Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Breckenridge, Colorado, May 26, 2017

One more look at Clear Creek in Georgetown, Colorado

Having reminded myself in my last post that I had some catching up to do on our last few days in Colorado (which were quite glorious), here's the first catch-up post. In my last Colorado post, we'd begun our drive from Lafayette to Buena Vista, and I'd gleefully dragged TQ off on a scenic train ride, which was not part of our original plans but I kinda love old steam trains, and I'd been looking at this one with a lot of interest as a possible day trip from Lafayette but written it off as a little too far, so when I realized we were driving right past it (and I was driving) I just couldn't resist. 

After that we headed on for the day's final destination of Breckenridge, which had looked to me like the perfect place to spend the night on the way to the CKS Paddlefest - and indeed it was. Click here for a Flickr album from Breckenridge - such a pretty town deserves full-sized photos! 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pie Night at Dominique Ansel Kitchen

Jeeze, I have been doing so many fun things lately - kind of making up for the less-great-than-hoped-for summer, but unfortunately I'm in the usual September stress-out time at work, and with a couple of additional projects going on, so I haven't been keeping up with the blogging. Boo!

So there will be some catching up to, even more catching up to do, I haven't even finished Colorado, and then there was Indiana, and now there's more...well, better to be doing too much fun stuff to keep up with than not, right?

Tonight, I wanted to just toss up a quick post about a spectacular food thing that my spectacular-food-loving friend M. finally got me to go to - Pie Night at the Dominique Ansel Kitchen!

I think she's been trying to get me to do this for a couple of years. The first year, they only did one night and it was like winning Lotto to get a ticket. The second year, the menu didn't quite speak to me - I love pie, but the idea of Pie Night is that you get an hour to eat all the pie you want, and M. thinks that the menu was heavily slanted towards the dessert pies with only one or two savory pies, and I do remember thinking that might be more dessert than I could handle (I have quite a sweet tooth but there are limits).

This year, it was four savory pies (oxtail, Old Bay crab pot pie, ham and fontina, and a mushroom cottage pie) and five dessert pies (classic apple, chocolate horchata, plum blackberry almond, peanut butter, and a honey clementine orange blossom cream pie). That was perfect! Mandy was able to nab us a pair of tickets, and oh my, it was WONDERFUL. The only pie I wasn't absolutely crazy about was the mushroom cottage pie, which I should have stayed away from because I'm generally not crazy about mushrooms, and with so many other varieties I should've skipped that one to save room for more of something else.

The pies were great, the mulled wine was delicious and free-flowing, and the service was just fantastic. M. has been having some mobility issues recently (hopefully temporary); the staff couldn't have been more accommodating, first making sure that we got a table right by the door, then bringing her plates of pie so she didn't have to wait in line. And they were so pleasant all the way through -- we were the second seating on Wednesday night, and it's a very popular event, so it's a fast-paced and probably stressful evening for the staff, but they were cheerful and friendly to everyone all the way through.

And did I mention that the pies were great? YUM.

Here are some photos - I forgot my camera but M. let me use her iphone.

Hope this becomes one of our annual things!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dust to Deliverance Book Launch/Reading Suggestion (Jessica DuLong on the 9/11 Boatlift)

For anyone who's read my 9/11 story, you know that after I fled the WTC by subway, I spent the rest of the day at Pier 63 Maritime, where owner John Krevey (now sorely missed after a heart attack some years later took him from us far too young) was able to call in some of the charter boats that would use the barge as a boarding spot to come evacuate people from Manhattan. That effort was part of a much larger one that happened all over the Manhattan waterfront, especially downtown - the maritime community was in a unique position to help those who were trapped in Manhattan when transportation shut down after the attack, and so many did. I will always be grateful that I was able to spend the day helping that way, it was the best thing I could have done after the morning was shattered.

 Jessica DuLong, who I met during my Pier 63 days, is part of the team on the Fireboat John J. Harvey, who went to help with quenching the fires in the ruins beginning that day and staying for many more. In addition to being an engineer on the fireboat, she's a very good author. 
 I loved her first book, My River Chronicles: Rediscovering America On The Hudson, in which she tells the story of how she went from working for a dot com company to being an engineer on an antique fireboat and shares reflections on the Hudson River, industrial history, and the changing role of physical labor in America.

Her next project
 has been a book about the boatlift of 9/11. It should be fascinating. It's been a long and sometimes grueling process for her, interviewing so many people who were involved and sorting through memories that are still very raw for people who were there that day, but she stuck with it and tonight I'm looking forward to attending the book launch for Dust to Deliverance: Untold Stories from the Maritime Evacuation on September 11th.

Sorry about the late notice but on the infinitesimal chance that you are a NYC-area person looking for something very interesting to do tonight, click here for details on the fireboat's website. 7:30 pm. And even if you can't, well, I ordinarily wouldn't recommend a book I haven't read yet, but I know this one will be good.

And while I'm on the topic of the boatlift - here is a video that's always worth sharing again.

Monday, September 11, 2017

9/11 post - views from four boats

With 9/11 falling after this wonderful Triple Cup Weekend, racing and celebrating the water with friends from Sebago, Yonkers, Inwood, and the North Brooklyn Boat Club, my mind is reeling a little bit thinking about how if that day had gone differently, I never would have had the chance to meet so many people who are so important to me today.

 I'm so glad I did.

Love you NY and the local boating community. WTC and Tribute in Light seen from four different boats.

My own 9/11 story.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Sunset Sail on the Schooner America 2.0

Boy, I go from thinking maybe I should let the blog have a summer hiatus because I'm not doing anything fun, to having so many things I want to share that I hardly know where to start. So many pictures, in particular -- there was the trip to the midwest, last weekend was the tugboat race, and then this weekend is the weekend of three cups - the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club Mayor's Cup, the final races of the Joe Glickman Cup, and then tomorrow it's the annual Sebago Cup cruising race, which I'm in but doing something a little different from my usual Sunfish this year. Should be fun!

Tons of pix to share, if I ever finish sorting them, but I'm going to start with a Flickr album of pix from a sail I took last week after the 25th annual Great North River Tugboat Race and Skills Contest (which tons of fun, as always, and my first time volunteering, so extra neat). After enjoying a post-race drink with some of the other volunteers, I decided to run down to Classic Harbor Lines at Chelsea Piers and see if I could get on the 4:00 sail. I would've if they'd still had a sail at 4:00. but they've scooted their trip times forward a little bit as the sunset is creeping up to an earlier and earlier time.

I ended up with a choice - 4:00 architecture tour on the M.V. Manhattan, 6:00 sail on the Adirondack (the schooner I used to work on back when I was part-time crew for them), or a 6:30 sail on the America 2.0, with my old friend Capt. Kat, who was one of my skippers back then. That was a bit of a wait, but I had a book, some errands, and a bit of a yearning for a nap, so that wasn't a problem. I was glad I did, it's always wonderful to sail with Kat, I actually hadn't been on the America 2.0 before so it was about time, and then the sunset was just heavenly. A sample phot above, and here's a Flickr album - it was too beautiful a night (and too many pictures) to just do blogger uploads! Enjoy!

Friday, September 08, 2017

Friday reflection

Sunset, 1/21/2015, Ensenada Honda, Vieques. We had the bay entirely to ourselves, and I think this was where I went up on deck in the middle of the night to find things so still that the stars in the sky were perfectly reflected on the mirror of the bay and it was as though our boat was floating in a sphere of stars.

Thinking of this beautiful place and those who are and have been in the path of Irma (and possibly Jose). So awful seeing all that's happened down there.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Can students return a billion oysters to a New York harbor?

Can students return a billion oysters to a New York harbor?: Oysters were once abundant in New York City, but decades of over-harvesting and pollution led to their near-extinction there.

Nice video from PBS (that's their tagline above), worth a quick share. We've had an oyster cage on the dock at Sebago for a while and earlier this week I saw a post from one of my paddling friends that the Billion Oyster Project will officially be coming to Sebago soon!

Friday morning update - Look in the comments for more details about the Sebago project, from clubmate Jeff K. Great stuff, very exciting. Also, we have 8 oyster cages on the dock, not 1! 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Lau Hala weaving workshop with Paula Fuga

So it didn't get off to the start I'd hoped for, but somewhere around my road trip to Ithaca, my summer 2017 got back on track. The week before Labor Day and Labor Day weekend were especially rich - I had a wonderful trip to Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan for the wedding of a cousin once removed, that's where the lake I showed a couple of days ago in the "Not Brooklyn" post was, and then I came back to a reasonably quiet couple of days at work, with time for cheesemaking one night and a wonderful lau hala weaving workshop another night.

The weaving workshop was sponsored by Hālāwai. I am so glad to have gotten more involved with this excellent not-for-profit dedicated to sharing Hawaiian culture in NYC last year while helping out with welcoming the voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa to NYC during her around-the-world Mālama Honua voyage. I'd known about them for years but only ever made it to a couple of the Hawai'i picnics before; now I'm much more in the loop about what's going on and I was delighted when this workshop popped up on my Facebook feed.

Our kumu (teacher) for the evening was Paula Fuga; she's a highly regarded musician and this was the 3rd of 3 events she was doing during this visit to NYC. The first was a concert, the second a songwriting/storytelling/ukulele workshop that I told some of my musically inclined friends about, because it sounded great. I couldn't attend either of those because they happened while I was at the wedding, but this one was the day after I got back, nice to have something to look forward to right after the family vacation!

It ended up being such a good evening, Paula is an excellent teacher and it was such a nice group that gathered to learn from her. Lau hala weaving is a hobby of Paula's and she thought it would be fun to teach this while she was here. She'd actually put together kits for us with the leaves all prepared for the weaving - she told us that she'd done this for all of the friends and family at her own wedding, too, and that the leaves we would be using were from the very same tree. That makes these so special!

This workshop was also special to me for a personal reason. This is actually the second time I've made a lau hala bracelet; the first time was at the Bishop Museum on O'ahu when I was back for my 30th 'Iolani class reunion. I never finished blogging about that trip, I made it through Day 4 (a two-post report because I had had too good a day to squeeze everything into one). In the second Day 4 post, I made a vague reference to September going like a runaway train "as usual, and then some", but added that I wasn't ready to talk about it and then went cheerfully off into that day's selection of fun in Hawai'i.

The "and then some" part was of course dealing with breast cancer. Once you've figured out you have that, boy do you get busy, so many things to do and all of them time sensitive. After that Day 4 report, the blogging petered off to a trickle up until after October as I scrambled to get through all of the medical appointments plus all of the work that I wanted to get done before I was out for three weeks (suggested recovery time for the type of mastectomy I had). Never circled back to share the rest of the trip after that, but my afternoon at the Bishop Museum was one of the things that I would've gotten to if everything hadn't gone so horribly awry with my health.

The bracelet making there was part of an exhibit they'd had about the importance of lau hala and weaving in Hawaiian life - so many things could be made from the tough yet flexible leaf (lau) of the pandanus tree (hala) (I didn't actually know the distinction until Paula started off her worksho by telling us a little about the materials we would be using - always interesting to learn something new like that).

sailing canoe with woven sail 

model wa'a kaulua (double-hulled canoe) with woven sails

The exhibit was over (the canoes above were part of the regular exhibits, I added them in here because thought they were a great example of the sheer working utility of Hawaiian weaving) and the gallery that had housed it was closed while it was being taken down, but museum staff member Moses Goods was still teaching visitors to weave a lauhala bracelet. 

I always enjoy making things with my hands, so I decided to participate. Moses started out by telling us about the Hawaiian understanding that when you create something, you should be mindful of your thoughts and feelings and surroundings, because those all become part of what you are making. 


So I ended up with this bracelet that when I look at it or wear it, I think of how happy I was to be there in da 'aina, in a place I'd loved when I was a kid and still do today, making something under the eye of someone so willing to share his skill and knowledge with visitors...but then there was also the sickness hidden away in me, even though I didn't know it yet. I found the lump shortly after I got back to NYC - still grateful I didn't find it before or during the trip, wouldn't have made any difference if I'd found it sooner except to fill an amazing visit to a place that will always feel like home with worry. The bracelet I made that day always reminds me of that whole intense shift from the beauty of the trip to the shock of finding the lump and then the intent march through diagnosis and on into treatment.

The one I made at Paula's workshop just seems to balance that. I've just passed the 2 year mark of discovery and diagnoses and of course that's marked with all of my doctors wanting to see how I'm doing - and the general consensus is that everything's good, I'm as healthy as a horse and likely to continue being that way for the foreseeable future. You're not considered to be entirely in the clear until 5 years later, but so far so good, definitely. And I sat there in the classroom in Manhattan, thinking how happy I was to be there in good health, with friends all around, weaving this second bracelet under Paula and Kapena's guidance. For a second when she was passing out the kits, I thought it was going to be the same bracelet - but it turned out to be somewhat similar as far as size and simplicity (both were attractive yet simple patterns, perfect for inexperienced weavers), but quite a different pattern. A complementary set, one for before and one for after, without anyone having planned it at all.

Very neat. I was so glad I was able to go. 

Here are some pictures from the workshop, you can see how much fun we had - click for a slideshow view - and then down at the end there's a link to a page about Paula that you might enjoy. 
And here's a link to Hawaiian footwear company OluKai's "Walk Story" (play on "talk story") featuring Paula - it's a nice little intro with a lovely song. They talk about her Motown influence - well, she was pretty excited about her Labor Day weekend plans - she was going to go hear Aretha Franklin sing! 

Friday, September 01, 2017


So I read this post at the No More Mr. Nice Pie this afternoon and as I read it it finally sank in to my summer-lovin' skull that yes, really, it's September and the peaches and corn won't be around much longer. NOOOO! With a 3-day weekend it's always OK to leave early (I'd been wrapping things up anyways), so I dashed right off to the Union Square greenmarket. I may have had a slight case of eyesbiggerthanstomachitis, though.

:D />

thinking peaches and mozzarella for breakfast. yum.

update: 9/2/2017 with watermelon and kalua pig. Yes, yum.

Say cheese!

I hadn't made cheese for a long time, but I recently helped out with a chicken-sitting stint for friends who have a backyard coop and some garden beds in their backyard, and I had one beautiful orange tomato left, and I'd been wanting to see how mozzarella made from this delicious Jersey cow milk from Ithaca that they sometimes have at the local food coop would be.

Answer: pretty darned good.

To borrow from my own FB post - you have to admire the first person way back when who looked at milk that was in the first steps of the cheesification process and actually figured out that this wasn't as bad as it looked!

Warming slowly. Citric acid was added at 85 degrees and that's started things separating, the milk is now approaching 100 degrees and time for the rennet.

Curds and whey. If you ever wondered exactly what Little Miss Muffet was eating, now you know. It starts out a little tidier, but I've started scooping out the curds into a colander for draining. 

Ready for draining

Mostly drained

Broken up for heating in the whey. You can heat in a microwave, too, but mine (an ancient Half-Pint, with an actual turning dial for timing instead of the normal modern keypad, inherited from a departing housemate back in the 90's) broke last winter and I've found I don't really miss it that much. 


Unfortunately no fresh basil, but I did have some around drying and that worked OK. Nice bedtime snack.
BTW if you are interested in cheesemaking, I've been pretty happy with the 2 kits I started out with: a mozzarella kit from Roaring Brook Dairy and a basic cheesemaking kit from New England Cheesemaking Supply. The New England Cheesemaking Supply site is really beginner-friendly, with a whole how-to section. When I'm ready for a resupply, I'll probably just hit Murray's Cheese and get the components individually, but it was nice to start with a kit with everything you need plus good clear instructions. (ps these are unpaid plugs, just things/stores I've tried and been happy with). 

So far I've only tried mozzarella and cottage cheese. Maybe someday I'll try something that takes aging but for now I've been happy with the instant-gratification cheeses. Cottage cheese is ridiculously easy, although the first time I made it I had to get up at 4 am to finish it because I didn't read the instructions all the way through and got to the part where it said "Now turn off the stove and put the lid on the pot and let it sit for 6 hours" at 10 pm - oops! Was good, though. Mozzarella feels a little more involved because there is heating and kneading involved, but it's so cool when all the sudden the curd turns into recognizable "mootz", and the result is pretty good - OK, not as good as what I can get at any of the local Italian specialty markets but I do really enjoy the making, it's a fun messing-about-in-the-kitchen project.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Historic Aircraft Restoration Project/Hangar B Ranger Tour Paddle (Floyd Bennett Field)

We've been making an effort at the Sebago Canoe Club to add more trips suitable for anyone here as the summer is winding down. Last Spring, we lost our wonderful commodore emeritus and sea kayak chair Tony Pignatello to cancer, and we're feeling his absence deeply at the club - he was such an amazingly warm and welcoming person and he did so much to make sure that new members felt like they'd found the place they'd been looking for all along. He was a great trip leader and always watched out for the less experienced paddlers, he had this beautifully calm style of keeping his groups in good order and making sure everybody was doing OK, being very clear about where our next break would be and then making sure everybody got a chance to rest when we got there. One common mistake in trip leading is to hold the front of the group until the folks at the back catch up, and then start paddling again when they do, when it's the poor folks at the back who might really want to have a break for a minute - Tony never did that to people, you knew everything was going to be OK when you were on one of his trips, and you also knew that there was a good chance that you would all end up drinking some of his box wine and talking story afterwards (the post I linked his name to was just classic Tony, just how things were when he was there). He was a marvelous leader and we miss him very much.

Without him serving as a one-man welcoming committee for the club (well, not really one-man, his lovely wife Fran was part of the team, she's also an amazing person), the rest of us are trying to step up a little more to make sure that our newer and/or less experienced members are made welcome, and I was delighted to come up with an offering last weekend that was interesting and unusual while also being doable for just about anyone. The paddle was a short one, just about three miles each way, mostly along the shoreline, and the destination was Hangar B at neighboring Floyd Bennett Field, part of the National Park Service's Gateway Recreation Area.

I'd actually been plotting this trip for a long time. Hangar B houses a great program called the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (H.A.R.P.), a dedicated group of volunteers who restore and maintain old planes and helicopters and also build full-sized models (non-flying) for the collection. I found out about it when I went out paddling back in 2008 with a few friends from Sebago; I can't remember who had the idea to stop at Hangar B but my jaw dropped when we walked in there. I'd been back a couple of times and I'd long had it in mind that it would be really neat to see if I could line up a tour of the place and the planes by someone knowledgeable.

That idea got put on the back burner for a while when the hangar had to be closed for a while for roof repairs, but when I heard they'd re-opened, I started thinking about it again. The head ranger at Floyd Bennett Field is a paddler himself, he's a really good guy and a good friend of Sebago's; earlier this summer I fortuitously ran into him out on the water and ran this idea past him. Well, it turns out that there didn't need to be any "lining up" done for a tour - there's a guided ranger tour every Sunday during the summer. Starts at 2, lasts about 2 hours; currents last Sunday were perfect, so I figured out the schedule and announced it on the Google group and ended up with a group of 17 up for it!

It ended up being a really good tour; our tour guide, Ranger Lincoln, was incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about sharing what he knew about the aircraft and the facility. He took us around the various aircraft in chronological order, telling about each aircraft and then tying it in with what would have been going on at Floyd Bennett Field at that time. I'd thoroughly enjoyed just walking around and seeing the planes and reading the information provided on my earlier visits, but the ranger's approach gave so much more depth and historical perspective. As a special bonus, on the ranger tour, you get to board the Coast Guard rescue helicopter they have in the collection, you learn some interesting stuff about the development of the helicopter as a rescue craft, and the ranger demonstrates how the winch operator actually runs the show during the lowering and lifting phase of a rescue. As I said to my friends, I sincerely hope that's the closest view any of us ever get of how a Coast Guard rescue works (and I got some "Amen to that" responses). Really interesting to see, though!

I enjoyed the visit very much, and it seemed others did too. It's a really good introduction to one aspect of the area's history, and I think I'm going to make this a regular thing, once a summer at least.

Sound interesting? You don't need a boat to get there, here's the information on the NPS website.

And here are some pictures, of course. Fun place for picture taking. As usual, click on any picture for a slideshow view. Enjoy!