Category Archives: Personal experience

On a wedding in Hadley…

rehearsalwalk

“Day before” wedding rehearsal.  (I’m sure there’s no “body-language hidden meaning…”)

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Two weeks ago I got back from three weeks in Israel.  Then right away I had to make a dramatic transition:  From free-wheeling world traveler to “weird uncle of the bride.”

Town Hall and First Congregational ChurchWhich is being interpreted:  After my adventures in Tel Aviv – getting lost hiking to the train station, taking the wrong train (away from the airport) and going 26 hours without sleep – I had to begin preparing for an 1,100 mile road trip up to Hadley, Massachusetts.

There my “favorite niece from Utah” was getting married.

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My latest adventure started after church on Sunday, June 16.  By the time I got out of church and gassed up, it was noon in PTC.  That afternoon I got as far as Knoxville TN.  I wanted to make it to Dandridge, but had a bit of a mixup trying to online-register for a Super 8 there.  (After pulling over during one of several traffic tie-ups on I-75, northwest of Atlanta…  Among other things, to check alternate routes via more scenic but slower back roads.)

To  make a long story short – and after yet another traffic slowdown coming into Chattanooga – I took a fallback position:  I picked up a delightfully-retro Travel Coupon booklet at a convenience store.  (Another bladder break and coffee.)   Then I “proceeded on,” taking more back roads around the south part of the city.  (The good news:  Now I know where the Social Security and county farm offices are in south Chattanooga, should the need ever arise…)

Lonnie Donegan.jpgNext day – Monday, June 17 – I made the Motel 6 in south Harrisonburg VA.  I had considered taking my time and getting to Hadley around noon on Wednesday, but by that Monday night I’d had my fill of motels.

So next morning I got up at 5:00 a.m. and left Harrisonburg in the dark.  I made the West Virginia line by 7:02, the Maryland line by 7:24 and Pennsylvania by 7:34.  Then – at the exit leading to Cumberland Gap Park – the “radio*” started playing “Cumberland Gap,” by the 1950’s Skiffle singer Lonnie Donegan(Best known for his hit single, “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (On the Bedpost Overnight?”)  I figured it was sign from God…  (That “all is well.”)

From there the going was pretty good – until I got through Chambersburg PA.  There was a bad accident on I-81 north of Lebanon and yet another traffic tie-up.  Then a sign beside the interstate noted another lane closure at Mile Marker 117.  So I took more backroads to “bypass resistance;” state roads 443 and 61, over to Pottsville and back up to Interstate 81.  (Well past Mile Marker 117.)  I passed through some cute little Pennsylvania towns and stopped for gas – and another bladder break – in Schuylkill Haven.  There I also got a ready-made chicken salad sandwich on a kaiser roll.  Despite being made at a gas station, it was pretty dang good!

319bridgeI ended up making it to the rental house in Northampton MA – across the Connecticut River from Hadley – by 6:00 PM.  (At right.  As you can see, it was cloudy, overcast and subject to passing bands of rain, as it had been for most of the drive up.) 

To review that part of the trip on the way up:  It took me 54 hours to make about 1,100 miles.  Interstate 81 was – as usual – a pain, with clusters of tractor-trailers trying to pass each other like slow-moving turtles that blocked both lanes so well.

On the other hand, Interstate 88 east from Binghamton NY was much better.  It passed through beautiful rolling hills, and farmland – and not much traffic.  And the New York Thruway (I-90, around Albany and south over to Massachusetts) was a very pleasant surprise.

The Tuesday night I arrived, my brother and sister-in-law were over at “the Kelly’s” – the future in-laws – doing their early part of getting ready for the wedding.  So I puttered around the rental house, finding the washer and dryer – much needed – along with how to get my stair-stepping equipment easily into the basement.  Not to mention a place to store my kayak.

On that note, the early part of Wednesday (6/19) I spent two hours and 24 minutes kayaking on the Connecticut River.  (Which runs between Northampton and Hadley.)  I put in near Elwell State Park, which has a footbridge from the Northampton bank to an island in the middle of the river, then onto the Hadley side.  For that bout of kayaking there was SOME sun, but not much.

Later that Wednesday we all had dinner with the future in-laws.

tentOn Thursday we got down to work.  The main wedding party started working on “favors.”  I helped most by staying out of the way.  (As in “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.”)  And by reading a first (1908) edition of Kipling’s “The Light That Failed.”

I made up for it on Friday by helping set up a tent-full of tables and chairs.  (As shown above left, completed.)  Then the wedding rehearsal finally started.  (A good bit after the scheduled 6:00 p.m. start time, but the happy couple was “not hung up on that deadline thing!”)  That’s when I took the photo of the father of the bride and bride-to-be, heading down the “aisle,” as shown at the top of the page.

Then came the final preparations the morning and early-afternoon of the wedding day, June 22.  Then came the count-down:  4:52 p.m. “It shan’t be long now!”  Then the Officiant getting some last-minute instructions, as shown by a photo in the notes below.

And finally – at or about 5:43 p.m. – it became official.  They were married!

And then – It was TIME TO DANCE!

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dancepic

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I took the upper-photo image on June 21, 2019.

The Wikipedia caption for the Hadley MA image is “Town Hall and First Congregational Church.”

Re:  “The radio.”  I do have a radio in my car but mostly listen to Sirius Satellite Radio.

Re:  Lonnie Donegan, and his “Skiffle” style.  Wikipedia:  “With a washboardtea-chest bass and a cheap Spanish guitar, Donegan played folk and blues songs by artists such as Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie.  This proved popular,” beginning in 1954.  Later Donegan “went on to successes such as “Cumberland Gap” – later to be the sign from God, as noted – and “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (On the Bedpost Overnight?), his biggest hit in the U.S…  He continued in the UK charts until 1962, before succumbing [sic] to The Beatles and beat music.” lastminuteinstructions

Re:  “Final preparations.”  They included the Wedding Officiant – to the right, with beard – getting last-minute instructions.

An early kayaking adventure (blub, blub, blub)…

Cartoon depicting a man standing with a woman, who is hiding her head on his shoulder, on the deck of a ship awash with water. A beam of light is shown coming down from heaven to illuminate the couple. Behind them is an empty davit.

A bit of hyperbole – regarding my long-ago first-kayak voyage that left me all wet…”

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There I was, in the middle of one of the local lakes around here, on a fine sunny summer afternoon.  I was happily paddling away in my spandy-new kayak, when suddenly…

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There’s more on that early adventure later, but first a note.

It’s now Lent, 2019, and so a time to prepare for Easter.  That can include “prayer, doing penancerepentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial.”  And for many people, that means giving up something.  On the other hand, some people choose to add a discipline “that would add to my spiritual life.”  (See Lenten disciplines: spiritual exercises or ego trip?)

Last year for Lent I gave up yelling “Hang the sonofabitch!” at every mention of Donald Trump.  This year I’ll be doing the same thing; for one thing, it ended up netting the Easter-day United Thank Offering a little over $25 in penalties.  (At 25 cents a violation.)  But this year I felt the need to add something else.  To “add a discipline,” etc.

So for this Lent I’ll be trying mightily to add – i.e., to prepare – a reasoned, careful, logical treatise on precisely why I think Donald Trump’s presidency is a constitutional crisis on par with Watergate, though not yet on par with the Civil War.  (Not yet.)  But beyond that, for my Lenten discipline I will try mightily to understand why some Americans still support him, without my saying, “What are you, a bunch of dumbasses?”

That’s going to be the hard part…

So hard in fact that it’s going to take so much time I won’t be able to do a new post in a reasonable time after the last one.  (From March 5, Didn’t we try this “Wall” thing before?)

So for the time being, I offer up this in-betweener.  It’s about an early adventure I had back a few years ago.  (2013 or so.)   In turn, it will be related to the new book I’ll be doing, tentatively titled “My adventures in old age.”   (See for example, On Brinkley, Clooney, and aging gracefully, which spoke in part of Seeing Old Age as a Never-Ending Adventure.)  That post in turn cited an online article, 11 Smart Things About Getting Older, and an early post I pity the fool.  (Where I said, “I pity the fool who doesn’t … push the envelope, even at the advance stage of his life.”)

November 10, 2014 photo IMG_4332_zps47e076b9.jpgSo, back to my early-on kayaking adventure…  Here’s what happened.  I was on the way back from Biloxi and a canoe trip on Lake Pontchartrain (Which led the following year to On canoeing 12 miles offshore, and the “siesta-at-sea” image at left.)  So on the way back – in 2013 – I stopped at an Academy sporting goods store and found a reasonably-priced eight-foot kayak for a mere $149.  That in turn led to me adding kayaking to my weekly exercise routine.

I did two early “voyages” without mishap, and figured I had this kayaking stuff down pat.  (Except for the part about getting in and out, gracefully or otherwise.)  On my third kayaking venture, while trying to “mount” the kayak at the Lake Kedron boat ramp, the thing tipped over a bit too far.  As a result, what seemed like a small quantity of water got into the kayak.

I didn’t want to go through the trouble of looking ridiculous or clumsy – getting out of the kayak and then back in – so I figured, “No problem, I’ll just put up with the water sloshing around the ‘bilges‘ until I finish up, in an hour or so.”  So I paddled down to the other end of the lake and was heading back home, after 45 minutes or so.  Just then I noticed what seemed to be a bit more water than I remembered sloshing around the seat.

I kept on paddling along, but my thoughts then turned to the water that had been left over after my prior canoe voyages – for example, “Naked lady on the Yukon,” which came a bit later – and how I’d been able to get that water out.  Then, while still paddling, I glanced back – a bit – and noticed that the back end of the kayak seemed to be much lower than the front.

That’s when I discovered a big difference between a kayak and a canoe.  I couldn’t get a really good view because a kayak is kind of awkward to move around in, and in fact is quite “sensitive.”  (Not to say “tippy.”)  So I couldn’t do a good check on the back-end of the kayak, which in turn – eventually – led to this thought:  “You know, I’ll bet there’s a drain plug somewhere on this craft.  I wonder where it is?  I’ll have to check the manual when I get back.”

"Untergang der Titanic", a painting showing a big ship sinking with survivors in the water and boatsThen, paddling around a bend in the lake, I noticed that the ol’ kayak was really getting sluggish and hard to maneuver.  So – discretion being the better part of valor – I reluctantly started heading to the mucky, muddy shoreline, figuring I’d better stop and get this stupid water out.  But it was too late.  I hadn’t made much progress toward the shore when – in a kind of reverse-Titanic denouement – the aft-end started sinking faster than I could paddle, and I found myself and my trusty craft sinking into Lake Kedron.

In seconds I found myself out the back of the boat, which by now had filled with water.  I tried to hold on to the two-ended paddle, and push the stupid thing to shore.  (Thinking all the while, “What?  This thing will never sink.  It’s supposed to be freakin’ unsinkable!!!”)  I also tried to find the cheap deck-shoes I’ had on, the shoes I had bought just last week, somewhere still inside the boat.  (Knowing from past experience what it’s like to come ashore in muck and mire, in bare feet.)

I found the shoes but then had to try and get them on my feet, while holding onto the paddle and kayak, and trying to push it ashore.  Aside from all that, I had a set of weights on my wrists, because I wanted to get more bang for my exercise buck, as it were.  (See resistance training.)  Plus I was checking for my car keys, in the upper left shirt pocket.  (Where I figured they’d never get wet.)  And that’s not to mention the Ipod Shuffle that I’d also stuck in the upper right shirt pocket, for use in case I got bored paddling and needed some music.  (Again, figuring that in my shirt pocket it’d never get wet.)

To make a long story short, I finally made it to the mucky, mirey shore, and not-gracefully-at-all managed to heave the thing up far enough on shore to get what seemed like tons of water out.  And that’s when I noticed – there, at the very back of the kayak – the drain plug that only moments before I’d been wondering about.  Somehow, the plug had worked itself out, and gradually, over the course of an hour or so, the little bit of water from my “opening mount” had shifted to the rear, thus enabling even more water to come in with each stroke.

So there, on the mucky short of Lake Kedron, right down the hill from some fancy-schmancy house – whose residents are likely even now yucking it up over the schmuck in the kayak that sunk that afternoon – I learned: 1) that there is a drain plug in my kayak, and 2) where it’s located, and 3) how to plug it back in (albeit after-the-fact).

So anyway, after the fact i did a little write-up – which formed the basis of this post – and sent it out in a number of emails, to family and friends.  Most people got a kick out of it, but my older (local) brother – not the out-of-state one I do all my latest adventure with – wrote back, “I don’t think I’da told that story!”  To which I can only respond:  “Hey, I’m secure in my masculinity!”

Besides, there’s always this little bit of wisdom from “Robert Matthew Van Winkle:”

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The upper image is courtesy of Sinking of the RMS Titanic – Wikipedia.

Re:  The idiom “all wet.”  See Etymology – Origin of … ‘all wet’ – English StackExchange.  In the sense used in the lead caption, “entirely mistaken,” misguided, or wrong.  The site dates the idiom back to 1909, and notes that by 1924 it was common “that humorists could use it as a punchline:”

Modern American slang is an institution that certainly merits as much approval as condemnation.  It is so tersely expressive.  But sometimes its application doesn’t fit.  “You’re all wet,” says the youth of today [in 1924] when he wishes to convey the idea that in his mind, your opinion or action or attitude in the matter under discussion is wrong.

Drawing of sinking in four steps from eye witness descriptionRe:  “Reverse-Titanic denouement.”  As shown in the main-text illustration, the Titanic went down bow-first, while my kayak on Lake Kedron went down “stern first.”  The main-text painting’s caption:  “‘Untergang der Titanic,’ as conceived by Willy Stöwer, 1912.”  See also “The sinking, based on Jack Thayer‘s description. Sketched by L.P. Skidmore on board Carpathia.”  (Shown at left.) 

The “overturned kayak” image is courtesy of Overturned Kayak – Image Results.  To which I originally added this sentiment:  “Okay, my ‘early adventure’ wasn’t quite this bad – but it was humiliating!”  And the photo-image is accompanied by an article, “How to recover a capsized kayak to the upright position?”  Some good advice:  D on’t leave too much water in the bilges.

Re:  “Secure in my masculinity.”  See also Secure in your masculinity – Asexual Musings and Rantings, for some interesting observations.

The lower image is courtesy of Learn From My Mistakes – Image Results.  Those “Results” includes the quote from Vanilla Ice, a.k.a. “Mr. Winkle.”  He is the “American rapper, actor, and television host,” born in South Dallas, raised in Texas and South Florida, “known professionally as ‘Vanilla Ice.'”  Born in 1967, his initial success faded by 1994, when he “began using ecstasycocaine and heroin.  During periods of heavy drug use, Ice received many tattoos from artist acquaintances.  According to Ice, he ‘was in [his] binge days.  [He] didn’t even realize how many [he] was getting.’  Ice attempted suicide with a heroin overdose on July 4, 1994 but was revived by his friends.   After being revived, Ice decided that it was time to change his lifestyle.”  So he knows whereof he speaks, in terms of mistakes.

On Brinkley, Clooney, and aging gracefully…

Christie Brinkley was photographed by Emmanuelle Hauguel in Turks & Caicos. Swimsuit by Monica Hansen Beachwear.

Now that’s my kind of “When I’m Sixty-Four” aging gracefully…  (“‘Christie B.’ – at 63…”)

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In this post I review some earlier posts on gracefully ageing – or aging:  RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30 (Part I and Part II), and A Geezer’s guide to supplements (Part I and Part II, featuring “Arnold,” at right) 

In RABBIT – Part I – from June 2015 – I reviewed Rabbit Remembered.  That was the 2001 novella, last of a series of novel-sequels to Rabbit, Run.  (The 1960 work by John Updike.  The sequels included Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest.)  But RABBIT – Part II is where things got interesting, at least in terms of aging gracefully.  (I turn 68 next July.)

It started with a “personal tidbit” from the 1971 sequel, Rabbit Redux.  Set in the summer of 1969 (the same summer as the Apollo 11 moon landing), the novel told of a time “when father and son are settling the bar bill.  Earl Angstrom had a Schlitz beer, and tells his son [Harry, the protagonist], ‘Here’s my forty cents.  Plus a dime for a tip.’”

RabbitReduxbookcover.jpgWhich led me to write:  “Are you kidding me…  Do you mean there once was a time when you could go into a bar, pay 40 cents for a beer and leave a dime for the tip?  And not get thrown out or insulted?”  (The answer:  “Yes, there was…”)

But the really interesting part was about how 65-year-olds were portrayed in 1969.  For example, Updike wrote of Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom’s father looking old once outside the bar; “liverish scoops below his eyes, broken veins along the sides of his nose.”  Harry then asks Earl about his money situation, and Earl responds, “Believe it or not there’s some advantages to living so long in this day and age.  This Sunday she’s going to be sixty-five and come under Medicare.”

Next Sunday Harry visits Mary (his mother) for her birthday and she greets him:

I’m sixty-five,” she says, groping for phrases, so that her sentences end in the middle.  “When I was twenty.  I told my boyfriend I wanted to be shot.  When I was thirty…”  [Harry:]  “You told Pop this?”  “Not your dad.  Another.  I didn’t meet your dad til later.  This other one, I’m glad.  He’s not here to see me now.”

The point is that even though Mary has Parkinson’s, Updike’s overall image of 65-year-olds in 1969 is of people who really are over the hill.  (“Living so long in this day and age?”  Really?)

Now compare that with Christie Brinkley, shown in the lead picture above in 2017, at age 63.

On that note see “60 is the new 30,” and also “Why 60 Is The New 30.”  The latter post noted the “55-64 age group has shown the largest increase in entrepreneurial ventures, now accounting for more than 20 percent of all start-ups.”  (Thus literally “starting over when our grandparents would be strolling around golf communities in Florida.”)

Or see Is 60 the New 40?  That article noted that what elderly “meant to the Greatest Generation doesn’t hold for their offspring, the baby boomers.”  Then there’s 60, Not 50, Is The New Middle Age – Huffington Post, and New research shows 60 is the new 40 – KING5:

Increasingly, people over 60 feel more like 40, and now they have the science to back them up…   The new research argues that since life expectancy continues to rise, age 60 should not be considered old.  It’s more “middle age,” because for many, there’s a lot of living left to do after age 60, even embarking on second or third careers.

Which brings us back to my Geezer’s guide(s) to supplements, Part I and Part II.  In those posts I noted that I “don’t want a Schwarzenegger body.  At age 67 [soon to be 68], I just want to stick around a while yet.”  (And “maybe run into a cute ‘young'” 60-some-year-old, like Christie B….)

So, to that end the “Geezer” posts  listed 10 good supplements from Menshealth, along with the question “Why do I bother with all these supplements?  Simply put, I want to live long enough” – among other things and if only metaphorically – “to dance on my enemy’s grave.”  (Illustrated at right.)

And that brings up two relatively new online articles, 11 Of The Smartest Things Anyone Ever Said About Getting Older, and 9 Things People Aging Gracefully Do Differently | HuffPost:

There’s nothing less attractive than someone desperately clinging to the last remnants of their youth.  We think it’s far sexier to be comfortable in your own skin.

That last thought was a “leaf” from George Clooney, along with the main thing people aging gracefully do:  “work out to get strong, not skinny.”  (Not to get a “Schwarzenegger body.”)

Other thoughts:  They stress less and forgive more, they learn something new every day, they stay positive, they get enough sleep – which for me includes daily naps “as needed” – and they eat and drink better.  (They “learn what changes we need to take with our diets as we age.”  Like Geezer supplements, and kale and/or spinach salads at night, not processed food snacks.)  

So here’s to Seeing Old Age as a Never-Ending Adventure (From the New York Times – that “enemy of the people” – on a thought that will be the subject of at least one future post.)

As far as those 11 Smart Things About Getting Older, here’s my favorite.  (Or as I said in I pity the fool, “I pity the fool who doesn’t … push the envelope, even at the advance stage of his life.”)

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henry david thoreau

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The upper image is courtesy of Christie Brinkley Photos, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017.  And about that When I’m Sixty-Four.  (Referring to the 1967 Beatles song released on their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.)  Born in 1954, Christie is now – in 2019 – 65 years old, while she was 63 at the time of the 2017 Sports illustrated photo shoot.  So for this post I just split the difference.

Re:  How to properly spell “ageing.”  See Ageing vs. aging – Correct Spelling – Grammarist“American and Canadian writers use agingAgeing is the preferred spelling outside North America.”  

I borrowed the “dancing on enemy grave” image from Geezer’s Guide – Part II.  As to which enemy whose grave I “enthusiastically” look forward to dancing on, Part II said “Let the reader understand!”  (Citing Mark 13:14: “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”)

Re:  “Push the envelope.”  That also came near the end of Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

Last year the Meseta, next year “Porto…”

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature

My brother exploring some “ruinas” on the Camino de Santiago, this time last year (10/4)…

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Image may contain: bridge, tree, outdoor, water and natureThis time last year – October 4, 2017 – my Utah brother and I were hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  Specifically, this day we managed to hike into León, for our second one-day break after 20 days of hiking.

We got to the PENSION BLANCA B&B fairly early in the afternoon, and could then start relaxing.  Or at least easing our aching feet…

The good news was that once we reached León, we had to switch from hiking to bicycling.  (We were running out of time.)  The bad news?  That change just led to “a different kind of hell.”  (From Dorothy Parker’s famous quote, “What fresh hell is this?”  In our case, it only meant a change in where we got sore…)

Just the day before – October 3 – we hiked from Reliegos to Puente Villarente – shown above right – some 7.5 miles shy of León.  (See also the blurb on the hike from El Burgos Raneros to Mansilla de las Mulas.)  I know because I wrote in my journal, “We hiked 7.5 miles today.”  So again, we got to the PENSION BLANCA in León early in the afternoon, and started relaxing.

The other good news was that we were finally done with the Meseta part of the hike.  Which brings up the picture at the top of the page.  The caption:  “Tom heading back to the Camino.  Which gives an idea of the landscape we’ve been hiking through.”  That hiking-through was on the Meseta Central plateau part of Spain – and it’s dry, dusty and hot.  In fact, it’s the part that some people recommend Camino pilgrims skip.  (If they want to be all “wussified.”)

So the Meseta part of the hike presented its own “fresh hell,” its own set of fresh challenges.  But hey, that’s what a real pilgrimage is all about.   A “journey or search of moral or spiritual significance,” as shown at left.  Or in other words, “Finding yourself.”

Anyway, by October 4th we’d already hiked from Pamplona for 20 days, and ended up in León.  We’d hiked 250 miles.  And aside from taking a day off in León, we got our rented 15-speed mountain bikes.  With them we covered the remaining 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela in seven days.  Even though neither of us had ridden a bike in 40 or so years…

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Before leaving for Spain – and the 450-mile hike-and-bike – I wrote about this pilgrimage-adventure in Training for the Camino and Going back “whence we came.”  (We started hiking from Pamplona on September 13 and got to Santiago October 12, 2017.)  Once I got back I did “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited and “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts (The latter because my brother thought “Camino – Revisited” was too negative.)   From the latter post I said this:

This is also a good time to mention that dinners on the Camino were universally delicious.  Most of the albergues featured a three-course special, including a salad, main course and choice of desserts.  Which may explain why – even though people said I looked thinner when I got back home – I actually weighed the same 160 pounds as when I left.

Also about this time – leading up to the Leon stayover – there was a mass shooting in Las Vegas.  Bill O’Reilly posted that that latest mass murder was “the price of freedom.”  I posted in response, “No Bill, putting up with dumbasses like you is the price of freedom.”

So much for a pilgrimage making you all kumbaya and hug-your-neighbor.  But we digress…

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The start of the Meseta outside Burgos - el Camino de Santiago, Camino Frances, SpainThe point is that this time last year we were just finishing the dry, dusty Spanish Meseta part of our Camino hike.  But next year we plan something different.  We’ll go back for another hike, but this time on the Portuguese Camino, “a fantastic route for pilgrims looking for a more rural experience on the Camino de Santiago.”  And the “we” will include me, my brother and his wife.  Which means I’ll have to get my own lodging.  (So it’s time to start saving my pennies.)

I plan to fly into Lisbon, mostly because I’ve never been there but always wanted to visit.  The three of us will meet up in Porto; “gorgeous Porto with its colorful riverfront and home of Port wine.”  From there it’s a mere 161 miles to Santiago de Compostela, on a more-leisurely pace of ten miles a day, for 16 days or hiking.  (Who says you can’t can’t teach old dogs?)

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Meanwhile, back in Leon, last year.  On October 5, on the day off, I found a McDonald’s restaurant, for a “little taste of home.”  And we practice-rode our rental 15-speed bikes.  I “didn’t fall down, and shifted gears without the chain coming off.”  But from there it wasn’t all smooth sailing.  On the ride out of Leon October 6, “my right handlebar took out – smashed the heck out of – the side-view mirror of some poor slob’s nice new car.”  In a second mishap:

I literally “ran my ass into a ditch…”  We were zooming downhill one afternoon.  I tried to adjust my left pant-leg, and the next thing I knew I was laying in a ditch, bleeding like a stuck pig.  And not just any ditch.  A nice deep ditch covered with thorns and brambles on the sides and bottom.  The “stuck pig” part came when my Ray-Bans gashed the bridge of my nose, causing it to bleed profusely…

See “Buen Camino!” – Revisited.  The point is:  We covered the remaining 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela in seven days, but not without some adventure (As illustrated at left, “An exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking.”) 

Which can be what a pilgrimage is all about.

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So anyway, this time last year we were just coming off the dry, dusty Meseta part of the Camino Frances, in our case from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela.  And who knows, maybe this time next year we’ll be finishing up our hike from Porto to Santiago.  Or somewhere in the middle, or maybe just starting out.  Which leads to this thought:

I’m sure the Portuguese Camino will have its own challenges, it’s own way of helping me “find myself.”  But considering we’ll be starting in Porto, at least the start should be happy…

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Rabelo boat, used to transport barrels of port down the River Douro,” to Porto . . .

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The upper image is my photo, taken with a “tablet” rather than a camera.  A word of advice:  Take a real camera.  It adds very little weight, while the tablet seemed to take forever to set up, meaning you really had to think ahead to get a decent picture.

The image to the right of the paragraph beginning “This time last year” is also my photo of the bridge for which Puente Villarente is named.  “Puente” means bridge and “Puente Villarente” is four miles northwest of the “Mansilla de Las Mulas” mentioned in El Burgos Raneros to Mansilla de las Mulas.  See also Camino Day 24: Puente Villarente to León 12km.  

Re:  “Different kind of hell.”  The allusion – as noted – is to Dorothy Parker‘s famously saying – whenever the door rang in her apartment – “What fresh hell is this?”  It’s also the title of Parker’s 1989 biography by Marion Meade.  See Amazon.com: Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?  

Re:  “The part some people recommend.”  The actual title:  The Meseta – Walking the Camino de Santiago.  It says in part, “many people decide to skip this section of the Camino Frances entirely, which is a shame, because this part … has more to offer than meets the eye.”

The pilgrim image is courtesy of the Camino link at Pilgrimage – Wikipedia.

A note about the Camino Frances, in our case from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela.  My brother opted to start at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the northern end of the “French Way,” after flying into Paris.  I opted to fly into Madrid and take a train to Pamplona, where we met up.   

The lower image is courtesy of Port wine – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “‘Rabelos,’ a type of boat traditionally used to transport barrels of port down the River Douro for storage and aging in caves at Vila Nova de Gaia near Porto.”  Also port wine is defined in pertinent part as…

… a Portuguese fortified wine produced with distilled grape spirits exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal…  Fortified wine is a wine to which a distilled spirit, usually brandy, is added.  Many different styles of fortified wine have been developed, including PortSherryMadeiraMarsala … and the aromatised wine Vermouth.

So that part should be fun…

The “Rideau Adventure” – An Overview

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I saw no naked lady on the Rideau, but there was this fetching blonde at Smiths Falls Locks

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Last Saturday evening – September 1st – I got back home from my “Rideau Adventure.”  (Which included passing through the Poonamalie lock station – at left and discussed further below.)  That adventure involved canoeing the Rideau Canal, from Kingston – on Lake Ontario – to Ottawa.

I previewed it in Next adventure: Paddling the Rideau “Canal.”  Also – from July 31 – “Naked Lady” – on the Rideau Canal?

In a nutshell, I didn’t see a naked lady on the banks of the Rideau.  I did see a fetching blonde in a power boat, explained in the notes below.  And incidentally, “Poonamalie” is the station just before the Smiths Falls three locks.  (We followed “Yvette’s” Fuego on the first two of three locks…)   

And now for the overview:  The guide books say it should take from six to ten days to make the trip.  They also say the prevailing winds are “generally” from the southwest, but to be “ready for anything.”  We ended up taking 11-and-a-half days – and 11 nights – but two of those nights we spent in relative luxury in a rustic cabin in Portland, Ontario (Nine days “actual canoeing.*”)

1534935865425That was after taking a wrong turn padding north from Colonel By Island on the morning of Wednesday, August 22.  That overnight campsite included a violent rainstorm and raccoons breaking into our plastic food containers and taking our supplies of breakfast bars, crackers and trail mix.  That in turn was preceded by us paddling through a veritable monsoon, on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 21.  That morning we made 10 miles, but in the afternoon – after leaving the Narrows (Lock 35) – we made four miles before stopping at ” Colonel By.”

But such is “the stuff of legends.”  And we digress…

Getting back to those prevailing winds.  For the first few days the prevailing winds were from the north, in our faces.  Plus we had to delay our start – by one day – because The Weather Channel predicted heavy thunderstorms on the afternoon of Friday, August 17.  That forecast wasn’t accurate, but the one for the afternoon of Tuesday, August 21, was accurate.

We got the predicted heavy rain.

Which is another way of saying the trip featured highlights and lowlights.  “Yvette” was a definite highlight.  The heavy rains of August 21-22 were lowlights, as was taking a wrong turn after leaving Colonel By Island.  But that was followed by deciding to take two nights off – resting and refitting – in beautiful Portland, Ontario – a definite highlight – on August 23 and 24.

Thereupon,” on leaving Portland our main goal was to get off “all those big-ass lakes.”  With their unpredictable winds and a constant threat of being swamped by inconsiderate big-boat drivers.  Speaking of that, on the afternoon of August 24, we were in the process of getting off Lower Rideau Lake(The last of the “big-ass lakes” in the Rideau system, which is actually further north than Upper Rideau Lake Big Rideau Lake – with Cow Island – lies in between.)  

We were heading for the Poonamalie lock station, and my brother was sitting in his canoe, minding his own business and checking our bearings on his big book of charts.  Some jerk in a big-ass boat came zooming out from the river to the north – where we were headed – making a huge wave and yelling out, “GET OFF THE F’ING CHANNEL!”  Which just goes to show that life is like a box of chocolates:  “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

1534674220192Also speaking of that:  To avoid the often-contrary prevailing winds, we started getting up at 4:00 a.m.  Which leads to the picture at left, of one of the benefits of getting up at 4:00 a.m. and stumbling around in the dark while breaking camp.  Aside from the water being much smoother – which was especially important on those “big-ass lakes” during the first half of the trip – you also get to see some beautiful sunrises.  (As seen at left.)

So all in all we spent 11-and-a-half days on the trip, but that included two nights in a nice cabin in Portland Ontario.  And aside from primitive camping the first two nights – “dig a hole and squat” – most of the rest of the nights we camped at the lock stations themselves.  They featured nice level lawns, hot and cold running water in the nearby “washrooms,” and every once in a while a nearby pub or restaurant with hot food and cold beer.

Which led to my conclusion that this Rideau trip was “more of a Camino than the Camino.”  That is, last September and October – on Spain’s 450 miles of the Camino de Santiago* – my brother and I kept meeting up with flocks of fellow pilgrims, all or most greeting us with “Buen Camino.”  In other words, the Rideau trip was more of a pilgrimage, in the truest sense.  That is, a “journey or search of moral or spiritual significance.”  Or consider the words of John Steinbeck in Travels with CharleySpeaking of long-distance driving – at least in 1962 – he wrote:

If one has driven a car over many years [one] does not have to think about what to do.  Nearly all the driving technique is deeply buried in the machine-like unconscious.  This being so, a large area of the conscious mind is left free for thinking…  [T]here is left, particularly on very long trips, a large area for day-dreaming or even, God help us, for thought.

Unfortunately, there was precious little of that on the Camino.  (Or for that matter, on any modern long-distance driving trip, what with Sirius, GPS, iPod Shuffles or the new “Sandisks,” not to mention “books on CD,” none of which were available in 1962.)  On the other hand, there was plenty of time – paddling up the Rideau river system – for “God help us, thought.

In my case, on the Rideau I spent plenty of time – along with Steinbeck – thinking about the past:  “And how about the areas of regrets?  If only I had done so-and-so, or had not said such-and-such – my God, the damn thing might not have happened.”

Which is another way of saying there weren’t that many other canoeists or kayakers on the Rideau.  In fact I can only remember one, the lady kayaker shown below, portaging – carrying her kayak – at the  Burritts Rapids lock station.  Whereas my brother and I paid extra to take our canoes through the locks, this younger lady chose to do it the “other way.”  She’d carry her kayak on one trip – from one end of the lock station to the other – then go back and get all her gear, stacked what seemed to a mile high on her backpack.

The point being – in case I’m being too subtle – that the dearth of fellow paddlers meant there was plenty of time “for day-dreaming or even, God help us, for thought.”

Which seems to be what makes a pilgrimage a pilgrimage(Though it helped to find the Lock 17 Bistro, a short walk from Burritts Rapids, where we camped the night of Sunday, August 26.)

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The upper image:  My photo from our passage through the first two of three locks at Smiths Falls, Ontario.  I wrote that we got to the lock at 8:30 and they didn’t open til 9:00 a.m., so my brother walked to a close-by convenience store and got some REAL coffee and a chocolate-chip cookie.  Then the lady in question – I’d like to think her name was Yvette – “and her old-guy SO” – whatever that meant – “went off into the Rideau.”  I also journaled: “The point being:  This trip has been mainly pleasant.  Early stops, lots of breaks, a two-night stay in Portland…”  (Portland Ontario that is.)

Re:  My not seeing “a naked lady strolling the banks of the Rideau Canal.”  The reference goes back to the August 2016 post, “Naked lady on the Yukon.”  (Where the “mighty Yukon River” was the last place on earth I expected to see a lady sun bathing, “In the altogether” as it were.) 

Re:  Portland, Ontario:  “The Landing on Big Rideau Lake, which is now the community of Portland, lies at the heart of the Rideau Canal System and is central to the history of the canal and to the early development of Canada.  Portland is on Highway 15, midway between Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario.”  See also Portland, Ontario – Wikipedia.

Re:  Distances on the canal system.  Using the figures from Rideau Canal – Distances between Lockstations, it is 125.6 miles from the Lasalle Causeway in Kingston to Ottawa proper and the last several lock stations leading to the Ottawa River.  But we stopped at Hartwells lock station, 4.9 miles short of the Ottawa River, for reasons including there was no apparent take-out available, at which my brother could park his car and trailer, and we could unload the canoes.  Moreover, we put in at the small but better-suited “Elliott Avenue Parkett” – at the water’s end of John Counter Boulevard – some two miles north of the Lasalle Causeway.  Thus we arguably covered some 118.7 miles on the trip.  On that note, in an email post-mortem dated September 4, my brother noted this:   

…to set the record straight, the entire Rideau is 125 nm (nautical miles), of which we did 120 nm.  That works out to 138 statute miles.  And, we started Saturday, August 18]. around 11 am and finished at about the same time on Wed[nesday, August 29]., 11 days total, two of which were, going backwards to Portland and a day spent in Portland.  So 9 days total actually canoeing. 

Re:  “Our’ 450 miles of the Camino de Santiago.”  For more on that pilgrimage see “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited and/or “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts.

Another note:  For the next canoe trip I’m getting a bigger tent and a cot.  (No more sleeping on the ground for me.)  But that trip won’t happen until at least 2020, as next summer my brother, his wife and I plan to hike the Portuguese Camino.  That hike will involve a “mere” 150 miles, from Porto to Santiago de Compostela.  This route is said to be a “fantastic route for pilgrims looking for a more rural experience on the Camino de Santiago.”

The quotes from Travels with Charley are from the 1962 Penguin Books edition, at pages 94-95.

The lower image:  My photo of a lady kayaker, portaging – carrying her kayak – at the Burritt’s Rapids lock station. My brother and I paid extra to take our canoes through the locks – resulting in the previous picture of “Yvette,” bending and stretching, but this lady chose to do it the “other way…”  (“Oh  to be young again!”  Or not, once was enough…)

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Also of note:  In Geezer’s guide to supplements – Part II, I wrote of supplements for “men my age,” that is, 67.  One of the recommended supplements was Selenium:  “No other single nutrient appears to prevent cancer more effectively…  It basically forces cancer cells to self-destruct.”  The good news was that “Nature’s selenium supplement is the Brazil Nut, which measures 100 mcg per nut.   So you get your daily dose by eating two Brazil nuts.”  But that presented a problem in accounting:

I bought a 9.5 ounce container at the local Fresh Market for $12.95 on July 15.  I’ll update this post when they’re gone – at the rate of two or three a day – but … it’ll be awhile.

For the record, I had my last two Brazil nuts from that batch on September 7, 2018, less than a week after I got back from the aforementioned Rideau Adventure.  I took the supplement from July 15 to August 17, for a total of 63 days.  I didn’t take the supplement while on the Rideau, from the 18th to August 30, when I left for home.  I then took it from August 31 to September 7, eight more days, or 71 total.  Thus the cost of this supplement rounds up to about 19 cents a day.     

A Geezer’s guide to supplements

No, I don’t want a Schwarzenegger body.  At age 67, I just want to stick around a while yet… 

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http://img2-2.timeinc.net/people/i/2014/news/140210/christie-brinkley-300.jpgI recently flew back from Newark to the ATL.*

The Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine had a full-page ad for M-drive The ad was for a “daily supplement designed specifically for men.”  Since I just turned 67, it piqued my interest.  (For reasons including some noted in Part II.  Like I said, I want to stick around awhile.  And maybe run into a cute “young” 60-year-old, like the one shown at left.)

As It turned out, M-drive wasn’t my cup of tea.  But the ad did get me thinking.  (Supplements and such.)

So I did some Googling and came up with this:  The Top 10 Supplements for Men – menshealth.com.

A side note:  I was already taking a multivitamin and Glucosamine Chondroitin, both via “gummies.”  (Despite my dentist’s warning that “gummy vitamins” – like Halloween Candy – can “pull your fillings out and crack your crowns.”  But I’m careful, and essentially “gum the gummies.”)

 Also Vitamin D3, on doctor’s orders.  (Which is ironic since I am and have been in the sun a lot.)

So here’s what Menshealth said, and what I’ve gotten  “extra,” and how much it all costs.

1.  BORON TO PROTECT YOUR PROSTATE

This note got me really thinking, since my brother and father both got prostate cancer.

The site said men with high boron levels are “65 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than men with lower levels.”  It added that American men on average have one of the lowest boron intakes in the world.  The site recommended 3 milligrams (mg) a day, and added that it “doesn’t just fight cancer:  USDA researchers found that this is the best dosage to improve memory and concentration.”  (Which I could definitely use.)

As it turned out, I could get most of my supplements straight out of the local General Nutrition Center(This was after trying – without success – to buy them at some local “hypermarketsdiscount department stores, and grocery stores.”  It seems they cater more to the trendy – if not gullible.)

However, the local GNC didn’t have Boron on hand, so I had to special order it.  Online, it cost $6.41, including shipping, for a bottle of 100.  That worked out to under seven cents a day.

2.  CALCIUM TO LOSE WEIGHT AND STRENGTHEN BONES

Menshealth said most men don’t get the recommended 1,000 mg of calcium a day.  (And that a cup of milk only has 300 mg.)  It added that men with the highest calcium intakes weigh less on average than men consuming less calcium.

A color photograph of a kidney stone, 8 millimetres in length.How much?  The site said to aim for 1,200 mg calcium citrate; “half in the morning, half at night, to maximize absorption.”  It also said to avoid coral calcium, because of impurities.  But here I made a misstep.  The first “calcium” I got was calcium phosphate, at the local hypermarket.  But it turns out calcium phosphate increases the danger kidney stones(As seen at right.)

So I ended up getting calcium citrate “soft chews” from the same local GNC, at $30 for 60 “chews,” each 500 mg.  But I ended up opting to take only one of these day.  For one thing, I don’t want to risk one of those dang kidney stones.  For another I get some calcium – of the right kind – from my morning cheese and multivitamin, and other sources as well.  Plus of course it’s cheaper taking one.  That ends up costing 50 cents a day, and I still increase my calcium substantially.

Number 3 on the list – Chromium – is covered adequately by my multivitamin.

4.  COENZYME Q10 TO BOOST ENERGY

Here I found a real bargain, as noted below.

But first, Menshealth said your body naturally produces Coenzyme Q10, which helps cells manage your body’s energy supply.  However, “as you get older, production decreases,” and the only way to “get back up to youthful levels is by taking a supplement.”

Recent studies suggest that coenzyme Q10 may fight cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease, and may thin the blood to help prevent heart disease.  Q10 is also packed with free-radical-fighting antioxidants, which can slow the signs of aging.

How much?  Menshealth said researchers recommend 100 mg a day, but you “won’t find Q10 in a multivitamin or get any useful quantity from food.”  And that’s where I lucked out.

It turns out this supplement is covered by GNC’s Triple Strength Fish Oil Plus CoQ-10(“Two for the price of one.”)  This “fish oil plus supplement” cost $52.50 for 120 softgels.  But that rounds out to 44 cents a day for a three month supply of both CoQ-10 and Omega-3s.

5.  CREATINE TO BOOST MUSCLE AND MEMORY

As  Wikipedia noted, Creatine “can increase maximum power and performance in high-intensity anaerobic repetitive work (periods of work and rest) by 5 to 15%.”  But I put the kibosh on this one.  After visiting both Walmart and the GNC, this one looked like too much trouble.  (What with having to mix it with whey, and thus being a bit too “body-builderish.”) 

The verdict:  “NOT interested.”  Getting older, I’ve moved to low-weight high repetition strength training, since a big benefit of “using light weights is the diminished risk of injury.”  Which I came to appreciate recently.  I “tweaked” my right shoulder lifting a bag of garbage I’d always handled easily before.  It took a month of rehabilitation and a couple of sleepless nights to work through that one.  And I came to appreciate not being able to raise your right arm.

So as they say, “Discretion is the better part of valor.”  As they also say, “To be continued

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The upper image is courtesy of Bodybuilding – Wikipedia.  Caption, “Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the most notable figures in bodybuilding, in 1974.”  See also Arnold Schwarzenegger – Wikipedia.

The “hypermarketsdiscount department stores, and grocery stores” is from Walmart – Wikipedia.

I borrowed the Christie Brinkley image from On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30” – (Part II).

Re: Whey. See Why You Should Take Whey Protein, Creatine, And Glutamine.  (“Bodybuilding.com.”)

The lower image is courtesy of Creatine Body – Image Results.

A Geezer’s guide to supplements – Part II

Like I said, I don’t want a Schwarzenegger body.  At 67, I just want to stick around a while… 

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We left Part I at the point where I chose not to take the supplement Creatine.  That’s  Number 5 on the Menshealth Top 10 List of Supplements for Men(“I put the kibosh on this one.”) 

The better part of valour is discretionIt was “too body-builderish,” and I’m no longer interested in “high-intensity anaerobic repetitive work.”  And because – in light of a recent shoulder injury – “Discretion is the better part of valor.”  So, moving to Number 6 on the Menshealth list:

6.  FOLIC ACID TO CUT ALZHEIMER’S RISK

Menshealth said Folic Acid helps prevent clogged arteries and improves blood flow to the brain.  It also helps keep down Homocysteine, an amino acid that increases your risk of blood clots.  Then too, “Researchers in Sweden found that Alzheimer’s patients are more likely to have folic acid deficiencies.”  So how much?  The site recommends 500 mcg a day, “which could help lower homocysteine levels by 18 percent or more.”  At GNC, I got 100 tablets (400 mcg) for $3.99.  That works out to 4 cents a day for a three month supply.

7.  GLUCOSAMINE TO “GREASE YOUR JOINTS”

As noted, I started taking Glucosamine Chondroitin “soft chews” some time ago.  Anecdotally, it made a difference – to me – when I stopped taking them for awhile.  (Like on the Camino trip.)  The manufacturer said to take three a day, but I’ve been taking two.  The cost?  $11.48 for 50, a 25 week supply, about 45 cents a week.  Here’s what Menshealth said:

You don’t have the same amount of cartilage in your joints that you had at 19.  To reverse the damage and actually rebuild cartilage, take glucosamine, made from the shells of crabs and lobsters.  How much?  1,500 mg a day.  Brands that combine glucosamine with chondroitin are fine.  [As noted, I take two instead of three, and so get 1,000 mg a day.]

8.  OMEGA-3s TO PROTECT YOUR HEART

As noted, this one got covered by the Triple Strength Fish Oil Plus CoQ-10.  44 cents a day for a three month supply of both CoQ-10 and Omega-3s, which has already been calculated in.

Omega-3 fatty acids keep blood pressure and triglyceride levels low and the heart beating regularly.  They make blood slicker, reducing the risk of clots and blocked arteries.  Studies show that men with the highest omega-3 levels have the lowest risk of dying of heart disease.  How much?  For healthy guys, 1,000 mg a day.  Those with heart problems may need 2,000 to 4,000 mg.  But too much can increase your risk of catching a cold.

Another tip from Menshealth:  “Take Omega-3s with meals so you don’t burp up a fish scent.”

9.  SELENIUM TO FIGHT OFF CANCER

Menshealth said “No other single nutrient appears to prevent cancer more effectively than Selenium…  It basically forces cancer cells to self-destruct.”  Studies link increased selenium intake with a “decreased risk of cancers of the prostate, colon, and lungs.”

How much?  The site said 200 mcg a day, and “more when you’re sick.”  And here’s the good news:  “Nature’s selenium supplement is the Brazil Nut, which measures 100 mcg per nut.”  So you get your daily dose by eating two Brazil nuts.  I bought a 9.5 ounce container at the local Fresh Market for $12.95 on July 15.  I’ll update this post when they’re gone – at the rate of two or three a day – but based on what I’ve used so far, it’ll be awhile.  [It worked out to 19 cents a day, as detailed in the footnotes.*]

 10.  VITAMIN E  TO SLOW THE EFFECTS OF AGING

Last but not least, Menshealth said Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and “may help reduce the risk of certain eye diseases, heart disease, cancer, even Alzheimer’s disease.”  And some studies show that Vitamin E “also reduces muscle damage after exercise.”  The Beyond the Hype link said most tests on the health benefits of antioxidants have been inconclusive.  However:

At the same time, abundant evidence suggests that eating whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – all rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules – provides protection against many of these scourges of aging.

And by the way, I’ve also been eating a lot more whole fruits and vegetables.  (“Whole grains,” not so much.  Though I do eat my fair share of cornwheat germ, and flaxseed.)

How much?  Menshealth said up to 400 international units (IU) a day, “since most people get just a fraction of that from their diets.  You can also increase your intake by eating more nuts and oils.”  I got a bottle of 100 for $5.99 at GNC.  That’s 6 cents a day for a three month supply.

So the total verifiable cost of these add-on supplements is $1.30 a day.  That doesn’t count the Glucosamine Chondroitin I was already taking, so if you add that extra 45 cents, the cost goes to $1.56 a day.  So why do I bother with all these supplements?  Simply put, I want to live long enough – and if only metaphorically – to dance on my enemy’s grave.  As to which enemy:

Let the reader understand!

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Nymphets “dancing on an enemy’s grave,” if only metaphorically…

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The upper image is courtesy of Bodybuilding – Wikipedia.  Caption, “Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the most notable figures in bodybuilding, in 1974.”  See also Arnold Schwarzenegger – Wikipedia.

The “valor” image is courtesy of Discretion … Better Part Valor – Image Results.  The cited blog credits the idiom to KHIV part 1 act 5, sc. 4,” and more accurately: “The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life.”  The blogger said the saying was a “masterpiece of what today would be called ‘political correctness.”  See also Better part of valor is discretion – eNotes.

Re:  Sources of whole grains.  See e.g. The 11 Healthiest Whole Grains You Should Be Eating, and/or What are sources of whole grains? | Health Value Of Foods.

Re:  “Let the reader understand.”  The allusion is to Mark 13:14:  “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”  See also Matthew 24:15.

Re:  The daily cost of two Brazil nuts a day.  For the record, I had my last two Brazil nuts from the $12.95 batch on September 7, 2018.  I took the supplement from July 15 to August 17, for a total of 63 days, but didn’t take it while on the Rideau Canal, from the 18th to August 30, when I left for home.  I then took it from August 31 to September 7, eight more days, or 71 total.  Thus the cost of this “Brazil nut” supplement rounds up to about 19 cents a day.      

The lower image is courtesy of Dancing Enemy Grave – Image Results.  I originally used the photo at right, with my caption, “General Patton micturating at the Rhine River.”  But after further review I decided that was a bit “untoward,” so I substituted the “dancing enemy grave image.”  For those interested in this less-than-subtle metaphor, the Patton photo is courtesy of Photo of George Patton as he urinated into the Rhine.  Apparently it’s an old American custom from way back, at least in the eyes of some.  See Americans cheered Gen. Patton when he urinated on the enemy, and George Patton at the Rhine River: Yes, Hillary, Peeing On The Enemy IS An American Tradition.   (Or you could Google the phrase “american pissing on enemy.”) 

For an alternate view of “celebrating” too much over an enemy, see Dancing on Our Enemy’s Grave: Jewish Ethics of War and Peace, a course offered by Simon Fraser University.  Week Six of the course:

Dancing on our Enemy’s Grave???  When victims die from terrorist attacks in the West, their supporters dance in the streets with flags and weapons waving in the air.  When bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALS, the US and other governments’ responses were muted.  What is the moral response to the death and defeat of our enemies?  Are we truly entitled to “dance on our enemy’s grave?”  We close out these sessions with an exploration of the ethical issues surrounding victory and the advent of peace.

Next adventure: Paddling the Rideau “Canal”

A 1906 photograph of the Poonamalie Lock Station (32) on the Rideau Canal in Canada… 

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Taking a break from Politics:  My next big adventure is coming up in August.

November 10, 2014 photo IMG_4329_zps7f7b5ddb.jpgMy Utah-brother and I will be paddling – some six to 10 days – up the Rideau Canal, from Kingston to Ottawa, Ontario.  (This is the same brother with whom I canoed 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi in 2014, as seen at right  And 440 miles on the Yukon River.  And hiked the Chilkoot Trail – “the meanest 33 miles in history” – and most recently hiked and biked 450 miles on the Camino de Santiago.)  

But don’t let the “canal” name fool you.  (Or the photo at the top of the page.)

This Rideau “Canal” is a water route of “mostly natural waters, made up of lakes and rivers.”  Of the 125 miles on this “canal,” only 12 – about 10% – are “manmade locks and canal cuts.”  The rest of the route consists of “natural waters,” as noted.  That includes Big Rideau Lake, some 20 miles long and over three miles wide.  (For comparison, Lake Laberge on the Yukon River – which we paddled in 2016 – is 31 miles long and up to three miles wide.)

The direct route from Kingston to Ottawa is 125 miles, but that includes over 677 miles of shoreline.  (Most choose that route because the prevailing winds are from the southwest.)  

Also, from Lake Ontario at Kingston the route rises 166 feet.  It rises to the “summit of Upper Rideau Lake,” from where it then descends 275 feet to the Ottawa River at Ottawa.

The canal system was built between 1826 and 1832, to help defend Canada by allowing boats to travel safely along the southern border.  I.e., Canadians could travel along their southern border – the border with the U.S. – “without having to travel along the St. Lawrence River, in gunshot range of the Americans.”  (And Donald Trump wasn’t even president…)  

The construction of the Rideau Canal was a preventive military measure undertaken after a report that during the War of 1812 the United States had intended to invade the British colony of Upper Canada via the St. Lawrence River, which would have severed the lifeline between Montreal and Kingston.

Then there’s this added note:  “It is the oldest continuously operated canal in North America.  Most of the locks are still operated by hand, using the same mechanisms that were used to operate the locks in 1832.”  (Speaking of “delightfully retro.”)

To give some perspective on how long such a canoe-trip can take, early voyageurs could cover the distance  in three days.  (But those were “very long days with lots of paddling.”)  And that would include portaging around the areas that have since been made locks and canal cuts.

Today the recommended pace is anywhere from six to 10 days, as noted.

And there are 26 lockstations to pass through.  Those you can either portage around – like the early voyageurs – or pay a fee.  They all have washrooms and potable water, and most offer camping.  (So it won’t be like canoeing 12 miles offshore, featuring eight days of primitive camping, on places like Half-moon Island, Ship Island, and “from time to time an occasional salt marsh.”) 

Other notes:  The name Rideau is French for “curtain,” and comes from the “curtain-like appearance of the Rideau River‘s twin waterfalls where they join the Ottawa River.”  And:

The canal also served a commercial purpose.  The Rideau Canal was easier to navigate than the St. Lawrence River because of the series of rapids between Montreal and Kingston.  As a result, the Rideau Canal became a busy commercial artery from Montreal to the Great Lakes.  However, by 1849, the rapids of the St. Lawrence had been tamed by a series of locks, and commercial shippers were quick to switch to this more direct route.

Thus it “remains in use today primarily for pleasure boating, with most of its original structures intact, operated by Parks Canada.”  But it’s not all fun and games, necessarily.

One Canal-guide noted three possible issues:  Wind, waves and big boats.  As for the first, while the prevailing wind is from the southwest, “be prepared for anything,” including a change in wind from the northeast.  Also, waves can be an issue on big lakes, “with large sections of open water unprotected by islands.”  And such large waves “can be an issue for a canoeist.”

The same is true of “big power boats (cruisers)” which also share the waterway.

One idea (the guide said):  Paddle close to shore.  It’s more interesting – with more wildlife and such – and keeps you further from the waves produced by big boats.  But if you encounter one – here I’m writing under the “memo to self” idea – the general rule is to turn into such waves, meeting them head on.  This “can actually be fun in a kayak (not as much fun in a canoe).”

I’ll be writing more on this adventure, if only in the form of a postmortem(But not in the literal sense.)  Meanwhile, here’s hoping we don’t have to use this little maneuver this August…

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Image titled Canoe Step 14

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The upper image is courtesy of Rideau Canal – Wikipedia.  Caption:  “Poonahmalee, on the Rideau River, near Smith Falls, Ontario – October 1906.”

Portions of the text were gleaned from “Watson’s paddling guide to the Rideau Canal” (PDF), by Ken W. Watson, First Printing 2012, Current Revision May 2018, at pages 9-10, 17-18.  The “wind, wave and big boat issues” are discussed on pages 13 and 14. 

Re:  “12 miles offshore.”  See Canoeing 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi, from 2016.  (It was a both a review of the 2014 canoe trip and a preview of last fall’s Camino de Santiago adventure.

 The “retro” image is courtesy of Delightfully Retro – Image Results.

The lower image is courtesy of How to Canoe (with Pictures) – wikiHow.

My first time in a “tail dragger…”

I just flew in a Piper Cub “J-3” – like the one shown above – that helped win World War II

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Last Sunday evening – June 10 – I rode in my first-ever “taildragger.”  (You know, the airplane kind.)  The place I contacted was Peachtree City Biplanes, at Falcon Field in Peachtree City.  But rather than the biplane – at left – I chose to fly in the company’s other plane.  That other plane was a classic 1946 Piper J-3 Cub.

I did that for a couple reasons.  First, the Cub flight was cheaper.  For another, I remember the 1965 movie Battle of the Bulge.  (About the Ardennes Counteroffensive, in WW II.)  The film started with Henry Fonda – “Lt. Col. Dan Kiley” – in the back seat of a Piper Cub.  He and the pilot were “flying a reconnaissance mission over the Ardennes forest.”  Later still, the pair flew another daring mission:

Facing the dangers of a foggy night, Col. Kiley conducts an aerial reconnaissance in an attempt to locate the main German spearhead.  He orders the pilot to shut off the engine and glide in an attempt to listen for enemy tanks.  Suddenly, through a gap in the fog, he spots [a German] tank column heading toward American lines.  Kiley radios in the coordinates, but his plane is hit by German fire and crashes near an American fuel depot.

I’ve wanted to fly a Piper Cub ever since.  (BTW: Fonda survived and helped save the day.)

And another aside:  In researching for this post I learned that – to some Army Air Corps veterans anyway – The Piper Cub helped beat the Germans in World War II:

The Piper Cub, used as an artillery spotter plane, did more to defeat the German Army in World War II then any other American airplane, according to Capt. John Johnson.

The article added that what made the Cub “perfect for artillery spotting was its versatility.”  They could fly “low and slow with ease,” and could also land and take off in very little space.  “Given the wind conditions, I could land and take off in 19 inches,” Johnson said.

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Meanwhile, back to my flight, last Sunday evening.

I hadn’t flown since 2002 or thereabouts.  (When I got my Private Pilot’s license, but then found out flying was an expensive hobby.)  Owner-operator Jay Herrin wrote later that we had a great flight over Lake McIntosh, Pinewood Studios – where they shoot “The Walking Dead,” etc. – and also Starr’s Mill and the surrounding area.  He added that I “did most of the flying and did a great job!”  But that was a bit of hyperbole.

I did take take over the controls for a bit, which was kind of strange.

I trained in a Cessna 172, with a steering wheel and foot-rudders that were pretty wide.  But the Cub a had a classic “stick” to steer with, and the rudders were small metal bars.  Also, the Cessna had a tricycle landing gear, while the Cub – as noted – was a taildragger:

The tricycle arrangement has a single nose wheel in the front, and two or more main wheels slightly aft of the center of gravity.  T ricycle gear aircraft are the easiest to take-off, land and taxi, and consequently the configuration is the most widely used on aircraft.

On the other hand, while a taildragger is generally less expensive to manufacture and maintain, it has some disadvantages:  1) It has a “nose-high attitude on the ground,”  2) It’s “susceptible to ground looping,” and 3) it’s “more subject to ‘nose-over’ accidents due to injudicious application of brakes by the pilot.”  (Like the one seen at left.)

But after a while I got the hang of the stick and rudders, and was able to stay pretty much on course.  And did I mention that you have to pretty acrobatic just to get in the dang thing?

On the plus side the view was great, from such a “low and slow” altitude.  And I was able to take some pretty good pictures, from the always-open right window, with camera and cell phone.

Like the picture below, of Starr’s Mill, a “tiny village a few miles south of Peachtree City.”  It’s next to Starr’s Mill Pond, and near the junction of Highways 74 and 85.  “The area is extremely picturesque and makes for a nice drive.”  (But it’s even better seen from about 800 feet up…)

All of which just goes to show that while other people my age are being Grumpy Old Geezers – whining and complaining – I plan to have some fun in the time I have left.

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Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Starr’s Mill, southeast of Peachtree City, seen from about 800 feet up…

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The upper image is courtesy of Battle Of The Bulge Movie Piper Cub – Image Results.  The “nose over” image is courtesy of Nose Over Accidents Airplane – Image Results.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

On “Pirate’s Island,” Alabama…

PIRATES ISLAND, Logan Martin Lake (AL), without the “Jolly Roger” that got my attention…

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Hewitt-Trussville High SchoolI just got back from a graduation at Hewitt-Trussville High School in Trussville, Alabama.  (Great-nephew.)  The ceremony was on Tuesday night, May 22.

Earlier in the day I started off trying to find a place to kayak.  “Lake Purdy” was closest to my hotel, via long and winding back roads.  However, when I got there they’d posted all kind of signs saying, “No private boats, no canoes, no kayaks.”  (Jerks.  They might as well have added, “No having fun, no enjoying nature, this means you idiot!”  Stuff like that.)

So I ended up at an RV camp “slash” boat ramp, at Lakeside Landing, on Logan Martin Lake(A “reservoir located in east central Alabama on the Coosa River.”  I.e., it was formed by a kazillion dams on the Coosa River in the middle of Alabama.)  So fortunately I was able to get in two hours of full-speed kayak-paddling, though I did have to baby my right shoulder a bit, and take several breaks.  (I’d messed up my right shoulder about a month before, but no “rotator cuff problems…”)

So anyway, I normally paddle out an hour, then take an hour to get back to whatever boat ramp I left from.  (Depending on wind, tide and/or current, if I’m kayaking on a river.)  This day I was getting near the one-hour turning-around point when I saw another lakeside RV camp, with what I took to be an American flag waving in the wind.

Then I saw that the flag pole was on a little bitty island, about 100 yards offshore.  (In what looked to be a cluster of drowned-out trees.)  Then I saw that it wasn’t an American flag at all.

It was a “Jolly Roger,” a skull-and-crossbones black flag.  (Which I thought was quite odd, coming up on Memorial Day and all.)  So I ended up paddling around the island, which turned out to be like the photo at the top of the page.  Except, there were no people and no boats tied up to shore.  And of course with the Jolly Roger waving in the breeze.

Then I headed back to the boat ramp.

It had been cloudy and overcast all morning, but on the return trip I could see a line of rain falling right near where I needed to go to get back “home.”  I managed to skirt the rain for a while, but eventually got pretty well soaked. Then it stopped, I got back to the ramp, then got stuck under a patio-like overhang thing with a (closed) concession stand, just as I was about to load up the kayak.  I had to wait there a good 20 minutes, then it slacked off a bit and I loaded up and headed back to the hotel, pretty much “soggy bottomed.”

Anyway, when I got home Wednesday afternoon I Googled “pirate’s island logan martin lake.” And got the pictures the top of the page and below left.  Plus a description from a website, Pirate’s Island – Discover St. Clair.  Turns out it’s a “75 ft.X 50 ft. excluding beach & sandbar” island that the wife of some guy named Regan bought for him years ago:

On the 75 x 50-foot island itself, its palm trees leaning out over the water, the Regans’ family and friends gather around a fire pit, relaxing in chairs of all shapes and sizes.

Logan-Martin-Pirate-IslandThere was also this note:

All are welcome on Pirate’s Island.  It’s a tradition that evolved when a boat load of 10 year olds asked if they needed help on the island.  They helped clean it, and their pay came in hotdogs.

I wish I’d known that.  (The “all are welcome” part.)  I could have stopped and stretched my legs…

Note that neither of these pictures show the black flag waving in the wind that first caught my attention.  And on a totally unrelated note:  This morning – the morning after I got back home – I got a little more into my reading of Liberty’s First Crisis:  Adams, Jefferson, and the Misfits Who Saved Free Speech.  It told the story of the first real test of the First Amendment:

Suddenly, the First Amendment, which protected harsh commentary of the weak government, no longer seemed as practical. So that July … the Federalists in control of Congress passed an extreme piece of legislation that made criticism of the government and its leaders a crime punishable by heavy fines and jail time … and the country’s future hung in the balance.

That “extreme piece of legislation” was the Alien and Sedition Act.  Which led John Adams – one of the nation’s Founding Fathers – to write this:  “Mankind will in time discover that unbridled majorities are as tyrannical and cruel as unlimited despots.”

Not that there’s any connection to current events or anything….

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56 figures stand or sit in a room. Five lay papers on a table.

John Adams – at center, “hand on his hip” – and the Declaration of Independence

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The upper image is courtesy of Pirates Island Logan Martin Lake – Image Results (Pinterest).  A side note:  This island is not to be confused with Pirate Island Sea Isle City, in New Jersey.

Re:  “Lake Purdy.”  See Lake Purdy – Let’s Go Fishing – Official Site 

No private boats are allowed on Lake Purdy.  (Including NO Kayaks)  2. Participants can use their own trolling motors or outboards up to 10 horsepower.  3. All boats must have regulation running lights which can be purchased at the Lake Purdy store.  4. Boats must fish at least 100 feet away from another boat.

So once again I say, “Jerks!”

Re:  “Soggy bottomed.”  See O Brother, Where Art Thou? – Wikipedia.  “The Soggy Bottom Boys is the musical group that the main characters form to serve as accompaniment for the film.  The name is in homage to the Foggy Mountain Boys, a bluegrass band led by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs…”

Re:  The quote from The Misfits Who Saved Free Speech is on page 20 of the 2015 Atlantic Monthly Press edition.  A review added this:  “Americans refused to let their freedoms be so easily dismissed: they penned fiery editorials, signed petitions, and raised ‘liberty poles…’”

The lower image is courtesy of John Adams – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Trumbull’s ‘Declaration of Independence‘ – committee presents draft to Congress.  Adams stands at center with his hand on his hip.”  Another side note:  “Adams had privately criticized Thomas Paine‘s 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, saying that the author had ‘a better hand at pulling down than building.'”

So again, “Not that there’s any connection to current events or anything…