Monthly Archives: February 2013

Sounds Kind of Fishy to Me…

Cape Hatteras Light, 2005

Cape Hatteras Light, 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I think back to my most fond memories, I would have to say they involve a rod and reel and a young man twenty-eight years my junior, my son Eric.

We would make a yearly (and occasionally bi-annually) sojourn to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, namely the island of Cape Hatteras. Not only would these trips include serious hours of not catching fish, but soon became gourmet outings also.

We would rent a motel for a long weekend. The one we normally chose had a front porch that would enable us to grill. We would stop by the store and purchase enough food for a specific dinner each night. Lunch would be simple, usually hummus, tapenade and chips and we would seek out a local restaurant for breakfast.

Here’s how a typical day would begin: We would sleep until we decided to get up. No alarm clocks allowed. Then it was off to the restaurant for multiple cups of coffee and wonderfully greasy eggs, assorted breakfast meats, hash browns and possibly a pancake or two. Then back to the motel for some serious reconnaissance.

We would walk to the shore and check out the conditions, then return to the motel to suit up and gather together our gear. Once we were armed with chest-waders, sand spikes, fish-finder rigs and numerous other tools of the trade, we staked our claim on the beach.

After our base camp was established (sand chairs, sand spikes and a cooler), we would retrieve our chunks of bunker we used for bait. We then employed pre-tied, homemade fish-finder rigs, affixed them to the line, attached a sinker and threaded the bait to a circle hook.

Once we surveyed the surf and determined where the troughs were in between sandbars, normally a 100-yard cast or so would be sufficient. Now it was time to wait. We would pass the time by watching the calming waves, talking about anything that entered our minds or even reading a book.

Occasionally, the rod would bend double and we knew the chase was on. Depending on the species, it was usually no more than a 20 to 30 minute fight. Sometimes, a youngster would take a nibble and a 45 second fight would ensue.

At the end of the day, we would take our catch, clean it, bag it in water to prevent freezer burn and then toss it into the freezer.

That night, we would prepare a gourmet dinner, find something good to watch on TV, and eventually go to sleep and ready ourselves for the next day’s hunt.

A weekend was never enough. It had to be a long weekend (Friday to Monday) and occasionally we’d slip in an additional day if possible.

Catching fish is probably my favorite past-time. But that’s not what these trips were about. They were about a father and a son spending true quality time together. A child is a gift from God that is to be treasured, nurtured, corrected when necessary, but most of all loved.

My son is my pride and joy and a wonderful blessing in my life. And oh yeah, it was on one of these trips that he suggested I try my hand at creative writing.

So just remember: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll sit out in a boat and drink beer.

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Consider the Television Ad….I’d Just Soon Not. It Gives Me a Headache

no-cable-tv

no-cable-tv (Photo credit: hjl)

Commercials–we love them; we loathe them; we laugh at them; we stare, mouth agape, wondering what many of them are about…some even watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials.

The networks and cable stations use them to pay for their programming, which seems kind of odd to me. The networks I understand, but we already pay for the cable stations. Hmm…I wonder why we don’t mind paying twice?

Commercials even tell us what holiday to celebrate. Around August, we know that Halloween is only two short months away. Before Halloween can come and go, Thanksgiving ads slide across the flat screen reminding us to purchase the turkey and all of the trimmings. Before we inhale our first bite of turkey, we know that Santa Claus will soon be on his way.

I think my least favorite commercials, as far as holidays go, are Valentine’s Day. We learn that it’s okay to spend thousands of dollars on those carbon based stones that are formed under thousands of years of pressure from a simple piece of coal. In fact, these objects, according to what we are told, are a girl’s best friend.

If you look at it on a daily basis, you will find that commercials pretty much tell us everything we need to know to live our lives. They tell us what to eat, what to wear, how to wash, where to work, what to drive, who to marry (even though it’s not necessary these days), how to handle our finances, what to do in order to retire comfortably, provide our families with life insurance protection and how much it will cost to take a dirt nap.

Some companies employ advertising agencies that come up with such ridiculous ideas they dissuade you from purchasing the product. Of course, the company doesn’t have to accept the agency’s proposal…That’s one I’ll let you figure out.

There are three commercials in particular that deserve special mention. The first one says that if we eat French fries in the morning, it will change the world. The second one says that if we eat local, fresh food, we can change the world. The third one states that we will change the world one pet at a time. Now correct me if I’m wrong. I love French fries but have been told (by these same commercials I might add) that fried foods are bad for my arteries. As far as fresh local food, it’s good for your body as long as you don’t fry it. And as far as changing the world one pet at a time, I don’t believe I’ll waste the ink making a comment on that particular statement.

Whether you’re beginning a new manuscript, in the middle, or bringing it to a conclusion, be certain to keep it clear and concise unlike the chaotic world we all know, love, and hate as the commercial.

Now excuse me I’ve got cookies baking in my tree out back, the elves are on strike, and I wouldn’t want them to burn.

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What Could Smell Better than a Freshly Bathed Baby?

infant

infant (Photo credit: soupboy)

I was recently blessed with my first grandchild. He is now eight months old, bright, jovial and a pure joy to have around. His smile could bring a strong man to his knees. However, amid all the niceties, a conundrum rears its ugly head.I have always assumed, and rightly so, that when the statement “slept like a baby” is used, it means that one enjoyed a good night’s rest. I think the person that coined this phrase suffered from severe narcolepsy and was never awake to see the reality of his statement.

In truth, if someone asks you how you slept, and you respond “Like a baby!” it means you were up every two hours for at least thirty minutes at a time. You probably didn’t get in bed until after 11 p.m. and you were up in the morning by 5 a.m.

I’ll give you parents with newborns a moment to ponder the statement before I proceed.

Since we’re on the subject of babies, let’s explore another popular statement: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” The most accepted explanation behind this saying goes that long before immersive baths were considered an important daily routine, one family shared a single basin full of hot water, starting with the father. By the time the baby’s turn came around, the water was so polluted with grime there was a fear of losing the infant in the filthy bath.

In actuality, this phrase is German in origin and is purely metaphorical. It is used to caution one against undoing or destroying the entirety of something due to a single imperfection.

I have saved the most difficult for last. “Smooth as a baby’s bottom” and “easy as taking candy from a baby.” As we delve deeper into these most challenging sayings, we find that “smooth as a baby’s bottom” is used because a baby’s bottom is smooth. Likewise, “easy as taking candy from a baby” is used because taking candy from a baby is easy.

As we wind down our journey through these time-honored sayings, for once I don’t plan to tie them back to my writing. I will, however, wonder how so many different authorities with different ideas all writing books about raising children can be right. The more I think about this, the more my headache grows.

I think I’ll just go snuggle my grandson some more.

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For Once, Just Leave it Alone and Eat it

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables (Photo credit: nutrilover)

 

Food. We fork it off our plate or pick it up with our fingers, insert it into our mouths, masticate, swallow and repeat. Food. Necessary for survival and in most cases, it brings great enjoyment. During the summer months, we look forward to the fruits and vegetables at produce stands, backyard gardens and pots sitting on decks and window boxes, all displaying fresh wares.

 

We see cattle grazing on the tender shoots of grass, chickens running through yards, plucking out June bugs on the wing, and luscious walking-pork chops wallowing in the cool mud.

 

Artisan bakers producing loaves of bread, baguettes, croissants and all matter of baked goods.

 

Artisan cheese makers drawing the milk, adding the rennet, separating the curds from the whey, compressing the curds (depending on the type of cheese), adding salt and aging the cheese for months and gently turning it until it reaches optimum quality.

 

All these things I have mentioned are part of the wonderful bounty we have before us on which to dine.

 

I have but one question to ask: Why then do we choose to eat a 25 cent box of macaroni and cheese?

 

Or instead, we can pull one of the many frozen dinners out of the freezer and nuke it, having dinner on the table in a matter of minutes.

 

What could be better than a fast food burger with a side order of fat-laden potatoes and a drink sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup?

 

A lot, apparently. According to Scientific American, HFCS not only increases the risk of health-related diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, but there is evidence that it actually inhibits the brain’s ability to tell the stomach that it is full. The result? Over-eating and obesity.

 

We’ve taken wonderfully healthy food that our bodies were meant to ingest in order to operate proficiently, and traded it for boxes, cans, and frozen containers of processed crap, all for the sake of convenience.

 

I remember when I penned my first short story. I found myself very impatient and wanting to finish. I took the enjoyment out of writing for the sake of instant gratification. I told myself that I would never be able to write a novel for the very same reason.

 

Luckily, I made an about face. Now, I choose my words carefully and take whatever time is necessary when re-writing and editing. The same philosophy applies to eating.

 

The time it takes to prepare a decent and healthy meal is minimal, considering the benefits you receive. Would you put old, regular gas in a brand new Ferrari? Of course not. Then why load your body up with garbage?

 

I will now return to my re-writes and my cored and slices apple. After all, you know what they say: An apple a day…

 

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