Adventure wear

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MLK day of service 2015 – idlewild park

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Back to the marshes of most southern Queens, for a few hours of solid physical labor picking up waste from Hurricane Sandy. Good god is there a lot of plastic in our lives. It was difficult to stay focussed on the activity of clean up and not get angry about how we live now. Or fantasize about how I’m going to never buy another plastic bottle, lighter, plastic bag, plastic toy, anything ever again!

It makes a woman want to go off grid, seeing the effects of the typical American lifestyle. Is there anything that can be done? How do we stop the tsunami of crap?

I’m glad I chose to spend my day doing the cleanup instead of going to REI for more coveted adventure gear. And the memories will make me pause every time I pick up something new- (even a lip balm- I picked 6 or so out in my tiny quadrant)

On Saturday we watched Bx46 at the Museum of the Moving Image. It’s a French documentary about the Hunt’s Point/ Fulton fish Market and the other industrial uses of that region of the Bronx. It was beautiful and disheartening in the same way as the scrap of tidal marsh at Idlewild Park. People work here, people live here, people are not the problem, but Jesus what a mess.

Tomorrow is No Complaints Tuesday. Any tips for staying positive?

Water Island

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Last year’s sweater design and various catching up

IMG_0014.JPGIt’s cold enough to pull out the bulky sweaters. I am modeling last year’s design- I find it is best to put away sweaters for six months after I make them so I can look at them without seeing only the flaws. This was an experimental sweater – I learned to steek for adding the sleeves, it was worked bottom up instead of topdown and I also created the colorwork patterns from a few I found in books. In addition, I decided I only wanted to work on thin #6 circular needles so it has the heft and hang of chain mail.

I can’t face frogging it to make something else, but I also can’t imagine wanting to wear it, unless I become a winter fisherwoman or urban park ranger as it is way too heavy for climate controlled office wear. So I’ve hung it in the closet to contemplate for the season. Next up: a light wool cardigan, not of my own design.

On Saturday I fulfilled my spring wish of canoeing on Newtown Creek. I joined the North Brooklyn Boat Club in April but then I read (part of) Tom’s Riverand got completely freaked out about cancer clusters and the fact that the club is in a Superfund site. Then, the club managed to catch some evil doers who were using the creek as a dump. And now, it is a beautiful fall and I am redirecting my longing to get out into nature in the Lake District toward our local environment and I felt silly I hadn’t been brave enough to visit the club.

I saw a kingfisher and cormorants and mussels, making a go of it in our polluted neighborhood. The boat club is made up of four shipping containers and there is one boat building one that smells and feels like my father’s shop. The volunteers cookout by their tiny dock, and they host classes in an education hut. One woman about my age told me she joined in March and has been out on the water 4 times a week since. Not a bad way to spend the season. Maybe next summer.

Also, in tree news- our tree is doing great, no thanks to me. I only watered it three times all summer, but my lovely neighbors set up a roster and we had a good summer for rain so all the new trees fared quite well. And, due to all our complaints about trash on our block, our city council man allocated funding for workers to clean up our avenue and install fancy tree guards. Gentrification at work!

Autumn Equinox = Time to brew

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Yup, my apartment is finally just about cool enough to consider boiling wort on the stove for over an hour. This is a one gallon batch of cream ale, easy brew and cleanup, to get back in the brewing habit again. My dad is drying the hops he grew this summer for us to use in experimental brews, but our biggest challenge is basic temperature control during the initial fermentation. This makes your beer taste weird. As a new brewer I am amazed that I can make anything marginally drinkable in a bucket in my living room, however, my human cohabitant feels we could do better.

I watched several episodes of Wartime Farm while we boiled, feeling inspired by the hardships of the British archaeologists recreating the WWII homefront hardships. I think this nostalgia for selfsufficient work is many layered for all viewers. Many of the tools, tractors, and tasks are familiar to me from some part of my eighties childhood in a New England farm town. So I watch longing to be canning with my mother in our kitchen, dogs staring in through the screen door. I also think of my grandmother Jean, who found a real purpose and escape from a difficult childhood by signing up for the Army in Britain as a 16 year old. The work and adventure ended up taking her around the world and setting a course for her children and grandchildren that she never could have predicted.

And I am planning my next trip to northern England, where my ancestors tended hogs.

Lake District Planning

I am still (after 3 weeks! I know!) on a Coast to Coast walking path trip planning tear. I have my guidebook and I’ve picked out some likely pubs and B & Bs. I’ve emailed my English cousins to see if they might be available for a visit before or after our walk. I got on my bike this week and did a long ride up to the Bronx for the first time since the spring. I’m critically analyzing my wardrobe for travel readyness.

There are a few big questions to sort out.

1) Will it rain every day and make me miserable and hate the walk? (I check the weather at the starting point in St. Bees each day- today is predicted to be 61 and partly cloudy.)

2) Should I try to camp? It’s so inexpensive! If you bring your own “kit” and carry it, it is only 5 pounds a night per person. We haven’t used our tent since the 4th of July, which was one night, and we were quite happy to abandon our campsite for the Franklin’s nice cabin after that 8 hour period of “roughing it”. I’m imagining a stranger reading this and thinking there is no way in hell that whoever is writing this will survive 15 nights of camping. However, in addition to the cheapness, camping is the only way to give your walk flexibility as far as accommodation goes. It is a popular walk and all b&bs and hostels need to be booked far in advance. On the other hand, why not keep it simple and stay somewhere nice and convenient for a little extra money.

3) Should we try to do the whole walk at once? At a ten mile a day pace, this will take 20 days. Alternatively, we could split it up into weeklong sections, sacrificing some of the triumph of long distance pilgrimage for the ease of spreading the expense and difficulty (and fun planning) over several years.

I imagine the Lake District will look a bit like this-

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Groundswell, Olana Hudson, NY

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Another weekend upstate- this time with two events to attend and autumn weather to match the atmospheric music.