Sunday, February 28, 2016

Carp-e Diem

I started writing this post shortly after my last post (actually as sort of a continuation), but life moves fast and I haven't had a chance to post it until now.

When I was younger, I never fished fresh water, never thought I needed to and I probably didn't. Now that I'm older, I still don't think I need to but found out I really want to.

This past June, The kids and I were supposed to go with some friends and their kids on a fishing boat. Well, one friend got sick, so the trip was canceled. For fathers day, Lizzy bought me a fresh water pole and fishing kit. Sadly, I had bought Lizzy real nice pole several years before that she never had the occasion to use.

The evening after Fathers' Day, Lizzy and I trekked to the local brook, found a great spot to set up and began to fish. I explained to Lizzy that the best fresh water fishing bait was corn. She thought I was crazy until, after a a few minutes, she landed a blue gill. The fish was so small, I tried not to laugh. A few minutes later, she landed a large mouth bass, then a crappie and then a few more sunfish. All in all, we caught and released fifteen fish that night. Lizzy and I continued every evening for the following week. We caught cat fish, suckers, pumpkins, large mouths and a plethora of other fish. 

R., made it a point to tell us she thought it cruel to catch and release fish. That was until one evening when she joined us at the brook and made her first catch. She was hooked (pun intended). We started going fishing 2 then 3 then 4 then 5 nights a week.

Then it happened. One morning, while I was at the brook alone, I got a tug on my pole like no other fresh water fish had done. Shocked, I mentally struggled to figure out what had happened, dumbfounded I began to reel in my catch. It was a beautiful carp. Trying to get it out of the water, the weight of the fish snapped my line. I mourned as I watched the beautiful golden creature quickly disappear, right in front of me. Now in modern Ahab fashion, I rushed home and ordered a net off of Ebay, I had to catch the great gold carp.

I started visiting the brook almost every day with R.. Finally one evening while reeling in, something grabbed my line and ran. The drag was low but the pole still struggled as it bent and creaked. The fish jumped out of the water as my heart jumped from my chest and my mind yelled, “Thar she blows!”. I got the carp to the edge of the brook, R. quickly grabbed the leader and got the fish onto land. As I picked it up, Adrenalin shot into my veins, I caught the golden, slimy scaled fish and I survived. We took some pictures and realizing the poor creature was struggling returned it to it's environment.

If you asked me that day, what the greatest part of fishing was, I would have probably said, landing the big one. In the following weeks though, something happened, we found new fishing locales, we caught many carp and other types of fish. R., the kids and I spent hours talking, laughing and enjoying ourselves, as R. would say, “Enjoying nature, while catching fish once in a while.”

August came, Emily moved away to college and Lizzy went back to school. R. and I continued to to go to the brook and enjoy each others company when we could. Then as the leaves began to change, my work situation no longer afforded me the time to go fishing, R. and I decided that maybe it was time that we should pick other activities with our limited free time.

I'm sure we'll all go fishing together again, but for one whole summer, we seized the days, we valued the time and we created moments that will last a lifetime.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Waves of Memory

     I grew up, bike riding distance, from the ocean and loved salt water fishing. I fished for blues, bass and fluke from jetties and boats. I never fresh water fished, never needed to.

      My fishing days stopped shortly after I got married. I convinced myself that I didn't have the time. A few months after my divorce I found my old tackle box and lures in my mother's basement and decided to go fishing. I went to the store and picked up reel, rod, a bunch of new tackle and a cool Leatherman fishing tool.

     Arriving at the once thriving fishing access, I discovered it was no longer open and the stairs to the jetty had long since crumbled. I climbed down broken up bricks to the beach and arriving at the jetty realized, it had been a victim of time. What was once a beautiful tight formation of rocks to fish from had become a scattered testament to the disastrous consequence of letting our Army Corp Of Engineers do, well, anything.

     I climbed the treacherous rocks and struggled out to where the water break was. I pulled out my trusty old tackle box, now filled with an insane amount of lures, bobbers, tackle and my shiny new leatherman tool. I rigged the new rod and reel and was ready to start.

     First cast, I knew I was in trouble. I spent 10 mins. fighting the, now hidden, portion of black rocks. After my third cast, a large wave came up the jetty and decided to envelop me in salt and sea. The chill of the air quickly grabbed the water from my skin leaving my clothes heavy and damp. I wasn't getting any action on my lure.  There could have been a thousand fish in front of me but the only thing biting was the cold and wet of my jacket. On my sixth cast, a large white wall of water materialized at the end of the jetty and the loose rocks surrendered completely to it's awesome power. As it came closer, I wedged my feet into the only holds the slippery rock allowed and braced for impact. As the remnants of the attack reached the shore, my proud drenched form stood up straight, mocking the waves. I am man. I had survived the momentous hit. I would continue fishing. I would... wait... where the hell was my tackle box?

     Looking off the side of the jetty, in the loose rocks, I saw the lid of the tackle box surface like the shell of a turtle. It was only about five feet from me but I could not reach it. My ape brain screamed dive in the water and grab it! How cold could the water be at the end of October? How hard could the sharp rocks be? What are the odds of another huge wave coming? Then the adrenaline subsided and my mathy brain jumped in (Reed – Tackle Box) + (Deadly Waves + Huge Sharp Rocks) = X. Unfortunately the value of X wasn't Reed getting his tackle box. As my mind began calculating the Certain Horrifying Death of Reed that X represented, the ocean decided it was time to F@#$ with me.
     No Tidal Wave was reported on the Jersey shore that day but I can assure you, the weight and power of the water that hit me was enough to rattle my ape and mathy brain in one loud sneak attack of a crash. My eyes hadn't left the tackle box until my slip proof soled sandals didn't live up to their name and I found myself confused, on my side, wedged between two large rocks. Visions of the newspaper reporting that a fisherman's body had washed up on the shore broken to pieces crossed my mind. Then I laughed... a fisherman? Stupid news reporters.

     No pride in surviving the last foamy blast, I struggled to my feet. The tackle box appeared to be slowly sinking. I looked surprised at my right hand, as if I willed it, my fishing pole was somehow still there. I positioned myself so that the waves could not surprise me again. I envisioned using the pole to get the tackle box out of the water. I was awesome. I got the pole to slide under the handle of the tackle box. It was in my grasp! The weight of the tackle box was too great for the pole and I cursed myself for the slow progress. Why had I collected and bought so much tackle? I started taking mental inventory of the packed box. Inventory canceled! 

     A white mist rose high in the air at the end of the jetty. In one of the most bizarre moments of my life, I awkwardly braced as the large wave arrived; towered over me; paused just long enough to see my expression; CRASHED!!! The box barely floating, I made one last ditch attempt to snag the handle with the pole. I was just about there when I saw the mist form and another wave pounded me. The tackle box kindly waited for me to watch, before it made it's final journey to the icy depths, in bubbles and swirls it disappeared.

     I slowly climbed off the rocks and made my way up the beach. My body was sore, I had lost my tackle box, my favorite lures from childhood and my new leatherman tool. I collapsed to the beach. I watched the waves that had seemed to shrink, now that I was off the jetty. Over the sounds of the ocean an echo of a memory screamed out of the back of my mind.
     A warm day, myself and two older friends walking down the cement steps of the fishing access. I was no more than ten and didn't even have a fishing pole. We stood on the well kept jetty enjoying the day. No fish were biting and one of my friends handed me his pole. I cast it to the 'unlucky' side of the jetty and then it happened. POW! I had a blue on the line and it didn't want to be there. I used all my strength to awkwardly reel it in. My friend pulled it out of the water.   

     Unbeknownst to me, I had hit a run. The blues had trapped the bait fish between two jetties. We moved to the beach and every cast produced a catch. We walked into the water and feeling the large fish bouncing off my legs imprinted a memory that could not be silenced thirty plus years later. After catching a couple more blues and dragging them onto the beach, I was exhausted and gave my friend his pole back. I watched as my friends proceeded to pull one large fish after another onto the shore. The 'unlucky' side of the jetty was no longer avoided and had lost it's stigma... until today.
     Even though the splash of the waves brought me back, I'd be lying if I said it was the mist from the ocean in the corner of my eye.  It was a smile; a memory; a youthful adventure; the first time a young boy caught a fish; it was magic.

     As the jetty aged before my eyes and the access steps disappeared I had a feeling creep in, that I didn't normally allow myself to have, it was regret.  Lizzy and Emily had not been fishing and they were older than I was that day. Luckily, sometimes it's not too late for regrets to be satisfied.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sometimes A Card Is Not Enough.

     Emily moved away to college last week. I still haven't given her the card I bought her for her high school graduation. It's not like I haven't thought about what I was going to write in it, actually it's the opposite problem. What do you say to your child that is at the very point that you have been preparing them for their entire life. Anything that hasn't been said, is no longer between a parent and a child, but between two equal adults. It's not like I've changed that much since I was the one to welcome her into the world. She is no longer that helpless baby looking in awe at the world though; she is not that little girl that looked up to me for guidance; she isn't even the teen in angst who tested her boundaries. She is an amazing young woman that will continually make me proud as she moves forward through her life. A life that I will be a much smaller part of.

     When she gradated high school, I was going to write I was proud of her on the card. I really wasn't proud that she graduated high school, I wholly expected her to graduate high school. I'm proud of who she has become.
Now we txt back and forth, my wisdom already imparted, my fatherly advice no longer wanted, but still given. It's not like Emily will no longer be a part of my life, but now the admiration of a little girl that she once looked up to me with, I look at her with. I am content in knowing that things have changed, she is no longer a little girl in her father's world, I am now a father in his adult daughters world.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Strange Things Found in A Bowling Alley Restroom Garbage Can... Episode 1

OK, so the kids, R and I have been going bowling a lot lately. We were at the bowling alley one Sunday morning and as we got ready to leave, I had to stop and use the facilities. I washed my hands and got ready to throw out the towel when... there it was. What appeared to be a hat or ski mask. Every once in a while when in a public bathroom, there is something strange in the trash. This one caught my eye, so I got a picture of it on my camera phone.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Belated Blogiversary.

The five year mark (blogiversary) came and went for this blog last month. I didn't do any fancy post for it, or even post any of the dozen or so backups I had previously written. Nope, I was busy Ebaying or watching Netflix or taking a hike.

Many things have changed since I started this blog.
  • Lizzy has grown up.
  • Emily graduated high school and goes to college the month after next.
  • I'm in a serious relationship.
  • I've changed my camera equipment brand.
  • I've been writing more and posting less.
  • I'm no longer an American citizen, at least not according to the failed Obamacare system.
I Digress.

Some fun facts about the blog...
  • It has now been read in all 50 states.
  • It has been browsed in 99 countries
  • There have been over 40,000 page views.
  • The top three mobile devices used to reach the site are
    • Apple Ipad
    • Apple Iphone
    • Microsoft Windows RT Tablet
  • Until last week, I didn't own any of those mobile devices.
  • More men then women read my blog 54.15% to 45.85%
  • 61% of my readers are under 34 years of age.
  • The most viewed blog entry is still Some Daughter.
  • The lowest viewed blog entry (ranked) is still Sand Destiny under 20 page views.
  • Funniest Recent Search Keywords, 'dollar tree drop dead spray'
  • This will be the 321st post.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Paying My Dues... Sort Of.

Thursday was bill paying day. All of my bills except for my co-op are due on the 15th of the month. What this means is that, usually around the 10th, I spend the day attempting to pay the bills.

I say attempting because after paying everything but my cable bill, I type the cable company's site into my browser, log in and then it happens. The cable company's web page bombards me with every news story that could ever peak my interest. So now my man brain says, “Pay bill!”, my ape brain says, “Cool reporter attacked by Cicadas, CLICK!”

After watching a hilarious video of a reporter swatting at cicadas while one has already landed on her face, It's back to paying my bill.
Oh no, Christopher Lee died, he rocked, CLICK!
Back to paying my bill.
Dusty Rhodes died, that's my youth, CLICK! Search for Pictures of Young Dusty, CLICK!
Back to paying my bill.
Bill Clinton Will Not Do Paid Speeches if Hillary is Elected. If he'll shut his lying hole (I mean his mouth, not Hilary's), I'll vote for Hilary, CLICK! Let down, he just means he'll do speeches for free to get away from Hilary.
Back to paying my bill.
Apple Workers to CEO, “Stop embarrassing us!”, CLICK! Really, your work carries tiny, super expensive devices and checks your bags on the way in and out.  They call them geniuses? Fire them all Cook!
'The Best Laptop You Can Buy.” article link on the bottom of the page, CLICK! Really, 'The Verge', the MacBook Air without touchscreen, with no tablet capability, lower screen resolution, no WIDI, and a price tag more than twice of it's competitors (based on similar specs) beats out a Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro? Oh wait is that an Apple ad on your site or do they just pay your stupid writers directly?
Back to paying my bill.
Oh no!  Entertainment news! CLICK! CLICK! CLICK!

So, 513 links, 4 hours and 2 cups of coffee later, all bills are successfully paid.

Monday, May 18, 2015

That Which Is Dangerous Can Also Be Beautiful.

Walking down some trails the other day, I came across some poison ivy.  By some, I mean a lot. As a kid I was constantly getting rashes and would use ivy dry and calamine lotion to attempt to soothe the burning itch of the three leaved demon that bit me. I even had a bout that caused my eyes to swell closed and my face to deform. I remember walking around for several weeks feeling like the elephant man.

For so many years I feared three leaved plants. If I even thought I came in contact with one, I would wash in an OCD manner. I'm not sure whether with age, fear subsides or experience teaches but thirty odd years later, I walk through fields of poison ivy and oak with no ill effect. I no longer fear but admire the vines for their beauty and zest for survival.