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July 22-30, 2016Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,
Written July 26+
I really have little in mind as I plan this diary. No trips of any note. No visitors. No parties. So, why a diary? Good question. Maybe it's just habit or, maybe, a fear that life unrecorded will be unremembered, even a week or two lost forever. Nah ... boredom I think.
Brian and family left on Tuesday and by Thursday we had caught up on anything we had delayed during the family's visit: gardening, cleaning, shopping, etc. That's when we realize how uneventful our life here in Fresno can be, so we need to look around, outside our normal routine at least a little.
For Friday (22nd), we read a notification for a play being held at the Gallery 1821, a location we have visited before on Art Hop days, so the idea of live theater in the small space was interesting. Marianne called to ask about tickets only to learn that the play was sold out, or actually "standing room only". By now we were set on the destination, so we signed up to stand for as long as required.
We arrived early and, since we were the first standers arriving (or because we were seniors?), the gallery owner granted us real seats. Nice. We killed time by looking at recent art additions to 1821 and I found two artists particularly interesting on this evening:
But the main event was The Collection, a play written, designed, and directed by Al Schnupp, a faculty member at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The play tells the story of Peggy Guggenheim and her life as an art collector from 1912 to 1974. Each three-minute scene was a snapshot of Ms Guggenheim's life, mostly in Europe, as she moved from one favorite-painter to another.
The "stage" was a large folding box, whose walls held reproduction samples of the 34 works of the artists who interacted with the Ms Guggenheim in each scene. Some were friends. Some were lovers. Some were even husbands. The play described a collection of relationships as much as a collection of art. The hour-and-a-half passed in a flash.
Saturday was a return to normal chores, starting with cleaning up this broken tree limb in our back yard. Our trees are old, and apparently subject to rot and failure. (No, NOT like us!) The heavy trimming done in the Spring had not detected this particular weakness, but at least the big limbs hanging over the house itself had been trimmed away.
(Three days later, I can not for the life of me remember anything else we did on Saturday! I vaguely remember some shopping and a swim over at Mamo's, but I really have become dependent on photos to create memories. Not an entirely encouraging realization.)
On Sunday, I do remember we read the newspapers: The Fresno Bee and The New York Times. This is a ritual I missed for all the years we lived overseas, when reading real papers - in English - was rare. My German or Russian were never good enough to ENJOY any reading and internet editions just aren't the same. The content of the newspapers was not happy, especially the terrorism attacks in Bavaria, in towns we knew. In towns where, on a Sunday without newspapers, we might have found ourselves visiting.
After news, breakfast, and lunch, we headed downtown to a show by local artist Nick Potter titled "1000 Utopias". His work featured "brutalist" architecture, painted into real-but-not scenes. For awhile we were the only people in the gallery and we chatted with Nick about his vision of the austere, concrete structures. He had grown up in housing blocks in London and developed an affinity to such blocks, when done correctly by the likes of Le Corbusier. (On the right, is a Le Corbusier housing unit in Paris, juxtaposed on a rough bank of the Thames, with Mine Craft clouds overhead. Wonderful imagination.)
Our next Sunday stop was the Cardella Winery, located near Mendota. Our goal was a drive as much as a wine tasting and Cardella fit the bill. We drove on straight, flat, long, country highways for almost an hour, past vineyards, almond orchards, tomato fields, watermelon harvesting, and generally farms that stretched as far as we could see.
The winery tasting room was large and welcoming, set next to a reconstructed Tuscan farm house and a cooling pool and fountain. The contrast with the miles and miles of dusty fields was striking.
The "work week" started with a forecast of ten days of triple-digit heat. Ouch. We needed to go somewhere, but could not figure out where.
To complicate our lives, our local power company identified Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as those dreaded "PGE Smart Days", days when we need to turn everything off between 2 and 7pm. At these temperatures, that means we need to leave the house. Now what?
These periods of triple-digit days strike me a lot like winter snowstorms elsewhere in the world. Doing anything outside is not recommended. With proper climate control, it's best to just huddle inside and read or watch TV. And, unfortunately, eat. Driving outside is better than in ice and snow, however, and the season is relatively short compared to where we lived 15 years ago. Eight months of Kiev winters were not my cup of tea.
So, I really have nothing to report. Every day, we do early morning chores, have light breakfasts and lunches, make ourselves go to our gyms, go to Mamo's for pool time, and then out to dinner in some air conditioned restaurant (or a cook over at Mamo's.) We try to turn the air conditioner on as soon after 7pm as we can and hope the house cools down enough before bedtime. Sometimes it does, but not always.
One impact of the heat seemed to be added noise from our old refrigerator. The appliance came with the house, so we really don't know how old it is, but the kitchen was remodeled after it was installed. We know this because the floor was built up around it and the space no longer fits any current refrigerators. We will need to renew electric, water, floor, and cabinet. Old houses!
We started our Saturday with a trip out to Clovis, first to a farmers' market that is held there Thursday evening and Saturday morning. The Thursday evening market was canceled for the first time in 30 years due to heat. The street surface was upwards of 120F and even tough farmers balk at that. In the morning, it was warm, but not too bad. We did our shopping (last berries of the season) and moved on to refrigerator shopping. The Clovis dealer was as helpful and friendly as they had been for our other appliances two years ago, so we signed up and were firmly committed to the minor remodel (as if ANY old-house remodel is minor.)
And that's the end of this diary. Like I said, nothing special, mostly just a record of our rose-wilting weather.
John and Marianne
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