Thursday, July 12, 2007

Week 16

I was just strongly corrected when I asked "Week 14?"

My darling bride is sitting across the room knitting a vest for the impending toddler. (She's been talking about toddlers recently.) I'm back from a night at the building, where I discovered I can't figure out the sine of an angle without a calculator, and square roots of numbers in the tens of thousands don't pop into my mind the way they used to. I spent the whole evening figuring out the proper cuts for the stringers of my new stair case, and only cut one. It fits though, I installed it to make sure, and pulled it back out to use as a guide.

The most recent picture of the growing belly, 16 weeks, baby the size of an avocado.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Kagan's Fishin' Trip

A pleasant interlude from the building project.

I was invited to be the 14th person on a fishing trip over the weekend. I am easily 30 years younger than the median age of the party, a group of good old Mississippi boys that have been taking this particular trip for 37 years, but needed a body to fill out this particular trip. The logistics of the trip: a large boat, with sleeping cabins for all, heads out into the Gulf of Mexico. On top of this boat are 7 small skiffs, which are lowered into the water by cranes after the big boat moors at the fishing destination, and pairs of guys, plus fishing gear and a cooler of beverages, leave the mother ship for fishing adventures, returning for meals, showers, more beverages, and to sleep.

On Thursday I left with the two local Water Valley guys I was invited by, and we were in GulfPort, MS, loading our gear on the boat by 7 that evening, along with the rest of the crowd who had come from as far as Colorado. (The group all went to high school together, or some such thing, and have spread out over the years, but still come together for this trip.) That's the premise. For the next 3 days I slept very little, caught some fish, watched amazing amounts of alcohol processed by suffering livers, toasted under a bright sun, and had a generally hot, odd, and fun time.

We were fishing for speckled trout and red fish. I caught far more "junk" fish than the keepers, but these turned out to be far more fun to fight on the line. Most of these fish were under 3 pounds to give you perspective; we did catch one 3 lb 14 oz trout. Most of the water, as we were fishing off the Chandeleur Island, was approx. waist deep.

On to the pictures.

I'm not going to order them, because as I uploaded these they got all mixed up.

My fishing partner Cliff.
A fun story. Standing waist deep in water with the boat clipped to my belt so it wouldn't drift away, Cliff and I were catching lady fish by the dozens and releasing them. He said, "there's probably a bit of blood in the water now, and there are sharks around here." I turned my head, saw a fin, said "fin", we hopped our butts back into the boat, and I started reeling in the fish I already had on the line. There was a massive boiling of water not too far from where we had been standing, and I reeled in this fish head.
A rookery for Frigat (sp?) birds. Very neat, and large, birds.
A cat fish. Both Cliff and I were surprised to find these live in salt water.
Fishing off a sand bar.
We got stuck in some shallows. I started paddling (see below) and ended up having to tow us out.
Sorry I didn't rotate these folks. This picture is proof working on the building is putting me back in shape.
The second morning. Yes, we started fishing before first light. I was tired, and not so sure this was where I wanted to be.
This was Mason Island, much smaller since Katrina hit it.
Fishing off the tip of Mason Island.
Dolphins in the water. Fun to watch, they scared off the fish. We saw lots of interesting wildlife, sharks and many kind of fish, tons of birds, crabs swimming by.
It rained for 5 minutes the first morning, then was blue skies and scorching hot for the next three days.
Cliff, with a big trout.
Me the first morning, headed out after breakfast. Being the first morning, we didn't have our routine down so the sun was above the horizon when we set out. Just barely though.
The mother boat. Notice what is lining the side of the boat: cases of beer. The hard stuff was inside. After my first two beers, I admitted to myself and the fellas that I really don't like beer, and enjoyed my ginger ale, water, and root beer. I got a little crap for bringing little bottles of Pellegrino, but when they said bringing coolers full of cold beverages to go fishing, I brought fun things I liked.
And that's that. Alexe is counting to 120 for me to be done with this super long post.

Alexe's sister was visiting while I was away, which was great for her. Thanks 'Liza.

And would you believe it, (those of you who know my darling wife won't have trouble) she finished counting to 120 (I told her to give me two minutes), pushed me out of my seat, sat down to read this entry, and said, "you really need to sum up; it's not very good without a summary." Aaargh !!

So I had a fascinating exposure to salt water fishing, 60-70 yr old conservative southern boy bonding, sleep deprivation, and the burning sun over the Gulf. Great lessons learned, stories added to the library, and crispy skin left int he shower.

Two interesting things:
1) Everyone has said it, but I'll add my experience. Katrina devastated that area. I was standing on a dock made of concrete. The end of that dock was a twisted mess of rebar and giant slabs of the same concrete. We drove by a lovely grove of live oaks, huge trees I couldn't fit my arms around if they were twice as long. The tops were still bare, the middle sections just struggling to get some green out. They were still beautiful, and I commented on what a lovely grove it was, so close to the beach. I was told that it used to be a neighborhood, complete with huge Victorian homes over 100 years old. There was not a trace of them left, just the trees and what turned out to be new scrub brush coming up between them.

2) One night the conversation turned to politics. This crowd ripped George a new hole, cursing his ineptitude, intelligence (lack of), war-hunger, and general effect on America. They were in agreement that we went into Iraq for oil and money, and it was a terrible move. These folks are as conservative as they get, and all voted for the president. I had no idea the country was coming together so much. (Also, these guys admitted they voted for W because they all felt guilty for letting his father down when clinton unseated him. Never thought about it from that angle.)