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Month at Home

June 27 - July 30ish, 2015
Written July 20++

Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

It has been a month since the last diary and there have been no have-to-update-our-record events.  That's a good and a bad sign since "events" can be either good or bad.  Nonetheless, we do want a record of what we stay busy with and maybe the reflection over a month can cause us to be thankful for the quiet and get us motivated to DO something.

d150630_02_Forcast.jpgThe month started with the promise of normal Fresno heat - a ten-day forecast where the lowest high was 99F (37C).  I'll admit this was a bit discouraging when I considered that summer had barely started.  From our one-year experience, and past visits, we understood that pleasant coolness only returns in September or October.  Day after day of over 100F limits our outdoor activities, not to mention the effect on air conditioning bills!  Oh well, it's part of life here.

Of course the other part of life here is that we get to spend time with Mamo, Marianne's 95-year-old mom.  We have dinner together a few times a week and we are around when Mamo needs some help or just conversation.   She appreciates it and so do we.  It was worth the return from Germany and the move to Fresno, no matter the temperature. 
Dinner at Ducey's on Bass Lake
This month we even managed to celebrate Marianne's 2014 birthday at Black Angus

d150629_02_girls.jpgd150629_04_laugh.jpgAt the end of June, Rita and Adrienne, two of Marianne's buddies for decades, came to visit.  To the best of my recollection, we did nothing remarkable, except lots of girl talk.  (I was included from time to time.)  I suppose having old-time friends drop by was also one of the reasons we left Europe.  Although both Rita and Adrienne had visited us there, chatting sessions can now be much more frequent.

Much of this month has been spent getting ready for Marianne's August 6 Art Hop exhibition at M-Street Gallery.  We visited the space in July's ArtHop and got a few more ideas for the August show.  We measured the space she'll have, and laid it out in our garage.  It was a useful exercise, and now know what goes where, so the actual work of hanging should go relatively quickly.

Of course, The Artist never stops, so she may have even more offerings next month!

Other occupants at M-Street Gallery.  People who make a living painting, or teaching.
Coming soon to this space:  Marianne, Artist
Garage Mock-up (note tape on garage floor)
New Work

I suppose our other activity-of-the-month has been our new "get fit" resolutions.  For the past several months, we had been watching our diet enough that we had lost a few pounds, but by a process that was both inconvenient and not very effective.  At the recommendation of my doctor, I went to an introductory session of Kaiser's Medically Supervised Weight Loss Program.  The health services provider (and insurance company) has been running this program for over 30 years, and the average weight loss (after 18 months, with 88% retention) has been 48 pounds, most of it lost in the first five months.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that the program really required full-time attention, with 16 weeks of meal substitutes, weekly meetings, doctor exams, and even blood tests.  That made it a non-starter for me, since we plan to travel over the next months and, besides, such an extreme program practically requires a family commitment, not something that makes sense for us.

d150711_04_tomatos.jpgThe Kaiser intro session did get me motivated to return to a program Marianne and I have successfully used in the past: the South Beach Diet.  This diet has been around for 20+ years now, and we were devoted to it for a few years in Germany.  Each of us lost considerable weight, and we found that the whole process had made sense.  I will admit that we fell off the wagon during the complications of our last year in Europe and gained back much of what we had lost, but we are in a New World now. We have also added in trips to fitness gyms, again at the suggestion of Kaiser.  This time it was via a subsidized program for "seniors".  We will see what happens.

d150720_02_Forcast.jpgBy the way, Fresno weather has turned excellent!  A month ago, I was dreading week after week of triple-digit days, but for the last ten days we have stayed below the 100F mark.  More importantly, our forecast for the next ten days is also pretty encouraging.  We have even received a few 0.1's of an inch rain on a couple of occasions, setting a July record.  The previous July record had been just 0.33 inch and we got 20% more than that in one hour last evening! Furthermore, the papers continue to run long-range forecasts of a return of  "El NiƱo" weather this winter.  THAT weather pattern could break this drought we are in and re-fill the reservoirs Fresno and California depend on.  Again, we'll see.

So, a bottom line for this month?  We're doing OK.  Leaving Germany, our international friends and our wonderful Bavarian house was hard.  Facing the prospect of a new life in Fresno ("of all places"), was daunting and made more difficult by having to repeatedly respond to the inquiry: "Why Fresno?"  Maybe quiet months like July provide reasons.

(July 27) So, what did the rest of July bring?  Not too much different than has just been reported.  Weather remains OK, although this week promises some warm days.  Fresno warm.  Above 100F.  We have been seeing Mamo about on schedule, both for dinners and, yesterday, for a swim in her pool.  I expect we will do that again this week as the temperatures rise.

d150725_02_mandm.jpgOne of Marianne's grade school friends visited, after a break of just 54 years.  Way back in 6th or 7th grade, Maria was a new immigrant from the mid-50s revolution in Hungary.  Her family ended up in Monterey and she started at Santa Catalina, where Marianne was assigned as her interpreter.  A year or two later, Maria left for another school and, as near as the girls remember, that was the last time they had seen each other.  After such a gap, it's a bit of a question if there will be things to talk about, but Marianne suspected that would not be a problem.  Indeed, the chatting was as if they were catching up after a year's delay, not half century's.

d150725_04_license.jpgPart of the story was Maria's 1966 experience as Miss Oakland, Miss California, and Miss USA.  Really.  On a whim, Maria had entered the Miss San Francisco contest in 1965, without even telling her parents.  That year, she came in second, but met the organization managers, who the next year put her in the Miss Oakland contest, where she won.  From there it was Miss California and, in Miami Beach, Miss USA.  After a year's contestant-winner duties, Maria stayed with the glamor of New York modeling, instead of returning to her astrophysics studies at Berkley. She remained an East Coat resident for most of the last decades, before returning to Southern California to take care of aging parents. Great story. 

We promised to get together in less than decades.

Now we are returning to a focus on Marianne's upcoming art show.  We hope to have everything hung and waiting tomorrow (28th), giving plenty of time for last minute adjustments before the August 6 event.  I need to make a web page with pictures!  Need to get busy.

Next weekend we will go to Sacramento to cheer nephews Adam and Spencer in a tennis tournament, and maybe there will be other events along the way in our Fresno life.  Who knows?

Take care and write when you can -- and why not visit Fresno?

John and Marianne


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