Category Archives: Albany

A sure sign of spring…

960x540Last weekend’s New York in Bloom flower show at the NYS museum is the ultimate harbinger of spring’s impending arrival. Click through for my Seen gallery on the TU site. As always, the museum and the exhibitor’s did us proud while raising funds for a worthy cause!

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Filed under Albany, favorites, Flowers, SEEN, Spring, Uncategorized

Restaurant families

imageAfter more than three decades in the restaurant business, I know a few things. Some of the knowledge I’ve gained is related to food – how to make a buerre blanc or hollandaise and what to do with an excess of vegetables (frittata, risotto or soup).

I’ve learned about wine and spirits and the significance of all the minutia that is involved with creating an atmosphere that welcomes guests and makes them want to return. All of this is important to being successful in the hospitality industry but it pales in comparison to what I’ve come to know about people.

As a server my focus, naturally, is on my guests. I sincerely want those that I take care of to be happy and I have been so fortunate to be able to wait on some of the same people since my long ago undergraduate days. They’ve witnessed my life and the connection we share crosses our respective sides of the table to a place somewhere in the middle. Many of them know which nights I work and I do my best to recall who likes to sit where and which glass of wine they enjoyed last time they were in. We’re familiar with one another.

Over the years, though, there have been situations which have proven that the most valuable thing I have learned about the restaurant business is that the people I have worked with are my family. We’ve shared annoyances, laughter and the stress of a life that is utterly unpredictable every single shift. At the end of the night, while counting money and emptying trash bins, we have connected over a glass of wine (or two) and then hugged good night before heading to our cars to return to our other families.

It’s been a really tough couple of months for my family. The losses right now are so utterly outweighing triumphs and joys that my heart is echoing with absence. As we come together again to support one another, to embrace each other in love and sorrow during a time which feels impossibly tragic, the ability of our industry to create connections between people eclipses in importance any other aspect of the job.

Each shift on the floor comes with the guarantee of there being something new to witness or with which to contend. At this time of sadness, it is vital that we also remember with that same certainty that we are a family.  Always.

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Filed under Albany, family, friends, Observations, relationships, Restaurants

Dirty in the DelSo

Tuesday was a long day in my neighborhood. I first got the news in the early morning – a water main had burst and the police, but not yet the water department, were on hand. I considered getting up and running some water in my bath tub, but since I’m on vacation, I rolled over and went back to sleep.

When I finally did get out of bed, my water flowed like normal from the pipes and I immediately forgot my earlier plan to store some water in the tub. I made coffee, gave Jeter fresh water and even mopped with no apparent end in sight to my water supply. Until I wanted to wash my hands a short time later and instead of water, I got spitting air from the faucet. My hands immediately felt filthy.

The neighbors started checking in via text and calls – one had been mid-shower when her water dried up, others had immediately assumed that the problem was more localized, perhaps even limited to their own homes in the form of burst pipes. Fortunately, we shared the limited information we had since the city wasn’t exactly forthcoming. It was after 10:00 before we received some official information when a water department employee canvassed the neighborhood and informed us that we would be without water until approximately 4:30 in the afternoon. Great.

Surprisingly, I had water for a brief moment midmorning and was able to get 8″ of dirty water in my tub for toilet flushing. It’s the little things, right? When the water still wasn’t on (without benefit of any updates from the water department) by 5:15, I abandoned hopes of roasting a chicken and ordered Chinese* instead. Naturally, while I was in the parking lot I received a text that the water was flowing again.

I arrived home with a Chinese feast for the boys and the promise of a hot bath for me. I had a renewed appreciation for running water along with the hope that our city’s infrastructure might be shown some love and attention in the city budget.It wasn’t a tremendous inconvenience for us to be without water for 12 hours, but I worry that other residents might really be challenged when basic services fail.

*Ocean Palace does such a great job – and such nice people!

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Local, winter

The State of our State makes me angry

  • I’m angry that Sheldon Silver was given the courtesy of sitting in a position of prestige at this week’s State of the State address when the state’s teachers are not invited to sit at the table and truly participate in education reform and improvement.
  • I’m angry that Sheldon Silver, along with the governor and other elected officials, is responsible for the educational, social and financial policies of NYS, a task with which he doesn’t deserve to be trusted.
  • I’m angry that for the last 5 years or so my profession has been under constant attack while Speaker Silver has been profiting from illegal business deals for decades.
  • I’m angry that Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly maligned the teachers of this state while protecting those he promised to prosecute.
  • I’m angry that dedicated and experienced educators have been made to feel like criminals when, in fact, the real felons are drafting absurd policies to evaluate how we are doing our jobs.  I’ve been a librarian for nearly twenty years and the measure of how well I do job is going to be based upon a test that I give students who want to check out a book or need research help?  How about that facility I manage?
  • I’m angry that 7 of the 12 charter schools in my district have closed, yet the governor has tied an increase in educational state aid to an increase in the number of charter schools permitted, along with the removal of limitations regarding how many such schools can be placed in a particular region.
  • I’m angry that other sitting New York State Democrats have not expressed their commitment to eliminating corruption and ridding our government of politicians who think that holding public office means that they are somehow above the law.
  • I’m angry that more people don’t vote.

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

Hot yoga, even when it’s not hot

With Andrea from The Hot Yoga Spot

With Andrea from The Hot Yoga Spot

Saturday I took advantage of the kind of deal that makes a cold January morning hot – a free 45 minute class taught by Andrea of The Hot Yoga Spot studio(s) and hosted at the new Athleta store at Crossgates Mall. This awesome community partnership will provide additional classes for each subsequent Saturday this month and I intend to make it to at least two more sessions. Maybe you should come, too!

So? How does it work? Simple. Take a look at the schedule, call the store to RSVP and show up with your mat, water and a towel. The classes are held right in the store (which is on the upper level across from Pottery Barn, next to Williams-Sonoma) before the store opens. Yesterday’s class was fairly small, but there is plenty of potential room for larger classes since most of the displays are on wheels and can easily be rolled out of the way.

Photo taken from Athleta's Twitter feed.

Photo taken from Athleta’s Twitter feed.

The class was a perfect way to begin a busy morning, gentle enough for newbies but with enough flow to create a little heat. The store is definitely not your usual yoga space, but an effort was made to keep the lights fairly low and the lack of mirrors convinced me I was doing everything right. A bonus for sure is the opportunity to shop prior to the store’s opening to the general public. I didn’t purchase anything yesterday, but I’ve got my eye on a sweet cashmere sweater and hope to snatch it up next week.  Don’t forget to ask for a Chi card.  If you attend 4 classes or events this month submit your completed card and you’re entered to win a $250 outfit!

3-legged down dog

3-legged down dog

I just made my reservation for next week’s class scheduled to be taught by one of my favorite of The Hot Yoga Spot’s instructors, Aaron. Now that my spot is secure, I can comfortably hit “publish” on this post and invite you all to book a little mat time for yourselves, but, I’d appreciate it if you could leave that adorable cropped cashmere sweater for me, ok?

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Filed under Albany, Events, Exercise, Local, Recommendations, yoga

Seven-year (p)itch

So…this Wednesday, 12/17, is the 7th anniversary of the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark. Yes, that did go fast! I’ve been onboard for the last 4 years and consider myself fortunate to be able to continue having a presence in the local food scene in such a special spot, especially since my availability is generally limited to a single night of the week.

Lucky me, though, – I work Wednesday nights and will be on hand to celebrate our milestone. And you know what? You should be, too! We’ll be featuring a few items from the original menu, at the original prices, and selected bottles of 2007 vintage wines will be available at a 50% discount. See? You’re lucky, too!

That’s a date then, right?

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Filed under Albany, Dinner, Eating, Events, Food, Lark Street, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Wine

Capitalizing on Capital Hills

IMG_3310I attended a meeting Tuesday evening in the Club House at Capital Hills. The weather, snowy and wet, was perfectly appropriate for the topic at hand – the sharing of ideas about winter activities at the golf course. As a year round, non-golfing user of the course, I knew this was a meeting I didn’t want to miss.

The meeting was hosted by golf course staff and attended by city recreation department employees as well as interested residents, in total, approximately 20 people or so. For the first 20 minutes, the conversation centered upon the lack of notification about the meeting and dog poop. Once that crap* was out-of-the-way, we got down to business.

Here are some things you may not know about Albany Muni Capital Hills:
• There are 4.75 miles of cart paths. Typically, snow is removed from these paved routes to facilitate dog walking.
• Generally, after 8+” of snow there are more than 6 miles of trails groomed for skiing.
• The golf course is comprised of nearly 300 acres, approximately two-thirds of which is not greens.
• The nearby Normanskill Farm adds an additional 200 acres of basically undeveloped land.
• Martel’s Restaurant has meeting, fundraiser and banquet space available.

Ideas bandied about include:
• Having ski rentals and how-to clinics available on designated days, organized perhaps by local ski equipment outfitters.
• A Winter Carnival and other events.
• Formal bird watching/nature walks.
• An Easter egg hunt.
• Fundraising opportunities via photography, i.e. a calendar of the Dogs of Capital Hills.

The meeting felt very much like a starting point in a potentially awesome initiative.  There’s plenty of time for you to get involved.  Contact the City Parks and Recreation Department or the course’s superintendent, Scott Gallup to be part of it.

*sorry!

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Filed under Albany, Events, Exercise, family, ideas, Local, Normanskill, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing