Crying with a “purpose” and laughing when “life is beautiful”

9FFEF99C-3B5B-4088-8289-19E0167F6853A Dog’s Purpose” crushed me. I knew it was a bad idea to watch this movie, yet cuddled on the couch with my boy, I thought I’d make it through ok. I didn’t. It’s probably time for me to accept the fact that I can’t tolerate watching animals or humans, particularly children, being mistreated and dying. It guts me. It probably started with “Old Yeller,” a classic book turned movie that ended, for me, with a horrific gunshot. I understand that the movie actually ends with a new puppy and some happiness, but, by the time that final scene occurred, I was already in my room crying into my pillow.

How Jeter and I slept after watching “A Dog’s Purpose.”

After watching “A Dog’s Purpose, “Old Yeller” seems almost  cloyingly sweet. You see, unlike the dog in the more recent movie, Old Yeller mercifully only had to die once. The only thing worse for me than watching the same dog die multiple times is my newfound and overwhelming feeling that Jeter is narrating our life together. Thanks to that damn movie I keep wondering if my dog is sharing his thoughts and experiences like Bailey did. If he is, I hope that it’s a good story he’s telling.

Speaking of good stories, the Italian film “Life is Beautiful” is one that will remain with you long after the final credits role. Although the movie is more than 20 years old, the impact of the story and the performances remains vivid and I strongly encourage you to watch it whether it’s your first time or your tenth. Humor and the holocaust don’t go together in a single sentence often, but this film manages to combine the two into a tour de force that touched me deeply.

If you’re not familiar with “Life is Beautiful” the movie, set in Italy during WW II, tells the story of a Jewish waiter, Guido, who works to hide the reality of concentration camp life to his young son by presenting their situation as a game they must try to win. His commitment to making the best of their circumstances to protect his child and assure his wife of their well being is inspiring. The depth of love he exhibits for his wife and child in many ways transcends the horrors of their circumstances and managed to lift my heart despite the film’s inherent sadness. I need to watch this movie more frequently. It is simply beautiful – watch it with your family over the holidays.

Have you seen either (or both) of these movies? What movie makes you cry?

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Music to my ears – Modern English and Albert Cummings

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My new favorite cocktail – Cimarron Tequila,Pear Liqueur, Allspice Dram, Lemon Juice

2017 has been a year of great live performances, with a couple of exceptions. The most recent disappointing musical act I saw was Modern English at The Hollow earlier this month. I was so excited for this throwback band – the timing was ideal (the night before a holiday), I had plenty of friends going and their big single “I’ll Stop the World and Melt With You” is a classic 80s tune. What could go wrong?

Well, the tickets ($25) said 8:00 and we arrived pretty close to that time only to find the band’s equipment just being loaded into the venue. After about 20 or 30 minutes, some guys got on stage without introduction (that I heard at least) and played a song that was so friggin loud that we left the spot we had nabbed near the back bar and headed to the dining area where we wouldn’t be blasted at an obscene volume. Shortly after they left the stage an opening act came on and played some noise that just didn’t appeal to us, so we left and grabbed a drink at dp’s. Come to think about it, that drink (the Autumn in Jalisco) was probably the best part of the night. Maybe tequila isn’t just for summer.

We went back to The Hollow at about 10:30 and Modern English was just coming on stage. We stood about 20-25 feet back from the stage, but again, the music was damn loud that I just couldn’t deal. By this point, I was pretty much thinking “just play the song so I can go home, please.” They didn’t hear my mental plea, so I left. Too late and too loud = no fun for me.

Now, last night I had a completely different experience. After vowing to not squander an infrequent Saturday night off, my favorite guy and I made a pretty darn spontaneous decision to check out a blues performer downtown at The Upper Room. The space was new to us (I never went to Jillian’s) and had two distinct areas depending upon whether one had purchased general admission tickets ($20 at the door) or made a reservation prior to the show. We weren’t able to get a table so we instead staked out a spot near the railing which divided the sections and had a decent view of the stage and excellent proximity to the bar.

B44FCCA2-7D59-4CF3-B07C-B2C690A38E50Albert Cummings has played around Albany a number of times, but it was our first time seeing him and from start (when we walked past him behind the venue) to finish (when guitar geek guy copped a pick and we complimented the band on their set) it was an awesome show. The sound mix was solid, the volume was on point and the crowd was enthusiastic and fun. I was disappointed by the lack of cider as a beverage option, but the Jack’s Abbey Oktoberfest that we opted for was so very tasty that I had three. Yes, three!

Somehow I missed the fact that The Upper Room was doing a blues series, but there is one more show scheduled for next month and I’d go back again in a heartbeat. The show started on time, the band was tight (that drummer!) and the value in terms of price was terrific. I’ve enjoyed other shows (and meals) at The Hollow and will continue to keep an eye on their events calendar. Multiple entertainment options downtown are a good thing. Now, if we could just get some residents to occupy some of the space above the businesses downtown, we’d really be making progress, Albany.

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Time is short

I’ve been so busy doing things and going places that I haven’t had a moment to chronicle any of it. It’s kind of getting me frustrated, but that’s how I typically react to not having what I want – in this case more time. I’ve made some notes and I swear I’m going to carve out some time over Thanksgiving break (See what I did there? Carve??) to share things that I’ve seen (an 80s band, some television and a couple of movies), a couple of books that I’ve recently read, some delicious things I’ve enjoyed eating and drinking, a week focused on health maintenance, and a couple of Albany experiences that I was lucky enough to take in. Stay tuned.

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An extra hour, a yoga retreat and your favorite breakfast

E5C504E6-72A5-4AD2-90EE-14230974B2E6When I get busy the first thing to get eliminated from my calendar is yoga. I almost wrote “yoga practice,” but quickly decided that phrase would be overstating my commitment to yoga. I mean, I always feel better after I take a class, but making it to a class, even just weekly, is often a challenge for me. I do my best, you know? Anyway, the recent time change gave me only an additional hour, but I was able to parlay that into a full day of various classes and activities thanks to an offering from my favorite studio, The Hot Yoga Spot.

The day began with a really beautiful drive, orchestrated by WAZE, out to the hill town, Berne. The actual location for the retreat was Switzkill Farm, a property I learned was previously a pheasant farm and a Tibetan Buddhist retreat, but is now community owned. The house, situated atop a hill with glorious views, is the kind of dwelling that makes me fantasize about packing up and leaving the city for more rural digs – beautiful, a bit sprawling and absolutely ripe for cosmetic upgrades.

We convened in what must be the living room, adorned on three sides with windows and a large fireplace anchoring the space. I think there were perhaps 30 or so participants and our mats got arranged in rows facing the front of the room and, beyond, the Helderberg Mountains. Prior to beginning our practice, we were invited to introduce ourselves and share our favorite breakfast – a tough choice for me because I basically like everything breakfast – pancakes, French toast, eggs and omelets, cereal, fruit and yogurt, oatmeal, bagels and pastry…there are no bad breakfast choices in my world! I don’t know – it’s generally the first chance in a new day to provide nourishment to your physical self, isn’t it? I just can’t imagine not eating breakfast. How about you?

We settled on our mats and began what would be a 90-minute yoga class. The instructor was new to me and she gave us a great class with plenty of ab work. Next up was a breathing workshop, which isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, but there were some cool methods demonstrated and I have to admit to adding one particular technique to my toolkit for middle of the night insomnia episodes. Lunch followed and, despite the limitations of my pre-colonoscopy diet, I was able to enjoy my wrap with hummus and cheese, and especially the gluten-free cookies.

We headed outdoors for a walk through the woods which was a perfect digestif. The trails we were on were beautiful and I can see how the Dalai Lama found the property so appealing. It was lovely. By this point in the day, I had almost hit the end of my self-indulgence limit but I’m really glad I decided to participate in the 30-minute Barre inspired class. It brought me to exactly where I wanted to be – satiated without being exhausted. I cut out before the meditation and flow classes but was completely satisfied with my day and the excellent value I received for my $75 fee.

I’ve not been to Kripalu or any other facility specifically for yoga, but this event definitely leaves me open to exploring other retreats in the future. Would you have one to recommend?

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Vote No

I’m done with apologizing for my eventual pension and benefits. I fulfilled the educational requirements for a professional career, received a state license, and have worked more than two decades in public education to provide students with necessary intellectual and practical skills.

It’s been a privilege to get to know so many young people and quite frankly they, along with my colleagues, are the best part of my job. Despite what your impression may be, it isn’t always easy to be an educator. The hoops we’ve been forced to jump through in terms of testing and professional evaluations have stolen hours upon hours of time that could be better spent teaching and providing our students with opportunities for growth and individual attention. Bureaucracy has always been, to me, the Achilles heel of education.

In less than ten years I will retire and receive a pension and yes, Fred LeBrun, you can call it generous. I’m really sorry that you, Mr. LeBrun, work for a company that doesn’t do the right thing for their own employees, but I don’t believe that means I don’t deserve to have a good quality of life in my later years. In fact, I think it’s really unfortunate that every person in our incredibly wealthy country can’t look forward to having the same.

It seems to me that our collective efforts would be better spent working together to provide all Americans with an existence that allows for a stable life rather than attempting to eliminate teacher pensions through an opening of the New York State Constitution. We need to stop accepting the ever-widening wage disparity in our country and come together to demand health care and retirement benefits for all citizens. We’ve earned it.

Vote on November 7th – and don’t forget to address both the front and the back of the ballot.

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I’m no shill

You will never confuse me with that Sarah Huckabee Sanders – I could never lie the way that woman does. Seriously? How does she sleep at night? Nope, you couldn’t pay me enough to stand up, much less in front of an audience, and tell people shit that just isn’t true. It’s not my way.

If I like something, or someone, I’m going to tell you about it. Recently I mentioned in an Instagram post a few of my favorite things, including a new hair product made by 58flora. Full disclosure: this small, independent company is owned by a childhood friend. I was introduced to this small line of beauty products last month when I attended Field & Supply, an upscale craft market held in Kingston.

I’m no stranger to high end hair products, choosing Frederic Fekkai  and Malin & Goetz  as my go-to shampoo and conditioner lines. Yes, they’re expensive, but a little goes a long way and I only wash my hair twice a week usually – and that’s where 58flora’s hair parfum comes into play. This organic spray, made from fragrant botanicals, has been the perfect addition to my low maintenance hair regime. I spritz my uncombed mop of hair 3 or 4 times and then do a combination scrunch/fingercombing and my hair has been looking banging. My curls are soft and touchable and my frizz has been tamed beautifully. The texture of my hair is definitely improved – it feels thicker and less dry than it used to and I really couldn’t be happier.

Interested? Check them out over the weekend down in Woodstock when they’ll be participating at Phoenicia Flea.  I can’t make it to Woodstock this weekend, but don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve got this  going on instead and my holy basil + rose hair parfum supply is solid. Hope your weekend is looking as good as my hair!

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3 (Lunar) b*tches and a witch

On a recent and beautiful Sunday morning all three of the Lunar b*tches rendezvoused in Greenwich to run our last scheduled trail race of the season, the Wandering Witch. It was our first time running in this event and we couldn’t have asked for more ideal conditions – the sun was shining, foliage was popping and the scene was completely chill. Truly, perfect race conditions.

Start time was a civilized 9:30, which allowed for plenty of time for packet pickup and use of the real bathrooms. It also provided us with the opportunity to introduce ourselves to a woman we’ve each noticed in other races. I don’t generally approach strangers, but she was familiar to each of us and had a librarian related sticker on her car – done. Turns out she has almost 20 years on me, yet still managed to beat my ass in that particular 10k. Bravo, sister!

The course was a two lap jaunt through the woods, over some hills and around a few turns. Nobody really likes races that simply multiple a 5k route twice to get a 10k or thrice* for. 15k, but this course was so beautiful, that two times around was a treat. So pretty!

I didn’t finish dfl, but I was one of the last finishers. I just didn’t have any juice that day and ended up getting diagnosed with a sinus inflection a few days post-race. If I needed consolation for running this race, my state of health would be a reasonable one. Everyone who got to enjoy that morning was a winner already.

*thrice cracks me up!

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