Next week, when I’m in California.

(I just like saying that. Wink.)

Christmas, the year and the decade will all end.

I’ll be traveling with a companion for the first time in a long time.

My Jewish mom will meet my Jewish boyfriend, to put it in its most simple terms.

We’ll spend two hours soaking in springs heated by the San Andreas fault, which just goes to show that sometimes even the least stable situation can bring maximum relaxation.

I’ll get to see and walk and hike and maybe run in some of my favorite mountains.

There will be a respite from the barrage of politics and news.

We will go to the nice Aldi’s and get avocados for guacamole.

There’s the the possibility of rain. And dancing. And maybe dancing in the rain.

Next week when I’m in California is going to be fun.

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Filed under beauty, California, Christmas, favorites, friends, holidays, musings, News, politics, travel, vacation, winter

I do not hate Donald Trump

From Tuesday’s demonstration

I hate what he’s done to my country.

Where did it start? Was it one side accusing the other of hatred of a particular group?Maybe Blacks or Gays or Mexicans? I myself have said that some are motivated by their dislike of a particular race, not their desire to support the law as in the recent enactment of the Green Light Bill allowing non documented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. Even as I said it, I knew it wasn’t true. At least not for all of the people involved in the online discussion, a conversation which grew increasingly more hostile.

But, how else to explain the admiration and acceptance “they” have for a person who has unrelentingly demonstrated his lack of interest in respecting anyone who does not kowtow to his wishes and demands?

In return, I was told that I was blinded by my hatred of Donald Trump. The very same facts which had convinced me that the only decision was to impeach DJT, had somehow confirmed for “them” that he was the victim of a witch hunt initiated by Democrats the very day he was sworn in. The liberal media and socialist leaning politicians had stoked my mild disgust for conman Trump into an inferno of raging hatred. That’s what “they” told me.

Again, I say – I do not hate Donald Trump.

I hate what he’s done to my country.

Each time I hear about the economy and record low unemployment and America First, I can only reflect on the price we’ve paid for any of those situations, and what has really been gained by the majority of Americans, instead of just the 1%. While I’m suspect about the reality of our country’s blazing economy, what I do know is that we are seriously lacking in some fundamental and basic components of a civilized society. Our government is broken.

When Donald Trump was elected, I swore about the damn electoral college and the polls, but accepted the results. I allowed a glimmer of hope to remain after eight years of Obama hope. Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as the campaign had promised. How often are campaign pledges kept anyway? Surely this oddly colored man would grow gracefully into the Oval Office and rise to the occasion.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The current situation in our country is not normal, at least not in my observations. The lack of compassion and civility, coupled with a sense of justified racism, have made America a place which no longer can be considered a world leader.

Yesterday’s impeachment communicated that we expect more from our government. It is unacceptable for our president to conduct himself as Donald Trump has and his impeachment confirms that so many understand that to be true.

I do not hate Donald Trump.

I hate what he’s done to my country.

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Fast and Furious – 5 things pissing me off right now

I’m generally pretty easy going. I try to accept that not everyone thinks or behaves the same way I do and feel fairly happy most of the time. Heartbreaks aside, of course. There are a few things, though, that have recently got my blood boiling and I’m hoping that if I obey the full moon and practice letting go, maybe I can move past these injustices and minor outrages.

First – if I read one more time about how a 6-week infant was “allowed” to ingest methamphetamines by the man responsible for caring for him, I just might lose my shit. This baby, with 8 broken ribs and a head injury declared “not grave enough” to warrant legal charges, was killed by both the individual who administered the drugs and injuries to him and the system which absolutely and completely failed him. 

Next – The hypocrisy of the president and his wife when it comes to respecting young people. I really don’t understand the outrage about a remark made by a legal scholar during the recent hearings relating to Donald Trump’s actions in relation to Ukraine. This apparently deeply offended the occupants of the White House, yet did not prevent the Idiot-in-Chief from making direct and disparaging remarks about Time magazine’s Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg. There is no bottom when it comes to Trump and his lack of sensitivity and basic social mores. He is absolutely repulsive and an embarrassment to the United States.

Speaking of the United States, I am appalled to live in a country in which a ball player receives a contract compensating them to the tune of $324 million over nine years. There is nothing anyone could ever say to me that would justify that kind of ludicrous salary. Nothing. Don’t even try.

My last two issues are much more trivial, yet still infuriating. One is a driving etiquette thing with which upstate people are apparently unfamiliar. I’m pretty certain I’ve railed about this before, but it seems folks weren’t listening so I’ll say it again – if I have the green light, but am not proceeding through an intersection because I can not clear the “box,” you should not interpret my holding back to be an invitation for you to make a right on red. If you’re someone who has mistakenly done this in the past, you’re welcome for the driving lesson because if you try that move in NYC, you won’t be educated quite so politely.

And, lastly, to the person who allows their dog to crap in my front garden (2x) and on the sidewalk (3x), when I find out who you are, we’re going to have words – and I’ll probably notify the city, too. The DelSo is a nice neighborhood filled with people who take care of their properties and are responsible pet owners. Pick up your dog’s sh*t like a respectable person.

I feel a little better now but if my rage persists, maybe Greta and I can get a group discount on those Anger Management classes.

 

 

 

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, Local, News, Observations, politics, Rant, stress, upstate New York

Skiing with my Uncle Wolfgang

Last week’s epic snowstorm provided an unexpected early December treat – the chance to cross-country ski at Albany Muni. I got out there four days and the conditions just kept getting better. It was awesome and Jeter and I loved every minute of it.

Other than the first day when I skied with a friend, it was just me, my dog and nearly two feet of snow. Sort of. Skiing solo provides lots of time for thoughts and when I cross country ski I can’t help but think of my Uncle Wolfgang. He, too, was a cross country skier, albeit much more accomplished than I. Wolfgang, my mother’s youngest brother, was a competitive biathlete in Germany and, as I ski, I do my best to glide with the grace and strength he once did.

As my eyes took in the beauty of the snow covered golf course and my lower back became damp from my exertions, my head filled with memories of my Uncle. He and I, along with his wife and a Lilly boy or two, took some great road trips together around Europe. Wolfgang and Brigitte were great travelers and I have wonderful memories of sharing time with them in Paris, Amsterdam, NYC and, our last trip, Berlin. I miss him and will always be sad that he was taken so fast and furiously by cancer just weeks after we parted in Berlin.

But, I feel him with me, deep inside, and I truly understand the sentiment about how you never really lose someone you love as long as you have memories of time shared. I get it now and it gives me so much comfort and peace to know he won’t ever be gone.

I started thinking about all the little things I do that immediately remind me of people who no longer walk the earth beside me. When I chop vegetables, I remember Len, who taught me how to hold a knife. As I put together a salad in the metal bowl I insisted upon getting in the divorce, I think of my mother-in-law and her inability to not give her son and I something to take with us each time we left her house. If I see a deer dead on the side of the road, I recall my friend, John, who once demonstrated his compassion for a dying doe by finishing the job a car had begun, an act of kindness that he unfortunately wasn’t able to extend to himself.

Losing someone we love and experiencing the void of their absence, especially near the holidays, makes for an emotionally challenging situation. Knowing that we’ll never again hear a loved one’s laughter or feel their embrace, quite plainly sucks. However, if one takes the time to focus instead on what remains – the memories and moments and love shared, it seems to me that they’re never really gone. At least not from our heads and, of course, our hearts.

 

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, cancer, Europe, family, favorites, friends, Germany, Local, love, musings, Normanskill, Observations, relationships, skiing, travel, upstate New York, x-country skiing

So many pancakes, so little time

After not getting around to making a pot of sauce with meatballs and sausage a few weeks ago, I found myself with a container of ricotta cheese for which I needed to find a purpose. After a quick Epicurious search I came up with the perfect use – Ricotta Pancakes.

In my house, we’re big on pancakes. Since being shamed by a foodie friend for using Bisquik, I’ve been making mine from scratch and I actually have the recipe* committed to memory. It’s so easy it makes me regret all those years of paying for a packaged mix filled with all sorts of unpronounceable ingredients. I use the same basic recipe for waffles and play around by adding canned pumpkin and nutmeg or using buttermilk or almond extract to change things up because, like I said, we like pancakes and variety isn’t a bad thing when it comes to breakfast.

But, back to those ricotta pancakes.

The recipe I found was simple and used common ingredients. Separating the eggs and beating the whites into lovely peaks is the second hardest part, with the most challenging thing being finding the ability to stop after eating two. Or three. These pancakes are wonderfully light and airy with orange zest adding a delicious punch. I bet a dash of Grand Marnier would be an amazing addition.

This recipe, along with the NYT’s Dutch Baby recipe, is a keeper. Do you have a favorite pancake recipe I should try?

 

*1 1/4 c flour

2 T sugar

2 t baking powder

1 egg

milk to the consistency you like, more milk = thinner pancakes

dash of salt

maybe a t of vanilla or almond extract?

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Filed under Boys, breakfast, Cooking, Eating, family, favorites, Food, ideas, Recipes, Recommendations

Throwback thanksgiving

Pies from Debbie’s Kitchen, Albany NY

When I was a kid I had faux aunts and uncles. There were no true relatives (that I knew about) in the States, so my mother provided close friends who functioned on some level as family. It was a laudable attempt and there were some good people in our lives during those years, some of whom remain to this day.

One of these families, the Ls, had the most multi limbed family tree in the my world and I loved the holidays we shared with them over the years. Dinner usually included all of the following: the married couple, (about the same age as my mom), and their daughter, who was a toddler when we met, his son from his first marriage, joined by her two children from her first marriage. Also present, her first husband with his son from his second marriage. And the three of us.

It seemed like the most exciting, bizarre and totally normal holiday gathering ever. The traditions all blurred together, Jewish, Italian American, German, and the food was crazy – lasagna, bagels with lox, ham and fruit cake. Thinking about those days always makes me smile big.

Yesterday, for the first time in a few years, I had Thanksgiving dinner with friends. It was very low key and comfortable. We brought desserts and a savory vegetable casserole to join the bounty that was already present. While we didn’t play backgammon for boxes of Marlboro Reds, (as I might have decades ago with “my” extended family), we sipped far better wine than in those long ago days, with a mood which was comparably mellow.

My first attempt at curd – Cranberry Curd Tart from the NYT.

At the table was my UG* and his children. And his children’s mom and her partner, along with her partner’s parents and her brother and sister in law. Looking around the table and seeing the threads that tied us all together, I couldn’t help but smile at the familiarity of the situation.

We recreate the chaos with which we are most comfortable. (I use “chaos” here to suggest a familiar dynamic with lots of activity, not as an indication of lack of control.) There’s a vibe or pace that we try to replicate, whether it’s conscious or not, because that’s what we grew up knowing.

Sitting at the dining table with a bunch of people who, through the years, have chosen to share their lives with one another, defines the holidays for me, even more than turkey and cranberry sauce. The combination of common histories and yet-to-be-explored future activities is what I was raised on and yesterday was the first time I felt that familiar energy in a long time.

It was a good holiday.

How was yours?

*don’t ask me what it means, it’s a private joke term of endearment

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, Christmas, Dinner, drinking, Eating, family, Food, friends, girlhood, holidays, Local, love, marriage, musings, Observations, relationships, upstate New York, Wine

Last ride

Thursday afternoon Jeter and I took our last trip to Albany Muni in my Volvo. When we got there the odometer read 149,999 and it just seemed perfect. Truth be told, I was tempted to drive around the lot until the numbers rolled (figuratively) to 150,000 but it seemed too forced, and Jeter wouldn’t have tolerated it anyway with his need to be outdoors. Immediately.

Letting this car go has been unexpectedly difficult. I initially attempted to rid myself of it more than 18 months ago when I bought another car, but failed to finalize the trade-in deal. I wasn’t ready.

The car that I purchased at that time had everything I said I wanted in a car – Bluetooth, a huge glass roof, four-forms and a six speed manual transmission. The color was fine and the price was right and I bought it. I was ready, I thought, for something different, something new.

Since March of 2018 I’ve shuffled two cars, each with its own purpose. The Volvo became the dog car and was my go-to vehicle for Cape Cod. The Mini was my road-trip-south and general about town vehicle.

Maintaining, insuring and juggling two vehicles has begun to feel hyper indulgent. I needed to simplify my life and give someone else the chance to appreciate the car that I had always considered to be my princess vehicle.

The Volvo had come my way after I was rear ended in my previous Volvo wagon. There had been no injuries when the man totaled my car as I sat at a red light, fortunately for both of us. My incredible luck continued after the accident when, after complaining about my distaste for car shopping on Facebook, I was offered the chance to buy the wagon that I’ve owned ever since.

A 100,000+ miles later, I’m in a position to pass this great car on to someone new, coincidentally, a woman who responded to my post on Facebook. I think the car is as perfect for her as she is for the car.

Being emotional about a car is a new, and weird, thing for me. I think it may have something to do with my general unfamiliarity with possessing something for as many years as I’ve owned this car. I’m unaccustomed to it.

It’s easy to love something when there’s no expectation for it to love you back. It’s a car and, obviously, it can’t feel or express emotions, but this vehicle has responded to my affection and care with a steadiness and reliability that I can’t help but to romantically interpret as fondness.

I know I’ll miss this car, but I’ve come to accept that it’s time to pass it on to another family who needs it more than I do. I wish them many happy years together.

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Filed under aging, favorites, love, musings, road trips