Archive for the ‘Social Commentarhy’ Category

Letter From New York 01 30 16 Uncommonly happy…

January 30, 2016

Hudson Valley  Lionel White  Pierre Font   Downton Abbey  iTunes  Hillary Email Crisis  Hillary Clinton  Bernie Sanders  Iowa Caucuses  Zika Virus  Putin  Russian Economy  Ammon Bundy 

It is a beautiful day in the Hudson Valley, the sun generously warming us into the mid-forties with a high of fifty promised for tomorrow.  The light glints off the creek and the wind is shaking the branches of the trees just outside the dining room window.

When I found myself cognizant this morning, I realized I was happy — for no particular reason, just caught up in a pleasant kind of joy that has remained with me during the day.

Tonight I am cooking for Lionel and Pierre and we’ll watch a movie from my collection.  Having subscribed to iTunes in order to watch the program, I now am in possession of the rest of the season of “Downton Abbey” and can binge if I so choose.

Not one of my students had heard of “Downton Abbey” when I asked them.

A LOT, I suspect, is going to be heard in the next few days about the twenty-two “top secret” emails found on Hillary’s server.  The question remains whether they were “top secret” when she received or sent them; there has been much classification after the fact with her emails.  One of the “top secret” ones seems, according to sources, to have been a publicly published article. 

Whatever the truth, it will be made much of in the days to come and it is especially inconvenient as it is only three days to the Iowa caucuses and Hillary has been losing ground to Bernie.

Suddenly, the Zika virus has become a major health threat, spreading rapidly through the Americas but nowhere more prevalent than in Recife, Brazil.  An impoverished city is being made more miserable by the mosquito born virus which results in some infected mothers to give birth to children with microcephaly, with heads and brains smaller than normal.

At least five countries have advised women not to get pregnant until more is known.  Some are saying Zika could be more of threat than Ebola.

A Russian plane violated Turkish airspace again.  Turkey did not shoot it down but did warn of consequences.

One wonders if Putin is playing with fire because he needs diversions from the rapidly declining Russian economy?  His budget has been slashed again because of the declining price of oil.  The Russian budget has been built on the basis of oil at $50.00 a barrel, which it’s not. 

There are reports that the average Russian citizen is beginning to get restless and are beginning to protest, particularly in towns away from Moscow.  Retirees are having their pensions cut.  And, after a taste of a better life, Russians may not want to suffer silently for Mother Russia.

While I sit watching the placid Claverack Creek, the European Refugee Crisis continues; 37 drowned yesterday while attempting to reach Greece.

Three dangerous inmates escaped from an Orange County, California jail and all three have been returned to custody.  One turned himself in and the other two were captured in a stolen van in a Whole Foods parking lot in San Francisco after an alert woman notified police of the presence there of a van matching the description of one being used by the escapees.

While Ammon Bundy is in custody, the Oregon stand-off continues with some of his followers still at the refuge even though Bundy has told them to stand down. 

The sun is beginning to set, a golden light is falling on the barren trees across the creek.  It is time for me to sign off and begin to cook, distracting myself from the world’s woes.

Letter From Claverack 08 23 15 Thoughts about mortality and the state of the world…

August 23, 2015

It is Sunday evening and I am on the deck, looking over the creek. Insects are humming in the background and a small plane is flying over me. I hear the soft sounds of the engine, drifting off into the distance.

I am content tonight though I have lots of work I need to do and have not done this weekend.

Long ago and in the faraway, I met a man who became my friend. When I moved to Columbia County, mutual friends told us that we were close to each other. They gave me his phone number and I left a message for him. They called him and said Mathew was close by.

It was a Saturday. I went to Walmart that day, right after the messages had been left for each other and we bumped into one another. Since then, we have spent Christmases and Thanksgivings together and many other nights. He and his wife are my closest friends here in Columbia County.

It is a troubling time for him and I spent the weekend with him, talking and listening and carousing a bit as was our nature back in the day.

He has a spot on his lung and there will be an operation on the 23rd of September. He is, understandably, concerned. It is more than a little scary and we spent part of yesterday talking about mortality. He also has a son who is dysfunctional and in trouble. I know him and we talked about him; what to do, what not to do. It is a difficult conundrum for my friend.

We talked about him yesterday and today.

This morning I volunteered to do the coffee hour at Christ Church. Now that I am spending more time in Columbia County I am doing my best to become more integrated into the community. This seemed a way to do that since I have been going to church there for the last couple of years.

I have to say I did a good job. Everyone raved about the coffee service. I had fresh fruit from the Farmer’s Market and muffins and prosciutto and provolone and nuts and olives and bagels and cream cheese. It was a wild success.

Mother Eileen, the Rector, kept calling me “Frankie” and I have no idea why so I spent the morning correcting people who were calling me “Frankie” and telling them my name was “Mathew.” So it goes.

My friend and I made a round last night and today of new places that have opened in Hudson. There is a place called “Or” which has opened in what used to be a body repair shop and a place that I think is called “The Back Bar” on Warren next to the food trucks and an expensive antique shop.

Hudson, anchor of Columbia County, seems to be a “happening place.” My friend and I commented on how much has happened here since we moved here; he in 1999 and me in 2001.

A squadron of geese just flew overhead. They are fewer than they used to be and I wonder why that is. Ten or twelve years ago they were everywhere and now their presence is special.

What is special is being able to sit on the deck and look out at the creek and to write and think and ponder the universe.

The world here is serene though it is not serene anywhere else.

I wonder what I can do to change the state of the world? I’m not sure. IS fights its vile war and condemns people right and left for not adhering to their fundamental views of Islam. Gays are thrown from rooftops or stoned to death, as are adulterers. Yazidi women are systemically raped and mistreated.

Egypt is becoming a country that all are frightened to go to. At least 10 percent of the Syrian population are refugees. The world is full of pain. I know it and do not know what to do about it and am deeply trouble by not knowing what I can do.

I live is a soporific spot on earth. I could turn my back on the world’s troubles but I can’t.

What to do? I ask, as I sit, looking over the peaceful Claverack Creek.