Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sailing Saturday & a Visit to the Barge...

From Sailing & Pie...

Probably should've just gone home after the sail - was tired & sniffly & walking around a shut-down barge & boathouse just put me in a sort of a bad mood. Ah well. For those who actually followed all the sturm und drang that went on around the barge at Pier 63 last year, I thought you might like to see the update. Pay no attention to the cranky blogger behind the curtain.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Strengths & Weaknesses, or, Birds, Bugs and Canarsie Harvest

Nah, not getting all philosophical-like tonight - actually I'm feeling a bit under the weather & want to put the cabrito curry...did I mention I live in a fabulously Caribbean neighborhood?)I cooked up this afternoon in the fridge & turn in.

Nope, just talking about the Optio while I let the curry stew just a skoshie bit longer.

I've mentioned from time to time that I've been toying with the idea of getting a zoomier camera than the Optio, since I'm now paddling in a wildlife refuge and a major stop on the North Atlantic Flyway. I've now been at Sebago for just over a year; I've watched the birds go through a whole turn of the seasons, and yet when I want to write about seeing the first brants of fall, I can't get close enough to even think about taking their picture. These guys* are about the best I'm going to do as far as bird pictures:

But I was once again really appreciative of the extreme close-up ability that the camera DOES have -

yes, there were my favorite bees on flowers, if I had a dime for every bee-on-flower picture I've taken...

But then today, there was THIS beauty hanging out on the dinghy racks -

Of course the problem with a mantis on the dinghy rack is that it's a dinghy rack, not a mantis rack - the dinghies had been moved to allow for a little machete-and-clipper work to fight back the knotweed jungle - that stuff would eat all of Canarsie if left alone - so the Laser sailor who found her engineered a gentle transfer -

To a friendlier spot. She'll probably not be around much longer - she was quite torpid, and with temperatures dipping into the 30's tonight that will probably be the end of her. I hope she left lots of eggs, and I'm glad I was able to get that nifty close-up.

Been trying to post a couple more but keep getting errors. Just as well, I really do need to turn in. One last one though. The pictures I was trying to post were of my garden the day I went to Plattsburgh (when the cosmos that had spent all summer growing to something like 9 feet tall had suddenly exploded in blossoms in a way that totally startled me, in a fun way) and today. I hadn't been to the club since then - I'd collected my full kit that day, and I needed most of that for Rhode Island, so it all just stayed at home, and since I came back to pouring rain (no need for watering) and 5 consecutive 12 hour work days (I got SO much done, but think that might be part of why I'm feeling run down), today was the first time I'd seen the garden in a couple of weeks. Didn't have any idea what to expect. Well, everything was alive & well that had been when I left - but the 9-foot cosmos had lost the battle to the prevailing winds & had simply given up & laid down. As had the insufficiently anchored late-season pea trellis. Next year maybe my trellises will be less haphazard - and I definitely have some better ideas about what works, what doesn't work & what needs to go where.

But I did have fun with this this year - and it's still producing! In fact I had a rather nice harvest today - with the season end near, I'm not so worried about picking in a way that the plants can sustain (that was my strategy, works well for a single person who can only eat so much at once anyways).

And I just can't resist taking a page from Claire & showing off one of my last harvests - cherry tomatoes, just enough little beets for one meal, a few peas (eaten raw as soon as the photography was done), onions, basil, thyme, and some of the mystery greens from the mesclun mix (one variety happened to handle the hot weather better than the rest, so I left that in) - plus the ONE pumpkin that my poor kabocha managed to produce that I've had mellowing in a cupboard, as I've heard you're supposed to do.

Nice little end of season crop, isn't it?

*Note on our Paerdegat Parakeets - I think our nest has officially become A Colony. One pair started it last January (I watched 'em starting it on a very windy day - they made no progress that day but they stuck with it!) - another pair joined them sometime over the summer & apparently they both raised broods because I was at the club for work day today (just went in the afternoon owing to feeling a little yuck) and at one point, there was a great squawking heard in the Paerdegat and a whole flight of little green birds came swooping in to perch on the wires. Must've been nine or ten. These 3 stuck around - judging by the flapping & begging it was a parent & two youngsters.

Downtown Manhattan with Schooner Pioneer

Just out for a ride on the Adirondack's last weekend of the year.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Upload's working again. Yay.

Here are those berries in more natural color. It's just funny sometimes what a close-up flash does to flora shots.

And speaking of flora, and spotting interesting things - this was actually from a bit of hiking TQ & I did right here in Brooklyn. The fascinating thing - and I'm sorry I didn't think to take a picture to show it - was how incredibly well-camouflaged this pale spider was on the Queen Anne's Lace from a distance.

And speaking of urban wildlife - this was taken on the same day at Mill Basin. The beach was crisscrossed with raccoon tracks. I thought that was pretty neat.

I've seen one that somebody's dog had treed in Central Park once, but the week after I took this pawprint picture by Jamaica Bay, I was coming home from a late night at work (preparing to go for that 3-day paddle - I'm starting to think you can never actually take vacation, just shift the work from your "days off" to other days). I was walking a little ways behind a guy who also looked to be on his way home. Right on my block, I noticed a cat crossing the street - then I looked again at the blocky body, strange gait and bushy tail & realized it was no cat. The guy saw it about the same time & we both stopped dead in our tracks as the animal pottered on across the sidewalk in front of us & into my neighbors' back yard. "That was a raccoon, wasn't it?" I said. "Yeah. It was," said the guy, shaking his head in amazement.

Not so surprising seeing the prints in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

Much wilder seeing one live & in person half a block from my own apartment!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Portmanteau & pretty berries

I just made up a nifty portmanteau:

Flither: To dither in a flustered manner.

Usage: Yes, the coding issue is all taken care of. Sorry about the flithering!

Pretty berries:

There were lots of these in the Ninigret Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, which, like Brooklyn's own Floyd Bennett Field, is a former air station being encouraged to revert to a more natural status. TQ and I went for a walk there one rainy day - we'd noticed these very pretty golden-yellow berries everywhere, then he noticed some red ones on the same bushes, then he actually spotted how the change was happening - the golden-yellow is actually a husk that splits open.

We liked these. I actually have some pictures at home that show the color a little better but I liked how this flash one came out. Besides, my home computer's been having issues with uploads right now & of the fifty or sixty I tried to put online last night, this was one of about 5 that made it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bummer bummer bummer, I'm back.

It's a little amazing how jarring this is...

after a couple of days of this:

and this:

Great trip. Rhode Island rocks. Not quite as much as Hawaii, of course, but whoever came up with this idea of big salt ponds right by the ocean, so you can find someplace to paddle even if conditions are a little on the "yeeesh" side, was brilliant.

Unfortunately came back to a couple of surprise urgent projects at work, on top of usual time-consuming week-before-month-end-close tracking ...this blog may just go travel photos for a few days!

(locations, btw - bottom to top:
Succotash Road
Great Swamp Memorial Drive

and...oooh, what was that other place again...Whatchamallit Square...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

For Steve's Uncle Hugh in the UK!

Just back from the long-awaited trip to Plattsburgh, which was both a nice catch-up with an old friend & also a very good addition to my working towards 2-star coach status - picked up some good ideas, particularly on that bear, Teaching the Forward Stroke, but also in general. Totally worth the trip.

I left with the distinct impression that Steve's Uncle Hugh might enjoy seeing a couple of the pictures I took while I was up there - enjoy!

A couple of Steve's students earning, if not extra credit, at least a ton of good karma points (anybody out there ever figure out how to trade in karma points for at least a cup of coffee?):

Speaking of karma points - the construction material they're using here is interesting - it's called Rastra. These blocks are made out of recycled polysterene, weighs about 150 lbs. and provide insulation. They get stacked & "laced" together with rebar, then all the holes get filled with concrete for strength & solidity.

A couple of shots of the house so far - basement & garage -

And here's Melissa with their Tiny Home - temporary living until the house is finished enough for a Certificate of Occupancy, at which point the Tiny Home becomes the Tiny Guest House - nice little place, isn't it?

And here, for everyone else, is some foliage, which was SPECTACULAR up there. It was cloudy in the morning & early afternoon, but things cleared up a while after I took these at one of the I-87 rest stops & the hillsides were just jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It was actually a good thing that I had decided to borrow one of Melissa & Steve's kayaks because I swear I would have ended up pulling over somewhere or other up there to go paddling if I had my Romany with me, and if I'd done that I'd probably be just approaching the GWB right about now, with a stop at the club to drop off the boat before I got home, instead of approaching turning in with the sand all rinsed off my gear & stuff all spread out drying.

Plus Melissa let me try her Qaarsut, which I really enjoyed - fun boat.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Time Flies.

I would like to offer up the following as a truism of boatblogging. What think ye swabbies and skippers? Arrr!

The amount of stuff you are feeling inspired to write about is in inverse proportion to the amount of time you actually have available for writing about it.

Topics currently on deck that I'd really like to attend to:
- Buying stuff
- Group behavior on the water
- Paying to learn stuff
- Safety issues in the Hudson River Park
- Plus I took some nice pictures the day TQ & I went hiking at Floyd Bennett Field
- The rest of the Jibe, Sally, Jibe song (Jibe, Sally, Jibe is all I have right now, plus a link to a video that will teach me as much as one can learn about jibing a windsurfer without going within a mile of an actual windsurfer, plus some pathetically obvious rhymes like Peconic/Sebonac/Tonic)

Topic in the bullpen, could be amusing to get back to but don't hold your breath:
- A few more verses of the Ballad of the Schooner Ann - maybe in honor of Day 200, 1/5th of the way there, that's not far away!

Topics lost in the mists of the past but not forgotten:
Hanauma Bay/Reef Rules Trilogy Part 3
Paddling organizations in the Hudson River Park
A paean - or would that be a mele - in honor of Hui Wa'a Kaukahi - me and TQ are proud to be card-carrying members!

Time available for writing any of this in:

Next 3 days:
None. Picked up a PT Cruiser this morning. YAY!

Next week & a half:
Not much.

Time flies. Want to watch in a minute?

Here's a really cool clock.

Break over, back to work.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

National Estuary Day at the Alley Pond Environmental Center, 9/29/07

And speaking of needing to post things within a certain amount of time if they are going to get posted at all, I'd mentioned that I and a number of other Sebagoites were going to be participating in the National Estuary Day Festival at the Alley Pond Environmental Center on Saturday, Sept. 29th. Well, we did, we had a great time, if you live in Queens & especially if you've got a young person or two to take, I really recommend a visit (and you should TOTALLY put Estuary Day there in your calendar for next year, nothing like planning ahead & Estuary Day is ALWAYS on the last Saturday in September).

I took my camera & took some pictures; in other surprising news, the earth rotated in such a manner that it created the illusion of the sun rising in the east.

Nice place, enthusiastic people working there, looks like they have some great programs for kids (there were some really excellent paintings of birds, in fact I should have taken a picture of this one of a bluejay - the kid who did it can't have been all that old but he or she had all the barrings and shadings amazingly right, very observant youngster).

Also some nice animals including...ta daaa!

Paprika the Ferret!

Plus I finally tell the story of the infamous Alley Pond Mud Roll. Happened a little too fast for Prof. M to get a picture but I do 'fess up. Might as well 'cause it seems like my entire CLUB knows about it already - I started telling Holly the Sailing Chair about it on Saturday and she'd already heard. Basic moral of the story was that everybody should listen to Hans. Oops. Fortunately mud is softer than rock. But it's still disconcerting.

Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the rest of the gang at the table - there was just so much to see in between playing in the pond!

You can see the rest of the pictures over on my Picasa page

If you want to learn more about APEC, check out their website!

You Know You Are Square When...

Completely random thought du jour:

You know you're square when start reading a copy of The Haight-Ashbury: A History that you found in a giveaway bin at work, and just reading about all the drugs those people were doing gets you feeling a little queasy.


Pretty interesting watching those same old interpersonal & intergroup politics & pettiness develop, same as anywhere & anytime, though.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fish on...uh...oh

OK, so it's the wrong day to jump back on the bandwagon that started a'rollin' on EVK4 and Proper Course when Joe Rouse at Horse's Mouth went on vacation & left the fellas feeling piscatorially deprived (and me under siege by people who want me to buy a Laser, but that's a different story). However I have got big plans for this Friday and next Friday* and I've been doing this long enough to know that if I think I want to post something, I have to post it when I think of it or I never get back to it. So it's Fish on Wednesday or no fish at all and...well, check out that fish. Full details over at Wenley's place. Oh, and btw, for anyone who found Tillerman's attempt at helping out on the simultaneous wahine woes to be less than time Joe's away, if you are truly in need of a fix, Wenley's site might be worth perusing.

I'm not saying I approve or anything like that. Tsk tsk.

PS Big plans=September's postponed-due-to-communications-SNAFU Lake Champlain run happens this weekend & then me & my honey are off for a li'l R&R in RI the following - hooray for drysuits & off-season vacation house rental rates!

pps I can't believe I only got ONE comment on my poem! Didn't it make you cry?

ppps...wait, perhaps that wasn't how I wanted to phrase that question. Oh well. I'll let it stand.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Last Cuke of Summer

'Tis the last cuke of summer
Rip'ning there all alone
All her crunchy companions
Sliced for salads in days long gone
No flower of her kindred,
No growing gherkins nigh,
To reflect her glossy greenness,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one,
To pine on the vine;
Nay I'll pluck thee and grate thee,
to mix with yogurt sublime
I'll add feath'ry fragrant dillweed,
And some garlic crushed so fine
Plus vi-nay-gar, and some juice squeezed
From a lemon of sunny shine.

As a bowl of tzatsiki,
You'll be welcome to stay
in my refri-ger-AY-tor
for a week and a day
Fresh and tangy on a pita,
far from autumn leaves so dry,
I can't wait for next summer
When more recipes I'll try!

With apologies to Thomas Moore.

Although the sincerity of said apologies could well be questioned.

As for the rest of the world, well, I don't think I've inflicted bad poetry on you guys since The Ballad of the Schooner Anne. And there I was merciful, I didn't finish the other 72 verses I would project being necessary to do justice to that particular adventure! Be grateful for small blessings - and come on, two bad poems a year won't kill ya!

Note, slightly later - oh, ok, maybe there were three poems this year. But I didn't think the cute feet one was really all that bad!

note 2, later still...oh, ok, and then there was my entry in Tillerman's Clerihew Day challenge. That was HIS fault, darn it!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Take a Bow.

Yesterday's "bow shot" (using "shot" in the purely photographic sense of the word of course) was the bow of the boat I sailed on until last year.

The above "bow shot" is this year's sailboat of choice.

May seem like a downgrade, to go from a magnificent 80-foot schooner to a Sunfish - but I found the change totally rewarding. All of my sailing experience before this year had been basically as crew - sometimes I'd be at the helm, but there were always others involved, I'd never sailed an entire boat by myself.

I've had such fun learning how to sail these this year.

Today was quite likely my last dinghy sailing jaunt for 2007. I'm busy with kayaking things for the next couple of weekends, and after that I expect it may be getting a bit chilly & I just don't have the experience to be thinking about frostbiting this year (kayaking keeps you a lot warmer!). Turned out to be an absolutely stunning day - summer bizarrely extended; I felt like I had everything reasonably nicely in hand, got the Sunfish up on plane at one point (well, that's an exagerration, the Sunfish got itself up on plane, I just didn't do anything to screw it up), and then tried Holly the Sailing Chair's Laser during our break on Ruffle Bar. That was fun - I wasn't taking pictures while I was sailing the Laser, but I managed to keep things more or less together, got a few tastes of good boat speed, and didn't capsize, as I was fully expecting to do - I've practiced enough in the Sunfish for handling tiller & sheet to not be a completely foreign exercise, so even though there were some differences between how I was doing things in a Sunfish & how I had to do them in the Laser, I think I had a good enough grip of the basics for my kayak-drilled sense of boat balance to kick in (in a way that didn't even START to happen at the clinic weekend earlier this year!). Of course it was also VERY light air by then so I can't congratulate myself too much (and I don't think I pulled of one jibe where I actually finished it on a run - things just happened so fast!). But I'm glad I tried it!

Learned a few things today - but the best part of the day?

Holly told me today that I'm certified! Yay! Although sailing season's more than likely over for me this year, next year, I'm allowed to take out a Sunfish on my own - plus we'll continue working on the Laser. That, by my own preference, I'm not thinking of going solo in anytime soon, but it'll be so neat to be able to have the option on a day with a nice breeze to go out & kick around in a Sunfish! Yay!

She did of course ask that I use good judgement as far as not going out in rough conditions - I would definitely do that, I'm now in the position I was in my 2nd year of kayaking where I had a way to get out without having to sign up for a tour - it was great to know I could, but I'd only do it when things were very very mild, saving the challenges for days when I'd be with better people (and boy, next year I think I'd like to start being a little braver about what I'll join the group for - this year, I looked for weather forecasts of 5-10 kts, next year maybe I won't be so timid).

But I've basically been judged to be competent enough to take a sailboat out without supervision -

This all just feels like I've really expanded my boating skills in a whole new direction - and that's just awesome.

Possibly not so awesome...I actually heard myself asking the fatal question while we were having a little break on Ruffle Bar...

"So, uh, how much does a used Laser cost, anyways?"

Friday, October 05, 2007

New York Classic Week

Oh, man, am I ever out of the New York Harbor scene. Here I am listing things to do this weekend & I didn't even realize that this week is the first ever New York Classic Week. There will be some awfully nice boats racing in the Upper Harbor this weekend!

Heading North for the battery - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Saturday Looks Sweet!


High of 84, partly cloudy...oh boy. Seems like I'll get in at least one more dinghy sailing session this year!

BTW if you'd like to get out on or near the water, sounds like the Gowanus Dredgers have a pretty full calendar for October - I'm just going to take a couple of excerpts from an email they sent. This weekend's fun -

October 6 and 7, Saturday and Sunday (2:00pm-6:00pm)
Gowanus Open House NY
Explore the Gowanus estuary, canoeing at your own pace and enjoy
discovering the canal's unique mix of wildlife and urban waterway
infrastructure. Meet at the 2nd St. launch site, off Bond Street at
the Gowanus Canal. For details, visit:

October 6, Saturday (1:00pm-9:00pm)
Party for the People on Gowanus Shoreline
The Yard at Carroll / Canal will assemble multiple community
organizations and feature performers of poetry and music with fun for
the entire family. For details, call 917.623-4388

They've also got an interesting film screening coming up next Thursday, October 11th, and then you've got another chance on 10/29 - full details here.
BTW - unpaid commercial plug alert! - if your tastes run a little more to Champagne and classic vessels, I do have to mention that my old place of employment, Classic Harbor Lines, continues to offer motor yacht & schooner trips through the fall. Boy, will I ever miss that end of season delivery trip. Sigh. I'm so glad I got a few of those Albany to NYC runs under my belt - they were always just grand...oh, but what I was saying was that there are still a few weeks left in their season, and fall can just be the best time for sailing on NY Harbor. Good wind, warm light, and they've always got blankets & cider if you get chilled. Visit their website for more info!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A-keep away from-a...

Tugster's Names 4 post just made me want to post this picture of a name I liked at the Davis Park Marina on Fire Island. I like a motorboat name that says the owner has a good sense of humor.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Around LI In 5 Years If It Kills Us, Leg 1, Day 3 gallery DONE!

Racing for the beach!

Bit of a rush job as it's monthly close at work & I've been working some long days, but I posted pictures from Day 3 on Monday night, captioned & located most of them last night, and used my lunch hour today to finish off the few remaining captions.

I did actually just combine days 2 & 3 as I took half as many pictures those days - there was just a lot more variation in scenery on the first day, out of J-bay, around Breezy Point, along the Atlantic, in through the East Rockaway Inlet and finishing at Paddy's - dramatic changes in environment from urban to open just made for fun picturetaking. And then of course there was that unbelievably gorgeous sunrise...

Anyways, lunchtime's over, time to stop reminiscing - but what a wonderful 3 days. Thanks again, everyone who made it happen.

This should take you to the morning of Day 3.

Cross-posted at the Sebago Canoe Club blog.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mishap for Monday.

Go. Watch. Laugh.

I feel a little bad about laughing but they ARE driving a cigarette boat.