C.S. Lewis — Thinking about his Legacy

November 22, 2013 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis. There have already been Lewis Jubilee celebrations, and more ways to remember his life and legacy are coming in November. To warm up for a Lewis version of November, check out the two-part series that aired on “Ideas” on the CBC in the past couple of weeks. C.S. Lewis and the Inklings, Part One, & Part Two.

Watch this space for more Lewis-related posts in November. If you are in Toronto, save the evening of Thursday, November 14 for an event called Remembering C.S. Lewis at Trinity College.

Some Musing on Academic Writing

I’ve been on the look-out for good tips on academic writing. Here are a couple of interesting links I found:

1. Ten tips for improving academic writing. These tips are not just about the act of writing, but also about life as a writer and researcher. Taking a break is as much a part of the writing process as setting aside large blocks of uninterrupted time for writing work.

2. Grammatical Features Common in Academic Writing. I don’t think this article means to imply that we should all rush out and make sure these grammatical features are a part of our academic writing. Some of these features make the writing less readable in my experience. Seeing the list of grammatical features that set academic writing apart from other kinds of writing is quite helpful though. It shines a light on some practices that may not be helpful.

Canoe Launch Day

What’s beautiful, and blue, weighs about 80 pounds, and actually floats?  You bet!  Launch day finally arrived after many months of hard, but satisfying, work.  And yes, the canoe, much to my surprise, does weigh around 80 pounds.  I had asked Roger why so heavy, as the canoe seemed pretty delicate given the size of the ribs.  Apart from the rather large decks, Roger reminded me of just how thirsty the wood had been, sucking up all that varnish.

My sister and I arrived at her cottage late Friday night, so I wasn’t too keen to do a midnight maiden (or rather re-maiden) voyage.  I woke up Saturday morning to a great day.  Not too hot, but a beautiful sunny day with very little wind on the lake.  I thanked God for His goodness.

moving canoe to the waterAfter taking the car closer to the dock, it was time to get the canoe ready.  Taking it off the car definitely needed two people so, aided by my sister, we wrestled it off the top and gently placed it on the dock.  After attaching a rope to the bow deck, and getting the life jackets and paddles ready, it was time to launch.  Now came the challenge.

2 ready to goNot wanting to stress my sister too much, I worked out a game plan for how to single-handedly get the canoe off the dock and into the water without ripping the canvas open.  Taking a really deep breath, I picked up the canoe amidships and gently lowered it into the water.

3 dock launch4 and into the waterAnd that was all that was needed.  She was afloat and looked quite at home gently bobbing in the water.  It almost brought tears of joy to my eyes, especially seeing that there were absolutely no water leaks to be seen.

Now was time for her maiden voyage.  Putting on a life jacket, just to be sure, I carefully stepped into the canoe and sat myself down.  She was a little tippy, but that was not unexpected given the canoe is fairly narrow.  Grinning ear to ear I pushed away from the dock and grabbed my paddle.

5 Ed and his blue canoeIt was a short voyage, but enough to get an idea of how the canoe managed.  I was really impressed at how easily she handled and cut through the water, especially for a heavier canoe.  It was also enough for my sister to get some great pics of the first voyage.  I was really happy!

For the next voyage, my sister and I took a long and leisurely trip around the island in the middle of the lake and then down through the bulrushes by the shore.  As the canoe’s draft is really shallow, it was easy getting close to shore to enjoy the wildlife — careful, of course, not to ding the hull on rocks or submerged tree trunks.  Later, when the wind picked up, I was impressed at how the keel kept the canoe from drifting too much.  The canoe was also very fast when we got it going, perhaps a positive side effect of the heavier weight.

6 canoeing with sisNeedless to say, I am a very happy man.  It was indeed worth all of the time, energy, and  even the money.  She is an amazingly beautiful blue water wagon indeed.

7 worth all the hard workStay tuned for future posts, as I plan to do some reflections on this amazing project.

previous Heritage Canoe Project

Heritage Canoe Project: Day 16

Day 16 arrived, and I was really looking forward to finally finishing this project that I started late July.  This was the final work day, and Roger had scheduled about 2 hours to finish.  The canoe was dutifully waiting inside the workshop.

Final assembly was the name of the game today, so the first job was to attach the keel and brass stem plates.  Shortly into my first task, I really had to ask myself why I was drilling holes right through the bottom of a perfectly waterproof canoe.

1 drill a hole

1 add a screwI knew the answer, of course, but it still didn’t feel right.  Oh well, at least the canoe doctor was there.  After numerous holes were drilled, the canoe was flipped and the position of the keel carefully marked on the bottom of the canoe.  With Roger working underneath, while I carefully positioned the keel it was screwed into place.  Next, the brass stem strips were bent to fit, and also screwed in place after pre-drilling the holes.  I chose to have the brass strips minimally showing on the decks, as I really want to highlight the beautiful finish of the mahogany.  When all was screwed in place, and looking great, what did we do then?  Take it all apart of course.  This was necessary, I assure you, since (as you remember) some crazy person (that would be me) had drilled holes which created a now non-waterproof canoe.  But not to worry, there is a method to this madness.  What we did now was to make small putty ‘doughnuts’ and place them over every hole that now existed in the bottom of the canoe.

3 waterproof holesThen the keel and brass stems were re-attached.  As Roger explained, it wasn’t necessary to waterproof the entire keel against the hull… just the holes.  How very logical.  I must confess, however, that I made one slight mistake along the way.  In the final stage of attaching a brass stem plate to the keel, Roger had said to use a 1/2″ screw.  For whatever reason I though he said to use a 1″ screw.  As I was merrily tightening it in place, I realized I had now just cleared the keel and was putting another (unplanned) hole in the canvas, with no putty doughnut in place.  I continue to be impressed with Roger.  Rather than even look disappointed, which would have been the least I would have done, Roger merely shrugged his shoulders and came up with a solution.  As he pushed a putty ‘worm’ into the hole, he explained that when the screw goes into place it will push the putty into the hole below it and seal any area that might allow water to penetrate.  Again… logical, effective and without judgement on my poor listening skills.

4 add keele (the reason for the holesAfter the keel and plates were secured, and the excess putty removed, the canoe was flipped right side up for the final installs.  Using a large body clamp I placed the thwarts and seats into position.  For the thwarts, I decided to use the small brass plates that had originally been secured them to the outside hull.  Since we had added the inner gunwales, we had already decided the thwarts would be more stable secured to them.  So I used the brass plates on the top of the gunwales, securing the thwarts with two screws in each location.

5. the last screwThe plates add a great finished look to the canoe.  The final act was to secure the seats to their holders with screws, again adding more stability to the canoe.  And that was it.  After about three hours of day 16 work, my canoe was now totally completed.

6. FINISHEDAfter securing the canoe to the top of my sister’s SUV, it was time to say my sad goodbyes to Roger and Chaucer.  This has been an amazing experience.  I not only took away an incredibly beautiful canoe, but also lots of new skills.  I also took away an appreciation for just how much work, time, and care go into giving a canoe a second life.  Stayed tuned for Launch Day, coming up soon!

7 on the way to the lakeprevious Heritage Canoe Project next