An Early New Start

December 26, 2021 - January 2, 2022

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

On the morning after Christmas, after my post-holiday weigh-in, we started a new year. All the holiday treats and rich meals had returned me to a weight I had not seen in ten years. Ouch! About 15 years ago, we had embarked on the "South Beach" eating program, I had lost about 50 pounds, and it completely changed how healthy I felt. Now, I feared that I was returning to the bad old days. The good news is that I know how to fix the problem: planned meal quantities, no sugar treats, very limited snacks, no cream in coffee, plus an alcohol ban we had already instituted. From previous experience, I remember it it very hard for a few days, difficult for a few weeks, and then routine for as long as needed. Let's see.

Of course, a "new start" will be a lot more than eating. There will be regular exercise, more like what we did at the beginning of the Covid period. And, while we are at it, more art time for Marianne and more constructive activity than just YouTube and puzzles for me. Photography. Reading. Reaching out to friends. This all sounds like a plan we can get excited about.

trashAfter weigh-in, I headed to my Starbucks office to write the Christmas diary. I tried using the Carla's "full self driving", but bailed out after a couple close calls with street-side trash piles. I don't think Tesla has modeled this semi-annual Fresno impairment. My goal is to learn how to use the system to reduce driving stress, but it is not ready yet. I'll keep trying.

Writing went well and I appreciated the limited-calories breakfast options Starbucks offers. Afterwards, I drove (manually) over to the Fresno State vineyards to try a morning shot of the Sierras. This is the closest "photo excursion" I know and, in-person, it offers a peaceful mountain and valley vista. Unfortunately, panoramas generally do not make great pictures, but I tried.



My second photo excursion was a simple walk-in-the-neighborhood. I had forgotten how much fun these are, even if the pictures are ordinary. Besides, more walking is part of the new year.

lampsantaTom sign scary
cactus berries flower

sunsetpuzzleMarianne finished the day up with a walk of her own and an iPhone shot of sunset over Fresno High School. Nice shot.

I stayed home and finished my Christmas-gift puzzle. So far, the new year was going great.

Monday was good too. Enough exercise and managed food intake. Marianne spent over four hours out in the art hut on her latest art course. I read a little and watched the rain, a positive event here in the Central California desert.

Tuesday was another Starbucks office morning. Carla's associated full-self-driving test went slightly better, but the process was still tension-filled. Oh well, we don't expect to NEED automatic driving for a few years.

While at the office, Marianne called with a report from Doctor Box. The oncologist proposed ending our "chemo vacation" with start of a new regime, one filled with harsh side-effects. This was the part of a new year that we had been dreading.

Unfortunately, we heard nothing more from Dr. Box for the rest of the week. Marianne consulted with friends or friends-of-friends to help chart a course. That helps, but it's not easy without the final, official, recommendation from her oncologist. That will happen in 2022.

birdsThe rest of our week's activities were quiet, very quiet. With the increase in Covid cases, no matter how "mild" the average case is purported to be, we are not comfortable around people, so we stay at home mostly. We wonder how we will return to normal distractions such as unnecessary shopping or dining out or travel. We can not tell if we are being too cautious or not as some family and friends do more mixing and some do even less. Meanwhile, we spend time inside: reading, painting, watching visiting birds, and staring at screens.

On Thursday, I trusted the weather forecast of "partly cloudy" to try and get some pictures of the snowy Sierras. I tried to squeeze in the photo excursion into just a couple of hours, and failed to see much. Here is one distant cloudy shot and a couple to help me remember that, pictures or not, it was a pleasant drive.


Our New Year's Eve celebration was a record quiet! We had a nice home-cooked, meal, washed down with non-alcoholic champagne. (= sparkling apple cider.) For social activity, we had the regular Friday game night with Geoff, Brian, and Jen. None of this crew felt comfortable ending the old year in a real crowd, so we stuck with Zoom. As has been the case for many years, we stayed up until midnight (Eastern Time Zone), welcomed in another year, and crashed.

I probably should make some observations on 2021 and a prognosis for 2022, but looking back is not encouraging and projecting the future seems futile. We'll just stick to the present.

Stay tuned,

John and Marianne.