How I Got Crabs

How I Got Crabs

Yum, Yum. Look at this crab pot filled with so many mouth-watering Dungeness Crabs. At the grocery store, it can cost up to $9 a pound. That’s pretty darn expensive. Save money by doing it yourself. All you need is a $3,000 boat and $500 in crab pots, rope and buoys.

Not long ago, my wife and I moved to Camano Island, a tranquil, semi-rural community with lots of retirees. People here love four things: God, country, family and crabbing – but if they could only pick one, for sure it would have to be crabbing. People here are seriously into this activity. Just how serious? As you arrive on Camano Island, you’re greeted by a giant metal crab sculpture. The local newspaper is called The Crab Cracker. And if you confide in someone, “I’ve got crabs”, they won’t recoil in disgust. They’ll reply with, “Fantastic! Mind giving me some?” 

Having lived here for two years, I’d never bothered to find out what all the fuss was about. But after relentless pressure from neighbors whose constant nagging included questioning my patriotism, in the end I caved. Last week I finally went crabbing.

Most “crabbers” own their own crab boat and equipment. To get started you need the following essentials:

  • A motorboat – or if you’re cheap, then a rowboat
  • At least one, and ideally two or three crab pots
  • A buoy marker and approximately 100 feet of rope for each crab pot
  • Bait – typically chicken or turkey legs, or if you’re in a pinch, Lifesavers candies – the crabs grab onto the little hole in the middle and get stuck. Let me know how that works, dude. (This last bait option should only be used if you’re a complete idiot.)
  • A case of beer, to dull your senses and help you forget about what in the hell possessed you to take a rowboat instead of a motorboat with 25 mph headwinds out there
  • A sharp knife to kill your small crustacean victims in cold blood – or to take your own life if you have rowed out too far and you suddenly realize you’ll never make it back to shore before nightfall

Continue reading “How I Got Crabs” »

A Night at the Opera – Act Two

A Night at the Opera – Act Two

After my first trip to the Opera last year, I swore I’d never go through that punishment again. I appear to be a slow learner, because I did go again. Read what you need to know to survive. It just might save a life.

After my first trip to the Opera last year, I swore I’d never go through that punishment again. I appear to be a slow learner, because I did go again. Read what you need to know to survive. It just might save a life.

A year ago, I did something incredibly stupid. I listened to my wife. More specifically, I agreed to join her and some friends for a night at the opera. Well, I did it again.

Right about now, you may be saying, “Hey, Tim, buddy, didn’t you learn from last year’s debacle at the opera? You even wrote about it.”  If you’re one of the five people who actually read that column called A Night at The Opera, thank you for your support. My only excuse can be summed up by Winston Churchill’s wisdom, that ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’ Clearly, I failed.

I’m still not quite sure what offense I committed for which my penance was to yawn through another evening of arias and over-acting by prima donnas. But I survived, and I have finally learned. And I’m here to impart my new-found wisdom to those husbands who find themselves caught in a similar bind.

Fellas, lesson number one: never under any circumstances let your wife rope you into going to the opera. Tell her you have food poisoning from her tacos (inflicting guilt helps). Or tell her you’ve been drafted to our southern border to defend our country against 11-year-old Guatemalan kids armed with Hello Kitty backpacks. Whatever it takes to get out of going.

We attended one of the most famous operas ever written: La bohème, by Puccini. Now, in my defense, I was only half-listening when my wife suggested the event. I heard something about Bohemian and mistook it for the recent movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, about Freddie Mercury of the rock group Queen. Turns out the only thing this opera had in common with Freddie was that the lead tenor had long hair and liked to strut around the stage a lot. Continue reading “A Night at the Opera – Act Two” »

The League of (Un)Extraordinary Gentlemen

The League of (Un)Extraordinary Gentlemen

I belong to a men’s doubles racquetball league of 13 seniors. Okay, when I say “league” that sounds a bit more serious than it really is. It’s actually more like a “club.” No, that’s not quite it either. “Herd.” Yeah, it’s more like a herd – as in cattle, because some of us play the game about as well as a spry Holstein. We meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8am sharp – unless it’s Christmas. Then we play at 11.

Not to toot my own horn, but out of this Baker’s Dozen of racquetballers, I routinely rank among the top 15. As I see it, the only thing separating my game from my teammates’ is my lack of speed, power, accuracy, court awareness, and peripheral vision. Oh, and ability. Yeah, I’m sort of lacking in that department, too. And yet, despite how consistently inconsistent I am, they still let me play. My theory is that I make them all look like pros by comparison.

At 63, I am one of the youngest players. The ages range from 54 to 80. Jerry is eighty years young. He’s right-handed, but due to a shoulder injury, he now plays lefty. And he still cleans my clock on the court. Now, I’ve only been doing racquetball for forty years – whereas Jerry started playing during the Garfield administration. And as a relative rookie, I’m still learning the subtleties of this sport. For example, just last week I was informed that it’s legal to play the ball off the back wall. Thanks for finally telling me, guys. That’s a game changer.

Not long ago we accepted a woman into our men’s club. Kate is extremely talented – better than most of the guys – so, I always graciously invite her to be my partner. That’s because I am a gentleman and want her to feel comfortable and accepted in our group. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that with Kate as my partner, I might actually stand a chance of being on the winning side for a change.

Continue reading “The League of (Un)Extraordinary Gentlemen” »

My Visit to Authentic Scotland (Sort of)

My Visit to Authentic Scotland (Sort of)

Recently, my wife and I spent a day exploring Scotland. Okay, technically we didn’t actually travel all the way to the land of Braveheart. But we did the next best thing: We went to a traditional Scottish Highland Games. If you’ve never been to a Highland Games before, it’s a lot like Game of Thrones, but with seriously overweight people who can’t get dates and have no business wearing kilts, along with booths selling Haggis, meat pies, and funnel cakes. But unlike Game of Thrones, I’m happy to report there were very few fatalities.

My wife is Canadian. Her grandmother immigrated to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland with quite a set of pipes – bagpipes, that is. Every visit to Grandma’s included a concert of bagpipe music, complete with Amazing Grace as the grand finale. Apparently, this is how they punish children for misbehaving in Canada.

It turns out I too have some Scottish ancestry – 1/8th – which qualified me for 10% off on a raspberry scone at MacGregor’s Scones ‘n Cones at the fair. My lineage is through the Hanna clan and can be traced all the way back to the year 1215, to a tiny town in southwestern Scotland called Sorbie. (True!) There is even a 15th century castle there that belongs to my clan, but it’s largely a ruin now. It figures. My ancestors never took good care of their stuff.

To venture into the Games, we traversed a rickety drawbridge through towering castle walls all made from traditional Scottish plywood, reinforced with authentic Scotch Tape. I could smell the earthiness of moors as we passed the Honey Bucket porta potties. I started to tear up as the strains of a tartan-clad marching band wafted through the air. I could imagine my ancestors trading their wares as I meandered past vendors hawking t-shirts and mugs with expressions like “If it’s not Scottish, it’s Crap.” 

Continue reading “My Visit to Authentic Scotland (Sort of)” »

Day at the Museum

Day at the Museum

As a good husband, I try to feign interest in my wife’s favorite passions. It’s easy when we’re talking kittens or kayaking. But the next time my wife asks, “Honey, how would you like to check out this new museum?”, if you have an ounce of compassion in you, PLEASE, for the love of God, STOP ME from spinelessly acquiescing to her heartless suggestion. It’s dangerous to my emotional well-being. The problem is that my wife and I have very different notions about what it means to “check out” a museum.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking a museum of paintings, cuckoo clocks, or the Wisconsin Museum of Cheese. It’s all about the approach. I like to swoop in, catch a glimpse of three or four major highlights, and get out while I still have some functioning brain cells. But my wife – she might as well sign a short-term rental agreement with the museum’s Board of Directors, because she’s planning on staying.

Last weekend, we visited the Museum of Anthropology and Natural History. Michele got excited because she learned this was the last day of their special exhibit called Fabrics Around the World. I figured, how long could this possibly take? I mean, you have cotton, polyester, and wool, the three fabrics that make up every article of clothing I’ve ever owned. We’d roll through the entire display in fifteen minutes max. I was off – by a factor of five.

My wife was fascinated by the intricate weavings found in Morocco, the brilliant colors preferred in the hilltop regions of Bhutan, and the myriad methods of felting coming from the British Isles. Meanwhile, my interest in fabrics was focused on a pizza stain I just noticed on my white t-shirt which was woven – I think you’ll find this interesting – in the Philippines, using a traditional polyester blend, made in a sweat shop by a nine-year-old boy named Danilo.

Continue reading “Day at the Museum” »