December, 2011

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December 26

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Yesterday, at the 8.30 Christmas day service, father Bailey chose as his theme the Stillness in the night that Jesus was born. In the choir we sang the English version of the old Austrian Christmas song “Still, still, still”.  After hectic last moment shopping and traffic jams at the shopping centers, the parking lots were empty and peace descended for at least this one day. We had a wonderful family celebration with all my 4 West Coast children and their partners and 3 of my 7 grandchildren.

I came down to Portland with John and Seth and will take the train back to Tacoma on Wednesday.

Sunday December 18.

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Merry Christmas

I wish all the visitors to my web site a very special and Blessed Christmas celebration.

We will have our Christmas gathering and dinner here at Lisa and Harry’s home in Fife. Four of my five children and four of the seven grandchildren will be with us. I sang in the choir at the 8.30 mass at St. Nicholas and practiced before and after the service for the Christmas Eve and Christmas day services.

I have updated my web site on the web page that is dedicated to the Second World War, about the imprisonment of our mother in Nazi concentration camps. Take a look at : www.cometosea.us/albums/thewar.htm

You can read a very moving account of how she and her fellow inmates managed to have a CHRISTMAS celebration after all in Dachau at: http://www.cometosea.us/albums/Christmas1944inDachau.docx 

De Nederlandse versie is te lezen op: http://www.cometosea.us/albums/Kerstmis1944inDachau.docx

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Dec 13. The many faces of Mount Rainier

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

The below pictures were taken this morning, each 7 minutes apart.

My nephew suggested that I make up a calendar of my best pictures from my round the world voyage. I’d have a hard time with the selection. But by the time I move from Lisa and Harry’s view to Rose Marie and Donovan’s in the next week I might have 12 good photos of just Mt. Rainier alone.

Mt. Rainier (14200 ft/4328 m) is the second highest peak in the 48 contiguous States.  California’s Mt. Whitney (14494’/4418m) being the highest. I climbed both peaks. Whitney in my prime and Rainier in the seventies, led by my long time friend Pete Sabin. Pete and I had lunch at the Spar Tavern in Old Town Tacoma last week.

Be sure to click on the below Thumbnail photos to get the full view.

 

Dec. 11. 3d Sunday of Advent

Monday, December 12th, 2011
 

I brought my camera with me into the choir section, up front this morning at the 11 o’clock mass. In many of my blogs from Europe I shared with you that I often found that the choir outnumbered the attendance in the pews and that the average age of the congregation was above 60 years . From the below picture you will see a sharp difference on both counts. Eleven young adults wanting to become church members and make their first communion at Easter. I reported from the Philippines and Vietnam standing room only and the churches filled with young families. The American attendance ought to be the envy of most of the European priests and ministers but on the other hand the American church choir directors would give their right arm for the Dutch church choirs. We were just two tenors today.

It is starting to look a lot like Christmas. Lisa dressed the tree yesterday and Harry strung the lights on the house. This afternoon I stopped to see my good friend Roger in Tacoma. It has been cold. We had a full moon eclipse yesterday morning but it was foggy and cloudy, so, I skipped the exercise of getting out before 6 a.m.

 

 

 

  

 

Thursday December 8, an enchanted evening.

Friday, December 9th, 2011

We just came back from listening to the Stadium High School band and the Jazz Band perform their Christmas concert.

Olivia, my youngest grandchild plays the trombone in both bands. The school is known for its music program. It sounded very professional to me. In particular the Ave Maria from Franz Biebl which is based on the Angelus prayers and was composed for a male chorus. Beautifully done. The other one was the “March from 1941”  composed by John Williams for the movie of the same name.

That is one outstanding tradition in the American musical education. Every weekday morning a 6 a.m. they have their band practice at this high school. She makes her parents and grandparents proud. I wished I had had this opportunity and  dedication.

 

December 5th Sinterklaasavond

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

I just skyped with Henny Haars-de Ruiter. She lives in Canada and was one of my very first loves when we were in the 2nd or 3rd grade of the Borsenburgerplein CUS middle school. see http://www.schoolbank.nl/security.html?_a=login&_auid=725E66A8-4B93-43CF-93F3-BC4721D88634&_ufb=803B7FC449CC49CAB979028BD445CCE8 We would have been around 14/15 years old. The picture below shows me and Henny, left lower insert, with our teacher Mijnheer Niesink. Far right lower corner is Agnes Rakers, I went to grade school with her, also in the bottom of the insert is Leo Ulrich and in the picture far left bottom is Henk Spruit also together fom 1st grade up.

We celebrated Sint Nikolaas here yesterday, his feastday, his death, is December 6th and the traditional holiday is the on the eve of the 6th th evening of December 5th. I had brought a chocolate image of St. Nic and his assistant “Black Peter” with me from Holland. Lisa and Rose Marie, my two oldest daughters and my grandchildren, Corrine, Elliott, Tyler and Olivia were here to help bake batches of Christmas cookies.

I sang in the choir at the 8.30 mass at St. Nicholas in Gig Harbor. Our offertory hymn was “Lo, How a Rose E’er blooming”. I had help from another tenor, Scott, and it all came off well. I knew the lines from previous practices. Sint Nikolaas comes to this parish every year in the person of parishoner Jim McDonnell an Irish American Catholic who married a Dutch lady he met when he served in the Armed Forces in Germany in the late fourties. He switches from his Sinterklaas costume into a Santa Claus outfit in the end.

 

Thursday December 1st. On a clear day.

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

The view is breathtaking. It dropped below freezing during the night. It took a while for the fog over the valley to clear. But the cap over Mount Rainier fore spells that the mountain will soon disappear behind the usual cloud cover.

I bought my tickets to fly to Burbank, California on February 7th and to Richmond, Virginia on February 11th. I’ll be visiting with my long time friend Brenda in California and then spend a month in Virginia before returning to Amsterdam.

Last Tuesday I visited Zdenka Wydra, the widow of my friend Roman who passed away at age 97 in April 2010. You might recall that he hung on till the last days before I was scheduled to fly back to Amsterdam. She seems determined to take over the bet I had with Roman that we would make it to a 100. She’ll be 97 next month. Hang in there Zdenka! She is from Croatia and I got the details on making a pilgrimage to her sea side home town there on “Fleetwood”, this summer.

Since I cannot take pictures of churches while I am working, minimum wage, in the choir, you’ll have to put up with Mount Rainier, where I am sitting here in a front row seat.