Tuesday, March 19, 2013

10 Things I Don’t Know How to Do

(Inspired by Mamakat’s writer’s workshop and my fishing trip to the Florida Keys.)
Last week on vacation I learned that I don’t know how to:
  1. Acquire and keep a healthy tan. I’ve got two options: lobster or ghost. I have a love/hate relationship with UV rays.
  2. Walk gracefully in a wet bathing suit. Blame the peasant-ly plump thighs. Not pleasant. Ly. Thankfully I didn’t have much opportunity to swim. 
  3. Bake fish “in the weeds”. This was a fantastic dish that I discovered at Bentley’s in Islamorada. It features breaded and baked fish (mahi mahi or whatever you bring in from the boat that day), served over a creamed spinach, shrimp, crab and artichoke heart stuffing. More research is required, but I’m determined to make this dish. Stay tuned. 
  4. Keep my tush dry in a kayak. Kayaking through the mangrove tunnels in the Florida Bay was both tranquil and spooky, especially when we watched a white crocodile skulk by just ten feet in front of us. However, kayaks will be kayaks, and it was impossible to avoid sitting in a puddle as I paddled. 
Spooky mangrove (courtesy of cool cousin Sara, who had the foresight to bring a camera on our kayak tour)

5. Feed a manatee. When one of these porky little prehistoric barrels of love floated up to the surface right next to our fishing pier, I was instructed to find some fresh water for him. (I won't divulge the offending instructor's real name, but sometimes he uses the pseudonym “Guido.”) After hunting down a very long hose, I was warned by a marina worker that feeding manatees fresh water or food is illegal in Florida. Sorry Mr. Manatee. I was an ignorant tourist. Please go find your own water.
6. Diet. Dieting has never been my strong suit. Daily taste tests of key lime pies, combined with boatloads of mom’s cookies, didn’t help the waistline. Good thing I’m back on the Jazzercise party boat now. 
7. Separate fish from hook. I can cast a fishing line with the best of them, and now the kids will even bait my hook. Once that catch is on the line, though, none of us is brave enough to touch him except the intrepid Guido the Guide. The kids and I have been traumatized by a few too many gory fish-wound stories.
8. Play cribbage, poker, Moshi Monsters or Granny Smith. In between fishing, eating and swimming, these games are the primary diversions in the Florida Keys, where all official business shuts down by 9 pm. I clearly need to get up to speed. 
9. Drive a jet ski. Speaking of speed, jet skiing is on my “must do” list for the next trip, when temperatures hopefully will be a bit more tropical. (I wore a sweatshirt for the entire week of my visit. But it still beats wearing snow boots.) I’m assuming jet skiing is pretty simple: turn on the motor, rev it up, and hang on for dear life. If I survive, I’ll write about it. Speaking of survival, I also don’t know how to: 
10. Drive an ambulance during wartime with only 1½ functional eyes in my head. Spend the day catching record-sized Marlin from the "seat" of a Spanish birthing chair. Earn the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery for saving someone’s life despite sustaining wounds from 200 shreds of shrapnel in my leg. Okay, that’s at least three things I don’t know how to do. But all of these were achieved by the great Ernest Hemingway, whom I learned more about while touring his house in Key West.

However, I DO know how to live in Oak Park Illinois, where Hemingway was born. He was practically my neighbor, if you discount the 90-year difference in our residencies. I checked out his house there too. In case you’re wondering: he wasn’t home.
Hemingway photo courtesy of antiquefishingreels.com

I leave you with a few words from the great outdoorsman himself. First, a cryptic quote for my fellow travelers:
“Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.”
Are you cocking your head yet? If you figure out what this quote means, please let me know. I'm still working on it.

And finally, a quote for my fellow writers:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
 This one I get.


  1. Hmm...I don't know how to do any of those things either.

    1. But you're desperate to drive that ambulance, right?

  2. The only thing I know how to do on your list is play poker. Hemingway was THE MAN!! :)

    1. Just finished the book "The Paris Wife" which is a historical novel about Hemingway's relationship with his first wife. Even though he had serious fidelity, Freudian and alcohol issues, he continues to amaze me. Read it!

  3. Hemingway is awesome. I'd rather be a ghost than a lobster. And I didn't know that about manatees. They want fresh water? Why can't you feed them fresh water?

    1. Couldn't I just be a ghost with clearer skin? :)

      Manatees' number one threat to extinction is human interaction. They get curious about fishing boats, so they come too close to the shore, and get scarred or mutilated by motors, and worse. Also, they need to be independent enough to find their own food and water, which is plentiful in the wild. The more dependent they are on humans, the more danger they are in. Very sad.


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