Hi Bob and Rick,

My hiatus from Washington has been quite enjoyable so far.

Denise and I went to Utah (of all places) and spent a couple of weeks hiking and looking at geology. This helped put life in a larger context than may have been apparent to me recently.

Hiking

Even a substantial stomach, such as this, is dwarfed by the scale of the geology in Utah.

That was followed by several weeks in Italy, with a day trip to Switzerland on the side. I’m sure that we came away with a renewed sense of the purpose of life, beyond pasta and chocolate, although they’re right up there.

One

This is one of 5 villages we hiked through along the Mediterranean.

The

We visited The David at home in Florence.

For the past few weeks, and for a couple of months to come, we’ll be in a little village on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, where we’ve had a modest casa for the last several years. Homes in the DR, like buildings everywhere, suffer when they’re not inhabited so there is lots to do.

You can’t even begin to imagine what happens to a largely untended garden in the Caribbean.

Our garden is fabulous, about 800 square meters of paths and flowering plants falling off over a very steep hill formed when molten lava met the primordial sea. We hire a guy to savagely slash at it with a machete in our absence, but it is not enough.

Last summer we had a buildingtradesman named Ruben expand the thatched roof to cover the entire deck overlooking the bay and the Atlantic. The view is an ever-changing vista that continually delights and frequently astonishes a couple of inland-dwellers such as Denise and I. This is also where the hammocks are located (although one could easily de camp to the guest bungalow, which is situated with a similar vista…)

We continue with our Spanish classes, whenever we can pin down la professora, and grow tired of the pidgin nature of our communication about things of substance, although we muddle along OK with the requirements of day-to-day life when speaking with our Dominican, French, Italian, and German neighbors.

The only other Americans in town are a retired Boston police detective and his retired AFA partner and a couple from Central Ohio who look askance at my IUPAT “Win With Gore” tee shirt.

The cop masquerades as Santa Clause and has been working on his beard since June.

The couple from Ohio keep their counsel regarding politics in the US. It’s that sort of place.

We’ve yet to host our first visitors from the US and are anxious to see how that goes. I’m thinking that the rustic conditions and minor privations are small price to pay for the rewards of a few days or weeks on la loma in Las Galeras.

My daughter is trying to arrange to visit sometime in mid-January, so we’ll see.

I haven’t yet made any decisions about what’s next for me in Washington, but have no regrets about my last choice.

This is typed by thumbs, on a BBerry keyboard, so please overlook the more glaring keyboarding errors.

I hope you’ll further forebear my seemingly arbitrary selection of you as the recipients of this missive. I trust your respective judgments and respectfully ask and give you license to forward this note to those as may be interested. I’d also be grateful if you’d let me know that this message was NOT captured by your respective Spam filters.

I hope that the holidays find you all fulfilled and happy.

Best and fraternal regards,

Bill

Roofing? It’s concrete and, inexplicably, flat. The membrane has failed. The roof is the source of all of our non-potable water.

So now I’m a roofer.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Eventually, most of the old coatings came off.

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