My edit this week: SOOC on the left, edit on the right. I cropped a bit, changed levels and saturation, burned the metal parts, and sharpened a bit. Not a huge difference, but I like it.
Another boat. Canoe, kayak, pontoon, and now sail. I swear I don't spend much time on boats.
And yet I have written three recent entries obliquely related to boats (not including this one). In all three posts, I refer to piloting the boat through the water in an aimless fashion as "tooling around." It is a phrase that makes perfect sense to me and it works with what I'm trying to convey, but I hadn't realized that it was such a go-to term for me. All three posts about boats include the phrase.
It was enough to make me wonder if I was using the phrase correctly. Or even if anyone else ever uses the phrase. So, of course, being the information geek that I am (or, as a friend recently put it, I'm addicted to knowledge), I looked it up:
To drive (a vehicle) or (of a vehicle) to be driven, esp in a leisurely or casual style. To drive or ride in a vehicle: tooling along the freeway. To carry or be carried.
Cruise, curb, direct, drift, drive, float, go, go with, guide, handle, hitch a ride, hitchhike, journey, manage, motor, move, post, progress, restrain, roll, sit, sit on, thumb a ride, tool around, tour, travel, advance, drive, impel.
So, I'm using it correctly, and it's not something I just made up. But I wonder why no other phrases immediately come to mind when I think of spending time in a boat, particularly with no destination in mind. One can paddle around in a boat, or row a boat around, or use a boat's motor to traverse from point A to nowhere and then back to point A again. But those descriptions lack the vim of the term "tooling around."
Do I use the phrase just with boats? I think I've probably used it to mean aimlessly wandering for the purposes of entertainment in the context of roller skating, or riding a bike through the park, or even surfing the internet. Just tooling around.
My challenge to myself now is to find a phrase to use in place of "tooling around" that I like just as much. I may never find one, but I'm never opposed to expanding my vocabulary.
Just because you're a good swimmer, doesn't mean you shouldn't follow all boat safety protocols.
I spent nine months teaching (among other things) a Lake Study class to students from the Chicago area. Part of the class involved taking the students out on this pontoon boat, tooling around the lake for a bit, and doing some water quality tests through the trap door in the boat's floor.
Some students resisted the need for a personal flotation device, citing the hundreds of times they'd gone boating with their families when they weren't forced to wear one. My favorite incident featured the opposite reaction.
These boats were a bit finicky, and on this particular day, there was a crystal clear blue sky. The sun was shining, but it wasn't hot; it was a warm pleasant temperature. It seemed as though everyone in the area were out on the lake with their boats. I started up the pontoon boat with no problems, and handed off a radio to one of the employees scheduled to be on the dock that day, in case of emergencies.
As we pulled away from the dock a bit, I watched as the guy with my radio walked into the boat house and left the radio inside. He hadn't understood that I wanted him to carry it with him until we got back 45 minutes later. Oh well, we were out of earshot now.
In the middle of the lake, I cut the engine and we did our water tests. When I went to start the engine back up again, it wouldn't start. No problem, we had been trained for this. I tried everything. One of the parts of the engine that's supposed to, you know, move just wouldn't budge. It was completely stuck. I had no tools.
But, here's the thing: worst case scenario is we sit on a boat in the middle of a huge gorgeous lake with a pleasantly warm sun beating down on us, and in an hour or so someone will realize we haven't come back yet and come get us. That was the absolute worst possible thing that could happen to us at that moment.
And yet, the students took this opportunity to freak out. They screamed at the top of their lungs repeatedly, "We're gonna die!" There was nothing I could do to console them. They insisted on screaming and waving their arms frantically at every boat that came marginally near us, hoping to be rescued from their predicament of having been stuck on a boat for 15 minutes. Finally, another boat came close enough to hear and towed us to shore.
I was really looking forward to my mini-vacation in the middle of the lake. Sadly, we made it back to the dock before anyone had noticed we were late. I hope those students were happy that they made it to their next class on time with no legitimate excuse to be late for it...
10 Simple Pleasures
I spent a little time on this beach with some friends, watching the pelicans, crabs, and fishermen. This one waded right into the surf for his catch. They day was grey and dreary, but the red hues of the Golden Gate Bridge always perk up the mood.
This bridge is beautiful, and has an interesting history, but my favorite fact about the bridge is that it is always being painted. A team of painters works full time to touch up the most corroded parts as needed. When I say a team of painters, I don't mean 3 guys and a bucket. There are thirty-eight painters who maintain the now-acrylic topcoats.
Watching the painters work high up on the cables has always made me nervous for them, but what a great job! What do you do for a living? I paint the Golden Gate Bridge...
Last time for Murietta365's SOOC challenge, I posted a photograph taken with a 35mm film SLR. I thought I'd dig even deeper in to the archives for this one, taken with a 35mm film point and shoot, and a broken one at that.
I didn't know it when I took this shot, or the rest of that roll, that there was something wrong with the camera. I think there was a slowly increasing light leak somewhere. This was one of the first shots on the roll, and subsequent shots included ever-increasing strangely over-exposed shapes on the final prints.
This one escaped with only a mildly hazy over-exposed feel to it. I like it because it gives the shot a dream-like quality (matching my memory of the place) that I probably couldn't have done on purpose if I tried. This is a completely un-edited shot, and you can see dust specks from when it was scanned who knows how long ago, and a scratch on the print.
I spent 9 summers on this lake, and this image certainly brings back memories. I can hear in my mind the sounds of paddles gently tapping and scraping the sides of those plastic kayaks as kids tooled around in them exploring the lake. I can remember where every large rock is in that swimming area, and exactly where the deepest and shallowest parts are. I can smell those Ponderosa Pines, and I can feel the texture of the "grass" (not really grass, but it served the same purpose) in the meadow in my fingertips. The flavor of the juice we always requested whenever we cooked meals over an open fire is unlike any other, and the image of the stars we would gaze at as we fell asleep each night, framed by the starburst-shaped clusters of pine needles sticks with me to this very day.
I could go on, nearly indefinitely, but these are my memories, and probably not as interesting to you as your own. Leave a comment and tell me about a time in your past when you can remember with all five of your senses, with your whole being, every detail of an experience. What was your favorite part (if you can choose)? Which tiny detail had you forgotten about completely, but through the process of remembering the whole picture, came back to you as clearly as though you were there yesterday?
I love trees. All of them. It took me many years to decide on a favorite tree, and even still I find myself questioning my resolve. I frequently become re-enamored with Douglas-firs, and what's not to love about a nice, stately Coast Redwood...
And yet, when I get close enough to a Madrone to touch it, I remember that the Arbutus menziesii is my power tree. Something about that cool, smooth green bark, with the papery russet-colored peelings reminds me that I love this planet which can spawn such beautiful things.
I was, at first, attracted by the peeling bark. It's difficult not to grab one of those curls and just give it a tug, or to rub one's hand over a stretch of bark and remove all of the loose bits.
This nearly irresistible temptation is part of the power of the tree. Anyone can peel the bark off. Not peeling the bark off allows for a whole new understanding. I can stand near a Madrone, crunch the formerly waxy fallen leaves beneath my feet, lean in close to smell the woody trunk, and find a green peely-bark-free spot to rest my palm. The longer I remain in silence, without disturbing a single irresistible curl of bark, the more the tree becomes my fortress of solitude: a source of power and knowledge, a beacon to draw me away from the hum-drum life of everyday humans, an emblem of all I have yet to learn.
My favorite Madrone shots can be found in my Etsy Shop, or here. Others are above and below.
In January of 2009, I took some friends to do touristy things in San Francisco. One of our stops just had to be the sea lions at Pier 39. Our timing couldn't have been worse. The sea lions had been there for 20 years, but just that winter, they decided to leave.
So we stood there, looking at the empty docks, waiting... This chap in his bright yellow boat out for a morning row was interesting enough, I guess. We did eventually get a small pile of sea lions, but it's just not the same as hundreds.
The sea lions have since returned, so we'll just have to plan another trip.
What I love most about this photo, is that this little jaunt around the harbor is probably this guy's daily routine. Some people go jogging, some people go have coffee in a little coffee shop while they read the morning paper. This guy takes his bright yellow boat out for a row. Maybe he's used to tooling around the massive marine mammals, but for the last little while, these docks have been unusually quiet for his morning row.
When I was a kid, I thought this would be the best job. Cleaning the insides of the giant tanks at an aquarium, and holding yourself in place with a little suction-cup handle. I'm not sure what about it appealed to me so much...
For a while there, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Maybe it had something to do with that, although cleaning tanks is only obliquely related to marine biology. Maybe it was the free-floating aspect of it - the little suction-cup handle made it clear that without it, you'd have no leverage for cleaning the window and you'd float away. Maybe it was the appeal of being inside a photograph - the exotic colored fish in the impossibly green water wasn't real on this side of the glass, it was more like watching a movie. But on the other side of the glass, you were really there.
I can tell you now what doesn't appeal to me about that job. I don't really like the idea of not being completely surrounded by breathable air (which is why I'll never be an astronaut). I don't really like to have lots of people looking at me; performance gives me hives. I know I wouldn't be putting on a show or anything, but I also know that as an aquarium visitor, I'm much more interested in the window-washer than the fish. I don't really like to swim, nor do I like wearing the things you need to wear in order to swim - they're uncomfortable to wear, uncomfortable to put on, even more uncomfortable to take off when they're wet, and then putting on dry clothes afterward is uncomfortable, too.
Oh, and fish are creepy.
Good think I never became a marine biologist, eh?
I walked, once, from a few blocks from the Campanile (that bell / clock tower you see in the blue hazy distance) to a few blocks from where this picture was taken - about four and a half miles.
It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time. I didn't have a driver's license for the entirety of the time I spent living in this area, so most of my solo travel involved public transportation.
Much of the public transportation was underground, so I would emerge from the tunnels with an understanding of the immediate radius of the station, but not so much a clear understanding of how those radii connected to each other.
On this particular day, I realized that I not only knew precisely where I was, but I also could envision all of the connecting streets between my present location and my destination.
Knowing how to get from point A to point B makes public transportation obsolete, right? I'm pretty sure that was the rationalization I made to myself.
Things I had going for me: My understanding of my route was accurate, it was a lovely day, it was nearly 100% downhill, and I had no deadlines. Things I failed to consider: I had no water or sunblock, I was wearing flip-flops, I had already been walking around downtown Berkeley all day, and I had no realistic concept of the distance involved.
Parts of the route were quite lovely in their city way; Telegraph, Shattuck, and Solano Avenues are great for people-watching. Henry and Sutter Streets have broad, leafy trees. Mostly, though, I realized pretty early on that I should have just taken the bus.
I arrived at my destination sunburned, dehydrated, exhausted, and with sore feet. Also, I had nothing to show for it. So what if I walked? It wasn't so great a distance that it actually mattered. The dollar or so I saved in bus fare wasn't significant enough to mean anything. I got no sympathy for my exhaustion. Nobody cared. Nobody even really noticed.
Therein lies the lesson, the thing I can take away from that walk, and from subsequent instances in which I have decided it might just be easier to walk. It's not easier physically, but it's a form of catharsis that makes sense to me.
When the "easy" way will get me there too fast, the journey too banausic. When I'm not ready to be at my destination, but I know I have to go. When I want to take the time to see every step of my journey, no matter how many steps it might take. When I need to organize my thoughts before I get there, or before I get anywhere.
Little things happen along the way, which remind me of little other things, which remind me of still more little things, and I can't help but smile at how all things truly are connected. Nobody could possibly follow along with all the leaps my thoughts make as I walk. Even walking next to me and seeing what I saw, a companion could not comprehend how the scene before us translated in my mind to the interconnectedness of the universe.
So, I arrive, sunburned and sweaty, thirsty and tired. And grinning.
What took you so long?