Saturday, March 31, 2007

Getting My Sh*t TogetherDuring a truly warm day this past week, I got all my stuff out of the car and the garage and put it all out on the driveway. This was it. This was to be the date noted in world history as the day I got it together. My mission: organize my stuff into an easy-to-find-anything arrangement (I chose this to do as it was easier than figuring out the meaning of life...but I digress). Lots of luck.

How in blazes can anyone organize kayaking gear, especially the clothing? Come to think about it, it is mostly (so I thought at first) about the clothing stuff since it is fairly easy to keep track of a boat and a paddle and a pfd.

Do I put gloves in one bin, head gear in another and foot wear in another? Do I keep a pile of base layers and one of fleece tops? Where does long under wear go? Paddle tops? Shorties and Farmer Johns? Or do I make up bins by weather? Warm air/warm water. Cold air/cold water. cold air/warm waater. Cold water/tornadoe warnings.

Then there are the gazillion little bits of stuff. The two-part epoxy syringe, for instance. Does it go with the duct tape (of which I now have a dozen rolls...I need a support group...but I digress, again). All repair stuff together? But some has to be in the boat, some available on a day paddle and some to go along for a longer outing. There are bungees and rolls of various sizes of string. 707 protective spray and my Fabreeze bottle have to be in there, don't they?

By now I have stuff everywhere, just like in George Carlon's famous bit on travel. You see, my basic problem is that if I can't see it, I can't find it. So I have all those different shaped plastic bins that I had imagined (while buying them at the hardware store) would dovetail nicely into the back of the Blazer. I have filled them all and with all combinations: Tops in one v. one with warm water gear and one with cold. But wait, I need that warm top for today's warm water but cold air day.

Anyway, it is all in bins and bags, and most of it is in the car. I have risen to the cause and found a solution that uniquely suits my method of thinking. It is called the rummage-around-until-you-find-it method of kayak gear storage, and I honestly believe it is my invention. So start sending me your royalty checks people.

Paddle safe...

Friday, March 30, 2007

I are An Idiot

I may have once wrote about a news article which told of fireman going into a burning bedroom to find the bed on fire and a man sleeping in it. They woke him (he was drunk...but I digress) and asked him what had happened. "I don't know," he answered using slurred speech, "it was on fire when I got in it." He is an idiot. So am I

Yesterday, I took the SOF I had built at a workshop with Mark Rogers at Superior Kayaks. I also took the tuilik he had made. I launched onto Lake Michigan and was looking good. The boat is grey and the tuilik black (as were my neoprene mittens...but I digress...again). I decided I would stay near shore and work out in a small area. Things were going well at this point. I did some braces and sculled a bit and was feeling every bit the competent paddler.

A light on-shore breeze was stirring up a gentle swell, just enough so I could feel the water. One tiny swell rolled through and it felt like the boat was going to tip over. I braced and continued on. Gradually, however, the boat felt less and less stable, like the first time I ever sat in a sea kayak. I began to doubt myself and did not like the feeling of my confidence ebbing away. I started back toward the launch site and noted that the boat felt even less stable. Then I became aware that there was water in the boat.

Of course, I thought, my tuilik must not be sealed tightly, and I have taken on water. Then I realized that the water was not inside the sock with me but, rather, between the sock and the hull. Holy crap, I am sinking! I paddled and braced like hell hoping to make it back to shore alive. The boat was getting harder and harder to control. Then, slowly at first, the bow started to rise and an odd thought went through my mind: I thought of the Nile River (what the hell?). Then I thought of Cleopatra as the stern started going under. The stern touched bottom just as the bow reached the beach. I sat, waist high in water, and wondered what had just happened.

After wrestling with several hundred pounds of water-filled-SOF, I noticed a tear in my hull. I noticed, too, that it was an very neat and linear one and knew that I should have felt it when it had occurred. Anything that would have pierced and sliced me that way should have made itself known at the time. UNLESS, unless it had a hole in it when I got into it. Later, at home, I found the culprit and put the entire story together:

First, I usually have two float bags in the SOF, but I had removed the stern one for another purpose and had not returned it. That explained the butt-down landing, like an airplane flaring at touch down. Bad mistake, almost unforgivable. I also realized that, somehow, the line that held the boat hanging in the garage had been tightened (not sure how, yet) and that the garage door opener thingy had apparently made the surgical incision in the hull.

So ends my tale of woe and idiocy. I learned a lot of lessons (again) and was lucky the tuition wasn't higher. Now, I get to practice repairing a SOF.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Do It Your Way
Of all the sports in which I've participated, I cannot recall one that offers the variety of expression as much as kayaking does. We might all start out with the same basics but, from there, the possibilities seem endless (which would be infinite and not likely, but I use poetic license...and I digress).

There are the recreational paddlers who tend to paddle wider boats in calmer waters on nicer days with less expense. Most of us, I suspect, call ourselves sea kayakers, spend more on everything, have lots of it and sometimes go out in conditions that cause our spouses, friends and partners to fret about our sanity.
Then there are the racers who work out like marathon runners and paddle boats that are to rec boats what thongs are to boxer shorts.

Even within the sea kayaking fraternity there are day paddlers, shuttle paddlers, out and back paddlers and trippers who pack their food, fire, clothes and Irish whiskey into small dark compartments in (dare I say) the bowels of their little boats.
And, speaking of boats, there are plastic boats, glass boats, Kevlar boats, carbon boats, inflatable boats, sit on top boats and skin on frame mention the main ones. We buy them, trade them, hang them in garages and put them atop our cars. We build them from scratch, from kits, out of strips, out of planks and sometimes cover them with canvas or nylon or some other synthetic material. Then, depending on the "skin", we paint them with outdoor oil paint or, perhaps, Rustoleum.
Then there are the folks in little crafts and wearing brain buckets as they shoot down rapids and over drops and in and out of swirls in the river.
The thing is, and what I like best, is that we are all members of the same group. We are all kayaker people who share the essence of the game...smelly neoprene.
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dry is Dry,
Warm is Warm
So we got ready to launch, Greg, Jennifer and I. It was warm yesterday, almost as warm as the day before. The lake, of course, was still trying to get into the mid 40s. Dressing is always a compromise in such conditions. Dry suit? Absolutely, but not too many layers or one will sweat to death. The water is still too cold to roll in order to cool off. Then I saw it.

A squall line coming down from the north west. It was like a dark line of rolling black clouds, and I knew the weather would change soon. In moments (seconds, not minutes...but I digress), the temperature dropped almost 20 degrees and a Nor' Easter blew an even lower chill factor. The sun disappeared.

We paddled around inside the break wall, just to practice. Inside my dry suit, I could feel the fingers of cold trying to get to me and knew that, even if the weather hadn't changed, I was not properly dressed for the water. Lessons relearned.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Aches, Pains and Neurogenesis
Excellent paddling yesterday. An off shore wind with air temps in the high 70s and water in the very low 40s. This required a dry suit and lots of deodorant. An aggressive high brace and scull produced weird temperature differentials along my body (but I digress). The thing is, I am so much smarter this morning...really (it just doesn't show).
Studies with MRI devices have shown that the growth of new brain cells is stimulated by exercise. It occurs in the dentate gyrus where "normal" decline of memory takes place with aging. Results are on the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Having read about this, I am really stoked to get out paddling today and to get even smarter. Now, where the hell did I leave my car keys?
Paddle safe...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Paddlers...start your engines
It is actually warm...warm...outside, and the season of unstable weather is here. It is 68 F and sunny with chances of rain this afternoon (of course we have a 3 pm paddle scheduled...but I digress). It is time to empty the garage and the blazer and organize for the upcoming season. And what a season it promises to be.
First there is Paddle Fest, given on the river downtown by Laacke & Joy, a local shop. I will be doing safety, trying to pull people out of the river before the bacteria eats their flesh or the PCBs change their DNA. I get to do a safety talk (I am on the Milwaukee Harbor Commission's Safety panel...but Digress, again) and a talk on traditional boats (hopefully, Greg will help me out there).
This event is scheduled around the time my grandson has promised to make an appearance, so it is going to be interesting. Perhaps just Greg will end up doing the talk.
June will hopefully be busy with teaching and paddling.
July is a biggy. There is the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium here in Wisconsin Sponsored by Rutabaga of Madison). I love that event and do so look forward to the teaching, time on the water and hanging with a group of excellent people. JB and I will be there and, hopefully, Greg. I know Nydia wants to be there, and I hope she can make it.
Following that, there is the drive to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and, I hope, time to paddle Picture Rocks National Shore with JB and Greg. That get us into Grand Marais, Michigan for the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium the following weekend. Last year the weather took charge of some of that get together, and I am hoping for a better climate this time around.
Then there is local paddling until fall when Mark and Celeste of Superior Kayaks host their annual rendezvous at Peninsula State Park back up in Door County.
Geez, I already feel like I need a nap.
Paddle safe...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

First Time on the Last Night

Last evening was BSBS's last pool session, and I finally got my Peter Strand SOF onto the water. Unlike the SOF I built (it is skinned in canvas...but I digress), this one is skinned with nylon covered with RustOleum paint. Any how, it is an extremely low volume boat made for rolling. As you can see, it has a very low profile and, after getting some water aboard, the deck line became the water line.

And roll, she does. I hit the usual ones, found the shot gun or arm pit roll easy enough. Then, for the first time, I managed to chest scull and recover. I am hoping to be able to make QAJAQ Training Camp again this year and add some new rolls to my recovery. Between now and then, I plan to get a Norsak and learn to roll with that.

Interestingly, the canvas SOF tends to tighten up in the water while nylon stretches. When I was finished for the evening, I could see the impressions my bare heels left on the bottom. I need to add a mat to distribute the pressure more evenly. In any event, it was a good evening for me. Now, we only have the cold waters of Lake Michigan in which to roll, and they are still trying to get into the mid forties (F).

Paddle safe...


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Eaten Any Bisphenol-A today?

If you think not, don't be so sure, because the stuff is everywhere and in "everything". It is in baby bottles, soup can liners and those colorful water bottles we like to lug around in our hatches. Bisphenol-A (B-A) is one of those blessings we have received by living better through chemistry and, in most studies, traces of it are present in all of us.

B-A is what polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins come from (in part). It is used because it is tough and is said to withstand high temperatures. Unfortunately, it leaches into hot or alkaline liquids that may be put into containers made of the stuff.

I say unfortunately because the molecule mimics estrogen and, consequently, occupies estrogen receptor sites. This, in turn, can alter breast and prostrate tissue. It is known to cause cancer in lab animals. Some researchers believe it is causing genetic abnormalities in humans (might explain white water paddlers...but I digress). By the way, it is present in plastic baby bottles (can you say glass?).

Those who study this kind of thing are due to come out with a report for the feds, but they are so overwhelmed with data that the report has been delayed. Meanwhile, we have to wonder if that pretty bottle in the day hatch, cooking under the mid day sun, is producing freak soup for our little genes. Thank goodness for this news, I was about to run out of things to worry about.

Paddle safe...


Friday, March 23, 2007

Thank You
Rube Goldberg
For those too young to remember, Rube Goldberg was a cartoon in which elaborate schemes to accomplish simple tasks were illustrated. For instance, a ball would roll onto a ramp which, in turn tipped a cup over spilling its contents into a pan which, in turn, weighted down another lever which, in turn, struck a match afire which, in turn, burned a string which...etc.. That's why, when some one comes up with a make-shift solution to something, it is called a Rube Goldberg.

Problem: We have a two car garage, and we have two 4 kayaks. Actually, I have 5 kayaks and, since Wisconsin is a if-you're-married-she-owns-half-of-everything-state, I only get half the garage (it's not fair, but it's the law...but I digress). That's why my car sits out in all weather and my side of the garage looks (looked) like this:What's a guy to do? Some how, I had to "steal" some of Lady Linda's garage space, but she would hear none of it. After all, her side of the garage is so disgustingly neat that she could get a food vending permit for it (my side qualifies as a land fill site...but I digress, again). So, off to the law library to steep myself in the law and, ta-da, I find a loop hole. According to section 8 paragraph 7 of 26.55 of the code of shared property, Lady Linda may own half the garage, but it is not so clear as to what in that half she actually has claim to. Think about it: she might own the floor space on one side of the garage and own the roof over the other half of the garage. Are you following this? The same would be true of the ground under the garage. Since I have no interest in tunneling under her car, I boldly claimed (when she wasn't home) the air over her car as the half of the air-space that I own, and...ta-da...problem solved. (I know, I am occupying virtually 100% of the air space, however I my heart....ceeded to her all the land under my half of the garage). Thank you Rube Goldberg.

Paddle Safe...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

It's Spring
(and I can prove it)
How do I know? Well, first of all, the calendar and all the news papers say it's spring, and I believe everything I read in the newspapers (I also believe in the tooth fairy...but I digress). Besides, when I look around I see that the ice is off the river and that some color is emerging along its banks.

Then, too, the melt off has revealed this lovely leaf that has somehow remained beautiful in spite of being buried in snow for weeks on end.And, of course, I have seen many well as other migratory birds. But most of all, I know it is spring, because with the snow gone I can see all the crap that my fellow citizens have left for the archaeologists to find. I give you the first can of spring:Paddle safe...


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Great Scott

Two of the most gratifying rewards of doing men's work are seeing younger men grow and, at the same time, learning from them. I just love it when they teach us old dogs new tricks. I am even more taken when I see one of them doing what I struggled to do and doing it at a much younger age. As we all know, men mature (socially) slower than do women (Lady Linda does so hope this is the year I grow up...but I digress).

Scott, not yet 30, has finished college and obtained a Master's Degree. He had lined up an excellent job before graduation and now puts in long hours. At this tender young age, Scott is married and, along with his wife, is expecting his first child in May.

They recently purchased a home, and Scott is busy (read: busier) wiring, dry walling, insulating, painting and doing carpentry...and he knows more about them all then I've ever learned. Simply put, he is a very capable man and, I suspect, he is unaware of his gold. More over, and as the past few days revealed, he is an excellent teacher, boss and slave driver.

Scott is a good husband and, I believe, will be a wonderful father. He is intelligent yet able to access his little boy and unabashedly play the clown and laugh at himself. It appears to me that he is developing into a total person and doing so very nicely.

The Wedding Song (author unknown) tells us that, "...A man must leave his mother and woman leave her home. They must travel on to where the two become as one...". Easily sung, not so easy to do in this world. Scott and his wife have become a close and loving couple. My hope for them is that they will be happy in their new house and that it will become their home in the deepest meaning of the world. To me, that means a safe, nurturing place in which the wife is the Queen and the husband the benevolent King who protects and serves her. It's a growth process, and I can't say enough about how much I admire Scott's growth along this path.

Great Scott, well on his way to becoming a man among men. I am so proud that he is my son in law.

Paddle safe...


The Wedding Song (author unknown)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Still in Cincinnati, still cold, and I am aching all over from working as a Carpenter (I'm too tired to even digress). I have some thoughts on what I've been doing and thinking, however this is not the time to share them. I need to sit with them and get a bit more clarity.
In the mean time, I have been awakening with thoughts of paddling in warm water. I think about a touring kayak with a longer water line than my Romany's and how much easier it would be to keep up with a group in such a craft. Then I see Lady Linda's face and a full garage and try to think of something else. So, I think of the grandson waiting to introduce himself, and I am back with thoughts still not clear to me.
So, to day I will "chop wood and carry water" and know I am doing it for the little guy I've yet to meet...and for my soul'
Paddle safe...

Friday, March 16, 2007

On The Road

I am in Cincinnati to paint and help my son in law get the new house ready. I will be otherwise occupied (and Embassy Suites does not provide free internet...but I digress), so excuse me for a few days. If something pops, I shall post.

Paddle safe...
A New Syndrome
The name is a bit misleading as this recently described condition applies to more than its nomenclature would infer. Where Is My Paddle is actually far more complex a condition than its name implies. Yes, it was originally described in 1998 after a group of vandals snuck up on a kayak expedition that was camping on Jones Island in Milwaukee and cut all the participant's paddle leashes. During a storm that occurred on the very next day, every paddler lost his or her paddle. That first epidemic of WIMPS was documented in the next Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol X, p1112-3098). Since then, the name has come to describe a variety of sad conditions in which the paddler exhibits certain symptoms.
To make the diagnosis, the patient-paddler (P-P) needs to exhibit 2 major criteria or one major and two minor criteria. Major criteria include a lost look on the P-P's face, mumbling aloud to one's self and repeatedly checking one's pockets as if looking for something that has been lost. Minor criteria include intermittent weeping, scanning the horizon (this can even occur indoors...but I digress) and suddenly and audibly shouting aloud, "I'm up a creek. Now what will I do?"
Since it's inception, the WIMP syndrome has now been described in paddlers who have lost their charts during circumnavigations of islands (even though all they need to do is keep the damn land on the same side of the boat as they go around). There have also been reports of the syndrome in those tapped out after spending all their disposable income at a trade show and realizing they don't have cab fair to get home. Time appears to be the only therapy available at this time. Anecdotal reports indicate that staying off the water and getting a job only slows the process of healing.
The picture? Oh, that's Bob Bertrand from Milwaukee. He's just tired.
Paddle safe...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Rare Reunion
Don't miss the next miracle
(Today's blog is sponsored, in part, by the Silb's for Sinners ministry)
It happened about 50 years ago when twin boys were born to poor parents in a small Baltic country (one that no longer exists...but I digress). Due to the ravishes of war and the resultant economy, the parents were forced to give the boys up for adoption. Unfortunately, they went to different homes and were soon living in different countries, each unaware of the other.
They both grew into fine young men who went about making their ways in the world. As fate would have it, they both ended up emigrating to the United States and, then, to the Midwest. Here is where it really gets interesting, and this goes to the question of whether or not the desire and skill to paddle is a learned or an inherited trait. You see, both of these brothers, each unaware of the other, became paddlers. Even more, they became paddling instructors. And, amazingly, they ended up working for Rutabaga in Madison, Wisconsin...each still unaware of the other (Jb worked MWF and Ken TThS...but I digress again).
Well, my friends, the inevitable happened this year at Canoecopia when these two, now grown, men saw each other across the vast expanse of the exhibition hall. Locked in each other's gaze, they walked toward each other, meeting in front of the Impex booth where they hugged without either saying a word. Suffice to say that it was such an epic and emotional reunion that Impex is going to name their new tandem kayak to commemorate the event (it will be called the bearded barge).
That's the type of out-of-this-world miracles that take place when paddlers make pilgrimages to holy sites. This is the type of awesome experience you could miss if you don't come to The Door County Sea Kayak Symposium July 13-15. Don't say later that you weren't told.
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Nancy...Da Boss
For those of us part-timers who teach and perform slave activities for Rutabaga, Nancy Saulsbury is Da boss. As head of their outdoor programs (ROP), she has the job of making schedules and finding somewhat willing bodies to plug into the slots. She is a tireless worker and a good soul.
This is a unique picture of her inasmuch as it shows Nancy in a rare but immobile moment. Usually, you will see her zipping to and fro, putting out fires or looking for me, JB or Derrick (because we are hiding out in the candy store. i.e., among the toys for paddlers...but I digress).
It is interesting, to me, that she ( I don't actually know if it was her, but I have a poetic license) chose brown shirts this year (for you youngsters, it will suffice to say that brown shirts had an evil place in history during WWII). They brought to mind how, at the symposium, Nancy likes to take a bull horn and shout out orders to we serfs. And, we love it.
A great gal with a world of talent and a can-do attitude (even if she makes us do it). Next time you see her, stop and say hi, and thank her for her efforts...and suggest she give us a raise.
Paddle safe...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Local Boy Makes Good
By local, I mean Baraboo, Wisconsin, a good 2 hour drive from Milwaukee. The "boy" I refer to is, of course, Derrick of kayak and blog fame. Because of him, Rutabaga's Canoecopia saw Wisconsin become, if only for a short time, the center of the world of expedition sea kayaking. For three days, the creme de la creme of kayaking gathered in little Madison, Wisconsin to talk, teach, play and dance. All that and a world premiere of This Is The Sea. And much of this because of the efforts of Derrick Mayoleth.
I can only imagine the energy and hours he put into this grand effort. Just know that the picture above was taken Friday night, when the main event was just starting. By then he had already made a bizillion e mails, bandaged a hundred egos and taken heavens knows how many pictures. I can tell you that he went day and most of the nights in an effort to get people to where they needed to be and the the things they would need when they got there. Along the way, he has gathered some great stories and lurid gossip which are his to tell.
For us duffers, it meant an opportunity to meet and talk with folks we've read about or seen on various DVDs. There were also (for me, but I digress) a chance to re-meet instructors from QAJAQ training camps and other events.
So, Derrick, as soon as the Advil kicks in and you've had 16 hours sleep, take a bow. And thank you very much.
Paddle safe...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Life after Canoecopia
Okay, it is over and, as usual, it was great. But, I suspect, it was great for different people in different ways. Not being a gadget geek, for me it was mostly about people. I will be posting some pics and thoughts over the next few days. For now, just know that (in spite of lots of bragging by JB....but I digress) it was yours truly who got the first (and possibly best) picture of the talented and lovely Megan. You have to admit that when she is around all others seem to dim and fade into the back round.
Too much else to do today before meeting some of the local paddlers for an afternoon paddle on Lake Michigan. Blogs can wait.
Paddle safe...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Everything in its own...
A time for...
Muddy thinking
Strange, funky feelings going on. The winter has made me stale, but I hope to be out on the lake later today. Started this day with a wellness presentation for a local university. I really got into it with the group as this stuff is one of my big passions. In spite of it all, I feel sluggish and dull.
Things should get a bit hectic (like Derrick's world...but I digress) soon. Tomorrow evening I make the 173 mile round trip to Madison to work at the symposium desk at Canoecopia. I am returning home so that I can go to the pool session here Saturday evening. Then, up early Sunday to go back to Madison for the day and return late that evening.
Somewhere in there, I have to do prep time for my Anatomy and Physiology class and write a quiz for them. Then there is preparations for the photo class I am teaching at a high school mentoring program. I also need to get some info together for the Milwaukee Harbor Safety Commission on which I serve.
My blogs lately have become stale along with me and, as a consequence, I am going to take a few days off to recharge my batteries. I know I need it because Even I am not interested in reading the crap I've been pounding out. I will be my old self soon...I hope.
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Icing on the Cake...and the Deck

During our paddle this Sunday, the 17 F temperatures caused icing on our boats, equipment, paddles and skirts. This pic shows one of my bungees (it is in a clear sleeve...but I digress) and one of my clips coated in ice. When I went to remove the skirt I found it had iced up as well, and all that brought up an old issue for me.

I like to paddle alone, but I rarely do so in conditions such as these. The main reason is safety, and I don't just mean hypothermia. In the unlikely event I tip over and, even more unlikely, have to wet exit, what are the additional risks I would face? This all presumes I haven't hit my head on or gotten trapped under ice.

Being plunged, face first, into frigid waters is unpleasant enough, not to mention the dangerous reflexes that can occur with such a mishap. I can imagine a scenario in which the loop on the skirt is iced do its deck and hard to find with neoprene mittens on. In such an event, it might be impossible to grab enough of the iced-stiff deck to get the skirt off. That's for starters.

Once out of the boat, I might find my paddle float frozen, especially if a valve had been left open. Finally, I would face the challenge of grabbing onto frozen deck lines and getting onto an ice-caked deck. All this presumes, of course, that my layers and dry suit has kept me warm and nimble enough to carry all this off. That's why (I can't believe I am saying this) one needs to practice wet exits and entries in such conditions...and I year. Hey, the guy said it would be in the 50's F next week.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fear, Phobia and Mad Dogs
In a recent post, Derrick told us that his wife, Mary, had over come her fear of water and was rolling on a regular basis. I, in turned, commented about how I honored her and the others I've seen go through this fear. To me, these folks have exhibited remarkable courage and persistence.
I remember a woman who attended a symposium where I was teaching. She was in an introductory class and told me she was terrified of the water. She added that her biggest fear was to be upside down in a kayak and that she was taking the class to over come that fear.
We started out by just talking about what she feared and what a wet exit required. No one in the class denigrated her and, in fact, were very patient and encouraging in spite of the extra time spent with her. After winning her trust, we went through a sequence of exercises in which I tipped her a few degrees and brought her up. This was repeated over and over until I had her cheek at water level (I was standing in shallow water...but I digress). I told her that when she was ready, she should just dip her face into the water and immediately bring it back out.
To make a long story absolutely unbearable, she eventually did do a wet exit. It wasn't pretty, but she did it on her own. Afterward, she wept from the joy and the immense tension release and then insisted on doing it again. What a gal.
Later that day, someone asked me if she had had a phobia, and I said she did not. A phobia, after all, is an irrational fear and, to me, fear of the water is not irrational. In case you haven't noticed, you can't breath the stuff into your lungs and expect to improve your forward stroke afterwards. Someone else thought it was a phobia, and I asked him to name it. He said it would be either aqua phobia or hydrophobia. I told him that I hadn't heard of the former (although, it may exist) and that hydrophobia actually was the name for Rabies (yes, the disease of mad dogs). Because rabies causes spasms of the throat, the victim is afraid to swallow water, and I can't cure that at a kayak symposium.
note: After yesterday's posting, JB supplied the lyrics to On The Road. I want ASCAP to know I did not plagiarize them and do not know how to remove them.
Paddle safe...

Monday, March 05, 2007

On the Road Again

If this was one of Derrick's blogs, I'd have the lyrics to that song under the picture (but I've digressed...before even starting).

It was 17 degrees F. yesterday morning when four of us made the short carry over ice and plunked our boats into Lake Michigan. It was only the second time in the past two months that I had managed to be there. In any event, the sun was in full force, and the gentle wind was out of the shore. We all were comfortable in our dry suits.

Out side of the wall, the lake had a wonderfully gentle undulation that told me I was back on open water. A few times, we half paddled and half pushed our way through slush and small ice flows. No matter, it was good to be on the road again. What a difference a day makes.

Paddle safe...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ever since men have gone down to the sea in ships, ohters have waited for them to return. The old houses near port towns were built with small steeples that sported an open walk way called the widow's walk. From such a high point a wife would look out to sea in hopes of seeing the top of a mast, an indication that her loved one was returning home safely. Sometimes that mast never appeared.
On our local Yahoo site, a paddler asked what we could learn from Andrew McAuley's loss " that it would never happen again." My response, in essence, was that there was nothing we could do to keep it from ever happening again. Going out on the water in any craft is inherently risky. One can, and should, reduce that risk with lessons, attention to weather and equipment and constant upgrading of their skills. One must accept, however, that to go out on the water is to accept certain risks.
Not going out on the water is not an option. People die in bed all the time.
Paddle safe...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Do you believe in miracles?
I do, off and on. Sometimes I do, while other times I think lucky things just happen at the right time. Just now, however, I do believe, and I believe in a way I never have before. I remember my mother telling me that I wouldn't feel totally complete until I had had the experience of holding my own child. She was right, and I still have vivid memories of holding each of my daughters shortly after their appearances in this world.
At this time of year when we are all looking forward to spring, my mind is on another event set to happen in May when my eldest is due to give birth to our first grandchild. I cannot remember ever looking forward to anything with more joyful anticipation. More over, this is has all been heightened by present-day technology which allows a peek into the future (via ultrasound).
I am happy to report that the young man has 10 toes and 10 fingers, our old standard for a healthy baby. So, I sit here in a mixed stand of anticipation and worry (hey, I always worry...but I digress), and the snow (about which I have been bitching) doesn't seem all that big a deal.
And, speaking of miracles, do you believe in heaven? Well, does a house in Cincinnati with a grandson in it and a pool in the back yard for rolling qualify?
Paddle safe...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What Ever Happened To Murray?
I am wondering if Murray is still around. No, that's not him in the picture. I was, actually, thinking about the old Murray Thematic Apperception Test (which was introduced in 1935...but I digress). The TATis an old psychological test in which the patient is shown a picture (drawings, actually) and asked to describe the story behind the image. The idea is that he or she will project their "stuff" into the story, thus revealing the "nasties" going on in their heads.
So, what do you see in the picture? The possibilities are endless. Is the woman wicked and torturing the man by not sharing the cake? Is the man afraid because he thinks he may be tasting arsenic in the frosting? Or maybe they're in it together, putting a file in the cake to get a person or persons unknown out of jail. Then, again, they could be two sugar addicts who have recently been kicked out of their sugar support group. And on and on and on. It is amazing the stories one can create around a single stimulus.
It is amazing how different stories we all might create, and that is a sign of our wonderful uniqueness. It is this very quality that I find so wonderful about people. It is what makes them interesting, and it makes their contributions to the world unique.
At this point, I was going to explain what is actually going on in the photo, but why deny you the pleasure of your unique fantasy?
Paddle safe...