Monday, November 18, 2019

North Fork Vacation Day 2: Rough Water Needs Work.(And A Little More Respect)

Uff da...long time no blog. Stuff got in the way.

Anyways - in my last vacation post, I'd been gushing about our lovely sun porch, but mentioned that our love of hanging out there instead of rushing out to seize the day did backfire on us one day.

This is the Orient Point lighthouse. One of our main goals for this trip was to get in a good play session out here. Back before my 2015 breast cancer diagnosis and the subsequent fall/winter/spring round of surgery and treatment, and also back when the club was doing an annual Orient Point trip, TQ and I used to lead rough-water play sessions out here for paddlers who were ready for it.

The trick to it was that we would get there at high water slack. We would paddle down from the Orient Point ferry parking lot. We'd pause on the beach there, point out the string of rocks that extend from the point, talk about what would happen as the water started moving out of the Sound, and then we'd re-launch just as things started moving. This would let everybody start out on some confidence-building easy little swirlies and build up from there as the current picks up.

Left to our own devices, though?

Well - we hung out on the sun porch a couple of hours longer than we should have. It was windy and rough, we paddled out close to max flood and got our backsides handed to us on his and hers plates, pretty much.

No, nothing awful happened. We just got out there & realized we'd bitten off pretty close to more than we could chew. So we turned tail and went home - only because we'd gone all the way out to the lighthouse, getting back was one long freakin' haul. No "fun play session" about it.

Have to try this again sometime with a little more respect for our start-at-slack rule - there's plenty of time

Hey, at least I got a nice photo of TQ at the lighthouse.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

North Fork Vacation 1st Full Day - Lazy day with a walk on the beach

We checked into the Sunset Motel in Greenport late in the afternoon on Sunday to 20th. We went to find some dinner in town and passed the Long Island Kampground, where I've had a great time camping during the North Fork weekends that Sebago used to do regularly - it was a pretty soggy night, though, so I have to admit that it was nice to be driving past it to a nice dry room and not trying to keep the rain out of the tent. Especially since we were both on the tail ends of colds.

Monday turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day, would've been great for kayaking, but with both of us still being under the weather, we ended up just having a quiet day. I'd brought some leftovers, so decided we would have those for breakfast rather than going out, and seeing me pretty happily ensconced on the sun porch with a book and a cup of tea, TQ asked me if I'd mind if he went to get a haircut (his hair gets unruly when it gets beyond a certain length and it was bothering him) and I was absolutely fine with that.

The sun porch was one of a number of nice things about the motel - the room itself was nothing fancy, but it was clean and the bed was comfortable and every room in the place has a nice big screened porch overlooking Long Island Sound. We had wonderful temperatures while we were there, so every morning we ended up just getting up and hanging out here for a while. On Tuesday that got us into some trouble (more on that later) but on Monday morning this was just what the doctor ordered - TQ ran off to find a barber and I just enjoyed my book, my tea, and some peace and quiet. 

This was not that morning, but you can get the general idea!

When TQ got back, he joined me out there. Eventually we decided to go down to the beach for a bit of a stroll. It was beautiful! The water was low (one night a couple of days later we sat on the bottom step of the stairs to the beach looking at the stars and watching the waves roll in almost to our feet) and with a little bit of fun scrambling over boulders we were able to go a fair distance up the beach. The rocks showed fascinating swirling layers, an undercut bank gave us a good look at the root system of the invasive phragmites, we saw deer, dog, and raccoon tracks, and the water was so inviting-looking that if I hadn't been wearing mostly cotton, I think I would've been tempted to take a dip.

Not a fast start to our outdoor activities for the trip - but satisfying. 

Friday, November 08, 2019

Four Years Ago - first paddle after surgery

Photo by our friend Frank F. 

Great memory for today!

This was my first post-mastectomy paddle. I had my surgery in October 2015 and one month very nearly to the day after that I was back in my boat. November 7th. It was one of the shortest paddles TQ and I have ever done together, he and our friend and clubmate Frank just took me to the "Jeep Marsh" (so called because of the engine block that's rusting away in the inlet to the marsh - that's urban paddling for ya, but it's still a pretty place, and close enough that when tides permit, it's a favorite destination for the club's public Open Paddle program in the summertime). We got there while the tide was flooding, there was just enoug water to get in, and then we just sat in the marsh, chatting and watching the brants fly by and the water rise.

I'd never imagined I would be back on the water so soon. I couldn't go far and I couldn't go fast but the joy quotient was immeasurable.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Garden Update - end of season fried rice

Haven't done a garden update in ages - well, I pretty much neglected it horribly all summer and yet somehow it still grew things to eat. Aren't these carrots beautiful? "Carnival Blend" from a Colorado company, Botanical Interests. Sadly, the purple on the purple carrots is only skin-deep, once you peel 'em they're just orange. They were all good to eat, though.

Carrots were a new experiment, they worked pretty well. I pulled these ones the day we got home from vacation, completely ignoring the tall grass that was all over the place. 

Finally made it out to attend to the weeding on Sunday. Brought home more carrots (eaten before this picture), onions (lots more than this, the onions are the ONLY thing in the garden that goes all the way back to 2007, when the Sebago community gardening got going - yes, they even survived Sandy, I took a break from eating them for a long time after that - and they need regular thinning), and the green cherry tomatoes. Nice haul, and there's more out there still. 

Beet tops and green tomatoes may not be traditional fried rice ingredients, and the Russian sausage TQ picked up at a Coney Island grocery store when he had to go to the DMV out there is definitely an unusual ingredient - but it turns out "ljubitelskaja" is an acceptable substitute for Spam in a pinch. With Canarsie and Coney Island represented, this was some serious Brooklyn fried rice - came out good, too! Of course the funny thing is that when I started cooking I thought I was making a little bit of fried rice. Ha ha! 

Monday, November 04, 2019

Inkvember? Ruffle Bar Seal Sighting

As promised/threatened - here's a quick sketch of our Saturday seal sighting on Ruffle Bar!

BTW, speaking of drawing, I did pull off a mostly successful Inktober. I fell off the one drawing a day pace while we were on vacation, but in the end there were 31+ drawings for the month, one for every prompt with a couple of bonus drawings, even! I'll probably write more about that on another night but if you're interested in seeing what I drew, I put them all in a Flickr album. Click here to view.  

Saturday, November 02, 2019

11/2 - A Beautiful Paddle With A Seal Sighting!

April 2018 drawing based on one of Artie Raslich's lovely seal photos from an American Princess sealwatching trip that year. BTW, the American Princess whalewatching season with Gotham Whale has been extended - it's been a great year for seeing whales right here in NYC, and the whales are still here and being seen, so they're going on through November! 

Trip Report, 11/2/2019
So I went for a beautiful paddle with TQ and Chris C (a clubmate who isn't on FB) today - Chris had suggested it to a group of friends and I looked at the forecast (55 degrees, light winds, sunny) and said "Heck yeah".

I forgot my camera so of COURSE there was a harbor seal hauled out on the sandspit on the east side of Ruffle Bar. He looked like this (with no photo I couldn't resist sharing this April 2018 drawing again) only more relaxed and with the NYC skyline clear in the background.

Chris had her phone in her day hatch and we thought of trying to get it out to get a photo, because it was such a good shot, but as we were sitting and talking and looking at the seal, it moved around and started to look at us a little more closely. We didn't want to scare him off the sandbar (the basking is important for them to warm up and rest) so we gave up on getting a photo and moved on.

Might have to be my next drawing - Inktober is inkt-over (I did it, 31+ drawings in October, yay!) so I can be a little more relaxed about my next production - but that was a pretty neat thing to see and would be a good subject for a new drawing. (11/5 update - I drew it, it's at the bottom of the post now)

We also had juvenile black skimmer circle us a few times - he was hanging out a little later in the season than I realized they did, but a look at a bird page said they don't always rush off at the end of the season. There were large and talkative flocks of brants (hrnk hrnk hrnk!), and the first bufflehead ducks I've seen this year.

And a wish loon. Well, it looked like a cormorant to me but the three of us all love loons (Chris does an uncanny imitation of the loon's call) so when we first saw the bird in the basin we wished it was a loon. And as we were discussing it later in the paddle and Chris and I were saying no, it was probably a cormorant, TQ very determinedly said, "It was a wish loon. There are different kinds of loons. Common loons, red-throated loons, and wish loons. That was a wish loon." We were all satisfied with that.

The real loons will be back soon. Always love watching the Jamaica Bay cast of characters change with the seasons.

A splendid couple of hours on the bay. 8.5 miles, mid 50's, breeze 5kts down to nothing. Sweet. 

11/5 update: I drew it! Click on the picture for a better view.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

"River" Reading with Elisha Cooper, Community Bookstore, Park Slope

One more full vacation day before I head back to work, but today I did do a work-related (but in a fantastic way) thing.

Note - Links to additional readings of "River" appear at the end of this post - if you're in the NYC area and interested in the book but haven't got time to read my entire event review, scroll on down to the end; also, click here for book details

It was a stormy, rainy, windy day here in Brooklyn, so not a great day to sneak out for one last paddle (I might do that tomorrow though). I did want to do something though. One of my Sebago friends has been putting together some music sessions and there were enough takers for one today - that was tempting, but then I went on Facebook and saw that Elisha Cooper, author/illustrator of my new favorite Scholastic book, River, was having a reading at the Community Bookstore in Park Slope. The Q train wasn't running this weekend so there was going to be maybe a little extra waiting in the rain for shuttle buses, so I was still ever so slightly on the fence, but when the friend I'd asked for a ride to the club ended up deciding not to go because she got the cold that's been going around (sounds like the same one TQ and I started our vacation with), I decided storytime was the thing to do.

In case you missed my first post about River - I found out about this book from Nikki, a delightful Scholastic sales rep with whom I'm Facebook friends, much earlier in 2019, when she first posted about getting a peek at the F&G (folded and gathered, one of the last steps of a picture book before it finally goes into print - as the name suggests, it's basically the cover and all pages of the book, folded and gathered together in the same way the final book will be printed, but unbound and without the hard cover, providing one last less expensive chance for the author, editor, and design staff to look things over for any final changes that need to be made - also lets the sales reps and other interested parties see something very closely resembling the final book) of a book about a woman DOING A SOLO PADDLE DOWN THE HUDSON.

It's not actually a book about me (in fact, Cooper used his daughters as his models, which I think is pretty cool). But it's about as close to my heart as any book we've published, in the just under 2 decades I've worked for Scholastic, has been - because I paddled part of the voyage that Cooper's strong and competent main character travels, and that trip was one of the best things I have ever done for myself.

And Cooper, an incredibly accomplished author and skillful storyteller, captures the voyage so beautifully. His renditions of the section of the Hudson that I paddled (his character begins at Lake Henderson in the Adirondacks and finishes at Sandy Hook, NJ, while I put in at Waterford and finished in Red Hook, Brooklyn, so she overlaps me by a little - but a stretch that I've paddled on other occasions - at the south end, and by quite a lot at the beginning) are just spot-on and brought memories of my own trip just flooding back.

So I set out into the wind and the downpour to go to his Park Slope story hour - and it was lovely.

The bookstore is a small independent one, so the crowd wasn't huge. The book is interesting in that it's not a goofy silly giggler a la The Wonky Donkey, but Cooper engaged the kids with questions about things like what you would want to bring on a river voyage like this (the kids had some good answers, too), and then did a walk through the book's events, not reading line by line but giving a good sense of the story and sharing the splendid art. I was absolutely delighted to hear one of the parents there say, at the end, that the book was giving her the inspiration to think about doing an adventure with her family - I think that's what this book is all about and it was great to hear somebody pick up on that so immediately and directly.

He finished with an actual little bit of an art lesson and talk about his earliest artistic attempts trying to draw the animals on the farm where he grew up. That was really interesting - particularly his comments about how frustration with not getting things quite right was something that started early on and continues to this day. I think good stuff for kids to hear - helped me too, actually, I fell behind on my Inktober efforts and wasn't particularly thrilled with some of my catch-up efforts, but I came home after the event and sat down and just quit stressing out about making things look nice and just had some fun with the catching up - even did an extra drawing for today's "Coat" prompt, just for kicks.

He finished with some really cute caricatures of the kids who were there - he asked each of them what their favorite thing was and then drew them with those things.

Sorry no pictures - I took some but then quite idiotically hit "delete-all" before I'd actually uploaded to my computer. :( Fun morning, though.

I hadn't gotten my hands on a copy of the book through work yet so I went ahead and got one there (and because I like to support my local booksellers and because I have only once in recent memory walked into a bookstore and walked out without something besides what I came for, I also picked up Where the Crawdads Sing - so many people I know love that book and I thought of it just before I had the staff ring up my copy).

Elisha signed it and this is now a prized possession - it would've been anyways but check out the inscription!

I managed to get it home dry and then spent a lovely bit of time curled up on the Evil Futon of Nap (my ultra-comfy chaise-longue-esque futon that lures me into a doze almost every time I settle in for a read) with the book and a cup of hot cocoa. I didn't even nap this time.

If this sounds like fun to you, and you're in NYC, there are 4 more similar events scheduled.

He's going to be VERY busy next weekend - Patagonia in SoHo on the 2nd - not sure what time, I'll find out UPDATE: Patagonia event cancelled for now, possibility of a reschedule.

On the 3rd, he'll be back in Brooklyn for back-to-back events at the 2 Greenlight Bookstores - 11:30 in Prospect Lefferts Garden, and 1:30 in Fort Greene

And then on the 17th, he'll be at the Stories Bookshop and Storytelling Lab in the North Slope at 10:30 am.

Hope paddling friends - or anyone with a young person who likes to dream of adventures who stumbles across this - can make it!