What I Meant (This Time).

Traveled hard.

No, not on roads:

On shrugged promises
Worn ragged with worry.

On disquieting dreams
Whose occupants have long faded.

On bitter regret
Too painful to forgive.


Perhaps hopeless,
But not without hope.
– RLP 7-27-14


 photo credit andronicusmax


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!


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.

Help! Help!

help me

Having dinner last night with friends, and Mr. Stuck declares that on Saturday night, I must have been having a bad dream, because I was yelling, “Help! Help!” in my sleep.  I don’t remember doing it, and I don’t remember the dream, thankfully.  When I yell like that, I’m normally struggling or fighting against the dream, and the yell comes out despite the strangling paralysis of sleep.

Mr. Stuck says, “It’s not a good way to wake up, let me tell you.”

I was afraid of this.  Opening that journal opened up the corresponding emotions that had settled like silt on the floor of my heart.  Now they are stirred up, and God only knows what will come of that.

photo credit UmmZ

Tossing and Turning: Dreaming is Hard Work.

Like a Bad Dream

The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to their dream.
~Joan Didion


I don’t know about anyone else, but I dream a lot.  All the time.

Many years ago, when I was a teen, my friend Jon suggested I keep a pad of paper next to the bed so I could write my dreams down immediately after I woke.  Eventually I got so practiced at it that I could barely wake, not even open my eyes, and jot down words and phrases that would evoke the dream later.  For years, I faithfully wrote down my dreams.  Most were odd, at least in comparison to Mr. Stuck’s, which are usually about hunting or fishing or something normal.  Nightmares were infrequent and most often the result of a television show or movie I had watched.

As expected, when my life went sideways, so did my dreams.  I was miserable and shattered during the day, and I began having nightmares nearly every night.  I dreamed that certain family members would die in spectacularly gruesome fashions.  I dreamed that I saw my grandfather tumble down some cellar stairs to his death.  I dreamed that I had blood on my hands as I rubbed my face, but when I looked in the mirror there was no blood.  My therapist, who used the Jungian style of analysis and dream interpretation, would discuss my dreams and nightmares with me quite frequently and ascribe them to the ‘mind work’ my brain was doing while I slept.  My dreams were manifestations of my subconscious struggles.

Right or wrong, I must admit that many of my dreams certainly seemed to be exactly that.

Those few that weren’t nightmares were often strange dreams of futility.  One dream was that my siblings and I were trying to raise my mother’s chair to get her in and out easier.  The others were using plastic plant pots, magazines and old cardboard boxes, but I used a stool and it worked.  In another dream, my mother and sister were walking arm in arm, just a few feet from me.  They didn’t see me at all, and they didn’t hear me when I yelled out to them.  I would say that most of the ‘good’ dreams had a theme of vehicles or a journey of some kind.  I was on the move — by ferry, by motorcycle, by bus, by plane.

Apparently, I was going somewhere, but in my dreams, I never knew where.  They always seemed to have an element of peril; I was lost, or falling overboard, or being chased, or stumbling into a scary situation.  I came to think of these dreams as my path through the fire.  I wrote down those I remembered and tried to make sense of them.

I have to keep moving, I thought.

The nightmares continued for weeks, then months, with similar frequency.  I would stay awake as long as possible so that I didn’t have to go to sleep and have another nightmare.  I would keep Mr. Stuck awake by talking, crying, and shouting in my sleep.  When it got to be too much, I went to the doctor for sleeping pills.  When I took them, I slept so hard that I didn’t dream, or if I did, I didn’t recall them, thankfully.  The pills left me groggy, so I reserved them for weekends only.

Rest was non-existent.  Sleep was merely a way to pass the hours of the night. Either I tossed and turned restlessly and woke in terror without the pills, or I was passed out cold for 8 hours and woke dazed with them.  But no rest.  I would wake up drenched in sour sweat.  The stress level was so high that I was always on edge.  It felt as if I was on the rim of an abyss with a mad compulsion to step off.

I wondered if this is what it felt like to go crazy.  I had known people from work who seemed to be a little ‘off,’ and some would talk to themselves or hear voices.  Was this what was happening to me?  I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t rest.  I was exhausted all the time, and not sleeping was not helping.  I felt leaden; everything was heavy.  My brain felt heavy, too.

I missed a lot of work during those days.  I felt as if I existed in a place between living and dead, asleep and awake.  It took a couple years for my nightmares to subside; they never really went away, but they came less and less frequently and they were more subdued.  I think it was important for me to go through that period; I do believe that those dreams came from whatever my psyche was working through at the time.

Looking back at the dreams I jotted down, I can see the journey I was on.

photo credit Keoni Cabral


Dreamer of Dreams


We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

From Ode, by Arthur O’Shaughnessy  1874

I have always liked that line, ‘We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.’ You might recognize it from 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, spoken by Gene Wilder in the ‘lickable wallpaper’ scene.  (“The snozzberries taste like snozzberries!”)

I don’t know if anyone knows or remembers anything else Mr. O’Shaughnessy wrote, but that one line is forever.

Speaking of dreams – my baby blog has been received well in its first month.  I am proud to say that only a few of my subscribers are related to me!  Thank you to my subscribers and my casual readers.  It has long been my dream to write something — a story, a song, a book — and have it published.  I’ve heard, “When will I see your name in print?” over the years, but as much as I have wanted that, I’ve never been brave enough to take the first steps on that journey.  Yes, I have published poetry in my college literary journal, and yes, I have written a few songs.  But I always felt those were flukes, accidental successes I could not replicate. I hope I was wrong.

Now that I have a blog, I feel like the Tin Man oiling up those rusty joints.  They’re squeaking, but they’re moving.  Nobody can do this for me.

I am the music maker.  I am the dreamer of dreams.

(photo credit kevin dooley)