Posts Tagged ‘Party’

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.

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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.

 

Tale of Two Towns: Living the Great Recession, July 10, 2009

July 11, 2009

A Tale of Two Towns
Living in The Great Recession

July 10, 2009

For those who follow closely, you will have noticed there was no missive last week; it was the 4th of July weekend, there were masses of papers to be sorted through for work and there just wasn’t time for everything. It was a quiet 4th; the holiday night was spent with a friend at Tannery Pond, listening to exquisite chamber music where the fireworks were aural rather than visual. Particularly wonderful were several Beethoven from the early 19th Century. Following, at home, I continued the path of solitary thinking that has been part of my spring and summer – assessing life – mine and the world in which I find myself living.

It is an interesting time, the one in which we are living. The economic malaise has now become an ongoing reality of our lives; it is more a chronic illness than a transitory one. As I write this it is a weeknight and I am at the cottage – a rare thing now for weekdays – but our train crowd gave a “furlough” party for our friend Ty West who works on a PBS Production. Donations and corporate support are at a nadir so it has become incumbent on their survival to furlough employees and it is Ty’s time. He is, being the man he is, taking the difficulty with good grace and understanding. I suspect it is not easy for him; it would not be for me.

His story is one of many that I know; pullbacks are everywhere. The friends who went down with the LPD bankruptcy are all still “on the beach” looking for the next thing, which is elusive. It underscores the grace under which I have been living – a fact that plays into the contemplative state in which I have been living since that shutdown.

On the party train tonight one of the “regular” passengers who joined our celebration was a young stock analyst from one of the boutique firms that inhabit “Wall Street.” As I tended bar [my task on train parties (for each one I must come up with a theme drink, tonight’s was the “Furlough Tini” a mixture of vodka, lemonade, crème de Framboise and crème de cassis, producing a concoction that had shades of pink [pink slip] but wasn’t quite, hence: furlough – an unpaid absence from a job with the opportunity to return and a clear indication of a sad economic reality], this young man opined that the market was headed lower and that at the end of the day it would all be better in some future we aspire to. It made for poignant conversation regarding depleted portfolios, delayed retirements and returns to work from retirement by men such as his father.

We are living in a poignant time. On many levels, individuals live as they always have though comprises are everywhere. Retirees return to the work place, home buying is deferred, roommates are taken in, purchases and vacations deferred or downsized, friendships matter more and values are reevaluated. Friendships feel more potent; what are we without people, people who love us.

In this current economic crisis, the most profound since the Great Depression, we are all in trouble. Yet our trouble is still quite modest compared with much of the world – the world in which 60 to 70 % of its population must walk three hours to find fresh water. It does put it all in perspective, doesn’t it? When I got off the train tonight I left behind three sinks full of ice, unused, melting into oblivion and completely normal for the western world in which we live. It was the young stock analyst who pointed out to me that the majority of the world is desperate for what we take for granted – still.

What gnaws at many of us is that there may soon come a day when we can’t take for granted the ice we’ve paid for melting casually in any kind of sink… Everyone I know senses some new day ahead of us. While unsure what that day may be, more people seem anxious than eager while also suspecting it might just be a time with sounder values.