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.

Thinking About Another Kayak

I’m thinking about getting another kayak. This, the holy grail of American made kayaks, a Seavivor Greenland Solo.  I’m very interested.  The kayak’s long at 17’4″, and reputedly fast.  It has no sponsons which, I think, is a bonus in terms of skin fit, weight, handling.  The Seavivor’s located a long way off, which is logistically maybe  a problem.  Also, it’ll be heavy compared to my Folbot Aleut, but I may still be strong enough to manage its weight.  Anyhow, I want to go far and go fast on the water.

A few things I’ve learned about myself and folding kayaks are:  I like to keep them put-together most of the time; my driveway and yard are lousy environments for storing a folding kayak assembled; I tend to dislike assembling at the put-in even when that makes better logistical and kayak-care sense.

My experience with the RZ96 has informed me that the squirrels in my neighborhood pose a hazard to any stationary thing softer than their teeth.  My experience with 450s has informed me, to my shame, that even covered, in the yard moisture will wreck wood parts.

The two kayaks I currently own are safely stored disassembled in their bags.  I have room for a third.  I DARE the local squirrels to take their teeth to my aluminum canoe, which does stay out in the yard.

Three Years on Two Wheels

Why I Ride

I recently wrote, in another venue, that I ride to explore my environment, urban and rural wild places.  What I didn’t write, because it only struck me upon reflection, afterward, is that I ride, I canoe, I kayak, because the nature of these activities is not only that they are self-powered, they are self-directed.


We live in a society that restricts our freedom by demanding insane degrees of commitment and effort in exchange for a wage, and that freedom is further curtailed by legal requirements touching upon every activity we must engage in to earn that wage and live within the boundaries of society – licensure, insurance, taxes on every purchase in addition to some types of property owned, and our tax diminished incomes.

But if I buy a used bike, or a used canoe, or used gear, and then put that stuff to a use I, myself, choose, and use it to go where I like, when I like, I wage war against the constraints of an increasingly statist society.  I invite those who wish to constrain my movements and interests to experience the absurd extreme of their philosophical bent and make animal sounds moonward.  And I tread upon the idea that I require the permission of others to move about freely and freely observe and consider the environment in which I find myself.

That said, I’d buy a new bike from a manufacturer or retailer if I got a really good deal and could justify the expense – two conditions that have gone unmet for a longish time.  And if I win a bike or the use of a bike, you can bet I will subject it to frequent use, abuse, will photograph it and publish the snapshots and accounts of my exploits.

To Recap


Eight wheels, I count eight wheels; two don’t count, though – I no longer have the Trek…

Sometime in mid-August fell my third anniversary as an adult cyclist.  I took to two wheels three years ago while at a completely worthless employer mandated training at Murfreesboro.  After the work day, on two consecutive days, I drove downtown to MOAB and I bought a couple of comfort bikes – one for my wife and the other for me.  Since then, I have taken to riding really old, lugged steel friction-shifted road bikes.  A couple of years ago, my father-in-law gave me the coffee-colored Raleigh Sprite he had while stationed in Honolulu in the early Seventies.  I finally got the frame to the soda-blaster and need to finish sand it and get it to the powder-coater.  I’m thinking British Racing Green with silver or gray fenders.  A little over one year ago, I got a fairly serious injury that gave me an opportunity to rethink my hopes and dreams, to get back on course to reach goals I’d been neglecting over the previous year (2012 – 2013).  Early this year, I bought my friend’s spare Bridgestone MB-4; its top-tube was too short for him, but the bike fit me fine.  I spent a long time learning about headsets, hammers, mallets, woodblocks, jigs.  The Bridgestone’s mostly sorted out, now, but I think the headtube may need refaced and the headset further monkeyed with.  Still, the bike suits me fine so far and I’m not racing singletrack with it.


I got some 3M spoke reflectors for the front wheel

Also, back in 2013, I spent $40 at a garage sale for a Suteki Track 10 mixte in nearly NOS condition, and gave it to my wife.  A very pretty blue, lugged steel frame with 27” wheels, Shimano 600 drivetrain, Tektro brakes, etc., circa 1979.  A tune-up, some new cables, new tires, and the bike was as ride-able as the day it was first assembled.

Bikes versus Boats


That’s the RZ-96 on the roof of Thursday, probably the best car I’ve ever owned

Those are a lot of bikes.  I’m down to one tandem kayak – a Pouch RZ-96 – and one canoe – a 1974 Grumman 18’ aluminum.  I haven’t been paddling much since I started riding bikes.  It’s the convenience factor, and I’ve mentioned it before on this site – I can set off from my driveway, spend two or three hours monkeying around on the road, and return to the house (Southerners say that a lot – “the house” – when they mean to say “home.”  I have a theory about the tendency’s origins, but have not thought about it enough to write about it).  With a canoe or kayak, even a folding kayak, I have to load boat and gear into a car (if I’m smart, I do this the night before), drive to a put-in, assemble or unload the boat, rig the boat, put gear in the boat, in cold weather change into immersion gear, set out, paddle about thirty minutes beyond the point where I know I can easily turn around and make it back, then turn around and paddle back to the put-in, usually against a howling, white-cap churning headwind.  I do that to test my manly strength and determination – I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to risk their survival in tests of endurance?  I feel pretty certain a lot of women do that sort of thing, too.  But, since I am a man, it is my manliness that I put to the test – I’ve always come back without having needed assistance.


I brought this back for my wife from the furthest point I’ve paddled upstream on the Elk River

Serious or Recreational?

Because there’ve rarely been people of my personal acquaintance much interested in the things I like, I’ve corresponded via Internet message boards with others who share my enthusiasm for kayaking, or “messing about in boats.”  There’s nothing half so pleasant as messing about in boats, to paraphrase, I think, Mr. Badger or Mr. Toad or another character from those old stories the names of which I now no longer recall, but which is the source of the phrase.


Wind in the Willows – found the name when I found the image

That’s a phrase I’ve seen used a lot by people at the Folbot Forum and at FKO –  Many of the people who exchange ideas, information, comments on both boards don’t seem to identify as “hardcore” or “serious” paddlers (although some do) and, as paddlers of folding kayaks, most mainstream paddlers of Kevlar, plastic, fiberglass kayaks would consider us, almost dismissively, “recreational” paddlers.

Anyway, I’ll take the advice of my old friend, Diana Hardin, and let other people categorize me and my pursuits without giving the matter too much thought.  Let others ‘define’ you; you go and live (a life that makes ethical and logical sense to yourself) without regard to their rules, strictures, and opinions.

I find there’s not much I like more than exploring waterways and wild places.  In a kayak, or in a canoe (although a canoe is more difficult to manage in winds), you can get places where power-boaters cannot and hikers usually do not go.  The drum-song of paddle drip rhythmically striking a folding kayak’s fabric deck or one’s spray-deck like a metronome marks the beat of each paddle stroke making forward movement easier when tired.  Good it is to see and be present in places most people cannot imagine exist.

In the same way that I’ll not be categorized as a serious paddler, no one who categorizes will categorize me as a “serious” cyclist.  I like monkeying around on bikes finding it a good way to explore the world around me and get to places others don’t or won’t go because it’s not convenient for them; it requires effort, some physical exertion.  My most-used Cyclemeter route is “Monkeying Around.”  I’ve done about 2000 miles, so far, this calendar year that I’d so classify, and the route changes every time I ride it – usually a route I choose when I’m getting under way.

About ‘Selfies’

Orbea-SelfieYard King

Activities:  Paddling; Cycling; Mulching Leaves in the Yard – this is how I look when I’m smiling

I mentioned, above, that I don’t usually find other people much interested in the same activities that interest me.  I think that’s the reason I take photos of myself while out in a boat or out on the road – there’s usually no one else along to snap a picture of me doing stuff I really enjoy.  This may be true of others and may partially explain the “selfie” phenomenon.

Define Serious

Okay.  I did join the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association and maintained membership for a few years, attended a couple of workshops, participated in a couple of activities, but most of those folks, locally, are interested in whitewater paddling, and I could care less about that activity.  Also, a lot of them seem to be all into some kind of advocacy or other.  I tend to be unmoved by that sort of thing.

I do prefer a Greenland style paddle and made one of my own out of Tennessee red cedar (it didn’t turn out very well, but I used it for a long time until I could justify the expense of one made by someone else with actual woodworking skills).  When I take a day trip by kayak or canoe, I usually paddle boats designed to cover long distances, dress for immersion, carry a spare paddle, and carry sufficient gear and food to see me through in the event I get stuck somewhere overnight, paddling doesn’t occupy the place that religion occupies for people who adhere (more or less faithfully) to the tenets of a religion. I haven’t learned 83 different types of Greenland rolls, I don’t spell “kayak” with a “Q” – I mean, you’re spelling a consonant sound from a language that didn’t until recently have a written form using a 26-letter (it is 26 letters, isn’t it?) European alphabet, right?  Why would anyone imagine it’s more “authentic” to write “q’ajaq” than “kayak”?  Additionally, I don’t venerate my paddles, I use them to move my boats through water, and if I occasionally use the paddle to push off from the bank, I don’t imagine I’ve transgressed against the ‘spirit’ of my paddle by having used it like a “shovel.”   Honestly, some people.  But that’s the religious bent of humanity.

And I’m not serious about messing about in boats.  When I got to the point that I felt guilty about not paddling on days I had time to do so, I backed off.  And, truthfully, I’d rather spend time with my wife and son, most days.

Wheelmen (and a woman?) 1895

Stepford Bike Club

I joined and maintain membership in a local bicycling club, attend meetings, and am slightly active in the club.  I can do some basic bike maintenance.  When I bicycle, I usually bring along a multi-tool, spare tube, a patch kit, a lot of times wear lycra bicycle specific garments, wear a bike helmet, wear cycling gloves, make it a point to be seen by motorists, have no fear of riding in traffic like a vehicle, ride every day, ride distances that would have seemed mind-blowing and impossible to me three years ago (but which are like a ride around the block for many cyclists).  But I tend to think of myself as more of a “budget cyclist,” meaning I try to justify every expense and spend as little as possible on bikes, equipment, clothing, maintenance, and so forth.  Sometimes, my wife is willing to join me on a bike ride.  She hated monkeying around in kayaks and canoes.  My son joins me on a lot of extended neighborhood rides.  Until last week, the only bike we owned that was manufactured in the current century was my son’s Trek Jet 20.   The only new bikes I’ve ever purchased where those two comfort bikes from MOAB about three years ago – both of which we’ve sold.  Until last week, the only bike we owned that was capable of indexed shifting was the ‘89 Bridgestone.

On the other hand, I could care less about competing against other cyclists, I have blinking lights (fore and aft) on my bikes when riding because I want to be seen by motorists, I’m annoyed by glaring jack-ass cyclists who take up position in the middle of the only, fairly wide, directional lane of traffic to self-consciously and self-righteously ride 16 miles an hour while holding up a line of eight motorists trying to get to work, I wave “Hello” or speak to other cyclists I meet on the road, I tend to move over to the right side of a lane of traffic for cars when I can do it safely except when closing up the gap to a red light or stop sign or about to turn left, I stop to take pictures, I ride through neighborhoods because I want to see what’s in them, I don’t wear lycra sex-organ baring garments when I know I’m going to be riding around kids, and I don’t wear those clothes when I ride my bike to congregational meetings, I have no interest in banning automobiles, I like automobiles and like driving them.  So, I probably don’t fall into a “serious” cyclist category, by many measures.  Almost forgot – I don’t use clipless pedals.

Too much information, and too few pictures – another post published.  A couple of more on the way, soon.

Umbrella Sailing Woods Reservoir

Three Saturdays ago, my youngest nephew and I set out for Woods Reservoir with The Great Blue Heron atop Thursday, my longsuffering Volvo 850 sedan.  We drove out to the boat ramp near the hunter’s check-in station off Old Brick Church Road.  One other vehicle was parked nearby.  We unloaded the kayak, piled our stuff aboard, rigged the rudder, and set off.  We first explored down to the left of the boat-ramp, passing a duck-blind along the shore at our left.  We poked around a bit in the shallows, as far in to the overhanging branches as we could manage, then backed out again.  Paddling back out toward the brick pumping station near base housing, we turned right and explored down another branch, crossed to a courtesy dock intended for the use of DOD personnel where we pulled the boat ashore and sat on the dock to eat our lunch.  My mom, with whom my nephew had been staying, made us sandwiches and I can’t remember what else.  Because we didn’t want the sandwiches to turn, we ate our lunch around 10:00 am.  After lunch, we paddled into the shallows of that branch, too, then back toward the main body of the lake.  As we paddled out, the wind was at our back, so we deployed the golf umbrella and sailed a bit.  The wind was much stronger the further we went, and we sailed out to Little Elder Island, a rookery for every kind of local waterfowl.  Usually the island is covered with thick foliage, but it appeared this year’s drought conditions significantly diminished its growth.  We saw herons, egrets, duck-like birds.  The island didn’t stink as badly as it usually does, but we still probably risked acquiring histoplasmosis paddling as close to it as we did.  Paddling back to the put-in against that strong breeze required real effort.  We ate our generic fig-newton cookies and drank water in a sheltered inlet before paddling back to the boat ramp.  Here are some pictures:






Three Stepford Saturdays

I started writing this post a couple of days ago.

Today 5/27/11


This morning I got up early and mowed the one strip of lawn I wasn’t able to get last night before dark, the strip that runs the length of my driveway beside my next door neighbor’s house.  Then I raked the sticks on the patio and in the driveway that’ve been there since last week’s storm.  Put the sticks and debris at the curb by the mailbox, then got the leafblower and cleaned up everything else.  I mowed yesterday evening because my wife had found a tick on our son’s hand and I figured mowing the grass down from six to three-and-a-half inches would help disrupt arachnid and insect life-cycles.  I finished out there by about 8:30 pm and it was dark, then.  The John Deere 235E’s headlights are functional, and the mowing I’d done last night looked respectable in this morning’s sunlight.

The plan had originally been to spend the day paddling the RZ96 with my friend Daryl, but he hurt his back on the job last week.  Although it is pretty fast and unreal stable, the RZ96’s back”rests” are so so poorly designed that prolonged use would probably result in spondylolysis or similar disabling condition.  I recommended that Daryl take care of his back.

I’ve mentioned it so much on Facebook that I’ve forgotten I haven’t written anything about it here – starlings have infested the enclosed eaves/soffits above the window in the den where I sit as I write this.  I hate the damned birds, and I have done more than, by intensity of thought and speech consigned them to eternal torment.  I have destroyed the nest two or three times, hosed the nest out four or five times with a power-nozzle, liberally sprinkled their nest with moth crystals, times I’ve lost count of sprayed the nest with bird-repellant.  None of that has done more than to provoke angry shrieks.  Each time, the filthy winged histoplasmotic beasts have returned.  The day I had planned to give them minute-rice to eat, it rained.


Determined at last to kill the birds, I ordered a paintball gun with sniper rifle modifications:  18” rifled barrel; scope; offset scope mount; adjustable carbine-style stock; remote-line; Guerilla Air Myth 48/3000 HPA tank, and 500 .68 caliber clear mess-free paintballs (which are on backorder will not ship until maybe Tuesday 31 May); three-point tactical sling (how does it attach at the barrel?  Dunno), and largely decorative muzzle brake that does provide an attachment point for the sling.  Took the seller,, a while to get the order together (drop-shipped from a manufacturer or other source) because the "Flexi-Air” system I ordered was not available to fit the current iteration of the Tippmann 98 Custom Platinum (which is why I wound up getting the Guerrilla Air tank and remote line; CPBG has removed the package I ordered from its site), but the company’s owner, Dan, didn’t know that when I placed the order. 

When my order finally arrived, I was unable to get the local specialty gas/welding supply house to charge the Guerrilla Air tank because their fill apparatus does not connect to the tank’s 1/8” NPT Quik Connector fill nipple (we checked the Swagelok catalogue gas building’s office and their product wouldn’t work with the GA nipple).  Tech-support at wasn’t very helpful.  To the good, once I obtain the adapter, the welding supply company will be able to charge the tank with nitrogen at 3000 psi.  I’ve ordered an adapter from and I’ll let you know whether it works.All of these trifling small hassles, including the fact that my T98 shipped without a hopper, have been a real pain in the arse vis-à-vis my war with the starlings.  

As soon as I informed Dan at ChoicePaintballGuns he sent one out USPS Priority Mail.  The less expensive paintball hoppers are roughly kidney-shaped and look like those plastic bottles you have to urinate into if you’re bedridden in hospital.  The one delivered this afternoon has a lid that pops open when the marker (what the paintball cognoscenti call their guns) is fired, and pops open from the weight of the paintballs when the gun’s aimed at birds in the air.  The more expensive hoppers resemble bicycle helmets.  All of them mar any sort of “mil-sim” realism to the paintgun’s appearance.  I’d almost prefer a 15 round, inline tube sticking out the top right-side’s feed port for simplicity and target shooting.  Another type of feeder called the Q-Loader looks like an interesting solution, but expensive.

A final word about – really easy to deal with and extremely helpful.  A Better Business Bureau A+ rated company, and the guy answering the phone, who’s also the owner, even laughed at a couple of my jokes.

I remember many years ago (20? Has it been that long?) when I lived at San Pedro, California, across the street from a bar called The Spot, my neighbors, brothers whose names will not appear in this blog, and I used my plastic paintball pistol to snipe at cars driving by through their living-room’s slit window that faced the intersection at 22nd Street and Pacific Avenue.  The gun used one of those little CO2 cartridges of the sort used to power drinks spritzers and held 10 maraschino-cherry-like paintballs in a tube above the barrel.  We never got caught, although we had a couple of close calls with angry motorists who objected to the sensation of something striking their vehicles, as well as to the red smears left by broken paintballs.


Paintball guns appear to have evolved a great deal since the early 1990s, but a rifle scope remains a nonfunctional accessory.  My neighbor Jeff, ex USMC, rifle-team, combat veteran and generally smart, capable guy was happy to help me this morning with the chore of sighting-in the scope.  After an hour and a half, we were still much more accurate sighting down the barrel.  We tried the offset mounting option, then monkeyed with the sight mounted along the top-rail.  No joy.  Jeff said, “There doesn’t seem to be enough ‘up’ to this (scope)” in order to make the necessary vertical adjustment.  Shooting at the target, most of our shots hit way low and to the right.


It was clear to me that I probably should have ordered a red/green-dot sight instead of the rubber-armored rifle scope.  The Tippmann 98’s front sight is slightly spring-loaded, small blivit that does not have enough profile for the shooter to line it up with the rear sight.  Jeff and I both shot better sighting down the barrel than using the scope’s crosshairs.

My son came out to observe while Jeff and I (mostly Jeff) were working on the scope.  Later on he came out again while I was shooting at cans and wanted to load paintballs for me.  He also likes playing with the paintballs – tactile pleasure of little marble-like things.  He found the noise of the airgun unpleasant and complained by covering his ears with his hands.  Once or twice he wanted to pull the trigger, but almost immediately changed his mind.

We turned the velocity all the way up.  It’s not like I plan to do much with this gun besides potting at birds and plinking at cans and milk cartons in the backyard.  To that end, after Jeff figured he’d done all he could do to make the T98 serviceable and had gone to visit our other neighbors who were seated near their fishpond, I set up targets.  Two cans and a milk carton out of the house on sticks at the base of a tree like like the severed heads of ancestral enemies displayed made more interesting targets lower to the ground.  Birds make good targets when they’re on the ground, too, but none obliged me this morning.


Because I never was able to get Guerrilla Air tank filled, I bought a couple of cheap CO2 canisters at Wal-Mart and got them filled at Race Connection for six bucks total.  I wasn’t expecting to get many shots out of the tanks, but by the time I was done for the day, I’d fired about 200 shots with one bottle and it still had some left when I put it away.  The orange paint smears hosed off the shed and the tree.  According to the product literature on the box, the paintballs I used have something called Eco-Fill that does not stain clothing or structures and biodegrades easily.  Certainly, I was favorably impressed by the ease with which I was able to clean up the orange smears.

I didn’t kill or harass the starlings today.  One day during the week I found a few minutes to get the ladder out and get up to the nest thinking I would again destroy it or soak it down a harsh-smelling bird repellant, and then stuff some steel wool into the birds’ access gap, but when I got up there I saw about five hatchlings squeaking for worms or whatever it is their parents feed them.  I climbed back down, put the ladder and steel wool away without harming the birds or destroying their nest.  I am told that within six weeks they will take wing and not return to the nest, so I’ll clean it out and stop the hole then.

Last Saturday 5/21/11

Two or three weeks ago while I was out in the back yard playing with Seventy-Six we went over and said “Hello” to our neighbor Deanna, she is Jeff’s wife, and was just then looking after her two young granddaughters, one of whom is a little older and the other a little younger than my son.  He enjoyed playing with them, and Deanna asked me if I had any plans for Saturday morning 21 May.  No, not really, what’s happening then?  Deanna said she and her husband had a couple of tickets for the annual Kiwanis Club Prayer Breakfast at Stepford’s First Big Arminian Church, and would I like to have them.  Sure, I’d be happy to have them.


I invited my friend and congregation’s pastor to attend with me.  We don’t get to hang out much, and he’s a guy who’s much smarter than I am theologically (and maybe full-stop) and whose company I enjoy.  In my very limited experience with things culturally Christian, a prayer breakfast is usually a pancake festival with second helpings encouraged and an early morning, come as you are, more-manly-than-usual church activity.  I wore my favorite T-shirt, a pair of khaki cargo shorts, and those New Balance trail runners.  Upon arrival, I quickly discovered that I was underdressed for the occasion; Theodore, with a wider experience of North American Christian subcultural mores, was appropriately attired for the occasion.  A large number of men present wore suits.

Because I ‘d read again, and while the guy’s lack of insight or depth of character is glaring his comedic prose made me laugh out loud two or three times, the three chapters in Matt Taibbi’s The Great Derangement dealing with his infiltration of blowhard John Hagee’s Texas mega-“church”, I brought my copy along for Theodore’s amusement.  He, in turn, loaned me his copy of Kevin Roose’s The Unlikely Disciple.  Maybe more about Roose’s book another time.


I saw one of my neighbors, a local industrialist I like and respect (he’s not from around here), and a retired colleague I was pleased to see.  Theodore saw a couple of his former parishioners from his time a First Big Southern Church of Rural County Seat one county over.  The meal was a one-serving affair of eggs, ham or bacon (I opted for bacon and was given one slice so I asked for ham, instead, and didn’t have to give my bacon slice back), a side I don’t remember, orange-juice and coffee.

The 21st was also the date Harold Camping had scheduled for the return of Christ to take his people out of the world (or Rapture them) prior to the Great Tribulation.  And I wanted to see whether the Arminians had gotten worked up over this much publicized event.  At their most extreme, Arminians believe they are constantly in peril of losing their salvation and their holiness.  Their theological workaround is to narrowly define sin as “a willful transgression against a known law of God.”  Sort of like the common law definition of burglary is, if memory serves, "a trespassory breaking and entering into a dwelling in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony therein.”  All the elements must be present for the act or omission to act to meet the definition of sin.  Anything less falls under the category of “mistake.”  I can think of no better reason for the average Arminian to avoid Bible reading, because that’s probably a good way to get know the laws of God, in addition to a bunch of other God-related information.  A lot of “end-times” misinformation can be found in garage-sale discards penned by Hal Lindsey, a Joe Stalin lookalike who popularized the Dispensationalist idea of pre-millennial eschaton (have I spelled that correctly?).

The occasion, it turns out, was an Armed Forces Day prayer breakfast. A presentation was made to the chapter’s chosen Layperson of The Year – a retired banker with whom I am slightly acquainted. A young woman of angelic voice played piano and sang three songs, one of which I recall that my wife’s sister sang at our wedding.  The event’s main speaker was a Nashville TV news weatherman (I don’t think he’s actually a meteorologist).  His talk was a biographical tale of determination and somewhat generic faith that referred to values all in a way that could have been well received by Moslems, Zoroastrians, Mooney’s, Christians, Jews, and perhaps even Taoists.  The weatherman did make a little joke about Harold Camping’s prediction, and none of those present looked at all worried about Camping’s forecast.

At the time I found myself thinking about the practice of civil religion in America and how my life rarely intersects with it.  Also thinking about the “church”-system as what passes for church in North America and about how much money it takes to keep it all going – not just the dyed-in-the-wool thieving televangelists, but also the widely accepted as legitimate mainstream or niche-market/boutique Evangelical church-building set.

Overall, I had a pleasant experience at the prayer breakfast, but I’m glad I was there with a friend who was able to assure me that no, it wasn’t all in my head.  Winsome people doing good things in a pleasant environment as they have been doing for a couple of generations.  But I don’t think it can last and I’m a little sad about that.

The Saturday Before That 5/14/11

I’m not scared of black cats, dates and days, ladders, shadows, or similar frightful things, so I wasn’t afraid to drive like the hammers of mythical Hades toward home over a slightly winding highway at the end of my working day week.  I wasn’t afraid when the car didn’t handle the curves as well as it did just the day before, and thought, “Probably needs shocks.  I’d like to get some heavier sway bars, maybe a strut-tower brace.”  Back at the house, the front right tire looked a little low and I thought it was time I checked the air pressure in all four.  But I went into the house, ate dinner, and forgot about it.

In the morning when I went out to pick up sticks from the yard before mowing, I saw the tire was close to flat and filled it.  Then I drove to the Pot County seat where I knew I’d find a tire store open Saturday.  I had to wait a couple of hours before the service guys repaired the leak.  Instead of sitting around in the waiting room, I walked across the parking lot to look at the Little Waterfowl River that runs beside the store.  No good way to get down the steep muddy hill for a closer look, I walked along the highway in front of the store, past a shack/trailer-like red painted barbecue stand (closed at that hour), and walked up the road to the right thinking maybe I’d find easier access to the river.  I didn’t, but I kept walking along the road as it curved uphill into fairly nice-seeming neighborhood I’d never seen before and would’ve never guessed was there. 

Where the road curved back down the hill to the highway again, I met a man and a woman walking.  The man wore a complicated brace arrangement that involved chest, one arm, and his head.  I said Good Morning to them and they greeted me.  A little farther along and houses looked smaller and less impressively built and well maintained.  I saw a woman sweeping a front porch, little more than a stoop.  Four or five mostly black puppies ran toward me barking, wagging tails, looking happy.  The woman called to them and they went to her.  She apologized for them and I told her it wasn’t necessary.

Back at the tire store, I did finally have a cup of their bad coffee, looked at a couple of issues of Field & Stream, and watched the final fifteen minutes of a John Wayne movie – a Western filmed toward the end of his career, I don’t remember what it’s called.  When tire was patched I paid for the repair and drove home.

Another Pleasant Stepford Saturday

I’ve said it before, here or elsewhere, for someone like me the great adventure is living the ordinary life in an ordinary way.

Yep, I’m adjusting all too easily to life in this established neighborhood not too far from the country club.  This morning I slept late.  Ate buttermilk pancakes made with wheat flour for breakfast.  Drove to the store and bought PVC adhesive, bug spray, ant traps (for the mower-shed), 2-cycle oil for the leaf-blower and line-trimmer fuel, a small yellow bucket and a small yellow sponge for Seventy-Six to help out with car-washing.  I drove to the gas station and bought gas for the mower and other equipment, then home where to pick up sticks, run the line-trimmer, mow the lawn, and clean up after an early lunch (sandwich) with Caution-Lady and Seventy-Six who’d returned from the store.

Seventy-Six has been potty-training this past week with mixed results.  He has not been enjoying the experience.

This bloom looks like it has been open a while

This bloom looked to me like a crown

The magnolia tree out front has two blooms; I photographed them.  While mowing the front lawn, Caution-Lady brought Seventy-Six outside, and I gave him a mower-ride around the house, then she let him play with his new pedal scooter.  Did I mention that a couple of weeks ago Caution-Lady backed over the little push-bike toy he got for Christmas?  He was getting to big for it, but he really liked that toy.  She thought at first it was my fault (and telephoned to scold me about it as I drove to work in Murfreesboro) but later realized she was the one who’d put the toy away last.  The new toy is a real hit, too, and Seventy-Six is big enough to work the pedals.

I finished the back yard and cleaned up while Seventy-Six napped, then washed Whitecar, the cautious one’s ’93 940T.  We’ve had the car for eight years.  I’m guessing it’s been at least one year since I washed that car by hand, although we’ve run it through automated car-washes a couple of times.  Since the car stays in the garage when not being driven, it doesn’t get too dirty.  But it was freaking filthy when we got it back from the mechanic’s shop where it’d been parked outside under trees for a couple of nights last week when there for service.  We’re planning to sell the car pretty soon, as soon as we locate a reasonably priced and mechanically sound XC70 with which to replace it.

I did something I’ve never done before.  I washed the garden tractor like I would a car.  I sliced the fire out of one of my fingers as I was using a sponge to scrub the frame under the hood.  The blood, which quickly overflowed a tight band-aid, I thought might take a stitch or two to stop would have stained the dirty wash sponge if I hadn’t rinsed it out.  After I finished washing and dried the mower, some tightly taped gauze finally got the bleeding stopped.

Shade-tree hull repair

Masking tape makes even the most inexpert repairs look workmanlike while in progress

Another snack, and by that time Seventy-Six had awakened from his nap.  I took him outside and he played with his new scooter, and I repaired the RZ96 hull using genuine German parts.  Hope the hull stays patched. LATER: Here’s an excellent thread on the subject of gluing to repair PVC hulls.  Wish I’d seen it first, but I should have had the sense to do a simple Internet search for: gluing pvc hull.

I showed the little boy his new bucket and sponge and predictably, although I was surprised, he insisted on using them on something to “clean-up Now.”  I asked him whether he wanted to wash his own car, and put about a quart of water in the bucket.  I let him sponge some water on Thursday, too.  Maybe I’ll get that one washed tomorrow.

Later, we watered the plants together using city water, but when the little monkey chose to rebel against my command to desist from jumping in one particularly muddy puddle near the front steps, I took him in to the house and gave him back to his mother for awhile.  She gave him a couple of crackers and a cup of water.

Duck River Above Henry Horton State Park


On Friday 4 June I finished up a bunch of deadline stuff and drove home about 11:40 pm, conked out by 12:15 am Saturday morning.  Saturday slept late, then got up, ran the line-trimmer, mowed, cleaned up. 

Seventy-Six and I spent a lot of time wrestling, playing with toys, playing outside.  Then we assembled the RZ96 so it would be ready to take to Henry Horton State Park on Sunday for a picnic send-off for a young cousin joining the USMC.  After several breaks during which we ran around the yard, threw basketballs at a small goal, played with trucks, chased each other around trees in the yard, and rang the front door-bell to see if Caution-Lady would come to the window and say “Hello,” we completed the assembly and I let Seventy-Six play in the boat.  I assembled and packed the necessary gear for a day on the water and packed it in Thursday’s trunk (I’ve found it is impossible to get the car’s trunk open enough to load anything with a boat on the roof-racks).

Back at the house after worship service Sunday, I got the >100# behemoth up on to the car’s roof using a simple method suggested by Ralph Hoehn.  I opened the front passenger door, rested the bow thereon, then lifted the stern and using simple leverage lifted it and set it across the rear rack.  Then I moved the bow on to the front rack, straightened the boat and secured it.  No need for complicated systems of rollers and pulley’s. 

The car’s handling does not seem much affected by carrying a boat on its racks.  I always transport the assembled RZ96 hull-up because the frame seems stoutest at the coaming, and the ends sag downward if the boat’s on the racks hull-down.  Also keeps rain out of the boat, and it rained a lot Sunday afternoon before we were able to launch at the state park.

After visiting, trying to keep Seventy-Six from getting too filthy jumping in puddles or too soaked playing in the intermittent downpours,  a lunch of hot-dogs, hamburger’s, side-dishes, and dessert, it was time to launch.  The banks of the Duck River are steep at Henry Horton State Park, certainly too steep to carry down to the water from our picnic site by the Highway 31-A bridge. 

The gravel, asphalt, and mud track that provides river access to folks with trailered boats didn’t look like it had a turnaround at the bottom, so I backed the car up to the road again and parked in the grass at the top.  My cousin and I got the boat off the racks, I got pfds, paddles, water shoes, and so forth, out of the trunk.  Shoes changed, we carried the boat down to the water accompanied by my young cousin’s girlfriend, and another cousin.

After brief discussion, we decided to paddle upstream and return with the current, as opposed to paddling downstream to the point nearest our picnic area by the bridge.  That was probably a mistake, because the current was not terribly swift, and we found we had no trouble paddling upstream against it from the put-in.

 Just-Upstream-the-Put-In Duck-River-BluffsRZ96-BowWild-RootsOther-PaddlersMore-Duck-River-Bluffs

While on the water, we saw a number of other paddlers, some, like those pictured above, traveled with children and towed water toys behind them for occasional stops to allow the kids to play in the water.  Most appeared to be paddling rental boats – red, green, yellow canoes and sit-on-top kayaks.  We passed a disused yellow rope-swing overhanging the water on our right.  On our left, further upstream, we observed some jumping into the river from a rock face about 20 feet up.  We came to a shallow rapids and had to get out of the boat to pull and carry it over the shallow rocky bottom.  I think it may have been there that we unknowingly brought the hull in to contact with some object incompatible to its continued integrity.  At the time, however, we noticed nothing amiss.  After the rapids, we got back in and continued to paddle.  We saw floating downstream what appeared to be a family group on inflatable pool lounges rafted-up to an approximately 12 foot flat-bottomed aluminum river punt.

After reaching a point where it seemed like we’d been away from the picnic long enough, we turned around and headed back to the put in.  We noticed a lot of water in the bilge, and I remember saying I didn’t think paddle splash or the water we’d brought in to the boat in our shoes when we got back in after walking the boat upstream the rapids would account for its volume.  At the put in, we discovered the means by which the water entered the boat.

The surprising thing is that I’ve paddled this boat over shallow rocky bottoms, struck submerged rocks and stumps with it, dragged it over dead tree limbs blocking passage, etc., with never a problems.

Following are a few dramatic photographs for shock value.  I’m going to try to repair the tear this week while the hullskin is already conveniently stretched upon the boat’s frame.     




A note about names:  I tend not to use real names of family members and friends online – it’s bad Internet hygiene.

Pionier 450S – First Report

Today, several long months after purchasing my 1962 Pionier 450S, I paddled it for the first time.

The interesting spraydeck did not remain attached to the coaming on the right front of the cockpit.  The clips kept coming loose.  I eventually removed it.  The after portion of the spraydeck remained in place without any problems, and I left it on.

I did not use the rudder today.  This boat doesn’t track nearly as well as my Pouch E68, but then, what does?  I used the kayak’s inflatable seat cushion, but while using it, never felt securely in place.  When I stopped to stretch, I removed the cushion and stowed the front part of the spraydeck behind the seat.

The kayak’s primitive-looking wooden seatback, affixed to a sort of thwart upon which it swivels, provides comfortable back support, totally unlike the seatbacks crafted for the more modern Pouch E68 and RZ96.  With the inflatable cushion off the apparently ergonomically curved wooden seat-bottom, I found paddling much more comfortable and felt more securely, um, in touch with the kayak.

The cockpit’s traditional gothic-arch shape allows the paddler to lock knees under the deck outboard the coaming.  My E68 feels “loose” around my waist without the inflatable hip-pads on the Nautiraid Greenlander seat I use in that boat.  The 450S does not feel like it needs a hip-fit modification.  Another cool thing about the gothic-arch cockpit is that it minimizes, along with paddle drip rings, the volume of paddle drip falling into the boat.  I used a Euro paddle today, for no good reason I can think of, but was glad of the paddle’s drip rings when I removed problematic forward section of the spraydeck.  Although I didn’t paddle for more than two or three hours today, my butt, legs, and lower back did not and were not numb after a fair amount of time on the uncushioned seat.

The Pionier 450S is not as fast as my Pouch E68.  It has some rocker (the E68 has none), and is about a foot and half shorter.  It took me longer to paddle a short distance, which may be accounted for, in part, by the fact that I have not paddled in several months – probably not since July of last year.

Paddling did not seem to unduly stress the shoulder that’d required surgery in August of last year.  As I write this, my surgery-side trapezius is painful – but I can probably correct that with better posture and exercise.  Of late, I have not religiously adhered to the regimin of post-surgery corrective exercises prescribed by my physical therapist.

For about the first 30 to 45 minutes, none of my body’s right-side movements seemed to coordinate with those of my left-side.  I had a strong sense of lopsidedness.  Eventually I seemed to get a rhythm and my muscle-amnesia lifted a bit.

Some of the Normandy Lake pictures I took today follow:

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.