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Pre-Tropical - Fresno and Monte Sereno

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February 4-8, 2017
Written February 7 +
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

This is a pre- pre- exotic diary. Wednesday we fly to Florida and next Monday we fly to Havana.  Those places are exotic.  For now, I'll talk about Fresno and Monte Sereno, ok, but definitely not exotic.

Fresno did have a day or two with evenings hinting at arrival of Spring.  Our weather has been wet and cool, "good" weather for this desert, but it was nice to have an evening when the neighborhood could assemble again for drinks-on-porches.  Ad hoc gatherings are a tradition on Cambridge Avenue and we do appreciate them, even if they sabotage diets and healthy eating!  On Friday, a few of us found ourselves on Joan and Vern's porch, discussing whatever it is we discuss.  Not politics, since we were a mixed group, and we needed to avoid old-folks topics, since we had a grand-daughter and her friend in attendance.  Nice to keep some things out of bounds.
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d170305_02_fancydine.jpgSaturday was slow.  We definitely had been affected by porch wine, but still had our obligations.  Mostly, the obligations dealt with preparing for our pending trip, but we also wanted to dine with Marianne's mom.  We chose a new restaurant: "The Market".  This is no fancy San Francisco franchise, but a simple Fresno BBQ meal at a real (super)market.  I'm not sure it's a recommended place, but it did serve as a break from our normal places and even Mamo seemed to enjoy it.
d170306_02_avaclimb.jpg Sunday was another meal with Mamo, breakfast at Denny's, definitely a regular haunt and not worthy of new pictures.  By mid-morning we said our goodbyes and went home to pack for real.  This is our first airplane trip in a couple of years and packing is more complicated than the throw-everything-in-the-car approach we have gotten used to. 

Somewhere along the day, we got a report from Ava's birthday party at the rock-climbing wall.  Looked like fun and we looked forward to our own party with the family for Ava's eighth birthday.  (She is definitely getting old!)

On Monday morning, we did all the final packing and preparations to leave the house for almost three weeks.  Ruben will handle the mail and newspapers and he and the neighbors will keep eyes on things.  That is another nice part of Cambridge Avenue.  In the category of just-to-make-sure, I ran around taking pictures of everything, in case the place burns down I suppose.  Does anyone else do this?  Probably not, but we will have a record if needed.   Forever.
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d170306_12_full.jpgThe drive to the Bay Area takes us past San Louis Dam and Reservoir and I was curious about exactly how much of our winter rains had been saved up.  The sign at the visitor's center had changed from last year's water-saving messages to flood preparation instructions.  Outside, the water was reportedly within one foot of being completely full, over 190 feet above August levels of the last couple of years.
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This year's panorama is much different from a year and half ago.

At Gabby's we were welcomed as usual.  The kids listened to Gigi's stories, Charlie was excited, and I played "traffic jam" (= cars) with Sam.  Always fun.
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No sooner had we settled in, than it was off to Sam's soccer training.  A couple of times a week, he gets some one-on-one coaching that he enjoys, even if today's lessons were held in the drizzle.  For me, it was a chance to try out sports photography!
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For dinner, we continued Ava's birthday celebrations. She had climbed a rock wall with friends on Sunday, so this was just a quiet family dinner with presents for desert. Katy Perry had even sent a CD (really!)
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After dinner, Sam and I finished watching the Warriors basketball team win one more on TV.  We are both fans.  Then it was time for Gigi to read bedtime stories and for the kids to get their sleep before Tuesday's REAL birthday celebrations.





Tuesday, March 7: The REAL birthday.
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As is the local tradition, the birthday fairy had come by during the night and decorated Ava's bedroom.  That's our story, and we're sticking.

One more present, a triplet baby carriage, also showed up.   Ava's smile showed it was a good start for her day, even if it was straight to school after this.

d170307_08_luncheon.jpgIt was a short school day, though, so we could go out to Andale's for lunch.  Ava's friend Coco joined us and the girls managed to talk though the whole meal.  Fun.



The finale for this multi-day birthday celebration was a pizza-and-cupcake extravaganza with the Rahimi family.  Six cousins plus  assorted aunts, uncles, and grandmothers made for a nice celebration.  A good time for all!
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d170308_01_earlystart.jpgWednesday morning started early for Marianne and me.  One last look at the peaceful pool and we were on our way to the San Jose airport.  From there it was Denver and Tampa, but that's the next story.

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne

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