Gone Fishing

When spring was trying sneak past winter, and I was still trapped inside due to the chill in the air, I sat down and thought, “I will make a list about fishing, all of the places Shane and I fished together in our first year of marriage.” I can say with certainty, we did not fish enough. Now, this was a list of us together. Shane  went with out me many, many times on the ice and a few times last spring. In the end, this is our list of places we fished as a couple, either alone or with friends and family, in our first year of marriage:

1. Moraine State Park

Okay, this one makes total sense. We could walk to this place if we wanted to. Lake Arthur is a body of water I have worn my hip boot into to practice fly fishing, a place I have walked on when it was cold enough, and of course, we have been out with the boat so many times I have lost track.

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2. Parker Dam State Park

This was the place that was always my go-to growing up. It was natural to share the excitement of opening day together with my dad and Leah this past year on the bank of Parker Lake, although we also hit Laurel Run in this park on the first day. Shane may not be into the “shoulder to shoulder” mayhem with those who have never fished except for on opening day, but we had fun none the less. I think that first day, with a crowded shoreline, can be humbling as you try to catch trout that aren’t that hungry and novices can out-catch you with in minutes.

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3. Frances Slocum State Park

Frances Slocum Lake was a little, but rewarding lake. We were on vacation, so why not just relax by a shoreline after hiking at Ricketts Glen? We set up bobbers and played cards and reeled in fish. This was when Shane commented that maybe once a year he would go bobber fishing usually, but that in that moment, the Sunday before Memorial Day, already gone twice, and he said he can see why people like it.

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4. The Grove City Ponds

This was a place Shane got me out onto the ice again! We had a lot of fun here once we got all set up in the rain in a little pop-up shelter he brought to keep me dry. We caught bluegills here and with his fish finder, we could see them coming in and how they were reacting to our bait. This was one of the most recent places he and I fished considering we are just coming out of ice-fishing season and why it made it over the next location.

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5. Spring Creek

This quick afternoon trip was made with Leah after she and I had been at the Creation Festival. It was a Sunday afternoon, and Leah wanted to experience fly fishing on a creek, Shane had come to the Saturday night concert and so I had told him to bring up fishing stuff so Sunday we could go out on our way home. Unfortunately, this fishing trip didn’t supply us with any catches at all. I just wanted to lay in the cool water, having been in the hot sun all weekend at the festival, so needless to say, with Leah having to head back to Connecticut, we stopped our attempts sooner than Shane probably would’ve liked.

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Sadly, those were the only places that we enjoyed fishing together. After figuring that out, I promptly told Shane, we had to go to more places, even if I had to drag him along kicking and screaming. (Of course, this would never be the case.) Now with the summer sun smiling down on us, looking out to a blue sky, another list has started up on my computer, a list of places where we could get to for a nice day trip and take the boat and Grizz could learn some boating manners.

It’s funny though, because this list reminds me that no matter what we plan, no matter what we have in store, we cannot plan for tomorrow. As it stands right now, Shane and I are with out a truck to haul the boat, and though we have canoes and hip waders and other ways to fish, the truck breaking down has dampened our spirits.

Proverbs 27:1 says not to boast about tomorrow, because we never know what tomorrow may bring, and with my longboard fall and the truck breaking down, we know that to be true. Another couple may be stressing out at the lack of a truck and the dilemmas that may bring as we need one to gather the materials for the new dog fence, haul a boat, or even just to move things with more ease on our property, but as Shane and I discussed what to do about a truck, we decided to just keep praying and waiting. As Shane put it, he has never not had anything he needed provided just at the right time. I love hearing that from him, knowing he is able and capable to wait on the Lord with me.

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendorwas dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

 

 

 

Embracing the Cold

January brought us a variety of weather, and February is following suit already. Behind me is our dining room window looking out onto a bright white scene. Rain is coming tomorrow, sure to blot out the white and replace it with brown, but looking ahead, even more snow is to follow. This new year has brought and bitterly cold nights that froze any pond or lake around, and they have continued to stay frozen; this is good news for Shane.

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He lives to fish, and in the winter, he lives to ice fish. Now, I love the cold weather, in particular, snowy, cold weather. But, due to my autoimmune issues, I don’t spend much time out in the snow and cold unless I am guaranteed to stay warm. Fortunately, my husband is beyond well equipped when it comes to gadgets, gizmos, and clothes to keep you warm. So it was especially exciting that this year, I got to try ice fishing for the first time and share in something that Shane loves so much.

He went out a few times this year with his friend and his brother and dad before we went out. The days I went, it was a unique combination of actually being warmer out, so more bearable for me, and the ice still being thick.

The first time I went, I caught a single bluegill at Lake Author. As it grew darker, I was having fun experimenting with my low light lens. In my family, it isn’t unusual to have cameras out, snapping away, at all times. In fact my cousins and I joke around about our mom’s being worse than paparazzi, and laugh at our instinct to smile and almost pose as soon as a lens goes up. So while Shane and his dad were avoiding looking at the camera, not yet use to this paparazzi, I still managed able to get some good ones of them together.

I said before how I do love snowy weather. Even taking a short walk in it does feel good, add in the man I love, an activity we both enjoy, and enjoying this January weather was easier this year. Now this may sound crazy, but we got an extra dose of happiness by adventuring out in the snow because your body is working harder in the cold, your endorphin levels rise even more, causing an even happier state of mind. No wonder Shane loves ice fishing so much!

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Almost every day he can, Shane will venture out into the cold to fish. I think there is a sort of urgency to it, because once it warms up, there will be no more ice, no more walking on water, no more pulling a prize out of the dark depths. The new shores that the ice brings will be gone. Fishing can continue, but the kind of mystery the snow and ice bring with it will be gone.

There’s always new places to go fishing. For any fisherman, there’s always a new place, always a new horizon. -Jack Nicklaus

Meal Preps with Olive Oil

I feel most at ease when I have prepared and thought out meals for the week with this diet. It is difficult to do things on a whim, because nutritional values are really taken into account. There isn’t a quick way around most meals, and it seems that maybe, despite how cumbersome it can be, that is one of the big positives to this diet. It makes you think about what you are putting into your body.

For the most part, I can do fine with no salty snacks around. If you have followed my blog for a while, you might have noticed that sweets are more my thing. Bread is Shane’s weakness. In general, we both love food, and we love a variety of it. So when he and I wandered into our local olive oil store, we were in for a tasty surprise.

The Enchanted Olive sells olive oils, balsamic vinegar and white balsamic vinegar. You can get just the normal, non-flavor infused ones, but I promise they still pack a punch. Or you can get ones that are infused with a rainbow of flavors. Currently, I am obsessed with my recent purchase I made when my mom came to deliver to me my new Hoosier cabinet. I told her we had to go to this shop, and she wasn’t disappointed, walking away with several oils and teas herself. My purchase from that day is now my newest obsession in the kitchen, I got the cara-cara orange and vanilla white balsamic vinegar, the coconut white balsamic vinegar, and the Persian lime infused olive oil.

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These flavors all mesh so well and are so fresh tasting; they are very inspiring for these cold winter days, bringing to mind bright beaches rather than the sepia tone, cold nature outside. So I planned out four meals using all three of these robust flavors that would be keto friendly.

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Citrus Prosciutto Salad

  • Two cups coarsely chopped lettuce of choice
  • 8 oz can of artichoke hearts, rinsed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped baby tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 2.25 oz can sliced black olives
  • 2 oz prosciutto
  • Bunch of basil, coarsely chopped
  1. Tear prosciutto into smaller pieces
  2. Combine above ingredients

For the Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons Persian lime infused olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cara-cara orange and vanilla white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Shake together in jar dressing ingredients and drizzle over salad

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I included tilapia fillets, sautéed in the lime oil for about two to three minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Then I drizzled those with the coconut white balsamic vinegar. In the other two meals, I used salmon, sautéed skin side up in the lime again for about three minutes before flipping and finishing the cooking in my preheated oven for a few minutes at 450 degrees. The salmon were drizzled with the cara-cara orange and vanilla white balsamic vinegar. Now I have four keto-friendly meals awaiting me in my refrigerator for this week!

 

Keto Diet Snack

The truth is, I never figured I would walk into one of those weird fad diets. One that had you eating coconut and almond flour willingly, cooking with ghee, or containing the words “gluten free”. It is funny what you will do for those you love though, and Shane and I started our journey with the ketogenic diet after repeated, long lasting gout attacks that would practically cripple Shane.

In the middle of summer, we began and stuck to a keto diet. We did so pretty well for about four months. Heading into the holidays, we weened off of it and still ate healthy, but Shane admitted to feeling better when on the diet, and he was the reason we were doing it in the first place. So, we are weening ourselves back on, which is difficult to do during the holidays, going to peoples houses and eating what they serve. We almost always come across I am sure as picky eaters and often times, if headed to my moms, I will redirect the menu to include things such as bacon wrapped asparagus and side salad instead of just sweet potatoes, beets, and cornbread.

Honestly, when you first undertake this diet, it can be pretty depressing. I am being totally honest, I wish I could say after a week, I stopped craving sweet things, but I didn’t. I just really love sweet things, and stevia is not the same tasting. There is no, “Oh, just use natural honey instead!” or “But, maple syrup is a safe sweetener!” Sweets are pretty much out of the picture, and that pretty much even means fruits. About the only thing that saved Shane and I the first time around was that I do genuinely love spending time in my kitchen, so I was getting to do a lot of that on this new diet plan.

You begin to figure out things that work for you. You find favorite recipes, and because your body is craving correct fuel, we have yet to grow tired of these favorite recipes that I often make once a week, like our chicken breast pizza in the crockpot, of course no bread like substance included, and our venison crustless pizza in the crock pot. On occasion, we stumble into a snack that is delightful, and this is one that I wouldn’t even hesitate to bring to a party.

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Salmon Cucumber Sliders

  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 8 oz smoked salmon
  • 1-2 avocados, depending on size diced
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Persian lime infused olive oil, available at places like The Enchanted Olive
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
  1. Mix mayonnaise, lime olive oil, and parsley until combined
  2. Top cucumbers with avocado, followed by salmon and finally a small dollop of mayonnaise dressing

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If anyone would like the nutritional break downs of this bite sized treat shown, I can take the time to do so. For the most part, I discovered I do better not tracking my macro’s like a mad woman. I have a sense of how much protein I should be having a day now and know if I am irritable or tired, often times that means I need a little more fat. Oddly enough, I feel like I can go much of the day eating very little, then a big dinner feels good, but Shane is the opposite, eating small all day and a small dinner.

Frances Slocum

When I put together this weekend, it didn’t feel last minute. I got the idea to plan this little trip over Memorial Day a little over a month ahead of time, and Shane and I were really excited by the idea. I pulled up my laptop to reserve a dog friendly camping site at Ricketts Glen and was out of luck. The place was booked solid. Okay, so not entirely solid. I think there was a tent site or two available, but they didn’t allow dogs, and dear Jagger would be coming with us.

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I searched other camp sites near Ricketts Glen, and although places came up, I couldn’t get a sense of what they were like. I expanded my search to other state parks near by, and I was lucky enough to discover Ricketts Glen had a next door neighbor called Frances Slocum State Park. It looked tiny, but with a body of water at it’s center, and a dog site available, I booked it.

Arriving in the evening at site 61 after one hike at Ricketts, the Frances Slocum campground seemed tight, but well kept, and the sites had ample room. The big trees that were on our site is what we needed for our tentsile tent to hover above the ground. We discovered the next day as we took Jagger on a walk that we were the last dog friendly site, so we could walk to the lake and the amphitheater with him, but not beyond us to the group tenting area, which was fine. The night we arrived, it was fairly quite, and we seemed to be one of the only fires that went on until dark, but the next day lot’s of families descended, and soon our quiet little camp ground was full of squeals and giggles from kids, nods from neighbors walking by, and an occasional dog bark, normally from Jagger himself. People still didn’t stay up very late, and everyone really respected the 9 pm quiet time, which made our evening fires very peaceful.

Saturday was spent exploring Ricketts Glen, a very cool state park I will get into in another post. Saturday evening, we did go to the amphitheater and enjoyed the music of Jay Smar, a folk singer who picked and crooned old folk songs and mining songs. Sunday was spent at Frances, beginning with a very long, slow breakfast of breakfast burritos at the fire. I had pre-made these yummy wraps before we left, so we sat at sipped our coffee while the foil wrapped mummies warmed up in the fire.

After breakfast, we searched the country side for a bait shop to get minnows for some bobber fishing in the Frances Slocum Lake. This became a meandering drive of at least an hour, if not longer because we couldn’t find a bait shop. The first one that Google took us too was not a bait shop, the address it dropped us off at was someones house; they didn’t even have a sign on their garage that said bait. Off we went to the another bait shop below 118 in Hunlock Creek called Bait Buddies. He had everything we needed and also had some cool handmade arrows and knives that his son from Maine created.

Back to Frances Slocum we went to do some bobber fishing. Shane commented that maybe once a year he would go bobber fishing usually, but he’s already gone twice this year and he said he can see why people like it. It is indeed relaxing and doesn’t take much effort. In fact, we played cards most of the time. We did get three bass, but lost them right before they were in our grasp, and beyond that we got a crappie and a big blue gill.

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At the end of the weekend, Shane was trying to make a pro and cons list of coming to this particular state park over Pymatuning State Park, and what was really decided was that the proximity to Ricketts Glen made this one appealing, otherwise Pymatuning is bigger and closer. Between the two, Frances Slocum would not win if we were to pick between the two for a weekend of boating and fishing.

But, the history of Frances Slocum was really neat, and gave the little park another point on the pro’s list. Apparently on of the trails, there is a rock shelter where five year old Frances Slocum was kept an evening by the Delaware Tribe Indians who took her from her family in 1778. She grew up as Maconaquah and stayed with her Indian family even after her brothers, who never gave up the search, found her as an adult.

Over all, I am glad we found this little gem of a park. We enjoyed live music, fishing, and got to try out our tentsile tent for the first time. Jagger was able to join us because they had dog friendly sites, which resulted in him enjoying his own tent. We weren’t far from Ricketts Glen, and although it wasn’t our original intent to stay there, we did and found out some great Pennsylvania history.

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Repetition

Repetition. We cast, we reel, we repeat. We cast into the water over and over, even in the same spot, hoping, waiting, reeling, and casting again. Then, by some miracle, we catch something. That thing we knew was beneath the ripples, we pull in, we hold, we take pictures of, we sometimes release, we sometimes hang on to.

Repetition. We pray, we say amen, we repeat. We pray to the heavens over and over, even over the same exact thing, hoping, waiting, saying amen, and praying again. If we listen, if we truly live with open palms, we can catch whispers of blessings, answers, guidance sometimes trickling down from heaven, other times rushing like a great flood. We soak it in, we hold onto it, sometimes journaling about it, other times telling others about it.

Repetition is seen in the bible in many places, such as Psalms 136. Right there, repeated, is the same phrase over and over. Other places we are told to give thanks constantly, that is a type of repetition if every prayer we give is peppered with thanks.

Vain repetition is the thing to be avoided. Mindless, numb repetition, casting with out even checking your line to see if your fly or bait are still attached, with out even checking where you are at, you will surely come up empty handed. It takes effort, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, but with effort, you can see results.

Vain repetition, mindless, numb prayers said with out even thinking about what you are praying for and who you are praying will come up as fruitful as casting with out bait. God is asking for effort from our side, our hearts, so he can give us all the wonderful things He is, a God full of love, merciful, compassionate, and the Prince of Peace. This doesn’t mean put on a show, it doesn’t mean you have to even be wordy. The intention should be to have relation and to share your heart with the God of the universe.

Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standingin the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

And isn’t it amazing we can have such a relationship with our creator? He craves relation with us, to hear from us, even if it is the same thing over and over again.

Keep casting with intention.

First Dayers

Opening day of trout went off splendidly! My first cast, I reeled back in a lovely, little rainbow. I can honestly say that was the first time that has ever happened to me. This, I think, got everyone keyed up to get their own; in our early morning fishing party there was my husband, my dad, and my cousin Leah. Leah has never been fishing, this was something Scott promised to do with her, and they never got the chance. So out on Parker Dam we went to be “first dayers” as my husband calls them.

He and Scott were never “first dayers”, in fact, they often were annoyed by all the people who stand shoulder to shoulder on our shoresides that one day a year. Though my dad took me to places Like Moose Creek in Clearfield, Pennsylvania and out on streams in South Dakota’s Custer National Park, my father and I, for sake of tradition, often were Shane’s loathed “first dayers.” He teased about bringing his sleeping bag and camping chair to Parker Dam so that he could stay warm as he napped with his bobber and Power Bait in the water.

Then cast, bizzzz, plunk, and “I got one!” happened, and Shane perked up, Leah and my dad too. My dad was the next one to pull a flipping-flopping trout to shore. I think it was impressive to Leah to see fish getting caught so quickly, and I am sure it gave her the wrong idea. It took her until the afternoon before she finally got her own slippery, wiggly trout, and it was a good moment.

For our Easter dinner I cooked up five of the trout for people to try. It by no means was the staple protein at the table, but I was excited to share our bounty. Mainly the men munched on the fish, but others did give a small bite a try. All last year I had been wanting to cook up this recipe for Shane, and for what ever reason, mainly for lack of trout, I never got to. Finally, he got to see why I enjoy keeping the trout I catch.

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While we all enjoyed the fuss and excitement of the first day of trout, Monday was a less adrenaline filled day. Leah and I went to the gym, then out for lunch in this area I am now calling home. Conversation focused around Scott as we talked about things that made him so great, plans they had had, and things they had done. It was a good and needed day that ended with something he was truly passionate about, fly fishing.

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Leah put on hip-waders for the first time and her lesson began with Shane in the waters of Lake Arthur. I myself am still learning, so I didn’t have any input on the lesson and was practicing my own motion of the fly rod. The only thing I encouraged was to come out further because we could see striper action on the water. She did catch a bluegill before we went in and discovered that for the last half of it, she was with out a fly due to the whipping she was doing instead of casting. I was lucky enough to catch a bluegill and a striper, and I lost count of how many fish Shane caught.

When we were packing up Leah commented on how this was fun, but not a hobby she would probably get into alone, right away. Shane reassured her that he was by no means an expert even though he had been doing it since he was a kid and that there are always things to learn with it. I guess that is one reason out of many our guys got so into fly fishing, there is always new things to learn, to catch, to try, and during it all, you are in the beauty of God’s creation.

When Scott said that he felt closest to God out in His creation, it is like he really got what C.S. Lewis was saying in his quote, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” If we hear the red wing black bird’s song as the water laps at our hip-waders and our rod goes whooshing through the air and don’t acknowledge that God created and gave us those things, finding peace while fishing Monday night may have been nearly impossible. Fortunately for us, that moment was a part of God’s peace painted out before us to partake in.

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All three of us out there on the water have experienced a loss of someone who we loved. Believe me, at times it feels really unfair, and we are still wading through waves of emotions. But at the end of the day, we can have peace. Fly fishing on Monday was a moment of peace that energized our souls, enjoying God’s handiwork, from bright pink sunset, to scaly stripers. I honestly went back to Jonah a few times this weekend and remembered that God is a God of mercy and keeps his promises, even ones to give us peace.

Numbers 6:25-26 “the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Jonah and Fishing Season

Wouldn’t you know it, Shane and I’s first opening day of trout as husband and wife falls on Easter weekend. This creates for us a very jam-packed weekend because traditionally Shane takes part of a “Good Friday Shoot” with his dad and friends, and now my dad and brother join him, then Easter is the big holiday at his dad’s house. Now add in a day of fishing in between those days, and suddenly our weekend is very booked up. I have recipes I want to cook for all the gathering that will be done, but I won’t lie, I cannot wait to get outside and fish, and wouldn’t mind doing that till sundown.

It is funny that as opening day of trout rolled up, my devotionals brought up Jonah. You know the guy, the one that gets swallowed by a fish. Now, most of the time, I am completely distracted by that aspect of the story. It brings to mind pictures from childhood of a dejected looking man sitting in a big, hallow, whale belly contemplating what to do. As I got older, I began to understand more the ramifications of it all, this guy running away from a direct request from God and ending up in the belly of a fish.

This most recent time in studying it though, I was in awe over a different aspect: God’s mercy. I have read “The Daniel Prayer” by Anne Graham Lotz, and in it, she talked about God warning his people to repent, they didn’t, and they ended up as captives, Daniel being one of them. After seventy years, they were set free to return home. They had warnings before the captivity happened, and they didn’t heed it, and captivity was the result of their disobedience.

Now it was the Ninevites turn to repent in the book of Jonah, given the chance to repent, they, by contrast to the Israelites, repented pretty quickly. God withheld judgement just like he said he would. Forget getting hung up on “How did Jonah breath while in the fish?” or “Was it a fish or a whale?” or “Did the people who threw him over board see the fish get him?”, how wonderful is it that God kept his promise and gave the Ninevites his full mercy?

What is so astounding to me is Jonah’s reaction, he said he ran away and didn’t want to proclaim to those people that they should repent because he knew if they did, God was a God of love and compassion and would spare them. Basically he was saying, “I knew you would hold true to what you promised. How dare you be so good!”

In the midst of this crazy world, isn’t it a comforting thought that God can be so good, that he does show mercy, that he isn’t up there holding a lightening bolt over our heads just waiting for the next big mistake? Instead, he is waiting with his arms open promising us chance after chance. This should be a huge relief for us.

But, so many times we live with closed fists, not willing to accept God’s mercy. We don’t even give God the chance to fulfill promises before we shake our fists at him yelling, “You don’t do anything for me!”

How heartbreaking it must be for our father to hear his children say that to him.

I’m about to grab my pole to do some bluegill fishing on the lake, this weekend I am hoping for a big trout, and looking forward to introducing Leah to trout fishing. As I hold the little slippery, gilled creations that I find so much joy in catching, I know I will be thinking about Jonah this weekend. This story made new, not because of some weird fish fact I found, but because of the thought of God’s mercy for us, for me.