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September 18, 2022.

Dear Tobi

Hey, I drove through La Farge yesterday. I haven't been there in years. Been so long. I was surprised to find my Great Grandparents' home still standing. They lived in an apartment on the upper floor of a house on Main Street. I was coming through from the other end of town and just when I thought it had been torn down and built over I saw it. Recognizable by the steep staircase on the right side of the house. I took a picture of it and sent it to my Dad. He commented how the house had been resided. Which jogged my memory as I seem to recall it being red siding or something back when I was a kid. I would have loved to have found the owner outside. I would have asked if I could take a peek inside. I bet it's changed inside. Seems it would have to have been remodeled as I recall squeaky floors and just being really old back then. I remember it somewhat well, surprisingly.

It's still a tiny town. I don't think much has changed, aside from up on a hill on the other side the headquarters of Organic Valley, a big dairy operation. I drove up the hill to it but it was closed. They had a little shop on Main Street so I stopped in to check that out. Got to talking a little to the young guy working there who had only just moved to La Farge two months ago from a suburb in Chicago. Seems funny as there really isn't much there to move to. It's still country. Although the towns around have been growing and becoming more young and hip. The driftless region as it's called. Viroqua in particular. Anyway, I told him how I wanted to stop in at the headquarters up on the hill because that was my Great Uncle John's land. He didn't seem interested in my history. He did tell me that the shop where I was standing was actually the original Organic Valley.

I was a little thrown off by the location of the huge headquarters buildings. It looked nothing like my Great Uncle John's land, as I remembered. I wondered if I would see his house still staning. I didn't. But as I was driving into town I saw a street coming in from an angle with a cemetery. So I backtracked to it, drove up over the hill and there it was. My Great Uncle's house. It's been uninhabitable for years. I remember my Grandfather telling me that back when HE was alive. There was a tarp over the door and over a window. The roof above the kitchen was caving in, but I get the impression someone is using it to store things inside. Who knows what. I peeked into an open porch window and saw a gasoline can and a few other things? I noticed the grass had been mowed, and the lawn kept up. There's a fenced in patch by the old barn with huge pumpkins. I took pictures of the old barn and the fence. I remember old home movies my Dad took of me and my brother with our Great Uncle John and his big horses. He used to take those horse to the State Fair.

I'll have to see if I can import a few photos here for you, if interested. My Dad sent me a picture of a newspaper clipping of his Uncle John and Aunt Garnett. Garnett was one of my Grandma's sister's.

As I was driving out of town toward Viroqua guess what I saw. A road sign for Husker Hollow! I would have loved to have went down the road but there was traffic behind me and it was getting dark. Next time. I did Google Roberts and Husker Hollow and found this photo. Check this out, fourth photo down! The Roberts/Campbell clan: http://www.vernoncountyhistory.org/photos/historic_photosx.php. (You might have to copy and paste that.)

Do you remember the name of the Roberts your father is related to? My Dad has an old Bible passed down from my Grandma that belonged to his Great Great Grandfater, Willis J. Roberts, who fought in the Civil War. A relative of yours, too! Remind me how again.

I still find it fascinating that you and I met many many many many many years later.

Gotta run for now. Coffee shop's closing. But I'll try to add photos later.

Love always,

Dave



July 29, 2022.

Dear Tobi

So sorry to hear you had to leave Italy. I didn't know Italy required boosters every 3 months. I had my single shot vaccine, and the booster some time after that. I hear there's another available, but I haven't gotten it yet. I'm not sure I want to. Not that I don't trust it, I just don't know anything about it. And now there's this monkeypox thing.

I thought of you when I opened up my laptop today to a beautiful image of an island somewhere in Italy. I forget which. It was one of those ever-changing screensavers. If it's still there next time I log in I'll take note. I wish I were in Italy right now. I've only seen Rome. I'd like to roam, and see more of the country.

Will you be moving anywhere else? Like back to China? Canada? Some other country?

More later. I must run out to my garden. Disappointed yesterday to see someone stole one of my cabbages. I hope they don't come back for more. I have four enormous Late flat dutch cabbages. I'm surprised the thief didn't go after one of those! Think I'll get some potatoes today.

I dig potatoes.

Dave



August 12, 2022.

Dear Tobi

So sorry to hear of your friend's husband. Was he suffering from depression? A friend of mine took his life a few years ago. He had health issues that led to it. It's hard for friends to understand. And it has to be hardest on the family.

:(

Dave



July 29, 2022.

Dear Tobi

So sorry to hear you had to leave Italy. I didn't know Italy required boosters every 3 months. I had my single shot vaccine, and the booster some time after that. I hear there's another available, but I haven't gotten it yet. I'm not sure I want to. Not that I don't trust it, I just don't know anything about it. And now there's this monkeypox thing.

I thought of you when I opened up my laptop today to a beautiful image of an island somewhere in Italy. I forget which. It was one of those ever-changing screensavers. If it's still there next time I log in I'll take note. I wish I were in Italy right now. I've only seen Rome. I'd like to roam, and see more of the country.

Will you be moving anywhere else? Like back to China? Canada? Some other country?

More later. I must run out to my garden. Disappointed yesterday to see someone stole one of my cabbages. I hope they don't come back for more. I have four enormous Late flat dutch cabbages. I'm surprised the thief didn't go after one of those! Think I'll get some potatoes today.

I dig potatoes.

Dave


July 08, 2022.

Dear Tobi

Well, here I am enjoying an iced coffee on the balcony of Cargo Coffee on East Washington so I thought I'd drop you a line to say Hi.

Hi.

Love always,

Dave

P.S. I haven't had coffee iced in a long time. Funny, lately I've been into tea. Iced tea, that is. Black, sometimes mixed with lemonade, sometimes mixed with their orange something-or-another herbal iced tea. When I order it black I always ask for a lemon. I don't always get the lemon. They seem to get distracted and forget. But I don't make a fuss. I found a volunteer mint plant growing this spring in my community plot, so I transplanted it to my row of herbs. Often I take a few leaves right before I leave and later put them in my iced tea. I don't really know what to do with it, otherwise. I must look into this as I do like it. I like mint ice cream, but I don't make ice cream. I like mint Lifesavers, but I don't make Lifesavers. I quit chewing gum long ago. I don't plant dill anymore. It plants itself. It grows everywhere. I had a little in my lettuce salad yesterday. It lent the dressing a nice flavor. Or "flavour" depending upon your preference (I haven't forgotten that you are Canadian). As with mint, I don't really know what to do with dill. Used for pickling, sure. And good on salmon. I don't grow salmon. Although I should. I hear they do. Farm raised salmon!

How about you? Are you growing anything this summer?


May 22, 2022.

Dear Tobi

Just a quick note to say "Hi!" Hi! I'm having a quick cup of coffee before heading in to work. Sitting directly across fro me is your youngest, Gracie, looking all grown up now. And she probably is! No, really. The young woman sitting at the next table here on the balcony looks a lot like I remember.

Busy May as always. Work is work, planting the garden mornings before work is fun work, two long races on consecutive weekends, neither of which I have been prepared for in recent years. And then my client in Colorado has had some problems connecting to her website; and when I took a look, so did I! Turned out to be the server, not her or me. But then the ability for her to make updates isn't working. I think that third-party content management system must have closed down as neither of us can access it. So I guess that will be my June project, getting her reconnected to make edits when needed. But at least most of May is through!

How are you doing? Are you still in Italy? Hey, I was talking to a passeger whose last name is Limonecelli. I said to him how that must be a name that has some meaning. He told me his father was an orpan in Italy, and over there they don't give names to the orphans, they leave it up to the child once they reach a certain age. He told me his Dad grew up on a lemon grove, so he called himself Limonecelli, or "Little Lemon". Is that the correct translation? Didn't seem quite right to me, but what do I know? Either way, I thought it was kind of a cute story.

Oh well, off to work. I'm running behind!

Love you,

Dave


April 29, 2022.

Dear Tobi

Happy Birthday!

Just a quick note to say hello. Hope you have a great day. Or am I too late with that time zone thing? Hope you had a great day!

Thought of you yesterday while listening to a radio show with a theme. Theme Time Radio Hour with your host Bob Dylan. The theme was the Moon. Did you see the Moon last night? It's the same one, you know.

I must sign out for now as they're trying to close shop. More here later!

Again, Happy Birthday!

<3

Dave


February 25, 2022.

Dear Tobi

It's about time I sit back and relax on the balcony on a much deserved day off and enjoy a (second) glass (why not?) of iced tea. I probably could have gone in today, but why? I went in on Sunday, thought about calling in sick on Monday, went in, left work early because I wasn't feeling well, and called in sick the next two scheduled days. One must be careful as not to become too smug. It was Sunday when I commented that wearing a mask during the cold and flu season just might be the thing to do as I haven't gotten either during the last two years! And then Monday I awake with an aching stomach and aching head. I still don't know what hit me. I had one of those home COVID tests and tested negative. So that was a positive! I was fine by Thursday to go in and work the two hours I promised a coworker. Two hours is a nice shift. It should be the norm, don't you think? Just pay me the weekly 40 for a 10 hour week. Sounds fair, right?

Which reminds me, I had made changes last week to my first web client's site. Quite a few changes last year since the new director took over, and I never did bill her for that. She mentioned this in her latest email. I explained the clumsiness of having lost all previous invoices during The Great External Hard Drive Crash of Whatever Year That Was. I told her not only had I forgotten where I was, "professionally" (whatever that means), in my invoice numbering, but I had forgotten the hourly rate at which I had been charging. I told her I wasn't concerned about payment for anything in the past, but I was considering a freelance business name change, anyway, and that I would follow through, as requested, in billing her. I asked what she would consider a fair rate. She replied. Not quite the four times ratio I joke about in the last paragraph, but three times what I seem to remember charging several years ago. Which is more in line with what freelance web designers make, I'm told. This will make my friend Jamie (who's sort of in the business) happy as he's been telling me I'm stupid for not charging what I'm worth. What can I say? It was my first client, a friend of mine (who passed away over a year ago), and a nonprofit. So now I'm left trying to come up with a different freelance name. I don't like the one I've been using. I would like something a little more anonymous. Or random. That way I could start afresh with billing. Invoice 0001.

How are things with you? Are things a little more relaxed in Italy? Have you been keeping up with the news on this continent? I haven't, really. I mean, I still don't know what the trucker thing was all about in Canada. Something about disrupting traffic in protest of mask mandates. Personal freedoms, and such. I used to know someone in Canada. I wonder what ever happened to her. :)

Thinking of you.

Love you always,

Dave


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