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.

Friday, August 14, 2020

7/31 - First evening paddle of 2020

Boy, can't believe this was two weeks ago! on the way home I just couldn't wait to do a blog post, but I didn't get to it fast enough, and this is one of those times of year when work gets a little bonkers and I just didn't have the energy to blog after long days of number crunching. Wrapped up the last of the gauntlet of deadline projects today, though! 

I'm just doing a writeup here but of course I took photos - click here to visit my Flickr album from the day. 

So this really wonderful paddle was my first evening paddle of the year. I've been getting out on the water pretty regularly, but since I'm staying off the bus and don't feel like I have enough biking experience in the city to be out at night, evenings haven't really been an option - so when clubmates Etan and Andrea got in touch with me, invited me to join them and one more clubmate, Dan, for a Friday evening paddle, mentioning they had access to a car for the evening and could get me and TQ's bike home after the paddle, I was delighted to take them up on it. 

It was a beautiful evening, nice temperature, very light breeze, high water and a nearly full moon rising. The plan was to paddle to Four Sparrows Marsh for some evening birding, but our first stop was at the "Jeep Marsh", a small marsh partway between the club and Mill Basin, nicknamed by club members after an engine block in the inlet that's visible when the water is lower (that's urban paddling for you). As we were paddling by, Dan or Etan noticed some interesting activity in the marsh, lots of tips of fins breaking the surface of the water, so we went in to see what we could see. Turned out to be a school of rays, probably cow-nosed - very cool to see! TQ had seen a school once a couple of years ago, so I knew they were out there, but I'd never seen them. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any pictures, the wingtips would only break the surface for a moment, but they were all over the place in the marsh and it was great to encounter a new critter in the bay.  

oof, reminds me I had made a couple of promises about this Inktober drawing from last year that was very popular among the paddling groups with whom I shared it. I had "find a place that can do a really high-quality scan" on my to-do list early in the year - then of course all plans went off the rails. Things are opening up enough now that maybe I can resume that search. We didn't have this many rays, and they were swirling around hunting in the marsh, but still reminded me of drawing this, and I wonder what it would've looked like from above. 

We hung out watching the rays for a while, then headed on to Four Sparrows Marsh, where a variety of egrets and herons were settling in for the evening. Etan spotted one very large object in a dead snag at the top of a tree as we were approaching the marsh; I'd brought binoculars along so he asked me to see if I could tell what it was. When I first looked, I thought it might be a very large raptor, but then it wasn't moving, and I couldn't see any details, so I downgraded my guess to Hefty bag or some sort of similar trash, blown up there by the storm earlier in the week. Wish I'd handed the binoculars over to Etan at that point for a second opinion - a moment after I'd said I thought it was just garbage, it turned its big raptorial head and spread its big raptorial wings and flew off to another tree further away from those nosy paddlers.

Still not sure what it was but it looked bigger than our local hawks, and darker then an osprey - really wondering if it was maybe a juvenile bald eagle. A friend and I had seen an adult near Floyd Bennett Field in March, and then during the Breezy Point Light paddle a couple of weeks ago, Dottie had spotted a pair of very large, dark raptors over the Rockaway Inlet (really not too far from Mill Basin, at least as the crow - or eagle - flies); she pointed them out to me and we agreed that they were too big & dark to be ospreys. It's possible we've got some young bald eagles in the area - it would be very cool if that was the case!

Click here for an excellent photo series showing bald eagle plumage from first year juvenile to adult. 

We got well into Four Sparrows, the moon was rising, it was absolutely beautiful and we paddled around in there until we started getting chewed up by hungry little flying things. We paused outside the marsh to put on decklights and then headed for home under a beautiful sunset sky. What a perfect evening! 

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Perfect Weekend Part 3 - Swimming!

Part 3 of the perfect weekend (now 2 weeks ago) was finally getting in a swim at Brighton Beach! I'd been craving a swim all July and probably going back into June, finally got my act together and went on the 19th. 

Subway was somewhat worrisome; most of my subway ventures have been to midtown for doctors' appointments, and on those trips, the subways weren't crowded and almost everybody was wearing masks. The Q to the beach had a lot more riders and I think the festive air of being beach-bound on a hot day seemed to make people a little loosey-goosey about masks - people still had 'em but there were a lot of under-the-nose masks, chin masks, or just held in the hand masks. I was unfortunately just wearing one of the surgical masks I wear for day to day errands - I actually have a couple of N95's, one of which a friend who's a nurse gave me specifically for doctor visits. I have no idea why I didn't think to wear that on the subway but when I posted about this on FB, another friend who's a nurse (thanks Laura!) suggested getting an N95 to make beachgoing a little safer for myself. My response was something along the lines of "Oh, derp. I have one." So that'll help.  

Would also probably help if I went earlier - I'd been on the fence between a swim and a lazy day at home, didn't decide until I think 2:00 or so, and then of course it took me longer than I thought to get my gear together. 

The beach threw me for a bit of a loop, too - the groups I've been paddling with at Sebago, which have tended to max out at maybe 15, and usually less, have been the biggest crowds I've been in since March. Now, if you know Coney Island and Brighton Beach at all, and you look at these photos,  you'll see that this is a very thin crowd compared to normal years - but after all that self-isolation this just felt like THRONGS. I was a little bit freaked out and thinking of maybe going home when one of the CIBBOWS  crew happened by and talked me down (ok, it wasn't that hard, but he saw me and said hello at a really good time to get me back into "gotta swim" mindset). 

So I joined the CIBBOWS group and went for a fun short swim. It was breezy, and a little bit bouncy, and the current was running pretty hard towards Jamaica Bay, so it was a little bit like swimming on a treadmill, but I had dinner plans involving some greenmarket goodness I'd picked up in the morning, and wanted to be home by a certain time to get going on that, so knowing that I would be swept back to my starting point at Grimaldo's Chair tout de suite when I turned around was actually helpful. 

And it just felt great to be back in the ocean for even a short swim, as you'll be able to see from my three releasing-my-inner-mermaid selfies! 

In fact so good that I did pretty much an exact repeat, right down to what the current was doing, yesterday. Conditions yesterday were much quieter, I did more crawl and less breast stroke (my fallback stroke when I'm feeling a little challenged) and even some backstroke, enjoying looking up at beautiful fishscale clouds in the blue sky. Sorry, no pix from yesterday, I'd once again taken some time to decide to go, and once again had some cooking plans, so I left the camera home so I would swim instead of float around taking pictures. It was a short swim again but going against the current made it a good workout. I renewed my CIBBOWS membership yesterday too as swimming feels great.

And there was a paddle this weekend too - only thing missing from perfection this time was the peaches, the offerings at the greenmarket really just didn't look ready. But I'm trying plums instead! 

That's it for the verbiage - click any photo for a slideshow view.