Friday, March 27, 2015

Michigan Bunny

Some weeks ago we sent daughter Laura, who teaches fifth grade in Greensboro, a box containing this bunny basket. It was still cold and winter back then---even as it is today. The basket contains a little jingle I wrote. She said the kids in her class got a kick out of it.

The shivering Michigan Bunny
         a-hoppin’ through the snow
reckoned it not so funny
         to head for Greens-bor-O.

All the other rabbits
         laughed until they burst
but the one with healthy habits
         joined the classroom of Miz Worst.

            Compliments of
            the Worst family in Grand Rapids

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Back Home in Sunshine and Cold

Tradition: bagel, cream cheese, avocado, tomato
We arrived home from Biloxi and are back to our regular routine. Sorrow of the past week is beginning to shift into routine for everyone most affected, and there is certainly nothing wrong with routine. John and I love to travel and get away and see new sights, but we are most comfortable when we are in a daily routine. Biloxi is now tradition for us. We argued about that----how many times do we have to do something for it to be tradition. We go to Biloxi for a week every March (though this was only our third time). Does that now count for tradition? And when we go there we always do our traditional things, eating at the same restaurants (though we found a cool new one this year), biking in the same places, taking the same walks at night, picking up trash at the same park, and having our same picnic lunches. Here are some pics to prove it.
Tradition: same picnic park

Same turtles on same log

Same alligator every year

Same old trash

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Very Sad Days in Biloxi

Saturday afternoon we hit the road for Biloxi, arriving mid-afternoon on Sunday. We've biked, worked on the book, enjoyed wonderful seafood and have had beautiful sunny warm weather the entire time. We have 2 mothers, 97 and 99, so we are always conscious that a phone call may call us home early. The phone call came, but it was the last thing we ever could have expected, and much more devastating. Carlton called. His best buddy since high school had called him while Carlton was on his way to his house, telling him not to come, to go to the hospital instead. Carlton and he are like brothers, both best man for each other, and his kids are like Carlton's own; they are Kayla's younger brother and sister (their mother living at a distance and not terribly involved with them). We dearly love them. She, 13, had been air-lifted to the closest ER, having been stabbed multiple times by brother, 15. It's been all over the local news. She was in intensive care for 3 days and is now, at least physically, on the mend. He is in custody; charges against him are pending. Both kids were doing well at school; she's a champion soccer player, her dad the coach. The whole school community is devastated. My heart is breaking. I held them as babies (in fact, was at the hospital hours after she was born), ran after them as toddlers, have enjoyed seeing them grow up, and loved their bear hugs: Hi Mimi, how are you? Last year when we were in Texas in January, we had flooding in the basement at Carlton Gardens. Alex called, not knowing what to do. Both kids dropped everything to come and help, and, in fact, big brother, got right to the clogged drain and then as the water receded he helped get things up off the floor. How dearly I love those kids. Everything we do down here, every mile of biking, every walk on the beach, every meal, is clouded by the tragedy back home. Carlton and Kayla have been at the hospital almost around the clock, Carlton having canceled a work-related trip to California. There's nothing we could do if we returned home, though we will be leaving a day early, heading back first thing in the morning.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

St. Paddy's Day Decor

After we took down our Valentine's display with our 2 commodes, we decided to do honors to St. Patrick. Now that the snow is gone John decided to remove the commodes, commenting that it all looked real tacky. Imagine that! He didn't entirely prevail, however. The gnomes, flags, shamrocks, and flying pig are still on display.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A STAR is born!

On Thursday night we were in the front of an auditorium for a high school performance of "Run for the Money." Granddaughter Ashley did a superb job. In fact, comparing her with last year, she has made drastic improvement. She's so natural, loose as a goose, as though there's no audience at all------and funny! She really gets into it. We were all proud as peacocks.

We can't take snaps during the performance, so the only pics we got are these. My, what a beautiful young lady she is. NYC first and then Hollywood!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Giuliani Amusement

John and I are amused by the anti-Obama remarks by former NYC Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. They come at the very time that John is reading aloud  Lincoln by Pulitzer-Prize winning author David Donald. We are now on page 540, plowing through every detail of the 1864 campaign, waiting to find out if he wins. What is so shocking is the almost-unrepeatable anti-Lincoln rhetoric---horrible things said about him---and that from his own party, even after his nomination as the Republican candidate. So here we are in 2015 getting all up tight about a former mayor's rather ho-hum remarks about the president. What's new about Obama being a communist or not loving America? Didn't we all already know that! What has upset me most was to learn this about our President: "He doesn't love you. And he doesn't love me." It's very  painful to process this. And the truth is that I do trust the mayor. I actually mean that sincerely. He was the only one running the country for most of a week after 9-11, everyone else high in government having gone into bunkers.

Well, I suppose I'll get over it. I've simply got to get a grip on reality. Obama doesn't love me.

Here is the best book ever written on Abraham Lincoln. John is convinced he should be re-elected. I am not. We've had more than one dust-up over the issue. Now all we can do is wait and see.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Frigid Weather and a Mystery

On Sunday, despite the deep freeze and wind, John and I took a hike up-river, making our own path along the frozen wetland and woods. There is still open water, as is evident in front of our house, John looking out to the river. Yesterday afternoon when we got home from work, we bundled up and went back, taking clippers with us and cutting our way through the brush that had grown over since we had done it a couple of years ago. So now our hike extends further, and we'll keep taking our clippers. We've simply determined that we won't hide out in the house during sub-zero temps. What I like most about this winter is the sunshine, reminds me of childhood in northern Wisconsin.

The mystery relates to the snow man out on the ice. How did anyone dare to walk out there? Maybe the person slipped through thin ice and the body will turn up near Lake Michigan in the spring. Hope not.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Valentine's Display

So Carlton is installing some new commodes for  his rentals and he leaves 2 old ones out front in our yard at the house---a nice surprise when we arrived home on Saturday. He always thinks we have a use for what he is throwing out. Fortunately we have a large trash container that gets picked up every week, so some of his stuff goes there. As to his latest gift, we brought them to the Gardens and set them out front, and as I told our partner Alex, VERY TASTEFULLY DONE.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Odds and Ends

Hard to believe that we've been home from Texas 2 weeks, the days flying by always with too much to do. Last week I got word from my editor that the book I had submitted on the last day of December does not have proper citations. I think the publisher is being way too picky for a non-academic book, and I tried to argue that no one doing a Ph.D. dissertation is going to use my volume as a source. But my opinion doesn't necessarily count for much when it comes to putting out the final product.

We went to see the movie Selma last week, thought it very good and a valuable history lesson. Then this week went to the Civic Theatre downtown to see Mousetrap. John and I had both seen it in London some 30 years ago. Who knows, we could have been at the same show.

Yesterday afternoon when we arrived home, we found a package in the mail from a former colleague of John's at Calvin. What a nice surprise---a CD of the faculty quartet some 4 decades ago (known around campus as 3 johns and a sink; Carl's last name is Sinke). It was a real treat for me since I'd never heard John sing high tenor, and he came through so clearly in his great-voice days. My only disappointment was that these were all fairly sober songs. He tells me they did bang-up harmony on "Elvira" and some of the other old country and pop tunes, but this CD was from a chapel service, though it did feature some lively gospel.

It's been a cold month around here but not much snow. The best news is that the river is near a record low for this time of year. We're not getting giddy yet, but certainly hope that this might point to a year without a flood.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Good Bye Big Bend, Hello Abilene!

Even though it was cold and cloudy much of our stay, this was our best time ever at the park, mostly because we stayed 5 nights and hiked 6 days, though today only until noon. A chance remark to a volunteer ranger yesterday afternoon led to a discussion of a remote area we had never before visited, and this morning we got up early, packed the car and drove the 35 miles to Ernst Tinaja. What a spectacular canyon and pools. We also did some hiking at Boquillas Canyon along the Rio Grande River. We left as the weather was turning warm, promising to be back again next year. Tonight we're staying at a nice Quality Inn in Abilene and hope to make it home by early Sunday afternoon. The stranger in this pic is Barb, a real inspiration to us. We met her at Balanced Rock yesterday. She's 75 and has a serious lung disease that she contracted from cleaning the cages of her late husband's racing pigeons. She hadn't realized that the dust was getting into her lungs, and now has to carry oxygen with her, but refuses to quit hiking---had come to Big Bend all the way from Utah.

Here I am at the pool of Cattail Falls

At Ernst Tinaja
John at Ernst Tinaja

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Five Days at Big Bend

John at Window, a long walk below Lodge
Tomorrow we head home after 5 wonderful days of strenuous hiking at the tip of Texas. We're staying at the Basin Lodge, and every spare minute I spend writing on another book. The final decision to offer me a contract came by email on the second day we were here. I emailed back that I was willing to accept the advance they offered and the deadline date. I was expecting the contract offer and had been working on the computer as John drove most of the way down. Here are some pics of us in the Park.

Lunch on our 9-mile hike up to the Meadows and Boot

Well worth the arduous hike--the BOOT!

John studying the petroglyphs out at the Chimneys

Frost along the roadway

Mid-morning break at Mule Ears Spring

Beaver enjoying a meal at Santa Elena Canyon

Remains of an old ranch house near the Canyon

Yours truly at Balanced Rock

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A Sad Day

The news of the terrorist attack on a newspaper office in France, killing 12, prompted a slew of tributes---all over the internet. Here is one from my dear friend Sarah McIntyre, a Brit, and a noted cartoonist.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A Week of Family Gatherings

Last Friday evening we met Sarah, John and the kids at Meijer Gardens for their Christmas event and ate together in the cafe; the weather was good and we had a great time walking around the grounds and along the boardwalk. Then on Monday afternoon we drove to Saginaw to see my brother David, Sharon, their kids and families on the occasion of the death of Sharon's mother. On Tuesday, after John visited his mother and mother-in-law, he went to another funeral home to pay his respects to his brother-in-law on the death of his mother. Today, we visited John's mom, and this evening had dinner with Kayla and Ariel preparing chicken and fixings at the condo. Carlton joined in. On Saturday, we will be going to John's first in-law's family for a late Christmas gathering, and next week we will be hosting John's sister Mary and taking grandson Mitch out to dinner to launch him on his second semester of college.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Three Super Grandkids

Mitch and Zach are great looking guys but WOW what a looker is ,our Ashley. I first knew her at 5, Zach 3, and Mitch, now a college freshman, was 8. Ashley, heading for sweet 16, was assistant stage manager for her fall high school drama performance. She'll be on center stage this spring playing Darla Jane. Zach loves sports every season of the year. Mitch says he's studying real hard at the university, working part-time at his uncle's business painting walls. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

December 26 Sunrise

Only in their dreams and in Bing Crosby's rendition did Grand Rapids folks get a white Christmas. But after last year we'll take sunny days and green grass any time it comes our way in late December. We had a great time hosting our kids, grandkids and extended family on Christmas Eve and enjoyed a lazy day at our downtown condo after sleeping in----then returned to the river yesterday afternoon. Today we're back at the Gardens expecting a relatively quiet day which is nice after the Christmas rush. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thanksgiving Past

Life is on the fast track, a lot happening since Thanksgiving, though no snow shoveling. Today it's sunny and we're looking out at green lawns. We made a quick trip to sister Kathy's in Evansville over Thanksgiving, and as usual, she set before us a delicious meal.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


I was surprised to see this map showing that much of the snow dump has been squarely on us. Typically the lake shore and the SW corner get the big snow falls.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Back Ache and SNOW shoveling

Can't believe I actually titled my last post "Lovin' Snow." My love affair is over. Slightly shy of 30 inches almost non-stop has put a damper on things. But I see on the news that Buffalo has more than 6 feet of it and try to put my situation into perspective.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lovin' Snow

Earlier this week I took these pictures at the Gardens. Much of our yard art has been placed inside, but the trees and trails looked so beautiful with a fresh snowfall. I had forgotten, after last year's record cold and snow, how much I love winter days. Can't wait to get out cross-country skiing again.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fun in Greensboro

We had beautiful weather and a great time with Laura and Bob. Arrived Friday afternoon and Saturday morning went to the nearby living history celebration at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park where Nathaniel Green fought the Redcoats in the Revolutionary War, paving the way for victory at Yorktown and the end of that awful war. Here I am making nice to a Morgan military horse. 
In the afternoon we enjoyed sunshine on their boat, then went out for a belated birthday dinner celebration for Laura and came home to a nice little fire on the back patio. We drove home Sunday in a record 12 hours, now back to work and getting everything at the Gardens ready for winter.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

On the Road Again

Yesterday we left home early and spent the day driving, some of the time through hard rain--our destination Gatlinburg, Tennessee, now staying our second night in this beautiful little town. Here is a morning view of our river front before we left, though we imagine we'll be coming back to snow. Alex, as usual, is covering the Gardens and watching the house. We come down this way every year to attend the Smokey Mountains Gift Show. After going to 2 shows this morning we hiked in the park.  Below we are at Spruce Falls where we had our lunch, and on the way back snapped some risk-taking kayakers.