Category Archives: Albany

Birthdays and buildings – Vote Yes to AHS

new_exterior-washington_ave_view_1-16On February 9th my youngest child turns 11. I seriously don’t know even know where the last decade went. We brought him home from the hospital one winter afternoon and here it is a lifetime later. In an ironic way, the baby who was supposed to be my baby has grown up faster than either of his brothers. Such is life – grab the moments while you can.

This February 9th, I’ll be accompanying my boy and his classmates on their field trip to the Albany Institute of History and Art. I figure there aren’t many field trips left and I’m excited to spend his birthday with him and the exhibit, The Capital Region in 50 Objects interests me. It’s embarrassing how infrequently I get to the institute and I’m very much looking forward to seeing 50 objects which define the city where I have lived for more than half of my life.

Looking through the list of objects included in the display, I noticed a few buildings represented. As you might imagine, the Empire State Plaza and State Capitol are on the list, along with the residence of Stephen and Harriet Myers. You see, buildings are important and can help to define a city.

My children and I have witnessed the construction of a number of significant buildings in our lives here in Albany. I recall the construction of the Knickerbocker Arena Times Union Center and a number of other downtown buildings which have changed the landscape of our city. My children have benefited from the community investment made to improve libraries and both elementary and middle schools in our city and, as a parent, and taxpayer, I was pleased to support these initiatives. No longer do children in the city of Albany have to attend classes in buildings which are decrepit and lacking in modern amenities as was once the case.

This February 9th, we as a community again have the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the city and its children with A Vision for Tomorrow. While none of my children will directly benefit from this ambitious undertaking, I will gladly accept the small (approximately $25) addition to my annual tax bill.  It’s the right thing to do and will help to provide the best opportunity for our teens to succeed. If we can justify building an entire plaza to impress the Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands can’t we provide our own residents with a building for which they can feel pride?  Maybe you could think of it as a birthday gift to Quinn?

Need more information?  Check out one of these community forums and get yourself up to speed.  Let’s not allow a decision this big to be decided by a small group of voters.  Our kids deserve better.

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Filed under Albany, birthdays, Boys, Education, Events, Local, Schools, Uncategorized

Taking Samson for a haircut

The Lilly boys have all been blessed with good hair. Thick, shiny, and curly hair are represented in our household, all without the addition of products or fussing. Isn’t that always the way with boys? Through the years, the guys have gradually gone from bald to blonde to light brown to dark hair. Their hairstyles have experienced a similar evolution from riotous curls to closely cropped and from moppy to groomed. Aside from one teary episode following a “too short” haircut, things have gone fairly smoothly. Until Quinn, that is.

patsys

image from Twitter: AlbanyMuskrat @albanymuskrat

In recent months my youngest son has resisted haircuts more steadfastly than the biblical Samson. When he finally acquiesced to a trim a couple of months ago, the appointment left all three of us (the stylist, Quinn and myself) frustrated as he literally selected individual hairs which he would allow to be touched by scissors. Seriously, he was lifting hairs and offering them to Nicole with firm directions regarding how much could be removed. When the “cut” was finished the amount of hair on the floor was smaller than a furball coughed up by a kitten – a true waste of money and time.

Now, don’t think for a second that I was demanding a dramatic shearing, all I was hoping for was a taming of the wild mane. Last weekend, with two sons in tow (appearance obsessed middle son had already gotten himself there a couple of weeks ago) we made our way downtown to Patsy’s for another go at a real haircut.

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My pic from last week – same chairs, same tile…

Patsy’s is tucked around the corner on Howard Street between the Times Union Center and City Beer Hall and on a Saturday afternoon, parking was plentiful – a marked difference from the all chairs full scene inside Patsy’s. No worries, we found a couple of seats and waited less than 10 minutes to get the guys in chairs. Some observations from my vantage spot – super professional, meticulous barbers, most sporting full sleeve tattoos and/or groomed facial hair, taking their time with each individual client. It was a wonderful sight to behold and I wouldn’t have been opposed to spending the entire afternoon there, sipping self-serve cans of PBR and watching the men at work.

How did we fare? Quinn received a compromise haircut which left both of us satisfied – his mop was shaped and layered and now looks far more intentional than the mess he was sporting when we walked in the door. Liam, whom I think looks most handsome with short hair, got a fairly dramatic cut and neck shave, both of which he appreciated. Hair for hair, his cut was the more dramatic but Quinn’s trim and shape up definitely was an improvement. Two thumbs up for Patsy’s – our new go to place.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Boys, favorites, Local, Recommendations, Uncategorized

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

This is my last day of work until New Year’s Eve, a fact which I’m kind of excited about. When you factor in that I’ll be away with a couple of my best girlfriends exploring bourbon a new city, I get almost a little giddy. Good times are ahead and I’m ready for them!

Last Saturday, for either the 5th or 6th consecutive year, I ran Albany’s Last Run. This event is absolutely my favorite run of the year – the course is terrific with a wonderful downhill finish and I just think Albany shines in a particularly bright fashion on this night. This year’s weather was perfect, it finally felt like winter for the night yet there was no precipitation or slippery stuff on the ground.

I have to admit that I nailed it, in terms of prep, parking my car near the restaurant in the early afternoon before they closed the streets, and leaving a change of clothes so I could shower at the Morgan State House, where friends were staying for the night. I ran to the course from the DelSo, arriving at the starting line warmed up and ready for the 5K and, without even really trying, finished with a decent enough time in a sometimes crowded race.

One of the best things about this time of the year, what really makes it wonderful, are the visits from friends who no longer live in the area. I absolutely love the way Lark + Lily has become almost an extension of my home as familiar faces stop in for a drink, a hug and even a bite to eat. It’s an unexpected and very welcome perk of this new life of mine.

At my real home, the cookies are nearly all baked, the stockings are hung and the ham is in the refrigerator waiting for its star turn on my dining room table on Christmas Eve. The next two days will be a balance between traditions (bagels and smoked salmon for breakfast, the holiday linens and Elvis) and winging it in a year with bizarrely warm temperatures and my resolve to simply enjoy the time with the guys I love.

My heart will be glowing.

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Filed under Albany, Christmas, Events, Exercise, family, friends, holidays, Lark Street, Local, travel

I voted “Yes” on the AHS project and now I’m sorry

image: pbs.twimg.com

Specifically, I’m sorry that I didn’t participate in getting the vote out. How sad is it that a decision as vital as whether to renovate and replace parts of the current high school could be decided by such a small percentage of the city’s population? Can’t we do better than that?

I’m also sorry that our city refused to grasp the opportunity to construct a single campus where all secondary programs could be administered. We could have provided a level playing field, one which would demonstrate our belief as a society that all areas of study, be they college or direct-to-career preparatory, are equally valid and important.

I’m sorry that the additional $5-10 a month in increased property taxes was a genuine consideration for so many home owners. I understand that taxes are a hardship for an awful lot of people and it is distressing. I, too, carefully weigh how to spend my income and am dismayed that such a disproportionate amount of the federal taxes I pay go to support military activities around the world which result in people dying. Of course, I don’t get to actually vote on that, though, right?

And lastly, I’m especially sorry that a city which has already demonstrated its desire to appeal to families by improving each of the elementary and middle schools, as well as expanding and updating the public library facilities, couldn’t find a way to finish the investment by correcting deficiencies in our one high school.

(For those of you who may not be aware of last week’s vote, read more about it here.)

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Filed under Albany, Education, Local, News, Observations, Schools

Ladies First

12187768_1654731661458247_6615095249070919957_nMonths ago, as I started to imagine what Lark + Lily might look like, I had an idea about how I would like to officially launch the new business my brother and I were in the process of purchasing. I’ve been to soft openings, friends and family events and ribbon cuttings over the years and felt compelled to do something just a little bit different. Surprise, surprise, right?

I decided that I wanted to host an event exclusively for women, more specifically women who I found to be inspiring, influential and impressive. Once I had that sentiment as my motivation, the details rapidly fell into place. I settled on a date I found auspicious – the first day of a new month. Sunday, November 1st also felt perfect since we had been gifted with an extra hour with the previous night’s turn of the clock. My chef, John Futia and I developed a simple menu of finger foods, which we accompanied with sparkling wine and other gifts from the grape. It all came together with a remarkable ease.

The most challenging aspect of the entire afternoon was the guest list. Limiting my invitations to what our capacity is, was a Herculean* effort. As I considered all of the women who have inspired, influenced and impressed me over the years, the number became significant and I was placed in the unfortunate position of having to make some very difficult decisions. My only consolation? The fact that I was fortunate enough to be acquainted with so very many fabulous women. Truly.

On Sunday afternoon, as we lit candles and fireplaces, the skies turned blue. Lark + Lily soon filled with dynamic, interesting women and I was overwhelmed by joy as I watched business cards and handshakes and hugs being exchanged. Present were business owners, neighborhood activists, politicians, professionals and dear friends. The buzz was tremendous and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the afternoon – it was powerful.

If you were at Lark + Lily, thank you. I hope you found the mixer to be both enjoyable and valuable. And, if you couldn’t make it for whatever reason, please know that this was the first event for us, but certainly not the last.

*Should I say an Alcmenean effort since I’m being female-centric?

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Filed under Albany, Events, Lark Street, Local, Restaurants

A rock star Halloween

Gold Dust Woman

Gold Dust Woman

I should start by admitting that the same dark green velvet dress has been the base of my Halloween costume for three consecutive years. Do not underestimate my ability to be creative when it comes to working a pretty gown into the plan! Last night I covered the top of the dress with a lace blouse, leaving the dress to look like a skirt as I attempted to channel Stevie Nicks.

I suppose I should confess right now that, beyond the glittery scarves, wig and tambourine, everything for my costume came directly from my own closet. That says something, doesn’t it?

imageAs I get older, I find myself I’ve returning to my younger years when it comes to adopting a costume for a night. The Stevie Nicks thing was inspired by that biography I read a couple of months ago and, even though quite a few people thought I was a gypsy rather than a rock and roll goddess, I enjoyed last night’s adopted persona. Special points to those who detected the powdery residue on my nostrils.

The front of the house staff at Lark + Lily proved that they are indeed a family, specifically one with the last name of Ramone. They really rock.

imageHope your Halloween was fun and filled with more treats than tricks!

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Filed under aging, Albany, holidays, Lark Street, Local, Observations, Restaurants

Running with Alabama Shakes, Bradley Cooper and a bag of poop

I tried a new Pandora station for yesterday’s afternoon run – Alabama Shakes radio.  It opened with an Amy Winehouse song and never looked back.  Good stuff.  When the first Alabama Shakes’ song, Always Alright,   came on, it took me immediately back to Silver Linings Playbook, a movie (and book) I absolutely loved.

DSC_0408I started thinking about when I saw the Shakes back in June at Mountain Jam and how, as I was photographing the band for the Times Union, I was approached by a woman who requested that I share some of my photos with her.  It turns out this woman, a hair stylist, had done the lead singer Brittany Howard’s hair that morning and was hoping to get some good images to help promote her business.  Of course, I complied and emailed her a number of jpegs a few days later.

DSC_0393I wondered how I had ever created a life in which I occasionally get to take pictures of famous people.  I mean, really? How friggin lucky am I?  I thought about The Shakes, and the presence of their music in a Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence film, and considered how much I enjoy the talents of each of them.  I shook my head in amazement that I could probably play Six Degrees of Separation and get to Bradley Cooper.  It made me smile – despite the bag of dog poop I was toting.

Speaking of which, sometimes it feels like I’m closer to Bradley Cooper than I am to a trash receptacle when it comes to running my regular 5-mile loop.  While I thoroughly enjoy the thought of having a connection to the very handsome Mr. Cooper, I think I’d be even happier if there were more trash cans available along Whitehall Road and New Scotland Avenue.

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Filed under Albany, concerts, Exercise, Local, Movies, Music, Observations, running, upstate New York