Rick, Chris, and I kayaked the upper part of the Santa Fe River on Thursday (2 days ago). We started at the Highway 441 boat ramp and paddled upstream all the way to River Rise, which is a considerable paddle for a lightweight like me — against a good bit of current, about 3 miles.
River Rise is where the Santa Fe River comes back above ground after having gone underground for about a half mile or so. It’s remarkably un-spectacular, actually — no torrent of water bubbling out of the ground like a huge fountain, no vortex, no maelstrom. The river just stops, there’s some land, and there’s no apparent activity. It’s the same on the other end where the river goes underground — it’s just no longer there, and again no maelstrom spinning unsuspecting boaters or swimmers around and sucking them into the earth.
Of course, the way back to the boat ramp was much easier, being downstream with a good current. We saw the usual dozens of turtles, a few nice birds, hawks and herons, and one 5-foot alligator. The gator was sunning himself on the bank, and I happened to be closest, maybe 15 feet away. As I drifted by, Mr. Gator slipped into the river and went under; of course,
I had fantasies & fears that he was going to come back up fast and jump into my kayak. But never saw him again.
The picture above is not the gator we saw Thursday, but the one we all saw (Pam and I, Nancee, Lauren, and Lee) in the Spring of 2010 on the banks of the Santa Fe River. No one noticed until later (when Pam looked at the picture on her large Mac monitor) that Mama Gator had a lot of baby gators on her or near her — outlined in blue, all 9 of them. Wow, 10 gators all at once!
As you might know (don’t remember if I’ve posted about this), I’m now reading a combination of books on paper, books on my MacBook Air Kindle app, and books on an actual Kindle. I downloaded the Kindle app around last Christmas, when Head Butler Jesse Kornbluth posted a link — he’d done a revision of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” (shortened it about 45% to make it go down easier when reading it to little kids, starting with his daughter).
Jesse’s “A Christmas Carol,” with some new illustrations for this edition, was available on Amazon, and their Kindle app download was also there. I was amazed — a few bucks for the book, nothing for the Kindle app, and within 90 seconds I was reading it, loving it (and you should get it — “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, edited by Jesse Kornbluth, illustrations by Paige Peterson).
Quickly I got into the rhythm of downloading books to my Kindle app and reading on the computer (combined, still, with reading books on paper). And then in April Pam gave me a Kindle for my birthday. Surprised, I asked why I’d need a Kindle when I had a Kindle app on the Macbook. The answer was two-fold: first, you can read the Kindle outdoors, on the beach, because the screen is sort of gray — in fact, as almost everyone knows, you need some kind of light to read on a Kindle at all. And second, if I drop my $1400 Macbook Air in the water, it’s a tragedy, while drowning the $80 Kindle isn’t such a big deal.
Last Thursday (October 11th) was Elmore Leonard’s birthday (he’s 87), so in his honor I downloaded two of his books. Leonard famously has said, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it,” and “I try to leave out the parts that people usually skip.” He gets right to the point, no b.s., and since I spent about a month struggling to get through George Martin’s A Game of Thrones, reading Leonard is quite a relief.
I’m reading Road Dogs on the Kindle — if you’ve seen the movie Out of Sight with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, Clooney’s character, Jack Foley, is also the lead character in Road Dogs.
Foley is just out of prison in the one I’m reading, and all sorts of plans and scams are afoot. On the Kindle app, and not yet started, is Leonard’s Valdez Is Coming. Haven’t yet started it ’cause I’m not quite done with The Long Embrace, by Judith Freeman, a biography of Raymond Chandler.
Oh, yeah, books on paper. I’m reading Second Wind by Cami Ostman. It’s autobiographical — Ostman takes up running in her 30’s and sets the goal of running a marathon on each of the world’s seven continents. It’s just as much a book about personal change and growth as it is about running, and I’m enjoying both parts.
Just kidding — I’m the last runner in the pack who’s gonna win a title, other than “Slow Old Guy.” But, like The Dude, I abide. And keep at it. And sometimes see some progress.
Take this week, for instance. I did pretty well last week, with 22 miles and a good bit of cycling, some strength training at the gym, one swim, one kayak trip.
As I was thinking about the beginning of the training week on Monday (yesterday), I calculated that if I upped the mileage gradually, I’d be ready to run the 15k I’m registered for on December 8th. Maybe do 6 miles yesterday — and I did, it felt fine, so good that I got in 5 miles this morning — the thought is, if all the pieces fall in place (and no body parts fall off), to go over 25 miles this week. That would be good.
A shorter run tomorrow (it’s a mid-week break I give myself), then maybe 5 again on Thursday, and my total will be 19 or 20 miles with Friday and Saturday to go. Yay. And keeping up the cycling (5 miles yesterday, 9 or 10 miles tomorrow), with strength training already in the bank today and a kayak trip planned for Thursday (roughly equivalent to strength training at the gym, in my way of thinking about training — no need to push machines at the gym if I’ve gone kayaking, done some paddling as well as wrangled boats on and off the roof).
Have to see how it goes — daughter Becca is playing tonight at High Dive, opening for Laura Marling (who, it’s been explained to me and checked out on YouTube, etc., is sort of a big deal, not in the sense of course of Lady Gaga or Adele, but a big deal in the indie rock circuit). This means I’ll be out late tonight, maybe even later than 10:00 P.M. Still hope to get up at 6:30 and run 2 or 3 miles.
Back on March 28th (you could look it up), I posted on poet Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem commenting on the passage in the Book of Jeremiah in which the prophet politely complains to God about the fact that, well, “sinners ways prosper.” (Hopkins begins by writing, “Thou are indeed just, Lord\ If I contend with thee.\ But Sir, my cause is just.”)
Oddly, I woke up this morning thinking about that posting, that Scripture passage, and that poem. More oddly still, I came back home a little while ago and picked up my Bible to continue reading (3 chapters a day and 4 on Sunday takes a person through the whole Scripture in a year — it’s an ancient spiritual practice).
And guess which chapter came up today in my reading?. Right, the chapter I referred to above, Jeremiah 12; which begins, in the New American Bible version I’m using,
You would be in the right, O Lord,
if I should dispute with you;
even so, I must discuss the case with you.
Why does the way of the godless prosper,
why live all the treacherous in contentment?
The first 12 chapters in Jeremiah, and the chapters immediately following the quote above,are basically about how all Israel itself has abandoned the worship of the true God, their covenant, and they’re doing ANYTHING BUT prospering — there’s drought, there’s sterility, there are external threats from warlike nations, and so forth.
But what the prophet is referring to in his complaint to God is a local, personal situation — Jeremiah feels besieged by just about everybody, because just about nobody seems to be happy with him pointing out their wrongdoing and threatening them with dire results if they don’t repent. Jeremiah is worse than a gadfly; he’s a true thorn in the side of everyone, and he expresses fears for his life repeatedly throughout the book named after him. In short, he feels as if he’s not getting anywhere and that the “godless” and “treacherous” are doing better than just fine.
So he complains to God; but briefly, and then goes back to discussing Israel’s problems rather than his own.
Didn’t do much running or cycling this week, nor much of anything, really — had the flu for about 5 days, started to get better only on Wednesday (it’s now Sunday, btw). I tried to go out cycling on Wednesday, feeling great remorse for my inactivity, but was either so weak or still slightly feverish that I had trouble keeping the bicycle upright, even had a small crash — not in traffic, fortunately, and no damage to the bike, most importantly, and little damage to my bod (bit o’ road rash, a bruise or two).
Went to the gym Friday, did strength training, did a shortish run (3 miles) yesterday, but had a very good gym workout this afternoon. Did machines, managed to push the weights as well as the repetitions a bit, felt good enough afterward to do some stationary cycling, followed by a little rowing. Used to do the rowing machine on a regular basis, put in good time on it, but somehow rowing has been pushed to the back of my awareness lately. Note to self: consider rowing after each strength training session; hey, even consider going to the gym just for rowing.
As a reward, went over to Greenery Square
(plants and flowers are sold, and there’s the CYM Central coffee shop). Spent an enjoyable hour, first getting a most-delicious grilled cheese, bacon, and tomato sandwich from the Grilled Cheese Wagon guy (with Swiss, Provolone, and American, yay!). Then inside the coffee shop for iced coffee and some reading of coffee-table books. Paged through a fascinating photo-essay about Ernest Hemingway, book length and robust with pictures. Goodness, Hemingway had a lot of wives!
Recently read his Garden of Eden, which was published fairly recently, long after he died in the 60’s, reconstructed and edited (apparently) from stuff he’d been working on but hadn’t finished. Pretty typical Hemingway, pretty good — and not nearly as sexist and violent as his work sometimes is.
Next on the agenda, and the perfect capstone to a week, is Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, which I expect to be lotsa fun.