All posts by claireaperez

blogger and communications specialist I promote gardeners and historians...timeless professions.

The book is done: the letting go begins

Yesterday, I completed the proofing and corrections of my friend Joe Baldwin’s 270 page book titled Tales of Old Trumansburg.

He first mentioned this project to me in 2013. Mortality gave both of us the impetus to work on it beginning May 4, 2017.

Joe and I had a solid friendship behind us of 12 years and I believed strongly that his local history work was excellent and should be preserved.

Joe was not feeling well and yet he stayed steady through our work. He never complained and was all ears and gentle with my complaints which escalated under the weight of the pressure.

My goal was to get Joe a copy of this book as it would look in final production before he passed. I did accomplish this with the help of many many people. But the person who really inspired me was my husband Ram.

When we saw our buddy after his 2 months of treatment, my husband, on the side,said to me: you get that book done for him and you do it fast. He spurred me on in a way that I want to acknowledge. Ram believed in Joe and the project and his words made me feel that not only could I do this, it was important to do for our friend.

At his grave site…a beautiful place set in the nature and town he loved, the pastor read this poem. That was two weeks ago and now that the book has been sent off, these words can truly set in.

Miss Me, But Let Me Go

-Edgar Albert Guest

When I come to the end of the road

And the sun has set for me,

I want no rites in a gloom-filled room,

Why cry for a soul set free!

Miss me a little – but not for long

And not with your head bowed low.

Remember the love that we once shared,

Miss me, but let me go.

For this journey that we all must take

And each must go alone;

It’s all a part of the Master’s plan

A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick at heart

Go to the friends we know,

And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.

Miss me, but let me go.

if I could get out of this place

I always fancied myself some kind of fancy New York City or Parisian writer. I could almost see myself in Paris having deep conversations with Ernie. Sometimes I thought I might be a good English professor mulling over The Oven Bird and all of Emily Dickinson’s poems about death.

When my fear of flying and then my fear of overcrowded spaces settled in, I had resigned myself to the ordinary. An ordinary life not in LA or Buenos Aires, but just in the middle of nowhere here in upstate NY.

But this week, scanning away for comma errors, writing an afterword for the book project that hopefully will be in the designer’s hands by midnight tonight, I realized that there just is no better place to be than wherever I am. There is no secret writing place, there are no wonderful people hiding out in clubs in NY. There all around me, the writing places and the wonderful people.


the owl

last night an owl came to chant

across the woods so still and quiet

through the air so crisp and clear

hunting to round out its diet


Signs from the Bardo

Dear Joe,

According to the Buddhists you are in the bardo and I am wondering: are these things I see signs from you? Or am I just feeling the imprint of your life?

Tuesday, the piliated wood pecker, the holy grail, which you and Ram always see and I always miss, flew directly in front of our windshield. He grazed the glass as he flew across the creek to a tree he could sink into. “Piliated” shouted Ram. “Joe” I yelled.

Thursday I unloaded my grocery cart and as I waited for the cashier, I saw behind me a man with a single 6 pack of ginger-ale. (For the reader, Joe brought ginger-ale wherever he went…it was his drink of choice so much so that his family honored him by bringing a six pack to his celebration ceremony).

I thought ginger ale…better let the guy check out in front if me. I hesitated, he looked like the master of the universe type and I am resistant to noblises oblige. But still I let him go.

Nicest guy, couldn’t have smiled more or thanked me enough. I heard you say, in my mind Joe, that what I had assumed was “not necessarily the case.”

And finally, Ram met some people out at a movie I did not want to see. I did not want him to go to Blade Runner alone so I helped arrange some buddies for him to meet out. When they sat down, he wasn’t particularly happy about their seating choice so he up and parked himself behind the group. And here in is where I hear you loudest: march to your own drummer, respectfully, beat the drum loudly and clearly, find what works for you.

Ram and I often reflect on who in the world is our tribe. We have many community friends but few close, close friends. We often long to be part of a “group” that alludes us, but you Joe, you were part of our tribe. You, me, Ram…we all three march to a different drummer, it just isn’t the same one.

I will continue to look for the signs…of course, but I think the signs are just the symbols of you left behind for us to hold.

Our house is a very very nice

house…with lots of plants and lots of dreams…

our house3 copy


if the Bloodline Rayburns had therapy: …SPOILER!!

if the Bloodline Rayburns only had therapy: a case-by-case scenario of possibility…SPOILER!!  (Note:  you probably won’t get it if you haven’t watched the series, so pop yourself some popcorn and come on back when you have watched it.)

Papa Rayburn, heaIMG_2663d demon, would not have broken Danny’s arm because Sarah would not have drowned. Sarah would not have drowned because when Sally and Robert had marital problems they would have talked about their feelings and had real conversations with their children.

Danny, the scapegoat, would have become a chef and paid for his own therapy and rehab. He then would have realized these screwballs’ image of him was just that, an image, and he would have peeled off the garbage to his inner soul. When he went home to visit, he would have driven himself and paid for the gas. He would not engage with the family’s storyline about him and would have earned John’s respect.

Meg Rayburn would have married Marco, had many children, stopped boozing it up and led both AA meetings and Course in Miracles workshops.

Kevin would have told John to f_off the first time he tried to fix it for Kevin. This would have prevented Kevin from having to help John cover up Danny’s murder. Kevin and Val and Rocky could have still escaped to Cuba but Kevin would have taken responsibility for all the details, for sure he wouldn’t have missed turning off Val’s GPS on her phone.

John would have stopped being the hero, cheered up, and individuated from the  Rayburn’s eventually putting Dick Gilbert in Federal prison for drug trafficking.

Sally would have watched reruns of Carrie and released her claws from the backs of her children.

Well, as they say…would-a, could-a, should-a





And other. Stories that its about
Capizzi…I love your lights and pizza
I know: it is an art museum
Goodmorning New York, it is 5:30am
That is my husband😜
Shop before sunrise
Sunday in Bryant Park

I have a better idea said General Silveria

and he proceeded to give ideas to his air force cadets about how they could stop partaking in the bigotry found written on the premises’ doors.  Loudly and clearly, with no apology, he assumed leadership.  He took a risk, he spoke out, and he concluded “if you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect: get out.” There is a bottom line… leadership with moral clarity! a drop of hope!

I have noticed since the 2016 election a new boldness among people and institutions to nonchalantly take their power to new heights. It includes racism and it includes a trampling of basic human dignity.  I have had some better ideas this week:

1. All you Masters of the Universes out there, when you are riding your bike against the light across an intersection with your headphones on, and someone beeps at you to save your life, don’t turn around and give your protector the finger. Rather, thank them for reminding you to slow down before you are killed in a motor vehicle accident.

2. For government agencies, do not make excuses for the company deliberately spraying my friend with manure.  There is no moral or ethical ground to stand on when you blame the victim’s signage for getting sprayed on his own land.

3.I have an idea, let’s think about why Ms. Walton (Walmart) , is one of the richest woman in the world with $38.4 billion. Of course she is, she is part of the beneficiary of the best redistribution scheme going.  Walton pays her workers low wages, they need supplemental services like Medicaid and Earned Income and Child Tax Credit to survive….they get those from the taxpayers. The disappearance of the middle class is in part due to the redistribution of weath from the high-end middle class worker to the low-end middle class worker.

For details see Forbes, April 2017: No matter the town or city, if you have a Walmart in your community, you are paying a Walmart Tax. In fact, a single Walmart Supercenter is estimated to cost taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.74 million per year in public assistance money.

For Walmart, this represents tens of millions of dollars in savings, all on the backs of US taxpayers and workers.

Finally, I have an idea about deregulation.    What needed regulation in the economy was the corporation:  the nonperson, party with a capitalist mandate to act in ITS own self interest to maximize the gain to the entity by using as few resources as possible.  In order to do this, the earth, the giver of our existence, has become a vehicle to the corporate end.  This year, our Fingerlakes have seen poisonous algae blooms linked to a disproportionate amount of fertilizer in the water that runs off from farms.  How long can this go untapped in the name of efficiency?  How long can we survive without more regulation of the insatiable wants and needs of man?

I have an idea….let us cut through the bs and start holding people (and their corporate representatives) truly accountable. Let’s applaud those government and education leaders who take a risk to call out injustice, look it directly in the eye, and make a statement.

And the next time the Master of the Universe sticks his middle finger up at us, let us stop, pause, and think, would it not be better to flash a poster of a peace sign than to retaliate in kind?peace-sign




there are 6 million stories in the naked city & there are other stories

& other stories… along 5th avenue…photoshop

My husband, Radames, and I walked from our hotel to our bus stop in Manhattan at 5:30am on Monday.  My mind is packed  with many stories from that trip but I can’t write a single one.  I tried last night, they all spin into mush.  I can think of their titles, but waxing on in detail seems boring.  I think that if I am bored, you probably will be too.

Below, the titles swishing through my mind:

Sometimes the best way to spend a day is sitting in a park in the middle of NY talking

Sometimes trip apps work:  they wanted pizza, I found PIZZA: Capizzi

The early morning hours of NY:  Walt Whitman “I hear America singing” ~ the push cart station & the guy with a cell phone in each hand

It took me 22 years to get my husband to the city and he had so much fun

Mario, I really, really wanted to go to Eataly but you hung up on me twice

YELP doesn’t always work:  We walked to Mr. Deng’s 5 Star Restaurant & it was gone

THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING AT NIGHT:  Brother Bill, you should market that picture, it is really, really hard to get an excellent one 

THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING AT NIGHT: you can hear a pin drop on the 86th Floor in the liminal moment between day and night

CABBIES OF NY:  Check your GPS would you! Stranded and exhausted on an Avenue 

WHOLE FOODS:  Unisex bathrooms suck if they aren’t designed right

ONE MOMENT~looking at a high rise and then a homeless person cuddled on the side of the road, we are all nothing and everything at once

There are over  6 Million Stories in the Naked City and all I can write today are the headlines



Reverence for a teacher

Photo Sep 06, 3 35 00 PM
Memorial behind  McGraw Hall, Cornell

Behind my office at Cornell University, or rather to the side and behind the imposing statue of Ezra Cornell, sits this memorial to a professor .

I have created the narrative of slow thoughtful research for this professor. I see him with drawings and diagrams all hand drawn as he passes knowledge from one generation to another.

In my mind’s eye, this professor is hiking around our towns, stopping to point his finger at a phenomenon in the natural world. His students stand still, quiet, holding his words, filing them carefully for another time to be accessed on their own hikes.

I hear a quiet peaceful noise when I stop by this monument to this teacher. I think it is nice and kind that he remains here to remind us all of what can be learned in silent, steady, peaceful observation.

I note well that this monument, this glacial rock, has stood still during my 2 plus years at this job. Still and motionless as my life progresses on faster than I ever imagined in the springtime of adulthood.