Monthly Archives: July 2017

Canoeing 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi…

November 10, 2014 photo IMG_4329_zps7f7b5ddb.jpg

A mere 10 miles out in the Gulf, off the coast of Mississippi  –  Dawn, November 10, 2014…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

In September I’m flying to Madrid, Spain.  From there I’ll take the train to Pamplona, to meet up with my adventurous brother, Tom.  From that point we’ll both be hiking the Camino de Santiago.  (At left.)  We plan to hike 450 miles in 30 days.

Which brings up the 8-day canoe trip that we two took back in November 2014, “12 miles offshore.”  (I.e., 12  miles off the coast of Mississippi.)  We started out on Lake Pontchartrain, then paddled through the Rigolets, then out into the Gulf of Mexico.

12 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico.

We paddled a whole lot during the day.  In one stretch we paddled 17 miles in 11 hours.  Then at night we “primitive camped.”  We primitive camped on places like Half Moon Island and East Ship Island.  (And from time to time we camped on an occasional salt marsh.)

Which naturally brings up the question, Why?   Why would two old geezers – 63 and 69, respectively and at the time – paddle so far out into the realm of sharks and drowning?

http://walkinginfrance.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/Travels1.jpgI still don’t know the full answer, except to say that such adventures are a whole lot of fun once they’re over.  But part of the appeal got spelled out by both John Steinbeck – in Travels with Charley – and Robert Louis Stevenson.  (His Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes is at right.)

The sum and substance of it is that there’s something rewarding to doing the unexpected.  There’s something rewarding in paddling 12 miles offshore, at the mercy of the elements, with day’s end promising “naught but a lukewarm meal on a soggy beach,” or a more soggy salt marsh:

But as it turns out, that’s the nature of pilgrimages.   They give us a break from “real life,” from the rat race that consumes so many lives today…  [T]hrough the raw experience of hunger, cold and lack of sleep, “we can quite often find a sense of our fragility as mere human beings, especially when compared with ‘the majesty and permanence of God.’”   In short, such a pilgrimage can be “‘one of the most chastening, but also one of the most liberating’ of personal experiences.”

As Wikipedia noted, such journeys – pilgrimages – can be to a “shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs,” or some other search “of moral or spiritual significance.”  (Wikipedia also noted that one “popular pilgrimage journey is along the Way of St. James to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, in Galicia, Spain,” but that’s a subject for future posts.)  

But perhaps the best answer – at least for people of a certain age – is simply to show that we can still do it.  Or as John Steinbeck said in Travels with Charley, too many men – as they get older – “hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood.”  But that wasn’t his way:

I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage…  If this projected journey should prove too much then it was time to go anyway.  I see too many men delay their exits with a sickly, slow reluctance to leave the stage.  It’s bad theater as well as bad living.

Or to put it simply:  I want to have these adventures before I get too old and decrepity.

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And incidentally, the photo below is another one I took near dawn on November 10, 2014. (That’s the day we did 17 miles in 11 hours, which amounted to some six hours of actual canoeing.)  Also, given the age of the “intrepid canoeists” it behooved us to learn – through “OJT“ – the technique of “siesta at sea.”  Note the calm water that is a necessity for such a siesta when you’re 10 or 12 miles out in the Gulf.  In other words, it pays to pace yourself

In further words, we’ll likely be taking plenty of siestas on the Camino de Santiago.

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November 10, 2014 photo IMG_4332_zps47e076b9.jpg

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The upper image is a photo I took near dawn on the morning of November 10, 2014.  (And incidentally, those are clouds on the horizon, not land.)  That day we got up and broke camp at 3:00 a.m.  We hit the water at 5:00 a.m. and paddled 17 miles in 11 hours, not counting an hour break on Cat Island, before proceeding to West Ship Island.  

For a longer version of this tale, see On canoeing 12 miles offshore, from May 2015.

The “pilgrim” image – to the left of the first paragraph in the main text – is courtesy of the Wikipedia article on the Camino de Santiago.  The caption:  “Way of St. James pilgrims (1568).”

Re:  “Calm water.”  The Gulf waters were so calm because we got up and broke camp at 3:00 in the morning.  Later on in the day – owing to increased wind and the heat of the sun – the waters in the Gulf of Mexico get way more roiled.

Re:  Siestas.  Wikipedia noted that such short naps include the “traditional daytime sleep of Spain,” while in America and other non-Mediterranean cultures the habit has caught on while being referred to as a “power nap.”  The article included the image at left, with the caption:  “A painting of a young woman taking a siesta,” or The hammockGustave Courbet (1844).

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden wrote and published it from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (Another way of saying 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 so many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  And for more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

July 4th: “God save the Queen?”

“American children of many ethnic backgrounds celebrate [July 4th] in 1902 Puck cartoon…”

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Walk, Don't Run.jpgWe know the song better as “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”  (The “lyrics of which were written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831.”)  

But in what was the old country – to most if not all Founding Fathers – the tune was called God Save the Queen.

(In a totally-unrelated side-note, Cary Grant and Jim Hutton sang the first verse – of My Country, ‘Tis of Thee – in the 1966 film “Walk, Don’t Run” – shown at left – “while simultaneously Grant and Samantha Eggar sang ‘God Save the Queen.'”)

There’s more about that incipient dichotomy further below, but first it should be noted that today is July 4th, and that’s better known as Independence Day.

Independence Day [commemorates] the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776.  The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire.

To repeat that last part:  What had been 13 American colonies “were no longer part of the British Empire.”  Which is another way of saying that “things had changed,” and that change was exemplified by our singing My Country, ‘Tis of Thee, not God Save the Queen.

And now a word about Puck, the magazine…

The source of the cartoon at the top of the page – Puck – was the “first successful humor magazine in the United States of colorful cartoonscaricatures and political satire of the issues of the day.  It was published from 1871 until 1918.”

Did you get that last?  Political satire!

Which is another way of saying that any real American will always retain his or her sense of humor, up to and including the ability to laugh at himself.  (Or herself.)  And that’s another way of saying that no real American will ever be too thin-skinned to do his job.  (Or hers.)

Not that that observation applies to current events or anything…  

But before getting back on track, here’s a note for those who think emoticons were literally or figuratively “invented yesterday.”  (Or at least only in this century.)  The illustration at right is from the March 1881 edition of Puck magazine.

Which just goes to show that there’s nothing new under the sun.  But now:  Getting back on track…

Last July 5th, I posted On the Independent Voter.

The key point I made – last year at this time – was the growing refusal to compromise in politics, “and compromise is the keystone of a American democracy.”  That in turn has led to the growth of black and white thinking.  “Psychologists call that splitting, or ‘the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole.'”

And that in turn has led to the growth of the “Independent voter,” and just in time…

That is, there seems to be a growing fallacy – among Conservatives – that they are the only real Americans.  See for example Conservatives Who Believe in ‘Trumpism:”

The number of high-profile conservative commentators who enthusiastically support Donald Trump is relatively small.  But the number of high-profile conservative commentators who enthusiastically support “Trumpism” is higher.  Trumpism is the belief that Trump’s followers constitute the “real America” and that anyone who does not validate their grievances is an elitist who neither understands nor cares about ordinary folks.

Which leads to this “something to think about.”  If the Founding Fathers had been Conservative, we wouldn’t be celebrating the Fourth of the July today, would we?

We’d all be singing “GOD SAVE THE *&^%$ QUEEN!”

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God Save the Queen

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The upper image is courtesy of Independence Day (United States) – Wikipedia.  

Re: Americans’ ability to laugh at themselves.  See the quote from Desi Arnaz at American people have the ability to laugh at themselves:  “American people have the ability to laugh at themselves.  It is one of the things that makes this country the great country that it is.”  See also Why Laughing at Yourself May Be Good for You.

Re:  Nothing new under the sun.  See also Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Re:  Refusal to compromise.  See The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It, and/or The Spirit of Compromise.

The lower image is courtesy of God Save the Queen …vantagefx.com.  The link is to an article posted February 23, 2016:  “Brexit Odds and Oil Speculation.”