Return to Andersonville Island

Return to Andersonville Island-109

Just because it’s December doesn’t mean that we stop paddling. Heck, for this particular trip we even went swimming, but that’s getting ahead of things a bit. Fellow explorer, and now fellow paddler Mark Elbrecht proposed a trip out to Andersonville Island to see if we could spot the ruins that everyone says are there. Bennie Waddell had just gotten a new kayak, and I lacked only 6 miles to push me over the 200 mark for the year. Of course, agreed to come along. Turned out to be a great trip with unexpected finds and unexpected excitement. But, I guess the word “unexpected” is redundant. Regardless… Continue reading “Return to Andersonville Island”

The Ephemera of Life

Ephemera of Life 1

Closing out the various properties that belonged to my parents has meant going through boxes and boxes of things we’ve discovered in attics, closets, the garage, and anywhere else someone might hide a box of junk. Most of it is just that – the sort of stuff you save because you think you have to. Some of it looks like trash, but can contain some real nuggets of insight. While probably meaningless to anyone else, to us these bits of paper have revealed another side of our parents, including concerns and other thoughts often unbeknownst to the children at the time. Even though Mom’s been gone for two years now and Dad for five, it’s been like getting to know them and at the same time mourning them all over again. The process has been fascinating, and I thought I’d share some of the discoveries we made while sifting through the ephemera of their lives. Continue reading “The Ephemera of Life”

Amazing Grace

2010 0930 26

This past Tuesday night my Aunt Grace Ellenberg passed away. She was 95. The older sister of my late mother, she led a long, amazing life of adventure that defied the expectations set for a young farm girl from Ninety Six, South Carolina. Grace was a teacher and world traveler, a complex person with a profound Christian faith coupled with a keen intellect and desire to learn. Continue reading “Amazing Grace”

The Zen of Paddling

Indian River Island Hopping on Black Friday-12

This has been a difficult Thanksgiving weekend, but not without things for which I’ve been thankful. One of those has been the ability to escape, even if just for a bit. The pattern has been for me to get in a bit of paddling either at sunrise or in the morning. Either Laura or Amy would head over to Atlantic Healthcare by 9:00 to get their mom up for the day, and I would join them there later (with a banjo on my knee, to quote the old song.) I had to limit these escapes, though. A couple of times I would get some distance from the house, check in with Laura to find her in the midst of dealing with a crisis, then find myself paddling pretty quickly straight back to come assist where I can. In those situations I found myself hitting a zen state, where I become one with the kayak, paddling as quickly and efficiently as possibly to get to my destination.. Continue reading “The Zen of Paddling”

Banjo Therapy

Tom with Banjo

Last winter we discovered that Laura’s mom responds well to my banjo playing. Her memory returns and she claps along. I’ve started bringing it every time we visit, and despite my limited skills she seems to like it. This Thanksgiving has been very difficult, with Mrs. Wright battling infections as well as Alzheimer’s While the banjo hasn’t worked miracles, it has brought some relief. More importantly, I’ve discovered that this therapy isn’t limited to Mrs. Wright. Continue reading “Banjo Therapy”

Paddling to Jack Island

Indian River and Jack Island-4

Ever since we first discovered it nearly 30 years ago, Laura and I have enjoying coming to Jack Island. Jack Island State Park and Preserve is a 340 acre island on the Indian River side of North Hutchinson Island. Trails circle the island and cross it. There is a birding tower on the river side of the island. This was the first place I discovered the thrill of “hunting” birds with a long telephoto lens, and that capturing them in this fashion was just as satisfying (even more satisfying) thank actually shooting something. We try to come back to the island as often as we can when we’re down this way.

Jack Island isn’t very far from Amy’s house. However, I’d never been there by boat. I think I might have paddled past it on one of my extended trips, but I’m not sure. This time I had a goal. I was going to paddle until I found the birding tower. That way I could truly say that I had paddled to Jack Island. Continue reading “Paddling to Jack Island”

Requiem for a Homestead

Gray Court Homestead

It’s the end of an era. Per stipulations of our parents’ will, our family home in Gray Court has been sold. A nice young couple will start their lives in a place I’ve thought of as home for 48 years. I’m not exactly sad. In fact, I’m not sure how I’m feeling. Probably more relief that the place did, in fact, sell quickly, and that there won’t be any lingering issues. We’ve spent the past weeks going through the remaining family items in the house and helping my sister Glynda get moved. As of this weekend, for the first time in nearly five decades, the Gray Court house is no longer occupied by a member of our family. I thought some reflection was in order. Continue reading “Requiem for a Homestead”

Working with Google PhotoScan

Google PhotoScan Screenshot

This week Google was making news with the release of a new app. PhotoScan is designed to capture old photos from photo albums, with algorithms to enhance the photo and minimize glare. I have tons of old photo albums from Laura’s family and from my own family, and I’ve been trying to find the most efficient way to digitize these images with the best possible quality. I figured I needed to give PhotoScan a shot.

Google PhotoScan App Demo

Here are my first impressions… Continue reading “Working with Google PhotoScan”

Paddling through Mordor

Lake Russell at Mountain View-037

I was in serious need of some hydrotherapy. I’d been in a funk ever since the election. To make matters worse, wildfires in the mountains of North and South Carolina had cast a pall of hazy smoke over everything. I told someone that I guess it was appropriate that the world looks like Mordor now that Trump has been elected. Add to that all of the other anxieties in our family life right now, and it was time to hit the water. I was able to find some solace, but it came at a price. Continue reading “Paddling through Mordor”

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