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Even More Family Notes

August 24-28
Written August 27+
Dear Diary (Mostly),

This will make two diaries in a row that you do not need to read. This note records nothing "of note", just family stuff at the end of August in Fresno. Even our current weather is not remarkable, just pleasantly warm.  Anything under 100F seems cool after weeks well above that.  Even the forest fire smoke in the air is thinning.  However, despite the ordinariness, Marianne and I may need memory crutches for future reminiscences and, if I do not write it down, I WILL forget.  For sure.
Friday trip to church.
For 58 years, the Fresno Greek Community has opened St. George Church and grounds to "Greek Fest".  It's a big deal, on a Fresno scale, and we went to the Friday opening to make sure we are part of local traditions.  And to eat.(More later.)

d180824_04_church.jpgd180824_06_sacristy.jpgWe started, as we should, with a quick visit inside the church.  In the old days, we marveled at the churches and cathedrals of European capitals and villages.  St. George's might hold up, at least on the village end of the sacred spectrum.  The sacristy collection of gilt and silver chalices and monstrances were definitely Europe-worthy.
d180824_14_tomangie.jpgOut on the church grounds, we found friend Angie manning the information booth, cheerful as ever.  She is one of busy volunteers for preparation, execution, and clean-up of the big event. Husband Tom joined her for dinner and, as usual, we could not tell what Tom was doing.  (Just kidding Tom.  I think.)

But the real attraction of the Fresno Greek Fest is food.  The main food hall offered all the parts of full Greek meals and the "Mega Food Booth" efficiently served "fast food", done right.  We opted for fast salads, a gyro ("YEE-ro"), Calamari, and Mezedakia (a vegetarian plate that proves meat-free does not mean low-calorie.)  Then we topped off with baked goodies for home.

d180824_30_music.jpgThe Olympian Trio came up from Long Beach to play authentic Greek Music.  They have been coming for years and claimed it was their favorite festival.  Their music really was lively and fun, but my pictures captured only sour faces.  Must be an ethnic thing. 

Being seniors, we passed on the kiddie attractions.  We also managed to not NEED any Greek T-shirts or souvenirs from the dozen kiosks selling stuff. And,  being weight conscious, we even passed on the Taverna offerings of local and Greek beer, wine, and ouzo.  Next year we may not be so resolute.

Saturday morning for me included fruit shopping at Vineyard, the local farmer's market.   Late summer is wonderful for fruit from the Fresno-area fields.  Like it was in Kiev, the fruit is strictly seasonal, so one must eat while the eating is good.  And we are.
I also ran into neighbor Blain, her kids Hazel and Eloise, and their friend Oliver.   It was impossible to get a picture without movement - as it should be, I suppose.  This was another reminder that we do seem to be settling into Fresno, where we have routines of festivals and farmer's markets and where we can run into friends. 

Now, if we could just get some inner-city development and prosperity.  We ARE working on that, via a community betterment organization called Better Blackstone.  We met again last week, but forgot to take representative pictures!  The plans to improve our local north-south "main street" actually seem to be making progress and that too is encouraging for us Fresno residents.  Let's see.

 Marianne took her mom to yet another Fresno-traditional, ethnic, late-summer event: the Hungarian-community celebration of king Saint Stephen.  Like the Greek Fest, the main attraction is food, and like at St. George's, the food is all high calorie, but Marianne and Magdalena will suffer ANYTHING for tradition, even fire-water "palinka".

Sunday was an at-home art day.  I even avoided the gym for the first time in a week.  Marianne and I do take this exercise and proper eating business seriously, ethnic parties notwithstanding.  For me, I can not tell if this balances sixty-plus years of little exercise and too much eating, but better late than never.  At least we are both lighter than in our European days!  You know, German bread, beer, and brats or Ukrainian vodka, vodka, and vodka.
d180826_02_home.jpg My art is limited to photos and, on a lazy day, my photos are limited to the front and back yard.  It's useful for muscle-memory for when I find more serious subjects, although I do like our sun-worn roses.
More seriously, Marianne is working on commissions of two of her painted posts.  She enjoys the process and the creative results and now that the weather is reasonable, she can stay in her art hut all day!

Sunday was also Mamo-dinner day and, even before we ate, Magdalena joined in on the art scene.  At 98, she is starting a new career.  We all thought her "tree picture" was her best and worthy of an art show, or at least a YouTube entry.

The week is passing fast and I have made few notes.  I think it is generally true that if I do not take time to snap a picture or two, my unaided memory can not even remember what happened yesterday.

One event did get plenty of attention: the first filming session for my CMAC project.  I have committed to create a video series I am titling "Magdalena's Chapters" and it will be the self-told story of Marianne's mom's life.  I had presented a proposal for the project to the folks at CMAC, they had added planning details for me, and now all I have to do is take and edit the videos.  That's all.
As this first setup hints to, we are trying to do a bit more than just home movies.  CMAC provides a professional-level video camera and a high-tech three-point lighting system.  Even makeup was professional - more or less.

This first session was the story of growing up around Budapest, Hungary, in the 1920s and early 1930s.  Magdalena reminisced about her family; mom, dad, sister, and brother, and their life from when she was born in 1919, not far from Budapest, to Budapest itself. It was in the big city where the family went from prosperous life with a large apartment to a simpler place after her father lost much of the family money.  (Most likely at the start of the Great Depression like many people throughout the world.)  Almost ninety years later, she remembers only the warmth of her family.

This video session also deals a great deal with her time as a boarding school student in suburban Budapest where she attended "The Waldorf School in Little Swabia" from about 1925 to about 1933.  Waldorf Education has an interesting history and the school in "Little Swabia" was one of the first.  Today, there are over 1,000 Waldorf schools.
When we started internet research about the Hungarian school, we ran across this class picture, with little "Dulica" sitting in the first row, third from the left.  We knew it was her, because Marianne looked exactly like this when she was little.
For later stages of the video series, we hope to find family pictures, but for the earliest years, all we have is one of Magdalena as a ten-year-old, dressed in costume, for a school presentation.
Our next film session will be next week, when we should cover the time from school graduation, through a dozen years of technical training, starting a job, living in wartime, and falling in love.  I look forward to hearing the stories and do hope the video can adequately tell parts of the remarkable story.

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne


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