April in Paris

imageDoesn’t April in Paris sound magical?  I’m imagining a gentle rain, lots of shades of lavender and soft yellow and frequent bon jours. Happy sigh.  As my trip gets closer, I’m spending a little time thinking about what to pack (going with a navy/grey palette) and wondering how much of my high school French will come back to me.  Un  peu, I hope.

I don’t like to travel with a firm itinerary in hand, but there are a few things I want to do in Paris.  If I were traveling solo I probably wouldn’t plan anything, but since this may be the only time I go to Paris with my son, we’ve got to hit some of the sights. Please feel free to add suggestions to the list below!

  • The top of the Eiffel Tower.  I bought tickets in advance, but wish I had thought to do it sooner since all that was left was 5pm.  Do you know if we can just kill time up there until dark or will the tickets be timed?
  • Jim Morrison’s grave (my choice) and Napoleon’s tomb (Liam’s pick).
  • Notre Dame.  I hear it’s free on the first Sunday of the month.  Think this is true even if it is Easter?
  • Sacré-Cœur
  • The Mona Lisa at the Louvre – I think we’ll buy a two-day museum pass at the airport when we land.  Do you think it is a good deal?
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Eat & drink
  • Sit in an outdoor cafe and enjoy a bottle of wine in the sun.
  • Walk and take pictures to my heart’s content.
  • Enjoy my son and family who will be joining us from Germany

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Filed under Boys, Europe, France, ideas, travel, vacation

Je m’appelle Silvia. Je déteste à voler

imageYesterday’s tragic plane crash in the French Alps has really rocked me. I’ve never been an enthusiastic flyer and horrific incidents like this amp up my anxiety about getting on a plane in the next couple of weeks. In the big picture, I don’t think it really makes a difference why the plane went down, be it equipment failure, pilot error or some other more dastardly reason like terrorism. All I know is that I’m going to France next month and I’m not feeling too psyched about flying.

Many years ago I flew to London a couple of days after the Lockerbie crash and I don’t recall considering canceling my trip for even an instant – youthful ignorance was my probably my saving grace. The security at both JFK and Heathrow was incredibly intense that December, but there wasn’t anything getting between me and my New Year’s Eve in London plans. I boarded that plane without a moment’s hesitation.

Over the years, though, I’ve become increasingly less comfortable flying. I get motion sickness and find the stale cabin air to be a petri dish of nastiness and potential sickness. Finding balance between staying hydrated and using the airplane’s bathroom facilities as infrequently as possible, is tough to manage.

There was a time when I would have had a couple of drinks before boarding in the hopes that I would pass out fall asleep but, I think the potential for a hangover is too great and I don’t want to waste prime vacation time feeling like merde. I’ve learned to take a prescription medication to help to avoid the travel sickness and yesterday afternoon I took what seems like the next logical – I phoned my doctor and requested something for air travel anxiety.  Hello, Valium prescription.

I’m not taking this step lightly, I don’t really like taking drugs, but I know I will be uncomfortable flying.  Uncomfortable in so many different ways – emotionally, mentally, physically (my hips don’t appreciate sitting for 6+ hours), too.  I can deal with physical pain or emotional or mental discomfort, but the triple whammy of all three simultaneously is a bit much.  Sleeping through some of that sounds like a bonne idée. 

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Filed under Europe, France, travel

No sleep till Brooklyn*

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My picture does NOT do the work justice. Apologies!

On Friday, despite Mother Nature’s attempt to disrupt my plans, I ventured down to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to attend my uber talented neighbor, Ken Ragsdale’s art show opening at the Front Room Gallery. As someone who doesn’t often attend gallery openings (read: hardly ever), I was a bit out of my element, and, as a person who doesn’t stray from Manhattan usually, I was definitely outside of my borough of reference. After consulting my Facebook friends regarding attire and Google maps for directions, we hit the road in the late afternoon. Next stop: The Hundred-Acre Wood!

View from the Roebling Tea Room on the first evening of spring.

View from the Roebling Tea Room on the first evening of spring.

The drive was uneventful, other than my imagination working overtime creating vivid scenarios about how the piece of Ken’s which ended up in the back of my wagon could be damaged during the trip to Brooklyn. Rear-end collision, encounter with a remarkable pothole resulting in the shattering of glass…

imageSafely parked around the corner from the gallery, wearing the suggested attire of skinny jeans, ankle boots and a cool hat, we met up with some of the Albany contingent and enjoyed a lite bite and a round of drinks at the Roebling Tea Room. My cocktail, an excellent old-fashioned with a clean, citrus element was wonderful, the small plates equally perfect.

The show was an absolute triumph. The work vividly expressed a time in the artist’s life and is truly stunning.  The presence of so many familiar faces must have made the opening a dreamy blend of memories and modern day moments.  So friggin cool.  Can’t get to Brooklyn?  Check out the group show opening Friday, 3/27/15 at the Albany International Whatever Airport right in the 518.

*This post has nothing to do with sleeping in Brooklyn or the Beastie Boys. Nothing.  I just love the sentiment.  Here – watch the video anyway.

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Filed under Albany, art, DelSo, drinking, Events, friends, Local, NYC, Recommendations, road trips, Spring

Hit the road, Jack (Frost)

imageOk, people, I’ve arrived at that place where many of you have been for weeks, if not months – I’m done with winter. As I look out my sliding glass window at the still light at 7:15 pm sky, I want to feel enticed to venture outdoors, to take a walk or run. Instead, I’m cozied up on the couch trying to decide which comes first – a hot shower or a quick nap. This does not make me happy.

Last month when it was barely 12 degrees for my son’s sledding party, I didn’t complain. During my winter break a few weeks back, there were a couple of days when it was literally too cold to be outside for more than a few minutes. I accepted it. On the first full day of spring when Mother Nature spit snow from the sky, I responded by simply changing from my Frye boots into a pair of Doc’s. No big deal.

But, today? When I went outside and felt the bone-chilling wind cut through my three layers of clothing? As I reached, again, for a hat and gloves and warmed up my car prior to going to work? I felt pissed. I’m tired of my winter wardrobe, sick of socks and wearing leggings under my jeans. I’m ready for bare legs, crisp cotton sheets and open windows, aren’t you?

It’s time, Jack Frost. You need to go.

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Filed under Exercise, Rants, winter

I never imagined

imageOn our 15th wedding anniversary, my husband and I had a special dinner at a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard. The meal was a bit of a disappointment, but the company was good.

After we had finished our meals and were somewhere between entrée and dessert, our wedding song came on over the restaurant’s speakers. I was touched and felt my eyes well with emotion. I thought to myself “we should dance.” There wasn’t a dance floor (it was a restaurant), but we could have managed a twirl or two. It was our 15th wedding anniversary.

I’ve thought back to that night a few times and wonder what might have been different if I had forced the words “we should dance” out of my mouth or if he had said “I arranged for this song to play.” If either of us had done something to demonstrate our love for the other. Would it have been enough to have prompted us to steer our ships once again to be side by side and in the same direction? I’ll never know.

By our next anniversary dinner, we were, in retrospect, clearly sailing in different directions. It was a fancy meal, perfectly executed and filled with laughter. We met the chef-owner and there were many bottles of wine uncorked. My feet hurt in their new shoes. It was good to feel something.

It’s almost 5 years later now and I never dreamed this life that I’m living. I write and run and work and eat and take pictures and I love, love, love. I feel more alive than I’ve ever felt and am equally inspired by today and the thought of tomorrow. Things may not have gone the way I imagined they would, but as an inherently grounded person, my imagination is sometimes too timid.

I never imagined I’d quote Hugh Hefner but he said it perfectly:

“In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined a sweeter life.”

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Filed under aging, love, marriage, musings, relationships, writing

Hips don’t lie…

…but sometimes they do cry. As I transition from a season of x-country skiing to being back on the pavement, my hips are screaming in protest. They really do prefer the glide of skis on powder to the pounding of feet on sidewalks.  It’s going to be a long spring/summer/fall if the hips and I can’t find a way to get along.  Maybe you have some tips to share?  

image: http://images.ethicalocean.com

Before we get to that, let me tell you what I’ve been doing to make friends with my ever-so-important hips:

  • Intense massage with active stretches
  • Yoga – at least one 75 minute class a week.  Last weekend I got lucky and took a class with The Hot Yoga Spot‘s Aaron.  He introduced the theme as “Hips: heaven or hell.”  Perfect!!  It really was just what I needed.
  • Lots of pigeon pose
  • Alleve
  • Slow-paced runs
  • Hot baths (with bubbles and sometimes a glass of wine)

So – what have you got?  Am I missing something?  What else can I do to loosen up these damn hips?

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Filed under Exercise, running, Uncategorized, x-country skiing, zaftig

Testing boundaries

Last week I attended a meeting sponsored by the NYS Alliance for Public Education. The forum discussed current controversies and issues in public education including the Common Core Learning Standards, teacher evaluations, Governor Cuomo’s 2015 Education Budget and the NYS assessments given to elementary students in grades 3-8.

My interest in attending the meeting was more personal than professional, I have a child in 4th grade who will be expected to sit for multiple days worth of testing later in spring. At this time I am actively seeking information about the credibility of the exams and the impact they may have on my child, his teacher(s) and his school. His experience with the tests last year began the very first week of third grade when he came home from school talking with concern about the assessments he would have to take 7 months later. The very same tests which we wouldn’t even receive the results of for more than a year after that first conversation.

The presentation was professionally delivered and informative. I left with a sheaf of papers and the commitment to do a bit of research before making a final decision regarding my own child’s participation in next month’s assessments. A day later, I saw this document shared on Facebook and immediately became outraged. A friend of mine (who has been involved in the news business for more than two decades), suggested I look at the document a little more critically. I mean, is it feasible that a big testing company would really be monitoring the social media accounts of millions of students?

Apparently, the answer is “yes.” I suppose all it would take would be a bot of sorts to troll hashtags focusing on things like #Pearson and #PARCC, right? Geez, Pearson could probably spend some of the $108 million they were paid by the state of New Jersey to actually hire a person or two to monitor Twitter and other social media platforms, if they chose to.

I’ve spent an almost combined 40 years being a student and teacher. I remember excitedly taking the CAT tests, confident in my abilities to demonstrate my knowledge. Sitting down with my sharpened #2 pencils in the cafeteria felt like a special treat, not a stress inducing threat. I’m not opposed to testing in theory, but the commercialization of education, complete with a single vendor who provides curriculum, assessment and remediation for those scoring poorly on tests doesn’t sit right with me. I think we’ll pass on the tests this year.

A couple of other related posts to read:

Bob Braun’s Ledger
Diane Ravitch’s post

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Filed under Boys, Education, News, Schools