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Spencer and Monterey Family

March 16-18, 2018
Written March 18+
Dear Diary and Friends and Family,
This is another family diary, not exciting tourism, but a record for our own future reminiscences.

Fresno activities have been unremarkable: our gym visits; my garden puttering; Marianne's art (her next show is just a couple months away); dinners and visits with Mamo.  Weather has turned wet -- good for those of us in this almost-desert.   And the Sierras are finally getting snow, late for holiday skiers but welcome for summer water supply.  It's all good.

A couple months ago we had driven nephew Spencer to a doctor checkup in Los Gatos.  He passed that one fine, but now he needed another exam and we volunteered chauffeur service again.  A help to working couples from the retired folks.

On Thursday we headed from Fresno to Monterey and swung through Hollister for lunch.  We had not been in the farm town for years and were very favorably impressed with the quaint old downtown homes.  We chose the Running Rooster among the several downtown restaurants Yelp listed and came away impressed there too.  We may need to make this a regular stop!

d180315_06_pups.jpgThe drive over the coastal hills to Monterey was wet, but uneventful.  When we arrived at the family homestead on Colton Street, we introduced ourselves to Cooper, the new puppy. Over home-made chili and a bit of wine, we spent our first evening catching up with the pup and all the other activities.  The Hidas family has been handling the chaos of the new canine addition, two jobs, two schools, a broken leg, a broken arm, and a fractured-and-pinned ankle. I get tired just thinking of their routine.

Helping with the drive to the Los Gatos doctor seemed the least we could do.  It's actually not a bad drive, ninety minutes or so, and there are two available routes.  With all the rain, we opted for a morning drive north via Highway 99, avoiding the slightly shorter Highway 17 connection. That commuter-heavy road from Santa Cruz is notorious for rain-caused landslides. 
At 10:15, the clinic took another picture of Spencer's right leg, complete with the titanium pin and three screws. A nurse and a nurse-practitioner did a preliminary interview, approving of Spencer's report of no pain and much improved mobility.  They took in stride his report of having recently broken his arm roller-skating. Then Dr. Frick stopped in for the real exam and Spencer had to walk, hop, and retell the no-pain-but-a-broken-arm story. Everybody seemed happy with the progress, noting that the hardware might even be removed next summer.  For me, I remain in awe that such surgery can be so successful.

d180316_06_reward.jpgd180316_08_gabbytoo.jpgWe left the doctor and, after a quick stop to buy decorations for Saturday's St. Patrick's Day dinner, headed to a sushi lunch with Gabby.  Spencer had earned his "Dragon Roll" and it's always fun for the cousins to visit.

Leaving Los Gatos for Monterey, we tried our luck on Highway 17 and discovered, once again, that this is a bad idea.  Half of the drive over the coastal mountains was done at walking speed as the Highway Patrol cleared up an accident.  Oh well, one needs to be flexible, even at retirement age.

Despite the traffic, we made it back in time for Chris to take Spencer to their physical therapy sessions.  It is a father-and-son event as Chris gets his fused ankle worked on while Spencer focuses on the last of his leg work.  Sheesh.  It was good to see that both are doing well, however.
d180316_12_girls.jpgClare, Jack, and little Bijoux hosted the whole crowd for dinner.  As usual, it was great food, even if there was a slight delay when the initial chunk of fish was judged spoiled and had to be replaced at the nearby grocery store.
As it turned out, the added time allowed even more chatting and made sure everyone was hungry.
d180316_18_hungarians.jpgAfter dinner, Chris and Marianne told jokes in Hungarian, or at least that's what we non-speakers assume they were doing. Reportedly, they were just playing with the strange sounds of the language.  Strange indeed, but it caused as much hearty laughter as any pair of stand-up comedians.

A perfect end to a long day.

Saturday morning started with an early rain-out of Leisa's and friend Karen's 10K charity run up in Santa Cruz.  They may be dedicated runners, but drenching rain and a dark 6 am leave time convinced them they had better things to do.

While the family was getting weekend-morning sleep, Marianne and I slipped out early for breakfast at The Red House Cafe, a place that is also becoming a standard stop for us.  Since we had nothing else planned for the morning, I went back to grab my camera and we returned to wander through town.

d180317_02_plants.jpgd180317_04_freebies.jpgOur first stop was at a "horticulture fair" in downtown Monterey.  This is an annual event where donated plants and cuttings find new, bargain-seeking, owners.  Everything is free and it makes for a fun event.  We would have joined in, but plants grown for the moist coastal climate just are no match for Fresno's semi-desert.  Too bad.

Next door, I was distracted with a pretty view of the historic Colton Hall where the original California constitution was worked out.  Next door to Colton Hall, potted flowers decorating old Monterey City Hall offered further picture subjects. 
Across the street, The Fresno Art Museum was featuring local women artists and our own family woman artist said she "needed" an art fix.  That worked for me too, since this is a smallish art museum, just right for a quick drop in.

d180317_26_hanneman2.jpgd180317_24_hanneman1.jpgSome of our favorite works were miniatures by Babs DuPont Hanneman, whose pieces reminded us of miniatures done back in Erlangen by friend Dale Fitz.

After the downtown stop, we drove over to the Monterey water front and I walked along the path of the original 1874 rail line that had connected inland farms with Monterey shipping piers. I love these old trees, classic silhouettes from the Monterey Peninsula.

Looking down I was treated to color.  I think that is why I am drawn to taking pictures of blooms - there is seldom anything brighter or more ornate.  And, in the Monterey climate, there are year-around blooms everywhere.
I am not the only one who likes the flowers.  The purple stalks (name??) are surrounded by bees eating breakfast. This is tricky photography, and none of my many shots turned out great, but it is fun trying and this leaves me room to improve.  The beach area also is home to birds. A hawk flew from tree to tree,  out of range for GOOD pictures, but close enough to inspire.  This little bluebirds waited on a fence, looking back at path walkers.
d180317_55_parker_l.jpgAfter an hour of beach photography, we were getting a little hungry, just a little, but enough to justify a French pastry or two.  We stopped by Parker-Lusseau, a small bakery in the historic Fremont Adobe that offers absolutely authentic French goodies.  We started with an apple gallette and a pear-almond tort.  After that, we split a brie and ham sandwich. All wonderful. Remember, eat desert first!
d180317_74_spencer.jpgd180317_72_adam.jpgBack at the Colton Street homestead, we worked in one more flower picture and then moved inside to check on the family.  Adam and Spencer were actively training their hand-eye coordination.  Note the St. Patrick's Day uniform hat on Spencer.
Marianne spent the afternoon doing two of her favorite things: cooking and preparing for a party.  I think I was the only one who has Irish blood, thanks to Dad's mom Katy O'Shea, but on March 17, all Americans are a little Irish. 

With corned beef slowly boiling in the kitchen and flavoring the whole house with the unique aroma of cabbage, everyone donned the hats and got into the party spirit.  They LOOK Irish to me. Erin go bragh!
Like kids' parties anywhere, we needed a game for distraction while the dinner finished.  In the leprechaun spirit, we had hidden a (plastic) pot of (chocolate) gold and offered a couple clues to get folks started.  All three Hidas boys really got into the search, with the biggest kid grabbing the prize first.  Good kid though, since he shared with everyone.

Preliminaries over, all eight of us settled in for the (not so) typical Irish dinner.  This was the first time Adam and Spencer had ever had corned beef.  Maybe a first for Chris, Leisa, and Klare too.  The meat and boiled potatoes got good marks, but I think I saw cabbage left over on a few plates.  I think this is pretty traditional.

On Sunday, we needed to pack up and head home, but first I spent a couple hours doing this diary. Reviewing family fun is always a treat.  While I was writing, Marianne took the time to exchange art techniques with neighbor Karen, so both of us had a good start to the day. 

The drive itself, from the dramatic coast through the flat farmlands of the inland valley, was as ordinary as ever.  The orchards are filling in with a mix of blossoms and young leaves.  A nice ordinary.

And in the east, the Sierras have been coated in a snow blanket from welcome March storms.  Maybe our desert will survive another year.

In a few days, we will start a real tourist trip, with museums, vistas, galleries, and a national park.  Maybe.

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne


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