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Global Pen Pals

Letter 5 in our series.

Dear Joy,

By the time you read this, you will have returned from Fontvieille in Provence and your holiday with Leni. I hope you had a lovely time and enjoyed the hot, sunny weather, along with your literature readings and discussions.

Do you remember when we used to read plays aloud with a few other people in Cambridge, England lo, those many years ago? I recall that I always ended up reading the role of the caustic character, no matter what play it was!

I shall certainly look into reading Alphonse Daudet's "Les Lettres de Mon Moulin". Not something I read in French class at university. Perhaps I'll suggest it to my book club. Among our selections for the coming year is Sophocles' "Antigone" (in English, of course, not Greek!). We've invited our Russian literature teacher from this past April to join us for the discussion.

Your description of Ueli's and Maxi's special relationship was heartwarming. It must mean so much to Ueli to have a niece who cares enough to insist on communicating with him.

Marc is off to Ireland again. As Senior V.P. of manufacturing, et.al, of his company, he has to put 'fires' out at company plants whenever there are problems. And the plants are in Ireland and England. So he frequently finds himself flying off to Dublin or London. Jessica is not too thrilled with that, but at least it's not India or China!

I don't know how the world looks from Switzerland these days, but we here have the feeling that it is coming down around our ears! Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon - all embroiled in incendiary situations that somehow make it seem as if Armageddon is upon us!! And there doesn't seem to be a way out.

Put that together with the literally broiling temperatures, wild fires and storms engulfing this country, and you get what can only be described as a long, hot summer. My friends in St. Louis were without power for a week and, for most of that time it was 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Friday we leave for Maine and cooler climes. Picking wild Maine blueberries is one of our favorite activities there, and making blueberry pancakes is one of Marc's specialties (he'll be back from Europe by the end of the week). What we don't eat, we freeze. A taste of Maine is with us then all year long, and it brings sweet memories of our days on Mount Desert Island.

Madeleine was here by herself for a week in July. For the last two years she has gone to day camp while she visited, but this time her mother felt that she needed just some 'hanging-out' time. Mordy took her to work one day and then to the Science Museum at the Harbor, and after that to a bookstore. A really fine Gramps-granddaughter day.

On July 4th (our Independence Day), we drove to the town of Bowie, Maryland about an hour from here to see a minor league baseball game. We actually go for the fine fireworks display that lights up the sky after the game. This time, fifteen minutes after we arrived at the ballpark, a deluge came down. After 30 minutes of heavy, heavy rain, lightning and incredibly loud thunder claps; they called the whole shebang off -- games and fireworks. So we came home and turned on the TV to watch the July 4th celebration from the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C, where 400,000 patriotic people were gathered. Madeleine danced along with the music, putting on a performance of tap, ballet and hip-hop. Still dancing after more than an hour, she exclaimed, "I would be a big crowd pleaser if all those people could fit in here!" Well, she was certainly a 'crowd' pleaser to her audience of two!!

Much, much love,

Ellen

P.S. Forgot to mention that we heard some people speaking the Bernese dialect when we were in New York last weekend at the Museum of Natural History. I asked them if they knew of you and Mani, and, of course, they did. I just love connecting with you that way. It makes the miles between Lutherville and Bern melt away.


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