Posts Tagged ‘Alicia Vergara’

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

Pate

Radishes with butter and kosher salt

Soup

Pumpkin Soup a la Jacques Pepin

Main Course

Turkey

Rubbed in spices

Dressings

Brown bread dressing

Rice and Mushroom Dressing

Traditional Bread Dressing

Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Mashed White Potatoes

Smashed Russet Potatoes with skins

Vegetables

Honey Glazed Carrots

Haricot Vert with sage butter sauce

Freshly baked multigrain bread

Salad

Desserts

Digestifs

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!

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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 08 06 2017 Thoughts from Sunday…

August 8, 2017

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It is a quiet night; the creek is crystal clear and a squirrel has just paraded down the deck, padding along, obviously unafraid of me.

This morning I did coffee hour at church, bringing, as I frequently do, too much food though everyone was appreciative and there should be almost enough for coffee hour next week, when I am in Minneapolis.

Returning home, I put the extra food I had in the refrigerator and then returned to have a late lunch with my friends, Larry and Alicia.  Arriving early, I wrote a poem while waiting.

 

Sun and shadow dapple road,

curving toward town where

friends await.

 

A different life now,

slow, time for noticing

the dappled road;

 

for clasping close

all kind of friends.

To stretch my brain a bit, I am working to write a poem a day.  Most days I do, not always, but most days.

Looking up, there is a canopy of green above me and nature is humming around me.  It’s amazing that in the peace of my deck there is so much noise.  Insects and birds, soft sound of water, far off the sound of trucks now and again, traversing the highway almost half a mile away.

It’s been a day when I have not listened to news or read anything until just a bit ago.  There is, you know, only so much one can take.

It is interesting that Vice President Pence is going to great lengths to deny he is making “campaign style” visits to places.  Governor Kasich is, I think.  However, it is not possible to deny that even at this early stage Republicans are beginning to look to take the place of The Donald on the stage he now holds.

The Donald is in New Jersey at one of his golf clubs in a retreat from the White House will three million dollars plus in renovations are being made.  It was just last week that President Trump is reputed to have said the place was “a dump.”

Really, I hope not too much gold is being added.

Venezuela is tottering toward dictatorship and economic collapse which will not be good for gas prices, I keep reading.

Tuesday, I am heading to Minnesota where, to my dismay, a mosque was bombed in Bloomington, the suburb in which my brother lives.  That was not “Minnesota nice.”

The world is a very strange place.  I mean really, really, strange and, you know, this has gone on forever but it just seems like somehow we should have moved beyond  so many of these things and, hopefully, we will in generations to come.

It is there I must place hope.

In this time of my life, I am being as active as I can and, at the same time, treasuring more than I ever have the wonders of my life:  an interesting life now and in my past, a creek that flows quietly by a home I think I imagined once and made reality, good friends, good dinners, times of good conversation, some travel for good reasons, a sense I have been luckier than most in keeping alive friendships from my past and carrying than into my present.

There is a tree along the creek that is always the first harbinger of fall and it is beginning to tell me fall is coming.

I’m not ready for it.  Though I will accept it as one must.

 

Letter From Claverack 01 15 2017 Bemused but not amused…

January 15, 2017

It is early evening in Claverack; the lights have been turned on over the creek and I have asked Alexa to play the “Pop Classical” station so music is filling the cottage.  It is an idyllic night after a very nice day.

Waking before the alarm this morning, I cleared my email inboxes, showered and gathered things together for the food pantry at the church.  Post church, I went to the Red Dot and then to Ca’Mea to meet Larry and Alicia and it was a pleasant country afternoon.

Against the backdrop of the pleasant country afternoon is a tension about the political scene.

One of my neighbors, who, when he met me was a bit uncomfortable with me and who has become a very good friend, asked me why the LGBTQ community was concerned about Trump.  He voted for neither Hillary or The Donald, loathing them equally.

My response was that it wasn’t so much Trump’s views on gays but the views of the people who are around him.  Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana until Friday, then Vice President of the United States, worked to enact strident laws that jeopardized the rights of gays in his state.  Jeff Sessions, who is by all accounts is a gentleman of the first order in social situations, is homophobic, anti-immigration and anti some other important things.

My friend had no idea. And was concerned when he heard this.

Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a legendary figure in the Civil Rights movement, is not attending Trump’s inauguration because he does not feel Trump in a legitimate President.  I find that unfortunate and counterproductive.

And I find unfortunate and counterproductive Donald Trump’s Twitter storm against Representative Lewis, demeaning his part in the Civil Rights movement.  The man nearly lost his life on the bridge into Selma.  To denigrate him as Trump has is unfortunate and not in keeping with someone who is about to enter the highest office in the land.

Stephen Colbert discussed “truthiness.”  Donald Trump exercised a bit of it in his depiction of Representative Lewis’ district as crime ridden.  In fact, he represents one of the most affluent areas of Atlanta.

There is a good part of me that is sitting back and watching what is happening unfold with a sense of wonder, a sense of OMG is this real?  And it is…

Every time I turn around, I am astounded by our President Elect.

His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is going to be a Senior Advisor.  Is there not something somewhere about nepotism?  Ivanka may be the de facto First Lady as Melania seems to be content to remain in Trump Tower.

Who is this person?

Andy Borowitz, comedian and raconteur, described him as the “Kremlin Employee of the Month.”

The awful thing is that he MIGHT be.

The VERY unsubstantiated report about his actions with the Russians are, at one time, very amusing and incredibly disconcerting.  It has spawned a cottage industry in defining “golden showers.”

Right now, I am sitting back and watching it unfold.  Called me bemused, call me amused, call me frightened, call me whatever you like and I think we need to go back into the early 19th century to find anything similar.

Oh, wow!

And I will continue to watch with a carefully bemused eye that is also carefully turned on to what the new President might do as he needs, more than most Presidents, to be held accountable.

Please help with that.  Please.

 

 

Letter From Claverack 11 25 2016 Thankfulness after Thanksgiving…

November 25, 2016

Outside the window, it is grey, darkish and chill.  Judy Collins is playing on my Echo [Alexa!  Play Judy Collins!  And she does.]. It is the day after Thanksgiving, the kind of day to curl up with a good book, a blanket and a fire, which I will do after finishing this missive.

My friend, Sarah, sent me something she had received from one of her dearest friends, who now lives in a Buddhist monastery.  “May you enjoy a peaceful day of gratitude for everything that is good and right in the world.”

A great thought for the day after Thanksgiving.  There is, after all, much that is not right in the world.

The list of things wrong in this world is endless.

And so, too, is the list of all the things right in the world.  When I wake in the morning, I do my best to take a moment to be grateful that I have awakened, that I live, that I am surrounded these days by the soft winter beauty that is my little patch of earth.

Yesterday, Lionel, Pierre, their dog, Marcel, and I wandered up the road to Larry and Alicia’s home, with a view down to the Hudson River.  We ate, drank, were merry, and grateful and then gathered around the baby grand piano and Lionel “bashed” out tunes to which all but me sang along.  I cannot carry a tune; sitting instead on the sofa, I listened with joy.

We stayed last night at the Keene Farm, Larry and Alicia’s guest house, a wonderful, smaller house than their home at Mill Brook Farm, which is the main residence. That is a house with its foundations in the Dutch settlers in the 1600’s, added onto in the 18th Century, restored in the 20th, added onto again in the 21st.  As we left there today, I was thinking I have what I have and I am happy with what I have, content in this third act time.

One of the things I have in this world are wonderful friends.

On Holidays, I have a tradition of texting everyone I have texted in the last year with a “Happy Thanksgiving” or a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year.”  Yesterday, my friend Jeffrey texted back he was grateful I was in his life and tears sprung to my eyes.  We’ve known each other a long time; been a constant in each other’s lives.  It felt so good to know.

Kevin, my nephew, texted me that he loved me as did my godson.  Smiles played on my lips.  Two such wonderful men; so lucky to have them in my life.

After last night’s feast, we brunched today at the Keene Farm; Lionel and I cooked while Pierre walked, Marcel sniffing around, enjoying the wonders of a new place.

The world is scary.  Terrible things are happening and I know that.  I am sourly aware that a bomb exploded yesterday in Baghdad, killing Iranian pilgrims.  In Iran, a train derailment took 43 lives.  Refugees are pawns in the political war of wills between the EU and Turkey.

And outside my window, the Claverack Creek slowly makes it way to the pond at the edge of Jim Ivory’s land, full this year of geese, after their absence for nearly five years. It feels a little order has returned to the universe.

Yesterday, a bald eagle swooped up the creek and took momentary residence on a tree limb across from my window.  Then he spread his wings wide and soared up creek, to the north, seeking I know not what.

The bald eagle, symbol of the American Republic, a troubled Republic we all know, yet I quote my great friend Jan Hummel:  we will survive this.  We survived Warren G. Harding, after all, and Grover Cleveland, who was a scoundrel of the worst sort.

Google it…

Dried, dead leaves scatter my deck, an Adirondack chair sits looking lonely over the creek, the dull grey of the skies has continued now for two days.  Now I am listening to Joan Baez, thinking back, gratefully, to those days in my youth when I first heard Judy Collins and Joan Baez.

We are all tender right now.  Being grateful for the good things in our lives will help us heal, I think.

 

 

 

Letter From New York 05 01 2016 From Church to Bin Laden…

May 2, 2016

Five years ago Osama Bin Laden, a rich kid who definitely went bad, was killed in his hiding place in Pakistan, apparently with a stash of video porn.  Born privileged, he rejected privilege and embraced fundamental Islam and wreaked havoc on the world, partly supported by his personal wealth as a scion of a family that had made a huge fortune in construction in the great oil years in Saudi Arabia.  It was said he only wore a shirt once and then discarded it.

Fast forward and Al Qaeda is in decline while its successor, IS, is on the rise.  Or is it?   Its territory has shrunk this year and there is a full on assault about to happen on Mosul, one of the chief cities it has conquered.

However, they are not a country per se and attack places like Brussels and Paris as terrifying terrorists.  The world is a crazy place, isn’t it?  Full of anger, full of hate, full of vitriol and absolutism.  I certainly hope we survive this as well as we survived the vitriol and absolutism of Nazism.  That thought gives me hope.

On Tuesday, Indiana votes.  It looks like it is going to be another Trump victory.  Some polls have hime with a 15% lead. Others have him with a smaller lead but in all polls he has a lead.  It may be a “make it or break it moment” for Ted Cruz.

And as so much of the 2016 campaign has been, this is a fraught moment.  Cruz fights for his political life and Trump sails on, turning every disadvantage into an advantage.  It has been mind boggling to watch and frightening to contemplate. 

This is where we are in politics.  And it is Ted Cruz who helped set the stage for the current scene.

Last night was the White House Correspondents Dinner and while I didn’t watch it in real time, the video clips have been good and demonstrated that Obama has a ready wit [I am sure helped by good writers].  People I know found it great fun and I will look at clips tonight, once I have finished this missive.

The days are growing longer.  It is nearly eight and there is still light and I am looking at the creek in twilight but not darkness.  I love this time of year as the world moves towards the longest day of the year. 

It is a moment of happiness.

It has been a sweet day.  There was a good dinner party last night.  My guests were Larry and Alicia.  A while ago had been his birthday and last night we celebrated it.  Today Larry and Alicia invited me to join them at Ca’Mea for lunch after church, which I did and which was great fun.

I am sitting at my dining room table and am looking out over the creek and am so grateful for this place and this time.

May you be happy in your place and time.

Letter From New York 01 31 15 How lucky are we?

January 31, 2015

The days are growing longer. It is 5 PM and there is still light and I am grateful. It lightens my sprits for the days to be growing longer. Not so long ago it was dark at this time.

It is a white world that I look out upon. There was fresh snow yesterday and we are facing yet another storm that will lay another foot upon us and may disrupt my intentions of being in the city on Monday. It is very cold outside with wind chills of minus 15.

I am just back from a long and lovely lunch with my friends Larry Divney and Alicia Vergara. Recently they were in Mexico and while scouring a flea market there Alicia found two masks to bring back to me, knowing I collect them. They are wonderful and I already know where I will hang them. Primitive and powerful, they will make a great addition to my collection.

Alicia went off before we started lunch to buy something from one of the neighboring stores. While she was gone, Larry and I chatted about how lucky we are. For one, we are above ground. That’s always a good beginning. And we are living in Columbia County, New York. It’s a great place to be and we were having a lovely lunch at Ca’Mea, one of the best restaurants in Hudson. We had a martini and then a lovely white wine with lunch. I had onion soup and pasta with a chicken ragout – tremendous.

As we chatted, I confirmed how lucky we are. After all, we could be living in Donetsk in Ukraine, where there is a constant shelling of the city and where residents are running out of the most basic supplies. Apparently, the Russians are reinforcing the dissidents with their “little green men,” Russian soldiers or “volunteers” in uniforms with no markings. Lots of tanks have crossed over from Russian into Ukraine. They are dying by the dozens there.

We could be living in a hundred places where there is no peace but we are living in Columbia County, New York where there is a great deal of peace. Surrounded by white snow with more to come, it is hard to imagine a place more tranquil than this. As I waited for Larry and Alicia, I noticed two women at the bar, eating lunch and thought how lucky we all are. There is no shelling of the city where we live. We have all kinds of reserves. All we have to worry about is a coming snowstorm. That’s a luxury. In Donetsk, a snowstorm could be the difference between life and death.

In the “Caliphate” that is ISIS, there is video out that allegedly shows a second Japanese hostage being beheaded. I wince with pain that this is happening. While denouncing all the mistakes the west has made, ISIS is creating its own path of travesties, crimes committed for reasons I do not understand.

Far from my world of snow and peace, men are trampling on the rights of others in the name of religion. Christians and Protestants did it some centuries ago and now Islam is doing it, between Shia and Sunni.

We are so lucky to live where we do. As brutal as 9/11 was – and I lived through it – the thousands upon thousands who are dying in Islamic countries, as Sunnis kill Shias and Shias kill Sunnis, dwarf the numbers killed that day.  It goes on and on and on.

And I don’t really understand why. But then that’s what Christians were doing back a few centuries ago when Catholics and Protestants were locked in brutal warfare with each other, all in the name of God.

The sun has set. The floodlight on the fountain in my yard has turned on. I will soon go to a neighbor for dinner. We are gathering for a movie night, in a neighborhood where we aren’t worried about bombings. How lucky are we?

Letter From New York 12 25 14 A wonderful Christmas…

December 26, 2014

It is Christmas Day, a morning that came almost spring like in Claverack with temperatures in the mid-50’s. I woke this morning with a list of things to do as I am cooking again. Before ten this morning, I had a roast in the oven [foolproof, says the recipe] and was making asparagus soup.

At 11:30, Nick, his partner, Beth, and their lovely daughter, Alicia, aged three, arrived for our exchange of Christmas presents. They presented me with a new tablecloth and new flannel sheets for my bed, both things I needed. They were presented with a series of gifts and I learned Beth likes perfume. I gave her some and she was ecstatic. Note to self: perfume for Beth at Christmas. Nick liked the L.L. Bean fishing vest I gave him, as he is an avid fisherman as well as the wireless speaker for his phone, which he can use in the shop when he is working.

Alicia loved her Bunny Rabbit and named him Happy Rabbit and she liked her “Frozen” comforter. The names of the characters elude me but Alicia knows and that’s all that matters.

When they left to go on to another grandparent’s home, I finished the asparagus soup and made acorn squash with butter and nutmeg. I boiled some baby new potatoes. When all was said and done, the roast was a little dry. The soup was terrific as was the squash. All in all, it was a fine Christmas Day feast, finished with pumpkin pie and French Press coffee.

A moment ago, Larry texted me they were safely home, and had had another wonderful Christmas. And it was a wonderful Christmas.

And I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

Out there, the world is doing whatever the world is doing. I am not paying attention tonight. It is quiet and peaceful and, I think, safe here and I am rejoicing in that peace and safety because not everyone has that.

There’s not much I can change in the world but if I can add a moment of peacefulness to that world, I will. It is Christmas. Let us take the spirit of Christmas into the world every month of the year and make the world a better place.