Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Land of Milk and Honey

We head out of China and home to Michigan twice a year.  FORD grants the Big Guy ‘home leave,' for 10 days to refresh and renew and not lose touch. So we book a flight well in advance and start planning.

Since we chose to keep our Michigan home during our three year assignment in China we maintain two homesteads. I'm sure you are not surprised that both are very different.

A community with tree-lined streets, big box stores, franchises, a few Mom and Pop places, neighborhood schools and places of worship surround our USA suburban ranch-style home. It's very comfortable there with a population of 100,000 living within 36 square miles/58 kilometers.

In China we rent a 6-level (I wish I was kidding) town home in an affluent gated community. That Nanjing home is just outside a vibrant urban sprawl & the activity of close to 7 million people.  We partake in an urban lifestyle that is markedly different than either one of us have experienced.  Taxis, scooters, street people, unusual smells and total traffic craziness is part of our everyday existence there. 

We literally have our feet planted and our toothbrushes perched in two opposing life experiences on two very diverse continents. Such a privilege.

Several of our Nanjing ex-pat friends sold or rented their homes before moving to China.
Therefore their home leave does not necessarily find them back in the
town they left.  Our choice of keeping our Michigan home has kept us feeling quite connected there. Luckily, our adult son returned from Arizona to become the caretaker of our largest tangible asset and it’s 27 years of memories. So we come home to a very familiar place.   We are fortunate.

Top 25 Things I've appreciated during this USA visit

  • Family
  • Friends and Neighbors
  • Church
  • Independence
  • Blue skies
  • White puffy clouds
  • Sunshine
  • Fragrant pine woods
  • Lake Superior
  • Breathtaking beauty of both Michigan and California
  • Mackinac Bridge
  • Mexican Restaurants
  • Target-Home Depot-Fabric stores
  • Hugs
  • Beef
  • Grocery Stores
  • Chicken Tawook & Hummus
  • Thunderstorms
  • Current TV shows
  • Clean public places and restrooms
  • Being understood the first time I speak
  • Uncensored emails and text messages
  • Speedy internet
  • Large capacity washer and dryer and so forth and so on…

Things I Miss About China

  • The Big Guy
  • Ex-pat friends and their wee ones
  • Our dog Casey Marie
  • Learning more about Chinese culture and its people
  • Our Mandarin Lessons and our instructor
  • Clean floors & bathrooms without expending my energy
  • Super fresh produce at unbelievable prices
  • Warm hellos from Chinese friends and co-workers
  • and Yes, some of the local cuisine

While out and about this USA trip and driving or walking from place to place, I kept saying out loud to whoever would listen: "Drink it in!  Drink it in!"

Immediately I/we would look up, breathe deep and be "present" in that moment with our feet planted on US soil and the rich cool smell of clean air. We are grateful.

Like you have been told throughout your life...

Our Grand Niece and Nephew

"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till its gone?"

Thankfully, "it" is not gone. The appreciation of home and life and those we
love on two continents is tangible and accessible.  This reality fills us up and
wells over on to the green grass and clear streams in the USA.  We are proud.

It has been a great home leave and I get to stay awhile longer and "Drink it in,
Drink it in." right here in the Land of Milk and Honey.

Let me be clear: Our non permanent privileged life in China ain't so bad either.

A few days after the Big Guy returned to Nanjing following a harrowing 48-hour escapade to get back to China I asked for a report on how he was really feeling.

He paused a moment and said, "Well you know, Carol, this is HOME, too."

And he is so right... 


Thanks for Reading,


A Few Highlights from our Home Leave                                < photos-AJD-RCJ-CEJ >

At the Getty Center in Los Angeles with Allison and Josh & the Original Monet's "Irises"
Great Aunt Carol and our Little Niece with her signature bow on Lake Superior
Mike and Laura

Sandy and Jim
The Big Guy playing Pin the Tail on the Moose...

...Trailing a Moose is not Easy in the Hiawatha Forest...

...with a Blindfold on...

Thank goodness our nephew Brad was there!
Round Lake Round-Up - 2012


Aitha1 said...

Carol, that was such a lovely commentary. Needless to say, I'm choked up and teary-eyed. What wonderful memories you are creating! Thank you for sharing them!

Glee said...

One of the best things you could possibly get is the reinforcement to live in the moment! Thanks for reminding me....and to be grateful!


Allison Joy said...

So glad we were a stop on your "remember how wonderful life is" trip. Thanks for sharing! Next time, we're coming to Round Lake. No bones about it. :)

Lois said...

Hi Carol I am your stalker from Wichita,ks your comments help me understand a little of what our three grandchildren are enjoying everyday.
It has been nine days since we held them in our arms and gave them one last squeeze as they boarded that plane for a short flight to Chicago and non stop flight to China their new home for the past six months. While in Wichita July 14-29 they allowed us every minute of fourteen days to be with our Grandchildren.
Their dog did great gained weight but maybe he hasn't gotten the walks Mahala faithfully gives him daily but they missed their Irish Wheaton Terrier. Their home had lost power and the sump pump failed so they did have water damage in the basement. That has been corrected and as of this morning via Skype all is getting back to normal.
Sorry this is lengthy I told Myla I had really enjoyed your blog she said you had met. So excited to have found your blog it has been awhile that I checked. Your time home sounds wonderful In America good to give perspective. Our children looked so good and healthy very happy to see they seem to be thriving.