Category Archives: house

Randoms – February, 2019

  • I have absolutely zero feelings regarding whether the roll of toilet paper is supposed to be installed over or under.
  • However, double parked vehicles blocking available legal parking will probably be my trigger if I should ever totally lose my sh*t.
  • I’m at a stage in the aging process where I believe liberally applied moisturizer and not wearing my glasses (so I can’t see so well) takes five years off my face.
  • There’s an entrance to the parking lot at the nearby shopping plaza that is one way, but which way is undecided. Traffic uses it both to enter and exit the lot. A street sign was once placed indicating the correct direction. It was lying on the ground within days of installation and was gone in less than a week.
  • I’m obsessed with lentils at the moment. This is the latest recipe I prepared.
  • Made gnudi for the first time this weekend. Like most Italian food I’ve ever prepared, it’s labor intensive, but not particularly difficult to make.
  • We’re expecting some weather this week. If you happen to have a corner lot, please consider the difficulty of those in wheelchairs, or less physically mobile, and shovel a path that includes access to the street.
  • Every single time I’m reminded that I’m going to Greece this year, I can’t help but smile. So excited!
  • If anyone has a suggestion for a company that does basement work, please pass it my way. I’d like that project taken care of this spring.
  • I am dangerously close to renewing my Rent the Runway subscription. I’m just so enjoying it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, Albany, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, Europe, favorites, Food, Greece, house, Local, musings, Observations, Random, Recipes, Recommendations, snow, Summer, travel, Uncategorized, upstate New York, vacation, Wine

Where Hepburn and Tracy trysted

What a day.

Trysted. What a word! Sometimes the state of language distresses me…folks don’t respect it enough to spell it or speak it correctly and the words we’ve added to English just don’t seem to have added much really. Like “hooking up,” for instance. But, I digress. Let’s get to where Hepburn and Tracy trysted!

During my recent time in Palm Springs, I had a few touristy things I wanted to do and one of them was a tour of the heavily Mid-Century Modern (MCM) neighborhood of Old Las Palmas.  After doing some quick research, I decided that the Palm Spring Historical Society’s “Golden Era Hollywood Homes” tour sounded like exactly what I was hoping to find. $20 and a couple of days later and there I was, meeting my group by the Synagogue which had been unfortunately renovated to disguise its MCM roots. Apparently, until the 1980’s MCM was a look not very highly regarded by many. But me? I love it.

This isn’t THE gate, but it sure is pretty.

The tour covered about 2 miles at an easy pace and lasted 2.5 hours. Our guide, (Joe?), a retired actor originally from Rochester or Buffalo, NY who graduated from Geneseo, was terrific. His narration was rehearsed but didn’t sound canned and his enthusiasm was contagious. On a beautiful morning, our group of 14 or so made its way past the former homes of, among others, George Hamilton, Kirk Douglas, Dinah Shore, Liberace and Lily Tomlin. We paused outside of Leonardo DiCaprio’s, available as an AirBandB, I believe, and eventually found ourselves outside of the completely-hidden-by-a-fence-and-wooden-gate home of Hollywood legend, Spencer Tracy.

Our guide shared some of the history of the wildly romantic and tragic relationship of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, star-crossed lovers of the golden era of Hollywood. He, a devout and married Catholic and she, a woman of rare independence, had shared a life of sorts in Palm Springs behind the very gate of which we stood in front. The gate which slid open to permit a woman and her small, leashed dog to exit. The woman smiled and took a few steps away from us before turning around to greet us with a “Good morning.” She continued to address us saying that since it was the holidays, she’d like to invite our group inside the gates to see the property. For real.

It was such an unexpected and graciously offered treat. She showed us through the car port to the rear of the house where there was spa, including a waterfall of sorts which was decorated with three stone monkeys depicting “See no evil,” “Speak no evil,” and “Hear no evil.” It seemed perfectly appropriate for every part of the situation.

The foyer

We finished our tour with entry to the foyer of the house. The floors were 8” squares of terra-cotta tile with a thick grout line. The ceilings were gorgeous wood. Beautiful. As we entered, the view was to the pool area we had just visited as seen through tall glass windows. Sigh.

The courtesy we enjoyed made the tour nearly impossible to ever repeat and I’ll remember it for a longtime.

Leave a comment

Filed under beauty, California, favorites, house, Observations, Recommendations, travel, Uncategorized

Tidying Up

What does one watch after they blow through Mrs. Maisel, Season 2? Well, if you’re feeling inspired by the start of a new year, or as if your life is somewhat out of control, you can’t go wrong with the Netflix series Tidying Up.  It’s the perfect antidote to an overly consumptive holiday season and promises to provide a pathway to a more simple and satisfying home life. Interested? I’ll tell you more…

Marie Kondo, “world-renowned tidying expert,” has developed a process which she calls the Konmari method for eliminating clutter and home organization and I’m hooked. She divides what can be a daunting task into 5 distinct areas of clutter to address – Clothes, Books, Papers, Komomo (a catchall of kitchen, bathroom and garage miscellanea) and Sentimental. I don’t know about you, but the first and last of these categories are the ones that really can hang me up – especially when we’re talking about items which straddle both of those groups, like articles of clothing I no longer wear, but which retain a strong sentimental value. I could do a series of blogposts on that topic, believe me.

Here’s how she suggests dealing with your specific clutter:

1. Commit.
2. Imagine the ideal life you wish to live.
3. Discard first.
4. Tidy by category.
5. Follow the order above.
6. Ask yourself “Does it spark joy?”*

I’m three episodes in and witnessing three different families apply these rules to their individual situations has been really interesting. Each family has their own personal accumulation of possessions with which to deal, but the Konmari method adapts to address their unique circumstances and helps to create a more peaceful home environment. Who doesn’t want that?

While a lot of the focus is on ridding yourself of physical items, based upon the emotional prompt of “does it spark joy?,” it isn’t just about tossing things in the trash. Marie is a creative user of containers, boxes and folding techniques to manage what one retains and I can’t wait to explore how my home might benefit from her wisdom. Even though I get a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach at the thought of discarding stuff I’ve owned for perhaps decades, I’m even more excited by the possibility of simplifying my life.

I can’t wait to create my own personal mountain of clothing to sort into piles to be folded or to be kissed goodbye. Looks like my February break is going to be spent with Marie Kondo. It may not be quite going to Japan, but if things go well I’ll treat myself to a sushi feast when I’m finished, with sake.

*copied from housebeautiful.com.

1 Comment

Filed under house, ideas, Observations, Recommendations, television

Lit

I woke up Thanksgiving morning and started my usual routine – bathroom to pee, brush my teeth and clean my nightguard. I brush and then soak the night guard in some fizzy solution last year’s 8th-grade homeroom advised me on. To dissolve the tablet you toss it in very warm, but not hot water.

Since it’s first thing in the morning, I expect to run the water a few extra seconds to get the water to the tap from the hot water heater in the basement two stories down. Yesterday, though, was different. The water just didn’t get warmer. I immediately assumed I’d go to the basement to find a burst or wildly leaking hot water heater and anticipated dropping $750 or some other crazy-right-before-the-holidays price to replace and install a new one.

I decided to have coffee before venturing downstairs.

Twenty minutes later, I rounded the corner from the stairs to face the hot water heater…actually, heaters. There are two and I first needed to determine which was mine. Fortunately, neither had any water leaking. Good news. I touched the one on the right and it felt warm. No doubt, it was on. I moved towards the other one, on the left, covered in cobwebs. Great.

Of course, that one, mine, was cold. The pilot wasn’t lit. I went upstairs, did a little research (perhaps the thermocoupler needed to be replaced?) and returned with a flash light and some matches, not able to find the stick lighter in the drawer. Maybe it ran away with the hammer. I can’t find that either. Back downstairs, I crouched down and read directions for lighting the pilot and was relieved to find that I didn’t have to provide fire to light the pilot. It had its own ignitor. I thought back to when I first learned how to relight a hot water heater.

I was probably 12 or so. We had recently moved into what would be the longest term residence of my life until I bought my own house. The house felt special because it was ours, sort of. My mother’s boyfriend had bought it and done some work to make it habitable, after a period of vacancy. We could paint any color we wanted to, as long as we agreed to the same one, and we each had our own bedrooms. Without heat. Sometimes in the depths of winter, the interior of the windows would be frozen from exhaled breaths and dreams. We were teenagers and had lots of blankets. It was fine.

There were times when we didn’t have heat in the house other than that cast off by the wood burning stove my brother fed like a mother nurses a newborn. If the uninsulated, built above a dirt foundation, house got too cold we’d wake to have no water whatsoever. During really cold spells, that might be our situation for a few days. On occasion we had oil for the furnace and propane for hot water and cooking, but if we didn’t, we learned to adapt to what was available. It’s just how it was.

So, lighting that water heater, all those years ago. I remember being mad. I was a kid. This was an adult’s responsibility, not mine. I was frustrated. Other people just had hot water and heat all the time. They could boil things on the stove because they had gas. Why was our shit so inconsistent?

And I was scared. Gas scared me. Electricity scared me. Is that weird?

But, we needed hot water (not for the washing machine, we didn’t have one of those,) and there actually had been a propane delivery. We must have been caught up on our bills,* for a change. I wanted a shower and my brother wasn’t home to take care of it. I didn’t have a choice – it had to be taken care of and there was no one else.

The utility room was down the hall, on the other side of a door that led to a part of the house we didn’t use. It wasn’t fit to occupy with its glassless windows and concrete floors. The hot water heater was by far the newest piece of hardware and I kneeled, practically genuflecting, next to it. I remember there was a red button that needed to pressed, and maybe you had to count to three, before inserting a match into a blowhole of sorts and then, trusting that it was lit, the knob had to be released and turned a particular way. It felt intense. I hated it.

Just like yesterday, I lit it.

“our bills?” I was 12, they weren’t mine.

2 Comments

Filed under Albany, Education, girlhood, house, musings, Uncategorized

Three current crushes…November edition

5F8D0AAD-2C9E-416A-BB04-196B237F9F13

Bliss in a glass.

The Manhattan at New World Bistro Bar. I’ve been lucky enough to have the same bartender on my last two visits to NWBB, and she makes a dynamite Makers Mark Manhattan that is exactly how I like and order it – up and teeny bit sweet. I’ve been too captivated by my companion(s) to get her name, but she was there on a Sunday and Wednesday and is not Sara Jane…

CF74EC23-7E11-4A6B-B349-57EB5367F69F

A bed with a mix of crisp cotton, soft flannel and the comforting weight of down. Heaven.

The foliage was slow to come this ear, but the reds really kicked in these last few days and it was worth the wait. Stunning. What a marvel nature is!

Care to share what you’re crushing on?

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, beauty, drinking, favorites, house, Local, Observations, Recommendations, Restaurants, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Albany XXX

B7B7C0E7-69F6-425A-A3FA-09A9AF9E4F09

Amsterdam

What’s up with that title, right? Is it porn? Extra large? Nope…Roman numerals – thirty, as in thirty years since I first moved to Albany.

In August of 1988 I was 21. I moved here knowing not a single person, other than Mary Panza who I was lucky enough to meet when her roommate tried to seduce me find me an apartment in his role as a real estate agent. The summer of ‘88 was hot, so damn hot. There was a heat wave that was unrelenting. I traveled to England and the Netherlands in July that year and I loved every day of dreary, damp weather we experienced abroad.

That first trip to Europe changed my life. It opened so many doors and windows and made me a traveler in a way I had never imagined. I had met a guy on the ferry on my way back to London and was acutely aware that he was great, but that the timing was not. We did, however, make some lovely memories and everyone should know the excitement of a long distance romance. When a man flys into jfk, hops into a rental car and drives to Albany to spend 2 days with you…well, you feel kind of special. I hope you know that feeling.

Albany charmed me from my very first visit when I found my way to Lark St.and enjoyed a fancy brunch at The Beverwyck. Once I got a handle on the size of the city (it’s always felt small to me, initially a disappointment but ultimately an asset), and began connecting faces and names, history and legend, I settled in with interest and made a life here.

Albany has witnessed my greatest joys. I got married here, right in Washington Park on a picture perfect Sunday afternoon. I own a house and pay taxes in the city and appreciate the privilege of both of those being possible because of the education (and degrees) I received from SUNYA. My children were born here and are students in the city school district and, while the education they receive may not be as immediately impressive as the high test scores and college acceptance rates of the suburbs, I do know my sons have learned a lot about getting along with people who don’t necessarily look or think like they do. Lessons in life count too.

I started running, an activity I never could have imagined I’d love, while a student at UAlbany and have run thousands of miles around this city.  I’ve learned to write and take photos and have been lucky to share some of my passions with an interested audience.  The opportunities here have been limited only by my own level of competence.  It’s been so cool, really.

Albany, though, has also been the setting for some of my saddest days. There are places around this town that are absolutely haunted for me – spots that I do my best to avoid because of the personal ghosts. The news, both domestic and international, that I’ve witnessed while living in Albany, has left an imprint as well. Princess Diana dying, the towers falling, the children murdered in whatever most recent school shooting…I can tell you exactly where I was for each of those breaking stories. I’ve shed a lot of tears in this town. Believe it.

After 30 years, I love Albany more than ever. The happiness I’ve known in this city that receives credit for how easy it is to get to places “to which you really want to go,” has far outweighed the heartaches I’ve experienced. I’m not sure what the future holds, (once I hit my 30 years teaching, who knows?), but these three decades have been the most productive, challenging and exciting times of my life and I wouldn’t have wanted to live them anywhere else.

Thanks, Albany xx

1 Comment

Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, DelSo, Education, Europe, family, favorites, friends, house, Local, London, love, musings, News, Observations, relationships, running, Schools, Summer, travel, upstate New York

Stormy weather

I recommend this version of Stormy Weather, if you want to go multi sensory with this.

4F4D2B59-31F4-44E2-97AF-ADDC1F667062While I’ve been relishing the languid pace of this hot summer, with the added bonus drama of a spate of recent storms, sh*t has gotten real to folks in my immediate and extended neighborhoods. Last Friday, the rain came down in a textbook example of “deluge” and the infrastructure in our aging city just can’t bear it. Numerous homes on my block, and the neighboring streets, experienced a pretty gross example of that when their basements filled with inches of disgusting water from the overtaxed system. Nasty stuff that they’re still cleaning up nearly a week later. Ick.

Yesterday’s round of afternoon storms was wildly intense with pelting rain, fierce winds and chunks of hail pinging against my house. After it passed, I walked to our farmers market and was shocked by the destruction I saw. There were trees down and streets closed and Delaware Avenue, during rush hour, was very slow moving. The most shocking sight on my walk was the enormous tree down on Delaware and the resulting damage to at least two homes. The roots had just pulled out from the sodden ground and down it went.

EFD65069-61CC-41EF-8613-5EEF5EF82D5A.png

Omg – what are my open tabs communicating? 😊

This morning, Jeter and I took a walk to see how the clean up was going. It was obvious that a lot of work had been done overnight to cut up and cart away limbs and entire trees, but what was even more obvious was how much destruction had actually occurred. We walked Delaware to Beekman to Southern Blvd and I couldn’t get over how many times we had to walk in the street because there was a pile of branches monopolizing the entire sidewalk. Traffic was weird because streets were still closed and news trucks were setting up for their broadcasts. Pretty crazy.

AB05F5ED-10F3-4CBC-B7B6-7991693802A9I hope you all made it through unscathed and, for those that didn’t, I wish you well and hope you receive a fair insurance settlement. And, if you’re a renter, make sure you spring for renter’s insurance. You just never know.

F9027D7D-1802-44CC-8237-A737AE7E70C9

Take some inspiration from this ray of sunshine – just about broken in half, yet still blooming.

1 Comment

Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Flowers, house, Local, Observations, Summer, upstate New York