Blogs > Fresh Ink

Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sowing the seeds for the next Secret Gardens Tour

After I agreed to teach a journalism class again next fall at University of Albany, I vowed to take on fewer extra-curricular activities.
Then Lyn Whaley called.
“Stacie will co-chair if you co-chair,” said the incoming president of Soroptimist International of Saratoga County.
She was talking about the group’s 2013 Secret Gardens Tour, for which work begins now. She made the same pitch, in reverse, to Stacie Mayette Barnes.
It worked.
First of all, the Secret Gardens Tour raises several thousand dollars for terrific programs and projects, including Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County. And people seem to really enjoy the event.
Second of all, I am proof that you can be a lousy gardener but a successful garden tour organizer. This will give me more excuses for not weeding – or planting anything, for that matter. How long can I leave a bad of dirt in my yard and still make people think I am about to plant something?
Third, I dare you to say no to Lyn Whaley. I can’t. She does so much, how can I claim to be too busy? A longtime fixture in the Saratoga Springs school system, for years she provided The Saratogian with promising interns from the high school. And for years I’ve been a customer at her family dry cleaning business, Cudney’s. Besides, it was I who asked her to be a Soroptimist a while back.
Fourth, I will enjoy working with Stacie, whom you may know from Home Made Theater. We had a pre-meeting meeting earlier this week, and with an active committee and assistance from garden tour veterans, it will be another great year.
A great tour depends on great gardens, of course. So if you have any suggestions for gardens for next July’s 19th annual tour, and any feedback from this or prior years on the tour, drop me a line.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, July 13, 2012

Waiting for dad to be paroled from Albany Med

Just dawned on me that instead of gritting my teeth impatiently waiting for the paperwork to spring my father from Albany Med, I should be grateful that he's coming home.

Exactly one week ago I called my father to tell him I would be visiting him at his Albany apartment at about noon the next day. But at 8 the next morning my husband handed me the phone: It's your father. "Come now," dad said, "and take me to the hospital."

The survivor of two multiple bypasses and a valve replacement knows when things aren't right. Of course he was right: Separate from the diabetes-related fluid buildup, his heart rate was 43.

Wonderful Dr. Costello, who makes house calls and could teach classes on bedside manner, came to the apartment, did an EKG, confirmed dad's self-diagnosis, talked to the cardiologist and called for an ambulance.

Four days later, dad became the owner of a pacemaker. " Are you comfortable," asks the nurse, on cue. The patient shrugs: "I make a living." Two days later, he is, as he puts it, eligible for parole. We waited two hours for a doctor, an hour for a nurse. He is dressed and ready to go.

Another half hour, still waiting.  The nice people on the 4th floor of Wing D bribed me with free coffee and chicken salad on white. How hungry must I be to be excited by hospital food?  Dad's last stint in the hospital was supposed to be his last.

In November, admitted because of the aforementioned diabetes-related fluid buildup, the docs advised him to prepare for dialysis or prepare to die from failing kidneys. He was adamant against dialysis at this stage of the game. On oxygen 24/7, on insulin, on half a diaphragm, he decided enough is enough. Dad was at peace with his decision. His grandkids came home from college, his sister came up from Queens with his nephews. He held court at his own wake, and a good time was had by all.

Three weeks from admission, his cardiologist showed up in his hospital room with a shocking question: What are you still doing here? We filled him in, surprised he didn't know. Your kidneys won't kill you, the doctor assured him, your heart will.

That was a lesson to all of us. In journalism, they teach you, if your mother says she loves you, check it out. In medicine, if the physicians on call tell you you're dying, call your doctor. Sure enough, the kidneys stopped failing and dad was sent home. He was ready to go, but my mother wasn't ready to have him at her side.

It took a while for dad to get back his mojo, helped along by grandchildren's milestones: college graduations, a nursing degree, a 25th birthday, and, as I write this, his youngest grandchild's 16th birthday. All things he hadn't expected to be around to celebrate.

Another hour, no doctor, no offer for dessert. Dad is dozing. How long must we wait for a five-minute (if that) sign-off? Why the delay? Another half-hour and the friendly and helpful Dr. L. apologized for the waiting, used her pull to merge two follow-up visits next week for same day, and promised the nurse will be in shortly with the discharge paperwork. That was 20 minutes ago.

 If we ever get out, you will be reading this. Meanwhile, I will take a deep breath, get my life's priorities in order, and be glad for another day with dad.

Friday, July 6, 2012

New York City Ballet a must-see at Saratoga Performing Arts Center

The news that the New York City Ballet’s 2013 residency at theSaratoga Performing Arts Center will be only one week long (five days, really, with seven performances) is a bit disconcerting -- but not surprising.
NYCB hasn’t done enough to reduce its own costs, and the cost to SPAC isn’t adequately covered by corporate sponsors or individual patrons. SPAC is spending about $2 million to bring the ballet to Saratoga, losing about $1.1 million in the process. That’s an expense SPAC cannot afford to sustain.
Who cares?
I do. You should, too.
The classical arts at SPAC are integral to the prestige and cachet of the entire Saratoga region. They help set SPAC apart from venues on the rock concert circuit.
SPAC’s leaders say they’ve been beating the bushes for sponsors. And they’ve certainly being trying to promote a night at SPAC to appeal to singles, couples and families.
I don’t know a tutu from a three-three. But I know enough to go see world-class dance and music when they come to SPAC. I sit on the lawn more often than in the amphitheater, and there is no better buy for twenty-two bucks ($15 for matinees). I can attest from my times inside that the experience is richer in the closer, semi-enclosed seats. In the theater or under the stars, the only mistake people make is not going, at least once – and bringing kids along (under 12 are free on the lawn; older students are just $10.)
My calendar is already marked for this year’s season, which starts Tuesday. Among the performances I hope to see is the Romeo + Juliet by Peter Martins. Hope to see you there.

Labels: , ,