Archive for April, 2012

Funk

I’m out of sorts this week.

There are a number of reasons for this, the least significant of which is not the fact that Chris is back on the road.  He’ll be visiting 8 states (7 1/2, actually, as he’s already done 1/2 of Texas), which will bring his total to 44 of the lower 48 by the end of this trip.  They’re large states, so averaging 3-4 days per state, plus my weeklong vacation to California to meet him in May, plus the travel time to and from the western part of the country (let’s average up and say 5 days) = about 6 weeks, give or take.  He’ll be home sometime around the middle of May.

It took me a while to admit both to myself and to others that these absences are hard on me.  When he first started the project, he did New England (6  smallish states, 1.5 weeks) and the mid-Atlantic (6 states – 3 smallish, 3 of them much larger – just shy of 3 weeks).  These were not done consecutively, so the absences weren’t as acutely felt.  When he went down South (11 large states … or, rather, 10 1/2), he was gone for over 6 weeks.  He left at the beginning of November and returned a couple of weeks before Christmas.  The clocks had gone back.  We had been married less than 2 months.  It was cold.  It was dark.  I was working at an office where we were conducting layoffs.

Thank goodness for my dog and cat, though I’m sure they felt a bit neglected during this time as well.

The next long trip was the southern Midwest, Great Plains and Pacific Northwest.  This was an ambitious 14 states (which, in hindsight, he thinks he should have chopped up so that his next trip to the upper Great Lakes states would be full Midwest and an 8 state trip instead of a 3 state trip … but a 3 state trip will only be a couple of weeks, so at least it is behind us; the last state, New York, will be the capstone and a separate trip).  He was gone most of the summer.  It was easier this time – I had changed jobs and was happier as a result, and summer days are long and bright and hot.  While he was gone I took Finnegan on a trail where he chased a bear onto a golf course, and then was stung by a bee and required a trip to the emergency vet for a benadryl shot.  (Turns out, my dog is allergic to bees, and they don’t make epi-pens for dogs.)  However, there is no doubt that it was easier in part because I had let myself admit that it was hard.

So, anyway, now he’s gone again.  And it’s hard.  And this time, admitting it to myself is not making it easier.  I keep thinking about Finnegan, home alone, something he’s not used to.  We were unfortunate enough to have the doggie daycare vacation coincide with Chris’ first week on the road.  Finnegan has been stressed and lonely and bored.  On top of that, work has been a rollercoaster, which seems to finally be calming down … however, I’m feeling the after-effects of a crash from an adrenaline-filled March.  On top of that, Chris’ father dying suddenly a couple of months ago, while on the opposite coast, has me irrationally nervous for Chris on this particular trip.

So, adrenaline crash + worry + sadness = a very preoccupied woman, having strange dreams and not sleeping well.

And it is only Thursday.  At least tomorrow is Friday.

Voting the Slate

I was supposed to write about the Great Albany Cupcake Off, and I put it off.  For two weeks.  And now it’s two weeks past, and lots of other local bloggers wrote some great posts.  You don’t need to hear my deeper thoughts, other than Woo-Hoo to Fluffalicious.

However, as much as I enjoy a good cupcake, I’ve never been much of a dessert person on a whole.  There are certain desserts I love, but I’ve never been one to “save room for dessert” at the expense of what I deem a delicious meal.  So, while I slacked off on writing about the cupcakes, I’m trying to make up for it by writing about the FUSSYlittleBALLOT.

Those of you who do not (and have never, nor plan to) live in the Capital Region may want to stop reading, particularly if you’re not a foodie.  However, for those of you 518-based followers, I urge you to read on DESPITE whether you are a foodie or not.

Some of you are already familiar with Daniel’s quest to bring awareness and better food to the Capital Region.  He started off as a vociferous Yelp-er that I, admittedly, was annoyed by at first.  “Yeah, okay, we get it.  The SF Bay has better food.  The Pope is also Catholic.  Move along.”  It wasn’t until he launched his blog that I began to understand what he was really trying to do.  This was, also, when my own palate was beginning to evolve more, I was beginning to care more about food in general – taste and quality, as well as sustainability – and when the restaurant scene in Albany truly began to improve.  We were on an upswing, and it was time to ride the wave.

Anyway, a part of his quest was the FUSSYlittleBALLOT.  He was sick and tired of seeing the likes of the Olive Garden, SUBWAY, and Pizza Hut winning key categories in the TU’s Best Of poll.  Sometimes it makes sense to choose a chain.  It does not make sense, in this region, to choose one for Italian, sandwiches, or pizza.  Or, for that matter, a number of other categories (these are just among the most egregious).  So, his idea was to create a slate for readers to vote in the poll, to lend the best local joints some credibility.  The catch – the slate may not always represent what you, personally, would vote for.

There are some areas I had to vote my conscience.  I could not, for example, vote for Roma’s for best butcher.  I’ve never been there, nor do I really have a reason to go there, though that is beside the point.  I voted for Cardona’s, because they’re the only area butcher (that I know of) that is completely transparent about where they source their meat.  This is huge for me.  If I am not going to buy locally/regionally butchered meat (such as from Honest Weight, or from one of the farmer’s markets), I go to Cardona’s.  The meat isn’t local, but they make a point to use humane/sustainable producers, and they’re also a local, family run institution. As the old adage goes, two out of three ain’t bad.

However, in most cases I kept in mind the Greater Good.  Case in point:  For best sandwich, I voted for Andy’s, even though I really truly think Genoa is better.  But I would have no problem with Andy’s winning, particularly if it beats out Subway. I like Andy’s.  They’re my second favorite place to get a sandwich.  They’re local, they’re an institution, and they’re also among my favorite places to get coldcuts (I like Cardona’s for convenience as I do other shopping there, and I like Oscar’s best because they SMOKE THEIR OWN but they are decidedly NOT convenient).

All I ask is that you read Daniel’s slate and you take it under consideration when you submit your ballot (and I think you should submit a ballot).  The region has a lot to offer that is so far beyond Walmart America.  I for one am tired of the homogenization of this country, and this is one (admittedly very small) way to throw some rocks at Goliath.