Category Archives: Local

I told a story

For months I’ve been seeing posts on Facebook promoting the Front Parlor Series – public storytelling in the Capital Region. The group hosts an event every third Monday of the month at The Olde English and describes them as being “like The Moth radio hour…” Hmmm, doesn’t that sound interesting?

Needless to say, I’ve been wanting to get down there for some time and when I saw that June’s theme was “Dads,” I knew I had to go. The event began at 7:30 and I rolled in solo some time after 8:00. The upstairs room at The Olde English was steamy hot which provided the perfect excuse for my flushed face and general sweaty-with-nerves appearance. I  missed the first group of storytellers and had arrived at intermission. Never having done an open mic thing before, I looked around for a sign-up sheet, but learned quickly that it was more casual than that – just leave your name and they’ll let you know when it’s your turn.

There were three people in front of me and they each told stories which were unique in both content and conveyance. The first man seemed to be responding to an earlier participant (his daughter?) and tended to wander  a bit, while the second man had a more focused tale that he shared, gathering laughs along the way. The woman immediately before me told a sweet, but alarmingly brief, story that had a distinctly poetic sound to it. I would have enjoyed hearing more from her, but suddenly it was my turn.

The rules stated no notes, so I didn’t have anything beyond a mental outline of what I was going to share. Participants are limited to 5-7 minutes, but I had no sense of how long it would take to tell my story. There had been a timer which had actually sounded during one of the previous stories, but no one really paid any attention to it from what I could see. Maybe it would have been an issue had there been more participants, but on this particular night it wasn’t a problem. That took some pressure off and I made a note to speak slowly and take my time collecting my thoughts and words.

So – my story was about how I found my father. I brought a prop for inspiration (and a shot of confidence), the 30+ year old page from the Dublin phone directory which led to me locating my first ever relative on either side of my family. It’s a story that can take significantly longer to tell than 7 minutes, but I hit the most important parts while purposefully keeping the story focused on my father and his our family.

The response from the audience was encouraging. They laughed and sighed at the right times and afterwards a few were kind enough to compliment me on my story.  I recognize that I tell stories here, but standing in front of a roomful of strangers and actually seeing their reaction was a whole new experience for me. I’d definitely consider doing this again, if only as an exercise in pushing myself beyond my comfort level.

Maybe you have some stories to tell, too?

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Filed under Albany, Events, ideas, Local, Observations, Recommendations, writing

Telling stories – Adam Gidwitz

Last week, author Adam Gidwitz visited my school and spent the day doing presentations and hanging out with kids, and it was incredible. I haven’t read everything he’s written, but last year’s The Inquisitor’s Tale was one of my favorite recent reads. It’s a book that is difficult to sort into a definitive genre, but it has historic fiction, fantasy and adventure elements that combine beautifully into a wonderful story told in multiple voices a la The Canterbury Tales. Except that, unlike my high school experience suffering through Chaucer, this book was a joy from start to finish.

Adam did three separate presentations for my students and each was slightly tweaked to meet the population, in this case, our school’s grades of sixth, seventh and eighth. I was totally impressed with his comfort level with our students and his genuine interest in them. For instance, as students were filing in to the auditorium he made a point of introducing himself to those already seated with an easy “Hi, I’m Adam. What’s your name?” His past career as “the worst teacher in NYC,”* was proven impossible to believe. He gets kids.

We had lunch as a group of about 25 and it was relaxed and fun. I know the kids who were present won’t ever forget the experience. It was so cool. The last presentation was with our sixth graders and it was magic to see him wrangle that group of pre-pubescent kids, on the last Friday afternoon of the school year, with just four words: Once upon a time…

Read his books and see him speak, if you have the chance. There’s a possibility that he might pop up in the area next year and I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything.

*laughingly self-defined as such

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Filed under Books, Education, Events, favorites, Librarians, Libraries, Local, Recommendations, Schools, Uncategorized

Soccer balls

My youngest son had his last AYSO game this weekend.  As we were getting ready to go to the field Jeter was desperately maneuvering to join us, winding all 85 lbs of himself between my legs, and under my feet, until I relented and agreed to take him. I knew he couldn’t hang out on the field, but figured I’d take him for a walk during the first half and then settle down with him for the second half somewhere with a view of the field. Off we went.

We arrived at the fields behind AHS and parked. I sent Quinn on his way and put Jeter’s harness on and headed out for our walk.  Because I didn’t want to miss the entire game, we did a simple loop and were back in maybe a half an hour. As I returned to the fields, walking across the road from the actual playing area, I overheard a woman on the opposite side of the road talking. She said something like, “Look at her walking that dog right past the sign that says ‘No dogs.’”  I don’t like passive aggressive folks and my response was immediate: “I’m walking my dog back to my parked car. My child is playing soccer.” She seemed a bit surprised by my directness but continued to insist that dogs weren’t permitted. I pointed out that the sign says no dogs on the fields. We weren’t on the field, we were across the street from the field and clearly walking to the parking lot. She said something else, again not to me, but about me. I looked at her, told her she was wrong, pointed out that I had seen a couple of other small dogs and repeated that we weren’t on the field and continued to my car.

I don’t know. Was I wrong? Does “No dogs on the field area” mean I couldn’t walk him along the road back and forth to my parked car? What do you think?

 

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Local, soccer, Uncategorized

Lost and Found: Sunday yoga

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Photo from Lost and Found

The first outdoor yoga class I took left me unimpressed with the experience. I recall it being a little annoying – there were all kinds of bugs, my mat wasn’t even on the bumpy and lumpy ground and grass got all over everything. Instead of the setting enhancing the experience, for me, it was a distraction. No bueno.

I didn’t unroll my mat again outdoors for a long time. When I finally felt ready again to take my practice outdoors, I went in a different direction – on my own deck, on a paddle board, on the streets of downtown Albany. Each of those opportunities provided more satisfaction than that initial foray into the great outdoors, so when I saw that Lost and Found in Albany’s Warehouse District was offering a free Sunday morning class, I decided to give it a shot.

While I had originally intended to ride my bike downtown, my Sunday morning speed nixed that plan. I was able to assuage my guilt at being a slacker by offering to pick up a friend on my way and we arrived at our destination a few minutes before the scheduled 10:00 start time. Parking was plentiful and we made our way to the end of the second row of yogis.

The morning sun felt wonderful and I quickly shed my long-sleeved shirt in favor of just a tank. The grassy lot was fairly flat and whenever I found myself face down on my mat, I couldn’t help but inhale deeply. The clover sprinkled grass just smelled great. The two instructors co-taught the class effectively, helping participants adjust poses, modifying and offering options and clearly communicating throughout the practice. It was a wonderful way to spend an hour outdoors and I’ll definitely keep an eye on Lost and Found’s Facebook page for future classes. 

Note – class participants are given a 20% discount on any brunch entree following class and, while the class is free, donations were accepted to benefit Out of the Pits, a pit bull rescue organization. Cool, right?

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Filed under Albany, Brunch, Events, friends, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Spring, yoga

When Pint-Sized is just enough

Saturday night dinner service can sometimes demand a period of winding down prior to heading home. An adult beverage, along with some conversation, can provide the ideal transition between work and rest, with a bonus if you can walk to a place that allows for both.  Lucky Center Square residents have the fairly new incarnation of Pint-Sized, which has evolved from a coffee/beer-to-go spot into a full-fledged beer and cider joint, that does a fairly good job of meeting both of those needs.

My friend and I rolled in sometime after 11:00 to find a hopping bar and selection of quality beverages. While I love a good beer (and plan to drink a few next month while in Europe), cider has been my jam in recent years. I just find it a bit lighter in my belly. As soon as I spied the beautiful can of Nine-Pin Cider Rosé, my decision was made. We grabbed two and headed to the less crowded area, down one step and 10 decibels.

We sipped our drinks directly from the can and caught up, enjoying the great view of Lark Street and the excellent playlist.  We were eventually joined by a pretty damn noisy group of folks, but they didn’t detract from the experience too much. I do wish, though, that people could moderate their volume a little better but, it was Saturday night and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. As did we.

I think I found my new summer sipping spot. Check it out.

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Filed under Albany, beer, drinking, friends, Lark Street, Local, Recommendations, Summer, Uncategorized

City Squire Ale House

#sillyandwillyreunited

Friday night, after far too long of a separation, my friend Will and I reunited for an evening of fun and food. Initially I thought we were going to hang in Albany for First Friday, but he felt the need to check out a friend’s new spot on Union Street in Schenectady since he been away when they celebrated the grand opening. Our night could not have been better.

The space, from what I understand, is a complete new build on what had previously been a tavern sort of place, the original City Squire. From the charming front porch, which blurs the line between indoors and outdoors with its floor to ceiling doors which open wide, to the upstairs deck, the building was simply beautiful. The color palette, the floors, the attention to detail, everything about the place combined to make a really pretty setting for what became an indulgent and prolonged meal.

We started at the bar with 3 items from the menu and drinks. Making selections was a challenge because so much sounded good, but we went with the Mexican cauliflower (a recommendation from the owner), a dozen steamers and the fish tacos which were made with fried shrimp on that particular day. Our bartender, Kevin, was great making sure we were comfortable and well taken care of, and went as far as to have other guests at the bar shift over to provide us with seating. Nice.

The cauliflower, served in a cast iron casserole dish, was fantastic. Florets of cauliflower, corn kernels, scallions and queso fresco came together perfectly in a flavorful array of textures. Ordered with a salad, it would make a dynamite and satisfying meatless meal. The clams were lovely – fresh and clean lacking only a vessel in which to place the quickly emptied shells. The tacos were a tremendous portion – 3 soft shelled beauties bursting with shrimp and assorted shredded vegetables served in a perfectly designed holder. We probably could have stopped there, but were joined by our third guest and moved to a table to sample a few more items.

Mexican cauliflower heaven

Clams, butter, crostini simplicity

Fish tacos – outstanding!

Will opted for a salad and a beef entree, while Raj selected two more small plate options – the Korean wings (spicy with a Korean chili garlic sauce) and the grilled flatbread a bruschetta-y sort of prep of naan, tomatoes, chicken and mozzarella. I sampled everything at the table and found it all to be well prepared and nicely seasoned. It is a casual place with paper napkins, yet the dishes and glasses were thoughtfully selected and our server was attentive to our needs.

As we wrapped things up to take home, we were joined by the chef, who actually oversees all four of the restaurants the family owns. While we didn’t order dessert, his enthusiasm and joy in being part of this project, as well as the others, was a super sweet way to end a meal. There is a real sense of family and teamwork that I really appreciated seeing. So many industry folks struggle with cynicism, but without exception, everyone we encountered was positive and upbeat. I was a guest of my friends and don’t know our total for the night, but can’t imagine it was out of line for the quality of the experience. Can’t wait to go back!

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, favorites, Food, friends, Happy Hour, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Schenectady, Spring, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Mother’s Day moments, 2018

My posse

We’re not really big on Hallmark holidays, but I do indulge in playing the Mother’s Day card once a year. This year I was informed that I could say “but, it’s Mother’s Day” a total of only ten times before the phrase would lose its power to motivate my sons to do something for me. I think I got to number 8 on that before calling it a night. It was a good day weekend. Some highlights:

  • Arriving at home, after walking from work on Lark Street, to find one of my sons beginning to tackle the sink full of dishes left by his brothers.
  • Leisurely reading the NYT and TU at the dining room table while listening to the Spotify station of my choice.
  • Pancakes with strawberries, even if I had to make them myself.
  • A lovely gift. 
  • A few chores crossed off the list.
  • Throwing the ball around with my dog-son.
  • Catnapping on my deck in the sun.
  • Running 7+ miles with my Luna B*tch, Chrissy.
  • A little time spent in Washington Park with the tulips and lilacs.
  • Dinner with all 3 of my sons (sort of, one was working) at one of my favorite Albany spots, Cafe Capriccio.

    Of course I got the eggplant. 

  • Wrapping up the weekend by extending it to Monday with some satisfying yard work and a long phone call to one of my favorite moms.

    Isn’t mulch like magic?

I hope all you other Moms enjoyed your weekends as well.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Boys, Dinner, family, favorites, Flowers, Gardens, holidays, Local, moms, Restaurants, running, Spring, sunday, Uncategorized