Monday, May 3, 2010

Bridgewater Raft Race - 2010

I have a guest writer today, my wonderful Sweetie. He wrote this for his Facebook page, and I thought it was so good I would honor him here. (That, and I'm too lazy to write my own.) More photos can be seen at

Having run the usual gauntlet of law enforcers in Woodstock we pulled in to the anything-goes cantina atmosphere of the Bridgewater Raft Race.

We unloaded our simple rig and registered. The race, now in it's 36th year is growing in popularity and there were about 50 "boats". I d
rew poorly, getting a starting position of 42. We were there early so we observed the melée of last minute construction by many motley crews.

Pipsqueak dressed smartly with a wetsuit and grass skirt while I sported safariwear, a pith helmet and "binoculars" fashioned from a couple of empty Bud "Pounders" we'd picked up on our Green Up day rounds. Cameras and videographers were in abundance so we hung around the boat to hang ten on demand. We also spoke with some returning entrants from Boston and NYC. Seems I'm not the only flatlander with a taste for the offbeat.

The entry forms read "no alcohol please" but by the looks of many of the entrants we have a literacy problem in Vermont. Even the racemaster interrupted his reading of the rules for a "social" which became the euphemism of the day. We walked around looking at the wild creations and, better, wildlife. If Pip learned some new words she didn't tell me.

The rules state that the hulls and paddles must not be commercially built and that crews provide the only power. Beyond that, pretty much anything goes.

A raft race vet informed us that the early races were started with the firing of a Colt Special and the awards were rocks taken from the river. A loaner cannon (the usual one was lost in action this past year) shattered the silence and the race was on.

Starting near last and with the river a bit low (or is it always this way?) we were caught up in a bollix of rafts. Everyone bumped rocks here and there, some lost parts or coolers (horror of horrors!) and some sank.

We soon found deeper water and read the riffles to stay off the stones. What became immediately clear was that Pip was not in this for a casual float downstream. Every raft was a challenge to be passed. It was crucial to be on the lookout for submerged boulders; drift over one and the craft stops until dislodged. Pip is a chatty sort and, being young and beguiling attracted the attentions of other rafters as we drew close. Being her father I have learned to ignore such attentions, if only briefly, and stayed on task. It wasn't long before our opponents were hung up on a stone and we poled by them. I dubbed the strategy "distract and attack" and Pip fell off the raft in laughter. "Keep going Dada", she said as she pulled herself aboard, "I can get back on, just keep on paddling".

We did a lot of passing. One longboat was constantly dogging us, but his craft had a sink/bail cycle every 10 minutes allowing us to stay ahead.

We crossed the finish line in just under an hour feeling both spent and triumphant. At the awards ceremony the winner received a $100 cash prize. Pipsqueak, as the youngest entrant, also received a prize, a family gift certificate for one month at the new Upper Valley Aquatic Center, value $127!

Starting from 42nd position we had maneuvered and powered our way past 26 competitors finishing sweet 16th!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Less Binge, More Purge

No, I'm not considering an eating disorder...

This time of year, every year, I feel like getting rid of stuff. I'm not sure if it's all the loot that just arrived by Santa's sleigh or being "stuck in the house" for winter, but I definitely have the urge to purge. This is the sort of thing that I have to harness and ride when I get it because when I'm not in the mood, it's a pretty daunting task, and if I'm feeling a little melancholy or nostalgic, it's hard to get rid of things.

This week, I've been going through stuff in my office area which has been a WRECK for months. It'll take some time and dedication to get through all the rubble, but I made a good dent and a lot of stuff got tossed. Pipsqueak got inspired when she got home from school one day and cleaned out some of her art supplies that are kept near my office area. She found a good pile of stuff to get rid of, too. I noticed all the Disney Princess stuff is going... the end of an era.

I also feel like buying less. That should be easy; stay out of stores and delete online sale announcements without looking at them. I need to start shopping in my own house. I have plenty of books and craft supplies, which are my weaknesses, so it's time to start reading them and using them instead of buying more. I'll still allow myself the occasional thrift shop spree. Yesterday I went to Border's and TJ Maxx looking for a present for a birthday party. The only thing I bought was the present even though there were lots of great sales going on. The reward of shopping less will be two-fold: I'll have less stuff coming in the house and I'll be saving money.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Return

Boy, did I ever lose my writing mojo. I lost my mojo for a lot of things, but I've pulled it together for nearly every else. During the Christmas season, I had so many things that I wanted to share with you, but I couldn't seem to get them out of my head and unto your screen.

Pipsqueak got Wii Fit Plus for Christmas, which includes several games, one being Snowball Fight. One of the opponents is in a snowman costume. The first time you hit him, he falls over, the costume falls away and he pops up in human form looking dazed and shaking his head. You have to hit him again while he's dazed, before he recovers and redons the costume in order to win that point. That is a metaphor for my life the past few months. I was hit by a friend's death, and before I could shake that off, I was hit by another.

I don't make New Year's resolutions because I don't need a date on a calendar to dictate when I need or should make a change, and the changes I make are usually long term rather than for a year. This year, I felt like I needed a fresh start, and I hoped that New Year's Eve would be sort of a magic portal from a year that sucked to a brighter tomorrow. Of course, New Year's Day came, and I didn't feel any different. But I did realize that I don't feel as bad as I did a month ago.

I think I'll still make some changes... a few things that will make me happier: lose a little weight (as soon as all the holiday goodies are gone), exercise a little more (just because it feels good and I'll be healthier), paint a few things that need painting, purge a lot of stuff that I don't need, spend a little more time being creative (which includes writing here), finish several projects that have long been in progress and experiment with cooking more.

I also need to start accentuating the positive. I've never had to do that before, because I've always been a positive-thinking person, but I've felt way too negative lately. There are a lot of positive things in my life and a lot to be happy about. Those are the things that I've got to move to the forefront of my mind.

I've been away for awhile, but I'm on my way back.

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