Issue 15

Issue 15 | 02.14.2019 | Holland, MI

A red scarf makes a heart shape in the snow with a vase of red roses and pink carnations inside.
From Michigan with love. Photo by Holland Weekly.

Special Valentine’s Day Issue

Love’s got everything to do with it.

Cartoon of a bespectacled woman holding a large card that reads Happy Valentine's Day.
Holland Weekly Feature Article: Dating While Clergy

An abstract painting in light blue with flaxen round shapes and dark turquoise
Pause by Meridith Ridl

Holland Weekly Art: Held Over! Practicing an Act of Care: An Interview with Artist Meridith Ridl

A frozen Lake Michigan scene from Grand Haven State Park
Holland Weekly Local Tips: Top Ten Things To Love About Holland

Holland Weekly Recipe: Chocolate Mousse That Brings Tears To Your Eyes

Madam puppy dog astrologer, Sylvia. Photo by Michael Tuccini.
Holland Weekly Love Horoscope: Sylvia Reads The Stars

A cutout wooden heart about 4 ft by 4 ft reads Happy Valentine's Day.
Holland Weekly’s favorite House o’ Flair on E. 27th and Columbia Ave. Photo by Holland Weekly.

Dating While Clergy

By Sara Freudenburg
February 14, 2019

I’m a second career pastor (let’s be honest—a third or fourth career pastor) ordained in 2013. In 2015, I found myself a 37-year-old divorcee with a tween daughter. Clergy, divorced, single parent, and…dating? Yes, dating.

Dating when you’re older is bad enough. Dating when you’re older and a single parent and you’ve been out of the dating scene for 17 years is tough. But dating while clergy? The complication factor goes off the charts.

Most divorcees get to decide whom they will tell about their divorce and when. After all, it is a terribly heartbreaking and personal part of one’s story. But not when you’re clergy.

Now, while there is no written rule that I had to inform my congregation, it was highly encouraged that I write a letter informing my parishioners of my divorce, because otherwise speculation and rumors could (and let’s face it, would) run wild.

I shared my divorce story with my congregation, and now I have a loving community who are so supportive of me. They are very interested in my happiness, and are watching me date while an older, single parent, and a woman of the cloth. And I do mean watching. Almost every date I first went on, I ran into someone from my congregation, or got an update the next day at church with reports of who saw me “holding hands” or “having dinner” or “walking downtown”.  I love my people, but dating while clergy is complicated.

How does one go about dating anyway? Apparently pretty much the only option is to date online. And holy cow: online dating is a scary beast, especially for someone who has been out of the game for so long. Filling out the profile is where complications really begin. Occupation: hmm, do I put clergy? That answer came to me quickly—um, no. But what to put? How about non-profit? Yes, that works. Body type. Well, I’m a divorced mom who works weird hours and is coping with rejection with copious amounts of wine that come with loads of liquid calories. There isn’t a check box for that one. So, average? No. A few extra pounds? No, that just sounds frumpy. Curvy? Sure. (Later I found out that curvy actually means super sexy…oops.) There were so many boxes to check and decisions to make. But I did it. Let the games begin.

And what a game it was. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My ex-husband was engaged six months after our divorce was final. I needed to see what other kind of men were out there. I found myself not being too picky when agreeing to go out on a date. I needed to get out of the house, I needed a confidence boost. Sometimes they would even pay (bonus!). I talked to someone for weeks until he asked for money, and I realized he wasn’t who he said he was. (No, I didn’t send the money.) I talked to men who ended up being married. I got more interesting “pics” than I want to admit. I dated a man for three months, and we were supposed to spend the Fourth of July together. But, he disappeared. Never heard from him again. I think they call that ghosting, but I’m still unclear about that.

Some men stopped talking once they found out I was clergy, but to my surprise, not that many. What was more surprising was when they found out I was clergy, and they became more interested because, “Whoa, that’s hot.” What? Seriously? Dating while clergy is complicated.

As time passed I finally started getting pickier about the men I would date. I had a list of the must haves, and there was more on the list than simply breathing. One day at my daughter’s volleyball tournament, I got a message from a man on one of the dating sites I was using. He asked what I was up to and I answered that I was at my daughter’s volleyball tournament all day. He replied, “Did that yesterday. On my way to grandma’s.” And that was it. A man who goes to his kid’s athletic events and has a relationship with his grandma. That was a man I’d date, at least once.

We had our first date, and many after that. He didn’t meet almost any of my criteria. He lived too far away, had way too many kids (6 kids: 2 singles and 4 quadruplets and no, I’m not kidding), and worked in an industry I didn’t really understand. We didn’t agree on politics, and the church he attends doesn’t believe women should be pastors. But this was a man I was excited to introduce to my congregation. (Did I mention he’s hot? Like Clark Kent/Superman hot?) He loves God and church and for some reason, me.

Let’s face it, being clergy makes life complicated (but that’s for another article), so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that dating while clergy would be complicated. You see, I promised I’d never go into ministry because I witnessed my dad’s crazy and complicated life as a minister. What is it they say happens when we tell God our plans? God laughs. I imagine God is getting a pretty good laugh out of my dating life, too. And frankly, so am I.

Today I’ve been with my man for 16 months and counting. He isn’t what I planned for, but I love him and he loves me for me—curvy and complicated and clergy and all. I am excited and nervous and hopeful for all that is to come!  Dating while clergy— complicated, but worth it.

Sara Freudenburg is an ordained pastor who lives, works, and dates in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


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An abstract painting in light blue with flaxen round shapes and dark turquoise
Pause by Meridith Ridl. 14×11 Acrylic, ink, and watercolor on panel box. Photo by Meridith Ridl.

Practicing an Act of Care: An Interview with Artist Meridith Ridl

By Kathleen Schenck and Meridith Ridl
February 7, 2019

Holland Weekly (HW) was so fortunate to connect via email with Meridith Ridl, an artist and educator living in Saugatuck, Michigan. Here is the interview, lightly edited.  

HW: What type of art do you most like to do? What is your choice of medium/materials?
Ridl: I have a background in printmaking/drawing, fibers, and installation work, and am currently working mostly with painting/drawing/collage. I find that I am drawn to a tone more than a particular medium, subject, or style. I’m really drawn to the delicacy and ephemeral nature of pencil (erasable), paper (tear-able), and paint (stain-causing and spill-able). I also think a lot about fragility and space…so even a blank piece of paper makes me pretty thrilled…and then to see the way a line or a drip can change everything…a tiny mark can be lovely or awkward or heartbreaking …these subtle shifts are really engaging to me.

A pencil drawing of string.
Two III by Meridith Ridl. Photo by Meridith Ridl.

HW: When did you become interested in art? What first drew you to it?
Ridl: For me art emerged quietly, amid the ordinary, where I was allowed to touch things, move things, stare, and notice the textures, tastes, and spaces around me. I was also lucky enough to have people around who let me make my mark. Growing up I spent countless hours making things with my Grandmother Esther after school and had a bed surrounded with tacked up paper so I could wake up in the night and draw on the walls.

HW: On your Artist Profile Sheet, you write that your work suggests impermanence and loss….intimacy and connectionWould it be too personal to ask if you could take us into that moment when you are creating a new work? If you could walk us through your process, either externally (materials, radio on/off, lighting) or internally (mindset, what occurs or doesn’t occur)?
Ridl: Often when I begin, especially if I haven’t been in the studio for a while, I feel excited but sort of scattered. I’ll walk around, stare a lot, look at collections of objects or unfinished pieces. I literally will just move objects around on my shelves and walls, look at a plant. I write a lot of lists. Titles and ideas appear written on walls and scraps of paper in my studio space.

For abstract pieces in particular I’ll often begin with a loose, gestural mark—just giving the paper or canvas an interruption. Then comes this tension between wanting to add layers and more and more or needing to be more restrained. A real back and forth happens…sometimes I just have to let things sit, walk away before I know what to do next.

That moment of thinking, I don’t have a clue what to do next, and then (often later) having a sudden burst of some kind of knowing—for example: I want an irregular blast of blue here! is one of my favorite parts of working.  It sounds almost made up—but sometimes (not all the time) there is this moment where my arm just juts out and makes a weird scribble or smoosh of paint in a way that feels almost out of body (I’m almost sheepish/embarrassed saying this).  I’ll think, Where did that come from? I’ll get really excited—egotistical even—IT’S WORKING!!!! Often that’s right when I wreck a composition. So in best cases I’ll pause—that waiting and stopping takes some awareness and discipline. Often I’ll miss it.

Abstract painting featuring shapes in poppy, black, and teal.
With a Kick by Meridith Ridl. Photo by Meridith Ridl.

HW: How do you communicate that the world can be delicate and compassionate? How is that accomplished? Like, wow!
Ridl: Phew! I wish I knew that I could!

I do think that if a person can pause and look thoughtfully, even for a brief moment, he or she is practicing an act of care and quietly protesting dismissiveness. Looking and seeing can reveal all sorts of connections, reveal that relationship matters…I am ever hopeful we can build from there.

I personify a lot of things. I have felt compassion for a whisk alone in a drawer (oh my). I love to notice edges, angles, tilts, gestures, and the spaces between things. These relational elements take on an emotional quality for me. This shows up in my representational work, such as drawings I’ve made of highly rendered snips of thread, as well as in abstractions where ambiguous figures, shapes, or lines lean toward one another, away from one another, cluster, or stand alone.

I’m interested in gestures that might suggest tenderness, humor, gentleness, loneliness…arrangements that might have a wobble, or that aren’t quite right. My work ranges from meditative, delicate, and quiet to more tipsy and quirky. (I have always struggled to reconcile the two…do I need to? Could both be welcome?) I think this may be where intimacy and connection, even compassion comes in—like when we form deep relationships where we accept, even celebrate, contradictions and differences.

Meridith Ridl is an artist (with a BA from the College of Wooster and MFA from the University of Michigan) and an art teacher (at Holland Christian High School). She grew up between New Wilmington, Pennsylvania and Holland, Michigan. She now lives in Saugatuck. Her work is represented by LaFontsee Galleries: She can be contacted directly at

Abstract painting with flowing smooth shapes in seafoam green with gray pebbles.
Depths and Shallows by Meridith Ridl. Photo by Meridith Ridl.


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A frozen Lake Michigan scene from Grand Haven State Park
Grand Haven State Park in February. For yet another picture of Big Red from Holland State Park, see The Internet. Photo by Michael Tuccini.

Top Ten Things to Love about Holland

By Kathleen Schenck
February 14, 2019

  1. The beach. Even if not especially in the deep freeze of winter, our West Michigan beaches captivate us. From the sounds of waves colliding with the ice shelf to the sight of a lone seagull gliding over the grayscape, Lake Michigan beckons us still and always as the powerful, palpable heart of our region.
  2. The diversity. With racial, cultural, linguistic, economic, political, religious, and educational (Spartan and Wolverine!) differences among us, Holland may well be one of the most diverse small town communities around. The stereotype persists that we are the Land of DeVos with nothing but conservative Christians from windmill to tulip. But we are much more than convenient caricatures that wind up the butt of the joke or the next national headline on the “homogeneous” Midwest. Hollanders know better, and continue to find ways to work, play, grow and learn together, as seen in Holland Weekly’s recent article on the Kinderparade:
  3. All the people who genuinely want to understand each other better, help their neighbor, or both. See Shanley Smith’s article, From Catalyst to Activist here:

    Young women in jean jacket laughing on hiking trail with hand over forehead.
    Hope student and Hollander Shanley Smith. Photo by Grace Hulderman.
  4. Tamales. Enough said.

    A man smiles big as he holds open the lid exposing a dozen tamales.
    Juan Rodriguez of Tamales Plus. Photo by Holland Weekly.
  5. Van Raalte Farm. Beautiful in any season, close to town, and free:

    A bench sits atop a green grassy hill with white gray clouds dotting a blue sky.
    Sledding hill at Van Raalte Farm Park. Photo by Holland Weekly.
  6. Saugatuck Dunes State Park (close enough).
  7. Hope College Basketball. DeVos Fieldhouse flips the script on typical sports arena seating by placing the cheap bleacher seats on the floor and up the first ten rows or so, while the pricier chairbacks are situated behind the bleachers. Seven bucks gets you a seat so close to the action, you can hear exactly why the Olivet coach got a tech.

    Bright lights shine down on the glossy wooden floor of DeVos Fieldhouse.
    Hope Basketball in the DeVos Fieldhouse. Photo by Holland Weekly.
  8. Tree-lined streets.
    A line of sycamore trees on a slightly snowy day.
    Sycamores line a south Holland street. Photo by Holland Weekly.

    A bright red maple and a golden yellow tree dot a neighborhood street.
    Rosa Parks Green neighborhood in the city of Holland. Photo by Holland Weekly.
  9. Blueberries, and the resulting pies.

    A tan crust with a cutout of an "S" with some blueberry seepage peeking through.
    Homemade blueberry pie. Photo by Holland Weekly.
  10. Mid-century modern architecture. (Article coming soon!)
    An earthen brick church with a sliding, swooped roof angled down and the north face made of windows, and the sides with tall narrow rectangles.
    Maranatha Church building on Central and 37th in south Holland dedicated in 1962. Photo by Holland Weekly.
    Chocolate mousse in four ceramic mugs.
    Homemade mousse in handmade cups. Photo, and mousse, and cups by Michael Tuccini.

    Brings Tears Mousse

    By Michael Tuccini
    February 14, 2019

    At every stage of this recipe before the final product, the ingredients need to be dense and lumpy. Each step must be followed carefully. The timing is important to keep the mousse light and airy. The temperatures are important to follow so that the mousse comes out smooth. If you are attentive and caring with this recipe, you’ll be rewarded with a mousse so good it will, as Julia Child said, “bring tears to your eyes.” Recipe adapted from watching her video repeatedly.

    Yield: Makes 5 cups


    6oz (1 ½ sicks) unsalted butter

    ¾ cup white sugar

    6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

    4 large eggs

    ½ cup strong coffee

    1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar or 5 drops of lemon juice


    First cut the butter into 15-20 small pieces and set aside to let soften. Skipping this step now will put a long pause in your mousse-making later on.

    Brew at least one cup of strong coffee. A medium roast is best. A light roast may be too sour, and a dark roast may be too bitter. Store bought cold brew coffee will work fine, too.

    Separate the eggs, yolks from whites. It is very important that there is absolutely no yolk mixed in with the egg whites. Put the whites into a 1 to 2 quart metal bowl and set aside to let the white warm to room temperature. If you have a bowl with steep sides, it will work even better. Both of these things will help when whipping the egg whites.

    Put the yolks in a one quart sauce pan. Use a pan where you can use metal tools, probably not a non-stick pan.

    Once the egg yolks are in the sauce pan, they must be vigorously beaten. The yolks will later be tempered, and if you skip this step the yolks will curdle/scramble. Notice the difference in color and thickness; this may require up to 4 minutes of beating with a whisk.

    Yolks after rigorlessly beaten.

    Combine ¼ cup of coffee with ¾ cup of white sugar in a small sauce pan. Heat on medium and stir constantly until it boils. Make sure all the little sugar granules are melted, especially the ones sticking to the sides. If there are any granules left unmelted, they’ll ruin the texture of your mousse. At the first sign of boiling, remove it from the stove.

    Next it’s time to mix the coffee sugar mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Leave the sauce pan with the egg yolks on the counter. While whisking quickly, very slowly drizzle a thin stream of the coffee sugar mixture into the yolks. You are trying to raise the temperate of the yolks as slowly as possible. It should take at least two minutes to mix in one cup of coffee and sugar. This mixture needs to cooked over a double boiler and stirred constantly for 6 minutes. Double boiler isn’t the right term because the water must stay around 160 degrees. This means steam will rise quickly from the water pan, but the water will not boil. After 6 minutes remove from heat. Whisk vigorously for at least 5 minutes until it reaches room temperature. The mixture will double in size and turn much lighter in color. You can tell the mixture is whisked enough when it forms ribbons when poured off the end of a spatula. The first 1/3 of the mousse is now done.

    The ribbon stage.

    In the next step you’ll be combing the 6 oz of chocolate with ¼ cup of coffee and the softened butter. Pour the chocolate chips and coffee into a bowl and microwave for 10 seconds. Take it out of the microwave and stir it. Microwave for ten more seconds and stir again. You won’t know how quick your microwave will melt the chocolate, so it’s important to only put it in for 10 seconds at a time. If the chocolate gets too hot it will separate and you’ll have to start over. Once the chocolate and coffee are combined into a perfectly smooth satiny pudding, drop in the softened butter. Whisk all three together until satiny smooth again. There must not be any lumps. You’ve got 2/3rds of the work done. It’s almost mousse time.

    Pour the yolk/coffee/sugar mixture into a large mixing bowl. On top of that pour the chocolate/coffee/butter mixture. Gently fold the two together with a spatula. Use slow gentle strokes so the mixture doesn’t deflate.

    Now, back to the egg whites. By now they should be room temperate. Beat with electric beaters for 30 seconds until foamy. Add the cream of tartar or lemon juice; this will keep them from deflating later. Beat them again, on high, until soft peaks form. At the first sign of peaks, stop beating. It is possible to overbeat the egg whites. Scrape the whites onto the other ingredients in the large mixing bowl. Gently fold everything together with a spatula. It will take a while before the texture is uniform, but this is the last step so don’t rush it now. Keep folding gently until all the little clumps of egg whites have blended in.

    That’s it! The whole thing takes 30 to 40 minutes and is totally worth it. Mousse is great frozen; it’s like really good chocolate ice cream. It’s great chilled. It’s really great right out of the bowl as soon as you’re done.

    Have a recipe to share? Email us at and help your neighbor cook something different tonight!

    Madam puppy dog astrologer, Sylvia. Photo by Michael Tuccini.
    Madam Sylvia. Photo by Michael Tuccini.

    Sylvia Reads The Stars

    Week of February 14, 2019

    A message from Madam Sylvia:
    When my human was in college, she and her roommate would sit on the dorm room floor and make valentines to slip into the mailboxes of their friends and neighbors on campus. Below is a sample of their work, 
    courtesy of Sloger and Schenck. They encourage you to steal as needed.

    Aquarius Jan 20 – Feb 18

    Aquarius! I like your canoe!

    Pisces Feb 18 – Mar 20

    Pisces, it’s raining hearts. Take shelter! It’s Valentine’s Day.

    Aries Mar 20 – Apr 20

    Ram, I hope there’s no serpent in your Garden of Eden this Valentine’s Day.

    Taurus Apr 20 – May 21

    I’d like to see you in your birthday suit!

    Gemini May 21 – Jun 21

    Gemini,  you’re tastier than a cafeteria lunch.

    Cancer Jun 21 – Jul 23

    Cancer, you have pierced my heart like a sandspur in my toe.

    Leo Jul 23 – Aug 23

    Lovely Leo, I hear you knocking on the door. Get in here!

    Virgo Aug 23 – Sep 23

    Virgolicious are you, dear Virgo. Shout it from the rooftops.

    Libra Sep 23 – Oct 23

    I would let you wear my favorite flannel.

    Scorpio Oct 23 – Nov 22

    I draw the line at you borrowing my underwear.

    Sagittarius Nov 22 – Dec 23

    We saw you dancing on the tabletops in the new dorms, Sadge, and we salute you.

    Capricorn Dec 23 – Jan 20

    Capricorn, you can swim in my pool any time.


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    Thank you for your interest in Holland Weekly.