Monday, October 29

weekend in Denver

Enjoyed some free time this weekend in downtown Denver.
We got to experience some of the excitement of the first home game for the Rockies of the World Series. We were this close! Unfortunately, the Rockies didn't win a game.
And then we had a great day yesterday at Castlewood Canyon. It was a beautiful day!

Monday, October 22

i can't get enough of...

snow! You might have noticed this before. I have a love relationship with snow. I went for a walk today even though the snow is melting into slushy rivers on the dirt roads. It was nicer in the fields under the tall pine trees where we made deep footprints and didn't have to deal with the mud. It'll be gone soon, so we had to enjoy it today! Tonight I think a few of us have made a date to go out and enjoy the awesome Colorado stars.

Sunday, October 21

snow in Colorado

I drove in to Colorado yesterday and stayed with my next door neighbor from my freshman year in the dorm at ACU (which was a long time ago, and we haven't really seen each other since) and her husband. It was fun to catch up with them. They warned me that it was going to get cold today and possibly snow and it did! It's supposed to be back in the 70's later this week, but I am happy to experience some cold weather for a change.

So, this is where I am now. At a nice little spot near Colorado Springs.
I spent a few relaxing and re-filling days in Kansas City with a friend I know from China. So glad that worked out. It was good to have someone who's been where I've been and who I relate well to. I drove the nine hours across Kansas into Colorado yesterday and went through Abilene, Kansas. Not that anyone will care about that, but I've always heard that's the place my hometown is named for, so I set foot in it, got this picture, and then drove away.

Saturday, October 13

pumpkins and letters

By some standards, it's fall here. The temperature has stayed below 90 for the last few days. Evenings and mornings are getting cool. The church down the road has their pumpkin patch. I stopped today to get a few pictures.
Young families were out taking pictures of their cute kids, some in costume.
I got to two of my favorite Austin eating establishments this week: Hula Hut with my first two Korean tutors who I met more than four years ago and Kerbey Lane for an early breakfast with my cousin. One of the special pancakes at Kerbey Lane was pumpkin, so my cousin and I shared those and the green chile, chicken, sour cream omelet. There's such good food to be had in Austin!

Almost two days of the week has been spent reducing my number of boxes of stuff, mostly stored in my Grandma's shed. It's interesting to go through the stuff that I thought was worth keeping four years ago. About half of it I decided was not worth the space to keep it, even though the space is free. In four more years, I might look at the stuff I kept and wonder what I was thinking.

While I was going through the stuff, I ran across a bunch of old letters and journals. I'm not throwing those away yet. I didn't let myself read many of them, but the ones I did look at are so great. Reminding me of friendships, many of which are not as close as they used to be, but so great to look back on. As I took a long walk through the beautiful old neighborhood my Grandma lives in tonight, I was thankful for all the people who have made my life what it is. People who have taught me, who I have taught, who were and are close. I'm blessed to have been formed by wonderful communities along the way.

I'm leaving Austin Monday morning for a weeklong trip up to Colorado, seeing family and friends along the way, and then a two week long stay in Colorado. I'll be back to Texas after that.

Monday, October 8

in Austin

I'm in Austin now, visiting my other grandmother, my cousin, and my home fellowship. I spent Friday and most of Saturday with my cousin in North Austin where she lives in an apartment complex that is almost resort-like. A nice pool (it's been hot here), free breakfast on the first Saturday of the month, shuffleboard table, and a little gym. I guess all that is not so uncommon, but I was still impressed.

I hear that Yanji is getting cool - that it's almost time to start wearing long johns underneath clothes. They just finished their October holiday, which doesn't make me jealous, since I'm on a long holiday myself, but I did miss the annual harvest volunteer trip, where students and teachers go out to a nearby farm to spend the day cutting rice, corn, or soybeans. I missed seeing the new freshmen going through military training before the fall semester starts and seeing their impossibly wide eyes when their first foreign teacher walks into the room of their English conversation class.

I'm not ready to go back yet. I've still got a lot left to do here in the States and I'm looking forward to spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with family. I don't feel so out of place here, but there are still moments when I find myself in a little of a surreal atmosphere. One of those, strangely enough, is in bathrooms that provide toilet seat covers. I am now used to public restrooms providing toilet paper, but providing seat covers too? Wow.

I was also a little shocked on Saturday while out to celebrate my younger cousin's birthday with her family and my grandmother. I thought we were in a relatively normal restaurant. It was packed with people, but most of the entrees were at least 20 dollars! I found myself looking around at all the people there - they looked normal. I couldn't believe all those people were paying such prices.

Anyhow, life here is good. I'm enjoying it while also missing being in China.