Happy Valentine’s Day…I Guess!

Our busy weekend began with G’s surprise announcement that he was coming home so he could attend my sister’s 40th birthday surprise party. We were so excited!

While he was here, we got a heart-shaped Papa Murphy’s pizza and helped Eva make Valentine cards for her preschool classmates. Even though G kept saying he had to leave “first thing Monday morning”, I didn’t believe him. After all, the weather where he’s fishing is terrible, and the crew aren’t even in port!

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “There are things on the boat that have to be fixed before we can go fishing again. I have to go fix them.”

Early this morning, G presented me with gifts from two of my favorite stores. I started to open one, but he snatched it back.

“Wait! I need to get the price tag!” he said.

“Do you have anything for me?” he asked next.

“Uh…no.” I said.

I did have things, but they weren’t ready yet! I didn’t know he was coming home this weekend!

I asked G if he really had to leave. What difference would one more day make? After all, if he stayed, I could get his Valentine’s gifts in order.

No matter. At 8:00 a.m., G fired up the flatbed. He gave one last look toward the house to see if we were standing in the windows, then blew us a kiss and drove away.

Next, I did what any other self-respecting commercial fisherman’s wife would do.

I called G. I called again. I texted. I reminded G that the weather was crappy. I sent an e-mail. I reported that the gifts he’d given me for Valentine’s Day did not fit right, and unfortunately, needed to be exchanged.

I held out hope that he hadn’t actually left, and was just busy running errands in town, until it was obviously time for me to get the household ready for the evening without him.

It’s okay, though. G did come home and we had a great time yesterday, and there are good times ahead. One silly day only carries as much weight as you give it.

Happy Valentines Day… WHATEVER! :-)

Thankful and Thirsty Thursday

I’ve been thinking about what to write for Thankful Thursday. I’ve also been thinking a bit about my older sister, Cassandra, who turns 40 on Sunday. So, I decided to dedicate Thankful Thursday to her three days before the big day.

The number “40” is rather frightening to think about, but Cass actually personifies the popular expression “Forty is the new thirty.”

Truly. She is a tiny little thing with a nice complexion and cute, bouncy, spiraling curly hair. She is fit, toned, and exercises regularly. If you saw her in person I don’t think you’d put her much past her early 30s.

It was not easy growing up in a family of three girls all three years apart. We all have such different personalities, talents, interests that it’s remarkable we come from the same parents. However, along with the insecurities, competition, and fighting growing up, there were also plenty of laughs, dancing, listening to music, playing sports and piano, and general play in the house and outside.

It must be difficult being the oldest of three girls. Cassandra set the bar and worked the hardest of us at school and activities. She was the first to march on up to college and receive her Bachelor’s degree. And way back in 1984, she received first place in the running long jump at the Arco Jesse Owens track meet and flew to Los Angeles to compete in the national meet. I think she even got to watch some of the Olympics. In ballet, Cass made it to pointe shoes and danced some of the advanced roles in the Nutcracker.

When all three of us fished on Dad’s boat during the Alaska salmon seasons, Cass was the deck boss and helped Steph and I not make mistakes on deck or get in too much trouble.

“Here!” she’d whisper, crouching next to us. “Coil this line! Dad’s watching!”

Cass is rather reserved and private (so she’ll probably love this birthday blog post) but she has a wicked wit, an observant eye, and a knack for calling things out in a humorous and unique way.

One of the things about Cass that always makes me laugh (even as I type this) is the look on her face whenever I show up somewhere she is. Parties, family gatherings, bars, wherever. Her expression becomes a priceless mix of weariness, annoyance, and hope rolled into one.  Ha ha!

My sister has not had the easiest life. I was with her at our family seafood store fourteen years ago this month when the call came in that something horrific had occurred on our family fishing boat in Alaska. I drove her to the family home and watched as she learned that her husband of four months, Danny, had been lost at sea.

Cassandra has gone to work most every single day the past fourteen years at the store she and Danny opened with our dad. She helps retail and wholesale customers, deals with inspectors, smokes and cans seafood, vacuum-packs product and fillets fish.

She bought her own house, her own car, and pays for most of her own vacations. She puts her own money into her own retirement fund. She is one of the strongest people I know and hasn’t depended upon anything–a trust fund, men, family–outside of herself to make her way in the world.

Cassandra and I are very…uh…different from each other in many ways and that is challenging at times. But in the end, she’s always been one of my most loyal supporters and wanted to see me succeed in my life, family, and goals.

When I began training to become a Jazzercise instructor, both Cass and Steph were my two faithful pretend students in the living room of my house. We had a lot of fun as I learned how to cue the moves and routines and they tried to follow.

When I called the family store ten years ago from where I was living 500 miles away and excitedly blurted out my plans to become a writer and abandon the destructive path I’d been traveling, it was Cassandra who answered the phone and first shared my happiness.

And two years later, when I read from an essay in my first anthology publication, she was in the bookstore audience.

So, Happy Early 40th Birthday, Cass! Thanks for being the focus of Thankful Thursday. And a Happy Thirsty Thursday, too!

Cheers from your “favorite” (lol) sister.

Favorite Job and a Night Away

Prompt:

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

What is the worst job you’ve ever had? What did you learn?


Oddly enough, I’m already doing both of the jobs I’d most want to have: Stay at Home Mom and Writer.

The only thing I’d add to this is that I’d do more writing. More paid writing, that is. It would be nice to have time to dedicate to additional professional projects, but that’s where my SAHM gig comes in and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

The worst jobs I’ve had were in offices. I was always hired as the cheerful front desk person and while I enjoy people and love typing, I found that I couldn’t stand the positions after one week on the job.

My anxiety went into overdrive each day about 2 p.m. and I couldn’t wait to leave the office and breathe. I like office work…but I’ve since learned that I like it best in my own office!

(I can only pin the “I suffocate sitting within four walls under someone else’s thumb” on the heritage of fishermen and captains in my bloodline!)

******

The kids and I got to make a quick and spontaneous trip to visit The G and B&B (Brett & Bryan) this weekend. We had the best time, and the little ones and I were beyond thrilled to get in the car and get out of town!!

We shouted “Road Trip! Road Trip!” as soon as we turned onto the freeway, and we did not stop the car until we arrived in port and saw G waving at us.

We had only one night with The G and B&B, but every second was awesome.

Bowling, pizza, laughs, love all around…maybe I’ll make it to the end of the season after all.

Lay Off the Red Bull and Eat Your Veggies!

I hope everyone is having a relaxing or fun-filled Sunday. The sun is out today and I’m thrilled about that. Even if it is absolutely freezing and the wind is blowing, I’m just so glad the non-stop dreary rain has stopped for at least one day!

One of the traditions in our fishing family is that when our boat leaves for a fishing season, G (or Dad, when we were younger) steps outside the wheelhouse just before the boat steams out of sight. He blasts the foghorn, and those of us standing on the dock wave like crazy as they round the breakwater and cruise out of the harbor.

Well, early this morning, Eva ran into my bedroom.

“Mommy!” she said. “I heard a foghorn! I think Daddy is driving the boat past our house on his way home! Is Daddy coming home today?”

I regretted having to tell her that, sadly, Daddy was not coming home today and the horn must have been from the train or another boat. (I didn’t bother explaining that sounding the foghorn on the way home was not actually part of our tradition, lol.)

I’ve decided that wherever G ends up the next time he comes in from sea, wherever he unloads the crab and for however long he’s in port, the kids and I are going to see him. It’s become clear they need a big Daddy hug and I think he could use a couple of baby hugs.

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is how hard these guys work and for how many hours they are at it. They do not stop to sit down and eat meals and they do not quit work to sleep. They are up for 36 hours at a time, for days on end. When the weather is good and the crab (or salmon, halibut, blackcod, etc.) are there, they do not stop. They keep going, and going, and going.

How does someone force himself to stay up? And not just up, but working. Physically working. Fighting weather conditions. Thinking. Making decisions. Keeping the adrenalin going. Staying safe and preventing accidents and injury.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many healthy methods that make this possible, because it really isn’t a healthy situation at the end of the day. Fishermen have been known to rely on…

Red Bull. Which, importantly, is not recommended if you have high blood pressure or are working in physically strenuous conditions. Too much Red Bull could make you irritable, shaky, anxious, and totally over-the-top.

Chewing Tobacco. No need to say much here…

Cigarettes. Eeeks.

Coffee. Caffeine. (Of course, not consumed in a delicate glass cup and saucer with dainty spoon as shown here, but gulped down in extra-large steel or hard plastic mugs by the pot.)

No Doz. This stuff has been around forever.

Diet can also go out the window when guys are fishing hard and non-stop.

So here’s my plea. Lay off the Red Bull and the chew. Forget the bacon, fellas! Eat your fruits and your veggies. Take your vitamins. Lots of them. Drop the anchor and get three hours of peaceful sleep now and again. Please!

Try your best to  maintain a healthy lifestyle whether at sea or on shore. It’s not easy. We’re all tired, need energy, and have our habits. But we have to at least try.

Listen to your commercial fishing mommies and wives. We know best!

Looking for One Teddy Bear and One Daddy

Finally, a day without rain. The kids and I went for a long, invigorating walk up and down hills all afternoon in the fresh air with my sister and baby niece. I took Eva and Vincent for ice cream following and it almost felt like spring!

In case anyone is wondering how G’s crab season is going and why I haven’t posted any updates or pictures, it’s because I’m operating under a temporary gag order issued by the captain himself! Ha ha!

I only talk to G about once a week and not for very long because they are working 24/7. The first month of the crab season is the most critical, so G and the guys are incredibly focused down and I *try* not to bother them.

Vincent woke me up at 3:00 a.m. recently. I heard him rustling around and pacing the hallways, crying.

I sprung out of bed.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked as I reached for my little boy.

“I’m looking for my teddy bear and my daddy,” he cried.

I scooped up my little guy. And while I quickly located his bear, there wasn’t anything I could do about his dad except to say Daddy loved him very much.

So, I cuddled with Vincent as he cried himself back to sleep, repeating “I miss my dad,” over and over.

This is actually the first time either of my children has cried over G being gone. Of course we always miss George terribly, but we usually keep on keepin’ on with hope and smiles. Vincent took me by surprise!

Another Cool Commercial Fishing Blog

I am really excited today. I have no idea why, as nothing amazing has occurred, but I’m pumped.

One thing I love is that the large non-fiction writing project I’ve been working on for years has finally come together and feels perfect. Don’t get me wrong; it’s far from finished. I finally sat down last week and reviewed a ton of feedback on the work I’ve gathered so far from editors and agents all around the country, along with feedback from a few fellow writers.

Most of the feedback was legitimate and caused me to sit back and reflect upon the suggestions and insight. Other feedback was so off-base it was clear the reader did not have a handle on the material at all. That feedback I simply rolled my eyes at before depositing in both my mental and real shredders.

I decided that I will, in fact, enter the 2011 Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Literary Contest (deadline February 28) along with hundreds of other writers. I may not win a ribbon, but at the very least, I’ll come away with even more feedback to mull over.

The other thing I’m excited about today is that I’ve finally entered the “burn phase” of the 24-day AdvoCare Challenge I’m doing with a few other people. I did just fine on the first ten days and am looking forward to the final fourteen. This challenge, combined with all the Jazzercise, should help get me back on track and well on my way to feeling like myself again (as well as ready for our first real vacation in four years this spring!).

Last but not least, I discovered yet another awesome commercial fishing blog. I enjoyed the content, subject matter, and writing style so well that I’ve included a direct RSS feed to it in the sidebar to the right.

Fish Tales is written by Jen Pickett, who posts once a week on (the creatively and aptly-named) Pickfish Fridays. Here’s a bit about Jen, taken directly from her blog:

“Jen Pickett is a freelance writer, a poet, and commercial fisherman. She has spent nearly two decades in Alaska’s commercial fishing industry. Starting as crewman, she’s worked tenders, seiners, trollers, gill netters and long liners fishing Alaska’s waters for herring, salmon, and halibut from Southeast Alaska to the Copper River Flats, Prince William Sound, Kodiak and Bristol Bay.  At the ripe age of 28 she became one of the few women to own and skipper her boat on one of Alaska’s most dangerous waters, the Copper River Flats, where she fished alone for the famous Copper River Kings and Reds. Encountering storms, breakers, broken-down equipment, ripped up nets, exhaustion, whales, sharks, and close calls with giant cruise ships and many other near misses, all became the norm aboard her 28′ boat…”

Pretty cool, right?

And before I go….Happy Birthday to my one time fishing crew mate and forever little sis, Steph!!



WordPress Formatting Errors

I wrote and published a new post here this morning…but upon looking at it after clicking “publish” I saw the formatting was entirely messed up.

There were no spaces between the paragraphs, and the font was in bold and in  the wrong style.

I have no idea what’s going on but it’s fixed soon so I can bring you the Tuesday post!

Thanks for your patience. I think mine is running out.

Happy Thirsty Thursday

 

To be honest, I’d never heard of  “Thirsty Thursday” until about five years ago. I may be wrong (and it wouldn’t be the first time) but I think I learned about it after casually asking my sister, Steph, what her husband Ryan was up to one early Thursday evening years ago.

“Well, it’s Thirsty Thursday,” I believe she replied, “So he’s out with some friends from work.”

Interesting.

Now, I’ve been out of the official work force since….2001, I believe. So if Thirsty Thursday is something relatively new, I missed it.

However.

I have to thank one of my fellow commercial fishing wives, Amanda, for one of the best laughs I had all week (and I have to thank Steph and Ryan for the other one. KK2, yo!).

As you know,  the first round of casting is currently underway for the new commercial fishing wives TV show that is in the works. On our Facebook group Commercial Fishing Families & Friends, we’ve had an ongoing dialogue about the show and who we think would be great on it.

Well, out of nowhere, came Amanda with this post on the group page:

“Ha! Like we have a choice on holding down the fort! Er…sorry, been at it alone here for a couple months. I think I’m starting to crack. Oh well, nothing a glass of wine won’t cure! This show sounds great, I just hope they plan on supplying the wives with barrels of wine :)

Amanda, I couldn’t agree with you more on all fronts. LOL. Here’s a virtual glass of red wine from one fishing wife to another. Cheers!

Whatever You Want, Dear…

G and the guys got all the gear out in spite of horrendous weather and no sleep. In addition, the “soak period” was reduced this year by 24 hours, so they got absolutely no sleep in between setting gear, dumping pots, crossing the bar twice, and fighting weather before they needed to go bring it all back up again.

Now, G is a very amiable, easy-going husband. I don’t ask for much, and he doesn’t say no to much. If anything, he only asks me “If I’m really sure” about my decisions, or lovingly says “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Hon,” when my ideas don’t pan out.

It’s sort of our routine. Well, just last night, I made a request of G via cell phone. It was not an earth-shattering request (I didn’t suggest another baby or announce I was going to buy the Acura SUV I have my eye on). It was about a check from Christmas past that I discovered recently and the way I wanted to use it.

So I called G. A sleepy, worn out, exhausted, spent-to-the-limit G.

“I don’t care, Hon,” he said. “…whatever you want…if that’s what you want…sounds good to me…go for it….I really need to go back to sleep now…”

I haven’t heard from my husband today but am sure he stands by what he said….ha!

Jen’s Friday Favorites

 

It’s a new feature here on Highliners and Homecomings. Actually, it’s an old feature with a new twist. A couple of years ago I borrowed something my friend Kim does on her blog, which is create a list of my “Favorites of the Week.” I try to come up with five or so things, people, or places that struck a chord with me that week and include them in the list.

I thought it would be fun to give the Favorites of the Week a new spin by giving it an official logo and creating the list each Friday. I searched around last night looking for images and I found this cute Snoopy one, which I personalized a bit. I love it!

Anyway, here’s my official Favorites of the Week:

  • My Jazzertogs order that showed up. I love everything in it and got it all on sale. Now, if only my kids and I would regain good health so I can sport my new gear at Jazzercise next week.
  • The AdvoCare order that arrived. I’m so excited. I just learned about AdvoCare from my friends Krissy and Sara last week and was so optimistic about it that I’m now a Distributor. More info and a link to my Distributor page later.
  • The professional commercial fishing photographer, David Hills, arriving in Westport to board our f/v Vis to take photographs of the Dungeness crab season. His work is awesome; just check out the link to his longlining photographs in the sidebar.
  • Sending G and the crew off. It’s certainly not my favorite thing to see G go, but the send-off was cheerful and upbeat. It is so important for fishing kids to see their mom and dad (and everyone else) staying positive and optimistic in light of departures. We waved and waved, G blasted the foghorn (a tradition started by my dad) and then we got into the car and went directly to Jazzercise to play.
  • The unexpected check I found while sorting out presents and cards from Christmas 2009. I was shocked! I also found a couple of gift cards from Eva’s birthday a couple of years ago. I’m crossing my fingers the check is still good, lol.

Have a great weekend!