The Life of Dogs

She probably thinks I don’t want to go with her today but I do.  I always do.

Put me near water or mud and I’m a happy pup:  the messier, the splashier, the better dontcha know?

When my paddler goes off without me my heart just sinks like I’m GONNA DIE . . .

Until the ground rumbles, that big door opens, and here she comes in the little door just to see meeeeeee!

I try to be good but I just can’t help myself sometimes

Things need to be chewed, mailmen scared off (especially that one in shorts dressed in BROWN), and anything soft covered with my furry bum.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I have it good and all that

“But why can’t I go with you like all the time?” say my big brown-n-black eyes.

“Or give me a bite of that hamburger that smells so good?”

You big people just aren’t as nice as those little people like me who drop crumbs all the time.  Yum!  Yum!

I’ll wait for you here, I’ll wait for you there, I’ll wait for you anywhere.

‘Cause you are just the best, scratch my ears some more, and give me one of those crunchy things in that bag you just opened, k?

You think I don’t know what you are up to but I do . . . I watch you all the time and it’s not even weird.

Just bring me with you in the car, on the boat, in the tractor, or maybe for a ride!

Thank you for being my bestie.  Sniff, sniff.  I love you more,

Your dog

Pictures are from the 2017 United States Canoe Association Nationals in Dubuque, Iowa except Gary and his German shepherd in the kayak.  Paddlers love their dogs!

 

The Life of a Kayaking Widow

No, he didn’t die.  He just goes away for large swaths of time as soon as the forsythias start their yellow bloom season up north here until the crimson leaves begin to fall into the local waterways.  Then he “comes back to life” again when I need him to keep me warm when the snow flies, that’s all.  Such is the life of a kayaking widow!

For those of you who have taken a break from reading your cereal box and picked up your beloved’s issue of Canoe News* instead, this one’s for you!  You may or may not be a paddler and that is o.k.  If you are not a RACER, however, and HE IS then you are invited to join me in this paper support group!  We are not alone!  (He does eventually come home to sleep and eat, right?)  I mean, I understand girlfriend.

So we must stick together, you and me, and figure out alternatives to dreamy picnics in the park with our men.  It probably won’t happen.  Our guys are either out fulfilling the requirements of their United States Canoe Association (USCA) membership or too tired and sore from the workout the day before to take a walk on the local Prairie Path on a Sunday afternoon.   “Would you massage my back?” is more likely heard than, “the moonlight sure is lovely reflected in your hair tonight.”  But I digress.  Just focus on the other scenic benefits of being married to an athlete if ya know what I mean?  J

And try these tips to get past the USCA Nationals in August at least!

  • Go shopping.  Spend wisely and no more than the amount he has invested in paddling gear.
  • Try a recreational race if you can paddle some; offer to take pictures of the event or help out if you prefer not.  Kids can come too if desired.  He will love you for taking an interest in his sport.
  • Leave a note of encouragement in plain view for your man to find as he makes his way out the door on race day before the rooster crows.  Add food.  Lots of food.
  • Plan regular events of your own either alone or with like-minded “widows.”  There a lot of us out there, left behind from various endeavors requiring testosterone.  Pick ones that require lots of estrogen to enjoy.
  • Eat chocolate and don’t share with anyone.
  • Look busy when he comes home yet be sure to greet him from upwind.

Surely there are a virtual bevvy of strategies for us land-lovers as I am only getting started here.  Actually I was a fan of boating under power when I met my River Bear.  What happened?  Who knows but her name might be “Stella(r)” or something like that!  I would love to hear from you ladies (and possibly widowers?) with your best tips on making the most of the paddling season.

Until then, gardening anyone?  JJ

*Published in the Summer 2017 issue of Canoe News

Fort Wayne, canoe, wife, husband, paddling, high knee, marriage, partners

This wifey-poo gets it right at an Indiana race on the St. Joe River in 2012!

Tales of kayaking and canoeing

My husband, Steve, loves to write tall tales of his racing adventures here in northern Indiana.  There are at least 7 races in the United States Canoe Association circuit here:  more if the rivers aren’t too low from a draught, too fast from flooding, or too rough from the winds on Lake Michigan!  The paddlers are marathon racers who love to go fast over 9 or more miles in a sea kayak, surf ski, 1-4 person racing canoe, outrigger canoe, downriver kayak, or “unlimited” boat.  Things can get dicey at times on and off the water as each sizes up the competition and conditions on race day . . . but they always go home as friends, ready for a re-match on another day.

Here’s a link to the Race Reports at River Bear Racing.  Going fast can be a lot of fun for spectators like me too.

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My River Bear leads the charge around the buoy turn in our OC-1

Goooooooo Steeeeeve!

 

https://riverbearracing.com/paddling-tales/

River Bear Racing is here!

Good news:  River Bear Racing officially launched this week and I am quite proud of my beloved Steve aka “River Bear.”

Well known to the racers of the United States Canoe Association, Steve has accepted an invitation to represent Stellar Kayaks in the Midwest.  Since 2009, Stellar has been delivering innovative kayaks, surf skis, paddles, and accessories across North America.  Steve always liked the cockpit and foot plate design of Stellar Kayaks as he advanced from a recreational kayaker when I met him in 2007 to the reigning State Champion in the Men’s K-1 Open Class in Indiana.  We have been on many adventures together since then, usually with me cheering him on from the side of a river somewhere, “gooooooooo Steve!!!!”  And I have loved every minute of it too.

So I invite you, Gentle Reader, to check out and FOLLOW my husband’s new website:  River Bear Racing.  Steve is an amazing storyteller so expect to be treated to much adventure and humor as he navigates the rivers east of the Mississippi in carbon fiber boats narrow enough that the rest of the world would call them a man-sized tongue depressor!  These racers are amazing, fast, fit, and  . . . well I better stop here lest I get into some wifey-poo trouble!  I am grateful to have learned so much from Steve and his love for the sport of sea kayak and surf ski racing.  And I even have Steve to thank for my really neat paddling gear (that exceeds my abilities) as well.

Lord willing, I am looking forward to getting back to our water adventures really soon.  Maybe I’ll just have to try out that S18S to see if it’s as cool as my old Stellar SR?  Hmmm, guess I’ve become a bit of a paddling geek to, eh?  JJ

Steve in his Stellar SE

Steve in his Stellar SE

 

The 5 1/2 hour window of time

Ready to head home with the 24-foot outrigger and ama on the roof!

Ready to head home with the 24-foot outrigger and ama (float) on the roof!

So grateful to be out with my River Bear!

So grateful to be out with my River Bear!

 

We came to a clearing in things and went for it!

These pictures were taken after a wonderful evening paddling our tandem outrigger canoe (OC-2) on Sylvan Lake here in Indiana.  How wonderful to be out on the water for a second outing with Steve this year.  I am so very grateful!

Sadly the evening ended worse than the earlier part of this day.  Tic attacks had started in the car on the 45-minute ride home.  Within an hour after getting home and unpacking the car I was feeling sickly.  We ate some quick salads before I scampered off for bed, still in my paddling clothes.  Low grade seizure attacks ramped up over the next hour, escalating into one of the worse episodes I have had in a long time.  Screams of terror filled our home.  The best that I could do was hold on and focus on continuing to breathe . . .

Eventually I was able to call Steve for help getting off the damp clothing and showering.  In my stupor and neurological collapse (requiring complete assistance to transport myself to the bathroom) I figured out that I must have gotten exposed to the blue green algae we encountered in the narrower sections of the lake.  I had taken numerous precautions to limit exposure to the water.  However, some simply cannot be avoided when splashing about, paddling from an open cockpit of an OC-2.  And perhaps the slimy green pond near the port-a-potties in the parking lot were releasing aerosols that were not to my liking as well?  I didn’t touch any food or the mouth of my water bottle since we did not have hand sanitizer with us.  I guess it wasn’t enough:  I am too sensitive to any form of biotoxin to get anywhere near them in any form until things change.

Thankfully after about three hours I regained motor control of my body.  I was better able to communicate and we processed what had occurred this evening.  Steve agreed that we probably need to limit paddling together to waters treated for algae, such as the private lake of a friend’s home.  This means not being able to join the local kayaking group outings on Tuesday night for the third year in a row!  That’s a major bite in the shorts!  To get strong enough to go out with them for two years was a major accomplishment for me and lasted until I got sick October 11, 2011.  Just getting into a kayak (and now an outrigger canoe, solo and tandem) simply had never happened before I married Steve.  We have so many great memories being a part of the group in addition to his kayaking competitions.  (Goooooo Steeeeeeve!)  Sigh.  And I was really enjoying the switch from a kayak to an outrigger, sporting my carbon-fiber bent shaft paddle too.  So awesome.

Last night I watched most of the video story again of Justin and Christa Vanderham.  Christa suffered from chronic Lyme disease and mold exposure for years before finding proper treatment with antibiotics, supplements, and nutrition.  A fellow sojourner in recovery and reader of this blog graciously reminded me recently that Christa’s illness looked a lot like the videos that I have posted here and on You Tube.  Yes, both our symptoms of distress appear wretched:  intractable pain for Christa and relentless seizure attacks for me.  We both scream at times due to our agony.  In chronic Lyme and biotoxin illness it’s not the exact matrix of symptoms that is so significant as it is making sure you have the right diagnoses and treatment protocols to get well.  We don’t say that we have different illnesses because our symptoms are a little different.  We do say that we both might benefit from similar aggressive treatment protocols if reasonable test data and clinical presentation indicate Lyme or biotoxin illness.  Unfortunately for me, EVERY SINGLE TREATMENT INTERVENTION exacerbates daily seizure attack episodes that average 3-4 hours per day!  I simply cannot survive the treatment protocols of which I am aware to date.  The multiple chemical sensitivities (aka Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) already leaves me largely homebound to try and prevent noxious symptoms.  Lately they are on the rise again (up to 8 hours!) regardless of where I am or what I am doing.  When I take a 5 1/2 hour window of time when the symptoms subside and test the waters, so to speak, I usually pay dreadfully for doing so.  This gal just can’t get a real break I guess.  I keep trying the wrong things.  On the surface, you could say that I am out of options . . .

Regardless, this I know:  my Jesus goes before me and knows the desires of my heart.  He knows that my heart is breaking right now to realize that I can no longer be with my dear husband 2 to 3 days per week when he pursues his sport on the water.  I learned to kayak to be with my River Bear and was delighted to discover that I enjoyed it too (at a slower pace of course!).  My Lord knows how isolated I am when I am home alone because of this illness.  He has provided the safety and security of a lovely dwelling with plenty of time with my Heavenly Husband.  He was my best buddy before I met Steve; He saw me through life changes equally as traumatic all the way to the restoration process in due time.  I’ll be hanging tough and trusting Him with this door closing on open water activities, no matter how I may feel about it.  The fact is that my Lord and Savior loves me more than I can ever know.  He wants what is best for me.  I will wait with great expectation at His throne of grace for His plan for me, whether or not a new door or window opens in due time.  If I don’t lay down my will for His will then I will denounce all that He has shown me of His love for me in the past.  I don’t want to waste all that I have learned.  During those trials is when my faith grew to be what it is today.  That is when the Holy Spirit became real to me, guiding me and comforting me always.  Nothing can take that away from me.  Nothing will.

Gentle Reader, do you know faith in God like this through His son, Jesus Christ?  Please share with me your experiences if you do.  I know it will encourage me to hear from you in addition to other Readers.  Oh and if you could say a prayer for my Stevers that would be great.  He hasn’t been getting much sleep lately.  Thanks a bunch.

Better finish that mulching project in the gardens soon.  Love to you,  Just Julie