Morris Ferry Landing Final

Morris Ferry Dock
Morris Ferry Dock

This’ll probably be my last post about Morris Ferry Landing until the United States Air Force contracts with the relative of a hack careerist retired to a lucrative consultancy to build condos on the site in order to sell same to executives of some of the aerospace and other firms doing business as contractors at Arnold Engineering and Development Center. Well, that’s speculative. If things turn out differently, I’ll report that, too, if I wind up knowing about it. Like most Americans, I want to believe that hack careerists of the sort I’ve described end their careers with demotions or shunted into positions that declare their dishonor and inadequacy to the discerning observer.

I hurried through a two sandwich lunch after church Sunday, that is, yesterday, strapped down the kayak (I’d already set it atop Thursday, the silver 850, Saturday night after loading my gear in the trunk). Changed into polypro, and drove out to Old Brick Church boat ramp. On the water by 2:30, my stupid should immediately began to hurt. The big lunch sat uneasy in my distended-feeling gut as I tried to concentrate on paddle cant, torso rotation, and legwork to reduce shoulder strain. The wind was sort of at my back as I paddled past the Island of the Birds, a trick of that wind sparing my olfactory the rookery’s smell.

Not many boats on the water Sunday afternoon. To my right I could see what looked like an inflatable city at the base’s enlisted recreational beach. I paddled left toward the causeway for a last look at Morris Ferry Landing before it enters the past tomorrow, 9/30/08.

The former vacation colony was now mostly bare hillside and waterfront. The docks remained. I some camper trailers about three lots up the hill from the water’s edge. I could hear power tools being used somewhere out of site. The rustic covered boat slips were just about completely empty. All the larger, permanent trailers were gone.

Beech Point - Morris Ferry Landing
Beech Point – Morris Ferry Landing
The site has been mostly cleared of the vintage mobile-home-and-frame vacation dachas

The site has been mostly cleared of the vintage mobile-home-and-frame vacation dachas

Rustic slips empty now

Rustic slips empty now

Red-fly Coleman dome tent

Someone had pitched a beige, red-fly Coleman dome-tent adjacent the cafe/store. No boats were tied up at the dock. Most of the travel trailers that’d been near the bathrooms were gone. The small trailer with sign advertising some small construction business was still there. Someone had the engine-covers up and appeared to be working in the bilge of the big houseboat across from the fuel dock. IV, Lynda, and Isaac Hill’s vacation cottage had been reduced to a pile of structural timber, insulation, splinters, and one very old camper trailer. IV and another man were working to complete demolition. Hardware had been moved to one side. Nowhere really to burn the debris.

IV Hill standing near the wreckage of his family's former vacation home on the bank at Woods Reservoir across the fork from Morris Ferry Dock
IV Hill standing near the wreckage of his family’s vacation home – Morris Ferry Landing, Woods Reservoir, 9/28/08

IV Hill said he wished the Air Force had had the courage to tell the residents plainly why they have chosen to close Morris Ferry Landing. “We’re all grownups,” he said, “It is their land, so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t just say what they have in mind.” Tearing down the cottage has been emotional for him, he said. He remembered holidays at the site as a child, then the summers with his own wife and son. “We’ll find a way to come back,” he said, “even if we just bring our boat on a weekend.”

I paddled out and to my right, near where I photographed the red bucket tractor a couple of weeks ago. A couple of guys who looked like they were repairing something on a pontoon boat asked if I was having any luck. Not fishing, just paddling, I said. Working, not fishing, one of them replied.

I saw a tree with pods that’ve dried – gone to seed – as I paddled beside the causeway on the AEDC side of the lake.

On the way back to my put in, I met a couple of women paddling bright yellow sit on top kayaks. Audrey and Shawn, I think they said, were their names. At the boat ramp, a couple’d brought their beagle to the water. The happy yearling walked right in, then strained against the leash to get a closer look at the kayak on the grass, near my car.

Slightly Overcast

In the fall of the year clouds lying flat and high cast their nearly imperceptible shadows over the gently rolling hills of Loathsome Stepford.  Slightly overcast today my spirit not troubled but dull like awakening in borrowed quarters the morning after arriving by night, thus disoriented.

Paddling should have been my priority today.  I weighed-in at Weight Watchers, instead.  Seems I continue to lose weight even on maintenance points.  My current weight is less than it was when I was in my early thirties.  With some joy I received the advice to increase my points by one daily.

I drove out after to look at a street of houses where two are being sold by owner.  I stopped and wrote down the house and telephone numbers.  Stopped at my mom’s house and had a cup of coffee with her on the patio, phoned the numbers I’d written down.  No joy.  Nearby is another house built in about 1978 by an aged kinsman and another man (well-built with a livable floor plan) and sold to people who have now died.  A rental truck was in the driveway.  Feeling like a soulless cad I stopped, introduced myself, mentioned my people by name, and asked what the family intends doing with the property.  Gave the bereaved daughter my card.  There is a hell for people like me, and it is Stepford, but it is not forever.  In the neighborhood of the house upon which we made an offer, the association had apparently declared Yard Sale Day, so I stopped at a few, but nobody was selling anything I wanted, except four old, stout dining room chairs we don’t have room for.  I bought nothing, and returned home.

I ate a big lunch.

I’ve neglected the house too long, and must see to scraping, glazing, calking, priming, and painting the window trim around the sides and back.  But first I had to trim away some of the shrubs growing up around the window frames.  I trimmed other brush, too, because I was out in the yard working, anyway.  Foul white flies and other winged pests flew up around me as I worked.  I found a nest yellow-jackets in a hole by the apple tree, and killed them.

I took a shower, then took a nap.

Caution-Lady requires me every year to accompany her to a Western Day Shindig at Stepford Central Elementary School.  This year we took little 76.  With her class, CL tie-dyed T-shirts, and while she was making one for herself, she tie-dyed a “onesie”  (pronounced  wun-zee) for the bambino.  They dressed alike today.  Cute.  I wore the same thing I wear every day I’m not working – dark blue Dickies T-shirt, gigantic cargo shorts (if I could find some durable plus-fours reasonably priced, I’d probably wear them), and hiking boots.  The boy and I spent most of the hour or so walking about outside, looking at inflatable kids’ attractions, the pony ride, the small red Japanese manufactured tractor pulling a long, low flatbed trailer carrying hay bales and  children.  The little guy loved it.  Temperatures were in the upper 70s, and breezy.  No bugs to speak of.  He chattered, laughed, gazed rapt at other children and babies.

Afterward, we three went to a Mexican restaurant – the parental units overate while the infant unit drifted off to sleep in his Volkswagen-sized car seat.

Maybe I can paddle tomorrow afternoon.

I Liked This Picture

UPDATE 11-7-20 – I just checked the Six-Dollar T-shirt site and was unable to find the shirt designs that so entertained they motivated this blog post.  Now I’m sorry I didn’t copy the images to my hard drive and post them from there.  Bummer. 

I clicked on a Facebook “sponsored” link that took me to’s Facebook store. Saw some T-Shirt designs I thought must’ve arisen out of some intellectual and developmental impairment, but saw a couple I really liked.

Here’s one – Dropping the F-Bomb – cracked me up when I first saw it.  I hate it in that green color, though.  Makes it look like something a pot-head would wear – you remember those kids who left campus to smoke behind the library at lunch-time.  Wore washed out looking browns, blacks, greens with mismatching colored jackets, dingy white socks, dirty hair, as if pot-smoking killed the color-sense center in their brains.  Maybe it did.

Droppin the F-Bomb

Droppin’ the F-Bomb

And here’s one I liked even better:

Acting My Shoe Size

Acting My Shoe Size

Parties, Houses, No Paddling This Weekend

My youngest brother’s youngest child turned six, so my mom had everyone over for a birthday party Friday night.  On Saturday, we celebrated the 94th birthday of the oldest surviving male in the family.  Young Seventy-Six was a happy baby Friday night, and a fussy baby Saturday.

Since we got a new DVD player sans VHS player, we’re getting rid of your VHS tapes.  Gave several of them to my brother’s family at my mom’s house:

  1. Dr. No
  2. From Russia With Love
  3. Goldfinger
  4. Thunderball
  5. The World is Not Enough
  6. Braveheart
  7. The Fifth Element
  8. And some Anne of Green Gables collections for the little girl

Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I drove out into the country to look at a house on four acres in a neighboring county.  Barns and outbuildings.  I liked it, but it’s out of our price range.  We drove through a neighborhood that’s got five houses bigger than ours for sale well within our price range.  But the neighborhood.  Creepy.  Not a Twilight Zone neat-as-a-pin with no one about creepy (which sounds pretty good to me), but a grubby X-Files creepy.  Last time I really drove through there, maybe seven or eight years ago, it looked a lot better.

We’re planning to go out again with a realtor this afternoon to see the insides of some houses.

Caution-Lady’s going to bag church today as she’s stressed about upcoming parent-teacher conferences, and wishes to get some things done.  Cafe-Church pastor had surgery to remove cancer and a kidney last week, so he will not be in the pulpit today.  A Sewanee student from Flintville will be preaching.

I really need to wash the white car sometime soon.

Got all the line-trimming, mowing done yesterday afternoon before dark.  I’ll be glad when the pear tree is done producing and dropping fruit for the season.

Rocket Science

My latest foray into science and engineering.  The design is simplicity itself.

My latest foray into science and engineering. The design is simplicity itself.

I made this while gossiping with a co-worker on a break from report-writing. At once, I recognized its utility as a means of space-travel. So what I mean by rocket is rocket-ship. You can probably make one of these yourself, if you are so inclined.

My dad used to know an artist-guy named Conner Everett, back in California. The guy lived in a studio somewhere in the Los Angeles area that was probably at one time a grocery store, and had an auto-and-commercial-junk yard out the back. Dad took me there once. I liked the place. The guy had photos of himself with bare, huge breasted women taken, it looked like, in TiaJuana. Anyway, he was clothed and wearing a sombrero in the pictures. Dad had one of the guy’s pencil drawings entitled The Remote Possibility of Flight, An American Girl in Flight up on one of the walls in his office.

Now you know.

Reading Seventy-Six to Sleep

While my wife bathed, I held little Seventy-Six and read to him from Thomas Nettles’ By His Grace and For His Glory, a book Amazon finds currently unavailable.  Although I’ve just started reading this history of the doctrines of grace in Baptist faith and life, I find its style what I expect from a clear-thinking man who has got his mind around what it is he wishes to say.  Seventy-Six listened for a long while as I read aloud, then began trying to turn a page after grasping it.  Because I hadn’t finished reading that page yet, I gave him his blanket instead, and he soon fell asleep.

Another Look at Morris Ferry Landing 9/13/08

Won't be waving long here

Won't be waving here much longer - Old Glory at Morris Ferry Dock

Even though I was not feeling entirely well, I thought I’d paddle Saturday. I needed the physical activity. NOAA predicted much wind as Ike made his way north, brushing Western Tennessee with his right shirt-cuff. Paddling in wind either pisses me off because it impedes my progress, or makes an otherwise boringly familiar location interesting by offering resistance, chop, and spray. Sometimes paddling in excessively windy conditions is a challenge to God – strike me down or let me pass. Some days, I don’t much care which answer I receive. Saturday was almost, but not quite one of those days, in part because winds weren’t expected to exceed 25 mile per hour gusts, partly because I wasn’t that frustrated with the course of my life on earth.

Last weekend I stayed off the water because, if I recall this correctly, we’d made an offer on a house, were trying to get our house decluttered, and I’d just started chiropractic treatment for my badly misaligned, somewhat hideously deformed body. I still had a fair amount of physical pain, and didn’t want to mess up the chiropractor’s work.

I put in at the public boat ramp in Coffee County, down the hill from the hunter’s check-in station off Old Brick Church Road. A sign up at the shuttered check-in informed one that bobcats could be taken (shot? killed?) at any Tennessee Wildlife Management Agency site. I’ve seen their tracks at Normandy Lake, and heard them nearby in the brush along the trail at Old Stone Fort (annoyed me being stalked, so I ran after them – never saw them, but sure heard them or it running surprised away from me).

I’d left my Snapdragon neoprene deck sprayskirt in the boat shed. Damn. However, rolled up in the car’s trunk was the sieve-leaky blue nylon NRS Kilt I’d planned to post to a friend at Nashville who’s got a plastic rec-boat. It would at least serve well enough to keep most of the paddle drip off me.

A word about those sprayskirts – the lighter-weight, coated nylon skirt is hot as hell in the warm weather, whereas the much heavier neoprene-decked, “breathable” fabric Snapdragon skirt (which cost three times as much as the NRS Kilt) has never this summer been a source of discomfort to me. The Snapdragon also keeps the cockpit dry when edging or when small wind-waves break over the deck. So I guess that fabric’s breathability is not just bogus sales puffing.

A set of steps from the street to the lake on the Franklin County shore of Woods Reservoir

A set of steps from the street to the lake on the Franklin County shore of Woods Reservoir

Maybe 7:30, 7:45 a.m. when I began paddling. Already the wind was blowing steadily, and I made for the small, evil-smelling bird rookery island. There I rested in the lee of one of the lake’s stouter duck-blinds, before crossing to the Franklin County shore. Watch (I finally bought a new watch) had 8:30 as I reached the shelter of the far shore. I wasn’t making very good time.

Paddling was easier heading along the shoreline to Morris Ferry Landing. Although I had no real distance goals in mind today, I planned to paddle out to the doomed vacation village, cafe, fuel dock, and campground to see whether the residents were really leaving, to witness the end of something I never in the first instance knew much about.

Morris Ferry Landing marina - that's Beech Point trailer in the distance

Morris Ferry Landing marina - that's 'Beech Point' trailer in the distance

Rustic slips gone vacant

Rustic slips gone vacant

Old pontoon boat apparently removed from a covered slip

Old pontoon boat apparently removed from a covered slip - cobwebs and bits of broken wood on deck

Still a number of pontoon and speedboats tied up to docks along the shore on my right as I paddled up. Saw right away that a number of vacation trailers on the hillside had been removed. The sun porch attached to the trailer of the woman with whom I spoke Labor Day Weekend, right next to the “Beech Point” trailer, had been gutted. I saw two men standing at the “Beech Point” trailer’s dock. They said they’d removed that trailer’s underpinnings, and that the owner was having it hauled off later to a nearby farm. The older of the two men said the United States military could pretty much do what it wants “in time of war – with everybody’s attention in Iraq and Afghanistan, nobody’s looking at what’s happening here.”

"Beech Point" trailer - underpinnings removed preperatory to its removal

"Beech Point" trailer - underpinnings removed Saturday preperatory to its removal

Removal of structure and deck that'd been affixed to a vacation trailer

Removal of structure and deck that'd been attached to a vacation trailer - not far from 'Beech Point"

Around the little point and right, I paddled into the marina area – still plenty of boats tied up, but most of the boat-shed slips were empty. An old pontoon boat, cobwebs and flakes of rotted wood on its deck, floated beside the shed. Back out into the lake, and past the cafe-store, I looked and could see that IV and his family were not in residence this weekend. A number of camper trailers were still set up further along the shore. A pile of plastic chairs and unidentifiable debris behind a red enclosed tractor sporting a bucket in front bespoke disruption and change.

Red tractor's work is complete

Red tractor's work is complete

Early yet, I thought I’d buy a cheeseburger at the cafe. Nine-thirty always brings the beginning of lunch-pangs. So I tied up at the dock, as I’ve tied up there before. In a porch swing by the front door sat a man who greeted me. So I sat down on a nearby padded bench and exchanged speech with him. Rick Braytenbah, if I’ve remembered correctly. Thing about talking with people while out paddling, without waterproof writing implements, I’ve got to rely upon a memory largely self-absorbed or taken with things of a non-evidentiary nature.

Rick Braytenbah outside the entrance of Morris Ferry Dock cafe/store

Rick Braytenbah outside the entrance of Morris Ferry Dock cafe/store

Mr. Braytenbah, a former Detroit resident and General Motors retiree, said the residents at Morris Ferry Landing got an official letter notifying them of their eviction about a week ago, although he thought the leaseholder was given legal notice some time ago. “It’s a slap in the face,” said Braytenbah of the eviction. With two sons in college “this is what I can afford,” he said. He talked about the homeowners’ attempts to fight the Arnold Engineering and Development Center commander’s decision. He said after having publicly announced his decision, the commander was unable to back down from it. Braytenbah said he thought it was likely the military had real reasons for the decision to evict the residents and leaseholder, but would probably never publicly state their true reason for fear of publicity and liability problems.

I joked that the time for clearing out former Soviet listening posts in the name of homeland security was long past. The Wall’s been down a long time. Let the hypothetical old spy have a quiet retirement, or find other means of preventing prn work besides forcing everyone out.

One of the many camper trailers at Morris Ferry Landing

One of the many camper trailers at Morris Ferry Landing

Braytenbah said he thought once the residential trailers, as opposed to camper-trailers, have been removed, the base commander might relent, as the original intent had not been to provide space for permanent dwelling houses. He said he was able to look at the matter unemotionally, and could see the military point of view. Additionally, looking at the structures maintained by the leaseholder, it is clear that they have not been sedulously kept up. The eviction and closure, we both agreed, is galling.

Inside the store, I bought and ate a chicken salad sandwich, stood and ate it while talking to a government employee and her husband. Good sandwich, and cheap, although I’d gone in thinking to get a cheeseburger. Good time to eat a cheeseburger, when you’re going to paddle a few miles. But the chicken salad’s a slightly healthier choice.

Stepping back outside, I saw that Braytenbah had been joined by a guy in uniform I’d met before, another man with a small child. I asked whether I could snap the group’s picture for the web, and they all cleared out except for Rick Braytenbah. “I’ll remember ‘Rick,’ but there’s no way I’ll remember your last name,” I said.

“You won’t even remember that,” he said, “But it’s easy to remember – ‘Bray’_’Ten’_’Bah’,” and then spelled it out. I’m sure I’ve got his first name, and the last two syllables of his last name, correct.

It was time to go. I was getting fat, having sat for awhile when I should have been paddling, then further compounded the sloth by eating a sandwich I probably didn’t need. So I said goodbye, walked to my boat, untied it, and paddled off. Back to the AEDC side of the lake.

Elder Island shoreline at my right as I returned to the AEDC side of the lake

Elder Island shoreline at my right as I returned to the AEDC side of the lake

The wind really pushed me along, especially in that narrow channel between the Franklin County shore and Elder Island. Even in that channel’s deeper water, a tan-colored weed was growing up thickly, visible beneath the surface. I wondered whether it represents some sort of ecological problem, and will crud up the water.

I rested out of the wind at the other end of Elder Island, then set off in a long, shallow arc to the UTSI beach next to the boat house. Water became choppy, became quartering “seas” as I crossed. The boat did fine, I made good progress, although by the feel of the paddle, I wasn’t making much headway. A lot of water splashed onto even the back deck, which is unusual. The E68’s back deck normally remains close to bone dry.

A windy day for sailing - boats from Highland Rim Yachtclub

A windy day for sailing - boats from Highland Rim Yachtclub

When I looked to my right as drew nearer UTSI, I saw a number of sailboats getting underway. Highland Rim Yachtclub must’ve been having some sort of race or knockabout derby – looked like any class of sailboat qualified for whatever race required them to to around the big yellow floats towed into place by a pontoon boat and a runabout.

The entire way back along the AEDC shore was against the wind, and the effort made me happy. At the former Girl Scout camp Tannassie, now an AEDC Department of Defense, government contractor, or AEDC supporter’s club (paid annual membership) facility and recipient of a rumored $385,000.00 in improvements in the form of five small, rustic cabins and bath-house repainting, it looked like a group was having a child’s birthday party.

Docked yachtclub flagship - made me wish I had an FKO burgee to display

Docked yacht club flagship - made me wish I had an FKO burgee to display

A crew appeared to be setting up a pavilion of some sort at the rec-beach. At the Highland Rim Yacht Club beach, a number of families had set up chairs and picnic gear, kids played in the water, and one boat at its slip displayed a number of burgees, pennants, little flags the meanings of which I could not divine. A teenage girl in a bikini shouted “Hello,” and “Goodbye,” as I paddled past.

Once around the point past the officers’ club beach, the wind was at my back again, and I raced the wind-waves. The surfing sensation felt fast, but plowing into the backs of the waves seemed to slow me.

Most of the pictures I took can be found here.

Another, possibly last, look at Morris Ferry landing

Another, possibly last, look at Morris Ferry landing


Yesterday I interviewed and tested a 19 year old woman who looked at the date she’d written to the right of her name on a survey cover-sheet. “It was seven years ago,” she said. “We were at school, and one of the teachers turned on the TV, and we all watched it for awhile. Then she wouldn’t let us watch it anymore, and she made us get back to school work.”

I remember driving to Murfreesboro on I-24 that the morning was cool. A colder September than this. And through the car’s windshield I noticed an unusual depth to the sky’s blue, attributing it to the cold, to fall of the year. At a scheduled news break, the radio announcer said a report had been received a small plane, maybe a single-engine propeller driven craft, had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers at New York. A terrible accident.

By the time I’d arrived at Murfreesboro, the other plane had hit the other tower. President Bush was visiting an elementary school in Florida. Another plane struck the Pentagon, and early eyewitness reports had it that USAF fighter jets had downed a fourth. Later iterations of that story had it that the passengers overpowered the terrorists and brought the plane down. Jets or passengers, either set of actions would have been deemed acceptable by the American people. We’re practical that way.

I returned home early afternoon. I thought if some further attack occurred, I’d just as soon be with my wife when it came. There were no contrails in the sky that day or the next.

That first day intelligence agencies identified Osama bin Laden, Al Queda, as the perpetrators, if I recall correctly, because in the debris of the collapsed trade center towers, somebody found a wallet with a slip of paper tying the whole thing bin Laden or Al Queda. Amazing how that worked out. Do you remember soon after the many different “approved” news-reader pronunciations of Al Queda, and various Afghan place names? They place such importance on what passes for correct as the consensus changes by the hour or by the day. Honestly, who can take those fools seriously?

I remember thinking the message of the plane crashers was a symbolic attack against the United States’ Economy, Military, and form of Government (that fourth plane was supposedly intended for the White House). That it was not a religious statement, at all.

You may remember that a few months previously the mainland Chinese forced down one of our unarmed spy planes that had been flying in international airspace. President Bush failed to take hard line with the communist government, and almost publicly begged that regime for the return of our airmen and equipment. We did pluck one of the Chinese pilots out of the sea, but I hardly think it made an even trade. Ours was a shameful public display of weakness in time of crisis. It was not forgotten. Airplanes.

My friend Doros thinks the attacks were a religious statement. But if a religious statement, why not an obvious religious target? Doros has solved that conundrum for himself by coming to the conclusion that to the Dervish, every American is a Christian. Doros preached a fiery sermon the matter last weekend, and has blogged about it a bit here. The sermon he preached is here.

Personally, I don’t think the religion of Islamo-Fascist terrorists has anything to do with God, and no reasonable person would seriously argue it has anything to do with peace. You must decide for yourself what you think I mean by that statement.

I reject terrorism because it is evil to strike the innocent in order to apply pressure to the guilty, or to draw attention to the painful circumstances in which one or a group are embedded. It is evil to strike the innocent. In some instances it may be wrong to strike the guilty, but I think this is probably only true when it is to delay for some good reason the consequence that must find them out.

Nevertheless, as the old anarchist used to call it, the propaganda of the deed is indeed a message, and its interpretation should never be entrusted to the one it is published against. We who observe are wise to apply our own minds to the problem of this Babel-Tower confused speech, eschew reliance upon what passes for expert informed opinion. Why was the expert informed, and by whom?

Rambling now, I abandon this post.

Real Estate

We made an offer on that house, and the seller made a counter-offer, coming down maybe $1000.00. We countered that with the amount we had agreed beforehand we would not go above. The seller balked, and we walked. Slight disappointment, but we’ll wait for something suitable at a price we’re willing to pay. We’re in a strong position with no need to sell, and reasonably content in our current abode. Actually, there are four or five suitable houses in acceptable neighborhoods with asking prices at or below what we offered for that grander brick house we’re not getting.

Front of that house we didn't get.  Neighbor in the white house has a canoe in the backyard

Front of that house we didn't get. The neighbor in the white house has a canoe in the back yard.

Back view of the house we didn't get.  Note the attached two-car garage, screen sunroom off the den.  Very grand, by our standards.

Back view of the house we didn't get. Note the attached two-car garage and screened sunroom off the den. Very grand, by our standards.

Kayak Dream Flight

Last night I dreamt I flew my red kayak after the sun set to familiar waters among people I don’t know to a house on the water where we made ourselves somewhat chaotically at home.  Usually in my dreams when I fly I require no conveyance other than my mind my will my astral self.  I am experimenting without commas.