Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Life with a Ten-Year-Old

 Our granddaughter came to visit for two nights and one full day.  It was a joy to have her here.  We had hoped to have a dinner at On the Border with both of our granddaughters--but the older one sadly developed Covid.  This was a great disappointment for Grandpa and Grandma and the younger one.  But it did mean that R was able to eat pasta for lunch and for supper--one of her favorite foods.

We had wondered how we would entertain R.  We had a large container of wine corks for crafts.  I had researched some ideas on Pinterest.  We inquired about getting her a pass to swim in our apartment pool. And we knew R would have ideas of her own.

It rained much of the day so swimming was not an option.  R made three cork families as a gift for her little brother. So who needs Pinterest?  She wanted to make a bunny cake for him too.  Amazingly as soon as he saw us on Sunday, he said "bunny cake" as he remembered a highlight of our Easter visit.  So we put together the two circle pans in preparation for finishing them up with his supervision today when we brought her home.

Two grandchildren and
a friend

A highlight of our time together was our Dollar Tree visit.  We gave R $5 to spend as she wished and that took some serious shopping time and decisions.  Her first choice was a Get Well card for her nanny who had just broken her foot. I thought that was so dear of her.  She had been very concerned about her nanny.  She bought some candy and a pretty creepy looking doll head with hair that could be styled.  As the Dollar Tree's prices are now all $1.25 that almost was enough.  Plus her grandpa and grandma thought maybe a time limit on shopping was advised!  We gave her a bit of change for the tax and that created a topic for conversation on the way home.  What are taxes?  What are they for?  

Another query R had was about our financial status.  If we were no longer working and getting paychecks, how were we paying for things?  So we tried to explain social security, pensions, and savings and assured her we were doing just fine.  We were not broke and had all we wanted and more.

We watch CBS Evening News almost every night but decided we were not wanting to watch it with a ten year old.  We did not want to see the violence of shootings or the war in Ukraine or try to explain "reproductive freedom" to a child.  

It caused great amusement when I called her by her older cousin's name at least four times.  It was just stuck in my head.  Jim said he did it once too.  It was a great visit and we are so grateful for a loving precious granddaughter.  

Friday, June 24, 2022

January 6 Select Committee Hearings I-V


Men from
Attorney General's 
There will be no hearing today--and no more in June.  There should be a few more in July after the committee of legislators does its groundwork.  The five hearings have been surprisingly dramatic.  I expected to be bored and I was not.  I feel like  withdrawal is taking place for me today--I am looking for my adrenaline fix of another hearing! 

The hearings have been  conducted in a sober, restrained fashion. However, they were choreographed like a TV documentary with live interviews interspersed with videotaped ones. There were no representatives trying to speak over others or to argue points.  The main reason for this is probably because Kevin McCarthy wanted Republicans to boycott the committee so the only two Republicans on it were Representatives Kinsinger and Cheney, both of whom voted to impeach Donald Trump.  Both of whom have been called RINOs, Republicans in Name Only.  So there is no cross-examination of witnesses.  But that is the choice McCarthy made. 

The focus of the hearings is to show that Donald Trump was told by his aides and others and knew that he had lost the election but went ahead with any means possible to gain a second term anyway. Some are calling it an attempted coup.   Almost every witness (and they all solemnly swore an oath not to commit perjury) was a Republican--from a conservative Judge Luttig to an aide to Vice-President Pence to Attorney Generals and acting Attorney Generals (Engel, Rosen, Donoghue) appointed by Trump himself.  Some witnesses referred to their days starting with prayer or getting a call from the White House when in the driveway after returning from church.  One quoted Ronald Reagan in his testimony.  One said he wanted Trump to win but could not break his oath to the Constitution to make that possible.  These were not so-called liberal Democrats!  There was dramatic footage of the January 6 insurrection with rioters looking for Vice President Mike Pence shouting "Hang Mike Pence." Two black election workers from Georgia emotionally recounted that Trump targeted them by name (Lady Ruby Freeman and her daughter) and caused danger for them.  

The committee does not have the ability or mandate to indict anyone.  They hope to create a report that will prevent such an insurrection from ever happening again and to clarify the electoral college process so that no one is tempted to think that one person, namely the vice-president, can do anything but record the certified electors.  The Department of Justice has asked to see the transcripts of all the interviews and it is their job to bring indictments.  

These hearings are such an important story but they were completely usurped in tonight's newscasts by the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe vs. Wade today.  

Monday, June 13, 2022

Not Just in My Little World

I have been writing about our day to day life, our family events, and my reading--which takes up too much of my time.  But so much is happening in the world beyond our apartment walls and it is disturbing and sad and should be recorded.  

Covid continues to be a factor in life.  Our son related that his office mate tested positive.  Our grandson came home from a high school trip in which a few classmates and a staff member tested positive.  Inflation is at record highs which may have many causes but one is certainly covid supply chain issues.  We continue to wear our masks in public.  

The war in Ukraine has gone on for over 100 days.  It shows no sign of ending soon and the fear is of escalation.  Ukraine is begging for more weapons.  If there are more provided that threaten Russia, how will Russia retaliate?  The sad thing is that the horrors of war are not even the lead stories lately. People in Ukraine are suffering so much loss. 

The lead stories have been the unbelievable gun violence in many places. One of the worst was the supermarket shooting in Buffalo, New York which was racially motivated.  And then with even worse carnage, 19 children and 2 teachers were killed in a 4th grade classroom in Uvalde, Texas--a name that will live in infamy like Sandy Hook or Columbine.  There are some signs that Congress will pass minimal gun safety laws--laws that could have saved lives if passed long ago.

And then there are the January 6 hearings televised this week with 20 million viewers for the first one during prime time.  This morning there was another at 10 am and there will be several more.  The Congressional panel called on several members of Donald Trump's staff to show that he was told emphatically that he had lost the election. He however continued to say he won and to encourage the violence of the insurrection we witnessed on January 6. When I despair about the future of our democracy, I try to remember that in the wee hours of January 7, Joseph Biden was confirmed as our next president by Congress and a courageous and bold Mike Pence, the vice-president in charge,  and that he was inaugurated on January 20 without incident.  

 The point of these hearings is to ensure that such an attempted coup will never happen again.  Whether criminal charges for people in government will ensue is uncertain.  Hundreds have been indicted among the rioters and some have pleaded guilty.   Others are being tried in jury or bench trials.  Some nominees for offices are still looking for Trump's endorsement and are continuing to say the election of President Biden was stolen.  Hearing Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr say that he told then President Trump that his saying he won was nonsense--actually he put it more forcefully in graphic, crass language-- has been so honest and revealing. 

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Reading and Writing Memoirs


I read two memoirs this week.  The contrast between the two books and the two lives was great.  The first one was titled Bookends and was written by Zibby Owens.  It was offered as a free download through Amazon Prime and was billed as an account of how reading was a help through a life of losses.  Zibby took care not to write about her first marriage and divorce out of consideration for her family and her four children.  But she wrote about several other traumas in her life--the loss of a very good friend when the planes hit the World Trade Center along with other deaths of friends and family.  The losses continued to the present time when the mother and grandmother of the new love in her life died of Covid.  Zibby struggled to find her role in life but ends with an upbeat chapter about her podcasts, publishing firm, and the new love in her life.  Her book was exhausting to read.  She admits that she does everything fast.  Her present husband says things can unfold organically without pressure so that may slow her down!  I hope that she does find peace and happiness.  

The second memoir was called Chasing the Wind and was by Pastor Douglas Brouwer.  I had read Pastor Brouwer's post on the 12Blog (Reformed Done Daily) on Sunday when the short biographical note mentioned his memoir.  I downloaded it also from Amazon paying a minimal amount.  Douglas Brouwer wrote about his long career as a pastor.  He wrote with great honesty about his regrets and about what he called the "holy bits." Unlike Zibby's life in a wealthy NYC mileau,  I could identify with much about his life.   He was raised in a Dutch immigrant community as we were, attending a Christian Reformed Church as we did, graduating from Calvin College as we did a few years later, and then going to Princeton Seminary and becoming ordained in the Presbyterian Church.  As we now live in Princeton and worship in a Presbyterian Church next to campus that also rang famliar to me. 

I emailed Pastor Brouwer to thank him for his book and he responded with gratitude  saying it was the kind of response every author wants for his writing.  From his response, I found even more points of contact in our lives.  I may have been his brother-in-law's 6th grade teacher in Grand Rapids, Michigan--but that remains to be seen.  When you are raised in a fairly closed community, that tends to happen! 

Both writers inspired me to look for a document I had begun writing last year with my 10 year old granddaughter in mind.  She had asked questions about how her grandpa and I met.  Her older brother had just asked recently about our earliest memories.  It took a bit of searching but I found the document on my laptop and wrote some more on it adding a few photos.  

As I wrote, it brought back more memories as I wondered what might interest our grandchildren.  A TV with just three channels to choose from?  A telephone "party line" with our next door neighbor listening into our conversations? A doctor making a house calls to a sick child?   The threat of polio?  

It made me wonder how my parents survived financially when my father spent a year in a Veteran's Hospital when I was four years old.  How did they survive emotionally without long distance phone calls and email possibilities?  Friends and family drove my mother the three or more hour ride to see him in the VA hospital but they could not have had much privacy.  But these are questions I did not ask when those who would have had answers were alive.  

Douglas Brouwer told me that he teaches a course in memoir writing and encourages folks to write for their grandchildren.  I hope to continue to give it a try!  It will be one step beyond blogging!

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Hello to Facebook Again!


In August of 2021 I wrote a blog called Farewell to Facebook.  I did check FB every once in a while since then but I did not post anything.  I deleted my phone app and a bookmark on my laptop.

A week ago or so a friend emailed me to say she had missed me on FB and wondered how we were doing.  When we went for a walk last Sunday I decided to post photos of our little adventure on Facebook again.  It was fun to see the comments of friends.

Over this last week, I checked FB several times.  I scroll down several posts and click "like" over and over again.  I feel as if it is one little thing I can do to affirm others!  And I love seeing travel posts from so many places--Spain, Italy, Switzerland.  

Then yesterday I posted (with no photo) that we had met our granddaughter in the parking lot of our grocery store--a great bonus of our moving to Princeton.  She was so gracious as to reply that it had been a "highlight of her day."  How lovely!

And today I posted a photo of Jim walking ahead of me on a mowed path in the field across from our apartment complex with a comment about hoping I could catch up with that good-looking walker.  The responses from my FB friends made us both chuckle.

We do not know many people here in Princeton.  Covid has kept us more isolated than we would like to be.   So Facebook gives me the contact with others that I need and it gives me joy.  I need the sociability of "social" media. 

Plus there's the Spelling Bee Hive group that commiserates with us when we struggle on our quest to achieve "Genius." 

So it's back on Facebook with a self-imposed caution not to post or react to anything political unless it is just too egregious and I can't help myself! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Travel from my Living Room


Path to Canal
\As I write, I have Facebook friends in Florence, Amsterdam, Switzerland, and Spain.  I am enjoying the pilgrimages of four friends on the Camino el Santiago and a family of six travelling along the path of their Mennonite ancestors in Europe.   Another friend is taking her organ students on a organ tour of the Netherlands.  Still another friend is a "Roads Scholar" in Florence.

And how will I travel today?  I might watch another Rick Steves video--my pastime when Jim does his weekly golf outing.  I did my own Camino pilgrimage with one of Rick's guides--and learned that you can prevent blisters by wearing toe socks--like gloves for feet.  Great information that I probably will never use!  Last week I toured Colombia hoping to learn more about our daughter-in-law's heritage.  Rick Steve's son loves Colombia so much that he bought an apartment in Medellin.  

I did some limited travel planning yesterday by inquiring about a rental at Sunrise Resort in St. Pete Beach--for January 2023.  I also checked out Bear Mountain Lodge and Storm King Art Center in New York state for a possible short trip in June. 

 I am disappointed that I have not gone into New York City even once by myself since we moved here almost three years ago.  Jim told me that he would make the trip with me this summer unless I preferred to go alone.  I have many great memories of my solo NYC trips but would be happy to have company.  I might not wander around neighborhoods as much but I would like to make a return visit to MOMA--the Museum of Modern Art.  I think Jim would be awed as I was to see the monumental Monet waterlilies or Van Gogh sunflowers or Pollock paint splatters. 

Lenape Trail in Plainsboro
Much of the fun of travel is the planning and then later, the memories.  So I have begun a bit of the planning.  Meanwhile, I'll enjoy my friends' posts on Facebook and travel from my living room couch. 

And I'll enjoy the lovely walks we find in Princeton and Plainsboro--a ten minute drive from home or even just a walk down to the Delaware-Raritan Canal path.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Two Grandsons

On Tuesday we headed an hour south to Harriton High School for J's choir concert.  He sang in the concert choir and as a freshman, even sang in the select chamber choir.  The program was varied ranging from a Mozart Gloria to Bridge Over Troubled Water.  We were happy we could join his mom and sister to enjoy the concert.  The trip home however was challenging with road construction and a sudden sign closing the ramp to Route One.  We found our way but did realize that travel in the dark on busy roads has its problems.

This weekend is Princeton's Alumni Weekend and Laura's postponed 20th reunion (because of Covid).   J wanted to be part of the P-rade today so we invited him to come to our house for the night so Laura did not have to travel back to get him this morning.   It was a joy to have our grandson as a solo visitor.  We got pizza takeout and later he attempted to get his favorite beverage from a Starbucks but sadly it was closed early.  So he got his second best treat with a  Dunkin Donuts beverage.  J showed me how to do the "happycolor" app on his phone and watched some NBA with us.  He and I played a game of Scrabble.  My earlier 40 point lead disappeared when he judiciously used a Z on a triple letter space and won. As it was almost 11 pm, I conceded! 

 This morning Laura returned from her night using granddaughter Katie's apartment on campus and had breakfast with us.   Laura and J are now on campus buying J a Princeton shirt and then they will both march in the P-rade this afternoon in 90 plus degree heat.  

In the background this morning we had Jim's laptop set on the RPI graduation where we watched our oldest grandson James graduate with a degree in computer science.  His parents and other grandparents are there.  It is great that we could participate via livestream--and we will celebrate in person tomorrow with a cookout.

We moved to Princeton to be able to join in our children and grandchildren's lives and we are thankful to be able to do just that!