31 December 2009

A Fitting Way to End the Year

I went for a walk.

Happy New Year!

30 December 2009

"Well All Right" Dance Party

I'd never heard the complete Blind Faith album until a few days ago. Oh.my.god. Was I raised Amish and without electricity? How do you cram so much perfection into one album? How?

This year is coming to a close. It's always a relief to let another year pass even though that means another year of my life passed with it. Life fascinates me. I'm interested to see how all of this will turn out. And while I don't want to die tomorrow, I am not fearful of my senior years. I often wonder how I'll feel about the younger and middle aged Surfsister once I'm an old woman (who'll probably still wear Vans as my footwear of choice).

I had two good surf sessions over the last two days. Yesterday's session at RPB was one in which I felt "on". I saw a wave. I got the wave. I saw another wave. I got that one too. And that one. And the other. And several more. I did all of this without being too much of a wave hog. Today's session at TPWSRN was interesting. Victory at Sea conditions prevailed. Nevertheless, the break delivered waves with some semblance of shape. My last wave was a screamer. Really, a screamer. When I made the drop and noticed the wave was over my head, I started screaming. As it closed out in front of me and I straightened out in time to save myself from a pounding, I started screaming even louder! I couldn't kick out of that wave either. It was too powerful. All I could do was hang on as it took me most of the way in. As I stood there, I was thinking I should just end the session with that wave. In other words, I mentally checked out. So what happened? I then tried to paddle back out, got caught on the inside and slowly but surely ran out of steam. I eventually came to my senses and bellied it in.

I'm looking forward to 2010. I know I don't have a job . . . or money . . . or what most Americans would consider a future. I generally live in the moment. My most recent moments have been happy ones. Most of my moments are happy ones. Perhaps in my next life I'll be a grouch, but not this one.

Surf like you mean it. I do.

29 December 2009

Hullo There, Beautiful!

I call this board "Carrot" even though she isn't orange. She is the board that I've designated as my motivation to get this knee to bend even further. The more the knee bends, the easier it will be to pop-up on shorter boards. To date, the shortest board I've ridden was a 7'10" when a friend and I traded boards out in the lineup. My knee tells me it can't go shorter than that. My brain begs to differ. I believe I can and will return to my mid-sized boards.

Truthfully, though, this board came to me as a . . . well . . . a vision. By that I mean there was a board that kept popping into my head. I didn't know what it was. All I could do was describe it. Finally, I told Paul Gross about my visions. I could not get this board out of my head. He immediately knew what I was seeing. "Carrot" is the end result.

She's a seven footer. That's the magic length for a hull. Since I love riding hulls, it made sense that I would get one in the optimal length (even if I'm not sure that I can get to my feet quickly on a board this short). Thank you, Paul! Thank you, Spence!

27 December 2009

Epic Swell? No Comment

Obviously, Santa is a practical joker. I was not at all impressed by today's waves. Wait! I won't blame Santa. I'll blame the forecasters. In fact, I won't even blame them. I'll just politely point out that they were mistaken about what they thought would be a noteworthy swell. What I saw out there today wasn't it . . . even if people told me I got the "wave of the day".

Check this out! That's my boy Ozzie shredding at 46 years old. I love that!! It's easy to rip and run when you're in your teens, 20's and 30's. It gets a bit harder in your 40's. It's not just that time ravages your body. (Face it, all that ripping and running we did in our younger days catches up with us later.) By middle age, we tend to have more responsibilities that take us away from the things we did in our younger years. Not so with Ozzie and so many of us who are now firmly in our middle years. I have no interest in slowing myself down until both my body and my brain tell me it's time to do so. As long as I can hit it hard (and you can define "it" however you'd like), I'll do that.

24 December 2009

All I Want for Christmas?

Some swell would be nice (even though I have a young child and certainly cannot paddle out on Christmas day). I've looked at the forecasts for the next few days. It appears that Santa's got a lot of love for California! In fact, judging by the graphs showing for Monday, he loves us too much. Some of this swell won't be rideable. I'm still sending a hearty "thank you" to St. Nick in advance. There will be something for all of us. That's a certainty . . . if the forecasts are correct.

Have a great holiday! If you paddle out tomorrow, remember how lucky you are to be a surfer. That alone is the gift that keeps on giving.

20 December 2009

Knee Replacement: Eight Months Later

The improvements now are much more slow than before. Nevertheless, the improvements continue. I can finally crouch, painful though it is. In addition to the massage therapy, I've begun forcing the flexion on my own. Several times a day, I kick up my foot behind me and let it rest on a low counter. Then I force a little more bend than I'm used to. Then I hold it. This seems to be working wonders. The way I see it, I've had limited flexion for many decades. It will take some time to regain some of that back. I don't know that I will ever have the bend of my natural knee. It's not something that keeps me up at night by any means.

People tell me I don't surf like I've got a fake joint.

Waves show me no mercy when I get caught on the inside.

I don't have a handicapped parking placard (although it would come in handy at breaks with difficult parking).

I can run if chased.

End of story. While I don't intend to stop talking about the fact that I've had a joint replaced, I see no reason to continue doing monthly updates. I'm better than I've been in a long time—meaning I recognize that the thing I'd feared for the past few years (that is, knee replacement) has come and gone without my life changing drastically.

15 December 2009

Do I Look Like a $%&@$! Rolling Stones Song to You?

I'm always reminded that I'm different. Usually, it's the stares I get as I paddle out to the lineup. Sometimes it's the conversation (which does get old, people) about the fact that the person who initiated the discussion had never seen a black woman surf before.

Today it was the guy telling me he'd come up with a nickname for me. (No, I didn't know this freak of a man.) Then he apologetically told me he was going to call me "Brown Sugar".

Now really. Really? Really? While he did not say anything overtly racist or insulting, I'm certain he would not have been amused if he'd paddled out to a lineup full of black folks and I'd said, "Hey there, Frosty the Snowman!"

I've seen a dwarf surfer a couple of times. Do you know what I did? I watched him surf. I did not stare. I watched him like I watch other surfers on waves. In my eyes, he was a surfer. Period. I did not paddle up to him to start a conversation about the two of us being aberrations.

We're just surfers. If I'm sitting in the water on a board and you're sitting in the water on a board, then it's obvious that surfing is the bond we two humans have with one another. Why would you want to point out the ways in which we are different (especially when they're readily apparent)? Enjoy the ocean, share the waves and . . . well . . . shut the $%#@ up!

13 December 2009

Buy Yourself a Quiver Addition for Christmas

I know you think I mean you should get yourself another board. Wrong (even though my newest hull is awaiting glassing). I mean you're fooling yourself if you haven't already added a surf mat to your quiver of surf craft.

My latest Hawaii-related fantasy is to spend my water time there exclusively on a mat. I'm picky about the surfboards I ride. I don't like most boards and have gotten to the point where I do best when I've had my local shaper—the man or woman it would behoove all of us to support—make the boards for me since he (or she) knows what I want the boards to do. So the idea of going to Hawaii and grabbing a banged up rental actually has little appeal for me. But the idea of going to Hawaii with my trusty 4GF mat and Techno fins in my bag excites me. I would have as much fun on my mat as I would on a board. George Greenough rides a mat exclusively for a reason. He wants to be close to the wave. There's something to that. I can't explain it, but I understand it.

Don't knock it if you haven't tried it. Besides, all the bad ass water people ride mats! You can get your mat here.

12 December 2009

(Yet Another) Rainy Saturday Dance Party!

I managed to get in a session on Thursday after waiting for the water to clean up and before the rain began again in earnest. Now they've predicted rain for a few more days. I'll once again be waiting 72 hours (after the last rain) before I paddle out again. California needs rain. I do not.

10 December 2009


We criticize the donkeys for doing it, but we applaud when the pros do it?

I'm just sayin'.

09 December 2009

I Meant What I Said

I wasn't sure where to begin my quest to erect a mini-halfpipe in the backyard. So, I wrote to Ozzie for assistance. His reply was short and sweet. He directed me to get this book.

Easier said than done! I went to a skate shop that's been in L.A. for decades. I figured if they didn't have it, no one would have it. Guess what? They didn't have the book. In fact, the owner said he'd not seen the book in years. #@%! I would not be denied—I got on the internet.

I found the book on Overstock.com for under $10. It just arrived today. Frankly, I understand very little of what's going on between the covers. While I am somewhat handy, I don't care to be. Now the quest is for someone to build it. Clayfin offered to help and we may take him up on that offer. But if he came up to help, he'd be the only one working on it as I'm not even trying to build anything and Soul Brother #1 makes no bones about the fact that he's neither handy nor mechanical.

What do do? What to do?

Eureka!!! In the midst of cooking dinner (and doesn't that sound oh so domestic of me?), I remembered "Shapril". That is not her real name, but that's the nickname many of us at the home break have given her. She's a carpenter who also shapes boards. I bet she can make a halfpipe without breaking a sweat.

I've sent her a message asking for her assistance. Stay tuned!

06 December 2009

The Goodness of a Handplane

I love the ocean and I've reached a point in my life where I can't get enough of it. Perhaps it's because I spent so little time getting to know it as a kid. I couldn't swim and, being a typical black female, I was hesitant to get near water because of what it would do to painstakingly straightened hair. That was then. This is now. I'm a middle aged black chick who swims like a fish and only worries about whether my hair will get in my eyes while I'm in the water. Whatever it was that held me back years ago is no longer a part of my reality.

I'm drawn to the ocean. I go to the ocean even when I'm not going to get wet. I'm happy to simply watch it in amazement of all of its glory.

Since I already surf in the ocean, mat in the ocean and swim in the ocean, I thought it was about time to start bodysurfing in the ocean. The thing is this . . . I have no idea how to bodysurf. Most of my friends who bodysurf learned as kids, kids who grew up spending summer days at the beach. Of course, those friends also grew up swimming and surfing. Nevertheless, I'm thinking it won't be too hard for me to pick it up given my new status as a "water lilly" (which is what my spouse has taken to calling me over the last few years).

So, I had Brownfish make me one of his beautiful handplanes. I love the idea of having yet another ocean-based activity to do on those days when I don't surf, mat or swim.

When I surfed on Friday, I went leashless. There are two reasons for that. First, the my knee leash tugs right on the new joint to the point of being painful. Second, I don't mind swimming for my board. It gives me a chance to play in the water. On that day, I was surfing a beachbreak that was delivering either the mushiest waves in the world or closeouts. I lost my board after one closeout. While swimming in to get it, I did my usual attempt at bodysurfing. Since I don't know what I'm doing, I normally fail miserably. This time, I did not. I'm not sure what I did right, but when I went to surf the wave, I felt my body catch—much like I feel my board catch when I realize it's time to pop-up. For once, I wasn't left with that sinking, tumbling feeling you get when you're hit from behind by a wave. I remained streamlined, sliding along in some kind of pocket of perfection (on the part of the wave, not me).

Oh yeah, I'm going to put this handplane to good use. When I finally reached my board, all I could think was how nice that ride would have been with a handplane. Thanks, Brownfish, for the hooking me up with yet another waveriding craft.

(I'd like to give a quick shout out to the dog for allowing me to use his chewed up, holey blanket as the backdrop for this shot. Much love, Oxley!)

03 December 2009

Will Wonders Never Cease?

Are you kidding me? Does it get any kookier than this? These guys drove to the beach with the boards once again hanging out of the car like this. Once there, they put their wetsuits on the fins. You know I hate the word "kook," but damn if it doesn't apply in this case! WTF?
(Go ahead and click on the picture so you can see this idiocy in all its glory!!!!!)