Category Archives: writing

Man crush Monday

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Image: theblogistashouse.files.com

This is my first attempt at noting this weekly event so forgive me if I fail to acknowledge it appropriately. I’m a word girl and my crushes are literary, not literal and, since I’m a librarian, I’ll give them to you alphabetically.

The most local of my crushes and the only dedicated nonfiction writer is Paul Grondahl. Reading Paul’s work in the Albany Times Union has taught me an incredible amount about writing, my community and life. I wish I knew how many stories of Paul’s I read before I began to recognize a consistency in my response to his words, to note his byline. His ability to present human beings in an utterly nonjudgmental fashion is truly an art and we in the Capital District are so very fortunate to have access to his words.

Recently, Paul visited one of the schools where I teach and hearing him speak only caused me to admire him more. He shared his experiences along with his suggestions for conducting quality research and when he spoke disparagingly of Wikipedia, I felt my crush deepen. Absolutely dreamy!

My longest term literary crush would have to be John Irving. I believe The Cider House rules was my introduction to his work and, captivated by his talent, I quickly read each of his novels. After many years, I recently reread A Widow for One Year and was once again charmed by Irving’s ability to convey a story about individuals and, for lack of a better phrase, the human condition. His characters are both blazingly unique and potentially our next door neighbors. It’s magical.

Of the three writers I’m crushing on, John Irving is the only one I haven’t been fortunate enough to meet. Yet. He’s kind of overdue for a new novel and I would love to catch him on tour, so if you happen to hear about him being around (and by “around” I mean within a 150 mile radius), please let me know.

And my final literary crush? You know – I love Richard Russo with an ardor that rivals Band Aid Penny Lane’s obsession with Still Water. Really. What that man can do with words on a page is remarkable and I can’t imagine ever growing weary of their sound. His novel, Bridge of Sighs, just might be my favorite book ever. The voices of the characters are so true and honest when they narrate and the emotions they share so raw, that I find myself rereading this book almost annually. It moves me.

Exactly what one wants from a crush, right?

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Wading in with my new wellies

bought these last month in Ireland - hasn't rained since.

Bought these last month in Ireland – hasn’t rained since.

Let me open with a nod to Saratoga in August: I’ve got no horse in this race. I state this has an attempt to assure you that I have no investment in the current Capital District food blogging dust-up. But while I don’t really care either way about who is “right,” I’m not without some opinions. Which I’d like to share, naturally. Hell, everyone else has, so why not?

I’m not 100% clear on the exact chronology of things, but it seems that Daniel over at the Fussy Little Blog wrote something about the food culture of the Capital District. Now, Daniel isn’t a native, something he doesn’t attempt to hide, and he has a critical eye and high expectations. He often is disappointed, yet remains surprisingly optimistic about where things are going food-wise in the Albany area. We aren’t always in agreement – he will never understand my devotion to Cafe Capriccio, nor my fondness for Emperor’s Palace, and I’m ok with that. I suspect he is too, because he does give me a coveted link from is blog.

Michelle Hines Abrams of MHA Innovations, is someone I’m familiar with due to our sharing mutual friends. We often seen one another at events and our encounters are always pleasant. I could be wrong, but, from my observations of her social networking activities, I assume she is employed in some capacity as a public relations professional by various restaurants and other hospitality outfits. I’ve frequently wondered what her position is and how she was fortunate enough to have created a career in which she spends her time wining and dining. Sounds pretty satisfying to me. Lucky her!

Well, Michelle wrote a piece which kind of read, to me, as diatribe in defense of the Capital District restaurant scene. In all honesty, I didn’t read the complete post because it was too damn long. I think it would have been more effective broken up into smaller, more manageable bites, but, again that’s just me.

I don’t regularly read Michelle’s blog, but a lot of what she posts on Facebook seems to be links to published stories from other sources. Not so much innovative, more a regurgitation. I don’t intend that as a harsh criticism (who am I?), original writing isn’t always necessary in a blog, right? Many bloggers accumulate hits based upon give-aways and polls, promoting other people’s work is in a similar vein, I suppose. Whatever.

From what I understand, Daniel is an advertising guy – or was in a previous life, at least. If Michelle is indeed a professional hospitality industry booster, I would imagine they have more in common than either would ever admit. They both have experience with promotion, no?

The fact that they are in such disagreement over the state of the local food scene is a little amusing. More than that, though, it is proof that there is more of a local food scene than there ever has been before. Believe me, 25-years-ago there wouldn’t have been sufficient mud for either of them to lob at the other.

I think I’ll just keep my boots on and see what happens next. How about you?

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Filed under Albany, Eating, Food, Local, Observations, Random, Restaurants, writing

The Paris Wife

Though I often looked for one, I finally had to admit that there could be no cure for Paris.” Isn’t that an inspired opening line?  I, regrettably, just finished reading The Paris Wife and all I can do is sigh that it is over.  Wow, I almost feel as if I just had 2 trips to Europe, one via a printed time machine, to those heady expatriate days I originally fell in love with while reading Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and A Moveable Feast.   In this creative,  fictionalized retelling of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage, author Paula McLain has told a completely captivating tale of a time with which I could easily become utterly obsessed.  Ok, maybe I already have.

A long time ago, I took a course, or two, on Hemingway and pretty much read everything he wrote.  I had a bit of a conflict between my Women’s Studies minor and Papa’s misogynist ways, but overall, I was smitten.  His use of language, his characters, the romanticism of the time period and the settings.  I became an admirer and have never wavered in my affection for his talent, or my fascination with his life.

In the Paris Wife, McLain has beautifully recreated those days and tells the tale from Hadley* Richardson Hemingway’s perspective.  The debauchery and drinking, the traveling from city to city, country to country, the presence of other famous literary personalities and characters… I absolutely could not stop reading this book.  I was completely taken in by the story, one which was familiar to me from my studies, and truly feel as if I was given a bird’s-eye view to the birth and subsequent death of a marriage, along with the nearly mythical career of one of America’s finest writers.

Fascinating, well-researched and written, this is the best novel I’ve read since Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken.    Get it.

*Hadley was my “girl name” if I ever had a daughter.

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Moms@Work

image:ironpupil.blogspot.com

Here’s my introductory post for the new (to me) project. The picture cracks me up – especially since Quinn recently asked me “How come you don’t just use your third hand, Mom?”

Check it out and comment!  These are busy, exciting days.  Share them with me, please.

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Filed under Boys, family, moms, Moms@Work, Recommendations, writing

Santa Speedo Sprint!

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Pretty darn cute, right?

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Quinn is like the paparazzi!

Winter  WonderLark, continues to be my favorite annual Lark street event.  My little guy and I have gone three years in a row and we always have a good time.  When I pitched the plan to him late last week, I mentioned the race with all the Santas.  He looked at me blankly.  When I refreshed his memory with the UAG’s gingerbread decorating festivities, he perked up and immediately began listing all the decorative (and edible, natch) candies he enjoyed in years past while decorating his house and/or cookies.  I learned two things from this exchange – 1. He has an excellent memory for details relating to candy and 2. He apparently has not yet been traumatized enough by the sight of a couple of hundred under-dressed, fun folks racing by us as we shout encouragement and take photos.

Here’s this year’s set of pictures:

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Christmas, Events, favorites, holidays, Lark Street, Recommendations, writing