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A Week, From Hungary to the Middle Ages.

March 9-16, 2015
Written March 13+

Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,
"Not-interesting" warning:  This diary is just some bits and pieces we want for our own record.  No significant news.  No wonderful visits as tourists or grandparents.  Just notes to keep up this well-documented-for-us record.

Significant news of the week included the change from our old Audi to a new one.  We finally said goodbye to the 2005 Audi Allroad, a souvenir from Germany that had served us well for a decade and 160,000 miles (although at considerable cost over the last 16 months!)  In its place, we welcomed a new 2015 Audi Q3, a smallish SUV that Marianne immediately claimed.  I figure she now has two new cars, since the Jeep is "ours" and the Audi is "hers."
We had ordered the car months ago, and were excited to finally get it.
Car construction nowadays is complicated.  The German-designed Q3 was assembled in Spain, with parts from Germany, Spain, Japan (transmission), Hungary (engine), and a tiny 1% from North America.
The other complication is learning each car's "MMI" (man-machine interface.)  The two cars have very different ways of using media (ne: radio), comfort systems (ne: heater/AC), navigation (ne:maps), keys, lights, seats, windows, and everything else we need to touch.  Each car comes with thick manuals and two- or three-dozen short video clips explaining features.  It's not easy.
I expect this will be one of the last cars we ever buy.

Our other "finally" moment came when the pantry was finished.  This is probably the last kitchen modification we will ever do too, but I'm not taking bets on that prognosis.
On Saturday  (14th), we attended the annual Hungarian dinner, a gathering of the Fresno Hungarian community.  The lunch is full of tradition and "that language".
An agenda I could not read.  A map with old boundaries and the current borders inside.

First business was lunch and chatting.

Then Hungarian speeches, a reading -in English - of the national anthem, and awards from the Hungarian consulate (but no one knew exactly why the awardees were so honored.)

The highlight and final act was singing.  Some lyrics had been written out, but that was of little help for me.  No matter, the enthusiasm was clear to understand.

Other weekend activities? Mostly it was household chores, the activities that take most of everyone's time.  I suppose a diary should include those as well, because a decade from now, they will be different.  Nowadays they typically include computer puttering, that great time sink of the modern world.  A well spent part of that time was a nice Skype conversation with Brian, Rich & Jen, talking about nothing specific.  I do miss the ability to do that on a more-frequent and more-present basis.  And I miss the conversations with BOTH boys (not naming the one who WASN'T on Skype lately.)

d150315_02_back.jpgd150315_04_red.jpgOur other time-spender is garden work.  Our backyard is springing back to life with much more winter survival than we used to get in Germany!  I think we only had a light frost on one or two evenings -- a big difference.) Of course our lawn and garden now depend on irrigation and repairing our decades-old system is a constant job.  This task is made worse by the street people who steal the brass sprinkler heads to sell on the scrap metal market; a local specialty.  Soon, we need to have a bocce tournament, to enjoy our space.

We live just around the corner from Fresno City College and this weekend they hosted their 17th Annual Renaissance Festival.  I don't think I have been at a "Ren Fair" since my own kids were teenagers, many, many years ago.  Fresno's version was relatively small, compared to the large Maryland encampment, but featured all the requirements: ornate costumes, armorers, (rocking) horse rides, sword fights, and food - always food.  These are fun places to wander with a camera, or a "spirit-catcher", as the locals say.

The Queen's parade and the knighthood ceremony on "The Golden Hind". Courtesy of the Guilds of St Augustine and St. Henry.

Exotic belly dancers from the Banat Tanjora Guild and their enthusiastic drum band.

In the Maryland Renaissance Festival, one of the most popular events was the joust, with real horses and real knights and real lances shattering.  Here at Fresno City College, the horses were wooden rockers, but the riders made the most of it.

I spent a half-hour listening to M. Todd Gallowglas, a full-time story-teller and fantasy story writer.  I am not sure what was more fantastical, his told-story of Jack the blacksmith who tricked the devil or his personal story of supporting a family of five self-publishing books and telling stories at Renaissance Festivals.  Both were good tales.

So, that's it, from Hungary to the Middle Ages.

Best regards,

John and Marianne


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