Gorgeous welcome courtesy of Kate Fleming of the Floral Garden
Even when winter has been relatively mild there’s still excitement for spring, particularly in upstate New York. As the crocus and daffodils start popping through last season’s faded mulch, I can’t help but begin looking forward to afternoons on the deck (or stoop) and sandals on my feet. Looks like we’ve almost made it to another spring, friends! Yesterday I got a giant dose of the upcoming season in a floral fashion when I visited the second edition of Cathedral in Bloom Albany’s amazing Cathedral of All Saints. This gothic edifice, which always seems to be overlooked in favor of the more visible Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, is absolutely magnificent. The craftsmanship and architecture of the building provided an excellent backdrop to the artistic and fragrant floral displays and I appreciated the spaciousness of the minimally furnished interior.
Very Madonna ”Like a Virgin,” no?
In years past when there was a similar event hosted by the NYS Museum, I was a regular visitor. The inspiration of the museum exhibits always provided a cohesive theme to the floral arrangements and, while I miss that component, the new venue allows for a fresh approach and provides opportunity for growth as the event gains traction.
I imagine the weekend opening hours will be more densely attended than yesterday’s opening day, but parking should be readily available – and if it isn’t the weather forecast looks inviting. May as well take a walk and grab a drink or bite to eat while you’re downtown. Plan accordingly, breathe deeply and enjoy the preview of spring!
Hope you’re making it through this spell of humidity and heat. Greece was really hot, but there always seemed to be a breeze and the heat was dry, which made it different. Instead of my hair springing into curls and frizz, my skin screamed for moisturizer and sunscreen in massive amounts. It’s summer, what can you do?
Well, I’m glad you asked because I have an idea for you – get yourself to Albany’s beautiful Washington Park Lakehouse and check out IntheHeights. We went the other night and it was absolutely a joy to watch. The performances were inspired, the voices soared above the excellent orchestra and the dancing was mesmerizing. I loved it.
Take my opinion, of course, with a grain of salt because I am no theatrical critic. What I can say with confidence is this – I believe this production is the best one I’ve ever seen at the Lakehouse. Granted, I haven’t been to them all, especially in recent years, but I’ve hit quite a number of them over the years and this cast and crew is exceptional. When I contrast this show with one I saw last year at a local theater, Into the Heights easily blows it out of the water.
I’ve never seen Hamilton and was unfamiliar with the story told in this early Lin-Manuel Miranda musical. The message, however, remains timely especially When You’re Home which made my eyes fill with tears. You’ve got to see this show!
While it may not have officially been a holiday weekend, it sure felt like one! It started on Thursday with the first Alive at Five for the season. I shot photos on a beautiful evening down by the Hudson for a Seen gallery and it didn’t matter at all that I knew no one present including any of the bands. The sun was shining and, after the rainy spring we’ve experienced, that was enough.
Friday night was the Albany Institute of History and Art’s annual gala and it was a wonderful night. Other than the meal, all of the events were held outside on what was a spectacular evening. Unlike the situation on Thursday, though, there were dozens upon dozens of familiar faces and, along with copious amounts of wine, conversations flowed. Standing on the front lawn of the Institute and looking across Washington Avenue at the building which had been my very first Albany home, was a remarkable reminder of how I’ve grown to be a part of this special city.
Saturday began with a yoga class and flowed into a mellow day of exploring Lark Street’s annual Art on Lark. This is such a great event and, again, the weather gods provided abundant sunshine for the crowds who were browsing artwork, enjoying a bite to eat or soaking up the sounds of one of the performers providing entertainment. Like the previous night, there were so many familiar faces that I was happy to see – and photograph. The evening came with a walk for ice cream and even more music, as the open mic at Emack & Bolio’s provided free entertainment to go with my two scoops.
After yet another refreshingly cool night’s sleep, Sunday started with beer yoga at Fort Orange Brewing. Like my Saturday morning practice, this class was lightly attended but I’m so glad I went. It is always one of my favorites, especially when the “garage” gets opened up and the sun shines in. Definitely the perfect prelude to Albany’s Pride Parade.
What can I say about the Parade? Well, it was amazing and I couldn’t stop smiling. The joy radiating was overwhelming and, while the event was for many the highlight of a month’s worth of LGTBQ activities, the Pride I felt in my city was tremendous. Love is love, friends, and that emotion beamed down upon every person present as warm as the day’s sunshine. It was a fantastic weekend. How was yours?
In the past decade there was a run of not so great holiday weekends in my life. There had been discoveries and recollections which had left in their wake a slight dread when a three or four-day holiday weekend approached. A good time for all was not guaranteed since unexpected and bad news seemed to arrive as reliably as holiday weekend sales on new cars and large appliances – and I’m not interested in buying any of those things. I’m good, thanks.
This recent extended weekend, though, was different. There was a loose plan for a quick overnight getaway in the Berkshires. Cocktails in a cool and semi-swanky bar bid adieu to the work week and hello to a mini vaca in a delicious way. Museum passes were borrowed from the public library for free admission to a museum that I’ve wanted to visit for some time. The forecast changed from rainy to sunny, a positive change that provided an obvious example of how things can also unexpectedly improve.
Strolling through farmers markets and sipping a Bellini on a sunny terrace are two of the most perfect things to do under blue skies. Especially with someone who treats you well and makes you laugh.
The weekend rolled on with a full morning on the deck with the Sunday NYT, followed by a party with interesting people and a fire which left my hair and clothing pungent with the smell of wood smoke. Spreading four bags of mulch and planting the flowers and herbs from Saturday’s market was Monday’s warmup to a five mile run – with an al fresco nap sandwiched between the more vigorous activities. The grill is definitely back in the rotation and I can’t believe I forgot how easy it is cook dinner when there are not pots or pans left behind to scrub. Ah, the almost summer vibe is strong…
I don’t know that I’ll ever completely forget the bad holiday weekends I’ve experienced, but I also don’t know that’s necessarily a negative thing. We should remember important things and lessons learned, especially when they help one to appreciate their current situation.
Memorial Day Weekend 2019 was, at last, a completely sunny, relaxing, fun, leisurely and most of all, happy, stretch of days. I hope yours was similar.*
*If it wasn’t, keep the faith. There’s always next year – or July 4th.
I didn’t know how much I admired that centuries old building.
I wouldn’t have predicted how sad I would feel to see it aflame.
I wasn’t interested in reading Victor Hugo.
I didn’t truly appreciate how fortunate I was to have visited a cathedral and lit a candle for my father in an edifice more than 800 years old.
I approached antiquities with the false knowledge that they would always be there.
I couldn’t have predicted how annoyed I would get hearing “Notre Dame is their World Trade Center.” Nope, doesn’t compare. One was centuries old, the other less than 30 years-old. One was a religious icon, the other a symbol of financial dominance. One was presumably an accident, the other was intentional murder. Do I have to continue?
I wouldn’t have considered how effortlessly the Catholic Church could repair the physical damages because of the tremendous wealth (~$30 billion) they possess.
I might not have wondered if there is some sort of cruel justice for all of the victims of clergy sexual abuse.
I had no haste to visit Paris, but now I really want to get back there again. Vite.
There are two things that people say about Albany* that make me crazy, ok, maybe three, and on the top of the list is “there’s nothing to do.” As someone working really hard to pace themselves, I’m going to tell you right now that that’s crazy talk – there is so much activity in Albany these days, that it’s a struggle to not overextend one’s self by trying to go to every single cool thing happening. Truth.
Late winter isn’t known as the most hospitable time of the year in upstate New York, but we’ve gotten really lucky in Albany and have welcomed some terrific performers to the area already this year. Thursday night I had the chance to see a musician, Steve Earle, whom I’ve been interested to see ever since reading a biography about him. This bonafide American low-key legend rolls through town every so often and friends who were unable to make use of their tickets, were generous enough to make their seats available. And, they were great seats!
Shannon McNally opened the evening with a set of the perfect length, perhaps 40 minutes. She was charming with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a voice that shone particularly well when she and Steve harmonized together. While it didn’t seem that McNally had been to our Egg before, she’s obviously been performing for years and played a set that was really easy to enjoy. I’m still chuckling over a remark she made while gently touching upon life and politics. She quoted her grandfather with the following:
In a hundred years, all new people.
As for the headliner, Steve Earle did not disappoint. The “tools” of his trade, 6 various stringed instruments, were arranged around him like a womb and he played each of them with incredible technical skill and respect. His prowess reminded me of Richard Thompson, in a way. But, when I hear Thompson I can’t help but look for the other guitar player who surely most be playing simultaneously, because one guitar player can’t possibly create that much sound. When it came to Earle, though, my eyes were seeking the additional musicians who had to be contributing to the sound with instruments beyond this one single guitar. He just made so much music! Genius comes in many flavors, friends.
If you haven’t seen Steve Earle, or Richard Thompson, you need to get on that. Keep your eyes open and you’ll be rewarded next time either of them swing through Albany. And don’t miss Shannon McNally – she’s got her own special magic, too.
*(In case you’re interested in the other two things rounding out my list – “there’s no parking” and “the taxes are too high.”)
There was a time in my life when holidays and birthdays often came with gifts of jewelry. Earrings were a popular choice and I was given some really beautiful ones that are special to me and probably even valuable. Like those .5 carat diamond studs of which I managed to lose one. Twice.
There was one pair in particular which quickly earned a spot in my rotation of ear accessories because they were reminiscent of Lady Di’s engagement ring. The studs with large oval sapphires (my birthstone) surrounded by small diamonds were about as close to Princess status as I was destined to achieve and I just loved them.
Except, they were heavy and pulled my ear lobes uncomfortably. In the hopes that I would avoid losing one of these beauties, I had them modified into screw backs which ultimately only added to the discomfort because the posts were now thicker and caused some pain when I put them on and took them off. They languished in a drawer for years, only seeing the light of day on the rare occasion when I would resign myself to suffering with them in my ears for the sake of the perfect outfit.
Recently, though, I decided I needed to have them modified to make them more wearable and I knew just where to bring them – Byron & Gill Mercantile on Lark St.Siobhan Byron had previously created a necklace for me from a pair of ruby and diamond earrings, that single .5 carat diamond and a dangling ruby as a self-gift for my 50th and I knew she’d be able to help me wear these earrings more frequently. I left them with her and a couple of weeks later, I had myself a new pair of infinitely more comfortable to wear earrings. The price was reasonable (approx $150) for the quality of work(wo)manship and I am thrilled to be able to wear these pretty blue earrings with pride instead of pain.
If you’re looking to have a special piece created or a current item modified, I highly recommend Siobhan and Byron & Gill. Stop in and tell her I sent you.