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Fresno Routine: A Luau, a walk with Mamo, Yosemite, and ???

April 30-May 5, 2016
Written May 2+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

OK, so I finished up the last diary, the one with activities-while-Marianne-was-in-class.  I'd like this diary to be a wonderful, new, and exciting story, about a trip to exotic places, but it isn't.  It's another simple record of life in the Central Valley (aka Fresno and surrounds.)  I'll try to figure out something more interesting by the end of this week, but for now I will start the May record with simple enough things: a neighborhood gathering and a walk with Mamo.

d160430_02_cambridge.jpgThe neighborhood gathering wasn't IN the neighborhood exactly, but rather a benefit luau for the Fresno State University Women's Swim and Dive Team.  This is an annual event, and our bunch comes out to support Jeanne Fleck, the swim coach and a neighbor.  In past years, the weather has been either hot, or windy, or rainy or a combination.  This year, it was perfect.  Thanks, coach.

The luau has a routine to it now: Greet neighbors we see all the time as if we don't; Deposit our raffle tickets at the FSU swag of choice; Watch an Asian-Pacific dance show; Bid in a silent auction for donated treasures (not this year for us - not tempted); Fill plates from a decent buffet; Drink all the wine we can find; And end with a dessert auction.  Here's the visual record:
Happy neighbors.
Fancy dancing and dancers.
Jeanne and Pat organized the auctions, including the dessert contributions from all the swimmers.  (We won the coconut cake - about a zillion calories per slice.  I imagine swimmers can get away with it, but us?)

d160501_02_lantern.jpgd160501_10_resting.jpgOn Sunday, The First of May, we decided to finish my rained-out visit to Shinzen Friendship Park, this time with Mamo in tow.   The weather was perfect, not the cool of Spring and certainly not the oven-like summer temperatures Fresno will send our way in a few months.

I tried my hand at animal pictures again, resident geese and the peacock that stood on the park gate and screamed. Kids loved it, but I'll bet the gate attendant has had her fill.
The highlight of the visit was the Clark Bonsai Collection Garden.  Judy, a volunteer docent, gave us the remarkable background on some of the trees.  One is estimated to be over 700 years old, even more remarkable when one considers the wars and fires that were part of that history.
The trunks of the largest, oldest specimens have been carefully formed over hundreds of years, far more sculptures than plants.
Out in the real world, I appreciated these younger trees even more somehow, especially the shade they provided for pleasant walks.
After all that exercise, we needed a good dinner.  We tried a new place out in Clovis, "Vino and Friends Bistro", a combination wine-bar and restaurant.  It was remarkably good, so good that we NEEDED to order a caramel ice cream and cookie dessert.  So much for diets, but Mamo needs the pounds anyway.

The next "event" was that Marianne left for a mother-daughter weekend with Gabby.  Any time she is gone, I am required to go "do something".  That is training from my childhood when my mom would not tolerate kids around the house saying they were bored.  Her response: "Put on a coat and go outside!"  I don't suppose parents do that nowadays and it is a loss for kids, but it programmed me to come up with a plan when I am alone.

The original plan was to go into the mountains for star pictures Friday night.  There would be no moon that night so, in principle, great results would be "easy".  I had never tried stars before, and needed to start sometime, however desert-dry California had rain forecast from Mexico to Oregon, from the Pacific coast to Death Valley.  Good for farmers and gardeners, but not so much for night photographers.

As a consolation, I decided to spend Friday up in Yosemite nevertheless, scouting photography location in the rain if nothing else.  Good decision.  On my first stop beside a river, I drug out the tripod and filters and did some of the slow-exposures that are so easy, but impressive (since they are not practical by iPhones, the new standard.)  Walking back to the car, another park visitor asked if I got anything good.  I thought and responded: "It's Yosemite.  Everything is good."

So, here's my day's work:
Stream pictures, including one in the shadow (?) of El Capitan at Cathedral Grove.
  Cathedral Grove also provided a bonus wildlife shoot.  A Coyote walked by the car and then spent time by the stream digging for food (and posing).
Tunnel View.  Still the best, even in clouds.
My view at lunch and my box lunch. (Meanwhile, Marianne and Gabby were dining a bit better.)
Bridal Veil.  From the distance of Tunnel View and a wet up-close.
Yosemite Falls.  With this much water, even the clouds are OK.
So, that was it.  Two hours to home and a return to regular activities. Mom would have been proud of my outdoor adventure.

More?  Nope.

John and Marianne


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