5 July 1987

Hey, ther, Udo!–

Clearing up a point from my last letter: John tells me that the “Da Ponte” he played at the Santa Fe Opera was not a character in an opera, but Mozart’s librettist. It seems that Da Ponte was a foot-dragger, and Mozart had to harangue him ceaselessly to produce librettos for Wolfgang to flesh out with music. I sent John the following limerick, and have recieved no comment. Like Da Ponte, John can be a foot-dragger, too. (He was obviously a natural for the role.)

Da Ponte’s first name was Lorenzo
(From “Laurentum,” his city of gens-zo).
Teased Mozart, “I bet
“You no feenish librett’.”
Shrugged Da Ponte, “I’m close to da en’-zo.”

John may not have written yet because he is composing a limerick in response, and can’t find too many rhymes for “Dobbs.”

Now that Thomas has decided to be an astronomer, you have done the best possible thing by buying in Stamford, where the night sky is free of glare for Thomas’ telescope. The pieces of the Great Puzzle of Life are falling into place, and the Great Puzzle Maker (played by Sam Jaffe) probably lives in a cae near Stamford, and issues cosmic wisdom through his faithful servant (Arthur Treacher). I knew it would all work out for the best.

One point that eludes us: is the Stamford house to be The Slatin Home, or will you all continue to live in the city and go up to Stamford on weekends, summers, etc.? Stamford sounds like more than just a summer cottage.

I never knew you went to Cornell. Actually, I never really kenw what school you attended, although I had a recollection that it was in New York somewhere. I went to Brooklyn Polytech, which I understand is now called The Polytechnic Institute of the University of the State of New York (or something like that). Whatever it’s been renamed, it’s still a “subway college.” Campuses covered with ivy are best, although I enjoyed attending the University of New Mexico, where the campus is covered with cactus. Ivy attracts snails.

We have had house-guests for the last several days; they left yesterday. Stepson geologist has been coming and going while he works on his geophysics master’s thesis in the field up in Nevada (6-hour drive from here). Stepdaughter and totties and doctor-husband and doctor-father-in-law and wife are in the Caribbean on a “bare boat,” which turns out to be a sailing boat rented without a crew; you do your own hauling and helming. We are taking care of their house while they cavort (it’s just down the same street). We had one phone call: lots of biting insects, and the electricity is off more than it’s on. Sacramento never looked so beautiful.

Our weather has been coola t night and moderate during the day, for about 10 days. Not a peep out of Death Valley.

Fred C. (“Cactus-covered”) Dobbs

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