Category Archives: holidays

Desert beauty – Palm Springs, December 2018

Here are some photos from my recent trip to the desert. I’m already looking at the calendar for Christmas 2019. I need to get back there again to spend time with someone I dearly love and to soak in more of this beauty.

Leave a comment

Filed under beauty, California, Christmas, Exercise, favorites, Flowers, friends, Hiking, holidays, love, Observations, Recommendations, running, travel, Uncategorized, vacation, winter

Resolving to find grace

A new year is probably the ultimate holiday gift, don’t you think? Receiving the chance to try again to get things right, to attempt something new, to do something better, is a luxury not everyone gets and while I’m not a devotee of the typical new year’s resolution, I do get a little jazzed by a clean slate on which to write a fresh chapter.

I’ve decided that my task for 2019 is to work on accepting what others give me with grace. Whether it’s a physical gift, a kind word, or an opportunity to experience something, I want to be able to receive and accept it with openness. That may sound simple to you, but it isn’t always easy for a person who is accustomed to meeting their own needs and prides themself on being fiercely independent.

This grace to which I aspire is something I probably should have begun working on long ago – like that time a friend’s family took me to Florida with them for vacation and I attempted to pay for my meal* at a rest area on the Jersey Turnpike. My friend’s father spoke to me quietly, with kindness in his voice, and told me they had invited me with the expectation that they would be paying my way, unheard of (and unimaginable) in my world. Just like seeing Florida for the first time, his generosity will be something I’ll never forget.

On New Year’s Eve I had my first chance to start practicing being graceful. I was presented with a thoughtful and unexpected gift, a gift that I might have been inclined to resist because it was generous and felt like too much after having been hosted as a houseguest for nearly a week. Instead of immediately declining though, I paused, took a breath and accepted my present with a sincere thank you. I love the gift and will use it frequently and I know that my thoughtful and dear friend was happy giving it to me.

How about you? Is there something you’re hoping to find or create in your own life this year?

*I had $50, given to me by my brother, for a 10 day vacation. I was poor – and clueless.

1 Comment

Filed under aging, beauty, favorites, friends, holidays, ideas, love, musings, Observations, Uncategorized

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.

2 Comments

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

Keeping Christ in Christmas

As in “Jesus Christ, are you kidding me?” Let’s talk for a moment about babies and Christians and Christmas songs and greetings and how the upcoming holiday has become a battleground instead of a celebration and why reasonable human beings are allowing that to happen.

To begin, babies. Big confession here…I don’t find babies to be very interesting. When I say I didn’t even like my own babies all that much until I had my third, I am being completely honest. My lack of enthusiasm for infants, however, doesn’t prevent me from feeling incredibly sad for children who are separated from their families or born into situations which fail to provide opportunity or stability. You know, like Jesus – and all the children who continue to live in tents apart from their families in a state of imprisonment. How people who claim the mantle of “Christian” can fail to see the parallels between their savior and those babies is truly one of the wonders of Christmas to me.

“Baby, It’s Cold Out” is not a date rape song in my head or heart. They’re flirting, he’s cajoling her to stay and she’s finding lame ass excuses blaming everyone but herself for not being able to stay. That’s my read at least and I’m entitled to it. I refuse to feel icky about this song, but you can feel free to rail against it if you must. I’m not buying in to that craziness and I’m not taking that song off my holiday season playlist.

The phrase “Merry Christmas” should be received by non-Christmas celebrants in the same way “Happy Hump Day is. Maybe neither are your holiday, but it’s ok to acknowledge that they’re both important days to those who choose to celebrate. If someone wishes you the “wrong” sentiment, do you really get offended by their greeting? Isn’t there so much more to take offense from in our world? You know, like children in cages? As for me, I’m just going to keep saying “Merry Christmas.”

Migrants and other seekers of asylum and the chance for a better life, should be more compassionately dealt with, particularly by those who like to claim religion as their justification for how they approach the world. Please don’t talk to me about the miracle of a savior’s birth in a manger if you’re unwilling to recognize the efforts being made by contemporary families to achieve a similarly blessed life for their own child(ren).

I’m all about remembering the reason for the season, but, Jesus Christ, can’t we do a better job honoring him?

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas, holidays, Music, musings, Observations, politics, Uncategorized

Little Pecks knows what you want

At a time of the year occupied with what one wants for Christmas, I’ve found myself twice in the past week in a position where it’s lunch time, but I’m lunchless without a clue as to what I want to eat. You know I’ve got some food issues and I’m kind of particular about what I eat, so these kind of situations stress me out. Often I know what I don’t want – food that’s expensive, unnecessarily heavy or too time consuming, but I’m at a loss as to what will satisfy.

On the first recent occasion, I selected a couple of items from the prepared case at the nearby deli which left me feeling less than satisfied. The tuna salad, with a side of pickled beets and onions, I bought was tasty but it just didn’t fill me up. I regretted my choices.

Monday afternoon I found myself between appointments in Troy, hungry. I made my way to Broadway, parked and considered my options. The Placid Baker was closed, the Whistling Kettle felt like too much of a commitment, and the Illium Cafe seemed like more than I was looking for in the 30 minutes I had available. Little Pecks for the win.

While the baked goods looked awesome, I knew that I wanted something more substantial and less carb-y. The chalkboard menu had a number of items that sounded delicious, but nothing really appealed until I read this:

CHICKPEA & SQUASH STEW
salsa verde, fried breadcrumb

Yes, this was exactly what I craved. I placed my order at the counter, took my table marker and made my way to the light-filled atrium where I found a seat. A few minutes later, I was spooning into a flavorful stew of firm chickpeas and tender squash, finished with buttery breadcrumbs, bright salsa verde and the unexpected brininess of capers. It was perfect.

Thanks, Little Pecks, for giving me my belief in an unplanned lunch back. Now, back to that holiday shopping list…

3 Comments

Filed under Eating, Food, holidays, Local, Recommendations, Troy, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Gratitude

Whenever I do that character strengths test, you know the VIA one , my top characteristic is consistently Gratitude. I don’t know, maybe it comes from not having much in life when I was a child,* but I do find that I have a deep appreciation for all the wonderful people, opportunities and things I have in my life. Below are a few which immediately came to mind on this cold Thanksgiving morning.

  • The sun that rises and sets each day with the ability to light up the sky in a new and magical way.
  • Layers of clothing and heat to keep my family protected from extreme temperatures.
  • Children who love to travel and are still willing, at times, to share adventures with me. On the occasions when they take off without me, I appreciate the confidence with which they approach the world, and the experiences they gain, almost just as much.
  • My brother for just being there – always.
  • Friends – those who I’ve known forever, as well as those who have joined my life in more recent years. Having such an array of people who share my interests, humor, and daily past times makes my life incredibly rich.
  • The women who have provided me with their wisdom, strength and advice when my own parents were unavailable. They have given me gifts for which I can never adequately thank them.
  • The men who have taught me what I want, need and expect from a relationship, even if it has been a lesson based upon what they could not provide. Special shout out to the one who makes me smile currently.
  • Chances to travel to new places as well as revisit favorites. There’s so much to see!
  • My crazy dog  and the fat cat currently living in my house, both of  whom always welcome and return my love enthusiastically.
  • A refrigerator and pantry filled with food, a state I never take for granted.
  • You, a person who takes time from your life to read about mine. Thank you for being here.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

*I’m not suggesting we were starving or homeless, there just wasn’t much security or stability in my life when I was a child.

Leave a comment

Filed under Boys, family, friends, holidays, love, musings, Observations, relationships, travel, Uncategorized, writing

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!

1 Comment

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