Category Archives: Albany

Where the streets have no names, I mean, rules

“Cycling has encountered more enemies than any other form of exercise.”        19th-century author Louis Baudry de Sagnier

imageNow that summer has arrived, I’ve been riding my bicycle to the restaurant a couple of nights a week. I love so much about my less-than-two-mile commute – the fresh air, the exercise, the view, the sense of being more closely connected to the street I live off of and work on…it’s pretty great. Except, of course for the cars. That part kind of sucks.

I’m most afraid of the parked cars I ride past. Does that surprise you? The way I see it, the cars coming from behind me are looking ahead and should be able to see (and avoid) me, but the folks who might be opening their car doors aren’t necessarily checking behind them before they throw their doors open. That’s why they scare me.

A couple of weeks ago I left Lark + Lily, helmet on and rear of my bike red light flashing, and headed home. A few blocks from the restaurant, a woman slowed down as she drove past me and shouted, “You’d better get that bike off the road.” Two blocks later, as we both waited for the red light to change, I retorted, “You’d better get familiar with the law.” My ride didn’t improve.

As we each rode down Delaware Avenue, the “conversation” was ongoing. She continued to yell at me in an attempt to convince me that I wasn’t entitled to ride on the road and I persisted in trying to educate her about traffic laws. Hey, what can I say? I’m a teacher. She finally drove away and I mulled over the wisdom of engaging an ignorant driver. I concluded that it probably wasn’t my finest moment.

Yesterday evening I got some news that confirmed that I should probably refrain from responding to drivers who either do not know or simply refuse to abide by the existing motor vehicle laws. It isn’t my story to tell, but essentially, someone I know was hit by a car while he was commuting home. Intentionally. The driver of the car initiated the interaction by cutting off the cyclist, who astutely snapped a photo of the car and its license plate, and then followed up three blocks later by directly and purposefully hitting him. No joke.  Yes, the driver of the car deliberately drove his vehicle and hit a man who was just riding home.

I think there needs to be some serious intervention and education about cycling in this city before anymore riders get injured or worse.

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Filed under Albany, biking, Exercise, Local, Rant, Summer, Uncategorized

A rave for Crave

I know, I know, I’m late to the game on this place. What can I say? I’ve been busy and since they’re closed Monday nights, I haven’t been able to take advantage of this spot as an easy and quick dinner spot with my guys at the start of a week. Last Saturday, though, the day got away from me with a hair appointment and errands and I found myself approaching hangry and limited on time. I grabbed 2 of my kids and headed over to the corner of Western and Quail for my first Crave experience.

 

Bacon cheeseburger

Bacon cheeseburger

The space is simple and clean with a menu that is equally focused. I needed a burger so I directed my attention to that part of the menu and was quickly taken in by the Black & Blue burger – Gorgonzola, caramelized onions and arugula. I wasn’t feeling blue cheese, so I requested that my burger come medium rare and topped with cheddar. My son went with a bacon cheeseburger and we added a basket of fries to round things off for a total under $25.

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My modified black and blue burger

Service was prompt and our food was delivered quickly and piping hot. My burger was served on a roll so delicious that I broke my “no bun” rule and ate every last carb-y crumb. The beef was cooked perfectly and was remarkably juicy and the onions had obviously been cooked low and slow creating a sweet and succulent layer of deliciousness. It was a fantastic burger. Period. The accompanying fries were equally perfect – fried a little beyond golden, piping hot and salted with a deft hand. I’ve never had better.

imageLiam seemed equally pleased with his burger, but to be honest, there wasn’t a lot of conversation. I was too busy eating.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Eating, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Summer, Uncategorized

Hatred & Heroes

floridaMonday night I attended a vigil at the NYS Capitol sponsored by the Capital Pride Center. The event, to honor the victims of Saturday night’s massacre in Orlando (not to be confused with previous massacres we’ve witnessed) was organized in the afterglow of Albany’s Pride celebration. How’s that for tragic  irony, people?

I gathered with a rainbow of diverse human beings – gay, straight, trans, bi, black, white, brown and yellow, all brought together to acknowledge a tragedy and take a stand. I can’t speak to what may have compelled the hundreds of other attendees to be present, but for me, it was a means of demonstrating that love and unity can triumph over fear and hate, even in dark days filled with uncertainty and sorrow.  There were flags and banners and candles that struggled to remain lit on a cool and windy evening and speakers who addressed the crowd to share their thoughts and feelings, each raw with grief and frustration. Aren’t we all at this point?

It seems that many people are interpreting this horrible event as an act of terrorism, but I’m not buying it.  The more we learn about the perpetrator, the more it seems that he maybe was a self loathing, repressed homosexual who decided to kill the part of himself that he hated – and take as many others with him.  Is that too much psychobabble?  I don’t know, honestly, but I do find it more plausible than his having been radicalized by Isis since there doesn’t appear to be any true evidence that he was involved with what is currently the Earth’s most hate filled organization.

While I won’t name the shooter in Saturday’s massacre, preferring to remember those who were gunned down, I have learned a new name that I won’t soon forget – Deborah Glick.  When this NYS Assemblymember spoke she didn’t point fingers at Muslims or Isis or even homophobes.  No, she railed against the NRA and the culture of guns in our society.  Glick matter of factly stated that if the deaths of 20 six and seven year-old elementary students didn’t change the gun possession laws in our country, the deaths of nearly 50 adults in a dance club wouldn’t either.  It was a heart-wrenching statement that brought me to tears and has committed me anew to speaking out about the civilian purchase and possession of assault weapons. She’s a new hero to me.

I’ve allowed my personal Facebook wall to become a  battleground between friends and former friends about the topic of gun control.  I say former friends because I’ve come to realize that there are people I have previously allowed in my life who are no longer welcome – not because our opinions differ, but because we are unable to have a civil conversation about topics upon which we disagree.  I just can’t invest my energy or time in debating with people who will not acknowledge that legally purchased weapons are indeed a problem in our country.  I’d rather devote my efforts to working for political candidates who favor stricter gun laws and maintaining a distance from the NRA and the influence they wield in our government.  How about you? What is the impact of our country’s most recent and deadliest on you?

 

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Filed under Albany, News, Observations, politics, Rant, Uncategorized

May’s best bites

  • Presenting, in no particular order, the 5 best things I ate in the 5th month of the year…IMG_9002
  • Softshell crabs at New World Bistro Bar. It might be the fleeting availability of this spring delicacy that makes them so damn special, but the capable hands of the kitchen at NWBB elevated them to a new level of awesomeness. The Asian noodle pancake, viet slaw and tamarind peanut sauce accompanying the crabs provided the perfect foil for the sweetness of the meat. I housed the entire plate.
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  • Gnocchi with a gorgonzola cream at Lark + Lily. What can I say? Chef John Futia used the ultimate light hand with both the pasta and the sauce to create a dish that was delicate and satisfying without being weighty or overly rich. A heavenly pillow of deliciousness.
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  • Ceviche at Rosa Mexicano, NYC. Firm shrimp and pungent onions joined together with tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado served appropriately chilled made for a wonderful light lunch course. The pomegranate margarita wasn’t bad either.
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  • French Onion soup at La Bonne Soupe, NYC.  This crock of goodness provided the ultimate example of French Onion soup – a strong beef stock, tender and sweet onions, gooey strings of cheese… Not my usual pick on a hot late May evening, but I am so happy to have not missed this wonderful representation of a classic dish. C’est bon!
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  • Kurver Kreme Sundae – Soft serve vanilla ice cream, chunks of toffee, hot fudge and butterscotch sauce with whipped cream and a cherry made for the perfect treat on a cool Sunday afternoon following a run. Dessert before dinner may be the ultimate perk of adulthood.

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Filed under Albany, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, Local, NYC, Recommendations, Restaurants, soup, Uncategorized

When you work more hours than you sleep

As my vacation approaches, I find myself getting most excited by the thought of having hours and hours to fill (or not) any way I please. These last few weeks have been joyfully hectic with fun events, long runs and mini escapes, all very carefully penciled into my already impressively full calendar. I’m ready to get away.

Prior to jetting out, there’s a neighborhood association social, wine academy, a party over at the new Biergarten, a date with my someone special and, of course, some packing, that need to happen. I’m confident it’s all going to come to pass, but I do wish it was a bit more spread out. I’d like to savor each of those things instead of survive them, you know? Reality, though, is a bitch and I’m doing my best to keep up, ok?

I don’t think a single day goes by without someone saying to me “I don’t know how you do it. School Monday – Friday, the restaurant 5 nights a week, the three children, miles of running, the house to maintain, the blog, the…” Well, you know what? Sometimes I don’t know how I do it either.

Here’s what I do know, though – if I spent any real time counting the hours in a week that I work versus the hours in a week that I sleep, I’d probably be really tired. If I didn’t love what I’m doing, none of it would be possible. The support I receive from my loved ones and employees is the thread that helps me to keep things together. And all that running? That’s what keeps me strong and sane. Honestly, other than my previous request for two additional hours a day, there’s nothing I’d want to change.  Living life, to me,  is better than sleeping through it.

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver

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Filed under aging, Albany, Events, family, Lark Street, musings, Observations, running, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

Inspiring vs. Inciting – Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Yesterday was a huge day for politics in Albany, our Capital City on the Hudson. My schedule only allowed for me to attend one of the three pre-primary political rallies, but I am ever so proud to say that my older sons represented at the two events held during the early afternoon. How cool is it that they are interested and participating at their ages – 16 and 19?

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Liam, my oldest son attended the Kasich rally in Troy, essentially because he is taking classes at HVCC and the event was very conveniently nearby. Liam leans further to the right than I and often threatens to vote for candidates who hold much more socially conservative positions than I do. He didn’t really have an opportunity to share many impressions of the speech but he did say Kasich is a moderate Republican with a repeated refrain of jobs, jobs, jobs.

Griffin, my middle son, is always game to skip school and the Bernie rally gave him a fine and legitimate reason to cut out of class with my permission. He liked Bernie’s message but found him, when compared to President Obama, to be a less powerful speaker. He was in agreement with the message, but said Sanders had a “Grandpa cute” vibe. Griffin did really enjoy the folks present, though, and felt comfortable in the tightly packed crowd in the Armory. There might have even been some hugging, from what I understand. I was sad to have missed it.

Made in China - worn with total irony

Made in China – worn with total irony

Later in the day, after a fortifying beer meal at McGeary’s, all 3 of my boys and I headed to the Times Union Center for what we referred to as the circus. We arrived at approximately 6:40 and waited in line for entry and security for about 20 minutes. It was an informative time as we looked around at the other folks in line wondering what their stories might be. Were they genuine supporters? Local? Perhaps merely curious, like us, there to see the spectacle? It was impossible to know.

imageWe made it to seats in the upper deck just minutes before Trump graced the enthusiastic crowd with his presence. He immediately launched into his stump speech, littering his diatribe with meaningful phrases such as “New York values,” “building that wall” and “making America great again.” His words were resonating with the crowd who greeted his sound bites with cheers and the frenzied waving of their Trump signs. Other people present began to respond as well to Trump’s claims, but these people were protestors, not supporters. The energy in the arena shifted from simple enthusiasm to a more complicated mélange of fear and anger. My children began to feel uncomfortable.

imageI looked around at the people surrounding us and tried to think about what might have made them so angry. How could they possibly be more furious with Mexican immigrants than they are with corporations which relocate to Mexico to lower production costs and maximize profits? Why are they resentful of citizens desiring comprehensive and affordable healthcare, but not with pharmaceutical companies using government money for research yet not making their products financially within reach of those who may need them? How does a New York City billionaire represent the interests of what looked to be a mostly blue-collar crowd?

We witnessed a couple of fights break out and saw a number of attendees being removed from the facility. The threat of more ugliness was pervasive. The boys asked to leave, which we did just before 8:00.

To me, Bernie Sanders brings light to our country’s political landscape while Donald Trump delivers a fire that threatens to incinerate all it touches. More than once last night I considered the similarities between the scene in front of us and what was Germany in the 1930s. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I’ll confess that I repeatedly thought: “Is this how Hitler gained power? Is this how it begins?”

Primary Day can’t come soon enough.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Education, Events, family, Local, Observations, politics, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Filling my garment rack at Nordstrom Rack

You know I’m not much of a follower, preferring to blaze my own trail when it comes to shopping. It doesn’t matter if it’s groceries (I still haven’t been to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods) or clothing – you’ll not see me waiting in line to get into the newest retail spot. As a matter of fact, these days I seem to do an awful lot of my shopping online because I simply don’t have the time to drive to the mall and poke around looking for deals or something in my size.

But, despite the recent snow, it’s spring and I’m going on vacation in a few weeks which means my wardrobe needed some refreshing. Having gotten my run in early, my afternoon opened up and I decided a few hours of solo recreational shopping would be the perfect way to relax and prepare for a busy week and my upcoming trip. Off to Colonie Center I went.

My original intention was to hit up Macy’s and troll the sales rack for leftover winter items that might transition into spring, but since I started at LL Bean,* I decided to pop into Nordstrom Rack on my way. That was probably the best decision I made all day.

I don’t have much familiarity with this store, having only been here once or twice before with the boys looking for sneakers. Since I’ve been jonesing for an off the shoulder dress for spring,  I headed immediately to the dress racks, focusing first on current, full price items. After coming up empty, I moved on to the discounted racks where I absolutely filled my arms (12 things!) with dresses, tops and an indulgent item or two. I’m a big believer in getting undressed once in the changing room and trying everything on in one fell swoop.

So? How did I do? I went home with 6 (!) dresses, 2 tops, 1 super cozy cashmere sweater and a gorgeous jacket for a grand total of… $290! Considering that the sweater and the jacket alone combined for $144, I’d say that my shopping expedition was a great success. According to the sales receipt I saved $1190 so I guess I did all right.

Where do you scratch your itch to shop? What do you have your eye on for spring or summer? And – have you seen any fantastic off the shoulder dresses around?

*For the first time ever, I exercised the lifetime guarantee offered by LL Bean and asked them to replace a backpack that had shoulder straps that were shredding and tearing off. They lived up to their promise without hesitation.

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Filed under Albany, Fashion, Local, Random, Spring, Uncategorized