Christmas Eve 2016

25 12 2016

I made a promise a few days ago. It was made in a fish truck, sitting next to a commercial fisherman, my ex-husband.

Plans were being made for how the kids would spend Christmas Eve this year. Our son was to have visitation with his dad. The kid has been struggling some. Divorce is damn tough on kids. This is the first Christmas since the divorce this past Spring.

I am no longer involved in the fishing industry. I still dream about fishing. The F/V Saint Jude is in a port now not far from where I live. My son spent some time aboard her in the past few days. His bearing changed some, his dad and I agreed. He held his head higher. The Saint Jude can be cramped in Winter months tied to the boards in the off-season. For our son, though, she is still a home. Part of his essence.

How can hearts mend after a divorce?

Centering the needs of the kids. A good start.

Remembering the good times. Weathering the hard times.

The kids are with  their dad this Christmas Eve and I am in the home I have lived in for nearly 30 years. Christmas lights bring comfort. The twinklers reminiscent of Christmases long ago, some in Neah Bay at the Peters Neah Bay Fishing Resort.

A green and red light show dances across the ceiling, new mixed with old.

An old spiral-bound notebook journal. As promised, here is a transcribed entry  for the father of my children:

Aug. 9  [1993] – ” … We came to Cross Sound and spotted Wally Warm trolling in the middle in the wind. Remembered our mistake of running by him years before in front of Lituya. He got ’em good that trip. Anyway, to make up for the mistakes, we dropped in. Fish right off the bat. Not big but fish. Got about 70 from 3:00 PM ’til dark. The only other boat is the small “White Cap” working the little bank outside. We debate on running trip into Pelican that night. We need to pitch…Start running into Pelican but too dark. Eyes are tired…We anchor in Mite Cove. Slip into town in the morning. Second boat to unload. Big fleet tied to the boards.”

Peace.

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The Bridge

10 06 2016

The morning started early. Birds chirping. Early enough for a cup of instant coffee in bed, contemplating a blank blue wall.

A bacon and egg breakfast later, with my son, was when I noticed the back door of the mini-van was open. The day before, mysterious stinky liquid had partially escaped from a black garbage sack sometime during a dump run. Clean-up commenced in early evening. That was when the away-at-college daughter called. With a lot to talk about.

That evening was one of juggling the phone and cooking some supper for the boy. Tales were told and then a ride was given to a college mate so there was time to serve supper to my son. The phone rang again and eventually little brother went to bed. Giving way to the needs of his big sister. For the time.

Then it was dark. The mini-van forgotten about. The daughter had a lot to talk about. It all mattered.

Stinky garbage liquid had a lot of time to air. The van had to be checked to make sure the battery was still charged. The back tailgate door needed to be closed.

That was when the Erma Bombeck moment occurred.

In the grey, misty,  morning light, an orange tabby cat bolted out of the back of the  van. The odor of cat pee left behind.

Ironic. The daughter had been asking, the evening before,  about the feasibility of taking her cat to college the following school year.

Yes! Please.

The battery had held its charge and son was dropped off at school. Cat pee odor a companion. Oddly, the return back to the house was not straight-forward. The mini-van went by some houses with for sale signs and eventually back West toward the river.

The daughter’s conversation the night before replaying in memory. Demanding thought.

Rich.

A walk on the bridge. Thoughts of a black lab waiting for attention back at home. Then, the water. A Northwest blue, grey, green. Snow melting somewhere at higher elevation filling the veins of the riverbed.

A memory of walking hand in hand with a small red-headed girl and showing her how to cross a log bridge. Encouraging her to trust.

A memory of a young man named Colin Hiday. Attending college with his mother. Beginning a path of learning about the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, strong people, with her. Beginning to understand what the word “Respect” really means, from a tribal elder.

Signs in the area and knowledge Colin Hiday and his crew did the concrete work on the new bridge. The compass rose is admired until the ring of a bike bell from behind.

On the dirt path to the water’s edge, are deer hoof prints. Fresh.

The route is retraced back to the mini-van. Along the way, an epiphany that job hunting has been gone about wrong.

It needed to start with something else. Reading. About Blue Herons. Much homework to be done. The voice of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribal elder reverberating, in that moment, on the bridge.

Overlapping,  memories of being near the home of the Makah Tribe, where my paternal grandparents once  lived. Very near the most Northwest tip of the United States. My daughter spoke of this place last night. The place at the mouth of the Sail River, looking out toward Seal Rock. The area surrounding calls her, as it has me.

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Listen.

A conversation with my son had happened that morning. Reassurance. Is what he needed. That calmness would prevail. Of course, it is not really practical to get angry at a cat for peeing in a vehicle. He does not know any better. It is not his fault. This is what the son heard.

The sun had warmed the interior of the van and the cat pee smell was stronger still. Home was about a mile away. Near the Northwest Raptor & Wildlife Center.

The bald eagle had been around a lot lately. Needing its friend Jaye for a quick meal and reassurance that all would be okay.

The mini-van would be cleaned. The carved paddle, painted and signed by a Makah artist, would be brought downstairs from the bedroom with the blue painted, blank wall.

All will be okay.

Listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





It’s Not About The Fish (It Is About Knowing When To Let Go)

6 11 2015

In the end, fishing is not about the fish. Not why there is a reason to fish.

Fishing is more about the struggle. Watch a silvery salmon leap out of the water as it fights to shake the lure, feel its strength pulling against every fiber. There is a thrill rippling through the body.

Fisherman and fish are connected.

The power of each telegraphs and the fisherman has to work to not force the matter.

Giving the fish play, not too much, lest the fish works slack in the line and slips the hook.

The goal, to land the fish. Conquer.

The tension is exquisite. Addictive. It is what keeps fishermen fishing.

Now and again, the best fishermen will release a fish back into the waters from which it came.  In commercial fishing, this practice is rare. The fish represents food on the table for the family.

An Alaska King Salmon.

An Alaska King Salmon.

The commercial fisherman that does this, relinquishes an occasional great fish. Sees the big picture. The future. While living in the present.

It is survival of the fittest.

Fighting to be released.

How does a fisherman know when it is time to let go? To release the prize catch back into the waters to swim up a home stream. Knowing there will be another day. Other fish. Other prizes.

When strength and courage prevail. When letting go means more than hanging on too tight. When fear of loss is mastered.

Master fishermen.

Supremely confident fishermen practice the releasing ritual sometimes without a single other soul knowing. Just the fisherman and the fish. A higher power, too, if the fisherman believes in such things.

In the end, is a new beginning. In the end, fishing is about surrender. Giving up what was, for what will be.





The Day

6 09 2015
Mother and daughter (at 8 months) aboard F/VSsaint Jude, Sitka, AK

Mother and daughter (at 9 months) aboard F/V Saint Jude, Sitka, AK

The day came.

The  twin mattress loaded, chosen clothing packed, kitchen ware, unassembled shelves, a few favored comfort items.

Pets. Each cat photographed. All four. They would be left behind.

Random hugs happened throughout the day. The day before, too, and the day before….

Little brother was late for school on The Day. For his English assignment, he was to write a little about himself. The evening before, he had a hard time focusing on all of his 6th Grade homework. In the morning, his sister helped him express his feelings, on paper, after the math assignment was done.

He wrote that he was sad.

He wrote that he he was sad because his sister was leaving for college and his dad was still fishing.

His sister went along for the ride, the one that took him to his school in the morning a mile from the family home.

Ferry reservations were made. For two vehicles.

Sunshine warmed the driveway, reflecting off the changing colors of the leaves on the Sunset maples. Green summer leaves giving way to reds, oranges and gold. Fall.

Change.

Inevitable.

Hard.

Necessary.

Feelings. So many. Memories. So many.

She is in her apartment now. Alone. Roommates have let their presence be known but are not there yet.

Texting. A phone call or two or more.

Tears. All around.

Little brother is back in the family home . Mom too.

The cats are confused.

It is quiet. An overcast day tinged with cool and a smattering of rain.

Her bedroom is as she left it. It had been hers since before she was born. Dolphin cut outs, still on the closet door, placed there by her mom just before she entered the world.

A college town, her new home.

New adventure awaited. She had assembled the shelves, on her own, with the new tool kit.

The tools her mother had made sure she had.

The tools she would need.

The tools for living life and continuing to grow.

It was the daughter’s work, now, to continue to figure out when and how to use them.

The mother wiped tears from her eyes.

Then typed, “I love you”.

For her firstborn. Her daughter.

Kendra college

For Kendra,

A reassurance. I think you will be okay. More than okay.

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm  – Publilius Syrus

You can hold the helm when seas are rough. I’ve seen you do it.

Love,

Mom





Troop 90

2 09 2015

I witnessed a miracle last night.

A rescue.

I took nearly no part, other than to witness.

Record.

Boy Scout Troop 90 was in danger.

No, the boys were not in a submerged bus under water. Nothing like that.

Yet, as a troop, they were at risk of being disbanded.

Current times are like that these days. Busy parents. Hard working care givers.

Who has the time to be a Scout Master?

Hard question.

How easy it was, to take for granted, the time and energy expended by the outgoing Scout Master. The bond he had with the boys of Troop 90 was apparent in the final prayer of the last time they would ever be together.

Tears.

Were the only thing that could emotionally express the final prayer. The boys had tears, the parents had tears, and the Scout Master had tears.

Such immense courage and strength,  for men to show tears.

Before that moment, parents and Boy Scout leaders had met in an adjacent room while the boys worked on their calendar of activities for the year.

Hard questions were asked. Who could step up and lead?

If no one could, then Troop 90 would be disbanded.

Troop 90, started in Sequim, WA in 1925. 90 years. What a shame that would be. If it were to no longer exist.

Scarf

Scarf

Before the evening would be over, on August 31, 2015, parents saved Troop 90. For their sons. For themselves. For their community.

One couple offered to be in charge of advancements. Two mothers took on another required role, verbally agreeing to share the responsibilities.

Then. A dad said, “I can do it. I can be a Scout Master”.

The people in the room applauded.

Another dad signed up to be an Assistant Scout Master. A U.S. Navy man.

And on it went. Critical roles were filled. Forms were filled.

Boy Scout Troop 90 was saved.

Boys and men cried that night. For more reasons than one. Strong males.

Strong women, mothers. There were daughters there, too. Families.

Leaders. All.

It takes great courage to change. To let go.

That is one of the final lessons that the outgoing Scout Master left with the members of Troop 90.

With gratitude to Karl Wood. My son will be a better man for having known you.





Attitude Is Everything (Change Is Good)

27 07 2015

Underwear. check

How easy it is to take underwear for granted. They sit in a pile in the drawer. Get used, laundered, and restocked in the drawer. Unless they start to get holes, they require no thought whatsoever.

It is a sort of comfort in the midst of a fast-paced and ever-changing world. That underwear practically take care of themselves.

I am a creature of habit. I have worn the same brand and style of underwear for the past 30 plus years. Jockey Elance bikini style.

I like the all cotton comfort.

It is the underwear issue that has me in a bit of a near panic in relation to a Universal Studios/Disney World trip I am going on this Summer.

Hot. Humid. Lots of walking. I’ve heard this is what to expect of theme parks in Orlando, Florida in August.

(and crowds)

The trip is a graduation gift for my daughter. A promise. It is also partly for me. I’ve had Epcot Center on my bucket list since grade school, before I knew what a bucket list was.

I am not much of a hot, humid, crowd kind of person. I do fiercely love my daughter and relish spending quality time with her in the theme parks. We collectively realized there would be no other time to travel to Orlando, Florida other than in summer. Too busy of schedules.

I started obsessively reading everything I could on how to pack for this trip.

Quick dry shorts. check.

Wicking tee shirts. check.

Moleskin. check.

Frog Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towels. check.

Wicking socks. check.

Underwear.

That one took awhile. Before it could be checked.

Cotton did not seem like a great idea. Not wicking enough.

Bras. Mine are fitted but, well, nothing special. Also, the ones I currently own get sweaty in hot weather.

Sigh.

Plane flights. check.

Hotel reservations. check.

Theme park tickets. check.

Underwear. What to do, what to do.

The irony is not lost on me that I have spent more than several hours looking for an adaptable wardrobe for our trip.

My closet contains basic Pacific Northwest clothing. Jeans, slacks, flannel shirts, cotton tee shirts, a few sweaters, a dress, skirt, a couple of blazers, a couple pairs of cotton shorts and some button downs. That is pretty much it.

I started reading about travel clothing.

Ex Officio.

The name kept popping up.

Based out of Seattle, the company seems to have underwear in nearly every outfitting catalog.

The aspect of washing underwear out in a sink appeals to me. Less stuff to pack. In my jungle cruising state of mind. The real deal is a distinct possibility in the future. I like adventure.

This theme park trip has encouraged me to take stock of my life.

It started with my attitude.

I am looking forward to spending time with my daughter. Her childhood is behind her. The set of Harry Potter books she received for Christmas one year is a fond memory. Listening to her reading some of them out loud to us when she was in grade school. The movies we watched. It helped shape this trip.

My mind goes back over the years, replaying the tape.

The Disney princesses. My daughter dressed in a Snow White costume playing with a friend in the back yard.

Identifying with Merida in “Brave”. Our family all has red hair, including my daughter.
I expect we will see Merida at Disney World.

I plan to be comfortable.

Clothes are important. Suffering is not cool.

So…the old cotton stand-by underwear are giving way to some new Ex Officios. The kind that can be rinsed out in a sink.

A couple of moisture wicking bras have also been ordered.

Quick drying athletic shoes will be broken in before the trip.

It will be kind of a new me.

The me of the future. The traveling me. The me that plans to visit New Orleans when the weather is less fiercely hot in that part of the country.

I am grateful for my wonderful daughter who, admittedly, has inspired me to get out of my comfort zone. Many times as she was growing up.

I find myself remembering watching her grow up.

There is always a little bit of pain, with change.

I look forward to the Hogwarts Express.

I hope we do the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Carribean. Watch the fireworks. Meet Princesses. Listen to Aerosmith on a roller coaster.

I plan to soak in every moment of this part of our lives.

Crowds. No sweat. I will be wearing moisture wicking clothing and keeping my cool.

Underwear. check.

Attitude. check.

Fun. check.

Living in the moment. check.

Watching my daughter get ready to leave for college. check.

Tears…check.





What I Would Do Differently (The Serenity Prayer)

19 07 2015

As a fisherman’s wife, I spent many days, weeks , months even, parenting at home with my spouse away.

It was okay. Mostly.

Here is what I would have done differently:

I would have hired a housekeeper. More. Often.

I would have gone to the lake. With the kids. While the housekeeper was cleaning. During summer months. Often.

I would have held BBQ’s in the backyard.

I would have visited people in recovery. More. Much more.

I would have written more letters. And sent them.

I would have camped out. With the kids. Under the stars. If I had needed help, I would have invited an adult friend.

I would have read more books.

I would have bicycled more.

I would have boated more.

I would have spent more time in nature.

I would have been less afraid of spending money. On myself.

I would have had more frequent eye appointments . Seen the dentist more too.

I would have joined support groups. Sooner.

I would have raised a vegetable garden.

I would have put photographs of my children up on walls. Many more.

I would have taken at least one photograph, every day.

I would have seen a massage therapist. More frequently.

I would have got my hair cut more frequently.

I would have bought the shoes I loved.

I would have been kinder to myself. And others.

I would have started a blog sooner. Or written more. Somehow. Somewhere. About something.

I would have expressed more gratitude when it was appropriate to do so.

I would have brushed the dogs and cats more often too.

I would have swam more.

I would have taken road trips. With just the kids.

I would have joined an exercise group. Maybe yoga.

I would have, could have, should have…is a pointless way to talk to myself.

I will.

I will start to do these things. And more.

I am starting to do these things.

Now. It’s not too late.

I will have more faith in The Serenity Prayer I had pinned on the bulletin board at the head of my bed when I was a teen-ager over 30 years ago:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference”.