Sunday, July 06, 2008

Life Is Good

Our week at the lake was very nice, but too short, as it always is.

It was no different than last year’s week at the lake, except—unlike last summer—we had no guest this year. I wrote about our week at the lake last year on July 8, 2007, and I shall not repeat that exercise, as to do so would merely involve writing the very same things all over again.

My nephew is a year older now, of course, and he was even more fun this year than last year. He loved playing out in the yard all day, having fun with his toys and having fun with the dog. He knows he’s the center of attention, and he likes being the center of attention. He keeps an eye on everyone and, if someone is missing, he wants to know where that person is and what that person is doing.

The only thing he didn’t like was having to take his afternoon nap, but he never likes to take his afternoon naps when we are all together because he fears he will miss out on something interesting or something fun.

It was my mother who always took him indoors for his nap, and she always stayed with him until he fell asleep, and then she or someone else would remain in the next room until he woke up.

In fact, someone was assigned to watch my nephew all day, and to be at his side all day, from the time he got up in the morning until the time he went to bed at night. This was to prevent him going into the woods by himself or going to the lake’s edge by himself.

He was not any problem at all.

We returned home last night, and my older brother and his family returned to New York late this afternoon. We were sorry to see them go. I miss them already.

My middle brother is home for good now, and living in my parents’ house until Josh and I leave for Boston, at which point he will take our apartment.

For the next four weeks, until we go away, my brother will help my mother with some things around the house, and play golf, and go swimming, and try to enjoy his free time until he starts his new job on Tuesday, September 2.

He wants to go to a Twins game, so Josh and I will go with him to a baseball game sometime soon, and he wants to drive down to Pella, Iowa, for a weekend, so Josh and I may join him for that excursion. My father was born and raised near Pella, and my brother wants to return to Pella for a look around (none of us has been to Pella since 1993, when we attended my paternal grandfather’s funeral, because no members of my father’s family any longer live near Pella).

My brother is very excited about our upcoming trip, and I am pleased that he is looking forward to it so much. He is the Anglophile in the family, and he will find every stone, every tree, every gable, every road sign to be of great significance, and endlessly fascinating.

We will depart on the evening of July 31, a Thursday night, and Josh’s sister will fly up from Oklahoma City on Monday to join us a few days early. She will come early so that we do not have to worry about any missed connections on July 31 (she will fly with us nonstop to London from MSP).

This will be the first trip outside the United States for Josh’s sister, and I earnestly hope that she will have a wonderful time. Because of her, we will spend our first two days in London so that she may experience a few of London’s highlights. She, too, is very excited about our upcoming trip.

Our itinerary is almost finished. We are now at work on our itinerary for the final day of our trip, Monday, August 18, a day we will spend in Oxford. Because of the odd open hours for the various colleges and the many university attractions, Oxford is very tricky—and since we will be able to devote only one day to Oxford, mapping a strategy for Oxford becomes trickier still.

The fact that the Ashmolean Museum is currently undergoing substantial renovation and enlargement has made our task easier. We will skip the Ashmolean, which is supposed to be somewhat of a mess at present, with many sections of the museum closed and with many of the museum’s most important artworks loaned to other institutions during the course of the renovation.

As things stand now, our plan for Oxford is to visit the Sheldonian Theatre, the Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera and three of the colleges: Christ Church, Magdalen and Merton. However, our plans are only tentative at this point. We will firm them up in the next few days.

Preparing our itinerary has enabled me to get to know Josh’s sister much better. Over the last month and more, she and I have been in constant contact, talking on the phone and exchanging email and IM messages on a nightly basis as we have prepared our itinerary, selecting attractions that will be pleasing to everyone. I am pleased that I have had this opportunity to become closer to her. She is a remarkable and precious young lady.

If I have any concerns about the trip, they are twofold: first, I fear my mother will not have an opportunity to view much art on this trip (we will only visit two art museums, both in Saint Ives, and neither museum is of great significance); and, second, I fear my brother will be bored out of his mind by a third visit to Stratford-Upon-Avon (he and I have already seen everything in Stratford, twice, in 2002 and 2004).

My mother and my brother tell me that I should not worry. My mother insists that she loves the itinerary we have prepared, and my brother insists that we must take everyone to Stratford since we will already be in the immediate vicinity.

It is my hope that everyone will be happy.

I do not worry about my father or Josh. This will be precisely the kind of trip my father most loves, and precisely the kind of trip Josh most loves.

We will not hear any music on this trip.

While in London, we will studiously avoid The Proms. Last year, we all became “Prom’ed out”, intensely disliking the venue, finding The Royal Albert Hall totally unsuitable for serious orchestral concerts.

While in the provinces, we will not attend any concerts because there will be no concerts, at any of our stops, we want to hear. We will be touring near Glyndebourne, but we did not even bother to check for tickets—we assumed that all Glyndebourne performances have long been sold out.

Somewhat to our surprise, we have discovered that we will be able to attend some high-quality serious theater during this trip.

We will see two plays in London, one at The National Theatre and one at Donmar Warehouse. We will see two plays at Chichester Festival Theatre. We will see a play at Theatre Royal, Plymouth. We will see a play at Theatre Royal, Bath. We will attend a performance of The Royal Shakespeare Company at its home theater in Stratford. A varied program of Michael Frayn, Enid Bagnold, Somerset Maugham, Ronald Harwood, Alan Bennett and Shakespeare should appeal to all of us, I believe.

How many persons know that Enid, Lady Jones, was married to the Chairman of Reuters? Or that Michael Frayn has written a new play about Max Reinhardt? Or that Ronald Harwood has written a new play about Richard Strauss and Stefan Zweig, which will be produced in tandem with his Furtwangler play?

The centuries-long history and current activity of the British stage never cease to amaze me. British theater is always in a constant state of rejuvenation.

On the topic of rejuvenation, while at the lake I learned that I shall be an uncle again before the year is out.

I am very excited.

Life is good.


  1. I am divinely pleased that you had a fantastic time at the Lake, Andrew. Really, I am.

    Please accept my sincerest congratulations on your being an uncle again!

    Very kindly extend my warmest best wishes to your brother and sister-in-law, and to your nephew, as well as to your parents.

    Your family must be beaming with joy and jubilation. Thank you for sharing your joys to others through this heart-warming post. It is infectious.

    Hope you have a great week at work.


  2. Congratulations to uncle Josh, too!

  3. J.R.:

    Thank you for such kind words and thoughts.

    I am very excited, truly, and so is everyone else.

    This will hasten the return to Minneapolis of my brother and his family—they want to be reestablished here no later than November 1, and settled in, before the new baby arrives.

    Everyone is coming home now, and I am leaving!

    My brother and his wife do not know whether the new baby will be a boy or a girl—they explicitly instructed their physician not to tell them, so that they will not find out until the baby arrives.

    Perhaps we will finally have a girl in the family!

    I hope you had a wonderful July Fourth, and that your week is off to a wonderful start.

    Josh and I only have three more weeks at work.


  4. Oh, a girl in the family is always such a precious gift!

    I wish your brother's wife a flawless pregnancy, free from complications.

  5. Here's wishing that your final weeks at work will be filled with new discoveries!

    Boston isn't that far from Edina! Not at all.


  6. Thank you, J.R.

    We earnestly hope for an absence of complications, too.

    And whether the baby is a boy or a girl will make no difference to any of us--we'll smother him or her with love no matter what.

  7. Uncle Andrew, twice over.


  8. Welcome back, Andrew and Joshua.

    I hope your excitement over the trip to England will buoy your emotions during these last weeks in Minneapolis.

    I know that the inevitable move to Boston will be a sad time for the both of you. (I have plenty of experience myself with moving.) But things will greatly improve once you are ensconced in the new dwellings.

    I hope only the best for you.


  9. Thank you, Dane.

    Josh and I have not even SEEN our dwelling in Boston, as Josh mentioned on his blog, so I hope it will be at least minimally satisfactory, which I'm sure it will be--my brother would not have arranged for us to live in an indecent place.

    Personally, I am not all that excited about our trip because I have seen almost everything before. I am looking forward to it very much, but I am not excited. However, my brother will love the trip, and so will my parents, and so will Josh and his sister. It will be fun, and not too strenuous (mostly).

    I am not looking forward to Boston.