Life Since June

As my June 2019 post indicated, I’ve been focused much more on living life than photographing or writing about it.

Did I mention it here?  In June, for my wife’s birthday, I got it into my head to bake her a cake.  She requested a cherry chip cake made from scratch.  I ended up more assisting her than making it myself, but she was pleased.  It was good enough to eat.

Cherry-Chip-Cake

Frosting also from scratch

Good-Enough-to-Eat

Turned out the cake was edible

In July, my family and I motored north to my wife’s family farm in Indiana (I always hate writing ‘in Indiana’ but this time will not find another way to present that data) where my wife was briefly reabsorbed by her family, I spent a lot of time bicycling, and our son hung out with and bonded with his cousins.  I crashed or fell off my bike twice in the same day injuring a different shoulder each time and am still feeling the residual effects of one of the injuries.  Both falls were stupid and each was my own fault – while annoying, that truth actually does help me accept the ongoing pain.   Rode to Muncie, Prairie Creek Reservoir, small municipalities thereabouts.  I saw what looked like a heroes’-gate shrine of some sort.  No hero this writer, I didn’t walk through the gate although I found it open.

Indiana-Chip-&-Seal-Road

Indiana chip and seal road

July-3-2019-Ride

Nazarene church parking lot where I crashed the first time.  Don’t ask.

Muncie-Chic-Fil--A

Muncie Chic-Fil-A.  I eat there every year.

Muncie-Grafitto

Only one graffiti snapshot.  Grassroots Christianity is an interesting phenomenon.

Patriotic-House

Patriotic display in a poor community.  I really liked it.

Heroes'-Gate

Heroes’ gate

Sometime during the intervening months, my car hit 222,222 miles, but I snapped the odometer photo at 222,223 – missed it by that much.

Missed-It-by-This-Much

Missed it by that much…

Last month, my son and I finally painted the mailbox’s weathered, white wooden post.  My mother has averted her eyes in shame the past 5 – 6 years when she’s come over to the house to visit due to the deficient pride in ownership that neglect has evidenced.  The month before, I finally finished sanding out the damage perpetrated by our yard’s squirrels upon three of my 2005 Pouch RZ96’s cockpit ribs.  I’d left the kayak assembled outdoors and neglected it during a dark period in my life when I worked in an agency maybe best described as the unfortunate-kid-from-the-dysfunctional-family-down-the-street of law enforcement.  About three weeks ago, I re-varnished the squirrel damaged ribs.

Repaired,-varnished-RZ96-Ribs

I’ve been writing out my thoughts and ideas – working on a conceptualization of a variety of human interaction I refer to as “Shit Room Theory.”  It’s not ready for publication yet and I’m trying to figure out how to manage a lecture on the subject for my YouTube channel.  That said, in its embryonic form, the theory’s been of help to two or three individuals facing a variety of unpleasantness.

After having been in my “new” office since March of this year, I finally last month admitted to myself I was unable to make sense of the room’s shape, its space, for the purposes of hanging my stack of artwork and arranging my furniture.  Once I’d done that, I asked a family friend if she could help me out with the office and within the space of about 4.5 hours, she’d corrected and made sense of my office’s decor – I simply followed instructions and moved things, sorted clutter.  The woman’s a genius.  If it wasn’t a breach of my company’s rules, I’d post a couple of photos to prove it.

Within a couple of days of that, a family very dear to us relocated to Helena, Montana.  Theodore Zachariades has taken a position preaching at a Reformed Baptist congregation not far from that capitol as well as working with a Christian polemics website, Pulpit & Pen.  Although I haven’t had much contact with the Theodore and his family in the past year and a half, my world feels emptier with them hundreds of miles distant.  Not gone, as the Expanded Universe Mandos have it, just marching far away.

Yesterday morning, I assembled the RZ96 and with my son’s help loaded it onto my Volvo’s roof-racks and drove to a nearby slough with a put-in at a rural city park.  I gave the boy the good water shoes and wore a many year’s old pair from Wal-Mart that tore up while we were lining the boat through shallows.  This was his first time in a kayak, and he’d been nervous because he supposed the behemoth unstable.  By day’s end, however, he was comfortable enough to stand while underway to better view the scenery.  I hope you have all been well and that you enjoy the photos.

Avec-Fils-RZ96

Bees'-Nest

My son saw what he referred to as a “bees’ nest.” We steered well clear of this hazard.

RZ96-2d-Lunch-Stop

Second lunch stop.  Dunno whether these were piers from bygone footbridge or part of an equally past-tense dam of some sort.

RZ96-Elk-River-Shallows

In the shallows.  That’s a Klepper paddle probably my age.  We did some umbrella sailing early on.  My son didn’t think it would work and was amazed when it did.

Christov10-RZ96-2019

This is how I look when I’m smiling.  Obligatory selfie.

Father’s Day

Today is the second Father’s Day in as many years that I will be spending the morning at a worship service, then afternoon with extended family. Previously, I’d taken the day off for the annual Childless Man’s Paddlefest – an event observed, now not at all, but then only by myself. However, today, as at about this time last year, I am a father.

Bad Monday

Monday late afternoon or evening, for about a minute, I knew my son had died and held him in my arms helpless to save him. Out of desperation, I placed him on the living room floor and began artificial respiration. His 24 pound body was still HOT from the fever he’d been running, but his skin had turned a blue gray color and his eyes stared fixedly in the direction determined not by his mind, but by the position in which his head lay. His lips were blue. His body was neither rigid nor floppy.

Clear airway, tilt head, cover mouth and nose with my own mouth. Three breaths, instead of the prescribed two. Some chest compressions. Noise as the air passed out of his lungs, over his vocal chords, and out his mouth. My wife had already called 911.

Somewhere in all activity, I prayed while I worked, but not coherently. God doesn’t require my direction to work.

My son’s arms moved a little, but I thought that was just dead nerves twitching as the biomechanical mass shut down in no real order. Then he made a sound unrelated to CPR, and I listened for a heartbeat. It was rapid-fire. I listened for breath, and picked him up. He clung limply now to my neck and I took the phone from my wife. I don’t remember what the 911 operator said after I gave him details about our son’s condition and exactly where to find our house. The guy hung up or the connection was lost.

I could hear a siren, so carried my still breathing boy outside so the driver could easily see which house was ours. My wife rode with him in the ambulance and I followed in her car, which has the child carseat. At the hospital his temp was unreal high, but his other vital signs in the ambulance and in the ER were more reasonable. I still think the hospital should have kept him overnight and monitored him, but they concluded “Febrile Seizure” and with the okay of the on-call pediatrician, discharged him late that night.

By Wednesday, the fever’d gone and it has had no recurrence. He broke out with pink spots Thursday which seems to indicate he’d had roseola. Friday and Saturday, he was his usual happy, inquisitive, toddler-self. He still knows all the words, songs, and activities he knew before his fever and seizure. He seems a little more open-hearted, happy, loving since he got sick, and a little less arrogant. That made me worry about whether he might have lost a few IQ points due to sickness, but our pediatrician laughed at that, said there was no reason to think the fever or seizure had affected his mental processes. Maybe he’s more open because he knows we really will take care of him?

That’s the story of how I am still a father.

Paddling

Quiver Sail on deck at left saw some use yesterday 6/20/09

Quiver Sail on deck at left saw some use yesterday 6/20/09

I woke up early Saturday, and got ready to paddle. Tsunami Chuck sold me a hand-held Quiver Sail that arrived by Fed-Ex on Thursday or Friday. Because I’m a miser, I’d agonized over the past year or so about replacing my Round-Up golf that had umbrella inverted and snapped in heavy wind by the small island on Tims Ford Lake sailing up into Lost Creek Branch. Should I buy a good golf umbrella, or ask for one out of somebody’s garage for free? So, when Chuck posted a classified about the Quiver Sail asking only $35.00 for it, I bought it.

Although the National Weather Service predicted temps in the upper nineties, it also predicted 10 – 15 mile per hour winds. A good day, I thought, to try out the new sail. I loaded gear and boat yesterday morning (because we looked at houses Friday afternoon/evening). I had trouble getting the boat on the roof racks – the front-door prop method failed spectacularly and cussed Godward like a heathen. Finally succeed using angry brute force in racking the 75# kayak, and drove out to the Woods Reservoir public access ramp off Old Brick Church Road in Coffee County.

I explained to God that the reason I was cursing was because of a circumstance so manifestly out of order that in my anger I was inviting him to observe and get angry about it with me. I said I would probably always thus bring wrong to his attention in the hope that he will take corrective action. I told God I would prefer not to feel the need to use profanity, but unless he altered my consciousness somehow, I would probably continue to express the things he’s used to hearing me express. Not defiant or disrespectful; transparent and real.

The ramp was not crowded and the put in was easy. Immediately, my injured shoulder communicated its distress to me, and I worked on paddling technique. That helped some. I was paddling in to maybe a nine mile per hour wind. When I got out by Elder Island, I turned the boat around and deployed the sail. Not much joy there in terms of forward momentum.

I paddled over to Morris Ferry Landing to see what the Arnold Engineering and Development Center’s base commandant has done in terms of public access. I found, to my surprise, a number of vacation trailers still in place and in use up in the trees above the lakefront. Many of the rickety, tin-sided dock structures have been removed. The covered dock by the cafe/store building has been removed.

The public does have access to the site in terms of boat-ramp use, bank-fishing, and swimming. The formerly public toilets have been padlocked, and I saw no trash cans. Simple steps that tend to limit the amount of time members of the general public will remain on site during normal hours of use.

I saw a couple bank-fishing, both of whom I tested when they were high school students, along with their year-old baby boy. An alert-looking blond-headed little boy sitting quietly under the shade of a tree in his stroller observing everything. I congratulated them on their little one, and the fact that they appeared to be catching a lot of fish.

Paddling back under the causeway to the AEDC side of the lake, I found the wind had picked up, but wasn’t blowing in the direction I wanted to go. I paddled back past the smaller Island of the Birds, and again deployed the sail. Worked better in a stronger breeze, but still slower than paddling. I sailed for awhile, then paddled back to the ramp.

Sons and Fathers

At the boatramp, I observed an ancient pontoon boat having engine trouble – whining at high pitch, emitting clouds of white smoke, then stalling out. Two or three men on the deckboat in early middle age. Parked by the ramp was a black Pontiac Firebird, like the one driven by Dwight Schrute (only Dwight’s is some kind of reddish color). Standing at the shore was a young man with long hair. He belonged to the car.

“Engine trouble?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said, “My dad can’t get it working.”

“You never know how your boat’s going to do until you get it to the water.”

Listening to the young man talk with his dad, it was obvious he wanted to salvage the situation for his father. He asked whether he should see about getting the father’s bassboat, and then called a couple of people to arrange its transport. It was important to this kid that things work out for his dad.

I recall when I was young and out for the day with my father sometimes things wouldn’t go as planned, and I always wanted to be able to alleviate his frustration by making things work out well for him. My dad’s tolerance for unexpected and confounding exigencies of circumstance was a lot lower than mine seems to be.

Now that I’m the dad, will my son be burdened with the sense that he’s got to make sure things turn out okay for me? I hope not.

Lateen Rig

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time untangling and laying stuff out. What I’ve got is at least one complete Folbot lateen sail rig – four leeboards, two thwarts, one complete and the top half of another mast, a complete sail-frame (dunno what it’s called) and a couple of spare parts (spars?), three sails, two tillers, two plywood Folbot seats, two Folbot Big Glider deck seats (one’s pretty trashed), and one of the smaller ribs to either the Glider or Super, and an ancient vinyl Folbot bag in stately blue and black.

The gentleman who gave me the rigs and oddments said he and his brother had the two Folbots. First his own was stolen, and then that belonging to his brother. The sailing gear, it’s my guess, was kept separately from the boats, but has had no use for them, and was unwilling to discard them.

All the ropes or, um, sheets will have to be replaced. The wing-nuts on the thwarts are seized, but may respond to liquid wrench. One of the thwarts appears designed to fit a Super, which had a gothic-arch cockpit similar to that of the RZ96. That bag needs a cleaning, but appears intact and, with the exception of a giant-sized zipper in need of, I think, paraffin, is in excellent shape, and will make a good hull and gear-bag for the E68.

Maybe some pictures tomorrow if I get home early enough to fool around with this stuff.

Thursday 4 September: I got out in the yard with the Great Blue Heron after work, and monkeyed around with parts, spars, masts, yokes. It took me ten sweaty minutes to get the one remaining wing-nut and bolt off the Super’s yoke or thwart. Then I took two bolts, which came off easily, from the Big Glider thwart, and added them to the former (Super thwart uses three, whereas Glider thwart uses four).

The bow end of the RZ96 cockpit, with the mast partner and its corresponding step, below, forms a somewhat narrower angle – that is, it’s pointier – than the likely bow-tend of the Super’s cockpit. So the the thwart, with its rounded triangular supporting piece below, does not set far enough forward to match the Pouch’s mast partner/mast-step.

I can, however, use the thwart and leeboards, considerably more delicate than same Folbot parts, that came with my Klepper rig. Because it was windy, and because I needed to get the RZ96 disassembled and back in its bags and stored before what appeared to be a rainstorm struck, I didn’t fool around with the sails. Maybe this weekend.