Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Rocky Mountain sunset, snapped from my cousin's car, near Denver.

I'd never been to Colorado before, but last year during the great lazy lake vacation in Michigan, my mom called her sister, who moved to Colorado a couple of years ago after my uncle passed away. I got to talk to my aunt for a bit, and during the conversation she mentioned that she would really enjoy it if TQ and I might venture out that way for a visit sometime.

We couldn't do it right away because our Fall trip ended up being that great Erie Canal excursion on our nameless Nimble Nomad, but when TQ started being asked about spring vacation plans earlier this year (in the NYC Parks Department they like people to have their vacations planned pretty far in advance), I floated the idea of a Colorado trip, and he liked the idea. My aunt and I have birthdays around the same time in May, that happened to be a good time for both TQ and me to take a week off, and that's how I ended up celebrating my 50th birthday in the beautiful Rocky Mountains!

It was an excellent trip, lots of visiting with my aunt, my cousin and his wife who live there (and very kindly put us up at their place), another cousin and her husband who happened to be coming in from Idaho (wonderful timing!), and then cousins once removed and twice removed. We had some great great visiting, there was lots of catching up to do as I hadn't seen some of these folks in years!

TQ and I alternated visiting with the family with some side trips on our own: a hike in the beautiful Chatauqua park just outside of Boulder; a drive further up into Rocky Mountain National Park with a shorter hike around a lake; and a visit to the 
Denver Museum of Science and Nature, where we went to see a very well-done exhibit on Vikings and also enjoyed their Prehistoric Journey exhibit, followed up with a visit to the Redstone Meadery, because what's better than quaffing mead after learning about Vikings? :)

The Lily Lake hike was actually on my birthday. There was a loop trail with an option to go up a ridge for the extra-scenic version. We opted for the ridge. So here I am, going "over the hill", just like you're supposed to when you hit the big five-oh, right? Heck yeah!

:D / >

(kayak smiley, patent pending)

 On Friday morning, we said goodbye to the family and headed south for more sightseeing, stopping in Breckenridge for one night (we saw a moose there! I never saw a wild moose before! I'm not sure I've ever seen a moose in real life at all in fact!); we were originally going to do more hiking there but I was driving and it turned out we were driving right past this great old choo choo train that I'd been investigating as a possible good jaunt earlier in the trip. The next day we continued south to Buena Vista where we finished up our vacation with a couple of days at the great CKS Paddlefest. It was a wonderful visit and of course I have loads of pictures to share! 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Not Brooklyn.

Definitely click for detail. :) 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Goings-on at the club today, plus other people's flowers

Busy day out there - I just ran out to do an apres-heat-wave/pre-vacation check on my garden (everything looks good although I may plant more beets when I get back, I used a pretty old seed pack and not many germinated), but it's great to see things ramping up for the season. Trip leaders were being trained (I would've gone for that if I hadn't had a million things to do before vacation, that's always fun and a brush-up never hurts), there was work being done on the Point Comfort club workboat that is the impressive first endeavor of the Boatbuilding Committee, and the trailer for that boat has arrived, and the Staten Island camping trip folks had launched early in the morning (ok that is also tons of fun so maybe I would've been doing that if I wasn't travelling!). Here are some photos of those (well, except the camping trip people who were probably halfway to Staten Island by the time I was at the club) plus flowers from other people's gardens that I walked by while I was doing my other errands. Iris season!

Just past half-moon

on the way to work

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Current and prior pieces at the Houston Bowery Art Wall

As long as I'm on the topic of good public art in NYC, here are a few shots from the Houston Bowery Art Wall, which I enjoy passing by on my way to my Tuesday night Irish music sessions. This is a rotating mural space supported by the space's owner, Goldman Properties. I didn't actually know the history until I did a little googling - turns out that the first mural here was done in the early 80's by Keith Haring and Juan Dubose. In 2008, the developer, who was an art fan, turned the space over to a curator who re-created the original mural in honor of what would have been Haring's 50th birthday. I remember that one, I don't know enough about art to tell you what it meant but it was vibrant and lively and so much fun to look at.

That was up for a while, and then after that a series of street artists have been invited to use the space for a period of a few months each. I've enjoyed watching the pieces go up, but besides the Haring re-creation, the current one and the last one have been my favorites so far. The current one is by PichiAvo, two artists from Spain who like to combine classical art with graffiti. Their gigantic young Poseidon with his charging white horses set against a colorful street art backdrop is a glorious thing to see. The one before that was a downtown street scene by Logan Hicks that was just mesmerizing in its photographic detail, and when I started looking into it for this post, I was amazed to find out that the artist created it using STENCILS, five layers, one layer a day. Incredible, I wish I'd managed to get over there some time when he was actually working on it!

The general history here was lifted from the Atlas Obscura's article about the wall (which includes a photo of the Haring mural for your enjoyment); for lots more about the murals themselves (including the ups and downs of creation), check out the Graffiti Wall Archives at Bowery Boogie. That's it for the writing, click on any of the pictures for a slideshow view.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Subway Series - "Blooming", 59th and Lex, mosaic by Elizabeth Murray

All work and no play may make Bonnie a boring blogger, as I said in my last post, but tonight it's also given me the idea to add to my poor neglected "Subway Series" with a post I've been meaning to do for a very long time. For those who aren't up on baseball lingo, in normal NYC parlance, a subway series is a set of games between our two hometown teams, the Yankees and the Mets, but here on Frogma, I had at some point thought it would be really neat to do a set of posts about the beautiful art installations you see in many of NYC's subway stations.

It was a fun idea. I haven't done as much with it as I'd hoped to, mostly because being a smartphone resistor means not having a camera perpetually on-hand, but in December 2015, my friend Mandy and I had gone for our annual holiday window viewing and finished that off with the carol service at the Brick Presbyterian Church on the Upper East Side, where I sang with the choir until a while after I moved to Brooklyn, it was a really good choir and I loved singing with them, but the commute got to be a bit much. I have been back for a couple of carol services, which are lovely, and it worked out really nicely for Mandy and me to attend that day.

This took us through the subway station at 59th and Lexington, which may very well have been where I came up with the "subway series" idea, and of course I had my camera for the windows, and Mandy's very patient when I need to make a random picturetaking stop. This particular station is a standout for me because I used to travel through it every day on my way to work, and the before-and-after contrast between how it was then and now is really something.

I was working at Carnegie Hall when I moved to the Upper East Side, and my morning commute involved transferring at this station from the 4, 5, or 6 that I would catch at 86th and Lexington to the N or the R that would get me to Carnegie Hall (yes, that is ALSO how you get to Carnegie Hall). The platforms are in different parts of the station and to get from one to the other, you would go through a big squarish mezzanine area. Now at that time, that station was one of the victims of circa 70's "decor", and UGH, the mezzanine was hideous. The walls were covered with rectangular tiles of what I would call operating room green, darkened with the grime of years and halfheartedly lit by half-broken fluo
rescent light fixtures.

Not a particularly heartening place to walk through, but hey, it was a commute, it doesn't have to be pretty.

Luckily for folks who have that commute today, though, at some point it got to be 59th and Lex's turn for an MTA Arts for Transit makeover - and what a job Elizabeth Murray, the artist who got the commission, did! I don't get to the Upper East Side much anymore, and I can't remember what sent me up there for the first time after the installation was done, but the first time I went through there after the installation, I think my jaw actually may have dropped when I walked into what had been the dreariest chamber and found the walls covered with shining swirling mosaic - it was like that moment in The Wizard of Oz when everything goes Technicolor! I did have one hint that things had changed in the form of a stray coffee cup like the one shown above, I saw that in the corridor as I approached the mezzanine and I did take it as a clue that things might have changed since my last trip through there, but I was still surprised at the beautiful colors that had replaced the old dirty bluish-grayish-greenish. Absolutely spectacular. I didn't have a camera that day, but I think that it was that day that I thought of sharing some of the subway art I enjoyed. This one took me a while, but here it is at last!

Click here to read more about the art and the artist. Click on the first photo for a slideshow view.  

Friday, May 12, 2017

Garden, one and a half weeks in...

All work and no play makes Bonnie a boring blogger (don't feel too sorry for me, though, a lot of it is a pre-vacation scramble to get things done before I head out for what's shaping up to be an excellent vacation) but I did get up to the Union Square Greenmarket yesterday to get a couple more tomato plants, plus a cilantro plant (I hope that grows, I really like a little cilantro here and there, but I don't think I've ever managed to use up an entire bunch from the grocery store), and I got up early this morning to go plant them. Wish I'd had the energy to get up even earlier and go for a pre-work paddle, but even just getting out there to plant and water on the quiet waterside with the birds singing for a little while was nice.

This year's tomatoes: beefsteak (that's the one from Dragonetti's, whose selection wasn't that good this year), and then a black brandywine and Sungold cherry tomatoes (the little orange ones that are like candy, these will be the ones that I just pick and eat when I get back from a paddle, LOVE a little post-paddle garden grazing!) from Union Square. Everything's looking good a week and a half after the kickoff; pole beans, beets, and chard seeds are all sprouting, and the herbs that overwintered are thriving. The basil babies look a little bit peaked, but we had this terrific rainstorm last week and they may just be recovering from taking a bit of a beating, also might be a little cool still for basil, we had that one eighty degree day a couple of weekends ago but then it got back to more standard NYC spring temperatures in the 50's. The peppers and the beefsteak tomato went through the same rainstorm but came through looking good, and then the lavender sprig that I'd planted last year is coming along beautifully - it didn't really do much last year but this year it's got buds already! Glad to see everything coming along so nicely.

Click on any photo for a slideshow view. The flowers are in the planting by the clubhouse door.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Kicking off the garden 2017

Continuing in the It Must Be Spring vein...

The ospreys and oystercatchers on Saturday felt like Spring. 

What else feels like Spring? A trip to Dragonetti's! Oooh yeah! 

Originally I'd planned to do some Spring cleaning on Sunday, which was going to be on the gray and drizzly side, but then my friend John H. posted a picture of some corn seedlings (he has a whole garden set up on his roof deck) and I looked at that, looked at the forecast, saw good rain during the week, and decided the cleaning could wait.    

I'm so glad Dragonetti's is just on the other side of the Paerdegat Basin; in other years when I'm ready to do my garden in the Spring, I've enlisted the help of someone with a car (TQ is generally happy to help me out, and if he can't I'll send out a message on the gardener list) because I like to replenish my soil each year, since I grow quite a bit in my little 4x6 plot, but since this year's decision to plant was pretty spur-of-the-moment, I got out my luggage cart and headed for Canarsie with my fingers crossed that this would actually work. It was a bit of a schlep rolling these 2 big bags of dirt the mile to the club while also carrying a tote bag with some plants, but the city's done a fair amount of work on Paerdegat Avenue so the going was pretty smooth and I made it to the club without the cart falling to pieces - I had brought my giant duffle bag in case that happened but toting 'em that way would've sucked. How's this for urban gardening, though? 

I'd cleared out the bed the weekend before. In the past I'd always had my "putting the bed to bed" day in the Fall, when I would pull everything out except the onions, but a friend of mine whose opinions I really respect had sent me an article last Fall that talked about how leaving things in place was beneficial to birds and insects. What they said made sense, so I did. Extra bonus - I picked the season's first bag of chard on Sunday! Pulled out the roots, I did experiment with letting chard overwinter one year, but it turns out that it goes to seed pretty fast in the 2nd year (doesn't do that in the first year at all) and once it does, it seems like it attracts a ton of aphids, but it was nice having first pickings already in April.

Last week, in addition to pulling out the dead plants from last year, I unburied the bed from the ajuga plants that for some reason had covered the entire garden area. I learned what it was from Mary, one of the garden committee co-chairs; I had initially called it "purple crap" and "weeds" in quick succession as I stared at the lush growth in my bed; she corrected me and told me it's actually a desirable native plant. It is actually attractive and if you google it you'll see it's a very popular ground cover, but I defended myself with the old "A weed is a plant in the wrong place" and pointed out that it had eaten my entire garden. We don't know why it took over so completely although it was a warm, wet winter so maybe it was just perfect ajuga weather. Didn't take me that long to reclaim my bed from it, at least. I also thought it was interesting that there was no lambs'-quarters, which is technically a weed but quite tasty if lightly steamed or sauteed and frequently my first garden-grown greens in prior years. Not this year, though. Here was the bed the day of the Season Opener:

Here it was on Sunday after I'd weeded again and added the new soil. 

Daffodils all done. I was very happy to see that my bucket with rosemary and thyme made it through the winter. I used to have a rosemary bush, but Hurricane Sandy killed it, I've replanted pretty much every year since then but none of the new plants before this one survived the winter. I was also very happy to find that the lavender sprig I'd planted as an afterthought last year was doing well, it hadn't really done anything last year and it was so badly tangled in with the ajuga that I wasn't sure whether it was going to survive the weeding, but I had been as careful as I could and after a week of having some breathing space, it's actually looking like it might grow this year. It's the little green thing just to the side of the done daffodils - doesn't look like much but it's bigger than it had been, so I'm hopeful!  

All planted and cat-discouraging sticks laid out. 

I got one tomato (I'll do three but Dragonetti's didn't have much of a selection and the ones they had all came in sets of six where I'm after three different single plants, Union Square Greenmarket should be able to fix me up there), two peppers, and basil seedlings, plus pole bean, chard, and beet seeds - all in the ground now and hopefully getting enough rain for a good start this week! I missed my cukes last year but in the 2 or 3 years before there was some kind of cucumber disease, possibly downy mildew, that took out both plantings the same way - the plants would get off to a beautiful start, I would pick the first few cukes, and then spots would start to appear on the leaves and then within a couple of weeks it would all be over. Boy, if there's one thing growing vegetables for fun has made me appreciate, it's that I don't have to grow vegetables to live. Green beans went well as a replacement last year, last year I got bush beans by accident, this year I got pole beans - when you're doing a vegetable garden in a limited space, going vertical helps.  

A couple more flowers at the club - 

And here's Pat from the boatbuilding group testing the loadbearing capacity of the newly built boat hoist. Sebago's handsome new safety boat is nearing completion in the shed, and this will be used to assist in loading Canarsienne onto her trailer soon. In the meantime it apparently makes a great place to put your hammock. Happy Spring!