12 May 2013

We had a lovely start to the week – Monday, the May Day Bank Holiday, was simply gorgeous. We had bright, deep-blue skies with not a cloud to be seen and it was surprisingly warm – the temperature climbed into the 70s F (20s C)! By Wednesday, however, things began to go south with falling temperatures and rising wind and spots of rain disrupting the clear skies and by Thursday it was more or less back to normal – grey skies and cold winds. Saturday brought freezing downpours and hail storms! What’s that poem? Oh to be in England . . .

One sign of the approach of “summer” I had neglected to mention previously, probably because the weather didn’t seem too summer or spring-like. The swallows returned to the neighbourhood a couple of weeks ago and, as always, it is a delight to see them. Every year when they arrive it’s rather like old friends coming back from a long holiday and it’s nice to think that these might be the grandchildren (or great, great, great . . . grandchildren) of those we’ve reared in the past. Fortunately, none have tried to inspect the indoor accommodation so far and a pair seem to have settled into one of the existing nests in the garage. Apart from the slight inconvenience of having the babies crapping all over the place, it’s a pleasure and a treat to watch them come and go.

Another sign of spring/summer – Penelope’s garden is just beginning to stir. Just about everything is late – we should have been inspecting bluebells this past weekend but there are none about. Aside from its tardiness, however, there is no stopping it – warmer and sunnier weather will arrive sometime (we hope).

After a pretty miserable start to the week, you will all be delighted to know that our Molly has improved steadily. In the early part of the week she ate almost nothing which, given that food is the only part of life worth living, as far as Molly is concerned, gave us a pretty good clue that she wasn’t feeling quite on top form. By Wednesday evening she felt up to being hand-fed her dinner with great reluctance (on both her part and mine) and on Thursday morning we managed a slow and erratic walk around the recreation ground. She still walks with a slight tilt to her head and is also still dizzy and unstable – as we made our way through the alley she more or less bounced from one wall to the other. Still, her appetite seems to be back so she must be on the mend.

Forty years ago Friday I was sitting in one of the many libraries at Yale trying to finish an anthropology paper when I was interrupted by one (or two) of my housemates. I think it was possibly Jordy and/or one of our other housemates, Lucy, who brought me a telegram which had been delivered to the house announcing the arrival of Benjamin Robert Stragnell. I’ve probably forgotten more in the intervening 40 years than I ever learned at Yale but one never forgets the moment one becomes a father for the first time (and the second and third, of course). So, another “Happy Birthday” wish to our Ben.

While we are at it, we might as well extend our birthday salutations to sister Sallie who celebrated another birthday yesterday. Many, many happy returns of the day.

MomAnd while we are passing out good wishes, we need to wish my mother (and all the rest of you who meet that particular job description) a wonderfully happy Mother’s Day. We’ve already done our bit here, of course, as Mothering Sunday in the UK occurs on the fourth Sunday of Lent which this year, apparently was on March 10. But my mother is such a wonderful person she deserves to be honoured more than once a year!

Finally, I ran across an article in the Guardian last week about Stewart Brand the guy who developed the Whole Earth Catalogue back in the 70s. For those of us who pretended to be “of the counterculture” this was an extraordinary publication which some have likened to the Internet before the internet. Sandy’s sauna at Lake George, of course, is testament to the durability of many of those ideas – it’s still going strong 40 years later, albeit with considerable functional and comfortable improvements.

It’s a long read but if you are interested you can find it at here.

Love to you all,