Tough Week

This is Caution-Lady’s first full week back at school. She’s got 20 kids in her class this year. Leaving Seventy-Six with sitters has been difficult for both of us.

Day before yesterday, I took him to his sitter’s house out in the country on my way to work. For the rest of the day, I thought about the way he looked at me as I left. Yesterday, the sitter came to our house, and the little guy reportedly screamed from the time my wife left the house until about 9:45, when she telephoned to my wife at school. Gas-drops solved his discomfort, as evidenced by two massive burps and a three-hour nap. Now my wife believes the sitter will no longer wish to keep our baby, and we’ll have to figure out some other arrangement. She was distraught last night, and said that while I was at a congregational business meeting, she phoned her sister-in-law, sobbing. By the time I returned home, the little guy was screaming again, but gas-drops then bottle seemed to relieve his distress.

Today, on my way to a rural county to the south, I’ll drop Seventy-Six off at my mom’s house.

It’s too late this school year to do anything about having Caution-Lady stay home with our son, but I’m thinking there may be some way to work it out for next year. Maybe pay off the house, save like mad people for the next year, and try to make it on my income. Dunno.

Little Nebuchadnezzar practices eating crinkly grass on his play-gym mat during some semi-fussy tummy time.  TZ quoted to me a source I don't recall who referred to infants as "Tyrants in Diapers."

Little Nebuchadnezzar practices eating crinkly grass on his baby gym mat during semi-fussy tummy time. My friend Doros refers to infants as "Tyrants in Diapers," quoting a source I cannot now recall.

Our new Sony digital video camera’s got a 60 gigabyte harddrive, but only snaps 1 mpx digital stills. Kind of lame, but Caution-Lady balked at the purchase of the $1200.00 model…

Expedition Called on Account of Reunion…

On the phone today – I was checking up on our little seamonkey, and my wife was having lunch with my mom at Mom’s house – my wife asked whether I remembered a family reunion scheduled for tomorrow, around lunchtime. Nope. Didn’t recall, but we have to attend. I had the happy thought (actually have mixed feelings about skipping worship service with Cafe Church) that I’d just skip church, Sunday, and paddle then. But Caution-Lady reminded me we have a friend coming over to the house to have lunch with us. Maybe the Elk River will still be there next weekend.

I plan to cope by getting under the Soloflex, mowing, applying another coat of 303 to Campsis Radicans’ deck. I found that tube of Aquaseal I used when I replaced an ankle gasket on my drysuit. There’s a place where that gasket doesn’t seem to be adhering as it ought to, so I’m going to try to stick it down again. The guy at Amigo’s Drysuit Repair said he thought Aquaseal, applied liberally enough, will stick anything down. Once that’s cured, I’ll send the suit in for that knee patch repair.

I'll have to reinstall the software - the adapter lamp's not working when called upon
I’ll have to reinstall the software – the adapter lamp’s not working when called upon

Caution-Lady’s mom and dad brought an HP scanjet with slide and film scanning capability the last time they visited, week after Easter. I’ve finally hooked it up and will try scanning some slides from the 1950s and 60s shot by my mom’s second husband. Trips to Yosemite, California coast, boat-building, camping, etc. The HP software’s balking just now, and I’ve got to fool with it.

Have made some progress in getting the scanner to operate
Have made some progress in getting the scanner to operate

A number of these slides are posted on this page

Burp or Barf

Babies sometimes burp and barf, although burping’s supposed to prevent that second B-word.

Later in the day, usually around 7:00 pm another series of B-words comes into play – Bath, Book, Bottle, and Bed.

Although Daddy’s gorge rises during sticky, stinky diaper changing, the baby’s barf has mercifully so far failed to result in paternal regurgitation.

Morris Ferry Dock to Elk River’s Bluebell Island, and Back Again

And back again…

At one point, I found myself paddling almost due south on the Elk River

At one point, I found myself paddling almost due south on the Elk River

Conservative estimate 22 mile round trip. Probably only about 20 miles…Tiring, but not difficult. Because I missed my turn to Prairie Plains Road and realized my mistake at a point where Winchester Highway (upon which I was driving) wasn’t far from the causeway across Woods reservoir near the VFW hall, I figured I’d just drive on and put in at Morris Ferry Dock. Heck, I found my way through those islands at the Elk River end of Woods last year. No problem. Of course I’d remember the way through this time. Sure.

I shot a lot of pictures, and those worth keeping, for reasons documentary, are here. I have a little more to write, and will get it done in due time. The more I think about it, the more I think I didn’t make it quite as far as Bluebell Island. I know I passed the crescent-shaped creek branch that enters the river, seen about middle of the map, below. Probably the dock and ladder I reached and paddled about a hundred feet beyond is located due south of that last “L” in Sherrill Cemetery. The road that crosses the river near the map’s bottom right corner is Highway 64.

The woman in the golf-cart at Morris Ferry let me launch my kayak from the ramp without paying the $3.00 fee. I was on the water by about 10 ’till eight, and set off down the middle of the lake toward the islands. No interest in exploring the shoreline I’ve already poked around in several times. I had a long way to go.

Paddled from about one edge of the map to the other, and back again

Paddled from about one edge of the map to the other, and back again

My impression of the new hullskin on the frame of Campsis Radicans is that sponson placement and the fact that they’re tabbed into position with sewn and glued PVC semi-circles results in a slightly more steeply pitched deck. Also, when fully inflated, the sponsons make a wavy line of the hull’s sides. Dunno whether that latter glitch or feature affects performance or not. Because the water’s surface was mirror flat, the air windless, and I was fresh, I paddled as hard as I could for a little while. Bow waves rippled their note as I sped roughly northeast. Then I slowed, but kept a steady pace until I found myself at the first of many islands.

Foliage is greener this time of year, and the water seems higher than it appears in this picture.

Foliage is greener this time of year, and the water seems higher than it appears in this picture.

I spent about an hour completely turned around in those shallow water islands. Probably two of the miles paddled were spent looking for the main channel of the Elk. Deck compass was helpful, as I knew I’d need find an easterly course to find the the Elk. One of the things that confused me was the varying water temperature. Whenever I detected rippling, or felt the water radiating a coolness up through the hullskin, I imagined I’d come to the river. Actually, I think there are several springs in those now-flooded low hills, and the cold water I intermittently noticed was evidence of their presence below my keel.

My first mistake was in paddling along the left side of the first island. I should paddled to its right, and may have better recognized the pathway between the low islands, shallow, shallow water, and fallen trees.

Maybe an hour, but I’m not sure how much time I wasted (because I lost my 1992 Eddie Bauer waterproof watch at a put-in, somewhere in Tennessee) searching for the Elk. Must’ve seen the same styrofoam bait cup pushed up under leafy branches a couple of times. Thought, “I’ve seen that before. Just like some fool lost, in a movie.” Saw a dome tent hidden in the trees on one of the islands.

I saw a white bird wading. I saw dead wood covered in spiders’ webs. I saw a man smoking a cigarette while fishing from a bank, and asked directions. “It’s that way, I think,” he said, pointing the way I was already heading. I saw square metal box – a piece of junk that had been in the same place last year, and I remembered it marked the Elk River’s entry to Woods Reservoir. This time, the metal box looked shut, and had a piece of duct-tape on it. Last year, its door hung ajar.

At that point, looking up and sort of to my right, I saw the AEDC police boat further upstream. I paddled toward them, trying to point my bow out of their way, but the boat’s occupants evidently wished to exchange speech, motoring slowly toward me. They veered off a little and idled. I’d spoken to Troy Jernigan and another officer in the colder weather after umbrella sailing near Little Elder Island. I didn’t recognize either of the men in the boat this time. We greeted each other and went our different ways.

Upon reaching the bridge at Prairie Plains Road, my originally intended destination, I saw a family of plus sized people apparently breaking camp. Three women stood around the trunk of a green Camry or Avalon using cusswords. An older female child, possibly a teenager, sat sullen-looking in a lawn chair near the bank. A man removed the rain-fly from a blue and white dome-tent. I think the police in the boat had just told them to pack up their camp and move along.

In need of a stretch and a snack, I got out at the other side of the rudimentary boatramp. A shiny yellow small motorboat on a trailer was parked near where I stood and stretched. My way-past-expiration-date Power Bar had become melty in its colorful mint-green and purple foil wrapper. I rinsed it and my hands in the river water after I’d eaten the mint chocolate and crunchy stuff, then neatly folded the foil and put it back in my lunch bag. I stowed it near the bow hatch. The sullen-looking girl and the tent-man watched me like I was doing something extraordinary.

Last year, somewhat later in the season, when I paddled this part of the Elk, the river’s water was a sort of milky green in color, and felt cooler than it did last weekend. A large number of fallen trees and miscellaneous deadwood has stayed where it’s drifted, and looks like it would make passage difficult for most boats larger than human powered craft. In places the water’s too shallow, I’d guess, for even those 12 – 14 foot aluminum boats budget fishermen sometimes use.

Throughout the day, I observed at many points along the lake’s shore, among the trees on the islands, and along the riverbanks purplish-pink as well as orange plastic streamers tied to tree-limbs. I’m not sure if those were put in place by fishermen marking the many places where static lines were hung in hopes of catching fish in absentia. More likely, by Wildlife Resource Management Agency personnel to mark boundaries meaningful to people who rely, as I should have relied, upon maps.

A couple of places, I got out to stretch. I felt hungry, but ate nothing. I drank water only after I felt dryness in my mouth. Always trying to conserve something for the trip back.

My right elbow began to hurt. Tendonitis I haven’t felt on the water in over a year, since switching to the Eric Renshaw Greenland paddle I bought from his Ebay store for under a hundred bucks. Feeling pain, I concentrated on better form making exaggerated use of torso/abdominal crunch technique, and pushing off more with my feet. Found some relief. Found that if I moved my hands closer to my knees than to my waist, while paddling, and maintaining blade cant, torso-rotation, and low-angle blade-entry, I felt none of the tendonitis. So, that was the problem. I’ve developed a habit of holding the paddle too close to my waist, putting the blades in the water aft of my knees.

I paddled to a strange looking creek branch, on my right, that had a high, curling bank on the right curving around left and out of sight. The left bank lay like a gently sloping, low mound of mud, dirt, trees, fallen leaves. I paddled past it, then backed up and paddled into it looking for a place to get out and stretch. It was blocked further back by a couple of small, fallen trees. The sound of insects buzzing furiously informed me this was not the place to get out of the boat. Paddled backwards out, zig-zagging around other trees and branches in the water.

Farther upstream, I saw on the high bank to my left what appeared to be a lofted pole-barn without sides. Maybe a church’s picnic structure, then to a sturdy-looking dock and ladder with a flimsier-looking floating platform attached. I debated getting out there, but don’t much like to trespass. Across from the dock to my right someone had tied a long, thick, and at-the-bottom-frayed yellow rope to an overhanging limb. I paddled upstream a little more, and the water got pretty shallow among a greater number of fallen trees than seemed usual for the river. Beyond the trees, I turned around and headed back after getting out in a shallow place for a final stretch before reaching the bridge at Prairie Plains Road.

I paddled faster on the way back, taking fewer pictures. When I reached Mud Creek, I stopped and paddled closer to its mouth. It’s one of those oddities – a straight line in nature, and I could see a long way up, but could also see it was more or less impassable due to overhanging and fallen limbs. Near the mouth I saw a deciduous tree that produced what I thought at first were berries like raspberries, but seen closer appeared to be tiny pine-cones. Another oddity. I snapped a picture and moved on.

I stopped for lunch at the Prairie Plains Road bridge (I don’t recall the bridge’s real name, although I’ve seen it on a map). I “Hellooooed” the fishermen on the bank, asking whether they’d mind if I pulled in long enough to eat a sandwich. They welcomed me, and I paddled in, apologizing for interfering with their fishing. About halfway through my meal eaten standing up, I asked the older of the two men, a guy about my own age, “You guys catching anything?”

“No, not really,” the man replied, “Just playing with the bluegill, it seems.” He told me it was two o’clock. The campers I’d seen earlier were gone. I told the fishermen good luck, and got in my kayak, paddled on.

Finding my way out into the lake was pretty easy. I made the mistake of paddling to the outside of that one big island. I would have been out of the wind if I’d paddled with the island to my right. NOAA had predicted five mile per hour winds from the south, southwest. My experience is that winds are stronger on lakes than NOAA’s vicinity prediction. Fetch.

The shorter ramp at Morris Ferry Landing before setting out Saturday morning

The shorter ramp at Morris Ferry Landing before setting out Saturday morning

The last couple of miles were the worst. I was pretty tired, my elbow hurt again by the time I got to the short asphalt ramp at Morris Ferry Dock. A couple of women with little red-headed boys were fishing. The boys came up and wanted to look at the kayak. Their mother tried to tell them to leave me and the boat alone. The kids just wanted to look, I talked to them about their fishing.

Better than a sports drink

Better than a sports drink

My elbow hurt in the car all the way home. But when I got there, and disposed of the kayak and gear, I found that my wife had supper ready, and had made a pie with apples from my cousin Maxine’s tree. Glucosamine and Ibuprofin, an early bed, helped my recovery.

Another Dream

Last Sunday, I think, I looked at photos from this place, The Graveyard of Ships, that were linked to an East Coast kayaker’s personal webpage describing a paddling trip through the area. I guess paddling around those derelict hulks sounds appealing to me, as I enjoy industrial ruin and waste places, and my enjoyment of them would increase exponentially if I got to explore them kayak. Last night, I dreamed I was in a place completely snowed-in and found two very old, intact steamships, one of which was named Kodiak, but the name of the other I did not learn. Nice thing about dreamworld is it’s never too cold.

34″ Waist

Ironman over at the Rogues’ site will question my masculinity, but I’m pretty durn happy to have got my waistline down to 34″. First time in eight or so years I’ve been able to confidently buy and wear trousers that size. At my fittest and thinnest, age of maybe 31 or 32, I had a 32″ waist. Probably won’t happen again until I’m also readier for somewhat narrower digs. Nevertheless I feel pretty good about this.

Weight Watchers has been effective. I’m allotted 31 points to maintain my weight, but some days I don’t eat that many, some days one or two points more.

Junk Reading Genre Crit

I’ll get the names and authors later. Yeah, I’ve already forgotten the author’s names (LATER: I checked – authors are Harlan Coben and John Sandford, respectively), if I can be said to have ever remembered them in the first instance. The novels’ titles I recall: Dealbreaker, and The Hanged Man’s Song. Real meaningful fare, but I had a slow week at the office and needed to read something after having misplaced a months old issue of Modern Reformation, and a March issue of World Magazine. Those are both semi-Christian magazines, MR – unfortunate or comedically predestined initials 😉 – striving to be big “C,” and WM trying hard to be relevant, balanced, and current. Neither are devotionally sappy, although they both wax a little fruity on occasion.

But the point of this post is not to critically dissect avowedly “C”hristian periodicals. Instead I want to go on about the the crime, suspense, action, thriller subgenre of the fat published-straight-to-paperback protagonistically driven series genre. (LATER: I checked, the sub-genres for DB and THMS are, respectively, mystery suspense, and techno-thriller. Ooooh.)

Using the two listed above as my primary sources, I make the following observations. Apparently makes no difference whether the story is told first or third person. Each protagonist, hero, must have more than one interesting gimmick.

For instance the guy in Dealbreaker is a sports agent who’d been a college basketball star, but was horribly injured in some big trophy game, had a long recovery, no hope of pro sports career. He and his super-wealthy vigilante side-kick are Tai Kwon Do dojo-buddies, and are in near perfect fighting and physical condition. But, the goofily named protag, Myron Bolitar (clearly intended to sound like Simon Bolivar), lives at home with his parents in a basement apartment. He hates his name, and blames his parents. He drives a Ford Taurus. Blah, blah, blah. For all that, the book’s author is capable writing occasionally well and seems to have an amusing mind.

The guy in The Hanged Man’s Song has even more gimmicky quirks. He’s a celebrated professional painter, but he’s secretly an elite hacker capable of changing identities, manufacturing lines of electronic credit, and reading files in FBI computers more or less at will. He sometimes kills people, but has qualms about it. He travels with a beautiful, sexy vixen of a professional thief, also an elite hacker as well as his sometimes (but not sometimey) lover. If all that wasn’t enough, he reads Tarot cards, not because he believes they supernaturally predict anything, but because he thinks they provide a boolean logic alternative perspective to whatever conundrum defies clever solution. Blah, blah, blah.

I ate about 30 stale, generic reduced-fat “Wheat Crackers” while writing all that, supra. About the food-value equivalent of reading the two books ‘cited.’ I had the Weight Watchers points for the crackers, but I feel pretty guilty about applying my mind to the reading of junk-lit. Pretty easy to purge or work off the one, but what about the other?