Friday, August 26, 2016

Pétanque in western Michigan

Pétanque, a form of boules is a fun and simple little game that is similar to bocce in Italy. Two teams, outdoors, throwing little metal balls around trying to see who can get closest to a small wooden ball, called the cochonnet ("piglet") or occasionally the "jack."

Last Sunday was simply beautiful in western Michigan, as about 20 or so members of the Grand Rapids chapter of Alliance Française gathered to play pétanque, sip wine and eat delicious food at the home of one of the members. A recent storm had cooled things down, the clouds in Michigan's expansive sky were hanging over us like a ceiling crafted by Michelangelo.

A grand time was had by all -- lots of laughing and merrymaking as the teams vied for the grand prize: a bottle of Pastis. Susie and I had the distinction of winning this year but there were lots of wonderful tosses to be sure.

By 6pm the games were over, the wine gone, and the food nearly so as we all packed up and headed home, cruising the backroads of the beautiful farm country that makes up eastern Ottawa and western Kent counties.

a serious toss

waiting for the next round

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Knife Skills class at Sur la Table

A week ago last Saturday, Susie and I, along with four other students spent a couple of hours honing our knife skills.

Taught by veteran chef and instructor Kathleen Schiefler at Sur la Table here in Grand Rapids, the class was fun and informative.

Since I'm still a klutz with a honing steel I picked up a nice hand-held sharpener from Global; and I also had the opportunity to use a wonderful little peeler, which can easily peel even tomatoes! How cool is that?

that little green thing is the peeler I referred to earlier

time for cleanup

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Perennial Garden

It's easy to see this little garden gem from the entrance and equally easy to miss strolling through it. The garden runs parallel with the entry arcade but one might miss the entrance once inside.

Stroll pass the "Leaping Gazelle" by Marshall Fredericks and sweep around the garden. Along the way you'll pass several wonderful bits of stone. . .
"Leaping Gazelle"

 "Model for a Big Sculpture II" by Dietrich Klinge

"Warts and All" by Peter Randall-Page

Friday, August 12, 2016

Horace and Anna Faull summer of 1913

Many years ago while we were living in Vermont, I stopped at an antiques shop adjoining a family home somewhere along Route 7 north of Rutland. It was on a whim that I pulled into the parking lot, no specific urge to pick a Ming vase or Louis the Whatever armoire. As I browsed about the shop my eyes landed on a small photo album. Marked simply “Photographs” it had a photo of two young children on the front that caught my attention.

In various moves over the succeeding years I have lost the album but I had the good sense to digitize it and place it in my archives, for what reason now escapes me (if there ever was a reason, of course).

There were hints about where the images were taken, clearly in the summer but for many years I had no idea the details of who those children were (or Aunt Florence) or where they were at the time. Based on the few captions I recently ran a search of the Internet, that all-knowing source of information, and now know at least the following:

The two children are Horace and Anna Faull, children of Joseph Horace (1870-1961), an eminent botanist and Annie Bell Sargent. Horace (junior) would eventually become a chemist while Anna (d. 1983) would follow a career in botany, like her father.

When the photos were taken the family was camping or staying near or along Spruce Creek not far from Barree, PA.

Here are the photos in their original order:

is this the father, Joseph?

it's unclear from the album who these people are, where they are or the context (aside from the obvious)

Aunt Florence?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Marshal Fredericks and his Leaping Gazelle

Leaping Gazelle was Marshall Frederick's first commissioned work. Sculpted in 1935 it is also one of his most duplicated. In addition to the two we've seen, in the Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan and in Grand Rapids at the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, copies can be found in Detroit, Michigan, West Palm Beach, Florida, and Pawley's Island, South Carolina.

Dow Gardens, without the original four animal sculptures representing wildlife of Michigan

Meijer Gardens: with copies of the four wildlife sculptures of otter, grouse, hawk and rabbit

Summer of 1956: Dutch relatives visit Clear Lake and Fremont, Michigan

In June of 1956 relatives from the Netherlands paid a visit to the rather large and extended Van Halsema clan in Western Michigan.

A handful of images that came out of that short stay have come back to Michigan at long last: at the VandenBerg home on Oak Street in Fremont and a visit to the Ten Haves at Clear Lake, near Rockford, still a favorite family gathering place 60 years later!
eating out back on Oak Street with the Vandenbergs: Tunis seated far left, Helen Vandepolder and Betsy Dekorne

Susan (with the hose) douses Dutch relative Dorotje in the backyard of Oak Street

A visit to the Ten Haves at Clear Lake

Tunis VandenBerg having a word with one of children (Susan perhaps?)
(Part of an ongoing project of scanning old slides of VandenBerg and Van Halsema family photos and sharing them online -- more to come!)

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

A visit to the Lucas family in Lucas, Michigan

This past Monday Susie and I drove her mother and and Aunt Helen up to McBain, Michigan for a small family reunion with two Lucas cousins, Harv and David. The Galloway-Ten Have clan from Clear Lake just north of Grand Rapids also joined us, arriving about 20 minutes after we did.

BACKSTORY: Born in 1894 in Lucas, Michigan, near Cadillac, Nellie Lucas was the oldest daughter of Dick and Betsy Lucas, descendants of Dutch-German immigrants. While teaching school near Lucas she met a young Dutch immigrant named Emo Van Halsema.

Emo and Nellie, c. 1919

They fell in love and were married in Lucas in 1920. Bernice Van Halsema, their third oldest daughter, was born in Grand Rapids in 1927; she married Tunis VandenBerg in Grand Rapids in 1949.  Susan is their oldest daughter and second oldest of five children.

the Lucas Christian Reformed Church c. 1920

the church today

The Lucas family has farmed and worked the land in western Missaukee country for several generations and a couple of Bernice's cousins still live there: Dave and Donna Lucas and Dave's younger brother Harvey and his wife Evelyn.

The drive north took barely 90 minutes and we enjoyed the spectacular, broad expanse of the sky in Michigan, warm temps, low humidity and little traffic as we pushed into the wilds of northern Michigan.

We found the house at the edge of the small village of McBain. After saying hello I excused myself and drove the three blocks over to McBain Cemetery to look for Joseph Michael Rounds, Jr., a veteran of Company F, 3rd Michigan Infantry (1861-64). Those of you who know my ongoing research project on the Old 3rd know I'm always looking for gravesites of those men who survived the war.

I found my quarry in no time at all -- it is a small cemetery -- and scooted right back to the house just in time to say hello to the Ten Have Galloway group as they pulled in. After introductions and reintroductions we all settled in for a delicious lunch prepared by Evelyn, Harv's wife. Our group spent a wonderful afternoon reminiscing, catching up on all the family news and enjoying a few funny family stories and just enjoying the company of family.

The afternoon slid by and when the group finally roused itself from warm conversation we all piled into three cars and began the Lucas family tour: from McBain we drove a short distance to Lucas Road and soon pulled into the parking lot of the Lucas Christian Reformed Church where Emo and Nellie were married 96 years ago.

From the church we made our way to Lucas Cemetery and paid our respects to Dick and Betsy and two of their children Abe and Herman (Herman was father of Harv and Dave and brother of Nellie). (I have a separate post on my North American Cemeteries blog; you can find it right here.) We then drove over to cousin Dave's sawmill and had a taste of how real sawyering is done. It was quite a show and quite fascinating: makes one appreciate the skill it takes to cut a log into usable lumber.

After a trip back to McBain we settled back into more iced tea and coffee -- this time accompanied by some of Evelyn's homemade cookies. It was soon time to say goodbye, the shadows began their inexorable march away from the sun. Although the cousins were clearly having a hard time breaking away from each other there were plenty of goodie bags to go around. Not long after we pulled out onto the highway heading home our passengers took a much-needed rest and before long we were back on Eagle Ridge Court and home.

Generosity, hospitality, and fellowship were the hallmarks of that short but very pleasant trip with the Lucas boys in the quiet of northern Michigan.

Harv and Ev's main house
in the back where the chicken coop used to be is now a large space used for entertaining

 luscious gardens full of flowers and vegetables all mixed together

inside the huge screened in porch area: Helen, Evelyn and Bernice

visiting Lucas Cemetery: Harv, Helen, Bernice and Jennifer
the original Dick and Betsy Lucas farmhouse

the current farmhouse (Dick and Betsy's burned down years ago), no longer in the Lucas family 

the original barn is still there, though

across the street from the barn is the house that Dick and Betsy eventually moved into

Dave cutting cedar planks -- and Harv helping