from Sandy Needham

Friday, July 20, 2007

Brazil Dispatch 12

July 20, 2007

I want each and every one of you to know that my writing of these dispatches is my only personal record of these experiences - I don't keep a separate diary - so besides just reporting, it is my chance to record my middle-aged woman's musings. You are quite a varied group that receives this, including some of Newton's soccer buddies, my nephew's daughter, friends since grade school, friends since last April, etc. I thank you for your indulgence and your kind responses and encouragement. You always make my day with reports from your lives. They are as much a part of my life here in Brazil as the very ocean out the window, so I thank you, as well, for keeping your stories comin'.

Here are some of the fascinating and funny reports I've received from your 'everyday lives:'
>My grade school, jr. high and high school friend, April Tayman, reported from the Tulsa Central High 40th reunion, after I had commented about all the strangers in the e-mailed photos (we had a graduating class of over 800): "I was THERE and don't know who all those people were, plus I made most of the nametags."

>Tulsa Central friend, Bob Garrett, who runs a bakery in Lawrence, Kansas, takes a road trip with his buddies every year and keeps a travelogue: "This year we chose (mainly) backroads Arkansas. Highlights included breaking into a defunct tourist attraction called Dinosaur World and wandering around the decaying cement monstrosities. We went to some great caverns, lakes, mountains, etc. We also hit the Clinton Presidential Library and the "factory" where they make my favorite pottery (Dryden). My very favorite event was going over into Clarksdale, Mississippi on Saturday night to hear Big George Brock play the blues on his 75th birthday. About as funky as it gets."

>My dear Tulsa Central friend, Tom Ackley, bought land and moved to Costa Rica around the same time we moved here: "We are in what we hope are the last throws of permit gathering. It’s a bitch. Senses of adventure and humor are prerequisites here, as they are there. On one hand I am glad that I can know the efficient side of getting things done...on the other, where does one find the balance between “pushing” to get something done, and the “Pura Vida”-ness of going with the flow? Yi Yi Yi."

>My best friend from my whole life, Lenna Kottke, Boulder, went to Boston for her son's wedding: 'Minister to Chris: "Do you take Kaylan to be your wife, to live together in holy matrimony? Do you promise to love and cherish her, comfort her, honor her and keep her, in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live?" Chris: "You bet I do!" Minister to Kaylan: "Do you take Chris to be your husband, to live together in holy matrimony? Do you promise to love and cherish him, comfort him, honor him and keep him, in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live?" Kaylan: "Longer than that."

>Tulsa friend Barbara Dow, now of Bella Vista, Arkansas and in her 80's, is a confessed 'espanofila' after living in Venezuela years ago. She is also an incredible athlete: "I played in a golf tournament last week and our combined foursome ages was 316 years. Not bad huh? And we got 2nd prize for the mixed foursome division. They also gave out a "geezer" prize which we won: it was a "Depens." It brought the house down as you can imagine."

>Among my Northwestern U. friends, Monica Postell, Delray Beach, Florida, visited Cairo and Malaysia, training new corporate employees: “I go to my classroom window and peek out of the ugly vertical blinds to say good morning to THE PYRAMIDS."
>Linda Calder, also from Northwestern, of Westhampton on Long Island, is preparing herself for her daughter's departure to college in August: "So I will meddle this one last time. Oh, hell, I'll probably do it every chance I get for the rest of my life. I will just try to be more and more subtle."

>Marie Arana, another Northwestern friend, editor of The Washington Post's Book World and author of American Chica and Cellophane, went to Lima, Peru to write her second novel: "It's very different coming back as an adult to a place that was so familiar as a child. Especially, when you're introducing your husband to a whole, extended (and curious) family!"

>Northwesterner Babette Bean of Edina, Minnesota, reminisced after my dispatch from Nice: "Yes, I did spend my summers in Nice. Both of my Grandmothers actually had condos right on the Promenade des Anglais. Needless to say, I had a blast being that I was in high school and college during those last summers so I fell in love many times and partied a lot."

>My Rio friend, Maria Candida Velloso, went off to Indochina and sent incomparable photos: "I am not so good in writing as you Sandy, the pictures speak for me!"

>My Nyack and Blue Rock School friend, Lucia Gratch, another photographer, went off to Tibet to help with an orphanage opened by Tashi, everyone's favorite Tibetan doctor and masseuse in Nyack: "My Tibet memories are receding so fast. I get to go through the thousands of photos I took now and try to edit them down to a more manageable size, which I am sure will refresh my memory."

>Joan Cornachio, the former Blue Rock school music teacher, also moved away this year to a town near Amherst, Massachusetts. She and her family are in the midst of adjustment to new schools and new jobs: "My problem is I keep waiting for a moment to have a nice long chat with you, hang, drink martinis, bitch, moan and laugh. I've lots to tell you. Just know that I'm simply storing it all up. What a year we both are having, and I dare say at polar opposites of life experience. All part of the continuum, I know."
>My former chiropractor, Carolyn Honey Friedman of Nyack, was about to head out in her new camper 3 years ago when, the day before leaving, she met the love of her life in the driveway (he was painting the house next door). No trip ensued. They are making plans for the future: "Someone is coming to look at my camper today, with the idea of buying it. I've decided...that it's time to let it go."
>My textile industry buddy, Jean Cristobal in the Netherlands, who is half Japanese, wrote hauntingly about a two day scroll-making workshop with a Japanese master, after which she attended a modern dance performance where a dancer coincidentally unrolled a huge roll of brown paper: "So after spending a day trying to cut and paste a scroll together with utmost precision, we saw another scroll unfold in a curious, spontaneous dance."

>Another very close textile buddy, Carolyn McMonegal, had hip-replacement surgery in Manhattan: "Hot and sticky humid here...glad to be indoors! Off to a brit mystery on tv and some blueberries...ummmm."

>One of my favorite (former) textile designers, Helen Webb, who is married to another one of my favorite textile designers and lives in Fairfield, Connecticut, later became one of my favorite interior designers: "I need to live near the (filthy) rich in order to make a living. Which by the way is going great, I'm going to be doing Jack Parr's former residence in Greenwich for an old client."

>Longtime NY friends Dick and Nancy Taylor and their dog, Troisieme, exchanged their New York apartment to return to Paris for another of several 3-month stints: "Wonderful new neighborhood to explore. Montparnasse. Really lively and, unlike the 6th, no tourists."

>Longtime Cleveland/New York friend, Joe Warren, inquired about the Dutch after I reported on Amsterdam: "Did you find the Dutch TALL? Their mission to the U.N. is on the top three floors of my office building, and no one in it is under six-feet-five-and-a half!"

>Meredith Luckewicz, who is with Newton's company, took off for the Jersey Shore from her home in Basking Ridge: "I’m down in Long Beach Island in a rented house with my kids for 6 weeks. My husband Mike comes down for 3 day weekends. It’s nice having a change of pace and I love the shore. However I miss my 2 dogs terribly."

>My oldest sister, Janet Kohler, went through the Americana of her step-granddaughter's dance recital in Denver: "What a rip-off!!! You had to buy tickets; the programs were for sale; they had bouquets for sale to present to the participants...and then there were the t-shirts and other stuff that any "good" parent or grandparent must have! OR NOT!! I was totally disgusted before the recital even started. I wanted so much to see...a glimmer of how poised and beautiful dance can be. Not to be, but we did survive."

>My next oldest sister, Dorothy Tarpley, hosted an amusing and entertaining Russian linguist who was visiting Durango as the translator for a group of Russian accountants: "I was only the least bit miffed when he informed us after he arrived that he was not a meat eater, not a true vegetarian, but not a meat eater. This after spending $250 at the grocery store and planning meals with meat at each one! I'll get over it."

>My other sister, Donna Wilder, is the assistant to the principal in a Lawrenceville, New Jersey elementary school. The principal decided to make special needs 5th grader, Nasir, vice-principal for the day: "He then gave him a badge that said "Deputy Assistant Principal." Nasir went on to his class, but he wore the badge all day with a big smile. Later in the day, some student tripped and fell on the playground and had the air knocked out of him. Several students were standing around him, and Nasir was shaking him pretty hard, saying "Come on, Cody, you'll be all right!" The gym teacher said to Nasir, "Nasir, I don't think you want to shake Cody so hard." Nasir just said, "Mr. Boggs," and pointed to his badge. Thankfully the student who fell was okay."

>My niece Sara Wilder and her boyfriend have a new dog, Grady, in Freehold, New Jersey: "Grady and I were at Home Depot a few hours ago to purchase a new litter box for him. We currently have the Petco version made for big dogs, but Grady is so tall and when he lifts his leg, he often goes outside the box. No, that is not fun at all for us. So I got a huge rubbermaid container, bought a hacksaw and a utility knife and am now taking a break from cutting out one of the sides so Grady has a nice entrance."

>My Venezuelan/Nyack friend, Sonia Berah, actually replied to me in Bloomspeak after my corny parody of Ulysses: "So, remember, September, remember, memory, ideas, thoughts, reflections of yesteryear, yesterday, day, night, day, sight, what a bang, or universe under my skin and nails and softly closing eyelids, with the memory of Nyack gardens flowers, roses, peonies, daffodils, clymantis, green, emerald, lime lawns and Sandy meeting me at the Runcible Spoon."

>My nephew, Todd Tarpley, sends YouTube videos of his family in Manhattan, but also had this reply to my parody: "The fact that it takes me 20 days to read and reply to an email underscores the reason I have not read James Joyce. Your parody is quite good, although if you're not reading closely it looks like one of those spam emails that are automatically generated from random lines of text. One of my down-time projects will be reading the Cliff Notes for Ulysses. (No, just the Cliff Notes.)"

>Todd's wife, Jenny, describes their upcoming trip with sons Sam and Ethan: "We're getting ready for our spring break. We promised to take the boys to Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos to celebrate their birthdays. It's an indoor waterpark, hotel and has an interactive game that you can play throughout the hotel."

>My niece, April Atwell, runs a horse stable in Topanga, California. She wrote about the dangerous fire season: "We just had a Fire meeting at our barn last week discussing our procedure to all of our boarders. In the event of a fire, we'd have to try to evacuate about 45 horses out of the canyon. Fortunately, the property we lease is 32 acres of mostly cleared land, so if there wasn't time to evacuate, we would be in what's considered "the neighborhood survival area," which is the place the surrounding homeowners will run to as their house is being engulfed. It's really quite scary to think about, especially the safety of all my customers and their horses. It would be devastating to lose my business as well."

>My nephew, Brad Tarpley, a percussionist from Durango (who just sent his new jazz CD all the way to Brazil) wrote: "Visiting my pianist-long-time-friend Steve for a week (he was the pianist at our family reunion in Grand Lake, CO all those years ago); we're playing jazz every night I'm here in San Francisco thanks to his booking efforts."

>My grandniece, Lainey Tanner, an eighth grader in Tulsa, took a Spanish class trip to Mexico: "Right outside of the museum were a group of men called flyers. Each man climbed to the top of a tall pole and tied a long rope to his ankle. Then after all of the men were on the pole, one older man played a flute-like instrument while the others swung around the pole by their ankle. Each man went around fifteen times, until they reached the ground."

>My niece Amy Sweeney and husband Sean have a baby daughter in Gaithersburg, Maryland: "I try to keep your message about spontaneity and enjoying the moment at heart but I agree that it's a challenge! I think Sean is at one end (totally spontaneous and never worried about what needs to be done) and I'm on the other (forever planning, cleaning up and thinking about the next task). We've helped each other come a bit more toward the middle though."

>My sister-in-law in Sao Paulo, Lilian de Souza, sent the recipe her husband David had used to make whole fish for us: "He told me he used a lot of lime (3 or 4), Italian seasoning (he bought) and salt if you wish. You should punch the fish with a fork so that the seasoning penetrates on it. Leave it in this mixture for an hour or more before putting it in the oven. Cover it with aluminum paper (and later remove) until it’s cooked."

>My Mother, Laurene Needham of Tulsa, does not exactly do e-mail, although she has a new gadget attached to her phone that receives and prints out e-mails and photos. She is such an active 92-year-old that she always has a story for me when I call. Typically, the stories reflect her card shark status for which she is appropriately dressed in this photo, or the many fans that bask in her love and love her back, for which she is also appropriately dressed in this photo!

>I admit to having a favorite response to my plea for stories from your lives. This was from Tom Rose, a former colleague and longtime soccer buddy of Newton's who has a two-year-old daughter (and now a new month-old daughter) in West Milford, New Jersey: 'Today we had French toast and bacon for breakfast while watching "Little Einsteins." Then we went to Toys R Us and bought Reilly a red plastic sandbox shaped like a crab. Now it’s naptime for Reilly and time for me to go mow my “lawn.”

Thank you all for letting me quote you without permission! I will write again soon with more observations from our tropical life here in Brazil. In the meantime, I will savor your there is no such thing as ordinary. Keep them coming!

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