Friday, April 24, 2009

The old(ish) woman and the sea (kind of)

A spring storm blew in yesterday morning (high winds and sideways snow) and last night my man and I were set to hunker down with some luxurious morsels (meatballs, tater tots and Vitamin water) and watch a stimulating cinematic adventure (Snakes on a Plane).
But we got the call.
The captain (Libby) announced that the motherlode had arrived on the docks down on the Homer Spit. FREE FISH!
And not just any fish, my friends. It was black cod. The best, apparently, and highly coveted. I should clarify when I say fish, I mean heads and backbones. The fishing boats come in and get the fish filleted and then the rest usually gets ground up and sent to sea for the shore birds straight away. But tonight we had the pick of tons of leftovers which, when cooked up, makes a delicious, high fat meal and/or snacks for the dogs. At first, we hesitated as the wind whistled through our jackets, but after a short discussion we decided to head to sea for fish. It would be a fun adventure, a great opportunity to get the dogs some high-fat food, plus we hadn't done much that day because of the storm so we both felt like slugs. We armed ourselves with rubber gloves, boxes and bags, and a sturdy gaff (random stick we found in the truck) and headed out into the blizzard.
Only, by the time we were ready to go, the skies parted and the sun came out. Super!
We found paydirt down a road to a deep-fishing dock. Just outside the Homer Spit Grind Shack ('You find 'em, we grind 'em') we spotted huge totes full of heads, backbones and entrails. There were already a couple of dog mushers there pillaging the goods, but they left soon after we arrived. We got to work, sifting through the goo and glop for the precious heads and backbones, which, surprisingly, still had a lot of meat on them. There were two fishermen across from us at another big tote, cutting the extra meat from around the fish heads. They told us these meaty collars were great to eat when smoked. Huh. We managed to snag a few heads with meat collars still attached and are planning on sampling some of this divine black cod ourselves.
Upon first glance of the big, plastic tote of guts, I worried for a second that I might vomit. It's funny, sometimes I can stomach anything (runny dog poo, a bloody dog after a fight, raw meat and blood) but sometimes, my insides do one little flipflop upon the sight of raw animal goo and I promptly barf where I stand. I guess it doesn't even have to be animal goo. I threw up a few days ago when I spotted a dead fly in my coffee cup. (It touched my lips!!) But here, standing amongst smelly fish heads, random fish eyeballs, stringy guts, bloated guts, bloody guts and whole lot of thick fish slime, I was fine. Not even a gag or a burp.
We brought Roy with us and the little devil managed somehow to escape from the truck (I left the door open) while we were working. Our hearts sank when we looked behind us and saw Roy, tail wagging, ready to bolt down the dock. He's great loose, except when it's time to be caught and then he's a little bugger. But, to our surprise, he saw the fish, and the people, and the boats, and the gulls and immediately jumped back in the truck. I guess it was all too much for him.
We filled out bags and boxes, chatted with the fishermen and headed to the grocery for some celebratory ice cream before going home tired, stinky and satisfied.
This morning I had the task of unloading all the fish, dividing it into manageable bags and packing it into the freezer.
I guess this would be a good day for shower and laundry.

Guts! Glorious guts! Those grey heads are the cod.

Having fun with an idiot. What? Those pinkish fish are called Idiot Rock Fish. They're scary looking and not good for the dogs because they spiky fins, so we just had fun with them and then carried on collecting cod.

My man working hard.

Fishmen cutting off the collars.

This is a dog trailer that Rich built before we moved to Homer. Handsome and handy, what a find!

Libby's dog yard. Yes, this is where we work and play. Love it.

Our dog yard. It's quite compact for now, but in a nice spot. The dogs are happy, especially when we toss a few in the back of the truck and head to the beach!