Tag Archives: observations

Sketches of Spain

imageHave you ever listened to this album by Miles Davis? It’s one of my favorites and sets the mood for so many things – a romantic dinner, a quiet conversation, time alone with your special someone. Add it to your playlist and thank me later, ok?

Now that you’ve got that going, let me share some of my impressions of Spain, or more accurately, Barcelona.

  • The dogs here are rarely on leashes, although their owners always seem to have one slung over their shoulders. The dogs are very well behaved and never run into the street or approach strangers even when a stranger is missing their own dog and more than willing to give a pat.
  • Fashion observations: women wear tights and stockings far more than at home.  They also rock tight, little leather jackets, while people of all ages have those super light down jackets in a rainbow of colors. Happily, I haven’t seen a single pair of Uggs.
  • Far too many people smoke cigarettes, just like in Paris.  The only other unpleasant aroma has been a vague sewer smell that wafts around in a mild, yet noticeable way.
  • Speaking of smells, it’s weird – the Mediterranean doesn’t have that briny smell that announces its presence like the Atlantic.  There’s no “sea air” that I could discern.
  • Children seem to be very well loved here.  Parents are affectionate and attentive without resorting to that helicopter approach which is so prevalent in the U.S.
  • Everyone has either a scooter, a bike or a soccer ball.
  • Scarves are oversize and wound repeatedly around the necks of both men and women.
  • Running seems to be a pretty big activity here and I got lucky with a boardwalk of sorts and parks super close to our apartment. I ran every day.
  • Chefs use a generous amount of salt and pastry is far more delicate than I imagined.
  • I’d like to come back here again.

 

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Filed under Europe, Food, musings, Observations, running, Spain, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

Inspiring vs. Inciting – Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Yesterday was a huge day for politics in Albany, our Capital City on the Hudson. My schedule only allowed for me to attend one of the three pre-primary political rallies, but I am ever so proud to say that my older sons represented at the two events held during the early afternoon. How cool is it that they are interested and participating at their ages – 16 and 19?

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Liam, my oldest son attended the Kasich rally in Troy, essentially because he is taking classes at HVCC and the event was very conveniently nearby. Liam leans further to the right than I and often threatens to vote for candidates who hold much more socially conservative positions than I do. He didn’t really have an opportunity to share many impressions of the speech but he did say Kasich is a moderate Republican with a repeated refrain of jobs, jobs, jobs.

Griffin, my middle son, is always game to skip school and the Bernie rally gave him a fine and legitimate reason to cut out of class with my permission. He liked Bernie’s message but found him, when compared to President Obama, to be a less powerful speaker. He was in agreement with the message, but said Sanders had a “Grandpa cute” vibe. Griffin did really enjoy the folks present, though, and felt comfortable in the tightly packed crowd in the Armory. There might have even been some hugging, from what I understand. I was sad to have missed it.

Made in China - worn with total irony

Made in China – worn with total irony

Later in the day, after a fortifying beer meal at McGeary’s, all 3 of my boys and I headed to the Times Union Center for what we referred to as the circus. We arrived at approximately 6:40 and waited in line for entry and security for about 20 minutes. It was an informative time as we looked around at the other folks in line wondering what their stories might be. Were they genuine supporters? Local? Perhaps merely curious, like us, there to see the spectacle? It was impossible to know.

imageWe made it to seats in the upper deck just minutes before Trump graced the enthusiastic crowd with his presence. He immediately launched into his stump speech, littering his diatribe with meaningful phrases such as “New York values,” “building that wall” and “making America great again.” His words were resonating with the crowd who greeted his sound bites with cheers and the frenzied waving of their Trump signs. Other people present began to respond as well to Trump’s claims, but these people were protestors, not supporters. The energy in the arena shifted from simple enthusiasm to a more complicated mélange of fear and anger. My children began to feel uncomfortable.

imageI looked around at the people surrounding us and tried to think about what might have made them so angry. How could they possibly be more furious with Mexican immigrants than they are with corporations which relocate to Mexico to lower production costs and maximize profits? Why are they resentful of citizens desiring comprehensive and affordable healthcare, but not with pharmaceutical companies using government money for research yet not making their products financially within reach of those who may need them? How does a New York City billionaire represent the interests of what looked to be a mostly blue-collar crowd?

We witnessed a couple of fights break out and saw a number of attendees being removed from the facility. The threat of more ugliness was pervasive. The boys asked to leave, which we did just before 8:00.

To me, Bernie Sanders brings light to our country’s political landscape while Donald Trump delivers a fire that threatens to incinerate all it touches. More than once last night I considered the similarities between the scene in front of us and what was Germany in the 1930s. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I’ll confess that I repeatedly thought: “Is this how Hitler gained power? Is this how it begins?”

Primary Day can’t come soon enough.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Education, Events, family, Local, Observations, politics, Uncategorized, upstate New York

A crap week

The first week of spring, arguably the finest season of the year in upstate New York, was the worst week Lark + Lily has ever experienced. When I say “crappy,” I’m being literal, by the way. I arrived at the restaurant Tuesday afternoon and encountered the plumbers who were working industriously to unclog one of our two toilets.* Despite their best efforts, we were unable to open for service until 7:30 which means we lost 2.5 hours of service. Not a great way to begin the week.

That lack of business seemed to set the tone for the week and our numbers were dramatically down each subsequent night from previous weeks. I’ve said before that I didn’t buy a restaurant to make a ton of money, but obsessively looking at my diminishing online checking account was, said the wine bar owner, sobering.

In addition to the poor week at the restaurant, a fierce early spring cold made for a rough week at home. Quinn, who recently was treated for a mean case of strep throat, came down with a dreadful cough complete with a headache and body soreness. The poor guy was just down for the count. Naturally, he required a lot of coddling and cuddling and he generously returned the favor of my attention by sharing his germs with me. Thanks for the cold, Quinn.

As with any week, there were good things, too. The guests we did have at Lark + Lily, including one who I had only previously “met” online (Hi, Bill!), were great and I believe they all left satisfied with their experience. I went to an awesome wine dinner, ran 20+ miles, including once with both of the lunar b*tches, and hiked a peak (more about that experience soon) in the Catskills. We had some beautiful weather with temperatures that invited bare legs and arms to meet the sun and I got in some quality time at the golf course in advance of the takeover on 4/1 by the golfers.  Saturday’s family dinner, an early Easter meal, was an effortlessly delicious treat and provided me with the perfect starter for a killer split pea soup. There was even a brief dining room dance party with Quinn inspired by his favorite Ray Charles song, Mess Around.

I guess it wasn’t really that bad of a week after all, was it?

*Ladies – let’s make a deal, ok?  You refrain from tossing personal items in the toilet and I’ll remain open during hours of service.  Thanks!

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Exercise, family, friends, musings, Normanskill, Observations, Restaurants, running, sick, Spring, stress, Uncategorized

International Women’s Day is over

imageLast night Lark + Lily represented at a lovely event held at the Opalka Gallery at Sage College in Albany. It was a lovely event attended by a diverse crowd and I was really happy to have been asked to participate. Our beet juice pickled, deviled eggs garnished with roe were beautiful and well received and I was really proud of my chef’s creativity and the reputation we’re building. After the event, I drove to Lark Street and was really happy to see that the restaurant was busy with all tables seated with guests. It was a good night.

Today, though, despite the dazzling sunshine and mild temperatures, things are feeling not quite as rosy. As I read the morning’s paper an article raised my ire to a level of frustration and annoyance high enough to chase away my sense of satisfaction with regards to International Women’s Day. Maybe you feel the same?

This article from today’s Times Union left me almost speechless, not due to the incident itself (I vividly recall the Tawana Brawley case and was greatly dismayed to see this sort of situation occur again), but rather because of the words spoken by the two attorneys involved with the case with regards to the decision made by their clients to not attend a disciplinary hearing being held at the University of Albany. Or, as one of the attorneys described it, the “University of Injustice.”

I’m not going to provide either lawyer with additional “print” exposure so I won’t mention their names, but Attorney One characterized the University’s adherence to its internal disciplinary process as an opportunity for it to “manufacture and perform an academic lynching.” Yes, he was directly quoted as saying “lynching.” How does that do anything but perpetuate racial divide? As for Attorney Two’s statement that his client is unable to appear at the scheduled hearing due to the criminal charges she is facing and how “that’s not fair,” I’m afraid I don’t have much sympathy. Perhaps counsel should attempt to get the hearing delayed so she can be held responsible legally for her actions prior to facing discipline at the University?

I can’t begin to truly understand the discrimination that minorities face in our country. I’ve witnessed the racism to which our President and his family have been subjected and it makes me sick. How can our society remain so divided when it comes to race?  As a white person, I know I will probably never be subjected to systemic racism, but I can look at the experience through a different lens; that of gender.

As women, we are often taught to fear men and their actions.  The initial reports of the bus incident indicated that the young men had aggressively menaced and threatened these young women, an occurrence which is always a potential threat to females in our society. This was not the truth.

I don’t know what the solution is to the systemic racism in our world, but I can say with confidence that the actions of these three women students did nothing to advance that cause. In fact, their decision to fabricate an outrageous story has damaged the credibility of other women who may truly be victims of racism and misogyny.  That is nothing to celebrate.

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Filed under Albany, Education, Local, News, Rant

The precariousness of balance

Last Monday while I attended the Leap Day event at the University Club, my tightly wrapped world unraveled a bit. It was a great reminder to me about the always tenuous hold we have on life, how rapidly things can take a turn in an unexpected direction.

To begin, Monday night has been declared as “family night” at my house. Participating in last week’s panel discussion was an important opportunity for me, though, so I made an exception and, while I don’t regret my decision, there were definite repercussions. For instance, I seriously did not know what day it was for most of the week. I just felt off.

Leaving the boys to fend for themselves and not cooking dinner on Monday night, meant there was a distinct lack of leftovers for lunch and Tuesday night’s dinner. This lead to my taking the boys out for a late-ish dinner on Tuesday night, which, of course, was an expense. I also ended up eating food that I typically might avoid – heavy on the cheese and fried, another not so positive result of not being home to cook.

During my time at the restaurant on Tuesday, I learned that we were out of beer gas, a situation which prevents draft beer from being available. When I called our usual supplier I learned they had sold their business to another company, a company which I did not have an account with, naturally. There would be no draft beer until the beer crisis was resolved. Once we received a delivery (thank you, DeCrescente!), rather than being back in business, we hit another wall – the coupling for the tank was not compatible with our system. Ugh.

And still I did not know what day it was. At least not until Wednesday, that is.

On Wednesdays I run between school and when I go to Lark + Lily and I truly believe that this is what finally reset my week for me. I hope it doesn’t sound as if I am more committed to a run than I am to my children, it’s just that Wednesday the guys are with their dad and I have a window of time that belongs to me. And Jeter.

Family, work, food and exercise each play an important part in my life, but they aren’t all I want or need.  There must be time for adult relationships, romantic and platonic, room for creativity and writing, moments devoted to being quiet with a book or even taking a nap. Keeping it all going is one of life’s biggest challenges.  Accepting that keeping it all balanced is a temporary condition is one of life’s biggest lessons.

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Filed under Exercise, family, love, moms, musings, Observations, relationships, running, stress, Uncategorized

Milestones aren’t meant to be millstones

imageMy oldest child turned nineteen this weekend. I think the child that makes a man or a woman a parent is the child who is more closely observed, documented and measured than any additional children. As a family expands, it just isn’t possible to continue the almost obsessive attention that is paid to a first child. When there are two or three other humans demanding that their needs be fulfilled, things like growth charts become extraneous.

The literature suggests that first born children have a lot of pressure upon them to perform and I can concur on that. As far as my own child goes, he eventually internalized the demands he felt from his parents, teachers and early intervention providers. He now (self) imposes a timeline of expectations, and what he considers necessary progress, even more rigorous than the one promoted by the medical experts we felt so wed to when Liam was an infant and toddler and receiving services designed to help him catch up to his peers.

But, what if it isn’t really a race? What if we each reach the next step on our path in precisely the amount of time we’re supposed to? Maybe all those expected outcomes and definitions of normal are more generalizations than a reality for which to strive. From my vantage point of nearly fifty years old, it seems perfectly clear that life and how we experience it, is more individualized than something that can be easily plotted on a growth chart or measured in expectations and achievements.

As my son begins his last year as a teenager all I want for him is acceptance of who and where he is in life – his own acceptance, that is. I’d like for him to understand that it really doesn’t matter how many classes he takes or how quickly he progresses through college. It doesn’t make a difference if he is on par with his cohort; it’s his journey and no one else’s. Milestones may be indicative of progress but they shouldn’t ever be allowed to weigh a person down.

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Filed under aging, birthdays, Boys, Education, Observations, stress, Uncategorized

Observations and the science fair

imageI’m a little ashamed for thinking, much less saying, this but … I really kind of detest the science fair. It isn’t because science isn’t really my thing, or that I’m opposed to exploring a topic of interest, it’s just that it turns into so much work without much reward. It’s hard to be excited about a process that comes with as many demands as a science experiment. Eh, maybe it’s just me.

Part of the science fair process involves observations which must be documented. In the spirit of research, I’ve got a few observations to share from my weekend. They’re in no particular order.

  • I’m not a bad feminist because I like Bernie more than I like Hillary.
  • The same is true when it comes the fact that I think it’s ok for a woman to want to look pretty when she leaves the house.
  • A winter walk with a friend and the dogs at the golf course makes for a perfect afternoon.
  • On a related note, lipstick has become my friend in a way it wasn’t until I was in my 40s.
  • Wearing a hat can be a real act of bravery. I’m not talking about a baseball cap, I mean a more bold chapeaux – something in a vivid colored felt or a generously proportioned straw number.
  • I don’t completely understand why folks get so uptight about getting older. I kind of think of adding years like putting another notch in my lipstick* case. It’s an accomplishment.
  • Recently, Delaware Avenue has been interesting to walk on, but scary to drive on. People really need to slow the hell down and stop being so aggressive behind the wheel.
  • In theory, I love brunch. What’s not to like about day drinking and someone other than me cooking and serving a meal? In reality, though, I just don’t have time for day drinking and a big meal midday. Maybe on vacation?
  • I thought the ribs I made on Saturday were pretty banging until I ate ribs at Jay and Karen’s. Never mind.
  • I’ve got an idea for this year’s science fair which just might be fun.  I’d say more but don’t want anyone co-opting our experiment.  Hint: it involves soda.

*what’s my obsession with lipstick?

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Local, moms, Observations, Random, Schools, Uncategorized, winter