family

Back in Beijing

I’ve been really lucky. Since I moved to Beijing in October 2012, I have been back and forth to the U.S. three times. Late last night, actually early this morning, I got back to Beijing from my trip to see my family in Michigan. I bought round-trip tickets for my first couple of trips, so I was starting out each trip as technically a return leg of the previous trip. That was getting confusing, so I finally bought a one-way ticket. Now my return leg was finally to Beijing. So, yeah, I’m back in Beijing.

My trip coincided with the beginning of Tulip Time in my home town Holland, Michigan. I didn’t see any of the parades, but the weather was lovely and there were tulips everywhere.

Grandma Dorothy Hatch with all of her children: David, Nancy, Mary and Eileen (photo by Stephen Jenkins via facebook)I visited with my parents and both of my grandmas. It was great to have them all to myself, without the hoopla of a holiday or big family gathering. This was especially true for my visit with my Grandma Hatch. I think this was probably the first time that she and I spent time alone. She is really frustrated with her failing eye sight, because it means that she can’t do all of the knitting and crocheting that she would like. She was telling me how she just doesn’t watch soap operas and hasn’t ever been much of a reader — “I’m crafty,” she said.

She has always produced tons of crocheted ornaments, dish clothes, and things. We went through her box of patterns and we kept running across all of her old favorites. I get the idea that she can’t manage most of these anymore. She said she can still do little crocheted scrubbies for washing dishes, but they’re pretty boring. She showed me a knitting pattern she recently gave up on because it was just too small for her to see. She tried different sizes of needles and different color yarn, but nothing helped. I hope she finds something else.

She also spent time telling me about her grandfather and her father in Hart, Michigan. I really have only heard bits and pieces of her family story, and I was a little embarrassed about revealing my ignorance. When I asked her if she remembered seeing her grandfather at the thrasher, she looked up from the photo she was showing me a little startled and said, “Oh, I took the picture!” Ha. The sepia photos make it look so far away.

I learned about her “two-week vacation from school” to help pull potatoes from the ground. And her grandfather coming to America from the Netherlands at 18 years old. Growing his farm to 80 acres. Converting it to cherries. Giving it up to homestead a smaller plot of land with his brother. Her father with 40 acres. And, yes, maybe the land is still in the family — a cousin or something.

Anyway, she gave me a couple of crochet patterns to try. I hope I can complete a project and show her by the time I get back to Michigan again.

Not in China

I’m not actually in China right now. I’m visiting the U.S., but I’m returning to Kunming next week. I can’t wait! Being home has been great, but I really miss Jeremy and my life back in China.

Staying with my parents now in Holland, Michigan. Over the last week, we’ve been helping my grandparents move into a retirement community here. It’s been a stressful experience, especially for grandma and grandpa.

Mary Jenkins

There are still quite a few boxes to unpack.

Paul Jenkins

But things are beginning to settle.

Last night I had dinner with two friends from elementary school, Brooke and Jeremy. That was pretty weird, but nice to see them both grown up. I imagine if we were ever to live in the same city again, I would end up hanging out with them. So we did the normal catch up talking all evening, but before the end of the night, I idiotically lost my mother’s keys and cell phone. They were safely recovered this morning. What a moron, eh?

Anyway, can’t wait to get home.

Ease on Down

I have a new niece! But because certain family members are paranoid about stalkers, I can’t release anymore information about her existence. Anyway, I’m very excited and I hope the mom recovers soon.

thewiz.jpgI watched the 1978 vintage classic The Wiz last night. There was a lot more singing than I remember and a lot less story. And a lot of references I didn’t get last time — the (Jim) Crows, taxis that don’t stop for you, New York stuff. And wow is Michael Jackson ever awesome as the scarecrow.

It really is a miracle that kind of quality entertainment is available for less than 1USD on the streets of Kunming, China. Who knew?