Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fall Work Day at Sebago, 10/24/15

Fall at the Sebago Canoe Club - another great season of warm-weather boating is winding down and it's time for the fall work days. TQ and I made it out for a little bit of kayak and garden committee work on Saturday - he helped out with the kayak inspections; I did more picture-taking and chitchatting than work but it was nice to be at the club and I did plant a few little plants. Meanwhile other people built shelves, fixed kayaks (our kayaks  worked hard over the summer!), and generally got things cleaned up and ready for the winter.

Click here to visit my Flickr album from the day.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Launch Party for PortSide NewYork's GetOnBoard campaign - Tuesday, 10/27/2015

Sorry I've still been a little scarce here on social media, you'd think that with 3 weeks of medical leave and a recovery that's going very nicely I'd have all sorts of time to blog and Facebook, but I've been doing a lot more talking and emailing with friend and family, enjoying this nice weather we've been having with some good walks, and then, oh yeah, there are still a lot of doctor appointments, and I'm still kind of sleeping a lot. Improving though!

I have got a couple of posts lined up for one of these days (and then of course I only made it halfway through my Hawaii trip reporting!) but first there's another fun PortSide NewYork event sneaking up here that I've been meaning to post about for a while - once again, this will be at Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook -- I went to the one they had around this time last year, the BBQ was awesome and I had a fantastic time!

Of course the wonderful big change between this year and last year is that last year, the Mary A. Whalen was still in her temporary but quite long-term berth in the Red Hook Container Port, where she was safe and secure but not easily accessible to the public due to various federal regulations. PortSide NewYork was able to carry on with programming using various pop-up spaces, but the staff had been working tirelessly to get the handsome old retired tanker back to a home where people could actually come to events on board, as they'd done during the organization's early years.

I can't remember whether founder Carolina was quite yet able to give specifics at last year's fundraiser, but I think she was at least able to say that good things were in the works, and of course earlier this year, the retired tanker was indeed moved into Atlantic Basin, where she's already been able to host some programs - very exciting that that's now possible again. With those housing issues worked out (woohoo!), PortSide NewYork is kicking off #GetOnBoard, a year-long program to grow the team, budget, programs and space. This year's Home Town Bar-B-Que will be the official launch party for this event, and it really should be a blast - PortSide NewYork throws a great party!

Read more about #GetOnBoard here, and purchase tickets here!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Back on the water, on a Classic Harbor Line fall foliage trip. Hooray!

Can't go under my own steam yet, but it was a glorious day for a ride on the schooner Adirondack, and after a couple of days of rushing off to doctors' appointments (just follow-ups to make sure healing is going as it should be, which it is, hurrah), it was SO nice this morning to be rushing off to get on a boat -- and not just any boat, this is the one I crewed on part-time for five years after leaving Manhattan Kayak Company, so aside from just being a really lovely passenger schooner, I'll always have a special fondness for this one. It's actually been a couple of years since I went out sailing on her and it was splendid to be back on board and back out on the water.

Classic Harbor Lines has just begun their fall foliage cruises up along the Palisades, which will run on into November; there wasn't a lot of color just yet, but there were little flashes of flame here and there among the green, and it's just gonna get better! Looking for a great way to go see the autumn show along the Palisades? Click here to visit the Classic Harbor Lines website. This is of course a totally unsolicited plug - just had such a nice time today, couldn't resist. BTW, if sailing is not your thing (or if it's just looking cold), they have a couple of nice motor vessels too - here's the Manhattan II coming by to say hello today - had to grab this shot quick but isn't nice? 

There will be more pix later of course, just picked a few to get this up. Good to be back to writing about boaty stuff again! Thanks Capt. Kat for a terrific return to the "sixth borough" - hadn't been that long but I was missing it already! 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Barium is a lousy flavor for a milkshake...

Beautiful get-well flowers from a wonderful friend in Hawaii - so much aloha here in my Brooklyn apartment right now, it's amazing! 

Post swiped from FB, figured I would just copy and paste here. I think this blog is going to go from being tales of paddling and sailing and hiking in NYC to a record of getting back to my normal active life after a hopefully brief brush with a major illness, so I figured I might as well give you the story so far so it all makes sense.  

 Hello everyone! So - I have a very unusual thing to talk about today, about as far removed from my usual kayak cheerybabble as you can get. Been putting off talking for it for a while but now I sort of have the end of the story, and it's good (knocking wood and crossing fingers) so I think I can share my little breast cancer tale with you now. Basically, in July, I'd noticed that something was looking a little off-kilter with one of "the girls" - where before things had been more or less symmetrical, now one of 'em was looking a little bit cock-eyed. I knew that this was the sort of thing that you need to pay attention to, but I decided to go to Hawaii, have fun, and deal with it when I got back. 

When I got back, I didn't get right back on it, but then I found a lump. Went to my ob-gyn, my ob-gyn said "yep, that's a lump all right", sent me off to NYU Langone for a closer look; mammogram and sonogram didn't look good, next appointment was for a biopsy, biopsy said "yep, that's cancer all right". So that was the bad news. 

The good news was that I got Dr. Deborah Axelrod, the exact surgeon who my ob-gyn recommended as one of the best - and that opinion was seconded, thirded and fourthed by literally the first 3 people I mentioned her name to (2 registered nurses and a friend who's gone through the same thing herself). Quite the confidence-builder there, and my whole experience with everyone at NYU, and the NYU system, has just been great - staff members all strike a perfect balance between friendly and efficient, and they're very clear about what your next step is and what you need to do to make it happen. They move you through this very complicated process, without ever seeming to lose track of your humanity. 

With years of various sorts of administrative work under my belt, and mine being a pretty straighforward case, with good insurance through work (thank goodness), I didn't find this too hard to get through, but I did watch the desk staff at the Perlmutter Women's Imaging Center do a wonderful job of working with a woman who'd arrived hoping to cut a corner that they couldn't cut - she was about to fall apart but they leaped to help her however they could, and I think they were able to sort things out for her; I'd gone and sat down to be out of the way while they helped her but my impression from across the room was that they'd been able to give her enough good guidance to keep going - such kindness there. 

Unfortunately, although I was hoping that MY next step would be a lumpectomy, Dr. Axelrod's recommendation was a mastectomy - not what I wanted to hear but given the confidence in her that these other folks had volunteered, I decided against going through it all again to get a second opinion - seemed the chances were that 2nd opinion was going to be "Yep, Left Girl's got to go", and I preferred to just get on with things.

Another piece of good news had been that my cancer was a very unaggressive variety, so there wasn't an enormous rush (plus the general consensus was that it was absolutely fine that I'd gone to Hawaii and that that wouldn't have made any difference, which was great to hear), but this last Thursday at 8 a.m., I checked into NYU Tisch Hospital for the procedure. Everything went great, no complications, and the best thing is that these days, instead of just taking the lymph nodes attached to the offending side, they do biopsies while you are actually on the table to decide whether that's necessary. Final pathology won't be in until next week but what they saw looked clear, so I got to keep most of my lymph nodes - I think they took the one called the "sentinal node", which is the first one as the lymphatic fluid leaves the breast, but everything else is still in there! This means much less chance of lymphodema, which is when your arm swells up because the fluids aren't circulating right; this is still possible for me but less so. In addition, this means that there was less cutting - and of course the big thing this means (if the final pathology report agrees, knock wood and cross fingers!) is that the cancer hasn't spread! So this is all great! 

There will probably still be some anti-hormone therapy (another piece of good news from the original biopsy back in Sep was that the tumor would respond well to that) and maybe some chemo, but my oncologist says not all chemo is as harsh as it used to be -- this actually came up when I asked her if she could give me enough notice to do one more hair donation if I was going to lose it anyways, and she said that doesn't always happen and that there are a couple of kinds now and they don't have all of the bad effects the older ones used to. So fingers crossed there, too.

TQ brought me home yesterday, he's taken a couple of weeks off from work to take care of me while I convalesce, and I'm feeling pretty good (OK, maybe 'cause percocet, but also 'cause things are looking so promising). Won't be kayaking for a while, but I walked half a mile on with my I.V. pole on Thursday night in the hopital, and expect to be working back up to normal over the winter and early Spring.

This may be overly optimistic, but I'm hoping that I can be part of the flotilla that paddles out to meet the Hokule'a when they sail into NY Harbor next June!

 Mahalo nui loa to all the friends and family who've given me tremendous support as I've gone through this unsettling time. TQ's the man, of course, as already mentioned, and there have been other kindnesses major and minor (company to appointments, people keeping my garden alive when I didn't have time to care for it during a very dry September, and just so many good wishes and offers of help that I may take up on down the road, depending on how the post-operative treatment plan works out, and just general emotional support of all sorts) as the news spread. 

I didn't really want to talk about it here on social media until I had a better sense of how things were going to work out; I was so busy in the lead-up to the surgery both wrapping up work stuff (I'm out for 3 weeks now) and also trying to get in as much fun as possible, getting in those last paddles and rolls and swims and dancing-off-of-socks and yes, one last trip to Gotham Archery, and then getting ready at home that I decided against it. I just wasn't going to have the time to answer questions here as I would've liked to. I've told a lot of people personally; there were a lot more people I should have told, and I am so sorry that I didn't, but I'm absolutely delighted that I can now share my story with a pretty darned good ending to it. Sequel will of course be recovery - and that should also be good.

And now I can't resist sharing my last selfie before the operation --

 I had tons of work to do at the office and at home to get ready for the operation, but I also made sure that I squeezed in as much fun as I could manage too! This was on the canoe committee's family paddle with seining the other day, I'll have a bit more of a trip report on that soon - goodness, did I have a good time, though, I'd picked that trip partly because I wanted to do lots of rolling and playing, and I did just that all the way out and all the way back! Ended up being my last day on the water because last weekend was stormy. It was a good one.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Putting the bed to bed 2015 (with a look at the club's inaugural boatbuilding project and an odd bird)

Haven't written much about the garden this year, too many other things going on, I guess, but I did have my usual selection of fresh produce. For the second year in a row, the cukes got off to a fine start, then got some sort of mildew and that was it; I suspect that whatever it was is in the soil, so I may give the cukes a break next year and try something else in that corner. The beets never really got going either, not sure why but there weren't enough to bother with. Everything else did fine - there was chard all summer, with enough to freeze at the end (that was last weekend's kitchen project) -

and the "Dragonetti's Mystery Heirloom Pack" did nicely again; Dragonetti's Garden Supply over on the other side of the Paerdegat sells little packs of assorted heirloom tomato seedling- the hitch is that they don't tell you what kind they are, but I haven't gotten one I didn't like yet (is there such a thing as a bad homegrown tomato?), and it's actually kind of fun being surprised. This year's were all orange and flavorful and meaty, delicious caprese material with the basil, which also did very well. This was back in August. 
It wasn't looking like good boating weather this weekend, perfect time to go out to get the rest of what was left. It actually ended up being nicer than the forecast had shown, and there were a couple of folks who came out and did get out in boats, but I stuck with my original plan, would've still been a bit splashy out there and I was all in cotton, so no spontaneous going paddling.

Here's what was left here in early October -- insufficent beets to even bother with, a pepper plant, some peaked-looking tomato plants, some nice lush basil, the permanent onions (which have stealthily been taking up more and more space) and of course a family of blue hippos (thanks Larry! :D).

I owe the other Sebago gardeners for the fact that there was this much left - September was a very dry month and I just didn't have time to get out as much as needed, and at times I was sure Pestopalooza would have to be either cancelled or carried out with store-bought basil, but the Sebago gardeners saved me  - thanks, other Sebago gardeners! 

 There were a few cherry tomatoes left. I'd tried having 3 full-sized-tomato plants last year but decided to go back to cherries for one, just for the instant/continuous gratification factor - the big ones are lovely but you have to wait for them to ripen - cherries can go all summer and look, even on into October! 

 Bag o' basil

 Onions! I thinned them and pushed them back into the corner. I'd pretty much decided before I started in on this that in addition to Pestopalooza, this year I will have onion soup-a-palooza. Didn't quite get to that today, but soon, they're all sliced up and ready for caramelizing. We have been having some good onion soup weather lately. 

 Hot peppers - there are more on the plant so I left that in, hopefully they'll keep ripening. 

 Green and almost-ripe tomatoes - will probably use these in green tomato rice, haven't made that lately and TQ and I like that very much.

 Finished with the gardening, I finished my tea at one of the picnic tables, looking out at the basin and watching an egret having a nice leisurely late-morning preen on the neighboring docks. 

 Also peeked into the boat shed to see how the Point Comfort 23 is coming along. Boatbuilding is a new thing at the club this year - individuals at the club have built some beautiful craft, but with the boatbuilding shed completed, Jim Luton is leading interested club members through the process of building this traditional boat, which, when completed, will be used in place of the 13' Boston Whaler that we currently use as a committee and safety boat. You can read more about the Point Comfort 23 and how she was selected as Sebago's inaugural boatbuilding project at Jim's blog, Small Craft Warning. I wish I could have gotten involved in this but things just haven't work out for me to be able to so far - just too many other fun things to do (and a need for the occasional quiet day at home to recover from all the fun things). Have still been enjoying watching her take shape! 

Sun came out shortly before I left - 

I'd hitched a ride to the club with friends who were stopping by there before heading out for birding, then took the bus home. I'd just missed a bus, so I walked for a bit, as it had turned quite pleasant; as I was walking, I saw a most unusual thing to see in Canarsie! A flock of sparrows flew by, and as they did a startling flash of blue caught my eye. Turned out to be a budgie who'd been accepted into a flock of sparrows (click for detail, as usual). I posted this on Facebook with a note wondering whether a budgie can survive a NY winter - the Quaker parakeets do fine but they build those big communal nests; this guy or maybe gal) had clearly found a friendly flock, but I was curious about how it would do with the cold. 

Fortunately Mary, one of the same birder friends who'd given me a ride to the club in the morning, saw this and answered,

"The funny thing about Budgies is that when they escape, they quite often link up with House Sparrows. I heard that the reason is they, like House Sparrows, are not from here, have no migration path, no where to go, and nothing much to do. Don't worry too much. Seed eaters (budgies, sparrows, etc) can survive the winter. It's the insectivores who run out of food. Birds, whether migratory or not, can die from the cold, but it's mainly because of inadequate nutrition. If the food source either runs out or becomes unavailable (like the river freezes or the insects huddle down), the birds will not be able to survive. Seed eaters are better able to winter over."

So that was an interesting thing to learn, and it was fun seeing this bird - boy, this is not a shade of blue you usually see on a bird around here, it was quite startling to see it flash by! 

Then home for Pestopalooza 2015, and now I've got my winter pesto supply all stashed away in the freezer. Nice to have that all wrapped up (or bagged up, as the case actually is). And to have had another nice day at the club.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

just yer basic paddle - Jamaica Bay, 9/5/15

Ha, this has been lurking in drafts since September 5th - September was not a good month for blogging for me, tons going on, somehow I uploaded these pictures and never came back to them, so here they are now. Nothing particularly exciting about this paddle, but sometimes a less-momentous paddle is just what the doctor ordered, and this was a good one.

Solo paddle - yes, against suggested practices, but sometimes you just want to be out there on your own time, at your own pace. It was a lovely summer day with a little bit of a breeze. Paddling gear fit in the little bag (suddenly it's that medium bag time of year now, I love summer when the gear fits in the little bag). I didn't roll, that's one thing I won't do without a friend or two around, but I did splash around bracing a lot. The water was lovely. Then the breeze picked up a little bit, and I got a little cool, so I stopped splashing around and paddled harder and then I warmed up again. Summer's good that way.

I went around Canarsie Pol and Ruffle Bar and then back to the club. Nine miles at a moderate pace.

There were flocks of oystercatchers wheet-wheet-wheeting around, and I was surprised by the osprey - I thought you could tell when the ospreys are in by the absence of cormorants on the derelict pier beside the platform, but the pier was lined with cormorants. Earlier in the season the ospreys would chase them off, now there seems to be a truce. Perhaps the territoriality settles down once the youngsters have flown. Summer birds, they'll be heading south soon.

I went to the marsh in Ruffle Bar, where it was quiet and egrets were fishing while schools of small fish ruffled the smooth surface of the water.

Paddled back enjoying the view of the city skyline in the clear air, indulged in my standard low-key schadenfreude while paddling under the bridge over the basin -- is it bad that I enjoy being on the water in my boat even more when I can see people sitting in a traffic jam?

Probably finished off the day with a few cherry tomatoes and chit-chat at the club, 'cause that's how it goes in the summertime.

Yeah, just yer basic paddle, but so nice to have this.