Busy, busy, busy! 5/25/15

I managed to stay really busy today. It started off with the early arrival of our ayi. She usually comes around noon on Mondays, but showed up this morning at 8:30. I left the apartment around 9:00, headed for Metro for grocery shopping. Back at the apartment later, I unloaded everything, then headed over to the pool. After swimming, I mixed up some soup for lunch, leaving enough for Judy for dinner.

After lunch, I climbed on the bike and rode over to the TT park. Had a great afternoon of getting clobbered. I played one of the guys I’d played several times before, and he didn’t back off at all today, pounding the ball past me time and again. I kept trying to give him some decent balls to hit, and he kept smashing it down my throat. I didn’t think it was the time yet to start seriously trying to beat him. I just wanted to practice some forehands and backhands. He seemed intent on helping me learn how to block a smash.


These pix were taken back in January or February, when it was cold. This is me, with the “manager” of the park. He collects the fees, and worked to make sure someone would play with me when I showed up. Without him, my trips would have been a bust!


This is the guy that just “wore me out” today. I get tired just looking at this picture.

I left around 4:30, riding to Ditan Park for my lesson. I ate dinner at a nearby KFC before going into the gym. Once inside the gym, I watched the kids taking lessons for half an hour prior to my own lesson. At 6:00, my lesson cranked up. My strokes are better and my teacher has to make fewer stroke corrections. I’m really worn out and ready to head home when the lesson ends at 7:00. The bike ride home takes about 30 minutes. When I hit the door at 7:40, I’m so ready for bed!

40 Years!!!, 5/24/15

40 YEARS!!! Actually yesterday was our 40th wedding anniversary, but today’s when we decided to celebrate. Maybe this will be the last time we have to delay an anniversary celebration because of one of our school activities.

It’s a little surreal, the thought of spending our anniversary in Beijing. Two years ago, we knew we were headed to Beijing, but had no idea what a great experience it was going to be. As we near the end of our time here, it’s hard to imagine it’s been two years. It’s gone fast, but not nearly as fast as the last forty years. When did we get so old?

We had been trying to figure out where to celebrate, and really couldn’t settle on what to do, or where to go. One of Judy’s friends at school told us about two spots he enjoyed, and we chose the one with the best view. Both were supposed to have great food, but the Park Hyatt China Grill is on the 66th floor. I’ve always been a sucker for a great view.

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The food was great! We had the “meat” plate with potatoes, and finished it off splitting a couple of desserts. The view was great! After two years, it was fun to get above the city, and see many of the places I’ve been traipsing through.


International Day, BISS style, 5/23/15

“International Day” is probably the biggest day of the year for BISS. All grade levels participate, and it’s amazing to see the countries and cultures that are represented. The day starts off with the Parade of Countries. So many of the countries have traditional clothing. All we seem to have in the US are red/white/blue t-shirts.


Before the crowds arrive!

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Some shots of the “Parade of Countries”. This is the left half of “China”.


And now, the right half!

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And now – The USA!


I didn’t make the last pic. I was helping the “horses” get on stage.


Following the parade the elementary school groups sang. Judy organized the 7 grade levels (Pre-K to 5) into 3 groups. Her part of the program closed with a performance of the new school song, sung by all the elementary students, on stage together.

Short video links to Elementary group performances:

Pre-K, Kinder, & Grade 1 – https://www.dropbox.com/s/ut6sgnc50w8clbc/15.5.23.PreK.Kinder.Grade1.m4v?dl=0

Grade 2 & 3 – https://www.dropbox.com/s/rg1sjyeylmm31bs/15.5.23.Grade%202.3.m4v?dl=0

Grade 4 & 5 – https://www.dropbox.com/s/97ghyulgkci7gkz/15.5.23.Grade4.5.m4v?dl=0

School Song with all elementary students – https://www.dropbox.com/s/ga0ex9o8mex8261/15.5.23.School%20Song.m4v?dl=0

The elementary program was followed by several different dance presentations and a few music selections from secondary school students. After the programs finished, it was time to explore the food tables from the many countries represented at BISS. So much food to “travel thru”.

After International Day concluded at 1:00, I headed home. Judy headed to Sanlitun for an afternoon of nails, massages, and later, nachos. Since today is officially our 40th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, we had planned to hit the town tonight. We were so tired at the end of the afternoon, we adjusted the celebration to tomorrow.

Closing out the week, 5/ 21-22 /15

THURSDAY, 5/21/15

We both had another fitful night of sleep. I did manage to get to the pool and start up the swimming regimen. I decided I needed to head over to the table tennis shop and get some new rubber on my paddle before I leave China. At my last lesson, the coach looked at the paddle and indicated “good”, but then let me know the rubber was too slick and worn. I found the “Butterfly” shop, found the rubber I was looking for, and they set-up my paddle. I also got a few shirts. I’m kinda getting “geared up” with Butterfly stuff these days.

FRIDAY, 5/22/15

Slept better, but still woke up around 2:00 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I worked on some travel planning for June, then headed over to the pool. Our ayi showed up early today (9am instead of the scheduled noon), so I’m trying to stay out of her way. After lunch, I rode over the table tennis park. I had a chance to play with a couple of new guys I hadn’t played before. The lessons are beginning to pay dividends. I’m more of a challenge now. I can also tell a difference with the new rubber on my paddle. It’s going to take a few times to get used to it.

Judy texts me after school with plans to go to Homeplate BBQ for dinner. I meet Dom at the gate and we take a taxi over. It’s a nice night to sit out on the patio, enjoy good food, and discuss life. Judy had a full day of rehearsals outdoors with several different age levels, prepping for “International Day” tomorrow.  It’ll be her last “big” performance.

Lilly returns with a new family member, 5/20/15

Sleep was weird last night, for both of us. We would sleep for a while then wake up, then doze off again, but never for very long. It is, however, nice to be back in our regular bed. Our ayi is coming in early today, so I have to get everything straightened out before she arrives. She came in around 8:00am and paid for the iPhone we purchased in Ft. Worth and brought back. The phone is actually for Lilly’s brother. I can’t even remember how many iPhones and iPads we’ve bought for the family. This will be the last one though.

My plan was to swim today, but I’m still “buzzed” from the flight yesterday. Also, Lilly’s mom indicated Lilly would be coming by today to visit with the new baby. I haven’t seen Lilly since she left the first week of December to return to her hometown to have the baby. The baby was born Dec 18th, not long after she got home. She returned to Beijing for the first time last week. She’s hoping to get enough work to stay. She doesn’t want to go back to live in her hometown.

I make a trip to the wet market, and back to the apartment to wait for Lilly to arrive. When she arrives, we have a nice visit. The baby girl, named Hu Xinyi, is cute. She can’t seem to figure out what’s the deal with my face. I’m probably the first western face she’s seen, and there is definitely some confusion. She also spends a lot of time looking around the apartment.


Lilly and her daughter Xinyi



Xinyi and grandma



After the three of them leave, I ate some lunch, then rode the bike over to the police station to register our return to China from the US. This should be the last time I have to do this. I’m just now beginning to get the hang of it, and the clerk recognizes me, making it even easier.

Back home, I mixed up some vegetable soup, and started it cooking. Judy gets home and is really tired. We ate a relaxing dinner while Judy tried to recover from the day. There’s no way I could have taught classes today.

Catching up after the US, 5/ 18-19 /15

MONDAY – TUESDAY 5/18-19/15

Back to Beijing today! We pack up and leave the condo, driving to Dallas to pick-up Courtney. She’s going to drop us at the airport and keep the car. We’re on separate flights. I can’t remember now why? I think my flight was cheaper than the direct flight Judy is on. We get checked in and through security.   Judy’s flight departs first, so we wait together at her gate. When she boards the plane, I move over to my gate. The DFW airport is easier to navigate than most of the airports we’ve been around.

The flight to Chicago is short by the standards I’ve gotten used to. Less than two hours. The transition to the departure gate in Chicago is easy. The flight leaves an hour late, but arrives in Beijing as scheduled. I made it quickly through immigration and arrived at baggage claim ahead of most of the crowd. An hour later I was still standing there, waiting on my luggage. When the last luggage dropped out and mine wasn’t around, I headed over to the baggage “issues” area. They checked the computers and my luggage was stashed in another place. I don’t know why it didn’t come out on the carousel, but at least I have my bags. The taxi line isn’t too bad, and traffic is light going into town. I arrived at the apartment at 10:30. It didn’t take me long to dump my bags and head to bed. It’s been a long day (or two days).

The time in the states was a little bittersweet. Mom’s broken leg is a tough “pill to swallow”. She has been doing really well, and beginning to settle in at the Baton Rouge “Haven”. She’s been working to lighten the load on Robert and Susan, and the rehab is going to do the opposite. She felt so bad as she was headed to surgery, knowing the road that lay ahead. When we get reports from Baton Rouge, she’s just now beginning to start the rehab process and her head is beginning to clear.

Courtney’s graduation activities were a blast! She had a fun party on Friday (15th), organized by her boss, attended by friends and colleagues from Lewisville and UTA. There were a lot of PhD’s. sitting around the table. We had a Knight family lunch gathering on Saturday (16th) at our condo. It’s fun to see everyone and have a chance to relax and enjoy family and good food.


Friday evening get-together at Grimaldi’s in Grapevine for Court and her friends/colleagues.  Before the crowd arrives.

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Knight family lunch on Saturday at Museum Place.

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The graduation ceremony at UTA was efficient and seating was comfortable. I’ve never paid attention to the doctoral candidates and their “hooding” before. It was a great evening, watching the culmination of tons of work on Courtney’s part come to fruition. We’re so proud of everything she’s accomplished.






With her professor

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A surprise, with an unexpected twist, 5/9/15

I woke up at 3:00 am, and there was no going back to sleep. I showered and began to get ready. I managed to make enough noise to wake Courtney from across the room. I don’t ever want to get too close during that process. She’s never appreciated my morning humor and good spirits, going way back to her Jr. High years.

We left the condo at 4:30 and headed east towards Lousiana. We found a McDonalds drive-thru around 6:00 am, and continued on our way, arriving in Baton Rouge right at noon. We stopped at a “Cane’s” for lunch, and then drove over to the Haven for our visit.

We hoped to catch her at the lunch table, but she was already back in her room when we arrived. She was thoroughly confused when we walked in! Had a great time talking and visiting!!! Around 3:00, jet lag was beginning to set-in, so we left to go to our hotel. The plan was to return at 5:15 and take mom out to eat.

We walked back into The Haven at 5:05 and as we neared mom’s room, one of the attendants stepped out of the room, letting me know mom had fallen, and that EMS was on the way. UGH!!! She was lying on the floor by her bed, equally hurting from the pain, and angry about the fact that it had happened. She had been sitting on the edge of the bed, reached for something on the nearby dresser, and slid off the bed to the floor. She’s convinced she’s broken a hip.

EMS arrives, loads her up, and heads to the hospital. Courtney and I make some quick contacts with Robert, Susan, and Geoffrey, and we all meet at the emergency room at the hospital. X-rays show a broken left femur, near the hip. Surgery is scheduled for sometime tonight to insert a rod. It’s a busy Saturday night in Baton Rouge, and she eventually rolls into surgery at 3:00 am. The surgery goes as well as could be expected for an 86 year old. She’s back in her room after recovery at 6:00 am. This has been a long 27 hours.

Since I’m back in the US, I’m going to take a writing break. I’ll get back into it when we start back to China, unless “the writing spirit” strikes me earlier.

Non-stop to DFW, 5/8/15

I’ve got a long day ahead. I’m flying back to the US today. I haven’t said anything about it before now because my mom reads this blog. (It’s actually the main reason I write it). By the time I post this, I’ll be in Baton Rouge and she’ll be officially surprised.

Since we planned to return to the US for Courtney’s doctoral graduation on May 16, I decided to fly back early and surprise mom for “Mother’s Day”. I’m kinda excited today because I ended up on the American Airlines inaugural “Beijing to DFW” direct flight. I started reading about it almost a year ago. When I started booking flights 3 weeks ago, it popped up, and although slightly more expensive than our usual United Airlines flights, IT WAS DIRECT! No two-hour layover in San Fran or Chicago or DC, with all the accompanying baggage and security hassles.

When I showed up at the airport, I didn’t know it was the first flight. The check in area was full of Chinese staff wearing cowboy hats (some of them backwards, how would they know?). It was the same at the gate. They passed out a commemorative passport cover as we boarded, and the flight crew was taking group pictures. I think they flew in yesterday on the inaugural flight from DFW to Beijing, spent the night, and are heading back today. The flight is slightly less than 13 hours.


Some Chinese cowboys.

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The plane landed at DFW at 5:00 pm. Immigration and customs was a breeze because of “Global Entry”. I walked by everyone, including crews. Courtney picked me up outside and by 6:00 pm we were at Pappas Burgers in Fort Worth having dinner with Brad.

Back at the condo after dinner, I unpacked, and then repacked for the Baton Rouge drive tomorrow. Courtney is spending the night here in the condo on the couch, and we’ll leave when we wake up in the morning.

Tailor visit & more travel planning, 5/7/15

Finally I had time to spend getting almost everything booked for our extra summer travel. I schedule a time for our travel agent to “send her lady”, to deliver tickets/receipts, and get paid.

I found time today to plan more on what to take to DFW when we attend Courtney’s UTA graduation. We have a “two checked bags” allotment on our flights, and don’t want to waste it. We’ll “pack out” on June 17. Everything we ship will arrive in Fort Worth around Sept. 1. I’m trying to anticipate what might be needed in the 6 weeks between our arrival on July 14, and the arrival of the shipping on Sept. 1. We’ll be carrying clothes for our Cambodia/Thailand trip and then our cruise, squeezed in between several days each in Barcelona and Athens. What kind of clothes might we need? Professional wear? What insurance paperwork etc., might we need? We can’t carry 4 or 5 suitcases each this summer. Some of it has to go to Texas now, but only stuff we won’t need here in Beijing. This isn’t easy!

Judy calls to let me know the tailor is coming tonight. It’s going to be fun to check out the finished product on our new Chinese style jackets. They turn out great. My jacket fits like a glove, as does the shirt. Judy’s clothes look great. This beats the heck out of driving to a store and changing in and out of clothes. I don’t if we’ll be able to find a traveling tailor. It’s kinda like our ayi, we better enjoy it while we’re here.

Wednesday night “foodie” trip, 5/6/15

Wednesday’s are always busy because the ayi come early. Sure enough, she comes in around 7:50. I made a run over to the wet market for fruits and vegetables. Next was a swim session. When I got back from swimming, she was almost finished. I worked on the computer till she left, then ate lunch.

After lunch, I was ready for a nap, but couldn’t afford the time today. I needed to make a Metro run. As I work my way through the store, I’m beginning to make decisions about quantities for staples like Kleenex, dish soap, laundry soap, etc. How many times will they be needed and used before we leave in June. The time is becoming shorter.

After Metro, I worked on our movers’ quotes, making a decision, and confirming a date. We’ll pack out on June 17 (Wednesday). We’ve decided not to spend the two full weeks after school at BISS ends until our cruise departure. We’re going to take another trip. We’re going to Siem Reap to tour Angkor Wat for several days, followed by some beach time in Thailand. Now that I have a confirmed “pack out” date, we can book flights and hotels.

It’s the Wednesday night “foodie” trip for some of faculty from my school. We’ve made plans for “Eatalia”. I take the subway over, meeting them around 5:00. The food is good. I’ve been out every night this week, but I don’t have too many occasions to see the group before the year finishes. There’s no telling when, or if, I’ll see any of them again after June.