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A Letter to My Niece at Camp June 30, 2014

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Dear Teresa:

I hear you’re at camp again and I’m pretty envious of that, and I don’t really have a lot of time to write, maybe just one sentence, so here is the sentence, we’re already in it (the sentence), as you can see, and I’ve been really really busy with spring/summer chores, including the annual window washing, which is a huge job because there are so many windows, plus all the blinds to dust, but yesterday I finally finished that job, and I’m getting ready to have company for four days, my friend Esther from Bloomington, Indiana, the one I worked with more than 20 years ago in DC, she’s finally going to come visit me over the fourth of July, and on the fourth a bunch of neighbors are coming over, and Esther and I have plans to go to a play and just hang out and maybe get to the swimming hole if the weather’s OK, although I have to say I’m not really liking what I’m seeing in the weather forecast right now, but anyway, it will feel a little vacationlike, which is a good thing because I don’t have a real vacation this summer, things are just too busy for Tim at work, but I do get to go to Portland, Maine, for a week with him next month while he works a photo shoot and I’ll work in the hotel room and we’ll visit friends and eat fabulous food at night, so there’s that, which helps, and we did get to go to Utah in May and visit friends and see Arches and Canyonlands and it really was incredibly beautiful, it’s just starting to seem a long time ago now that I am seeing everyone’s beach pictures online and I don’t have another great vacation with Tim planned, although I do have a couple of quick NYC trips coming up, one to Brooklyn for a few days, one to NJ and my friend and I will drive into the city see a musical review that a friend is putting together of his father’s work, which maybe someday will go further and maybe many people will get to see it, so that’s exciting, and a friend is getting married in Nags Head in September, so that could be an interesting trip for me, but none of these are a nice long week away with Tim, which is my favorite thing, of course, and I really miss the days that we went to the same Adirondack camp every summer (before it closed down), because what’s better than being in the woods on the water and canoeing and fishing and hiking and being fed breakfast and dinner and seeing the same friends every year and making some new ones, like you are probably doing right now, not much is better than that, and I miss it, and I miss you, and I hope it won’t be too long before we see each other again, and it’s sad that it’s so hard to get together when some people are in Pennsylvania and some people are in Vermont, but someday it will happen, and who knows, maybe we’ll even play Twister.

Have a great week!


Utah June 26, 2014

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

It’s been more than a month since we’ve returned from our Utah vacation. I still miss my friends and the landscape.

I could talk about our brief overnight in Salt Lake City before hitting the road to Moab and Castle Valley (especially hanging with that Aussie in the bar). I could tell you about the two vastly different dinner events our friends took us to: the secret café fundraiser dinner at an activist’s unassuming fenced-in backyard and the LDS church neighborhood potluck.

secret cafe

I could tell you about the amazing hikes I took in Arches, Canyonlands, and (I’m not kidding, it’s still called) Negro Bill Canyon. But maybe I’ll tell you about the hours I spent by myself near the end of the week. Well, almost by myself.

Tim and Bill had gotten up predawn to head out to photograph some mountains. Susan was having people over to the house for a meeting. I needed some exercise, and there was gorgeousness all around me. So Susan drew me a map.

It was a great map.

I started out from their house


and headed this way:

view from house 2

Susan was sending me on a walk that could take me to the base of Castle Rock, eventually, although there wasn’t really a trail there. Her map took me from the driveway, to a right on Shafer Lane. I crossed Castle Valley Drive (paved), then continued along Shafer.

Before I got to the more potentially complicated parts of the walk, a yellow dog joined me.

By joining me, I mean she walked with me, but much farther ahead. Occasionally she’d look back to see where I was.

I got to the dry creek (drawn on the map!). I think it was there I decided I had to pee. The dog came back to watch me, from a distance.

I squeezed through the pedestrian passage by the gate (drawn on the map!), the end of the public road. Private property, but permission for walkers and bikers. I got to the fire station (map!) and the gate (map!) that I had to open myself. I did, and I let the dog through with me. She’d been waiting for me there. I closed the gate behind us.

Soon we got to the far paved road, where we crossed into the trailless land. Susan told me to find the dry creek bed and walk up that.

Easy enough.

Walking up the creek bed looked like this:

creek bed early

It was a lovely hike, and this is about as close as I got to Castle Rock:

creek bed 3

The dog was around, but she’d gotten pretty far ahead of me. I was ready to turn back. I called to her. Nothing. I whistled. Nothing.

I began to worry that this was not my dog, and I’d let her through a gate.

I began to reassure myself that this dog, whom I watched squeeze through other fences and find wide openings in barbed wire, could go anywhere she wanted and did.

Still. I’d let her through that gate, and now I wanted to go home, and where was she?

I started heading back. I called a little. I figured she’d turn up. I had to pee again. I found a place to do that.

And then there she was. How predictable.

She passed me, turned around, sat a respectful distance away, and watched.

“Almost done,” I said to her. “You can pee over this if you want.”

And when I got up and walked away, she did just that.

Proud of herself. I let her dominate. It is her territory, after all.

She crossed the road with me, back through the gate. She chased and dug for small mammals:


She was usually way ahead of me and looked like this:

way home

She passed wherever it was that she joined me and stayed with me all the way home. The last stretch looked like this:

last stretch

We got to the cool shade of the front porch. Susan’s meeting was still going on. Tim and Bill were back. Tim was napping. I went inside to get a bowl of water for the panting dog.

“There’s a dog that’s been with me all day,” I told Bill. “I gotta give her some water. You don’t mind, do you? I doubt she’ll stay.”

“You mean Ginger?” said Bill.

Everyone knows Ginger. She gets around.

We sat on the porch together for a spell. Shady. I planked, nose to nose with her. When I did, I noticed the staples above her left front paw, the slightly shaved patch. Didn’t seem to be hurting her any.

She rested a bit.


She stayed long enough to be polite. And then she took off.



Skyping Sergio June 5, 2014

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Fairly recently, I broke down and bundled my phone service with my Internet and cable TV. In doing so, I learned that there was a problem in at least one—maybe two—of the physical phone lines that come into my house. I could pay to have them fixed, or I could just plug directly into the modem. I decided to go the modem route for awhile. See how that goes.

But by abandoning the physical lines, I abandoned my old answering/fax machine. It cannot function under the new system. Still, I haven’t unplugged it. This has everything to do with my emotional attachments to certain older gentlemen.

There are ten messages on that machine that I have never erased. I am afraid to lose the sound of those voices. (Frankly, I thought it was more than ten messages. Apparently I let a few of them go.)

Two are men I know through my work as an editor. One I’ve known for nearly 20 years. He’s been threatening to die since the day I met him and now, at 88, he’s fighting a real illness. (A message that still resides on my machine includes the phrase I’ll try to get you anon.) The other is a man whose father was a songwriter whose work I admire. I’ve found that over the years, as we discover tastes and opinions we have in common, I’ve become rather fond of this person. I was able to show him off to a BFF in New York some weeks back, and her to him.

But the voice I can’t bear the thought of erasing belongs to Sergio. Seven of those ten messages are his.

Back in the late nineties/early aughts, Tim would go to Verona twice a year to check color separation for the catalog. I got to go with him four times. We would fly into Milan, and Pier, one of the partners of the business, would pick us up. We’d go out for lunch, then he’d deliver us to Verona, where Sergio, the other partner, would host us.

Tim would work with Sergio and his staff all day while I wandered the streets of Verona. Many times we would be dinner guests in his home. Sergio would translate conversation between us and his wife, Anna.

I met two of his three daughters: Nadia, who was married and had twin girls, and Laura. I never met Barbara, the middle daughter, but Tim did.

After technological advances and the resulting economics brought our Italy trips to a halt, both Sergio and Pier made a point to call us every Christmas. When we traveled for the holidays, I would fret about missing those calls—Sergio’s especially.

And that is what those messages are: missed Christmas calls.

Tim and [Indigo]: Sergio speaking. I would like to say you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I want to keep in touch with you. I wish you all the best. . . . Ciao ciao.

Tim and [Indigo]: I would like to say you hello. I will try again.

Often we would try to call back. Usually we would manage to talk once a year.

But then one year, Sergio didn’t call.

Through Facebook, Tim became friends with Sergio’s daughter Laura. Through Laura, we found out that Barbara had died of breast cancer. She left two young sons.

Sergio’s heart was broken.

No one should have to go through that.

I believe we managed to talk with him once since then.

Recently, though, Laura sent word that Sergio wanted to set up a Skype session. It took awhile for us to get our schedules to coordinate. Plus, we’d never used Skype, and up until a couple of hours before the call, we were still fiddling with it to make sure it would work.

And then, it did.

For the first time in years, there was Sergio’s face, alongside that of Laura, his technical guru and fluent English speaker.

It was wonderful and emotional and there was tearing up. Sergio and Tim really love each other, and Sergio talked about that last day when he dropped us off at the train station, and how emotional he got (we did too) because we might never see each other again. And we haven’t—until the Skype call. (May we somehow see each other in person again!) He says we got on that train in 2002. How can that be?

He and Anna are very involved in taking care of their grandsons after school, etc. It is clear how much he misses Barbara and how much he loves her boys.

Pier has also died. The last we talked to him, several years ago, he was quite ill. Tim said he had heard about Pier, but I’m not sure I did. Did I not hear? Did I choose not to remember?

I tried to tell Sergio about his voice on my answering machine, but I think it got lost in translation.

Where does love come from? Why does a natural joy spring forth between certain people (but not others)?

Why is life so busy? Why is travel so expensive? Why is it hard to spend time with so many of the people we love?

At least this Christmas, we can Skype with Sergio again.

Still, I need to figure out how to save those voice messages on my old answering machine. And maybe get back to Italy.