Some people find it odd that “my” library is at the end of the wing where the music department has some of their classrooms. When the air conditioning is on we close the doors, but for much of the year sounds from the band room make their way to my desk and I love it. Wednesday afternoons the jazz band plays and it’s my favorite day of the week to listen. Our teachers are so good at what they do – exposing students to music, cultivating their talents, inspiring their efforts. It truly never ceases to amaze me.
This time of year, our students are working hard to prepare for various concerts and performances and the song selections include graduation favorites such as Pomp and Circumstance, a tune that never fails to make me feel nostalgic. Hearing this song is an audible reminder that the school year is almost over, that it’s time to mark both an ending and a beginning, and it is music to my ears.
The clear delineation of the calendar is one the greatest perks of teaching for me. I’m the kind of person who appreciates a new academic year, a new semester, a new quarter, a new week and a new day because each of these milestones comes with an opportunity to start anew. I’ve always loved flipping a calendar to an entirely new month of days and a brand new notebook never failed to inspire me to attempt to do my best work. There’s always a fresh beginning for which to look forward, something different coming our way.
In the past couple of days two people whom I’ve admired and been inspired by, found themselves unable to survive the thought of another day of living. They were in a place so dark and so sad that they couldn’t see that the next day, or even the very next moment, provided another chance to start again.
As we get ready to witness the commencement of another class of students and send them off to their next life chapter, I worry that we’re creating a culture where music and books aren’t thought to belong together, but success, depression and suicide are. What are we teaching these kids? When do they get to connect – with one another and not the WiFi network? We have dozens of devices designed to facilitate conversation but no one’s really communicating.
We need to slow it down and start listening better. This is a health crisis and we can do better. Listen.
Filed under aging, beauty, Education, Europe, Events, favorites, France, friends, musings, NYC, Observations, politics
Years ago, when I was still married, my husband and I spent a weekend in NYC. During a stroll on 5th Avenue, despite my husband being right by my side, I fell in love. It was an unusual occurrence because I’d never really lusted before for a designer handbag, but there was something about that green bag that completely attracted my attention. Until I saw the price, that is – $435. As if.
Fast forward to a few weeks later. Hubby and I were out for a bike ride when he received a phone call from one of his brothers informing him that their mother’s “estate” had some more money to disburse to each of the siblings, more than enough for that handbag that I was still thinking about, actually. At this point he was riding a very nice bicycle which he had purchased with his inheritance, so I didn’t feel out of line when I said “You know, your mother would want me to have that bag…”
He generously agreed with a laugh and I placed the order as soon as we got home. Two days later “she” arrived nestled in her dust bag within a large box. Having that bag in my hand made me feel like a grown up in a whole new way. Yes, it was indulgent and materialistic, but it was also a simply beautiful piece of leather goods and I loved owning it.
Since that initial purchase, there have been several more love affairs between me and Kate Spade. My collection of handbags has become a bit of a signature for me and I received more than a half -dozen notifications when the news of her death broke earlier this week. The thrill of taking one of those bags out of its protective dust cover has yet to fade, no matter how many years they’ve been in my closet, and I’m sorry that I never took the time to tell her how special they make me feel. She will be missed.
One of the highlights of my recent overnight in NYC with my youngest son was a couple of hours spent touring the Intrepid aircraft carrier. We’ve visited this historic vessel before, but it’s been a long time and the Memorial Day holiday provided the perfect reason to go back again.
We arrived at about noon, after a leisurely walk following checkout from The Paul Hotel on 29th Street. The lines for admission were a bit daunting, but we decided to invest 20 minutes and then reevaluate our commitment. Fortunately, things moved pretty quickly and after a hiccup using the automated ticket ($33 per ticket) dispenser, we were boarding.
View from the bridge.
Quinn wanted to begin our self-guided tour on the ship’s bridge so we headed up the external stairs. As we rounded a turn, the sound of Taps caused us to pause. We had inadvertently placed ourselves in an ideal position to witness a commemorative ceremony. While the musicians played, I glanced around, taking in the uniformed service people standing at attention. When the last notes sounded, a great roar came from the sky as four military jets approached.
The noise was deafening – I could almost feel the vibrations in my belly, and, as a single plane diverted by flying east, the power of the display was incredibly moving. These people, I thought, these are the truest of Americans. The sacrifices made by our military are shamefully beyond any made by the current occupant of the highest office in our country and I’m so glad that my son and I were there to witness this display and honor them.
Think about it for next year. Fleet Week is a great opportunity to feel genuinely proud of being American.
While I don’t maintain a formal bucket list, I have long thought that I would like to take part in a race in NYC. When an elementary (!) school friend contacted me a few months ago about the Shape Half Marathon, I knew I had found my race. The price was a little extravagant, and the media partner wasn’t really my cup of tea, but the course was appealing and I’ll pretty much spend a weekend in NYC anytime – even if it means I have to run 13.1 miles!
Spring has been a long time coming in the northeast this year, which only made Saturday’s forecast of sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s that much more appealing. The race, however, was being held on Sunday morning, which had much less favorable forecast. Our only solution was to soak up as much sunshine (and carbohydrates) as possible pre-race, which we did as we walked and ate our way around the city.
Race day dawned dry, but cold. We cabbed the 30 blocks to Central Park and spent the 45 minutes or so before the start working hard to stay warm. It was a raw and miserable morning* and I regretted not adding gloves or a warm hat to my racing wear. My legs were trembling from the cold for the first mile and it wasn’t until the 3 mile mark that my hands felt warm, but, I was running a race in NYC and somehow that made it ok. My favorite parts were when we were on the east side of the park with views of the Guggenheim and the Met, the area at the northernmost part of the park and all of the daffodils and flowering trees in bloom. It was spring in NYC!
The hills of the park didn’t register too much on my radar, but my pace was slow and comfortable, except for that last mile which felt like 5 miles. I didn’t have much kick left to finish strong, but I managed to get across the line in 2:23:09 with a bathroom break and multiple water stops. I was in the top half of my age group and that satisfies me. After the race I wrapped up in my first foil blanket and caught a train back to the hotel for a gloriously hot shower. Next race: The Seneca 7, a 77 mile team relay in the Finger Lakes. Let’s hope for a sunny day!
*although not as raw and blustery as this year’s Boston Marathon. Man, those runners are warriors!
Earlier this month, my oldest son and I went to the city and got us some culture. It began with a cheap (less than $120 for the night) hotel way downtown, which became an afternoon performance at the Met, a Downton Abbey exhibit and visit to the super cool oculus. Our time in NYC coincided with some of the coldest weather of the year (decade?) and we were lucky enough to have some surprisingly good options for dinner nearby in an area that has not always been known for evening dining options. On a friend’s recommendation we decided to give the just-around-the-corner Dead Rabbit try. Here’s how it went…
First of all, I had no idea that this place was so highly regarded. How highly regarded is it? Well, it was dubbed the Best Bar in the WORLD in 2016!
Reading the various reviews on Yelp and Tripadvisor also informed me that the space is divided into 3 floors with the middle and upstairs floors requiring entry from a staff member. While the first floor Taproom would have sufficed had I been on a date (as it seemed that many of the pairs surrounding us were), the second floor Parlor was where I set my sights. I had gotten the impression that it might have a bit more elbow room than was available downstairs. I requested seating on the second floor and within 15 minutes, and about midway through my delicious warm Clontarf punch, we were ushered to two seats at the cocktail bar in the Parlor.
My immediate impression? There was so much to check out! Interesting looking people, walls covered in memorabilia, along with an impressive array of small bottles containing various cocktail ingredients provided a visual feast. We were presented with the current cocktail list – a graphic novel telling the story of original Irish gangsters with drinks inspired by their exploits, and adorable little teacups of a special punch. I drank them both since my son is 20 for another 6 weeks and I’m not one to waste good alcohol. The small food menu provided options that were well matched with the frigid weather and overall classic vibe and we selected the fish & chips for my son and the chicken pot pie for me and settled in at the bar. The lighting, music and warmth of the space combined to make a very comfortable spot to spend a couple of hours – at least for me. Liam’s stay was a bit more brief.
Our meals were served piping hot and appropriately portioned for the price. My son polished off his plate completely, while I couldn’t quite manage my entire meal opting instead to sample another concoction created by the friendly and professional bar staff. Not finding exactly what I wanted on their list, I requested a bourbon cocktail with a Manhattan-esque flair and was rewarded with a beautifully balanced drink that was precisely what I was seeking. This is a terrific spot despite all the hype that surrounds it. Check it out!
Filed under art, Boys, Dinner, drinking, Irish, Music, NYC, Observations, Recommendations, Restaurants, road trips, winter
I don’t remember what made me buy the first one. Despite my mother’s German origins, it wasn’t as if fruit cake was part of my holiday traditions. As a matter of fact, I had distinct and negative memories of an episode involving fruitcakes baked in November, and left to soak in rum until Christmas, and a curious and subsequently drunk puppy that had left my mother pretty damn pissed. Nope, fruitcake didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy. At all.
But, somehow I found myself leaving Rocco’s with a hefty 2lb loaf of something called panettone that seemed to be the perfect addition to my mornings during the holiday season. I happily carried my panettone to Albany. The next morning when I released the bread from its airtight wrapping I was provided with an intense aromatic assault – citrus, anise, unimagined spices…heaven. Since that first time, Christmas feels incomplete without this baked treat and I make it a point to get to the city in December to score one, or four as the case may be.
I’ve learned that there are two traditional varieties – Milanese and Genovese. The first is a taller version, more like a crown, light and studded with dried fruit. The Genovese is lower, wider and has the addition of anise and pignoli making for a more earthy, denser taste. I like them equally, toasted and slathered with unsalted butter.
My Rome connection (grazie, Alex!) has gifted me with an imported loaf for the last two years. I haven’t yet opened this year’s special panettone, but I’m eager to see how it compares to my beloved Rocco’s version. I noted that by appearance, it looks to be a Milanese version which should be the perfect way to come full circle in my panettone season. Six pounds of panettone later, that is.
Have you had panettone? This article in the NYT gives some excellent information about this special bread, yet doesn’t provide a recipe for baking your own. It seems to be quite complicated, by I’m putting panettone baking on my bucket list. Until I have time to devote to learning how to make it myself, I’m content to travel to NYC for a fix because at this point, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without it. How about you? What baked goods define this season for you?
The sky was cloudless, the bluest of blues and, in the days following Tuesday, September 11, 2001, silent as if it too were in shock from what it had witnessed.
The highways were orderly as generators were pulled behind tractor trailers headed south to provide light for those searching for survivors.
Drivers were patient and kind, waving one another thoughtfully into the flow of traffic.
My oldest son asked why the buildings kept falling down and I had no words to explain how our world could be filled with so much intolerance and hatred.
Our country, out of the ashes of tragedy, became the finest version of it that I’ve ever witnessed.
It will always be, for me, the divider between before and after.