Monday, January 27, 2014

Hi...My name is Silbs
My name is Dick.
I am a paddler.
Specifically, I am a kayaker.
I am writing this because I am addicted to paddling.
I hope that this might help someone with a similar problem.

It wasn't always like this. Long distance running, sailing a 42 foot cutter and Judo filled my physical needs for over 50 years before a fractured disc cut a nerve and I lost a good deal of the quadricep muscle in my left thigh. I was suddenly robbed of all the activities I so loved (and didn't realize to which I was addicted) and began sitting in a chair. That's when depression started creeping into my head. I turned to every exercise machine I could find until/ One day, I found myself on a rowing machine...indoors. As I tried to get into the zone(I couldn't) I realized that I could be outdoors doing this.

How about sculling? There is a club here in Milwaukee and they have a boat house on the river. But that is only part of the year and, well, I don't want to go backwards. To make a long story short, I ended up taking a intro to sea kayaking course (which I now teach) at Rutabaga (that den of evil and tantalizing distractions). They say you can be an alcoholic and not know it until you take that first drink. Turns out, I am genetically a kayakholic (my DNA test show I have 4 of the 5 genes).

Within weeks I had bought a boat and went out with my smattering of skills (typical behavior for someone with this disease) and was treated kindly by my Higher Power and paddlers who gradually took mercy on me and became friends. Soon my garage was filling with paddles, kits to build boats, smelly neoprene and other things that began endangering my marriage. Alas, I ignored all the warning signs. I did not seek help. I did not tell anyone that I was hooked. I just paddled and paddled.

I was able to conceal my problem until recently when unusually cold weather and lots of ice conspired to keep me off the lake.

My name is Silbs and I am a kayaker It has been several weeks since my last paddle. At night, when my wife is asleep, I scan the internet for kayak sites, especially ones with pictures...especially close up pictures. I recently have begun noticing that I like sites with boat kits and pictorial videos. I sit hypnotized as pieces of naked wood take on the sensuous form of a kayak and then...OMG, forgive me...this is the best part...a brush of lacquer is s l o w l y drawn across the deck which responds with a deep luscious tint that causes me to stare with lust. 

I know I would be better if I could just go out on the lake. I cannot. I cannot make the ice go away...only my Higher Power can do that. So I sit at my computer, look at pictures, imagine owning all those slender sea-going vessels and write drivel like this. Please don't hate me.

Paddle safe...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Old v. Elderly
There are too many cliches regarding getting old ("don't complain, it is not a privilege everyone gets..."). It happens to us all every second and we have clocks and calendars to keep track of the unrecoverable moments of our lives as they slip by. Okay, no complaints there. After all, there is nothing to do about it. We all get older and eventually meet some vague criteria that says we are old. Some folks are old at 85 and others at 50, all depending on how they live and how their health holds up.

Recently, I injured a tendon in my left leg and have had a limp and pain ever since (yes, I have seen a real doctor and am going back in a few days for follow up). This malady has kept me in pain and, worst of all, sitting long after day. It even makes sleep difficult as there does not seem to be a position in which the pain does not occur. So what?

Well, to some I have been old for a long time; but not to me. I am out there kicking butt, showing up and being marked present. Now, however, sidelined by this injury, I feel old; and I sure as hell do not like it. I know, I am feeling sorry for myself, sitting around, looking out the window at dreary days and medicating with sugary foods. Terrific.

What to do? Well, firstly, I am doing as the doctor orders, hoping for relief soon and continuing to plan future activities...including kayaking and teaching kayaking. Matter a fact, I will begin teaching 2 lectures at UWM next week, even if I have to be carried into class. Finally, I am writing this piece to hold myself accountable to doing everything to stay in the game so I can help those young and old folks learn. After all, teaching is my passion and pain in 1 of 4 extremities is not an excuse to not show up.

Paddle safe...