Category Archives: beauty

Sheltering in place with Jeter

B6F2E0BF-104F-421B-AF8F-B7EB17AE4991Before you get the wrong idea, Jeter is my 85# yellow lab, not to be confused with classic Yankee icon Derek Jeter. My guy can catch a ball like nobody’s business, but that’s pretty much where the similarities between the two end.

My Jeter came into our family in February of 2014 as an eight week old pup. We had lost our previous dog, Cassidy, a few months previously and I didn’t like the emptiness of the house when my boys were at their Dad’s house. Mid winter in upstate New York isn’t an ideal time of the year to house train a new puppy, especially when your adorable ball of white fluff dog blends right in with the heaps of snow we had that year. I did, however, appreciate the constant presence of this new companion. He became my dog. 3763BF8C-ED18-467A-AC73-DCA4783F4FE7

The first year or so were hard, but we made it through. Jeter grew rapidly and left a path of destruction behind him. His first day at home alone produced two broken lamps. Months later, he completely destroyed a favorite pair of Aigner sandals. There was a time when he had a thing about bed linens and would literally eat them. A total weirdo, I tell you.

He was neutered at the recommended age with the expectation that he might calm down a bit. Not so much, as has been noted by each of my sons with some degree of bitterness. I’m sure the topic of castration will work it’s way into their future therapy sessions one day.

Even with his family jewels removed, Jeter remains a very assertive dog. He’s wicked strong and there have been a handful of times when I’ve been mildly injured (a scrap, a cut, a bruise) as I struggled to gain control of him.

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Sometimes it feels like Jeter and I are in a competition of sorts – whose strength will diminish faster? As far as I can tell, at the moment we’re neck and neck. It’s just too soon to say in which direction things are going.

I may not know where I stand in terms of dominating physical strength with my dog, but I do know he is my last big/male dog. I’m pretty strong (shoutout The Hot Yoga Spot!) but am now coming to accept that I’m probably approaching the downward spiral of my own physical abilities. Managing a dog that weighs 65% of your own weight is difficult, especially when there are squirrels involved.

In the ten weeks we’ve been sheltering together at home, Jeter’s behavior has changed. He seems a tad more calm these days and I have to attribute that to the amount of time he and I now spend together on the regular. In the past, if he felt neglected, he would toss my pillows into a pile, making a mess of my tidily made bed. He’s only done that once during this prolonged together time.

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As I move about my house, often flitting from room to room as I seek comfort and the ability to focus on a task, Jeter follows me, settling himself either next to me or with a direct view to my activities. His presence comforts me, and it seems the feeling is reciprocated.

Together we go on epic walks, wandering around the streets of Albany and the paths of Capital Hills Park Golf Course and the Normanskill farm. Sometimes, we walk for hours before making our way home, where Jeter drinks deeply before falling to sleep on the nearest soft surface. There’s a satisfaction I feel about his exhaustion that is reminiscent of the days when I worked to wear out my toddlers in the hopes of gaining a moment’s quiet.

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It isn’t always easy to focus on the bright spots during a dark and scary time. Having a companion, canine or otherwise, who finds joy in simply being by next to you, helps to make this unnatural isolation far less lonely. My Jeter may not be a bonafide celebrity but, right now, he’s playing a starring role in my life beautifully.

 

Note: a version of this post was accepted for inclusion in Trolley, the online journal of the NYS Writers Institute. 

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, Exercise, family, Local, musings, Normanskill, Observations, upstate New York, writing

Greek whine

8D5167CA-F3FC-4D28-85D0-705B0FE3B728In case you missed it, I really fell hard for Greece last year. That two week trip had provided a sampling of sights and this year, I intended to go back with more focus, spending 2020’s two weeks in just three locations. Two of the planned locations were repeats from last year, places I wanted to explore more deeply.

When this whole Covid-19 thing started getting really ugly, I couldn’t imagine my trip planned for an entire 4 months into the future wouldn’t occur as  scheduled. What do I know? This is my first pandemic.

In early April, my transatlantic flights were cancelled by American Airlines. Receiving a refund is in process and has been fairly painless so far. Not willing to immediately declare my trip cancelled, I looked for other travel options. I’ve been keeping up on reports out of Europe about the havoc from this international health crisis and I’m in contact with two people in Greece, one in Athens, one on a larger island. After considering the information I was receiving, I believed there was still a solid possibility that Greece would be open for mid-July.

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Taking advantage of a great price, ($530 r/t w luggage), I bought a new ticket to get me to Athens and, presumably, back. The transaction felt pretty risk free because if the flight were cancelled, I would have a year from purchase to use the voucher. Also, United has been my choice in recent years for their (formerly) nonstop EWK to PSP flight for the holidays. I could use the credit then.

Barely two weeks later, that nonstop United flight was cancelled. Adding insult to injury,* I hadn’t even received the courtesy of an email notification. I had stumbled on the cancellation as I was seeking my details about my reservation and noted a message in my United mailbox.

After speaking with a customer service representative, I felt pretty comfortable about the situation. It seemed that my voucher would entitle (not a word I often own) me to a comparable ticket on a future flight even if there was a price increase.  Cool.

I took a moment yesterday to take a look at flight availability. There’ve been some positive indicators around much of the world and many people want to start moving around again. Obviously, I’m one of them. Very quickly, going old school with Travelocity, I located a newly scheduled United flight on my preferred days. The seats were much more expensive, but I phoned United and, again, received capable and professional assistance. I was booked on the flight for my previously scheduled dates and charged no additional money, despite the fare now being approximately twice as much as I had paid last month.

So, maybe third time’s the charm?

As I said in a travel site post:

If my flight remains scheduled and my hosts in Greece still want me to come and the airports are open and I’ve met all the conditions in place required for traveling, I intend to go to Greece this summer. If I am unable to meet these standards, I won’t go. I’ve sheltered in place, worked from home, abided by social distancing, wear a mask as necessary and wash my hands meticulously and frequently. I’ve accepted all of the recommendations set forth by the government, so if the government loosens restrictions, I will continue to use their rules to guide me. I’ve adjusted my plans (canceled 2 weeks in Spain preceding Greece) to minimize risk and am traveling alone. I’m not reckless, but as an adult I can make decisions for myself.

There’s no tragedy in my staying home, as necessary, but there’s no crime in my popping open a bottle of Assyrtiko and making a wish, either.

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How are you managing anticipated travel plans and arrangements?

*this is obvious hyperbole, friends..

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Filed under beauty, Europe, favorites, Greece, medical, Observations, Summer, travel, Vermont, Wine

10 Reasons it’s a good day

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1. The sun is shining and the skies are blue.

2. It’s sundress warm.

3. My son liked the banana pancakes I made for breakfast. 83EC8C0A-3068-49ED-99AF-50CFE3E255DB

 

 

 

4. I’m not isolating in a bad relationship. Have you seen the domestic violence rates?

5. I found a lost sock when I unfolded a crisp cotton sheet to replace the cozy flannel ones on my bed.

6. So far, my loved ones are all healthy.

7. My house smell lovely from two little glasses filled with flowers.

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8. All my chores are done and the day is mine.

9. The last coat of paint in the bathroom is on and the project, including beautiful new vanity, is expected to be complete this week. Then – on to the back bedroom.

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10. While I’m distressed about not being able to travel, I have a home that is safe and comfortable and that I am able to afford. None of that is taken for granted.


Hope you’re staying healthy and your Sunday is equally good. Don’t forget to be kind, including to yourself.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Boys, breakfast, Eating, Europe, family, favorites, Flowers, Local, musings, Observations, relationships, Spring, sunday, travel, upstate New York, vacation

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

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

Rise up

073AB6A4-FF90-4924-9E8F-44486E903D1BI took this photo on Good Friday, 2019. It was early morning, a short time after I had landed in Dublin, and I recall feeling so fortunate to be exactly where I was at that very moment. It had been quite a few years since I been to Ireland and this long awaited trip nearly got waylaid by the whole Boeing Jet thing when my original flight was cancelled. A few more $$, and a drive to Hartford rather than Newburgh, got me out of the country and precisely where I wanted to be. It was a really special trip.

Heading into this fifth week of social distancing has got me feeling more than a little lost. My motivation to take on household projects is waning and I’m hungry for the buzz I get from traveling. I love my home and I enjoy being in it, but being in a city or taking in a new view feeds my soul.  I miss it.

The plan for Summer 2020 was is for a four week trip, 2 weeks with my youngest son in Spain followed by 2 weeks in Greece with friends. Our flights and accommodations are booked, with a significant amount of money invested in this greatly anticipated adventure. We’re scheduled to visit Seville, Madrid and Valencia, all new places for both of us. I had hoped to meet up with a childhood friend who had also planned to be with his family in Madrid, as well as an online friend who resides in Seville with his significant other. We have reservations to take a kayaking tour and were imagining early morning walks and late night tapas. I so want to go.

After our two weeks in Spain, Q will fly home and I’m to continue to Athens. I found the cutest Airbandb and managed to book it for three non consecutive nights as I come and go between the city, Paros Island and Nafplio, an ancient coastal city on the mainland. My accommodations in Parikia on Paros are rented from the same woman I rented from last year, giving me a sense of familiar despite the tremendous distance between Greece and New York. I’m excited to complete the entire Byzantine Road walk and explore AntiParos and even more beaches than we enjoyed in July 2019. I can almost taste the crisp white wine, delicate pastry and feta that combined to be my Greek diet just last summer. 

I haven’t yet given up on this trip happening. I understand that travel may not be an option, even a few months from now, but I’m not cancelling this vacation until I’m absolutely convinced that it won’t be possible. My wish to travel is a luxurious dream and I get that. I know there are far too many people who currently have much more basic needs which they hope to meet during these challenging months and I feel incredibly fortunate to be healthy and continuing to work and earn my salary. I am very, very lucky.

On this day which celebrates resurrection and miracles, I’m just going to believe that anything is possible. I hope you do too.

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Filed under beauty, Boys, Europe, favorites, Greece, holidays, musings, Spain, Summer, travel, vacation

Maintaining the six foot rule

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Flowers in bunches are beautiful. People, not so much.

Walking these days take some attention. I mean, it always demanded that we have our eyes and ears open, but walking in the midst of a pandemic requires an additional sense  – as in common sense.

As Jeter and I meander our way through the street of Albany, I now have to consciously take of note of people who might cross paths with us and decide how to best evade them. Cross the street? Go wide? Make eye contact? Smile?

It can all feel a little awkward.

As I walked yesterday I considered how the act of being a contemporary pedestrian was forged into the brains and muscle memory of a lot of 80s kids. We were raised on Centipede, Frogger, Pac-Man and Asteroids. We know how to avoid shit that pops up in front of us and gets in our way. Navigating through perils was a part of our childhood.

The sunshine helps and I appreciated the feel of it on my back Saturday afternoon. Put on some warm clothes and get outside while you can. Breathe deep. Take care of yourselves and each other. Six feet away beats six feet under by miles.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Exercise, friends, Gardens, musings, Observations, Recommendations, sick, Spring, stress, upstate New York