Hold The Anchovies!

dWcwjCODAbSvIIfaY1WR2IMBoBIntYGGO8UnCIXcbQNTFH3gahPhKVFTovPer-fCBSf9OBa7-uBcY8EShs3l_oo4RX-EGj4_y-bFzRjNOiktsfEmkonc4IZdA3BqzhMfRq31cWCF7_tKvKkAdIZw3FHzpwdHByvpaL0C1Z-aYQ9hkkrt5fzmPgm0z4oltQy3nK0Fu4VIjgKQacRYU7asyXTEGn5                                                                                                      Illustration by Jessie Holladay

Humor can save you from drowning. I found the following story in a journal entry shortly after Paul and I had dinner with friends to celebrate his birthday.

Our server announced that the special of the evening was swordfish. Paul asked if it was line-caught. He and I share the concern that fish be harvested sustainably, but Paul is more knowledgeable on the subject than I. The server headed off to the kitchen to find out.

A few minutes later she returned to tell us that it was indeed line-caught. Meanwhile, Paul was still snared in his own thoughts.

He wondered out loud, “Might it have been harpooned? That would be even better. Fishermen often cast long lines which catch fish that haven’t yet reached reproduction age, whereas a harpooned swordfish would be larger and would have had more time to reproduce.”

My palms were forming beads of sweat as I observed the waitress’s increasing bewilderment from Paul’s tsunami of information. This was a small restaurant in the mountains, and the swordfish had traveled several hundred miles to get here. It did not come with an epitaph. Paul’s dinner ordering was quickly getting into deep water.

Our friend Bob, came to the rescue and took up the line as he placed his order, “I’ll start with a Caesar salad, but hold the anchovies, unless they’ve been harpooned!”

What’s your lifeline?
How has it kept you from drowning?






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9 Responses to Hold The Anchovies!

  1. Phyll says:

    Funny story, Eileen! By the way, when was Paul’s birthday? (Mine was 2 days ago).

    About lifelines. . .mine are my pets. Whenever I have a “turbulent” day, I know I can always rest, relax and unwind with a kitty cat nearby. Or, go out to the country and see Dancer, work with him in the round pen; groom and brush him. Rejuvenates and relaxes me like no other.

    Photography helps, too. Wandering around the peony gardens, at the Univ. of Mich. Arboretum, or botanical gardens always does the trick, too. Pretty vistas, nature walks, butterfly gardens, strolls by a river or a stream help re-set my button(s) and help immensely.

    All that is natural,
    Touches my soul.
    The wind in the willows,
    The rain’s steady flow.
    Sunny skies, wings on high,
    Clippity-clops, kitty flip-flops,
    Laughter and love,
    Sparkly Rainbows high above!

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Happy Birthday to YOU! I hope your kitties et al gave you a party. Paul’s birthday was in January. Thanks for the nice poem. When I think of you I think of peonies and pink!

  2. Hi Eileen, While repotting a new bright red geranium plant, I thought about your article, cartoon and
    questions. First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Paul ! He is, still, a little fish that swims with the BIG fish is my guess. Now, for the question about “drowning”… I was saved, literally, on a major Amtrak train
    wreck ony daily four hour commute to NYC from N.J. years ago by a person named R.Moore.
    He was kind of a James Bond in my 28 year old year! Having landed a great consulting job with a
    major NYC consulting firm, after graduating with an M.B.A., I was filled with drive, ambition and a will to succeed. Riding daily on this long tiring commute, I had met many friends. Our evening train
    chats were nice and frequent.

    I had settled on a seat onatrain car, when my friend, R. walked by and said “let’s move to another car”. “Okay,” I responded and we moved. About 30 minutes into the commute the train was derailed;many passengers were injured. Many were killed and worse. I was saved. The next day I went to work, shaken, but
    confident that I should “get up” and go to the office, as I had read in many articles.

    The after effects of this tragic train wreck reappeared in my thoughts now and then, but never,as gravely, as when my kids were young and I had to deal with a few difficult play situations–bad…

    My mother saved me, when I had become seriously overweight. She took me to an endocrinologist who said I was seriouly ill with an endocrine disease. I was 23 years old, always, thin, athletic and achieving. Being overweight was a shock. Today, I am completely well and do not need medication
    at all. My mother took me in hand and saved me.

    Endocrine is a serious problem because one tires, easily, fills with fluid retention, easily and flops.
    I managed to overcome the negatives of the train wreck, even though I was on endocrine meds and
    probably, should have collapsed. I am strong.

  3. eileenrockefeller says:

    What a powerful and moving story Elaine. “There but for the Grace of God…” I’m so glad you moved to another car of the train when you did. What amazes me is how you picked yourself up and got back on a train the next day. You are indeed a strong woman. To have survived that and the endocrine disease. You are clearly meant to stick around. I think that geranium plant is smiling at you.

  4. What a delightful story!! Did they deliver to Paul his swordfish or did they serve him a harpooned anchovy? 🙂 Happy belated birthday Paul! Hugs. Louise

  5. Georgianna says:

    Funny story! My faith is my Lifesaver. Prayer and slipping away to quiet places to clear my head.

  6. Timothy Clarke says:

    Hi Eileen, AND Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours/Paul’s Mom’s beings too!!!

    And yes, very happy birthday you Paul as well, best wishes! I love Swordfish. The first time I had a Swordfish steak, was in the 90s I think, in my adulthood. I couldn’t believe it was fish, it was so firm grain, and much nicer flavor than tuna and firmer texture, very lean, and light, more like Alligator or snake meat or Chicken. One of the joys of life!!! Mako was another one I liked that was a great firm game fish steak. I wish we could genetically make freshwater lake swordfish, but what to feed them???

    Along with Lobster and Crab, Swordfish is my favorite of the fish, along with Salmon Candy. A good year for B-days too! A Goat/Sheep year: creativity, intelligence, dependability, and calmness.
    Speaking of birthdays and Mother’s Day etc…

    Hope Mr David. R. too will have a good B-Day too! I was thinking of him last week, as I am dog-sitting in December…truly a joy!!! to take care of their two Taiwanese Mountain dogs…:)…saved from a dog rescue their and shipped to Vancouver….My kids are going to Manila in December to celebrate the 100th B-Day of their great-grandmother, Guama, the Matriarch of their Mother’s side Clan, the Saez Co’s, who left Fukien in the great business clan exodus from China, during the pogrom of sorts, in the late 50s.

    The Chinese Mainland business clans, many who would have gone back 100s and 1000+ years, of all specializations, simply hit the road during these times, and rightly so, for their own survival…… to the US, Singapore, Manila, Taiwan, HK etc…. So an Auspicious year…!!!:)

    My kids Guama, as they call her, left with her husband and his printing presses, as that was and is their business going back as long as they can remembered they would eventually even print Hot Wheel boxes and Nescafe labels too…!!!:)

    My family was in Manila, at the end of WWII. My Uncle Hugh V. Clarke (wrote Last Stop Nagasaki) who was a POW at Nagasaki, also was taken there after his liberation. And my other uncle, serving on Morotai, RAAF, got a ride to Manila, after the end of the war, on a B-24 China Liberator Squadron plane to see his brother, so my family was there too. Hugh had been missing since the fall of Singapore in 1942, when Peter escaped and their brother, my uncle Dan, RAAF, died in England as a pilot in 1942. Funny as our families cross the globe across generations.

    What is my lifeline?

    It is that difference in us as Humans, in that, when you see a hive of Bees of Termites, regardless of how many there are or how many colonies, they will still create the same thing, in the same way…

    But we improve and one can never predict what our creations or Hives will look like in 100 or 1000 years or even how long we will live, as we learn how to live longer lives and learn faster…..

    I think the “Carrot” I chase, certainly has changed, from religious ideals as a kid and the 70s, 80s and 90s… reward-based, consumption-based, simple animal needs and joys and ego wants and needs as a kid and youth…which are still good and there, but controlled… and in those decades discarding religious orthodoxy…during the new-age era of sorts… but then to later respecting the Church(es) and the need for a “formal”, ethical base and compass direction in some kind of structured morality and I do see the benefits of religious ethics in our civilization, despite the negatives as well, and faith is positivity, in it’s essence as well, so all good.

    And while I tried to take walks into deserts as a youth, to testy myself, in the end, at least for myself, and maybe we all, get thrown out into our own deserts, just and otherwise… at some point or another and have to walk out of that desert again and understand enough of ourselves to come to terms with ourselves and our own “ethical bearings and goals”… and to also enjoy that insatiable, day-to-day curiosity and joy of life that we humans have…or should try to have…. of being excited that we never really know what we will come up with next…:)…!!!

    Einstein said it well for me, at this point in my life:

    “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”


  7. Timothy Clarke says:

    …and yes, I don’t mean it’s “Funny” per se about WWII and my Uncle Dan and Hugh etc… but I mean that as a younger person, I often disconnected myself and my family from “History”, when in fact, internationally, and inter-generationally, our families can touch many aspects of history as it were…. and I even ended up marrying a girl from Manila and having a family which is now connected to there……which my uncles never would have imagined sitting in Manila in 1945, being treated like royalty by the “Yanks”, who had liberated them and had a feast waiting for them in Manila…and in the late 90s, I had dinner and lunch one day at the home of president Estrada while there, which again, my uncles never would have imagined how their family would be intertwined with that land….and Mothers, Births etc…. the wheel of life I guess.

    Your Dad too I read was in WWII and got some really neat training too…:)… and your parents were in China in the 70s, in the earliest of times when it opened up again to the world for the first time since the WWII era. I guess I see History as a part of us more now, than as a mere “subject of the past”, it is “now” as well…!!!:)

  8. Here’s to quiet places! Especially without anchovies! (Actually I like them, as long as they haven’t been harpooned!) thanks for your faith. We all need it.

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