America, Animals, Canada, Culture, Family, Food, Funny, Outdoors, Summer, Travel


Guess who fell into the lake? In full rain gear. They say that stuff is waterproof. Which is true. As long as you don’t accidentally fully submerge yourself in said water. 

The soon to be drenched clothing (with an added rainjacket)

I have this patented Brittney move when we come in to dock. I step out of the boat, holding the rope in my hand, onto the dock with one foot, then pull the boat (with the rope and my other foot) snug to the dock to tie it. This works okay (although now going over it in my mind, it’s really not the smartest move, but it made sense to me when I was doing it) as long as you have the rope in your hand, to anchor yourself and keep control of the boat, which your other foot is still in. If you are distracted, and forget to grab the rope, there is a slight possibility that the boat will come out from underneath you and dump you into the 60 degree lake water. Which is what happened. 

The water was not that deep, seeing as how we were right at the dock. But, somehow, I managed not to catch myself at all and went completely under, thoroughly soaking every single thing I had on. Which was three layers of clothing. A wool pullover, which has yet to dry out, a long sleeve shirt, the aforementioned rain pants and jacket, even my ballcap was dripping. 

I wasn’t wearing a lifejacket either. See, I have this theory. My dad got me a ground blind for deer hunting a few years ago for Christmas. I think it was a gift partially for me, partially for himself. It’s essentially a camo tent he can sit me in, out in the woods. There are a few benefits to it. He can go off to his tree stand, with full assurance that he hasn’t set me in a tree stand that I could potentially fall out of. Although, why he’d ever be nervous about me falling out of something is beyond me. And he knows that by putting me in a ground blind, I am less likely to distract a potential target with the flipping of my book pages, as I’m reading and patiently waiting for something to walk by. 

So, he got me the ground blind for Christmas, and we took it out for its inaugural hunt the day after Christmas. There’s a short, few days rifle hunt right after the holiday to complete the year. So, he put me in my blind and trailed off through the woods, with the promise that if I shot (which would be a rare occurrence), he’d come find me. Sure enough, right at dark, a doe walked out, and I shot. It wasn’t my best shot, as demonstrated by the hour long tracing of a tiny blood trail down a steep hill. But, I got it, and the guys found it, hauled it up and we deemed my ground blind a perfect gift. 

A few weeks ago, my brother insisted on buying me a bike helmet because he thought it might hurt if I fell off, going 20 mph down the dirt road. Again, I don’t have any idea why he’d think I’d be injury prone. So, he got me one, and I begrudgingly wear it. But, I was 100% sure that on my first ride wearing it, I’d have a wreck. I didn’t, but still. 

The bike helmet proponent himself

So, my dad nearly insisted on getting me a fancy life jacket that automatically inflates the moment you hit the water. And, I didn’t let him, because I knew if I did, I’d fall out. 

Looks like that logic worked out well for me. 

I had a conversation with him during one of our boat rides about whether or not he felt that I could drink the lake water without getting some sort of terrible disease. He said I probably could, but he didn’t want me to try it. I wanted to try it. 

Looks clean and blue and beautiful, right?

Well, when I fell in, I got the chance. Because I accidentally gulped a good amount down. And not the deep, middle of the lake water that I was wanting to try. No, the grimy, shoreline, dock variety. The possibility of illness remains to be seen. 

Luckily, I hauled myself up, laughing. I was slightly terrified because our float plane pilot had told me not to put my feet in the water, for the chance that the pike might bite my toes off, mistaking my bright orange toenail polish for bait. I’m still not sure if he was kidding or not, but I didn’t want to take any chances. 

The pike, however, weren’t interested in my toes. So, I dried off, went back out, and tried a less dangerous boat maneuver, and a more natural colored bait. Which they fell for. Hook, line, and sinker. 

Canada, Family, Outdoors, Travel

Pike Pic

I know this is going to come as a shock to everyone, but my dad is not a professional photographer. He asked me if I wanted my picture with this polar bear at the airport. By the way, in case anyone wasn’t aware, there are some big soccer games (I know nothing about soccer, so don’t quote me but I think it’s the Women’s World Cup, maybe?) going on in Canada this summer, which is why the polar bear has a soccer ball. I wouldn’t even know this except for the fact that one of my friends travelled to Winnipeg two weeks before me to watch one of the US games. So, of course, I said I needed a picture. He’s one of those people that are taking your picture but you don’t know if they’ve taken it so you don’t know how long to pose or hold your smile for. Then, they look at you like why are you still smiling and you feel like a dork. So, I had him take my picture and then I asked him if he’d gotten one of my funny face? To which he said: you were making a funny face?

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Yes, dad, that’s not my normal face. So, I end up with two pictures. The previous one of my funny face. Then, this accidental candid, in which I’m questioning why I had him take my picture in the first place.

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I have to admit that I kinda like the second picture better. The candid shots seem to be the ones that transmit the most true story. I have this picture of me and my mom on the beach when I was a baby and I love it for two reasons. One is because we have the same expression on our faces, which I think says a lot about a mother and daughter relationship. And two, because neither of us are posing. We’re not smiling, making it look any certain way. It captures a true moment. A moment which probably in all reality says “why are we even at the beach?”

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They always say pictures are worth a thousand words. I guess they are because they do depict a lot of details that wouldn’t necessarily be expressed in words. But, they don’t always tell the whole story.

So, let’s take this picture, for instance.

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What do we notice about this picture?

  • 1) I’ve just caught a big fish & 2) I’m looking pretty chill about it.

What you don’t see in this picture is that I had just had a fish bigger than this break my line, and that this guy fought me for about 15 minutes before I got him in the boat. What you also don’t see is that I had just doused my face in sunscreen right before this and I forgot to read that tiny print that says don’t put this stuff near your eyeballs. Apparently they put that little warning on there for a reason because when I hooked this guy and was looking down at the water for the next 15 minutes, my eyes were welling up and it was making my nose run, so it looked like I was literally crying. So I’m out on the water, fighting a Northern Pike that keeps taking off with my line, threatening to break it again at any moment, whilst trying to blink away the sweat and sunscreen that keeps running into my eyes. Dad has the net, and keeps trying to capture him when I get him close to the surface, which makes the fish and me nervous and he takes off again, nearly pulling me and my fishing pole under the boat with him. At this point, I’m just sure I’m going to go blind right before I fall in the lake and have to be rescued. But, mercifully, he gave up the fight. So, once he is finally in the boat, it’s picture time, which means I have to quickly pull my wits together and make sure it doesn’t look like I’ve been crying or that I’m blind or that I am the basketcase that I am at this point. And, I think I did a pretty good job of it. Maybe dad isn’t that bad of a photog afterall.

Culture, Food, Travel

Recipe Rethink

I’ve been lied to my whole life. Apparently, perch are not perch. I hope this is coming as a shock to everyone else too. What we call perch in the South are technically sunfish (I think. You might want to fact check me on that. Actually, just make a mental note now, you should always fact check me on everything I say.) So, upon discovering this, I felt I needed to take a picture with my first ever actual perch. Look at how cute this little guy was!

Note that I am wearing three layers. In June.

Note that I am wearing three layers. In June.

I’ve decided there should be a section on every recipe that gives you directions for cooking in less than ideal conditions. Sometimes, they’ll include directions for cooking at high altitudes, but how often do you make macaroni and cheese on a mountain? One time. I have done that one time. Which I was excited about because I got to use the special high altitude directions.

I’m not high maintenance. I can make do in a lot of situations. I think it’s more that I’m not very ingenuitive. Is that a word? As you can imagine, in a fish camp, the kitchens aren’t as fully equipped. Which isn’t usually a big deal because I don’t cook much on these trips. My dad is easy to please, so pretty much any sustenance will do. In fact, I think both of us could dine on only fish all week and be perfectly content. But, I bring a few easy things to throw together. And some vegetables, we can’t forget the veggies.

This year, I decided to get a little more inventive. Before we left, my brother asked if I wanted to take the mandolin (which I did consider, even though I’ve never used it before) or a cutting knife. But, I declined. If you know my track record with kitchen clumsiness, you’ll know why I declined.

I had a couple recipes I intended to make and at home, they seemed like no big deal. Unfortunately, I didn’t think things all the way through.

For banana pudding, you were supposed to whisk until smooth. No whisk? Use every utensil in the kitchen looking for the best fix and end up just using a fork. I’m pretty sure even the pioneer women had whisks. (By the way, is that word looking weird to anyone besides me?) I’ll fast forward and tell you that the fork method doesn’t really work all that well and that the pudding was definitely not smooth. The directions also said I needed to crush the cookies to sprinkle on the pudding. Luckily, the kind people at United Airlines took care of that step for me. Food processor? Completely unnecessary.

Crushed cookies

Crushed cookies

Steaming broccoli: all you need is some boiling water, right? Wrong. I forgot that a steamer basket would be needed for this task. My solution? A colander over boiling water, with a misfit lid. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think this was going to work. I thought I might end up with a new dish called broccoli a la plastic. But, it worked really well actually. Ya’ll make a note of this one, in case you are ever in a broccoli steaming pinch.

Quality engineering

Quality engineering

No pie plates? No problem. Use a cast iron skillet. It’s rustic. It should also be noted that the handle is super hot coming out of the oven and almost caused a second hand burning episode. (If you missed out on the first episode, read back a few posts and you’ll be all caught up). Luckily, my hand was saved the burning and no other major injuries were incurred. #success.

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Culture, Food, Travel

Clean Cut

I think it should be noted that I’m writing this standing in front of the open oven door, seeing as how it is currently colder in our cabin than it is outside. 44 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. Which doesn’t seem that cold to anyone else, apparently. But, I won’t see temperatures like these til Fall. I don’t know how one place can go from freezing cold to hot in such a short amount of time. I wake up in the morning and I’m camping out in front of the oven, eating cereal, in sweats and a hoodie. I come in for the afternoon and camp out on the front porch, in shorts and a t-shirt, because it’s warm and stuffy in the cabin. I’ve noticed that layers seem to be the key here.

Layered up in rain gear

Layered up in rain gear

Being in a fish camp is so funny. Everyone wants to know where everyone else has been, what they’ve seen, what they’ve caught. How deep? How many? What bait? What did the water look like? What direction was the wind blowing? Weeds? No weeds?

I let the guys talk those things over, while I go through my list of concerns. Do we have enough coffee to last us through the morning? Will I need two jackets or will one be okay? Do I want an apple or a banana as a snack today? You know, the truly important things.

The best of the talk happens in what I refer to as the fish house. Jesse, the expert fish cleaner, was in there with piles of perfectly cut fillets. So, I decided rather than stand around and talk about the walleye spawn, I’d watch and learn something relevant. While observing, I learned what instrumentation was, heard about a Canadian cattle farmer who cut his thumb off with a saw, threw it in the trash, wrapped it and kept on going, talked about bungee jumping vs. skydiving, scars from childhood games of falling out of trees (Canadians seem like a tough bunch to me), the difference between Canadian and American Netflix (did you know there was a difference or am I the only one out of the loop on this?) and our similar taste in music (my favorite Johnny Cash song just happened to be playing while I was there). There, of course, were guys who came in to talk fishing and I made some mental notes about maps and bays and such. But, talking about life stories seems so much more interesting to me than depths and maps and figures.

Jesse making fish cleaning look easy

Jesse making fish cleaning look easy

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I was inspired and thought it would be fun to learn to properly clean a fish. This is a true Canadian experience, right? What made me decide this, I have no idea. The opportunity just presented itself. There is nothing in my current skill set that lends to the fact that I would be good at this. Unless you count the 3 million watermelon I’ve cut up in my lifetime. Which is a total exaggeration. And, which is nothing like cutting up a fish.

Jesse agreed to teach me (I would say he had no idea what he was getting himself into, but he actually probably did) and since he hadn’t cleaned my catch yet, he methodically went through all the cuts and showed me what to do on one of my fish, then let me try on the second one. As you can imagine, I was half paying attention, half chit-chatting. which, I know, is coming as a huge surprise to anyone who knows me.

I made the appropriate cuts and was very proud at the end of that venture. Mine looked a little rough, but nothing too terrible. It came up a huge storm and started pouring buckets with the loudest thunder that echoed off the water, so I got a little distracted while Jesse finished up.

Let me interpret this for you: I missed all the important steps at the end.

Stormy skies

Stormy skies

After this venture, I realized I had no pictures to document the proof of my newly established fish cleaning capabilities. I decided that I needed to clean one more in order to document it, plus I was absolutely sure I’d be better at it the second time around. This poor fish, he had no idea what was in store for him.

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(Let me make a side note that in the taking of this picture, I nearly fell out of the boat, then dropped the fish on my yellow rain jacket, covering it and me and the book I was reading, and everything else in my near vicinity in a layer of slimy mud.)
As I was walking to the fish house with him, my dad asked if I was going to cut the bones out. (Northern Pike have a row of Y bones that have to be cut out.) Only then did I realize that I hadn’t been privy to that lesson the day before and that I was going to need some “guidance”, at which Jesse walked up at the perfect moment for. So, I did filet the fish expertly (in my own opinion, probably not in anyone else’s), remembering everything he taught me, step by step from the day before.

Here’s the steps:

#1: whack it in the head. I’m not sure if this is an official step or not, but it seems necessary.

#2: cut right behind the gills, underneath the first fin, down until you hit the back bone. I was nervous about cutting through too far, but you actually have to push pretty hard because traction is difficult on a slimy fish.

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#3: cut down his backbone making tiny, almost feathery motions, until you come to the end. You would think guys who cut up fish all day would be rough, but it’s a more delicate skill than it’s given credit for.

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#4: at the end, stick your knife all the way through to its lower back fin and cut off through the tail. Do this on both sides and you’ll have your filets.

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See, this is where I thought the process stopped. But, it was after this that the train completely derailed. So there are about 25 other steps and cuts after this, but I’ll shorten my experience for you.

#5: make a lot of really terrible cuts and effectively butcher it all to pieces.

Jesse was making me laugh at my awful cutting

Laughing at my awful cutting

You know, I thought fish cleaning was something you could be naturally inclined for. (I actually think this about a lot of things so I like to try everything because what if I’m naturally inclined for something random that I’ve never discovered before? Like playing the harmonica or something? You could go your whole life without knowing you’re excellent at something, and what a waste that would be, right?) But, no doubt, it is a skill, learned and honed by practice. I think it would take me 100 fish to learn to do one properly. Jesse even had this cool way to clean around the bones and get even more meat off the fish, which was impressive for my “waste not, want not” personality. He showed me the “easy” way. I wasn’t good at most of it (really any of it) but, I was good at skinning it. (He told me I was better at the whole process than most guys he had seen try to learn it, so I’m counting that as win, although I’m sure he was just being nice.)

I will say one thing about my fish cleaning escapade. You never learn anything if you don’t try and a willingness to learn new things will take you far in life. I just don’t think it’s gonna take me anywhere near a filet knife again.

Celebration, Garden, Religion

The Boat Brigade

We’ve established that I’m accident prone, correct? So, I was baking a loaf of bread today and I was really worried about making sure that I didn’t burn it. I had it in a crock in the oven and you are supposed to bake it with a lid then without a lid, it’s got a lot of directions. Anyway, so I removed the lid, set it aside, closed the oven back up. Then, promptly grabbed the lid in all of it’s 450 degree glory and effectively singed the fingerprints off of three of my fingers on my right hand. Ironically, I didn’t burn the bread. I’m thinking I could probably adopt a new identity now, seeing as how I no longer have fingerprints. Although, I don’t know what good a new identity would do me. If you can’t tell, I’m being a drama queen, it’s really not that bad. I mean, it’s kinda bad, but not adopt a new identity bad.

So, as I mentioned previously, VBS was this week. Is VBS a globally known term? When was the concept of VBS even started? I think I need to look this up. Vacation Bible School. It’s kind of weird when you think about it. It’s a vacation school where you learn about the Bible? I feel like these words don’t all really fit together. On to my point though, this year for VBS, we planned a fishing theme. And when I say we, I mean I talked while my dad listened and nodded. And you want to know where this plan was made? Out on the lake. While we were fishing. Sometimes inspiration just hits, what can I say?

This was the day I got a scorching sunburn. You think I'd learn eventually...

This was the day I got a scorching sunburn. You think I’d learn eventually…

I decided on Fishers of Men, then told my friends about how I wanted a boat and fish and props and nets and minnow buckets. So, Jesse got to work on building us a boat. And, let me tell you, it. is. awesome. The kids loved it!

Jesse the Boat Builder

Jesse the Boat Builder

I talked my dad and a couple other guys into being our storytellers. They were men from Galilee who ran a bait shop during Jesus’ time and told us all firsthand stories about Jesus’ ministry on the water. One little girl saw my dad dressed up and with a very serious face, asked “are you God?”

Galilee Bait Company

Galilee Bait Company

Children’s ministry is so funny. Those little guys are honest and just say what they think. Sometimes I wish as an adult, I could do that. Sometimes, I’m thankful that I can’t. As Spring has passed and Summer has arrived, it has given me some time for a fresh perspective and I think raising kids and raising fruit trees has got to be a lot alike. I guess I should preface this by saying I’ve never raised a child and I’ve planted only a few fruit trees, so maybe I’m not an expert. And maybe they’re completely different.

What I do know about kids I’ve mostly learned from children’s church. Children’s church seems to bring out the best and worst in personalities. I know this from having been raised in the same children’s church program that I now help teach. I think I was in the program until I was around 10-12 and started teaching the little ones when I was 13-14, so I’ve been at it for awhile now. Let’s just say I’ve been around long enough to now be teaching the children of the children I grew up in children’s church with.

Fruit trees are a different story. I planted a single peach tree about 7 years ago. And it’s basically dead. I think I’m finally ready to admit defeat with that one. However, I planted 6 new trees in October 2012 and 5 have survived. So, maybe I’m learning.

The thing about fruit trees is that it takes a long time to see any progress with them. They bloomed beautifully last year, but produced no fruit. This year, ever faithful, they bloomed again. And, be still my heart, there are little peaches and pears appearing on the branches. Whether they’ll last through the summer and til harvest remains to be seen. But the sight of those tiny fruits make the effort of planting seem worth it already.

Baby Moonglow pears

Baby Moonglow pears

We have one mature fruit tree on our farm. It’s a mulberry tree that I harvested a lot from last year. And guess who planted it?

No one.

No one had any desire to harvest mulberries, no one toiled to dig a hole, no one watched the tree come up expectantly, waiting year after year for the bounty of berries it would produce. Instead, it was probably a leftover seed, dropped years ago by a bird flying overhead. And now I get to collect what nature so generously left behind.

Our children’s church and youth ministry have gone through phases of abundance and times of little to no activity. Recently, we saw the children’s ministry, which had been a thriving branch, drop off to nearly nothing. But, as Spring is like to do, we saw new growth. Kids are coming, ones who have never been in church before, who have not heard much , if any, about Jesus.

And who planted these seeds? Who prepared and watched patiently as these little trees were planted? I plan and I try to do the best I can. But, it is ultimately the Lord who sends the harvest. I get so focused and so tied up in programs and lessons and crafts and games and everything else that comes along with children’s ministry. And sometimes I forget, it’s not me who sends the rain, it’s not me that brings about growth, it’s not me who plans the harvest. It is the Lord.

VBS was good this week. We didn’t have astounding numbers, we didn’t have anything new or flashy. But, we did have some kids who were hungry. Not hungry physically (although we had those kind too) but hungry for something they don’t even realize yet. You can see it in their eyes. They’re searching. Their little hearts are wanting more. And if there is one child who comes, who is seeking the Truth, I want to be the one there to show it to them.

Because, you know what? Someone was there to show it to me. We talked with the kids this week about “the call”. That call from Jesus to come follow Him. And you know when I got that call? When I was their age, at VBS, sitting in the same pews they were sitting in this week, hearing the same Truth they heard. I was them. My heart was hungry for something this world could not give me. But, that week, I found what I needed.

The Lord is faithful for a harvest. So, now, we wait patiently and watch these little seeds grow.