Views of the Monkeynut

by   Peter R. Lloyd-Davies

Europe 1997 New Hampshire 1998 On Kittens and Cuckoos 2003
Disney 2000 New Hampshire 1999 My Uncle Edward 2004
Europe 2000 New Hampshire 2000 My War Journal 2005
Southwest 2001 Seattle 2000 Amateur vs Professional 2006
Cape Cod 2002 New Hampshire 2001 2007
Opila reunion 2002 Seattle 2002 2008
Christmas 2002 New Hampshire 2003
Honk! - February 2003 Toni in Alaska, July 2008
Memorial Day 2003
July 4 2003
Maine, August 2003
Lake Winnipesauke, 2004
Russell is 90, Sept 2004
Europe, August 2005
A mighty wind, 2006
Turkey, 2007
Xmas 2007 pictures
Mike's graduation, June 2008

Views of the Monkeynut presents a vivid multimedia adventure unfolding the splendor of the Lloyd-Davies and Lynch atomic family, featuring, as the nucleus, Peter and Louise; as the electrons, Madeleine and Toni, along with their perky pets, Volt and Tillie. Discover the agonies and ecstacies of their latest travels, or study the history of their adventures from conception to the present through a vast archive of photographs, scientific facts, questionable rumor, text, graphics and videos.





New from the Monkeynut, spring 2008 - Everywhere, there are signs of spring in Larchmont. Trees get ready to bud. Birdies sing. And then there is the Junior Prom. Toni went with Bear Hiler, who is more of a friend than a boy-friend. By all indications, they had a great time, although Toni was heard to grumble that she had to get out of bed after only three hours' sleep so that she could attend a physics program at IBM the next morning. Here are some pics taken before the event. Also, the program (altered) for the ceremony in which Toni, like her sister before her, was inducted into the National Honor Society.


Madeleine announced a while back that she had decided to try out for Rugby at Barnard. (Quite a change from her usual quota of physical exercise - kudos to her!) She started out with coach-supervised physical fitness training, which she stuck with gamely while admitting that her every muscle was killing her. Then they began to practice on the field - more pain. But she was happy being part of the rugby crowd, which she found to be particularly welcoming and supportive.

Alas, her season was cruelly ended by a knee injury on the field. It was first regarded as a rite of passage - ah, Maddi has had her first torn meniscus! But a doctor pronounced that it was likely an ACL tear and would need surgery. She hopped around on crutches for a while, although with regular physical therapy, she found she could get around without them. Amusingly, she and a friend on the disabled list were deputized to try to attract new recruits, although they had to try to hide the fact that she, Maddi, had a serious knee injury and her friend a broken arm - "No really, you'll enjoy it. It's great fun and no-one has died on the field for years!"

She had the surgery in early June. Louise took her into Columbia Presbyterian first thing in the morning. She was in surgery before noon, and was out in a couple of hours, but it was then hours more before she had recovered and had all of her instructions and could leave for home. She has now acquired more hardware - a huge knee brace to immobilize the knee as well as her crutches - but she seems to be hopping around in good spirits and at great speed.

Before - can't leap a matchbox in a single bound After - the bionic woman! Able to lie on the couch virtually indefinitely

New from the Monkeynut, summer 2008 - Summer time, and the living is easy in Larchmont. Madeleine spent a couple of weeks as an assistant teacher at YPI - the camp she has attended each summer for the past four years. She assisted in the musical theater program; the class was responsible for writing a musical and performing it by the end of the week. What?!!! - I hear you say. How can a bunch of teenagers write an entire musical as well as memorize it, rehearse it and perform it in a mere week? Well, they are allowed to steal the musical numbers from existing musicals, but they write (with the teaching staff's expert assistance) a script that somewhat ties the songs together into a show. Madeleine enjoyed being on the staff instead of just one of the campers and found she got a lot more respect from other members of the staff than when she was only a lowly camper.

YPI moved from its former location to Bridgeport, which is a bit less than an hour away. This was just as well, because Madeleine is still taking physical therapy for her knee, and so Louise got to drive out there twice a week to ferry her to the gym. Louise was heard to complain that she spent all her time and money gassing up the car.

Madeleine picked up one memorable item to commemorate her stay - it was a defective YPI baseball cap - see picture below.

Not a just place

Meanwhile, Toni has been doing a community-service gig in Alaska. (No, this was not offered as an alternative to jail time.) Visions is the name of the outfit that puts together these groups and Toni surprised us by picking Alaska over a number of cushier billets like the Carribean. But she seems to have had a great time - they spent part of their time building a library for the town they are in and arranging activities for the local kids and the rest going on backpacking trips, doing ice-climbing and the like. Even rainy weather failed to dampen their enthusiasm. Here are some pics - more if you dare.


Meanwhile, Louise and I have been supervising the painting of the outside of the house. Quite exciting, though less so than ice-climbing in Alaska and considerably more expensive.

New from the Monkeynut, September 2008 - Life reverts to school mode - Madeleine is back at Barnard, where her living conditions have improved drastically. She has a smallish bedroom, although probably no smaller than the one she shared last year, and shares a common space, including a kitchen, with four friends.

Toni is back to MHS, where the big topic is college - where, when and how to apply. She has visited a number of schools, but has yet to come up with a definitive list of schools to apply to.

I just returned from New Hampshire. I delayed my departure, first to let hurricane Hanna sweep through (a fizzle if ever there was one), and then to visit a client in Middletown CT. They were made of sterner stuff than Hanna, and I ended up having to stay overnight to get everything done. Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, I headed north, in the rain, to North Conway.

So I ended up with only two full days there, although the weather for those days was very nice and I had an enjoyable time buying trinkets and going on a couple of fairly easy walks. My back was creaking dismally, but, as I have found in the past, it actually got better rather than worse as I proceeded. On Wednesday, I hiked up to Champney Falls, on the way to Mount Chocorua, and on Thursday, I went to Sawyer Ponds. The second trip was quite memorable; I was the only person on the trail and the ponds were very pretty. On the way back, I had stopped on the trail when a good-sized black bear crunched through the underbrush no more than 50 ft away and began sauntering away from me down the trail. I fumbled in my pocket for my camera, but he heard me, turned around, said Oh crap! and was gone in a second. After that, the birds sang louder, the river gurgled more enthusiastically and I had a big smile on my face for the rest of the hike.

Here are a couple of pictures; more here.

The small pond
Me with artist's impression of fierce bear

New from the Monkeynut, November 2008 - I am 65. For a while now, I have been noticing many of the early warning signs of seniority. First, I have known all along that I was born in November 1943 and so, if I could just do the math, I should have been able to predict this event quite accurately. Second, my hair, mostly grey and wispy, is disappearing fast. Third, my body is starting to behave like a car with 150,000 miles on it - one week I'm replacing the fuel injectors and the next week the muffler falls off. Fifth, my brain doesn't work any more. Second ... now where was I?

I do have a bit of a beef with the term 'senior' - it sounds too much like a 'special needs' child, or a 'developing' nation. I wouldn't mind being a senior vice president or a senior military officer because those titles make it sound like I am accustomed to order around my juniors because of the wealth of wisdom and keen judgment I command. But a 65-year old is in the process of losing whatever wisdom and judgment he ever had, so calling me senior is just sugar-coating the unfortunate reality that I ain't what I used to be. And if I were lucky enough to be what I used to be, well then I would resent the sugar just as much as if you called me 'old'. Louise has commented that there's nothing like being called 'young lady' by a bus driver to make her feel old.

In the end, though, it's kind of like democracy. In a democracy, politicians misrepresent their opponents' views, lie about how they will govern the county and pursue policies they know to be unwise in order to boost their chances for re-election. It surely a dreadful way for a nation to govern itself and its only merit is that it is hands down better than any other system on the planet. Similarly, getting old sucks, but what's the alternative?

New from the Monkeynut, December 2008 - first snow of the season. We had a smattering of snow last night (December 6). It made me remember the good old days when the kids would get so excited about a few flakes of snow, but I confess that I still get a thrill out of it - a clear signal that the season has changed, that the landscape can at any moment be transformed into a glittering fairlyland, that there will be snowmen all over the neighborhood with their carrot noses and snow angels on the lawn. And the ski slopes will be cranking up the snow cats and preparing the hot chocolate. And at some point during the winter, we will be up to our eyeballs in snow, digging out the driveway until our backs are killing us and vowing that we are headed south as soon as we can. (Of course, thanks to global warming, south may be headed up to us, which will save us the trip.)

Anyway, here are some pics to commemorate the occasion.

Welcome to the castle
Tobias, our faithful garden gnome

And, because I can't resist it, an amazing picture from the New York Times showing a Detroit Pentecostal church praying for a miracle to save the US automobile industry.

New from the Monkeynut, December 2008 - Recently, I was considering how the makers of chocolate bars decide on what a serving size should be. Chocolate is one of those things that some people get passionate about. Too much passion, particularly over the holiday season when self-control is in short supply, can result in bingeing, gorging, devouring and reckless munching until the point of serious cardio-vascular harm is reached, resulting in convulsions and premature death.

An amateur is one who says to himself: "This chocolate bar looks yummy and I'm looking forward to having some. But I wish to avoid serious cardio-vascular harm, so I will only have one half and I will wrap up the other half and return it to the drawer, to be consumed at some later date." The amateur would be offended if it were suggested that a serving size was anything but a half a bar. My extensive research has shown that the chocolatiers are mostly convinced by this reasoning and generally consider half a bar to represent the correct serving size.

A professional says to himself: "Over the course of my life, I have eaten over 1,000 chocolate bars. Each time, I have told myself that I will eat only half a bar; after doing so, I have wrapped up the other half and returned it to a drawer to be consumed at some later date. On every such occasion, I have returned within the hour and finished off the entire bar. Doubtless I shall continue to do the same every time I unwrap a chocolate bar. Ergo, the serving size is one bar."

I have now become a professional.

New from the Monkeynut, Christmas 2008 - In summary: a year of ups and downs. For me, mostly down, kinda like the stock market. For Louise, a bit of both; true to her Irish heritage, she has been an enthusiastic O'Bama supporter and she has been ecstatic about the results of the election. But she quit her job at Time at the beginning of the year; she's now looking for a new job and is pretty gloomy about her prospects.

From Peter: In November, I turned 65. Despite the downside of having to admit that I am now an old coot, there are many advantages of my new status. I can now enroll in Medicare. I can save $$ going to see movies and visit museums. I can get a seat on the bus and mutter angrily about the youth of today. What's not to like? I do have some trouble with the term 'senior', since it is so obviously a word chosen to make me feel good about my impending mental and physical decay.

The election looked like it could have rent apart the rather delicate political fabric of the LD/Lynch family unit. I think highly of McCain and would have liked to see him in the White House. But as the campaign proceeded, I liked him less and less. First, he campaigned as a Democrat - bashing Bush and ranting about the greed and corruption on Wall Street. I tried to explain it away to myself - OK, the voters are in a feeding frenzy and a candidate campaigning as a Republican will get torn apart. So he campaigns as a Democrat because it is his only hope to win. (Mavericky thinking!) But I am uneasy about this line of reasoning because it runs the risk of solidifying the public's perception that laissez-faire economic policies have failed, so that we must now rely on the wisdom and flexibility of the government to guide the marketplace. (Car czar, for God's sake! How long before the government prescribes the shape of toilet seats, as it does in the EU?) And the choice of Palin seemed to be another move dictated by political necessity with the potential for serious longer term consequences. In the end, I decided that I would rather the Republican candidate had articulated fundamental conservative principles and had then gone down in flames in the election. (Hard path to recommend to the candidate, though.)

So, after much agonizing thought, I decided to write in the name of my analyst, Dr. Augustus Fribble. I need hardly tell you that he went down to crushing defeat. But my pain was moderated by the improved harmony in the LD/Lynch household.

From Louise: Many twists of fate in the last couple of years – thrilling to me, deadly dull to anyone else. But I am going to torture you with them anyway.

Speaking of torture, I’m full of, yes, ‘hope’ that America’s standing in the world will be restored with the election of Obama. My heart was totally with his campaign. I’ll be mighty disappointed if he fails to feed the multitudes with five loaves and two fishes.

About two years ago I took a business affairs position in Time’s International Licensing group. It seemed like my dream job. But by one of those twists of fate, it was not; on the contrary. So this February I decided to quit. I would spend six months off, doing maternal and hausfrau things, and when I returned to the job market the economy (which had been flagging a bit) would have improved . . . (sigh).

How I spent my summer: Managing house painting. Packing up and moving our whole second floor for carpet replacement. These are some of the hausfrau things. Part of the maternal things: driving Madeleine to physical therapy in Larchmont (for ACL surgery) from her job in Connecticut. It might have totaled a thousand miles but was great conversation and music every minute.

One reason I wanted time off was to help guide Toni with her college search (more below). But in a truly grotesque twist of fate, Toni decided at that very same moment that what she most needed was freedom from her parents’ guidance.

Oh that mischievous fate. What will it serve up next?

The girls: The girls are doing well, although they have also been dealing with some ups and downs. Madeleine tore a ligament in her knee last winter playing rugby and had surgery to repair it in June. The surgery involved grafting a piece of hamstring in place of the torn ligament and the recovery was lengthy and painful. But she bore it bravely and is now as good as new. In the summer, she worked as an assistant teacher at YPI, the camp she has attended each summer for the past four years, hopping around on crutches and assisting in the musical theater program. Now she is back in her second year at Barnard, trying to deal with a blizzard of reading assignments and studying for exams. At the end of this week (December 19), she'll be finished with finals and will return to Larchmont to sleep it all off.

Toni had a major adventure this summer in Alaska. She went for a month to Tok, a small Athabascan settlement with a population of 1,400, just down the road from the mighty metropolis of Tanacross. (See accompanying map for further details.) She was there under the auspices of Visions, which manages a number of teen community-service groups. She learned how to hammer a nail, organize groups of kids and go ice-climbing. (Details and pictures here.)

She is now in the middle of her senior year of high school, trying to deal with the college admission process while rehearsing for next March’s Romeo and Juliet. (She is playing the part of the Nurse.) She is standing up pretty well under the pressure but she's definitely not getting as much sleep as she should.

Now the Christmas lights are winking and the bells are jingling and it is steadily snowing as I write this. Somehow, the prospect of peace and goodwill on earth doesn't seem quite as far-fetched as it did a little while ago. To all our family and friends (and the rest of you too), we wish you happiness and health in this holiday season and every day thereafter.

Love from the LD/Lynch family unit.

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