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Friends and Family in Fresno

May17-June 4, 2017
Written June 1+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

I think summer is finally starting, but we are still staying around Fresno.  That's OK, since the San Juaquin Valley heat hasn't hit yet and we have almost-perfect temperatures - warm days, cool nights.  If we time things right, we will be traveling to the mountains, the coast, and the Northwest when the 100s (and 110s) arrive.  That's the plan, anyway.

Our Memorial Day Weekend event was a last-minute BBQ with the Cambridge Avenue folks left behind on the holiday.  I think we are all getting old because everyone said the same things: No holiday traffic for us! Maybe not "old" exactly, more like  "been there, done that".
A dozen neighbors met behind Gene and Nancy's 90-year-old home.  Nice place.  Nice backyard.  Nice neighbors.  We often meet on front porches for wine and talk, so this gathering was only slightly different: back yard, with food added.  Still, plenty of chit chat.

Gene had slow roasted and shredded a pork roast and (coach) Jean provided a tri-tip, the most typical of Fresno BBQ meats.  The rest of us contributed veggie and cold-cut appetizers, chips with the "Salsa Diva's" dip, coleslaw, and ice cream bars for dessert.  The local paper had been touting "It's It" bars as THE holiday dessert and Marianne had been lucky enough to score a couple of boxes. 
And there was plenty of wine.  There always is.  And talk.  There always is.  Nice gathering and no one had to fight traffic!

The next "pre-summer" event was yet another birthday party for Sam, this time over at Mamo's house.  Honestly, it was just an excuse for celebration and cake and pictures of family.
First, we gathered around as Sam opened his Fresno gifts - toys, money, and soccer shoes.

Then he needed to count the money, try on the shoes, play with the toys, and touch base with mom.

A birthday party isn't complete without cake and six candles, this time a "crepe cake" as well as cup cakes.

Ava was not left out.  She got a nice necklace and, to wrap things up, some birthday candles for her too.

The day ended with everyone happy and tired, as birthday parties should end.

On Friday morning, I did my usual diary-writing session at Starbucks before the crew woke up. 
When I got back, Sam and Ava had woken up, but just barely.  Sam, particularly, is not an early morning person, but the two of them did eventually work up enough energy for a quiet word game.  

By now, even the adults were active enough for breakfast and the start of our day.  I'm not sure we had a a big plan after that, other than a bit of time back at our own house.

I settled in watching Thursday's Warriors basketball game.  Viewing recorded games has become my normal evening activity, but all our family events had disturbed my pattern.  That's what grandkids are for, however.
While I watched basketball, Sam staged his little dinosaurs and animals for battle on the kitchen table.  Given a collection of toy animals or cars, that's what he will do almost every time - arrange and then smash together.  I suppose we should figure out what this means for his future.
While I was loafing at the TV and Sam was organizing battles in the kitchen, Ava was challenging her grandmother and great-grandmother in a card game on the patio.  I asked if everyone had fun and everyone said "Yes!".   Mamo was particularly proud that she had won a game or two.  Pretty good at 97-years-young.

The plan was to simply return to Mamo's for an afternoon swim and dinner.  Gabby left with the kids and Marianne loaded up her mom in the Audi, only to discover that the car battery had died.  New plan needed. We shifted cars, drove to Mamo's, came back home for the Audi Road Service guy to give us a jump, and return to Mamo's via the take-out dinner restaurant.  And I drove Marianne's car around for 30 minutes to make sure there was enough charge.   So much for "simple".

Through it all, Ava and Sam enjoyed themselves.  It's what they do.  First, there was a session of pool play on Sam's new floating baseball glove.  A good test of cooperation.  Then they put on a sister and brother dancing exhibition.  They are both hams.
d170602_30_firstdive.jpgd170602_32_moredance.jpgd170602_34_mamo.jpgAs the day grew darker, Ava started practicing her swim-team dive and managed to get it right.  Reportedly, this was a first.  Congratulations! That was followed by yet another dancing exhibition, before an appreciative audience of Sam, Mom, Gigi, and Mamo.  (And, of course, Opa, the photographer.)

Whew!  Another full day.  That's they way it is with visitors, especially eight- and six-year-olds.

Marianne and I had left the little family over at Mamo's for Friday night.  We started our Saturday at the local farmer's market, where Marianne managed to go through $35 for two small bags of fruits and veggies.  This is a nice market, with real farmers offering their fresh goods, but no bargains.  No matter.  Speaking of no bargain, Gabby managed to text ahead an order for her morning coffee, something we were glad to provide.

d170603_10_tree.jpgd170603_12_havest.jpgAt Mamo's, I wasted no time in putting the kids to work harvesting grapefruits from the huge tree in front.  We have been picking from this tree for months now, and the supply seems inexhaustible.

d170603_30_breakfast.jpgWe turned a few of the fruits into juice and enjoyed an outdoor breakfast.  The current weather really is perfect for this.
By now, the pool was looking quite inviting, at least it was after I fished out all the pretty, pink flowers.
No sooner had I cleaned the pool surface, than Sam and Ava added their own float - the baseball mitt.  They kept trying to stand up like the California surfers they hope to become, but it generally resulted in screams and splashes.

Then, they returned to swim team training, their own version anyway.  I really do not understand where all their energy comes from.  Mamo thoroughly enjoyed supervising and it seems the kids energy transfered over to her as she did it.  Great workout for everyone.
Eventually, it was time for hugs and goodbyes.  We all hated to see the travelers leave, especially since a return trip isn't yet scheduled. Marianne and I have our own travel plans, with two short trips and one long one taking up most of the next two months.  Meanwhile, Gabby and family have their own summer activities and plans.  August, maybe August, for a trip down to see them, but it will be hard to squeeze it in before the kids go back to school.

Time is flying by all too quickly.

d170603_62_nicetable.jpgThe last part of this friends and family diary covers our Saturday evening dinner with three other Cambridge Avenue couples.  Towery's hosted this month's dinner, the third in a new-tradition series.  As is our pattern, we started with Marianne's hors d'oeuvres and chat chat and then moved to Nancy's nicely set table for Joan's salad and more talk.  The toast was followed by more chatter and Gene's main course of halibut, my favorite fish.  The finale was home made ice cream sandwiches from Jon and Susan. And more talk.  (Perhaps too much talk, on my part anyway.  Apologies to all, if the discussion of how-to-fix-Fresno went beyond where it should have.)

And so ended our friends-and-family week.

Next week, we have a guided tour of Yosemite coming up and the following week a visit to Monterey family.   After that should be our big drive to the Pacific Northwest. 

Stay tuned,



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