Archive for September, 2016

Letter from Claverack 09 03 2016 Celebrating unexpected relationships…

September 3, 2016

Since 2005, I have had help on weekends from someone in Hudson.  First it was Christopher and we worked together for two or three years and then it was Christopher and Eddie.  But when Christopher started waiting tables on weekends at the Dot, he fell away and then Eddie got another job and Eddie’s younger brother, Nick, took over.

About that time, Nick Stuart, came into my life and our friendship blossomed.  So when differentiating the various Nicks in my life, I started calling the Nick who helped me “Young Nick.”

He has loyally stayed with me since he started.  One year I thought I had lost him to the Carnival circuit when he left town with the people who do the rides at County Fairs after he had worked the Columbia County Fair.  Somewhere in Connecticut, he tired of the Carnie life and came back home.

He is twenty-three now, has two daughters and is no longer “Young Nick” though I still call him that sometimes.  He has two daughters.  I was at the christening of his first daughter, Alicia, and he has asked me to be the godfather to his second daughter, Lettie.  His father helps me out too and I’ve become friendly with his family.  When one of his brothers got married, they asked me to the wedding.  Martin, his father, has even given me a hug.  I’ve been told that just doesn’t happen.  But it did last Christmas.

Today, “Young Nick” was here with his friend Giovanni, freshly back from Florida, straightening up and bringing the cottage back to “tickety boo” as my other friend Nick would say.  “Young Nick” has been absent for two weeks, dealing with other jobs that were more demanding than my needs so things were getting rough.  Now they’re not.

When I was sick in February, it was Nick who came and took me to the hospital, getting to my house in half the time it usually takes.  At Christmas, when I am doing my Christmas quiches for the neighbors, Nick acts as my sous chef.  He has helped at my parties. Now regular guests expect to see him here and ask regularly about how he is doing.

He is much more than a person who helps out.  He is part of that extended “family of choice” as we go through life.  I feel very avuncular toward him.  He has grown up in front of me, week after week.  It has been quite amazing to watch.  It has, indeed, been a privilege.

Right now my house glistens; my yard, such as it is, is perfect.   He and his father, Martin, redecorated my bathroom, installed my new appliances, have fixed a plethora of broken objects in my home.  He repainted my living and dining room, in one week, while I was in the city.  When I returned, it was done to perfection and everything was back exactly where it had been.

When I started writing tonight, I didn’t mean to make a paean to “Young Nick” but sitting in the freshly fluffed house and yard, I have been overcome by my gratitude to have this person in my life.

Since 2005, I have had help on weekends from someone in Hudson.  First it was Christopher and we worked together for two or three years and then it was Christopher and Eddie.  But when Christopher started waiting tables on weekends at the Dot, he fell away and then Eddie got another job and Eddie’s younger brother, Nick, took over.

About that time, Nick Stuart, came into my life and our friendship blossomed.  So when differentiating the various Nicks in my life, I started calling the Nick who helped me “Young Nick.”

He has loyally stayed with me since he started.  One year I thought I had lost him to the Carnival circuit when he left town with the people who do the rides at County Fairs after he had worked the Columbia County Fair.  Somewhere in Connecticut, he tired of the Carnie life and came back home.

He is twenty-three now, has two daughters and is no longer “Young Nick” though I still call him that sometimes.  He has two daughters.  I was at the christening of his first daughter, Alicia, and he has asked me to be the godfather to his second daughter, Lettie.  His father helps me out too and I’ve become friendly with his family.  When one of his brothers got married, they asked me to the wedding.  Martin, his father, has even given me a hug.  I’ve been told that just doesn’t happen.  But it did last Christmas.

Today, “Young Nick” was here with his friend Giovanni, freshly back from Florida, straightening up and bringing the cottage back to “tickety boo” as my other friend Nick would say.  “Young Nick” has been absent for two weeks, dealing with other jobs that were more demanding than my needs so things were getting rough.  Now they’re not.

When I was sick in February, it was Nick who came and took me to the hospital, getting to my house in half the time it usually takes.  At Christmas, when I am doing my Christmas quiches for the neighbors, Nick acts as my sous chef.  He has helped at my parties. Now regular guests expect to see him here and ask regularly about how he is doing.

He is much more than a person who helps out.  He is part of that extended “family of choice” as we go through life.  I feel very avuncular toward him.  He has grown up in front of me, week after week.  It has been quite amazing to watch.  It has, indeed, been a privilege.

Right now my house glistens; my yard, such as it is, is perfect.   He and his father, Martin, redecorated my bathroom, installed my new appliances, have fixed a plethora of broken objects in my home.  He repainted my living and dining rooms, in one week, while I was in the city.  When I returned, it was done to perfection and everything was back exactly where it had been.

When I started writing tonight, I didn’t mean to make a paean to “Young Nick” but sitting in the freshly fluffed house and yard, I have been overcome by my gratitude to have this person in my life.

 

Letter From Claverack, New York 09 02 2016

September 3, 2016

As I was sitting on the deck, there came a slight chill in the air, a harbinger of times to come.  It is still a luxurious green outside the window but it was getting just a little chill and so I returned to the dining room table to write this.

It occurred to me that working on these letters has contributed to my happiness over the years, particularly since I began to have more time at the cottage, a chance to collect my thoughts and ruminate upon the world in which we live.

It has been a good day.  Waking early, I journaled for a bit, read the daily summary of the news in the NY Times, drank coffee and then went down to the eye doctor.  I have an aggressive cataract in my right eye that must be dealt with.  Cold comfort that they tell me it is not age related.  The surgery needs to be done.  I am nervous and it is now scheduled for November 9th.  It has been a hindrance of late so I am glad it will be handled.

From there I treated myself to lunch at Ca’Mea while reading “The Romanovs,” a NY Times best seller about the dynasty that ruled Russia for 300 plus years and came to a sad end in a room in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in 1918, the last Tsar and his family and their retainers shot to death.

While I knew something of the end of the Romanov Era as I had studied Tolstoy, Chekov and others of that “Silver Age” I have known very little of the earlier Romanovs.  They had some particularly gruesome ways of killing their rivals.

Returning home, I napped a bit and then went out to the deck to do some prep work for my class.  I am now very much looking forward to it.

Touching in on the news of the day, I can only find myself smiling over the absurdity of it all.  One of Hillary Clinton’s laptops, chock-a-block with emails was lost in the US Mail.  I roll my eyes.

In what should come as NO surprise, Hispanics really, really don’t like Donald Trump according to America’s Voice’s poll, a pro-immigration group that did a large poll among Hispanics.  He is doing dramatically worse than Mitt Romney.  Hispanic Republicans are deserting Trump, particularly after his immigration speech in Arizona.

Brazil has ousted its President.  Dilma Rousseff is gone and “Brazil has turned a page,” according to its new President.  For the Brazilian people, let us hope so.

Long ago, I was getting on a flight in Atlanta, going God knows where but Mother Theresa and some of her nuns were getting on the flight with me.  I saw her walk by, followed by her coterie.  It was before I went to India.

She is about to be a saint though when I was in India there were many who found her less than saintly.  I have a friend in India, a Beverly Hills Jew who is now a sadhu, who worked with the Gandhi’s when they were in power.  He railed against Mother Theresa, claiming she was the ultimate “fixer” in Calcutta, now Kolkata.  He despised her and there are those in India who are devoting their lives to dispelling what they call the myth of Mother Theresa.  I don’t know the truth.

It is dark now. The floodlights have been turned on so I can see the creek.  I have lights on the front of the house, year round that I often light.  My former neighbor, Karen Fonda, once called me to tell me how happy seeing the lights made her.  When I turn them on, I think of her.  She is now in assisted living, sinking into the hell that is Alzheimer’s.

Hurricane Hermine is moving out of Florida and into the Carolinas.  Yesterday, I phoned my sister who lives in Florida to see how she was doing. Okay, a few power outages but generally well.  While New York City was having rain today, my part of the Hudson Valley was sunny and cheerful.

Roger Ailes, recently ousted as Tsar of Fox News, is now advising Donald Trump.  No one seems to be paying much attention to this.  Ailes has been accused by many women of having made inappropriate sexual suggestions to them.  He was finally toppled when Megyn Kelly, not well liked by Trump, but a Fox News star, met with the legal team investigating Ailes and corroborated the stories.

No one seems to care.

Well, I think it’s a wise move on Trump’s part as Ailes created the wild conservative movement we now have in America.  But unwise in that Ailes is discredited by many at this moment.  Interesting to see how this serpentine relationship works itself out.

 

 

Letter From New York 09 01 2016 From the Creek, thinking about space…

September 1, 2016

When I was a young boy, I was a voracious reader.  I devoured Greek myths and stories of ancient Egypt.  When night came, I would hide under my covers and read Tom Swift books by flashlight.  Finding that ineffective, I convinced my parents I was terrified of the dark so they let me keep a light on.  It made reading so much easier.

I discovered Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. The first time I read the Foundation Trilogy by Asimov I loved it but didn’t quite understand it all.  The third time I reveled in his artistry in creating a universe.  I still, once and again, read Heinlein’s “Citizen of the Galaxy.”

In later years, friends and I would gather and watch “Star Trek,” at an age when we would enhance the experience with cannabis.  I have looked toward the stars.  When the Challenger exploded, I was driving down Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles and nearly rear ended the car in front of me in my shock.

Yesterday Elon Musk’s Space X rocket, during a test, exploded, destroying not just itself but also a satellite Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had invested in to bring internet to Africa.

It is unlikely I will meet Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg.  And I credit them for using their wealth and technology to work to expand our efforts toward space.  It’s always been my belief that we, as a race, need to long beyond now to something more.

We have conquered this planet.  Maybe to its detriment, but there is little left undiscovered here and so much undiscovered beyond the gravitational fields of this planet.

Okay, I am a great supporter of space exploration.  I think we need it as a species.  We’re, as humans, driven to look for more.  Always been that way and hope it will always be that way.

When I was young, I was in a theater troupe and we all stopped that night in 1969 to watch the landing on the moon.

In my life, I’ve met the famous and the once famous and have never asked for an autograph.  Except when I met Buzz Aldrin, 2nd man on the moon.  It’s framed, in my study.

Okay, I have now exposed myself as a space geek.

And I admire, no matter what we think of them, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Richard Branson of Virgin everything, and Elon Musk of Tesla and Space X, for wanting to take us out there.

Since we retired the Space Shuttles we have no way of bringing personnel to the International Space Station so we use the Russians.  But Elon Musk’s company has brought supplies there for a fraction of the cost of other means.

It is my belief that we need to be looking outward because looking outward gives us, the human race, a sense of hope in the future and it is the hope of a future that has propelled us from the caves to here.