Tuesday, October 30, 2012

High Tide, Full Moon, and Hurricane Sandy

Three things coming together in one awful night for the City of New York and surrounding coastal areas.  The pictures of flooded streets, floating cars, and such harks back to New Orleans during Katrina.  Thankfully, NYC took this storm seriously and prepared as well as they could for it.  Hopefully that will avoid any loss of life.

The Hudson River, which is still technically a tidal estuary as it divides Ulster and Duchess counties, has flooded low areas.  The effect is minimal due to the sharp incline in the shoreline up here, but it's up higher than any previously recorded levels.  Here in Ulster County there are many road closures due to downed trees and power lines.  Surprisingly our little Plains Road/Woodland Drive community seems not to have lost power at all through the windy night.  More winds are predicted for today but not as strong.

In a truly bizarre twist of storm fate, there are forecasts blizzard conditions with two to three feet of snow in the mountains of West Virginia.

I'm about to go glue myself to my TV for awhile even though it hurts to watch.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Hometown and End of Autumn in the Catskills

We drove up to the Butternut Valley and the tiny village of Gilbertsville this weekend.  The colorful display that is autumn in the northeast is past up there.  The subdued green of the conifers and the dull grey-brown of the almost leafless hardwoods cover the old mountains in their winter blanket. The exception to the absence of autumn hues is the bright yellow dots of paper birch scattered throughout the forest.  These relatives of the oak share its tenacity of leaf, hanging on to the branch long after other trees have given up. So we are treated to these leafy suns, these paint splatters in the forest, long after all the other colors are gone.

Gilbertsville is my hometown.

I dimly remember writing about the word "hometown" sometime ago, though I don't know whether or not it was in this blog.  No matter, it's back in my head so it's now pushing out through my fingers.  I lived in that little village (pop. @400) a total of about five years out of my seventy; I've lived in New Paltz for thirty-three; I was born in the borough of Queens in New York City and lived there until I was ten. Several other places also fit into my nomadic life for periods from one to four years, yet Gilbertsville is the place - my "hometown."  I don't think I'm particularly strange (no snide remarks) when I stake my claim to an area where I resided for such a brief time.  Curious as I always am to learn, I have asked others to name their hometown. Often they respond with a phrase something like "You mean where I was born?" which tells me they have their heart attached to a place that is not of their birth.  How about you?

Hurricane Sandy is beating up the NY/NJ coastline right now and is still a long way off shore.  The storm is huge!  We have wind and rain now, some heavy gusts but nowhere near what we're told to expect later on.  I'll try to report again tomorrow if we have power.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On Being Afraid, and Sad Birthdays

 I've been feeling generally crappy, tired and achy, far out of anything that passes for a routine.  A couple of days ago looked from what I was reading because my head felt a little weird and I was seeing double.  It's happened twice now with a spread of two years between.  Each time my eyes refocused, but not right away.  The interval, though probably less than a minute, seemed an eternity.

I'm starting the series of tests that will likely reveal nothing, as they did before.  I hope in some ways that's not the case.  I need to know what's causing this.  My greatest fear as I age is to lose my mental ability and thereby lose my self.  I know dying is inevitable.  I know at seventy that the day will come sooner than later.  What I dread most is living in an aging body with a damaged mind.

(I wrote the stuff above about a week ago.  Tests are still in progress, all negative thus far.  I'm feeling better but not great.)

Today is October 24th, my older son Jason's forty-sixth birthday.  He is geographically closest of my children (two sons, two stepdaughters) by far, being about forty minutes away, but I have seen him only once in a dozen years and that was at his brother's in Louisiana.  I am pretty sure I've mentioned him before in these musings.  As each year passes, as we both age, I wonder if I will ever be able to get reacquainted with him, whether he will, with age, somehow want to get to know me as I want to know him.  Every year his birthday makes me sad because I know that's one less year, one less chance, that we will meet as friends, father and son, or just sit for a while and talk as strangers who could become friends.

I've learned that it does me no good to catalogue and dwell on all the ways I didn't know how to be his father, but it's still hard not to look for that one instance in our sparse relationship that shut the door.  I wish I knew what it was.

Friday, October 12, 2012

What Offends Me

I just saw a Facebook post.  It is a picture of the American Flag, with the caption "If this flag offends you I'll help you pack."

I am offended.

It is not the flag that offends me, it is the people who use it as a club to beat others about the head with the term "patriotism."

It offends me to see the Flag worn as a lapel pin.

It offends me see young soldiers sent into combat time-after-time, subjected to the insanity of killing, of being wounded or killed; always suffering the terrible invisible wound to their minds.

It offends me to watch my country turn into a theocracy.

It offends me to hear people who are fearful of a fair election try to rig the vote by excluding any who might vote against them.

It offends me to hear people with more money than they could ever need say those who are poor are lazy.

It offends me to see people litter my country.

It offends me to see people wrap themselves in the Flag and call themselves patriots while vilifying all who do not share their views.

So yes, I am offended.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Changing Seasons in a Changing World

October 6th - The morning sky is gray and misty with the morning sun not quite able to paint its bright orange glow in the southeastern sky, managing only a very pale yellow on the clouds.  My quarter acre forest of black cherry, locust, and maple has released some of its canopy.  The leaves blanket my front walkway, merging it with the rest of the earth.  The subdued light this morning is giving a kind of glow to the blanket of damp leaves, highlighting their fading colors.  The maples in my front yard are dressed in english ivy; on one of them the deep green of the ivy is augmented by the flaming red of a Virginia Creeper woven into it.

I would be lying if I said autumn was my favorite season - I have no favorite season.  I love the change in seasons, the laziness of autumn, the sleep of winter, the wakening of spring, and the vitality of summer; each has its own specialness.

That's enough for now.