Posts Tagged ‘Greene County’

Letter From New York 08 16 2016 A nation of immigrants, in case we don’t remember…

August 16, 2016

It has been a grey and gloomy sort of day here in Claverack; at one point the skies opened and torrents of rain slashed down.  Mostly, I have curled into my cottage and put nose to grindstone on some volunteer work I am doing for the local community radio station, WGXC.  It serves Columbia and Greene Counties and is, I have discovered, always unique, always surprising.  It is the voice of this part of the Hudson Valley and I have gone in some months from not even knowing of it to realizing I can’t fathom not having its voice.

Over a hundred volunteers keep it afloat, programming by “civilians,” which cannot help being eclectic.  From health and wellness to Broadway tunes to vinyl cuts with programmers from 13 years old to 83 years old, you have quite a mix.

So I am working to help them out and, like a good Catholic, realizing I wasn’t as good over the summer as I should have been, I am working extra hard now.

For fifteen years, I have always been a member of Amtrak Select Plus, which gives me access to their lounges.  I am in serious jeopardy of losing it this year and am plotting how to make the points to keep it.  And then I think, I am not traveling as much as I was.  Should I even worry about this?  I probably will find a way.  The Acela Club in Penn Station is my “home away from home.”

So it is a Tuesday night.  I have made myself a martini and Beatrice, my rapidly growing banana plant, and I are in the dining room, looking over the creek, a scene of grey mixed with incredible green.  Classical music plays in the background, moving from the delightful to dirge like.

All this pitter patter about my life is a way of saying I have retreated from the news a bit.  These are the dog days of August; the fall is coming upon us.  It has been special here at the cottage this week and I have not wanted to disturb the week, the peace.  I have gathered friends for get togethers.  We have all avoided politics because we are worn out by the never ending campaign of 2016, which has been going on, it seems, since before I was born.

Rudy Giuliani, who was Mayor of New York, when 9/11 happened, said in a speech today that before Obama there were no attacks by terrorists on US soil.  He has claimed it was a mistake; he MEANT to say NOT another until Obama.  But it has come out badly for him.  Excuse me, he lived through it, with me.  I was there, listening to him tell us it was going to be devastating.  How do you screw up so much, you, Mr. Giuliani, who lived through it with me?

For several minutes, I liked you.  Now I don’t.  Especially after today.  The kind of speech making mistake today makes me wonder if you are holding the thread together, Rudy.

Trump is touting that if he loses the election, it will be because it is rigged.  I fear that if he does lose, which I sincerely hope he does, there will be violence in the streets because that is what he is setting his followers up for.  And they are not pleasant people, these Trump supporters.  They seem nasty, angry [not without reason, which Hillary should speak to] and prone to violence.

I receive emails from my brother-in-law, who is definitely not a Democrat.  They are a stultifying drone on how bad Obama is.  He has not been all I hoped he’d be but no President ever is and I do believe a hundred years from now, history will be far kinder to him than my brother-in-law.

He was the first man elected President who was not “white.”  And that has elicited furor from those who never thought that could happen.  I hope he is a bridge to the future because soon, the US will no longer be “white.”  It will be the mélange of immigrants of the 20th Century, the Hmong, the Vietnamese [who were vilified in places because they were so hard working], the Asians of all stripes who outstrip “Americans” who don’t want to work harder.

We are an immigrant nation.  Hopefully, we always will be.  I am a second generation American.  I was lucky in my life, being born here, getting the education I did.  I was lucky being born in America, the son of people who had been born here because their parents had come here.

Immigration is the story of the US.

Letter From New York 10 14 15 A toxic brew in a seething cauldron…

October 14, 2015

Obama. Biden. Greene County. Indianapolis. Minneapolis. Baltimore. Syria. Russia. Putin. Assad. Refugees. Turkey. The Kurds. Al Qaeda. Saudi. Yemen.

I’m sitting here at my desk at the cottage, looking out at the drive, littered with leaves. The world around me has become a riot of color and I passed by crimson trees on my way west to an appointment on the far side of Greene County, flaming to the sky against a grey horizon.

Most of the day has been like that, grey and forlorn, right for this time of year, the time of year a year ago when I determined I would write more frequently even though I mailed the letters less. They are up on Facebook and LinkedIn and at my website, www.mathewtombers.com.

Monday evening, rather late, I returned from two weeks of traveling. Baltimore, New York, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and when I opened the door of the cottage I was flooded with relief at being home and in the safe sanctuary of the little world I have built here.

For two weeks I mostly avoided the news but it has been catching up with me in the last 48 hours, the strum und drang of the world wails on.

By the hundreds of thousands, humans are throwing themselves on the shores of Europe, fleeing ravaged homelands. Half the population of Syria is on the move, internally, externally with more and more attempting to reach Europe. The size of the movement of humans is almost incomprehensible to me.

And there is a toxic mix brewing in this horrible cauldron.

There is IS, Assad, Putin, Turkey, the US, the Kurds, the non-Al Qaeda anti-Assad forces, the Al Qaeda anti-Assad forces, the Iraqis, the Iranians, the Saudis and Yemenis and all sorts of forces and individuals leading them all wanting to defeat someone but not necessarily the same person.

Turkey is complaining we have given arms to the Syrian Kurds. We’re complaining that Russia isn’t targeting IS but forces against Assad that aren’t IS. It is nearly impossible to keep the players straight. The Russians and the US have different outcomes in mind in Syria.

And all the while that the players play, the human condition continues to deteriorate and so millions begin the long journey from somewhere hellish to somewhere less hellish.

It is hard to imagine here in my cossetted corner of the world with the leaves turning and deer roaming the street, slowly sauntering as if there was not a concern in the world.

I feel concern for the world and am struggling with the best way to address it. What does one do in a world that is coming unhinged?

Not long ago I read a great book, “The End of Your Life Book Club.” A woman in her seventies has spent her life in public service and when diagnosed with cancer was running an agency dealing with refugees. She got the diagnosis after return from a camp in Afghanistan. She and her son read and compare books while she is treated with chemo.

It inspires me. As does my brother who is off to Honduras next week to train doctors on some equipment his little organization donated to a hospital there.

Smiling out at the woods, I am hoping the sum of small good gestures will one day overwhelm the acts of evil.