Letter From New York 02 04 15 Far from a troubled world…

Returning to Claverack last night, I found my drive bordered with small mountains of snow from the plowman. Waking this morning, I saw that for the first time in all the years I have been here, the creek has frozen over. It was a brisk three degrees this morning when I got up to make the morning coffee. The cold seemed to permeate the walls.

When I was pulling into the drive after a foray to the store for food and a fresh ink cartridge for my printer I had to wait at the base of the drive for the daily deer migration. Checking the car clock, I saw it was four o’clock. I’ve been wondering why at four, almost precisely, they cross my property?

The world outside my window seems, once again, almost a black and white photo, as the sun is setting. The moon is full and last night cast magical sparkles on the snow driving home.

When I had my morning coffee, I checked in on the New York Times, catching up with the world.

Last night, tragically, an SUV got stuck in a railroad crossing, and was hit by a northbound train. It exploded and the driver, a young Jewish woman and mother of three, was killed along with five of the train’s passengers, including the curator of European painting at the Metropolitan Museum.   It was the worst accident ever on Metro North Rail, plagued in the last two years by a series of accidents.

The accident happened while I was riding an Amtrak train, heading home. One of our fellow passengers got a news alert and looked it up online. The photos were gruesome. It seemed surprising the loss of life was not worse.

King Abdullah II of Jordan was in Washington, DC for a visit with Obama when it was announced yesterday that Moaz al-Kasasbeh, a Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS, had been burnt alive. He headed back home immediately. While he was still in the air, two prisoners convicted of terrorism were executed, just as he had promised. When the King landed, he was meet by an unexpectedly warm welcome.

Promising a strong response to ISIS, Abdullah huddled with his security chiefs today, seeking a strategy for revenge.

Around the Arab world, there has been a wave of revulsion for this death. There was a surprising chorus of agreement from Muslims: this was a step too far. Only Allah can burn a man, in hell.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed, a billionaire investor, dumped most of his holdings in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, parent of Fox News. He was also named today by convicted terrorist Moussaoui as one of the early funders of Al Qaeda. The naming of several prominent Saudi princes as funders of terror comes at a delicate time for the US, as one King has just died and another King has just taken the throne. It stirs a pot that has been simmering since 9/11 when it was learned that most of the terrorists on the planes were of Saudi origin.

Moussaoui has also had his mental competence challenged.

In the worlds of arts and letters, two things have happened.

Harper Lee, of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD fame, will be coming out with another book, TO SET A WATCHMAN, a sequel to MOCKINGBIRD. Her attorney recently uncovered the manuscript, long thought lost. It will be released this summer, with a printing of two million copies.

Marina Picasso, granddaughter of Pablo, the great painter who was not a great grandfather according to her, intends to sell some of the many paintings she controls, potentially throwing into disarray the market for Picassos. She will use the proceeds to fund her charitable endeavors.

The sky has turned pearl grey and lights are flickering on in my little circle of the world. Tonight, after finishing this, I will head to the kitchen to prepare a meal for friends, a salted roasted chicken with baby new potatoes. I will lose myself in the simple pleasures of preparing a meal, taking myself far from the troubled world in which we live.

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