3 friends, 2 cities, 1 lucky human – part 2

On Sunday, it was time to head north of Albany with two vintage friends for a little time in Saratoga Springs. We were at our hotel by noon, parked the car and took off on foot to explore Broadway and all it offers. The Holiday Inn where we stayed was super convenient to Congress Park and we again had dreamy weather. We allowed ourselves to be entertained by the ducklings for a bit as we strolled into town, feeling zero urgency to do anything. Saratoga was hopping and filled with tourists and we thoroughly enjoyed window shopping, sussing out a place for dinner and picking places to stop in on Monday, not wanting to deal with shopping bags and dressing rooms on such a blazingly beautiful day.

Lunch was takeout from Putnam Market, a variety of salads and a lemon bar to share, which we took to a shady bench in the park. At that point I was totally ready for a siesta, but we reinterpreted that as some chill time by the hotel pool. We lucked out and achieved bliss with a quick dip or two alternated with stretching out on a chaise in the sun. Refreshed, we took a long walk into and around Saratoga State Park and I realized how well I’ve come to know that piece of land in my time upstate. It was fun to show it off.

Dinner was at Forno Bistro, coincidentally this week’s restaurant review in the Times Union. Before dinner, though, we were compelled to have a cocktail on the veranda at Salt & Char. I completely enjoyed my very first Moscow Mule, essentially dubbing this my official cocktail of Summer, 2017. After our drinks and a lot of giggles, we went to Forno and had a positive dinner experience, made even more exceptional by my being greeted by a former student, who was dining, with an enthusiastic “Hi, Silvia!” We shared a couple of antipasti, a pasta and a pizza and left satiated. It was too nice to go directly “home,” so we took a walk around Caroline Street and found ourselves at Ben & Jerry’s where I stepped out of my comfort zone of Cherry Garcia and Coffee Buzz Buzz and tried Coconut Seven Layer Bar instead. It was a great way to end the night.

Our first stop Monday morning was Mrs. London’s where my friends experienced their first almond croissants. These are no joke and since we were early (9:00), we had the place nearly to ourselves and were able to enjoy our cafe au laits in a most leisurely fashion. We timed things perfectly and, fully caffeinated, we got some quality shopping in. At our first stop, Violet, we were presented with the opportunity to purchase a coupon book filled with special offers from local businesses. From an initial $15 investment, I saved more than $40 which made this a really good buy. The shopping was pretty epic and I cleaned up with 4 dresses, a skirt and a super cute pair of cropped Hudson jeans. After what feels like months and months of exclusively online shopping because of my schedule, boutique shopping felt like a real luxury.

Who am I kidding? It’s all such a luxury. To have the friends, time and money to make quick getaways like these possible is an indulgence that I’ll never take for granted. That’s why I’m one lucky lady.

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Filed under drinking, Eating, favorites, friends, Local, Recommendations, road trips, Saratoga, SPAC, Summer, upstate New York

3 friends, 2 cities, 1 lucky human – part 1

This first week of summer vacation has been nonstop fun and shenanigans. I’m not sure I could maintain the pace for 9 more weeks, but I’ve really enjoyed starting my summer in gangbuster fashion.

A little bit of everything!

The U2 show gave me the perfect opportunity to spend some time in my most favorite city, NYC. I swapped some Amex points for Amtrak credit and indulged myself with a round trip ticket to Penn, arriving early enough in the city to leisurely walk to my hotel on 8th and 52nd. Once I dumped my overnight bag, the day was mine until Chrissy’s arrival in the later afternoon. The weather was ideal – sunny, blue skies, low humidity, truly the dream. I treated myself to a pedicure and manicure and then hit up a deli salad bar for a cheap and tasty lunch, which I enjoyed al fresco in Central Park.

The remainder of Wednesday was totally U2-centric. It ended up being a late night, but by 10:00 Thursday morning, we were on our sneakered feet running in Central Park. Again, the temperature was a dream and we wove our way around the park for nearly 7 miles including a lap around the reservoir and a quick stop at the castle.

Tree at the castle in Central Park

Following our run we cleaned up, checked out and enjoyed a terrific Indian lunch on 9th Avenue. I wanted something fairly light and they cobbled together a samosa chat dish for me that wasn’t on the menu. Following lunch and some walking around, Chrissy headed north on her train and, since I was on a later train, I headed south on foot. I hit up my favorite haunts, picked up the necessary tariff to get back home (cookies from Rocco’s for the boys), and took in the vibe in Washington Square Park, before catching my own train to Albany. Great getaway.

WSP selfie

 

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Filed under Exercise, favorites, friends, NYC, road trips, running, Summer

Define “next business day,” Trustco

Looking over the business checking account the other day, I noticed something weird. Apparently, I’d been dinged with a $36 insufficient funds charge. I was more than a little surprised since the charge was levied on Tuesday, June 20 and I had deposited a substantial certified check, via the ATM, on 6/17.

I find myself using the ATM quite a bit these days. It’s like banking on your own hours and it’s really convenient. When I made that particular deposit, the slip I received quite clearly said “deposit posts on 6/19.” When I followed up with the branch, I was given an explanation that kind of feels like bullshit, but maybe you can help me understand?

Here’s what I was told: the ATM clearly says that deposits post on the next business day. Now, if I made a deposit on Saturday the 17th, in my mind the next business day is Monday the 19th. Well, that’s not how Trustco (and maybe every other bank in the universe) sees things. Saturday’s transactions actually get credited on Tuesday. So, even though the slip says “deposit posts on 6/19,” they meant 6/20, which is the day that the bank elected to charge $36 prior to crediting that $10,000+ deposit.

Is it really any wonder that people seem to be moving to credit unions?

Ultimately, I was able to have the charge reversed, but I didn’t like feeling as if Trustco was doing me a favor. In fact, I kind of think I’m doing them a favor with my 5 accounts and mortgage.

Banks need to start making sense.

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Filed under Local, musings, Random, Rant, Uncategorized

Seeing the whole of the moon – U2 at MetLife

Note the vintage baseball jersey.

I’ve seen U2 a half dozen times, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for a show as I was last Wednesday. Every single thing aligned to make for a perfect night – the weather was phenomenal, the company was sublime and our seats exceeded my expectations. The foundation was all in place and Bono and the boys stepped up and provided yet another musical experience to treasure. Unbelievable.

The last U2 show I attended was in Montreal. My middle son and I drove up and had a great night. As had been my previous experiences, the show was fantastic and I was so happy that I had made the effort to get there. While I didn’t imagine it as my last U2 show, it seemed that that was what it would be. After that tour, Bono had a cycling accident that did some damage and then the Edge fell off the stage at the beginning of their next tour. Having no interest in seeing a broken down band, I figured I was done. Until they announced the 30th anniversary tour of the Joshua Tree, that is. Game on.

The Joshua Tree is my favorite all-time album. I fell in love with it during my very first heartbreak. I had gone to the desert to escape and my jet-lagged body walked the streets of Palm Springs with my headphones in place and Walkman in hand. It was magical. I’ve never heard that record without feeling a tide of emotion and the opportunity to see it performed was undeniable. I re-upped my fan club membership and dropped a bunch of money for tickets.

The Lumineers opened and were just fantastic. Our seats were directly across from the stage and the sound was incredible. The temperature was ideal and the tequila buzz was delicious. All systems were go. The message of the night began with a huge display of rolling poems, sobering and inspirational all at once. The huge speakers started to crank out the Waterboy’s The Whole of the Moon and a piece of my mind was blown away. Unimaginable joy.

When the band came out is was, as always for me, like church with the Pope officiating. I feel their music in every part of my physical body. Without question, I am Irish and flawed and optimistic and sad and filled with compassion and hope. There’s no other way to describe it. My favorite songs of the night were the ones I’ve never heard live before – Red Hill Mining Town and One Tree Hill with another nugget, Running to Stand Still, that is my ultimate favorite U2 song. So tasty, so mind blowing.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again, but I’ll never forget the times that I have. I hope everyone reading this has been fortunate enough to connect and be moved by music or art or some other undeniable external force. It’s magic. It’s what makes life glorious.

Setlist here.

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Filed under concerts, Events, favorites, friends, Irish, Music, road trips, Summer, Uncategorized

Reasons to rejoice

Never in my life have I ever used the word “rejoice,” other than as a Christmas carol or hymn lyric. It hasn’t been in my vocabulary. Yet, when I stepped into the shower yesterday and the water temperature was ideal, when my skin, which had been completely drenched in sweat during a 75 minute hot yoga class then cooled to a chilly dry in the fresh air, practically sighed in bliss, it was the first word that flew to my lips: rejoice.

I started thinking of all things that have recently created a response in me that can only be expressed with that word, rejoice, and realized again what a wonderful life I have. Here are a few of the experiences and impressions that have moved me just this June.

  • The rain that fell during Sunday’s run. It was the perfect density, starting as a haphazard spit growing to a steady, light drizzle. Exactly what I needed to propel me forward.
  • Two moments at my son’s commencement. The first when my youngest son expressed that he identified with the tall graduate who walked on to the stage to accept his history award. “There’s me,” he said. Goal set. The second, when the young woman, whose situation I know nothing of other than she typically doesn’t seem to walk, walked across the stage with support at each elbow, to receive her diploma. Her accomplishment earned the day’s loudest applause. Humanity affirming.
  • The smell of fresh strawberries, basil and tomatoes.
  • Watching the photos from my phone load into my iTunes like a slideshow of my life and being blown away by all the smiling faces, scenery and memories.
  • Listening to the birds chirp their appreciation for being fed.

Maybe I’m simple for finding so much joy in such seemingly trivial places. That’s ok. I like feeling simply happy.

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Filed under beauty, Boys, Exercise, favorites, love, musings, Observations, Uncategorized

Turn the page

As of 4:55 on a Wednesday in June, I no longer belong to the ranks of business owner – and it feels great. The transaction was as low-key and undramatic as are all of the involved parties. The deal was put together without realtor representation and the terms were easily agreed upon with minimal negotiation. I walked out of the attorney’s office downtown positively elated.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been moments in the past few months when I had twinges of regret and times when I had to fight against a feeling of having failed. Maybe if I had done X or Y differently, perhaps I needed to stick it out longer or make dramatic changes to achieve the level of success necessary to make remaining in business an appealing prospect. Ultimately though, I know this was the right move. I can return to what I do best and enjoy most – providing hospitality. Later, for you Quickbooks and Paychex. We’re officially over.

The experience of owning a business has been life changing. I tried something I never imagined doing. I stretched myself thinner than ever before and did not allow myself to get broken. It was more than, as I overheard one of my former employees say, “that old cliche, a waitress who thinks she can be an owner.” See, unlike the person who uttered that statement, I could be an owner. It just didn’t bring me joy and joy, not money, not ego, is the currency of my life.

I’m so excited to witness the success of Mio Posto and to play even a small part in that goal. I’ve worked a couple of nights already and Danny’s food is exactly at the level that I knew it would be – creative, high quality and composed with passion and professionalism. It’s wonderful. I wasn’t certain how it would feel to be “just” an employee, but I’m really happy to fill that role and to realize that my pride comes from providing guests with a memorable dining experience, not from signing paychecks.

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Observations, Restaurants

Fear of travel

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I had a conversation recently with a woman a bit older than I. She was retiring from a job she had held for 15 or 20 years, a job she had done very well for all of those years. It hadn’t paid her much, but her true calling had been motherhood and she had only taken the job after her children were well on their way to being grown.

Now that retirement was imminent, we talked about what she would do with her time. The topic of travel came up and she expressed how uncomfortable she was about going somewhere she’d never been before without the company of someone who had traveled previously to wherever that destination might be. I nodded as the words bounced around in my head…thinking…wait! How in the world do you ever go somewhere new? Are you saying you’re afraid to ever leave home? How does a competent, intelligent woman allow fear to limit her horizons?

International terrorist attacks are happening with increasing frequency. We’ve all seen it – there’s truly no safe place. Church, work, markets, concert venues, airports, train stations, all have witnessed the deaths of innocent people around our world. I’m not even including the tremendous losses we’ve suffered in the U.S. to gun violence – in schools, night clubs and office buildings. The world is a dangerous place.

There are things that scare me, too. I hate to fly because the more often I do it, the greater I think the odds are for a bad outcome. I don’t like heights or crowds and there are places I’d be hesitant to go to without the company of someone native, like Turkey or Indonesia. But, the world is also a remarkably beautiful place filled with people from whom we can learn. Visiting new places, observing customs and absorbing history and culture are one of life’s greatest gifts. It enriches us beyond any other experience, in my opinion, and I dedicate a lot of my expendable income on collecting memories in new locales. It’s money well spent.

Diminishing our lives as we seek to preserve them seems counter productive to me. If something ever happens to me when I’m traveling, reread this post and know that I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way. I’m way more afraid of not seeing everything possible than I am of dying while trying.

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Filed under aging, beauty, musings, road trips, travel