Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
I said I was going to not do so many diaries, unless we had picture-worthy events, but habit has overtaken that resolution. Nonetheless, this edition will be photo-heavy, despite the ordinariness of this first part. Dinners now feature wine, alcohol-free wine. It's as tasteless as it sounds, but we will keep searching because we have concluded Marianne's heart just doesn't like the stuff. And I like her heart.
Friday entertainment continues to include Zoom games with Brian, Jen, and Geoff. We continue to get no better, but it's all about the chit chat anyway.
I started another 1,000-piece puzzle, this time a redo of one from a couple of years ago. Practice does not make perfect, but moving little pieces around to find their homes remains a good distraction since my current skin treatment prevents walks under the sunny skies.
We added to our art collection with Ren's ferocious alligator (At least I think it's a gator).
Otherwise, it's all Fall-ordinary: swap seasonal clothes, wrap up the patio furniture, and admire neighborhood trees.
Marianne continues art studies, including more art pallet tests that are pretty good paintings in themselves. My inside work is not so creative, but I did finish the puzzle. And, on the 25th, we dined out to celebrate Marianne's 40th birthday.
A couple of days later, we headed out on a road trip, a quick road trip. Our target was a light show just outside of Paso Robles, a drive that starts out in the flat farm fields of Fresno County and ends in the rolling hills and vineyards of San Louis Obispo County. The last half is pleasant and we still enjoy our electric car, flats or hills.
A neighbor had recommended a stop at Sculpterra Winery and we were delighted that we took the suggestion. This may have been the most well-decorated winery we've ever seen, especially in Fall colors.
Inside, there was more to take pictures of than we had seen in months! Our favorites were the towering steel and bronze statues by local artist Dale Evers (more on him tomorrow). I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Even the winery part of Sculpterra was fun, educational, and artistic. Too bad we could not sample the offerings!
After Sculpterra, we drove over to Atascadero and the Carlton Hotel. Ninety years ago, this was the stop of choice for Hollywood stars on their way to visit the Hearst Castle over the coast hills. The hotel was restored 16 years ago and retains the feel of the old times.
Tomorrow would be busy, so we turned in early. (Actually, we always turn in early.)
Thursday was a Paso Robles day. We started with a set of art galleries, where Marianne got a lesson on engraving. Afterwards, we shopped and I even bought important things: two 1,000-piece puzzles. Fresno has no store with such a selection.
Our tourist stop for the visit was to the old library, a gift from Andrew Carnegie a century ago and now serving the local historical society. My favorite display was of alcohol-free wine from the area during Prohibition. Since we are shifting away from alcohol, we hoped this indicated a local source, but no one thought the product remained. Not a surprise.
After art and shopping, came lunch at La Cosecha with wonderful paella and shrimp salad.
After lunch, we looked up the Dale Evers Studio and discovered it was just around the corner. Inside, associate artist Tim Anderson showed us the art on display and talked about the business he has been in with Dale for over three decades. It was a fascinating story and made more personal when the boss himself came out to chat. Warm people and wonderful art.
Finally, we headed over to Sensorio, our reason for this trip. We checked in at 5:30, found a table on the VIP patio, and watched the show. After the sun was down, we walked through the light stalks, over to the light towers, and back. All in all, worth the trip!
And that was our quick trip to Paso Robles and Atascadero. It was a nice break, just before Marianne started her new six-month chemo treatments. As I write this a few days later, the new regime is a new struggle, with a new word: Esophagitis. (It's an extreme version of acid reflux.)
John and Marianne