Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
Most of January has been at home, inside, out of the rain. California has been bombarded by a series of wet storms, causing floods, mud slides, blocked Sierra passes, and trees knocked down by softened roots and winds. Fresno has been a bit of an island, with calamities north, south, east, and west, but we are just fine with our puzzles, Netflix, painting, reading, cooking, and eating.
When the sun returned, I checked out the giant tree next door and it looks solid for at least another rainy season. I also went on a drive to see if I could see the Sierra snows, but the best I could do was a distant shot or two. We just have not worked up the nerve to drive up higher for more drama. Maybe a National Parks drive in the coming weeks.
On Saturday, the 21st, we did a more prosaic drive, one over to Monte Sereno to visit family. When we arrived, only Charli and Sarbi were there to greet us as the little family was on a normally busy weekend schedule of sports and socializing. That's OK, the puppies are good company. Humans did eventually come home and we enjoyed seeing everyone for the first time in a month.
Sunday was a busy day. We picked up Ava and Sam and drove for an hour up to Golden Gate Park. It had been years since Marianne or I had made this drive but it was familiar and offered us the chance to reminisce about this drive over the last 60 years. Yikes, we're getting old!
Our goal was the Ramses the Great show at the de Young Museum. Sam had just finished a sixth grade unit of Egyptian history and we figured this would solidify those lessons. It turned out we weren't the only ones pushing education on to their kids and grandkids. The show was super crowded and it was all we could do to keep track of each other while trying to see a little bit.
So, what did we see? The video presentations of Ramses' rule and his reign-defineing Battle of Kadesh were highlights.
No ancient Egypt display would be complete without mummies, but in this show there were more pet remains than human: cats and beetles, mostly. The royal sarcophagi(?) were richly decorated and the colors were still vibrant 3,000 years after the artist applied the paint. How did they have that, either the preservation or the paint technology?
For me, the other technical and artistic highlight was the jewelery. How did they mine and refine the gold? What tools did they have to create and color the pieces? Pretty amazing.
After the crowds of the Ramses show, we used a little time to explore the modern and contemporary art of the de Young. The kids went along with it, but this was more for us adults, I suppose. Nice collection, but we need to return with more time.
The kids' reward for all the culture was a ride on the Sky Star Ferris Wheel. Heights are not normally my thing, but this ride was slow and gentle, with completely-closed cars. Of course the views were great, but I'm not sure I spent much time looking out at how far down the earth was. Like I said, not my thing.
On our way out, we passed through the installation "Monumental Reckoning" by Dana King. The 350 statues represent the Africans brought to America in 1619 as the first of the American slaves. The statues surround a monument that originally contained a statue of Francis Scott Key, but that piece was toppled in 2020 in reaction to the poet's pro-slavery actions and statements, including the seldom heard third verse of the song we know as The Star Spangled Banner. It was a somber monument, contrasted with our kids' smiles.
The next stop on our busy Sunday was flag football practice and game for Sam. He loves the game and we can see why, with all the action and friends (and rules preventing injury risks of "normal" football.) Sam had a "pick six" interception and a couple of "tackles" and his team won. It was all good.
After flag football, it was time to go watch the 49ers play the Dallas Cowboys in their playoff game. Sam, Marianne, Ava, and I watched the television broadcast while Gabby and Mamal enjoyed the view from a friend's box at Levi's Stadium. And our home team won. It's all good.
The rest of our visit was pretty quiet. Deb, her hairdresser for over 40 years, recreated Marianne's hair, so we can add that as a success for the trip.
Now it's home, to see what happens next.
John and Marianne