Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Short Weekend in Petoskey

We always stay at the wonderful Terrace Inn where we trade yard art for free Sunday night stays. Patty is just the coolest innkeeper we've ever met, and she works harder keeping this Victorian treasure clean and tidy than any of the hired help. Every room has its own unique antique quaintness.

We love this area, bordered by Little Traverse Bay, because of all the wonderful hiking and biking trails. On this visit we discovered two parks we had never before visited---the Bear River Trail system right in Petoskey and the Thorne Smith Nature Preserve north of Harbor Springs, just past the Tunnel of Trees. Below John is looking out over a misty magical pond and wetland in that preserve and I am posing alongside a beautiful piece of driftwood with the Bay in the background. After leaving the preserve we continued north to Cross Village where we caught the sunset. All in all, a fantastic time complemented by perfect weather.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

12 Year Update: My Calvin Seminary Story

Here I document just one egregious episode in the administration’s long effort to rid itself of me. It is nothing short of a sexist smear. President Neal Plantinga, ignoring measurable results of my performance, drew on an old formula for ruining a woman’s career: accuse her of being hysterical. I had been called to a meeting with him and VP Duane Kelderman. According to him I was asked a straightforward question: 

            “What followed, without pause, was a tirade—a stream of accusations

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

14th Anniversary!

This morning John woke me up with a Happy Anniversary! Then he said: it's been mostly bliss, and not even waiting for a correction said, it's been incredible bliss. Well, if you count a lot of nattering back and forth, sure, it's been incredible bliss. Neither of us would have it any other way. This picture shows just the two of us, but John's two dearly departed wives, Ruth Ann and Myra Jean (as he always refers to them), are very much a part of our lives.

After closing up at the shop this afternoon we visited Meijer Gardens and shared a Reuben sandwich, the best either of us had ever eaten, then walked the grounds for an hour in the blazing heat. Below is John holding up the hoof of daVinci's Horse and gazing through the trees at Aria---also another lovely sculpture as seen through the trees.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Valerie's Wedding---and more

Yesterday was cousin Valerie Stellrecht's big day. She was a missionary for nearly 4 decades and now retired at 67, she has found Terry, the man of her dreams. It was a delight to be at the ceremony in Shell Lake, WI, only a dozen miles from the farms where we grew up. And what fun it was to meet so many people from my childhood, including Valerie's siblings, Don (Delores) and Jane, my best neighborhood buddy growing up. Also renewing old times with Janice and Russell Row, Linda, Janet, Lorraine, Melva, Wilma and others. It was truly a grand time. We spent the night at our favorite motel in Spooner, got up early and headed north, spending some time in the much heralded Minnesota port city of Duluth where we strolled the Lake Walk, then on to Amnicon Falls State Park, and finally to beautiful village of Bayfield where we are spending the night in a motel with a view of Lake Superior.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Fayette Historical State Park

As we drove across the UP of Michigan---destination Spooner WI---we stopped at this wonderful state park where the history of the 19th-century town of Fayette is preserved (with the help of Eastern Michigan University). For 24 years it was one of the country's leading charcoal production centers, some of the furnaces still intact. There was a whole village surrounding the "factory," most of the houses gone except for the superintendent's luxury home and various other buildings necessary to support a village. It's located on the Garden Penninsula overlooking Big Bay Du Noc on Lake Michigan. We found a nice spot to have lunch and then strolled around the grounds.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Zach's Senior Photo

Senior class photos sure aren't what they used to be. Even when son Carlton graduated in 1992, a sport coat, shirt and tie were the standard. Here is our grandson Zach looking totally casual, which is the way it ought to be. He looks like himself, not like a perfectly posed stuffed shirt. No one told him to lift his chin and turn his head to the left while keeping his shoulders straight. Enough of that old last-century professional photographer style!

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Sunday Drive

You know people are getting really old when their best entertainment is a Sunday Drive! (Actually I should be back to hiking and biking soon; my last (hopefully) kidney stone surgery is scheduled today at 2:15 pm. Late next week I should be stent-free. YEA!) The Sunday drive did give me an opportunity for some interesting pics. Those sand hill cranes were fantastic---closest I've ever been to them, and wishing I had a better camera. And the sousaphone lying in the grass. We were up in the most NE township of Kent County along Lincoln Lake and turned into Baptist Youth Camp, where apparently a youth was taking a break from practice and left his instrument behind. It might have been tempting to grab it and run, but we probably would have gotten caught.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Business, Birthdays and Surgeries

Our beautiful Carlton Gardens is in a major summer slump due to construction that for a while blocked both of our driveways. It blocks only one of them now, but all the machinery out front gives the appearance that we're closed up. There is always plenty to do here but not behind the cash register. July is our birthday month, Franny (John's mother) was 103 on the 7th, the following week Carlton and John (who he introduces as "my dad") both had birthdays on the 13th. I missed the annual ball game celebration because I wasn't feeling well due to a series of kidney stone surgeries, the last one (hopefully) scheduled for August 1. The week after their birthdays I turned 73.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Summer Fun

Today we headed out to Lake Michigan (a 45 min. drive) and hiked in three of our favorite Ottawa County parks, Kirk, Rosy Mound (where John is looking down over the 100+ steps he just climbed) and Linear Park along the channel in Grand Haven, were we sat on a bench, ate our lunch and watched boats head out to the Lake. After we arrived home we sat out on our dock on the River and read the Sunday paper. I also touched up some things on our funky "totem" that we designed to mask our river birch tree that the township nearly destroyed to protect high line wires. Below is a pic of daughter Laura who drove up with Bob from NC this past week to spend time here in Michigan with both sides of their family. Tomorrow we're taking a day off from the Gardens and plan to go up north to Leelanau County for more hiking along the Lakeshore. It's beautiful weather these days but way too dry.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Wedding pics

The heat index was over 100 but it didn't take away from this really cool wedding. Granddaughter Kayla and Ariel, Carlton, Melissa and all of the rest of us had a grand time.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Tomorrow is the Big Day!

John, Ariel, Kayla's "little sis," Emily
Last evening was rehearsal and a pizza picnic. We love Ariel, and he comes from such a wonderful family. Carlton is claiming not just him but his 3 brothers as his new sons. They love to play sports together, and their mother Mary enjoys providing the meal.

Mary on left and Carlton

Mother of Bride, Melissa, and John

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Evening Trip to Belding

We close up Carlton Gardens at 4 pm which gives us time to explore spots within a range of 50 miles or so. Last evening we drove SE to Lake Odessa, where we purchased some nice slabs of wood which John will turn into simple outdoor pieces. The evening before we went NE to Belding and had a picnic along the Flat River. While we were visiting the town's most noted spot (a young women's boarding house for early 20th-century silk workers), we heard an amusing story that was told recently by a man who is now more than 100. In his younger years, he and his buddies would hitch up a team every Friday night in good weather and head out from Grand Rapids to have a fine evening out with certain of the young ladies who lived at the Belding Boarding house. It's a mighty long drive with horses on rough dirt roads, but those girls must have been worth all the effort.

Silk-factory boarding house

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Reading and Writing Obituaries

John and I have birthdays next month---73 and 78---so it makes a certain amount of sense to be thinking about our own obituaries and end-of-life issues. It's never too far from my mind that I may become John's third dearly departed wife. But who knows, he may stop at two. Anyway a few months ago we had a free Sunday afternoon and I said to  him that it was time for us to write our own obituaries. He did. It's actually pretty good, especially after I made some clever improvements. I didn't write mine. I ended up writing a poem about writing my own obituary, which is also pretty good, if I say so myself. Neither of our writings are yet, however, ready for publication. So,  how does one write a good obituary?

Two weeks ago, I actually cut out from the Grand Rapids Press 9 portions of obituaries to prove a trend that is occurring (one that we're joining)---just in case one of our 3 kids might object to our decision of the last several months. And today I noticed more obits that signal the same trend: "Jim chose to be cremated and also wished to have no services." Some obits simply make no mention of a service at all or say that a private family remembrance has already taken place. Many say that "messages and memories" may be left online at a particular site. We have both decided to be cremated and to set a time for a nice dinner for extended family both here in Grand Rapids and in Spooner, Wisconsin, when and if my family is able to gather.

Way back when I was in high school I wrote an essay against funerals and viewing bodies, and I still feel essentially the same. Both daughters have affirmed the concept of cremation; Carlton doesn't want to talk about it. One of the dreads I've always had, should John pre-decease me, is having to stand around a funeral home for a 4-hour afternoon and another 3-hour evening while long lines of people (whose favorite activity in old age is going to "visitations") walk by and hug me and try to explain how they knew him 31 years ago when he was a colleague---and have  not seen  him for 3 decades, that is, until they see him right there lying in a coffin. I want to hear such stories but not at a time when I'm bowed down with such grief that I can't even think straight. I want people to write up their memories and post them online. As for John, if I pre-decease him, he probably dreads the thought of having to stand around in a funeral home for an afternoon and evening while no one shows up. But, hey, he fills his free time doing crosswords.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Fun Mothers' Day Celebration

Great weather and a fun time at a duplex Carlton owns where Kayla and Ariel live. Carlton served up grilled Porter House steaks and all the fixings. Besides John and me, Ariel's mother and siblings were there, so also Melissa and John, Sandy and Marvin (Kayla's mom, grandmother and steps)---and Tank, seen below gnawing on a bone. All in all, a fantastic time, Carlton enjoying it more than anyone else.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Kayla and Ariel

What a handsome couple---to be married on June 30. We are so proud of both of them. Yesterday Ariel received his Associates degree at Community College. He works full time and goes to classes off hours, and somehow they find time to have great fun together. His family heritage is Dominican and Puerto Rican, previously from New York City and from there to Grand Rapids. 

They met several years ago when they both were working at a Dollar Store, and it's been true love ever since. Everyone thinks they both got a great catch---as we do. We are thrilled for Kayla and Ariel is now part of our family. And Carlton has a son---almost 4 sons. Ariel's brothers and he have great fun playing all kinds of back yard sports together.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

First Hike of Spring

After early church and a lot of spring cleaning inside and out at our River house (that has been vacant since November when we moved downtown to our little high-rise condo), we drove to Rogue River Park, a dozen miles north of Grand Rapids, and hiked in sunshine and temperature in the sixties. Nothing around here has greened up yet, but we were finally able to get out without mud on the trails. Tomorrow after we leave the shop, we plan to do more cleaning at the house and get out on our bikes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Delayed Spring

I shoveled snow at the Gardens again today and more snow is predicted for tomorrow. There's no sign of spring as I look out the window. I'll never forget 22 years ago when my siblings were arriving for Carlton's wedding. The leaves and blossoms were all out and everyone was surprised that West Michigan had such early springs. That year was an anomaly and so is this year. We've been doing inside work at the Gardens and hunkering down at home watching DVDs, including a couple of good movies, one being the Coen brothers version of "True Grit," starring Jeff Bridges who makes the movie funny and, as one reviewer put it, "no one ends up dead who didn't have it coming." It's a western, the first version (starring John Wayne who won an Oscar) "conveyed the threat of violence." This one doesn't and maybe that's why we laughed to hard at crazy Jeff Bridges. Most of what we've been watching are documentaries, fantastic ones on Isaac Newton, the Panama Canal, and Niall Ferguson's 6-part "Civilization: The West and the Rest."

We manage to get with family along the way. John was with his sister Mary and brother Steve this morning and here's a pic taken more than a week ago when daughter Laura came up from NC to spend a few days.

It's Tax Day, and as usual our tax accountant is last minute. I'd fire her if she wasn't so incredibly good at what she does, and she knows our complicated business and personal dealings inside and out.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Beautiful Biloxi

Biloxi, Mississippi is probably known most for its casinos. We stay every year at a wonderful Quality Inn on the Gulf more than 2 miles west of that strip where it's quieter and much less populated. We did our usual hiking and biking in bright sunshine, and saw more wildlife than usual, including 5 alligators and loads of turtles in one spot, though my camera did not have the wide lens I needed. We enjoyed picnic lunches and evening gumbo, and are headed back home in the morning.