Foothills of Greatness

Today, we finally chose a picture to send into the Purdue Alumnus magazine (, hoping to show off our world travels.  This is what I submitted to them and the President’s Council this morning, which inspired me to share it here, and a few more pictures of our Sarangkot experience.


My friend, Susan, and I are so happy to send you this picture we took last month at Sarangkot, Pokhara, Nepal.  Susan and I met in 1989, both playing saxophone in the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band.  We have remained great friends over time and distance ever since.  After graduating from Purdue in 1993, Susan spent more than 2 years in Nepal with the Peace Corps.  This year, she planned an amazing trip to see the country again, visit friends and host families, and experience a homecoming of sorts.  Since 2010, I have been living in Shenyang, China, so when I heard about Susan’s trip, I invited myself along.  We met in Kathmandu and later visited Pokhara, where this picture was taken.  We awoke at 4am that morning to make the trip to Sarangkot and watch the sun rise over the Annapurna range.  It was our distinct pleasure to show Purdue Pride in the foothills of greatness.  ***

The Big One

Last year, I started to get emails from a wonderful woman named Suzie.  She had lots of questions about getting her cat here and I was happy to help.  Her husband would be in Shenyang on a contract with an aviation firm.  Once Suzie moved here, we became friends.  We watched each others’ cats.  We talked and shared.  I got to know her children.  Then the contract ended after only 9 months and they were faced with a lot of decisions.  Such is the life of an expat.

One of those big decisions was about their cat, Humphrey.  Her husband had a line on a job in England, but it was another short-term contract.  She was torn about moving her 11-year old furry son to China for 9 months, then England for 6 months, then who knows where?  After much anxiety, Suzie popped the question.  She asked if we would be willing to take care of Humphrey for those 6 months, or 9 months, or longer, depending on their situation.  I said yes, then I asked Tim what he thought.  Then details, details, details, and Humphrey came to stay with us for a transitional period to see how it went.  He’s still here.

There was hissing.  Our 7 pound, 13 year old Daisy wasn’t too happy about waiting such a long time be the Alpha, then have a big ole British Blue move in on her territory.  The 10 pound, 12 year old Bandit just wanted to be sure the thing wasn’t going to eat his tuna.  And the much bigger, 11 year old Humphrey had never lived with other pets before.  So there was more hissing.

It’s been a couple of months now.  Daisy still doesn’t like him, and Humphrey isn’t sure what to make of her.  But he and Bandit are buddies.  The “wake the humans up at 5 in the morning, eat some tuna then go to sleep” buddies.  Suzie was true to her word when she said Humphrey prefers women.  Tim might get to pet him once a day.  But he loves me, even takes a shift sleeping under the covers when we go to bed.  Cutie.

So why “The Big One”?  Our other two cats, Daisy and Bandit, have names that can be translated.  Chújú (雏菊) and Tǔfěi (土匪) were the names given to them by our driver, Pan.  So what do we do with a given name like Humphrey?  It was difficult for him to pronounce and he didn’t understand.  So we decided on Da de, big one.  And the name fits.

Welcome to The Next Adventure, Humphrey!