Posts Tagged ‘AIDS’

Letter From Claverack 12 19 2016 What we need is a little Christmas…

December 20, 2016

A few hours ago, I asked Alexa to play the Holiday Station from Amazon Prime and Christmas carols have been floating through the house since then.  The lights are illuminating the creek and I have sat down, at last, to write a letter.  The last one was nine days ago, which is unusual for me.  Normally, I write every two or three days.

The frenzy of prepping for Christmas has given me ample excuses to not think about the world…

Two Christmas trees grace the cottage; one small real one, bedecked with as many ornaments as it bear and an artificial white tree, which has been my tradition for years now.

The first Christmas after my partner left, I went to the lot where we had purchased our trees and found myself paralyzed, not wanting to get out of the car and so I didn’t.  Decorating our trees had always been a big thing and I couldn’t imagine how to get through that Christmas.

So I did the unthinkable; I went to Walmart and bought a pre-lit white Christmas tree which was the silliest thing I could think of doing and it made my Christmas.  It was so silly, I laughed, which was what I needed to do that year.  And a personal tradition was born…

A white Christmas tree adorned with all the ornaments that matter.  There are a few from my mother, one White House ornament given to me by Buddy, who helped decorate the actual White House Christmas tree.  He is gone, lost to AIDS before anything could be done and I have the ornament he gave me and it has a place of pride every year.

There are the wonderful crystal ornaments Lionel and Pierre have given me the last few years, two Christopher Radko ornaments from when I was on the Board of Governors for the TV Academy, ornaments I purchased the first year I was working at Discovery – that was an animal themed Christmas.


In the last twenty-four hours, I have made 16 quiches.  It has been my tradition for the last some years to bake quiches for my friends and neighbors and there are still a few more to be made but I have made most of them and will spend some of tomorrow delivering them.

My kitchen is not quite a catastrophe…

All of this is part of my life and a welcome distraction.

Today, Donald Trump’s election to the Presidency was ratified by the Electoral College, a fact I am still having a hard time getting my head around, which is why I seem to especially devoted to the Food Section of the New York Times.

At least twelve are dead as a result of lorry crashing into a Christmas market in Berlin.

The Russian Ambassador to Turkey was shot dead today in Ankara.

Aleppo is a catastrophe we grieve but seem to have no way to respond to and I still wonder about the boy in the photograph from months ago.  He will haunt me to the day I die.  Is he safe?

It seems I may never rest until I know and I may never know but I keep seeing that photo…

And as Christmas approaches, I am so grateful to be here, in the cottage, decorated as best I could for this most wonderful holiday, listening to Christmas music…

The world is always in trouble and it will continue to be that way.  And I will work to find ways to feel like I am helping the world not be in as much trouble as it is.  Maybe I will succeed, a little bit…




Letter From New York 10 23 15 From looking Presidential to Hurricane Patricia

October 23, 2015

Shakespeare. Relish. Benghazi. Hillary Clinton. Rep. Jim Jordan. Trey Gowdy. Fox News. Jeb Bush. Donald Trump. Ben Carson. Iowa. Politics. Paul Ryan. Tea Party Republicans. Obamacare. Assault with a carrot. AIDS. Turing Pharmaceuticals. Imprimis Pharmaceuticals. China rate cut. Pakistan bombing. Kurd hostages. Nigerian mosque killings. Hurricane Patricia. The Red Dot. Lionel White.

Outside it is a brilliant, perfect fall day, demanding a warm jacket but not necessarily needing to be zipped, a clear blue sky filled with sunlight that ricochets off the golden leaves. Turning a corner this morning near a pond, my breath was taken away by beauty; sun glinting off water and multi-colored leaves, all ablaze.

My friend Lionel is up from Baltimore, tending to his house across the street from mine. We had lunch together at Relish before doing errands after having lazy coffee moments this morning while he helped get my printer back online.

I have been having a time with my electronics this past week. Ah well, everything now seems back in working shape. As Shakespeare said: alls well that ends well.

Not perhaps ending well for the Republicans, probably much to their chagrin, was the eleven-hour grilling of Hillary Clinton on Benghazi. Today’s reports have been mostly favorable to the former Secretary of State and not very kind to the Republicans on the Committee.

It never looks very good when angry white men spend eleven hours yelling at a woman, and one who maintains composure when they do not. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio looked particularly bad, followed close behind by the Chairman, Trey Gowdy. One source said all that happened was that for eleven hours Hillary Clinton managed to look presidential while the Republicans didn’t even look Congressional.

And even Fox News had to acknowledge she did a pretty good job, which must mean she must have been spectacular.

In other political news, Jeb Bush is cutting his campaign spending and concentrating on early voting states. In Iowa, Ben Carson is leading Donald Trump, partly because he is evangelical and Trump is not.

With two more Republican groups signaling their support, Paul Ryan has agreed to run to serve as the next Speaker of the House but that doesn’t mean he is making Tea Party Republicans happy. He isn’t meeting their demands. One of which, according to The NY Times, translates, once stripped of arcane language, to: shut down the government.

Ah, Washington! That’s the place where Congress just voted to gut Obamacare, a move that will likely stall in the Senate.

A 14-year-old Virginia schoolgirl is facing assault and battery charges for throwing and hitting in the forehead her teacher, with a carrot. It is the center of much back and forth on the Internet.

AIDS is a devastating disease. Many of us lost friends and relatives to it in the 1980’s and 90’s. Then came drugs that did not cure but did extend lives and allowed people to live productive lives. It has become a disease that is not curable but is treatable.

Turing Pharmaceuticals sells one of those drugs, Daraprim. Recently, it jacked the price from less than $14.00 a pill to $750.00 a pill. A San Diego firm is going to offer an alternative to Daraprim for $1.00 a pill. You go, Imprimis!

The stock market soared today as China unexpectedly cut interest rates again, the sixth time in less than a year. The European Central Bank is thinking about another cut and The Fed probably won’t raise interest rates until early 2016.

Lest we forget, fighting continues all over the Mideast. An American soldier died in a raid to rescue Kurdish hostages in Iraq. Syria is still fighting. 22 Shiites died in Pakistan in a bombing while over in Nigeria, 42 were killed at mosques by suicide bombers.

The biggest hurricane ever, Hurricane Patricia, is about to hit western Mexico, right around the resort city of Puerto Vallarta. Tens of thousands are being evacuated. Its effects will be felt all the way into Texas, where flooding is expected.

The sun is setting and I am shortly off to The Red Dot for dinner with Lionel, where we expect to meet some friends. There is a pink tinge to the sky so that harbors well for tomorrow’s weather. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight…”

Letter From New York July 11 2010

July 11, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

Who has been able to miss the endless replays of Lindsay Lohan breaking down in court as she was sentenced to three months of jail time plus three months of rehab? This train wreck has been happening for a time but only really broke through to my world when her sentencing became “breaking news,” causing me a moment of bemusement as certainly her sentencing to 90 days jail time didn’t strike me as “breaking news” worthy but, hey, I am not an editor trying to get ratings while living as we do in a celebrity fueled culture.

I suspect there is going to be some culture shock for the ten Russian spies –oh wait, excuse me, unregistered agents for a foreign government – who are now in Russia after a spy swap on the tarmac in Vienna in a scene worthy of a decent spy novel. Ten of theirs for four of ours. This has been going on for twelve days. New York tabloids have been smitten with one, Anna Chapman. Ready made for tabloid fodder, she is a beautiful red head looking as if she could have been cast as a Bond girl. With a taste for the high life, a fixation about bedding the sons of Princess Diana and an ex-husband who sold racy pictures of her to the papers as well as salacious stories of their sex life, she was front-page tabloid fare if ever there was. The NY Post trumpeted we should keep her when news of the swap leaked out. We didn’t; she’s in Moscow though I suspect we haven’t heard the last of her. She had “stardust” as far as the tabloids were concerned.

Both governments played the swap in a very low key fashion; relations are getting better between us and them; no one seemed in the mood to let a little old fashioned espionage get in the way of thawing the chilliness that had come during the Bush years. When looking at pictures of the American plane in Vienna I wondered who was Vision Airlines? Apparently an airline used by the U.S. for special trips like this – or for renditions, of which they have been suspected.

There are no suspicions about this being a dangerous world. Suicide bombers have been striking in Iraq and Pakistan. I found myself staring for a long time at a photo in the Financial Times of a father in Iraq carrying his dead infant son. It is a scene repeated too often in that part of the world.

The Gulf states are repeating a Day of Prayer this Sunday; it may be there is some good news in the offing. BP is starting a new effort to cap the well and if everything goes well this could actually contain the flow. I am sure nearly everyone will be praying that all goes well. The oil spill now covers an area about the size of Belgium. Oh, heck, Belgium is just a tiny country…

Not far from the real Belgium, new technology literally had its moment in the sun when the Solar Impulse, a plane powered entirely by the sun, flew for twenty-six hours over Switzerland, safely landing at dawn after having flown all night on stored energy. It is a glimmer of energy hope.

On the medical horizon there has also been a glimmer of hope; some advances have been announced this week in the search for an HIV vaccine, a disease that still ravages even as we have grown better at extending the life of its victims.

A friend of mine told me she no longer reads the papers because the news is so grim. Though grim it is, there are those glimmers that lift our hearts like the solar plane soaring or a small movement towards stopping a disease that has killed millions, including my friend Richard Easthouse, who I still miss and am haunted by the desecration the disease worked on his body.

So the news cycle clicks on; a mixture of good and bad, of things that give hope and provide despair.