Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Big Red Obscured

The fog has been relentless. The horizon was not discernible all day long. But the lake is endlessly changing and we had some hope for a burn off by afternoon. We took a trip to the state park to visit Big Red - the lighthouse by the ship canal. I've photographed Big Red many times, but this time the fog nearly obscured its color and it may as well have been purple. We walked to the pier and to its end, passing several fishermen and sightseers. The fog thickened as we went out into the lake.

The fog at the end of the pier at about ten thirty was so thick that the other side of the ship canal, which should be visible in the background, was almost completely obscured. Santini and NCW for scale.

We had an afternoon at the farmer's market and downtown Holland, before coming back to the fog shrouded shore for dinner. Pork roast, corn on the cob, potatoes, and sliced tomatoes from our trip to the market.

After dinner PP wanted to use my camera to take some "artsy-fartsy photos" as she put it. So I lent her the camera and she went out on the dunes to search for art. She came back with a camera full of images and asked me to choose one and add it to the blog. I chose this one. She had managed to find a patch of blue large enough to make a Dutchman a pair of pants. There are other photos, but they remain fodder for other posts should I need them.

The fog broke finally about eight thirty and there was a bit of a sunset, although by the time it reached the horizon it was again obscured by the mist.

It's been an odd summer so far, and I hope for a couple of days of warm sunshine to more enjoy this beautiful place. I've had enough of the fog.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Walking in the fog

It was foggy pretty much all day by the big lake. I walked on the beach a couple of times down towards Big Red, once alone and once with NCW, but the fog held on. PP went out on the paddle board for much of the morning and I took a lot of photos of her standing up and paddling through the fog. The photos remain in my private vault. She said that the fog line was evident from out on the lake where she was paddling away.

We had lunch. Nancy and the Grands came and took PP to Coast Guard Days in Grand Haven. The fog held on. We went out for dinner, came back and the sun was still obscured by fog. So we went for a walk in the neighborhood and down to Tunnel Park. I hoped for a break in the fog and perhaps a sunset. The fog continued. I took a photo of Santini and NCW where there should have been a sunset beginning. Too much fog. I gave up and came back to chow down a handful of Blue Crop berries.

At least the fog didn't obscure the beach house, seen here from the dune down by the big lake in the morning.  There is, however, mist in the air.

Nonetheless, it was a good day. Every day by the big lake is a good day.

Monday, July 28, 2014

July shouldn't be this chilly

It was cooler today than one might expect in July, so our beach activities were somewhat curtailed, but we decided that some tennis at Wendt Park would be a good way to spend the morning. NCW took the photo of PP and I just before we began to hit tennis balls. She asked us to turn our backs, perhaps so that the Hope College jacket would dominate. In any case I like the photo and it shows a little how cold this week is.

The Prairie Princess striking the a tennis ball with force and grace.

We stopped for a five pound box of blueberries at Bowerman's after tennis. The best tasting variety, the Blue Crops, are the ones they are selling now. They were $12 for 5 pounds - a bargain. We also bought some of their blueberry preserves. They run a thriving U-Pickem trade this time of year. The parking lot was packed.

The ladies and I went for a walk after dinner. The destination was to be Tunnel Park, but it was cold; a wind chill warning should have been issued. See below. Instead we opted for a leisurely stroll around Idlewood and Sunset Bluff. It was warmer and less stress inducing. And sadly, the clouds obstructed the sun and the sunset was obscured and not available for photography.

And PP made a sweet potato pie that was still warm when we returned from the neighborhood amble. It was great. It's a lot like pumpkin pie, but with a different texture and somewhat different taste. I'm hoping that she posts the recipe on the Family Recipe Blog.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Idlewood walking, dune ambling

We took a walk around the neighborhood this morning. It was this attractive group and me. PP was running down the beach to Big Red and back, and was unable to participate in this lower impact form of exercise. It's a pretty neighborhood with lots of pretty flowers and green lawns and trees. On the way we came upon a bicycle standing next to the street that was put to another use after its retirement date. I guess the blogosphere has seen photos of this particular bike before, but it's the first that I've noticed it.

Another view of the bike. It's not a new bike, or a fast bike, but it is an object of art, perhaps "objet d'art."

We went to the grocery store twice to be sure we had the right stuff to make NCW's teriyaki chicken, and enough stuff for a batch of rye buns. I guess cooking has broken out. We had the chicken with wild rice for dinner and are expecting fresh bread tomorrow. With all the blueberries we've consumed, we're eating very well.

We had a big wind storm come through in the late afternoon which curtailed some of the beach activities, but after it settled down, and after the aforementioned dinner, PP and I had an amble up the beach to the park with a tunnel in it. It was nearly deserted, probably because of the rain and wind, but a few hardy souls were still there. PP and I climbed the stairs (I didn't count them) to the top of the dune and ran down the other side along with a bunch of ten to twelve year old kids. One of them saw me loping down the hill and had this priceless look of great surprise to see such an old human running down the hill. I guess I had disturbed her view of humanity's possibilities.

So we ran down the hill again and walked through the tunnel for which the park is named, then ambled back from the beach, chatting about life, love, and the vagaries of sea gulls, Irish and American. Why do they take off when one (a human being) quickly raises his arms above his head?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

By the beautiful sea

After a long day fighting orange barrels in construction zones, we (PP, NCW, and moi) are now in the kingdom by the inland sea. We were welcomed warmly, fed nourishing and tasty vittles, and accompanied on an amble up the beach to the nearest public beach. The sunset, was very nice, nicer than whatever setting I was using on my camera was able to deliver. But worth the effort of a download. It was a nice ending to a long and eventful day.

The usual subjects are pictured on the hill above Tunnel Park looking into the sun as it slowly sets in the western sky.

I think the green crocs are pretty darn attractive.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


NCW and I took a quick trip to Swan Lake to get some items to be ready for the upcoming August wedding. It was a chance to see a July Swan Lake sunset. It was pretty nice, and well worth the trip. The photos, however, don't always capture the full beauty of the setting sun. The color of the sun and its reflection across the surface of the lake were both luscious and deeply orange. Photography, at least this time, didn't match reality, but maybe you'll get the general idea.

The loons weren't out tonight, but a bald eagle soared by close to the water's surface, looking for a fish meal. I had very little chance to get his photo, but I think he got a fish.

The gazebo by the shore is a fine place to watch the sun go down. NCW is wistfully watching the orange sun setting over her lake.

Soon, we'll resume our kitchenless existence in river city. There'll be some progress to report as the project reaches fruition. But for tonight, the lake is a comforting companion.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Before and during

The Prairie Princess fixed dinner tonight for NCW and me at her apartment at Sherrie's house. It was an appreciated act of mercy, since we are without kitchen facilities, i.e. sans stove. We had spaghetti and uncured bacon, a special delicacy by the young lady who can't seem to get enough bacon. And brussels sprouts. It was very good.

 Here is a view of the kitchen as it appeared about a week ago. Some work was required to get it to the state that it is in today. Mostly it involved removing stuff, a lot of which just recently passed one hundred years of age.

This essentially depicts the current state of that part of the kitchen.

At some point there will be an after photo. Some of this is fun, but mostly it's disrupting to my easy going life style.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dragon Boat Races

Yesterday was the annual Dragon Boat races at Lake Phalen in St Paul. The Prairie Princess has been practicing for the race for several weeks and was part of the recruiting group for her team. As race day approached some of the boat paddlers dropped out and she had to get subs.  As luck would have it, Unky Herb has had experience with these races and was able to fill in. At the last moment, NCW's daughter, Sherrie was recruited to fill another seat in the boat. She has had paddling experience and it sounded like fun to her.

NCW and I went to watch, as did UH's future mother-in-law, Laibin, and her boyfriend, Lao Rei. (I'm not sure of the spelling of the Chinese names.) We rode together and gathered on the shores of Lake Phalen to watch four heats that our favorites were asked to participate in. The boats were timed and the best times determined the winners. After it was all completed, later in the night, we learned that they finished in fourth place, a very respectable showing.

Unky Herb is the rear seat with the orange hat.  Sherrie is two seats ahead of him.

A closer shot failed to include Unky Herb, but both Sherrie and the Prairie Princess are pictured straining to win the heat.  PP is on the far side of the boat, near the front with sunglasses.  Sherrie is on the near side, stage left.

It was a pleasant diversion from the bustle going on in my house, where Rob and his men are redoing my 100 year old kitchen. It's a big job, and one well overdue.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Back from the Ozarks

I spent most of last week either driving to southern Missouri, driving back, or attending the reunion of the family of NCW. It consisted of about 50 people from all over the USA, who gathered to see relatives that they hadn't seen for quite a while, some for the first time. We stayed three nights at a resort near Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo. There was good food and a lot of fun and laughter. I had a good time, and even had an opportunity to engage in karaoke singing with the Old Folk sextet, an ad hoc group of seniors willing to make fools of themselves.

 On the way to the event, at about two thirds of the distance (660 miles to the reunion) we stopped in Independence, Missouri at the Harry Truman Presidential Library. It was interesting and educational, detailing his life and his time as President from 1945 to 1952. He was almost an accidental President, but managed to make important decisions that affect us even today. He was pretty unpopular when he left office, but has been somewhat resurrected since.

This is a pretty good shot of a bust of the 33rd President, which stood near the replica of the Oval Office.

There was a full size statue of Truman on display. I stood next to it and we appeared to be about the a same height. Wiki says he was 5 foot 9", the 31st tallest President. Abe was 6' 4" and James Madison 5' 4". Useless but somehow interesting information.

The Oval Office as it was when Harry was President. It was recreated with the help of the former Pres himself.

I've been back long enough to play some tennis and get reacquainted with the games of the World Cup. I was expecting a great game today and tuned in very early in the game. It was unnerving to see how easy it seemed for Germany to score on Brazil. It was 5-0 at half and ended at 7-1. Germany is likely to be the favorite when they play either Argentina or Netherlands in the final. It'll be hard to pick against them, but they still have to play the game and it can go either way.  The game tomorrow should be better than today's, but we'll only find out when they actually play it.