met sculptor Vicki Evangelho. Her clay work was quite good and, most remarkably, she said she has been doing it for less than four years. She was another enthusiastic Sierra Art Trial participant and left us looking forward to next year!

The rest of the week was unremarkable, other than a four-day "" outage. Machighway disappeared for a time, causing a worrisome loss of email and this website.

Beyond that, nothing was planned, so I'll end here.

Stay in touch.

John and Marianne