Stuff I’ve Been Thinking About

Blog Posts

My blog posts, in grammar, content, and style, tend to have the character of telephone pad doodles or the things one writes in the margins while taking notes during a meeting, lecture, or while reading a book.  Mistaken is the person who expects this or any blog to conform to scholastic ideals of “penmanship” or rigid notions of propriety.

Stodgy Canoe Guy

One of the things I like about paddling is the woodsy ambiance or vibe associated with paddling.  It’s especially evident in the preoccupation with things like sandpaper, tung oil, needle-and-thread, preparedness, self-reliance and mutual aid.  And the clothes.  At least the clothes I wear – floppy hat, old permanent press work shirt, long baggy shorts, etc.  For the most part cheap, plain-looking clothes that dry quickly.  I’ll leave the bright colors to the guys zipping around on jet-skiis.

Other Drivers on the Road

Something is wrong with the people who drive their cars, outer elbow (because this is probably true in England as well as America) on the window ledge and forearm hanging down against the outside of the car-door, palm backward, resembling to me a large, usually fat, white-bellied dead fish.  It’s like the driver lacks the energy or some other quality of life that separates the living from zombie-like necessary to so much as control all of his or her limbs, in addition to operating a motor vehicle.  Usually, this type of motorist drives too slowly and seems to take pleasure in aggravating the drivers behind them who, for some reason, cannot yet pass them.  Also, and this is similarly galling, this sort of driver seems to be saying, “I AM TOO BIG, THIS CAR CANNOT CONTAIN ME, I AM BURSTING OUT OF THIS CAR!” which is, in itself, pretty offensive.

I think license plates on vehicles should bear some device or color-coded tag that allows other motorists to determine at a glance the vehicle owner’s Performance Intelligence Quotient (or PREFERABLY some entirely new measure of intelligence specific to motor vehicle operation).  Maybe something that could be abbreviated DIQ.  Drivers are going to let you know all about theirs, anyway, but it would be nice to know at a glance in order to plan lane changes and passing before it becomes necessary to dodge some erratic manifestation of deficiency or impaired ability.  Drivers with seriously impaired DIQs could be required to drive vehicles like that Obama soap-bubble, the so-called “Smart Car” – that way when they crash their vehicles into other vehicles or buildings they will do less harm to other people.

The use of cellular telephones by anyone operating a motor vehicle should be prohibited; pull over to talk on the phone.

Feeling Rich

When I bought that canoe Ohio last week, then took it to the White River and paid the outfitter there a measly $13.00 for shuttle service, I felt rich.  A man who has his own canoe is a man of substance, and a man who can use his own strength and sense to propel it on the water’s surface is a man who feels rich, indeed.

I do not know why, having owned five folding kayaks, I never felt that way before about owning and paddling that type of boat.  Folding kayaks are uniquely beautiful.  They tend to be more expensive to purchase than canoes.  I think the difference is a sense of permanence.  A folding kayak is designed to be put away or packed for easy transportation to the location of its intended use, whereas an aluminum canoe is designed to retain its shape and withstand the elements through time.  True it is that folding kayaks are designed likewise to last through time.  The most recent of these that I have purchased was manufactured around 1962 and was watertight when I got it.  The Grumman canoe is 36 years old, the Pionier kayak is 47.

I felt a bitter sense of loss when it was time to put the canoe in to the barn loft at the farm last Friday.  The feeling is similar to what I experience every time I disassemble one of my kayaks.  The feeling roughly translates thus, “Have I used this boat for the last time?  Is this the last time I perform this task?”  What doesn’t translate neatly in to words is the knowledge that some or other that will be the case.  I will use my kayak or canoe for the last time, and I may not know the experience is my last with that boat until time provides a vantage point for perspective, or events translate me in to the past tense and my next phase of existence.

These unpleasant feelings that I wish to repress seem consistent with an unconscious fear of death, although I seem to be in fairly robust good health at present.  As a young drunkard 26 or 27 years ago, I sought but did not find death.  As a man in middle age I seem to be aware of other feelings pertaining to my mortality.  Although they are clearly as long-lasting as any hardshell paddlecraft, the folding kayak has an ephemeral quality – skin stretched over a frame operated by whatever it is that I consist of – that is similar to that of man and animal.

4 thoughts on “Stuff I’ve Been Thinking About

  1. When I think of those arms hanging out of the cars (which I tend to associate with overly-large fellows who also have dominance, “I own this road and can drive however slowly I da**ed well please”, issues)I always think of the wasp and bee stings they will doubtless incur. Disneyland and Magic Mountain taught me well: “Keep your hands in the vehicle until the ride comes to a complete stop.”

    Putting the kayak away…possibly closing a chapter in the book that is your life. I know the feeling so well – the bittersweet wisdom and beauty of middlish age.

    • I was thinking about this some more last night, and it may not be any real fear of death. Instead, I think it is more likely a fear of the loss of competence or the possibility that circumstances will otherwise so alter that the things I am good at, value, or enjoy will be, although the term is not adequate, unavailable. Has more to do with change and age than death, per se.

      One of the people I’ve interviewed was injured when the car in which she rode as passenger with her elbow resting on the open window’s ledge was struck by another motorist on that side. I would prefer that offenders of the sort I’ve described get bee stings and mosquito bites than physical injury.

      At Disneyland and Magic Mountain, I was always more afraid of getting my limbs torn off than bit or stung.

      • The reason I think of bees and wasps in relation to drivers’ arms hanging down is that my former husband used to drive with his arm out and was repeatedly stung by bees and wasps, to the point that he started carrying a bee-sting kit in the car. I could never understand why he didn’t just bring his arm into the vehicle. Interestingly enough, in my 46 years of life I’ve never been stung by a bee or wasp.

        As for limbs, I always remember the horror stories our school bus driver used to tell us to keep us from sticking our arms out of the bus windows…shudder.

        It’s not so much fear of death for me either, more the inevitable sadness of leaving things behind – saying good-bye to what once was. I think I’ve cried every time I’ve ever moved. It doesn’t matter how happy I am about where I’m headed next, I still feel grief for what I’ve left behind.

      • About the bees and wasps, did he wear a lot of cologne? Or was he the descendant of someone God in ancient times called the bee from Assyria to sting?

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