Big Family (Plus) Weekend

May 19-23, 2023

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

Days late, I am writing our diary of a full family weekend. Normally, I like to do diaries day-by-day, because I forget too much otherwise, but this time was different. I could not use my normal work flow, because I had left my photo library hard drive at home, so here I am late, with more backlog and less memory than I like. Better late than never.

dogsOn Friday (the 19th) we drove over to Monte Sereno to start family events. First, we needed to greet Charli and Sarbi, two of the cutest Berni-doodles we have ever met. Of course we say that and not JUST because they are family. Marianne fed them "carrot coins" and they were (again) friends for life. Dog-love is so uncomplicated.

signSoon we zipped off to a dance recital at Ava's middle school. For the next two hours, we were treated to a display of talent, mostly good and always enthusiastic. A single dance instructor managed to get dozens of middle school girls organized - reasonably so. That alone would be remarkable. Some groups filled the gym floor and other groups were just a few friends. And there were a handful of soloists scattered across the evening, seeming quite alone in the big space.

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Ava, our favorite dancer, appeared in a few numbers, sometimes in the back of the group but a couple of times front and center. She also handed out diplomas for the (Dance) Class of 2023. Mom and grandmothers were very proud.

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When it was all over, families gathered to take pictures and congratulate all the student dancers on jobs well done.


signSaturday held more family events. After sending son Geoff an eCard on his 49th birthday, at age 77, I would go to my first baby shower. Mamal's cousin Sherine and husband John opened up the traditionally girls-only event to the full range of family, guys and youngsters as well. The party was held in Arash and Irene's newly finished backyard with plenty of food, talking, games, and sunshine. Talking at these groups is always fun and the food was great. I managed to win one of the games and lose in the battle against the Spring sun. (My face is still peeling.)

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stageOn Sunday, we drove down to Monterey for more family. Nephew Spencer was graduating from Stevenson School and we were honored to attend. The ceremony was outdoors, in traditional (cool) Monterey weather. Speeches were spoken. Awards were made. Diplomas were handed out. Hats were tossed. And pictures were taken., lots of them. Family. Friends. Family friends.

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On Monday morning, I took pictures of flowers in the Colton Street yard because I like flowers and because Chris is justifiably proud of his gardens. He offered us clippings, but plants just don't make the transition from mild-weather Monterey to semi-desert Fresno. Pictures will have to do.

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With Chris and Leisa off to work, Adam back at UC Santa Cruz, and Spencer lounging in his first day as a high school graduate, Marianne and I headed north.chowder

We managed to work in two meal stops in the 60 minute drive, first for French pastries in Monterey and then clam chowder at Phil's Fish Market up in Castroville.

In Monte Sereno, we moved back into Ava's room for one more over night stay. We appreciate it Ava!


Tuesday started with an early birthday party, very early. Gigi and his mom woke Sam up with a spirited rendition of the Happy Birthday song. He's not the best early riser, but the promise of his favorite breakfast (Gigi's Hungarian crepes) and presents eventually got him moving.

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wolfAfter all this early celebration, Marianne and I had to say goodbye to the family and head off to an afternoon appointment in Oakland. We had lots of time, so we had an early and slow lunch at The Wolf. This Piedmont neighborhood restaurant was a perfect place to kill a couple of hours.Kaiser

Around 3:30, we walked over to the Kaiser facility where Marianne had a consult with a surgeon to discuss one more cancer-related surgery. This time it would be to remove "margins" from around the site of the positive biopsy from a couple of months ago. We came here to Kaiser headquarters to see a specialist plastic surgeon. However, after examination, she determined that the required work would be relatively minor and could be done adequately at the more convenient facility in Fresno. Hopefully, we can get this behind us in the not-too-distant future.

By 4:30, we were on the road to one more appointment, this time to visit a friend at a Modesto rehab facility. Ted was starting a two-week program to improve his mobility. It was good to chat with him, even though we only had 15 or 20 minutes before visitors were asked to leave. We promised another visit soon, either in Modesto or his and Nancy's home in Sonora.

mapOur plan had been to stay overnight in Modesto, but I had not done the hotel reservation correctly, so we ended up driving home. The drive was much later than we normally find comfortable, but it was worth it to finally settle into our own space.

However, we do need to get back on the road whenever conditions permit.

Stay tuned,

John and Marianne