Letter 7 (page 1)

12 December 1996

Dear .................................,

News

You may have noticed that we have moved. I have been threatening this for most of the year and it finally happened when the landlord came back to Denver and he selfishly wanted his townhouse back. At that time, Lan had received a job offer but we did not know exactly where her new office would be and so we picked an area that was on the bus route for me and between the city and the other office area where it was likely she would go. Our mail is being forwarded from the old place.

The apartment owners are an elderly couple who spend the warm half of the year in Colorado and winter in Arizona which means we have to be out by the end of May. They have never been landlords before and were not really sure how to go about it. The man is 80 and was happy to do business with just a handshake and no written lease agreement! (His wife wasn't so sure about this arrangement.) We convinced them that they must have something in writing and showed them what to do. The lease they drew up using a standard legal form failed to mention that the apartment is furnished so we had to make sure all the furniture was documented. At least they will know for next time.

What little furniture we have is in the garage (all of ours folds or disassembles making it easy to move). All the furniture here is big and bulky and there seems to be so much of it that it is hard to move around. We are opposite a park with a view west to the mountains. There is a spare king-sized bed if you are coming over. (It is a mystery to us why they have a king-sized bed as neither are bigger than Lan and they sleep in separate beds!)

There has been tremendous upheaval at my work. As a result of a cash-flow crisis, the owner sold the company with the final legal work transferring ownership on a Friday. The following Wednesday afternoon, the new owner closed the factory taking effect immediately so all the men had no notice of losing their jobs. Work in progress and future jobs will be handled at the company’s facility in another state but engineering will be kept in Denver (so my job is safe if that continues to be true).

What really upset people is that the ex-owner got us all together about a month before and told us how promising the future looked. He talked about the expanding market, the orders already booked, a bad project that was behind us and that there was a French company looking at buying the whole company. In his opinion, a takeover by the French company was the best possible outcome as their resources and complimentary product line would catapult us to bigger and better things. Making matters worse was that the ex-owner and his wife are outwardly "Christian". There is a fish-sticker on the back of his Lexus (an issue in itself) and he is a member of Promise Keepers, a huge group of "Christian" men who vow to be better husbands and fathers (but apparently not employers). About 2 months ago, there were 40 people working at our company. There was a layoff after we lost a project which took us down to 28 and now there are just 10, plus a 16 year-old who comes in for a few hours after school.

Thanksgiving is the last Thursday in November and it is national holiday. Traditionally it was a time to give thanks for the harvest which had just been brought in but the holiday has little religious meaning now. We had thought about going somewhere for 4 days but cold weather was predicted so we decided to stay at home. On Wednesday night, someone at Lan’s work invited us over to their friends' house for Thanksgiving lunch. We were reluctant about accepting but Lan’s friend did confirm it was OK. It turned out that the man is American and the wife is Japanese and they have lots of friends over every year, even if they don't know them yet. The twist was that they were all Japanese so most of the conversation was beyond us. It was fun though and we had traditional American food rather than sushi and seaweed.

I have new competition for Lan’s attention now. You may recall that Lan started learning piano before we left but her sore shoulder prevented her from playing towards the end. She has now been pianoless for two full years and is so happy to have another to practice on. She has quickly returned to the point where she was and is now learning new material.

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