Tag Archives: home

Checked at check in

A3CC19D7-EE79-49DC-B932-2AECF165E25AYesterday I had my (hopefully) last appointment with Dr. Aronowitz, the orthopedic surgeon who operated on my knee last month. It was the third time I visited his office in Schenectady and the experience was quite a bit different from my previous appointments.

The first thing that was unlike prior appointments was flexibility in my appointment time. Originally I scheduled this final visit for a time beyond my school day. Thinking that perhaps the office might not be as tightly booked as usual, I called and was able to move things up a bit. I’m not really comfortable not being home these days and hoped that I would be able to get in and out quickly.

I pulled into the parking lot a few minutes prior to when I was expected. Trying to minimize my time in a large waiting room, I remained in my car until just before the appointed time. Using my sleeve over my hand, I opened the door and entered the building where I was greeted by a masked medical worker. She placed gloves from a nearby box on her hands as she explained it was necessary to take my temperature before I could check in. Ok.

I was asked if I was feeling well, had I traveled recently, if I had been in NYC. She noted my responses and inserted a thermometer device in my right ear and immediately looked disturbed by the reading – 102. Looking at me and recognizing that I didn’t present as someone with a temperature that high, she double checked the findings by repeating the process in my left ear this time – 100. Hmmm. She asked if she could try an oral thermometer.

During the few seconds it took to once again attempt to correctly ascertain my temperature, my first thought was “Oh my God, how many people might I have exposed to any virus I might have?”  I tried to figure out where I might have caught the virus – the grocery store? Perhaps during one of my long walks with Jeter? How come I didn’t feel sick?

This time, though, the result was normal at 99 degrees. It seems I was, in fact, fine.

I couldn’t wait to get back home.

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Filed under Local, medical, musings, sick, stress, upstate New York

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

Memories of the 2020 Pandemic

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Even when the skies are grey and intermittently spitting some combination of rain and snow, one must believe that the sun will come out again and shine. It just has to.

One day we’ll reflect back on these times and what we learned from the
unimagined challenges of today. I wonder how we’ll be different.

I look forward to one day remembering when…

…Andrew Cuomo became my generation’s Kennedy and the country’s hottest bachelor.

…We learned that our country was home to people who binge purchase paper products without a care about denying others the opportunity to purchase the same traditional essentials?

…Grocery store excursions became explorations as you were forced to substitute random items for those on your shopping list due to lack of availability.

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…You realized that hanging out around a bonfire while in your 50s (or even 60s!) was even more fun than when you were in your teens

…The term Katie Girl was added to my vocabulary.

…Questioning “need over want” became a good way to fill the hours.

…Trying to find the balance between being industrious and curling into a ball was more mentally exhausting than any actual job.

…Honesty again became the ultimate commodity.

 

 

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Filed under DelSo, friends, musings, Observations, politics, relationships, upstate New York

Sleepless in Albany

I don’t know what to blame it on – the full moon, the clock change manipulation of time, politics, Coronavirus, upcoming travel plans, parenting angst, the uncertainty of the future, not being able to run…but getting quality sleep has become an issue for me and I’m not happy about it.

It isn’t as if I haven’t gone through spells like this before, but right now I’m really feeling distressed. After a long day of being bombarded by the idiocy of our President, the relentless media coverage of what may turn out to be a pandemic and my own internal struggle to remain in the moment without projection of any kind, all I want is six solid hours of shut eye. Is that too much to ask, universe?

Last night’s “rest” was exceptional, as in exceptionally bad. I thought I did everything right, an afternoon pedicure for relaxation, a light dinner followed by an evening walk with Jeter, and a hot (but, not too hot) bath before climbing into bed by 9:30. All systems go, right?

At 10:41, I woke up for the first time. I resisted unlocking my phone and instead started mentally packing for an upcoming trip, planning outfits and shoe selections. When that failed to lull me back to sleep, I started thinking instead about the weather here and what items I might want to order in my next Rent the Runway shipment. I dozed off.

I next awoke at about 1:30. This time, though, I was unsuccessful in coaxing myself back to sleep without reaching for my iPad and completing today’s NYT crossword puzzle. Seventeen short minutes later, my eyes were still wide open. I rolled over and grabbed one of Jeter’s paws to hold as a sort of adult stuffed animal comfort object. Yes, I really do that sometimes. My eyes shut and I returned to sleep for about 40 minutes.

At 3:02 my eyes sprang open again and I attempted to soothe myself with a yoga inspired alternate nostril breathing exercise. Unfortunately, there was no zen to be had. Instead, there was an odd and distant noise that prevented me from resuming sleep. I turned the light on and read my book for about 20 minutes, which is always a last resort for me.

This last time, I went down hard and the remaining hours prior to my alarm waking me up, were filled with crazy dreams. I don’t recall all the details, but I remember living somewhere new in an apartment that initially seemed very small. As the dream continued, the space revealed more rooms than I had initially seen. There were doorways which I walked through only to find additional bedrooms with beds larger than the one I had originally believed to be mine. The family who owned the property invited me to explore and make myself at home wherever I felt comfortable. 

When the alarm woke me at 6:00, I was groggy and disoriented. I hit snooze and ended the Beatles’ wake up song, Good Day, Sunshine, I rely upon to start my day off right, closed my eyes and hoped the dream would restart.

It didn’t.

It’s going to be a long day.

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Filed under aging, musings, politics, stress

Life is messy

From the minute we’re born, we seem to be placing ourselves in, and extracting and ourselves from, one mess after another. It just seems unavoidable. Despite best intentions to keep things tidy and unsullied, maintaining an existence which is uncomplicated and neat feels impossible. At least to me.

Sometimes, especially when my three sons were younger, the mess is a physical one. Toys strewn from room to room, crumbs and mysterious sticky remnants of unauthorized bedroom snack consumption, and Lego blocks turning up unexpectedly underfoot like Christmas pine tree needles in July. Those days have mostly passed for me. My home is definitely neater, aside from multiple pairs of sneakers in alarmingly large sizes randomly abandoned in the precise spot where they were casually kicked off.

Literal messes happen to all of us – that box of blueberries that popped open and released uncountable orbs of blue all over the kitchen floor, tumbleweeds of dog hair, the leaky trash bag drizzling garbage juice all the way down the stairs as a final gross goodbye. For these situations we arm ourselves with sponges and brooms and cleaners. Getting things back in order is a chore to be managed, an accomplishment to forget about once it’s completed. No big deal.

Returning a physical mess to its previous state (or even one that’s improved) can be annoying, but generally it’s pretty easy. You wipe, sweep, mop and you’re done.

Life’s less tangible messes are a whole different story, though. Relationships and emotions are not nearly as easy to manage and they’re nowhere as simple to contain as even the most rogue of escaped blueberries. There’s nothing neat or tidy about our feelings and, since typically our emotional state is not independent of those we care about, limiting their impact on others is a much more difficult task.

Working through an emotional mess is a challenge, even if we attempt to deal with it in the same direct and efficient manner we use to address a spill. Unfortunately, there’s no product available to scrub our hearts or heads clean, no Shamwow to absorb all the emotions and thoughts swirling inside ourselves. Like the days of small boys behaving like mini cyclones in my previously neat home, it will pass. Until then, all one can do is their best to avoid stepping on anything that hurts.

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Filed under aging, family, house, love, musings, Observations, relationships

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

Three current crushes…November edition

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Bliss in a glass.

The Manhattan at New World Bistro Bar. I’ve been lucky enough to have the same bartender on my last two visits to NWBB, and she makes a dynamite Makers Mark Manhattan that is exactly how I like and order it – up and teeny bit sweet. I’ve been too captivated by my companion(s) to get her name, but she was there on a Sunday and Wednesday and is not Sara Jane…

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A bed with a mix of crisp cotton, soft flannel and the comforting weight of down. Heaven.

The foliage was slow to come this ear, but the reds really kicked in these last few days and it was worth the wait. Stunning. What a marvel nature is!

Care to share what you’re crushing on?

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Filed under Albany, beauty, drinking, favorites, house, Local, Observations, Recommendations, Restaurants, Uncategorized, upstate New York