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Friday, July 12, 2019

Another Week in New Jersey (and New York)

Saturday--Getting a Princeton Library card was a big step for me in belonging here.  However, because our apartment is just over the line from Mercer County and in Middlesex County, I had to pay the senior rate of $75.  It will be worth every bit of that!

I braved Route One by myself and did a bit of recreational shopping.  Nordstrom Rack was a mess but I did buy a comfortable top.  Sadly, my arthritic hip suddenly hit me with pain and I cut the shopping trip short--only to find myself heading south to Trenton on Route One instead of north to Homewood Suites.  It took a few miles but I got turned around.  I blame the jug turns and the construction and the overwhelming Saturday afternoon traffic!

Sunday we worshiped at Nassau Presbyterian Church and happened to end up in the pew with our good friends the Moorheads.  I was glad to be there but I found myself missing the warmth and fellowship and music of our church--and I will need to stop calling it "our church" in South Bend.  Jeff and Susan had us over for a supper of grilled chicken and baked potatoes.

Monday was a day of accomplishments in getting doctors' appointments for new patient physicals, re-routing pension and social security checks, changing addresses, and for Jim, still more conference calls with TIAA and our ND Private Member Group with Michael Schultz, one of our advisers. We spent most of the morning on the phone or online.

In the evening we had a lovely dessert and visit with Martha Himmelfarb and her husband Steven Weiss.  Jim knows Martha from their professional interests and she is the one who arranged library privileges for him at Princeton.  Steven is an artist and had some fine work displayed in their 1880 home--a block off Nassau Street.

Tuesday we purchased beds and paraphernalia from Princeton Mattress Shop where I think we got overwhelmed by the owner; however it did save us from any more shopping!  We arranged for xfinity hookups and then treated the Moorheads to dinner at On the Border courtesy of gift certificates from my Bible study friends in South Bend.

Wednesday Jim golfed nine holes at Meadows at Middlesex which I assume was a big step in making him feel more at home.  We were able to see our apartment for the first time and it looked lovely and spacious.  I fixed chicken stir-fry for Jeff and Susan and James at their house.  The sad part of a good day was that we hit one of the omnipresent deer when two of them bounded into the road from the Delaware Raritan Canal into the woods.  We hit a fawn and it went limping off.  We were sick about it but Susan comforted us by saying that they are called Jersey Rats around here.

On the A train

Thursday we took New Jersey Transit to NY Penn Station and the A Line to Brooklyn where we stayed in a Hilton for $3.50 thanks to all those Hilton credit card points!  We treated Dan and Alex to dinner at Rucola's for Dan's 35th birthday.  The restaurant definitely had what Alex called Brooklyn Vibe--it was noisy, crowded and expensive and Jim and I had to be twice the age of most of its patrons.  We had umbrellas but got very wet anyway as we walked the half mile back to our hotel.  We shared a bottle of wine there where we could hear each other talk!  At the beginning of the trip I wondered if we still had the energy to handle Uber, trains, subways, hotels, crowds, etc.  But we did it and enjoyed it!

We're back at Homewood Suites now.  Tomorrow we get the keys to our apartment and next Wednesday we hope to have our furniture as well and then our time of transition will be over!

Fulton Street Ad

"Unparalleled Parking" 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Five Days In New Jersey

When we finally had a chance to greet our very busy 15 year old grandson Michael after his jazz concert, he said, "Welcome to New Jersey!"  It was a thoughtful thing for him to say and the truth is we have felt welcomed.

On Monday, our first night here, Jeff fixed shish-ka-bobs on the grill and they were delicious. The next morning we spent an hour at PNC with Carmen who helped us sign up for credit cards and get the routing straight on our accounts  Then on to McCaffrey's for groceries where Jackie, the cashier, told us she lived at Barclay Square.  So we have met a neighbor.  Plus, unknown to us, Tuesdays are 5% off for senior citizens.

The drawers come open
all by themselves!
Monday and Tuesday nights hotel noises bothered my sleep.  Tuesday was the worst with snoring sounds coming from the next room and then loud conversation  at 4:30 am!  I'm not good with noise and I was tired of temporary homes!

Wednesday evening we had dinner at a pleasant Italian restaurant housed in a building form 1689 but to our surprise it was BYOB; lemonade with meatballs just didn't seem right.  We will have to watch out for that NJ and Pennsylvania surprise.  However, Michael's jazz concert at the Chesterfield Green was wonderful.  It was a trial run for their 12 day tour of Switzerland and northern Italy.

We left for Ocean Grove around 1:00 on Thursday, the 4th of July.  The  little ones were excited to see us and there were lots of "Grandma, .....this or that" all afternoon.  Beach time was with thousands of others on the 4th.  Supper was hot dogs and hamburgers with a fine experiment of Mexican corn.

 After supper, Jasper said he wanted to talk.  He was eager to hear more about Grandpa Vander Molen and his WWII experiences--a curiousity instilled by all the D-Day celebrations.   Jim remembered that Grandpa worked with  General Van Vliet; Michael was impressed when he did a bit of research on him on his phone.

Fireworks at Asbury Park were dramatic and easily seen from our front yard.

As always two years ago in the same third floor cupola room, we slept soundly in spite of the heat and close conditions.

Except for Ruth the kids were not awake early so we had to wait a bit for our traditional bakery trip.  There was more beach time later in the morning and after lunch, we headed back to Princeton.

Our supper was not a disaster but it was not good.  The burners do not get hot enough even to make a grilled cheese sandwich.   Either there is something wrong with the burners or I need to give up on trying to cook anything here. I tried not to think about the lobster tails Michael was grilling at the beach!

 We will see how the next week and a half develop.  We are going to be happy to use our own things in our own place.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Long Goodbye

I don't think I have read Raymond Chandler's book The Long Goodbye but I keep thinking of that title as a good one for our life this last month.

I have had  breakfast or lunch or coffee with five different friends this month.  I need my women friends and I hope I find new ones.

 We have taken friends out for dinner twice and others have taken us out five times.  That meant two trips to Villa Macri, one each to Carmela's, The Emporium, Cafe Navarre, LaSalle Grille, and a new restaurant for us--Jesus Tequila Bar and Grill.

We met cousins for lunch at Russ's in Wyoming, Michigan where 14 of us gathered from Northern Michigan, Ontario, and the greater Grand Rapids area.  We had coffee and dinner with Jim's sisters and their spouses on that same day.

Our church friends hosted a wonderful open house at the Baxter-Banga residence where we shared many memories and hugs.

For Jim and me, that was a lot of sociability in one month! And a lot of good eating!

This week begins a new kind of sociability.  We had dinner at Jeff and Susan's last night.  Tomorrow we hope to go to an outdoor jazz concert to hear grandson Michael play and then on the 4th we will join Laura and Michael and their family in Ocean Grove.  Dan and Alex plan to come too--and maybe even the Princeton VKs.  We hoped to see our family more and this week we are doing just that! And that is the joy of this move.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Thinking Ahead

In one month, we should be into our own apartment.  No more Airbnb or Homewood Suites.  We hope!  The time frame for unloading in Princeton is July 15-18.

I find myself thinking about our familiar furniture in an unfamiliar place.  Our comfortable reclining sofa and love seat.  Our Amish dining room table and hutch.  The wicker table and chairs--not even sure where that will fit in.  The sturdy cherry bedroom furniture we bought used 52 years ago!  We have seen the floor plan but not the actual apartment.

And then the stuff we need to buy--a new bed, a storage unit-bench for the bottom of the steps, and lots of book shelves.

But probably more importantly, I wonder what our lives will be like.  No medical emergencies I hope--at least until we find doctors.  How often will we see Jeff and Susan living just four miles away?  And Laura and Michael and their busy little ones an hour away if traffic is light?   How about Dan and his friend Alex a train ride and subway (or Uber)  ride away in Brooklyn? Jeff and Susan will be easy; the others will take more energy and planning.

Jim will have work to do including a book contract that just came through today.  Where will I find an organ to practice?  There's a fine grand piano in the clubhouse.  A place to volunteer?  Maybe an adult who can't read again or work at another local library.  I have always needed and been blessed with good women as friends.  Who will they be and where will I find them?  I'll have to get my back healed before I can have walking buddies again.

Most of all I hope we have many years together on this adventure.  We know that can't be taken for granted either.  So we pray for God's blessing daily.

Friday, June 14, 2019

A Wedding Recorded--52 Years Later

I was sure our wedding ceremony had been recorded but the tape was missing.  Then, as a process of this move, I found five tapes in the top of a closet.  One was not in a package; four were unlabeled.

I brought the tapes to the 304 room at the St. Joseph Public Library and the first technician asked, "What are these?"  A second one told her they were reel-to-reel tapes but told both of us that they had no player for listening to them.

So what does one do next?  Go to Facebook and ask for help.  `Our daughter-in-law Susan thought her dad might have one somewhere.  A former neighbor linked me to an audio service that charged $30 each to see what was on them.  Our house buyer and now a new Facebook friend sent me notice of an estate sale here in South Bend that had a tape recorder for sale.

On Friday morning I drove south of town in a heavy rain and made a visit to an estate sale.  The ranch style house was full of stuff--books, dishes, lamps, and furniture.  I was led to a tiny den with a very old recorder with a tape still in it.  We checked to see if it worked and yes, it did, as a man's voice emerged from its speakers.  But it was $35-not the possibly $10 I expected.  I offered $20 but was told that there could be no bargaining until the last day of the three day sale.  I called Jim who said he wouldn't get it but I could do what I pleased.  I called Susan who said she had forgotten to ask her dad about it during her weekly call.

So what did I do?  I had never bought anything from an estate sale in my life, but I bought it--especially keeping in mind that I had just spent $35 treating a friend to breakfast.

It was incredibly heavy so a gentleman carried it to our car.  When the rain stopped hours later, Jim carried it upstairs to our apartment.  And then the struggle began to get it running and to find what was on the unpackaged mysterious tape.  I heard organ music and was optimistic.  After going forward and backward some, we found Flor Peeter's "The Lord's Prayer" sung by our friend Boyd Mackus.  Then we heard Jim's dad introducing us as Mr. and Mrs. James Vander Kam.  I was in tears.  It was so clear.   A long lost important object in our lives was found.

We had dinner plans but when we got home, we skipped the first half of the NBA finals and rewound some more tape to hear Boyd singing "Whither Thou Goest" and to hear our vows.  We had wondered for years if I had promised to obey but....I did not!  We heard the beautiful prayer from the church's form for marriage ending in the hope of our celebrating the marriage of Christ and his church someday in heaven.

How appropriate for us right now to hear Ruth's words sung--"Whither thou goest, there will I go also"--as we make the 8th big move in our married lives.  And how good to hear our vows "for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in joy or in sorrow; in sickness and in health.''  We have experienced all of those.   And how grateful we both are to listen to these words together almost 52 years later.

--------------David Banga digitalized the tape for us and sent it to us as an attachment to an email.  And the tape recorder went to Matt Wynn at the 304 Room at the St. Joseph County Public Library who said he would cherish it!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Decompressing or Adjusting to Life in an Airbnb

We have been in our new home at 1412 Ivy Court for seven days and six nights.  I am restless after having so much to do the last several weeks.  There is no more packing to do and no more things to give away or throw away--at least until June 28 and 29 when we try to fit everything into our car.

Jim has plenty to do with two doctoral dissertations to read and four papers to write for the next academic year plus his book projects.   He also is being very disciplined about getting 10,000 steps but it is hard for me to keep up with him with my sore back and knees.  And there have been a few golf outings too!

Signs of wear and
needs for repair
I spent some time today and yesterday going through my recipes and purging them.  Cooking is not easy here.  My attempt at a hamburg-kidney bean dish was frustrating with dull knives, no cutting board, a can opener that took great strength to use, no large frying pan, etc.  We're better off eating hamburgers, BLTs, tuna melts, etc.  We do have six suppers scheduled with friends and there probably will be more yet before we leave.

A great place
for happy hour
We have learned how to use the microwave, the toaster oven, the dishwasher, the washer and dryer, and the TV remotes.  We have learned that the very noisy motorcycle traffic in the evening does stop in the later hours.  We go back to sleep after the dumpsters are noisily emptied at 5:22 AM.  The air conditioner makes an awful racket but we can open windows at night and the air is cool.

I am continuing to volunteer a few hours at the libraries and will play the organ this Sunday for Pentecost.  That gives me a few activities and of course, there is always blogging to help us remember this time of transition.  I need to sit quietly and enjoy this unscheduled, unbusy time!

--------------I found a cutting board on a top shelf of a cupboard but I had already spent all of $4 at the Dollar Tree store on a mop, a cutting board, a few sponges, and a spatula. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Closing and Opening

Saturday, June 1, was our last day on Deerfield Loop.  We spent the morning vacuuming and cleaning out cupboards with the help of Linda, our cleaner.  By noon, we had the car packed for the first time and headed to 1412 Ivy Court, Apartment A-5, to begin our month in our Airbnb.

First problem--getting the lock box open to get the key out to open the door.  The pass code was correct but what did push down and then up mean?  I eventually got the box open and we went in.  We decided immediately it would be just fine for our home for a month.

Then we were back to loading the car two more times and many, many trips up to the second floor apartment.  I counted 11 for me; Jim made many more.  How could we have so much stuff still to be moved?  We had lots of food from the refrigerator, freezer and shelves.  We had clothes for the summer.  We had projects to work on (Jim's research, my going through cookbooks and stuff to be digitalized at the library).  And at the end of purging and packing, it just got to be easier to take it with us and think about it later.  We were exhausted at the end of the day.

Naturally enough an Airbnb near Notre Dame is full of ND decor.  I think I counted 10 ND posters or paintings.  We can hear the horns on the playing fields for summer camps.  The place is clean and quiet and well-equipped.  It is a bit shabby and worn and the trucks come to empty the dumpsters every morning at 5:30 am!  It will make our new home in Princeton seem even more luxurious.

First rose at Deerfield
Loop--last one for us
Yesterday we went back to Deerfield Loop  to clean up a few more areas.  The buyers, Chip and Virginia, came just before we left for their last walk-through.  Their littlest son headed straight for the basement and the toys.  It has been a joy to have a family that is really happy with our (now their) house.   We all
have considered this process to truly be a blessing.

The closing proceeded well.  We had already signed papers last week.  We picked up our check later in the afternoon and celebrated at the Oaken Bucket sitting on the patio by the river on a lovely evening.

Jim reading Hebrew--a routine kept
in our new home
Chip emailed later in the evening to say the boys were happy with the treasures we had left for them; he mentioned an arrowhead, coins, and a K'nex tower.  So they managed to move in yesterday.

One very big step is done in this process.  The next big step will be figuring out how to get our stuff to Princeton in one car load, then two weeks at Homewood Suites and then--508 Barclay Boulevard!