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New Kayak

I needed a new kayak — my chipped, dented, and leak-repaired 9-foot Heritage was no longer doing the job.

Rhythm 11

Rhythm 11

So I went to the nearest Dick’s Sporting Goods (love any sporting goods store!) and purchased  a Perception Rhythm 11 (it’s 11 feet long), pictured here:

Drove down to Ocala (about 40 miles) on Tuesday and found the boat.  But it was raining heavily, and Dick’s Sporting Goods doesn’t have a warehouse or any kind of overhang, so I left the boat there for later.  Which later turned out to be Wednesday (yesterday).  When I got home, however, I took a better look at the boat and started to have the sinking feeling that I’d been given the wrong boat — it looked just like the boat at the left, but it was 13 feet long, not 11 (and had an additional storage bin in the front).

So, lucky me!  I got 2 feet more boat than I’d paid for.  But that wasn’t going to work since there were reasons I wanted to 11-foot boat — it’s that much lighter and easier for me to get on and off the roof racks by myself.  Probably the 13-foot boat would have been too much for a geezer like me.

So this morning I woke up and about 4:30 A.M. and realized that I had to drive back down to Dick’s and see about switching boats.  So I did, arriving right around 9:00 A.A. when they opened.  No problem, they switched them right out, and by 9:20 I was back on the road.

Can’t wait to get my new boat wet — maybe tomorrow, though the weather report (just watched Mr. Weather Guy Bill Quinlan on the local news) calls for drastic rainstorms, maybe starting before it gets light.  So Saturday?  No, busy busy day.  Maybe the usual kayak day, next Wednesday, when Sam and I typically visit the Santa Fe River, or Lake Santa Fe, or maybe in future the Suwannee River.

A new boat is major excitement for me.


God’s Hotel (the Book)

Been reading Victoria Sweet’s book, God’s Hotel.  It’s about her stint (over) as a doctor at a God’s Hotel, a hotel Dieu, an almshouse, which originally meant a hospital for poor people.  It’s a tradition of caring for the sick that started in the Middle Ages and was mostly operated by monasteries.  Dr. Sweet worked at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, perhaps the last “almshouse” in the U.S.

Laguna Honda Hospital

Laguna Honda Hospital

Laguna Honda seemed to practice both modern and old-fashioned medicine — the doctors and nurses had machines for tests and surgery, but they also tended to look at the patients, talk to them, become part of their lives.  And Sweet develops along the way an appreciation for not only the medieval almshouse but for how medicine was practiced in the Middle Ages.  She ends up devoting herself to study (in addition to working as a doctor) getting a Ph.D. in history, specifically medieval history, focusing on Hildegarde of Bingen, who was both mystic and healer.

This M.D.\Ph.D thing (such highly, richly, and diversely educated people are a rarity), her decision to forgo riches and fame in practicing medicine elsewhere, and the way she writes about her patients makes me think that Victoria Sweet is perhaps the coolest person in the world.  I wish she were my doctor, though I’m in no way dissatisfied with my own doc.

Another Laguna Honda Hospital Picture

Another Laguna Honda Hospital Picture

Dr. Sweet explores the meaning of terms such as “hospital” and “charity” (from the root words for “hospitality” and “host” and for “caring,” respectively).  But what inspires me is how she writes about her patients with such love. Reading God’s Hotel gives me new hope that people are good.  As Uncle Monroe used to say, whenever I saw him and asked how he was doing, “Life is great.  People are wonderful.”

And maybe it is — despite the unending onslaught of addiction and illness, despite financial problems, despite loss (Sweet’s patients, not me).


A.A. Promises (the Realistic Version)

My friend J was sharing tonight at a meeting that her response to some of the A.A. Promises was, “Are you kidding me”?  Her specific example was the one that says, “Fear of economic insecurity will leave you.”  Well, she shared that currently she’s a little bit bordering on indigent, so the fear hasn’t and probably won’t leave her.

Maybe a more realistic promise would be, “Fear of economic insecurity will no longer stun me as if I just got Tasered.”

And about the one that says, “You will intuitively handle situations that used to baffle you.”  Maybe it could more realistically be phrased: “If you’re extremely mindful, you just might be able to thread your way carefully through situations that used to baffle you.  Or, if situations like that continue to baffle you, be patient– it does, after say that the promises will “materialize…sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.”

And then the final promise: “You will suddenly realize that God is doing for you what you could not do for yourself.” I’d like a reboot of that one that says: “You will realize that God sometimes, or even often, leaves you on your own to meet life’s challenges like an adult, but He always loves you dearly.  And searches for you, always.”

Finally, the A.A. Promises end with a rhetorical question, “Are these extravagant promises”?  The answer in the Big Book, and the rote answer most people recite at meetings is, “We think not.”  I suggest a new answer to “Are these extravagant promises?”  That would be: “Not any more.  Now they’re fairly realistic.”

Glad we had this little talk.