Archive for Commercial Fishing Captain – Page 2

The Light At The End Of The Blackcod Tunnel’s In Sight!

I know I’ve been going a while longer in between posts, and it’s not that I don’t have anything to write or say (that would be a cold day in you-know-where!). It’s just that every time I sit down to type something, this 11-week old pregnancy nausea kicks in and I just can’t do it. It’s still pretty bad and again, much worse than I recall with the first two children.

I do remember that this horrible feeling did go away at week fourteen each time, though, so I hope that within a couple of weeks I will feel a lot better. I think G feels for me; he’s called me twice from sea via satellite phone which is something he does not do. I can’t even get him to pick the phone up 95% of the time on the rare occasion I call it!

Anyway, the first time he called, I wasted no time whining about how awful I’ve been feeling, how overwhelmed with the house and getting kids to and from activities, taking care of dogs, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, shoveling dog poop, and everything else that we married single mothers do mostly alone. I said there was so much to do, I didn’t even know where to begin. Further, even if I knew where to begin, I was too tired to do so.

This is not like me at all, and nothing l’d say except when pregnant (or the kids and I are all sick). I come from stoic and hard-working stock on both sides of my family. We don’t whine and we don’t cry over being alone or working hard. But, hey. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. And the minute I heard G’s voice, it did.

“Just pay the bills, Hon,” George said. “Get the mortgage and credit card paid. Get the bills paid on time and don’t worry about the rest. And there will be checks arriving; get those in the bank. Do those things first and I’ll help you with the rest when I get home.”

“That’s not a lot of help,” I sniffed. “You won’t be home for like two months.”

“Actually, I’ll be home in about two weeks,” he said.

I was too ill too express much relief and joy over the news right then and there, but I’m thrilled. G and crew caught the halibut and blackcod quota quickly this year and the fish were big. Both of those things are excellent, especially the part where he comes home around three months earlier than last year.

Now, not only will G be around to help out for a bit without having to rush and get the boat ready for the next fishing season, but he’ll be able to attend the county fair with the kids and me, watch the kids’ swimming lessons, and even go to my parents’ beach house for a mini vacation. He’ll also be able to view an ultra sound in a few weeks and be there when we found out if our unexpected baby-in-the-making is a girl or a boy.

A Special Father’s Day for G…Father of Three?

About eight years ago, I started to wonder why G and I didn’t have any children. Specifically, I wondered why I could not seem to become pregnant. Everyone else seemed to have the answers, though. Here’s what I heard when the matter was brought up in discussion:

“You’re too anxious.”

“You drink too much.”

“You should stop smoking.”

“You worry too much.”

“George isn’t home enough.”

“You need to relax.”

“You just need a vacation.”

Not only were these comments offensive and uninformed, they made no sense. After all, I was relaxed. My days consisted of going to the gym, walking my dogs, doing a little freelance writing, with no real obligations or anything asked of me. Vacations? George and I went on vacations all the time back then, usually to sunny Florida where we enjoyed rustic beachfront hotels, sun, and surf. I had nothing to worry about or be anxious over, for G took care of everything.

I finally went in to see a doctor who could help. While G was in the middle of the crab season, my mom came down to stay with me for a week and I went in for an exploratory surgery. The surgery confirmed what I knew all along; there were two reasons why I was not conceiving any children. The doctor made a temporary fix and told us we had about three months to conceive before the fix ran out and I’d need to have surgery again or explore alternative options.

Long story short, we conceived Eva during the second month of that window. I called G via satellite phone in Alaska (now in the middle of the halibut and blackcod season) and shared the amazing news. When our miracle Eva was ten months old, and not wanting to take any chances on more delays or problems, we tried for a second baby and that’s how our second miracle, Vincent, came to be.

Flash forward six years, and we have two sweet, smart, and precious children. They are close in age, good friends, and the light of our lives. Now that they are “big kids,” we got rid of all of our baby things. Bye bye two changing tables, two cribs, two car seats. Goodbye bottles, pumps, Desitin, baby bags, tons of diapers in two sizes, high chair, swings, play gyms, blocks, and stacking toys.

Hey, pack your bags everyone! We’re taking trips again! The house is free of baby clutter! We have everything in order with a bit of energy to spare. The kids dress themselves, they’re easy to take everywhere, and becoming more independent everyday. For our baby fixes, we get to love our niece and cousin, “Baby Autumn” and go to Jazzercise and see sweet smiley Bella. Everything is perfect!

But wait…I don’t feel good. Something doesn’t feel quite right. Maybe I should count back some days and study last month’s calendar. Then I move to the computer for some quick research. Next, I go to the store for an unlikely purchase and make a joke to my friend, who is working the register. Cross your fingers, I say.

Back home, I unwrap the box—a three pack. (You girls know what I’m talking about.) I take one. My eyes must be tricking me. I try the second. What? I move onto the third. No way.

I sit on the surprise and shock for ten days before I can reach George, once again in the middle of the Alaska blackcod and halibut season, via satellite phone.

“You’re going to be really mad,” I say. In retrospect, that was probably not the best opening I could have come up with. George thought I had bought a new car! By the end of the conversation, I’m sure he was wishing it was only a new car.

Now nine weeks along and slowly overcoming the shock, it looks like George is going to be a father of three. This has been an extremely long several weeks. Wow. How to sort it all out? With thanks to my Jazzercise friends, the crew, our families, and a book or two, we are slowly getting used to the idea.

I’ve seen the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen and could not believe my eyes. That little peanut with the strong beating heart blew me away. It reminded me what a miracle growing life is, and what a strange thing to be experiencing it again after all the heartache and grief we went through to get our family started in the first place. 

I have a lot of questions, though. Aren’t we too old for this? How on earth did this happen? How will I ever nurse a baby all night and then get up to take my two other children to kindergarten and preschool every morning? How will I take care of three children under six, often without G? And for that matter…will I be giving birth without him this time? The baby is due during the most critical portion of the crab season in January. He absolutely cannot miss that part, for it’s a huge amount of our income for the year. If he cannot be here, which friend will I choose to help me?

Aaah. As my dear friend Amanda pointed out, that’s why we have nine months of pregnancy. Time to get used to the surprise, time to work it all out and get used to the idea of a new direction for the family. G has been a real trooper; shocked and confounded at first and experiencing a bit of denial, he has come around as he always does. Thanks also to our crew; you guys are beyond awesome. They were genuinely excited and full of congratulations for George, and as I’ve experienced, that support, understanding, and joy carries you through the doubt and concern.

Oddly, once this new baby is born, there will be about a dozen kids among G, Bryan, Brett, Johnny, and Oscar. What a great boat family, Jazzercise family, and blood family to belong to. Love all of you so much!

So, Happy Father’s Day, George. I love you for your hard work, loyalty, dedication, strength, perspective, humor, and acceptance for what is. Your two—possibly three—children love you, and so do I. More than words could ever, ever express. I would not want to go through one day of my life without you.

Once Again, Debunking Commercial Fishing Stereotypes

Two years ago, I wrote an informal post about one of the most common commercial fishing stereotypes, which is the drunken fisherman. You can access that post by clicking here. It’s been a while since I’ve come across anything unusually offensive concerning our industry and lifestyle, but last week I was reminded that some people still just don’t get it.

I walked through the doors to pick up my five-year-old daughter, Eva, and my almost-four-year-old-son, Vincent, from one of their summer activities just as one of the teachers was helping Vincent put his boots on the correct feet.

“I just love his little Xtra Tuffs!” she called to me, looking up with a smile.

“I know!” I said. “Aren’t they the cutest? He loves to dress just like Daddy.”

Vincent stands up in his backwards boots (“I like them like that,” he says) and adjusts his oversized gray hooded “Alaska Ship Supply/Dutch Harbor” sweatshirt. He locates a random gentleman in the room, looks up at him and announces, “My daddy is in Awaska. He catches cwab and backcod.”

(Translation: “My daddy is in Alaska. He catches crab and blackcod.”)

“That’s right, Buddy,” I say, beaming. “Daddy is in Alaska. And you get to ride the forklift with Daddy when he’s home, don’t you?”

My little boy is the spitting image of George. In fact, one of his nicknames is Mini G. Vincent is the only boy in either of our families; George and I each have two sisters and no brothers, and Vincent has five girl cousins. He’s the only grandson on either side. He loves boats, forklifts, trucks, and the harbor. Surrounded primarily by girls and women, he adores his dad and grandpa.

“Daddy has a gween boat,” he likes to say. “When I gwow up, my boat is going to be bue and it will be bigger than Daddy’s boat.”

(Translation: “Daddy has a green boat. When I grow up, my boat is going to be blue and it will be bigger than Daddy’s boat.”)

Anyway, I look from Vincent to the gentleman, expecting the stranger to say something kind to my sweet little boy, who happily looks up at him with dark green eyes.

“Well,” the man says, looking down at Vincent. “Hopefully you will go to college so you won’t have to be a fisherman.”

Wait.

What?

My mind races with surprise and disgust. Seriously. Are you kidding? Long ago advice from my sister comes to mind. Don’t unleash the beast!

“Well,” I reply, slowly. “As a matter of fact, we are fifth generation fishermen, and everyone in this last generation did go to college.” (Our degrees include two education, one environmental policy, one English and one accounting.) “We have been successful, often as captains.”

I didn’t bother to mention that my grandfather, the son of Croatian immigrants, started kindergarten without knowing a word of English. When he had to leave school in eighth grade to help support his family, it was with a straight-A report card. I also decided not to mention that there is nothing more rude and inappropriate than looking down at a four-year-old-boy and basically telling him to not be like his daddy (who as a commercial fisherman and human being is one of the sweetest, smartest, mentally and physically tough, strongest, humorous, and capable people I know).

I stopped short of mentioning that commercial fishermen are not all a bunch of uneducated, alcoholic, bumbling idiots. And that one of the smartest and wealthiest IFQ holders in Alaska happens to be the son of a New York attorney, and he chose to fish for a living. Fishermen are also church elders, volunteer coaches, property owners, tax payers, and real estate investors.

Captains must have business sense, for they deal with hundreds of thousands of dollars—if not millions—in gear, fishing vessels, permits, quota, crew shares, and the like. They must adhere to strict national and state regulations, keep detailed logs and figure out where to find the fish, and once the fish are caught, deal with the marketing end of things. Fishermen have mental and physical endurance unmatched by most, and they must juggle the white and the blue collar ends of things simultaneously and well.

Even my own neighbor, a lawyer, claims it’s too difficult to work with fishermen because “they don’t pay their taxes”. Uh, what? Tell that to the captains and deckhands who, because they often make a lot more money than most, also pay more taxes than most. And I guarantee you, our taxes are a lot more complicated than anyone could imagine. That’s why there are maritime accountants that specialize in this field.

Are there deadbeat dad fishermen? Alcoholics? Cocaine addicts? Broke? Cheaters? Of course. Have school teachers slept with their students? Have Wall Street brokers stolen money from clients? Are there alcoholic mothers? Adulterous doctors? Lawyers that owe back child support? Yes, and college degrees have nothing to do with any of it.

But for Pete’s sake, let’s hope Vincent goes to college so he won’t have to become a fisherman. God forbid he go on a boat and work his way from greenhorn to deckboss to first mate to captain. Let’s hope he never knows an honest day’s work and the thrill of standing in a deckload of shimmering sockeye salmon, bringing up line after line of halibut, or haul in pots filled with crab. Hopefully he’ll never learn to work as a team or laugh like crazy as he tells fishing stories.

With any luck, he won’t make lasting memories, lifelong friendships, or take the boat where nobody else goes and look in awe at mountains and islands. Hopefully he won’t enjoy watching dolphins chase the stern or dance about the bow, or be caught by surprise when whales jump out of the ocean’s surface. Why would he want to fall asleep to the gentle rock of a boat or collapse in his bunk, exhausted and spent from his own hard work?

Why would anyone want to make more money in two months than most of America does in over a year of nine-to-five? Who’d want to have months of time off to spend with their family? And for goodness sake, let’s hope Vincent never has a bad season when gear broke down, the fish weren’t there, or the price was terrible. Then he’d have to learn how to save his money, plan for the future, and invest wisely. Who’d want to work in the fresh salty sea air, free and independent? No, I’d never want him to experience any of that.

I decided to get feedback from others in the commercial fishing community via e-mail and our Facebook group, Commercial Fishing Families & Friends. The following (with minor edits) is some of that feedback.

**It could also be that he sees the commercial fishing business as a very dangerous occupation based on what he sees on TV and reads (which it is) and hopes Vince finds a safer occupation when he grows up.

**OMG, I am really shocked. That is a horrible thing to say to anyone.

**Off the top I would say the guy’s response to Vincent, besides being thoughtless, uninformed and boorish, is similar to any comment anyone would make when they feel they have an understanding of any topic, but don’t, in this case commercial fishing.

He evidently feels Vincent’s dad has been ‘sentenced’ to fishing by default, with no other career choices. He obviously sees commercial fishing and fisherman as prefaced by the word ‘common’.

This type of thinking is frankly not too unusual if your only example of commercial fishing is how we are portrayed by reality TV shows like “Most Dangerous Catch’. When fishermen are portrayed as unshaven, yelling, over-reactive, high testosterone, swearing men, who are always getting themselves out of some self- imposed or contrived mess, they are seen as hardworking, but dumb or lucky. Certainly someone you would like to talk to but not have over for dinner. And you certainly wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with one of them.

The fact that most skippers are generally very intelligent, have many skills, are well organized business men who enjoy not working a 9-5 schedule, with families and generally make a lot more money than the general population is never portrayed. Commercial fishermen are often seen as ‘buffalo hunters’ or ‘gold stampeders’ with no families, bank associations, hobbies, kids (that they know of), or any life that approximates other men. In fact, of my crew, five of six were married, three had college degrees, nobody on the boat yelled at each other, no drugs and no drinking problems. Many skippers had their sons fishing with them, and like me, many got college degrees and then went back into fishing.

**What a moron. His statement was not only insensitive but extremely short sighted in my opinion. So many people in the United States believe that higher education is a must to be successful and to question education is unthinkable. Look at all the kids these days that are forced to move home after college because the jobs are non existent and the debt for their education is insurmountable without said job. Whether education is worth the high price is starting to be examined by members of the “American intelligentsia” I read an article just last week on Peter Theil (Pay Pal cofounder and multi billionaire) He believes that we will experience an education bubble not unlike the housing bubble. Anyway, he is putting his money where his mouth is and is offering up $100,000 to twenty kids under twenty to leave school for two years and start businesses instead. I think that’s awesome.

**I have come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of people; those that produce something, and those that leech off the work of others. Our society seems to reward the leeches!

**Ugh. SO annoying. My favorite is when people say, “Oh, you can actually make enough money to live off of that?”. I politely point out that yes, we do live off of the money earned from fishing. Oh and surprise, surprise, we are both college educated and Mike paid for all of his Bachelor’s degree and college expenses with fishing every summer since the age of 13. We appreciate hard work over video games and sloppy teenagers that sit around the house all summer long. Oh and by the way, do you like salmon? Well, next time you are in a restaurant where you demand to know if the salmon is a wild Alaskan salmon, go ahead and give us a huge thank you for risking our lives to bring you your delicious meal. I hope it wasn’t too expensive, with all of your student loans you are still paying off.

**I went to an anniversary party out of state last week and a guy said what do you do, I said I fish for lobsters. He said yeah I know, but whats your real job? I said that’s it except for crabs and a little shrimping…he looked a little puzzled and said ohhh……

**I am glad that you took the time to put into words your thoughts and reflections of the situation. Hopefully it will educate those out there that don’t know the value of growing up in a commercial fishing family.

I have a letter that my maternal grandmother wrote over thirty years ago where she stated that my father had been “fishing since he was knee high to a seal” she went on in admiration about his perseverance and work ethics. I was blessed to have spent two summers fishing with him in Bristol Bay and witnessing the skill and knowledge it takes to run a boat effectively. I learned so much from him.

 When one of my coworkers heard that I was headed north with him to fish he felt it necessary to warn me about the “Aleuts that walk around drunk and carry guns.” I replied “Really… that’s strange… my father doesn’t do that…” He was looked at me with a confused look on his face and said, “What?” I replied… “Yeah, my father is Aleut, and he isn’t a drunk… nor does he carry a gun.”

I used it as a teaching moment, and I am still good friends with this individual. There are so many stereotypes out there unfortunately. My father had limited schooling, but maximized the skills that he was born with. Fishing runs in our family’s blood. There are a lot of youth that could stand to spend some time on a boat and learning the discipline and work ethics that goes along with it.

**I see nothing wrong with going to college…a good education in business management would help to manage all the $$ your son gets from fishing and he will know how to invest and plan for a future. So many people think fishermen are dumb or at the least uneducated. I know fishermen that have electrical engineering degrees, one who is a math wonder and a few who are just a little crazy and well loved. My point is do what ya love, not what the world wants ya to do.

(Image borrowed from The Faces of California Fishing group on Facebook)

Waiting Impatiently

I’m currently waiting for G to call from somewhere around Kodiak because I have a message for him. The last time I talked to him was ten days ago for a few minutes. I hoped he would check in via e-mail or the satellite phone in the meantime, but he hasn’t! I take that as a good sign that they’re into the halibut and blackcod and he’s so busy and exhausted he doesn’t have one spare bit of energy to call. I’m anxious to hear how the fishing is!

I never call the satellite phone myself because it just makes me more frustrated. And I always end up calling the wrong satellite phone from the wrong phone which can be costly. Several years ago we had a home phone bill for about $4000 and just recently, my cell phone bill was around $400 or something because I didn’t realize it was an international call and I was being charged. Whoops! George doesn’t often answer the sat phone anyway because he’s on deck working and I end up just calling repeatedly and getting more and more frustrated when there’s no answer. So it’s better just to chill and wait impatiently for him to get into cell coverage and give me a call when it’s a good (and cheap) time.

Vincent had a virus and cough for about two weeks, and just when we thought it was over, it settled into the croup. It actually hit me as well for about ten days, and I never get sick! And just when I thought Eva was going to skate through free and clear, she got it as well. We did make it through the fall, winter, and most of the spring without any sicknesses, though, so I still think we did well this year. Hopefully soon the sun will shine and that natural vitamin D will do everyone a bit of good.

Until then we keep on waiting….

Couldn't resist picking up this bottle of red.

Sick sleeping Vincent.

Sick sleeping Eva.

My dad, hanging loose in Honolulu with Mom! Could I be more jealous?

 

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My G, I Love You.

George and Vincent with a few of the 400,000 wild hogs on the island of Kauai.

I don’t watch many movies. Mostly because I just don’t have time. Also because I just don’t have patience. If I set aside 120 minutes to watch a movie, it has got to be well acted, well-directed, and have a plot worth caring about. Don’t get me wrong; I’m no movie critic. But I’m a close reader and analyzer of the human condition, and if those things aren’t conveyed to my standard on the big screen, I won’t watch it.

My younger sister told me months ago I should watch an independent flick, Blue Valentine. Something told me not to brush this recommendation aside. So, today, with my DVR of Dateline, 20/20, and 48 Hour Mysteries all viewed and erased, I had an empty DVR and an afternoon available.

WOW. My little sis was not wrong. I was so impressed and touched by the movie, I plan to send a copy to George and the crew at my earliest opportunity. There is one crew member in particular that I think will also be touched by the film. I shed a tear twice while watching the movie. The writing was great, the directing top notch, and the plot authentic. Thanks, Steph, for turning me onto this gem.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like fake. I like real. And I’m the first to admit that things have not always been awesome here between G and me the last eleven years. It’s not easy blending two entirely different personalities, families, and backgrounds. Two different learning styles, communication styles, and social styles. Especially when you live the commercial fishing lifestyle and you spend months apart each year, days together, adjusting and readjusting. When he’s in Westport, Sitka, Kodiak, Seward, Sand Point, two days from Russia, the local harbor…everywhere but home. Add children, dogs, homes, boats, quota, selling quota, buying quota, remodels, fishing gear, permits…whew.

But you know what? You’ve got to keep at it. Especially when you have little ones. They love you. And you love each other. It’s worth it to keep going until you resolve the differences or reach the point where you “appreciate” differences and not resent them. Where you can laugh (and boy, do we love to laugh!!) and enjoy each other, genuinely enjoying what the other has to offer.

This movie is a good reminder about all of that.

Thanks again, Steph. I won’t soon forget this viewing experience and the movie now ranks in my top five! :)

Steady As She Goes...

Welcome Back, Blog! Lookin’ Good!

And without further ado….my brand new, overhauled, and redesigned blog! :)

In the next post I will describe the—oftentimes, hilarious—process it took to get here, and I can’t wait. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I worked with a professional web designer who took time out of a busy schedule working with real websites to work on a less serious project like this, with a less serious person like me. It was a good time and I love the results. I will have a lot more flexibility with this new theme and several more options when it comes to the way I publish my posts. I love the freedom!

You’ll notice, of course, the brand new header. We also redesigned the sidebar, changed fonts, added the footer (scroll all the way to the bottom to see that), added the social media icons at the top, changed my profile picture (it’s a little too formal, I know, but I had the last one up for a long time and needed to switch it up). We added a new “Blogging since 2007” widget and created a soothing blue color scheme. I will go into more detail in the next post about the creative and literal process we took.

Most of the fishing pictures you see in and around the blog are by professional East Coast photographer David Hills, who will soon have his very own custom widget in the sidebar. From there you will be able to access his website and order your very own commercial fishing calendars, prints, and anything else you want. He has thousands of photographs of many boats and different fisheries, and his work is amazing. He is incredibly kind to let me use his work throughout this blog the way that I do, and I am grateful.

And quickly, in other news….

I spoke with G briefly a couple of days ago for the first time in ten days and he sounded good, the way he always does; steady and ready to go fishing. I asked how Oscar, the new guy, was hanging in.

“He’s doing just fine,” George said. “And his meals are really good.”

“Wait,” I said.

“Did you just say he heels really good?”

“His meals are really good!” G said.

“Oh!” I said, dissolving into laughter. “Ha ha! I thought you said he heels really good!”

Of course, I felt G rolling his eyes through the iPhone. I was still laughing the next morning when I called George again just to leave message reiterating how funny it was. Hey, I’ve spent the last ten days alone with small children and dogs. Can you blame me?

Speaking of dogs, we have our first foster dog here with us. His name is Willy. He was abandoned in a garage without a leash, collar, toys, love, or anything. The poor thing was just a mess, matted in poop. He was supposedly a “beloved family pet,” but I don’t know who treats a beloved family member like that.

We are working on house manners and basic commands. Having spent the six years of his life running wild on ten acres, he is learning to walk on a leash, go through a doggy door, “sit,” “load up,” and wait patiently for meals. He is such a sweet boy, eager to please, and tries very hard to do so. He is welcome to stay as long as he needs to find his perfect forever family.

Sweet Willy the Foster Dog

Willy's good with kids

I think Willy is really tired from running wild on ten acres for six years. Poor baby.

Good Luck. Catch the Quota Quick and Come Back Home!

G and the gang made it out of the harbor around 8 p.m. on Thursday, bound for areas all over Alaska to catch our halibut and blackcod quota. It was a sadder send off for me than usual; I think it’s because G wasn’t home long before leaving again, and the house is especially quiet without both George and our Toby. Poor Vincent is the only guy in the house now! :)

Ah, we’ll survive, though! We always do. These are not the most exciting pictures, but I tried to get a shot of each of the guys so their wives, children, and girlfriends could see them as they left the harbor.

Falling asleep on Daddy the night before.

Johnny, George, Brett, Bryan, Oscar...and future crew, Eva and Vincent.

Bryan on the shack.

Johnny on the bow.

So long...

Happy travels to you all. Hugs and kisses!

Traditional blast of the foghorn and around the breakwater they go.

Hurry Up and Wait

G is due to leave….45 minutes ago.

So here are some pre-departure pictures. Vincent woke up crying this morning because Daddy is leaving for Alaska without him. Grandpa is going to go to the harbor for the send-off, with the kids’ bikes, to help ease the pain.

Send-off is currently behind schedule…I’m selfishly hoping something happened so I can have one more night with G. Or rather, two more nights, since it is bad luck to leave for a new season on Fridays.

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Packing. Bah!

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Don't Leave...

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Picnic While We Wait For Dad to Leave

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You Don't Need That...

Ah, I posted too soon. G arrived home–ready to head out–the moment I clicked “publish.” Here we go. Everything will be fine like it always is!

The Day Before Departure

It’s the day before G and the crew leave for Alaska and the blackcod/halibut longlining season. The crew showed up on Monday and they’ve been working hard getting the boat ready to go. I’m not exactly sure what they’ve done besides put the shack on and load all the groceries because I haven’t made it down to the harbor yet this week.

I normally have plenty of time to get down there, but the week before a big season like this is always hectic on both ends and time just got away. Last year, George was gone from June until October catching our quota. The quota was reduced a bit this year, so I hope that he catches it quick and makes it home before the summer is totally over. That was a long stint last year, even for me, who was born into this life.

I think I’ve got the kids’ summer schedule pretty well planned. A couple of mornings and a couple of afternoons of activities for them each week, and the rest of time free to play with Mommy and go for walks, play on the slip ‘n slide, and go to the lake. They’ll have swimming lessons in August, and I’m going to sign Eva up for a mini art camp. They are also extremely excited to go visit our dear friends who live a few hours away to play and swim in their big outdoor pool. I’m looking forward to that trip myself!

As for me, I can’t wait to attend Bloggy Boot Camp in June and the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association conference in August. I think the children and I have a nice balance of things to keep us moving along without Dad; plenty of activity and plenty of downtime. Now if the sun would finally come out and stay for a while, that would be perfect!

Oh, I almost forgot. I signed up to foster dogs through our local no-kill shelter. George and I fostered many dogs before we had children, and in fact, that is how we were lucky enough to meet and adopt our beloved pitbull Toby, whom you all know recently passed away. I’m not going to foster young, energetic dogs or puppies, however. I’m not up for that at this time.

I told the shelter that I’d prefer senior dogs or dogs recovering from trauma or surgery. Basically, dogs that just want a warm bed on which to sleep, a pat on the head, and a good meal. I also have a very special place in my heart for pitbulls. So if the right fit comes along, I’m looking forward to honoring Toby’s life and memory by taking in a needy dog. It will also be good company for Mandy.

Okay. Off to pick Eva up from preschool and clean the house for our last night all together as a fishing family for the next few months. Will be back with departure day pictures tomorrow night! Have a wonderful and peaceful day.

People Are More Important Than Cars

Several months ago, I got rear-ended on the Parkway. It was a bit of a surprise; the kids and I were at the light, three cars back, when suddenly we felt a significant jolt. Hmm. I pulled my car over to the side and cut the engine.

A woman got out of a silver Audi and came to my window.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I’m on new medication. Medication for anxiety. I don’t know what happened.”

“Oh,” I said. “That’s okay. Please don’t worry. It’s just a car. My kids are fine. It’s okay.”

The lady gave me her insurance information and I took down the make, model, and year of her car.

“I’m going to go home,” she said. “I don’t feel very well.”

“It’s okay,” I said. “Really. I understand. It’s no problem.”

“I have anxiety, too,” I added.

“You do?” she asked, looking directly at me.

“Yes,” I said. “And I understand. It’s fine.”

Well….I temporarily covered the damage by slapping a removable Jazzercise bumper sticker over it. A month later, I called my insurance company, her insurance company, and met with the adjuster for her insurance company. Several more months later, just today, we finally got an estimate from our own local body shop. Surprisingly, their estimate came in at over $100 less than the one conducted by her insurance company.

So, no biggie. I don’t care about a dent and damage to my bumper (although it was cool coming out $100 ahead on the whole thing.) I agree with George, who has always maintained that “Cars aren’t important. People are.”

What I care about is the woman who hit me. She was quiet, sad, and somewhat out of it at the time. I hope she is doing and feeling better now.