Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

Letter From Claverack 11 27 2018 Thanksgiving thoughts…

November 27, 2017


            This year I took on the responsibility for preparing Thanksgiving dinner, to be served at the home of my friends, Larry and Alicia, with six other guests.  After cooking for two days, I loaded all the food into the Prius and followed the most level roads from my house to Alicia’s and Larry’s home.  My menu, which I printed, is below:

Thanksgiving Dinner

November 23, 2017

Hors D’oeuvres

With cocktails, champagne and wine

Selection of cheeses & crackers


Radishes with butter and kosher salt


Pumpkin Soup a la Jacques Pepin

Main Course


Rubbed in spices


Brown bread dressing

Rice and Mushroom Dressing

Traditional Bread Dressing


Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Mashed White Potatoes

Smashed Russet Potatoes with skins


Honey Glazed Carrots

Haricot Vert with sage butter sauce

Freshly baked multigrain bread




With musical merry making in the parlor

Led by

Lionel J White

            As I was very carefully driving, with pots, pans and containers rattling in the back of my car, I was listening to NEPR, New England Public Radio, and they switched to a story of a town just outside of Damascus, under siege by Assad’s forces for two years.  Children were eating garbage and there wasn’t even much of that.

So, I drove to my friends’ home, thinking of the bounty in my car and the stark contrast there was to the scene being described in Syria.  It is days later and I am still processing that story and the contrasts in the world and, as my friend, Medora, said this morning, you probably will be until you die.

We live in a world of contrasts and contradictions.

Yesterday, as I usually do on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, I set up my Christmas tree, while listening to Christmas Carols ordered up from my Amazon Echo.  Alexa, play holiday music!



It is a world of wonder and a world of hard contrasts, of political acrimony and discord and it is just less than a month to Christmas and I am heading into this most wonderful of seasons [for me], determined to enjoy the bounty I have been given and to seriously think of how I can address the inequities that exist in my world, knowing I will be confounded by them until I die.


Letter From Claverack 07 07 2017 Musings on being home…

July 8, 2017

As I begin writing, it is twilight at the cottage.  The day began damp and grey, changing mid-day to blue and lovely.  Sitting on the deck, the torches burn to ward off mosquitoes and to give a sense of atmosphere.  It is lovely.

Of course, as soon as I typed those words, I felt the first of the raindrops and had to scutter back into the cottage.

Out there in the world, momentous things have been happening.  Trump and Putin met for the first time. Trump:  It’s an honor.  Putin: ?

It’s certain we will be hearing the parsing of the meeting for days to come.  They talked election tampering.  Putin: we didn’t.  Trump: okay. [At least according to some early reports.]  No agreement on Crimea.   Not expected.

We are to agree on a ceasefire in southwest Syria.  Good for everyone if it holds.

In Washington, Mitch McConnell faces the daunting task of passing the Republican version of healthcare legislation.  It seems to be the single most unpopular piece of legislation of the last thirty years.

Over the weekend, I listened to some interviews with people from around the country who were absolutely opposed to Obamacare and absolutely loved the ACA, not realizing they are one and the same.  It left me shaking my head in amazement and then, why should I be amazed?  We, on both sides of the fence, don’t always analyze and we just react, ideologically, and that seems to be on the increase.

In a bright moment in the world, Malala Yousafzai, a young woman targeted by terrorists, terribly wounded, and who miraculously clawed her way back, graduated from high school today.  She is also a Nobel Peace laureate. She celebrated graduation by tweeting her first tweet.

Amazing human being…

Closer to home, Etsy has cut its workforce by 15% and I wonder how that is going to affect the offices on Columbia Street in Hudson.  While that is happening, the stock has been upgraded to a buy by some brokers.

It’s interesting to me to walk down Warren Street and see all the businesses that are there that weren’t when I came and to see the ones that are still here, still pulling along.  One of my favorites is Carousel, next to the CVS on Warren.  One of my friends collects mid-century hammered aluminum pieces and I go in there and sometimes find things for her.

The Red Dot has been here since I arrived and I remember the transition of Brandow’s to Swoon Kitchen Bar.  Seems Ca’Mea has always been there since I arrived, though I am not sure about that.  That’s a little foggy.

It’s been interesting to watch all of this.  The cottage has been my home longer than any place I have lived, including the home I grew up in.  That’s sobering.  That’s rooting.  I like the sense of roots I have created here.

Yesterday, I had my car serviced at Kinderhook Toyota and ran into someone I knew.  At the Red Dot, I am always running into people I know.  Same for Ca’Mea.  It’s wonderful to go into places and be known or to know people there.

The places I’ve lived are many:  Minneapolis, Toronto, Carbondale, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Eugene, OR, New York City and now Claverack.  The places I have visited seem innumerable. They’re not but…

Of all those places, including my hometown of Minneapolis, the only place that has felt like home is here.

And I am enormously grateful for that.  It is sweet and satisfying and that is how, I think, it should be as I enter this third act of my life.

Letter From Claverack 03/02/2017 From Saba to a Trump Speech…

March 3, 2017

It has been about ten days since I’ve written; I just went back and looked.  Last time, I was on Saba, writing when I wasn’t able to sleep.  Tonight, I am back at my dining room table, floodlights on, looking out over the creek, having just returned from Coyote Flaco with Pierre, sharing chicken fajitas.

When I reached the cottage this afternoon, I felt I’d been away for a week, at least.  Monday morning, I went down to DC for some meetings for the Miller Center on the Presidency and then to New York last night to have a wonderful dinner with my friends, David and Annette Fox.  It’s a quarterly event; we gather at their marvelous UWS apartment, order Indian and catch up on our lives.

It is very hygge.  As was the dinner party I gave last Friday night for Fayal Greene, her husband, David, Ginna and Don Moore, Lionel and Pierre.  Leek soup, sautéed scallops in a brown butter sauce, and carrots in a lemony oil garlic sauce, with a baked polenta to die for, followed by a flourless chocolate cake provided by Ginna and Don, via David the baker.


It was an extraordinary evening.

And I, at least, need evenings like this to keep me sane in these extraordinary times.

On Tuesday evening, in Washington, after an early dinner with my friends Matthew and Anne, which followed drinks with my ex-partner and his now fiancé, I watched the address to Congress by our President, Donald Trump.

To the great relief of almost the entire world, he did not go off the rails and sounded presidential.  It was, Tuesday night, all about the delivery.  Wednesday morning people started to parse what he said.  Even the conservative writers that I read, and I do read some, found a lot of flaws with the speech.

Short on specifics.

Fact checkers found a lot of fault, pointing out Trump claimed as victories some things which had been in play for a year at some corporations.  Ford isn’t keeping production in the US because of Trump; they are pulling back on their Mexican plans because those plants would have built small cars and people aren’t buying them.  They’re buying gas guzzlers because gas is cheapish again.

When talking with David and Annette, I said that if Trump had not held it together last night, his presidency would have begun to unravel.  He would actually be President but, in reality, his claim to power would have begun collapsing.  Lots of people on his side of the aisle are slightly unhinged by his behavior.  McCain and Graham are frankly, I think, apoplectic.

And he held it together and while he should have been able to take a victory lap, Wednesday morning brought the revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had said in confirmation meetings he had not met with any Russians in the run-up to the election, actually had two meetings with the Russian Ambassador, one in his office on Capitol Hill.

Republicans are excusing while Democrats and some Republicans are accusing.

This is a wild ride and I’ve never seen anything like it.

Sessions has since recused himself from all investigations regarding anything Russian but there are those on both sides of the aisle who smell blood in the water.

While we were having political meltdowns, Amazon’s vaulted cloud computing world went offline yesterday for 4 hours and 17 minutes because of a typo in a command.  OOPS.

It’s a little scary.  150,000 websites were affected.  Amazon is the king of cloud storage and that’s a big oops for the King.  I would not have wanted to be the head of that division yesterday.

And, before Tuesday’s Trump speech, we had the foll der wall of the biggest Oscar mistake in history.  First “La La Land” was announced as Best Picture but it really was “Moonlight.”  Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were humiliated and PwC, the accountants, were more than humiliated.  They handed out a wrong envelope.


When it happened, I was safely in the arms of Morpheus, having strange dreams of Mike Bloomberg dating the pastor of my church, Mother Eileen.

Snap Inc. had a very successful opening on the market today; it was the biggest initial offering since Facebook and they have a rocky road to travel and they are a force to be reckoned with and it will be wonderful to see how it plays out.  The next Facebook? Or the next troubled tech company, which is where Twitter is today.

It’s time for me to say goodnight.

By hygge.  Regardless of your political persuasion, it will help us all get through.




Letter From Claverack 10 30 2016 The old clock is ticking…

October 31, 2016

As I headed north on the train, I watched mist close over the Hudson River as I drifted off to a nap after an extraordinary brunch with my friends, Mary Clare and Jim Eros, at Café Du Soleil on the Upper West Side. We laughed and giggled and ate and had a good time.

They were off to watch a flotilla of pumpkins in Central Park while I headed down to the station to head north.

It is dark now and the flood lights illuminate the creek.  The ticking of my old clock is about the only sound I can hear and I am contented after a good conference in New York.  Tomorrow is my meeting with my eye surgeon before the cataract operation a week from this coming Wednesday; I am weary of my blurry vision and am grateful I live in an age when repairs can be done to things like this.

A century ago, I would have been doomed to live with it if I had been so lucky to live this long.  My friend, the philosopher Howard Bloom, always points out that we have doubled our life expectancy in the last hundred, hundred fifty years.  A great accomplishment.

Things that would have killed us quickly have been either vanquished or we have ways of coping better than ever with what would have been life ending diseases not so very long ago.

Things like that give me some hope.

This week there were articles about robot warriors who could learn to kill using artificial intelligence, making judgments that only humans could before.  While that brings to mind images from “The Terminator,” robots are being also developed to help those who are helpless and to save human lives in other ways.  The Japanese are in the forefront of this because of their aging population.

Mary Clare and Jim split their time between Shepherdstown, WV and New York City.  They describe themselves as the new “young old.”  Both are retired and both are full of energy and life and a passion to explore the world and are an inspiration to me.

The three of us have all, to one degree or another, been tuning out the din of this the last weeks of this election cycle.  It was left to me to explain the newest twist in the Clinton email drama.  Both of them had missed it.  All of us are confused by it and are wondering why the FBI ignored the guidance of the Justice Department to not say anything so as not to appear to be influencing the election.

But it is what it is and is another twist in this most remarkable Presidential election.

Last night a truckload of manure was dumped in the parking lot of the Democratic headquarters in Ohio.  I find myself somewhere between outrage and hysterical laughter at the silliness of what is going on.  Manure?  In 2016?

As I cruised through the news today, I found an interview with Jerry Brotton, an English author, who has just published a book about Elizabeth I’s alliances with the Islamic world.  Shunned by Catholic Europe, Elizabeth I built alliances with the Shah of Persia, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and Morocco.  Fascinating.

However, in this present time the US is telling the families of workers in the US Consulate in Istanbul to leave the country.  This is combined with a warning to tourists to not travel there because of targeting by terror groups of Americans and other foreigners.

At the same time, the Turkish government has fired ten thousand civil servants and is crushing any media that disagrees with it.

I am saddened beyond words.  Fifteen years ago I was in Turkey and fell in love with Istanbul and have wanted to return.  Perhaps not or at least not now…

The old clock is ticking.  I think of it as the heart of the house.  I am content tonight and am living in the now.  Mindfulness is what I think they call it.







Letter From Claverack 10 16 2016 From a place of tranquility…

October 16, 2016

It is a beautiful afternoon in October in Claverack.  The leaves that fill my vision as I sit here on the deck are golden and some fallen ones float regally down the creek toward the pond.


It was a day when I had an enormously difficult time waking up; every time the alarm went off, I hit the snooze button.  Finally, I staggered out of bed and into the day.  Slightly ambivalent about going to church, I reminded myself of the bag of groceries I had purchased for the Food Pantry at the Church and so I made my way there, a little late but still there.


From church, I made my way to the Dot for Eggs Benedict on potato latkes.  And then home to wait for my friend Larry to arrive, bringing me some wood from his farm for my winter woodstove fires.

He and I sat on the deck after it was stacked, and admired the beauty of the place, enjoying the moment while listening to jazz.  He has now left and I am here, at the end of the afternoon, still listening to jazz and enjoying the beauty of the spot, the moment, and basking in the long friendship Larry and I have enjoyed, stretching back now more than thirty years.


It is always easy here to slip into an avoidance of the world.  This is a place of tranquility.

Beyond here – and sometimes I do not want to move beyond here – the world is a mess.

Aleppo is being pulverized and no one seems to know how to stop it.  Assad and Putin seem to have no respect or care for the citizens trapped there.  It is a strategic notch they need in their belts and so the dying continues.  Reports indicate Aleppo looks like Berlin in 1945, a decimated city.

Donald Trump has once more been skewered on Saturday Night Live, not that Hillary got off easily.  He has denounced the performance in his famous tweets.

He has increasingly been declaring that the election process is rigged.  Some observers think that if he loses he is doing his best to delegitimize a Clinton Presidency.

It is rumored that the CIA is preparing a major cyberattack against Russia for its alleged attacks on American institutions, including the Democratic Party.  This is a new kind of warfare.

And in thinking of a new world, a friend told me that every year from now on, 3% of jobs will be lost to robots.  I think I’m glad I am at the place in life I am.  It will be interesting to see how all of this shakes out.

Soon, I will let you know how my experience with Cozmo goes.  It should arrive this week.

It is supposed to learn from me how to react to me.  A robot pet of sorts, I guess, and I couldn’t resist experimenting with it.

Cozmo is my birthday present to myself.




Letter From Claverack 10 02 2016 We, of this island planet…

October 2, 2016

It is twilight outside the windows; classical music plays, a gentle piano sonata.  In the trail of grey days that we have left in our time wake, the leaves have begun to change outside.  Most are still green but yellow branches now sway with the green in the twilight wind.

It is a quiet, magical moment here in the cottage.  Marcel lays sleeping on the couch, tired after taking me on a tour of his domain across the street. I am a bit tired too, for no great reason.  Waking at a reasonable hour, I did some early morning work, showered and went off to church.

Going home, I briefly walked Marcel and went off to the gym and from there to the Red Dot for my normal Sunday brunch, visiting with all the folks I know who also frequent there.

While sitting at the Dot, I read the NY Times on the phone and perused my emails.

The world was rocked today that Trump in 1995 claimed a loss of nearly a billion dollars.  It shielded him from many taxes for the next eighteen years.  It was legal and staggering at the same time.  A billion dollars in losses in one year?  In 1995?

Badly managed businesses provided that loss, especially the catastrophe of his Atlantic City Casinos.  And it seems to me that those catastrophes kept happening over the decades.

The returns were mailed to the NY Times anonymously with a return address of Trump Tower. His campaign called the NY Times an arm of the Clinton campaign.

In another report today, a commentator reminded us that several weeks after the death of Princess Diana, Trump was on Howard Stern’s program declaring he thought he could have “nailed” the Princess.  He was apparently between wives and sent Princess Diana mountains of flowers. A few years ago, a woman who had been close to Diana said that she felt creeped out by them and a bit like she was being stalked by the American billionaire.

Barely cold in her grave, he was boasting he could have “nailed” her.  How gallant!

How disgusting.

A person very close to me sent me an email, asking me to disseminate it widely.  It was in support of Trump.  Having known this woman for eons, I wondered how she possible could be thinking I would do anything to support Trump?  Perhaps she was just tweaking me, even though she knows I know she will vote for Trump.

Columbia has been at war for over fifty years with the rebellious FARC.  A peace deal was negotiated and put to a national referendum.  It appears to have been voted down, leaving all of us to wonder if Columbia is to face another fifty years of internal war?

My sister lives in central Florida and has been wondering if Matthew [spelled with two t’s} was going to land upon them but it appears it will weaken once it has scoured Haiti, a country that can’t seem to get a break.

Another young black man was shot in Los Angeles and activists are calling for transparency.

There is no transparency or mercy, it seems, in Aleppo.  The Syrian government of Assad, supported by Russia, are pummeling Aleppo into submission, apparently deliberately targeting the resources they have to handle the bombings: hospitals.  The healing capacity of the city has been halved.

And where is the boy?  Where is the boy?

We, the US, have been warned by Russia to not target the Damascus government.

We are living on this island Earth, not really paying attention to the tectonic shifts in the eco-system while we kill each other all over the place.

It is now totally dark outside but it is not totally dark in my soul.  When I witness what is happening in the world, I also remember that for every dire act there is an act of kindness, of balance, of work to make this place, this planet, a better place.

It is why I still go to church.




Letter From Claverack 09 27 2016 Ruminating about the debate, looking over the creek…

September 27, 2016

Twilight is beginning to settle on the Hudson Valley, outside a silvery light surrounds the trees outside my window.  The trees remain mostly green, some falling, still green.  Over the weekend I listened to a report on NPR informing us that the turning of the leaves has been delayed by two weeks due to the long, hot, dry summer.  It’s fine with me; I am enjoying the illusion it is still more summery than it is.

Yesterday, I had a fire in my Franklin stove to take the edge off the chill in the cottage as I couldn’t bear the thought of turning on the heat.

Today has been a magical fall day, warm but not too warm, sunny and joyous.

It is Tuesday and therefore I taught my Public Communications class.  One of the questions I asked was, of course, who watched the Debate yesterday as it is an example of public communication with the highest of all possible stakes.  Of the twenty-one people in my class, five had watched the debate.

With the exception of one, they were millennials.  All of them found both candidates unacceptable.  And that surprised me.  Both Clinton and Trump failed to resonate with these five.  To them, Trump was a buffoon and Clinton was insincere.  They did not indicate to me which way they will vote, if they vote at all.

Last semester my students were exhausted by the campaign and turned off by it by the length and acrimoniousness of it.  And that was true today; my students, almost all of them of voting age, are bored to death with this election campaign, feeling no one is reaching out to them.

That is worrisome.

Personally, I really liked Hillary and thought she did a very decent job.  Trump started strong and then seemed to slide into exhaustion, an individual worn down and beyond really, really caring.

He did not shoot himself in the foot in the way I hoped but something was definitely off in the last part of the debate.  It seemed the helium had escaped from his balloon.

Howard Dean, once himself a potential Presidential candidate, tweeted about Trump’s sniffles during the debate, wondering if he might have used cocaine before going on.  I don’t remember sniffles but it has been retweeted across the blogosphere.  Trump said this morning there were no sniffles.

Chill Jazz plays in the background.  The silver light seems suspended over the creek, caught in a magic moment that promises it will eternally be this way…

Of course it won’t be.  Twilight will become dusk and dusk will become night.

Some weeks ago I wrote a letter that featured a photo of a little boy in Aleppo, in the back of an ambulance, traumatized, a face that haunts me tonight as the Syrian forces of Assad coupled with their Russian allies, are bombing the daylights out of Aleppo with bunker busting bombs.


All day, I have wondered if that little boy, who captured the world’s attention, is still alive?  Has he survived this new level of brutality?  The violence has become unimaginable and I feel broken for not knowing how to alleviate it.

This week I am dog sitting Marcel, the poodle of my friend Lionel, who owns the house across the street from me, my great friend I gained in the wondrous startup that was Sabela Media in the late 90’s.

He has been a magical friend to me and we have shared every Thanksgiving together since then, save two.

Marcel and I went on our afternoon walk together.  He brings me to their house and cannot understand why he cannot go home.

He enjoys me and he wants to be at home.  He is about to be sixteen and he soldiers on and I am impressed with his determination.

It is a time to be determined.  There are those who feel the future of the American experiment is on the line.  They may well be right.

What has happened in America in the last two and a half centuries has been amazing.  We have been blessed to be part of one of the most glorious experiments democracy has ever had.  We have been flawed and we have persevered.

Today I was reading all kinds of documents from Columbia Greene Community College about campus policy and I thought: we are just working to do it right.

That is the thread that has kept us going.  We are just working to do it right.  And I applaud American democracy, for it all its flaws, for trying to do it right.

Letter From Claverack 09 08 2016 A Creekside view…

September 9, 2016

Three days of grey clouds portended but did not produce rain.  Tonight, after seeing Woody Allen’s “Café Society,” I left the theater to be greeted by a soft rain falling, driving home over glistening roads.

Mixed reports had me slightly ambivalent about seeing “Café Society.”  Some said it was good.  Some said it wasn’t.  One wag commented, “It isn’t the worst Woody Allen film.”  No, it definitely wasn’t.  It wasn’t “Annie Hall” or “Manhattan” or “Bullets Over Broadway.” It was a slightly overlong, mostly charming view of a family in the late 1930’s in New York and Hollywood.  As usual, there was a pantheon of stars giving good performances including Jesse Eisenberg, Steve Carrell, Blake Lively [the first time I have liked her], Parker Posey, Corey Stoll and Kristen Stewart.

Mostly it looked beautiful and poignant and timeless and full of love gone round the wrong corner.

It was the second day of class and we’re all still alive and at least all my students seemed moderately engaged, except, perhaps, for the young woman who seemed to be fighting off falling asleep.  When I did a survey, all but three of my students are working jobs as well as attending school.  Some of them, many of them, have full time jobs as well as being full time students.  No wonder they sometimes yawn.

Out there in the world, beyond my quiet Creekside world, the strident tone of politics continues.

Last night, Matt Lauer moderated interviews, not at the same time, of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, supposedly about their views on issues related to national security.

Lauer, who, once upon a time I liked, devoted a third of Clinton’s half-hour to her email server issues.  Then, according to the news reports, didn’t handle the rest of the interview well.

It is the general consensus of the press that Lauer screwed up; was unprepared and unable to stand up to Donald Trump when he repeated he had been against the Iraq War when, in fact, he is on record of supporting it in 2002.

Alas, no TODAY for me going forward.  Shame on NBC for blowing this opportunity.  Shame on Matt Lauer for blowing his opportunity.

Depending on who you listen to, Trump is beating Clinton or Clinton is beating Trump.  The polls are rocky right now. There are only 60 or 61 days left to the election.  While I can’t conceive of it, there is a possibility Donald Trump will be President.

Libertarian Presidential nominee Gary Johnson, who has been getting close enough in the polls that he might be included in the debates, made a major gaffe the other day when he had no knowledge of Aleppo.  “What is Aleppo?”

Aleppo is the epicenter of the catastrophe that is Syria, where it has been reported Assad’s forces used chlorine gas on citizens.  There are frightful images of Syrian civilians needing oxygen.  Chlorine gas was the scourge of the WWI and now it is back in Syria.

In news of the future, Google and Chipotle are experimenting at UVA with drone delivery of burritos.  Buzzing in the sky will become normal…

In other news from the present, Apple’s stock was down 3% today after the announcement of the iPhone 7.  The no jack situation has many people [and investors] spooked.  Me too.  My iPhone 5s will not connect, for whatever reason, wirelessly with my speakers.  Everything else, easy peasy, but not from my phone.  And, in the end, I might succumb to the iPhone 7 Plus but might end up choosing the iPhone 6 Plus because it has a jack.  I have been waiting for the iPhone 7 and feel just a little cheated. Much thought ahead.

Fifteen years ago tomorrow, my now ex-partner and I made an offer on the cottage, from where I write this.  Which means that two days later we will have the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11.

It is an anniversary that always brings me back to my experience of horror on a scale I had never known.  It takes me to the corner of West Broadway and Spring Street, looking at the Towers burning and feeling stunned and knowing at that moment there was nowhere to turn.  We had just turned a page in history.


Letter From New York 08 30 2016 Headed south…

August 30, 2016

The train moves south along a placid Hudson River.  I am only forty minutes out of New York and as we pull into Croton Harmon, sailboats dot the river and bob lightly at anchor.  I am in town for two days to see friends, shoot a pilot with Howard Bloom and then to head home.  I am feeling very mellow this morning.

Relieved I know what I am going to do my first day of class, I am now plotting out the rest of the semester.

It’s been a few days since I’ve written, days that seemed more hectic than I would have expected, with more to do and with unexpected delights.

Claire and Leonard, who almost always sit in front of me in church, offered for me to come by and take vegetables and flowers from their garden.  They are off for two weeks in Greece.  I went over on Friday and harvested from their garden beans and squash, flowers and potatoes, luscious tomatoes, garlic and fresh rosemary.  As we gathered, a light rain fell and it seemed right to be in the garden just then.  For a moment I was much in touch with my body and nature.  A monarch butterfly floated by and rested on a flower near where we stood.  How rarely I see them so closely.

Lionel and Pierre came for the weekend which meant long, delightful dinners with a finish of cleansing vodka and a good “chin wag.”  It feels peaceful in my world.

The rest of the world, not so much.  IS has killed fifty plus in Yemen, a country that has seen 10,000 die in its civil war, according to the UN, a number higher than previously thought.  A suicide bomber struck the Chinese Embassy in Kyrgyzstan. 6500, sixty-five hundred, migrants have been rescued from the sea near Libya, including a pair of newborn twins.  The number staggers my mind.


Venice, it appears, is being destroyed by tourism.  In 65 years, the population has dwindled by two thirds and landmarks are lost to hotels.  The UN may take away its status as a world heritage site.

Gene Wilder, star of one of my favorite films, “Young Frankenstein,” passed away yesterday, of complications from Alzheimer’s.   It saddens me to think of his brilliance falling away, victim to the disease. Who can forget him in “The Producers?” That generation is leaving us.

Gene Wilder

Today in politics, John McCain, Marco Rubio, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz must win primaries if they are to stand in the fall for election. At this moment, while the voting goes on, all three are expected to win.

On the way to the train station, I listened to “Democracy Now” with Amy Goodman as she and others did an exegesis of the EpiPen scandal. If you somehow have missed it, EpiPen, a life saving device and drug for those with allergies, has seen its price increase 400% over the last nine years.  There is a public hue and cry about the issue.  One of the women on “Democracy Now” has seen her insurance co-pay for EpiPens swell from $50.00 to $300.00, a price she cannot afford.

There is going to be, I’m sure, a Congressional investigation.  The woman who runs Mylan, the drug company selling EpiPen, is the daughter of a Senator from West Virginia.  She is fighting the demonization of her on social media.

The train is sliding into New York, we have entered the tunnels and will soon be in Penn Station, a place called by New York’s Governor Cuomo, one of the seven levels of hell in Dante’s “Inferno.”

As I exited this “hell,” a lovely middle aged woman stood between Track’s Restaurant and McDonald’s, playing lovely classical music.  I stopped and gave her a dollar for the smile she had given me as I entered the subway.

Letter From Claverack, New York 08 23 2016 Generous souls…

August 24, 2016

It is later in the evening than I normally write; I did a roundtrip to the city today.  There were a couple of meetings and then I turned around and returned to the cottage.  It is dark.  I have turned on the floodlights so I can see the creek glitter with their light.  The trees are silhouetted by the light, green and verdant.  Nights like this are ones I love, with the floodlights giving an eerie beauty to what I see in the day.

Earlier today I had a long and good conversation with Sarah, who is my oldest friend.  We have known each other since we were three and except for one brief period have been a close part of each other’s lives.  She is one of the most loving and caring women I have known in my life and has always been that way.

In 7th grade, when Sister Jeron knocked me on the back of the head with a Gregorian Hymnal, humiliating me in front of our class, Sarah turned up that evening with one of her brothers and we went sledding down the hill by our house.  She knew I was hurting and came to help take the hurt away.  I remember that night as if it were yesterday.

Since I last wrote not much has changed in the world.  Aleppo is still a horror show.  Omran, the child in the photo, still haunts my dreams.

There are bombings hither and thither.  A Turkish wedding was destroyed by a suicide bomber who may have been no more than fourteen.  It was not the only bombing but it seems the most tragic with a child being used as a weapon.

Trump is attempting to moderate his tone and I hope it is too late.  Hillary is caught in the crossfire of the Foundation and her emails, which probably will never go away.  Even if she wins the Presidency, the Republicans will be chasing those emails and Benghazi into the next century.

The state of our politics this year is deplorable.  While discouraged, I remain hopeful that some good will come from all of this.  It must.

Out there in the wide world, North Korea has fired a missile from a submarine toward Japan.  Provocative as ever, the chubby little dictator is testing the limits of what he can get away with.

Remember the Boko Haram?  One of their leaders may have been badly wounded in a Nigerian airstrike.  I hope so.

The Iraqis are intent on reclaiming Mosul.  More than a million people will be displaced if they do it, according to estimates.  More refugees in this horrific war that never ends…

The Brits voted for Brexit and Brexiting are a large number of corporations who are moving their money out of Britain.  Not good for Britain who is going to have to do a lot of juggling with this Brexit thing…

It is late.  I am distracted.

Long ago and far away, I was friends with the Elsen family.  Don Elsen, patriarch of the clan, passed away today. He was 90, lived a good long life.  I saw him a year ago.  Unable to walk, he managed the world with a motorized wheel chair, mentally sharp as ever.

They were descendants of Germans and when I was with them, they could be screaming at each other and then burst into laughter and hug and hold each other.  It was amazing.  They were all full of love and Don was one of the most generous souls I have known in this life.

God rest.  Keep safe.  Be reunited in heaven with your beloved wife, Betty.  Your son, Jeffrey, and your brothers who went before you.

May I have such a homecoming someday.