May 30, 2013

Song O' The Day

Heard this one on Itunes "British Sixties Radio" station:

May 23, 2013

River Song

Thanks to my friend Steve for originally posting this:

Columbus Ga. Whitewater Park

The new whitewater park is officially opening in Columbus Georgia.  Call 706-317-6000 for water release times at north highlands dam.  I look forward to visiting this playboating mecca!

May 22, 2013

Words to kayak by

This blog post and video by pro-boater Natalie Kramer pertain to learning anything, not just kayaking:

Since this is a long video, Natalie posted the following:
Video Guide- Because it is pretty long. Now you can just jump to the section you may be interested in: 1. INTRODUCTION (2:48-16:03). Rachel Garza Introduces Me (2:48-5:00) I start my talk (5:00)
2. SKILLS (16:03-43:25). This was by far the longest portion of my talk and perhaps the most tedious. (16:03-19:02) Intro. (19:02-26:20) I go through my timeline and growth as a paddler (26:20-26:57). My pet peeve, the question: "How many years have you been boating?" (26:57-32:17). I talk about what I have learned about how to learn, valuable lessons from my violin teacher. (32:17-42:33) I go through some specific ways kayakers can improve their skills.
3. AWARENESS (43:25-48:03).
4. COMPORTMENT (48:03-56:28).
5. CONCLUSION (56:30-end)

May 16, 2013

Elizabeth Cotton

As avid readers of this blog know (that was sarcasm), I am a big fan of Elizabeth Cotton.
Here's a blog post about her and  her song Shake Sugaree, sung by her granddaughter:

Read it a few times.

May 11, 2013

Yet More Family History

Ellis Island records of my ancestors' arrival in the United States
My Giardina Family came over on this ship which you can find at
Date: October 22, 1898
Ship of Travel: Victoria
Port of Departure: Naples
Manifest Line Numbers: 0007 – 16

As on manifest
7. - Teresa M. Varca – 49 yrs. widow

Teresa's Children - Mama's great Aunts and Uncles

8. Rosalia Giardina - 18 – called Aunt Lily “Zia Salia”
9. Damiano – 16 yrs. [my mom does not remember him, maybe stayed in new Orleans?]
10. Croce Giardina - 13 yrs. -called Aunt Ruth in America – “Zia Cruchee”
11. Paolo Giardina - 11 yrs.- Zio Paul - Uncle Paul
12. Michele - 9 yrs. Zio Mike – Uncle Mike

13. Andrea Butera 34yrs married to daughter Rosalia - called Sara
14. Rosalia Butera - 6 yrs. – Andrea Butera's daughter from a previous marriage - Called Lily in America -she married step-uncle Paul (Paolo- and had one child – Vincent “Big Charlie” Giardina – (Rosalind Giardina Ranelli’s father)

15 Giuseppe Butera 1 yr. - Andrea and Sara's first Son Joe
16.Rosalia Giardina Butera - 22yrs - called Sara (We think her name was Rosaria and so called Sara)

On that ship manifest - the Victoria, arriving on October 22, 1898 were My Great-great Grandmother Teresa Varca (Giardina) but they misspelled her name when transferring it to text - the text document spells her maiden name "Karea" but it is really Varca (Giardina.) My mother says that Teresa's husband - I am not sure of his first name, but possibly Vincent had a grain Mill in Sicily on a river. One night there was a storm and he knew that he should go out and grind some wheat into flour while the river was moving so fast. When he got there, he slipped and hit his head on a rock and died.
So his widow, Teresa Varca Giardina, my formidable great-great-grandmother, gathered up all of her children, including her oldest daughter Sara (Rosaria) and Sara's husband Andrea Butera and their 2 children, and came over on the Victoria in 1898 sailing from Naples.
Imagine being a widowed woman in Sicily, gathering up a big extended family and organizing and funding the trip for them all to come to America.
On the ship manifest, they wrote that that their destination was New Orleans so they did go to New Orleans for a while, but eventually ended up here, in Birmingham, Alabama.  There were a lot of immigrants here from her town of Bisaquino and she probably had friends here. Teresa opened a pasta factory (!!!) and opened a general store for her daughter "SARA BUTERA GROCERY" where she sold all kinds of food and Italian products which were probably brought in from New Orleans.  
Teresa was a strong woman!
Her daughter Sara and husband Andrea also bought property in Ensley and rented the small houses that they bought - and were quite wealthy. Their children were Toney, Vincent but called Charlie -Charlie was (all the Giardina "Charlie's" were really named Vincent - my theory is that the Vincenzo nickname is Cenzo (chinzo) and that sounded a little like charlie??) But Sara and Andrea had a son (Vincent) and our mama called him her Uncle Charlie and he was her favorite uncle because he would give her a penny if she ran into him outside - he is the uncle that gave her the penny for the red sucker in the story "The Easter Prize") and that is why Rick's (my brother) second name is Charles.  Uncle Charlie used to drink and one time the police thought he was "very drunk" and picked him up and put him in jail - he may have been drinking, but he was also sick with an aneurysm and he died in the jail.  My mama remembered her grandmother Sara mourning for him very loudly and I guess typical Italian woman wailing - God bless her. He was very handsome too.
(My sister Kathy writes:)I know there was a Joe Butera but I get confused too. I think there was a Joe Giardina that married Rosina?? And then Joe Butera that married Pauline Schillaci - they may have only been cousins by marriage as after Papa Andrea died Grandma Sara Giardina Butera married Mr. Schillaci - He was the one that grew all of the food and vegetables and had all kinds of fruit trees and had the animals too for food. (Regina (our cousin) and I were talking about trying to go find where Papa Schillaci's big garden was in Ensley and see if there are any of his plants and trees still growing there wild.) -
Their son Toney (my grandfather) married Kathryn Williamson (my grandmother) and had eight children - Andrew, Thomas, Joseph, Vincent, Sara (my mother), Mary Elizabeth, Catherine, and Rose Lee. They did quite well until the depression of 1930, the year my mother Sara was born.
Mike Giardina's children
John (who died as a child - had mastoid in his ear he was the sweetest thing - my mom remembers when he died),
Vincent called Charlie (Little Charlie) died at about 21 years of age, - had motorcycle - doctor removed tonsils and he bled to death.  (From our cousin, also named Mike Giardina - Little Charlie was a dare devil on the motorcycle and apparently everyone figured he would eventually get killed on that bike. My dad said Little Charlie would ride the bike down Ensley Avenue wide open and standing on the seat with no hands. He did in fact die from bleeding after his tonsils were removed.)
Called Little Charlie I guess to distinguish him from his cousin, uncle Paul's son Big Charlie.
Teresa - oldest and she was dark complexion like Kitty - beautiful hair - married first cousin from NY and left. (Her son had disease where you can't rebuild bones if broken - bones fractured too easily & Teresa cared for him almost all her life.) (Second son okay.)
Nancy - Never married - seamstress - could make anything - suits that looked like from Blacks Tailor- perfect tailoring.
Mike (my father), - moved to Houston (dance studio - his wife was a great dancer) Marie Lanza beautiful and petite.Sang in choir at St, Anthony's absolutely beautiful voice sang solos.
Joseph - was quiet married Rosina Triola - daughter drapery business and rents space from Regina Butera's shop in Homewood
Mary - Pumilia - later married a cousin of Marie -
Uncle Paul Giardina's son Vincent called "Big Charlie" married Lena Ciccio had Rosalind, Marie.& Paul
Sara Giardina Butera (my great-grandmother) had 
Andrew (my grandfather), who married Katie Williamson (my grandmother). Their children - Andrew (Rose Macanally)- Thomas (Matilda Rosato)- Joseph (Betty Woodall )- Vincent (Martha Woody?)- Sara (my mother) (Sam Ranelli) - Mary Elizabeth called Mae (Sammy Cantevespre) - Kathryn called Kitty (Dale Carra), Rosalie (Gerald Turner).  Andrew Butera died around 1941, my mother Sara was 11.  He was in a tuberculosis ward.  All of my mother's brothers served in WWII.  For that matter, my father and all his brothers served in WWII as well.

Homemade tortillas

I made homemade tortillas last night, in a flurry of wax paper, flour, rolling pin, dough hands, and hot iron skillet.  In other words, this process is messy.  But they came out delicious, staggeringly delicious.  My mom would have appreciated these tortillas.  Giving it a go making them at home is the sort of thing she would do.
I used the recipe listed here:

The author uses milk but I didn't have any, so I used water.   Didn't matter.  I think it's the coconut oil that made them so yummy.  Mine also didn't come out as lovely as those in the picture the author posted:

one day my tortillas will be as pretty as these!
I didn't take a picture of my creations to share with you today, they are just not pretty enough for the interwebs.
I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for fajita meat.   I cooked some of the chicken sliced with bell pepper and onion in a skillet.  Then I served this on a tortilla with some fresh guacamole and fresh salsa, a dollop of sour cream and some fresh tomatoes.  And laughed because it was *so good*.
Coconut oil - if you use expeller-pressed, it has no coconut flavor.  I use both kinds available for different things, expeller-pressed for things like the tortillas, and cold-pressed for stir fry recipes.

May 10, 2013

yeah so

email me already.

On a more familiar note,

2 years today

Since mom passed.  Miss you Sara.

The band that almost was

I've wished for another band that never happened:  A Beach Boys/Beatles collaboration project. What if they had made music together around the time of 1968...  hmmm make that 1967?  It would have had brilliant ingredients, maybe the recipe would have been... Wonderful.    (BTW if you've never explored the "Smile" era of the Beach Boys you really should. Yes I'm talking to you.) 


May 9, 2013

LiquidLogic Stomper 80 review

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Upper Nantahala for the first time, and demoed a LiquidLogic Stomper 80 for the first time as well.  The Upper Nanty was around 550cfs (our guess). My friend Chip was kind enough to bring his Stomper for me to try.  My stats are 5'6", 160. I took a gamble that Chip's seat position would be right for me, since we are around the same height - and it was. He had the seat slightly back from center.  On my own boats I have had the seat as forward as possible, so this was a different setup for me, and it worked well.  I had to move the bulkhead up one notch. Carrying it down the riverbank I could tell it was lighter than some other creekboats I've paddled, which is important to me.  Some of the best class III - III/IV Alabama creeks have hikes to and/or from the putins and takeouts, as well as portages that can be challenging.
There was a large group of paddlers putting on at the same time as us, and I knew several of them.  At first I tried to join their group but after considering the logistics etc. Chip and I decided to bomb down by ourselves instead.  For me this was a set of brave decisions - first D of a continuous class III run, in a boat I'd never paddled, read and run with one other paddler.    Somehow I just knew it was going to be fine, and it was.
The Stomper paddles smaller than its 80 gallons. It felt like a smaller boat in some ways than my 72 gallon Riot Magnum. Correction strokes were easy though I kept trying to do an open-faced bow draw to turn, sweep was what was needed and I said it out loud after the first couple of times, "sweep dammit". I had this same habit in the Wavesport Recon (which I recently demoed) and it will simply not work when I try to bow draw to turn in these boats. 
My posture was not the best and I kept telling myself to sit up and forward. Good thing is the Stomper stern isn't grabby like the Magnum can be so I wasn't punished. My only flip was at the top hole of the first big rapid after getting dried out on a rock (PB&J rapid). My only option from the pin was to go down the main drop backwards. I went on a low brace in a crazy suspension of secondary stability on edge - my Remix does this too btw - then flipped over, a few helmet knocks, I swept out for my c2c roll and it rolled effortlessly. I was stoked after that.
The Stomper is quick to turn, effortless to boof, and easy to maneuver.  It does however require driving, rewarding good forward posture and keeping an active paddle in the water. It's not a float and let-the-boat-do-its-thing kind of boat, at least not for me. 

The Bad-Ass Outfitting is familiar to me from my Remix 69.   It's comfortable and plush and I think it helps my posture (which needs all the help it can get).   I don't like the way the paddling goes over the hippads and cockpit rim, sometimes that part gets in the way when I get in the boat and I wonder sometimes if the skirt rand is going to seal well over it, but to be honest I haven't had any problems with the skirt coming off or imploding on my Remix.   
The thigh-hooks are adequate but I much prefer aggressive (ala Wavesport) thigh hooks.  I never had a problem with my legs popping out of the LiquidLogic thigh hooks during my demo but if I bought a Stomper I would have to add foam knee blocks to approximate the contact of a more aggressive design.
I don't have any 'cons' for the boat construction except the foam pillar.   My Magnum has a foam pillar too but it seems like the plastic pillars are more sturdy and add the feature of a step-out in case of a vertical pin, though again they add weight.   There are several bars on the deck of the Stomper for attachment of a z-drag.  The grab loops are bars as well, these are bomber but not the most comfortable to use to carry the boat.  Together they add up to 5 attachment points.  My Magnum has four and they're all webbing handles not bars.   The Stomper has the LiquidLogic bulkhead which works well, supplied with foam to pad it out.   I think the Recon's plastic pillar and spring-loaded bulkhead are the reason it
 is so heavy by comparison.
Did I feel invincible in it? No, it had to be driven and was sporty. The Recon in comparison feels like a tank conquering all beneath it. Was it forgiving even though it felt sporty? Hell yes. Did I love it? Yes.
The following weekend I ran the Middle Tellico in my Magnum and I was wishing I was in the Stomper.  It's just more comfortable and a faster, more fun ride. 
So far I have really enjoyed demoing creekers.  I had a blast in both the Wavesport Recon 83 and the Liquidlogic Stomper 80 and it may come down to the weight of these boats as to which one I choose to replace my old faithful Magnum.    
I do want to demo a Dagger Nomad 8.5 as well.  NOC would not let me take a Nomad demo down the Upper Nantahala, I wonder why? B^)  Chip is selling his Stomper to get a Nomad 8.5, because he feels at his weight (about 175-180) and with added gear the Stomper 80 is just a bit too small for the (much harder) whitewater he runs, and the Stomper 90 is way too big.  This illustrates the fact that a big part of choosing a creekboat is choosing one suitable for your size and the type of runs you want to paddle, even if you choose a different brand of boat than you usually prefer.  

May 8, 2013


Excellent post about fear and expectation

Wonderful post by Lydia Cardinal on H20Dreams founder Chris Wing's blog here:

"Fear is the biggest opportunity we have, both on the river and off. Easy doesn’t pay out. If I want to keep moving forward- as a boater, as a human- I’ve got to seek out those moments with healthy amounts of fear- and don’t misunderstand me: I’m not talking about being reckless. I’m talking about taking the road less traveled for you."

Lynn Rasmussen on Calvert Prong

Great Song

Hee hee

May 7, 2013

Great blog

Looking for a great blog to read, fellow whitewater enthusiast?  Check out this one:

May 5, 2013

This is hilarious

David L. posted this on Christine's FB page for her birthday and we were all singing it...

May 4, 2013


Have you heard a song for decades and never understood what it meant... and then you hear it on the radio and you realize it's got some relevance to your life. Well for me of all songs I would not expect it to be this one: " sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see... lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it's been." This after playing guitar last night and driving in the rain this morning to go paddle.