JingJing's Junket

Does the name make you curious?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Asia Night

Friday night, Scott and I joined some friends over @ Jerry's house for "Asia Night" where each person brought their favorite Asian dish for potluck and then we watched "Kung Fu Hustle". We had several Korean specialties including Bulgogi, alongside salmon sushi, pot stickers, fried dumplings and chicken curry. My contribution to the feast was homemade fortune cookies. I got the biggest kick out of coming up with the fortunes themselves. We have amazing friends. I am so glad to be a part of this.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

As Time Goes By....

Howard Ray Gregory
March 17, 1946-June 7, 2005

It has been 3 years. And rarely a day goes by that I don't think about you in some way or another. Our lives continue on...Jason got married. Jessica graduated college. You would have been so pleased! Even though we didn't talk very often, I always felt valued and cherished by you. It's funny how little regrets pop up here and there. If only I had called more often. If only I had gone to visit just one more time. I know those things are so far in the past and I can't change them. So many of those decisions were based on childish responses--deep seated fears and hurts that hadn't been allow to breathe or heal. I am so grateful for the time I had with you at the end. I think I finally started to see you not just as my father, but as my Dad. I became proud of you in a way I hadn't anticipated.

I can accept you are gone. The pain is there, but the sting has diminished. It doesn't smother me or paralyze me in a way it had. I was bitter for a while. And even now, I find myself angry. Angry because I feel robbed or denied having you in my life...presenting you with a grandchild...spending those hours talking about insignificant things--drinking bottomless cups of coffee into the evening. Laughing at silly jokes or stories you tell. I think I got my storytelling gene from you. It is one of my favorite things about me. It is a beautiful gift.
Thank you for that. I just wanted to tell you how much I love you and that you haven't been forgotten.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I got a couple of phone calls while at work tonight. One from my aunt and the other from my brother. Grandpa was put into a nursing home a little better than a month ago. The transfusions he has been receiving for the past couple of years no longer serve any purpose, as he has developed antibodies against the blood. He has lost significant weight, is anemic and is in a state of confusion since his brain is not getting the oxygen it needs.

Anyway....Jason visited with Grandpa yesterday and he was not his usual responsive self. The docs have convinced the family to call in hospice. My brother said that it was surreal how much he looks like my Dad just before he died. Aunt Clara and Jason have both assured me there is no reason to hurry up to Arkansas to see him, as he probably wouldn't recognize me...that perhaps my last living memories of him should be of our time together over Christmas.

I keep looking @ my phone, expecting a call at any moment to inform me of his death.

Please say a prayer for me. In a couple of weeks would have been my Dad's 62nd birthday. Its going on 3 years since he passed. The loss of my Dad is still a very tender, raw nerve--and this seems to re-open the wound wide and expose me to the elements. I recognize Grandpa has had a full 94 years...and yet--still.....well, you know.

I am grateful for our time in Texas so far...but when it comes to my familial relationships, the physical distance has in some ways created a chasm I resent. When I spoke to Jason tonight, he said he was going to sit with him tomorrow (Tuesday) and just "be"...even though he wasn't sure Grandpa was cognizant of his surroundings. I asked J to stroke his face, tell grandpa that I love him and wished I could be there to hug his neck. My fantasy is that Grandpa will feel warmth and love from his family even as he is transitioning from here to there.....and that thought gives me comfort.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


While in Memphis, I got the chance to spend some much needed time with my sisters Brittany and Tiffany. Tiffany lived with us in Waco...and comes to visit from time to time, but I hardly ever get an opportunity to chillax with Brittany. We enjoyed dinner together for my birthday and took a couple of hours to do some Christmas shopping. In fact, before we left town on Christmas day to head toward Nashville--Scott and I met Mom, Tippy, Brittany and Sapo for dinner @ a Chinese restaurant. It has become a Christmas tradition for us of sorts. Fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra......

Family Picture

As you are well aware, Scott and I have no children-but I am considering carrying this picture with me so I can show my "kids" to folks who ask. Do you think it will help me get better tips @ the restaurant? Anything is worth a try!

Too Too Cool

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Over the holiday, Scott and I got the chance to drive all over Arkansas and Tennessee catching up with family members we haven't seen in a while. One of our stops was to see Jason and my sister, Jessica. While there, we had the brilliant idea to have a family picture made....but unfortunately all the shops closed early on New Year's Eve. Instead, their point and shoot cameras had to do! Playing around with the lighting in Jason's new house and the settings on the nifty cameras....here are a few pictures we captured. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Or Reformation Day.....Depending on who you ask.

Here is a picture from our friend, Delayne's Costume party. Scott and I went as Abelard and Heloise--the happy, early years......

The baby is riding a little low. Yes, it is a boy.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Not too long ago, I was having a discussion with a friend about how I find myself in the most interesting of situations. We went back and forth for a few minutes and I finally came to the conclusion that it is because I am lucky.

At twilight, I was on the phone with my brother as I drove home along 190 coming from Killeen into Belton. If you can envision it, there is a pretty steep incline as you travel east. In the distance I noticed some smoke, but just figured it was from some overzealous folks trying to enjoy their fireplaces as the harvest moon was becoming full . As I got closer, I realized it was a car on fire. There were no flashing lights yet and as I approached there was only one other car pulling over. I quickly told him I would call him back...but before he would let me go, he told me to make sure I was parked far enough back in case the gas tank blew up and to not do anything stupid. (As if!!)

For a second, I thought about driving on by....surely someone had called 911 already... and that I would just be in the way....but I recognized that the vehicle was a mini van. Not to be dramatic here...but it just moved me to my core thinking that there might be kids caught in there.

As I ran up to the van, Everyone had gotten out before it had fully engulfed and I was right. Someone had called 911. After confirming folks were ok, I retreated to my car (about 50 yards back) and drove away before I could get caught in traffic. In my rear view mirror I saw the flashing lights coming toward us. I passed the spectacle and could finally feel the heat on my face-even thru all the glass, metal and distance. I suppose I didn't realize how hot it was while I was next to it.

After I caught my breath, I called my brother back. I asked him who we got this strange trait from......Since my mom is a nurse and I can't count how many times we would pull over on the side of the road to help folks hurt in accidents or her administering CPR to some poor chap who collapsed in Wal-Mart---I fully expected him to say "Mom". In fact, mostly I meant the question to be rhetorical. More of a statement than a question. What is it about us?

Jason surprised me when he said we got it from our Dad. In fact, I started to make a case for Mom. I just didn't see it. Jason then proceeded to tell me a few stories of times he spent with Dad before he got so sick. Stuff I had never heard before. I hung up the phone, kinda sobered from my earlier excitement.

I rode the rest of the way to Temple in the thickness of contemplative silence. I quietly made dinner and it wasn't til I sat down to eat that I told Scott what had happened. Somehow sharing that little piece of my dad with Jason made him seem very near and I didn't want to break that connection by speaking too quickly.

How do I attract these happenings??.....I still think it is because I am lucky.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bestest Brother Ever

If you know me at all, you will agree that I love my siblings. I am proud of each one of them in their own way. Being the oldest of five, I have either experienced first hand or watched from a distance the growth and development of Jason, Brittany, Tiffany and Jessica. I want to take a few moments to brag about Jason.

Jason joined the Navy right out of high school. Even he would say that he wasn't "college material". Throughout elementary, middle and high school, Jason struggled to stay out of trouble. He couldn't sit still and had a hard time paying attention. He was never malicious or disrespectful. He was (and still is!!) an intelligent child, but very rarely did this translate in the classroom. In fact, most of his teachers really liked him, he just drove them nuts. In hindsight, I recognize Jason's challenges were an ADHD type of issue that was never addressed properly.

After Navy basic training, Jason went to a school to be a meteorologist. But his passion--what he really loved, was spending his spare time as a volunteer firefighter in Pensacola, FL. I knew he loved the thrill of the chase and the personal satisfaction of serving his community. I thought the volunteer fire program was kinda firefighter lite, tho. I was glad he was staying busy and happy, but didn't understand how much risk was involved in what he did. He carried a radio with him, a prepared fire suit complete with boots ready in his trunk. If he heard dispatch call out a wreck, fire or other emergency within his area, Jason shot off like a rocket. In this geographical region, the paid city firefighters were only on call in the station from 6am til 6pm or so. In other words, these volunteers were taking the same full responsibility in the night time that paid folks took in the day. He had the same training and earned the same credentials as "real" firemen, but he did it on his own time. By the time Jason left Pensacola in late 2004, early 2005--he had attained the rank of Captain with the VFD. As a first responder, Jason has helped deliver a set of twins ("They were slippery little boogers!!"). He was on a volunteer fire and rescue squad when Hurricane Dennis came ashore and devastated the Gulf Coast just prior to Katrina. He called me the night the storm was supposed to hit...from a carpet warehouse in an evacuated zone so that the equipment would be ready the next morning to make necessary rescues and cut thru debris. I could hear the wind howling in the background. Rather than worring, I had peace, knowing he was where he wanted and needed to be. The Weather Channel did a "Storm Stories" piece about his unit on Innerarity Point in Escambia County.

Flash forward 3 years. Lots has happened. Jason left the Navy. He reenlisted with the Tennessee Air National Guard. Our father died. Jason married the beautiful nurse that cared for Daddy. He is now working as a paid firefighter for the small town of Bryant, Arkansas--But recently had an opportunity to apply with the City of Little Rock Fire Department. Out of 400 applicants, Jason ranked #14 and (pending his background check) is being offered a spot for the next round of hires in January. In addition, he has been approached by at least two other Department of Defense organizations looking for a firefighter/EMT with his credentials and certifications. I couldn't be more proud of Jason's accomplishments. He is one hell of a brother, husband, son and fireman. With this kind of success, who needs to be "college material"?