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Early April: Mamo, Hawks, Neighbors

March 29 - April 10 or so
Written April 3+
Dear Diary and Friends and Family,

Sometimes this diary is useful to force me to note what normal things are happening, so that we don't look back and presume NOTHING happened, just because we didn't notice.  That happens, more now than earlier perhaps.  This may be useful for us, but not remarkable for our few "followers".

Necessarily, we have been spending extra time helping Marianne's mother recover from a bout of pneumonia-bronchitis.  This was an unsettling ten days as we were all reminded just how fragile health in one's tenth decade can be.
She is better now, and getting more visitors than before: extra from family and twice-a-week from a nurse and from a physical therapist. When the PT nurse asked her to sign paperwork with her finger, on a tablet, Mamo had to learn a new skill!  Proof that, even at 98, learning continues. She was proud of it!
For Easter, Marianne took her to early mass and then the three of us drove down to Three Rivers, in the Sierra foothills. The weather was great, not too hot and not cool.  Easter Brunch at The Gateway Restaurant and Lodge was a splurge for all of us!
I will try to remember other cute Mamo pictures and stories as our week progresses.

One other "senior" activity has distracted us: bird watching. I think all the neighbors consider our back yard hawks to be some sort of pets, but they are pretty elusive.  I keep an eye out and a "safari" lens attached to the camera, just in case I can see them do something remarkable.  On Easter morning I found one of them enjoying a feathered treat.  "Peeps" are traditional for Easter after all.

Later in the week, I heard early morning commotion up in our tree.  It sounded like Mrs. Hawk was telling Mr. Hawk to go and get some take home food. I did not see any result, but the hawk talons definitely seem big and sharp enough to do their dining job.
Meanwhile, lower in the yard, the little hummingbirds still come for drinks at the bird feeder.  I think they are confident in their quickness to protect themselves from being a hawk meal.  We'll see.

Otherwise, our Fresno life is pretty simple.  The Spring weather has been very pleasant and it has encouraged me to get out and tidy up our yard.  I have been alternating days where I go to the gym and days where I spend a few yard hours.  The yard days are tougher!
Marianne has been able to work more in her studio, an upside to the loss of travel opportunities.  She now has a decent web page, thanks to the in-house technician. Like most technical solutions, it took waay too long to make and is proving not pain free to maintain.  Technologist's fault, not artist's.

She will have another showing at the first May Thursday ArtHop.  It will be in the lobby of the Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC) building.  At one time the building held the Fresno Metropolitan Art Museum (and the Fresno Bee, before that.)  On the first April Thursday, we scouted the space.
The current artist in the CMAC space is Jon Messer.  He had two very different types of art on display.  His abstract paintings were done with acrylic mixtures, on aluminum substrate, finished with a clear coating.  I very much liked the effect, particularly a large yellow and white piece with metal particles mixed in the paint.  Jon's other art were a pair of pieces he makes from scrap metal, including tiny bits of metal falling off metal lathes. Lots of imagination.  Lots of skill.

d180405_30_1821potter.jpgd180405_32_nicespace.jpgSince we were downtown, we also stopped at 1821 Gallery and Studios, perhaps our favorite stop on ArtHop.  Owner Bruce Kalkowski manages new main lobby displays every month and April's was "Spaces of Desire" by Nick Potter and Peter Janzen (left).  Marianne has a goal to hang some of her work in 1821, back in the multi-artist spaces.   Good company.

d180405_20_arthop.jpgCloser to home, we swung by Studio 74, just a few blocks from home. A dozen or so artists have pieces for sale, everything from watercolors to jewelery.  The only work that jumped out for my camera this month were these textile pieces by Cathy Varvis-Griffin. Just another niche, hidden in the Fresno art scene.

d180407_02_salesign.jpg Saturday was planned to be BUSY in our neighborhood (nowadays that means two events - retirement-busy.)  The first event was going to be the annual Cambridge Avenue Block Yard Sale.  Unfortunately, timing coincided with arrival of remnants of a Philippine hurricane from far across the Pacific. We don't complain about rain here in Fresno, but it's just a shame that enthusiasm for our annual event was dampened. d180407_06_jeri.jpg

d180407_04_yards.jpg On our normally active block, all yards were empty, only Jerri had a few treasures out on her covered porch. Maybe next year.

d180407_18_cake.jpgEvent number two was a book signing up at Gazebo Gardens and, unlike for the yard sale,  the weather cooperated. Neighbors Blain Roberts and Ethan Kytle had invited friends to buy autographed copies of their new book: "Denmark Vesey's Garden, Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy".  Hazel and Eloise helped mom and dad work their way through all 50 books.  A great commercial success!
By the way, I did read the book and can highly recommend it (available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble). It tells the story of how two disparate communities of Charleston South Carolina "remember" and discuss slavery, including its role in initiating the Civil War. 

So, that was our week.  Coming up will be a trip to the zoo and a couple of days up at Yosemite.

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne

ps:  Some rainy backyard flower pictures, just because they are fun to make.  And a leaf.


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