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Family, Easter, and Friends

April 15-22, 2017
Written April 18+ +
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

This is another family-and-friends diary, one without much in the way of exotic tourism - actually, nothing exotic at all.  I like to think we are saving up all our exotica for the near (or far) future.  In the meantime, we do want a record of normal life and you are free to skip anything that is of little interest.  Always true.
d170415_02_painter.jpgMarianne is getting active again with her art.  She finished this Havana-inspired car painting and is starting another of an early-50s Studebaker Champion.  I have taken hundreds of old car pictures, so this can go as long as she likes.  In between she is doing more of the ten-by-ten, layered, multi-media pieces.  (Pictures when done.)

d170415_10_fencebefore.jpgd170415_12_fenceafter.jpgMy creative work is much less artistic.  The fence behind Marianne's mom's house has had a falling-down section for many months now and we finally moved from talk to action about fixing it.  Of course, the definitive fix would be a three- or four-thousand-dollar replacement, but that will have to wait for another year.  Instead, I found bamboo panels at Lowe's that are made to mask ugliness - just what was ordered and not too hard, all things considered.

While working in this corner, I also volunteered to put in the stone border Mamo has been asking about for over a year.  This job seemed easy in concept but has turned out to be much more difficult in practice.  The ground is "hard pan", local jargon for dirt that is as hard as asphalt when dry.  This year's record rainfall has weakened it just enough to allow a trench for the trim and border.  Nevertheless, it is a slow process of digging up the old rock-laden dirt, setting a border, refilling a firm base, and finding rocks that meet the customer's requirements. 
Starting, working, and finished rock border.

Inside supervisors and their time clock (which I also had to fix!)

Our big picture spread will be of the Easter Brunch down at Gabby's.  We committed to a one-day, down-and-back drive, something we have not wanted to do before.  The long drives made sense in order to allow Mamo to join us with the Rahimi family at Gabby's.

Mamo dressed in her Easter colors and we filled up the car with walkers (but no suitcases this time).  Even with a Starbucks stop, it was well under our normal three hours.  Easy.

Sam welcomed us in the garage, Gabby in her Easter-themed house, and Ava showed us what the EB had left for her. Mamal welcomed us too, but like fathers everywhere, he shows up less in pictures.  A fun start.
The first organized task was to hide the plastic eggs.  Zoe and Charlie supervised.
The six cousins did their very best at chasing down all the planted goodies, making sure that even little Layla got her share.
Mamal organized a cousin picture, with all the kids quietly sitting side-by-side.  Our story.
The best shot.  (By Gabby and her iPhone)
By now, everyone was hungry.  Layla enjoyed the strawberry dessert from Uncle Mamal.
After brunch, it was time for more talking. 
Ava and Uncle Ollie decided to create an Easter Story book.  Darn creative!
And, as a quiet finale, Ava and Sam decorated "Peeps", those pure-sugar marshmallow candies so traditional for Easter.  Growing up in the Trotter family, they were required. In the more modern Rahimi household, I think they magically disappear before many are eaten. 

It was a great Easter and even facing the drive back didn't seem so bad.  We left by about 4:00pm and found that extra half-hour we had saved on the drive over.  Pacheco Pass was a parking lot while a three-plus vehicle accident was cleared in the narrowest part of the highway.  Oh well, our day's average for the Fresno-Monte Sereno round trip was still six hours.  Worth it.

The rest of our week was largely unplanned, except for finishing the work at Mamo's (see above).  That free time turned out to be useful, since I suffered a case of "food poisoning" on Thursday evening that laid me low for a few days!  I had not had as serious a gastro attack since the tropical Brazilian days, forty years ago.  The ONLY good effect is weight lose that comes from not even wanting to eat anything.

By Saturday afternoon, I though I was healthy enough to join our neighbors for our periodic "nice" dinner.  This time Jon and Susan were hosting and they had set a Chinese Food theme.  It was all good to start with.  Joan and Vern brought a great selection of dim sum items that we munched out on the patio.  From there it was a soup and salad course at the nicely-set dining table.  At that point I gave up.  I was not as recovered as I had hoped.  Too bad since Marianne reported that the conversation was animated and folks did enjoy the evening.  I look forward to our next dinner!

With that, I'll end this diary.  Nothing planned anyway, at least until next week when visitors from Germany arrive.  Stay tuned.
John and Marianne


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