Sorry this is late this year – apathy seems to have won out over enthusiasm, but here we are…
In early April we had quite a hailstorm that dropped the biggest hailstones we’d ever seen – ” – nearly ¾” (2cm) across!!!! (although they were more M&M shaped than marble shaped). They sure made a noise hitting the house roof and bouncing on the front porch. Some are saved in a bag in the freezer. Luckily no real damage was done.We had the usual run of “babies” around the place again this spring and summer, including the Wrens who built a nest and raised some young after feeding them on a whole lot of bright green worms. Apart from the usual range of birds nesting, there were a number of Monarch butterflies hatched, young deer, fish in the pond, quite a few frogs and toads in and around the fish ponds too.
This year’s trip “out East” was a reverse of previous years. We started out heading to Rochester, New York where we stayed a night with Roger’s cousin Martin Lineham and his wife and daughter before heading on to Hartford, Connecticut so we could spend time in the Connecticut State Library looking for information about some of Lisa’s ancestors who had lived in Connecticut prior to moving on to Detroit.
Then on to Bar Harbor, Maine, for another wonderful time with Steve and Jane at their B&B, and the annual Fund Raiser Murder Mystery dinner. We spent one day taking the walk up Sargent Ridge, and took a couple of other walks, as well as a trip out to Seal Cove to see the Seal Cove Auto Museum – an amazing collection of olde cars – mainly from the “brass era” that’s almost at the end of the road from Bar Harbor!!We also spent a nice afternoon on rented bikes cycling around some of the old carriage roads in Acadia National Park, including around Eagle Lake. Luckily we’re there at just the right time of year to find orchids flowering on the side of Cadillac Mountain – this is a Lady Slipper Orchid.
After Bar Harbor it was the long drive down to Washington DC for a few days to go to the National Archives for some more research on Lisa’s family, as well as a day wandering around The Mall, trying to see as many of the monuments as we could. That was a looong day and a lot of walking, but we were able to take in all of the Presidential monuments, as well as those for World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam Wall. We got great hospitality from the Badger family (part of the Clan Moffat) while we stayed with them in Vienna on the outskirts of Washington, DC.We had 2 weddings to go to this Summer. First up was the wedding of Kelly Christensen and Eric Binnendyk at the end of July. Kelly is the daughter of one of Lisa’s Christensen cousins. They were married in nearby Holland, Michigan, so we had quite a few of the Christensen family here and in town for a few days, with the wedding on Saturday, and then a “mini-Family Reunion” at Kurt and Ann’s house(with the big pool) on Sunday. Both the Saturday and Sunday were blessed with great weather, and we had a lot of fun. Later in the year it was the marriage of Kenneth Smith and Ericka Patterson. Ken is the son of Lisa’s boss from General Motors and we’ve known him, and his brother Jeremy for many years, including attending many of their sports events as they went through school sports. It was great to meet up with some of the extended Smith family, including Jeremy’s wife who we’d never met, and we got an invitation to go to Mississippi next Spring for Pat’s Family Reunion – Roger spent a couple of weeks a few years ago researching some of Pat’s slave ancestors who were originally from Virginia, and North Carolina before being moved to Mississippi.
We had a number of trips to Meijer Gardens again during this year – in August for the free music concerts on Tuesday evenings, and also twice to see the Chihuly Glass Exhibit – an amazing display of blown glass pieces located in 14 sites around the gardens – in all many hundreds of brightly coloured pieces in a huge array of shapes and arrangement created by Dale Chihuly. Some were floating in the lakes and waterfalls, others stuck like big tall red reeds on the lawns, others hiding in amongst the longer vegetation – all in all an amazing display!! Meijer Gardens now has 2 permanent pieces of Chihuly glass – the blue one is part of the chandelier now installed in the cafeteria.
The Tuesday Evening Music Club is arranged by a local musician – Ralston Bowles – who each Tuesday evening in August has one or 2 local artists/bands perform in a great family picnic atmosphere. We go along with Kurt, Ann, Kyle and Zoe, and usually on the last concert of the year the picnic includes Pavlova.On a much lesser scale Roger and Lisa took a trip to Greenfield Village to the Glass Shop and made their own glass flower there from the molten glass – our first attempts at hot glass work – it was shaping and not blowing.
For one weekend, a road in downtown Grand Rapids was closed while “the world’s longest water slide” was put in place – over 500 feet long. Despite the setup problems, bad weather for a while and massive long lines it was a great success in the end. Roger and Lisa went down Sunday morning and took their turn waiting in line for nearly 4 hours to get a ride that lasted less than a minute. But we have the photos and teeshirts to prove we did it.
In early August Roger cashed in 55,000 frequent flyer miles to take a nearly free, quick trip to Moffat, Scotland for the Clan Moffat Society’s 2010 AGM. He was there for just 4 days, with almost a full day of travel both going and returning – and on each direction as seems to be the case these days, cancellations and flight changes. It was great to see everyone again – those from the Clan Moffat UK group and those from the US who made the journey. And good to get to spend a few hours with another Moffat relative – Cousin Sandy (a 4th cousin once removed) who drove down from his home in Dundee for a quick visit, including Fish and Chips for lunch. Between the 2 of us this year we’ve lost 1 cwt – 112 lbs (50kg) – about half of it each. For the second year Grand Rapids was home to “Art Prize” – an art competition that attracted over 1,700 artists to bring their art to the city and display it for several weeks. Some of it indoors, and some of it outdoors. The event attracts tens of thousands of people to the downtown to view it, although seeing all of it in the available time is impossible. The voting is by the public using internet and cell phone text messages – for first 2 weeks it’s all of the entries, and then the final week the voting is only for the top 10 vote getters from the first round. The winner of the $250,000 this year was a massive pencil drawing based on an old photo of US Army cavalry officers and the runner up an almost equally large glass mosaic made of thousands of pieces of stained glass, with no piece bigger than a finger. The range of ideas across the more than 1,700 entries was incredible – some ideas very clever, others a rerun of what might have been successful in the past.
Around home the garden continues to take a lot of time to not keep it as tidy as it should be, and the deer had a good go at it this summer – they got all the pumpkins we grew, and many of the tomatoes as well. Too often things seem to break and need fixing – early this year it was the water softener and the well tank; The front porch is more finished than it was a year ago, but still isn’t finished. We’re still both heavily involved with the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, and Roger was lead organiser again of the annual seminar held in early November.
Our thoughts are with all those affected by the massive earthquake that hit Christchurch and Canterbury on 4 September. Luckily my house was undamaged so I don’t have any of the headaches that go with trying to sort that out from 9,000 miles away.
We wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all the best for 2011.