Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Long Wait for Next Year's Catch

The best way to a fisherman's heart is through his fly.
Author Unknown

While trying to figure out what to do for a career, I’ve considered and eliminated many ideas including teaching high school. One other is crab fishing. Although the prospect of that venture fascinates me, reality tells me it shouldn’t be on my list. Reasons? Although I am a multi-tasker, I don't have the ability to withstand a douche by a 40 foot wave while smoking a cigarette, reeling in a 600 pound cage, and swearing in a gravelly voice.

With that in mind, I recall my honeymoon 31 years ago where my husband and I drove from Michigan to Astoria, Oregon and camped along the Pacific Coast highway down to Big Sur. Our first night, we ate at a local hangout for crab fishermen. Many talked about the fished out crab waters of Oregon, Washington, and Canada. How the Alaska waters now promised the crab. When they heard we were just married, a few laughed about how they could get married, head out to sea and by the time they got back, their wives had divorced them and married someone else. The life of the fisherman. They wished us luck.

That encounter must have stayed with me through the years. Last night, the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch completed another season of hauling in King Crab and Ophelias (Opelio. I stand corrected.) I am deeply saddened. No longer will I look forward to Tuesday nights. But I will continue to wonder why I'm hooked on Deadliest Catch and marvel at those who pursue that adventure I don't have the, uh, guts for.

I'd be yakking over the side or lying on the floor of the head more than I'd be sorting the day's catch. Hating the cold, I'd spend hours chopping ice off the ship with snow sleeting in my eyes and waves rushing into the rain suit that covers my body. My mind would certainly wander and I'd fall overboard, get my legs caught in ropes, or get squished by a flying crab pot, ending up in the wheelhouse getting my ass kicked by the crusty ship captain. Tears would not help.

The sea captains are all gruff men who smoke 35 packs of cigarettes a day, bite off the head of a fish to welcome the new season, and swear like a bunch of, well, sailors.

So what’s the attraction? Something about watching that crab catching cage come up over the side of the boat and discovering whether any new inhabitants have joined the bait is an exciting event. Or watching the boats maneuver through the slates of ice or 40 foot waves. I suppose it's a thrill I can experience and not have to worry about suffering any of the consequences. Including having to live with the smell.

Until next April, I’ll watch the reruns and wonder if any of those deckhands are returning to wives married to someone else. Also, if someone can figure out why it fascinates me to vicariously travel with this bunch of wild hooligans and not tire of it, please let me know. Now, back to dusting and crossing off careers. Hmmm.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Musing the Morning Away

In summer, the song sings itself.
William Carlos Williams

Saturday morning. Alone at the lake. I'm sitting on the porch facing the water. In the morning, we have the shade and despite the heat that may lurk out there, I am cool. Still in my pajamas, I survey the theater before me. A cicada whines. A lone lawnmower completes its circuit. Boats, that have been out for hours trying to find the gentle waters before the influx of many pleasure seekers, intermittently parade by the cabin. I've brought my bird out to sit beside me in his cage. Birdie likes it out here, productively tweeting with those who harbor in the nearby branches.

In a few hours, my husband will arrive. Then a couple of friends. My boys are dispersed throughout the country. The youngest in New Orleans for a National Youth Gathering, the middle one at work with the baby deer in south Texas, the oldest in Colorado with his fiance's family. Soon I will move from my perch to the dock. To my hammock, to get in the last few moments of alone time I seem to crave, perhaps too much.

The beauty of this morning is not lost on me. The sky is clear, not a cloud in sight. The waves of the boats are lapping against the break wall and even though the roar of a passing boat dares to disturb my peace, I excuse the noise that will pass with the moving motor.

I love the month of July. As a kid, it meant vacation and a complete month where no school bells interfered with the day. Now, a complete month where I disregard the norm of the year and make new rules for how my time is spent. Often not very productively, but that assessment may live in the mind of the one creating their own rules of productivity. I try not to let it linger in mine.

A Saturday in July - summer at its best. A deep breath. I set aside the things happening in my personal world, and the country and world at large, that upset me. For the day.

I've added some chairs to the porch. Come sit for a spell. Enjoy the view.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Can I Still Wear White?

Just around the corner in every woman's mind - is a lovely dress, a wonderful suit, or entire costume which will make an enchanting new creature of her.
Wilhela Cushman

All this wedding talk around my house reminds me of something I've asked my friends for years - Wouldn't it be fun to try on wedding dresses? Just for something different, I add as they look at me like I have holes in my head. Truly, though, wouldn't it be fun? I'm sure bridal wear proprietors wouldn't mind a gaggle of old women, primed from their margarita lunch, invading their store to pretend they can still pull off wearing white.

Maybe they offer a magic mirror that proffers the body and skin from way back when. And the energy.

While searching the wedding sites to study the groom's mother responsibilities, I wandered down different avenues in the wedding journey. The life of the groom's mother is fairly boring in the wedding map and one night I found myself segueing to a wedding dress site. I've often wondered what style I might choose for myself with tastes of a 52 year old woman. Today, I want the one pictured above.

I found the beauty on the Priscilla of Boston wedding dress site. (I doubt they'll mind me advertising for them.)When you click on the dresses, the model walks down the runway. Since I was dreaming, I only chose those over $5000. I had the most fun and killed at least a couple of hours.

Of course, I want it all - the youth, the body that comes with the model in the dress. Especially the long gloves that bring on the elegance. Okay, so I want to feel enchanted, without all the nerves of a wedding day. I can still imagine, can't I?

Looking at my wedding pictures, my dress has the definite stamp of the late 70's.

Here I'm dancing with my proud dad.

And standing here with my sweetie, ready for the party part to begin.

In August, 31 years have passed since I walked down the aisle. A gentleness of excitement existed at that time -- the advent of a new adventure. Uncertainty and wonder at what the choices made might bring. Oh, what a ride it has been -- and continues each day.

Thirty years ago I had my wedding dress cleaned and packaged in a box for posterity. I think that box occupies the back of the closet underneath the stairs. What was the purpose of preserving it in such a manner? I have no daughter who might want to wear it. I couldn't get my left arm in the Size 5 dress today. But stuffed in the closet doesn't seem fitting either.

One year at a Halloween party, my friend wore her wedding gown from her first marriage. That she could still get into it 20 years later impressed the hell out of me. Impressed me more that she pinned "dead" worms on it and smeared dirt on her face and the dress. Made herself look just like a bride from the grave. Oh, Halloween. Brings out the best of us, doesn't it? I believe I went as a pig - a costume I'd made for my husband years earlier. Died pink long underwear with ten baby bottle nipples inserted on the front, a cute pig nose, and pink pipe cleaner twirling from my tail.

I digress.

The point was, maybe I should dig my wedding dress out of the depths of the closet, take a look at it. Spread it out on the couch. Trace the lace between my hands. I won't pin dead worms to it or smudge garden dirt anywhere (although some days I might feel like that.) Perhaps I'll just gaze at it and recall the day when promises were made with love in our hearts and eyes -- and hope for another 31 years of life together.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lost in the Forest

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.

A.A. Milne

While blogging seriously (as opposed to aimless meandering) I respond to comments, read the entries of those I follow, and make as witty or understanding a comment as I can muster. Every time I think I'm ahead of the game, I check my blog rolls and discover not just one of you, but most of you, have already posted a new essay. When do you people pee?

My organizational skills are challenged. I'm never first in line with a new post for more than a few seconds. I can't keep up with the comments. But the twining road through the forest of blog magnetism doesn't have a definite path. I find walking deeper into the forest without a compass quite enjoyable.

I'm becoming a blog slut. I want to follow everyone. From the farms in Iowa to fellow writers and avid book readers, travelers, idea gatherers, and the world's vast cultures and intricacies, if only... if only this wasn't such a good way to entertain myself and learn about the world.

Probably not the best thing for all the writing I'm not producing, the books I'm not reading, or my future ventures in life that I struggle to pinpoint. Finding a path out of the forest to occasionally view the sky or find a road is definitely a necessary endeavor. I so hate reality. But how else will I find my way back into the woods?

Alas, from the sunshine on my face from the open sky, a belated thank you to Missy at Missy's Book Nook for awarding me the Humane Award. I am humbly honored.

"The Humane Award is in order to honor certain bloggers that I feel are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn’t for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendships through the blog world.”

If you're seeking a good book, Missy has the latest on what's out there to satisfy your reading tastes. She posts every day and must read 5000 words a minute. Also, authors - she is happy to review your book. Check out her site, and Missy? I'm thinking your organizational skills are NOT wandering aimlessly in the forest.

To award this to my favorite bloggers? Can't do it. I'd be all over the world, for days, choosing. Please take this lovely award and pass it on to your favorite readers and followers.

See y'all in the forest.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ball Game and Other Vacation Tales

There is probably no more obnoxious class of citizen, taken end for end, than the returning vacationist.
Robert Benchley

In order to entice the #3 son to attend a family wedding in Colorado, we threw in a bribe and added a Colorado Rockies game. That it was the only game the Rockies lost in a 17 game run escaped our mind as we saw the Tampa Bay Devil Rays make 10 home runs. Most pleasant experience in Denver - riding the train down to the old Union Station and the ballpark. (I could not believe how Denver had grown since we moved away in 1984.) One dollar hot dog night. Tornado Watch in place as we eyed the ominous clouds that only rain-delayed us 40 minutes. Great fun.

Click on the pictures to get a better view of the stormy sky.

You can take the girl away from the lake, but she'll always find another one. Here is where we rented a cabin with my husband's brother and his family.

Columbine Lake in Grand Lake. The other edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, as opposed to Estes Park.

So peaceful down on that dock. No motors allowed on this lake -- only kayaks, canoes, paddleboats and me, with my book and journal.

This is the three of us (the older two sons working and not able to attend) dressed up for the wedding. Please notice I have my gut sucked in along with wearing one of those seal-it-all-in-there garments. I don't think it worked.

The bridal party oblivious to the falling rain and the umbrellas overhead - as it should be.

The lovely centerpieces and flower bouquets - limes, lemons, gerbera daisies, roses, pittosporum, and maiden hair ferns. Other untaken photos of the trip? The bride, my niece, absolutely beautiful. She met her beau while nurse interning at the Mayo Clinic. The groom -- a genuinely nice young man with a Minnesota accent (I had no trouble remembering mine and communicating with the throng of family and friends that ventured to the mountains of Colorado. Oh, to go Bohting in Minnesota) My sister-in-law and her groom of 30 years ready for a vacation to anywhere after putting on a wedding. But, then, there was Uncle Dave...

with whom I plug my ears as I'm never quite sure just what he is teaching my boys.

Happy Summer Everybody and Happy Birthday July 13 to Uncle Dave. (You are older than me, you old fart - like for another 30 days)

Can you believe I didn't get a good picture of the bride? I so need a new camera.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Babies are always more trouble than you thought - and more wonderful.
Charles Osgood

We traveled to see Son #2 last week at his internship in south Texas. We found the Wildlife Management boy mired in 17 baby deer. I don't recall ever having such a sweet experience. Finding myself surrounded by these 2-3 day old beautiful creatures brought on a love of young life I hadn't felt in some time.

Each had its own distinctive face. Personalities emerged as they found their legs and kicked their heels to play with the resident dog, a dachshund, eager to spend his days making sure everything ran correctly. Most fun dog.

Oh, yes. This is what's left of the first rattlesnake Jordan had to kill (head and rattles removed before the big gut and stretch.) I wasn't quite so keen on seeing that worthless sucker, but preferred him stretched out on a board to side-winding beside me.

One of those sweet faces warmed up to me. I was thrilled. Even got to bottle feed the babe and dot its butt with toilet paper while it peed. (Apparently mothers in the wild do that to ensure no scent is left for predators. Hence, my Jordan is its mother.)

He was saying they are not quite learning how to do that themselves even though for some of the babies, it is time. I reminded him the greatest gift a parent can give is to instill independence. I think he is on that task now.

I was thankful to discover these beauties will be sold for breeding purposes only and not for deer hunting forays. Three hours with them was fun. I'm thinking Jordan - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, will be glad for a day off come August. So internships go. After the south Texas heat, I'm thinking he'll also be ready for Flagstaff weather - and his senior year.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer Book Reading - Reviews, Sort of

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread.
François Mauriac

Okay, so I know the two books listed in my current read file were not on the Summer Reading List I sent out. What can I say? I'm a book whore. I needed something to read while floating. Hence, the Janet Evanovich. $4.49 at Costco, and I don't have to worry about getting a borrowed or library book wet. And to the other, well it was just sitting on the book table and flashing in my eyes like a neon light. I had to buy it.

I have a question for the readers out there. How often do you re-read a favorite book? My mom had a neighbor who read Gone With the Wind every summer. I always seem to be on this track to conquer all the books out there, but I'm contemplating doing something different. Your feelings?

Meanwhile, here's my thoughts on three I've read that were on my list.

Ella Minnow Pea
a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable-Mark Dunn (Recommend)
Quick read. Smart, different. If you love words, just imagine if certain letters were removed from our grasp. Imagine the havoc that might reign if say, the letter "J" no longer existed. My name would be "ulie". There would be no more junk or jelly or jello or jute or jolly jerks joking.

Dunn's book is a refreshing change and a much higher level can be read into the plot--how people in power can change and manipulate a society right into the ground. At the same time, this epistological manuscript has a light-hearted approach and a saving day. Fun read.

Escape - Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer (Interesting diversion)

With the recent news last year of the raid on the FLDS church compound in Texas, this timely read of a woman, her eight children, and their escape from a life in polygamy truly grips your heart. Makes us realize how many women in this world have not only not been liberated, but still live in a dark hole (and don't have a clue.) Interesting insight into the workings of this male dominated society conducted by fear. Quick read. Starts out slow, but hooks you by the middle.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Recommend)

Floors me how writers can take a place foreign to them and make themselves feel so comfortable in it that the reader follows suit. Such is the case with this book that takes us to the Channel Islands. Again, written in epistolary form, this book offers communique between the fragile leftover beings after World War 2. Everyone has a tale of the horrors of the war, but this book begins while putting the pieces of lives together after the devastation and loss. One can almost smell the air on Guernsey as our authors take us through the old fashioned art of letter writing to connect heart and lost souls. Predictable, but acceptable as the characters are likable.

Read on, read on!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Defining Stage Right

You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.

Pearl S. Buck

I have utilized the word Midlife in my blog handle even though I’ve never truly thought of myself as middle-aged. As I flirt with menopause, and the diet and exercise I exert don’t seem to send me to the lower size rack at the department store, my mind seems the same as when I was 28.

Each step of my children’s lives – from the morning I pushed them out of my womb to the afternoon I dropped them at the doors of the high school or college - have served to hit me square in the face that I'm getting older. I’ve not paid attention. Until now.

A few Friday nights ago at the lake, my oldest son Jacob, and his girlfriend, Chelsea, found me huddled in bed with a book. My husband came in and we all talked about this and that. Out of the blue, Jacob said, “I asked Chelsea to marry me tonight.”

That they wanted to share this significant moment on THE NIGHT made both my husband and I cry. That they have adored each other since junior year of high school, throughout college and beyond only made the next step logical and timely. Not to mention romantic. We toasted with the little red wine we had left in the house and sat on the bed talking for another hour or more.

Despite knowing the happiness and the significance of the moment, I couldn’t help the ache rising in my heart. An ache I didn’t quite understand.

The next day, I plopped my middle-aged ass in the hammock and hammered out my thoughts into my journal.

I was more than angry with myself. I banged at the frustration that I always slow down and take a side step, with a pang of puzzlement, to figure out what everything means. Then my mind clicked. My ache didn't exist because my son was getting married, rather because he couldn’t get married and begin a life with someone other than his dad and me. He was only born last week.

I lived my youth, got an education, a vocation, a partner, had children, bought a house, made 100’s of meals, and then before I knew it, my children grew taller than me. The growing passed so quickly. So quietly. Life seemed so easily defined and, now, I no longer know where I'm heading.

No longer am I at the front of the stage. The curtain isn't closing in front of me. Maybe just a fine sheath of mist before me from where I will watch the next generation, and exit stage right to do whatever comes next. It's not like I no longer have a part. It's just not a starring role - in that role. Does that make any sense?

Oh, how I hate all this redefinition.

This one's easy, though. Mother of the groom? Wear beige and keep my mouth shut. Right?

We love Chelsea. She knows all our faults and still likes us. With great love, our family offers a wide open stage.

I love thee, I love but thee
With a love that shall not die
Till the sun grows cold,
And the stars grow old...

William Shakespeare


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