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The First Half of a Hot July

July 1-13
written July 9+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

The Fourth of July came and went with little fanfare this year, unlike our annual BBQs back in the old country.  It seems a bit strange for our big patriotic celebration to have been more memorable in Germany than it is here in Fresno, California.  Thinking about it makes me want to review and reminisce.

I have now been retired for two years.  Some went as planned and some didn't.  We returned to America, something that was inevitable, but two years ago, we didn't know when it would happen.  I had originally considered continuing work, part-time, but nothing has materialized.  I miss the contact with my colleagues, but I'll admit I do not miss the worries of work.

The general plan was to travel in Europe and, eventually, make the big move back to the USA.  In the second half of 2012 we traveled almost continuously, to western France, southern Italy, and coast-to-coast in America.  In early 2013, Marianne went back to California while I toured old factories and technical museums in Germany and Belgium. In April we worked in a wonderful trip through northern Spain and Portugal. 

Maybe that got all the travel out of our systems because we started planning a return to America.  Selling our Franconian "jewel box" and packing up kept us very busy for the rest of 2013.  Originally, we didn't even know where in America we would return to.  Our kids are spread from coast to coast, so we were always going to be near one but not the others.  California, where we had come from 15 years earlier, seemed the most logical, but we could no longer afford housing in the San Francisco Bay Area.  In August or so, Marianne came over to Fresno to check out what we could find for housing there, since that would put us near her 94-year-old mom.

Marianne fell in love with a house in central Fresno, affordable and old-for-California.  That made the decision: Cambridge Avenue in Fresno, California would be our new home.  By Thanksgiving we had filled a big red shipping container with our worldly possessions and sent it on its way. In December we started the car on its truck/boat/truck trip and we flew to Washington, DC.  By Christmas we were in Fresno, although we would get into our new house only in mid-January.

Six months later, I suppose we have settled in.  Marianne has a working art "hut" and I have a garden part-way through landscaping.  We visit Mamo several times a week and see Babi and Rubin at least weekly.  Visits  with Gabby and the kids seem to average once a month, with supplements via Skype.  We have a local favorite restaurant, Pinot Wine Bar and Small Kitchen, to have simple meals - and decent wine.  The Cambridge Avenue neighbors continue to offer a friendly environment, although hanging out on porches has been reduced by the summer heat.
Garden and  and garden-path work.  Marianne's Skype time withe Gabby, Ava, and Sam.
One of our neighborhood gatherings.

(Summer heat:  We have started the real Fresno summer, above 100F every day for the past two weeks and forecasts of the same for the foreseeable future.  Zero chance of rain.  Early mornings are pleasant, but by nine in the morning, being outside in the sun is uncomfortable.  By noon, being outside at all is too toasty for our tastes.  Air conditioning goes on at about 5pm, unless we are experiencing one of those days when the power company charges SIX-TIMES more for electricity than usual.  On those days, we turn nothing on between 2 and 7 pm!  I keep reminding myself that everywhere has at least a couple of months of bad weather and this version seems preferable to winters in Kiev or Bavaria.)

So, what's my "bottom line" about retirement and our new life?  Mostly, it's OK.  We have kept busy so far, although I'm not sure what will happen once I finish the landscaping.  (My photography has fallen by the wayside, perhaps because we no longer travel to such picturesque places.)  Travel since we left Germany has been limited, but that may change once we get a more reliable car for road trips.  We see some of the grandkids more, but not all of them.  I don't miss work and decades of saving for retirement really did work for us, so we don't worry about finances very much.  (Old age always threatens catastrophic medical expenses, but we'll ignore that for now.)

John and Marianne

Mostly for our own record, here is how our small construction project is going.
No work on July Third, but while the guys were working their other project, Marianne and I discovered some old windows that might work.
Brian did come back for a morning work on Independence day.
By the next Monday, the place was getting just a bit more complete, but it seems like a slow process for such a simple garage.
A couple of days later, our old windows are ready for installation (clean-up will be later), the old roof framing is being fixed and the garage door has been removed.
The hope had been that we would have seen a lot more progress before the week was over, but the only progress was removal of the old shingles.  Maybe more next week. (another diary.)


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