Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween greetings from NYC. I'm fine.

Halloween greetings from NYC. Here was the last stop-motion I did before the software I was using crashed my computer and put an end to that. I bought the computer with no plans beyond emailing, blogging, and surfing the net, I think the animation program just overwhelmed it. It was fun while it lasted, though! 

I mostly wanted to put up a quick post to let folks know I'm OK; I work in SoHo, which is not too far from where it happened, but I was safely working away in my cubicle when it all happened. So sad for those who were hurt, and for the families and friends of those who were lost.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Just Another Day At Work, Ho-Hum

So I don't talk about work too much, aside from complaining about having too much, but for anyone who wonders what it's like working in children's publishing, here's a sample. Just another day at Scholastic, ho hum.

Off to the meeting, same as we do every day, yup...

The boss gathered the managers for an emergency meeting and said "Epic agility. Skate to where the puck is going to be."*
NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH Just kidding! Halloween is definitely my favorite holiday at Scholastic - we have an annual costume contest, and although the trade finance team (my division) doesn't join in on it, I absolutely LOVE watching it. We of course have some ridiculously talented and creative people working here, and the costumes they come up with amaze me every year. The only guidelines are that the costumes have to be related to children's books, and just to add the finishing touch of spookiness, Goosebumps author R.L. Stine himself is always one of our judges! Tons of fun, and believe it or not, all of these costumes are made by the participants just for the contest. 

*Business gobbledygook provided by the WSJ Business Buzzwords Generator

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October Paddle 1 - Broad Channel Island Circ, with Subways and a Solar Halo

October's given us some very weird weather, wavering from summer to fall and back again repeatedly. You have to check the weather every day to know what to wear outside (I've generally been failing on the over-dressed side and ending up sweltering outside), and I swear I have gone back and forth from sleeping in flannel pajamas under a blanket to pulling out the summertime nightshirt and turning on the window fan five times. Right now the windows at home are closed, but the window fan is sitting out ready to go again if needed!

Fortunately for me and my paddling friends with the standard business week jobs, the warm swings have been most conveniently running through the weekends, allowing for some really nice post-season activities at the club. We kicked off the month with the October 1st Trash Bash; the following weekend clubmates Lori and Frank led a good trip out around Broad Channel Island, and then last Sunday TQ and took out a cousin of one of our sailing committee friends. That was great because I'd actually worked at the office on Saturday and probably would've given myself a lazy-day-at-home pass on Sunday, but it was a gorgeous day and the cousin was an experienced paddler and a pleasure to paddle with. It's actually really fun to take somebody out on Jamaica Bay for the first time because I get to inflict ALL OF MY J-BAY TRIVIA on them, muahahahaaaa.  Another neat thing was that the cousin was a retired meteorologist and when I asked him about the clouds (we had a beautiful mackerel sky that day), he didn't just give us the proper name for it, he basically gave us a 3-day weather forecast on the spot, which ended up being exactly what happened, too. Jumping ahead a bit here though, I'll have a few pix from that paddle another day.

October 7th was a nice warm day, in the 70's, and I actually went to the club not knowing exactly what the plan for the day was, just knowing that the leaders were two people with whom I always enjoy paddling and that I could expect a pretty nice day out there. We ended up doing a loop out and around Broad Channel Island, with one quick stop at the beach at the northern tip of the island and then a lunch break at an islet/sandbar off of the southern end.

I did some rolling during the first break, rather than stretching my legs - I've been frustratingly slow to really regain my confidence in that manuever after having that mastectomy a little over 2 years ago, it's really stupid because I'm fully recovered and back to doing everything I did before that, but somehow I still have a hint of timidity about the rolling. I need to do it more, that's all, unfortunately practice was a bit limited this summer because we had a lot of rain, which fouls up the water quality, but on the 7th I got a whole good string in with both Greenland and euro paddles. The water was cooling down, but I'd worn wetsuit shorts and top because I wanted to be able to play comfortably, and it ended up feeling very nice. I was a little cool during the lunch break but it was worth it! Have to try to hit more pool sessions this winter, that's a good way to get tuned up when the roll isn't feeling as solid as it once was.

A couple of other fun things -

1. As mentioned in the last post, the brants are back. The first of the brant pictures in that post were from the 7th, as well as the cormorants with the Manhattan skyline in the distance. It was sort of strange hearing the calls of this winter resident on a day that felt pretty summery, but I really do enjoy watching the birds come and go - that's part of the fun of paddling the same area regularly, you get to see the cycles so well, at a level of detail that folks who don't get outside regularly might not get to see, especially here in NYC.
2. There was a solar halo during the first part of the paddle! It's funny, you can see it already in the first picture below, where we're just leaving the Paerdegat, but I didn't notice it until a couple of miles into the paddle, just past Canarsie Pol. Here's a good article about what makes those happen (with a ton of better pictures than mine).
3. For some reason I never cease to be entertained by paddling under a subway trestle in the middle of a national park. Reminds you that yes, you really are still in the middle of New York City.

Beautiful day, fourteen and a half miles or so. More photos on Flickr - solar halo, subway, and a couple of other favorites below. Click for a slideshow view!  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

cormorants cormorants brants brants brants

Work is a bit overwhelming right now but here are some good J-Bay birds. 

The brants are winter birds for Jamaica Bay. They've been getting back from their northern nesting grounds for a couple of weeks now, and even though it's been weirdly warm, hearing their "hrrnk hrrnk hrrnk" calls out there makes it feel like fall. Like the oystercatcher's "wheet wheet Wheetwheetwheetwheetwheet" promises Spring even on the iciest day in March. Much better than robins as seasonal indicators for this area, robins (or at least some of the robins) stick around all winter. 

And the cormorants are just really good at posing. 

Definitely click for slideshow view, there's an NYC skyline in one that gets downplayed in the smaller main page pictures.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

One of the Chihuly Nights at the New York Botanical Garden

Pretty darned good weekend for me here in NYC. Dinner with TQ on Friday night; Saturday there was brunch with a friend with whom I've been wanting to catch up for ages, with a stop at the library on the way, followed by a few hours of lounging on the Evil Futon of Nap, alternately reading the copy of Carl Hiaasen's Bad Monkey that I'd checked out in the morning and dozing (that is how the Evil Futon of Nap got its name - if you lounge on it properly you are almost guaranteed to drift off, it's that comfy). Around 4:00 I collected myself and headed out to meet a friend at Grand Central Station; we splurged on dinner at the Grand Central Oyster Bar and then caught a Metro North train out to the New York Botanical Garden for one of the night viewings of the Dale Chihuly installation that's at the garden through October 29th.

For anyone not familiar with that name, Chihuly is a rock-star level glass artist who specializes in large-scale works, frequently with a very organic feel to them. The garden had last hosted a Chihuly exhibit in 2006. My folks had stopped in for a visit while that one was on. My mom and I went one day while my dad had gone off to a tower bell thing a ways away from the city, we had to scramble a bit to get there (2006 visit post here), but it was neat enough that my mom then went with my dad to one of the night exhibits when the artworks are all dramatically lit. I have no recollection why I didn't join them, but they were very enthusiastic about it, so when I found out there was going to be a new Chihuly exhibit this year, I recommended a night visit to a friend who I knew would enjoy it. She and I and another friend went last night, and it was indeed quite spectacular! Click here for a Flickr album. For more information about the exhibit, visit NYBG.org.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

My Making Strides Against Breast Cancer page

March 2016, three-quarters of the way through chemo and still paddlin' on!

Just a quick post to re-share the link to my Making Strides page, since I completely buried it at the very end of yesterday's rather long and meandering post. Click here to visit. Thanks!  

Sunday, October 08, 2017

2 Years Ago Today

This photo was actually exactly one month after two years ago today - November 8th, 2015.

Two years ago today, I had a mastectomy. I'd had the best trip to Oahu for my 30th high school reunion at the end of July. I think it was just a week or two later that I found a lump. It did turn out to be cancer. It turned out to not be aggressive, so there wasn't a giant rush, but it did need to go. At this hour of night on October 8th, 2015, I was in a hospital bed, uncomfortably trying to sleep on my right side (I've been a habitual left-side sleeper for all of my life, so that was hard) so as to stay off of my suture.

 I'm still absolutely amazed that one month later I was back on the water again. It wasn't a long paddle and it wasn't a fast paddle but oh, it was wonderful. If you ever asked me to list my top 10 most memorable paddles, just off the top of my head, I think this would be one of the first ones I thought of.

Once again, I'm so grateful that for catching it when I did*, for my good insurance, for the great medical team at NYU Langone who were so good that I was barely even scared (the scariest time was actually between finding the lump and diagnosis, once they brought me in to tell me the results, they were so quick to go from "Yes, you have cancer" to why everything was probably going to be fine that the fear level just intantly dropped) - and for the friends and family who helped me get through it (especially Sebago clubmate Barbara who helped me through the whole process, and of course TQ, who took a week off to care for me after my surgery and never flinched at anything, but there were lots of others who helped me through it and I'm grateful to all of you).

I've been known to say that my run-in with breast cancer was more of a hassle than an ordeal, and I'm so glad that was true. I'm not all the way back in shape yet but yesterday I joined friends at the club for a 15 mile paddle with a good number of rolls partway through, and everything felt pretty darned good.

Now next Sunday, Barbara and I will be joining Allyson Howard, a friend and fellow survivor who I met through my Spring dips with the Coney Island Polar Bears, at the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, the Coney Island edition. I am the worst fundraiser in the world (I was too shy to even sell Girl Scout cookies when I was a Girl Scout, it's really too bad I didn't understand that grownups LOVE buying Girl Scout cookies - I now hover around people I know who are parents of Girl Scouts in eager anticipation of the next chance to score me some Thin Mints and those wonderful new lemony ones - I really didn't get that when I was the one doing the selling, though) and I jumped into this late, but I'm going to give it a try here. Want to help Team Booby Prize raise some money? Click here! And THANK YOU!

* Note for women friends: Even if you are good about getting your annual mammograms, don't forget the self-exams -- my April 2015 mammogram didn't catch my tumour (there was something on there that in hindsight may have been the early signs, but the science isn't perfect), and I wasn't good about doing my self-exams once a month, which is the recommended frequency, and probably would have found my lump sooner if I had been. As things worked out, I didn't pay for the delay (in fact quite the contrary, I found it the week after I'd gotten back from a trip back to Oahu for my 30th 'Iolani reunion, which was absolutely wonderful and wouldn't have been nearly as nice if I'd been worrying about this), because of the nature of my particular tumour, the treatment probably would've been the same if I'd caught it one or two months sooner, but I was very, very lucky.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

How To Make A Hiking Trail (link)

A steep and stony bit from one of my favorite Escape from Black Friday trails, at Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, CT. 

Well, if I'd spent as much time this week blogging as I spent debating the 2nd Amendment on Facebook (squeezed in between close week duties at work, of course), it would've been a magnificent week here at Frogma. Too bad Facebook debates are pretty much a sheer waste of time - has anybody ever changed their mind because of an eloquent response to a challenging post? Probably not, but I was just so aggravated by people who could look at something like the Vegas shooting and not want to do anything about it. Gave in to the urge to argue it out with a couple of people.

No minds changed of course - the main person I was debating with, his mind is set in stone, I knew that, he's actually family and I've got some idea of the strength of his convictions, so I can't really blame anyone but myself if that was wasted time - but I did do a fair amount of reading up on the issues, and I guess it was good to get my thoughts in order on the matter. And I guess it was interesting seeing the rationales offered by folks on the other side of the issue - didn't make sense to me but at least I took the time to read their arguments. Wasn't comforting, in fact quite the reverse, but maybe it's good to know a little more about where such folks are coming from. 

Anyways - I threw all of my writing that way this week, but fortunately I had another idea for a post anyways, courtesy of a Facebook group for middle-aged women bloggers that my friend Pia, who's been writing her Courting Destiny blog for I think even longer than I've been writing Frogma (well over a decade now, can you believe it?) introduced me to. I doubt I would've ever checked it out without her, even though I am a middle-aged woman blogger myself I would've assumed that I would be a bit too odd of a bird to fit in there, but since she's an adventurous, independent single type herself, I gave it a try and found it to be a really lovely group of women. We have daily posts where you can put up a post of your own or anything else you want to share, with the idea that you'll visit two or three yourself.

Yesterday, among the posts was one titled "Buckeye Trail Building In The Wayne". Loving a good hike myself, I had to go check it out, and it was really fascinating! I've hiked a lot of trails but you know, I don't think I ever really thought about what went in to getting those trails ready for hikers to use. Turns out to be really quite a process - next hike I'll be looking at the trail with a little more appreciation for what's been done to make it! I hope you enjoy this excellent post from Kim Today, Midlife Adventurer!  Thanks, Kim! 

Monday, October 02, 2017

Sebago Canoe Club Trash Bash 2017

Organizer Jeff suggests an approach to the stretch of shoreline we'd be cleaning

On Sunday, October 1, a beautiful day that, while warm, was finally starting to feel a little like Fall, Sebago Canoe Club and a whole bunch of Boy Scouts joined in on the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup. Sebago folks went on foot to the shoreline of Canarsie Park, while the Boy Scouts set out in a flotilla of canoes for the opposite shore. We cleaned for a couple of hours.

The amount of trash is overwhelming and we'll never get all of it, but the idea here is more about statistics - we divided into small teams and each team logs what we picked up. The Ocean Conservancy compiles the data from cleanups all over the world and that helps guide recommendations for policies and legislation that can actually help. And by the end of the day, I think our efforts did actually leave the section of the Paerdegat that we worked on noticeably cleaner. Of course I assigned myself "official photographer" duty - click here to visit the Flickr album of the day's activity.