Sunday, August 31, 2014

Donald and Carroll Soper circa 1914

Carroll and his younger brother Don, probably in Bement, Illinois

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele in Siena, Italy

Today called the Piazza del Campo (and Palazzo Comunale is now Repubblico), this is undoubtedly one of the coolest places to hang out day or night, anywhere in Italy.

Ar there tourists? you bet, but so what? Come late or early for quiet and a taste of local flavor. And try it in January!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Van Halsema family at Overview, Michigan in August of 1980

At a recent gathering of the Van Halsema family out at Clear Bottom Lake near Rockford, Michigan, Aunt Helen brought along a short stack of photos given to her by her son Robert, and she passed them around. They appear to consist primarily of a much earlier family gathering at Overview cottage, located on Lake Michigan north of Grand Rapids.

I've identified a few individuals immediately recognizable to me but I certainly don't know the dates, so if anyone has more information please pass it along and I'll make the changes to the captions.

photo 1: Betsey Van Halsema Dekorne (right)
photo 2: Kathy and Frank Van Halsema (2nd and 3rd from right)
photo 3: l-r: Betsey, Helen Van Halsema Vandepolder and Frank Van Halsema
photo 4
photo 5
photo 6: John Ten Have (far right), Mary VandenBerg (top right)
photo 7: Donna Van Halsema
photo 8, l-r: Betsey Vandepolder and Kathy Van Halsema
OK so the next two photographs date much earlier than 1980. The first one shows Van Halsema sisters Willemina Quackenbush and Marian Ten Have with Marian's husband John and Willemina's daughter Ruth (?)
photo 9: John Ten Have (standing) Marian Van Halsema Ten Have (right)
This last photo shows what I'm told are the Dekorne kids to the right and the Van Halsema children on the left. Any ideas?
photo 10

Van Halsema family gathers at Clear Bottom Lake near Rockford, Michigan

Last Saturday was, in a word, gorgeous in west Michigan. The temperature hovered somewhere around the mid-70s pretty much all day and the humidity had the good sense to stay low. Since western Michigan suffered from the benefit of a dry summer to date, God's tiny flying annoyances, particularly mosquitoes, kept their distance for most of the day.

One could not have asked for a better day for a family reunion at Clear Bottom Lake, just off of 10-Mile road west of Rockford. Susan's cousins Jennifer, Laurie and Ruth had quietly gone about making all the arrangements, apparently even getting the weather to cooperate, and all the rest of us had to do was show up, sit chat and swap tales.

Clear Bottom Lake is precisely that: a lake where you can see right to the bottom. It's quiet, peaceful and a great place for an afternoon stroll on the old road that goes around the lake itself.

looking across the lake to. . . 

a place from where you could hear the laughter breaking the stillness of the afternoon

It's also a wonderful place to sit outside on the large porch catching up with family members from around the country: cousins Betsey and her family came from Pennsylvania, Sharon from California, Brenda from Chicago, Aunt Helen from Florida, Susan and I from somewhere in lower New England. Amazing, the ties that bind, a well-worn phrase but one with a ring of truth in this family.

It was a day of smiles all round, a phenomenon that always never fails to amaze and enlighten me, mixed in with sandwiches, salads, and a couple of tasty treats from the French Tarte. But it's the fellowship that seems to be the standard fare at these Van Halsema shindigs.

Nancy Tess

l-r: cousins Nancy, Betsey, Betsey's daughter (need the name please) and Donna

Berenice, or once upon a time there was an exchange student from France who found more in Michigan than she bargained for . . 

. . . like Joe, son of Laurie and Garrett - and vice versa, of course

l-r: Clark, Scott and Mark

Betsey and Aunt Fran



Susie, aka the French Tarte

Jim, compliments of Betsey

Garrett, the new dog and Aunt Thea

the fabulous Van Halsema sisters (l-r): Betsey, Bernice, Helen and Marian

As the shadows lengthened with the setting sun so the mosquitoes made their presence known. Clearly it was time to go.

A big thanks to the Ten Haves for hosting, and especially to Jen, Laurie and Ruth for letting us all off the hook for helping with cleanup. You won't be rid of us so easily the next time. . .

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Parkside in downtown Providence

Susie and I went here recently for dinner and had a wonderful meal.

The staff was friendly, the menu innovative and interesting, the food scrumptious and the wine list exceptional. In fact, I'd argue it's one of the best lists we've seen in Providence: a whole page of half bottles alone makes this place unique. The wines were well-chosen and reasonably priced.

We started off with chilled Lillet rouge, which we though pretty uncommon in a city that prides itself on the number of local mixologists.

For our meal Susie had the Chatham cod on shrimp grits and I ordered one of the specials: a jerk fish dish consisting of tuna and salmon chunks with shrimp in a cocoanut broth, finished off and served in a cast iron skillet. I also opted for their fresh, handcut frites. Everything was simply delicious.

We would like to go back and try one of the rotisserie dishes, something you can't find anywhere else in this city.

Oh, and the valet parking was free.