Declaring independence

imageAs the summer approached I knew it would be unlike many previous years. I skipped Mountain Jam in favor of some necessary downtime, passed my inside seats to DMB at SPAC on to someone else, and resigned myself to not sharing a Cape house with Aloysius for two weeks. It’s a different year, but I’ve learned to roll with things.

I’m probably so ok with the prospect of a new summer because a friend offered me the chance to crash their family vacation in Wellfleet for a few nights. The extra bedroom, complete with twin beds, they had available was the perfect consolation. Not wanting to leave my kids feeling left out, I quietly made plans for 3 nights of adult time with a friend. I was excited by the idea of childless beach time, a real novelty for me.

Unfortunately, a situation arose which prevented my friend from sticking with our plan. After some consideration, I decided to see if perhaps my youngest son might want to skip town with me; it just seemed self indulgent for me to go solo. Call it mom guilt. So, I asked him and… he declined, leaving me feeling guilt free and ready for a little serious downtime.

I’ve never been to the Cape without being tethered to another and my mind is racing at the thought of being able to set my own pace. I’m bringing my bike and hope to ride to the beach, take a couple of runs and wander around Provincetown without a care in the world.  I’m kind of eager for some time away on my own.  Of course, I’ll miss my loved ones but it’s just a couple of days really.  It will be rejuvenating.

I’m thinking of it as (an extended) Independence Day.

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Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, friends, road trips, Uncategorized, vacation

Where the streets have no names, I mean, rules

“Cycling has encountered more enemies than any other form of exercise.”        19th-century author Louis Baudry de Sagnier

imageNow that summer has arrived, I’ve been riding my bicycle to the restaurant a couple of nights a week. I love so much about my less-than-two-mile commute – the fresh air, the exercise, the view, the sense of being more closely connected to the street I live off of and work on…it’s pretty great. Except, of course for the cars. That part kind of sucks.

I’m most afraid of the parked cars I ride past. Does that surprise you? The way I see it, the cars coming from behind me are looking ahead and should be able to see (and avoid) me, but the folks who might be opening their car doors aren’t necessarily checking behind them before they throw their doors open. That’s why they scare me.

A couple of weeks ago I left Lark + Lily, helmet on and rear of my bike red light flashing, and headed home. A few blocks from the restaurant, a woman slowed down as she drove past me and shouted, “You’d better get that bike off the road.” Two blocks later, as we both waited for the red light to change, I retorted, “You’d better get familiar with the law.” My ride didn’t improve.

As we each rode down Delaware Avenue, the “conversation” was ongoing. She continued to yell at me in an attempt to convince me that I wasn’t entitled to ride on the road and I persisted in trying to educate her about traffic laws. Hey, what can I say? I’m a teacher. She finally drove away and I mulled over the wisdom of engaging an ignorant driver. I concluded that it probably wasn’t my finest moment.

Yesterday evening I got some news that confirmed that I should probably refrain from responding to drivers who either do not know or simply refuse to abide by the existing motor vehicle laws. It isn’t my story to tell, but essentially, someone I know was hit by a car while he was commuting home. Intentionally. The driver of the car initiated the interaction by cutting off the cyclist, who astutely snapped a photo of the car and its license plate, and then followed up three blocks later by directly and purposefully hitting him. No joke.  Yes, the driver of the car deliberately drove his vehicle and hit a man who was just riding home.

I think there needs to be some serious intervention and education about cycling in this city before anymore riders get injured or worse.

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Filed under Albany, biking, Exercise, Local, Rant, Summer, Uncategorized

A rave for Crave

I know, I know, I’m late to the game on this place. What can I say? I’ve been busy and since they’re closed Monday nights, I haven’t been able to take advantage of this spot as an easy and quick dinner spot with my guys at the start of a week. Last Saturday, though, the day got away from me with a hair appointment and errands and I found myself approaching hangry and limited on time. I grabbed 2 of my kids and headed over to the corner of Western and Quail for my first Crave experience.

 

Bacon cheeseburger

Bacon cheeseburger

The space is simple and clean with a menu that is equally focused. I needed a burger so I directed my attention to that part of the menu and was quickly taken in by the Black & Blue burger – Gorgonzola, caramelized onions and arugula. I wasn’t feeling blue cheese, so I requested that my burger come medium rare and topped with cheddar. My son went with a bacon cheeseburger and we added a basket of fries to round things off for a total under $25.

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My modified black and blue burger

Service was prompt and our food was delivered quickly and piping hot. My burger was served on a roll so delicious that I broke my “no bun” rule and ate every last carb-y crumb. The beef was cooked perfectly and was remarkably juicy and the onions had obviously been cooked low and slow creating a sweet and succulent layer of deliciousness. It was a fantastic burger. Period. The accompanying fries were equally perfect – fried a little beyond golden, piping hot and salted with a deft hand. I’ve never had better.

imageLiam seemed equally pleased with his burger, but to be honest, there wasn’t a lot of conversation. I was too busy eating.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Eating, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Summer, Uncategorized

Best race of the year – so far!

imageI’ve got a few running goals for this year that involve total miles run and participating in some races which I’ve never done before. I’m a little off my mark for meeting my goal of 1,000 miles in 2016, but hope to make up my deficit over the summer. As far as new to me races, I’m picking up steam on that front and have entered (and finished!) two new events so far this year with 2 or 3 others in my sights. That’s the future though, and at this time, I’m here to talk about the fantastic race I ran in last night – Summer Solstice Run 2016 in beyond beautiful Minnewaska State Park.

It is impossible for me to put my finger on a single thing that made this run so incredible. The Lunar B*tches were all in place which certainly contributed to the utter joy of the run. My body felt strong and the weather was sublime, I’m talking perfect – no humidity, with warm sun and zero bugs. A dream!

The course was made for me with an opening challenge of about 3 miles of climbing. Fresh legs, good friends and a riot of fragrant mountain laurel all around, made this part of the race manageable. Unlike last month’s 7 Sisters race, the hills weren’t relentless and I never felt overwhelmed by anything other than the stupendous views. I loved seeing the number of runners who could not resist the selfie siren call as we crested hills that opened up to reveal breathtaking views of the park.

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There were three water stations along the route and as I approached all of them, (other than the first) I was surprised to find myself already there. The time absolutely flew by me. Each time my running app ticked off another mile, I shook my head in disbelief. Amazingly, it just didn’t feel like a 14K trail race to me and I swear I would have happily run much longer. Knowing that the end was near once I hit the 8 mile mark, I decided to release the hounds a little and increased my pace picking off runners ahead of me gleefully. The last climb made me a bit gaspy, but when I hit the peak and saw a friend, camera at the ready, I committed to a final kick and turned on the speed finishing the race at my fastest pace.

I can’t wait to run there again.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, friends, road trips, running, Summer, Uncategorized, upstate New York

What I know at 49.75, give or take

I’ve got a big birthday coming up at the end of summer…fifty…half a century…the golden anniversary of my birth…the point in my life when I just might have to begin behaving a tad more adult. I think I’m ready.

It could be just me, but these decade birthdays began taking on more significance as I aged and I can remember each of them vividly. At 20, I was on the verge of independence and living completely on my own for the first time. For my 30th birthday, I was married and thrilled to be pregnant with my first child. When I turned 40 I thought I had it all, only to realize that maybe it wasn’t enough. And now, as 50 approaches, I find myself excited to flip a page to a new chapter in my life despite not really knowing what may come next.

I’ve learned so many things during my years alive, yet I’m still not sure what the future holds for me. Is that lack of certainty, that acceptance that what happens tomorrow is eternally a mysterious surprise, a sign of growing up? Maybe.

What do I know now that I didn’t know 10 years ago?

  • I know that I can outrun cancer and the fear of being alone.
  • I know that I can juggle a lot and that, even though I now wear a nightguard because I seem to be grinding my teeth, I am more satisfied with a full life and schedule than with one that lacks challenge and stimulation.
  • I know that there will be days that nearly overwhelm me with minutia and situations which demand immediate and close attention, but I’ve also learned that they pass.
  • I know that I am utterly blessed to have three healthy children and a positive relationship with their father that is based upon our mutual focus on what is best for them.
  • I know that the lines on my face and the grey in my hair are evidence of the length of my life and that I’m lucky to have both of them – and access to quality skincare products and a good colorist.
  • I know that life is about give and take and trying to remain cognizant of the balance between the two.
  • I know that I’m ready for what comes next.

I’m ready, ready for the laughing gas
I’m ready, I’m ready for what’s next
I’m ready to duck, I’m ready to dive
I’m ready to say ‘I’m glad to be alive’ – U2

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Filed under aging, birthdays, family, Random, Uncategorized

The long and short of it

Soccer season is nearly over and, for the first time in a long time, it felt like it went by really fast. That’s probably because I’m guilty for making it to too few games for my son who plays travel, and the rec season is actually fairly short with only 6 or 7 weeks games. Either way, when it’s over I will enjoy my Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings, but they will be lacking in structure without a game to work into the schedule.

imageQuinn’s spring season was memorable because this was the year that he wore a hand me down keeper’s jersey. Liam and I had brought it back from Germany 3 years ago for my middle son. It was still a bit generous in the sleeve length for my 11 year-old but he insisted upon wearing it each game, regardless of temperature. One week, it was close to 85 degrees and still he wore it – underneath his team t-shirt in case he got called up to play keeper. It was the cutest thing ever.

I swear I don’t know how that jersey can be even close to fitting him. I mean, the shirt looked so big three years ago when my boys were three years smaller. Now, only one son is still to grow into it while the other two are already grown beyond. Just like that. *snap*

imageAs I was mulling over this curious case of time passing quickly and folks growing, I reached for a pair of shorts I bought a few years. They’re blue and white gingham, which, I think, epitomizes summer just like madras and pink lemonade. I pulled them on and up, nervous as always that they would no longer fit for one reason or another. They did. Sort of.

Somehow over the last winter, I grew, too. Not taller or wider or heavier, but a wee bit older. Old enough, actually, to now be too old to wear the checked short shorts that still fit me perfectly – other than the length. I felt absolutely exposed in them in a way that made me uncomfortable. Somehow they had grown too young for me – just like that. *snap.*

Growing up and growing older, that’s the long and short of it.

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Filed under aging, Boys, favorites, Observations, soccer, Summer, Uncategorized

What I want to be when I grow up

As I get close to wrapping up my 20th year as a librarian, I’ve been thinking about the future. I’ve always just assumed that I would  invest thirty years in my chosen (and mostly beloved) career, but the last few years have been challenging with ridiculous teacher evaluations handed down by Governor Cuomo State Ed and tight school budgets causing the elimination of positions. It’s been a little disheartening, to be honest, and I think I just might need to have a new plan…

In a little more than five years I will be 55 years old and should have 25 years into the NYS Teacher’s Retirement System. That seems like a substantial amount of time to devote to a profession and I think that may be the perfect threshold to my relationship with teaching. Maybe 30 years isn’t really in the cards for me…

Writing those words caused my stomach to buzz with nerves…and excitement. Walking away from my steady paycheck will be a leap of faith that gets my heart beating a little fast. Mt first response to letting go of financial security is to think about all the reasons why I shouldn’t retire “early.” You know things like the fact that my youngest child will only be 16 years-old with college still to come and my house won’t be quite paid off and I’ll be paying increased out-of-pocket cost related to maintaining the excellent health insurance I presently have. And, really, who knows what the future holds in terms of income from Lark + Lily. Do you think I may actually see some income from this labor of love project?

But, something changed this week, almost as if a coin flipped to the other side and I began considering all the ways my life might improve should I retire in another 5 or 6 years. Instead of focusing on what I may not have available in terms of financial flexibility, I started thinking about the freedom that retirement will offer me. I’ll be able to spend more time with my youngest child. Travel plans can be made based upon when I want to get away rather than dates that are dictated by a school calendar. I’ll have opportunities to pursue other interests – maybe writing, photography or perhaps a position that involves promoting or supporting one of the organizations about which I feel so strongly. I’m feeling recommitted to my teaching job (after summer vacation) and curious to learn what the future may hold in store for me.  I think I’ve got a plan.

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Filed under aging, family, ideas, musings, Uncategorized