September 12, 2019 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

This week has been unusually hot for September, but that was okay because my husband and I decided to go down to the river last night for a moonlight row. The moon was bright and nearly full, rising above the trees soon after we launched our boat in the twilight. The water was perfectly calm, and although the air was still a bit muggy, it had cooled off enough to be comfortable. It was a lovely evening to be out enjoying nature, and the occasional mosquito didn’t bother me much. On the way back to the dock, our boat bumped a log that we didn’t see in the dark, but no harm was done.

We ate dinner pretty late afterward, but that was okay too. To suit the mood, I put this animation of moonlight over water on the digital art display in my dining room. It automatically repeated on a one-second loop, giving the impression of looking out the window at the river—almost as if we were still there.




I hope you’ve been having a wonderful week too!

My husband and I went on a day trip to London, Ontario, last week. We both enjoy sculling, and my husband’s boat needed a small repair, so we decided to take the boat back to the Fluidesign factory where it was made. The owner and his son kindly offered to give us a tour of the facility.

Exterior of Fluidesign factory in London, Ontario

The boats start out as thin sheets of carbon fiber, of various types, which look very much like cloth. They are unrolled and cut to the appropriate size for each particular boat.

Rolls of carbon fiber for making boats.

Then they are put into a mold with resin and baked in a very large oven to harden them. The oven had three boats in it when we looked.

Factory oven for carbon fiber boats.

After the shells are hard, they are finished in another area. The company moved to this building not long ago; it’s larger than the previous facility and has plenty of space to move boats around and work on them. It was fascinating to see how the shells are made. They’re almost entirely hollow, which is why they are light and easy to carry, but they’re also strong. My husband expects to get his boat back on Friday, which will be the next scheduled delivery to Ohio.

Factory floor with boats stacked up on racks.

We enjoyed the road trip too. Canada is a beautiful country, and its drivers are careful and courteous. We saw wind turbines everywhere along the highway, which was in very good repair. London’s neighborhoods looked welcoming and friendly, with many blocks of well-kept houses with lovely flower gardens on tiny lots. Now we’re thinking that it would be fun to go back to London sometime to row in a regatta!

June 20, 2019 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

One of the things I enjoy about the rowing club is that we always have plenty of wildlife to see along the river. This spring there was a nesting killdeer (a small bird in the plover family) near the boathouse. She laid eggs in the grass, but they got run over by the park district’s lawn tractor. Then she tried again, carefully building a nest with tiny pebbles at the edge of the gravel path between the boathouse and the dock. One of our club members noticed the nest and put traffic cones around it. My husband took a photo.

Nesting killdeer on a gravel path between two traffic cones.

Because of the cones, the eggs (there were two) survived a large weekend Learn-to-Row class when several boats were carried to and from the dock multiple times. The story does not have a happy ending, though, because on the Tuesday after the class, early morning rowers found that both the eggs and the bird had disappeared. A predator evidently got to the eggs overnight, and possibly ate the bird too, although I think it’s more likely she just flew away because there were no bones or feathers anywhere nearby.

The ways of nature can be hard. Small birds that lay eggs on the ground generally have a high failure rate for the nesting season. Perhaps the killdeer will have better luck next year; but I was left feeling glad to be a human in a safe, comfortable house.

May 9, 2019 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Over the weekend I attended a rowing camp. The local rowing club arranged for a professional coach to visit and hold a three-day camp on our river, with morning and afternoon sessions each day. The forecast called for rain and high water on Friday, however, and that left us concerned that we might have to cancel the rowing camp if the river got too high.

The weather turned out all right, although the morning group spent part of their time on the indoor rowing machines on Friday because of heavy rain and debris in the river. The rain had mostly cleared up by the time my husband and I arrived for the afternoon session. Although the air was still a bit chilly and the river was flowing faster than usual, the water was very smooth and calm.


We learned some useful tips at the camp that should make us better rowers, and everyone had a good time. I was glad that we hadn’t let weather worries deprive us of the opportunity!

I recently volunteered to become the webmaster for the rowing club, which has had various people contributing to its website over the years. Without someone responsible for coordinating the content, the site ended up with outdated pages and not enough fresh material.

A blog post about our “spring break” trip to Tennessee, which had good participation and was a lot of fun for all the members involved, seemed the obvious place to start. I got some photos from one of the trip’s organizers, who often takes pictures of club events. Here’s one of me carrying the bow of a double:

Meg Evans carrying boat at Melton Lake in Tennessee

The weather was gorgeous, and although I got a bit sunburned from so much rowing (some peeling skin on the backs of my hands), it felt like a great adventure. I wrote a cheerful post about what a good time everyone had. The organizer who gave me the photos enjoyed the post so much that she sent an email to all the club’s members complimenting my writing, with a link. It’s always good to be appreciated!

Last weekend I rowed a single scull in a regatta for the first time. The race was on Saturday afternoon in Tennessee, and although I didn’t know it, a major windstorm was blowing in from the northwest. When I rowed a double with my husband earlier that day, the water was getting choppy, and we had a difficult time keeping our speed up. We don’t have as much experience in windy conditions as many other rowers because our usual course—on a river in Dayton, Ohio—often has calm water.

When we got back to the dock, I had only a few minutes to use the restroom and pin my number onto my uniform before I was right back out there. I could have waited a little longer, but I wanted to make sure to reach the starting line (this was a 5K race) in plenty of time, which I did. So there I was, just sitting in my tiny boat waiting for my race to start, getting blown all around by the wind (racing sculls are narrow little boats generally, and my boat is more so than most, because I am a small woman).

Fortunately, an official noticed that all the competitors were there waiting and started us early, so I didn’t have too much time to get nervous. Two women who were much better at rowing in choppy water passed me before too long, but I managed to stay ahead of another rower and to make some progress against the wind, while telling myself it would be okay. My time was slow, but for a first race it wasn’t too bad, and I had no mishaps and didn’t capsize—so all was well.

The trip back to Dayton, driving into the oncoming windstorm with our boats strapped to the roof of the SUV, was more of an adventure than we would have liked. My husband was very thorough about making sure everything was well secured before we left; and although the winds got so gusty that he had to stop beside the highway and put on every extra strap we had, it was all okay—except that we had to drive so slowly that we didn’t get home in time to order the pizza we’d been planning to get. No worries other than that!

Word-art that says "Don't worry about a thing. Every little thing is gonna be alright." -Bob Marley

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

Last week the rowing club was more adventurous than usual, traveling to a large regatta in Florida. My husband and I stayed with another club member at his mother’s house not far from the race course. She is a delightful English lady who loves to have guests and is very outspoken, making blunt remarks such as “Absolute rubbish!” when, for instance, my husband suggested that we might take our clothes to a laundromat rather than inconvenience her by using her washer and dryer.

She is 86 years old and very active, going sailing once a week and doing charitable work regularly. When the heat got to me on the practice day before the races started, she sympathized with me by saying that she recently had gotten rather dehydrated playing tennis for two hours on a hot day.

That evening I still didn’t feel quite right after rowing and being outdoors for a long time in the heat. When I got in bed, I felt as if it might be rocking gently, like a boat. That reminded me of reading Kon-Tiki as a child and pretending that my bed was a balsa-wood raft floating across the Pacific Ocean. So, as I couldn’t get to sleep right away, I decided to populate this imaginary scenario with my adventurous future self, Fannie. I pictured us looking up at the stars from a natural-fiber mat on the raft, with plenty of comfortable pillows.

Photo of the Kon-Tiki raft in its museum.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)


“So, Fannie,” I asked her, in my best faux-English accent, “would you say that the stories our culture tells about aging are absolute rubbish?”

“No, I wouldn’t actually,” she said, drawing out the vowel into an absurdly long ‘ah’ sound, “and by the way, you are rubbish with ah-ccents, and I never got much better with them over the years. So we might do better to stick with ordinary American conversation, though there’s nobody around but a few imaginary flying fish to hear us embarrassing ourselves.”

Fannie snuggled deeper into the pillows and went on to say, “Putting energy into rejecting a cultural narrative only feeds it more power. What we resist persists; that’s from Carl Jung, a very wise man. When you feel that society has you in a box, there’s no need to kick and beat on the walls. Just look up, and you’ll see the sky and feel a breeze flowing through. The box is not solid. All you have to do is step out of it. Dance and skip out of it. Do handsprings and cartwheels out of it. Oh, was there a box around here somewhere? I hadn’t noticed. Where it went, I can’t say. Maybe it’s in that field over there, behind all those tall weeds.”

“Once upon a time, long, long ago,” I said, getting into the spirit of it, “there were people who thought they had to stay in boxes; or at least, that’s what my great-grandmother told me.”

“Lost in the mists of time,” Fannie agreed cheerfully. “And while we’re on the subject, maybe instead of picturing the archetypal Crone just sitting and telling stories, you might want to invite her to play some tennis. Yes, I know you are rubbish at tennis, but the Crone hasn’t played in many years either. Of course, I’m no better at it, since I am you, so that’s nothing personal.”

I thought that I heard Fannie chuckling quietly to herself, but a fish leaped out of the ocean just then and landed with a particularly loud splash, so I couldn’t be quite sure.

This year my husband and I have been rowing singles many days, rather than only sculling in our double. We bought the singles to celebrate our 30th anniversary, which was in May. It was my husband’s idea and a surprise to me. I had suggested that he might want to look into buying a single because he had been taking a very old club boat to the regattas, and it was too big for him and poorly suited to his rowing style. I never thought about getting one for myself, though. The club boats did not fit me any better (worse, actually), but I was happy with the double, rarely rowed singles, and never had considered racing one.

Now that I’ve had a few months to get used to rowing a single that is the right size and is set up the way I like it, I’ve been starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of taking it to regattas. My husband suggested that I enter an October head race on our favorite course in Tennessee. (Head races are 5K races during the fall season, so-called because they often take place at the head of a river.)

One double and two single sculling boats.

I was wondering how many women would be competing in my age group. When my husband looked up last year’s race, he told me that there was only one rower in the category of women over 50 racing a single. Other regattas that we like to attend are much the same, with very few older women rowing singles; and my practice times are competitive with their race times, despite my lack of experience.

Although that should mean I can expect to win medals, it is also a bit disconcerting. I understand that much of it is generational, in that most women my age were not encouraged to be athletic when we were growing up. A woman of my generation might enjoy racing in a mixed crew with her husband, but she is not as likely to think about signing up for individual events. Younger women often are more adventurous and competitive because the times have changed.

So, it doesn’t mean that I am now so old that my competition has started dying off. Nor does it have any logical bearing on how many years I might be healthy enough to row. The fact that such thoughts even briefly came to mind bugs me anyway, though.

Last year I began writing occasional stories about my fantastically adventurous future self, aka Fannie, mainly to remind myself that there are many other possible futures besides the usual culturally-conditioned aging scenarios. I decided that Fannie should be 119 years old, not because I expect to live to that age or any other particular age, but simply to kick all such expectations much farther down the road.

Some folks really do live that long in the present day, and it seems likely that longevity will increase as a result of scientific advances. That puts Fannie within the bounds of reasonable possibility, although I never intended my stories about her to be realistic, or close to it; they’re aimed more at liberating my thoughts from other people’s overly narrow ideas of what is or should be realistic.

In that spirit, and without making any assumptions beyond observing that the future surely holds more possibilities than we know, I’ve found myself reflecting on the ideas I had about aging when I was a teenager. Back then, to the (very minimal) extent I thought about it at all, I didn’t see myself living past 80, which seemed ancient and very far away. This morning I put a birthday card in the mail for my mom, who turns 80 next week and is generally healthy. My dad and my husband’s parents already are over 80, and whatever notions I might have had about when a person becomes “ancient” have changed accordingly.

So I’m wondering—now that becoming “ancient” seems much farther away than I once imagined it, and there is at least some possibility I could have another half-century or more of healthy life remaining—why should I feel any closer to old age (whatever that may mean) than I felt when I was a teenager?

When my husband and I have been sculling in our double this summer, we’ve been rowing briskly and then picking up the pace as we practice sprinting to the finish. That may seem like a very basic thing to do, but in past years I never could quite manage it. We learned to row only five years ago, taught by volunteer instructors at the club, and we had no proper coaching until we attended a rowing camp last summer.

So when we started going to regattas in our second year of rowing, my idea of sprinting was pretty simple—row as fast as I could and try to keep that up for the whole course (Masters sprints are 1 km). By the time we got near the finish, I didn’t have anywhere near enough energy to go faster.

Then we went to rowing camp last year, where we learned how to set up our boat properly and sit farther toward the stern to get more powerful strokes. And this year, when we attended the camp again, I learned how to pause for just a fraction of a second after dropping the oars into the water, so as to make sure they are fully in the water and not waste my energy. That also helps us to stay better synchronized.

Although it seemed counterintuitive at first, now the boat goes faster even though I’m taking fewer strokes and using less energy. There’s a general life lesson in there, I’d say. When we take a moment to slow down and make sure we are properly situated, that can result in getting things done more quickly and effectively.

When I was looking online for a sculling photo to illustrate this post, I came across one that was taken with the Royal Dutch Mint in the background:

Sculler in front of the Royal Dutch Mint.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

So far my husband and I haven’t done a lot of traveling to regattas—we go down to Tennessee a few times a year, but that’s usually as far from home as we get. It would be fun to have a rowing adventure in Europe someday, though!

I started writing this post last weekend when my rowing club went to the US Rowing Masters National Championship regatta, which was in Oak Ridge, Tennessee this year. The club has only one member who rows fast enough to win medals in such a competitive event, but the rest of us had fun anyway. My husband volunteered to tow the boat trailer with his SUV. Going through the mountains with it was an adventure; but he is a good driver, and all went well.

We have rowed at Oak Ridge before in smaller events. It is a beautiful course and very well maintained. The only problem I have is that being outdoors for a long time in the hot, humid Southern air gets to me after a while. So, while my husband watched some races on Saturday in the heat, I sat in a lounge chair by the hotel pool and stayed comfortable in the air conditioning.

Hotel pool and my tanned legs on a lounge chair.

Masters athletic events are interesting because they are such an attitude adjustment with regard to society’s views about aging. Little old ladies in rowing shorts and tank tops were walking around with 30-foot boats on their shoulders. The boats are made of carbon fiber, so they’re not all that heavy; but rowers do need to be reasonably fit.

While I sat by the pool daydreaming, I thought about what the world might be like in a future where older people could expect to stay fit and healthy. By that I don’t mean some amazing new scientific discovery to prevent aging, but just incremental advances on where we are now: better nutrition, exercise, and medical care, along with a shift in cultural expectations so that older people wouldn’t assume poor health was normal and would take better care of themselves accordingly.

Like all of us, I have my share of aging myths that grow like thorny weeds in the subconscious, whispering that every little ache or twinge is a symptom of decline. In today’s culture it may not be possible to root them all out entirely, given how pervasive they are. Still, as with any garden, a thriving mix of tall flowers and thick shrubs can overshadow the pesky weeds enough to keep them tiny and insignificant.

So—what healthy ideas could I plant in my subconscious to crowd out negative views of aging? After giving that question some thought, I decided to visualize what I’ll be doing in 2083. I picked that year because it will be a full century from when my husband and I met in college. Because some people really do live that long in the here and now, it wouldn’t require major advances in longevity science.

I wasn’t composing a bucket list or anything that I really planned to do; it was just a few random, stream-of-consciousness imaginary adventures. Because I already had rowing on my mind, I first pictured myself traveling to Australia with my husband to row a new boat with the latest 2080s technology at a regatta in Sydney. Then I thought, well, this is far enough in the future that maybe we’re booking a vacation at a hotel in a colony on Mars. Or traveling to California in a flying RV. Or working on interesting projects that involve very cool futuristic technology, getting paid lots of money to work part-time hours because of the future economy’s labor shortage.

As I see it, there’s no downside to imagining myself fit, healthy, and adventurous many decades from now. Maybe it won’t happen, and instead I will have been in the grave for a long time by then; but if it turns out that my imaginary adventures were too farfetched, I don’t suppose my ghost will care.