Sunday, June 23, 2013

Back to Brooklyn!

I went over to Brooklyn Botanic Garden, first time in a while.

I never promised you one of these.
What's the story, morning glory?

Ready for its close-up

Afterward, I tried stripping paint from mantel and window frames.  Not the smartest move, since I lack the skill and patience for this to be a truly efficient and productive use of my time....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Comedy of Shakespeare

On my way to a group reading of King Lear, my errands took me past this building:

Sign on door: Trinity Grace Church
Sign on windows: Shaftway 
The event itself was held in Tupelo Meadow in Central Park.  I came in from the east side, around 72nd Street, and went to the official Central Park Kiosk, manned by an official Central Park Volunteer wearing an official Central Park t-shirt and an official Central Park volunteer hat.  He looked super-qualified.  But he had never heard of Tupelo Meadow, and it was not on the official.  When I finally convinced him that that was, indeed, the location I'd been given, he finally looked it up in the official Central Park Guidebook.  To his surprise, it was in the index!  And it had its own entry!  So he showed me where it was, as proud as if he'd invented the meadow himself.  

It turns out that it is a little green area within the Ramble.  

The Ramble 
So, once I got to Tupelo Meadow, I quickly eliminated the folks who were brandishing wooden swords at the far side (that's not King Lear!!!), and approached three folks who were holding paperbacks and taking turns reading out loud to each other.  Yup, those were my people all right!  We got to try a variety of roles, changing it up from scene to scene, and even re-doing some scenes multiple times unitl everyone had had a shot.

As I left the park, when I was just about a block away from the subway, I picked up a message - friends were going to wait on line for Comedy of Errors.  Perfect timing!  I picked up snacks and a camp chair at a local store and turned right back around to the park!  We enjoyed a picnic while we waited, and we got tickets together (a real coup).  It was a lively production, really liked the dancing.  The 50's mobster thing was an interesting touch.  The Brooklyn tough-guy accents got a little thick at times, but at least they had subtitles!!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

End of the Line

I skated up to 135th Street and back.  The return trip took about twice as long as the outbound - and ouf!!  I was really feeling it afterward.  But as the light grew dim, the crowds thinned - and I saw my first firefly of the season.  

St John's the Divine rising up out of the trees

A little past this point, I found some mulberries - yum!

Um, May 1 through Nov 30... Isn't that prime biking/rollerblading season???!!!

They are serious about this bike path closure.  That there's a manned patrol car.

Last year, I calculated the round-trip to 138th Street as about 17 miles, but I think that was taking the scenic route wherever possible.  So this was probably more like 14-15 miles.  I'll have to check it on google maps.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


All is calm.  They suspect nothing...
As we prepared our aquatic invasion, I was impressed by the girls' self-sufficiency.  They had it down to a science; they knew exactly what they were doing and did not require any supervision or assistance.   That's more than I can say for some adults (such as yours truly).

Girl power!

"Yeah, we got it under control. No grown-ups required."

Ready to launch!

Left: Store-bought plastic kayak.                              Right: Home-made wood kayak.
Verdict: Bliss all-round. 

So as you can see, we were starting to assemble our, er, group of boats.  This is probably as good a time as any to look up the words fleet, flotilla, and armada.*  Here are some takes from
"Czin" says:
flotilla is a typicially homogenous group of smaller ships like destroyers and frigates, the term squadron is reserved for the bigger ships like cruisers and BBs, the term flotilla is falling out of use as ships grow larger however. 
Armada is simply another way of saying fleet, there is no official definition of what constitutes an Armada, any collection of ships can be called an Armada.
"Afghanisdan" says:
Flotilla: A group of similar sized ships (six or more) not necessarily under unified command, but at least unified by mission. Not really an official naval term any more. They used to be the same as a squadron of small sized vessels, but that use fell off during WWII. 
Armada: A very large mass of ships put together for a VERY large mission, typically an invasion. Like a super-sized naval Task Force. 
Fleet: A very general term now days. In the US Navy it is still used as term for all ships assigned to a geographical area under a major command.
Hmm.  Not so clear-cut as I was hoping.  The only term I'm confident about ruling out at this point is Armada.  Not quite sure what makes for an armed vessel, but I'm pretty sure it requires more than two arms per paddler.

Assembling the Father's Day fleet / flotilla / group of boats 
(And don't ask me to figure out whether kayaks and canoes can be called "boats" or whether that is a special technical term that only includes 12-foot sailboats, naval destroyers, and inflatable dinghies.)

Our athletes

Pssst.... Wanna buy a duck? 

Afterward, we convened for a lovely Father's Day celebration for three fathers and six of their progeny (as well as the women who made it all possible).  The exact number of attendees is left as an exercise for the student.

FN* For what it's worth, here's what Merriam-Webster has to say:
Flotilla: a fleet of ships or boats; especially : a navy organizational unit consisting of two or more squadrons of small warships
Armada: 1 : a fleet of warships; 2 : a large force or group usually of moving things
Fleet: 1 : a number of warships under a single command; specifically : an organization of ships and aircraft under the command of a flag officer; 2 : group 2a, b; especially : a group (as of ships, planes, or trucks) operated under unified control 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pawtuckaway Five-Miler

Our beloved boulders!!!

Water lilies grow in the body of water formerly known as Dead Pond

bright red fungus (yes, the picture is sideways - but it seemed easier to see this way)

A view of Dead Pond from the ridge


Dragonfly - bright spring green

Intrepid hikers

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The Day of the Newt

The day was so glorious after yesterday's downpour that I suddenly decided to drop everything and make a mad sprint for the 12:44 train to Cold Spring.   Yes, that's kind of a late start.  And yes, I knew I wanted to do a long hike. (Hey, I brought a headlamp just in case.  That's all grown-up and responsible of me, for sure.)

The plan was to take Cornish (blue) to Brook (red) to Notch (blue) to Breakneck Ridge (white) to Casino (red).  This would take me to the South Beacon fire tower for the first time, which could be nice.  And I thought it might be easier to find Casino from the white trail which dead-ends right into it.

I re-listened to chapters 5 and 6 of Voyage to Arcturus en route (see, I am working on my paper!), then a bit of class lectures, then switched over to William's Happy Days as I set off for the trailhead.

So, the first thing I noticed as I started up Cornish (blue) was the mud.  Some fairly serious mud.  And overgrown bushes that made the path nearly impassible.  But I was listening to my all-time favorite William story, "William Goes Shopping," in which the ever-impecunious 11 year old goes into town on an errand for his mother to earn money for Christmas presents.  Before he gets to the fish shop, he is of course immediately sidetracked.  The story is brilliant, hilarious and deep.

As I ascended above the swampline, I noticed the insects.  Big ones.  (On leaves, luckily, not on me.)  Some dead, golden-brown, and desiccated, others bearing living colors but  quite lethargic:
Bleah.  Fortunately, as I got further in, I saw fewer and fewer of them.

A half-built house?

A millipede-type creature on a rock:

He was actually  making pretty good time; in my first picture, he was far away from the oak leaf!

Soon after, I saw something really cool -- a red-spotted newt!!!

first newt of the day!
I don't recall ever seeing a newt before in the Hudson Highlands, so I was very excited.  I took lots of pictures and videos, and tried not to scare it too much as I zoomed in.
my hand for scale

On the move:

Soon afterward, I saw a slug on a fungus - not quite as glamorous, perhaps:

Ye olde traditional view of ye scenic Hudson

Red-Spotted Newt #2 (next to my little camera pouch)

fern frond curled in the sun
Finally, I got to the South Beacon fire tower - wow!  Lovely views, and lovely weather, so I began the ascent.  I got about halfway up, when I suddenly realized my hands were sticky.  It was as if something slightly tacky had gotten on to the handrails.  It was as if ... my hands were covered with silver-gray paint.  And my forearms too, a bit.

It was windy enough that I didn't want to make the climb without holding on to the handrails, so I turned around and went down.  Freshly painted, and no "wet paint" signs.

Even from the base of the tower, the views were amazing:

I couldn't scrape the paint off onto anything (I tried), so I rubbed my hands in the dirt, on the theory that that would give me some friction/abrasion to remove the paint.  Alas, no.  Now I had really filthy hands.  Hand sanitizer and tissues removed only the top-most layer of loose dirt, leaving the paint and the bottom layer of dirt perfectly intact.  Sigh.

But, I soon saw another red-spotted newt, so I was happy again:

bright yellow fungus on a log

My fourth red-spotted newt!!!
So far, I had managed to follow the trail successfully, despite some tricky spots (like a mysterious orange-blazed trail which looked very official but was not marked on my map).

As advertised, the white trail ended in an intersection with the red (Casino) trail.  Hooray!  I turned left and started the last part of my journey.  I'd taken the Casino trail before, so I wasn't worried about this part.  And yet... and yet... I got to a place where there were 3 red dots (as if the red trail were beginning or ending), and then soon after, it looked like the trail was turning left.  So I went left and followed the path for a while - but no blazes.  So I backtracked and went right at the fork.  No blazes.  The area looked vaguely familiar, but I could not figure out which way to go.  Finally, I just followed the most well-traveled path, which took me to a nice scenic overlook:

I kept going, and came eventually to a dirt road.  I figured I'd just follow the road down - but it dead-ended at the (I think) North Beacon tower area.  Now I was stumped!!!

Fortunately, a local man and his little girl came by. He couldn't figure out how the heck I'd gotten there, but he gave me good advice: I could retrace my steps back up the road, and it would then start going down again.  It would take me right along the reservoir, and all the way down to Mountain Lane and East Main Street.  So I did, and it worked out fine - a totally new (to me) and beautiful route.   (The girl was really cute - she told me I'd chosen the better way, because she'd gotten a spider on her going the other direction, where she and her dad were headed.  I thanked her, but told her she'd be fine because she and her dad would scare away the spiders.)

sun-kissed tree trunk

Out of the woods!
The long walk down E Main Street to the restaurants.

view from the bridge 

I dined (again) at the Beacon Falls Cafe.  They were kind enough to let me enjoy a table outside despite my generally disreputable appearance.  (With the aid of soap and water, I was able to make some progress on my dirt-dyed hands.  But my muddy and frayed hiking pants are admittedly not a sight for sore eyes.)

It was a lovely end to a wonderful day.

Sesame Street Police Department

Too bad I'd already eaten!
Got home at 12:15 a.m. - exactly 12 hours after I'd left my apartment.