Sunday, January 29, 2012

Life as We Know It

MY LAPTOP IS BACK! That could be a post in and of itself but let's just say I am a happy camper, since Friday, getting reacquainted with my old friend.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Now, follow me on this bit of meandering through Life as I know it.

The most soulful image I saw all last week was the one niece Lesley took of her mom,
G'ma Ruth (my little sister) reading from Beatrix Potter to Baby James.

Ruth says he sat like this, and in other positions, mesmerized for 15 minutes in chapter one. We will continue on the weekend . . . :-) Thank you. I think he loves British writing, and boats . . . this was The Tale of Little Pig Robinson. :D

Isn't that the most adorable picture of a baby ever, hanging onto every word.
(click to enlarge)

And so that evening, Astrid and I watched the Miss Potter DVD of how Beatrix Potter accomplished her dream of writing books for children about the animals who were her friends. It's a precious story and well worth seeing. I was glad we had the DVD already in our library!

As Wiki says, her books continue to sell throughout the world, in multiple languages. Her stories have been retold in song, film, ballet and animation.

It so happens that 2 days after Baby James was born, one of my high-school classmates died.
Do you realize how often that happens? One comes into the world while another goes out.

From my class of 172 students, 31 of us have died, 7 since 2011.
I know this because we're getting ready for our 50th class reunion in Michigan next year.
We even have our own Facebook site of our 1963 GLHS class and are getting reacquainted!
God willing and the creek don't rise, Astrid and I will be there.

But all I can think is, that's way too young! And who of us will be next?

Then I remember my own brother Bennett who was only 47 when he died in 1996.

My favorite photo of Bennett is from when he played in
the community theater production of Fiddler on the Roof.
You can't see it here but he had carrot-red hair!

And yes, we had just watched that movie a couple weeks ago.
It was my umteenth time and Astrid's first.
Life as they knew it in that day and age...and worth all the musicals in the world.
I'm so glad Bennett got to be a part of it in his own way.

It's still January, and with it has come brother Nelson's 70th birthday.

As the Eldest of our Tribe, the rest of us 8 kids will now follow suit.
My turn (#3) will be in 2015, Ruth's (#8) in 2026.
And Baby 2082.
It boggles the mind.

That precious little baby, my grand nephew, is Nelson's counter bookend right now in our family tree,
70 years removed from each other.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Winter has finally come to the Netherlands, with temps to hang below freezing-point all week. If there's any possibility of canals freezing, the skaters will come out en masse.

And we will drive east over the weekend to meet up with Mart Martorell, the glass blower, to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary. More on that later, of course, but time marches on!

This is life as we know it!


  1. With a new life, a new world has begun. I feel this so acutely! Thank you for this, my dear sister. I have felt your love for James, and for me, for all of us, across the sea.

    I am sorry about your classmate. I, too, had a life and death juxtaposition. The day after James was born, one of our most beloved professors died. I can't tell you how much I feel the loss of him. Maybe my emotions are more keen these days. But he truly was a treasure; still is.

    I had not thought of Nelson and James being bookends, but it is a wonderful image, especially because Nelson marked the milestone of 70 this month! Wonderful to think of Bennett in Fiddler, and James loving Beatrix Potter (and Jane Austen), and how much literature connects the dots in our lives.

    Have a beautiful anniversary weekend!

  2. Ruth: Thank you, dear sister, for this comment. I have myriad emotions these days, with all the family happenings. I hate being so far away, but that's why the photos are so important. Thank you for "feeling" this with and for me.

    It blows me away to think of Nelson and Baby James 70 years apart. Is that possible?!

  3. This was a touching post Ginnie with lovely photographs. I wish we had high-school reunions in France as you do here. I have no idea where anyone is and how many are still alive. Schools here are so different.

    It does make you think when we are seniors and we receive a new member in the arms of our family. As we get older we see many of our family and friends leaving us and it is difficult but this is the wheel of life I guess. As Robert Frost said “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on…”

  4. Happy Anniversary to you and Astrid! What a busy life you two lead! Oh, and yes, I have found it too, that new life comes into the world as other lives leave it. (Not a lot of classmates for me yet, however -- unless they are taken far too young by accidents or serious illness.)

  5. Vagabonde: What a great quote from Robert Frost. PERFECT for this post. Thank you, dear friend.

    I attended only one high-school reunion in the past 49 years and that was our 20th. My goal is to NOT miss our 50th for anything in the world! My classmates now are closer to me than when I graduated in 1963...and I ponder that a lot.

    Karen: Thank you for the anniversary wishes. And thank you, always, for commenting!

  6. I have not attended any hs or college reunion. I'm doing that via facebook now. But someday I wish I'd have coffee with my galpals and we'd talk about the best muscle pain/arthritis reliever/medication in between sips :)

  7. PC: This 50th reunion will be a big one for all of us, I'm sure. We're all trying to make it. It may be my last, who knows. I especially want them all to meet Astrid. :)

  8. I saw you post about your classmates death. The month was not so good to us with people leaving. For my brother that was his father in law. I still can't wrap my head around it all...

    And yes that was life as we know it..

    I just can't wait to see photos from your trip. I'll try for a few but miss adorable has kept me busy with her newly found walking feet. :)

  9. The picture with Ruth and James is adorable. Birth and death, for some reason, sometimes they walk hand in hand. The circle of life. That is why we should make the best of life as possible, live it, breath it.
    Beatrix Potter is an example of living the dream.
    I am looking forward to the reunion, from what I know, they are so different from ours.
    I am glad we have internet/Skype nowadays, so we can keep up with family, far away. I know, is not the same as drinking coffee with each other, but still.
    Frost, FINALLY, will it last for two weeks? Then we will be on the ice.

  10. ET: The older we get, Jen, the more we hear about the deaths of people we know. And about the births, too, of course. It's one of the sure things of life as we know it.

    But we keep moving on, taking the joys and sorrows of each day as they come while still living our lives!

    Astrid: One of my greatest milestones will be to make the 50th high-school reunion with you at my side. I am already smiling! They all know by now who I am and that I am finally happy!

    Now that we have our first dusting of snow (since Monday afternoon), I wonder if we'll get more to cover everything. But yes, I know, after the water freezes, so that the ice won't get all messed up!

  11. So much to ponder here... and so sad that you lost your brother so young. We lost our half-brother Robin in April but he had lived a full life and had plenty of time to bid family and friends farewell during the time he had remaining after his liver cancer diagnosis... a cruel way to go. And this year, our family saw three additions with two great nieces and one great nephew. I'll be visiting some of these new additions soon and hope to get photos worth posting.

    I love the one your niece took of your sister reading to the newest adorable addition to your family.

    I am working on gathering addresses from far and wide for a high school reunion in August... an odd year for the class of 1965 except that almost all of our class will either be 65 already when it happens OR become 65 before the end of 2012 so we are calling it 65 @ 65! And we have already heard of more classmates passing in response to the first mailing we sent out.

    I saw Fiddler on the Roof with Zero Mostel as Tevye on Broadway MANY years ago and still recall the music and story. You must think of your brother every time you see the movie or hear the music so that's a nice memory to have of him.

  12. Victoria: I often wonder what brother Bennett would think about digital photography today. He was a professional of film photography in his day and even taught it in junior college. My son is also a film photographer but shies away from digital. I keep telling him he'd have no problem with it!

    These class reunions are milestones we learn to embrace. I'm very excited about my 50th and do hope and pray I'll be one who makes it, with Astrid at my side. Life is so short. We need to seize the opportunities we have.

    "Fiddler on the Roof" on Broadway. Wow. The only Broadway show I've seen was "Wicked." I had already seen it in Atlanta, but I loved it more, knowing it was in NY! Funny how that is. :)

  13. Awww, that is such a sweet photo! Ouch, so many in your class has passed away... I have no clue about my own classmates and maybe that's the best....

    I had no idea how YOUNG you are and I must say that you look much younger than you claim to be! Honestly!

  14. LCT: It's always hard to hear that people you own age have died...maybe that's what's so hard. I do still feel young, except when I realize 70 is so close. Then I sit up and take notice. In the meantime, you realize flattery will get you everywhere! :)

  15. Sounds like there's a lot of events in your life - both sad and happy. I know some of how it is to feel the fraility and fragileness of life. There's been quite a number of people in my circles who have lost loved ones as well as my own and my Sweetheart's family. So we need to make the most of the time we have and trust God for our futures.

  16. Tim: I couldn't have said it better! Thank you.

  17. I feel I know you even better for the family "gathering." Your mention of your 50th reminded me that my own must e approaching. Our 40th was such a sensational sccess, I think people will decide not to try to top it. We had 80% of the living class, but it reminded us of those no longer there. I spent an afternoon with the mother of a deceased, dear classmate.

    We collected pictures for almost a year before the event, and I complied them into a musical slide show. A classmate had them pressed into a CD and paid to copy them for everybody. He gave a terrific intro to the slide show that was 45 minutes long. Jane videotaped all the speeches and together, she and I taped our classmates responding to the slide show. Afterward I made a composite video with a window of what we saw on the slide show set into the full video of us responding.

    A year after the event, my classmate/friend who had given the moving introduction had a sudden heart attack and died. You never know.

  18. Ted: You are right about wondering if you could ever top your 40th class reunion. OMG! If someone ends up doing half of that for us, I'll be in heaven. Maybe I can take my own pictures and make a YouTube. HA!

    And yes, you never know about life and/or death. It happens in ways that continue to shock us all!

  19. Love Ms. Potter and I have a few very interesting books about her that I found in the used book store... one is a collection of her letters and sketches. And I loved the Miss Potter movie, but I didn't remember that she was portrayed by Rene Z.! I guess it's time to watch it again.

    Heartbreaking, about your friend and brother. Bennett (love that name) looks so awesome! Do you know, Spencer was in a live theatre production of FOTR.. he was 7 months old and was the baby! I will have to try and find photos of that.

    Nelson looks great at 70 as I 'm sure you all will... it's all in the genes... ;)

    And Ruth holding baby James, reading (of course) is precious beyond words....

  20. Margaret: Rene Z. did a fabulous job of playing Beatrix perfectly charming! What a gifted woman. I bet any book about her is wonderful. I found out her lands in England were donated to the National Trust. Maybe one year while there we'll go see them!

    Don't you love how all these events and memories of our lives become parts of one collective whole! Thank you for sharing yours.

  21. ...and you know, I picked up a used book the other day with you in mind. It is "Explorers, Fortunes & Love Letters - A Window on New Netherland.

    The Dutch were central players in the founding of America and are often overshadowed by the Puritans of New England and the settlers of Jamestown. I read another book before visiting New York a few years ago ... "The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, the Forgotten Colony that shaped America" (LOVED this read)

    At the time, I was pregnant with five kids in tow and couldn't tour the historical sites like I wanted. I haven't opened my "new' used book yet, but will soon. See... I just have to visit the Netherlands some day! :)

  22. Margaret: I love it...all of it! The more I learn about the Dutch, the more I'm in awe of this place I now call home. I feel so lucky! Thanks for sharing this extra comment.

    When you can come, please let us be the first to know. We would love to show you the non-tourist side of this beautiful country!