Tag Archives: hobbies

Fishing in the dark

Fishing is generally reserved for outdoorsy people who are patient and entirely comfortable and committed to standing all day long with worm guts underneath their nails, the scent of fish lingering heavily on their…well, everything. People who can wear old, outdated jeans (unbelievable) that have become their “fishing” jeans out in public with muddied shoes and lure-encrusted hats and not feel horrified. These people might buy bait at Wal-Mart and aren’t overly paranoid that someone might snap their photo to be featured on the next edition of “People of Wal-Mart.”

“What is this, some sort of spider trap? You got me a spider trap for my birthday? Really?” (Photo Caption: ebay.com)

None of this describes me, so imagine my surprise when I found myself the ecstatic recipient of a fishing pole for my birthday this year.  Not remotely an avid fisherwoman, I was unable to even identify a box of fishing line upon unwrapping it, putting it together only when presented with a pole next. I was assured it was “a good one,” but with its glittery green sheen and smooth reeling, I knew it couldn’t be too bad.

Plus it was really shiny.

Holding the soft cork handle in my (newly-manicured) fingers, I was reminded of my former teenage hobby of pinning favorite pastimes and memories onto a huge corkboard in a mosaic fashion. Fishing had been absent on that board, but now here I would soon be, instead pinning worms on hooks to be sent to watery graves.

What strides I’ve made in life!

Owning a fishing pole was the first acknowledgement my hobbies were beginning to more freely revolve around the rustic, especially seeing as other birthday gifts were a set of golf clubs and a four-wheeler I got to borrow from a friend to celebrate the occasion.

Outwardly appearances aside, I am not quite the girly girl I used to be, and I like to think I am working constantly toward a new and improved me. Someone who could survive in the woods after dark without (as many) irrational fears (Sasquatch) and someone who can hold her own talking golf and fishing in a board meeting filled with 55-year-old male engineers. I suppose this is all fine, as I have a distinct feeling who’s still vying for the win on the Bachelorette or what Dairy Queen dessert has the least calories (dilly bars) will never be the hot topics I wish them to be.

Regardless, I would NEVER go into the woods with beef jerky.

I used to fish every once and awhile with my family as a kid and remember snagging a sunfish out of the middle of the lake with my Donald Duck pole, droplets of glistening water catching the sun’s rays – and my attention – for one brief second before the helpless fish flopping on the bottom of the boat disheartened me. The last time I was out with my brother, we caught absolutely nothing except a case of the boredoms. Not exactly a great start to fishing becoming my great new passion.

Then Clayton, with his boat, huge tackle box that takes me two hands to lug to the water’s edge, and easy ways of explaining the sport came along, his experience and love for it igniting an interest that grows in me each time we head out, poles in one hand, hand-in-hand.

Regardless of the amount of times we’ve gone, the first ten minutes are brutal for me – the girl with no attention span who likes to see results, results, RESULTS!

Me: “We don’t have all day, fish!”
Clayton: “Actually we do. It’s a weekend fishing trip.”
Me: (nodding pointedly to the water) “Well, they don’t know that!”
Me (ten minutes later): “…Is a weekend still two days?”
Clayton: “Sit down and get comfortable.”
Me (dejectedly bowing down my head): “Okaay.”

Around the time of that conversation (because it happens every time), I’ll wonder why I ever thought putting a worm on a hook, whipping that hook around dangerously (Last year, I caught myself! Literally. Right in the forehead. Mad skills.), and sitting around not catching anything for sometimes hours sounded like a pleasant idea. To keep myself occupied, I sing to myself a tune that always seems to work.

Sure enough, the line will inevitably take off, adrenaline shoots through my body, and I reel in a marlin – usually a pan-sized bluegill or laughingly small baby bass. The fight is real and hard no matter how big the fish is (thank you, lack of muscles!), and the feeling is oddly comparable to finding a glorious pair of expensive heels. In both instances, I usually end up putting each back.

One fish, two fish, sun fish, blue fish

My faith renewed, I begin to cast again and again, usually out-fishing Clayton and feeling quite smug about it, puffing out my chest proudly until I snag my line in a tree 15 feet above my head. A rookie after all, I am forced to puppy-eyes my way into him helping a deflated girl out.

We were in South Dakota fishing last May when I caught my first 11-pound carp, and then my second. The five-minute fights to pull them in were battles that ended with such self-accomplishment and elatedness. Holding the fish in the air as my trophy, I fell a little more in love (and not just because it, too, was shiny).

When things are slow, sunflower seeds and nearby happy-go-lucky ducks with tufted haircuts in major need of maintenance are a welcome distraction. When things pick up? Well, mostly my arm starts to hurt from all the reeling.

I really should lift weights or something. It’s getting embarrassing.

I remember the first time Clayton suggested we keep some bluegill for dinner. Astonished, I replied, “We’re gonna EAT them?!”

It seemed so wrong. So…cavemen of us. I was pumped.

“Yes, but first we have to cut off their heads, gut and descale them,” he said.

It seemed so much more wrong. I teetered on the edge of uncertainty.

“Then we’ll fry ‘em,” he finished.

I was back in.

Previous thoughts of a Pizza Hut medium supreme pan pizza and a half order of breadsticks went down the drain along with the fish scales and slime I would soon be washing off every exposed part of me.

The best part of fishing? Being able to call guys like this a “beaut!”

It’s true that the thrill of a big catch and the sense of accomplishment outweigh trekking through poison ivy, warding off biting flies and wading through swamp-like waters. In the last year, I’ve learned to worm my own hook, including how to “thread” a worm (Why, yes, it is as awful as it sounds), and take a fish off the line, noting along the way that their razor-sharp fins will NOT hesitate to slice me into ribbons.

I tell myself that this hobby teaches me patience, which is a virtue I was previously lacking. I tell myself that I’m being like Jesus, except he was a fisher of men and I already caught the one I want to grow old with, walking down piers in our 60s, hand-in-hand and laughing just like the old couples in those heart medicine commercials.

I tell others I can’t go to the bar with them over the weekend because we’re going on a fishing trip, you see, and we wouldn’t even dream of being back until long after dark.

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Kiss the cook (It’s me! Kiss me!)

I recently acquired a new hobby. I take food items and mix, bake, grill, chill, slice and dice them, (all sans a Slap Chop, mind you) transforming them into delicious other food items. Eggs become omelets! Celery becomes ants on a log! Hamburger becomes…hamburgers! Food is always better plural.

Consider making ants on a log for that next fancy dinner party.

How the media hasn’t blown this fad outta portion yet, I don’t know. (Food jokes!)

I’ve decided to call this newfangled activity “cooking” (let me have this), and it’s great because it inevitably leads to om-nom-noming. Not to mention that the gorgeous glow I get upon devouring half a pound of turkey bacon in my favorite breakfast quiche is almost akin to exercising. Almost.

I’m not sure exactly what prompted my passion for the culinary arts except that whenever Clay and I have a free evening, it always seems to turn into an Iron Chef episode. Think more jammies and less narration. For awhile, we stopped going out on Fridays at all. That was scary. Then there was our last shopping trip to Wal-Mart:

Clayton (adamantly): “We need a spatula!”
Me (thrilled): “They come in different colors! I want purple! No, red! Green!”
Clayton (suddenly alarmed): “Ea-sy…”
Me (instantly out of control): “We also need a can opener! Tongs? An egg thing-a-ma-jig!? Spaghetti strainer!!”
Clayton (cautiously): “Ok, Cass. One at a time. Can openers appear to come in all different prices and sizes here. Look, this one has a grippy rubber handle.”
Me: Overwhelmed silence and reverence

I also can’t leave out all the Hy-Vee trips where a certain cart boy inevitably greets us with a demanding “Ladies first!” every time we approach the entrance. On cue, Clay and I rowdily push one another out of the way to get inside first, running off of love’s purest, truest and most gentle adrenaline (him – testosterone; me -feminism). This irritates the cart boy.

Once inside, we freeze instantly in our tracks, always stunned by the life-sized cardboard cutout of Ellen DeGeneres—whoops, that’s Curtis Stone.

It's uncanny! It's...not right...

Then, onto fruits and veggies. We don’t make it out of the produce section for a good 15 to 20 minutes, and trips that should take half an hour become twice as long as I explore new ingredients with the tenacity of a kid at an ice cream parlor. I stop investigating the mangoes, white asparagus and herbs only when I see Clay taking a trip of his own to frown town.

Our cart slowly becomes filled with random ingredients we’ll most likely hate – papaya and Korean pear – and of course, wine. You know, for the cooking. We exit the store past a now wordless cart boy, satisfied until the next time we get a food fetish.

One time we went to Hy-Vee four days out of the week.

Once back in the kitchen, I immediately take over as sous chef because I excel at vital tasks like  pouring wine, washing produce because men consider dirt just another seasoning, and of course, stirring. Nothing makes you feel more important than having yourself a good stir. It’s also a great way to look busy in an effort to avoid cutting onions. (For the love of God, someone teach me already)

The more we cook, the more we like to think our tastes become increasingly refined. Our meals consist of seafood more often than not, and it’s a must that red or white wine appear on the list of ingredients. And, although our dishes only call for a ½ cup of it or less, we feel obligated to finish the bottle because we hate waste. Life is so hard sometimes.At the height of sophistication...puns!
I keep with the evening’s theme of pure sophistication and class by setting the coffee table in front of the TV with paper towels, covering our water glasses with coasters to ensure Chloe doesn’t dunk her head into them. As I do, I can’t help but think how wonderful it is to have a hobby where I’m constantly learning and trying new things. It’s my special time alone with Clayton, where we bond over the entire process of creating and eating a meal we made ourselves — garlicky hands, burnt pancakes, “natural turkey casing” and all.

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Things you shouldn’t say while camping