We asked members of the Times-Union/Jacksonville.com Email Interactive Group talk about their hobbies and what led to them. Here are the responses, half this week and half the next:
Hands down, boating. I bought my first boat, a small plywood hull Owens cabin cruiser, when I was 19. I love spending nights on the boat, and waking up to spectacular views. Nowadays, I have a “classic” Nordic Tug 26 with all the amenities — very easy to recognize on the river. Boating takes me away from all the normal stresses. When I’m onboard, I’m more relaxed than any other place I could be. Spending a night onboard is like having a whole weekend off. Spending a weekend onboard is like having a whole week off. Jacksonville is a great boating town, with a vibrant St. Johns River and Intracoastal Waterway. There are plenty of places to visit, from Lake George and Palatka, to Fernandina Beach and St. Augustine. On a calm night, I sometimes like to anchor on the open river off Ortega, with a beautiful view of the downtown. There are the Jaguars games, concerts, the River Çity Arts Market and now Exchange Island that offer friendly dockage. Shopping and dining? Tie up in Ortega or at the Jacksonville Landing. Like wings? Tie up at Hooters on Goodby’s Creek.
Jerry Tabbott, Jacksonville
My hobby is considered politically incorrect, I have participated in the shooting sports for about 15 years, specifically what is called precision pistol. The name has changed recently from “bullseye.” Maybe that’s because of today’s political and social atmosphere. I won’t elaborate on it too much. It’s an NRA competition that’s shot with a pistol using a one-handed stance with a .22-caliber and a centerfire usually of .45-caliber. It consists of slow fire, which is 10 shots in 10 minutes. … Slow is 30 shots at 50 yards, timed and rapid is 25 shots each at 25 yards. It’s very challenging but fun competing with yourself to improve. It helps my self discipline, listening to instructions and, above all, being safe. It also helps me to remain calm under pressure when I have an equipment malfunction or any other problem. Being familiar with firearms in this age of terrorism is, I feel, a good thing.
Larry Watkins, Ortega
I’ve been sewing since I was a wee little girl, since I come from a long line of seamstresses. No, I don’t need any further projects — I have hundreds. I find sewing is not so much a hobby as a world view: when I look at people, I think things like, “Why did they dye that wonderful fabric that horrid color? How did they make that placket? I could make that skirt.” It’s a wonderful creative outlet, it’s endless fun, people enjoy the results, and there’s always more to learn.
Sharon Snow, Southside
Bowling … I bowl in two senior leagues in Orange Park and the competition is as good as you’d want. It’s a handicap league that makes it somewhat even but, more than that, is the comaraderie that exists among all of us. We’re all up in age, have our aches and pains, but we all do our best, accept the good-natured razzing, and show our support for each other throughout the years.
Bob Tatum, Orange Park
Original writing in response to a query as, for example, this paragraph is my hobby. Writing longer pieces such as short stories, essays and letters to the editor on a given topic also brings me pleasure. I have done so as long as I can remember. Arranging words in a meaningful, orderly whole forces me to arrange my thoughts in a like manner, often on surprising and worthwhile subjects.
John D. Tinny, Ponte Vedra Beach
On the one hand, I’ve never had popular hobbies except as related to sports, mainly baseball. After all, I grew up within a mile of Yankee Stadium. However, my interest in the lives and policies of U.S. presidents has been longstanding. This has influenced my “hobby” of following presidential elections and DC news. Politics became an easy source of fictional intrigue in my three novels published in the last few years.
Ken Gorman, Ponte Vedra Beach
My favorite hobby is reading, followed by crossword puzzles. I love to read history and historical novels, spy and covert operations novels and mysteries. There is so much to learn from reading and hopefully learning of mistakes that have been made in the past that we should not repeat in order to safeguard our nation and its freedoms. Reading also enhances the ability to spell and develop a wide-ranging vocabulary. In my opinion, reading should receive a very high emphasis in our educational system from kindergarten through high school. Crossword puzzles, with a little difficulty to them, can absorb me for hours and again help with vocabulary and spelling. Both these items are challenging and entertaining and bring me peace and joy.
James D. Powell, Starke
One of the most rewarding and gratifying hobbies I’ve ever had was looking up. Looking up and knowing God was just on the other side of those clouds with lots of my loved ones … how rewarding. And I’m looking at those clouds and the wonderful pictures painted by those on the other side. Clouds come in pretty much one color but, oh, the pictures. Animals of all sorts. My favorites are when I notice mommies and babies. I see a lot of alligators. Do they see those in Georgia? I love those faces peeking over the clouds. The list is endless. But don’t blink. They’re gone in the blink of an eye … just like God says about other experiences in our lives. And I never drink and drive, since I don’t drink. And I never text and drive, since I don’t text. And I certainly never gaze and drive. But I have been known to pull over in a parking lot and gaze. I take advantage of every minute the picture exists.
LaWanda Rampino Hill, Arlington
I own two motorcycles and there is nothing better then to be able to walk out the door and be on your way to a relaxing afternoon or evening on a ride to nowhere! I’ve been riding since 1960, and nothing beats a trip down A1A along the coastline or a trip to the mountains taking in God’s beautiful scenes. It is the most mental refreshment that your mind will ever have. Remember this: “You have never seen a motorcycle parked in front of a psychiatrist’s office.”
Don F. Estle, St. Augustine
Woodworking and gardening were, at one time, my favorite hobbies, but writing is, by far, the hobby that consumes most of my available time now. This has been the case for maybe 20 years. And, yes, of course, this involves doing the reading and research that is a necessary part of some of the writing assignments and activities. I am a fairly regular contributor of stories to a little weekly church-related paper. I also produce a one-page monthly flyer that is sent to about 125 people on my email listing. I am also working on another novel that will again be mostly historical fiction. So, these writing activities help provide purpose while exercising the mind. And I thoroughly enjoy doing this challenging activity. Since “they say” everyone has a story to tell, I would encourage you to join the rest of us “wordsmiths” in getting your story out, sharing them with the rest of us. And, happy writing!
Ted Wight, Argyle
Happy topic in these trying days. My hobby is distance running. A few years ago, I went through daily radiation and weekly chemotherapy for stage IV throat and neck cancer. Eating thru a tube in my stomach; could barely walk; pretty darn weak; so I registered for a marathon. Ten months after my last treatment, I ran the Disney marathon; time 4:51:01. I kept running and qualified for the Boston Marathon 22 minutes below my required time. Now, I run with the 1st Place Sports running team; have incredible runner friends; and a whole new view of life. You don’t have to run fast; you don’t have to run hard. Just get out and do it. It has given me a whole new happy life. Come join us. I love this hobby
Robert A. Frary, Jacksonville
Crossword puzzles. I’ve been working them since about 1968. One of my fellow soldiers had the Stars & Stripes paper and was penciling in letters, so I bought a copy and the rest is history. Why do I do this? I think it has vastly expanded my vocabulary and helped my spelling immeasurably. And it keeps my mind active. The daily Commuter Puzzle is a piece of cake, typically 10 minutes or so to complete. The other daily puzzle found on the comics page gets tougher as the week progresses, with Saturday being the hardest. I can usually complete Wednesday or Thursday and sometimes Friday but, a couple of weeks ago, I got Saturday’s done! And when I can fill in all the blanks of Sunday’s puzzle without peeking at the solution, I save the puzzle as my reward.
David M. Casey, St. Augustine