Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What is Fishing, Ch. 5: When do fish bite?

Chapter 5

So, the most important question in a blog about fishing is this: When do fish bite? 
Image result for images fish biting

Let me be scientific: I have fished early morning, mid-morning,  noon, mid-afternoon, and late afternoon leading into evening. 

I have fished during blazing hot days, windy days, full moon times, misting days, and early mornings with a bit of chill in the air.

On some early mornings I caught fish; others, not. The same with other times and conditions. Frankly, I could not determine when they would bite and when they wouldn't

Bottom line,  fish bite when they dang-well want to.

Other than that, it's a mystery to me.

Addendum: I must change the vote tally. I HAVE found a most propituous time to fish: when a barometric change  is imminent. They also tend to bite when light rain is falling. I learned these things in the interlude between now (12/27) and the date of this blog (9/30). Fall? Weather changes? Natural events?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Another souvenir from world travels

Wherever I go, I find ethnic treasures to take home and display, not for others, but for myself. This is a tea towel I found in a linen shop in Ireland, Dublin to be exact.

I didn't want to use it as a tea towel and decided
to frame and hang it. If it pleases you, please study the towel. (Click on the picture for a larger version.) There is one cat turning his head toward the viewer and having the smuggest look on his face. Then notice the cat sitting next to him and her baby!                

Monday, September 28, 2015

What is fishing? Ch. 4: What's underneath?

blue-gill bream

Chapter 4:  What's in a Bayou?

I've been fishing along the bayou at the end of my property for four months now. I've lived here almost sixteen years. Why did I wait so long? My 94-year-old mother quit fishing and abandoned her several rods. When my brother, nephew, and I went fishing, he fixed me up with one of those rods. I fell in love with it--it's a lefty. I'm comfortable using a lefty. After we fished, the rod became mine!

And how I've used it!! I fish several times daily: early morning, mid-morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, late day. How can I do this? I'll be doing something and, suddenly, I have to grab my worms and rod and head on down. I call it Down-Below. Remember, the area from deck to bayou is all downhill. (Yes, I do my own mowing--what a job, mowing on a hill!)
small-mouth bass

What's a blog about fishing if I don't talk about what I actually catch? Frankly, it is amazing the variety of fish in this bayou! I've caught three kinds of bass: big-mouth, small-mouth, and striped. How do I know this? Google images. My sister insists that striped bass don't live this far south, but they do. This bayou was probably stocked.

large mouth bass
The big excitement was catching a three and one-half pound large-mouth bass! I freaked out. Wow, what a battle--he swam this way, that way, pulled down, ran twisty curves, and gave me a great powerful run. However, I really regretted ending his life. He was so magnificent!

Image result for sun perch
sun perch

Mostly, I catch sun perch--from ridiculously small to large like the bass. I have caught the occasional blue-gill bream and even two catfish. I return twice as many as I catch to their watery homes for another day.
However the most unusual catch was a four-inch-diameter turtle.                      

I have learned to catch the tiniest fish. And I do mean tiny--I call them fingerlings. Three big-mouths--fingerlings. But I think of these small babies as practice because the babies have the same moves as their grown-up counterparts. Just this morning I caught two more fingerling big-mouth bass--I would have claimed they were larger--until they passed that magical line between water world excitement and the reality of the actual (you know, above water and in the air). 

(When I learn how to convert photos from camera to laptop, I will include my actual photos of these fish)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

What is fishing? Ch. 3: Grandmother

Chapter Three

What is fishing? When I come out out here to fish--every time, I am reminded of my wonderful grandmother. Connection? My grandparents lived in a tiny country town, not even a town, but three general stores, a post office, a school, and farms and houses, country-style. Their property sat on a slanting hill with a man-made pond on the lower half. It was lined with trees and also trees growing in the pond.

The fishing was outstanding! My grandfather would get up at the crack of dawn to go to work and my grandmother and I would get tin cans and go down the hill to dig huge night crawlers which lasted all the morning. We fished until we had enough for lunch, rowed in, cleaned our fish, and she cooked them. I loved my grandmother and our time fishing.

So when I go fishing on my bayou, I remember my time with my grandmother. A wonderful time, a happy time, a time of being loved.  What is fishing? It's something more than catching fish. It's also memories..

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What is Fishing? Ch 2: Flood devastation

Chapter Two

The bayou behind my house flooded in the spring.

There's a short little bank at the edge of the water. The rains brought the water  up to the bank, then over, then up. There is an elevation from the bayou to my house. Actually, it's a short hill, that whole area. In late spring, rains came and came and came. The water came up and up and up, all the way to the deck. It killed my heavily laden fig trees, both of them. It killed my beautiful St. Augustine grass. It drowned my tomato plants, all ten of them. When the waters finally receded, all that remained of my tomato plants were dried stems.

But the most sickening was the loss of my fig trees. I would tell myself that I didn't lose my house like other people did. Sure, I was grateful, but, still, I was so sad to lose those two trees that I had nurtured for six years and more, especially now that they were loaded with their first full crops.

The biggest problem with having fig trees on land that borders a bayou is that beavers who live downstream LOVE fig wood. Whether it is for eating or using to build their lodges I don't know. I do know that those beavers and I had fierce battles for every limb. Of course, when I first put in that tree, I added a little fence around its trunk. However, a problem developed that I could not anticipate: the tree grew large enough to hang its limb over the fence. So, I added another line of defense--several times, ending with four distinct fences. 

Finally, I hired someone to build a fence encircling the trees and far enough from them to allow growth that would surely protect the limbs and branches for a distant future. 

Didn't matter. The beavers didn't get the tree. Floods did. And my heart.


Monday, September 21, 2015

What is Fishing? Ch. 1

Chapter One

While my cork bobs, I watch a little yellow leaf float by. A haiku comes to mind:

Dainty yellow leaf--
swirling, floating, magic thing
Lovely, silent boat 

The point? Fishing allows thought, meditation, relaxation, and perseverance, and, occasionally, annoyance. Right on the edge of this water body--in my case--a bayou, grows a significant cypress, scarred by beaver teeth around its lower trunk, the part along the water's edge. 

However, this cypress has become my Christmas tree. I'm adding ornaments, one at a time, my little orange bobbers, source of my annoyance. At this point I've already added five. One dangles by its gossamer line, almost touching the water. I fish between it and a low-hanging branch. Eventually, my line will be caught by one or the other. And it is. My fishing line and the decorative line entwine and I yank both right off this majestic tree. Less one ornament, a gain of my fishing line. The lines entangle and I fish with two bobbers with only a short line allowing the hook to sit just inches below the surface.

Ah, fishing.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Think It Up: A Teacher's View

"Think It Up," a one-hour special about education, teachers, students, projects, and donations has mixed reactions from this reviewer.

The least effective, and, frankly, the one segment that seemed totally useless in promoting the program was the tuneless song performed by Justin Bieber. Say what?

However, most of the program was really effective: famous people with a parent who was a teacher, or those who could speak first-hand about the efficacy of a teacher. But my favorite part was interviewer on the street asking how schools could do things better. Reinvent high school was the consensus. 

One teacher was recognized and celebrated doing just that-- using new and innovative techniques to teach students to think critically, a point suggested by several students interviewed on the street. What I recognized in this
segment was methods employed in the Common Core curriculum. What she is doing is being done by teachers all over the country, or those who are required to teach Common Core.

About Common Core: I am of mixed opinion. Common Core is exhausting to teach. It is extremely planned out, very detailed, with so many nooks and crannies. Every nook comes with instructions for teaching it. Nothing is left out; nothing is left to guesswork. And, therein lies the rub: there's no room for teacher individuality. None. No imagination, no spontaneity. Just follow the plan. Everyone reads the same novel. There's no sense of history, no continuity. 

So let's weigh the two. One emphasizes critical thinking; the other a continuum of a country's literature. Does it matter that we lose this history of a literature,  but then, that's the point. Critical thinking follows a person throughout life. However, critical thinking was easily incorporated into the historical approach. I know because I did that. Does it matter that students lose Ben Franklin's almanac, or Hemingway's Nick Adams stories, or Dickinson's sublime poetry? Do you see what I'm doing? Back and forth, back and forth, with neither earning a winning slot in my mind. Both ways  have advantages. 

That's where "Think It Up" comes in. In a script, the idea of students and teachers working together looks great. Getting it done is another. Will students participate? Years ago I asked my high school students to design what they thought would be the perfect school. They worked in groups and produced a wide variety of schools, from excellent, insightful schools to poorly planned ones. What made the difference? Commitment, perseverance, intellectual depth. Some students simply do not have the edge to accept challenges. 

Will "Think It Up" work? Frankly, I don't know, but I certainly hope so.

Here's a link to "Think It Up:

and the positive side of Common Core 
and the negative side is

Friday, September 11, 2015

Working vs Not Working

I could be retired, and, in fact, made decisions not to submit applications, or otherwise do anything that would lead to a job. I was tired. The last two years of my working life were, by far, the hardest. Here comes the shocker: I worked 43 years as a teacher or librarian. Yes, 43 years! I remember back in the day saying that anyone who stayed in teaching for 40 or more year must have something seriously wrong. No,  the explanation is simple. It's just what we know and certainly beats many other jobs.

All that and still I've not reached my topic: working vs not working, specifically at retirement age. So far, I've worked nine years past retirement, spent two years in graduate school, and only two years not working at anything except what I've wanted to do. As you can imagine, not working makes for a fast day. There are no broken spaces where the day is in chunks, as it is when you're working. A non-working day just zips by. There are no markers like work has: no bells, no deadlines, just one whole day that is over by the time you turn your head.

I have a retired friend who sets a schedule for the day. She chunks it, making her day have  interludes, thus slowing it down.  But then, she is structured and I'm random.  I don't keep a schedule, except in my mind's eye, but I know I will spend time sewing, time in the yard, time de-hoarding hoards of stuff in my house. Oh, I didn't mention my vast hoards of stuff? Just another dimension of my interesting (and troubled) character. My day is over before I have time to think.

But the main reason not to work is the liberation it brings. No one tells me what to do, except, of course, Uncle Sam and my 94-year-old mother who informed me the other day that she is a boss. OK, so retirement is not totally free, but close enough. In fact, I was telling my mother just today what I think of not working. There was a billboard along the local interstate shortly after my divorce years ago. It said: Got bills? And every single time I passed that billboard, I shouted: Not any more!! You see, the ex-'s name was Bill. So, working? I feel the same way: Not any more!!

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.