Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...


(First, I must apologize to someone, though I'm not entirely sure to whom: I think I accidentally deleted a bunch of comments. I was trying to clean out some of the spam that was sent to this site's mailbox--some 2000 pieces so far this year--and in the process I seem to have deleted some stuff that wasn't spam at all. If you care to re-send your comments, though, they should reappear. --PC)

What with all the posting about our trip west, I haven't had much call to mention what's been going on around the homestead. I suppose I should correct that.

It's been, as most springs are for Woodberry Forest faculty members, a fairly busy time. We had one stretch where we put out two issues of the school newspaper, the Oracle, only two weeks apart. (Ordinarily, we release them only once per month or so.) I sat in as keyboardist for our annual Invite-back Weekend science show, adding a little musical flavor as Paul Vickers and Greg Jacobs delighted our prospective new students by blowing up balloons full of hydrogen and making fun of Britney Spears. I scored a bunch of papers, assigned a bunch of grades, and interviewed three applicants for our technical theater position. I read several thousand pages of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, leaving me only a few thousand pages to go. I saw the year's first Barn Swallow and heard the first Barred Howl firing off its who-cooks-for-you call in the woods beside our house.

Oh, and I was visited by the Ghost of University Past.

When I spent my junior year of college at Manchester University, I had the good fortune to be just down the hall from one Robert M. Lloyd, a first-year student of Management Science. Rob's old chum from his boarding school days, Simon Cleaver, was also attending Manchester, studying physics, and he spent nearly as much time hanging out in the halls of Grosvenor Place as Rob and I did. The two of them took me in hand to teach me the finer points of Real Ale and British driving laws, while I taught them about "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" and eating pizza with one's hands. We've stayed in touch over the years, but we hadn't all met since 1999, when I was directing the Woodberry in Oxford program, but that was over a decade ago, and we were long past due for a reunion.

As luck would have it, though, Rob and I, along with Kelly and Ian, were able to touch base a few months ago. Rob has been assigned to the British Embassy in D.C., where his expertise in international terrorism is highly valued. (Note: this is NOT because Rob is an international terrorist.) He invited us up to his flat in Georgetown, where he took us out for Thai food, introduced us to the wonder that is Dogfish Head Brewery's Raison d'Etre ale, and promised that Simon would be coming for a visit sometime in the spring.

Sure enough, in early April, Simon was able to shake free for a couple of days and hurtle across the pond for a brief visit. With his wife Steph currently taking care of both a toddler (Kirsty) and a six-month-old (Samuel), he couldn't stay long, but Rob made sure to drive him down to our place on what turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous spring day, and I made sure to get photographic evidence that all three of us are still healthy, happy, and continuing to age in the appropriate fashion:

100_2952.JPG(L-R: Simon, me, Rob)

But we've had a couple of other visitors to the homestead in recent weeks, including this handsome fellow who turned up by the back fence one afternoon:

100_2954.JPGHe was moving slowly to the right, heading for a clump of bushes on the far side of the fence, obviously intending to sneak up on something.

100_2955.JPGAbout two seconds after I snapped the pic above, he jumped into the air and landed with all four feet on top of something small and furry. He then took a leisurely trot back toward the woods:

100_2957.JPGI never did figure out exactly what it was that Fantastic Mr. Fox was hunting, but it was a treat to get such a long look at him. Between this and my encounter with that coyote in Cottonwood Campground, April has been a wonderful month for watching wild canines.

Hmm. What is it they say about mad dogs and Englishmen?

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on April 29, 2010 3:22 PM.

West of the Pecos, Part VI was the previous entry in this blog.

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