Monthly Archives: April 2020

The day my middle son turned 21

856E786C-CB4F-453C-BEDC-C394254736D6It doesn’t even seem possible that the boys’ dad and I have successfully reared two 21+ year-old offspring. I think I’ll pause here for a moment of quiet celebration. Feel free to join me.

Okay – so, twenty-one can be a real defining moment of adulthood. A milestone of sorts. With this particular kid of mine, I believe twenty-one is a solid piece of punctuation in a young life lived well.

My pregnancy with this middle son was so much less idyllic than my first had been. Of course it was – I now knew (some of) all of the things that could go wrong. Early delivery and bad presentations and terrible medical outcomes…we’d experienced those with our first child and were certainly nervous about a repeat experience.

Fortunately, the second L&D was much different. As was pretty much everything else with this kid. He was bald, with a complexion that was blotchy and reddish. He was big, nearly off the charts for length, then height. And while Liam had been placid, this baby was calm only as long as he got what he wanted.

Within a few years, we knew what he wanted most was to be able to go. Actually, his very first word was “Go!” yelled when the car in front of us didn’t accelerate quickly enough when the light turned to green. He climbed out of his crib at 8 months, ran at 9.5 and had earned the nickname “The Runner” by 18 months. It’s just who he is.

His first bite of solid food was pizza crust stolen from his brother’s plate. He almost choked on a bite of bagel a few weeks later, but continued to have a fondness for carbs that he may have inherited from me. If that was indeed confirmed to be the case, it would not be the only way in which we are similar.

I’m not inclined to take credit for how anyone, but myself, might turn out.  People seem to become who they are supposed to be despite all of our efforts, don’t they? Yet, this young man reminds me of myself. Often. I believe his humor and self sufficiency and ability to clean a bathroom, all come from me. I think he knows it, too.

The night before his birthday, my son, his brothers and his dad, and I, had dinner together. There was lots of laughter and too much fried chicken, chicken which my son promised to tell his roommates I myself cooked, if I let him take the leftovers home.  I knew how lucky we all were to be able to celebrate.

Two down, one to go.

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Filed under aging, birthdays, Boys, family, moms, Observations, Restaurants

Stream of Covid consciousness

19C45110-9E6B-44D0-A3BD-72BBCBAA6912This crisis is starting to feel like it’s been going on for a long time. The colors of the construction paper window rainbows are fading.

The city without people looks beautiful in a stark sort of way. We live in a pretty place.

Wearing a mask suffocates me, yet another reason medical personnel deserve all of our respect during these horrific times. I can’t imagine wearing one, with a face shield on top, for 14 hours a day.

Can this incredibly challenging situation prompt us to “reset” society?  It would be beyond tragic if things just went back the way they were P.C.

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Isolating without a partner makes one think about what they might want in a potential partner. I imagine isolating with a partner does the same.

It’s really hard to stay on task, something I’m just realizing may not be a situation exclusive to myself.

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I worry about social distancing as the weather gets warmer.

Has a cough ever sounded as scary to you? How many times a day do you wonder if you might have been exposed to the virus?

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My #sixwordstory would have to be: My dog has never been happier.

I’ve taken to putting cash in my pocket when I got out for my daily walk. I call it my “walking around money” and try to find a way to spend it at a local, independent business during my walk.

C5E8033F-0655-4716-997B-F85C442434B0Days seem really long, but the weeks are going by quickly. Losing all of this time with friends and loved ones is something we’ll never be able to recover. I hope we learn to value those shared experiences more than ever once we have them in our lives again.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, friends, Local, medical, musings, Observations, Spring, upstate New York

They said I’d get tired of the Bakmi

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My leftovers!

More than thirty years ago, when I was an undergraduate working my way through college, I landed a job at Yono’s Restaurant in Albany’s Robinson Square. The cuisine and level of service was beyond my prior experience, but my coworkers and the the Purnomos helped me to expand and elevate my skills. I learned at least as much at 289 Hamilton Street as I did at UAlbany and the friends I made there continue to be part of my life all these years later.

While there was a certain inconsistency in the family meal we were served during our shift (Pre-service? Post-service? Mid-Service?), no one there ever went hungry. A frequent accompaniment to our dinner was an Indonesian house specialty, Bakmi Goreng. This distant relative to lo-mein was a revelation to me. I had never tasted anything like it…noodles coated in a slightly sweetish soy, with house spice, cabbage and a garnish of scallions and fried shallots, ramped up with fiery sambal…it was a life changer.

I recall being told by more veteran Yono’s employees that I would grow tired of Bakmi. Eventually, they said, the sight of it would cure my appetite without a single noodle crossing my lips. I worked at that location for the better part of ten years and I swear that never happened.

As the Purnomos grew their business, relocating twice, I continued to lend a hand when they needed one. Often, I took a foil container of Bakmi home with me at the end of my shift. I wasn’t tired of it. When my babies were born, the meal I wanted delivered to the hospital was Bakmi. I was never disappointed – Donna and my favorite Indonesian treat always delivered.

Yesterday, there was a pop-up Bakmi takeout service at Yono’s. My neighbors and I had both independently pre-ordered servings for a 5:00 pickup and decided to just send one person to collect our treat. Boy, was I glad Ken went instead of me. You see, it seems that Bakmi continues to be a beloved dish not just for me, but for many, many others. The line of cars Ken encountered extended from the parking behind Yono’s all the way to the Palace Theater on Clinton Avenue!

These are incredibly tough times for small business owners. Despite the extended wait to receive our meals, there was nothing but appreciation for the outstanding efforts of the staff at Yono’s. My Bakmi was delicious and it managed to both fill my belly and my heart. I’m not tired of Bakmi.

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Filed under Albany, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, friends, Local, Recommendations, upstate New York

The devil went down to Georgia…

9FF9CD42-A552-49B4-BA54-E762D69BC939…for a haircut. Or was it a new tattoo? Maybe he needed to get to the gym or see the latest film in the theater. I simply can’t imagine what he needed to do that was really worth risking lives in a state that has the eighth highest positive rate of Covid-19 diagnoses in the country.

While Governor Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen nonessential businesses, at a time when his state continues to trend up in terms of new cases diagnosed, may be the definition of reckless endangerment, his edict is eclipsed by the mind blowing stupidity of Donald Trump. I mean, I just can’t even with the man I refer to as the “Idiot in Chief.”

D2E9B4B5-2AE1-438B-9F30-D53F4A5D8208First, we were completely “on top of it,” which was remarkable when you consider DJT had proclaimed the “China virus” a “hoax.” We were advised to not worry because the virus would hopefully become “weaker with warm weather” and was not as dangerous as the flu. By April, all would be well and we’d be back to work. Trump predicted “packed churches all over our country” by Easter.

Well, we know that wasn’t remotely realistic, despite his assurances that the virus “would disappear one day” just “like a miracle.” Thousands of people in our country have died from the Coronavirus, including a number who ingested a malaria drug after POTUS suggested it might help those suffering from the virus, “What do you have to lose? Take it.”

The latest idiocy promoted by our leader has prompted Lysol and medical professionals, as well as governments around the world, to quickly refute his suggestion that injecting disinfectant or irradiating bodies with UV light might be a valid treatment plan. Are you kidding me?

Yesterday I was able to purchase every item on my grocery store wish list. Yes, I bought a 12-pack of tp, a box of tissues, Ajax and a gallon of bleach. I won’t be ingesting any of those items. That bottle of tequila, though, might be my best bet for escaping the ignorant, ill thought recommendations and actions of elected officials like Kemp and Trump.

Stay safe, friends.

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Filed under medical, News, politics, Rants, stress

A False Spring

How about this weather? I’m not one to wish winter away, but I miss admit that I sucked my teeth in disbelief Wednesday morning when I looked out the sliding glass door to my snow dusted deck. Are you kidding me? I think Spring 2020 has felt exceptionally pokey in arriving and I’m convinced it’s because our winter, which began in November with an epic snowfall, was ultimately insipid and lacking in drama, weather-wise. It’s just been a slog of consistent grey that I find to be exhausting.

During this time of social distancing and isolation it isn’t easy to stay motivated or seek new challenges. I mean, how much can one really do to push the boundaries of comfort when limited to the confines of one’s home? Luckily, libraries are still open for business and continue to provide opportunities for those interested in expanding their repertoire of experiences.

Wednesday, in honor of Earth Day, the Albany Public Library Association and Albany Poets organized an online reading marathon and I signed up to participate. The online form asked for readers to indicate what they planned to share and my immediate impulse was an excerpt from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. It’s my favorite of his books and I have reread it many times over the years, each time extracting new messages and insights.

As the day of the event drew closer, I began to grow nervous. Seeing the selections others were reading made me doubt my choice. There was no message about the environment or activism in the work I had chosen. Had I picked the wrong thing to read? Should I try to find something else?

I reread the chapter, “A False Spring,” I intended to share and decided it would work. My reading might not be directly related to Earth Day, but it did provide a much needed escape to a world gone by, the Paris of the 1920s. I recommitted to my selection.

When was the last time you did something that scared you? In public? I can answer that question without hesitation – yesterday. As my scheduled time approached, I became increasingly nervous. What if the technology failed? Why had I selected a piece with so many damn French words? Would my choice of reading material be understood? Was it too damn long?

If you’re interested to see how things went, check out the YouTube link. You’ll find me at about 9:23 on the video. Despite not having the camera angle quite right, I’m satisfied with my effort. I did not embarrass myself and that’s a victory!

 There were some awesome readers (Notorious South Troy poet, Mary Panza, Albany’s Mayor Sheehan, Albany Public Library Trustee Karen Strong, Common Council representative Ginnie Farrell, local booster Elissa Kane, UAlbany adjunct professor Susan Pedo…) whom I am proud to consider friends and it was wonderful to invite them into my home to share words which they found important.

Let the opening sentence inspire and challenge you to seek happiness wherever you might find yourself.

When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.

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Filed under Albany, Books, Events, favorites, friends, ideas, Libraries, Local, Observations, Recommendations, Spring

Miss. Lilly edition.

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Are you missing fresh flowers from the grocery store or garden? I am.

Things I will miss when the current lock down ends:

  • Long walks with Jeter and the feeling that he finally is getting enough of my attention.
  • Roads with less cars and sidewalks with more people.
  • Eating meals when I’m hungry without regard to time.
  • My comfort with going barefaced. I don’t usually wear very much makeup, but I used to hesitate before leaving the house without mascara. Now I don’t.
  • The Cuomo briefings.

Things I do miss during this state of isolation and social distancing:

  • Massages and pedicures and hair salon services.
  • Not hearing from the Idiot-in-chief aka Donald Trump.
  • Shared experiences like restaurant meals and movies in the theater.
  • Seeing my students.
  • Getting together with my girls. We’re overdue.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Eating, favorites, Food, friends, Gardens, Local, Movies, musings, News, Observations, politics, Random, Spring, upstate New York

Painterly thoughts

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Standard home project outfit, n’est pas?

It’s been just about exactly twenty-one years since I last painted the upstairs bathroom. I’m not always so clear with years and dates, but this one is easy to remember because I was pregnant with my second son. My water broke as I raced to get the newly renovated third floor of our house prepared for our expanding family. I was on the bathroom floor scrubbing grout when my labor began – and my interest in hands on household projects ended.

Other than swapping out the vanity about a dozen years ago, I’ve basically done nothing to that bathroom in this century. It’s been the boys’ bathroom for a long time and, by the way, boys can be gross. There wasn’t a lot of incentive for me to invest in prettying it up when the guys (and the Enzo cat) weren’t the most tidy of shower mates. But, when the shower leaked, again, I finally committed to investing some money and improving this room.

The faulty shower was the natural starting point, because that was where the major problem was. The shitty shower we had initially installed, because it was cheap, needed to go.

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I found a great contractor who showed up when he said he would and was incredibly easy to work with, and got started with a firm budget in mind. Along the way the job has evolved to include a few more things, like extended tiling, more expensive tile than originally budgeted, a new toilet…, but we’ve mostly maintained the budget and I’m happy with the value of my investment.

As you know, if you’ve taken on a project like this before, once you do one thing, everything else looks crappy. I think I want to pick out new light fixtures to freshen things up even more. Seems like new towels might be a nice touch, too. Maybe even a plant.

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I took on the task of painting the bathroom myself and finally was motivated Saturday. I gathered together everything I needed, and picked up a few necessary items at my local hardware store, Bridgeford on Delaware Avenue.  Turning on a 60s Apple Music playlist, I began prepping.

First, the walls needed to be wiped. Next, the floor was vacuumed with a shop vac. Then the taping began. Using newspapers and blue painter’s* tape, I started taping off the tile and trim work. Then I mopped. There was a time when (like prior to my experience yesterday) I despised this prep work involved with painting. It just always felt so damn tedious and took too much time.

Something was different, though, yesterday. Instead of dashing through the prep process, I decided to slow down. I’m older. I now know that cleaning up one’s mess is a far more tiresome task than honoring the process of getting ready for creating change.

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Not helpful

After sending out a social media post asking for help in opening my can of paint,** I got busy rolling and brushing the walls. As I covered the soft lilac on the walls with bright white, my thoughts were free to roam. I considered the countless ways my life is different than the one I was living last time I painted those walls.

The baby filling my belly then is turning 21 at the end of this month. Time certainly does move on.

I coated the walls and let my thoughts travel from the past to the future and, finally, to today. There have been so many experiences and adventures and moments in my life and many of them have occurred within the “confines” of my years spent in this house. Painting it shouldn’t be isn’t a chore, it’s really more of a gift to this place which has sheltered me and those I love.

This morning, before breakfast and coffee, I put on my painting clothes and did a second coat. I think I may even need to do a third, a realization which no longer discourages me because I’m kind of enjoying the combination of physical work, but mental indulgence, that painting involves. Covering a no longer favored color, while recalling special memories, makes for a solid win-win.

This bathroom redo has been a very good investment.

I can’t wait to get to the bedrooms.

 

*I’m really unsure about this usage…painters’?

**A flathead screwdriver was the most recommended tool.

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Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, DelSo, family, house, love, musings, Observations, Spring