Weather Rules

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Weather rules. It dominates our conversations, our decisions, our time apart (or together), our earning ability & it can be what determines our fate….although I’m pretty good at remaining in denial in that area.

When Chris is home from fishing there is a nonstop searching of weather websites and updates. When he’s offshore, our phone calls begin with weather updates…in case we lose the sat phone connection. Every thing is paced by weather windows. We got married in February. You know… since it was Halibut season and the weather would likely be BAD ENOUGH that he’d be able to take a day off. Not kidding.

The guys have been making offshore trips these past several weeks. So, after spending 5 or 7 days and nights at a time, getting tossed around at sea and working their collective brains out, then coming in to unload the catch and clean up the resulting disaster ~ the guys move right into the process of going back to work. So. Not. Kidding.

Occasionally, the weather looks like they may have 1 or possibly 2 days ‘at home’. Except that even if that is the case, they aren’t ‘at home’. See, that’s a little phrase we use to talk ourselves into believing there will be some sort of break. And very rarely there is. ‘At home’ actually means fixing gear and getting boat parts, selling fish, cleaning up lots of icky fish stuff, meeting regulatory paperwork requirements, ordering yet another hydraulic whatever you call it that costs wayyyy too much money. When we do think we’ll have a little break because it’s simply too windy to fish, it’s obviously a very welcome thing. I don’t care what time of day or night it is… I start calling my list of babysitters who are great at last second requests. Chris will run home to hug all the kids, grab a quick shower and we try to squeeze in ‘date time’. We’ve learned to get creative. Our preference of course is a nice day at a Spa, a lovely meal out maybe even a movie. It’s a rare thing ~ but we do it up big since we spend so much time apart. And yes, we make US time a priority…even if somtimes we have to short some time with the kids…weird sounding I know. But, we’ve learned in this lifestyle it’s kind of like putting the oxygen mask on yourself first in a plane crash. And yes, I can be a bit dramatic to make my point. But seriously, our date time is NEEDED.

I was quite certain that yesteday was ‘date time’ So certain that I had the sitter planned, and even did up my hair, put on my good ‘ladies things’ and shaved my legs. I was that certain. And then, the flippity-flappin weather changed.  So, I did what any fisherman’s wife would do. I met my husband at Sam’s Club. Not exactly the Ojai Valley Inn ~ but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.  So after spending the whole day moving his gear around, getting 2 tons of ice on board (yes, they SHOVEL all that ice onto the boat – gah, can you imagine?), fueling up (dear. Lord. the. fuel. bill.), loading up the now clean slickers & gloves, blankets and clothing, (yes, my washer has some seriously nasty residue) Chris & I  got to spend an hour together buying galley supplies (ie: groceries) at Sams Club. That way he could catch this little weather window….to go back to work. Hey, I’ll take an hour where I can get it.

Luckily, I was inducted into all of this nonsense early on….when the boat was still shiny, so to speak. 😉 Once, I drove in the middle of the night to Morro Bay, grabbed stinky fish laundry off the boat, went to Vons sometime around dawn with Chris, watched him fuel up at the dock, counted fish weights as they unloaded, visited a bit and then drove home. And you know what, that was actually a really nice date…perfect really.  We’d only just gotten married. I remember it so well because just as I got there I stood watching Chris manuevering the Linde into Morro Bay Harbor and since he had a HUGE load of Swordfish on board he was super happy. That memory of his big, happy smile as he was up on the flybridge steering the Linde in is so sweet. He saw me standing there and waved….and promptly hit the boat in the slip next to him. 😉 It didn’t do any damage….but I secretly liked it. His eyes were on me. His thoughts were on me. He bumped that boat, corrected his steering, and looked back up at me and smiled again. I didn’t know it then, but that particular date would be the beginning of our family. (Way TMI I’m sure) Now, that is a good date in my book. No weather report can really mess that up.

Fish Free ;)

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One thing I had to learn to ‘let go’ when I became a Fisherman’s Wife was the notion of having anything at all that was not in some way ‘fishy’. Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not complaining nearly as much as it probably comes across in writing. There might be a smidgen of fussiness deep down ~ but seriously, 99.9999% of me realizes that this is just a fact of our lives and it just is what it is, and it almost completely doesn’t even phase me.

There is one area that is really wish could remain ‘fish free’ and that is my laundry room. But since that is probably the fishiest fishy place at our house…and since it’s not logistically possible to have that remain a fish free zone, I’ve given that whole issue up in my heart and I just remind myself repeatedly that the smell and the flecks of fish and the scales in my dryer vent are little signs of a paycheck coming that I am most assuredly very, very grateful for.

So just for a little perspective: We pay, each and every month, for 2 slips to keep our 2 boats, and 2 different storage facilities to house all of the myriad of fishing related gear and random items for the boats. We also have 2 garages at our house. Guess what is in them? Now, for honesty’s sake I do have to admit to having much of the garage space for my homeschooling stuff ~ but there is a chest freezer in one that is soley for fish and a good amount of the ‘big garage’ stores all kinds of gear and rope and hooks and lights and other fishy stuff. The side of our house also holds random fishing items (my apologies to my neighbors, I really will move it all eventually).

Of course, the entire house has fishing pictures, fish paperwork, shark’s teeth, fish related sculptures and art  and fishing memorabilia. That part I am OK with… but when I am on a roll I like to throw in anything I can come up with.

Why the complaining today you ask? On Monday, we are going to load up my big ol’ SUV with all of us and all of our stuff and go on  a little family road trip. I drive in that car everyday with more stuff crammed in it than you can even imagine. I drives me nuts, but I am too distracted/busy/tired to do much about it. So we run errands surrounded by baby wipes, half filled coffee cups, lots of kids books and papers and pens, random toys and Legos (lots and lots and lots of Legos) goldfish crackers (both in a package and ground into my carpet) about 6 zillion tons of dog hair, leashes, bags of random items like sweatshirts and ‘extra’ shoes and shirts, water bottles, junk mail …. yeah, you get the picture.It’s crazy on wheels. BUT…. driving with all 5 of us, on a loooonnnng trip with it that way? NOT. HAPPENING. I will lose my ever lovin’ mind. So, today my to do list included like 10 minutes to run out and remove all the debris from my car so I could go get it washed, then pack it all up with more ‘organized crap’ for our trip. EXCEPT that when I opened the back of my car this morning I found it full of fishing stuff!!! Heavy Fishing Stuff.

I’m deep breathing. I’m reminding myself of how every single fish and fish thing in my life means food on our table. More deep breathing.

Then, I see my Big Guy. Actually I hear him (that super deep voice always comes first) singing some random song and laughing with Anna about something. This is the first morning in many, many, many mornings I haven’t listened as his truck door slams and he pulls out of the driveway well before the sun is up and most of us are still snug in our beds. He’s home for a few hours today. He will still work, of course. He really doesn’t stop, ever. But for a few hours this morning he’s here. And his big voice puts a smile on my face. I shut the back of the car and as I re-adjust the hours in my day, I re-adjust my heart. All this stuff that is all over the place… it is just the remnants of all of his incredibly hard work, and of all of the things he does to take care of us.

I will clean the car out. Late tonight probably. But this morning I will quietly listen to my Big Guy sing and laugh and talk with our kids. We’ll eat some breakfast together. We’ll solve the world’s problems over coffee. We’ll negotiate about who gets the noise cancelling head phones during the road trip. We’ll start to talk about the upcoming Swordfish Season. All of the fishy fish stuff will still be here. But, we won’t really notice.

Vera Cruz fillets

Vera Cruz fillets

One of our sweet customers shared this recipe with me! I LOVE tomatoes, olives and capers ~ so this is an instant winner in my book. We will have our Angel Shark this week and I think that would be a great fit for this recipe. I’m trying this one Sunday night after the Market!

Gingery Peach Salmon

Gingery Peach Salmon

We are big fans of ginger flavored anything at our house. And we eat more peaches in Summertime than most real life Georgians (bless their hearts).

I’m serving a fluffy Cous Cous as an additional side with this… well, because that is what I have handy and because we have a lot of mouths to feed over here. 🙂

Yes I Can Life

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My littlest guy is 6. In his world these are facts: 1. He will marry me. (And that isn’t weird at all to him) 2. If I would only allow him to climb the 40 ft tall Eucalyptus tree near our house, capture the owl that hoots at night he could then ‘tame him’  and he would then ride the owl to Legoland and use his own money (he has a total $5.47) to gain entrance. Then, he will ride the owl home all before we even notice he is gone.  3. His Dad will soon bring a great white shark home to him to keep for a pet. He’s pretty sure Shelly (the turtle) will share it’s tank willingly. 4. He’s convinced that eating 700 pancakes is totally possible if I cut them up very, very tiny first.

OK, he’s 6. I get that it’s cool to think that stuff when you are little. At my age….uh, yeah… that would be kinda crazy. BUT I gotta tell you something. I noticed something about his thinking. He thinks he can.My thinking, on the other hand, having gotten it’s [email protected]@ kicked repeatedly in the big ol’ adult world has lost much of that ‘Sure, I can ______________(fill in whatever)’ and naturally has matured into thinking instead through possible obsticles, alternate outcomes, costs, etc. And then deciding I’m not sure if I actually really could (or should) or that I’m simply too tired/frustrated/busy anyway.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to sit here from the safety of my rolling/swiveling chair & my keyboard and proclaim that we should all Kum Ba Yah ourselves back into our childlike fearlessness and loudly muster ourselves up a YES I CAN LIFE ~ all because I had a ‘moment of enlightenment’ while watching my 6 year old pretend he was riding his ‘super extra loud’ motorcycle to Alaska (while he was actually riding the 2 blocks home after swimming today). No, that would be a little too ethereal for this old, real-life-hardened Fisherman’s Wife. But. That boy. He Can.

So… the energy for my do list, the focus I need for the projects I need to tackle, the patience I need to dig for, the forgiveness that seems to slip from my grasp, the gentle sensitive heart, the steady, strong gaze that I know, that I know, that I know was once mine…. I’d like that to be refreshed a little bit, re-hydrated I guess.

So I spend a few minutes, watching and listening and soaking in my boy as he lives his I can life. And, it is like a gentle, refreshing trickle-sprinkle of memories from when I could.

Bored?

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If you ever wanted to be sure your kids don’t spend the entire summer bugging you about being bored, I have found the solution. Well, two solutions.

First, your own mother, who has more energy than a hyperactive 6 year old should come for a visit and decide to ‘re-do’ your backyard into a tiny family sized food farm. Kids LOVE watering and digging in the dirt and really, really love the ‘harvesting’ part. Plus, seeing people eat the leaves right off of a plant in the back yard! makes them want to taste (don’t tell them… veggies!) too. Some fun stuff happening here. Then, when you offer them MONEY (.50 a bucket, and yeah it takes FOREVER to fill it) to pull weeds. Well, you’ve just bought yourself like 2 hours to read a book without really being interrupted too awful much. YAY!

Second, when the novelty of the ‘farming’ wears off (we milked it for like 6 days or so) the perfect thing is for your fridge to stop working. Stick with me here. For some unknown reason, moving all of the contents of our fridge into many ice chests and having to dig for everything and re-ice stuff was total entertainment to my kids. They pretended we were living ‘out in the wild’ (ummm, except with walls and plumbing and a constant supply of ice from Sam’s Club). They ‘harvested our food’ (even though at the time the only thing that had come up well enough to eat was lemons and lettuce). Then, just about the time everyone was super sick and tired of not having a fridge… the delivery guys came. The new fridge was awesome for 10 seconds. Cool lights, buttons for ice and water to push 7 million times. But thepiece de resistance... the box! Bless you Sears, for nice delivery men who didn’t even consider asking if I wanted them to haul that box away. He shook my kids out from under his feet (since they love to ‘help’ any delivery person so much) and immediately dragged the box out to the backyard and directed them to ‘set up house. I got nearly another 3 days of entertained kids with that box. Worth every penny I paid for the fridge.

Now, I’m trying to figure out how to make them think of ‘cleaning the garage out’ or ‘painting the boat’ as some sort of exciting adventure.

Whoever wrote that song ‘Summertime, and the Livin’ is Easy’ cleary did not have a house full of easily bored children.

“Disappointing” Holiday

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Have you ever had a ‘disappointing’ holiday? Like, maybe you thought you’d get a cool gift you’ve been wanting… and then, whomp! Instead, you received a gift card to a crappy place you don’t even like. Or, worse yet, no gift was given at all and instead you got a ‘cheery wish’ via Facebook.

Or maybe, you dreamed that on this one day… your awesomeness would finally be fully realized and all within your realm would lower their eyes in your presence and fan you while you slept in and you wouldn’t lift ONE SINGLE FINGER in the kitchen for the whole entire day? Hey, a lady can dream.

My Mother’s Day turned out to be really nice. But, it wasn’t exactly a Fairy Tale. My hands were deep in dishes, the ‘sleeping in’ part was not attained, one kid had episodes of tears, 2 kids didn’t want to stop their Lego building long enough to hand make a Mom’s Day card for me…. but did offer buy a new Lego set for me that they’ve been wanting. And, then kindly offered to ‘let me’ keep it in my own room. Ummm… all I can say at this point, is that I am SO grateful The Good Lord, in his wisdom, knew I needed my little girl among all of the heathen boys.

Boys simply are NOT, if left to their own devices, good at gift giving and celebrations. (And, if your amazingly perfect boys ARE naturals at this…. please just lie through your teeth so I don’t feel so bad) And, before you think I am unfairly preferring one of my kids over the other two… seriously, this is NOT the deal. But, my girl has got my back in this area! She SO gets that a Momma doesn’t just want recognition on Momma’s Day but that she NEEDS it~  and that what any Momma seriously. does. not. need. is to have to drag out the construction paper for homemade cards herself, drive all the kids to the flower stand, pay for the flowers, purchase the online gift card, plan, shop for and make the ‘Mom’s Day Meal’, clean up the mess, and remember to remind the Big Guy to call his own Mother. And yes, this is all from previous experience ~ before my girls was old enough to team up with me to properly train Our Men/Boys Who Love Us But Are Bewildered About How We Prefer To Be Shown The Love.

This year, my Girl went into action and fought like a little soldier to make sure my day was LOVELY. Because of her tenacity, among some of the just plain real stuff that every day life delivers, there was this really good stuff:  I was sent out to the pool, alone and with a book (that alone… just that alone… oh, yes!), while Anna and Daddy made breakfast for me. Then, we all ate together (a true gift at our house). I was also presented with a truly cool, super comfy, new (to me) BIKE that I had been eyeing for weeks. Anna had noticed my online ogling of this bike, got the info from my search history on my computer, passed it to The Big Guy and together they made it happen. Then, we ALL rode bikes, watched movies, played with the dogs and just hung out together all the live long day!

There was no rushing around or checking off of to-do lists. So, in all the slowness I just watched them all.  I loved seeing my littlest guy peddling his bike furiously trying to keep up with the big kids, his wild curls flying. I listened (like, actually listened – not just ‘ummm-hmmmed’) as my sweet girl explained just how she cooked the eggs… and I noticed her tuck her hair back behind her ear, and wipe her hands on the kitchen towel just like I do. Max and I walked the dogs and talked about random stuff… and oh how I loved hearing his emerging quirky/dry sense of humor. The Big Guy got some down time… and the usual sense of urgency that presses him through his long, hard days was for the moment, suppressed. He aired up bike tires. Tied kids shoes. Gave high-fives. And relaxed with his family. So, so awesome.

I can’t even tell you how super stoked I am about my awesome bike…. but the very best part was that one whole day I spent simply being those kid’s Mom and that Big Guy’s wife.

Artist

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art·ist  /ˈärtist/ A person whose work shows exceptional creative ability or skill.

Miss Anna will be showing one of her paintings next weekend at the Annual Fine Arts Festival (put on by our homeschool group). It seems I’ll never see the top of my kitchen table again… it is covered in art stuff. But I’m OK with that. Our homes are kind of like a workshop, gallery and stage for each of our own individual ‘arts’, aren’t they? We live among fishing boots, anchors, fillet knives, slickers, miles of stacked ropes. Framed prints of fishing boats, receipts and orders for fish, endless weather reports. Max’s room is brimming with test tubes and beakers, a microscope, several chemistry sets, so many books on science and chemistry. His walls are covered, not with movie posters or photos, but with large depictions of ‘The Periodic Table’. Anna’s art takes over pockets all over the house. Her books, paintings, supplies, stacks and stacks of sketches… stowed away here, folded and stuck in places, pinned up on walls, spilling out of overstuffed cabinets.  Over the next few years, as our littlest man grows into his own his artistic talents will come bubbling up… I love that part of being a Mom. Watching as your babies become their own ~ seperate, unique ~ and displaying that deep down God given special talent for all of us to marvel in.

I’ve never considered myself especially artistic. I love taking photos and writing a bit. But, I don’t have a ‘thing’ that is mine ~ with supplies and books and a spot for it all. But, at my house, I feel like a Curator of sorts in a museum filled with Masterpieces.

I hear a sweet minuet in Chris’ sigh, after he’s showered off the day, eaten a nice meal, and finally collapses into his chair. There is a full orchestra going when we return home after a full day out, & my kids rush the front door and in concert, boom out: WE’RE HOME!  When school is done, the chores complete and given the chance, my kids beg for their friends to play here, at their house...my heart is deeply affected, as if I’ve personally watched the brush strokes of Van Gogh. My children’s hearts are satisfied here. What beauty!

I see Anna’s paintings, and Max’s experiments & diagrams, and Micah’s little toys lined up on the bath tub railing. I see Tippy and Tucker, stretched in the sun. In this carved out dwelling that serves as studio and gallery and stage for my dear ones is, at least in part, my own art. This is our place to rest, learn, play, grow, work, fight & forgive, hope & pray, heal and lavish love. It’s messy…. a work in progress, for sure. But what inspired, creative masterpieces our homes and families are! How blessed are the Mothers who observe it all, from up close ~ behind the velvet ropes… to be the one’s to watch the sketches come to life and to wipe the spilled paints and to help tune the strings. How wonderfully blessed are the Mothers!

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