Tuesday, June 29, 2010

paddling: Seattle to San Diego - Margo Pellegrino

I'm interrupting the normal tuesday postings for something I think is important. This post is long, but well worth the read!

There's been quite a bit of news lately about the world's salt water, especially the Gulf of Mexico. So it's timely that one woman is about to start a 2 month paddle from Seattle to San Diego as a way to raise awareness about the state of the oceans.

We (our family) are scheduled to leave on 7/9 for a semi-annual reunion trip down to the Gulf Coast on the Florida Panhandle, and that's one more reason why I think Margo's trip is important. We'll be there to "enjoy" the realities of the ongoing oil spill. I can't help but wonder how many of the "Drill baby, Drill!" proponents are rethinking their stance these days. Fewer than I'd hope, probably. But back to Margo.

Margo Pellegrino has already paddled from Miami to Maine, and along the length of the Gulf Coast in similar quests, and now she's about to do this, starting from my outrigger club's "beach" on Lake Union.

Margo starts on her paddle on 7/3 and a number of us will accompany her west to the Ballard Locks. She'll go on from there to cross the Sound and end her first day at Port Ludlow. Which, for those of you who aren't familiar with this area, is a hell of a long paddle for a single day. And it's only the beginning for Margo.

One other thing: This trip is largely self-funded. Margo has been the beneficiary of some donations of equipment, but the actual costs of the trip are being carried by the Pellegrinos. There's a link at the bottom of this page if you feel inclined to support her effort.

I've not yet met Margo, but I had the pleasure and honor to "interview" Margo through email about her Pacific Coast paddle, and have condensed that exchange in this post.

The Trip and Why

I started by asking Margo to briefly describe her trip and why she's making it. "I'm paddling from Seattle to San Diego in an effort to reach as many folks as possible to educate them about the problems facing the ocean as well as solutions through a sustained media campaign.

"While the ocean is a pretty big place it's definitely facing a crisis on a variety of levels. We can either keep going in the direction we're going, and mess things up to the point of no return, or we can do something different and fix things. I'm hoping to generate some press and attention on the many problems our ocean faces, and what we can do to make things better.

"I also hope to get folks excited about exploring their section of this watery planet-the best way to protect something is to get everyone to value it, and in order to get folks to get folks to value it, we need more of 'em out there experiencing and enjoying it."

The trip is roughly 1500 miles and will take her about two months, "conditions permitting." To plan the trip she's used Google Earth and contacts at various Surfrider chapters, environmental organizations and paddling clubs. "Nothing beats local knowledge, especially from paddlers and surfers," she says.

She leaves Seattle from the Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club Beach on Lake Union (Waterway 18) on July 3, hoping to be joined by as many paddlers as possible.

"Saturdays are generally bad press days, but I really want to paddle with folks for this kick off, and Saturday is the best day to do it."


When I asked about preparation for the trip, she was modest, but her numbers reveal a lot. She tries to run 5 miles a day and paddle 5, with longer (20 - 50 miles) paddles on weekend days. She also bikes when she can, mentioning doing 100 miles on her mountain bike and then qualifying this with a comment that "you can do anything if you go slow enough".

Gear and Equipment

Margo will be paddling a Pueo from Kamanu Composites, using Kialoa paddles. For safety she'll have a PFD that was originally donated by MTI for her Miami to Maine paddle and, she says, is showing how well it's been used, including as a bumper when she ties her canoe up. She'll also carry a personal location beacon, a VHF radio and a waterproof cell phone. When paddling she'll have a GPS (which she tries not to look at before noon), one water bag, and snacks to eat while under way. She'll stop each night, staying with people along the way or camping where necessary.


Margo will have a "chase car" following her as much as possible on shore, and hopes to also line up a few escort boats in case of unexpected weather changes.

And though she's paddling alone in an OC1, she says this is not a one-person paddle. "In no way do I look at this an an individual endeavor. This trip could not be done without the aloha spirit of many, and the ocean-loving ohana of paddlers, surfers, and those that just love the ocean."

When the weather turns bad, she says that for the most part she will continue on. "Most of the time there's no option but to keep going.... If you haven't left the dock yet, you stay put. If you're out, you hope you can get in when things settle down. Generally, you have to push through."

She will rely on her chase car for help with landing logistics, especially if things don't go as planned. "If things kick up, I might have to cut a paddle short... if I can get in. That's where having a chase car partner is so crucial."

In the car will be June Barnard, who's hiked most of the West Coast, along the coat and can provide some valuable insight as far as landing options go.

The Trip Itself

You can see details about the trip, as well as a map with tentative stopping spots on Margo's web site:


Some of the legs she has planned are long paddles. To give you some idea of the size of the bites Margo is willing to take chew, on her first day she plans to paddle from Lake Union to Port Ludlow. That's out through the Ballard Locks, across the sound, and north beyond the Hood Canal Bridge. And that's her first day! She hopes to reach California by late July (7/22).

When I asked how she prepares for long paddling legs, she said she likes to "eat a lot and drink a ton of orange juice. Food like ice cream that is also a liquid is like wonder food."

She likes to start as early as possible each day. "Start as early as possible and don't look at the GPS until noon. The earlier the start the better."

As far as challenges while on the water, she says "On the ocean it's very mental. The swells can lull you into a trance, and sometimes for no reason you can freak yourself out.... I think the biggest challenges are going to be staying warm (at least my feet) and coming in [landing]."

As far as concerns, she says that it comes down to "cold water, those 20 footers that sometimes come from the Andalusians... the rocks along the coast and of course the fog!! Oh yeah, and the guys in the gray with the really pointy teeth!"

Family as Motivation

Married, Margo has 2 young children who serve as a primary motivator for her paddling trips.

"I've always been aware of stuff, and always been disturbed by the folks that take our oceans for granted and just trash it in a variety of ways, but I really got serious about [doing something] after having my kids. After all, it's not like we'll probably leave them a ton of money, but the
least we can do is leave our resources the way we found 'em.... How could I not? I want the world to be perfect for my kids! Don't you? I guess I figured that this is one thing I could do to make a difference -- it's kind of like getting the most bang for your buck.

"I hope to get folks to think about what challenges they can make for themselves to make things better for our ocean --and our future."

Another motivation is the example her father provided her. "He always said, 'Don't just talk about it, do it.'... I feel I need to carry out his legacy, although I will in no way ever be the amazing kind of person he was. He was just a sponge for information and knowledge."


Margo's web site (she'll be blogging about the trip as she goes)

Margo's support page (you can make a donation here)

Blue Frontier Campaign:

Monday, June 28, 2010

family: ...the city sleeps, because there's nothing else to do...

I had a revelation a few nights ago, and when I say "revelation" I don't mean in the best sense of the word. I mean it in the "oh crap!" sense.

A morning conversation:

M: Boy, you sure were tossing and turning last night.
me: Hmm... I think I need another pillow. My shoulders hurt when I sleep on my side, especially after a hard paddling workout.
M: You have 3 pillows now.
me: Actually, only 2. I never take that middle one because I figure L is going to be needing it when she comes in....

Sudden brain flash!: I'm leave one of my pillows untouched b/c I expect L to come into our bed and use it at some point every night! Something is out of whack here.

And just in case you imagine that my out-of-whack-ness has no grounding in reality, I offer another, related sleep-in-our-bed conversation I overheard:

M: L, please don't pick your nose.
L (finger in her nose): I not picking my noth.
M: Because I don't want buggers in my bed.
L: In MY bed?
M: This is MY bed.
L: Thith your bed?
M: Yes. Where's your bed?
L (smiling): Thith my bed!
M: (eyes roll)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

family: ...mistakes, i've made a few...

Another in a (sure to be) continuing series of posts.

The Evidence
(taken as a reminder)

A couple of weeks ago, K & L were busy at the kitchen table, drawing. Things were going fairly well, in spite of the fact that earlier in the afternoon things hadn't been quite so happy. K had spent the entire day at school (still only a Mon/Weds occurrence) and that is guaranteed to tire her out. L had spent the day at Miss Ronda's daycare, also guaranteed to exhaust her. I'd been at work, which... never mind.

Anyway, we'd had our bumps that afternoon and I was madly trying to get dinner made while hoping to avoid parking the girls in front of a Saddle Club episode. I'm not the best at coming up with alternative activities when it's raining outside and we're all tired, but on this particular day they'd found paper and pens and were drawing.

Drawing is an activity fraught with potential pitfalls: pens being used by one girl and wanted ("needed!") by another, holes torn in paper, marks (inadvertently and vertenly) made on bench cushions, circles that refuse to be perfectly round, squares that refuse to be perfectly square....

We were walking on thin ice. But walking....

K asked me to draw her a horse. I dried my hands and did my best, then returned to dinner preparation.

There was some discussion behind me that went like this:

K: L! Stop it!
L (silent, but clearly not stopping whatever it was):
K: Stop it!

I heard a tone in K's voice that suggested to me she now had a look in her eyes that precedes a physical response to her sister. As I turned I saw her hitting L. L, seeing me watching, started to cry.

me: K, what are you doing?
K (holding out the paper with the horse I'd sketched): She's crumpling this!
me: L, why are you crumpling it?
K (turning on her sister): Don't do that! (hitting again)
me: K! No!
K (still hitting): Don't do that!
L: waaaaaaah!!!!!
me: Stop it!
K (still hitting): She's crumpling it!
me (stomping over there): Here, give that to me! (grabbing the sketch) I can do that! (crumpling the paper into a little ball and throwing it across the room)
K & L: (stunned eyes watching)
me: (embarrassed silence)
K: Waaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!
L: Waaaaaaah!
me: (embarrassed silence)

a few moments pass

K (through tears): Why you did that Daddy?
L: Waaaahhhh!
me: I shouldn't have K. I made a mistake.
K (still crying): Parents aren't supposed to make mistakes.
me: Parents try hard not to make mistakes, but we do. We make mistakes. I apologize. I shouldn't have done that.

The next 5 minutes were spent calming girls down, drawing another horse on a new piece of paper, talking with L about not crumpling her sister's belongings, apologizing again to K, and finally turning once more to dinner prep. I may have also started a Saddle Club. I don't remember.

Friday, June 25, 2010

family: .... ride, sister ride, upon your...

... mystery.... horse?

Probably enacting some important scene
(from some important episode of S.C.)

There are few things that make me smile as much as watching K&L playing together. They most often do it well, with an occasional hiccup. And when they're doing well, they do so well:

But most importantly, enjoying each other's company

This is the kind of Saddle Club I can really get behind!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

photo thursday: hair today...

First braids, courtesy of Kathleen
(they stayed in approximately 5 minutes)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

family: ... little darlin' ...

It's the longest day of the year.... or it was on Monday. So happy solstice! The sad part of the solstice, for me, is that now the days are officially getting shorter. And we haven't had much of a spring around here.

Anyway, to celebrate, both girls' sleeping patterns are completely screwed up.

Noise Makers on the Back Deck

Sunday night we had neighbors over, and the girls had a great time with a 3 yo boy and a 9mo baby, but they also were not in bed until nearly 9pm. Usual bedtime is anywhere from 7.15pm to 8.15 (with L sometimes pushing closer to 9pm). Then, they were both up relatively early on Monday. No sense wasting that longest day daylight! I think L got up around 5.15a and K around 6a.

Which wasn't as bad as it might sound because Lucy the Dog starts getting up around 4a when she thinks it's time for breakfast (the fault of my odd schedule -- at least a couple of days a week I'm up at 4a to eat and feed her and get to work by 5.30a. The problem is, she doesn't understand the difference between a Monday morning and, say, a Wednesday morning. Fed once at 4.15a, she "gets" that this is breakfast time.)

Anyway, the girls are up early after a late night. And that means they are basket cases by late afternoon. Tears all around. Tears for dropped pens, tears for folded papers, tears for markers that don't work, and tears for cheese on the chicken. It's like a tear-festival, but somewhat lacking in festivity.

At one point I sat with both girls in melt-downs at the dinner table, Lucy the Dog circling beneath them for scraps, not unlike a shark circling a boat about to toss chum out into the water except the only chum being tossed was non-edible napkins, dish cloths, and a pacifier, everything, in short, that L could get her hands on. And I ate my cheesy chicken and beans and rice.

Then, of course, L needed something to suck on and hold and her meltdown shifted into overdrive and her pacifier and bunny were under the table.

So I shouldered LtD out of the way and retrieved both, pulled L into my lap, and just went back to eating my own dinner while she and her sister continued to cry. Eventually L asked what I was putting into my mouth, and then she wanted to "twy" it and she did and decided she liked it and so ended up eating off my plate for the rest of the meal. Success! (?) She wanted to drink out of my water, so I sacrificed that as well, and then K did, and then they both wanted their own water....

All this isn't the point though. What I'm getting at is that at 3.30a this morning M and I were woken up by both girls: L calling "MommyDaddyMommyMommy" and K just yelling. M got up, opened our bedroom door, and there was K. I picked her up and she told me she wanted to snuggle with someone so I stood with her while M talked to L.

M: You need to go back to bed.
L: In your bed?
M: In your bed.
L: waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Eventually M&L ended up in our bed, and I ended up with K in her bed. Where I "slept" for about an hour before I realized she was now asleep and I was able to slip out and back into "my" bed where L was sprawled so that I had to shoulder her out of the way in order to make enough space to lie down.

It's at times like these that I try to remember something a good friend told me after the final time his daughter (now a young teenager) asked him to snuggle up with her. He was busy, and she was old enough not to "need" snuggling, so he didn't snuggle. But since then he's realized that she is unlikely to ever ask him to snuggle with her again, and he regrets not taking that opportunity to do so one last time.

So, I try to remind myself that K and later (probably much later) L will not want to snuggle with me forever, and that I should take advantage of the opportunities now. Even at 3.30a in the morning on the night after the longest day of the year.

Even if it makes the next day seem longer still....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

family: ... i remember when...

it's another celebrity double (vaguely) tuesday!

A relatively restrained pair of glasses

No hat, no piano, and yet...

Or perhaps this is a better match?

As a bonus, I include the below pairing. I can't articulate just why I feel L looks like Margaret Dumont, but if you doubt it, come spend some time with L and then watch a couple of Marx Brothers movies.

She's always so proper
(and always at Groucho's mercy)

Proper in her own special way
(note the reading material)

Still here? Well how about a bonus bonus:

Think of Lucy-the-Dog as Groucho
(or think of our entire family as the Marx Brothers!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

family: ... and we change....


(a snippet of quality conversation, from our family to yours....)

Diaper Change for Elliott
(done on the sly, while K's away!)

I am regularly reminded that though L has a lot of words, there is a tenuous connection between those words and their various meanings. She's an awesome mimic, but frequently misuses or confuses phrases. I'm hoping this is a passing phase, or she'll have a hell of a time on her SATs.

scene: the girls both changing baby diapers. M reading the paper.

L: K, is your baby's diaper going to change you?
K (looking up): huh?
L: is your baby's diaper going to change you?
K (annoyance in her voice): what?
L: is your baby's diaper going to change you?
K (pushing her sister): leave me alone!
M (lowering the paper): hey, no K!
L (seemingly unfazed): is you baby still in a diaper?
K: how many times do I have to tell you?

Well, more times than you have, apparently.

Freshly changed
(and no sister in sight)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

family: ... I want to hold your....

... reins.

I've not posted much about Saddle Club lately, though it's not due to lack of interest on the part of the girls. I haven't been consciously avoiding doing so either. I think rather this shift reflects an attempt by M and me to redirect some of the girls' attention to other things in life.

L, channeling how I feel
(about the second season of S.C.)

K got the second season for her birthday, and the girls have been indulging almost exclusively on those 3 discs since then. And yes, I still feel like watching every day is a bit much, and when we can we distract them with outside play and skip the video.

Key phrase: when we can. It's been pretty wet/cold/gray/miserable here this spring (which means it's pretty much been the usual spring around Seattle). And when it's nasty out and we're all tired of being inside, the natural thing to do is to turn to an odd series set in Australia, about 3 girls who love horses and get into all kinds of binds. But you know all this from conscientiously reading my blog.

What you don't know is that there are some significant differences between the first and second seasons of S.C.

For one: The production value seems to have dropped significantly. I'm not sure if it's the original filming, or just the transfer of the discs we bought, but the second season has that flat in-studio video tape look I associate with bad soap operas and low-budget cooking shows. Where the first season looked like it was actually shot on film, the second looks like someone took their 1980's era video tape camera and taped the shows. Bleah!

(Note: I'm not sure the girls notice or care about this.)

For two: The actors are all older (well, duh Daddy!), and the plots are less focused on horses and more focused on boys. Which is all fine. I fully expect that at some point in K & L's lifetime they will be (briefly) focused on boys (briefly, until they realize how dumb boys can be, at which point they'll return to more important things like.... horses?). But not at 2 and 4.

Honestly, they don't understand the nuances (and I use that term loosely) of the relationship stories being played out in the second season. And when they want to know what's happened, it's hard for me to know how much to try and explain.

K (after a show is over): Daddy, tell what happen in that one.
me: Uh, Stevie likes Phil, but he's shy, and ...
K: Why 'shy?'
L: Why thy?
me: ... and Prancer is sick so they think he might have a virus...
K: No! It Comanche.
me (of course!): Right. Comanche! She's sick and they think...
K: No Daddy! Comanche is a boy.
L: Comanche a boy Daddy!!
me: Right. He. He's sick and they think...
L: Why thick Daddy?
me: Uh... well, I guess he just got something...
L: Like maybe a viruth?
me: Sure, like a virus, except it isn't the virus because that's what they think he has and if he did they would need to ... well, destroy him....
K: What 'destroy him' mean?
L: What dethroy him mean Daddy?
me: Uh... well, he doesn't really have a virus.
K: He sick because he ate that grass that Melanie and Ashley let him eat.
me: That's right. The field is newly mowed and they let Prancer eat...
K: Not Prancer! Comanche!!
me: Right. Comanche. They let him eat that grass and he gets sick.
L (snuggling against me): Hmm....
K: Why Phil shy?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

photo thursday: ... these feet are made for...

... resting...

from the where we live series:

Water Taxi, heading home
(friday afternoon)

I noticed this woman running for the boat on the Seattle side of the commute. She made it, but not by much. Later, she climbed upstairs to the open area and sat down across a couple of the benches. It seemed like she'd had a long week. Me too. But I still grabbed a shot of her shoes.

There's something about this that reminds me of the legs on the Wicked Witch of the East. Which is not to say that the woman reminded me of anyone. Except of myself. Tired from the week.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Definitions: cambra / windthield

another double-definition tuesday!

cambra - noun, a device for taking photos of ones feet (and other things).


me (hopping up off the floor): Let me take your picture.
L: You going to take our picthure Daddy?
me: Yeah, if you don't go anywhere.
L: You getting your cambra Daddy?
me (coming back into the kitchen): Yup, got it.
L: I want to take a picthure!
me: Well, I want to take a picture of you girls.
L: But I want to take a picthure Daddy!
me: Ok. Let me take a couple first.
L: I can use your cambra by mythelf!

Thelf portrait, w/ Ceiling
(taken with daddy's cambra)

windthield - noun, a toy that spins when you blow on it. Sometimes used as tacky garden decorations.


L (waking from her nap): Daddy? Where my windthield?
me: ???
L: Where my windthield, Daddy?
me (picking her up out of her crib): Your windshield?
L: Yeah, my windthield. I want it.
me (carrying her downstairs): M, she wants her "windshield?"
M: Oh, it's on the couch.
me: ????
M: Windmill. They got windmills today.
me: Oh. (carrying L back to the living room)
L: Thea it ith!

Monday, June 14, 2010

family: ... when you're down, and troubled...

I've been thinking about support networks lately, and this seems like a topic worth covering with respect to kids.

Refueling the Confidence Tank

I'd say that it's a fairly basic truth that when our world is shaken, by external or internal forces, we humans need some support. We can't manage alone. Humans are social creatures, and if you know me and know my tendency, you understand that coming from me, this statement is significant. I'm a real introvert in most cases, but over time I've realized that this doesn't equate to not needing other people. I need people. I just also need my quiet time to recharge.

It's pretty simple for most of us, at least at the start. As babies our primary support network is our mother (and to a lesser extent, father). As small kids, when we're scared, upset, angry, in need, we turn to a parent. (And when we're upset or angry with one parent, we turn to the other. And sometimes get what we want!)

As time goes on, we (hopefully) develop additional support: siblings, peers, team members, school friends, work associates, partners....

One reason this is all in focus for me is that we had layoffs at work last week, and as a result, I lost a key member of my support network there. The sense of disorientation was significant, and it sent me reeling to my non-work support (family and friends). My weekend was full of distractions and upheaval, things that didn't directly relate to work but that were influenced due to my personal sense of distraction.

The thing is, as a parent, I can't afford to spend too much time being distracted or unavailable, because my kids need me for their own support. Kids look to their parents to be stable and reliable and constant. (Little do they realize just how little in this world actually is stable/reliable/constant!)

I don't know much about theories of growth and maturation, but it seems obvious to me that to be able to push the limits (riding a bike to the opposite side of the park, going and talking to a new girl in the sandbox, sitting down and trying to fit puzzle pieces together) a kid needs to know that they have someone watching their back. In case the bike falls and they skin their knee. In case the girl isn't friendly. In case the pieces refuse to go together.

So, on the best of days, I try to be there whenever there's a kid crisis. And there are many. Everything from not knowing where a dolly is, to not being able to fit the cap back on a lipstick. Getting pushed by a sister. Slipping off a rocking horse. Being unable to draw a "perfect" window or pumpkin or computer.... everything that sets a girl back is less significant when you know someone is watching out for you.

I hate the idea that there are things I can't make right, and that there will be times when I won't be able to catch K or L when they want/need to be caught. But the reality is, I'm not going to be able to, and I already can't.

I'm sometimes short with one of the girls when what they need is comfort or just to know that, yes, Daddy is here. More so when I'm wrestling with grownup things.

Just a reminder to myself: I've got an important job I need to give my attention to, and it's not the one I ride the bus into every morning.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Aloha Friday Spam: ... thanks for asking...

(from the Messages I didn't Bother Reading files)

My recent in-box

And the answer to your question is: "Not a whole lot, but I'm ok with that."

(In fairness, this isn't really spam, in that I have ordered from Title 9 many times, and am on their email list by choice. Great company, great products. Just not a very well targeted email blast....)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

photo blog:...hey window pane, do you remember...

Can I just say:

View from my office window
(well, not my window, but a window near my windowless desk)
(and though this was taken in Feb, it could just as easily
have been taken this week....)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

paddling: ... the hand that feeds me....

Last night I went out with "the Dougs" for a long paddle.

DougN (just back from Europe) and I took his OC2, while DougM went in DougN's OC1. We headed south in calm weather, and I felt pretty good as we started out.

DougM had the hard challenge: he needed to keep up with us. 1 person paddling alone is generally not as fast as 2 people paddling together.

But, he managed. Managed very well.

Neither DougN nor I had our GPS units, so we were reliant on DougM's. Our set was 1 mile on/ 1 minute off.

Early on, DougM said we were cruising. He was averaging 6.9mph and we were going a bit faster than that. I felt good, the boat felt like we were powering it nicely. DougM managed to keep up by drafting behind us, and because we would occasionally make a course deviation that added some distance to our paddle while DougM continued on straight.

The water was smooth and made for nice paddling. I enjoy the times when it's possible to sense the speed you're going because you can feel the hull passing over/through the water. If there are any swells or chop it confuses the smoothness of the ride and makes it more difficult to pick up any sense of speed, even if you are going quickly.

We got to I90 and beyond, but not all the way down to Stan Sayres. We turned around after 6 1mile segments (DougM's gps said we'd done 7.4, including warmup). I wasn't sorry to be turning back.

Luckily, the weather held, the wind nonexistent, the only swells being those coming from distant passing boats. There were some rain showers off in the foothills to our right, and DougN saw lightning there as well. I was focused on staying on the boat and staying regular with my stroke.

Later, DougM was doing a better job at staying with us, and I was getting tired. We paddled and rested and paddled and the 520 bridge came closer and then we were under it and headed west at last.

I didn't realize just how tired I was until we got back to the beach and I felt almost 100% wiped out. It was all I could do to help pack away the OC2, get my stuff, pull off the neoprene and pull on my clothes.... I felt more exhausted than I have in some time, and it was a bit confusing. DougM and I have done several OC2 workouts, including 2 down to Stan Sayres, and in both we'd kept up an nice even 6.9mph pace. Even during the 2 week period when I felt tired all the time, I was able to get in good workouts on the water, but this time.... Well, it wasn't that we hadn't had a good workout. It was how I felt after that workout.

I felt done. Toast. Roasted.

Then it occurred to me: Food. I didn't have any before the workout.

I'm now coming to paddle from work, rather than going home first. And that means I'm not getting the opportunity to fuel up (on leftover oatmeal, cold pesto pasta, pizza.... whatever is lying around). So last night I was doing my workout on a peanut butter sandwich eaten at 3p. We started paddling around 6p and finished around 8.30p. My tank was empty.

You can tell I wasn't producing by looking at the decreasing speeds for our sets (from DougM's gps -- he was tracking right behind us for the most part, so these apply):

family: ... sunshine on my shoulder...

(calm before some storm)

I never planned on having kids. Never thought I'd want them. Never considered them necessary. I didn't need them. But there was one unrealistic scenario I carried in my imagination, in case I ever did have kids:

I'd sit on the back deck steps with the Sunday comics, my daughter sitting between my legs, and we'd be reading the cartoons together. In the sun.

Not sure where this notion came from, but when I think about it, the convergence of things necessary to make it happen seem highly unlikely:
  1. Gotta have a back deck.
  2. Gotta have a kid.
  3. Kid's gotta be a daughter.
  4. Gotta have the Sunday paper.
  5. Gotta have a sunny Sunday (this might be one of the most unlikely-to-be-achieved requirements)
Yet they're all there in my current life. I've got every one of them in place. (Except the sunny Sunday. That's always touch and go around here, mostly go lately.) And what the hell! K actually wants me to read the comics to her. You see, I'm the only one in the house who looks at them. M thinks they're a waste of time. If she could get the paper without the comics, she probably would. It'd be more environmentally sound, for one thing.

Anyway, my fantasy is in reach, I can realize this long-held daydream!

So here's the problem: When I look at the funnies with an eye toward reading them to K, I realize that M is right -- the comics suck. They're not funny. They're badly written and frequently don't make any sense. They. Are. Stupid.

Which means that either:
  • I've got to discard my long-held and entirely preposterous dream of reading the comics to my daughter (and disappoint K in the bargain)


  • I've got to read them to her and then try to explain why some woman with big badly drawn hair is happy to have said a lot of rude things to a co-worker about the co-worker's boyfriend, or why some fat man is yelling at his wife about the cat sitting on his lounge chair
In a phrase, I'm up a creek.

Except, luckily, there's a 3rd option. Luckily I married M. Here's what she came up with (and remember, she doesn't even like to look at the comics!):
  • Make up a story that (roughly) fits the drawings.
I've really got to give M credit. She did this on the fly, creating a story about a baby that was hungry and needed a diaper change (the actual storyline involved a conversation between two women about why husbands are never aware of all the things that need doing around the house, I think. I don't know. I'm a husband).

If you've been following along, you know that any story about a baby or a diaper, or a baby and a diaper, or a horse, or a baby and a horse and a diaper, is inherently of interest to K.

Problem solved! At least as long as we're willing to come up with some creative story lines.

New problem: You have to remember what you said the last time you "read" the comics to the girls, because they tend to bring those pages back to you later that day, or the next day, or even well into the week, and want to hear the story again. And they remember the crazy things you told them!

Let's just say that I'm still learning my way around this issue.

Monday, June 7, 2010

family: ... i can't stand the rain...

These seem to fairly well sum up our spring (though to be fair, we had a beautiful Saturday this weekend).

And with a layoff at work last Friday, it feels more appropriate that ever....

A sweater and blurry windows...
(a Seattle near-summer)

I don't generally mind the rain, though I frequently miss the sun and light (more so than the warmth) of Hawaii. But now, with small kids, I find the long stretches of rain really wear me down. Everyone gets cabin fever, even when M and I are willing and even eager to get out. I've been paddling in all weather, but when the girls have been cooped up inside for several days on end, we all suffer.


Dear Summer,

I need you to consider our needs and our general good nature and please deliver us some good weather. June 10 - Oct 10 would be nice. If not I may need to come and kick your ass.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

family: mama's got a brand new (borrowed) bag....

L and I spent some time this week going through a purse she's borrowed from M. This purse was borrowed some time ago, then went missing, and recently showed up once more. Also showing up was the wallet M has been looking for, containing at least one credit card and her Block Buster membership card (now virtually irrelevant given NetFlix).

So, I got home from work and L came downstairs with the big black purse slung over her shoulder. She can take up to 3 steps before it falls off, at which point she hauls it back up onto her tiny sloping shoulder and takes a few more steps. K is sleeping upstairs so we've got an opportunity for some father-second-daughter time.

L: Daddy, you want to thee what in my purth?
me: Sure.

We sit together on the kitchen floor.

L: It got lot of thuff in it.
me: Really?
L: Yeah. You want to feel how heavy it ith?
me: Sure. (lifting up the purse) Wow.
L: It heavy daddy. It really heavy.
me: Yeah, it is.
L (settling down again with the purse on her lap): You want to thee what in it?
me: I do.
L (working on the zipper): Thith is the hardeth part. It the hardeth part in the world.
me: Unzipping it?
L (still working at that zipper): Yeah. It hard daddy.
me: Let me know if you want some help.
L: I can do it daddy.
me: I know.

And she can. And she did.

It's hard work, carrying a purth

Thursday, June 3, 2010

photo thursday: ...lay your head....

... in my bubbles...

Bathing beauty, w/ bubbles

It doesn't get much better than lying down in warm, bubbly water when it's raining out and windy and you've had your dinner and there's a Berenstain Bears in the near future.

(Until your sister launches a tsunami that inundates your low-lying facial features! No pictures of that. I was too busy rescuing survivors.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

paddling: ...baby you can drive my...

.... canoe.


Heading out to do our race
(and looking surprisingly calm,
given that I felt like throwing up from nerves!)
On the other hand, this may be after
the race -- everyone seems to be backpaddling....

A quick post about our sprint regatta last weekend. It was a raining, cold, dreary Saturday on Memorial Day Weekend, and the big news for this one, at least for me, was that I actually steered a race. What was I thinking? Or more accurately, what was Melissa thinking?!?

(She said afterwards that she's got me figured out and knew I wasn't going to volunteer but needed a push, and I acknowledged that she probably did and was right, at which point I heard Sabine chuckle off to the side.)

It went... ok. We didn't win, but we didn't finish last, and everyone was supportive and encouraging, so as a first try it was a relatively painless one. I managed to keep the canoe online mostly. The lanes were pretty irregular, and the canoe tended to veer left, though I don't know if that was due to my steering or to it being unbalanced. But I did it, and we didn't huli, and I'll admit it felt satisfying afterward.

On the other hand, the 5 other paddlers got virtually no help from me. Good steersmen can paddle a fair amount, contributing to the forward progress of the canoe. "Less good" ones are busy using their paddle to keep the canoe going roughly in the right direction, and thus serving both as a dead weight and as a drag-inducing component (every time you use a paddle to steer, you create drag).

I've only steered a canoe a couple of times, once being early this year. That was in fact the only time I've steered this year.

The crew was filled primarily with men from Columbia River Outrigger Canoe Club, plus one new man who's joining SOCC. This was a novice men's race, 500 meters (that's important because it means I didn't have to do any turns!). They probably didn't know what they were getting into!

Luckily Melissa didn't tell me until well into the day that I was going to steer, so I had less time to stress and freak out.

Also luckily someone from CROCC got a few photos for proof (I don't think that's why he was taking them, but that's what matters to me):

Heading out to the starting line
(note that I'm "poking" my paddle
not paddling!)

A (probably) panicked correction
(moving the paddle to the right side
to over-correct my previous over-correction)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

definitions: unihorn / move thtill!

It's double-definition tuesday:

(note: this first one is so obvious as to be almost not worth mentioning, except that for some reason it doesn't appear in any dictionary....)

unihorn - noun, an imaginary animal that looks like a horse or "maybe a doggie?" and has a single horn growing out of its forehead. Usually accompanied by at least one rainbow, some sparkles in the air, and with a flowing mane and tail of white hair.


me (digging through the jammy drawer to find something that K will accept for the evening): K, how about a t-shirt?
K: Daddy, look at me!
me (not looking): K? T-shirt?
K: Daddy, I'm a unihorn.
L: Thee a unihorn Daddy!

both girls are still naked in a post-bath kind of way, and it's been a struggle to get them to this point. Still, I know that if I attempt to force either of them into an unacceptable pair of jammies, things will go down hill. (Note: "knowing" this doesn't necessarily mean I won't end up doing this, but it's worth mentioning.)

me: T-shirt?
K: Daddy. I'm a unihorn!
me (finally looking over at her standing in the corner next to L's dresser.): You're a...?
K (holding up a chapstick to her forehead): A unihorn Daddy. I have a horn on my head.
L (realizing what her sister is doing): That my lipthick K. That mine!
me: Nice.
L (starting to cry now): I want my lipthick!
K (dancing around): I'm a unihorn!
L (really crying): I want my lipthick!
me: K, give L her lipstick please.
K: But I'm a unihorn Daddy!
L (near-total meltdown): K! I want my lipthick!!
me (going over to K): You're a nice unihorn. Now give L her lipstick.
K (taking the chapstick from her head and throwing it): Here!
L (china syndrome, making a smooth bedtime look highly unlikely): Whaaaaaa!
me (picking up the chapstick): Here, L. Now K, what are you going to wear to bed?
K: I want my lipstick Daddy!

move thtill! - instruction, always spoken with urgency, when someone/thing/animal needs to remain motionless for reasons such as you are giving them a fresh coat of toe polish.


K (in bath, naked and spraying the finger nails of my left hand with water from a rubber fish): Don't move Daddy. This is toe nail polish. It's rainbow polish.
me (waiting patiently, trying to ignore the overspray hitting my shirt and face): Ok.
L (also in tub, also buck naked, focused on wrapping a wash cloth around my outstretched fingers): Daddy, move thtill! This toe polish!
me: Ok.
L: Cause this important. This toe polish and I doing it like thith.
K: You mean hold still L?
L: Yeah. Move thill!
K (spraying her sister with the fish): That not right.
me: It's right enough K.
L (still wrapping my fingers with a wet wash cloth): Yeah K, it right enough! Thop it! Daddy, K praying me!