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Visitors ---  Chin and Peter

October 26-29, 2015
Written October 28+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

On Sunday, after the big birthday party for Marianne, we came back from the Bay Area with lots of presents and two visitors.  One of many surprises for Marianne was having house guests, but like all the other surprises, it was all good.

We have known Chin and Peter from the days in Kiev, over a decade ago now and we even have a reunion of the Kiev friends in a few weeks where we will see them again, so having them a few days was great.  Mostly we used the time to chat, cook and eat, play a little bocce and ping pong, and do a little bit of tourism. 

d151026_02_fixdinner.jpgd151026_04_eating.jpgThe chatting included Peter and me talking about retirement, a topic both families are working out.  All four of us discussed current politics, prompted by the Republican debates.  All being Democrats, agreement was relatively easy.  The cooking and eating featured both Marianne's and Chin's cooking and my own steak BBQ.  These may be the last outdoor dinners of the season.  Too bad,

Peter and I managed a little bocce (he won) and Marianne and Chin joined in the sports when it turned to ping pong. (Marianne won -- like usual).  It was all fun!

On Tuesday, after some errands, we decided to stop by two of our favorite art locations in Fresno.  The first was Kliszewski Glass, a workshop for some of the most imaginative glass sculptures we have seen.  Marianne had been hankering for some of her own and I think she used the guests' interest as an excuse! 

I find the whole process of creating art glass fascinating.  Blobs of hot glass are combined with colors and shaped by an almost-magic process.  Each step depends on the artists' skills and experience and Bob Kliss has been making these pieces for over 15 years.  He makes it look straightforward, but watching closely shows dozens of individual steps, each a combination of skill, imagination, and experience.  I loved taking pictures of such artistry at work.

A fascinating process.

Both Chin and Marianne brought home souvenirs.

d151027_50_artshop.jpgd151027_52_color.jpgOur other go-to art stop in Fresno is Valerie Green's "Brush & Easel".  Marianne has taken classes from Valerie and has some hope of adding some of her own works to the Brush and Easel offering from local artists.  We'll see about that, but it remains a pleasant and special stop for our visitors.

Visitors to Fresno all need to head into the Sierra Nevada mountains, either to Yosemite or to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  Yosemite really needs a few days for a visit, so a better day trip is the closer Sequoia or King's Canyon.  (The two parks share an entrance about 70 minutes east from our house.) 

For Chin and Peter, we chose Sequoia, since Kings Canyon was still closed due to the Rough Fire, a blaze that started in July and still prevents entrance to that national park.  That's too bad, since it is a dramatic location, almost as dramatic as the much more famous canyon up in Yosemite Valley.  Here is Wednesday's visual record.

Pose on the drive up.  The trip had lots of posing.

General Grant Grove -- The traditional first stop, for us and for French bus loads.  This tree is reportedly the widest and third largest (by volume) in America.

A rock Marianne liked and a view over I liked.

A lesson in Sequoia trees by the Park Ranger

General Sherman - The world's largest (by volume) tree

The view from Moro Rock - A spectacular end of the route.

d151029_02_bye.jpgOn Thursday morning, Chin and Peter had to return to San Francisco in anticipation of tomorrow's flight back to the East Coast.  It didn't seem like a real goodbye since we would see each other in just ten days.  That too will be fun, but this may have been better, because we had more time.  More time is always better.

d151029_10_pink.jpgd151029_12_yellow.jpgNow we have to work on our normal chores, including appreciating the last of our rose garden offerings.  I do like the Fresno weather, at least when we can be gone in the hottest days.  Let's start planning on something for next summer.

Tomorrow we head to a wedding over in Monterey, another story.

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne


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