Thursday, September 28, 2017

CKS Paddlefest 2017 - Dane Jackson competing in the C-1 Preliminary (plus a shoutout to his sister!)

And here's a video of one of the runs I was having so much fun taking pictures of. This is Dane Jackson, son of super-famous whitewater guy Eric "EJ" Jackson, he probably can't remember the first time he was put in a boat! Each paddler gets 2 runs like this; Dane took 2nd place.

More about Dane!

Addendum a little later - Just did a quick trip back to YouTube because as a paddler who's a woman, I thought it would be nice to mention that Dane's sister Emily is also a kayak rockstar; went to find a supporting video and oh my gosh this one's incredible! She does a great job of explaining how the rodeo competition works and gets into how they actually do the tricks. But there's something extra-special going on...just go watch! BTW she was at the Paddlefest and won her event (pro women's K-1), we just weren't there to watch that. Would've been great!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Super ACTION Filler Post - CKS Paddlefest Men's C1 Rodeo Competition, 5/27 afternoon

Nah, nah, nah, just kidding - I'm still working like crazy wrapping up the September/early October reporting but this isn't a filler post in the same way as Sunday's was, where I thought "Hey, haven't posted for a few days, wonder if any of the pictures I took during the Saturday morning drive would be worth sharing?"

Colorado being SO scenic, it turned out they were. But that brings us up to something I've been looking forward to posting about since we got back - the CKS Paddlefest! I had so much fun taking pictures; in fact I took so many pictures I wasn't sure how I was going to break 'em down into posts, but I think I'll just do 'em in order, by event. To begin with, click here for a Flickr album with 24 action-packed photos from the Men's C-1 Semifinal. And yes, everything going on over there is completely intentional. 
The riverside viewing area probably got jammed for the finals at the end of the day, but with this being the semi-finals it wasn't too crazy yet and I eventually found myself a seat right next to the wave where they were doing their stuff! Enjoy!

This is a big Memorial Day paddling festival held every year in Buena Vista; the main producer is Colorado Kayak Supply, and the event features 3 days of all sorts of competitions, exhibitions, races, classes (mostly run by the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center, about which I shall rave more at a later date, they were awesome!), and more.

I found out about it through a very neat Facebook paddling group, the Church of the Double Bladed Paddle, which is a huge (23K members and growing) group, with members all over the world. The group is about sharing the fun of paddling and the love paddlers all have for our sport; it's very attentively managed, with a few simple rules being strictly enforced -- like no safety lectures; if somebody asks for advice it's always fine to give but no unsolicited lectures and especially no name-calling. The moderators are all experienced paddlers and will take down anything that's seriously dicey, and beyond that we all just agree to be a little tolerant of others. Every now and then something will start go off the rails, but the administrators are generally able to shut things down before they get too much like the argument that inspired the name of this blog.

Makes for a very nice and friendly online community, and it's a FANTASTIC resource if you're going someplace new - there are members all over the world and pretty much anywhere you're going, somebody's going to have good advice about paddling there. I'd asked about recommendations for the Denver area a couple of months before our trip, and one of the members, Mark W., a very nice guy who lived* in Colorado and loved doing whitewater, clued me in about the festival. TQ and I had originally planned to fly home on Friday the 26th, but fortunately we hadn't bought our plane tickets yet so it was no trouble to extend our stay by a couple of days.

The plan was to watch the rodeo competitions on Saturday, take a class ourselves on Sunday, and then drive back to a hotel near the airport on Sunday evening, catching a flight home early on Monday. That worked out perfectly.

We got to the rodeo competition during the pro semi-finals and watched the men's C-1 and junior women's K-1. TQ and I have whiled away a good many hours watching whitewater videos on youtube (I think we would do more of it if there was any closer to NYC, he loves it and my few attempts have been great, although I'm always terrified until I'm actually in the boat and having fun), and it was really neat to actually see it being done live and in person!


*Sadly, Mark W. passed away in a rafting accident a little later in the summer -- in a post about another paddler's passing, he talked about having had a mild heart attack a while ago, knowing that he might still be at risk, but choosing to accept that risk and continue paddling because paddling brought him so much joy. I was so glad I had at least been able to thank him, share a few shots from the paddlefest, and let him know what a wonderful time we had before he passed away. Miss him very much even though I only knew him through the group -- he didn't post that much but the occasional things he chose to share tended to be quite beautiful and you could just sense a very kind and thoughtful person was on the other end of the keyboard. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Super Scenic Filler Post - Colorado May 27th, Breckenridge to Buena Vista

September rattles on into the final week, with the usual work craziness threatening to slop over into October, so here's some more pictures from Colorado! The drive from Breckenridge to Buena Vista was through more drop-dead gorgeous mountain scenery, and we went through some pretty cool weather too - I suspect Colorado is one of those places where they say "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes".

Colorado must also be a great place to be a biker of either ilk - human powered or motor-driven.

We got to Buena Vista in the early afternoon, as planned. It actually took us a little while to find the festival we were there for, as our first inquiries at the town information center got us directions to McPhelemy Park in the middle of town; there was a pond there where there were vendors set up offering kayak and paddleboard tryouts, promising but not quite what we were after. There was a food truck there selling sandwiches and wraps, and we were ready for lunch at this point, so we took advantage of that, then one of the folks at the park told us where the competitions we were hoping to catch were being held and we set off again.

Somehow it wasn't hard to tell when we'd gotten to the right place!

More pictures, not a whole lot, click on the first one for a slide show view.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Feast of San Gennaro 2017 - 91st annual!

The September rush at work carries on as it always does, with so much work piling up I don't know how I'm going to get through it, except that it always does and I always do, but last night I did manage to leave at a slightly less than heinous hour and decided to treat myself to some Italian street festival goodies at the 91st Annual Feast of San Gennaro. The stands for the festival run down several blocks of Mulberry Street starting right up near where I work, so it's really easy to just walk through a few blocks on my way to the Grand Street subway stations. I usually don't like big crowds but it's generally not too bad on one of the midweek evenings.

I got myself a braciole and a couple of zeppole (so happy to find a booth where they sell 'em individually for a dollar each, mostly they're sold in bags of 6 which is about 4 more than I need!), and stopped to listen to the live music that's always part of this event. Last night's group was The Devotions, good ol' doo-wop, people up swing dancing, seating area full of people bouncing to the beat, I could just feel the day's stress sloughing away in the fun atmosphere. Great stuff.

I listened for a couple of songs and then started off for the subway station, thinking "Well, that was fun, too bad I don't have my camera", when I suddenly realized that I did! TQ and I had met some old friends of my family at the Tenement Museum on Monday, and of course I'd brought my camera for that, but then it turned out that they didn't allow photography inside. I'd taken a few outside but hadn't rushed to get them onto my home computer the way I usually do, so the camera was still in the bag and charged. So, about face, and once more into the breach dear friends once more! This time I was mostly about getting some good photos without being all night about it (Tuesday night was a very late one at work and I was tired), but of course one of the lovely ladies at the Ferrara's booth was so nice about my picture taking I ended up getting a cannoli too. Delicious!

Funny thing too about having just been to the Tenement Museum -- I always enjoy the Feast, but I actually think that I enjoyed it more than usual this year with all of the immigrant stories from the museum in mind. According to the history page on, the festival celebrates the patron saint of the city of Naples , and was begun by immigrants newly arrived from that city in 1926 who wanted to continue the tradition they'd always followed in Italy. Amazing the way the tradition took root here and grew -- I bet those original immigrants would've been proud.

 And here are the photos I went back for. Enjoy! Click for a slideshow view. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Breckenridge, Colorado, May 26, 2017

One more look at Clear Creek in Georgetown, Colorado

Having reminded myself in my last post that I had some catching up to do on our last few days in Colorado (which were quite glorious), here's the first catch-up post. In my last Colorado post, we'd begun our drive from Lafayette to Buena Vista, and I'd gleefully dragged TQ off on a scenic train ride, which was not part of our original plans but I kinda love old steam trains, and I'd been looking at this one with a lot of interest as a possible day trip from Lafayette but written it off as a little too far, so when I realized we were driving right past it (and I was driving) I just couldn't resist. 

After that we headed on for the day's final destination of Breckenridge, which had looked to me like the perfect place to spend the night on the way to the CKS Paddlefest - and indeed it was. Click here for a Flickr album from Breckenridge - such a pretty town deserves full-sized photos! 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pie Night at Dominique Ansel Kitchen

Jeeze, I have been doing so many fun things lately - kind of making up for the less-great-than-hoped-for summer, but unfortunately I'm in the usual September stress-out time at work, and with a couple of additional projects going on, so I haven't been keeping up with the blogging. Boo!

So there will be some catching up to, even more catching up to do, I haven't even finished Colorado, and then there was Indiana, and now there's more...well, better to be doing too much fun stuff to keep up with than not, right?

Tonight, I wanted to just toss up a quick post about a spectacular food thing that my spectacular-food-loving friend M. finally got me to go to - Pie Night at the Dominique Ansel Kitchen!

I think she's been trying to get me to do this for a couple of years. The first year, they only did one night and it was like winning Lotto to get a ticket. The second year, the menu didn't quite speak to me - I love pie, but the idea of Pie Night is that you get an hour to eat all the pie you want, and M. thinks that the menu was heavily slanted towards the dessert pies with only one or two savory pies, and I do remember thinking that might be more dessert than I could handle (I have quite a sweet tooth but there are limits).

This year, it was four savory pies (oxtail, Old Bay crab pot pie, ham and fontina, and a mushroom cottage pie) and five dessert pies (classic apple, chocolate horchata, plum blackberry almond, peanut butter, and a honey clementine orange blossom cream pie). That was perfect! Mandy was able to nab us a pair of tickets, and oh my, it was WONDERFUL. The only pie I wasn't absolutely crazy about was the mushroom cottage pie, which I should have stayed away from because I'm generally not crazy about mushrooms, and with so many other varieties I should've skipped that one to save room for more of something else.

The pies were great, the mulled wine was delicious and free-flowing, and the service was just fantastic. M. has been having some mobility issues recently (hopefully temporary); the staff couldn't have been more accommodating, first making sure that we got a table right by the door, then bringing her plates of pie so she didn't have to wait in line. And they were so pleasant all the way through -- we were the second seating on Wednesday night, and it's a very popular event, so it's a fast-paced and probably stressful evening for the staff, but they were cheerful and friendly to everyone all the way through.

And did I mention that the pies were great? YUM.

Here are some photos - I forgot my camera but M. let me use her iphone.

Hope this becomes one of our annual things!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dust to Deliverance Book Launch/Reading Suggestion (Jessica DuLong on the 9/11 Boatlift)

For anyone who's read my 9/11 story, you know that after I fled the WTC by subway, I spent the rest of the day at Pier 63 Maritime, where owner John Krevey (now sorely missed after a heart attack some years later took him from us far too young) was able to call in some of the charter boats that would use the barge as a boarding spot to come evacuate people from Manhattan. That effort was part of a much larger one that happened all over the Manhattan waterfront, especially downtown - the maritime community was in a unique position to help those who were trapped in Manhattan when transportation shut down after the attack, and so many did. I will always be grateful that I was able to spend the day helping that way, it was the best thing I could have done after the morning was shattered.

 Jessica DuLong, who I met during my Pier 63 days, is part of the team on the Fireboat John J. Harvey, who went to help with quenching the fires in the ruins beginning that day and staying for many more. In addition to being an engineer on the fireboat, she's a very good author. 
 I loved her first book, My River Chronicles: Rediscovering America On The Hudson, in which she tells the story of how she went from working for a dot com company to being an engineer on an antique fireboat and shares reflections on the Hudson River, industrial history, and the changing role of physical labor in America.

Her next project
 has been a book about the boatlift of 9/11. It should be fascinating. It's been a long and sometimes grueling process for her, interviewing so many people who were involved and sorting through memories that are still very raw for people who were there that day, but she stuck with it and tonight I'm looking forward to attending the book launch for Dust to Deliverance: Untold Stories from the Maritime Evacuation on September 11th.

Sorry about the late notice but on the infinitesimal chance that you are a NYC-area person looking for something very interesting to do tonight, click here for details on the fireboat's website. 7:30 pm. And even if you can't, well, I ordinarily wouldn't recommend a book I haven't read yet, but I know this one will be good.

And while I'm on the topic of the boatlift - here is a video that's always worth sharing again.

Monday, September 11, 2017

9/11 post - views from four boats

With 9/11 falling after this wonderful Triple Cup Weekend, racing and celebrating the water with friends from Sebago, Yonkers, Inwood, and the North Brooklyn Boat Club, my mind is reeling a little bit thinking about how if that day had gone differently, I never would have had the chance to meet so many people who are so important to me today.

 I'm so glad I did.

Love you NY and the local boating community. WTC and Tribute in Light seen from four different boats.

My own 9/11 story.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Sunset Sail on the Schooner America 2.0

Boy, I go from thinking maybe I should let the blog have a summer hiatus because I'm not doing anything fun, to having so many things I want to share that I hardly know where to start. So many pictures, in particular -- there was the trip to the midwest, last weekend was the tugboat race, and then this weekend is the weekend of three cups - the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club Mayor's Cup, the final races of the Joe Glickman Cup, and then tomorrow it's the annual Sebago Cup cruising race, which I'm in but doing something a little different from my usual Sunfish this year. Should be fun!

Tons of pix to share, if I ever finish sorting them, but I'm going to start with a Flickr album of pix from a sail I took last week after the 25th annual Great North River Tugboat Race and Skills Contest (which tons of fun, as always, and my first time volunteering, so extra neat). After enjoying a post-race drink with some of the other volunteers, I decided to run down to Classic Harbor Lines at Chelsea Piers and see if I could get on the 4:00 sail. I would've if they'd still had a sail at 4:00. but they've scooted their trip times forward a little bit as the sunset is creeping up to an earlier and earlier time.

I ended up with a choice - 4:00 architecture tour on the M.V. Manhattan, 6:00 sail on the Adirondack (the schooner I used to work on back when I was part-time crew for them), or a 6:30 sail on the America 2.0, with my old friend Capt. Kat, who was one of my skippers back then. That was a bit of a wait, but I had a book, some errands, and a bit of a yearning for a nap, so that wasn't a problem. I was glad I did, it's always wonderful to sail with Kat, I actually hadn't been on the America 2.0 before so it was about time, and then the sunset was just heavenly. A sample phot above, and here's a Flickr album - it was too beautiful a night (and too many pictures) to just do blogger uploads! Enjoy!

Friday, September 08, 2017

Friday reflection

Sunset, 1/21/2015, Ensenada Honda, Vieques. We had the bay entirely to ourselves, and I think this was where I went up on deck in the middle of the night to find things so still that the stars in the sky were perfectly reflected on the mirror of the bay and it was as though our boat was floating in a sphere of stars.

Thinking of this beautiful place and those who are and have been in the path of Irma (and possibly Jose). So awful seeing all that's happened down there.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Can students return a billion oysters to a New York harbor?

Can students return a billion oysters to a New York harbor?: Oysters were once abundant in New York City, but decades of over-harvesting and pollution led to their near-extinction there.

Nice video from PBS (that's their tagline above), worth a quick share. We've had an oyster cage on the dock at Sebago for a while and earlier this week I saw a post from one of my paddling friends that the Billion Oyster Project will officially be coming to Sebago soon!

Friday morning update - Look in the comments for more details about the Sebago project, from clubmate Jeff K. Great stuff, very exciting. Also, we have 8 oyster cages on the dock, not 1! 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Lau Hala weaving workshop with Paula Fuga

So it didn't get off to the start I'd hoped for, but somewhere around my road trip to Ithaca, my summer 2017 got back on track. The week before Labor Day and Labor Day weekend were especially rich - I had a wonderful trip to Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan for the wedding of a cousin once removed, that's where the lake I showed a couple of days ago in the "Not Brooklyn" post was, and then I came back to a reasonably quiet couple of days at work, with time for cheesemaking one night and a wonderful lau hala weaving workshop another night.

The weaving workshop was sponsored by Hālāwai. I am so glad to have gotten more involved with this excellent not-for-profit dedicated to sharing Hawaiian culture in NYC last year while helping out with welcoming the voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa to NYC during her around-the-world Mālama Honua voyage. I'd known about them for years but only ever made it to a couple of the Hawai'i picnics before; now I'm much more in the loop about what's going on and I was delighted when this workshop popped up on my Facebook feed.

Our kumu (teacher) for the evening was Paula Fuga; she's a highly regarded musician and this was the 3rd of 3 events she was doing during this visit to NYC. The first was a concert, the second a songwriting/storytelling/ukulele workshop that I told some of my musically inclined friends about, because it sounded great. I couldn't attend either of those because they happened while I was at the wedding, but this one was the day after I got back, nice to have something to look forward to right after the family vacation!

It ended up being such a good evening, Paula is an excellent teacher and it was such a nice group that gathered to learn from her. Lau hala weaving is a hobby of Paula's and she thought it would be fun to teach this while she was here. She'd actually put together kits for us with the leaves all prepared for the weaving - she told us that she'd done this for all of the friends and family at her own wedding, too, and that the leaves we would be using were from the very same tree. That makes these so special!

This workshop was also special to me for a personal reason. This is actually the second time I've made a lau hala bracelet; the first time was at the Bishop Museum on O'ahu when I was back for my 30th 'Iolani class reunion. I never finished blogging about that trip, I made it through Day 4 (a two-post report because I had had too good a day to squeeze everything into one). In the second Day 4 post, I made a vague reference to September going like a runaway train "as usual, and then some", but added that I wasn't ready to talk about it and then went cheerfully off into that day's selection of fun in Hawai'i.

The "and then some" part was of course dealing with breast cancer. Once you've figured out you have that, boy do you get busy, so many things to do and all of them time sensitive. After that Day 4 report, the blogging petered off to a trickle up until after October as I scrambled to get through all of the medical appointments plus all of the work that I wanted to get done before I was out for three weeks (suggested recovery time for the type of mastectomy I had). Never circled back to share the rest of the trip after that, but my afternoon at the Bishop Museum was one of the things that I would've gotten to if everything hadn't gone so horribly awry with my health.

The bracelet making there was part of an exhibit they'd had about the importance of lau hala and weaving in Hawaiian life - so many things could be made from the tough yet flexible leaf (lau) of the pandanus tree (hala) (I didn't actually know the distinction until Paula started off her worksho by telling us a little about the materials we would be using - always interesting to learn something new like that).

sailing canoe with woven sail 

model wa'a kaulua (double-hulled canoe) with woven sails

The exhibit was over (the canoes above were part of the regular exhibits, I added them in here because thought they were a great example of the sheer working utility of Hawaiian weaving) and the gallery that had housed it was closed while it was being taken down, but museum staff member Moses Goods was still teaching visitors to weave a lau hala bracelet. 

I always enjoy making things with my hands, so I decided to participate. Moses started out by telling us about the Hawaiian understanding that when you create something, you should be mindful of your thoughts and feelings and surroundings, because those all become part of what you are making. 


So I ended up with this bracelet that when I look at it or wear it, I think of how happy I was to be there in da 'aina, in a place I'd loved when I was a kid and still do today, making something under the eye of someone so willing to share his skill and knowledge with visitors...but then there was also the sickness hidden away in me, even though I didn't know it yet. I found the lump shortly after I got back to NYC - still grateful I didn't find it before or during the trip, wouldn't have made any difference if I'd found it sooner except to fill an amazing visit to a place that will always feel like home with worry. The bracelet I made that day always reminds me of that whole intense shift from the beauty of the trip to the shock of finding the lump and then the intent march through diagnosis and on into treatment.

The one I made at Paula's workshop just seems to balance that. I've just passed the 2 year mark of discovery and diagnoses and of course that's marked with all of my doctors wanting to see how I'm doing - and the general consensus is that everything's good, I'm as healthy as a horse and likely to continue being that way for the foreseeable future. You're not considered to be entirely in the clear until 5 years later, but so far so good, definitely. And I sat there in the classroom in Manhattan, thinking how happy I was to be there in good health, with friends all around, weaving this second bracelet under Paula and Kapena's guidance. For a second when she was passing out the kits, I thought it was going to be the same bracelet - but it turned out to be somewhat similar as far as size and simplicity (both were attractive yet simple patterns, perfect for inexperienced weavers), but quite a different pattern. A complementary set, one for before and one for after, without anyone having planned it at all.

Very neat. I was so glad I was able to go. 

Here are some pictures from the workshop, you can see how much fun we had - click for a slideshow view - and then down at the end there's a link to a page about Paula that you might enjoy. 
And here's a link to Hawaiian footwear company OluKai's "Walk Story" (play on "talk story") featuring Paula - it's a nice little intro with a lovely song. They talk about her Motown influence - well, she was pretty excited about her Labor Day weekend plans - she was going to go hear Aretha Franklin sing!