26 December 2006

You'll shoot your eye out!

One of my favorite holiday movies was running for 24 hours straight on TBS yesterday: A Christmas Story. The really cool part is the Christmas gift that my parents gave me yesterday. A .36 caliber flint-lock muzzle-loader rifle. One of the first things my mom said to me was: "You be careful with that." I had to laugh.

You see, the cool part is that about 17 years ago, I purchased all of the required parts to build this little beauty myself. The problem only became apparent to me after I attempted and subsiquently broke the "high figure curly maple stock with tiger-stripes" It was then that my stomach became upset, and my energy level for this task took a nose dive. I put all the parts back into the box and slid it back between the floor joists at my parents house just above the basement work bench. I had thought about the rifle a few times since, but recently it had faded from memory.

My father sought out the expertise and craftsmanship of a local muzzle-loader builder, and had him finish the job for me. In retrospect, I could not have done this rifle justice. It now is a real work of art, that I am told performs wonderfully.

Just like in the movie, my parents let everyone open all of the gifts, and then after the last one was opened, they said that there was still one gift left, and sent me around the corner to get it. I was really surprised. I had not expected to ever see this rifle finished, let alone get it for a gift this Christmas. It is a really special gift for me.

27 November 2006

Tummy Time

Here is a picture for granny.

21 November 2006

Small World

It seems that videos of kayak rolling are in high demand. Here is a video of Alex Pak, I believe, unless I am mistaken, from across the Atlantic. I have found that the Internet is very useful for someone like myself who only reads, writes, and speaks a single language. So long as there is an online translator, I can read blogs from all over the world. It is continuing to become smaller and smaller every day. Here is the translated "kayak of sea: The kayak-blog of Oli". Here is the translated "The Life is to Whistle" blog of Carlos. Each of these blogs are viewed better in their native language, as the pictures, the grammar, and the page formats are much more pleasing to the eye. I only use the translator after I have viewed the pics first. Here are the links to the blogs in there native languages: kayak de mer: Le kayak-blog d'Oli and La vida es silbar.

20 November 2006

I'm Getting Better with My Digital Camera

Mommy and Maddie went to a baby shower on Sunday, and I had a couple of hours to go spend as I pleased. So I took my Canon 10D, as well as my Canon Elan II loaded with B/W film, and drove a little ways down the road to a small cross roads called Sharon Hollow. Here are some of the better digital pictures from my short trip. You'll have to wait a little longer for the film photos.

06 November 2006

Who's Your Daddy?

Here is a little side-by-side comparison of baby pictures. That's me on the left in 1967, and my new baby girl is on the right.

28 October 2006

I Like to Watch the Discovery Channel

This totally fascinated me.

A more sublime picture of Mommy and Maddie.
Madeline Fay, born by caesarian-section, 24 October 2006 at 4:35pm, 8 lbs 10 1/2 oz, 20 1/4 inches long. Everyone is doing great.

22 October 2006

Fall Paddle on Hudson Lake

I made it out paddling again. The colder weather and water hasn't chased me indoors yet. I met up with some friends from Indiana and paddled an old familiar lake again. Before I moved to my new house, I used to paddle Hudson Lake quite often. It used to be close to my old home, and its a PWC free, no-wake lake that is surrounded by state owned woods. This is the lake that Wes Boyd paddled very often, and wrote about on his web site Kayak Place. I have paddled with Wes numerous times in the past, but he was not there yesterday.
The fall colors are fading fast.
It started out as a gray day with a few rain drops, but we were all dressed for the occation. There were nine of us all together. We circumnavigated the entire lake, but took a break in the middle to heat up some chili and have a hot lunch.
This is a picture of my friend Barry. I met Barry in the summer of 2002, when a group of six of us took a trip to Drummond Island in northern Michigan. I also met up with Barry again in 2004 at Drummond.The sun did come out later in the day and warmed us up nicely. It was a great paddle day. I don't often get to paddle with others, and yesterday was a great change of pace for me. I think I am going to have to find some paddlers closer to home that I can meet up with more often....maybe start a club.

14 October 2006

Pull the Trigger, Quick!

Sometimes you can screw everything up taking the picture, and it still comes out kinda cool.

12 October 2006

Digital Photo Help

Wayfarer has a good post on Digital SLR picture taking. I'm linking to his links. I watched the Thomas Hawk videos, and found them to be very informative. I have some new things to try out with my Canon 10D soon. Oh yeah, Thomas' online photos are awesome as well.

08 October 2006

Last Paddle?

I hope today is not the last paddle for the season. The air was cool, but the sun was hot. The water was not unbearable to wade in, but I don't want to go swimming in it. Thermometer read 65 deg F water temp. There has already been a little frost on the pumpkins on a couple of mornings.

Our baby Madeline, is on the way, only five more weeks to go. Winter is just around the corner. I had better make the most of every day like today.

01 October 2006

New Wheels

Well, I didn't make it through the season before my cart broke. I had to fix it so that I could go paddle. Here is a picture of the new and improved version. I was able to reuse some of the old parts, and the new wheels make a lot more sense. They don't weigh as much, they don't need to be inflated, and they don't take up as much space. I simplified the design a little as well. The first test run today, worked out real nice.
Here are some pictures from my paddle today.

30 September 2006


Saturdays.......I love Saturdays.
It was cold and rainy this morning.
My wife didn't want me to go paddling alone - she was worried about me.:)
So I grabbed my cameras, and when for a drive.
Flowers beside the trail.

The trail.

Sand Hill Cranes.

The Grand River flowing through downtown Jackson, Mi. (Hint:You have to try very hard to keep the "urban" out of the frame.)

Fall color.

The old state prison.

17 September 2006


Paddle by your refuge.

Yeah, I set the alarm and got up early on my day off.

Yep, loaded the boat and drove an hour and a half, one way.

It was all going really well, until I showed up at the registration desk. That's when it hit me. There were about four times as many people as I had expected, and it looked like a three ring circus in the staging area and launch site. I don't do well with crowds, and I started feeling really anxious. I stepped back, and then went for a walk around the park, trying to calm down, and to let the crush at the desk let up a bit.

Big water spooks me as well, and the wind kept building.

Paddling with strangers kinda scares me too.

I know, they are all just excuses, but I freaked out anyway. I kept telling myself, that these are my kinda people, but sometimes it is easier to just hide behind the camera.

At least the pictures turned out well.

No. I didn't go paddle.

06 September 2006

Hunting Season

My dad found some old pictures, and had my brother scan them. We can only identify a few people in some of them though. My dad's uncle Charlie (my great-uncle) is the one on the left. He lived to be an old man, 91 or 92. He passed away in December of 2003.

I can remember the stories that various family members used to tell. It seems Charlie was the one who had to be the dog, when they went hunting without a dog. He would always be the one who had to slog through all of the dense cover to jump the birds out, so everyone else got to do the shooting. It would appear by this photo that he did infact get a bird once in awhile too. Dad told me that one time, when he was hunting with uncle Charlie, that they jumped a rooster pheasant, and my dad shot too quickly and missed, leaving him with an empty shotgun requiring reloading. He watched uncle Charlie take his time turning, and then carefully mount the shotgun to his shoulder, and then take careful aim and swing the correct amount of "lead", and only after my dad was sure that the rooster was too far out of range did uncle Charlie fire. Dad said it was so far away, that it took a second for the shot to cover the distance, before the pheasant was knocked end for end to the ground.

The last year of uncle Charlie's life he spent in a nursing home. It was a very nice nursing home, with no more than eight patients at the facility, the patient to staff ratio was never more than 3 to 1. Good old fashioned home cooking for meals, he said the food was his favorite part, and he even gained a few pounds while he was there. The family used to spread out our visit times, so he got a visitor almost every day. My day was Saturday mornings. We used to watch the hunting shows on cable TV, and he would ask me if I saw any pheasants or deer in the past week. Of course I always had a wildlife report for him each week.

I saw a 6-point buck running next to Fisher's cornfield along Wellsville hwy last Saturday. Not a big buck, but a "shooter".

01 September 2006

Dental Work Update

Hey, it only took eight months. I am finally done with my extensive dental work. It turns out that I was able to leave the lower wisdom teeth in. They are not causing me any problems, and removing them now may introduce new problems. All of my cavities, and old silver fillings that were deteriorating have been fixed. My upper wisdom teeth have been removed, without complications.

What you see above is my new crown, just before it was cemented in. The crown was the last item, and it still feels a little funny yet, but I am getting used to it. This tooth has been broken for several years now, and I lost a large chunk off of it about a year ago, so having a full tooth back again, is a strange sensation. My dentist referred to the root as being viable. That means that I still have a hot nerve, and that the tooth was not a total loss. What it also means is that it hurt like hell when she put the crown with cement on the post on the final time. It feels a lot better now.

Just prior to having my upper wisdom teeth pulled a month ago, I broke a decayed chunk off one of them as well, and it tore my cheek up for a couple of days, until I got tired of it and started wiggling it a bunch with my finger. I was actually out paddling in my kayak, when I had decided that I had had enough, so while sitting in my kayak, in the middle of the lake, I started pushing on that wisdom tooth with my finger again, hard enough this time to break the offending jagged piece off, further gaining me a lot of relief. I guess in retrospect, doing this on shore may have been at least a little more intelligent.

I think I am going to be a lot more diligent about seeing the dentist on a frequent and regular basis.

Live and learn.

29 August 2006

Paddlin' in the Rain

This post is a day late, because Blogger was being persnickety yesterday.

My wife thinks I'm nuts for paddling in the cold rain, but I told her that I was no more wet, than if I had rolled the kayak only once. I went paddling in the rain mostly because of the post that Bonnie had about her day in the rain. It was really enjoyable. I never heard a single boat motor for the entire three hours that I was out. I only saw three people, the whole time. I had the whole lake to myself.

When I got home I was treated to a fantastic post by Keith Wikle about his trip to Qajaq Training Camp. As a new father-to-be, I was particularly interested in what Keith said about family. For a long time I used to be the guy that was single and going where ever I wanted, and spending money on what ever I wanted, while all of my friends were at home with the kids. Now its my turn, and frankly, I am really excited about being a daddy. All of those bachelor years seem really hollow when I look back at them today. What did I accomplish? Being married and expecting a child feels like a much more rewarding way to live. Let's face it, even when I was single, I wasn't going to go paddle around South Georgia Island, or Newfoundland, or Madagascar. All of my paddling is a lot closer to home, and that's the way it will stay. As for my wife, she doesn't paddle, but she knows that I need to paddle, and provides me with plenty of opportunities to do so. I look forward to one day taking my daughter paddling with me. The hardest part will be leaving a nervous mommy on shore. =8^}

24 August 2006

Thunderstorm Racing

I paddled a leisurely three miles on my local lake tonight. I stopped at the county park and used the porta-can. After I stowed my sunglasses and hat, I donned my goggles and nose plugs and performed three extended paddle rolls just outside of the swimming buoys. I think that I have reached a plateau in my pursuit of rolling excellence. I need to seek out some expert advice on how to improve my rolling. I'm positive my rolls are not pretty, but they work. To steal a line from the movie "The Firm"- "It ain't sexy, but its got teeth." Oh well, I can work with teeth.

The total distance tonight was six miles however, and the return trip home was not so relaxing. After the rolling, I heard a "Thunder-dunder" off to the west. So I took a big swig from my water bottle and got down to a serious forward stroke. Heading westward, straight into the dark sky, I concentrated hard on a loose grip and lots of torso rotation, the good kind of torso rotation, from the core, below my navel. I covered the last three miles tonight in 35 minutes. That's a sustained average speed over 5mph. I even got a blister on the ball of my foot, from "peddling" the kayak, trying to fully transfer all of my forward motion to the hull. The cool part is I don't even feel sore now. I must have been doing it right!

I made it home before the bad stuff arrived. Just a few sprinkles, and the worst of the storm pasted to the north anyway. It was a good workout.

13 August 2006


A nice picture of a turtle. He held still for me to get real close...highly unusual. He only scrambled off the log, after I bumped the log gently with my bow.
A "stick bug" waiting for me when I got home. I don't know what they are really called, but it looks just like a twig. I had never seen one before this one, and then I saw two different ones, five minutes apart. I grew up in a small town, and I used to live in a highly farmed rural area, but now I live closer to the woods, and I get to see all kinds of wild critters.

09 August 2006


Hey go check out Kayak Place. It won't be around for very much longer. My friend Wes is going to let the lease run out on the site. Makes me kinda sad.

31 July 2006


Because I live so close to some great paddling water (about 300 yards), I built my own portage cart. Parts include 1 1/2 PVC, a "pool noodle", some steel pins with spring retainers, and a nice set of tires, that are too heavy, and too expensive. I originally found a couple of pictures on the web that gave me all of the required info. My little cart is working very well, but I have a couple of small manufacturing flaws that are resulting in a slow breakdown. The heavy wheels and my constant overloading of the cart put a lot of stress on the PVC where the retainer pins cross through, and the holes are tearing out. One day soon, it will need a serious rebuild. The cool thing is: I now know where I got the dimensions correct, and where I came up short. I just need to find a new set of wheels that are lighter in weight. This particular set actually have sealed ball bearings in the hubs. Total overkill. I just hope that it lasts until winter.

30 July 2006

Garbage Scow

Out paddling today, I picked up some trash. I guess it is unavoidable on lakes with so many cottages around them. Any time you have a lot of people around, you end up with a lot of trash too. I just wish people would be more careful, or would make a bigger effort to retrieve their trash. I can't help but remember the Pollution Prevention: Keep America Beautiful -- Iron Eyes Cody PSA

29 July 2006

Fish On!

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. ~Chinese Proverb

I went fishing with my brother today, that's him in the photo, with a real nice sunfish.

21 July 2006


The driver picked us up in a white, Lincoln Continental, stretch limo. Leaving the office at 11:00am on a Friday, feels a little naughty, but our plan, with this little field trip, was to enrich our creative process. Six packaging designers (a six pack?), two supervisors, and four digital cameras, all headed for the "big" city. The Ann Arbor Art Fair. (And this link too.) Our task was to collect as many images, and ideas, as we could for a new mood board at the office. It was also a great way to get the creative juices flowing again. There were plenty of great sculptures, pottery, paintings, drawings, and photography. There were also the typical elements that provide the chaotic carnival atmosphere that no one can seem to resist. Street performers, sidewalk vendors selling anything imaginable, and junk food galore. People watching at its best on the University of Michigan campus. It was a great way to spend an afternoon for work. Oh my head is sunburned, and my feet hurt, but I think our new boss is going to work out just fine. It is a tough job, but somebody has to do it. =8-}