Diaries - Travel - Photos

Previous Diary -

More Family: Video Talent to Baseball Star

August 28-September 3
Written September 21+
Dear Friends,Family and Diary,

For the fourth straight diary, this is "just" family stuff.  Marianne and I keep promising to take off on a trip for more interesting diary-memories, but that's not what has happened.  I'll still keep record, otherwise we will certainly forget!
d180912_04_talentgrip.jpgAbout a month ago, I described the project to prepare video documentation of Marianne's mom's life.  This has been a major expenditure of time, but we have three rough film sessions, covering from birth to arrival as refugees in Ingolstadt, Germany.  So far, we have about an hour-and-a-half viewing time, but there is still plenty of editing before this hits the airways.  And more story beyond Ingolstadt.  Stay tuned for announcements.d180912_10_artist.jpg

Marianne continues to paint.  She has been working on commissioned "garden posts", the "other" part of her website.  She also has almost weekly online/Skype classes to attend as well as she and her artist buddy Claudia practice abstract painting techniques.  And she has just committed to an art show on October 18 in Los Banos, a repeat from a couple of earlier years.

As for my own "art", I haven't had time to go beyond the backyard for pictures, but at least we are seeing our "second season" as the flowers return from the Fresno-summer-heat dormancy.  Fall flower colors are more muted, but nice-enough.

Between the video project and art commitments, it is hard to squeeze in travel, but we managed a four-day swing to the coast for both family and a bit of medical research testing.
d180919_01_samwork.jpgOn Wednesday (19th), we drove over to Monte Sereno and settled in with Gabby and the kids.  When we arrived, Sam and Ava were busy drawing cards for cousin Layla's birthday party that evening.  They both do good work, following online drawing instructions, as modern artists do, and enjoying the process and product.  Just like Gigi.

Sam was also eager to show off his latest play gear, an assortment of plastic police equipment.  He was proud of having made his own choices and spent his own money for everything. Somehow, this seemed to me to be another sign of growing up.  Too soon, for Gigi and Opa, but inevitable.
Soon, we were all off to Layla's house and a family fourth birthday party.

Rahimi family gatherings feature six cousins: Ava the oldest and Layla the youngest, and the four boys squeezed in the middle.  A cute bunch.

d180919_18_uber2.jpgd180919_20_goodeats.jpgWhile all the aunts, uncles, and grandparents caught up on chit chat, and started a great buffet, the six kids played.  Ava decided to be an Uber driver, driving Cyrus and Layla wherever their imaginations desired.  (I think it was Disneyland.)

Soon, it was time for the birthday cake and then opening presents, with Layla getting plenty of help from the older cousins.
For old-times sake, we passed around a picture of the cousins in their pre-Layla days.  I think this was a not-too-subtle reminder of just how fast the crew is growing up.  Again, inevitable, but too soon for us.
Thursday was a normal school and work day for the Rahimi's and a normal retirement day for Gigi and me.  We did almost nothing, beyond getting cleaned up and puttering until the kids came home.  Once home, they jumped into homework, reading for Sam.
Homework successfully completed, it was time for Sam's baseball practice (and Charlie's play date with "Sarge".)
The boys got their gear and started by listening attentively to Coach Ali (Sam's uncle, Reef's dad -- it's a family thing again.)
Coach Mike then ran a pitching session.  Sam and Reef seemed to have listened for the proper enthusiasm and form.  Perfect strikes may have to wait for more practice.
Meanwhile, Ali was throwing stylish pitches, a few of which were hittable by the young crew.

While Opa, Gabby, Charlie and I were at the baseball field, Gigi and Ava tried their hand at cooking.  This was "szilvas gomboc", a potato dumpling with a small plum embedded in the center.  A very traditional Hungarian dish for this time of year.  The batch with Ava was actually the second of the day, sine Marianne had thrown away the first try.  Too mushy.  Tasteless.  Life is too short to eat bad gomboc.

d180921_02_subject.jpgI started Friday, with an early trip up to a 7:30am Palo Alto appointment with the Project Baseline medical team.  A year ago, I entered into a  long-term medical study and now I was due for another day of testing.  Last year it was 10-12 hours worth, but the redo was simpler.  Nonetheless, they did take 32 blood sample vials, a half dozen "biome" swabs, lung capacity measurement, a self-administered psychological assessment, and a few strength and exercise measurement. Plus assorted other pokes and prods. It is an interesting process, interesting enough that Marianne has decided to join the program and will be back at the Stanford facility in October. 

d180921_10_intomont.jpgAfter all that, it was a quick stop back at Gabby's to pick up Marianne and our stuff.  We were heading down to Monterey and more relatives.  I think we left around 2pm and I was worried about weekend beach traffic.  That's why I claimed a medical disability and asked Gigi to drive.  These are her hometown roads.  As it turned out, we had just one twenty-minute stop and go in Santa Cruz, which she handled just fine.  Thanks.
Our first family stop was to visit the graves of Marianne's father and step father.  The San Carlos cemetery is one of the oldest in California and is as quiet and pleasant as one could wish for.  A melancholy reminder of our human limits, however.

From there, it was over to Klare and Jack's for dinner, conversation, and an early bedtime. 

I started Saturday early too, at my usual diary-writing establishment: Starbucks.  The local branch is modern and large, without the heavy wear of my normal Fresno haunt.  Somehow, I find it comforting to be able to find a morning sameness, no matter where we are.  This may be a sign of aging .. or not.
Klare served a great breakfast, and then we were off to explore Pacific Grove.  We tried a few antique and home decoration stores, but (thankfully) saw nothing interesting.  Then, off on a side street, we saw a green "Hauk Fine Arts Gallery" sign, an excuse for a stop.  Inside we were immediately taken on a tour of the art work by owner Steve Hauk.  Every painting had a back story and Steve was eager to tell each and every one.  Most were works of local artists famous enough to have books written about them and their art and he seemed to know them all.
Hauk also threw in that he wrote a play which may be staged some time soon.  (Look for "Pop Up" on Public Television.)  He seems to also be an expert on Steinbeck.  He convinced me enough that I bought a copy of "Steinbeck - The Untold Stories".  If he writes as well as he talks, it should be a fun read.
All this shopping had made us hungry, so we crossed the street to a small sandwich shop.  We ordered a sandwich and a bowl of soup, for a total of $17.50.  Definitely more San Francisco than Fresno prices, but tasty.
For after-lunch exercise, we drove over to the Pacific Grove winter home to Western Monarch butterflies and wandered around looking for the bugs.  No luck.  It apparently is not winter enough.  Maybe next visit.

After not seeing butterflies, we stopped by a couple of open houses.  I suppose we really were just exploring the dream of moving from Fresno to the coast some day.  One house was 1700 square-feet, crediting a damp and dumpy basement-level room.  It showed little or no imagination, but the real estate guy said it "offered promise".  For $1,300,000.  The second place was even smaller, 1100 square-feet for two small bedrooms and one tiny bathroom.  For $1,187,000.  We will stay in Fresno.

Dinner was barbecue at Chris and Lisa's. Lots of chit chat while the charcoal slowly got hot enough.  Nice way to spend some time.  And it was all pretty tasty too.
Marianne, Chris, Lisa, and I talked past 10pm, as late as us older folks have managed in quite some time.  I think we tried to solve the country's problems, but may have come up short.  Better luck next time.

d180923_02_mission.jpgd180923_04_bakertsign.jpgOn Sunday we enjoyed a light breakfast at Klare and Jack's and hit the road. Traffic was light and we had time for a pause in San Juan Bautista this time.  Cute little town.  State park has a Mission and several other interesting 1880s buildings and displays.  We passed on history in favor of antiques (still lucky - found nothing) and a bakery (DID find something - part of my four-pound increase for the weekend).

We finished our family weekend with a Mamo dinner, hamburgers on our grill. 

No plans for now, but we NEED to do something in addition to little family trips.  We'll see.

John and Marianne


Diaries - Travel - Photos
Previous Diary - Next Diary