Monthly Archives: January 2018

Handing things over to you

Despite Monday feeling colder than the thermometer claimed, after school I grabbed Jeter and headed to the golf course for a walk. It is my goal, you know, to give him the best life a dog has ever known and he needed the exercise. We were greeted by a small herd of dogs, with labradors already well represented, and devoted a few minutes to playtime before heading to one of our favorite wooded trails.

As we walked, I was aware of soreness in my legs from the 15K I had run the previous day. My quads particularly felt tight and I was glad I had made the effort to get out and give them a stretch. My hands, warm in cozy gloves, also felt tight. I’ve really been struggling with jar lids, jewelry clasps and tasks which require dexterity and it’s making me kind of nervous. Unlike my legs which only talk to me after a long or aggressive run, the pain in my hands is unpredictable. Some days I struggle to fasten buttons or Jeter’s leash, while other days I have almost no issues. Sometimes, though, I accidentally bang my hand and the discomfort (see how I try to avoid saying “pain?”) takes my breath away. It’s on the list of topics to discuss at my upcoming physical.

What do you do when your body begins complaining about your actions? Do you work harder to keep things moving? Modify your activities? Address the objections with a pill or two? Maybe you use some magical combination of all of the preceding to muscle through? What are the options when slowing down isn’t a choice?

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Filed under aging, Exercise, medical, musings, running

Roman holiday

It seems like forever ago that I found a cheap ticket to Rome and made the close to spontaneous decision to grab my Amex card and jump on the deal. The date of my trip, though, is finally approaching and I couldn’t be more excited for my first trip ever to the Eternal City. I’ve had plenty of time to consider what I’d like to do and my plans are starting to gel. It’s been a bit of a struggle to rein myself in, but my ultimate goal for this getaway to come home richer* and rejuvenated. With that as my motivation, here’s what I’m hoping to do…

  • Visit a thermal spa.
  • Eat pasta.
  • Run a 14k – if possible as part of an organized run, if that doesn’t work I’ll run it solo.
  • Travel to Naples and spend a day checking out artifacts from Pompeii, the view to Capri and eating pizza.
  • Drink wine.
  • Spending some time in Pompeii taking in Vesuvius.
  • Walking around Rome with my freshly cleaned and maintained Nikon.
  • Eat pasta.
  • Taking one day for tourist attractions – the Vatican and Sistine Chapel in the morning and the Colosseum in the late afternoon.
  • Stand on the terrace of my AirBandB with a glass of wine (prosecco if it’s daylight, something red after dark) to gaze at Rome and wonder how I ever got so lucky to have this life.

 

*richer isn’t about money – be it dollars or euros!

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Filed under art, beauty, Eating, Europe

The lively Dead Rabbit

CAA4E970-6891-4F2F-8F5A-3FE5A16745FFEarlier this month, my oldest son and I went to the city and got us some culture. It began with a cheap (less than $120 for the night) hotel way downtown, which became an afternoon performance at the Met, a Downton Abbey exhibit and visit to the super cool oculus. Our time in NYC coincided with some of the coldest weather of the year (decade?) and we were lucky enough to have some surprisingly good options for dinner nearby in an area that has not always been known for evening dining options. On a friend’s recommendation we decided to give the just-around-the-corner Dead Rabbit try. Here’s how it went…

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First of all, I had no idea that this place was so highly regarded. How highly regarded is it? Well, it was dubbed the Best Bar in the WORLD in 2016!

Reading the various reviews on Yelp and Tripadvisor also informed me that the space is divided into 3 floors with the middle and upstairs floors requiring entry from a staff member. While the first floor Taproom would have sufficed had I been on a date (as it seemed that many of the pairs surrounding us were), the second floor Parlor was where I set my sights. I had gotten the impression that it might have a bit more elbow room than was available downstairs. I requested seating on the second floor and within 15 minutes, and about midway through my delicious warm Clontarf punch, we were ushered to two seats at the cocktail bar in the Parlor.

My immediate impression? There was so much to check out! Interesting looking people, walls covered in memorabilia, along with an impressive array of small bottles containing various cocktail ingredients provided a visual feast. We were presented with the current cocktail list – a graphic novel telling the story of original Irish gangsters with drinks inspired by their exploits, and adorable little teacups of a special punch. I drank them both since my son is 20 for another 6 weeks and I’m not one to waste good alcohol. The small food menu provided options that were well matched with the frigid weather and overall classic vibe and we selected the fish & chips for my son and the chicken pot pie for me and settled in at the bar. The lighting, music and warmth of the space combined to make a very comfortable spot to spend a couple of hours – at least for me. Liam’s stay was a bit more brief.

Our meals were served piping hot and appropriately portioned for the price. My son polished off his plate completely, while I couldn’t quite manage my entire meal opting instead to sample another concoction created by the friendly and professional bar staff. Not finding exactly what I wanted on their list, I requested a bourbon cocktail with a Manhattan-esque flair and was rewarded with a beautifully balanced drink that was precisely what I was seeking. This is a terrific spot despite all the hype that surrounds it. Check it out!

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Filed under art, Boys, Dinner, drinking, Irish, Music, NYC, Observations, Recommendations, Restaurants, road trips, winter

It was a good week

Albany Muni

Stringing seven consecutive positive days together isn’t always easy. For some people it may never happen, which means that those of us fortunate enough to experience good weeks should celebrate them. What makes a good week? It involves finding a balance between all of the various roles we play in life, for me, specifically Mom, friend, worker and player.

Last week, I doubled down on some of my favorite activities and was able to work in two (different studios) yoga classes, two (different routes) runs and two (different golf courses) skis. I went to a party early in the week and saw a cool band Friday night at The Lowbeat. In between there was a good soak in a hot tub, along with some responsible financial and medical decisions and a bit of vacation planning. I worked two solid shifts at Mio Posto and was rewarded for my efforts when a slice of coconut cream pie was plated by accident meaning we got to eat it. That was a sweet way to end my work week.

Colonie Golf Course

Sunday was a great day – not too busy, yet productive without feeling rushed at all. I made waffles for the boys for breakfast and leisurely read the papers. I washed the car and had my nine remaining toe nails attended to with a pedicure. The sheets were changed and laundry was washed, dried and folded leaving the hamper empty for a brief moment. Jeter and I took a fun run down the yellow brick road and through the farm into the back nine at Muni and came home more exhilarated than tired. There were baths for both of us, mine with bath salts and a book, followed by dinner. My mushroom, provolone and ham omelette with a side salad topped with a perfect avocado was delicious, as was the Cherry Garcia ice cream that beautifully punctuated my supper. 

I was in bed by 9:15 and asleep a short time later. I awoke this morning before 5:00 feeling ready for a new week and appreciative for all of the positive and wonderful things present in my life. It may not sound like much, but if you treat the small gifts like large ones you might be amazed by how rich you really are.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Dinner, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, Music, Observations, running, sunday, Uncategorized, x-country skiing, yoga

What William Kennedy gave me on his 90th birthday

Tuesday night I was lucky enough to join an already in progress festive event down at Cafe Capriccio. Gathered together to celebrate Albany’s literary native son William Kennedy’s birthday were dozens of family members, friends and colleagues. I arrived as speakers began to share their thoughts, memories and best wishes and it was remarkable. The evening’s host, New York State Writers Institute director, Paul Grondahl, invited those present to share their own words in Bill’s honor and for a brief second I considered accepting the offer. It probably would have taken 2 more glasses of wine to get me to speak publicly, but the thoughts that were prompted can just as easily be shared here.

Albany has a modern literary tradition thanks to William Kennedy. His characters populate the streets and the imagination of a city which has been maligned and misrepresented for decades, if not centuries. The stories he has told portray a city filled with residents, frequently Irish American, living hardscrabble lives, corrupt, violent and often tragically funny. The struggles of his characters are familiar and universal, yet because they take place in Albany, N.Y., they are our stories. We own them, just like William Kennedy belongs to us, and despite the less than stellar reputations possessed by so many of his characters, we embrace them.

Because of William Kennedy, and his vision in founding the New York State Writer’s Institute, acclaimed authors have visited our area and shared their craft with audiences at no cost to attendees.  As an undergraduate, I was thrilled to listen to Allen Ginsberg and Joyce Carol Oates read from their work. More recently, an in-depth symposium focused on telling the truth in a post-truth era brought heavyweight journalists to our area for a weekend of timely and interesting events.  None of these experiences would have been available without the NYSWI and we as a city are indebted to Bill Kennedy for the opportunities to hear and learn from literary luminaries and embattled professional journalists.

The third gift I received that night was less tangible than the others and I don’t know if I have the words to describe it. The best I can come up with is it was a combined sense of pride, belonging and possibility. As the child of an Irishman I never met, I’ve sought out Irish culture and traditions for as long as I can remember. Witnessing a roomful of people singing a rousing chorus of Molly Malone (and joining in!) fed my soul as delightfully as Jim Rua’s always-prepared-with-love meals feed my belly. The thrill and privilege of being present at such an incredibly special event is something I will never forget. While I don’t imagine ever writing a book, the fact that Ironweed wasn’t published until Bill Kennedy was 55, and that I was present at his 90th birthday party, reminds me that just about anything is possible.

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Filed under Albany, Books, Events, favorites, Irish, Local, Observations, Restaurants, upstate New York

Guess I’ll have to buy it now

Cars aren’t all that important to me and all I want is to be able count on one to get me from Point A to Point B. I can’t imagine myself ever buying a brand new one because of both the expense and the stress I would feel about preserving the car’s brand newness. I much prefer something that might have a ding or two and some well maintained miles.

My current car is a twelve-year-old Volvo wagon that I bought after my previous Volvo wagon was totaled when I was rear ended at a stop light. I remember calling it my princess car when I first got it because it was such a pretty shade of grey and so very clean. I’ve loved that car (and she has provided me and my family with more than a 100,000 safe miles) but I’ve been thinking that it might be time for something new after almost a decade together.

When I considered what I want in a “new” car the items highest on my wish list are fewer miles and a standard transmission. With this in mind I called my guy, Dave at Precision, and asked him to be on the lookout for a car that I might like. Imagine my delight in learning that he happened to have something on the lot that exactly met my requirements. I arranged to drive it this past weekend to see how it felt.

Beyond the transmission, the car is identical to what I already own – same year, same model. This wagon has a cream colored interior (opposed to the black interior I now have) which would work really well with Jeter’s fur and the car is very clean having had only one previous owner and all maintenance performed by the same shop I’ve used for almost 20 years. There are 30,000 fewer miles on this wagon which equals about 2.5 years of driving in my world, an appealing consideration.

The decision to keep what I have or make a change has been difficult. Right now I own a car that I have carefully maintained and I haven’t had a car payment in more than 4 years. My car has the odd ding, but is essentially clean and I imagine it would continue to provide me with reliable service for years to come. But, the opportunity to buy a standard shift Volvo is pretty rare and the weekend has reminded me that I really do enjoy the physical act of driving, which is kind of funny when you consider the current move to driverless vehicles.

I’ve laid out the dilemma to a number of friends whom I consider to be practical car people and most are of the opinion that I should trade my car in, pay the difference in value/price in cash (which I have on hand), and get myself the car that I want to drive for the 5 years or so.

I was truly conflicted about the decision until Saturday afternoon when I was leaving for work and was met by my new neighbor outside. It seems she had left a post it note on the car because she had hit the front bumper when she was driving on our narrow street. There now is a little scrape (that my neighbor will have addressed) which has caused me to conclude that the important parts of the car are really on the inside – the transmission, the single owner maintained engine and the dog friendly interior and all of those are an improvement over what I currently own.  I just may be starting the year with a new car!

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Filed under Random, Recommendations, Uncategorized

What if none of this makes a difference?

D768FE3C-75A1-413D-854F-1F21D01F49EC.jpegAfter my shower the other night I faced my shelf of moisturizers considering which one (or 2) to use. Did my face feel tight from the water which I can’t help but set to a temperature which I know is too hot? Should I use the intensive night time mask or the nitamins? Must I avoid that area on my chin where I recently had a spot or should I treat that area with a lighter formula? How about my T-zone that tends to be borderline oily? Would toner help?

As I pondered the embarrassing array of lotions and creams and the condition of my skin I was struck by a thought – what if none of it really makes a difference?

Do you ever consider the ingredients contained in your beauty products? I don’t have a chemistry degree so much of it is a foreign language to me, but I know I’d be more comfortable if I actually could read the label with some degree of comprehension. Is slathering my face with chemicals really going to improve my chances of aging gracefully or would I have been better off not introducing my one and only face to a plethora of foreign substances?

I started moisturizing, probably with Avon products, when I was in middle school. I was seriously into fashion and subscribed to Mademoiselle and Glamour and completely bought in to the beauty culture. As I look back with 35 years of skincare experience, I’m left to wonder how my skin would appear had I not ever used commercial moisturizers. Would the lines on my face be the same? More pronounced or less?

I guess I’ll never know the answers to those questions, but undoubtedly I would have minimized my exposure to chemical substances, my expenses and the amount of time I spend pondering which formula to use.

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Filed under aging, beauty, Observations, Random, Uncategorized