Go, Toby!

This morning, the pet hospital called with the biopsy results from our beloved dog Toby’s eight-pound spleen tumor. We were shocked to hear that the tumor was benign, and in addition, the liver biopsy showed no signs of cancer.

I’m starting to wonder if Toby even still has the orginal lymphoma, which claimed his eye. I’ll find that all out when he sees his regular veterinarian to remove the stiches that run the length of his entire body.

I’ve written before that Toby is a miracle dog, and it seems that he’s proved it once again!  Unbelievable.

Go, Toby!


Dungeness Crab Photographs

Here are a couple of fun Dungeness crab photographs. I’m publishing them with permission from Captain G himself.

Bryan, Brandon, and Brett

Welcome Home, Toby

Yesterday morning, I received a call that Toby was ready to begin the rest of his recovery in the comfort of his own home.

My brother-in-law, Ryan, took me to get Toby yesterday afternoon. Although fragile, it is clear that Toby loves being home, and he has stopped the lonely wail he’d adopted while at the hospital. He was greeted with stuffed toys, treats, homemade meals, and all of his favorite visitors.

We are incredibly grateful Toby is here with us again and expect the results of his latest biopsy by the middle of next week.

Here’s a picture of Toby, taken by Ryan shortly after our arrival home.

Our Canine Soldier, Toby.

Everyone who knows us, or has read this blog, knows about our awesome dog, Toby. Of course, Toby is our 6-year old purebred pitbull, whom we fostered at six-weeks old and then loved so much we adopted him ourselves. Toby and Mandy (his border collie-mix sister) have been steadfast members of our family since the day George and I got married.

Toby is a man’s dog; he loves to ride in the front seat of the flatbed with George, help George and the crew with crab gear work, and do anything he can to be around a workin’ man. He is also a family dog; he is wonderful with the kids and an incredibly patient, loving, strong, and big dog. Our Toby defines the word stoic. He’s our brave and uncomplaining soldier.

Toby is also a miracle dog. When he was shockingly diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in March 2007, the conventional vets gave him thirty days to live. After we had his eye removed and started him on homeopathic remedies, he went into remission for an unheard-of two years.

This fall, innocent Toby was punched in the head by a bum while on one of his walks. Nothing could have infuriated us more.

In the two years since he’s been in remission from cancer, Toby has flourished. He’s eaten homemade meals with supplements and vitamins every night, gained a lot weight, and grown strong and confident. He has never been healthier. In the meantime, we added 1000 square feet to the house, created a backyard, and did everything we could to make life as ideal as possible for every member of the family, including the pups.

I’ll cut to the chase: After two years in remission, it recently became apparent that Toby was out of whack. He looked odd; his spine protruded, his belly hung low, and he moved slowly. He seemed depressed, and he even turned home from one of his walks.

We got him into his vet; an x-ray showed a tumor. The next day, we got him into an ultrasound; it showed a massive spleen tumor.

I called George on the fishing grounds, something I never do. He said, “Do whatever it takes. Get it out if you can.” I’d delayed calling George until I absolutely had to. I didn’t want to be an alarmist, especially when it concerned one of his best buddies. We had hardly any phone coverage, and I couldn’t even fully explain the situation. His command was clear, however: Get It Out.

That made my decsion much easier. Toby underwent emergency surgery yesterday, and an eight-pound, football-sized tumor was removed, along with his spleen. The tumor was so big that the surgeon said Toby wouldn’t have survived another day at home, or even a surgery scheduled for later, because the mass was ready to burst at any moment.

The tumor actually ruptured during surgery, and Toby lost a lot of blood. His bone marrow is not regenerating blood very quickly, but his heart is holding steady. Currently, he is in stable condition and being monitored by board-certified physicians.

I am so grateful for my parents, sisters, babysitters, and friend/miracle pet lover, Lisa. All of these people have altered their schedules, sacrificed money, and been on standby for Toby and all the rest of us. I am now, and will forever be, grateful beyond all comprehension!

Lisa and Toby

Toby Waiting for Surgery

First Post from iPhone

This is my first attempt at writing a post using the iPhone application I just uploaded. I thought it would be fun to try.

Speaking of phones; I received a text message from George this morning, and it sounds like everything is going fine out on the wild ocean. I think he’s happy to be back on the boat even though he misses us, and that’s a good thing. I love that he has a passion for his work, strenuous and stressful as it might be at times!

I’m adding a photo to this post just to try out the feature from the phone.

Cheerful and Optimistic

I heard from George this morning; he sounded exceptionally cheerful, awake, and optimistic. That must be the perfect attitude with which to go pick up the first round of gear!

Things are looking up here as well. That didn’t take too long. As George told me a couple of nights ago, “Remember, the first few days are always the hardest, Hon.”

Of course, I hadn’t remembered that in the midst of fevers, coughing, and broken-down dressers, but hearing the words did help. And it’s true; the kids are feeling a bit better and are well-adjusted to his departure. Eva might have the seasons a bit confused (she asked George to bring her some salmon to eat—and make her a milkshake for dessert—when he was “done on the boat”) but she understands the essence of it all.

One additional note: If you like this blog and want to be alerted when new posts are published, you can enter your e-mail address in the form on the right. This is just convenient way to keep you more regularly updated with Highliners and Homecomings, if you so choose.

The little ones and I had a wonderful day yesterday; we put a year’s worth of photos in albums and then snuggled together in a chair and looked through all of them last night. Eva loves to look at pictures of herself as a baby, and Vincent gets excited when he recognizes people and things: “Mommy! Dada. Dada’s boat!”

Have a great last day of vacation before the regular routines kick back in.

Little Victories

It occurred to me that I should acknowledge the first official day of George’s Dungeness crab season. They call it “Dump Day” because the crab boats have the green light to set all of their pots. They aren’t allowed to bring the pots back on board, though, for one or two more days. I can’t remember all of  the rules or reason to it all, but as of 3:00 a.m. yesterday, the Vis was heading out to set the first Dungeness crab pots of the season.

I hope George’s return to fishing has gone smoother than my return to solo parenting. Admittedly, this has not been the most seamless transition. Both little ones are sick with terrible coughs, so we have been staying at home and taking a break from participating in our regular activities, like teaching Jazzercise. Add their sickness to the over-the-top excitement and sleeplessness from Christmas and the confusion over George’s departure, and I have a rather trying situation on my hands.

Thank goodness for my friends, who help me out with the dogs and kids by showing up offering assistance and sending e-mails of encouragement.

Most commercial fishing wives and mothers will tell you one of the things they’re most proud of when their husbands are gone is how self-sufficient they become. Along those lines, I have to share the two things I’ve managed to accomplish in the two days George has been away.

First, I discovered what a “cross dowel bolt” and a “cross dowel nut” were (not to mention an allen wrench) when I set about the adventure of setting up Eva’s new artist’s easel. Setting up her easel was a big deal, for I am a girl who cannot follow a map and possesses no spacial reasoning skills. Surprisingly, when I discovered I’d asssembled half of her new easel backwards, I was able to undo all of my work, start again, and complete the job correctly.

The other accomplishment revolved around Eva’s dresser. I was not happy when I looked into her room and discovered that Eva (or was it Vincent?) had removed all of the dresser drawers and took the whole thing apart. After experiencing a moment of panic and locating the phone to call my dad to come help me, I halted. I took a deep breath, re-assessed the situation, and finally managed to put it all back together.

The dresser, that is.

Whew. Two days down, months and months to go…

Nautical Writing Opportunity

Here is an interesting writing opportunity for those interested in nautical/maritime history and culture. It was sent to me by a Seattle author that I’ve worked with before,  so I thought I’d pass along the information:

“I’m writing to you and all my writer/editor friends to tell you about my new maritime heritage website, Fyddeye, http://www.fyddeye.com/. The tagline is “Discover and share your maritime history.” It’s now up and running and traffic is starting to grow. I’m making plans for a printed version of the Fyddeye Directory to complement to the website.

I’d like to ask for your help. I’m looking for writers willing to contribute to the website. The contribution could be as simple as a review for one of Fyddeye’s 2,500 tall ships, historic warships, maritime museums, lighthouses, and historic sites. Two or three reviews would be even better. I’m also looking for newsy 300-word articles that would be bylined and placed on Fyddeye’s home page. To get started, simply register on the site (it’s free) and you can post material right away.

Three people will win one of these gifts: A 2010 Tall Ships Calendar by the renowned tall ship photographer Thad Koza, a belaying pin turned from wood that was part of the set for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and a 58-piece, 13-inch, 3-D lighthouse puzzle. The calendar and belaying pin are provided by the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, owner of the tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, whose calendar portraits appear in December and November, respectively.  I’ll award the prizes to randomly selected registered Fyddeye users on Feb. 17. Anyone who registers and writes at least one review by Feb. 17 will be eligible.

If you’d rather not register, but would still like to help, you can rate any Fyddeye listing one to five stars. Rate as many listings as you like. And please write to me at joe.follansbee@nullfyddeye.com and tell me what you think of Fyddeye.

 Thank you!”


Joe Follansbee
Fyddeye – Discover and share your maritime history:

Check Out the Cool Shirts!

This was one of the best Christmas holidays ever. I am so grateful for my immediate and extended family; they are such fun, thoughtful, and extremely amusing people. Christmas Eve at my parent’s could not have been improved upon, Christmas morning was full of surprises, and Christmas evening at my aunt and uncle’s was the perfect way to end it all.

I had to share this one thing. When I checked my Facebook account yesterday, I saw that my fellow fishing-wife-and-mother, Maria, had posted a picture of the shirt she got her husband. Here it is:

Maria's shirt for Corey

I couldn’t believe my eyes, because check out the shirt I got for George:

Jen's shirt for George

As Maria stated, great minds must think alike! :-)

Enjoy what’s left of the Christmas holiday. Have a great day-after-Christmas!

Merry Christmas

My favorite part about Christmas is actually Christmas Eve. We get together with my family every single year and have the best time eating dinner and socializing, and then opening presents in the living room. I have been ready to go for about two days now after spending six solid hours wrapping presents for everyone earlier this week. All of my online orders arrived on time (thank goodness) and I’m pretty happy with the way everything turned out, especially the calendars that I make every year. I think this year’s edition is my best effort yet.

As I’ve said before, the build-up to Christmas is actually my favorite part about the holiday season. It’s fun attending the parties, listening to Christmas music, and thinking about what to get everyone. When it’s all over on Christmas morning, I feel a little bummed.  The fact that George always leaves the day after Chrismas to go fishing kind of puts a looming damper on things, too.

Speaking of which, George has gone back into “The Zone” right before our very eyes! That’s what the kids and I call his transition from “Play Daddy” to “Work Daddy.” There is a pretty solid distinction between the two. We had the very best couple of months off together, but it’s clear when George makes the switch. I feel for him. He can’t be Play Daddy when he’s got the weight of the Dungeness crab season, taxes, and the upcoming longline season on his shoulders. And of course, without Work Daddy, there would be no Play Daddy!

I hope you are enjoying the design changes on Highliners & Homecomings. It has been fun attempting to learn CSS and experimenting with color changes, borders, and font. I’m still waiting for the book I ordered on CSS to arrive so I can see what else I might be able to do.  

I also hope that you have a wonderful holiday. This is the first year that Eva understands about Christmas or Santa, so I know it will be extra-exciting for everyone. In fact, it’s only been in the last month that she’s started to put it all together. I thought it was adorable when her ballet teacher asked what she wanted from Santa, and Eva just followed what the other girls answered and quietly said “….toys?”

It was also cute on her birthday this year when for the first time, I asked her to make a wish before blowing out the candles on her birthday cupcakes. She didn’t quite understand what that was about, but she said “….I wish to blow out the candles?”

Merry Christmas and happy holidays. Cheers!