Saturday, March 30, 2019

such a shame...

such a shame that all of NYC is so hectic and crazy

click for better view

Pelham Bay Park, The Bronx, 3/30/2019
another great Sebago hike
many more pix to come of course!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Spring Haiku

brooklyn crocuses 
glow amid last winter's gray 
Colors sing of spring

Thursday, March 28, 2019


Yeeaaahhhhh BROOKLYN! Who's ready for SUMMER???

Just a quick post today to share this FABULOUSNESS from my sister. She lives in Austin and here's what she had to say about 'em: 

"From Brooklyn, playing in Austin this weekend at the HONK! TX Festival of Community Street Bands, it's gonna be GREAT!"

Dang. Cracks me up that I learned about 'em via Texas. But Austin and my sister are cool that way.

HONK! Texas

HONK! NYC (happens in the fall, not yet updated for 2019)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Barren Island Hike, 3/16/2019

OMG, so many duties and distractions in March. I do want to get some more posts up about a really special event we had at Sebago weekend before last before March just completely dribbles away. Couldn't resist that sneak preview of last weekend's fun, though, I'd asked Gianni to take that picture of the 3 of us in our Nigel Dennis Romanys because I love the way a set of Romanys look together and I also absolutely love those 2 other "Romany Gals" - they're wonderful women and it was so nice to be on the water with them again.

But back to Barren Island today!

The main event of the day was actually Sebago's first ever (but hopefully not last) Book Club gathering. Clubmate Shari kicked it off in January when she ran across the book Barren Island, by Carol Zoref. She mentioned it on the club's Google group, suggesting that we all read the book over the winter and then do a paddle to the area in the summertime. Another member suggested adding a book club type discussion at the club much sooner. This was all met with wild enthusiasm and then Shari, being fearless, invited the author to come to the club for a reading/book signing/discussion. Well, WOW. I love it so much when my enthusiasms overlap this way!

And then, to make things even better, Jeff K. had the great idea of leading a hike on Barren Island in the morning on the same day.

Barren Island isn't actually an island anymore. The channels and marshes that separated it from Brooklyn were long ago filled in and the area became Floyd Bennett Field (now part of the Jamaica Bay unit of the National Parks Service's Gateway Recreation Area, hurray!), but it's still there on the nautical chart, as you can see here.

We parked just inside the Aviation Rd. gate to Floyd Bennett Field proper, then crossed Flatbush Avenue over to the trails that take you down to the beach. Jeff told us some of the area's history and then we headed for the shore. It wasn't the longest hike we've ever done distance-wise, coming in at a little under a mile and a half - but with so much interesting stuff to see, what's the rush? And what a beautiful morning for poking around on shore. A little cool and blustery but if you had the right clothes (wind pants were kind of crucial) and maybe a thermos of something hot, just lovely.

Here's the first of 2 sets of photos I'll share; I thought I would start with the scenery. That's it for the writeup, so click on the first photo for a slideshow view. Don't miss the Manhattan skyline in one of the photos, it was a beautifully clear day! 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Romany gals!

Romany gals, won'tcha come out today,
come out today, come out today,
Romany gals, won'tcha come out today,
And dance on Jamaica Bay?

Thanks to Gianni for the photo and Lori G. for getting some folks together for a trip around the Pol!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dead Horse Bay news feature

Note - Reposting this, from a while back, as as soon as I have time to blog again (it's March, always rough) I'm going to be posting about a hike Sebago did here last weekend, and a wonderful afternoon book talk by the author of a really amazing work of historical fiction set in the same area. 

Bonus Dead Horse Bay post:

Yesterday, my friend Jeff K shared a ABC News Feature about Dead Horse Bay in the comments on my post about our Black Friday hike there. I watched the feature last night and had to share. It give details and angles that are quite new to me (for starters, I'd never heard the Robert Moses aspect before, and I never in a million years would've imagined that there was any issue with beachcombing there). It's completely fascinating, and I particularly enjoyed it when a familiar face appeared on screen - there's an appearance by Ranger Lincoln from Floyd Bennett Field, who led the excellent Historic Aircraft Restoration Project tour that Sebago members
joined this summer.

Click here to view.

Thank you so much for sharing this, Jeff! 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Calm Before the Storm Paddle, 3/3

click for a better view. SO calm! I put up more photos from this lovely day in a Flickr album, link at the end of the post.

Well, to use a useful Norwegian phrase Steve the Paddling Chef likes to use - uff da! I've been meaning to do this post on my lunch break since I posted one photo from the paddle midway through last week, but work blew up on me as it tends to do in March and there just weren't lunch breaks, there was just reporting reporting reporting. Anyways, finally home at a decent hour tonight so quick quick, before there's another fun Sebago Canoe Club activity to report (and we have a great one planned for tomorrow, in fact!), here's my March 3rd paddle trip report.

The paddle before, when I went to the airport and watched the planes take off, I ended up going on my own. I decided on an antisocial paddle for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that I was just getting over a cold and I really didn't know how my energy level would be. Well, I got on the water and it felt great and I ended up doing another 13 mile paddle, so when I looked at the weather for the 3rd and saw a similarly pleasant and placid weather window in the afternoon before things started kicking up later as the weather that was supposedly going to dump 3 to 5 inches of snow on NYC started moving into the area, I decide to call for pretty much the same paddle. The currents more or less switch directions each weekend, so this time it was going to be better to head out towards Coney Island, but other than that, all the same. 13 miles or so, moving at a steady clip, water/tea/snack breaks in the boats, no shore breaks unless somebody really needed one. Just a good exercise paddle. Move some water under the boat and put some fresh air in the lungs.

I'd posted it the day before and was totally ready to go on my own if nobody could come at such short notice, but it turned out that clubmate Larry and a friend from the Long Island City Community Boathouse had had a Sandy Hook seal paddle fall through on them at the last minute and had decided to go out in Jamaica Bay instead - Mike had only been out on Jamaica Bay once and that had been much earlier in his paddling career, when he'd come to one of our all club invitational day, so he was definitely ready to come see more. Larry saw that I was looking for company and let me know their plans, so we all met up at the club. They hadn't had anything specific in mind ("Just get the blades wet", Mike said), so we went with my plan to just ride the ebb out of the bay and turn around after the flood got going. Their loss in losing out on the seal paddle was my good fortune, it was great paddling with them.

It was absolutely gorgeous. It got up into the low 40's, the wind died down to pretty much nothing by the time we passed the Marine Park Bridge and the lower harbor was an absolute mirror for a while. I was looking and listening for the first oystercatcher of Spring, but if they're here they weren't where we were, but there were some nice winter birds - the usual brants, a pair of grebes just inside the bridge, and then as we got out from under the bridge we started hearing long-tailed ducks calling to each other - we were hugging the shore and they were further out, so I didn't see them, but their three toned, four note call (ha, ha-ha-ha, with the first two notes the same and then raising in pitch) is so distinctive (and quite lovely, to my ear). There were also some loons, no photos of them either but they were easy to spot on the lake-like water and their laughter punctuated the distant longtail calls.

We kept going at a steady pace out to Kingsborough Community College, just outside Sheepshead Bay, pausing there to admire the lower harbor before we headed back. We all had some tea, and Mike brought out some muffins he'd brought along (much better than the Kind Bar I had in my life jacket, so that's back in the snack dish at home), and then we headed back to Sebago.

Mike and I stopped again for a little while just after the bridge - as we were all paddling along, a merganser started to take off, then stopped and settled back onto the water. I thought she'd just decided we weren't that scary after all, but Mike though he'd seen something hanging off of her. We went back to look and she tried to take off again, and sure enough she had some fishing line or something tangled around one of her feet, so we spent a few minutes trying to see if she would let us catch up to her and help her. Well, she wasn't having any of that - she couldn't fly and she couldn't dive as well as a merganser usually can but she had absolutely no problem evading us in our relatively poky boats, and it didn't seem like just chasing her around until she was exhausted was the right way to do it. Sad to leave her like that but I'm friends with one of the Floyd Bennett Field rangers, and there's also a club member who volunteers for Audobon as a wild bird rescuer (I found that out after I posted about finding a poor stunned woodcock on Broadway one night and chasing all over downtown Manhattan trying to find someone to help her, until eventually she recovered enough to just jump up and fly out of the crook of my arm where I'd been carrying her around - Jeff saw my post about that and filled me in on what to do next time I might find a stunned bird, it's unfortunately common in NYC) and I let both of them know about the bird when I got home. At least we tried.

So that was sad, but other than that, another absolutely splendid midrange paddle. This time, about 13.5 miles in 3 and a half hours. Beautiful day, good company, good muffins - can't ask for much more.

Very happy with how the paddling has been going so far this year - hope I can keep at it and pick it up more as the weather warms up and the gear gets less bulky!

More pictures, of course - this time enough that I put them up in a Flickr album. Click here to view, hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, March 06, 2019


OK, there were no oystercatchers on Sunday and it's 22 degrees outside right now but DOGGONE IT, WE GOT DAFFODILS. Come on, Spring!

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Idaho concerns clarified

So I Vaguebooked (vagueblogged?) in my February reading post about being upset by some legislation proposed by a relative who's recently joined the Idaho legislature. I'm working on some month-end close stuff so otherwise probably wouldn't be posting tonight, but I thought I would put up a quick clarification for anyone who wondered what I was going on about.

Click here to read the thing itself, straight from the source. Don't miss the FAQ's, they're charming...apparently they aren't quite ready to put women under house arrest to stop them from getting an abortion in another state (how nice for those with the means to do so, right?) but they can't quite bring themselves to say straight out that no, it's not going to affect birth control - "likely not" is the best they can do.

The good news is that it seems it's not getting considered this year. Just found that out tonight, and I'm quite pleased. They do say they'll give it another shot next year, fingers crossed that it gets the same treatment. 

BTW At least one of these legislators is not a Trump guy, either, I can't speak for Rep. Scott but my relative is smart enough to have figured out Trump for the con that he is pretty quickly. One lesson I am seeing in this is that for all Trump's emboldened the alt-right, him going away wouldn't stop things, in some ways maybe he's just a symptom. I knew that, this just drives it home. Have to keep marching!

Note slightly later: Well, this is disturbing. One of the FAQ's on Rep. Scott's site is: "Is the goal of the AHRA to punish and imprison women for abortions?" And the answer begins: "Not at all." But here's Cousin John addressing his Kootenai County Republican friends. Listen to what he has to say

Note the next day - this was my response to a FB friend wondering how we got here (she'd just shared a interview in which the Florida House Speaker referred to pregnant women as "host bodies" 5 times) - I'm just both startled and sad to find myself saying this: "It's nuts. I've been thinking about how I was raised and the high-quality science-based sex education I got (at an Episcopalian school no less!) and the easy access I had to health care and (when the time came that I chose to become sexually active) birth control and how all of that worked together to let me live life as I chose. And I'm a bit of an odd bird in that I never wanted marriage or kids, so that choice has been SO important. Now my head is just spinning with the idea that -- well, was I raised in the golden age of women's rights?" 

I see what's going on now and I am SO grateful that I was given such freedom. 

Sunday, March 03, 2019

The Paddle In The Calm Before The Storm

Sneak Preview. Glorious afternoon out there.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

February Reading

There's more Florida to come (next up - a really amazing birdwatching day at the Myakka River State Park, shown above) but first, continuing on with my plan to keep track of my 2019 books, here's February's reading:

Barren Island by Carol Zoref: This was a find through the Sebago Canoe Club, one of our members read it and suggested a one-off book club type discussion. I would call it a coming-of-age story, it's about a young girl whose family immigrates to NYC and ends up being part of a tiny community whose men work for a rendering plant on Barren Shoal, a tiny sandbar of a place located off of the real-world Barren Island. An excellent fictionalized slice of history in the years leading up to WW II. PS - excellent teacher character!

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney. Loved this poetic ode to the life and death of Martin Luther King and the inspiration he left behind, with wonderful illustrations. Teacher friends - Great additional history and suggestions for classroom use at the end. I absolutely inhaled it, as I sometimes do when I'm hypnotized by a book, as I'm writing this I think I need to go back and take a little more time with it sometime. 

Island People: The Caribbean and the World, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro: A travelogue with intensive history. When I went to The Strand to see if they had Barren Island (they did, yay!) this was out on one of the theme tables, and it caught my eye because my Brooklyn neighborhood has a very strong Caribbean presence and I know some pretty remarkable people (friends, co-workers, and one really great boss back in my banking days) whose roots are in the Caribbean, so I have some sense of things I've learned from them, and this looked like a good book for learning more, which It was. It reminded me of Sarah Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes in that this someone who's not from a place (in Jelly-Schapiro's intro he refers to himself as "a white kid who'd grown up in snowy New England") but has taken the time to learn about it and now wants to share. It gives an interesting sense of the distinctions between the cultures of the different islands. This one was a slow read, it was interesting going from inhaling Marting Rising to this one, because this is very much a book that says "Slow down, there is a lot to learn here", and whisking over, say, the development of the political parties on an island on one page leaves you somewhat at sea a few pages later. I was able to get myself into the right careful-reading frame of mind fairly quickly though and did learn some interesting things, as I'd hoped. I think the next step would be to go back to that same Strand table and find something by someone who IS from there, for a more local take.

That's NOT what happened by Cody Keplinger: This is the March reading for the Scholastic employee book club. This is a story about 6 school kids who witnessed and survived a school shooting and how they come to terms with the mythology that sprang up in the aftermath - a mythology that left one of them a "hero" and one of them demonized. I'm a WTC survivor so this was, uh, shall we say, a highly accessible premise for me (see also Facebook every September 11th...always interesting feeling the nerves get going at the patriotic memes when it's still so real and personal for me and the myths are a really flattened version of my sense of the day). Loved it, looking forward to the discussion.

Finally - Ruff vs. Fluff by Spencer Quinn. My cousin Michael first told me about Spencer Quinn and then Scholastic started publishing kids' books by him. YAY! Tons of fun, crime stories with kid heroes, told from the point of view of their pets. I loved the Birdie & Bowser books I was able to get my paws on and this new one with Arthur the Dog and Queenie the Cat is also great. And that was February.

Right now I'm nosing around in a book of Grimm's Fairy Tales (not the Disney versions) and then with all of the anti-abortion stuff in the government, including some absolutely horrible legislation a relative who's just joined the Idaho legislature is working with a more experienced rep to try to push through (I've never prayed so hard for family to fail), I'm thinking it might be a good time to revisit The Cider House Rules.