Saturday, December 31, 2005

Dec. 30th - Coney Island, Times Square & Rockefeller Center

Best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!

Just some photos today. I started with a long walk out at Coney Island as it was a beautiful day; originally I'd planned to go home after that but then I realized I had a coupon for a free movie in my pocket (it had an expiration date of 12/31 so I'd just stuck it in my jacket pocket figuring that way I could just use it if I found a good night to do so) so decided to just stay on the train & go into town. I saw "The Producers", which I'd been thinking about seeing; after the movie was over I realized I was not far from Times Square & thought I'd go see what sort of lead-up lunacy was going on there, and of course once I was there, Rockefeller Center was the next natural place to go. I don't play tourist in New York very often but this is a good time of year to make an exception to that.

Even when the water's cold I like to get my feet wet.

Seagulls settling down for the night

Sunset on the Boardwalk

The world-famous Cyclone, Deno's Wonder Wheel (in Astroland Park), and the Parachute Jump (last remnant of Steeplechase Park)

The Parachute Jump

Fishermen on the Coney Island fishing pier. The fish were definitely biting. The fishermen were mostly Russian with a few Middle Eastern gents mixed in.

Times Square - hectic enough on 12/30 - you couldn't pay me enough to be here on the 31st. I'm going to be at a small Irish music session in Brooklyn, much more my speed.

Getting ready for the big night. Evidently someone famous was on the stage 'cause the people around me kept going "Wooooo!". Somebody said Martha Stewart. I'm so bad at recognizing famous people.

Rockefeller Center
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The tree at Rockefeller Center

Thursday, December 29, 2005

2006 Plans & Pipe Dreams

So the end of the year is just around the corner, my first paddle of 2006 is shaping up nicely thanks to Goofy...

And of course I'm already mulling over what to do next year! Already set - teaching at Sarah Lawrence, and teaching at the Hudson Valley Kayak Symposium again (man, that was fun last year). Yay. I tend to reverse the normal pattern - most seasonal kayak instructors teach when the weather warms up - not me, the way things ended up being I seem to do all my teaching in the winter and spring. In pools. Very odd indeed but that's how it is.

Beyond that...well, Sweetwater Kayak's BCU week (not really a week they just call it that) is looking awfully tempting right now. My Greenlandic heroes Cheri Perry & Dubsides are teaching a rolling class there, plus Nigel Foster is doing "Fun with Foster" classes & I took a lesson from him once that was really good, plus there might be a chance to brush up on my rusty dusty surfing skills (I've surfed & loved it, we just don't get much more than ferry wakes in my piece of the Hudson), and then, well, it's Florida - ok, Florida in February, people who I know who've gone have been glad to have their drysuits, but it's a pretty safe bet the water will be entirely liquid which is more than you can expect of the Hudson that time of year. Plus I suspect I'll teach better at the symposium if I can get in some time on the student end of the equation this way - I tend to look at learning & teaching as two halves of a circle. Right now the me-learning side of the circle has been neglected for a long time.

I have also said something to somebody about maybe if it would be at all possible I might be interested in guiding for the Great Hudson River Paddle but of course that's only if they have space & I would actually be of any use...ok, in other words I'm not getting my hopes up, I'm definitely a Bonnie-come-lately (HA HA HA! I crack me up!) and they have a good solid set of guides who tend to come back year after year which is one of the keys to the success of the event, which I hear has been more and more fun every time they do it...we'll see.

and of course getting out to Hawaii next year would be nice...but then it would also be nice to go back to the BVI's if Kat invites me again...and I have a friend who has moved to Nova Scotia (and for that matter other friends in other places that would also be fun to visit). Oh my. So many fun things to do, so little vacation time. Unfortunately there is no way I can do all of the things I just listed - decisions will have to be made. But once again it's the same kind of pleasant dilemma as I had last year when I had to decide between a paddling excursion in Nova Scotia or the sailing trip in the BVI's. Everyone's life should be so difficult!

p.s. Oh my, I just went over & browsed through the Hudson Valley Kayak Symposium pictures - absolutely cracked up to see a series there of me and my Greenland mentor (there are heroes & then there is Jack Gilman who's taught me most of the Greenland stuff I know, great guy & so low-key about all the people he's influenced around here) - we got into a double & just started horsing around & it would seem that somebody got the whole series(use the arrow to the right of the thumbnails to scroll through the thumbnails - we're the last 5 or 6 shots). That was FUN.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My Hero Is Goofy

This is "Goofyman" - who picked up his nom de blog after making an interesting discovery at a rolling session last March. He saw my last post I guess and picked up on the tone of despair & has offered to loan me his drysuit for New Year's Day if mine doesn't get back in time.

I still hope that mine gets back as it would be just my luck to bust a gasket or something if I end up borrowing his - but this truly rescues my hopes for a properly amphibious New Year's Day!!!!

Goofyman Rocks (and rolls, too!)

New Year's Day paddle doubts plus Aloha, Asia!

We're sneaking up on New Year's Day here and my drysuit is still not back from California.

I am going to be so sad if I don't get to go for my annual New Year's Day paddle (and roll, although last year was the first time I rolled in the Hudson on New Year's Day so I don't know if that counts as "annual" yet.

I know there are things that are waaaaaaay more important but if you could think a few positive thoughts in my direction, thoughts of a nice sealed non-seepy drysuit (with Gore-Tex socks, yay) waiting for me when I get home tonight or tomorrow...or Friday...or Saturday...that would be lovely...

And speaking of not having drysuits, I have been loving the fact that there's been a trio of bloggers (friends who do some paddling together although it looks like there's one main ringleader as far as their kayak activities go!) from Malaysia & Singapore and have been visiting me and some of my other favorite US (and Spanish!) kayak blogs, and vice versa. How cool is that? So I think I will just introduce you to fH2o(with WONDERFUL photographs that are particularly envy-producing since I'm effectively landlocked until aforementioned drysuit turns up, whimper whimper) and Happysurfer (I almost posted her December 21st "Installing LOVE" post 'cause I thought it was really cute but figured I'd just send you there instead), both from Malaysia, and Robin, who lives in Singapore.

And speaking of envy-producing photos I'll close by sharing a few of the pix from my mom & dad's annual "Don't feel too sorry for us folks who are suffering the trauma of having to get into the holiday spirit without Jack Frost nipping at our noses" email (isn't it nice of them to go to such lengths to allay the concerns of the family & friends on the mainland & beyond?):

Random people playing on the beach somewhere on the windward side of the island; think my dad may've said something in an earlier email to me that the surf conditions weren't so hot for some reason but it was still good wave-watching

They have some orchids out on the lanai - the white one I think may've been a Christmas present to my mom although it could've been another one - at any rate it always bloom very nicely over the holidays so they usually include it in a Christmas email:

And a couple of shots in the Laie Point area - that's the folks in the 2nd one (hi folks!)

BTW if you are snowbound somewhere & these nice tropical pictures leave you wanting to look at more sunshine & blue water, I've been slowly adding pictures to my Virgin Islands gallery - took a break from that during the strike but am back at it now. Still a couple more days to go before it's officially finished but I've been enjoying reviewing my pictures. Note for first-timers on Buzznet - little light-blue squares with 3 little white squares are Buzznet navigation buttons, I mention that because people don't always recognize that the 3 little white squares are supposed to be an arrow - in the main picture area those will move you from picture to picture, in the main thumbnail section they will move you from one thumbnail page to another.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Merry Whatever!

Happy Holidays from Brooklyn!

This is a closeup of just part of the decor on one of my favorite houses in the neighborhood - I think that they vie with another one nearby for who can put the most stuff up on their house, but I think these guys win!

They do take it all down after New Year's, though.

Just got back from carolling in my building - how very strange & non-New-Yorky, but a couple of other tenants had decided to do this (I heard the singing, at first I thought it was a radio but then I realized that it was carollers!!!) & welcomed me when I asked if I could join them - we actually got invited into another neighbor's apartment for cookies & eggnog - that was fun, I told them I'd practice with them next year if I don't end up going home to Hawaii (or alternatively Michigan or possibly Texas - my extended family is geographically extended too!).

Anyways, just wanted to put up a little season's greetings.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Last night of strike (last night)

I did end up walking home one more time last night; by this morning, as I mentioned, everything was running fine but not by the time I left. It being a comparatively balmy high 30's, I chose to make the entire trek home again.

Here are some pictures from the final sneaker-powered trip home. The first 2 are of the entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge with a message I hope we don't have to see again for a nice long time.

Here's the traffic going onto the bridge -

And here are a couple of young men who evidently decided that if you are going to sit in traffic and watch the pedestrians walk past you, you might as well do it in style! They showed a great sense of humor about how slowly their fast car was moving. This was taken on Broadway, which resembled a very long skinny parking lot, which was what made me decide to walk home one last time when I walked out of my office & saw how it was. The traffic cops btw were working their tails off - that was a tough, tough job they had, keeping things going at even a crawl.

So that's it for the Great NYC Transit Strike of 2005. Phew!

Laughing On the Subway

I still ended up walking home last night, but this morning I was happy to be back to my usual routine of reading the Times while riding the subway to work.

They had a graphic op-ed page piece which I thought was rather wonderful & wanted to share. It's called "A Beginner's Guide to Hannukah", and it made me laugh - with all this war-on-Christmas idiocy going on, I find it a relief - maybe even a blessed relief - to see somebody NOT taking the holidays seriously. Fun. I wish he would do one for Christmas too.

This reminds me of something I was thinking about the other day as I walked past Grand Army Plaza, where you have a Christmas tree on one side of the road and a twenty-foot menorah on the other side (just the kind of thing that makes me love this city even in the middle of a transit strike). I was remembering how I used to be a little jealous of Jewish kids when I was little - after all, what's better, one day of presents, or eight days of presents? Somewhere along the line, though, I heard that the presents tended to be things like socks, with maybe one cool toy or book or something fun like that, so I decided that maybe one day with lots of toys and minimal socks (and heck, we were in Hawaii, who needed socks?) wasn't such a bad deal after all.

Anyways, I thoroughly enjoyed it so I just had to share it. Can't link to it directly and I have a feeling that if I posted it here, it would be unreadably small plus the NY Times might get mad. So just go here & scroll down 'til you see the menorah!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

It's OVER!


Somebody just walked past my desk talking on a cell phone, saying "I just heard the strike's over".


Hm. Now I wonder how long it will take them to get everything up and running again. I checked Yahoo right after writing "I am very very happy!" and there was a paragraph in the AP story there that read "No timetable was announced for the restoration of bus and subway service, which was halted Tuesday, affecting millions of riders". I hope it's running by tonight. Tonight's plan, if the traffic proves to be as scary as it was last night, was going to be to walk to the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush - there were a ton of vans that were loading up there & going to points further out.

But it would be awfully nice to just take the train.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dear Anonymous Transit Worker:

So I see that you are unsatisfied with simply inconveniencing the public (particularly whoever needed that ambulance I saw stuck in traffic yesterday) and now you feel the need to deface public property as well:

Let me explain some words to you. There is freedom of speech. There is artistic expression. And then there is vandalism. Now, I have occasionally seen graffiti that has such a certain style, panache, or powerful message that it's hard to put it into the third. With yours, however, there is no doubt. This is vandalism and you are a vandal. But hey, what's one more infraction of the rule of law, eh?

I have been hesitant to flat-out condemn you strikers; the wages and benefit package you have sound quite frankly more generous than mine, and I am able to live perfectly comfortably, even treating myself to occasional luxuries, but then I am also skeptical of the Metropolitan Transit Authority - they cry poverty every time they go to raise the fares, but then what's up with this surplus - and I don't really know what your jobs (or lives) are like - and I've heard the phrase "Crabs in a bucket", and it tends to spring to mind anytime I find myself getting critical somebody for doing a little better than I am.

But y'know, I dropped those tiny shreds of tolerance and sympathy around miles 5.5 and 6 (guesstimating) of my 7-plus mile walk home tonight - right when I spotted these little messages you left for all of us commuters to see as we patiently wend our ways from point A to point B and back again.

Note - All 3 were left on a waist-high wall that runs along the Ocean Avenue side of Prospect Park.

P.s. - note to the rest of the world - the bus thing I wrote about in "transit strike day 2" didn't work out so well going home. I could have tried but I walked out of my office tonight to find bumper to bumper traffic, moving at a slow crawl. I thought about how long it took me to get to work (about an hour and 45 minutes), and how long it was likely to take me to walk home (slightly over 2 hours, it was 2.5 last night and that was with much picturetaking). With the traffic looking as bad as it did, I had a feeling it might take me at least that long to get home on the bus, possibly even longer, and frankly given the options of spending 2 hours either walking, or waiting in the freezing cold for a bus then sitting in traffic, I will almost always pick the walk.

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Transit Strike Day 2

No. Really. I AM the most boring New York City blogger of all. Everybody else is going to have exciting stories of transit mayhem (or pleasantness, see Sea Level's comment on my first post yesterday for a biker's report, he was pleasantly surprised at how well bikes are being treated!); as for me, this morning I discovered the Command Bus. This is an express bus that has a stop about 4 blocks away from where I live & ends up at Chambers Street in downtown Manhattan. It did take an hour and 45 minutes as opposed to 45 minutes for my normal subway ride, but basically my transit worries are over (knock wood). That's a particularly fervent knocking of wood of course - the strange thing is that the Command Bus was a privately operated bus line at one time, but it is now actually operated by the MTA; there's an MTA logo on the bus, and you pay with a Metro Card, but apparently the line falls into some loophole as far as the operators not striking.

I count myself lucky, but so much for any ideas I may have had about writing daily posts about the strike - from now on, they'll just read: Left at 7. Caught bus. Went to work.

Ho hum.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hiking home.

It was a nice night and I was in no hurry, plus my morning commute had been so flat out dull I was almost embarassed, so rather than try to find a ride, I decided to walk home. The sidewalks were full. I'm sleepy and I need to get up & leave early again tomorrow (I assume), but I got some nice photos during the walk home and I thought I'd just post those. Took me 2.5 hours - but about half an hour of that was photo-taking plus a pit stop at a mall en route. I sort of enjoyed it - I think I might make my strike routine be "Go to the carpool place in the morning, hoof it in the evening". Check it out:

Walking on the Williamsburg Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge is much nicer for walking, with a broad, elevated boardwalk with seats - but this is quite a bit more direct, going the Brooklyn Bridge route adds a big dogleg. Anyways,it was fun to see a brand new view I never saw before in my entire 14 years. Plenty of people were crossing tonight & I was not the only one taking pictures.

Looking South towards downtown, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the FDR Drive. Look at all those taillights. Made me feel pretty good about my decision to go on foot!

Looking up at one of the Williamsburg Bridge towers.

Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn side tower.

More slow-moving cars. I probably would've gotten home faster in a car anyways but at least this way I was doing something the whole time, not just sitting on my duff.

One more look back at the city before leaving the bridge on the Brooklyn side.

The current version of rush hour (plus Brooklyn landmark Junior's. Ummm, cheesecake. If Junior's had been a couple more miles into my hike I would not have been able to resist the siren song of the strawberry cheesecake. I was hungry when I got home!

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Good grief. Those turkeys. They did it. The Transit Workers Union went on strike.

Y'know, I heard Roger Toussaint (the head of the union) say this morning, "They left us no choice".

Um. Yeah. Right, Roger. Tell me another one.

Well, I'd love to gripe about both sides (that's gonna be a popular theme on New York City blogs) but I've got around seven miles of ground to cover, preferably by around 9. There is actually a carpool form-up site near Prospect Park, that's not more than about a 20-minute walk - I figure I will walk over that way, see what the situation is there, then figure out what to do from there.

Isn't this fun?

And with that,

Heigh ho, heigh ho...

8:20 A.M.

I am sorry. I am the most boring New York City blogger in New York City. I have no exciting tales. I bundled up, I walked the mile or so to the carpool place, I think I saw a hawk, and there was a car-service guy there right when I got there who had space for one more person, I figured an SUV in the hand was worth the $20 he quoted to get me into the city and here I am at work 40 minutes early. Ho hum. Even the traffic wasn't that bad - bit of a wait getting onto the bridge, but that was just because there was a semi-roadblock so that the cops could make sure that every car had at least 4 people in it, but once you got past that, zoom. Not very exciting, really.

Plenty of hardy folks walking & biking over the bridge though!

Of course there's still the getting home part. Heh heh.

9:40 update: I don't suppose that the fact that I ended up with the song "Dominic the Donkey (the Italian Christmas Donkey) on an endless loop in my head because that was the last thing on the car service radio when I jumped out on Broadway makes this any less boring than it already was.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Gettin' all liberal again...

Only this time I wouldn't call it so much "liberal" as just plain "decent". Egads. OK, if anybody actually thinks it's cute when I get all up-in-arms about stuff, I'm back in action over at Bring It On. This time just as a commenter though. Gotta tell ya, this whole O'Reilly/Falwell flap over Target and Merry Christmas and what have you is doing a major number on my Christmas spirit. Pia posted something about one skirmish in the so-called "War on Christmas"; of course somebody had to come in and proclaim "This is a Christian nation" and then bluster on as though he was talking for the ENTIRE demographic consisting of people who identify themselves as Christian. I have a knee-jerk reaction to that kind of tripe & in this case I went with it.

The only thing is, it turned from a lively debate to truly hideous when somebody came in spouting pure neo-Nazi filth. There are misinterpretations of the Talmud out there that rank right up there with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion for hatemongering & this guy swallowed the lot & it poisoned him.

It is so depressing that there is this level of hatred within our country. Although I suppose it's good that it's out there where people can see it and stand up to it.

I'm going to the gym now. Maybe half an hour on the Versa-Climber will help.

Although I may want to just do upper body since it sounds like the legs may be getting a workout tomorrow. If I end up walking across the Brooklyn Bridge I promise I'll post pictures. Yeesh.

That's all for now.

Oh yeah one other thing - mostly for New York people: Walt Whitman exhibit! South Street Seaport! ROCKS! Closes at the end of the month! I think an appreciation for history is more of a prereq for enjoying this thing than enjoyment of poetry, although the latter helps too. Tied in mighty nice with my visit to Fulton Ferry, too (the railings there feature lines from "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry").

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Brooklyn Promenade & Brooklyn Bridge Park (with pictures!)

No water fun this weekend. The hold crew is planning a sushi paddle tomorrow, but I can't go because my drysuit is still at Kokatat being fixed (I really am kicking myself for not shipping it off back when we were still in drysuits-optional water temperatures, i.e. fifty degrees fahrenheit or above). I hope hope hope it comes back next week, I was hoping to call for a Christmas day paddle. Fingers crossed. I may call next week but Kokatat is not like Fedex, they're not going to have some sort of tracking that says "12/9 pressure test, 12/13 seam resealing, 12/15 gasket replacement, 12/16 curing...".

I did get in a really nice outdoor activity today though. Haven't written about any of my long walks lately, but I have taken a few. Turns out that Pia is fond of a good ramble too, and isn't afraid of a little cold weather, so today we met up on the Brooklyn Promenade and meandered all over the place under the Brooklyn & Manhattan bridges. This was GREAT - I have been meaning to go check out the Brooklyn Bridge Park for AGES. The section we were in today actually opened to the public in 2003; I've been to meetings about it, and I've seen it both from the water and from the Manhattan Bridge (which my train crosses every morning...strike? what strike? I am in denial about this strike - actually not so much denial as "I'll deal with it if it happens"), but like the Christopher Street Pier in the Hudson River Park, I was always seeing the place from afar, and thinking "Gee, that looks nice, I should go there sometime" but just being so busy that I didn't get around to it. I rectified that today though, and I can say that it's really very nice!

I could now wax eloquently descriptive - but why bother when my Optio Pentax WP can show you much better?

Downtown skyline from the Promenade:

They have plaques set into the pavement here and there. They come in sets of four, and they show the development of the view at which you are looking. The first three are innocuous historical views - Colonial times, late 19th century, and early 20th century. The last one is sad, though:

Fulton Ferry Fireboat House. Built in 1926, this historic structure now houses the Brooklyn Ice Cream Company. We passed on the ice cream on this walk, though - it was a little too chilly for ice cream!

Wedding pictures! These folks actually got chased out of where they were a minute later - where they were being the entryway to the veddy posh River Cafe, a fine dining establishment on a barge - but I bet they got some nice shots before they did. Her dress was one that left her arms bare...we were hoping she didn't get pneumonia!

Chilly pigeons in an alleyway. I loved the way they had their feathers all fluffed up.

The Brooklyn Bridge - Brooklyn side.

The Brooklyn Bridge - looking South (we'd walked under the bridge)

The Manhattan Bridge, looking North, showing some of the Brooklyn Bridge Park in the foreground. The next bridge to the north is the Williamsburg Bridge. The mnemonic you can use to remember their order is that the first initial of each forms a familiar trio of letters - BMW.

The sky turned quite spectacular by later in the day - we'd been wandering around in DUMBO, then decided to head back to Brooklyn Heights for hot tea - we passed by one of the approaches to the Promenade & were just stopped in our tracks by this view.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Hurray! Rivertyde is back!

Hurray! Hurray! Rivertyde is back!

(doing happy little dance of glee in cubicle)

(well, not really, but thank you Michlt for the comment - I hadn't given up on you yet!)

Michlt, for those who haven't gone through my blogrolls (which I finally updated last week, and about time, too!), is a Philadelphia-based bookseller with an interest in natural history. His own writing is always a pleasure to read, he gives some very useful book recommendations (and when I say "useful" I really mean "pointing me to books I would never have been clever enough to buy on my own"), and he finds some very cool blogs.

You can take "cool" either figuratively or literally.

Welcome back, Michlt!

Holiday Spirits at the South Street Seaport!

I almost titled this "Free Rum" but that seemed somehow cheap (although that was how I titled an email I sent to a few friends earlier).

Anyways, to keep this brief - the South Street Seaport has free Friday programs on the 3rd Friday of every month - tonight's is an author reading & rum tasting. Plus they're also offering plenty of the kind of spirits you DON'T drink - they have a carolling tree featuring the Big Apple Chorus, and a candlemaking workshop with hot cider, and an exhibit of children's toys. Sounds like fun!

More details at the South Street Seaport Museum website.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Paddle-Off-The-Turkey Paddle (11/27/05)

Floating the Apple - I have to write a post about them sometime, this is a VERY neat program!

I'd mentioned my Somethingth Annual Paddle-Off-The-Turkey Paddle in my post about the unplanned layover at the South Street Seaport - thought I'd expand on that a bit today, that ended up being quite a fun paddle. In fact Thanksgiving weekend ended up being quite delightfully watery - as you may recall, that was also the weekend of my first sail with the Rosemary Ruth.

The Paddle-Off-The-Turkey Paddle had actually beened planned quite a bit more in advance of the sail, for which I think I got the invitation on Thanksgiving proper. The whole intent of this paddle is to get in the boats and just paddle hard, in whichever direction the current requires, for about 3 hours. No lilydipping, no shilly-shallying - we all overindulge a bit on Thanksgiving, and it's wonderful, but it feels great to get out on that river that we mostly have to ourselves this time of year and put those calories to work!

This year, the current said we'd be heading South. I was estimating that we'd go to the Statue of Liberty, which is of course a fine destination, but in this case our paddle was more about hours on the water than getting to Point B.

Lyn, Tom, & Goofy joined me for this outing.

After a less than perfect crossing (I wanted to cross early but failed to spot a small, low-lying barge, which we saw in plenty of time but had to turn & paddle up the middle of the channel in a way that I don't like doing until the barge was well past), we headed south along the Jersey side of the Hudson. There was a fair amount of ferry traffic - probably taking people in for the big sales (ha ha ha give me what I was doing any day!) - and as we got to the Liberty Landing Marina, we spotted a water taxi heading across the river, and there may have been a Statue of Liberty ferry loading passengers too. At any rate, we found ourselves waiting on the north side of the Morris Canal, which houses the Liberty Landing Marina, and Lyn suggested a side trip to go see the boats. We were all into that - Goofy loves sailboats, his family had always had one, and Tom just always seems to enjoy whatever we do out there - and me, of course I had to show off by taking them to see the Rosemary Ruth, still being all bubbly about how much fun I'd had the day before.

Richard taking Lyn's boat for a spin

Richard was on board working on the aforementioned water tanks, when out on the water there arose such a chatter, he came up to the deck to see what was the, that sounds oddly familiar. Anyhow, he came up, I introduced everyone, the questions started flying and eventually Lyn (who's the most gregarious person I know, I swear she lives by the motto "There are no strangers, only friends I haven't met yet") was climbing out of her boat to go get a closer look. Richard then asked if he could try out her boat - he's done plenty of paddling, and although right at the start there were a couple of braces (Lyn's boat is one of those ones that's not big on the initial-stability thing), within short order he had everything under control and moving nicely. After a brief spin, we went back to the Rosemary Ruth. At some point I joked about heading over to the Lightship Bar & Grill (a real retired lightship with a restaurant that's also at Liberty Landing) for a beer and somehow that ended up leading to Richard inviting the rest of us on board for beer (which he needed to finish off anyways) and donuts - as he said, he wasn't really in a big hurry to get back to the water tanks!

So that's how this year's Paddle Off The Turkey Paddle ended up featuring beer and donuts.

I did still want to put a little more water under the boats - Goofy needed to get back to the dock by a certain time, but the current had turned to head north, conditions were good, and I figured we'd have at least enough time to get down to Ellis Island. We did, passing one of the Floating the Apple boats who were clearly out with the same idea of a good healthy post-feast on-water workout (that's them in the rowboat - technically a Whitehall dory - up in the first picture); I took a couple of photos of Goofy down by Ellis Island (that's the picture down at the end of the post) - he had gotten to the end of a summer in which I suspect he paddled more than I did (heck, everyone did, I was a-schoonin', which is also lovely plus um I get paid...does that make me a mercenary?) only to discover he had NO pictures of himself paddling, so I've been trying to rectify that. Then we turned back north and did a hard, fast, satisfying paddle home again, getting Goofy back in perfect time to head home to his family.

The rest of us went for sushi.

It was all really, really nice. Tom said at one point over dinner, "I just can't think of how that could have been nicer". I thought for a minute and said "Well, what if we'd seen a seal?" (there are some seals that are known to haul out on the islands down near the Verranzano Narrows Bridge, but sighting in the Upper Harbor - the more enclosed area north of the Narrows, where I do most of my paddling - are still quite rare).

But I was kidding. Mostly. I got home that night & just couldn't get over what a perfect Thanksgiving I'd had - a good visit (and of course a wonderful meal) with my friend Am and her family up in East Fishkill, a chance to go for my first sail on the Rosemary Ruth (meeting some really nice people there), and then a good paddle (and post-paddle sushi) featuring still more congenial company...

I really couldn't ask for much more than that.

Goofyman & Ellis Island

Nuts to you!

As long as I'm being totally random -

After I'd done my list of things that were making me smile even with that stupid cold (asthma sucks, when I'm healthy it mostly leaves me alone but colds get complicated), I got a couple more smileworthy items in the mail - one package from my parents (mmm, a deluxe assortment from the Honolulu Cookie Company) and a parcel from my parent's dog (aw, who'sagoodbooooy, Cambie's a good boy!)(although I notice Cambie's handwriting - pawwriting? - looks a lot like my mom's - well, maybe she helped him with the address label, tough to write without opposable thumbs) with a lot of small gift-wrapped items which sound like cookies & candy & other such goodies...suddenly, deck the halls and all that jazz, I'm starting to feel a little more holidayish (in fact I've decided to have a little holiday party since I can't possibly eat all these good things from Hawaii myself). Long story short, I came home tonight & felt like making something - but after a full day at the office I wasn't feeling quite ambitious enough to make anything that would be a major production with a big cleanup or anything - so I made a batch of sugared pecans. Great recipe, very simple, very yummy, easy easy cleanup, got it from my mom.

Bonnie's Mom's Pecans

1 pound pecans
1 egg white
1 tblsp. water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 270 degrees (fahrenheit, or 132 celsius for the rest of the planet)Beat egg white and water until frothy (don't bother with a mixer, a fork is fine). Add pecans, mix until coated. Mix sugar, salt & cinnamon in a brown bag (that's my mom's instructions - I used a produce bag tonight, I think the brown bag may absorb a little of the excess egg white but the produce bag worked OK too). Add pecans, shake 'til coated. Spread out on a cookie sheet (lining the cookie sheet with foil will seriously save cleanup time) and bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally (I checked in on 'em every 15 minutes). Don't overcook or they will burn.

Naturally, it is highly recommended to sample some while they are still warm from the oven, you do want to make sure they are good enough to share with your friends or co-workers or whoever, right? If you make a pound there may even be a few left to give to those people after you have finished the preliminary sampling process.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different.

Oh, oh. Look, look. Panda-Cam! Scroll down when you get there, the camera window is a little ways down the page.

Mommy panda!

Baby panda!

Is it possible to die of a surfeit of cute?

Found on Beau's blog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sunday's Changed Plans

The Peking

Ever have one of those days where nothing went according to plan – but it all turned out to be fun anyways?

That was exactly how my Sunday was.

If you took the time to read my Saturday post – which honestly was more about procrastinating on the housework than anything else – you know that Sunday’s plans were to sail on the Rosemary Ruth from noon to dusk; another small schooner, the LazyJack, was going to join us & we were going to sail around together taking pictures of each other, then I was going to go to a wonderful Danish-style Christmas party with “glogg” and “abelskeur” and a generally “hyggelig” (respectively: hot mulled wine; small cakes, not too sweet, served with strawberry jam & powdered sugar; and…well, “cozy” is oversimplifying) atmosphere & enjoyable conversation with interesting & adventurous friends of theirs.

The main thing that happened to change plans was that the owner of the LazyJack had decided not to sail after all. Too bad, it was a beautiful afternoon, actually not terribly cold, with a nice little breeze – but winter sailing, like winter kayaking, isn’t something that everybody gets into & I guess in the end she had enough reservations that she changed her mind.

Richard (the owner of the Rosemary Ruth) has been working on a major project for the last couple of weeks (ok, actually the entire boat is a major project, this is just one task thereof) – he’s refurbishing the water tanks. The day of my first outing on the RR, two weeks ago over Thanksgiving weekend, he’d spent the morning sanding them and I’m sure there were many more hours of fun he was able to obtain from this project (in fact I forgot, I’d meant to tell the story of how my traditional Paddle-Off-The-Turkey Paddle came to feature beer and donuts this year – the RR water tank project was involved - but that will have to be another post). Once finished with the sanding, there was rinsing and scrubbing to be done. The final rinse required a hose to get to the bits unreachable by brush.

Problem is that a functioning hose is not necessarily the easiest thing to be found around a marina in the wintertime – they tend to get shut off to keep the pipes from freezing. Richard had already made at least one futile trip to Pier 63 & the later in the winter it gets, the harder finding a functioning hose was likely to be. Maggie, the educator from the schooner Pioneer, got to be Richard’s hero – sometime last week, she found out that the ship restoration barge at the South Street Seaport Maritime Museum (home of the Pioneer) still had running water!

So the order of the day went from “launch, sail, meet other schooner, take pictures, return to marina at dusk” to “launch, motor to South Street Seaport, rinse tanks, sail, return to marina at dusk”.

<We got to the seaport on a rising flood (I’m not going to talk times & high water because this was one of those days when a steady wind meant that what was actually going on wasn’t quite what the predictions said – that happens sometimes). The space where we had to dock was a very narrow slot between the ship restoration barge and the museum’s massive four-masted barque, the Peking. The current was pushing us north. There was another very nice little schooner, the “Flying Fish” (in small picture - they are en route to Spain via Chile, as Maggie found out later), docked at a float just aft of the stern of the Peking. The original plan was to back in, but the current was making this difficult; if things didn't go just right we'd get spun down into the Flying Fish(kayakers – picture having to eddy out, paddling backwards into the eddy, without there actually being enough space for your boat to spin because there is something barely more than a boat-length downstream that is going to hurt if you hit it…OK, and your kayak is 41 feet long and you have to do this all from the very back…there you go).

We made a few passes while Richard tried to plan the best approach, and then things got complicated even more as a Zephyr ferry came into the ferry landing at the end of the pier to our north – cutting off what would have been our best way out should we find ourselves being pushed up into the Flying Fish. Richard looked at the setup a bit more then decided that it would be better to pull in going forward, where he would have more control of the situation. He knew backing out was going to be tough for exactly the same reason as backing in was (only worse because we wouldn’t have as much control at slow speeds), but he thought that we could probably work out a way to turn the boat within the available space using a well-placed line. We reset the lines & fenders to the port side & in we went. No problem.

The only catch was that once inside the slot, it looked even skinnier than it did from outside. Hm. Leaving was going to be interesting...oh well, we were there for a reason. Maggie got the hose & Richard got his tanks all rinsed out & drained & so the day’s main mission was accomplished.

This did take a while though, and as we were doing that, the current was picking up speed. We finished up and walked out to the end of the barge to see what was going on. The river was racing north much faster than it had been before, curling & slapping against the side of the Flying Fish. The eddyline off the stern of the Wavertree (another big sailing ship that took up the entire south side of the barge & projected well beyond it into the river) was so sharp it looked like it was drawn with a ruler. It was pretty fascinating listening to Richard and Maggie as they talked through Richard’s plan, which he was revising to fit the conditions he saw. He literally talked through the whole thing with her while Bruce (the other guest that day and actually an acquaintance from Pier 63, he’s one of the folks that works on the retired fireboat John J. Harvey so I see him there all the time) & I listened – where the line had to go; how the line had to be brought into play; what he was going to do with the boat; what was going to happen to the boat as the stern hit the current if the line was taken in fast enough to hold the bow (a nice controlled spin on her axis right within the limited space available), what his outs were in the event things didn’t work quite that nicely, and where we would end up in a worst case scenario. Problem was that there wasn’t really a good out, and the places we were going to end up were either crashing into the Flying Fish or possibly going under the stern of the Peking, with nasty variations involving bowsprits or booms getting into or under one piece or another of the Flying Fish. Looking at the situation I could picture it all happening exactly the way he described it, either coming out fine or not-so-hot.

The other option was to stay there for a while while things quieted down & in the end, that was the option he took. So there we were, waiting for the tide. Stuck…on the historic ship preservation barge at the South Street Seaport Maritime Museum! Which is a serious work site, full of interesting boats & boat-repair-related stuff, and thus not open to the public! SHUCKY DARN! You can see most of the boats they are working on from the street, but it was fun to take a closer look at some of the vessels.

And to make it even better, in addition to Maggie, the official educator of the South Street Seaport Maritime Museum, we had been met there the director of the museum! Maggie had called him to let him know we were there, and he’d come out to the end of the barge to catch our lines. Honestly, if I hadn’t known I would’ve figured he was a dock worker there - he was bearded, and wearing sturdy, well-worn work clothes, and looked like he’d been working hard on repairing things all day (which is probably exactly how he’d been spending a pleasant Sunday). They – Maggie & Don - invited us to stay & enjoy a little South Street Seaport Maritime Museum hospitality, which turned out to consist of repairing to the captain’s quarters of the Wavertree for hot tea and sea stories. I’d brought some cookies & enough hot cider to share, Richard brought some soup, Maggie had doughnuts and produced some rum to fortify my cider and with all of that we had quite a feast. They are doing a beautiful job on the restoration of the Wavertree, and it was a real treat to get to see it - although I think Maggie said they do some tours, it’s still very much a work in progress so not that easy to see, so to get invited to come aboard & make myself comfortable & listen to Richard & Maggie & Don “talk story” – Richard mostly about the Rosemary Ruth, Maggie & Don about the Wavertree & then also more general maritime history – well, that was pretty special. I mostly listened while they talked. My stories just aren’t in the same league – I may spend a fair amount of time out on the water, but “salty” isn’t adjective I would apply to myself without feeling very silly, and with this group I was feeling extra, extra low-sodium.

Definitely one of those days when I was happy to be living in New York, though.

Finally, after a couple of hours, it looked like time to go – the water wasn’t curling against the Flying Fish’s hull anymore, and the eddy line had softened. We dropped a line off the Wavertree’s stern & made it off in the bow of the Rosemary Ruth; Richard backed her slowly out into the river; the current took her stern; Maggie (who wasn’t coming back with us) & Don took in the slack from the Wavertree and just as Richard had described, the Rosemary Ruth performed a nicely controlled pirouette in just the right spot, we cast off the line & off we went into the sunset.

And we even got in a little sailing on the way back! Sure, it got a little chilly after the sun went down, but it was a nice day and not too cold. Plus, Richard keeps a couple of spare Mustang float coats (basically a parka with a PFD built right in) on board. I’d brought clothes that I think would’ve done the job but I was frankly VERY into the flotation concept. As I’ve mentioned before, the water temperature is now below anything you want to even chance messing around with without some assistance. Great thing is, these float coats also turn out to be completely and marvellously impervious to the wind and I was totally snug all day, so when Richard asked if Bruce & I were still up for at least a bit of a sail, I jumped at the chance. I think I left a camera battery in the pocket, guess I'll have to go again sometime to retrieve it. Bummer!

Anyhow - I was a little worried that adding in even a short sail was going to mean I was going to miss the party completely – but by this time I was already clearly not getting there by the time I’d said I would so I figured why not.

It was a short sail, but a nice one. And to make things even better – when I called Steve & Camilla from the 33rd St. PATH station to find out if I’d missed the party & should just go home – Camilla said “Well, nobody’s here anymore, but we didn’t have a big turnout in the first place so why don’t you come on up?” (really - now how nice is that?)and I did, and that turned out to be a lovely finish to the day.

So there it was. The day that completely refused to go as planned but ended up being maybe just maybe even more fun than the original plan.

Although that would’ve been just fine too!

Here's a picture on the preservation barge which may give you a better picture of how tight a space we were dealing with. The two masts on the right side of the picture belong to the Rosemary Ruth; the massive vessel just beyond the smaller boats is the Peking. The other small schooner pictured above was just a little ways past the Peking's stern. Not much space to play with.

The Wavertree (with the tug Helen McAllister) in the sunset

Monday, December 12, 2005

This is not a schooner.

Nope. This is a barque (well, part of a barque). I shall exercise some self-control and refrain from making a labored pun about "barque" and "bight" (not enough to keep quiet about the fact that I was thinking about it though!).

Anyways, as you may recall from Saturday's little exercise in procrastination, barque photos were not originally part of Sunday's plans. Things didn't quite happen the way I described. It did end up being a lot of fun though, in the way that unplanned changes of plan can sometimes be if you don't get overly attached to your original plans (always wise when you're into things like boating where nature has the final say as to what you can & can't do). I started writing a post about it during my lunch hour today, have sent it home & plan to finish it tonight, it might be fun - but I did put up a few pictures over on my Buzznet galleries & thought I'd put this one up here, as it's gotten a pretty kind reception over there.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Things I'm smiling about

Just finished close week work (more or less, knock wood, the documents went out yesterday, now we wait for the response). This is always a rough week & that's why I did only the most perfunctory of posts on Wednesday (although wasn't that dog story funny? I was so glad M. got the whole sequence - I forgot to mention that she's actually more of a photographer than I am - she's also an actress & has the best smile of anyone, she's pretty awesome) and nothing after that. There was just too much work to do.

However I did have a few things to smile about in the midst of close madness (in no particular order):

1. I can't remember if I mentioned this here or not, but there's a new business manager on the finance team at the Really Big Children's Publishing House. She is very, very new - but she picking things up quickly & between her & our also relatively new senior finance analyst, who's also really good, close week felt a lot less intimidating. And I'm not at work today, which was a possibility!
2. Kokatat has now had my drysuit for about a week & they haven't called me so I'm hoping that they'll be able to resuscitate it...Gore-Tex socks oh boy oh boy!
3. Kayak Boy posted to our kayak group that our favorite paddling Medieval Lit professor and her husband and their adorable baby son made it to Illinois, where she's gotten a university job (ok, that's actually a sad sort of smile, I'm going to miss them - but things have all worked out so nicely for them this year I'm also really happy for them).
4. I got invited to teach up at Sarah Lawrence again and the sessions are set to start in January. YAY!
5. I also got invited to teach at the Hudson Valley Symposium again. DOUBLE YAY!
6. Well...we finished the close package. yay.
7. Having a cold during close week may have sucked but it gave me a graceful non-Scroogey excuse to get out of the company holiday party. I would actually like this event if they didn't turn up the music so loud at these parties that you cannot sit and carry on anything more than the most rudimentary conversation, but they do. Great fun if you want to dance - otherwise...well, I wasn't too sad to miss it.
8. I'm going sailing on the Rosemary Ruth tomorrow, it's going to be a nice day (although it's going to be a challenge to really dress warmly enough), and there's going to be another little schooner, the Lazy Jack, out - the 2 owners decided to coordinate a trip for the purpose of getting pictures of their boats under sail. I hope to get a few pix too!
9. And after that, tomorrow night is the night of one of my favorite Christmas parties. A couple of friends of mine throw this every year - they have this amazing tiny apartment that they fitted out with a loft built of carefully measured & cut peeled logs - they've turned what would otherwise have been one of these bizarre cramped higher-than-it-is-wide apartments into this positively cozy little abode that feels like a cross between a cabin in the woods and a New Mexican adobe (ha ha, an adobe abode!)...and they throw these great little parties. She's an adventure travel agent (the place is full of interesting things they've found on the travels that that entails), and he does computer stuff for a living, and they're both very outgoing, open people, so there's always a really interesting group & fun conversation. Their Christmas party is lovely - she's Danish & if this party is any indication, I think I like the Danish style of celebrating Christmas more than the commercial onslaught that Christmas brings here.
10. Well, I smiled every time I looked at my galleries. I've gotten a little down on myself because I didn't do anything in the way of formal instruction for myself this year - and I just feel like I was always so stressed out by how short-handed we were this year - but "Rosiewolf" left a comment on one of my BVI's pictures saying "What wonderful trips you get to go on!"...and yeah, looking them over, I really do get to do some really neat stuff.

Anyways, tomorrow is play day, but today I do have some stuff I want to do. Or at least should do. So enough procrastinating, time to get going.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Foxy's Dog

Too much to do today to take more than the quickest blogging break on lunch, plus this cold is still kicking me around in a low-grade but tiring way, so I doubt I'll really post tonight, but here's a funny story, 5 slides long, about a very sweet but very sly dog you should watch out for should you ever find yourself on the beach at Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke in the BVI's! That's him there in the picture - and that's the rest of the gang from the BVI's trip! A minute later, I put down the camera to play with the dog, and Meghan picked up the camera & got a series that makes me smile (even with this rotten cold).

Buzznet navigation hint - little blue square w/white dots to the right of the main photo caption is the arrow symbol on Buzznet, lets you move on to the next photo.