Monthly Archives: November 2018

Revisiting Rent the Runway

I’ve got about a week left of my Unlimited Membership and honestly, if the cost of my initial month ($106) was the regular price, I’d be re-upping in a heartbeat and continuing the service. With one little hiccup aside, more a shipping issue than any fault of RtR, I’ve loved the experience.

I’ve had 10 items delivered (including three formal gowns, all options for an early December event) and have worn, or will wear, 8 of them. One of the two gowns which were part of my initial shipment is exactly what I wanted for the upcoming gala, so I’ve held onto it for the entire duration of my subscription. not wanting to risk it not being available closer to my date. That left me with three open spots to rotate garments through, a fun challenge that I really enjoyed.

The quality of the clothing has been high with everything arriving on hangars, in plastic. One dress had some very minor “pulls” in the fabric, but beyond that, everything has been pristine. I’ve made a point of selecting garments which are beyond my typical budget for clothing, i.e. designer dresses which retail for $500-$700, gowns that top out north of the $1000 mark, a real indulgence which I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience. That being said, I’ve been a bit surprised by the manufacturing standards of what I consider to be very expensive items – a Jason Wu dress with a hem that isn’t turned of truly finished. They just don’t make things like they used to…

When I reflect on what I’ve borrowed, it’s apparent I have a real fondness for easy sweater or knit dresses in eye-catching patterns – the kind of stuff that is strikingly vivid, yet quickly repetitive. Exactly what I want in a garment that I’m only going to wear two or three times. The shipment that I’m expecting tomorrow includes a really high end leather jacket in a beautiful raisin color. I could never justify buying a $1200 motorcycle jacket, but I will be wearing this one as frequently as possible before my subscription ends. Look for me in it!

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Filed under Fashion, favorites, ideas, Recommendations, Uncategorized

WEXT – Jukebox Heroes!

If you’re of a certain age, the following may tweak a memory for you…

“Standing in the rain, with his head hung low
Couldn’t get a ticket, it was a sold out show…”

I didn’t say Foreigner, circa 1981, would necessarily elicit a good memory, but I do know some folks who hold their 80s mix tapes in high regard and I imagine that track made it on to more than a couple of them.  Anyway, I heard that song on the radio recently and those lyrics totally expressed my situation perfectly – it was indeed, a sold out show.

Last summer I attended a show at SPAC specifically to see the Marcus King Band. Unfortunately, they were an early act on a day that included an afternoon on the water, pre-show. Needless to say, we arrived late to the concert and missed almost their entire set. Bummer.

When I found out the band was playing Cohoes Music Hall Thanksgiving Day Weekend, I jumped on it. Apparently, my leap was too late and I was dismayed, (and annoyed) to find the show sold out. Refusing to settle for being shut out, I sent Exit 97.7 WEXT a message asking if they had a line on any tickets, or a ticket. I’d go solo to this show for sure.

10 days later, I got a message back apologizing for the delayed response and inquiring if I was still in need of a miracle of sorts. Upon receiving my response confirming my situation, they were able to assist in my getting into the show. The Fantastic Show, I should say.  This band, and the opening duo Ida Mae, rocked the remaining paint off the ceiling of that spectacular, but sadly neglected, venue. Can’t somebody help this space to rise up and live up to its former glory?

How about this? Giving Tuesday is O.D. official on November 27th, 2018, but you can feel free to donate any time you’d like to organizations which you find important to support. If you’re looking for ideas, consider an independent radio station, like WEXT 97.7 or a historic property like the Cohoes Music Hall. Both would appreciate any assistance you could provide, I’m sure. Music makes you feel good – helping to support it feels even better.

Ida Mae

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Filed under Local, Music, Observations, Recommendations, upstate New York

Lit

I woke up Thanksgiving morning and started my usual routine – bathroom to pee, brush my teeth and clean my nightguard. I brush and then soak the night guard in some fizzy solution last year’s 8th-grade homeroom advised me on. To dissolve the tablet you toss it in very warm, but not hot water.

Since it’s first thing in the morning, I expect to run the water a few extra seconds to get the water to the tap from the hot water heater in the basement two stories down. Yesterday, though, was different. The water just didn’t get warmer. I immediately assumed I’d go to the basement to find a burst or wildly leaking hot water heater and anticipated dropping $750 or some other crazy-right-before-the-holidays price to replace and install a new one.

I decided to have coffee before venturing downstairs.

Twenty minutes later, I rounded the corner from the stairs to face the hot water heater…actually, heaters. There are two and I first needed to determine which was mine. Fortunately, neither had any water leaking. Good news. I touched the one on the right and it felt warm. No doubt, it was on. I moved towards the other one, on the left, covered in cobwebs. Great.

Of course, that one, mine, was cold. The pilot wasn’t lit. I went upstairs, did a little research (perhaps the thermocoupler needed to be replaced?) and returned with a flash light and some matches, not able to find the stick lighter in the drawer. Maybe it ran away with the hammer. I can’t find that either. Back downstairs, I crouched down and read directions for lighting the pilot and was relieved to find that I didn’t have to provide fire to light the pilot. It had its own ignitor. I thought back to when I first learned how to relight a hot water heater.

I was probably 12 or so. We had recently moved into what would be the longest term residence of my life until I bought my own house. The house felt special because it was ours, sort of. My mother’s boyfriend had bought it and done some work to make it habitable, after a period of vacancy. We could paint any color we wanted to, as long as we agreed to the same one, and we each had our own bedrooms. Without heat. Sometimes in the depths of winter, the interior of the windows would be frozen from exhaled breaths and dreams. We were teenagers and had lots of blankets. It was fine.

There were times when we didn’t have heat in the house other than that cast off by the wood burning stove my brother fed like a mother nurses a newborn. If the uninsulated, built above a dirt foundation, house got too cold we’d wake to have no water whatsoever. During really cold spells, that might be our situation for a few days. On occasion we had oil for the furnace and propane for hot water and cooking, but if we didn’t, we learned to adapt to what was available. It’s just how it was.

So, lighting that water heater, all those years ago. I remember being mad. I was a kid. This was an adult’s responsibility, not mine. I was frustrated. Other people just had hot water and heat all the time. They could boil things on the stove because they had gas. Why was our shit so inconsistent?

And I was scared. Gas scared me. Electricity scared me. Is that weird?

But, we needed hot water (not for the washing machine, we didn’t have one of those,) and there actually had been a propane delivery. We must have been caught up on our bills,* for a change. I wanted a shower and my brother wasn’t home to take care of it. I didn’t have a choice – it had to be taken care of and there was no one else.

The utility room was down the hall, on the other side of a door that led to a part of the house we didn’t use. It wasn’t fit to occupy with its glassless windows and concrete floors. The hot water heater was by far the newest piece of hardware and I kneeled, practically genuflecting, next to it. I remember there was a red button that needed to pressed, and maybe you had to count to three, before inserting a match into a blowhole of sorts and then, trusting that it was lit, the knob had to be released and turned a particular way. It felt intense. I hated it.

Just like yesterday, I lit it.

“our bills?” I was 12, they weren’t mine.

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Filed under Albany, Education, girlhood, house, musings, Uncategorized

Bread. Alone.

When I carried a two pound loaf of Genovese style pannetone and a dozen bagels in a bag topped with a single bialy around the city, I knew I had to acknowledge how much I sincerely love bread. It might just be my favorite food group and it definitely would be my desert island wish. Truth be told, the thought of being sensitive to gluten makes me sick to my stomach. Yes, I love bread.

The best part of an early Thanksgiving is a bonus week of Christmas eating.

Let me counts the ways…

Italian holiday breads such as panettone at Christmas and pane di Pasqua at Easter. I love a bread that marks a holiday, what can I say?

Irish breads like soda bread and whole wheat brown bread lightly dusted with oats. With rough cut orange marmalade, please.

Croissants, particularly those that leave a petite souvenir of their presence in the form of scattered flaky crumbs and a glisten of butter on one’s fingertips.

Bagels and bialys, with whipped cream cheese to smear on, for the win.

Focaccia like the one you get in Genoa, tasting salty like the ocean and herbaceous from rosemary as you tear into it.

Challah, yellow with eggs and used in every single bread pudding and French toast recipe forever and ever.

Naan, stuffed with slightly bitter garlic and a tad oily.

The Placid Baker makes some damn tasty breads.

German fruit stollen, the city cousin to the more well-known, country style dark fruit bread that is the perpetual butt of jokes.

My own version of no-knead bread in which I tweak the recipe a tad by increasing both the salt and the yeast.

What’s your favorite bread? Where do you get it?

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Filed under baking, Eating, favorites, Food, love, Observations, Recommendations

Gratitude

Whenever I do that character strengths test, you know the VIA one , my top characteristic is consistently Gratitude. I don’t know, maybe it comes from not having much in life when I was a child,* but I do find that I have a deep appreciation for all the wonderful people, opportunities and things I have in my life. Below are a few which immediately came to mind on this cold Thanksgiving morning.

  • The sun that rises and sets each day with the ability to light up the sky in a new and magical way.
  • Layers of clothing and heat to keep my family protected from extreme temperatures.
  • Children who love to travel and are still willing, at times, to share adventures with me. On the occasions when they take off without me, I appreciate the confidence with which they approach the world, and the experiences they gain, almost just as much.
  • My brother for just being there – always.
  • Friends – those who I’ve known forever, as well as those who have joined my life in more recent years. Having such an array of people who share my interests, humor, and daily past times makes my life incredibly rich.
  • The women who have provided me with their wisdom, strength and advice when my own parents were unavailable. They have given me gifts for which I can never adequately thank them.
  • The men who have taught me what I want, need and expect from a relationship, even if it has been a lesson based upon what they could not provide. Special shout out to the one who makes me smile currently.
  • Chances to travel to new places as well as revisit favorites. There’s so much to see!
  • My crazy dog  and the fat cat currently living in my house, both of  whom always welcome and return my love enthusiastically.
  • A refrigerator and pantry filled with food, a state I never take for granted.
  • You, a person who takes time from your life to read about mine. Thank you for being here.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

*I’m not suggesting we were starving or homeless, there just wasn’t much security or stability in my life when I was a child.

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Filed under Boys, family, friends, holidays, love, musings, Observations, relationships, travel, Uncategorized, writing

Grooving with The Suffers

I don’t know what you did Wednesday night, but I doubt you more fun than I did. It was one of those wonderful Albany nights that come along, with unpredictable frequency, when everything flowed. It was just a great night.

A big part of the enjoyable evening was a concert at The Egg. A band from Houston, called The Suffers, were playing and we had tickets for the 7:30 show. I had heard their music on WEXT 97.7 and liked their sound, but we weren’t sure what to expect not being overly familiar with the band.* Promptly at 7:30, the 8 member band walked onto the stage in the Egg’s smaller theater, and immediately heated up the underpopulated room.

The lead singer, the ripe Kam Franklin, acknowledged the size of the crowd and promised a great show, which she ultimately delivered. Her vibe is absolutely juicy with laughter, terrific banter and a voice that is rich with range and tone. While there were glimpses, to me, of Tina Turner and Brittany Howard, Kam is completely her own unique ray of light and was simply a joy to watch.

The tight 90-minute set was fun, sexy and completely captivating. The audience was appreciative and many took advantage of the available elbow room and danced in and out of their seats. It didn’t matter how many people were present. Those of us there, knew we were the lucky ones to be able to say we were at The Suffers first Albany show. You should make a point to be at their next one.

 

*Once again 97.7 WEXT feeds me new music.

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Filed under Albany, concerts, Events, favorites, friends, Local, Music, Recommendations, Uncategorized

Trying on Rent the Runway

I like clothes. Period. Honestly, I’ve been like this my whole life. One of my earliest memories is of a lacy pink “bra” and panties set that I had when I was about 3 years old. I recall whipping off any clothing that may have hidden this fabulous outfit whenever our doorbell rang, keeping our visitors waiting at the door until I was ready to  be seen. True story.  I’m still a bit enamored of lingerie, but most days I manage to keep my undergarments private, choosing instead to exert my sartorial sense in a more appropriate manner.

And, man do I love pretty dress.

There have been a bunch fun events in recent months and I’ve been giving my wardrobe a workout. I’ve got an embarrassing amount of clothing, with a fair amount of pretty dresses mixed in, but I was getting low on new looks. I didn’t want to buy another thing to add to my (double-sided) garment rack, nor was I interested in spending money on a garment with limited capacity to be repeated…

What a perfect time to sample Rent the Runway.

I signed up for an account, but not a plan, and began stalking the site. Eventually, I downloaded the app and started receiving fairly aggressively frequent emails. No worries. It left me in a position to sit back and see what kind of offers came my way, finally jumping when I scored a 30-day Unlimited Plan for $106. I was able to select and borrow four items at a time with unlimited exchanges. There were no cleaning, shipping or insuring charges and most of the gowns I had my eye on were part of the plan. Great.

I ordered my items on a Thursday and received them the next day, all bundled together in a compact fabric bag looking surprisingly small. I unzipped the bag and hung the garments on back-of-the-door hooks, giving the wrinkles some time to loosen up.

Then the party began!

It was like the best dressing room in your favorite four stores – lighting that familiar because it was in your home, all your shoes in one place, and every piece of lingerie necessary right in your drawer. Winning.

I loved one of the two gowns and, fortunately, it was the one which was my first choice for an event next month. This dress would have cost $80 to rent, had I not purchased a plan and instead simply rented this particular item for 4 days. There were two sweater dresses, also, for work and weekend wear, and one of the two has worked out really well. I think I’m going to keep it another week and wear it for a third occasion. The other? Not so much. The fit wasn’t great and that’s kind of everything with a sweater dress, don’t you think?

I’ll keep you posted on the remainder of the month with an update or two. Share your experiences with a clothing delivery/rental service in the comments!

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Filed under Albany, beauty, concerts, Dinner, Events, Fashion, favorites, holidays, NYC, Observations, Recommendations, Uncategorized, upstate New York