Category Archives: Aloysius

Mountain (without the) Jam

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Aloysius

Last year’s memories of Mountain Jam are a bit tainted. I’d had a really rough morning, thanks to my middle son, and my early afternoon proved that the day could, in fact, become even worse. As always, my friends pulled me through that day and were once again on hand this year to replace any previous negative associations with laughter – and beer.

Unlike previous years, the weather was spectacular. I think this May have been the first time I attended this show wearing anything other than rain boots. We successfully smuggled some sunscreen in and I do not regret my criminal decision. I would have fried without repeated doses of #30.

Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson

The music was great! Chris Robinson (from the Black Crowes) has a new project and I appreciated their set more than I had enjoyed his band when I saw them last. Sean Lennon performed with his band, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, and while I may not have been familiar with his band, it was really cool watching the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono making music. He’s definitely rocking his father’s look and vibe.

Sean Lennon

Sean Lennon

As far as Michael Franti goes – well, sign me up to be a member of his church. He preaches good vibes, positivity and love and I’m a believer. He is one of the most inspiring and alive performers I have ever seen and this show was awesome. Musical joy. The Allman Brothers played a super set of rock and roll. As always, their songs seemed to have risen up from some dank mud which also happened to have bred the blues and jazz.  While we didn’t stay for their encore, we did hit the road satiated and completely satisfied with our day.

Michael Franti

Michael Franti

A couple of random things -

  • Security was pretty strict and did not permit food or aerosol cans to be brought in.  A bit of a bummer for those on a budget or who had packed cans of sunscreen.
  • I ate a delicious bratwurst sandwich, with everything, thank you very much.  And an ice  cream sundae!  Beers were reasonably priced ($6 for decent drafts) and a full bar within the lodge was also available.
  • Offered as continued evidence that it is indeed a small world, I ran into not one but, two, guys I knew from when I was married.  I hadn’t seen either in years and it was more pleasant than awkward.

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Filed under Aloysius, beer, concerts, friends, Music, road trips, upstate New York

What makes a tradition?

unnamedI remember Aloysius asking me that very question a couple of years ago as the Laker guys and I started talking about revisiting Mountain Jam. Since we had all gone together the previous year, was returning to the festival for a second time, in fact, a tradition? Operating on the premise that traditions bring us closer as friends and family, we decided it was. This June, we’ll hopefully be honoring that tradition for consecutive year. Rock on.

In March 2011 I skied for the first time at Belleayre Mountain. When I say “first time” I mean, I’d never really skied before and I’d never been to Belleayre. I was participating in a winter triathlon and I only took one run down the mountain, but I remember grinning like a fool as I cautiously wove my way down the mountain. The view was gorgeous and the novelty of actually having edges on my skis gave me, a veteran cross-country skier, a new sensation. I loved it.

During the winter of 2012-13, I got back down there twice, once for Ski School with my youngest son and once just to enjoy the slopes with Aloysius. That second visit was on a beautiful late winter day in March. The skiing was great as was the novelty of enjoying a cold beer midway down the mountain in the warmth of the bright sunshine. Sublime.

Yesterday, I made my way down that way again. My map app offered a number of different routes and I chose the one which took me along local roads through Greene and Ulster counties, in no rush despite having been robbed of an hour due to daylight savings time. The drive was beautiful with a sky alternating between flurry-filled and sunny.

I pulled into the parking lot just before noon, with perfect timing to take advantage of the half-day rate of $90 for rentals and life ticket, and to meet friends who had gotten an earlier start. As has been my experience on previous visits, the staff was incredibly pleasant and helpful. I obviously don’t have a lot of experience with skiing or the skiing lifestyle, but the folks here are excellent ambassadors to a novice like me. I particularly appreciated when the young guy who fitted me for skis remarked that I “looked like an athlete.” Yes, and thank you very much for noticing, my new friend.

I got in a couple of runs on the easy trails, gradually becoming confident as the moves became more familiar, prior to meeting up with my friends. We had lunch together in the base lodge and then took one run together on a moderate trail that I remembered from prior years. Chrissy remarked that I skied with a lot of control, a fair enough observation. I have no interest in getting hurt, I just want to enjoy being outdoors – the fresh air, the mountains, the sounds of my skis cutting through the snow.  My friends left and I returned to the chairlift again and again until I was cold and ready to warm up and head north again.

While I wish I had the time and the money to get to Belleayre more frequently, I’m okay with only getting there a time or two a season.  After all, the traditions I most treasure, like Mountain Jam, are those which only occur once a year.  That being said, if anyone wants to head down there before the snow disappears for another year – hit me up.  I’m in.

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Filed under Aloysius, beauty, Exercise, friends, road trips, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter

Vision

What once was lost, is found.

What once was lost is found.

The most remarkable thing happened this week – an occurrence which could be considered as a divine lesson about yielding control and letting the miraculous happen. I mean, if you’re inclined to think that way. Decide for yourself.

My youngest son, who has extremely poor eyesight, placed (with great care, I’m sure) his glasses on a sandbar when he decided to swim instead of merely wade. Naturally, the tide was coming in with increasing enthusiasm and force and his glasses quickly disappeared, never to be seen again.

A woman observing our directed stares as we carefully searched the beach, told me not to completely lose heart. She said that her family had sacrificed a pair of goggles to the current only to have them returned the very next day at low tide. Come back tomorrow, she said. Don’t give up.

As we left the beach and walked past the few boulders which act as a boundary to the parking area, we saw a pair of glasses carefully placed on one of the large rocks. Apparently a pair of glasses had been found and were waiting to be reclaimed. Of course, Quinn tried them on and declared them to be perfect, a miraculous “fact” I quickly rejected as I asked my son to put the glasses back for the rightful owner.

Low tide was after dark so we returned the following morning for a thorough search of the area. Despite our best efforts, we turned up nothing beyond an addition or two to our shell collection. No glasses. Arrangements were made to have a back up pair of glasses delivered. We moved on.

In the late afternoon I received the following text from my friend, Aloysius: “Have q’s glasses.” Huh? Really?! It seems that after a full afternoon of kayaking, my friend and my oldest son had come ashore at the beach where Quinn’s glasses had gone to sea. As Aloysius picked up his dropped towel, he noticed a pair of glasses on a lower rail of the nearby fence. Liam quickly identified them as his brother’s and the tale of the glasses’ disappearance immediately became the story of their reappearance. How utterly amazing!

What’s the take away? For Quinn, I hope, it is a lesson about being more careful with his possessions, especially items necessary for his essential senses to properly operate. The lesson I’m focusing on is to accept loss while understanding that the possibility for being reunited remains. How about you? Any lessons about loss and recovery to share?

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Filed under Aloysius, Boys, Cape Cod, family, friends, Observations, Summer, vacation

Ingredients for a perfect summer day…

  • Waffles with NYS maple syrup
  • Finding the unicorn of beaches and being only the second family to arrive and stake claim to the pond.
  • An outdoor shower

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  • Lunch, including spicy bloody Mary and lobster salad, and a walk around Edgartown. Solo.
  • A scoop of Mad Martha’s butter crunch. With jimmies.
  • My 10 minute nap.
  • An easy dinner of takeout pizza, even when complicated by bad GPS directions.
  • Taking a fantastic run over rolling hills in the dusk.
  • A salad with feta cheese and avocado.
  • One glass of Aloysius’ sangria – even though I wanted more.
  • A candlelit outdoor shower.

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Filed under Aloysius, favorites, Martha's Vineyard, Summer, vacation

A love letter to Belleayre Mountain

This is my happy face.

This is my happy face.

Maybe it is because this was the first place I ever truly skied.  Perhaps it is a result of the stunning panoramic views in every direction.  It may be because of the friendliness of every staff member I’ve ever encountered.  Or, it might be because of the all-things-considered reasonableness of the price of a lift ticket and rentals.  This past Sunday, the spectacular weather was definitely a factor.

Whatever it is, I absolutely love Belleayre Mountain.  If you know me, you are aware that my general expectation is not “perfection.” I actually find it to be a bit overrated as a measurement.  Yet, Sunday, I heard myself saying “perfect” an uncountable number of times.  It truly was a day of skiing that I will have a hard time ever matching, much less surpassing, regardless of how many seasons I revisit those slopes.

Why was it so special?  Well, the drive south was beautiful, as winter and spring continued to switch places for a few days.  Getting my equipment and lift ticket was a breeze, and I was on the chairlift within 20 minutes of parking my car.  The snow was soft, the sun was blazing and the sky was blue.  I was traveling light (sans boys), hanging with Aloysius and his next generation, and feeling absolutely giddy on sunshine and life.  To all of you who weren’t there – I’m sincerely sorry you missed the opportunity to feel the joy of gliding down a mountain with the warmth of the sun on your back.  Or the simple happiness of a tasty beer sipped al fresco midway down the slopes.  Bliss.

Upon my return to Albany, the only way I could possibly punctuate a day that glorious was with a terrific dinner at the Capital City Gastropub and my first TasteeFreez visit of the year.  It may not get any better than this, but, no worries, I’ll continue to keep trying.  Kisses – Silvia

That would be a sundae - with nuts.

That would be a sundae – with nuts.

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Filed under Aloysius, beauty, Eating, Exercise, favorites, Recommendations, road trips, skiing, snow, sunday, upstate New York, winter

Schooled on skiing

So cute!

So cute!

I spent most of my childhood in a village nestled in a valley between two (smallish) mountains.  Each of these mountains was home to a (smallish) ski resort.  Despite the proximity of these places to experience skiing, I personally never availed myself of the opportunity.  Skiing was always a bit beyond the budget, a fact that I recognized and accepted without question.

My first real chance to ski was as a newlywed.  We were visiting with some friends in Vermont and the plan was to ski, with borrowed equipment, from the condo to the base of the hill where we would purchase our lift tickets and enjoy an afternoon of outdoor activity.  Sounds fine, right?  Skis over my shoulder, I joined the others for the walk through the parking lots of the condo complex.  We arrived at the place where we were to snap into our skis and I looked down that hill, the whole time thinking about my lack of health insurance, and just knew it wasn’t happening for me.  I happily went back to the condo and  read the afternoon away, relieved to have avoided the certainty of a broken leg.

Years later, I had a one hour private ski lesson at Bousquet Mountain in the Berkshires.  At that point I was a fairly accomplished cross-country skier and, other than the icy mound I had to face as I disembarked the chairlift, I was pretty comfortable negotiating my way down the hills after my lesson.  Skiing was a fun activity, but not something for which I felt a burning excitement.  I was content with the affordability of cross-country and I loved the fact that I could keep my equipment in my car and take advantage of the opportunity to ski at a moment’s notice.  Winters began to feel much shorter.

Other than a winter triathlon that I participated in (“competed” in being too strong of a word), I didn’t ski again until this year and, I want to tell you, something has changed.  Skiing suddenly seems like a lot of fun and I am very much looking forward to getting back on the slopes with the frequency allowed by my budget and calendar.  Maybe it’s all the running I’ve been doing, but I find downhill skiing to be easier than cross-country. The ability to turn as I glide down hill, as opposed to skiing down the hills at Albany Muni on long skis without real edges, makes controlling my speed much more manageable.  My legs are strong and although I expected to feel some residual soreness after my day at Belleayre, I didn’t have the slightest muscle tenderness to remind me of the fun I had enjoyed.

Speaking of enjoyment, Aloysius and I brought along our generation next boys and planted them in Kids Camp for the day.  It was an investment ($100 + lunch), but we enjoyed knowing they were getting some quality instruction (2 to 1 ratio with the instructor) while we were exploring the mountain.  We had a great view of their activities from the lodge, beers firmly in hand, and they seemed to be having a good time together.  As far as the little guys enjoying the whole skiing thing, the jury is out on that.  I can tell you they probably had more fun than their teacher who noted that although the boys might be the best of “vacation buddies,” they certainly weren’t the best “learning buddies.”  What can I say – they’re lively boys.  They’ve got years ahead of them to learn to love to ski.  Trust me.

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Filed under Aloysius, Boys, Camp, Exercise, family, friends, Recommendations, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter

“I’ve already told you so much more than I know.” – Richard Russo

Forgive me if I’m still blushing, but, last night  I met one of my literary heroes and I’m still feeling a bit girlish.  Richard Russo participated in a panel discussion about translating the novel to the screen as part of the Williamstown Film Festival and, thanks to Joe Donahue sharing that information on air, I was front and center, literally.  No, really, I sat in the front row within 15 feet of Rick (as his co-panelists called him) and was utterly charmed by him.  I’ll tell you everything

About 5 years ago, I went on a Russo kick and read all of the novels he had published.  I was taken by his frankness, his nonjudgmental characterizations of the people who populated his world.  (Let me just say one thing, I have a degree in English, yet I feel unqualified to really talk literature.) Here’s how I see Richard Russo – he is the John Irving of upstate New York.  He’s one of us. He sees people in a respectful  manner, reserving his own judgment and simply allowing their story to be told.  I love his ability to make me smile and shake my head in a single sentence.  Amazing!  My favorite of Russo’s works is Bridge of Sighs and this is the piece that quaked me:

But each of them had walked through an open door, then heard it slam shut behind them and the mechanism lock.  While neither regretted her decision, knowing the door was locked was disconcerting just the same, as was the fact that their husbands, if they’d heard that same slam and click, seemed untroubled by it.  If anything, knowing there was no turning back was reassuring to them.  They never felt trapped,, never wondered about the mountain road not taken, never felt as though some important part of them was withering as another flourished, never were greedy for what they didn’t have and would never experience.”

Holy shit!  I had never heard that sensation described so accurately – much less by a male author emoting for a female character.  That was deep, sensitive, insightful, intense.  I grabbed my little black book and, after reading the passage an additional 1/2 dozen times or so, noted the passage.

I’ve shared this extended quote a time or two with friends that I knew would be moved by the words – male and female.  I certainly never imagined having an opportunity  to tell the author of those words how powerful I had found them to be. Goodness, I live a good and lucky life, because there I was at the Clark Art Museum walking down the hall next to Russo and telling him he inspired me to get divorced.  Just kidding!  Well, I did say that, but I was only kidding about his being to blame for my marital status.  I will, however, hold him completely responsible for writing words that truly inspire and move me, a state of being that I can only hope continues for many years, and books, to come.

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Filed under Aloysius, Books, Events, favorites, Williamstown