Category Archives: News

C-ing past Corona

0DB47822-785B-4765-87CE-FB02C5144FA6I don’t know about you, but I’m getting more than a little overwhelmed by the constant barrage of CoronaVirus related news. I’m feeling anxious and isolated and sort of cast adrift as I struggle to figure out how to do my job from home.

While I’ve been escaping with live streamed yoga classes, professional Zoom meetings and binge watching Sex and the City, it isn’t enough. For the rest of my waking hours, irregular as they may be, there are two C words beyond Corona that are occupying my time – cooking and cleaning.

Since grocery shopping is such an ordeal these days and we’re encouraged to remain at home, I’ve been trying to cook out of my pantry and my crisper drawer. Last night’s meal nicely capitalized on what I happened to have on hand – broccoli rabe, chickpeas, canned tomatoes and an open container of veggie stock.

Now, if you look at this NYT recipe you might notice that it doesn’t actually call for broccoli rabe, listing kale instead, but this is very much a recipe that one can modify according to whim or ingredients available. My take on it, after reading some of the comments on the NYT website, doubled the chickpeas and used the liquid from the canned tomatoes and veggie stock instead of water. I also tossed in a Parm rind for some added flavor and increased the crushed red pepper by a generous extra pinch.

DB984C4F-F9E3-4D70-BEEA-684206D4BAEDServed with grated cheese, it was a cheap and healthy dinner with the bonus of being delicious.

Cooking the Pasta e Ceci  was easy and satisfying – just like some of the recent home projects I’ve taken on. Since I frequently find myself wandering from room to room in my house, I’ve done a fair amount of organizing and weeding of items that I’m prepared to eliminate from my home. There’s been quite a bit of dusting also and I actually removed the three milk glass sconces from my bathroom light fixture and gave them a good washing. I learned that they are in fact not milk glass. They were just really dusty.

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On the menu for the upcoming week – Asparagus Pork Stir fry, cleaning the ceiling fans, and moderating my news consumption. How about you?

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Filed under Albany, Cooking, DelSo, Dinner, Food, ideas, News, Observations, Recipes, Recommendations, Spring, stress, upstate New York

The inevitability of spring

We each respond differently to frightening and uncertain times. Some say that the media is exaggerating and insist that the situation is not nearly as dire as it is being portrayed. Others feel the need to purchase and hoard essentials without thought to those who may need immediate access to basic household items such as toilet paper and soap. Or maybe, instead of stockpiling supplies, you’re actually working your way through that stash of alcohol and ice cream that you’ve been saving for the perfect occasion. You know, like today.

I suspect that most, though, are doing their best to continue to meet the demands of family and work while remaining cognitive of the obvious shifting of importance of each of those aspects of life. There’s no two ways about it – this is a very scary time and there’s no telling when we will have our normal lives back again.

So, be kind to one another. Check in with your neighbors before heading to the store. This would be a great time to create a virtual neighborhood group on Facebook for communicating with people who live by you. Do some yard work. Clean out the basement. Take long walks. Look for and acknowledge signs of spring. It’s still coming.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Flowers, Gardens, Local, musings, News, Observations, Recommendations, Spring, stress

Pandemic time capsule

The world feels absolutely crazy. While it may not actually be post apocalyptic, it’s as close as I’ve ever been to it and way worse than anything I’ve ever imagined.

My youngest child has asked me twice if I’ve ever experienced anything like this before. I think he repeated the question to give me a chance to respond differently having not liked my initial answer of “No, never.”

This situation we’re currently experiencing is new territory and I very much appreciate the decisions being made by some of our remarkable leaders. I would never want the responsibility that business owners and administrators and politicians have weighing on them these days.

I took my last yoga class today and it was really, really hard. The instructor is super delicate looking but actually is strong as f*ck. The core flow practice felt as if it would never end, like it would be dark outside when we finally finished. I expect to be sore tomorrow.

Speaking of sore, I ran for the first time today. It was slow and not particularly pretty, but I did it. The hills were a challenge to my knees, but I listened to my body and took it easy. I listened to a Waterboys playlist and it was the perfect soundtrack.

My hands feel incredibly dry. It must be related to the excessive amount of hand washing I’ve been doing, along with the odd pump of alcohol based antibacterial gel. I’m convinced the bee balm base of my hand moisturizing product creates a seal which is protecting me from catching a cold, or worse.

I feel like I’ve been eating really well. Cooking homemade meals with lots of vegetables from my Field Goods’ bag and a glass of wine on the side calms me. Especially with an early episode of Sex and the City as a chaser. Escapism isn’t so terrible when one does it with their eyes open.

These are, like I said before, absolutely weird and crazy times.

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Filed under Dinner, Exercise, family, moms, musings, News, Observations, running, stress, yoga

Thoughts from the end of the world

These are bonafide whacky times. This free fall of the once great America is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I hear comparisons to the AIDS epidemic and the immediate post-9/11 days and understand and appreciate the obvious similarities. This, though? This is different.

There’s a children’s book that I despise, The Giving Tree. I’ve been thinking about it in recent weeks because I feel a common thread between Donald Trump’s followers and the tree which couldn’t say no. Trump’s believers have willingly placed themselves in the very same position as that tree, cutting off a limb with each previously unacceptable comment ignored (mocking a differently abled journalist, pussygrabber, Pocahontas, nasty) and every act of utter incompetence perpetrated (refusing WHO mask donation, keeping people on boats to continue to skew numbers, eliminating an entire federal medical department trained to anticipate and deal with pandemics.) by this president. I seriously don’t know how a single person would allow themselves to cut down to a stump by this fool, this jester,  dressed like a king.

So, on a lighter note – What’s on your pandemic playlist?

R.E.M.’s It the End of the World as We Know It is the obvious song for me, but I’ve got some others in mind which also strike me as appropriate such as this…

Roadhouse Blues – The Doors

Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer

The future’s uncertain and the end is always near

I welcome your contributions for the ultimate zombie apocalypse playlist. Leave yours in a comment, please!

On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your own compliance with recommendations for changing behaviors in light of the current Coronavirus outbreak? 1 being completely blasé and 10 abiding to suggestions like you’re a kid and Santa’s watching because it’s the week before Christmas.

I’m feeling proud and impressed by the real leaders who make decisions based upon what they believe is the best thing for the public at large, and not necessarily for themselves. Governor Cuomo and the superintendent of my district have both, with calm gravity, conveyed the important and necessary messages and are working hard to get the job done, whatever it may be. Bravo.

Shoutout to store clerks and customer service reps. All working their asses off.

Some questions to ponder:

  • What do you want to be doing when the world ends?
  • Are you really going to hate on yourself for gaining 10 lbs and not have that ice cream? With sprinkles?
  • What matters most?
  • Can you help someone else during this tumultuous and anxiety inducing time?
  • What will we learn about each other during, and after, this crisis?

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Filed under aging, Albany, Events, medical, musings, News, Observations, politics, sick, stress, travel

Can’t touch this

Over the weekend I stopped at the Apple Store to buy a new phone charger for my car. Whenever I go there, I’m always amazed at the number of people shopping for computers and phones. It’s like Black Friday every single day! After a few minutes of looking around the perimeter of the store, I finally located what I needed. Since there apparently isn’t an actual kiosk or checkout area, I asked for help and was directed to a staff member who would help me with my transaction.

I handed the employee my item and the card I wished to use for payment. He swiped and then reached towards me to allow me to complete the sale. I extended my hand to accept the portable terminal, but suddenly changed my mind. I didn’t want to touch that thing.

The decision to withdraw my hand was completely unpremeditated, almost an instinct. I smiled at the man and apologized, saying that I didn’t mean to offend him and it wasn’t anything personal, but I just didn’t want to touch that piece of hardware that countless other people had touched before me. He seemed to understand my hesitation refusal and entered the necessary information himself as I provided it to him eliminating my need to handle the terminal.

As he completed the sale, we talked about the Corona Virus and the general state of germy-ness in a business which provides potential customers the opportunity to get “hands-on” with technology. I had noticed a maintenance employee scrupulously wiping down tables and display models when I entered the store, something I had never seen before. To me, that suggests an awareness of the virus and a reasonable response to the situation at this time.

It’s impossible to predict how widespread this virus is going to spread. I don’t go to the mall very frequently, but I have been washing my hands like a lunatic recently. Working in a school with hundreds of kids who probably directly contradict my own habits as stated in the previous sentence makes me a little uncomfortable. I find myself very conscious each time I assist a student on their chromebook and am trying to refrain from touching my face.

How are you dealing with this potential health crisis? Have you made any changes to your routines to avoid contact with crowds? Are you considering altering travel plans? Has the Corona Virus impacted you and your family?

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The cost of Free Lunch

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Monday, YALSA, the young adult librarian services arm of the American Library Association, awarded the 2020 nonfiction award to Rex Ogle’s Free Lunch a small book that left a huge impact on this reader. The memoir tells the story of Rex’s first semester of sixth grade in Texas. He’s just entered middle school, a milestone for which he was very excited. He’s a hardworking and bright student who loves to read and values the routine of school. In addition to his schoolwork, Rex shoulders a tremendous amount of responsibility at home caring for his 2 1/2 year old brother and preparing meals since his mother “doesn’t cook.”

 

And, he’s poor. Really, really poor.

 

Rex lives with his mother, her boyfriend, and their child, in a two bedroom apartment in which all of the furniture items can be counted on one hand. Rex sleeps on the floor in a sleeping bag, storing his meager wardrobe of ill fitting, but clean, clothing in cardboard boxes left over from the family’s most recent move. They move a lot.

 

There is never enough food in their home, but the threat of physical, emotional and verbal abuse fills the otherwise empty rooms. Grocery and school supply shopping expeditions are balancing acts between getting what is needed and not angering a mother who rages against every perceived societal injustice with a loud and confrontational voice.

 

Reading Rex’s words on the page prompted memories and strong feelings for me. We were poor, too. While my mother never was abusive, she also was not particularly interested in the emotional needs of her own children or sensitive to the pressures of fitting in socially. I just don’t think she had the resources to explore either of those avenues.

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I shared Free Lunch, along with Hey, Kiddo, Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s National Book Award Finalist graphic novel memoir, last week with my 7th grade students. The theme of the presentation, and the books I pulled, was families. I talked a little about the infinite number of household compositions that can be encompassed by the word Family. I told the kids about the embarrassment Ogle felt about his home situation and poverty and explained that I knew what he was talking about because of my own experiences growing up in a single parent household, being dependent upon welfare, and receiving free lunch.

 

When I was a kid, there were times when we had to devise ways to heat up food (pre-microwaves) when there was no gas for the stove. Hot water wasn’t always available and sometimes in the winter there was no water whatsoever because we had neglected to leave the water dripping on cold nights and the pipes had frozen. Most of the time, in home laundry was a luxury we didn’t have and I have memories of clothing drying near the wood burning stove upon which we were dependent for heat. 


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Hours of my childhood were spent in the overheated offices of the county social services building waiting as my mother reapplied for assistance. I learned at an early age that toilet paper, soap and aspirin were all considered nonessential and thus not able to be purchased with food stamps. And the embarrassment of free lunch? I’m very familiar with the shame of having to publicly admit that my family did not have the means to provide me with a midday meal.

 

My lesson finished with a “blind” book selection activity in which I asked students to close their eyes, reach into a bin filled with assorted books and withdraw one. As they lined up to perform the task, I explained that none of us get to pick the family that we’re born into and I requested that they sit down for 5-7 minutes with their randomly selected book and just read. Following their quiet reading, they had the option to borrow the book or opt for an alternative title. The choice, just like what might come next in their own lives, was theirs to make.

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Filed under aging, Books, Education, girlhood, News, Observations, Recommendations

Thoughts I’ve been thinking

  • It sucks that my knee is injured and I can’t fully do the active things I enjoy doing. I see a surgeon in early February and my only question will be: In your experience, what is the most successful plan of treatment for women in my age and activity range who are most interested in being able to resume normal activities (even at a modestly modified level) in the speediest fashion?  That’s my bottom line. I want to run.
  • There were two articles which really spoke to, and for, me recently.  There are things in life which will forever cause me to shake my head, sometimes in a nod and other times in “no.” Both of these NYT pieces made me forget to breathe. I can only link to one because they other one, “I Quit a Seven-Year Affair,” has been removed from the Times’ site.* I’m not sure how I feel about that move, but the piece did remind me of Mrs. Maisel’s choice to share as much about Shy Baldwin as she did in her performance at the Apollo. I knew there would be repercussions.
  • For god’s sake can we leave Megan and Harry alone? They’re entitled to their one precious life, too and Harry’s already seen how an uncivilized society can kill a woman he loves. Who cares how they choose to live?

  • Speaking of caring, there’s so little of that in the world right now. This recent picture of an absolutely beaming Megan Markle walking with her baby and dogs, collected some heated comments about Megan’s son not being safely fastened in his front carrier. Everyone had something critical or nasty or judgmental to say and no one simply offered to help her accomplish the task. We’re moms. We need to be nicer to each other.
  • At a just-turned-green light, I hesitated prior to shifting into first gear and the man in the big truck behind honked his horn and then pulled into the left lane to pass me, giving me the finger as he jerked his vehicle in front of me. I shrugged. Whatever. As we approached Fuller Road, I moved into the right hand turn lane and, again, he aggressively yanked his truck partially in my path. I’d be afraid to witness his response to something beyond a too slow start at a green light.
  • This morning, J, shared a story about some kids pulling a Ding-Dong Ditch which resulted in the deaths of three teenagers. The home owner whose bell was rung, felt the need to pursue these kids at high rates of speed prior to ramming his vehicle into theirs and forcing them off the road and causing them to crash. What is the matter with people? Why are folks overly reactive to minor transgressions, yet numb to the way our government is broken? Is it an assertion of control in a world which feels increasingly unspun. Or maybe it’s actually overspun. 
  • In the last week I was recognized by a reader I had never met (Hi P!) in a really complimentary way and told at an event a few nights later that I looked like Emma Stone.  That’s a good week right there.
  • I read a book this week and can’t stop thinking about, Free Lunch by Rex Ogle. I’m working on a full post.
  • I can’t imagine a better Friday night than a winter one spent at Cafe Capriccio eating eggplant, drinking red wine and hearing a set of quality live jazz.
  • Happy Chinese New Year.  It’s the Year of the Rat, but, honestly, isn’t that what we’ve been living with for the last three years?
Let’s all make the best of it, shall we?
*maybe you can find it in print somewhere?

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