Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last 2 Paddles of 2009

From December '09 Paddling & Hiking

"Staycations" were apparently all the rage this year, so being the trendy person I am, naturally I just had to make my Christmas/New Year break a non-travelling one!

No, actually I just felt like I could use some time at home - and it's worked out really well. Of course TQ made it better than I ever expected by coming to Brooklyn - I knew he was planning to visit his parents so figured I'd meet him up there, but then he decided to add a Brooklyn stop to his travels & that was great.

This week was free for catching up on the household stuff - Tuesday was the high point of the staycation, as I had a handyman stop by in the morning & fix the bathtub faucet that's been leaking for a couple of months now (boy is it nice to not have to go under the sink to turn the hot water on), and then in the afternoon I I took the subway to Yesterday's News, a very nice little secondhand shop, and they had EXACTLY the kind of little bookcase I'd hoped they might have, fits perfectly in a certain corner where I'd wanted to put a little bookcase - I'd started to have little piles of books all over the place because I had completely run out of bookshelf space & this took care of a few of those. Also finally gave me a good place to put TQ's '08 Christmas gift, a digital picture frame, so last night I spent a very enjoyable evening sorting through my digital pictures files & loading my favorite pictures onto a chip, which is now plugged into the digital picture frame sitting on the inexpensive but attractive (real wood, not Ikea particleboard!) secondhand bookshelf that's filled with books that were formerly living in little random piles on the floor. These are ALL the sorts of things that I've been wanting to do for ages, just never seem to have the time or energy to do. I am missing TQ tonight, wish we could be together for New Year's, but it does make me very happy that I've actually managed to do a lot of the stuff I'd hoped to get done with this "Staycaytion".

Of course, I'd also hoped to do a little PADDLING!!! And I did! :D

The weather's been pretty wild here in the last two weeks of 2009 - we've really run the gamut! My vacation started with a blizzard, of course, and then this week started with gale-force winds (way over my personal limits for winter paddling, no matter how itchy I am for a paddle, checking NOAA & seeing GALE WARNING always makes me decide to skip it)- but there's been some fantastically beautiful days in there too and counting tomorrow's Frostbite Regatta (even though that tends to be a relatively short paddle), I will have gotten in at least 4 paddles over the 2 weeks. Not bad for winter!

The first of the staycation paddles was, of course, that tour of Mill Basin I wrote up earlier this week.

The second was at the instigation of Steve H, the Paddling Chef, who looked at the forecast on Sunday, saw conditions like you see in the picture on top (the dredger Padre Island, moored just outside the Paerdegat, possibly deepening the channel in preparation for bringing in the equipment for replacing our bridge) & called for a paddle. Great call. Milton & I took him up on that. I had the radio on on Sunday morning as I was collecting my kit & did an aural double-take when I heard the announcer say it was 46 degrees - but I heard him right!

Steve picked me up at 9:30; naturally we stopped for tamales again (yay). Martin was waiting for us at the club & we were out on the water as soon after that as we could manage.

The guys were both paddling their beautiful hand-made Greenland-style skin-on-frames. I wish I'd taken a picture of the three of 'em side by side, I would've captioned it "How to make a Romany feel fat".

The water was just mirror-smooth as we set out.

It was a little bit breezy out on the bay - here we are approaching Ruffle Bar. We stopped on this side for a tea break.

Steve suggested lunch here. I was a bit chilly in the breeze & asked if we could nip around to the other side of the island. We did, and Steve found a lovely camel (neither dromedary nor bactrian, but the wooden variety* that serves as a sort of permanent fender around some docks) in the lee of some brush. We had our picnic there, the tamales were as delicious as they were on Tamale Paddle I, and I think we were all half-tempted to lie down & take a little post-tamale nap. It's a rare Northeast winter day when you want to take a nap in the sun on an island in the middle of Jamaica Bay, even with full winter paddling gear on - it felt positively luxurious!

Instead of napping, we did a little beachcombing (although the water was getting pretty high by that point - if we had dozed off, we would've first needed to make sure we had our boats pulled up far enough to keep the rising tide from floating them away) and then set off.

As we rounded the end of Ruffle Bar and the towers of Manhattan came into view, I was blown away by the clarity of the air. I don't think I've ever seen the city quite so clearly defined - there's almost always at least a little haze.

When we got back near the dredger, we stopped to do a few rolls. Warming up (so to speak) for the Frostbite Regatta!

We got back to the clubhouse to find that Stevie, who had been a little under the weather for paddling, had come to hang out for a bit. More luxury, he already had the fire going! Dennis was puttering around the grounds & he came in & joined us too & I think we just all hung out shooting the breeze for at least another hour.

My third paddle of the vacation - and last of 2009 - was yesterday. At one point, conditions yesterday (the 30th) and today (the 31st) were looking pretty OK. Wednesday was supposed to be right around freezing & still a bit on the breezy side, although nothing like Tuesday's icy blast, but pretty and sunny; today, the winds were supposed to die down & there was supposed to be snow turning to rain. I checked to see if anybody else wanted to go. No answers except from Stevie with an outside possibility of joining me if I went on Thursday. Wednesday morning, I checked the forecast against. Wind in the afternoon had settled down to 5-10 kts. Sunny. Thursday? "Ice pellets".

That settled it. I took my last paddle of 2009 yesterday & it was truly stunning. I'd initially thought I'd just do another shortish one over to Mill Basin & back, but it was so beautiful that I ended up putting in around 10 miles, out around the islands & through the marshes. Never got out of my boat, only stopped to take pictures & eventually put on lights. The last leg of my roughly triangular course, returning to the Paerdegat, was amazing - to my left, mother-of-pearl sunset in the sky and on the water - to my right, the nearly full moon rising & reflecting in a silver trail - in front of me, the city, with the lights just beginning to go this is incredibly corny but I found a song I know running through my head, and it goes -

Now I walk in beauty
Beauty lies before me
Beauty is behind me
Above and below me

So. A good finish to my paddling year. Enough talking about it,

Heading down the Paerdegat.

Buoy 12, well rimed from the gales of the preceding days.

Rainbow around the sun (at Elder's Point Marsh).

J-Bay goes golden

Frosted marsh

In the shallow, quiet marsh areas I was paddling through heading for Ruffle Bar, ice was beginning to form in the water, too, from the slush that salt water becomes when it first begins to freeze up to very soft plates on the surface. I stayed right-side up for this trip!

Approaching sunset near Ruffle Bar. Just me and the birds out there.

Moon rising over Ruffle Bar

And that is the last of my 2009 paddling photos.

Next post, Sebago's Frostbite Regatta 2010!

Hauoli Makahiki Hou to all!

*About that camel? That's just one of a number of the interesting animal names you'll find attached to things in a harbor. Earlier this month, the marvelous Bowsprite charmed & delighted all of her readers with a post entitled A Nautical Bestiary - you'll find camels there, and all sorts of other sea-beasties from bees to zinc fish. Oh, and if you happen to be dabbler in traditional music, like me, or even an actual musician, I think you'll get a giggle out of the post about sea chanteys that's the prior post linked to at the end of the Bestiary post.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Please stand by, we are experiencing technical difficulties...

JS-Kit called it an "upgrade", but I'm not of the same opinion.

I'm talking about the comments, of course. Tried leaving one lately? It's not as simple as it used to be.

This blog is fast approaching the 5-year mark. When I started blogging, Blogger's comment system didn't have a character-recognition feature to filter out the junk, and the spambots ran amok. Haloscan offered a simple, free comment system that a lot of people were using. I installed that & was happy enough with it that even though Blogger did get their comment system upgraded to the point where it worked a lot better, I never bothered switching back.

Well, now JS-Kit has purchased Haloscan & all of us Haloscan users were given the option of "upgrading" to Echo (which is that -- thing -- that you see now when you try to leave a comment).

I wish I'd taken the option of exporting when it was offered, but I had no idea how radically different the Echo was going to be.

I'm now trying to get my comments back onto Blogger's system but even that is complicated by the age of my blog - it would seem that I have got an old-school Blogger setup, to the extent the uninstallation instructions at JS-Kit direct me to go to a tab that does not exist for me. If you're a Blogger blogger, you probably have something called "Layout" that maybe features buttons that you click to change features? I have got something called "Template", which is a window that shows the HTML for the blog. Customization was all done by pasting code into that same window. There are no buttons to click to revert.

Ain't progress wunnerful?

Anyways, I've got somebody at JS-Kit trying to help me out (I think, although I never heard back from her after I tried to clarify about the non-existent tab - I suspect they are a bit swamped, though, so I may just be working my way up the queue). I do hope to be back on Blogger comments before too much longer.

Whether all the comments left on Haloscan ever make it into that system remains to be seen. That's a sad thing to contemplate - I frequently think the comments end up being as interesting, if not more interesting, than my original posts!

BTW if there happen to be any other "old-school" Blogger users reading this & you have any hints, I'd love to hear them.

If you can figure out how to use "Echo", that is!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mill Basin Sightseeing

Back to that paddle TQ & I took last week! It was a small-craft advisory day, and I am currently one piece short of my usual winter ensemble (BRAND NEW replacement drysuit is now en route from Arcata, yay, more on that before too long but those who know Kokatat know what I'm talking about :D) so in light of the somewhat less weather-resistant outfit I'd pulled together & the high winds & chilly air, we chose to stick near the shore & go check out Mill Basin - it's a nice sheltered area like the Paerdegat, and had the added bonus of being somewhere TQ hadn't been before.

I thought I was reasonably familiar with Mill Basin. Big flashy houses (see above photo - check out the personal drydock!), motorboats & jetskis, a couple of marinas (home of the good boat Puffin, although we didn't go Puffin-hunting this time because I was pretty sure Brian or Karen had told me she was hauled out for the winter already), Nick's Lobster Dock (sadly dockless these days!), and up at one far end, the King's Plaza Shopping Mall. Interesting to see, but I thought I'd seen it all.

But Mill Basin is shaped sort of like one of those onolicious lobster claws you might enjoy at Nick's. The lower "pincer" is called East Mill Basin, and it turns out that I'd never been all the way down to the end. With TQ, I covered that last bit - and it was fun, because it turns out that at the very end of East Mill Basin is a surprising bit of waterfront industry.

Paddle on past the marina (Bergen Beach Yacht Club perhaps? It sounded like a marimba orchestra tuning up on this windy windy day!) -

and the crane storage -

And there at the end, you'll find Muller Boat Works.

Muller was established in 1938, and was a pretty busy place here at the end of 2009!

Lots of party boats in for winter refits. This one was probably the saddest-looking of the lot. Definitely not MY fantasy!

Paddle Wheel Queen -

The Queen's bottom is not one of those shapely ones that my friend the Tugster enjoys admiring - and in fact I couldn't help noticing there wasn't a paddlewheel under that housing! Maybe that was being worked on in a shed somewhere...

I'd taken her picture earlier this year during the Mayor's Cup, at her home marina at 23rd Street & the East River.

Sea Queen VII was heading out of the basin at the same time as we left - she's one of the Sheepshead Bay charter fishing fleet, and I bet they all go to Muller when they need work.

Most interesting boat there was this one - she's being given a good power wash here & you might not be able to see her name through the spray, but that's the Growler, the small tugboat that's part of the training fleet at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at King's Point.

And here she is lining up for the line toss at the 2006 New York Harbor Tugboat Competition (the only one I've managed to make in all my years in NYC, argh!)

And here's a nice little sampling of what they do with her.

Lots of other interesting boats in various stages of repair, but TQ had been very patient, and we knew we had a bit of a slog back - but I did have to take a couple more pictures as we headed out, because there's also this fascinating little bit of an actual fishing fleet in there too. Not charter boats, either, but small commercial fishing boats -

Plus a couple of...can these be lobster boats? I never imagined we'd have actual lobster-catching lobster boats here in NYC, but those look like lobster traps on the dock. What caught our attention, though, was the names of the boats & their relative appearances. My Way & My Way 2? There has to be a good local story there.

And then there was this great little tug, the Emily -

And finally, one last gratuitous shot of a beautiful evening out on Jamaica Bay.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Fresh Baked

Wish this blog had smell-o-vision!

No, I haven't become a real baker; TQ likes to bake bread & after a few experiments, he got to a honey wheat dough that could reliably be frozen, thawed out & baked. I was the happy recipient of 2 half-loaves (plus a whole bunch of other yummy stuff, including TQ's homemade blackberry jelly and some Amish cheeses - gee, I wonder what I'll have for lunch today!). I just pulled this one out of the oven & oh my does it ever smell good in here!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

These were a few of my favorite posts

Starting with a gratuitous pretty picture - TQ & I went for a great hike in the Pound Ridge Reservation on Christmas Eve Day, it was a beautiful day, there was still lots of snow on the ground & we chose a five and a half mile loop.

I'm back in Brooklyn now, and TQ's back in PA, and I thought my first post when I got home would be about the interesting thing I saw for the first time in Mill Basin when TQ & I picked that as a good destination for a small-craft advisory day.

But I did have a little time to browse some blogs while we were up in CT, and I rather liked the idea Capt. JP recently floated (ha ha) in his blog as a nice end-of-year activity - namely, to look back over our blogs & pick out a few of our favorite posts of 2009.

2009 hasn't been my best year ever. Hasn't quite been the worst year, there are a couple of years that are tied for that honor, but it's been rough. Primarily because of the work situation, which has been pretty close to overwhelming at times (although it seems like everybody I know has either too much work, or none, and I really prefer being in the former situation), and then I'm still missing Hawaii a lot (I do hope to get out there for my 25th high school reunion in 2010, though). I guess you'd think that I'd list TQ moving far enough away that getting to see him has gone from a 2-hour Metro North jaunt to an overnight Greyhound trip as one of my grievances - oddly enough, though, although things haven't worked out quite as he'd hoped, in some ways I still think the move's been a good enough thing for him that it balances out the added aggravation. No, that's not really one of my favorite posts - just one that reflects one major development this year.

So, yeah, not my best year ever. And all along, I sort of felt like that was slopping over here.

But looking things over - I did manage to get in a few good posts here!

Here are a random few:

My favorite actual BOATING post of the year:
I've been a bit bummed out about how my continuing kayak education ground to a halt this year. With the changes in the BCU last year, Sebago chose to re-embrace the ACA. Unfortunately, the training sessions to turn the Sebago coaches back into red-blooded American Canoe Association coastal kayaking instructors of various levels happened right in the middle of budget season at the day job, and asking for a couple of vacation days to go get myself recertified as a kayak instructor would've gone over about as well as ham for Chanukah (heh heh). Didn't even make it up to Lake Sebago to help out with a class once all summer.

But thanks to Sebago's Sailing Committee, I did have one phenomenal learning experience this year, the sort of thing that I just couldn't WAIT to get home & write up. The post ended up being pretty long - I could easily have made it into a 2 or 3 post thing - but it was My First Dinghy Race and in the end I just couldn't stop writing until I had everything down!

It wasn't a good race. Not a bit. But boy, did our sailing co-chairs ever carpe the teachable moment afterwards. I can't read that post without finding myself champing at the bit to try it again.

Possibly the most generally useful post of the year:

Every now and then, I actually post something here that could actually be considered "useful". Usually that's just a regurgitation of somebody else's information - I always end up doing a cold-water boating piece with links in the Spring, plus when specific important safety things come up I'll usually re-post those here (this year's big ones being an Orion flare notice & then of course the ones about the new off-season lifejacket use requirements - a lot of people have come here through searches for both of those this year). But my particular favorite of the actually-trying-to-be-helpful ilk was actually one of my multiple responses to Tillerman's Lists challenge. I think I did three - the first two were painfully kayak-geeky, think it was the 5 things a kayaker needs to pass a New York vessel safety check and then the sixty-seven other things you actually should have to paddle safely - but the last one was 24 Great Ways to Get On The Water In NYC, and although I am not big on self-back-patting, I really thought that I came up with a good assortment of boating possibilities, enough to make just about anybody happy, and none too horribly expensive. That got a ton of hits when it got picked up by NewYorkOlogy, which is a great site for finding fun things to do in NYC.

Post that got the comments that cracked me up the most:
OK - there was one where I posted a terrible, terrible pun in pseudo-French, and that brought on a whole string of like-minded puns (like I think it was Capt. JP himself who offered the motto of the French navy: "A l'eau, c'est l'heure!"). That was a pretty funny bunch of comments but I can't remember the bad pun that started things off. Anybody? The one I do remember as giving me the repeated giggles was the March explanation of where I came up with "frogma" (dogma of the amphibious). The comments were so good, I made a separate post out of them.

Post that incited the most jealousy:

This one.


Check the comments in that post if you don't know who got jealous, or why. A-HA! Added bonus - that was where the original pseudo-French pun popped up!
It's getting late & I need to get up to go paddling in the AM (yay! tamale paddle II!) so I will wrap things up here with one last post...although it does seem odd that I haven't listed a single paddling post here! Well, the time is what it is, so here it is, last but not least:

Best Post Left by Some Total Airhead Who Got Into My Blog After I Forgot To Sign Out After Blogging At Kinko's (That's My Story And I'm Sticking To It):

Totally Cool Soho Stores Fighting Global Warming!

Indeed. One Newtonian air conditioner at a time. That Bubbles, what a piece of work!

Capt. JP, thanks for the good idea. Fun to really take a good look back over the year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First Paddle of the Winter

Conditions weren't great, small craft advisory all day, but it was JUST enough nicer than the day before (Solstice, when we went for a walk in the park & visited Park Slope's Bierkraft store instead of paddling) & SO pretty that we went out yesterday. We paddled into Mill Basin & there was some interesting stuff in there I hadn't seen before - more on that next week though as we are packing up to head to CT for Christmas.

Happy holidays to all!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Solstice Sunset

Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 12/21/09

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Ditmas Park December 018
2 weeks ago


Here it comes, ready or not!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Hot Dogs (and a gallery of 5th Avenue holiday windows)

Holiday Hot Dogss
I've been working a lot of late nights this week getting caught up so I can take the next 2 weeks off, but my friend Mandy got me to take an evening off on Wednesday to go see the holiday windows with her. What a great break!

First we fortified ourselves with some good Italian food, then we set out into a wintery evening & strolled 5th Avenue from Bergdorf Goodman's (where yesterday's beaded bear was part of one of the strange tableaux in the north-facing windows of the store on the west side of the street) down to 34th st, where Mandy jumped in a cab and I headed on over to the subway station near Herald Square. Ended up being a nice way to see the windows; we did skip Rockefeller Center, which is one of my usual stops on my annual holiday lightseeing-sightseeing wanders (interesting how the call of the Teuscher Chocolates shop was muted by cold & a tummy full of pasta), and we did get VERY cold, but we had the windows almost to ourselves!

More photos on Flickr!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Beaded Bear


Beargdorf's, of course!

(click on the picture for a closer look - he's really quite beautifully done)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blogging Is Fun That Way.

Speaking of people who know what they want from life & aren't afraid to go after it, I dropped by the blog of the Gypsy Pirate Wench Varnish Monkey yesterday to see how the move to the Caribbean is treating her (very, very well, hurray!) - and all the sudden the cause (shown above) of the Mystic Traffic Jam (featured here last October) has a name!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Motion of the Ocean

Janna Cawrse Esarey!
Janna Cawrse Esarey!
Janna Cawrse Esarey!

(did I get it right this time? :D)

So as I'd mentioned as I was getting ready to head up to Fishkill for Thanksgiving, my review copy of The Motion of the Ocean, by fellow Whittie Janna Cawrse Esarey, turned up just in time for reading on the train. I enjoyed it - sort of ripped through it normal for me, I have a slightly idiosyncratic reading style, if I enjoy a book at ALL I speed-read it the first time & then if I still like it, I go back & reread. Last week, I finally had a chance to go through it again & yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Again!

I've heard it said that at least one book could be written about almost anyone's life. Most of us just don't ever sit down & do it.

Janna's a writer, of course, and I'd bet that there'll be more books forthcoming - but if somehow this had been her only one, it would've been a good one.

First and foremost - I guess I just always love reading about people who figure out ways to live their dreams (or as Janna & Graeme call it, their Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Partly because it makes me feel like there's hope for me - because when Janna says "I just didn't like the person I'd become through my job: a harried, perfectionist, martyring workaholic", I identify. Oh yes. I sometimes think I should add a tag called "whining about work" to this blog, so I can keep tabs on how often & how badly I do it - but the thing is, I know perfectly well that I've been totally complicit in creating the life I'm living right now. I've got reasons right now that I'm willing to let the status quo remain, but I used to like to say "I don't live to work, I work to live" and I've been feeling like every consecutive year of late has allowed for less and less living ("living" being boating, hiking, getting on the occasional horse, enjoying good food, laughing with friends, etc). I feel deeply in need of re-establishing some balance; I guess part of why I'm not running howling from my job is because part of the problem is that I've inherited a big hairy clean-up job, and the hope of clean-ups is that as you slog through them, things do actually improve.

But yeah, I have been feeling in need of re-establishing some balance. No, I'm not going to talk TQ into buying a boat & going cruising for a couple of years - but just getting back to having time for post-work paddling & sailing next summer would make me very, very happy.

And so, of course, I truly enjoyed reading about somebody else who found herself in a similar overwork situation who, with the encouragement & cooperation of her future husband, Graeme, was able to extricate herself, grab control of her life & go do what she, what they, had long dreamed of doing.

And the story of cruising (and truly doing the groundwork on a new marriage while cruising) that follows was really great. She takes you along for the whole ride - the places they go, the hazards they face (or almost face), the creatures they meet (and eat, and yes, the coconut crab is indeed a creepy-looking creature), her own "hey, I can do this" moments (the ones she says she's embarrassed to tell you about if you're already a sailor, but don't all us boaters remember our own "aha" moments?) the cruising community (I had no idea there was so much of a sense of community among cruisers) and oh, yes, the relationships between two people who've had some ups & downs in their history but willingly agreed to spend a very long time together on a very small boat.

Relationships are strange things these days. Maybe it's just that I live in NYC, but the dating scene (which I've never really gotten invoved in) seems to be full of people who approach it like they are trying on shoes or something. Like if they just go through enough in sequence, eventually, la la la, they'll find the perfect fit.

And of course there's always the latest Dating Advice Book that's sort of encouraging that view, oh, if you do this and this and this, then you will get Mr. or Ms. Perfect, and well-meaning friends full of equally helpful advice (someone once told me in dead seriousness that I really had to start doing different things because I wasn't getting dates through the boating - didn't seem occur to her at all that I was doing the boating because I really liked it & have never been particularly focused on Finding a Man anyways - TQ came along long after she & I lost touch, I'd been paddling for 7 years with no Relationships-with-a-capital-R before he & I started seeing each other). Sometimes seems like all the advice & expectations might just be counter to actually establishing a solid relationship.

Going to sea for a couple of years - what a way to cut through all that stuff & instead set a foundation for something real & solid.

Trial by water, and a good read all the way through.

Thank you, Janna (& indirectly, Graeme, too!) for sharing it.

P.S. - quick note - speaking of big hairy audacious goals, good heavens, I just took a lunchtime glance at Paddling and I see that Freya's almost finished with her Australia circumnavigation!!! Pretty amazing. Wonder what she does next?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another New Yorker Who Wants To Get To The Water!

Interesting article in this week's Villager about yet another New Yorker who's working hard to get access to the water - actual access, not just another promenade - in his community.

Thanks for the heads-up, Soundbounder!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


The Eddie Aikau surfing contest happened yesterday! First one since '04 (the one my dad & I were lucky enough to stumble across and most importantly, lucky enough have somebody pull out of a parking space just as we'd passed the bay). Can't wait to watch some reporting tonight, starting with the Honolulu Star Bulletin's top story videos.

Got the word via New York Outrigger. I'd seen earlier this week that conditions were promising & had been wondering! Thanks NYO!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Some Late Fall Colors in Ditmas Park

Ditmas Park December 031

Ditmas Park December 007

Ditmas Park December 015

Ditmas Park December 018

Ditmas Park December 012

Ditmas Park December 028

Just a few more pictures taken on Sunday. I had a little too much household stuff that needed attention to get away with another day on the water, but I did make time for a long, indirect wander to the Cortelyou Road farmers market & an equally indirect wander back home.

Monday, December 07, 2009

What the Truck? Another Bad Poem With Pictures

What the truck? Salty truck!
Funniest Truck in Ditmas Puhk!

Under attack by a squid with fork!
A Cephalopod odd who's run quite amok!

Thanks, Sunshine Stater for the pickup yuck-yuck!


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Just What the Doctor Ordered (Same As Usual)

Weather on Saturday ended up being really very filthy. I didn't care & thank goodness, neither did my friends who came out for a paddle n' sail (yes! we were joined by Chris in a Sunfish, how cool is that!).

I needed some time on the water this weekend much more than usual. Rough week at work. I've been a little overwhelmed with the volume of work lately, as I've mentioned here a few dozen times, but last week had a whole different tone - it wasn't just the volume, it was that I was just feeling completely unqualified to deal with some of the new developments. My favorite anxiety dream (or at least my commonest one) has always been the one where I get to school, and I can't find my classroom, and then when I find it, the teacher is handing out the final exams for a class I never attended. That's what the entire week felt like - except that I never woke up & discovered it was all just a dream.

My boss actually thanked me at the end of the week for all the hard work, which was nice because I'd spent most of the week feeling like I just wasn't doing well enough. But it was still a long & mentally exhausting week. And it looks like a basic accounting course is looming in my near future, which is not quite something I'd do with my already minimal free time, given my druthers, but will really give me some skills that I lack, and was painfully aware would have helped me a lot last week. I seem to have travelled into territory past that that can be covered by clever use of Excel & it's a bit scary.

A friend from Sebago & I had been planning on a paddle since early in the week. A nice, short, low-key one.I was clinging to the thought of that like a mental lifejacket all through the week. Occasionaly you'll see kayak blog post on the subject of "why I paddle" - well, one of my big reasons for paddling is that I dwell on things a lot, and boating (both sailing & paddling) is an activity that really demands your full attention. Whatever the week's obsessions & stresses, they start falling away from my mind really from the moment I start packing up the gear for the day.

By the time Saturday rolled around, our weather forecast had totally swapped ends. Originally Saturday morning had looked gray & drizzly but not too breezy, with the wind & rain picking up in the afternoon & then Sunday being sunnier but very windy. By Saturday, though, we had a small craft advisory all day on Saturday. With rain.

I was afraid everyone else would want to bail, but no, hurray -

Joan still wanted to try out her physically-therapized shoulder -

Stevie had a new camera he wanted to play with -

And Chris, who I didn't realize was coming because I missed his morning email, had a new drysuit (Christmas present from his wife, who was nice enough to let him open his present early) he wanted to test out!

I had a new drysuit to try out too, but that's a story for another post.

Chris coming out with a dinghy was sort of a fun first - usually groups that go out are either paddlers or sailors. Our dinghy sailors kept going quite a bit further into the Fall this year than they have in the past - but Chris is interested in doing some real frostbiting, he's got a good drysuit & is sorting out the gloves & since at this point it's mostly the kayakers who go all year 'round, he's really interested in joining us! I think that's pretty cool.

And boy, was he having fun out there in the breeze. I WISH this picture had been in focus!

The conditions ended up cutting the paddle & sail a bit short - Joan headed back in early (being appropriately conservative on the newly PT'd shoulder), Chris was not too far behind her, and Stevie & I just went on the the nearby salt marsh (nicknamed "Jeep Marsh" for the defunct jeep in the area) where I went for a swim (intentional), then we stopped and hid behind the dredging barge outside the Paerdegat to do a few rolls (hiding from the motorists on the Belt Parkway, who are known for calling 911 when they see a kayak capsize - it's embarrassing explaining to the people who come to rescue you, but it is nice that people actually notice weird stuff going on with a boat as they are driving past, and it's easy enough to avoid the false alarms, you just don't practice in easy eyeshot of the bridge), and then decided we'd had enough of the snotty weather out there & it was time to retreat to the woodstove & the loaf of bread, the box of wine & the roast chicken that awaited our return (at least we hoped they did, and happily Chris & Joan were nice enough to wait for us to start the indoor picnic!).

Ridiculously short paddle, but a lot of fun & just what I needed to shake off the week.