Turned in my summer grades yesterday, and I’m trying to clear my head of the unpleasantness that marked Teaching in the Time of Corona, preparatory to re-entering the classroom this fall. As part of the head-clearing, I spent part of the afternoon writing a letter of rec for one of the better students I’ve had in recent years, which helps. Meanwhile. . .
Although we’re only a short walk from campus, the Mid-Century Mondohaus is also in close proximity to a stand of scrub woods. We also have our own share of trees and such on our property, which occupies about an acre-and-a-half. Consequently, we get occasional visits from Nature’s rich pageant. I’ve spoken in the past about the encounters between the Hound of the Basketballs (PBUH) and raccoons and possums, but in recent weeks, we’ve hosted a few itinerant deer, and quite a variety of birds along with our usual supply of squirrels, rabbits, and such.
But the big news here was that a couple of weeks ago, a pair of birds — either Carolina Chickadees or Carolina Wrens (I’m not ornithologically savvy enough to judge, but Mrs. M thinks they’re the latter) — found a storage shelf in a corner of our garage suitable for nesting. Mrs. M discovered the nest, and saw that this wasn’t a mere vacation spot, but rather a starter home, as evidenced by four speckled eggs, which hatched in due course. Of course, since the Spawn now lives in Terpville, this gave Team Mondo the chance to reactivate our parental anxieties. Would the chicks thrive, or might one fall out of the nest, or worse yet, might the nest be raided by a neighborhood cat?
We made a point of following the Prime Directive, peeking at the goings-on from a couple of feet away, with Mrs. M keeping a photographic record. Along the way, she discovered someone else’s online diary of the development of some chickadees, which gave us something of a basis for comparison. And as it happened, the process came to an upbeat conclusion, as the nestlings have grown, and as of this afternoon, evacuated the premises. Mrs. M’s photo diary fills us in:
So all’s well that ends well, and I have to say — they were excellent tenants, even if they got the place for cheep.
In other news, the College is moving forward into the past, having received approval to begin offering graduate programs, the first of which will begin this fall. As the previous sentence implied, this is not the first time that Newberry has offered post-baccalaureate degrees, but since our most recent one was awarded in 1928, there’s a reasonable chance that this is a first in living memory, anyway.
Of course, being the person I am, I happily mentioned that at least one previous holder of a Newberry Master’s claimed to have eaten human flesh, but I suspect our incoming post-grads will likely be less colorful — the new program is through the business department, after all.
I recently got caught up (or nearly so) on Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series, having read the six novels currently available in the US. Duffy, a Catholic detective in the Royal Ulster Constabulary during the Troubles, is a terrific character (and I’d say that even if we didn’t have similar tastes in music), and his voice is funny and engaging. I’m eagerly anticipating the chance to read #7, which McKinty informs me will appear here whenever the publisher gets round to it. May that come soon.
I’m getting back behind the drum kit later this evening, and remain hopeful of taking the stage by late autumn. Along the way, I continue my eclectic and eccentric listening habits. Recently, those have led me to Seattle-based Dana Countryman. Mr. Countryman’s most-heard work may be a piece he did with Jean-Jacques Perrey, which appeared during an episode of South Park. But in recent years, he has specialized in vocal pop music, with an emphasis on the vibe of late 60s-early 70s AM-friendly songs.
I’ve previously mentioned my affection for the band The Red Button, who plow a furrow similar to Countryman’s, so it’s no surprise that I’m enjoying his work as well. As a bonus, I discovered that he has collaborated with Klaatu’s Dee Long and Terry Draper, both of whom know their ways around smileworthy pop songs. A really fine place to start would be Dana’s most recent album, 2020’s Come Into My Studio. While in a sense it’s a work of pastiche, I would contend that the album’s sincerity keeps it from being mere pastiche; more accurately, I’d describe it as a really good album that just happened to get its release delayed by about 50 years. (And given his name, the fact that he calls his publishing company “Friends Romans” is just a bonus.)
This track is from an earlier album, but it gives you a real taste of the work he’s doing, and darn it, it just makes me smile.
Hope you smiled as well. See you soon!