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.

Friday, March 09, 2018

February Travels

Camera and computer issues have delayed this photo journal that we so often go back to for reminders of what we've been doing and where we've been. Here is John at our favorite Florida State Park, Suwannee River just south of the Georgia Border. Also walking-distance from that park our favorite place to have Sunday dinner!

From there we traveled south and picked up Carlton, Kayla and Ariel at the Punta Gorda Airport and went on to Fort Myers where we spent a great 4 days visiting all our memories from the past when we used to go there every winter. Seeing the mama wild boar with her babies was a highlight during one of our many hikes.

From there we went to Wilmington, NC where we visited our dear friend (former business partner and renter) for 2 days, staying at the Best Western Plus on the Cape Fear River boardwalk. What fun catching up with her and remembering all our wonderful times together. She was doing well despite recent neck surgery.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Health Warning

Today's Sunday edition of The Grand Rapids Press had an article by Bryce Airgood on a flu outbreak at nearby Davenport University. I just emailed him with this message:

Hello Bryce,

You say in your article on the flu that "hospitals . . . ask visitors who are sick . . . to stay home [that visitors, among other things, should not have] . . . draining sores, vomiting or diarrhea . . . [and that such people should not visit] until further notice."

Will you please let the public know when these West Michigan hospitals give "further notice" that visitors with "draining sores, vomiting and diarrhea" are welcome back? Word on the street is that hospital stays make a person sicker. No wonder.

Ruth Tucker

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Big Bend 2018

Last week's annual trip to hike in Big Bend National Park in Texas on the Rio Grand Border with Mexico was different from any other such trip we have ever had. In November John had hip replacement surgery due to a congenital condition, and in December he had a heart attack that was not diagnosed until about 10 days later at which time a stent was inserted to open an entirely blocked artery. So our hikes were not quite as rigorous as usual---fewer steep inclines. But we had a wonderful time and already have a cottage reservation for January 2019. Here is John with Sarah, John and the kids before our trip South. I've captioned the remaining pics except for the last. Too bad I don't have a good camera---or just an iphone. This was the most stunning rainbow we have ever seen---saw it on our way out of Big Bend after we had crossed Hwy 90. The sky was a very dark navy blue, the rainbow brighter than we had ever witnessed, but the most amazing aspect was that it touched the ground hardly more than a football field away. A white trailer was parked nearby in a field, and the rainbow touched the ground in front of it so that it colored the trailer. I've seen many rainbows in my life, but they've all appeared to be on the horizon.
Pedernales State Park, Texas

Big Bend Basin Rim Trail

Big Bend, Grapevine Hills

Monday, January 01, 2018

"Loving Vincent"

We celebrated the New Year by going to a movie----one of the best we've seen in recent years. Some reviewers panned the animation, but we found that to be the genius of the film-----very Van Gogh like animation, a brilliant concept that worked perfectly. We both really loved it. Not only were the actors in Van-Gogh-like animation but also all the scenery. It was as though you were looking through the very eyes of Van Gogh as he painted.Loving Vincent.png

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Compassion International

Some years ago John and I decided to research charities, and instead of giving smaller amounts to a lot of organizations, we decided to give larger amounts to fewer. One of the highest rated charities we found was Compassion International. It turns out that Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, who are on tour giving Christmas Concerts, have chosen that charity through the years to sponsor. Their concert in Grand Rapids, capacity crowd at Van Andel Arena, was a benefit and we were given complimentary tickets, invited to a reception AND an opportunity for a picture with the music stars. So here we are.

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.