Category Archives: favorites

Poems, prayers and promises

When the weather is tropical and everywhere you look you see green, life starts to feel like an epic poem written by Mother Nature. There’s so much happening around us with things growing and water puddling and smells that define a season – flowers, bar-b-q and chlorine. I know how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to sit and walk and run and just appreciate these things. I take the responsibility of being an observer pretty seriously and know it’s an incredible luxury.

I’m generally not much of a pray-er, other than to give thanks, but I’ve been working the prayer thing a little harder as my kids continue to extend their reach. Health and safety. No cobras. Safe driving. That sort of thing.

Promises? What do I know about those? Hmmm…I’d have to go with that they’re important and meaningful and should not be made lightly. Like that promise I made a few days ago to share some impressions from recent live music shows I’ve seen.

First up are some pics from the concert Liam and I attended in Vienna. We bought the tickets from a guy selling them near a park and I was pretty convinced he was going to steal my credit card information and cost me a bundle, but happily it was legit and he was a total professional.

 

The show, at Schoenbrunn Palace, was a “fine selection of masterful music by Mozart and Strauss…” it lasted about 90 minutes with an intermission and it was lovely. I didn’t grab a video because they asked guests not to and that’s a rule I can respect, even with my regret at not sneaking a single photo at the Sistine Chapel.

My son and I also attended a classical concert in a gorgeous chapel in Prague. I did take a video there and I’m sharing it

 

I love Vivaldi (not that I know sh*t about classical music) and I felt quite moved by the experience. Wonderful.

Also wonderful in a different and much closer to home way are the Monday night jazz offerings at Lucas Confectionary. I’ve been twice so far, once on the back terrace and once indoors and air-conditioned, and have loved it. Great wine choices (A Pigato?! A gruner from Oregon?! Wow!), a cool vibe indoors or out, and a capable and into it band really makes for an excellent way to start the week.

As for what I’m sharing below – my youngest listens to music that I can usually really respect. Recently he’s been on a John Denver kick, which I find pretty amusing. While doing a little searching online, this song came up and it spoke to me. Do you think it reads as more a poem, a prayer or promise?

I’ve been lately thinking
About my life’s time
All the things I’ve done
And how it’s been
And I can’t help believing
In my own mind
I know I’m gonna hate to see it end
I’ve seen a lot of sunshine
Slept out in the rain
Spent a night or two all on my own
I’ve known my lady’s pleasures
Had myself some friends
And spent a time or two in my own home
And I have to say it now
It’s been a good life all in all
It’s really fine
To have a chance to hang around
And lie there by the fire
And watch the evening tire
While all my friends and my old lady
Sit and pass the pipe around
And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it’s been since yesterday
And what about tomorrow
And what about our dreams
And all the memories we share
The days they pass so quickly now
Nights are seldom long
And time around me whispers when it’s cold
The changes somehow frighten me
Still I have to smile
It turns me on to think of growing old
For though my life’s been good to me
There’s still so much to do…

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Filed under aging, Albany, art, Austria, beauty, concerts, Czech Republic, DelSo, Europe, Events, favorites, love, Music, musings, Observations, poetry, Summer, Troy, Uncategorized, upstate New York, vacation

Lush life

There’s something about dense humidity that takes over my body. All I want to do is meander at my very own pace. I can almost understand the concept of a summer romance when the weather is like this – who wants to commit their attention beyond the current heat spell? Who can?

At the halfway+ part of summer, it seems like time to begin taking care of some of the tasks you’d swore you’d get to during break…dusting and cleaning the ceiling fan paddles, cabinet fronts and all those book shelves for starters. It always feels good this time of year to lighten my load – weed out possessions no longer serving a purpose. I like to also stock up on white T-shirt’s and tops for next summer. This year’s always look a little dull by August.

But, when the outdoor air is swampy and everything in your house feels sticky, it is really hard to get motivated to do much of anything other than sit on the deck that feels like a secret treehouse and flit between writing and reading for an indulgent amount of time. It’s summer.

While I’m feeling mostly lazy, all of my plants are currently going crazy. There’s so much energy and growth coming off of them that it’s practically palpable. Leaves are glossy, tendrils are gripping, and they each seem to have their own relationship with the sun. The rain may have drenched them, but they keep reaching for the sky, undiscouraged.

Sitting around, watching for a visit from the cardinal who always brings me peace, surrounded by plants on another relaxed summer day, is an exceptional reward for doing some routine chores. Lush. Life. Lucky.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, DelSo, favorites, musings, Observations, Random, Summer, upstate New York, vacation

The art of Vienna*

After taking in a fair share of dark history, when we hit Vienna I was ready to indulge in a little beauty. While I was in Salzburg, I had read something which said “go to Vienna for the art and Prague for the architecture.” Seemed reasonable to me until I arrived in Vienna and was so impressed with the beauty of the buildings. I couldn’t imagine Prague being more even more stunning, but that is a topic for another day.

The hop on/hop off bus tickets we had purchased had come with two additional attractions and a list from which to choose. My first pick was Belvedere Castle and it’s Klimt collection, reputed to be the largest in the world. I took the bus out mid morning and avoided any lines because of my travel “pass.”

The grounds were lovely but I headed pretty directly indoors, trying to avoid any crowds that might arrive as time passed. The museum itself was spectacular in terms of the decor and structure with high ceilings, beautiful floors and large windows, but I was there to see the Klimts and didn’t really pause for long. How were they? Completely as rich as you might imagine. You know I don’t know anything about art, but I felt a warm casualness about them. Not because they’re lacking in detail, but more due to the approachability of the works. To me, they tell universal stories and I just loved seeing them.

The next day I went to mumok, Vienna’s modern art museum. If I know little about art, I probably know even less about modern art, but I’m open to being educated. Because I overwhelm easily indoors with too much stimulation, I looked at what was “up” and opted to visit the 55 dates exhibit which had recently opened. The display featured 55 items from mumok’s permanent collection and I anticipated it providing me with a great overview, which it did.

There were some things which puzzled me, but that’s cool, while other pieces were mentally stimulating in a different way. André Durain’s Crouching Man particularly spoke to me, as did the Warhol’s of Mick Jagger. I felt pretty engaged by the display and continued my visit by checking out a political photography exhibit. Set up chronologically, it presented photographs which had contributed to the public understanding of political events and history. I wished the flow of the display had been more intuitive (at least for me) because I kept having to compare dates to remain committed to the chronology, but, that is a small complaint and probably my own fault anyway.

 

 

Vacation visual arts done. Next vacation post will be audible!

*just a smattering!

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Filed under art, Austria, beauty, Europe, favorites, Observations, Summer, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

Down by the river

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Salzburg’s riverfront

When I was traveling recently I was really impressed with the integration between city and river that I experienced in Salzburg and Prague. In both places the river was the center of the city rather than a divider and it felt very natural to make your way to the shore for walks, dining, shopping and art. So civilized.

We arrived back in Albany to a week of wet, humid weather. It’s been difficult to motivate myself to be active, but Jeter has gotten a couple of good walks and I remembered how much I enjoy running down by the river when the temperature is high. I’ve gone down to the Corning Trail twice the week and had really good runs, even with the humidity level through the proverbial roof, there’s always a breeze to be caught along the Hudson.

I couldn’t help but compare our Albany riverfront to the ones I really appreciated in Europe. People, we’re falling short…

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Prague’s Charles Bridge

In Salzburg, the river has a terrific running and walking trail, just like we do, but they also had a cool, independent market. It was a series of stalls and trucks offering unique items (most handcrafted), food, wine and coffee, fabrics and jewelry.  We could totally do something like that in Albany. In Prague the UNESCO site, the Charles Bridge, has vendors along its sides selling souvenirs, and art and there are musicians performing. Our Walkway could definitely host similar activities.

I’ve run down by the river for more than 25 years and I can tell you it is greatly improved in ways that the average person might not notice. On Friday, before I ran I had to use the portapotty and I prepared myself with a deep inhale of fresh air prior to opening that plastic door. It was unnecessary – the portapotty was remarkably clean. That’s new.

We’ve had some heavy rains and in previous years, the smell of the river after a storm that turned the water brown, would be downright offensive. There was a metallic, chemical odor that reliably accompanied the higher water levels, particularly, as you might imagine, across the river from the water treatment plant. The past couple of days? No odor at all. That’s better.

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Yesterday at the Corning Preserve

The wildlife down by the Hudson would have to be our greatest advantage over the much older, and better evolved, cities that I recently visited. I’ve had snake, bunny, woodchuck/beaver/mole thing, and deer sightings this year alone. Often they’re not really afraid of me and continue to nibble on the grass or stand at attention watching as I run by. It’s cool.

I spend a lot of my disposable income taking trips. It’s kind of a joke among people who know me. I’m sure I should be more conservative with my money and pour more of it into my house or my retirement, but traveling and seeing new things, even when they’re really old, is such a great investment. Seeing how other people do things is inspiring. 

What have you observed during your travels that you’d love to see replicated in your area?

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Filed under Albany, Austria, beauty, biking, Czech Republic, Exercise, favorites, ideas, Local, musings, Observations, Summer, travel, vacation

Introducing the doors…

Not the rock and roll Doors from L.A.* but the equally incredible and ornate doors of Austria and Prague. I couldn’t stop myself from pausing to capture photos of as many wildly beautiful doors that I came across during my recent trip. Check these out!

 

 

*maybe Roadhouse Blues came to mind for you too?

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Filed under art, Austria, beauty, Czech Republic, Europe, favorites, Observations, Summer, travel, vacation

Salzburg run

While I’m a big fan of public transport while exploring Europe, my favorite mode of travel when I’m visiting a new place remains my own two feet. Other than having a personal tour guide, I can think of no other way with which to become familiar with a city. I love setting my own pace, having the freedom to impulsively take a turn down a street that beckons and stopping for a drink or bite to eat when the urge hits me. Plus, it’s free!

Visiting four cities in 11 days makes for a lot of walking, but it has also taught me that I need three days in a new city before I feel an undeniable urge to run. It’s something about achieving a level of comfort and sense of where I can get in a few miles with limited risk from cars or other potential dangers, I think. Of course this means that I’ve thus far into my trip only had a single run. I’m trying to not chastise myself touch for my lack of exercise, since I have been walking my ass off. I find a glass of wine or two and a pastry helps with that guilt.

In Salzburg I had a chance to run along the Salzach River. There’s a great path for pedestrians and the view was pretty sweet. I initially ran north on the west side of the water and as the miles passed, the scenery became increasingly less populated. I went with my gut and crossed a bridge to the east side at a point when I felt my opportunities to cross the water were becoming less frequent. It was hard to turn away from the Schloss set high on the hill which had been enticing me to continue north, but I was rewarded by the views from the new to me east bank of the Salzach.

I ran, as I always do in a new place, with the knowledge that I might not ever have this same opportunity. My health and physical strength will gradually (I hope!) decline, the opportunities to travel may diminish, perhaps the weather won’t be as inviting as I’ve often been fortunate to experience…whatever. Lots of things could happen to prevent me from lacing up my Altras and hitting the sidewalks, but not that particular day. That day, I ran and my heart, eyes and legs all appreciated the effort. It was a terrific run and will be a wonderful memory forever.

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Filed under Austria, beauty, Europe, Exercise, favorites, running, Summer, travel, vacation

Salzburg morning

1879C803-5B5E-4856-A45E-95DF66529221You know how sometimes when you have no expectations you receive the most wonderful surprises? That’s what Salzburg has been for me. When we originally planned to visit Austria, Salzburg was on the top of my son’s list because of his fondness for The Sound of Music. In advance of our visit, I booked the Fraulein Maria bike tour, which we’re taking later this morning, but that was the extent of our planning. 

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The view from our flat

We arrived Friday evening, purchased some groceries and headed to our Airbandb on the west side of the river slightly north of the historic center. I awoke early Saturday morning, dressed and set out for a walk with the daily outdoor market as a destination. I quickly went off my mapped directions preferring to wander, something easy to do when you’re completely on your own. I found my way down to the river completely charmed by the architecture and natural beauty of this small feeling city. The alps are absolutely breathtaking.

B70F0AB5-4BAA-4406-90EA-1B68F4E75193I left the river and made my way through the narrow streets to a bakery where I bought the day’s first treat – a cheese pastry and a cafe au lait. Perfect. Appetite temporarily satiated, I went back to my roaming around soon finding myself in the Mozartplatz. It was still early, maybe 8:30, and the large square was almost mine alone. There was just so much beauty everywhere around me that I felt almost overwhelmed. 

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E4743562-3A8D-49F6-8850-CD038AD82A9CI stumbled on the market on my way “home,” and leisurely took in the stalls filled with flowers, meats, crafts, schnapps and other locally grown and produced goods. Remarkably, I found my way to the apartment without misstep – pretty crazy for a woman who has been known to get herself turned around and requiring directions on more than one occasion. Salzburg just felt easy and I could barely wait to see more.

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Filed under Austria, beauty, breakfast, Europe, favorites, Observations, Summer, travel, vacation