Category Archives: holidays

Giving up

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.

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Filed under aging, family, Germany, girlhood, holidays, Irish, musings

My love affair with Winter

Valentine’s Day seems the perfect time to express my adoration for Winter.  In all honesty, it’s a love I never imagined experiencing.  Winter was always the cruelest of seasons, I thought.  Endlessly long, yet filled with days which offered mere hours of daylight.  Cold in a way that kept one indoors, in isolation.  Yuck.

Our relationship was purely platonic at the start.  It was a casual thing for many years, sort of a “friends with benefits situation.”  If I had a little extra timphoto 2(4)e, I could maybe work in an hour outdoors on my cross-country skis.  Many people have a summer romance, but we had a winter fling. Winter certainly wasn’t something I was willing to build a life around. It was more a matter of convenience, a circumstance I’d be remiss to replicate in my romantic life, yet acceptable for a relationship physical in nature.

During the snowy years, we got a little more serious with each other and I found myself keeping my skis in my car “just in case.” I explored Capital Hills, familiarizing myself with the various trails, learning which spots tended to get icy and which direction to ski to witness the often stellar winter sunsets.  I bought better cold weather gear and, repulsed by the false consistency of the treadmill, committed to running outdoors year round.

Winter challenged me and I responded with enthusiasm and devotion.  Downhill skiing beckoned and I fell even deeper in love.  The combination of adrenaline, fresh air and sunshine was intoxicating.  Winter was no longer something to be survived, it became a season to savor.  I realized recently that Winter has become my favorite season and I no longer wish it away as I may have in the past.
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Sometimes we find love in the most unexpected places.  Recognizing it, and embracing it with grace, makes our time here, and our hearts, feel remarkably full.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, holidays, Local, love, Normanskill, running, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

YOLO – NOLA

image: gonola.com

First, apologies for YOLO. I’ve never used that acronym before and I promise to retire it immediately.  The term, that is.  The sentiment? Not likely.

I’ve got a little trip planned with three of my besties – a long weekend in New Orleans.  I’m rather ridiculously excited.  I’ve never been to this city before, but its reputation as a destination for eating, drinking and music has interested me for years.  Factor in 5 nights with terrific company and this is about to get real!

The girls and I are in accord when it comes to travel – make a reservation or two, include a nonnegotiable destination or site and wing the rest.  Here’s what we have so far:

  • Dinner at Restaurant R’evolution.  We plan to experience their traditional holiday four-course meal known as Reveillon.
  • At least one visit to Taceaux Loceaux.  I’m hoping to try the avocado fries and the bourbon glazed pork belly.
  • Coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde.
  • A garden or cemetery tour
  • A riverboat cruise
  • The national WW II Museum.

What else?  Anything you’d recommend?  How about a place for breakfast or great music?  And, lastly, I have repeatedly heard that it is important to stay within a fairly small perimeter for safety.  I don’t know, I remember hearing that it was treacherous to drive in L.A. and I wasn’t overly impressed by that experience.  It seems to me that if you’re a New Yorker you know the importance of remaining aware of your surroundings without living in a bubble.  What do you think?  How about places to get a few miles of running in to offset the decadence?  Any experiences or tips you’d like to share would be welcomed!

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Filed under Christmas, Eating, friends, holidays, ideas, Recommendations, travel

Moms@Work – November

image:timesunion.com

image:timesunion.com

Here’s a summary of what I’ve been talking about over at my other home on the web…

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Filed under aging, Christmas, Events, holidays, Moms@Work, Observations

Thanks were given

I’ve given away a lot of things on the eve of Thanksgiving, (including my virginity) but what I got yesterday was an amazing present.  Yesterday, Thanksgiving Eve 2013, I was given something remarkable – a thank you, a sincere and appreciative thank you.  Let me tell you the story.

A package was delivered to my house by one of the postal carriers who work “my” route.  I heard the delivery truck pull up in front of my house and correctly predicted that my new boots were being delivered.  I was at the bottom of the stairs before the bell had even rung.

As I accepted the package, the carrier looked at me and asked “Are you the person who gave me a cold drink on that hot day a few months ago?  I’ve been looking for you.”

She was referring to an afternoon in early September.  I had pulled on to my block, in the middle of the afternoon on an unseasonably hot day.  I noticed the mail carrier. She looked uncomfortable from the heat.  I went into my house, grabbed a cold Gatorade from the fridge and caught up with her on my neighbor’s porch.  I held the bottle, already slippery from condensation, out to her.

She looked at me with confusion.  I spoke, telling her that I thought she might like something to drink on such a hot day.  I won’t forget what she said: “Are you serious?  That’s for me?” I assured it was and walked away as she placed the frosty bottle on the back of her neck.

When she appeared at my door yesterday, I recognized her and smiled, thanking her for bringing my boots.  She remembered that other day and the small gesture of kindness which I had shown to her.  She thanked me and explained that she had been truly suffering that day.  On the verge of heat stroke, she had phoned her supervisor informing him that she wasn’t certain she could continue her deliveries. She considered phoning 911 because she felt so very close to fainting.

When I gave her that drink, she said, it revived her.  It changed her day completely.  She told me I had saved her life and that she thought of me as her angel.  Me?  Can you imagine?  The same girl who had given up her innocence on a long ago Thanksgiving eve, was being sanctified on the very same day all these years later.

So?  What’s the point of this story?   I guess this – sometimes we give a priceless part of ourselves away and realize minimal gain.  On other occasions, we give away something which is infinitely less precious, yet reap rewards which will be everlasting.  There’s giving and there are thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, DelSo, holidays, Observations

October recap – Moms@Work

image:timesunion.com

image:timesunion.com

I can’t believe another month has flown by!  Here’s some of what I’ve been up to over at the timesunion.com.

First, there was the politics of pasta.

Then, I fell in love!

Alas, my ship sailed.

I put some pieces together.

And recognized that I couldn’t always do it myself.

But, I can drive a standard shift.  Lefthanded, too.

Which is a good thing because sometimes, I want to get away from my picky-eating children.

It wasn’t my knickers that got bunched up – it was my breasts which got squeezed!

Soccer season wrapped up leaving  lessons on the field that should last a lifetime.

We got more treats than tricks.

 

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Boys, cancer, Cooking, Events, family, holidays, house, Moms@Work, politics

Halloween happenings

DSC_0003I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, it was reliably cold at Halloween. I have distinct memories of the puddles being frozen and heated arguments with my mother about ruining my costume by being forced to wear a coat. Times are different in many ways and it seems to me that many of our recent trick or treating adventures have been enjoyed with much more moderate temperatures. Yet another reason kids today are so soft!

Weather-wise, we got lucky this year. The rain was fairly light and didn’t impede our trick or treating. Quinn had arranged to travel the neighborhood with his buddy and they were absolutely adorable. The most priceless moment had to be their impromptu Thriller dance when we encountered a musical pumpkin – precious! Our neighborhood was awesome with festively decorated homes, friendly people and an overall spirit which made me proud to live where I do.

Speaking of pride, although I couldn’t make the game due to my plans with Quinn, I was thrilled to learn that the Albany Falcons had defeated Shen in their sectional soccer game. What a great thing for our urban district to experience! The Falcons play Guilderland Monday night in Colonie and I am wishing them the best of luck.

I wrapped up the weekend by attending a fantastic party down in Old Chatham at the home of a couple of my oldest friends in Albany. You know, the longer I live in Albany, the lower the degree of separation there is between me and the rest of the population. This is NOT a complaint. I actually kind of love it. It was sometimes challenging to discern who was who at this particular party because the costumes were off the chart fantastic, but there were familiar faces all around me as multiple worlds of mine gently collided. Fun! I regretted forgetting my Nikon, and I wish I could have indulged in the bourbon which smelled ever so delicious, but I did appreciate my sobriety when I encountered those pesky deer in the middle of the road.  Thanks to the wonderful hosts for another terrific party.

How was your Halloween? I hope you had more treats than tricks!

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Filed under Albany, Boys, DelSo, friends, holidays