Monthly Archives: March 2018

Walk, Don’t Walk, Duck!

Whenever someone says to me “I have a weird question,” I always interrupt and tell them that I hope they don’t disappoint me. If you say it’s going to be weird, please let it be so. Now that I’ve preset you for weirdness, let me tell you what happened yesterday during my run…

I was about 3 miles in as I approached the intersection of New Scotland Avenue and South Manning Blvd. The light was green, which prevented me from immediately crossing the street, so I took a moment to stretch, something I’ve done in this very same spot countless times. Because my hips and glutes are where I need the most attention, my technique is as follows: place my hands around a nearby pole, clasp them together and then kind of sit back into an almost a seated position, sort of making my body into an upside down L.

Well, imagine my surprise when, as I settled into my stretch, the pole I was holding onto snapped at the base and fell towards me! I swear I don’t know what prevented me from getting seriously injured by the heavy metal post as it came at me. Somehow I moved my body to the left just in time and the post barely grazed my right shoulder and hand before it hit the ground. Holy crap.

I looked at the base where the pole had snapped and there was an irregular line completely around the base where it had broken. I like to think of myself as strong, but, seriously? I can’t claim to have used brute strength to snap a metal pole – no way. A woman who witnessed what had happened, called out from her van checking to make certain that I was ok. I was. I am. She agreed that I should call 911 to share what had happened, which I did. I told the person who answered my call that I had something weird to tell them.

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Filed under Albany, Exercise, Local, Random, running, Uncategorized

Get Happy

451D325D-8917-4814-B3FC-ABDA81880233Happy hap·py

adjective. feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

synonyms:

cheerful, cheery, merry, joyful, jovial, jolly, jocular, gleeful, carefree, untroubled, delighted, smiling, beaming, grinning, in good spirits, in a good mood, lighthearted, pleased, contented, content, satisfied, gratified, buoyant, radiant, sunny, blithe, joyous, beatific; thrilled, elated, exhilarated, ecstatic, blissful, euphoric, overjoyed, exultant, rapturous, in seventh heaven, on cloud nine, walking on air, jumping for joy, jubilant;

Do you see how many synonyms there are for “Happy?” It’s almost like the Inuits and the number of words they have for “snow!” If there are so many words to describe the state of being happy, why are so many people unable to find their way there? Is happy simply unachievable for some? I just don’t know.

Here’s what I do know – being happy should be a fundamental life goal. Intention, decisions, actions…all of these should be predicated upon an outcome of being happy. Understanding that we only have “one precious life” and accepting that we are completely responsible for our own happiness, in my opinion, should be the foundation for all we do. While this may sound incredibly self-serving, it really isn’t. Our own individual happiness isn’t necessarily achieved independently, but that doesn’t mean it comes at another’s expense. Actually, positively impacting another’s happiness can be a major source of our own personal happiness, don’t you think?

But, don’t you dare sacrifice your own internal happiness for another’s. Read that again. Don’t do it. Why not? Because it is impossible to make someone happy. That’s on them, my friends. No matter how much you care for someone, how consistently you support them, how frequently you model positivity and radiate joy…none of it makes a bit of difference unless they’re committed to figuring out how to achieve their own happiness. Trust me.

So, focus on whatever brings you joy, live your life with honesty, celebrate the positive, let go of what does not serve you and be grateful for each day you’ve been given. And, if that isn’t enough to cultivate happiness in your heart and soul, reach out for help from any and all resources available.  Life is just too damn short to not be happy

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Filed under aging, love, musings, Observations, relationships

Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams at Caffe Lena

Last fall I heard a song on my favorite local radio station WEXT which introduced me to musicians who were new to me, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams. This couple who have been married for nearly 30 years, have recently begun performing music together as a duo following years of performing with other legendary musicians such as Bob Dylan and Levon Helm. The song, When I Stop Loving You, which is the first single from their fall release Contraband Love just touched me with its beautiful melody and touching lyrics. I promised myself I would check them out if they came around our area and, lucky me, they played Caffe Lena last week.

Incredibly, this was my very first time attending a show at Cafe Lena and I couldn’t have been happier with the experience. Tickets were reasonably priced, our table was just one back from the small stage and the performance was excellent. Being as unfamiliar with Larry and Teresa’s* work as we were, our expectations were pretty low and we were both blown away. His musicianship was remarkable to witness and her ultimate instrument, her voice, was masterfully controlled. Campbell played three instruments, all with equal ease, and neither of them had a sheet of music in front of them, playing from memory songs that were mostly unknown to me with an occasional cover such as Long Black Veil thrown in that thrilled. The audience was filled with true fans and their enthusiasm fed the performers and made the evening a real treat to witness.

After the show we headed out to grab a bite to eat before driving home and found ourselves at The Parting Glass where I had a sandwich billed as a Salmon Burger, but in fact it was a really well prepared salmon fillet offered up on a roll. I skipped the bread, but thoroughly enjoyed the fish and accompanying sweet potato fries. If somebody could just get in that place and give it a good spring cleaning I’d be inclined to visit there more often.

Two Thursday evenings spent in Saratoga and both were winners. Who needs horses anyway?

*after you see someone in a space as intimate as Cafe Lena being on a first same basis seems appropriate.

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Filed under concerts, Eating, Local, Music, road trips, Saratoga, Uncategorized

Soaking it in

How do you follow a terrific meal in Saratoga’s finest restaurant? The answer (for me) was an overnight stay followed by a few hours enjoying some of Saratoga’s other assets. First stop – Mrs. London’s for my usual almond croissant and glorious bowl of latte.

Carbed and caffeined, I made my way to Saratoga National Park determined to either ski or run a few miles. Conditions were better than I had originally thought and skiing won out. After parking near the warming hut, I stepped into my skis and spent the next hour exploring the golf course. It wasn’t the most challenging ski I’ve ever had, but it certainly was a great way to spend some time outdoors in the fresh air.

12FD5032-D25B-471B-AE4D-43A08306264AI wrapped things up and drove over to the Roosevelt Bathhouse for my scheduled appointment, allowing for a little extra time to enjoy the steam room. I’ve only ever been to the baths once before, and it was a long time ago, so the experience felt new. The facility is a positive blend of old school classic and new age modern with a comfortable lounge area to enjoy while waiting for one’s bath attendant. After taking about 20 minutes to enjoy the steam room, I relaxed on a chaise with my book until Colleen came to escort me to my personal bath room.

Ok, maybe a bit “The Shining,” but lovely nonetheless.

The room was fairly spacious with an original and deep cast iron tub, a massage table, chair and a curtained window which I was invited to adjust to my preference for natural light. The bath was already drawn and I was given instructions as to how to moderate the water, but Colleen had nailed the temperature perfectly and all I needed to do was relax. The folded towel beneath my head and the plastic step stool placed in the tub for my feet to rest against showed a welcome attention to my comfort.

For 40 minutes I soaked the waters in and allowed them to extract stress, tension and negativity from my body and brain. Thoroughly refreshed, I stepped out of the tub and into a warm towel, got myself dressed and departed feeling like a million bucks. For $45 + tip, that is a far better way of getting soaked than playing the ponies. If you haven’t been – go!

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Filed under breakfast, Exercise, favorites, Local, Recommendations, road trips, Saratoga, stress, upstate New York, x-country skiing

Jeter got jumped

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My good boy looking a bit traumatized

After what felt like an extended time, I finally went for a run last evening. Knowing that the golf course is going to be lost to the golfers again soon, I planned a loop that would include the front 9 and brought Jeter along. He and I plodded up Whitehall Rd and turned left onto New Scotland. As we approached the course, Jeter’s pace picked up in anticipation of getting off leash for a romp. Muni is his favorite place.

We worked our way around the holes counterclockwise encountering dogs and mercifully pausing for play time. At about the half way point, there were 3 or 4 dogs with 2 or 3 people and Jeter greeted everyone with a tail wag. A beautiful silvery gray dog came towards Jeter and I noticed his presumed owner jogging, leash in hand, in her dog’s direction. The gray dog started herding Jeter and Jeter just submissively permitted it. The dog became more aggressive and started nipping at Jeter. Things escalated and quickly became out of hand.

The owner of the other dog did not have control over her dog. He snapped repeatedly at Jeter as I tried to separate the two dogs. I felt really scared and yelled at the woman to make her dog stop and she attempted to grab her dog. Finally, she got a grip on her dog’s collar and was able to restrain him. Jeter came to my side and I got his leash on him without delay. He seemed ok, tail wagging and ready to move on.

I spoke to the woman briefly as she apologized. I explained that animals are animals and that I didn’t blame her for her dog’s aggression, but that if her dog has a history of reacting aggressively, she simply needed to keep him on a leash. Always. She didn’t disagree.

Jeter and I jogged off. A few minutes later, I noticed blood on my hand and jacket cuff. I stopped and looked Jeter over more thoroughly and realized he was bleeding. The other dog had drawn blood along the side of Jeter’s mouth. He really had been roughed up.

31FC4B14-1165-4A25-B467-724535A42EEDDog season at the golf course is nearly over and, generally, it’s been a good one. Lots of skiing, running and walking has taken place during our terrific winter. It’s too bad that this incident has left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, as well as a bloody taste in my canine buddy’s mouth.

Folks – if your dog can’t play nice, do us all a favor and keep them limited to leash time. My dog doesn’t deserve to be injured because your dog doesn’t interact with other dogs in a positive way.

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Filed under Albany, Exercise, favorites, Local, Observations, Rants, Recommendations, running, x-country skiing

Deliver this love letter to 15 Church

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I had dinner last week for the first time ever at 15 Church. I’ve been there a number of times for drinks or something to eat on the patio, but as for sitting down and getting the full 15 Church soup to nuts treatment, well, this was my maiden voyage. It was so worth the wait.

We arrived at about 8:30, a little late for most places on a weeknight but 15 Church was still jumping. We were welcomed, ushered to a comfortable booth and given menus as well as a verbal recitation of the evening’s specials. So many delicious sounding options!

As we considered the offerings, the fella sipped his Paper Plane cocktail, adorably garnished with a tiny paper plane. A well-made bourbon cocktail really is a wonderful way to start a meal.

After a few minutes we came up with a plan – 2 appetizers, a salad of sorts and a single entrée to share. The fantastic warm bread service and amuse bouche of beef tartare provided a lovely start prior to our first official course, the fried oysters and an evening special of gorgeous tuna. I’ve had fried oysters, even really, really good fried oysters before, but these were on a whole other level. I would consider them to be a PhD dissertation in texture, flavor and presentation. Fantastic. The tuna was remarkably fresh with interesting accompaniments including charred pineapple. Personally, I would have preferred the tuna to be sliced thinner, but that’s just my preference, not a flaw by any means.

We were graciously served an unexpected midcourse of pasta with a flavorful ragu of rabbit and mushrooms. Surprisingly, this was the third time in a month that I’ve had a similar dish, the other occasions being while I was in Rome and more recently at MezzeNotte in Guilderland. All three renditions were perfectly seasonal and delicious, this particular plate contained the largest pieces of rabbit loin and, Easter bunny be damned – I’d eat this dish all year long.

The burrata was beautifully presented and a wonderful combination of a salad and cheese course to prep us for our final plate – the pork shank evening special. My fella hadn’t ever experienced a pork shank before and I’m so glad that his first was prepared as masterfully as the one we enjoyed together.  It was a marvel of rich flavor, tender yet with a barely discernible crunch to the exterior, and perfectly accompanied by a marsala reduction and whipped potatoes laced with more butter than I ever want to know about. An absolute revelation.

Our meal was accompanied by a wallet friendly Rioja and punctuated at its conclusion with an order of their famous fried to order donuts with a tiny chocolate mousse on the side. Because – why not? If you’ve made the excellent decision to indulge yourself, you’ve most definitely come to the right place.

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Saratoga, upstate New York, winter

Steps

In Italy, there are more steps than you can imagine. They’re everywhere. I remember my first trip to Italy, when I visited Liguria. I was so impressed with the beauty of the women – strong-looking women, with great legs from all of the walking they did, seemingly from terrace to terrace, probably with a glass of Pigato in hand. If there weren’t steps, there were hills and sidewalks to walk. The pace was comfortable, never rushed, and somehow life felt like something to be savored. It spoke to me.

I saw and felt a similar vibe when I visited Rome. There were steps everywhere and my legs got a workout carrying me all day as I explored the city. Again, there were steps too plentiful to count, and sturdy and attractive women. The pace was ideal and I found it easy to breathe there.

I thought about how steps in Italy actually took you somewhere. Your feet carried you from place to place and you felt, I imagine, strong from it. It wasn’t important, though, to measure or count those steps. I mean, what would a number measure? How many times you moved your feet? Who cares about that anyway? Do people really positively evaluate their lives on the basis of the number of steps they take in a single day? That’s just weird.

In Italy, everyone walks and navigates steps all around the country. The steps are what connect places to one another, city to city, town to town, village to village. Steps are how you get somewhere.

In America, people don’t walk regularly but they do talk about how many steps they have taken on a particular day. They wear devices to collect data about how far and fast they walked during a specific time period. People set goals and are encouraged and held accountable by their devices. It’s all about achieving a number, regardless of how you do it. A step is a step whether your eyes are open or closed. It doesn’t matter what you see along the way, the importance comes from a number.

I’m sincerely sorry if I sound judgmental. It isn’t my intent. We all take our motivation where we find it and I respect that truly. I was just so struck in the difference between the connotations of a simple word like “steps” in two different cultures. Maybe it’s time to stop counting and start going.

 

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Filed under Europe, favorites, Italy, musings, Observations, travel, Uncategorized