Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Listening to Prednisone. Briefly, cause it's boring. Then we'll look at pretty pictures.

Oooookay. We all remember Listening to Prozac, right?

Well, tonight I am listening to Prednisone and you know what?

Prednisone doesn't have anything nice to say about anyone or anything.

In fact the general tone of prednisone is:


I'm really really glad that Scott Chicken saw fit to clue me in on this in the comments on the last post. Apparently his son Logan had to take the stuff briefly in kindergarten & turned incredibly cranky.

Now I have met Logan a couple of times and he is a really good kid, so I took that as a real warning.

From the beaks of chickens, truth. I can absolutely say that if I feeling what I'm feeling right now and I was five years old, you absolutely, positively would not want to be anywhere in my vicinity. And woe to those who had no choice.

Fortunately at forty, with that advance notice, I should be able to override the weirdness. I hope. But I am all a-jangle.

I'm kind of glad this is close week and TQ & I don't have a date planned in the next few days. I wouldn't make a very nice date in my current state. Although he'd be great about it & in the end I bet he'd have me laughing at the ludicrousness of my drug-induced moodiness - but I'm just as happy he won't have to work that hard, this should all be done by the next time we get together & then I can make him laugh at my ridiculous tribulations instead. I like that scenario better.

Aside from the fact that it did help the breathing, I'm finding it all to be rather unpleasant. I was told to stay on it for 5 days but cripes, if the asthma does clear up sooner than that I may disobey nurse practitioner's orders, go one day past clear & stop.

I'm a little surprised nurse practitioner was so breezy about it & didn't mention this little feature.

Ha, but maybe that's just the prednisone saying nasty things. See? What did I tell you?

OK, enough grumbling. Shut up, Prednisone. We've heard quite enough of Prednisone. Predni-party-pooper. Predni-wet-blanket. Predni-PHHHHBBBBBTTT!

Time to return to more regular programming! A little gratuitous New England prettiness would fill the bill nicely, I'd say.

So, here are a couple more shots from weekend before last. Oddballs - they wouldn't fit with the Norwalk Islands paddle pictures from Saturday, or the Kayakways Greenlend workshop on Sunday, but I wanted to post them anyways, so this seems like a good place. Basically, TQ ended up getting to take the morning off from work, which was an unexpected & awfully nice - I had a book & was completely prepared to find a dock & read until the appointed time for everyone to meet Cheri & Turner at the The Small Boat Shop, but instead we went to a neat old local diner for breakfast, then a walk through a local bird sanctuary that he'd done a lot of work on when he was younger -

AThe weather that weekend was just incredible. The sky was the clearest blue, high, wispy white clouds, you really couldn't ask for anything much prettier - but despite that, as TQ and I were back on the road after our walk, we noticed that the sky had just gotten even prettier. Really. Those wispy white clouds must have been ice crystals perfectly aligned to act as prisms - because suddenly they started going rainbow here and there!

This doesn't quite do it justice, but it came out well enough to give the idea -

Asthma Update

Nothing a few days of steroids won't fix.

Quick, somebody find me a bike race!

. .O

OK, to be honest, I'm willfully using the umbrella term for an entire family of drugs for the shock value. What they gave me is cortico, not anabolic, and I don't believe it's considered a performance-enhancing drug. Except insofar as being able to breath is performance-enhancing.

BTW it still steams me a bit when I think about this doctor I had for a few years who would listen to the hacking and choking I'd turn up with after every cold & automatically throw antibiotics at it. Kind of like using a fishing rod to hunt rabbits.

He was, of course, the same one who eventually told me, in a dead-serious tone, that he hated it when his patients had opinions.

That was the day I decided I was clearly the wrong patient for him.

Oh, and speaking of fishing rods -

Look, Andy had a little fun with one of my pictures of his bluefish!

Asthma SUCKS!

Heh. Bet that wasn't a post title you ever expected to see on my chipper little blog o' metro-phibian adventure!

Yeah, there I was racking my brain for little-known facts about me not too long ago & I totally forgot an obvious one - I've got asthma. Bleah.

Actually, I'm lucky. Mine is so mild that I didn't think of it for that random facts meme because it's just been so long since the last really memorable attack. And there's only ever been one emergency-room level attack - that was when I moved into my current apartment. My old apartment was so small & everything was so crammed in that there was a lot of dust. That triggered a really nasty one.

The usual trigger, though, is a cold. Doesn't happen every time & in fact I thought I was home free this time - but it kicked in this morning, it's not responding to the usual meds, and right now my lungs hurt & air is feeling like an unfriendly substance. Not bad enough for the emergency room, but bad enough that I really feel like whining...

Y'know, when your feet hurt, you can sit down. When your throat hurts, you can not talk. But when breathing hurts, even a little...you just have to keep breathing. Bleah.

Well, there's this wellness center in the basement now at the Really Big Children's Publishing House. With doctors and stuff. I was mad about them displacing the gym - I thought replacing a gym where people could (and did) work out with a Wellness Center where the doctors would tell people that they would be more well if they would work out was pretty lame - but they did listen to me & all the other people who expressed that opinion & did bring back something of a gym - so I guess I could go see if they can do anything for me, in the very likely chance that this required business of breathing air continues to be a source of discomfort.


Y'know, I think next time I'm feeling like I've got a few extra bucks to throw at a good cause, I should look around at some of the asthma research organizations. Especially NYC based ones. There are an awful lot of kids in this city who are WAY worse than me, who don't have my options - wellness center, doctor, insurance, and most importantly, a version of asthma that under ordinary circumstances is so utterly docile that I can forget about it. Easy to find articles like this one - that's a little old, but the problems they cite are still going on.

Yup. I really shouldn't complain.

Time to go try to sleep sitting up now.

Monday, July 30, 2007


But first - surprise surprise, I'm not the first person to wonder if a space blanket could draw lightning. That question was answered by Outside Online's Gear Guy back in 2002. Seems the answer is "Theoretically yes, but there's no record of it ever happening".

Anyways - on to a couple of expeditions I've been following -

First off, good luck to Derrick and Taino as they're off to Chase the Ana!

Been interesting reading Derrick's blog for the last two years as he has gone from fretting over whether he'd get his 4 star award to planning a circumnavigation of Puerto Rico, and through the magic of the internet, a fellow New York City paddler, Taino Almestica, is joining him - fulfilling a dream he's had, that of circumnavigating his home island, since he began paddling.

Good luck!

Another expedition I've been following with total fascination - they may have gotten off to a terribly inauspicious start, getting a partial bowspritectomy after colliding with a freighter on Day 15, but they stuck with it & Sunday marked their ONE HUNDREDTH DAY!. Congratulations! Actually it was funny, one of the guys who's taking care of their website was on board the Rosemary Ruth last week - we were talking about their progress and I actually asked if they had champagne on ice for Day 100. I forgot one thing - no ice on that boat!

Continued good luck to all, fair wind & following seas & all that!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sebago Double-Header - Full Moon & Full Paddlers Sat - Fish Fever-Wait Out the Storm Sun

Home tonight with some self-appointed Things to Do (of which at least the laundry will actually get done) but had such an interesting weekend at the club...thought I'd blog first. 'Specially seeing as between the busy week at work & this really yucky little cold I came down with on Tuesday, I was just kind of getting home & crashing. Can't quite say I'm all better, but most of the way.

Certainly well enough to head out to Sebago for a One-Day-From-Full-Moon Paddle. Full moon is actually tonight & those of us who are not so lucky as to be retired would've had to make a pretty tame night of it. As it was, it was proposed that we go on Saturday so that it could be made into a SHINDIG - members were even invited to camp to encourage the enjoyment. Woo-hoo! I packed up my tent - wasn't planning on going nuts on the booze (a couple of post-paddle beers is about my speed) but that just sounded like fun. And I wanted to paddle on Sunday, too, so that would work great.

The plan was - begin gathering at the club around...oh, late afternoon. Fire up the grills. Dine magnificently. I'm not quite exaggerating there, either - as I've mentioned before, one of the members is a professional chef (he brought the most amazing cheeses - Stilton & a feta - and that was just the pre-show)...and that was just, and then there are a lot more of us who do actually know our way around a kitchen, and on top of that the "Sebago Diggers" - the gardeners (and I think I may be at the point where I count myself among that crowd, although I credit the success of my garden - knock wood) to dumb luck & good mentoring - you guys know who you are!!!) - are actually producing a lot of, uh, produce, meaning an OUTSTANDING selection of salads. So we all stuffed ourselves, then set out a bit before sunset. 18 paddlers. Well 19 if you count the youngster who was there with his dad in a beautiful hand-made Rob Roy canoe! It was a hazy night, as you can see -

But considering that the forecast had been talking "cloudy, chance of thunderstorms" all week, hazy was FINE. Took a while but eventually the moon did appear - almost peach-colored from the haze - howling and glee ensued - and then we paddled back to the club, where the non-paddlers had lit the tiki torches, and ate some more. I'd thought that the after-paddle part was mostly going to be the salad & cheese coming back out, joined by desserts & beer & wine - but it turned out that the Chef had been holding a surprise in reserve - suddenly he's carving this pork that he'd smoked all day over charcoal & hickory, with a spicy tomatillo sauce & crusty baguettes...y'know, I thought I was going to miss the fun food-centered destinations we could paddle to on the Hudson, but...pfft. Can't beat what we had last night.

Waddled off to my tent about 12:30 - slept like a log, undisturbed by the real-life version of West Side Story I'm told was going on in the Paerdegat Athletic Club parking lot from about 3 to 5 am. I did hear a bit at one point but I thought it was just rowdy kids - apparently it got to sounding tense later. Guess that "good fences make good neighbors" thing is true. We've got good fences. However I don't think I'll be camping there alone anytime soon. Not that I would've done that anyways, this just confirms that.

Got up this morning, saw Prof. M and Chalu off - then starting considering what to do with myself. At one point, before I got the cold, I was itching for Breezy Point trip - have had a lot of really lovely weekends on flatwater - that's nice but I'm craving some bumpywater.

But between the cold & the iffy weather forecast, I'd decided to let that go until another weekend. Breezy from the club is something I want to be feeling 100% on for. Right now I'm sitting around 95%.

Still wanted to go out. Weather forecast sounded like an innocuous morning, with chances of thunderstorms in the afternoon But the sky was looking ominous to the north, and there were intermittent far-off grumbles of thunder.

No hurry. Better to watch for a while.

Hung out lying flat on my tummy on the ramp to the dock schmoozing with the officer of the day (that was the only place there was a breeze - it was nice there, on the club grounds, it was so stifling you could break a sweat standing stock-still) and watching the fiddler crabs that live along the banks of the Paerdegat crawling around, eating mud & occasionally arm-wrestling for crab supremacy. I find this weirdly fascinating...

I was torn. Really wanted to paddle. I'd left my boat out the night before planning to paddle. There's always the option to stay close to home. The rumbling all seemed to be staying well to the north of Jamaica Bay. But I was going to be paddling solo and when I'm paddling solo, I'm, like, ten times more conservative.

But then Andy and the Basil Guy showed up. I'm going to call the Basil Guy the Basil Guy because he's another gardener. Unlike me, trying to keep 16 different kinds of plants from going all Darwinian on each other, he's got a nice tidy square plot devoted entirely to basil and peppers. Gorgeous basil. I love basil but had always wondered who was growing that much - well, it turns out he makes lots of pesto! I hadn't met him before today, but he turns out to be a friend of Andy's....

and check out the bow of his kayak!

and better yet - he did this before the Sopranos existed!

Now there's a REAL urban paddler for you.

We all hemmed & hawed & listened to the distant thunder & the NOAA forecasts on my VHF for a while longer & then decided OK, let's go, but staying near shore & ready to skedaddle to shore or home if things started looking yuck.

Well - that would've been a very good call if we'd just stuck to it. Only we didn't.

See this bird?

That's a tern (btw that boat that tern is perched on has appeared on this blog in the not-too-distant past - more on that some other day, hopeful after I get back to the stunt plane story...). Kayak fishermen like terns, especially in large, excited (you can tell by the way they're hollering), dive-bombing flocks - 'cause that means they are going after a school of little fish, and schools of little fish draw BIGGER fish...

like this one!

Andy's one of our fisherfolk, and he always carries a rod. We'd just gotten to Mill Basin when we noticed a noisy swirl of terns. A second later there was a big splash that meant a fish worth catching. Andy paddled over, cast, and a second later this bluefish took the bait. Now, we'd been talking about how good fresh-caught fish is, and we'd been thinking maybe if Andy caught something we might take it back to to club & grill it...but since we'd just started paddling we decided to put this one back.

BTW - look what the bluefish did to Andy's lure! Apparently they like to bite the tails off little fish before they finish them. Andy also said that they like to bite surfers' toes off. Yeowch. At least getting bitten by a shark has a certain cachet. Losing a toe to a bluefish just doesn't have the same ring, does it?

Problem was, that one fish sort of set off some fish fever that clouded our judgement a bit. We paddled along the shore a while longer - but then got cocky & decided to head over to Canarsie Pol (Pol, btw, is short for Polder, which is the Dutch term for "man made island" - Chalu got curious). Andy knows some good spots there. We all wanted to see Andy catch another fish.

Well, we get over there no problem. Lots of gulls heading the same way. Andy's hoping they're going to fish. We stopped on the Pol for a quick bite to eat. We're looking around for excited terns but it seems that all of the birds have sort of landed...

Birds ain't so birdbrained it seems. Suddenly we're starting to see some flashes. And the sky is getting really really dark to the northeast.

More flashes. I switch on the VHF. "Arnie" - I think the NOAA robot voice sounds like Arnold Schwarzenneger - is just finishing a special announcement..."winds gusting to 35 knots and locally heavy rain - boaters should seek safe harbor".

A little more listening & we've got confirmation that the picture we're looking at is pretty much what we'd been afraid of - a stretched-out line of thunderstorms passing worrisomely close. The Paerdegat is almost a mile away over open water. We're not chancing that. Canarsie Pol is going to have to be our safe harbor. So we hunker down...

and it rains and rains and the wind shifts around & gets cool & at first that feels good but eventually enough is enough & I break out the space blanket that I've carried in my first-aid kit for years for the first time ever - I had so much stuff to tote for the camping & potluck I'd decided that I'd just use that if I got stuck sitting out a thunderstorm, instead of carrying a jacket, too - good thing about that was it turns out to be big enough for two, Basil Guy was getting a little cool too. Nobody was wandering into hypothermia-land, but why even chance it when you've got the solution in your day-hatch?

Although there was much speculation about whether the blanket would attract lightning, and how much we looked like potatoes wrapped up ready to bake, and how we had not thought to bring any sour cream & chives.

Did the job though. Eventually the line passed by without ever really getting into the bay - the seagulls started taking off again, the wind lightened, the clouds lightened, the VHF reports got less ominous, and as we launched, a plane roared over our heads taking off from JFK - and Andy said "They've reopened the airport - good sign!"

He was right. We hadn't heard one plane take off the whole time we were hunkering. Realizing that, that jet roar was nice to hear.

We got back to the Paerdegat fine - put the boats away - and then finished the day with a couple of slices of what is said to be - by some - and I think I may agree! - to be the BEST PIZZA in BROOKLYN!

YUM! I'd been hearing about DiFara's a lot, it's kind of famous, and although I am not a pizza connoiseur, I can say that the owner makes pizza like he's making art. And it was wonderful. I think that I should go back sometime when I haven't just had an adventure - just to make sure, y'know?

p.s. - look how happy the garden looks! Great soaking!

p.p.s. - did I mention I've got a kabocha squash growing?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pier 66 Boathouse -

I haven't posted lately about the Pier 66 Boathouse developments because, well, basically there wasn't anything solid enough to post, just ongoing rumors of "we're almost there!", "next week, really!", etc. etc. - but it looks like the New York Riversports (minus whoever those Manhattan Waterfront Realty guys were) organization (a consortium of the various groups who used to call the barge at Pier 63 home) has succesfully negotiated the bureaucratic challenges that lay between the announcement that their proposal had been chosen & the time when the permit could be signed & the keys to the boathouse handed over.

And yes, that means the business I used to be a partner in, Manhattan Kayak Company, is back in business!

They've lost half the season already, but at least there are still a couple of good months left to salvage something.

Unfortunately this only means the boathouse is open - the barge itself, I don't know what's going on.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How does my garden grow?

OK, I'm going to admit right up front, this is going to be the first filler post in a week of filler or non-posts. I'm at work, I'm working on spreadsheets that take about 10 minutes to calculate, I can do this while Excel chugs through the calculations.

The other day I showed 3 stages in the life of that kabocha vine that's been making regular appearances here - to find those, I searched under "Urban Gardening" tag & as I was finding those, I noticed I had another fun series-over-time possibility - the entire garden, start until now!

Late March - Digging out the shape of the bed.

Late April - Sides in, filled up. 1 part soil, 1 part peat, 1 part compost. Almost looked like it would taste like chocolate cake. Also discovered that in New York City, "dirt cheap" may be a bit of an oxymoron. Dirt expensive, actually.

Later in April - making it pretty, with an appropriately maritime spin!

And then in May I planted stuff and then TQ and I ran off to Hawaii for a week and while we were there, it was very hot & dry & everything pretty much shriveled up & almost died, as I showed in the recent Kabocha Lives post. I don't think I took a picture of the whole bed because it was just too pathetic.

But some of the plants toughed it out, and I planted more, and within a couple of weeks things were looking a leeeeetle bit more cheerful - here we are in early June:

early July:

and mid July!

At this point, the general tone of the gardening has gone from feeling like I was killing everything I planted - to the much more satisfying work of trying to keep everything more or less confined to it's allotted space - all looks peaceful & green but if I don't keep things reined in, it would just turn into a raging case of survival of the fittest!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rosemary Ruth Gowanus sail photos -

This week's shaping up to be a busy one here at the office. I'd hoped to post some pictures from that great trip on the Rosemary Ruth, weekend before last, but I don't know how much time I'm going to have, and there happened to be a really good photographer on board with a better camera than mine, and he's already got HIS pictures up on a gallery, and he said it was OK to link to it so here it is! Enjoy!

Such a good sail!

Thanks, Dan (and Richard too, as always!)

Turner & The Dinosaurs

Spent the weekend in South Norwalk - a half-day Kayakways workshop at The Small Boat Shop into a great great great excuse for a whole weekend's worth of paddling the Norwalk Islands.

And that's all I can manage right now. WAAAAY past my bedtime.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

8 Facts Meme


So I have been double-tagged with the 8 Random Facts Meme by the BillyBlogger and target="_blank">Rosiewolf. Plus there was another BillyBlog tag for 7 Little-Known Facts About Me Meme.

So I think I’m going to blend the 2 & attempt to come up with 8 Little-Known Facts About Me.

My big problem with these memes is that I turn each Fact or Answer or whatever it is into an essay. This time I was actually going to do it with pictures & stuff. But if I do that it will never get done & if it does, nobody will ever make it all the way through. So instead, I’m going to attempt to do this within the space of my lunch hour.

BTW, many of these will be known to my real world friends – I’m mostly thinking about things that people who know me through this blog wouldn’t know.

On my mark. Get set. Go!

1. Most people know that I’ve managed to turn both kayaking and sailing into occasional revenue generators. Fewer people know that I spent a summer working as a truck driver.
2. My favorite yogurt in the whole wide world is La Yogurt Sabor Latino Guava. YUMMY.
3. One of my first pets was a white mouse named Snowball. My mother used to smuggle the mouse when we traveled – Snowball would ride in a Tupperware sandwich box in my mom’s overcoat pocket. We were never one of those dreadful families where the pets are considered disposable - even the smallest of our critters moved when we did.
4. When I was in college, I (along with a couple of friends) got talked into being contestants in a VERY early round of the Miss Italia Contest. It was held at a nightclub (outdoors, by the sea, lovely!) on the tiny Italian island where my dad was stationed. The island was so small there was only one real contestant. The doormen were asking every girl who walked in if they would please participate. Of course the real contestant won, but me and my friends had a good laugh.
5. I was nominated for the homecoming court when I was in I think 9th grade. I was pretty sure it was a joke. I was a gawky, awkward kid with braces & an unsteady sense of fashion.
6. Mostly I was a pretty nice kid. But I still recall going along with an intentional ostracism at one point. Kids are mean. But then again, have any of us mature, rational, adults figured out a truly graceful, hurtless method of communicating the message when we find ourselves in a situation where someone is more interested in us (even platonically) than we are with them?
7. I tend to talk to my computer when I’m working more than I need to.
8. I had a strangely ambiguous relationship with water when I was a kid. Not so much love-hate as love-fear. I don’t know for sure but I wonder if that’s because my most vivid early encounter with water – which I still remember & may have mentioned here – involves falling into a pool and just sinking. Fortunately my mother had her eye on me & fished me out good & quick.

Bonus facts that I think I’ve mentioned before:
1. I’ve never owned a television set.
2. I’ve never owned a car.
3. I only own one telephone and it has a cord!
4. The balance of the love-fear relationship with water was finally tipped because I have a bit of a competitive streak, and one day at the base pool, there was this bunch of Marines who looked pretty scared of the water, too. I decided that I could do better than them.

Every Silver Lining Has Its Cloud

I look outside:

I think:

"Sheesh. Good thing I shlepped out to Canarsie to water the garden last night."

Although I did get to pick my first cucumber. Cool. And very yummy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter Place

OK, so we've got a bit of an event coming up here at the Really Big Children's Publishing House. Ordinarily I restrict my at-work blogging to lunch break, but I just snuck a peek at Sitemeter and I'm seeing a lot of people looking for Harry Potter Place, or Diagon Alley. So since it's in a cause I think the RBCPH can appreciate, I took a quick break to update the 2005 post that people are finding through those searches - it now features a link that actually takes you to the gallery of pictures I took at the last Harry Potter Place PLUS a link to the press release with all the info for THIS year's event - which promises to be quite the blowout!

It is the Grand Finale, after all!

click here to go to the updated post!

p.s. - Probable answers to any random silly questions you might be thinking about asking:

No, I haven't.
No, I don't.
No, I can't.

Hate to be so negative, but that's the whole story!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Kayaking NY Harbor: Good News & Bad News...

So the good news is - you're very unlikely to get run over by a car while paddling in New York Harbor.

The bad news is...

you could still get run over by 5,000 cars, all at pretty much the same time.


(taken on Sunday from the Rosemary Ruth).

One of a number of entertaining sights from Sunday's sail.

Beaches of New York Harbor

The weekend was wonderfully waterborne; Saturday, I joined the New Members Paddle at Sebago; we went to Ruffle Bar & back & then ordered pizza & scarfed & schmoozed. A good time, as they say, was had by all. Sunday, I'd happily accepted an invitation to get back out on the Hudson for an afternoon's sail on the Rosemary Ruth. Conditions were beautiful & the tides were right for us to sail all the way down to the mouth of the Gowanus Canal. Perfectly lovely day for sailboats - and my gosh did the harbor seem to be crawling with schooners! I think one of these days I want to do a "Schooners of New York Harbor" post. And I will definitely be doing a post with some pictures from the weekend.

Neither of those will fit within a lunch hour, though. Instead, this afternoon I wanted to mention Beaches of New York Harbor!

Although Manhattan IS an island, it's not one of those islands that's famed "in song and story" for it's miles of palm-bordered beaches. Mostly 'cause it hasn't GOT any palm-bordered beaches. Unless you really stretch it & count the phony Coney Island palms (oh, yeah, and those are in Brooklyn). The bulk of the Manhattan shoreline is, in fact, bulkhead; for the first few years of my life in NYC I simply assumed that the waterways surrounding Manhattan had to be horribly polluted because everywhere I walked to the shoreline, I saw promenades, with railings, then steep stone walls dropping down to the green water. Having grown up in Hawaii, with the whole public right-of-way thing, I just figured that if there weren't ways for people to get to the water, that must mean that there's something bad about the water.

I am of course very happy to have been wrong in this case.

And once I found that out, and began exploring New York City's waterways by kayak, I started to find out that in addition to the "official" places where people can get to the water, there are all sorts of little places where a reasonably coordinated person could, in a real pinch, get off the water. Some of these are just places where the seawall becomes a little less forbidding, but you'll also find, tucked into odd corners & nooks, little scraps of beaches.

That's where the local knowledge really makes paddling safer and more enjoyable. Without them, you end up having distances between possible landings that, while manageable by an even somewhat experienced paddler under ordinary conditions, can become formidable should something go wrong. Less dramatically, they also give paddlers spots to break for lunch, wait for the current to change in their favor, or just stretch their legs.

Of course, this being New York City, and access involving the sort of issues I write about here frequently, our ability to use those beaches is NOT a given. The Beaches of New York Harbor website I linked to above was built and maintained by one of our more active local paddlers, Rob Buchanan. Earlier this year he & a group who were rowing a Whitehall gig had planned to take a break on one of his favorite little beaches, the one beneath the Brooklyn Bridge on Manhattan's East Side. They got chased off by the New York Harbor Police in no uncertain terms - they were warned that if they landed, their "trip would be terminated". Being in a borrowed boat, indulging in a bit of low-key civil disobedience was not an option, so they rowed on - but Rob wasn't just going to let that go.

He's been working very hard to bring people's attention to those little landings (he calls them "soft edges"), their usefulness for paddlers, and so when the ability to use one of them is challenged, he's good about spreading the word. He's putting together a request to the group that gave the NYPD the instructions that no boats were to land on that beach (the Empire State Development Corporation, which is early on in planning some uses for that stretch of waterfront) asking them to reconsider their policy - that just reminded me that his site would be a good one to link to!

He frequently mentions the Public Trust Doctrine. This is a concept that most people who take up paddling become familiar with fairly quickly - it involves the very old idea that "the seashore and the seas constitute a common heritage and that they ought to be open to all."

You can read about that here.

That's all I've got time for now. Hope you enjoy checking out Rob's site!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Kabocha Lives! Or: Compare & Contrast 3

Kabocha & Cherry Tomatoes, May 5th:

Kabocha, May 26th.

Kabocha, July 14th. Feeling MUCH better now...

Friday, July 13, 2007


A most disconcerting scene to come upon on a dark, quiet night in Jamaica Bay.

No idea what happened. Spooky looking, though. We saw the rightside-up boat first, I spotted it first, just saw reflections off the glass, we thought it was just somebody anchored with no anchor lights - then, coming back, we were passing closer - at first we thought they'd run aground on a hummock, but as we got closer we saw the bowsprit & what we'd seen as a weirdly-placed hummock of sand suddenly resolved itself into the curve of a turtled hull. The anonymity of the better-off one just made it even weirder - no registration numbers, no name on the transom, just anonymous white speedboat. Weird.

We had a much better trip than these guys. Gorgeous night; perfect temperature, water like glass, fireworks far away, and a falling star; so quiet that when I stopped paddling to wait for the guys (I was on my surfski, was letting Phillipe try my Romany, while Chalu was in another boat he had the owner's permission to borrow), I could hear the swish of the black skimmers' beaks as they sliced through the water while fishing near my boat.

We set out with no particular destination...

"Well, tomorrow is a work day, we should probably head back."

5 minutes later -

"Hey, you wanna go around Canarsie Pol instead of straight back?"


Around we went.

At the far end, directly across the channel from the Paerdegat -

"Wanna go to Floyd Bennett Field?"


Think we did about 10 miles in the end.

Planlessness can be a fine thing under the right conditions, when you're out with the right people.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Far Rockaway trip report

Click here for a photo trip report!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It Would Seem that Gardening...

It would seem that gardening gives one an interesting perspective.

Case in point:

I look outside:

I think:
"Cool, guess I don't need to trek out to Canarsie to water tonight!"

(webcam shot courtesy of Wired New York.

Inventions of the Paddling Chef

Tonight's forecast is looking awfully good - for staying home & writing up a trip report, that is!

In the meantime, here's something I've been meaning to post for a while. One of the Sebago club members is a talented chef. He's well-known at the club for organizing paddles that end up in group cooking endeavours, where he sets the theme and everyone brings some ingredient that they think will be good - the Stone Soup paddle and the Paella Paddle being the two I've heard the most about. Sounds like fun.

He's also quite inventive, and shared 2 of his latest creations with some of his friends in a recent email. I asked if I could post them, and he said sure!

Here they are, for your consideration, with excerpts from the accompanying email:

I recently built two devices which I think may be of interest to you all.

First of all I built a sort of a "Club" to fit into a day hatch for locking up a kayak. Total cost about $5, plus chain and lock. See photo:

Secondly I'm delighted with the floating slip case I built for my new Olympus. When Tom handed me his to take a shot on New Years day I was scared "to death"* I would drop it in the water. This little slip case is built out of closed cell foam and brightly colored duct tape for visibility. It floats like a cork. You could even throw your camera to a fellow paddler for them to grab out of the water. Check out the photos:

Thanks for sharing, Steve!

* er, he said something a little stronger than "to death", but this blog has a G rating to maintain! :D

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Good Session Alert - tonight at Slainte, 8 PM - ?

Interrupting the waterborne adventures theme for a moment-

If you have even a moderate liking for Irish traditional music (not the Danny Boy kind though), live in New York City, and are trying to figure out something to do tonight (Tuesday the 10th of July), word on the street is that tonight's Dempsey's session is going to be pretty darned good, with guest musicians Linda Hickman and Rose Flannagan. My friend John (see also: Arbo & John at Vox Pop) is the session leader, and he is absolutely in heaven over this - these are 2 really awesome musicians; John's been bringing in some really good guest artists once every couple of weeks. Linda came last week & apparently the session went 'til 2 in the morning. We usually run out of steam by midnight. Linda had such a good time that she decided to come back this week, and she's invited Rose Flannagan, who's a great fiddler (in fact she is Brian Conway's sister, I'm sure I've mentioned him in here once or twice).

The session starts at 8. Only tricky part is - it's not at DEMPSEY'S! Dempsey's is being renovated, so until that's done, the pub owner has kindly relocated us to another pub he owns, Slainte, 304 Bowery (between Bleecker & Houston).

In addition to drinks, Slainte has pub food. Hopefully air conditioning, too. Man, is it hot.

Should be good fun...or if you prefer it Gaelicized, great craic!

Ladybug & Dayhatch

I was going to call it "Still Life with Ladybug and Dayhatch" but mostly still life paintings don't have anything alive in them. This ladybug is a resident of Far Rockaway & clearly approved of my boat's paint job!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Lower East Side Children's Bike Parade needs volunteers/bikes/money!

I'm not exactly sure how or when I signed myself up for the East Village Community Coalition's email list but I've been getting emails from them for ages. This one sounds so neat, I just have to make it a lunch-hour post. I may investigate the volunteer options a little bit, don't want to sign on for anything that requires a lot of weekends (I'm always overbooking myself) but if they'll take a person for just one or two of the workshops, that could be a lot of fun.

** First Annual Lower East Side Children's Bicycle Parade **

Volunteers Needed !!

The first annual LOWER EAST SIDE CHILDREN'S BIKE PARADE takes place on Saturday October 13th, 10am - 2pm, starting and ending in Tompkins Square Park.

We NEED new and used children's bikes to be turned into 'art'and ridden in the parade. If you have a bike to donate, or have art supplies the children can use, please...

call us at (212) 979 2344
email us at lesbikeparade@gmail.com

We NEED volunteers to help create the 'art bikes' at workshops this the summer and fall, and to help on parade day. No experience Necessary.

call or email @ the CONTACT information above.

Honorary Sponsors: Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh. Co-sponsors include Transportation Alternatives, Recycle-A-Bicycle, the Lower East Side Girls Club, Lower East Side People¹s Mutual Housing Association and Good Old
Lower East Side.

Please make a donation to help cover the costs of the Children's Bike Parade. Your contribution is tax deductible! To make an online donation, visit Network for Good and search for East Village Community Coalition. Or mail us at:

143 Avenue B
Simplex Office
New York, NY 10009.

For more information on the parade, how to volunteer, get your kids involved in the art bike sessions, or to donate your bike, time or money to this important event, please...

VISIT our website:
CALL us (212) 979 2344, or
EMAIL us at lesbikeparade@gmail.com

Coming Soon on Frogma (and the Sebago Canoe Club blog) - Far Rockaways Trip Report! Totally new turf (to use the term VERY VERY loosely) for me, tons of fun, beautiful day (95 degrees is so much nicer when you're paddling on 65 degree water!) the trip report will have lots of pictures!

Trip leader promised squatter shacks, interesting birds, and pristine waters - we had all that & some good entertaining low-stakes chart reading practice too.

There will of course be no mention of a gang of intrepid kayakers actually finding jetskis to be useful in any way because that didn't happen. Nope. That's our story, and we're sticking to it.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Re-learning to coach

Finally trying to get back to those deep philosophical Coaching Thoughts I was threatening a while back (which led me meandering down Memory Lane, but not too far).

It's really not that complicated, the realization that sank in during the coach training weekend. In fact it's ludicrously obvious - kind of like looking in the fridge for the mayonnaise, and not seeing it until somebody points out that it's right in front of your face. Or better yet, looking all over the boat for the shades that are parked on top of your head. True. Not often, but once or twice. Please tell me I am not the only person to whom that's happened.

Anyways, in this case, the ludicrously obvious thing that it took a coach training class to really notice is this:

I've been paddling since 1998.

I'm not a new paddler anymore.

One would think that could only be good in a kayak instructor, right? Who'd you rather learn from - me circa 2000 (the year I began to lead classes, 3 years into my kayaking "career"), or combat-rolling small-craft-advisory-savoring ice-paddling me circa 2006?

I think that at least for beginner paddlers, I could make some plausible arguments in favor of Bonnie 2000!

At that point, I was in a situation rich in mentoring, encouragement, and direction. I had joined the company with little experience but much enthusiasm, and that was encouraged & channeled. In fact as I had begun to relate when my little nostalgic recollection was interrupted by the demands of NOW, Richard and I were sitting in the MKC office one day near the end of 1999, my first year as a partner; I'd been out of work for a little while, interviewing intensely. I'd gone to an interview at a bank way up high in the World Trade Center in the morning - gotten all keyed up & dressed up, spent the morning filling out paperwork, then interviewing with HR, then with the director of client services, and somehow walked out feeling like I'd utterly & completely blown it. I was getting a little tired of the process & was indulging in a little pipe-dreaming, talking to Richard about how much I'd like to take a break & go visit my folks in Hawaii for a week or two. At the same time, I was futzing around on the American Canoe Association website, and not being one to pipe-dream small back then, I said "And hey, look, there's an Instructor Development Workshop at this kayak company in Santa Cruz, I could go take that on the way out to see my folks..."

Without so much as a pause for thought, Richard (who, although he is a really a really wonderful kayak instructor, is primarily a professional dancer with a major dance company which tours for months out of the year - he flies a LOT) calmly offered me frequent flyer miles.

I hadn't been serious. I'm a Responsible Sort. Fly off to take a vacation and a kayak class when I didn't have a job? That's not something I would ordinarily do - but that offer (combined with the fact that deep down I really DID want to do it) and my stick-in-the-mud Responsible Person facade crumbled. I think I had reservations by the next day.

And I think that it was within a day or two after that that my employment agency called. The bank had offered me a job. I explained, in a nervously apologetic tone of voice, about how I'd just gone completely mad and booked a flight to Hawaii to visit my folks with a stop in California en route...

The bank was FINE with that.


Man. Best vacation EVER. Just think - a week and a half in Hawaii, with a brand new job waiting at the end - no work piling up - AWESOME.

And I learned SOOOOO much at that IDW. I wasn't ready for the Instructor Certification Exam just yet - the Instructor Trainers & I agreed on that - but my gosh was I ever set up to start really taking a more active role in teaching the next season - which was 2000.

So looking back at what I had in 2000 -

I had a very solid set of basic paddling skills.

I had a year of working as an assistant to two very capable instructors - and watching them teach, I was recognizing the value of individual styles - Richard taught one way, Eric taught another way, that was not just OK, that was good for the clients, and most importantly I had somewhere to go when I had questions or found myself flummoxed by something (one memorable question I had to ask once - "What do I tell someone who I've discovered is actually terrified of the water & thought kayaking was going to be a good way to combat that fear?" - that was a real issue I discovered a client had & it was WAY past my ability to give him an answer).

I also had an extremely fresh recollection of my own progress - the leaps and bounds, the movements that eluded me, the moments that those movements suddenly made sense, the joy of being able to apply those newly acquired skills with more and more confidence...

And that's maybe what I, as I am now, don't have so much anymore.

Yes - I do still remember those moments. Vividly.

But I've learned so much more since then.

And I'm still learning - and all of the experiences I've had and all the skills I've learned since then have been overlaid over those first couple of years.

I'm a better paddler now than I was then. But - if you're trying to teach someone one thing - one basic, simple thing, maybe it's simpler to do that if you only actually know two or three things yourself, instead of ten things, all built on that first skill.

Takes a little more concentration & care to tease out the simple foundation from under all the fancy stuff.

I've been out of coach training so long I just didn't see that. Not that I had turned into a bad instructor - maybe just one who tried to teach things in a way that was slightly more complicated than it needed to be.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Sturgeon, and Hey Presto, Pesto!

Remember the post I entitled something like "Sharks, Shmarks"? Well, now those Suwanee sturgeon and their boater-smackdownin' leaps have made the New York Times.

Interesting article, too. A little more in depth than the last one I posted. Don't miss the bit about the irate boaters who want all the sturgeon killed because their fun is being spoiled. Sigh. I imagine that's a very small subset of Suwanee boaters but...that's just so dumb.

Anyways. There are also people who are fascinated by this fish, more on the behavior of the fish, and a FANTASTIC picture of a sturgeon in midleap - breathtakingly close to a speeding motorboat!

Read it here!

Meanwhile, back in the Paerdegat -

I think that I can now say with relative confidence that my garden is ESTABLISHED. It was a rocky start, I was pretty dejected when I came back from Hawaii to find that all the seedlings I'd started on my windowsill were at best scrawny little wisps of things. There were suggestions of perhaps I should just throw in the towel, pull everything out & go buy well started plants from a nursery - but I was approaching this as an experiment and the mistakes & setbacks were part of it. Not to mention the fact that I figured out pretty early on in this experiment that trips to the nursery tend to end up extracting more money from the hapless shopper's pockets than she walked in intending to spend. So I stayed away from the garden center (well, except for the Union Square Farmer's Market impulse buy in the form of a $14 flat of lettuces - but my gosh, I'm having salad all the time now!), left the survivors to work things out or not, planted a few more things I'd started on the windowsill, started a few more things from seeds. It worked! Now even the things that were barely clinging to life when I got back from Hawaii are thriving!

Well, the funny thing is that the survivors, after a couple of weeks of looking puny and sad, suddenly took off & are now some of the healthiest things in a garden that's doing very well without me doing much more than watering & weeding once every couple of days! I guess the few plants (two cherry tomatoes, the kabocha, and some basil) that made it through the one-two-three punch of transplant/mini-heat-wave/dry spell were the toughest & healthiest. Give 'em a month of perfect growing conditions, and woohoo! They are taking off!

I was out there on Monday & decided to thin the basil. I had a seedling Adele the Gardening Co-Chair had given me, then I'd started a lot more from seed. A lot of them weren't growing very fast, so I just cleared those out to leave space for the more energetic plants.

That meant I had a lot of basil! Mmmm...let's see what happens if I throw that in with some other stuff and mush it all up...

I do believe that that is a pesto-like substance! That's what I was shooting for.

Rather fun, this having a garden...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Scenes from 1 & 2 Star Training

It was an all around wonderful weekend - except for the 5 hour trip home. There was a terrible accident on the Tappan Zee Bridge and it was closed for 9 hours. We didn't figure that out until we were sitting in traffic so motionless that a spider began spinning a web between the bow of one of the kayaks on Prof. M's minivan and the SUV in front of us.

Aside from that, FANTASTIC weekend, 3 of our 10 students got assessed at the end & all got their 2 star ratings easily - I think there were a few more who would have passed if they'd tried, but 2 days of training, even on flatwater, is pretty intense, and a lot of people just ran out of steam & decided to take the Leisurely Paddle with Pete option. But I think everybody learned a lot - that's the main thing.

Great students. The person standing up in the boat is one of 'em - that was fun! It was funny, we were working on low braces towards the end of Day 1. T-rescues were right after the bracing, so after conferring with the other instructors ahead of time, I decided that we'd start easy - then allow the bracing session to segue into the T-rescue session. People were entertainingly slow to start going over, but once the first couple of capsizes happened & people realized it was all OK, & there was this great sensation of people really starting to cut loose & have some fun! We branched out from T-rescues into paddle float & cowboy. Earlier in the day, I'd stood up in my boat and then jumped out as a "stupid coach trick" forfeit for being caught in a red light-green light game, and M. decided that she wanted to try - she wanted to try the cowboy rescue anyways, and she was getting bored of wet exits...

And then there's Chalu demonstrating what a wonderful job we did of teaching steering strokes.

Boy was that a fun class.

We did lunchtime presentations. On Day One, Tom P., the head instructor, introduced the BCU system and Sebago.

On Day 2, I did a short presentation on kit. I'd written up a list of the basics as a handout, showing what was Coast Guard required (actually I did another handout with sample pages from the USCG Boating Safety website as I think it's really good for sea kayakers to know the regs they are expected to follow) & what's just a good idea; I then brought out my own stuff & just went through it piece by piece.

I'd showed the list to the head instructor in advance & asked him to vet it one more time before I started my talk. I was a little nervous, you see, about the possibility of accidently leaving something obvious out & looking like a dope.

Chalu approached me afterwards as we were beginning to launch. He had a very serious look on his face.

"Excuse me, Bonnie, but I wanted to ask you something - I think you left something out when you were talking about kits."

"Really?" I attempted to maintain a collected expression while mentally I began frantically rummaging through the list o' stuff trying to figure out WHAT boneheadedly obvious piece of perfectly everyday gear I'd left out. Drawing a total, complete blank - "What was that?"

"A banjo".

It's good I wasn't in my boat yet 'cause I think I would have fallen over from laughing so hard.