November, 2011 browsing by month


Monday November 28. Over dosed

Monday, November 28th, 2011

On Turkey left overs and Sunday sermons. I had misunderstood the mass I was to sing with. It turned out to be the 11 o’clock service instead of the 8.30 mass. My interpretation of the tenor part to “Jesu Joy of Men’s Desiring” must have passed muster, I still have my job.

The weather has been cold and stormy but I see a few patches of blue sky this morning.

Below are a couple of shots that I was able to take from Lisa’s balcony on the rare occasions that Mount Rainier and the Cascade mountains are visible.

Friday, Nov 25 Thanksgiving Dinner

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

This was the largest turkey I have ever seen, a little over 10 k.g. (23 lbs). But with 16 people there is not much left over. To me this is the most memorable family celebration of the year. I have many reasons for gratitude and it is was a real blessing to share this with most of my children and grand children.

My oldest granddaughter, Corrine, 21, brought two Italian student friends of hers with her. Their first Thanksgiving dinner experience. The other 14 were all family or family of partners of my daughters. Missing were the 3 generations of the Virginians.

Thursday I attended the Thanksgiving mass at St. Martin of Tours church, just down the hill from where I am staying in Fife with Harry and Lisa. Father Garry Weisenberger is the pastor at this church and I know him from the time he was our priest in Gig Harbor. His mother’s, born Lucille Jellesma,  roots are in Sint Nicholaasga in Friesland just a bare 10 miles from where my mother was born in Heeg.

Sunday, the parishioners at Saint Nicholas church, my long time parish in Gig Harbor, will be in for a new version of  “Jesus Joy of Men’s Desiring” . I will be the only male voice in the choir. I have sung for many years in choirs but I have never learned to read music. But at least, this time I will not be out of step with any other tenors/bases.   “Jesus Joy of Men’s Desiring” was one of my father’s favorites and was played at his funeral in 1956.




Wednesday November 23rd. Let it Rain, Let it Rain…

Thursday, November 24th, 2011


When I look outside I have a difficult time to understand how I could spend the longest period (so far) of my adult life in this climate. But it is perfect to stay hunkered down at the kitchen table and peck away at the “Mastmakers Daughters”. Lisa works at home and she and I have our backs at each other for most of the day. It’s good to be with my family again. We will have our Thanksgiving dinner on Friday, 16 of us, at last count.

On Sunday I sang with the choir at St.Nicholas church in Gig Harbor, where I have been a member since 1984. Choir practice this evening. After mass I visited with a lot of the folks from church and saw several friends in Gig Harbor.

In an earlier post I had mentioned that I would be riding down to California right after Christmas, with my longtime friend Brenda, but that is not going to happen after all.


Nov 19. Saturday Evening Post

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Scratch the 757 Virginia cell phone number I have used since 2007. I now have a 253 Washington State area code number. E-mail me if you wish to have the number. This web site is not a good place for that.

I will be spending most of tomorrow, Sunday, in Gig Harbor, starting with 7.30 a.m. choir practice for the 8.30 mass at St. Nicholas, my old parish. Now that I have a phone number again I will be making my plans to get together with my local and West Coast friends. I’ll be house sitting Sid and Leslie’s home in Bellingham from Juanuary 7 till the 17th and hope to make daytrips from there to Vancouver to catch up with my friends in B.C.


O'Hare Airport, Chicago


Thursday November 17. In the Pacific North West

Friday, November 18th, 2011

I am sitting at the kitchen table at Lisa and Harry’s home in Tacoma. The flight from Amsterdam to Chicago was about 60% occupied and I had plenty elbow and leg room in economy class. I took the very last seat, as standby traveller, from Chicago to Seattle and since all overhead bins were stuffed I sat with my knees to my chin over my hand baggage for 4 hours it felt like twice as long as the 9 1/2 hour flight to Chicago.

The 13 days in Holland flew by too fast and I did not get to see many of the friends and family I had hoped to visit. Before I fly back to Greece from Amsterdam on April 11 I hope to have that opportunity for an about three to four week stay in Holland. This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving, my two sons will come up from Portland Oregon and we will have the traditional dinner on Friday at Rose Marie and Donovan’s home near Tacoma. With four of my five children, four of the seven grandchildren plus their partners/friends we will be at least seventeen at the Thanksgiving table.

The below pictures: Monday was another gorgeous bright cold fall day in Amsterdam. I rode a bike to go see my cousin Carol de Vries and his wife Tineke who still live in the 16th century canal home where our grandfather moved his family and mast and block business to in 1928.


Sunday Nov13 Inspired

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

I visited an old class mate, Jeannette, from grade school years and her husband Henk, about 50 miles from Amsterdam. On the way there, I stopped in Hilversum to attend an Ecumenical service in the Emmaus Church. The parish Priest W. Vlooswijk and reverend J.D.F. van Halsema of the Protestant Bethlehem church co-celebrated the service. Every seat was filled. It was a very inspirational and an encouraging experience for me, having grown up in the Protestant church and at age 22 joining the Roman Catholic church. Reverend Vlooswijk gave a wonderful homily on the theme of today’s Bible readings “the Way of Love”. A Gospel Choir “Dabar ‘Yah”  livened up the service with an all English repertoire of gospel songs and hymns, including a jazzed up version of “Joyful, Joyful we adore Thee” from Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”.

Wished my mother could have been there. Today’s service is all about one of the passages in, my work in process, “The Mastmakers Daughters” when she tells about the service they held in the Dachau concentration camp on Easter Sunday, April 1st. 1945, the Protestants and the Roman Catholics using her New Testament, that she had been able to hide from the guards for over a year, and singing together “A Mighty Fortress is our God” (“Één vaste burcht is onze God”).

There was no communion but I managed to finally partake last Sunday in the R.C. Church in Sloten where the 83 years young father Bankras is still going strong.

I am practicing my rain dance, hope it works otherwise I may have to sneak out of Holland on Wednesday on a false passport, it was an other gorgeous sunny bright crisp fall day.



11th of the 11th 2011. S(a)int Maarten

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Holland was neutral during the WW I but in many parts of the country this is the day St.Martin’s feast day is remembered. The tradition goes back to the Middle Ages and though a Roman Catholic saint, just like Saint Nicholas, it has continued after the reformation. Our Halloween most likely has borrowed parts from this tradition and its earlier pagan origins. The children go around the neighborhood with jack o’lanterns and sing Sint Maarten songs in exchange for sweets and fruit. In some parts of N.W. Europe, like Friesland, the children also wear masks.

A group of St.Maarten carolers at my nephew's home in Haarlem

Yesterday I drove to the Lemmer where my mother grew up and the story of the “The Mastmakers Daughters” plays. I managed to find additional information and illustrations for the book I hope to have ready by this Spring. Not a drop of rain has fallen since I arrived in Holland on the 3rd and it is another beautiful sunny day, but cold.

An American Bald Cypress in fall colors in Vondelpark in Amsterdam



Saturday, November 5. Flying to Seattle on the 16th.

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

I am scheduled to arrive in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon, November the 16th and tentatively returning to Amsterdam on February 23rd and to Athens on April 11, just after Easter. There could be a hitch because the Dutch might hitch me to a park bench. They have become aware of the fact that whenever I arrive the weather turns warm and dry and when I leave it goes back to normal. This happened last year, this Spring and on Thursday when I arrived here it became sunny and unseasonal warm, in the sixties.  The sidewalk restaurants were filled when I rode into town to try and see what could be done about getting another cell phone with the same Dutch number. I left mine on the boat in Khios. No, without the sim card there is no way. So, to communicate with me use e-mail or a text message to my Skype address, jackvanommen, and I will call you from Skype.

I spend a couple hours with the old Schinkel YC friends in their club house.

Yesterday I received a digital photo of picture taken in 1910. I had seen it earlier but had never been able to enlarge and recognize the people in the picture. But now I could figure that my mother is the 9 year old girl on the left. See details below. This will become part of the illustrations for the book “The Mastmakers Daughters”, that will be one of my priorities this winter to finish in to a publishable format in Dutch and English.



Thursday, Nov 3rd. In Athens

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

The ferry was an hour late departing Khios and arriving here. But I have lots of time to kill. A 70 year old Dutch- Austrian-Canadian-Greek, and I forgot the rest, managed to keep my attention for a couple hours after I disembarked. He spoke some Greek and had lived here married to a Greek. He was born in Holland of an Austrian mother and a German father. A real character, good looking man. He lived in B.C. and has a home and has a 47 foot Scepter sail boat in the Ford’s Cove marina on Hornby Island. He went as a tropical plants engineer to New Guinea in the sixties. Shortly after he decided to study anthropology at University of Oregon. Then started a medical herbs import business. Now he lives in Austria but was on his way to inspect a house he has being built in Northern Greece, a very private person, so he tells me so I leave off his name. Oh, I forgot that he is a Buddhist.   

I finally found a luggage locker in the area near the Acropolis, in a Metro station. The first station lockers were all filled up. It is 30 years ago that I last visited Athens, Seth was with us and had small pox, he was a year old. I still recognized the layout and the harbor area of Piraeus.



Wednesday November 2nd, High and Dry

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

It is 6.30 p.m. I am in my favorite wireless connection cafe, having an Ouzo. The back pack is sitting in the Ferry office. The ferry leaves at 40  minutes after midnight. So I have a 6 more hours to kill. All went well with the trip to the haul out facility, yesterday morning. “Marvin” was already at the dock waiting their turn to be put on the hard. You might remember me meeting Rien and Gerda in the Khios Marina in September. They are the ones who told me about this storage option. I am forever grateful to them. It has been a very good experience. The yard did a very professional job. Instead of a travel lift or a rail ways, this is the first experience I have ever had with these sled/trailers. I am not sure what the English name is for these contraptions. A long trailer is lowered from the launch ramp. The trailer has been set up with screw stanchions to accommodate the draft. Then the trailer brings the boat to the storage location. The trailer is hydraulically lifted off the ground then the support jacks are put in place and the trailer is pulled back. It is a little more time and labor intensive than a travel lift but it is a much smaller investment in equipment and marina facilities. I am impressed.

Gerda and Rien had me over for Cheese pancake dinner, last night. They are also flying to Amsterdam tomorrow morning, via Athens and returning as well in April. I should have taken some pictures of them and their boat interior. They built this steel cutter them selves and Rien is a very skilled amateur boat builder and wood worker. I was very impressed with their choice of  interior materials and the workmanship.

Monday night I bid Berndt and Birgit “Auf Wiedersehen” after they came to dinner on “Fleetwood”.  I enjoyed their company very much and I’m sure we’ll meet up again in the Spring.