Monday, May 27, 2002

Busy as a Bee - I love three day weekends. Even though I hardly had time to relax this weekend, I still prefer to be busy at home than to be bored at work. We accomplished a lot over Memorial Day weekend.

On Saturday, I spent most of the day painting the molding in the second bedroom (the baby's room) a bright, blue color according to Jenny's wishes. Without curtains, the moldings look too bright for the room. Luckily, Jenny's homemade curtains tone down the color to an acceptable level. Once again, the paint color did not turn out as we expected--it's much brighter than the color sample at Home Depot. Before painting, I always warn Jenny about two things: 1) The Ralph Lauren paint is over-priced and never matches the color sample. 2) Don't buy too much paint. Despite my repeated warnings, our garage cabinets are still full of unused or extra Ralph Lauren paint that Jenny either didn't like or bought in excess.

My cousin Lei-Lei from San Jose, her husband Johnson, and my newly-arrived-from-China 7th Aunt and Uncle on my father's side stopped by on Sunday for one of my patented 5-hour San Francisco tours. With Jenny staying behind at home, we visited Chinatown, Lombard Street, the Golden Gate Bridge, Cliff House and the Musee Mechanique (museum of arcade games) in that order. This is my aunt and uncle’s first trip to the US. They have a six month visa to stay in the US, so they will be able to help out Lei-Lei when she has her first baby in August. Lei-Lei is my aunt and uncle’s only daughter.

When Jenny and I went to China last year, my aunt and uncle were kind enough to take us out around Shanghai, where they live in a small two bedroom apartment on the campus of Fudan University. My Uncle is a Chemistry Professor and my Aunt is a chemist at a perfume factory. My 98-year-old Grandmother lives with them, and I saw her for the first time in nearly 20 years. Before we left Shanghai, I promised my Grandmother that I would return to see her and that I would bring back another great-grandchild, her fifteenth. I intend to keep that promise.

Jenny’s mother and father came with us for dinner that night at Oakland’s Restaurant Peony. Jenny’s father ordered, and we had a delicious Cantonese-style dinner with Orange Chicken, Scallops in Hot Sauce, Fish Stew, Roast Chicken, Braised Catfish, Lemongrass with Mushrooms, and Barbecued Pork with Skin. The conversation was lively, despite the fact that my aunt and uncle speak a different Chinese dialect than Jenny’s parents, and there was a loud wedding banquet going on at the same time in the room next to us.

Being from southern China, Jenny’s parents speak the Cantonese dialect while most of my relatives are from Shanghai (in the middle of the Chinese eastern seaboard) and speak Mandarin and Shanghaiese. To compound things further, my father’s family is from a village directly south of Shanghai called Xiaoshing, where they speak their own distinct dialect. My aunts and uncles would need to speak Mandarin at work, Shanghaiese among their local friends, and the Xiaoshing dialect with family members. All of these dialects sound very different from one another, so when I was a kid, I would hear my mother and father speak different dialects to their brothers and sisters and Mandarin to each other—it confused me greatly. Luckily for me, Jenny speaks both Cantonese and Mandarin fluently, which was invaluable during our trip to China last year.

On Monday, Jenny’s sister came over to visit Jenny and they had one of those sister-to-sister talks where the younger sister asks the older one for advice and approval concerning relationships. Earlier, Jenny’s mother stopped by to drop off a check for me to invest in a mutual fund that Jenny’s father will know nothing about. Shhh….

Later, Brett stopped by to chat and to have lunch at Vi’s with me when Jenny and her sister went out for a walk to talk some more. When we came back, Jenny’s sister had left and she had us move some furniture to her parents’ house in Brett's massive SUV. Afterwards, Brett and I talked about his business, but I can’t tell you what we discussed, because I promised Brett that I would keep it a secret. Shhh….


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