Saturday, September 30, 2006

Meeting of the 3 Rivers

Milwaukee, as I understand it, is a Native American word meaning the place where three rivers meet. Indeed, 3 of them do meet to form the inner harbor which flows into Lake Michigan. One of them, the Milwaukee River, has appeared on this site before as I often paddle 3 of its sections.Today, however, is about a few shots I took while walking Ansel, our German Shepard.

One of Milwaukee's best points is its park system which is extensive. Everywhere in the county you can find parks and parkways along one of the rivers. I live in an urban area within a walk of one of these areas. Eastabrook Park is a 5 minute drive...if I hit all the red lights. When I walked Ansel there a few days ago it was obvous that the park was getting ready for fall.

Here, within a 1/4 mile walk one can see a fisherman working below one of the falls:

A heron doing his own fishing:

And the two coexisting:

Like the big lake, the waters here can be calm or, 6 feet tothe left of the picture above, boiling:

It's nice to have some eye candy so close at hand.

Paddle safe...


Friday, September 29, 2006

I feel it in my bones...
Winter is nigh.

It was about 60 F degrees in the house when I woke this morning, but I didn't have to feel the cold to know. The chill has been in my bones, mostly in the late afternoon, for several days now.

While walking Ansel, I've noticed the leaves have begun their ritual of submission to the inevitable change that is to come.

Even the burrs show signs of giving up their life-cycle.

Day by day, a small, almost imperceptible, part of daylight is lost and a slug of darkness oozes in to take its place. The weather alternates, quickly, between clear crisp high pressure systems with picture book clouds:

And days of cold drizzle with a dampness that penetrates to the bone:This time of year is sobbering for me. It touches something hard-wired in my brain (or is it my soul?). It is the closing of the circle for this year as the cycles of life go on. And, oddly enough, two lines from two poems keep going through my mind.

1. "I must go down to the sea again..."

2. "Go not gently into that dark night...."

Paddle safe...


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Later this day....

Aha, uploaded 2 of 3. This is just a test.

I'm Still Off....

and the site's crappy photo upload still doesn't work. Still...

Paddle safe

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hello, Universe?

The Universe seems to be trying to send me a message inasmuch as this is day 2 of the free (and worth it) blogspot photo uploader not working. I depend on my visuals to stimulate my thinking and to open the spigot of my right brain. Since I believe there are no accidents, I am pondering why I am being so tortured (that's called the Victime speaking...but I kind of digress).

My hero-blogger and webb expert, Derrick, advises me that I simply need to use such and such site to store my photos and then use the URL to down load them here. And, while we're at it, let me tell you how to do an angioplasty on your kitchen table. I'm retired. I'm not supposed to have to think. The world owes me a living (and, as my mother used to tell me, "All you have to do is go our and collect it."). Alas, I am too lazy to even make the collections.

Maybe it was the rainy day or realizing that it is now dark when I awaken and winter is nigh. What ever the cause, I am moodier and less tolerant of frustration. And...I lack creativity and motivation just now.

Since this is my problem, and one with which I have no reason or right to burden you, I need to step away for a bit. It is probably best to take a sabbatical until I have something other than a self-oriented thought to share on these pages. After all, if I depress all of you, who will rescue me (that's the Victim again...alas...poor me)?

In reality, I am happy at my core and thinking clearly. The fact is that, in spite of that, my wits are dulled and my creativity shut down. Temporarily, I hope.

So, I will sit back and wait for good things to happen while I try to figure out what the Universe is trying to tell me to do and why my storm roll stopped working. If, in the interim, the photo loader thingy works, I will share an image or two, just to stay in touch.

Paddle safe...

Monday, September 25, 2006

What if it doesn't work?
(Imagine a lovely photo here)

My first assignment in the Air Force was in F-105 jet fighters, and one of the first things i did upon arriving at the base in Thailand was to get a parachute. The sargent who issued my chute looked to be about 14 years old. I remember him saying, "If this chute doesn't work, bring it back and I'll give you another one." Then he laughed good naturedly. I cringed inside and wondered, what if I need it and it doesn't work (the gray-haired sargent at parachute school had begun his lecture by telling us, "Gentlemen, the most common cause of death in a parachute accident is violent impact with the ground). It was all coming together in my mind.

This train of thought began a few moments ago when blogspot's picture-uploader failed to work...again, and I began to think of all the things we take for granted which, if they failed, could get us killed.

Breaks on the car, the air bag, the pilot staying awake, the trucker coming at us not being drunk, the hull that opens up 5 miles off shore, the paddle that snaps during a critical roll, etc. etc...

I guess I am more sensitive because (besides being a card-carrying pessimist...but I digress) I spent my work life in a career that allowed for little tolerance for shoddy work. Most crafstmen, should they not get it right the first time, can redo their work. I didn't have that luxury...just as the pilot and the prachute packer didn't. And if we were to screw up it would be others that would suffer the consequences of our shoddy work.

On the other hand, I just flew across the ocean--twice--in living room comfort while the flight crew flawlessly handled the huge aircraft. And in Thailand...we never lost a man because of the ejection seat or parachute failing. Matter of fact, I have done thousands of proceedures with precious few problems. Hmmm...maybe the photo thing will work tomorrow. Mean while, I'd avoid airplanes and parachute jumps, and--as always--

Paddle safe..

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Any One For Pool?

Soon, the local park will look like this. The over night temps have already flirted with frost, and the days don't get quite as warm as they've been for the past few months. Fall is here. Winter shall ensue. Come even.

Here in Wisconsin, we usually don't get to enjoy the long autumns I remember from when I lived in Washington D.C.. In fact, one year here, autumn was on a tuesday. It generally gives way quickly to winter, and the shores of our launch sites look like this.

Still, being the true seakayakers we are, the hardy paddlers of Milwaukee will head out as long as there is open water and somewhere to launch. It is part of the sport, part of the heritage of the Inuits who gave us this way of being on the water in small crafts.

Still, some of us do retreat to an indoor pool to practice braces, rolls and other maneavures that are more comfortable to do in water that does not freeze your eyelids shut.

Many of us belong to a group called Badgerland State Boating Society, often referred to as BS Squared. In addition to a small annual fee, we each kick in $10 per pool session. For those of you looking to get into this sort of thing, I have listed some of the essential info you will need to stay safe during a pool event. This is by no means an exhaustive list and, as always, one should consult a doctor and avoid excessive use.

1. Have a compass. Our pool is olympic size and, should fog set in, one could have trouble getting back to their launch site.

2. Know the compass deviation of your pool's area (see #1). Decide ahead of time if you will be using true north or compass north.

3. Be sure you have an up to date chart of your pool's waters.

4. As always, check a weather report before leaving home. It may be fine going in, but coming out you could freeze your hull off.

5. Check ahead of time to see if your Marine VHF radio is effective in your pool. Remember that they are line of site and that contacting the Coast Guard may not be possible.

6. Carefully select the flares you carry. This often is determined by the brightness of the lights in the pool and/or the height of the roof.

7. Are your tow lines in good shape?

8. Carry lots of fresh water. Just as ocean salt water is every where yet undrinkable, so too is chlorinated (and sometimes urinated...but I digress) pool water often unpotable.

9. Carry enough snacks in case you find yourself on a distant side of the pool and have to wait out the weather (this can be avoided if you have done, this is, technically, not digressing).

10. Finally, dress properly. Remember, in winter layers are always appropriate. Some pools ar black tie optional.

Extra bonus suggestion: Be careful of those white water paddlers in their little boats. They are fast, tricky and unpredictable, just like all those people your mother warned you about.

In doors or out,

Paddle safe...


Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Stamp of Approval
Big Brother is always watching.

I beieve that the hardest things we have to do is pick a doctor and an auto machanic. Why? Because they both have mysterious knowledge, they both can drastically effect our day-to-day lives and (most of all) we have no way of knowing if they know what they are doing. How are we to tell?

Say hello to ratings, certifications, diplomas, rankings and other stamps of approval. How do we know an actress is any good? Well, she must be. She won an Oscar, didn't she? How do we know this guy is safe enough to come out with us on the big lake? Well, hell, he is a one, two, three or more-star rated paddler by ACA, the BCU or the American Acadamey of Kayaking Assesments.

Your mechanic shows his certificates of training on the walls of his place, just like your neighborhood brain surgeon. And, speaking of doctors, yours has a diploma (MD), certificates showing he completed internship, residency and fellowship...and he is board certified. You have no idea what that means or who or what certified him or her. Point here is, they all have The Stamp of Approval...from somewhere.

Fine and dandy. I would feel safer going to a doctor with all the wall paper up than one who smokes a cigar, operates out of the back of a van and says, "Trust me." On the other hand, I have seen too many "highly qualified" and board certified doctors who I would not allow to treat my dog ((I love that dog...but I digress). The harsh truth is that it is impossible to use a written test to see how someone will perform under fire.

At least in sports, like kayaking and judo, one (read:I) has to actually demonstrate some level of skill to get TheStamps of Approval and, knowing what I went through to get them, I tend to trust the assessment of other paddlers and judokas. Having mumbled all this, we come to our personal need to have "grade AAA" stamped on our asses.

I see paddlers struggling with the decision of whether or not to try and get a higher BCU rating or to take the open water test to be an open water instructor. I see colleagues, who are instructors, trying to decide whether or not to put in the time and money to be stamped "he who teaches instructors to be instructors." And I understand all this.

Those of us who teach mostly do so on a very part time basis. When I go up to Madison to teach an intro course, I clear just over $1.10 after gas and taxes for a 3 hour class and a 170 mile round trip of driving. How smart can I be? I will never make back what it cost to become a certified instructor. I can never recover the expense of having The Stamp of Approval on my ass. I spent and the time and money for the simple reason that I love to teach.

Sometimes one just wants (read: needs) someone they respect to tell them they are competent. Sometimes it is ego. Mostly, and I truly believe this, we want to know that we are, in fact, competent and safe to be with, that we are not a danger to fellow paddlers, that we are not the weak link in the chain. We take pride in our skills and challenge ourselves to improve because we love the game and, when you get right down to it, that is the nature of folks who take up risk sports. In the end, we seek some sort of balance between that feeling of brovada that wants to go out in anyting and everything and that gut-feeling of fear that tells us we may be getting in over our heads.

Be honest with yourself. You know, or should know, your capabilities and your limits; and no piece of paper (or wallet-size card) stating otherwise will change that reality. You are as good as you are...right now. You can be better tomorrow. (We all know how to get to Carnigie Hall).

Paddle safe...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Gearing up for the annual battle...

It was warm in Italy, often 90F in Roma. And, with the exception of 23 days during which there were light showers, the skies never owned a cloud. Add to that the fact that we walke, walked, walked, and climbed, climbed, climed. All in all, a picture of a scenerio conducive to good physical and mental health (oh yeah, there was the olive oil and the veggies...and I digress).

First day home I find a clear beautiful day and immediately headed out on Lake Michigan. Sun and excercise and good health.Then, yesterday and after a cold night, the temps were in the 60-68 range. The wind came up, and I felt a chill that went right to my bones. I put on a farmer john, even though the water is still in the 60's, just like the air. Since I was going out to roll, I even wore a dry top and a neoprene cap...what I would usually wear for much colder conditions. And it felt okay while I was doing it. Still, there was the deep chill when I got home, even after a hot shower.

It is around 6 am, the wind is whistling outside, the skies are dirty, and I don't know the temperature; but I do know that the annual battle is at hand. I could tell yesteday when I found myself looking for sweets to eat late in the evening.

The days will get short, weather will keep me inactive (relatively) and the vitamin D and serotonin levels in my brain will drop. A set up for feeling bummed. What to do?

Firstly, I am aware it is coming, know a lot about it and can prepare. I must stay active, and I must watch my diet. In the next few days the bright light will come out of the basement, and I will spend 30-60 minutes each morning reading with the light less than an arm's length away. And I will talk frequently with my two favorite daughters just to check in and see how we are all doing with my famaly's genes. Finally, I will take Calcitrate (trademarke) because it contains vitamin D3, the active form of the vitamin.

If you know what I am talking about here, you need no further explanation. If you do not, no explanation will do (sound like a previous blog?). In any event, take care of yourself over the next 6 months, especially if you live in the colder parts of the globe. And always...

Paddle safe...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Meet the Paddler
Derrick Mayoleth

You may have seen this wonderful man and not known it as he is usually in this, or a similar, position:

Well, I am proud to be able to have captured a rare moment in his life when he was actually just sitting in his boat:

That's because this non-stop, perpetual motion, perpetually creating man is always in action. He sleeps little and is a slave to his right-brained conceptual mind. As a blogger, he is brilliant, prolific and courages (you must see his blog today...but I digress). As a speller of English words...well...he sucks (in real life, spelling doesn't count).This is the man with whom JB and I enjoyed Irish Whiskey and stories-into-the-wee-hours. during the Door County Symposium. He is our friend, and he is an accomplished and progressive paddler who is always pushing himself to learn something more. He worships the goddess Freya, and just might permanently dislocate something if he doesn't stop trying to act like a German gymnastics.It is probably no accident that Derrick exists in Baraboo, Wisconsin, the home of the circus, because that is what his life (at least to me) appears to be. And I envy him.

He is a daddy with a delightful son and a wife who paddles. He white waters, sea kayaks (during which time he is never without his Optio waterproof camera), and he does all the Inuit stuff...and he does it all well.

I cannot get enough of his creative, impulsive and wise thinking and always look forward to his next..often self-effacing-quip. His openess and willingness to share his personal foibles is a testament to his courage.

Meet Derrick, the paddler and blogger and daddy and husband. A man among men.

and you...

Paddle safe..


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Be it ever so humble...

The last night in Bellagio on Lake Como was beautiful.

As was the sunrise the next morning.

We had lovely views as we drove down the winding and very narrow roads toward Milan.

Another time I will tell you of the hectic day trying to find the hotel outside of Milan or, rather, near the airport miles away from Milan. And I will tell you, perhaps, of the frustrating attempt to return the car to the small rental agency hidden in a large airport. And there is the 99 mile dash through the Danish airport to make our connection.

For now, however, I would rather savour the memories of good pasta and wine,

well prepared vegetables,

and wonderful dolcis.

We arrived late last night, and I got to bed around midnight. Jet lag aside, I popped awake at 5 am. It is now just after 7am. I am back in my home, however humble. My palace. Yes, the Vatican was nice and had a chapel with fine art over head. I, however, was greeted by my own chapel with its own unique ceiling:

Just as the years have eroded the steps of the coleseum, it seems a drip has done as much for our home. Oh well, back to reality or, as the old joke says (I will tell it to you some time, but I digress): Back on your head, coffee break is over.

Paddle safe...


Monday, September 18, 2006

Last Leg

It is about 8pm and we are in a hotel outside of Milan, Italy. If all goes well, Lady Linda and I will fly to Amsterdam, Ohio and Milwaukee on Tuesday. I am tired, and she is ill with a mild virus. Time to come home.
Here is one more pic of the view from our hotel in Bellagio and looking across Lake Como. I am so tired that I cannot recall if I have already posted this. If I have, apologies.

The next "image" I look forward to is seeing our daughter and soninlaw in Cincinnati during our layover.

Till then...

Paddle safe...DS

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Lake of Ballagio

Drove the autostradda in a car with a 6-speed manual transmission. Great fun. Then we ended up in this hotel on the lake.

This a view from our room looking left which is toward the south.

And to the north...

I am beat and have had no time to do more. It is almost 9 pm here. I will try and share more tomorrow.

It is beautiful here, and part of me has already left for home. This has been too long a trip.

Paddle safe...


Friday, September 15, 2006

Hodge Podge

Yesterday we visited the Chianti Classico wine region and tasted some wonderful windes. If it doesn't say Classico on the label and if there is not a black rooster, it ain't the real stuff. I noticed these bottles on the way into the testing room.
On the way out, they looked like this:

I drove from Florence to the villa today and enjoyed the free-wheeling style of driving here (I have an international license). There seems to be a lot of unwritten rules and a deep-seated faith in the other guy. What we would call a close call at home is just the way it is done here. If it were not, nothing would move on these narrow streets and highways.

Two nights ago, I spent some time alone in the olive grove beneath the villa. It was peaceful and warm, and the wind whispered to me.

We travel tomorrow, driving to Lake Como. I will make every effort to post the day after. FYI: local time now is 1:55 pm

Paddle Safe..


Thursday, September 14, 2006


Due to a wonderful road trip to Chianti Country and tasting of several wonderful local products, I do not trust myself to write any commentary on anything today. Instead, I return to my room to sleep off my stupor.

Do not drink and paddle.
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

From Florence and surroundings

Here is a pic you won't see on No siree. I found a rec kayaker...IN ITALY on the greenish Arno river. He has a 90 degree feathered paddle and a smooth stroke with a nice pause at the top...although, he did seem to be an arm paddler. I yelled out JB's name and number for him to call for English.

Here is a view of the Arno from one of its many bridges:

And, finally, here is a shot of the olive trees behind the, trailer;

There it is, a hard day's output, and all before siesta time.

Miss the big lake and am ready to come home. We leave here, by car, on saturday for Lake Como and home (by plane, not car) after the weekend. I will continue to make these little posts when ever I can and to share some of the scenery.


Paddle safe


Monday, September 11, 2006

There is Life after Roma

Rome was an amazing city, and one of contrasts. Here is sthe closest thing to sea kayaking I could find:
(excuse the quality of the pics while I am away. I am using a Rube Goldberg set up to get them posted and edited...but I digress)

This is the closest it came to white water action:

There were beggars:And there was garbage...everywhere:

So, we followed the signs and headed by train to Florence, then by car to a villa up in the hills where they grow olives and make oil (oglio...the g is silent)

This is a view looking out from our tent, and above is our camp site (we are, of course, roughing it. The entire place isn't ours:).

Now, more than anything, I want to respect the local culture. So, Having had bread, cheese, fruit, etc. for lunch, I must decide whether to siesta or join Lady Linda pool side. Desicions. Decisions. Desicions.

Y'all paddle safe...