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Home, Heart, Art, Fun

April 2-10, 2015
Written April 7+

Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,
The last diary ended with Marianne still recovering in the Bay Area from the heart ablation.  We drove back to Fresno on Sunday, the 29th, and are now happy to report that the immediate recovery went quite well.  There were some initial GI problems, and that required some more tests, but the problem went away before the negative test results came back.  Maybe it is better to just do nothing.

Our garden managed just fine without us and greeted our return with a plot of huge roses.  It is always nice to be back home, and this time more than ever.  We definitely are looking forward to domestic stability, now that the long-anticipated heart procedure and problems are over - or so we thought.

By Thursday, Marianne was feeling well enough that we went to the monthly Fresno Art Hop, an activity we have missed for several months running.  Every month 10 to 20 artist studios and galleries open to the public and this month we were particularly interested in Kliszewski Glass, although we originally thought we'd catch a few other shows as well.
Bob Kliszewski makes wonderful glass flowers ("Bobtanicals") and glass plants (Halloween pumpkins here), and other whimsy
For Art Hop, he demonstrated the process he uses to mix colors in molten glass.  His son helped him in this very complex process.  (The father-son picture on the workshop refrigerator proves that Bob was not always so hair challenged.  I sympathize.)
Wife Laurie was the most enthusiastic of fans.

Other art in the same industrial building was ... interesting.   I actually liked some of this hardware, but my  artist-wife was skeptical.

In any event, it was fun to be back on the Fresno art scene.  And, in case you have missed it, The Atlantic magazine recently called Fresno "The New Bohemia", noting that the art scene is booming, facilitated in part by low rents. "The Tower District is the Bohemia of Fresno, and Fresno is the Bohemia of California."  As proud Tower District residents, we must agree.  Now, if we can just get the world-at-large to think this way.

d150403_02_eggs.jpgd150403_04_invaders.jpgBack at home, we needed to prepare for a number of upcoming events: a community yard sale, a neighborhood pot luck dinner, Easter, and a visit by grandkids.  We planned a busy week - and we didn't know just how busy.  Marianne brought out her decorated egg collection, a collection assembled mostly in Ukraine during our years in Kiev.  (Over there, it seemed like Easter came mid-winter.  I like our current weather MUCH better.)

Next, we needed to prepare for the 37th annual Cambridge Avenue Block Sale.  Last year we were just getting over a big move and had lots to get rid of sell, but this year we managed to do nothing more than kibitz, as our friends and neighbors kept up the tradition.

Marianne's sister Katinka used our yard to sell her justifiably-famous salsa - the only Hungarian-Mexican salsa in all of California.

The other springtime tradition on our block is a pot luck dinner, held this year on Easter Sunday because many neighbors had decided to stay home on the holiday.
There was far more food than could possibly be eaten!

And it was a wonderful opportunity to just catch up with everyone.  (On the right, Jim looks much more serious than he really was.  Probably deciding on that next serving of cake.)

Unfortunately, on Saturday evening, Marianne's heart rhythm decided to go back to its old tricks and by Sunday morning, she went from a weekend clinic appointment to the Emergency Department and then a room in the cardiac ward.  It seems the post-ablation decision to pull all her heart drugs may not have been the best one.  Now, the local cardiologist prescribed a speed regulator and an anti-inflamatory.  A day later, the patient was released, tired but with a heart that was behaving.

We hoped that we were really and truly back to routines and Wednesday's part of the routine was a visit by Gabby and Ava and Sam.  THAT's the type of excitement we always look forward to.  And the kids did not disappoint us.  They were full of energy after their three-hour drive down to Fresno, so the first evening was spent with moms watching while the kids enjoyed the backyard.  A nice start.
Thursday was quieter, mostly because our favorite heart patient was back to feeling under the weather -- not heart problems, but stomach and head aches, perhaps caused by the new drug routine.  If it's not one thing, it's another.

d150410_02_bkfstgame.jpgd150410_04_pool.jpgFriday morning was a decent start.  We had a breakfast game and art session to get active.  After that, Gabby and the kids went to the trampoline center and to Mamo's pool for some cool down -- very cool.  Meanwhile, we took the patient to Kaiser for yet one more check-up.  On hearing of the week's stomach problems, Marianne's doc removed one of her meds with the comment "Yes, colchisen is notorious for GI upsets".  That seemed to be the solution.

For our dinner, we all gathered over at the local garden center, where several food trucks assemble every Friday and Saturday.  We had pizza (kids), salad and lamb (me, Babs, and Ruben), and Thai something-or-other (Gabby and Gigi).  The kids - and Mamo - also had excellent ice cream for dessert.  We may make this a weekend fixture!


Saturday was a completely normal, full day.  Marianne was indeed feeling much, much better.  Katinka and Ruben joined us with Mamo for a Boulangerie Bakery breakfast.  This is a standard Saturday ritual for Mamo, and it was fun to share. 
d150411_88_goodbaye.jpgd150411_89_souvenir.jpgAfter that, it was home for us and the little family as they packed for the drive home, everything but some souvenir artwork.   In no time we were saying good bye --  until we see them all again in a couple of weeks for a ten-day stint of babysitting.  Can't wait.

Saturday excitement wasn't over yet, however.  We still had a Fresno-Hawaii party to go to, but that's another story.

John and Marianne

ps:  I tried out my new camera on some of our backyard birds and flowers.  The new one is mostly just a technology update for my six-year-old camera, but it does require some amount of re-learning.  Like all new technology.  At least for these subjects, the new toy seems to work.


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