Friday, July 24, 2020

Skywatch Friday, Midwood, Brooklyn

I still have one more post to do from last weekend's perfect weekend series - but we've had some dramatic weather here in NYC this week and I thought I would do another Skywatch Friday post. These were from a walk I took last night - I stayed pretty close to home in case the skies opened up; they threatened to do that at one point but after a few enormous raindrops sent all us pedestrians skittering for awnings, the sky said "Ha ha, just kidding" and went back to just being dramatic.

Just pictures after this - click on the first one for a slideshow view. Enjoy!  

Thursday, July 23, 2020

NYC - Scabby the Rat Says "We're Still Here!"

Things are still strange in NYC - but hey, where there's giant inflatable rats, there's hope.

I don't have a smartphone, but I always throw at least my little Optio in my bag when I'm heading into Manhattan these days, because you just never know what you might see. 

I was really glad I did that yesterday -- what a kick to see these classic symbols of NYC union protest! I was on my way to one of my appointments at the NYU Langone Laura Perlmutter Imaging Center on 34th Street; I'd taken the B train to Herald Square and caught the bus from there* - spotted these outside the Empire State Building and walked back to take a picture on my way home afterwards. 

I shared these on FB yesterday and a friend asked about the symbolism and I realized that I didn't really know precisely. You see them in NYC pretty regularly and I did know that they were connected with union protests, but I went looking for more detail and found a very informative article about the history of Scabby the Rat. That's right, they not only have a very specific message, they have a name! 

The cat, on the other hand, is a new one to me. The balloon company that created Scabby also offers a Fat Cat balloon, but he's much more cartoony, dressed in top hat and tux, with one fist clenched around a laborer's neck and the other around a money bag. Not sure whether this one is a Fat Cat or the opposite, the union come to catch the rats - he looks pretty benign compared to the obviously nasty Scabby, right? 

Anyways, weirdly nice to see this normal bit of NYC weirdness after all the weirder weirdness we've seen here in 2020. 

And here's Scabby all ready to go full King Kong on the Empire State Building!

*Notes for friends concerned about me taking public transportation: 
1. I wore the N95 mask a nurse friend gave me specifically for wearing to appointments.
2. Neither the subway nor the bus were too crowded, and both pretty clean. 
3. Almost all of the other passengers were wearing masks, and wearing them right. Nice!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Perfect Weekend Part 2 - PEACHES!

I started off Sunday with a trip to the Courtelyou Road greenmarket. I have been jonesing for peaches for a couple of weeks now, and yesterday, one of the stands finally had Jersey peaches!

You aren't allowed to touch things at the greenmarket these days, so no picking up the peaches to feel whether they have a promising bit of give to them, but I was there pretty early and the vendor picked 6 splendid-looking peaches out for me, and then threw in a bonus one after he'd weighed them.

They weren't quite ready to eat on Sunday, but by Monday morning, this one had softened up and begun emitting a luscious scent. I set it on a silk pillow so that I could photograph it like the precious thing it was - ahhh, the first peach of 2020!

And then I cut it up and had it for breakfast. With, uh, yogurt. That's right, peaches and yogurt, a healthy summer breakfast.

Because what kind of frivolous person would ever have peaches and ice cream for breakfast? The very idea. Hmph.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Perfect Weekend - Saturday: To The Lighthouse!

OK, circumstances are still far from perfect, but hey, it was a fine, if hot, summer weekend and I absolutely milked it with paddling on Saturday and the greenmarket and my first real swim of the summer on Sunday.

I was absolutely delighted with Saturday's paddle, because in addition to it being a good day to be on the water and a very nice group of folks to paddle with (grateful to the friend who's been pulling so many of these together, I've been utterly disorganized about planning paddles myself, so it's great to have things to jump in on at the last minute), this one finally broke out of this weird 6-mile paddle thing I was complaining about in my last trip report.

Saturday's destination wasn't really clear when we set out, except that because it was hot we knew we wanted to head out to the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge (aka Marine Park Bridge) to get to some cleaner water to play in. We ended up going pretty close to 14 miles and despite the health issues that have me not feeling quite at 100%, I still felt good all the way through and even had the energy to run after some of the surfable wakes. I was absolutely delighted, I wasn't sure how I would hold up for a longer paddle.

We launched at 9:30 am and had a fine ebb-assisted paddle to the bridge. We took a nice leisurely snack break with much floating in the water without our boats at Riis Landing, just past the bridge on the Queens side (Rockaway Peninsula). We got back on the water around noon. Flood was going to start around 1 so we decided to paddle a little further down towards Breezy Point.

At one point the paddle nearly turned into a restaurant paddle when one of our group recognized Kennedy's, a waterfront establishment where he'd had some really good mussels. He suggested stopping and getting a couple of orders to share. I'd actually packed myself an unusually good box lunch of fruit, cheese, crackers, and prosciutto, and had grazed pretty heavily at Riis Landing, and there were a couple of others who were also not ready for more food. It also turned out that one of the latter group was really interested in paddling on down to the "lighthouse" - she's a strong paddler and has been a club member for years, so I was surprised she'd never been, but that sounded like a perfect destination! So we agreed to skip the mussels, go on to the tower (just a little ways further on), and then come back and meet the others for the paddle home. I went in to let the diners know what our plans were -- just in time to see a resident walk up to them to let them know that this was a private beach.

That wasn't really surprising. The Breezy Point communities are protective of their beaches - no problem with paddling by, people in boats will say hi (oh, and everybody out in boats yesterday was SO happy to be out in boats that the greetings were even more friendly than usual - we all agreed that on the water was the only place to be and we wished we could stay there all week), but they don't want non-residents landing there, even if it's just to run up to Kennedy's for a couple of orders of mussels. So the disappointed diners rejoined us, we went on down to the "lighthouse", got there right at slack water, and then turned around for a good flood-assisted ride back to the club. We couldn't have timed it better if we'd actually planned it - darned good winging it!

The "lighthouse" is an interesting piece of local history. It was actually built as a fire control tower for the Fort Tilden gun emplacements - click here to learn more about it. That's an old, old, archived web page and doesn't look very pretty but it's the most informative thing I've found about the tower.

All pictures after this, more than I would usually post but it was fun getting out of the bay, and it was another really photogenic day. BTW the thing that looks like the top of a clay pot is actually a "sand collar", which is a thing that a certain type of snail (moon snails) make to protect their eggs, which are embedded in the sand/mucus construction. Interesting thing to find!

And although I didn't get any photos, we may have seen two young bald eagles flying over the inlet - they were bigger and much darker than the distinctively-marked osprey that we see on almost every summer paddle. Oh - and the fishing chatter on the VHF channel we were using said that there were sharks, dolphins, and a whale in the area! Busy waters out there!

OK, now on to the photos - click on the first one for a slideshow view. Enjoy! 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Floral Friday

Another quiet week of working from home for me, so no new adventures, but here are some of the flowers that are blooming at the Sebago Canoe Club here in July. Chicory (grows wild all over the club), Queen Anne's Lace (the garden plots, left untended, have become a field of lace), milkweed (we have a pretty good bed of this in hopes of encouraging monarch butterflies), purple coneflower, and, uh, something pretty in the bed in front of the clubhouse. Anybody know what that is?

Lilies have had their time, as you can see in the last photo. But the club's still blooming. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

7/12/2020 - After Fay

Tropical Storm Fay hit town on Friday, giving us a thorough drenching and high winds. One of the Sebago "usual suspects" crew had hoped to have a birthday paddle on Saturday, but that and the all-level paddle also planned for the day both got shifted to Sunday, as Saturday's weather was still pretty skittish.

Sunday was beautiful but still pretty breezy - in fact breezier than the forecast had shown. I think the forecast had been for 10 to 13 mph and the actuals (I just looked at the 3-day history to make sure I wasn't imagining this) got up to 18 or so while we were out, 20 after we got off the water. It was also supposed to get pretty warm, with a high of 89 in the afternoon.

I'm honestly not sure I would've gone if I'd known about the extra wind. I'm not feeling quite at 100% right now, and a hot day gets me huffing and puffing pretty fast, and with all the rain we'd had, a cooling roll or high brace or a bit of a swim during a shore break wasn't an option. The NYC water treatment - including sewage - system dumps straight into the waterways when overwhelmed by heavy rains, things get pretty gross after a storm; you can still paddle but you want to keep your contact with the water to a minimum. So I'd been looking at that high of 89 and feeling a little bit on the fence about going.

I'm glad I did go, though, because it ended up being a really nice paddle
 - in fact the only problem with it was that it was kind of short, there were time constraints for the group and we kept it to around 6.5 miles. I'm starting to feel like  the 6 Mile Paddle Princess these days and one of these days I would really like to see how I hold up to a longer distance -- but this was a lovely little jaunt on the bay.

The wind ended up being a plus instead of a problem because although it was pretty shifty, for a good part of our paddle it was out of the southwest, asnd we decided to paddle against the incoming current down towards the inlet, following the western shore of the bay. That gave us enough protection from the breeze to keep boat handling from being annoying, but we still had enough of it to provide some good cooling. A hot and windless day where you can't get in the water can be some of the hardest paddling - this turned out to be quite delightful. We paddled down to just before you turn the corner into the inlet, pulling out for leisurely snack/leg stretching break at a nice quiet beach where TQ and I have stopped for lunch a few times, then we had a nice ride back to the Paerdegat Basin on the incoming tide.

Definitely could've kept going, but I'm not going to pretend that a shower and a nap in the air conditioning didn't feel good when I got home, either.

It was a photogenic day out there too - all pix after this, click on any of them for a slideshow view.