Back to the Real World

Well, this is interesting. It’s been almost two years since I started this blog, and I only just realized I had color options for font. This is good news. Now, I just wish I had options for the font itself.

There has not been much to report of late. We took our annual family vacation, which also included our wedding anniversary and my attendance at the Jazzercise Instructor District Meeting.

It has been three years exactly since I got certified to teach Jazzercise, and I’ve only grown to enjoy teaching more and more as the years have gone by.

This is not to say it has always gone perfectly; it most certainly has not. It is hard working with so many strong personalities, varying lifestyles and values, and management styles. I’ve been surprised on occasion how thoughtless people can be. I’ve also been appreciative of how understanding people can be.

Fortunately, none of these ups and downs has ever dampened my joy in teaching. I love the music, my JazzerFriends, and the customers I get to laugh and work out with every day.

I’m posting a picture from our vacation. This is George and our 2-year old son, VincentWhen I look at this photograph and see the joy on my little boy’s face as he runs alongside his daddy, it warms my heart and makes me smile myself. 

 (p.s. I hope all the colors didn’t give you a headache reading this post :-))


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P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Excerpts Available!

I was thrilled when I discovered that my day to be the featured author for the about-to-be-released anthology had arrived!  The anthology, as you all know, is entitled:

P.S. What I Didn’t Say—Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends

Megan McMorris is the editor of the book. It has been an incredible experience watching and learning as she’s put her vast editing, writing, networking, marketing and countless other skills to work on this project. Each time I see press for the book or review its list of esteemed and award-winning writers, I am humbled and amazed to be included.

If you would like to read an excerpt from my story in the book, you can go here and scroll down until you see my name. Beneath my name is the excerpt from my story, True Blue, and my professional writer’s bio.

My “letter” is written to my best college friend, Wendy. I don’t think she has any idea that I’ve written a story about her and I’m deciding whether to mail her a copy. Won’t she be surprised!

If any of you have a letter you’d like to write to a female friend, you can write one and post it in the comments section of the official blog for the book. The first five gals to write in will receive autographed copies of the book when it is released! What a great opportunity. I can think of so many additional letters I could write. Letters of joy, love, hurt, misunderstanding, laughter, memories…give it a try. It’s fun!

I love writing, reading, and reading about writing. I am grateful for all of the editors who give–or have given–my work consideration and opportunity to be published. I’m a lucky writer gal.

Pick on Someone Your Own Size!

Last night, George walked into the kitchen. “I have something to tell you that will be a bit upsetting,” he announced.

It’s never good when someone starts a conversation quite like that. Of course, my thoughts went immediately to the well-being of my family. I decided not to “go there” quite so quickly, though, and asked instead about the boat.

“Did somebody quit?” I asked.

“Something happened on Toby’s walk yesterday,” George said. “I didn’t want to tell you.”

I was alarmed at once, because saying that something happened to Toby is no small thing. Toby is our six-year old pitbull. He started out as our six-week-old foster pup (named “Baby” by the foster program due to his shy, under-confident, scared manner).

Toby has grown into a beautiful, gentle, mild pitbull who was suddenly diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago. He had to have surgery to remove his eye. During surgery, the doctor placed a glass eye inside Toby’s empty socket before sewing it shut. (Some of you may remember me blogging about this in March of 2008.)

“He got punched in the head during the walk,” George said.

Yes, you read correctly.

Our beautiful Toby (and his border collie-mix sister, Mandy) was on a normal walk on a pleasant trail in a nice section of town with his walker and our dear friend, Lisa, when a drunken and aggressive bum came out of nowhere and sucker-punched Toby in his face and screamed obscenities at Lisa. Toby literally did not see it coming.

Let’s just say that this loser better not have caused our Toby to lose ground in his cancer treatment (which is based in large part upon building his confidence and joy, not having it KNOCKED out of him) or instigated a relapse.

This will be the last time anyone messes with us, our kids, or our furry kids. George is making sure of that as we speak!


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Jen’s Favorites of the Week

This past week has been filled with many things I’d consider my “favorite.” Of course, the safe return of the boat, captain, and crew from the SE Alaska salmon season qualifies as tops on the list. Here are some additional “things” from the past few days that I’m either grateful for or excited about…


  • Our Facebook group, Commercial Fishing Families & Friends, already has 81 members (come and join if you haven’t already!);


  • My efforts toward making George’s arrival from boat-to-home smooth and welcoming (after nearly a year of being at sea)  have so far gone as planned;


  • The Indigo Girls CD “Poseidon and the Bitter Bug.” Specifically, the song “Fleet of Hope“;


  • A sunny Saturday afternoon spent in Ballard eating a delicious lunch with the Schile cousins and cruising past the old haunts;



  • Making plans to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) during the month of November.


Have a great Labor Day weekend, everyone!

Welcome Home!!

Here is a small sampling of pictures from the Welcome Home party for the 2009 SE Alaska seine crew. Katie and I had a blast cleaning, preparing desserts, getting flowers and balloons, and putting together gift bags for Dad, George, Bryan, Brett, and Johnny.

It was no easy task while juggling five young children, but we did it.

One thing I appreciate about our crew is that we are like family. We can tease, bicker, laugh, love, forgive, and otherwise operate like any other family. I feel lucky every day that I am a part of such a first-class operation. 

I hope we all enjoy a nice break after an entire year of grinding away at three different seasons. Thanks to all the guys for working so hard to provide for their families. Your work is valued and appreciated by all.



New Facebook Group: Commercial Fishing Family & Friends

About a year ago, I was pushing my then two-year old Eva on a swing at the park. As it happened, there was a guy about my age also pushing a two-year old girl named Eva on a swing right next to me. I was wearing a dark green fleece vest with my family’s boat name and picture embroidered on the front.

“How are you connected to the Vis?” Karl asked as we pushed our two-year-old Evas.

“It’s our family boat,” I said. “My husband owns and runs it now, and my dad is the one who built it.”

Turns out, we had not only toddler daughters named Eva in common, but we also knew some of the same fishermen (Doug, Johnny, Bryan) and our boats were docked near each other in the local harbor.

Karl’s wife, Julie, soon came along to the park along with their 4-year-old daughter, Lilly. Of course, I also had my infant, Vincent. We had a great afternoon together, talking about fishing and the life of fishing families.

Recently, Julie left a comment on my blog. It was a very interesting comment, and it got me thinking. Here it is in part:

“Thanks for the tip on writing through the season. I think that is a great idea! In fact, I have periodically thought that it would be so nice to have some kind of an online community set up just for fisherman’s wives.

It could include gals from all over the country or even all over the world! It would be so wonderful to have a place to go to connect with other people who are going through a similar situation. It could be with tips for parenting without your husband there, and on adjusting to having the sailor leave at the beginning and come home at the end of the seasons.

Since the fishing lifestyle is so unique, I find that it is often hard for those outside of its culture to truly understand. We need a community gathering place for fisherman’s wives! I however, am not so computer savy, so it may just be quite some time before I lauch anything of the sort. But I’ll keep daydreaming until it gnaws at my ear long enough to actually put something into action. Or until someone else does, whichever comes first.”

I got in contact with Julie and also spoke with Katie, Johnny’s wife. We decided to work as a team on creating the group, and to open it up to all fishing family fishing members and friends, as well as those who support our industry even if they are not directly involved.

I’m happy to announce that our new group is on Facebook, and it is called Commercial Fishing Families & Friends.

Come over and join us! We’ll be posting pictures, having discussions, offering suggestions, and communicating about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the fantastic that make up the life of the commercial fishing family.

See you over there!

The Fishing Families Getaway Has Arrived

The good news is that my laptop is back at home where it belongs.

Last weekend, the hard drive suddenly crashed. I took my two-year old laptop to the computer doctor, who informed me that the hard drive was disintegrating faster than anything could be saved. I had a few things backed up on a jump drive, but only a few. I said goodbye to many documents, stories, pictures, and 400 songs from my Jazzercise iTunes library (which I did manage to bring back, thank goodness!).

After I dropped the laptop off at the shop, I called to find out the status on my extended warranty. On August 4th, I was informed that the warranty had expired on July 14. Not only did I miss saving $340 by just two weeks, the warranty people said there was not a thing they could or would do for me. Nice!

Oh well. The good thing is the laptop is back in my walk-in closet at long last and works better than ever.

I’ve spent the last two days getting the little ones and me ready for our first annual Commercial Fishermens’ Wives and Childrens Getaway. It’s a trial run. Wish us luck! We’ll need it with a beach house-full of 2 and 3-year olds!

In other exciting news, the website/blog is now up for the new anthology, P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to our Female Friends, in which I have a personal essay. The book is set for release this fall, with a bookstore tour of readings to follow. I haven’t been on a bookstore tour in five seven years, so I’m excited to get out there again.

I’m still thrilled that my “Letter”, which is about the kindness my best college friend showed me after I was unceremoniously dumped by my boyfriend, was accepted along with the Letters of 35 other professional writers and editors.

You can check out the list of contributors and bios here. The anthology is the work of its esteemed editor, sassy gal Megan McMorris (Self, Fitness, Glamour, Parents, Shape), who has authored and edited several other books. I’ve enjoyed the enthusiasm, professionalism, and organization she’s put towards her contributors and the whole project.

See you all after the fishing families break! And good luck to our fishermen as they head into the peak of the salmon season. Can’t wait to see you guys also in a few weeks!!

Jen’s Favorites of the Week

The last couple of weeks were hit-and-miss. You all know that my two-year old, Vincent, caused a small fire in our microwave while cooking a checkbook and blue ballpoint pen. 

Then, my two-year old laptop computer crashed suddenly (two months after the extended warranty expired, of course).

And the gravest tragedy of all; the son and brother of longtime fishing family friends was murdered less than 24 hours after he returned home (for a temporary visit) from the fishing grounds of Northern Alaska.

I just attended the funeral of this man’s father last spring, along with my own dad and several commercial fishing captains and boat builders. I never imagined on that day, as I looked over at the two sons, that I’d be attending one of their own funerals just three months later.

To counter the sadness, here are my Favorite of the Week:

  1. Vincent’s 2nd Birthday Party;
  2. Going to work on a new story for National Fisherman magazine;
  3. My sister and brother-in-law (Steph and Ryan) celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary;
  4. George sounding happy each time he calls from Southeast Alaska (where the weather is 80 degrees and sunny!);
  5. Teaching Jazzercise in not one, but two positive and cheerful locations.

Love to all my family and friends. Here’s to the new month of August and to good and safe commercial fishing.

Happy Birthday, Vincent…and Thanks Again!

Some of you may remember the excitement that occurred last year about a day before Vincent’s first birthday. Vincent had gotten to one of the cordless phones around the house and held it up to his ear as any young toddler might do. Unfortunately for George and me, Vincent dialed 9-1-1 in the process. When I realized what Vincent had done, I quickly grabbed the phone and hung it up.

Well, good ole’ 9-1-1 called me right back. And I got the impression that they did not believe me when I said that “everything was fine” at the house.  When I hung up, I turned to George.

“You know they’re coming, right?”

“Probably so,” he grimly replied.

Yikes. Next, we had to suffer the humiliation of a cop appearing at our door, about which my conservative and law-abiding George was not pleased in the least (to put it mildly)!

Well, it appears that Vincent couldn’t let his second birthday pass by without some type of excitement, either.

I was only absent from the kitchen for about ten seconds this morning when I returned to find that Vincent had placed my checkbook and blue ballpoint pen inside the microwave to “cook”. I smelled something terrible. After a quick look around, I opened the microwave to find a blown-up blue WECU pen, a burned up Snoopy checkbook cover, a glass microwave plate shattered in pieces, and the whole thing covered in black soot…and still smoking. 

Two thoughts occurred to me: 

  1. Thank God this didn’t blow up in Vincent’s beautiful face, and;
  2. I guess the orange highlighter pen and cap I found melted the day before in the toaster should have been my warning.

Happy Second Birthday, Vincent. You are our second miracle and absolute blessing. We love you so incredibly much.

(And…thanks again! Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next year…I think.)

That Alarming Phone Call…

My phone rang at 7:00 this morning (Sunday). I thought it was one of the children of a good friend playing with her cell phone, so I let the call go. At 8:00 a.m., my phone rang again.

This time, I answered it.

I can’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say, it was the wife of one of George’s crewmembers calling to inform me that another wife had been in  serious accident the night before, and everyone was trying to reach our boat out on the fishing grounds of SE Alaska.

The Coast Guard had been called, text messages were typed, voice mails were left, e-mails were written, the satellite phone was dialed.

Regardless, we could reach absolutely nobody. As my oldest sister, Cassandra, pointed out, “Isn’t it amazing that with all of this modern technology, when there is an emergency, nobody can reach ANYONE?”

This is the scary thing about commercial fishing. You pray for the men on deck, but at the same time, those of us at home need prayers, too. This is not an easy way to live and although it definitely has its rewards, days like these are what keep commercial fishing families bonded and united….and on edge. 

My best to our good friends, and of course, we are all here to help any way that we can. Love to you all!