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#solotravel

I’m cozy in my Rome AirBandB with a glass (or 2) of wine and vague plan of taking a hot shower and heading out for dinner. I think I’m going back to the same place I enjoyed last night because I must have the cacao e pepe there. It wasn’t possible to fit it in my belly last night, but, tonight there’s room after a day of walking without a stop for lunch. I mean, if you don’t count gelato as a legitimate meal, that is.

It’s been a wonderful few days – actually I can’t believe I’ve already been in Italy for 5 days. It doesn’t seem possible. My pace has been mostly leisurely, but the days have passed quickly and I’m hyper focused on how many more meals I get to indulge in before I head home. Not enough.

When you travel by yourself, hours may pass with the only conversation you have is with yourself. Getting “lost” means nothing because there’s no place you really need to be. Taking a left instead of a right is ok. Eventually you’ll find your way to where it is you want to be. Yesterday, in Pompeii, I stood in the same spot for more than 10 minutes waiting for the clouds to offer me a peek at Vesuvius. I felt no haste, only gratitude for the luxury of time of my own.

Coming to Italy solo was a big leap. Of course, traveling to what feels like the most romantic city in the world would be lovely with a partner, but to not come alone would be a disservice to myself. Not experiencing this beautiful country, or the world at large, would be regrettable in a way that I’m not willing to know. Time to go shower. It’s almost my dinner time.

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Filed under beauty, Dinner, Eating, Europe, Food, Italy, Observations, Restaurants, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

Valentine’s Day massacre – sponsored by the NRA

mw_template_2017Last night’s run took me along a route I don’t often get to experience on foot. I had plans to meet a friend down at Nine-Pin for Fin’s pop up, (and knew that stretching my legs before my upcoming flight would be beneficial), so I decided a downhill run to the Warehouse District would check all the boxes. The weather, while damp, was refreshingly mild when I set off and my route to Broadway evolved as I made my way to the reward of a ginger cider and lobster mac and cheese.

I took State Street down to Washington Avenue, admiring the architecture and feeling appreciative to live in a city that is filled with beautiful buildings and parks. My mood was good and my body felt strong. I was happy until I noticed the flags flying at half-mast on numerous buildings. I mentally paused to consider what the occasion might be for the flags to have been lowered, quickly concluding that it must be an acknowledgement of the latest school massacre. I wonder whose job that is, to raise and lower flags each time American students are murdered in their classrooms. I expect that their arms must be pretty damn tired.

This morning, as I got ready to leave my house for work, the list of names of the most recent victims were read on the radio and I was compelled to stop what I was doing to listen. Their ages gutted me – many were just 14 or 15 years old. What was your biggest worry when you were that age? Zits? Making your school’s sports team or landing a role in the spring musical? Maybe an upcoming test or project? I think it’s safe to say it wasn’t concern over whether a classmate armed with a semi-automatic weapon would be shooting up your school that day.

Why are our elected officials ok with students being murdered while at school? I mean, they must find it acceptable, right? They continue to accept money from gun proponents and refuse to consider legislation that might prevent these sort of things from happening again and again and again. Doesn’t that make them complicit? I’ll answer that myself – Yes, our government is responsible for creating a situation in which civilians can purchase and possess firearms which can be used to perpetrate crimes like what we’ve witnessed time and time again in our country. They should held accountable in every way possible – sue them, vote them out, spread the word about how people like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are beholden to the NRA.

Our children are not replaceable but every single one of these f*ckers who choose dollars over public safety are disposable. Let’s stop memorializing teenagers with stars and stripes and start ensuring that children who go to school in the morning return home in the afternoon on a bus and not in a body bag.

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Filed under Local, News, Observations, politics, Rant, Schools, Uncategorized

Getting run over by The 57 Bus

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Many of the books I read are written for young adults. These include lots of realistic fiction, some fantasy and adventure titles, as well as the occasional nonfiction title. A new box of books arrived the other day in my library – something which still excites even after more than two decades on the job, and I helped myself to a couple of new titles, including The 57 Bus a nonfiction book by Dashka Slater.

You know when you’re reading a book and you find yourself thinking and even talking about it? Well, this is that kind of book. Slater deftly tells the story of two very different teenagers who ride the same city bus for a life changing 8 minutes. She tells the story in brief chapters, a technique I found very effective and one that helps makes the facts related more easily digested. One afternoon on the bus an event occurs during that shared ride which impacts both of their lives, an event which began as a simple prank yet grew to become an incident defined by some as a hate crime.

Oakland, California is a diverse city of 400,000 residents with a wide range of economic levels represented. It has, at times, been cited as the most violent city in America with gangs and guns present in many neighborhoods of the city’s nearly 80 square miles. Oakland was the home of both Sasha and Richard.

Sasha, a teenager who identifies as agender and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s, is an intelligent young person with a supportive family and a solid group of friends They (the pronoun they use for themself) attend an alternative high school, wear garments that are typical for both males and females, and are committed to living a life which feels reflective on the exterior of what they are experiencing on the inside.

Richard is a black teenager being raised by his young mom and stepfather in a stable family in a struggling neighborhood. Although he gets into some legal trouble as a juvenile, he is essentially a typical, unmotivated high school boy in an urban school district. The reckless act Richard commits against Sasha is unspeakably horrific, yet not premeditated or truly intended and he in many ways ends up just as scarred as they do.

Reading about the encounter between Sasha and Richard left me breathless and with an aching heart. This is a powerful story that will stay with readers. Read this.

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Filed under Books, News, Recommendations, Uncategorized

It was a good week

Albany Muni

Stringing seven consecutive positive days together isn’t always easy. For some people it may never happen, which means that those of us fortunate enough to experience good weeks should celebrate them. What makes a good week? It involves finding a balance between all of the various roles we play in life, for me, specifically Mom, friend, worker and player.

Last week, I doubled down on some of my favorite activities and was able to work in two (different studios) yoga classes, two (different routes) runs and two (different golf courses) skis. I went to a party early in the week and saw a cool band Friday night at The Lowbeat. In between there was a good soak in a hot tub, along with some responsible financial and medical decisions and a bit of vacation planning. I worked two solid shifts at Mio Posto and was rewarded for my efforts when a slice of coconut cream pie was plated by accident meaning we got to eat it. That was a sweet way to end my work week.

Colonie Golf Course

Sunday was a great day – not too busy, yet productive without feeling rushed at all. I made waffles for the boys for breakfast and leisurely read the papers. I washed the car and had my nine remaining toe nails attended to with a pedicure. The sheets were changed and laundry was washed, dried and folded leaving the hamper empty for a brief moment. Jeter and I took a fun run down the yellow brick road and through the farm into the back nine at Muni and came home more exhilarated than tired. There were baths for both of us, mine with bath salts and a book, followed by dinner. My mushroom, provolone and ham omelette with a side salad topped with a perfect avocado was delicious, as was the Cherry Garcia ice cream that beautifully punctuated my supper. 

I was in bed by 9:15 and asleep a short time later. I awoke this morning before 5:00 feeling ready for a new week and appreciative for all of the positive and wonderful things present in my life. It may not sound like much, but if you treat the small gifts like large ones you might be amazed by how rich you really are.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Dinner, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, Music, Observations, running, sunday, Uncategorized, x-country skiing, yoga

Guess I’ll have to buy it now

Cars aren’t all that important to me and all I want is to be able count on one to get me from Point A to Point B. I can’t imagine myself ever buying a brand new one because of both the expense and the stress I would feel about preserving the car’s brand newness. I much prefer something that might have a ding or two and some well maintained miles.

My current car is a twelve-year-old Volvo wagon that I bought after my previous Volvo wagon was totaled when I was rear ended at a stop light. I remember calling it my princess car when I first got it because it was such a pretty shade of grey and so very clean. I’ve loved that car (and she has provided me and my family with more than a 100,000 safe miles) but I’ve been thinking that it might be time for something new after almost a decade together.

When I considered what I want in a “new” car the items highest on my wish list are fewer miles and a standard transmission. With this in mind I called my guy, Dave at Precision, and asked him to be on the lookout for a car that I might like. Imagine my delight in learning that he happened to have something on the lot that exactly met my requirements. I arranged to drive it this past weekend to see how it felt.

Beyond the transmission, the car is identical to what I already own – same year, same model. This wagon has a cream colored interior (opposed to the black interior I now have) which would work really well with Jeter’s fur and the car is very clean having had only one previous owner and all maintenance performed by the same shop I’ve used for almost 20 years. There are 30,000 fewer miles on this wagon which equals about 2.5 years of driving in my world, an appealing consideration.

The decision to keep what I have or make a change has been difficult. Right now I own a car that I have carefully maintained and I haven’t had a car payment in more than 4 years. My car has the odd ding, but is essentially clean and I imagine it would continue to provide me with reliable service for years to come. But, the opportunity to buy a standard shift Volvo is pretty rare and the weekend has reminded me that I really do enjoy the physical act of driving, which is kind of funny when you consider the current move to driverless vehicles.

I’ve laid out the dilemma to a number of friends whom I consider to be practical car people and most are of the opinion that I should trade my car in, pay the difference in value/price in cash (which I have on hand), and get myself the car that I want to drive for the 5 years or so.

I was truly conflicted about the decision until Saturday afternoon when I was leaving for work and was met by my new neighbor outside. It seems she had left a post it note on the car because she had hit the front bumper when she was driving on our narrow street. There now is a little scrape (that my neighbor will have addressed) which has caused me to conclude that the important parts of the car are really on the inside – the transmission, the single owner maintained engine and the dog friendly interior and all of those are an improvement over what I currently own.  I just may be starting the year with a new car!

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Filed under Random, Recommendations, Uncategorized

What if none of this makes a difference?

D768FE3C-75A1-413D-854F-1F21D01F49EC.jpegAfter my shower the other night I faced my shelf of moisturizers considering which one (or 2) to use. Did my face feel tight from the water which I can’t help but set to a temperature which I know is too hot? Should I use the intensive night time mask or the nitamins? Must I avoid that area on my chin where I recently had a spot or should I treat that area with a lighter formula? How about my T-zone that tends to be borderline oily? Would toner help?

As I pondered the embarrassing array of lotions and creams and the condition of my skin I was struck by a thought – what if none of it really makes a difference?

Do you ever consider the ingredients contained in your beauty products? I don’t have a chemistry degree so much of it is a foreign language to me, but I know I’d be more comfortable if I actually could read the label with some degree of comprehension. Is slathering my face with chemicals really going to improve my chances of aging gracefully or would I have been better off not introducing my one and only face to a plethora of foreign substances?

I started moisturizing, probably with Avon products, when I was in middle school. I was seriously into fashion and subscribed to Mademoiselle and Glamour and completely bought in to the beauty culture. As I look back with 35 years of skincare experience, I’m left to wonder how my skin would appear had I not ever used commercial moisturizers. Would the lines on my face be the same? More pronounced or less?

I guess I’ll never know the answers to those questions, but undoubtedly I would have minimized my exposure to chemical substances, my expenses and the amount of time I spend pondering which formula to use.

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Filed under aging, beauty, Observations, Random, Uncategorized

What’s new

As a person who considers the first day of the month or week as a clean slate waiting to be filled with my best intentions, you’d think that I’d be all over New Year’s resolutions, but you’d be wrong. Maybe it’s my basic lack of interest in doing what everyone else does. I really don’t like being a cliché, you know? Of course, I do consider how I might improve my navigation through life and a new year certainly provides an excellent opportunity to implement changes. Here’s what I’ve come up with for 2018:

  • Amex for groceries. I know people who pay all their bills with credit cards for the purpose of earning rewards and I’m going to dip my big toe into that pool of potential points. I always pay my balance in full, but have to admit that it feels weird to purchase necessities with a credit card. I’m curious to see how much more quickly I can earn rewards and think it makes sense to try this for a full year as an experiment.
  • I’ve got some new cities in my sights for 2018 and I really couldn’t be more excited. What can you share with me about Rome, Salzburg, Vienna and Prague?
  • Decluttering and simplifying my living space. Do I really need all of the clothing I own? If I’m not using it, do I really need to keep? It seems like life would be more pleasant without as much stuff – contrary to what many believe but an idea I’m hoping to embrace. Maybe this book will help? (Thanks, Lori!)14014A1A-874A-45AD-AE62-CFEE34BD58F4
  • Increasing contributions to my 403B. As a teacher, I’m fortunate to have a clearly defined salary schedule and I appreciate that. Since I’m in the last 10 years of my career it’s time to start upping my contributions to my retirement account. I don’t imagine myself completely giving up working before I’m 60, but I need to make hay while the sun shines and that means socking away as much as I can while I’m still earning a good income.
  • Yoga at least once a week. Mentally, physically and spiritually I need it. And really – how often can one address all of those areas in one place in 75 minutes?

What’s on your list for the new year?

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Filed under aging, Europe, house, ideas, travel, Uncategorized