Saturday, April 30, 2016


Back from my rather lengthy break here! I think that usually more than a week of radio silence here means I am off having tons of fun somewhere neat, with limited access to doohickeys. This time was a little different, the 7 days following my last post were one of the most intensely scheduled non-vacation-type periods I can ever remember having, but I made it through and yes I did manage to squeeze QUITE a good bit of fun in there!

So here's what I've been up to:

Thursday the 19th was the big budget presentation at work. Plus packing for the big departmental move. I ended up packing a lot of my boss's office that day - people didn't think that was right but my boss had 2 things that had to get done that day - give the budget presentation, and pack his office. I wasn't about to offer to give the budget presentation, I infinitely preferred to help with the other thing! :D

Friday the 20th was more packing, my cubicle this time.

The weekend was all planned out with a combination of water fun and preparation for Wednesday's surgery. 

Saturday had been slated for a good paddle, weather permitting, for about as long as I knew I was going under the knife again the following week - TQ works on Sundays so I always like to plan my paddling so he can come when I can. This weekend was great, I didn't even have to do the planning this time as Cindy at the club was also up for a trip and she got together a very nice small crew for another lovely day on Jamaica Bay. Wasn't quite as long as some of my other recent paddles because it was a bit breezy and this was the first paddle of the season, but I did a lot of zigzagging, pretending I was a Sunfish and tacking around buoys and stuff, and I think I did about 6 miles. First non-drysuit paddle of the year - I was totally on the fence about what to wear so I took both a drysuit and a wetsuit; it was cool enough at the club that at first I was leaning towards the drysuit, rolling to cool off as needed, but after moving a couple of boats and getting very warm very fast, I decided to go with the wetsuit instead. That ended up being fine, and it felt so good to lose some of that bulky winter paddling gear! 

Weather cleared up beautifully by the time we got back to the club so we had a fine session with beer and cookies and oranges and conversation all at a picnic table in the sun afterwards. I also stuck some old seeds in my garden on the way out, just to see if they'd grow, since I won't be able to do much actual gardening for a couple of weeks here. I'm so glad I got the heavy lifting of getting the bed ready for the season the week before. If my seeds go, great, if they don't, I'll get some seedlings to put in once I'm a little more recuperated. 

Flowers at the club are looking fine!

Sunday was originally slated entirely for cleaning and cooking to prepare for being laid up for a few days, but I changed that in favor of going for a swim with the Coney Island Polar Bears and then doing my cooking and cleaning afterwards. It was another GORGEOUS day and the nice thing about going for a swim with the Polar Bears is that that does still allow time to get things done afterwards. So I swam - 

And then I did some grocery shopping on the way home and then I cooked pernil and black beans, planning to cook rice the following night and have that to cover a couple of meals while TQ was staying with me after the surgery. 

Monday, I unpacked into my new cubicle. I wish I'd taken a picture at the end of the day because the new cubicle is literally half the size of the old one, which I'd been in for over a decade - it didn't look good at all when I left work on Monday, but I had something I really wanted to do at home! Partway through the day, I'd a fantastic surprise delivery from my lovely Aunt Kathy. She'd seen that I had a new cast-iron wedge pan and she sent me two pounds of stone-ground self-rising cornmeal from the Nora Mill, founded in 1876 in the town of Helen, Georgia. As soon as I opened the package at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was run home right away and make cornbread!

My rice and beans plan immediately went out the window in favor of beans over round 2 of Susan Williams' buttermilk cornbread. This didn't come out of the pan as nicely as the first one did (I re-seasoned) but oh boy, was it pretty, and oh boy was it GOOD. 
Tuesday was my last day at work for the month of April. I did actually manage to get my new space in order (YAY, that's why I'd wished I had a camera on Monday, the Monday night vs. Tuesday night shots would've been dramatic), then helped my boss out with his for the rest of the afternoon. Turned off my out-of-office messages at the end of the day, did another grocery trip, ran home, did laundry and more cleaning - it felt EXACTLY like getting ready for vacation, except it wasn't really vacation!

I had my surgery early in the day on Wednesday, and here was my Facebook update from that evening:

"Today I had reconstruction surgery. It went well, I'm a little bit uncomfortable but it's not too bad, and Quint has taken a couple of days off to help me out, starting with picking me up after the surgery today -- it was an outpatient procedure, I checked in at 7 am, operation was at 8:30, and then they had me there for a few more hours for recovery. Quint brought me home a little after 1. We made one stop at the pharmacy for painkillers and then came home. Did a lot more sleeping today and I think tomorrow will be a sleeping/reading day too. There are a couple more "finishing touches" to be done on Left Girl, and I'll be starting on anti-hormone pills soon, but today's procedure should (knock wood, cross fingers) mark the end of the main events of my fall/winter/spring cancer treatment run. WOOHOO! Thanks again so much for all the moral support, especially to those who shared their own experiences with me! I really appreciate all the love and kind words from all of you! 

I still have a little discomfort, but I've still been enjoying my short break from work. TQ stayed with me until this evening, and we just had a nice lazy time reading and hanging out. He's been doing all the cooking for us, he made some great meals with the groceries I'd picked up, and I've just been able to take it very, very easy. We went for a pleasant walk around the neighborhood on Thursday, on Friday he drove me over to the Brooklyn Bridge Park offices to take a look at a room they'd offered for a screening of Sam Low's The Navigators (the room is lovely, we're doing it, it's next Friday, May 6th, details on the events page).

Today we had a little excitement as a fire started in some trash just outside the building, which filled up the place with smoke and brought four or five fire trucks, but they got the fire out very quickly and we were able to go back in after a little airing-out time. We were afraid my place was going to reek because the hallways were really bad and we'd decided to clear out when we started to smell the smoke inside my apartment, but it ended up not being all that bad - I'd shut the windows and the door on the way out, the weather was pleasant and a couple of hours with all the windows opened and a fan running took care of it.

And today I actually got in a little more painting on Araner! Almost done, hooray for an otherwise quiet day at home. Been about the craziest April I can remember - here's hoping for a relatively peaceful May. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mermaid, uh, Thursday.

Swiping a post from Facebook due to time constraints today - this was a "memory" from 2 years ago today, originally posted as "Mermaid Monday". I re-shared it today with the following update:

Facebook tells me it's time for my Spring swim with the Coney Island Polar Bears. Sunday or bust!

Actually that's a really appropriate way to put it since if I don't swim on Sunday I won't swim with the Bears this year 'cause Left Girl is getting some more surgical attention next Wednesday, and the Polar Bear season ends at the end of April. So if I miss Sunday, it'll be a bust because of my busted bust.
Click here for last year's Polar Bear post, which includes a link to my Flickr album from the day. I've gone for Easter Sunday swims for the last two years, but this year Easter was much earlier and even if TQ and I hadn't had an invitation to Easter dinner at his folks' place, I'm not sure I would've had the nerve. March? BRRRRR!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Daffodils Daffodils Daffodils.

That is all.

OK, actually there was more, I spent another beautiful Spring day at the club, this time joining in on the sailing committee work day, getting the boats ready for the season, but I got there early enough for a photo session with the daffodils in my little garden plot at the club. I've got stuff to do with the remaining hours of the day, but I thought I would do a quick post with just these. We've finally got some serious Spring going down here in NYC!


:D />

Saturday, April 16, 2016

4/16/16 - Paddle to Dead Horse Bay

Dock? We don't need no stinking dock!

Today's forecast had been showing that today would be an absolutely glorious Spring day in NYC, and I'm having a second operation in late April that's going to take me off the water for a month, so when the official Hudson River club trip that was supposed to happen got cancelled, I decided I wanted to go out anyways.

With the dock replacement just getting underway and launching still involving a small scramble, I didn't send out a general invitation, just asked more experienced friends. Ended up heading out at 11 am with two friends with lovely hand-made skin-on-frame boats. It was warm enough that they did some rolling; having decided to leave my hood and noseclip at home, I decided to stay mostly rightside-up, but I did do some sculling bracing to get my hair wet - the water's still cold enough that it made for some bracing bracing all, but it felt very good.

We paddled out to the entrance to Dead Horse Bay, then backtracked and took out on the sandy beach just to the west of the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, where we had a leisurely lunch. SO nice when the weather warms up enough to actually enjoy a sandwich on the beach in the sun!

Floyd Bennett Field was well populated with people enjoying the day, the water was surprisingly quiet when we set out, but the motorboats started coming out in the afternoon. We saw a couple of loons, including one who was close enough for Milton to notice that he'd changed out the quiet gray of the winter plumage for the striking black and white of summer (sorry, still not close enough for a photo). The terns are back, and Louis spotted an egret flying towards Canarsie Pol. Winter might be done! Click here for more photos!

Just around 10 miles, and I'm finally starting to feel like I'm getting it back together again.   

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dempsey's - End of an Era (beginning of another)

Dempsey's Pub, looking out the front window.

I've been making it to the Irish music session at Dempsey's Pub on 2nd Avenue fairly often (at least for me) over the winter and spring so far. One night I was sitting on one of the barstools by the wall, looking at more or less this view (only with musicians of course) and out of the blue came the thought, "What a lot of weather I've watched out of that window". This session has been running for 20 years, and I think I've been attending for around 15 of those. I'm an irregular regular, I'll go for long stretches without attending, but I always like knowing it's there when I'm feeling like a tune and a pint. I've been there in all seasons, watched rain, snow, sleet, hail, and fog out that window (oh yes, and some nice nights too), and I found myself feeling strangely nostalgic about it.

Last Tuesday, I was thinking the same thing, but now there's nothing at all strange about feeling that way. Dempsey's is closing down for renovations and a change of format to match the increasingly hip vibe of the neighborhood. So Tuesday's session was the last there at the session's original home. The turnout was massive, so it was held in the back of the pub instead of up here where we normally met, and, to use the Irish phrase, the craic was mighty as we said farewell to the old place.

I took both of my cameras, of course - the Lumix for stills plus the Optio for some video. Haven't had time this week to check the videos, but I did go through the photos the other night and I got some nice ones. Click here to visit my flickr album of that night's fun, and click here for more about the closing on Gothamist.

Fortunately, although Dempsey's will be gone, our amazing and dedicated session leader, John Nevin, and the owner of Dempsey's, Tom O'Byrne, a very good singer himself, have made arrangements for the longest-running session in New York City to live on (phew!). Tom owns another very nice pub not too far away, and so starting next Tuesday, we'll be there instead, and the Dempsey's Irish Traditional Music Session will carry on as the Dempsey's Irish Traditional Music Session In Residence At Slainte. Stop by any Tuesday night for some great music!  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Painting again

Sorry no posts for so long, April's been the usual crazy month with the fiscal 2017 budget due at work, plus a much more unusual office move (I've been in the same cubicle for 10 years and accumulating crap for the entire time, so this is not going to be easy - I think it will be good in the end as there's a lot that can be pitched given motivation to do so, but the timing's rough), plus of course continuing medical stuff (chemo's over but now there are doctor appointments to prepare for reconstructive surgery at the end of April). I actually treated myself to a weekend entirely in my own neighborhood last weekend, didn't set foot on public transportation and only walked as far as the Cortelyou Road greenmarket. It was a pleasant combination of lazing about and getting things done that needed to be done; I'd planned to do a blog post in there but then I remembered that I had a pigment marker drawing of a ketch that I'd done on watercolor paper last year with the full intent of painting her, and decided to bust out the paint sets instead. Got a ways to go but off to a decent start.

In a funny coincidence, it turns out (according to the Facebook memory pages) that the night I finally started painting my friend Sean's Araner was exactly one year after I'd stayed up half the night doing a preliminary pencil drawing.

 I know I'm not a fast painter (I guess I have a reasonably good eye, but I have no training at all, I just try things and see if they work, and that's not a fast process for me) but this is ridiculous! 

To be continued, of course.

:D />


Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A Few Spring Flowers in Ditmas Park

Sunday was a bit blustery for paddling (the windsurfers had fun, though) plus I needed to do some cooking, so I walked over to the Cortelyou Road greenmarket. Enjoyed the the spring flowers along the way!

Monday, April 04, 2016

Chemo All Pau!

And for those who are unfamiliar with Hawaiian pidgin, pau = FINISHED!

I had my eighth of eight sessions today. NYU Langone's infusion center has a fun little ritual for your last session, they got all excited when I told them it was my last session and said "You get to ring the bell when you're done!"

I came out after Grace, my technician, unhooked me from the rig for the last time. They have you read the placard; they didn't say out loud, but I did, finding myself getting surprisingly verklempt as I did (everybody knows "verklempt" from SNL, right?), then I rang the bell, hugged Grace a couple of times, thanked all of the staff who was at the front desk (it was a quiet day and I was one of the last ones out so that was most of the Monday afternoon team), and went on my way. The thank-yous were very sincere - I think I've mentioned in my other cancer postings that I've been consistently impressed with the courtesy and care the NYU Langone folks have shown me and others during my visits there. Even the most impatient patients were treated with far more patience that I could ever muster.

Grace was extra-terrific, though - that's her in the 2nd photo. Earlier on in the process I was going to switch to weekends to save myself the once-every-three-week scrambles to get out of the office on time, but she was SO nice and also very, very good at finding a vein on the first stick, and with that combination, I ended up rethinking things. I hate needles, and
 I've got ridiculously elusive veins, and I've come out of more than one routine blood-testing situation very green around the gills after the blood drawer either stuck me again and again or just hovered for an appallingly long time before getting down to business, so the latter made this SO much easier, I'd really been dreading that but she made it so much better than I expected it to be. Add to that that she had such a very pleasant chairside manner (they had beds there but I was always in one of the comfy recliners) and I pretty quickly decided that I didn't want to change after all.

My bosses totally understood, and since my side effects were generally limited to a slightly cantankerous tummy, nothing truly debilitating, when chemo ran afoul of deadlines and stuff simply had to get done, I was able to put in extra hours on other nights to make sure it did.

Delighted to be done, and delighted that the whole process continued to be, as I said early on, more of a hassle than an ordeal. The time it took to recover completely did end up going from a couple of days to an entire week, but I never really lost any time other than the actual appointments, and the symptoms I was recovering from were pretty low-key compared to what some people go through. I did very well on the regimen I chose (the longer but gentler of the 2 options I was given), to the point that today my oncologist couldn't resist punning that I'd "sailed through it" (she knows my proclivities and always asks what boating I've done recently at my pre-chemo checkups), and I'm so grateful for that.

Thanks again to all of my friends (especially those who're going through or have gone through it themselves and have shared their stories with me) for all the support and good wishes!

One more significant procedure to go, reconstructive surgery later this month, but that's actually an outpatient procedure, nowhere near as big a deal as the first operation. A couple of days off and I'll be ready to go back to work. Also no paddling or swimming until late May, but I should be easing back onto (and into) the water just as the boating and swimming season gets into full swing. Looking forward to that!

:D />

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Ghost Ship Ball, 4/2/2016

Well, for all I was complaining about all the work I had to do, I still had quite the event-full week, starting with the great Hokule'a fundraiser by Halawai on Monday, and continuing the evening session of the Indigenous Resurgence panel discussion on Thursday (it was fascinating, and they had an incredible turnout, which was great to see). I have to go back there to see their Wayfinding Project gallery exhibit, which will run through the end of 2016.

 I did skip the Hokule'a Educators Workshop on Saturday morning for various reasons, but was delighted to find out that at least one friend attended, but last night TQ and I went to the House of Yes, a super hip venue in the super hip Bushwick section of Brooklyn, to attend the Ghost Ship Ball fundraiser for the North Brooklyn Boat Club and the Long Island City Community Boathouse. We left extra time to drive over because the organizers had stressed that the program would start on time, which meant we were one of the first guests to arrive; the glittery young man at the door looked a little puzzled when we walked in, looking very middle-aged, like maybe we were lost tourists and were going to ask how to get to the Empire State Building (I'm only half kidding, this was a very very young venue), but the minute we said "Boathouse party?" he lit up and said they were still setting up but come on in!

Unfortunately, since TQ works on Sundays and his workdays start early, we missed the acrobats, but I was mostly interested in the presentations, one by Johna and Vlad, the very adventurous paddlers behind the terrific Wind against Current blog, and one about the Hokule'a by Kim and Kalani from Halawai). They were all great, and tons of friends were there, so lots of good catching-up was done too. Happy to support our fellow boathouses, and what a fun evening! 

Friday, April 01, 2016

Hokule'a Educators Workshop, NYU, 4/2/2016

Yes, that's tomorrow, sorry for the short notice. 

One more Hokule'a event - this one sounds great, I went to their last educator's workshop and despite not being an educator (unless you count being a kayak instructor), I found it fascinating. I can't make this one but I hope friends can! Click here for full details and to RSVP. .