Posts Tagged ‘Kabul’

Letter From Shepherdstown 01 01 16 Bounding into the New Year…

January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!  It is another grey day in Shepherdstown, WV, which has had nothing but a string of grey days since I arrived here almost two weeks ago.  The day, while grey exteriorly is sunny inside, surrounded by old friends.  My nephew, Kevin, is prepping to make bacon to go with waffles.  His wife, Michelle, is reading the news on her phone and I am beginning my letter while waiting for a call.

My friends, Medora Heilbron and Meryl Marshall-Daniels, and I have convened most Thursdays or Fridays for almost fifteen years to share our week’s experiences, our highs and lows and to love and support each other.  It is a gift the universe has given us and we have helped each other through a whole variety of things and have celebrated our successes and supported each other in our bumps in the road.

When one of us is traveling and the call doesn’t happen, it doesn’t feel like the week is quite right.  It’s good to be starting 2016 with a call.

I can’t quite believe it is 2016.  I never thought I would live this long but here I am, slowing moving into old age and having a better time of it than I thought I would.

My stomach bug has lifted and I woke this morning in fine fettle, eager to burst into the new year.  I texted friends to wish them Happy New Years and then came down and made coffee and read another 25 pages of my textbook.

The world, of course, is not coursing as quietly or as joyfully as my life in Shepherdstown.

A suicide bomber struck a restaurant in Kabul last night.  Five were wounded in the French restaurant, one of the few still catering to foreigners.

During New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dubai, a luxury hotel and apartment building caught fire and competed for attention with the fireworks at midnight.  Officials are investigating the cause of the fire. 12 were injured but there appear to have been no fatalities.

Wayne Rogers, “Trapper John” from the TV series “MASH” passed away last night, surrounded by family.  A much beloved star, he was also a shrewd investor and successfully managed money for a variety of clients while also acting.

Less than an hour ago, it was announced that Natalie Cole, one of the great voices of the 20th century and the daughter of the legendary Nat King Cole, passed away.  She was 65.

In a Tel Aviv pub, two were killed and four seriously injured by a gunman.  Investigators are working to determine if it was a crime or terrorism.  Isn’t terrorism a crime? Yes, I think so.

In Turkey, President Erdogan, who was Prime Minister for ten years, is seeking to change Turkey’s constitution to make the President, not the Prime Minister, the senior position.  An example he quoted:  Hitler’s Germany.  He did not elaborate.  No wonder the world thinks he may not be committed to democracy.

What I am committed to today is to enjoy feeling well, my spirits boosted by the sun breaking through the clouds and the camaraderie of friends and family.

Letter From New York 12 23 2015 Peering through the fog…

December 23, 2015

It is relatively early in the morning and I am on the train, heading to New York City, where I will board a train to DC where I will board a train to Martinsburg, WV where I will be picked up by my friends Sarah and Jim Malone for the Holidays in Shepherdstown.

As I move south, rushing now between Rhinecliff and Poughkeepsie, the fog is so dense, it is impossible to see the Hudson River to my right.  It provides an eerie atmosphere to the morning, so warm that a light jacket is all one needs.  It is supposed to be seventy in Claverack on Christmas Eve.

Yesterday, I celebrated Christmas twice.  Once with young Nick, his partner Beth, and their three year old daughter, Alicia.   It gave me great smiles and bright eyes to see a three year old devour Christmas.  Earlier I gave her a “communicator” that allows her to talk with Santa Claus each day from December 1 to Christmas.  Nick and Beth tell me she is having a blast.

Then I cooked “Christmas” dinner for Lionel, Pierre and myself, mushroom soup, salad, a roast pork loin, mashed sweet potatoes and asparagus with a butter garlic sauce.  We had no room for dessert.

All day yesterday, I pretty much ignored the world, living in the solitude of the cottage, listening to Christmas carols and prepping for dinner.  The exception was at the gym, on the treadmill where I listened to the sad story of the young woman accused in the car rampage in Las Vegas.  A troubled youth who turned her life around and then…Las Vegas.  People are attempting to understand.

Then there was a long exegesis of the Middle East with Wolf Blitzer, the CNN perennial, and a Congressman and retired General, that left me feeling depressed.

The Congressman predicted that we will be engaged there for decades and the retired General opined our efforts are inadequate.  The Congressman wants more bombing, forget the civilians.  They are the necessary sacrifices to move the needle.  It underscored for me that “W” let the genie out of the bottle and he’s never going back in.

The Afghans have the best army they have had in years but corruption in Kabul is keeping them from getting bullets.

The Iraqis are fighting to retake Ramadi and have sent more troops in to help in the effort to hand IS its biggest defeat in two years.

The Donald keeps marching forward in the polls, up to 39% at this point, twice Ted Cruz’s standing and, according to recent polls, the Republicans are beginning to accept that Trump will be their standard bearer.  What?  Is this really happening?  Can’t I change the channel?

I lightened my mood a bit by reading the wild adventures of Madame Claude, arguably the most famous brothel owner in Paris’ history.  Her clients included most of the great names of the ’60’s and ’70’s.  She died in France at the venerable age of 92. 

The fog is still thick as we begin the last leg into New York, having just pulled out of Croton Harmon.  There are forty minutes left before we hit the city.  At noon I will board an Acela for the next leg.

Behind me there is a woman who has been on the phone now, non-stop, for well over an hour.  Occasionally when she needs to do something, she puts her caller on speakerphone.  I didn’t realize anyone talks on the phone that way anymore just like I can’t believe the Republican Party is thinking Trump is the hope for 2016.