Saturday, December 12, 2020

Escape from Black Friday 2020 - trip report & photos!

 My favorite photo from my wonderful Escape from Black Friday. Click any photo for a slideshow view!

Finally getting back to this after getting a little bogged down after my "Masked Marauders" post. Remember how happy I looked in that post? 

This was an extra-special Escape. Other years it's just been a given that I'll get out for something, outside, hiking or paddling depending on conditions, the day after Thanksgiving, but this year, I was still recuperating from my October illness and had conditions been anything but perfect, my "escape" would most likely have been limited to a short stroll in Prospect Park, or maybe the Coney Island Boardwalk. Either of which would have been nice enough but not quite as "escapeist" - so I was just thrilled to bits when the stars (and weather, and a lovely offer from a friend) all aligned so that I was able to get out on the water for the first time since our vacation in September! 

And I had OPTIONS! The Sebago Canoe Club traditionally has a paddle & leftover potluck the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving. This year's COVID rules precluded the potlucking but one of our best trip leaders did put out the call for people with winter gear to join her on Saturday. 

That was VERY tempting - I hadn't seen folks at the club in so long, and although I do like the Escape from Black Friday theme, I'm not dead set on Friday if something neat presents itself on Saturday. This time I was hesitant to join a club paddle, though. I was at a stage in recuperation from October's illness where if I was sitting in a chair at home, I would feel like I could do anything I ever did, but then I would go out for a walk and be utterly out of gas after a mile or so. So I really had no idea how I would do in my boat, and I absolutely didn't want to be the one who set out from the dock full of beans and happy to be there and then after a mile have to ask someone else to cut their paddle short to escort me back to the club. Someone would have done it and most likely would have been great about it - we do watch out for each other - but I would've felt very bad about cutting into their fun. 

And I did have another option, which in the end I decided was more sensible. One of my closer paddling friends who's been keeping abreast of my medical woes had kindly offered to take me out for some low-key paddles to ease back in; I found out from her Facebook page that she was around for Thanksgiving, and Friday's forecast was actually stunning, with lighter winds than Saturday - perfect for a test paddle! I got in touch with her, and on Friday morning, we headed for the club - where we found a subset of "the usual suspects", the group of friends I'd been doing a lot of paddles with over the summer, arriving at the same time! The group was small because of the club paddle the next day, but what a nice surprise to see them there. 

And I had a nice surprise as far as my paddling stamina - I'm definitely not where I was in September, but M. and I set out with them and I was able to keep up (even getting out in front for some of the time) for quite a while, before deciding that I had probably gone far enough after a bit over 3 miles (just to where you hang a right to head out of the inlet). When I was being discharged from the hospital and given recommendations for getting back in shape, they warned me to remember that as I increased my walking distance, I would still need to get back from wherever I went - definitely the case for paddling, too. M. and I had explained what we were doing before we launched, so nobody was worried when we got to the inlet and I decided that would be my turnaround point, and that worked out well. I think having the others turn up gave me a little more energy and confidence, when I'd been feeling a little timid about pushing it, but we did go back to the club in a much lower gear, with a tea break midway back, and I was quite ready to get off the water when we got back to the dock. 

In other words - just about as perfect a first paddle as I could've asked for. I'm so grateful! 

Unfortunately the next weekend was stormy, and this weekend I've just had a chemo port put in & paddling was definitely not on the list of approved activities for the day after that procedure (I wasn't even allowed to take a shower today) - but I'm really hoping to get in more good paddling over the winter. 

And here's more pictures! 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

Happy Thanksgiving 2020! Ticked-Off Turkey is still as ticked-off as he was when I made him 10 years ago, but I'm actually very grateful for a lot of things right now, even here at the end of one of the strangest years I've ever seen. Best to all from Brooklyn, NY.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Jamaica Bay swan rescue

 No photos or stories of my own today, sorry (oops, ok, a doodle slipped in at the end!) - I think we've all had a rough week and I just can't resist sharing this really lovely NY Times story about New Yorkers rescuing an injured swan from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Most fortunate swan, to be found by the particular woman who found her - a former animal care manager at Manhattan's Wild Bird Fund. I would be scared to get close to a swan even if it did look injured, I think a lot of us would, but Ms. Cordova-Rojas knew exactly what to do, and found the helpers she needed when she needed them, too. Hooray for these good New Yorkers! 

Click here to read the story. Feels so good to share this tonight. 

And it's so good to see such good publicity for the Wild Bird Fund - I first learned about them after my own encounter with a bird in need of assistance, a woodcock I found lying stunned on the sidewalk on Broadway after a late night at work. A friend
 at my kayak club is a trained rescuers for the WBF, and he had a ton of good information about what to do should I ever find another dazed bird lying on the sidewalk. Birds & NYC window reflections are a bad combination, they just think it's sky, and my friend mentioned that woodcocks are especially at risk because they habitually fly low when escaping a threat, and also have eyes set far back on their heads, making it hard to see what they need to in a confusing streetscape of light and reflection. 

click here for my blog post about that rather surreal-feeling evening!

Oh, and here is a picture after all - I hadn't drawn in a while before the evening I tried to help that bird, but it was such an attractive bird that I had to try to draw it in happier circumstances later. BTW, woodcocks are also known as "timberdoodles", so this was my timberdoodle doodle! :D 

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Walking again!

So remember that time I went to cast my early vote in a wheelchair? Amazing to think that was just 2 weeks ago, especially with all the breath-holding this week - it's felt like a month! Also, if you missed it on Facebook, you may not remember this as somehow it didn't make it into the blog here, I skipped straight from the medical update to that lovely Halloween sail. 

So anyways - I had intended to join in the early voting we have here in NYC, but I had of course had absolutely no clue that I was going to be so dreadfully shaky on my pins after 2 weeks in the hospital when the time rolled around! It wasn't that I couldn't walk at all but at this point, one week after my release, I'm seriously not sure I could've made it once around my own block, let alone to Brooklyn College, my early polling location, about 3/4 of a mile away. Also really didn't want to be on public transportation yet, so I asked some friends in the neighborhood if they could help. My friend Gail came through immediately and also had the very good idea of the wheelchair; she has some friends whose daughther has a small theater company and Gail was able to borrow an old but fully functional wheelchair from the prop deck - that worked out so well. 

That was the 26th of October. My new chemo was starting on the 27th, and I didn't know how that was going to go, hence my hurry to vote before that. As it happened, the new chemo is going fine and I'm very happy to report that today I actually walked a mile and a half! Still very slowly, but I went up to the Little Free Library up near Courtelyou Road, a few blocks to the north, to drop off some books I was done with, and then I just wandered about enjoying the weather (amazing, 72 degrees when I went out in the afternoon) and the foliage, which is getting lovely. Here are a few samples, click any photo for a slideshow view.  


Sunday, November 01, 2020

Halloween Sail on the Schooner Adirondack

Well, what a glorious day. I'm still not very energetic these days, nothing much more than short walks in the neighborhood, but word made it back to an old friend on the Schooner Adirondack that I might want to go for a boat ride. Halloween afternoon turned out to be a glorious day, and I'm so glad TQ and I were able to go! Let's hear it for little birds - thank you!

And in this case I think the pictures are worth more than words - so here you are. Hopefully click on any photo for a slideshow view!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hello neglected blog! October update!

Oh, this poor, neglected blog. Can't believe I just dropped the Sept 11th post and didn't come back. September actually did feature a really nice short vacation out in Greenport, we stayed at the same Sunset Motel where we had such a nice stay in fall 2019. We got to go for a sail with our friends Walter and Dottie, and two afternoon paddles, and I got up early one morning and went for a heavenly swim - water was so nice and clear and a beautiful temperature for swimming - much cooler and it would've been too cold, but a really beautiful start to the day. 

I also pulled off a "for fun" Grimaldo's Mile early in September (September 12th) in fact; the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS) ran their famous entry-level one mile swim virtually this year - you could swim your mile anywhere and report your time and they tracked the results. Originally the time was during August, and when I got shingles in August, I scratched (ha ha)  being able to make it, but when the rash dried up and I went back to swim one weekend, club members let me know the limit had been extended through I think September 13th. I went out on September 12th; it was very rough and I didn't think I would be able to swim the full mile that day, but I decided I'd go see what I could do, and with nowhere I needed to be at any particular time, and all the time in the world for making it through the bounce, I just kept swimmin' for that mile. I hadn't even timed it, it was probably one of of the slowest miles I'd ever swam but I was really heppy to have done it - pretty cool to look at conditions and say "I won't be able to do that" and then pull it off after alll!

Then October just flipped EVERYTHING on me. 

There is a bacteria called Klebsiella that is normally a harmless part of your intestinal flora. However, if your immune system is out of whack, it can cause all sorts of trouble. Apparently my immune system was not quite on top of things. 

 I was working on my month end close reports on Friday the 2nd when I suddenly got tired. I decided to take a nap. Woke up on Sunday morning except for TQ getting me up for food. I was supposed to start my new chemo on Tuesday so I figured they would want to see a covid test - I had taken my temperature at some point and I think it was 102. 

TQ was actually more worried than I was, I thought I was fine but he felt I was thinking very slowly. Anyways, he took me to our local CityMD on Monday morning for a covid test, as I asked. The doctor measured my blood pressure once on the in-room device, shook his head, took it a second time, then brought in a portable one. Turned out my blood pressure was super low and my heartrate going like a racehorse to try to keep in. 

They put me in a ambulance and sent me to the emergency room at NYU Langone Brooklyn - I asked for them so my oncologist could follow along. NYU Langone has a really good communication system, and Dr. Meyers was able to follow along fine (in fact the Brooklyn doctors told me that everytime they called her to fill her in, she's already seen the report). I had sepsis from that bacteria. It took them 2 weeks to stabilize me enough to go home I made it to chemo last Tuesday. Taxol and I did not agree. That's another story though. About amazing nurses. TK!

This week, they tried me on another type of chemo whose name I can't remember. This one went fine, I was thinking I might be feeling a tiny bit queasy at the end but I was mistaking queasy for hungry - I got home and had a grilled cheese sandwich with good bread, a little good cheddar and a giant slice of this beautiful tomato TQ had gotten earlier in the week. All better, and still feeling good today! 

So there's my late October catch up! Been on leave of absence since the start of hospitalization; although I'm thoroughly enjoying lounging around rereading my books (I have been on an autobiography kick, revisiting Pete Hamill's A Drinking Life, Trevor Noah's Born a Crime, and now Esther Williams's Million Dollar Mermaid) but now that I'm feeling good about both my recovery from the klebsiella infection AND my response to the new chemo, I'm thinking it's time to get back to work! 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

9/11 memories

Once again, too many work deadlines to write much, but I'll share the usual link to my own story from the day, originally written to share with family and friends the evening of the attack. Click here for thatSo glad to have made it out and then to actually have been able to help people even a little bit the same day. The efforts on the water and along the waterfront were amazing. I'll add this short documentary with that story. Wonderful the way people in NYC pulled together that day - this angle of the story just can't be told enough, as far as I'm concerned. 

With so many awful things going on right now, September 11th seems so long ago. Dreaming of better days to come - much love from Brooklyn to any readers who are suffering from smoke, fire, COVID, or just missing friends and family. 

Monday, August 31, 2020

8/30/20 Courtelyou Road Greenmarket Walk

So I'm gradually recovering from the shingles. Once it had really set in, the first few days I didn't go outside at all - just too tired and uncomfortable. I think it was Tuesday that I got up the energy to go to the Stuf'd sandwich shop that operates out of the relatively new Rusty Nail bar that took over the old Mama Lucia's space on Foster & East 17th. Their first food attempt was a Korean/soul food fusion thing - some friends and I went to try that & weren't impressed, the sandwich place is WAY better! They're a spinoff from a popular food truck by the same name and I'm delighted they've decided to set up an outlet so close by. Here's their spin on a Reuben, with fries and brussel sprout sides - 2 sandwiches and one of each side gave us dinner and lunch the next day, too, the shop lives up to its name. Reubens were good - barbecue brisket, which was my first purchase a few weeks back, were AWESOME. 

So that was one block away; a couple of days later I managed a couple more blocks, going to C-town for chicken thighs for curry. That was the first time I was actually up to cooking for a while - TQ gets home from work pretty late these days so I've generally been doing the dinner cooking for us, but ugh, there was no way that was happening during the first week or so of the shingles. 

Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day here in NYC. I've been going to the Courtelyou Road Greenmarket pretty regularly on Sunday mornings this summer.  That didn't happen last weekend 'cause that's when the shingles were just starting to get really unpleasant, but yesterday I was feeling enough better that I decided I would take a slow walk over, and then home again too if I had the energy. It's about 1.6 miles round trip, and there's a train station there so there was an option if I didn't want to walk home. 

It went well, I walked there and back again (energy for the walk home provided by a scrumptious apple turnover from the Breezy Hill Orchard stand!), and I'm so glad I had my camera along. Midwood & Ditmas Park are such photogenic neighborhoods.

All photos after this, first one is just a neighbor's beehives, I enjoy just stopping by their fence to watch the bees going about their business, then it's just going through the neighborhood, a few at the market, and then a couple more on the way home. Click on any photo for a slideshow view!

Saturday, August 29, 2020

8/19 2nd Evening Paddle of 2020 - and shingles, ugh!

Bunny at the club! Wasn't that worried about us, either. 

This was the evening of Wednesday the 19th; I got another invitation from a friend who was willing to give me a ride. It wasn't a super-long paddle but it was really nice - and then that was it for a while as over the next few days I was fighting a low fever and fatigue that turned out to be the lead-in of shingles! Rash popped up the following Sunday and on Monday I was off to the local CityMD for a diagnosis (rash was absolutely classic). I wish I had gone to CityMD waaaaaay before then to get the shingles vaccine - friends told me I should but did I listen? No! Will rectify that as soon as I'm done with this round as it is possible to get it again - and the chemo I'm on makes one particularly susceptible. I hear the vaccine can make you feel like you've got the flu for a couple of days after - but oh will I take that over another round of shingles! 

I went ahead and worked through the bug, I figure I'm working from home anyways and I was going to be uncomfortable whatever I was doing, so no real reason to dump my work on other people. Somehow couldn't muster the energy to do a blog post after the day's work, though, hence the long hiatus here. 

I'm starting to feel a little better, though, and it's the weekend, so finally, here are photos from my lovely 2nd evening paddle of 2020. Hoping I might be recovered enough to do this again soon! That's it for the writeup, click on any photo for a slideshow view.