Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

OK, didn't have a pumpkin, but at least my stand-in's home-grown!

A Halloween stop-motion quickie. Or at least it would have been if it hadn't been for the music! I haven't had time to do one of these in ages (plus the origami bunny dance was a tough act to follow), and I hadn't planned to do one for Halloween until I was looking at the last pickin's from the garden and had an idea that I thought I could probably slap together fast.

Video took an hour, start to finish. Can't believe how long I ended up wrestling with getting the music to upload along with the video, though! Well, hopefully next time I do one of these I remember last night's fight and the incredibly simple step I was leaving out that finally made it work! :D

ps - would anyone be horrified if I mentioned that I ate my star at the end of the shoot?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Fun - A Staycation Triptych: A Haircut, Two Markets, and One Last Summer Dinner

Part 1: A Haircut.

How much did I give? I gave right up to here!

This much! That's Alex, the very nice young stylist who cut my hair this afternoon, with what used to be MY ponytail. Now it belongs to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program, who will take my donation and a few others, trim them, dye them to match and make a wig for some woman out there who's lost her hair while fighting cancer.
I never in a million years would've imagined that I would find myself making a salon recommendation on this blog, but if you live in the NYC area, and you've ever considered a hair donation like this, and you want to just have somebody else take care of everything for you, give the Mark Garrison Salon a call. If you meet the donation requirements, they cut donors' hair for free on Wednesdays, and for half-price on other weekdays (I went for the half-price because I really wanted to get it done this week & you need to book a few weeks in advance for the free ones). They were also running a raffle for the Susan G. Koman Foundation, and pink ribbons were very much in evidence - I don't know if the owner of the salon has some personal history, but there seems to be a real company commitment to this cause, everyone there was very welcoming & enthusiastic about what I was there for.
I will definitely go back to them again if I haven't passed the 5% gray mark by the time I've grown enough to give again.
Part 2: Two Markets

So today's plan was to get all of my Manhattan errands done. The first was the hair donation, of course. The third was to pick up a few more Hawaiian goodies from my friends Steve & Camilla, who have cut out gluten this summer and really dedicated themselves to eating organic foods, locally grown as much as possible. I've been the lucky recipient of a number of items that didn't make the cut - today it was fishcake, Portuguese sausage and almost 3 pounds of haupia (coconut pudding) mix. Yum!

Between those, I met my friend Mandy for a trip to a couple of our fantastic local food markets. She's the one who took the pictures above, I asked her to do that right after we met & a lot of giggling ensued on both sides but she did get some nice pix.

We then wandered on into the Union Square Farmer's Market.

Autumn splendor...

Fall blooms all a-glow -

Friendly witches selling magical gems er I mean jams -

A vendor comforts one of his pumpkins - "There there little pumpkin, Halloween isn't for 2 more days, someone out there is looking for you right now!"

And SCRAPPLE!!!! YAAAAY!!!! Guess what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow? :D

Note to self: Next time you go to the farmer's market with Mandy - suggest having lunch FIRST.

Weighed down by many, many purchases, we then jumped on a bus over to the Chelsea Market, which Mandy had seen featured on the Food Network. We had crepes for lunch (delicious, although if I'd seen the Aussie-style meat pies in the "Tuck Shop" booth around the corner first I definitely would've had one of those instead, cor blimey they looked scrumptious), and thus fortified against all but the most powerfully impulsive of impulse buys, we then proceeded to see what there was to see.

A couple of highlights there:

One completely amazing pumpkin carver carving one completely amazing pumpkin.

Some unbelievable cakes:


OMG! Yes!

I got myself some. Almost got Mandy to get some too, until I noticed the frozen frog legs, which she loves. They came in little individually-bagged pairs and when her hands got to be full she put some in my hands too. We had the staff cracking up as we rushed towards them with our hands filled with precarious piles of frozen frog legs. One of them whipped out a bag for us to pour them into; we made our purchases & that was the end of our very pleasant visit to the markets.

I went up to Steve & Camilla's, collected da "grindz", heard a couple of stories & looked at some of their pictures from today's Occupy Wall Street bank march, and then headed home to make myself some dinner.
Part 3: One Last Summer Dinner.

So...did you hear it's likely to snow here in the Northeast? TOMORROW?

Tonight's dinner ended up being consciously in honor of the turn of the season.


For "Baydog" and Steve the Paddling Chef, the two friends who introduced me to (in concept if not in person), the Northern Puffer, those delicious (and completely non-toxic) little cousins of the more famous Japanese fugu have powerful associations with summers past. Baydog alludes to their seasonality and Steve told me that when he was younger, they used to catch buckets of "sea squab" when they would visit his uncle in the Peconic Bay area in the summertime.

At Union Square, I'd also bought what I suspect is some of the last corn that will be offered in the market this year. It was small and undergrown, the sort you'd throw back in the bin without a second thought in August, but the kernels that were grown were as sweet and good as you'd want.

The cherry tomatoes? Probably the last ripe ones I'll get from my garden this year - it wasn't a good year for tomatoes but they did start coming through nicely in mid-September.

It was a simple meal to prepare. The tomatoes just needed rinsing. The corn, I boiled. The blowfish, I dredged in seasoned flour & then fried them up quickly in olive oil. "Eat them like drumsticks", said the sign - perfect description.

That was my culinary farewell to summer.

The onset of fall?

Acknowledged in the beer. Sixpoint Autumnation.

A delicious dinner it was, if I may say so myself.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Boy, I Haven't Tormented O-Docker All Summer, Have I?

Well, you know, pride goeth before a fall and all that -- after all of my horticultural nose-thumbing of the last couple of years at poor O-Docker, who resides in an area which is apparently less conducive to basil than my own Brooklyn abode, karma finally boomeranged properly - it just was a sort of dissappointing year for my basil crop. It was my own fault entirely, in the past I had planted seeds early & then gotten impatient & added seedlings, and then I always had the feeling that it was the seedlings that ended up producing most. So this year, I just did seedlings - turned out that the seeds HAD been coming up & contributing after all, and going the seedlings-only route, I dunno, it just looked sparse all summer.

I mean, look, isn't that just pathetic? Hardly enough to bother with.

I did go ahead & pick it today - it's the end of the season now, it's not going to miraculously get to the lushness of last year's crop.

Next year, I'll go back to starting with seeds, and supplementing with seedlings as necessary.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Mane Event (oooh...sorry, I just HAD to!)

Sorry about the pun, I'm just in too cheerful a mood right now resist. I'm lined up to meet one of my major staycation goals. 10 am Friday, I donate the mane. Hope it's not too weatherbeaten to be of use.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to the races!

Don't worry, I don't narrate the whole thing!

A little light-air "action" at Race 5 of the 6-race Fall Dinghy. The race committee had deliberately set a very short course and we were doing very short races on that very short course, mostly simple 3-leg windward-leeward-windward things. However, despite all of that, one of those races took us a full half-hour 'cause the wind just died almost completely and I think that it was during that race that I got a little silly with the camera & started not just taking pictures (which I'd figured I could do with the forecast calling for winds of 5 kts or less), but videotaping. Of course then once the wind picked up I felt duty-bound to get a little of the better action, too, and then I think the last race I put the camera away & focused on sailing.

For all I'm making a little fun of conditions here, I was actually glad I went - it was actually a lot more interesting than I ever imagined trying to figure out how to get the boat to go in such light air. Like, I figured out pretty fast that the standard seating arrangement where you sit on one side of the cockpit and the boom sticks out over the other side wasn't going to work because the wind wasn't strong enough to beat out gravity and the sail would just flop over to the side you were sitting on. I ended sailing most of the races kneeling or crouching in the cockpit (and boy are my legs sore today). The wind was also ridiculously shifty, "W-L-W" was a purely theoretical conjecture, one single leg could be w-l-w-l-w-l-w with the shifts only detectable through a lazy spin of your wind indicator, which you had to watch like a hawk. Our poor race committee carefully set up the course based on their observations only to watch it go all to heck on the first leg of the first race (we were all able to sail pretty much straight to the windward mark); they attempted a reset for Race 2 & then after that they just gave up 'cause there just wasn't any point, the wind was just all over the place all afternoon.

There was a Flying Fickle Finger of Fate effect that was definitely in play, really funny to watch - you'd have everybody basically drifting and then suddenly, with no apparent commotion of the water to give away where it was coming from, an errant microzephyr would suddenly start one boat gently into motion while the rest continued. There was one point (not recorded because I was actually paying attention to my sailing at that moment) when there was a group of 3 sunfish driftng together - Oscar, me, and Chris, in that order. Suddenly Chris started moving. Passed me & a minute later I started moving too. Oscar said "Hey!" as I sailed past him chasing Chris & I said "Oh, this'll get to you in a minute", but it never did. Weird stuff!

Anyways, it was all much more interesting than I'd expected, albeit with a few moments where we were all laughing at the moments of complete stillness - and I'm glad to report that the end result of the day was that this was my best day of dinghy racing yet - of course it's not too hard to raise the bar when it was lying on the ground in the first place, but I was SO terrible last year, I couldn't watch the better sailors to see what they were doing because they would be at the far end of the course. All I wanted out of this year's racing was to at least be more or less up with the pack. Well, we had a fleet of 5 sunfish and I came in 3rd overall oops, make that 4th...misread the the end of the day. There may be hope for me yet!

Looking forward to next Sunday - will be interesting to see what the Wind Gods send, the series this year has tended towards extremes - this weekend was no wind, weekend before was gusts to 25. I'd love to see if my "improvement" holds up in a LITTLE more wind, will be keeping my fingers crossed for good conditions.

And yes, of COURSE I took some pictures.
Start of the day - Race Committee drops off a tow. It's something of a point of pride among the Sebago sailors that we like to get ourselves under the bridge, but on a day where it's going to take up racing time, the RC boat was offering tows & most of us were taking them, just in the interest of getting going. We actually got in 6 races, but if the wind hadn't picked up as nicely as it did halfway through Race 5, that probably would've been it.

Kaki sailing Lark. I am a total sucker for the blue-sky-with-peppermint-sail shot.

Downwind leg, in theory if not in actuality.

Upwind leg, again, at least that was what it was supposed to be although the sails would say otherwise, right? Kaki & Oscar finishing.

Gorgeous day to be on the race committee - especially once they gave up on worrying about the course and those theoretical concepts of "upwind" and "downwind" & just settled down to enjoy the day. And our Principal Race Officer made us scones!

OK, so still not quite midfleet - when you have a fleet of 5 I think "midfleet" is 3rd place. But I was definitely not whimpering in everyone else's dust like I was last year (and I might even have done better if I hadn't distracted myself with trying to tape).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Doodly doodly doo


Doodle doodle doo. My friend Luseana Siren was on Facebook saying that she can release her inner witch for the next two weeks. Merwitch? Sorceressiren? Whatever, it made me want to bust out the art supplies. I got home too late to muck around with paint but pen and colored pencils don't take too long.

Originally was thinking more pointy-hat I'll-get-you-my-pretty-and-your-little-dog-too type witch but ended up going more with the gathering-herbs-for-a-spell variety.

Sorry been a little scarce on the blogging front lately, things have been a bit crazy at work. Next up as soon as I get a free evening -- Leg 5 of the Five Years Around Long Island trip report! I actually hope to do that tonight or tomorrow, because weather permitting, we're doing the official Last Piece (Red Hook back to Canarsie, where we started out 5 years ago) on Saturday. Woohoo! I did do the Picking Off That Darned Ten Miles trip report, but somehow I would really like to have the 3-day report up here before I do the Last Piece report. Boy - was that 3-day trip really over a month ago??? How did that happen?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"My Reach", by Susan Fox Rogers -- Reading in Beacon, Sunday 10/16

Anyone going to be in the Beacon, NY area this Sunday? Here's an event you might enjoy -- Susan Fox Rogers, author of My Reach: A Hudson River Memoir will be the featured author for the October 16th edition of the Beacon Institute's Sunday Author Series.

Click here for all details.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

That's A Wrap!

I'm home from the Boat Parade (very nice, I am definitely sad I didn't take my camera) just early enough to give you my wrap-up of the wrap-up of the epic Five Years Around Long Island expedition for me and John H.

As I'd mentioned, it was a bit crazy doing this as a day trip - but we just couldn't resist it with the forecast we were seeing. We figured that if we thought things through and stayed on schedule, it would work. And my goodness, did it ever. The trip could not have run more smoothly if it had been planned by Swiss railway officials!

The key to a one-way trip like this is a shuttle. Whitewater paddlers do it all the time; for those who aren't paddlers, the way this usually works is that you do the trip with at least 2 cars. In the simplest variety, with 2 paddlers & 2 boats, you have both boats on one car; you drop off the other car at the takeout, then both get in the car with the boats and drive to the put in. You leave that car there, do your paddle, put the boats on the car you left at the take-out, drive back to the put-in for the other car & then head for home. Add a few more boats and it gets to be more like that riddle about the guy crossing the river with a fox, a goose and a bag of corn, but it all works.

However, when there's only one car, you have to get a little creative. Fortunately, this had happened to John H. & John W. when they did one of those catch-up legs earlier this year. They do both have cars, but it turned out that Mrs. W. needed their car. John H. isn't sure who came up with the answer to this problem, but they are both avid bikers and of course that was the answer.

Bike shuttle!

That did mean that we needed to make sure we could get 2 boats and the bike on the car - like so:

Since we hadn't done this before, and since we were borrowing a pair of J-hook cradles from TQ (who couldn't come because he decided he needed the time for studying for a course he's working on), we decided to go do a test load the night before. That was actually when the freakish smoothness of the trip started - I told John I'd be at his place at 7, and I was ringing his doorbell precisely at 7 (usually with a public-transportation-reliant NYC residents, ETA's are more of a window than a time). We went, we loaded, everything JUST fit, we unloaded the boats & the bike, John locked the cradles to the rack (he'd had a pair of J-hooks stolen off his car before) and he dropped me off at home at a much more reasonable hour than I'd thought.

The next morning, the plan was that he'd pick me up at 8, we'd get to the club at 8:30, load up and be on the road by 9. The only thing that went slightly awry with the morning? Well, he called 5 minutes before I was expecting him to and in my moderate rush to throw a few last items in my bag, I lost track of my breakfast preparation and my soft-boiled eggs got to be more like medium-boiled eggs. OH NOES!

And that was the worst lapse in timing of the entire day. We'd planned to leave the club by 9:30 and be on the water by 1.

9:15 am - John measures the height of the bike to avoid parkway tunnel disasters:

We pretty much nailed both times. The drive out was almost completely traffic free. We made one stop at a gas station that John knew to be one of the last public restroom options (he used to live out there - it was actually a lot of fun doing the trip with him because it wasn't just a paddle, it was a trip down memory lane, plus he's got highly useful local knowledge like when you need a permit, where you just aren't allowed to go unless you're a resident, and, yep, the last restroom that doesn't require sitting down to a twenty-dollar meal to use).

First stop after that - a quick scout of Georgica Beach, just to make sure it was open.

Yes! And about as flat as you'll ever see an exposed Atlantic coast, too. Wow. We started making fun of the waves - "ooooh, that look so scary, are you sure this is a good idea? oh my gooooosh, I forgot my helmet".

Note to self: never make fun of waves again. Even little ones. They can hear you. More on that in a minute.

Full of mirth and merriment, we headed on for our takeout. Eastern Boundary, Napeague State Park - exactly where we left off 2 years ago.

John locked the bike to a phone pole & we headed back for Georgica Beach.

Ready to go!

Deck compass is a new toy...amazing how a $30.00 lunchtime shopping trip to Eastern Mountain Supply turns into a $100+ trip - I always carry an orienteering compass in case of fog, but this would've been really helpful for the Ederle swim. I didn't think I was likely to need it today but you know how when you buy something, you just want to use it?

Here I am launching. 1 PM almost on the button!

Bonnie Launching In The Surf from John Huntington on Vimeo.

What am I saying to John? Oh, something about "Tell me you weren't taping that entire debacle!" should respect even little teeny one-foot waves. First we were laughing at them, then I thought I could skip the turtle-walk business & just walk into the water & jump in my boat. I was wrong, I hadn't even started getting in when somehow one of these little waves had grabbed my boat, spun it, filled up the cockpit with water and sand and deposited it back on shore. John was merciful enough not to have the camera rolling as I drained the water & shoveled out as much of the sand as I could. 2nd attempt, I got in the boat, put on the sprayskirt & did the correct turtle-walk into the water. The waves were much more pleased with that & let me through, no problem.

And that was pretty much the last technical difficulty I had all day - from that point on, it was just glorious paddling.

For the first few miles, we were passing these huge mansions. This was one of the reasons we pulled out 2 years ago - not much public access along here (unless you have a 4WD vehicle and a permit to drive it on the beach - that much, they do give to the non-oceanfront-manor-owning residents)

This is a little out of focus, but there are some geese flying south as we paddled north, and also one of the windmills that are scattered all over out here on the South Fork -

There were also some lovely un-built-up sections, including the 2 miles of the Napeague State Park -

It was a little windier and the waves gradually got to be a bit bigger than the forecasted 1 - 1.5 feet

- this actually worked in our favor, though, the wind was in JUST the right direction to aid and abet our efforts. John carries a GPS and we were doing over 1 knot when we were actually stopped to take pictures or something, 4 to 5 kts when paddling (and we weren't really paddling too hard).

(a minute later I got one of my longest rides of the day, of course!)

We'd originally planned to break for lunch on the beach, but with John having a couple of other sightseeing-type things he wanted to do, I suggested that with the speed we were making, we might as well just charge on 'til the end. We did raft up for a little snack (I'd forgotten that John was going to need to do this again, on a bike, but he knew he needed to eat to avoid the dreaded "Bonk") but again, the wind & waves pushed us on in the right direction even as we noshed.

Two and a half hours after setting out, we landed at the eastern boundary of Napeague - and this time it was John's turn to have those little waves take advantage of a moment's inattention. Funny how those little ones can sneak up on you. Sometimes it's easiest to just go along with it & fall out.

And that was it! We were through! Hooray!

We got some nice folks who were on the beach to take our pictures -

I took John's -

He took mine (yeah, easy for me to have the big smile, I'm not the one who now has a 10-mile bike ride to do!)-

And then it was time for John to change & do the second leg of his mini-biathalon.

Bye John!

He left at 4 pm sharp. He said he'd probably be back by 5:15. I said if he wasn't back by 6 I would call 911.

I took a few more pictures -

Then changed into the dry clothes I'd brought, hung up my wet stuff -

and then got my boat reorganized for loading (with as much of the rest of the sand out of the cockpit as I could manage).

In keeping with the rest of our very on-time day, John reappeared quite precisely at 5:15, just as I was stowing my last few items for the road.

The moon was rising -

and the shadows were getting long -

as we said goodbye (for now) -

to Napeague.

Boats loaded -

we headed off for the overlook that John recalled -

as having the best sunset view on the South Fork (true) -

Then back to Lobster Roll for dinner and a bit of a visit with an old friend of John's. She tempted us with an offer of hot showers, but we passed in favor of hitting the road - I think we were both afraid that if we took showers, we'd fall asleep on the way home!

We hit the road, traffic was good, and a couple of hours later we'd dropped the boats off at the club & John dropped me off at home.

I was so tired, I didn't even make it into the shower - just let my salt-encrusted self fall into bed and straight to sleep!

As I mentioned yesterday, there's still the Red Hook back to Sebago leg to do, currently planned for the 22nd. John can't make it, but I'm looking forward to it - however, John and I have both done that leg at other times, so this great 10-mile paddle represents the end of our circumnavigations.

All in all, we just couldn't have asked for a nicer end to our 5 Years Around Long Island. Thanks, John H., for being crazy enough to go along with doing this as a day trip when conditions looked so good.

Thanks, Steve H. and George S. for coming up with this crazy idea in the first place, inviting me along, and making it happen, thanks John W., Linda P. & Cody P. for doing the crucial job of Ground Support (we all know we couldn't have done this without you!), and thanks to the rest of the gang for some great times on the water. It's been great!