Saturday, February 25, 2017

Ashley as Ida

Last night we enjoyed seeing granddaughter Ashley do a splendid job as the leading lady in the musical Honk, a stage version of Hans Christian Anderson's "The Ugly Duckling." She was Ida, Ugly duckling's mother. She had all the right moves and expressions, singing and speaking her lines without a hint of nervousness. She's a natural onstage and the full house adored her. Needless to say we were mighty proud.  She's a high school senior and raring to get on with life. She's in the middle wearing the green striped dress and white apron.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Florida and More

We've been 9 days on the road, heading first to Apalachicola for a night and then on to our favorite Florida State Park at Suwannee River; after that up the coast to Savannah and on up to visit our friend Alex (business partner and cottage renter until last October), then home through Greensboro for a night to see Laura and Bob and a long day driving home from there.
Inside door at Apalacholia River Inn
Outside door same place

John's on walkway at Suwannee River S.P.
Hiding in the flowers, Savannah
Wilmington, NC, John and Alex

Monday, February 06, 2017

Hiking the West Michigan Winter

We hiked for a couple of hours on Saturday at Seidman Park and Pickerel Lake; Sunday afternoon at Rogue River Park, and this afternoon hiking the trails and walkways of Fredrick Meijer Gardens. We've had a string of wonderful February sunny days. Here is John on the boardwalk across the shallow Pickerel Lake; most of the hike is through the woods with two more boardwalks along the way.

Friday, February 03, 2017


I don't do twitter and hardly even Facebook, but I do sometimes follow what's trending on twitter. As is true most days, the tweets mock stupid statements of the Trump administration. The other day the Administration thought it could get millions of Americans joining on the hashtag #thanksdonald, but ordinary people took over with sentences like #thanksdonald for not paying taxes, cheating on your wife, stiffing contractors.

Yesterday the biggest trend on twitter was #bowlinggreenmassacre, the massacre Kellyanne Conway referenced to defend Trump's ban on Muslims. That is the same Conway known for recently coining the term "alternative facts"---though for many years the Republican Right had been liberally utilizing such facts in their fake news. So Twitter lit up with such tweets as: "where were you when you first learned the Bowling Green Massacre didn't happen" and "Brian Williams won a Purple Heart for his service at the Bowling Green Massacre." One of the best tweets defended the term, insisting it actually happened last September when OSU massacred Bowling Green 77-10.

If I had joined the twitter trend yesterday, I might have tweeted about a little-known massacre that, unlike the Bowling Green Massacre, actually occurred---in this instance in Comstock Park 2 years ago---carnage that took the lives of several attic-dwelling raccoons and squirrels. The details are too horrific to put in print, but trust me, Kellyanne, this story, if it had been accurately reported, would not have depended on "alternative facts." Unfortunately, the liberal lame-stream media didn't even cover it.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Last Day at Big Bend

Tomorrow morning we plan to leave the park early and head for home, hoping to avoid "ice pellets" predicted for parts of Illinois on Saturday. We've had 5 fantastic days of hiking, with one last hike to go late this afternoon and a short walk tonight under the Big Bend full moon. The park is big in every way----except for water. The 2 pictures here show John near Mule Ears Spring, thus the green vegetation, and the one below along the canyon on the Rio Grande.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Big Bend National Park

It's our 12th year together down along the Rio Grand on the border of Mexico. Here are some snaps that will help us remember 2017, the warmest we've ever experienced here and leaves us exhausted after desert hikes up and down through deep ravines----always worth the effort though. Besides the heat we're struggling with very poor internet service this year. I tried posting last night---no luck.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Spending the Night in Abilene, Texas

It's early January so as usual we're on our way to Big Bend National Park for several days of hiking. We stayed just south of Little Rock last night---heavy traffic much of the way but the roads were mostly clear. Below is the content of an email I just sent to daughter Laura in Greensboro:

We drove through cold weather today (in the teens and twenties), and then going south around Dallas/FW, the wind and snow combined spurred those TX drivers to figure that it was as good a time as any to have a crash------and for no good reason; the pavement was dry and all you had to do was slow down for the swirling snow. Anyway we were delayed for most of 2 hours with flashing lights and long back-ups every several miles.

Okay, I have a QUIZ for you. Identify the pic below. I'm sure you don't need any hints, but I'll give them anyway-----below the pic.

Hint: Dad is talking with a National Park ranger. Got it? Scroll down.

Hint: We stopped by to restore our hope after this awful election season. Keep on scrolling. 

Hint: Birthplace of a man whose scandalous behavior made a prosecutor famous---so famous that he was named president of my alma mater, Baylor University---recently having to resign due to his own cover-up of scandalous behavior of football players.

Birthplace of the man who should have been the nation's first gentleman, that title, as we learned today, snatched away by Putin.

You probably stopped reading even before the first hint. But it was fun restoring our Hope in Hope, AR.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Kayla on Blue Bridge

The Blue Bridge is a Grand Rapids icon, and it was the perfect spot for Ariel to pop the question to granddaughter Kayla. They've been dating for more than 3 years---nevertheless, a surprise. Also a surprise was his brother jumping from behind a snow bank to snap the picture. Ariel had gone to both Melissa and Carlton separately asking for their blessings, which they gave with great joy. We all absolutely love Ariel and and are delighted that he is now officially part of our family. No date for a wedding anytime soon.

Friday, December 09, 2016

New Owners!

After having our wonderful cottage on the market since the second week of October, we closed this week. Photos are available here online (after clicking "hide this form"). We miss Alex our renter and part-time business partner for more than 5 years, but have promised to visit her in her new home in Wilmington, NC this spring.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Perfect Day for Biking

We arrived home from the shop by 5 pm, hopped on our bikes and headed south through Riverside Park, about a 10 mile round-trip. Everyone was out, all like us fearing it was our last warm sunny Michigan day until April.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sunrise on the River

Actually, the sunrise is not unusual. What is so surprising is that my little old camera captured it---no touch-up.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Reverse Sunset

Here is looking out from the back of our house to the eastern sunset. It was overcast most of the day, and then after we closed the shop and had gone out to eat, we came home to this. It's a million-dollar mural in our back yard!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Spending a night in Spooner

For a dozen years now John and I have been making our fall journey to northern Wisconsin, visiting all the haunts of my childhood. It seems that every time we go I meet someone I haven't seen in decades. Here I am with a childhood friend Ernestine Hoyt. I've stopped each year at the resort where she and her family lived, but this was the first time I saw a vehicle. She recognized me in an instant. It was like old times. Below is the little house where my grandparents lived in Spooner on the Yellow River. I remember many Sunday dinners there, all of us packed in around the table.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Satan and Equal Rights

The church sign for this Baptist Church in Chesapeake, Virginia says it all: "Remember Satan Was the First to Demand Equal Rights." I take it personally. I plan to vote this election cycle, and equal voting rights were  granted  to women nearly one hundred years ago. And I now enjoy equal rights in the church I belong to and in my marriage-----something I did not possess for most of my adult life. Blacks and others who have demanded equal rights would also be placed alongside Satan by this standard. A lot of churches would not put such a line on their sign, but they abide by the assumption embedded in the sentence.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ultimate Motivation for Dieting

I don't look so bad when I'm fully clothed, but being stripped naked and leaving all my clothes on a park bench, I'd be mortified. Then, on top of that, imagine people having to watch me floating away in the sky. Folks, it won't be pretty. It will be bad enough---so they say---for those left behind and I don't want to add to their misery. I'll either go on a major diet or maybe I'll just stay back with the fully clothed. The real benefit of being left behind is snatching up all those clothes. I kind of like that blazer on the park bench.  (Actually, I was raised on the Rapture, but Reformed folks generally don't believe in this end-time scenario---whether naked or clothed.)

Monday, August 22, 2016

After the Storm

Serious storms moved through West Michigan on Saturday, though fortunately no damage to any of our properties---nor Carlton's. Here's a view from our dock late Saturday afternoon when things had calmed down.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Daughter Laura and Her Dad

Laura was going through a box of papers that turned up when workers needed things moved to install a new furnace. Here's one of her great finds: Dad's essay on the importance of teaching music in public schools, published more than twenty-two years ago in the Grand Rapids Press.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Michigan and Immigration

This is from the Sunday Grand Rapids Press: "Michigan's immigrant population grew by roughly 10 percent from 2010-14, helping to mitigate the state's population loss and the effects of the Great Recession. . . . The influx of nearly 60,000 foreign-born residents during that time, a 10.2 percent increase, outpaced the national average of a 5.8 percent increase."

Here is what our Republican governor said:

As a welcoming state, we know and value the cultural diversity, professional contributions and entrepreneurial skills offered by foreign-born residents. We look forward to working with our federal partners toward making immigration reform a reality to create more jobs for families and enhance the quality of life across Michigan.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Special Identification Cards for Minorities

Only a minority of Americans are in the military. They carry special identification cards.
When Donald J. Trump said last fall that he would consider making Muslims in the United States carry special identification cards, Tayyib Rashid reached into his wallet and pulled out his military ID, then posted a picture of it online, adding:
“Hey @realDonaldTrump, I’m an American Muslim and I already carry a special ID badge. Where’s yours?”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Russian Blog Fans----or Spies

Today I checked the stats on this blog and was surprised there were so many hits so I looked at the audience, and this is what I found. Normally the US is almost 10 times more than any other country. Not by this count. Anyone out there know what's going on?  Should I be nervous? Is Putin on my case?

United States
Switzerland   1

Friday, July 22, 2016

Did she make the purchase . . .

or put it back on the shelf? This is a pic daughter Laura sent us, and we don't know the answer---except that it's a big bottle of Jack Pine Gin and she has that sneaky look in her eye.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Terrace Inn Mini Vacation

We spent Sunday night at the lovely Terrace Inn  in Bayview, Michigan and biked in wonderfully cool breezes most of Monday. We stay there every summer for a night or two and now we have a special relationship with Patty, the owner, who recently visited Carlton Gardens. We will be trading yard art for some overnights. Here is the Inn and the room we stayed in.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Fourth of July Family Outing

We spent part of the 4th at Meijer Gardens. Here is John with his lovely daughters, Laura and Sarah. And, of course, one with his lovely wife as well!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

How to Fire A Subordinate

Today in the Sunday paper I saw the headline on the Harriette Cole advice column: "Reader needs help with firing receptionist." The reader signs off as "You're Fired" from Memphis. The answer seems obvious, a great big duuuhhh:

Dear You're Fired: I think you have skipped a step. Before firing your receptionist, you must talk to her. Point out that you have noticed a change in her behavior. Provide the list of incidents that have caused your concern. Ask her what is going on with her. . . . Give her a 30-90-day probationary period with a list of expectations that she is to meet in order to keep her job.

When I was fired at Calvin Theological Seminary, it was much closer to a Donald Trump, "You're Fired," than the simple and obvious advice of Cole. There was no warning, no probationary period, simply a new administration that wanted me out of there. They ignored protocol and broke all their own  rules and they essentially got away with it----at least that's what they thought. I'm not so sure they did. One day I'll write another memoir on "My Calvin Seminary Story" and it will be more than a blog.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Back to Teaching

I've been asked a number of times if I'll ever go back to teaching. No. I'm way too old. But since last week I'm back on the job. Actually tutoring is a more accurate term. Every month (sometimes more) we go up north where I visit an incarcerated boy whom I've known all his life. Last week he told me he wanted to study world religions and then write his own "book" on the subject. He asked that I send material and then when I come up next time we can begin working on the manuscript. I sent material a couple of days ago and today I'm planning to get out another package. He has a great attitude despite his surroundings.   I wish our criminal justice system offered more activities and education for offenders. Most are not nearly as motivated as is this young man. He's now on a short and boring "summer vacation" and is eager for school to begin again in July.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Last night in Leland

We left early yesterday morning amid sprinkles and rain, but the sky cleared and we had a most wonderful time. Here is looking out over the dam in Leland, our room barely visible to the far left, and the window where we had our dinner to the right side. Also pics of the wild flowers in our yard and the empty lot next door.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Whining for Four and a Half Weeks

Okay, so John thinks I've been whining too much (or at least from my vantage point it seems that way) about my sprained ankle that occurred April 22 when I fell stepping down in the dark onto a broken piece of concrete. Just buck up, get over it is his attitude. To his credit, he never complains about his own aches and pains, not even after seriously bruising his shin last summer. I noticed it a week later and was shocked by the nature of his injury. So earlier this week, I decided to get an x-ray. This morning I got a call from my doctor telling me that my ankle had been fractured. The fusion has already begun and it's now too late to wear a boot. The only thing that ought to be done, according to Dr. Bodley (a real sweetheart who knows both of us very well), is for him to write me a prescription for John to wait on me hand and foot for the next four and a half weeks.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sunday Yard Sale & More

Yesterday was perfect spring weather. We packed our bikes and camp chairs and  left the house before 10 o'clock and drove west and then north along Lake Michigan, destination Whitehall, where we biked some beautiful trails and enjoyed lunch and reading the Grand Rapids Press at the city park. On the way I spotted a yard sale, and John reluctantly turned around. I bought a box of tiles for $1 (a great find for a pretend artist). Also several baskets for free. Also a free bunch of lilacs, my favorite smelling flower----wished they bloomed all year long.


Sunday, May 15, 2016


We've had some crazy weather here in West Michigan so far in May. Below is the best crop of wisteria blossoms we've ever had at our vine structure at Carlton Gardens. Then a pic of our snow this morning on the west side of our house and a few minutes later the brilliant sunshine on the east side.