May is the fifth month on the current Gregorian and the old Julian calendar. It is named for the Greek goddess Maia. On the old Roman calendar, this was the third month. May has 31 days. The full moon in May is sometimes called the Flower Moon since many flowers bloom during this month.
May is commonly associated with spring in the Northern Hemisphere but autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Usually, it is also the time that plants begin to grow. It is a time for many festivals and celebrations as well. The ancient Romans had several of them during May and many Europeans today have events during the month. Late May is often considered the beginnings of the summer season in many places.
The May symbols are the emerald (birthstone), along with Lilly of the Valley and Hawthorn as the birth flowers.
George Carlin had a long career as a stand up comedian. He was genuinely funny and consistently delivered hysterical laughter. One of his early schticks was the Hippy Dippy Weatherman. It was hilarious how he did it. Here he his back in 1966 doing it on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Carson liked Carlin a lot and it shows here. Enjoy.
One of the greatest joys for me is reading the books by James Herriot. His books on being a veterinary surgeon in Yorkshire opened up a new world to many. His vivid description of the dales, the people, and animals he treated of all shapes and sizes made him a world-wide celebrity. To him though, he was a simple cow doctor who had by chance ended up practicing in a small town called Thirsk (Darrowby in his books) for the majority of his life. He loved the work he did and greatly came to admire the Yorkshire farmers he encountered. His love and care for the animals inspired many to enter the profession.
In his day, the majority of animals he treated were farm animals (cows, pigs, sheep, and the occasional horse) rather than domestic (dogs, cats, etc.). And it was not a calling for the faint of heart or does not want to get dirty. He vividly describes having to do calvings on cold nights, stripped to the waist, trying to get the new calf out of the womb of its mother. It sometimes took a good while and back then Caesarian operations had not yet been common. Also, they had a limited number of drugs they could use. They also had to mix much of it up into bottles in their dispensary and take it out with them on their visits. And then there were the required testing of cow herds for tuberculosis as well that kept the practice going. It was also hard to see good animals fade because they lacked the treatments that would come much later.
He was able to see the golden age that would come after World War II when all kinds of new drugs came out that could heal animals faster than before. It ended also the need to have a large dispensary where they had to mix up the concoctions. Now you just have packets and liquids. Fill the syringe up with the medicine, inject, and you are done. Farmers were pleased as were vets at being finally able to cure many ailments that before took a while to treat. The days of small farms in Yorkshire, and a lot of places, came to a slow end after World War II. A lot of factors contributed to it from families changing, farmers retiring but the shift to large scale milk and livestock operations meant most small family farms could not survive.
That has affected the veterinary practice as well with a shift in many areas near farms shifting to treating domestic animals (dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs) and reduced numbers of livestock. In large cities veterinarians shifted to domestic animals and only those in areas with livestock still around might be a mixed practice. Which brings us to a remarkable show from the UK called Yorkshire Vet. This series follows the Skeldale Veterinary Centre, the former practice that James Herriot and Siegfried Farnon were part of in the books. It follows how this practice continues treating all creatures great and small as Herriot did in his books. The shows center vets are Robert Wright, who trained under Herriot, and Julian Norton, a highly skilled vet, who continue the service to animals. They are ably assisted by other vets who join the practice and animal nurses who assist the vets and keep the place spotless.
The show depicts them handling just about any case that comes their way. And it is truly remarkable the different types of domestic pets people have. You have the usual dogs, cats, small rodents, and bunnies. Then you have the odd ones with reptiles, pygmy goats or pigs, hedgehogs, and even pet chickens. So, it is quite varied but throw in some large livestock as well and the practice is not boring at all.
Yorkshire Vet does not shy away from showing the fuller picture that most shows tend to avoid. The first All Creatures Great & Small BBC television show, superbly acted by the way, did not show you the blood, guts, and muck the vets have to get through. They do here and you really appreciate the dedication they have for their craft. Seeing Julian carefully stich together a damaged cats rear end, where he has to slowly get everything back into place, reflects how dedicated they are. Or having to open up a cow to do a Caesarian section to get a calf out.
There are sad moments as well. Sometimes an animal brought in to Skeldale cannot be saved (a cancerous tumor cannot be removed or is suffering from a fatal disease). An ewe gives birth to a dead lamb or after doing emergency surgery, the calf dies. We see it all from the vets and owners when it does not work out. It is one of the most human parts of the series, the loss of an animal. However, there are many moments of joy as well when a calf is birthed fine, the surgery on the family pet is successful, or a lost pet missing for many years is joyfully reunited with its former owner.
What made Herriot’s books sell were the slice of life stories that brought laughs and cries to people who read them. And there are genuinely funny stories about living his partner Siegfried, his brother Tristan, and the remarkable people he met on the job. You get the same here. Reality shows love to stoke conflict and other things. No need for that here because the animals and the people around them give us all the entertainment we need. And we learn a thing or two not only about the animals but the lives of those around them. As I said earlier, most of the old-style family farms are near extinct. However organic farming and those wanting to care for livestock have led to some new farms. Some old ones are still around, and vets Peter Wright and Julian Norton take care of them. And some new wrinkles as well. Small dairy farms cannot make money milking (they cannot compete with the big companies) but make money breeding cows instead.
The show has been running since 2015 in the UK on Channel 5. It currently is available on Amazon Prime (disclaimer-I am an Amazon affiliate) so you can watch nearly everything up till now. Christopher Timothy, who played James Herriot in the original series, narrates it. That has changed for the latest series since due to Covid, Timothy could not go to the studio to do the narration. Nothing to fear though as another Herriot show veteran (and former Dr. Who) Peter Davison, was able to do so as he had a studio to record in his home. Skeldale Veterinary Centre made a big change at the end of 2020 and decided to focus on just small animals and no longer care for livestock. Julian Norton left that practice to work in another and the show follows him there as well. He has since opened up a new practice in Thirsk committed to helping animals but with consistent people handling the cases with concern.
If you liked the James Herriot books, or even if you didn’t but want to see how vets really work, this show will be worth your time. You will come to appreciate the work that vets do and some of the truly interesting people and animals they help.
Today is the March/Spring Equinox. This equinox marks the moment where the Sun crosses the equator and usually occurs between March 19-21 every year. Both the March and September equinoxes are when the Sun shines directly on the equator making night and day nearly equal.
The March equinox is the transition from winter to spring in the Northern Hemisphere but the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere (summer into fall). Various cultures celebrate March equinox as a time of rebirth. Many spring festivals are timed to coincide with the equinox and some religious events (Passover and Easter) use specific calculations based on the equinox to help determine the exact day of the event.
Though the equinox marks the changing of the seasons, it is quite common for winter effects to continue in many places far until May or even June.
March is the third month on both the old Julian and current Gregorian calendar. It is the month that begins spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. March is believed to be derived from the Roman god Mars (Greek equivalent Ares). Before the advent of the Julian calendar, Romans considered March the first month of the new year. The March equinox is usually around March 21-22. Many spring festivals take place in March. Passover and Easter may take place in March, but not always as it is dependent upon very specific calculations and can change from year to year. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17. If it falls on a Friday, Catholics are given dispensation to eat meat on that day (at least in Ireland and in areas where the feast is celebrated). The famous Ides of March (March 15) was once a day to pay debts in Rome but it became infamously associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar on that day in 44 BC.
Daylight savings time begins in the U.S. and Canada on the second Sunday in March. March has two birthstones that reflect courage: aquamarine and bloodstone. The flower for March is the daffodil.
If you ever saw the movie Return to Me (2000) starring Minnie Driver and David Duchovny, you would have heard this song. The movie itself is pretty nice love story. David Duchovny’s character’s wife dies and her heart goes into Minnie Driver’s character. Later the two meet and fall in love. Then she learns that her new heart came from his late wife. That of course causes some issues. It is a good little movie. And it has some excellent character actors who add a lot to this movie: Carroll O’Connor, Eddie Jones, Robert Loggia, and Wally Jatczak. Jim Belushi also stars as the husband of Minnie Driver’s best friend (played by Bonnie Hunt).
Also the movie uses a great Sinatra song At Long Last Love as well.
It is not often you see something this dramatic. This freighter was in heavy seas off the coast of Turkey in the Black Sea. As the video shows, you can see the ship bend that indicates it is going to break up (which it does). They do send an SOS and get off the ship. The incident took place on 17 Jan 2021.