“Like the bride in the Song of Songs, you long for your beloved, but he does not come.”
I’d had big plans to finally go to Costco today. But in the end, I decided that taking the kids to the farm to visit Grandpa working was a better idea. We spent the entire afternoon taking a walk through the woods, looking at the pond and acres of land, and inspecting the tractor.
George called while we were out there; he was getting ready to head back to sea to pick up the last of the crab pots and then bring the boat back to town.
This is a good time for him to shut the door on the 2010 crab season, because Halibut/Blackcod 2010 starts on March 6! That gives George about ten days at home before leaving to spend the next few months catching IFQ all over Alaska.
I admit this is probably going to be one extremely long spring, even for me, who considers herself to be pretty tough and is very used to this.
Later in the week I plan to post a few of my personal husband-is-at-sea coping strategies.
Signing off (from my iPhone in the kitchen) from Day One of my weeklong blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!
I couldn’t believe it when I logged in to this blog and discovered that my last post was written almost two weeks ago!
George concluded the Dungeness crab season last week. The boat arrived into port one evening and then left again the next to unload the final delivery of crab. After that, George and the crew all left to retrieve their trucks from Westport, then came home again. Once here for good, they unloaded the crab pots and put them away in the web locker. Next, they put the aluminum shack and tubs of longline gear on the boat for the upcoming halibut and blackcod season.
Just in case anyone was wondering—no, I didn’t receive a bouquet of flowers at my door on Valentine’s Day! I can’t blame George, though. With the stress of the crab season and a very sick little girl at home, I understand that flowers were probably the last thing on his mind.
My sister and brother-in-law came through, however. They surprised me by showing up after their own Valentine’s Day dinner with a brand new bottle of Middle Sister Rebel Red wine and a bag of chocolates. I love the label on the wine because it’s an image of three sisters that looks rather familiar—the sister in the middle wears sunglasses and holds up a glass of red wine. On one side of her is a sister with curly hair and on the other is a sister with straight hair.
Since George got home, I thought I might have a little extra time for my hobbies, but that hasn’t happened just yet. “Who will do the taxes?” George asks when I request a couple of hours. “Who’s going to meet Larry down at the boat?”
It is true that George will only be here for about ten days before heading North for the next fishing season. When you are the guy responsible for organizing the boat and gear, doing taxes, paying the mortgage and a ton of doctor’s bills, you probably don’t have a few hours to spare. At least I get some time off from cooking every meal, unloading all of the dishes, and running all the errands. I’ll take what I can get!
We decided to kick off the Dungeness crab season, and put a welcome end to the political season, by throwing a small impromptu party here this weekend. Judging by the laughter, animated conversation, and lively debate that lasted until long after I went to bed, it was clear that everyone enjoyed a much-needed break and had a wonderful time.
My headache, which began on election night and lasted the week, has finally gone away.
Our group was small but mighty. In attendance were moms, sisters, husbands, dads, fishermen, one industry buyer, several McCain voters, one non-voter, a couple of Obama supporters, captains, crew, two dogs, and two small children. We had a wide range of concerns on our minds—house building and renovations, family, crab seasons, babies, business, bank accounts, investments, friends, exercise, work, colleagues, and politics.
A little laughter and camaraderie is good for everyone, no matter who you are or what your system of beliefs.
Onward and Upward!
At 7 a.m. George opened the front door, walked down the front steps and across the walk to the Ford flatbed. He fired up the diesel and drove off to the harbor and the boat, exactly as planned.
And so begins the unofficial first day of the 2008 Coast Dungeness crab season. Starting out with a little web locker cleanup, maybe some crab buoy painting, lunch at noon and a beer at home when the day’s over.
I’ll be a bit like a deer in headlights until I find wherever it is I put my “semi-solo mom routine.” (Not to be confused with the “entirely-solo mom routine,” which I’ll be looking for soon enough.)
Once I find the routine I settle in just fine, but it takes a while. The most important thing is to preserve energy and organize tasks according to what can get done when kids are up, what must wait until they go to sleep, what I should get to now and what can be put off longer.
Now, I know that this sort of planning is what moms all over the country do every day. But when your husband is a commercial fisherman, you are constantly switching gears, depending on whether your husband is:
The frequent switching requires small adjustment periods. The trick is to take it as easy as you can until you find your rhythm again. Have some tea, move slow, play soothing music, take care of the little ones and maybe vacuum the floor (if it makes you feel better, which it does me).
When you start to find your rhythm again, you can add other things. Learn a new Jazzercise routine. Go to the grocery store. Plan some meals and actually make them.
Speaking of soothing music, I recommend the new James Taylor c.d., “Covers.” I found his renditions of the songs “Wichita Lineman” and “Seminole Wind” to be especially touching, and I’ve been listening and writing to the c.d. all weekend long.
Every couple of years I come across music that unleashes the writing muse in a special way and facilitates productivity and creativity (a couple of years ago it was Norah Jones and Eva Cassidy, another year it was Rachmaninoff). You just never know what kind or type of music it will be, or when it will cross your path.
(Of course, in my car I’m listening to the brand new Toby Keith c.d., “That Don’t Make Me a Bad Guy,” which I also recommend if you are a country or Toby Keith fan!)
All right. Time to go make that tea and do a little vacuuming.
It was a touch too dark this morning for good pictures of G getting into the flatbed and heading down to the harbor.
About a year ago I wrote a post called “Business as Usual” that focused on all the “craziness” that accompanies the beginning of the coastal Dungeness crab season each year. We aren’t even to Halloween yet, but rumors and anxiety are already in full force.
I was walking down the hallway in my house a few weeks ago when I heard George talking on his cell phone in the living room.
“No,” he was saying. “I wouldn’t worry about that. I wouldn’t spend one more second worrying about that.”
“Worrying about what?” I asked when George hung up the phone. “Who was that?” I continued, never one to mind my own business.
“It was B.W.,” George answered. (note: I’m using initials to protect identity!)
“What did he want?” I inquired, just a little nervous.
“He heard they weren’t buying crab this year,” George said. “But that can’t possibly be true. It’s nothing to worry about. Besides, whatever is going on now is bound to change when our season starts in two months, anyway.”
George placed a call to K. next. “Are you buying?” he asked. “Uh huh. Yeah. Okay. Thanks.”
“Is he buying?” I asked George after he hung up. “Of course he is,” George replied.
But, B.B. told B.W. that nobody was buying crab.
K. said they were buying crab.
B.B. told George what he really told B.W. was that T. said K. wasn’t buying crab on the weekend, not that he wasn’t buying crab at all, and that B.W. misunderstood.
“I never believe T. anyway,” said George. “T. twists things around to suit T.”
Today, I asked C.W. if K. was buying crab on the weekend.
C.W. “texted” K. and passed along my inquiry.
K. replied that he didn’t know if they were buying on the weekend or not, but in any event, the Dungeness crab live market was in the ditch because the Asian market was buying some “other” kind of crab.
“That doesn’t sound good,” I said to C.W.
“Well, never mind that,” C.W. said. “It’s all bound to change in two months, anyway.”
It’s so hard to keep up…and the season hasn’t even started!
On my way to teach Jazzercise this morning, I was surprised to see that leaves from the trees lining the Boulevard had already turned orange and fallen. I was dismayed to observe the thick bunches in which they’d gathered alongside of the road. I don’t get out much and haven’t driven around a lot lately, so I’m not sure when this happened!
Fall has traditionally been my favorite season. I love to fill out my new calendar, pack away my capris in favor of jeans, and otherwise get ready to bunker in for the long winter. I love a wild storm and wait eagerly for the wind to pick up and the rain to pour. As we get closer to December I cross my fingers for snow and get agitated if it’s been in the forecast but doesn’t happen. I love the Arctic blasts that come through, especially the one from two years ago that lasted weeks and weeks. I will never forget that icy season as long as I live!
I also look forward to the start of Dungeness crab season gear work during the fall. I enjoy the energy surrounding the start of the season and the humor and stories the crew brings with them after they arrive to help paint buoys and rig pots for the upcoming season.
This year, though, I’m not quite as eager for it all to begin. I feel a little more tired, a little less energetic, and could use a few more weeks of sunshine.
This pre-season apprehension could be due in part to the fact that it’s been a long week; both little ones have been sick for the second time in less than a month. When one-year-old Vincent’s cold started to take a nervewracking and all-too-familar turn, we brought out his tiny breathing mask and two different types of inhaler medicines to help ensure that the cold didn’t turn into a total disaster. So far, we’ve managed to hold it off.
It will all settle out, just as it always does. In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures from the last little bit of summer fun that we had!
They’re only this little once.
Uncle Kyle grilling salmon at the neighborhood barbecue.
Nobody puts more flair into babysitting than a Daddy.
Eva ate snacks, drank milk, dozed off, and sat happily buckled into the seat of this tractor for two whole days watching Daddy work. She came inside at night only to sleep.
Well, I’d never believe it was August 24 if I didn’t have my Mom’s Plan It engagement calendar right here next to me for proof. I spoke with my own mother via telephone today and we agreed that today’s weather–along with that of most the summer–has been rather pitiful.
To be perfectly clear: It feels like fall!
The rain never quit today. The sky’s gray without the barest hint of light, and there’s even a little wind. To top it off, I seem to have caught the rather fall-like virus that a good percentage of people I know have been getting. Hello cough, sore throat, and earache.
Seriously! It’s still August. Not November!
We had a dinner party here Saturday night. Our honored guests were Brett, Danielle, and their sweet baby, Mila. Even the party was somewhat fall-like, as the arrival of our guests almost had me thinking we were already up against the start of the Dungeness crab season.
I half expect that upon waking tomorrow, George will head immediately down to the harbor and start painting crab buoys with Brett!
The calendar says we have at least two months before all of that starts…but at this point, I’m not entirely sure.
I’m posting a few pictures of our evening. Danielle is the most trim and beautiful new mother I’ve seen–almost serene. She does not appear to be the new mother of a four-month old. I felt like I was the postpartum mother, and Vincent just turned one!
In any event, we had a perfect evening and shared many laughs. Even my sister and brother-in-law came by for dinner and ended up tucking my daughter, Eva, into her toddler bed.
Steph, Danielle, Brett, and George. (A copper Dungeness crab sculpture on the wall, of course!)
The second and sixth generations of commercial fishermen?
“Husbands, wives, and children experience a variety of thoughts and feelings regarding family life as a result of the comings and goings of fishermen.”
Understanding the Ebb and Flow of Fishing Families
Adapting to Change /Oregon Sea Grant
The only thing that’s for sure in this business of commercial fishing is that nothing is for sure.
The uncertainty starts in November with Dungeness crab season gear work. Who on the crew will be back? Will there be a spot that needs to be filled? When will the crab season actually start? Will there be a strike, will the crab be ready, will the weather cooperate?
After that, it’s on to the Alaska halibut and blackcod longline season. When will the boat depart? When will it come back home? Will the quota be caught quickly, or will there be mechanical trouble, whale trouble, or weather trouble?
You’d hope the uncertainty would end at last with the homecoming of the boat and the start of summer, but no. And it seems like this year, there are more questions than usual.
Will the price of fuel come down enough to make a summer fishery worth doing? Will George have the boat hauled out (at a cost equivalent to one very nice new car) and have the bottom painted?
I have my own questions, too. Should I plan to go to the writer’s conference this year? Will George be home or willing to babysit? Should I have Steph get me a ticket to the Toby Keith concert? Will George be home for Vincent’s first birthday? Can I teach that Jazzercise class that doesn’t have childcare if he isn’t home?
There are so many unknowns in this lifestyle that one never knows from one day to the next what the latest will be.
For example, I was under the impression that George’s final decision was to forego a summer fishery and spend the rest of the summer on boat maintenance, and that he was still undecided regarding hauling the boat out.
So, imagine my surprise when, after exiting a bookstore with Vincent on our recent vacation, I found George sitting on top of a picnic table with Eva by his side, talking on his cell to Brett about not only the schedule to haul the boat out, but about how the price of marine diesel has come down enough to make a summer fishery a good possibility!
I can’t help it; I’m laughing to myself even as I write this.
I’m including a picture of our dog, Toby, that was taken on our vacation. I’m hoping it isn’t the case, but he does seem to be slowing down a bit due to his cancer. His “tired” seems a little more tired, his rest a bit deeper. He didn’t seem as excited as usual to be at the beach, which broke our hearts. He is eating well and his weight is still up, however, and he’s even gained another pound. Still, we’re all a bit worried, so keep sending your thoughts, prayers, and positive energy over to a good, good boy.
You know what I love about the picture that I’m including with this post?
In the foreground we have a white Ford F-350 flatbed that belongs to my husband, George. In the background, we have my dad’s black Ford F-350, a diesel “dually” ( for its dual tires) with “Tim’s Trailer” and a Kubota tractor on the back. That truck even has a name: Thunder.
I appreciate both of these trucks and the personality, character, and history of hard work and reward they represent.
George and I are getting ready to leave tomorrow for our family vacation. I’m looking forward to it more than usual, if that’s possible. I’m not normally one to overload myself with obligations and deadlines, but I agree with George that this time around, I may currently have a few too many plates spinning and a few too many irons in the fire….if you will.
George has been busy as well. He has not taken more than two days off since returning from Alaska after completing the halibut and blackcod longlining season. He has been at the boat most every day using a grinder to sand over one hundred rust spots on the boat, painting primer coats, and then painting them (Vis) green. He also painted black deck coating on the steel aft deck.
In addition, George recently hauled out his mountain bike and helmet and began cycling down to the harbor to do this work each day.
On our upcoming trip, we’re going to let the Internet, cell phones, and boat work go for a while. We’re going to hide and relax.
We’re looking forward to spending this time in the company of our little, little children and two big dogs (one of whom we did not expect to live to see another vacation with the family).
In our family, one must work hard. It’s our foundation. And if one works hard, one must rest.
That’s what we’re going to go do now.
See you in about ten days!