with shepherd in Sardinia
swimming in the Mediterranean
Grand Canyon in April, 2003
Greetings and saludos amigos y familia,
This has been another banner year, starting with a 60th Birthday party on January 6 and ending last Sunday with a half marathon, the longest distance I have run. For my birthday, family and friends chipped in and got a band and we rolled up the rug and danced. Many friends came and gave money to the Lost Boy's of Sudan fund at Grace St Paul's. The fund has supported them in getting driver education and for tuition at Pima Community College.
In early April, Rachel, her husband Matt and Ethan came from their home in Springfield, Oregon to have Ethan baptized. We had a celebration brunch to welcome him into the family after the service. On December 8 he had his first birthday and he is a yard tall and weighs thirty-two pounds so he is pushing the growth curve to new limits. Rachel seems to be thriving on being a full time Mom and Matt's carpentry job is supporting that.
In June, I made my annual trip to the east coast, starting in D.C. with the 40th plus one anniversary of the Peace Corps. My friend John joined me at the conference. Alejandro Toledo was to be the keynote speaker but a last minute crisis in his government forced him to cancel. In spite of that Joel and I introduced him to the assembly at Constitution Hall and we heard him speak live from Lima. The Peruvian ambassador along with Sargent Shriver and Senator Dodd were there. It was great to reconnect with former PCV's from Chimbote and Peru and the Peruvian embassy gave us a gala party. We all danced the Huayno to the music of Incason, Alejandro's favorite band from Boston. Alejandro made a video which was shown discussing the role the PC played in his life and the relevance of the PC today. The Chimbote group under the leadership of Rebecca Ronstadt has formed a Friends of Peru group to support educational exchange and business development.
From there John and I traveled to his brother's in Maryland and to visit Mary Ann Carlson in Arlington, Vt. where we stayed for a week of R and R, hiking, and canoeing on the Batenkill River. Mary Ann was her usual warm and loving self. We spent a delightful day and night with Nancy and Mark Gilbert in Amherst, walking around south Amherst and Atkins farms and catching up on their lives and their children. Then we went on to visit my brother Tom and his wife Daphne who had moved from their home in New Haven to the campus of the Ethel Walker School where Tom teaches in Simsbury, Conn. We accompanied Tom fly fishing on the Farmington River and it was great seeing them in their new environment.
Then we spent the 4th of July weekend with Sarah and Adam at the Hermansons in Old Black Point, Conn. It was very restful being in such a beautiful and comfortable place on Long Island Sound. Our morning would consist of running, kayaking and swimming. In the afternoon we would sit and read on the Hermanson's porch by the ocean. Sarah and Adam live in Grenwich Village and have very busy work lives, Adam, as a VP for the Related and Sarah as a curator for Photography at MOMA. So they like to spend weekends whenever they can at Black Point.
Then it was time to come home to Tucson and do some work, same kind, social work for the Bone Marrow Transplant program. In August John invited me to accompany him and his three children to Ecuador. His daughter, Robin, had been doing volunteer work for the summer at El Pahuma orchid preserve. It was great meeting the Ruether clan, hiking with them and visiting the rain forest, quite an adventure. It reminded me of the trips we used to take along the Magdalena River in Colombia with my family. The landscape was very familiar.
In September I made an impromptu trip to D.C. to join Alejandro and Eliane. He was at the UN on September 11 and while giving a speech at the OAS, he placed a wreath on Kennedy's grave and gave a talk at Peace Corps headquarters. Marjorie Lam Leon, Mike Wolfson, former Peru volunteers, and I spent a long lunch with them. As Alejandro said, it has never been easy for him and his administration has been struggling while the GNP is going up.
Then in late October I flew to Rome and made a trip to Firenze, as I had done with my Mother in l985. And I thought a lot about her as I retraced some of the things we had done together, like climb to the top of Il Duomo. Then I flew to Cagliari in southern Sardinia and joined John where he had been giving a paper at an energy conference. We rented a tiny Korean car and headed north to the Barbaggia region, a beautiful mountainous area with charming small towns, orchards and olive groves and very warm people. I had listened to some Italian tapes and with Spanish we were able to navigate (along with John's good driving skills on the very narrow streets.) We met up with a "guide" who took us to some ruins in the Supramonte, the Dolmites of Sardinia and to a shepherd's cottage. And I went swimming in the Mediterranean. The southern coast of Sardinia is beautiful and empty, a lot like California.
Last week I ran the half marathon with my running partner, Ellie Patterson. We were met at the finish line by Matt. He is living in Tucson, working for Charter Funding and still playing tennis and golf. His life is going well. I am thankful for many blessings-- not the least of which are my good health and legs which carry me far and connect me to the earth - and my brothers, Ralph, Dana and Tom and their spouses and my nieces and nephews. This next year will be my 40th class reunion at Cornell and I hope to reunite with the Cornell in Honduras group. We did literacy work in a village and Alice Michtom, one of the group, found us all through the internet. And in March John and I will be back packing in the Grand Canyon with friends.
I remain very involved with the BeFriender's program at GSP and that community keeps my spirit alive. I want to become more involved with peace action. Mi casa es su casa.
May the God of hope bring us all joy and peace this Christmas and in the New Year.
To: all Subject: saludos
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2002
Hello Isao, Jim, Alicia, and Bob, It was so good to see the picture of you and your daughter and to read your email exchange with Jim. December is an especially busy time of year in hospitals so I rarely take off at Christmas. I don't know if Alicia forwarded my messages to everyone but I live in Tucson and have three beautiful grown children and now a grandson.
I remember you with great fondness and as a fine leader of our group. After Cornell I joined the Peace Corps and went to Peru for two years. I married a fellow PCV and then we returned to graduate school at UC Berkeley in 65 and were involved in the antiwar effort there. Then we moved to Amherst, Ma. where Joel taught at Hampshire College. Then we moved our family cross-country again to Tucson in l983 as we had always wanted to get back to the west. Southern Arizona attracts a lot of former volunteers with its proximity to Mexico. I use my Spanish and cross cultural experience everyday in my job as an oncology social worker. I have also had opportunities to teach in the medical school and designed a course for oncology fellows called the "Art of Communicating Bad News."
I love Tucson because it offers so many beautiful places for hiking. A colleague of mine is leading a five day backpack in the Grand Canyon in March. I plan to start training for after running a half marathon this weekend, my first at age 60!
Since my divorce about five years ago I have returned to my Anglican spiritual roots and have found a community of very caring and socially committed people and among whom it is o.k. to question one's faith.
I do hope that we will have a reunion, possibly in Ithaca. At least for now we are having an internet one, thanks to Alicia.
I have a box of stuff in my garage from Honduras, so I will see what I can find. Jim, it would be great if you could have real copies made of that picture. I will send you all a picture taken of me in late October in Sardinia.
The first picture was taken after a hike in the Supramonte in northern Sardinia after which we visited a shepherd's cottage and I wanted to have my picture taken with him. The second two were taken on the south coast of Sardinia, the first time I had been swimming in the Mediteranean. The water was cold but not too cold. I had listened to tapes and learned some Italian, so with my early cross cultural experiences in Honduras, etc. and Spanish, I was able to navigate us around some little villages. Nancy
This was the beginning of our Grand Canyon Hike. We started in four inches of snow which added to the beauty and excitement. It was a very difficult trip, not the kind I would want to do all the time, but it was spectacular. On my left is John, my friend and fellow Cornelian '63 and Robert, my colleague, mountain man and guide(You can see the size of his pack!). We had two others who were planning to go but backed out because of the weather. The total trip was thirty miles. We hiked out the day after war started in another storm at the rim.