Monday, September 04, 2006

Time for more of your letters...

Clarifications and addenda: The CD compilation of “Music to Groove By” was actually sent by Brian Daugherty and Mia Carter, friends and colleagues from the English Department. Thanks for the clarification, Brian—and thanks especially for the music!  And thanks to Kathy Keller for solving the Mystery of the Beautifully Decorated Cigar Box! It’s from Alice Mabry, a BodyChoir friend who’ll be visiting , together with Kathysoon. Thanks, Alice! And an addendum to the visitors’ list from last weekend: Nicky Jeffords, a writer and painter who’s become a close BodyChoir friend, stopped by briefly after dropping her husband and son off at the airport so that Justin can begin the new school year at his new school near Santa Fe; Nicky’s daughter, Gabi, was waiting in the car downstairs, so Nicky couldn’t stay long, but it was great to see her just the same. I sure hope I’m dancing as hard as she does ten years after my cancer treatments!

More from the 130 Letters project, which continues to bring us wonderful surprises that  make us laugh and cry:
A beautiful letter from BodyChoir Brucie, a small wiry man in his early 60s who dances like an acrobatic angel. Sharron Rush, founder of Knowbility, organizer of the annual Accessibility Internet Rallies that do so much to spread accessibility awareness through the design community here in Austin and, increasingly, on the national level as well; and my co-author on Maximum Accessibility, together with her husband Ron Hicks, painter and musician, sent long extracts from Whitman’s Leaes of Grass, a poem that shaped my understanding of America as a world of possibilities, as it has for so many others over the past 150 years. Yvonne Miller, another BodyChoir friend—talented dance performer, staff member for Yo Yo Ma and, most recently, a manager at the Performing Arts Center at UT—sent a thoughtful, meditative letter accompanied by a volume of Billy Collins’ poetry—he’s a poet I hadn’t known until a few weeks ago when Yvonne’s husband, Brian, spent some time at our house in Austin reading me poems from the same volume.
More poetry came from my Rhetoric colleague Jeff Walker and his wife, Yoko, a professional librarian at UT—this time excerpts from the ancient poet Pindar (Jeff is a classicist) celebrating love and the strength that comes from it. From Becky Gibson of IBM, a colleague in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group with whom I spent a fine day walking through Brussels’ parks and finding good restaurants after a big WCAG meeting just over a week before the initial leukemia diagnosis last year—from Becky came a moving note and a beautiful photograph that she had taken herself on a trip to Antarctica. She said that she had wrestled with whether to send me a photograph or not, and finally decided in favor since photography is her passion. Thank you, Becky. I’m glad to havfe the photo precisely because taking it means so much to you—and besides, your long  description is terrific! Derek Featherstone, talented Javascript programmer, accessibility advocate, and fine teacher, surprised me with a nice Net Note, hand delivered by a hospital volunteer. And then—speaking of being caught by surprise—what should arrive in the mail but a package from old friend Sara Kimball, one of the world’s foremost scholars of ancient Hittite language and culture—the package contained a gimme cap with the question “Got Wine?” across the forehead, a beautifully apt take-off on the stupid TV ads with the slogan, “Got Milk?” You got the money, honey, I got the time… And there was a characteristic Sara note about how our President George W. Bush’s presence in Main for a wedding had held up Sara’s attempts to cross some intersection (she was also vacationing in Maine at the time) for 45 minutes: Couldn’t he have just stayed in Texas? She asks (a sentiment shared by many but by no means all the readers of this post).  James Craig, an extremely talented Web designer and accessibility advocate whom I first met when he got involved in AIR, who recently moved from Austin to San Francisco and a new job with Apple Computer (bravo, James Bravo, Apple!!) two CDs  filled with episodes of his favorite radio program, Ira Glass’ This American Life, which I also enjoy  very much. There was a sweet note from Brucie, one of the great dancers in BodyChoir, that really captured the flavor of my dance in a very kind way. Sharon Slater sent a beautiful letter about a recent trip/pilgrimage to Mexico, where she’d gone to a monastery for food, Including spiritual nourishment and shelter. Judith Sokolow(you may remember my mentioning in a previous post that Judith and Anna have been  friends since they were housemates at Sarah Lawrence) sent a short, thoughtful letter and a card. Eileen Dolan sent a lovely letter accompanying three stones. I’m not sure where they come from, but two of them feel cool and shiny; the third, biggest one is rough to the touch, as if it were a different stone altogether. All three are heart-shaped, and will join Peg’s jasper heart on the altar in the opposite corner of the room. Franny, another BodyChoir friend, sent beautiful drawings that she had done, together with a thoughtful card and a book. Kunda, who’s actively involved in groups seeking to restore the old prairie grasses and other vegetation native to the Texas plains, and a friend from BodyChoir, sent quotations from numerous healers. Vicente Fores sent a great note along with a copy of his introduction to a scholarly journal about Shakespeare whose publication was timed to coincide with a Shakespeare festival in Valencia a few years ago, where Vicente and his family live. Jan and Michael Haney (more BodyChoir friends!) sent a fine letter.  Pam Scott and Judy Watford sent a card  with different  messages, one in inkprint and one in Braille, which Pam has tried twice to teach me—to no avail, since I wouldn’t do my homework. And I think Judy was in the Commission for the Blind’s Technology Evaluation Unit the day I first laid hands on JAWS.  From Joan Mullen, a colleague in Rhetoric, comes a lovely poem/prayer   that sounded, as Anna read it, like a guided meditation.  Wayne Lesser and his wife, Lu, sent a card with a beautiful paisley design and a poem inside.

Steve Podowlski, a computer wizard who also dances with us at BodyChoir, brought his message in person today: there must be a dozen bottles of healing drinks, in many varieties. Anna’s brother Rick, and his wife, Evelyn, visited with for a while in the hospital room, and then the three of them (Rik, Evelyn, and Anna) went out to dinner. And finally for now, Lisa Kimball (no relation to Sara, above), and also a college friend and housemate of Anna’s and Judith’s, sent an inspiring card whose front face read, “hen life hands you a load of lemons, make lemonade.” And then on the inside was a stroke of brilliance: But if life hands you a load of crap, don’t make anything! And with that timeless advice there was a book, too, called What Were They Thinking?—a history of bad ideas in many fields over a long period of time.


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