Posts Tagged ‘Columbia County New York’

Letter From Claverack 09 06 2016

September 7, 2016

The day painted itself grey this morning, from the moment light crept into my bedroom, it was grey, the kind of day that promises rain and provides none, save a few drops when I was running an errand on Warren Street.

Fresh from what I thought was a successful first day in the classroom, I stopped at the Post Office and picked up my mail and sat on my deck, opening it, and just staring out at the day.  The air was lightly water touched by not too much.  But for the grey, it was a perfect sort of day.

At the college, I talked with one of my colleagues for whom there is terminal election fatigue.  She knows for whom she is voting, nothing in the shouting is going to change her position and so she feels no need to participate more.  It simply makes her crazy.

As it has for many people in this oddest of election seasons.  A few months ago, a commentator I was listening to said something like:  Who knows?  It’s 2016.

And that remains true.  It’s the wild and wooly 2016, an election season they will be talking about as long as politics is discussed, which is a very long time.  We are still discussing the politics of the Athenian democracy 2500 years later.  Countless tomes have been written about the Romans, their Republic and their Empire.  A thousand years from now some crepe skinned academic will be dissecting one small sliver of this campaign in a form of media we probably can’t conceive of but it will be happening.

Me?  I generally wake up happy and go to bed happy and know there is only so much I can do to shape events but what I can do, I do.

Tonight, I am writing earlier than I did last night and the verdant green in its grey frame fills my window.

Directly in front of me are two Adirondack chairs made for me by John McCormick, father of my oldest friend, Sarah.  He had made some for his daughter, Mary Clare, for her home in West Virginia.  When I bought the cottage, he asked me if he could make anything for it.  Adirondack chairs I said and there they are, in front of me, a wonderful bonding to a man now gone and a testament to all he and his family mean to me.

In this calm and quiet, I feel celebratory to have made it alive through the first day of class.  As I was preparing to head over to the college, I played music that pleased me, from the Great American Songbook.  Tonight there is no music.  The only sound is the ticking of an old clock that has been in my family for more than 125 years.  I think of it as the heart of the house.  But it drives some people crazy.  It just makes me smile.

The EpiPen conversation goes on.  Some say it actually costs only $30.00; some say it’s only about a dollar that goes into the actual medicine.

Isabelle Dinoire, the world’s first face transplant recipient has died, aged 49.  She was transplanted when her face was mauled by a dog.  RIP.

Obama cancelled a visit with the Philippines President after he called Obama “the son of a whore.”  Later President Duarte regretted his comment.

There was an incident when Obama arrived in China.  No one seemed to have agreed upon the protocol.  Everyone looked bad.

Kim Jung Un, the little paunchy, pudgy dictator of North Korea, celebrated Labor Day by sending off ballistic missiles that landed within 300 kilometers of Japan.  No one is happy except for the pudgy dictator who is now facing a new set of sanctions which he doesn’t care about.  He will let millions die because of them as long as he keeps his power, his toys and the instability he creates.

One can only imagine what this man’s childhood was like…

Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift have broken up after three months. This is HUGE news.  OMG!

Fox has settled with Gretchen Carlson in her lawsuit with them and Roger Ailes.  Twenty million dollars.  At the same time Greta Van Susteren has left the network under cloudy circumstances but then what is not cloudy in the world of Fox News these days?

And now it is dark.  I will turn on my floodlights and enjoy the creek at night.

It is a good day.  I survived the first day of a new class and felt good about it.

Today I woke up happy and I go to bed tonight happy.  May all of you who read me do the same.




Letter From Columbia County 09 09 15 Thinking about life, ruminating on its joys…

September 9, 2015

It is getting dark as I sit here on my deck, there are still some small glimmers of light off the creek and the sky to the east is pearl grey. A wind has come up in the last few minutes, a bit of blessed relief after a day when it hit 95 degrees with humidity nearly as high.

It has been a gentle day, spent here at the cottage and in its environs. I woke late for me; the alarm went off and I continued to hit the snooze alarm, up until the moment the plumber arrived. He will come on Friday and replace the device that increases my water pressure. Until then, I am to use as little water as possible. I feel a bit like a pioneer.

A few weeks ago I went to an event for the Hudson Library that was a joint venture of DISH, a relatively new store in town on lower Warren Street and the wonderful Olde Hudson, run by my friend Dena. At the event, I spotted something that would make a wonderful Christmas present for my friend, Nick. I returned today to buy it as well as other things that went into the armoire that is in the guest bedroom. In it I place gifts that I have collected throughout the year for Christmas giving.

After dropping shirts at the cleaners, I went to Lowes for some cleaning supplies I hadn’t found at the grocery store yesterday. Summer is gone; Halloween is here. I was met at the entrance by all sorts of Halloween supplies. At CVS there were displays of Halloween candy. The year is moving on.

Relish, my favorite little sandwich joint, has just moved to their winter hours, closing an hour earlier than before. Winter hours? It’s 95 degrees out there! But yes, the world is moving on. Summer is unofficially over.

As I mentioned yesterday, a few leaves have begun to turn. Acorns are falling all around me. One hit the ancient metal chair to my right and scared me.

I am relishing sitting here on the deck, with the wind blowing, all too aware that the days that I can do that are now numbered. So I am doing the best to enjoy it. After the plumber left this morning, I was out here, reading the Times, sipping my coffee. It was a most pleasant way to start the day.

Now it is getting dark and I am here ending the day, sipping a martini and thinking about life.

The Week is one of my favorite magazines and I read in it an essay by Oliver Sacks, the doctor who wrote “Awakenings,” made into a movie starring the late, great Robin Williams. He wrote as he was dying; it was filled with the sense of wonder of having been alive, of having made his own unique journey through this thing called life, a mystery that we often fail to appreciate. As he was dying, he viewed his life as a rich experience and prepared to go gently into that good night.

Now that I am entering what is the third and final act of my life, I hope that I can face the reality of my own inevitable death with the same awareness that Oliver Sacks did, appreciating that he had been alive.

In the last year, I have learned such lessons of gratitude. That I am alive this day, that I have the resources to survive this day, that my health is good, that I can see and breathe and resonate with the world and give something to it.

My friend, Medora Heilbron, mentioned last week in our weekly call that she does her best to leave in her wake, goodness and gratitude, shown in courtesy to clerks and strangers and the people she loves. I work to do the same.

I do my best to remember the names and the faces of the people who I interact with, such as Heather and Dana at Relish and the cab driver I met yesterday. I do my best to be easy for people who have to interact with the public because so many people don’t make it easy.

Night falls. I am joyful. I hope you are too.

Letter From New York 07 25 15 Thoughts on a Saturday afternoon…

July 25, 2015

It has been a resolutely beautiful day in Columbia County. I awoke late this morning, having been up late, cleaning up after a dinner party. Thursday night some friends were going to come for dinner and cancelled. I had food that would have rotted and so I called other friends and invited them for dinner Friday evening.

Serving a chilled avocado soup, followed by a salad, then a grilled chicken breast with sautéed heirloom carrots and potatoes, along with some dreadful sugar snap peas I managed to destroy, it was a dinner much enjoyed [except for the sugar snap peas]. Dessert was ice cream with chocolate sauce; it felt very summery and right.

I have always enjoyed having people for dinner and last night was a testament to that. It was mostly good food with great company, good wine and sparkling conversation. I went to sleep with a bit of a glow.

Awaking this morning, the sun was already fairly high in the sky but it was neither hot nor humid today. At this moment, I am sitting on my deck, looking over the creek, and thinking of how wonderful it is that I am in this spot.

The sun is now hidden behind clouds but it does not prevent the birds from singing or the frogs from leaping. This morning I found one on the side of the house; they are everywhere right now and I’m grateful.

Far away, I can hear traffic on 23, moving to and from the Massachusetts border. The green of the trees is luscious. All seems right in the world.

All, of course, is not right in the world. While it seems far away, it isn’t really. Events keep happening that keep shaping our world. Some of them are for the good and some for the bad. It is interesting to figure out which is which.

Obama was in Kenya today, homeland of his father, and spoke out for gay rights, which caused a very tense moment between him and the President of Kenya, Kenyatta. Kenyatta thought it was a non-issue and Obama did not. There has been a crackdown on gays in Kenya and it’s apparently not very pretty. Tomorrow Obama will meet with some of gay leaders in Kenya. Kenyatta is not happy.

But good for Obama! Yes, good for him.

Donald Trump’s campaign keeps trucking along. Right now he is mired in a bit of controversy as he has formed a group called “Veterans for Trump,” though some of the veterans named claim they have so idea how they got on the list. He is being accused of hiring actors to cheer for him. Gosh, it sounds a lot like ancient Roman politics.

He made a visit to Laredo, Texas and I was surprised in reading the reports from there how many agreed with him, including some of Hispanic origin. He is tapping into a vein of American discomfort and is doing well by it.

Duke, the Great Dane, whose family lives next door, just wandered onto my property. Two years ago he had been given two months to live by his vet. But he’s still here, seemingly having a good time. We’ve begun to think of him as indestructible. He just keeps going on…

The sun is setting, the green is fulsome; the creek glitters with the fading light. I find myself astonished at my luck in having this place to sit and write. A small plane flies overhead, flying south from Columbia County Airport. These are country sounds and moments.

I’ll be having more of them, suspecting that some time in the not too distant future I will be here full time. Sitting on the deck on day this week, I realized that I didn’t care that much about the life I’ve had though am interested in finding out what life I will have.

I’ve been here long enough to note the changes. Rosemary Schneider has passed away and her cottage torn down and rebuilt from the slab up. Harry Fonda has passed away and his wife is now in assisted care facility up near Albany and her daughter; new people live in their house. Lionel and Pierre bought their house across the street from long time residents I didn’t know well.

Time keeps changing things. I am treasuring this moment when time seems eternal. The creek reflects the light. The small plane flies south. I hear someone cutting their grass. It is a perfect evening on a summer night in Columbia County.