I Am Awesome. And So Are You.

I am!!!

Inspired by my lovely niece, who was in turn inspired by her lovely friend, today’s post is a celebration of what I love about myself.

Normally, I’m not one to point out my strengths or qualities. Like (I would suspect) most of us, I tend to dwell on my weak points and foibles. I’m quick to rattle off a list of those: I’m a klutz, I’m a dork, I’m lazy, I’m a little slow on the uptake. I think we all do that – we’ve rehearsed the list all our lives, until it becomes a common bond that we can share with someone else. Instead of being a humble confession, it becomes almost vanity, a point of pride to be ‘worse’ than other folks. “You think that’s stupid? Well, let me tell you about when I cut the miniblind cords off because they were too long!” (True story.)

So today I step out of that comfort zone of self-deprecation and admit that there are some good – nay, great – things about me, things I’m proud of that make me happy. I’m awesome, and I’ll give you ten reasons why.

  1. My brain. I was lucky to be a bright child – quick to learn and understand. I did well in school, earning scholarships and accolades, and my parents always encouraged me to think and absorb the world around me. As a result, I have confidence that there is nothing I can’t learn or teach myself. I especially love that ‘aha’ moment when a concept clicks and all those neural traces connect – I love being able to relate something new to something I already know. I love how my brain can stow bits of trivia and then retrieve them at the most unlikely moment. The brain is a magnificent organ, and I only wish I had enough time to learn everything I want to know.
  2. My sense of humor. Each of my parents had an offbeat, upbeat sense of humor. They did silly things and taught us to see the humor inherent in life. All of my siblings and I possess that same quality, and I firmly believe that is a very strong part of the bond that connects us. When I’m amused, you know it. I love to laugh, and I love to make other people laugh, too. I love to clown around and crack wise; like my niece said, the world is sad enough as it is. Let’s have fun!
  3. I root for the underdog. Pa once told me that I had a strong sense of fairness and a lot of moxie (which, by the way, is one of my favorite words). I have always cherished his assessment. It’s important to me to stand up for what’s right, even when it’s unpopular, and to champion the little guy. It’s who I am.
  4. I’m authentic. There is no pretense with me. What you see is what you get. Like Popeye, I Yam What I Yam. Heck, I don’t even color my hair or wear makeup. I’m just plain old me, and if you like that, great. If you don’t, well…<shrug>.
  5. I’m compassionate. I’ve had some rough spots in my life, and I have come out on the other side with a renewed sense of kindness and understanding for others. While I don’t consider myself a ‘bleeding heart’ with exaggerated sympathies, I do care a great deal about people and try to be considerate and compassionate. Sometimes it’s hard to be kind, but I’m always trying.
  6. I’m quirky. My medical history is populated with strange events and afflictions. My running joke is that because my mother was a week shy of 37 when I was born, my oddities are a direct result of her ‘old eggs.’ So, I laughingly told her that my hypermobile joints (double-jointedness), inner ear disorder, migraine cluster headaches, third set of front teeth, missing wisdom teeth, mismatched vision (one far-sighted eye, one near-sighted eye), and other physical quirks are because her eggs were past their pull date. But that’s the stuff that makes me, me.
  7. I can write. Ever since I can remember, I have been in love with words. I love to read, and I love to write. I have always been able to express myself in writing, and I’ve been able to use this gift to help other people over the years. I believe my friend’s assertion that ‘everyone has their own talent,’ and while I would love to be able to draw or sculpt or bake or craft, I am content to have been given the gift of writing.
  8. I’m a spoiler. I will go the extra mile to do something special for people I love. I used to put notes in my kids’ school lunches to let them know I was thinking about them. I enjoy spoiling Mr. Stuck. I have a soft spot for the elderly, especially little old men. I will go out of my way for you, just because.
  9. I have great hair. I’ve always loved my hair, except during my adolescence, when, try as I might, the Dorothy Hamill bob and Farrah Fawcett look escaped me. Once I came to terms with that, I’ve been happy with it. Long or short, it was thick and healthy, with its own waves and cowlicks and a very pronounced widow’s peak. Like me, it has a mind of its own, doesn’t care for the muss and fuss of curling irons and hair spray, and is at its best when left alone. It’s greyer and thinner now, but I still love it.
  10. I have a great smile. I used to have a gap between my front teeth. It was handed down through the generations on my mother’s side, and several of my sisters and their kids also have gaps. Mine was huge – I used to joke about being able to floss with a tow rope. Getting braces and a permanent retainer eliminated that gap, but I still love my smile. When I am happy, there is no mistaking it: apple cheeks, bright eyes, and a big, wide grin with my whole mouth.

It took me a while to come up with this list, and I changed my mind a few times. I wasn’t even sure if I could find ten whole things. But I’ve looked it over, and I am satisfied.

Now, a few things I need to work on:

  1. Patience. I’m just not very good at it, especially when I get behind the wheel.
  2. Procrastination. Unfortunately, I’m an expert in putting things off. Like blogging.
  3. Follow-through. I’m a great starter, but a not-so-great finisher. I get bored too easily and switch gears. I need to learn to see things through to completion, whether it’s a book I’m reading or organizing my closet. Or blogging.
  4. Judgment. I struggle with being too judgmental. It is something I work on every day. I think it comes from being judgmental toward myself and then spreading the misery. Ugh. Let me apologize in advance.
  5. Self-control. I have long said that I can resist anything but temptation. I have the ability to talk myself into and out of just about anything, especially if it’s not good for me. My overdeveloped conscience helps me behave most of the time, but too often, the devil on my shoulder wins out.

you are awesome

Now, I’d like to invite you to tell me at least one thing you love about yourself. We spend so much time being critical that we often forget to celebrate our wonderful individuality. Learning to love that unique, amazing person in the mirror is another step toward being healthy and happy!

So let’s hear it!!

 

photo credit: parker yo!  and torley

Keep Clam.*

Clean and ready for prep

Razor clams.  Unique to the Pacific Coast and found from Alaska to California, these bivalves are a delectable treat you can harvest yourself.  With just a shovel or clam gun and some elbow grease, you can be frying up tasty clams in no time.  (Well, kinda.  There is a little more to it than that.)  Step right up and I’ll take you along on our recent clam digging expedition.

When Mr. Stuck called me last week and told me his friend was heading down to the ocean to dig clams, he sounded hopeful.  He told me that the weekend straddled the switch from evening to morning digs, allowing us to harvest back-to-back, Saturday night and Sunday morning.  Would I be interested in going down there, too?

My ‘yes’ surprised both of us, and later, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  It had been years since I dug clams, and I would need a refresher.  Ominously, the weather forecast was rain and thunderstorms.  Oh, boy.

After a quickie reservation at the RV camp, we got the trailer packed up.  We had clam guns, but we couldn’t locate our clam shovels, so I brought my little hand cultivators and trowels.  We brought 5-gallon plastic buckets with holes in the bottom, boots, rain gear, and plenty of towels.  The ocean is notorious for bad weather, especially this time of year.  We knew we’d be getting wet, but razor clams are well worth it.

We got ourselves checked in and the trailer set up, and then, after a quick visit with Mr. Stuck’s friend, we returned and got ready for the evening dig.  I wore rain pants over my jeans, water shoes, and several layers of jackets.  The wind is constant at the shore, so along with my braid, I had a bandana to keep the wispy hair from my eyes, and a ball cap over that, all topped with my jacket’s hood. (Thankfully, no photos exist of this stylish ensemble.)  It wasn’t yet sunset, but we saw plenty of diggers. Well past the crowd, we settled in to our own stretch of beach.

To find clams, you search the intertidal sand for ‘show’ — a dimple, small mound, or hole in the sand.  Dig with your shovel or the clam gun to find your prize.  Razor clams can be fast, so you have to be faster.  Sometimes you have to drop to your knees and thrust your hand in the hole, scooping sand like mad to get that sucker.  The closer you are to the water, the softer the sand and easier the digging.  However, the closer you are to the water, the wetter you will get — the waves just keep coming.

You always have to keep an eye on the wave action.  In addition to the all-important safety factor in that, there’s also the practical angle.  Early on, I had set down the buckets near where we dug; a particularly sneaky wave caught me by surprise and knocked over my buckets, sending four happy clams to their freedom.  My tally of 8 had just been reduced by half.  I was able to recover one, but the rest slipped away.  Lesson learned.  I kept hold of those buckets for the rest of the time we were walking the surf.  Many diggers use net bags they tie to their waists; I think we’ll use those next time.

After a couple hours, we each had fifteen clams; most were good sized, with a few smaller ones.  The regulations state that you keep the first fifteen you dig, so they’re bound to be of varying size.  Sometimes you accidentally crunch them with your shovel or clam gun; you take those, too.  They all taste good!

Sunday morning’s dig went faster, but my great idea of wearing boots and rolling up my pant legs only worked until the first good-sized wave filled the boots and soaked me to mid-thigh. pour out the bootI sloshed around for the duration, and when we got back to the truck, Mr. Stuck helped me change into dry socks and shoes.

Well, that was fun.  But now that we had our goodies, we had to open and clean them.  Like many other delicacies, razor clams take a lot of preparation.

We dunk ours in very hot water for a few seconds until their shells pop open, and then they are immediately moved to a cold water bath to keep from cooking the flesh.

 

Removing shell

With the shells gone, the tip of the neck is snipped off and the body is slit from neck to foot.

Cleaning clams

Gills and palpsThen the gills and palps (mouth parts) are removed, the stomach is removed, the digger is slit and cleaned, and with a final rinse, the clam is ready to cook.

cleaned and ready

This can be a long and arduous process; Mr. Stuck deserves a medal for cleaning every last one of those 60 clams!

I had a great time.  Mentally, I had prepared myself for the worst — heavy rain and wind, cold, sand in everything — but it was so much better than that!  The weather was nicer than we’d hoped, the clams were big and plentiful, and now I have a bounty for frying and for chowder.

Fried clams

Apparently, I need to say yes more often.

 

 

 

http://jeangodden.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/1_Ivar_bw.jpg
*Hat tip to Ivar Haglund, a Seattle legend.  Ivar founded his namesake restaurant and coined its motto, “Keep Clam.”  Photo credit: jeangodden.com

 

It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week! Feb 10-16, 2014 #RAKweek

kindness

I love to do little things for people ‘just because’. It’s how I was raised.

It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week — let’s turn our thoughts into actions! I know you guys can think of something to do to participate!  I didn’t know there was a designated week for this, so I’m a little late on this post, but I think it’s great.  Check it out here:

Random Acts of Kindness Week!

I’ve talked before about my mother sewing for the nursing home residents with her ladies’ group; doing nice things for other people just for the sake of doing them was ingrained in me from an early age.  I remember Mother saying I was ‘earning jewels for my crown.’

I’ve bought meals and coffees for people I didn’t know, fed parking meters (before I knew it was illegal — oops!), held open doors, allowed people in front of me in line at the store, carried things for people who were overloaded — nothing big and life-changing, nothing for recognition, but small kindnesses, just the same.  I like to think my kids have grown up understanding why I do these things, and I hope they will do the same when opportunity presents itself.

Our family has ‘adopted’ our elderly neighbor, Harvey, who is a widower who lives alone.  He’s a great guy with a lot of fun stories and a wicked sense of humor, and I love to bring him soups and stew and other treats if I’m not having him over for dinner.  We look after each other, and that’s how it ought to be.

Perhaps Random Acts of Kindness Week can help inspire those who want to do something but aren’t sure how.  Their website has suggestions and some great, uplifting RAK reader submissions.  They ask you to tag your kindness posts on social media with #RAKweek so they can see them and post some on their site.

Tell me your stories!  I love inspiration!

 

 

photo credit: SweetOnVeg

 

Adjustments.

I used to say that I intended to go out of this life with the same stuff God gave me coming in: I still had tonsils, appendix, gall bladder, adenoids and reproductive organs.  Well, I still have all of those, but I exchanged my hips a few years back for a new, aftermarket set made of gleaming titanium.  So I guess I can’t say that anymore.  And in another week, I’ll give away something else: most of my stomach.

Next week, I’ll undergo the procedure known as a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG), or ‘sleeve,’ in which a large portion of my stomach will be laparoscopically removed.

Image: Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy
http://www.virginiamason.org/SleeveGastrectomy

The decision was a long time in coming.  Despite a lifetime of being overweight and dieting, I had never considered surgery as a way to lose weight before a few years ago.  At that time, I had only considered restrictive gastric banding.  More recently, several friends and family members underwent bariatric surgery, and as I saw their results and spoke with them more, I began thinking it might be my best hope to return to a healthy weight.  Mr. Stuck had already been working toward his own surgery and healthy weight goal, so I had the added benefit of involvement with his process, too.

I did my ‘due diligence’ and read up on the types of surgeries available; who would benefit from what type; what co-morbidities would likely improve after surgery; risks and benefits; and long-term results.  I joined an online chat group to read real stories and questions.  I spoke with my doctor, who was enthusiastically supportive.  And so I made the decision to work my way through the prerequisites for surgery.

To have this surgery, I have had a psychological examination, sleep study, blood work, EKG, barium swallow, and 6 months of dietary oversight by a nutritionist (in which I lost 30 lbs).  I found out that I am an otherwise healthy obese person who has sleep apnea, but I don’t have elevated blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.  Contrary to popular belief, I am psychologically normal (who knew?).  I have a hiatal hernia, which means my stomach bulges up through my diaphragm, but I’ve never had more than mild symptoms from it.  Right now I am in the pre-surgery diet phase of two protein shakes and one light meal per day.  The day before the procedure will be full liquids.

Although I am healthy now, there are no guarantees I will remain so, especially given a familial history of cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure; and really, obesity increases my risk of everything.  I need to lose the weight to decrease that risk.  But I also hope that losing the amount of weight that I need to will also improve my health by improving my quality of life issues like arthritis, sleep problems, and general aches and pains.

There will be a lot of adjustments to make following the surgery, but I am committed.  Where I used to think that surgery was the ‘easy way out’ for weight loss as opposed to the blood, sweat and tears of dieting, exercise and discipline, I now know that it’s not ‘either-or.’  I will have the surgery and I will also diet, exercise, and discipline myself to change my relationship with food.  But I will have the tool of surgery to help me.

You could say that life is basically a series of adjustments, from the womb to the outside world; from a child to an adult; and from a single person to a couple or family, perhaps.  Some adjustments are easy, some are voluntary, and some are life-changing.  This one is has a little of all of that, and more.  I will be adjusting from obesity to health.

I don’t intend to bore you all with “I lost 3 more lbs!” posts.  I will write about it, yes, but maybe just to tell you about my flying-squirrel arm flaps or my hair falling out.  I may crow a bit when I’ve reached a milestone, and I may whine when I mourn for the Bubba Burgers of my past (I confess, I am addicted to cheeseburgers), but I won’t subject you to much of it, I promise.  And I won’t use the terms ‘fat shaming’ or ‘body shaming’ because I detest them.  But I will share with you some of the lessons I’m learning on my way to a healthy life.

I will never be thin, but I do hope to cross my legs again someday.
And sit on the floor and get back up again.
And sit comfortably on a plane.
And wear Spandex to Walmart.

juuust kidding.

 

 

 photo credit thenext28days and MotiveWeight

Fluency.

I lay in bed last night, thinking.  I was thinking about people who are fluent in more than one language.  Actually, I was imagining being a polyglot — a person who is fluent in multiple languages.  I love to think about reading, writing, and speaking several languages; I would want to read the great classics in their original forms and travel the world and talk to people everywhere!  I could sit in a theater and watch any foreign-language film without subtitles.  I would understand the bits and pieces of conversations around me wherever I went.

English has borrowed elements of many other languages, expressing ideas or concepts that we have no words for, or that seem better said in their native tongue.  We all know some of them: schadenfreude, pleasure derived from others’ misfortunes; bona fide, authentic; carte blanche, unrestricted power to act on one’s own; and hoi polloi, the common folk, just to name a few.  I’ve browsed the net looking for that kind of word, and I’ve found a few more that perhaps should be borrowed:

  1. Yuputka, from the Honduran/Nicaraguan Ulwa language, is the false sensation of something crawling on your skin.  Eww.
  2. Pana Po’o, which comes to us from the Hawaiian language, describes the act of scratching your head while trying to remember something.
  3. Zeg is the word the Georgians use for ‘the day after tomorrow.’  We need this word!
  4. Boketto, according to the Japanese, is staring vacantly into the distance; I do this a lot.
  5. Kummerspeck, literally, grief bacon, describes the extra pounds you gain from emotional eating.  Leave it to the Germans to have a word for this!

But it’s not just a word game; each language has its own syntax, cadence, tonality, and structure; while there is overlap with many languages, there are also areas where there are no commonalities.  For example, certain African languages incorporate clicks; the first time I had ever heard of that was when I saw The Gods Must Be Crazy. (Fun movie, by the way.)  The people of Kuskoy, a village in Turkey, still communicate by whistling, as do the inhabitants of La Gomera in the Canary Islands.  These sounds are so foreign to my ears.

I don’t really have a point to make here; I just find multilingualism quite fascinating.  I took a couple years of French in high school and another year of it in college, but I’m in no way fluent.  I was glad to be able to remember some of it when I was in Paris, enough to find my way in the Metro and be able to ask the time and where the bathrooms were.

But I did have a bit of difficulty trying to ask the waiter if they had pickles for my son’s hamburger.  (I later asked our tour guide, Franc, the word for pickle, and he had to think about it awhile, then came up with “cornichon.”)

Here are some examples of polyglots and hyperpolyglots:
Tim Doner (and his Facebook page)
Jose
Benny and Moses
Mustafa
Emanuele

Fun stuff!!

photo credit: woodleywonderworks

Unintended Consequences.

I started to write a post about how my life with hearing devices is going (and I was on a roll) when I looked something up online that pointed me in a slightly different, but more interesting, direction…

While researching a condition called Hyperacusis, where a sensitivity to certain sounds (also called a lowered Loudness Discomfort Level, or LDL) causes discomfort or pain, I discovered something:  I have a set of symptoms that correspond to a recently discovered (well, around 2000 or so) neurological disorder called Misophonia, or Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome (4S).  I’ve had these symptoms for many years – so long that I can no longer recall a time I didn’t experience them.  When I hear certain sounds, I get an immediate, irrational, extreme fight-or-flight reaction: rage, panic, severe anxiety, hate, and disgust…over something as simple as someone whistling or clicking a pen.  Sometimes even visual stimuli can cause the same reaction as auditory triggers.

While we all have certain sounds that bother us, this isn’t like that.  This is a reflex; I can’t stop it from happening, nor can I control it.  My stomach tightens, my heart pounds, I feel provoked to fist-shaking anger, and I cannot ignore the sound.  It is so distracting to me that it becomes my sole focus.  My best bet would be to avoid the stimuli (‘triggers’) that cause the problem, but that is not always possible; in fact, it is rarely possible, especially in a work or social environment.  

Every day is an opportunity for trigger sounds, in every environment.  I go to a meeting, and someone is absentmindedly clicking his pen.  I go to the store, and the teenager in front of me in line is snapping her gum.  I go to the movie theater, and the people behind me drive me crazy with the wrapper on their snacks.  As much as I try to keep my emotion in check when it happens, I usually fail miserably and end up glaring at the person making the sound.  Most of the time, the person doesn’t even realize they’re doing it and has no way of knowing how violently it affects me. I feel guilty and embarrassed to have such strong reactions to such innocuous noises, and I know that it makes me seem cranky or bitchy, but I can’t help it.  

When I was young, my mother’s whistling spurred me to inexplicable anger every time I heard it – it was as if she had provoked me to fight.  She couldn’t understand it, and I couldn’t explain it. Whistling was something my very musical mother truly enjoyed, and she did it without thinking.  If I could, I’d go somewhere else, but that wasn’t always possible.  She tried to comply when I’d ask (or angrily tell) her to stop, but it made no sense.  To this day, I loathe the sound of whistling.  Likewise, the sound of chewing gum, especially with ‘snapping’ or ‘cracking’ noises, sends me into orbit; for that reason, I have always told my kids that if they have gum, I don’t want to see it or hear it.  

Through my (limited) online research, I discovered that I am not alone in this affliction. While it is not an official mental disorder, it is a defined set of symptoms and has been suggested for classification as a discrete psychiatric disorder in the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) spectrum, for the purpose of official diagnoses and treatments as well as better recognition and research by the professional medical community.  It was first identified in the research and treatment of tinnitus.  It is neither a result nor factor in hearing loss; rather, it seems to relate to the limbic system, the structure of the brain that controls emotion and behavior.  A small number of studies and reviews have been conducted, but research seems to suggest that misophonia may be a result of dysfunction in the same cortices of the brain where Tourette’s is also indicated.  There is also data to suggest it might be a form of Synesthesia, a neurological condition where stimulus to one sense gets not only the correct response in that sense, but a simultaneous reaction in another sense; for example, some people ‘hear’ colors or ‘taste’ sounds.

I am thrilled that there is a name for what I have suffered with for most of my life.  I don’t know where it came from or whether I will ever find relief, but it is good to know that my wildly disproportionate reaction to certain sounds is not a result of me being unreasonable and bitchy.  It is not because I am in a bad mood.  It is not because I am controlling, selfish, angry, judgmental, or annoying — although I might well be all of those, they are not the reasons why I might throw you out the window if you decide to chew ice or crack peanuts next to me.

Just sayin’.

 

photo credit timparkinson

Crabby.

photo credit KaCey97007

I am a Puget Sound native.  I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been born here.  In my little corner of the world, we have both fresh and salt water, which means fish and shellfish nirvana.  Last weekend, Mr. Stuck and I decided to go crabbing.  This would be our second trip out so far this season; the first time, we caught a flounder, a sea star, jellyfish, and several tiny crabs, but nothing we could bring home.  We were hoping that we’d fare better this time out, because we were hankering for fresh crab.

The weather was perfect as we set out on Saturday.  The sun was shining, the sky was completely cloudless, and the water was calm.  We decided to launch our boat at a marina about 30 miles from home, which was the closest site to where we wanted to drop our pots.  We had planned on an earlier departure, but it worked out fine anyway.  Some friends were at the marina, so we talked to them for a few minutes, and then set out.

Heading back.
The marina.

I love being out on the boat.  Mr. Stuck can tell you I’m not much of an outdoorsy gal, but I do love to be on the water.  I love crabbing and shrimping!   So, for those of you who have never been crabbing, I thought I’d give you a small glimpse.  If your only exposure to crabbing is Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, take heart — even a non-fisherman, like me, can catch crab!  (Besides, they’re in Alaska looking for King Crab.  That’s a whole different ball game.)

Crab pots are basically small cages with bait inside.  (On Deadliest Catch, they’re big, 700-lb cages.) There are openings big enough for a crab to get in but too small for them to get out.  We were looking for Dungeness crab, which is native to the west coast of North America.  We could also harvest Red Rock crab, but they are smaller and have less meat, so we normally release them.

Left, Dungeness.  Right, Red Rock.
Left, Dungeness. Right, Red Rock.
You can see how the claws are different, too.
You can see how the claws are different, too.

Dungeness crab are prized for their sweet meat, and adults measure about 7-8 inches across the carapace, or shell.  They eat clams, small fish, and other small crustaceans, but what they really like, and what we use in our pots, is raw chicken.

There are many rules and regulations for harvesting fish and shellfish in our waters; and there are times when harvests are prohibited due to marine biotoxins, which can kill you if you eat tainted shellfish.  You must be licensed and carry a catch record, which you must fill out with each day’s harvest.  Daily limit is five keepers, which must be male and a minimum of 6.25 inches across the shell; any females or undersized crab must be released.  Also, because crabs molt (shed their shells) as they grow, you must check to see if the crabs’ shells are soft.  If they are, those crabs must be released.

Dungeness male.
Dungeness male.
Dungeness female.
Dungeness female.

We cruised at a casual pace until we reached our site, and we saw many other pots in the area.  Each pot must have its own buoy line and buoy, and each buoy must be marked with your name and address.  Two pots are allowed per person, so we were able to drop four pots.  Mr. Stuck has rigged our buoys for ease of identification and pickup, so they are always easy for us to spot among everyone else’s.  He filled the bait bags inside the pots with the raw chicken parts, and dropped the pots, one by one, in somewhat of a row.

Crabs LOVE chicken.
Crabs LOVE chicken.

After setting the pots, we motored to a place where we could throw a couple of lines in the water and see if the salmon were interested. (They weren’t.)  Then we settled in for lunch, which consisted of salads from Subway and a big container of chunks of sweet, juicy watermelon.  Yum!

Yum!
Yum!

There is no better place for a picnic lunch than in a boat on a sunny day, in my opinion.  We rocked gently with the wakes of other boats lapping the hull, watched the pilot whales (dolphins) surface, and heard the beckoning calls of the gulls flapping overhead.  On a typical outing we might see cormorants, Great Blue Herons, seals, ospreys, and eagles, as well.  As we relaxed and fished, we saw a barge and tug;

Barge and tug.
Barge and tug.

the Clipper, a high-speed catamaran ferry that travels from Seattle, WA to Victoria, British Columbia;

The Victoria Clipper
The Victoria Clipper

and, off in the distance, a container (cargo) ship.  We saw a cruise ship, too, but it was even farther away than the cargo ship had been.

Container ship.
Container ship

Soon it was time to check the pots.  They’d only been soaking for a couple of hours, but we were anxious to see if we’d had any luck.  Mr. Stuck said the first pot felt heavy, and it was.  He emptied the contents onto the boat deck for sorting.

Sorting out the keepers.
Sorting out the keepers.

Three keepers in the first pot and six in the next!  Mr. Stuck re-baited and set the pots in the same spot.  The other two pots had fewer, smaller crab, and none were keepers.  He re-baited those and set them closer to where the first two were.  The pots would soak overnight and we’d check them the next day.  I really enjoyed the scenic ride back; we tied up in guest moorage and went home with our catch.

The sunset was glorious over the calm water.

Saturday sunset.
Saturday sunset.

Sunday was just as nice as Saturday had been.  A Great Blue Heron greeted us at the marina.

Silent sentry.
Silent sentry.

Once again, we got a later start than we had planned, but we got out on the water with no problems.  We motored out to where the pots were, passing many lovely waterfront homes on the way.  There is one in particular that I love to look at; it sits out on a point, with lovely, low bank waterfront and a sandy beach.  A little way down the beach is their outdoor fireplace/barbecue; it makes me think of moonlit beach parties on warm summer nights.

Wouldn't you love to live here?  I would.
Wouldn’t you love to live here? I would.

Sunday’s catch was just as good as Saturday’s, too; we limited right away, and the other crabs in the pots were females or too small to keep.  One of the females had skeins of eggs, which I had not seen before.

This female has eggs!
This female has eggs!

It was another beautiful evening as we came into the marina; the moon was full and on the rise.

Full moon over the marina.
Full moon over the marina.

Because we’d had such great luck this weekend, we decided to share the wealth.  Recently, my sister had made some fresh berry jam, and we thought perhaps she’d like to barter.  I had called her up and made the offer the night before, and she was agreeable to it. 

I think it was a win-win situation; we came home with wonderful jam, and she went home with fresh crab.

The crab-jam exchange!  Win-win!
The crab-jam exchange! Win-win!

I love my home.

Interro-what‽

punctuation

“…punctuation marks are the traffic signals of language: they tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour, and stop.”
~Lynn Truss

My hat is off to Martin K. Speckter (June 14, 1915 – February 14, 1988) even though he is no longer with us.  Mr. Speckter is the inventor of the little-used, and even littler-known, punctuation mark called the Interrobang. An interrobang is a combination of a question mark and an exclamation point and it looks like this:

The underappreciated interrobang.
The underappreciated interrobang.

In 1962, Mr. Speckter, who ran an ad agency, believed that advertising would be improved with the use of rhetorical questions and surprise, which were denoted by the use of the question mark and exclamation point together, much as we do today.  As editor of TYPEtalks magazine, he was in a great position to write an article suggesting the adoption of a single punctuation mark for that purpose. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know), Speckter solicited name ideas from readers, eventually choosing from entries like ‘exclarotive,’ ‘exclamaquest,’ and ‘rhet.’ He settled on interrobang, because it alluded to the punctuation marks it came from: interrogatio is Latin for ‘an inquiry’ and bang is printers’ jargon for the exclamation mark.

The lowly interrobang serves the unique purpose of punctuating those comments that express incredulity (“You’re wearing that‽”), surprise (“You’re pregnant‽”), or disbelief (“Really‽”), or punctuates a rhetorical question (“What were they thinking‽”).  Normally, when we write those kinds of sentences, we tend to use both a question mark and an exclamation point to convey the mix of question and exclamation, or, if we tend toward the exaggerated, an alternating string of those marks. Like using multiple exclamation points or question marks, the alternating string is not for formal writing.  It is considered poor style and is only used casually.  Enter the interrobang — one mark is all you need!

Except that Speckter never managed to push the interrobang into the mainstream.  It was featured in the ‘Americana’ typeface, and you could get a typewriter with an interrobang key at one point, but after the 1960’s, the honeymoon was over.  You can still find it in some character sets, like the Calibri font set, but it is definitely a non-standard mark.  Obscure, if you will.

I think the interrobang needs a resurgence — a revival.  We need to use it!  When neither a question mark nor exclamation point — nor both — quite fit, the interrobang hits the spot.  Like a cold beer on a hot day, it just works.  Don’t ask why.

The RCC — Because Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. (Plus Bonus!)

romeconstructioncrew-sep

This post is long past due — my apologies to the rest of the crew.

The Rome Construction Crew, or RCC, is the delightful brainchild of Bradley, whose blog, Green Embers, is full of his writing, his drawings, and his humor.
He says:

Being a member of the Rome Construction Crew is about working on ourselves and to always be improving who we are.
Many people have different things they want to accomplish, write the next great novel, learn to be a master chef, helping those closest to them learn to love, finish school, get a job and many other things.
What the Rome Construction Crew is for is to help encourage YOU to accomplish YOUR goals!

The folks in the Crew are very supportive and full of encouragement and ideas.  I joined them to help me with my blogging and my discipline.
Here is the list of members and their blogs.  There are some very talented people out there — go check them out and show them some love!

BONUS — Charles of Legends of Windemere is offering a free e-book this weekend!  Click for details!

Versatile Blogger Award

Kira from Wrestling Life has graciously awarded me this Versatile Blogger Award.  Her blog is the day-to-day of recovery and gratitude.  Go there and show her some support!

Versatile Blogger Award

Part of this award is listing 7 things about myself:

  1. I love war movies and prison movies.  (Saving Private Ryan and The Shawshank Redemption are at the top, but Papillon, Patton, and anything with John Wayne in it are right up there.)
  2. I went to Paris a few years ago and would love to go back.
  3. My favorite sandwich is a Reuben.
  4. I have one tattoo.
  5. I don’t have a sweet tooth, unless you wave dark chocolate under my nose.
  6. I used to play flute and piccolo in my high school marching band.
  7. I quit smoking 7 1/2 years ago with hypnotherapy.  Best thing ever!

I’m also supposed to pass the award along to 15 bloggers I like.  Since I’m new to the blogging world, I haven’t even seen 15 blogs yet…so I’ll have to finish up this part in a few days. 😉
Thanks, Kira, for something fun to do and something new to put on my blog!