Posts tagged Relationships

My Aunt Karen

My first memory of Karen was in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. She was dating my Uncle Steve and they would come to visit my mom and grandparents at the Lake. Karen was the first woman to ever teach me how to put on makeup. I loved sitting at her side watching her put on face while I touched her brushes and compacts. She seemed so glamorous to me. One of my most vivid memories was when my Uncle Steve showed me the wedding ring he was going to give her. I was only about 4 or 5, but I remember it well.

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Aunt Karen on her wedding day
Her sister Peggy on her right
My mom on her left

Karen was born in 1946 in Santa Cruz, California. She met and married my Uncle Steve and joined our crazy family. She fit right in. My Aunt and Uncle had one child. Kerri Rae. I thought she was just neato. I got to say at my Aunt’s house one summer to help take care of this little girl. Karen taught me a lot about the care of babies. I loved that summer. Spending time with my favorite Aunt and Uncle and my new cousin, what more could I ask for.

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Aunt Karen with Kerri

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Aunt Karen, next to my grandpa
with myself and my brother.
Camping on the Carson River

Through the years we tried to visit often. My family ended up in Grants Pass, Oregon and hers in Orleans, McKinleyville and finally Fieldbrook. Aunt Karen and I shared a special passion. We both believed in Santa Claus. Every Christmas she went with my brother and I to search for Rudolph in the sky. We always spotted him. I remember often pointing him out to her or her to I. I would look at her face and see tears of joy in her eyes. No matter what age we were, we always believed.

In my cousin’s junior year of high school, around 1995-96, Aunt Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer. She prevailed. Around four years later, just one year shy of complete remission, she had a second bout. The second time was worse then the first. Her and her doctors tried everything. They decided on one last treatment, a three week immunization program. Week one was hard. Week two was the best week she had felt since this second bout of cancer started. She loved to use the term “we nipped it in the bud!” Then week three there was a downhill spiral and her body couldn’t take it anymore. She passed away May 16, 2006.

I think of Aunt Karen often and wonder if her life was full. Her daughter is doing well. I know she struggles and misses her mom. Kerri has a great job at a college up north of us in Washington. Karen would be proud very proud of her. My Uncle too, is well. He travels often, especially to visit Kerri. My heart breaks for them but they are strong.

Every year I decorate a luminary back in her honor for our cities Relay for Life event. I think she would have liked this. I miss her and I am better for having known her.

In Aunt Karen’s honor I will be sharing her recipes on my blog. She was also wonderful cook.

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Not everyone’s a teacher OR A wife should never teach a husband how to fish!

My family are all fisherman and have had a long tradition of teaching each generation to fish. The older generations used bait and tackle the easy way to fish. The young ones fly fish, the more difficult way to fish. My uncle was the first fly fisherman of the family. He taught my aunt to fly fish and my aunt taught my brother and me to fly fish. In keeping with tradition, I thought it was time for me to teach someone in my family. I figured it couldn’t be that hard. I caught on fast myself. For my first pupil, I chose Dimples, my indoor only, Star Wars loving, extremely logical, computer geek of a husband. This should have been my first clue that not everyone can be a teacher no matter what the subject.

Once I convinced Dimples that fly fishing would be a blast and I assured him there would be plenty of sun screen for his pale skin. I set out to plan our trip. I decided the Umpqua River would fruitful. The Umpqua can be tricky and the wading can be dangerous but Dimples has always told me he’s as nimble as a Billy Goat. I packed snacks, gear and I bought fishing licenses. Being that is was steel head season I also purchased salmon and steel head tags at an additional cost. This should have been clue number two.

We arrived at the river. It was beautiful! We came to an area that I thought would be a good start. The river pooled nicely, with a riffle above and below. There was a steep trail down to the bank of the river but this was something I was very comfortable with however, I was a little worried about Dimples. So worried in fact that I decided to go first, carry ALL the gear down and have Dimps follow my trail. I guided him all the way down warning him of loose rocks and stumps. Before I knew it, I was down. Down with one knee bent behind me, one leg in front and sliding fast towards the bank. Thankfully I was stopped by a stump. Dimples came flying down the hill towards me to see if I was okay. I was a bit hurt, but more humiliated. I decided that it would be best for Dimples to start out with a bait and tackle. At this point I was in no shape to discuss the intricacies of fly fishing. I let my humiliation sink in and waded in the cold water up to my aching swollen knee. Not a good start to our trip.

After an unsuccessful hour, I decide we should move elsewhere. About two miles down the road we spotted a great site to check out. Very private with a small deep pool ending in a riffle leading to a huge rapid. This was it. I could hear the fish calling. This is where our teaching would begin.

Being that Dimples is a very logical person, I used the most logical and visual descriptions and presentations I could come up with to teach him to fly fish.

However, I am not a logical person. By the time I was done demonstrating Dimples looked more confused then ever. By now I should have thrown in the towel and headed home but I ignored my instincts and decided he just needed to give it a shot and I would try guiding him from there. I handed him my favorite fly rod. He slowly got the gist of it and at some point stopped listening to me. He waded into the water up to his ankles. I stressed with urgency the danger of the Umpqua’s extremely slippery rocks. Did I mention he stopped listening to me???? Farther and farther he went. He was about 150 yards above that very powerful rapid. Not a place you should even attempt fishing but again, he was not listening to me. He was up to his knees. Then his hips. At this point I had to yell at him to get him to hear me over the roar of the rapids. The water was lapping his stomach; his fly line was wrapped around the reel. I was getting very nervous, shouting instructions to him and begging him to come back to the shore. Before I knew it, he slipped. Up to this chin. His eyes were huge orbs. I screamed at him that he better not let go of my rod. He was getting closer to the rapid. Now I was crying. He was scrambling to get a foot hold. I knew he was a goner and so was my rod. Suddenly his Billy Goat senses kicked in and he found ground. Dimples slowly dragged himself out of the water with me screaming at him the whole time. He was safe… my rod was safe. All was well, almost. Dimples was drenched. He peeled off his shorts and shirt. His wallet survived but was soaking; his cell phone was completely water logged and forever unusable and his expensive fishing license and tags LOST to the rapids.

This was our FIRST and last fishing trip. Some people were born to teach and others are not. If I can ever convince Dimples to fish again, I’ll leave it to my aunt to teach him.

Not only did I fail to teach him the art of fly fishing, I failed to teach him what poison oak looked like. That hill I slipped all the way down……….yep, it was loaded with poison oak. I fell…. I hurt my self….almost lose my husband AND my favorite fly rod… I came home with the worst case of poison oak I have ever had!

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