Thankfulness and Gratitude, Weighed and Found Wanting

scale

I’ve been arguing with myself for days now. I’m worn out, frankly. On top of that, my Thankful-O-Meter appears to be not in working order….and that is just not a good thing. It’s Thankful time, for goodness sakes! One look at Facebook and it’s clear that every other single human on the planet has a numbered list for each and every single thing that they are eternally grateful for and they probably go around smiling and singing along with the birds outside their kitchen windows whilst preparing a healthy meal for their cherubic children each morning. So, comparatively speaking my fussy lack of thankful-ness and crappy toaster waffles are seriously not cutting it. And for the record, those dang birds are super irritating with their non-stop chirp, chirp, chirping.

Anyway, back to my internal argument. I have it every single year, which tells you just how well I learn lessons. But alas, here I am again… fussing with myself on how I should handle Thanksgiving.

Chris starts Swordfish season each fall and is done by Jan 15. That gives us, depending on his start day, somewhere around 14 weeks to make all the magic happen. For you new readers, this is when the guys go offshore for 5-12 days/nights at a time. So they are gone from home. Like, all the time. Also, this is a very important time of year for us, as a bit over 70% of our annual income comes from these fishing efforts. Our financial well being, very much depends on those (give or take) 14 weeks. This year, God Bless Us All, we didn’t start our season until about 5 weeks later than usual. We have had generator complications, computer malfunctions, a non-cooperative moon phase and weather pattern, all of which apparently did NOT get the memo that we needed to go out onto the sea and make a living. So, yeah. We are all on edge, here.

Finally, he is out there fishing his big ‘ol heart out. They are doing a nice job of it, too. BUT (and isn’t there always a but?) it’s Thanksgiving time now. Several members of our family live up North in the Bay Area. This year, My sister’s very kind neighbor will be out of town and has generously offered to let us stay at her house for the week. What a sweet thing! What a great chance for the cousins to spend time together playing and for my to catch up with my sisters and Mom! Eeeee! My kids are soooooo excited. But, Houston ~ we have a problem. Fishermen do not, ever, take an entire week off of work during their big season. So I’ve been arguing with myself (and the weather reports – because that’s super logical) for way too long. How do we do Thanksgiving when we don’t know where Chris will be? Do I insist he not go fishing? Not reasonable, a total rookie Fisherman’s Wife mistake that I am thankfully well beyond. He could meet us up there? So he’d work night and day, then he’d spend his 12 hours of his 30 hours total of ‘not fishing time, due to windy weather’, driving to and from SF. Then, go right back to work. Totally not cool. Last option: He could fish, come home to empty house and be all alone ~ while I will be left feeling like the Queen of Heartlessness leaving him behind to slave away while we go off and frolic about without a care in the world, feasting on Turkey and Pumpkin Pie. Really?

So I’ve been arguing with myself (and the weather reports – because that’s super logical) for way too long.

I know that this lack of Thankfulness and Gratitude is totally wrong on many, many levels. So, in my infinite wisdom I decided that I should go over all of these details with Chris to get his input. I’m not always the most annoying wife in the world, but when I am I really do it up right! The guys literally just pulled into the Harbor. They’ve been fishing for several days (and nights) and are wiped out and stinky and really want to shower, eat and sleep. They have several hours left of work to do in unloading fish, and scrubbing the deck before they can call it a day. So…. sweetheart that I am, I dragged all the kids and dog and myself down to ‘watch them unload’. This is common enough when he needs me to help with fish counts or picking up fish or whatever. But this time, he didn’t arrange for that. So, we just… showed up. Now, Chris knows from experience that when I do this, I am either 1. Announcing that I am pregnant again (which I am not, by the way) or 2. I have something on my mind I really need to talk about and I feel like it can’t wait. Luckily, we’ve been married long enough that he knows this very well about me. And, luckily he is swift enough to shut me down quickly when I start rambling about stuff that is actually a way smaller thing than I have blown it up to be in my head. So, upon our sort of unexpected arrival at the dock, with a quickly negated ‘you aren’t knocked up again, are you?’ look, I think he realized right away that I was internally freaking out. The kids said a quick hello, we signed some fish paperwork, and I started to tumble out the beginnings of my woes. Chris knew what to do. He sent me home. He asked me to start the fire, and warm up the stew. Within 30 minutes his loud ‘I’m home!’ was sounding through the kitchen. The rest of the offloading and the nasty deck could wait. We heard about the fishing trip over hot beef stew and crusty bread. I did what other people can’t stand, and clicked on the Pandora Christmas music (I know, most people can wait…. I CANNOT) and then with the kids happily Lego-ing upstairs, I started my ranting. I only got a few moments into it. Chris expertly took charge and with clear, no-I’m-not-just-saying-this-to-make-you-feel-better-words, he let me know that I would be keeping my plans with the kids, if the weather changed and he could go with us he would, and if he ended up spending those 30 hours in his comfortable home, with not a whiff of fish around, where he could shower and sleep in his own big bed and watch man TV, he’d consider it an early Christmas gift.

That’s what I needed. Just to know it was all going to be OK, and to be reminded that I am not personally in charge of the wind blowing (yes, I forget that sometimes). For this man, and his clear thinking, and his ability to just be plain honest about it all, I am very, very Thankful.

Here’s to a thanks-filled, relaxing Turkey day to all of us! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

What’s your favorite way to cheer yourself up?

halloween candy

Every time I sit to write this little post, I just kind of ramble on about whatever is happening in our lives at the time. I just did that and when I re-read it…. for the first time ever I deleted the whole thing. It was SO negative!

So… rather than be a total downer (& since I am not paying you all for therapy) I will just say this:

When husbands leave their families to go far away to work…. it sucks for everyone involved. And putting on a brave, strong face is exhausting.

So, I’ve decided to do what any sane Momma in my situation would do. I will let the kids finish off their Halloween candy for dinner (OK, I might help a little) and will allow them to play their iPads without the required time limit while I watch some shows on Netflix that I never get to watch because Chris is horrified by how they kill off your brain cells.

I probably won’t feel any better. But I’m hoping that the combo of the sugar rush and then the crash, along with the rampant screen time just might exhaust the kids and hurtle us all of into an early bedtime. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

What’s your favorite way to cheer yourself up?

#positivepostit day

#positivepostit

#positivepostit

I try to limit my time spent on Facebook (and then, the subsequent, random clicking around the interwebs) by getting up early-ish, and allowing myself to scroll and click around to my hearts content for as long as it takes me (within reason of course) to have coffee, a quick breakfast and check over my to-do list for the day. After that ~ it’s all business and no play, (depending on your idea of business/play of course) for me.

Yesterday, during my morning scan of all things FB news worthy, I came across a story about a young lady (16ish I believe) who had been bullied at school. Somebody had broken into her school locker, nabbed her iPad and posted a comment on the girl’s FB page telling her that she should kill herself. In response, this young lady decided to react in a positive way. She made 850 ‘positive post it notes’ and stuck them to the lockers of everyone in the school. Messages like…. You are beautiful, you are awesome were what the school kids found next day. And….., you guessed it, she got in trouble. Some of the post-its were found on the ground and the school reprimanded her for littering. Seriously. The good: people all over decided to support her and start this whole #positivepostit day… OK, I will not get into the obviously craziness of the school stuff here ~ but will instead get onto my point. Stick with me. Pour another cup of coffee if you need to, I’ll wait.

In my infinite wisdom, I decided this would be an excellent teaching moment to start off our school day. In my imagination, my children would be moved by this young lady and her bravery and wisdom and kindness and would be soooo inspired by all of this that they would then bury our neighborhood, our town and all that we know in beautiful, loving post-it notes and all would be amazing and super cool ~ with maybe even little birds singing and petals might be falling from the sky. Or, something very much like this, anyway.

Here is what actually happened: I gather all my little precious ones around the table, read the story aloud and look up expectantly into their sweet faces. What I see: my big boy ~ is now in the backyard, picking strawberries, totally oblivious that I was even addressing him at all. He thought I was just talking to myself. (OK…maybe that is a post for another time) I have no idea how he got out there, without my noticing. I was in post-it paradise, I suppose. My little guy ~ is curled up into a ball, on the hard tile floor, rolling back and forth. He informs me that he just ‘cut the cheese’ and wants to know if cutting the cheese is a positive thing or a negative thing. My sweet girl ~ is scribbling furiously, with about 14 zillion post it notes all scattered about, each with a sweet little note & a drawing, ready to ‘positive post’ the entire world! YESSSS!!! 1 out of 3!!! I will take that success!!!

At this point, there may have been some words that weren’t exactly ‘positive’ aimed toward my boys. OK, take 2! This time, they all sat at the table, post-its and pens going for it. Then, I hear, ‘Momma, does stinky have an e at the end, or is it y?’ Clearly… we are not getting the idea of what a ‘positive post-it’ means.

Miss Anna’s eyes met mine and we shared a moment that women/girls do… and agreed that we weren’t admitting defeat, just putting off the battle. We moved on to Math and History and put the whole thing behind us. Later that evening, after they were all in bed, I clicked back on my FB page just to have a few minutes of brainless clicking and scrolling before calling it a night. That morning, in an effort to demonstrate to my (surly and uncaring) boys what this whole ‘positive post-it’ day was about, I scribbled a quick note, snapped a photo and posted it on FB. I had addressed it To: You, From: Me. The message: You Are Loved.

Now, I have posted the sweetest photos of my darling children, some super amazing fishing photos, some very funny (if I may say so myself) comments and many other interesting and wonderful things on FB over the years. There are some comments back, a few questions back and forth and yes, a decent amount of likes here and there.

But, this! This little scribbled ‘positive post-it’ message of LOVE was shared, liked and commented upon like crazy! It was nuts! A few feelings were bubbling up for me, watching the likes and comments grow… First, a tiny bit of redemption. It was a moving story, even if my kids would rather do Math than write a dang message of caring to somebody else. (Who raised these little beasts?) OK, I will let that go now. Then, after I thought a bit, this thing started in me. It was like a bit of healing being poured out, like a warm balm for my own heart. I’ve been feeling totally peppered with bad/negative stuff lately. The scary news stories, the negative, the worry… Man, it can get to me. As, I scrolled through these comments and likes, my heart was ever-so-sweetly warmed by the heartfelt response from people I really do love and from the lovely people who felt the weight of being reminded that they are a person Who. Is. Loved.

This is what is True and Real and Constant… LOVE. We are loved. Each and every single one. YOU are loved. Now that is something I that is worth us clicking on and liking and posting and writing about and anytime we possibly can, offering to real people, in real life.

Brined Grilled Halibut

This very simple recipe produced what the hubby called “best fish I’ve ever eaten.” The brining and resting take several hours, but almost entirely unattended.

The brining/driying toughens up the flesh a bit for grilling and keeps it moist. The mayo both seasons it and keeps it from sticking on the grill,
This is adapted from a recipe in the LA Times by chef Michael Cimarusti at Providence restaurant.

French Crab Salad

Lentils
First make the lentils, which will form the base of the salad. Put all lentil ingredients into a pot, bring to a boil and then simmer until the lentils are tender. Refrigerate. Tip: You can do this step the night before.

Crab
Take 3 FFF CKC and boil in water mixed with orange and lemon juice for 12 minutes. Pull them out and refrigerate or ice. Once cold, chop coarsely and add celery and onion. Mix.

Dressing
Mix together ingredients and whisk right before dressing.

To serve:
Plate the cold lentils as a bed. Whisk the dressing well and pour over the crab salad. Mix and serve over cold lentils.

– Adam Levine

Sunday Morning Salmon Scramble

  1. Saute the peppers and onions in coconut oil until soft and slightly browned
  2. Stir in tomatoes
  3. Cut salmon into bite sized pieces and add
  4. Cook until the salmon is mostly cooked through
  5. Add in eggs and cook until almost done
  6. Add in the mozzarella and cook until just starting to melt
  7. Garnish with dill or chives

Enjoy! This also works well with FFF yummy shrimp (we change the cheese to cheddar)

And by the way-your writing is amazing, inspiring and just a delight to read. I was an English major so I relish good writing and anyone who paints such lovely pictures with words-well-my hats off to you!

Tracy Varshawsky

There Can Be Only One Captain

Joke

After nearly 15 years of marriage and fishing and kids and more fishing we’ve pretty much worked out our ‘normal’ way of life. Chris wakes up very early (or often in the middle of the night) and goes fishing. This is what he does. Like, all the time. No exceptions. He handles all the things that have to do with taking the boat to the fish, getting the fish on board and bringing them in to market. Then he keeps doing this over and over.  And I, being The Mom and Fisherman’s Wife am in total and complete charge of well…. every single thing else. *Disclaimer: If this little essay were titled ‘The Fisherman’ you might or might not hear a totally different version of this. But, it’s not called that. So… let’s move on with my version (the only correct one) of our life.

Like I was saying…. It would be ‘normal’ for us, that pretty much all of everything else would be totally left to my impeccable discretion. (My story, my version…remember?) The major things that require an expensive or otherwise weighty decision will warrant a Sat phone call to the boat, and usually in short, scratchy bursts of communication we figure things out. But all of the other stuff… that’s all my domain. With The Big Guy being gone from home nearly 6 months out of every year we’ve been married and often not even within phone call range, someone must take on the role of final decision maker. Luckily, ‘in control’ is my happy place. So it’s a win-win. I’m used to living this way. Chris is used to living this way. All is well.

Enter The Crab. Since Chris has been focusing more on our amazing Ca King Crab… he’s been HOME wayyyyy more often than what we have come to expect as our ‘normal’. Those little suckers live closer to the Harbor than other fish we catch, the gear is worked on an every other day (or so) schedule and well…. he’s just HERE all the dang time. And I mean that in the most loving way. And just to clarify, when I say ‘home’, I mean right here, inside the house. Like, right now for example: he is sitting less than 36 inches from my ear. Chewing ice. With the TV on… while I try to type this. Did I mention the ice?

So after making it to just short of 15 years of marriage, we are embarking on a new season where we are learning loads of  ‘new information’ about each other. Here’s a little sample:

  1. There can be only 1 Captain in charge at a time. We are both pretty sure who that should be.
  2. I am clearly more right, more often.
  3. Making ‘helpful suggestions’ could by some people, be felt as trying to exert control. And just to make sure that point is super clear, here are some things that not one single Captain of Her Home ever in the history of ever needs to be ‘helped’ with:

the ‘best’ location in the fridge for the butter (Really? THAT is the priority in this whole entire house filled up with 5 people and 2 dogs and a turtle and all of their respective crap? The proper location for the sticks of butter? Yes, I see the logic in that. Totally.)

having it explained that folding the laundry ‘right when the drier dings’ would keep the clothes from getting wrinkled (I have an idea. How about giving me some laundry tips after YOUR 8 gazillionth load of laundry? Thanks, that would be awesome.)

letting me know that the children could be ‘trained like that!’ (pretend someone who shall remain nameless is snapping their fingers right now) to clean their rooms, handle all of the house chores and go to bed quickly and quietly upon command if that same person were the one in charge of them all of the time (First, despite all your ‘my way or the highway’ banter,  your response to even the sparkle of a tear in your daughter’s eye is to sweep her up in hugs and take everyone out to ice cream. So you can drop the Master Po/General/Captain/El Jefe routine. We all know you are a total softy when it comes to the kids.  Second, I gave birth to them all. Period. Nothing else trumps that whole scene. And possibly a visual will help you to remember the gigantic babies you make. Just take a nice long gander at the next ELEVEN POUND Halibut you catch.  Yes, E.L.E.V.E.N. pounds)

On that note, I’m gonna go take a nap. Once you have them all Black Ops Ninja Green Beret Chore Commando trained, all the laundry is folded and the ever lovin’ butter is properly stored have one of them come wake me up.  By that time it should be pretty darn close to Swordfish Season. Snap, snap, snapitty snap.

Midlife Crisis?

Family

Maybe it’s a mid-life crisis? I’m not sure…but my husband has been acting a bit strange lately. He hasn’t bought a sports car or anything. Chris had a birthday yesterday – he turned 50. That’s big!!  I asked him in January, as I was going over the 2012 ‘plans’ if he wanted a party this year.  It was kind of in jest…. He NEVER has a party. Not because he isn’t social – but because a party would mean that on that day (or night) he’d be required to NOT GO TO WORK (gasp). It’s just ‘not done’ around here.  But at the last moment, he announced that he’d like to have a Birthday Party this year. Uh…. what? So with less than the necessary time to ‘throw together’ a birthday bash commensuarte with the largeness of the birthday guy’s personality – the kids and I went to work!! Thank goodness I work best under pressure. And thank goodness for the internet. And overnight shipping. 🙂

This week we will be honoring my amazing, selfless, tenacious, dedicated and yes…fanatical husband’s 1/2 Century Birthday. Please bear with us as we take this Sunday off from the Fish Market. Of anybody I know, this man deserves a PARTY!

Speaking of the Birthday…

Happy Birthday

On his 50th we had an awesome party with lots of Sushi and other seafood, a bunch of his longtime friends and the family and even had a DJ & bartenders! That stuff is hard to top! So. Much. Fun. (And just in case you haven’t witnessed it, a bunch of 50ish year old fishermen types and their wives dancing the night away is both hilarious and awesome! Especially when this group of people spent their original dancing/club/bar years together during the early 80’s. So yeah… Duran Duran and Wham. Are you getting the visual? HILARIOUS, I tell ya!)

Of course, not every year is ‘the big five-oh’. Enter, our great friend (and Wholesale Fish Buyer) Steve who has a Labor Day party each year and all of Chris’ favorite people are there. This year he’s having his party a bit early, so he can take his youngest back to College ~ all the way on the East Coast (!WHAT?!…. the thought of this makes me pre-emptively want to sob and forbid my children from ever, ever going away… but that is another story). Anyway, it so happens that the party is ON Chris’ Birthday. So I am shouting out a super big thank you to Mr. Steve for basically having The Birthday Party for me. Whew!

But… the gift.

This man has EVERY.SINGLE.THING. already. Well, not a vacation home in Greece or a fleet of luxury cars… but realistic things that a wife and kids would get as gifts…Yep, he’s got them already. All of ’em.

A few years ago, on our way home from the Sunday Fish Market, we saw a guy on the side of the road selling these Fish Sculptures. They were like a bronze type thing (I’m guessing here, to be honest). Anyway, he had this really amazing Halibut sculpture that he made and was displaying at an Arts Festival.  He was from Idaho. We stopped and admired them, talked a bit with the guy and left. Chris really liked them, but they were a bit pricey and we were… well, pretty broke to put it mildly.

Fast forward: Birthday panic. Then, super awesome plan.  I had 3 things work to my advantage.

  1. I grabbed that guy’s business card that day…. and I kept it! I didn’t really plan on getting the fish for Chris. Not really. But I thought way back in my mind, what if someday I could get it? Well, I kept the card. And, by some dang miracle I was able to find it again about a month ago.
  2. When we saw that fish sculpture, and the Big Guy who doesn’t ever actually do *anything* for himself liked it, but simply could not spend the money on it, I felt so, so weird. It wasn’t guilt, but kind of. Whatever that bad, upsetting feeling was… it poked at me. So, since then – every time you guys have bought a pound of Halibut or a handful of Shrimp or a dinner’s worth of Salmon, you’ve been contributing to this awesome gift for Chris. I didn’t know it at first. I just knew that $2 here and $5 there, after I was done with my bookkeeping, could be put away. I don’t normally keep things from Chris. But this I did. I have an old wallet that I started stashing a few bucks in each week. I’d normally buy groceries or pay the phone bill…. and I did. I just did it with a few dollars less. So, a big thank you to each of you who faithfully pick up your fresh fish from us each week. You guys are the reason the kids and I were able to pull this one off. You are the best!
  3. The guy from Idaho who does the sculptures… is super cool. When I got him on the phone, about a month ago, I explained what I was after and he explained that he was well, in Idaho and, had no plans of returning to So California until the winter. Ugggh. So I begged. Well, not actually. But, ya know.. I may have pleaded a little. Then, he made some phone calls and arranged some stuff and viola! The kids and I met a guy, who knows a guy out at an airport, who had some of the Idaho guys fish sculptures and could handle everything for us. Sweet!

The kids and I, and my wallet stuffed with tiny bills went unnoticed (not easy to do… Chris picks up on anything out of the ordinary!) out to this awesome hanger at the Airport, picked up the fish, got it home, stashed it away and no fisherman was any the wiser. HAHAHAAAAA!

Today we are making Peanut Butter Pie and tying a bow onto the Gift, while he is out fishing. Happy Happy Happy #52 to My Big Guy. Now, if the kids can just keep the secret one more day…..c’mon y’all it’s ONE day. We can do this!!

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