Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Birthday and A Present

I turned 52 yesterday. Not a grand accomplishment, but not bad either. With no strokes for two and half years, and being back to work full time again, I decided I didn't have enough excitement in my life. So I bought a pair of skis and then a pair of boots. This was good, but kind of limited in the excitement area. You can only ski a limited part of the year and sometimes I believe I can ski better than I can walk, so its not much of a challenge, even if I haven't skied since the stroke.
The stroke did some funny things. I am very uncomfortable fly fishing now, or found it very unnerving to be wading in moving water. I will to try it again, but not right now. Likewise, when I tried to tie flies, it was terribly frustrating. But, I have enjoyed gardening and wood working. A new cherry bookcase appeared in our living room, we had a wonderful flower garden for cutting this summer and my Dad's roses have been successfully transplanted to our side yard.
So a while ago, looking around Craigslist, a boat caught my eye. It was born the same year as I was, 14 feet long, made of mahogany and sold by Sears. I initially resisted and forgot about it. But after another search of Craigslist I found it (after two or more weeks had passed). The end result found Maria and I driving around Wayne County trying to find an address, me writing a check and now me trying to find a place for this new project. So I bought myself a birthday present.
I have always felt boats were a hole in the water you throw money into. This one came with a low price tag, but I am afraid of what the final cost will be. I am figuring out it's pedigree. It's hull was made in Texas, shipped by train to Penn Yan, finished by the Angler Boat Company and sold by Sears and Roebuck as an Elgin.
It needs a motor, steering, seats, lights, lots of bright work, a few repairs, bottom paint, top varnish and then trying to get the thing legal. That said, I anticipate taking our mahogany runabout to Pittsford with my bride for a dinner on the canal. Or a nice day on Canandaigua Lake. It is small enough to be doable, big enough to be usable and could be a lot of fun.
I guess I have recovered from my stroke, though I will never have recovered. I still have speech problems, I still have balance problems, I still panic at times that I am not acting appropriately. These will always haunt me. I am too far advanced for speech therapy, a physical therapist can't find my balance problems and for the most part I do fine in social situations (though Maria too often ends up on the receiving end of inappropriate behavior. And I am sorry.)
So for the most part this blog will be turned towards the restoration of an Elgin fourteen foot mahogany runabout. I think the progress will be slow initially, but I am excited. At another time in my life I spent a lot of time with a boat builder, so this one is for you Mike. In a year or two, look for the bearded gray haired man and the pretty blond woman in the mahogany outboard.
I have had a stroke and it has changed my life in many ways. I will never be the same, but I don't see that as a problem, it is a challenge. The world is never the same from one day to the next, but I survive in it and thrive in it. And I get more resilient and stronger every day, stroke or not. Now it's time to keep moving.