Category Archives: beauty

Coming clean

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I’ve got a thing about soap. Growing up, it was all about Ivory and sometimes, if I could get my hands on my mother’s, Dove. To this day, the scent of either can bring me right back to childhood. Not a bad thing at all, unlike that time when I washed my face with the new soap I found next to the bathroom sink. That one experience with Lava convinced me to never use anything that wasn’t described as “mild” or gentle. Lesson learned.

For the last 20 years or so my favorite soaps are from a company called Pre de Provence. They’re gentle and come in a great variety of different scents, my favorites being the hard to find eucalyptus, sage and, in summer, cocoa butter or verbena. They’re obviously more expensive than what I grew up using, but the bars last a really long time making them a modest indulgence.

A couple of winters ago I discovered the Bliss Mammoth Minty Bar – a huge slab of soap with bumps on one side for massage and gentle exfoliation. Amazing! This soap is as close to a life changer as I have ever experienced in the shower and when I received a surprise bar for Christmas, I couldn’t have been happier.

Speaking of gifts, I was lucky enough to be given a few bars of soap last fall for my birthday that I’m still working my way through. They’re from Chasworth Farm Soaps, a company in Saint Albans, VT and the fragrance these babies emit is heady! I’ve got the egg yolk and honey bar, as well as a lavender thyme one still to go.

Despite my extensive soap experiences I still haven’t explored the local market as I should. I hear really great things about Rad and their new space in Stuyvesant Plaza looks fantastic. Have you checked them out yet? How do you wash your daily grime away?

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Filed under beauty, favorites, Local, Recommendations

Trifecta of halves

img_0356I may be slightly delusional on this topic, but when it comes to running I don’t really consider myself to be competitive. Unless, you’re talking about finishing a race strong and trying to pass other runners as we near the finish line. That’s different.

Early in the year I came up with the idea of running a certain number of miles, not early enough, of course, to come up with a totally balanced schedule to reach my goal, but definitely within the realm of possibility. As the year passed, my goal evolved to include running new to me races, as well as a mini aspiration to run 3 half marathon in 3 consecutive months. Today I made that goal.

One of the coolest things about running is that no two runs are ever exactly the same. The three halves I ran recently have a single thing in common – the 13.1 mile distance. The first one was crazy humid, the course was on roads traveled simultaneously by runners and cars and the last couple of miles were the most taxing. September’s race in Saratoga was, at times, on the road, but it also included trails and paths through a park. It was relatively flat and the weather wasn’t particularly sunny, yet it was pretty comfortable temperature-wise. That run also felt far easier than any of the other longer races that I’ve run. Honestly, it was satisfying as hell.

img_0359Today’s race was a straight up trail run and the conditions were a little gnarly – lots of wet leaves, crazy roots and rocks and fair amount of mud. Pretty much textbook autumn trail conditions, I think. This race, the Hairy Gorilla, was new to me. I’ve done the Squirrely Six, which is the alternate race, a couple of times but I hadn’t ever challenged myself to go the entire distance. Until this morning…

The lunar b*tches were an intact threesome with two of us committed to the half. The weather was the best I’ve ever experienced at this event – comfortable temperature, reasonably dry with peeks of sun along the way. There were spots which were absolutely quagmires and I personally nearly went down twice. I’m actually curious to see how my back feels tomorrow after “catching” myself as I stumbled over pesky roots and doing my best to stay on my feet. I witnessed a couple of spills, but nothing with apparent injuries, and the worst conditions of this race was still better than the best conditions in the Seven Sisters.

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Image: Chrissy O

The views were phenomenal, water and snack stops plentiful, and the people I encountered unfailingly pleasant. I got to cross the finish line with one of my peeps and we had enough time post-race to soak in some wood smoke from the warming fires and have a bite to eat before heading down off the mountain. I’m on pace to meet my 1000 miles for 2016 goal with a feasible 21.5 miles a week for the remainder of the year. I think I got this.

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Filed under beauty, Events, Exercise, friends

When music makes one a little sad – The Cohoes Music Hall

Saturday night, a friend and I drove up 787 to check out a guitar player he admires. It was a miserable night, but I was excited to see a live performance and I had never been to this particular venue before. You know me, always up for a new experience.

I don’t remember the last time I went to Cohoes, but I imagine it has to have been at least 5 or 6 years ago. The area surrounding the music hall is one that I am not familiar with, but it seems to have experienced numerous up and down cycles. Typical for a small city, I imagine. We struggled a little bit to find a parking space, but were able to park a couple of short blocks away and fortunately the rain had temporarily relented.

From the exterior, the Cohoes Music Hall doesn’t tip its hand in any way to reveal that it is a performance venue. Even after stepping inside, there was no indication of where to go to access our seats. The stairs up were our only option, so we took them eventually arriving in a lobby of sorts. There was a coatroom, bathrooms and a concession stand, but it was all kind of oddly situated. I’m all about vintage theaters, but this one just felt a little awkward and not particularly aesthetically pleasing.

We made our way, with the assistance of an usher, to our seats. The lights were still up and we were directed to “our bar” where there were quality options at premium prices. We passed on drinks and settled into our comfortable seats and I began to look around. img_0295

It is definitely a cool venue with decorative ceilings, curved banquet seating and an old fashioned charm, but…

There was a distinct air of neglect to the space with the ceiling art faded and the velveteen upholstery shiny with wear. The state of the room made it feel and look like the step-sister of Albany’s Palace or Schenectady’s Proctor’s. It made me wonder who the theater had originally been constructed to serve and what had happened to those people. Would they ever have been able to imagine the run down condition of what once must have been an elegant performance room?

Eric Johnson was well worth seeing (he plays that guitar with his entire hand), but I left Cohoes wishing we, as a community, could better support this venue. I didn’t expect to get the blues more from the venue than from the actual performance.

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Filed under beauty, concerts, Events, Local, Music, theater, upstate New York

Yurt adventure

dsc_0022What would you do if you arrived at your Adirondack getaway, a yurt in a semi-remote location accessible only by foot, in the dark? Would you confidently venture up a trail that you vaguely remember from that one other time you were there? Keep in mind, of course, that you’re toting a ridiculous amount of gourmet food, as well as 3 hardcover books, a heavy (and delicious) bottle of wine, bottles of water and some other stuff that you think you absolutely must have for the night, all of which equals a heavy load. Oh – and you have a city dog on a leash who just might be afraid of the forest.

Well, if you’re me, you take purposeful strides up that steep hill in the direction that seemed familiar until it no longer felt familiar. After a few minutes of consultation and consideration, you conclude that continuing blindly in the dark is more than a little irresponsible and you head back down the trail which, not too surprisingly, leads to a place other than your original starting point.  Bearings now gained, thanks to an app on your iPhone, you walk out to the road with all of that prosciutto and pâté getting heavier by the minute, and then back up the long and rugged driveway to your car and declare Take 2, summit to yurt.  And this time, you are successful.  Those small reflectors marking the trail really helped.

Once in the yurt, ridiculous city shoes off and fantastic bottle of wine opened, you settle in and begin to enjoy the sense of being away.  Food gets busted out, without benefit of plates or utensils, other than the plastic ones tossed into the Cardona’s bag at the last minute. Candles are lit and the wine is uncorked and then swilled directly from the bottle since you remembered a corkscrew, but not a cup, much less a glass.  You begin to truly relax, charmed by the coziness of the yurt and the company.  Surprisingly, the dog who seemed more than a little tense on the walk (it’s become a “walk” rather than a hike, retrospectively. Thank you, wine) up to camp settles down nicely at the foot of the futon and the sound of a nearby train only adds to the atmosphere. Lovely.

Morning breaks slowly and much later than expected. The skylight above filled with grey then shades of blue which grow increasingly more saturated. The first peek out of the door reveals a golden view of leaves and water and mountains. The air outside doesn’t jar as expected  because it is nearly the same temperature as indoors. A mid-morning meal gets made from last night’s leftovers in the hopes that our load on the way down would be lighter, as were our spirits.  A brief escape successfully managed. We’re definitely doing this again – but with less food and more appropriate footwear.

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Filed under beauty, holidays, road trips, upstate New York

Saratoga morning

I understand that, to some people, going to the track involves a pink sheet and placing bets, but I’ve always enjoyed it best early in the morning before the crowds arrive.  The true beauty of the facility and the horses just shines when the day is new and the air is fresh.  It was a gorgeous morning today and I would have regretted missing the time spent with a good friend far more than I missed those couple of hours of sleep.  You see, Will, is an early riser and I was on the road a little after 6:00 a.m. to meet him.  Watching those horses, full of personality with an apparent need to stretch their legs, was a wonderful way to start the day.  Our post-track breakfast at Siro’s, prepared by the legendary Debbie Klauber, felt very much like a reward for our efforts.  I hope those horses are fed half as good as we were!

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Filed under beauty, breakfast, friends, Local, Recommendations, Saratoga, Summer, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Best race of the year – so far!

imageI’ve got a few running goals for this year that involve total miles run and participating in some races which I’ve never done before. I’m a little off my mark for meeting my goal of 1,000 miles in 2016, but hope to make up my deficit over the summer. As far as new to me races, I’m picking up steam on that front and have entered (and finished!) two new events so far this year with 2 or 3 others in my sights. That’s the future though, and at this time, I’m here to talk about the fantastic race I ran in last night – Summer Solstice Run 2016 in beyond beautiful Minnewaska State Park.

It is impossible for me to put my finger on a single thing that made this run so incredible. The Lunar B*tches were all in place which certainly contributed to the utter joy of the run. My body felt strong and the weather was sublime, I’m talking perfect – no humidity, with warm sun and zero bugs. A dream!

The course was made for me with an opening challenge of about 3 miles of climbing. Fresh legs, good friends and a riot of fragrant mountain laurel all around, made this part of the race manageable. Unlike last month’s 7 Sisters race, the hills weren’t relentless and I never felt overwhelmed by anything other than the stupendous views. I loved seeing the number of runners who could not resist the selfie siren call as we crested hills that opened up to reveal breathtaking views of the park.

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There were three water stations along the route and as I approached all of them, (other than the first) I was surprised to find myself already there. The time absolutely flew by me. Each time my running app ticked off another mile, I shook my head in disbelief. Amazingly, it just didn’t feel like a 14K trail race to me and I swear I would have happily run much longer. Knowing that the end was near once I hit the 8 mile mark, I decided to release the hounds a little and increased my pace picking off runners ahead of me gleefully. The last climb made me a bit gaspy, but when I hit the peak and saw a friend, camera at the ready, I committed to a final kick and turned on the speed finishing the race at my fastest pace.

I can’t wait to run there again.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, friends, road trips, running, Summer, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Sunday papers

imageAn article in the Sunday TU caught my eye.  It’s about speculators folks collecting art and storing it in shipping containers in Geneva, motivated by a wish to inflate the value, rather than to display and enjoy. That’s seriously fucked up. How beautiful is something that is hidden expressly to manipulate its worth? Maybe I’m naive, but I imagine that artists create their work for it to be viewed and appreciated. The actions described in the story just feel soul-less to me.

How do so many people move away from a path of humanness?

It’s impossible to read the paper without seeing a story about political corruption and lack of ethics. Lately, it seems as if every single day provides another example of the apparent separation of financial success and sense of humanity. I can’t decide if it is more sad or disturbing. Either way, I don’t like it.

The common thread I perceive in the two examples above is a lack of appreciation for what they have in life. Having the means to possess a great and tremendous piece of artwork is such a gift. Why would one not celebrate that by feasting one’s eyes on a Miro or Warhol instead of locking it away in a shipping container?

Who are these people who find money more beautiful than art?

As for the political nonsense that we’re subjected to currently, it’s incredibly disheartening. The combination of arrogance and selfish is astounding. How do these people ever believe that their actions – the bids and the contracts resulting in the accumulation of personal wealth, are permissible? When did the moral disconnect occur?

Why are there so many people who find money more valuable than trust and honesty?

I’m voting for Bernie.

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Filed under aging, beauty, musings, News, Observations, politics, Rant, sunday, Uncategorized