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Definitely Miscellaneous:

Home, ArtHop, Softball, Cardella Winery

May 1-6
Written May 5+
Dear Diary and Friends and Family,

No travel.  More miscellaneous.  One of our "followers" said we make Fresno seem so active.  Maybe, maybe not.  Mostly, it has simply become a habit to photo-document our lives and if anyone were to do that, life might seem more active.  That's why we do this, I suppose.

d180501_30_mamo.jpgAround home, things are as usual.  We have been helping Magdalena with house chores, never exciting. We also helped with a video message from relatives back in the old country.  One of her relatives had sent over a DVD recording of a "Fasching"  (Carnival) dinner in Budapest.  Despite not seeing the images well, she paid rapt attention as we played it on the laptop.  Her memories of earlier Hungarian parties filled in the blanks.  Overall, a good use of technology.
d180501_14_food.jpgI still practice my wildlife photography, so I stay ready for that big safari we will report on someday.  I hope.  Of course, the only animals I find are in the backyard. Hank and Holly Hawk continue to look down on us from their perches in the old cypress trees. Squirrels chatter as they run along the fences.  They do not seem worried by the raptors above their heads.

Our "real" activity this week has been Marianne's showing at ArtHop.  These one-night stands are not great commercial successes, but they do provide some focus and practice.  For me, the practice is simply reasonable hanging of Marianne's art.  This month, that meant two walls in the lobby of the CMAC building, formerly the Fresno Metropolitan Art Museum - so there is good lighting (and some old art-ghosts).
For the show itself, we have a routine.  Marianne dresses up.  I don't, because I am always BEHIND the camera.   We set up a table with business cards, a price list, some munchies from Costco, and an offering of wine. (White only at CMAC, because they worry about red wine stains.  Practical.)  Then we wait to see who wanders in.
This time, most of the traffic were folks who just strolled right by, often grabbing a cookie or two.  That's OK, since we don't want to take the calories home, but it would be more polite if they would at least LOOK at the art pieces.  Not all is lost though, since there are always a few artists, like these guys, who ask about technique and the creative process. Fun for our family artist who is justifiably proud of her work.

We are also lucky to have friends who show up for moral support.  A half-dozen of our Cambridge Avenue neighbors came down to offer their encouragement.  Thanks. 
Sometimes, visitors go beyond just encouragement.  This evening, family friend Ildiko (aka: Catherine) was struck with one of Marianne's newest abstracts and joined the list of paying clients  Thanks for the concrete support!

d180503_22_cameraguy.jpgOur ArtHop show was mixed in with folks staging a live performance in the studio around the corner.   I distracted myself by poking around and taking a few pictures.   CMAC's mission is to train and develop community video content and their operation seems like a fun combination of professional and beginner equipment and technicians. Not quite amateur, but more "spontaneous" than the big leagues probably are. 
This was interesting enough to me that I am considering using their help to learn how to make videos, something that has intimidated the photographer in me.  For $50/year, they provide classes and (free) rental equipment.  What a deal.  Stay tuned.

d180504_04_scoreboard.jpgAt last week's Fresno State Swimming Fiesta we had "won" a silent raffle basket of baseball goodies. On this Friday, we took advantage of the first of the (seven!) sets of included admission tickets: a Fresno State University softball game.  We really are not baseball/softball fanatics, maybe not even fans, but we had tickets, time, and curiosity.
The FSU softball operation struck us as "big league", or at least bigger than I was expecting.  Softball has its own stadium, not as big as their neighbor for baseball, or the much bigger football stadium, but serious. 
And our seats - not benches - were as good as in any stadium!

Out in the field, the players ran through all the same warm ups and pre-game hype one might expect from professional games.
d180504_20_conference.jpgEven officiating was serious, as I suppose it should be.  The game-starting conference with umpires was the same as we might see at AT&T Park in San Francisco, albeit with one fewer person in blue.

One of my interests in the game was practicing a bit of sports photography.  Right away, I discovered problem #1: shooting behind a screen. Focusing was  very difficult.  I shifted to manual focus, but that only reminded me that I have become dependent on auto focus.  Most of my shots showed a sharp screen and fuzzy players.
d180504_22_swing.jpgThe other photography problem was knowing where to point the camera.  When there was activity at first base, I was pointed at third.  When someone dramatically stole second, my manually-focussed lens was aimed at home plate. 

Softball is a sport with (mostly) quiet periods, interrupted with moments of rapid action - not chaos exactly, but close.  Paying attention was harder than I had anticipated.  Oh well, it was all good practice.

d180505_02_batterup.jpgI ended up with time on Saturday to try again, and here's a few of the 100 shots I took.  It was still hard to shoot through the screen and to anticipate where the action was going to be, but I think these are a little better.  What do you think?
d180505_04_goodswing.jpgd180505_06_out.jpgd180505_08_doubleplay.jpgd180505_10_scorebad.jpgBy the way, the home team lost both days.  Darn.

d180506_04_grounds.jpgOn Sunday, we went to the "Spring Schizzo di Vino" at Cardella Winery.  We have kept a wine club membership here, in part because the wines are good and in part because it's a nice hour-long drive through the flat San Joaquin Valley farm fields to an almost-Tuscan oasis.

For the twice-a-year "Schizzi"(? - it means party, I think), the winery fills a table with tasty nibbles and fills the courtyard with music and happy wine club members.  Of course there is wine tasting.  (The winery is open seven-days-a-week for that!)d180506_06_food.jpg

This time we invited neighbors Joan and Vern and that made the trip even more festive.  They are long-time Fresno residents, the longest residents on our street, and it was fun seeing the valley from their perspective.
They must have liked the wine too, since they signed up for the wine club and may join us at the future Spring and Fall Schizzi.  We look forward to it!

Now we settle in to a regular week of chores.  No excitement planned.  In fact, I don't think we have anything planned until a late June trip up to Portland.  We need to create something!

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne


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