Monthly Archives: January 2013

Levels of exposure

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Burned out

Things have been a bit odd lately,  to the point that I’ve been wondering about “being out there.” In recent weeks, I’ve been busy, almost exhaustingly so.  On more than one occasion, I’ve fantasized about getting that stomach bug everyone had so I could drop 5lbs and stay in bed for a couple of days. Pretty sad, right?  Or maybe you’ve been here, too?

There have been events in the past couple of weeks (in January, the “quiet” month we all need after the hecticness of the holiday season) that have made me concerned that my name and my face have been a little too present in the local news.  And, no, disappointingly enough, I wasn’t arrested at some meaningful  protest or anything. It started when I took some pictures at the Wine Fest and ended up, through no preference of my own, having a picture of me being featured on the TU website in that particular slide show of shots.  Ok, great, how vain do I look?  Whatever.

The following weekend’s tragic house fire kicked things up dramatically. First, there was the interview with the very nice, Lily Jaymil.  It seemed rude to not answer a few questions, and her attempt to extract something meaningful from me about the residents of the seriously damaged home was more polite than pushy.  It felt like only minutes after she left, when the doorbell rang again – this time it was Bryan Fitzgerald of the Times Union.  We had a quick conversation and I shared a couple of photos with him, which he included in his story, in print and online.

These encounters were, I felt, in the realm of what one could expect when there is situation like the one which occurred across the street from me.  The next couple of things, though, were beyond my DSC_0007comfort zone, both physically and mentally.  The news truck parked in front of my house, with its constantly running engine, was beyond disruptive.  The phone call I received at work 2 days after the fire, from someone seeking information about the identity of the person recovered from the scene, made me feel nervous.  Apparently, after seeing my name on the news, this person unleashed the power of the Google and tracked me down at the school district where I work.  His actions were born of innocent concern, but it still felt invasive and I was left feeling uncomfortable.

I accept complete responsibility for the extent that I share my “thoughts, experiences and adventures*” as a writer, but I do need to consider my comfort level, along with the perils of overexposure. Bear with me, ok?

*The DelSo blog motto in a nutshell.

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Events, musings, Random, stress, Uncategorized

Soccer Mom Rebellion

image:juggernaut.com

Do you remember that movie Kicking and Screaming?  I think I lost the dvd in the divorce, but remember it as being about a kids’ soccer team and it was cutely funny.  Well, let me tell you something, being a soccer mom isn’t remotely amusing. Practice three days a week and double-header games that begin at 7:50 on Saturday night are not cutely funny to me at all.  As a matter of fact, they’re really annoying and inconvenient. Why are 13 year-olds beginning games at 9:20 pm?  Is the dome in Latham that heavily scheduled, and if so, shouldn’t some thought be given to building another one in addition to the two already in use?

I understand that team sports are a positive influence in my (any) child’s life, but I guess I’m a little new to the game.  I was pretty active as a kid, yet I don’t recall playing on any teams outside of school other than a softball team when I was a teenager – and I walked the 2+ miles to practice and games.  Uphill, both ways, naturally.  I don’t use my own mother as a yardstick for appropriate parental involvement, but don’t recall her ever coming to one of my games – or my even anticipating seeing her sitting in the bleachers. It just wasn’t expected.

These days, as Griffin follows a 90 minute morning practice with 3 consecutive afternoon/evening games kicking off at 4:40, I wonder how parents with multiple children with multiple activities do it.  Do they drive minivans because they actually sleep in them?  Is it that the parents have completely yielded their lives to managing their children’s lives?  I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in doing that.  Call me selfish if you will, but 5 hours of soccer leaves me wanting to do a little kicking and screaming of my own.   Where are my cleats?

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Filed under Boys, Exercise, family, moms, Rants, soccer

Burning memories

When I was 18, our house burned down.  It was at a point in my life when I didn’t have much, but everything I owned, other than 2 laundry baskets of dirty clothes which had been in my car, disappeared on a beautiful summer day.  The memories of that day have faded, like the photos in the albums which were pulled from the ashes, but the lesson that will always remain me with is the knowledge that stuff is just stuff.  Replaceable, forgettable, unimportant.

My brother was home sleeping when the fire started, but thankfully escaped without injury.  I’ve always felt that he lost more than I did in the flames – he had an impressive collection of pewter figurines he had painstakingly painted which were turned into a puddle of metal from the heat that day.  He had albums and books and other collections that were important to him.  I had clothes, lots of clothes, outfits that I continued to miss for months, if not years.  I can’t tell you how many times I was drawn up short as I planned my evening’s outfit only to remember that I no longer had that dress or skirt.  I got used to it.  I moved on with the sense that none of it mattered all that much, and the knowledge that what I truly considered necessary in my life had been forever redefined.

DSC_0004This morning, I awoke to the sound of engines running.  I live on a small, narrow street and the noises weren’t going away.  Reluctantly, I got out of bed and looked out my window to see a street filled with emergency vehicles, yet still surprisingly quiet beyond the hum of the diesel motors.  I assumed it was a medical call until I picked my head up and looked directly across the street – to the house I will always call “George’s house,” and saw the flames licking the dark sky.

DSC_0010After putting on a robe, I went downstairs and outside where the temperature didn’t even register as cold, much less frigid.  I think I became aware of the extreme cold and the fact that I was crying, simultaneously.  Nearly three decades had disappeared in an instant – at a speed that surely rivaled the rate of that fire’s rampage through the second story of 12 Arcadia Avenue.  As the owners of the immediate neighboring houses were evacuated, we made contact with each other.  I invited them inside, offered coffee and a bathroom, a refuge with a bird’s-eye view of the devastating flames.  Texts were sent between other neighbors.  We connected and consoled each other with the fact that other than two dogs, the house was vacant at the time of the fire.

The firefighters were impressive – focused, thorough, professional and, despite the limitations placed upon them on such a narrow street, they battled the fire and contained it in a remarkably short period of time.  The sun rose and it was over.  But was it?  More vehicles arrived, vans emblazoned with K-9 Ashes on their side.  Police and more fire officials and some media.  Word started to spread – the loss of life wasn’t limited to canines, horribly a young woman’s life had been extinguished by the smoke and the flames.  Irreplaceable, unforgettable, important to those who knew and loved her, and always to be remembered, may she rest in peace.

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, musings, Observations

Creamy fettucine with leeks and bacon

My middle son and I have continued our monthly new recipe explorations, despite my not being more consistent about sharing our exploits with you all.  Last month we stepped away from Bon Appetit because everything was so damn holiday-centric and attempted Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu, a recipe we found in Cucina Italiana.  Of course, in my typical half-assed fashion, there were some modifications…apparently pappardelle is not available in Price Chopper, so I substituted fettucine.  There was also a snafu with the wild boar, or cianghiale, as I like to call it, and we had to go with ground pork in its place – whatever.  I’m cooking for teenagers and a grade-schooler.  Picky and well-traveled they may be, incredibly discerning?  Not so much.  I didn’t take any photos of that meal, although it was tasty, because it wasn’t very visually appealing, in my opinion.  I would make it again, but would be tempted to add some color with maybe a bit of tomato or carrot or something.

Last night’s dinner was this keeper from Bon Appetit.  Again, I’d be inclined to add more vegetables, although the leeks were splendid.  Maybe asparagus or sweet baby peas?  Generally, though, this was an easy recipe, rich and creamy with the lovely sweetness of essentially carmelized leeks.  And bacon – don’t forget the bacon!  Skip the calorie count and console yourself with the knowledge that it’s damn cold out and winter is the time for a bit of pasta indulgence.  Winner!

Butter, olive oil and bacon...a close second holy trinity.

Butter, olive oil and bacon…a close second holy trinity.

Leeks releasing flavor and fragrance.

Leeks releasing flavor and fragrance.

The finished item - yum!

The finished item – yum!

 

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Filed under Boys, Cooking, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, ideas, Recipes, Recommendations

Soap scum and love for the Wine Bar!

image: Joe Keegan

Check out Joe Keegan’s blog over at the TU for some tips on cleaning glass shower doors and his impressions of the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark.  I had a blast taking care of his party and was tickled to be included in his post.  I’ve been reading his blog, which deals with the painstaking, but not annoyingly so, restoration of the home he shares with his family, for a couple of years and I’m always happy when he posts a new entry.

PS.  I’m not the soap scum of which he speaks.

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Filed under Albany, drinking, Eating, favorites, Food, house, Lark Street, Recommendations, Restaurants, Wine

Gala is my 2nd favorite word for “party.”

DSC_0057A close second, I might add.  Just for the record, my most favorite is “fete,” but enough of language.  Here are the pictures which tell a thousand words!  Seeing as how everyone at the fete event looked like a million bucks, let me add a few additional words of the text variety:

  • This was a really fun crowd with many familiar faces.  Not one person declined to pose for a picture and I didn’t hear a single complaint while I worked the crowd.
  • The staff at the Hilton Crowne Plaza Albany Hotel were all professional and pleasant.
  • It was fun shooting pictures of some of the same people from Thursday’s event.  It didn’t feel indulgent or redundant – the faces you see in both photo sets are the faces of the folks who make the restaurant industry happen.
  • The Times Union merged my two galleries with another set of photos taken during Friday’s Grand Tasting event – you’ll know mine by the credit in the caption.
  • Personal shout out to a former student and his lovely fiancee* ~ It made my night to see you!  And I told you that you weren’t a Republican – thanks for listening.

*two French words in one post – Mon dieu! That’s 3…

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Filed under Albany, art, drinking, Eating, Events, favorites, Food, Local, Observations, Recommendations, Restaurants, SEEN, upstate New York, Wine, winter

Wine and Dine for the Arts weekend begins…

These are the folks, along with the chefs, who make this happen.  Bravo!

These are the folks, along with the chefs, who make this happen. Bravo!

I’m never prouder to be even an infinitesimal part of the Capital Region dining scene than I am during this (4th) annual event.  Such a terrific group of generous and hardworking – and really fun, folks that we are all lucky to have in our community.  Speaking of scene – check out my SEEN gallery over at the Times Union.  If I caught a good shot of you and you’d like the jpeg, let me know.  I’m happy to send it your way.  Maybe I’ll see you Saturday at the Gala?

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Filed under Albany, Eating, Events, favorites, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, SEEN, Uncategorized, Wine