Category Archives: Boston

Who are you?

Yeah, you. My reader. It’s been more than 7 years, 2 domains and a divorce since DelSo was born. Over the years I’ve shared a lot of my life and self here, in print. You, as a reader, have come to know me on some level from my words. What makes you return here (assuming you’re not new around these parts) and read what I write? Let me remind you of some of what I’ve related to you in the hope that you might feel inclined to share with me – who you are, reader? Why are you here?

There have been so many miles – more plane rides than I could have ever imagined, along with  runs and races and road trips. I’ve  explored cities with my boys and my girlfriends and solo. My feet have run in a half dozen different countries and probably about the same number of states.

My home has evolved from a house with two full-time parents to one of three part-time children. There have been physical improvements, rooms repurposed and painted, new rugs and furniture rearranged. It feels different. After a refinance or two, I know it’s mine.

I’ve written about books I’ve read and movies and concerts I’ve seen. Increasingly, politics and my dismay with our current leadership have been topics I’ve felt compelled to write about.

My children and the challenges of being a parent frequently provide fodder for posts. While the joys outweigh the frustrations, parenthood remains a roller coaster ride that keeps me on the edge of my seat with a scream threatening to escape. It’s a heart racing ride.

Sometimes I cook or bake and post recipes and photos of the fruits of my labors. Food and wine are a big part of my life and I’ve happily shared my experiences with you.  Oh – and there’s that wine bar that I own.

There have been times when I wrote with sadness or anger, but I think I mostly write from a place of understanding and acceptance. Balance and moderation are woven throughout much of what I write.

Health and wellness have been covered and the miracle of menopause has been mentioned.  The heartbreak of addiction and the threat of cancer have been present. I’ve learned to ski and have found bliss in pigeon pose in a room heated to 100+ degrees.

It’s all here – my life.  Not perfect, not necessarily what I ever imagined it to be, but a life that I feel grateful for in a city that I have come to love.

Will you tell me why you visit my life?

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What I now know about pressure cookers…

They scare me.
I’ve always considered the pressure cooker to be the most menacing piece of kitchen equipment.  I understand the appeal of cooking something super fast, rather than leaving it to braise for hours upon hours, but I was always intimidated by their mystery.  This past week has only confirmed my fears.

They continue to make a contribution to contemporary life.
Last Monday’s events at the Boston Marathon added the verbalized request from my youngest child of “Please don’t get killed at your race on Sunday” to the terrorism dialogue I have had with my children over the years.  The opening statement in this conversation came in the form of question in September of 2001: “Why do the buildings keep falling down?” I don’t like having to revisit these acts of violence with my boys, and I am resentfully heartbroken about the necessity of these talks.  It sucks.

They boggle me with their capabilities.
I don’t understand a lot of what happened last week.  I can’t grasp that so much carnage can come from ball bearings, nails and other bits of metal.  I will never accept that an elected official could make a statement like this, and while I’m not beyond a bit of suspicion when it comes to my government (weapons of mass destruction,  anyone?), I really don’t believe there is any type of conspiracy theory worthy activity here, either.

They work quickly, but not necessarily reliably.
The media coverage was at least as explosive as an overheated pressure cooker.  The unsubstantiated information circulated was alarming and it was difficult to look away from my Twitter feed.  When those pictures of the two suspects were “broadcast,” it became impossible to ignore the immediacy of current news technology.  It was breathtaking.

I don’t ever want one in my home.

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Filed under Boston, Boys, Events, musings, News, Observations, politics, Uncategorized

Get a room!

The Westin in Boston
Radisson on Lexington, NYC
There’s a part of me that keeps waiting for life to slow down a little – it has been a pretty wild ride for the last 6 weeks or so, and I really am hoping to spend some quality time at home, putzing in my front garden and getting a few spring cleaning chores accomplished.  My busy family/ social calendar has provided me with a number of recent opportunities to stay in hotels and I thought it might be interesting to relate my experiences to you all, for what it’s worth.

In the last month and a half, I have stayed at 6 different hotels in 4 different states – 5, if we include the District of Columbia.  We all know that hotels can be expensive, and I’m a fan of getting a good deal in all things travel related, so let me offer you some tips. 
  1. Create an email account just for travel related websites.  I receive offers from Hotwire, Hotels.com, Travel Ticker, Groupon, Living Social and Travelocity and it’s nice to have them all in one place devoted to travel. 
  2. Consider linking your credit card with a rewards program.  I like the Hilton family of hotels (Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Embassy Suites, etc) and often use my credit card to earn points even if I have the cash in my pocket to make a purchase. 
  3. If there’s a problem with your accommodations, don’t suffer in silence!  Give the business an opportunity to correct the issue and make you happy.  That’s how companies create repeat business and brand loyalty. Now, some specific hotel information from my recent travels…
I was in Boston at the end of January for a wonderful surprise birthday party. The Westin was the perfect place to stay for me – an easy walk to my transportation hub, South Station, and a Starbuck’s right in the lobby.  My most favorite thing about this hotel, though, was the available map of recommended running routes.  It definitely is a niche thing, but one that I found to be the perfect amenity for me.

The first night, and also the last night, of my February train trip was booked at the Radisson on Lexington Ave in NYC.  Well, initially, that was the plan.  I had jumped on a Hotwire deal ($118 a night) and reserved the “bookend” nights of our vacation in a spot that would be convenient to Grand Central Station.  Upon our arrival, though, I began to consider other options.  The hotel wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great.  The carpeting seemed dirty and the bathroom was really small.  The proximity to Central Park was good and the staff was pleasant, but, I certainly wasn’t looking forward to returning to this place.  
Koi pond!
Since we were arriving in D.C. after dark, I thought we should spend our initial night in a location convenient to Union Station.  I selected the an Embassy Suites in the Foggy Bottom area of D.C. and then proceeded to navigate our way to the wrong Embassy Suites.  Oh, well, it was a lovely, mild night and we ultimately jumped into a cab to get there.  We were feeling beat and we indulged in takeout delivery, which is one of my fairly new, favorite things to do – very self-indulgent.  This hotel was nice and the standard Embassy Suites courtyard was kicked up a notch by the addition of a Koi pond, a cool bonus that came with an opportunity to feed the fish in the morning.  The best thing, though, in my opinion, about the Embassy Suites is how perfectly they are set up for families.  From the two-room suite to the generous breakfast and the evening cocktail hour (manager’s reception), they really know how to provide value.  And how to address a less than happy guest, but that story is for part two of this post.
To be continued…

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Filed under Boston, D.C., NYC, Recommendations, travel, Washington

Dreadmill Blues

image: benjamuna.files.wordpress.com
When I first began running after my shoulder surgery, it was winter and I made use of the treadmill at the gym. I really had no complaints about the experience. I could listen to music, watched muted Home and Garden television and people watch – all at the same time without tripping. I was motivated by the display screen and played around with the incline and speed, watching the calories count off. Actually, it was probably one of the few times I considered myself to be a numbers person. I never really understood the blanket dislike of running on a treadmill, I mean, what’s so bad about running like a hamster in a cage?  For outdoors time, I had the golf course for cross-country skiing. Remember when it used to snow here in the winter?

In the past couple of months, though, I’ve found myself  beginning to understand the disdain for this type of exercise. Maybe it started at the Greenbush Area YMCA where they have televisions mounted from the ceiling rather than individual screens on each machine.  It might have been the incessant FOX “news” assaulting my eyes that first turned me off to running as fast as I can without creating any distance between myself and something I find repulsive.  And if it wasn’t that, the episode of Paula Deen “cooking” with canned mushroom soup and multiple sticks of butter certainly was enough to make me uncomfortable.  Gross.  But, I believe my major issue with running on a treadmill comes from the basic fact that I simply enjoying being outside.  In recent months, I’ve actually had a couple of moments when I’ve been running and I thought to myself, “If it all ended right now, I’d be happy.”  I’ve never replicated that emotion indoors on a treadmill, believe me.
Quinn and I are preparing for our epic train trip later in the month and I’m a bit stressed about getting my weekly miles in.  I’m hoping to cob together some sort of babysitting when we’re on the road and I’ll bring a swimsuit also, just in case.  Last week when I was in Boston, the hotel had a running concierge – have you ever heard of such a thing?!? Apparently it is a weather dependent service, but I thought it was a really cool amenity to offer guests.  The timing of it didn’t work for me, but check this out:
Now, granted, it was Boston and I always get lost in Boston, but it was an awesome little map nonetheless.  As I try to push my weekly mileage closer to the 20 mile mark, my acceptance of a lack of snow, (and thus no cross-country skiing), feels far more natural than running indoors.  Let’s hope D.C., Baltimore and NYC offer opportunities similar to Boston or else the only thing more dreadful than the dreadmill will be my mood.

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Filed under Boston, Exercise, musings, winter, x-country skiing

(Un)Chain My Heart

I’m all about independence. Looking in my pantry and seeing shelves filled with good food that I selected, purchased and carried home in my reusable bags gives me pleasure. Writing that check the other day for the property taxes on my home gave me a twinge of happiness that originated in the realization that I can make this thing called life work. This penchant for independence carries over into many areas of my life and influences my decisions on a regular basis. For instance, if there is a choice between two items, one made by an individual and the other mass produced, well, it’s a no brainer. My optician is a real person in an office that bears his name. And no, his name isn’t America’s Best or Lens Crafters. I can’t imagine ordering pizza from Papa John or Domino’s or choosing cheesecake from a Factory when we are blessed with Cheesecake Machismo.

Once in a great while, however, an exception presents itself. As in Mr. Fussy’s predilection for Chipotle or the love I have for a perfectly prepared Caramel Machiatto from Starbuck’s. Rules are made to be broken, no? Which brings me to the fondness I have for a chain (gasp!) restaurant I was turned on to in Boston. It all began a couple of years ago on Labor Day weekend. I had arrived in Boston hungry – and clueless about where to go to rectify the situation. If you’ve traveled with me before you know I refuse to go to chain restaurants preferring to find something representative of my location. I’m also kind of particular about what I eat. I just don’t feel good about eating poorly prepared or overly processed foods, so I avoid them. Walking down Newbury Street seemed my best route to find something good and my obsessiveness patience was rewarded when I encountered a couple exiting a place that looked promising – The Capital Grille. In my defense, I had no idea this place had multiple locations. The menu looked good, the departing diners were very enthusiastic about their experience and the bar was inviting. I was in.

Everything about my meal was enjoyable – the carpaccio, oysters and salad, the wine selection by the glass, the nice folks I talked to throughout my meal. Not a single bump in the road. Then dessert came along…

I was in Boston last weekend – eating this was my motivation for a run!
Holy coconut cream pie!! Have you ever seen such a gorgeous hunk of creamy, toasted coconut goodness in your life? The pie is served in an individual shortbread-ish and coconut shell that could easily serve three polite sharers. The filling is creamy with a hint of rum and the topping is miraculously light, even with that drizzle of caramel sauce. Unfrigging believable. I tracked down a recipe that looks promising and may attempt it this weekend. I make no promises other than if I do, I will visually share my results. 

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Filed under baking, Boston, Eating, favorites, Recipes, Recommendations

Fenway Park – (Forgive me, Thurman)

Although there isn’t an appropriate box to check off on a census form, I have been in a mixed marriage.  You see, Tom is a Red Sox fan and I am a lifelong Yankee fan.  It really wasn’t a problem for us since the two older boys had been equally divided. As is the case in most things, Quinn will be our ultimate wildcard once he pledges allegiance to a team.  I’ll try to not lobby too hard and just hope that he has a natural affinity to go with the team that has a presence in my  hometown – Derek Jeter’s mother is part of a large family which summered in GWL and he purchased and completely renovated their family compound a number of years ago, making him a Laker, just like me!  If you ever get to Greenwood Lake, N.Y. take the west shore road (Jersey Avenue for you non locals) and drive almost to the New Jersey border.  Make a left and you’ll see his place on your right – and keep your distance please.  Celebrity stalking is so last year.

Rivalries aside, last week Griffin and I travelled to Boston for a quick getaway.  Ok, nothing is quick when it begins with an Amtrak ride (6 hours to get to Boston with the hour delay  factored in.  Really? 6 hours?), but it was a rather condensed visit.  We arrived late Thursday, dropped our bags off at our hotel and grabbed a quick, late dinner at the Capital Grille.  Friday morning, while Albany was getting hammered with snow, Boston was pounded by torrential rain.  Or, as I came to think of it, the tears of Thurman Munson were falling furiously upon us as I ventured into the enemy zone. 

We arrived at the ballpark in the late morning and bought tickets for the 11:00 a.m. tour.  We met our rather colorful tour guide in the gigantic gift shop and allowed him to share his extensive knowledge of the team, the ballpark as well as some pretty bad jokes.  When I asked him if there was a bathroom nearby, (thinking there might be an electric handdryer which I could use to dry my soaking wet hair), he informed me that there might be a restroom mid-way through the tour.  We found a  common ground of humor when I told him I wouldn’t be opposed to pissing on the field in a true emergency.  He assured me it wouldn’t be the first time that happened and we were on our way. The tour took approximately an hour and included a walk around a good bit of the park and the chance to sit in some pricy seats on the Green Monster.  I have to tell you, it is a fabulous ballpark.  I’ve only been to a couple of major league ballparks over the years (neither of which still exist), so it isn’t as if I have a lot of ballpark experience, but this place did feel special.    Our guide did a great job of being entertaining, informative and borderline inappropriate and I learned some cool things.  For instance, the numbers on the side of the exterior wall were not, as I teased Griffin, the string of numbers from Lost, but instead were the handful of numbers permanantly retired by the team.  These same numbers appear inside the stadium behind right field and if you were to enlarge the photo above you would see that the number on the far right, #42, is a different color than all the other numbers.  That would be Jackie Robinson’s number – and it will be his number forever because in 1997 MLB decided to completely retire that number.  Pretty cool, right? 
Despite the drenching rain and the uneasy feelings of disloyalty I experienced, I must tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and have nothing but respect for the ball field.  What happens on the ball field, however, is a completely different story.  Only 27 more days until opening day – go Yankees!

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Filed under baseball, Boston, Boys, Recommendations, travel