Posts Tagged ‘Saba’

Letter From Claverack 09 15 2017 Thoughts from a train…

September 15, 2017

It’s early on Friday morning and I am cruising down to the city today to have lunch with James Green, my former CEO from Sabela Media.  It’s sale to 24/7 is what resulted in my moving to New York and ultimately in my being on this train, on my way to see him.

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When I woke this morning, the cottage was being pelted by heavy rain and by the time I reached the train station the sun had broken through and there is the promise of a lovely day in front of me.

I will probably not linger in the city as I will be back again next Monday and Wednesday and today have a lot of cleaning up to do.

Cleaning up is what my friends on Saba are doing, my sister and brother-in-law in Florida, people in Georgia and South Caroline and the Keys and Cuba; everywhere touched by the wrath of Irma, following hard on the heels of Harvey, thinking of that just after texting my friend in Houston who missed Harvey and has now returned.

Figuring out what to do about the pudgy, pugnacious, paranoid, peculiar, peevish, perturbed, peculiar, pesky, piggish, perverse, pompous, potbellied, preposterous little dictator Kim Jong-Un in North Korea is becoming ever more problematic.  While I slept, he shot another missile across Japan, after the U.N. passed more sanctions against him.

Distressing, horrible and disturbing is that another bomb went off in the London subway, eighteen have been injured. Thankfully none of them seriously.  Something went wrong and it apparently didn’t fully detonate.  Thank God.

Our Tweeter in Chief, lectured the Brits and used the incident to appeal for a broader travel ban and tighter internet controls.  I didn’t see any condolences; might have missed them.  I hope they were sent.

They weren’t sent after the earthquake in Mexico that killed a hundred; that has resulted in increasing the stress in our already stressed relations with that country.  It’s a pretty deep and treacherous arroyo.

Out is space, the Cassini spacecraft has burned up in the rings of Saturn after discovering six new moons and many other discoveries, including subsurface oceans on Enceladus.  Mysteries to be solved, discovered by a mission that some scientists have worked on for nearly three decades.  At the end, they hugged, applauded and cried.

Earlier today I posted this quote on Facebook:

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.”
― Edgar D. Mitchell about looking at the earth from the moon…

And that’s what I want to say to Kim Jong-Un and the rest of the politicians.  Look at that you sons of bitches!  Look at that!

 

 

Letter From Claverack 09 05 2017 On my knees, praying…

September 6, 2017

Today, earlier, as I sat sipping morning coffee, two huge geese came crashing through a tree fallen across the creek, landing hard, splashing as they hit creek water.  It was startling.  Geese, once so abundant on my creek, have been rare these last few years.  Mature birds these, I wondered if they were from one of the many families of geese I have seen growing up while I have resided at the cottage, come home to roost for a moment.  Sailing majestically up and down for a time, they departed and I’ve not seen them again.

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Irma has become a Category 5 Hurricane and will reach Saba tonight, the Caribbean island I visited earlier this year.  Two friends from my Los Angeles days have retired there and will be facing her fury as I write this.  For a while, I got lost on Facebook to see if they had posted anything new but they hadn’t.  It’s now that time when you get on your knees and pray, which I will tonight and have not done since my very Catholic days and that was a long while ago.  And I am worried for them because Irma is as fiercer than Harvey.

Hopefully, I will know tomorrow more than I know tonight.  Tonight, they are battening down the hatches and waiting, hoping, maybe praying though I don’t think either of them are religious.  There have been posts from people I met there.  They will be in my prayers, too.

Tonight, across the country, “Dreamers” are praying because Jeff Sessions announced the end of Obama’s DACA order and Congress has six months to fix it or all those “dreamers” will begin to be deported.

Color me cynical.  How cruel can this Administration be?  Trump is playing to his base but not to the interests of the country.  Color me angry and not surprised.  So little surprises me anymore.  And there are all kinds of folks who think this is just wonderful.

And that scares me and makes me hopeful because all the rage in America is boiling to surface and maybe we will finally deal with it.  It would be good if we did because we are in a very delicate place.

Back in the day, long, long ago, I was in Canada to be in my roommate’s wedding to a Canadian woman and, as I was preparing to leave, a group of my Canadian friends did an “intervention.” They did not want me to leave. Viet Nam was in play.  They wanted me to stay, become a Canadian.

I didn’t.  Because I was an American.  It was a very profound moment in my life, making the decision to return.  Those were people I loved, who loved me and I might have been happy there – a completely different life but not unhappy.

But I am an American and so I returned, got lucky, didn’t go to Viet Nam, didn’t serve in the military and made my life here.

But here is not the here I know.  This here seems very strange to me, like the clock has been turned back and I don’t get it.  Something is afoot and we need to fix it, once and for all.  Maybe electing Trump will be the catalyst to fixing the festering wound that has damaged our national soul.

Letter From Claverack 09 04 2017

September 4, 2017

It is an excruciatingly beautiful day at the cottage, the sun is warm, a wind blows to temper it, the only sound is soft jazz in the other room.  I have just finished a late lunch of eggs, sunny side up, steak and toast, eaten on the deck.  The first leaves have begun to fall, scattered on the table top, reminding me of the fleetingness of time.

Soon we will be in another season, fall, which I love and loathe, as I always seem so alive in the fall and, at the same time, so painfully aware life is short and death is long. It’s been that way ever since I was a kid, walking down the leaf strewn streets of south Minneapolis, knowing winter was coming and being entranced by the magic in the air.

It is Labor Day, 2017.

“According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the holiday is ‘a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.’ Labor Day is a ‘yearly national tribute’ to the “contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and wellbeing of our country.          Newsweek, 9/04/2017

And it is a holiday with a bloody history.  “Labor” wasn’t always celebrated.  Suggested reading: Walter Lord’s “The Good Years.”

The summer is unofficially ending when this day becomes part of history.  When I was a kid, it meant school was starting the next day so this was a day I always endured fearfully.  Today, I am not fearful about returning to school.  There are other things…

Kim Jong-Un has me a little fearful as does having Trump be the president who is facing him.  There was some analysis this morning that the timing of Kim’s tests of bombs and missiles has more to do with tweaking President Xi of China than with President Trump.  The latest bomb test came just as Xi was greeting officials from the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China.  Took the wind out of Xi’s sails in terms of making news.  Kim does these things lately just as Xi is set to make some news.  Hey, I’m HERE, President Xi!  Got it?  I’m here and I’ve got some pretty big toys!

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has said North Korea “is begging for war.”  President Trump is saying, “All options are on the table.” This might not end well.

Down in the Caribbean sits the Dutch island of Saba, part of the Leeward Islands, which I visited in February.  Friends have retired there and are sitting directly in the path of Hurricane Irma, now a category 4 storm.  An email today said they will be in the eye of the hurricane tomorrow and were busily preparing, friends helping friends prepare for what could be a very nasty ride.  If you pray, think of them.

Michael Eros, son of my longtime friends, Mary Clare and Jim Eros, is returning to Houston today after the Burning Man Festival.  He left Houston before Harvey hit and he will now find out what it has done to his city.  He and friends built a giant figure which they burned, leaving behind the metal shell.

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Harvey will likely be the most expensive storm in history; it is believed 180 billion dollars of damage has been done.  Ted Cruz is having a hard time now explaining why he voted against Sandy help now that he is asking for Harvey help.  The phrase, “people who live in glass houses,” comes to mind.

There are joyful things happening in the world. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child.  Peggy Whitson has returned from the International Space Station, having notched more time in space than any other American.  There will be another Indiana Jones film, without Shia LeBeouf’s character.  A young girl in Harvey’s floodwaters got herself and her family rescued by asking Siri to call the Coast Guard, which rescued her as she was slipping into a sickle cell anemia crisis.

Bad things will happen.  Good things will happen.  All we need to do, to keep moving forward, is not to blow ourselves up.  I’ll pray for that.

 

 

Letter From Claverack 02 20 2017 Musings while seeking Morpheus…

February 20, 2017

My day began at 4:00 AM EST, 5:00 AM AST [Atlantic Standard Time] on the sun blessed isle of Saba where I woke, finished packing, drank some coffee and was picked up by my friends on the island and went to the airport to begin an epic journey back to Claverack.  Cars, planes, automobiles and trains.  Had them all covered today.

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Flying to St. Martin, I went on to New York and from New York went by train to Hudson, got to my car and came home.

Earlier this week, I was wide awake in the early hours of the day and now I am awake in the late hours of the night and so, instead of staring at the ceiling, decided to open the laptop and do a letter…

When I came into the drive, I realized how hard this winter has been on the gravel drive and I have some work to do in the spring to redistribute the gravel pushed aside by the snow plow.

It did feel  wonderful to pull into the drive and see the little cottage, all snug and waiting.  Coming in, I turned up the heat a bit, made myself a martini and started to unpack.  Some things I shipped home from Miami as they would have been burdensome to carry out to Saba and back.  One of them was a winter coat, keeping with me only a lighter one.  A wise choice as when I stepped off the plane in New York it was almost balmy.  It was so warm; I almost didn’t need my fleece pullover.

As I rode in the taxi to Penn Station for the train part of the trip, we were held up by road work and I contemplated the extraordinary world in which we live.

My friend, Jan, was afraid I would spend the next four years overflowing with anger at Trump.  I’m not.  I don’t have the energy for that.  Often I am bemused, disgusted, concerned, frightened, surprised, shocked. But not angry.  Not yet.

As I was driving in from JFK, I was thinking about his comment in speech yesterday about what happened in Sweden last night.  Nothing happened in Sweden last night.  Our President baffled an entire nation, wondering if there was something he knew they didn’t.  He didn’t.  It seems he conflated a Tucker Carlson interview into something that wasn’t – or something like that.

The Swedish Government asked for a clarification and President Trump tweeted that he was referring to a Fox News report about Swedes and immigration and rising crime.  But he did say “last night.”

The Swedes are wondering if his tweet was the official response they requested.  The State Department hasn’t gotten back to them.

And I wrote about Shep Smith in my last letter, the Fox News anchor of “The Majority Report” taking on the untruthfulness of President Trump.  The very thought of anyone at Fox News taking on Donald Trump brings a smile to my face.  How could it not?

Alas for them, he has also labelled them as “fake news.”  Or maybe it is alas for him?  Fox News is the media organ of choice for his base and if they are questioning him…

So, no, I am not angry.  Yet.  And I am an activist.  Our little group, Blue DOT Hudson Indivisible is now up to about two hundred members and growing.  We’re demanding accountability from our Representative in Congress, John Faso, and our Senators, Kristin Gillibrand and Charles Schumer.  Faso is Republican and Gillibrand and Schumer are Democrats.  No one is off the hook here.

It is interesting that historians are listing Obama as the 12th best President in our history.   If you’re interested in the list, look here.

Tomorrow, after all, is President’s Day.

There will be a march in DC to say “Not My President,” to let Donald know where he stands with some people.

In New York today, music mogul Russell Simons, once a longtime Trump friend, organized an “I am a Muslim, too” gathering to protest Trump’s positions on his Muslim brothers.

Friends of mine were there.  If I had been in the city, I might have been though my discomfort with crowds has grown as I have grown older.

And I am glad I have grown older.  It gives me some good perspective.  It helps me realize that while I have no children, I do have a responsibility to the next generations.  And it is interesting to accept that I have that responsibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter From Saba 02 18 2017 When Morpheus departs…

February 18, 2017

It is still pitch dark outside; a few buildings are illuminated at the foot of Mt. Scenery.  From my balcony, a cock crows in the distance, harbinger of the coming dawn.

For reasons unknown, I woke an hour ago and discovered Morpheus had fled and I was now a participant in the day, whether I wanted or not.

It’s fine.  If I am tired later there is nothing keeping me from napping.  It is my last day on Saba before I return home to the cottage.  This a rock of an island and doesn’t sport the voluptuous beaches of other Caribbean islands and I have grown, in a few days, quite fond of the place and hope I get to return this side of paradise.

Yesterday afternoon, I almost felt I lived here.  Donna, the taxi driver, took me on a tour of the island and then left me in Windward Side to do some shopping.  By the end of the tour, Donna felt like my new best friend.

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As I strolled around, Hemmie, who owns the hotel where I am staying drove by and gaily waved at me as did several people I had seen in restaurants.  Recognition deserves friendliness here.

It is almost but not quite chill this morning.

It is also probably chill in quite a few places back in America, where everyone, it seems, is talking about President Trump’s Press Conference.  One of the best takes on it is from Shep Smith on Fox News.  If interested, you can find it here.

Because I am on a spec of an island in the Caribbean with not much to do but enough that I’m not following every step of President Trump’s progress – or lack thereof, I saw only bits and pieces, most of them disturbing.

In the pre-dawn darkness, with cocks crowing the coming dawn, seated on my bed, I am thinking that I am living the Chinese curse:  may you live in interesting times.   For these are “interesting” times.

In the White House sits a man who seems disconnected from reality, incapable of telling the absolute truth, also incapable of spinning a good untruth.  The Russian questions aren’t going away until they’re answered and calling them “fake news” is only going to make more of us want to know what the “real news” is about what was going on while Trump’s folks were apparently cozying up to Russian officials.

It is disturbing to watch.

Mr. Trump proclaimed his administration is acting like “a finely oiled machine.”  Oh, please, Mr. Trump…

Ah, but here I am on the island of Saba, part of the Netherlands, which is having its own struggle with the “alt right” movement.  And that seems far away to the inhabitants of this little island which seems to want nothing more than to live in harmony with each other as best they can.

There was a murder here back in 1989 and not another one until 2015, which happened at the medical school that’s here, educating men and women who want to be doctors and who couldn’t find slots in the States.

Donna told me she’s never fearful about wandering around on the island and I haven’t locked my doors since I arrived.  There is a lock; I just haven’t used it.  I don’t feel the need.

And that’s very hygge.

Just as this moment is, sitting on my bed, typing away, feeling a little sleepy again and thinking that when I am finished, I’ll see if Morpheus will return to my side and give me an hour or two more rest.

Letter From Saba 02 16 2017 How unbelievable it is…

February 17, 2017

The North Star has been the guiding light for thousands of years for sailors and I have never seen it in more glory than I have here on Saba.  The night I arrived, I asked Hemmie, who owns the hotel where I am staying, what that bright light in the sky was and he said to me, as if I were a little thick, that’s the North Star.  It is the star that has guided sailors for millennia and I had never seen it as clearly as I have seen it here.

Saba is an island that is quiet, not much night life to offer, though at this moment I hear disco music from somewhere, floating up to me. A few dogs yelp.  The darkness surrounds me and I cannot see out to the sea.

It is wonderfully mellow.  Today I had a fair amount of work to do and I did it from the couch in my room where I could look out and see the Caribbean below me as I am high on the island.

How fortunate am I?  Very.  Another moment of seeing a place I never would have thought I’d see when I was a youngster and here I am.  Glad to be here and hoping I might come back this side of paradise.

And while I have been busy sending emails, I have also been participating in island life – a meal at Island Flavors down in The Bottom, a town named, apparently, because it was the place goods came in and were lifted up to the rest of the island – it was the bottom of the ladder.

Even here, though, there is no respite from the news at home.

Trump held a news conference to announce his new nominee for the Secretary of Labor, which turned into a bit of a free for all.  He declared he had inherited a “mess” from Obama though there aren’t statistics to support that.  He also declared his administration was a “finely oiled machine.”  I’m not sure anyone agrees with that, Republicans included.

Standing on the outside, looking at the news from both liberal and conservative points of view, it seems that the consensus is that we have an Administration that doesn’t have its act together.  Really doesn’t have its act together…

We have the Michael Flynn imbroglio… It’s not going anywhere and, in fact, I think it’s going to get messier.  The Administration’s Russian problem is not going away.  In my humble opinion, it’s going to get worse.

Today, Trump’s press conference to announce Alex Acosta as his nominee for Secretary of Labor descended into chaos.  The friends I am with on the island questioned the mental stability of President Trump who, according to them, declared how successful his first weeks in office have been.

Didn’t hear it and am not sure what he is referring to as I haven’t seen any successes.

And then I do think The Donald lives in his own reality.  Not mine but he has his.

And that’s what frightens me.

Letter From Saba 02 14 2017 Happy Valentine’s Day from a sliver of paradise…

February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  While I don’t have a specific Valentine, I do have many people to whom I would like to send Valentine’s greetings.  Consider them sent.

This is a day devoted to love.

Unless you live in Saudi Arabia where celebrating Valentine’s Day could get you into a whole lot of trouble.

When I was in grade school, we always sent everyone else in our class a Valentine’s Day card.  Years ago, I stumbled upon a cache of them and smiled at our cursive, much struggled over.  Now they don’t even teach cursive writing, which seems a shame.  Handwritten letters are such a joy to receive in this day of electronic communication.

At this minute, I am sitting on the deck outside my room at Selera Dunia, the little hotel on Saba where I am ensconced for the next few days.  It is owned by a Dutchman, Hemme, and his wife, and their raison d’être seems to be making me happy.  YES!  I’m all for that.

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It is decorated lavishly with objects they have brought back from their sojourns abroad, mostly from Indonesia but beneath me, I’m told, is a treasure trove from their time in Africa to be utilized when they add the next few rooms.

I slept wonderfully last night, my doors unlocked.  Crime has not crept onto Saba yet and may it long stay away.

Ah, but here I am, far away, in a crime free piece of Caribbean paradise while at home who knows what crimes are afoot?

Michael Flynn, the NSA Advisor to President Trump, has resigned after he seems to have had discussed our sanctions against Russia prior to the time when he should have and then misled Vice President Pence as to his actions.

MIC, a website devoted to news by millennials for millennials, wrote today that the crime, to them, in the Trump Administration seems not to be the crime itself but the crime of being caught. Is this what millennials are thinking about our government?

JFK was profoundly flawed in so many, many ways.  At least his words lifted us to some better place and inspired us.  Not so in these our Trumpian days when Stephen Miller, Senior Advisor to the President, declared there would be a time when the President’s word would be absolute.

Seth Meyer mocked him, saying it could only be more frightening if he had said it in German.  And Stephen Miller is Jewish.

So, this is what millennials are seeing:  a young man [he’s 31] saying the President’s word will be absolute.  Do call me horrified.  There are three branches of government [as Trump, to his annoyance, is finding out].

Mitch McConnell is saying it’s “highly likely” there will be an investigation of Michael Flynn’s actions.  “Highly likely?”  Mitch, oh Mitch, my low opinion of you sinks even lower.  Had you said, “Absolutely,” I might have thought you were standing on the right side of history.  And you’re not.

Thanks to Lindsey Graham and a few other Republican Senators who are working to see this is not brushed under the rug until we know the truth.

The Ethics Office has suggested it would be appropriate for Kellyanne Conway to be disciplined for her “go buy Ivanka’s stuff” moment from the White House Briefing Room.  They felt it was tantamount to a TV commercial.  Let’s see if it happens.  Personally, think it should but…

If you are a millennial, you probably know PewDiePie, a Scandinavian YouTube star with millions and millions and millions of followers.  He’s been the hottest thing on the net for a few years now, making 14.5 million dollars last year.  He has deals with Disney and others and it’s all falling down today because he made some anti-Semitic jokes in his postings and Disney and YouTube are running in the other direction.

The sun is beginning to set; the mountain across from me is sun kissed at this moment, full of deep foliage and limitless green though now the island is beginning to move into its dry season.  Water is scarce.  My friends are taking what once was a pool and making it into a cistern for grey water to help with the plants.

Tonight, we are going down the hill to a BBQ joint in the little enclave that is their town.  Hygge.  More soon.