Sunday, October 15, 2017

One of the Chihuly Nights at the New York Botanical Garden


Pretty darned good weekend for me here in NYC. Dinner with TQ on Friday night; Saturday there was brunch with a friend with whom I've been wanting to catch up for ages, with a stop at the library on the way, followed by a few hours of lounging on the Evil Futon of Nap, alternately reading the copy of Carl Hiaasen's Bad Monkey that I'd checked out in the morning and dozing (that is how the Evil Futon of Nap got its name - if you lounge on it properly you are almost guaranteed to drift off, it's that comfy). Around 4:00 I collected myself and headed out to meet a friend at Grand Central Station; we splurged on dinner at the Grand Central Oyster Bar and then caught a Metro North train out to the New York Botanical Garden for one of the night viewings of the Dale Chihuly installation that's at the garden through October 29th.

For anyone not familiar with that name, Chihuly is a rock-star level glass artist who specializes in large-scale works, frequently with a very organic feel to them. The garden had last hosted a Chihuly exhibit in 2006. My folks had stopped in for a visit while that one was on. My mom and I went one day while my dad had gone off to a tower bell thing a ways away from the city, we had to scramble a bit to get there (2006 visit post here), but it was neat enough that my mom then went with my dad to one of the night exhibits when the artworks are all dramatically lit. I have no recollection why I didn't join them, but they were very enthusiastic about it, so when I found out there was going to be a new Chihuly exhibit this year, I recommended a night visit to a friend who I knew would enjoy it. She and I and another friend went last night, and it was indeed quite spectacular! Click here for a Flickr album. For more information about the exhibit, visit NYBG.org.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

My Making Strides Against Breast Cancer page

March 2016, three-quarters of the way through chemo and still paddlin' on!

Just a quick post to re-share the link to my Making Strides page, since I completely buried it at the very end of yesterday's rather long and meandering post. Click here to visit. Thanks!  


Sunday, October 08, 2017

2 Years Ago Today


This photo was actually exactly one month after two years ago today - November 8th, 2015.

Two years ago today, I had a mastectomy. I'd had the best trip to Oahu for my 30th high school reunion at the end of July. I think it was just a week or two later that I found a lump. It did turn out to be cancer. It turned out to not be aggressive, so there wasn't a giant rush, but it did need to go. At this hour of night on October 8th, 2015, I was in a hospital bed, uncomfortably trying to sleep on my right side (I've been a habitual left-side sleeper for all of my life, so that was hard) so as to stay off of my suture.

 I'm still absolutely amazed that one month later I was back on the water again. It wasn't a long paddle and it wasn't a fast paddle but oh, it was wonderful. If you ever asked me to list my top 10 most memorable paddles, just off the top of my head, I think this would be one of the first ones I thought of.

Once again, I'm so grateful that for catching it when I did*, for my good insurance, for the great medical team at NYU Langone who were so good that I was barely even scared (the scariest time was actually between finding the lump and diagnosis, once they brought me in to tell me the results, they were so quick to go from "Yes, you have cancer" to why everything was probably going to be fine that the fear level just intantly dropped) - and for the friends and family who helped me get through it (especially Sebago clubmate Barbara who helped me through the whole process, and of course TQ, who took a week off to care for me after my surgery and never flinched at anything, but there were lots of others who helped me through it and I'm grateful to all of you).

I've been known to say that my run-in with breast cancer was more of a hassle than an ordeal, and I'm so glad that was true. I'm not all the way back in shape yet but yesterday I joined friends at the club for a 15 mile paddle with a good number of rolls partway through, and everything felt pretty darned good.

Now next Sunday, Barbara and I will be joining Allyson Howard, a friend and fellow survivor who I met through my Spring dips with the Coney Island Polar Bears, at the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, the Coney Island edition. I am the worst fundraiser in the world (I was too shy to even sell Girl Scout cookies when I was a Girl Scout, it's really too bad I didn't understand that grownups LOVE buying Girl Scout cookies - I now hover around people I know who are parents of Girl Scouts in eager anticipation of the next chance to score me some Thin Mints and those wonderful new lemony ones - I really didn't get that when I was the one doing the selling, though) and I jumped into this late, but I'm going to give it a try here. Want to help Team Booby Prize raise some money? Click here! And THANK YOU!


* Note for women friends: Even if you are good about getting your annual mammograms, don't forget the self-exams -- my April 2015 mammogram didn't catch my tumour (there was something on there that in hindsight may have been the early signs, but the science isn't perfect), and I wasn't good about doing my self-exams once a month, which is the recommended frequency, and probably would have found my lump sooner if I had been. As things worked out, I didn't pay for the delay (in fact quite the contrary, I found it the week after I'd gotten back from a trip back to Oahu for my 30th 'Iolani reunion, which was absolutely wonderful and wouldn't have been nearly as nice if I'd been worrying about this), because of the nature of my particular tumour, the treatment probably would've been the same if I'd caught it one or two months sooner, but I was very, very lucky.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

How To Make A Hiking Trail (link)

A steep and stony bit from one of my favorite Escape from Black Friday trails, at Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, CT. 

Well, if I'd spent as much time this week blogging as I spent debating the 2nd Amendment on Facebook (squeezed in between close week duties at work, of course), it would've been a magnificent week here at Frogma. Too bad Facebook debates are pretty much a sheer waste of time - has anybody ever changed their mind because of an eloquent response to a challenging post? Probably not, but I was just so aggravated by people who could look at something like the Vegas shooting and not want to do anything about it. Gave in to the urge to argue it out with a couple of people.

No minds changed of course - the main person I was debating with, his mind is set in stone, I knew that, he's actually family and I've got some idea of the strength of his convictions, so I can't really blame anyone but myself if that was wasted time - but I did do a fair amount of reading up on the issues, and I guess it was good to get my thoughts in order on the matter. And I guess it was interesting seeing the rationales offered by folks on the other side of the issue - didn't make sense to me but at least I took the time to read their arguments. Wasn't comforting, in fact quite the reverse, but maybe it's good to know a little more about where such folks are coming from. 

Anyways - I threw all of my writing that way this week, but fortunately I had another idea for a post anyways, courtesy of a Facebook group for middle-aged women bloggers that my friend Pia, who's been writing her Courting Destiny blog for I think even longer than I've been writing Frogma (well over a decade now, can you believe it?) introduced me to. I doubt I would've ever checked it out without her, even though I am a middle-aged woman blogger myself I would've assumed that I would be a bit too odd of a bird to fit in there, but since she's an adventurous, independent single type herself, I gave it a try and found it to be a really lovely group of women. We have daily posts where you can put up a post of your own or anything else you want to share, with the idea that you'll visit two or three yourself.

Yesterday, among the posts was one titled "Buckeye Trail Building In The Wayne". Loving a good hike myself, I had to go check it out, and it was really fascinating! I've hiked a lot of trails but you know, I don't think I ever really thought about what went in to getting those trails ready for hikers to use. Turns out to be really quite a process - next hike I'll be looking at the trail with a little more appreciation for what's been done to make it! I hope you enjoy this excellent post from Kim Today, Midlife Adventurer!  Thanks, Kim! 

Monday, October 02, 2017

Sebago Canoe Club Trash Bash 2017

Organizer Jeff suggests an approach to the stretch of shoreline we'd be cleaning

On Sunday, October 1, a beautiful day that, while warm, was finally starting to feel a little like Fall, Sebago Canoe Club and a whole bunch of Boy Scouts joined in on the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup. Sebago folks went on foot to the shoreline of Canarsie Park, while the Boy Scouts set out in a flotilla of canoes for the opposite shore. We cleaned for a couple of hours.

The amount of trash is overwhelming and we'll never get all of it, but the idea here is more about statistics - we divided into small teams and each team logs what we picked up. The Ocean Conservancy compiles the data from cleanups all over the world and that helps guide recommendations for policies and legislation that can actually help. And by the end of the day, I think our efforts did actually leave the section of the Paerdegat that we worked on noticeably cleaner. Of course I assigned myself "official photographer" duty - click here to visit the Flickr album of the day's activity.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

CKS Paddlefest 2017 - Dane Jackson competing in the C-1 Preliminary (plus a shoutout to his sister!)

And here's a video of one of the runs I was having so much fun taking pictures of. This is Dane Jackson, son of super-famous whitewater guy Eric "EJ" Jackson, he probably can't remember the first time he was put in a boat! Each paddler gets 2 runs like this; Dane took 2nd place.

More about Dane!

Addendum a little later - Just did a quick trip back to YouTube because as a paddler who's a woman, I thought it would be nice to mention that Dane's sister Emily is also a kayak rockstar; went to find a supporting video and oh my gosh this one's incredible! She does a great job of explaining how the rodeo competition works and gets into how they actually do the tricks. But there's something extra-special going on...just go watch! BTW she was at the Paddlefest and won her event (pro women's K-1), we just weren't there to watch that. Would've been great!


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Super ACTION Filler Post - CKS Paddlefest Men's C1 Rodeo Competition, 5/27 afternoon


Nah, nah, nah, just kidding - I'm still working like crazy wrapping up the September/early October reporting but this isn't a filler post in the same way as Sunday's was, where I thought "Hey, haven't posted for a few days, wonder if any of the pictures I took during the Saturday morning drive would be worth sharing?"

Colorado being SO scenic, it turned out they were. But that brings us up to something I've been looking forward to posting about since we got back - the CKS Paddlefest! I had so much fun taking pictures; in fact I took so many pictures I wasn't sure how I was going to break 'em down into posts, but I think I'll just do 'em in order, by event. To begin with, click here for a Flickr album with 24 action-packed photos from the Men's C-1 Semifinal. And yes, everything going on over there is completely intentional. 
The riverside viewing area probably got jammed for the finals at the end of the day, but with this being the semi-finals it wasn't too crazy yet and I eventually found myself a seat right next to the wave where they were doing their stuff! Enjoy!

This is a big Memorial Day paddling festival held every year in Buena Vista; the main producer is Colorado Kayak Supply, and the event features 3 days of all sorts of competitions, exhibitions, races, classes (mostly run by the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center, about which I shall rave more at a later date, they were awesome!), and more.

I found out about it through a very neat Facebook paddling group, the Church of the Double Bladed Paddle, which is a huge (23K members and growing) group, with members all over the world. The group is about sharing the fun of paddling and the love paddlers all have for our sport; it's very attentively managed, with a few simple rules being strictly enforced -- like no safety lectures; if somebody asks for advice it's always fine to give but no unsolicited lectures and especially no name-calling. The moderators are all experienced paddlers and will take down anything that's seriously dicey, and beyond that we all just agree to be a little tolerant of others. Every now and then something will start go off the rails, but the administrators are generally able to shut things down before they get too much like the argument that inspired the name of this blog.

Makes for a very nice and friendly online community, and it's a FANTASTIC resource if you're going someplace new - there are members all over the world and pretty much anywhere you're going, somebody's going to have good advice about paddling there. I'd asked about recommendations for the Denver area a couple of months before our trip, and one of the members, Mark W., a very nice guy who lived* in Colorado and loved doing whitewater, clued me in about the festival. TQ and I had originally planned to fly home on Friday the 26th, but fortunately we hadn't bought our plane tickets yet so it was no trouble to extend our stay by a couple of days.

The plan was to watch the rodeo competitions on Saturday, take a class ourselves on Sunday, and then drive back to a hotel near the airport on Sunday evening, catching a flight home early on Monday. That worked out perfectly.

We got to the rodeo competition during the pro semi-finals and watched the men's C-1 and junior women's K-1. TQ and I have whiled away a good many hours watching whitewater videos on youtube (I think we would do more of it if there was any closer to NYC, he loves it and my few attempts have been great, although I'm always terrified until I'm actually in the boat and having fun), and it was really neat to actually see it being done live and in person!

 

*Sadly, Mark W. passed away in a rafting accident a little later in the summer -- in a post about another paddler's passing, he talked about having had a mild heart attack a while ago, knowing that he might still be at risk, but choosing to accept that risk and continue paddling because paddling brought him so much joy. I was so glad I had at least been able to thank him, share a few shots from the paddlefest, and let him know what a wonderful time we had before he passed away. Miss him very much even though I only knew him through the group -- he didn't post that much but the occasional things he chose to share tended to be quite beautiful and you could just sense a very kind and thoughtful person was on the other end of the keyboard.