Archive for Commercial Fishing – Page 2

Facebook and Politics: Thumbs Down.

Many of my Facebook friends have taken on the challenge of posting what they are thankful and grateful for each day throughout the month of November.

I’m not participating, but I enjoy reading their status updates and give many of them the “thumbs up.”

I’m going to take a moment on my blog, however, and state with all the gratitude in the world that the election is finally, finally over. I’m also grateful that soon, 90% of the political postings on Facebook will end.

Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not opposed to people writing what they want on their own page, expressing their right to free speech, stating opinions or likewise. I’ve said that before. I’ve also said that while I am by no means a Democrat and I did not vote for Obama, most of my friends are left-leaning Democrats and I respect and admire most of them. I don’t care whether people agree with my views or not.

In fact, one of my dearest friends in real life and on Facebook describes herself as “left of liberal.” This friend is fun, she is a source of wisdom on many topics, and I enjoy the intelligent articles and opinions she shares on Facebook. This is not the sort of person I’m referring to.

I’m referring to those who have spent the past six hours to six months gloating and ridiculing people who do not believe as they do. Who have made blanket generalizations about opposite viewpoints. Almost every time I logged onto Facebook, I was greeted by a newsfeed of insults. No, they were not insults pointed at me, but they were insults nonetheless.

I know this happens on both sides of the political aisle. However, in my own virtual world, it has been one side doing most of the lambasting. I’m rather sick of reading it all. I know; I could have “hidden” these people from my news feed. I could have not logged on to Facebook. I could have even deactivated my account until election season was over.

Again: I respect the right of others to post whatever they want on their Facebook page. What I don’t respect, and what I won’t tolerate going forward, is bullying. It’s disgusting. We each have different life experiences, different families, different occupations, different everything. If Facebook friends can’t respect these differences, then that’s a problem.

I enjoy my friends in real life and in my online life and I hope to remain friends with each and every one of them. But—I detest intolerance, and I won’t put up with it. I hope everyone will chill out, take a breath, and move on. The election is over, and this will be the last time I write about election-related anything on this blog.

There’s so much coming up ahead in the next couple of months that are so much more rewarding and joy-filled than Facebook and politics.

Thankfully, it’s time to get back to non-partisan business.

And that is what I am grateful for today.

Guess What? Independents and Conservatives Do Care.

This week, a couple of odd things happened as I was going about my regular business. I pay attention to occurrences like these, because I assume there must be something I’m meant to learn or pay special attention to.

For example, when I’m totally annoyed and short of patience while driving, I take that as a message that my best bet is to get off the road, go home, and chill. Or, when I find myself in constant conflict with various individuals,that may be a sign that I might well be the source of conflict and I may need to re-evaluate what’s going on with my relationships.

Last weekend, as I got out of my car to head into Jazzercise, I was approached by a young woman.

“Hi!” she said. “Oh my gosh, I just ran out of gas. I don’t have my debit card. I’m a Western student and I’m on my way to work. I’m going to be late. The gas station won’t give me any gas until I have a $10 deposit. Can you help me?”

Well, I’m nobody’s fool. The old “ran out of gas” trick, eh? I paused for a moment.

But, something seemed different about this girl. She was dressed just like I might be on any given day, and she wore a bright  and earnest expression upon her face.

“Where do you work?” I asked.

“Cruisin’ Coffee,” she said with a smile.

“Hmm.” I said. I looked into my wallet. “I don’t have $10, but I have $3.” I handed her three one-dollar bills.

“Thank you!” she said. “I never carry cash!”

“Me either,” I said. “Just happened to have a little.”

She hustled back across the parking lot, and I entered the Jazzercise studio.

Yesterday morning, I met up with my sister on the sidewalk. She was leaving Jazzercise just as I was entering.

I heard someone approach behind me.

“Hi!” a female voice called out. “I just ran out of gas! I’m a Western student. I’m on my way to work. Can you help me?”

Seriously.

I looked at her.

“I just gave you some money a few days ago,” I said.

“Oh!” she said.

I looked at my sister.

“Wow,” I said.

This morning, I placed Valerie in her stroller and began walking across the same parking lot. A man crossed in front of me. He was determined upon his path and did not say anything, but I spent a moment observing him as he passed.

Although it was a cold and rainy morning, he wore shorts. Gold shorts. Tight gold shorts, adorned with sparkles and glitter. I noticed his bare legs, and then I saw the boots he wore. Black rubber boots, decorated in rainbow-colored hearts.

My first thought was that he must be cold in that outfit on such a rainy and dreary day. My second thought was, why is he wearing that outfit? What is his story?

Suddenly, I thought about his parents. Whose son is he? Where is his family? Where did he come from?

I thought back to the girl who’d asked me for money twice in a row. What was her story? Where was her family? Why was she asking for money? What went wrong?

What’s really going on?

I don’t know. I wish I did.

George and I don’t normally give money to folks on the street, because we give generously to organizations that help people on the street. In addition, we sponsor a family in town, and we also sponsor two children in Haiti. We give.

I don’t know if the girl asking for money was an addict, or if she was put up to her con by someone bigger and more threatening than her.

I don’t know if the man scurrying across the parking lot, wearing gold shorts and rainbow boots, was cast out of his home and family for being different, or if he was doing just fine.

I don’t know. But I wonder.

And more than that, I care.

In this political season, I read Facebook and Twitter posts every day centered on politics. About 95% of my friends and associates are liberals and/or democrats.  I am an Independent. Even somewhat a right-leaning Independent.

I read each day online about how heartless conservatives are. I scroll through my feeds, reading about the evils of Republicans. How they don’t care. Don’t give. How they judge. And condemn. And blame.

But you know what?

This is not any more true for the right than it is for the left. The hard left can also judge, condemn, assume, blame, and ridicule.

I do care.

I care about the young woman asking me for money, and I care about the young man in shorts hustling across the lot in the rain. I care about this country. I give money here and abroad. So does my husband. I’m tired of being told that because I’m not a liberal, I don’t care. Because I’m not a registered Democrat, I’m heartless.

We work hard and pay a ton of taxes. We donate. We give. We care. We care about our family, and we also care about yours.

There’s a lesson in here somewhere, but I’ve yet to determine exactly what it is.

PME (Fish Expo) is Right Around the Corner!

Yesterday afternoon, I pulled into my driveway with Eva and baby Valerie. I hopped out of my Mommy Bus and went immediately into G’s home office, where he was working on his computer.

“There’s a baby boutique over in Barkley,” I announced.

“I’ve been there before,” I continued, “But not in a while. I heard today that they’d changed locations. Just down the block a bit. Anyway, I went in there with Valerie before I picked up Eva. I wanted to get Valerie a teething necklace. Amber recommended the necklace. Anyway, the new store is amazing! They have the cutest things. And it’s bigger than it was.

“Anyway, they also have this new thing where they can make personalized wall prints, ornaments, and clothes! It was so cute! I was just going to get Valerie a personalized onesie, but then I decided the big kids might feel left out, so I got each of them a shirt as well. They all have fish pictures and their own names on the shirts!”

“Look!” I said. I held up Eva’s shirt and smiled. I tucked Val’s onesie and Vincent’s shirt under my arm.

G turned from his computer and looked at the shirts.

“Those are neat,” he said. “Where’d you get those?”

Yep.

True story!

George definitely has a lot on his mind. The major repowering of a fishing vessel, the beginnings of what will be the 2012-13 Dungeness crab season, and the switching out of flatbed trucks, as well as the seemingly never-ending task of paying of bills and working on taxes.

There are some fun things coming up, though, like the awesome Pacific Marine Expo (aka Fish Expo)! I know a lot of people from the worlds of fishing and writing that will be there, and I can’t wait to see everyone. Some of your favorite writers and bloggers (Robin Blue, Lori French, Spike Walker, Dean Adams, Tele Aadsen) will be at the conference speaking, performing, and signing books!

As for me, I’ll be participating in a roundtable presentation on fishing families and signing copies of my book, Captain of Her Crew: The Commercial Fishing Mom’s Guide to Navigating Life at Home (available as an e-book and in paperback).

You can check out the full schedule for the Author’s Corner right here. From this link, you can also access all of the other special events (conferences, contests, vendors, booths, sponsors, happy hours) that will be happening at PME! I’ll be writing more about all of this in the coming weeks.

In other writing news, my Amazon.com author page is now complete. Click on the link to give it a look!

I hope everyone has a restful and/or productive weekend. I’m hoping for restful. :)

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Vincent in his customized fish shirt.

Fall Means Transition Time for the Commercial Fishing Family

It’s definitely that time of year again…fall. I see the wind blowing leaves all over the neighborhood and I stand in the window, watching white caps roar across the bay. The rain pours, the kids are in school, and George is long gone down to the harbor and the boat in preparation for the Dungeness crab season.

When the fisherman returns to work, whether he’s at sea or just down at the harbor, it’s a somewhat annoying transition for us here at home. Commercial fishing wives everywhere know what I’m talking about! Our husbands are technically “home,” but not home. They’re home, but distracted. They’re home, but not available.

In the last couple of weeks, G and I have had a succession of conversations like this:

Me: “Oh! I see you’re going to work this morning. Can you run the big kids to school on your way so I can stay here with the baby?”

G: “I can take one, but not two. I’m driving the flatbed.”

Me: “I’m getting a ‘low tire pressure’ message in my car. Can you meet me at the tire place so I can get it fixed without sitting there with the baby for three hours?”

G: “Um, I can’t today. Or tomorrow. Maybe Thursday. Oh, wait. I can’t then, either.”

Me: “Well, great. Then I guess my tire will just explode while I’m on the freeway.”

Me: “Are you going to be home for dinner tonight?”

G: “Uh, at some point. I don’t know when.”

Yep. That time of year has definitely arrived. Summer, as phenomenal as it was, is a distant memory. Time to forge ahead through the next nine months of fishing so we can get to next summer. The best bet is to jump on board (so to speak) and accept that it’s that time of year again and adjust accordingly.

I sat down and made some notes this weekend on how I can maneuver this adjustment so that I don’t feel resentful and bummed out. Actually, I didn’t sit down. I walked around the house holding my iPhone and baby Valerie while I talked to Siri, my faithful assistant, who took dictation. Here’s what we came up with:

1.  Get up thirty minutes before everyone else in the house. This way, I can sit in peace and quiet for a few moments and mentally gear up for the day ahead before the questions, demands, and obligations of a busy family set in.

2.  Create a schedule that works. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know this is a big one for me. Last year, the schedule I created for the children and me was not a success. I was determined to do better this year. So far, it has worked very well. I have, however, run into one glitch surrounding the day and time of Eva’s dance class. After two weeks, I knew it was not going to work for me or our family of young children throughout the stormy fall and winter ahead. So, I had to make the tough choice and switch dance studios. The good news is that Eva still gets to attend dance, and we’ll all be home for dinner at a normal time.

3.  Plan dinners, however loosely. G is the better cook at our house, so when he’s home, he enjoys preparing most of our dinners. Now that he is not available to do that, it’s my task. I hauled out my cookbooks, Pampered Chef stoneware, crockpot, and visited the store to buy the kinds of things I know how to make. So far, so good. I don’t plan an official menu for the week, but I do have some idea of what we’ll be having. I’ve even cooked the dinner ahead of time on some days when I had a moment, and warmed it up at dinnertime.

4.  Cozi. I am still in love with the Cozi app. It saw us through an entire summer of doctor appointments and trip schedules, and I am using it now to enter in the kids’ activities and my own appointments. I enter our appointments in the Cozi calendar wherever I am, and G and I can both easily reference what’s going on each day. He can double-check the day and time choir, dance, speech therapy, etc. are on, and there are no “I didn’t know that was today!” surprises.

5.  Don’t count on help from spouse. I can’t rely on G or assume he will be around to help out with meals, pick-ups, drop-offs, or anything else. He’s back to work, and it saves me a lot of frustration if I accept that. I must outsource other help if I need it, or simply do it myself. I’m lucky that George is so helpful when he’s home; but when he’s not, I have to quickly transition.

6.  Keep the house warm and smelling good. This creates a feeling of coziness and relaxation. I’ve put Scentsy burners in every room of the house. I don’t turn them all on at once, but they are there in case I want them. If I’m working in the living room, I turn that one on. If I’m folding laundry in the bedroom, I turn on that one. Watching TV in the family room? I plug in that one. I read recently that if you are prone to anxiety, the scent of Jasmine will work like a valium in promoting calm. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m going to.

7.  Plan time wisely. I have about ninety minutes of “free time” three days a week, when Valerie is napping and I’m not running kids around. I have to decide what to do in that time. Learn new Jazzercise routines to teach? Write a blog post? Flop on the couch? Return e-mails? Once I decide, I need to stick with the decision and not spend the ninety minutes flipping from one task to the next and accomplishing nothing.

8.  Most past failures. If I’ve hit a roadblock, a glitch, forgotten something, or otherwise, I just forget it and move quickly forward. Hey, we’re not new at this, and we’ve got a long nine months ahead to try again and do better. Plenty of time!

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Today Marks Ten Years of a Commercial Fishing Marriage

One morning twelve years ago, I drive into the Fred Wahl Marine Construction ship yard in Reedsport, Oregon, underneath an overcast sky that threatens rain. A storm is blowing in off the coast, and the blustering wind warns its impending arrival.

I am a young lady of 26, living in a new city away from home for the first time, and this is one of my first big assignments as a freelance writer. I’ve traveled through the dark of night to the Oregon Coast and the ship yard, where I’ll conduct an interview for National Fisherman magazine.

The yard is quiet on Saturday morning; the welders, pipe fitters, electricians, and carpenters are all at home. I follow Fred Wahl as he strides briskly across the yard to the newly constructed fishing boat I am here to ask questions about and take pictures of. I follow about ten paces behind, bowed against that relentless wind. Fred leans over the edge of the dock, cups his hand around his mouth, and shouts something to someone down on the boat.

I halt, grab my ponytail holder from around my wrist, fight the wind to tie my hair back, then dig around my backpack for my camera.

When I look up, I see that a second man, George (the captain of the new boat, whom I’m supposed to interview), has joined Fred on the dock.

Even with his hands stuffed inside his jeans pockets, hunched against the wind, I can see that George stands over six feet tall. His eyes squint against the gusts and his long-sleeved gray work shirt billows as he peers toward me. I recognize at once that his is the face of one who has spent years in the Bering Sea. It’s one of strength, experience, and wisdom; the kind that only grows more handsome with age.

I snap several pictures of the two men with the boat in the background, and then Fred makes his exit back across the lot to the office. George climbs back down to the boat and holds out his arm to help me aboard. Once on deck, I dig around in my pack again, this time for my recorder.

I ask questions—questions I don’t understand even as I ask them—about hull plating, keel, and autoline baters. George answers each of my questions in a low, calm, patient voice. His tone is oddly soothing, like a sedative. I feel strangely at ease, lulled into a sort of tranquility, even as I struggle with my recorder, which suddenly doesn’t seem to be working properly. I fumble through my pack again, this time for replacement batteries.

“What’s your last name?” I ask.

“Schile,” he says. “S-C-H-I-L-E. It’s German.”

I look up from my notebook and say it’s a nice last name.

After about an hour, the interview and boat tour is finished. I move to the edge of the vessel, embarrassed for my muddled interview and planning for a quick departure out of Reedsport. The weather has escalated; heavy rain now accompanies the wind, and dark clouds loom overhead.

George follows me across the deck and stops midway, leaning casually against a post.

“Have you had lunch?” he asks.

I pause before I answer, knowing I should really be on my way. I recall how Fred cautioned me about the weather earlier that day.

“You really shouldn’t drive the coast roads in this weather,” he’d warned. “It isn’t safe. You should stay here.”

“No,” I finally answer George. “I have not had lunch.”

We climb off the boat and walk over to the parking lot where George unlocks a shiny new Jeep Grand Cherokee and holds the passenger door open for me. When he starts the engine, the tranquil voice of Natalie Merchant from one of my favorite CDs flows from the speakers. I’m instantly transported back a few years to my starboard-side bunk on my family’s fishing boat in Alaska, where I listened to Natalie Merchant each night to lull me to sleep after long days of fishing.

George and I sit at a table for two in the local café and talk as we wait for bowls of clam chowder to arrive. We speak of fishing, of families, and of weather.

“You know,” says George. “Fred’s right. You should stay.”

I know I should go on down the road to my next story, but I’m enveloped by the warmth emanating from both the café and the stranger sitting in front of me. It surrounds me like a shelter from the storm raging outside, pounding against the windows.

Suddenly, I realize I do not want to drive alone up the coast road. I want to stay here, with this man, in this place, where it’s cozy and peaceful.

“I believe I will,” I decide.

I’ll visit George a couple more times at the ship yard before the official launch of the boat. I’ll sit around the galley table with George and the crew, cherishing the laughter and banter as we eat and tell fishing stories. It will remind me of home, my summers fishing, and the fun of sitting around galley tables with the best kind of fishermen there are.

After a few past years of heartbreak, odd paths chosen, and questionable life decisions made, I am suddenly transformed. I am filled with joy and comfort, familiarity and laughter. Hope.

I barely know this person, but I know I am finally home. I also know I will never leave again.

* * *

Happy tenth wedding anniversary, G! The years have been long and the years have been short; they’ve been full of laughter and a few tears; they’ve included disappointments and excitement. They’ve involved fisheries, boats, dogs, illness, struggles, arguments, forgiveness, successes, children, houses, surprises, sweetness, memorable events, good decisions, bad decisions, and great friends. I couldn’t have chosen a better partner to go through life with, and I hope you still feel the same.

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September 28, 2002

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Ten Years Later.

Fishermen Always Miss Out

Robin Blue, of the blog The Fishing Blues, has done an incredible job in her latest post capturing the schedule–or lack there of–of a commercial fisherman and a commercial fishing family. It’s an honest and beautifully written post, true to Robin’s form. What’s normal in a “regular” family is not the norm in a commercial fishing family, and her description of the missed birthdays, weddings, first days of school, anniversaries, Mother’s Days and close calls at Christmas is right on the money. Beautifully done, Robin!

Vincent’s Road to Recovery. Also, a Blog Book for the Family Archives!

I think that falling asleep holding hands with my little son, on the pullout couch in the family room, was the best way to spend a late Sunday afternoon.

How pleasant to drift off mid-day with my little one beside me, quiet and peaceful, as he caught up on sleep and continues to recover from surgery.

The “couch bed” has been set up for a week already and we’ve all taken turns resting, sleeping, reading, and watching shows with five-year-old Vincent.

Eva, six, has been so patient and respectful of Vincent’s adjustment and recovery process that I treated her to a mother–daughter pedicure over the weekend. And when she chose fluorescent yellow for her nail color and insisted I choose the same so we could be “twins,” there was no way I could refuse!

It’s been a slow, quiet, peaceful week at our house. It was hard for anyone to imagine we could keep things quiet around here for more than five minutes, but we did! I’m still processing events from the surgery and after and plan to write more about that part of it later. It has been so overwhelming to sort through and I’m trying to stay focused on continuing Vincent’s adjustment and road back to health.

In the midst of all this, I actually did something I’ve been wanting to do for years, which is finding a program that will convert this entire blog into a book. It’s not a book I will sell or make available (unless my parents want a copy, ha ha!) but I have always wanted all of my posts from the past five years bound into one volume to include in our family archives of photo albums, scrapbooks, and journals.

I looked around the Internet a couple years ago for a way to convert this blog into a book, but nothing worked. When I tried uploading blog posts, the formatting would be all over the place and so would the pictures. I stopped trying, figuring improvements would take place eventually, and I’d just wait until then.  I recently resumed my search and after sampling a few programs that still didn’t work, I found one that did! The program I chose was Blog2Print.

After uploading over 400 blog posts with pictures, the first version ended up as a 600-page volume; too big for them and for me. Instead of breaking it up into two books, I went to work cutting blog posts that didn’t need to be in the book and got the numbers down. They didn’t go down enough, though, so I cut and cut some more. I ended up creating a volume of blog posts in a hardback book of about 410 pages. I gave it the title “Highliners and Homecomings: The First Five Years.”

I can’t wait to see the book once it arrives and include it in our family history for the children!

Goodbye, Sweet Summer. You Were One Of The Best.

It pains me to no end, but I spent this weekend packing away our summer tank tops and shorts, replacing them in our dresser drawers with pants and long-sleeved shirts. What hurt the most, though, and I mean really hurt, was deflating all of our water wings, inflatable tubes, and baby floats we used at the pool the past four months and packing them into a box that I took downstairs to the garage.

20120916-145558.jpgSeriously. It was awful! We had the best summer ever together as an actual family. We couldn’t get to the pool soon enough most days, and it seemed once there that we could not stay long enough. Several guests spent time with us basking in the sun and water, too, which made it even better. My parents, sister, niece, a handful of friends and their children…we even rented out the place for Vincent’s fifth birthday party!

I wasn’t sure if we’d get to the pool again after we returned from Florida, but we did get in a couple more visits. This past Friday was our final afternoon; we even took the last hanging flower basket home with us that pool management was giving away. 

I can’t even talk about how the box that George shipped home from Florida with our beach towels and souvenirs inside arrived last week…when I opened it up, there was sand from the beach scattered within, and I inhaled the beautiful scent of beach, sand, and suntan lotion. The last scent of an incredible summer.

Of course, I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating. A little over–the–top. Dramatic. I am those things, honestly. But I am serious this time. George is not around very often due to his fishing schedule and the never–ending work of boats, engines, gear, permits, taxes, regulations, and planning. When G is home, he often is not actually “home.”

But—for the first time in about a decade, he was really “home” this summer. I treasured and savored each moment of the sunshine, George, the children, my parents, my friends, and all that was good. And there was lots of good. I got to watch G forge a relationship with his infant daughter, whose first five months of life he missed. I love watching the way Valerie smiles at George now when she sees him, rather than crying and looking frantically around for me.

No, we didn’t adopt two new puppies. We’re just holding them.

Today I am vacuuming the house, filling out PTA paperwork, and getting ready for Vincent’s surgery tomorrow. I’m doing what I always do when I have a “patient,” which is pull out what the kids call the “bed couch” (hideaway bed) and fixing it up with fresh sheets, blankets, sleeping bags, and lots of pillows.

Vincent goes in tomorrow to have some work done on the matter of his eustachian tube dysfunction, and he’ll have two weeks of recovery ahead. They have warned us repeatedly that the first week will be painful for his ears, nose, and throat. Lots of milkshakes, popsicles, smoothies, and jello to come for my sweet buddy! Movies and reading books, too.

We hope that this surgery goes far in fixing a lot of damage that has accumulated over the past five years. We set all of this up earlier in the summer and then set it aside until fall, choosing to focus on enjoying the blessings of sunshine and family that were at hand.

Now, even though I’m dragging my heels in saying goodbye to sunshine and the luxury and rarity of having G and his attention around, I know that now is Vincent’s time. We’ve been waiting for this a long time.

Wish us luck tomorrow and please keep Vincent in your thoughts and prayers!

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What does this picture have to do with this particular post? Nothing. But it gave me a smile, and I thought it might give you one, too.

Three Thousand Miles Away, But Just Like Yesterday. Sort Of.

Twelve years ago, shortly after G and I met, he flew us to Florida so I could meet his parents and sisters, who were all living there at the time.

We took time on that trip to Florida’s inland to drive out to the Gulf of Mexico and spend a few days at Anna Maria Island. It was my first time in Florida and seeing the Gulf of Mexico, and it was amazing.

I had been to Hawaii and California plenty of times before, but I had not been any where near Florida or to a place like Anna Maria Island. One of the things I loved about the Island is that it did not allow fast food restaurants, high-rise hotels, or enormous sprawling beachfront resorts.

I appreciated that the hotels on Anna Maria were old, rustic, and small. George and I stayed in an adorable yellow hotel right on the beach with a beachside café next door.

Our room had a romantic balcony that faced the seemingly unending expanse of the Gulf. And when the coastal weather took a turn one late afternoon, it was the first time I ever, literally, watched a storm roll in. Seriously. I watched those clouds and that rain and that lightning roll across the Gulf until it all landed on the beach right front of me.

Anyway, I enjoyed every moment of that trip. I also enjoyed every moment of the second trip we took to Anna Maria Island a little over a year later, right after we became engaged.

I remember well how awesome it felt to step off the plane and realize I was on the totally opposite end of the country. I was giddy with sunshine and freedom!

Then, of course, George and I got married, and that was the end of pretty much all freedom. We sold one fish biz, bought another, invested in new fisheries, bought and sold a house or two, adopted two dogs, gave birth to two and then three children…and we never made it back to Anna Maria.

Until now!

Here I am, twelve years later, writing this blog post from the same yellow hotel we stayed in over a decade ago. Because we have three children, we secured a larger two bedroom unit that faces the pool rather than a quaint balcony room facing the Gulf, but everything else is exactly the same.

The hotel is still yellow, there is still a beach café next door, and the restaurant at the end of the pier where a man plays the piano and sings is still open, along with the homemade ice cream shop.

Not one thing has changed on this island in twelve years, and I love it!

Just as before, I’m on the other side of the country and I’m here with the same guy. I still feel giddy and I still feel free being in a place where absolutely not one person knows me and I don’t know any of them! It’s a surreal feeling.

I am so connected to my circles and my friends and my activities at home that it feels strange to not only be away, but to be this far away!

I love the sunshine and the heat. I love the midnight rain and lightning and thunder storms and the fact that I’m reading a wonderful book instead of watching TV or looking at my computer.

The hustle and stress of the forthcoming school year and fall commitments will commence the minute we get home from vacation, so I am really going to take these next few days slowly and with gratitude for what has been….and what is to come!

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A Weekend to Remember

I started thinking about my 20th high school reunion last spring.

Should I go? Would it matter if I skipped the event? I’d just had a baby. Would I look good? Who would be there?

Indeed, I had a blast at my ten-year reunion. I was not yet 28-years old at that time, was newly engaged to be married with a sparkler on my finger, and spent the entire summer prior to the reunion traveling and sunning on the deck of my (well, okay, it was George’s) beachfront Ballard condo. Heck yeah, I was going to my ten-year reunion! What did I have to lose?

George was fishing in the Bering Sea that summer, so one of my lifelong BFFs drove from her home further south and picked me up. I was nervous, but at least I had a buddy to walk into the less formal “bar night” with, and someone with whom to attend the offical reunion. We were still young, we did not yet have children, and we were ready to party.

Flash forward ten years; none of my BFFs were attending the twentieth reunion. Panic! I contacted another dear friend. Then another. It seemed nobody was going! Oh, no.

I also did not have a babysitter for either night of the twentieth reunion, try as I’d had to line one up. I have a seven-month old who is used to me being home for each of her waking moments, as well as a five-and a six-year-old who rely on the consistency of good ole’ mom being home day and night. (When you have a husband who is gone up to five months in a row, your children become especially bonded to you.)

So, my BFFs were not going to the reunion. Still other friends were not going. I had a baby and two other children who were going to be very upset if I went.

You know what I did? I found an outfit to wear, put my hair in rollers, got into my car, and I went.

It was a big decision. There was a lot of stress leading up to this weekend; Vincent’s hearing loss diagnosis, particular difficulties surrounding writing and Jazzercise, and the on-going transition upon George’s return home from Alaska into a family of five from a family of four.

But you know what? I am so glad I made the choice to go.

From the moment I walked into the first night, I spotted friends I’d lost track of and many of the “kids” I grew up with. I found the people with whom I was in clubs (Junior State of America, anyone?) wrestling cheerleaders, and youth group. Boys I had crushes on in eighth grade. Former neighbors, elementary school friends, people with whom I also attended college, and individuals who remained dear to me after college.

On the second night of the reunion I got dressed up again, put Valerie in her jammies (after her first night without me, it was clear I’d need to take her with me or not go at all!) and headed back out for another night of festivities. A friend and his wife, who were also attending the reunion, were thoughtful enough to bring their daughter to town watch my older two children so that G and I could both go to the reunion.

For a couple who does not go out (or go out together) because of his fishing schedule and the ages of our children, this was a huge gift. A night out! With G? Sweet!

The second night of the reunion was even better than the first night. The sun shone bright, it was hot, and the setting was festive and fun. Everyone came to have a good time. The planning committee produced a top-notch event complete with cool name tags, balloons, and souvenir drink glasses. I took a picture with my elementary school friends, talked and laughed with other friends, and reacquainted with people I’d either never known well or with whom I’d lost touch.

I also had a handful of beautiful, warm, giving, and loving girlfriends (along with G) who held and snuggled baby Valerie so I could relax and enjoy myself.

And I know that while everyone came to the reunion to have a good time, not everyone has had a good time of late. The last twenty years, and especially the last ten, have been hard on a lot of people. There have been divorces and custody battles, and classmates who have lost parents to accidents or illness. There are classmates who have lost their blessed pregnancies and babies, their brothers, and their sisters.

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Still, these people came. They came to connect, to talk, to kick back, to reminisce as well as look forward.

We have a very special class and we come from a very special town. Admittedly, I was one of the first who was ready to leave this town behind after I graduated. I was never happier than when I moved to Portland and then Seattle. I never planned to move back here.

But then—I became pregnant with my first child. With a commercial fishing husband (and of course, being raised in a commercial fishing family), I knew that I was going to be by myself a lot as I raised my children. I knew I needed to be where I was comfortable, and where I had history, and where my friends were.

Not all of the people I went to school with are my friends, and I don’t see most of them except every ten years. However, this town feels like home to me. And whenever I see the people I went to elementary, middle, high school, and college with, I see “home” in their faces. Whether or not we see or talk to each other at any other time, and whether or not they even still live here in the town where we all grew up, they are home.