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Back Home in Fresno, California, USA

November 18-25, 2015
Written November 22+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

The last diary told of our visit to Geoff, Suzanne, Sean, and Ryan.  A week later, it seems like it was months ago, but that is how trips go.  In any event, that's also one of the reasons for these diaries, so we can easily remember kids before they grow big and others before they grow old(er).

Speaking of remembering, we are still haunted by events in Paris during the last few days of our trip and elsewhere since.  We can not look at TV of the Paris event and not think of our own time spent in Paris restaurants, walking past the squares and monuments, or riding in from the airport past the soccer stadium.  Yesterday, I saw a small CNN piece about the Breakfast in America cafe, just down the street from one of the terror attacks.  We had joined a friend there for Thanksgiving dinner in 2004.  Seeing the current sadness filling the little landmark personalized the terror attacks.  We do hope our French friends and my work colleagues are safe and able to regain the joie de vivre for which Paris is justifiably famous.

Now speaking of the impact of events at home:  I am appalled at the American response to the terror attack. The postulated nexus with Syrian refugees as well as the bigoted anti-Muslim actions happening around the country make me ashamed.  Facts, such as the tiny fraction* of Middle East refugees that have caused any sort of problem in this country, or the minuscule fraction** of Muslims around the world who have adopted radical terrorism, seem to have no impact.  No, instead we have politicians - and large groups of the population - turning their backs on suffering.  The terrorists have won.
(* Three or four of the 750,000 US refugees from all countries over the last several years have been arrested for terrorism charges.
** Less than 0.01% of the 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide belong to ANY of the terrorist groups.)

OK, return to normal entries.

We are back in Fresno and hoping for bad weather.  That's what one does nowadays in California:  pray for rain and storms and cold and snow (mountains only, of course).  We have had one of the rainiest Octobers and Novembers on record, but that still means there has been less than two inches of rain so we cheer for more.  Cold and Sierra snow are forecast for Thanksgiving, so the ski resorts are happy and holiday travelers may be worried, but are not allowed to complain.


Meanwhile we are enjoying sun and Fall colors.  Our street and neighborhood feature a number of trees sporting bright red and yellow and orange leaves. Our old neighborhood is especially nice because many of the trees are huge, dating from the original owners many decades ago.  I suppose none of these are truly California native, but we are tolerant of immigrants here.  (A  bonus around here is that the citrus trees are also showing their color about now.

On our trip, Geoff and Suzanne impressed me with their health and diet regime.  They have each lost about 25 pounds and attribute their success to technology: Fitbit step counters and a calorie and exercise-counting app (MyFitnessPal).  Every meal would find them noodling on their phones, updating their food records and celebrating when they had made their 5,000 or 10,000 steps for the day.  

d151121_10_walk.jpgI was so impressed that I went out and bought my own step counter and started my own food and exercise record.  More significantly, Marianne and I have both resolved to watch what we eat and to be consistent about exercise.  On most days that means trips to gyms, but on this Saturday I grabbed a camera and opted for a walk around the Tower District. (More than 5,000 steps!)

"The Tower" is not everyone's idea of a nice neighborhood.   It isn't really quaint or trendy and it has seen better days.  All of us locals trust it will see even better days, once properity returns to Fresno, but that may be a long time coming.
My first photo theme was graffiti and wall art.  Fresno has a lot of this, and we even have a district famous for city-sponsored wall painting.  These local Tower examples may never make the graffiti hall of fame, but it's better than blank walls.  I think.
The next theme was representative Tower architecture.  Obviously, that needs to include the Tower Theater that gives the district its name.  So many of the other commercial buildings are nondescript, but a Mexican Bakery, an out-of-business antique store, and a new "Vape Shop" struck me as "representative".
d151121_30_fhs.jpgLast, but not least, was Fresno High School, a newly refurbished landmark.
The other buildings that represent the Tower District are houses, both little post-war bungalows (in widely varying states of repair) and large homes (mostly in good shape) dating from earlier prosperity, up to a century ago.

d151121_39_ourhouse.jpgMy 2.5 mile walk brought me back home, to our own historic-by-California-standards house: The Peckinpah House.   It was the house that brought us here and we still like the place, even when we get discouraged by a neighborhood that needs improvement.  In fact, my walk had made me hopeful, for some reason.  Sure, there are rough spots around here, but I promise not to dwell on gang houses (across the street), murders (across the railroad tracks), beggars and "shopping cart" people (everywhere).  I'll think of the nice home and Fall colors

Speaking of color, our back yard even has flowers hanging on.  The roses are tired, but still colorful.  Some bushes have their tiny blue decorations.  Our orange tree actually has oranges this year!  (Last year it was completely bare.)  Of course, our bocce court has "color" too, leaves that I need to get out and clean

d151121_56_art.jpgd151121_54_art.jpgLast but not least, we have the color of a real artist's studio and work table.  Marianne plans to add to her work, just as soon as she has time.  In the end, time is the thing we do not have enough of, despite retirement.

I don't know what else will happen this week, except Thanksgiving down in Monte Sereno, but that will be another story.

John and Marianne


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