Friday, January 31, 2014

Pete Seeger Memorial Bridge

This week I and a number of boating friends have been signing a petition to have the new Tappan Zee Bridge named after Pete Seeger. 

 I had left my office last night thinking vague thoughts about how that would be particularly appropriate because the very word "bridge" has both musical and architectural connotations. 

 I had the right idea but I never would have taken it any further than the generality. I didn't know how particularly true that idea was in this case until I read last night's Proper Course post. Great stuff!

You may not have known this, but in addition to being a competitive Laser sailor and marathoner, Tillerman happens to have an interest in banjoes (I knew this because we talked about it in comments after one of my Irish music posts). Turns out that Seeger already has a bridge named after him. Who knew besides banjo players? Anyways, he wrote a most interesting blog post about it.

 If you'd like to sign the petition, he gives a link at the end.

PS - HAY! Happy Year of the Horse!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pier 40 Ice

Had to go see this last night!

Versace, 22 degrees

I mostly heart NY. But not always. SoHo. There it is.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Farewell, Pete Seeger

Sloop Clearwater, summer 2009

I never met him or even went to a concert of his, but oh, do I and all of us who play in or on the Hudson today owe him a debt. I'm not very good at these saying goodbye posts, but I knew that this photo was somewhere among the thousands of photos I've posted online over the years and was able to track it down on my lunch hour - seemed like a nice way to say goodbye. 

There is a really nice post about him at The Old Salt Blog.

What a life he led. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Midwood Buddha says "Let it snow".

Me, I'm ready for a good thaw. Been fighting a cold, not much outdoorsy fun lately!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sheepshead Bay Duck Walk - 1/4/2014

Goodness, January 4th? Time flies when you're having fun - and it also flies when the calendar year ends and your job involves you in royalty reporting. Home with a 2nd winter cold this weekend, perfect time to sort through these photos from a very nice walk I took on the Saturday after New Year's Day.

We'd had a big snowstorm on Friday. Saturday was cold but lovely and although I think I toyed with the idea of going paddling, we'd had a good Frostbite Paddle on the first and instead I decided to walk out to Sheepshead Bay with my good camera and my zoom lens, with the idea of taking some pictures of winter ducks.

 This was something I'd had in mind since President's Day last year, when I took Bella for a very long walk with a clam-chowder break at Randazzo's in Sheepshead Bay. In addition to the usual mallards, gulls, swans and Canada geese, there were flocks of a couple of different kinds of winter ducks, buffleheads (the one with the big white cheek patch above) and scaup (the one to the left). These guys tend to be pretty skittish when approached by kayak on the water so this was the closest I'd ever been able to get and I was very happy with some of the pictures I got, but I left there thinking I really needed to go back with the zoom lens and without the dog (she's a Catahoula Leopard Cur, a short-haired breed from Louisiana, and a dog that's bred for the bayou gets chilly if asked to stand around in northeastern cold while a person takes pictures). Didn't make it out again last year but the 4th looked like a perfect day for picturetaking.

Unfortunately the winter ducks were not hanging out in the numbers that they had been on President's Day; perhaps I was a little early. Still, I had fun taking pictures of the more usual birds out there, plus people and scenery.

As usual, click on any picture for a better view. 

Gull. Ring-billed, I think. Definitely a baygull, it was by the bay, and it would have liked some lox if I'd had some to share. That's the footbridge across Sheepshead Bay in the background, my walk ended later crossing that, looping back around the end of the bay and then down to Randazzo's. 

Canada goose

Swanny swan a-swanning - swans know how to pose!

Seagull feeding

This guy was having the gulls pluck bread from his fingers, which they did deftly and too quickly for me to catch on film - this was the closest I got to the grab (definitely worth a click for detail). 

Moseying on now as I was getting chilly - here's just a nice boat scene, fishing boats at a marina, always nice to see. 

Not so nice to see:

 I've loved these little cottage courtyards since my first stroll in Sheepshead Bay, several years ago. There are 2 of them side-by-side and although I don't know how old they are, they look like they've been around for a while. I think the first time I saw them I thought "What a wonderful place to live". Aside from being too close to the water for storm surges of course, and I was aware of that before Sandy, it was never so much a question of if as it was of when - I like where I am, well inland, for that, and I suspect that might have something to do with why these are all for sale now. Still, even suspecting that a big storm surge would be trouble here, I just loved the look of them.

Makes me sad to see them up for grabs because I wouldn't be surprised if these neat little courts are just snapped up by somebody who wants to knock 'em down to put up another one of these -- ugh. Move along. Nothing to see here. 

 Plumb Beach, the easternmost point in my walk. Usually this is a big hangout for wind and kitesurfers - none on the fourth, though, no wind and as you can probably see, also not much water. Plus brrr, cold. 

 Couldn't resist making a snow angel in a smooth patch of snow in the little park that lets into Plum Beach. 

 Guess what? Brant butt! 
A few brants were hanging out here at the entrance to Sheepshead Bay. These smaller cousins of the Canada geese winter here in massive flocks - unlike the Canada geese, these guys do all migrate, by early summer you won't find a single one, and they are also much less moochy than their big relatives. Like the winter ducks, they're very shy when you approach them in a kayak, and in fact with the numbers we have in the bay it's hard to go for a winter paddle without spooking huge flocks.

They're a little less skittish when approached from land but even so this trio were heading away as I took these, looking across the Rockaway Inlet towards the Rockaway Penisula. 

Heading back into the main drag now, it was cold enough with the sun and that was sinking. Must be ice crystals in the sky as some light sun dogs appeared. 

 Jet, one of the Sheepshead Bay fishing fleet - I've been thinking it would be fun to go fishing again sometime, haven't recently, and when I do it will probably be on one of the boats here since they can take care of all the stuff I don't have and don't know, plus it's so easy to get to (the Captain Dave folks have been friendly to the folks at my kayak club and also advertise as being family friendly - I don't want to go out on a frat boy boat - so it's their website I've kind of been watching). 

Sheepshead Bay from the bridge. By this time I was starting to have strong thoughts about Randazzo's chowder. I didn't have a dog to share it with this time, but that also meant I was going to be able to sit inside to thaw out while I ate it, but I still had a little light and it seemed like I had just enough time to add in this loop. 

On the other side of the bay, I did finally spot one of the winter ducks I'd hoped to see - a couple of small flocks of lady buffleheads (when I posted these on Facebook, the Peconic Puffin said that Downton Abbey needs a Lady Bufflehead - never watched the show for fear of addiction but I totally agree on principal, at least). 

Taking wing for a quick loop around to see if there's another spot that looks better

This spot looks good

Sleepy young ringbill settles in for the night

Swan glowing in the low rays of the sinking sun

Sheepshead Bay sunset

And so to Randazzo's (note the skinny little crescent moon just above the lamp-post - that's why there was no water at Plumb Beach, new moon = spring tide, higher high and lower low than average).

Might repeat this tomorrow, it should be a nice day and I'm at point in this cold where I'm ready for a little light exercise and fresh air -- if it was summertime I'd head out for a swim at Coney Island; there will probably be people swimming there tomorrow (the REAL polar bears go all winter) but I don't think I want to join them for a dip just now!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Excuses Excuses.

Why I didn't post my Sheepshead Bay birds again last night:

"Because something was WRONG on the internet!"*

This picture has been circulating among my Facebook friends:

Fortunately I was able to fix it. There, that's better:

But then cat-owned friends checked in so I had to fix it again:

And then multi-pet friends from Hawaii checked in and gunfunnit, I had to fix 'em one more time: 
And then it was time to go to sleep, so I did. Duck walk, oh, one of these days.

*Quote slightly changed but lifted from this guy over here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Drawing again - Aoki's

Oops. I have some nice pix from a walk I took in Sheepshead Bay on the 4th (day after the big storm, cold but sunny and no wind), and I'd planned to post those yesterday, but instead I worked on my 2nd round of drawing Aoki's again. 

This is something I've been drawing in memory of the original Aoki's Shave Ice shop, which was one of my favorite stops in Haleiwa. Missed it on my last trip because I stuffed myself on a Kua Aina Sandwich Shop burger and then the walk on the beach that was supposed to just be enough to restore my appetite enough for a shave ice turned into an amazing Haleiwa-to-Waimea honu safari. Fortunately I did think to take a picture of the old place - had no idea this was going to be the last time I ever saw it but my solo trip in 2010 was partly about taking pictures of as many of my favorite things out there as I was able to get to in one week, and this was one of them. 

I think if you asked me if I would trade the picture for one last shave-ice there I would say no -- it does help that the Aokis are hoping to sell shave ice from their gift shop across the street but I'm having a good time drawing off of the picture.

First try was on an old sketch pad and I just colored it partway with crayons - 

Second round was on nice watercolor paper, took me a couple of tries but eventually I did get one I liked enough to move on with a waterproof pen. Next step will be painting it in!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sebago Frostbite Regatta, 2014 Edition

Skipping back a couple of days to New Year's Day - I'm so glad the snowstorm held off until Friday, a couple of days earlier and it would have wrecked Sebago's annual Frostbite Regatta. I love starting out the year with a morning on the water and some New Year's Day rolls, that's in fact a more important tradition for me than champagne and a smooch at midnight (TQ and I are usually asleep at midnight, the firework booms from Prospect Park and the local whooping and hollering wake us up, we'll wish each other Happy New Year and then go back to sleep). There's been at least one Frostbite Regatta since I joined where the paddling part got called due to bad weather, has to be really nasty for us to not go out. I think the eating and meeting still went on but it's the getting out for a paddle on the first day of the year that really makes me feel like I'm getting things off to a good start.

This year felt like a particularly frosty Frostbite, we were terribly tempted to turn off the alarm and snuggle back down under the covers but we did manage to roust ourselves out! Actually started out pretty, as you can see from the picture below (our weather comes from the west and the photographer here is facing sort of northeast, so that blue sky behind us is how the day started out) but things got overcast as we launched. Still, we were all happy to be getting out! 
We weren't terribly organized, there's usually a group shot but it was cold enough on the dock that I think people just wanted to get in their boats and get going. We have 6 of I think it was 9 paddlers here, and then sailor Chris in the viking hat, one of 4 sailors. Sailing co-chair Jim rowed this year, also missed the photo call - pretty good crew for a chilly sort of day!

Steve the Paddling Chef - he actually got this one off the ground, it's odd, we do this every year but somehow it seems to get closer and closer to New Year before an actual email saying "Let's go boating on the 1st" goes out. Steve was the one who eventually kicked it off this year - thanks Steve! 

Minh and Steve bringing down Sirensong

Official club mermaid Vicky says "Who me? Cold?"

Nice assortment of boats this year - used to be all kayaks but in recent years the sailors have been coming out to play too. Here's Holly the Sailing Co-Chair, her Laser is out at the Seawanhakha Yacht Club where she and 2 other Sebago sailors are participating in that club's Frostbite series, so she used a club Sunfish. Two more Sunfish joined in later. 

Chris launched his Melonseed

And sailing co-chair Jim went out in Mouse, the Matunicus peapod he finished last year. "Ash breeze" for New Year's Day. Sorry I didn't manage any more pix, Jim's a great boatbuilder and this is a sweet boat. 

Heading down the Paerdegat

Once we got out into the bay, Jim and Holly headed off down the channel towards Floyd Bennett Field. We were scheduled to have an extremely low tide and a boat with a centerboard has to stick to the channel on days like that - anywhere else in the bay you've got a foot of water. One of my favorite club quotes remains Pete P's comment after a Hudson River trip that went somewhat awry - I missed that one but Pete was talking with a few of us about it a bit later and said "We forget how spoiled we are here, half the time if anything goes wrong you can just get out of your boat and walk". 

The kayaks were a bit indecisive about where we were going. Somebody proposed around Canarsie Pol, but that was vetoed because there's a section to the east that hasn't even got enough water to float a kayak on an extra-low low tide day. 

Instead we headed off towards Ruffle Bar. 

There have been frostbites where we went around Ruffle Bar, but although there is water all the way around Ruffle Bar even on a low low tide day, the circumference of that particular island increases greatly; between that and the cold and the headwind we were going to have going back, we ended up stopping midway between Canarsie Pol and Ruffle Bar. Somebody proposed rolls there - call me a wimp, but I asked if we could hold off until we were closer to the clubhouse, where there was going to be lots of hot food and a blazing fire in the stove. Others saw the sense in that so we headed back for the basin. Click on the picture below for detail - it was clear enough to see the city!

Last look back on the bay.

Now much closer to the basin and warm stuffs. TQ bow-dipped and then threw himself right in for the first of our New Year's Day rolls. 

I had to divest myself of my regalia - Pedro the Penguin Hat floats but he definitely wouldn't stay on my head for a roll and I suspect the pile of Mardi Gras beads (Coney Island-Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers schwag for their summer swim race kayak volunteers - why, how did you think I got them?) that I like to wear for a little New Year's sparkle would at best just fall off and end up at the bottom of the bay and at worst somehow wrap themselves around my paddle leading to an embarrassing bailout. Handed those off to Vicky and my camera to Phil (I think he took this one) and then --

Happy New Year, fishies! 


Four New Years rollers this year - TQ, me, Steve and Minh. Going over for a semi-synchronized roll.

Last roll of the day and yes, we all came up, wish I'd set the camera to wide frame for the rolling, TQ got out of the frame!

Then we legged it back to the club with all possible haste. Nothing better than good hot food by a good hot stove after voluntarily pitching yourself headfirst into forty degree (if that) water. 

Steve had some pictures to share already (photo by Fran, she had a much better angle - btw Steve also shared that growler, good stuff!)

And I have already had great fun with this one on the Sebago facebook page. Major first for the club and how very appropriate that Luis, the guy who's done an amazing amount of work on bringing the club's recordkeeping into the computer era, should be the first member...

ever to attend the Frostbite Regatta by SKYPE! :D Live from Colombia!  Hi Luis! Hilarity ensued. Nice to see him though, we missed him - he would've been out there with us if he'd been in town.

And that's pretty much it for the Frostbite Regatta pix. There are more, believe it or not - for club members and other gluttons for punishment, I'll upload the same 41-shot set I uploaded to Facebook (includes a whole series of the silliness that ensued after I tossed Pedro the Hat to Vicky) to Picasa tonight, should have a link by morning UPDATE - here it is now  OR there's a captioned version on Facebook.  
Happy New Year!