Sunday, January 19, 2014

I'm back at it

My goal this year is to start blogging again. So I've spent about an hour going back and forth between this blog (which has most recently housed the journals of my annual fishing trips to Temagami) and the one I started over at Wordpress.com in 2008. I'm not sure what my intention was at that time... why I thought I should switch from Blog(spot) to Wordpress. 

Until someone can convince me otherwise, I've decided to return back to this domain and blog. I like the title and tagline better. Let's see, what else... 

I've written over two hundred blog posts on this one and about 20 on the other. If I'm looking at this from an archival or even transformative perspective, I guess this is the place to me. 

Much has changed since I began blogging in 2006, and for me to try and play catch up now would be ridiculous. So I'll just start from here, the now, and fill in gaps as they come.

This will mostly serve as a space for me to publicly vomit my thoughts I find most worthy for the public. It will include thoughts about teaching and motherhood, but my goal is to use this space to rekindle (that word makes me giggle) my creative writing. So you might see the occasional poem (*gasp* Jason, don't get your hopes up), or just reflective type thoughts that may lead to some more creative outlet. 

This is a big leap for me. I'm extremely self-conscious about my writing. Especially since I'm surrounded by really great writers. I used to be a good writer. But I fell out of it (creatively and professionally) pretty hard when I got deep into teaching. When you're grading and planning lessons, there just isn't time for that shit. And now I'm a mom, which is the ultimate "cock block" of creative writing. Oh yeah, I'll probably swear. And be inappropriate. So, that's you're warning. 

Welcome back, me! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Temagami 2011: Fishing Trip with Dad, Day 6: Thursday


Temagami 2011: Day 6, Thursday, July 21

Today is the day that Stacy arrives for our canoe trip on Saturday!

We set the alarm for 6 AM, but decided to skip the morning fishing because of a severe storm around 3:30 in the morning. We didn’t feel like dealing with a wet boat, so we went back to sleep for a couple more hours.

After breakfast we went to the municipal building to get a map of the local provincial park - Finlayson Park – where Stacy and I will stay when we leave the lake next Sunday. I marked all the available sites for that night and dad and I went to take a look at them. There is a path from the dock at Temagami Shores over to the campground. We walked around the whole campground, probably about two miles. It was a nice walk, and dad and I definitely got our exercise in for the day. I finally settled on two campsites that I liked and settled on one after going back to the campground in the car to look at them both again.

After our walk we went for a swim in the lake. Today was hot, hot, hot – definitely the hottest day of the week. I fished for a little off the dock and caught two small bass. We went back to the cottage to wait for Stacy’s arrival. I had a headache and felt sick, mostly because of the heat and because I went too long between meals.

Stacy got here around 5pm and we had fish, fried potatoes, and fresh sweet corn for dinner. Stacy was pretty tired, but he came out on the boat with us. Unfortunately, it was incredibly windy and hard to troll out by the island. I caught a small bass and a walleye was the 19 ½ inches (in the slot), so we went home without any fish.

During the evening fishing Stacy fussed around with the old 8-track player that is in the boat, and we listened to some of Grandma and Papa’s old 8 track tapes. It was a blast! We couldn’t beleve the player still worked, and the speakers sounded pretty good for a boat that is from 1968.

Fish Count (Keepers): 0 (Boo!!!!)
            Where: Island 4
            Bait: worm harness

Fish Count (Throw Backs):

1 – Walleye (Gina)
            where: Island 4
            bait: worm harness
            size: 19 ½  - “slotters”

Fish Count (Total):
            6 – Walleye
            3 – Bass
            12 – Walleye (throw back)
                        2 little ones
                        10 in the slot

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Temagami 2011: Fishing Trip with Dad, Day 5: Wednesday

Temagami 2011: Day 5, Wednesday, July 20

Wow! What a great fishing day! Dad and I just got in from our evening fishing out by Island 4 and it was fantastic! Well, it depends on how you feel about the Ontario fishing regulations. I’ve explained this in previous posts of previous years, but you can’t keep a walleye that is between 18 and 24 inches. They are considered to be breeders and so you have to let them go so they can make babies. You can keep only one over 24 inches and generally, a “keeper” walleye is 16 inches and over. Sometimes you can keep one that is more than 15, but only if it’s fat.

Tonight we caught six in the slot! We had a blast. We just kept catching them as we were going through the 20-25 foot trough. First dad caught one, then I caught one, and then from there on I don’t remember the order. (We took pictures of each one, so I will upload those when I have faster internet connection.) We only caught one that we could keep – a 16-inch that I thought was something tiny as he barely put up a fight. Grandma, if you’re reading this, you probably think it’s a shame we couldn’t keep those fish! (My grandma used to get so mad about the slot regulations – which were put into affect almost 10 years ago now.)

During the day we mostly just hung around. After breakfast (French toast and peameal bacon), we went to Caribou and still fished off the rocks. It was extremely windy on the lake and I tried leeches as bait instead of minnows. I caught two small bass, but for the most part there was no action. One of the bass I caught swallowed the hook – there was no way he was going to survive. So dad just undid the hook and threw him back with the hook still in him. Apparently, the hook will rust and he’ll be able to live, as opposed to him dying if we would try and use the pliers to get the hook out. I know it’s weird to think of a fish swimming around with a hook in its throat, but he’ll still be able to eat and live just fine. I felt good about that since I always hate when the fish swallow the hook and they end up dying in the attempt to get the hook out.

After Caribou we went for a swim in the lake, which was very choppy due to the wind. But the weather was warm and so it was refreshing to cool of in the lake. I think when Stacy comes up I’m going to swim with him to the island across the bay.

Dinner was a bit of a mystery, considering the grocery store still didn’t have chicken when we went back to check. So we bought some pork chops and dad cooked those with noodles and salad. It ended up being a very tasty dinner.

It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through our stay here. It always goes too fast. Luckily for me, I’m staying another eight days with Stacy canoeing in the backcountry, but it’s not the same as fishing and being with my dad. If only we could afford a cottage up here…

Fish Count (Keepers):
Where: Island 4
Bait: worm harness

1 – Walleye (Gina)
size: 16 inches

Fish Count (Throw Backs):

4 – Walleye (Gina)
where: Island 4
bait: worm harness
size: 19, 20 ½, 21 ½, 22 ½ inches – all “slotters”

2 – Walleye (Dad)
where: Island 4
bait: worm harness
size: 20 ½, 21 ½ inches – all “slotters”

Fish Count (Total):
6 – Walleye
3 – Bass
11 – Walleye (throw back)
2 little ones
9 in the slot

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Temagami 2011: Fishing Trip with Dad, Day 4: Tuesday

Temagami 2011: Day 4, Tuesday, July 19

We set an alarm for 5:30 to go fishing in Spawning Bay. We were in the boat by 6:15, but had to turn around shortly after our departure for my glasses. The boat ride to Spawning Bay took about 40 minutes. The lake was smooth and foggy. It still mindboggling how such a big lake can ever be completely calm, but at 6 in the morning, it is. We didn’t see any boats until we got to the Hub (main part of Temagami), and then there were only two. Spawning Bay was beautiful – very peaceful, with only two cottages (which dad doesn’t remember them being there “back in the day”) and three nice looking campsites. At least two of them were nice looking – one I couldn’t figure out whether it actually was supposed to be a campsite it was so grown over.

We fished in the bay for a couple hours, mostly catching small bass. I guess that makes sense since this is where they come to spawn in the spring, but dad and I thought there would be a few big ones hanging around. We had a great time anyway, and towards the end of it we started catching more bass (getting bigger, but still not big enough to keep) in one particular rocky spot.

After fishing and not knowing what time it was we headed over to Bear Island (the local Indian Reservation) for some lunch at the chip stand. Unfortunately the chip stand wasn’t open this summer because the owner couldn’t find anyone to work it. The guy there that was running his gift shop was really friendly, and despite not ever wearing a watch, he went into the back room to check the time for us. “10 minutes to 11.” A little bit early for lunch, but dad and I had breakfast at 5:45, so we were hungry. We headed down towards the Hub to Loon Lodge, a little island that has a “snack bar”. Dad and I ate the deliciously healthy breaded chicken sandwich and poutine fries. If you don’t know, poutine fries are smothered in gravy and topped with cheese. I forgot about the cheese part, which I don’t care for, but I asked for the gravy on the side and it was excellent. (Not as good, of course, and Stever’s chips and demi-glose from the High Street Pub.)

We wanted to head up the North Arm of the lake because dad had never been up there. I had been to Ferguson Bay, Whitefish Bay, and Sharp Rock Inlet on the canoe trip with Stacy in 2007. I really liked it up there – particularly Sharp Rock Inlet, which was full of tiny islands and big rocks. However, we didn’t go up there because there was a huge rain cloud to the north, and we weren’t sure which direction the storm was moving. (It turns out we could have gone and been just fine – but that’s all hindsight.)

After lunch we headed back up the Northeast Arm (where the town of Temagami is located). We decided to detour to the mouth of the South Tetapega River (we had gone up the inlet of the North Tetapega a few years ago in the rented aluminum boat), but we never quite made it that far in because the lily pads beat up the little motor, which is about 10 horsepower and the one we use for trolling. I ended up having to paddle us out to deep enough water that dad could start up the big motor (90 hp). Back in the Northeast Arm we went over to the Beaver Dam to try and catch some minnows and fish. The minnows proved to be much smarter than we gave them credit for. Our bread was appetizing to the little minnows, but the bigger ones would have none of it. We didn’t catch very many in the end. We put a minnow on a hook and stuck it in the water by the boat and there were lots of little bass going after it. The one that snagged it was a rock bass, and as I was bringing him in the minnow got free and survived. Just as dad and I were taking note of the fortune of the minnow a small bass came up and ate him! So it’s true that fish waste no time in going after injured minnows. If that’s the case, I wonder why we don’t catch more bass at Caribou.

We got back to our cottage a little after 1 and went for a swim. While in the lake I wrestled with untangling the lily pads that were wrapped tightly around the little motor’s propeller. Again, in hindsight, it might have worked just to put the motor in reverse, but I was able to clear the propeller after a few minutes of tearing away at the lily pads.

Exhausted for our morning, we headed into town to get chicken at the grocery store. Ha. Try again. No chicken to be found (there were a few frozen pieces on Saturday when we went). There was a plethora of strip steaks and rib-eye steaks, but we decided just to have hamburgers and salad for dinner. There were also no eggs – they do carry them, but they were out. Dad and I commented on how this grocery store is operating on a lose-lose situation: If they don’t keep a solid stock of food then people won’t be able to rely on them (like we did for meats and eggs), and if people can’t rely on them, they’ll buy their groceries in North Bay or New Liskard and then the grocery store won’t have enough costumers to carry an ample stock. There really is no easy solution to this dilemma. When dad and I stopped in North Bay, I didn’t let him by meat or eggs because I told him we should support the grocery store in Temagami and buy it there. But it’s not always available in Temagami. It’s hard to say what we’ll do next year – will we buy more groceries in North Bay or try again with the Temagami store?

After dinner dad and I both fell asleep for about an hour. We woke up around 6:30 and hurriedly got ready to head out on the boat. Back to Island 4 to evening fishing! It was a beautiful night – the lake was calm and the sun was warm (a little too warm, maybe). We had quite a few bites, especially with bass at first. Dad ended up catching two walleyes about 16 and 17 ¾. They were perfect keeper size. Later on I caught a “slotter” – a 20-inch walleye. We took a picture and then bid him farewell. It felt good to catch him because for most of the night I was only catching bottom. We caught the fish in a different location – off a shoal of Island 4.

The mosquitoes ate us alive coming back in, since we quit a bit later than we usually do. Right now I’m scratching the 2 millions bites that are on my thighs.

Fish Count (Keepers):
Where: Island 4
Bait: worm harness

2 – Walleye (Dad)
size: around 16 inches and 17 ¾ inches

Fish Count (Throw Backs):

1 – Walleye (Gina)
where: Island 4
bait: worm harness
size: 20 inches – “slotter”

Fish Count (Total):
5 – Walleye
3 – Bass
5 – Walleye (throw back)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Temagami 2011: Fishing Trip with Dad, Day 3: Monday


Temagami 2011: Day 3, Monday July 18

The day started out with a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon (nitrate free for me), fried potatoes, and toast. Yum. After breakfast we headed into town to run some errands and then went over to Caribou to still fish from the rocks. It was warm and the lake was just a tad too calm. We didn’t have much action – after about an hour or so we had a small bass and a couple of bites that we missed.

We took another boat ride, this time down to the Marina to get gas for the boat ($1.65 liter or $6.27 a gallon!). It’s incredible how expensive gas is up here… well over $5 anywhere in Canada. Dad said they were just selfish at the Marina because in town it’s $1.38/liter. They know that they are the only gas service for the boats on this end of the lake.

Dinner was hamburgers and mushroom gravy with noodles – another childhood favorite. I never have it except when dad makes it for me in Temagami.

Went out to Island 4 for our evening fishing. We’ve been fishing in a 20-25 foot deep trough out from the island and seem to be catching them there. Tonight we caught two bass and two walleye, but only kept one of the walleyes because the other was only 15 inches – not very big. Dad would have kept him, but I thought he needed to grow bigger.

Sorry this entry is so short – I’m a little behind on these and I can’t really remember what all we did on Monday. It was a relaxing day. The weather has been great up here. Even though it’s been hot, it doesn’t feel it because of the lake and the natural breeze.

Fish Count (Keepers):
            Where: Island 4
            Bait: worm harness

1 – Walleye (Dad)
            size: around 16 inches

2 – Bass (Gina & Dad)
            size: ? (keepers but not huge)

Fish Count (Throw Backs):

1 – Walleye (Gina)
            where: Island 4
            bait: worm harness
            size: 15 inches – too small.

Fish Count (Total):
            3 – Walleye
            3 – Bass
            4 – Walleye (throw back)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Temagami 2011: Fishing Trip with Dad, Day 2: Sunday

Temagami 2011: Day 2, Sunday, July 17



Woke up to realize we forgot to buy eggs at the grocery store yesterday. Not a problem for any other town, but in this small town, the tiny, almost non-existent grocery store is closed on Sundays. So just cereal and toast for breakfast.

Watched a bit of the final day of the British Open then headed over to Gramps to buy minnows (and eggs). I also browsed a book in the general store called, “Bear Attacks in Canada,” which I shouldn’t have done. I’m already freaked out about the possibility of being eaten by a black bear while Stacy and I are on our canoe trip, I don’t need to read several accounts of actual attacks by black bears. Although the book did have good advice about what to do if a bear does attack, depending on the situation. I don’t really remember much of it, and I’m too scared to go back and look at the book. I was on edge for a good couple of hours after reading some of it.

It was hot, hot, hot on today! Dad and I went swimming in the lake (we also did this yesterday) and the temperature was perfect. The water was warm enough that it didn’t even sting when we dove in. We also took the boat out for a spin. We went over to the beaver damn and threw the line in there. We got a few bites, but didn’t catch anything. I drove the boat around the lake a bit, but it was really windy and there were lots of waves breaking on the water. (Stacy – I thought of us trying to paddle down this lake and how impossible it would be. I’m beginning to wonder if Lady Evelyn will be the same way…)

After our swim and boat ride we watched the second half of the Women’s World Cup, and dad made fish and potatoes for dinner. It was a great game, and I can’t believe we lost in the penalty kicks! What an intense way to decide a match though. (For those of you that don’t know, I use to be a goalie and always enjoyed the rush of penalty shoot-outs.)

Let’s see… it rained/thunder off and on the whole day, and just as we got to Island 4 a storm started to roll down the lake. We weren’t too concerned until I saw lighting, and then I made dad take us back in. We fished for a little off some islands right across from Temagami Shores, but it started to rain so we called it quits. It was a smart move as it stormed the rest of the night. It was cool to watch the lightening storm from inside the cottage.

Fish Count: 0

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Temagami 2011: Fishing Trip with Dad, Day 1: Saturday


Temagami 2011: Day 1, Saturday, July 16

We arrived in the Temagami area around noon after a long, tiring drive from PA, hauling the boat behind us. We stopped in North Bay for groceries, Rockpine at Marten River for breakfast, and a new stop – Gramps, to get our fishing licenses. (Dad’s – the local bait and tackle store – closed last fall, and so we’ll have to find a new place to get our bait for the week.) To our surprise and delight, when we walked into Gramps we saw Jim, the owner of the now-closed Dad’s. He is working a few days a week at Gramps and also doing maintenance for Temagami Shores. It was really great to see him, considering we were just commiserating about Dad’s not being open and not being able to catch up with Jim. He looked healthy and happy, and said that he and his wife are moving out of town to be closer to family.

We checked in but couldn’t get into our room yet, so we put the boat in the water. No problems there, although the whole process takes a bit of time. We took the boat out on the water to get it warmed up and when we rode by the Pacey’s dad said he saw people sitting outside. So we turned around and tied the boat up at their dock and Diana, Dorothy and Verdun’s daughter, greeted us. Verdun and Dorothy were home and we got to sit and visit with them. Verdun is very weak after his heart attack and Dorothy is weak from her condition, but both are in good spirits. We sat for a while with the three of them and caught up.

After we got into our cottage and unpacked we ran our errands in town – “dump” water, grocery store, and Busy Bee to order our raspberry pie. The Temagami Co-Op (local grocery store) also closed this fall, but reopened in July. It’s pretty bare bones in the store. All the shelves are empty except for necessities. It was sad to see it that way, but I was also thankful and appreciative it was open at all. The winter must have been difficult for the locals. I’m sure there was someone in town selling milk and eggs and bread, but for anything more than that you’d have to drive an hour up the road to the nearest grocery store.

We ate dinner out so we could save some time, especially since both dad and I were running on fumes for the journey. We ate at the Orient Garden and had a chance to talk to the owners, Helen and Terry, who both asked about Grandma and Papa.

We went for a quick swim in the lake (warm) and then go ready to go fishing. We headed down to Island 4 and we had the whole place to ourselves. The little motor gave dad trouble, and for a brief time the depth finder didn’t work, but soon we were up and running like usual. We trolled mostly in this 20-25 foot trough that dad knows off of the point of the island. I caught a nice bass in about 12 feet of water early in the night. Later dad caught a nice walleye in the slot and then one that was too small to keep. In that same area dad also caught two nice walleyes that we kept and another one in the slot. All told it was a very good night and I’m sure we’ll be heading back there tomorrow night. We got back to the cottage around 10 and the mosquitoes were out in force.

Heard the loons out on the lake.

Fish Count (Keepers):
            Where: Island 4
            Bait: worm harness

2 – Walleye (Dad)
            size: both around 16 inches

1 – Bass (Gina)
            size: around 13 inches

Fish Count (Throw Backs):

3 – Walleye (Dad)
            where: Island 4
            bait: worm harness
            size: 19 ½ and 22 inches (“slotters”) and a small one.