Sunday, December 30, 2007

Jetskis of the Purple Sage

Very interesting article about the issue of access to public lands for ATV's & other recreational users out West in the New York Times today.

Fascinating parallels between the situations described there & the ones we end up with regarding access for various types of recreational craft on New York City's waterways.

This could be my last post for 2007 - TQ's coming down from CT tonight, we've got a date to paddle out the old tomorrow (with snow in the AM forecast, I don't know if that's a hot date or a cold one!), & then we'll paddle in the new with the rest of the Sebago crew at the Tuesday Frostbite Regatta.

I've made a big batch of my mom's famous pecans for the potluck. Looking forward to the day!

Anyone else greeting the New Year by getting out on the water?

That's all for now. Here's my best wishes to everyone for a very healthy & happy New Year!

See you in 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Rubbing Coffee In the Wounds

Last work day of 2007.


I don't wanna go to work!

You know what I'd RATHER do, right?

Thanks, Starbucks. Rub it in, there!

Ah, well. Things to do, people to see. Hi ho, hi ho...

I just can't remember the last time I walked out my front door into such a perfect December paddling morning. Lovely, wasn't it? If ever there was a morning that cried out for hooky to be played...

Too bad I did have stuff to do. Holiday weeks are such great chances to get actual work done.

Wednesday's Headline News: Kayak Gang Invades Howard Beach (or, Getting Back to the Usual Stuff)

Have You Seen These Kayakers?

Last seen pillaging the pasta & pizza of Gino's Pizza in Howard Beach, the paddlers should be considered stuffed and extremely somnolent.

Yes, the hoped-for Pasta Paddle mentioned in the last trip report (Ruffle Bar) went off very very nicely! We had a group of 7, a great turnout this time of year, made for a fun day. The 10:30 on a nearly full-moon day with a 3:30 low water did mean, as I'd posted in the Yahoo invitation, a good appetite-building workout on the way there; we still had a pretty rockin' ebb for the ride back, which was good since some of us were totally stuffed.

The day started with the sun peeking out in a little blue sky - but that foolishness was shortlived. Still a good day out of the water (and in the restaurant, and around the nice warm woodstove chatting over the pros & cons of canoes & other random topics afterwards).

So nice when it's just us and the brants.

Finding Nemo was the sole dark moment. Or should I say, a clownfish dark moment?

cross posted at the Sebago Canoe Club blog

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Year's Wish

Sorry, but the news today is so depressing - just have to pause in my usual cheerful prattle to say how crushed I was to see the news about Benazir Bhutto today.

Sad sad news here at the end of the year.

She may not have been perfect, but how brave she was to go home & keep campaigning despite the risks. How very, very sad for Pakistan, for the Middle East, and for the world that for the umptyzillionth time that an outcome has been forced upon people by violence, instead of their being allowed to choose it by more peaceful means.

Call it a wish or a prayer or a shmoglovobobiwicz, call it whatever you want, but God, wouldn't it be wonderful if someday Homo sapiens could evolve to the point where "let's kill them" stopped being such a statistically probable human reaction when one group or individual finds themselves intellectually, morally, culturally or otherwise opposed to another?

Hope you don't mind this break in the usual Frogma fare. Can't quite bring myself to not say something.

Here's wishing for a more peaceful 2008.

As long as I'm being gloomy -

One belated Festivus grievance.

Just wanted to send out a big razzberry to the people who've sort of spoiled the 1000 Days at Sea blog as a blog. The ability to comment & read others comments is such a big part of the fun of blogging - but it gets so difficult to maintain when even a small group of detractors declares themselves judge & jury alike, condemns a blog/blogger, then proceeds to abuse the comment privilege (and it is a privilege, otherwise Blogger would not come with the on/moderated/off choices, user bans, or the "delete" feature) by inundating the comments of the condemned blog with their verdict.

Reid & Soanya can be a bit out there (like, I sort of expect NASA has already considered the dental-hygiene aspects of long-term space flight), and I do worry when I read about an incident like the freighter collision, or more lately the sail repairs - but it's their business, I can't see that they have caused any particular harm any of the most vehement detractors, and a lot of people (myself included) have enjoyed following their unlikely expedition.

If people want to trash 'em in some forum, fine. That's the god-given right of forums. Since the invention of this Interwebs series of tubes, has there been an expedition that didn't get trashed by somebody on some forum at some point? Expeditions involve big dreams. Sometimes toes get stepped on & the step-ee yowls. Sometimes people just go all Japanese-proverbial on those insufferable sticking-up nail types. Forums are a pretty normal place for that sort of stuff. Ditto spoof blogs. But for pete's sake, when you set out to drive a blogmaster nuts, and succeed to the point where you basically force one blogmaster into "retirement", then force the next one to cut off all communications for the (probably much larger) group of people who were following the voyage with less hostility by simply drowning the comments in rhetoric -

Well, that just kind of sucks.

I watched Reid try to make this happen for a long time, beginning with the year the kayak company I was once a partner in moved to Pier 63, where Reid was one of the cast of characters that made the place something special. I never got directly involved - between the kayaks and the schooner Adirondack, my working in/messing-around-in-boats time was all spoken for - but I just saw anything but an artist with an out-there dream who never stopped working to try to make it happen.

I don't know what happened outside of New York to make a few people hate the guy so much - but he wouldn't have even set sail last April without the trust & support of an awful lot of people in the New York waterfront community.

The funny thing is that, as I mentioned in a comment on a recent Proper Course post - now that he & Soanya ARE out there - and very close to a quarter of the way done, despite setbacks - is that for all the hours and hours and weeks and months of time - NONE of what ANY of us are saying here on land is gonna make any difference.

Either they break the non-stop sailing record, or they don't.

And neither a sailing forum thread or bloggers (favorable or un) are going to be the ones who authenticate their evidence.

Now I wonder if this time I've pointlessly wasted in their defense will garner any time wasted in trashing them in my comments. We'll see.

OK. Got that off my chest. Postdating this so that my other post stays on top - in the big scheme of things, this is so small beside today's news.

I'll try to cheer up tomorrow. Maybe I'll see if I can talk anybody into paddling this weekend. That usually works.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I Found Nemo...

and I'm so, so sorry. It didn't look good.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sebago Solstice Paddle - Saturday, 12/22/07

Friday night, it being the holidays, I had to make a quick trip to this tower in search of a couple of gifts (plus just seeing the tree & all).

Saturday found me in the vicinity of a less imposing tower - but still a nice view -

and the crowds were a lot more manageable!

Stevie & Minh & I celebrated Solstice, the shortest day of the year, with an unusually short (for a weekend) paddle - just a circumnavigation of Ruffle Bar.

And look, we found a tiny Stonehenge. Too bad there was no sun!

No, no, that's not really a small observatory. However Ruffle Bar is an interesting destination for those who enjoy a little amateur archaeology (aka "checking out junk on the beach") -

Back before the Bay became a wildlife preserve, there were squatter's shacks, probably rather nice ones like the ones that still exist in Hempstead Bay, on many of the little islands. According to Stevie and others at the club, Ruffle Bar had also been the site of a tavern for many years. Lots of interesting bits & pieces to find -

although you do want to watch your step.

We didn't beachcomb for too long as the wind was rather biting & it was more comfortable to be buttoned into a boat & paddling. The only "artifact" we collected this time was a large slab of stone that Minh took on as ballast - his boat was weathercocking a bit on the way out. He figured a little weight in the rear would help matters. Off we went. We found a much more recent relic on the way back...

Of course we had to do solstice rolls...there's Stevie...

and there I go..
Brrr! We haven't had any serious cold snaps yet, but the water seems to be cooling a lot faster than it did last year. The Coney Island Polar Bear may be more exciting this year than it was last year - not that it's ever boring, but the water feels a lot winterier than it did this time last year. Stevie backed me up on this, he thought so too.

Rolling silliness done, we hustled back past the daymark - have the cormorants budged?

We made good time getting back. Stevie ran up to light the fire I'd left laid in the stove - we've taken to doing that, setting up the stove so there's no need to mess around doing that if you get back really cold, just throw a match in the fire you built carefully at the start of the day when you were nice & warm. Minh & I stayed down on the dock, unloading our boats. He opened his rear hatch, took out the rock he'd put in as ballast - and started laughing. Turned out that rock had some hitchhikers!

He caught & released as many as he could. They tried to pinch him but when you're a half-inch across, your pinch just doesn't pack a lot of punch!

Wildlife returned to the wild, boats put away, it felt so good to go warm up by the stove.

And when Stevie suggested we round out the day with some good Jamaican food, nobody turned him down. Unfortunately we lost Minh en route & his cellphone was on vibrate so he missed dinner. Stevie & I stood on the corner watching hopefully for a while, then decided to go on in. Boy did the goat curry at Nicky's Jamaican Restaurant taste good. I may vote to add that to the occasional non-meal trip. HIGHLY warming! Nicky's quite a bit bolder with the peppers in her curry than I am when I make mine. Good stuff though.

Weather permitting, I'm hoping to squeeze One Last Paddle into 2007. Howard Beach, Italian food, and TQ gets to come this time - we haven't paddled together in ages, so that'll be a great way to wrap up the paddling year. So far it's looking pretty good for Wednesday boating!

cross-posted at the Sebago Canoe Club blog

Rockefeller Center, December 2007

Made my usual yearly foray to Rockefeller Center after work on Friday night.

For all the misgivings I have about the relentlessness of the holiday season as it is currently celebrated in this country -- I still enjoy the little internal "Oooooh" I always get when I walk around the corner.

There's way too many people for my taste, and I keep the visit pretty short, but it sure is pretty.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Frogma Scrooge Award

I don't know if this will become an annual thing - probably not, my attention span as a blogger just isn't that long -


For the first and possibly only Frogma Scrooge Award for Advertising Slogans That Totally Don't Work -

I would like to nominate whatever diamond company purchased the entire length of a corridor in the nethermost regions of Grand Central Station. Most of the series was pretty standard-issue for the target audience (well-to-do commuters from suburban Connecticut).

However, there was one poster that I did notice & can't resist mentioning.

It depicted some sparkly gewgaw, with the caption:

"Suddenly, she thinks you're funny again".

Now does anyone else find that to be a rather disturbing sales pitch?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Solstice - and Pool Sessions PSA Time

HOORAY! It's SOLSTICE! Now the days start getting longer again! HIP HIP HOORAY!

Now that means winter, and it's getting kind of cold outside, only mad people (like me) want to fall in the water outside now, so sure as the swallows return to to Capistrano, the kayakers are returning to...

messing about in boats in pools! This is one way in which a kayak is a great little boat - when it gets too cold for you outside (and of course "too cold" varies from person to person, and for any individual person the threshold drops with experience), you just take you little boat indoors & yay, time to play!

I've gotten announcements about a couple in the area -

The Appalachian Mountain Club will be offering pool time (byo boat) as usual at the Greenwich YWCA - they also have a lesson option - details here!

The Small Boat Shop will be offering their usual winter pool options, classes in Fundamentals and Rolling, this year in New Haven - they also have practice time slots with SBS equipment available at a reasonable rate during the rolling classes - check out for details...

More silliness from last year in Greenwich - remember the Fishing Pole Roll?

If you can make it a little further north, Cheri & Turner of Kayakways will be teaching in Wallingford - they co-host these with Connyak & so there are both instruction (with great instructors & fit-like-a-glove Greenland boats) or pool time only (BYO boat) options.

Been hearing rumours about others but that's all the solid info I've got at the moment, plus I'm running out of lunch hour & have to get back to work -

one more pool silliness video - remember, always let the lifeguard know before you do your hang time practice -

and make sure your friends are out of the way before you go crazy with the storm rolls!

yep, pool sessions are FUN!

BTW I knew solstice was in here somewhere but I found out for sure today on Proper Course. Tillerman offers an interesting short essay on solstice celebrations past & present. Ale drinking is mentioned. I'm down with that. I'm just happy the days start getting longer now - boy, the first day I was in Texas wasn't a very pretty one, sort of gray & overcast, but it made me rather ludicrously pleased when I discovered that in Texas, there's still a little daylight at 5:30. I hate it when I manage to escape work at a decent hour & it's pitch black outside.

Although the long days in the summer do make up for it some.

Houston Butterflies


Adele said she wants to see a picture of me decked out for the wedding...

I sort of didn't get any pictures of me. I did actually appear in a dress, but it wasn't really a decked-out sort of dress, just a basic navy blue with a small ivory print. Tasteful, suitable for office wear (at least back in my former business lives when I actually wore the suits that are now just gathering dust & moth-holes in the closet), or an afternoon wedding. Didn't even think of getting anybody to take my picture!

How about some nice butterflies instead?

These butterflies all live in an absolutely amazing permanent exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural History. More on another day!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Terrific Trip to TX.

Yes, t'was Texas!

Yesterday's sleepy horse has actually been introduced on this blog before, but she's worth reintroducing. Her name is Cindy, and she's part of my Texas aunt & uncle's sweet-tempered menagerie. Here's a prettier picture of her.

She is totally allowed to be sleepy. She is 31 years old and in her time she was a competitive trail horse - my uncle won a couple of awards riding her. She's also been the friendly introduction to riding for probably most of my second cousins down there (including the one whose wedding I went down for). She's retired from competition although she still gets ridden gently around the property - although not recently as she hurt a leg & was a little lame for a while.

She does appear to be healing though. Especially at dinnertime!

The longhorn belonged to the father of a neighbor down the road, who is taking care of his father's small herd while his father builds a barn even further down the road. Here are a few more occupants of the same pasture -

and 2 more, plus my aunt & uncle's dog Jack, reprising his role as "Dog" in "Dog & Pony Show The Sequel - What A Lovely Pair of Paints!"

Missed the original "Dog & Pony Show"? Check it out here!

Always a pleasure visiting my aunt & uncle & their equine/feline/canine crew.

Sorry I didn't get a picture of the llama down the lane!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm baaaack!

Hello, I'm back!

But kinda sleepy...

So I'm just going to say hello, and ask if anyone cares to guess where I've been for the last week?

Here's a hint!

Monday, December 17, 2007



I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Western Storms - winners & not so lucky. And whales.

Well, it seems there's ONE set of people who enjoyed last week's Western storms. As I've mentioned before, it's the jetskiers who do this sort of stuff that make me totally unable hate jetskis even though as a kayaker I'm supposed to - yes, I know there's the anti-jetski language in the blood oath you take when you become a paddler but -- shhh, don't tell! -- I kept my fingers crossed behind my back for that part!

Still don't want 'em mucking up Jamaica Bay but the surfing safety crews are pretty amazing to watch in their own right, even though the surfers are the stars.

One of these days maybe I will get to hear the sound track - current circumstances happen to be that none of the computers in my life make noise. I know, it's weird, I just don't use 'em that way much...

Thanks Mr. SeaLevel!

Funny thing was with all the West Coast storm news I hadn't heard about the terrible weather in Hawaii. My folks came out fine although one of their neighbors lost their old BMW when a tree fell on it. Fortunately it was junky old, not cool old. But still, that has to be a drag to walk out of your house to go to work in the morning and...

There was a hiker from Michigan lost in the blizzard on Mauna Kea - don't think they've found him yet. How awful to go to Hawaii for a vacation & be lost in a snowstorm.

OK, sorry, that's gloomy. So here, I'll close with a link to a fascinating article about whales. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Water access gets taken to court.

Quickest of lunchtime posts...

For those of us who live in places where providing water access to the public is not something with which the Powers that Be are entirely comfortable, it's awfully frustrating to read something like this.

BTW, this seems like a good time for my twice-a-year plug - if you're thinking of winter boating, and you don't already know the score, PLEASE avail yourself of some of the information that's available about the risks entailed by cold water activities. Chuck Sutherland's cold-water boating site has a great deal of very useful information, you can find plenty more in a google search, or contact your local kayak or canoe club or outfitter for information. For those of us who have atttended cold-water workshops, read the info, etc. - a review never hurts, right?

Off-season boating is a wonderful, wonderful thing - the waterways empty, peace descends, it's beautiful - but it's so important to treat that cold water with the proper respect.

End of lecture. To be repeated in the Spring, when the air starts returning to tempting temperatures.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Scene Seen in Sheepshead Bay (or, A Sad Boat Dreams)

The Peapod's dream: "In my next life, I want to be a Moth..."

Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn
December 8, 2007

More pix from Sheepshead Bay here!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sometimes, a closer look pays off.

You know how sometimes - maybe especially around the holiday season, when there's so much to do - you can get into a head-down, blinkers-on, hurry-hurry-gotta-check-the-next-thing-off-the-list sort of rhythm?

Well, maybe you don't, but I do, especially in the day-to-day work week.

Every morning on my way to work, I pass display cases full of young peoples' art. Every night on the way out (seems like always late as I'm trying to wrap stuff up before I head out of town for a little while next week), I pass the same cases.

So every morning, every evening, and frequently twice at lunchtime, I was seeing this case with the curious dress in it, but not really looking at it.

Yes, I'd glanced. And having grown up on an island in the Pacific, my brain, with that one glance, thought "Neat. It's a dress made like a Maori dancing skirt" --

and having categorized this new thing I was seeing in my comings & goings, went on to Getting Stuff Done.

Eventually, a few nights ago, I looked just a tiny bit harder at the dress as I was on my way out the door.

and then I did the most classic double take I can remember doing in ages.

It's kind of fun, being made to do that by something you've been walking past two to four times every single work day for quite some time.

Walked out of the building laughing at what a good joke the young lady who made it had managed to play on me.

BTW speaking of young folks and culture, I found the Maori dancers on a site I enjoyed browsing - it's a project that paired a number of schools in England and New Zealand. It's pretty old & there are a lot of broken links but I really enjoyed reading the Lytton Schools "What We're Really Like" page. Fun info - sort of reminded me of the kids in the halau that danced at the Bishop Museum when TQ and I went to Hawaii last May.

Enough oddness.

OK, that's enough oddness for THIS blog for one week.

Here is a nice, normal TUGBOAT.

The Bridgeport. Jamaica Bay, September 2007. Tugster Will, if you are reading you will want to look at the full-sized version. Very smart-looking tug.

Another nice, normal TUGBOAT.

The Bulldozer, September 2007, East Norwalk, CT.

And here's a nice, normal JUNK.

No, wait. That's not normal. That's odd. At least in East Norwalk, CT. Maybe in Hong Kong Harbor...

But there's icky odd and there's odd in a nice way...

I'd say the Mon Lei is the latter. Wouldn't you?

Actually I was quite surprised to see the Mon Lei in Connecticut because she used to have a berth near the Intrepid. I'd see her a lot when I was paddling out of Pier 63. Have no idea what the story on the junk is but I was heading for the Ascenscion Beach Club and "Oh, hello again, long time no see!"