Sunday, August 31, 2008

Kayaking with RT

As most of my friends and family know I love kayaking. I like nothing better than spending hours on the water. And given the chance I will extol the joys of kayaking to anyone who will listen. My college roommate, and good friend, RT has heard much about my kayak trips and more than a year ago we started talking about getting her out on the water. She was having shoulder issues earlier this summer, but they have improved and our schedules finally aligned (despite her partner's broken arm) so this morning instead of heading out to Meeting, I picked RT up and we headed off for a kayak adventure.

For this first trip, we chose to launch from Charles River Canoe & Kayak in Newton. This site offers rentals and is on a gentle portion of the river. CRCK also has rental sites on Lake Cochituate in Natick and on the Charles in Boston. I don't recommend large lakes for a first kayaking experience because of wind induced waves and power boats, and the Charles in Boston tends to have quite a few power boats as well. The stretch of the river in Newton and Waltham is narrow enough to avoid the waves of open lakes and doesn't tend to have many power boats, so it met all the criteria for RT's first kayak paddle. We headed out early to avoid the inevitable crowds on this beautiful, sunny Sunday.

After making sure that RT was being taken care of by the rental staff I headed to the parking/duck feeding/launch area on the opposite shore. Once on the river it took me a couple minutes to find RT. I'd expected her to be hovering on or near the dock, but she had ventured out further to watch a blue heron having breakfast. I was entertained to discover that the rental staff had given her a boat that matched her hat.
RT in Kayak

We headed downriver, which is not my usual choice when doing a loop. Heading upriver first takes you under a number of roads (rt 30, on ramps for the turnpike and 128, the turnpike, and 128) so it takes a while to get to a section where you aren't listening to constant road noise. By heading downriver first we escaped the road noise fairly quickly, and the current on this stretch of the river is fairly minimal. Adding to that this morning was a stiff breeze blowing into our faces which we both decided was better to have at our backs on the way back.

We chatted as we paddled - about paddling, family, friends, and everything under the sun. Our pace was relaxed, a pleasant paddle on a gloriously beautiful day.
river view
If you look closely you'll notice, as we did, that there are signs of fall in the plants at the river's edge.

The river critters were quite active this morning. During our paddle we saw ducks, herons (3 in total), and to RT's delight swans with cygnets. We did resist the urge to sing the ugly duckling, though it was a close call.
ugly ducklings
It was a lovely trip and we will do it again sometime.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Somewhere

I have never been a regular at bars. The dark, the noise, and the smoke just are not my idea of a good time and I'm not much of a dancer, so there's no draw there. But there was a time in my life when I frequented a Boston bar. To tell the story we need to go back to the late 80s.

At the time I was on the Boston Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee. We met on Thursday nights at Boston City Hall. After meetings the women of the committee, Darryl, Janet, Carol and I would adjourn to the one lesbian bar in the city, Somewhere Else, which was conveniently located blocks away in the Financial District.

Thursday nights were not a big night at Somewhere during that time, so we were able to settle in at a table near the bar and talk without shouting. Over drinks we would debrief from the meeting, complaining about the boys, or worrying over the work still to be done. We didn't talk about the other aspects of our life - dating, family, our paid work - we stuck to talking about our shared work. I do remember Darryl talking about when she had worked in a bar, though I don't remember what bar that was or where.

Somewhere Else featured a bar area on the first floor, with a stage on the opposite wall, and tables scattered around. Bathrooms were down a narrow staircase in the basement. In the way of lesbian bars there was a men's room and a women's room - to meet code requirements - but the designations were ignored. Upstairs featured a dance floor, a second bar and a room with a pool table.

I'd been to Somewhere Else a couple of times before with my wife and other college friends. But those visits were infrequent. The bar wasn't convenient and since we weren't single we weren't looking for places to find love. There was one memorable night when shortly after Amy and I left Somewhere Else we shared a kiss while stopped at a redlight. The driver in the car behind us flashed the lights and honked the horn - letting us know they'd seen the kiss. When the light turned green they pulled into the lane next to us and passed, taking a second to take a peek at us. I happened to look over as they passed and was rewarded with the sight of jaws dropping as this hetero couple realizing that we were both women. Amy and I laughed most of the way home, and thinking about it still makes me smile.

Shortly after we bought our house I left the Pride Committee - burned out from the politics of it, busy with work and the new house, and not willing to make the drive home after those evening meetings. And not too long after Somewhere Else ceased to be. A fire that started in the bathhouse that shared the building and a lack of appropriate insurance proved to be too much for the owners.

Other bars have come and gone since then, but I've rarely visited them. In my mind when I imagine a lesbian bar it is Somewhere Else that comes to mind. And invariably I think about Darryl, Carol, and Janet. I've lost touch with all but Carol and I don't speak to her very often, but there is a warm place in my heart for each of them, the work we did together (planning a party for 40,000 - 50,000 of our closest friends), and the friendship we shared over drinks at Somewhere Else.

To read more Sunday Scribblings go here.

(I haven't participated in Sunday Scribblings in a while, though I used to be a regular.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

PhotoSharks: Temperature

Gallileo Thermometer

See more PhotoSharks here.

Thursday Challenge: Wheels

old Bicycle
Taken on the Wellesley College campus in May.

See more Thursday Challenge here.

Lensday: Alone

lone sailboat

This is evidence of the magic of composition. When I took this the river was full of sailboats. By positioning myself carefully I was able to capture this boat looking like it had the river to itself. The river really looked like this:

See more Lensday here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday Challenge: Clouds

Evening sky a couple of weeks ago.

See more Tuesday Challenge here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Macroday: Wet

blue marker
Lane marker in the pool at Wellesley College.

(Taken underwater)

(We had a great vacation, and there is much to tell. I hope to have time soon...)

See more MacroDay here.