Friday, March 31, 2017

Niagara Falls Day 2 Part 2 - Maid of the Mist, and Golden Hour at the Falls

A few more pictures from Niagara Falls. Fewer than I remembered, in fact - our next activity, since we were hitting all the standard Niagara Falls tourist fun on the US side, was a ride on the Maid of the Mist, and while there may not have been any cave at the Cave of the Winds, there was definitely mist on the Maid of the Mist, the boat takes a pretty close pass by the American Falls and then snuggles right uo to the thundering Horseshoe Falls. That's the one people shoot for when they get it into their heads to go over the falls in a barrel or a kayak or an inner tube or whatever, the American Falls have this barricade of boulders at the bottom so there's just no way, but the Horseshoe Falls fall straight down into the roiling pool at the bottom so there's a marginally better chance of living to tell the tale. Odds are still lousy though. Much better to just go into the mist and the roaring at the bottom, on a nice solid passenger boat with a good strong engine. Anyways, the reason there are not many pictures is because the mist starts at the American Falls, and I kept trying to take pictures for a little too long before I wrapped up the camera in the plastic bag I'd brought, and when I took it out and tried to take a picture afterwards, it just said "Nope".

That was  too bad because we stumbled across the very lovely Niagara Gorge trail afterwards, we were walking in the park downstream from the Falls and as we were approaching a building perched on the cliff's edge, we saw people coming out. We investigated and discovered that it was the elevator down to the service area for vessels in the area and also the public access to the trail. We had a great short hike down there, continuing downstream until we got to a switchback trail that led back up to the top of the cliff, getting back to the falls just as the sun was getting that late afternoon gold color to it, illuminating the falls in a way that I thought was far more breathtaking than the colored floodlights at night. I took a chance and turned the camera back on and was very happy when it worked - must've given it just enough time to dry out. So glad since my hands-down favorite pictures from Niagara Falls ended up being that set.

It's funny, I ended up really kind of glad I hadn't brought my passport - if I had, there were 2 more tourist attractions on the Canadian side that we would've tried to hit (Journey Behind the Falls, which is actually tunnels that take you to look out from behind Horseshoe Falls, and then the cable car over the Whirlpool, which TQ remembered as being pretty neat from visiting there in the past), and we would've missed the hike, which I enjoyed so much. Funny how things work out sometime. As it was, I felt like it was just about a perfect first visit to Niagara Falls.

And here are those last pictures.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Erie Canal Day 8 (or really, Niagara Falls Day 2) Part 1 - Cave of the Winds!

Well, oof, the usual March march at work marches on, all work and no play makes Bonnie a boring blogger, but recently overhearing someone complaining about how Niagara Falls wasn't as amazing as they expected did remind me that I had promised more Niagara back in a January post and never done that. So here we go, on with Day 2!

We were in total tourist mode here on my first ever visit to Niagara Falls, so of course we had to visit the Cave of the Winds, which is not actually a cave anymore. Once upon a time, there WAS a cave, and tours were offered, but it was closed after a rockfall in 1920 and then "obliterated in a massive 1954 rockfall and subsequent dynamiting of a dangerous overhang" (thanks Wikipedia). The tour had reopened in 1924 using boardwalks and stairs and today the Cave of the Winds is really the Boardwalk of the Winds. Interesting notes about the construction - there's no foundation, the support poles are just shoved down into spaces in the boulders at the base of the falls, and they take off the decking and store it in the wintertime when the ice buildup would take it apart. That must be quite the job, and the initial construction must have been hair-raising. Great attraction though, so amazing to get right up to the falls like that.

The photo above was taken on our first day in Niagara Falls, and I was loving that people were getting right under the falls the way they were. The next day it was our turn, and we had a blast! Once again, the fall visit worked out great, we were able to get our ponchos and slippers and get right onto the elevator without waiting at all, and then of course for this we were very lucky to have almost summery weather. Photos below, although after a certain point I had to pack up my camera because there was just too much water for it, next time I'll have to bring the waterproof one! That's it for the writeup, click on the first photo below for a slideshow view.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Report on CG Report on last year's ferry accident

For anyone who's saying "What accident?", last year there was a bad accident between a ferry and a kayak tour on the Hudson River. Fortunately, no lives were lost, but the guide was badly injured. I don't think I really mentioned it here because anything I would have had to say would have been pure speculation - an educated guess, since I know the area where the accident happened and I got my start kayaking at Manhattan Kayak and was even one of a number of partners for a couple of years, but still a guess.

I have been VERY interested in what the Coast Guard had to say, though, and that hit my social media today - first I got a link to an NBC local affiliate's report, then PortSide NewYork shared Maritime's version. PortSide NewYork (website here, other link was FB) is trying to get a link to the original but this looks like a good evenhanded overview from knowledgeable water people.

Watch out for spin on this - non-maritime news outlets frequently mess up reporting of maritime news because they just don't know the basics (and don't realize that they don't). This one's a good straightforward report, and the results are pretty much what I was expecting to see based on what I'd seen at the time last year. updated later with corrected link to Maritime Executive report.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Trip Around the World Quilt Challenge Exhibit, Brooklyn Public Library Gerritsen Beach Branch

Well, March madness of the work-not-basketball variety strikes again, as it does every year, but here's Part 2 of my Gerritsen Beach posts, showing the quilts and the library. This was an exhibit of small quilts made by members of the Brooklyn Quilters Guild for an annual "Challenge" in which a theme is given, which participants are allowed to interpret entirely as they choose. The only requirements are that the quilt must be 20"x20" and have a pocket sewn to the back for a dowel to go through for display.

The 2016 theme was "Trip Around the World", with Barb Christ's "Flying by Night", shown above, selected for the publicity shot that was on social media, like the Facebook notice that caught the eye of Shari, our instigator du jour.   Ms. Christ's piece was an homage to migratory birds and efforts to increase awareness of the problems that bright lights cause these travellers.  Absolutely stunning, I wanted to go the minute I saw this, and it ended up being a very fun and interesting way to spend an icy afternoon! The Guild had a reception that day, with light refreshments, and some of the quilters there to talk about their works. It was not the formal event I was somehow expecting, I was somehow thinking there would be a gallery room and a lectern, but the quilts were hung up above the bookshelves in the main room, and the talks were done standing in a group and chatting as we walked around and looked.

It was really neat seeing the different ways people approached the challenge. Ms. Christ's hand-dyed triangular pieces turn out to be a quilt pattern callled "Flying Geese", so any quilter would look at it and recognize the avian motif; I don't know anything about quilting but even without that inside knowledge, I was still struck by sense of movement. I also learned about "paper piecing", which was the technique she used, cutting templates out of paper and basting your fabric to those, which then guide your stitches very precisely.

It turns out that "Trip Around the World" is also a quilt pattern, and that led to some interesting variations. The pattern is one of squares sewn together with colors carefully arranged to form a strong diamond shape. Some of the quilters riffed on that; Margaret Marcy Emerson's "Across the Universe" moved the pattern eye-catchingly off-center. She was inspired by photos from the Hubble Space Telescope, and this is her own "venture into the galaxy". Beautiful! 

Eileen Anderson's "So Be!" also used the pattern, but with pastel colors, flamingos, and a border of travel charms, all in honor of one of her favorite destinations, South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida.  

A couple of the quilters honored our borough of Brooklyn, which can offer the sense of going around the world without leaving home (like when I go for one of my long walks, starting out hearing Caribbean accents in my neighborhood of Flatbush and finishing on the boardwalk in Brighton Beach, aka, "Little Odessa", I love that!). Lynn S. Hill's "Brooklyn Is the World" used the Trip Around the World pattern again, with squares representing the different cultures of the borough, and a background of fabric with a nautical chart pattern, which I thought was very clever.

Brooklyn appears again in this picture of three other favorites of mine. The one thing we didn't love about the exhibit was the height at which the quilts were hung, way up above the shelves - there were such amazing details in some of these little quilts that it would've been nice to be able to see them from less of a distance. The reason was very sensible, though - this is a public display and people might be tempted to touch, or worse, take. I could see the temptation - I was absolutely in love with these three. The one on the right uses a similar approach to the one above, only with the pattern used for the background; this is Christine Janove's "Without Leaving Brooklyn", I wish I'd gotten a better picture, I think the Brooklyn fabric is a culinary print because she refers to all the different delicious cuisines you can try here. She used nautical chart and map prints for the pieced background, and in a nice finishing touch that you may be able to see if you click on the picture (ok, and if you have a good monitor, my work monitor isn't great and I can hardly see the detail at all), she quilted a globe with latitude and longitude lines over that background. Really nice.  

Closer view of the other 2 in that set. The one on the right, Doris T. Douglas's "A Trip Around Various Habitats", is the challenge name pattern again, done with metallic thread and such beautiful fabric (actually looks a little bit like a sparkly throw pillow I have that I like very much). And then on the left is the first quilt I'm showing you where the quilter went off in an entirely different direction, sewing a stunning image of water rolling up on sand. I absolutely loved how Michele Cucker used lace for the foam for her "Shore Lines". Now I am not a stealing type person but boy, I looked at this one and thought "Yeah, smart to have them out of reach". So so so so pretty. 

Kathy Clarke's "Trip Around the World" - instead of the Trip Around the World pattern, she chose to use another traditional motif, a "star block", in a really fun way! From the flyer: "My trip around the world includes the whole universe, with the stars rotating around a rocket ship in orbit". So cute! 

Mary Rumsey Hawley's "Travel Memories" - turns out you can scan your vintage postcards, flip the images, and print them on iron-on transfer paper. I think she said there's an app for that!  

The last of the challenge quilts I'm going to share is Madi Appell's "Wherever I Roam, There's No Place Like Home". She's travelled all over the world but she says her favorite part is seeing the Manhattan skyline again and knowing she's home safe. And the way she sees the skyline is just glorious. 

There were more, but that's enough for one post! If you're interested in seeing the exhibit, it runs through April 3rd. Full details at the Guild website. 

The guild members also showed us a few other quilts that they'd made for the library. Some of the guild members meet there on Friday afternoons to work on their quilts together, it's a beautiful and welcoming library and they made these to say "Thank you".

NYC Alphabet Quilt. Nice!

There was a set of children's book themed quilts hanging outside of the storytelling room (which looked out on a little canal full of boats). Here are a couple:

One of the guild members had her notebook out, and I found her hand-drawn notes on graph paper to be interesting and even beautiful in their own right. 

Grown-ups aren't the only ones crafting at the library - there was a whole display of some wonderful things kids had made at the library - magnificent hats...

Googly-eyed kitchen spoon puppets...


Love that this was sponsored by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation - I just learned about the life of this remarkable children's book author and illustrator this winter when I read "A Poem For Peter", a wonderful picture book/poem/biography by Andrea Davis Pinkney, who is actually a co-worker of mine at Scholastic and just such an amazing person. I actually got to go to her book launch this winter, and of course I got a copy - I do that when I go to book launches - and I loved it. Nice NPR story about it here. Anyways, with that on my bookshelf and fresh in my memory it was just really nice to see that his namesake foundation had helped pay for the gleeful art I was enjoying so much.

The library building itself is beautiful! Shari remembered going to a little library in a storefront when she was growing up in this neighborhood - they've come a long way! 

And I was so impressed and inspired by the whole thing that I got my first library card since I got out of school! And what better book to check out for my first Brooklyn Public Library book than...

And then I went to Sheepshead Bay and had crab legs for dinner. What more could a person ask of a freezing cold and blowy afternoon?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Pi Day!

Celebrating at work with a nice little desk pie. Three berry from the Little Pie Company of the Big Apple. Yummy!

And I think a good reward for actually slogging in to work through some very mucky weather. The Weather Channel was getting all dramatic about it yesterday with headlines like "WINTER STORM STELLA IS THE BOMB-AGGEDON" (OK, I'm exaggerating, but not by much, they were milking that "bombagenesis" word yesterday), but I generally get my weather reports from NOAA's and looking there I wasn't seeing anything that made me think it would actually not be safe to come to work this morning, looked like we were going to get some yuck but not really take the brunt of the storm. The subway line I usually take was closed, so I did have to get to one a little farther away; I was able to take a bus partway there, which was nice because the precipitation at that point was basically nasty little windblown wet ice pellets. As a friend said on Facebook, ski goggle weather - only I don't have any of those these days. Made it in fine, though. Not a pretty day but sure could've been worse. Hope this is winter's last fling!