They call him “Boat Flipper”

Don’t like to put the paddle in the water
That would be a crazy thing to do
I don’t want to be no fishes fodder
I don’t want to tip in that canoe

Peter Mayer, “the Canoe Song”

I was pretty stoked to get the kids into our canoe for the first time. Sarah and I bought it when we lived in Reston and hadn’t taken it down off the garage ceiling since we moved to Woodbridge and Lucy was born. So we picked yesterday, Sunday, to go out on Burke Lake with them and see the ducks or geese or whatever and have a good time.

Lucy was immediately scared and wanted to get out, so we cut the first trip kind of short and put Sarah and Lucy on shore. Tess was having a nice time so we went back out. I paddled down the lake and found I was having a lot of trouble with the breeze blowing in toward shore, without Sarah in the front of the boat keeping the center of gravity in the middle and reducing the sail area of the canoe. I was still sitting in the far back, and that made the front of the canoe stick up out of the water and catch the breeze. I was getting blown toward shore, and kept trying to bring the nose of the canoe around into the wind so we could clear the long fishing pier sticking out into the lake, and get over to the landing area on the other side. I gave one especially hard push, and the canoe slid right out from under me, dumping Tess and me into the lake and flipping the canoe right over. We were about 30 yards from shore and the same from the pier, in cold water well over my head.

I can’t remember if the canoe flipped right over top of Tessie or not. Somehow I don’t think so, I don’t think I lost sight of her. But I did start calling loudly for help to the people on the pier. Tess knows how to swim and was wearing her Dora the Explorer life vest, and she did a great job swimming right next to the boat. She of course yelled at me that she didn’t like being in the water and to turn the boat back over. I reached across the canoe bottom, grabbed the rail on the other side, and pulled it back upright, full of water but not sinking since it was fiberglass and lighter than water itself. Then I washed Tessie into it and gathered the paddles and cushions into the boat too – and saw Tigger floating away about 6 feet from the boat. Tessie saw him about the same time, and that’s when she started really screaming. “Tigger! I want my Tigger!” So I grabbed the bow line and swam out to Tigger, hauled back to the canoe and gave him to Tessie.

About this time I saw someone trying to swim out to us. I hope whoever it is is OK, it slipped my mind later to mention it to the rescue crew. I called again for help and a boat several times, wondering why people were still fishing on the pier. I saw at least one person run up toward the boat shack, and I guess it only takes one. For the rest of y’all, I hope we were sufficiently entertaining. More on that later.

Tess cried and said she was cold, and I said, “So am I honey. Someone’s coming soon.” She sat shivering in the canoe holding Tigger, and I swam toward the pier, not making any headway, until the rescue boat finally came a minute or two later. The young men used a grappling hook to drag the canoe over to the boat and lifted Tessie out and wrapped her in a jacket. I swam around the boat to the other side and the young man help me out of the water, I had to hook my heel over the gunnel and he grabbed my arm and hauled me up. So I sat down and held a cold and shivering and crying Tessie as we passed shore and a very unhappy-looking Sarah and Lucy, and got to the dock. Another crew was already out taking care of our boat. I’m not sure that anyone noticed the swimmer.

I told Sarah what happened, and very soon an ambulance came – and a fire truck, and another vehicle with “people in charge”. I answered some questions and then Tessie and I got bundled into the ambulance for a checkup. Lucy came in too so Sarah could go to the car for Tessie’s change of clothes. They helped us warm Tessie up and even gave Tigger his own rescue blankie so he could warm up too. After a little while they said we were free to go, and so we left.

I packed everything up, and realized we were missing our floaty cushions. I went over to the boat shack to ask about them, and a pre-teen boy standing there saw me and got a big goofy look on his face. “Hey are you the guy who flipped the boat and fell in the lake?” “Yes”, I said. He started laughing this kind of “oh ho ho” laugh, which made me mad. I was just about to ask him if he had anything he’d like to tell me when his mom came up. The kid said, “Mom! This is the guy who fell in the lake!”, in that same inappropriate tone of voice. She gave him a look and he finally shut up. She expressed her concern for our health and I thanked her. Then the two of them moved off, and I imagine they had an uncomfortable conversation.

As far as the cushions go, during the excitement the boat crew mistook our floaty cushions as their own and put them into circulation as rentals. They called later to apologize after they figured out what had happened. Guys, it’s cool, it’s the least we can do.

Lessons learned: My big mistake was not to kneel in the middle of the canoe and center the weight. The breeze would have still caught the canoe, but it would have pushed on the back just as much as the front and I’d have had control. The tipping point came as I a gave a hard paddle on the downwind side of the canoe, shifting my weight downwind and bringing the nose out of the water a smidgen more, and the breeze picked up at the same time and pushed a smidgen harder on the sail area, which brought the canoe up a little higher, and tipped it a little further over, and it rapidly fed back on itself, became unstable, and the canoe slipped out from under me upwind. If I were centered, the nose would not have tipped up and I’d have had a lot less excitement.

I hope Sarah writes her own version of events. Apparently Lucy’s reaction after they figured out that it was our boat that capsized was “Oh no, I don’t have a sister anymore.” At least she was sad about it.

The vocal stylings of Lucy Keitt

Lucy loves singing about her friends and how much she loves them.  Sarah captured her on Garageband using the onboard mic in her Macbook (you can hear Tessie and me having a speakerphone convo in the background).  Next stop – Hannah Montana-ville!  Here is Lucy’s song “My Friend I Love You”. She also reinterpreted “Two Voices, One Song” from the Diamond Castle movie.

Princess Wars

Lucy and I made up a game today called “Princess Wars”. Lucy has a playset with a dozen Cinderella and a dozen Aurora figurines, and she wanted the princesses to have a fight. I’ve been looking for excuses to practice addition, subtraction, and simple multiplication with her, so I started making shit up. We used a checkerboard and put 8 princesses on each back row. I didn’t have dice handy so we used playing cards to get “random” numbers. Lucy drew a card and could move any of her Sleeping Beauty figurines any number of squares, totalling the number on the card. So say she drew an 8 – she could move one princess 8 squares, or 2 princesses 4 squares, or one princess 5 and another 3, etc. When she wanted to fight Cinderella, she moved onto a square where there was a Cinderella. Then we had a fight: we each drew a card, and the higher card won the fight and got to bash the other princess around and off the board. Lucy tried moving 2 Auroras onto the same square as a Cinderella, and we decided that she got to draw two cards, and Cinderella’s single card had to beat the sum. When fights ended up tied, then the attacked princess was “banished” to the back row again. So she also learned to gang up and fight with a numbers advantage. She ended up with 2 stacks of 4 princesses that required fairly high draws to move anywhere but were pretty devastating when they attacked. She picked off half my Cinderellas, but I massed the rest and blew apart one of her stacks, then tied the other and banished it to the back row. Before I could capitalize on the separation of her stack and crush her, Max and Ruby came on Noggin and she declared the game over, whisked the figurines into the box and went to watch. I think she might have learned something about numbers though, and strategy, and ruthlessness.

Goodbye, Red

Red was Tessie’s goldfish. She won him at the county fair this summer, and despite a life expectancy of 48 hours he grew to 5 times his original size and lived for 6 months. Lucy won 2 other goldfish, King and Princess, at the same time, and they all shared a 10-gallon tank. Red was the alpha fish, he led the charge for all the food, he splashed his tail to attract attention when he was hungry, and he did not consort with the other fish. I’m afraid I killed him accidentally when after cleaning the tank I replenished it with very cold water, and shocked the fish when they went back in. They all acted quite logy immediately, but Red literally went green around the gills (I’ll never question that particular cliche again) and a few hours later was potty bait. Cause of death – ice cream headache.

We put him in the potty, and Sarah and I sang Taps while Lucy flushed. The girls cried and wailed, so Sarah got them on her lap and said, “Let’s tell stories about Red.” For some reason Lucy immediately got up and ran downstairs, and came back with one of those plastic spring-loaded microphones. We all took turns talking about Red.

The girls gave a eulogy. Lucy’s went like this: “Dear Red. I miss you so much. You were a great little fish and always ate all the food. God, please look after Red and let him swim and be friends with Ariel in the fishy heaven.” Tessie told a little story: “Once upon a time there was a fish named Red, and he lived with me in a tank, and he swam around, and then he died, and then he hid under the potty, and he never came out again. The end.” The pathos of it was mitigated by the fact that they both spoke as loud as they could into that microphone which made them sound like badly produced eight-track tapes. Still, when Tessie put down the mic and teared up and said, “Mommy, I miss my friend Red”, we all had a good cry.

Flower Girls

Lucy was flower girl at my friend Liam’s wedding over July 4th in Grosse Pointe, MI. Tess was an honorary flower girl.
flower girls

The rehearsal dinner featured melty sorbet in grownup glasses.
Lucy sips her sorbet

Tess danced at the reception with her favorite teddy bear named Guggy.
Tessie with Guggy bear

Lucy picked up a man after Tessie shot him down. Go Tessie!
Lucy dancing with a nice fellow from a good family, good prospects, firm handshake

Sarah gave a talk about MS on the Hill

The Society for the Advancement of Women’s Health Research, along with the National MS Society, hosted a primer on MS on Capitol Hill in June 25. Sarah spoke about the experience of having MS, and used some props to give volunteers the feeling of dropfoot, tingling in the hands, optic neuritis, and spasticity in the chest.

One volunteer had to button her shirt while wearing rubber gloves, getting a mild shock on her hands, wearing weights on her wrists, and wearing vaseline-covered glasses.
volunteer buttoning shirt

The panelists included Dr. Heidi Creighton, who is Sarah’s neurologist and sort of a rock star personality among DC-area MS patients. She is standing next to Sarah in this photo.

Ooh! Wedding and Beach Pictures!

Geordie’s cousin Katherine Pendill chose to get married to her honey-bunny Tymon on the incredible island of St. Croix, USVI.

Tymon close upThis is Tymon.

There was a fair bit of drinking going onThere was a fair bit of drinking going on.

an irreverent momentThe giving of the rings was yet another irreverent moment.


Grant addresses the throngGrant addresses the throng.

brother MikeKatya’s brother Mike…

brother Andreand her brother Andre.

big smiles for cakeBig smiles for cake.

our beachThe view from ‘our’ beach.

of course, sunsetAnd of course, sunset.

Ooh! Pretty Pictures!

Sarah was on the cover of a recent edition of MS Insider magazine, and the photographers were kind enough to share all the photos of their session with us.  Here are a few.

all 3.5 of us blondes 

sarah and me  

lucy with daddy 

tess on horsie 
The Landsman guys rustled us out of the house in the early morning while the mist was still in the air and the light was all golden to get these shots.  A few others in the set showed up on 2007’s Christmas cards, which is why they might look kind of familiar…

That’s 4 of us, but only 3.5 heads of hair

Happy New Year to everyone.  Sarah and I and the girls are doing well.  I would like to use this site to keep people up to date on our various doings, so check back from time to time, OK?  

Gee, I wonder how those Keitts are doing?