Archive for May, 2014

in Dublin Ohio

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Chuck and I drove past big farms planted with tiny plants, corn, wheat soybeans… we will be eating asparagus and corn fresh from Ohio farms at cousin Carol’s. Arrived about 4:30 and are enjoying Ohio warmth. All is well and we have moved in our many bags and bags of stuff. Carol and Chuck have talked about the days when family was all well… CP, Georgie, Loretta, John Horace and many more. God bless the loved ones who have gone on to heaven. Carol is now cooking Asparagus and corn from Ohio farms and homemade meatloaf. She is trying to keep asparagus from rolling off a George Foreman grill!!! God bless you. Sue

Friday already????

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Hi dear friends!  The day after Memorial day (Tuesday) Chuck and I arrived in Fremont, Michigan with all our “stuff” in the car. George Carlin would be proud of us!  We have stuff, buy more stuff, and carry everything on holiday!!!  Michele had lists of things for Chuck to do, and she and I set out to clean out some wall units and kitchen closets.  She is listing her house for sale, and I am being the Aunty Susie making her get rid of stuff, like my sister Sarah once did to me when she made me pare down my wardrobe that included sizes 6 to 16…  ”Do you really need that?”  ”Does that fit?”  ”Will you EVER wear that???”  and about the kitchen cupboards:  ”Do you really need 55 coffee mugs?” (ask me and I’ll look sheepish).  “This cracked dish, can you imagine eating soup out of that without the soup pouring out the crack?”  We filled one of those giant trash cans like we have in Miami and Chuck carried out the rugs that Michele had on the basement porch floor which overflowed the cans.  True to our ways, this morning when we heard the trash man truck, Chuck leaped out of bed with money in hand to bribe the trash man, but the guy had emptied the can and taken the damp rugs before Chuck got out there!  Mission accomplished, Michele and I headed for Grand Rapids where she had a doctor appt and we brought the car in for repairs.  We are now waiting for the car at the internet cafe (Mercedes dealers have cookies, tea, and PCs).  Chuck is on his way down to South Haven, Terry’s marina, with the dog Salty, and Michele and I will get there when the car is ready.   It is sunny and beautiful in Fremont, Michigan.  We plan to arrive at cousin Carol Huddleston’s in Dublin Ohio on Saturday late afternoon.   More to follow as soon as I see internet again!  Happy summer!  Love Susie

Memorial Day in small town America

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

On Sunday, we started the ceremonies with breakfast with the sailors and then a riotous trolley ride down to the beach and the Silversides. We were greeted by a large ensemble who played all the Armed services hymns, the Star Spangled Banner, a lovely Pearl Harbor melody, and God Bless America. After a greeting to the ladies, “Thanks to the ladies who waited for their guys to come home.” Muskegon fliers performed a 4 plane fly by and then returned with the lost airman peeling off with no lights on. As he slowly peel away we were reminded these guys didn’t want to leave just yet, but it was time to go “north” towards heaven and the stars. We were reminded that British fliers started the tradition of the fly by and the lost man formation to honor the Red Baron. These WWI men honored fellow fliers even though they were the enemy. Taps for the fallen, military hymns, and an Invocation: “Lord, You make us one family, and these men, veterans, serve us. Send forth your Spirit to help us. Thank you Lord for our American rights and freedom.” US Senator Carl Levin spoke about Submarines: Responsible for sinking 1150 merchant vessels carrying supplies to Japan and 276 warships including 8 air craft carriers. 55% of Japan’s shipping was sunk by submarines. Success did not come cheap: 52 subs were lost and 3505 men went down with the boats. Contending with faulty torpedoes that either didn’t detonate or turned back around and sunk the sub; the men were not afraid. There is a “touch of the pirate” in every submariner. The submariners last are now on eternal patrol. We named each boat, tolled the ship’s bell, and ladies dropped flowers into the water. We ended the day at the pub in the hotel; one submariner and I went to Sunday Mass, and 3 Quillback men and wives had dinner together.

Monday, Memorial Day, I started with a Memorial Day Mass and Chuck went to the park for speeches and tributes. In the Mass the priest asked us to pray for all fallen veterans some of whom died without the benefit of the grace of the final Sacrament called Last Rites. Later when we watched the movie Pearl Harbor I saw a priest wading in the water putting oil on any forehead he could find. I remember the priests who responded to 911 also… it’s a last blessing… I always call Last Rites “being well oiled.” God bless our fallen patriots. During the Mass I remembered Mom and Jack who called Memorial Day Decoration Day when the graves of soldiers were decorated with flowers and flags. Chuck and I once found a cemetery deep in the south where the ladies of the town decorated only Southern soldiers but then relented and decorated graves of Union soldiers too. We went on to Monet’s garden where I drew the Iris flowers that are ready to burst open. Four were open already. Spring is springing in the far north! On to the LST 393 A giant delivery ship (like the big car ferries we see on the big lakes). She carried tanks on her lower deck and trucks and jeeps and cargo on the upper deck. After very elaborate planning and practice the LST is “beached” into the sand and the giant doors and ramps open and the tanks lumber off. Then the trucks and jeeps drive onto an elevator platform, lowered to the first deck and drive off. Pretty amazing! The rain began and we spent a few hours at the pub in the Holiday Inn watching baseball… We watched movies We were Soldiers… and we were young (an amazing movies with Mel Gibson) and of course finished the evening with Pearl Harbor. God bless America. Love Susie

In Monet’s garden

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Saturday morning I sent Chuck upstairs to the hospitality room to commune and tell sea stories and I walked over to Monet’s garden. The Muskegon garden society is very proud of this little town and has turned a whole corner plot into a lovely garden with benches, pond and walkway over the pond. I painted in the sunshine and have come away with an image of “the pink house” and the pond with a lovely pink tree overshadowing the scene. The iris flowers will bloom next week. There are many budding flowers and a few tulips left. I then went to the art museum again and visited the “interference pool” which is created with lasers. As I moved around the room, the pool moved and sang a humming lyric. It is pretty amazing. Then I walked all around and enjoyed a good art show. Later we dressed up for the banquet which was very well attended. The speaker was from the Silversides museum, Maryly Skallos from Muskegon Community College, and she spoke about the year long history course the Silversides Museum sponsors. “Making History come alive” is taught by speakers who sailed and fought and were survivors of prison camps in World War II. Among the course speakers was Chuck’s chief of the boat on the Quillback, Chief Kidd who spoke about the 1942-44 campaign for the Pacific and about his brother who won among other honors the Croix de Guerre, the French Cross the equivalent of our Medal of Honor. Dr Katherina von Skallos Kellenbach, author of The Mark of Cain, spoke about research she did on her uncle who was responsible for killing 30,000 Jews in Minsk. That was a courageous deed for her to admit this was her heritage. Martin Lowenberg spoke about being saved from prison camp by a gentleman who wanted to save Swedish women but sneaked out many men. As a Holocaust survivor, Lowenberg now dedicates his time to telling the story. Speaking about these teachers of history, Skallos reminded us that as we get older, we won’t be able to talk about WWII… she urged the sailors before her to tell the story now! The courses can be seen on playlist 2014 WWII. We stayed talking until the band stopped and the lights were dimmed….. then we came back to our waterside room, looked out at the quiet night over Lake Muskegon and fell into bed. Blessings on this Sunday morning.

Michigan’s beauty

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

We traveled north 29 miles from Muskegon into farming communities that have Amish wagons drawn by horses! Our host, Terry, asked if we saw the little public boat ramp where the Amish families put little boats in with the horse and buggy. They travel with the kids in the boat that is hitched to the wagon! Can you imagine? We visited Michele and Terry (neighbors on Big Pine Key) and helped fix a mail box that was unceremoniously kicked over by the snow plow… and other little fix ups a house needs after being closed up for the winter. Terry said the porch we had so nicely fit with swinging chair, chairs, table, and cushions had about 3 feet of leaves on it when he and Michele got there from Big Pine key…. The leaf blower got a constant workout with Terry and Chuck at the helm. Opening a winterized house is something Chuck and I do not know about… Sure we close up for a hurricane and get lizards in the house, … OK I guess it’s somewhat the same.

I’m seeing pink and white trees, and Michele’s yard is full of violets and other wild spring flowers like sweet little bells and yellow puffs. I have no idea of the names of spring flowers. I took a walk in a field near the hotel and the grass was soft. I walked toward a stand of trees that looked barren and found them covered with tiny green leaves and little buds! They will probably break into flower as soon as we leave!

Today I will go to the art museum and the Monet garden and hope to do some plein air painting in the Monet garden. Chuck will hang with his submarine buddies and trade “sea stories.” Tomorrow is the Memorial celebration when we “toll the boats” that have been lost. We will have a fly over and a lost man formation and a memorial band to play taps (with echo). This is a very moving ceremony. Remember to thank a veteran this weekend. Love and kisses. Sue

USS Silversides SS236

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Parked in the opening of Muskegon Lake to Lake Michigan stands the Submarine USS Silversides who proudly bears 44 Japanese flags (for 44 known “kills” of Japan’s fleet), 2 saved airmen, and many military decorations. We boarded the sub and climbed down into the smelly interior and crawled through hatches much too small for our bellies! To get from one end to the other, you have to crawl through several of these hatches; and to get “below decks” you have to go through a hatch about the size of a lobster pot (Chuck said he went up and down that hatch 20 times a day). To qualify to stay on a submarine you have to study and train to be able to run every department, to turn every crank, and to maintain the engines, batteries, electrical systems etc etc. One of the qualifying maneuvers is to run from one end of the sub to the other in one minute (Chuck knows the exact time… it’s like one minute). It took me about 2 minutes per hatch to duck down and grab a pants leg to lift my leg up and through the hatch and then to grab the other pants leg and drag the other leg through the hatch. And then don’t stand up too soon!!!! The sailors proudly showed me their “battle stations.” One guy squeezed into a tiny space housing about one hundred dials and said “here’s my battle station.” That guy was responsible for keeping the boat from disaster as well as all the other guys who said, “here’s my battle station…” They talked about diesels (the Silversides has 4 giant diesel engines that are roughly equivalent to rail road engines.) When they fired up the engines the men just started shouting… I was overwhelmed with the noise! And don’t forget the pervasive smell of diesel fumes (like riding behind an old fashioned school bus or metro bus). The Quillback had only 3 diesels but it had a still for making water so the Quillback cook could take daily showers and the men could get two bowls of water for washing teeth, face and underwear. The Picuda men said they got no water as they didn’t have a still. Yikes. On this Memorial Day, remember the men who rushed out of Pearl Harbor after we were so brutally wounded and took out after the Japanese Navy. On Sunday we will remember the dead in the “Tolling of the lost boats” ceremony.

We are riding north today to help a friend who drove up from Big Pine Key and is going to try to sell her Michigan house. We’ll help her clean up the yard and inside of the house to make ready for the realtor visit. We might also go to see the big dunes of sand that Lake Michigan spews up on her shore. I understand it’s quite spectacular. As we drove towards the Silversides I saw a lot of sand on the roads and piles of sand that had been moved off the road by road clearing equipment. Apparently the snows make the lake spew up sand. Have a wonderful Saturday and may it be sunny and bright as it is here on the shores of Lake Muskegon. God bless you! Sue

Making wonderful memories

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

I hope all of us realize that every day is “the present” where we do stuff and just sometimes “go along with the flow”, but every day is also a day to make wonderful memories. Chuck and I are on another adventure where we get into the car and hurtle over America’s highways, and cross big bridges over America’s rivers. Take yesterday for example: who knew that to get from West Virginia to Ohio there are only about 2 bridges? There might be more, but I had a little trouble finding them! We had stopped in Charleston West Virginia after 6 full fun days at Hilton Head visiting college and life long friend Karla McGinnis and her husband Mark. The first day of hurtling through America (from Hilton Head to Charleston West Virginia) was uneventful and easy… The second day involved crossing the big Ohio River…. as we left Charleston the GPS and I were in disagreement so we took my way. Wrong! We eventually drove around a big point of land and crossed the Ohio river where the GPS wanted us to cross. So there. Then I assumed traveling through Columbus Ohio would be like traveling through Atlanta so rather than taking the round about expressway as the GPS lady suggested, we plunged on into the center of Columbus. It’s not so bad, but it’s not an expressway like through Atlanta either… We enjoyed the “Main street” feel of what Columbus calls “High Street” and we passed Ohio State University and finally emerged on the other side of town and continued north. There isn’t a graceful way to get to Muskegon which is on Lake Michigan… The expressways are a little crooked, but we made it in 9 hours. I made sandwiches and crackers and cheese and crackers and peanut butter… and we drank lots of water. Now we are in a lovely hotel (the Shoreline Inn) that I found on the internet. Our room overlooks Lake Muskegon (which feeds into Lake Michigan), and a marina with very fancy boats. There is a waterside restaurant that I suggested we go to watch the sunset. We sat under trees that are covered with tiny delicate light green leaves and buds. It’s “just spring” here on the lake. The sun was shining brightly in a beautiful blue sky. As we finished our meal, I commented that the sky was changing color over to the west… getting a little gray against the bright blue sky and bright sunlight…. “Oh that’s fog,” said our server. Then the temperature dropped about 10 degrees and by the time we got to our room and looked out, we couldn’t see the water below! About the sunset? I guess it happened!

How beautiful it is today! We’re wearing jackets though as we are Florida flowers in the cool breezes of Lake Michigan. Today at noon we’ll walk over to the Holiday Inn across Shoreline Drive and start our reunion with the men who ruled the waves from under the waves. The men of the Quillback, the Truta and the Picuda. I look forward to hearing great stories from “long ago” when I was not aware of our submarine heroes. God bless you dear readers, friends and family. Enjoy today and store up some wonderful memories!