Good and Plenty

I’m not supposed to be writing this.  I’m supposed to be packing for that ski trip I told you about.

But I couldn’t resist telling you about a few good things that have come my way lately.

This is the granola I made this morning, inspired by the wonderful blog Orangette.  My horoscope for today recommended that I “make something with honey” (in 40-odd years of reading my horoscope in the morning paper, I have never been similarly advised) so maybe it was in the stars, but it took Molly Wizenberg extolling the virtues of homemade granola and providing me with a few great recipes to convert me.  The house smelled great.  Do yourself a favor — read Orangette.  And make your own granola (I haven’t yet tried the recipe you’ll find by clicking on the above link.  I used an earlier Orangette granola recipe, which Molly adapted from Nigella Lawson.  You can find it in the Orangette recipe index).

(I also made my own pancake mix, but we haven’t tasted it yet, so I’m not ready to share the recipe.  I snuck in flax seeds.  Shhhh.  Don’t tell Jeff and the girls).

While I was making the granola, I listened to a few stories from The Moth, the live storytelling project based in New York.  I learned about The Moth last week, when I was asked to participate in a Spoken Word performance on March 20, as part of the Ballard Writers Collective.  The stories I heard today were funny and touching.  I’m looking forward  hearing more from The Moth during our eight hour road trip.  (I’ll tell you more about the March 20 event later).

As you know, I’m interested in eldercare and in spreading the word anytime I hear of anything that makes life easier for the elderly and their caregivers.  This recent post from The New Old Age is just such a thing.  At a networking event this week, I met an eldercare advisor and was reminded of this growing business.  If you are caring for someone and feel overwhelmed, you can hire a consultant to help you navigate Medicare, find senior housing, etc.  Also, Jane Gross told me to tell you about her Facebook page, where she provides useful updates and information for fans of A Bittersweet Season:  Caring for Our Aging Parents and Ourselves.

Yesterday, at Costco, I found this fantastic Near East-inspired vegetarian cookbook.  I’ve read about Yotam Ottolenghi and Plenty in my cooking magazines and in The Guardian, and have even made some of his recipes, but I was unprepared for how blown away I have been by this book.   I want to cook and eat everything in it.  Tonight.  Instead of packing.

Finally, it’s no secret that there are a few places I would rather be going than skiing.  But, to paraphrase Adele in her beautiful cover of this Bob Dylan song (you can buy the live version on iTunes), I’d go to the ends of the earth for the ones I love (though eight hours in the car with a teen and pre-teen might be pushing it).

(Check out what Margaret Cho had to say in response to Karl Lagerfeld’s snipe about Adele after the Grammys. Thanks, Theo Nestor, for sharing it.)

That’s all, folks.  I’ll be diligently doing my physical therapy exercises and writing next week, and maybe even doing a little bit of skiiing too.

Happy President’s Day.

Pain in the Neck

It’s 6:30 on a Friday morning and daughter #1 and I are sniping at each other.  I want to be sure she has everything she needs for the ski bus she will take from school to Snoqualmie Summit later in the afternoon.  Skis, poles, boots, helmet, gear bag and food are all piled up by our front door, just as they are every Friday morning.  But this morning, I am bitchier than usual and daughter #1 is rolling her eyes and refusing to go through the checklist with me, though we both remember her maiden ski bus trip last year, when we packed everything except the ski boots, an omission she did not discover until she was on the mountain, ready to go.

I am bitchy because I haven’t slept for the past several nights, due to a pain in my neck.  I’d like daughter #1, who is 13 and can’t always control herself, to stop being a pain in the bleep and cut me some slack.  It doesn’t happen and we part on unfriendly terms.

Later, after I have been diagnosed with a herniated disc, pumped full of steroids and set up with a physical therapy regimen, I will have the foresight to send her a text apologizing for my bitchiness.

Still later, when she has been strapped to a backboard and rushed down the mountain in an ambulance, I will look at her texted response to my apology:  “I’m sorry I was a whiny schmuck.”   Me: “I’m glad you’re my whiny schmuck  :).”  Her:  :).

The next day we are walking companionably together in stiff-necked glory, me, whacked out on steroids and pain meds and a muscle relaxant, her, a little sore and just beginning to realize what might have been.

She tells me she dreaded making the call to us that night, knowing we would be upset.  I tell her how helpless we felt because we weren’t there to comfort her and about the confusion of receiving several truncated calls from the ski patrol, her ski instructor and a chaperone who happened to be a doctor, trying to piece together what had happened and assess her situation.  She’d fallen and somersaulted, landing on her back, while learning mogul safety, but had managed to ski herself down the mountain (good sign) before realizing she felt dizzy (bad sign).  As a precaution, she was strapped to a backboard and it was determined that she should be taken by ambulance to the emergency room.  The experts deliberated over which one, and we reacted to each possibility: the one nearest our house (good sign), the one at Seattle’s largest trauma hospital (bad sign), and finally, the one closest to the mountain (good sign).

She tells me what it was like to be immobilized on her back in a screaming ambulance, crying, with no one but an awkward EMT to comfort her with small talk.

I tell her about rushing to the hospital, a 45 minute drive from our house, with her pajama-clad frightened younger sister in tow.  On the way, something smashed into our windshield, aimed at my heart.  “Have we been shot????” Jeff was rattled by the sudden impact.  Indeed, there is a bullet-like hole on the outside of the glass and it seems hard to believe it could have come from a rock.

By 11:00 p.m., backboard just a memory,

we are at a drive-through Krispy Kreme at a strip-mall in Issaquah laughing at the strangeness of our situation and allowing the first waves of relief to sink in, along with the sugar.

Though I am unable to turn my head toward the backseat to smile, we agree that this was the mother of all gazumps.

Daughter #2 suggests I can bog about this.  I feel a twinge of guilt over what we may be turning into.

The pharmacist calmly explained all the possible side effects of my meds.  My friend Diane, a nurse, puts it in plainer terms.  “You’re going to be bloated and bitchy and miserable.”  I already feel that way 11 days of each month, thanks to my perimenopausal PMS, which is kind of like PMS on steroids and which I have learned to manage with exercise, smoked salmon, red wine and my private reserve of dark chocolate.

I keep it on a special shelf in the freezer.

Now that I am experiencing perimenopausal PMS and am on steroids, I realize that my previous forays into moodiness were a walk in the park compared to this new dimension of craziness.  I have never suffered from chronic depression, nor have I ever taken anti-depressants.  I have a new-found empathy for those who do.

My funny family is able to make light of Mom’s ‘roid rage and Daughter #1 buys me some Doublemint gum to cool me down. But, though I stop taking the muscle relaxants after the first one, and limit the pain meds to just one at bedtime, my consciousness is altered, like a mid-life follower of Timothy Leary, though I drive a minivan instead of a magic bus.

I take a four-mile walk on a glorious sunshiny day and my iPod astutely shuffles to Katrina and the Wave to help cheer me up.

It doesn’t work.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the intensity of feeling one experiences in middle school, when the mountains can seem more beautiful than they ever have before

yet you question your place in this world.  I have a new-found empathy for those who feel these extremes and also have to navigate the intricate social dynamics of the school lunchroom.

As the pain lessens and the meds wind down, I am regaining enough healthy perspective to understand that we dodged a number of bullets.  That fateful Friday would have been the 17th birthday of my friend Beth’s son Ian. There was a madman with a gun terrorizing a neighborhood to our north, where residents were advised to stay home behind locked doors.  There was an accident at our Sunday Farmers Market, resulting in the serious injury of a baby. I think the moon was full.

Our insurance will pay to get the windshield fixed. Daughter #1 is planning to go skiing again on Friday and I’ll be up and running again in no time. Over the years, we will re-tell the story of Daughter #1’s ambulance adventure when she comes home from college for the holidays or whenever we pass a drive-through Krispy Kreme kiosk.

In the grand scheme of things, I am grateful that in the end, this turned out to be nothing more than a pain in the neck.

Though many things can cause them, herniated discs can also be a by-product of aging. I’m grateful to my Facebook friends who stuck their necks out for me by sharing their stories and favorite remedies.  Thanks to Nancy Schatz Alton, a member of the Ballard Writers Collective and co-author of The Healthy Back Book, which jump-started my efforts to take charge of my own recovery.  Thanks to Christina Wilsdon, witty writer and animal aficionado, for suggesting Treat Your Own Neck, by Robin MacKenzie.  Thanks to my neighbor Shannon for the nightly laser treatments, to Diane for the frankness and the heating pad, and to Liz and Paul for the promise of a rotisserie chicken and cookies.

In addition to drugs, physical therapy and ergonomic office arrangements, everyone agreed that dark chocolate has charms to soothe the savage beast.   Some kindred spirits also felt that the pair of pink shoes I’ve been ogling would certainly have profound therapeutic benefits.

Finally, I haven’t felt much like eating because of the water retention, and have felt even less like cooking, which, if you know me, you know signals that my stars (not just my neck) are out of alignment.  But this morning, while thinking about anti-inflammatory, all-around good for you foods, I remembered this wonderful salad from the cookbook Turquoise: A Chef’s Travels in Turkey by Greg and Lucy Malouf.  Afiyet Olsun! (Turkish for enjoy your meal)

Green Olive, Walnut and Pomegranate Salad

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted for 5-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  After cooling, pour the nuts into a towel and rub well to remove skin.  Then coarsely chop

1/2 cup pitted green olives, washed and coarsely chopped

1/4 unsalted shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

2 small shallots, peeled and finely diced

1 red serrano chile, seeded and finely diced

1Tablespoon shredded flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 Tablespoon olive oil

I Tablespoon walnut oil

splash of pomegranate molasses

juice of 1/2 lemon

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently.  Let stand five minutes before serving so flavors can meld.

Upstairs, Downstairs

First week of the new year and I feel like I’m recovering from jet lag, despite the fact that I didn’t go anywhere.  I’ve been dragging myself out of bed at 6:00 a.m., am exhausted by 9:00 a.m. and brain dead by 8:00 p.m.  Though I didn’t exactly vacation during the holidays — there were special meals to prepare, houseguests to host and lots of laundry and dishes — the absence from our usual routine was refreshingly stress-free.  We slept in, watched multiple episodes of Downton Abbey and ate whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

No sooner did January begin, then the onslaught of emails and calendar commitments began, along with a series of professional and personal deadlines, resulting in a feeling of impending doom.

It doesn’t help that the Seattle winter rain has begun in earnest, making excursions, especially evening ones, bone-chilling and soggy.  No wonder Daughter #1 wants a cloak for her birthday.  Cloaks make venturing out in nasty weather seem dashing and romantic, not mundane and pitiful.

Let us be off to piano lessons!

Thank goodness for books.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to finish the ever-growing stack of books on my bedside table.  Usually I have so many magazines and newspapers to read that the flow of my book reading is constantly interrupted (kind of like trying to work with the alluring distraction of email, Facebook and Linked in). I’m in a Mother-Daughter book group and a grownup book group, so am often juggling multiple tomes. Plus, I’m usually so tired by the time I crawl into bed that I tend to fall asleep with the book, newspaper or magazine on my face.

I have a pretty big stack of back issues of the New Yorker too

But while I was sick, I took to my bed for a few days and read.

Books.   One at a time, for hours at a time.  Just like I used to do when I was younger and didn’t have to contend with the competing distractions of electronics and other people.

I read Iranian-American chef Donia Bijan’s delightful memoir Maman’s Homesick Pie (and used her mother’s delicious fruit and pine nut stuffing recipe for our Christmas dinner) and finished A Tale of Two Cities, a book I hadn’t read since high school.  There is something very satisfying about reading a book with a famous first line and a famous last line, though when you try to apply these to say, the middle school experience, sometimes people don’t fully appreciate the comparison.

I read Day of Honey, journalist Annia Ciezadlo’s memoir of food, love and war (complete with recipes) in Baghdad and Beirut, which also includes such universal topics as mother-in-law clashes and spousal career clashes (as in, “I gave up my job to follow you to a war zone, I’m just beginning to establish myself as a freelancer and now you want me to leave?!”).

One of my favorite scenes in the book is Ciezadlo’s description of dodging gunfire aimed at her kitchen window to make sure the pasta wasn’t overcooked —  a woman after my own heart.

She has an especially garlicky recipe for melokeya that enticed me to buy some of the dried leaves so I can try it.

The women of Downton Abbey don’t appear to read books,  but the “upstairs” ones seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in their bedrooms resting, despite the fact that they have no jobs or household responsibilities, other than plotting and dressing for dinner.  Their bedrooms are like fortresses, impenetrable from the demands of public life.

We all know that in modern life, we are more like “downstairs” women (see paragraph one), though not as properly turned-out.

So as an experiment, and out of desperation, during the first few days of re-entry week, I tried heading upstairs to my bedroom in the early evening to “rest” with a book. (Michael Ondaatje‘s The Cat’s Table).  I’ve since decided that books will be my “upstairs” reading and magazines, newspapers and Facebook (where I get many of my ideas about what to read, courtesy of NPR, Slate, Salon, the Atlantic and my other “likes”) will be left downstairs.  The true test of this approach will come this Sunday night, when I have to forego the temptation to get into bed with the Sunday New York Times, my guilty pleasure.

Someone I know will appreciate the extra space

Work will also be upstairs, in the office, instead of downstairs at the dining room table, where’s it’s too easy to throw in a load of laundry or soak the beans for Boston Baked Beans, the first of many colonial cooking endeavors we will undertake this month, courtesy of Daughter #2 and her creative teacher Ms. P.  (I am envisioning an amusing twist on European Chicken Night, a F**k You, European Tyrants! recipe for Chicken and Wild Rice).

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.  By mid-life, we’ve had years of dueling January admonishments to eat a more healthy diet, exercise more, be more productive, but also to take time for ourselves to stop and smell the roses and unplug (see what Pico Iyer had to say in the New York Times on the joy of quiet.  I read it last Sunday night in bed).

We also know that come early February, all of this will be forgotten in the push to promote romance and expensive chocolate.

I sometimes entertain myself by imaging the editors at O magazine, fed up with devising countless different magazine covers enticing us to “live our best lives”, creating a “dummy” issue:

Don't Bother

Stick With Your Dead-End Job Till Retirement

You Can Buy Bigger Clothes in Smaller Sizes at Target

I leave you now to exercise and tackle those pesky deadlines, while the Boston Baked Beans are in the oven.

But know that tonight, when I head upstairs and take to my bed with my book, to paraphrase Sydney Carton, whose fate was far more gruesome and noble than mine will be this evening, “it is a far, far better rest that I go to…”

Blessed are the Turkey-Makers

There are serious post-holiday blog entries to be written about multi-generational interactions with family, making a difference in the world and whether you should make the same stuffing each Thanksgiving because your children and grandchildren will cherish the Proustian memories it invokes long after you are gone.

 I feel this way whenever I make sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top,

despite the fact that a certain person in my household scoffs at this paean to the Thanksgivings of my youth, even though he has a strong Proustian response to the ridges in jellied canned cranberry sauce.

I married him anyway and serve it beside the fresh stuff. (Our daughters diplomatically eat both “mom’s” and “dad’s” cranberry sauce, but let the record show that they LOVE mom’s sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, a dish I am confident will be eaten by my great-great grandchildren, long after the desire to eat anything from a can has been bred out of the family line).

Ideas for my serious post-holiday blog entry have been bubbling to the surface like soup dumplings for the past several days and I have been looking forward to setting them down on my screen and weaving them together.

But not today.  Today I am sick in bed.  In fact, I am typing this from my bed.  If you knew me you would be shocked to hear that I am in bed, as I’m one of those people who rarely gets sick and if I do, I keep functioning at full throttle.

Years ago, I began referring to people like me as turkey- makers:  we roll up our sleeves and pitch in without being asked,

We also know how to improvise

we make chicken matzoh ball soup for sick family and friends, we volunteer as a matter of course and we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves.

Not all turkey-makers are women and not all women are turkey-makers but, just as there seems to be a gender-related pre-disposition towards watching football and waiting for pie, the same can be said about turkey-makers.

Even when I’m not sick, one of my favorite ways to spend the day is cooking and writing.  So as a way to heal myself, since there is nobody around to make or bring me soup, I’m doing just that, with intermittent stints in bed.  Here are the highlights from a day in the life of a sick turkey-maker:

6:15 a.m. – begrudgingly awaken so I can make breakfast and pack lunch for the middle-schooler, who will surely complain about the injustice of having to get up so early after four days off from school.

7:30 a.m. – eye the butternut squash that did not get used during Thanksgiving weekend and peruse my many recipes for butternut squash soup.  Though I am sorely tempted by one I have not yet tried – Butternut Soup with Pear, Cider and Vanilla Bean from Molly Wizenberg’s book A Homemade Life, we have no cider and the goal is to avoid a trip to the store.  Instead I settle on the butternut squash soup from The Vineyard Kitchen by Maria Helm Sinskey.  If you are looking for holiday gifts, I recommend this seasonally-organized collection of recipes that always seem to turn out well.  I also recommend Molly’s book, for the stories as well as the recipes, and her charming blog Orangette.

9:15 a.m. – buoyed by the fact that daughter #2 woke up and got ready for school without a fuss, I head off to aerobics class with plenty of tissues in my pocket.

9:45 a.m. – back home again after realizing that jumping jacks, throbbing heads and runny noses are an unfortunate combination.  I throw the butternut squash in the oven and get into bed with the Sunday New York Times and a mug of Darjeeling tea.

10:45 a.m. – I’m out of bed, the squash is out of the oven and I decide to finally get around to making the ginger molasses pumpkin bread from Food 52 that I’d meant to have on hand for our holiday houseguests. I’m hoping that this can be my new go-to pumpkin bread to replace Joan Mondale‘s pumpkin bread recipe that was given to me when I moved to Washington, DC in 1982.   I go back to bed with my computer.

11ish  a.m. – As the spicy smell of the pumpkin bread makes its way upstairs and manages to penetrate my blocked nasal passages, I feel as comforted as if there were a Jewish grandmother in the house.  The long-forgotten country- western song I’m My Own Grandpa comes to mind when I remember that I am both patient and nurse.

11:45 a.m. – The Food 52 recipe comments warn that determining the “doneness” of the pumpkin cake is deceptive and it is easily undercooked.  I leave it in for fifteen extra minutes and peel and slice the squash.

12ish p.m. – While the bread cools I make a package of instant Tom Yom soup bought and kept on hand for just such an occasion.  I notice the noodles are green and are made with morohetya, which I have never heard of.  I have a hunch, which is confirmed, that morohetya is another word for melokheya, also known as Egyptian spinach, and the eponymous garlicky soup, which is one of Egypt’s most popular national dishes and one of the world’s best soups.  I wish I had some now. (You’ll find two different recipes by clicking on the related links).

12:30 p.m. – My husband, who has many fine qualities despite his appalling taste in cranberry sauce, calls to say hi and when he realizes I am sick suggests I stop cooking and take care of myself. I partially follow his advice and call S., now fully recovered from  pneumonia, and ask her to bring daughter #1 to tonight’s soccer tournament game at the other end of town at rush hour.  I feel better already.

I’m pretty sure the pumpkin bread is overcooked.

Here’s where things get tricky for a sick turkey-maker. I got so involved in cooking and writing that I forgot to go back to bed.  The kids will be home soon, I still have to make the butternut squash soup and the biscuits I’d planned to go with them, which I forgot to tell you about and which may be overly ambitious, even for me.  I also need to put together the graphics and links for this post and manage to get some rest so I can head out into the world tomorrow and be a productive member of society.

But I don’t want to leave you without a recipe. Before we had kids and had to ration our cooking of spicy foods, our favorite recipe to cure almost all ailments was Armenian Chicken and Lentil Soup with Dried Apricots.  We used to keep a supply on hand in the freezer all winter in Tupperware containers labeled ACS. I think I got the recipe from the Washington Post in 1994 or so.  The bit of recipe sleuthing I just did (instead of going back to bed) indicates that this recipe may have come from a book called Chicken Soup Cookbook by Janet Hazen.

And in case you were worried, I managed to salvage the pumpkin bread by spreading it with Peach Preserves with Vanilla and Bourbon, made by Deluxe Foods and purchased at our very own Ballard Sunday Farmer’s Market.  Check out their website for holiday gift ideas (they ship) and places to purchase.

For all the turkey- makers out there, this one’s for you.

Armenian Chicken and Lentil Soup with Dried Apricots

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 teaspoons each ground mace and cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup dried red lentils, sorted and washed

12 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup minced, dried apricots

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1/2 cup lemon juice

salt, pepper to taste

In a heavy-bottomed 6-quart saucepan, cook onion, garlic, sesame seeds and spices in olive oil over moderate heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add lentils, chicken stock and apricots and bring to as boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to moderate and cook 40-50 minutes, until lentils are very tender. Add chicken and lemon juice and cook 5 minutes longer.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

A well-loved recipe

The Last Word on Fish Oil

My husband Jeff is probably relieved that I have found a venue out of his earshot, where I can get fish oil out of my system, so to speak. (Actually, you want fish oil in your system, but I’m getting to that).

I admit that I have become a colossal bore when it comes to fish oil.  Urged by a sports medicine doctor to take prescription fish oil (Lovaza) to ease my achy knees, improve my addled memory and generally make me a happy person, I grew suspicious and began researching prescription versus non-prescription fish oil supplements to see if the prescription version had merits beyond benefiting the pharmaceutical industry. I can wax poetic about EPA and DHA concentration levels, fishy burps and the significance of FDA approval, and rant that I have found nothing conclusive to justify the expense of Lovaza, save the zealous glint in my doctor’s eyes.

Those of you on the far side of 40 may have noticed that at parties and soccer fields, the talk among your peers has become decidedly geriatric. It starts out innocently enough – a guy tells you he pulled his groin playing soccer; a woman says she has “hip issues” when she runs.  Before too long, men stop playing basketball, women take up yoga and everyone you know has either had knee surgery or knows someone who knows someone who has.

We used to mock H., one of the more eccentric among our circle of friends, for quoting his cholesterol numbers every time we got together (he was an early adopter).  Soon, however, the talk among our more mainstream acquaintances turned from sports medicine to LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol ratios.  Nobody talked about sex, music or movies anymore.

It was Jeff’s bad luck that at parties, often when he joined a conversation-in-progress, the speaker would be holding forth on arterial plaque, custom orthotic shoe inserts, Vitamin D and, eventually in my case, fish oil.  A person might wonder, if this is what we’re discussing over drinks when we’re in our 40s, what will we be talking about when we are in our 70s?

My obsession with fish oil probably has its roots in the early years of our courtship when, eager to fit in, I sat uncomplainingly in the Lafuma recliner belonging to our friend Jerry, a legendary Lummi Island reefnet salmon fisherman, and feigned interest while he repeatedly showed a video of a reefnet gear pulling in a big catch.  Jerry’s house, which has been extended so far that it nearly sits on the road median, offers a prime view of the reefnet gears on Legoe Bay.

 Reefnetting is an ancient, environmentally-friendly form of salmon fishing.  Jeff had spent his teenage summers reefnetting on Lummi Island as part of Jerry’s crew, and had formed lasting friendships and lasting memories as a result.

Chilko, Adams, Horsefly…  These are some of the tributaries of the Fraser River (British Columbia’s longest river and the chief Pacific salmon spawning grounds in North America outside of Alaska) for which salmon runs are named. The river plays host to all five species of salmon which, after birth, migrate to the Pacific Ocean, eventually returning to their native streams to spawn and die. In any given year, scores of different salmon runs, with millions of salmon, return home. Jeff can still recite many of the dominant runs in order and remembers the early Stuarts of 1981, the 1983 Horsefly Run and the overall consistency of an Adams run.

Eager to see a salmon run in action, our family has made two fish forays to British Columbia in recent years:  to Chilko Lake, near the Chilko and Chilkotin Rivers (we traveled with ROAM, a Canadian boutique adventure travel company founded by the ever-entertaining Brian McCutcheon), where we observed bears in their natural habitat, feasting on salmon (bear photos are by Denise Greenberg),

and to the Adams River, where we witnessed the largest sockeye salmon run in a century.

Every year at Labor Day we gather on Lummi island with Jerry, our reefnetting friends, past and present, and all of our families.  If the fishing is open, Jeff will make a guest appearance to fish with Steve, Karen, Jim and Mark.  Later in the evening, we’ll enjoy salmon roe and crisp wine with Bob and Rachel, at the old reefnetter “ghetto,” on the deck of the house they have restored that used to belong to eccentric fisherman Will Wright.  Inevitably, there will be a full-on multi-generational salmon feast with Jerry, Sue, and assorted Andersons, Nesbits, Wrights and Moans.

Our kids are probably tired of hearing tales from the glory days, when Jeff, Michael, Peter and Craig became friends on Jerry’s gear, finding it hard to picture these now-graying men, who talk about their cholesterol*, as teenagers discovering their independence through fishing.

*Jeff wants you to know that he does not talk about his cholesterol

Our collective connection to fish feels far removed from those translucent golden horse pills in a bottle.

Still, these days, while Jeff is out reefnetting, I can sit beside Jerry in a Lafuma recliner and drone on about fish oil. Jerry gives me a run for my money and can recite from memory the concentration levels in all of the major over-the-counter brands.

In mid-September we received a visit in Seattle from Karen, with a broom in tow. As a crew member (albeit a guest one), she wanted Jeff to participate in a broom-signing ceremony to commemorate catching over 100,000 pounds of humpy salmon during the 2011 season.

I still don’t know if there’s something “fishy” about Lovaza or whether fish oil (prescription or over-the-counter) is the miracle supplement its fans claim it is.

The only thing I know for sure is that fish can be the glue that holds people together.

Lummi Island sunset