Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Guilt Trips, Bagpipers and Milking Fish



I have a love/hate relationship with the third week in month because that when all my reoccurring social functions take place. I like doing the things I do but I’d like them more if they were spread out over the month and it makes me feel guilty leaving the dog home alone so much. I wish I could find him a day care near-by. He never pees, poops or destroys anything when he’s alone and we’re far enough away from the neighbors that, they say, they can’t hear him bark at passing rabbits. Still….

This week my busy social calendar started early---on Saturday when my Red Hat Society chapter met at a Mexican restaurant for lunch in a town about a half hour west. The place has a reputation for having wonderfully authentic food but we planned to walk over to a Celtic Festival in the park afterward so I didn’t order what I really wanted because their serving sizes are too large and I hate wasting food. At 82 degrees it was too hot to leave a take-out box in a car. So while everyone else was eating taco salads in eatable bowls and leaving half of them behind to end up in the trash, I had a hamburger. Boohoo! At least a child in a third world country won’t starve to death because I didn’t clean my plate. 

The Celtic Festival was probably similar to others across the country featuring things like: Irish road bowling, highland dancers, bagpiper and drum bands, whiskey and beer tastings, field hurling, fiddle contests, soda bread and scones stands, and men walking around wearing plaid kilts. Oh, my! Not so common, I suppose, was the parade, a carnival midway, a craft show, a pig roast and classes to teach people how to do the Irish jig. I’m a go-along-to-get-along kind of person so I tagged after my Red Hat sisters as they made their way along the craft show vendors, then I broke loose to check out some of the other stuff on my own. It occurred to me on the way home that I never said a word as I wandered off and that was rather rude and aloof on my part. The other side of my brain, however, reminded me that this was the first Red Hat walk-about we’d been on where we didn’t carpool so I wasn’t obligated to stick like Velcro to anyone. Still, I shouldn’t have wandered off and left without saying goodbye. I can’t believe I did that!

I also can’t believe that the bus driver for our senior hall bus trip on Tuesday was wearing an olive green ‘utility kilt’ and he wore it well, let me tell you. I sat next to him at lunch and found out he used to play a fiddle in an Irish band and he got hooked on the comfort of kilts. When he was out of earshot I said to one of the other guys at the table, “You’d have to have a lot of confidence to wear a kilt out and about.” He rolled his eyes and replied, “You won’t find me wearing one!” 

The day trip was to one of six state run fish hatcheries which is located near Wolf Lake which doesn’t tell you much since there are at least three Wolf Lakes in Michigan. This time of the year their program is focused on Sturgeon but they hatch Walleye, Chinook Salmon, steelhead trout and Muskellunge in other seasons. We saw over two million fingerlings (tiny fish) waiting to grow up enough to relocate into our waters with a survival rate of only10%. We were told that’s a much higher percentage than for fish eggs hatched in the wild.

We watched a movie of workers on a boat gathering Sturgeon to harvest their eggs in the wild by giving the water an electric shock which we were assured doesn’t hurt them. The dazed fish float to the top, the workers net them in and “milk” the females for their eggs, the males for their sperm before they are released back in their natural habitat. I asked how they can tell the females from the males and the guide said, "We squeeze them and see what comes out." The eggs and sperm are mixed together in pails with a feather because they’re fragile---one ‘mating pair’ per pail and the pails are brought to the hatchery where the Sturgeon eggs undergo a year long process. The work that goes into protecting eggs and fingerlings from diseases was mind boggling. The best part of the tour was feeding the 12 to 24 inch long fish in the outdoor holding ponds. They’d swish up the water so much you’d think there were monsters down there and now I’m hungry for a fish dinner. 

Our DNR website says: “There are more than 11,000 inland lakes 5 acres in size or larger, in Michigan. According to the Michigan Historical Society, one is never more than 6 miles from an inland lake or more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes.” We also have 36,000 miles of rivers and streams. Leaving my house I can’t go in any direction without driving past a lake and that’s not even counting the one at the end of my block or the river I have to cross to get anywhere. No wonder I have a fear of sliding off an icy winter road and dying in a submerged vehicle. I carry a handy-dandy window breaking and seat belt cutting tool in my car that’s designed specifically for under water emergencies. I’m a regular little Boy Scout who has two more interesting adventures lined up this week. ©



Note: The photo up above are of fish eggs in the early stages of being hatched. Below, is an aerial of the 75 acre hatchery and that little pinkish speck in front of the middle building is a truck. The last photo is of a utility kilt exactly like the one our bus driver wore. If you don't think a guy can look sexy in a skirt/kilt you'd be wrong. He accessorized it with a rough leather belt with pouches, sandals and tight t-shirt.


 

18 comments:

  1. (Idle thought: possible that the dog likes his me-time during that third week of each month?)

    I have to confess I don't understand how shorts (or cargo pants) couldn't be as comfy as a kilt, but each to his own. The Celtic fair sounds interesting - I love bagpipe music and watching Irish folk dancing (remember Michael Flatley?). I'll come across as contrarian, but I don't believe the e-shock wouldn't hurt the fish, or indeed any living being. Like you, I'd have wandered off on my own after dutifully sticking it out with the group - then later felt guilty when I reached home! But I'm sure others did the same, and everyone understood. ~ Libby



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    1. I'm going to start telling Levi to enjoy his 'me time' from now on. The house is ever quite then so you could be right. LOL

      I did not like seeing those fish being milked. I thought about someone milking the eggs out of a woman and it wouldn't feel very good. At least they don't kill them for their egg and sperm. Fish with an electric shock is illegal because it's too easy and I can't believe they don't get hurt and how can they tell they don't get the same fist several times? The hatchery has been around for nearly 100 years so I guess we have to trust that they know what they're doing.

      I never thought about the others at the Festival might have also wandered off.

      Our bus driver had quite the personality to pull off wearing a kilt away from a festival setting. But I doubt most guys could. He was a handsome guy with a good body, very out going and talkative. Driving that bus I'll bet the air conditioner shot right up that kilt/skirt. LOL

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  2. Fascinating! I would enjoy visiting a hatchery. My brother's business has saltwater tanks with pumps for shedding the soft crabs, and for keeping them alive until sale. The blue crab that lives in our waters is diminishing in numbers. The grasses they need so much are dying. The babies need a place to hide while they mature. Pollution kills the grass, and the lack of grass makes survival harder for the crabs. That's the short version. My brother sells oysters, too. He gets them from his oyster beds, but oyster farming is a happening thing now. As they say, if there's a will, there's a way. Man must have his oyster!

    I cannot believe it's the third week of August. Where does the time go?

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    1. Pollution is a big factor is why our fish need help, too as well as invasive species. We have fish farms here, too, but they are privately owned. The state concentrates on the big fish that brings the sport fishermen in which is supposed to be an important element in our economy.

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  3. What? All this talk about kilts, and then the guy in a service kilt and NO PICTURE of a guy in a kilt? EEEEE! Unfair! I drool over men in kilts like the guys drool over bikinis on women.

    I hope the other Red Hat ladies aren't miffed by your disappearance act.

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    1. I know! I would have liked to take his photo. He's so cute but I have a self-imposed rule of never posting photos of people unless I have their permission or the photos are decades old.

      I saw my Red Hat sisters today and one asked what happened to me Saturday but she nicely accepted my explanation of being abducted by a UFO.

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  4. Good grief you DO keep busy. I think I've been getting in my 10,000 steps ... every other day. I may have to look into a Red Hat group here. My "group" doesn't "do" much, or very often. Or maybe I will do more volunteering with Na Hoaloha. You always write things up so wonderfully ... I feel like I was there with you.

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    1. Get yourself on the planning committee if you want your group to do more...or present ideas to the powers that be.

      Thanks! Sometimes I think I write with too much detail. But this is my diary as well as my blog and I want to remember....

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  5. The kids loved to visit the fish hatcheries every time we got up north. There used to be a big one up by Grayling. I do believe a man in a kilt is sexy--IF he isn't bow-legged or wears socks and sandals with his kilt. I am way too critical I guess. LOL

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    1. The one up north is quite small compared to this one. I guess they all specialize in a different kind of fish.

      I'm with you on bow-legged guys shouldn't wear a kilt. LOL I was struck---for the first time in my life---how good guys can look in them.

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  6. All that fish stuff sounds bad. We have a fish hatchery here. Those sturgeon can grow very large. Another reason I haven't gotten a dog is exactly your problem, I'd have a hard time leaving it behind, and would worry while I was gone.

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    1. Bad how? The hatcheries are a necessary part of keeping the Great Lakes, rivers and inland lakes stocked in healthy fish. This one has been around since the 1920s. Can you believe it, sturgeons have been catch that weigh more than the fisherman!

      Levi has been to day-care where he's had a lot of fun---I took him for play dates when my husband and I would go out for pizza. And he loves his kennel for over-nighters. He gets obedience lessons and play time there and she sends photos to my phone. When my husband was alive we took our dog every where we went, had to buy a motor home for them. LOL

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  7. Did they explain any of the things that account for only a 10% survival rate with the fish? Is it predators? Your descriptions were detailed and fascinating! It all seems very labor intensive. My daughter propagates clams and quahogs on Cape Cod. That, too, is labor intensive but interesting and helping to restock the depleted supplies in the waters.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. The labor intensity of the process is what shocked me the most. They have 17 full time, year-around employees and lots of volunteer help from sport fisherman groups who baby certain types of fingerlings in holding ponds near to where they'll be restocked in rivers and lakes.

      Natural predators was a big part of the reason the survival rate is low---bigger fish, birds, etc. The other part are viruses and diseases and those are the things they can prevent in the hatcheries. Changes in the invironment that cuts down breeding areas along shorelines was another reason named for why that 10% was considered to be a good number compared to natural breeding. I'll bit environmental factors are effecting the clams, too?

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  8. Fascinating...how labor intensive all these vocations and avocations are. Makes my head spin! I wonder, can a kilted Irishman spend the day mating and feeding Sturgeon, then go home to play the fiddle and dance a jig, after eating Mexican food?

    I live in an area that's about as watery as yours, near Long Island Sound. I hope you don't ever need your cutting tool. Speaking of, isn't it awful what Louisiana residents are going through?

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    1. A lot of those workers have degrees in biology too. And I'd think after working in such a quiet play all day they'd be able to kick up their heels at night. LOL

      Some of those people in Louisiana were replaced by Katrina, then to to go through it again!? Very scary.

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  9. So, yeah. The kilt. As you know, I'm sort of obsessed with the Outlander books/TV show, so a guy in a kilt draws me like a moth to a flame. In June I went to a mountain retreat center for a few days and one of the guys on staff was a very hunky 60-something who walked around in a kilt and no shirt. Well.....

    I'm not sure I would want to "milk" a fish, but I see the reason it must be done. LOL When my sons were in elementary school their school adopted a stream that used to be a salmon spawning area before it had become clogged with old tires and metal scraps and this and that debris, etc. The kids (with ample adult help and park and city assistance) cleaned up the stream, ordered a bunch of salmon eggs (from the Milkers, no doubt) and raised the "fry" (baby salmon) in a large tank in the 1st grade classroom until they were big enough to be released into the creek. Multiple field trips over the years finally resulted in salmon coming back to the stream to spawn! It was so exciting to reclaim that bit of nature's circle of life here in our neighborhood.

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    1. No shirt and a kilt? You're killing me!

      That was such a great project for kids to help with to bring back the salmon. It teaches on so many levels---conservation, the need to keep our environment clean, the cycle of life, etc. We have a stream near-by that a fishing club cleaned up and what a difference! Don't get why people feel it's a good place to dump stuff in the first place.

      You know, the only part of that tour I disliked was "milking" the fish eggs out of those fish. They did it quickly and said it didn't hurt them but how do they know that?

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