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.


Frosting also from scratch


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 and seal road


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


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


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


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


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 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.


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.



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


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


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.


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

From Smooth Rapids to VFW Lodge, McMinnville – Folbot Aleut

With the 2003 Anniversary Edition Folbot  Aleut I bought in late June, I drove to McMinnville again to float the Barren Fork River from Smooth Rapids to the VFW lodge.  My son and I paddled that length of river  in our Grumman canoe.  Longer ago than that, after a rainy week, I’d taken the Aleut to Smooth Rapids only to be advised against putting in there by the guy in charge that day d/t debris, etc.

In late September, I finally got back to Smooth Rapids with the Aleut, but by then we’d had about no appreciable rain on the Upper Cumberland Plateau for about two weeks, and I had some concerns about low water level.  Still, hypalon’s supposed to be a tough material for hullskins, and I numerous times dragged a 75# wood-framed solo kayak with PVC hull over rocks and fallen trees and heaven knows what crud may choke a laughably small river’s channel.  Without mishap.

During my late September paddle/float down the Barren Form & Collins rivers, I had reason to regret leaving a handy painter in the car.  Two or three times I my kayak hung on rocks and one time I just got out and pulled the Aleut, wagon-like, behind me.  I started writing this post about a month ago, but I’d already prepped the snapshots, so here they are:

Bow Half Float Bag

Stern Half Float Bag

Bow and stern sections, respectively, with NRS medium float bags. Inflated, they take up most of bow and stern sections under the deck.  Pretty good displacement for the 12′ Aleut, I’d guess.

Smooth Rapids Put In

That’s the Smooth Rapids restaurant, office, store up there on the hillside. Restaurant seating is available up there  on the deck.  You can drive down near the put in, then back up the hill to a parking lot out of frame to the building’s left.

Aleut Seatback

That’s how I got the Folbot’s seatback to stay in place. I’ve got the seatback’s tension pretty high and lean forward when paddling.  Sort of like a backband, but not quite.  Just making due with what I’ve got.

Aleut & Klepper Paddle

That’s the first kayak paddle I ever bought – probably close to my own age, it’s about 240 cm in length and is a Klepper paddle.  I tried it out on this river float trip and found it far superior for the purpose than my Eric Renshaw Greenland style paddle that’s a lot shorter.  Also, the Klepper paddle’s got metal riveted to the blades’ edges which proved helpful this day.  I think in future this is the paddle I’ll be using with the Aleut at least until I get a longer Greenland paddle.  I think I mentioned in a previous post about smashing fingernails against the Aleut’s deckline D-rings using the shorter paddle; not a problem with the Klepper paddle.

Barren R Steep Rocky

Meadowy Grove

Future Fossil Bed

Confluence Construction

Construction Site Runoff

Too Shallow Need Painter

Barren R Curve

I wish I’d had time to get out and paddle a Franklin County slough, today, but instead dropped off the Jamis for some repairs and the Sprite frame for headset.  Stopped by a gun store and range where I spoke with a fellow I haven’t seen in several years, entered a drawing for a “tactical” shotgun.  If I win it, I’ll review it here.



Friend’s Visit, RZ96 on Woods Reservoir

My best friend, a fellow who lived at the top of the steps at SBTS, same dorm, same floor that I infested during my time as a Southern Baptist seminarian, is visiting this weekend. I’ve asked him to be my son’s godfather, and we’re having a baby-dedication service at the Cafe Church tomorrow.

Eric injured his back not too long ago, so today we didn’t paddle far at Woods Reservoir. I’d planned to paddle to the lake’s south shore, then left and under the causeway, maybe stop for a sandwich or something at Morris Ferry Dock, and on up the Elk looking at the scenery and talking about the nature of life on earth. However, with Eric’s injury and the wind blowing from south and west at 20 mph, we paddled right upon reaching the south shore. Eric tends to paddle with his arms, we hadn’t worked out a cadence yet that prevented paddle clashing, and we were headed into the wind, more or less. The crossing took awhile longer than it usually does.

On the other side we turned right, ate the sandwiches we’d brought, and paddled along the shore, out of the wind, then around a point where windblown, white-capping chop could be seen past two pilings that once supported a duck blind. Into the wind we continued along the shore until we reached a fork, and allowed the wind to push us slowly drifting as we ate more of the lunch from the cooler. We found a shallow place where Eric was able to get out, walk about, and stretch his back.

We poked around in the shallows looking at turtles, trees, some frogs jumping. We paddled against the wind back out to the lake, proper, then out toward the middle. There we ate some oranges, throwing the rinds into the water. Some floated, some sank. I rinsed my hands off in the lake.

Crossing to the rec-beach, Eric sighted along his paddle and pretended to empty a clip on full-auto at a distant motor boat headed our way. I looked at the boat, thought, “Excrement,” and said, “Dude, that’s the police boat, we’re gonna get hassled.” The officers, however, stopped where they were, and we paddled on. We were not even hassled when we tied up at the rec-beach courtesy dock.

After resting our aching backs laying flat on the sun-heated dock’s abrasive coated surface for awhile, we got back in the boat and paddled back to the put-in.  Under way again, it seemed we had developed a  cadence that resulted in no further clashing of paddles as we made our way along the lake’s north shore.

I’d brought along a Klepper paddle, at least 40 – 50 years old, and Eric used my Renshaw Greenland style paddle.  The Klepper’s about 245 cm, and the Renshaw maybe 223.  Probably, for this boat, I should have a 240 cm paddle for the stern paddler, and a 230, 235 for the bow.

Predictably, there were some people fishing there near the 850. I reckoned they’d just have to cope with our noisy and fish-disruptive presence. We exchanged polite small talk with them, a shaved-headed white man of indeterminate age, and a stout black woman with a tattoo on her bare upper right arm. I heard the woman say to her companion as I sponged out some of the RZ’s bilgewater, “Look at that – he’s got a farmer tan.”

“Better than a tattoo or the skin cancer I spent my sun-tanning youth working on,” I thought. Pretty funny, actually, the things people say.

We managed to get the RZ (at 18′, it’s longer than my car) up on the roof-racks. Inverted, so it rested on the coaming for better support than it would have had hull-down due to the distance between the racks. I tied it down pretty tight, but the wind blew the kayak around a bit as I drove back to the house. I’ll probably need to buy some longer straps in order to really secure the boat laterally. I did not move forward or back while driving.

The process yesterday morning of getting up, getting the paddling gear loaded up in the car, getting to the put in, getting to RZ96 assembled, getting on the water a lot later than is for me the norm, served to inform me that I am an obsessive freak when it comes to paddling. I over prepare; have goals related to getting on the water early; distance and destination; expectations for those who accompany me on my travels. I experience anxiety if I’m not on the water early. No wonder I have a hard time finding anyone willing to kayak with me.

Eric said he’s always been the same way about cycling trips – not really about fun, but about distance goals, endurance, preparation, and slow-burn annoyance with others who didn’t seem to take the activity as seriously.