Sunday Stealing: Nell Stokes


Before I get to this week’s Sunday Stealing, something hyperlocal, curious, and time-sensitive. There is an exhibit called “Nell Stokes: Stories of an Education Advocate” at the Albany Institute of History and Art, an entity my wife and I have supported financially. The exhibit was mounted by Lacey Wilson on December 19, 2023, and was scheduled to be up until December 2024. (Here’s an interview with Lacey from January.)

However, by chance, Nell, a local treasure, learned on May 19, 2024, that the exhibit will be taken down in a few days (i.e., tomorrow, May 26.) She posted about it on her Facebook page and received questions on why it was being removed five months in when twelve months was promised. She believes, and I agree, that it should stay up as promised until December, and we need to know, if not, why not. 

Her request to you is to call Diane Shewchuk at 518.463.4478, Ex 441, and ask the Question.  

And now back to our regular quiz

1. Have you ever been stung or bitten by an animal?

I’ve been stung by bees, or probably wasps. While my dog, an Alaskan husky, bit me when I was a kid, it was the fact that my parents (probably my father) thought it was no big deal until Lucky Stubbs bit one of the pastor’s daughters, that really irritated me. Only then he gave him to one of his co-workers who had more property to allow the dog to roam. 

2. Do you have a favorite bird? Do you feed the birds at your house or park?

Of the ones I never see: ostriches, penguins. In the I’ve seen them category: blue jays, cardinals, et al. And eagles. Frankly, if it weren’t for neighborhood standards, I’d never mow the lawn so the creatures could forage. BTW, the question reminds me of the song My Conviction from the musical Hair. 

Specifically: “There is a peculiar notionThat elegant plumageAnd fine feathersAre not proper for the maleWhen actuallyThat is the way things are in most species”

3. What is the last thing you said to somebody before replying to this email?

To the Daughter: “Take the Zyrtec first.”

I remember sleep

4. How do you get yourself ready to sleep at night?

This probably requires its own blogpost. Short answer: there’s no consistent pattern in terms of when I go to bed, or how long I’m off my computer, or whether I watch television first. Usually, I watch a recorded episode of JEOPARDY, because I get teases on my phone which reveal TMI. I have what they call bad sleep hygiene, and it’s gotten worse in the last several months. I do take a battery of Rx pills and brush my teeth.   

5. When was the last time you wrote a proper letter?

“Proper” is an interesting term. I did write a Christmas letter at the end of the year and even snail-mailed it to several people who had sent me cards over the past two or three years.

6. What is the worst injury you have ever sustained?

Our contenders: June 1972 – I was getting out of a car when it was rear-ended. I spent a day and a half in the hospital, then six weeks in physical therapy.  1994 – I tore the left meniscus sliding down a mountain in Utah. 2009 – I broke a rib while on my bicycle, trying to avoid a car. We’ll go with the knee, which troubles me to this day.

7. If you could choose your career based strictly on what you think would be fun instead of your qualifications/salary/etc., what would it be?

I wish I had been a public librarian rather than working in a closed environment.

An alternate Earth

8. You can live on another planet, which one and why?

There’s probably a planet somewhere in the universe that has to have a similar ecosystem as Earth. Maybe the people there haven’t mucked up the environment as much as we have.

9. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Strawberry. There was a place in my college town, New Paltz, where I’d have a sundae, and it’d be strawberry ice cream and strawberry sauce.

10. What do you think of tattoos? Do you have any?

I’ve mellowed on tattoos. From not liking them at all to finding some quite appealing, though usually not the full-body jobs. But I’m never getting one.

11. Are you very active or do you prefer to just relax in your free time?

I don’t have any free time.  Some items sit on my to-do list for months while more pressing items muscle their way onto my calendar. This is related to my bad sleep patterns. Maybe when my wife retires. 

12. If you could bring back one TV show that was cancelled, which one would you bring back?

There are plenty of shows. But a lot of reboots, even with the same cast, they are lesser efforts.  Murphy Brown was a prime example.

No surprise 

13. Do you prefer to watch movies in the theater or in the comfort of your own home?

In the cinema. I simply have no patience/discipline to watch a movie at home and watch it in the way it was meant to be viewed, which is straight through.

14. If you opened a restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?

First, I would never open a restaurant; it is way too much of a hassle. That said, something like Sabor a Campo, which is “an eat-in buffet, carry-out style restaurant, specializing in value-driven multicultural foods, and set in a relaxed, homey, and familial environment.”

15. What do you think is a common thing that is shared between countries despite language barriers? 

Most people just want to be left alone to work, raise and feed their families, with respect, civility, and peace.  

I see there’s a new final question:

15. If money were no object what would you do for your next birthday?? 

Right now, I have no idea. It’s in the middle of my wife’s work year and my daughter’s school year. Under the right circumstances, I’d travel somewhere I’ve never been, maybe Ireland and Nigeria.

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