Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fresno Greek Fest

Every year, our friend, Bill, gives us tickets for the Merchants Lunch at Fresno's Greek Fest (the only Greek Festival west of the Mississippi that cooks 94% of it's food from scratch!) The 49th annual Greek Fest was held at his church, St. George Greek Orthodox Church. Thanks, Bill.

The interior of the church has been undergoing an iconography project for the past 3 years (expected to be completed by the end of 2009). After an extensive search, an iconographer was located in Russia. Preliminary sketches were drawn, then full-scale templates were prepared for transfer to the ceiling when the artist and assistant arrived from Russia. Valery Butyrsky is a renowned iconographer and educator who has painted religious icons in churches and cathedrals in Russia.

Beautiful ceiling

There was scaffolding throughout the sanctuary so iconographers can complete their three-year project on the sanctuary ceiling.

This painting of Jesus (framed by scaffolding) is on the ceiling in the middle of the church. It looked like this painting was on a lightbox because it was so bright. Amazingly, it was the quality and color of the paint used.

Ornate golden bird podium stand

Lots of gold paint was used (or perhaps gilding) on the ceiling and wall ornaments. See the beautiful gold shimmer around the halos, especially of the child Jesus?

This painting is on the ceiling. There's heavy gold paint (or gilding) on the halos around the angels and the cross.

This beautiful depiction of the Madonna and child Jesus was recessed on the altar wall. Lots gold on the wall behind them and outlining the wall designs.

This colorful scene tops the sanctuary exit. Four circles of stained glass surround a cross. Moses to the left, Jesus to the right. The angel above them has scales on her wings with a banner of "Justice" over the right scale.

This tall stained glass window was one of many along the sides of the church.

Our friend, Bill, stops working to shoot a photo with Kirk. He volunteers every year to put up booths for the festival and for any needed handywork.

Uhh, I have NO idea how to say that. Zax... Does it mean pastry or coffee, or both?

Macadamia-topped baklava behind the counter glass

Assorted dessert boxes ... 3 treats per box. $5 per box, please

These honey and spice Greek cookies (melomakarona) were popular

My favorite is the sweet, honey-laden baklava

This sweet dessert had honey and walnuts, too.

That's powdered sugar all over those cookies. Believe me, you'll have trouble if you accidentally inhale that sugar. Ahhhh-chooo!

My favorite, classic Greek Moussaka (eggplant, meat sauce, topped with a thick bechamel white sauce). In the back is Pastichio (Greek Lasagna with meat sauce). Everything is served with rice pilaf, a roll and a thick slice of local sweet cantaloupe.

What's a Greek meal without a Greek salad with beautiful olives. Tomatoes are in season so they're sweet and juicy. I'm not a fan of cheese but I love this delicious Greek feta (goat cheese).

So hot outside, but the dark mesh tarps shielded the bright valley sun off the diners. We had a great time at the Merchant's Lunch. Tonight and tomorrow night is dancing, music and more food. Opa!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Toro Nagashi

We went to Woodward Park to watch the celebration of Toro Nagashi. It's a traditional Japanese ceremony that honors the spirits of their departed loved ones (and ancestors) by floating paper lanterns down a lake/river to usher their spirits, typically after the summer Obon Odori Festival. When we were kids in Yokohama, Japan, I remembered the lanterns set afloat in a swimming pool!

The paper lanterns arranged by names of the departed

A candle is placed inside each colorful paper lantern

We arrived after 7:30pm and people were still coming

The setting summer sun casts a beautiful warm golden glow

Lauren with Sachi bear (just de-stuffed at the mall)

Here come the lanterns

Aren't they beautiful? The candles inside are lit but it's not dark enough to see their inner glow

I walked around the side of the water. Once the name of each person on the lantern is read, their loved one places the lantern in the water. It's a slow process.

A beautiful summer night and the warm breeze gently sways hanging lanterns

Rather than staring that the lady's tattoos, I looked through my viewfinder and shot. She had large tattoos all over, (chest, arms, etc), appeared to be in her 50s, and had colored strings weaved in her hair. (Lauren shot me a "Don't EVEN think about it" look. I wasn't).

These hanging paper lanterns lit the seated family and friends below them

At 8:30pm, it's dark and the lanterns are lit. Time to go. Goodnight!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sachi's Liposuction

We picked up Sachi the Bear in Denver about 10 years ago. Lauren decided that Sachi was too firm, not cuddly anymore. So, we took her to the mall for some unstuffing (wish I could unstuff MYSELF at the mall).

Sachi (before)

The saleslady was a little surprised but agreed to remove some stuffing

Lauren's expressions changed, but she watched everything

Some bear "fat" being removed

Bear surgery, from the look of things (people started looking, at this point)

Time for sutures


All's good. Sachi even got new ribbons.

When I was taking this photo, mall security tapped me on the shoulder. What? You want my memory card? You're kidding ... I was taking pictures of a bear being unstuffed, then a shot outside to remember the store. Thank you. Seriously --- I'm not a terrorist (just mamarazzi).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Senior Moments

On Monday, August 17, Lauren started her first day as a high school senior. Ugh. I'm embarrassed to admit, I'm as weepy today as I was the first day she started preschool. From that very first day, we shot a series of pictures: waking up, standing by the front door to measure her height, her backpack-of-the-year and with her Pop in the front yard. Then, her Pop shoots a video and interviews her about her thoughts and plans for the year.

This year, we did the same photographing/video routine. Only, this will be the last in that series. (Kinda wierd to do that when your girl goes to college, huh?) Yup, Lauren's got a fun year of senior moments ahead.

Lauren wakes up with Olivia (the otter)

Hey, stay up now (I had to shake her back up again after this)

Can't leave home without the makeup

Front door height (she's taller than the doorknob now).
No more backpack (she throws everything in her new book-purse).
I wonder if she'll laugh at her clothes 20 years from now.

Pop and Lo in the front yard

I drove by her school and saw a new welcome sign with balloons. Go Knights!

Two days later, she started back at CART (Center for Advanced Research & Technology) in Clovis. She was one of eight seniors selected as Ambassadors (to help underclassmen assimilate) and received this shirt as a uniform.

She wanted another shot with Pop with the new shirt

She got up early to make breakfast (eggs with Uncle Ruel's tomatoes, longanisa sausage from Auntie Malou and fried rice)

Every morning, they start their day with a prayer. Knowing that, life's good, yes?