Thursday, May 22, 2014


We suck at fishing. That’s not just a statement. That is a FACT. We suck at fishing.

It’s not always go-go-go onboard a tugboat. There are weather delays. Berthing delays. Cargo supply delays. And sometimes they just don’t have anything for us to do. 

So in order to pass the time when we are at anchor, we sometimes throw a hook into the water and see what happens to bite it.
Most of the time, it’s nothing. 

The Redneck happens to have his own personal fishing rod and reel aboard the boat. Strike that…HAD his own personal fishing rod and reel aboard the boat. Right now it is somewhere at the bottom of the ocean attached to some unsuspecting fish who was just looking for a quick bite to eat.
Turns out, you should actually pay attention to what you are doing when you are fishing and have a line in the water. Even though we suck at fishing, even the blind mouse sometimes finds the cheese. Or if you prefer a furry tailed rodent, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then. Case in point, even this motley crew of idiots can catch an unsuspecting fish every once and a while. Problem is, when you catch a fish and it takes off with the hook in it’s mouth, you really should be holding onto the fishing rod. Otherwise, said fish, will take the whole rod/reel/line/hook/bait straight down to the bottom of the ocean with him if you don’t provide some sort of resistance. Which is exactly what happened. When fishing, you are supposed to be relaxed, at one with nature, kicking back and enjoying life and some downtime. Not screwing around on your misnamed smart phone. So last hitch we were down one fishing pole.

This trip, coming in for crew change, our misguided and easily distracted fisherman, purchased the Redneck a new fishing pole. Apparently, along with the new fishing pole came not just an extended warranty, but a bit of good luck. Seems you have to sacrifice a random fishing pole to the depths of Davey Jones’s Locker every now and then in order to catch fish.

Our orders were to sail from Corpus and head over to The River. For those unfamiliar, much like The City refers to New York City, The River refers to the mighty Mississippi River. Even if you live near a city or near a river, just saying, “Let’s go to the city” or “Let’s go down to the river” just doesn’t mean the same thing. The City is the Big Apple. The River is Big Muddy. It just is. Deal with it.

Anyways, so we were headed to The River. The trip takes approximately 2 days to go from Point A to Point B. Once again, we thought that we should once again try our luck and to throw out a line with a hook tied to it to see if we could catch something/anything with scales on it. When you suck at fishing, you aren’t too picky.

Midway into the second day of the trip, the phone in the wheelhouse rang. Naturally, I answered it.
“FISH ON!” Screamed the overly excited voice on the other end of the phone.
Wait?...What?!... “Fish on”? Never have those words ever been announced on this boat.
A quick spin around to look out the aft windows of the wheelhouse indeed confirmed the excited announcement. 

We had actually caught a fish!

Mongo. For the ladies.
So pretty. And delicious.
I have no idea how long the fish happened to be on the line before it was discovered. All I know is that it didn’t put up much of a fight when it was getting pulled in. Who cares! We had caught a fish!

A nice one too.
A second call to the wheelhouse confirmed exactly what we all had waited these many long years to hear, “We aren’t having pork chops tonight!”
I suggested that we write on the chalkboard something along the lines of, “Today’s Fresh Catch of the Day”
We were like giddy little school girls. We had caught a fish!
Two hours later, the fish had gone “from bait, to plate” (Nice, right? Feel free to use that one)
So called, “fresh” fish, at the supermarket had nothing on this one. Even “fresh” fish that you can buy down at the fishing piers had nothing on this one.
THIS was FRESH fish.
It was like angels frolicking on your taste buds.
It was the best “Fish Friday” we had ever had on the boat.

Once again, we are headed out to sea. Once again, we are headed through the area where we FINALLY caught a fish. Once again, we will have our lines out in the hopes that something with scales takes the bait. We all have our fingers crossed.

If we don’t catch anything, I’m planning on throwing a rod and reel overboard.

Hey, it worked once already.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Arts and Crafts

It took a while to write this post because I couldn’t move my hands. 

It’s usually a cold day in hell when people declare, “I’m ready to go back to work.”
But that is exactly what I proclaimed the other day. (I would immediately regret that statement as soon as we crew changed in Corpus Christi. HUGELY regret it.)

My wife likes to do art and crafts type stuff. So much so that she likes to write blog posts about it. Who knew?

It’s also topical, because we refer to our mandatory weekly chart corrections on the boat as “arts and crafts”. The more you know…

Sometimes her arts and crafts projects get me involved. Which is just a really nice way of saying that she makes me do arts and crafts type stuff. Which usually involves me designing and printing a t-shirt for her and her friends. Usually at the absolute very last minute.

I would have gladly designed a t-shirt for her this time home had I know what kind of arts and crafts she had planned for me this time home.

In reality, it wasn’t artsy. Or crafty. It was a full on construction project.

It started with a picture on Pinterest.
Helpful tip: If your wives/girlfriends/significant others haven’t discovered  Pinterest yet, now would be a REALLY good time to block access to that particular website. It’s empowering. It’s dangerous. It will lead to people trying things that they have absolutely no business trying to do. It will drain your bank account. It will lead to frustration. And in my case, it will lead to wanting to invest in Advil (Again. Still).

There was a picture of a very simple pergola on a free standing deck.
The offending picture.
Simple. Classy. Easy.
You may now insert maniacal laughter and calls of, “Don’t do it, stupid!”
Alas, you would be too late.

I don’t do simple.

Big. Better. Faster. Jeremy Clarkson screaming, “More power!” is my kind of project.
It’s also going to lead to my downfall. Or, at the very least, reliance on pain pills.

I was at work, so on my down time, I naturally took a simple design and made it all mine.
Sketches were sketched. Lists were compiled. Designs were laid out. Lumber and fasteners were priced out.  Locations and dimensions were all planned out. It was all very OCD. It was my kind of plan. I preplanned everything so that when I got home I would be ready to rock and roll with my arts and crafts.

And then my plan fell apart.

Somewhere along the line(and I’m not sure where this happened) my plan for doing a very nice free standing pergola in the backyard turned into doing TWO pergola’s in the backyard.

When they built our new house, they poured a very plain, very boring, concrete patio in the backyard. It wasn’t inviting. It wasn’t functional. It was a concrete pad. It needed to be changed. It needed arts and crafts. It needed construction. It needed a pergola.

But that’s not the pergola I had preplanned. It wasn’t the one I had drawn up plans for. Or the one I had cleared the woods in the backyard weeks before. That pergola happened to be a completely separate and completely different one.

So my pergola project, turned into pergola projects.

Obviously, more preplanning was going to be needed. So back to the drawing board I went.

I now had plans for two pergolas. I had twice as much wood. Twice as many nails, screws, lag bolts, washers, and assorted fasteners. Twice as many posts, stringers, headers, footers, and other construction type names for all my assorted wood products.  I also had 1200 pounds of concrete. The problem was (one of many), I had no way to get it to my house without 3,682 trips to the store.

Enter the nice people at the Lowe's Corporation.
For a mere $59 they would deliver everything that I needed to complete my pergola (now pergolas) project right to my front door. SEND IT! And when I happened to forget a few things (82 pieces of decking, actually)and called back very early the next morning to try to add it to my order, they had no problem helping me out. In less than 2 days, Lowe's took my order, fixed my order, gave me a discount, and delivered all of my arts and crafts supplies straight to my driveway. On a Sunday, no less. And earlier than they had expected. All in all, a well spent $59. Well done, Lowe's. Well done.

Sidebar: Lowe's Home Improvement World Headquarters is located in my town. Just a hop skip and a jump down the road. I think they were just nice to me just knowing that a 5 minute car ride would put me right on their front door. Instead, I may just visit them and tell them what an outstanding job they had done.

Lumber staging area
So I had wood. Lots of wood. And a plan. Two plans, actually.

The only thing I needed now to make this project even better was unseasonably hot temperatures to work in. Which I got. All week. I didn’t even have to pay extra for that. 
Another helpful tip: Buy sunblock. A lot of it. And actually use it.

It took me 3 days to build the first pergola on the concrete patio. It took another 2 days just to paint the thing.

Work in progress on pergola #1
Then I started on pergola #2. It took a while to get the posts set in concrete just the way I wanted them. Then more time to get everything level and just right. I was shooting to have pergola #2 be 24 feet long from end post to end post. It was 24 feet and 1/8 of an inch. Good enough for Government work!
Nice and straight
I wasn’t able to complete pergola #2. I still have to pour some more concrete and construct the built-in fire pit. But I made pretty good progress. Especially considering how difficult digging the post holes in stubbornly hard Carolina red clay is. And how bruised my shoulders are. And how scratched up my arms and legs are. And the fact that I couldn’t fully close my hands for 3 days. And the toll that working in 90 degree temperatures all week took.
Advil and ice water were my best friends.

And then I did something incredibly stupid. Even stupider than trying to build two pergolas on my time off. 
I said that I was ready to go back to work.

Now that I'm at work, I want to go back home again. And build a pergola. I'll even do it in 100 degree temperatures. I'll even build one for my wife's friends. 

Or did I just say something really stupid again?

I think I'm detecting a pattern. 

Now that I look at it, that pergola looks NOTHING like the Pinterest picture. Oh well.

Pergola #1. The finished project.