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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ocean Grove Part III

A good aspect of a week together is the small groupings that occur naturally.  Dan and R went for a walk, Jeff entertained A, M and J jumped the waves and rode their boogie board together.  Jeff and Dan had a good game of Scrabble, I played Ninja with J, and Katie, Laura and I went shopping at the nearby outlet mall.

Before we came, I tried to think of activities that everyone could do together.  The "Who is this beautiful baby?" activity was a big hit.  Thursday I organized a scavenger hunt in town.  S, R, and J helped me write the lists of eleven items each.  Dan, Katie, and M were their respective partners in finding things like a named statue or a blue house around the town, photographing it to give proof and returning within 45 minutes.  There was much excitement on the part of the three littler ones and the older ones really made it fun for everyone.

A theme of the week is "Where is A?" or "Who has A?"  He has learned to open the doors and the gate and he has strong opinions about food and bedtime.  He chats a lot and is pretty cute which is a very good thing!

 Each of the younger grandchildren  enjoys his or her own thing--R pretending, J writing, S on his screens, and A digging in the dirt. (Who needs beach sand?)  The older ones were patient about being away from home and friends for a week.

Beach time depends on the weather.  We have been able to get down there at least once a day.  That means crossing the street--what a great location Strandvue has been.  The waves have been large--large enough to knock me right over on Friday.  I did try the boogie boards on Thursday and rode a few waves in--not far.

Thursday was lobster, salmon and shirmp kabobs.  A feast every night!

 Friday night was taco night followed by an ice cream cake decorated for the ocean stay--and then followed by a fireworks show--lightening over the water.


More beach time today.  One last grilling meal and trying to finish what was left in the refrigerator--one last ice cream trip--and then a walk around the tabernacle to hear the Beach Boys in concert--just a song or two.

Sunday--The beaches are closed as always on Sunday morning.

We hope to be home by early afternoon on Monday.  It's been a great week thanks to all 12 of our very dear children, their spouses, and our grandchildren.  What a great way to celebrate our 50th anniversary!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ocean Grove Part II

All 14 of us under one roof--three storeys, six beds, a sofa bed, two blow-up mattresses--and we all fit in.  Meals-breakfast and lunch--are scattered.  Supper has been on the 1400 foot deck with ocean breezes and a great view of the busy strand. Strandvue was built in 1880.  The kitchen is very modern; the main floor has lovely stained glass windows and wooden trim.  The stairs are very creaky and it gets a bit shabbier as you go up the steps.  The bathrooms are modern, there is ample parking which is not a given in Ocean Grove, and the location couldn't be better.  There is no central air conditioning but we use our room unit briefly at night and then open windows and enjoy the breeze.

What did we do today?  Another early morning walk with A to the bakery, a Scrabble game with J and Jim, a walk with Dan and R, two loads of laundry,  pulled pork for lunch a day late, and time to read and nap. At 5:30 we had a photography session on the beach with Jessica whose gently put us in our places with a "Would you mind...?"  A threw a two year old tantrum because he did not want to wear a white shirt and then would not give up his pacifier.   Otherwise, the rest of us were mostly cooperative!

After the photography session, Michael brought out the Don Perignon 2006 champagne, and Laura toasted Grandpa and Grandma, also known as Mom and Dad, also known as Jim and Mary.  It was lovely and brought tears to my eyes.

We picked up pizza for supper--Dan suggeted kale and sausage which I enjoyed-and then Jim and I went to the Wednesday organ recital with Gordon Tuuk.  It was informal and fun and ended in a rousing riff on the Star-Spangled Banner complete with lights flashing on the American flag.  Tuuk got a standing ovation when we all caught on that it was the National Anthem.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ocean Grove Part I

We were on the road by 9:30 am Saturday and had an easy ride to Bedford, Pennsylvania arriving around 5 pm.  For years we have passed the Jean Bonnet Tavern along the Turnpike and I was curious!  So this year, I made a reservation and we drove a few miles along the Lincoln Highway for a wonderful dinner in an inn that had been there for 250 years.  My crabcake sandwich was the very best ever!  Afterwards we drove to town and enjoyed seeing the historic houses and churches.

Sunday: I really wanted to go to church after a somewhat stressful week.  Jim stayed at the motel, communing with RH Charles and one of his 1887 sermons.  I went to the Bedford Lutheran Church where I was warmly welcomed and felt God's word to me in liturgy, sermon, and the Eucharist.
Bedford Lutheran Church

We were the first ones to arrive at the Strandvue, our ocean front "cottage" with its 1880 marker.  We claimed the third floor turret room with its privacy and view.  The others arrived within the hour and we had a great spaghetti supper followed by the traditional Day's Ice Cream trip.

Katie's tomato salad
Monday: Before going to bed we used an hour of A/C with a noisy window unit and then we opened the windows to get the ocean breeze.  By morning it was almost cold.  We took S and A out for a very early breakfast treat and then the rest of the day was full of kid play,  reading, great eating, and some beach time.  We had a pretty hectic trip to Shop-Rite with a broken shopping cart with R riding and a sleeping A in the car and the difficulties of finding anything in a huge grocery store where there were shelves of Kosher meat and I wanted a pork roast for pulled pork.

Michael fixed a delicious steak dinner which we ate outside on the deck.  We made our nightly trip for ice cream.

I had prepared 14 numbered baby photos before we came, one of each of us copied in black and white. Everyone tried to decide who was who.  It was great fun making the choices and great fun reading the results.  The two moms, Laura and Susan, had perfect scores.  The dads--not so much. Jeff, our mathematician, had figured out the plurality scores, and they were correct except in the case of the three Conway boys whose baby photos were pretty similar!

Laura presented us with the Shutterfly albums she had made with photos of "Jim and Mary" from high school days to the present time.  A wonderful gift!

A the escape artist
Tuesday:   Another early morning trip to the downtown bakery this time with J and A.  We had to wait for it to open but it was worth the wait.

 It rained much of the day so Michael took the kids to a movie.  Jeff and Susan had to go back to Princeton for the second of their rabies shots (that's another story!).  There was plenty of quiet time until it came time to do supper and it was clear my effort at pulled pork was not going to be ready even after hours in the crock pot.  So we headed back to Shop-Rite, bought burgers and hot dogs, and went to work.

Dan arrived on the 6:16 train and we were all together for supper and ice cream.
Almost everyone at Day's for ice cream

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Discipline or the Lack Thereof

My ambitious read!
I need more discipline in my life.  Recently I finished a classic mystery by John McDonald, the first of his Travis McGee series.  It was well written and interesting but when I finished it, I felt degraded, unclean, and definitely not uplifted.  I like reading mysteries.  Michael Connelly in his very informative interview with USA Today's book editor said that folks read mysteries to think about what they would do in crucial situations.  I don't think that is true.  I read mysteries for escape and entertainment.  I like police procedurals.  I like mysteries set in interesting locations with quirky detectives.  But sometimes I feel as if I have really wasted my time and even if I have time to waste, it is not spent well in living with an evil side of life. (Unfortunately, even the news coming out of the White House is full of  degrading language--especially the now former Communications Director Scarmucci's vulgar diatribe against his colleagues,)

So I need more discipline in my reading.  The classics?  Biographies?  Memoirs?  And some mysteries chosen with a bit more care--not "cozy" mysteries however!

 I also need discipline in my eating.  I should lose 10 pounds for the threat of potential diabetes, for my joints, and for my appearance.  But I love to eat and I don't think I overeat.  So that means cutting out potato chips, chocolate, ice cream, alcohol.  Oh, no.  Not that too.  We already have stopped eating bread with supper and I have not had ice cream for dessert for three weeks.  My dear husband can indulge as he pleases and he gains nothing.  I dread the day I out weigh him!  It is not going to happen!

Exercise- I often get my 10,000 steps a day and my 30 minutes of walking.  I do eight minutes of back exercises each morning.  It's certainly not enough for weigh loss even if good for general health.

Prayer and Bible reading- I read the lectionary every morning--but far too quickly.   I pray at times during the day--and try to do so at night.  But my concentration is weak and my prayers can just be lists of people and thanksgivings.

My daughter is very disciplined about her exercise and her reading and her eating.  Jim is very disciplined as well.  He did comfort me today by wondering how important discipline is at my age.  I will ponder this further.  I hope we have a few years left and are not ready to give in totally.
This past Sunday our pastor preached on "self-control," one of the gifts of the Spirit.  She said it  could be called "Spirit-control" and gave specific ideas at the end of her sermon.  One was finding someone to be accountable to over your habits of eating, spending, use of time, or whatever. Another idea was fasting.

I decided to "fast" from constant looking at the news--especially the latest Trump tweets and the opinion pages reacting to him.  I deleted the News app from my iphone and that has helped!  The point of fasting is to give up something but to have more time for spiritual things. When I am tempted to read one more disturbing post, I should pray instead.  Another thing to ponder.

Friday, August 4, 2017

An Unusually Social Week or More

July 24--supper at Venturi's in Goshen with Jim's golfing partners for the afternoon.  There was lots of conversation waiting for a table and then in a noisy restaurant while eating our Neapolitan Pizzas.

July 25--lunch with the cousins in Hudsonville, Michigan. I blogged about this earlier.

July 27--supper at Chili's--our treat for a young family from our church--a great opportunity to get to know both the parents and the children better.

July 28--supper at the home of one of Jim's colleagues, also members of our church.  Joining us were our pastor and her family.  There were six little ones under the age of seven and we were still able to have a lovely dinner and good conversation.
Potato-corn-tomato salad

July 30--a cookout at our house with our neighbors after a golf outing for the gentlemen.  Jim cooked the burgers and we had a potato salad, green beans and a blueberry crisp dessert.  It was easy, casual and fun.

July 31--breakfast at our house with a young friend from church who wanted a listener.

August 1--the church's women's group met at our house.  Because it was rather a last minute plan, I made cookies with what I had in the house--butter, flour, sugar, and oatmeal.  It was no fuss and they went over well.  Five children played--mostly in the basement but sometimes in the midst of us!

August 3-- another cookout with almost the same menu with another family from church.  They contributed a great custard pie for dessert which had to be finished in our oven because they lost power.

August 4--lunch with a young couple at their home in anticipation of their wedding which we can't attend because we will be on vacation.  I brought beer bread and the leftover potato salad; they contributed a tomato salad and a spinach salad.  It was a feast!

Our life is rarely so full of eating with others so this is unusual enough to blog about.  I am thankful for friends--friends of all ages and mostly from our church.  It's good to have others enter into our lives and bring their joys and struggles.   Many of our closest friends have retired and moved away.  So if others don't object to the age gap, we certainly don't!

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Visit to the Snite

Mercato Stripes (Sloan 1984)
Tina, a high schooler in our church, had several works displayed at the Snite Museum of Art at Notre Dame after a three week internship there.  Her presentation gave me a reason to do what I have been meaning to do for a while--visit the Snite again.

New Mexico Skies (Higgins-1943)
Tina's works were right at the entrance.  I enjoyed seeing them and reading her helpful and thoughtful artist's statement.

A guard recognized me and we chatted for a while.  It was nice to feel welcomed even though I did resign from being a docent after my minimum of two years' service!  I had learned a lot about art and that was my goal.  I had tired of leading groups.   However,  I was interested today to note that the paintings that I taught most often were like old friends to me.
Edmond Dehodencq, The Artist's Son
(French mid-1800s)

I have taken photos of works I love in art musems in New York, Atlanta, San Antonio, Chicago, Oxford and other places and saved them in a Shutterfly album.   I had not taken photos of my favorites at the Snite so today I did just that.  As I was walking back to the car, I had the happy thought that I could blog about my visit and save the photos this way.

I have always loved the Higgins and the Sloan works.  As a docent,  I learned about and appreciated the Pingret and the Dehodencq portraits in the French gallery.

Diane de Poutier
 Receiving a Message from France

Cleopatra 50 BC Egyptian
Coronation of the Virgin
1460 German 
The wooden alterpiece with its worn colors intrigued me noting that it pre-dates Columbus's trip to the Americas.   I had not seen the Cleopatra bust and wonder if it is a new acquisition of a very old piece.

I need to make visits to our local art museums a regular habit--the Snite, the Midwest Museum of  Art in Elkhart, the South Bend Museum of Art downtown.  I will keep up my memberships in the Met and the Chicago Art Institute, but our local museums are a treasure too.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Stroo Cousins' Reunion and My Parents' Grave Sites

Yesterday, I woke up and felt energetic so I decided to join my cousins in Hudsonville, Michigan for a potluck lunch.  I put together a corn salad, bought some deli meats and cheese and headed north--a two hour drive to Hager Park.

There were nine cousins there and two spouses.   The cousins from Ontario and Texas were in the area and that gave us a reason to try to get together. Two cousins live in Washington and Florida and that was too far to come!  Two other cousins are caretakers for their spouses and were not there. I don't know about the other four.   It is pretty amazing that all 17 of us are alive and even reasonably healthy.   In some ways it is even more amazing, because the Stroo siblings, our parents,  almost all died at an early age.  My own mother died at age 59. Several spouses have died--two in the last year and a half.

There was lots of talking and laughter and lots of good food.  Leo had a camera, tripod, and timer so he took a few photos.  Jim had a never-used selfie stick in the car, so I encouraged him to get it out so I could give it a try.  It was a pretty funny scene--all of us seniors attempting a selfie!  You can see by the results that I was intensely concentrating on getting us all in and pressing the button and it never occured to me to smile!

There were questions to which there never will be answers.  How did Uncle Dan have a combat medal found in his possession after he died when he said he never was in direct combat?  Was he in the Battle of the Bulge?  Did Aunt Mattie ever harbor refugees in her basement in the Netherlands during WWII as some of us had heard?   So much we could have asked, but didn't.

There were also Dutch expressions I haven't heard for years--and for which we could not give English equivalents.  Can I dare to try to spell these?  Banout, rummel, sanukking, feise.  Maybe they are not even classical Dutch and are just "Yankee Dutch." (correction for two of them--"vies" defined as "dirty" and "Banauwd" defined as "stuffy"--neither definition really gets the full meaning!)

There was no political talk and that was best avoided.   I am quite sure that we have some very real differences of opinion on our present situation.  Sometimes I really want to have forthright discussions but that was not the time or place.

After our hugs and good-byes, I drove to the Georgetown Cemetery about a mile away to pay my respects at my parents' graves.   I could not find them.  My sister said she had been unable to find them earlier. I find the  idea of cremation for myself and for Jim a difficult and uncomfortable idea, but why should the money be spent and the land used for burial when even those closest to you cannot find your grave years later?  And for us, there would be no central place where anyone would come to find such a grave.  We might as well be cremated.  I did say to Jim tonight I hope that our ashes can be combined if we're not buried side by side.  Morbid?  It made me feel better.

Today, however, after some online searching, I think I could find those tombstones for my parents--among the more than 7000 at Georgetown Cemetery.  Next time I'll take a photo and at least preserve their memory in that way.  (242-E 1 and E2)

I am so glad I made the effort to make the trip.  It was good to see everyone at something other than a funeral--and sadly, there have to be more of those in the next several years.