Category Archives: Local

Inspiring vs. Inciting – Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Yesterday was a huge day for politics in Albany, our Capital City on the Hudson. My schedule only allowed for me to attend one of the three pre-primary political rallies, but I am ever so proud to say that my older sons represented at the two events held during the early afternoon. How cool is it that they are interested and participating at their ages – 16 and 19?

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Liam, my oldest son attended the Kasich rally in Troy, essentially because he is taking classes at HVCC and the event was very conveniently nearby. Liam leans further to the right than I and often threatens to vote for candidates who hold much more socially conservative positions than I do. He didn’t really have an opportunity to share many impressions of the speech but he did say Kasich is a moderate Republican with a repeated refrain of jobs, jobs, jobs.

Griffin, my middle son, is always game to skip school and the Bernie rally gave him a fine and legitimate reason to cut out of class with my permission. He liked Bernie’s message but found him, when compared to President Obama, to be a less powerful speaker. He was in agreement with the message, but said Sanders had a “Grandpa cute” vibe. Griffin did really enjoy the folks present, though, and felt comfortable in the tightly packed crowd in the Armory. There might have even been some hugging, from what I understand. I was sad to have missed it.

Made in China - worn with total irony

Made in China – worn with total irony

Later in the day, after a fortifying beer meal at McGeary’s, all 3 of my boys and I headed to the Times Union Center for what we referred to as the circus. We arrived at approximately 6:40 and waited in line for entry and security for about 20 minutes. It was an informative time as we looked around at the other folks in line wondering what their stories might be. Were they genuine supporters? Local? Perhaps merely curious, like us, there to see the spectacle? It was impossible to know.

imageWe made it to seats in the upper deck just minutes before Trump graced the enthusiastic crowd with his presence. He immediately launched into his stump speech, littering his diatribe with meaningful phrases such as “New York values,” “building that wall” and “making America great again.” His words were resonating with the crowd who greeted his sound bites with cheers and the frenzied waving of their Trump signs. Other people present began to respond as well to Trump’s claims, but these people were protestors, not supporters. The energy in the arena shifted from simple enthusiasm to a more complicated mélange of fear and anger. My children began to feel uncomfortable.

imageI looked around at the people surrounding us and tried to think about what might have made them so angry. How could they possibly be more furious with Mexican immigrants than they are with corporations which relocate to Mexico to lower production costs and maximize profits? Why are they resentful of citizens desiring comprehensive and affordable healthcare, but not with pharmaceutical companies using government money for research yet not making their products financially within reach of those who may need them? How does a New York City billionaire represent the interests of what looked to be a mostly blue-collar crowd?

We witnessed a couple of fights break out and saw a number of attendees being removed from the facility. The threat of more ugliness was pervasive. The boys asked to leave, which we did just before 8:00.

To me, Bernie Sanders brings light to our country’s political landscape while Donald Trump delivers a fire that threatens to incinerate all it touches. More than once last night I considered the similarities between the scene in front of us and what was Germany in the 1930s. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I’ll confess that I repeatedly thought: “Is this how Hitler gained power? Is this how it begins?”

Primary Day can’t come soon enough.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Education, Events, family, Local, Observations, politics, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Filling my garment rack at Nordstrom Rack

You know I’m not much of a follower, preferring to blaze my own trail when it comes to shopping. It doesn’t matter if it’s groceries (I still haven’t been to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods) or clothing – you’ll not see me waiting in line to get into the newest retail spot. As a matter of fact, these days I seem to do an awful lot of my shopping online because I simply don’t have the time to drive to the mall and poke around looking for deals or something in my size.

But, despite the recent snow, it’s spring and I’m going on vacation in a few weeks which means my wardrobe needed some refreshing. Having gotten my run in early, my afternoon opened up and I decided a few hours of solo recreational shopping would be the perfect way to relax and prepare for a busy week and my upcoming trip. Off to Colonie Center I went.

My original intention was to hit up Macy’s and troll the sales rack for leftover winter items that might transition into spring, but since I started at LL Bean,* I decided to pop into Nordstrom Rack on my way. That was probably the best decision I made all day.

I don’t have much familiarity with this store, having only been here once or twice before with the boys looking for sneakers. Since I’ve been jonesing for an off the shoulder dress for spring,  I headed immediately to the dress racks, focusing first on current, full price items. After coming up empty, I moved on to the discounted racks where I absolutely filled my arms (12 things!) with dresses, tops and an indulgent item or two. I’m a big believer in getting undressed once in the changing room and trying everything on in one fell swoop.

So? How did I do? I went home with 6 (!) dresses, 2 tops, 1 super cozy cashmere sweater and a gorgeous jacket for a grand total of… $290! Considering that the sweater and the jacket alone combined for $144, I’d say that my shopping expedition was a great success. According to the sales receipt I saved $1190 so I guess I did all right.

Where do you scratch your itch to shop? What do you have your eye on for spring or summer? And – have you seen any fantastic off the shoulder dresses around?

*For the first time ever, I exercised the lifetime guarantee offered by LL Bean and asked them to replace a backpack that had shoulder straps that were shredding and tearing off. They lived up to their promise without hesitation.

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Filed under Albany, Fashion, Local, Random, Spring, Uncategorized

Doing the Delmar Dash – 2016

imageIt wasn’t so long ago that I imagined 5 miles to be farther than I would ever run – it just didn’t seem like a distance that I would ever be able to run. My, how life changes…

On the snowy morning that was Sunday, the Lunar B*tches united and ran one of the most pleasant, even in gusty winds, early spring races in the area. The course weaves in and out of lovely residential neighborhoods on flat roads and starts and finishes at the school where I work.

I’m not a fan of morning running, but with the sun shining and a commitment to taking my time and enjoying the ride, it wasn’t a bad time at all. The snow added a sense of adventure to an already chill day. Dash done – next up: Dodge the Deer.

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Filed under Exercise, friends, Local, running, Spring, sunday, Uncategorized

Taking a hike with a runner

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My very first vacation with my former husband was a trip to Washington State where we spent a week or so camping and hiking.  It was a memorable trip for many reasons (the San Juan Islands – oh my goodness!) but by no means did the experience turn me into an outdoors women a la Anne LaBastille.  I enjoyed the time, however, in my world hiking means taking a walk in the woods with a flask camera, not aggressively conquering a mountain.   Alas, he and I were different.

You might be surprised to learn that despite living in Albany for close to 30 years, nestled between the Catskills and Adirondacks, I’ve never really gone hiking since that long ago trip.  Last month that finally changed as I hit the trail.  Let me tell you about it…

I’m training for a trail race on Mother’s Day and decided to incorporate some activities beyond merely running.  The course I’m taking on next month includes, from what I’ve read and heard, some serious elevation complete with rock scrambling.  Getting out into the woods, particularly with someone adept at both hiking and running, seemed to be the ideal cross training opportunity.  Next stop – the Catskills.

One of the things I most enjoy about running is the endorphin rush – I love the feeling of my spine tingling as my body releases a combination of energy and exertion.  Amazing.  When it came time to take a hike, I requested one which would challenge and push me a bit beyond a mere meandering.  The hike up Blackhead, a loop of approximately 4.5 miles, was just what the doctor ordered and I loved it.  Total elevation gain – approximately 2,000 with a significant part of that (~1,100 feet) coming in less than a mile.  I said I wanted a challenge, right?

The weather on Easter Sunday was perfect early spring – mild, with hazy sun.  The forest in springtime is a magical place with signs of life* to be discovered around every twist in the trail.  The fresh air, with a hint of cedar was invigorating and our path included mossy green spots promising softness to the touch, as well as boulders and ice that demanded cautious attention. There was a quietly babbling brook to be crossed, an easy feat in a year with barely any snow melt, along with the remains of a stone dam from decades gone past.  It really was an afternoon for the senses.

I think I’m hooked.

*Along with evidence of the demise of an unfortunate bird. Check out the photos…

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Filed under Exercise, Hiking, Hiking, holidays, Local, Recommendations, road trips, running, Spring, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Weather or not

imageIt’s hard to deny that spring has sprung now that I’ve got two colors of crocus creating a riot of color in my front garden.  I can’t say I’m unhappy about the premature arrival of what is typically the most fickle of seasons, but I can admit that I am more than a little uncomfortable with how quickly windows have been thrown open and bare legs have been exposed.  I’m still waiting for winter.

For the first time in my 20 years of teaching, I didn’t have a single delayed start or cancelation to school this winter.  Yes, I said 20 years.  That is remarkable.  Also absent from this year’s “winter” was any opportunity to cross-country ski locally, sleigh ride or build a snowman.  I can count on one ungloved hand the number of days which were bitter cold and I’m glad that I didn’t invest in new winter gear for any of my children.

I miss the sound of cottony silence that comes from a good snowstorm and the camaraderie of neighbors coming together to dig cars out of mounds of snow and shovel sidewalks. There’s something magical about waking up in the morning to find one’s front steps buried in white, fluffy powder.  It adds a sense of adventure to an otherwise typical day.

All that being said, I didn’t miss white knuckled driving or needing to repeatedly fill my wiper fluid reservoir.  My skis may not have come out of their off season home in the basement, but I was able to explore areas of the golf course on foot that I’d only ever experienced before on skis.  Running the golf course for 4 or 5 months has been both a real treat and a workout and Jeter and I are both going to miss it.

This premature El Niño spring feels a bit like a reward not earned, but let’s enjoy it, along with e.e. cummings’ words, anyway.

“sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love”

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Filed under beauty, favorites, Flowers, Local, Normanskill, Observations, running, skiing, Spring, upstate New York, x-country skiing

International Women’s Day is over

imageLast night Lark + Lily represented at a lovely event held at the Opalka Gallery at Sage College in Albany. It was a lovely event attended by a diverse crowd and I was really happy to have been asked to participate. Our beet juice pickled, deviled eggs garnished with roe were beautiful and well received and I was really proud of my chef’s creativity and the reputation we’re building. After the event, I drove to Lark Street and was really happy to see that the restaurant was busy with all tables seated with guests. It was a good night.

Today, though, despite the dazzling sunshine and mild temperatures, things are feeling not quite as rosy. As I read the morning’s paper an article raised my ire to a level of frustration and annoyance high enough to chase away my sense of satisfaction with regards to International Women’s Day. Maybe you feel the same?

This article from today’s Times Union left me almost speechless, not due to the incident itself (I vividly recall the Tawana Brawley case and was greatly dismayed to see this sort of situation occur again), but rather because of the words spoken by the two attorneys involved with the case with regards to the decision made by their clients to not attend a disciplinary hearing being held at the University of Albany. Or, as one of the attorneys described it, the “University of Injustice.”

I’m not going to provide either lawyer with additional “print” exposure so I won’t mention their names, but Attorney One characterized the University’s adherence to its internal disciplinary process as an opportunity for it to “manufacture and perform an academic lynching.” Yes, he was directly quoted as saying “lynching.” How does that do anything but perpetuate racial divide? As for Attorney Two’s statement that his client is unable to appear at the scheduled hearing due to the criminal charges she is facing and how “that’s not fair,” I’m afraid I don’t have much sympathy. Perhaps counsel should attempt to get the hearing delayed so she can be held responsible legally for her actions prior to facing discipline at the University?

I can’t begin to truly understand the discrimination that minorities face in our country. I’ve witnessed the racism to which our President and his family have been subjected and it makes me sick. How can our society remain so divided when it comes to race?  As a white person, I know I will probably never be subjected to systemic racism, but I can look at the experience through a different lens; that of gender.

As women, we are often taught to fear men and their actions.  The initial reports of the bus incident indicated that the young men had aggressively menaced and threatened these young women, an occurrence which is always a potential threat to females in our society. This was not the truth.

I don’t know what the solution is to the systemic racism in our world, but I can say with confidence that the actions of these three women students did nothing to advance that cause. In fact, their decision to fabricate an outrageous story has damaged the credibility of other women who may truly be victims of racism and misogyny.  That is nothing to celebrate.

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Filed under Albany, Education, Local, News, Rant

Leaping in – a panel, a posse and some peeps

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photo credit: Zara Ahmad

Monday night I did something I never imagined I’d be asked to do…I was part of a panel of women entrepreneurs at Albany’s University Club discussing the importance of peer support. How in the world did that happen? I’m still not certain, but what I can tell you is this – it was a remarkable evening in many surprising ways.

Here are the tangibles about the evening; the invitation for me to participate came from Colleen Ryan, the dynamo behind so many initiatives around town. The idea for the Leap Day event had actually been conceived at my own Ladies First Event back in November, an act of serendipity that I absolutely love. The panel consisted of three women, each of us in different and interesting fields. Joining me were Katie O’Malley Mallon, owner of Katie O Weddings and Events and Dr. Tobi Saulnier, founder of First Playable Productions. Coincidently (?) the entire panel rocked red hair – titian power at its finest.

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photo credit: Zara Ahmad

Prior to the “formal” part of the evening, wine and tidbits were served, including a tasting table provided by Capital Wine & Spirits, my Lark Street neighbor. As I chugged sipped courage in the form of thimbles of wine (I think I had 2), I looked around the room and was struck by how many women there were familiar to me. I felt the presence of my posse. My comfort level with the thought of speaking in front of this crowd of 60+ increased – and not from the wine, either, it was the realization that the women present were there to share – thoughts, experiences, advice and laughter. It was going to be fine.

The Times Union’s Tracey Ormsbee was the moderator and she posed questions that were general enough to give each of us an opportunity to respond. Katie and Tobi were so impressive with their insightful and intelligent answers and they were positively inspirational. Humor was also very present and the audience was wonderfully receptive, asking questions which were indicative of the degree of engagement which was present. It was a wonderful evening.

Bookending the panel were two encounters which were the perfect prelude and coda to my night. As I got out of my car, which I had parked on Washington Avenue near my very first apartment, I encountered one of my customers from the first Albany restaurant where I had worked. It just felt like such a sign from my past, almost as if it was evidence that the encounters one has over the years remain permanently with us. Incredibly enough, he was on his way to my event – can you imagine?!

As the event came to a close, I was reluctant to end the night. Knowing that my very first Albany friend, Mary Panza, was hosting an open mic poetry reading down at McGeary’s, I got in my car and headed downtown.  Spending a little time with my oldest local peep seemed like the perfect way to bring the night, and my Albany life, full circle.

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Filed under Albany, Local, relationships