Posts Tagged ‘Ca’Mea’

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 June 30th, 2017 Beginning the weekend of the 4th…

July 1, 2017

At some point, I decided this was the year I was going to get over my fear of grilling.  Last night, I grilled a steak using a Bobby Flay recipe.  And asparagus on the grill: c’est magnifique!  Put the spears in a plastic bag with olive oil, salt, pepper, a couple other spices and grilled them for three minutes on high.  I’m hooked.


So today I went to the market and got boneless pork chops and was going to broil them about half an hour ago but thunder rattled the house and rain fell from the skies.  My mouth turned down.  However, the sun has returned and I am going to try it, pork chops on the grill.

It is Friday, June 30th, as I write, the beginning of the long 4th of July weekend.  As I ran an errand near the train station, I saw visitors piling off the train, bags in hand, being greeted by friends, relatives, lovers and others.  Zagat, today, sent an email which had an article about 8 reasons to take the drive to Hudson; all of them being restaurants.

You can read the article here.

As someone who is here most of the time now, I took a bit of umbrage with the list.  It included Grazin’, a diner restaurant with local beef and I will need to give it another try because when I was there, it wasn’t good and the wine was south of awful.

It included Fish & Game, which is, I’ve heard, a good restaurant and I haven’t been there because it opened with an attitude.  I’ve been around the carousel too many times to need attitude.  [Hey, once I had “my table” at Ma Maison in Los Angeles, which was cool while it lasted.]

It included, deservedly, Swoon Kitchen Bar.  I don’t go there often; my ex left me for one of the waiters there; that has weighed on me ever since but it is great.

It did not include, and I think it should have, my beloved Red Dot, which is one of the hubs of Hudson nor did it include Ca’Mea, which I think should have gotten a mention nor Vico, which has upped its game lately.

We are a food town.

And now, in a break in the rain, I did grill but not the pork chops I bought as most of the recipes for grilling told me I should brine the chops and that takes some time so I grilled some sausage and finished my asparagus.  Oh, so good.

Beyond my little world, it has been a bit mad.

Our President has created a twitter storm over his tweets about Mika Brzezinski’s “bleeding face lift.”

Even Paul Ryan found it too much.

Several news sources, including conservative ones, thought maybe he should have been in a meeting rather than tweeting.  But no, President Trump was tweeting and creating a painful moment for his party.

And, today, NASA had to issue a statement it was not operating a slave state on Mars; it was NOT sending children there to be body parts for future colonists, a claim made by a guest on “The Alex Jones Show,” which airs on 118 radio stations.  Alex Jones is most famous for claiming that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged and was interviewed by Megyn Kelly on her new NBC show, which isn’t doing so well.

As I sit here in my very hygge cottage, I am astounded by what is going on out there.  We have a President who seems devoted to Twitter attacks more than he is about governing and who, according to a variety of reports, starts his day at 6:30 AM speaking to lawyers about that pesky Russian matter.

And he is going to meet with Putin at the G 20 Conference and has been asking his advisors what he can offer Vladimir Putin.  What?

There are times I feel I am living in an alternative universe.  And I know I am not the only one.

So, doesn’t it make sense I want to conquer my fear of grilling?  That’s concrete in a world that seems spinning out of control.







Letter From Claverack 11 21 2016 Join me on the barricades, please…

November 22, 2016

It is November 21st.

Three days after my birthday, a time of extraordinary celebration.  Starting on the night of the 17th, I had dinner with my friends Annette & David Fox.  Leaving them, I connected with my friend Robert Murray and I kept him company while he ate at Thai Market.  Feeling frisky, we followed that by a stopover at Buceo, a Wine Bar on 95th Street.  Things got a little hazy about then.

And that was okay.

The following day, I took the train north and met my friend Larry Divney and his friend, Mark, at Ca’Mea for a birthday lunch.  Then dinner with Lionel and Pierre.

Saturday, I spent the day doing my best to respond personally to everyone who had wished me “Happy Birthday” on Facebook or in emails.  I am still doing that.

It was great.  It was wonderful.  It was a great and lovely distraction in this most confusing time.

Donald Trump, billionaire reality TV star, is the President Elect.

My friend, Pierre, husband to Lionel White, more than best friend said it was [and he is right] that it’s a little bit like we’re Italy and we have elected Silvio Berlusconi as President.

For days, I have done my best to adjust to this.

Over the weekend, for my birthday celebrations, people entered the evening doing their best not to talk politics but that lasted maybe five minutes. How can you not talk politics at this moment?  Once people realized they were in a “safe” place there were revelatory expressions of emotions…

In whatever way you want to think about it, there has been a major shift in American politics.  What I saw this weekend was a beginning of a counter-revolution, a sudden and decisive movement by the left to become a “loyal opposition.”

For years, they/we have felt we had the moral high ground and that was just whisked away from us.  So who are we?

We are faced with the rightfully disenfranchised who voted to place Trump in office. [Let us make note that he did not win the POPULAR vote.]  He won the Electoral College vote, an arcane system I haven’t really thought about since I studied it in high school civics and so I need to understand it better as TWICE in this short century, a President has been elected who won the popular vote but did not win the Electoral College.

As I said, I need to study this but it seems the Electoral College was weighted to help slave states be reasonably represented.  So much to relearn… Or learn for the first time!

We are entering a decisive time and, I think, everyone call feel it.  Politics in this country will never be the same.

Nor should it.  A registered Independent, I am resolutely Liberal and now I have found I must actively fight for the liberal ideals in which I believe.

Join me on the barricades!







Letter From New York 07 12 15 All about being here…

July 13, 2015

Sitting by the window near the desk I usually write from when I am at the cottage, the sun is a golden orb slowing sinking in the west, casting a soft light across the drive. The little fountain in the center of the drive is gurgling and soon a spotlight will come on to illume it during the dark hours.

My friends Annette and David Fox came up yesterday and we lunched at Terrapin in Rhinebeck and then went to T Space for a look at an exhibit of architectural models and paintings by Jose Oubrerie. The space, about fifty acres of land all told, is a combination art gallery, sculpture garden, relaxation and performance space.

Steven Holl, an architect who is very big in China, put it all together. His brother [I believe his name is Jim] is also an artist of note.

At 4:30 there was a reading of a powerful poem called “First House” written on commission for the evening by a poet whose name I missed, for which I am very sorry.

As he was reciting the poem, captivating us because it was wonderful, the frogs in the pond began to croak. When he reached the line “animalize the sounds” the frogs reached a crescendo and the audience erupted with applause and laughter.

David said, and I agreed, it was one of the best poems we had found recently.

Annette told me that the crowd would probably be the “demimonde” of Columbia and Dutchess Counties. There were artists and other architects. Jonathan Gould, who wrote “Can’t Buy Me Love,” a serious tome on The Beatles, was there. There was man named Peter that I spent part of last New Year’s Eve with; he designs photo shoots for major magazines.

It has been a sweet and pleasant weekend. Annette and David spent the night. We had dinner at Ca’Mea with Jeanette Fintz and Jack Solomon, artists of note who are married to each other. Annette and David have a gallery in New York. Jeanette has exhibited there. I believe Jack has also but I am not absolutely sure. I missed a beat.

This morning we went to Ruby’s in Freehold, across the river from me. There is an exhibition of both their works there. Jack’s works were abstracts of tremendous nuance. Jeanette’s work, from her “Thai Period,” is stunning.

We went to their home and adjacent studio; saw new things they are working on, different from what was at Ruby’s. It was incredibly interesting to spend time with people who have made their living from their art. I’m very grateful.

David and Annette went back to New York. I went to the Dot for a bowl of potato leek soup, helping out a little with New York Times Crossword puzzle, which is a Sunday event at the Dot.

Warren Street, the town’s main drag, is changing. Walking up Warren Street I saw new businesses I have missed. Anderson Realty, Patisserie Lenox, as well as others, all new, a changing face of the town, which, in time, will resemble Provincetown more than the Hamptons.

A soft night is descending on me. There was a high of 92 degrees but we were blessed by low humidity. The sun has slipped beneath the horizon. We are now in the soft grey of a summer evening, light enough you don’t need a flashlight but dark enough you are glad you hadn’t waited a moment longer.

It has been a weekend very focused on being here, being alive, being in the Hudson Valley, enjoying a vibrant art scene, a wonderful nightlife. Last night at Ca’Mea I was amazed at how many people I knew. All interesting characters…

Letter From New York 05 24 15 Remembering 9/11

May 24, 2015

The sun is beginning to set in the Hudson Valley, after a brilliant day that was perfect, the sky is now grey with the portends of rain that are indicated for tomorrow.

I have had a wonderful day. I woke early, read the NY Times and then went down to Christ Church in Hudson for their Sunday service. It is Pentecost, with lots of incense and circumstance.

There is a family that often sits in front of me. A mother, father, daughter, grandchild, usually there in the pew in front of mine. I noticed today that the father was on crutches. I was going to ask him what had happened when I realized his right leg had been amputated below the knee. It was far more serious than I had realized. And while I know them from their often being in the pew in front of me, I didn’t think I knew them well enough to ask what had happened.

I am a frequent attender of services at Christ Church but not quite a member of their community.

From there I went to the Red Dot for lunch,; Eggs Benedict on potato latkes. It was, as always, exquisite. I went from there to Ca’Mea, where I greeted my good friend Larry Divney and then went to my friend James Linkin’s house. We sat and chatted and came back to the cottage and sat and watched the creek flow by; the neighbor’s dogs plunged joyfully into the creek.

Since the dogs have arrived, the deer have gone. I miss the deer. They are afraid of the dogs.

Susan, Jim’s wife, came to join us and I made martinis for us. They went off to have dinner at Vico, a restaurant on Warren Street in Hudson.

I am not sure how we got on the subject but it seemed appropriate for Memorial Day. We began to talk about where we were on 9/11.

Susan had just flown in the night before from Europe. Jim was working. I was up, prepping for a conference call with Brazil. When I was in the shower, I felt something and thought: if I were in California I would think we had just had a small earthquake.

It was, of course, the first plane hitting the first building.

It felt right, this Memorial Day, to be remembering that day. The day when the world changed.

Everything has been different since then. We have a Department of Homeland Security. We have Iraq, the never-ending story. We have IS. We have huge debts. We have so much that it boggles the mind.

The world changed. Forever. I don’t know whether it was for good or bad but the world has changed forever. I suspect not for the good but history will tell.

Letter From New York 04 19 15 At the end of a weather glorious weekend…

April 19, 2015

The weekend is winding down in Claverack and it’s been good. Dinner at the Red Dot with my friend Paul, his daughter, Karen, and her fiancé, Andrew on Friday, followed by yesterday’s lovely lunch with Jack Myers, which itself was followed by an evening of glorious violin and piano music. Yevgeny Kutik was on the violin; Dina Vainshtein on the piano. It was two hours of music by luminaries such as Prokofiev as well as lesser lights such as Cesar Franck. Everyone in the audience was appreciative of the music coaxed from their instruments.

In the afterglow of the concert I went for a cocktail at Ca’Mea where I ran into a couple of people I knew as well as a lady who had, too, just been to the concert. We both liked the Prokofiev the best.

Then I wandered home and curled up with a few more episodes of “The Unbeatable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix, binge watching until later than I should have.

Morning brought church with a good sermon by Mother Eileen and a quick bite to eat before getting paint samples for the living room. It’s looking stale and so it’s time for a change.

Walking around the circle, I listened to the news on my iPhone, off my Newsbeat app, and soaked in part of what has been a weather glorious weekend.

While it is perhaps antediluvian of me, I still have an AOL email account. I have had one since something like 1992. Can’t read any messages for the last two days. Every time I try to open an email, I get a technical error message. And their help desk is pretty thin unless you pay the monthly charges, which I quit doing years ago. So I’m a little frustrated.

Frustrated, too, is the gentleman who flew a gyrocopter onto the Capital lawn, resulting in a full security review. Doug Hughes wanted to raise awareness about the need for campaign finance reform. He brought with him 535 letters, one for each member of Congress. Instead of focusing on the message he was carrying, news media have been focusing on his security breach.   He is unhappy his campaign reform message has been lost in the din.

In another Mediterranean tragedy, another boat capsized north of Libya with perhaps as many as 950 on board, with hundreds said to have been locked in the hold and unable to escape. So far only 28 survivors and 24 bodies have been recovered. If the numbers hold, this will have been the worst single tragedy for refugees seeking a better life in Europe. 3,500 died last year attempting to make it from Africa to Italy or Malta.

Many of these refugees, including the ones on the capsized boat, are setting out from the Libyan coast. On that very coast, a new video has been released purportedly showing IS members beheading 16 Ethiopian Christians while footage later in the video captures IS shooting 12 more Ethiopian Christians in the back of the head out in the desert.

The ugliness of absolutism beats on.

It is also raising concerns about IS finding a good foothold in Libya, not all that far from the Italian coast.

Back in India, Rahul Gandhi, heir apparent to the Congress Party, has returned from a two month “sabbatical” and is locked with current Prime Minister Modi in a battle of words to proclaim how “pro-poor” each one is.

In Yemen, the Houthis mock suggestions they will surrender under the air barrage led by Saudi Arabia. In Iraq, the Kurds have pushed IS out of an oil refinery and have broadened the buffer zone around Kirkuk, an oil rich city. Iran is seemingly determined to make it as difficult as possible to get a deal done by June 30, a deal being made even more difficult by Putin selling missiles to Iran. With western sanctions, Russia needs the cash.

Needing to perhaps hit a restart button is the Director of the FBI, James Comey, who published a piece in the Washington Post that suggested that Poland and Hungary helped the Nazis during WWII, quietly complicit in what was going on. Poland was not amused. The US Ambassador was summoned this afternoon for an apology.

Unapologetically, the sun is beginning to set and the day is fading to grey. I have a few tasks to do around the house and then I am going to curl up with a good book or may be a few more episodes of “The Unbeatable Kimmy Schmidt.”

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 20 14 Christmas is happening…

December 20, 2014

It’s been a pleasant day in Claverack.

I woke early and went down to the Farmer’s Market. I’ve developed a passion for the Sea Salt and Onion cashews offered by one of the vendors there. Last week they were already sold out of them by the time I arrived so I wanted to be sure I got my fair share today. The market is now closed until the first weekend of February. I was successful, nabbing three containers, enough to last until they reopen. I ordered pies for Christmas from David, the pie guy. He’ll deliver them on Christmas Eve morn.

After collecting my mail, I went down to the Red Dot for a bite to eat, visiting with Alana, who is the proprietress of the best joint in Hudson. Finishing that, I went home and met Nick, who keeps the house humming and we did our Saturday chores.

Returning to town, I met my friends Larry and Alicia at Ca’Mea for a Saturday lunch and we organized our Christmas plans.

As a cord cutter, I don’t have cable so I didn’t see the last episode of The Colbert Report. Larry did and it was nostalgic for him. He was President of Comedy Central when it launched. He suggested I look for it online as the best moments are immortalized there.

It appears I will be hosting Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and hosting a cocktail party on Boxing Day, December 26th. I will be cooking until I am cross-eyed.

But I love it. I love the hustle bustle of the Holidays and love having folks to the cottage. I am working on my menus right now. What I’ll have Christmas Eve and what I’ll have on Christmas Day and what will be the appetizers I serve on Boxing Day. I thrive on entertaining.

Tomorrow I will be grocery shopping for the annual Christmas Quiches I make as gifts for my neighbors. Monday will be devoted to making them and Tuesday to delivering them. It’s something I’ve done for the last ten years and is part of the Christmas tradition of Claverack Cottage.

The world is settling down for the Holidays. Obama has gone off to Hawaii. I’ve curled up at the cottage. The trains are packed with people beginning their Christmas Holidays and I’m glad I got here early on Friday. Every train going north on Friday was sold out with holiday revelers finding their way to where they were going.

Once upon a time I did research for a trio of Hollywood writers, way back in the days when I first arrived in Los Angeles. So a bit of Hollywood trivia: today is the anniversary of the premiere of “Flying Down to Rio” the first Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film. Who knew? Now you do.

It’s that kind of day, a day for fun facts and trivia. The world is a mess but let’s today focus on the fun things today. Christmas is a few days away.

The cafes and restaurants of Hudson were deserted today as I am sure every store and mall was jammed with folks doing their last minute, desperate Christmas shopping.

While the restaurants were empty, there wasn’t a parking spot available on Warren Street, the main drag of Hudson. I’m sure the shops were jammed. We’re in the countdown.

I have a couple of things to wrap but I’m done. It feels good.

It all feels good, this Christmas time. Let the world for a few days swirl away without my thinking too much about it.

Christmas is happening.