Monthly Archives: August 2011

Something to consider

There’s a lot to be said about downtime from digital devices.  It’s like taking a vacation from all your routines. Traveling frees us of feeling we must do a blow-by-blow of everyday; when we do post something, it seems to mean more. More than anything, I know there’s no reason (or need) to apologize or explain after such time away.

Peter has accused me of being addicted to staying in touch on-line and he might have a point. I DO like knowing what’s going on with my friends, and it DOES seem like FaceBook is where “all my worlds collide” — farflung family,  high school and college friends, Uppies, Seattle-ites, state arts folks, locals I don’t see nearly often enough.   I don’t know that it matters to them, but it matters to ME to see new photos, express birthday greetings, be on the receiving end of some inspiration, share a little music once in a while, read their writings… whatever.

However, this summer I found that when really busy with other obligations, my correspondence via FaceBook dropped in direct proportion; I’d squeeze in a few minutes per day rather than several 10-to-15 minute sessions over and over. It didn’t seem to “hurt” much. Of course, having some IN-PERSON TIME with many folks this year (some of whom I hadn’t seen in years or even decades) made up for it!!!!

And we live in a place where we DON’T always have access. I don’t know that I ever appreciated lack of cell phone coverage until our reception went out just minutes after I’d heard from my sister Judy that my mom had died. As we were driving south from Pinedale, Peter and I shared memories of Mother, quietly. It meant a lot to have that time together. Then, when we reached the next place with any bars (Farson!), I had just enough time to talk to my sister Joan before the signal cut out again, not to come back until Rock Springs. (Note: This might be something only those who drive great distances in the West or who live in rural areas will truly understand.)

But I *am* starting to take some steps toward lightening my techno-load in some easy ways, which have helped.

My friends Stephen and Lisa Dyer have turned me on to the notion of “Unplugged Sunday.”  Check out this blog post where he explains the idea in a light-hearted way — that is to say, everyone deserves a break from immediate contact (or even the notion that constant access is a requirement to a full life).

It’s only a little ironic that I know about this from Lisa’s blog (and I receive new postings by e-mail), that I read his piece on-line, that you can like Unpugged Sunday on FB, and I’m sharing it here on my blog (which will *also* roll over onto FaceBook.) Such is life.

I’m going to take his advice and take it just one Sunday at a time, with the notion that doing so doesn’t increase my “Saturday to do list.”

Try it with me?

Let’s stay in touch (of course, electronically) about how this works for us!

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Filed under Around the Valley, Cool causes, Journeys..., Matters of the heart, Sorting things out

The Music of Life

Last night’s Music on Main concert was poignant. Earlier in the day, I learned that Jeff Newsom had, as his sister Ginny put it, “left the house,” finally succumbing to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), which had racked his body for at least a year and a half. Over the course of his disease, ALS had also stolen his ability to play the blues harmonica — a loss to the music world (read Richard Hunter’s take on Jeff here.)

Thus it was fitting, in rain-speckled Victor Park last night, then, that those of us who knew and loved Jeff were there to share in the music; some of his local music-maker friends, including Ben Winship, Ted Wells and Anne Sibley, performed in Ben’s “Fishing Music Friends.” After a shout-out to Jeff, the crowd sang along in a tribute to him.

Ben’s group was the opening act for M-o-M headliner Lukas Nelson, a Stevie Ray Vaughan-style rocker, who when he crooned ballad-style, you could close your eyes and think the voice belonged to his famous father Willie. His talent and tunes also reminded me of Jeff.

But Jeff wasn’t just a musician. That was just one aspect of this man. He was well-respected as a mountaineer–you can see some amazing photographs of his ascent of El Capitan on the FaceBook page of David Newsom, his actor/photographer brother. He built his own telescopes, and brought them down to Dark Horse Books during our Harry Potter book-release parties, setting them up outside so all of us could share in reaching for the stars. I also knew him as an avid reader, particularly of conspiracy theories and paranoia politics. He had a ready wit, big smile, an eclectic family, and lots and LOTS of friends, who gathered a year ago in April to “give back” for his years of giving. As Ginny said, “he loved this Valley and this community.”

This summer, Jeff took to the trails via wheelchair. His choice of last tunes, Ginny reported, was Higher Ground by Stevie Wonder. Jane LeCount, an angel in her own right, cared for him to the end. Ginny, David, and the rest of the Newsom siblings assisted; there’s a four-day fire vigil (through Sunday) at Ginny’s home, saying goodbye in an Ottawa tradition. His CD (produced by Ben, with plenty of Jeff’s friends sitting in, at “The Henhouse” in Victor) is a comfort, too.

Jeff’s loss leaves a hole in Teton Valley, but on any clear night, we can all gaze upward at the galaxy and realize the melody of life is never-ending….

Here are links to a longer tribute to Jeff’s musicianship, and to  purchase his CD directly from Ben.

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Filed under Around the Valley, Journeys..., Matters of the heart