Monday, February 15, 2021

Coney Island Polar Bears Snow Swim!


I haven't been able to get out to play in the snow we've finally been having this winter, but I've been vicariously enjoying friends' photos and videos. Here's a lovely video from one of the Coney Island Polar bears - enjoy!

The Coney Island Polar Bears are a remarkable crew. A lot of people just think of the big New Year's Day plunge when they see "Polar Bears" but that's actually an event that the Bears sponsor and oversee for the NYC community. It's always a fundraiser for some worthwhile group, and the Bears put in a LOT of work to make sure it's fun and safe for everyone. 

The club swims every weekend all winter, plus pretty much any time it snows.

This winter has been a true test of polar bear fortitude - in normal years the Coney Island Aquarium has made their Education Hall available to the Bears for their regular weekend swims, so there's a warm place to gather before and after the swims. That's not happening this year, but the Bears swim on!

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Midwood In The Snow, or, Good Heavens, Hi, I'm Still Here!

Hello hello from snowy snowy Brooklyn! Can't believe I didn't post ONCE through all of January - I have been planning to do but not actually doing an update post for a while now, January got so strange I guess I just got a little tongue-tied. Blogger's block? Anyhow, I will try to come back to that pretty soon but today, I got a few nice photos of my neighborhood in snow on my way home from chemo and thought I would share those.  

Click on any photo for a full sized view; hope you enjoy! 


Saturday, December 12, 2020

Escape from Black Friday 2020 - trip report & photos!

 My favorite photo from my wonderful Escape from Black Friday. Click any photo for a slideshow view!

Finally getting back to this after getting a little bogged down after my "Masked Marauders" post. Remember how happy I looked in that post? 

This was an extra-special Escape. Other years it's just been a given that I'll get out for something, outside, hiking or paddling depending on conditions, the day after Thanksgiving, but this year, I was still recuperating from my October illness and had conditions been anything but perfect, my "escape" would most likely have been limited to a short stroll in Prospect Park, or maybe the Coney Island Boardwalk. Either of which would have been nice enough but not quite as "escapeist" - so I was just thrilled to bits when the stars (and weather, and a lovely offer from a friend) all aligned so that I was able to get out on the water for the first time since our vacation in September! 

And I had OPTIONS! The Sebago Canoe Club traditionally has a paddle & leftover potluck the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving. This year's COVID rules precluded the potlucking but one of our best trip leaders did put out the call for people with winter gear to join her on Saturday. 

That was VERY tempting - I hadn't seen folks at the club in so long, and although I do like the Escape from Black Friday theme, I'm not dead set on Friday if something neat presents itself on Saturday. This time I was hesitant to join a club paddle, though. I was at a stage in recuperation from October's illness where if I was sitting in a chair at home, I would feel like I could do anything I ever did, but then I would go out for a walk and be utterly out of gas after a mile or so. So I really had no idea how I would do in my boat, and I absolutely didn't want to be the one who set out from the dock full of beans and happy to be there and then after a mile have to ask someone else to cut their paddle short to escort me back to the club. Someone would have done it and most likely would have been great about it - we do watch out for each other - but I would've felt very bad about cutting into their fun. 

And I did have another option, which in the end I decided was more sensible. One of my closer paddling friends who's been keeping abreast of my medical woes had kindly offered to take me out for some low-key paddles to ease back in; I found out from her Facebook page that she was around for Thanksgiving, and Friday's forecast was actually stunning, with lighter winds than Saturday - perfect for a test paddle! I got in touch with her, and on Friday morning, we headed for the club - where we found a subset of "the usual suspects", the group of friends I'd been doing a lot of paddles with over the summer, arriving at the same time! The group was small because of the club paddle the next day, but what a nice surprise to see them there. 

And I had a nice surprise as far as my paddling stamina - I'm definitely not where I was in September, but M. and I set out with them and I was able to keep up (even getting out in front for some of the time) for quite a while, before deciding that I had probably gone far enough after a bit over 3 miles (just to where you hang a right to head out of the inlet). When I was being discharged from the hospital and given recommendations for getting back in shape, they warned me to remember that as I increased my walking distance, I would still need to get back from wherever I went - definitely the case for paddling, too. M. and I had explained what we were doing before we launched, so nobody was worried when we got to the inlet and I decided that would be my turnaround point, and that worked out well. I think having the others turn up gave me a little more energy and confidence, when I'd been feeling a little timid about pushing it, but we did go back to the club in a much lower gear, with a tea break midway back, and I was quite ready to get off the water when we got back to the dock. 

In other words - just about as perfect a first paddle as I could've asked for. I'm so grateful! 

Unfortunately the next weekend was stormy, and this weekend I've just had a chemo port put in & paddling was definitely not on the list of approved activities for the day after that procedure (I wasn't even allowed to take a shower today) - but I'm really hoping to get in more good paddling over the winter. 

And here's more pictures! 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

Happy Thanksgiving 2020! Ticked-Off Turkey is still as ticked-off as he was when I made him 10 years ago, but I'm actually very grateful for a lot of things right now, even here at the end of one of the strangest years I've ever seen. Best to all from Brooklyn, NY.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Jamaica Bay swan rescue

 No photos or stories of my own today, sorry (oops, ok, a doodle slipped in at the end!) - I think we've all had a rough week and I just can't resist sharing this really lovely NY Times story about New Yorkers rescuing an injured swan from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Most fortunate swan, to be found by the particular woman who found her - a former animal care manager at Manhattan's Wild Bird Fund. I would be scared to get close to a swan even if it did look injured, I think a lot of us would, but Ms. Cordova-Rojas knew exactly what to do, and found the helpers she needed when she needed them, too. Hooray for these good New Yorkers! 

Click here to read the story. Feels so good to share this tonight. 

And it's so good to see such good publicity for the Wild Bird Fund - I first learned about them after my own encounter with a bird in need of assistance, a woodcock I found lying stunned on the sidewalk on Broadway after a late night at work. A friend
 at my kayak club is a trained rescuers for the WBF, and he had a ton of good information about what to do should I ever find another dazed bird lying on the sidewalk. Birds & NYC window reflections are a bad combination, they just think it's sky, and my friend mentioned that woodcocks are especially at risk because they habitually fly low when escaping a threat, and also have eyes set far back on their heads, making it hard to see what they need to in a confusing streetscape of light and reflection. 

click here for my blog post about that rather surreal-feeling evening!

Oh, and here is a picture after all - I hadn't drawn in a while before the evening I tried to help that bird, but it was such an attractive bird that I had to try to draw it in happier circumstances later. BTW, woodcocks are also known as "timberdoodles", so this was my timberdoodle doodle! :D 

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Walking again!

So remember that time I went to cast my early vote in a wheelchair? Amazing to think that was just 2 weeks ago, especially with all the breath-holding this week - it's felt like a month! Also, if you missed it on Facebook, you may not remember this as somehow it didn't make it into the blog here, I skipped straight from the medical update to that lovely Halloween sail. 

So anyways - I had intended to join in the early voting we have here in NYC, but I had of course had absolutely no clue that I was going to be so dreadfully shaky on my pins after 2 weeks in the hospital when the time rolled around! It wasn't that I couldn't walk at all but at this point, one week after my release, I'm seriously not sure I could've made it once around my own block, let alone to Brooklyn College, my early polling location, about 3/4 of a mile away. Also really didn't want to be on public transportation yet, so I asked some friends in the neighborhood if they could help. My friend Gail came through immediately and also had the very good idea of the wheelchair; she has some friends whose daughther has a small theater company and Gail was able to borrow an old but fully functional wheelchair from the prop deck - that worked out so well. 

That was the 26th of October. My new chemo was starting on the 27th, and I didn't know how that was going to go, hence my hurry to vote before that. As it happened, the new chemo is going fine and I'm very happy to report that today I actually walked a mile and a half! Still very slowly, but I went up to the Little Free Library up near Courtelyou Road, a few blocks to the north, to drop off some books I was done with, and then I just wandered about enjoying the weather (amazing, 72 degrees when I went out in the afternoon) and the foliage, which is getting lovely. Here are a few samples, click any photo for a slideshow view.  


Sunday, November 01, 2020

Halloween Sail on the Schooner Adirondack

Well, what a glorious day. I'm still not very energetic these days, nothing much more than short walks in the neighborhood, but word made it back to an old friend on the Schooner Adirondack that I might want to go for a boat ride. Halloween afternoon turned out to be a glorious day, and I'm so glad TQ and I were able to go! Let's hear it for little birds - thank you!

And in this case I think the pictures are worth more than words - so here you are. Hopefully click on any photo for a slideshow view!