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 Fresno to Monterey - Family

January 11-21, 2018
Written January 15+
Dear Diary and Friends and Family,

No exciting national parks this time, just a few places to keep track of family events.  Unlike Facebook, Trotter.ws does not force our mundane events upon our friends, unless you have asked for it!  At least there are no advertisements and, as far as I know, no hidden tracking algorithms. (This diary started well before the idea of tracking algorithms was a thing.)

Last week (11th), Marianne prepared a special dinner for a few of her mom's friends.  There really was no occasion, just fulfilling one of those we-have-to-get-together promises folks make from time to time.   One down and a bunch more to go.  (The nice place setting shown here was even nicer before I spilled red wine on the original - white - table cloth.  I may be losing my helper certificate.)

d180111_04_group.jpgLanguage and conversation were interesting.  Florence, as a second-generation immigrant, is fluent in New Jersey-accented Hungarian - and voluble in English!  Steve's Hungarian is a bit more limited, but I am still impressed when second-generation hyphenated Americans (Hungarian-American) retain anything of their original home language.  Better than I can do in ANY extra language I have tried.

d180111_06_converse.jpgIldiko was an end-of-the-war escapee from Hungary, like Mamo.   We pressed her for "her story" and she graciously told of her own move to America.  That path was not unlike that of Marianne's family, although with the last name of Habsburg, Ildiko and her family had even more incentive to escape from the anti-royalists Communists.  There are interesting stories everywhere. 

On Saturday (13th) Marianne had to attend to her art pieces at M Street.  Fresno Art Hop is a relatively big deal on "first Thursdays," but the "first Saturday" replay is pretty quiet.  In principle, even quiet days are good for exposure, but this one served as four quiet hours.
I took the time to see if any of the other Art Hop venues were any busier.  They weren't.   Nevertheless, I enjoyed some time down at Chris Sorensen's studio.   He was working on a giant flower, built from old coat hangers - one of his favorite art mediums.  His next favorite seems to be old paint cans.  Or almost any piece of old metal. 

Later in the week, we crossed the foggy San Joaquin Valley to visit the Monterey family.  The plan was for nothing too exciting, just a little driving help for our two metal-implant patients Chris and Spencer.  When we arrived, it was good to see Spencer off crutches, much improved since earlier reports!  Meanwhile, Chris was moving around on his knee-scooter and even driving for the first time in six weeks.  Good progress.
Settling in at the Hidas Homestead, we joined the family watching screens - it's what America does nowadays.  Only Szofi avoids being sucked in.  At least we are all doing it in the same room - mostly.
d180117_10_dinner.jpgDinner was a taco spread, popular with all the crew.  Some day, Chris will return to the table for meals, but right now he wants to avoid under-table bumps.  Understandable.

The rest of the stay has been pretty quiet.  Thursday (photo-free) dinner with Klare and Jack.  Thanks. 

On Friday, we provided Spencer Uber service for his doctor appointment up in Los Gatos.  It has been four months since his right femur snapped as he was warming up to play some volleyball.   Since then, he has moved from wheelchair to a pair of crutches to a single crutch to regular walking.  Very impressive.

d180119_04_detail.jpgd180119_02_spencedoc.jpgd180120_30_oldspencer.jpgThe doctor gave us a review of the X-ray pictures from the  September event (left) until now. The ability for the bone to rebuild is quite remarkable.  The doctor also said Spencer can start any sort of sports he wants, from soccer to skiing.  In fact, he said progress will be even faster with bouncing and stressing of the building bone.  In a few more months, the titanium rod will be removed and this whole episode should fade in memory.  Hopefully.

d180119_08_lunch.jpg Since the doctor appointment was in her neighborhood, we took the opportunity to have lunch with Gabby at Shiroi Sushi.  We opted for sushi because it is a favorite of our patient and his cousin and aunt.  Even the Uber driver is ok with good raw fish and this Shiroi's offerings definitely qualified.

From there, it was an hour-and-a-half drive back to Monterey, a remarkably quick trip for a Friday afternoon out of the Bay Area.  Back home, we got more medical reports, this time from Chris and his first physical therapy session for his broken ankle. Good news on this front too, as he can now start putting pressure on the joint and its array of pins, screws, and rods. He is even choosing to graduate from the knee-scooter to crutches.  Congratulations!
Marianne and I had been invited by Klare and Jack to their favorite Thai restaurant, Pacific Thai Cuisine, another deviation from our diets, I'm afraid, but really quite tasty. Thanks, Klare!

We got back to the Colton Street home in plenty of time for one more activity:  hanging pictures in our cottage.  Chris had assembled several composites of the family's Grand European Tour of a few years ago - including their stop at our mini-castle home.  Great memories for all of us.

d180119_30_adam.jpgSurrounded by all this picture-hanging activity, nephew Adam honed his Overwatch skills, a worldwide multi-player game, where he ranks in the top fraction of a percent. Both he and his brother manage to balance tough school loads with "too much" screen time and plenty of exercise, current exception for Spencer notwithstanding.   Nice kids who are a credit to mom and dad - and themselves.

Saturday is started with no plans, other than a session at my Starbucks' office to add to this little diary.   After writing and posting, I swung by home and picked up Marianne for breakfast.  We tried out Aliotti's Victorian Corner in Pacific Grove and enjoyed both the friendly atmosphere and the straight-forward food the place has apparently been serving for forty years.

From there, it was a drive through Carmel Valley, looking at fancy houses mostly.  Looking at places we can not afford is a recurring activity when we visit the area.  Too bad we didn't buy in when we were ten-years-old.

We made it back to the Colton Street house (which WAS purchased when Marianne was about ten) but I quickly left for the gym, in part to avoid snacking.  For me, that may be the best weight-control impact from exercising.  In any event, I think I worked off this morning's pancakes.
d180120_10_tennistwo.jpgAfter my exercise, it was time to take Adam back over to Chamisal Tennis Club where he has a weekly session of hitting balls with Mike, a friend with similar-level skills, pretty high-level skills at that.  It is interesting to see Adam progress as he gets older and stronger.  And all that time spent playing Overwatch may be improving his reactions!

d180120_24_horsdo.jpgBack home it was time to chill before another family dinner.  Jack and Klare came over and we started with cheese, salami, crackers, and wine. I am pretty sure my daily calorie flow shifted to more-in-than-out at this point.  Oh well, it's all good.
d180120_20_mixing.jpgMeanwhile Marianne was teaching Spencer how to make crepes (Hungarian palascinta, actually.) He is in a cooking class at school and is really getting into the cooking spirit. Especially the taste testing.

The main course was a wonderful beef stew, slow-cooked using Leisa's favorite recipe.
The food was properly accompanied by spirited family conversation, including a call-in appearance by Chris' and Marianne's brother Tom.  He may have thought the animated conversation was wine-fueled, but it was mostly just a family enjoying Saturday dinner the way it should be done.

Sunday morning started with diary writing again.  (Klare actually checks every day and I did not want to disappoint a fan!)

The rest of the day was simple: hang around Monterey awhile; head back across the hills and flatlands to Fresno;  dinner with Marianne's mom, the last event in our string of family meals.  All in all, a great way to go off any diet.  (I gained three pounds over the weekend, so now I am back to normal discipline for at least as many days as I was off-program.)

Nothing exciting on the horizon although I do want some time in Yosemite or Sequoia for snow pictures. We'll see.

John and Marianne


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