Thursday, March 23, 2017

Report on CG Report on last year's ferry accident

For anyone who's saying "What accident?", last year there was a bad accident between a ferry and a kayak tour on the Hudson River. Fortunately, no lives were lost, but the guide was badly injured. I don't think I really mentioned it here because anything I would have had to say would have been pure speculation - an educated guess, since I know the area where the accident happened and I got my start kayaking at Manhattan Kayak and was even one of a number of partners for a couple of years, but still a guess.

I have been VERY interested in what the Coast Guard had to say, though, and that hit my social media today - first I got a link to an NBC local affiliate's report, then PortSide NewYork shared Maritime's version. PortSide NewYork (website here, other link was FB) is trying to get a link to the original but this looks like a good evenhanded overview from knowledgeable water people.

Watch out for spin on this - non-maritime news outlets frequently mess up reporting of maritime news because they just don't know the basics (and don't realize that they don't). This one's a good straightforward report, and the results are pretty much what I was expecting to see based on what I'd seen at the time last year. updated later with corrected link to Maritime Executive report.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Trip Around the World Quilt Challenge Exhibit, Brooklyn Public Library Gerritsen Beach Branch

Well, March madness of the work-not-basketball variety strikes again, as it does every year, but here's Part 2 of my Gerritsen Beach posts, showing the quilts and the library. This was an exhibit of small quilts made by members of the Brooklyn Quilters Guild for an annual "Challenge" in which a theme is given, which participants are allowed to interpret entirely as they choose. The only requirements are that the quilt must be 20"x20" and have a pocket sewn to the back for a dowel to go through for display.

The 2016 theme was "Trip Around the World", with Barb Christ's "Flying by Night", shown above, selected for the publicity shot that was on social media, like the Facebook notice that caught the eye of Shari, our instigator du jour.   Ms. Christ's piece was an homage to migratory birds and efforts to increase awareness of the problems that bright lights cause these travellers.  Absolutely stunning, I wanted to go the minute I saw this, and it ended up being a very fun and interesting way to spend an icy afternoon! The Guild had a reception that day, with light refreshments, and some of the quilters there to talk about their works. It was not the formal event I was somehow expecting, I was somehow thinking there would be a gallery room and a lectern, but the quilts were hung up above the bookshelves in the main room, and the talks were done standing in a group and chatting as we walked around and looked.

It was really neat seeing the different ways people approached the challenge. Ms. Christ's hand-dyed triangular pieces turn out to be a quilt pattern callled "Flying Geese", so any quilter would look at it and recognize the avian motif; I don't know anything about quilting but even without that inside knowledge, I was still struck by sense of movement. I also learned about "paper piecing", which was the technique she used, cutting templates out of paper and basting your fabric to those, which then guide your stitches very precisely.

It turns out that "Trip Around the World" is also a quilt pattern, and that led to some interesting variations. The pattern is one of squares sewn together with colors carefully arranged to form a strong diamond shape. Some of the quilters riffed on that; Margaret Marcy Emerson's "Across the Universe" moved the pattern eye-catchingly off-center. She was inspired by photos from the Hubble Space Telescope, and this is her own "venture into the galaxy". Beautiful! 

Eileen Anderson's "So Be!" also used the pattern, but with pastel colors, flamingos, and a border of travel charms, all in honor of one of her favorite destinations, South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida.  

A couple of the quilters honored our borough of Brooklyn, which can offer the sense of going around the world without leaving home (like when I go for one of my long walks, starting out hearing Caribbean accents in my neighborhood of Flatbush and finishing on the boardwalk in Brighton Beach, aka, "Little Odessa", I love that!). Lynn S. Hill's "Brooklyn Is the World" used the Trip Around the World pattern again, with squares representing the different cultures of the borough, and a background of fabric with a nautical chart pattern, which I thought was very clever.

Brooklyn appears again in this picture of three other favorites of mine. The one thing we didn't love about the exhibit was the height at which the quilts were hung, way up above the shelves - there were such amazing details in some of these little quilts that it would've been nice to be able to see them from less of a distance. The reason was very sensible, though - this is a public display and people might be tempted to touch, or worse, take. I could see the temptation - I was absolutely in love with these three. The one on the right uses a similar approach to the one above, only with the pattern used for the background; this is Christine Janove's "Without Leaving Brooklyn", I wish I'd gotten a better picture, I think the Brooklyn fabric is a culinary print because she refers to all the different delicious cuisines you can try here. She used nautical chart and map prints for the pieced background, and in a nice finishing touch that you may be able to see if you click on the picture (ok, and if you have a good monitor, my work monitor isn't great and I can hardly see the detail at all), she quilted a globe with latitude and longitude lines over that background. Really nice.  

Closer view of the other 2 in that set. The one on the right, Doris T. Douglas's "A Trip Around Various Habitats", is the challenge name pattern again, done with metallic thread and such beautiful fabric (actually looks a little bit like a sparkly throw pillow I have that I like very much). And then on the left is the first quilt I'm showing you where the quilter went off in an entirely different direction, sewing a stunning image of water rolling up on sand. I absolutely loved how Michele Cucker used lace for the foam for her "Shore Lines". Now I am not a stealing type person but boy, I looked at this one and thought "Yeah, smart to have them out of reach". So so so so pretty. 

Kathy Clarke's "Trip Around the World" - instead of the Trip Around the World pattern, she chose to use another traditional motif, a "star block", in a really fun way! From the flyer: "My trip around the world includes the whole universe, with the stars rotating around a rocket ship in orbit". So cute! 

Mary Rumsey Hawley's "Travel Memories" - turns out you can scan your vintage postcards, flip the images, and print them on iron-on transfer paper. I think she said there's an app for that!  

The last of the challenge quilts I'm going to share is Madi Appell's "Wherever I Roam, There's No Place Like Home". She's travelled all over the world but she says her favorite part is seeing the Manhattan skyline again and knowing she's home safe. And the way she sees the skyline is just glorious. 

There were more, but that's enough for one post! If you're interested in seeing the exhibit, it runs through April 3rd. Full details at the Guild website. 

The guild members also showed us a few other quilts that they'd made for the library. Some of the guild members meet there on Friday afternoons to work on their quilts together, it's a beautiful and welcoming library and they made these to say "Thank you".

NYC Alphabet Quilt. Nice!

There was a set of children's book themed quilts hanging outside of the storytelling room (which looked out on a little canal full of boats). Here are a couple:

One of the guild members had her notebook out, and I found her hand-drawn notes on graph paper to be interesting and even beautiful in their own right. 

Grown-ups aren't the only ones crafting at the library - there was a whole display of some wonderful things kids had made at the library - magnificent hats...

Googly-eyed kitchen spoon puppets...


Love that this was sponsored by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation - I just learned about the life of this remarkable children's book author and illustrator this winter when I read "A Poem For Peter", a wonderful picture book/poem/biography by Andrea Davis Pinkney, who is actually a co-worker of mine at Scholastic and just such an amazing person. I actually got to go to her book launch this winter, and of course I got a copy - I do that when I go to book launches - and I loved it. Nice NPR story about it here. Anyways, with that on my bookshelf and fresh in my memory it was just really nice to see that his namesake foundation had helped pay for the gleeful art I was enjoying so much.

The library building itself is beautiful! Shari remembered going to a little library in a storefront when she was growing up in this neighborhood - they've come a long way! 

And I was so impressed and inspired by the whole thing that I got my first library card since I got out of school! And what better book to check out for my first Brooklyn Public Library book than...

And then I went to Sheepshead Bay and had crab legs for dinner. What more could a person ask of a freezing cold and blowy afternoon?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Pi Day!

Celebrating at work with a nice little desk pie. Three berry from the Little Pie Company of the Big Apple. Yummy!

And I think a good reward for actually slogging in to work through some very mucky weather. The Weather Channel was getting all dramatic about it yesterday with headlines like "WINTER STORM STELLA IS THE BOMB-AGGEDON" (OK, I'm exaggerating, but not by much, they were milking that "bombagenesis" word yesterday), but I generally get my weather reports from NOAA's and looking there I wasn't seeing anything that made me think it would actually not be safe to come to work this morning, looked like we were going to get some yuck but not really take the brunt of the storm. The subway line I usually take was closed, so I did have to get to one a little farther away; I was able to take a bus partway there, which was nice because the precipitation at that point was basically nasty little windblown wet ice pellets. As a friend said on Facebook, ski goggle weather - only I don't have any of those these days. Made it in fine, though. Not a pretty day but sure could've been worse. Hope this is winter's last fling! 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn

The view from the Gerritsen Beach branch of the Brooklyn Library

With so much development going on all over Brooklyn, it's nice to every now and then find myself in a section that's kept some older-Brooklyn character. Gerritsen Beach filled that bill nicely last weekend.

I'd been hoping to get out for a paddle, but looking at the forecast around mid-week, it was pretty clear that that wasn't happening, way too cold and windy, so when my Sebago friend Shari mentioned that there was a quilt exhibit at the Gerritsen Beach branch of the Brooklyn Library, I said "Sure!"

She actually grew up in this area, so after the exhibit (which was pretty cool, I'll show some pictures from that in my next post), she took us for a tour of the neighborhood, which started out in the 1920's as a summer bungalow colony and still retains some of that feel, although these days most of the bungalows have been winterized and expanded and now serve as year-round houses. An arm of Gerritsen Creek run through the neighborhood, the library is beautiful and there's the nicest view out of the back windows of a canal that runs down to the creek, with boats and docks. The neighborhood did get hammered during Sandy, of course -- in fact one of the women at the quilting exhibit was saying she still hadn't gotten back into her house yet. I'm not sure I would have the stamina to still be trying, but this seems like a place where people's roots are pretty deep.

It was great getting the tour from Shari, and among other things she brought us to the Tamaqua Bar & Marina, which was just about as salty a bar as you'd ever care to see (great stuff on the walls!), and which we're thinking might be a fun destination for a paddle in the summer. Unfortunately, they don't have food any more - they do have a full kitchen there and when we saw that, we were thinking lunch paddle, but when we asked the bartender she said they'd never been able to make a go of the food. However, she said we'd be welcome to pack lunch or order out and have it there. Could be fun!

Fun bit of trivia from the Wikipedia page for the neighborhood: the neighborhood was and still is popular among Brooklynites of Irish descent, and "A few long-standing residents...
refer to the community as being cois farraige, which is an Irish language phrase meaning 'by the sea'". I thought that was pretty interesting.

We tried to finish up with a visit to the Salt Marsh Nature Center, on the other arm of Gerritsen Creek, but that turns out to be open by appointment only in the wintertime. Another time, then. We finished off our afternoon with a delicious early dinner at Randazzo's, in neighboring Sheepshead Bay. It was a fine way to spend a cold and blustery day.

Click on any photo for a better view! 

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Honoring International Women's Day with red from my grandmothers

Grandma J. (my maternal grandmother) and Mrs. Ernst (my Uncle Bob's mother) in Egypt

So March is not a month in which I can really take a day off from work, too many deadlines, but I packed breakfast, lunch, and snacks so I won't need to spend any money during the work day. I am having dinner out with friends tonight but I found a place that's owned by a woman for us to dine at (looks like a good place, too!) - and I'm wearing a little red in honor of International Women's Day. 

There's a nice extra thing about my red today - it's from both of my grandmothers, and I like that. Red is not my color, I prefer the cooler end of the spectrum, so I really don't have any red business attire, but I have a scarf from my Grandma J. (white with a bright red border and a drawing of Giussepe Garibaldi in the middle, she must have picked it up in her travels - that's her on the camel next to the horse, she was traveling with my Uncle Bob's mom so my Ernst relations should especially enjoy this!), and then my "granddaughter necklace" with the rubies from my Grandma A's chandelier of a cocktail ring. So it's a tribute not just to women in general, but to my two Grandmas, wonderful women who I love and miss very much.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Sunday Fun Part 2 - Touring the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Atlantic Salvor of Dry Dock 1

Sunday Fun part 2 - but not Part 2 of Friday's "Sunday Fun". Nope, this goes much further back!

Early February in fact.  Part 1 was the Brooklyn Bridge walk and dimsum at Jing Fong. Remember? After brunch, Laurie and Rosa and I set out to walk back to Brooklyn, this time across the Manhattan Bridge. As we walked up the section of the bridge that extends into Manhattan, we saw a little knot of people looking down into the street below, and it turned out that the Lunar New Year Parade was just coming into view, heading for the bridge! Laurie and Rosa stopped to watch, and under ordinary circumstances I would've stayed (and in fact I'm going to keep that in mind for next year, I think some overhead shots of the parade could be fun), but earlier in the week, I had run across a Facebook post from Turnstile Tours talking about a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, with "a special spotlight on the experience of African-American sailors and workers for Black History Month. Learn about how the struggle for racial justice played out on the ships and in the shipyards of the US Navy, and how the Yard's 70,000 sailors, shipfitters, caulkers, and chippers of all backgrounds transformed it into the world's busiest shipyard". I wasn't able to talk any friends into joining me, but I'd gone ahead and signed up for it, because it sounded interesting.

That was starting at 2, and we'd already stopped to look at a few things that caught our attention on the way to the bridge, so I needed to head on.

It ended up being a very good tour - and private! That's right, I  turned out to be the only person in the entire city who decided that touring the Brooklyn Navy Yard was a good way to spend the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday. As I said on Facebook afterwards, I figure I have now genuinely earned my boat nerd card, if I hadn't had it before!

It took me a while to do this post because I had a bit of a writer's block problem - aside from posts on waterfront politics (which I stopped doing as much after I left the Hudson River, in very discouraging circumstances) and boating safety, most of what I post here is pretty fluffy, and talking about a tour where I learned about how the foundations of the civil rights movement were being laid amidst the building frenzy in the leadup to and during WWII...well, that's not fluffy at all, and I just don't really know how to write about it. Apologies for that; for what it's worth, here are a couple of thoughts -- then I will send you off to the Flickr album from the day, where I'll talk more about the tour itself.

It was a very well-done tour. My guide, Andrew, was one of the owners of the company; he was extremely knowledgeable, presented the day's information in an interesting and logical fashion, and answered all of my questions easily and thoroughly. In fact, my main regret in not having other people along was that I think other people's questions and perspectives would've added more dimension to the tour.

The way the tour was tailored to Black History Month was by working specific stories into an overall framework, and I could see how the presentation could be similarly tailored to a wide range of subjects (as Turnstile advertises on their website). Andrew went through a general overall history of the base, talking as we rode from building to building. At certain points, he would focus on how and where African-Americans fit into the story, either telling the history as part of his talk, or in a couple of cases, showing photos and playing recordings of people who actually worked at the yard during WWII telling their own stories. Some of the stories were hopeful, some horrifying, and (as already mentioned), I do feel like maybe a few of the many gaps in my knowledge of the history of the civil rights movement got filled in over the course of the day. We did also get a little window into women's history, as the yard was one of the places where "Rosie the Riveter" went to work.  

The tour actually dovetailed well with a couple of books I've read recently, one on Plessy vs. Ferguson, one on the history of the fight for civil rights in Mississippi - the latter actually started in the 1940's, so resonated very well with what I learned from the tour; before those books and this tour, I would say that most my awareness of the Civil Rights movement was mostly focused on Dr. Martin Luther King; I was still in the 1940's section of the Mississippi book at the time that I took the tour, and although the situation in Mississippi sounded much more brutal than that in Brooklyn, the same groundswell of people standing up and demanding equal treatment was working in both.

Fascinating getting to know more of our history this way - and I thought it was very relevant to where we stand now. I'm glad I went - wouldn't have spent Super Bowl Sunday any way other than the way I did. I might have to take my folks for a tour next time they're here, and if you live in NYC and have visitors who are interested in history, I can definitely recommend Turnstile Tours. In fact I may join them on another tour even without visitors, they have a wide range of places and topics that sound interesting.

Click here for the day's Flickr album.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Sunday Fun for a Good Cause - Sanctuary Sessions for the ACLU

Kicking off the St. Patrick's season with some great music for a good cause! I'm looking forward to the NYC one, which will be held from 1 to 4 in the afternoon at the Four-Faced Liar pub in the Village, at 165 West 4th St, between 6th and 7th avenues.

You can read more about the sessions in The Irish Echo, and you can find a complete list of locations on their Sanctuary Sessions Facebook page.