Monday, February 28, 2011


I first met John in the fall of 2002 when McGuire's opened on Lark Street.  I don't know how I had avoided him for so many years previously - we both liked music and cocktails and food and it seems crazy that our paths hadn't crossed sooner.  I was charmed by his garage sale finds, pocket notebook inventory system and ability to make a perfectly mixed drink.  When he left McGuire's, an awful lot of hospitality professionalism departed with him and I was happy to visit him in subsequent spots for a good conversation and cocktail.

While there are numerous things for which I am grateful to John, the ones that stand out are all related to music.  Although I don't recall mentioning to John that I admired Lucinda Williams, I must have at some point because one afternoon he gave me a cd he had burned of Lucinda and Elvis Costello playing together live, an awesome cd that I mentally thank him for every time it shuffles around in my iTunes.  If you knew John, you knew he loved music and was a tremendous supporter of talent - both local and big time.  He turned me on to 97.7 WEXT, the best local radio station, and Shelby Lynne, a gift I'll forever appreciate as her voice and words can shred me.  I can still hear his enthusiasm for a performance of hers he attended at the Egg a number of years ago and I wish I had known enough about her at that time to get a ticket myself. 

He was kind of an eccentric guy in some ways and I loved how he would magically make a teeny tiny television appear on the bar for the Triple Crown races.  I don't think there was anyone more excited to watch a good horse race than John (and Paul and Andrew) and when he and Paul got lucky with Jocamo we all celebrated together. 

Premature death never seems fair and I'm tired of hospitality professionals working honestly and industriously their entire lives without benefit of benefits, like healthcare or retirement.  I've been to more than enough memorial services and said farewell to too many good people taken too early.  The Wizapalooza event Saturday night was certainly more a celebration of a life well-lived than a goodbye ceremony and I felt priviliged to have attended.  I imagine I'll meet Johnny Wiz again, but until then, I'll see his face reflecting off wooden bartops made shiny by his barcloth all around town.  Godspeed.
portrait of John by Kevin McKrell

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cella Bistro lunch

One of my favorite parts of a week off from school is the opportunity to sample dining options at other times left unexplored.  There are so many places that I'm interested in trying, all within 25 or 30 miles, that I could probably schedule a Dining Staycation quarterly without exhausting anything other than my American Express card. The recent February break provided the perfect chance to try something new - and talk about perfect timing, Cella Bistro is now serving lunch.  Next stop: Schenectady! 

I've been to Cella Bistro once before, back in December when they were doing a limited Sunday service for the holidays.  We got in on their Italian night which was fantastic, as well as a great value. If this place was a bit closer, believe me, I'd  definitely be here with greater frequency.  The lunch menu hadn't been available to peruse prior to our visit because the chef-owner, Michael Cella hadn't made his "final" decisions until that very morning.  No worries - when you're dealing with a chef as inspired and creative as Michael Cella, the hardest choice was making a choice.  Here's what we went with: 
Roasted Red Pepper soup - bursting with color and flavor - piping hot, light and satisfying.

Bibb lettuce salad with lemon vinaigrette - tender and crisp simultaneously

An order of delicious fries dunked in aioli naturally

A sliced duck sandwich with aioli, sauteed mushrooms,  cheese,  caramelized onions
Reuben of housemade pastrami, cole slaw, cheese, 1000 island dressing on grilled rye bread. 
Bonus: A housemade pickle!!

Check out this mound of pastrami!!  Housemade Corned Beef was also available

Housemade Apricot cello
A couple of additional items worth mentioning; they have a very pleasing selection of beverages.  In addition to their homemade cellos, there was a nice variety of beers from which to choose.  We went with the Ommegang Rare Vos and couldn't have been happier.  Desserts were kind of weak, particularly for their first day's service, but we had a delicious bowl of Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream which was perfect with my glass of cello.  Lunch was somewhere in the $70 range, but you could certainly be more than satisfied for less than we spent.  It was vacation, though and Cella Bistro was the perfect spot to get away without really going away. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pool Party!

You try wrangling 10 boys in a pool for a picture!
One of the challenges of parenthood is making decisions on the behalf of another living, breathing human being.  I mean, seriously, there’s quite a bit of pressure from the very beginning.  Consider the naming process or the choice of a pediatrician – there’s lots of room for error, trust me. 

While I had considered many of the potential parenting decisions in advance of pregnancy, I had not considered the task of party planning prior to bringing home the first of my three boys.  Suddenly, I now had to come up with a theme and a venue and food and goodie bag items – yikes!  Although I was a bit overwhelmed and, ok, maybe a little overly concerned with making things perfect (until this moment I hadn’t thought for years about how I discarded one of the layers of carrot cake for my oldest son’s first birthday cake and re-baked a replacement layer at the crack of dawn, because I thought it was a tad over baked), as I’ve added additional boys to the mix, I’ve brought my expectations down to a more realistic level. I’ve come to recognize that a successful child's birthday party is one that includes an opportunity for kids to exert themselves either physically or creatively and concludes with some form of cake.  It really can be just that simple.

We have two February birthdays at our house and coming up with a winter party that contains a physical component for a dozen+ children can be a challenge, particularly when the kids are too young to spend an extended time outdoors.  We’re not fans of chain party places (or packaged Halloween costumes, but that’s another story) but fortunately the Center for the Disabled on South Manning Blvd in Albany, has the perfect pool/party room for a group of kids to blow off some steam.  Allow me to share the details…

well equipped party room
Pool parties are generally scheduled for Saturday afternoons between 12:45-2:30 and can include up to 15 children.  The pool is a balmy 94 degrees and is well divided (by a wheelchair ramp) into shallow and deep ends, making it perfect for the non-swimmer.  The shallow end is really shallow – like  24” deep  and there is a bench built in for moms and dads who feel like joining in the fun albeit in a lazy fashion. There are also some jets to add to the overall hot tub experience.   Noodles and other toys are available for game playing and well equipped locker rooms are just a door away from the pool deck.  The pool party includes 45 minutes in the pool followed by an hour of access to the party room down the hall.  We usually pre-order a few pizzas and arrange to have them delivered at about 1:30.  An hour for pizza and cake may seem tight, but, believe me you’ll be ready to see the little cherubs packed up and on their way.  The price for this much fun?  $75 plus your food, beverage and goodie bag loot. 

For more information about birthday parties and/or swim lesson availability contact Rich at  518.437.5714. 

Other swim party options:  The Albany JCCC
                                            Capital District YMCA (various locations)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mohonk Mountain House

I don't know what you know about this place, but allow me to share some of what I've heard and experienced about this amazing place. I first saw the Mohonk Mountain House (MMH) on a perfect October afternoon. I was taking a little hike walk through the woods one gorgeous Columbus Day weekend with some girlfriends and I think, a Lilly boy on my back. We had parked in a lower lot and followed a lovely path through the woods pausing to observe the rock climbers and to surreptitiously  catch our breath. We were all a bit out of shape as we ignored our own physical selves to devote our attention to the little beings we had produced and whose demands exceeded our own supply of hours in a day. The trail took us past fields and under evergreen trees as we continued to gaze up at the tower made of rocks, the tower which didn't seem to get any closer despite our continued efforts. As we rounded a curve in the path all of a sudden it was there - the Mountain House. And we were no longer in the Hudson Valley but had somehow been transported to Europe, perhaps Austria or maybe the Schwarzwald. Or, maybe it was Camelot. Built on, or perhaps birthed by, the grey rocks was an edifice that defied symmetry yet still appeared perfectly balanced. The building was a conglomeration of materials and colors and architectural styles, yet was perfect in it's disharmony. Unforgettable.

I've been back to the locale over the years and seem to always walk away with a new piece of information or legend about the MMH. Although none of this has been confirmed (maybe I should check wikipedia?), I recall hearing that Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining after a stay here, and that he also wrote some of the Mystery Weekends that have been hosted here over the years. Apparently the actual movie was filmed at an Inn in Estes Park, Colorado Oregon, but the inspiration came from Mohonk. My oldest son, the one I hauled on my back, tells me he has seen an episode of some program about haunted buildings which featured Mohonk. I'd like to think the spirit was benevolent and just couldn't bear to leave such a beautiful spot.

Just this weekend I finally got myself inside the Mountain House via an organized x-country ski trip with the Out of Control ski club. Who says I'm not a joiner? The timing of the trip worked out perfectly since I needed to be in New Paltz for an event anyway and I was able to stretch my day of skiing into a 2 night kitchen pass, an ideal beginning to my winter break. I met my ski buddies (bunnies?) a little after 9:00 a.m. at the gate and followed their bus up the winding road.  We quickly got ourselves organized and hit the trail to Skytop. The conditions were less than ideal with lots of ice and even more wind, but I always say a bad day skiing is better than not skiing at all. The views were panoramic and even more breathtaking than the 50 mph wind gusts. The ski up required removing our skis a few times to traverse the worst of the ice patches, not a problem just something of which to remain careful. At the top of the trail we took our skis off and tucked them into a corner of the tower for safekeeping - concerned far more about the wind than theft. The view was magnificent and had the wind not threatened to blow us away, we might have enjoyed relaxing a bit longer, but lunch was calling and I couldn't wait to enjoy the inside of the property.

The buffet began at noon and we were changed and at our table by about 12:30. Although we're not buffet regulars, we didn't make any amateurish mistakes. First we polled our table mates for their favorite items and then we did a reconnaissance lap around the entire display area prior to picking up plates and getting started. I began with a salad of Arugula (surprise, surprise!) with pickled beets, feta, garbanzos, some crunchy seeds and a balsamic vinaigrette. On the side I had a piece of pita with some yummy yogurt-cucumber sauce, pickled red onions and chunks of chicken turned yellow with turmeric. Delicious. My next lap brought sliced duck, Israeli couscous, red curry chicken and grilled vegetables. I wrapped things up with a taste of Oreo mousse pie, a slice of excellent traditional cheesecake and a small pile of fresh pineapple with toasted coconut. All of this, washed down with a half bottle of Alsatian Pinot Blanc. Bliss.  You should go - really.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Unions - other than marital, for a change

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My first teaching job in 1995 was a long term substitute position in a small Capital Region district.  It was my first experience with being in a union and I had mixed feelings about being a member.  While I understood the necessity of a union historically, there were some aspects that I found puzzling.  For instance, since I was the only librarian for 3 elementary buildings I had a large population of students to provide instruction - which kept me pretty busy.  I felt that it was important for all students to have library skills and literature lessons and I re-worked the schedule so that I could accomplish this goal, which meant that I was teaching more classes than the contract specified.  Because I was only initially there for a  4 month maternity leave, I was allowed to alter my schedule without a problem, and I did my best to meet the needs of my students and teachers.  Things went well and the librarian for whom I was filling in extended her leave until September 1st, from the original May return date, which gave me another few months of employment and health insurance coverage.  Since the district did not have a position for me in the fall, I was able to qualify for unemployment insurance that summer for the only time in my life, and had the opportunity to COBRA my health care.  Terrific.  In late August I received a phone call from one of the principals I had worked with offering me the chance to return to the position as the teacher had decided to extend her maternity leave - again.  I thought that it was wonderful that this new parent elected to remain at home with her daughter, but, there was a part of me that recognized how absurd it was that:
  • She could continue to extend a leave numerous times (ultimately she resigned).
  • Had the district known in June that she didn't plan to return in September, I would not have qualified for unemployment benefits, thus saving the state a few thousand dollars
My next position, south of Albany, provided yet another educational experience for me.  I was fortunate enough to be able to devote my attention to a single school population and spent a lot of time organizing and automating my library.  In addition to a collection of materials that sorely needed to be weeded, I inherited a full time assistant who was incompetent.  She had been with the district for a number of years and was on her second lap through the library, having already proven her lack of ability in at least 3 other assignments in the district.  As the new person, I was put in a position of collecting anecdotal evidence against her and then testifying against her in a hearing to terminate her.  Apparently, this how civil service employees are disciplined or dismissed.  The day after the hearing we returned to our neighboring desks - talk about awkward!  She was ultimately fired after a decision was reached some 8 or 10 weeks later. See, there is a system to remove ineffective employees, it is a tedious and meticulous process to arrive at that outcome, but certainly not impossible.

Permanent position number two was west of Albany.  The district was progressive, had amazing technology and provided me with an extremely generous budget for purchasing library materials.  During my time there I made an effort to attend school board meetings in the district where I pay taxes, Albany.  At one particular meeting I expressed my opinion, during the public comment period,  that Albany teachers needed to begin contributing to their health insurance premiums.  At that time (as recently as 8 or 9 years ago), there was no member contribution to individual health coverage.  Within days, the president of the union where I was employed, publicly chastised me for expressing my personal opinion at a meeting in the city where I reside.  Excuse me?  Membership in a union does not mean that I will be muzzled, ever. 

And, now I work in a district just south of Albany,*  a district where I've always imagined I would complete my professional teaching career.  You see, once teachers reach a certain level on a salary schedule it no longer becomes economically feasible to change districts because of the salary reduction we would experience as new hires.  Most districts have a formula when they hire experienced educators - perhaps 1 for 1 for the first 3 years of experience and then a diminishing scale such as 1 for every 3 years experience.  Meaning, that my 15 years of experience might place my on a salary schedule on par with someone with 7 years professional, full time experience.  Oddly, the same formula does not pertain to administrators who almost always increase their salaries as they change districts - and frequently are able to negotiate a benefit where they bring their accumulated sick, personal and vacation time with them.  The union in my present district has been nothing short of generous with the givebacks we've provided to the resident taxpayers during these tough economic times, but still it seems to me that teachers, as well as other public employees, are being vilified for the salaries and benefit packages we receive. It is public knowledge, so I'll tell you right here, I make just under $60,000 a year with 15 years experience and a Master's degree.  I think it is a fair salary and my biggest fear about working in a district that will potentially eliminate 40+ teaching positions this year, is losing my health insurance benefits, benefits for which I contribute 20% of the premium cost. 

What's the point of this tedious description of my professional experiences with unions, both positive and negative?  I suppose I wanted to express my own mixed feelings about the union to which I am obligated to belong. I find the NYSUT headquarters in Latham to be an ostentatious embarrassment, I resent the solicitations I receive in the email from my union promoting insurance agencies and rental car companies and I find behavior such as this reprehensible.  I also have an understanding about the advantages of collective bargaining and don't ever want to go back to the days of male teachers being paid more than female teachers or faculty being denied academic freedom.  It seems, however,  that a discussion regarding the true purpose of a union is long overdue.  I have always been proud to be a teacher and would like to also be proud of being a member of a union. 

*I've had tenure in all three of my permanent positions.  I've changed jobs to decrease my commute and to improve my working conditions, always of my own volition.  I don't want anyone to get the false impression that I've not been able to retain a job!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

3 Things I love in February (not including the Lilly boys)

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  • Cheesecake Machismo - In the past couple of weeks I've sampled 2  of their many flavors of cheesecake and I can admit here, amongst friends, that I am now obsessed.  I've intentionally avoided their retail location (probably a good idea for someone who gets overwhelmed by too many choices) but a number of restaurants I frequent feature their cheesecakes and the flavors I've tried have been amazing!  The Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark currently has three  flavors (Wild Blueberry, Caramel Toffee and Chocolate-Chipotle) and Cafe Capriccio features a Chocolate-Mocha variety.  Although I was initially amenable to sharing a single piece with a friend, those days are done - get your own!

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  • When I received that special birthmas* check from my brother (thanks, Tom M.) I immediately knew what I wanted to purchase: an iPad.  I love my Mac desktop (the 3rd in a series of Mac desktops) but wanted something with which to surf the internet, blog and socially network and the iPad has been the perfect device.  I still haven't mastered Angry Birds, but I love the portability and am constantly finding new ways to use it - sitting on my couch, at the dining room table, on the train, when traveling, when I'm getting gussied up in my bathroom... 

    *a holiday between my birthday and Christmas I like to celebrate.
    image from:

  • I've got a little Kate Spade addiction thing with which you may or may not be familiar.  It all started about 3 years ago when I fell in love with a gorgeous green handbag when I was in the city one Memorial Day weekend.  I didn't dare go into the store, but I went online after I returned to Albany (too bad I didn't have an iPad then, huh?!) and saw the price of the bag, which was more than a car payment but less than a mortgage check, and did my best to forget about it.  Until some unexpected money came our way, that is... The thrill of getting that beautiful bag, which came with its very own cotton bag for protection, set an evil precedent and I am determined to one day have an entire rainbow of Kate Spade bags.  I won't admit how many colors have found their way into my special handbag closet, but, I can tell you I am very happy with my latest addition - thank you, Tom L. !  She's purple (well actually, eggplant), and if you see me anytime soon she'll be hanging from my shoulder. 

    Now, who says love is only supposed to be celebrated on February 14th?  Cheesecake, techie toys and handbags can be enjoyed every day, all year long. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Not your typical Valentine...

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I remember years ago reading about the stages of grief experienced when a person loses a loved one to death. The stages were described as being consistent, although not necessarily in a predictable order, or universally applicable. It seems to me that the 5 stages can also be applied to a situation where a relationship is lost, not necessarily to literal death but to a dramatic change in circumstances. There are definite overlaps between the two frameworks, and I'm only describing my own experience, so far, but I know that I'm not the only person in the universe coping with relationship challenges and thought perhaps that fumbling forward might be easier with the knowledge that there are others sympathetic to the struggles of romantic love.

1. Denial. This stage may vary in length, but, rest assured, even if your personal denial stage is brief (like the amount of time it takes to hang up the phone after you've been told your honey is stepping out til you walk into the next room and confront them) it will revisit you. Maybe even with a frequency that causes you to question every single thing you and your partner have shared. Ever.

2. Empathy. What person in a long term relationship hasn't thought of or imagined an affair? Perhaps you never acted on your longing for someone new and exciting, maybe it was lack of opportunity, or nerve, or ability that prevented your own infidelity from taking place, but, if you're honest with yourself, I imagine you'll recognize the similarity of desire that moved your partner to seek something beyond the borders of your union. Honestly.

3. Sadness. It hurts. You hurt. Waves of loss will mingle with your tears, trust me. And, you can trust me, although the sadness you're feeling will probably displace any trust you may have once held for the person who hurt you.  Maybe for a long, long time.  Maybe forever.

4. Rage. This is the scariest emotion for me, personally. I'm not prone to anger, but boy did I want to smash some things/people. I still don't know how I will respond to any unplanned encounters with those involved, but I'd like to think that I will move past this stage because it has the potential to harm me far more than any ass whooping I could inflict. Not that I wouldn't want to confirm this with some physical evidence...

5. Numbness.  For me, this followed pretty closely behind my anger phase.  Perhaps it was a response to the hyper-emotions I experienced when I was raging?  It was a fairly short lived period for me, but it lead very directly to my next phase...

6. Manic activity.  If you're my FB friend you may have recently observed a level of activity that was disturbing.  Comings and goings at a frequency that positively boggled those who witnessed it.  How do I know this?  Because they communicated their concern to me via messages or phone calls.  The bottom line on this is, for me, I prefer to be busy, even if it is the oldest avoidance trick in the book.

7. Depression.  This isn't a place where I let myself linger.  Fortunately, I have an ability to always remain aware that many people know far more difficult challenges than I do.  I am sympathetic to people who may not have the capacity to see beyond their personal dark clouds and know that medication can be helpful, as can exercise and travel.  For more information about the latter two, revisit #6 above.

8. Acceptance.  This phase has been quite a trial for me. While I appreciate the reminder from the universe that life is a series of events conducted by imperfect beings, accepting events that have literally torn lives apart ain't easy.  As a person who can be quite persuasive when necessary, accepting the situation and moving beyond the circumstances has been a remarkable challenge. Which leads to the next step...

9. Negotiation.  Obviously, something was missing to cause the initial rift.  Needs were not being met and this is the second best time for honest discussions to be held.  Relationships and the expectations of individuals require frank conversation for resolution - this is the time.

10. Remembrance.  Memories will be both painful and comforting, but life will continue and you will move beyond your loss, I promise.  Remember to take care of yourself, remember to surround yourself with friends and family from whom you receive comfort and remember that this too will pass.  And, don't forget to get yourself something chocolate.  I heartily recommend the chocolate-chipotle cheesecake from Cheesecake Machismo - unforgettably delicious.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Yesterday was Quinn Padraig's 6th birthday and I'm feeling a bit melancholy about how quickly the years are passing.  I am slightly overwhelmed by how rapidly the  6 years have flown by since my last labor and delivery episode, and am sad to know that those gestational days are completely over for me.  As a woman who absolutely loved being pregnant and delivering my babies, the knowledge that I won't experience either of those incredibly empowering adventures again occasionally causes a pang of sorrow, however,  after Quinn's birth, I absolutely knew I was finished with birthing babies.  I don't mean to suggest that Quinn's birth was difficult or particularly long because it wasn't. It was actually the most ideal birthing experience I've ever had - completely natural, on my body's schedule without any drugs or interventions.  Yet, despite it being the most perfect delivery I ever had, I just knew that I was closing that specific chapter of my life - which was a relief, I'm sure, to my husband.

I was reading a blog post recently about the tick-tock of a person's biological clock and found myself reflecting about my own experiences with pregnancy, birthing and breastfeeding.   Despite my fondness for pregnancy, and my insistence upon having a third baby (although I had always previously believed that two was a perfect number), I don't think I ever heard a clock ticking. Maybe I'm more in tune with my intellect than I am with my purely emotional instincts? I mean, I knew that I wanted children and I had an age in mind for when I was hoping to get started (30), but I never felt as if my body was craving to procreate. Is this what people are referring to when they speak of a biological clock?  Can DelSo readers help me to understand this phenomenon?  How did you decide when and/or whether to have children?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Security - it's not just for airports

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Despite my independence and sense of self reliance I have this thing about wanting to be taken care of.  I don't mean financially; that I can manage on my own.  I also don't mean physically, I have the gym and the massage therapist to help me out there.  And, mentally?  Well, I have a therapist or two to assist in that area.  No, what I'm talking about is emotionally.  Someone whom I always know I can count on to contemplate my feelings even when I may not deserve their thoughtful consideration.  I'm not asking for blind adoration or universal acceptance, but I would like to feel as if my position, as wife, partner, individual, whatever,  is defended and protected against all interlopers and critics. You know, something along the lines of this definition from Security - something that secures or makes safe; protection; defense.  Seeing as how I've already bared myself in a manner that transcends the ability of any machine's capacity to expose, this doesn't seem too much to ask, or does it? 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Deconstructed quiche salad

I don't know about you, but I believe that nothing but good can follow butter and onions. Geez, the aroma is practically a meal in itself!  I was running a bit of a caloric deficit after completing the big loop at Muni and, truth  be told, I probably spent the last .5 mile or so imagining the perfect substantial lunch salad.  Here's what I came up with...

Saute a chopped onion in about 2 t of butter,  over medium  low heat.  I went with a chop instead of the more attractive rings because I wanted the carmelization to happen sooner rather than later - greater area, quicker cook, right?  After a quick stir to make sure the onions were all coated in butter, I turned the heat to low and allowed them to get beautifully soft.  At that point, I added a thick slice or 2 of leftover spiral ham that I had cubed.  As the onions and ham became acquainted, I laid out a couple of piles of greens and dressed them with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.  I tossed some roasted beets on the plate and then shaved Parmesan generously all over -  like snowmageddon generous.  The gorgeous onions and ham were distributed around the plate and then I cooked 2 eggs perfectly over easy in the onion/ham pan.  Ah - the crowning glory of the fried egg!  Lavishly salt and pepper - then dip your fork into the yolk and let the mouth party begin.  De-frikkin'-licious!  It was a meal that was like the best of books - sad to conclude, but remaining alive in your memory for long after the inevitable end. 

eggs, cheese, ham, onions = quiche

impossible to convey the deliciousness with just a photo...

Snow Day in the DelSo

You know I love snow. And you know I love my neighborhood.  So what could be better than a snow day in the DelSo?  Here's how I like to do it...

toll house and peanut butter blossoms

Followed by....

a great movie!  not happy, but wonderful nonetheless.


the only place i want to go to see a movie.
Concluded by...


Friday, February 4, 2011

Salad? In the winter?

I've heard a lot of people complaining about the weather we've been having recently.  You know, the winter weather we're having in winter.  I've come to realize that I'm  a person who definitely appreciates all 4 seasons - I don't think I could live in a region that didn't have the variety of weather conditions we experience here in upstate New York.  And, while there  are certainly advantages and drawbacks to each of the seasons (you can fill in your own pet peeves here), I try to stay positive and embrace the aspects which I enjoy.  No reason to mention cross-country skiing here again, right? 

When it comes to winter eating,  I love hearty stews, soups, baked goods and roasted vegetables and meats.  As soon as the temperature begins to drop, I look for ways to turn my oven on to supplement the 66 degrees I keep the thermostat set on.  Salad may not be your first thought for a winter's lunch or a light dinner, but, add a couple of roasted vegetables to a bed of greens, and you just might find yourself not missing the warmer seasons quite as much.

For today's lunch I roasted a bunch of beets (cut greens and root off of beets, wrap them individually in foil, place on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until they feel a bit soft, ~ 35 minutes.  Cool and then unwrap and slide skins off.) and some asparagus (snap bottoms off, drizzle with olive oil and season with pepper and sea salt, roast for about 8 minutes at 400 degrees).  Prepare a bed of greens - I used baby spinach and arugula, and dress lightly with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.  I make my lunch typically at night and find that the combination of olive oil and lemon juice really holds up overnight without wilting the lettuce.  Plus - who needs all that crap that is in commercially prepared salad dressings?  Add your roasted beets and asparagus, a small handful of dried cranberries, some croutons for crunch and a bit of soft cheese.  I went with goat cheese for today's lunch, but have happily used varieties of bleu in the past, as well as Rondolet.  It all depends upon what's in the cheese drawer.  Dig in with your fork and savor the flavors which transcend the calendar.  Enjoy.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Delso Snow Job

look closely...see where they claim to offer snow removal?

note the condition of their sidewalk?  hmmm....

XC Skiing In Mohonk Preserve

Last week I had a second opportunity to ski in the New Paltz area with an old friend.  For this day, we chose the Mohonk golf course for our explorations and it was beautiful!  The trails were nicely groomed and marked and we were nearly alone as we shussed through the woods.  One of the first challenges we encountered was the hill below - yikes!  It was a bit on the icy side and more than a tad scary looking from the top, so we elected to ski down the more subtle incline and climb up the severe hill.  Which we did repeatedly - for fun.  Really.  I'm heading down there again in 2 weeks with another friend as part of an organized trip.  Very excited to actually eat at the Mohonk Mountain house instead of just gaze wistfully at that beautiful Camelot-like building. 

XC Skiing In Mohonk Preserve With Silvia by James

come ski with me!!

thanks, lisa for the camera loan

this is the hill james and i did laps on - what a blast!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Holding On to Change

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I am not known for holding on to things because I find them to be special or important. Nope, not me. I'm all about throwing stuff away. Hell, I've been known to accidentally throw my income tax return in the trash. My nearly 14 years as a parent have netted me only 2 (small)  bins of material parenthood flotsam, things like child created art projects and cards, along with some clothing items that I will eventually have made into a patchwork blanket of memories.  Letting go, be it physical, emotional or mental is definitely my way.  Unless, of course, we're talking about control.  That, I try to hold firmly on to most days. 

I've struggled for the past few months with some pretty major life choices.  For you kids out there know this: Life is continually about making decisions.  In recent years, I've often mistakenly thought that once a person had obtained their education and career, selected a mate and created a family unit, and purchased a home, all of life's major decisions are complete.  The future, now that I had a spare minute to contemplate it, seemed to me to be a matter of coasting without gaining speed.  The perceived lack of acceleration the result of the flatness of the terrain, stretching out towards tomorrows which  appeared to change very little from today. I was wrong - everything changes.

Many years ago I was frequently visited by a recurring dream.  The details have become hazy as time has passed but it basically involved my returning to a childhood home, a place that was as close to idyllic as I have ever known.  Unfortunately, the beautiful rural area I had known as a child had been developed - the small lake we used to swim the length of was now surrounded by cookie cutter homes.  The peninsula where we camped and picked blueberries had been built up beyond recognition and was no longer accessible for exploring or picnics.  Each time I had this dream, I would wake up in tears - not a particularly great way to start the day, know what I mean?  One morning, as I considered what the dream meant and why it occurred, I realized that there was a distinct relationship between change(s) in my life and the nightmare's presence.  As soon as the connection was made, the dream ceased.  Message received: change is scary

I've been waiting for an epiphany - a sign - a nudge in a particular direction for many weeks, to no avail.  There isn't going to be a moment of clarity or an obvious beacon illuminating the path I should follow which, honestly, sucks.  It looks like I'm going to have to take a leap of faith - something which clearly conflicts with my need to remain in control .  Letting go of the reins of control while holding on to something which has been life changing will be a challenge for me.  And so it continues...