Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

Letter From Claverack 08 06 2017 Thoughts from Sunday…

August 8, 2017

IMG_2062

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 05 07 2017 It was a dark and stormy night…

May 7, 2017

“It was a dark and stormy night,” is the much-parodied opening line of Bulwer-Lytton’s novel, “Paul Clifford.”  But it was a dark and stormy night Friday night in Columbia County; wind whipped, too.  Around 4 in the afternoon, the wind blew out the power as I was running errands to prep for a dinner party I was giving that evening.

Knowing that National Grid might not meet their expectation that power would return by 5:30, I made a quick detour and bought a dozen candles.  It was a wise investment; power only returned at about four on Saturday.  There were a half dozen of us, who dined, bathed by candlelight, looking our best.  In her later years, Madame du Pompadour only allowed herself to be seen by candlelight.  She was wise.

Martinis were ready in a pitcher and we toasted our decision not to cancel dinner.  We managed to not discuss politics [an increasingly difficult thing to avoid]; we laughed and since there was no background music, it was the sound of our voices which danced through the night.  It seemed as if we were in the first half of the 19th century or doing glamourous glamping in our own time.

We made the evening work.  It was magic.

When I woke Saturday, a tree from the opposite bank had fallen into the creek and the morning air thrummed with the sounds of neighbors’ generators as there was no power.  Out of habit, I asked Alexa for the weather and was met by stony silence.  We were cut off.  From each other.

IMG_1779

Eventually, I did my morning errands.  The Post Office lot was crowded with folks discussing what they had suffered during the night and driving into town, one home had lost five trees.  Farther down, a great old pine had been uprooted, never to again be adorned by Christmas lights.

The Farmer’s Market was sparsely populated by vendors, most probably at home dealing with the storm’s effects.  I realized there was little I could buy as it might all go bad before power returned.  National Grid was estimating now that it would be about midnight on Saturday.

In an interesting way today, when I was at the Post Office, looking around at the klatches of men talking, and it was all men, I felt I was looking at a scene in “Midsomer Murders,” a British mystery series that started in 1997 and is still going.  The village was gathering at the Post Office to talk about the storm.

It made me feel like I was a part of a community.  A little like the community Jessica Fletcher had in “Murder, She Wrote.” Except we’re not in Maine and we don’t have as much death as Jessica encountered in her little town in Maine.

With my batteries now exhausted on all my toys, I ensconced myself at the far end of the bar at the Red Dot, close to an outlet, and charged my laptop and phone.  And had superb Eggs Benedict on potato latkes with a side of American bacon.  Totally, totally decadent.  If in Hudson on a weekend day, indulge yourself.  The Red Dot’s Mark makes the most succulent Eggs Benedict this side of paradise and, at this point in life, I have had a bunch.  And when I am on the other side, I want to know I can order his up whenever I want.  Please God.

Do you notice how I am avoiding anything substantive?

Sometimes you just have to do that.  Give yourself a little breathing space in all the craziness.

Because it is crazy out there.

It is just unbelievable to me.  Whenever I look at the news, I just go:  WTF.

So, I have taken a moment to not worry.  To celebrate my life and the joys I experience on a daily basis, knowing I must return to the dialogue soon.

 

Letter From Miami 02 12 2017 Hygge while traveling

February 12, 2017

Around me, I am listening to a mélange of English, Spanish, Italian, French and German.

I am not in Claverack, NY but on the veranda of my hotel in Miami Beach, a cloudy morning having given way to clear blue skies with a gentle breeze blowing off the beach a short block away, sipping my third very good cappuccino of the day.

Waking just after seven, I have spent most of my morning here.  First, a light breakfast with my friend Nick Stuart, before he left for what is now a rainy New York, later, reading the New York Times on my new iPhone 7 Plus, much easier than on my old 5s.

Reading the news is a bemusing event these days.  It may just be me but it seems the Administrative Branch of our government is in disarray while the Legislative Branch appears as if it’s a group of old white men braying their success at owning the joint with the Judicial Branch holding the center of sanity.

There is a young man named Stephen Miller who is a Trumpian True Believer, architect of the Travel Ban and, before this, on the staff of Senator Jeff Sessions.  Previously known for his avalanches of ideological emails to fellow Congressional staffers, he is now close to and closely listened to by President Trump.  He is 31 and shaping policy.  We must watch him as he will be influential in the coming months, whatever your political persuasion.

Apparently, his secretive nature was part of the reason the Travel Ban wasn’t thoroughly vetted.

He made the rounds of the Sunday morning shows trumpeting the ways Trump will combat the unanimous decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to refuse to reinstate the ban.

When George Stephanopoulos asked him about the report that Michael Flynn discussed sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador before Flynn was sworn in as White House national security adviser, he had nothing to say, not having been given anything to say by the White House.

On NBC, Miller couldn’t comment on whether the President still had confidence in Flynn.  He also continues to assert there was mass voter fraud, causing Trump to lose the popular vote.  Saying so, doesn’t make it so, Mr. Miller.  If it is true, please show some evidence.  He states facts without proof, a great “gas lighting” technique.

Steve Bannon, Lord Vizier, is being scrutinized for a 2014 speech he gave at a Vatican Conference in which he referenced Julius Evola, darling of Italian Fascists.  It also appears Bannon, who is Catholic, is shimmying up to a group of Vatican insiders who believe Pope Francis is destroying the Church.

Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to President Trump, was herself “counseled” per Press Secretary Spicer because she encouraged people to go out and buy “Ivanka’s stuff,” from the White House Briefing Room. That crosses an ethical line, most people agree.  Perhaps not the President, who was unhappy with Spicer’s choice of the word “counselled.”

The Office of Government Ethics had its website melt down with complaints.

Ivanka has had her line dropped from Nordstrom’s because it was underperforming, which elicited a scolding tweet from the President, and then Nordstrom’s found its stock jumping 5%.

Apparently, Ivanka and Kellyanne have had words:  Kellyanne, don’t mention me or my products on television!

Poor Spicer.  He’s lost face with the President because Melissa McCarthy portrayed him on a SNL skit; the program is having its highest ratings in twenty years as a certain element in the country breathlessly waits for its next Trump skewer, though last night’s skit with Kellyanne Conway doing a “Fatal Attraction” on Jake Tapper caused me to grimace but SNL isn’t always known for its taste.

It is with unconscious competence I have chosen to be away now.  Claverack was pummeled with 12 inches of snow with another twelve about to batter it.  Hopefully, it will be over by the time I return.

Last night, I attended my friends’ party for the fifth anniversary of their art gallery, Williams – McCall, in South Beach.  Their chef was last seen providing the food for the Patriots at the Super Bowl.

So right now, I am going to finish this, do a bit more culling of emails and then head to the beach for a bit of sunbathing.  While I am not at home, this is traveling hygge.

 

Letter From New York 01 14 16 Oscars, reunions and bombs…

January 14, 2016

The sun has set and I’m freshly home from a haircut which means I’m a little itchy around the neck.  A fire burns in the stove and jazz plays in the background.  Lights illuminate the creek and I have made myself a martini to sip while writing.  I spent three hours today volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of Columbia County, helping clean up their database.

The stock market didn’t swoon again today, which is good news for almost everyone I know.  It was up 1.41% after falling 2+% yesterday.  I was at the gym yesterday on the treadmill, watching CNN.  They were tracking the market by the minute, which was too depressing to watch while on the treadmill.  So I watched an ancient Kay Francis film on TCM.

It was great to escape into a world where you knew it would all come out right in the end.

Which is what we don’t know about the life we’re living now.  It could go in any direction and we have no way of knowing what that direction might be.

And that, my friends, is why I treasure evenings like this at the cottage.  For a moment, the world seems on hold, even as I am assimilating events from the day.

In Jakarta, IS claims responsibility for multiple explosions in the capital.  At least seven are dead and there is concern that Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim State, which has a secular government, is going to be under fresh attack after several years of calm.

In brighter news, at least three people can claim a piece of the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot though others may surface. 

And today the Oscar nominees were announced.  “Revenant” with Leonardo di Caprio leads the pack with twelve nominations.  Also up there is “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Not long ago an industry insider wondered why they were even mounting a campaign.  Today provided the reason why.

Alan Rickman passed away today.  He played Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films. I saw him live in a relatively obscure Ibsen play, “John Gabriel Borkman” at BAM five years ago and he was electrifying.  His characters were mostly cold and sinister, very different from the man portrayed in the memorials today.

As I type there is another Republican debate beginning.  Politics is becoming reality TV in more ways than just having The Donald dancing on the scene.  Whose idea was it to have all these debates so far in advance of the election?  I want it over already!  Really!  What did my students used to say?  Gag me with a spoon?

There are two iconic television series I have never seen a complete episode of, much to the amazement of my friends.  One of them is “Seinfeld” and the other is “Friends.”  There will be a sort of reunion of the “Friends” cast in the February tribute to James Burrows who created the program.  Matthew Perry may or may not be there as he will be in London for rehearsals of a play.

My martini is finished.  The fire is playful.  The jazz is beautiful.  I am going to sign off and watch the newest episode of “Sherlock” and then head off to bed.  Have to be up early in the morning for phone calls and meetings.

It’s been a lovely day.  Hope yours was too.

Letter From New York June 5, 2009

June 5, 2009

This week’s letter is not the usual letter; it’s abbreviated and has only one go through by me. Usually I sit down on the weekend and write a draft which gets honed over a couple of days and then gets out on Tuesday evenings.

Last weekend, my brother Joe came for a visit and we had a wonderful New York weekend: dinner on Friday with my friend Gary, Saturday a leisurely brunch at a little slice of Britain, Tea and Sympathy, a restaurant that could have been transported from any British village to the West Village of NYC, followed by a leisurely stroll past Ground Zero, which is now mostly a construction site and which is still a magnet for people who want to come and see where the future we’re now living was born. We spent part of the afternoon on the sundeck of my apartment building, having eschewed the country for the delights of the pagan city and then went to a long, leisurely dinner at Café Luxembourg before seeing an Off-Broadway play starring Tracy Thoms, daughter of my good friend Donald Thoms. She is one of the stars of CBS’s COLD CASE.

Sunday late morning he left and I became involved in some impromptu business meetings between shopping and catching TERMINATOR SALVATION. Between all that and keeping up with the email stream there really wasn’t time for a rough draft, Monday was chock a block with meetings and on Tuesday evening I had dinner scheduled with my friends Annette and David Fox. It seemed more important to have dinner with them than to put my fingers to the keyboard. In a sobering time, and it is a sobering time in which we are living, it is better to take time to connect with other living beings than to labor over the computer.

General Motors has gone bankrupt… It is almost unimaginable — and would have been when I was a child. “What is good for General Motors is good for the country,” was a phrase famously said by one of its CEOs. Well, if that’s true, bankruptcy would be good for the country and there are those who are concerned that we might just go the way Argentina did a decade ago. The Chinese Economic Minister is busy lobbying behind the scenes for a new reserve currency, afraid the American dollar will cease to be effective. He’s getting some good listening to by others who have the same fear. It’s a bit self-serving, of course, as China sees this as a time when the Yuan can find itself in the position of the dollar in the foreseeable future as China works to make the 21st Century the Chinese Century.

It was sobering that an Air France Airbus went down – anyone who flies with any regularity has been on an Airbus and they have had a sterling record. This particular plane disintegrated over the Atlantic, reasons unknown though today it is being speculated that the plane may have suffered a computer glitch that cascaded into tragedy. Computers! The blessing and the bane of our time. Everything is being computer automated which is lovely when it works and possibly catastrophic when it doesn’t. Yet we could not return to the pre-computer world – without these machines we couldn’t handle the velocity we have created with them.

It has felt in the last few weeks that I’ve been living under the tyranny of emails – the volume has become ridiculous; 300 a day is not uncommon. When friends ask me what I read in my spare time I jokingly respond: my emails. It’s not a joke and I haven’t learned yet how to get through it all and I must or soon it will seem I have no life beyond my Mac. The volume and velocity is becoming almost terrifying. So, on Tuesday evening, when normally I would be getting out my LETTER FROM NEW YORK, I took a deep breath and went to visit friends. Let’s all do that this week – visit with someone and get our faces off the computer screen.