Posts Tagged ‘Walmart’

Letter From Claverack 12 19 2016 What we need is a little Christmas…

December 20, 2016

A few hours ago, I asked Alexa to play the Holiday Station from Amazon Prime and Christmas carols have been floating through the house since then.  The lights are illuminating the creek and I have sat down, at last, to write a letter.  The last one was nine days ago, which is unusual for me.  Normally, I write every two or three days.

The frenzy of prepping for Christmas has given me ample excuses to not think about the world…

Two Christmas trees grace the cottage; one small real one, bedecked with as many ornaments as it bear and an artificial white tree, which has been my tradition for years now.

The first Christmas after my partner left, I went to the lot where we had purchased our trees and found myself paralyzed, not wanting to get out of the car and so I didn’t.  Decorating our trees had always been a big thing and I couldn’t imagine how to get through that Christmas.

So I did the unthinkable; I went to Walmart and bought a pre-lit white Christmas tree which was the silliest thing I could think of doing and it made my Christmas.  It was so silly, I laughed, which was what I needed to do that year.  And a personal tradition was born…

A white Christmas tree adorned with all the ornaments that matter.  There are a few from my mother, one White House ornament given to me by Buddy, who helped decorate the actual White House Christmas tree.  He is gone, lost to AIDS before anything could be done and I have the ornament he gave me and it has a place of pride every year.

There are the wonderful crystal ornaments Lionel and Pierre have given me the last few years, two Christopher Radko ornaments from when I was on the Board of Governors for the TV Academy, ornaments I purchased the first year I was working at Discovery – that was an animal themed Christmas.


In the last twenty-four hours, I have made 16 quiches.  It has been my tradition for the last some years to bake quiches for my friends and neighbors and there are still a few more to be made but I have made most of them and will spend some of tomorrow delivering them.

My kitchen is not quite a catastrophe…

All of this is part of my life and a welcome distraction.

Today, Donald Trump’s election to the Presidency was ratified by the Electoral College, a fact I am still having a hard time getting my head around, which is why I seem to especially devoted to the Food Section of the New York Times.

At least twelve are dead as a result of lorry crashing into a Christmas market in Berlin.

The Russian Ambassador to Turkey was shot dead today in Ankara.

Aleppo is a catastrophe we grieve but seem to have no way to respond to and I still wonder about the boy in the photograph from months ago.  He will haunt me to the day I die.  Is he safe?

It seems I may never rest until I know and I may never know but I keep seeing that photo…

And as Christmas approaches, I am so grateful to be here, in the cottage, decorated as best I could for this most wonderful holiday, listening to Christmas music…

The world is always in trouble and it will continue to be that way.  And I will work to find ways to feel like I am helping the world not be in as much trouble as it is.  Maybe I will succeed, a little bit…




Letter From New York 02 19 15 As the temperature drops…

February 19, 2015

I am at a friend’s office this afternoon, working on a project for him. It is bitterly cold here in New York and the wind chill will be fierce by this evening. Weather Underground is predicting wind chills of minus eighteen tonight, which will be worse down on Riverside Drive, where there is a micro-climate due to its proximity to the Hudson. I can only imagine how chill it will be getting home tonight.

It is the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year, a forty-day celebration that will result in THREE BILLION trips during these forty days. It is the largest annual migration of people from one place to the next as individuals travel to be at home for the season.

This year is the Year of the Sheep [or the Goat or the Ram, depending on your translation]. Most people are going with sheep this year, because they are cuddlier than goats or rams. It is not a particularly auspicious sign so there is a bit of hesitancy going into this New Year.

Earlier today I had a fascinating conversation with my friend, Kay Rothman, about the recent apocalyptic comments made by IS [ISIS or ISIL]. They have pointed across the sea to Rome and are gathering around a place marked in Revelations as the place where the battle will be fought that will mark the beginning of the end.

They are clever in exploiting our fears. They are clever in their use of social media, far cleverer than the West according to comments made at Obama’s anti-terrorism conference. The Russians unexpectedly attended it, much to the surprise of Washington.

Obama suggested the world address the “grievances” terrorists exploit.

Former New York Mayor Giuliani declared today that Obama “doesn’t love America.” That has kicked up a firestorm, not unexpectedly.

Giuliani was not as unruly as the Iranian Ambassador at the nuclear talks has been at times. Apparently is has been so bad that Ayatollah Khamenei has ordered Ambassador Zarif to stop it.

Also, not unexpectedly, the German Finance Minister is accusing the Greeks of using “Trojan Horses.” I have been waiting for someone to pull that one out. It happened today. There will be another “extraordinary” meeting of finance ministers to discuss Greece. The Germans are adamant about holding firm with them and so a Greek exit from the Euro is possible.

Walmart has agreed to raises wages for employees and to improve customer service. It will cost about a billion dollars but the CEO of Walmart feels it’s an essential investment in their work force. Sales were not so good last quarter and customer service complaints were up. He’s hoping the raises make good sense.

The Ukrainian truce is as fragile as ever. While fighting around Debaltseve has quieted because the Ukrainians have retreated, shelling seems to picking up south of that city, with fears the separatists are making a move on the port city of Mariupol.

The only good thing in this situation is that the four leaders still talk. Merkel and Hollande are determined to make the truce work. Putin seems removed and Poroshenko is infuriated.

Reportedly, the retreating Ukrainian soldiers are saying they felt abandoned by Kiev and were left without help. Regardless, Poroshenko is flying from the capital to personally greet and thank them.

Thankful in Texas is a lesbian coupled that were allowed to marry on the grounds that the denial of a marriage license was causing them irreparable harm. One of the two is suffering from ovarian cancer. It is a one-time event; no others will be done until the stay on granting marriages licenses to gays in Texas expires.

Congratulations to Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant!

In Los Angeles, there is an outbreak of CRE, a bacterium that is resistant to antibiotics. Seven are infected; 179 may have been exposed. Two have died. Another reminder that antibiotic resistant bacterium are on the rise.

The temperature is falling in New York, the afternoon sun is beginning to fade and I am prepping for chilly journey to Thai Market, where I will be meeting some friends for dinner. Wherever you are, stay warm and cozy.

Letter From New York 12 19 14 Tis the season for cyber warfare and hope…

December 19, 2014

Earlier today I returned from New York. I settled in and built a fire in my Franklin stove, put on Christmas Carols and, at this minute, can see the flames dancing in the stove and can look across the creek. All the snow has melted but there is still beauty in the land, the flowing water and the occasional squirrel that darts across the deck. There was a woodchuck that occasionally meandered across but he seems to have gone to ground for the winter.

The first day of winter is Monday and Christmas quickly follows. It looks like I will be doing a great deal of entertaining and I’ll spend part of the afternoon working on menus. It seems I’ll be having people on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, December 26th.

I’m looking forward to it. It always feels fun when the Cottage is full of people and there’s laughter and merriment. There is no need for me to go back to New York now until the second week in January so I have a long stretch of time here.

As I was riding the train up the east side of the Hudson River, the FBI declared North Korea the source of the Sony Pictures hacking disaster. Just before I sat down to write, President Obama held his end of year press conference and stated that pulling THE INTERVIEW was a mistake.

It is a hot topic. A few weeks ago, it actually seemed a little funny albeit sad. Now it is a full blown international incident. In my weekly phone call with my friends Medora and Meryl we had a spirited conversation about it. Medora thought it was the official end of the world as we know it. We all knew that what we surrender to the digital world is no longer ours but now we know it in a very visceral sense.

It’s one of those moments when something changes and everyone is aware of it, a tectonic shift in the way we see the world. Cyber warfare is here and here to stay. It has been here, we’ve known about it but now it has come to our backyard. It is a sobering thought.

There are lots of things to be sober about. The planet itself is beautiful but dangerous place with storms and earthquakes and other natural disasters. And we humans inhabit it and we have a cruel tendency to violence, a fact born witness to every time we open the newspaper or watch a newscast. We humans do terrible things to one another.

But we also do amazing things for one another. An unidentified man walked into a Walmart and plopped down $50,000 to pay off layaway purchases for people he’d never met. In times of crisis we line up to help one another.

It is these things I am going to focus on these last few days before Christmas. Not the other things. Tis the season of hope and that is what I am focusing on, hope. Hope for our world, hope for myself, hope for everything.

Letter From New York Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 29, 2014

It is mid-afternoon yet the light is already fading here in Claverack; a pearl grey sky dominates the horizon. With the surfeit of snow, the view looks almost like a black and white photo. Branches, weighted down with snow, curl toward the earth all around me.

It is the Saturday following Thanksgiving, that long and lovely weekend of feasting and shopping. At least I heard no reports this year of crowds trampling each other into the linoleum. It has been mostly peaceful on the shopping front I think. There is nothing that says “Happy Holidays” more than a riot at Walmart. They opened Thanksgiving afternoon in an effort to let some steam out of the system so as to avoid the unpleasantness of previous years.

Today I passed their parking lot and it wasn’t full. I’m hoping that it was impossible to find a parking spot on Warren Street down in Hudson. It’s Small Business Saturday and Warren Street is crammed with small businesses. I will go there during the week this week to do some shopping.

I’m afraid I have no great need to plunge into the ritual of Black Friday or the counter movement of Small Business Saturday. I avoid all of those things. However, I am not immune to Cyber Monday. Amazon started its Cyber Monday Sale yesterday, or the day before or perhaps it has always been going on…

I confess that today I ventured online and ordered something for young Alicia, the three-year-old daughter of young Nick who works with me keeping the cottage running smoothly. She is enamored [as are so many] with FROZEN so I got her one of the hundreds of FROZEN items for sale on Amazon. So convenient. For a small fee, it will arrive wrapped. Because I am an Amazon Prime member it will come in two days, ready for the Christmas tree, which glows in the other room.

This is, perhaps my favorite weekend of the year, partly because I don’t push myself into the shopping frenzy at Walmart or Warren Street or the Cross Gate Mall up in Albany. I cozy up in the cottage and recover from my tryptophan hangover and concentrate on decorating for Christmas.

It is four o’clock as I write this and a family of deer has just crossed my yard; they seem to do so about this time every day. It causes me, in these quiet moments, to feel centered, in some kind of harmony with the larger world, aware that nature still runs wild in places and one of those places is my cottage by Claverack Creek.

From my desk, I look out the window to nothing but snow covered trees as far as I can see. My road is quiet and it seems a gentle world, far from the strum und drang of the city.

Twilight arrives. I got to prepare dinner for friends. I rejoice in the peace.