Good Monday on Estill Springs Slough

After a brief rest and stretch, back into the stream of things

I’ve taken some family leave to spend time with my lovely wife and squally infant son this week. It’s also allowing me to make up some time paddling.

Most mornings, I arise about 5:15 – 5:30 a.m. I make a pot of coffee. For the past several weeks, I’ve been eating oatmeal (I ran out of yogurt one morning, and thought, “what the hell? I’ll try oatmeal”), so I put the kettle on to boil. Enter to win a boat at Check email. Look at the Internet news.

Babies grunt in their sleep, make odd, unhealthy sounding noises breathing; they smile in their sleep, open and roll their eyes, fuss and then quiet themselves. This morning, my wife brought the baby out for me to feed so she could sleep another hour. Fed him, then held him until he slept, and put him in his bassinet. I love being a father.

Later, once the little guy was sleeping soundly, I got dressed for paddling then remembered I’ve been wanting to order some flotation bags for the E-68. I telephoned Folbot and ordered the oversized Cooper bags. I apologized to Wanda for associating her name with the bags in this thread. The Swift Canoe bags I bought in 2005 from NRS were never entirely satisfactory, and now lose most of their air, one of them after an hour, and the other after two or three hours. For Christmas I got a bag that also provides dry storage, but still doesn’t fill up all the space in the E-68’s stern section.

Estill Springs City Park - a good place to put-in

Saturday afternoon I tried car-topping the E-68 to make sure it was a workable kayak transport solution. This morning I set out for Estill Springs City Park, or, if the water level was too low for that dirt ramp, the parking lot at Estill Springs Church of the Nazarene.

Volvo Meets Poucher-Boote

I haven’t paddled that part Tims Ford/Elk River since last June, with my wife in the RZ 96. At that time, the water was so low we were able to paddle only as far upstream as the farm houses on your left before you reach the bridge at Spring Creek Road.

All that was left of the house that is gone

Today, the water was up to its customary level for this time of year. I was able to paddle past Spring Creek Road, past the ruined footbridge, around the bend, and almost to within sight of the last bridge before the dam at Woods Reservoir. On my way upstream, I passed by the place where there’d been a tumbledown house inhabited by poor white people the last two or three times I’d been past, but this morning I heard the sound of a bulldozer where the house had stood. All I saw of it was a rusty piece of lawn furniture set upon the high bank.

The river’s current became discernible above Spring Creek Road Bridge, and was certainly in evidence at the footbridge piers. Before I got to within sight of the final bridge, however, I found the current too swift, and the rocky bottom too near the kayak’s keel. Turning the rockerless 16.5′ Campsis Radicans in midstream felt like one of those flying loops performed by an antique biplane looks.

A place to stretch where stream once flowed

I paddled back to where a very small creek flows in to the Elk, got out, stretched. To my right a spring gushed forth a small waterfall, and to my left the place where a small stream no longer flows.

On my way back downstream, I explored the sloughs now flooded, which were completely dry last June. I’d paddled them before, but now they are full of the weeds that grew up when the waters receded. I ate my lunch at the “steps” across from Estill Springs City Park. Dunno, but I think the structure is part of the foundation of a former railroad bridge. The Union army probably blew it up during the War Between the States. I can’t find it on any maps. Rain fell, and of course the wind blew against me, as I paddled across the bowl-like portion of river/lake toward the rail and auto bridges that cross the water at the Nazarene church.

The Best Farmhouse

Then I paddled into Tims Ford Lake proper, past the Nazarene church, Taylor Creek branch, and Rock Creek Branch. Found a shiny “Happy Birthday” balloon, popped it, and stashed it with my lunch trash to take home and throw out. On my way back passed the best farmhouse I’ve ever seen – just a plain 1950s brick house beautifully situated. Passed a shack that’s only a year or two old that’s probably worth more than the house I live in.

I’ve uploaded a gallery of photos from today’s paddle. They are in chronological order, and can be found here.  Contrast Good Monday with Rotten Friday

Calling for Thunderstorms

The National Weather Service was calling for thunderstorms in the vicinity of Stepford today, so my wife suggested I stay home with her and Squally-Boy. Drove to the hardware store this morning to buy four metric bolts and some washers to use when installing back-bands in the RZ9-96, bought a small bottle of Gorilla Glue for one of the small antique Klepper paddles that came with the antique Klepper sail-rig I’ve got, and some cheap garden gloves.

On the way home I remembered Jack-And-The-Beanstalk, so I stopped at a used car lot and inspected the 1989 Ford Econoline Falcon van conversion with matching trailer I’ve admired for two or three months. The lot’s trying to sell it for a retired Marine Corps pilot. The ultimate car-camping machine – stove, refrigerator, sink, toilet, standing room, loft bed above the front seats, and a bed in back, awning, generator, big air conditioner on the roof so you can sleep cool. With today’s gas prices, the old gentleman will be lucky to sell it, although it looks in good condition. I didn’t buy it.

Back home and moved a pile of bricks left behind after the decrepit red shed was torn down and removed.

Mowed for the third time this season, then ran the line-trimmer. Although the buttercups are no longer in bloom, a number of other things are. With the exception of small violets, equally small yellow somethings, dandelions, and the buttercups, nearly everything in the yard blooms white.

Something pink was blooming in the front yard. I snapped a picture of it, however it didn’t turn out well. I’m disappointed I got the focus wrong on the rightmost picture above. My wife said she saw rabbits in the yard during February and early March, so this year I will refrain from spreading pesticide to kill the grubs that feed the moles that tunnel the earth beneath the yard that I must mow. I was surprised when she said she’d seen the rabbits, because on walks I have seen red foxes, and I’m not sure what, but some predator has been keeping the squirrel population down – hardly see them hereabouts.

After the yard work, I assembled the Einer-68 preparatory to mounting atop my car for the first time. Its frame is beautifully symmetric, and it seems a shame to cover it with the worn and faded skin that makes a kayak of it. The PVC hull is supple in the warmer weather, therefore easier to handle. I’m planning to keep the boat assembled in order to facilitate impromptu paddles, because I’m more likely to use the boat of an afternoon or early morning if I don’t have to spend full 50 minutes assembling and rigging it.

Ralph Hoehn suggested this boat doesn’t require a cradle or foam blocks arrangement for cartopping, so I cinched it down with straps that came with the Folbot cart I bought for the Square-Stern I mentioned in my previous post (it didn’t work with that boat, but we sometimes use it with the RZ-96). Also tried out the Yakima bow and stern tie-downs I purchased week before last. Everything seemed to work, and I drove out to Woods Reservoir to see how the silver car handled with a boat on the roof as opposed to in the trunk. Noticed slight difference in handling and pickup, but nothing much. On a windy day, handling may be more severely affected.

Maybe I’ll paddle tomorrow afternoon; the National Weather Service is calling for thunderstorms again. It never did storm today, only a light rain fell around 7:00 am.

Another Sail Rig…

Instruction-sheet for Folbot\'s famous lateen sail rig.

A gentleman from Louisiana has offered to give me one of these sail-rigs. Hoping to pick it up in May or June. I believe it will work with the RZ-96.

My first boat, a 1967 Folbot Square-Stern that consistently bloodied my hands and took time I didn’t have much of in my attempts to render the craft useful, came with one of these sailing rigs. I pretty much gave the boat away to a fellow who wished to use it at his friends’ North Carolina beach house. He said he had experience with these boats, and wanted it for sailing. A couple of months after taking charge of the ancient behemoth, he sent the following pictures:

I wish I’d kept the boat, if only for the red sail.

Here’s a very interesting page with photos of 17′ Folbot Super (no longer manufactured – Folbot now makes and sells the Greenland II).


So I had a job interview today for a position as an instructor for one of the state’s departments. Got home early, ate a 12 point lunch, changed into slacks, white shirt, tie, steel-toe bomber boots, and drove to the interview site about four minutes from my house. The interview went really well, however, since 22 people signed up to interview, the interviewers can only choose from among the top three in terms of overall central-office scored apps, I probably won’t make the cut. Maybe next time.

Back home again the phone rang, and I had to run a related errand. When I finally changed out of dress clothes I can wear again thanks to a net loss of about 16.5# (I gained a pound to get back up to 170), Caution-Lady wanted me to look after the baby while she went to the store.

Coming late in life to fatherhood, I had a goal, and it was never to change a diaper.

Shortly after she left I heard El Ninito sqaulling. He stank. I couldn’t leave him in that. No diaper-roulette this time. I knew what it contained. Without vomiting I got through the ordeal, and so did my son, all clean and still screaming. My younger brother and family bought me two harmonicas and one shaker-egg for Christmas. I’ve found the shaker-egg amuses and interests the baby when he’s protesting a change of diapers. Holding the egg in his hands and shaking it, or against the bottoms of his feet while shaking it seems to produce a sensation he finds distracting and interesting. But not today.

Then, I put him in his cradle and rocked it while reading to him from a children’s book entitled Just in Case You Ever Wonder, getting choked up a bit at the last couple of pages. May have shed a manly tear, but the baby wouldn’t have noticed, as much as he cries.

Getting choked up is the damnedest thing. Emotions have no real value, their expression fails to verify depth or sincerity. Although mine are subject to the observation and analysis of my intellect, they continue to coexist with the great and arrogant brain.

Be grateful there’s no picture today.


Traffic’s way down since I moved over here. One of the better features WordPress offers real public commenting – anyone who wishes to comment on this blog may do so without signing up for a WordPress account. Odd thing is, I keep getting hits over on the Yahoo site even though I’ve posted notice that it’s abandoned. Well, I like abandoned buildings and waste places, so maybe it’s not that strange that others continue to find their way to that place now inhabited only by the screech-owl and the ghost of my online self.

I added a link over there (at right) under Folding Kayaks & Camping that you should look at. It’s the website of a guy over at whose moniker is Flatwater. He’s taken the time to post trip reports, some photos, information about Folbots from the 1970s.

I once had a Folbot Square-Stern I bought from someone at the Folbot Forum for $100.00 plus shipping. My wife hated the boat, and I basically gave it away. The things we do for our wives. Well, I’ll be honest, I’d reached a point where I needed a boat to use, not one to wrack my brains and slash my hands trying to “restore” or at least make useable.

Finally, I just rechecked a web address (but I don’t know if you’ll want to look at it) given me by a guy I met at Gath Baptist Church in McMinnville, Tennessee, on your left as you go from McMinnville to Smithville. He performed a solo at a service my wife and I attended. We’d been invited by my old friend Jeff, who was serving as interim pastor/pulpit-guy. Jeff and I served the people of the State of Tennessee as probation officers for juvenile offenders in Warren, Van Buren, and whatever the hell the name of that county is in which Woodbury is situated.

As I was saying, that web address, which had been inactive for over a year, is now populated with a website. And the guy’s got some of his music available as mp3 downloads. Reminds of 1970s folksy-hippie Christian music. It’s funky, homegrown, and at least one of the songs is horrible, but horrible in a horribly fascinating way. My friend, Jeff, and this guy served together in the United States Marine Corps years ago.

Speaking of hippie Christian music reminds to point to the website of Radio Roswell, who claims that genre as his own.

The baby’s been fussy today, and my wife has a “motherhood can be trying” look on her face. I better get busy with stuff around the house.

No pictures today.

Harry Houdini Silent Films

Kino\'s Houdini Silent Films boxed set

This is a must-have boxed set. Probably won’t get it until Christmas. Houdini was apparently an extreme white-water canoeist, as well as an aerial stuntman.

I read an article the guy wrote in an old Vanity Fair, and thought he was pretty bright. I’m not that old – the article was reproduced in a large-format coffeetable book my friend Valyrie brought home from the Long Beach Public Library discards bin at the branch where she worked. That was 1986 or 87. I’ve still got the volume on a shelf on an endtable in the livingroom.


Here’s something I read this afternoon on a short break. It’s from the magazine Modern Reformation, the New Atheism issue. The author’s Michael Horton, and the article’s entitled Are Churches Secularizing America? The entire article can be found linked here.  Stylistically, it’s not the guy’s best writing (In one short paragraph, I counted three uses of “nevertheless“). And normally, I think the guys at Modern Reformation and The Whitehorse Inn have too high a view of clergy and far too low a view of laity. Sometimes they’re spot-on, for instance in regard to tithing – they take the sound biblical approach to the matter by opining that it’s not anywhere mandated as normative for the Christian. On the other hand, they believe and teach what I think is heresy saying that God performs a creative work in the heart of the believer (literally creating faith) through the speech of the ordained minister who preaches the Gospel according to the canon of New Testament scripture. Nevertheless, Horton hit the ball outta the park with this:

People remain hopelessly trapped within their own inner psyche and resources, suppressing the truth about themselves that might drive them to Christ. No longer objectively guilty before a holy God, they feel only a sense of guilt or shame that they should deny by changing the subject to something lighter and more upbeat. No longer saved from damnation – which is the source of their deepest sense of anxiety – they are now saved from unpleasantness. We are the walking dead, forgetful that our designer-label fashions of religion and morality are really a death shroud. To paraphrase Jesus, we go through life like corpses with lipstick, not even aware that all of our makeovers and self-improvement are just cosmetic [Matt. 23:25-28]

Michael Horton, Are Churches Secularizing America? , Modern Reformation, Vol.17, No.2, P.46

I’m sure the form of my citation above is incorrect. Apologies. Sometimes I feel such a deep sense of shame and humiliation that I can only turn Godward with it. A brokenness runs through me that only God can make right, but he is apparently uninterested just now in doing so.

Horton goes on in the same article on the same page:

“It is the false prophets who ‘dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace’ (Jer. 8:11). ‘They fill you with false hopes,’ he adds. ‘They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace” (Jer. 23:16-17). It is not compassion for the people or zeal for God’s house, but their own thirst for popularity that renders the false prophets constitutionally incapable of telling the truth about the crisis.”

That phrase, “constitutionally incapable of the telling the truth” probably finds its provenance in the therapeutically deistic Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous which describes some alcoholics, those who cannot or do not recover as “constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” Nevertheless, truth matters. Speaking the truth matters. Knowing the truth about ourselves matters. Shame, guilt, and pain are, for me much of the time, the truth about me, sharing what passes for my core with loss, grief, and a free-fall sensation that may be worse than the impact at bottom. That’s the stuff that drives me Godward most often.

Sometimes there are moments of joy through which I glimpse eternity, but they have so far been fleeting compared with that other stuff.

Sing-Along Saturday Morning

The error that so irked my ass I had to quit blogging there was the loss of the post I composed Saturday, April 12, after listening to the previous day’s Steve Brown Etc. interview podcast. I’d included links to the guest’s , A. J. Jacobs, page, the Amazon.Com page describing his book, The Year Of Living Biblically. I made witty comments about Brown’s use of the term winsome – a word that bothers me possibly because not even my beloved and generally sweet-natured wife thinks it applies to me, and if it did apply, I would probably be disappointed in myself. Or not, I guess if I were winsome, I’d like being winsome – just wouldn’t know any better. It’s like the only things that can happen are the things that actually do happen. A present imperfect.

Anyway, this Jacobs guy is an agnostic, Jewish by birth, who made up his mind to spend one year living according to biblical laws governing personal conduct.  He spent most of the year adhering to those found in the Old Testament, then a few months concentrating on those found in the New.  Apparently before starting (makes it sound like a race, or an expedition, eh?) he found a variety of Jewish and Christian religious professionals and “experts” to advise him.  His wife, at least from what he said of her in the interview, sounds funny.  Jacobs, himself, is pretty funny, too.  And his voice reminds me of someone.  I think it’s that actor, Matthew Broderick.

The little guy was having some “quiet alert time” while I drank coffee, checked email, and generally tried to keep him balanced. He has a container, called a bassinet, that I’d situated next to my chair, but he fussed when confined to it. He fusses pretty often, and I think he should be conserving his energy for learning the alphabet, vowel sounds, numbers through ten, how to read. And growth spurts. He’s going to have to get taller if he’s ever going to reach the clutch, brake, and accelerator in the 850. Or, for that matter, the car’s steering wheel, and blinker, wiper, gear-shift levers.

I’m going to have to get Jacobs’ book (already on my Amazon wish-list), and read it aloud to El Ninito as a father-son bonding activity. Then we’ll sing cowboy songs and sea-chanteys.

1 6 9 #

Today at Weight Watchers I weighed-in, beating my goal of 170 pounds, fully clothed. I started at about 187 pounds in early-mid-December, 2007, so I’ve made good progress. In the best shape of my life, during my middle-thirties, I weighed about 165 – 167 pounds, walking about seven miles, five times a week, and weight training. Alas, slaving for the State, marriage, and now El Ninito make a return to that obsessively disciplined lifestyle unlikely.

At 44, I’m feeling a little weak and pencil-necked at this weight, and have made up my mind this is enough. I plan to eat about 31 or 32 WW points per day to maintain or gain a little. My friends Fat Tony and Math Doc are probably laughing themselves sick, and preparing some form of clever mockery, or, more likely, torture, as you read this.

This morning I pretty much finished up the grad school application process. I experimented with driving the posted speed limit on the freeway – 70 mph or, if I recall this correctly, about 114 kph. Like driving in a whole other universe – a thoroughly relaxing, enjoyable drive, pretending to be just another anonymous motorist. got lost in Murfreesboro, but eventually found the Fed-Ex store. On the way in to the office, later, I also kept the vehicle’s speed pretty close to the legal limit. Andreas, aka Kapitan von Klepper would probably commend my, probably temporary, relinquishment behind the wheel of soulish narcissism. Actually, I’m surprised I was able to do it. Probably stems from tiredness and the desire to avoid a crash.

Turns out I had to also provide transcripts from the Baptist seminary. Three of the five or seven colleagues I’ve asked to send recommendations have done so, and three’s all I need. Maybe another couple recs will get in tomorrow. Very frankly, I think it’ll be a miracle if I’m accepted since I haven’t got any management or administration support in this matter.

Also, although I wrote an autobiographical “goals and mission” statement as directed in the application instructions, I probably included enough truth to incense divisional management and others of their sort. On the other hand, miracles sometimes happen. Depending on whether I get into the master’s prog, I may publish my heroic-sounding self-disclosure here.

During tooth-cleaning this afternoon, I overheard my dentist tell his assistant, “Look what good teeth he has.” Good’s gotta mean something other than straight, even, and pearly white. We also discussed theology, specifically holiness, society, Dispensationalism. My dentist opined, “Dispensationalists are antinomian.” But are they?

Heck, I’m probably antinomian, and I don’t even adhere slavishly to every tenet of a particular theology. Makes me uncategorized fauna of sorts in the theological garden.

Tired Now

Mugging for the Camera

Finished the autobiographical puff-piece required for inclusion in the graduate program application, updated a resume, also for inclusion. I completed the online application yesterday. Still, it was a good exercise, taking stock of what I’ve done vocationally for the last 20 or so years – an inconsistent admixture of journalism and social work. At least God may not someday in judgment accuse me of burying what he’d given me to trade with. At least not those two talents.

Before printing, I’m going to get some sleep, then reread what I’ve written. I don’t think I’ve ever had the benefit of an editor who is my equal in the domain of written fluency. That’s not true, the wizened Larry Nee, although I strongly disagreed with him politically, was a good editor and taught me plenty. He was also capable of arguing and disagreeing amicably. Probably because he’s an old guy who paid attention to life while living it.

Will probably have to drive to the geographical center of Tennessee tomorrow to overnight express the material to Wisconsin. Already I’ve scheduled some time out of the office for a dental appointment. Cleaning, just cleaning.