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March 23-25, 2018
Written March 26+
Dear Diary and Friends and Family,

The last diary ended with: "In a few days, we will start a real tourist trip, with museums, vistas, galleries, and a national park.  Maybe."  Here is the back story.

Magdalena (aka Mamo), Marianne's mom, developed a cold and bad congestion just before Marianne and I were to head off to Southern California. It did not seem right to be gone for nine days.  Trip canceled.  No travel pictures for this diary.  Instead, I'll just write a few notes for our own memory, "shared" because that's what we do here.

It is coming up on five years since we put our Bavarian "jewel box" on the market and returned to America.  We settled in Fresno, largely for Marianne to devote more time to her mom as she entered her mid-90s. That has worked well, but we may be entering a new phase, a difficult one for Magdalena, Marianne, and even me.  My own mother passed away almost twenty years ago, and I was too busy on our Ukrainian adventure to be around.  Magdalena gets the extra time and attention I should have given to Thelma.

Like most of us would want to do, Magdalena hangs on to her "independent" life by avoiding any sort of move from her house of over sixty years. Almost every morning, Reuben stops by to set out breakfast.  Almost daily, there are doctor or bank or grocery trips, with Reuben chauffeuring or Marianne driving/consulting for nails and some doctors.  Helen, her hairdresser for decades, takes Mamo every Thursday to her in-home beauty shop.  Three times a week, Juanita, a very pleasant and patient care giver, comes in for a few hours of dinner prep, light cleaning, and conversation.  Marianne and her sister Katinka divide dinner duty for the other four days of the week and Katinka does the washing and cleaning weekly.

It is a routine that has been working and we all have kept any thoughts of further life disturbances hidden away.  Triggered by a "simple cold", we may now be faced with change.  Mamo suffers from congestive heart failure, as did Thelma, my mom.  It is an insidious condition that gradually draws more and more attention. 

Last Friday, Magdalena's primary care nurse diagnosed her "cold" as pneumonia, prescribed lung assistance medicine, and sent her home to rest.  Now Marianne and I are sharing 24-7 care with her sister Katinka.  Today (Monday) there will be another doctor visit to see if Mamo is getting better enough to avoid a hospital stay.  She has worked very hard to avoid that transition. 

(Post-script: It took about two weeks for Magdalena to get back to "as before", still 98-years-old, but back to living on her own - with help.)

Our lives from a different viewpoint included visits by and to friends and this week we have two "reportable events." 

d180321_02_ted.jpgFirst,  long-time (>50 years) friend Ted came by for a night from his home up in Sonora.  He was on a bachelor tour while wife Nancy was off in Mexico with girlfriends.  Fresno was his first stop and we appreciate it!  Looking back, I note that we did little more than talk. Over dinner and a sip or two of wine, we had more catch-up space than any time since we graduated from University of Portland, lifetimes ago.  This was a good reminder that one should reconnect with friends, no matter how long it has been.

After Ted left, I followed his lead and took pictures in our wet backyard garden.  This was simply some practice at big pictures of tiny Spring buds, leaves, and one lady bug.  Fun to do, and it did not require a big trip.

d180324_02_crowd.jpg The other big friends event was a going away pot luck for Jon and Susan.  After about three decades, they are leaving Fresno for the new world of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  All the Cambridge neighbors wanted to gather and wish them good luck and Godspeed.  So we did.
                                            Can you spot the difference?

While chatting with neighbor Clay at the barbecue, I learned we have a pair of predators camping in our back yard trees.  The presence of these Cooper's Hawks apparently explains why our bird feeders get very few customers.  The little guys become big-guy food, if they are not careful.
I tried to see the hawks that day, but had no luck.  The only wildlife I could find were the squirrels.  Oh well, I used them to practice my safari shooting, just to stay in practice. The little guys are cute enough, but they rob the seed from the bird feeders.

The next day, while on my daily walk, I did spot the hawk up in Clay's tree.  I went home and grabbed the camera and tried my hand at some more difficult photography. I used my biggest lens, but I'm not sure my hand-holding technique was good enough for the sharpest pictures.  A regal bird in any event.  Note the blood stained feathers, evidence of a fresh meal I suppose.  I will try to get more active shots when I can.

I am not sure what our in-Fresno life will bring, except a weekend book-signing party in a couple weeks, sponsored by Blain and Ethan, Cambridge Avenue's resident history professors.  I look forward to reading the book and to reporting on the book and signing.

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne


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