Sunday, August 29, 2010

End of Summer Thoughts

Here at Heart Lake as I sit at my computer and look out at the lake, while I listen to "Discovering Music" on BBC Radio 3 (a program about Brahms' Violin Concerto,) my mind is full of a number of apparently disparate topics. Sunday morning Liz and I went, as we usually do when we are here in the summer, to the Heart Lake United Methodist Church. This small church is currently in financial trouble and its future is uncertain. We are hanging in there with the active congregation -- a little over a dozen people. The situation at that church is very much on my mind, although in fact it is peripheral to my major concerns.

Thinking about the church here at Heart Lake, by an obvious connection of ideas, puts me in mind of the situation at St. Mary's. I took a break from the active treasurership for the month of August -- and indeed I won't piuck it up again in earnest until after Labor Day. Even then, I'll be pretty much an absentee treasurer until sometime in October.

Another obvious connection of ideas brings me to the wider Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. I am somewhat, that is, slightly, less addicted tyo reading all of the blog commentary on Anglican doings than I was, say a year or more ago -- but I still follow with bemusement the oddball antics of certain Anglican prelates with regard to the wedge issue of saem sex relationships.

On Sunday afternoon we attended a concert at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Montrose. During this past year, St. Paul's called as its rector the Rev. Paul Walker, whose life partner, the Rev. Randy Lee Webster is serving St. Mark's Church in New Milford and Christ Church is Susquehanna. I mentioned a few weks ago that we had met Randy Webster at a Saturday afternnon concert in Susquehanna. I'm impressed, anda little surprised , that the Episcopal Churches in upper Susquehanna County are welcoming and affirming. St. Paul's has a formal statement to that effect -- I don't know about the other two churches, but they are certainly welcoming and affirming in practice. (As, I may add, is St. Mary's, which does not yet have a formal public statement to that effect, despite our history of having gay and lesbian clergy, wardens, vestry members, and ordinary congregants.)

Two of the newer congregants at St. Mary's are Tom Cahill and Joel Kovel. I don't know Tom except to exchange the peace with, and he doesn't attend as often as Liz and I do when we are at home, so it will take a while to get to know him. Currently, I am reading the second of his Hinges of History books, The Gifts of the Jews. I know that sometime this past year I began Desire of the Everlasting Hills, but I don't think I finished it. Part of my problem is that I try to keep too many books going at the same time.

I do know Joel Kovel a little better. He has been going to our Celtic Morning Prayer held in the Lampman Chapel at Union Theological Seminary every weekday morning. (Liz and I started going only last November, but we find it a good way to start the day.) We are slowly reading ,out lous, Joel's book, The Enemy of Nature. It's a little tough going. Although I call myself a socialist, and having been going to the Socialist Scholars Conference and its successor the Left Forum for about twenty years, I am not well grounded in Marxist or other socialist thought, and I don't know enough to be able to fuuly understand the technical critique of capitalism that Joel makes, nor the concommitant argument that eco-socialism is the only viable choice. Both in The Enemy of Nature, and in statements made very recently, Joel has acknowledged the difficulty of overcoming capitalism and replacing it with a system with an ecocentric ethic. A major part of the difficulty, I would say, is persuading people that capitalism is in fact the enemy of nature and needs to be overcome.

Joel Kovel is about four months younger than I and his intellectual achievements leave me awestruck and more than a little regretful that I did not pursue my original desire to become an academic. I am also impressed by his activism -- mine amounts to attending the odd march or rally and making relatively small financial contributions to causes I find worthy.

I am, to be sure, being selectively unfair to myself here. Over the past thirty years, I have devoted quite a bit of energy to the governance of Morningside Gardens, the housing coop where we live and over the past forty years or so I have devoted energy to the lay leadership of St. Mary's Church.

I'll sign off here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Yesterday evening, Liz and I drove back to Heart Lake after spending five nights in Vermont for the second time this month. With the driving time, that really mean six days away. Add to that two days I went to New York in August and I have spent 14 days of August away from here. Since today is August 26th, that's more than half of the month.

I'm looking forward to spending the next 10 or 12 days here without going anywhere else to sleep.

[Actually posted a day later than written for reasons I won't go into.]

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the Thirteenth

On Tuesday, I had to go to New York so that I could (a) attend to a little bit of St. Mary's Treasurer business, (b) chair a Tenant Selection Committee meeting at Morningside Gardens, and (c) have my temporary fixed upper denture repaired. On Wednesday afternoon I spent about three hours in the dentist's chair while the prosthesis was being repaired.

Thrusday morning I got up very early, loaded the car, and was on the road back to Heart Lake at about 5:45 AM. I was anxious to get back here because our granddaughters and their parents are here. There were signs on Route 81 that there was a closure between exit 206 and exit 211 and that there was a detour between. I thought that would not delay me much, but it it turned out to be a serious delay. I lost over an hour and a half and would have lost more time if I hadn't belatedly decided to cut my losses and turn around and take another route.

Anyway, I got here and enjoyed having the family here yesterday. I'm looking forward to the next three days, after which they are going back to Vermont.

I have to go to New York again for a brief meeting this coming Wednesday, then back to Vermont on Friday for five nights. I find that a lot of back and forthing is disruptive of continuity in any task. It seems to take a day after I get back before I am truly back in the groove to work on whatever project I was on before I left. The upshot is that I won't get as much done this summer as I had expected.

That's life.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Home Again to Heart Lake

The pictures are coming -- I promise.

Shortly after I finished the previous post, we go a phone call that a canoe trip we had planned was canceled because tof conditions caused by the heavy rain the night before. At my suggestion we called another canoe company and had basically the same canoe trip -- at half the cost. This morning it just occurred to me that the conditions that caused the other company to cancel were probably not river conditions, but rather flooded ground at the access and landing points. It was my first canoe experience on a river that I can remember - perhaps I had a little river experience when I was a Boy Scout, but I'm not at all certain about that one way or another -- but I found it very similar to being on a lake. Of course, that part of the Lamoille River is very gentle.

After the canoe trip we took a dirve to Craftsbury Common on the edge of Vermont's Northeast kingdom. We got there at about 6 PM and everybody was indoors. Then we went back to Smuggs for supper and we sat up late, talking and exchanging pictures on the computers.

Friday morning, we loaded the car and drove down to Poultney for lunch with Nancy and Ross. At lunch, my denture broke -- it's an acrylic temporary fixed full denture. The center of it broke out, so I have a huge gap with no teeth. I'll get it fixed when I'm in New York this Wednesday, so I have to endure it for a few more days.

On Saturday we went to the family meeting. A major focus was how the family property in Poultney will be passed on to those in the next generation -- the principal question being willingness and ability to assume a share of the financial responsibilty for the upkeep of the property.

After the meeting, we had a lunch in celebration of Liz's brother Dick's birthday. There were twenty family members there, including Jane and Scott and our two granddaughters, Amanda and Juliana. After lunch, we drove home to Heart Lake -- it took about five hours all told, including a stop in a grocery store.

It's great to be back. We have a landscaper coming tomorrow and we also have to get ready for the arrival of Jane and family either in the middle of Wednesday night or on Thursday -- their drive is about two hours longer than ours was yesterday and they haven't decided whether to drive Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Meanwhile, I'll be going to New York for a meeting (and now to get my teeth fixed) so I won't be here until sometime Thursday morning.

The pictures are coming -- I promise,.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

What are we doing in Vermont?

For the past thirty years or so, Liz and I have been going to Heart Lake for much of the summer. In 1981, shortly before he died, my father told me he thought we could buy the cottage we now have at a pretty good price as long as we undertook to dispose of my my great aunt’s belongings – that her son did not want to have to do that. It took a few years for us to make the decision, but in 1987 we finally bought it.

We love it at Heart Lake. We also love Vermont – much of Liz’s family has ended up here – and our daughter Jane is here, along with our granddaughters and our son-in-law. So we come to Vermont a lot in the course of a year.

This year, though, we are here at a resort – Smuggler’s Notch Resort (Smuggs) on the west side of the Green Mountains. My cousin Vicki and her husband Jess are owners of a timeshare here and invited us to come up and spend time with them. It’s an almost new experience for me – Liz and I once won a short stay at a resort in Jamaica – that was in a hotel while this is in a condo apartment. Smuggs is about an hour from where Jane and Scott live near Montpelier, and they and the girls came over yesterday evening for dinner – we were so glad they got to meet Vicki and Jess – one of the reasons we came here was so they could meet.

We leave here tomorrow, Friday, to spend some time in Poultney with Liz’s sister Nancy and her husband Ross. We are co-owners of the property in Poultney which Liz’s parents bought and later retired to. Because of a partial family rift, we haven’t attended any of the annual family meetings since the summer of 2001, but we are going to attend the meeting this time – on Saturday in Rutland. Then we will drive back to Heart Lake on Saturday afternoon.

A week from today, Jane and Scott and the girls will be coming to Heart Lake for their annual brief stay. We’re att looking forward to that. Then, in two weeks, we are coming back to Vermont, to attend a memorial service for Liz’s uncle Perry and his wife Kathleen. Uncle Perry died this past winter – Kathleen died several years earlier, but had not been memorialized. We are going to pick up Liz’s Aunt Adele at the Albany airport and bring her to Poultney and thence to Ripton for the memorial service on Sunday. Liz’s brothers and sister will see to getting Adele back to the airport – meanwhile Liz and I will proceed to Jane’s to babysit the girls on Monday and Tuesday. Then it’s back to Heart Lake as August winds down.

I'm not good at keeping these promises, but I promise to update this with pictures -- soon.