Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's Still Winter Here
It's been so cold for so long, and I've had my nose in the books so much, that I don't even know which direction the lake is from here. Even my brief work outs at the gym are lack luster as I become a chair person working on lectures.If not for the gym and short walks with Ansel I would be home bound. Laziness has set in. Well, today it is supposed to break the freezing mark for the first time in weeks. I am gifting myself a few hours to drive down into Illinois for lunch with mother-to-be daughter #2. In between, Lady Linda calls from Florida and gives me her blood pressure readings. Such a life.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Spring will one day come...
...and bring with it a symposium or two that you might want to start looking at now. Just checking out the web sites and planning on some classes and trips can be the elixir that gets you over the winter hump.
Around here, there will be an Inland Sea Kayak Symposium in June. This takes places every other year and is held in Washburn which is at the NW top of Wisconsin and near the Apostle Islands. This year, word is, Nigel Dennis will be there. Think about attending this one and then staying on for a camping-kayak adventure.

The weekend after the fourth of July is the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium sponsored by Rutabaga in Madison. This is held on the tip of Door county which is the thumb your hand if you hold it palm facing away. This one is very well organized with a wonderful array of classes on and off the water. There are brown bag lunch seminars and evening meals under the big top. Even off site classes (e.g., beginning rolling is done in an inland lake rather than on Lake Michigan) are only a short distance from the home site.

A week later is the Grand Marais Symposium up on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Like the Inland Sea gathering, this one uses Lake Superior and has wonderful guided side trips along with the usual variety of skills training.

I don't know much about the Western Michigan one as I've not had the pleasure of attending it. Perhaps someone will drop a comment on it. Mean while, start browsing and start believing that spring will come.

Paddl;e safe...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Here's Looking at You
How you doing? Really. Depending on what lattitude you live, you may be gong to the beach, lauching in the cold or (as we are here) cowarding from the weather. We're a good ways into winter, and we're still here (except for Lady Linda who is in Florida. Poor woman, she's missing some of this great winter). Although it rarely happens, I am sick. By my own estimation, I have lost double my weight in mucous and generated enough energy by coughing to light a city. Prepping for 3 classes (each two times a week) has just been the cherry on top of this wonderful desert of a season.

I am resolving to start looking ahead as a way of avoiding suicidal thoughts. I need to hold on until the vitamin C and all my antigens beat this thing out of me. Then, hopefully, there will be that new day when the temperature goes above freezing. On that day, neighbors, long thought gone, will appear on drive ways, and we all admire the salt damage done to each of our cars.

Further down the road, the ice packs (which, as I speak, protect us from invaders from the Michigan side) will crack and float off. If it works out well, we will have (for the second time in 5 years) a warm day to paddle amongst the floating bergs.

So, that's enough fibbing to myself. The coffee is ready, and I have lesson plans to do.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sunday II
After the gt together it was home to get boats for the 2:30 pool session. I took the skin on frame I had built and was disappointed at its performance. Suddenly, the cockpit was too wide, and I hadn't lost all that much weight. When I rolled, it didn't want to finish, and I found myself using too much paddle instead of just pressure on the masik. Others did fine.

While others practiced rescues, Greg (of strip boat fame) was in one of Sherri's short boatsDoing his thing.Now, I got to go to work.

Paddle safe...


Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday: Part I
(You seeing this, Steve?)
Jennifer and Greg graciously invited the group to their home for a wonderful breakfast (I won't list the menu so you won't have to envy us). Part of the happening was spent sitting around talking about all the other paddlers in our group who weren't there (that's why I never miss a get together). Soon, however, (this is for you, Steve), we were headed down into Santa's (Greg's) workshop where he has crafted several lovely boats. Well, what met our eyes was impressive. Unfortunately, my little optio couldn't do justice to what we saw.
( rt. Jennifer, Doug hiding, Sherri, Leslie)
There was the deck of what will be Jennifer's new strip kayak. It is still dry, so it is difficult to appreciate the mixed woods. But the lines are nothing short of sensational.

The low rear deck is to die for.
We spent quite a bit of time gazing at this work in progress, and I suspect we were all wondering how to get one.
(Vickey and Doug admiring the work)
Paddle safe...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Too Good
Not To Share
While I am still frozen off the lake, I have filled my past few days doing prep for the 3 classes I teach. Yesterday, I stole some time to edit some pics taken during my visit to grandson Joe's house in Ohio.
There is a park right near his house (Sharon Woods) with lots to do in summer. We chose to visit the building for kids where they get to mess around with lots of stuff.
I got exhausted watching him go from one thing to another. To paraphrase an old country song, it's fun just sitting and watching Joseph grow.

Now, off to Greg and Jennifer's place for a kayak breakfast get together.

Paddle safe...


Friday, January 23, 2009

Guys Get Married
The Same Reasons

I mean, just look at her. "What about her?" you might ask. Well, everything. She's perfect. She's what I've always wanted, what I've been looking for all my life.
Man, just look at her curves, especially her bottom. Look how tight it is...and smooth. Don't you just want to reach out and caress that skin? And you do want to run your hand along her realy do. But wait, looks aren't everything. She's also great to be with. During quiet moments she will just be there with you enjoying long walks on the beach or...what ever.
But don't think she's just a pretty thing with no substance to her. She will stick by your side, even when things get rough.
And when she gets all dolled up....oh man. She can look more ways than you can imagine.

Don't you just want her? I DO!

Paddle safe...


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rush, rush, rush
Off to teach. Long day ahead. Never sat down yesterday...and another course at another university starts next week. I am enjoying it. Fortunately...

...I worked in that trip to visit my grandson (and the two adults with whom he lives) last week. I am already looking ahead a few weeks when he and his mom and his aunt and his uncle will be spending a few days with us here in Milwaukee (Glendale).

Paddle safe...


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Over There
That's the title of a song popular during WW II. It mostly referred to England. During my training years I managed a trip to Europe and drove through a good deal of it (smaller than I had thought). In England, the fellow at the pub introduced me to the locals as some lad from "across the pond." Anyway, I just got issue 13 of Ocean Paddler...from over there...and was interested in some of the ads.

Over here, when we thing about over there, we think about NDK and Rockpool and the like. Reading OC has made me aware of other companies such as Tahe Marine ( and the Italian company QAJAQ (, a bit of a pretentious name, if I do say.

Tahe has had some photo play in magazines mostly featuring a synthetic version of an Inuit kayak. It apparently has a skeg and bulkheads with two storage areas. I went to the site and found it a bit frustrating as there were no really good pics of this boat and, like the QAJAQ site, everything was in metric. I know, I know; but after all those years in medicine and a good math background, I still cannot think in metric. The one decent pic on the Tahe site shows a boat with a rudder. Go figure.

With the growing interest in Greenland style rolling and skin on frame boats, I believe there may be a big market out there for a glass version of the real deal. For now, however, my garage is full and my buy-a-kayak-fund is empty, and I shall stick with what I have...and keep reading those ads.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

But Not Renewed
I absolutely loved being with my grandson, daughter and son in law this past weekend. I returned late yesterday and stayed up preparing for the classes I will be teaching in a few short hours. It remains cold (and was cold in Ohio). I am not well rested, yet, and need a physical workout in the gym.

I ate poorly and, oddly enough, lost a pound. All this in spite of the fact we did very little that could be called physical activity.

The back band on my Romany finally gave up the cause and tore at the bolt that holds one end. Doug has offered the warmth of his basement as a repair shop. Now to find a time.

It saddens me that the weather and my schedule have kept me from producing fresh images to share with you. I have been cheating and going back into my files to "decorate" this page. I hope to change that soon. For now, one foot in front of the other.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I am taking a Break,
But I Need a Vacation
For the first time in a very long time I am feeling stressed out. I am about to start teaching at two local schools, one a career college, the other the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

For the past week or two I have been filling out forms, going to meetings that discuss stuff I don't understand (or much care about), gathering piles of texts, DVDs and papers and arranging syllabus material. The UWM gig (I am an alumni) requires I learn a new and somewhat complicated computer system for e mails, grades, postings, etc. The course I am teaching there is Fundamentals of Pathophysiology.

At the career college, there is paper work that I simply would never do. Thank goodness for Kathleen, my guardian angel there. I will be teaching Anatomy and Physiology, which I have taught there before. In addition, I will be teaching clinical lab skills, which I have not done before. Being a new course, I have spent hours in conversations with those who know and teach the course, and I have been trying to get a handle on pacing the material, class presentations, etc..

I love to teach. It is, in fact, my greatest passion; and I hate the crap that goes along with the job. A lot of time is spent with forms, in services, heady discussions, rubrics and a million other things besides time with the students. Tomorrow will be my first two classes at the college. Early Friday morning I fly to visit with my grandson. I do not return until late Monday and will have to be prepared to teach Tuesday morning (2 classes) at the college. A week later, I start at UWM as well. Because of the scheduling of the two schools, I will not be able to get away for a vacation to anyplace warm, unless it is a weekend jaunt (which sounds more stressful than relaxing).

I don't like the way I feel , and the sub zero weather isn't helping. I cannot go for a relaxing paddle and feel trapped in the house (other than when I run over to the gym). I need to take care of myself and will, therefor, be taking a hiatus from posting here. I hope to be back with you early next week. Mean while, be good to yourselves, and always

Paddle safe..


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Face It


The title brings two subjects to mind. One, of course, is face book, a phenomena that amazes and bemuses me. I have a page, all sorts of friends (some of whom I actually know), a family tree with more members than the population of Canada, and I belong to various groups including a kayak group that posts in French. Lots to look at.

The other thing we are facing here is the reality of the cold. It is headed down to single digit temps (F) today and expected to reach chill factors of -40F this week. The shore ice is awful, and I suspect the lake itself may freeze over (it is 85 miles wide). The pool, it seems, will be the only kayaking we will get to do around here for a while.

But, face it, the pool is a poor substitute for sea kayaking. One cannot practice strokes unless they arrange some bungee system for resistance. that leaves rolling, braces, wet exits and rescues which, I can tell you, can get boring after a few hours (and weekends). Besides, the conditions are good for learning but not realistic for practicing. More over, it is starting to take a toll on my shoulder.

(me in my Peter Strand SOF)

I start teaching Thursday then head for a weekend with my grandson and, I suppose, his parents. Perhaps it will be in the 70's when I return. Then, again, maybe, pigs will fly.

Paddle safe...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Laying Around the Pool
That usually conjures up images of being at a resort or, at least, next to the pool on a cruise ship. Around here, however, stacks of shore ice have now kept us off the lake for weeks (going on months), so the only pools we hang out in are indoors. So it was yesterday afternoon.

Doug caught some pics of me, the one above taken at the end of an angel (butterfly) roll. I was in my Peter Strand boat. Doug, Bob and myself were bracing and rolling and (they) re entering so much that we were essentially beat after an hour. Bob has become adept at a rodeo entry and has is the first person to talk me through it successfully ("Keep your feet apart!"). Doug, for his part, spent most of his time on rolls and sculls. I was able to capture this nest informative moment to help explain why one of the sculls was not working as well as it could. No matter, we have a severe weather watch (yes, I am going to bitch about the weather...again), and it looks as if it will be some time until we can get back onto the big lake. Meanwhile, I will settle for the pool, the warm water and the hot showers.
Paddle safe...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Before We Kiss It Good Bye

Last evening, Lady Linda and I had supper with Pat and Fred at their house. Fred had had a hernia repair that morning, and we were there for moral support (and pizza). After the meal, Fred and I slouched in front of his 5000" HD TV and came upon a program that over a period of two hours showed in detail the 7 most likely ways we will all be wiped off the earth. Every thing from comets to Yellow Stone erupting, to nuclear war to global warming and so on. Had I known what we were going to watch I would have loaded up on antidepressants a head of time. So, this morning I just need something to cheer me up. My grandson could do that.

Paddle safe...


Friday, January 09, 2009

The Sun Is Yet To Rise
I'm a morning person. Whether at home, on the road or camping, I am generally up before the sun (which is easy to do this time of the year). It is quiet where ever I happen to be, and it feels as if I own the morning. It is also a time when I am able to be most productive.
One of my favorite times is when a group of us goes camping/paddling. Up early, I am serenaded by the birds and looked at with curiosity by the plethora of small mammals that inhabit the forest as I stroll through their territory. This is the time one of my photography mentors called liquid light. With no directional quality, the light seems to pour over everything and light it evenly (sorry, those pics just now are in the form of 11 x 14 B&W prints mounted on museum board...hard to scan).

More than that, it is a peaceful time for the soul, almost like a hiatus in life during which there are no responsibilities or expectations. A time for the soul just to be.

What a gift.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Hard Stuff Around The Edges
An old adage from my sailing days warned that the water wouldn't hurt you, but watch out for the hard stuff around the edges. I can recall being caught outside in storms (wishing I was ashore) and calculating the risk of trying to enter the harbor. If I did make it into the harbor without a NE wind sending a wave and me crashing into the cement break wall there was still the question of how I was going to get that 42 foot hull into the slip (I usually sailed alone). The simplest solution was to stay outside, offshore, and wait for more favorable conditions (the navy puts out to sea when severe weather is predicted). I wonder if this might be a good idea for kayakers to consider. Making such a decision will depend on several factors. First, what kind of lee shore is there? If it is a dump site for a marshmallow factory or, at least, a nice sandy beach, it may be worth taking a run at it. Will you have to surf? Which, in turn, raises the questions, do you brace well, can you bongo a wave into shore and do you have any surf experience (and, are you wearing a helmet)?
Next, how comfy are you out in the conditions in which you now find yourself? Perhaps staying out there a bit will really improve your skills and confidence. Of course you need to take into account such as the risks of hypothermia and whether or not you are alone. You might also ask yourself how the hell you got into this situation in the first place. What did you know about the weather and when did you know it (before launching).
Then there is the factor of familiarity. Do you know the area. Is there a headland you can get behind and find a more protective landing site? Are there tides where you are, and how will they change your situation in the next hour or two? Are you fatigued and need to get ashore before you lose it? did you leave a float plan with someone, or is the world unaware of where your sorry ass is at the present moment?
Lots to process, but it is something we work through even on the calmer days. It is just less obvious and less threatening when the weather and the seas are cooperating. Still, it isn't so much the water that threatens our well being. It is often the hard stuff around the edges.
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

'Tis Still the Season
At this time of short days and new year's resolutions, emotions often run to sadness, even despair. With all the changes in brain chemistry brought on by the environment and all that time to sit around (not in a kayak), many folks are taking time to look deep within. One such person is Suzette, and she posted a courageous blog recently. (I read her blog because of her interest in photography. She is not a paddler). In it, she takes a hard look at herself, who she has been and whom she wishes to become. I wonder how many paddlers, kept more or less home bound by the winter, go through the same process.

Each year I find it harder and harder to go out on cold days, yet I don't want to join the ranks of those seasonal paddlers who are off the water almost half of the year. Instead, I wait for temps to rise near the freezing mark, attend pool sessions and keep busy with my teaching duties. I also meet frequently with friends just to have coffee and human contact (JB, you've been gone too long). Like most of you, I look forward to things like the symposiums, Canoecopia and other events where there are lots of kayaks and lots of folks with wonderful and positive energy. Not a bad prescription from an old doc, huh?

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sometimes I Sits and Thinks...
Sometimes I just sit. During these "down" months of short daylight, chilling winds and ice-bound shores, I find it hard to entertain myself. I get up early, look at e mail, go to the gym (most days) and then have hours to fill before going back to bed.

I do sit in meditation , but that only fills a short period...although it does have a longer lasting effect. Sometimes I look at DVD's in my kayak collection and take note of something to work on during the next pool session. Now, I have something new to fill the time. I have to do prep for two different college level courses I will be teaching.

In reviewing the material, I was surprised to see how much more there is to cover in the sciences since the days I first studied them (that was about when the famous Og invented fire). And, while I do enjoy teaching, I'd rather be doing it
in or on the water.

Paddle safe...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Every Body
Into The Pool
how we beat the conspiracy
We haven't been on the water in weeks. This recent look at the river near my home now looks like this.
The big lake is similarly effected with dangerous shore ice keeping us ashore these past many days. To the rescue comes the beloved pool sessions. Where
some teach.
Many play around.

And some just fall asleep with boredom. For me, it was the first time on the water in quite a while and the first since surgery. I was happy with how things went. I did many rolls, hit an off (other) side roll, sculled well and did a few angel (butterfly) rolls, all with a Euro paddle (as I'd forgotten my sticks). My right shoulder feels it a bit this morning. Next time, I ought to take the a skin on frame.

Paddle safe...


Saturday, January 03, 2009

Okay, the trigonometry example is a bit simplistic, but it makes a point. To find x, one can use ratios, tangents, cotangents, etc.. But really, it's right there inside the circle. x has been found. Problem solved. Why make it harder?
The same is true of paddling. Lots of us spend lots of time amusing our cerebral cortex as we go through endless catalogues looking for camping gear, deck bags, sails, exotic paddles, GPS units and so on. This syndrome, by the way, is common among sail boaters. They, too, spend lots of time and even more money on preparing for that trans oceanic trip they will never take.
Perhaps it is boredom that sends us looking for something to spiff up our boats or make them more ready for that 30 day arctic paddle (that most of us will never do). Perhaps it supports those day dreams of adventure and the call of the wild that we hear but seldom answer. It's normal, especially among us paddlers who, by the very fact we paddle on big water, share a certain wander lust and willingness to reach and take some risks. Still, when all is said and done, most paddlers do what most paddlers do. They paddle, and they do so locally, from the same launch site time after time.
At the end of the day, all most of us need is a boat, a decent basic paddle, a pfd, a paddle float, proper clothing and water. It goes without saying that the boat needs to have good bulkheads, good hatch covers and deck lines. A compaion and a float plan are also worthy ideas. Everything after that (for the local day paddler) is fluff and pretentious. Keep It Simple Stupid.
Paddle safe...

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year,
New Challenges
I haven't been in a boat for 2 or 3 weeks, and I am getting restless. It's a new year and, although I don't know what they will be, there will surely be new problems and new puzzles to solve. For the moment, however, the frigid chill factors and not-so-safe ice shelves along the shore have kept me home bound. On the plus side, I have been going to the gym regularly and building huge muscles (in my dreams) and a tiny waist (same dream). Still, I have to get back on the water, any water; and it looks like that will be at this Sunday's pool session.
Beyond that, I look forward to scenes like the one above. I look forward to a sandy launch site and no dry suit (that will be some time from now). I look forward to renewing the search for my next perfect boat and, who knows, maybe actually getting one. In addition, I look forward to teaching and helping keep folks from doing this:

If you don't see any thing wrong with the picture, come take a lesson or two.

Paddle safe...