Category Archives: Albany

Universal thoughts

On Sunday I took a walk at the golf course and found the most fantastic piece of deer “shed.” It was lying in the meadow, completely exposed and bleached white, a four-point rack from a buck. I could scarcely believe it was just there in grass, there where no one else had seen or taken it. I picked it up, surprised by the smoothness, and accepted it as a gift from the universe. You know, because that’s the kind of relationship the universe and I have.     

I’m completely convinced that I was rewarded for something that happened a couple of days ago. I had been at the grocery store picking up what I needed for Christmas Eve dinner and noticed the deli counter was featuring two different prosciuttos. The price per pound difference between the two was significant so I asked if I could sample both. As expected, the $19.99 per lb version was significantly better – less salty, more tender. You know, better. I placed my ordered and happened to catch the clerk ringing my purchase up and couldn’t help but see that she entered the wrong PLU. Instead of prosciutto she keyed in the code for pancetta, an item that was only $11.99 a pound.

Enter moral dilemma…

There was a significant line of folks behind me looking to order and I didn’t want to hold anyone up. I also was hesitant to point out the mistake in front of a crowd of people. I didn’t say anything.

I finished shopping, debating internally the whole while, and  selected a register, unloading my cart onto the conveyer belt. I gave the clerk my coupons and rewards card and the pancetta prosciutto. I told her a mistake had been made and that the package was mislabeled and therefor mispriced. She called a manager over to make the price adjustment, but first the employee asked me if I knew the correct price. I did and shared it with her. She looked at me. With an expression of disbelief, she asked me another question “So, you want to pay more?”

Well, yeah. I don’t mind paying for what I receive and I don’t need to invite bad karma or negative energy or something gained from an unethical exchange into my life. No, thanks on that.

The manager warmly told me to “get out” and not to worry about the discrepancy and I think we both felt better about humanity in general by our exchange.

The very next day, I found my shed on a path I infrequently walk. Undoubtably, it was an acknowledgment from the universe of the correctness of my action. Incidents like this communicate to me that sometimes you truly do get back what you put out in terms of energy. It doesn’t always work like this for me or anyone else, but if you keep your eyes open you may find an opportunity to do the right thing, as well as a sign from nature that you made the right choice.

Enough writing. It’s time to look out the train window and see if I can spot more bald eagles. I already was lucky enough to see one.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Christmas, Dinner, holidays, Local, musings, Observations, Random, Recommendations, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter

Rainy run reward

When you make plans with your two favorite running partners more than a week in advance, it isn’t possible to predict the weather. No surprise then that the evening arrived with a pissing rain that would inspire most folks to skip the 5 miles and head directly to a restaurant for some holiday cheer. But, we luna b*tches are a hearty breed and despite a moment’s wishful thinking, we were committed. We headed out at about 6:30 and, surprisingly, the rain wasn’t nearly as bad as we had anticipated. I mean, we got soaked, but it wasn’t particularly cold, and the holiday lights decorating the homes along our route provided a warmth of their own.

Following our run, we cleaned up and drove to our dinner destination – Capital City Gastropub. I hadn’t been there in a few months, the menu is always interesting, and their burger is consistently dynamite. We arrived a bit after 8:00 and were immediately seated in a comfy corner. After selecting drinks (the Cremant I wanted wasn’t available, but I was happy with my Sauvignon Blanc) and an order of Brussels sprouts, we made some decisions about what to eat.

My go to order here is the Kilcoyne burger, rare, no bun but with cheddar cheese and carmelized onions. Fries crispy, please. Without fail, my burger arrives exactly as requested with a great sear, beautifully seasoned and always perfectly cooked. The fries, such a seemingly simple side dish, are burn-my-mouth hot and worth every fatty calorie, something that is far too frequently not the case when I order them at other places. 

The Brussels sprouts arrived, firm and bright in a light sweet and sour sauce filled with umami. So different than the usual fried or bacon garnished preparations seen around town. We finished them up and shortly afterwards, our mains arrived. My burger was prepared precisely as ordered and the other two plates were also well received. K went with the New Scotland Hot Chicken sandwich, a riff on Nashville style hot chicken and was really happy with her choice. The spice level was balanced and not blazing and the portion was generous without being overwhelming. C’s Grilled Squash Sandwich was nicely presented and seemed to satisfy the need for a solid, but not too heavy meal. We shared a Bibb lettuce salad on the side which was the ideal accompaniment to our plates and tweaked K’s fondness for citrus and greens.

There were no pictures taken of the food because we were too busy eating and talking and laughing to pause for anything beyond this little selfie.

Dinner – an appetizer, a salad, three sandwiches, 3 glasses of wine and a soda totaled $96 pre-tip, a small price to pay for the satisfaction we got from running 5 miles in the rain and rewarding ourselves with simple food made from quality ingredients. You’re welcome to skip the run, but don’t miss eating here.

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Filed under Albany, Christmas, Dinner, drinking, Eating, Exercise, favorites, Food, friends, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, running, Uncategorized

Current favorite cocktail – Fall Spritz!

I’m more a wine or cider girl, but I’m smitten with Amaro, an Italian liqueur. There’s something about this herbaceous, syrupy elixir that I really enjoy when I’m looking for a nightcap of just few sips of something alcoholic. I picked up a bottle of it last winter when I was coming home from Rome and every so often it’s exactly what I’m looking for at the end of a night.

Flipping through the November issue of Bon Appetit last week, I came across a super simple (2 ingredients and a citrus garnish) cocktail using Amaro and just knew it would be the perfect cocktail to offer my guests at our family Thanksgiving dinner – the Fall Spritz. It’s four parts of dry, hard cider to one part Amaro. Talk about two of my favorite things! As I finished the food preparations, I handed the magazine and the task to my trusty neighbor and he mixed us up a batch.

It was a delicious way to start a festive night – fairly low in alcohol, not overly sweet and with a bit of effervescence from the cider. Yummy! It was a unanimous verdict and that round of drinks, I expect, will not be the last time we enjoy that particular libation together.

I stopped downtown the other night at dp’s, intending to indulge in one of their well crafted cocktails from the current list, however, I stopped in my tracks when I read the ingredients of an appealing cocktail. There was one made with Amaro! I cheekily asked the bartender if he would go off menu and make me a fall spritz. As ever, he accommodated my request and made two versions using different styles of Amaro. It seems there are many varieties and they range in color (and taste, I imagine) from light to dark amber.

My preference is the darker version and that was the cocktail I selected – and thoroughly enjoyed. I may need more Amaro.

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Filed under Albany, drinking, favorites, friends, Local, Recommendations, Uncategorized, winter

Lit

I woke up Thanksgiving morning and started my usual routine – bathroom to pee, brush my teeth and clean my nightguard. I brush and then soak the night guard in some fizzy solution last year’s 8th-grade homeroom advised me on. To dissolve the tablet you toss it in very warm, but not hot water.

Since it’s first thing in the morning, I expect to run the water a few extra seconds to get the water to the tap from the hot water heater in the basement two stories down. Yesterday, though, was different. The water just didn’t get warmer. I immediately assumed I’d go to the basement to find a burst or wildly leaking hot water heater and anticipated dropping $750 or some other crazy-right-before-the-holidays price to replace and install a new one.

I decided to have coffee before venturing downstairs.

Twenty minutes later, I rounded the corner from the stairs to face the hot water heater…actually, heaters. There are two and I first needed to determine which was mine. Fortunately, neither had any water leaking. Good news. I touched the one on the right and it felt warm. No doubt, it was on. I moved towards the other one, on the left, covered in cobwebs. Great.

Of course, that one, mine, was cold. The pilot wasn’t lit. I went upstairs, did a little research (perhaps the thermocoupler needed to be replaced?) and returned with a flash light and some matches, not able to find the stick lighter in the drawer. Maybe it ran away with the hammer. I can’t find that either. Back downstairs, I crouched down and read directions for lighting the pilot and was relieved to find that I didn’t have to provide fire to light the pilot. It had its own ignitor. I thought back to when I first learned how to relight a hot water heater.

I was probably 12 or so. We had recently moved into what would be the longest term residence of my life until I bought my own house. The house felt special because it was ours, sort of. My mother’s boyfriend had bought it and done some work to make it habitable, after a period of vacancy. We could paint any color we wanted to, as long as we agreed to the same one, and we each had our own bedrooms. Without heat. Sometimes in the depths of winter, the interior of the windows would be frozen from exhaled breaths and dreams. We were teenagers and had lots of blankets. It was fine.

There were times when we didn’t have heat in the house other than that cast off by the wood burning stove my brother fed like a mother nurses a newborn. If the uninsulated, built above a dirt foundation, house got too cold we’d wake to have no water whatsoever. During really cold spells, that might be our situation for a few days. On occasion we had oil for the furnace and propane for hot water and cooking, but if we didn’t, we learned to adapt to what was available. It’s just how it was.

So, lighting that water heater, all those years ago. I remember being mad. I was a kid. This was an adult’s responsibility, not mine. I was frustrated. Other people just had hot water and heat all the time. They could boil things on the stove because they had gas. Why was our shit so inconsistent?

And I was scared. Gas scared me. Electricity scared me. Is that weird?

But, we needed hot water (not for the washing machine, we didn’t have one of those,) and there actually had been a propane delivery. We must have been caught up on our bills,* for a change. I wanted a shower and my brother wasn’t home to take care of it. I didn’t have a choice – it had to be taken care of and there was no one else.

The utility room was down the hall, on the other side of a door that led to a part of the house we didn’t use. It wasn’t fit to occupy with its glassless windows and concrete floors. The hot water heater was by far the newest piece of hardware and I kneeled, practically genuflecting, next to it. I remember there was a red button that needed to pressed, and maybe you had to count to three, before inserting a match into a blowhole of sorts and then, trusting that it was lit, the knob had to be released and turned a particular way. It felt intense. I hated it.

Just like yesterday, I lit it.

“our bills?” I was 12, they weren’t mine.

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Filed under Albany, Education, girlhood, house, musings, Uncategorized

Grooving with The Suffers

I don’t know what you did Wednesday night, but I doubt you more fun than I did. It was one of those wonderful Albany nights that come along, with unpredictable frequency, when everything flowed. It was just a great night.

A big part of the enjoyable evening was a concert at The Egg. A band from Houston, called The Suffers, were playing and we had tickets for the 7:30 show. I had heard their music on WEXT 97.7 and liked their sound, but we weren’t sure what to expect not being overly familiar with the band.* Promptly at 7:30, the 8 member band walked onto the stage in the Egg’s smaller theater, and immediately heated up the underpopulated room.

The lead singer, the ripe Kam Franklin, acknowledged the size of the crowd and promised a great show, which she ultimately delivered. Her vibe is absolutely juicy with laughter, terrific banter and a voice that is rich with range and tone. While there were glimpses, to me, of Tina Turner and Brittany Howard, Kam is completely her own unique ray of light and was simply a joy to watch.

The tight 90-minute set was fun, sexy and completely captivating. The audience was appreciative and many took advantage of the available elbow room and danced in and out of their seats. It didn’t matter how many people were present. Those of us there, knew we were the lucky ones to be able to say we were at The Suffers first Albany show. You should make a point to be at their next one.

 

*Once again 97.7 WEXT feeds me new music.

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Filed under Albany, concerts, Events, favorites, friends, Local, Music, Recommendations, Uncategorized

Trying on Rent the Runway

I like clothes. Period. Honestly, I’ve been like this my whole life. One of my earliest memories is of a lacy pink “bra” and panties set that I had when I was about 3 years old. I recall whipping off any clothing that may have hidden this fabulous outfit whenever our doorbell rang, keeping our visitors waiting at the door until I was ready to  be seen. True story.  I’m still a bit enamored of lingerie, but most days I manage to keep my undergarments private, choosing instead to exert my sartorial sense in a more appropriate manner.

And, man do I love pretty dress.

There have been a bunch fun events in recent months and I’ve been giving my wardrobe a workout. I’ve got an embarrassing amount of clothing, with a fair amount of pretty dresses mixed in, but I was getting low on new looks. I didn’t want to buy another thing to add to my (double-sided) garment rack, nor was I interested in spending money on a garment with limited capacity to be repeated…

What a perfect time to sample Rent the Runway.

I signed up for an account, but not a plan, and began stalking the site. Eventually, I downloaded the app and started receiving fairly aggressively frequent emails. No worries. It left me in a position to sit back and see what kind of offers came my way, finally jumping when I scored a 30-day Unlimited Plan for $106. I was able to select and borrow four items at a time with unlimited exchanges. There were no cleaning, shipping or insuring charges and most of the gowns I had my eye on were part of the plan. Great.

I ordered my items on a Thursday and received them the next day, all bundled together in a compact fabric bag looking surprisingly small. I unzipped the bag and hung the garments on back-of-the-door hooks, giving the wrinkles some time to loosen up.

Then the party began!

It was like the best dressing room in your favorite four stores – lighting that familiar because it was in your home, all your shoes in one place, and every piece of lingerie necessary right in your drawer. Winning.

I loved one of the two gowns and, fortunately, it was the one which was my first choice for an event next month. This dress would have cost $80 to rent, had I not purchased a plan and instead simply rented this particular item for 4 days. There were two sweater dresses, also, for work and weekend wear, and one of the two has worked out really well. I think I’m going to keep it another week and wear it for a third occasion. The other? Not so much. The fit wasn’t great and that’s kind of everything with a sweater dress, don’t you think?

I’ll keep you posted on the remainder of the month with an update or two. Share your experiences with a clothing delivery/rental service in the comments!

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Filed under Albany, beauty, concerts, Dinner, Events, Fashion, favorites, holidays, NYC, Observations, Recommendations, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Three current crushes…November edition

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Bliss in a glass.

The Manhattan at New World Bistro Bar. I’ve been lucky enough to have the same bartender on my last two visits to NWBB, and she makes a dynamite Makers Mark Manhattan that is exactly how I like and order it – up and teeny bit sweet. I’ve been too captivated by my companion(s) to get her name, but she was there on a Sunday and Wednesday and is not Sara Jane…

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A bed with a mix of crisp cotton, soft flannel and the comforting weight of down. Heaven.

The foliage was slow to come this ear, but the reds really kicked in these last few days and it was worth the wait. Stunning. What a marvel nature is!

Care to share what you’re crushing on?

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Filed under Albany, beauty, drinking, favorites, house, Local, Observations, Recommendations, Restaurants, Uncategorized, upstate New York