Thursday, January 31, 2013

Another something nice to look at, even if the drear has cleared!

Because who am I to fight a good trend?
I have got a bunch of various pictures on my work computer. This is one that I took during an incredible sailing vacation in the BVI's a few years back. It's actually a pretty nice day out today (although it was so windy last night that I had a nightmare that my solidly-built circa-1940's brick apartment building was somehow starting to sway and I was sure it was about to collapse - boy, was I glad to wake up from that one), but it is a pretty busy week at work and gee, for some reason this just caught my eye when I went to save a sales report and accidentally opened the "my pictures" folder.

I think this was in the anchorage off of the Anegada Reef Hotel, and a little bit later we called the hotel on the radio to tell them how many lobsters we would want grilled for dinner. What a trip that was.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cackle cackle!

OK, actually unrelated to Miss 43's latest appearance on Proper Course, but I guess that did put the word "cackle" in my mind.

Wondering now, has anyone else here has ever heard the phrase "Once you've cackled, you have to lay the egg"? I can't find it online, so it can't be a common phrase, but I read it at some unknown point in the past and it lodged in my head. Sort of a folksy way of saying "Don't talk the talk if you can't walk the walk", I guess. I go, cackle cackle, copying my lunch break Facebook status update for all the world to see: packing tin (whistle) today and was planning to go play some tunes at Dempsey's tonight - but shoot, look at tonight's forecast:

A slight chance of showers. Patchy fog. Otherwise, cloudy, with a low around 45. South wind 6 to 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Project get-off-my-lemu has been going nicely (there will be a blog post on this one of these days, haven't got time right now but basically there was a NON-New-Year's IRresolution I'd arrived at last year after admitting to myself that I've become a weekend warrior of the worst and most injury-prone kind) and I'm about 10 miles short of logging 100 self-propelled miles (walking or paddling) in January.

Wasn't going to say anything about this unless I actually pulled it off but boy, I think that I may skip the music and hoof it home tonight instead. Won't quite finish it off but will bring the NONgoal within very easy reach.

Now we see if I actually do walk the walk. I'll post some eggs when I get home if I do.

NOTE LATER -- 12 and a half plus miles later, in fact:

Brawk. Brawk brawk brawk.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Something nice to look at on a wet and dreary day!

Aaaaah, summer!

Just got a "Can I use this?" request from the developer of - seems like an interesting site, looking forward to the unveiling! And boy, it was nice just looking at this picture from Summer 2011 again. Green shore, blue sky, Shorts and sitatops, my oh my! Not as cold this week as it was last week but I thought it would be nice to share this on this gray and rainy day.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

It's A DiFara's Kind Of Day!

Hadn't been to Midwood's own world-famous master of the pizza for a while, but TQ got called in to work today and was supposed to be home at 3 and I thought that between that timing it still being pretty cold, today might be a good day to go get a pie. It was; unfortunately TQ got stuck at work but what's left is awaiting his arrival. Never heard of world famous DiFara's? Here's a nice intro!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ice Yacht News

Baby, it's STILL cold outside, but ever since a truly amazing day trip a couple of years back with Tugster Will, Bowsprite and paddling friend Jeffrey Anzevino, every cold snap has a silver lining - I start watching the website of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club to see if they get to sail. I grew up in Hawai'i and I don't think that I will ever get to the point where I actually like severe cold, but knowing those magnificent old stern steerers and the dedicated (and hardy!) sailors who care for them will be able to get out to play does make me happy.

I've been watching their site all week, and it looks like our cold snap may have done it for them! A lot of the Hudson River fleet is up in Wisconsin for the Northwest Ice Yacht Association's 100th Anniversary Regatta (good luck to the Hudson River contingent and congrats to the NIYA on the big anniversary!) but it looks like the folks who couldn't make that might just be sailing Tivoli Bay on Sunday! I don't think I can swing a trip up there on such short notice but if anyone is looking for something fun to do outside this weekend, I highly recommend a trip to see the iceboats sail.

Keep an eye on the current conditions page at the HRIYC for updates, and if you decide to go, visit the Launch Sites and Directions page of the HRIYC site, and scroll down to:
Hudson River
South Tivoli Bay
Barrytown NY 12507

That gives the location in several ways including a link to a Google map set up with the launch site pinpointed - you can use that to get driving directions, plus an email link to the gentleman who coordinates the Tivoli Bay sails - could be helpful to check in with him for confirmation and details on parking (the spot for visitors is a ways from the bay and you follow a trail down) and such.

And just to give you an idea how much fun and how beautiful this Hudson River iceboating is, here's a little collection of video snippets I took during our day with on Tivoli Bay, which I stitched together and slapped on a little Handel for fun later on (I think it stayed cold for a while so I had some indoor time to fill). Enjoy!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Funny how dependent we get on our 'lectric DOO-hickeys sometimes, isn't it? January's always a busy time at work for me. Cold snap actually came in at an OK time for me, I got all sorts of good outdoor time in over the weekend knowing that the post-work walks I'd been indulging in earlier in the month were going to be curtailed, and this week I'm hunkering down in my cubicle and chugging my way through the January reporting queue. I was here pretty late last night and got a bit silly during a facebook break - somebody had given me a fancy tea sachet when I promised her I'd have a certain set of info done for her by the a.m.

I went to my desk, looked at it, found it strangely pretty, and decided to say something about it on Facebook before I got back to the numbers. Usually I wouldn't say something about something as innocuous as a tea sachet, but I'd posted something unusually political earlier in the day and I felt like it was time to put something a little lighter up, so this was perfect. Into facebook, and type type type, and: "..And now for a complete change of tone: A co-worker just gave me a tea sachet that's so pretty I don't know whether to make tea with it, or just hang it from a shelf as a decoration. It is made out of gauzy white fabric and to my eye the form vaguely resembles a 1960's mod dove design." Aaaah, much better. Right, back to the report --

except oops, a tea-loving friend wants a picture.

"No camera" I said.

"Bah! This is why people have smart phones..." he said.

"Have you seen my phone? My phone cracks people up" I said (true, I can ALWAYS get a laugh when people start showing off their phones - it makes and receive phone calls when I remember to charge it and that's mostly what I wanted).

"But it plays Tetris!" I said (also true, woohoo, go stupidphone go!).

"PS - Tea sachet will be reserved from teacups until proper photographic rendition can be offered up" I said.

And then I turned back to the job at hand and picked up a pen. And that's when it finally hit me -

Wait, wait, what did people do Before Camera?


Not the most brilliantest drawing I've ever done, but it did make me laugh that even being the lifelong compulsive doodler that I am, and looking at such an utterly simple object, while sitting at a desk with paper and pens all right within reach, and a scanning copier just down the hall, it still took a good five minutes for me to realize that there might be a way other than a digital camera to convey an image to my friends -- "Hey, I can just DRAW this thing."

Anybody else ever find themselves so sucked in by these nifty devices that they completely forget that there are still old-fashioned ways to do the same thing?


*A term that I think was dreamed up by the Peconic Puffin on a rather hysterical comment exchange of takeoffs on the name of this blog!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sunny, sandy, surfy, shelly Saturday (plus, Frogma is HOW old?)

Gettin' all artsy-like at Jones Beach. Lots more pictures on Picasa. Oh, and btw, it seems that Frogma is 8. Happy Bloggiversary To Me! Hey, bear with me another year or two and I might even figure out what the heck I'm trying to do with this thing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sealwatching Hike

With a forecast for winds gusting to 32 mph, Sebago's sealwatching paddle turned into a sealwatching hike. We did a loop around the west end of Jones Beach, starting and finishing at the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center - about 5 miles at a nice leisurely pace. It was hard to see the seals in all the chop but there was one definite and two possible sightings, plus all sorts of birds. Lovely day to be BY the water. More pictures tomorrow!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Double Comfort

Left burner: Peking duck soup. Right burner: Green beans, potatoes, onions and kielbasa. My work days are getting long, as they tend to do in January, good time to stock up the freezer with some comfort food to come home to at the end of the day. They had another great guest musician the Dempsey's seisiún on Tuesday night, but I decided to skip it and tend to the cooking -- Sunday's fun, plus a trip to the Peking Duck House on Friday for a consolation dinner for TQ (who couldn't go on Sunday) left me with a refrigerator full of ingredients that I was ready to turn into something good. Or a couple of somethings, as it turned out!

I'm not sure I ever really explained what Sunday's adventure was - the week before, I was just being silly about the jellyfish, Sunday night I was too tired to do anything more than serve up Tillerman's seaweed and the menu, and the week's been a bit hectic. The day's event (as shown on the final menu, the one without the jellyfish, that I posted a picture of on Sunday) was a "Chinatown Shop and Cook", a really fun 2-part event that was put on by one of my favorite local restaurants (there are a few!)The Farm on Adderley. The way it worked was that we all met Tom Kearney, the restaurant's chef, and Stephen, the manager, in Brooklyn's Chinatown (Sunset Park, just to the southwest of Green-Wood Cemetary, where I've gone to watch the parakeets) at 1:00 in the afternoon.

They started out by giving us copies of the evening's menu, and then they walked us around a number of the local markets, with Tom telling us about what we were seeing and what they could be used for as we went around. That lasted over two hours, then we all parted ways for the rest of the afternoon, reconvening that night at restaurant for an absolutely wonderful meal. We walked out with recipes, but even more than just replicating the things we'd had for dinner, the idea was that with this general introduction, we could start thinking of how to use a lot more of the good things you can find in NYC's various Chinatowns in our own cooking.

It was great. I'd jumped at this when I saw it because my office is very close to Manhattan's Chinatown, and I walk through the area all the time. I do shop there but I've never gotten terribly adventurous; I walk in, I look at the unfamiliar items with curiousity, and then I walk out with the same old bok choy and lap cheong I got the time before and the time before that too. With this intro, I think I can start trying some different things. I actually hadn't planned on doing much shopping on Sunday, but as we were in the first market and Tom started talking about how you can use the various preserved vegetables to add good flavors to a soup or a stew, it hit me that I had a nice meaty duck frame in the 'fridge, and I started buying. A jar of bean paste, some Chinese bacon, some dried things -- this is either going to be the best duck soup I've ever made, or completely inedible.

Oh, and how did the other pot on the stove, an easy easy dish of my mom's that I loved when I was a kid, and still do, fit in with Sunday? Well, it does happen that the Chinese bacon found its way into both pots, but the kielbasa was a special bonus find during the break between the tour and the dinner. My friend Gail had joined me and we were going to go watch the parakeets come home to roost in the evening, stopping in whatever stores caught our eyes along the way. One of those was a Polish butcher shop and grocer that had to have been a holdout from earlier days - it was such an interesting anomaly that we had to go in. They had all sorts of Polish delicacies, including a whole case of all sorts of delicious-looking kielbasi. The shopowner didn't speak English too well, but she did her best to tell us about the different kinds, particularly recommending a variety called "domowa", which she said that was the best and her favorite. We were still hemming and hawing, so she made up our minds for us with samples. Sold!

BTW, I did take lots more pictures that day and I'll try to put those up tonight! Note, 9:30 PM - Oops, I won't be putting up my pictures because it would seem that I somehow managed to delete them all. Bummer. I hate that even more than I hate it when the penguins come to my office, and I miss them! However, if you happen to be on Facebook, the folks at the Farm have posted a very nice gallery - Click here to visit.. I knew I wasn't the only person taking pictures. Although drat, I did have a lovely photo of the octopus balls that Gail and I had for an afternoon snack. I'll have to go back for another try!

This has been a lunchtime blogging break. Because the afternoon's project involves a list of Captain Underpants titles and I can't look at those and eat mushroom barley soup at the same time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Have you hugged your horse today?

And as long as I'm talking about cute critters, I might as well post this set here. I'd put one of them up on Facebook today in response to a friend who was feeling a little down and asked for some warm and fuzzy photos, then decided to put them all up. These three were actually some of my absolute favorites from our Christmas trip to Texas, I just find myself smiling everytime I looked at them, so I thought they might do the job. This is my aunt Pat and her very sweet old mare Cindy. I wasn't even sure Cindy was still around, I'd lost track of the critters there in the years since I'd visited, but she is! I think my aunt said she's in her early 30's now. From the last visit, Poosay the cat is gone, but Jack the dog is still at the house.

Jack supervises some yard cleanup, December 2012

 It was getting hard for my aunt and uncle to care for the two horses, Cindy and Copy Cat, but fortunately they have some very wonderful friends who have a lovely big spread just about a mile away who are also very involved in the Rita B. Huff animal shelter there in Huntsville and take in a fair number of animals that are for one reason or another considered unadoptable. They have good facilities for a number of horses and had told my aunt and uncle some time ago that if and when they got to the point that the horses got to be too much, they could offer them a home. If and when eventually did arrive, as my uncle has had some gathering health issues, and it's turned out to be a lovely solution, they are well cared-for, they share a big pasture with a pond with a couple of retired ponies and (I think) a few cows and then there's a nice little stable with loose boxes for chilly nights. And my aunt and uncle are five minutes away and can visit whenever they like. Cindy's a lot grayer than she was the last time I saw her, and a little more skittish (in her younger days she was always the boss mare but she's so old now that she can't keep the upper hoof the way she used to, and Copy Cat and the ponies who are also enjoying a peaceful retirement there can get away with pushing her around), but she's still still a total snugglebum.
Facebook friends may notice that I'm reusing my own little story that went with these pictures on Facebook -- lazy, I know, but it's 10:00, a book-mailing project last night somehow turned into a much later night than I'd planned on, so I'm taking the shortcut!


Don't you just hate it when the penguins come to your office --
and you miss them???

Photo by co-worker Brian R., of whom I am very, very jealous. I'm glad he shared them, though. Children's publishing can be fun! Thanks Brian!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Me! In the fog!

I wasn't the only one with a camera on Saturday. Todd S. took a batch of really good pictures and sent them around. Is it too terribly egotistical that one of my favorites was this? Look, it's me! :D
The low fogbank made for a very strange crossing - we didn't need to use our compasses to hold our course, we just headed for the hilltops, but you couldn't tell how much farther it was to the actual shore until you were practically running aground! Very bizarre.

Also bizarre, although in the pleasantest way (particularly during the fog-blind crossing), was the complete absence from the river of any craft other than ourselves. The day was warm enough that there was all sorts of activity along the shoreline - fishermen, birdwatchers, dog walkers and a HUGE troop of Boy Scouts out for a hike on the Palisades - but we didn't see (or hear) one single other boat, commercial or recreational, moving on the water up where we were. I'm accustomed to having Jamaica Bay almost all to myself this time of year, but that's not something I'd ever expect on this stretch of the Hudson!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Oh, Tillerman,

Dinner is served! :D

Meanwhile, here's tonight's omnivore menu - but wait, something's missing:
Alas, no jellyfish!

fog paddle

1/12/2013: Yonkers - Piermont, a nice change of scenery. The fog was supposed to be patchy in the morning, clearing to a partly sunny afternoon, but that wasn't quite what happened! Here are a few of my favorite shots:
I'll have more during the week, it was a really nice group to paddle with and it was just SO nice getting a chance to paddle the Palisades again. Coming up here used to be one of my favorite things to do back when I was paddling out of 23rd street - it was always a little magical, leaving such a deeply urban launch site and paddling up to the cliffs.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Awwwww, no fair!

No cat fight in NY Harbor. Bummer. That, I would have gone to see!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

And for my next culinary offense...

Furst you tek de jeylly feeshy. Coom here, de jeylly feeshy. Nice, nice jeylly feeshy!
Fun plans afoot for Sunday, and how much of a geek does it make me that I'm already getting excited about how much fun writing the blog post is going to be? :D

Börk Börk Börk!

Dempsey's first Tuesday Night Seisiún of 2013 - off to a great start!

Seems like everybody was really ready for a few tunes (and maybe a pint or two) after a couple of weeks off for a holiday hiatus. At least 25 musicians showed up (and I sat on a stool in the vicinity and occasionally tootled on my tin whistle too) and as they say, "the craic was mighty". Fearless Leader John Nevin was concerned that he might not be able to make it, so he lined up a guest leader, but then he WAS able to come, so we had both Fearless Leader John AND Martin O'Connell, last year's All-Ireland Button Accordion Champion, who utterly delighted us at one point by leading off a set of traditional reels with a blazing rendition of "Tico Tico". I wish I'd had my camera along, but this guitar version gets to rollicking along at a similar pace at 1:14 (at first time through is apparently just a warm up). Yowza!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Sunday Serenity

Sunday's odd picture was taken on my second paddle and TQ's first paddle of the New Year; it was a road sign that had washed up on Ruffle Bar, one of the small (and roadless) islands in the middle of Jamaica Bay. It had probably gotten into the bay during Sandy and it just sort of struck my picture-taking fancy - we actually stopped just for me to take the photo (TQ didn't even get out of his boat). I still had the sniffles but it was just too nice not to go out - temperatures were in the low 40's (aaah!), there was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the wind, although forecast to be a howling (not) 8 - 10 kts, seemed down closer to 5. We chose, as we sometimes do, to be antisocial - that's nice 'cause then we can sleep in, take the dogs for a walk, dawdle over a nice breakfast (Sunday's was scrambled eggs with jalapenoes, zucchini, onions and, yes, hasenpfeffer gravy, yum) and then head out to the club whenever we're ready. Of course this time of year, with daylight savings time, you can't dawdle too much or you'll run out of daylight (why DO they call it "savings"? No actual daylight is saved, it's just moved to a less convenient time for us non-lark types), but we got to the club by 2, plenty of time for a nice afternoon jaunt out around Ruffle Bar and back. A couple of the racing paddlers were at the club and taking advantage of the balmy weather too, but aside from them, the only other boat we saw all day was a police boat (and if you're only going to see one other boat all day, that's a nice one).

We paddled around Ruffle Bar in a counterclockwise direction, poked as far into the marsh as we could (we were a little late for a proper marsh paddle and a little early for beachcombing, but that was OK), then took a cocoa and pistachio break on the eastern shore, out of the little bit of wind there was (and to the great annoyance of the raccoons who were out digging for clams on the stretch of beach we chose for our break - they were out in force, seemed to appreciate a nice warm day as much as we do); I put the CG minimum "one white light that can be shown in time to avert a collision" on deck as we left in case it got dark before we got back to the basin but although the sun was quite low as we left Ruffle Bar, the descent towards the horizon is at such a long low angle that the sunset just seems to stretch on forever, and we'd covered the distance back and were back in the basin by civil twilight. Such a beautiful paddle, I almost feel bad that I didn't invite the rest of the winter gang - but sometimes it is nice to have a paddling date all to ourselves. Maybe next time we'll be sociable and tell the rest of the winter crew we're going. But this was quite lovely. :D

And here are some more pictures! Don't forget to click for detail - especially on the 3rd one down from here, where you can actually see the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan, for once the air was clear enough that the Optio was able to catch them, it can't always pull that off.

Total distance - a bit under 8 miles, but who's counting? Not bad for January. Not bad at all.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Oh, ouch.

More Sandy fallout,and much worse than the just-discovered demise of the 5-year old rosemary bush in my garden I was lamenting earlier today on Facebook. Boy, it was bad enough having to find someplace to move a sea kayak and a surfski back in '06 when Pier 63 Maritime got shut down - has to be so much worse when you can't just slap your boat on the roof of a car and go.

Regarding the rosemary -- I thought it had made it but it was just slower to succumb to the saltwater ducking than the sage and the thyme. Of the 4 plants that used to always make it though the winter, it's looking like the green onions are the sole survivors, and I'm not sure those are safe to eat after their October immersion in the floodwaters.

Sunday, January 06, 2013