Update #10, Everything here! It’s over! 10/19/15

It’s been more than a month since I last wrote an update.  So much has happened, and I kept thinking I would catch up, but I never did.  Here comes the past month.

We spent several days working through all the things that finally arrived from China.  After we sorted it all and began to find places for it, we had a blast remembering some of our experiences that flashed back as we set the stuff out for display.  It’s nice to have a bigger wardrobe selection to pick from also.  We had grown really tired of living out of only what we had been able to pack in our suitcases.


Some of the art we bought and pictures we took in Hong Kong.


Some art we bought in Russia, and pictures we’re considering pairing with them on one of our walls.

Judy’s left leg had been bothering her since April, while we were still in Beijing.  She found an orthopedist, and scheduled a visit.  He checked out the problem and sent her for an MRI.  The MRI report showed some serious issues with her knee and worn cartilage.  She never even thought the problem was her knee.  The pain had been centered in her muscles, above and below the knee.  The diagnosis was a “knee replacement”.  The surgery took place Thursday, Oct. 8.  There’s no sense wasting time.  Her rehab has gone well.  A physical therapist has been visiting, and Judy’s walking up and down the hallways of the building.   He tells her she’s making great progress, but she’s not so sure.  She’s never handled strong medicine well, and the painkillers, however good they are, have side effects she’s not fond of.

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Our estate/liquidations sale organizer found a place to put our stuff from storage and sell it.  We went to the storage warehouse Monday, Sept. 28, and sorted through it.  There were three workers opening up the 14 “vaults”, and pulling it out.  We sorted everything into two piles, “sale”, and “condo”.  It was weird looking at stuff from our 40 years of marriage, and deciding to keep it or sell it.  It took about 4 hours to complete the sort.  We left, and they loaded it into two trucks for delivery the next day.

Judy met the “condo” delivery, and I went to the estate sale site for that delivery.  Both deliveries went well.  The estate sale is scheduled for Oct 23-25.  They have a little over three weeks to unbox, sort, put together, and price all of our stuff, as well as the family’s stuff that moved out of the house where the sale is being held.  I’m glad it’s not me.

Back at the condo, we worked furiously, finding a place for everything that remained of our past.  When everything was delivered, we dumped some of it into a second storage cage.  After putting everything in the condo away, we had to reduce our two storage cages, down to one.  We were in a race against time as well – the scheduled knee surgery.  We need to finish everything before Judy is “out of commission” on Oct. 8. 

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At the same time I began my part-time duties as a mentor for 6 FWISD schools.  I’m assigned to visit each school once a week, providing help and support as needed.  Five of the schools are close, so the commute is easy.  It’ll take me a while to figure out the schedules and how to best help them.

Last week I mixed the new job with Judy’s rehab, so my days were pretty full.  This past weekend, I flew to Amarillo and judged the Region 1 UIL Marching Festival.  It was a really full day with 38 bands, scheduled every 15 minutes.

Everything is here, from China, and storage.  We have lots of projects to work through.  Judy’s knee surgery was successful and her rehab is going well.  I’ve got a part-time job that will keep me “in the game”.  Our “Trip to China” is officially completed.  Sometime soon I’m going to sit down and summarize the whole wonderful experience, but right now, it’s time for Judy’s next round of “meds”.

Update #9, SHIPMENT ARRIVED! 9/16/15

The shipment from China finally arrived. They unloaded everything Friday afternoon. They were supposed to be here around 9:00 am, but didn’t have the proper insurance papers to work in our building. I told them twice before about it, but the word didn’t get to where it needed to be, and the movers had to sit in Mesquite until it was faxed from their company headquarters in Phoenix.


This is some of our China stuff, before we got it sorted out.

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They did a good job of unpacking and getting all the boxes and packing paper out of here. We finally finished getting everything put away by Monday. We’re so glad we spent the time and money to have the Elfa shelving installed throughout the condo. Everything eventually found an easily accessible “home”.

Now we’re waiting on our storage stuff. Right now, the plan is to go to the storage facility on Monday, Sept. 28, and sort out all the items in our 14 vaults. It’ll be divided into the “estate sale” stack, and the condo stack. It’ll all be loaded on two trucks and delivered simultaneously the next day, Sept. 29. That should take all day.

After that, we’ll be spending lots of time finding a place for everything. It’ll be nice to get our dishes, silverware, and cooking utensils back. There have been lots of times we’ve started to cook something or plan a meal, and realize we don’t have the stuff we need. We don’t want to buy it because we know it’ll be coming soon. Now, at least, the end is in sight and has a date.

Judy had an MRI on her left knee and leg last week. It’s been bothering her for several years, but began to get worse in April. The report from the doctor this week is that she’ll need a knee replacement. The surgery news isn’t great, but at least there’s a diagnosis with a possible solution.


Scenes from my morning bike rides on the Trinity Trails, around Fort Worth. I’m usually getting in between 5 & 9 miles each day.

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Update #8, Wednesday, 9/9/15

Our “shipment” update contains better news today. Our stuff has arrived at the local distribution point, and is scheduled for delivery on Friday, 9/11/15. We’re not sure what time exactly yet, but it’s nice to know it’s close, and the end is in sight.

Had a fun visit with Josie. I forgot to mention our Wednesday tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, in North Fort Worth. It’s one of two sites in the US (the other is Washington, DC) that prints US currency. The level of security and all the printing countermeasures to defeat counterfeiters is really interesting. Stacks and stacks of cash were sitting everywhere.

Thursday morning we took the Segway tour of Trinity Park and the 7th Street district. We did a lot of off-road riding on this tour. Judy joined us for the evening trip to AT&T Stadium and the Dallas Cowboys last pre-season game. I wasn’t expecting a big crowd, but by half-time, the stadium seemed nearly full. The game itself was very average (no starters played), with lots of guys working hard to make the team before the final cut.


And our Segway tour begins.

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I’ve been around the stadium several times before, but it’s still impressive, every visit.


Friday, I took Josie to the Stockyards. We wandered down a few of the streets and had a chance to watch the Longhorn herd drive down Main Street.


The longhorn “herd” waiting for cattle drive.


Time to go to work!


Those are some “long” horns


I took Josie to meet a friend in Grand Prairie. They were going to catch up on “old times” during their drive to Love Field to catch Josie’s flight back to El Paso. Josie is still not sure what her Visa status is. With the big “Defeat of Japan” celebration going on in China, and the upcoming Autumn holiday, Josie’s not sure when she’s ever going to get her paperwork finished and actually depart for China.

Our Labor Day Holiday was quiet. We enjoyed some family time. I made it over to the DFW table tennis session on Saturday. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent deciding about our “estate sale”. We have a site, and now the planning for when and how to get our stuff delivered is underway. Trying to figure out when and where to sort the stuff we want to keep, and then how to deliver it to the correct destination is the struggle right now. It’s not life or death, but it’s the biggest problem we have right now.

Update #7, Life was “jumping” this week! 9/2/15

We still have no news on our China shipment. Guess I’ll have to get back in touch with our LA contact. Based on the timeline we got from her, it should have been here already.

We’ve enjoyed lots of activities this past week. Saturday we attended a Knight family fish fry out at Mr. Knight’s Granbury lake house. It was a blast with lots of great food, combined with family visiting.


Knight family, posed in Granbury

Sunday, we attended the 60th surprise birthday party for a friend who was a long-time neighbor when I was growing up. Marsha Howse Scott attended Azle HS and was in the band with me, Judy, and Kathryn. The party was organized by her two daughters and held at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. It was fun to visit with the Howse family who lived across the street from my parents for many years.


Jiggs Howse


Bob Howse


Delaina, Marsha’s baby sister.


Marsha and her two daughters

I picked Josie up at Love Field on Tuesday around noon. We went to the Bush Museum, which was a first for me. It’s a good place to visit. Afterwards, we grabbed a late lunch before starting back to Fort Worth. We drove through downtown Dallas, through Dealey Plaza, and the Kennedy Assassination site. I’m trying out a lot of tourist sites on Josie for visitors who might come through DFW from China over the next few years. We finished off the day at Sundance Square.

Today, we visited the Amon Carter Museum across the street, and then walked through the 7th Street area. Later in the day, we went the Central Market to shop for some specialty food items. Josie wanted to find a few things to give us a “taste of London”, her hometown. She found what she needed and we headed home for our “English” experience lunch.

We finished the day with trip over to the Grand Prairie Premium Outlets. Josie is a shopper and needed a few things to take back to China she couldn’t find in El Paso. We made plans for a FW Segway tour tomorrow morning, and the Dallas Cowboys last pre-season game tomorrow night. I’ve never attended a Cowboys game in AT&T Stadium.

Update #6, life rolls on, 8/26/15

We’re still waiting on our shipment from China. I touched base with our contact in Los Angeles and was told it left LA on Friday, and should be in our area in 6 days. We’re anxious to get to get it here. We’ve been living out of what we carried in our suitcases when we left Beijing on June 21. That’s a long time out of 2 suitcases.

We made the decision to have more shelving installed in the “nook” area of our condo. It’s becoming more and more obvious to us that we’re going to need as much storage as possible when everything either arrives from China, or gets out of storage.


New Elfa shelving in our “nook” area.


New desk


Packing material left over after we unpacked our new desk.

We don’t have any good answers yet on our storage items. Without a place to have an “estate sale”, we’re stuck. Judy’s found a place that does online auctions and will take all our stuff. We’re trying to do a little research on the advantage of selling our stuff that route, or waiting a little longer for something to come open on the “estate sale” front.

Judy went over to Brad’s school and took some pictures of his classes. She’s offered to update his drumline’s website, along with their Twitter feed, and whatever other kind of social media he’s got going. The more she does with it, the more she is forced to read and learn. She’s enjoying the challenge.


Middle school “pit”


Middle school “battery”




High school “battery”


High School “front ensemble” or “pit”


“2nd year” class

I found out that Josie Francis, a friend who taught with me at BHSFIC is coming for a visit next week. She’s waiting on paperwork in China to clear so she can begin the visa process to return to China to a new job in an International School in Yantai, China. She’s staying with her son in his apartment in El Paso where she lived for 20 years before moving to China.

Update #5, Baton Rouge road trip, Wednesday, 8/19/15

The report on our China shipment is that it passed through customs, and we owe some money. We’re not sure for what, but we’ll find out later. Our stuff should begin traveling this direction after it arrives at the company’s receiving warehouse and gets sorted out into destinations. It could be here as early as the end of next week. Here’s hoping!

Judy and I made it to Baton Rouge this past weekend and had a great visit with Mom and Robert & Susan. She’s steadily improving and making progress from her broken leg in May. She gets really tired after a short walk around “The Haven”, but she’s making it, and isn’t fighting and arguing with the rehab folks like Dad regularly did.

Courtney flew in Saturday morning. We picked her up at the airport, and headed over to Mom’s for the day. I’ve been showing her lots of photos of our travels. Last summer, she was so “foggy” she didn’t see any of our cruise photos. We had a lot of trip photos she hadn’t seen, and she did a good job of staying awake while I worked through them.

We enjoyed some nice evening meals with Robert and Susan. I’d forgotten how large portions can be in restaurants in the US. We ate so much, and it was great. I’ve also traveled around Baton Rouge enough now that I’m beginning to feel comfortable with finding my way around.


Some Baton Rouge beignets.

Sunday morning, we finished off our Baton Rouge visit with a trip for all of us to IHOP. Afterwards, we started the drive home. There are some long stretches of road without much interesting scenery. Eight hours later, we dropped Courtney off at her apartment, and then headed to our place in Fort Worth. This was the first “road trip” Judy has taken since we left for China. She’s not sure which she dislikes the most, flying, or driving.


Good times at IHOP!

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On our way out of town we stopped at the Louisiana Capitol Building.


Checking out the Mississippi River.

Back in Fort Worth, we settled back into our Fort Worth schedule of morning exercise and afternoon job/errand completion. I’ve started playing table tennis with the DFW Table Tennis Association. They play in Las Colinas on Monday evenings, and Saturday mornings. There are lots of good players. I’m going to have my hands full trying not to be the worst player in the group.


Update #4, Wednesday, 8/12/15

There’s no new info on our China shipment. I guess it’s still stuck in Customs.

We continued our morning exercise schedules, and are beginning to get past the “pain” a little bit. We spent a couple of days looking for a media center, but had no luck. We did find some furniture for our balcony area. We picked out a tall table, and two chairs. We plan on enjoying some time outside, enjoying the view. It was delivered on Tuesday (Tuesday, again).

We thought we might be making a trip to Baton Rouge this week to visit my mom, but we couldn’t get things to line up right. Maybe next weekend will work.

We enjoyed “Friday Night at the Modern”. The cafe served a really nice meal, and then we enjoyed live music in the lobby. It’s so weird to look out the window of the café and have such a good view of our condo.


Looking out of the Modern Cafe toward our condo building in the background.


We’re beginning to realize that an “estate/liquidation” sale of all our stuff in storage is gonna be hard to set-up. We don’t have a place to hold it, and none of the estate sale specialists have any advice on where to have it. They don’t have places to big enough to spread it out and look at it. We’re beginning to look for some other options.

I did a mini-project on our closets. We’d already had Elfa shelving installed in our closets. We’ve been here long enough now that we decided to add a few more shoe shelves. We’ve got lots of shoes still coming from China, plus whatever is in our storage vaults. I managed to make some adjustments and found room to add 2 more shoe shelves for my shoes, and 3 more for Judy. I think we now have 15 shoe shelves, and it’s probably not enough. I’ll be glad when everything arrives, and we can get it all put away.


Some of our new sliding shoe shelves.


Update #3, Walking around, Wednesday, Aug. 5

The latest news on our China shipment is that Customs flagged it. This should add about two additional weeks to our delivery schedule. It’s not a surprise, but sorta frustrating.

We’re beginning to get into a schedule, of sorts. Judy goes out early, around 6:30 am and walks around the area. She’s having a blast checking out all the sculptures and outdoor art around the Cultural District. After her walk, she returns to the condo for breakfast and then a trip to the spa to work on the tightness in her right leg. She hurt it running in Beijing back in April, and it’s still bothering her some.


Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

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Cowgirl Hall of Fame



Kimbell Art Museum

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The Modern



Looking back up to our condo.

I’m getting out of the condo around 7:00 am to ride my bike around the Trinity Trails. I’m trying to stretch out my distance each day. I’m averaging 6 to 8 miles daily before my Chick-Fil-A stop for breakfast. Next, I head over to the gym for a workout, followed by a swim session. I’m swimming 1800 yards at least 4 times a week (at least right now). After my workout, I head back to the condo for lunch and whatever activity the afternoon holds.

Lately, we’ve been visiting furniture stores, finalizing purchases on more items for the new place. Tuesdays are turning into big delivery days. Last week we had a big delivery (bedroom furniture). This week, we had another big shipment of living room furniture (sofa, recliner, and chair/ottoman.) We’re still looking for a media center, for all our audio/video junk, and then the fun with lamps, tables, and décor items will begin.

Update #2, A little travel, 7/29/15

We’ve had a lot of travel since my last update. The first item is the status on our shipping. We’ve received word that our stuff arrived in Long Beach, but is waiting for customs clearance. The movers are not sure if our stuff will be selected for special customs handling, but they did say most of the stuff from China gets “special attention.”

I also found out that Judy’s final salary payment from the school has been deposited in her Beijing bank. I’ve begun the tedious task of daily jaunts to the ATM. Fortunately, there’s one close to the Chick-Fil-A where I eat breakfast after my morning bike ride. Since there’s a maximum daily withdrawal limit, I’ll have at least 10 days of ATM visits to access the money.

I drove to San Antonio (300 miles) to attend the Texas Bandmaster’s Convention (TBA) on Friday, July 24. I left early (5:00 am) to allow myself most of the day at the convention to wander around and let myself be seen and renew acquaintances. I’m trying to let people know I’m back in the US, if they need a judge or clinician. I was lucky enough to spend time with Roger Edwards and Cody Myers, the guys in charge of judges for Region 1 (Amarillo). They were in need of a judge for UIL Marching Contest on Oct. 17. Hooray! My trip to TBA worked.

Another friend I ran into, Dick Clardy, is the Director of Instrumental Music for Fort Worth ISD. His office in FW is less than a mile from our condo. He said he might be needing a mentor for several new teachers in his school district. I have a meeting with him Friday to talk about it.

I left San Antonio Saturday morning, and drove to Brady for the celebration of Judy’s dad’s 80th birthday. Judy drove in from Fort Worth with Brad and Courtney. The party was out at the ranch, and almost everyone was in attendance. We had a great time eating and talking, and eating and talking some more.


Judy, with her Dad, brother Stanley, and sister Nancy


Brad and Courtney with Papaw Knight


The family, out in the sun!


Same group, in the shade.

We had new furniture delivered yesterday. Some movers came in first and took out our old bedroom furniture and living room furniture. We found someone who could use it, and it’s in great shape. Next we had our new bedroom furniture delivered as well as a sofa-bed for our office/2nd bedroom. At the end of the day, our new mattress was delivered. It was a big day for the freight elevator in our condo.

Update #1, Cars, insurance, furniture, & exercise, 7/22/15

After a week, our sleep cycles are beginning to adjust. The jet lag has been easier coming from Europe where the time difference is 5 to 7 hours, instead of the China 13 hour adjustment.

First thing to take care of is our “wheels”. I changed our driver’s license address to Fort Worth. We had listed Courtney’s address in Dallas because the state needed a physical address, instead of a PO box. I also began the process of getting the title changed on our cars back to us, from the kids. That also involved getting our car insurance established again, not as easy as it sounds. First we were enrolled, then cancelled, then re-enrolled, and then cancelled again, and finally enrolled. Most of the issues were created because we had been out of the country with no insurance for two years.

We’ve begun the process of furnishing and decorating the condo. Most of our previous furniture was too large and over-sized. We spent two days with a decorator, developing a plan, and then going out and shopping furniture. Our 2nd day out, we purchased new bedroom furniture and a sofa bed for the office/2nd bedroom area. The new stuff was delivered yesterday, and we’ve been enjoying it.

Judy has begun to establish a workout schedule for herself of walking, and exercises. If we get a good schedule going from the beginning, it’ll have a better chance to “stick”. I found a gym 3 blocks away (walking distance) with a lap pool, exactly what I was looking for. I checked it out and signed up for a 6 month membership. That should get my exercise regimen kicked off. I also opted to get a trainer for a 6-month program. I have always needed someone looking over my shoulder to keep me on track. My first training sessions starts tomorrow.

While I was riding a bike in Beijing, I decided I would like to continue riding in Texas. I found a bike shop nearby and made a purchase. The nearby Trinity Trails, along the river, are a great place to ride. Monday, I started riding the trails and had a great time, but it is work. I have a feeling it’s going to be a love/hate thing on the bike riding.


My new wheels!