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Processing

I’ve been on a Rolling Stones kick recently. Maybe it was that tribute band I went to see a couple of weeks ago at The Hangar. I listened to them all the way on my run today from home to Troy, where I met my neighbor at event and caught a ride home. It wasn’t the easiest run I‘ve ever taken and parts of the route were new and a little unnerving to me, but I don’t regret a step of it. It was a gift to be outdoors with the air on my skin and every scent encountered along the river pleasant.

I ran in South Troy for the first time, which was kind of cool since I had made a brief cameo just yesterday at my friend Mary’s birthday. You know, Mary Panza from South f’n Troy. She’s my oldest upstate friend and I was thrilled to attend her celebration yesterday and to give her a gift. Not just “a gift,” but the most perfect gift – one I had seen at Elissa Halloran’s and immediately knew it she belonged with Mary. 

Giving Mary to Mary was the perfect demonstration of how much more joyous it is to give than to receive. That is a true gift.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and it’s caused me to struggle with writing a bit. I’ve been purposefully keeping myself busy – attending events like Champagne on the Park and working extra nights, such as last Wednesday at the annual Troy Arts Center Gala. But, today, there was that run from Albany to Troy which gave me a long time to think things through and I believe I’m getting closer to being unstuck. At least for now.

Life is so unpredictable. Who really knows what’s next? With things in such a state of flux, is it even worthwhile to try to figure it the fuck out? Just keep running…

I’ve been examining how I’ve grown from situations I’ve faced, and have to admit that I just don’t yet have the necessary perspective to understand exactly what happened. I know I’ve changed and learned new things, but haven’t yet determined at what cost.

Taking the time to process stuff is critical. It’s comparable, I think, to pain management. You have to be aware of it, understand that you can’t hide from it and stay on top of it before it has a chance to overwhelm you. Eventually, though, you need to move forward with what comes next. This song just might help you with that.

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, birthdays, Exercise, favorites, friends, musings, Observations, relationships, running, sunday, Troy, Uncategorized

Mother’s Day moments, 2018

My posse

We’re not really big on Hallmark holidays, but I do indulge in playing the Mother’s Day card once a year. This year I was informed that I could say “but, it’s Mother’s Day” a total of only ten times before the phrase would lose its power to motivate my sons to do something for me. I think I got to number 8 on that before calling it a night. It was a good day weekend. Some highlights:

  • Arriving at home, after walking from work on Lark Street, to find one of my sons beginning to tackle the sink full of dishes left by his brothers.
  • Leisurely reading the NYT and TU at the dining room table while listening to the Spotify station of my choice.
  • Pancakes with strawberries, even if I had to make them myself.
  • A lovely gift. 
  • A few chores crossed off the list.
  • Throwing the ball around with my dog-son.
  • Catnapping on my deck in the sun.
  • Running 7+ miles with my Luna B*tch, Chrissy.
  • A little time spent in Washington Park with the tulips and lilacs.
  • Dinner with all 3 of my sons (sort of, one was working) at one of my favorite Albany spots, Cafe Capriccio.

    Of course I got the eggplant. 

  • Wrapping up the weekend by extending it to Monday with some satisfying yard work and a long phone call to one of my favorite moms.

    Isn’t mulch like magic?

I hope all you other Moms enjoyed your weekends as well.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Boys, Dinner, family, favorites, Flowers, Gardens, holidays, Local, moms, Restaurants, running, Spring, sunday, Uncategorized

Restaurant Navona

Last night my guys and I had dinner to celebrate middle son’s birthday. His birthday was actually on Monday, but he requested a Tuesday dinner because he felt that he would have more options from which to choose since many places are closed Mondays. This is what happens when you raise foodie kids.

We arrived on time for our 6:30 reservation and were seated after a couple of confusing moments. I’ve only been to Restaurant Navona on one other occasion and last night there seemed to be an event taking place which made it less than clear to me who to approach for seating. Once seated we were given menus, followed by water a few minutes later.

We were all hungry and made quick work of the menus selecting 3 starters followed by 4 main courses. Our server was very capable, but it seemed that she had quite a few tables and placing our order wasn’t accomplished until almost 7:00. We weren’t served bread or the glass of wine I had ordered for what felt like a long time, with the wine barely beating the appetizers to the table and the bread served after we were midway through our first course.

The prosecco I ordered was very sweet making me think I had perhaps been poured the asti spumante rather than what I requested. I drank it anyway. You would have too had you been out with my crew, believe me. Our first course was nicely presented and delicious. The evening’s special of grilled octopus served with beans, fennel and capers was perfectly cooked and tender. My Caesar salad was generously portioned and the bruschetta presentation was unique with the fresh ricotta, peperonata and tomatoes each being served on the side of a stack of very thinly sliced, crisp bread. The bread service was great – warm and oily focaccia with a smear of fresh ricotta and olive oil on the plate. It may have been the best focaccia I’ve had since I visited Genoa more than 20 years ago. I’d happily go back to Navona just to order that again.

Our main course followed very quickly behind our appetizers. The birthday boy had the pork chop, one of the night’s specials, which was accompanied by creamy spinach and roasted potato coins which he found lacking in salt, but I found perfect. The chop itself was beautifully cooked and of high quality but we both agreed that the spice rub was more a detraction than an embellishment.

My oldest son went with the evening’s fish special – roasted cod, faro, and greens. This was a simple dish and the quality of the ingredients and the skill in preparation was evident. My youngest had the Navona pizza with sweet Italian sausage added and he was quite pleased with his choice. The large dinner plate sized pizza was thin crusted with tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil. We all sampled it and agreed that it was a really nice pizza.

I had the gnocchi de pepi which was a risk knowing that it would never reach the level of the cacio e pepe that I fell in love with when I was in Rome. This preparation had the addition of “crispy artichoke hearts,” which I thought were unnecessary to the dish. (Also, they weren’t crispy by any stretch of the imagination.) I would have happily seen them replaced with more cheese and black pepper to suit my own personal taste. I ate about half of the dish, saving room for dessert and today’s lunch.

We finished with two orders of the carrot cake and a coconut cream tart. The carrot cake was an individual-sized loaf with plenty of piped frosting and praline pecans on the side and it was really outstanding. The tart was also very good, but didn’t quite reach the level of the one at Mio Posto although the crust was excellent. Desserts were served on rectangular slate “plates,” a choice we found to be consistent with some of the other unique decorative touches such as the plethora of clocks and pottery scattered about the restaurant. It seemed a little overdecorated to us, but we’re simple people.

Overall, we were impressed with the food, but would have preferred a bit more attention in terms of service. The table where we were seated was less than ideal with lots of traffic continually going back and forth. I think I’d be inclined to return for a bite at the bar or perhaps a table less in the middle of things. The food really was delicious, though, and judging from the crowd that was there last night, they’re doing well and I couldn’t be happier for them.

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Filed under Albany, birthdays, Boys, Dinner, Eating, family, Food, Local, Restaurants, Spring

Questions about a well-lived life

How many times a week do you conclude that your day was one that felt as if you had lived it well? Once? Twice? Maybe more than that?

How do you personally define a day as “well-lived?” Is it measurable in some way? Is there a consistency in the components that come together to combine in a fashion that would satisfy your own criteria for well-lived?

I’ve been struggling. As a person with a pretty firm idea of how long life is (not long enough), my ability to tolerate accept witness loved ones who can’t seem to recognize and embrace the simple joys, daily miracles and random accomplishments that are present in most of our lives, is limited. Sometimes I just need to separate myself from people who do not appreciate the time they’ve been given.

How do I define a well-lived day? I’ll give you an example – on Saturday I raked up the backyard and filled three bags with leaves and yard debris, swept the deck and finally tossed a bunch of cracked flower pots, roasted some vegetables, took care of a few chores inside the house, played ball with Jeter, prepared and ate dinner with my family, went to work and took care of my guests with as much attention and competence as possible, came home and wound down with an episode of some HGTV show and a little ice cream and was in bed by midnight. To me, that felt like a day well-lived.

Was it exciting? Not particularly. Did I change the world? No, but my yard looks so much better and my deck is ready for sunshine and the plants I pre-ordered from my neighborhood association. Were there moments when I felt stressed or even melancholy? Of course, but my appreciation for the physical strength I possess which enables me to do outdoor and indoor maintenance overshadowed those instances. Would I have liked to simply remain at home or have gone out to socialize rather than go to work? Sure, but I do value the extra income and it provides me with the means to travel, something I absolutely love to do. Plus, I’m not great at going out solo. Believe it or not, I can be a little shy in social situations.

What made the day well-lived, to me, was the sense that I made good use of my time. It wasn’t even necessarily what I did with my minutes and hours, it’s what I didn’t do – I didn’t squander them or spend them doing things that didn’t give me satisfaction. The day in many ways was spent cultivating happiness – it makes me happy to have a tidy yard and a clean house and a fridge stocked with good food and guests who have enjoyed their own evening out because of, in part, my efforts. It was a good day.

How was your weekend? Did you live it well?

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Rise

I’ll never claim to be devoutly religious, but there are things about Catholicism that ring true for me. Over the years I’ve learned to absorb the lessons of my religion in which I find meaning and reject the tenets which I find to be contrary and, while I don’t imagine myself to be a poster child for Catholicism, I do believe I represent some of the finer parts of the religion I was born into.

Easter, the most holy of holidays, has become one of my favorite Sundays. I think my fondness for the day has evolved over the years as I’ve celebrated the day with family, both in Ireland and in Germany. Witnessing the traditions of my religion, in the countries where my family continues to live, provided me with a perspective I may not have had otherwise. It’s taught me a few things, too.

  • Making the effort to put on your good clothes is an exercise in both pride and respect.
  • Believing in miracles can lift the heart and move boulders.
  • There is a season for rebirth and it comes every year. Honor it.
  • Looking for sweetness is an effort that can really pay off.
  • Attending a mass being conducted in a language that is not your own causes one to hear with one’s heart, rather than one’s ears. You don’t really have to leave the country to do that.
  • Flowers provide the most simple of joys.
  • We each have the ability to rise. Believe it.

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Filed under Europe, family, Flowers, Germany, holidays, Ireland, love, musings, Observations, Spring, sunday

21

This summer when I travel to Europe, it will be, I think, the 21st time I’ve crossed the Atlantic, which boggles my brain. What’s most remarkable, though, isn’t that I’ve been lucky enough to travel so often, it’s the fact that the next trip I will be taking will be with my now 21 year-old son. Oh! And it’s pretty much exactly 21 years since the very first time I took him to Europe.

I was running tonight and thinking about all of the places I’ve seen and all of the things I’ve learned since I began to travel, since I became a parent. For instance, I’ve learned there’s no better way to explore a new place than tying on sneakers and hitting the streets. Being strong and healthy are things I don’t take for granted and life has taught me that muscles, including the heart, need to be used.

The very first time in a new place, for me, is a consistent combination of exciting, overwhelming and mildly annoying. Parenthood can probably be described in a similar fashion. Getting oriented, making connections and finding the means to achieve a sense of competence takes some time. Again, particularly if we’re feeling optimistic, we could probably describe parenthood similarly.

When I went to London in 1988 with my brand new passport, my baggage was the heaviest among all of my friends. The excessive size of my luggage embarrassed me and caused me consider the discomfort of being responsible for a big, heavy bag. I don’t travel like that anymore. I no longer am willing to be responsible for carrying anything that is extraneous.

On our first trip together, Liam was about 5 months old. I remember organizing the transportation to the airport – a shuttle bus that made one stop in Kingston before heading to JFK, and climbing on board with my baby, luggage and breast pump without a moment’s hesitation. We landed in Dublin, got into a rental car and immediately drove west across the country to meet a friend who had decided to join us on our adventure and would be arriving the next day in Shannon. I had no reluctance or fear. It’s a big world and I was (and remain) convinced that my job as a parent was to introduce my children to as much of it as possible.

This summer Liam and I plan to visit 4 cities in 3 countries. It will be his 8th trip to Europe, something I’m kind of proud of considering my own travel abroad experiences didn’t begin until I was older than he is now. I know there will be moments when I feel stressed by the challenges involved with navigating an unknown city or transit system, but Liam has developed a great sense of direction and understanding of maps and he will be a big help. We’ll stretch our legs, figure out how to get to where we want to be, carry with us only what we need and do our best to learn by witnessing how other people live. I’m already getting excited.

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Filed under Boys, Europe, family, musings, Observations, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

A few brief thoughts early in a short month

  • Everyone should have footwear that makes them feel like a rockstar.  
  • And friends who remind them how special they are.
  • Seeing my children express their interests is the best part of parenting for me.
  • My excitement for travel remains undiminished.
  • February 2018 is the month in which one of my sons becomes an “adult” and the other becomes a teen. In theory at least.
  • Packing for a trip challenges me in a way that I enjoy. The measure of success for me is wearing every thing I’ve packed.
  • I believe there’s little in life that can’t be improved by fresh air, exercise and water.
  • Fresh flowers in my house are an indulgence that I never imagined being able to afford. PS most of my bouquets come from the grocery store or my own garden.  
  • The days are getting longer, a fact which makes both cross-country skiers and folks who don’t like winter happy.
  • I try to avoid scheduling much on Sundays, but don’t truly relax until the sheets are changed and the papers are read.  
  • In my retirement I want to explore yeast and dough. I love the smell, the magic and the kneading. Until then, it’s quickbreads and whisking.  
  • Long runs are Sunday are never the same but always appreciated.

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