Sunday, August 02, 2020

Perfect Weekend Part 3 - Swimming!

Part 3 of the perfect weekend (now 2 weeks ago) was finally getting in a swim at Brighton Beach! I'd been craving a swim all July and probably going back into June, finally got my act together and went on the 19th. 

Subway was somewhat worrisome; most of my subway ventures have been to midtown for doctors' appointments, and on those trips, the subways weren't crowded and almost everybody was wearing masks. The Q to the beach had a lot more riders and I think the festive air of being beach-bound on a hot day seemed to make people a little loosey-goosey about masks - people still had 'em but there were a lot of under-the-nose masks, chin masks, or just held in the hand masks. I was unfortunately just wearing one of the surgical masks I wear for day to day errands - I actually have a couple of N95's, one of which a friend who's a nurse gave me specifically for doctor visits. I have no idea why I didn't think to wear that on the subway but when I posted about this on FB, another friend who's a nurse (thanks Laura!) suggested getting an N95 to make beachgoing a little safer for myself. My response was something along the lines of "Oh, derp. I have one." So that'll help.  

Would also probably help if I went earlier - I'd been on the fence between a swim and a lazy day at home, didn't decide until I think 2:00 or so, and then of course it took me longer than I thought to get my gear together. 

The beach threw me for a bit of a loop, too - the groups I've been paddling with at Sebago, which have tended to max out at maybe 15, and usually less, have been the biggest crowds I've been in since March. Now, if you know Coney Island and Brighton Beach at all, and you look at these photos,  you'll see that this is a very thin crowd compared to normal years - but after all that self-isolation this just felt like THRONGS. I was a little bit freaked out and thinking of maybe going home when one of the CIBBOWS  crew happened by and talked me down (ok, it wasn't that hard, but he saw me and said hello at a really good time to get me back into "gotta swim" mindset). 

So I joined the CIBBOWS group and went for a fun short swim. It was breezy, and a little bit bouncy, and the current was running pretty hard towards Jamaica Bay, so it was a little bit like swimming on a treadmill, but I had dinner plans involving some greenmarket goodness I'd picked up in the morning, and wanted to be home by a certain time to get going on that, so knowing that I would be swept back to my starting point at Grimaldo's Chair tout de suite when I turned around was actually helpful. 

And it just felt great to be back in the ocean for even a short swim, as you'll be able to see from my three releasing-my-inner-mermaid selfies! 

In fact so good that I did pretty much an exact repeat, right down to what the current was doing, yesterday. Conditions yesterday were much quieter, I did more crawl and less breast stroke (my fallback stroke when I'm feeling a little challenged) and even some backstroke, enjoying looking up at beautiful fishscale clouds in the blue sky. Sorry, no pix from yesterday, I'd once again taken some time to decide to go, and once again had some cooking plans, so I left the camera home so I would swim instead of float around taking pictures. It was a short swim again but going against the current made it a good workout. I renewed my CIBBOWS membership yesterday too as swimming feels great.

And there was a paddle this weekend too - only thing missing from perfection this time was the peaches, the offerings at the greenmarket really just didn't look ready. But I'm trying plums instead! 

That's it for the verbiage - click any photo for a slideshow view.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Skywatch Friday, Midwood, Brooklyn

I still have one more post to do from last weekend's perfect weekend series - but we've had some dramatic weather here in NYC this week and I thought I would do another Skywatch Friday post. These were from a walk I took last night - I stayed pretty close to home in case the skies opened up; they threatened to do that at one point but after a few enormous raindrops sent all us pedestrians skittering for awnings, the sky said "Ha ha, just kidding" and went back to just being dramatic.

Just pictures after this - click on the first one for a slideshow view. Enjoy!  

Thursday, July 23, 2020

NYC - Scabby the Rat Says "We're Still Here!"

Things are still strange in NYC - but hey, where there's giant inflatable rats, there's hope.

I don't have a smartphone, but I always throw at least my little Optio in my bag when I'm heading into Manhattan these days, because you just never know what you might see. 

I was really glad I did that yesterday -- what a kick to see these classic symbols of NYC union protest! I was on my way to one of my appointments at the NYU Langone Laura Perlmutter Imaging Center on 34th Street; I'd taken the B train to Herald Square and caught the bus from there* - spotted these outside the Empire State Building and walked back to take a picture on my way home afterwards. 

I shared these on FB yesterday and a friend asked about the symbolism and I realized that I didn't really know precisely. You see them in NYC pretty regularly and I did know that they were connected with union protests, but I went looking for more detail and found a very informative article about the history of Scabby the Rat. That's right, they not only have a very specific message, they have a name! 

The cat, on the other hand, is a new one to me. The balloon company that created Scabby also offers a Fat Cat balloon, but he's much more cartoony, dressed in top hat and tux, with one fist clenched around a laborer's neck and the other around a money bag. Not sure whether this one is a Fat Cat or the opposite, the union come to catch the rats - he looks pretty benign compared to the obviously nasty Scabby, right? 

Anyways, weirdly nice to see this normal bit of NYC weirdness after all the weirder weirdness we've seen here in 2020. 

And here's Scabby all ready to go full King Kong on the Empire State Building!

*Notes for friends concerned about me taking public transportation: 
1. I wore the N95 mask a nurse friend gave me specifically for wearing to appointments.
2. Neither the subway nor the bus were too crowded, and both pretty clean. 
3. Almost all of the other passengers were wearing masks, and wearing them right. Nice!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Perfect Weekend Part 2 - PEACHES!

I started off Sunday with a trip to the Courtelyou Road greenmarket. I have been jonesing for peaches for a couple of weeks now, and yesterday, one of the stands finally had Jersey peaches!

You aren't allowed to touch things at the greenmarket these days, so no picking up the peaches to feel whether they have a promising bit of give to them, but I was there pretty early and the vendor picked 6 splendid-looking peaches out for me, and then threw in a bonus one after he'd weighed them.

They weren't quite ready to eat on Sunday, but by Monday morning, this one had softened up and begun emitting a luscious scent. I set it on a silk pillow so that I could photograph it like the precious thing it was - ahhh, the first peach of 2020!

And then I cut it up and had it for breakfast. With, uh, yogurt. That's right, peaches and yogurt, a healthy summer breakfast.

Because what kind of frivolous person would ever have peaches and ice cream for breakfast? The very idea. Hmph.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Perfect Weekend - Saturday: To The Lighthouse!

OK, circumstances are still far from perfect, but hey, it was a fine, if hot, summer weekend and I absolutely milked it with paddling on Saturday and the greenmarket and my first real swim of the summer on Sunday.

I was absolutely delighted with Saturday's paddle, because in addition to it being a good day to be on the water and a very nice group of folks to paddle with (grateful to the friend who's been pulling so many of these together, I've been utterly disorganized about planning paddles myself, so it's great to have things to jump in on at the last minute), this one finally broke out of this weird 6-mile paddle thing I was complaining about in my last trip report.

Saturday's destination wasn't really clear when we set out, except that because it was hot we knew we wanted to head out to the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge (aka Marine Park Bridge) to get to some cleaner water to play in. We ended up going pretty close to 14 miles and despite the health issues that have me not feeling quite at 100%, I still felt good all the way through and even had the energy to run after some of the surfable wakes. I was absolutely delighted, I wasn't sure how I would hold up for a longer paddle.

We launched at 9:30 am and had a fine ebb-assisted paddle to the bridge. We took a nice leisurely snack break with much floating in the water without our boats at Riis Landing, just past the bridge on the Queens side (Rockaway Peninsula). We got back on the water around noon. Flood was going to start around 1 so we decided to paddle a little further down towards Breezy Point.

At one point the paddle nearly turned into a restaurant paddle when one of our group recognized Kennedy's, a waterfront establishment where he'd had some really good mussels. He suggested stopping and getting a couple of orders to share. I'd actually packed myself an unusually good box lunch of fruit, cheese, crackers, and prosciutto, and had grazed pretty heavily at Riis Landing, and there were a couple of others who were also not ready for more food. It also turned out that one of the latter group was really interested in paddling on down to the "lighthouse" - she's a strong paddler and has been a club member for years, so I was surprised she'd never been, but that sounded like a perfect destination! So we agreed to skip the mussels, go on to the tower (just a little ways further on), and then come back and meet the others for the paddle home. I went in to let the diners know what our plans were -- just in time to see a resident walk up to them to let them know that this was a private beach.

That wasn't really surprising. The Breezy Point communities are protective of their beaches - no problem with paddling by, people in boats will say hi (oh, and everybody out in boats yesterday was SO happy to be out in boats that the greetings were even more friendly than usual - we all agreed that on the water was the only place to be and we wished we could stay there all week), but they don't want non-residents landing there, even if it's just to run up to Kennedy's for a couple of orders of mussels. So the disappointed diners rejoined us, we went on down to the "lighthouse", got there right at slack water, and then turned around for a good flood-assisted ride back to the club. We couldn't have timed it better if we'd actually planned it - darned good winging it!

The "lighthouse" is an interesting piece of local history. It was actually built as a fire control tower for the Fort Tilden gun emplacements - click here to learn more about it. That's an old, old, archived web page and doesn't look very pretty but it's the most informative thing I've found about the tower.

All pictures after this, more than I would usually post but it was fun getting out of the bay, and it was another really photogenic day. BTW the thing that looks like the top of a clay pot is actually a "sand collar", which is a thing that a certain type of snail (moon snails) make to protect their eggs, which are embedded in the sand/mucus construction. Interesting thing to find!

And although I didn't get any photos, we may have seen two young bald eagles flying over the inlet - they were bigger and much darker than the distinctively-marked osprey that we see on almost every summer paddle. Oh - and the fishing chatter on the VHF channel we were using said that there were sharks, dolphins, and a whale in the area! Busy waters out there!

OK, now on to the photos - click on the first one for a slideshow view. Enjoy! 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Floral Friday

Another quiet week of working from home for me, so no new adventures, but here are some of the flowers that are blooming at the Sebago Canoe Club here in July. Chicory (grows wild all over the club), Queen Anne's Lace (the garden plots, left untended, have become a field of lace), milkweed (we have a pretty good bed of this in hopes of encouraging monarch butterflies), purple coneflower, and, uh, something pretty in the bed in front of the clubhouse. Anybody know what that is?

Lilies have had their time, as you can see in the last photo. But the club's still blooming.