Category Archives: Local

Who are these people?

If you’re anything like me, you must occasionally observe the actions of others and wonder to yourself “Who are those people? Where are they from that they were taught that that sort of behavior was acceptable? Who raised them?!” There have been a few things in the news, and in my travels, recently that left me shaking my head and clenching my fists. Maybe they prompted a similar response in you?

People who harm or kill animals

On a local level, think of Hudson who, along with two litter mates,was found at approximately 3 weeks of age nailed to train tracks.  Or, maybe the “man” who was recently convicted of spraying his unnamed dog with alcohol and then setting it on fire. How about that abomination of a human being who killed Cecil the lion, along with numerous other majestic and rare animals, for “sport?” How can our world still be populated by humans who participate in canned hunts? I can’t imagine how anyone can perceive the act of killing a wild animal as something to be lauded.  They truly make me sick to my stomach.

On the side of the yellow brick road, 8/15

On the side of the yellow brick road, 8/15

People who litter

It is impossible to walk or run around Albany without confronting trash. The array of discarded debris is remarkable – from straw wrappers to empty beverage containers to flat screen tvs, all tossed by the roadside. What makes people believe the world is somehow their personal landfill? You know what? I kind of hate them.

The subject of trash is the perfect segue to the latest “reality” television family implosion…

The Dugars

I’ve never watched this show but it has been impossible to avoid hearing about this enormous family. Their homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic perspective on life was apparently popular entertainment for nearly a decade until they collectively revealed that their feet were made of clay. Or maybe mud would be a more accurate descriptor. I really wish that the fad of looking to families who are willing to prostitute themselves in the media as positive examples would end.  Immediately.

So, tell me – who are these people and, more importantly, how do we make them go away?

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Filed under Albany, Local, News, Random, Rants

Answering the call of cheese

imageOr maybe I should say the call of The Cheese Traveler. A couple of weeks ago while I was out of town, Eric reached out to me to see if I might lend a hand during his weekly cookouts. His regular servers were moving on to other opportunities and he just needed some help for the last 8 weeks or so of his season. Well, you know me. I like to work and if I can be of assistance to someone in my DelSo neighborhood, I’m in. Plus, there was cheese!

Two weeks ago, along with my neighbor/former McG’s coworker, Emily, I worked my first shift. How did it go? Well, we muddled through by the grace of our experience and the mellowness of everyone involved. If you’ve never done front of the house duties before I don’t know if I can explain to you all the variables and details which are involved with walking into an unknown food business and providing service, but, I’ll give it a shot…

First, there’s the menu. Although Ryan, Eric’s rockstar grill guy, runs a fairly small menu, the individual items feature numerous ingredients. Many of them include source information (for instance “Tilldale Farm“) or require some explanation (what is Halloumi??). Then there’s the beer, wine and cider offerings, which are really extensive and primarily small batch. Add in the need to understand how tickets or orders are placed (who makes the cheese plates vs. the hot items) and how the meal is paced if there are multiple courses. Of course, the server needs to know where to find things like silverware, napkins and glasses. Oh – and what do you when the gentle sprinkle of rain becomes a downpour?

So, Emily and I figured it out. Some familiar faces came out to enjoy a bite to eat and we managed to make it through the night relatively unscathed. Last night, our second dynamic duo evening, we did even better helping The Cheese Traveler to enjoy one of the best Friday night cookouts of the season. And we had a great time doing it!

I’m in for the next two Friday nights beyond point I’ll be occupied with my own project. Check out the menu, which is updated weekly, and stop by and enjoy a tasty dinner al fresco. In addition to my cameo appearance(s), there will be guest chefs featured on 8/28 and 9/4. Come see us!

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, drinking, Food, Local, Restaurants, Summer

Dealing with the City of Albany has been a bureaucratic…

imageDream! Bet you weren’t expecting that, right? I’ve freely admitted I know knew nothing about buying or owning a business so everything involved is new to me. As I wade through the paperwork and appointments, my respect for every single business owner on the face of the earth has grown immensely. God bless you, folks! Your success at navigating your way through the process is my inspiration.

My primary objective is to get my application to the State Liquor Authority asap because this is the lynchpin in the entire process. Of course, I want my application to be flawless or, as they say, lacking in deficiencies. I’m working with a professional who is helping me through this intensely precise process.

As I address the bulleted list of items I need, I’ve been in close contact with various offices in City Hall. The degree of helpfulness I’ve encountered has been absolutely outstanding. For instance, I needed a document that Codes and Enforcement typically has on file. Except, in this case, they had no record of ever producing the document I needed. Which meant that an inspection had to be scheduled and the timeframe for that, naturally, was approximately 2 weeks. When I explained my situation and the need to have the document the very next day, they made it happen. Boom.

This is just one example of the professional and polite assistance I’ve received during my interactions with city offices. Others? When I requested a brief meeting with the mayor, I was accommodated with a place on her schedule within 48 hours. As I attempted to obtain yet another piece of paper for the SLA and was advised it would require a FOIL request and approximately 30 days, an employee described another option which would achieve the same result and that could be prepared in 10 days or less.

Each person I’ve encountered has made it clear that they are interested in providing me, an eventual business owner, with what I need to do business in Albany. Their motivation and actions have demonstrated a commitment to this ideal and I couldn’t be more appreciative, as both a homeowner and a new business owner. Just when I thought I couldn’t love you more, Albany!

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Observations, stress

My network is > than my paperwork

imageI’ve just returned from a two-week vacation, perhaps my last one for some time. There was lots of beach time, leisurely walks, and evenings devoted to little but enjoying a glass or two of wine, I did also work on the Lark + Lily project. Phone calls and appointments were made and paperwork was collected and completed. It would be a stretch to call it a “working vacation,” but work was definitely on my mind and addressed.

imageThe amount of paperwork required to buy/open a business is remarkable. I’m not going to harangue the State of New York for this, I’m just stating a fact. As I’ve gathered documentation, records and my patience to complete various applications (I’m looking at you, SLA!), I’ve had moments of feeling overwhelmed. Along with a few deep breaths, here’s what is getting me through…

I have an amazing network of friends, professionals and connections who have been incredibly generous with their talents, experience and advice. Seriously, for every single piece of paper with which I’ve had to contend there are 5 people offering their support and assistance. I have a design team (Lori Hansen and Laura Glazer) helping me to create an aesthetic that is clean, warm and modern. A photographer, Jonathan Munshi, made himself available to shoot fantastic photos for the work-in-progress website and other social media platforms.

imageThe uber talented and way over-qualified Ken Ragsdale is doing my schematic drawings for my liquor license application. My wine distributor friends, along with my former husband (a former wine salesman) are waiting in the wings to help me put together a creative wine list with a median bottle price in the $40 range. A stellar mixologist, Larz Davi, offered to develop a couple of signature cocktails and we’ll be playing up the history of 200 Lark St. with her creations. Did you know that 200 Lark St. was formerly a chiropractic office? Look for the “Backcracker” on the cocktail menu!

The industry folks (Tess Collins, Paul McCullough, The Purnomos, Connie Ware, Kevin Everleth, Matt Baumgartner) who have shared their knowledge (and Rolodexes) will eternally hold a place in my heart, along with the legal professionals and realtor who are helping me to make this all happen. Media professionals Steve Barnes and Mary Darcy are also greatly appreciated.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The challenge of the paperwork is surpassed by the challenges trying to remember every single person who has come forward and offered a hand to me. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, but will correct and update this post as necessary.

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Restaurants, stress, Wine

When treats are tricks!

This isn't Jeter, but this is what he looked like!

This isn’t Jeter, but this is what he looked like!

Late the other night, after dinner and a run and some quality time with a pint of Haagen Daz, I finally settled on the couch with a bottle of cider and my guy to relax. The plan was to pick up where we last left off in our much-delayed viewing of The Sopranos and I was very really looking forward to reconnecting with all of the involved.

Jeter was his usual good-natured self, happily enjoying a roasted marrow bone. As I refreshed my memory with a few minutes of the previous episode (sometimes I doze off) Jeter jumped up on the couch next to me, something he doesn’t normally do. I pushed him down. He jumped back up. I pushed him down a second time, looking him in the eyes and saying “no.” That’s when I noticed the marrow bone circling his lower jaw.

We sat him down and began our attempts to remove it. We tried to slide it, turn it and push it all to no avail. He wasn’t in pain, but he was drooling up a storm since his mouth wouldn’t completely close and he couldn’t fully swallow. I began to panic – be it one of the boys or the dog, I definitely don’t shine in situations such as this. I called the emergency vet’s office and we headed over to Latham.

We arrived to a nearly empty waiting room and a full staff of super nice people. Wagging his tail, Jeter left my side and went with a vet tech to a room where they sedated him and deftly slid the bone “donut” off his jaw. It couldn’t have been much more than 5 minutes later when the tech returned with the offending bone in hand and reassured me that they would be waking Jeter up and he would be ready to depart with in 30 minutes or so. Sure enough, a short while later Jeter came wobbling out looking a bit dazed, but fine.

$250 lighter and infinitely lighter-hearted, we headed home less than an hour after our arrival. While I no longer will be preparing small marrow bones for Jeter, it is reassuring to know that top-notch emergency veterinarian care is nearby. Also comforting was hearing from the staff that they see this same situation about once a month – and that it’s just about always a Labrador.

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Filed under family, Local, medical, Recommendations, stress

ARE summer trail series – Week 8

Image: rensselaerny.gov

Last night I finally got back on the path for my 4th run in the summer series. I swear my skipping a few weeks was completely unrelated to the challenge of Thacher Park! Life has been a bit hectic and I’ve been running later in the evening because of the heat.

It was the second time this year that ARE looped around 5 Rivers, but since I missed the earlier run, it was a first for me. My experience on the beautiful trails at 5 Rivers was limited to a cross-country ski outing a couple of years ago and I was curious to see the area in the full-out lushness of summer. I was not disappointed.

The course we ran melded together a number of different trails. The surface varied between mowed grass, wood chips, dirt, moss and small stones and was sufficiently wide enough in most places for 3 runners to run abreast. Other than an incline in the last half mile or so, the course was fairly flat with a few downhill sections. The views were lovely and it was a real treat to run by the series of small ponds to the welcome chorus of bullfrogs.

The loop we took was approximately 3 miles and I would definitely like to do it again. As always, folks were friendly and the pace was relaxed and comfortable. We’re just beyond the midway point in the series and I’m right on track with my goal of making 50% of the runs. Next week’s course has not yet been determined, but there will be pizza. See you there!

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Filed under Exercise, ideas, Local, Recommendations, running, Summer, upstate New York

So I kind of bought a wine bar

imageTo be more specific, my brother and I bought THE Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark. Last week. Now, you should know that this all happened very, very fast. That is, if you take away all the years I’ve worked in the business (30+), including the last 4 1/2, for which I’ve worked at this very place. An opportunity presented and with the assistance of true, but pithy phrases such as “Do what you love” and “It’s perfect for you” I made a leap out of my comfort zone.

It’s kind of scary, but more exhilarating and exciting. I know that I am going to be working very long days, but it isn’t 7 days a week and I’m healthy and strong. I estimate that I’ll be working 60 hours a week or so, but you know what? There are 168 hours in a week which still leaves me plenty of time for sleeping and loved ones and running and reading.

I’m not particularly goal oriented, I haven’t been consciously working in the hospitality industry for decades as a means of stepping towards owning my own restaurant. I did it because I loved it.  I don’t run 15 or 20 miles a week because I’m training for a marathon, I do it because I enjoy being outdoors and I appreciate my health. Because I am fairly fit and active, I can face 60 hour weeks with confidence. Maybe this venture is what I’ve been preparing myself for physically with runs and bike rides and yoga classes.

It’s going to work because I love the hospitality industry and it is the perfect venture for me.

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Restaurants