Tuesday, September 17, 2019

9/7/19 - Yonkers leg of the Joe Glickman Cup, plus the Yonkers Mayor's Cup

Playing catch-up a little bit today! The weekend before last was an absolutely gorgeous day for the Yonkers leg of the Joe Glickman Cup.

Sebago had too many fun things going on that day. There was this, and then there were two camping weekends, one in Greenport and one on Staten Island. Both of those sounded like fun (although it was very windy on the Friday as Hurricane Dorian was passing offshore), but I decided to stick with the races.

Joe Glickman, also known as Glicker, was a much-loved member of Sebago and the paddling community at large, especially the surfski racing world. He was a kayak racer and a very good author. If you're a paddler, there's a pretty chance you've heard of him - and even if you don't know his name specifically, you've probably heard of what I suspect is his most popular work, Fearless: One Woman, One Kayak, One Continent, his excellent book about Freya Hoffmeister's circumnavigation of Australia. An amazing feat by an amazing woman, and Joe did a wonderful job of retelling her story.

Joe had a great gift for making anyone he ran into feel like a rock star, though. The last time I saw him was at the club - with Oscar Chalupsky. I'm a solid sea kayaker, but Joe did things like the Molokai Hoe, an annual race from Molokai to Oahu, and Oscar is a surfski god. So I am nowhere up with these guys. And yet Glicker, introducing me to Oscar, came up with a story about the day he ran into me out in Jamaica Bay during a tropical storm. "So I'm out there, blasting around, having a great time, and I'm thinking I've got to be the only person crazy enough to be out there, but then I see another boat and I paddle over to see who it is and it's Bonnie, and she's bobbing around in the waves -- taking pictures!" 
A similarly experienced friend and I had gone out together to test ourselves out; conditions were at the lower end of tropical storm levels, the day and the water were warm, and the wind was from the south so if anything went awry we would blow towards home while we sorted things out. We actually had a great time out there and just cracked up when Glicker went tearing past us on his surfski, throwing a shaka as he went by. He was flying and went considerably farther than John and I, but we all ended up getting back to the dock at the same time, which was just as things were starting to get a bit feisty out there.  

So the story was true, but that he chose that as the story to tell when introducing me to one of the best surfski racers in the world was just so very, very, very Glicker.

Tragically, he passed away from cancer in 2015, far too young. But I think he squeezed more living and joy into his too-short life than some people do into much longer lives.

The Joe Glickman Cup was begun between the 3 oldest paddling clubs in NYC - the Sebago Canoe Club, the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club, and the oldest of all, the Inwood Canoe Club to remember Joe in that spirit of friendly competition and fun at which he excelled. All three clubs have a history as serious racing clubs, and all three have some serious racers who participate, but it's also fun for anyone else who might want to give it a try. The way the Cup works is that over the course of the summer, each club hosts a day. We start out with group paddles, then there are 6 races: 100 meter, 400 meters, and 800 meters, women and men. The first 3 finishers score points for their club, and at the end of the season, the club with the most points takes the cup home.

At Yonkers, the 800 meter races are also the Yonkers Mayor's Cup, with Mayor Mike Spano making the awards. I'm afraid I have no pictures of the award ceremony -- because I was in it!

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Then we feast!

The event has been going on for 4 years now. The first 2 years Sebago got the cup; last year Yonkers won. The mens' races are always pretty exciting - Sebago has some veteran racers, Yonkers has some enthusiastic young men. The first year I think the veterans pretty much mopped up, if I'm recalling correctly - then the young men really got to work on their training, and these days, you just don't know who's going to win. Especially on the longer races - the Yonkers guys have powerful sprints, but on the longer races the experience comes into play. Adding to the fun, one of Sebago's racers, Yossi, loves coaching, and loves seeing people have fun racing, and he started helping to train the Yonkers guys!

Glicker would've loved that part especially.

The women's races are not always as competitive - in fact I try to attend these partly because I have picked up a point or two for Sebago by coming in 3rd out of a field of 3 - all I had to do was find my way across the finish line. Sebago and Inwood each have a serious racer who go to as many of the events as they can; Yonkers also has some great women racers, they don't come out to the other clubs as much but they do turn out for the Yonkers races, and that can really change the outcome. So what can end up happening with the women's races, that's way more fun than the 3 person field, is a setup where there are 2 serious racers and then us more touring-type sea kayakers fighting it out for 3rd.

I did actually manage to take 3rd place in the 400 and 800 at Yonkers with that setup, with some very good competition, and was quite delighted as another reason I've been attending and racing regularly is that I've realized that doing these races is a really good way to gauge my recovery after my own bout with cancer back in the fall, winter, and spring of 2015-16. That took a good bit of the wind out of my sails. I was back on the water one month after my mastectomy in October 2015, and kept paddling all the way through chemo, but I still remember one of the first Sebago group paddles I went on in 2016 - I stopped to take pictures as the group went by, then tried to do my usual "photographer's sprint" to catch up, only to discover that high gear was simply gone! That was a bit jarring.

I haven't been super disciplined about getting back in shape, I always seem to have too much going on to just get myself out on the water for workout paddles with anything approaching regularity, but each summer I've tried to push myself a little bit farther. It's working, I'm making slow but steady progress, and doing these 3 set distances 3 times a year gives me a really good sense of that where I might otherwise be getting really aggravated with myself because I'm not getting faster fast enough to actually tell.

The first 800 meter I did, I think I just did it because it was one of those 3-racer setups. Julie and Julia dwindled into specks in the distance while I came whimpering along behind - still no high gear.

This year, high gear is definitely coming back. I'm still not racing for 1st or 2nd - but I'm also not seeing them disappear in the distance the way they did back in 2016, and I'm able to set what feels like a respectable pace and hold it steady without running out of steam.

I'm pretty happy about that.

Here are a few more pictures from the day, click on the first for a slideshow view. Want to see more, with better quality? visit Flickr.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Sept. 11 - Dust to Deliverance and my own story

I have been doing a 7 book covers in 7 days challenge over on Facebook, invited by my wonderful Aunt Kathy. She challenged me last week and I realized that my 7th day would be September 11th, and I knew what cover I would be sharing today.

In doing so, I ended up sharing a short version of my own story, so I thought I would just share that here today.

 Jessica DuLong is an old friend from my Pier 63 days. She's an engineer on the Fireboat John J. Harvey, which, although retired, served so well at the WTC site. She is also an author, and after untold hours of collecting stories from so many of us who were there on the waterfront that day, she crafted an amazing retelling of the story of the maritime evacuation that went on that day.

I had fled the WTC during the attacks and ended up at Pier 63. I was a partner at the Manhattan Kayak Company at that time, and we were based at Pier 63. I was in the subway station when the 2nd plane hit and managed to get onto a train that pulled in moments after the boom. I didn't care where it was going, it just seemed like the safest way out. It was northbound, so I got off at 23rd street, still not really knowing what had happened. I had been going into the WTC's ground-level mall from outdoors when the first plane hit, fled into the building for shelter without looking up to see what had exploded above my head, and gone into the subway station when the police began evacuating the mall and stopped me from going out the same way I came in - so all I knew was the sound of screaming engines ending in a noise like a gigantic firework, and then, a few minutes later, another boom that set everyone in the subway station running again.

I'd ducked into a turnstile to get out of the stampede, saw the train pulling in downstairs, and made a run for it. When I got off the train at 23rd street, I first stopped at the Moonstruck Diner, where I would often stop for breakfast on my way to a day of teaching or guiding at MKC. Everyone there was looking at the television and that was when I saw what had happened.

 In those days Pier 63 was like my 2nd home so that is where I went next. John Krevey, the owner, saw what was needed and called some of the party boats that would use Pier 63 as a boarding location. The funny thing there is that I didn't actually know how we ended up running a ferry to Weehawken that day until Jessica interviewed me - I think I was still a little bit in shock and just didn't even think to wonder where the boats came from - there they were and that's what we were doing. And to this day I am so grateful that I was there. It was so good to be given a purpose on a terrible day.

Full version of my own story, as written for my family that evening: Link

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Unintentional Neil Simon Tribute Weekend

Saturday - Yonkers

Sunday - Brighton Beach

Actually made for a wonderful weekend. I was in Yonkers yesterday for the 3rd leg of the annual set of races for the Joe Glickman Cup (of which the longest is also the Mayor's Cup) - the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club are great hosts and ran a great day of racing and paddling. It's always so nice to see old friends at the YPRC, and this year I was very happy with how I did in the races, too, taking 3rd place in the 400 and 800 meter -- and this time not because there were 3 of us in the race and all I had to do was find the finish line - that's happened more than once.

I have to say that I am getting quite a collection of 3rd place medals. OK, I did have to throw in my 1st from Empire Kayak's old May Day on the Bay race That was a fun one.

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The Neil Simon connection just hit me as I was on the train to Brighton Beach to go swimming today. We had another beautiful day and I thought about going for a paddle, but the end is in sight for my 2019 outdoor swimming season as the water is cooling down fast. I once again got there early enough to swim as long as I wanted to, and that turned out to be 1.2 miles.

More pix from Yonkers coming soon! 

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Paddling Cayuga

My friend Louise shared this on my Facebook page after I started sharing recollections of the lovely weekend I spent with her helping out with another great Women Swimmin' for Hospicare.

Unfortunately, I did have to hit the road back to NYC on Sunday the 11th of August, but I didn't particularly need to rush off, so we were able to get in a lovely paddle from Taughannock Falls State Park to Lake Ridge Point and back. Conditions were much calmer than they'd been for the swim on Saturday, too bad we couldn't have switched days!

Our original plan had been to paddle and then get in a short swim ourselves before heading back to Louise's place for a light lunch before I headed out, but we had such a good time beachcombing at Lake Ridge Point that we skipped the swim. Cayuga is famous for "lucky stones", smooth beach stones with holes in them. Louise has a very sharp eye for these and I found a couple too, plus a stone bearing the fossil impression of a tiny, ancient clam.

Here are a dozen photos from that lovely afternoon.

Louise's happy little dragon figurehead was inspired by the travels of the Draken Harald HÃ¥rfagre and her Norwegian heritage - she got a local ironworker to craft him for her, with the specific request that it be a friendly dragon, not a mean or scary one. The ironworker succeeded admirably! This was the first time I was seeing the figurehead in person and it's absolutely charming.

Click on a photo for a slideshow view. 

Rainy Labor Day Cooking Post - Venison Stroganoff!

This was a really interesting experiment. I think that for a lot of us middle-class suburban Generation X kids, stroganoff was a dish made with an inexpensive cut of beef and a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup.

 My mom is an excellent cook in the hearty Pennsylvania Dutch tradition - she learned at her mom's elbow and then passed it on to me. Outside of baking, where there's some precision required, recipes are more suggestions than rules, and with the exception of foods I just plain didn't like (like succotash, lima beans kinda just suck) I don't remember her ever serving us something that wasn't basically yummy.

The Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup was definitely part of her repertoire. She made stroganoff and also a chicken dish, both of which I loved as a kid, both of which I cooked for myself for quite some time when I was starting out on my own, and both of which I would enjoy if my mom made them sometime when I was visiting them in NC.

But as cooking got to be more and more something I would do for fun (my mom enjoys cooking but she was feeding the family every day, so shortcuts made life easier), and as I started to get better about reading nutrition labels and realized that there was a lot of sodium in the canned soups, I got away from having them as a cabinet staple.

 I haven't made stroganoff since then, but recently, when I was thinking of something other than chili (good, but I'd done that a couple of times and was ready for something different) to do with some of my prized Jonesville venison (hunted by my own cousin Sharon's husband Scott on the farm that's now been in the family for two generations), stroganoff just sprang to mind. So that's what I did with my lovely free and unplanned day today!

 Not the Campbell's Soup version though. Not for the venison. This was entirely from scratch. Instead of the canned soup, there was heavy cream, homemade stock, a bit of brandy, and 2 kinds of mushrooms (the fresh oyster mushrooms I'd gotten yesterday and then some very expensive dried morels that jumped into my bag while I was waiting out a rainstorm at the Flatbush Food Co-op, a dangerous place to wait out a storm, especially if your last meal was a few hours ago). Which I think is basically your cream of mushroom soup right there. Only with way better mushrooms and a lot less salt. And then of course some spices, and thickened up with sour cream and yogurt at the end (that stayed the same). 

Ingredients on hand in the morning - just needed to get sour cream and yogurt

Perfect rainy day cooking project and came out absolutely delicious. TQ loved it too. Neither of us are sure that we've ever had a stroganoff that didn't involve Campbell's but I will definitely do this again!

BTW, like my mom taught me, I didn't really follow a recipe, but I did look at the one in my Grandma J's Fanny Farmer cookbook and then also a few on line just to plan out what I was going to do with the ingredients I had to create something stroganoffish. This one had a lot of the elements I was looking for. 

Early in the cooking
Dinner is served!

 ps the asparagus jumped into the bag at the co-op too. It was flavorsome but disappointingly stringy. Must be past asparagus season.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

End of August swim at Coney Island

Labor Day weekend came in with some beautiful weather, and I decided to take advantage of it with another swim at Coney Island. I set out with the idea that I would swim a mile; end up swimming a one and a third as I'd gotten there early enough that I could just keep swimming as long as I felt like it, and I kept deciding to go one more jetty. Found these cormorants who were posing so nicely with the Parachute Jump as I made my turn to head back to my starting point at Grimaldo's Chair, where the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers gather through the swimming season.

I rewarded myself with a couple of corn dogs and a lemonade at Paul's Daughter, then stopped to grab a picture of the modern Steeplechase rollercoaster. Sometime I want to go back with my Lumix and see if I can get one where you can make out the horses better, but I just loved the swishy clouds today and had to at least try.

My final stop as I meandered to the train was at the Coney Island History Project booth. They have a really interesting exhibit there right now, Salvation by the Sea: Coney Island's 19th Century Fresh Air Cure and Immigrant Aid Societies, talking about places that were set up for the poor to be able to come spend some time by the sea. I've read a good bit of Coney Island history but this was new to me, so I'm glad I dropped in. Also the cyclops is weirdly adorable, isn't he?

Just a few more pictures after this - click on any of them for a slideshow view Don't forget to see the cormorants in full screen - it was a little tricky to get while treading water, and with the bright sun making it hard to see the screen, but I took a bunch and hoped for the best. I was pretty happy with how it came out!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Cayuga Adventure Continued - Finger Lakes Food, Fun, and Floofs!

Well, ugh, I've had sort of an unexpectedly rough week here in NYC, so I'm going to take another dip back into my lovely weekend in the Finger Lakes region a couple of weeks ago.

Louise and I had originally talked about getting out for a good paddle after Women Swimmin' wrapped up, but with the high winds, the paddlers (both Kayak Safety Team and the escort boats) all got a bit more of a workout than we usually do. By the time things were winding down at the afterparty at the Ithaca Yacht Club, we were pretty wiped out, and there were solid whitecaps out on the lake so it was going to be energetic paddling conditions. I was still game if Louise was, but when I told her I think I'd phrased my willingness in a less than enthusiastic manner - something like "If you still wanted to paddle I guess I could". She didn't hesitate to say "Nope, but thanks for being willing" and then I said "You know what else sounds good? A nap..." and she said "That sounds perfect". So we went back to her place and did just that and it was just the thing.

Before we went to sleep, though, she'd mentioned something about peach picking. I think I slept for about an hour, then woke up, but not hearing any activity from the sun porch where Louise was (I thought) sleeping, I went back to bed and crashed for what ended up being a couple more hours.

When I woke up again that much late, I thought I'd probably messed up the peach picking expedition, but it turned out that we still had JUST enough time, so off we dashed to the Finger Lakes Cider House
This isn't the u-pick type operation I was envisioning when Louise first suggested picking peaches, they have a restaurant and tasting room where where you can try their cider with a nice bite to eat, with most food offerings either grown on the property or sourced from nearby farms. 

And the peaches were LOVELY. This is a variety called "Vivid" - I wonder why? Louise has a friend who works there who'd let us know that these were ready  and heavenly. We each picked a full bag; they were a little bit hard coming off of the trees but a nibble of a windfall promised that they were going to be amazing after a couple of days to ripen. And oh, were they ever. Ate 'em like candy until they were getting so ripe that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish them, at which point I took them to Sebago to share after the August Full Moon Paddle. People's faces as they bit into the slices for the first taste were just priceless!  

We went back into the shop to have our peaches weighed and get a bite to eat and a sip of cider - or so we'd thought. But oh, the horror - their lunch service had ended at 4 and the shop was closing at 6. And it was 5:55! 

Well, this turns out to be an excellent way to get yours truly to run quick and buy everything in your shop. Cider, ginger beer, apple liqueur, jam, a "honey flight", cheese, I basically grabbed stuff until I couldn't hold any more. And it was all delicious! 
We packed up the goodies and headed back towards Louise's place, where she had plans for a most delicious salad with chicken and beets and cranberries (oh my), but then she mentioned something about a nearby place called Brews and Brats. Nothing fancy, nothing pretentious, just brews and brats, popular with local folks. I thought that sounded fantastic so off we went.

This was something local, I wish I could remember because it was very nice.

Their lot was literally carved out of a cornfield, as you can see. And oh, the brats, and oh, the baked beans (appropriately called OMG Baked Beans) and oh, the German potato salad. And with 2 sides I had enough left after getting completely stuffed for a great little breakfast the next morning. 
After dinner, we adjourned to Taughannock Falls State Park for one of the wonderful entries in their summer concert series, the popular local band Maddy Walsh and the Blind Spots.  
Another nice evening by Cayuga Lake with some good music and...
oh my...
Oh, the floof. Hello there. Hey Louise - can you remind me, are we here to hear music, or pet dogs? 
Oh, definitely here to pet dogs. No question!
A few of my Finger Lakes goodies, everything was delicious
And I got utterly silly with the Honey Flight earlier this week. Buckwheat, with its distinctly stronger flavor, remains my favorite Mainland honey. Would still trade it for Hawaiian kiawe honey, which tastes like small-kid-time memories, but in the absence of that, I do love the buckwheat!