Category Archives: stress

W(h)ine List

How I've been feeling.

How I had been feeling.

There have been a few moments in the past week or two when I’ve felt reasonably competent when it comes to keeping all of the necessary balls in the air when it involves Lark + Lily. I’ve moved forward from the preliminary weeks of being a business owner when I felt nearly overwhelmed by the responsibilities I had taken on. It seemed as if nearly every hour of the day was consumed by school followed by errands, meetings and tasks related to the restaurant, capped by evenings on premise. It was mentally, and on a lesser scale, physically exhausting.

I was struggling with balance – and you know how I thrive on cultivating balance. Eating, sleeping and running were becoming distant memories and I wondered when I would achieve some control over my life again. Well, I’m happy to report that I feel as if I’ve moved on from the daily-putting-out-fires stage of entrepreneurship to a more even state of composure. I’m breathing (and sleeping and eating) better.

The Lilly guys and I are creating a new normal with shared dinners each of the nights they spend at my house, even if one of those meals is takeout and another is leftovers. I’m pretty much getting my miles in each week which really helps with my energy level and mental well-being and I’m eating more consistently. It’s all working and I’m beginning to feel as if my life is merely pleasantly full rather than completely drowned by demands. It’s even starting to get kind of fun.

This week I added 8 new labels to my wine list, bringing my total selection to almost 70 labels. I’ve also tweaked some of the wines by the glass and spirits we offer. The list is growing to reflect my palate, while also representing varietals that guests expect to be present on a wine bar’s menu, things which I don’t necessarily gravitate to like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. A couple of my favorite recent picks are a lovely Alsatian Riesling from Rolly Gossman and a bold Zinfandel, Valravn from Sonoma County. Maybe you’ll stop in sometime soon for a taste.

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Filed under Boys, family, Lark Street, Restaurants, stress, Uncategorized, Wine

Mother Mary comes to me

imageStress is a weird thing, don’t you think? I mean the way it presents itself can be so insidious.  During my waking hours, I think I deal with it pretty well – the meltdown the other evening after arriving home after an hour in the dentist’s chair only to find the trash cans still at the curb, the dishwasher filled with the clean dishes and the sink filled with dirty ones, aside.  But, the nights are a different story.  As a matter of fact, the nights are what landed me in the dentist’s chair to begin with.

I’ve been grinding my teeth – intensely enough for me to find myself waking up with headaches. The waking up can be painful, particularly when it occurs at 4:00 a.m. I’ve been doing a number on my teeth and was at the dentist to have a small old filling replaced as well as getting fit for a nighttime mouth guard.  That’s hot, huh?

When I find myself in times of trouble, I do my best to get as much time outdoors as possible.  Fresh air really helps, whether I’m running or walking or even just sitting still. Maybe you do the same?

The other thing I find myself doing is reaching into my jewelry box for a medallion I received many years ago from one of my aunts, Sister Maria Pia.  She’s my mother’s youngest sister and, along with two of my Opa’s now deceased sisters, she is a Roman Catholic nun.  The medallion I wear is of the Virgin Mary and was purchased in Lourdes, France.  While I don’t consider myself to be incredibly religious, there’s something about Mary that I find comforting and inspiring. When she’s around my neck, I somehow feel safer.

Do you have a talisman?

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Filed under musings, stress

(Not) Making decisions is tiring

Mock up of shingle - Laura Glazer and Lori Hansen

Mock up of shingle – Laura Glazer and Lori Hansen

I think it’s easy to believe that making decisions constantly is an exhausting exercise. From the outside it may seem like the choices necessary when starting a business, which are required constantly – what products to buy, who to buy from, where to buy them, would be completely draining. Pillows and paint samples, ingredients and beverages, paper and fonts, menu backs and rubber bands, services and utilities – it is dizzying at times, but, not necessarily  exhausting.

Actually, it’s kind of more elating. With every choice made the individual pieces come together and the big picture starts to become more focused. The decisions feel like definitive steps in the “right” direction. It’s productive and good.


Making decisions in reality, though, it is far less taxing than it is to be continually placed in situations where you are not in charge of making the decisions. Instead, you are in a position where you are being intensely examined and documented and vetted. You’re filling out paper after paper and, if you’re anything like me, wondering why there isn’t a Common App for restaurant supply company credit since every form is pretty much exactly the same. And you wait – for paperwork and phone calls and emails and certificates.

Now that shit is truly exhausting.

But, we’re getting closer every day. When all the necessary paperwork has been printed and mailed and signed, you’ll all know. Keep yours eyes peeled. Lark + Lily is coming.

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

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.


Filed under family, Local, medical, Recommendations, stress

Good news/bad news and a bit of a Grimm tale

The good news? I weighed less than I thought I would when I stepped on the scale. The bad news? I need to see my ENT surgeon post-haste. For the record, I like it better when the good news follows the bad.

I went to see my endocrinologist yesterday. I wasn’t scheduled to see her until January, but there was something about the thing I felt in my neck that made me uncomfortable. I made someone a promise that I would call first thing in the morning and I did. The receptionist was great and took my history after a single run through. A couple of hours later, my doctor phoned and asked if I could be there by 4.

Following our usual chit-chat, my doctor got down to business, dimming the lights and lubing up the ultrasound wand. With her usual thoroughness, she repeatedly scanned the area of my neck where the protuberance was. After a few minutes she asked if she could bring a colleague in for a second opinion. I stared at the ceiling, attempting to escape the room mentally by trying to see what the wattage was on the bulb, but as the second physician took his turn with the magic wand tears slipped from my eyes. The doctors conferred.

Their opinion? It’s either a “bad” lymph node or a chronically inflamed minor salivary gland. (See how I put the bad news first?) The plan now is to see my ENT on Monday and have her determine the appropriate course of action. I’m sure there will be some sort of diagnostics or study conducted. The hope, of course is that it is nothing serious, but my history leaves me feeling vulnerable.

To be clear, I don’t write about my health to garner sympathy or concern. It’s more an exercise in becoming accustomed to the possibility of yet another surgical procedure. It also feels a bit like an exorcism.  If  I express my fears and release them from my inner psyche they kind of lose their power.  Sort of like in that fairy tale when the miller’s daughter shocked Rumpelstiltskin by knowing his name, causing him to run away never to be seen again.  I’ve seen you before and I know your name, Cancer.  How about you stay away and let me have a shot at happily ever after?


Filed under cancer, medical, musings, stress