We’re awash in dogs right now as we adapt to the new puppy and have taken on dog-sitting for my brother for a week. It’s a crazy time, so Nacho – aka MY dog – and I are holed up in the office for the day. It’s what we do every day, but it feels more like hiding now.

This weekend, we went to a reservoir and put in some boats. A double kayak for the ladies of the family, an inflatable for the boy, and my new fishing kayak for me. I can’t say enough good things about my new boat. It was stable, agile, fast, and fun. Is there another adjective I would add? Not today.

We paddled around as the rather impolite motorcraft buzzed the no wake zone and the jetski crowd terrorized other kayakers. We won’t be returning there anytime soon but will instead head off to the body of water nearby that doesn’t allow motors. We can paddle and fish in relative peace there.

Paddling felt good. Being out in the sun felt good. It was restorative to all of us. It was a reminder that there was still something outside of our home compound for us to do. We will do more of it because we can.

Like plastic exposed to the UV of the sun for far too long, people are starting to crack. The stress and strain of trying to get through the day and navigate the world on its new terms is showing across the board. Those who would put their heads in the sand and scream about going back to the way things were are not making the process move any faster. In fact, as is their general wont, they are impeding progress to a solution.

Summer is past its halfway point. It will be autumn before we know it and those of us who signed up for it will be trying our best to get our children educated over the computer. Real people will be forced to make difficult decisions based on very little access to data and in the middle of a field of fear generated for profit and power. The consequences are so very real.

What does one do?

If one has the privilege, one goes to the park and fishes. Or sits outside with a book and tries to forget for a bit.

Everyone’s to do list should include unplugging. The internet isn’t helping.

And Now This…

A Rottweiler Puppy

In the Strange Days we make fun choices. We make them based on having no idea what is next. We know that the days all feel like they are a copy/paste of the day before. Thinking about the future is not an exercise for the weak of stomach. And yet, we must pass the time and find ways to amuse ourselves. We do things that are not exactly impulsive, but perhaps they weren’t on the table when we knew Things.

So a puppy. I hear it’s the new sourdough of the U.S. Epidemic.


A Fly Fishing Reel

When the economy is tanking or the world is ending, what business booms? Bait and tackle shops. Why? Because one of the things we do as people in this country is fish. Even those of us who weren’t raised fishing or who aren’t good at it at all. There is something very therapeutic about pointing a stick at the water and waiting in silence.

My daughter loves fishing. She enjoys it mostly, I think, because she caught a fish her first time out and the fishing bug sunk itself deep into her. She can cast and wait and catch nothing for hours on end. I think it’s the same thing that gets gamblers: that next win is just one more try away.

For my part, I’ve caught plenty of fish. I’m a poor fisherman by any standard, but I enjoy it. The point is to be outside, near some water, and very quiet. Doesn’t hurt that fishing gear is fairly inexpensive (I’m no BASS MASTER!) and a license is cheap. But it can get expensive if you want by simply adding watercraft to the equation.

My family loves going out in boats. We like rowboats, canoes, and kayaks. We got inflatable kayaks for the kids, a paddle-board for my wife, and a fishing kayak for me. Why do I get the fancy boat? Because I’m what my friend kindly calls a “Country Gentleman” and need more buoyancy, thanks for asking.

I doubt that we’ll catch any more fish as we paddle around the lake than we did from the shore, but it frees us up to have different kinds of fun if some of us are more serious about contemplating the shadows under the water than others.

What is all of this, really? A way to get out of the house/compound as the summer drags on into autumn and the current situation stretches into a horizon we can’t see or navigate. It’s a challenge. Being out in a boat alone and having to make your own choices. Is it some kind of subconscious grasping at control? Or is it a palliative? A way to forget the world because all there is in front of you is the bow, the water, and the next stroke of the paddle. Resisting the urge to make this too Hemingway-esque, but there is truth to what we do in the outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, fishing, boating, or camping. There is an element of testing and control.

I’ll dip my paddle in the water this weekend. Push off and see how it goes. No expectations aside from a little quiet.

Mail Order?

A Wooden Pallet

Everything that isn’t food comes to our house directly. UPS, FedEx, Amazon…they back their trucks up and someone hops out, drops a package – or packages – onto the porch and they’re off again. All but UPS gone before the dog can even get a bark out. With UPS, he hears the engine of the truck and loses his mind instantly. UPS wronged my dog in another time. He won’t let it go.

This time, it was a truck with a delivery from IKEA. We needed a medicine cabinet and, well, we liked the one we had in the last house. Apparently, it’s uncouth to take the medicine cabinet when you move, so we ordered a new one.

And the drivers left…the pallet?

This isn’t the worst thing to happen to me. In fact, the beams of the pallet are about the size of lumber that I need for a garage project, so I’m gonna go ahead and disassemble it for reuse. And given the fact that my brother has had difficulty getting lumber (everyone is building a deck this summer for some reason) having this simply show up on my doorstep is a gift not to be squandered.

We’re in a strange place where time isn’t moving the way it should. Or at least not in the way that we expect. We’ve lived in this house since March and haven’t spoken to more than a handful of neighbors because, well, we’re all keeping to our yards and the bits of family in our immediate bubble. No one around here seems to be taking risks. This clearly isn’t Florida. It’s far quieter and people are enjoying what they can of the outdoors before winter arrives again and the walls close in.

I’m trying to remember what I’ve forgotten about these summers. This is one we will not soon forget.

Collecting Projects

A Notebook

Scanning my notebook this morning over coffee and I’ve noticed that I’m logging long lists of projects. Most of them involve time away from screens and no internet connection. Some involve a computer tangentially, but aside from that, they are low-to-no-tech things to do. I have to wonder if part of this extended period away from things is creating an urge simply to stay busy.

It’s the middle of July, but we’re already writing off the fall. We’re wrapping our heads around what will be over the next few months and there is a part of me that is making sure I have a backlog of things to lose myself in as the walls get tight come winter. Work will not slow down. For me, it will likely only accelerate for reasons. My family is going to be trapped in an infinite loop of home school / remote learning. Activities will be limited. These are all horrible to contemplate all day long, but there they are.

So what does one do? Build things. Assemble things. Paint things. Solder things. Carve things. And watch birds. Or paddle on a lake. Or go fishing. Or scribble madness into a notebook that will be lost in a drawer someday. Anything but sit idle.

List after List. Todo after Todo. Finding ways to exercise agency.