Sunday, November 26, 2017

Quiet Thanksgiving

All our people were with other dear ones so John and I spent much of the day at the Gardens taking care of some last minute changes in decor from fall to Christmas. Then we had a fine roasted chicken and fixings in front of our blazing wood stove in the loft---our little hideaway above the barn at the Gardens. After that we stopped to see our 102-year-old mother who was then eating her evening meal.  When she was finished, John (in the privacy of her room) showed her his 2 week old metal staples holding his hip replacement incision together. The staples are all out now and he's doing very well.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

An Eventful Week

A week ago we were driving through the mountains from Greensboro, after a quick visit with Laura and Bob. It was a twelve hour drive, raining much of the time, John driving only about 40 minutes due to his hip problem. On Wednesday he got a new hip, stayed one night in the hospital and is now on the mend, still using a walker but trucking around almost as though there is nothing wrong with him. Before Greensboro, we went to Gatlinburg for business, ordering things from the Smokey Mountains Gift Show and did some easy hiking in the Smokey Mountains National Park. It was a great time and we are preparing for our next big trip in January to Big Bend National Park.

Monday, October 23, 2017

#MeToo Sexual Harassment at Calvin Seminary

By now everyone knows about the #MeToo hashtags written by women who have endured sexual harassment. Here’s my story:

In 2004 when Calvin Seminary administrators were in the process of terminating me (giving me 2 successive terminal appointments), they piled on one false accusation after another in their written evaluations to the Seminary Board. One particular accusation was basically true—that I had treated “faculty member B” badly—so badly, he claimed, that it caused him “anguish.” They apologized to him for my behavior.

In an effort to deal with this and other charges I met with President Plantinga, Academic Dean Henry DeMoor and my Division chair Robert Devries and read a prepared statement, including this paragraph regarding “faculty member B.”

"I have been uncomfortable with the way he has physically expressed himself, but not wanting to hurt his feelings, I’ve never directly confronted him.  He always hugs me when he comes into my office—and not just a short little greeting hug (which is not something I do with colleagues anyway).  He holds onto me and doesn’t let me go. I was not pleased to see him when he came to my office that day, and I somehow unconsciously or consciously assumed that my very unpleasant demeanor would send a signal to him.  But even after my treating him as badly as he describes, he came over to give me a prolonged hug before he left.  I pushed my [roller] chair back as far as it would go, and tried to hold him at bay by high-fiving him, but he grabbed my hand as I did so, and then reached down and put his other arm around me and held me.  He has made me very uncomfortable on many occasions—one in particular when he pinned me against a door as I was trying to leave, and with his arms around me he told me he loved me and he kissed me while I was pulling away from him."

I concluded my statement with the following sentence: “I don’t expect you to be aware of such situations, but it certainly does seem your concern is misplaced when you are apologizing to him for the ‘anguish’ I supposedly caused.”

The immediate reaction from Neal Plantinga was, Why didn’t you report this right away? I said that while I was extremely uncomfortable with his behavior I never actually believed he would harm me and that I felt sorry for him because he often appeared to be very depressed. The administrators treated that as a phony excuse on my part to cancel out his charge against me of treating him badly. In other words, they did not believe me.

Later that day, having told my Division chair Robert Devries that I wanted to read my statement in an appeal to the Executive Board, he emailed that information to Henry DeMoor, adding his support: “and I concur.”  The next morning I received a threatening email from Henry stating that he and Neal Plantinga would ask the Executive Board not to hear my appeal because, he said that in doing so “you will harm yourself and your cause.”  I knew I was overpowered—that the Executive Board would do their bidding.

Was I surprised by their reaction? Not really. Calvin Seminary had an all-male administration with an all-male full-time faculty for 125 years before I arrived on the scene in 2000 as the first full-time woman faculty member in the school’s history. My story is not essentially about “Faculty member B” who is now deceased. It is about administrators at Calvin Seminary who disregarded and covered up my account of sexual harassment.



Sunday, October 22, 2017

An End to the Lovely Autumn Days

This afternoon is the last of our glorious autumn. Here is what we see from our upstairs bedroom window. Below is a picnic two days ago at Fallasburg County Park along the Flat River where we looked out at the covered bridge. This morning we went biking (some 32 miles round-trip) on the wonderful Musketawa Trail. I didn't have my camera so no pics of he fall colors, but we had a great time and got back before the clouds moved in and the light rain began. This week---and the rest of this month---turns much colder. We are now in preparation mode for winter, both at the house and at the Gardens.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

Glorious Autumn Day

It was one of those perfect cool sunny fall days and we couldn't resist going over to Lake Michigan and up to Ludington, with a lot of meandering along the way. Due to the heat and draught of late summer the colors aren't quite so bright as usual. Here is a snap of the Muskegon River just outside of Newaygo and another of John near the end of our hike around Hamlin Lake at Ludington State Park. We were back in Grand Rapids by 3:30 to spend a couple of hours at the tail end of ArtPrize.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Two Days at Cedar Campus in the UP

With Carlton manning the Gardens, we left at noon on Saturday and headed for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, stopping on the way at a youth facility to see the incarcerated boy I visit every month. Then on to the conference grounds of Cedar Campus near Cedarville. I had been there twice before in the summer, each time for a week of lectures to college students. But this time being off season, we had the entire campus (thousands of acres) almost to ourselves. The view of the sunrise is from our cottage bedroom window, and the picture with John is out at the point that juts into a bay of Lake Huron. It was fantastic weather and a wonderful time.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Our own ArtPrize Installation

After 9 years, our local ArtPrize has become a worldwide event with hundreds of thousands of dollars given in prize money each year. I've never even contemplated entering a piece, partly because I'm not really an artist and also because the process of entering would add more complications to our already complicated lives. But this year we decided 10 days ago (the very week that ArtPrize began) to erect our own installation at Carlton Gardens, which gets more drive-by traffic than almost any other venue.

The title is "Life Cycles and Circles." We've added our names and a number (0000001) and include a disclaimer: unofficial, unauthorized, illegal, perhaps criminal. That should be enough to get us off the hook, should the art police come after us.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Family Together in Spooner

We all met at the home place this past weekend---the 5 of us "kids," plus spouses and friends. We range in age from David, soon to be 78, Jeannine, 75, yours truly 72, Jonnie 70, and Kathy, 63. We're all in good health and feel younger than we are.

John and I arrived early which gave us a chance to get out to the farm, where I spent a bit of alone time sitting in a camp chair writing some memories of childhood. After a time John came up behind me and snapped this picture.

Below is the front of the barn, with brother Jonnie's cords of wood. There should be a high barn behind these buildings, but it has fallen in on itself, as seen from the back.



dinner at the riverside picnic area
largest tree on the farm
ride with Jonnie on ATV


five siblings from oldest to youngest
family, minus Ginny snapping the pic

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Remembering the 100-Year Flood

With the terrible flooding in Houston and elsewhere in Texas, I'm reminded of the Grand River flood in the spring of 2013. Of course, there's no comparison. Even without flood insurance, we managed okay, doing most of the repair work ourselves. But many people in Grand Rapids lost almost everything---especially poorer people whose homes had never before flooded. They were made vulnerable (as were many in Houston) because box stores and high-rise buildings with huge parking lots did not have proper drainage. Such folks are sitting ducks when the torrential rains come. Here are some pics showing the front of our house, the side yard, and John hard at work. And here are 20 photos collected by the Grand Rapids Press, titled "20 most dramatic images from the historic Grand River flood." Scroll down six to see John and me kayaking down Abrigador Trail





Monday, September 04, 2017

Reflections on a Good Life

This Labor Day 2017, we are conscious of all the troubles is this country and around the world. We've had our own share of troubles but in this season of our lives we are conscious every day of the good life we're enjoying. We work hard almost every day at the Gardens, and here is John standing in front of his latest creation---a "cabin" toward the back of our expanded woodland. We play hard as well, yesterday sucking up the beautiful weather as we biked our traditional Labor Day weekend 35-mile ride through downtown Grand Rapids and 4 large parks. There was too much beauty along the way to even try to capture it, but I snapped this wonderful floral display inside the burial grounds of President Jerry and Betty Ford. After we returned I did laundry and was bummed out to discover our drying rack was downtown at our condo, so I did the next best thing with river-rat drying. The remaining pictures were taken this morning as we headed upstream from the Rockford Dam on the Rogue River. I managed to snap a swan in the midst of a wetland island.









Monday, August 28, 2017

A 13th Anniversary and Anti-Semitism

Today marks our 13th anniversary, and what a ride it has been. He is the best husband I ever could have snatched---everything and more I could have dreamed of having in a husband. Here he is, as so often in the evening, enjoying a beer and a back-lit sunset. We were up in Bay View again yesterday and today enjoying this big airy room we were upgraded to for no extra cost.

Below is the story of anti-Semitism.

We took our Sunday morning bike ride on the trail heading northeast, and this time decided to take a little detour through the small town of Oden on Route 31 along Crooked Lake. We discovered a half-mile-long sidewalk along the lake bordered by beautiful homes. Then we noticed this massive tree trunk and a woman in the yard walking her dog. So we asked about the tree, which is a story in itself. But the bigger story is that the whole community along the lake (pictured below) was established by Jewish residents who were not permitted to reside in the very upscale community of Harbor Springs on Little Traverse Bay several miles away. So this little community was settled by default on the basis of ugly bigotry. Harbor Springs is truly a spectacular town---with a shameful history---where we often sit in the park eating our lunch. We'll never look at that beauty with the same eyes again.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Was he fired, or did he resign?

This evening I was reading Slate Magazine online and was amused  by Daniel Politi's article titled, "Sebastian Gorka Worked Hard to Make it Sound Like His Firing Was a Resignation." It's such a typical reaction to being fired.

I always think back to my being fired from Calvin Theological Seminary. I was given a terminal appointment---meaning I was terminated, in other words, fired. However, after I went public with my story, quoting from documents that proved I was fired, the administration went public claiming I resigned---that I quit. What a crock!

I wish more people would step up to the plate and state publicly that they have been fired---especially those who have been fraudulently fired---fired on false charges. Likewise, I would think that anyone fired by Trump should regard it a badge of honor.

Here are three other Trump Administration examples of being fired---or resigning: 

Steve Bannon "told others the decision was entirely his; while senior administration officials said he was ousted." Similar situations with Reince Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci. They all should man up and publicly say they've been fired.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Cool Biking

This morning at 8:30, shivering in the chilly breeze, we headed north on the nearby White Pine Trail to take a thirty mile trip in preparation for our traditional 35-mile ride to Millennium Park on Labor Day. As we approached Cedar Springs, we lost track of mileage partly due to some storm damage with limbs apparently obscuring the mile markers. So we went beyond the town, John insisting that we must have already passed the 15-mile marker. I accused him of trafficking in wishful thinking, a character flaw that is not becoming. He retorted that I trafficked in linguistic eccentricities and exaggeration. As we were arguing about our respective characters, we both at the very same time spotted mile marker 17. We turned around and headed back to Cedar Springs. Here he is in front of one of his favorite breweries. Below, I'm posing alongside a front yard I can only envy.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Home Away from Home

Yesterday was the fifth Sunday this season that we spent at Terrace Inn in Bay View which borders on the beautiful Little Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan. We trade yard art for lodging and have loads of fun working with Patty the owner. Below is our room. Also a pic of John before dinner sitting on the back patio facing the sign we spent a lot of time restoring and butterflies that we brought from the shop. We always bring our bikes and ride both morning and evening, yesterday clocking some 28 miles. The trails are beautiful and offer nice surprises along the way. When we arrived in the little town of Alanson just before noon, we wondered what was going on with the crows of people. Turns out it was their annual River Festival. We were treated to a lively concert presented by the Petosky Steel Drum Band, 30 talented and barefoot high school kids making music and dancing---a lot of old favorites. On the way home today, I asked John to turn around so I could snap a picture of an artsy tall shoe tree. Sometimes we fear we're having just too much fun.













Friday, August 11, 2017

Hometown Team

Last night Carlton, Kayla and Ariel joined us for a birthday baseball game at the Fifth Third ballpark just a mile from our house. Both Carlton and John have July 13 birthdays, and this was a late celebration. Great fun. And what a game it was, as is noted below. Over 9,000 fans, game tied 9 to 9 in the 9th inning. Then due to lightening, the game is called. 

COMSTOCK PARK, MI - Inclement weather foiled the finish of a tight contest in front of 9,360 fans between the West Michigan Whitecaps and Great Lakes Loons Thursday night at Fifth Third Ballpark as the 9-9 tie was suspended after nine innings of play.

After Great Lakes broke out the offense in the early innings and took an 8-1 lead, the Whitecaps came storming back with a comeback highlighted by a game-tying grand slam by Chad Sedio - his second of the night.

This good news from an hour ago:

The Great Lakes Loons were unable to maintain their momentum from Thursday evening's suspended game, falling to the West Michigan Whitecaps, 10-9, in 11 innings on Friday. 

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Hiking the Dunes

We left early Sunday morning for Leelanau County and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We discovered the Cottonwood Trail along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive a few weeks ago but did not have time to take the full hike. The trail overlooks both Lake Michigan and Glen Lake and has a lot of scrub trees growing along the hard pack trail---though there is also a lot of deep dune sand in places. Yours truly on the hard pack trail; John looking over Glen Lake and an hour later eating at a picnic area also along the scenic drive. Below John is reading the Sunday paper and snacking in a camp chair beside a flower garden park in Frankfurt.