Category Archives: Sports

Adrift in Books

007_edited-1Today’s writing prompt is the perfect excuse to revisit the post about my raft book collection.

I’m not big on collections. I used to be. I had all sorts of collections. If I saw something I liked, I would start a collection. Until I felt that I was surrounding myself with things just for the sake of surrounding myself with things, and I got rid of most of them.

One collection I still have is my book collection. It’s not a collection like a porcelain elephant collection. My books represent a large part of my life. I’d no less get rid of my books–the ones worth keeping–than I would get rid of baby photos.

And within my collection of books, I’ve allowed myself another collection: raft books.

It all started with this one:

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This 1968 street directory of Sydney and the surrounding area usually lay on our coffee table.

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When we emigrated to Australia in 1965, we lived in a tiny trailer or caravan for the first six months or so. After that we first lived in Dee Why, then in Collaroy, and then in Dee Why again, before moving back to the Netherlands.

But I digress. It all started with the photo on the back of the Gregory’s street directory:

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This photo fascinated me. I could stare at it forever. I still can. Despite the fact that these three kids were obviously very Australian, wholesome, happy, well-fed and well-taken care of, I imagined that they were building that raft so they could run away from home. Or float away from home. In which case they also lived on waterfront property.

Around the same time I was also introduced to survival stories like Robinson Crusoe, and my favorite: The Swiss Family Robinson. These stories also got my imagination going.

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Decades later, when my parents were going to get rid of Gregory’s Street Directory, I saved it. It was the beginning of my collection of raft books.

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My definition of a raft book is very loose. Any kind of book that has any kind of mention or picture of a raft is a raft book. Except for the thousands of books about rafting down the Colorado River, rafting down the Grand Canyon, etc. The travel guide type of raft books are too easy and too numerous to be much sport.

Other than that, raft books include both fiction and non-fiction in which a raft plays a major role, like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Raft Book, an instruction manual for building rafts.

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One of the most riveting survival raft books I’ve ever read is Adrift, by Stephen Callahan. And one of the worst is 65 Days Adrift, by William Butler. Well, it’s the worst in the sense that the author is incredibly unsympathetic. But that in itself is also interesting. It’s the only autobiographical story I’ve ever read by a complete jerk who has no idea that his own writing shows exactly what a jerk he is.

Books that only very briefly feature a raft count as well. An example is Sinister Island, by C. Bernard Rutley. And quality has nothing to do with it. Because Sinister Island is an example of a badly written book of the kind I would usually never even pick up. Part of the point of having a collection of raft books is that I find and read books I usually wouldn’t.

At first I didn’t look up raft books online, because I felt that was cheating. But once I had the most obvious ones, I did google raft books. I’ve got a list on my smartphone, and every now and then I find one of them at the Half Price Book Store. It’s great when that happens.

Ordering raft books that I’ve googled at a regular bookstore would still be cheating, but I do scan the shelves at both regular bookstores and Half Price Books for books that look like they might be raft books. Like the one below, from HPB. Doesn’t it look like there might be a raft in there somewhere? (If you’ve read it, don’t give it away.) And because it’s part two in a series, I had to buy part one as well.

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In the photo below, I’ve only read the last one, a very thin little picture book about words starting with an R. So I still have a couple of delicious raft books to read!

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If you know of any raft books that you don’t see in the photos above, let me know. Especially ones in which a raft doesn’t play a big part, because those don’t show up when I google raft books.

If you want to see most of my collection, visit my Pinterest board about my raft books.

 

Working on Wellness: Yoga Studio, Sworkit and Calm

034_edited-1Yesterday I discussed Habitica, an app that I find not just helpful, but fun to use as an incentive to improve my mental and physical health. Today I’ll discuss the other three, as promised. Continue reading

Five of the Hardest Things I’ve Ever Done

A much younger R

Well, let’s see.

Literally one of the hardest things was the first time I dived off a diving board. This was in a swimming pool in Switzerland. I was twelve, and on vacation with my then best friend Dees. We went to that pool several times, and she dove in like a pro. Toward the end I finally took what was meant to be the plunge. But it was a belly flop instead. Although the term belly flop doesn’t really cover it. A flop sounds soft. This was not soft. In fact, I can still remember just how hard it was, slapping flat onto that water. Very hard indeed. Continue reading

My American Dream

This is what I dreamed last night.

I was in a school gym, remembering how we would be made to run laps around a gym just like that in high school in the Netherlands. And I remembered that I could. I’d be tired, and I’d be protesting loudly like any self-respecting un-sporty teenage girl should, but that’s all. And I resented–in this dream–that I can’t run for two minutes now without having a gimpy knee for the next two weeks (this is real; I ran for two minutes last weekend, and now it hurts when I walk down steps). Continue reading

Introducing the Bakfiets

I don’t have inspiration for anything right now, at least not for anything upbeat, which it is time for after a few rants. But here’s an amazing woman in Portland who cycles around six kids in a bakfiets. (Yep, apparently they’ve adopted the Dutch word. So much better than apartheid!)

Most of those kiddos would be cycling on their own by now in Holland, but I wouldn’t let my kid cycle in American traffic either. But to then get a bakfiets instead of a minivan? Wow! That takes guts, and a hell of a lot of muscle!

Fallen Gods

The other day I was talking with an elderly man while we were both waiting at the garage for our tires to be fixed. He told me his son is a football coach and a teacher—I don’t know what subject he teaches. He worked at a charter school for years until it went under recently. So a little while ago he worked as a substitute at a regular public school for a week. A public school here in Austin in what’s considered a good neighborhood, so it’s a reasonably well-rated school. Continue reading

Red, White and Blue Fatigue

Maybe the biggest difference between the Dutch and the Americans is the American need for patriotic display. The only time the Dutch wave the national flag or play the national anthem (instrumentally–most people don’t know the lyrics past the first three lines) is during an international soccer game. Here in America you can’t turn your head without seeing some form of the red-white-and-blue spirit.

Continue reading