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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Last week I was lucky enough to host my Uncle and Aunt. They were touring New England in that wonderful way that tourists seem to do, but most Americans don’t, visiting cities and sites scattered around multiple states and racking up more than 2500 miles on their rental car. Because of my crazy schedule, we didn’t spend as much time together as I would have liked, but we did get around a little over the weekend. Saturday was Oktoberfest in Albany and we had a great time checking out the Seen downtown. My family definitely liked Wolff’s Biergarten – especially after seeing their team’s competition being dealt a loss, and were entertained by the crowd and the activities.
Sunday we did a driving tour on the other side of the river with stops at Golden Harvest for cider donuts and some spirits sampling, Olana, and Hudson for a walk about. One of the coolest coincidences was my finally meeting, after nearly a year of placing orders electronically, one of the people who distills the applejack we use at Lark + Lily . Turns out that Derek lived in Stuttgart when he was a student and it was a joy to hear he and my relatives speaking German together. I think we can all appreciate a little bit of home when we’re on the road and this was a perfect dose of familiarity for my family.
It’s always hard to see far away family go, but Quinn and I are excitedly looking forward to meeting up with them again next spring when we’ll travel to Germany to visit. I bought our tickets last week and our loose itinerary includes three nights in the Black Forest, two nights in Nuremberg and four nights in Berlin. Bis dann!
Last night my soccer playing middle son and I went down to Wolff’s Biergarten to take in the women’s World Cup semi-final game. It was a great match up – #1 ranked Germany vs #2 USA and we, along with the majority of those present, were thrilled when our women were victorious with a final score of 2-0.
The bar was packed and the roars of the crowd were deafening. It was fantastic. There were so many familiar faces and it took both hands to count the number of former students who were present. Time does move on, doesn’t it?
The last time our women’s team won the World Cup was 1999, the same year my middle son was born. I remember we were in Harwich Port, MA and had the game on the little television set which was in our bed and breakfast. My oldest son was two and was completely captivated by the post-game excitement emanating from that small TV perched atop the mini fridge. It was unforgettable.
If England beats Japan tonight, Sunday’s final, a USA v England match on Independence weekend promises to be epic. I hope to be with both of my big guys, Liam the Anglophile and Griffin the baby born in our last winning year, at the Biergarten. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Photos from last night’s match are here.
Are you a soccer fan? Prior to the recent World Cup tournament, I certainly wouldn’t have declared myself to be one. When I answered Matt Baumgartner’s call for temporary employees to assist during the tournament, I was responding as a worker, not a soccer fanatic. But, something has definitely changed. This whole soccer thing? I think I like it.
Although two of my boys play soccer, I’ve avoided the moniker “soccer mom” with the skill of a teenager ducking household chores. Not me, no way. I attend games and cheer enthusiastically from the sidelines, but I certainly have no interest in driving around in a minivan with a soccer ball decal stuck to the back window. You know me, I’m not much of a joiner or follower.
The first match I worked was Team USA vs Portugal. The crowd at Wolff’s Biergarten was tremendous – pumped up and loud, but in no way aggressive or obnoxious. I loved their enthusiasm and the excitement was contagious. This was definitely going to be fun.
As “our” team advanced, along with Team Germany, the team of my maternal side of the family, I realized that my soccer playing middle son needed to be part of the scene. I arranged to bring him and a couple of his friends down to check out a match. They were awesome! In a crowd of hundreds, they hung out, clad in red, white and blue, mesmerized by the game and the other spectators. I was impressed by their poise and comfort and knew that Griffin and I would become regulars for the duration of the tournament.
As the matches came fast and furious, so did the communication between my family and me – emails, Facebook messages and status updates. Knowing that my family in Germany were occupied watching the same event as we were, was intensely comforting. Who knew that a ball game could make the world seem so small? I absolutely loved it.
When Team USA was eliminated, we placed our energy into cheering on the motherland, Deutschland. Our German flag accompanied us to the subsequent matches and I cherished the opportunity to be proud of being German in a world that doesn’t always perceive us as being worthy of admiration. The hefeweizen flowed and steins were raised amidst shouts of Prost! and Griffin and I hung out, side by side, united in our interest for 90+ minutes.
Photo: Wolff’s Biergarten
Four years from now, my son will be 19, perhaps not as inclined to hang out in a sports bar with his mom as he was this year. I’d like to think, though, that he’ll someday tell his own children about the times he and I spent together watching the World Cup. If he doesn’t, believe me, I will.
More pictures from the tournament here.
It isn’t often that I have a day when nothing displeases me. When such a day as this occurs on the absolutely longest day of the year, it makes for an incredibly satisfying day. That is precisely what I had yesterday.
baby’s breath, peonies, roses
The day began with flowers as I cut a bouquet of the beautiful roses and peonies which are currently blooming in my garden, as well as in my neighbor’s backyard. Jeter and I followed breakfast with an early morning visit to the dog park where he played with a lovely dog who had recently been rescued from NYC. I resisted the urge to immediately adopt the sweet young dog, but I do hope she finds her forever home soon.
a berry warm from the sun is one of nature’s ultimate delights
My middle son’s mid morning haircut appointment went well and I left the salon with plenty of time to get home, swap boys and head to Altamont Orchards to pick some strawberries. It took less than 25 minutes to pick 3 quarts of sweet and juicy berries. On our way home we stopped at the Guilderland location of Fin where Quinn got an apple juice and an already prepped meal of seasoned swordfish with corn salsa.
I made an easy caprese salad for lunch, with my own basil, and reveled in the simple delight of summer eating. I followed my meal by folding a couple of loads of laundry while watching the first half of the Germany-Ghana match with Griffin, my source for soccer commentary. Germany looked good, especially their keeper (holy hotness!), and I decided it was a fine time to make my way to a joint high school/elementary graduation party in Delmar. Since the day was supremely beautiful, I chose to ride my new bike and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
The party was lovely and my initial impression about not knowing anyone was rapidly put aside as I enjoyed meeting and talking with some really nice people. Seems I was wrong about not knowing anyone as connections were quickly made. Yes, it is a small world. Griffin kept me abreast of the match via text and I loved knowing that my son and my family in Germany were simultaneously taking in the same event – more connections.
swordfish steak, corn salsa, steamed spinach
I rode home and made a simple and delicious dinner while taking care of our bounty of strawberries. It was strip steak and corn on the cob for the guys and grilled swordfish with a side of steamed local spinach for me. So delicious! After cleaning up the kitchen, I prepped about half of our strawberries for the freezer already anticipating their eventual use in smoothies. I should have picked more!
Jeter and I returned to the dog park for round two but ended up home again after a short while since it is never really fun to be the only dog at the dog park. While playing fetch in the yard, I got to witness the reaction of two teenaged girls to my son’s haircut (“Oh my God, you cut your hair!” exclaimed in a shriek.) which is still making me laugh.
I changed into running clothes and hit the streets for a fast (for me) 5 miles, luxuriating in the extended twilight on this, the longest day of the year. There were only pleasant aromas tickling my nose and I realized that there hadn’t been a single affront to my senses all day long. The temperature, the smells in the air, everything I had eaten, the conversations shared, the view along the drive to the berry patch, the birds at the feeder…every single thing had given me pleasure. It was the beginning of a new season. Life is good.
Filed under Albany, beauty, biking, Boys, Delaware Avenue, Dinner, Exercise, family, favorites, Flowers, friends, Germany, Local, Observations, running, Summer
Last year, I was blessed to spend Easter in the Black Forest. There was a dusting of new snow that morning and I attended mass alone in a beautiful church where the only word I truly understood was “Amen.” It was perfect. In the little town of Neustadt, thousands of miles from “home,” I had a deep sense of belonging to something larger than the daily world I have made for myself and my children. I loved that holiday.
7lbs of bone-in prime rib
This year, the boys and I enjoyed a special dinner on Holy Saturday. I jumped off the meatless Lent train a day early and we feasted on prime rib and grilled asparagus. I opened a fine bottle of Bordeaux which, after our meal was consumed and cleaned up, I brought to the neighbors’ to share. There were more bottles of wine uncorked and I enjoyed a relaxed spring evening. It was lovely.
This morning, I mastered the lamb cake mold my family had mailed from Germany a few weeks back. It took three attempts to nail it. The first try was a disaster – the pan fell over in the (newly cleaned) oven making an impressive mess as the batter flowed into the most impossible to clean crevices. Take two involved an unfortunate premature slide of the cake from the perfectly buttered and floured mold as the poor lamb lost its head. Literally. Toothpicks put things back in place, but I decided to give it one final shot this morning and I found success.
These different experiences from last year to now, offer a wonderful perspective, for me, about life and living. Home is where we feel loved. Friends are family. Sometimes we need to keep trying to get something right. And, finally, we all need to rise up and live the life we have been given. Happy Easter.
You may not know this, but both of my parents came from large Catholic families. Is that redundant? I actually have an aunt and two deceased great aunts, who became nuns, for real. I grew up hearing about how my mother’s family went to morning mass every day, staying for a marathon mass on Sundays. It was kind of our family’s version of “I walked to school, uphill and in the snow…” You get it.
Believe it or not, my mother somehow managed to have her two illegitimate children baptized in the mid-60s. I can’t imagine that was an easy task. Growing up, my brother and I made Holy Communion, but did not, other than on Christmas Eve, attend mass with our mother. She was done. I remember the challenge of being still and quiet for an hour, while outside the stained glass window summer’s blue sky beckoned. It was harder than those wooden pews. As I grew older, I developed more of an appreciation for the ritual – the readings, the up, down, kneel, the music and faces which grew familiar over the years. And the sooty smoke wafting from those brass orbs dangling from the altar boys’ hands? I loved it
Eventually, though, I really started listening to gospel, to the word, and some of what I heard I didn’t like. I was in disagreement about gays and euthanasia and punishment for mistakes made. I pictured a more benevolent god, sort of a cross between George Burns and John Denver. I met with a priest at the Cathedral downtown and we talked and I explained my inability to own only part of my religion. If I couldn’t believe in the whole thing, how could I practice? Wasn’t it wrong to turn a blind eye to the tenets I found it impossible to embrace? He echoed what I had been previously told by my Uncle Eamon, “Take what you believe in and leave off the rest.” I walked away, sad, but committed to no longer feeling partially invested. I left all of it.
On days, though, like today, I miss it. The crossed ashes on my forehead, the quiet of the altar and the echo of feet on the stone floors, the honor of sacrifice… I think I’m going to mark Lent this year by exploring churches, be they literal or figurative. A cathedral, a ski slope, a path through the woods, can’t they all be considered churches? I’m hoping to hit each of those places within the next 40 days. If you see me at any of those places, be sure to say hello. Just don’t ask me join you for Burger Night at the Capital City Gastropub. I gave up meat.