Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More fishing

The Skipper moved the boat to within a hundred yards of the island. We were close enough to see just how rugged this island was. I had camped out here one weekend with the Sea Scouts (I was a Cub Scout at the time) and had done some hiking; it was rough going in every direction.

Being this close to the island meant that the waves were almost absent and there was no wind at all. As we drifted I could see down in the water and spotted some of the bright orange colored Garibaldi that are the official California State Fish. You can only find them around Catalina and at La Jolla Cove.

As the Skipper promised, we soon started catching 'rockfish'. There are 57 different species that qualify as 'Rockfish'. Red Snapper, Rock Cod, White Cod and etc. There is also a chance to catch a big Ling Cod or Black Bass. All of these fish are great for eating and easy to fillet.

There was a commotion on the other side of the boat and we all turned to see what was happening; A fisherman had hooked something big and he was struggling to bring it in. It was a Sheepshead. A very strange looking fish. And as it turned out, a little bit heavier than the Barracuda, making that fisherman the winner of the Jackpot. About $80!

We stopped fishing about 2 in the afternoon and began the long trip back. Catalina is only 26 miles from Los Angeles but the boat barely tops 10 mph. And on the way back the deck hand will clean and fillet the fish that he is allowed to...only if you want him too. His filleting  soon attracted a flock of seagulls that followed us all of the way in, fighting and diving for the scraps that were going overboard. The live bait tank was emptied and that made for a feast for the gulls as well. Some of the fisherman would stand near the stern and throw sardines far into the air and watch the gulls catch them mid-air.

At the end of the day I had enjoyed a great day of fishing and was eager to do it again. And we did this often. Not as often as I might have liked, but certainly enough times to make each trip memorable.

The photo above was 'borrowed' from the internet and is only here to let you see what an odd fish the Sheepshead is. I have no idea as to the identity of the fisherman. I apologize.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Continuing to Fish

Continued from the last post...

The drone of the engine and the rhythm of the waves kept me asleep until there was a sudden change in the engine noise. The engine was just idling and the boat began to pitch as we were no longer pushing through the waves. I sat up and noticed that everyone was rushing out to get their poles. Dad had already rigged our poles up with the necessary tackle on the way out and so I joined him at the rail. It was a gray morning and the sun was barely up. Dad explained that the Skipper had stopped because he had seen the gulls circling over a spot on the ocean and that usually meant baitfish near the surface and that meant that there were bigger fish below them. The Skipper yelled down to us that  he was intending to drift down and over the baitfish and that we should keep our bait about twenty feet down. I grabbed a sardine from the bait tank and hooked it up. I estimated the twenty feet and then waited, expecting to feel that first tug as a fish swallowed my hook. I waited some more. There was a yell from someone up front and it was soon obvious that he had a large fish on. The pole was bent and he was struggling to wind the reel. Then, just like that, the fish was gone. He reeled in and it looked like his line was cut. Then there was another fish hooked up on the other side. Again the fish got away and it looked like that line was cut. There was another hookup just then and this time, after about ten minutes, the fisherman brought in a large Barracuda. That was when the Skipper told everyone to reel in. "We're going to have to leave. There's a lot of Barracuda in here and if you don't have wire leaders you will end up losing your leaders and the fish."

With all of the lines in, the Skipper turned the boat and and we continued on to Catalina. Dad told me that one time he had been out fishing (without me?) and the Skipper had found a school of sardines just like the one we had left. They had just got their lines in the water when, without warning, almost everyone on the boat had a hookup. With big fish! With everyone fighting a fish, he said it was bedlam. That was when the deckhand came running down the length of the boat and cut everyones lines. Then the Skipper put the boat in gear and ran about a hundred yards away from the sardines before shutting it back down.

The Skipper told the passengers that he was sorry about the losses but it turned out that the boat had been sitting over a feeding school of Blue Fin Tuna and he had already used the radio to call a Tuna Clipper and let them know where the school was.

Dad said that once they were safely away from the main body of the school of tuna they were able to fish without the pressure of having everyone hooked up at once. He said that everyone did end up with tuna...but one at a time.

With the sun up, I could see Catalina clearly now and we stopped about a mile away from the Isthmus.  We baited up and dropped our lines. The Skipper said that they had caught Albacore in this spot yesterday and we should keep our bait down around fifty or sixty feet. Now we waited.

During the next few hours the Skipper moved us from one 'good' spot to another and there was never a single bite. All during this time, the deckhand stood above the live bait tank scooping up sardines and throwing them over the side. 'Chumming' in the hopes of drawing in some big fish. We never saw one. At this time, the lone Barracuda was the winner of the Jackpot...but we weren't through fishing yet.

The Skipper then told us that he was going to move us in closer to the island and we should be able to get a limit of rockfish...

I'll add some more to this story next time.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fish story

I love to fish. But, I rarely do it anymore. I think it's because I have so many other things going on in my life. That's not a good excuse but it is the only one I have.

My Dad loved to fish as well and some of my earliest memories are of being wakened at two in the morning to go fishing with him. He would come in to my bedroom and put his hand on my shoulder and I was instantly awake and ready to go. When I was a pre-teen, the destination was a deep sea fishing boat tied up at Norm's Landing at San Pedro in the Los Angeles Harbor. When we arrived at the dock I could hear all the idling engines of the sport fishing fleet  and see the bright deck lights cutting through the ever present fog. I just knew it was going to be a great day! Usually, we would take a Day boat as opposed to a Half Day boat and our usual destination was Catalina Island. Or to the reef that was about halfway to the island.

Once we were on board we had to take our chance on a number dawn out of a hat. That number represented an assigned space on the railing of the boat. At the same time we were asked if we wanted in on 'The Jackpot'. The largest fish caught that day would take all the money in the pot. It was usually just a few dollars to enter and we always put our money in. I don't remember ever winning?

One every one was aboard, the Skipper would back the boat out of the slip and begin a slow journey down the channel. Although it was still quite dark, the port of Los Angeles was busy. There were boats of every size going in all directions and the canning factories were humming. After about ten minutes, the Skipper would slow the engine and we would drift up next to a live bait boat that was anchored in mid channel. There were floating cages all around this boat and they all contained sardines. Lots and lots of sardines! Now the deckhands went to work as they transferred net loads of sardines and dumped them into the live bait well on our boat. It was best to observe this process from a safe distance as silvery scales were flying everywhere! And they stuck to everything they touched.

With a full load of live bait it was time to leave the harbor. The ocean changes dramatically as you abandon the calm waters of the harbor and face the full power of the Pacific. If you were lucky, large 'ground swells' would lift the boat slowly and then slowly drop it back. Over and over. If you were unlucky, you would be greeted by waves that would make the boat shudder as she plowed through them. Now the rise and drop were not at all gentle and you would have to find something to hold onto. The words 'pitch' and 'yaw' took on a new meaning. The railing now seemed to be too low to the deck and I could imagine myself pitching over it easily. I stayed close to the cabin and out of the wind.

Once we knew there was going to be a two or three hour boat ride, all the activity was centered in the cabin. Most these boats had large cabins with a galley and a cook. And there was always a poker game going on at the big table. And my Dad was always right in the middle of it. I watched and tried to understand the game but failed, and after awhile, I would find a corner and put my head down and go to sleep.

I'll return to this trip in a later post...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

'Throw Back Thursday'

I don't know how it started, but in our loose circle of Facebook Friends, there is a weekly event where you post old photos of yourself  or others and it's called Throw Back Thursday. Naturally, you do this on a Thursday...but if you forget, you can always post on Flashback Fridays. Of course.

I was looking through some old photos I had scanned; Kodak Kodachromes. The colors are still great after all these years; sixty six of them to be exact.

The first  photo is of myself and my older sister, plus a puppy and a Boxer named Butch. We are standing in front of our house on Center Street in Manhattan Beach. This house, known always as the 'Brick House' was probably the only brick house in town. It also contained a rarity; a basement. The basement is where my mother had the washing machine and we could talk to her when she was doing the washing by opening the door to the pantry in the kitchen above. There was a screen at the bottom of the pantry that allowed cool air from the basement to keep the potatoes and onions and such at the right temperature.  

You may notice in this photo that I am bare footed. And that I am wearing jeans with long cuffs rolled up. That was pretty much the norm in that town. The holster that I am sporting was what most 9 year olds would be wearing.

The brick house is long gone and Center Street is now named Manhattan Beach Blvd. I presume that the pig farmer that lived behind us at that time has moved on as well.

This second photo shows my older sister, Julie, and my younger sister, Kitty, as they try on Hibiscus hair ornaments. My mother made the matching dresses for them.

The last photo is of my sister Kitty and me. You can see the rolled up cuffs quite clearly here.

Sadly, my sister Julie passed away about 10 years ago. Kitty and I get together as often as we can, though distance keeps us from seeing each other as often as we wish. She lives in AZ and we're in Norcal. We just came back from a shared two week vacation on the Oregon coast and we recalled many memories during that trip. We'll do something like that again in six months or a year from now.

I can't get over how rich and clear the Kodachrome photos are. I scanned them from slides so that may be the secret...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

In the olden days...

I mentioned earlier this month that I was sending a DNA sample to Ancestry dot com so that I can be included in the database they are creating. With any luck at all, I will be informed that my ancestors were good upstanding citizens.

But...as I work on my family tree I find some disturbing things. I've already found that two of my Scottish ancestors address was 'the poor house' in Glasgow. And one more distant grandfather was executed for treason. Then there are the many poor harried grandmothers of mine that had a dozen children or more. It's no wonder that they usually died before they were 60. As I read the names of these distant relatives I can't help but think of how difficult life had to be in the 1700's or earlier. Just look around you and see if there is anything at all in our modern life that existed in that age. I don't think we could survive if we were suddenly transported back to, let's say, 1711.

On a another note; I'm somewhat surprised at some of the other things that I am finding in my family. As I work my way back in time and without doing  lot of strenuous research. (Ancestry dot com charges you for more than basic research) I find that one branch has lead me back to royalty. (King James of Scotland) Now it seems to me that it is highly improbable that I would be related this way. I fully expected my line to vanish with some poor serf. Then another line has brought me to a cousin of Jane Seymour? How can that be? I wonder if this happens to everyone who tries Ancestry for com and it's a gimmick to lead you on and to spend more money to find out more? Nah...I don't think so. I think I may have made a mistake or two...or four. And someday, when I can no longer move about easily, I will spend the money to do the proper research and that will keep me busy and my mind active.

And yet another note; I was walking around the church parking lot today in my role as 'security' and I wandered down to the fence that separates us from the University. There was nothing of interest down there and as I was turning to leave, I looked up into the sky. What in the world was that small white, round, object floating high in the sky? I studied it for awhile and noted that it wasn't moving very much but it was moving slightly back and forth. I'm sure it was not  flying saucer but I am pretty sure it was a drone. I looked back there in about five minutes and it was gone. That was my first drone sighting. Now I will start looking up more often. Who knows how many drones are up there?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


My neurologist asked me to have a brain scan as part of his search as to why I have some balance problems. I went to the local radiology center and had the painless CAT scan, both with contrast and without. I did this just before our vacation and didn't have the results until recently.

The doctor noted that the ventricles in my brain were slightly enlarged and he shared with me the fact that he could not make a diagnosis at this time. But, an enlargement of the ventricles could be a sign of NPH or Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus. The key word is 'could'. He wanted to make sure that I understood that he really doesn't have the whole picture yet and would not make a diagnosis until he does. So, I will have another brain scan in 6 months and then he can compare. This is a condition that is notoriously difficult to diagnose and he wants to make certain before he says yes or no. I'm happy for that as I read that many patients are overlooked and ignored when early detection is vital.

Then he tells me that the symptoms so far could also be a sign of early Parkinson's. (This guy is a bundle of laughs!) I wasn't expecting that but again, I'm glad that he is watching over me. I had heard good things about him and I can now confirm that they are true.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Posterior Vitreous Displacement...that was the diagnosis of my eye surgeon. And not to worry. He did a thorough exam yesterday and did not find a retinal tear. He will exam my eye once more in a months time, just to be certain. And from all I've read, almost everyone has this happen to them as they age. The kicker is that most people never even know it happened. They don't see the black cobweb and black dots that cover your vision. They don't see the sparkling meteors that streak across the periphery of your vision. A lucky few get to see all of the above and become terrified. I was.

He told me that the floaters and cobwebs will clear up over time and the flashes of light will cease as well. He was right, as this morning I can see far better than yesterday. I still find the cobweb, a faded cobweb, floating back across my vision just as I need to see something clearly and that is irritating. But considering the alternatives, I don't mind that much...

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Views

I have a unique view of the world today. I have an eyepatch, ala Blackbeard the Pirate, over my right eye. I was driving to the store the other day when suddenly the asphalt ahead of me seemed to come alive, moving! I focused and I saw that it was the black spots in my vision, hundreds of them and they were all moving! Then a cloud of 'spider webs' settled down into my vision. Oh, great! As soon as I could, I let my wife drive the rest of the way home. I called the surgeon that had done the cataract surgery in that eye  a few years ago and he told me that he thought it was a retinal tear and he would see me today. In the meantime I have put a patch over that eye as that eye seems to become wet if I use it for long. Of course, with a patch over my eye, my depth perception is gone and I drop things when I think I have placed them safely.

Sitting on the counter is a small box that is addressed to Ancestry dot Com and it contains a DNA sample from me. Once in a while Ancestry has a special price on the DNA analysis and this time I decided to try it. I am very eager to find out more about my ancestors and this can answer lots of my questions...but I will have to wait 6 to 8 weeks before I get those answers.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Oregon memories

 You can't have a trip to Oregon without taking some pictures. And so I did. About 300 of them; which I have culled out about half. Here are 6 of them. These are in no particular order... that's the beach at Manzanita Oregon at a low tide.

 Food pictures seem to be all the rage and I have included some. This is my breakfast at the Big Wave Cafe in Manzanita. That's a prime rib hash with two eggs over easy...delicious! We ate dinner at the Big Wave the night before and were so impressed by the food and service that we had to try breakfast. That was a good decision.

 This is a view of the rock formation that stands close to the harbor at Trinidad Oregon. We had lunch in a restaurant that had this view as well as a view of the long pier. Good clam chowder. In fact, we had clam chowder in half a dozen places and they were all good...all different but all good.

 A view from one end of the deck at the house in Manzanita. This was an exceptional house and the view was unequaled...in any direction. We were about 1/4 mile above the beach and we could clearly hear the waves breaking on the shore below.

 This is the beach at Bandon Oregon. The fog bank seen just offshore would come in briefly and then retreat. Only to repeat this many times during the day. Only at night would the fog remain onshore.

A view from the front porch at the Bandon house. The ocean is just 50 years away, over the low rise you see here. Yes, we could hear the waves at night.

This house, like the others, was in a Tsunami danger zone and there was a Tsunami evacuation route at the end of the street. It was a steep walk up that street but it would take you to the bluff above the beach and to safety. The local library on the bluff was the Tsunami gathering place.

The people seem to take the tsunami warnings seriously. A good thing!

If I didn't tell you already, Manzanita Oregon is a favorite of mine. I could have easily spent two weeks in that house and never have gone to the other two.

We learned some lessons about vacation rentals and we will definitely do it again armed with that knowledge.  We will make certain that the house doesn't have stairs. Two of the three did have stairs and it was a real chore getting suitcases and ourselves up and down them. We also need to make sure we know all about the neighborhood; the apartment we rented in Florence was located just across the street from a cheap chain restaurant and we listened to a lot of midnight rumblings of Harley's gathered in the parking lot. Also, we need to read all of the reviews; both good and bad.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Art for Arts Sake

I have a canvas. I have paint. I have brushes and other tools. So where's the art? It's still locked up in my head. Why does that happen? I wish I knew.
     I have 8 canvases all prepped and ready but still not a creative mark on any of them. I wrote about art back on the 4th and so far that's all I've done; write about it. So, I guess I will go to the art supply store and see if some new material or brush or? will stir the creative juices.

Surprise! It rained here last night. It wasn't much as it only lasted for ten or fifteen minutes. But it was a solid downpour and was soaked up immediately by every thirsty plant. Now it's a chilly morning which is very odd for July.

I understand that there are or soon will be 16 Republicans running for President. It's so tempting to write about them but I won't. That's not a strict promise as the temptation may grow to a point where I can no longer restrain myself.

I was dismissed from the balance program at the rehab center as my balance has improved. And I'm back to the gym and doing the full exercise bit. I really missed it. I had a routine and we all know how seniors love routine. The older I become the more comforting the 'routine' becomes. That can become deadly.

Our recent trip to the Oregon coast was out of our comfort zone and it has done great things for me. I want to do more trips. They don't have to be 2 weeks of travel; just a long weekend would be great. Using AirBnB to book a place is cheap and easy. I even found a motor home parked on the shores of Bridgeport Reservoir for $65 a night. Good fishing!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

And now it's the 5th...

We were supposed to enjoy a 'fireworks free' 4th of July, but around 9 PM last night the explosions began. Small bangs at first and then the more powerful ones shook the night air. In the midst of a drought and with dry vegetation everywhere it makes sense to ban fireworks. As usual, some people never get the message or simply don't care...

I spent the morning at church; acting as a member of the Safety team. My job was to walk around the area outside of the church building and greet people while keeping an eye out for people who might disturb the service. I had been looking for a way to serve and since I would be able to walk and to drink coffee all while enjoying the sunshine, I thought this might be a good thing for me to do. Even with free coffee it was really outside of my comfort zone; as someone with ASD, talking to strangers is not something I do easily!

Our church is located in downtown Chico and right next to the University. Our patio is open to the street and we have coffee and water freely available. A lot of the street people use the patio for their morning coffee stop and are always welcomed. Understandably, some these people have mental illnesses in varying degrees and will sometimes act out in ways that makes some of the congregation uncomfortable. That's when we have to intervene and politely ask them to be quieter or to leave. The city has no sympathy for these people and would love to run them all out of town if they could. I don't know what the answer is but forcing them to leave the city is not!

Since it was holiday weekend we didn't have a full house and I was spared a lot of uncomfortable moments while greeting strangers. But even so, I was there for 3 services and had to walk for 4 hours. Midway through the first service I had to go to the car and get my walking stick/cane. Now I am home and sitting on my chaise, trying to relax...

Saturday, July 4, 2015

It's the 4th!

We're not doing much today. Varying types of pain have both of us on the sidelines. I have used one Norco, quite early, and am hoping for some relief. Also, on a different subject, I have resurrected a casserole from the freezer that was a mere 3 months old and it should be fine for tonight. It's all part of my 'Cleanup and Cleanout' campaign. Our freezer and pantry were overflowing with goods and some were in danger of being way past their prime.

I went to see the balance people at the rehab yesterday and I didn't see a lot of improvement. Monday will be an assessment and we can compare it with my first day. My new walking stick was a help more than a few times while we were traveling. But it's a pain to have it with you all of the time. It tends to be left behind in restaurants. It falls over when you prop it up to free your hands for a minute.   It's simply not a satisfactory substitute for good balance; the balance of 40 years ago.

The drought continues. Our May water bill told us that we had met, and exceeded, our water savings goal. All the amounts we save go into a 'bank' and our 'savings' can be used when we exceed our limit. I'm sure that our June bill will be even better as we were gone for 13 days. That's water in the bank!

I've been painting (not enough) during the past few days and I have also sealed the small abstract (4"x4") paintings I did for a mental exercise. There are 30 of them and now I have to come up with a way to display them. Also, there is going to be a Floral Abstract themed show at the Art Center at the end of the month and I'm tempted to enter something. I've never liked juried shows but after entering a few I am willing to be embarrassed...if my painting isn't chosen. That requires a lot of will power. It would be so easy to simply leave the painting at home; placed on a wall where it's rarely seen.

Now that the tiny abstracts are out of my system for awhile, I must start on some of the large scale canvas I have; all sitting on the countertop in my studio and daring me to put a mark upon them. I guess I had better look at some of my artists video's for some inspiration. Robert Burridge's CD is in the player right now and I have my favorite, Virginia Cobb, ready to go after that. Bob Burridge has a fast and loose style of painting that I try to emulate. While Virginia Cobb feels her way through the painting; laying paint on and then scraping it off if it doesn't impact her emotionally. I can also watch Art 21 on the computer and see another of my favorite artists, Mary Heilmann. Mary thoroughly enjoys painting and her abstracts reflect that. They give me joy when I look at them.