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Home and a Pair of Festival

April 27-29 - maybe
Written April 29+
Dear Diary and Friends and Family,

OK, so what is happening this time?  Some quiet home time and a couple of parties!  First the quiet stuff.

d180427_20_tables.jpgI spent a few days refinishing the beer tables we brought from Germany.  We bought them when they were retired after ten years at a Munich beer festival and have had them another decade or so.  I thought it would be straightforward to fix them up, but like most home projects, it was harder than planned.  Getting urethane applied without bubbles took lots of experimenting.  These guys better last for another decade now.

The yard roses continue to be fun to photograph, even if they are starting to suffer from increased heat.  Once Fresno summer really hits, roses last from an early morning blooming to mid-day fading and wilting. 

Our friends Holly and Hank Hawk continue to use our tree for roosting.  I think these two pictures are Hank.  He's a bit slimmer than Holly.  Meanwhile this little guy spends each morning hanging on power poles chirping much louder than the big hawks.  I can't tell if he is at risk, but he clearly doesn't worry.
The other neighborhood wildlife event was the discovery of a bees nest in neighbor Clay's water meter.  Apparently this a a springtime event and queens get out and start new colonies.  Cute little guys, but I am glad there are beekeepers to call when needed.

Two or three times a year the local collection of Hungarians get together to celebrate.  I think this late-April luncheon was a delayed remembrance of Hungary either gaining or losing territory and/or independence.  They seem to celebrate both victory and defeat.

I let Marianne attend these events without me.  Key parts are in Hungarian and, even after 25 years in the family, I have no understanding of the language whatsoever.  Of course, the main benefit is for Magdalena to converse in her own language with old time friends.  She's does look forward to the gatherings.

d180428_10_aqcenter.jpgd180428_12_group.jpgHours later, Marianne and I were at the Fresno State University Aquatics Center to join neighbors in an annual fund raiser and celebration of the women's swim and dive team. Our Cambridge Avenue bunch thoroughly enjoyed supporting Coach Jeanne Fleck in the 10-year anniversary of her FSU program.

There are plenty of planned activities at the annual benefit, but mostly it is just laughing, eating, drinking, and chatting with friends.

Jeanne has a formula for raising money that includes several different paths to supporters' pocketbooks.  First, there is the admission ticket, not expensive, but not free.  Then there are raffle tickets, mostly for team memorabilia.  I was happy to have won a license plate holder for our investment.

d180428_22_auctions.jpgNext on the "investment opportunities" are the various packages up for silent auction.  Initially, we bid on two packages of alcohol.  Probably a comment on our values.  Because the young Russian swimmer sponsoring homeland vodka was charming and we could try our limited Russian language skills, we made sure we got her basket.

d180428_88_bobbles.jpgThere was also a baseball-themed package that had a very high "starting bid", so no one was bidding on it.  I felt it would be embarrassing to Jeanne or the sponsor to not get any bid at all, so I offered one-third of the minimum.  And won.  It turned out to be a couple of "bobble-head" dolls, a cap, a dozen tickets to FSU baseball and softball games, as well as VIP tickets to two Fresno Grizzles games.  I wish we were more baseball fans.

d180428_28_audience.jpgThe most colorful of the benefit activities was the Fresno State University student dancers for the Mexican Heritage program - a program celebrating its 50th year this year.  Marianne and I joined our friends on the hard concrete benches of the swim stadium.

There were dancers representing three different Mexican states and traditions.  Each dance displayed remarkable beauty, grace, and energy.  There was not a hint that these were students and not a professional dance troupe.

After the dancers, it was back to chatting, except now many of the conversations were with the student-performers.  It seems they were all both talented and charming.  I think we will ask for them back next year!
By now, we were getting hungry and our Cambridge neighbors led the crowd to the Mexican buffet.  Even the line was fun and the overall ambiance got even better as the moon (and floodlights) illuminated the pool deck.
Coach Jeanne then started a few team announcements.  First, she called up her swimmer-alumnae who had returned for the 10-year anniversary party.  One had just arrived from Norway!  Then she thanked her past assistant coaches and staff, several of whom had moved up to head coaching positions for other schools.  It seems she trains more than swimmers.
The final event was the dessert auction.  These are not just any desserts, but specialties prepared by the swimmers themselves.  From the chatter around the table, I could tell the girls were as competitive in cooking as they are in swimming. 

 Each table would bid what they thought they could afford (after an evening of drinking) and then choose dessert in the order of their offering. The highest-ranked bid was $5,000. Really. Nevertheless, our table's modest $60 earned us more calories than we should eat.

And, with that, we drove home, remembering again how much we really like the Fresno State University Women's Swim and Dive Team event.  We look forward to next year  Thanks Jeanne!

Nothing else planned before next Thursday's ArtHop show.  Remember that Marianne will be at CMAC from 5 to 8 pm on May 3rd.

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne


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