Of Grass Seed, Baptism, and Bow Thrusters

At rest in Grace Harbor.

I wrote this a few days ago. I thought it frivolous. I still do, but it fits my mood.

When I was between 28 and 40, I had a 34 inch waist (two minus in the younger years, two plus later). I ran six miles a day at lunch and twelve on Saturday. I was addicted. Sleet, deep snow and lightning and my boss were the only things that kept me from my appointed rounds, or out-and-backs is more like it.

I seriously tapered off at age 40 based on messages from my joints and my (bone) doctor. In another twelve years, distance running was no longer on my list of can dos. But, my ankles and knees and right hip no longer sent threatening messages to my head.

Well, the hip would often say, “if you’ll be nice to me, I’ll be yours forever.” Nice in this case was a hissing adjective (like precioussss in “Lord of the Rings.”). I suspected my hip was hiding evil intent.

Grace Harbor at River Dunes

On the days when the weather has allowed, I have walked around Grace Harbor at River Dunes. It’s not much, but it’s something. On Saturdays, I double the distance in homage to the days of yore.

So far my ankles, knees and hips have been silent, but I hear niccccce from somewhere off to the right. Nah, it must have been a bird. So I tried a little jog, and oh lordy, as they say ’round here. I felt like I was trying to jog with an 80 pound bag of grass seed not so well strapped to me. I am not the 5:15 per mile guy I once was.

So in recognition I have something to say about the matter, I have been consuming less calories (chocolate is forever protected from such thinking).

Now, historically, when we have wine that’s a tad too warm for the best flavor, we drop an ice cube in it. Somewhere in the 494 months we have been married, someone referred to this as baptizing the wine. It’s a Southern thing meant with no malice. It occurred to me I ought to do this all the time. Hey, those two cubic inches of water subtract something.

Being a chemical engineer with a inclination to testing (testing, not testiness). I decided to see how much filtered water I could add to the wine to reach the cross over from baptized wine to disinfected water.

Why do I say disinfected? Well aside from bringing jollity (among other, lesser things), brewed, fermented and distilled beverages earned their place in early history — particularly amongst village, town, and city people as being something one could drink and reduce the chances of succumbing to Amoebiasis, Cryptosporidiosis, Cyclosporiasis, Giardiasis, Microsporidiosis, Schistosomiasis, Dracunculiasis, Taeniasis, Fasciolopsiasis, Hymenolepiasis, Echinococcosis coenurosis, Ascariasis, Enterobiasis, Botulism, Campylobacteriosis, Cholera, E. coli, M. marinum, Dysentery, Legionellosis, Leptospirosis, Salmonellosis, Typhoid, fever, Vibrio, Illness, Hepatitis, A, Poliomyelitis Polyomavirus,etc.

The Romans (also engineers, mind you, but with a penchant for downright imperial testiness) understood these health benefits, but also understood a Legion in its cups (ebrius, crapulatus, and/or deebriatus) was gonna be missing a few Legionaires  come sunrise.* There were also circumstances where — in too much wine there could be too much truth (and other than troops might be missing come sunup).

So, they appointed an Arbiter Bibendi who controlled when wine was served, how much was consumed, and how much water was added to reduce the incidence  of Lucius’ gladius poking Pontius. The gladius was the short stabbing sword favored by the Legions (they had no slashing room in those testudo formations).

So, ens mea iudex vinum, I started testing how much filtered water I could add to my wine before I reached my yuck limit. Turns out two parts wine to one water is pretty good, if you start with a flavorful wine.** It reduces the calories and keeps ones sandals firmly where they belong relative to one’s head.

Which is useful on a boat, inclined as they are to cast inattentive, bare or sock-footed (or otherwise diminished) crew on their butts, heads, etc. or, worse, overboard. We don’t consume underway, simple as that.

But a couple of nights ago, several now that I think of it, because it was actually warm enough to intentionally be outside without a demanding task, I decided to  have my wine on deck. Soon, a transient trawler came alongside in the slip next to me, and I asked if I could assist. I got a cheery, “got it,” and a smile.

Then the skipper hit the bow thruster control and got me. His bow thruster was below the bottom of the floating dock. He had a large enough boat, he had a bow thruster of significant oomph. He gave it a long healthy tweak, and Brilliant Star seemed to jump sideways about two feet, more or less instantly. I was holding on at the solar brackets. Had I not been, I would have been swimming or picking a dock cleat out of my teeth. It was a nice looking trawler.

Like I said, frivolous.

*If a Legion (or an organizational subset of it) was found to be drunk, the Centurions would line them all up and kill every tenth Legionnaire (chosen by lot). This was called Decimare, the root of decimation, and in this case means the execution of ten percent to set an example. It was applied for drunkenness, cowardice, defeat; it depended on how irritated/embarrassed the Commander was. In general, it means reduction by ten percent. This is why when the news media say decimated, they generally don’t know what they are talking about, but then that’s redundant.

**The Romans went as far a 4:1, water:wine, but they were working with more alcoholic wines frequently garnished with herbs and containing wood resins (ala retsina). Actually, any time spent researching Roman drinking and dining makes it very clear we won’t be seeing any Roman Cooking My Way on cable. I mean deep fried mice as poppers?

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