Visiting Doc Martin

I can hardly believe I’m going to stay in this charming Cornish cottage, used as the home and surgery of Martin Clunes’s character in the BBC series Doc Martin!

Ohmigosh. I’m going to Cornwall. After traveling nowhere farther away than Harrisonburg for the past year, this is huge.

We’d originally talked about visiting England and Scotland in the summer of 2020. Then the pandemic began, and almost all overseas travel was canceled. We told ourselves we’d go in the summer of 2021 instead. But the pandemic is still spreading, and the UK has a particularly virulent mutation, so we reluctantly decided that U.K. travel this summer, while not technically prohibited, may not be a good idea. Also, my son’s passport needs renewing, and we might not be able to get it in time. It looked like we’d have to put off our trip until summer 2022.

We had resigned ourselves to that, but yesterday Bob voiced something I’d been thinking. What about a shorter trip this fall? Instead of three weeks driving around England and Scotland, could we do a smaller trip to just part of that itinerary? Today I was watching a travel show about Cornwall, and it clicked. We want to see Cornwall, but it is rather remote from some of the other destinations we had in mind for our more extensive trip. Would it make sense to go only to Cornwall, for about a week, and to do it in the fall? Cornwall has a mild climate — unlike Scotland, which makes more sense in July.

One thing I’ve had my heart set on for Cornwall is to visit Port Isaac. This is the real coastal village that stands in for the fictional village of Port Wenn on the television series Doc Martin, which we both love. In fact, the house Doc Martin lives in is actually a guest house. I checked availability, and found that there were some days open in the fall. I immediately booked a four-night stay.

When I told Bob what I was thinking of, he asked if we could go to Wales, too — specifically, to a town some of his ancestors came from, Penybont.

I checked the map and decided that we could, but we’d need more time, maybe 11 or 12 days total instead of the 8 days I’d been closing in on.

One regret: Our son won’t be able to come with us. We could get his passport renewed by then, but he’ll be in the middle of the fall semester of his sophomore year at college. The big UK road trip we’d been talking about was supposed to be for all three of us. We’ve decided we’re doing it anyway, and we’ll assure him that we’ll do some recon on this trip, and then we’ll all take the longer trip next summer.

We’ll plan to do some of the things on this trip that our son wouldn’t have much patience with, especially some long, rambling walks, which he would surely complain about, or opt out of entirely.

May 2 Writer Birthdays

1362 – Empress Xu, Chinese Ming dynasty empress and writer whose work focused on virtuous women.

1551 – William Camden, leading English historian who is best known as author of Britannia, the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Annales, the first detailed account of the reign of Elizabeth I.

1729 – Catherine the Great (Yekaterina Alexeevna, born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg), Empress of Russia, who presided over Russia’s Golden Age while also writing memoirs, comedic plays, fiction, and a book about pedagogy.

1772 – Novalis (pseudonym for Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg), German Romantic poet, author, and philosopher.

1779 – John Galt, Scottish explorer and prolific novelist; he has been called the first political novelist in the English language, because he was the first to deal with issues of the Industrial Revolution.

1837 – Henry Martyn Robert, American army general who authored Robert’s Rules of Order, the widely used manual of parliamentary procedure that remains the most common parliamentary authority in the U.S. today.

1856 – Helene von Druskowitz (born Helena Maria Druschkovich), Austrian author, philosopher, literary critic, and music critic; she was the second women to obtain a Doctorate in Philosophy, and usually published under a male alias because of predominant sexism.

1858 – Edith Somerville, Greek-born Irish author and artist who wrote stories and novels with her cousin Violet Martin, sometimes using the joint pen name “Somerville and Ross”; she was also a skilled sportswoman, an accomplished artist, and an activist for women’s rights and Irish nationalism.

1859 – Jerome K. Jerome, English playwright, journalist, editor, and author of humorous novels, best known for the travelogue Three Men in a Boat.

1860 – Theodor Herzl, Austro-Hungarian Jewish playwright, journalist, and activist who is considered the father of modern Zionism.

1872 – Ichiyo Higuchi (Higuchi Natsu), Japanese novelist, short-story writer, poet, and diarist who was one of Japan’s first prominent women writers of modern times; she died at age 24 so she did not leave a large body of work, but her stories greatly influenced Japanese literature.

1890 – Hedda Hopper, American actress, journalist, and iconic gossip columnist.

1890 – E.E. Smith, American food engineer and early science-fiction author; he is known as the father of space opera.

1895 – Larissa Reissner, Russian Bolshevik writer, soldier, poet, diplomat, journalist, and revolutionary leader.

1903 – Benjamin Spock, American pediatrician whose baby-care book was a huge bestseller for decades.

1921 – Satyajit Ray, Indian film director, screenwriter, fiction writer, film critic, and calligrapher.

1931 – Martha Grimes, American author of detective fiction.

1936 – Norma Aleandro Robledo, award-winning Argentine actress, screenwriter, theater director, author, and cultural icon.

1936 – Kwon-taek Im (also called Im Kwon Taek), Korean film director and screenwriter.

1949 – Alan Titchmarsh, English broadcaster, gardening journalist, and novelist.

1971 – Maria Sole Tognazzi, Italian screenwriter and film director.

Pandemic Progress

One year ago today, the mask mandates were still relatively new, and it was a novelty to see that someone had placed one on the mouth of our neighborhood cannon. Here are my husband and son posing with it.

I haven’t posted a general covid-19 update in a while, but I do want to keep track of what’s happening when, throughout the pandemic. Someday I will want to remember what was happening at each stage of the pandemic year(s).

Covid tests have become easy to get. At least, they are here, but I assume it’s similar through much of the country. My city has kiosks open every day in various locations for easy, convenient, and free tests for anyone who wants them. I remember last summer, when even symptoms and a doctor’s order didn’t mean you could actually get tested. So we’ve made huge progress there.

The really big news is vaccinations. The United States has gone from having one of the worst organized pandemic responses in the world to having a higher percentage of people fully vaccinated than almost any country in the world. What a difference a new presidential administration makes!

We currently stand at 30% of the U.S. population fully vaccinated. Alexandria’s percentage is slightly higher at 32%, but I don’t think the numbers can be compared; Alexandria is counting the percentage of people age 16 and older, not the total population. No vaccine has yet been approved for people under the age of 16.

Appallingly, some of the poorest countries in the world have the lowest numbers of vaccinated people, because the vaccines are just not available there. I have heard that we are going to be shipping doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine — not yet approved for use here in the U.S., but being used successfully in many parts of the world — to India, which is being particularly hard hit right now.

Even within the United States, we don’t have equity. White people and those on higher socioeconomic levels are more likely to be vaccinated. Some of this is because of unequal access to the vaccination in particular and health care in general. But there are still many people who could get the shots but refuse to. Some just don’t trust the government and the medical community to be telling them the truth about its safety. Some are waiting until it has full approval from the FDA (currently it has emergency approval only). And others, despite a worldwide death toll of more than 3 million people, refuse the vaccine because they still insist that covid-19 doesn’t exist, but is a myth told by Democrats to keep Donald Trump from winning the election. (Which, of course, they believe he won anyway.)

The really way-out-there types believe all sorts of nonsensical, conspiracy-theory QAnon-like lies that are being spread about the shots. I’ve heard that it injects a chip into your body so that Microsoft founder Bill Gates can track your movements. Puh-lease. If Bill Gates wanted to track your movements, he could do it much more easily through your laptop or cell phone. Then there’s the Mark of the Beast theory: the vaccine is an instrument of Satan, and those who get the shot will break out with the Mark of the Beast. Another group says it causes female infertility, though there is no evidence of this; the heads of one private school in Florida are so convinced of this one that they have forbidden teachers from getting the shot, because they actually believe that the teachers and any female students who are near them will be rendered infertile. Where do people get this stuff?

In any case, as more and more people are vaccinated, lockdown restrictions have been easing around the country. A year ago, they had just gotten started, and we’d been told, in some parts of the country, that we should wear masks whenever we left our homes. One of the most frustrating thing about restrictions in the U.S. is that each state sets its own rules, which may or may not follow the national Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Even those guidelines are suspect; sometimes they seem to be based more on what’s politically expedient than on what’s scientifically appropriate. But some states ignore them altogether. South Dakota set very few restrictions in the first place; Georgia and Texas lifted their mask mandates much too early. And in various parts of the country, calls to reopen schools, churches, and businesses have resulted in increased spread of the virus.

Here in Virginia, our governor — the governor of a U.S. state who is actually a medical doctor — has only recently eased up on some of the restrictions, in line with the CDC’s new guidelines. Restaurants can have more people eating inside, but are still not allowed to operate at capacity. People can remove their masks at small indoor gatherings, if everyone present is fully vaccinated. Large crowds are still required to wear masks. Locally, schools here are open in person on a limited basis, with some students still taking classes from home full-time and others in the classroom two days a week and learning from home the other days.

I worry that some of this may be premature. Until we know for sure whether vaccinated people can contract and spread the disease, I feel we should be erring on the side of caution and keeping our masks on. But I can’t fight the CDC, even if I do think the decision was not made for purely medical reasons. Personally, I am continuing all of my covid safeguards at least until my son is fully vaccinated. I am now fully vaccinated, with the Pfizer vaccine. My husband has been fully vaccinated (with Moderna) for some time. Jon Morgan has had his first dose of Pfizer and will get his second shot next week, on campus.

Once he’s fully protected, we might consider traveling somewhere this summer. Nothing too far away (Europe is still banning Americans, so that’s not on the table anyway.) I am so ready for that day when we can feel free to move about the country.

May 1 Writer Birthdays

1672 – Joseph Addison, English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician.

1751 – Judith Sargent Murray, American essay writer, poet, playwright, philosopher, and influential advocate for women’s rights.

1848 – James Ford Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning American industrialist, historian, and author whose work includes a seven-volume history of the United States.

1855 – Mary Mackay (also known by her pseudonym Marie Corelli), popular English novelist and poet whose novels sold more than those of her contemporaries Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wills, and Rudyard Kipling combined.

1856 – K. Langloh Parker (pen name of Catherine Eliza Somerville Stow), Australian writer who is best known for recording the stories of the Ualarai Aboriginal people.

1856 – Raphaël Rafiringa (born Firinga), Malagasy writer and missionary who has been beatified by the Roman Catholic church.

1864 – Anna Bøe, Norwegian journalist who cofounder the women’s magazine Urd and served as its editor for 37 years.

1867 – Mary Rice Phelps, African-American teacher and writer who began her teaching career at 13 years old.

1881 – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French idealist philosopher, writer, Jesuit priest, paleontologist, and geologist.

1888 – Millicent Sylvia Armstrong, Australian playwright and farmer who wrote primarily about country life in early 20th-century Australia.

1900 – Ignazio Silone (pen name for Secondino Tranquilli), Italian novelist, essayist, and political activist.

1901 – Sterling A. Brown, African-American poet, folklorist, and critic.

1901 – Antal Szerb, Hungarian writer, poet, translator, university teacher, literary critic, and literary historian who is considered to be one of the major Hungarian writers of the 20th century.

1904 – M.P. Paul (Menacherry Poulose Paul) Indian Malayalam academic, educationist, scholar, and literary critic who was a key literary critic of Malayalam literature.

1905 – Maria José Dupré (also known as Sra. Leandro Dupré), award-winning novelist and short-story writers who was one of the most popular and prolific Brazilian writers of the 1940s and 1950s; her work has been adapted multiple times for telenovelas.

1905 – Edna May Hull van Vogt, Canadian author and science-fiction writer who published under the name E. Mayne Hull; she was married to science-fiction writer A.E. van Vogt.

1908 – Niccolo Tucci, Swiss and Italian author of autobiographical fiction.

1912 – Tugelbay Sydykbekov, award-winning Kyrgyzstani writer, poet, politician, and artist who was known as the “patriarch of Kyrgyz literature.”

1913 – Victor Stafford Reid, influential Jamaican author who is credited with writing the first West Indies novel to be written throughout in a dialect; his work is an attempt to break away from Victorianism and to embrace the Jamaican independence movement.

1915 – Khin Myo Chit (born Khin Mya), award-winning Burmese author, short-story writer, editor, poet, travel writer, autobiographer, and journalist.

1917 – Elizabeth Marie Pope, Newbery Honor-winning American author and young-adult writer who wrote both fiction and nonfiction, most of it based in the Elizabethan age.

1923 – Joseph Heller, American novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and playwright whose satirical novel Catch-22 is a classic of war fiction; its title has become synonymous with an absurd or contradictory choice.

1927 – Morio Kita, pen name of Sokichi Saito, Japanese novelist, essayist, screenwriter, children’s writer, and psychiatrist.

1927 – Akira Yoshimura, Japanese writer, screenwriter, and novelist.

1929 – Tamar Bornstein-Lazar, Israeli children’s writer who is best known for her book series featuring the monkeys Kofiko and Chipopo.

1931 – Jamshid Giunashvili, award-winning Iranian-born Georgian writer, academic, linguist, Iranologist, researcher, author, and diplomat who served as the first ambassador of Georgia to Iran.

1931 – Elsie Gunborg Johansson, Swedish writer and children’s author who is sometimes considered a proletarian writer.

1939 – María Victoria Moreno, Spanish writer and teacher who was a pioneer of literature for children and young people in Galician.

1940 – Bobbie Ann Mason, American novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and literary critic whose memoir was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

1945 – Yoko Aki, Japanese novelist, essayist, lyricist, songwriter, and actress.

1947 – Marilar Aleixandre, Spanish Galician writer, translator, children’s author, and biologist.

1948 – Terry Goodkind, American writer known for the epic fantasy series The Sword of Truth as well as the contemporary suspense novel The Law of Nines.

1949 – Vishakha N. Desai, Indian-born American scholar of Asian studies whose work focuses on art, culture, policy, and women’s rights.

1950 – Werewere Liking, award-winning Cameroon-born writer, novelist, playwright, and performer based in Côte d’Ivoire; she established the Ki-Yi Mbock theatre troupe and founded the Ki-Yi village for the artistic education of young people.

1951 – Omar Abdul-Kafi, Egyptian islamic scholar, writer, and biologist.

1951 – Kerttu Maarit Kirsti Vuolab, Finnish Sámi author, illustrator, translator and songwriter, who has made it her life mission to ensure that the Sámi oral tradition, language, and culture are passed on to future generations of Sámi.

1956 – Aravind Malagatti, prominent, award-winning Indian Dalit poet, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, critic, and folklorist who writes in Kannada.

1958 – Jelka Godec Schmidt, Slovenian writer, illustrator, and children’s author.

1959 – Yasmina Reza, French screenwriter, playwright, novelist, translator, linguist, and actress; many of her brief, satiric plays reflect on contemporary middle-class issues.

1962 – Yoon Dae-nyeong, award-winning South Korean novelist, short-story writer, and poet who captures the ethos and sensibilities of Korean people during the 1990s.

1963 – Laura Mary Catherine Beatty (née Keen), award-winning British writer, novelist, and biographer.

1970 – Cylin Busby, American author, journalist, screenwriter, memoirist, and children’s writer.

1970 – Priscilla Gilman, American writer, professor, and advocate for autistic people; she has written about about literature, parenting, education, and autism and is best known for her book, The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy, which was inspired by her autistic son Benjamin.

1973 – Susane Colasanti, bestselling American author of realistic, contemporary teen novels.

1989 – Khrystyna Koslovska, Ukrainian writer, poet, and journalist.

Photo Friday: Dogwood Library

Last year we planted a pink dogwood in our front yard, and this month it has been breathtaking. I took this photo a few days ago, when the blooms were a bit past their peak, but I love this side view of my Little Free Library, seen beyond the dogwood branches.

The dogwood is both the state tree and the state flower of Virginia. We have two in our front yard, a white one and my favorite, this pink dogwood.

April 30 Author Birthdays

1830 – Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Khan Tarzi, Afghanistani Pashtun poet, scholar, soldier, politician, and military leader.

1864 – Juhan Liiv, Estonian writer, teacher, and journalist who was also one of Estonia’s greatest poets.

1877 – Alice B. Toklas, American-born member of the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde literary scene and lifelong companion of Gertrude Stein; Stein wrote the mock-memoir The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, which became her bestselling book, and thirty years later Toklas wrote her own autobiography, What Is Remembered, which ends abruptly with the death of Stein. She also wrote articles and several cookbooks.

1883 – Jaroslav Hašek, Czech novelist, humorist, satirist, journalist, and bohemian; his best known work, the World War I novel The Fate of the Good Soldier Švejk — an unfinished collection of farcical incidents about a soldier, which satirizes the ineptitude of authority figures — has been translated into 60 languages, making it the most translated novel in Czech literature.

1888 – John Crowe Ransom, National Book Award-winning American poet, educator, scholar, literary critic, essayist, and editor who is considered a founder of the New Criticism school of literary criticism

1910 – Sri Sri, Indian poet, author, and lyricist in the Telugu language.

1911 – Clara Kathleen “Kay” Smith, award-winnning Canadian poet who published her first poem at the age of 14.

1919 – Åke Hodell, Swedish author, poet, book publisher, graphic artist, painter, composer, and fighter pilot.

1920 – Gerda Lerner, Austrian-born American women’s history scholar, writer, poet, screenwriter, playwright, professor, historian, and autobiographer who was one of the founders of the academic field of women’s history.

1926 – Alda Neves da Graça do Espírito Santo, poet, writer, and politician from São Tomé and Príncipe (an African island nation close to the equator); she wrote in Portuguese.

1933 – Karla Erbová (born Fremrová, but she also uses the pseudonym K. Papežová), Czech poet, prose writer, and journalist; many of her writings are historical or mythological in subject matter, often including works on Ancient Greece.

1938 – Larry Niven, American science-fiction and fantasy novelist, short-story writer, and screenwriter, best known for his Ringworld novels, and — with Jerry Pournelle — The Mote in God’s Eye and Lucifer’s Hammer; his work features big science concepts, theoretical physics, and elements of detective fiction and adventure stories. He has been named a Damon Knight Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

1943 – Ly Seppel, Estonian writer, poet, author, and translator.

1945 – Annie Dillard, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author of novels, nonfiction, poetry, essays, prose, memoir, and literary criticism; she is best known for her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

1949 – Nadia Wheatley, Australian writer of novels, children’s books, picture books, biography, and history.

1955 – Jacqueline Winspear, English author of mystery novels.

1964 – Alexandra Gennadievna Petrova, award-winning Russian poet and writer.

1961 – Eva Illouz, Moroccan-born Israeli author, sociologist, and professor.

1971 – John Boyne, Irish author of novels for both adults and younger readers.

1973 – Naomi Novik, Nebula Award-winning American science-fiction and fantasy writer best known for her Temeraire series, an alternate history of the Napoleonic Wars in which dragons are used for aerial combat.

1976 – Aatish Kapadia, Indian television writer, producer, lyricist, and actor.

Happy NaNo Camper

Woo hoo! I just hit my Camp NaNoWriMo goal for the month, and with a whole day to spare.

Camp NaNoWriMo, which happens every year in April and July, is the more flexible version of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which happens in November. The November version is a challenge for writers to start a new novel and write 50,000 words in one month. Camp NaNo allows writers to work on projects that are not novels, to use the month to outline or write notes for a novel, or to set their own writing goal for the month, which can be a word count or an amount of time spent writing. I did start a new novel on April 1 and was aiming for a goal of 20,000 words this month.

My preliminary count for tonight is 20,048 words.

I started well, and was making great progress, hitting more than the 667 words a day necessary for making it to 20,000. Halfway through the month, I was ahead of schedule. Then I hit a snag with an unexpected attention drain (when my son’s roommate came down with covid and my husband and I had to drive down to campus to bring him home to quarantine here). That should not have kept me from writing as often as it did, especially since my son never came down with the virus. But I’d lost my focus, and struggled to get it back.

After four days in a row of not writing at all, I forced myself to jump back into it. Tonight I’d gotten to a good stopping point and exceeded my 667 words for the day, and was going to put it away and finish tomorrow. And then I counted my words and saw that I had less than a hundred to go to meet my target for the month. Another ten minutes, and I was there.

I was writing with pen and paper the last couple days, so tomorrow I’ll type it into the computer and verify the word count. And I am by no means finished. I still have plenty left to do to finish the novel. But tonight I feel like celebrating.

April 29 Writer Birthdays

1764 – Ann Julia Hatton (née Kemble) popular British novelist and poet; she also published as Ann of Swansea.

1780 – Charles Nodier, influential French author, poet, librarian, translator, journalist, entomologist, literary critic, novelist, and lexicographer who introduced a younger generation of Romanticists to the conte fantastique, gothic literature, and vampire tales.

1815 – Antun Pasko Kazali, Croatian folk-writer, poet, and translator.

1863 – Constantine P. Cavafy, Egyptian/Greek poet, writer, and journalist.

1893 – Elisaveta Bagriana, Bulgarian poet, author, translator, and literary editor who was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

1890 – Daisy Fellowes (née Marguerite Séverine Philippine Decazes de Glücksberg), French socialite, novelist, and poet, who was Paris editor of Harper’s Bazaar and an heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune.

1908 – Jack Williamson, pioneering American science-fiction writer who is often called the “Dean of Science Fiction” and is credited with one of the first uses of the term “genetic engineering.”

1910 – Elzbieta Szemplinska (née Sobolewska), Polish poet, novelist, short-story writer, editor, and diplomat.

1920 – Edward Blishen, English author best known for his children’s novels based on Greek mythology.

1924 – Shintaro Abe, Japanese politician, diplomat, and journalist who served as Japanese foreign minister.

1926 – Elmer Kelton, American journalist and author, best known for his western novels; he also wrote under the pseudonyms Tom Early, Alex Hawk, and Lee McElroy.

1933 – Rod McKuen, popular American poet, songwriter, composer, singer, and translator.

1937 – Jill Paton Walsh, English novelist and children’s book writer.

1947 – Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet.

1953 – Nicole Rubel, American author and illustrator of children’s books; best known for her Rotten Ralph books.

1958 – Ramachandra Guha, Indian historian, author, journalist, columnist, biographer, and teacher whose research interests include social, economic, and political history; the environment, and cricket. He is considered a significant figure in Indian historical studies, and one of the major historians of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

1960 – Robert J. Sawyer, Canadian science-fiction novelist, short-story writer, and screenwriter who has won both a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award.

1962 – Polly Samson, British novelist, songwriter, lyricist, and journalist; she is married to musician David Gilmour and has written the lyrics to many of his works, both as a solo artist and with the group Pink Floyd.

The Next Dorm

Jon in his freshman dorm room. Next year he’ll have more space!

Tomorrow is the final day of classes at my son’s university. After that comes exam week, and then freshman year is over and he comes home for the summer. It’s been a strange year, with a lot of back-and-forth when campus closed because of rising covid numbers and students were sent home, and when Thanksgiving break and winter break were extended. Even on campus, most of the classes were online, with students tuning in from their dorm rooms.

Last year around this time, he was agonizing (and procrastinating) about finding a roommate and a dorm room. He ended up in a freshman residence hall in a good, central location, which was fine. He and his roommate were a luck-of-the-draw matchup, and while they lived together mostly amicably, they never really became friends.

For next year, he originally talked about moving off-campus. His dad and I would have allowed it if it was what he really wanted, but we thought he’d be better off staying on campus, and in the end he agreed. Living off-campus means dealing with landlords and leases, having no intermediary if things don’t work out with a roommate, paying utilities, and having to figure out what to do if the pipes freeze or something breaks. I wasn’t sure he was quite ready for that; I like the idea of having one more year with more of a safety net. Besides, this year’s freshmen were gypped out of a real campus experience, and I wanted him to have a chance at that.

I was afraid he’d have trouble finding someone to room with. With so few classes in person this year, and so many other activities canceled or held virtually, freshmen haven’t had the usual opportunities to meet people. But last month he suddenly told me he’d found a roommate. He said, “His name is Jonathan, he’s a Music Composition major, he plays violin, and he has perfect pitch.”

This sounded familiar, so I replied, “You’re getting a single?”

No, it’s actually another Jonathan who has a lot in common with my Jonathan, down to the curly hair and glasses. Last week was their scheduled time to choose a room in one of the upperclass dorms. They got their first choice of buildings! They’ll be in the one building that is on-campus apartments, and it’s very close to the music department. They’ll have a one-bedroom furnished apartment with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living room for the two of them. So they’ll have space for my Jon to leave his piano set up all the time, which should be useful for two music majors. They can get some space from each other, if someone wants to sleep while the other is entertaining friends or is studying. And there’s a full kitchen, so they can cook for themselves if they want to. There is even a Subway sandwich shop and various recreational areas in the building. It’s more expensive than a regular dorm, but it wasn’t unreasonable.

After they chose their room, I received a message from the other Jonathan’s father, suggesting we get together sometime this summer. Since the Jons will need dishes, cutlery, pots and pans, small appliances, and other items for their apartment, it seemed like a good chance for the families not only to get to know each other, but to work out who can supply what. We’ll wait until next month, when everyone’s fully vaccinated. I’m looking forward to meeting them.

I am feeling so good about the fact that he just went ahead and found himself a roommate this time! Last year’s procrastination and shyness about asking someone led to him rooming with someone he hadn’t chosen, with mixed results. He also looked into the dorm possibilities on his own, without me having to push him, as I did last time. It’s nice to see him taking responsibility. And I have a good feeling about the other Jonathan and his family. I think this is going to work.

April 28 Writer Birthdays

1402 – Nezahualcoyotl (meaning “Coyote who fasts”), poet, philosopher, warrior, and architect who ruled the city-state of Texcoco in pre-Columbian era Mexico; he is best remembered for his poetry.

1541 – Mustafa Âlî (full name Gelibolulu Mustafa Âlî bin Ahmed bin Abdülmevlâ Çelebi), Ottoman Turkish poet, historian, bureaucrat, and major literary figure.

1669 – Aurora Sanseverino, Italian poet, writer, actress, salonnière, and patron of the arts who was one of the most celebrated women in the highest rank of the Neapolitan aristocracy.

1857 – Alberto de Oliveira (pen name for Antônio Mariano de Oliveira), Brazilian writer, poet, professor, and pharmacist

1882 – L. Onerva (real name Hilja Onerva Lehtinen), Finnish poet, novelist, translator, critic, and short-story writer whose works often dealt with the tension in women’s lives concerning freedom and commitment.

1896 – Kim Iryeop, Korean writer, poet, journalist, autobiographer, activist, and Buddhist nun.

1919 – Antonio Frasconi, Caldecott Honor-winning Uruguayan-American artist and author of children’s books.

1923 – Josefina García-Marruz Badía (pen name Fina García Marruz), award-winning Cuban poet and literary researcher.

1926 – Harper Lee, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author known for her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird; in 2007 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature. The book was loosely based on events that happened in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, when she was 10. The character Dill is based on author Truman Capote, her childhood friend; she also helped him research his acclaimed true-crime novel In Cold Blood.

1934 – Lois Duncan, American writer, novelist, poet, and journalist, best known as a bestselling author of children’s and young-adult books and a pioneer in the development of the young-adult fiction genre.

1934 – Diane Johnson (born Diane Lain) American satirical novelist and essayist whose novels often feature American heroines living abroad in France; she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

1941 – Iryna Zhylenko, Ukrainian poet, writer, journalist, and children’s author.

1944 – Alice Waters, American chef, restaurateur, activist, and author who is a national public policy advocate for school lunch reform and universal access to healthy, organic foods.

1946 – Kit Williams, English author, artist, and illustrator best known for his treasure-hunt picture book Masquerade, with illustrations that included clues to the location of a real-life treasure, a golden, jeweled pendant hidden somewhere in the U.K.

1947 – Humayun Azad, prolific, award-winning Bangladeshi poet, novelist, short-story writer, critic, researcher, linguist, and professor.

1947 – Christian Jacq, French Egyptologist and author who has written novels set in ancient Egypt, as well as nonfiction.

1948 – Terry Pratchett (Sir Terence David John Pratchett), British author of satire and humorous fantasy, particularly the Discworld series and (with Neil Gaiman) Good Omens. The U.K.’s bestselling author of the 1990s, he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2010.

1950 – Carolyn Forché, award-winning American poet, editor, professor, translator, and human-rights advocate.

1953 – Roberto Bolaño, Chilean novelist, short-story writer, poet, and essayist; The New York Times described him as “the most significant Latin American literary voice of his generation.”

1953 – Abena Busia, Ghanaian writer, poet, feminist, professor, and diplomat who is Ghana’s ambassador to Brazil; she is the daughter of former Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia and the sister of actress Akosua Busia.

1960 – Ian Rankin, Scottish crime writer, television presenter, and singer.

1965 – Jennifer Rardin, American author of urban-fantasy novels.

1977 – Siân Melangell Dafydd, award-winning Welsh novelist, poet, editor, educator, and translator.

1986 – Hedoi Etxarte, Spanish Basque writer, poet, translator, and violinist.