Posts Tagged ‘Change’

Letter From New York December 9, 2014 Not unlike the folks at Downton Abbey

December 9, 2014

I am on the train, plowing south, toward the city. Outside there is an ice storm, making streets treacherous. Deciding caution was the better part of valor, I called a taxi to take me to the station. The Prius isn’t great when the roads are icy. Once I slid through the intersection at the end of the road, straight to the other side. I was lucky.

A kind man picked me up. Turns out he had been coached in football by my late neighbor, Hank Fonda. We talked about him for a while; the goodness I knew in him was underscored by what my driver told me: Hank had kept him out of a lot of trouble when he was young.

Tonight, there is an event in celebration of Downton Abbey at the Hudson Theater in New York; if it weren’t for the fact I had snagged a ticket, I wouldn’t be going into the city but would be cozying up to the Franklin Stove, listening to Christmas Carols and doing Christmas cards.

That’s a lot of what’s on my agenda for the next few days. I am mostly prepped for Christmas with only a few things left to order, mostly food baskets for those far and away.

It feels like a particularly well-organized Christmas this year, perhaps because I have more time on my hands than usual. I woke this morning feeling quite the country gentleman. Not sure why. Perhaps it was because the day could start lazily with good strong coffee and a perusal of the Times.

Once the things that needed doing were done, I showered, shaved and prepped for going down to town. To my great surprise, all the trains have been running on time. Often ice is worse than snow for them.

This brand of weather is likely to continue for the next few days with a break finally coming at the weekend. I’ll be doing a lot of homebound things I suspect tomorrow when I get back to Claverack, all the way through to the weekend. It’s not very safe on the roads and I think I’ll be living on what’s in the cupboards as opposed to making trips to the Price Chopper, which is about to get a new name, more upscale, better to position themselves against the behemoth down the road, Walmart.

Tonight at the Downton Abbey event will be Hugh Bonneville [Lord Grantham], the actresses who play Lady Edith and Mrs. Patmore as well as Robert Collier-Young, who plays the scheming Thomas. There will be highlights from Season Five, which is to premiere next month.

It is amazing the cult like following that has surrounded the show. I know folks who have Downton Abbey parties, expecting guests to show up as one of the characters. Each premiere episode results in many a bottle of champagne being uncorked. We seem to be fascinated by the doings of the very, very upper crust Crawleys and the adventures of the dozens of minions who care for them downstairs.

Julian Fellowes, the writer of Downton Abbey, every episode, is to be commended on the richness of his writing and his careful depiction of class differentiators in that time.

When Downton Abbey began it was 1912, the new season brings us up to 1924. It will be interesting to see how the Crawleys and their staff deal with the 1920’s and the social changes that are beginning to shift the landscape beneath them.

Perhaps that’s why the program resonates, we, too, feel the landscape changing under our feet. If you are not a digital native, the world in which we live seems confusing, with old ways rapidly evolving into the new and unfamiliar.

Perhaps nowhere has this been more evident than in the world of media, a world in which I have been a denizen for many a year. Just this morning I read a report in which network television viewing has declined 11% year over year and even more among Millennials. It is a shattering decline for the status quo.

At the same time, SVOD viewing is rising [Subscription Video On Demand (think Netflix and Hulu)] rapidly.

Television content providers, ad agencies, cable distribution companies, networks, everyone is scrambling to adjust and to survive in a future they can barely see.

Not unlike the Crawleys.

Letter From New York December 8, 2014 The reality of change

December 8, 2014

It is 5:00 PM and it is dark here in Claverack. I have turned on the spotlights that let me see the creek from the dining and living rooms. All day today I have sat at the dining room table, doing my work for the day, watching squirrels romp on the deck while the creek went swiftly by, running fast.

I did a round of outside errands today, going to the Post Office to collect my mail. There is no postal delivery on my street so we all have Post Office Boxes up at the Claverack Post Office, a small outpost of the USPS we all hope will stay open. Any time there are talks of more budget cuts for the Postal Service we fear we will lose ours. It would be a little like seeing the heart cut out of the town; most days collecting the mail you run into someone you know, have a chance to visit with them and then go your way. They even collect your parcels for you and hold them if you want.

The team that runs the office has been here since I have been here; they know me and greet me warmly when I collect the overflow from my box. It is one of the wonders of life in the town of Claverack.

We worry. The town is changing a bit. There are rumors that a plot of empty land will be sold for a development of new houses. The Claverack Market, adjacent to the Post Office, shuttered its doors for good a month ago – they just couldn’t compete with the Hannaford that opened down the road from them.

Change is inevitable. The changing though is not always easy in its happening. We get disconcerted when the anchors in our lives slip away from us in the slipstream of time.

A friend of mine is sitting with her mother as her life closes; it will be difficult as they are very close and I am sure my friend will discover a well of loneliness when her mother passes.

Any unwelcome change can open the door to that well of loneliness. The passing of a parent, a friend, a partner, the loss of a job, moving when you might not really want to move, all these things cause loneliness to rear its head and remind of us of our humanity.

In this time of transition for me, I have faced not so much loneliness but aloneness, the sense of being one person facing out to the universe, working to build a new chapter in my life. But there are moments when that aloneness, not a terrible thing, does become loneliness and I yearn for some other point in life.

It passes. But in its presence, it reminds me of my humanity, my singularity, my existential presence.

Overall, this has been a wonderful fall, a fall that lingered with us longer than it could, blessing us with good weather. Shortly, it will officially be winter.

As I write this, it is chill but not so chill I couldn’t enjoy a walk earlier in the afternoon. Tomorrow it is supposed to be blustery, with freezing rain. Sounds not too pleasant but by the weekend, milder weather will have won out.

Celtic Christmas Carols play on Pandora; I will light a fire when finished with this and begin to prep for dinner with friends joining me at the cottage. I spent the day sending electronic Christmas cards.

All things considered, I have many reasons to be grateful so as I finished my walk this afternoon and came up my drive, I spoke to the universe and articulated my gratitude.

Change is flowing through my life and I am hopeful I will have the courage to shape that change.