March 3, 2009

Today I hit the 45 mark. Depending on your age, it either seems
young, old, or normal. I guess I’ll stick with young then, seeing that my
dad would think I was young since he is 75. My mom died at age 44, from
cancer, one of those things that can be hard to know you even have. Elvis
Presley’s mom died of cancer at 43 and then he self-destructed at that age
because he was convinced that he, too, would get sick and die. When I
heard that story, the 44 year old mark became some kind of landmark for me.
Not a stressful one, but one that I never forgot. I think I was 18 when I
heard that story on Denis Whately’s “Psychology of Winning” tapes. The
idea was the mental obsessions have physical manifestations. And in Elvis’
situation, he was so focused on thinking that he would die at the same age
as his mom, that he actually died within a week of her age. When I was
18 I remember thinking how stupid that was and the that would be the last
thing I would do. 27 years later I still remember that story and still
denounce the idea that it even affects me in any way, but yet, every year I
remember that story right around my birthday. For a long time it was, “I
wonder if I’ll be thinking about this on my 44th birthday?” This year it is
finally a thing of the past, and I am one year older than my mother ever
made it to. It is hard to believe, now, just how young my mother was when
she died. Well, that is about as much thought as I’ll put into the whole
dying thing at this time. Thoughts of parties, playing, kayaking, and
catching up with Kristine and KC are what I am thinking about now!

Kristine arrived home from Switzerland last night at 1am with KC. She went
and met with Lluis from Spain (Chairman of the ICF freestyle committee and
the organizer of the 2001 World championships), and Jon from France, also on
the committee with her, and Ingrid from Germany, and then Kristine from USA.
These people had 4 days of meetings to take assure that the rules we compete
under for freestyle keep evolving and allow the new tricks, the combos, and
the way we can paddle now be rewarded in competition. They did an awesome
job and I am very excited to be fully updated, but got the basic ideas from
them over the weekend. This is another banner year for Freestyle Kayak
competition as the World Championships are happening and the new updated
rules will be used.

I have a big fire in the fireplace. I lit it at 5:20am this morning. This
may be the record low temperature in Rock Island for my birthday. 17
degrees. Normal low temps are 43 this month. The birds are in the
feeders eating the seed like there will be no end to the winter. This year
the trees were smarter than last year. They didn’t bud early and then die
due to a late frost and cold snap. I hope this cold snap reminds them to
sleep a little longer and come out on March 15th or so. The river is
flowing naturally at about 4,000 cfs and they are only releasing 3,400. The
lake is at 800 feet above sea level, and they’ll have to open up the spill
gates if it goes much higher. It won’t until it rains again, but all of
the stars are aligned right now for a sick March at Rock Island. Full lake
and good inflow, and two rains on the way. A small one on Saturday and then
two days on Tuesday and Wednesday next week! This will force them to open
up spill gates, giving us high water Brave Wave, the Massive Main Hole, the
Falls, Sieve City, and more all in my back yard. This is my final month
at home until we begin the Fun tour as well, so perfect timing! On March
31st we head to Mexico for 6 days of steep creeking action, as part of
Nick’s extended bachelor party, and then head to the Mexico coast for Emily
and Nick’s wedding on the 11th of March. After that it is back to the
USA, pack up the RV and head off on tour!

Back to my birthday. Kristine told me that I wasn’t allowed to work today,
in the afternoon. She has something planned for me, but I don’t know what.
She is asleep at the moment, recovering from her 24 hour travel from Europe.
Snow storms, etc. delayed flights. On my agenda is paddling, playing
some pinball with the kids, Frisbee golf in my front yard, hang out with KC
and Kristine, and with a little luck, eat some great Kristine meals!

The day after my 45th birthday is another landmark moment in my life.
Emily moves out of the house! Only 18 years old, but the most mature and
grown up 18 year old I can imagine, she and Nick bought their own house on
the lake a month ago. They have been getting it ready to move in for the
past month. Tomorrow, they’ll make the jump from living in our house here,
to their own house. Emily is quite attached to her room here and tells us
we are not allowed to do anything to it. I am so happy that we built this
house when we did. She never had her own room and never was attached to any
“home”. This is her home, where she “grew up”. Her house is 2 miles from
here and has awesome property. They go down some steep cliffs to the water
and there is a 100 foot and a 35 foot cliff jump in their back yard!

So one kid is moving out, getting married. Dane got braces yesterday and
really isn’t a little kid any more. At 15 years old I must say he is
going through those, boy to man changes that has him growing fast, and
growing up. He is a lot like me so the growth stint mentally probably
won’t go past 16, like with me. Permanently immature and like it that way.
We’ll see. My other child, on my 45th birthday is getting “so big” and
rolled over! Yes, I have a little baby again and I am running over some
familiar ground on this one. Feedings, playing, diapers, and that too cute
to resist look on his face that makes me fall in love with him every time I
see him. I am hooked, no matter how hard I tried to convince Kristine
that she was crazy to want another kid when we were stretching across the
finish line. Now, I am 100% a proud and happy papa of two big kids and one
really little one.

My birthday is but a bookmark in the story of my life. I think I’ll leave
this bookmark in, permanently. So much is happening in my life at this
moment. Tons of great stuff, plenty of challenges. With the economy
being so shitty at the moment, owning a small business like Jackson Kayak
requires your best work and lots of help to survive. People have to buy
boats or there is no kayak business. I hope that paddlers will paddle a
lot and live their lives with passion this year, and not hunker down and
hibernate. Either way the landscape of this business is quite different
than it was a year ago. Riot already went bankrupt. With less boats
being purchased your purchases will determine who survives and who doesn’t.
You have several choices. Choose wisely, based on what you want to see for
the future.

Meanwhile, I think KC just woke up so I can go play with him!

See ya on the river,

EJ