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?


 Russia
269
United States
109
Germany
16
France
10
Canada
6
Ukraine
5
Netherlands
2
Romania
2
Australia
1
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

Wisteria

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.





Monday, April 25, 2016

Celebration in Flint

Yesterday we headed east out of the driveway at around noon---destination Central Church of the Nazarene in Flint. The happy celebration at 6 pm was the ordination of my cousin Carolyn Carlton Losey. She is now Rev. Losey, assistant pastor of the Crosswalk Community Church in Westland, MI. I had learned of the event from her Christmas letter but had no contact with her since, that is, until I surprised her before the service in the foyer of the large church, where a dozen others were also being ordained. She was shocked and thrilled. We got to meet her daughter and grandkids as well. All in all a great time. John took this pic amid crowds of people pushing and shoving, thus the blur.

Below are pics from our stop on our way at a little artsy park on the Shiawassee River in the delightful town of Owosso.




Saturday, April 23, 2016

Family from Seattle

What a delight it has been to have family from Camano Island, outside of Seattle.  Brother David and Sharon have been visiting kids and grandkids in Columbus, and then back to Michigan to visit Sharon's people and us as well. As we are moving through our 60s and 70s, we fear that if we don't work it out to be together now, we may be having our family reunions at funerals. What a bummer that is. So we are hoping for another big reunion next year in our hometown of Spooner, when David is looking to be back for his high school 60th reunion. Here are David and Sharon next to the Meijer Sculpture Gardens horse, and a selfie Ariel took of all of us, also 2 of Tank with the favorite people in her life.


Saturday, April 09, 2016

Snow and Ice


I couldn't resist snapping a picture when we arrived at the shop this morning. It's beautiful outside, but more ice on the driveway and parking lot than we've ever seen.  So we spent the first hour spreading salt. As I was downloading from my camera I noticed some pics from our trip south were still there, a reminder of the wonderful time we had on our way home, driving the Natchez Trace and stopping to hike along the way.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Miserable Critters

Racoons, what a pain. We got word yesterday from Alex (who rents our cottage and is our business partner) that somehow a racoon had gotten in between the studs of her attic again, where the shed roof meets the rest of the house-----which John had spent major time fixing a year ago. At that time we had trapped and relocated two or three of them nearly 20 miles away. But they're incredibly smart critters and they want home sweet home.  Last night we trapped one and Carlton took care of it this morning. Since Alex has heard no noise at all overnight, we're hoping we got the one bothering her. John just left the business here, hoping to make the cottage impregnable, while not trapping one inside. After he left I called Carlton to let him know what was going on. Although John said he could take care of things on the roof alone (while Alex was inside and keeping an eye on him), Carlton insisted that he had to be there as well. So now he's left his house to join his Dad on the roof. Someone suggested that our only solution was to burn the cottage down. Maybe.

Monday, March 21, 2016

"Thank God for Men"---Well, of course.


Today this in the Huffington Post:

“They ride on the coattails of the men,” said Raymond Moore, a former player and the CEO of Sunday’s BNP Paribas Open. “They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky. If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank god that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport.”

I find this nearly as amusing as it is annoying, and it could be written about virtually any entity—for example the US Senate or maybe even a seminary. When I was teaching at Calvin Seminary one of the classrooms was lined with 22 large photos of retired professors and more photos lined the halls and walls of other classrooms. I snapped this picture before I left. Alas, all my camera could capture was this wall of 18. I’m sure when I arrived as the first full-time woman professor in the school’s history, some were thinking the same thing about women: 

“They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky. If I was a lady [professor], I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that [all these men whose pictures are lining the walls] were born, because they have carried this [seminary].”

I once asked my students in a class how the seminary might be different if women had been the founders and all the professors and administrators. They looked at me as though I'd lost my mind. What a lunatic question!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Five Sunny Days in the South

view from our hotel balcony
We plan to leave Biloxi early tomorrow morning for our drive north through southern Mississippi to Jackson, then on to Nashville on the Natchez Trace Parkway. We've had a great time hiking, biking and visiting our favorite haunts, including Beauvoir, the home of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. We also made our yearly stop at the Welcome Center and watched the Hurricane Katrina film. The actual hurricane devastation here just over a decade ago was greater than anywhere along the gulf coast, including New Orleans (which received much of the news coverage due to the levy breaks). We need a reminder that this wonderful area that we so enjoy suffered terribly and has made an incredible comeback.

John on grounds of Beauvoir
John staring down Confederacy camel at Beauvoir


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Anniversary---A Year Ago Today

Most network news programs have an all-too-frequent segment that signals a 1-year (or more) anniversary of a national tragedy. Our 1-year anniversary came yesterday, a family tragedy. Though not a blood relative, very much a family ordeal. I've known the teenage brother and sister since they were born, mother and father had their garden wedding at our back yard at Carlton Gardens. Carlton was a brother since high school and Kayla a sister to the kids-----very close. And then the tragedy, the crime a year ago. Sister, after being airlifted to ER, healed physically fairly quickly. Brother is locked up. Last August, I finally was able to work out a chaplain relationship with him, and for a few months saw him 3 or 4 times a week in the nearby detention center. He was a near perfect resident, and we had many great talks and educational times together. He loves astronomy and history, begging me on one occasion to do a session of Joan of Arc. I always brought a page filled with interesting questions, stories and facts, and we would go over them. On certain times, he corrected me and showed me wrong on a particular fact or opinion---and how we laughed. He guarded the papers I gave him with his life, being upset when he was about to be transferred last November that one of the pages I'd given him had gone missing. He's now in a youth facility a hundred miles away, and I'm allowed to see him only once a month. But he continues to make great progress and is terribly sorry for his crime. In both facilities he's gotten good counseling and psychological testing.

It was a year ago today that Carlton called me down here in Biloxi (where we are now), telling me the terrible news. We stayed here a few days longer, knowing there was nothing we could do at home. But I remember so well the dark cloud that so completely permeated the sunny skies of the Gulf shore. Every bike ride, every hike was haunted by the news back home. So this get-away has been a huge reminder as well as contemplation on the healing that has taken place in one year. I am optimistic about the future for this boy I love so dearly. I don't play a role in his sister's life; many others are surrounding her. She's beautiful and talented, and I certainly hope and pray for the best.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Memorably Bad?

I have more requests for interviews on the book, and the one on Friday with two women interviewers on Moody Radio in Chicago went well. But who am I to judge? Many years ago I was the featured Friday night California conference speaker. The next day on the way home I had scheduled a layover in Salt Lake City to visit my friend Chris. She asked how my presentation went. I told her I wasn't really satisfied, but that it wasn't memorably bad. But then after I arrived home I was contacted by the woman who invited me. She let me know in uncertain terms that I was indeed memorably bad. (For one thing, I hadn't given an altar call, but that wasn't the worst of it.) I'd never before had such a blunt rendering of my speaking. She hammered me. I was mortified---and miserable the rest of the day. That evening I called Chris and apologized for having misspoke. I told her that I indeed was memorably bad. She laughed so hard I could feel the vibrations all the way to Grand Rapids.

So, back to the Friday interview. It's hard to assess myself so I was delighted when Anita emailed: "Thanks Ruth! You were a dynamite guest on an important topic."

While waiting for that interview I began a poem. Here's the good---or maybe memorably bad---lines I have written:

Waiting for phone call,
scheduled radio interview,
4 pm Central Standard Time,
Standing by, 3 pm Eastern time,
Minutes passing, maybe host forgetting.
Or maybe ditsy mom, as son says,
airhead, scatterbrained, zoned out.
Time-zone math miscalculated,
two dyslexic hours to kill.

Recalling dyssy days of yore,
airline penalties, tickets re-written.
Yet again wrong gate, wrong flight,
destination Detroit, no tarmac turn-around.
Still again, college dean astonished,
long scheduled class, teacher one week early.
Round-trip, Grand Rapids—Kitchener,
USA to Canada and back,
658 dyslexic miles badly spent.

More dyssy days of yore, college freshman,
solid c-, English comp. Too many
sentences dyssy diagramed, too many
unidentified, disease-infected, unprotected
gerunds and infinitives pile up.
Dyssy years roll by, still no spell-check.
Editor informs author, publishing house record,
single word misspelled three different dyssy
ways, one lonely paragraph.

Now unwinding, what to do, an interview
delayed two time-zone hours, surfing
news sites, sick of politics, sick of Trump,
moving on, mindless checking home-town obits.
Flinching, double-take, oh, my, sad news,
cousin Norma, dead at 90. No more old-time
family stories, no more fun-filled fall visits.
Broken promises only. Promises
to keep in touch, to write, to call.
Two time-zone hours to feel guilty.
No dyssy excuses.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Busy Weekend

After we closed the shop Saturday afternoon, we packed our skis in the Element and headed off to Lamoreaux Park, across the river from our house in Comstock Park. It was great to get out---first time this winter. Then for a quiet evening watching a PBS DVD on Eleanor Roosevelt. She's an amazing woman, especially considering all the pain she suffered in childhood and later life. After church on Sunday we went out to eat, celebrating the birthdays of three grandkids at once. We used to take them out for 3 separate birthday dinners, but even one such dinner these days is hard to arrange given all their school activities.

I just received word that my publisher has posted an additional excerpt on their website. It features some hard questions for those who would hold to the doctrine of male headship in marriage. See it here.


Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Technology, Equality, Etc.

I'm not a techie even though I spend many hours each day on my Apple computer, mainly writing books (now working on a biography of Katharina von Bora---Martin Luther's wife---that I hope will be published next year, the 500th anniversary of Luther's posting of his 95 theses). But I also spend time checking my email and various News sites, reading interesting blogs, writing blog posts----and ordering books from Amazon (almost always used and cheap). But I'm tech-lite. Our only cell phone is a $20 device from Walmart and a $10/mo. service. Here is the best I can do with a selfie. I tried turning the camera on myself but tend to snap pictures of body parts that are not worthy of a post. But here I am facing my bathroom mirror. (It seems like I ought to either clean the mirror or the camera lens!)

Equality in marriage. I believe in it. So does John. But when it comes to treats, we have issues. These are lemon bars that we purchased  to taste-test the quality for a little ladies' day event we're having at the shop next week. We each had one. The next day when I took them off the shelf for another enjoyable treat together, three were gone, and that's why this picture still shows an uneven number. To his credit, John admitted taking one while I wasn't present, but it does point to the inequality in our marriage. And lemon bars aren't the worst of it. I've long ago learned to hide chocolates. He's certainly worth 2 lemon bars to every one for me.  (On the rate-my-husband scale, he's a solid 10.) But I have to keep him true to our vows, so the bar on the bottom left has now been digested-----while he is away getting a hair cut and visiting his 100-year-old mom.


The book (released yesterday) is getting some good reviews, more than I could have ever hoped for. Here is one that was posted this morning. Also a good first review on Amazon and one from Nate Sparks who says this: "Her story becomes a vehicle for exposing the harmful rhetoric of gender hierarchy and ecclesial misogyny.  And in this way, she offers a careful, intelligent, and highly accessible critique of the systemic ways Evangelical headship culture perpetuates abuse within the Church." For full review, go here.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Black and White Bible

The full title is Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife: My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Abuse. Anyone interested can click on ruthtucker.com. The book will not be released until March 1, but reviews have already started coming in from some who were sent advanced copies. So far they have been very favorable, but I fully expect a good thrashing from those who live and die by the doctrine of male headship in marriage.

Here are some sentences from three of the early reviewers:

“A gut wrenching memoir by professor and writer Ruth Tucker on domestic violence in the church. . . . Truly, this is a difficult book to read, but it's also a difficult one to put down. . . . This book is highly recommended . . . piercing, passionate, and worth a study.”

“A heart-wrenching story but brilliantly shared. I felt like I was on a journey with the author as she revealed some of the most intimate and deep parts of her life while looking at what the bible said about marriage and headship. This is well worth a read!”

"I was incredibly blessed by your personal story, your empathy and insights, and your Socratic approach, which I found refreshing."


UPDATE---Today's headline---"Kansas shooting: Sheriff believes protection order sparked carnage"---though hardly a headline because it has become so routine. Why don't they call it "Domestic Terrorism." I was never shot but I lived with domestic terrorism. The article doesn't say why the man was served with a protection order but such orders certainly don't bring protection, as I knew very well.

(CNN)Ninety minutes before he opened fire in central Kansas, Cedric Ford got served a protection from abuse order -- an act a local sheriff thinks led him to kill three people and wound 16 others.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

10 inches of shoveling . . .

Heavy wet snow, the first real snowfall of the season. The electricity was out when we arrived at Carlton Gardens, so the electric-start snow-blower was of no use. We grabbed our shovels and in less than 2 hours had the parking lot clear, and then the sun did its work. All the while we were remarking how beautiful everything was. The pics are proof.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thrift is Liberation, Not Deprivation






Yesterday when I got our Feb. 29 issue of The New Yorker, I flipped through the articles and turned first to Nick Paumgarten's, "The Scold: Mr Money Mustache's retirement (sort of) plan."

I realized right away that this was one we had to share together, so I handed it to John and how we did laugh. We have our own funny stories of thrift that didn't turn out right, and we go along with the blogger's philosophy, though we certainly are not as religious as he is.

Like Paumgarten, author of the article, we are fans of duct tape. Our vehicle and my most comfortable hiking boots are proof.

Paumgarten writes this:

"On his blog, Peter Adeney presents thrift as liberation rather than as deprivation."

The article is as funny as it is serious, Paumgarten admitting that he also has "some tightwad cred. I’m a thermostat despot, with holes in my sweaters and duct-tape patches on my winter gear. I reuse paper towels and aluminum foil. But I also have a mortgage, a cable-TV subscription. . . ."

[Blogger Adeney's] goals, he says, are: 1. “To make you rich so you can retire early”; 2. “To make you happy so you can properly enjoy your early retirement”; and 3. “To save the whole Human Race from destroying itself through overconsumption of its habitat.” The blog, which he started five years ago, is really an attack on consumerism and waste—a theology of conservation—
disguised as a personal-finance advice column.

Not everything has gone well for Adeney. "There was a thirty-dollar mistake, back in 2010: [He] built a rig for a storage box attached to the rear of his Scion hatchback, but the heat of the muffler melted a hole in the box. He modified the design, then wrote about it on his blog. The post, called “Turning a Little Car Into a Big One,” was an ode to the ingenuity of his storage box and to the underlying good sense behind owning a cheap, small, fuel-efficient automobile. He left out the bit about the muffler."

Monday, February 22, 2016

Reading through the Winter

One way to get through the Michigan winter is to read books and watch DVDs. This weekend we watched biographies of  Frank Lloyd Wright, Thomas Hart Benton and Mark Twain, the latter two focusing on the heartland of Missouri and fitting right in with the book John is reading to me every morning and night on Harry Truman. We are approaching page 300, still more than 600 pages to go. But as is true with other biographies by David McCullough, it's very well written and we never imagine the book is too long.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

S. GA to GR

John on bridge in Hillsborough River State Park
A long drive, early Saturday until 10:20 pm, south of Macon to Grand Rapids, from warm breezes and sun in Florida to bitter wind and sub-zero sun in GR. But hey, it's good to be back home again, to quote John Denver. Our best times in Florida are not on the crowded beaches or driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic. We love hiking the state parks and that's where we spend our time. The geological formations in these parks are most fascinating.

Just love those palms
John at Hillsborough River State Park


John at giant sinkhole at Devil's Millhopper State Park
Three sinkholes where the Santa Fe River begins going underground at O'Leno State Park

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Quick Trip to Florida

One of the perks of operating Carlton Gardens is an opportunity now and then to make a delivery---this time to Florida, payment enough for the cost of gas and more. Couldn't pass it up. We left at 3 pm Saturday when we closed shop, spent a short night in Kentucky, and then did some leisurely driving through the back roads of Tennessee and on to Chattanooga, and particularly enjoyed our drive up Lookout Mountain. Our first 3 Florida nights were in a nice cabin (as the photos show) at the Suwannee River State Park, where we did a lot of hiking along trails and boardwalks over sinkholes. Today we drove south 3 hours to Dover, near Tampa where we delivered our Great Blue Herons and set them up in front of Sheila's beautiful pond.