Saturday, August 28, 2010

The End of Summer

In mid August I drove to southern Indiana, Bloomington to be precise.  The internet group I belong to, affectionately dubbed by one member's son as the Internet Ax Murderers' Dating Club, was assembling for the weekend at the home of Julie and Lee for a reunion of "family" members.  There are close to thirty of us and ten were able to make the trip.

Southern Indiana in August is as close to hell as I ever want to get.  The temperature was in the upper 90's as was the humidity.  Walking outdoors felt like slogging through knee-deep water.  For nearly three days multiple animated conversations were carried on simultaneously.  Even eating didn't silence the crowd.

Julie's and Lee's home is surrounded by plants that attract butterflies, and those of us with cameras took countless snapshots of the colorful creatures.

In July, Ohio got hot and stayed hot.  This grandma poo-pooed any outdoor day  trips with Brandon and Sophia.  But activities did pick up in late August.  

Although he was QB last year, Brandon has grown and his weight made him ineligible to play that position this year.  But he's quite happy to be out of the limelight and finally be one of those who tackles instead of being the one sacked. 
Brandon said he wanted to play in the rain.....

The annual Kickoff Classic was held last Saturday.  Teams were paired and scrimmaged with ten offensive and ten defensive plays for each. Parents and grandparents sat in the bleachers, one eye on the field, the other on the sky.  Rain, long needed, was going to arrive shortly.  Initial drops soon turned to a shower and eventually a deluge was upon us, one whose intensity became more and more forceful.  Dawn and I laughed as rain was driven through our umbrellas and runoff from the umbrellas found its way down our backs and into our slacks.  The Classic was halted after Brandon's scrimmage, perhaps because spectators who had been in the stands were now sitting in their cars, leaving only a handful to watch and cheer the boys on.

Many schools were back in session last week; however ours begins a week later.  The heat of the past several days finally moderated and was ideal for doing things away from the condo. On Tuesday we went to Canton's McKinley Monument and the Museum.  It was my plan to look at the Monument and then tour the Museum.  Brandon and Sophia were more interested in repeatedly running up the steps to the Monument and sliding down the granite side rail.  Eventually we went into the Museum for some history.

Weather on Wednesday was a repeat of Tuesday's.  Dawn called to ask if I wanted to visit the Akron Zoo.  This is something we've done with the kids each year just before school begins.  The exhibits continue to be expanded and improved and the zoo is clean and easy to navigate.  It's a nice size and everything can be seen in a half day.

No pictures for Friday's activities.  I promised a movie (something where I could sit and they wouldn't be bored) and they agreed on Vampires Suck.  Yeah, a winner.  It's a spoof of Twilight so most enjoyed by those folks (teens, I presume) who'd seen it.  Fortunately both Brandon and Sophia seemed interested, and neither expressed a desire to leave before the movie ended.

With Dawn's and Matt's divorce about to be finalized, both kids have been assigned tasks to help with household needs. Therefore, after the movie, Brandon asked if they could go home so he could get a head start on his Saturday chores.

Once both finished their work, Brandon fell onto the couch to rest.  Dawn asked if they wanted a surprise.  She had decided it was time to show them the house they will be moving to.  Brandon replied that he did, but would like to rest first.  Sophia said she'd like a surprise, too, but not if it involved more work.  Dawn reassured them that Brandon could continue to relax and Sophia would have no more work to do.  So into the cars we got, Sophia with me, Brandon with Dawn.

I stopped next to Dawn's vehicle in the driveway, and we could hear Brandon's excited voice and see the grin on his face.

"Sophia, this is our new house!!!" he exclaimed as he jumped out of the car.  And quickly Sophia was out of mine as they ran into and then out of the garage, not knowing what to examine first.  The house is next to one of the community parks, and Sophia ran to walking track along the property line and laughing, declared to two woman passing, "I live here!!""  And then she ran back to the yard and Dawn took them into the house.

Brandon saw boxes in the family room and thought they had yet to be removed by the previous owner.  But Sophia spied some of her things in them and Brandon saw family pictures in Dawn's office.  Then he began to believe.  With the realization that the house was really theirs, Brandon and Sophia quickly headed up the stairs to see the second level -- through the living and dining rooms, out on the deck, back inside, through the kitchen and then back to the living room.  Sophia did a cartwheel and Brandon tried as well.  When I left, they were deciding which bedroom each would have.  Both wanted to go home to begin moving their belongings.  The real move will be in two or three weeks, but it looks like hours will be spent there in anticipation and preparation for what lies ahead.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Woosh -- the Sound of Summer Whizzing Past

Long time, no post.  The past few months have been chaotic, if not physically, at least mentally.

Part of the delay is that Dawn and Matt are divorcing. There have been a number of rocky months and there was no resolution to their issues.  Both are ready to move on separately.  Like building a house, early on settlement issues were agreed to quickly.  Now, they are down to finer details, and decisions are contemplated with more thought.   Still, neither wants the divorce proceedings to drag on.  Fortunately Brandon and Sophia have adjusted to the idea of living with Mom “here”, wherever that will be, and visiting frequently with Dad “there”, where rooms for them all have been added at the home where Nana and Pap live.  Dawn hopes to keep Brandon and Sophia in their current school district, so while the neighborhood may change, there will still be familiar things around them.

Brandon took a golf class early in the spring and Matt said it really helped his golf game. Unfortunately the turmoil of separating and establishing separate residences has made father/son golf outings infrequent. Still, Brandon entertains himself with golf ball challenges.

Sophia’s continued her twice-weekly sessions in gymnastics. In late June the girls, from pre-schooler to high school, had an exhibition to share what they'd learned in the prior months. Sophia’s continuing her classes through the summer and may move to a higher class in the fall. She’s still a wee little thing and cute as a bug’s ear!

Dawn’s scouting for a second job to supplement her interior design income. Those openings that are available require someone who will work evenings and/or weekend hours. She doesn’t mind part-time, but needs a schedule that would allow her to be home with the kids at night. So, she continues filling out applications and hopes that something for which she’s qualified becomes available. In the meantime, now that their house is ready to show and been listed for sale, she has more time to work with established clients as well as seek new ones.

Brett’s still busy in Shanghai. He finally has an apartment (two-bedroom!). He gave me a tour via Skype the other day. Furnishings are Spartan but the unit is perfect for someone who travels a lot and spends many hours at the office. He has a flat screen TV and has had “Slingbox” software added to his laptop so he can watch TV programs aired in San Francisco!  He and Michelle manage to be in the same place -- home in San Rafael or the apartment in Shanghai -- about every eight weeks.

It was the tentative plan that I would go to Shanghai in mid September and stay for about three weeks. Brett thought he’d be in the States to have meetings at the Company’s office in Los Angeles and then he, Michelle and I would fly back to Shanghai together. In the last few days he’s had meetings in Abu Dhabi (on the toe of the Arabian Peninsula) and in the next few weeks he’ll be moving his base of operation there. He anticipates 80% of his time will be spent working on current Corporate programs there and 20% in Shanghai trying to tie down contracts with Asian companies. My trip??? It’ll happen eventually, but I don’t know whether it will be to Shanghai or Abu Dhabi.

 We’re just completing Hall of Fame Week here. One of the most attended events is the balloon fest. Generally after they lift off, the hot air balloons float east or south. This year the breezes carried them west and many floated over the condo complex both Friday evening and again Saturday morning.  What a treat!!