Well, my absentee ballot has arrived here in Britain. The election is almost upon us. I vote in New York state, in the 19th congressional district, which is located upstate partly in the Catskills where our house is:
Let me offer a quick explanation of that ballot because this fact might baffle some people. The United States does not have a presidential election as such. It has essentially 51 presidential elections simultaneously – separate elections in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (meaning Washington city, which is not in any state but is the national capital named after, OF COURSE, HIM!).
As I vote in New York State, I vote for electors – locals whose names one rarely knows – who gather at Albany in early December. They are pledged to cast THEIR ballots formally for the pair of candidates who had received the most votes back on November’s Election Day.
You never know who is reading you. Something I wrote about the Catskills a couple of years back attracted a response from a Turkish woman. She wrote to me that she knew the area well: she had attended (of all places) the State University of New York at Binghamton!
We had a laugh. She had also left the US recently and was living once again in Istanbul, but remained interested in south-central New York state, where Binghamton is located, in particular. Occasionally, she’d ask me about the snow and frigid temperatures – she didn’t miss either in Istanbul! she always said – and inquired harmlessly about other aspects of life thereabouts. She also knew I-84 pretty well, and we’d joked about that “endless” and “dull” highway.
We ended up following each other on Twitter. She tweeted mostly in Turkish, which left me mostly at a loss. But she did offer an occasional observation in English and/or a link to something in English; usually it was innocuous and apolitical. Often what she shared was humorous.
Yesterday’s post was depressing. The present day isn’t exactly doing it for me lately. I thought let’s have a retreat to the past for this one….
But naturally there were troubles back then, too. Moreover when it came to communicating with our representatives back in the U.S. as to what we abroad were witnessing, there wasn’t even email! And we definitely couldn’t “@” them on Twitter!
We would have sat down and composed an ink-splotted letter by candlelight that we hoped might get to its destination in two or three months if we were lucky….
If I have some “overarching theme” to my novels, I admit it’s that I wish everyone, all of us, always could somehow manage to be on “the same side.” I know that’s wishful thinking. But it’s a hope nevertheless.
What’s writing for if not for occasionally wishful thinking?
Yesterday, after having been out and about, and alone here at the house in the Catskills, I decided to tackle a bit more writing. Other than dipping into the net now and then, and Twitter, I’ve read little news in recent days. (There’s no television currently working in the house.) This morning, I had another post all ready, when it hit me as to what I’d been working on yesterday and how it could be “seen” in 2016.
Tom Cruise playing the “Jack Reacher” character infuriated many devoted readers of the book series. I know about this mostly based on what I’ve read about the controversy. Also my wife loves those novels, and she explained why he wouldn’t have been her “first choice” for “Reacher” when she’d read initially that it was to be Mr. Cruise in the role.
The biggest (no pun intended) complaint regularly seen is that the relatively diminutive real-life Mr. Cruise in no way resembles “Reacher.” The character is apparently nearly 7 ft tall and consists of pure muscle. Some on “social media” were quick to point that out:
Yet in fairness to any filmmaker, casting a “superman” is always a challenge. When a fictional character is outlandish, trying to locate a human actor who largely resembles him/her on the pages, let alone one who can also ACT well enough, is naturally not easy. Making that task even tougher is when it’s also supposed to be the STAR of the potential film, for it’s then suddenly necessary also to try to find one from among a very small pool of actor possibilities who will hopefully also FILL cinemas.
Hello again! I know in the last few days I’ve popped my head up only a couple of times over on Instagram and Twitter. Sorry no new posts on here (until now). Since I’m in the Catskills just a short time before I have to drive back down to my dad’s in Pennsylvania, I’ve been running around doing “stuff.”
And “stuff” needs doing. Yes, our house here is fine. Well, it’s mostly fine:
I’m going to the U.S. next week for a ten day visit. Yes, I’ll make sure the house in the Catskills is still standing. Fortunately, we know it is: a helpful friend nearby keeps an eye on it for us.
In any other year, I wouldn’t be going right now without my wife. The true reason I have to is because I want to spend some time with my father in Pennsylvania, who has a birthday while I’m there. It’s his first since my mother’s death in October.
“This is great, nephew,” my uncle remarked as he looked out a window at Windham Mountain a few miles away. “I’ve never been up here [to Windham]. The views. Wow. It’s spectacular. Just spectacular.”
My (now late) uncle had owned a small place in the Catskills in the 1960s and early 1970s. However, he hadn’t been back to the upstate New York region for a couple of decades. After finding his way finally (after getting lost) to our house near Windham in 2011 on what turned out to be his only visit to it, hearing that his second wife (not my Italian-German aunt I’d known all my life as “my aunt,” which is decidedly another story) observed playfully, “That’s been the word of the day: Spectacular. Everything’s ‘spectacular.’ He’s been saying that the entire last part of the drive up here.”
Over the weekend here in the Canary Islands, we stumbled on a coach tour on the net. It would pick us up at a nearby hotel and take us up to Teide National Park for the evening – to see the volcanic, highest mountain, in Spain. It included dinner and drinks (the latter particularly always welcome!) and finished with some stargazing.