Tag Archives: Bob

News from Uncle Bob

Dear family,

           I think it’s time to catch you up on news about Fi and me, and our modestly extended progeny. Tim and Mara are happy that Mara is taking a new job teaching at the Wheeler School in Providence. Grandson Alexander is a junior at Brown, majoring in history with the accent on East Asia. Grandson Jesse is a junior in his Providence high school. He’s been doing terrific drawings and taking Saturday classes at the Rhode Island School of Design; he’ll do a summer course there this year. Mara’s two daughters are thoroughly assimilated in the family, but they’re now in college. Claire, the elder, is a junior majoring in philosophy at Union College, and happily engaged to Alex Fry, a senior, whom we’ve come to know and like very much. They spent a semester together in Cambodia and environs. Sophie, the younger, is a firstyear at Miami University, and thriving there according to Mara, Claire and Tim who just visited her. We’ve been to Providence several times this past year, and the Providence family have come up here as well.

           Rosie continues her work as public defender; she and John, also a lawyer, commute to Manhattan from Dobbs Ferry. Daughter Bethany is a sophomore at Harvard, plunged into archaeology while spending time in the theater as director and actress. She spent last summer in Peru on an archaeological dig, and will go to Oxford University for another summer devoted to archaeology. Her brother Matthew is a sophmore in a prep school in Dobbs Ferry. He’s a whiz in mathematics, and has narrowed his sports to cross-country running. We’ve driven down to Dobbs Ferry a couple of times in recent months, and Rosie’s gang joined Cathy and Tim’s enlarged family for Christmas here.

           Cathy continues working in the Philadelphia Museum, recently pushed upstairs to a new job in curating the collections while she hopes to find time to continue her researches in the provenance of museum objects. She’s dating, but at present has no fixed attachment.

           Fi has recovered from a viral pneumonia, for which she got truly excellent and sympathic care in the Holyoke hospital. While there, two nurses who took care of me last November figured out that she was my wife and came from the emercency ward to say hello to her. I had an embolic stroke five months ago but the only effect was on speech and, to a lesser extent, on typing. The problam was a disconnection between brain and the formation of words. With the aid of a speech therapist, I’m nearly back to normal.

           Fi and I continue research and writing. The Penguin India edition of Flora’s Empire, British Gardens in India, has been given a lot of attention. She has had several interviews with Indian journalists and critics, and has had two articles wecomed in Indian online publications. Her work in India grew out of her publications on British colonial life and rule in Africa. Recently she’s been working on British colonial rule of Sri Lanka. We went there three years ago and saw several famous Raj sites and several notable horticultural gardents. I’ve tagged along on her several two-week visits to India whose cuisine I truly love. It’s too peppery hot for Fi, but lashings of yogurt help. Sri Lanka, by the way, struck us as less lively and more repressive that India. The sober art of Buddhism can’t match the exhuberance of sculpture, painting, and the decorative arts of the Hindus.

           I’ve continued my more parochical research, studying the discovery and interpretation of dinosaur tracks in the Conn. River valley from South Hadly to the Vermont border, from the 1830’s to the 1880’s. I began ten years ago looking into the scientific illustrations of a gifted Amherst woman, Orra White Hitchcock, whose husband Edward was a pioneer in the study of Jurassic dino tracks (first thought to be the tracks of giant birds). I published Orra’s diary and then in 2010 I co-curated an exhibition of her work in the Amherst College museum and wrote its catalogue. I then turned to her husband and have put online with Amherst College two studies of his work, follow by two more online essays (Mt. Holyoke) of quarriers and entrepreneurs of the sandstone tracks which had attracted worldwide interest. I’m about to finish a related essay on a Greenfield doctor who made the dino tracks his chief preoccuption after medicine. I’ve mostly put art history behind me (no teaching since retirement in 1997), but over the years at Yale I taught courses in art & science so my recent work doesn’t seem entirely removed.

           Everyday life contines peaceably for us. Fi swims every day in the college pool, and I saw, chop and stack firewood three or four times a week. At Christmas Tim brought me a big bonus of hard wood from up the street where a neighbor had huge locusts and maples cut down after our freakish snow storm at Halloween 2011. He astonished us by his strength. I cannot lift the huge chunks he tosses around with ease. I’m nonetheless in good physical shape, and so is Fi. We fled the unusually bitter winter by sharing a week with two friend on Captiva and Sanibel islands in Florida (Fi probably caught her pneumonia from the airplane to Ft. Myers), and had the great pleasure of lunch with sister Mary who drove across the peninsula to meet us. We’ve seen Hugh, Jan and Patricia a couple of times since last summer. Hugh is coping valiantly with ill health, thanks to the devoted aid and love of Jan and Patricia. Now we’re looking forward to the third week of this month for birthday celebrations at Rosie’s. Her John’s day is the 15th, mine the 21st, and Bethany’s the 22nd. Cathy’s coming from Philadelphia, and we’re hoping that Tim, Mara and Jesse will join us. Bethany is too involved with theater to make it, and Alexander is similarly preoccupied at Brown. I’m not on Facebook but Fi is, and so we keep up with the grandkids although we can’t always interpret their postings.

Love to you all on this welcome April 2nd.