Friday, April 16, 2010

Moving on.......

What a glorious spring it is!  The heavy rains with the accompanying wind have not arrived.  Yet.  Oh, they will, but hopefully all the trees in bloom will have leafed out and the daffodils, hyacinths and tulips will be past flowering.  That means there are about twelve hours remaining before the rain arrives and temperature, currently in the upper 70's plummets to the 40's.  We even have the possibility of snow flurries in tomorrow's forecast.  

Brett returned to the US from China in mid-March.  He spent his time here putting together several proposals for projects in China.  He understands the Chinese way of doing business -- it's wait followed by more wait, until ----go---->.  There may be no signed contract, but when the client is ready to proceed, the service provider had better be ready to jump in with both feet.  Yes, Brett understands the practice; his employer is a little slower to accept the concept. 

Brett and Michelle both have laptops with web cams and recently subscribed to Skype.  Using that service certainly has reduced their use of cell phone minutes.  Dawn and I now are equipped for these "looking at you" conversations and it's fun to see the person you're talking to.

Brett's returned to China last weekend.  He has a 30-day visa.  That requires him to leave the country after 30 days.  So he goes to Hong Kong for a few days!  Then it's back to Shanghai.   He finally has an office so he doesn't have to conduct business from the table in his hotel room.  Now he's received the go-ahead to find an apartment.  Once a lease is signed and he has a place to call home, I'll begin thinking about a trip to visit.

Brett and Dawn talked yesterday via Skype before Brandon and Sophia went to school.  Brett shared some information with her and then asked that she tell me.  She said, "Uh, okay.  I'll have to do it today before the kids tell her or Matt tells his mom who will then comment [via e-mail] to Mom about the news."  He said, "Never mind.  I'm a grown-up.  I'll tell her."  So this is the e-mail I received before leaving to work at the hospital:

Before you hear it from Brandon or Sophia or through the grapevine I thought I would prepare you myself.  Sorry it's via email.
Things with Michelle are going great.  I think we will be growing old together.  So that's not the problem.
I enjoy China and the chance at building something from scratch.  So that's not the problem.
I'm still pretty healthy....for a guy turning 40.  So that's not the problem.
Nikki and Lulu are dogs....they sometimes (more often than not) get to sleep in our bed.  So that's really not the problem either.
Let's see.........
I think I'm about out of options to postpone what it is I have to tell you.......
You knew I was thinking of selling the Taurus [vehicle].......
Well....I did [before returning to China last week].  I don't know why.  I think I got tired of jockeying around it.  Although she was always good to me.
Well it kinda looks like this...

I did question the lack of helmet and he responded:

I bought two of the best helmets available. I took it off for the pic.
I also bought us very good "leather" for further protection.
It is a Ducati. Italian for Holy Shit!
It is one of the most desired bikes on the planet. It at least has resale value!
It is a gas powered crotch rocket as you put it. But of the classy type.
Thank you for understanding.

Finally, I said that I hoped he'd ride smart--no crazy stuff.  And he replied:

I'm 40 - no more crazy shit!

So besides the humor in the conversation, I was surprised (and pleased) that he "sweated" telling me!  Dawn said he was afraid I'd chew him up and spit him out, since I'm not an advocate of bikes.  In their situation, however, I saw the upside.  The second car was in the way and more of a nuisance than an asset.  But it's comforting to know he still values my opinion, although (obviously) the final decisions are his!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring's on the Horizon

It's been several weeks since Park Place has been updated. There's only so much that can be said about winter, and I said it all -- and provided pictures!  That February record snowfall just about did us all in.  By early March we just wanted it to be over.

Neighbor Sherry lamented the fact that the area schools don't share the same week for spring break.  Sophia and Brandon were out this week; her grandchildren are out next week.  It's doubtful they'll be here at the same time until summer break.  Four unhappy kids and at least one disgruntled grandmother!

On Monday Brandon, Sophia and I headed out early.  First stop:  A desperately needed haircut for Brandon.  I'd repeatedly offered to put in barrettes to hold the hair out of his eyes.  He chose the more logical option:  a proper clipping at the local salon.  Eyes.  I could see his eyes again!  Then we drove to the mall.  Sophia wanted to have her picture taken with the Easter bunny.  I was surprised, but very pleased, when Brandon consented to stand beside the bunny.  Got a superb snapshot of them on the first try.

Sophia gave her little bike to Brandon last summer so he could do tricks on it.  Unfortunately, that left her without a bike, so our next stop was to get a new one for her.  Sophia's still inches shorter than many classmates, so this 20" bike should be suitable for several seasons.

Last month Sophia began attending gymnastics classes twice a week.  What an amazing program!  Visitation was allowed Monday evening, and Sophia asked me to come watch. The session started with 45 minutes of "floor work".  Eleven girls, probably ages 4 through 8, did stretching and strengthening exercises followed by tumbling.  Sophia's mastered the cartwheel and impressed me with her tumbling.  The last 45 minutes the girls walked the balance beam and tried to do pirouettes, were helped to swing and dismount from the uneven parallel bars and finally, ran and jumped on the springboard for the vault.  I was amazed that there was no horsing around.  The instructors expect the girls' best efforts and are generous with praise and encouragement.  Some have talent; some don't.  But they all try. 

The weather has been beautiful the last few days.  In February we set records for snowfall.  Yesterday and today we set records for high temperatures - over 80F both days.  Daffodils are blooming!  After I walked this morning, I decided the day was perfect for cleaning out the garage.  (Why does the first half of such a job always go more quickly than the second half?)  I was done by noon -- vacuumed under everything that was movable, got the cobwebs off the ceiling and packaged up to give away toys the kids no longer pay with.  The next project will be to vacuum blinds and wash windows.  Then I'll wash and hang screens.  Maybe next weekend if it's not snowing.