A Midwestern Event

To check the wedding page:  http://www.ameliaandpete.org/home

To return to The Forthuyse Homepage - http://forthuyse.googlepages.com/home

Under The Whale by Geoff LMV.

 After church, a whale of a wedding reception

Love by Geoff LMV.

Amelia and Pete, the new Mr. and Mrs. Grayson

Around 8 am yesterday I found myself sitting at the Kava House on Lake Drive and Genessee, half a block away from my brother Bob's place, sipping my morning coffee reading the New York Times and contemplating the events of the previous few days, as well as the trip back home to San Francisco.

Here is my happy and lucky brother Bob:

Proud Papa by Geoff LMV.

Genessee, by the way is a name probably derived from St. Genesius, the name of three Roman Catholic Saints, in case that interests you: Saint Genesius - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. One of them was Saint Genesius of Rome (died c. 286 or c. 303)... an actor hired for a play that made fun of Christian Baptism. During a performance in Rome before the emperor Diocletian, Genesius had a change of heart and converted. Genesius proclaimed seeing visions of angels and announced his new found allegiance to Jesus. He was killed for his actions.

There is also a Genesee county in Michigan (Welcome to Genesee County Michigan) as well as a pleasant town between Brussels and Waterloo named Sint-Genesius-Rode :: Rhode-Saint-Genese where I stayed with a cousin last time I was in Belgium.

Rode, rade or roede is Dutch for gerooid land, tilled land. Een roede also is a measure, originally one of surface area, but later one of length. The English word rod is related to this odd family as well: rod - Wiktionary

Met de roede krijgen means to get it with the rod--something bad boys know about.

But I am wandering off again. Let's get back to Grand Rapids and the wedding.

Lake Drive and Wealthy in Grand Rapids cross each other just about in Eastown (the 'Greenwich village' of Grand Rapids, so to say, be it on a very modest scale) and they cross at a confusing angle which tends to disorient me--I never seem to get the hang of what is north, south, east or west in that area.

When I want to visit my friend Diana on Norwood St., I always end up like Sarah Palin or John Kerry, going the wrong way before I go the right way. Having realized that, I try to make up for it and deliberately go what I am sure is the wrong way first, knowing that it will turn out to be the right way. Nope. I still end up on Robinson Road or on some bridge to nowhere before I realize I am going in the wrong direction.

By now I have given up and just accept that going the wrong way is simply the first part of going the right way. That seems to be the American Way as well. And those who always plan to go always only the right way, like central planners of bygone societies, usually end up going only half-way and never get to know what it is to go the whole way, all the way, both ways. Make out of this what ever you please. Piekerans van een Straatslijper Reflections of a Street Person, if you wish. I am referring to that book written by Tjalie Robinson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Tjalie is also mentioned in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Dutch_people_by_ethnic_or_national_origin

Actually piekerans is a word in Dutch borrowed from the Indonesian/Malay language in which the singular form is pikiran, thought, reflection, derived from pikir, which means to think, but it has been fully incorprated into Dutch as piekeren, to think or reflect, see: Todays Word of the Day is Pikir | Bali Blog

PIKIR: Opinion, Idea, Thought.

Pada pikir saya-In my opinion.

Pikir dulu!-Think twice!

Berpikiran: Have a certain thought.

Tidak berpikiran-Thoughtless.

Memikirkan: Think about, Meditate over.

Terpikir: Come to ones mind.

Tak pernah terpikir olehnya untuk sekali waktu-It never occurred to him at one time.

Kepikiran: Happen to think about something, Come to ones mind.

Saya belum kepikiran mau apa-I have not thought about what I am going to do.

Pikiran: Thought, Idea, Opinion.

Sepikiran: Be of the same opinion.

Pemikiran: Thinking.

Masih dalam pemikiran-Still under consideration.

Note: Another word more commonly used for opinion is Pendapat.

There are numerous such Malay/Indonesian loanwords in Dutch which crept in over the centuries and have enriched our language. This has been a mutual process, for Malay/Indonesian too has many Dutch loan words.

Rijsttafel for one--terlalu enak, most delicious

Bedien uzelf--Help yourself

In any event, I love sitting out on the terrace of the Kava House, going no way at all. Terrace is perhaps a bit of a pretentious word, een wijds woord, for the Kava House used to be an ancient gas station and the terrace is really what was left over from the place where cars would drive by the gas pumps under an overhang that protects you from rain or snow. But it is a great place to watch whatever is happening or passing along Lake Drive. Not much usually, but a few pedestrians on their way to work or a shop, some quite well worth a second and even a third look, if I may say so, for West Michigan is known for its natural beauty. A few years ago, President Ford's funeral parade passed by the Kava House. In fact he used to live on Lake Drive in the 1930's. 

Gerald R. Ford's Homes, 1913-1950

2153 Lake Drive, SE, East Grand Rapids, MI.

2153 Lake Drive SE, East Grand Rapids, MI

But this particular morning nothing special was happening in the neighborhood. It was quiet--except for some birds and a chipmunk or so to keep me company.  So let me back track and recall the more exciting events that took place in this Midwestern haven of quiet which prompted me to take an airplane from San Francisco to spend a few days here, where I went to college some four decades ago--on the old Franklin Campus of Calvin College--a school which moved out to the lovely Knollcrest Campus right after I graduated, but I swear, members of the jury,  it had nothing to do with anything I did or wrote. In this case I am innocent. So don't blame me. I think they just wanted to get away from the problems of the inner city--the kind of problems I always considered challenges and opportunities for growth.

All right, I came to Grand Rapids to attend the wedding of my niece Amelia and her fiancé Pete Grayson.

There--the cat is out of the bag--and it is Mr Orange:

Je maintiendrai--who you calling a pussy?

Passion by Geoff LMV.

Pete and Amelia are now a swingingly married couple

And they look like they will live happily ever after, for they seem to be made for each other. Pete and Amelia obviously chose the more challenging path of growth, for they moved from the quite Midwest where they grew up, to live in turbulent New York City. Not in New York County and the Borough of Manhattan--where they work--they live in the County of Kings and the Borough of Brooklyn, one of the five such coterminous entities within the City of New York.

Let me explain that San Francisco, a somewhat lesser challenge compared to the Big Apple but still up there as an urban jungle, also is a coterminous entity, for it is both a City and a County, though no Borough (New York City) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In fact, Pete and Amelia live within one block from where I used to live on Bergen Street, in the neighborhood of Boerum Hill--which once was part of a farm owned by Abraham van Boerum. My wife Nina and I used to own an old townhouse there built in 1855, which we spent half a decade trying to restore before our marriage broke up under the pressures of life in the Big Apple.

For more on the neighborhood see also : Boerum Hill - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

This neighborhood was featured in two of Jonathan Lethem's books: The Fortress of Solitude, set primarily on one block in Boerum Hill (Dean Street between Nevins Street and Bond Street), and Motherless Brooklyn, which is centered on Bergen Street, between Smith Street and Hoyt Street. In The Fortress Of Solitude, it is postulated that the neighborhood was named in the wake of gentrification. It is unclear whether this is true; for instance, one profile in The Village Voice confirms it,[2] while the same column rewritten two years later disputes the attribution.[3] The neighborhood is also the setting of Spike Lee's 1995 movie, Clockers, which was filmed in the Gowanus Houses.

The Grayson-Van Voorthuysen wedding was quite a huge affair, with many anticipatory and retrocipatory moments and parties to borrow from the cosmonomic parlance of Dooyeweerdian philosophy.

H. Evan Runner, aka heavenrunner 的好友列表 would have approved:

Oops, whoshee? Wong Heavenwunner! But then again...hmmm.

If you don't know what I am talking about, don't worry--it won't bite you in the ass. A religion teacher from Calvin College we ran into at Sami's Pita House in Eastown assured me that the influence of Dooyeweerd, Vollenhoven and H. Evan Runner is pretty much a thing of the past at Calvin--although it may live on in Toronto, at the Institute for Christian Studies. Also see: Reformational philosophy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

H. Evan Runner - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia He was a graduate of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (where he was deeply influenced by the thought of Professor Cornelius Van Til), and The Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It was at the Free University that he was taught by Herman Dooyeweerd and D. H. Th. Vollenhoven, whose ideas relating to the construction of a whole new way of doing philosophy Christianly from a Biblical basis radically changed the direction of his life, and whose teachings he later brought to North America. Runner's dissertation applied D. H. Th. Vollenhoven's problem-historical method to Aristotle's Physics. Runner had also studied at Harvard University, where he was a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows, and at the University of Pennsylvania, where he engaged in intensive studies in Greek and Philosophy.

That's what the late H. Evan Runner taught me mostly: ancient philosophy. R.I.P.

Here are some more references you may check out if interested (even if your name is not Matt):

Summary of the Cosmonomic Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd.

But before we get too  cosmic now, here is some more down to earth couleur locale:
from which I gleaned this important information:
Did You Know? Sami's Pita House has the best gyros in Grand Rapids. Their Cucumber Sauce is divine.
I say AMEN to that. I always try to take one of those gyro wraps with me on the long flight back to San Francisco. It sure beats the crackers out of airline food.

One of the highlights among the wedding anticipatory moments was when one of my nieces sang at the Hop Cat in downtown Grand Rapids with a band called Nomad Willy--and then gave an extra a cappella rendering of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot at the conclusion of the wedding reception the following evening.

Here she is--the talented Molly Bouwsma, a capella at the wedding reception: 

I wish I were a jukebox. by Geoff LMV.

Hereunder is another picture of Molly also taken by my son Geoffrey:

Molly B

Niece of my  aunt Andrea

Molly B by Geoff LMV / © Some rights reserved.
Licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license

Molly can be seen singing with her band, Nomad Willy at the Hop Cat in Grand Rapids

here, here and here *** View On Black

Molly has everything you might  want in a jazz singer--a great voice, volume, charisma, charm, looks, sense of humor, ('I wish I was a juke box') stage presence, authority, whatever it takes to become a great success.  Mark my words, she will be heard from nationally and internationally--at least, I feel that is entirely up to her--she certainly has the talent. 

Go, Molly!

After the Hop Cat  event, (see: About Us - Hopcat, Grand Rapids MI 616-451-HOPS and the Youtube video recorded there of Molly with Nomad Willy-Come Together ) but which I had to leave early because I was just getting too darn tired and had to go to my hotel room for some rest, the wedding guests in attendance apparently continued partying at the former Pantlindt Hotel, now renovated and renamed the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

The Pantlind Ballroom inside the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan

by those Lords Proprietors of Grand Rapids, Dick DeVos - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Jay Van Andel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia of Amway and Quickstar.

My son Geoffrey finally met his sister Saskia there, just in from Stockholm by way of Miami and New York, busy lady that she is--and whom I would finally lay eyes on at brunch the next day, when we were all getting ready for the Church wedding at Westminister Presbyterian, located within walking distance of all the down town hotel locations.  We had not seen each other for quite a while and it was a truly joyous reunion.

And here we are, Geoffrey, Saskia and me, John:

Fatty, Saskia and John by Geoff LMV.

Westminster Presbyterian Church, where the wedding took place dates from the mid nineteenth century but had a lot of work done on it, especially on the outside of the main building, which was halfway surrounded by a covered courtyard making the old shrine almost a building inside a building--very neat, much better than those usual after service social gathering places in church basements.  

The officiating minister stated that the important word for the occasion was trust and that was well said, for what makes trust possible is honesty and openess.

Dishonesty and secrecy is the death knell for trust in any relationship, as I said before: http://pages.google.com/preview/forthuyse/wijsgerigeoverpeinzingen-philosophicalre:

The core of the marital relationship needs to be mutual agreement and trust, reliability, support, accountability and especially friendship, sincerity, kindness, compassion and love--not false pretexts, hypocrisy and deceipt--but the precise way marital contracts function need not be universal in nature, nor dictated by church or state, but ought to be allowed to vary with the circumstances of time place and even in accordance with individual mutual preferences--within limits respecting public safety.

When a society forces, pressures or cajoles  people to lie or to hide the truth, that sacred trust flies out the window. I am sure that by now everyone is aware of that, for as we have seen in recent years, honesty, openness and transparency can be very inconvenient, but nevertheless, in the long run they cannot fail to impose their demands on society and on individual lives as well.  Dishonesty will bite you in the ass.

I am sure that Rev. Baak also meant to imply that in this truly beautiful and dignified ceremony attended by some 150 people, in the church Amelia had regularly attended since childhood. Pete too is a Presbyterian in faith and upbringing and the couple met in the beautiful Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church they both attend in Manhattan--shown below:

 Westminster Presbyterian, shown below, was therefore a most appropriate setting

A lovely church it is. It brought to my sentimental mind the small Lutheran chapel Nina and I got married in on New Years Eve of 1966, S:t Matteus lillkyrka in Stockholm, where she too had been a regular member. I think she was even baptised and confirmed there by the presiding pastor.

S:t Matteus Församling - S:t Matteus lillkyrka och Mikaelskapellet. är öppna för besök genom överenskommelse hos ... S:t Matteus församling, Box 23070, 104 35 Stockholm. ...Trans.: St. Matthews little church and Michaels chapel are open for visits by arrangement with ... the the St Matthews congegation...Stockholm.


It snowed so much that night and we had been feasting in the New Year so hard as well that there was no one sober enough to drive us to our hotel, nor were there any taxis--so we ended up hitchiking, still in our wedding attire, Nina in her white gown and me in tails and white tie, getting eventually  picked up by a kind elderly couple touring around in the deserted snow-driven city of Stockholm, to the cheers of the wedding crowd up on the top floor of the parental apartments on the corner of Torsgatan and S:t Eriksgatan, where the reception had taken place and we had snakedanced around the place to the boisterous singing of "we all live in a yellow submarine...'

YouTube - We All Live in A Yellow Submarine
  Crossing Torsgatan StEriksgatan Sun 13 Feb 2005 1332

The above picture shows you a little bit of that memorable event in our life as well which has long since become a fond retrocipatory moment. Ever since the traffic in Stockholm has switched from left to right, as this 2005 picture clearly indicates...The snow on our day was also a lot heavier--but clean, fresh and white.

Let's hope Pete and Amelia won't cause the Grand Rapids traffic to make a contrary shift from right to left--that would make my geographical confusion in Grand Rapids even greater.

I have every confidence they won't let that happen! 

In any event they were smart to get married in mid-summer.  Their official wedding reception followed in the late afternoon at the Grand Rapids Public Museum  -- which is right across from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, both located on the west bank of the Grand River near the well designed, brand new down town Pew Campus of Grand Valley State University, where Amelia got her nursing degree after her graduation from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor:

DeVos Center Photo

GVSU Pew Campus, where I got quite lost after the Hop Cat event

Amelia and Pete did  an outstanding job organizing everything. Each guest was given a name tag specifying the table they were assigned to by name--as an ex-New Yorker and one time Brooklynian I especially liked the fact that each table was given the name of a NYC neigborhood, since NYC is where the couple live and met. Amelia works as a nurse at Presbyterian hospital on the upper East side and Pete is a software engineer. They met at an upper East side Presbyterian church and from what I have heard, it was love at first sight. That kind of romance is such a rare event today.

Saskia, Geoffrey and myself were assigned to the Prospect Heights table--(see picture)

Along Park Place in Prospect Heights.

Along Park Place in Prospect Heights--a great Brooklyn neighborhood not far from Boerum Hill
Other tables carried names like Harlem, Boerum Hill, Greenwhich Village and so on. Our table was located right under the suspended skeleton of an enormous whale, which extended across the huge reception hall, chased as it were,  by a small WWI Fokker airplane, or perhaps, like in the old joke,  that Fokker was perhaps a Messcherschmidt, I can't be sure.

During the champaign toast when the new couple cut the floor with their first dance I managed to push over a glass with water, wetting my pants and I had to ask for a fresh napkin from the waitress, who smilingly complied.

At least the glass didn't break--on the other hand, that would have been a good omen, for as we say in Dutch: scherven brengen geluk, shards bring luck and happiness. The origin of this saying lies in an ancient Germanic tradition connected to Polterabend - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Polterabend is the term for a German wedding custom in which the couple to be married breaks porcelain to bring luck to their marriage. The belief in the effectiveness is expressed by the old adage: "Shards bring luck". The expression is derived from a time when the word "shard" referred to the unbroken clay pots of pottery makers, and not just the broken pieces. It was said that a full jar was a lucky thing to have, therefore the expression "shards bring luck".

The origin of the Polterabend is not precisely known. Some believe the Germanic tribes who threw shards to drive off evil spirits to be the origin. Others believe the heathen ritual of the shattering of clay sacrifice altars after a sacrifice to the gods to be responsible. It is possible that the Polterabend has a psychological motive: suitors who may have wished to have this bride for themselves have the opportunity to "let the steam out" in a socially appropriate manner, so that peace in the village could better be maintained. 

In America, it seems, breaking glass at a wedding is mostly a Jewish custom with a separate derivation--see Jewish views of marriage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The ceremony reaches its climax with both the bride and groom drinking wine. The groom then steps on a glass to break it. The origin of this custom is shrouded in mystery, and various understandings of this custom exist:

  • The source seems to be from the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Berakhot 31a; it has a story about the wedding of Rav Ashi's son. When the celebrants began to get carried away, Rav Ashi brought out and broke a crystal glass in front of them. The interpretation by the Tosafot (early medieval Talmudic commentators) is that even during moments of great celebration, one must maintain proper decorum. It may be related to the belief that it is best to temper one's joy, in order to avert inviting bad fortune.
  • The breaking of the glass represents the Jewish community's continuing sorrow of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem; no celebration is totally complete without the Temple.
  • Among Kabbalists (adherents of Jewish mysticism), this custom is said to be a reminder of the broken fragments of Creation, and our need to engage in Tikkun Olam, the repairing of the world on a spiritual level

With or without scherven or shards--in either the Germanic or Jewish tradition--everyone was in a most forgiving mood, the water I had dumped in  my lap evaporated quickly and when the floor was opened up to everyone, I first introduced my daughter Saskia to the dance floor and then we each went on to various other partners. Geoffrey steadfastly refused to get involved with an activity which he claims only to engage in when drunk and forced to do so at more private parties. 

Such as perhaps at his friend Radoslav's Birthday (Set) From the looks of it, my son is much wiser than I am. I have no hesitation making an old fool of my self when the occasion calls for it. It's a family tradition.

Radoslav's Birthday PartyIf I was Shrek Radoslav's Birthday Party

                                                                    Geoffrey          in green mood     with dame

GlowingCousins by Geoff LMV.

and here is Geoffrey flanked by normal cousins Matt, Trevor, Tyler, and Nick 

Warm Speech by Geoff LMV.

Here is Maarten, aka Bob, aka Voops aka the father of the bride making his wonderful, heartfelt  speech

By around 11 PM there was another retrocipatory party to attend at Skinny's house, but I could not pry Saskia away from the wedding reception, which had its own after life till the early hours in various downtown locations. I left Skinny's at a relatively early hour to get much needed rest, for the next day was yet another retrocipatory event at the house of Sandy Vanderzicht, mother of the bride, which is where I finally got to meet most of the Vanderzicht folks, mostly from Masachusetts and Hawaii, and some of the Grayson clan, mostly from Ohio.

By the way I have to tell you 'Skinny' (mostly from Sheboygan, WI) is known in Grand Rapids by this nickname because his last name (Van de Guchte) is so hard to pronounce by nietnederlandstaligen, non-Dutch speakers. My brother's nickname Voop had the same raison d'être, and so did Peaches, the nickname General Petraeus was known by at Westpoint. People just have a hard time with Dutch family names.

So let me be helpful and provide some tips on pronouncing Skinny van de Guchte's  last name:

For Germans: use an ach laut, an umlaut and an ich laut respectively: Van de Chüchte.

For French: use two r sounds like you pronounce the r in Paris or Chirac sounding it almost like Pahis or Chihac--there you go, but use soft aspiration in the h sound. Same as with Van Gogh--say it as if spelled: Van Ror and Van de Guchte like: Van de Roeurte ( And say the oeu as in hors d'oeuvre)--and generally be aware that the article 'Van' is only capitalized when not preceeded by a name, initials or a title.

For Spanish: Just say Van de Gejte, that's pretty close, but use an aspirated, slightly guttural g and jota, like they do in Spain when they say general and Jose.  Pronounce the e as in uh, or duh.

For English: don't even try--you mess up even your own language--don't ruin Dutch as well. 'Van de Gootch' or 'Mr. van de Gootch' will do just fine for Anglophones--or just call him Skinny, like everyone else.

But you can't really say Skinny without also saying Floyd and Voop:

Skinny by Geoff LMV.Floyd by Geoff LMV.Bob, James Bob by Geoff LMV.

So here they are: the three Buccaneers

To play it safe, I'd better not say anything about Floydd--Voop is doing his Godfather impression here.

Saskia had already left early that morning for Philadelphia and Geoff took off after the Vanderzicht event for Ocean City Maryland, where he lives. Marya and Mike Camilleri had gone home to Philadelphia, and the Florida clan, my brothers Karel and Ted cum suis had also left to respectively West Palm Beach and Citrus counties , once it was clear that Hurricane Fay was not turning fea, lelijk, meaning ugly.

Once most folks were gone and things seemed to quiet down, my brother Bob, his friend Bill De Horn and I went to Mangiamo, a grand urban mansion in a park-like setting  turned into an wonderful Italian restaurant, not far from Eastown on Lake Drive where we were able to relax with some excellent dishes outside on the terrace. Notice the giant Mona Lisa on the façade.

De Horn is more or less from my generation at Calvin, and like me and many of what I call the coolest generation of the sixties, a bit of a renegade. We share what I would call in the mumbo jumbo of Hegelian/Jungian  lingo a certain Gleichzeitgeistlichkeit. A word I made up out of Jung's Gleichzeitigkeit (synchronicity) and Hegel's Zeitgeist (spirit of the times) and by which I mean that we share that same Zeitgeist of those cool sixties. Sametimespiritedness or gelijktijdgeestelijkheid, synchronicité de l'air du temps.

A kind of consonic resonance which seems to put us  in many ways on the same wave length. It's a generational thing. Plus we both married outside our clan, we married foreigners, I a Svenska, he a Quebecqoise. While I live in SF, he lives in Montreal. Unlike me, however, he spent many years teaching  Inuit people in the subarctic regions of Quebec--and being taught by them in the art of arctic survival skills. I myself spent many years doing social work in the inner city, and being taught by my constituents inner city  survival skills.

Also unlike me, Bill is  a long time decathlon athlete--and I am afraid I upset him with my ignorance of that sport. I referrred to it as hop, skip, and jump and that didn't go over too well. It was greeted with howls of derisive laughter in fact, but the spirit of good humor and mutual gleichzeitgeistlichkeit came to the rescue.

Anyway, that was the night before in a mostly gay bar downtown I don't even know the name of and when the four of us (Skinny was there too) were a wee bit overinebriated and had been engaging in what my brother Bob refers to as bartok--nomsane? Burp.

I hope to have done some justice to this important event in the life of our family--obviously one can't talk about everything for that might amount to indecent exposure, but my aim was to give some sense of the excitement and the flavor of what we experienced on that Sixteenth Day of August, in the Year 2008 of the Common Era.

The rest is up to Pete and Amelia


I certainly have high hopes for them and wish them the very best!

After all it's a family affair! I just hope Pete knows what kind of family he got himself into - but you are most welcome Pete!


for sure

With credit to the Woodstock Generation

 Sly & The Family Stone Live 70`s show