Uneven Start to February

February 2 to 11, 2024

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

Gabby schoolOur month started out good with a "babysitting" assignment over in the South Bay. None of those folks are babies, of course, but the term sticks. On Thursday, Februay 1st, we swung by De Anza College where Gabby was starting a course at the Cilker School of Art and Design to get prepared for a new career in interior design. She's very excited, as are we for her. She may be twice the age of many of her fellow students, but she probably has twice the focus and interest as well. Now, if she can just have enough time among all the other activities an active wife and mom has to handle. Good luck to her.

On Friday, mom and dad headed off for a ski weekend in Truckee while we took over care for Ava and Sam. It is great fun now as Marianne and I really have little to worry about with the teen and almost-teen. All day we just relaxed at the comfy Rahimi B&B, until we joined the caretaker crowd picking up school kids. The Los Gatos schools are fairly large and fill the streets and sidewalks when classes are over.ping pong

Our next chore was dinner and we opted for pizza at Santana Row, a nearby fancy shopping center. Of course it was Friday and the place was crowded, but Sam suggested we wait in a nearby men's store where there was a ping pong table set up. Trust youth to know how to have fun, even while waiting for pizza. (By the way, these three were each quite competitive, even in this impromptu setting. Ava's tennis skills, Sam's quick reactions, and Marianne's ancient wisdom were all tested. Fun.)

cooksThe next morning, Ava had a cooking course: a Gigi lesson in palacsinta preparation. The Hungarian crepes have always been a family favorite and now the youngsters can be self-sufficient. Progress, I guess, a part of growing up, filled with a mixed feeling for grandparents.

From there, we had little to worry about concerning our sitting duties. We dropped Sam off at the country club where, despite rain showers, he spent five hours practicing golf. At twelve years old, his skills far exceed where mine ever reached in my teens and twenties. While he was golfing, we dropped his sister off at a sleepover birthday party. She definitely is of an age where socializing is a big deal - with girl friends. For us, it has been fun watching the whole crew shift from little girls to energetic young women.

familystormGabby and Mamal flew back Sunday, avoiding the Sierra highways that were being buried in snow. We were glad they managed the whole trip safely, despite the heaviest snow of the season. As soon as they were back home, we posed for a family picture, packed our bags, and headed off on our own rainy highways. The drive back to Fresno took an hour more than usual, but was just slow, not scary.

Back home, things deteriorated. Marianne developed a pain in her scapula that brought her to tears. A Monday visit to her general practitioner, a Tuesday visit to her surgeon, and a Wednesday home visit by neighbor Dr. Steve brought sympathy, but no convincing explanation or relief. Thursday and Friday sessions with physical therapists brought some relief and plausible explanations of how recent surgery could have prompted body reactions that surfaced in the pain in her shoulder blade and back. (The technical diagnosis was "referenced pain", a vague, almost inexplicable term. I think this is medical code for I-don't-know-what-is-happening-but-I-have-a-word-for-it.) As for pain relief, oxycodone seems to work OK, OK-enough.

Oregon TrailAll this week, my own days were limited to Kaiser trips, commiserating with the patient, and home-puttering. My 750-piece Oregon Trail puzzle was difficult, a welcome relief for many hours. I can't solve medical mysteries, but I can assemble little wooden pieces.

volcanoYouTube also provided daily distractions, including a new volcanic eruption in Iceland. Following this distant disaster has also been good for recognizing how little we can control.

FedirSpeaking of foreign news, we got word from our Ukrainian friends in Maastricht that young Fedir had received the skateboard kit we had shipped him a month ago. His mom sent us a video of him opening the box and it was heart warming to see his thrilled reaction. We need to do more for refugees, everywhere.gabby and Mamal

We managed to finish off the week with Super Bowl Sunday celebration. The original plan had been to party with Ava and Sam while their parents attended the Las Vegas extravaganza, but Gigi was far from well enough for travel. Still, we enjoyed getting word from the travelers.

pizzaOur own party featured chips and dip, caloric splurges not in our normal diet, and beer and wine, the non-alcoholic versions that are our normal. Take-out pizza (curry chicken flavor) and pho soup rounded out our immigrant-American splurge. The food was all tasty, the game was exciting, but the results a let down as the 49ers lost in the last seconds of overtime.

It was a well played game, however, and there is always next year.

Hopefully, this coming week will see a decrease in Marianne's back pain, at least enough to allow her to return to the painting she misses. And there will be an oncologist video-conference to see what he will suggest as a plan for the elephant-in-the-room future.

Stay tuned,

John and Marianne.