Posts Tagged ‘Behind the Bookstore’

Letter from Claverack 07 22 2017 Still in the land of off, praying for souls…

July 22, 2017

It is Saturday afternoon; I am sitting where I have been sitting every afternoon since arriving on Martha’s Vineyard, on the veranda of my friends’ home, gazing out at the harbor, listening to the sound of boats motoring.  There is almost no wind and so the sailboats, if moving at all, are using their motors.

It was early that I woke this morning, nudged into wakefulness by a text on my phone.  A second text banished sleep and I laid in bed and read the NY Times, edging into the day with the Food section.  Hard news seemed too much for the early hour.

Joining my friend, Jeffrey, we went over to Behind the Bookstore to pick up some things to take to their outpost up in Vineyard Haven where Igor made me a powerful coffee drink with a hint of lavender.  Back at BTB with some needed ice, I soothed the caffeine edge with a mimosa.

Now, I am back in my favorite spot, reading science fiction short stories before starting the mystery I purchased at Edgartown Books this morning, “Moriarity,” about which I had read good things earlier in the year.  Yesterday, I finished a trifle of a mystery just before a marathon nap.

Jeffrey calls this the “land of off.”  It is; I am very “off.” It is a comfortable house in both physical terms and the graciousness of my hosts.  As I wandered into the kitchen to make myself a sandwich, I appreciated that.

Later in the day, I looked at the news and winced.  Today’s twitter storm seemed to be all about our President telling the world that he absolutely has a right to pardon anyone he wants, including himself.

Witnessing these things results in some attitude I have yet to describe, a mélange of incoherence, amusement, fear, incredulity and amazement.  There must be a word for it somewhere.

A friend forwarded me an article today; it is a portrait of the man who is leading a prayer group that includes most of our President’s cabinet.  It seems he believes God only hears the prayers of Christians.  My friend is Jewish.  Her only comment:  Oy!

I concur.

Sean Spicer left the building yesterday, resigning after the elevation of Scaramucci to the office of White House Communications Director, a move with which Spicer had vehemently disagreed.  But he was named and Spicer left, replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  It is hoped Melissa McCarthy can do as good a job with her as she did with “Spicey.”

The NY Times published a scathing, oh, really scathing article called, “The Mooch and the Mogul.”  You can read it here.

Googling for an article that praised Scaramucci’s appointment, I found little.  The closest was this, an article in Forbes, by Nathan Vardi.  You can read that here.  It’s not that great but best to be found.  Apparently, the NY Times called him “the mooch” because that’s his nickname on Wall Street.

Meanwhile, Congress has put together a package of sanctions against Russia that our president is not going to like.  It has broad bi-partisan support.  Imagine that?!  Insiders think the president won’t veto it despite how much he dislikes it.

John Heard, the father in the “Home Alone” movies, passed away at 71, while recovering from back surgery.  R.I.P.

And R.I.P. to Jamel Dunn, a disabled Florida man who drowned while five teenage boys recorded his demise, laughing and taunting him, doing nothing to help him.  They posted the video on YouTube and didn’t bother to alert authorities.  Florida police are searching for a statue by which to charge them.

It is a story which saddens me, sickens me and causes me to wonder about my fellowman.

Tonight, I will say a prayer for Jamel Dunn and for the souls of the young men who laughed while he died and light candles next time I am in church.




Letter from New York 05 26 2016 Thoughts while overlooking Edgartown Harbor…

May 27, 2016

It is blissfully quiet this moment, except for the drone of the Harbor Patrol boat in Edgartown Harbor.  I am sitting, at this minute, on the veranda of my friends’ home overlooking that harbor.

View from the room

Yesterday, I arrived on Martha’s Vineyard.  I am here for awhile, that while yet undetermined. My friends, Jeffrey and Joyce, own the Edgartown Bookstore.  About six weeks ago, reading “All The Light We Cannot See,” a book I purchased last year at their bookstore, it occurred to me they might need some help at the beginning of the season.  So I volunteered.  And here I am.

Yesterday, I left the cottage and had a giddy thought.  If I should decide not to teach in the fall, after the Vineyard, there is no place I have to be for the rest of my life.  It was both liberating and frightening.  I felt like my head was filled with helium.  I have acknowledged, at last, I am adrift in the world and that the boundaries I am now setting are the ones of my own choosing and no one else’s.  

I took a picture of the rhododendron as I left the house.

IRhododendrens at cottage

As I also took a picture of the creek before I left.The creek on May 25th 2016

As I was sitting in my car on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, Jeffrey texted me: don’t eat!  They also own “Behind the Bookstore,” a restaurant that has a great reputation on the island.  We were treated to a tasting course of everything on the dinner menu and dinner service begins tonight.  It was all extraordinary, with the exception of the sweet pea gnocchi, which is still a work in progress.

The young chef is fresh out of Chez Panisse in Berkley, Alice Waters’ signature restaurant.

Tonight, after my first day in the bookstore, where I did my best to earn my keep, I am sipping a martini and looking at Edgartown harbor and thinking how fortunate I am to have this experience.

I am enjoying the moment.

Unbelievably but not perhaps unpredictably, Donald Trump has cinched the number of delegates he needs to be nominated.  I am appalled and don’t want to think about it.  So I am enjoying my view.

Let’s admit it.  I am scared to death if he wins the election.  Scarred to death.  He has no credible credentials to be President of the United States.  And I must decide if I will engage in this fall’s election to defeat him or stay on the sidelines and pray to all the gods in all the universes.  I suspect I will do my best to defeat him.

But Hillary!  As we were driving to “Behind The Bookstore” last night, Jeffrey said, and rightly, that there was no problem that the Clintons couldn’t make worse.

And it is so effing true.  They stumble into things and don’t claim responsibility and just manage to make things worse and worse and worse.  And the polls are showing that Hillary could lose to The Donald. 

Oh my! Lions and tigers and bears… Oh my!

I am going to focus on the moment right now.  I have to.  I am sitting on a veranda on Martha’s Vineyard, looking out on Edgartown Harbor, calm and peaceful.  The storm may be about to erupt on our heads but not tonight.  I will savor tonight because not to do so would be foolish.

Letter From A Train… 08 21 15 Of lights, meeting and trains…

August 21, 2015

It is Friday afternoon and I am on the Acela heading north from Washington, DC. Tuesday I left New York and went to Martha’s Vineyard for a quick visit to see The Grand Illumination, the lighting of the cottages in the Campground in Oak Bluffs. It was a spectacular if short visit to the Vineyard.

Arriving Tuesday afternoon, I ended up immediately going on a sail with Jeffrey and his hired mate, Tim, scudding across the harbor and out into the open waters, a good sail with a good wind. They worked; I watched. We sailed past a boat called “Infinity” which was the first super yacht launched in 2015. It was a beautiful boat, registered in the Cayman Islands and, though we tried, we could not find out who owned it, a secret well shielded.

We went into town, had dinner at Behind The Bookstore, and then headed home. I fell asleep with my Kindle in my hand, the light still on, waking at one and turning it off and drifting from there into a deep, rich sleep.

The next day was spent on the veranda, reading, looking at the stunning views and napping.

Jeffrey drove us to the Grand Illumination and while he looked for parking, Joyce and I wandered amongst the cottages, all lit with lanterns, some older than my grandparents. People sat on their porches, ready to tell you the story of their cottage.

The crowds were deep and only once did I engage with the owners, an elderly couple who bought their place in 1992. She was eighty; I have no idea how old he was. They were dressed in costume. They came from the theatre and had performed in thirty musicals together and had been married for 57 years. They were charming and worth the visit.

Yesterday morning I went with Jeffrey to the restaurant, had breakfast while he had coffee and then off to the airport.

Direct flights from the Vineyard were ruinously expensive on the return so I chose a flight that connected in DC. Alas, all flights yesterday afternoon to LGA on US Airways were cancelled because of “traffic congestion.”

I went to Baltimore, stayed with Lionel and Pierre, and had a lovely dinner with them. Today there was business in DC and now I head home.

The market is swooning, having had its worst day since 2011. There are fears the slowdown in China is worse than thought. The specter of a rate hike by the Fed hovers over the market and the price of oil has slipped beneath forty dollars a barrel, the lowest it has been since the depth of the Great Recession, signaling the world economy is slowing down.

Oh my! Not good. My portfolio is battered as I expect yours is too.

I think I mentioned in my last Letter that the site had been hacked. It’s the site for married people who want to have an affair. One of the married people who wanted to have an affair was Josh Duggar, of “19 and Counting” who has admitted to molesting his sisters and a baby sitter. The kink just goes on.

15,000 of the hacked email addresses are .gov and .edu. Why would people use their work email addresses in a situation like this? I don’t know but it causes me to wonder about the intelligence of the American public.

On a French train a man with an automatic weapon and a knife wounded passengers and was subdued by two Americans on the train. No motive is known at this point for the attack. Kudos to the Americans on the train.

Ted Cruz sparred with actress Ellen Page over LGBT issues at the Iowa State Fair. Scott Walker equivocated about whether he would meet with folks from “Blacks Lives Matter.”

Two women have qualified as Army Rangers, the first time this has happened. I don’t think they can fight with the Rangers but they have qualified and it’s a great first step. Congratulations to 1st Lt. Kristen Griest and Capt. Shaye Haver. Good job!

A male colleague described one of them as a “physical stud.” Wow!

Not a physical stud is the pudgy, petulant dictator of North Korea who has declared his state to be in a “quasi” state of war with South Korea. He is upset about a number of things. The US is staging “war games” with South Korean troops. South Korea has been blaring propaganda over loudspeakers into North Korea.   North Korea is now blaring propaganda into South Korea. If only he didn’t have nuclear weapons…

And, lastly, alas, Trump is moving from sideshow to main stage and that is a particularly harrowing statement about America in the 21st Century. Oh my…

Letter From Claverack 08 11 15 Through torrential rains to safety…

August 11, 2015

Outside my window, it is grey and daunting. I am sitting at my desk, looking out at my drive that, not so long ago, was a lake. When I woke up this morning on Martha’s Vineyard, it was raining but not hard. Jeffrey, Joyce and I went to Behind The Bookstore and I had breakfast and then Jeffrey dropped me at the ferry to Woods Hole. Still not raining badly but by the time I reached my car, I was drenched. So I pulled a dry shirt from my suitcase and changed into it before I left the parking lot.

It was a fairly quick trip home, though I had to pull over a couple of times to answer texts. When I got close to Hudson, I needed to deal with a wire transfer that hadn’t gone through and while I was doing that, the heavens opened and torrential rains came down, the kind of rain Noah must have known.

When I reached the cottage, I left my luggage in the car and made a mad dash for the door. It was may have been only ten feet but by the time I opened the door I was drenched and had to get into dry clothes for the second time today. Not long ago, the rain stopped and I was able to retrieve my luggage without drowning. The lake in my drive has receded and I think I am safe for the night. The creek is a muddy ochre color and high.

So now I sit at my desk and write tonight’s blog. It is a great desk, found in an antique store not far up from the road that is no longer there. Stenciled on the back of it is that it’s for First Class on a White Star ship. White Star was the company that owned Titanic. Obviously the desk is not from Titanic but from some cousin ship of hers. When I saw that, I knew I had to have the desk and so I have the desk. It is where I do most of my work at the cottage.

Jazz plays in the background. While driving, I found there were few radio stations in eastern Massachusetts that my radio could receive so I put in a CD of baroque music and listened to that.

Before I left Martha’s Vineyard, I did a perusal of the news and noticed that the debates left Donald Trump where he had been at 24% while Jeb Bush declined from 17% to 12%. My goodness, where is all this going?

While amazed, I am amused.

Letter From Martha’s Vineyard 08 10 15 Absolute peace vs. absolute violence…

August 10, 2015

Edgartown harbor is awash with golden light; boats are moving in both directions in front of me, to and fro, mostly using power rather than sails as the wind is light this afternoon. It’s been a lazy day; without the wind there is no sailing. I spent the morning on the veranda, reading a book, checking a few emails and taking in the breathtaking view.

Later, Jeffrey and I went down to Behind The Bookstore and had lunch, at the same time a rep was in offering wines to the restaurant. I sipped a very good Muscadet and a lovely Mont Gravet. I had a lamb burger and fries, wandering after lunch into the bookstore to pick up a copy of “All The Light You Cannot See” which had been recommended to me by my friend Neva Rae Fox.

Following that, we returned to the veranda, Jeffrey to do a bit of work and for me to write.

Tomorrow I will leave and go back to the cottage, spend a day there and then head down to the city for a couple of days. It is peaceful here; it is peaceful there.

There is not much peace elsewhere.

The one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO was marred by gunshots at the police. Responding, the police shot a man, 18-year-old Tyrone Harris, injuring him critically. He is being treated and has been charged with four counts, including assault on a police officer. Police were pelted with objects; there was another drive-by shooting and St. Louis County has declared a State of Emergency.

In Dubai, an Asian man prevented lifeguards from saving his twenty-year-old daughter when she began to drown. He felt their touch would “defile” her and he would rather her be dead than defiled. He got his way. He was arrested.

Pakistan is wracked by a child abuse scandal in a town near the Indian border. It is alleged a gang of fifteen to twenty men would force children at gunpoint or under the influence of drugs to have sex. They would take videos of them and then blackmail them and/or their families to keep them from being released. If they couldn’t pay, the children were expected to supply another child for abuse. It is estimated in the last years 280 children may have been used by this ring.

It makes me shudder. Yesterday Behind The Bookstore was crawling with children of the age of the abused in Pakistan. All that innocence destroyed.

Bombs have gone off in Afghanistan. That nation’s President blames Pakistan. Two gun-wielding women targeted the US Consulate in Istanbul; one of them was wounded and captured. In various attacks in Turkey, nine have been killed.

Miguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco, a Mexican activist, was found slain in his taxi today. He played a prominent role in the search for the 43 students who have been missing as well as others who have disappeared. There are no suspects at this time.

Two men apparently killed a man and a woman in the cookware department of an Ikea in Sweden, about 100 kilometers from Stockholm.

That’s the sort of day it has been out there in the world. It keeps on with its violence while I sit on the veranda and absorb the peace of Martha’s Vineyard. A sailboat glides by, running on its engine, towing a dingy behind it. It is picture postcard perfect here in Edgartown.

Letter From Martha’s Vineyard 08 09 15 Musings from “the land of off…”

August 9, 2015

It’s nearly 6:30 here on Martha’s Vineyard; the entire day has been grey and blustery, no chance for a good sail today. When I woke up at 7:15, seeing how grey and drear it was, I slipped back into bed and slept another ninety minutes. Jeffrey and I went to Behind The Bookstore and had breakfast, watching what seemed an endless flood of vacationers fill the place. It was a little like watching a reality television program.

The afternoon before had been spent in a long four-hour sail out beyond the harbor. Jeffrey, Tim and “Bash” [short for Sebastian] Reeve, who is the nephew of the late actor, Christopher Reeve, crewed. Bash’s girlfriend, Jane, and I were passengers.

He has all of his uncle’s good looks, is studying to be a doctor in Boston and teaches sailing during the summers. His family has a farm on the Vineyard. His aunt, Sarah Sterling, lives in Hudson, is a local politician and a slight acquaintance of mine. He described seeing the President’s helicopters fly low over the farm while on their way to depositing him on the island for his vacation.

For a while I closed my eyes and rested, thinking. When I opened them, the world appeared to me as if I was seeing it through a camera lens with a filter over it. The water looked black and the waves crested with silver; everyone on the boat seemed sepia toned. It was magical.

A rubber dingy was floating about, having come untethered from another boat. We swung round and hooked it, to drag it back to shore. Intercepted by the Shore Patrol, we were asked to release it. Jeffrey requested rum and some women for it but the Shore Patrol lacked a sense of humor. They didn’t even say thank you. It added some excitement to the afternoon.

We attended a party last night on Chappaquiddick at a house that had the most magnificent view of the sunset. Several young musicians performed and we slipped away as they were playing so that Jeff and Joyce could make a final stop at the bookstore and café.

Last night, as I have been lately, I feel asleep reading a book, with the light still on. While I was sleeping, a skunk sprayed Lettie the dog, and Joyce cleaned him up. Apparently you use a solution of baking soda, peroxide and dishwashing soap. It worked. I didn’t smell anything on Lettie when she came and snuggled up to me when I came down in the morning.

Jeffrey calls the Vineyard “the land of off.” It feels like that. I have let two days slip by without focusing much on the news of the world.

There was a poetry reading at the cafe at four; I did some shopping and Jeffrey and I returned to the house.

Since coming up to my room to write my missive, I have been pouring over the headlines to catch up on The Donald and other goings on in the world.

Donald Trump offended many by his comments about Megyn Kelly, the Fox newscaster who asked him hard questions during the debate. He tweeted later he could see the blood coming out of her eyes, ears, everywhere. Some took it to mean that he was accusing her of attacking him because she was menstruating. Nonsense, said The Donald. Unabashed as ever, he refused to apologize and said he’d be great for women.

He was excluded from a Republican gathering after that but he bashed them too, for doing that. He’s taking credit for the whopping ratings of the debate. He is, as he says, “a ratings magnet.”

Trump has even offered the job of Treasury Secretary to hedge fund billionaire Carl Icahn.

The Republican race has become all about Donald Trump, like it or not.

Frank Gifford passed away today, a Houston man is in custody, accused of killing six children and two adults, Singapore is celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence, on Friday jobs grew by 215,000 which depressed the market as Wall Street can see a rate increase clearly on the horizon.

Israel continues it crackdown on Israeli terrorists with new arrests.

And today is the seventieth anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. A memorial was held there; the Mayor and hibakusha [survivors of the bomb] used it as an opportunity to protest Prime Minister Abe’s efforts to grow the Japanese military.

The world has been ticking on while I have been sailing and resting in “the land of off.” I wish it could be as peaceful as the scene outside my window, boats joyfully dancing at anchor, the sun appearing for the first time today to cast a golden glow across the harbor.